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Issue 91 - Radio silence

Whisky Magazine Issue 91
October 2010


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Radio silence

Jefferson Chase reviews another whisky laden tome

Anyone who has ever worked at a TV or radio station knows that broadcast journalism is a mix of mind-numbing routine and mind-boggling absurdity. And that's exactly what we get in Chris Paling's brisk and entertaining 2000 novel The Silent Sentry.

The book is set at BBC radio, and as it opens, the hero Maurice Reid is in a major mid-life rut that leads him to consult a doctor about his nonexistent sex life. After a heart to heart chat, he's asked to provide a sample he assumes is intended to check his sperm count: Maurice closed the door behind him and took out his warm jar. ‘There.' He held it out proudly.

The nurse put the envelope down and took the jar from him. She looked at it and coughed, though it could have been a stifled laugh.

‘Is there not enough or something?' Maurice said wretchedly.

‘It was a urine sample we were after Mr. Reid.' After a first scene like this, it's impossible not to sympathise with Maurice as he stumbles from one humiliation to another.

Maurice's girlfriend has just chucked him out, and he's forced to live in his office, sometimes with his young son in tow. He's also terrified of losing his job in a rationalisation initiative that is sweeping the Corporation, and he's never gotten over losing his ex-wife to an unusual rival: Polly lived in Brixton with their four-year-old son Will and a woman called Val. She and Maurice had been separated for two years, and divorced for one, but Maurice still used the local doctor and dentist because ...

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