‘Could there be a world of interest and adventure beyond the Midlands? A world of confidence, sex and excitement? A better life – a better me?’ These are the questions Gerard Philey grapples with over New Year, 1995.
Sitting in his rented Black Country room, reflecting on his thankless teaching job and miserable love life, he courageously decides to abandon his humdrum existence and embark on a quest for Euro-fulfilment, fun and fitness on the Continent.
After a shaky start in Brussels, events manoeuvre him to Amsterdam where chance encounters shift his world well and truly into fifth gear. He samples the trials and tribulations of new relationships, alongside managing a sex shop in the city’s Red Light Area – on top of the challenges of fat-free living and international travel!
Through his bittersweet diary, we see how Gerard steers a laugh-out-loud course through farcical episodes and fanciful characters…and how entanglements from past and present draw him unwittingly into a criminal underworld where events ultimately take their toll.
To talk about why he decided to write Gerard Philey’s Euro-Diary: Quest for a Life in a diary format, it’s over to Brendan.
Several people have asked me why I chose the diary format for the novel. The truth is that I’ve always been fascinated by diaries, both real and fictional.
I fell in love with Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole diaries in my youth, and have re-read these many times since.
I was also always fascinated by the real life diaries of people as diverse as Kenneth Williams, Jo Orton and Alan Bennett, to name but a few. What is it about diaries that I find so interesting? I supposed it’s partly the confessional element.
People record their innermost thoughts and feelings as a way to make sense of what’s happening in their lives, and often do this in a way that is frank, deeply personal and sometimes agonising. And of course, sometimes hilarious to outsiders! Although most diarists keep a journal for their own private purposes, I think some also have a sense of displaying what they divulge to an imaginary audience, and almost revel in what could be seen as a form of exhibitionism – so there’s a strange and slightly contradictory tension between the private and the public, and this dual aspect of diaries I find compelling.by
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