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by P.J Vanston

Release Date: 1st Mar 2010
Publisher: Troubador
ISBN: 978 1 8487 6285 5
RRP: £7.99

Average Customer Rating: 
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Never, ever judge a book by its cover…

Similar in vein to
Education, Edukation, Edukashun
; Crump casts a critical eye over the British Education system – specifically, the alleged dumbing down of our universities. Intended as a darkly comical, yet loaded with truisms; Crump holds no punches – neither in terms of its use of very strong language, nor in its roughshod treatment of the inner workings of higher education.

From the first page, Vanston launches his attack; with a group of school children threatening our protagonist (Kevin Crump) with a “kicking” if he doesn’t stop smiling. Both the unabashed aggression and Crump’s immediate compliance serve as a hard-lined portrayal of modern British society and certainly send the message that Vanston means business.

Crump is a mildly ambitious, ginger-haired, bespectacled teacher given his first stint as a university lecturer. The impressive buildings shelter a more impressive management ethos: equal opportunities rule. Not necessarily a bad sentiment, but it the exaggerated lengths that management go to in order to enforce the perception of equal opportunities that falls foul of the author. Vanston walks the precariously fine line between astute observation and bitter derision and risk his valid arguments getting lost in the dross of banality and internalised deliberations of Crump. Those arguments being highly emotive: how far can we as a country go to “include” other cultures before we lose our own? When does political correctness turn into a self-restraining straitjacket? In empowering minorities, how far do we sideline the majority?

Crump is a stinging condemnation of how we have lost sight of the trees for the forest. Its comedic aspects are darker than dark, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. In fact, there will be, no doubt, those who will find this book unpalatable and perhaps offensive. Other will proclaim disgust loudly; whilst quietly agreeing with the vast majority of the author’s sentiments. In our terribly PC world, it is becoming increasingly rare for an author to express certain opinions. As Crump himself discovers, when it gets to the stage that even the appearance of racism, bigotries, sexism or any of the other modern “isms” can get you in trouble – you know it’s all gone to madness. And a mad world is a dangerous one.

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