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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Arky-tect

If there was no web, I’d be publishing pamphlets of short stories and secreting them in cafes and on the shelves of bookshops and libraries.*

But there is a web and so I get to sit at my old wooden table listening to random musical acts from YouTube and write stories that get read by people as far away as the Phillipines and Mountain View, California. I’ve got two pieces ready to complete, plus a short story that just needs posting here and a request for a bespoke one-off short story, which I’m thinking over right now.

Waiting for my techie to deal with the problem with my Word programme though, which has stalled my productivity. That and the throat infection (‘cillin) and the back muscle that has gove into some sort of heinous spasm which the codeine is barely touching. And Starlight is still missing, though the lady at the newsagent said she might have seen her on Tuesday night.

Thing is, might as well endure all the negativity at once. Get it all over and done by next week and then plough on with the stuff that needs completing.

I love it. This life.

* went to the V&A last week to see The Ark, a spiral bookcase they’ve installed. Love the concept, but was disappointed at the reality – “designed and constructed by architects” it says in a Guardian article, but for me it looked like it was designed from memory by someone who once shopped at Ikea, and built by someone who didn’t serve their time as a joiner.

Of course, I speak with the jaundiced eye of someone who grew up in a block of flats ‘designed and constructed’ from reinforced concrete that, I’m sure, looked great on the original architect’s drawings too.

But, before I start again on my rant about the flaccid, smug, expensive irrelevence that is state-sponsored culture…

…I’ll stop.

Jazz Club

Played a gig with Thelonious Punk last night.

Went down really well, and the consensus seemed to be that we’d played better than ever, which is insane, ‘cos we’re so loose it’s unbelieveable; songs just morph into other songs, and we’ve only ever rehearsed about 8 numbers in total, which we normally spread over two sets, though we often end up playing stuff we’ve never practised or played before. No one really knows what they’re doing, we just busk it.

I try to invoke Dexter Gordon, if he was white, and crap, but I usually fail even at that. But last night Special K, our new drummer, even asked me if I’d been practising, which I took as a huge compliment ‘cos he’s the best musician in the band, able to play drums, sax, trumpet, keyboards and other stuff. And he reads music too!

We only did one set this time, cos there was a rock band on after us, but I’m pleased to say that only T-Punk got free beer, and £50, too. 

Niiiice.

WHW?

My neighbour Alfy suggested we nip up to Scotland and cycle the West Highland Way. Two days of mud, grit and pedals. In Scotland. In October.

Great, I said. let’s do it. At least there’ll be no midges, that late in the year.

Then I googled it, youtubed it, and generally checked it out. And I began to panic. Well, a lot, actually. So tonight I went round to his and we had a chat and agreed that perhaps three days would be more do-able. He’d had the same idea.

So I’ll be living on my bike for the next few weeks to try and get some bike-fitness into my system. I’ve been doing an hour a day of cycling this last week, getting up early to put in 10-15 miles, and am going to inject some longer rides.

The Devil’s Staircase looks like fun. Gotta practice my bunny-hop. And my judo-rolls for when I come off the bike, which will happen, no doubt.

Proof

Margot, whose website Joyfully Retired  printed one of my stories a couple of months ago, has kindly published a new story of mine The Flower Seller.

It displays all my usual usual traits – a little cryptic, with an open-ended narrative – but that’s how I like it, and I think I’m getting to closer to where I want to be, technically.

I try and write my stories as though the reader has opened the door onto someone’s life: they get to observe the events and hear the conversations for a while, and then the door closes again, but with the clear implication that the characters in the stories are still out there somewhere, living their lives. I believe they are.

People are what fascinate me; how people live, how they act, how they relate to each other.

I find it slightly disconcerting when I watch people and I realise that their lives carry on quite happily when I’m gone. They don’t cease to exist just because they’ve left my conscious mind. I know that sounds a bit childish but it’s true. That’s why I like people-watching though, it’s proof. Proof of life.

Grendel

Beginning work on Grendel again after a hiatus of about three months. I know the story, know what needs to follow, know how it ends too, but couldn’t work out, couldn’t decide, how to tell the next bit the way I wanted to tell it.

Now I do. Change of perspective.

