Squire Haggard’s Journal / Michael Green

“Dec. 11: Rain. Mortalities: the Back, 4; the Bones, 3; the Bowels, 5; By Own Hand, 1.”

Amos Haggard is a Gentleman who owns a debt-ridden estate in rural Britain. He is also a drunkard, a gambler who cheats every chance he gets, a person who constantly kicks/expectorates on/or fires his pistols at poachers, dissenters and foreigners. If you haven’t guessed, Squire Haggard’s Journal, covering the years 1777 and 1778, is a parody of a gentleman’s diary. Michael Green, with tongue firmly in cheek, delightfully brings to life this time period, warts and all, with no consideration for political correctness.

“May 13: Thunder. Mortalities: Restriction of The Fluid, 2; Removal of the Stone, 1. In addition Amos Nettlebed was jumping up and down on the grave of Thos. Cartwright (who died owg. him sixpence) when he slipped and fell and broke his skull and is not like to live.”

Bawdy is the operative word here. Squire Haggard spends a good part of his time carousing with prostitutes or chasing after servant girls. While he is crass, cruel, and a person one would not want to encounter in real life, his escapades and debauched behavior makes for hilarious reading. Riddled with debt and often fleeing from creditors or other Gentlemen that he has insulted, Haggard is quite adept at getting himself in and out of trouble.

“Oct. 1: Drizzle. Jas Sudwell died from The Exploding Palpitations. He owed me sixpence. This morning an earthquake occurred. On awakening, I sat up to throw away a bottle of port I was clutching when to my astonishment the whole room began to vibrate and reel round…It was some time before the earthquake ceased, yet nobody else in the house perceived it. Such are the mysteries of Nature.”

Squire Haggard first appeared in a regular column in the Daily Telegraph in the 1960s and was so popular that his exploits were eventually adapted for British TV in 1990. Squire Haggard’s Journal appeared in book form in 1975 and was updated with new content twenty-five years later. For anyone who appreciates silly British humor, this journal will delight and satisfy. Most of Haggard’s diary entries open with a weather report, followed by a list of the deaths in the community and the cause. But mainly the focus is on his growing debt, gambling, politics, and laments about having to occasionally travel when sober. Reading this romp is a guilty pleasure from beginning to end.

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