Ramble – Podcast

It’s a collage

It’s a collage, that’s what it is, it’s a coll-fucking-age

writer or painter?

if I don’t paint I can’t write, in fact if I don’t paint I lose the plot . . . it takes a while, months, sometimes longer, but here it comes again . . . sorry, got to go and paint . . . if anything decent comes out of my forthcoming painting session I’ll post it here, you’ll be the first to know . . . back in a bit . . .  . . . it’s later . . . well, that didn’t go very far, there was a fair bit of tidying up and sorting out paints and brushes and canvases, not to mention collecting all the other stuff that had accumulated in the shed and putting it out of the way . . . then it was too hot to paint in there so very little got done (painting-wise) . . . then there was cooking and generally mooching about and just being unfocused . . . and now . . . here’s the result . . .

so, writer or painter then?

neither I suppose, not today anyway

about Busted and Crime and Coffee etc.mp3

just another rambling podcast partly about the book launch of Busted the other day

Crime and Coffee Festival 2019 – Cardiff Central Library

Monday June 3rd 2019 – as part of the opening event at the Crime and Coffee Festival I will be launching an unexpected brand new book,.

There will also be a rare appearance by the 2 Old Heads 🙂

More on that soon

the event starts at 12.30 pm
and the book launch is at 1.30pm : Opening Event + Busted Book Launch

more about the rest of the festival : Full Festival Details

here’s the book cover

Busted – New Novel almost here

EDIT: It’s here and will be launched Mon June 3rd – Details here

I’m very happy to say that my next novel will be published by the end of May.

The manuscript is in the final stages of proofreading. Here’s the completed front cover

Busted Bumf

It’s the early 1990’s in the large town of Elchurch on the South Wales coast. Family man Dylan D’arcy, a struggling businessman, is on the verge of going bust – again. Out of the blue, successful local entrepreneur Kevin Brown walks into his office and offers him a lifeline in the form of a lucrative contract to develop a computer system for his new venture, an ambitious mail-order operation.

Everything falls into place and within weeks Dylan and his family are reaping the rewards and looking forward to a prosperous future. At the same time there is an upsurge in drugs-related crime in the town and the antics of local underworld figure Arthur Roberts cast a dark shadow over Dylan and his family business.

Busted is the latest in a series of Elchurch Tales by Derec Jones.

Check out the author’s website for more information: www.derecjones.com

The Imaginary Man

Excerpt from Work in Progress Novel “The Flying Boy”

Also a version in the Novel “To Me”

You used to think you were especially gifted at school – this is because in your immediate circle of family and friends you were tagged as the brightest and cleverest. It was never true, but you suppose you were usually just about quick enough to figure out almost anything, and if you couldn’t figure it out, you’d put it in a box marked ‘later’ – it wasn’t that you couldn’t solve it, it just wasn’t the right time.

You can’t remember how many of those ‘later’ issues you revisited and solved, or how many sunk to the dark bottom of that box and are still there now, silting up the foundations of your being. You’ve never found life easy but it thrills you to be alive. It scares you silly too.

And so, you see, you have as much right as any one of those greats to tell your story in your way. You won’t promise an easy read, and you may not like many of the characters that feature, or many of the characteristics displayed by our man in the middle – the main protagonist – you!

The only thing you will guarantee is that this will only be about the truth. It will be completely true. You guarantee that.

It was a dampish, coldish, Saturday in October when it all began – this looking back, and the looking forward, and the imagination. The imaginary man.

Yes, The Imaginary Man – that’s you, that’s who you are. You are the original imaginary man. If someone said to you: who are you? You’d probably shrug. But if instead they asked you a series of questions such as: ‘how old are you?’, ‘what is your name?’, ‘are you male or female?’, that sort of thing, then you would already know the answers, and from those answers it could easily be deduced that you identify as a man, born in the middle of the twentieth century, now living in the twenty-first and so on.

So, you do have an identity – a strong identity, the only identity you have ever known and probably will ever know. So, get this – you are fucking important. You are as important as the fucking Queen. You are as important as the Pope, the fucking Pope. You’re not sure about people like the Buddha, or Jesus, or Muhammad, or Guru Nanak, or Krishna, or any other ancient or current inspiration for a religion – or some spiritual leader with a direct connection to the idea of God – like a conduit to the eternal love. No, You’re not sure about them; they may not even be or have been human beings in the same way as the rest of us, they may be or have been like angels or messiahs or prophets or something that operate on a different plane than human existence.

