Reappraising Jasper Brunswick

Tigerland has been out for a while now, so I think it's safe to talk about some things – mainly to do with Jasper Brunswick.

He was a character who existed mainly to be Simon's comic foil, his nemesis through life.  We're not even privy to why this is, really – we just know there was a lot of animosity between them when they worked together prior to the events of Tigers and Devils, and according to Simon there was a bit of an altercation when Jasper came on to him.

Simon, however, is not the most reliable of narrators.  He tends to see things through his own selective vision, and although this can be tempered at times by Dec, Roger or Fran delicately leading him to seeing things another possible way, his thoughts on Jasper were pretty much set in stone.

At least, until Tigerland.  The strangest thing happened while it was being written.  Greyer shades of Jasper were demanding to be revealed, and Simon was open enough at last to acknowledge their existence.  Although he would be loathe to admit it, there are quite a lot of similarities between Simon and Jasper.  They're both ambitious, hard working, snarky, and deep down, extreme romantics who both feel they don't really deserve love (or are too scared of it).  Whereas meeting Declan pulled Simon out of himself, Jasper is still stuck in his rut.  He may have been trying with Greg Heyward, but we all know how well that turned out.  It also took similarities between Dec and Jasper in regards to the Heyward situation for Simon to acknowledge the human frailties of his 'nemesis' and try to help him.

We don't really know what's happening with Jasper at the end of Tigerland.  Maybe one day we'll find out.  Maybe he and Simon will eventually be friends?

Okay, maybe they won't go that far.  They both enjoy disliking each other too much to completely stop.  But Simon has melted a little, and Jasper came clean about some of the inaccuracies of the book he wrote with Greg Heyward.  It's a step forward, at least.

At times you have a 'soundtrack' in your head while writing.  Funnily enough, one of my favourite artists brought out a new album after Tigerland was finished, but one of the songs seemed made for Jasper, perfectly encapsulating his own fears and how he knows he is being stupid for letting Heyward treat him the way he does, but that love is an awful beast and it can overpower you:

When we first met

I was glad to be your pet

Like a Lab I once had that we called Maisie

But fetching sticks

Was the best I had for tricks

You got bored

You got mad then you got crazy

But I came back for more

And you laughed in my face and you rubbed it in
Cause I'm a Labrador
A Loyal Labrador

Ever an athlete, Heyward knew how to play games.  But I wanted to show that he had his own demons to fight as well.  He isn't without redemption.  Maybe in time he'll grow to realise he doesn't have to win at all costs, and regret what he did to people along the way.  Hopefully though, Jasper is no longer his labrador.

Aimee Mann, "Labrador", from the album Charmer.

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