Monday, March 14, 2011

David Nobbs - Cupid's Dart

Best known for creating Reggie Perrin, David Nobbs is still producing fiction, with 17 novels under his belt. Cupid's Dart (2007) has a slightly unusual history, as it is a novel based upon a televised play, written way back in 1981.

The central character, Alan Calcutt, shares a little with Reggie: he is deeply out of touch, has trouble relating to his workmates, mainly because he despises them and has trouble with family. His mother is in a rest home and he makes a dutiful weekly visit, desperately trying to work out how to fill in the time but at the same time wishing his mum would get out a bit more, so she'd have some quality of life. Things are so bad that he at one stage plots to kill her, in both their interests, with a poisoned cake.

But the major story here is his meeting of Ange (
in the play, she was played by Leslie Ash - the cool chick in Quadrophenia), a much younger but vastly more experienced girl he delights in saying he picked up on a train. She is 24, a darts groupie. He's 56, a philosophy don, a virgin, and has no idea what she's talking about half the time. But he has enough self awareness to work out that he's doomed to an increasingly sad life if he doesn't do something.

He talks like a textbook but somehow they find a way to chat with each other as they share a table in the train and he, for the first time in a couple of decades, finds himself interested or, in his words, "she inspires an affectionate response", particularly her unselfconscious joy at being alive. He is full of ponderous talk of philosophy and how it provides no answers, just questions. Instead of even trying to address his conversation, Ange muses about birds:
I wonder if birds are afraid of heights - it'd be a right old do if one of them was afraid of heights. Fuck up his life a bit, wouldn't it? The old singing and that. Know what I mean?
To their mutual surprise, Alan asks Ange out (to dinner at a very fussy restaurant) and she accepts. Although he has no idea how it will go, he has the wit to "avoid Wittgenstein, concentrate on darts".

And so, a relationship of sorts develops: the opening chapter makes it clear it does not last beyond the year but, surprisingly, good things happen to both of them during the year. He finds her thoughts extraordinary, because they do tend to come out of left field, but that helps shake up his very stale take on life and his work or, in his words, he is screwed up until she "unscrews" him (and they do spend several nights just talking before anything approaching sex happens). He is taken way out of his comfort zone (pubs and international darts tournaments for a start). She gets to be taken seriously - no-one has ever wanted her for her mind before - and escape the Essex girl stigma and a rather concerning lack of esteem when it comes to men.

There are not many laugh out loud moments here (although I did laugh when Alan is very anxious about a declaration of love he wrote under the influence of several pints of Belgian lager and sent to Ange - he is so desperate to retrieve it, convinced that it will be fatal to their relationship but it is so unreadable she thought he'd sent her notes for a lecture) but I enjoyed these two characters. They may have been laid on just a little thick but they were distinctive.

Labels:

3 Comments:

Blogger Tung said...

Best known for creating Reggie Perrin, David Nobbs is still producing fiction, with 17 novels under his belt. Cupid's Dart (2007) has a slightly unusual history, as it is a novel based upon a televised play, written way back in 1981.

London Escortswholesale sexy lingerie

6:32 PM  
Blogger Tung said...

Take back that sad word good-bye
Bring back the joy to my life
Don't leave me here with these tears
Come and kiss that pain away
I can't forget the day you left
Time is so unkind
And life is so cruel without you here beside me
cheap sexy lingerieEscorts Sydney

10:25 PM  
Blogger zzz said...

This is for the ones who stood their ground
For Tommy and Gina who never backed down
Tomorrow's getting harder make no mistake
Luck ain't even lucky
Got to make your own breaks
Las Vegas Escortsfree sex

11:51 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home