After the Timewaster Letters last week, there’s more fun and frivolity with the Timewaster Diaries (2007) right here, right now. Created by English comedic producer and writer Robert Popper, this one is about the rather quintessentially British Robin Cooper and his detailing of the regularly strange incidents he gets himself wrapped up in.
Having covered this character in the Timewaster Letters as what must have started as a silly joke, Popper goes a step further and creates a fully living, breathing world for the ebullient Cooper. This diary covers a year of his life and takes in many strange occurrences along the way – as with much of British life, these are fairly mundane occurrences which are warped in various ways to get a laugh out of you. Hurray!
The Timewaster Diaries
The diary begins with Cooper fired from his job for wasting company time by writing letters. Unemployed and seeking work, he heads out into British society whilst dealing with his functioning alcoholic friend, who has taken up partial residence in Cooper’s garden shed, trying to find new work, and handling the many and varied peculiar incidents he gets involved in (often of his own making).
Cooper also has a 40 year long pen pal relationship with a German named Gunter Schwartz. This develops into something of a “saga” as Schwartz describes an ongoing issue with “house handles” which leaves Cooper and his wife perplexed, despite analysing the potential meaning thoroughly.
They conclude it must be “Something that is only ever used by Swiss Germans and no one else in the world.” His pen pal even journeys over to Britain for a peculiar stay, where their lifestyle differences clash and Schwartz spends most of his time asleep.
The Timewaster Diaries is sweet natured, funny, and it captures the eccentric British reserve which exists to this day amongst, particularly, the older generations. Stephen Fry rated it highly and it remains simply a fun, upbeat book to read. As such, we can recommend it if you’re in the mood for some considerate light entertainment which will make you giggle.
Look Around You
Popper is found of playfully lampooning Britishness, which is evident in this book but also the cult TV show Look Around You. It ran for two series from 2002-2005 and harked back to the 1970s and the seemingly awkward, less streamlined version of television which was around back then.
Popper and Peter Serafinowicz wrote and performed in the show. The latter is another lesser known comedy star of England who has appeared in the likes of Spitting Image, Spaced, Alan Partridge, Little Britain, South Park, Shaun of the Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy, and he also got his film break (due to his exceptional voice acting skills) as the voice of Darth Maul in the disastrous Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999). Busy body, eh?!