Feeling flat following the grand finale of ‘The Durrells’ TV series? Missing Corfu?
And I’m especially gutted about the end of the romance between Louisa and Spiro. Okay, it was inevitable – of course, he couldn’t leave his children behind on Corfu! And we all knew it would end this way, but that doesn’t make the ending any less painful.
With my head full of disappointment – even us adults need the occasional happy ending, a light appeared in the midst of my sorrow. Alright, the light is actually a book, but we all have our own medicinal passions, and books just happen to be the one and only essential item in my first aid box.
In this case, the book is particularly cheery, being authored by none other than Gerry – the youngest Durrell. Another factor lightening my mood is the knowledge that I spotted ‘Look at Zoos’ in a random selection of pay-what-you-like-us secondhand books at Tesco. Gerry Durrell! I could hardly believe it and, before my sanity returned (it never returned) I found myself feeding coins into the charity box (and no, I didn’t notice what charity it was for – I was high on excitement) and taking my new ‘baby’* home with me.
You’re right! Well spotted – that ‘Look at Zoos’ is a children’s book title, and that being middle-aged I am clearly not a child. But, come on, admit it. Like myself, your all-time-all-favourite books were aimed at children and, like myself, you first read these books when a fully-grown, full-functioning adult. And, like myself, you read them over and over and over again. So, bring on …
Gerald Durrell’s ‘Look at Zoos’!
Reading Time: 30 mins max.
Reliability as a cure for sadness: 10/10
It’s truly a delightful book and I would highly recommend treating it as a manual for how to survive in the modern-day workplace. So amazing that Gerry, the free-spirit, who spurned all attempts to reign him in, should be so generous as to share his survival tips with those of us who feel similarly crushed. Take this example;
‘Don’t tease the animals (boss). Don’t poke an animal (boss) to wake it up if it’s asleep. Don’t feed (do disturb) the animals (the boss and his/her cronies) where the notice on the cage (their office doors) says you mustn’t. Don’t rush madly from cage to cage (boring task to next boring task), because in this way you will miss seeing the most interesting things (e.g. your boss’ flies being undone, following a session with his/her employee of the week), for whether you observe an animal (your boss) in the wilds (showing his/her face amongst the plebs) or in a zoo (the loo (NOT RECOMMENDED!)) the important thing is to be patient. Keep a notebook and see how many interesting things you can record about the animals (him/her). In this way I hope that you will find a zoo (your workplace) twice as enjoyable to go to.’ (Durrell; pp.95-96)
So, to sum up this review – for a short-lived, but nonetheless very uplifting, medicinal reprieve from sadness, read all about anteaters, elephants and hawks, courtesy of a very knowledgeable Durrell!
And, then, for a long-term-follow-up dose of pick-me-up drug, read every single one (almost up to 400!) of Jay Cool’s very, very, silly blog posts.
Breaking news: If no-one local to you happens to donate their used copy of ‘Look at Zoos’ to Tesco, then you could always purchase the said book from Amazon via the arrow below (non-commission link).
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, May 2019
*Mrs Hinch – take note! Books are babies; cleaning sponges are – just cleaning sponges!
N.B. Jay Cool would like you to know that the words in brackets are not quoted directly from Gerald Durrell’s book, which is why they are better than Durrell’s words, i.e. Gerry was not female, and neither was he silly or savvy (i.e. Jay Cool has the edge!).