In part 1 of this series, I took a look at the splendid index to I, Partridge, the first official book by Alan Partridge. Partridge, a parody TV and radio presenter, is an established British comedy character played by Steve Coogan for the last 25 years. Alan Partridge: Nomad (authored by Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons and Steve Coogan) has just been published by Trapeze/Orion Publishing and is described on the blurb as ‘the beautifully punctuated follow-up to the author’s 2012 memoir I, Partridge’. In Nomad, Partridge is on a mission to walk 160 miles from his childhood home in Norwich (a fine city) to recreate a journey in The Footsteps of his FatherTM. Here’s Partridge’s stab at the original logo for the walk.
The book (and audiobook narrated by Steve Coogan) is again hilarious and, as with I, Partridge, contains a few extra treats in its index.
Love interests and other women
There are fewer references (only two mentions) this time round to Alan’s crush on Sue Cook, the real British TV presenter. This may be explained by the footnote entry found on page 108:
It’s funny that she’s called Sue Cook when she can’t cook, but she will sue.
Partridge’s affections seem to have transferred somewhat to another real TV presenter (conveniently a more regular sight on British TV nowadays than Sue Cook):
- Bradbury, Julia 10–11, 12, 13, 193, 223
His most recent girlfriend, as with girlfriends past in the first index, is known only by her first name but does have a whole chapter devoted to her, Chapter 28, ‘My Angel(a)’.
- Angela, 169, 179, 236, 238–46
After a passionate time, the relationship ends badly after Partridge sends a foolish text message to Melanie from Accounts (‘I want to play your bum like the bongos’, p.244). The last page reference to Angela finishes simply with a footnote: ‘Call me.’
Angela still fares better than Partridge’s long-suffering assistant, whom we know to be Lynn from his TV shows. Her name is never used in the main text of Nomad (nor in I, Partridge), always being referred to as ‘my assistant’, even in reported phone calls:
‘[My assistant],’ I say. ‘Calm down. Who’s everyone?’ (p.226)
She appears throughout the book, helping Partridge on his travels, but never by name (aside from one footnote entry noting a Lynn Benfield as his house guarantor, p.16) and she is not included in the index. Very Partridge.
As with the first book, there are many real TV personalities namechecked in the book index, including a return for Bill Oddie, ex-Goodie and birdwatcher (cast into a sulk on page 164 when Partridge calls seagulls ‘the jackals of the sky’). There’s some newer TV star names now too, including Nick Knowles (‘a big man with a craggy face’, p.221), Matt Allwright (‘whose surname is probably about fair’, p.53) and Steve Backshall (whose career is ‘[m]arooned in the no man’s land between Bear Grylls and Terry Nutkins’, p.157).
Special mention here for Noel Edmonds, or rather, as he appears in the index:
- Edmonds 62, 122, 123–30
Partridge’s dislike of the real Noel Edmonds warrants an entire chapter (also just entitled ‘Edmonds’). As Partridge explains in a footnote:
I won’t dignify him with his full name. Besides, he signs his emails and legal letters ‘Edmonds’, so he started it. (p.123)
You can read an extract from the ‘Edmonds’ chapter here (or listen to Steve Coogan narrating it). Suffice to say, Alan Partridge is not a fan.
One last special mention for another indexed name – a fictional but good one:
- Tweeed, Godfrey (scam man) 202
Odds and sods
There are many little gems sprinkled liberally throughout the index. (Fellow indexers may wish to wince or look away from the non-alphabetical subheading order.)
