Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Ten O'clock Horses - Laurie Graham

Laurie Graham is a wonderful writer - she sees things most people have forgotten or don't even notice.  This is one of those short novels (300+ pages) that don't have thrills and spills and murder and mayhem, but it does have sex, two deaths, and a wonderfully legubrious painter and decorator Ron.  
Ron, who at only 38, has a wife with thick legs, a home he hates, two daughters; one of whom at 15 may be off the rails already, having been caught "doing it" with a van driver at home in her own bedroom, a mother who never wanted or loved him and a father who isn't as dippy as he first appears.

It's 1962.  Ron wants to speak Italian, wants to be an artist, wants to find out about things, and on Friday night looks forward to a bit of "whatsitsname" when his wife allows him to lift up her nightie and lays like a sack of potatoes until he's finished.  He wants not to be with his wife, and spends most of his time when not at work in his shed, practicing the Italian, teaching himself to draw.  At work every one of the blokes talks about sex.  If they are or if they aren't getting any, or is anyone else getting it and what they would do if they got it.  And Ron is an unhappy bunny.  Until one day, in a posh house, doing some painting and decorating for cash in hand, he meets his younger daughter's dance teacher, and in giving him a rudimentary lesson in the quckstep she becomes his dream woman - especially when she gets him up against the living room wall, and.......  Well.  You'd have to read it to appreciate it.

 I loved this book.  The descriptions of everyday happenings, or even once in a while happenings are superb - like Christmas day where the food is described so well I could see it, and have certainly eaten most of it  when I was growing up.  Again one of those books that made me laugh, and also brought tears to my eyes, and ultimately made me realise that life is what you make it.  Pity Ron can't see that.