|Proud mum Rose, with new pup Hugo|
We met at Annie’s, to discuss Rob's latest offering -- the closing chapters of his new novel The Sign. Chris announced that Rose had shown a preference for quality over quantity in delivering a litter of a single black-and-white Jack Russell puppy (see uncharacteristically cute illustration.) Linda was absent due to a headache, no doubt caused by the strain of the new pup’s arrival. Chris told us the puppy is called Hugo (after the Spurs’ goalkeeper, he says, but I think it's because Chris and Linda had been arguing over which of them should get up at night to check on the puppy: 'You go!', 'No, you go!')
Rob felt Annie’s appetising cake should be called something exotic (rather than simply 'Chocolate and Chick Pea Cake') in the style of the fantastical foods available at Auntie Faye’s Beach Cafe (Annie's children's book). Given the motif of Rob's novel, which draws heavily on the musical Cabaret, perhaps, ‘Annie’s Chocolate and Chick Pea Cabaret’ might have been suitable.
In our news roundup, Chris is reported to be stuck in the vicinity of chapter 19 (of his Karl Marx and Careful Driving), Annie’s Auntie Faye is in search of an agent, Izzie has found a mentor for her blogging activity (with her blog, The World According to Izzie now receiving up to 60 hits a day) and Rob continues his library talks, promoting his current book, No Mean Affair.
And so to The Sign. We all admired the skill with which Rob adopts different voices, using multiple narrative perspectives, but we all confessed to being confused. Chris wondered, 'Who the hell is the “Master of Ceremonies” narrating this bit?’ and Annie spoke for all of us when she said she found ' "the Sting Thing” difficult to cope with.'
Rob explained that ' "The Sting” has gone. The narration has gone to somebody else.' Considering that the previous working title had been The Sting Inside, we were all surprised to hear this. ' "The Sting” was too malignant,' said Rob. ‘I couldn't give him a sense of humour.' So now, the main narrator is the Master of Ceremonies character from the musical Cabaret, a figure Rob describes as 'a devilish comedian'.
Finally, the conversation turned unexpectedly away from Rob’s big themes of survivor guilt and destiny to the subject of interrobangs. An interrobang, for the uninitiated, is a non-standard punctuation mark in the form of a question mark superimposed on an exclamation point, used to end a simultaneous question and exclamation. The word apparently derives from a combination of ‘interrogation point’ (i.e. a question mark) and ‘bang’ (printers’ slang for an exclamation mark). I admitted to sometimes juxtaposing question marks and exclamation marks in my emails which, I suppose, is a kind of deconstructed interrobang. I hope you'll forgive me for starting this blog post as our meeting had ended, not with a whimper, but with an interrobang.