The classic comedy of a 50s youth trapped inside a Walter Mitty fantasy-world, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar was published in 1959, and captures brilliantly the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town. It tells the story of Billy Fisher, a Yorkshire teenager unable to stop lying - especially to his three girlfriends. Trapped by his boring job and working-class parents, Billy finds that his only happiness lies in grand plans for his future and fantastical day-dreams of the fictional country Ambrosia.
Grossly misrepresented in her ghosted memoirs, Page Three glamour girl Debra Chase determines to set the record straight. Here then is the truth about her dizzy rise to fame via Tulse Hill's most revered fashion school, her liaisons with the entire Seathorpe soccer team and the lecherous Sir Monty Pratt MP, and her ensuing downfall. Written with sardonic wit and compassionate insight, this is a masterpiece of characterisation and a wickedly entertaining satire on British society.
Keith Waterhouse's long-running column, which began appearing in the Daily Mail in 1986, won him numerous national press award. His characters Sharon and Tracy became a national institution, as did that venerable acadamy of English letters, the Association for the Annihilation of the Aberrant Apostrophe. The phlegmatic councillors of Clogthorpe and British Rail's brother-in-law Arnold are among the other regulars featured in this collection, which distils the wit and wisdom of a justly celebrated writer.
'The work of a master' Sunday Times 'Effortlessly brilliant...a comedy of London life' Sunday Telegraph No London neighbourhood more resmbles the restless downstream tide of the Thames than the ragged square mile of Soho. Ask the people who live there, like Christine Yardley, drag queen by night and grey-suited accountant by day; or Len Gates, self-appointed Soho historian and bore; or Jenny Wise, former starlet and now resident lush in the New Kismet club; or even Ellis Hugo Bell, wannabe film producer who dreams of moving to L.A. Daily, nightly, shift by shift, their numbers are swelled by immigrants flocking to work, eat, drink and loiter, from kitchen staff to dress designers, hookers to pushers to punters. Down into this human rabbit warren one evening slips Alex Singer, a student from Leeds in pursuit of his errant girlfriend, whose search takes him from club to pub and into contact with a rich cross-section of Soho life. Twenty-four hours, three deaths, one fire and one mugging later, seduced, traduced and befriended, Alex is on his way to the Soho Ball. In this fast, funny and superbly crafted novel, Keith Waterhouse draws a vibrant portrait of London's liveliest quarter and it's eccentric inhabitants.
'Among the few great writers of our time' Independent 'An exceptionally talented novelist' Sunday Times 'Remarkable for the deep and unwavering insight it gives into child behaviour' The Times Seen through the eyes of a young boy living on a council estate in a northern town, a pre-war childhood emerges that is universal in its everyday adventures, shifting allegiances, mysteries and occasional tragedy. Yet it is also one that is rooted firmly in a bygone era of innocence. Acclaimed on its first publication, There is a Happy Land marked the debut of a brilliant new talent and is now seen as a much-loved classic.