Extracts from: “The Diary of an Ordinary Man”

Saturday

Despite the sobs, I am not sad. I know what it’s like to feel the weight of the black dog, as Churchill called it, but that’s not what I feel right now. It’s more a sort of extreme frustration, like seeing the taillights of the last bus disappear on a cold, rainy night; the mobile phone’s battery is dead and there’s no money for a taxi anyway.

diaryIt all came to a head in the Asda car park after a silly argument about shower curtains. We’re poor you see. Buying a new shower curtain is a luxury I can’t contemplate, even if it was only ten quid, and would have brightened up our gloomy bathroom, adding a little light to this dark phase of our lives.

Fuck off, she said, just fuck off. So I did. I got out of the car and walked. I cried all the way home. Continue reading

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This time next year

Another extract from some work-in-progress on my new book ‘This is It’

NOTE: After writing this I forgot about it for eleven years, if I hadn’t I would definitely have made that first million.

This Time Next Year

(How I make my first million)

***

1-millionHi! It’s seven minutes past ten in the evening; it’s Monday May 16th 2005. This is the beginning of the story of how I made my first million. As of now, I have no idea how I’m going to do it, but do it I will. This time next year I’ll be a millionaire. Continue reading

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Should Do Well

My mother showed me this the other day. I was top of the top class in the last year of primary school. She said: “Look at this – what the hell happened?” – LOL

report-1963

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The Richest Man in the World

arianI am the richest man in the world. They say I am a recluse, I am afraid of doorknobs, I shower in purified water a dozen times a day, and I eat nothing but the flesh of sterilised fruit. It’s true; I am the richest man in the world, the rest doesn’t matter, it’s of no consequence, it’s irrelevant. All that matters is that these words reach you; that we touch.

I have no one you see – no mother, no father, no wife, no sons, no daughters, no family, no friends. Oh! I have slaves, paid slaves, unpaid sycophants, admirers, devotees even. I suspect that every second of every day my name is on the lips of someone; my name is typed into a search engine; my name is tweeted at the speed of light. Continue reading

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Breaking the Rules

Wednesday night: I met this fit girl in the pub; we exchanged phone numbers. I wrote hers on a pack of silver Rizla cigarette papers. I don’t want to appear too keen – treat ‘em mean and all that, so I had an idea. There’s fifty papers in the packet. I’ve decided that if she hasn’t contacted me by the time I’ve used the last paper, I’ll give her a call. Thing is, the pack is just about full, and because I only smoke about ten a day, that’s an excruciating five days to wait.

rollie

I could cheat. I could smoke more; perhaps if I upped the stakes to twenty a day that would halve the time, or, if I offered the papers around, maybe when the guys are rolling spliffs – that would see them disappear in a night. I’m in a quandary. I always play these little games according to the rules, and the rules are quite clear – I have to wait until I’ve used all the papers in a legitimate way, and for the purposes of this game, the legitimate way is to carry on as usual and smoke the ten a day.

Oh my god, I’ve just remembered, I’m in the middle of another little game, I’ve promised myself I’ll stop smoking by tea-time on Thursday. I’m stuffed. Continue reading

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This is it

Besides the work on other people’s books I do as a publisher I am working on at least three of four of my own.

The second and third books in the DI Frank Lee trilogy – Beats and Bones – the first book Bums has already been published. These are two full-length novels.

The second edition of my poetry collection – The Words in Me, though I may rename it.

This is it – is a full length novel-cum-autobiography. The title and content may change

So this is something I wrote about This is it just now

Friday October 30th 2015

For the blog

As well as all the other stuff I’m working on at the moment I’m writing an ‘experimental novel’. Its working title is ‘This is it’. It’s not easy to explain without sounding like an apologist for Tracey Emin’s Bed, but that is what it is – the Tracey Emin’s Bed of literature – at least that’s the sort of thing is might look like to the casual reader (which is what Tracey Emin’s bed looks like to the casual observer – or I may be wrong and Tracey Emin’s bed might actually be rubbish as may the book I’m working on.).

The point is, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of my book because I’m writing it only to myself – my future self in fact. So I make the rules and revise them or break them as I please. So, if you were really nasty and / or cynical you could say it’s a wanky book, created only to please myself.

The process by which I am writing (or constructing) the book might be of interest though.

So far I have compiled a total of almost 45,000 words. Some of it is new writing, some of it is copied from old documents in the depths of my hard drive and some of it is typed in from the many dozens of notebooks and thousands of loose papers usually lurking in cardboard in my attic, or more accurately, because I’m working on them, they are now dominating the dining room.

