Skip to main content
Read the first two chapters

Buy the Book

Buy a signed first edition of flash Farce from Ian
Buy now £9.99
Buy Fish Farce on Amazon
Buy now £9.99

I have worked in the restaurant business as a chef for most of my working life. After training I worked in small restaurants and eventually opened my own. In the year 2000 circumstances conspired to lead me down the route of becoming a freelance chef, offering my services to anyone requiring my skills. This led to some interesting and unusual jobs. Best of all was teaching which I took to like a duck to sauce a l’orange.

Covid proved a hiccup in all the things I was doing and as I had reached the age of receiving a modest stipend from the government I thought it was time to hang up the apron – well not quite. Like actors, artists and writers I doubt whether chefs ever properly retire. After all, you have to cook your own supper.

However this still didn’t take up much of the time I still had on my hands. I expanded a few of my other interests . I had always dabbled in photography and painting was something I now had time for – not that this meant I was any good.

I had always secretly harboured a desire to write a novel. Secretly, because I could just hear in my imagination a chorus of ‘What is a chef doing writing a novel?’ Also, it is not a bad idea, before you open your mouth, to prove, if just to yourself, you can stay the course to string 100,000 words together regardless of whether they make any sense.

I am an early riser and I find the peace of being about at six in the morning perfect for sitting down with a cup tea and a brain fresh from sleeping to give your imagination a bit of freedom. I think it was Terry Pratchett who said that writing was the most fun you could have on your own. I know what he means; there are many positives about the act of writing and I am not talking about commercial success because when you start writing, that is about as likely as winning the lottery.
First is the fun of being able to create characters, plots and situations and be in control of them. Secondly is using any experience you have picked up over the years to weave into your narrative – some of them might have come from the things you remember, others are dragged up from your subconscious that make you think, in retrospect – where the hell did that come from? The third thing is research and that is not just looking things up on the Internet but sometimes doing something one of your characters has to do to know what it feels like – although I draw the line at sky-diving.

I finished my 100,000 words now knowing I, at least, had the staying power for that. I put it away for a while and a few months later read it through and started the tortuous process of re-writing, correcting errors and polishing the text. If you are still with me the book is called Fish Farce. There is very little cooking in it and it is not about the restaurant business.

The main plot is about a young man who discovers the father he grew up with was not his biological father. With very little evidence he sets out to try and find him. Along the way he meets characters and situations he would not normally come across. He suffers set-backs and disappointments, finds love and eventually the odd circumstances that led to his existence.

If you think that sleaze, scams, pyromania, sex, blackmail, Elvis Impersonators, art forgery, drugs, nudity, heavy metal rock music and fish are your thing you might enjoy this book. Even 8 out of ten might do it!

{ Chapter 01 }


The road up to the church, flanked by banks of wild flowers and grasses in the summer, this winter’s day was wet and muddy. What little traffic there was had splashed the grass at the verge making it drab and dirty. It spattered the wheel arches, back and sides of the white vehicle as it drove up the lane. The church at Tidwick was on a raised plateau and it looked down across the marshes. On a clear day you could see the sea.

A light dusting of snow had fallen in the night. The vehicle pulled up by the low wall left of the lych gate and a man got out. He put his collar up against the cold and pulled the knitted hat down over his ears. He held a flat, crudely wrapped parcel in his hand. There was no one about as he went through the gate. Old gravestones leant against the inside of the wall where the man had parked his vehicle. The grass was longish and matted, woven with weeds and studded with the remaining leaves of autumn. He took a path to the left that skirted the church on the seaward side. Snow decorated the tops of the gravestones in precarious little pillars and odd shapes. It lay on the ground in patches copying the rectangles that were a feature of some plots – as if they were blankets keeping the dead warm.

He left the path and wound his way between the graves as if making for the edge to look out over the view to the sea. But he wasn’t going to look out to sea. He reached a gravestone that was relatively new compared to the worn and pitted stones of the older graves. There was a small angel, cherubic looking, carved into the top and he wiped the snow from it with a gloved hand before removing the glove and touching the name on the inscription with his fingertips like a man reading Braille.

He knelt like that for a moment and then as if it was an afterthought he remembered the parcel. He folded back the edges of the white paper to reveal a small flat fish. The skin shone in the weak sunlight, the red spots evident against the dark skin. He lifted the fish away from the paper and placed it on the grave where the grey shape of it stood out against the starkness of the snow. After a while he stood, gathered up the paper and walked slowly back to the vehicle.

