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.
Tompkins is the leader of a group who repatriate unemployed East Europeans.
His wife drives one of the mini-buses that take these people across The
Channel. She feels that this is doing no good for society. The main
antagonists in this story are never the East Europeans. Tompkins gradually
realises that his antagonists are members of his own group who want to take
over the country, but are quite happy for Tompkins to take all the
responsibility of deporting people. Once Tompkins becomes distracted by the
potential visit of a new Russian revolutionary, his antagonists kidnap and
kill two of Tompkins ‘s friends, but Tompkins doesn’t react against the
East Europeans but rather seeks out the enemies within his own people. Along
the way, Tompkins’s views change. He meets a very useful Slovenian mechanic
who gets him out a scrape with his car as well as a Polish sausage seller who
helps Tompkins when he needs a disguise. By the denouement, Tompkins has
undergone an arc of change and realises all new immigrants to his country
actually bring skills and strengths that make the country better and stronger
and more culturally diverse.
Chapter 1 – June 24th – Late Afternoon
“There you are, my lovelies,” said Clifford Tompkins, scattering seeds in the trays, so his beloved pigeons could feed to their heart’s content. The birds began to coo, although two of them flapped their wings in anger
“Now, now, Bella, don’t fight with Judy, there’s plenty for everyone.” He gently parted the two birds. Tompkins kept 32 pigeons in his rooftop loft in central Mayfair. The noise from the street below was barely audible, just the occasional screech of tyres or the sound of a desperate pedestrian trying to hail a black cab on a busy London street. He looked up at the darkening sky and was thankful he’d bought a protective roof for his birds – it would start to rain before midnight. He was glad they’d had their friends round for a barbecue when they did – he could still taste the sauce on his lips.
“Hello, Tomcat,” said Filly, his wife, appearing out of the doorway, “I am just off to find out what my next assignment is, though I’m not convinced it’s doing much good.” Even without make-up, Filly still looked youthful with her freckles and absence of lines on her forehead. She was wearing her ‘work’ clothes, jeans and a red jumper over a denim shirt.
“Bish and bosh, you’re doing wonderful work, I will miss you. I am still in love with you as much as I ever was.”
“That is so romantic – anyway, I have to go – I may or may not be here when you get back from your Archery meeting.”
Filly reached up on her tiptoes and kissed Tompkins on the cheek. She left him missing her already.
Tompkins went back to the pigeons, who were eating the last of the seeds. Tompkins’ eyes fell on a newspaper covering the floor of the loft. The headline proclaimed the number of immigrants coming into the country. Even though he’d read them before, these words still made the steam rise.
“We have to stop them coming in to this country, we have to for the sake of us all,” he said under his breath before heading downstairs to prepare for his meeting later that evening.