But you’re just as fucking important as any of your other ponces or plebs, and of course to yourself, you are the most important. Though you don’t need anyone else to put you down; you’re an expert at putting your-fucking-self down.

The only reason you’re writing this by the way is to draw a line between that old sucker you and to kickstart the new wiser tougher you.

So where do you begin?

Interjection

(Interjection on Wednesday November 18th 2015 – as I’m typing this into a Word document ready to be copied into the book that this will end up in. The interjection is this – is it possible that an intelligent person could practise a skill – say, like writing, for decades, and write countless words until they have accumulated at least 6 medium cardboard boxes full of their scribbles plus gigabytes of hard drive space, is it possible for that person to be a crap writer – I mean if you practised all the those years and still didn’t get even the tiniest bit of appreciation and recognition for your work – is that the time to just say “Fuck it – I’m a crap writer – give it up, find something you’re good at.” And what if I won’t accept that, because I have to write – I have to write – there is no choice for me – appreciated or not – so then my voice, however much it doesn’t fit with what is regarded as a good voice is, as good as, as important as, as interesting as, as honest as any other voice of any other human being, whether expressed in words or visual art or, god forbid – dance. End of interjection.)

NOTE: From the novel “To Me”

Cannabis is so much stronger than it was in the sixties?

Cannabis is so much stronger than it was in the sixties?

Short answer is: No, cannabis is not so much stronger than it was in the sixties.

Some sort of Weed

How do I know? Easy, I was there then and I’m here now. I started smoking cannabis on April 20th 1968 when I was sixteen. They say that if you remember the sixties then you weren’t there, so how come I can remember the exact date on which I smoked my first joint?

Easy – there was a gig starring Geno Washington and the Ram Jam band in the Glen Ballroom in Llanelli then – I found the exact date on the Internet. That’s the night I inhaled for the first time. It was a tiny bit of hash I bought for a few shillings and it had no effect whatsoever on me,

The next day I went for a walk in the countryside near my home and smoked the other half of my stash. Minutes later I was dancing through the damp fields like a demented hippy, smiling and laughing at the beautiful planet I was privileged enough to live on.

Over the next three and a half years I smoked a lot more dope and had my share of most of the other drugs that were available, and there were a lot, even in our town in the sticks. For a few months during that period I shared a flat in London with a bunch of blokes, mostly from Llanelli. Early December 1969, we bought a large bag of what we were told was Mexican Grass.

There followed three weeks of mayhem, when I often forgot who I was, where I was and even what I was. Time chopped itself into short sequences and rearranged itself so that the thing I’ll be doing 5 minutes ago came after the thing that I was doing in half an hour’s time. I was reduced to my essential essence of being a consciousness floating in the continuum of space-time loosely connected to a seventeen year old boy from Wales.

This hallucinatory surreal journey continued until Christmas Eve when most of the Llanelli contingent hopped into a hired transit and belted off down the M4 to reconnect with our roots and reassemble our splintered brains. As it turned out I didn’t go back to London after that. When the transit came to pick me up the day after Boxing Day I was too exhausted after the grass and a bit ill after Christmas over-consumption. Just over two years later I was married with a child.

I stopped taking any kind of drug, even laid off alcohol for a few years and didn’t have another spliff for more than a quarter of a century. By then the good quality hash and grass of the late sixties had turned into impure and probably toxic ‘soap’ and ‘slate’ – concoctions of cannabis resin and god knows what bulking agents,

Gradually better quality weed came on the market – mostly strains of skunk grown in someone’s attic in small batches. The quality of the drug continued to improve and become more pure. I continued to smoke, and later vape, on and off, until quite recently, and I can vouch that nothing comes close to the strength and effects of that innocent sounding Mexican Grass that altered the course of my life in 1969.

Dani Girl

Some Work in Progress

Dani Girl – Acrylic on Canvas – approx 8″ x 10″

There’s always a story.

I was sitting in the studio staring at the walls, feeling despondent. There was nothing there. No inspiration – no focus – no purpose. The universe was empty. All I had was some dregs of acrylic paint and 5 or 6 old failed canvases that had been painted in some form of pseudo-abstract meaningless squiggles and splodges.

In desperation I squeezed random bits of paint on the canvases and pushed them about with a brush until they each one was completely painted over in whatever colour emerged from the random scraps.