Two yellow eyes blinked in the shadows of a yew tree as the sound of the motor became fainter in the distance. A cat, its black fur, camouflaged by the cloak of the tree’s foliage, sniffed the air. With caution it moved out from the cove of the tree and moved towards the smell, high stepping like a show horse through the grass. It stood by the grave looking at the fish, sniffing it tentatively at first as if it too found the idea of a fish in a graveyard incongruous. The cat then touched it with a paw, inverting it to lift the head of the fish and sniffed again. Then, as if making up his mind of a sudden he took the head in his jaws, turned and made his way back to the cover of the tree, the fish jutting out of his mouth.

{ Chapter 23 }


Ben sleeps. He dreams he is in a studio, but as this is a dream it is a studio he is not familiar with. There are lots of people at easels all working with concentration. Ben looks in front of him and there is just a blank canvas sitting on his easel.
He realises he had better make a start but, what is he supposed to be drawing. He can’t see the subject as there are too
many easels in the way. He moves forward to see what all
the others are working on, and as the forest of easels parts, there sitting on a dais is Cyril, naked, posed and grinning at Ben seductively. 

Ray sleeps but with troubled dreams. Bogumil has several large pots boiling on the stove. All are full of Golonka the national dish of Poland. It is grey and strands of cabbage trail from the dishes as waiting staff ferry plate after plate to the dining room. On the stage is another Bogumil telling jokes in Polish – he is the only one laughing. Ray tries to escape to his office where yet another Bogumil is engaged in vigorous sex with Hermione. He runs from the building only to find Bogumil again doing hand brake turns in the car park in his gold Lexus. He wakes, strained and damp, grateful it was all just a dream.

Cyril is not asleep or dreaming, he is sat up in bed. Everything in the room is as Cyril likes it. He has no need to compromise as he shares it with no one. The bed is a large double and next to Cyril on a tray are the remains of a chicken passanda, yellow rice and naan bread. The meal is mostly eaten except the bread which is only half gone. Cyril is wearing pyjamas and is propped up by several pillows. On the bedside table is an array of different medicines for his various afflictions, Bisodol, Imodium, Anusol, and Zantac, also tissues and a bottle of Johnson’s baby lotion. The room is very tidy. All Cyril’s clothes are hung up in the wardrobe or neatly folded in the tallboy in the corner. Against the wall opposite the bed is a low chest upon which sits a large flat screen TV. Cyril has already rigged up the video he secretly filmed of his photo session with Maddy, and is reliving every sordid moment of it.

Jo snores gently. She has gone to sleep on top of the covers. The biography of Mo Farrar has slid to her side, his expression on the cover looking as though finding himself on a bed next to a girl in pink pyjamas is a rather pleasant shock. The walls in her room are decorated with a mixture of posters, some of boy bands but mostly of sporting stars. Clare comes in quietly, takes the book from Jo’s side and places it on the bedside table. She folds the duvet over her sleeping daughter, kisses her lightly on the forehead and turns out the light.

Ken and Freda Macmillan are lying side by side in their bed, on their backs, eyes wide open. It is dark but they both know the other is awake. If the light were on, the strain on their faces from sleepless nights and stress would show. There is the thud of a beat that not only reverberates through the fabric of the building, but can be seen by the slight vibration of the fringes on the matching bedside table lamp shades. They do not speak to each other mainly because they have examined every aspect of the problem and tried to deal with it in lots of different ways. They have even tried ignoring it. They know the reason for it because Ray Collins, the new landlord of the flats, has given them notice to leave. He has no legal right to do this and in law Ken and Freda have security of tenure. They know that Ray wishes to remove all the people renting flats in the block, renovate the flats and re-let them at a much higher price. He has offered them money to go, he has offered to help them find somewhere else to live, and he has offered them temporary accommodation with the promise of their old flat back when the renovations are done but they don’t trust Ray and they are certain he would renege on the promise. 

Their dilemma is that fighting Ray with solicitors will cost them and so would moving to another flat and they have very little in the way of savings. And besides they like their home and don’t see why they should be forced to move. So they know that the tenants that have moved into one of the empty flats, the ones who look a bit dodgy when they meet them on the stairs and who play very loud music at all times of the day and night, have been planted by Ray with the express purpose of forcing Freda and Ken from their home. Ken has knocked on the door and asked them to turn it down on occasions and they have complied, but the next night it’s the same again. They are not sure how many are living in the flat as Kevin and Bo have had many visitors since word got around that it was an open house. They are also afraid that if they call the police the occupants will exact some sort of revenge on them. It is a stalemate and Ken and Freda lie in bed with their options going round and round in their heads. They don’t like living somewhere knowing they are not wanted but neither do they want to go or, indeed, afford to.

