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27 March 2014

Robert Glancy: Terms and Conditions

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Life is all about the details - LOL
Robert Glancy has written a, frequently very amusing, short gem of a book about Frank, a lawyer who specialises in the small print conditions in contracts. Frank is especially sought out by insurance companies because he is an expert in the use of "Force Majeure" (Act of God) - the ultimate opt-out clause to ensure that everything from weather to unforeseen incidents will get his client off the hook.

One day Frank wakes up in hospital after a serious auto accident with amnesia. Slowly he regains some memory of who he was, his family and what he does. Glancy documents Frank's recovery in the same way as his contracts, with frequent footnotes in small print. The largest block of small print is when he has sex with his wife Alice for the first time after the accident. Afterwards (still in small print) Frank observes that he still doesn't remember or really know his wife.

The real gem of the story comes as Frank slowly regains his memory and realises what a wimp he was and still is and how he has been manipulated by his family, wife and friends into becoming what he is. His wife Alice ignores him and is absorbed in her work as an HR Executive and his elder brother, Oscar, as head of the family law firm, treats him as a minor but valued employee who enhances the firm's coffers by producing watertight contracts that nobody reads.The only person who stands out from the crowd is his brother Malcolm (Malc) who sends him amusing emails about his meaningless travels around the world (from the very descriptive email address - fuckthis@hotmail.com).

Gradually Frank realises what a mess his old life was. After a lot of soul searching, one day he decides that he has to do something to change things. His first momentous decision was to change the font size of the small print in his contracts from Arial Eight to Arial Nine. His response is "Wow! I considered going to ten but, easy now, that was too radical." His changes from then become more radical and pretty hilarious, especially the ending.

My only reservation about this book is the small print. The publisher, following the spirit of the book, decided to print it in a font size that was smaller than my reading comfort zone (and with specs I have perfect vision) and the small print was almost impossible to read. Like the new Frank I would have preferred the font to be increased by at least one size.

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