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The Blade and the Passion

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Robson, London, 1993
hardback price: £10.95; 166 pages

The blurb on the back:

The late, great Les Dawson is at his funniest in this his last book - a rollicking, lusty saga of sex, love and deceit.
As he himself described it: '
The Blade and the Passion is not just a saga of rich, rumbustious adventure, it is a record of an era so lusty and physical that it makes the reader want to wear a truss. Within these pages the devoted reader will meet the real Quasimodo - a dwarf whose sword was so swift it could sever a trout's eyebrows in mid-gulp. Meet Florence the whore, reeking of mystery and an old singlet. Read of the perversions of Richard the Lionheart and his two scandalous friends, Ben Doon and Phil McCaverty. Your heart will bleed for poor Walter the Moron who was left by his mother on so many doorsteps that he called a yoghurt carton "Dad"...'
All of history's pageantry and a host of famous figures await the reader's perusal: there's the Man in the Iron Mask, with sword and Duraglit; Maid Marion, who loved Robin Hood (alias Joe Rabinsky, a lapsed rabbi and clarinet varnisher); Lord Nelson, Captain Biythe, sex, torture, blood-chilling exploits - all these and more run riot in this hilarious romp. Bound together by Les Dawson's outrageously anarchic sense of fun, it is a rich legacy of laughter which will be enjoyed by his countless fans.

opening lines:
I confess that I had tired of Paris that burning summer.

This gives me no great pleasure to say, but Les Dawson’s final, posthumously published, novel, simply isn’t any good. Far from having realized the potential of his first venture into fiction, A Card For The Clubs, it’s actually a retrograde step, a tedious would-be romp that lacks any point at all. There’s no structure, no coherence, no sense of reality (and – as Ted Bovis used to say – the first rule of comedy is: you gotta have reality). Instead what you get is an ill-assorted collection of historical sillinesses, rather like Jabberwocky filtered through The Goodies without any discipline. Only not as good as that sounds.

Even Dawson’s normally sure sense of language is not enough to retrieve anything from the wreckage.

I am sorry to have to pass this judgement, because I have a lot of respect for much of Dawson’s work, but really this is a deeply disappointing way for a great comic talent to have bowed out.


from the maker of...

A Card For The Clubs