Book number: 93599 Product format: Paperback Author: PHILIP HENSHER

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Bibliophile price £2.75
Published price £9.99

'...but they all had to talk to someone. That someone had, strangely enough, been Percy Ogden. He had always been, by contrast, a sort of heroic figure, changing at ten from a bright boy with interests - trains, cactuses, dinosaurs, historical buildings - into someone marked by the curled lip and the smart comeback.' Set in 1981, our narrator and observer is Spike, at a stiffly conservative school in Sheffield. Ogden is the leader of a clique of radical left-wing pupils who questions a visiting recruiting army officer. They meet up with a slightly older group headed by the charismatic Joaquin, a refugee from Chile, who initiates a lifelong homosexual relationship with Spike. The group engages in activities like painting slogans on walls, smashing up rival political meetings, talking all night. They are joyous, exuberant, destructive and in search of a better world. Five years later Spike and Ogden are on a two week holiday in East Germany, to get some idea how a socialist state was working. Ogden is now believed in charge of a parliamentary democracy and working for a Labour MP. Joaquin is a person honoured in East Germany. 30 years on, it is 2018. Spike is now 53, Joaquin 59 and for the last ten years he and Joaquin have been taking walking holidays in the former East Germany when they meet Pete Frinton, the younger brother of James, one of the clique of 1981. This triggers accounts and memories of the past like the time Spike and James and Tracy, the anarcho-syndicalist, had been at Oxford University, putting their radical years behind them. Only Spike and Joaquin had never changed their opinions. Well researched with observations of town and country in pre and post Berlin Wall Germany and the UK of the 1980s, told in Hensher's funny and distinctive voice, a regret-soaked story about the marks left on our adult lives by the idealism of our youth. 324pp, paperback.

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ISBN 9780008323103

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