Scene: A 3-storey Victorian terraced house in Lancaster, in the North West of England, looking towards Lancaster Castle and with the hills of the Lake District visible in the distance to the North.
Our hero (why not?), balding, slim, spectacled (Aldi £2.49) sits at a pineish dining table in the living room, fingers poised over a tiny netbook. Sitting on an old Ikea bentwood chair to the side of him is the interviewer. Taking a notebook and pen from a large and serious-looking leather bag the interviewer turns towards our hero and says:
Interviewer: So, tell me Kevin, what are you reading at the moment?
Our Hero: (turning and removing spectacles) Well, Michael, I’ve just finished reading …..
Interviewer: Let me stop you there, Kevin. You just called me Michael.
OH: That’s right, Michael.
I: But my name isn’t Michael.
OH: (Puzzled) Sorry. I thought all interviewers were called Michael.
I: Not this one.
OH: So what is your name?
I: (Irritated) Angela. My name’s Angela.
OH: Okay. My mistake. Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve just finished a book by Margaret Drabble. It’s called Jerusalem the Golden and it’s about a young woman’s adolescence and early adulthood in 60s Britain. She has grown up in the North in a repressed and loveless household and, when she goes to university in London, she meets an artistic, closely-knit family, and I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil the plot. You can understand that, Angela.
I: Yes, of course. Carry on Kevin.
OH: Thank you. Well, basically, there’s a lot of interior dialogue so it has a very modernist feel. I enjoyed it and will no doubt read more of Margaret Drabble’s books. I have read one by her sister, A.S. Byatt. It’s called Possession and is the story of two academics researching the life of a Victorian poet. It reminded me a little of The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles which also moves between the present and the past, but is more postmodern. What’s particularly striking about that book is ……….
I: Can I stop you there, Kevin
OH: Oh, okay. I’m not boring you am I? You must tell me if I’m getting boring.
I: Yes you are. Very boring. Please stop.
OH: Okay. Thanks for being honest. Was I really boring you?
I: Yes. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve been more bored in my life.
OH: (Animated) But it’s interesting, postmodernism. You can argue that anything is literature – the label on a sauce bottle, instructions for operating a washing machine – anything.
I: (Sounding more and more depressed) Yes, I’m sure.
OH: And you can talk about the death of the author.
I: (Sotto Voce) Shame we can’t talk about the death of the blogger.
OH: What was that?
I: Nothing. Just clearing my throat.
OH: Okay. Anyway, to go on….
I: You do, don’t you.
I: Go on.
OH: (Offended) There’s no need to get personal.
And so it goes on, with both parties becoming increasingly angry, until, in the end, our hero asks the interviewer to leave. As she walks down the path from the front door (dead leaves, empty crisp packets) she glimpses the castle looming over the children’s nursery which stands opposite our hero’s house). She turns.
I: Does it have dungeons?
I: The castle. Does it have dungeons?
OH: Oh. Yes, it does. Do you know that George Fox, the founder of The Quakers, was imprisoned there. And the Pendle Witches. They were brought there …..
I: Yes, yes. So it’s famous.
OH: I suppose so. Why?
I: (Turning away) Never mind.
And so our hero goes back through his front door, closing it gently behind him. He reseats himself at the dining table, reawakens his netbook, and starts to type in a new entry for his blog.