Sunday, 26 February 2012
Term of Trial
Author: James Barlow
Year of publication: 1961, Penguin edition 1973
Back cover blurb: Graham Wier, a timid, middle-aged teacher, drinks to ignore the jibes of his discontented wife and to forget the taunts of his rough pupils at the Railway Street Secondary School.
Filled with self-disgust, he is ready to respond with affection and professional interest when fifteen-year old Shirley Taylor falls in love with him.
Only to find himself facing trial on a charge of indecent assault.
In the dock, deserted by his friends and despised by his wife, Graham Weir suddenly recovers the courage of his ideals to fight the small-minded prejudice that surrounds him.
Quick flick reveals: This book is just like that Police song, 'Walking on the Moon'. From just a brief look it seems to be a superior exploration of a well-trodden theme. You can almost feel the pre-swinging sixties grimness wafting off the page like coal dust. One definitely for the 'to read' pile. (There's a film version from 1962 starring Laurence Olivier. Also stars Thora Hird, and therefore surely a must-see.)
Random paragraph: 'Then he heard the well-remembered, shrieky, detestable voice of Riley. And what Riley was shouting was "Hit her in the tits! Hit her in the tits!" They like, Sylvan-Jones had said, to boast of their affairs, and this was Riley encouraging someone else's amours, no doubt.'