‘A very funny novel’ – Jack Dee UTTER FOLLY is a wicked comedy about an English country house weekend. When a young man visits a well-to-do friend’s family he learns some harsh lessons about love, loyalty, and the landed gentry, as his friend’s barely-legal sister tried to seduce him, he becomes a suspect in the efforts of a deranged policeman to nail a local retired rock star for drug trafficking, and ends up with all his illusions about the upper classes – including his friends – demolished. English country life will never be the same again after this story of the upper crust at its most half baked, peopled with eccentric characters and memorable events, including a village fete that turns into a riot, nude family sunbathing and a touch of S&M. Behind the hedges and the high stone walls, strange games are being played and none of them is croquet.
The day after I got thrown out of one of Britain's most prestigious theatre schools I started my own multimedia performance company. I realised it was the only way I would get to appear on a public stage now that everyone else agreed I shouldn't be allowed to. I began writing so I'd have something to say when I got there. The company flourished for ten years and then some of us formed an anarcho-surrealist punk band. I was the vocalist, and I use that word instead of 'singer' out of respect for singers. When a big record label got interested we immediately disbanded on principle. Or maybe on drugs, I forget.
During this time I also worked as a cab driver, a dj in a strip club, and a welder's mate, which isn't the same thing as a welder's friend; in my experience it's a terrified person who carries extremely heavy welding equipment along narrow girders very high up off the ground while the welder drinks tea and laughs at him.
Encouraged by being an object of ridicule I became a comedy writer. I wrote for many of the successful British radio and TV shows of the time, including Spitting Image, Smith and Jones, Rory Bremner, and Jasper Carrot. I wrote a BBC radio sitcom with Jeremy Hardy, and an award-winning show with Griff Rhys Jones and Graeme Garden, called 'Do Go On,' which I also produced. I wrote radio plays, which the BBC broadcast, with actors like Bill Nighy, Alison Steadman and David Hemmings. I was lucky enough to work with Spike Milligan, twice.
I also worked in the corporate world, which was my film school: I wrote more than fifty short films, and directed some of them. Later I made short films of my own, and I also wrote the screenplay for the feature animation movie The Magic Roundabout. I've also written a screenplay about underground comic book heroes The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, working with their creator, Gilbert Shelton. The film is in pre-production, where it's been for the last ten years. Somewhere along the way I also wrote music videos for Ken Russell and Kate Bush.
Meanwhile, I was also writing short stories, some of which were published and won awards, and eventually I began writing a novel. In truth I'd been thinking about the story for many years but I only began to write it when I was diagnosed with a serious illness. The world I created in the book was a place where I could escape from my illness, and I made it as engaging and funny as possible because I wanted to spend as much time there as I could. I hope you feel the same way. I don't mean I hope you have a serious illness; I mean I hope you enjoy being in that world, too. I've recovered from the illness now, but I'll never recover from writing.
My new sitcom, 'Reception,' is on BBC Radio 4 in June 2013.