|A view from Rye,|
a village in the English county of Kent,
where Tom Baker lived for several years.
Saturday, June the 13th. And Robert Caligari is going to die today. It's a marvelous day. The place is Sandway in Kent, near Lenham, the highest village in the county. It is 7:30 in the morning. It is the sort of day that makes you glad to be alive and it is a Saturday too. To be young on a warm sunny Saturday in June is simply wonderful. And today is the day Robert Caligari is going to die.
So begins Tom Baker's short novel The Boy Who Kicked Pigs. It's a story about a young boy who proves Saint Augustine's belief that humans are born evil, cursed by Original Sin. Sadly, it's not one of those books where the central character grows and changes for the better.
Robert grows up with a desire to harm others. One of the ways he hurts his little sister is by kicking her tin piggy bank. When, one day, his kick sends her pig careering out the window. It knocks a cop unconscious while he's driving, which results in all sort of bizarre accidents on the street. After this, Robert takes care to disguise his malicious behavior. Still, he doesn't stop hurting people. And then, one day, the day he dies, he causes mischief of truly epic proportions.
Why should I read this short book, you ask? If you're familiar with Tom Baker the actor, you doubtless remember him for his tenure as the fourth Doctor on the TV show Doctor Who. You'll remember mischievous onscreen presence. His performances brought new fans to the show, and made him a hero to Doctor Who viewers around the world.
If you're unfamiliar with Tom Baker as an actor, you'll be captivated by his summary of Robert's life, and how he relates the evil deeds that lead to unimaginably heinous (and unspeakably hilarious) catastrophe. As you read the story, you'll imagine you're sitting in an English pub across the polished wood table from Tom Baker, and he's relating every sinfully delicious aspect of this story as you sip your pint of bitter. He'll hold you enrapt with the way he talks, his asides and anecdotes, the sparkle in his eyes, and his irrepressible grin. It's a rare gift, to tell a story of such magnitude in such an easygoing, wandering fashion, and it makes me sad that he hasn't written more stories in a similar vein. Even if the humor is dark, and Robert's fate certain, The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is a delightful readt. And that's all to do with the masterful way Tom Baker tells his story.
Happy 81st Birthday, Tom Baker, you mischievous author you.
Related Internet Links
Tom Baker's website