'You do have an intriguing life, Arnold dear. Things just seem to happen to you…'
Nothing much has ever happened to Rev Arnold Drive, the meekly quiet vicar of St Tobias', who cannot even cross his own living room for fear of the shadows of his latticework windows. Feeling safe only within the walls of his church and the gentle rules of his faith, Arnold is ironically a man utterly without drive; a man content that nothing much ever happens.
Nothing, that is, until the day his church is sold off to property developers. Ejected from his church and his home, Arnold is thrust out into the modern world - a world for which he is utterly ill-equipped.
Suddenly, life presents Arnold with a series of moral dilemmas that test his faith, his judgement and his understanding of human nature. His first experience of love and sex, a surprise confession of murder, a suicide, the prospect of unexpected wealth, the discovery of a hidden family history, all cause Arnold to reassess the certainties he has taken for granted. Then, a near-fatal car accident forces him to face up to the fragility of sanity and of life itself...
Arnold Drive is the story of a man's journey from innocence to experience where he discovers his moral compass isn't always pointing the right way. Arnold learns that passive acceptance of fate, or of God's will, doesn't help much, that decisions must be made and acted on, and that other people are not always what they seem.
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Arnold sat down and closed his eyes. He waited, knowing it was the only way to deal with the situation. If he kept his eyes closed for long enough he knew he'd open them up again and be able to carry on. By that time the sun would have passed on in the sky and there would be no shadows cast by its rays hitting the window frame. Whenever the sun came out at this time of year he was always unable to move around his living room. The criss-cross lines of the latticework's shadow fell across the plain buff carpet and he found it impossible to negotiate his way around the south facing room without his feet landing on one or more of the bars. With any luck a cloud or two would pass directly in front of the sun and he could feel the lower light intensity through his closed eyelids and be able to move across the room, either to his study or the kitchen, or, if not that far, to the hallway. He'd tried to do this a couple of times without opening his eyes but had bumped into the furniture on the way, leaving him even more distraught. It had made him feel relieved to see grey skies in the summer and when he thought about it, he couldn't remember when he'd started noticing the bars on the carpet.
It had all started when he was small and he'd been given a proper bed to sleep in rather than a cot. He would get ready for bed and find it impossible to get in without disturbing the tucked in edges of the blankets. The top white sheet had been neatly folded over for him to rest his chin on once he was in, but he would have to go around the bed first making sure the blankets were properly tucked in between the mattress and the base. Once he was sure all was in place he would carefully ease himself in without disturbing anything so that, once in, he could look down and see the bed as it should be. Only then could he switch off the bedside lamp and go to sleep. In those days he experienced a recurring dream. He was in bed in the middle of a vast empty room and would feel terribly small, bewildered and alone. Sometimes he still experienced this sensation before falling asleep and would have to switch on the light and get his eyes accustomed to the dimensions of the bedroom again before being able to sleep. He'd managed to get over that hurdle with time but other things began to preoccupy him over the years. When he'd tried to rationalise it all, the relative importance of these preoccupations had started to confuse him and he would have to stop, or risk becoming very muddled and disturbed about life in general. The only thing that helped was to think of God. In fact the only place he really felt relaxed was in a church, safe within the stained glass, and it seemed as good a reason as any to decide to become a priest.
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We still have hope you have a great weekend!
Join me and Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace at Wallace & Co, 147 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 2SW on Tuesday 26th November at 7.30pm
Tickets are £100 each and include a glass of prosecco on arrival, a three-course meal, and a Q&A session with me. The proceeds of the dinner will go towards the publication of Arnold Drive
Please choose your three courses from the menu below and…
If you are on this page you are probably inquisitive about my new novel 'Arnold Drive'. The film clip here will give you a brief outline of what it's about. The novel is finished and if you pledge you gain access to read the first 16 chapters before publication. The chapters have been released every week since we started the campaign, but if you pledge now you'll get access to all the previous chapters…
By the time Hermione came to pick him up Arnold was ready to leave Bath. He'd strolled up to Victoria Park and had a coffee in the cafeteria above the tennis courts. There were a couple of games in progress but he hadn't paid much attention to them. All that perforated his bubble on the verandah was the noise of the ball hitting the rackets and he spent his time trying to work out how many bars there…
As he walked home that night through lamplit streets, Arnold noticed how different Corsham looked to during the daytime. The true colour of the Bath Stone buildings seemed muted in the orange light and a uniformity he didn't care for enveloped the town. It looked like the streets of any number of English towns, with none of Corsham's charm and character. He found himself heading in the direction…
Arnold sat down and closed his eyes. He waited, knowing it was the only way to deal with the situation. If he kept his eyes closed for long enough he knew he'd open them up again and be able to carry on. By that time the sun would have passed on in the sky and there would be no shadows cast by its rays hitting the window frame. Whenever the sun came out at this time of year he was always unable to…
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