John Uttley was born in Lancashire just as the war was ending. He read Physics at Oxford before embarking on a long career with the Central Electricity Generating Board and the National Grid Group. He was Finance Director at the time of the miners' strike, the Sizewell Inquiry and privatisation, receiving an OBE in 1991. More recently, he has taken a degree in Divinity while acting as chairman of numerous smaller companies, both UK and US-based. He is married to Janet and lives just north of London, with three grown-up children and a dog.
This sequel to John Uttley’s family drama Where’s Sailor Jack? sees Bob, now past his “three score and ten”, dealing with era-defining external changes (Brexit, changes in the Labour Party, Donald Trump’s presidency) alongside day-to-day life, with his new love Wendy also given her own narrative. Having survived a divorce and a heart attack, and found himself new partner, Bob has also bought himself a grave plot “near enough to the gate for me to look for an escape if I’m sent to the wrong place,” he remarks with typically wry humour. Lively new characters are also introduced in this sequel, courtesy of teacher Lucy Fishwick, reputedly “a man-eater of all ages and sizes”, and her daughter Maddie, who’s often the object of male characters’ lascivious gazes. Reflective, nostalgic, and suffused in the author’s roots, No Precedent will appeal to those interested in personal takes on present-day political shifts. Indeed, it often reads as if lines between characters’ views and those of the author have been blurred. Tony Blair, Ed Miliband, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Teresa May, Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Bercow and Keir Starmer - and others - are discussed, and we’re also offered a reason for the collapse of Labour’s red wall in the 2019 general election: “I suppose they took the view that if you can’t beat the bastards then you might as well join them, if only for a while.” With loss, immortality (and the fates of Bolton and Blackpool football clubs) covered alongside politics, the overall reading experience is akin to overhearing a wry-minded, well-meaning stranger, then getting to know them over the course of an evening.
An interesting, touching family drama focusing on two men in their sixties, their loves, their lives and their friendships. The first few pages provide a snapshot of Bob and Richard, of the twists and turns of fate as it walks alongside family history. Bob’s wife Jane left him for another man, Richard is still married, both men however are having difficulty manoeuvring around the obstacles that life puts in the way. John Uttley sends time, memories and thoughts zigzagging, and it took a little while for me to get used to the writing style. Yet as I warmed to Bob, Richard and the people in their lives, I sank into the story of ‘Where’s Sailor Jack?’ and by the end felt as though I really had travelled alongside them and observed their journey. ~ Liz Robinson