I’m extremely happy to have finally completed the first draft of my second novel ‘Catch of the Day’. The working title was always Pornofish, but I realised fairly early on that this wasn’t going to fly. The main reason for this: porn was not a recognised term in the early 70s! During my research I discovered that pornography in the film sense was referred to in this period as Stag films or Blue movies. The terms hardcore and softcore porn didn’t come into regular usage until much later. I remember my dad having nuddie books and nuddie calendars, which as kids we often called mucky books. In the early 70s, it was Playboy and Penthouse. Later on, once the Danish publishers got going, all sorts of filth started to appear.
As my novel is set between Sept 1973 and August 1974, which in the UK is a school term, the original title had to go. I’m a little miffed about this, although I can see that it might limit sales. Catch of the Day is much more subtle.
What am I writing about this time? In a nutshell, growing up in a northern fishing town in the UK in hard times. In the novel, Pogsy (the protagonist) is aged 10 going on 11, I remember this age as a sweet-spot, when the world of imagination was beginning to fade and the world of realism was taking over. Timewise, Pogsy’s transition into an adult happens to coincide with massive worldwide upheaval. In the summer/fall of ’73 we had the Second Cod War with Iceland, and war in the Middle East, which initiated an oil crisis, which in turn caused the price of petrol to skyrocket. Edward Heath’s government soon came under pressure from the Miner’s Unions who wanted more money, and caused power shortages / blackouts in order to get it. The government response was to declare a three-day working week and petrol rationing. There was a flour shortage and later a sugar shortage. But people got by and made do. Having a sense of humour helped.
For Pogsy, this is a very exciting time to be alive. The reduced working week means less security misters going about their business. With the help of his gang, he’s able to build the greatest den in the history of dens, hidden away in a secret location – until a new kid in class threatens everything he’s built. With no cameras or mobile phones, and a lot of relative freedoms, we get to take part in all of Pogsy’s adventures and confrontations, sharing in his ups and downs, and one of the great mysteries of life: why are grown-ups so stupid? Pogsy discovers that his dad has a side-business dealing in fish, which is the main currency of the town’s underground black market. He notices that with the end of the Cod War, there is less fish to go around. When Great Britain joins the Common Market on 1st January 1974, and all the UK’s inland fishing grounds are opened up to French and Spanish trawlers, the repercussions for the town are catastrophic. Dad is soon forced to find a new currency, which is acceptable to all the traders he has to deal with. Pogsy sets out on a quest to discover what it is.
First draft complete. Let the editing begin!