An easy to read series of books

I like to mention books on this blog which are easy to get hold of for everyone. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy tracking down and reading obscure books as much as anyone…Sir Charles Grandison was eighteen months in the tracking down and a long time in the reading…

A set of books which has turned up (in part) on The Book People (who do some great fiction collections), second hand book shops and libraries is Jack Sheffield’s Teacher series.  They are variously entitled Teacher Teacher, Mister Teacher and Please Sir.

  

I believe that this is the first in the series of five, but frankly it’s not a disaster if you read them out of order, as I did ( starting with the last, typically). This one is set in 1977, and they go into the 8os, each book being devoted to one academic year in the life of Ragley village school.

Jack Sheffield writes about his time as headteacher from his appointment onwards, and having taught in schools in small communities I recognised many of the types and incidents that he depicts, even some years later. I liked his descriptions of the staff and pupils, even though I knew some of the puns that his pupils wrote in their books could be found in any school anywhere. The community of pub, shops and other local worthies was fascinating in the same way as the Village series by Rebecca Shaw can be. Daft events, remarkable coincidences and seemingly huge problems are happily resolved within the chapter. These are comfortable books, easy to pick up and become involved in, presenting a picture of Britain as it probably never actually was, but we would like to believe still is, somewhere. There are endless topical references to politics, and the Royal family, which we can now view with the benefit of hindsight. There is a lot here about the tv, the clothes, the food we used to eat, the obsessions in a simpler, pre internet age.

These are truly easy to read books, with only minor crisis to resolve, although the most recent paperback finishes in a cliffhanger that is a bit mean as the next book is still not available in any form (I think). They are the book form of British soap operas, but much more cheerful! ( I rarely watch the British soaps, but have been known to watch Neighbours as Pantomime – every day) These books are worth borrowing from the library or buying cheaply secondhand; a blissfully uncomplicated read when more literary fiction just seems too much like hard work…

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