The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor
|The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: All is well on Scilly is how this island policeman reported back to the British mainland every week. Everything here is certainly 'well', if not better.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: January 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Meet the Isles of Scilly. (I know they should be called that – the author provides a handy guide to the etiquette of their name, their nature and location, etc.) For our more distant readers, they're several chunks of granite rock out in the Atlantic, where Cornwall is pointing, with just 2,200 permanent residents. They're big on tourism, and big on growing flowers in the tropical climate the Gulf Stream bequeaths them – although the weather is bad enough to turn any car to a rust bucket within years. They're so wee, and so idyllic-seeming, especially at night, you can be mistaken for thinking there would be no need for a police presence. But there is – at least two working at any one time. And one of them in recent years has been Colin Taylor, who has done his official duty – alongside maintaining a well-known online existence, which has brought to life all the whimsical comedy of his work.
The book doesn't start off with the expected high humour though – instead we're eased into things as regards the man's prior experience of Scilly and his family's move there, with only a great change-a-lightbulb joke for company. But when we enter the realms of memoir we're on fine form. Here's the day Taylor locked himself in his cell with most unexpected company – a cell, mind, that had had nobody but the cleaner in it for eighteen months. We meet the colleague that proved just how unnecessary it is to test the sirens on the force Land Rover – on an island with eight miles of metalled road using it wouldn't gain you any time whatsoever. Here is the nightmare that is giving your friend and neighbour a parking ticket, and the delight when someone jumps right off the boat, gets a job – and proceeds to try and sell some skunk to a copper. All are just as laugh-out-loud funny as you would hope. And I seldom laugh out loud at books.
The author may well have made his name from a blog, but this doesn't read like regurgitated posts – although having said that it does begin in a quite repetitive fashion, and is very haphazard in subject and timeline by the end. You don't really care about the derivation of anything, here, however, when things are as funny as his social media message regarding roadworks and what road closures might entail. Taylor is pin-sharp in his warm dryness, and you feel he would be a great community copper – taking his practically pointless speed gun to a science fair and facing home-made rocket cars, cocking up the art of docking his own boat in the line of duty in full view of people who patently would know who he was…
He's circumspect about many actual cases he had to solve, and the work of both the criminals that do exist on the islands and him and his colleagues, so don't turn to these pages expecting any hard-hitting recollections of murderers, drug lords and the white slave trade. This is where you turn for an affirmation of British values – of community, of placid times, success and pleasure. This is the literary equivalent of a warm soak in a bath – with, of course, some passing Scillonian whalesong as company. It's as funny as I hoped, as gentle as I suspected, but could actually do better than my predictions. I've not been to the Islands yet, but this is a fine advert for them. If they have the soul and spirit of our author, they really would be the idyllic place people have told me they are.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Tweeness and comedy set in that corner of our lands can also be had with Once Upon a Time in the West… Country by Tony Hawks.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor at Amazon.com.
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The author said:
I'd like to thank John Lloyd for his considered review and kind words for my book. I hope he takes the opportunity to visit the Isles of Scilly dreckly. He will not be disappointed. Regards, Colin Taylor