The anachrohumph: a definition

Yesterday evening after a long day spent reading – me the intriguing Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux and my partner a pile of dissertations for marking – we decided to plonk ourselves on the sofa and catch up with Endeavour, ITV’s prequel to Morse. Along with most of the UK, I seem to be hooked on quality crime TV although I rarely read crime fiction. Broadchurch, the BBC4 Scandi-crime roll call, not to mention The Sopranos and The Wire are all up there at the top of my viewing favourites. For most people, I’m sure, Endeavour is cosy, relaxing viewing but for us it’s fraught with tense moments which have little to do with the plot for, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my partner is a contemporary historian and the 60s are one of his stomping grounds. Things went pretty well last night, just a couple of phrases: ‘I’d like to speak with her’ – ‘to her’, we Rotters Clubchorused – followed by ‘they were gifted it’ which met with a groan but there have been so many harrumphs over anachronisms in the past that I felt moved to come up with a description and anachrohumph seems to fit the bill. The worst outbreak of anachrohumphing I can remember was twenty minutes into Stephen Poliakoff’s Glorious 39 when H anarchrohumphed right out of the cinema. Still, at least I was left in peace to enjoy the rest of the film. Ignorance really is bliss occasionally. Novels set a few decades ago are dangerous territory, then, but Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters’ Club passes the test with flying colours. Set in Birmingham, four school friends face the combined terrors of growing up in the 70s: strikes, IRA bombs not too mention appalling fashion. It’s a political novel with a seriously funny heart which excels when Coe turns his talents to the minutiae of British life. And it’s guaranteed anachrohumph-free.


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