Another purchase from the Amnesty bookshop.
BARCELONA PLATES, Alexei Sayle
(finished reading on 23/06/2008)
I was quite excited when this book passed through my hands during a donation sorting session at Amnesty, as I like short stories and Alexei Sayle is a bit of a national hero, but … I don’t know, I just found it a bit shit (sorry, Alexei!), unsophisticated in a clumsy way, a tad bitter and most of the endings reminded me of when you have written something that you don’t know how to end, so you just end it right there.
Having said that, one of the stories, the title piece Barcelona Plates had a premise which I really enjoyed. The protagonist goes on holiday to Spain and ends up driving his Spanish hire car all the way back to his house in England and then back to Spain, just in time to catch his flight home. Within this story is also my favourite comment on relationships I’ve ever read. Here it is in full:
‘He’d split up with his girlfriend after she had accidentally taped a hundred and twenty minutes of their life … Barnaby’s girlfriend wanted to tape a play off the radio … so she’d dragged out their old Sony portable stereo … started it when the play started and turned it over fastidiously after sixty minutes. But instead of pressing the button that would have taped the play she pressed the button that activated the built-in microphone and recorded a hundred and twenty minutes of hers and Barnaby’s home life, which aurally consisted of, ‘Want a cup of tea?’ ‘No thanks.’ And a muffled fart while she was out of the room. That was all. They thought they were happy but the tape told a different story, the tape proved them wrong. No one who lived through a hundred and twenty minutes of such torpidity could be happy.’