The story of Vintage Stuff is about a teenage boy by the name of Peregrine Roderick Clyde-Brown. He is not just naïve or dimwitted but also a sort of bumbling savage. While the same thing can be said of many other boys his age, what unfortunately makes him stand far apart from his fellow students is his proclivity towards following through on anything said to him. The most innocently said thing is always taken literally by our protagonist.
Obviously, no school wants anything to do with him, especially when he starts folding foliage when he is told to turn over a new leaf!! But after a lot of cajoling, coaxing and heavy amount of bribing his parents successfully manage to get him admission at Groxbourne. Where the faculty feels that Peregrine’s knack for taking the smallest order literally and not having a single individual thought, will make him a promising candidate for the British Army. At Groxbourne, Peregrine meets the unusual headmaster Gladstone, whose teaching methods include lashing among other things.
What follows is true to Tom Sharpe’s style of writing. Gladstone manages to take Peregrine on a mysterious journey which does start in England, but soon crosses borders into France, and lands up exploding with Peregrine storming a French castle. If that wasn’t enough Peregrine does manage some mischief, mayhem and above all a murder within the French castle.
Tom Sharpe out does himself with this novel, especially by displaying a wonderful command over the English language and allowing the readers to truly enjoy all its nuances and innuendos. A boy who takes every order and command, no matter how innocently said, literally. Together with a headmaster who is just a little beyond extreme, the duo manage to stir up enough trouble which results in car crashes, shootings and chaos.
Though the novel feels a bit dated, it is an enjoyable and entertaining read. As always, one can expect larger than life situations, unrealistic characters and a completely insane plot which creates a fast moving witty book full of twists and unexpected surprises. Do not expect it to make sense, but you can expect a delightful play on words, and typical wry British humor which is showcased beautifully through Peregrine’s actions.
Like all of Tom Sharpe’s other books, this one too, is a quick read which will leave you in splits from the word go. If you have read a Sharpe book before, then you know what you are in for; but if you haven’t, then buckle down for complete anarchy.