In The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, Gently finds a teenager watching TV upstairs who headbutts him when he turns off the TV.

How does the teenager relate to anything else in the plot? Was he Anstey's son or something?


The author makes it clear that the boy was Anstey's son. There is a marked family resemblance and he lives in the house. Given his living conditions and mental state, it's fairly evident that he's a typical antisocial teenager (living in his bedroom, ignored by his high-flying father).

His subsequent violence may be a result of mental deficiency or the trauma of having discovered his father murdered:

He was distracted at that moment by the sight which met him from the new position in which he was standing. On the other side of the armchair there was a large, half full catering-size box of Pot Noodles, a large, half full catering-size box of Mars Bars, a half demolished pyramid of cans of soft drink, and the end of the hosepipe. The hosepipe ended in a plastic tap nozzle, and was obviously used for refilling the kettle.

Dirk had simply been going to ask the boy who he was, but seen from this angle the family resemblance was unmistakable. He was clearly the son of the lately decapitated Geoffrey Anstey. Perhaps this behaviour was just his way of dealing with shock. Or perhaps he really didn't know what had happened. Or perhaps he...

After he's taken away, there's no further mention of him. He doesn't relate to the plot at all, other than giving us a greater insight into Anstey as a driven, callous individual.

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  • Aha - this seems to be absent from the audio book, thanks! – Stefan Jul 17 '14 at 12:49
  • @Stefan I wasn't aware there was an audio book, I know it was converted to a radio series, where did you find this? – CyanAngel Jul 17 '14 at 14:55
  • I received it as a birthday present a year or two ago. I think it is just the radio series put onto a CD. – Stefan Jul 17 '14 at 14:56
  • It's likely that while he had the contract, Anstey wished for a son that would keep quiet and stay out of the way. Wish granted. :/ – Joe L. Jul 17 '14 at 20:11
  • Are there any references to the boy's mother? – Stefan Jul 21 '14 at 8:48

I know this question is pretty old, but for what it's worth: I think the point of the passage in the house with Anstey's son is to underline that Anstey sold his soul as part of the contract. I'm struggling to remember, but I think Dirk describes the house as soulless at one point. While Anstey was subject to the contract he became soulless, hence why the house seemed unlived in and his son seemed so empty and lifeless apart from watching TV. Just my personal theory though.

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  • 2
    Is there anything in the books to support this theory? – Gallifreyan Jul 25 '17 at 8:05

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