His Name was Sal

This is an edited version of the story I read at the Welsh Short Story Network’s event in Chapter Arts, Cardiff, on June 21st. It also features in my collection ‘Dead Flowers and Other Stories”  published by Opening Chapter in November 2014.


He was an American, a couple of years older than me. I was sixteen.

In the summer of 1968, I hitched from my dreary Welsh town to see Pink Floyd in Hyde Park. After a long, scary, but interesting journey, involving a lift in an abused Transit with a stoned roadie, I arrived in the park after midnight the night before the concert and leaned against a tree to rest and absorb the vibes. Excited fellow travellers buzzed around me looking for somewhere safe to crash. Despite my exhaustion I felt I was part of something significant, a revolution was taking place and I was at the heart of it.

A pair of London louts tried to sell me a lump of dodgy-looking dope, it was probably chewing tobacco, or henna, or something. They looked shifty and vicious, like sly hyenas. I felt exposed and alone, so I shook my head and turned my back on them. I was skint anyway. The big one pushed me against the tree and pulled a knife. Continue reading

Self Publishing Workshop for Made in Roath

“Made in Roath festival brings artists and the local community in which they live together in a wide array of exciting and thought-provoking ways.”

That’s what they say on the Made in Roath website.

There’s also a significant literary element to the festival organised by the creative and talented writer Christina Thatcher.

As part of the literary bit I will be holding a workshop on Self-Publishing at Cathays Library from 2:30pm to 4:30pm on Saturday, October 18th.

This a FREE event.

More details soon in the Made in Roath brochure and on their website.

I have been self-publishing for a decade in one way or another and have set up my own publishing company, Opening Chapter,  to publish my own work along with selected work from other authors.

I’ll be basing the workshop on my very current experience publishing my latest book For the Time Being on Createspace, and possibly Kindle, if time allows.

more soon . . . .

For the Time Being

ForTheTimeBeingcreatespaceBookCover5_5x8_5_Cream_210-webWhile working on my next novel ‘Bums’ which will be published in the Spring of 2015, I have been distracting myself by putting together a volume of other bits and pieces, called for the Time Being.

It’s going to end up as a 200 page paperback book and will be published in late October or early November 2014.

For the Time Being is a bringing together of short stories, plays, poems, snippets and other fragments of my writing. Some of it is brand new, other pieces have been lurking in drawers for decades. Some of the work has been exhaustively edited while some is still red raw. Some of the work has already been published on this blog in one form or another, some of it emerged as I was putting the book together.

I don’t know if the book has any commercial viability – probably not, but I don’t really care – it’s primary purpose is as a distraction for me and something for me to read in my dotage – the pure essence of self-publishing if you like.

There will be more information about the book on Opening Chapter’s website when it’s available.

Cock of the Walk

cock-of-the-walkPenny looked at me with that adoration that embarrassed me so much. “Darling Charlie, I love you. You are so strong, so good-looking, and so successful; you are everything a girl could wish for,” she said.

“Come here my lovely, my lovely gorgeous Penny,” I said, and gave her a big, almost rib-crushing hug.

She laughed: “Take it easy Charlie, there’s plenty of time for that later, we’ve got work to do.”

“Yes, of course.” I pulled away reluctantly. “OK, you know what’s best my love.”

She sensed my disappointment. “What’s up anyway, you’ve been very distracted today? Is everything all right?” Continue reading

The Time Machine – a short story

goldfish“They say that goldfish only have something like a twelve second memory . . .”

“Who says?” I asked. One of my last pleasures – challenging the assumptions of the young.

“I don’t know – they. Anyway, goldfish have no sense of time, they can’t get bored. By the time they’ve swum around the bowl they’ve forgotten what it’s like, so it’s always new and exciting.”

“Oh to be a goldfish,” I sighed. Continue reading

Old Birds – Short Film Treatment

oldbirdsBetty, a woman of about 60, is browsing for books in the local branch library. A group of youngsters, led by a scruffy 14 year old come in and harangue her and the library assistant Vicky, a woman in her thirties.

Betty is distressed, but despite the intervention of the library assistant, the youths continue to behave in a threatening way.

An older woman, Mair, appears from behind a bookshelf and watches the melee.

The youths get a little too close to Betty and she screams. Continue reading

Midnight Comes – Short Version

midnightMidnight Comes

The plea from his friend Rick appeared in the text message window, announcing its arrival with its signature whistling tones. ‘Come on Prem – I’m gagging.’

Prem laughed, opened a drawer of the desk and pulled out a bottle of vodka. He tapped out his response. “OK, OK.” Then “Look, this site is amazing,’ he pasted the url of the site into the message and pressed enter.

