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Haven’t been able to complete the gods as I’d wanted to. I need to write about Astel and Matthias, and some more about Ghent too. He’s central.

Think I’ll wander down to the British Library and mooch around there for a couple of days; see if the quiet and the smell of books will help me squeeze the first draft from out of my bones. If that doesn’t work, I’m bailing.

on writing

The best advice on how to write is from Stephen King in his book On Writing. He’s an excllent craftsman and fully aware of how plies his trade. It’s available on Amazon and well worth the seven pounds plus postage.

More succinct advice comes from Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for writing well, which he was apparently given as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star in 1917. Google it.

I can’t top those guys but I will add this three tips:

  • Read every day.
  • Write what pleases you.
  • Edit everything.

My main inflences are, probably:

Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck.
Punk Rock.

If you triangulate these three, you get my short stories.


I had this excellent dream where I’d become, by the usual sort of dream-magic, a world-class spin-bowler. I was the slowest, trickiest, most accurate spin bowler in the world.

I was a zen bowler.

It wasn’t about the batsman, or the wicket, or the bails or even the match itself; it was about the moment of release; the disengagement of ball and bowler. It was about that specific moment when everything is possible but the outcome is already inevitable.

* *

Sometimes, when I meditate I focus on the image of my finger, half-immersed in a glass of fresh, cool water, and I contemplate the sensations in that part of me that is neither wet or dry.

Maybe next time I’ll focus on a cricket ball as it leaves my hand.


‘So you’re the girl who finally snared Lishman?’ I said.

Jesse is cool, I reckon, a good match for him, and the three of us were having a coffee at the station while they waited for the train to Tunbridge Wells.

Tunbridge Wells is a place that I thought didn’t really exist; like Surbiton or Purley, I thought it was a contemporary suburban, chintz-windowed myth, an incarnation of Arthur’s Camelot maybe, brought small on a diet of tinned soup, ITV drama and the Daily Mail.

I was wrong.

But TW isn’t their final destination, it’s just a stop-off to see Jesse’s sister, because Lishman and Jesse have chosen the rural life – they’re dropping off the grid; taking a lease on a cold-water shack in the mountains west of Barcelona, where wild boars, dragging water from the well, a cash economy and an uninterrupted view of the stars at night will compete with Lishman’s urban, conspiracy-addled brain.

I’m betting on reality to win, but we’ll see.



from August 2009


Driving through town on my way back from Wilson’s I passed Imelda. It was the first time I’d seen her in about five years and I smiled in her direction and she saw me but she blanked me, like I expected her too, and like she does every time I see her.

That’s cool, I wasn’t kind to her when we were together. Slept with all her friends.

She has black hair and pale skin, huge cheekbones and she always looks a little closed-off. I don’t know if she’s beautiful.

I used to think she was.

same day collection

Got back from a day out with Wilson, fed the cat, checked I hadn’t been burgled, and found I had an email from Rapunzel saying she’d put my new stories on the site; well some of them are new, and there are a couple of rewritten ones too.

Not having an editor, or anyone to bounce my stories off, I always feel that they’re a draft or two short of completed, but that’s how it goes. I might edit them again in the future but I’ll leave it for a good while before I do – get some distance between me and them.

I’ll know if they’re any good when I look at them again, but at the moment I’m word blind.

Only got to work on the gods now, and then I’m done for the year. But not today; I’m going to sit out the back and drink wine for the rest of the day.



from 2009

blinded by the light

Dreamt I’d been shot in the head and was undergoing invasive brain surgery. After a couple of minutes wondering why the pain didn’t go away when I woke, I realised I was having a migraine so I got up and ran downstairs to grab my magic pills from my rucsack. On the way back to bed I fell over Starlight, who wasn’t happy, and cried loudly to be let out.

I left the door ajar so she could get back in; really couldn’t be arsed getting up again a half hour later.

Thus debilitated I slept most of the morning, feeling like the pink and yellow tablets and the migraine were MMA’ing it inside my skull (sort of like a really bad hangover, mixed with the feeling of having broken glass ground into your brain) but decided to stop being a wimp and finish editing my next collection of stories.

