The Water Meadow Man, the novel about hope, is set in England in the mid-1970s. It tells the story of Martin Lunsford as he moves through grief. This is mirrored by the attempts being made by a small group of men and women to set up a new Nationalist political party.
The two narratives intersect and illustrate how grief can both bring hope but also can mire the sufferer. Lunsford grieves for his wife and best friend, and for a while yearns for a return to his previous world. That world can never return because, as he discovers, it was never really there in the way his grieving memories have constructed it. He must move on.
The people behind the British Democratic and Freedom Party also long for a return to a world that never was. Their in-fighting and grandiose mediocrity, however, allows for no growth.
The ancient city of Crosschester used its history like Cleopatra used asses’ milk. It luxuriated in it. Misty memory and selective history were its lifeblood. It fed off the faithless payments of tourists who had superseded but not entirely replaced the subscriptions of pilgrims from a thousand years before.
A month after the sale, Darren was driving down The Old London Road into Crosschester at a speed that was okay for him but not so for a less skilful driver. It was November, the mist coming off the River Icene was freezing in the air. Darren was in control. Darren had demob fever after a long day at work, a double shift of chickenshit and dust collection. He didn’t know it, but black ice was forming. He knew the road and he knew his car.
He didn’t have many photographs of his Chloé. Like everybody else, for sanity’s sake, he had assumed he had all the time in the world to spend with her. Now he had so much time to spend without her, so much time left to go. Now is more than a single moment. It reaches forward, it doesn’t want to disappear.
She was at the end of her shift and sick of the abuse or groping or combinations of the two that she’d endured, so one man’s being less like a pig than the other drunks was very appealing. In point of fact, and pigs aside, they liked each other immediately.