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Monthly Archives: September 2020

wax off

I stopped getting into fights by my mid-20s. I was stupid for getting into trouble, couldn’t find a way to back down, but when I met my girl she said, get into another fight and I’ll leave you. So I stopped.

One of the last encounters I had though, was with three bodybuilders outside of a gym which was next to a rehearsal room I used. These guys had been taking turns to beat up the locals. Maybe it was my turn in the barrel but, whatever the stupid reason, it all kicked off and I didn’t come out of it well. I ended up in casualty, my left eye was just about closed, I couldn’t quite close my jaw properly and I had a badly swollen left arm where one of them had hit me with a plank of wood. So I thought I’d better get checked out.

When I spoke to the receptionist at casualty she asked, ‘What happened to you?’ and as I glanced around the waiting room I saw the three guys I’d had a fight with. ‘They happened to me.’

‘The one I the middle has a concussion, a possible fractured skull,’ she told me as I filled out the forms. ‘What happened to him?’

‘I did,’ I told her.

I went over to chat to them and one of them jeered, ‘We did you in.’

‘I’m still standing,’ I said. And I was. The main guy I’d been fighting with, before his friends jumped in to help, he sat with his head in his hands, looking a bit out of it. I’d hit him with an exhaust pipe, repeatedly.

I went and sat somewhere else.

I didn’t win that fight. We just fought to a standstill. No one came out of it covered in glory. I had a hairline fracture of my arm and a puncture wound too, because the plank had a nail embedded in it. A dislocated jaw where the other friend hit me with a brick*. My eye was closed shut for a fortnight. I didn’t feel good.

But those three never went back to the gym. They stopped beating up my friends. The main guy kept on beating up people, but not near the gym or the rehearsal room. I had one fight after, that then I met my girl. So I stopped.

Why am I talking about this? I don’t know for sure, but I had some news today that made me unhappy, and the mood I have now is the same one I had as I sat alone in casualty, waiting for an x-ray. Ferocious gloom.

 

*If you’ve never witnessed a real streetfight, it’s not like you see in the movies. It happens about ten times as fast, with one tenth of the skill, it’s nasty, brutal, and the fighters employ whatever comes to hand. I’m so very glad I stopped all that nonsense.

 

Today

I’ve edited two of the texts that needed doing (though haven’t transferred the details to the electronic manuscript yet), and have only to do a complete edit of Jago and then I’m done. But I’m stalling, it’s a big job and it’s not particularly fun…

But I know when I’m going to start.

pre-booked

Looking through my bookshelves I discovered books that I’d bought last year on spec for presents, including an old copy of Cannery Row, two different prints of Post Office and The Sunset Limited, a play by Cormac McCarthy.

And others.

But maybe not just for Christmas. TSL is for John’s birthday, I guess, which is in October. I might give PO to two of the breakfast club members, though I’m not sure who. It’s Jackson’s birthday in six days so I should maybe think of something for him.

booked

This year, as has been my habit over the last few years, everyone is getting books for Christmas. In northumberland there’s a great bookshop called Barter Books, but there’s also a bookshop a few miles from me on the north bank of the Tyne called Keel Row, so I might take the ferry across and pay it a visit.

Better start writing my presents-for list. Got three months, which is long enough.

mid-mop

I started editing 2 weeks early because, what else am I supposed to do? And though it’s getting done, for some reason it’s a bit of grind.

But it will only end well.

pre-mop

Having said all that about editing next month, I find myself with two free weeks so I might begin editing tomorrow.

Why not.

mop-up

I’m setting aside October to edit of Jago, London Rain and, possibly, Stateless too.

That leaves November/December to complete my Mark Barrett Christmas story, Spenderella.

no one gets out of here alive

I was dreaming I was on my bike riding along a rugged path when all of a sudden I went down a couple of old stone steps and fell over the edge of a cliff, with a drop of about 200 feet and nothing to grab onto.

As I fell I remember thinking, ‘There’s no way back from this, there’s no escape clause, I’m going to die.’

Nothing flashed in front of my eyes, but I was very interested in what was happening at that moment.

It felt quite liberating.

Then I woke, of course, and afterwards, I realised exactly what it meant. Which was quite liberating.

writing, it’s the thing.

This blog has over 1300 posts. I once deleted 300 in a fit of the vapours, and I have no way of getting them back, so 1300+ will have to do. I think the posts go back to about 2009, maybe earlier, will have to check. I was coming out of a really unsuccessful relationship with an agent and publisher who wanted me to go down a road that I didn’t want to go, writing books abut teaching, which was my job at the time.

The books were fine, I still like them, but they weren’t where my heart lay. Fiction is the thing for me. Making up stories. Discovering new worlds.

I was telling Lishman last week that on those regular occasions when I want to give it all up, when I want to shed the burden of writing, I know I never will, because I owe those characters who are in my head the chance to speak, the chance to live and breathe. I owe them a debt. They presented themselves to me and I can’t let them down.

I write for one hour every day, and I think I might have to up that to two. Doesn’t sound like a huge change, but it would be a massive step. That current one hour includes editing and admin, so it’s not like I’m putting down 500 or a 1,000 words every day, but I’m more productive now than I used to be, and I would like to become even more so.

Those characters, see.

 

hungover

It’s not often I wake feeling hungover. I don’t like it and I avoid making it happen. Bukowski reckoned it wasn’t easy to become an alcoholic, a real alcoholic, someone who woke, hungover, three hundred days a year. He said it took determination.

I can’t be doing that.

But, yeah, this morning, I’m hungover from multiple Gin & Tonics. I want through a phase in the mid-late 90s where I was hungover every day for two years, bar five days when I had the flu. I was doing my masters in American literature and working full-time in an office, and it was a bit stressful. I took up kick-boxing too, and the combination of battering/getting battered, followed by a litre of cheap cider mixed with white wine generally got me to sleep after a day of work and studying. But I gave up the drink immediately I handed in my dissertation, and the kick-boxing not long after that. Since then I’ve tried to stay away from getting drunk.

But this morning I’m feeling like the very definition of stupid.