The Dangerous Dandy by Barbara Cartland is without doubt the most important book ever written. For the past two days I've been desperately searching out my copy but it is nowhere to be found. I've searched high and low, from left to right, in a spiral fashion from the centre out – I even tried dowsing for it with two wooden chopsticks. But it's not here, or if it is, it's either inside me or Jaws. The apartment looks like the Americans have come and gone. It seems like Brian, the shitfaced little cockmuching postboy, now has some serious form on me.

Of course, I don't know for certain Brian has the book, but it must be. It was that very weekend when he and John disappeared that its existence first came out, and it's not here and I know John would never have thrown it away. So now, Brian becomes one average size, slightly underweight, herpes riddled little problem. Why? Well, I'll get to that in just a moment.

When I phoned Verity and told her the bad news she seemed expecting it, like she never believed she'd get to see the book anyway. She spoke to me coldly, pronouncing all her words fully and heaped with sarcasm like we were halfway through a bitter divorce.
“Oh how fitting! The only thing that would proove to me that you had not planned John's murder and disposal is missing? Perfect. And you know: I knew you would never produce that fucking book. I knew it!”
“Verity, I can't help that it's not here,” I replied, “If it was I'd fucking show you it.”
“Maybe not.”
“What d'you mean, 'maybe not?'”
“Well, ok, IF we are being truthful and you really want to know. What IF when you found the book and looked again at your 'sketchy plans' you realised they were not so 'sketchy' after all? What if one of your little 'doodles' was of a window box with a leg poking out of it? I wonder would you be so eager to show me the book then, knowing I'd be straight off to the cops? Of course not! And that's my fear, that is why I need to see the book, to know how much of an 'accident' John's 'accidental' murder really was.”
For a moment I just sat there with the phone hanging off my ear. I stared into the near vicinity of nothingness for an answer, like you do when someone puts an impossible, double-edged question to you and you feel guilty because you cannot answer it and no matter what answer you give it's the wrong one anyway, because that was the whole point of the question. When I realised I was staring at a grubby white sports sock, I spoke, dejectedly.
“But I don't have it Verity. No matter how important it is or what's at stake, even if it means you will go to the cops, I don't have it. It's not here. And what's worse, much worse, a catastrophe really, I think Brian has it. I think he's got my future in his grubby little hands.”
“And why would that be a problem?” Verity said, immediately jumping on my concern. “If it is SO innocent, what does it matter who has it or sees it?”

In a way she was right. In a way she was being completely stupid. In a way I understood her. In a way she had stopped making any sense at all. Where Verity is looking for the truth/the good in me, others are just as eager to find the bad. What may clear me of any wrongdoing to one mind may condemn me in another. In a court of law there is no doubt about it, Barbara Cartlands 422nd book would get me put away for life.

So now we get on to why Brian is such a scabby problem and just why the book in his hands would be a catastrophe.

That John has left me is now public knowledge – it's out. Yesterday, after finishing with the streets scavengers, Little Dick Tracy and his Goons knocked up and down doors asking if anyone has seen John recently or knew where he could be. There's no suspicion that anything untoward has happened (at least I don't think so) but the search for him is on. That's still nothing serious. He's wanted for questioning over a wheelchair on a fucking church steeple; it's not the great train robbery. The police will inquire after him, just enough to cover their asses, and then in a few days it'll all be over and forgotten about. That is unless Brian ponders over the book, John's strange disappearance, his leaving with no word or goodbye, and then starts digging around for the truth or blowing ideas into Little Dick's ear. I mean, God only knows what plans John and Brian had made together? How many answered emails there have been? The abrupt stopping of John's blog (if there ever was such a thing). Separately, none of those things would be cause for concern, but all together, in the hands of the only person between Heaven and Hell who gives a damn about John's wellbeing, they are dynamite. And the book, even if the doodles in the back pages are quite innocent, may be the final thing that makes the village idiot think “MURDER!”

In some way I have to get The Dangerous Dandy back out off Brian's hands, though how to do it is none too clear.


