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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, December 15, 2007
    White Goods and the Genius Loci
    Something makes me suspect that Tricity Bendix doesn't actually exist as a romantic novelist. Nor, for that matter, as an interviewee. I think she owes rather a lot to editor Matt Haynes who includes in Smoke #11 an alleged extract from her forthcoming autobiography, I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say Pwllheli.

    In just five pages this piece manages to convey many of the best things about Smoke: a sense of place (in this case Brentford Dock), observant depictions of human absurdities (real ale enthusiasts re-enacting English Civil War battles), flights of fancy (I hope - Tricity's crazed Foreign Office employee father who in 1973 confused the Palestine Liberation Army with the Port of London Authority and ended up firing shells into Brentford Dock), and sympathetically witty characterisations of quite plausible people (eg, one Sister Siena, a teacher at Tricity's school who failed to reconcile The Parable of the Loaves and Fishes with the Law of Conservation of Matter, and holding a packet of Sunblest and a box of Findus 100% cod fish fingers in her hands admitted before the class her loss of faith: “it couldn’t possibly have happened!”).

    This is exceptional writing. Brilliantly crafted. But the small things in Smoke are equally good: like the Urban Interventions series (No.78: Glue a cheap Woolworths light switch to each lamp post in your street along with a small printed note saying "Please turn off after use"). And the little pieces of found text: 'In a Liverpool Road Garden: To whoever took the sunflower, enjoy it. My 5-year-old who grew it is devastated. Next time, could you not try and buy one from Sainsbury's?'