The Circle
[a novel]



  The only person with whom I have ever collaborated whilst writing is Tim Bishop (he of peppermills fame).   Our novel, The Circle, has been likened to the style of Monty Python and has its roots in the time that we spent renting adjoining apartments in an old Victorian seaside mansion on the cliff-top at Sizewell.






An Incomplete Synopsis

Tim Burgess is an impoverished lecturer with mildly anarchistic tendencies; JP is a highly pretentious student. On one of JPís rare visits to the college (the bursary, in fact) JPís attention is drawn to Tim, who has taken up residence in the caretakerís cupboard after an unfortunate incident in which his former residence, a rather grotty caravan, was flattened. JP offers Tim the rental of the East Wing, part of Cliff House, where he rents rooms and Tim rather rashly jumps at the opportunity. He meets JPís ponderous landlord, Jeremy Spencer, signs the paperwork, takes possession of the keys and then discovers that the East Wing is practically uninhabitable. He then takes up residence on the good-natured JPís sofa.

JP and Tim soon discover that renting large portions of draughty old mansions is an expensive business, especially when you have little or no income. The bills for electricity, water, coal and self-adhesive foam draught-excluder very quickly get out of hand. Add to that Timís liking for beer and JPís penchant for luxury cars and expensive restaurants and you have a great deal of cash flow. All of it negative. They are finally galvanised into action when they discover that Jeremy Spencer is not sold on the idea of forgoing the rent money for the consideration of occasional and intermittent odd-jobbing, so they decamp to the relative safety of the pub to discuss their options to prevent them being evicted. A few beers provide no answers, but they do inspire JP to tread heavily upon the toes of Lise, a visiting locations manager for a London film production company. In the ensuing conversation, JP rather rashly offers the east wing of Jeremy Spencerís mansion as the ultimate film location, and at a very reasonable rate too. JP and Lise swap telephone numbers and next morning, in an exchange hampered only by the fact that JP has since dropped his mobile phone into a disused septic tank, a viewing is arranged.

With Lise agreeing that the east wing is indeed the ultimate location for the only very vaguely outlined costume-docu-biopic, JP and Tim see themselves well on the road to financial security. There is the minor issue of keeping Jeremy Spencer in the dark about what they are doing, as well as keeping Lise in the dark about Jeremy being in the dark as well as making sure that none of the rigging and lighting crew run over any of Jeremyís wifeís beloved chickens with a hire van, but beyond that it seems to be pretty straight forward. Tim even manages to secure a contract to supply props.

Tim and JP vacate the greater part of the east wing and congratulate each other on having achieved such a lucrative venture. The demands for various props cause a few headaches, with a little ingenuity they are overcome. However, as the filming progresses, Tim and JP become increasingly bemused by the subject matter and indeed the genre of the production that is taking place. Although terrifically time consuming, JP and Timís ingenious diversionary tactics work well for a while, but the completely unpredictable nature of the film makes it increasingly difficult to conceal from Jeremy Spencer the true nature of the goings on in the east wing. Jeremy becomes considerably more affable when the rent is paid on time, but he is still starting to ask questions. Things finally come to a head when one of the rooms is turned into a replica copper mine and JP and Tim have to play terrible Bon Jovi CDs at full volume in order to cover the noise of pneumatic drills. They decide that the only long-term solution is to convince Jeremy that he has gone totally mad and that it is perfectly normal to have a bunch of miners, or whatever they happen to be at any given moment, crashing and banging and screaming in the east wing - to the point where he will freak out the moment he is not surrounded by black lesbian bricklayers, or the like. Sadly, the plan is entirely scuppered by the arrival of the extras for the Viking battle scene. They turn up in full battle dress and, for some inexplicable reason, they are all riding mopeds. Apparently Vikings are not historyís greatest navigators, as these particular specimens prove by taking a wrong turn into the South Wing, where they happen upon Jeremy Spencer, who had been peacefully watching MTV.

Tim and JP are summoned to explain the sudden and unexpected appearance of a hoard of hairy, horn-helmeted warriors and for a few moments they actually manage to pull off a minor diplomatic miracle and convince Jeremy that the Vikings (all thirty seven of them) are a college class who have dropped in for some extra tuition. However, things take a turn for the worse when Lise wanders in, with the camera crew in tow, to announce that the production has run out of money. Jeremy Spencer is enraged, not so much by the fact that JP and Tim have been sub-letting, rather that there is no longer an opportunity for him to make any money from the production and evicts JP, Tim and the entire film crew. They make a convincing and heartfelt appeal against the eviction, but their fate is sealed when Jeremyís wife orders the expulsion of our heroes, along with the entire film crew, but not before one last party, at which the vicar develops an unaccountable obsession with Timís homemade kebabs.




Circa 60,000 words, front cover illustration.

Two more books are in progress
to complete the trilogy.

This book is currently without a publisher due to the original publisher going out of business.
The writing style has been likened
to that of Monty Python.



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