So what is this book? I tried to write a one-sentence synopsis:
A rag-bag shuffle through a chaotic mind involving love, punch-ups, teenage misery, art theory and desperate gags.
Any the wiser?
An occasionally serious but mostly comic novel about a forty-year-old who has early onset Parkinson’s.
So here’s a sample of what goes on in Douglas’ head:
Should’ve taken the stuff, the levodopa anyway. Dire warnings from the neuro-bods of disasters if you miss out. Don’t give a fuck, don’t want to take it. Had enough of the side-effects, the puppet on a string act for today. I’ll get home before I freeze. With luck. Make it from Canonbury down Essex Road, going well, not far now, here’s a landmark, tiny triangle of urban garden, Islington Green, ha, what a name, the village green, I should coco, oh-oh, not going so well, don’t like this, slowing up, slowing down, up, down, same thing, why is that?, no, defo not good, legs won’t pick up feet, now into shuffle mode, come on baby you can do it, hallo, what’s this what’s this, saved!, a bench, pleasant bench, mild night, keel over. Immobility! Good bench, nice bench.
Hallo, here’s trouble. Pissed-off wino thinks I’m hogging it. I am. Takes a swing at me. Keels over himself. Gorra laugh. Have a nap? Flights of angels required, where d’you order ‘em, though? Bloody angels, never around when you want them. Cops’ll pick me up instead. They know me, mostly friendly, used to catatonic Parkinsonians keeling over. Well, used to me keeling over. I’m – as I hope I’ve established – a bit of a one-off.
Ah, stinking breath, he’s up again.
– No mate, I’m the other variety.
Grabs my shirt.
– If it’s tits you’re after, no luck there either.
Gobs on me. The camaraderie of the homeless.
On the gravel now, face down, weight on my back. Standing on me? Rotate face to left, scraping nose as do so. Interested be-suited passer-by pauses, why aren’t you home watching Paxman? Two alkies scrapping more your thing? Course it is, fascinating insight into social decay, the tragedy of inner-city dereliction, go on, take a photo. Bastard keeps kicking my ribs. Flash goes off. No power in him, though, he’s a pussycat really. Gravel in hair is tedious. Second flash. Another feeble foot pokes rather than kicks. The suited one is chatting on his mobe. Ah, yes, citizen’s duty, summon the majesty of the law. Alkie abandons hopeless task, settles on bench. Ribs intact but sore.
I know, displacement’s going on. Can’t help it. What to do anyway? No idea where she is, who the feller is, if he’s of any importance, nothing to go on. Might as well settle for a rib-tickling experience. Kirsty, Kirsty, Kirsty, I’m a useless dad, I know, but I love you, kiddo, I do, I do, but what can I do, how can I help?
Pass, next question.
Waah-waah, waah-waah, here they come.