- physical strength 231
- aeronautic capability 232
- Corsodyl Mouthwash, brand ambassadorship of 24
- (buy Corsodyl Mouthwash, the best mouthwash there is)
- Countryfile, that woman who sued 10
- Haddaway, a man that looked like 257
- Jam bombs 149
- Jambon 149
- Last Post, the
- whistled while miming a bugle 36
- actually bugled, albeit badly 213
- Netflix, Christ’s opinion on 265
- Phalanx, nice use of the word 73
- Quite superb physical condition (QSPC) 35, 36, 37, 41, 106, 276
Breaking the rules well…
Some fun has been had here with see cross-references (and what not to do with them):
- I (Alan Partridge) 1–285
- Partridge, Alan – see I
- Sidekick Simon (see Simon, Sidekick)
- Simon, Sidekick (see Denton, Simon)
When you do finally arrive at the right entry for Denton, this itself is split into two subheadings, one the aforementioned Simon, the other being Alan Partridge’s Norwich home:
- Abbey 16, 28, 241
- Simon 21, 22, 61–3, 179, 180, 239, 267, 268, 271
Surnames are split into separate subheadings a few times for completely different people (real and fictional), which is certainly not standard indexing practice:
- Eamonn 26n, 98, 152, 166n, 227, 230
- Sherlock and possible homosexual relationship with Watson 87–8
- Brian 63n
- James 76n
…and breaking them badly
Unfortunately there are several entries in the index which contain many long strings of page numbers (or ‘locators’ in indexer parlance). This is a pretty standard no-no in the indexing world. (See here for fellow indexer Denise Sutherland’s recent discussion of why this is A Bad Thing.) Basically, it aids the reader to find what they need if these are broken down into subheadings. It would have added extra humour to the index too, as was the case with the first index to I, Partridge.
The entry for Lionel Gordon Partridge contains 30 undifferentiated locators. Breaking this down into subheadings could have helped considerably and added some amusement, for example:
- Partridge, Lionel Gordon (AP’s father)
- as absolute sod of a man 31
- disbelief in savings 27–8
- familiar leer 24
- sandwich receipts 30
Likewise with the entries this time round for Norwich and Norfolk, which are also just lengthy strings of locators (with some being only ‘passing mentions’; see Potomac Indexing’s recent blog here for more on what they are). These too could have been expanded with subheadings taken from the book text, such as perhaps:
- aceness of orchestras 136
- as cultural hotbed 134–5
- dance roster of 135
On a related note, there’s some wonderful wording in the text that I would have liked to see included as extra index entries. Here’s a sample suggested few:
- avian depression see Sad Pheasant Syndrome
- chiropodal dexterity 10
- id-port (ideas portfolio) 13
- Sad Pheasant Syndrome 39
- Shortburst Underwater Crying 271
- ‘Snogle’ (Dan Snow and Ben Fogle) 38
- somnambuscepticism 15
What I find particularly galling about this is that the book contains seven blank ‘Notes’ pages at the back of the book. These are prefaced by a lengthy footnote by Partridge regarding the ins and outs of offset printing:
I encroached eight pages into a fresh signature and that meant there were eight fallow pages left over […] But what can I do? […] Say nothing and avoid drawing attention to it? No, I will do none of those things. Instead, I give these pages over to you, the reader to record any ideas, feelings or fantasies that occur as you read. (p.285)
All very well, and pretty amusing in itself, but also rather irritating when a longer and perhaps better (and funnier) index could have used up some of these empty pages. Gah.
So, another brilliant Partridge book with another pretty good and rather funny index. With my indexer’s hat on, I would have to say that the I, Partridge index is a better working index with no major indexing rules broken, is a good deal more comprehensive (three pages longer than the Nomad one) and is a fair bit more entertaining due to its expanded subheadings taken from the book text. There’s still much fun to be had in the Nomad index. Just such a shame about all those wasted blank pages…
Part 3 of this blog series will be up soon on the index to Toast on Toast: Cautionary Tales and Candid Advice, another spoof memoir of British TV comedy character and renowned thespian Steven Toast. Here’s a little preview clip of the man himself which is currently doing the shamelessly early pre-Christmas rounds on British TV. Yeees.
New year’s update (05/01/17)
I was delighted to discover that my blog on the Nomad index was given a kind mention in Sam Leith’s book review of Alan Partridge: Nomad for the Guardian newspaper, which appeared in its print version on Christmas Eve. You can also read the book review on the Guardian website here. Thank you Sam and welcome new readers. If any of you can point me towards other amusing book indexes, I’d love to hear from you. (Please leave a comment or tweet me @PC_Bain.)