THE BILLIION POUND LIE – BILL DARE
” One small non-denial of a lie places Leo & his best friend at the centre of a string of unusual, funny, morally questionable and sometimes dangerous situations. Relationships are at the story’s heart… Interwoven with jealousy, celebrity, delusion and the weird way people behave if they think you’re minted… it’s fun and full of twists and turns.”Jonathan Gershfield
A hapless barista is having the worst day of his life. While drowning his sorrows, he is mistaken for the winner of a new global lottery. He drunkenly plays along, making promises to friends – including paying for a little girl’s surgery.
He wakes up the next day with a hangover, the world’s press at this door, and the little girl’s parents reminding him of his promise.
So begins a race as Leo, a man of seemingly little ability, struggles to do the right thing as his ex-wife is held to ransom and the real winner emerges from the shadows.
The book is about self-delusion, greed, sexual obsession, fame, religion, and the pernicious power of money.
Best selling crime writer Erin Kelly wrote ‘Pure entertainment. A funny, touching novel about friendship, love and lottery tickets’.
“The idea that someone could not only be mistaken for a billlion pound lottery winner, but actually be treated like one as a result, seems preposterous – and yet as events unfold, it’s all very believable, and even gripping as things take a sinister turn.”Amazon Customer
About the Author
Bill Dare is an English author and creator/producer of radio and television comedy programmes. He is the producer or devisor of various (mainly comedy) programmes, mainly for BBC radio and television, including The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Dead Ringers, The Now Show, The Late Edition, I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, The Secret World and Brian Gulliver’s Travels. He was also the producers of eight series of ITV’s Spitting Image.
Bill wrote and appeared in his own Radio 4 sketch show, Life, Death and Sex with Mike and Sue which ran for five series. More recently he has emerged as a more serious writer. His first novel, Natural Selection is published in the UK and US, and his first stage play, Touch was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2007. His second play, Misconception was also performed at Edinburgh.
His radio series, Brian Gulliver’s Travels is now a novel, published by Pilrig Press in 2013.
Bill is the son of British actor and broadcaster, Peter Jones, and is a graduate of the University of Manchester where he studied English and Philosophy.
A few texts, a dozen missed calls. Nothing from Helen. Leo places his phone on the table beside a saucepan into which he’s emptied a tin of Prince’s Irish Stew. A fork sticks out. If cutlery had feelings, then this high-class piece would be horrified. The whole kitchen is made for the connoisseur, or connoisseur manqué. There’s an Aga that Leo has barely touched, food processing contraptions he’s never used, cupboards he hasn’t opened, and probably a larder he doesn’t even know about. Still, none of this has cost him a penny.
Low morning sunlight streams from the conservatory and bounces off steel, chrome and marble. He looks around, a valedictory survey. His eyes pause at a pile of newspaper cuttings; headlines about the ‘Billionaire Barista’.
His phone buzzes on the table. Having dodged so many calls from Frank, he must answer this time.
‘At last we speak. Are you all set for your thank you gala?’ asks the Chairman of Byford Council and Leo’s father-in-law. He talks more loudly than necessary, the vocal equivalent of man-spreading.
‘I didn’t know it was a thank you gala.’
‘For all you’re doing for the town.’
‘I’m touched,’ says Leo, reflexively. Perhaps he should have sounded surprised.
‘That is, if you’re not too busy meeting Prime Ministers,’ Frank says, with a laugh that is more to do with occupying conversational space than humour.
‘Not today.’ Leo tries to sound just a little jovial. His eyes dart to a picture of himself on the steps of Number Ten. ‘I don’t want a big fuss, Frank.’
‘Why not? You’ve done so much for us all to fuss about.’
Soon everyone will be fussing like demented chickens. He pushes the pan of stew away – it’s developed a porcine smell.
The doorbell rings. It’s probably Driver Dave wanting to know when the limo would be required.
‘You’re the most famous man in Byford,’ says Frank.
In truth, that isn’t saying much. Byford, a post-industrial town 70 miles north of London, has few claims to fame: Sting’s dad had once lived there, it has a historically significant bridge, and it’s home to the second ever Poundland.
‘But seriously, you are someone very special.’
Leo has grown used to praise: people thanking him, telling him he’s a great guy. Funny how the things you’ve always wanted can turn irksome so soon.
‘Now, I’ve heard a rumour –’
Leo’s heart sinks.
‘– That you’ve been helping people on the quiet.’
As you were, heart.
The doorbell rings again, for longer this time, and it sounds angry. And angry voices too, calling his name. Perhaps a small crowd has gathered, concerned citizens having had the wool pulled from their eyes.
‘Imagine,’ Frank continues, ‘we all thought you were… well, you know…’
‘A waste of space?’
‘I wouldn’t go that far, ha. But a lot of young men would be knee deep in cocaine and pussy by now.’
Leo feels himself redden. Is Frank talking like that because that’s how he thinks Leo talks?
More shouting, and hammering on the door. He imagines a mob wielding brooms and Magic Mops, little girls with hate-filled eyes. If they smash down the door he could call the police. Unless they are the police. He fights down the fear – a multitude of fears – of arrest, of prison, of sharing a cell with a dead-eyed psychopath with a scar and an ironic nickname like Big Baby. But it wouldn’t be easy making anything stick.
‘There’ll be quite a crowd,’ says Frank, ‘press, a few snappers – national press, not just local.’
Leo does not respond because his mind is racing ahead to the gala. If he could just keep the lid on things for a few more hours then this could be a controlled explosion. Frank laughs again at nothing in particular and they say goodbye.
Afraid he might be spotted from windows, he crouches below the centre island. He runs his hand along the marble floor.
Then, quite suddenly, everything stops. Maybe Driver Dave told the mob that the ‘bad man’ had fled over yonder wall.
He strokes the marble floor again. Wouldn’t it be nice to sink into sleep, a nest of unconsciousness, just for a few minutes – seconds, even? Sleep does not come easily these days. For a moment, he’s under the kitchen table with bits of Lego while his mother reads Take A Break magazine, and the smell of Welsh rarebit wafts from the grill.
He feels something soft in his hand: a square of sticky brown stodge. Vince has been at the waffle-maker. When this is all over he must buy Vince one of his own. But with what? Leo has no money – he even had his card rejected at Waitrose.
His phone again. The breathing is both strange and familiar.
More breaths – a blocked nose. Crying?
Why doesn’t she speak?
‘Helen? What’s the matter? Talk to me.’
‘They’ve got me, Leo.’
‘What? Who? Tell me.’
Silence. Not even breathing. Why doesn’t she speak?
Her voice bleeds through a wall of fear.
‘You need to transfer a million pounds to an offshore account. Take down these details. You have 15 minutes.’
“Funny, media savvy take on ‘winning’. This is great. A very good take on greed and the media… Has a heart. Has morality. Has humanity. Has the right targets. Central figure Leo the loser turns out to be a lion. Got its finger on the pulse, being wickedly accurate on several fronts. The music scene at the end is brilliant.”Levon