Crane Mansions by Gert Loveday is FREE today and tomorrow (October 3rd & 4th) in the Amazon Kindle store
|credit: Gert Loveday|
He realised he would have to slim down a bit. The thought of what Trish might say if she saw him in the altogether made him squirm. A diet. Everyone was on a diet these days. He picked up a copy of The Planet lying crumpled on the floor. There were pages of advertisements for diets. He closed his eyes and pointed at random to one page. Dr Nottle’s Cheese diet. He quickly scanned it. Easy: the main precept of the diet seemed to be to avoid fruit and vegetables of all kinds.. Stick to cheese and the body set up a different kind of fat-burning process. Mind you, you couldn’t have alcohol for two weeks either, but he could surely stay off the drink for two weeks. The ad said he could lose two stone in two weeks. Four stone would be ideal, but time was not on his side. Perhaps he should go running as well. He had never done it but he could try.
Sam ruled up a chart and stuck it on his mirror. He had to ‘monitor his progress’, another Trish teaching. That reminded him of another of her mottoes, ‘Believe it, achieve it’. That was something else about Trish, she didn’t let anything get in her way. She knew how to grab life by the balls. God, how he’d missed her. He’d let himself go without her, but now, ‘Believe it, achieve it’, he said to himself. He bought one dozen blocks of cheddar cheese. Dr Nottle advised the dieter to vary the cheese; one day Camembert, another Neufchatel, but Sam opted for economy and simplicity. He bought an extra carton of cigarettes to help cut down his appetite. He went for a fitting at the wig shop and he called into Boots to weigh himself, to buy tooth-whitening lotion and artificial suntan. And he started running. He went early in the morning to the Regius Gardens, which were small and heavily-treed. He shuffled once around the park. As he reached his starting point everything turned black and his breath made a terrible wheezing sound. His heart seemed to be galloping. Oh Hell, this was too much. Sam lit a cigarette to steady his nerves, then tottered back to his room. Too soon for the exercise, he thought, the diet was the main thing anyway. He found the cheese quite satisfying. He could eat as much as he liked, in fact Dr Nottle’s notes said to eat as much as possible. Sam consumed block after block. After several days he went back to Boots to check his weight. He had lost nine pounds. This was most encouraging, although he was noticing his breath was like that of a very dead lion left in its cage to rot. When he spoke to the conductor on the bus he flinched and turned his head away before replying. But what was a bit of bad breath for Trish? He also found he felt very alert. His soporific days of mooning over the past had gone. Now he was busy with paper and pencil, planning the best approach to access Millie Arbuthnott’s trust funds and where to salt them away. Believe it, achieve it.
At the end of two weeks he had lost one and a half stone and he was almost as brown as Tom Jones from the frequent application of the sun bronzing lotion. His teeth were not much different and he had to eat XXX peppermints all the time to dilute the dead meat smell of his breath. He would have to try to speak without opening his lips. Best of all, though, he had a curly, almost Afro wig, which was so firmly affixed to his head it would take a tornado to dislodge it. A new white suit, a bronze shantung jacket, a disk with his birth sign hanging on his bare chest (no chest hair, but there was only so much he could do), a few other odds and ends in the way of shirts and undies and he was on the way to Crane Mansions with the Arbuthnott Will in the lining of his faux lizard suitcase. He was feeling a little odd in the head with a kind of dull pressure behind his eyes and a strange galloping feeling in his heart that probably came from his diet.
About the book:
Crane Mansions: A novel about the redeeming power of cake
Crane Mansions is a novel for grown-up children, a darkly comic and magical world in which the wondering, fantasy and confusion of children come face to face with the schemes, delusions and machinations of adults.
Scheming Trish Vowles dumps her orphaned charge Millie Lord at Crane Mansions Regulatory School for the Indigent while she waits to cash in on Millie’s inheritance with the use of a forged will. In the harsh seven years that follow, Millie remembers nothing about her past, but is troubled by flashes of memory, strange dreams and odd lines of verse. Headmaster Dr Hubert Crane, who spends his days developing Texts and Axioms based on his observation of pigeons, becomes convinced Millie has visionary powers, and calls her to his study for sessions of Interpretation and afternoon teas of splendiferous cake.
Many schemes are afoot at Crane Mansions: schoolmaster Odell Vincent is working on a top-secret invention and the shifty Len Clemons and his friend Eustace Crane infiltrate the school to steal it; the senior boys have a pigeon-betting ring going; and the megalomaniac senior master Marcel Crane, who is embezzling Dr Crane's funds, is digging into Millie's past, convinced she smells of money. When Trish falls in love with Marcel they team up to take control of her fortune. All of these plots converge and collide: justice visits itself on the schemers, and the lovers of cake emerge wiser, saner and happier. It's the book Dickens would have written if he’d had enough hummingbird cake.
Available formats: ebook
Published: September 2014
Genres: Dark comedy, fantasy
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