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July 25 , 2009

The Children of Montana- The Spirit of Life

An African American family life goes off-centre when the boxer Lennox Lewis comes to visit.


Paul, a.k.a. Boy O's love of life is bursting at the seams. Articulate, agile and full of mischievous fun, he sees the potential to enjoy himself in all that he does. His well-heeled life, in Glendale (an imaginary town in Montana), cruises along just nicely. A partial rural and urban community, his equally affluent and poor neighbours, all know Boy O. If they do not, well, he knows them, including the town's chief of police, whom, from time to time, he comes to offer some advice.

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Life, takes a delightful and unexpected turn for Boy O, when “Little Ellie" (full name “Ellington”), arrives to live in Boy O's home. A household assiduously run by the discreet, strict, clean and fantastic cook and housekeeper, Mrs Simpkins. Ellie, the daughter of an Afro- American US Ambassador, known affectionately by Ellie, as 'Marmee', cannot effectively carry out her job, involving travelling with a small child in tow, so she begs to elect Jessie, Boy O’s mom, who is a congregation at her church, to act as Ellie's guardian.

A major menace to Boy O's idyllic existence, which threatens to throw his whole happy family set up into total disarray occurs when the boxer Lennox Lewis, known as 'Noxie', comes into town to drum up some business, stays with their family, sustains an injury deliberately inflicted by the children to send him away, becomes ensconced in a bed within their home to convalesce and soon begins a 'phantom affair' with Paul's mother to boot! Ellie and Boy O who at first welcomed him are outraged at Lewis’s gross abuse of their hospitality and prepare for the mother of all battles.

They employ all the dirty tricks in their little possession to knobble the affair and send Knoxie packing. It is this major battle of wits between Noxie and the children with their little friends joining in, including Guy Fawkes that spins the story on a wild and humorous axis. The story climaxes in a funny showdown, when the boxer’s wife, Violet Chang, whom the boxer holds in fear and awe, comes to drag her absent husband back to his life of domesticity and humdrum existence in brash Miami, where he wears the apron rather than the boxer shorts, within the marriage.

Another event which destabilises Boy O’s life and more so, his friend, Monica's, is when her father Jon has an emotional breakdown, barricading himself in their home in an incident that involves the police's special unit. Oddly, Kepple and Ellie, Monica's close friends close in and cocoon Monica, while Boy O becomes inadvertently sidelined from making a contribution as a friend and is badly hurt at the unintended exclusion.

Boy O's life takes on another pleasurable angle when the Irish/Scandinavian Patrick, 'Patty', comes onto the scene. Green at the gills, Patrick is a delightful innocence, a beauty. His contrasting personality makes him Boy O's best friend. They bond very easily and love each other deeply. Patrick's home life is a sad one. On the outside, it looks like he comes from a loving family but his mother, is jealous and secretly cruel to him, behind her husband's back, as in their failing marriage, Patrick's father bestows all his adoration on his lovely son. Patrick, almost martyr-like, accepts his mother's cruelty, secretly understanding with a child's intuition, why his mother behaves so destructively.

The Children of Montana: the Spirit of Life, is a life of chuckles, innate happiness, a secure, idyllic and yet real world.

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