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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

September 04, 2003

Unfinished Novel #5

Haven't got a title for this one yet, just a few ideas, only some of which are written down. It'll probably end up being called St Benedict's Balls or something. Or bells. St Benedict's Bells. Or bell end.

Slightly under the influence of Friends Reunited, this one starts off with the idea of a school reunion, organised by an old friend of the narrator.

Narrator is a musician, similar to the character in BYAIC (but not quite so much of a weasel, hopefully). He's had some slight success in his early career, then faded into a kind of obscurity. Opting out of his band, and of rehashing their one hit album to a dwindling fan base, he's relocated to Nashville and made some success as a song writer. Part of this success involved a marriage to a country singer whose career went ballistic under the influence of his production and co-writing (I'm thinking Mutt 'n' Shania type thing).

Now divorced, he's comfortably off and living alone back in England, at something of a loose end. Then he gets an email from an old school friend/acquaintance, inviting him to a special reunion in France. Old friend, call her Sally, now married and owns a number of holiday cottages on a complex. She's making them all available for the reunion weekend.

He posts a "reply all" offering a lift down in his mid-life crisis vehicle to anyone who needs one. He gets a reply from an old friend, call her Lucy, who used to be his best friend's girlfriend.

So we're seeing some recurring themes here. We're talking love triangles, love unrequited, bitterness, betrayal, undercurrents of tension.

So they drive down together and have a conversation about all that.

She's working as a university researcher and teacher, specialising in coastal erosion, land reclamation, villages lost to the sea and all that. She's had a chequered history, but we won't go into that, because I think I may have laid it on a bit thick.

Arriving in France, we move into the second act. The holiday cottages are in the Vendée, naturally, which of course features huge areas of land reclaimed from the sea hundreds of years ago by Dutch experts and monastic labour.

Other reunion attendees include Lucy's ex, the former best friend and band mate of the narrator, and a bunch of minor characters. Sally and her husband make everyone welcome, but for some reason both the narrator and Lucy find the husband a bit of a creep.

So Lucy and the narrator go out exploring and discover a little village called something like St Benoit Sur Mer, only I'm going to find another saint's name, to be perfectly fictional.

I want to fill in a lot of detail on the Saint, so that it's like than Don Delillo thing, where you think it's all made up but it turns out to be real.

St Benoit will turn out to have some connection with reclaiming land from the sea.

St Benoit sur Mer will turn out to be about 10kms from the sea, present day, but used to be a fishing port. The church in St Benoit will contain saintly relics belonging to the saint himself, which will turn out to have been stolen from a village in Norfolk which has since been lost-to-the-sea, but which will be called something like Saint Benedict village, except the anglicised name will be different.

The church there fell into the water in 1760 something, but locals say you can still hear the bells and all that.

So this will become this kind of supernatural historical land reclamation superstition mystery thing. I like the idea, but I don't know if I'll ever get time to write it.


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