The aristocracy – never had a problem with it until I decided to write a short story about werewolves in high society. Now it turns out there’s a bit missing from my grammar playbook.
Do I write:
‘I’ll bring the car around, Ma’am.’
or is it:
‘I’ll bring the car around, ma’am.’
I was pretty sure it was the second one because I ran across a similar problem while I was writing the Quisling Orchid. The book has a lot of dialogue (as all good books seem to), and a lot of Nazis (not necessarily a requirement for a good book). In this case, I knew I should write:
‘And why did you feel the need to let her go, sargeant?’
Small ‘s’ for sargeant, so I figured it was the same for the aristocracy:
‘I’ll have him flogged, your ladyship.’
though I had this notion that maybe ‘ladyship’ needed a capital letter:
‘I’ll have him flogged, your Ladyship.’
And that just looks weird.
Time for a [insert your favourite search engine here] search, and one of the first results that came up was from Merethe Walther’s seriously excellent blog. This page covers every common capitalisation rule, and a couple I hadn’t thought of. Definitely worth a read if you’re not sure, and still worth a read if you’re absolutely positive you’re doing it right.
That’s what this book is about; well, no; it’s about a lot more than that. It’s one of those books which’ll give you something, depending on who you are, and the kind of life you’ve had, I suppose.
It’s the story of a fella called Jesse, who leaves his family and the church of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the West Midlands, and ends up working as a gay prostitute in London.
On his journey, which begins as a teenager in the sticky throes of sexual awakening, and ends with discovery and salvation, Jesse meets discards and is abandoned by a cast of characters who are so well-drawn you can almost hear them breath. His hideous mother is a rare literary treat, and his step-father, who I’m still quite ambivalent about, is a man who has the kind of problems you’d expect for a white man who’s taken on a black son in a country that is on the verge of losing the tolerance it was once renowned for. As Mendez recounts memories of being constantly asked Where you from?, and other examples of casual and not-so-casual racism (the scene where a mate of his step-father washing a mug Jesse had used as though he’d been sick in it was pure genius – not just because of the writing, but because stuff like this happens so often during the course of your life that it sort of just fades into background. But here it was, so of course it wasn’t just me).
My favourite lockdown binge so far, though it’s kind of hard to describe: a cross between Killing Eve and Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus even makes a cameo appearance). It’s funny, inventive, has one of the best deadpan cast of characters I’ve ever seen. (Nick Offerman is pure genius), and the script is a pared-down thing of joy. Devs takes place round about now-ish and is the story of a company that is working to develop the holy grail of computer systems: a quantum machine that can
Don’t look if you haven’t see it!
generate a simulation of any event, past, present, or future by calculating the probability of the events connected to it, no matter how distant they are. A bit like a machine that can work through the Butterfly Effect.
Yup, a game-changer, and the shady techs behind it will kill employees, foreign spies and just about anyone else to keep it a secret.
Devs is a slow-burner: the set (especially the computer – they’re actually working inside the computer!) is a work of art. The whole piece is quiet, atmospheric with dialogue that works effortlessly around some pretty mind-blowing concepts: probability, quantum computing, multiple universes: they’ve thrown the whole Sci-Fi manual at it, and still managed to keep it compulsive viewing. As I’ve said, it’s a standout performance by Nick Offerman (remember Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation?) as the haunted CEO of the company, wracked with doubts over what he’s trying to do.