Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane – Why 2005?


Some of those who’ve seen the proofs for my new novel Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane (published 26 February 2013) have asked me why I used a 2005 setting for the book. The answer is quite simple, it was contemporary as I wrote, I started the book when I was writer-in-residence at York University in May and June of that year, then completed it over the summer of 2005. Therefore the exhibitions and news events I mention were what was going on around me.

The biggest news event of 2005 in the UK was the 7/7 bombings in London. I was back home from York when these took place and experienced at first hand the chaos the attacks caused around London. The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour.

On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist home-grown terrorists detonated four bombs, three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two civilians and the four bombers were killed in the attacks, and over 700 more were injured. Homemade organic peroxide–based devices packed into rucksacks caused the explosions. The bombings were followed exactly two weeks later by a further series of attempted attacks.


The 7/7 bombings were incorporated into the narrative of Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and sensitivity about the subject in its immediate aftermath was such that when I’d completed the book my treatment of the subject didn’t go down well with UK publishers. They didn’t seem to understand that the narrator is deluded when he wrongly concludes the 7/7 bombings were carried out by pagans and decides to emulate them.  Among my many intentions was a desire to parody the ridiculous 7/7 conspiracy theories that emerged very quickly after the bombings, and to try to get people to see that all terrorists are reactionary scumbags regardless of the ideology they spout (and this applies to Leninist or anarchist terrorists as much as pagans or those who claim they are ‘making the world safe for democracy’).

Since among other things editors were wary of taking on a novel that was narrated by a suicide bomber, Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane didn’t find a publisher in the mid-noughties despite being sent to the usual UK based suspects. My last book Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie was completed 5 years after Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane and there was no delay in its publication. Blood Rites was also started but not finished when I had a writer-in-residence post, but at Strathclyde University rather than York. Aside from these two anti-novels, none of my other books were written (or rather partly written) as a writer-in-residence.



2 thoughts on “Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane – Why 2005?

  1. groovy

    Conspiracy theory or not there sure are some weird factual coincidences that raise your eyebrow with 7/7. A terrorist exercise that was happening on the same day at the exact same locations for example.

    Just like 9/11 the anomalies are much greater than the evidence that meets the headlines. Luckily they assassinated Bin Laden rather than deal with the complications a trial may invoke.

    Rex Tom, FBI Director of Investigative Publictiy stated in 2006 that:
    “The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

    Sorry to be the first nut job to comment on your book.

    • Even if the information in the video is correct – and I’m not going to waste my time on trying to verify it – I don’t see what it proves…. The description beneath goes way beyond of the alleged ‘facts’ presented in the video… Terrorists and counter-terrorist are likely to come up with the same scenarios for causing disruption at a strategic location like London. Lots of people from around the world are in London at any given moment etc. Also immediately after the attacks they were just reported as fires on the underground, and there were reports of some in places where there weren’t in fact bombings. The authorities appeared unprepared, certainly in much of inner London (and I was inside the ring of attacks when they took place) all mobile phone connections went down and this was presumably the authorities doing what they could to prevent panic. If they’d been behind the attacks for the reasons stated beneath the video you’d have expected them to have encouraged panic….

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