Honky Tonk

A novel by Roy Boardman

The novel

World War II has ravaged London and the Barrett family is deranged by the shadow cast over postwar life. They stick to their dreams and struggle to make them reality, helped but at the same time frustrated by a new social order. Perce Barrett, who fought in WWI, attempts to make a living as an entertainer. His daughter Lilly and her husband Bill fantasize a life of winning the football pools and becoming champion ballroom dancers. Dot capitalizes on her experiences of the Blitz to write a novel. Alice Barrett, Perce’s wife, keeps the peace and quiet by making tea, being practical and keeping to herself her longing for a bathroom.

Larry Barrett, the youngest in the family, fails his Eleven-plus exam but learns to read and write, living through a crescendo of perplexities which materialize in the form of a ghost, the Great Smog of London, and the fascination of his enigmatic teacher of English. It is Larry, in spite of his limited linguistic resources, who writes the novel, struggling to find a means to express his experiences.

Honky Tonk is a powerful story of the way in which a working class family’s attempts to rebuild their lives are aggravated by social conflict and mysterious underlying forces. Their drama plays out in a South East London setting rich in characters whose lives mingle with those of the Barrett family.

Think about this...

Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In the moment, spontaneity is all.