Fowlers End, 2012

This shot was taken on the Beckenham Road, UK.

Fowlers End is a novel by Gerald Kersh. It was published in 1957. Nowadays, Kersh is an almost forgotten writer. He’s probably best known for Night and the City (1938), which is a wonderfully grimy London tale. It has been adapted for film twice (the second time, bizarrely, with Robert de Niro in the lead role).

To my mind, Fowlers End is one of the funniest books about London ever written. It’s set in the fictional area of the title. The back cover blurb adds: “To this wildly debased neighbourhood comes Daniel Laverock, a strong, proud, awsomely ugly young man in search of employment.” He gets hired to manage the local movie house – a flea pit of course, and ends up locked in combat with his employer, the tyrannical Sam Yudenow.

The following is what grabbed me, one rainy day, as I gently steamed in a well-known chain bookstore (all spelling errors are intentional):

Snoring for air while he sipped and gulped at himself, talking between hastily swallowed mouthfuls of himself, fidgeting with a little blue bottle and a red rubber nose dropper, Mr Yudenow said to me: “Who are you, what are you, I duddo. But I like your style, what I bead to say – the way you wet about applyig for this ‘ere job.  Dishertive, dishertive – if you get what I bead – dishertive is what we wat id show biz. Arf a tick, please – I got to take by drops.”

He filled the dropper with some pale oily fluid, threw back his head and sniffed; became mauve in the face, gagged, choked; blew into a big silk handkerchief, and then continued, sighing with relief: “Wonderful stuff. It’s deadly poison. But it loosens the head.” He showed me the contents of his handkerchief, which might have been brains.

You can read more about Gerald Kersh here.

In our house, this book can be found: Sitting Room, right bookcase, third shelf down.

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John and Deanne gave me the initial push into titling my works. Big thanks to Deanne for the encouragement and for inspiring elements of these posts. Also to Terry for sending me to the bookshelf in search of ideas, and to Richard at CK Ponderings for being a cool collaborator. Our latest is due Sunday!

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