I left the studio for a couple of hours and distracted myself by eating, feeling even more miserable, and trying to catch up on some sleep. When I returned I picked up the same brush and the same dregs of paint and looked for some form. I chose one of the blanked out canvases and traced the shape of a head on the ridges of dried acrylic and found its features.

Thus Dani Girl emerged and the universe wasn’t empty any more.

Job done.

Update: the next day

Here’s the other 4 canvases

Continue reading

Croeso – Welcome

Featured

What’s it all about then?

No one’s got a clue really, but we try to do our best.

This website exists to display a bit of one person’s attempts to do their best. When I say ‘best’ I’m not sure if that’s true in the sense that everything here is perfectly crafted, because it’s not. Some of it is roughly hewn or not hewn at all, simply pointed at, but then again, maybe that’s the best I can do.

I dunno.

I reckon that less than 1 in 100 visitors to this website are actual human beings so if you’re one of them and not a bot, and have managed to read this far down the page, I hope you can find something of interest here.

Just scroll and click and search. Turn over some metaphorical stones – there’s quite a lot to uncover even if I do say so myself.

blah blah – you know the score – here’s a poem from 1999 about knowing the score

ninetyfivefive
 
 you know the score
 in a movie 
 or a tv show
 the flaws
 small flaws
 idiosyncratic flaws
 twelve flaws
 or just one 
 we’re allowed to be flawed 
 it’s ok as long as in the end 
 we’re fucking good at our job
 in my real life i’m an artex ceiling of cracks and fissures
 with some small redemption
 
 it’s kind of arse-backwards ain’t it?

An Ordinary Bloke writes about the End of The Sixties

The Sixties are finally ending. The signs are everywhere. The characters that populate the sixties of our shared imagination are shuffling off their mortal coils faster than newly elected politicians shrugging off their promises. It won’t be long before finding a genuine sixties survivor will be almost as impossible as getting an honest Tory to open your village fete.

So, from our vantage point half a century in the future, what was it all really about? Well, it’s kind of defined my generation’s life, coloured it in at least. But did it really mean anything? Was there a cultural revolution? Did we achieve Sexual Liberation and Gender Equality? Did we Ban the Bomb and Make Love not War?

I don’t think we did any of the above, but did we at least stall the inexorable rise of capitalism? Nope, never got far with that either. But, the sixties were special, with the music, the art, the fashion, the technology, the social movements – weren’t they?

Maybe The Sixties was just an idea. Ideas are powerful, everything comes from ideas. I mean, the music, the art, the fashion . . . and all the rest of it, they all started with ideas and then they happened. But – so what? Nobody wears mini-skirts and hot pants now, nobody marches from Aldermaston to London demanding nuclear disarmament – yet the nuclear arms are still there, more than ever. The reasons to do all those things still exist.

So, what’s happened then? Maybe the sixties were about hope, and now we’ve given that up in this topsy-turvy post-Trump-election world. There are too many billionaires, there is more wealth concentrated in the pockets of a couple of percent of the population than all the rest of us combined. The sixties itself has been commercialised more than any other decade in history – it has become a product, a facsimile designed to mesmerise, and squeeze money from, naïve punters like you and me.

Now that The Sixties is finally expiring maybe it’s time to bury the last of its warriors or at least let them sink into the shadows in retirement homes. We need to get on with now – the future.

In the meantime if you can think of anything positive that’s stood the test of that half century then write it on a banner and parade it proudly around town – or maybe just make a jpeg out of it and stick it on Facebook – job done.

wednesday, march 4, 1998

radical writers gather
at the dylan thomas centre
on wednesday night
in early march
during st david’s week
also known as ty llen
in the maritime sector
of swansea.
with nigel jenkins,
who says ‘i’m just a gower farm boy’
and ‘i make bugger all from my writing’,
others discuss cabbage soup,
and mike jenkins talks of majis,
and  spliffs,
we drink pints of cwrw,
and don’t live in red wine republics,
with sculptors’ sons,
near seven sisters rugby club,
published by seren,
or gomer,
or parthian,
or even honno,
and the university press
come barefoot
to see mike jenkins
and 2 women
one a filmmaker
the other an historian
look at the 1930s
and wives of miners
sheep roll over cattle grids
red-necks complain
while welsh nats
and painters
listen to stories of shop boys
who steal your breath
the writer sought three wild bards up a mountain
to make his name – alun richards
back to a muddy car park
past the books on sale
in daps
looking chic
down the m4
past the traffic lights
with our own agendas
to beat own drum
words like dirty snowdrops
at home a welcoming spliff
away the celtic warrior
and weasels of valleys
present voices of wales
bits of llais cymru
chasing arts council
vocational grants
why not try self-publishing
like roddy doyle
where’s irvine welch
on the internet
in a web
handing out pamphlets
to a welsh mam
she’s barefoot & still nuts
but, harry, he’s a poet

