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Sheenagh Pugh
Stupid deaths, stupid deaths,
Hope next time it's not you.


The above is of course the jingle of Death, in his slot in Horrible Histories exploring gruesome and unlikely ends. I don't suppose this was in Meredith's mind when he chose his title, but it occurs to me whenever Wil Daniel is exercising his pub quiz talent for citing examples of the same. Nor are the only examples historical, like Aeschylus (brained by a falling tortoise) and Henry 1 (surfeit of lampreys). In the course of the novel, a man falls unaccountably from a bridge; another drowns because his friends don't know the one thing about him that would tell them he was in trouble, while a third troubles the coroner as a result of a bizarre shooting. Not to mention Wil himself, constantly rolling cigarettes while dying of lung cancer, as stupid a death as one could well imagine.

This novel is full of trajectories (balls, arrows, stones), which may be launched by humans but are then often unpredictable and out of their control, and journeys which frequently don't go where they meant to either. There is more than a hint, indeed, that the only sure end of all these journeys is death, and that, this being so, it is the time spent in motion, rather than the end of it, that matters.
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