I got this review of ‘The Great I Am’ two days ago and it was so perfectly on target and so warmly appreciative of the story that I can’t resist passing it on here by way of saying thank you to the writer. I hope you will read it and enjoy it as much as I did. I’ve had serious doubts about this book because it was about a lying politician and I wasn’t at all sure how my readers would take it.
Thank you David.
“It was good to see the vile Sir Hillary get his just desserts at the end of the book despite, as the last page of the book suggests, it might not actually affect his status and career. Powerful friends of politicians control the media after all, so would the story ever see the light of day? Even if it did, the days where a politician caught lying – even one who has lied to the British Public, the House and to the Sovereign – or treating his family badly, or having obvious affairs, would resign as the honourable thing to do, are long gone.
It was lovely to see the other male characters in your book contrast so sharply with him: there are good men in the world and all too much modern writing seems to imply that men are generally feckless, cruel and thoroughly untrustworthy. Your book, on the other hand, shows Sir Hillary and the dog-beater as bad, and all the other men and kind and caring, which is refreshing and rather closer to real life. I enjoyed the book’s setting very much: I know Amberley rather well and I used to live near Godalming so I know Guildford very well too and could picture so many of the scenes in Gwen’s story.
I identified Sir Hillary not just with real-life double-barrelled trust-fund Tories but with any men who pretend to be more than they are.
I’ve been wearing my deerstalker hat for a considerable time to try and solve the mystery of the peculiar and solitary interest in my blog called ‘Who remembers Violet Elizabeth Bott.‘ Ever since I first put it up this particular blog has had a regular visitor, sometimes there are one or two people who look but as a general rule it is one single person who calls it up and reads it. I would dearly like to know who that person is and why it interests him so much that he will return to it so frequently.
Do any of you know if it is possible to get WordPress to reveal his identity? I think there’s a story behind it and I would love to know what it is.
The blog began by a consideration of the four books I was reading at the time, which were ‘War and Peace’, ‘Death plays a part’ by Lesley Cookman, ‘Tom Brown’s school days’ and Kate Atkinson’s ‘A God in Ruins.’
At an early point in Kate Atkinson’s book there is a sequence called ‘The Adventures of Augustus’ which an aunt has written about our hero’s childhood, seeing him as a “scuffed, badly behaved schoolboy, his cap glued permanently to the back of his head and a cowlick of hair in his eyes and a catapult hanging out of his pocket.” That was such an exact description of ‘Just William’ I wanted to rush out and find a copy of one of the books, which I’d gobbled up when I was nine years old and read it again for old times sake. Just to look at the book covers made me quite nostalgic.
But then of course I went on to remember the dreaded Violet Elizabeth Bott, who was the next door neighbour to our William. She had ringlets and a lisp and was quite hideously spoilt, threatening to ‘thcream and thecream until I thick’ if she didn’t get her own way instantly. When I was nine, I simply saw her as a character to hate, now I can see that she was a bully and that set me wondering about bullies, because I’m also reading ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ and that’s a blueprint for how a big public school can and does produce hideous bullies. One of the pupils in that novel holds Tom Brown so close to the fire in order to torment him, that he scorches the kid’s legs. The cane is used by far too many people in this story, but Tom Brown has convinced himself that it’s all being done to “make a man of him.” Hmmm. But what sort of man? I ask myself. By that time my brain had slotted itself into a completely new gear and I got to thinking about how many bullies there are in our society now and wondering why it should be.
Since I wrote this blog the bullies have virtually taken over our government and the situation we’re living in has grown even worse than I feared it would be in February 2016 when I wrote the blog.
My solitary visitor turned up yet again yesterday and now what’s left of my brain is working overtime to try and work out who on earth it could be.
Any help would be deeply appreciated. I like a good mystery me.