Prem returned to the browser window and scrolled down, pausing now and again to look at the pictures or read the words. The phrases ‘Sign of the Beast,’ ‘666’, ‘Black Magic,’ flashed at him in a blood-red gothic font on a black background. The images on the screen were a mixture of gore and beauty. A beautiful girl in a long black robe stared at him, her eyes seemed to pull him in – he was transfixed. Continue reading

Ali’s Ark

arkIt was a sunny afternoon in May. Ali, a mixed race boy of fourteen, big for his age, should have been in school, but instead he was hiding behind the garages, chatting to Cindy. He liked Cindy; she was his friend, not like most of the other boys and girls on the estate and in school, who were horrible to him.

Ali made a grab for Cindy’s new phone. “Gimme a look Cindy,” he said.

Cindy dodged. “No, you’ll break it, you big lump – it’s expensive. I’ve gotto go now anyway.”

Ali was disappointed. “Where are you going?”

“Nowhere.” Continue reading

The Dreamer

the dreamerThe Dreamer

The creature woke up; it was screaming silently, becoming aware that it existed as a presence inside its own skull. It was a bundle of bones, hanging with flesh.

Where was he? Who was he?

Ah! Yes. He was what was known as a man, on a planet known as Earth. A few hours earlier he’d lain on that bed next to a woman, a similar collection of flesh and bones. They’d been together, sharing their existence on that small blue planet for twenty-five of its years. His name was Ianto; her name was Siân.

She was lying next to him now, her flesh and bones covered with a smooth skin. He reached across under the bedclothes and stroked her thigh with his fingertips. Continue reading


paracetamol“I’d just taken a couple of paracetamols,” Mr Pain said, speaking yesterday after his wife was tragically injured in a freak accident. “I was on my way to the kitchen to get a glass of water to swill them down with, when my nose began to tickle. I couldn’t help it, I just let out a huge sneeze.”

One of the paracetamols shot out of Mr Pain’s mouth and smashed into the right eye of Roberta Pain who was just emerging from the kitchen carrying a cup of hot black coffee. The shock of the impact caused Mrs Pain to let go of the cup, hurling its contents all over the cat, who jumped up from its place near the radiator and attacked Mrs Pain’s other eye. Continue reading

How to kill a Lamb

lambHow to Kill a Lamb

A man – Kenneth, stands alone over a table, he’s admiring a big knife, turning it over in his hand and watching the light glint on the blade.

A younger man – Sam, comes in timidly.

Kenneth looks around at Sam, the knife still in his hand.

KENNETH: You the new boy?

SAM: Well . . . yes.

KENNETH: You done this sort of thing before?

SAM: Well . . . no. Continue reading



Branwen’s mobile phone shivered in her hand. It was Harry, her hyperactive younger brother. He was always a distraction. He could be a bit too much sometimes, but she was in a generous, and bored, mood.

“Are you in?” Harry said excitedly. “I’m outside – buzz me up.”

Branwen obliged. One minute later Harry stumbled into the flat clutching his new laptop. Branwen was surprised. Harry’s computer set-up in his own flat was usually untouchable, immovable, sacrosanct, with leads and dongles stuffed into every orifice. She only had to sit down heavily and he was on the ceiling.

“What’s up bro?” Branwen asked.

Harry sat on the settee and put the laptop carefully on the coffee table. He flipped the lid open.

“Look,” he said. “Come and see.”

Branwen sat beside her brother and stared at the screen. There was a display of six coloured balls bouncing slowly at random. On each ball was a number.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Can’t you see?” he said.

“It looks like a load of balls to me.”

“Ha ha. Very funny – but honestly, can’t you see what they are?”

Branwen shook her head. “Nope.”

“It’s tomorrow night’s winning lottery numbers.” Continue reading


The fucking mice are back. I know they’re there. They’re crawling under the fucking floorboards. The cheeky fuckers are even hiding under the settee. I saw one last night, a dark beige flash, zipping from the side of the settee towards the hole in the floorboards. It’s my own fault. There shouldn’t be a hole in the floorboards. It’s as easy as that; all you’ve got to do is give them a fucking excuse and they’re in. It doesn’t have to be anything major, a little gap in the bottom of the back door, a small crack in the floorboards, and that’s enough; that’s all they need. Continue reading

Who’s Who?