Going to spend a few days planning it first though: I have the broad brush strokes worked out, and some of the fine detail is ready to load, just need to slot it together now.

It’s all good; will have the draft completed as planned by the end of the year.

foster-child of silence

When I was a kid I did some bad things. Nothing really terrible, but I acted badly, treat people badly. I was a liar, a cheat, I was violent. Got known for it too, and some people thought I was cool, girls thought I was cool, but I never did. I just felt guilty. Felt bad.

I took up writing partly as a way to get beyond all that, and now I try not to act in a bad way, try not to treat people poorly. I endeavour to tell the truth, keep my word, act honourably.

But sometimes I fail, and when I do, guilt consumes me.

Truth is beauty, Keats said, but where does that leave me, a storyteller?

Runway Latte

‘Have you come far?’
The question came from a man standing behind me in the queue.
‘Ignore him,’ the woman behind the counter told me.
‘Give me a latte with four shots,’ he told her, grinning at me.
She frowned, ‘What will you have?’
‘Serve him first,’ I said, ‘I’m in no rush.’
‘He came off shift about ten minutes ago,’ she explained, ‘and now he’s back for free coffee.’
‘I get free coffee,’ he admitted.
‘Serve the man,’ I said, ‘He looks tired. Just worked a full shift.’
He grinned at me, sleepy-eyed, nodded confirmation. ‘You come far?’ he repeated.
‘Just came over from the coast to pick up a friend,’ I said.
‘Is it nice on the coast?’ he asked, watching the girl pour a quadruple-power latte into a mug the size of a bucket.
‘Yes.’ I said, ‘It’s wonderful,’ stepping aside to let him pick up his giant coffee mug. 

The café at the airport where I met Lishman is staffed by Poles; at least the two people behind the counter were Polish, and the tired off-duty guy who struck up a conversation with me was Polish too. I can’t speak about other times of the day or night, but at almost midnight it was like mini-Cracow. I felt like a tourist. But they were friendly, garrulous, and seemed to enjoy being there. It made me enjoy being there too. There was some sort of social thing going on.

I always enjoy cafés.

I enjoy waiting in cafés; I can happily wait for hours, spend the whole evening. Drinking coffee in an airport in the middle of the night is a wonderful thing. Airports are the most peaceful places on earth. I’ll collect anyone from an airport, no matter how early or late; I don’t mind if they’re late, or even if they don’t arrive – I’ll just sit and read, jot down notes, drink coffee, watch people.

Anyhow, Jay Lishman did arrive, coming over from Barce for a long weekend of planning for our online magazine, FrontLip, and we got a lot of done. We have the ideas and the contributors. It’s all about content now.

FrontLip

Lishman arrives from the hills beyond Barce tomorrow, so we’ll be working on FrontLip this week.

GinKatie is going to write a sex therapy column, R-Abyss is writing a movie column and I finally managed to contact The Fox about writing an anarcho-sports column, the Lifestyle Curator has already started writing stuff. Things are moving forward nicely.

Jackson suggested a weekly cartoon The Bully – it’ll be a series of suggestions, diagrams, advice and guidance on how to become a consumate office bully. I’m hoping it’ll be humourous, ‘cos otherwise it’ll just end up nasty. Anyhow, we’re looking for an artist for that, so if you know one, let me know.

Right, off for my walk.

Writing Monday

Today is my first writing Monday.

I finally managed to negotiate a 4-day-week, and am now enjoying a three-day weekend, of which I’ve set aside Mondays for writing. This will have a double benefit, I reckon; I’ll have more time to write and, writing more, I’ll be able to think about it less when I’m doing other stuff.

Got off to a flying start over the weekend by creating a short story for Margot Peck’s blog – you should be able to read it here at some time in the near future. I came across Margot’s blog by chance and thought I’d like to write something for her; this ended up being a short story called The Flower Seller.

Like a lot of my stuff, it doesn’t have an ‘ending’ as such. That could be seen as a stylistic thing or just a bad habit. In my defence, it’s exactly how I want it to be; I try to write my stories as though the reader has opened the door on someone’s life – they get to watch for a bit, before the door closes again.

Anyhow, off for a clifftop walk now, then going to come back, feed the cat, start writing.