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Flying Under Bridges - Sandi Toksvig

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Genre: Fiction

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      20.06.2001 09:00
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      "...guests ruin weddings all the time, although I will admit it is probably less usual for them to do it by killing the groom." ...so writes Eve Marshall from her cell in Holloway Prison while on remand for the murder of her prospective son-in-law. This is the story of how she came to be there. Eve and her hubby Adam, live in ...wait for it... EDENford - a typical Tory-shire village somewhere in middle England. Their children are named after Shirley Bassey (Adam's heroine) and Tom Jones. Tom is an eco-warrior who protests against the construction of a bypass by pitching his tent in the path of the bulldozers. Somewhat embarrassing his father, a Conservative councillor hoping to become captain of the golf club. Meanwhile, Shirley has been "saved" by The Church of the Ten Commandments. Eve yearns to start her own business doing something she is good at, like organising people's cupboards perhaps. Then her old school friend Inge Holbrook returns to Edenford along with partner Kate, who is dying from cancer of the womb. Lesbianism is something that Eve, and Edenford, aren't entirely ready for: "Kate and Inge were a lesbian couple. She wondered how that worked with no man. Who was in charge?" Inge is a former Olympic champion athlete turned BBC sports presenter - except that the BBC don't have any sport to present any more of course. But the Beeb have asked her to present a new programme called "Don't Even Go There!" - the title being all there is of it so far - the planned format changes daily (and not for the better.) She has also been assigned a "Talent Guardian" whose job is to see to her every possible need and make her feel wanted. Make her feel like she's being stalked by an incompetent do-gooder more like! [Spoiler: skip the next paragraph if you plan to read the book] Then one Sunday, an impromptu
      sermon by the pastor of The Church of the Ten Commandments denouncing homosexuality leads to a tragedy. There follows a powerful scene in which the ailing Kate lauches a stunning attack on religious intolerance based on the dumb acceptance of mistranslated Biblical texts. You may remember Sandi Toksvig as that little Danish lesbian from No.73 and Whose Line Is It Anyway, unless you are King Herrod that is, in which case she is "that horrible woman who looks a bit like a horse" on Call My Bluff. This is her second novel, and it's much funnier than her first, the semi-autobiographical "Whistling For The Elephants". The book is littered with comic observations about all manner of things, such as (takes deep breath):- supermarket trolleys; DIY; breasts; Germaine Greer; facial hair; the Daily Mail; penises; charity shops... "It had been the Susan Lithgood Shop for Lepers when it first opened but there was a big storm in '86 and the leprosy part of the sign fell off. Which seemed appropriate somehow." ...vicars; cats; ducks; taxidermy etc. etc. It had me chortling a lot, and I laughed out loud on page 69. The cover is a funny green on the outside (does anyone know what that shade of green is called?) and yellow inside, with pictures of a biplane and a cat. I apologize for being too naive to know whether this is deeply meaningful lesbian symbolology. Oh, and for the benefit of King Herrod aficionados, this book is 310 smallish pages of medium sized writing long. Sadly, it isn't out in paperback until November.

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      Inge and Eve are part of the same generation, grew up in the same town, went to the same school together. But adult life has left them with nothing in common apart from their past - until the summer when their lives become entwined again, when one becomes a killer, and the other approves.