An entertaining read.
Dave Coote is having a slow meltdown. The framing of his life is being challenged.
A changing job he can’t reconcile, a prime relationship that’s drifting. Pressures from a teaching career that has slid sideways and is now being inspected.
Add grit from a slapdash Academisation and privatisation of teaching. Scoundrels in the halls of power.
Maybe Coote is like the similarly named water fowl that feigns stupidity, hiding its intelligence to amuse itself, even at the expense of status.
Despite bursts of enthusiasm for classroom teaching, the depressive Coote is losing his grip, in a series of self-damaging situations, across a discovered corruption and somewhat miraculous love interest.
Coote is no Patrick Standish skirt chaser, and there's no 'Moon and Sixpence' separation and quest by Coote, more a "Nicky Hutchinson meets intern Alice McDonald" from Our Friends in the North. Generally, we see Coote as the person that things get done to, rather than as an initiator.
I know folk who have drifted through similar mid-life situations and found myself comparing Coote with how real life scenes had played out. The boss who crashed his family life and job to live on a boat with his lover. Lasted a few months and was very messy.
A different situation when innocent business trip photographs showed an old flame. Hushed spousal tones before a split. The list goes on but empirically there’s more of the expensive crashes than the happy-ever-afters.
For Coote we also get some faintly autistic sequences. Coote's world overwhelms, he displays anxiety, a feeling of social disconnect and need for time alone. Add some methodical descriptions of computer use and his sound system giving us almost pencil-arranging rules determining ways to do certain things. It’s cleverly written because the possible ASD hovers as a spectral shadow rather than as a bad actor pretending to be drunk.
I enjoyed reading the story, as the character continued to take ever more destructive forks in his road. Kind of sex and drugs and rock.