June 2018 Club

CALLING MAJOR TOM - DAVID M. BARNETT

Thomas Major is tired of the world. People have let him down; he has let people down. By a fluke turn of events, he secures himself a place on a one-way trip to Mars hosted by British Space on the day of David Bowie’s death – this is where we get an inkling that perhaps a modicum of suspension of disbelief is in order. He wants to put a literal disconnect between himself and other people as opposed to the mental one he’s suffered most of his life.

As far as he’s concerned, Thomas is on a one-way trip to oblivion. He has no intention of setting up the experiments and facilities to pave the way for subsequent space travellers. That is until he makes an accidental phone call to a family in Wigan.

The Ormerods have a secret that they want to hide from the authorities at all costs. Their nan and guardian (whilst their dad is in jail), Gladys, is suffering from dementia. She has inadvertently lost all their money to a Nigerian prince scam. Consequently, 15-year-old Ellie must work three jobs whilst trying to attend school, keep tabs on her nan and look after her younger brother, James, who is suffering at the hands of bullies.

How these disparate characters come together and how “Major Tom” finds it in himself to help them out of their dire predicament forms the basis of this story. Although there are many comic moments, it’s difficult not to become absorbed in the lives of these well-painted characters, no matter how unlikely events might be.

Colourway inspiration

For the duration of reading this book, there was one colour that I just couldn’t get out of my head – spacesuit orange and Ziggy Stardust’s hair. So for the semi-solid, I started with a coat of citrus orange. Then added a second coat of darker orange and topped it with a final coat of bright red-orange to produce a saturated spacesuit orange. I called it Starman.

Apart from the colour orange reverberating around my head, Bowie lyrics earwormed themselves deep into my psyche. I kept seeing the 1973 video to Life on Mars in my mind’s eye, so the variegated had to be shades of the powder blue from Bowie’s suit and eyes, the bright opal blue of his eye shadow, the oranges of his hair and a touch of navy with the white for his shirt.

For the yarn type, I opted for the soft, soothing quality of Splendid.