Adrian, Nigel, and a magazine they'd get in trouble for possessing.
A series of books, written as journals, by Sue Townsend, centering around the life of Adrian Mole, a British everyman. It starts out when he's 13¾, and the series runs until his early forties (at least). Books in the series:
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (pub. 1982; covers events 1981-82; Adrian is aged 13¾ to 15)
The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (pub. 1985; covers events 1982-83; Adrian is aged 15 to 16)
The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole (pub. 1989; covers events 1984-89; Adrian is aged 17 to 22)
Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians (pub. 1991 as part of Adrian Mole: The Lost Years; covers events 1990-91; Adrian is aged 22 to 24)
Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (pub. 1993; covers events 1991-92; Adrian is aged 24 to 25)
Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (pub. 1999; covers events 1997-98; Adrian is aged 30 to 31)
Diary of a Provincial Man (serialised in The Guardian 1999-2001; covers events 1999-2001; Adrian is aged 32 to 33) (published in book form as The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001)
Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (pub. 2004; covers events 2002-03; Adrian is aged 34 to 36)
Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (pub. 2009; covers events 2007-08; Adrian is aged 39 to 40)
This work provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: Adrian's parents border on neglectful, although it is played for laughs.
Ambiguous Gender: In order to go to see his current crush, who works at a creche, Adrian borrows one of the neighbours' young children. He doesn't know the child's name and is not sure of their gender, so books them into the creche under the name Emily. He's banned from the creche when the staff had to change the child's nappy and discovered they certainly aren't an Emily.
Pandora. Beautiful, witty, Head Girl of her school, doctorate from Oxford, fluent in at least five languages, MP and published author, to list just a few of her achievements.
Brett Mole is a widely acclaimed author, filmmaker, ladies' man, millionaire stock trader, wit and almost everything Adrian would like to be ... until Brett loses his money during the 2008 recession.
Barry Kent could be considered this as well, since he becomes a widely admired poet...much to Adrian's consternation, as he believes Barry cannot read and Adrian desperately wants to be recognized as a genius poet (or recognized as being ANYTHING wonderful, for that matter).
After having been a housewife and mother to a large family for many years, Barry's mother Edna graduates with two first-class degrees, begins a successful career in middle age, and wins awards for her academic papers while Adrian's own life is falling apart. He's stunned.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At one point, Adrian goes to see a psychotherapist who engages him in an exercise to pretend that a chair is his mother and tell "her" why she has disappointed him. The therapist encourages Adrian to be angrier, but he's already said everything he could think of to say, and continues with "... and I hate your Country 'n' Western CDs"
Author Avatar: The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole features Sue Townsend as an actual character, whom Adrian believes is stalking him and trying to pass off his diaries as her own works of fiction. She also appears in True Confessions, where the opening blurb explains that Adrian sued her for this.
Bigger Bad: Adrian's family, his father in particular, consider Margaret Thatcher to be this given the state of his employment history.
Birth-Death Juxtaposition: In The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, elderly Queenie dies shortly after Adrian's sister is born, and he reflects at her funeral that she had to die in order to "make way" for the baby.
Bittersweet Ending: Most of the books tend to end this way, most notably The Wilderness Years where Adrian has lost Bianca and his flat is burgled, but starts a new relationship with Jo Jo and a possible career as a chef and The Prostrate Years where Daisy leaves him, but he may have gotten back with Pandora.
Black Comedy: There are some elements of this in the books, such as the deaths of Ivan Braithwaite and the Moles' dog. An in-universe example is when Adrian writes "The White Van", a sitcom about a serial killer.
The Bus Came Back: Several characters return after long absences. Mr. Lucas was absent for a whole quarter-century between Growing Pains and The Prostrate Years. Before he returned in The Cappuccino Years, Nigel, Adrian's best friend in the early books had gradually faded away from the storyline; by The Wilderness Years (in which he does not appear) Nigel was referenced in passing as Adrian's former best friend.
Creator Cameo: In addition to Sue Townsend's appearance in The Lost Diaries and her own diaries midway into True Confessions, Adrian's contact at The BBC, John Tydeman, was actually Radio 4's Head of Drama, responsible for the original Nigel Mole radio play and later radio adaptations of the books.
