"No reason," she said. "Why shouldn't we?"
"Because it's full," said Paul, flicking through the pages, "of platitudinous codswallop."
Ben and Lois giggled helplessly. "I thought 'platitudinous' was an animal they had in Australia," she said.
"The lesser-spotted platitudinous," said Benjamin, honking and squawking in imitation of this mythical beast.
"Take this leading article, for instance," Paul continued, undeterred. "'That precise pageantry which Britain manages so well keeps its hold on our hearts. There's nothing like a Royal Wedding for lifting our spirits.'"
"What about it?" said Sheila, stirring sugar into her tea. "I don't agree with everything I read in there."
"'As Princess Anne and Mark Phillips walked out of the Abbey, their faces broke into that slow, spreading smile of people who are really happy.'" Pass the sick bag, please! "'The Prayer Book may be three hundred years old, but its promises are as clear as yesterday's sunlight.'" Pukerocious! "'To have and to hold, for better for worse–'"
"That's quite enough from you, Mr. Know-All." The quiver in Sheila's voice was enough to expose, just for a second, the sudden panic her youngest son was learning to inspire in her. "Drink that up and put your pyjamas on."
More squabbling ensued, with Benjamin making his own shrill interventions, but Lois did not listen to any of it. These were not the voices with which she longed to surround herself. She left them to it and withdrew to her bedroom, where she was able to re-enter her world of romantic daydreams, a kingdom of infinite colour and possibility. As for Benjamin's copy of Sounds, she had found what she was looking for there, and had no further use for it. She would not even need to sneak down later and take another look, for the box number was easy to remember (it was 247, the same as the Radio One waveband), and the message she had seized upon was one of perfect, magical simplicity. Perhaps that was how she knew that it was meant for her, and her alone.
"Hairy Guy seeks Chick. Birmingham area."
Excerpted from The Rotters' Club by Jonathan Coe Copyright © 2002 by Jonathan Coe. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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