Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Mr Jones’ Rules for the Modern Man: Dylan Jones, 13—25 August, 2011.
My rating: ♦♦◊◊◊
Here are Mr Taylor’s Rules for the Modern Reader of the Above Book:
They tell you never to judge a book by its cover. This book’s cover is brilliantly designed for its subject matter, has ringing endorsements from Simon Cowell (who I like) and Jeremy Clarkson (who I don’t) and makes Dylan Jones sound like he’s worth listening to. But, like the photo of a dish on the packaging of a cheap ready meal, it doesn’t quite turn out like that.
Let’s get the so-called rules out of the way first. There’s a wide range, from the serious to the silly, and some are actually quite useful. ‘How to jump-start a car’, for instance, is probably something every man should know how to do. I didn’t, and now I do, and it’s the sort of rule this book was right to include. ‘How to ask for a pay rise’ raised a good point – why would your boss pay you extra for doing your job well, when it’s what you’re paid to do anyway?
On the other hand, ‘How to stop a fight’ was ridiculous (Hug the guy? Really?), ‘How to buy a second-hand car’ failed to make any mention of how to haggle, and as for skiing advice from a man who can’t ski… Other tips, such as ensuring you have had meaningless sex with a minor celebrity by the age of 30 and ‘How to behave at a lap dancing club’ betray Jones’ view of ‘the modern man’ as being little more than an overgrown modern boy. I’m not sure I agree with his definition.
But my biggest problem by a long way with Mr Jones’ Rules isn’t the rules. It’s Mr Jones.
Dylan Jones is obviously very satisfied with his lot. He seems to have it ‘together’ to be able to give such presumptuous advice. Almost every rule has some mention of his designer clothes, his fancy car, expensive hotels, expensive restaurants, expensive cologne, bespoke suit, Rolex watch, pricey golf clubs… He is also a serial name dropper. No anecdote is complete without throwing in a few stars he’s rubbed shoulders with, like Jonathan Ross (twice), Jeremy Clarkson (him again) or even Tony Blair. He might think it makes him sound impressive, but if he needs to cling to a polite nod from A-listers who probably doesn’t know who he is to give him credibility, his opinions suddenly seem less inspiring.
Other annoying habits include persistent use of one-word sentences to emphasise a point. Constantly. (That was an example). Used sparingly, yes they add emphasis. Used on a per-page basis, it gets annoying. If the word is important, use it in the actual sentence, and if it isn’t, don’t. He’s also obsessed with reminding us at every opportunity that he is editor of GQ. In fact, I expect the magazine paid him commission to name it, refer to it, cite excerpts from it and allude to it at every conceivable opportunity, no matter how unnecessary or forced. It’s probably printed on the paper of recycled issues.
Basically, I started the book having never heard of Dylan Jones and finished it wishing I still hadn’t heard of him. His tone is the most pompous, arrogant, self-obsessed I have heard in a long time. Certainly, I’ve had to plough through books with boring plots or poor writing, but never – I mean never – have I ever had to resist the urge to abandon a book purely because the author himself is personally getting on my wick.
I like the drawings – they break up the page and make it look interesting – but they lost their charm after they used the same “Mr Jones” name card about five times and the two glasses about four. It just made it look like cheap clip art and lacked imagination. Surely the editor of the most successful upmarket magazine (we’re told) would have noticed the repetitive drawings?
What would have made the book better is to have each section written by an expert in the field. An etiquette expert, a health expert, a management expert and so on. I find it hard to believe Jones is an expert of all fields, and this falseness makes what he does know about it ring just as hollow.
I learned two things from this book. First – David Cameron duets in karaoke, and this indicated to Jones he may one day form a successful coalition government (if you take ‘success’ loosely, a fair insight for a book published in 2007). Second – if the modern man really is the one described in Jones’s book, I hope I never, ever meet one.