Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Owen Stanley in audiobook+

Both The Missionaries and The Promethean are now available in audiobook+ at the Arkhaven store. You might suspect that I am exaggerating when I say that they are two of the funniest satirical novels ever published. And you would be absolutely and utterly wrong. Narrator Gabrielle Miller also does a wonderful job of conveying the literary humor in her unique Australian accent.

From The Promethean:

They went off in Fortescue’s Range Rover to The Drunken Badger, an old pub nearby with a mouldy green thatched roof that was the local meeting spot and had been kept for years by the genial Ken with fat Shirley his wife. Fortescue offered to stand Harry a pint of beer, but when Harry surveyed the range of drinks available, his heart sank. There was no prosecco, no white wine, indeed, no wine of any kind, as the pub had for generations stocked only local ales, the favourite of which was Old Stinker. However different palates were known to prefer Smoking Dog, Swine Snout, Wife Beater, or even Holy Terror, the most alcoholic.

This was made from a traditional recipe inherited from the local monks before Henry VIII destroyed their abbey nearby, and was notable for producing some very unmonkish behaviour. The label of Swine Snout depicted a farmyard dominated by a large manure pile, in which assorted pigs were busily rooting, and Smoking Dog was advertised by a hairy monster with very large teeth smoking a pipe. Wife Beater is perhaps best left undescribed. As he surveyed these relics of the Dark Ages, Harry groaned inwardly. Was an ice-cold Budweiser really too much for a civilised man to expect in a presumably industrialised nation?

Shirley informed Ken that the American gentleman was asking about Budweiser. Ken scratched his head and said he thought he had seen a can somewhere only recently.

“I know you was rummaging around in your shed looking for rat poison the other day,” said Shirley. “Could it have been there?”

Ken went off to look and came back with a filthy old can that had been put up on a shelf with the weedkiller and lawn fertiliser in the garden shed long ago. Ken washed it off under the tap in the bar.

“Not in a very good state, I’m afraid. Must’ve been there for years, ever since Don used to run this place. We had some Americans stationed at the airfield back then. But you’re welcome to it. Glad it’s found an ’ome at last,” pouring it into a glass. “We won’t charge you for that. On the ’ouse.”

Harry pretended to be grateful for the warm and rather odd-tasting relic of the Budweiser brewery and thought that Swine Snout might have been preferable. A local inhabitant, dressed in what looked like greased sacking, had just brought his old, wet, and shaggy dog in with him, which was now sitting under the table. Harry noticed the brown stains on the grubby carpet and wondered if they had any connection with the rather unpleasant odour that seemed to be coming from the direction of the dog.

Charles asked Harry what he would like for lunch, and Ken passed them the menu, a sheet of greasy plastic covering a crudely typed list of local delicacies. At the top of the list were pigs’ trotters and then tripe and onions, blackbird pie, jellied eels, boiled calf’s head, deep-fried pigs’ ears, brains in white sauce, ox tail fritters, and bull’s testicle soup as the pièce-de-résistance. Everything, apparently, came with chips and gravy, except the bull’s testicle soup which had mushy peas as a side order.

Shuddering, Harry asked what tripe might be.

“Ah, that’s real delicious,” said Shirley, “a nice tender piece of sheep’s stomach—more flavour than cow’s stomach—but the pigs’ ears are very tasty as well.”

Despair seized him, and for a moment he actually found himself wishing for a McDonald’s. But then, like an island of sanity in a sea of madness, Harry suddenly noticed pork pie at the bottom of the menu and said he would really like some of that.

“A very good choice,” said Ken. “That’ll be old Percy. We only slaughtered’n t’other day. If you’d’a been ’ere then, you’d’ve ’eard’n squealin’. Summat terribul t’were. Still, ’e makes a right tasty pie, no mistake about that.”

Good God, was there no end to these rural horrors, thought Harry.

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Blogger RobertDWood February 19, 2019 8:53 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed The Missionaries in audiobook.
It's the mark of an excellent narrator when I can hear Gabrielle Miller reading that excerpt in my head, perfectly paired with Owen's writing.

Blogger dc.sunsets February 19, 2019 8:55 AM  

Reminds me of the Wisconsin Public TV show about a small farm in nearby MN. The host (a woman) uneasily noted the massive sow nudging her rubber boots while piglets cavorted nearby. The farmer, a sturdy if plain woman smiled at her discomfiture and described the heirloom variety of pork, "They're as friendly as a Golden Retriever and they taste absolutely delicious.

Blogger InformationMerchant February 19, 2019 9:00 AM  

Glad you picked this page, when I was reading the book I had to show this page to my American girlfriend.

This is one of the reasons Americans considered English food terrible for ages and still consider it bad.

Wife beater is better than Budweiser.

Pigs’ trotters, tripe and jellied eels are still way too common, a surprisingly high amount of people absolutely love them.

Boiled calf’s head stopped appearing on menus about a hundred years ago, I don't think I've seen brains in white sauce on a restaurant menu. Bulls' testicles are popular in South America.

That said, I've never eaten pub grub and my experience with rural England is limited to a few middle class villages in Hampshire. I could absolutely see 75% of that happening at a rural working class pub, although they'd put mushy peas with everything.

Blogger MendoScot February 19, 2019 9:00 AM  

Heh. I really don't know which was better. Satire at it's finest.

Blogger McChuck February 19, 2019 9:44 AM  

Tripe is awesome, and way better than chitlins. Brain is best when mixed in with scrambled eggs. Jellied eel is a form of gustatorial torture.

Blogger GK Chesterton February 19, 2019 9:58 AM  

I've only read missionaries and it is a great book. Well worth the read.

Blogger John Cunningham February 19, 2019 9:59 AM  

One of my exes loved to eat brains, and I was willing to try them one time. Lousy idea. I took a couple of bites. She anxiously asked what. I thought, and I said it seemed like a cross between rotting salmon and slime. I was luckily able to get to the sink and spit it out, avoiding a Technicolor yawn. Plus the smell from cooking lingered in the kitchen for a couple of days. Since I was traveling half of every month, at least she agreed to cook it when I was on Kodiak or Prudhoe Bay.

Blogger R Devere February 19, 2019 10:33 AM  

"One of my exes loved to eat brains..."
Just like a woman: Eat brains and then you'll have some!

Blogger Chad Thundercockovich February 19, 2019 11:37 AM  

Rural horrors are diverse and a good idea as I plan on escaping a large city...for a smaller city.

Blogger pyrrhus February 19, 2019 12:06 PM  

The Promethean is an all time favorite of mine...

Blogger Eli February 19, 2019 1:46 PM  

Is that the Australian Trivago girl as narrator?

Blogger LR27 February 19, 2019 5:02 PM  

I have been wanting a hard copy of these. Is there a technical reason that they are not available in paperback or hardback?

Blogger Markku February 19, 2019 5:07 PM  

What are you talking about? Amazon has paperback of both.

Blogger VD February 19, 2019 6:24 PM  

Is that the Australian Trivago girl as narrator?

I can neither confirm nor deny that.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd February 19, 2019 10:14 PM  

John Cunningham, if it's not too much to share, who were you working for that sent you to both Kodiak and Prudhoe? Or was that different employers?

Blogger Daniele Grech Pereira February 20, 2019 1:57 AM  

Does anyone else refer to the English as "shit eaters"?

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