A new novel for teens of all ages

Save the Ritz? Dad’s in hospital and 16year old film buff and general layabout Clark Gable Stevens (Curlew to his friends) is faced with the biggest challenge in his life, rescuing his Dad’s cinema from the clutches of the developers. The obstacles are gigantic; the chances of success for Curlew’s Save the Ritz Campaign as likely as seeing a flight of pigs crossing the skies of Fetterton. Does destiny deter Curlew? Read on Kindle.

Author’s introduction
This story is set at a time when the only computers were as big as a house. Young people could not e-mail each other because there was no such thing as email and the mobile phone was light years away; and as for television – well, just a few of the better-off were installing their black-and-white sets. In rural areas, milk floats were pulled by horses; and plenty of folks had to go down the backyard to the lavatory. It was even possible to play football and cricket in the street without being mown down by motorists speeding to work. Going to the pictures was still the entertainment which got people out of their homes; unless they were in to dancing, in which case they'd gather to do the quickstep or the modern waltz in the church hall, or in the cities, the Palais de Dance. Girls got pregnant, but not quite as often as they do today and the best a boy could expect after a night out was a hug and a kiss – and a cold walk home. Life was often hard, but the pictures opened up the world to adventure, fantasy and romance. The local cinema held a very special place in the hearts of communities, far more than do the multiplex entertainment centres of today. However, in the minds of developers and businessmen out to garner profits after years of war and peacetime hardship, the future belonged to the shopping basket. Cinemas were prime sites for demolition and replacement by supermarkets, shopping malls and car parks. This was also the time when trams ceased to ply the streets of Britain, when thousands of miles of rail were closed in order to give free rein to the motorcar and the motorway. It was a time when old buildings came down and concrete skyscrapers began to take their place. Neighbourhoods vanished: was anybody consulted?

It is always a problem to know what, in the name of progress, should be held on to; what should be cherished and preserved in face of change. Each individual, each group of individuals, each community must decide for themselves. Sometimes there was conflict, though most often, resignation; only a few, like Curlew Stevens on behalf of his hospital-bound father, stood up to be counted.

Sample chapter
1. A slight accident Curlew Stevens opens the swing door of the Ritz cinema, Fetterton, and hears a terrible groan. 'Son,' comes the voice of his father, Leonard Lamont Stevens, proprietor, projectionist and movie maniac. 'I've had a bit of a tumble.' Curlew glances up at the trap door leading into the projection room, fondly known as the Cockpit. No ladder – so that means Dad forgot to descend the safe way. 'I tripped over Mrs. Mead's confounded mop and bucket.' Curlew has now been waiting in Hospital reception for a couple of hours. A doctor arrives with a clipboard under his arm. 'You are Mr. Stevens' next of kin?' 'I'm his son, if that's what you mean.' For a horrible moment he thinks Dad's passed on and joined the angels. 'My Dad's not –' 'Kicked the bucket? – not quite.' Curlew wonders whether the doctor always speaks to people like this. 'Do you have any older, mature relatives?' 'My Aunt Annie's mature.' 'Then we'll need to speak to her.' Curlew doesn't think this is a good idea. 'She's an archeologist, you see.' 'What's that got to do with anything?' queries the doctor. 'She lives in the past – with the Picts from over the border, and the Roman Ninth Legion. It's no good talking to her about the present. Can I see my Dad now, please?' 'You'll find him somewhat confused, having suffered concussion. He keeps claiming that saboteurs are trying to close down his cinema.' Curlew shakes his head sadly. 'Not saboteurs, just the Town Council. They want to shut the Ritz, flatten it and build a superstore.' 'Well your father will be out of action for almost as long as it takes to build a superstore.' He is joking a little, of course. 'Okay, let's say a month at least. And I have to warn you, he's going to be a bad patient. His right arm, right shin, left wrist and collarbone are broken. You'd better go and inspect the damage.' As Curlew enters Ward 3 a nurse approaches and hands him a bunch of dahlias. He recognises them instantly – they are from Mrs. Mead's husband's pride and joy, his greenhouse. So she really had left her mop where Dad would trip over it.