Credit Card Plot: Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction has an ongoing plot about Adrian's credit card debts
Daddy DNA Test: This is how Adrian finds out he is the father of Glenn Bott, and later how the family confirms that Mr Lucas, with whom Adrian's mother had an affair in an earlier book, is the real father of Rosie.
Darker and Edgier: Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction dealt with some much darker topics than earlier books, such as Adrian's debt problems, the morality of the war in Iraq and Glenn's best friend being killed in combat, which has a profound effect on Adrian.The Prostrate Years is even darker than this, with Adrian being diagnosed with prostate cancer and suffering a painful breakdown of his marriage. While not quite as dark as either of these The Wilderness Years was rather bittersweet dealing with a period of homelessness and poverty, heartbreak and the death of Adrian's grandmother.
Deadpan Snarker: Adrian thinks he's this. His mother fits the trope much better.
Denied Parody: One publisher mistakes Lo! The Flat Hills Of My Homeland as a parody of English literature.
Critical Research Failure:invoked Adrian never bothers researching anything. He sent a character on a day trip to China (...from England) who walked around on the Great Wall because that's all he knew about the place. In addition, Adrian's perpetually mixing up names of all branches of the arts (claiming Rupert Blake wrote "The Tyger", for example)
Also, in the first book, he thinks that the Sistine Chapel was painted by Rembrandt in Venice. He finds Pride and Prejudice old-fashioned and thinks that Austen "should write something a bit more modern". He also does not know why someone named "Pandora" would have the nickname "Box". In the second book, he thinks that Evelyn Waugh was a woman and confuses Kingsley Amis with Kingsley Martin.
The author herself does this sometimes, too. In one book, Adrian's younger sister becomes a Goth. Townsend seems to have this idea that Goth is some sort of cult rather than a subculture, since Rosie does not wash after this and prays to a callous "Goth god". (Or maybe the joke here is that Rosie, not Townsend, has no clue what a Goth really is.) In The Cappuccino Years, Adrian is described as being almost knocked off his feet by "Sarah Brightman's opening shrieks" when he plays a The Phantom of the Opera CD too loudly - but Christine, the character played by Brightman, doesn't sing in the opening of the show.
A newspaper proclaims Barry Kent's 45 year old father as a burly World War 2 veteran. Considering that this happens in the early eighties, it's completely impossible. However, as someone who grew up in Leicester, this could be a poke at the local newspaper which has a habit of getting these things wrong. In the second book, a newspaper gives Adrian's age as 5, her mother's age as 58, and mispells their surname as "Vole".
Did Not Get the Girl: Adrian never managed to get his most constant love interest, Pandora Braithwaite but the ending of The Prostrate Years might have changed this.
Eagle Land: Hamish Mancini, Adrian's pen pal in the early books. Also, in The Cappuccino Years, his American literary agent fits the trope.
The Eighties: First few books take place in the 80's, and Adrian captured the zeitgeist very well.
Egg Sitting: A variant of this takes place in The Cappuccino Years, when Rosie accidentally gets pregnant and decides to hire a lifelike simulation baby doll to see if she's ready to become a parent. The doll's crying drives her insane, and she eventually decides to have an abortion.
Embarrassing Middle Name: Adrian's mother names his new sister Rosie Germaine Mole, after Germaine Greer. Adrian notes that his mother is the only person who liked the "Germaine" bit.
Executive Meddling: In universe example. Adrian's mother submits her book, A Girl Called "Shit" to a publisher, who insist she retitles it The Potato Farmer's Daughter.
Fat Idiot: Sharon Bott, Glenn's mother and Adrian's former girlfriend. Unusually for this trope she is implied to have been pretty attractive as a teen, making her a borderline (former) Brainless Beauty too.
He seems to think she's gorgeous in her rollerskating togs, but that might be because they're on a rollerskating date he's heard she's easy.
Frivolous Lawsuit: Adrian's mother successfully sues a shoe shop because the stilettos she bought there fell apart while she was trying to climb a mountain in them. She wins the case when her lawyer argues that the shop, "Shoe Mania!" should have removed the exclamation mark from its name so as not to excite hormonal middle-aged women.
