The first of the post-war World Fairs was held in Brussels in 1958: I remember it well. Jonathan Coe captures the flavour of it in his recent Expo 58 [London: Viking, 2014]. One of my own tweed designs was on show in the British Pavilion and for no better reason than that I travelled over to see it and to gaze in awe at the many international stands dominated by those of the USA and the USSR, rivals in everything from industry to ideology. What did Britain hope to gain from its participation? Coe sums up where Britain was starting from.
Twenty-five years on, Jonathan Coe has written a fascinating sequel to his satire of the nineteen-eighties. Number 11 [London: Viking, 2015] in which he now sends up the early years of this century. Coe is a talented novelist with a gift for pointing up the absurdity and selfishness of a certain type of person; in simple terms the haves, at the expense of the have nots. He is also a master of his craft as a novelist.