Days of Wine and Cheese, volume I of The Biscuit Factory series, is available in both Kindle and paperback formats at Amazon UK. You can also find it at amazon.com here, and at various other international Amazon sites.
Here are some reviews. (Please also leave a comment on Amazon if you have read the book.)
Sir Roger Scruton, letter dated 30 Nov 2019:
‘I am enjoying the novel, despite the characters, which I suppose is your intention.’ [Unfortunately Roger tragically died a few days later so this was the last I heard from him.]
Andrew Douglas, blog comment on 4 January 2020:
‘Worth every cent’.
Nick on 27 May 2020:
‘Hector, I bought your book and loved it. Can’t wait for Vol 2! Great blog, keep up the good work, don’t let the turkeys get you down.
Victoria, BC, Canada’
Jake0403 at Amazon on 6 June 2020
‘I wasn’t expecting much from this book but I was very pleasantly surprised. Very funny. Fast paced and below the easy language is an insightful analysis of the modern humanities sector and it’s multiple academic issues.
I’m looking forward to the next chapter.’ (5 stars)
Robert Hookway review on US Amazon 11 Aug 2018
‘A thoroughly enjoyable read that rolls along nicely.
A humorous look inside the academia bubble by an author that has been there.
Should appeal to normal people (i.e those that haven’t been to uni) and those that have but did crunchy subjects like physics, chemistry, maths, engineering, medicine, surveying etc (i.e non-waffle subjects), or indeed anybody that went to uni, graduated, then left for the real world wondering what those weirdos that stayed on get up to.’ (5 stars)
Nigel Morton on Amazon 4 June 2019:
‘A very witty book about the machinations in a fictional university which, after a recent experience of returning to university, left me wondering how much is fiction and how much is non-fiction.’ (5 stars)
Tim Harrison, review on Amazon.com 16 April 2018:
‘Absolutely hilarious from start to finish. An accurate reflection of academia today.’ (5 stars)
GeoJoe on Amazon 30 June 2020
‘An amusing and interesting read that made me fear for the future of the universities. Anyone with an open mind and a concern for learning should find it equally engaging.’
Jamie Franklin at Goodreads on 20 July 2020:
‘A fun, easy read, which is not at all far from the truth in many ways.’
Ronanzac, comment on blog 17 July 2018:
‘I bought it in kindle form quite a while ago. I really enjoyed it. Not quite like my university experience but not unlike what it may have morphed into if I had hung around for more than my four undergraduate years and had done something other than engineering. In fact I have read it twice. This is not because I am some sort of obsessive fan but because it is an easy going and quite good fun read. Occasionally I need a break from the endless list of non-fiction and this sort of thing fits that bill. I will probably read it again in a couple of years time. I hope you write some more.’
Here’s a comment left on my blog in 10 June 2019:
‘I, for one, found ‘Days…’ skewering of lefty academia hilarious and accurate (my ball and chain is a former academic too).’
Bill Sikes on Amazon 19 May 2020:
‘HD nails certain things: the despair of trying to resuscitate different kinds of seminar; the dismay and bafflement when encountering university HR; the small-stakes isecurities of academic “colleagues”.
I laughed out loud at several bits, often rather scabrous. Don’t read campus satires if your sense of humour is a bit delicate.
A fair amount pivots on the author’s rather 1-dimensional concern with “left/right” issues. There *is* justice in that, but got got a bit tiresome. In my experience (in a more STEMy subject), leftiness was mild (though symmetrically tireseome). Ideologies were just dreary etiquette.
The chapters were vignettes, and some peripheral characters only
vaguely recognisable. Though I failed sometimes to remember who was who, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.’
Sean Lydon commented on 10 April 2020:
‘Hector, I posted a review on Amazon. A bit opinionated and long, unfortunately, and that’s the short version. But I liked the book very much and can’t see why it shouldn’t be a good seller other than for want of the right marketing – not that I’d underestimate difficulty of that…
Many affinities with my own experience as a social science student at Polytechnic of Central London in 1984 when I was accused of “racism”.
I’d started a Conservative Association at PCL and was promoting a Conservative student magazine. I also used to display as conspicuously as possible on my person a copy of the latest Salisbury Review at all times on campus, which at that time had a notorious reputation among the cognoscenti, for no other reason than to antagonise the Marxists.
On that basis I was denounced as ‘racist’ and ‘fascist’ on front page of the student magazine, edited by Julia Hobsbawm daughter of Eric, later Blair’s PR supremo. A subsequent issue – ‘Racists on Campus’ – reported ‘racist grafitti’ in a faculty toilet which was attributed to my influence. Verbal abuse and hissing became the norm, along with some more aggressive skirmishes.
I ended up being kicked off the course after a psychology lecturer Dr David Milner insisted that he couldn’t teach a “racist”. Many of the lecturers whom i got on fine with personally were sympathetic but couldn’t be seen to endorse ‘racism’ – even while privately admitting it was bollocks and that Milner, author of ‘Race and IQ’, was a zealot.
A right wing pressure group called the Freedom Association took up my case and tried to get Margot Norman the Daily Telegraph Education Correspondent involved for some sympathetic publicity. But the “racist” slur was more potent then than now, and the Telegraph wouldn’t touch it. There wasn’t any evidence of me actually saying anything “racist” though endorsing Salisbury Review / Roger Scruton was de acto ‘racist’.
‘Derek Lucas’ ‘Tony Shaver’ ‘Verna Beach’ ‘Harry Smales’ ‘Junius Birch’ are great names for their characters. But I struggled to see any reason for ‘Ren Christopher’ other than the Evelyn Waugh joke. Was there supposed to be an rchitectural theme somewhere or what?
The description of the imposing main building reminded of me of Birmingham already fictionalised by David Lodge as “Rummidge”. But I suppose it could fit Liverpool, Sheffield, Reading or a few others of the same era. I used to sell HR/curriculum software to universites so have spent a lot time over the years meeting HE bureaucrats all over the ountry though not always in their main building so don’t know whether your terminus is invented or based on a real place.
Also enjoyed the drunken phonetic English ‘complee’ is very good. “Fugging” was Norman Mailer’s term in Naked and the Dead though not because of drink, who also gets a mention in the book. Also a few Burgessian words thrown in there – I hadn’t heard them and neither had the Kindle dictionary.
Talking of Burgess, if you don’t already know it the opening of his ‘Time for a Tiger’ first part of what is now published as The Long Day Wanes A Malayan Trilogy / has one of the great hangovers in fiction.
Looking forward to the sequel – surely ‘Volume 1’ supposes Volume 2?’