Top positive review
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 December 2020
After reading at the weekend about a couple in Yorkshire who due to living on top of council boundaries, have found that their garden is in a different tier to their house with the current Covid restrictions, I immediately thought of this hilarious novel, and thus have got around to reading it yet once again. First published in 1963 this has all the hallmarks of the wonderful wit of the author and is always a joy to read.
Set in Ireland so with the republic being born it is necessary to draw up the border between Eire and Northern Ireland, and thus we find out what happens to the sleepy village of Puckoon. We are first introduced to this place with its eccentric characters, most noticeably a certain Dan Milligan. As the border is marked out on the land so we see that although Puckoon mainly stays in Eire so there are also parts in Northern Ireland, most noticeably part of the graveyard, and a small corner of the pub, where due to different taxation drinks can be bought cheaper in this two-foot area of the bar.
With the IRA trying to smuggle explosives across the border in a coffin, so the local priest wants to bring back Catholics buried on the Protestant side of the graveyard over to the Irish side, and thus reinter them in Catholic ground, so you know that mayhem will ensue. As this is Spike Milligan so the jokes come thick and fast, with a certain surreal element. The thing that always sticks in my mind is that when the graveyard is initially split with a customs house on the land, so any corpse crossing the border needs a passport with entry visa, and someone has to get the visa renewed each year. This is like something out of Kafka and very funny. As you would expect, the story does go off in tangents, and so we have an officer who served in the Raj ready to hit any dark-skinned person due to an unfortunate encounter with an Indian quack.
Probably most people reviewing this are like me and have therefore read this before, but if you are coming to this for the first time, then be warned that there are occasions when you will laugh out loud.