As I sit and try and make sense of the conundrum that is Brexit and, of course fail, I realise so many of the words I keep hearing have hidden meanings that might explain some of what is going down at the moment.
This epiphany came when considering that much discussed medieval concept of the proroguing of Parliament. Should our Prime Minister ‘prorogue’ we are asked? To which I answer that I’m not entirely sure if I am pro-rogue or anti-rogue. On balance I’ve always favoured those who are a little roguish so I’m marginally in the rogue camp if not totally pro-rogue, more rogue-ambivalent really.
Here are some that I spotted:
‘conservative’ – to trick the waiting classes
labour – to have sex with a dullard
Johnson – a derivative toilet
Corbyn – a garbage can for the centre
Rees-Mogg – upper class slang for a basmati cat
Bercow – the first in a numerical sequence of complete berks
Referendum- to umpire a game where the contestants are encouraged to rip apart Mr Cummings
I realise that many of you will read this and think ‘he’s lost it’ and I think, maybe that’s probably a natural reaction to the Alice In Wonderpants world of British politics right now. Ever since I saw the Matrix I’ve wondered if the world around me is merely a construct of my febrile imagination; if that is true then whatever it is I’m on, I should really cut down.
And as someone pointed out to me just this morning, if we do get past this current collective tilting at Windmills we still have the transition period to sort through the detail. Oh frabjous day, calloo callay!!
I’ve seen two films in the last week: The Last Tree and The Day Shall Come. Both had decent reviews.
One, The Day Shall Come is directed by Chris Morris who did The Four Lions which was very funny and tasteless. Like The Day Shall Come it was about a potential terrorist whose attempts at promoting his cause is hapless. He believes in non violence yet comes to the attention of the FBI who are looking to up their game and make a significant arrest of the home grown terrorist sort. I don’t think it was made clear why beyond for the self aggrandisement of the director in charge of operations and to put one over on the other services. I say that without much confidence as I have to hold my hand up and admit to a micro nap about ten minutes in after the admittedly drole beginning had flattened out a bit.
Still the film picked up a bit albeit it was full of a multitude of stereotypes and a myriad of tropes. There were the almost exclusively white police, FBI and law enforcement, the hapless black terrorists and the white supremacists. Most of the real baddies were the white guys and the other black ones were misguided or rather hopeless.
It began to build to a conclusion of sorts – a lock down at a donut shop where the chief protagonist of the terror group – The Sect of Six – found himself holding a dummy bazooka with the one almost sympathetic FBI Officer – white but a woman – trying to persuade him to put it down and all the agglomeration of bad guys (Yep white men in ties and or uniforms) willing him to pull the trigger….
Meanwhile in the Last Tree we had a coming of age story of a young black kid being brought up in a rural northern idyll by his foster mum before his real mother turns up and takes him back to her small grim flat in a London Highrise where he experiences a rude awakening at school and on the mean streets. He goes to the bad, then back to the good and gets the girl. It was okay, though I can think of any number of similarly structured films. Then, at the very end his mother, who hasn’t spoken of his estranged father takes him back to Nigeria, the country of their birth to meet this man who he has hated in absentia. The idea is to hand him over to his father who will ensure he has a far better, more affluent life now his son has fully grown. We all expect him to reject that expectation and he does…
You know I’ve rarely seen two films whose endings have jarred quite like these two. Spoiler alert if you want to see these films. In The Day Shall Come the black hero pulls the trigger, he’s taken down and we’re told in the last frame he is sentenced to 35 years with his wife and supporters given the usually long sentences beloved of the US penal system while all the white guys get huge promotions and advancements. I can quite imagine this happening but this really just emphasises that this isn’t a comedy with subtle political notes but the chunkiest piece of political proselytising I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. I even felt a bit guilty that I’d laughed earlier, as if I’d been conned in supporting anything quite so unnuanced. Yes it was a comedy but the joke was on me.
