The Third Policeman

The third book we chose to read was ‘The Rotters’ Club’ by Jonathan Coe. No one picked it, it just sort of emerged as a book several people fancied reading. We all really liked it. It was set in Birmingham…in the 1970s…and it had lots of cultural references we could relate to given our ages (we had to explain some of them to Jules). That was in February 2009 and from that point onwards we just slipped in to calling ourselves The Rotters’ Club.

Fast forward to the autumn of 2016 and we were fast approaching our 100th book. We thought it would be neat if Jonathan Coe, our unwitting patron, could choose what we read for this auspicious milestone. As luck would have it the Birmingham Rep was putting on a production of The Rotters’ Club. None of us was organised enough to realise until all the tickets had gone. But we spotted him tweeting about the play. A short period of stalking then ensued and we eventually got Jonathan’s email address. Surprisingly quickly he said he’d love to choose a book for us and ‘The Third Policeman’ was it. Most of us had never heard of it but Jonathan Allen… who is slightly more…er…mature…disappeared off into his library (sounds grander than it is) returning with this dusty old copy from his misspent youth…


Tradition has it that whoever has chosen the book hosts the meeting where we discuss it. They also kick things off by explaining why they chose it. We waited and waited for an invite to Chez Coe but nothing happened. We discussed Skype but on the night we were due to meet Jonathan was travelling to France. So he very kindly recorded us this message:

Two pieces of shock news.

  1. Just heard an episode of The Unbelievable Truth on Radio 4 which was actually funny;
  2. David O’Doherty had the amazing fact that there are reckoned to be 100,000 more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are people.

It sounds as though there might be something in this Third Policeman stuff.


1 Comment

  1. Tom mcelkerney

    Stoner, a revelation,sad, a sense of fatalism, the dignity of Stoner and his acceptance, the moment he discovered literature had a real presence,it made me take a hard look at some things, I would recommend this for anyone’s bucket list as a must read

    Liked by 1 person

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