  1. Oh my God The Big D!

    As Babs and I nicknamed her masterpiece.

    If you're thinking that the nickname has salacious connotations and it was based on someone in real life you'd be correct!

    (No hints, but a certain Russian ballet dancer was staying with Babs the weekend she wrote the book).

    I remember the launch party for that one with some embarrassment. The trouble with Babs's book launches, since she spawned one every two weeks, was that you'd just sobered up from one when it was time for the other.

    And it WAS the 70s. Glam rock. Men everywhere wearing make up and DANDYING about.

    Babs was no fool...

    Re: Brian.Simple. You've got to follow him home one day and search his house.

    Brian's House.

    One doesn't really imagine such a person having a house like anybody else...

  2. Re:Oscar.

    I have a love/hate relationship with Wilde. On the one hand I adore all the plays and prose - especially Earnest and Dorian Gray. The wit,cynicism and attitude is so NOW.

    On the other: the wit,cynicism and attitude has infected my nephew (who got me addicted to the old queen in the first place).

    I used to tell him that his vicious tongue would be the death of him. When he had a tongue.

    For example he gloats about the fact that if one Googles 'Desperate Dandy Barbara Cartland' the fourth link is...this ungodly blog!

    (It has to be 'desperate' as you mistakenly called it at the end, not 'Dangerous'. How Freudian!).

    'The old cow will be rolling in her grave! Did she really get buried with that fucking spray-painted poodle?'

    After that I set his voice box to "Upper class Dandy".

    I've seen the films, if that's the same as reading the transcripts - the 60s one, The
    Trials of Oscar Wilde, was apparently very faithful. The bit where Lord Alfred Douglas screams at Oscar:

    "You're not my father!" is quite chilling.

    The actor who played upper class Bosie was John Fraser. A Glaswegian. Why does this not surprise me?

  3. Babs, Russian ballet dancers, Big D's, blackouts, etc. That's what people don't realise, just how transgressive Cartland's writing and lifestyle was. She's the queen of Splatterpunk and I think her face (esp. come the end) just about prooves that.

    This blog comes up in 'Cartland Dangerous Dandy' searches? I feel almost famous. Though it's not chance, more cunning. Her name is mentionned specifically for that purpose, to try and lure a few of her more conservative readers over this way. And it's working.

    Follow Brian? The problem there is I'm really not quite sure I'm any smarter than him. And have you ever seen two idiots trying to follow one another? I think you can imagine.

    Oscar, yes I love Earnest, it's really something so wonderful. And even just off the page it reads so well. Many plays come to life in performance, but his don't even need to be performed. Actually, very often the performance ruins them. The first time I saw Earnest performed I was so disappointed because the lines were not delivered how I had imagined them and it was all very understated. But I have seen a couple of really great renditions also. It's a matter of entering the theatre also for someone else's take on Wilde and even how they've read him. I always tend to read his wit with an exclamation mark ending each phrase. My error,I know, but that's how they come off in my mind. Very flamboyant.

    Did I really call it Desperate dandy at the end? I'll have to change that. It'll send the search engines into confusion, may even render Google incapacitated, stuck and dribbling like one of the Nerdettes. X

  4. I would go so far as to say the plays HAVE to be read and not seen...

    Favourate Oscar story:

    A drawing room of friends waited outside Wilde's study all day as he wrote. When he came out they said

    'My dear Oscar, what have you produced in all that time? A poem, chapter, novella?'

    'No. A comma'.

    'You wrote a comma? Is that ALL you did?'

    'No. I rubbed it back out again'.

  5. I really want to see John's blog. It must be fascinating.

    Brian is such a little shit. But maybe he doesn't have it. Did you see where the cops were going about while they were in your apartment? Maybe Little Dick will try to blackmail you or something.

    I love guessing games.

  6. Simon, John's blog may be a sequel I'll do, so maybe you will get to see that at sometime. Yes, you could be right about all the things you say... it seems like it's anything goes around here. X


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