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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.
‘There wasn’t a lightning strike at the church in Evesham where the funeral took place, which Bob regards as sufficient evidence that his theology is sound.’ The northern grammar school pals Bob Swarbrick and Richard Shackleton are back, now facing the era of Brexit, Momentum and Donald Trump. The trials and renewals of Where’s Sailor Jack? behind them, they find themselves in a world whose faith and politics have moved beyond their sphere of influence and feel increasingly cut off from their roots. Bob, now settled with Wendy, must reconcile old memories and new children while Richard must save his family from themselves. Along the way, they are adopted by the lascivious Lucy Fishwick and her predatory daughter Maddie, whose lives are as mad and chaotic as the radio play Lucy is trying to write and, indeed, the world itself. But despite the coming plague, it doesn’t look like Armageddon. There is to be an apocalypse, but one of personal dimensions. We don’t all go together when we go!
Closing date: 31/08/2020
Publication date: 01/07/2020
|Publication date:||1st July 2020|
|Genres:||Family Drama, Humour, Shorter Reads,|
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.More About John Uttley