Kevin navigates his way across the room. It is like an obstacle course of ash trays, legs, pieces of uneaten pizza and other unidentifiable detritus. He is looking for Bo. He doesn’t know a lot of the people in the flat and he would rather they weren’t there, but to ask them to leave would be like un-cool and against his principles and it would be like he was the state and making rules like who could stay and who had to go and that would be like a very heavy scene, because, see, if you believe in anarchy you have to live like that or you’d be like some sort of hypocrite, but then it’s a real bummer when you can’t find your girlfriend and you look in every room and there are just people there who you don’t know and someone has put something on the stereo that is like majorly un-cool and you have to keep your stash in your pocket otherwise some dude will come along and half inch it, and even when you’re asleep you have to be like aware; and nobody like pitches in and helps with getting food and stuff, like that bit in Animal Farm where no one knows who’s in charge or who’s responsible for food or cleaning the loo when someone has taken a dump and not cleaned up after themselves, and why is it always him who opens the door when that freaky old guy from the other flat asks him to turn the music down and he’s like smiling but you know he’s probably one of those old vigilante dudes that’s probably got a machete under his dressing gown and you come back and it’s a major downer because you turn the music down and everyone thinks your some sort of square.

Kevin moves from room to room looking for Bo. He feels cold and a bit panicky. There are three, or is that four people on the bed in what he thought was his bedroom. There is someone on the floor, they are in a sleeping bag and Kevin feels a wave of despair that they are now bringing sleeping bags in with them. He looks down the other side of the bed to see if Bo is on the floor down there but she isn’t. He checks the other bedroom with the same result and goes back into the living room. He looks around and sees Breath. He is talking to someone who is obviously asleep. Kevin shakes him and Breath looks up. ‘Where’s Bo?’ he asks. Breath cups a hand to his ear and makes an enquiring face. ‘Where’s Bo?’ Kevin shouts above Queens of the Stone Age. Breath shrugs. Kevin returns to the sofa, plonks himself down, wraps his great coat tighter around himself and sinks his head into the collar.

On the promenade, not far from the pier, is a hut. It’s bigger than a beach hut but not brightly coloured like the ice cream or coffee vending huts. This one is brown like a garden shed, and when open displays decorations hung on string of beachcombing finds such as oyster shells, driftwood and cuttlefish bones. It is shut now, this being night, and the wind chimes of wood and bone have been put away and a shutter of brown wood hides the serving counter where Joseph Robbins sells fishy snacks to the tourists during the day. Whelks, fat and chewy, are dispensed in polystyrene cups with a cocktail stick. Likewise mussels and cockles, jellied eels, crab sticks and seafood cocktail, a dubious mix of sea creatures, salty and vinegary. 

Most of what Joseph sells to the mainly elderly tourists, who remember such delights from their childhood, have been purchased in industrial sized tubs from the local cash and carry, and the English Channel but a few yards behind Joseph’s emporium would be a foreign sea to the creatures now on display on his counter. One side of the hut Joseph has turned into a smokery. Fillets of mackerel and trout get smoked over smouldering beech and oak chips. This wafts a savoury smell of sweet, smoky fish around the hut and immediate area, that not only attracts hungry strollers but of course the ever present herring gulls. They perch on the roof of the hut and strut hopefully up and down the promenade, sometimes stopping and thrusting an exploratory beak under the gap at the base of the smokery where the fish oils sometimes drip. The combination of combustible oil soaked into wood makes it not unlike a larger than life firelighter or a stack primed for November the fifth. The regular presence of fire to make the smoke means one small mistake or a less than responsible shutting down of the process could mean the end of ‘Smoky Joes’.

Spig is huddled in a shelter on the lower promenade. It is getting dark. He has tried going to the flat where Kevin and Bo live but a stranger opened the door. He had gone in and looked around. There were a lot of people there and some of them were frankly a bit scary. He couldn’t see Bo and Kevin was huddled on the sofa in his coat and seemed asleep. He had gone there when things at home had started getting out of hand again. Spig wasn’t sure whether to spend the night in the shelter or try and creep home when things might have settled down a bit. The problem with the shelter was that there was always the likelihood of an old tramp joining him for the night, smelling of meths, old socks and ripe farting, which did not appeal, even if they left him alone. Also, Spig’s distress had reached crisis level. He knew this from his compulsive fingering of the box of matches in his pocket, which he sometimes got out to look at, open and fiddle with the matches, but on this occasion lighting them one after the other was not going to cut it or ease his distress; he was working up to something bigger, something that was going to calm him more than just the flare of the match.

