CUPID’S DART - Published in paperback February 7th, 2008
Cupid’s Dart is the humorous story of a romance between an Oxford philosophy don, Alan Calcutt, who is a virgin at 55, and an Essex girl, Ange Bedwell, who is a darts groupie and isn’t a virgin at 24.
Michael Palin says of it,‘Nobody does touching and truthful and very funny as well as David Nobbs. Cupid’s Dart is a lovely book.’
David writes: ‘This book sprang out of a play which I wrote for Yorkshire television in 1981. The play was called Cupid’s Darts, and it was brilliantly acted by the late, much-missed Robin Bailey and by Leslie Ash in her very first major role. Leslie’s performance was so enchanting and the memory of it was such a great help to me in writing the book, and her experiences with the hospital super-bug have been so harrowing, that I have dedicated the book to her.
‘I must also mention the great performances of Julian Holloway and Marjorie Bland as the rather awful Oxford couple, Lawrence and Jane. If they spring to life off the page, and I hope that they do, much of the credit must go to my memory of their sparkling performances.
‘The story refused to die, but the play lasted only an hour and I knew that I would need a lot more material, and much greater depth, in order to create a book. I believe that I have managed to do this. I also needed to modernise it, which caused no problems. I found it interesting to reflect on the contrast between the timelessness of the world of philosophy and the great changes which there have been to the world of darts since 1981. In 1981 I was a member of a pub darts team. Pub darts leagues were thriving, but the sport as a major international event hardly existed. Now pub darts teams are much rarer, but the sport on television is immense. It’s a change that seems to me to serve as a symbol for much of what is going on in this country.
‘I knew that I needed more background for the characters, and to this end I created the
character of Alan’s widowed mother. As I wrote the book, I surprised myself with a casual phrase that opened a window into a whole new plot strand. I won’t say more.
‘The ending of the play seemed to me to be very truthful. I couldn’t change it. But on revisiting the play I felt that it arrived much too abruptly. This was a fault that I hope I have eliminated from the book.
‘I hope this book will make you laugh and I also hope that it will move you, that you will care about Alan and Ange and what happens to them. It’s a story about two very different people who both have much to give to each other and much to learn from each other. It’s a love story, and a story about the nature of love. It’s not for me to judge the quality of my work. That is for you and for the critics. But I do feel able to judge it in relation to my other works, and I think and hope that it’s one of my very best. I hope you think so too.’