Amstrad, you may recall, used a program called Locoscript. Being not totally unloco myself at the time, Locoscript of course appealed to me. So I pulled Matters of Opinion out of the proverbial and attempted to word-process it into submission, but the resulting manuscript was, well ……… I put it back in the drawer.
In due course, Amstrad and Locoscript were seen off by Word - Microsoft Word. And it was while fiddling about with Word on an early PC that Edwin Mars, who features as a sort of semi-fictionalised version of himself in this novel, wrote The Conspiracy Kid Fan Club sonnet, with which this book begins. It is in fact Chapter One.
I received a very nice tweet the other day (@tweeteprose, if you’d care to join in) from someone who had got hold of an early copy of The Conspiracy Kid. It said: “Very pleased to be Fan Club member. Love the Conspiracy Kid. Please tell me that all the characters are true.” I have always been intrigued by the way that the words True Story contain two diametrically opposite meanings. A True Story can be a story in which everything is true or it can be a story in which everything is truly a story and therefore absolutely not true. This one, though, I think, is probably a bit of both.
The Conspiracy Kid Fan Club Sonnet eventually found its way onto a website, www.tckfc.com, where it regularly receives about 1000 hits a week. As anyone who reads this sonnet is automatically and irreversibly enrolled in the Fan Club, this already represents a quite substantial membership. A lot of these members though, so google analytics informs us, come from Russia, and I suspect that many of them are conspiracy theorists and possibly members of the paranoid lunatic fringe. I am not a member of the lunatic fringe. Neither am I paranoid, although I am frequently justifiably concerned. I am very much not a conspiracy theorist. The kind of conspiracy I like, and I think that the Kid likes too, is the Keatsian autumnal kind of conspiracy in which the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is conspiring with his bosom friend the maturing sun to load and bless with fruit the vines that round the thatch eaves run.
So there was this sonnet twinkling in cyberspace. And there was this ungainly novel, Matters of Opinion, sulking in its drawer.
And all of a sudden it dawned to me that a novel is something that occurs between two covers. The Conspiracy Kid is very keen on covers. And a novel has plots. Well, The Conspiracy Kid is extremely keen on plots. And novels have loads and loads of lines. And the Kid is never happier than when working and lurking inbetween the lines.
So, I unearthed the recalcitrant manuscript just one more time. I inserted the Conspiracy Kid into the proceedings. And bingo, hey presto and joy, everything went swimmingly. In comparatively next to no time I had in my hand this novel …. which, you will find, is in three parts. Part 1, FAN CLUB, which I trust you will soon be joining. Part 2, HAMBURGER, which features the best fictional hamburger you’ll ever (or should that be never?) eat – and Part 3, STRING, theory, pulling and two-ply.
I am not very good at synopses, in fact I hate doing synopses, but Edwin Mars, being a poet, is more than somewhat synoptically inclined. He doesn’t think there’s anything that cannot be contained within the confines of a sonnet. So I asked him, if he could come up with something - and he did. I think it’s rather good, THE CONSPIRACY KID SYNOPSIS SONNET by Edwin Mars, which seems to sort of sum the whole thing up:
This is the story of Joe Claude and me,
And of my son and the sisters he loved,
And of their father, how he came to be
In a graveyard - naked and uni-gloved;
Hamburgers, hurricanes, murder and string,
Werewolves and waiters and barmen and cooks,
From Maine to Biloxi, Mayfair to Pring,
Furniture, ketamine, golfing and books;
Marriages made and broken and mended
Under the shadow of loved ones who died.
See how the grieving billionaire ended
Up in that prison where laughter’s proscribed.
Will he be rescued then? Read and find out
What The Conspiracy Kid’s all about.
E.P.ROSE lives in London, England, with his restaurateur wife, various daughters, a dog called Frank and a cat called Wednesday.
A sonnet is penned and, lo, the Conspiracy Kid Fan Club is born. Beware. To read this sonnet is to join the Club. Membership is automatic and irreversible.
This is the story of the earliest unwitting Conspiracy Kid Fan Club members: Edwin Mars (poet), Joe Claude (billionaire), Walter Cornelius (werewolf), Muriel Cohen (chef), Ewan Hoozarmi (artist), to name but a few.
Where to buy:
Waterstones and all good bookstores.