Strangers in Another Country

Lawrence G. Taylor

strangers

 

A Day in the Life of Mr Charlie Cheddar

 

London. Summer, in the late ’60s

 

TODAY IS GOING to be an important day, so important that I wouldn’t be turning up for work, which is quite unusual for me. For I seldom stay away from my monotonous assignments, due quite frankly to the financial burden of having chosen to reside in this highly expensive city. My tasks are that of a low-ranking clerk, at one of Her Majesty’s North London Post Offices. And surely I will be missed, for I’m a good white-collar worker. At least that’s what my boss, Mr Armstrong, once or twice implied. It will be quite a busy day, for today is Saturday.

Before Big Ben strikes nine, I’ll have to summon up the courage to inform Mr Armstrong from my landlady’s telephone that I will not be coming in today. The pretext will be an ‘acute stomach ache’. About my absence, Mr Armstrong may not be happy, but I should be able to stand my ground, for I believe he holds me in high esteem: reliable, hardworking and trustworthy.

Mind you, Mr Armstrong isn’t someone easily fooled. It requires a well-performed act of insincerity to mislead him. Mr Armstrong is very rigid in his demeanours and is feared by us who work under his command. He’s a retired sergeant in Her Majesty’s Army, fought in the World War II, and is quite proud of his war effort against ‘them Jerries’. Soon his pension days will be upon him, and much to the delight of most of my colleagues.

This early morning of July already shows promising signs of bright weather. And with some hope, the day will be a turning point in my life. A certain event, planned to take place later on this supposedly blessed day, is expected to transform my lonely and unhappy life into one that will be cheerful and friendly.

Trustingly, it will no longer be an isolated existence, consisting of my mother’s letters of spiritual support, supportive of my ups but mostly downs in this vast, cold (in every sense) metropolis,

Strangers in Another Country Description:

Set in the late 60s the stories attempt to describe problems encountered by a handful of marginal men of colour with personal and social issues who find themselves on an elusive quest for a “better life” in two culturally different environments. The characters are West Indians, living in London, England and Stockholm, Sweden.

One customer review: ”If…you prize an honest voice and memorable characters that will remain with you long after you close the back cover, then this book has much to offer…The real magic of this book is its style. There is a particular and recognisable sound and shape to the fiction by men in the 60´s. The voice, tone, pacing are all quite different than
today´s stories…I am impressed with the raw potential of these. I hope to see more of them.”

The first tale is about loneliness, lovelessness, disappointment and despair in the life of Mr. Charlie Cheddar in London. However, a recently acquired friend Julian has promised to introduce him to Helen, believing that a love relationship would change his life to one of positivity. And so he is hopeful that the day´s event would restore happiness and joy in his life.

The following comes from another customer review: “my heart was stolen by Mr. Cheddar. I loved to live the life with Mr Cheddar, to feel his fears and wishes. And he even made me cry sometimes…”

The second story is about a young woman Betty and her act of humility that leads to a dispute with her much older boyfriend, David. The dispute is about an abandoned puppy in need of shelter, but it also sheds light on their personality and love relationship, Betty eventually finds herself in an uncompromising position. One way or another she must find a way to settle the dispute.

A customer review wrote: “Betty and the Black Puppy is a very powerful story. Taylor´s impartial writing style reflected in this novella.”

The third tale is a novelette that depicts unrequited love and friendship between a young West Indian man Binky and a young Swedish woman Linda. They first met in London, and friendship, with mild romantic moments, developed, dating regularly and petting before parting. After Linda´s return to Sweden Binky was invited there for a holiday. Being of a romantic disposition, he has hopes of obtaining her love.

According to one customer review, “Binky´s character emerges as a very strong and ambitious one, who is all set for enjoying a Swedish vacation with his friends.”

The final story is also a novella, about social and personal problems in the lives of a handful of marginal men of colour, with social and personal problems in the Scandinavian city of Stockholm. The characters are more or less in an elusive search for a better way of life. In the words of one reviewer: “Taylor´s writing style is very captivating and this book can be a wonderful experience to understand and witness the daily struggle and (lack of) solidarity of immigrated West Indians.”

The following themes are present in the stories: alienation lovelessness, loneliness, social and personal problems – whether real or imagined.

There is also humour, joy, disappointment, despair, sadness. Perhaps a glimmer of hope.

My interest in writing stories began in the 60s, a time when there was much going on regarding social, economic and political issues. I wanted mainly to write about some of my experiences and that of others from my part of the world. I was always interested in individuals who did not belong to the mainstream and their struggle to make something of themselves but never succeeding. Ethnic discrimination is present though I wished for it to be implicit or at least not too explicit, for I was more interested in the themes mentioned above.

The book recently received editing and proofreading by a professional.

I hope you enjoy these stories!

Thank you!
Lawrence G. Taylor

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