Welcome to author Phil A. Oldfield Week in Outsideleft! We're booting up with an excerpt from Blood Relationships, Phil's critically acclaimed debut. Someone asked why I'd described it as a nazi's and net curtains novel? Beyond loving jazzy alliteration... Words to draw you in? I don't know. I can't tell. The emotional investigation? The seeking to see behind the veil of these characters who are very much the folks next door for the most part. That intrigue. Check out this excerpt for evidence... It's enough to make the nets flutter. Anyway, anyway, it's a gripping good read I wholeheartedly recommend seeking out.
During Phil A. Oldfield Week, we're going to feature an overview of his work - he works a lot, and we have a great interview to come, where Phil discusses his art and his motivations and just how he works to depict his characters and their flaws so accurately. Enjoy the week!
Extract: Blood Relationships – Book One of Resurrections
By Philip A. Oldfield
Summer 2002 – The Wray Inn, Riverside, Twickenham, London Borough of Richmond
How quaint everything was back then. The boats nestled on the opposite bank were tied together, like horses waiting for their cowboys to have one more shot of whiskey in the saloon. By the look of the paintwork, some of the cowboys had stayed inside for too long.
The racing green water idled along just like the many visitors and residents living in and around the Riverside. Often, the weather was just a bit too warm, the air just a bit too humid to encourage any sudden desire for fast movement. In fact, having a laminar flow was the order of life, of nature and people living in harmony together. The vast array of mature trees burnished in rich green foliage provided shade and temporary respite from the sometimes cutting rays of the sun. All in all, life carried on in a steady and predictable fashion. It was just the way residents liked it.
Yet change happens. New ideas, new people migrate into the most sheltered and protected corners of the world. The summer of 2002 saw new owners acquiring the Wray Inn. The new owners were known to their customers as Abe and Luther. Indeed, that is who they were. They had been together for 28 years. Life had been good to them. Their careers pursued independently, whilst sharing their domestic life together, had been successful. And for those people who possess the assets and acumen, as they did, the call to pursue other lifestyles is sometimes like a small branch on a tree tapping on the window pane of wherewithal, gently prompting a decision to move on and enjoy the winds of change. So Abe and Luther moved from their fast paced career paved lifestyle, and swapped it for the quaintness of the Wray Inn and its environs. Of course, they had a vast network of contacts and friendships which they enjoyed and had nurtured through the decades of their life together. Naturally, everyone wanted to taste their little corner of heaven. As the years rolled on and social media blossomed, the reputation of the Inn grew and grew.
Unfortunately, the hands of fate can sometimes deal surprising cards. In the fourth year of their new life, Abe showed the unmistakable signs of dementia. The loving soul that he was withered on the vine, wearing down the fortitude of Luther's stoic character. However, sometimes cruel accidents are nature's way of giving a blessing in disguise.
One autumn day, as the dawn began to rise, and mist and fog shrouded the river, its banks and the footpaths, everything appeared as one. Abe, dressed in his royal blue cotton dressing gown, his claret coloured pinstripe pyjamas and with one slipper on and one foot uncovered, opened the front door of the Inn, breathed in the white mist and took a walk along the clouds to heaven.
As the sun rose, the mist gradually cleared and Luther, following a frantic search, found his soul-mate floating face down in the waters on the opposite side of the riverbanks. His body was partly entangled in a boat’s mooring line; her name was ‘The Gabriel.’ Abe had always been a faithful Roman Catholic, up until dementia had taken hold that is. Although a non-believer himself, Luther took comfort in this one small omen. For a few years thereafter, Luther gave life, his last hurrah.
Business prospered and friends still visited, but sometimes, when the stuffing is gone, the stuffing is gone. Outwardly, Luther was his jovial self and even inside his head, he pretended that life was still good. Indeed, it was, but try as he might he knew his heartbeats were wedded to his mate. With each passing moment, with each busy day, the beat of Luther's heart became slower and slower, until, like the dying flow of a river robbed of its source, his heart stopped. He had no relatives, but his friends were to him stronger than family. His close ones rallied and gave him the radiant send off that he most deservedly, deserved.