Spig’s night time perambulations had made him an expert on the back alleyways, twittens, wynds and cul-de-sacs of the town. He knew his way around like a surgeon knows every blood vessel in the human body and where it goes. He knew the secret ways through buildings, occupied or vacant, and not just at ground level either. If he could not get to where he wanted through the alleys he could get across rooftops, down fire escapes, and through windows. The police had often tried to detain him, not because they expected him of any wrong doing, but because of his age and the lateness of the hour. But Spig had never been caught. By the time the Plods had stopped the car and got out Spig had evaded them down some back street or over a garden wall. Once one reasonably fit and zealous copper had given chase and followed him down several interconnecting alleys, but had given up at the back of one of the hotels, and after looking in the bins had gone back to his car. Spig had watched him from his perch wedged between the hotel kitchen’s extraction system and the wall, having climbed there first by standing on one of the bins and then on the brackets that held the galvanised steel of the duct work in place. 

This was where Spig went, having put a match to a handy discarded fish and chip paper and thrust it under the boards of Smoky Joe’s. After clambering up the brackets of the extraction system he had got onto the roof of the hotel’s staff accommodation, up a fire escape and across a parapet to get behind the human sized illuminated letters on the hotel’s roof. He had predicted, with his knowledge of all things combustible, that the burn should be slow and concealed long enough for him to get to his seat in the gods before the blaze really got going and the fun started. 

One of the letters of The Queen’s Hotel, the H of Hotel to be precise, was awaiting repair of the lighting system and was therefore in darkness and Spig chose this spot where his outline would not be visible. He could see a glow under Smoky Joe’s and a few wisps of smoke were beginning to appear through the overlapping boards of the exterior. Spig waited. The smoke started to become more noticeable and the glow from underneath brighter. Some flames licked out periodically through gaps in the shiplap boards as they creaked with the ever increasing heat. 

A man walking his dog slowed down and looked at it possibly wondering if any fish was being smoked overnight. He was about to move on when there was a mini explosion as the temperature inside reached a critical point and something inside burst into flames. The man took a step backwards and fumbled to get his mobile phone out of his pocket whilst still trying to hold the dog’s lead. It took ten minutes for the fire brigade to arrive, ten minutes in which a sizeable crowd had gathered, and in which Smoky Joe’s turned into what a lot of people were now calling Flaming Joe’s. It burned with a ferocity that makes one understand what people mean when they say that fire consumes or devours. Sparks shot skyward, burning bright as if from a firework, and then disappearing into the night sky. The flames at the centre reached outwards, warping and crackling the boards at the outside. Small detonations could be heard as bottles of vinegar and condiments exploded and fed the fire with their volatile vapours. Cracks, sizzles, smacks and pistol shots rang out as the flames leapt up, all cadmium yellow and scarlet vermilion.

Spig felt the skin of his scrotum contract with the excitement of watching the shack go up like a torch, and the crowd it attracted. The feeling went up a notch as the fire brigade arrived and the crowd started cheering and applauding. A police car rolled up and the two officers watched as the firemen trained their hoses on the fire and put it out in seconds.

Buy the full book now


Ordering questions, delivery details and other helpful bits and bobs.


Delivery to the UK will be sent out via Royal Mail within 2 working days. You can choose from first or second class at checkout.

Postage options internationally will also be available at checkout. Considering books are heavy it may be more viable to purchase your copy of Fish Bananas through Amazon – see link above.

If you are looking to order several copies of Fish Bananas please contact us so we can arrange the best delivery option for you. Email us here:

Amazon Orders & Returns

The Fish Bananas Amazon paperback edition (not the signed first edition paperback) is printed on demand by Amazon. It is available internationally and on Amazon Prime. It is subject to Amazon’s printing T&Cs, please check on the Amazon webpage for their estimated delivery times.

If there are any problems with orders through Amazon you must contact them with regards to refunds as we are not responsible for these sales.

Order Issues & Returns

If you have any problems with your order, your book hasn’t arrived or you are not 100% happy with your book please email us: and we will see how we can resolve your issue.

Please notify us within 14 days of receiving the book of any problem and if a refund is due we will issue it upon receiving the book back in it’s original packaging and condition.


Payment is via Paypal although you do not need a Paypal account to complete the purchase. Paypal accepts all major debit and credit cards. If you dot not wish to use Paypal please contact me for alternative methods.

Bulk orders

Want to order more than one copy, or stock Fish Farce in your book shop? Get in contact so I can arrange the best shipping costs and discuss trade prices.