Rabbitte Guts 7
It’s been a brilliant summer. The summers in the ’80s, like most things about the ’80s, were shite.
Jimmy Rabbitte doesn’t really believe that, about the ’80s. It just seems to come natural. Whenever the ’80s get mentioned, you have to slag them, or it. But the ’80s were no worst than now. Although, granted, he never experienced the ’90s, or the ’00s, because Doyle wasn’t using him; he was kind of on the fictional dole, being kept asleep in the spare room in the back of Doyle’s head.
The ’00s – is that how you refer to the last decade? No one seems to know and a decade without an agreed name can’t have been that fuckin’ great.
Anyway. It’s a bit chillier in the early mornings but three of his four kids have gone back to school.
And that worries Jimmy.
He’s all in favour of education and that, and his eldest, Marvin, is starting college and Jimmy couldn’t be prouder. So, it’s not the fact that they’re going back to school that worries him. It’s the fact that it might be the last time he’ll ever be seeing them going back to school. He might be needed again; he might not be. Doyle doesn’t know.
It’s strange, the relationship between a writer and his characters – and the readers. Doyle’s book, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, was very popular when it came out in 1993, and many people assumed, because Paddy was ten in 1968, when the book is set, and Doyle was also ten in 1968, that Paddy was Doyle. A woman in Australia even wrote to him, hoping that his life was happier now.
But, really, once the book was finished, he never gave another thought to Paddy Clarke. He’d no creative interest in him. He never existed outside the book, so Doyle never wondered how he was getting on.
But Paula Spencer, in The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, didn’t exist either and Doyle thinks about her all time. He wonders how she’d react to news he hears on the radio, wonders what she’d think of a song he’s listening to, wonders how the years are treating her.
Why does he forget about some characters, yet becomes almost married to others? Doyle isn’t sure, but he doesn’t think it’s emotional. It’s more than likely brutal. He thinks about them because they might be of use to him. Paddy Clarke is of no use to him. Doyle has no interest in Paddy’s teenage years – so he’s never had any. The poor kid never got to masturbate, not even once.
Paula survives because he thinks he might go back to her; there might be another book there. Rover, the dog from his children’s books, survives because Doyle mightn’t be finished with him; he isn’t sure.
Then there’s Jimmy. As a fictional character, he thinks he’s done a reasonable job. He’s filled two novels, a couple of short stories, a film and now he’s rehearsing for a West End musical. But after that? Will he see his kids coming home from school? Will he ever see grandkids? Will he ever see Liverpool win something, fuckin’ anything?
Doyle, the heartless prick, won’t tell him.