Staying Alive

Staying Alive
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From the bestelling author of ‘e’ comes a hilarious and moving novel of a very normal life becoming extraordinaryMurray’s living life to the full – and it might just kill him. He’s started telling the truth at work. He’s borrowed a stack of cash from a man with a gun, a speech impediment and no grasp whatsoever of APR. He’s also taking drugs and – God help him – he’s started dancing. Badly. To trance. And now he’s on the run with a human version of Muttley and a teenage girl called Fish.Which is strange, because a few weeks ago Murray didn’t even burn the candle at one end. But when his doctors tell him he has only months to live, he gives his boring old self the boot, relaunches a new, improved Murray and falls in love with a passion he didn’t know was in him.His old self, of course, would tell him he’s digging his own grave. But he’ll be needing one of those soon enough anyway, won’t he?

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Staying Alive

Matt Beaumont


For Sam, spaceman of the future

Table of Contents

Cover Page

Title Page




three: they asked me to feed their fish

four: i promise

five: the pharmaceutical industry is mired in the shite with the arms dealers and big tobacco, murray. they’re little better than a mob of sallow-faced pushers outside a wee kiddies’ playground and it depresses the hell out of me

six: two jacuzzis (!!)

seven: back in the land of the living

eight: you risked a criminal record for a garlic crusher?

nine: yoo berra gerrootta thuh fookin ruhrd

ten: do smack, rob banks, screw everyone

eleven: out of the silo

twelve: ze vacky guys behint our vunderful adwertisements

thirteen: i still want us to be

fourteen: who’s mona?

fifteen: the best way forward for humankind: mutant antlers or giant lobster claws?

sixteen: as if

seventeen: things

eighteen: he ain’t worth it

nineteen: i know where i can get one

twenty: whoops-a-fucking-daisy

twenty-one: it’s gonna be chocker with dusky totty

twenty-two: i won’t sink

twenty-three: why couldn’t he have met a nice spanish girl?

twenty-four: i won’t say it


one: mike said why didn’t they put a sainsbury’s there? something to benefit the whole community

two: poor megan

three: i’m fine

four: call me completely crazy but i think a byzantine theme might work in here

five: please don’t jump

six: exquisite

seven: you’re a dead bloody cert, chief

eight: like lena zavaroni


ten: it’s the fucking pig bin

eleven: bermuda? barbados? somewhere hot beginning with b

twelve: you should get some west and welaxation. spend time wecupewating

thirteen: this isn’t a suntan. it’s teflon

fourteen: i love you

fifteen: in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend. those with loaded guns and those who dig

sixteen: he likes his peace and quiet


do you know what today is?


About The Author

Other Books By


About the Publisher


monday 3 november / 10.05 a.m.

I point the camera at…

Sophie Dahl’s prone and virtually naked body.

The dawn-lit terraces of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes.

Elvis/Lennon/Tupac as he emerges from a cave deep in the Hindu Kush.

None of the above, actually. They’re there to make me seem big and clever.

The truth now.

I point the camera at a multi-pack of Schenker Alpenchok bars. I angle it carefully—experience has taught me to do this to avoid catching the glare from the fluorescent tubes that line the rim of the Safeway freezer display. Hell, am I good at this? The box shows Heidi patting a cow on the foothills of the Matterhorn. She beams at me through the viewfinder—a big happy-dairy-girl smile.

Exude sexy ice-creaminess, baby…Mmm, yeah, that’s working for me big ti—

Something crashes into my thigh. A shopping trolley, the type that hitches up to an electric wheelchair to make the HGV menace of supermarket aisles. I should know; I’ve been dead-legged by enough of them. An old lady is at the controls. A lime-green hat sits on her head. It’s shaped like a turban and makes her look like the Mekon—as if Dan Dare’s archenemy just popped into Safeway for baked beans, loin chops and loo roll. ‘What’ve you done with the frozen veg?’ she snaps.

‘I’m sorry, I don’t work here,’ I reply, rubbing the fresh bruise.

‘You lot keep messing with the freezers and I can’t find anything.’ She scrutinises my lapel for a badge proclaiming name and rank.

‘Really, I don’t work here,’ I protest. ‘If you ask—’

‘What are you doing, then?’ she says, spotting the camera. ‘You shouldn’t be taking pictures. You’re a spy, aren’t you? You’re from Tesco.’

‘No, I’ve got permission…I work for an advertising agency.’

My trump card, though I don’t produce it as if it’s the ace of spades—more like the three.

‘Adverts? Like on the telly?’ She sounds impressed.

I nod. And smile—it’s rare that I impress anyone with my career choice.

‘I’ve been wanting to have a word with you,’ she says, her eyes narrowing. ‘I saw your one for the funeral plan. I signed up, but I’m still waiting for my free carriage clock. It’s been weeks now.’

‘I—We don’t do that one,’ I explain.

‘Oh, you’re ever so charming when you want to sell us something, but the minute you’ve got us you don’t want to know,’ she spits.

My mobile vibrates against my hip and I pull it gratefully from my pocket. The Mekon looks on with distaste. ‘They cause cancer, you know,’ she says. Then she hits the throttle, running over my foot with her wheelchair’s solid rubber tyre and trundling off into the fluorescent Safeway sunset—taking no prisoners in the quest for world domination/frozen peas. I look at the phone display. Maybe it’s Sophie Dahl’s people calling to tell me her body is prone, very nearly naked and waiting aquiver for my camera’s attentions.

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