My new book: The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers
Xerus Publishing publishes The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers – Richard Heller’s crazed memories of lockdown life in the plague year. Publication date 21 September Price £6.99 ISBN 978-1-8381654-0-6 Distribution: Vine House Distribution Ltd www.vinehouseuk.co.uk
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Cover and illustrations by Rupert Macnee
A wild escape from lockdown through fantasy, satire and sheer comic genius. Richard Heller is a man of letters, few of them answered, and a cricketer in the sunset of a career which never really had a dawn. He has been confined to his premises in Rubato Towers, London SE, which he shares with a mouse and two fornicating foxes. He gives regular piano recitals to his neighbours and they bang on the walls and ceilings to hear more – sometimes half the night, they just won’t let go. He has been free of COVID19 but suffers from a regular Mystery Virus, producing flu-like symptoms, which he named after Peter Mandelson. He is writing an autobiography, full of the famous people who knew him, called My Goodness, How I Roared! and compiling a set of upbeat homilies called Happy Talk, tasks regularly interrupted by the tiresome Prodnose. He faces competition in the upbeat homily market from the Resident Mouse. His entourage expands to include a poetic cockroach who claims to be the famous archy and a bridge-playing goldfish.
– The secret life of the Queen and Nadia the Tiger
– What Neil Armstrong nearly said on the Moon
– New ways to mock Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Xi Jinping, the under-derided Paramount Brute running China
– The invasion of sex-crazed jellyfish
– The dramatic story of Shakespeare’s performing bear
– Songs, light verse and a short screenplay
– Store cupboard recipes for a repeat lockdown (including pilchards with dried apricots)
– Keir Starmer’s past life as Cheeky Keir, risqué variety entertainer
Richard Heller is a Master of the Arts of Oxford University and of many other arts besides. He went to Repton School and Balliol College. He was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail On Sunday and more briefly on The Times. He was also the main non-fiction book reviewer for The Mail On Sunday for seven years. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He wrote two cricket-themed novels A Tale Of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two finals on BBC Television’s Mastermind: one of his specialist subjects was Sir Garry Sobers. He was chief of staff to Denis Healey, then Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and Gerald Kaufman, then Shadow Home Secretary. With Peter Oborne he wrote White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket (shortlisted for the MCC/Cricket Society book of the year in 2017). They are currently making podcasts to relieve the cricket-deprived.
Illustrator Rupert Macnee is a creator and producer of television series in England, Canada and the United States, including profiles of Marvel’s Stan Lee, comic artist Jim Steranko, and the creators of Dudley Doright. He studied drawing at the Otis Parsons School in Los Angeles, and developed the character of John Kniteright, a legendary English tabloid journalist. Rupert’s father was the actor Patrick Macnee, who portrayed the immaculate secret agent John Steed in The Avengers.
From The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers
“I have received an email from the Queen asking me to form a government of national salvation. Since there is no cricket, I will consider her invitation but I cannot understand why she needs all my bank account details.”
“Jonathan Swift would never have sent Boris Johnson to Lilliput because it would imply that there was something to diminish.”
A sunlit day without cricket to watch or play is an Imperial gallon of gall, and as Julius Caesar discovered, all gall is divided into three parts, resentment, rancour and rage.
No one seems to know why bat shit became the acme of craziness. It seems very unfair. Like all creatures bats have to shit sometimes, and they often have to wait until all the bears have left the woods. There was a wonderful nature film about bats some years ago, and the star was Mama Bat. She flits around all night. Partying? No way. Desperately looking for food for Baby Bat. Finally she does a supermarket swoop on something and schleps it home – a bat cave with thousands of baby bats, all kicking off for food at a pitch beyond even my reach at the piano at Rubato Towers. In all that kickoffony, Mama Bat can tell which individual squawk belongs to her baby. What a performer! She should take over from the pelican as the emblem of motherhood. No mention of any help from Papa Bat. Probably does not even shave, like Peppa’s deadbeat dad, and just hangs upside down in the cave watching sports replays. Maybe some mama bats can’t take it any more, and they’re the ones that go crazy.
“However, it would take ten thousand overwrought mama bats dumping in the same place at once to generate the President of the United States.”
“Confirming that housework is more violent exercise than cricket, I strained my back mopping the ground floor at Rubato Towers. I blame the communal mop, which is the wrong size for me. After just a few swabs I felt as if I had batted for 20 overs (a rare experience, I admit) with a child’s bat. But thanks to this interfering government, I cannot now go to the mop-makers in Savile Row to have one hand-tailored.”
“A fine romance with no clinches
A fine romance at 78.7 inches
We should be making each other feel desirous
But we’ve been kept apart by this blasted virus
A fine romance with no hugging
If this is romance I’d rather have a mugging
We’re spaced out like a couple of desert plants
Our life is a set of can’ts
This is a fine romance.
“A fine romance, with no dances
And no close-ups but distant glances:
We used to kick and twirl like a Broadway chorus
But now we keep apart like two lovesick walrus.
A fine romance, my good fellow,
With no love songs unless we bellow.
A fleeting kiss is simply too great a chance,
When we’re locked in durance,
This is a fine romance.”
“I also bought some Arabic tuna. It is not dolphin-friendly. In fact, I could hear it mouthing “Who are you looking at, Flipper, you perv?” I am planning a book on Flipper and other famous performing dolphins of the past. It will be called Great Ex-Cetaceans. There will be a lot of sex in it because dolphins are sex-crazed, as much as sea urchins and with many more opportunities.”
“Boris Johnson is the David Brent of British politics. Idle, incompetent and over-promoted but he still expects to be loved as an entertainer.”
“Life is just the bread in your sandwich of dreams.” From Keep Squeaking Through, uplifting homilies by Mortimer Mouse.
Praise for The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers
“There is nothing to match this in world literature.”
Will Thisdo in Bookhypers Journal.
“Droll … Dashing… Definitive… Dazzling!”
Al Literative in The Ultimate Guide To Figures Of Speech
P. R. Handout in The Evening Puff
“Richard Heller is the Raffles of comic literature, the elegant burglar of wit and fantasy.”
A.J. Snide, author of But That’s Enough About Me
“A useful if sporadic review of recently published mollusc research”
Journal of Molluscan Studies
Richard Heller is extremely available
– For interview or profile in any medium
– For video, photographs and selfies
– To contribute to any literary festival, society or blog
– To present the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School and similar institutions
– As a guest speaker
– As a cocktail pianist (especially for exit music)
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org – and to ask for a review copy
In due course, Xerus Publishing will be glad to look at proposals for new comic fiction or new books about cricket. But not now. Any submissions will be treated with ignoral.