With the Mocking Boys, he locates himself outside of emigration. Sneering at themselves as the greatest minds of their generation, they force their friendship into a brick wall.
Patrick nurtures himself as a low-key patron saint. Bolstering British culture, he feeds it back insights gleaned from books, films, TV, the NME, comics and music heard on John Peel.
But in this world of inverse ambition, all is not right. A participant observer of his age, he is broken-hearted and scornful. He lionises earlier migrant waves of the hardworking Irish. He lives as a melancholic leech on London life. Walking, sleeping, drinking, Patrick feels out of sync with his life cycle. He dreams a train always missed - he dreams he will derail it. And everything explodes after a St Patrick’s Day pub crawl. When the Now Now Express grinds to a shuddering halt.
Time wasted. But worth it. Because amid the mocking and disdain, he vows to one day create a selective sociological fresco.
This novel is about as close as he got.
It is a portrait of a diaspora who adhered to something existential, underground and culturally cynical. Patrick takes on a twisted identity of the Irish patron saint while nursing his own broken heart. The Now Now Express follows his trajectory across London as a participant observer of the brain drain and maps the collapse of his sympathy for his friends. He lionises the older Kilburn-style migrants of the 1950s. The novel explores the 1980s migrant wave of suburban, educated and forward-looking Irish who were still rooted in much of the sentiment of Ireland’s past.