'Dahlias, Dad, they're good enough to win a prize.' The doctor had forgotten to mention Dad's bandaged head. 'Painful, is it, Dad?' 'Agony, son – all over.' Curlew asks, 'Are we insured, Dad, against accident?' 'Hadn't the ready cash to renew. But that's on one of my lists.' 'You've got to rest, Dad. Doctor's orders.' 'I'll rest in my grave, not before. Stuff the dahlias, or better still give them to the Sister with dark curly hair, with my compliments. Now are you listening?' 'I am, Dad. All ears.' ‘Right, now while I'm cooped up in here for a day or two –’ 'Longer than that, Dad.' Dad is hearing only himself. 'Pay attention, Clark – I've got a thousand and one things demanding urgent attention. I've made three Lists of Things to Do.' Curlew sighs. 'Give me the lists, Dad, but don't call me Clark.' 'Curlew was okay for when you were a child, Clark. That's over. From this day on, you're to be a man, ready to take on responsibilities. The Ritz cries out for rescue. It'll be touch and go, but I have every faith in you. Proud of you, indeed.' 'Thanks, Dad. But why don't we just face facts?' 'Facts? That's just what my three lists are designed to do. The first concerns matters of life and death. The second is very urgent and the third can be done at your leisure so long as it's completed by Wednesday at the latest. Are you listening?' 'Every word, Dad, honest.' All at once, the lifestyle of Curlew Stevens, happy-go-lucky wanderer of the highways and byways, is to alter drastically, probably for ever. As if to stress the point, Dad repeats himself. 'You're going to have to do some growing up, my lad...No more fantasies. These broken bones are for real. My life's work has just shot right over the precipice – only you can save it.' Curlew thinks, if there's a kid around these parts who needs to grow up, it's Dad. 'According to the Doc, Dad, you're going to be out of action for at least a month. The Ritz can't run without you. She's finished.' 'Finished? – my Ritz, my darling? How dare you say such things in front of a sick man?' 'She's falling down, Dad. A lump of ceiling nearly hit me on Friday night. We're in debt up to your neck. The bank won't stump up. TV's finished us off.' 'Never. One day people'll see the light. They'll flock back to the cinemas. I've seen a vision.' 'It's okay for you, Dad. They feed you in this place.' 'Get some chips. Mrs. Bulmer'll give you credit.' 'She's been giving us credit since Christmas.' 'Then throw yourself on the mercy of The Other Stevens.'

Dad always refers to his brother Alfred and his family as The Others; and sometimes as The White Sheep of the family. 'He's pots of money.' 'Uncle Alf doesn't even speak to you, Dad. Not since the language you used when he told you to sell the Ritz and get a real job.' 'Then get Sue to plead with him. She's a soft spot for you, always has had.' 'No she hasn't Dad,' replies Curlew, flattered and willing to be convinced; for Susan, the adopted daughter of Uncle Alf and Aunt Pheobe, is the golden girl of his dreams (unfortunately she is also the golden girl of a lot of other boys' dreams in Fetterton and beyond). 'And she's under orders not to mix with the likes of me.' 'So what is it makes her turn up regular as clockwork at the Ritz every Friday night?' 'A coincidence, Dad. Anyway, she likes films.' 'A coincidence that Fridays is your turn to do the projecting? Eh, and have that cosy little Cockpit all to yourselves?' 'She's been banned, Dad.' 'Talk to Sue. Five hundred quid will see us through. In the meantime, I shall not be idle, believe me. I have ideas. We'll hold an international film festival.' Curlew cannot choke back a groan. 'Oh no, Dad! Not foreign films with subtitles.' 'Whyever not?' Curlew does not want to upset his Dad: let him dream. He grabs the Lists. 'Got to fly. Long live the Ritz, eh?' Dad is already far away. 'I think I'll start with films from Korea. Or maybe Hungary...'
A review of Pigs Might Fly posted on Amazon Kindle, 2 May 2013: ***** Pigs Might Fly is a wonderful evocation of life in the recent past, however the passion shown by the main protagonist to preserve the local cinema remains as relevant today. This is fast moving, caper laden story of complex relationships, commercial greed and love of our cultural heritage. James Watson is clearly passionate about film and the education of his readers and this book will have you scampering to hire or buy some of the many films referenced in the course of the narrative as well as looking more closely at the architectural gems that are our old cinema buildings. This is a truly enjoyable book and it is to be hoped that a television producer chances upon it as Watson's expressive writing would translate very easily into a wonderful film. Buy this book, you will love it.

A caper laden gem

Other stories for Young Adults by James Watson: Sign of the Swallow The Bull Leapers Legion of the White Tiger The Freedom Tree * Talking in Whispers *

Where Nobody Sees No Surrender Make Your Move (and Other Stories) Ticket to Prague * Justice of the Dagger * Fair Game: The Steps of Odessa * * Now on Kindle For further information please go to the author’s combined website and blog:


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