Last Saturday, I went to Heygates bookshop in Bognor station spot on at 11 o’clock, only to find to my horror that there were no copies of my new book there for me to sign and sell! Friends and fans arrived and had to be disappointed, I apologised to them profusely, as well I might, and promised to get hold of the books myself and return with them next Saturday. Which I have done, which makes me feel a little better about it.
So this is another invitation to all my friends and fans and to people who are now interested in this new book because they’ve discovered what it’s about and realised how apposite to our current political situation it is, to join me at the bookshop. I shall be there between 11am-1pm this Saturday as ever is.
I can guarantee that there wont be a single parent on here among you all reading this who hasn’t heard the same wail from their various infants that I heard when mine were young, we had such conversations as…
Infant: Are we going on this trip or not?
Me: Yes, of course we’re going. It’s tomorrow.
Infant: But that’s ages away!
Or to put it another way, 24 hours is an eternity to wait if you’re an infant, I’m at the other end of the human time scale now. I get up on Monday morning eat my breakfast and lo and behold it’s Wednesday and by the time I’ve got used to it being Wednesday, it’s Friday! My time fairly rattles by.
Human understanding of speed seems to be relative. Most of my little relations are impatient for them, 24 hours is an impossibly long time. On the other hand, I could do with 48 hours in every day now, never mind 24! 24 hours are much too short.
How is it with you I wonder? Is there a perfect balance midway between 4 and 91, when time runs smoothly and predictably? I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it but maybe it happened when I was asleep, certainly dreams have a timescale entirely of their own.
‘Time is of the essence’ the lawyers say, which is one way of saying buck up for heavens sake!
Our dear Shakespeare said ‘love’s not times fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.’
Perhaps time is made of elastic and nobody’s ever told us! We need a whole lot of clocks don’t we.
Life is pushing me around a bit this week, entirely by coincidence but the sense of being rushed about is the same, although I have to admit I rather enjoy it.
Yesterday I gave a Zoom interview to a local journalist, which was great fun, although it was interrupted by the arrival of his assistant who needed instant help because the toilet was blocked! (I did try not to giggle). And after that, Lottie and I sorted out all the things I would need for my next foray into the adult world which will be on Saturday and which I am looking forward to a lot because it’s the sort of thing I used to do a great deal and haven’t done recently because of being locked down.
It’s a book signing no less, to offer and publicise my new book ‘The Great I Am’ and it will be in Heygates, Bognor’s one and only bookshop which is now in Bognor Station. I hope it’s going to be an event, but I have absolutely no way of telling 1) because I’ve been out of touch for such a long time and 2) because the book itself is undeniably political, although I have been very careful to make clear that my anti-hero is not born into the political class and did not arrive there via Eton and Oxford, but was in fact the son of a burglar who died in prison and lived in Whitechapel. It’s already had several very helpful reviews, some on Amazon and two very good five star ones which is encouraging.
So I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m looking out some clothes that are warm and easy on the eye and sorting out the other books that I will be taking with me and the little booklet I wrote about Blake’s Cottage and will be in the station on Saturday morning as ever is between 11am and 1pm, look for this poster on a table.
Is let me tell you, a very good idea! That’s what my family did at the end of January for the first time in two very long years, but we did it with bells on this year. Just take a look at the pictures we took while it was all going on!
We ran two tables as you can see, one for the adults and a little one which is just the right size, for the great-grandchildren , who occasionally ate from it when they weren’t exploring the rest of the house, feeding the fish and playing hide and seek with the living room curtains. There wasn’t an inch of the house without a child in it!
My daughters were highly tickled by the line up of small shoes which they called the ‘shoe emporium’. These are very sensible children that change out of their shoes when they arrive and the array certainly showed how many there are of them. And all delicious.
And because the Spring is coming, I had lots and lots of flowers given to me, just take a look at them. All in all I think I can say, I have the best family out, or in for that matter! And to add icing to the cake, I had more than a hundred birthday wishes from friends on Twitter and Facebook, so many I couldn’t thank them all, so I’m doing it now. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everybody who made that birthday perfection.