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Calling Card
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Calling Card
The complete text of 'Calling Card' is available here. If you're not sure yet that you want to download it, here follows a brief summary of the book, to help you make your mind up: "Calling Card" is a four part non-fiction story of about eighty thousand words. The period described runs from 1974 to 1984. The setting is London (although Barcelona, now the author's home, makes the odd appearance). The aim of the author is to make his peace with his native country, which he has avoided like the plague for over twenty years, largely because he feels that there he was socially programmed to be something he wasn't, leaving him in a state of considerable mental disarray. This book, in other words, is about class and mental illness, among other things; which doesn't stop it from mainly being a comedy. The sections are as follows: ONE: "GOING PUBLIC" – after a lot of dithering, the narrator (age ten) decides he wishes to go to a public (meaning private) school in London. When he turns thirteen, he manages to get in. After a few months there, though, he realises he is in a trap, a social trap which will pigeonhole and condition him for the rest of his life if he doesn't get out. Unfortunately, he doesn't get out. Instead he develops a mental illness so weird he doesn't yet realise it is one. He also develops a passionate hatred for the school, though not for all of the people who go there, some of whom are described. He tries his hand at putting on a play, and puts on one so awful he decides he will never do anything in the writing line again. He has a disastrous non-event of an affair with a girl at the school. Finally, his five years there come to an end. He goes off for a drink in the park. TWO: "BACK" – the narrator tries to work out how it was, after his not altogether successful experience at his private school, he let himself be convinced that he should go on to a top ranking British university, thus pigeonholing himself even more. Thinking about it, he discovers why. The university is described, as are its ghosts and some of its inhabitants. After a nasty incident with a bunch of upper-class nincompoops, the narrator decides to spend most of his time in London with his foreign girlfriend. He tries to sabotage his final exams. His mental illness continues unabated, and reaches boiling point. THREE: "CRAZY INTERLUDE" – the narrator finally has a humdinger of a nervous breakdown, and is diagnosed as suffering from a chronic obsessive disorder. He is given treatment, after which he drifts from job to job, makes friends with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's son, is placed in a sort of hostel/barracks by social security, is harassed by police, and is eventually rescued by his friend Max, with whom he stays in Clapham Common. FOUR: "MOVE" – the narrator, after having a quick look back at all the political tendencies he ran into when at school and university, now discovers anarchism, which seems to him to be simply a highly attractive form of common sense and one which is open to him, despite his education. He moves into an area of South London which is chock full of anarchist squatters. He and Max make friends with them (an exceptionally mixed bunch of people); through them, the narrator finally comes into close contact with real members of the working-class. He ends up being arrested, taking part in a phoney bomb attack, and then participating in a mass assault on the City of London, involving (non-life endangering) sabotage to public transport, general mayhem and finally, at the end of this violent and chaotic demonstration, a coincidental meeting on the street between the narrator, covered in his anarchist insignia, and a friend from the top-notch university, dressed up to the nines and working as a stockbroker in the City. The narrator, disorientated by this meeting, returns to South London, only to be informed by phone that his father has had a heart attack. The narrator spends that night in his parents' flat, waiting for news from the hospital. Having been told his father is in a stable condition and will pull through, the narrator returns in the morning to his South London room, only to find it has been trashed during the night by armed police looking for weapons. He decides it is time to leave the country. He leaves, but not without saying a long goodbye, which, simply by being written down, marks the reconciliation of the author with all the ghosts of his past, with the country he is abandoning for good, and with one more thing besides. Part of 'Calling Card' was serialised in the Barcelona-based magazine 'Catalonia Today', throughout the summer of 2007.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -