Mile Hill House Michael Fitzalan

Perish, the Thought

She was at her wit’s end, that’s what she thought, she liked comfortable cliches; they had a regular rhythm and the helped her feel safe. They were like a mother’s hug she decided, always there when you needed them, reliable and solid unlike her extremely annoying husband.

What had attracted her to him?

She really wanted to know. Thinking logically, she assumed it had been his generosity, he was old fashioned and never allowed her to pay for a drink or a meal. No wonder he was broke. Was he still generous, I should say so, buying rounds for friends at the pub, always treating the children and above all giving to crackpot charities like the Trussell Truss, Centrepoint and Crisis at Christmas.

He could barely keep the family in food, proper food.

He spent a fortune on expensive items, as though they were a family of four, just in case his sons came around with their girlfriends for a meal. The kitchen units were hanging off the wall and did he save? Of course not. He had no idea how much a kitchen costs, thousands and thousands. His job as a paramedic was never going to pay for that.

She wondered when she would be able to retire; she was fed up with working in an office for five days a week. A three-day week would work but then the whole family would collapse. They would be destitute. He really was a waste of space. Another hug from the cliché kitchen, served up hot from the oven of resentment.

“Men! Can’t live with them can’t live without him,” she said under her breath, realising too late that she was talking to herself, out loud.

She knew that was a sign of madness. She was mad, mad in the American sense of the word. Without her the whole fabric of their life would collapse, like a hot air balloon deprived of a gas flare. She was the light in the relationship. Everyone loved her. He just made terrible Dad jokes all the time. He sucked the atmosphere out of every family celebration with his coarseness and his drinking too much. She would be better off without him; she would have more financial security, more fun.

It had finally occurred to her. All she had to do was find the life insurance policy in her filing system and send him up that ladder to fix the guttering. It was so simple.

A story by Michael Fitzalan

Michael Fitzalan’s first novel gained cult status and here are some others: Waterwitch was a hit with those who have ever sailed; two brothers battle storms and Spanish support for the Malvinas in an attempt to meet up with their girlfriends in Ibiza. They have to get from The Algarve to Ibiza, all very straightforward until engine failure and storms threaten to sink all their plans. The Taint Gallery tells the story of a modern Romeo and Juliet; the story is set in Cheslea and Fulham, not Verona, nevertheless, it is a doomed relationship. The book was shunned by big publishers for its highly charged and graphic sexual content and the small publisher who produced the book folded, copies are rare. A reprint is planned for its twentieth anniversary next year; it is still as pertinent and shocking today as it was back in 1996. Switch is an amazing mixture of Franz Kafka realism yet it reads like a Raymond Chandler thriller. Joe Ederer falls for a French girl but he is recovering from being dumped by his English girlfriend. A fish out of water in London, he chases her home only to be rejected. He hooks up with a suffocating drug addict and that is when his nightmares begin. Major Bruton’s Safari is the story of innocents abroad; a family invited to celebrate the coronation of the Kabaka of Buganda become indoctrinated into the ways of Africa. With an acerbic observer on hand, the family experience the warmth and ways of Uganda that help them to understand themselves a little better. IPG – Innocent Proven Guilty is about a teacher, Philip Hayward whose brother sold their shared flat and ran off to America with the proceeds. Philip bumps into his brother’s ex-girlfriend and she tells him his brother is back. Racing to the address she gave him, he arrives to find his brother with a knife in his back. As he leaves, his shoes leave bloody footprints and the police come looking for him. Carom – Finn McHugh and his team take on a swindler and smuggler, Didier, who is depraved in so many ways. They know he is smuggling art and drugs; he must be stopped before others take him out. The Cubans, want him dead, Finn wants to break the smuggling ring. Who will win? Remember the Fifth November – Guy Fawkes was innocent, Catesby was a broken man who brought his children up in the Anglican faith, yet Robert Cecil arranged for them to be portrayed as terrible villains. With a spy service second to none and with moles everywhere how could someone hatch a plot like this and fail to be discovered? The answer, they could not. Read the truth! One – Bullying does not go on anymore in schools. I would not bet on it. Weep as you read the terrible story of a school bully and the misery he dispenses to all the boys. Then, cheer as one of his victims takes revenge. Take a trip to a prep school in a time when kids built tree houses, danced and swung on Tarzan ropes!

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