Full-Name Basis: Elizabeth Sally Broadway, an occasional acquaintance and one-time crush of Adrian's.
The Whelk Association Trust is a rather more "fun" example.
Socialist Lesbians Against Globalisation.
Gallows Humour: The author just loves to kill off characters in unusual ways.
Gasshole: Glenn Bott gets in trouble for farting in school, and Adrian's mother comments that she's never known anyone to fart so much.
Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted with Rosie. She is really no more "good" or "bad" than any other character, and Adrian takes her to the clinic and she doesn't get chastised or painted as a monster by anyone. Pandora's father claims that his daughter has had at least one abortion, too.
Have a Gay Old Time: Gleefully played with by Nigel, who starts up a Gay Club at school. When the headmaster objects, Nigel pretends that it's for "pupils who want to be frisky, frolicsome, lively, playful, sportive, vivacious or gamesome during the dinner break. What's immoral about gaiety?"
Pop-Eye Scruton: "Nigel, the word 'gay' has changed it's meaning over the past year. It now means something quite different."
Nigel: "What does it mean, sir?"
Pop-Eye Scruton: "...."
Nigel: "Sorry sir, I can see that I will have to get an up-to-date dictionary!"
Heroic BSOD: Adrian is no stranger to these, but the biggest one comes during Growing Pains after Pandora dumps him. He runs away from home, then upon returning, spends several days lying in bed incapable of mustering up the effort to get up. He gets better when Pandora comes back to him.
He also spends some time running with Barry Kent and his gang, and even visits the Kent home (which turns out to be a much less dysfunctional bunch than his own family). Keep in mind that outside of this time, he considers Barry Kent to be an enemy, and seems to develop a deep-seated hatred of Barry's success as an adult.
Hypocritical Humor: In Growing Pains, Adrian does some last-minute Christmas shopping at Woolworth's on December 23. Then he complains about the long lines and asks, "Why do people wait to do their shopping until there are only two days left before Christmas?"
Innocent Inaccurate: Played for laughs in the first book; Adrian completely fails to pick up the obvious signs of his mother's affair with Mr. Lucas. In the second book, he fails to realize the signs of his mother's pregnancy.
Intergenerational Friendship: Adrian tends to get along with senior citizens best, throughout his life. His relationship with Rosie can also count. He has mentioned that she's one of the few to understand him, and he's the one she goes to when she needs to get an abortion.
Interquel: The Lost Diaries... sort of. Falling between the The Cappuccino Years and The Weapons of Mass Destruction they were originally published as a weekly column in the Guardian between 1999 and 2001 and were only published in book form in 2008. The chapters remained in limbo in so long most fans assumed they had become a case of Canon Discontinuity, especially because very little in them is mentioned in the later books.
Among which include the circumstances of Ivan Braithwaite's death, which are completely different to the description thereof in the book that chronologically follows.
Adrian does have a tendency to be a somewhat Unreliable Narrator, so he may simply have gotten things wrong.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Several characters, including Adrian himself. He comes off as rather jerky when we read his inside thoughts, but he'd pretty much stick up for anyone he cares about. Adrian's parents are basically neglectful but do actually love Adrian.
Kafka Komedy: There's a distinct element of this. While he makes a lot of trouble for himself, at other points life just appears to enjoy raining shit on Adrian.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Bridget Jones dines in the restaurant where Adrian works in The Cappuccino Years. Adrian and his boss briefly ponder the implications of a person getting famous after their private diaries are published and become best-sellers.
Manipulative Editing: Adrian mentions that this happened when the local news aired an interview with Bert Baxter. Justified because it had to be done in order to turn Bert's foul-mouthed ranting into something halfway fit for the evening news.
Mr. Niggard the bank manager early on in the series.
Mr. B'astard the landlord later on.
Adrian's manager at the Book Shop, Mr. Carlton-Hayes. Carlton Hayes hospital was the psychiatric hospital just outside Leicester.
