The Obald – Episode 7

Biker hangout by night, but on a Sunday this particular pub attracts a typical Sunday lunch crowd. I’ve always been a lightweight drinker, but Sunday drinking especially brings out the puritan in me. I remember going to parties that carried over from Saturday night to Sunday morning, and the people who would drag themselves up on a Sunday and carry on drinking. I! Just! Could! Not! Do! That! If I had drunk to excess on the Saturday night, I would be at the beginning of a 48-hour hangover on Sunday morning, and the idea of fuelling it with more alcohol just horrifies me.

In this chapter, Melody acts as a kind of espionage agent runner encouraging Ronnie to reveal every aspect of his job, all in breach of the Official Secrets Act. In turn, Melody explains her father to Ronnie.

Melody’s dad. Here’s where he came from. Years ago, I’m guessing around 1981, the BBC ran a series of Burt Lancaster films. They used to do this, the BBC, in the days before satellite and streaming, before channels like TCM got the rights to all the old films. You’d get to see all the available Elvis movies. Or The Beatles. Or Doris Day. In this case, Burt Lancaster, an actor who kind of came after the Bogarts and Baccalls, but somehow before the Newmans and the McQueens and McGraws. He straddled old and new hollywood. I loved the way he talked, never better exploited than in the film Local Hero, which acts as a kind of shadow text within The Obald. In the second half of the story, which we’ve yet to reach, there’s a strong Local Hero vibe. And in the first half, hidden, elusive, we have Melody’s dad.

It started with a dream. After watching dozens of Burt Lancaster movies, he came into one of my dreams. In the dream, he was like a guru or saintly cult leader. And he was holding a meeting, and talking in the way that he does. There was a book, a secret book, and there were some cops, and they targeted him. From this dream came my story “Movie” and later The Obald, and even later still a couple of songs.

Part of what I tried to do with The Obald was infuse it with a yearning for a better, kinder way of life, and that’s who Melody’s dad is. He’s Burt Lancaster, but he’s elusive, as fugitive as a dream.

Ronnie takes a risk and meets up with mystery girl Melody to talk to her about her father, who is under surveillance. Is he only now picking a side?

Housekeeping and Links

A revised ebook of The Obald is available:



Other territories are available.

The paperback edition has also been updated and revised.

UK store:

US store:

%d bloggers like this: