A Wayne in a Manger (by Gervase Phinn)

I’ve enjoyed reading the pseudo-biographical books by Gervase Phinn, in a low-key way, over the years. They’re the kind of books often found second hand, and I’ve managed to pick up several of them. My most recent acquisition is one dubbed ‘Hilarious and hair-raising’ by the Sunday Times on the front of the cover. In almost new condition, it cost me less than a euro at the local thrift store.

I decided to read ‘A Wayne in a Manger’ on a very hot Sunday when I wanted to sit in the air conditioning and do as little as possible. The irony of it being about Christmas anecdotes in Yorkshire had not escaped me.

It’s a small volume and I hoped for a bit of lighthearted entertainment. It turns out that much of the book contains stories or anecdotes that have already been used in some of the author’s other books, although they have been somewhat embellished, and (in my view) few of them were memorable enough for me to have remembered them. Indeed, the only one that felt familiar was the opening story about a rather hapless Vicar trying to tell the nativity story to a class of small and enthusiastic children. The punch-line was unfortunately foreshadowed in the title of the book, so lost its punch entirely, but it was still a pleasant read.

Other stories, each one only a few page long, detailed events in the Christmas period, or describing classroom nativity plays, where mistakes, misunderstandings and general cuteness feature prominently. I don’t think I laughed aloud anywhere; ‘Hilarious’ is rather an exaggeration, but I was mildly amused, and very much appreciated the glimpses into environments which are mostly unfamiliar to me outside the pages of this author’s books.

It was a quick read; at less than 150 pages I completed it in about an hour, and it certainly fulfilled the requirement of being light and - in some measure - entertaining.

Recommended in a low-key way if you can pick it up inexpensively, and like reading anecdotes about small children at Christmas, but I wouldn’t suggest paying full price for it, other than perhaps as a gift.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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