9 thoughts on “The Bellboy – Rebecca Lloyd

  1. Pages 7 – 14

    Engaging start to the story of imaginative Walter (sometimes darkly imagining or dreaming of people (whom he knows) submitting to dire destinies) as he trains to become a bellboy at a central London hotel during the historical period when Battersea Power Station was being built. A posh hotel that impresses his working class parents at home and gives them vicarious pleasure as he tells them about the customers with whom he deals. Walter’s father works at a glue factory, it seems. Maybe the statue on the front cover will, one day, need glue to repair it. Wild imagining on my part! I do not intend to spoil the ongoing plot as and when I read it, so I may need to be more abstemious with my future comments here.

  2. —> Page 18

    “One of the chappies came as a gorilla, and tried to climb the curtains…”

    Walter’s yearning for being put on the night shift at the hotel, and thus meet its night denizens, as rumoured, is brilliantly in co-resonance with Charles Wilkinson’s hotel night guests, and those in the Hyde Hotel anthology, and Stephen Poliakoff films, and Flannery O’Connor’s man dressed as a gorilla! Telling that one reputed such night guest is a cruel man with the feminine form of the name Lesley. And there is a woman with her dress leaving a speaking bum bare to the air. All wonderfully conjured up in Walter’s mind.

  3. —> Page 37

    6C74B051-4BEE-46AD-A5B8-79D9F132199A

    Battersea Power Station as it was in 1934, then due to be built in two stages. I remember it best in the 1970s when I regularly commuted past it in a train; it had by then four towering chimneys. To the right are the towers of Thebes (I think), in honour to Walter’s seeming interest in Egyptology books. 2A227290-0889-455E-A053-9F7C96806E0E I feel I am back in the times when families harvested their entertainment from wireless programmes. When hope was in the air. While married working-class relationships were hard wrought. Walter found escape from his parents at the hotel. And escape from much else with his vicarious or vicious imaginings. I shall keep quiet about what Walter got up to in his duties at the hotel as his service progressed towards upper floors and even stranger characters… a compelling narrative that has just made me read far more than I intended this evening (as 2019 approaches apace.) The bellboy who rings in a new year… a new awareness of grabbing things amid even greater suffocation?

  4. —> Page 58

    “Bouff!”

    A bit like suddenly understanding the poignancies of mankind, that God is tosh and man’s past cruelties to woman as well as man’s rude bits seen thorough the slits in the sheet. A real sheet, but paper or linen? A haunting literary treatment of an age and its fantasising, except we do not (yet) hear the nature of Walter’s mother’s little fantasy… even if we do hear of his wishful and riparian fantasies, from his other mother, the inferred author? His yearnings as a 24 year old to be himself, to be unyoked from his parents. There is so much of fey substance building up here in the book, not only a hotel guest’s ancient, seemingly stinking detritus in her room but also the glorious tomb of Tutankhamun, I guess. Through the sheet.

  5. CB9DD020-C47B-44FD-B9E3-AA8C2AB0E2F4 —-> Page 82

    “He told her not a single lie that afternoon; and there never had been a time in his life before when he’d only spoken the truth.”

    But Walter speaks potentially to one who double-speaks as a twin in her hotel room, a lady with memories of Howard Carter, as we become fully steeped in the genius loci of the times, the titanic hand-held bell or bellboy of the power station, his riparian musings of patricide or suicide, his bolt hole away from the parental yoke now found? A boy to man of tall stories and beset by objective-correlatives conveyed by an earlier sunk ocean liner and bread pudding. A major work of literature? So far, I would not be surprised but, in different times, say, in the times of Walter, I am sure it would have been recognised as such, as perhaps it never will be in these days of viral over-kill.

  6. —> Page 108 (end)

    “Walter might not have known about being in love, but he knew what it was to hate someone.”

    We follow him along to the end of the hotel’s upper story where even an imprisoned Mrs Rochester might not have prevailed against the craziness that another craziness had killed and had left vilely to moulder. At least, the statue of a boy in the front cover picture would be helped by earlier mention of a glue factory, I guess. And an utter poignancy and future’s hindsight legacy or posterity of this book’s promise of literary traction as we witness a trial exorcism of Walter’s lies, as we indeed follow his own bells towards an exorcism thwarted by a cracked bell that rang untrue. No sanctuary from his own solipsistic vanity, after all? Bouff!

    “…and as he reached his hand up to ring the bell,…”

    “…the bells of the great church some streets away ringing out a complicated set of peals that stopped for a moment before a death knell began.”

    “…he searched the walls for a bell cord…”

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