The Couch Potato caught up with Glyn Pope, author of ‘The Doctor, The Plutocrat and The Mendacious Minister…
First of all Saul, thanks for interviewing me on your blog. In case any of your readers are wondering, we are uncle and nephew. Anyway, on with your questions:
1) In a nutshell, what’s ‘The Doctor, The Plutocrat and The Mendacious Minister’ all about?
Set in the 1940s, newly qualified Doctor Latymer arrives on a council estate in Leicester, England, full of hope after dreadful experiences of the war. He happily settles into life on the estate trying to forget the nightmare images in his memory. The young doctor quickly becomes the local miracle worker when he cures the attention seeking hypochondriac Reginald, and takes the time to befriend a sad little boy who has lost his Mother. However, when food poisoning strikes the estate residents, Doctor Latymer sets out to right injustices that he doesn’t fully understand. He tangles with Sir Brian Britley, the Plutocrat, and Sir Henry Norrington, the Mendacious Minister for the British Government. In the process, he unravels the delicate balance between rich and poor, and the
struggling economy still reliant on rationing and the black market.
Doctor Latymer’s story is written in authentic British English, adding to the richness that brings the local characters to life as the reader is whisked back to 1948 post-warBritain.
To mark the date of publishing, nearly a year ago now, there is an offer on buying one copy for £9.99 and the second for £6.99. Total cost includes postage. See http://glynpope.blogspot.com/ for more details. Could be a good Christmas present!
2) The images in ‘The Doctor…’ of post-war Leicester are vivid and evocative, though you weren’t alive then. Where did the inspiration to write about this period come from?
Your question is very flattering because it shows that I’ve succeeded in capturing the era. Remember I was born in 1953, not that long after the book setting of 1948. I have quite clear memories of the emptiness of Stocking Farm Estate in Leicester. No cars. Afternoons spent after the broadcast of Listen with Mother on the radio. No television then, just the wait for my brother and sister to come home
from school. If I was ill then it was to bed and the wait for Dr Lambert to arrive. The house would be spotless, as though it were royalty arriving.
And of course I was very influenced by the writings of Alan Sillitoe set at the time of ‘The Doc.’ That novel and film is still amongst my most loved. Just before Sillitoe died your Father, Saul, got me a signed copy of a Sillitoe novel where Sillitoe has written to Glyn best wishes Alan Sillitoe. Treasured, I don’t even open it.
3) Would you say the essence of ‘The Doctor…’ is the conflict between doing what’s morally right and what’s expedient for the majority in a given situation?
The obvious answer is yes. But it is a very difficult question to answer. Because as a reader you have to ask yourself would it have been better if Latymer had ignored the situation and the estate remained in employment. For me the key line is when the older more experienced Dr McFadden says, ‘That’s the problem with the young, they believe they know everything and learn less as they grow older.’ One for the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
4) Latymer is the novel’s most sympathetic character. How did he come to be formed?
The honest answer is I don’t know. My characters form themselves from what they say. Readers have different opinions about the characters. I’ve met people who can’t stand Latymer, he’s such a wet good goody, they say. One guy who’s in love with Gerry; another who can’t stand her. I like my novels to be funny, Reg still makes me laugh. There’s a short piece that still makes me cry – I couldn’t read that out at a reading.
5) Are you working on anything else at the moment, and if so when might we expect to see it?
The follow up to ‘The Doc.’ It’s finished, just completing the editing proofreading and cover. We hope to have it out in 2013.
Another plug as well, Saul. A couple of writers and myself are organising a literary festival here in France. For any of your readers who would like to attend or take part then see http://segorastclementincelebratetheword.blogspot.com/
Thanks Glyn – I look forward to reading the follow-up!