Monday, 9 January 2017

Harold Robinson's the Pier (1977)

The Pier is the latest piece of labyrinthine trash by Harold Robinson. Set in Brighton, it features a romanticised idyll of British journalism, where our hero, divorced ex-Fleet Street Hubert Skardon is supposedly hard-bitten yet unable to see the relationship between his blue-rinsed, Brut-strewn queen of a boss Burley and the latter's young male companion (referred throughout as a nephew via marriage) as anything but platonic. Skardon, a jaded investigative reporter for the Brighton City Sentinel is alarmed when leaked plans of the refurbished local pier suggest that weight is being deliberately put on the pier to sink it. Is it just the stupidity of Lew Grade-esque Eastern European media mogul Hiram Merkilzey, or is it a tax write-off? Written through the eyes of Skardon, yet featuring scenes where he does not appear, it tells of how our hero attempts to warn the bullish Merkilzey of his mistake, only for disaster to strike on the night of the grand opening. As a tidal wave sweeps into Brighton on this stormy night, the ageing struts of the pier break, and a released giant squid (a carnival gimmick) puts our heroes in peril. Some manage to escape, some die and some are trapped. Thus Skardon heads an impromptu rescue mission. The book is an ambitious, unwieldy and ultimately awful mix of boardroom melodrama, disaster and Peter Benchley-ish maritime peril. It gets maritime terms wrong, features Cockney stereotypes, scenes where pistol-carrying PCs attach harpoons to their arms to lift a door, and where dogs swim into the depths, biting the arse off the aforementioned squid in the process. It ends with the survivors escaping, as the pier is miraculously pulled up, and the revelation is lacklustre. The pier is the plan of a vengeful frustrated Czechoslovakian architect whom Merkilzey got jailed for tax fraud.Unusually for Robinson, sex is limited to one tawdry sex scene featuring Merkilzey's Irish terrorist secretary. Best avoided. 

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