Lodge's fictionalised diatrabe against National Service.
I must have read this around twenty years ago and in my mind had it down as a weak book, but thought it would be worth a go. In fact, it was pretty good. Lodge seems to have the same feeling about National Service as David Nobbs (they must be around the same age and seem to have had similar experiences): a scheme which meant that young men were forced to surrender two of the best years of their lives with no benefit to them, or the country, whatsoever.
He's very good at describing what it was like:
Out truck ground and whined through a seemingly endless expanse of squat huts huddled together round bleak parade grounds, forbidding barrack blocks, dejected rows or married quarters, and everywhere obtrusive military notice boards, with their strident colours and barbaric language of abbreviations.
One of the main stories in the book concerns a soldier who dies after being relentlessly bullied by one of the officers. Lodge doesn't say so in the foreward/epilogue for this book, but I think this may have been based on fact: at least I seem to remember that in one of his other books (maybe How Far Can You Go??) there's a similar story, and the main character tries to locate the officer several years later to make him face up to his guilt.
Anyway, I enjoyed it.
Completed : 12-Jul-2013