Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Foot Soldiers

By Paddy Bostock
Action/Humour, 452 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud

Blurb: Outraged at the market economic policies adopted by their university, the Podiatry department kidnap a senior academic in protest. The chance coincidence of the interests of the gutter press, Welsh Freedom Fighters, and a Prime Minister struggling for re-election ensures a minor campus story escalates into cataclysmic national proportions.

Excerpt: Professor Marvyn "Clyde" Zinkin was furious, an increasingly frequent phenomenon since his move to the UK, and one that was starting to cause him concern. Stateside, his blood-pressure had been consistently described by doctors as that of a "resting athlete," but now he reckoned it closely resembled that of a kangaroo ice-dancing.

"Whaddya mean the Podricyclists ain't buying it?" he spat at Dr. Malcolm Moon, the bearer of bad tidings, who was teetering at the edge of the Presidential-style cherrywood desk, his bony, blanched knuckles pressed into the gleaming surface for support, wondering how long he would be able to hold onto his breakfast.

"The hell they ain't. The other damn Ps bought it and so will they," Clyde bellowed, jerking his tanned quarterback frame forwards from its high-backed, black-leather swivel so the Charlton Heston torso beneath his white button-down shirt covered the major part of the desktop, and the ice-blue eyes above the remoulded nose and the cosmetic Rock Hudson cleft chin were only withering inches away from Dr. Moon's watery yellow irises.

"An' you better believe it, Mal. Toe-pickers?" he said, springing from his chair, grabbing a remote from the back pocket of his specially imported Lee jeans-the ones that built America-and marching across to his full-wall, Power Point display on which, alphabetically arranged, were all the subjects he had already axed from the university's once wide-ranging offer.

"Philosophics bought it," he told the cringing don, who had begun to gulp much in the manner of a haddock out of water. "Psychiatrosis bought it. Psychologomy bought it. Pekingese bought it..."

Cantonese, Professor Zinkin," Malcolm corrected, pedantry surfacing even in his current anguish.

"Political Studies bought it. Practically all the goddammed Ps bought it. An' now you're here to tell me Podricyclists ain't buying it?" Clyde fumed, oblivious to the intervention and zapping at the remote to indicate the spaces where once seminal subjects featured as death masks and PODIATRY was lit up in red with a skull and crossbones flashing over it in black.

"They are very reluctant, Professor, given the potential financial benefits they claim to be inherent in the treatment of feet, and also the principle of the matter," Moon said before his knees gave way and he collapsed onto the single wooden stool Zinkin allowed for petitioners on the opposite side of the Presidential cherrywood number.

"The As bought it…Angly Saxonics, Anthropologism, Archaeologics…all those guys went for the deal big ways. The Bs...the Cs...the Ds, all the way through to the goddam Ps," Clyde said, whipping the remote along the defunct subject line of his projection-analysis screen. "So why not the goddam Podricyclicists?" he barked, returning to his swivel, appraising his computer briefly before hitting the auto-piss-off button on a series of e-mails, and then staring down at Malcolm Moon.

"Did I say you could sit, Mal?"

"I felt I needed to, sir."

"'Nother weak-kneed Brit, huh? You guys gonna be the death of me.

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