Men Can't Keep House: Pauline goes to an anti-nuclear protest at Greenham Common and several women join her at the Mole house afterwards. Several of the neighbourhood husbands show up at the house needing their wives to help them with simple household tasks. Mr. O'Leary can't find his pyjamas and Mr. Singh doesn't know how to use an electric kettle.
Never Mess with Granny: After Adrian's grandma learns he's being tormented by local bully Barry Kent, she goes out, returning a little while later with the money Barry took from Adrian, and assurances that he won't be bothering Adrian again. Next day, Adrian writes, "It is all over school that a seventy-six-years-old woman frightened Barry Kent and his dad into giving back my menaces money," although precise details of what happened are never given.
No Can Opener: Happens in one of the early books when Adrian goes on a camping trip, causing him to note "Thank God cheese doesn't leak, break, soak up water or come in a tin."
Perhaps because of this incident, when he ran away from home in the second book, he made sure to take a can opener with him.
Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: In Growing Pains, Adrian has to have one of his front teeth pulled, and some of his classmates tease him about it. Two days later, still embarrassed and depressed, he stays in bed all morning instead of going to school. He manages to pull himself together and go to school in the afternoon, so he asks his mom for an excuse note. She writes a note that says, "Adrian did not come to school this morning because he didn't get out of bed until 12:45."
Papa Wolf: Adrian and his father have both had moments.
Pocket Protector: Bert Baxter has a Bible with a bullet hole through it, and claims that it saved his life during WWI. Adrian notices that the Bible was printed in 1956.
Porn Stash: Adrian's mother discovers the porn mags he has hidden under his mattress. She also discovers the phone bill (hidden for completely different reasons) and assumes there may be some additional perversion. At least, until she finds out it was a collect call from TUNISIA.
Pronoun Trouble: In Weapons of Mass Destruction Adrian's employer, Mr Carlton-Hayes, always refers to his unseen partner Leslie (a unisex name) by name rather than "he" or "she," leading to a Running Gag throughout the book whereby Adrian wonders whether Leslie is male or female. The Prostrate Years reveals that Leslie is a man. Not only that, but Adrian looks forward to going to Mr. Carlton-Hayes' house to find out Leslie's gender.
Put on a Bus: Several characters. The most prominent is probably Adrian's younger son William, who moves to Nigeria to be raised by his mother and is never seen again.
Racist Grandma: Adrian mentions that his grandmother is "not keen on black, brown, yellow, Irish, Jewish or foreign people".
Rapunzel Hair: Poppy Flowers has "the longest hair (Adrian has) ever seen" and it takes her four hours to wash and blow-dry her hair.
Reality Subtext: Adrian's friend Nigel loses his sight over the course of the books, as the author did in real life
In The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, Jo Jo's second husband is named as "Colonel Ephat Mapfumo." In later books he is Wole, to which Adrian's son William changes his own name in honour of the stepfather.
Rosie is initially described as "looking exactly like Baby Spice" (Emma Bunton, who is blonde and pale) but by The Prostrate Years she has dark hair and skin which leads Pauline Mole to suspect that Mr Lucas is Rosie's real father, later confirmed by a DNA test on The Jeremy Kyle Show
There's some confusion over the ages of Adrian, his son Glenn, and Rosie at different stages in the books. The Other Wiki goes into more detail. Glenn appears to gain 5 years (born in 1990 but joins the army aged 17 in 2002.)
To say nothing of the death of Ivan Braithwaite ...
Scruton retires during Growing Pains, but during True Confessions, Adrian mentions that he is still headmaster at Adrian's school.
The Rival: Barry Kent, for most of the series. Adrian's half-brother Brett occasionally fills the role instead.
Romantic False Lead: In The Wilderness Years, Pandora's boyfriend Jack Cavendish. Her husband Julian may also count; Adrian is clearly jealous, although Julian is a Flamboyant Gay and it's a marriage of convenience.
Second Love: Bianca Dartington in The Wilderness Years is this in both a romantic (first requited romance after Pandora) and biological sense (she is literally the second woman Adrian has ever been intimate with). Perhaps not a straight-up example - Adrian and Bianca separate at the end of the book when Bianca goes off with Adrian's new stepfather, who, ironically, was his mother's second husband.