There is so much material in my personal archives that I am having to be very selective in choosing which pieces to include in the new book. This is a good thing because most of the material is so unpolished as to be unrecognisable as writing in the first place – still I hang on to it because I know that underneath the patina are gems waiting to be revealed – whether I will ever have the time to hack away at them is another matter.

The book is a novel, and it is also an autobiography. Obviously it can’t be a full autobiography because how can you get a whole lifetime into a book, or even a library. As a novel it is hard to pin down to any genre but let’s say it has elements of fantasy, magic-realism, science-fiction, crime, suspense, literary, historical, speculative (whatever that is) and I can’t be bothered to carry on searching for words to describe stories.

Let’s put it this way – it is definitely a story, it is definitely fiction, and it is definitely true.

And another thing – this piece is being written for a blog post, but I’m also going to put it in the book.

 

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A small country like Wales

From my novel The Three Bears

Even in a small country like Wales (and Wales is the definitive small country), there are many tribes and factions. Even in the smaller virtual country of Welsh-speaking Wales, there are many. Take Pobol y Cwm for example. Pobol y Cwm is a Welsh language soap opera, filmed mostly in Cardiff and set in the Gwendraeth Valley between Llanelli and Carmarthen. (Pobol y Cwm is Welsh for People of the Valley.)

The programme is made at the BBC studios in Llandaff, Cardiff, on behalf of the Welsh TV channel S4C. If you were to pronounce S4C phonetically in Welsh it would sound like S ped war EK. It’s known by some (cynics that they are) as S ped war Cheque because of the generous dollops of cash it splashes over its actors and programme makers, especially those associated with Pobol y Cwm.

So, there I was on the set of the Deri Arms – the local pub in Pobol-y-Cwm-Land, pretending to be a pub owner from Llanelli who had come to buy a few kegs of beer from the local brewery.

I arrived in the Green Room at about a quarter to nine, not even knowing I was playing an actual part; up until then I’d only done work as a background extra. So this director came to see me at about five past nine and gave me about five lines to say in a scene with one of the brewery’s owners, something to do with complaining about the beer being too expensive.

Anyway, my Welsh is crap, and the director was a Gog (a Welsh speaking Welshman from the Gogledd (North)), so, by the time I went on set at half nine I was in bits. Continue reading

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Supermarket prices

A contribution of mine for the people’s panel on The Guardian’s comment is free section:

* * *

A strong smell in the car park heralded an in-store promotion. I hate being manipulated as much as I hate the smell of fish, so was immediately irked. It was the first time we had been to a supermarket for months, a visit prompted by curiosity and boredom rather than a desire to pick up a bargain.

We have never liked supermarkets, and like them less now since the lovely local wholefood shop we owned went bust recently, due, in part, to their behaviour. They take on brands tried and tested in small shops like ours and plant them at cheaper prices in strategic positions in their aisles. Then, when they’ve enticed our customers into their emporiums they quietly drop the products or replace them with watered-down own-brand versions.

In the past I’ve worked for companies that supply the big four, and can say from personal experience that they are ruthless when it comes to dealing with their suppliers too. They squeeze until the margins are so tight that the companies supplying them go out of business or are sold off for a pittance to larger brands. Despite our cynical and defensive attitude, we still succumbed to the Tesco trance and racked up a bill three times as high as it would have been if we had gone shopping in the local Co-op.

Don’t be fooled by the price cuts and the friendly visage, the supermarkets exist only to make the maximum profit for their owners; the customers are simply part of the equation, and that equation involves the customer spending at least the same amount of money on each visit. Tesco’s move to cut prices will have little effect on us, the damage has already been done. Who’s next? You have been warned.

* * *

Direct link to the full piece with comments

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/30/peoples-panel-supermarket-wars

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Failure

Things fail – bicycles, cars, washing machines, governments, recipes and businesses. A failure is something that has failed, fair enough. For me though, that word has always been impossible to apply to a person. Someone who failed to make an appointment because of a traffic jam may have failed to arrive on time but is not a failure. Life is a complex web of possibilities and the choices we make about which threads to navigate are influenced by every micro-facet of our existence, whether we are aware of it or not.

Blame is another word I have a problem with. It’s a very negative word and is used to attack and hurt people. This doesn’t mean that people are not responsible for the choices they make, responsibility is not blame, though the two terms are often used the same way. The point is, life is complex and as tiny creatures in this infinite universe where every nano action ultimately has an effect on everything, we can only pray we are making the right choices as we step onto the tightropes of those threads.

That’s the hypothesis. Now to the real world – I am a failure, I am to blame. It’s true. Continue reading

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