This novel is something a little different for me. It is a satire set in the UK at the present moment. There are striking parallels between these days and the 1930s. There’s a lot of racist people around who are crawling out of the woodwork as they have been encouraged by the implications of the Brexit vote.
“Do you always place your cutlery in that shape, old thing?” asked Tompkins, “it looks odd.”
“It’s just a message to the waiter I am not interested in him,” replied Miss Scarlett coyly looking out of the window as the plates were cleared.
“Woof, there’s plenty of symbols here that I’m missing,” replied Tompkins, looking around the restaurant which was busy apart from the area in their immediate vicinity.
“I am sure you’re not,” replied Miss Scarlett finishing her Blanquette with a flourish and then fishing out her wallet from her bag.
“You don’t have to pay, Miss S, I can cover it with the tip I give the milkman,” protested Tompkins waving five notes around that he’d removed from his top pocket.
“That won’t be necessary, Tomcat, I’ve enjoyed your company today and I don’t mind. We can have a return match at another French restaurant when we defeat the forces of darkness and their foot soldiers are back on the other side of The Channel where they belong.”
“Woof, that makes me feel so patriotic, damn fine phrasing and no mistake. That’s a good note to sign off our meeting.”
With that Tompkins stood up and waited whilst Miss Scarlett paid the bill using her Visa card. As they left, he gave her an enormous hug, which all but knocked the wind out of her. Miss Scarlett turned left out of the restaurant, but Tompkins hung back in the shadows, waiting to see whether his friend was followed, but he saw no one.
Tompkins turned right and made for Aunt Jemima’s house in a nearby side street. Aunt Jemima no longer lived there, having moved to the country to be closer to her nephews. Tompkins kept the place going as a headquarters for his gang of patriotic pals. Tompkins whistled Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance Number 4 as he walked along the streets lined on one side by smart, vertical railings.
That’s how Tompkins viewed his friends in his cadre – upright citizens, who got to the point, and wouldn’t bend in adversity. A defence against the forces of darkness heading their way at any moment, a defence against the influx of foreigners planning to stay in their country for longer than they were welcome to stay, a defence against those who wanted to change Old Blighty for the worse.