Terms & Conditionsby Robert Glancy
Frank has been in a car accident – it turns out it was a bad one, and he’s lost his memory*. He can’t remember people, but can remember his job**. He works for the family firm, chaired by his older brother Oscar♦.
As he begins to remember things, he realises that everyone has something to hide♦♦. The only one who seems happy is his younger brother Malcolm♦♦♦. What is Frank to do?
If you hate footnotes, you should probably not bother reading further – but you would be missing a treat – for most of the jokes in this black comedy about modern life and finding oneself are in the myriad footnotes at the bottom of nearly every page. Although they are in small print, most are readable – although at one point, there is small print to the small print and I nearly had to resort to a magnifying glass (surely a deliberate move on the author’s part).
Frank’s piecing of his life back together is hilarious. As he begins to find things out and remember more it is also sad though – for it soon becomes clear that his relationship with his wife had not been a happy one for some time. She was no longer the rebellious fun girl he had married, instead she was now a skinny and driven HR manager.
My alleged wife, like many of my visitors, seemed very nervous when she came to see me.
Why? Where they worried I wouldn’t recognise them? May they were hopeful they’d be that special person – the key – the one whose mere presence would miraculously unlock me? Or was it that people were nervous because I’d been a complete bastard?
Was Old Frank a real twat?
I discovered early on that no one would tell me what I had really been like. When I asked my wife, she offered only the vaguest sentences; words that could have described a billion other people: ‘You were, are … a nice chap and funny, really driven and…’
It was like that awful ‘Personal Section’ in curriculum vitaes – my CV personality. So I accepted that I was the only one who could really discover who I once was – I knew no one would ever tell me the unvarnished truth.*
* No one would turn to me and say, You were such a c***-face, Frank. You hated life, detested your friends, and you were often found in parks furiously masturbating.
In trying to sort out the bigger picture, Frank realises that the devil is in the detail, although I’d argue that sometimes it works both ways. We suffer with him with each new discovery and each return of memories, and cross our fingers that he’ll find a way out. When he works out his plan, it’s bold and daring, but is revenge really worth it?
I could cope with the footnotes because they were often so funny, but I did find the chapter titles a little annoying. Each was ‘Terms and Conditions of …’. As most chapters were just a couple of pages, in big type they took up a lot of space, and could have been abbreviated to T&C rather than unsubtly reminding us to read the small print.
I wasn’t sure whether I liked Frank or not, but I did like his wit. I certainly disliked his wife and Oscar intensely. The whole business with the small print was also a great idea, and was executed well, although it was surprising to read that the author was a historian and not a lawyer! However, all that was enough for me to really enjoy reading it, and I had a good laugh. (8/10)
* He doesn’t remember his wife, but she’ll do nicely…
** He’s a top contract lawyer, specialising in the small print. The terms & conditions.
♦ He soon works out that Oscar is a shit!
♦♦ Including himself, and especially his wife.
♦♦♦ Who escaped to find himself in the Far East.
* * * * *
Source: Publisher – thank you! To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy, pub Feb 13 2014 by Bloomsbury, Hardback 272 pages.