Endland review: Imaginative morality tales for modern England

Tim Etchells’s 39 short stories dip thrillingly into a bleak society haunted by the past

Tim Etchells’s characters navigate a hostile environment that remains uniformly bleak from first to last.

Tim Etchells’s characters navigate a hostile environment that remains uniformly bleak from first to last.

A little boy contemplates a picture hanging on the wall in a hotel room – where his father will soon shoot his mother and sister before turning the gun on himself. The narrator waxes poetic about this “masterpiece of luminescent highlighter pens” illustrating “one of those allegories popular in former times, Service Stations of the Cross”. Christ is depicted crucified on a random forecourt with Posh Spice weeping at his feet. Two “winged pump attendants” hover in the air holding a banner (advertising Mobil) “in typical period style”.

The whole scene, complete with gay centurions, is surveyed – for purposes of confusing onomastics – by Peter, Paul and Mary, the American folk trio. With its mock-heroic conflation of high and low, surreal collision between the archaic and contemporary, not to mention the shameless schoolboy punning, this piece of kitsch iconoclasm encapsulates the very essence of Endland.

The Irish Times
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