Separated by a Common Language: Hamish gets hold of Adrian's diaries and sends him a long letter with a list asking what most of the terms Adrian uses mean.
Shared Universe: With Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones novels, according to a throwaway gag in The Cappuccino Years where Adrian and Bridget are briefly in the same room.
Shout-Out: Bridget Jones makes a brief appearance as a character in The Cappuccino Years, when Adrian hears of her diaries being published and later sees her out on a lunch date in the trendy London restaurant where he works. He then tries imitating her writing style in his own diary but very soon decides that it's irritating and reverts.
Slap-Slap-Kiss: More like divorce divorce kiss. Adrian's parents are always splitting up and then reuniting.
Small Name, Big Ego: Adrian is, or wants to be, this - he considers himself a celebrity (due to once presenting a show on cable about how to cook offal) and a gifted author (although his unpublished work is terrible, and his only published book was written in his name by his mother.) He frequently writes to famous people to offer "suggestions" about their lifestyles, ask for favours (e.g. to speak for free at the Christmas dinner for his book club) or ask radio/TV executives to give him his own show.
Stalker with a Crush: Adrian is almost this to Pandora in the early books, after they break up as teenagers (and Pandora eventually marries another man.) In The Cappuccino Years he acquires his own Stalker with a Crush, Eleanor Flood.
Stay in the Kitchen: Part of the reason Adrian's teen relationship with Pandora fails is that he wants to marry her straight out of school and expects her not to work outside the home, whereas Pandora has ... higher aspirations (see The Ace above.)
Straw Feminist: Adrian's mother goes through a phase of this in the first two books. Although it's toned down in later entries, she does include an entirely irrelevant chapter about gender politics when she writes a cookbook in Adrian's name.
Teen Genius: Adrian's classmate "Brain-Box" Henderson, who reappears as an adult in Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Telegraph Gag STOP: Adrian receives a confusing telegram from his mother stating "Adrian stop coming home stop" and disregards it since it makes no sense as he can't stop coming home. This leads to later problems when his estranged mother turns up "without warning".
The Baby Trap: Marigold tries this on Adrian, but turns out to have been faking it.
There Is Only One Bed: Many years after they had ended their sexual relationship, Adrian and Sharon Bott are forced to sleep in the same bed for a night. Sharon's current boyfriend almost starts a fight with Adrian when he finds out.
Uptown Girl: At least four of Adrian's love interests are this. Pandora, Daisy and Pamela Pigg are all from wealthy upper-middle-class families (with Adrian writing to an agony aunt at one point because he fears class will keep him and Pandora apart.) Adrian's first wife, Jo Jo, is a titled aristocrat in her native Nigeria. Interestingly Adrian is himself one of these for Sharon Bott (in Adrian's words he is "upper-working/lower-middle class", she is "lower-working/underclass".)
Visual Pun: Adrian laughs on hearing that William has changed his name to Wole in honour of his Nigerian stepfather and become "Wole Mole." This is purely a visual joke for the reader, since Wole is pronounced "wol-eh."
Vomit Chain Reaction: Happens on a field trip in the first book, beginning with the school bully and ending with a teacher.
War Is Hell: A key theme in Weapons of Mass Destruction, as seen through Glenn's experiences in Iraq, involving the death of his best friend Robbie.
Which also makes Barry Kent into something of an Author Avatar. The books actually exist in universe, written by Sue Townsend, whom Adrian thinks is stalking him, stealing his journals, and passing them off as her own work. (His memory is bad enough for him to really think this, even if events are only vaguely similar.)
Your Cheating Heart: Adrian, who became involved with Daisy while he was engaged to her sister Marigold. In The Prostate Years his marriage to Daisy breaks down when she has an affair of her own. Adrian's parents have had multiple affairs and are forever splitting up and changing partners; notably, his mother's lover Mr Lucas turns out to be the real father of Rosie.
This manages to become (at least for Adrian's desires) something of a Tangled Family Tree as Adrian's mother marries Pandora's father, and Adrian's father marries Pandora's mother, making the double-step-siblings for a time...until everyone divorces and gets back with their original spouses.