Most writers, myself included, spend a great deal of their time in solitary confinement, either writing or finding an excuse not to write, reading being a particular favourite, in addition to surfing the internet, watching television or on occasion going outside to walk or to pay a visit to the shops. The other morning having spent many hours at my desk working on various writing assignments, I was eager to have a break and go outside.
Unfortunately London is about as warm and inviting as Siberia at the moment, so I decided to spend some time browsing in local shops. First up was Blockbuster, the film and game retail behemoth, where one can wander contentedly down the heated aisles, occasionally inspecting a DVD or game one might be interested in buying, before going home and purchasing the given item on the internet. Unfortunately the chain has gone bankrupt and the various stores have been hurriedly selling off their stock. Today it is evident that the sale is now over, as Blockbuster is boarded up and I find myself traipsing on, in the direction of the mall.
On arrival I head eagerly to one of my favourite haunts, HMV, forgetting of course that the film/music/game retailer has gone bankrupt and that this store has also closed since my last visit the week before. Loitering outside the empty shell that had been HMV, my gaze falls on Metro Bank directly opposite me and I find myself reminiscing on the time when it had been a two floor Borders book shop, where many idle hours had been wiled away, browsing contentedly amongst its various sections.
And then I’m heading further into the interior of the mall, turning my head in both directions as I search for browsing opportunities. In no time at all I’m at the far end of the mall in the supermarket, browsing cheddar cheeses and washing-up liquids.
Having grown weary of this irksome activity I begin my return trip through the mall before turning right into Starbucks, where I discover that even this omnipresent has not been unaffected by the changes all around. The cafe was revamped the week before, it is more severe than in its previous incarnation and now resembles a laboratory, with less seats and bright lighting that leaves one feeling naked and exposed, an environment that encourages one to purchase a coffee and vacate the premises immediately.
Having spent a total of four minutes in the mall, I find myself outside again, clasping a grande mocha in one hand, heading through the bitter cold towards the park, hoping that this too hasn’t been deemed surplus to requirements and replaced with flat moving escalators that whisk us past lines of vending machines.
What happens when Adrian, an actuary, has his banal and predictable existence turned upside down by sinister forces that he can neither understand nor control? How will he react to a revelation that leaves his life in turmoil? Will he surrender or strive for redemption in an altered world, where rationality, scientific logic and algorithms no longer provide the answers?
‘An insightful and humorous tale of the unexpected’ – Reader
‘A sardonic delight. If Thackeray had lived in the 21st century, then he might have written Charles Middleworth.’ – Reader
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