The Brentford Trilogy

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The Brentford Trilogy is a series of eight novels by writer Robert Rankin. They humorously chronicle the lives of a couple of drunken middle-aged layabouts, Jim Pooley and John Omally, who confront the forces of darkness in the environs of West London, usually with the assistance of large quantities of beer from their favourite public house, The Flying Swan.

Recurring characters

  • John Vincent Omally and Jim Pooley - an Irishman living in Brentford and his best friend. The 'heroes' of the series.
  • Neville - the part-time barman (who is actually full-time since nobody knows where the real one is) who holds down the Flying Swan in Brentford.
  • Norman Hartnell - Brentford shopkeeper and inventor of various bizarre gadgets, including a means of transporting the Great Pyramid from Egypt to Brentford. Not to be confused with the other Norman Hartnell.
  • Old Pete and Chips - Old Pete (Age unconfirmed, although he seems to be over a hundred) always appears in the Flying Swan, and Chips is his scraggly dog.
  • Professor Slocombe - aged, wise magician who often supplies much of the exposition about the various enemies present in the series (Was apparently Merlin in the distant past). Is once described as bearing a resemblance to Peter Cushing. Has a butler named Gammon.
  • Marchant - John Omally's bicycle, whose anthropomorphic qualities may be a reference to Flann O'Brien's novel The Third Policeman.
  • Soap Distant -last of a long line of Distants who have spent their lives searching for the denizens of the inner Earth. Soap is an ordinary man when first seen but returns as a cowled and robed albino after five years 'below'.
  • Small Dave - Brentford's dwarf postman, known to all as a 'vindictive, grudge bearing wee bastard'. Raised the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Hugo Artemis Solon Saturnicus Reginald Arthur Rune - mystic, charlatan and confidence trickster and self declared 'most amazing man who ever lived'. Has an acolyte named Rizla.
  • Hairy Dave & Jungle John - these two brothers are local jobbing builders who are known for their wild coiffure.
  • Archroy - former worker at the rubber factory who became a globe trotting master of the martial arts.
  • Jennifer Naylor - Brentford's sexy lady librarian, later elevated to the town council.
  • Young Master Robert - the brewery owner's son, and the bane of Neville's existence.
  • Leo Felix - white Rastafarian who drives a tow truck.

Novels in the series

The novels in this series are as follows:

Several of Rankin's other novels feature Pooley and Omally, but are not part of The Brentford Trilogy:

  • They Came And Ate Us (Armageddon II: The B-Movie) (1991) - Pooley and Omally make a brief appearance as one of a number of "trick endings".
  • The Most Amazing Man Who Ever Lived (1995) - Pooley and Omally make a brief appearance, offering their help to Tuppe as he plans to free the book's lead character, Cornelius Murphy, from prison. Before they can put their plan into action Cornelius reveals he has already escaped without their help.
  • Nostradamus Ate My Hamster (1996) - a movie prop-house worker finds a way to put old stars back on the silver screen. Over the course of the book, he learns of the legends of Pooley and Omally and sets out in search of The Flying Swan, culminating in a desperate race to stop the return of Adolf Hitler.
  • Web Site Story (2002) - set in the year 2022, Pooley and Omally have long since passed into the myths and legends of Brentford lore. As people start vanishing into thin air in Brentford, the staff of the Brentford Mercury investigate.

Although the books theoretically form a series, actually there is little continuity between volumes. World-changing events that take place in one book are usually ignored in following volumes, and it is very rare for the events of a previous book to be referred to. For example the character of shopkeeper Norman Hartnell (not that one) is abandoned by his wife yet is inexplicably reunited with her in later books. Soap Distant also appears in later books as a Brentford resident despite being declared dead, becoming an albino and dwelling beneath the earth.

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