In the Last Tree – and by the way if you go, what the fuck is the title about? There aren’t any bloody trees so far as I noticed that play any sort of role here – the young man’s father is a corrupt pastor of some hugely successful evangelical church who had an affair with his maid and sent her and her son abroad only to have them back ostensibly to retrieve his son on his maturation. I felt so bloody cheated. Now there was an intriguing story line and yet it got about three minutes out of 140 and was never followed up. A bland, see it, done it movie could have been unique but nope, we were stuck with endless shots of grim weeping concrete, gratuitous violence, misunderstood youth, inspiring teachers and a youngster who sees the light.
Bugger. And I had such high expectations of both….
I read David Mitchell (actor, not author)’s autobiography over the summer. Called ‘Back Story’ it deals with his early years. In one section he explains with the somewhat eeyorish-misanthropic-steam-of-consciousness-for-which-he-is-well-known commentary that he has a problem with autumn and how his education turned out to be sadly lacking because no one really explained autumn to him.
For the life of me I cannot remember what he meant. I laughed but I was puzzled to say the least. Autumn has always meant a start, so far as I’m concerned. Odd maybe, in that is the traditional role of Spring. But I suspect it starts with it being the going back to school/university season and morphs these days into that time of year when I have to set to, to prepare the garden for next year.
Things have to be cut back, dug over. If somewhere is to be changed this is when the hard work ensues. Major lawn work takes place now.
Yes Spring is when we begin to see the results of that work but the start, the beginning if that renewal is just before and while everything seemingly shuts down.
Still, as the pictures show, there’s still a lot of colour.
This is set in 1976 and follows the exploits of Harry Spittle a 19 something university student, back home for the summer holidays after his first year. Home is miles from anywhere in the New Forest and comprises his parents, younger sister, aged and recent stroke victim aunt and demented cat. He has three goals for those holidays:
To spend as little time as possible away from his family, to make some money and have sex.
Harry finds work in a local hotel, peopled by a range of the weird, the wacky and the psychotic.
It’s funny, scary, sad, outrageous and touching.
That Harry survives is perhaps the most surprising of the many twists but he does.
And now it is 1981, Harry is five years older, training to be a solicitor and working in the West End of London in a small firm, living with his girlfriend and best friend Gary Dobbs, and wondering why an old acquaintance from the hotel days wants him to make his Will.
The sequel to Dead Flies is upon us
The Last Will of Sven Andersen has Harry trying to hold his love life together, keep his job, and work out why Sven Andersen has trusted him with his affairs which comprise the liquidation and distribution of Sven’s gangster father’s criminal empire. Is it because Harry was the unwitting cause of Sven’s father’s death at the end of Dead Flies? Or is it because he, alone amongst Harry’s friends and acquaintances thinks Harry the best man for the job? Or maybe he just hates Harry. With the help of Dina, his sister, Harry has to unpick the complicated and frankly irritating clues left by Sven while fending off some very unpleasant and frightening characters. Will Harry survive intact this time and live for another sequel?
The official launch of The Last Will of Sven Andersen is
Paperbacks are already available to order but the Kindle is on the above date.
If you enjoyed Dead Flies and would like to review The Last Will for me then drop me a message and I’ll let you have a copy for gratis.
If you’ve not yet read Dead Flies, well you should. Some of the reviews…
Geoff Le Pard’s debut novel Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is pure solid entertainment. That’s the best word for it – entertainment. There’s no standing at the edge of the pool, wondering whether you want to get your feet wet; instead you dive right into the story and don’t come up for air until you reach the end of it. It’s an engaging tale, and deftly told, spiced generously throughout with a sense of humor that can only be described as witty. Le Pard excels at clever and unique turns of phrase that will make you laugh but also make you think.
Debut author, Geoff Le Pard, serves up a book you’ll not soon forget. With sharply detailed, memorable and quirky characters you’ll be turning the page to read what happens next. Harry Spittle is the most fun I’ve had with a book character in a long time. Set in 1976, there’s enough nostalgia to keep you warm, yet the writing is fresh with a modern edge. If you’ve ever had to take a summer job, work in the food industry or worry about your family while simultaneously wanting to escape them–you’ll find the story one you can relate to and laugh about. Witty, well-written and fast-paced and this is a book you’ll want to share with friends and read again.
