Perhaps the most famous example is the lowkey opening to A Question of Upbringing, the first book in Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time sequence, which begins with a surprisingly riveting description of some roadworks: 'The men at work at the corner of the street had made a kind of camp for themselves, where, marked out by tripods hung with red hurricane-lamps, an abyss in the world led down to a network of subterranean drain-pipes.'
The first sentence of Alan Partridge's autobiography, I, Partridge, is almost there: 'When I was eight years old, I suffered a nose bleed so profuse and generous, I bolted from the schoolyard and sought solace in the first-class countryside of
.' But I think that is just trying too hard. Norfolk
The opening of chapter six of Chris Bowers's biography of Nick Clegg is, however, exemplary: 'In the autumn of 1998, former Conservative home secretary Leon Brittan - by then Sir Leon Brittan, now Lord Brittan of Speenithorne - was standing on the Eurostar platform at Waterloo station, reading some literature he had in his briefcase.'
Mundane quote for the day: 'It is a sad fate to be the child of the urban or suburban middle classes. As a first or a fourth are the only dignified kinds of degree to get, so one's upbringing must be conducted either in several establishments with several bathrooms each or in one with none, if it is to distil any glamorous potential. Compared with the upper and lower levels alike – but especially with the lower, to which it has many unlooked-for similarities – the middle stratum is bound to seem drab and glum. Beset by constant anxieties about decorum, it has never devised a traditional way of enjoying itself. Alongside those of the working classes, its fears show up as neurotic, unreal and self-regarding.' - Kingsley Amis, From Aspidistra to Juke-Box