The Hairdressers of St Tropez by Rupert Everett

Julius Duthy
Saturday 29 April 1995 23:02

2 The Hairdressers of St Tropez by Rupert Everett, Mandarin £5.99.

The upper-class thespian's second book is a catty satire about a menagerie of St Tropez wasters cracking up. The hairdressers of the title, a pair of "queeny dinosaurs", coiffe a parade of past-it glamour girls called things like Peach Delight and Whoopie du Bal. The duo swan around having hair tantrums and ego crises while a bunch of public school refugees with common-room nicknames like Geppie, Rockets, and Virgil, and Paul Yates (known as "Cerebral Paulsy") waste their lives with an array of drugs.

The narrative takes the form of a series of flashbacks by Mr Rogers, who has retired to Brazil and is reminiscing about this lost summer of his youth. Despite the structural problems involved in switching between alternate chapters of "Now" and "Then" - which makes a mess of the historic present used throughout - the weary tone of commentary is much the best thing about the book. "My life was trapped in the story I was telling," he says stoically.

The Martin Amis-like cruelty of their depraved times can be funny, if savage. At one point the narrator joins a gang who go and massacre some transvestites, and later a forest fire is remembered nostalgically: "I dream of that first great forest fire all those years ago that sent birds flying like fireworks through the air, and burning fieldmice screeching through the undergrowth." In fact Everett should be reported to the simile police. Tear ducts burst like breaking dams; early morning mists hang over the city like thick glue, tears build up behind fluorescent blue lashes like impatient commuters in an underground lift. A drunken TV personality whose "breasts are bursting out of her black decollete like two eager children in a cinema queue." eventually explodes like a car in a movie. If you prefer suds, salopes and seedy soft porn to the other four S's, this is the novel for you.

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