Carl Plummer was born in Kingston upon Hull (where William Wilberforce was born and where Philip Larkin died) in the east Riding of Yorkshire, a week before 1960. At age eight, he was reading Agatha Christie, Alistair MacLean, P.G. Wodehouse, and Ngaio Marsh. Did he understand them? He learned the words, but the depth of meaning – not so much.
Carl spent four years in Paris, teaching English but then decided he needed to go farther and went to Libya. He then took a job at a University in Xi’an, China teaching British and American literature to classes of sixty, sometimes eighty students. He started taking his writing seriously while living in Paris and wrote five detective novels that were rejected by agents - that was ten years ago.
Carl still wanted to write but write what he wanted to read. Having had a good think about the fiction he enjoyed most - humour and satire, and history. Could he combine them? What would happen to Bertie Wooster if he lost his little all, and his aunts and uncles lost their little alls? His allowances gone. And what of Jeeves? Such a schemer, such a brain. What if he was malevolent, and Machiavellian? He thought about his teenage years. Wet Sunday afternoons filled with old black and white movies: Ice Cold in Alex, The Cruel Sea, The Wooden Horse, The Colditz Story, Carve her Name with Pride, Where Eagles Dare, Went the Day Well? Mrs. Miniver, In Which we Serve, The Dambusters – It was a world of heroes, and then Carl had his hero…
Pelham Hardimann. (You may not like him at first, but he will grow on you. As he tells you himself: we must allow men their weaknesses). His Sancho Panza: Studely. And playing them both like a fiddle, Hammer. Carl threw in the class war, the personal stories, the strained friendships, the personal demons, and challenges with one huge backdrop – the fight of a sort of good against a definite evil. He wanted humour, not belly-laughs, but satire sprinkled with whimsical and philosophical meanderings, which meant avoiding the true horrors. Carl decided to keep it small and personal, at times almost domestic. The stories are drizzled with snippets you will recognise from those great films of the forties, fifties, and sixties. Think of Pelham Hardimann as an old man sitting at the fireside with you, beer in hand, telling tall tales of his daring-do. Allow him his indiscretions, his inaccuracies, and his embellishments. Allow him his moment.
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