The Obald – Episode 6

We were blind to Woody Allen’s problematic aspects back in the 80s. Consciousness un-raised, we watched Manhattan and admired the black and white cinematography and laughed at the jokes, and didn’t baulk at the creepy on-screen relationship between a man in his 40s and a teenager. Zelig was less problematic: an early example of the kind of thing that would wow the world a decade later in Forrest Gump. It was funny, and best of all, under 80 minutes long. Bliss! I probably wouldn’t watch it today, if only to avoid seeing how shonky the special effects were.

I probably did see it at the National Theatre, which as I said before was a wonder to me, notwithstanding the rumbling of traffic passing overhead. And I really did notice a preponderance of nerdy looking blokes in glasses accompanied by beautiful young women.

Ronnie’s date to see the film with Mel is not without its fraught moments. Remember fraught dates? Locked in your own head, unable to express yourself, or afraid to, saying too much, or too little, spiralling into misunderstanding, reconciliation, snogging.

Great, wasn’t it? Jumpers for goalposts. If I could meet my younger self, what advice would I give? You’re on your own, kid. Fuck off.  

Travelling through the outer ‘burbs of London on the train, passing night windows and catching glimpses of people’s lives through uncurtained windows. Sitting side by side in a near-deserted train, coat over your laps, locked in a clinch or two. And at the end of it all, you burn with a new understanding of someone you’d been both right and wrong about, someone you’d misunderstood and underestimated, an enigma. Yearning, longing, all loved up with nowhere to go.

Also in this chapter, Ronnie tells the story of how he ended up working for the Department: it’s my story, more or less. I really did feel kind of bounced into a job that I was then trapped in, thanks to being blacklisted. Hilarious!

Fireworks night. Ronnie and Mel travel to London to see a film. But when she suddenly jumps off the tube train at Leicester Square, Ronnie loses her, and things begin to seem unreal.

Housekeeping & links

If you’re impatient to read ahead, I’ve published a revised ebook of The Obald:



Other territories are available.

I have also revised and updated the paperback edition, which is now live. Unfortunately, this print-on-demand stuff ends up being expensive. I tried to make a nice book, a nice thing to have. Anyway, here’s a link to the UK store for the paperback, and the same for the US store.

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