This is a life-long obsession. My late mother was a Spiritualist and I grew up in an environment in which readings and séances were as natural as church and football, although my father dismissed such things as ‘Codswallop!’ To this day I remain fascinated with the subject, and still a little afraid of ghosts. Anyway, however ill or down I was last year I could always get completely lost in a short, scary story.
Where’s Sailor Jack? is by turns romantic, poignant, and extremely funny, exactly what I want from a family saga. Like its hero, Bob Swarbrick, this novel is charming, charismatic and complex, and reminds us that not all contemporary fiction has to mirror Hollywood, with metrosexual twenty-somethings charging about solving impossible problems. Where’s Sailor Jack? is measured and thoughtful, with a strong plot, believable characters, and an intelligent moral centre.
One of the nicest memories I have of my late-father is standing in a queue with him, surrounded by empty Daleks, waiting to get Dr. Who’s autograph. We were at a summer fete in Norwich, in some bleak little park, and I remember that the grass was washed a vivid green by incipient showers and that the breeze had a distinctly unseasonable bite.