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Friends and Crocodiles
Stephen Poliakoff's tale of society in the grip of cataclysmic change, told through the working relationship of two very different characters.
1981. Paul Reynolds is a Gatsby-like figure; owner of a magnificent house, a host of great parties, a collector of interesting people, a visionary with dreams of new urban landscapes, wind power, airships and questions about why the crocodile has survived unchanged for two millennia.
He persuades Lizzie Thomas, a secretary in local estate agents, to come and work for him as his assistant, to bring some order to his chaos.
Once at his country house at her world expands - she meets artists, historians and politicians. And, it is here that she first encounters Sneath - a social chameleon and born survivor, who is always there as events unfold and available to tell the story later.
Paul inspires Lizzie with his enthusiasm and imagination, and frustrates her with his apparent carelessness and destructiveness, which culminates in her calling the police as a great party is turned over by local troublemakers, seemingly with Paul's tacit approval.
A terrible row ensues between them and they part company vowing never to speak or see each other again.
But, some years later they do meet again, by chance, in London. Following this first awkward encounter their paths are destined to cross again and again as Lizzie, with the help of some of those she met at Paul's house, rises through the changing landscape of corporate Britain and Paul continues to pursue his dreams and create another Eden for himself.
Now the seemingly unstoppable impetus to change, rationalise and modernise has taken root, technology and everyone is moving on - nothing is permanent and constant.
However, eventually one certainty does become apparent and Lizzie and Paul come to accept that despite everything that has happened they were born to work together.
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