read chapter one
is a book with much original humour, a highly accomplished farce with
plenty of sharply observed social detail and a fast-moving narrative
pace to match its tight plotting.
'a hilarious chronicle,' Manchester Evening News
This is a very funny
first novel about the folly of trying to realise one's dreams. A witty,
extremely entertaining read.'
Sail or Return
Pax Brown should be a happy man. He has a loving wife, two wonderful children, a nice little town house and a steady job in a bank. But while he tries to stem the rising tide of spilt peas and Lego and Thea cooks Sunday lunch in her underwear and green wellies, they both dream of a more fulfilling way of life. Jogging and high fibre is not the answer.Thea's aims are practical. She wants a new house and a job as a social worker. Pax wants to get out of his job before he is smothered by boredom and his doting PA the unlovely Doreen, the only one who knows what a time waster he is. He dreams of adventure and excitement and the little things of life that are passing him by, like a yacht and plenty of money. Their marriage is rocked when Pax falls in love. The object of his desire is the Swan, a beautiful but down-at-heel wooden boat moored in the marina ten minutes walk from his office. Suddenly he is Master of the Swan, Thea has thrown him out of the bedroom and his brother-in-law's dazzling girlfriend has enticed him to sail too close to the wind in search of hidden treasure. Everyone has his daydreams. Some of us, like Pax Brown, try to live up to them. The outcome is hilarious and a new comic hero is born.
came out of the kitchen, wearing bra and pants, laddered tights and
green wellingtons. Pax did not ask her why she was cooking Sunday lunch
in her underwear. It was her usual outfit when they were expecting
guests. It was the best way she could think of for not getting splashes
and spots on the dress she planned to wear. The Browns did not go in for
aprons. He suspected she was the only woman in the Square whose knickers
you could inspect to know what you were having for lunch.But why the
rummaged in the top drawer of the stripped pine sideboard. It was full
of broken pencils, half-used candles, bits of Lego, useless keys and
other rubbish no-one dared throw away.
"Whatís wrong with that?"
"Theyíre the same thing."
He brandished a rusty corkscrew that had been lurking in the back of the drawer. With the point he ripped the plastic off the top of the bottle.
"Oh look. It didnít need a corkscrew after all. It doesnít have a cork."
"Iím surprised they bother with a bottle. An old bleach jar would do for that stuff. I wish youíd open another one."
"We havenít drunk this one yet. Waste not want not."
"Please, Pax, open another bottle of wine."
"I tell you what. Weíll use your brotherís trick. He always serves his wine in a decanter. At the beginning of the meal he pours himself a drop, tastes it, wrinkles his nose, passes it to whoever his wife or girlfriend happens to be at the time. She agrees itís off. He rushes to the sideboard and drags out a bottle of Mouton Rothschild and flashes it around so we can all see the label. He takes it off to the kitchen to open it. Woman of his dreams stops him half way and tells him to empty the decanter down the sink while heís about it. Exit Nick with full bottle and full decanter. Enter Nick again with full decanter. He apologises that it hasnít had time to breathe but itíll do. So we all drink the jollop that was in the decanter in the first place."
"Thatís not true. Itís another of your inventions."
"Itís not my invention. Itís his. And he puts his ideas into practice. Heís done it twice on us in the past year."
"No such thing as coincidence. Thereís a reason for everything. The last time he had a party I looked in the broom cupboard for tonic and found the unopened bottle. The trouble with Nick is he always gets found out."
knelt down to look for the decanter in the bottom of the sideboard. He
unloaded onto the carpet a clump of half finished macramť, a distorted
wicker bread-basket and a childrenís bicycle stabiliser.
put his arms round her from the back while she rinsed the place mats. He
kissed the back of her neck and caressed her birth marks. She carried on
rinsing. He wondered whether pinching her bottom would get a reaction.
tore a length off the toilet roll that served as kitchen paper and wiped
the place mats. She took a handful of forks out of the sink and wiped
those too. She wriggled out of his arms, turned round and thrust the
mats and the cutlery into his hands. Bits of toilet paper were clinging
to the teeth of the forks.
went back through the louvred door and dumped the mats and cutlery on
the table with a clatter. He took the plastic cap off the wine bottle
and held it upside down over the upright decanter. The wine bubbled and
gurgled and made a red froth like an ice-cream soda. Thea shouted
through the door.
put the wine down on the sideboard. While he composed a reply to Theaís
outburst he stuck his middle finger down the neck of the decanter. He
wiped away the pink scum that the wine froth had left behind when it
subsided. He was careful not to get his finger stuck.
wondered whether he should use the toilet paper instead of his finger.
Bad idea. Bits of cork floating in the wine were socially acceptable.
Bits of bog roll were not. Thea
burst through the door brandishing a saucepan. "You make me angry.
Youíre petty minded and cynical."