– There’s a letter from Cardiff on the table in the hall.
– Oh yeah.
– Yep.
– It’s for you.
– Thanks.
– Aren’t you going to open it then?
– Later.
– Oh! Right.
– How was it today?
– What? Work?
– Yep, you know, how was your day?
– Fine, and you?
– Quiet, boring.
– Never mind.
– I was wondering, you know, fancy a drink, tonight?
– Tonight? OK then, where did you think of going?
– Just up the pub.
– The Butcher’s?
– If you like.
– All right. Have you made any food?
– Got some pizza in the oven.
– Lovely.
– So, did you have any bother?
– What do you mean?
– Did you have any bother in work? You know, you said the other day that that bloke was mucking you about; the new supervisor.
– Oh, him, no, no bother with him, I just overreacted, you know.
– Oh.
– Well, how long have I got?
– Uh? Oh, for food. You mean, when’s the pizza going to be ready.
– Yeah.
– Half an hour.
– Got time for a shower then.
– I suppose.
– What’s the matter with you?
– What do you mean?
– You’re very sullen.
– I’m not.
– Right, see you in a bit then.
– The water’s warm, you could have a bath, if you want.
– Did you get bubbles?
– I’ve been working, and cooking.
– It’s all right. I wasn’t . . . . .
– It doesn’t stop, does it? I really have been working you know.
– I never said . . .
– Sorry.
– I’d better get on with it then.
– OK. Oh, your mother phoned.
– What did she want?
– Don’t know, didn’t ask.
– You weren’t horrible to her, were you?
– She thought you had a day off. She didn’t seem to want to talk to me at all.
– Well, you can’t blame her, after what you did.
– How much did you tell her?
– I’ve got no-one else to talk to.
– What about me?
– You – are the problem.
– Who do you know in Cardiff then?
– I bet that’s been bugging you all day, it’s a wonder you didn’t try to steam it open.
– Just wondering.
– You don’t trust me, do you?
– Well . . .
– Look, I can’t help it if you haven’t got a life.
– But I have, I work from home now, you know that.
– Look, I really need that shower.
– Sorry, you go ahead.
– Thank you very much sir.
– No need to be so sarcastic.
– You’d better check that pizza.
– It’s all right, the oven’s on very low, I spent a lot of time on that pizza, I’m not going to ruin it now. It’s a very complicated process, making it from scratch, no wonder people just pick up the phone.
– I didn’t ask you to make food for me; I don’t even like pizza that much.
– Excuse me.
– Sorry.
– Are you all right?
– I’m tired.
– Had a long day?
– Yes, I suppose so.
– Never mind, have a long soak in the bath.
– What about the pizza?
– It can wait.
– Thanks.
– I love you.
– I know.

The Walker

A story written a while ago, originally published in The Walker and Other Stories

the-walker-frontI used to be like you, leaning on a counter of my shop and staring out of the window at me walking by. You were not normal – I was. I didn’t see me in my eyes like you don’t now. You will come to understand that we are one, one day. In your world where everything has a place even me, I am the madman walking by, I am your future, you are mine. At the end of this street I will turn left and make my way home at last. I have thought it through, it is good again. I’ll sleep tonight.
It is 7 am, I am awake, it is still good. Time for breakfast: a cup of tea and a couple of slices of toast. I slept last night for at least five hours, that is a good night – five blissful hours of unconsciousness. Today I’ll walk to the shops again: I’ll go in to that one near the station where they sell the strong smelling tobacco, and I’ll ask the price of the chrome Zippo cigarette lighter in the window. I won’t buy it of course, how can I?  Besides – I don’t smoke, any more. First stop – the bathroom – that’s a satisfying piss, the first one of the day always is, that’s when I really need to empty my bladder; no need to stand there and shake it about nonchalantly waiting. God – I hate public toilets, always some pratt trying to see over your shoulder, as if to compare dicks. Is it a natural consequence of man’s evolution, to stand, shoulders rubbing, next to complete strangers and stare at pastel coloured walls, while down below, your urine and theirs mix together before rushing on a journey that ultimately leads to the ocean and complete amalgamation?
On to the kitchen: such a complicated sequence of actions to co-ordinate this morning. Items required: tea bag, cup (must be clean), milk (must be fresh(ish)), sugar, kettle, kettle lead, water, bread (not too stale), margarine, grill, peanut butter, jam, big plate, small plate, butter (or margarine) knife, another knife for peanut butter, yet another for jam, tea spoon. Will the toast burn while I’m washing the knives? What now? Turn the grill off. Shit!  It’s all getting cold now. Radio on, get something to read – what’s this?  Last week’s free paper – that’ll do.
Chomp, chomp, delicious. ‘Test Drive the New Rover’. ‘First team lose by two goals.’  ‘Gang of shoplifters hit town.’  That’s an interesting headline. ‘Gangs of professional shoplifters are targeting stores in the town centre.’  Read on. Bullshit!  Sensationalism!  We’re all alone really. No such thing as a gang. Christmas soon – the adverts tell me, I like Christmas; more people about and the shopkeepers are too busy to notice me; I can just walk all day – walk and observe, watch you in your hamster cages.

Read the rest . . .