And now you can, for nothing! Dead Flies will be free to order from 28th October to 3rd November. Click here.
And if you want to see more on it, on the Last Will and on any of my other books, then please click here.
And the really, really good news for you fans of Harry Spittle?
The third in the series, Booms and Busts is in editing and will be available in the new year…. as will the fourth part that is in production now…
Penstemon Stromboli peered round the curtain at the UPS man as he struggled up the drive with the package. She didn’t recall ordering anything and certainly nothing so large. Though she thought, as the delivery man checked the label and his little handheld device, what with the ridiculous excess packaging it wouldn’t surprise her to find it was something as mundane as a saucepan or yet another unnecessary item of clothing that her daughter had purchased.
Penny waited by the door until the man knocked, not wanting to give away how she had been watching him from the moment he climbed out of his van. That curtain twitching was something her mother did, not her. No, she just happened to be looking. That said there was no reason to give the man an excuse to assume she was that sort of woman.The knock was on the cheery side of confident. As Penny pulled the door open a crack she was met with the full LED wattage of the serially well trained courier. ‘Hallooo! Am I in the presence of,’ the man checked the handheld, ‘Delphine Stromboli?’‘No.’‘No?’ To say he looked disappointed would be like suggesting puppies enjoy negative reinforcement. ‘Oh.’‘She’s my daughter.’‘Oh!’ Hope restored, the man – Barry Tigger according to his lapel badge – beamed, ‘and would mother like to accept this package on behalf of her pride and joy?’Penny hesitated. If this hail and well met fellow knew only a scintilla about her relationship with Della he would know just how many things were wrong with that question. Reluctantly she nodded. ‘I suppose so. What is it?’‘What…?’ Barry leant forward in a sort of conspiratorial way. ‘You know, in my job, that is the question I ask myself all the time. I mean ALL.. It’s what keeps me sane, you know, speculating. I knock at the door and am greeted by a range of humanity. In those few seconds I have with the customer I can try and assess what exactly they might be ordering. Take you, fr’instance…’Penny instinctively took a step back. The last thing she needed was this jolly tradesperson deconstructing her personality on the basis of their fleeting acquaintance. Maybe he had seen her behind the curtain. Oh god…‘… clearly a sophisticated, well educated woman with a variety of interests. It could easily be…’Barry’s gaze met Penny’s and for a second she wanted him to continue but then sense prevailed. She pulled the door back. ‘Perhaps you’d lean it against the wall.’He nodded, grateful she thought to be relieved of the burden of coming up with something plausible and flattering. ‘Can you sign, please? Just your name here.’She took the slightly tacky device doing her best to hide the moue of distaste that tickled her lips involuntarily. ‘There.’ She handed it back and looked at the parcel. To her surprise Barry hadn’t gone as he too studied it. ‘The label says it’s from Clone Co. Maybe Delphine has bought you another daughter.’Penny felt rather than saw him step away, sure he was smiling, knowing he meant well, knowing she was expected to proffer some sort of witty riposte. But the horror of a second Delphine invading her space, a replica of her selfish, indolent, demanding, draining daughter was too much. She lent back on the door to close it and as it clicked shut she slid to the floor, her eyes never leaving the box.Two hours later a key rattled in the lock and Penny rolled away to allow a surprised looking Delphine to enter. She dropped her bag and bent to her mother’s side. ‘You ok?’ She asked with little of the concern others might have expected. ‘Why…?’Delphine’s gaze followed her mother’s shaky finger. She took a moment to register the package and then a smile gradually grew across her face. ‘Ooo, it’s come then?’ She stood and hurried through to the kitchen returning with a knife. With an expertise borne of a life spent shopping online she sliced open the taping and exposed the inevitable padding.Penny watched these manoeuvres from her prostrate position. She wanted to say something, to ask why she felt the need to have a sister. What good would come of it? She looked up to see Delphine looming over her. ‘What do you think, mum?’Penny squinted at the figure that Delphine’s delicate disrobing had revealed. Was that Delphine, Mark 2? She coughed and managed to say, ‘Why? Why another sister?’For a moment Delphine looked surprised then she laughed, a rolling roistering rollicking sort of laugh that continued as tears formed on her lids. She bent double to try and regain her composure and as she stood she reached behind Penny to turn on the light.Penny gasped. The figure in front of her, a figure that was gradually animating as the charge from the batteries began to work their miracle wasn’t the spitting image of Delphine. No, not even close. The mannequin that in less time than it took Barry to deliver it would be alive and waiting to have its software installed wasn’t Delphine, it was Penny. Her daughter had cloned her mother.Penny turned to look at Delphine still standing over her, still brandishing the knife with which she had removed the packaging. Once again she asked, ‘Why?’‘Why? Because mother dear, this,’ she waved behind her, ‘will be the mother that I’ve always wanted, the mum I’ve always deserved.’ She took a small step forward. ‘The question isn’t why, it’s what? What are we going to do with you?’