No-one spotted that my front door was ajar from about three in the morning, so my laptop was still on the table in the front room when I dragged my moochy arse out of bed. And sitting here now, the feeling of completing the stories, and sending them off to Rapunzel to post on my website, is pretty good.


JR 2009

the ink dries in the well

‘When I’m with you,’ she told me, ‘everything outside disappears,’ she rolled over to face me, stroked my cheek with her fingertips. ‘All my cares and worries melt away.’ She kissed me on the mouth, ‘you make it right.’
‘I’m not here to rescue you,’ I said.
‘I know, silly; I know why you’re here, now. But we get on, don’t we?’
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘We get on. Really well.’

We did get on, I thought. Maybe we got on too well. How do you play this, I thought, without becoming a player?

The bedroom door creaked open and I pushed myself up on one elbow to see Starlight, velvety grey in the half light, padding across the floor. She sprang up onto the bed and I sat up and stroked her and let her purr for a few minutes, before I picked her up and dropped her back on the floor with a soft thump.
She gave a small plaintive cry and walked back out of the room.
‘She’s jealous.’
I got out of bed.
‘Where are you going?’
I went to the window; ‘It’s raining.’
‘Let me see,’ she said.
I drew open the curtains and then climbed back in beside her and she backed into my arms and we lay together watching the rain.

The twilight and the sound of the rain on the glass and the glow of the streetlights seemed to focus on us. On this moment.

She shuddered.
‘Alright?’ I asked.
‘Just thinking.’
‘You think too much,’ I told her.
‘Mmm,’ she said. I stroked her thigh and felt the goosebumps rise when I kissed the back of her neck.
‘Will you write about me?’ she whispered.
‘Probably,’ I murmured, my lips brushing the fine hairs at the nape of her neck.
‘But you won’t mention…?’
‘No,’ I said. ‘I won’t mention that.’

35 Rhums

Went to the cinema on Friday with Michael to watch 35 Rums, or as the subtitles had it, 35 Shots. Almost every scene was pregnant with meaning, but every time a narrative began to emerge (and I counted about fifteen possible stories gestating in the background) it was smothered at birth.

Just what was the significance of the second rice boiler? Or the dead cat? Or the mad german woman? And why did the cafe close, then open again?

Fuck do I know. Watching it was like listening to Free Jazz. You know it’s supposed to be good for you, on some intellectual level, but you can’t quite identify when or where the benefits are occuring.

Nevertheless, I found myself wanting to know more about the characters.


‘This is James,’ Tim said, and I looked up, ‘and this is Iris,’ he added.

She glanced down at me, a kohl-reptilian flicker that lasted long enough to surmise that I was unimportant and that we would probably never meet again, and then she turned away from me to chat to Tim.

After a couple of minutes they said their goodbyes and she drifted off across the road. ‘She has the club upstairs,’ he told me, rolling a cigarette. I watched her go – ageless, elegant, merciless, still gorgeous; a fag-hag of the first order.

We were sitting in the street outside some cafe drinking coffee, chatting about my career as a writer. I’d written one non-fiction book that had done ok, but had turned down the chance to do a promotional interview on national TV and after that the publishers lost interest in me a bit; but he wanted me to write more. I couldn’t do what he wanted, and didn’t know how to tell him. We tried to work it out.

Tim went to the toilet, returning some minutes later mildly more excited than he had been. ‘Right,’ he said, ‘Let’s sketch out your career plan.’

A few months later I emailed him to terminate our agent-client relationship. Sad really, as he was a good guy, and excellent at selling stuff, but I couldn’t go any further down that path.

Sitting listening to the radio now and there’s a documentary on Soho where, last year, I sat at a table outside a cafe with Tim sketching out the future that didn’t come to pass. It’s a really cool place, Soho, very welcoming I guess, if you give it your heart.

But it’s not the world.
It says nothing to me about my life.