The Book of Dave

The Book of Dave by Will Self Read Free Book Online

Book: The Book of Dave by Will Self Read Free Book Online
Authors: Will Self
pulled away: Superb Sid, Sid Gold … picked 'im up last year outside the old Curiosity Shop … He was looking pretty fucking flush, pretty pleased with 'imself. Bespoke fucking whistle, cashmere overcoat, the whole bit. He wouldn't've done me any favours if I'd reminded 'im of the perm he used to sport at school. He became a brief, didn't 'e, criminal fucking brief – in both senses. Gave me his card. Ponce. Still, he's the type I'm gonna need because that Cohen cow ain't gonna come through. If I'm gonna see the boy again, I'm gonna have to get some dirt on that cunt Devenish. There has to be some … there always is … all you gotta do is dig.
    'My oldest son would be fascinated by this stuff,' said the fare, who'd relaxed now they were trundling past Little Venice
and up through Maida Vale. 'He's a history geek … gets it from his dad, I guess.' The fare looked about him at the five-storey
Tudorbethan apartment blocks, and, as if taking comfort in their solidity, unglued his hands from the handles and at last
eased himself back in the seat.
    Dave hit the intercom button – a plastic nubbin incised with a hieroglyphic head: 'Yeah, I always think of Watling Street
as a sorta time tunnel, connecting the past with the present.' What's the point in knowing there's a time tunnel there if you've got no one to go down it with? Now I understand that I learned this city to hold in my mind for a while – then lose it to my boy. Without him it's starting to disappear like a fucking mirage.
    'It must be busy for you now … before Christmas?' The fare was uncomfortable with Dave's extravagant image, but thass alright, he's paying to feel superior as well as be driven. Superior in knowledge, superior in wealth, he don't need some hack to tell him he's neither.
    'Yeah, busy enough, I'm out in the begging box all hours.'
    'Begging box … ? Oh, I get it.'
    'But come New Year town'll be dead as a doornail. We call it the kipper season.'
    'I'm sorry?'
    "Coz it's flat – nuffing 'appening 'til the spring.' When the Ideal-fucking-Home-Show hits town, more ponces than you can shake a roll-neck at. Then the headscarf-and-sleeveless-anorak mob up for the Flower Show, Chelsea Bridge crammed with shuttle buses and off-roaders that've never even slid off the fuckin' gravel drive. Benny used to clear out to Tenerife on the banana boat for the kipper season. Said he could live out there all winter for five bob a day, come back when the trade picked up again.
    They passed Fratelli's, a glass-container bistro below the deck of the new Marriott, then the cab flipped up on to the Kilburn
High Road. The shitty little shopping centre at Kilburn Square teemed with bat-eared London Irish kids exchanging benefit money for synthetic-furred animals with glued-on eyes. Cheapo chavs … baggy fucking tracksuits … flapping their skinny arms. Still, Dave felt at home here – he'd reached the right circle of the city, the one where he more or less belonged. Built up
over centuries in concentric rings, like the trunk of a gargantuan tree, London districts derived their character from their
ring: Kilburn, Shepherd's Bush, Balham, Catford – all of them grown from the same barky bricks and pithy masonry.
    The rain had died away to a cellulite pucker of drizzle on the brown puddles, and there was an oily gloss on everything. The
wipers 'eeked' to a standstill. Dave tried to make the lights at Willesden Lane and failed. He pulled up short in the yellow
net of lines thrown across the junction and applied the handbrake with its wooden stair creak. The Kilburn State Ballroom
leaned over them, posters peeling away from its diarrhoea tiling. Fucking Taigs, dumb Paddies, with their hurdy-gurdy show bands and their leaky-eyed, pissed-up, violent lovelessness, worshipping a sexless cow with her chest hacked open. The fare was looking through the speckled windows at the old navvies, flannel trews lashed round Guinness

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