The Sphinx sat, as it had done for centuries, eying the horizon with a jaundiced eye. Which, he thought was rather appropriate given the puss-yellow cloud of sand that anyone with half a brain could see massing on the far horizon.
He’d been around long enough to know that anthropomorphising the weather would get him the square root of nowhere but, bloody hell, if this didn’t happen again and a-bloody-gain. He’d just recovered from the last scouring, been dug out of the resulting dune by willing if less than thoughtful archaeologists and wouldn’t you know it a bit of low pressure and another bugger of a blast was readying itself to repeat the punishment. It wasn’t as if he needed to exfoliate, was it? So could you blame him for ascribing a malevolent intention to each recurring sand storm?
As always happened he began to feel the urge to turn slowly and imperceptibly so that the smallest part of him faced the on-rushing tumult. He knew from countless other batterings that he’d just have lined himself up when the first psychotic granules would pummel his nethers wearing down his resistance and filling his rear orifice with yet more sharp custard-coloured dust.
Maybe, he pondered with a misanthropic sigh, he was called the Sphinx because the part of his form that needed the most restoration was his serially abused sphincter.
Or maybe he wondered as tonnes of microscopic stone shrapnel ripped across his bows, his name came from the moronic team who’d thought it such a good idea to put one such as he in an effing desert in the first place. After all they had to be a bunch of complete arseholes, didn’t they?
The Sphinx folded his front paws, tucked in his chin and closed his eyes. Who’d be famous, eh?
Florist rings while First of Her Name is
shopping with the Mother of the Groom for suitable shoes. Apparently lilies are
‘hors de combat’ whatever that means in terms of foliage and would we accept
gladioli? Indicated such decisions are so far above my pay grade even asking me
is more ridiculous than asking a two year old to decide its pension choices. Am
told by terse sounding woman who reminds me of Margaret Thatcher describing
Arthur Scargill without the underlying empathy that a decision is needed in
next five minutes or there’ll be nothing on the tables. I ask what the choices
are if I decide against the glads and am told there isn’t one. Wish I could
channel my inner wife as know she would rise to the occasion like lava out of
an erupting volcano. Accept seeming inevitable and brace myself for consequences
when this is revealed to First of Her Name on her return.
The exchange goes something like this.
‘Behold, Light if My Existence, you have returned you glorious exemplar of womankind!’
‘What the fuck have you done?’
‘I engaged in a brief exchange of views with the
‘Tell me you didn’t make some sort of decision?’
‘Odysseus have fewer dilemmas during His
Odyssey, Oh Wonder of my Universe.’
‘Not a one in the northern hemisphere I was
‘She’s stuck you with some moth-eaten gladioli,
‘She presented her case with compelling
‘I will not have my daughter’s wedding looking
like a Dame Edna sodding tribute dinner.’
It is at points like this where there are
occasional shifts in the celestial axis that indicate the clear existence of a
benign and all loving god, viz the intervention of the MOG. ‘Oh I love a good
glad. They remind me of teacakes at my nan’s.’
First of her Name is caught in a similar dilemma to mine of earlier. Her ingrained politeness gene kicks in saving me from immediate evisceration. However both First of Her Name and I know that the ritual julienning of my privates is merely postponed. Gladgate will continue to run…