Tidying Up

a short story

Tidying Up

He marched towards the anthill, broom held high above his head – he’d flatten it, get rid of those creepy-crawly invaders. How dare they set up camp on his lawn. It wasn’t his fault that it had been neglected. What was he supposed to do? He hadn’t been allowed in the house, or the garden come to that for years. Never mind, she was gone now, never to nag or threaten him again. He was free to be himself. That’s all he’d ever wanted after all.

He’d long suspected that she despised him, she resented the demands of their relationship and wanted to be on her own. She’d called him a vampire, what the hell was that supposed to mean? A soul-sucking vampire, the last thing she ever said to him, her very last words.

He threw the broom at the anthill. What did it matter now? There would be plenty of time to sort the garden out, plenty of time and plenty of money, at least she had left him that.

Angie was coming towards him across the unkempt grass. She had a can in each hand, cider for him in her right hand and lemonade for her in her left. That’s how she did it, she always put him first. She handed him the cider. He kissed her on the cheek and put his arm around her, patting her pregnant stomach. She smiled and kissed him back.

“Welcome to your new home.” He squeezed her shoulders. “Or should I say selamat datang ke rumah baru anda.”

Continue reading

A new short Story – Us

What is life? What is time? Who are we?

US – is a short story that may not answer these questions but will at least make you think about them.

read it here . . .

What was it now?

John’s jumbled muddled mind twisted thoroughly as he sat still at the top of the steps. He was alone and deep in thinking, thinking about what he was thinking about. He was, he was sure, supposed to be doing something important, or so he thought, that day. He knew, or he thought he knew, it was something to do with his girlfriend? Mary was John’s girlfriend. Mary was very understanding, thought John. She’d understand. She always did. He thought about the best-forgotten time he’d gone fishing instead of to a date with Mary. He told her he’d been rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis. That was a laugh that was, she’d showered him with remorseful kisses and she had emphatically apologised for not being with him in his distressed times. She’d even walked him to the bus-stop instead of vice-versa, even though he told her it was only a germ in his stomach after all.

And then there was the time he’d arrived an hour late for a date and he told her his bus had been involved in an accident and he’d had to make a statement to the police.

She had believed that too.

John was very forgetful, very forgetful, in fact he was so forgetful he had to write down what day it was on his hand, but to make up for his lack of memory he found he developed a terrific imagination and very often the most fantastic and unbelievable excuses would pour out easily from his trick-box. They were so unbelievable that she was the only one who believed him any more and he sometimes wondered if she did know the truth but still played along. Anyway, he was sure she’d had enough of his excuses.

He started trying to make up an excuse when he realised he’d forgotten what he had to make an excuse for.

Never mind, he thought, it’ll come to me, maybe when I see her. She’s very understanding is she.

But when was he supposed to see her? He didn’t know. He looked at his watch, then remembered the day was written on his hand, and that’s what he wanted to know. It was Friday, or it could have been Saturday, maybe he’d forgotten to wash his hands the day before. No, it was definitely Friday. Now, what happened on a Friday? Yeah, he met her after work. That was the night she worked late.

That was it, he’d go and meet her after she’d finished but he’d have to take her a box of chocolates or something to make up for what he’d forgotten. That would do fine, he thought, a box of chocolates suits all occasions. He’d give her the chocolates and a kiss. She’d understand, she always did.

He looked at his watch again, for the time this time, it was half past twelve – dinner time, suddenly he felt very hungry. She’d given him the watch for his birthday the previous year, or was it Christmas? Never mind, it was dinner time and he was hungry.

He went straight and impulsively towards the nearest café.

After a meal, a good filling meal, he sipped his coffee and thought again. He thought about the day before and what he’d done. What was it he had done? He came home from work. Changed. Washed. And gone out with the boys. It was a big drinking session for some reason. He couldn’t remember what it had been for just then but no doubt, as always, it would come to him.

Firstly, they’d gone to The George in Elphin Street, had a few drinks, a good few drinks, he remembered that, there was that model of a horse on the wall of the lounge. He’d always fancied that and finally persuaded Pete the barman to give it to him. He’d arranged to collect it the following week. Yes, he remembered that all right. What happened after that, he didn’t really know.

He did know that by then he’d had quite a few drinks and after visiting a few more pubs, the names of which eluded him, he guessed they’d ended up in George’s flat, where he’d made a drunken speech about something he couldn’t recall and made a fool of himself as he vaguely remembered.

He left the café and stopped to admire his suit and himself in a shop window. He looked startled at his reflection. Good god, suit, he should be in work now, not wearing a suit.

What time was it? Quarter past one, his watch said, he’d better hurry, he suddenly remembered he had to be at the church by half past. Mary would be waiting.