Being 66

Today is my 66th birthday. Because of the conditioning we gather from the weird cultural sewer we all bob around in, that feels like something I should be ashamed of. I mean who the hell wants to be 66 years old? That’s old, really old, beyond doubt old. You can kid yourself you still possess some vestiges of youth as you pass 60 and edge up towards 65, but 66, hell yes, that’s properly ancient. You’re so decrepit that you start to notice different things about the world, like the way your fellow codgers behave when they use their bus passes.

Here in Wales you are entitled to claim a bus pass when you are a fresh-faced 60. It took me a few months after I passed that long-dreaded birthday to overcome my shame and get the necessary documents together to prove I was ancient enough for free travel but eventually I gave in and shamefully presented myself to the local council hub to get photographed and approved. I collected the magic plastic rectangle and left the building, head down in case I bumped into someone I knew and had to explain what I was doing coming out of that emporium of benefits and social needs.

Anyway that was nearly six years ago and since then despite the odd pang of shame I have accepted that I am a member of that gang still politely referred to by some as Senior Citizens and more honestly, usually under the breath, as Old Gits.

So the way it works, on the local buses at least, is that you enter the bus and place the pass, which is the size of a credit card, on a pad near the driver. There is a beep, you then thank the driver and board the bus. Sometimes, depending on the bus company a useless ticket is printed, which you take from the machine and stick somewhere or discard.

Now, what I’ve noticed is this.

When an eligible woman boards the bus she will use her left hand to put her bus pass flat on the card reading device, remove her hand, wait for the beep, and then use her right hand to retrieve the pass, before shuffling off into the guts of the vehicle.

When it’s a man he will place the magic card on the pad with his right hand, keep his hand on it until he hears the beep, then remove his hand and the pass together.

In practice it means that men take a few less seconds to go through the formalities.

What I want to know is: What does this mean? Is this significant? Are men more efficient or are women more artistic? Will the proximity of a man’s hand to the reading device when it beeps have an effect on their health? Is this the sort of behaviour that contributes to women’s longer longevity?

I haven’t got a clue.

These are the sort of things that preoccupy a 66 year old.

God help us.

Christmas coming fast

Saturday-Bloody-Morning
Christmas coming fast
Should have been here Tuesday
Wednesday, Thursday night perhaps

The world has got a problem
Only one? I hear you ask
Well one that’s really pissed me off
That awful shopping task

We all come down together
to fill our metal guts
With putrefying blood and bones
and other awful stuff

The charity collectors
jangle at the doors
Piss off you pious bastards
I won’t give you any more

The dreaded day comes round again
We gorge until we’re numb
Forgive the sodding year that’s gone
and curse the one to come

There’s always Hope

This is something I wrote nearly 24 years ago after attending an event at the Hay-On-Wye Festival Of Literature.

Saturday May 21, 1994, 12:20pm

‘The First Novel’

A motley gathering of aspiring authors collect together under the grubby canvas of a  large marquee. Two hundred or so enthusiastic literary souls eagerly await the arrival of an editor from a famous large publishing house. She is to be accompanied by two of her latest discoveries – two brand new novelists just about to have their first works published. There is hope, it is transmitted by the excited breathing of the assembled scribes. Books from new authors are being published, despite the economic climate; someone with the power to rescue the diligent, lonely aspirants is prepared to take a chance with new writers.

Four smart middle-class women enter the arena and arrange themselves tastefully on the dais; the background hubbub fades, all eyes face front. A dedicated wannabe novelist, a cloth-capped round man is scribbling frantically into his filo-fax. An elderly lady with a limp finds herself a last-minute seat near the front and sits down with a tired sigh – it’s been a long road.

Let the lesson begin. The editor speaks first: OK, let’s forgive the carefully cultivated tones of her voice, the expensive haircut and the cigarette dangling from manicured fingers. Let’s give her a chance. The slush pile is dismissed immediately; nothing of any value comes from that. The audience fidget, embarrassed, thinking of their own contributions to that bane of the publishing world. OK, what is it then? That magic spell to get your first novel published.

Let’s have examples. The two new authors are discussed.

Writer A is an old friend of the editor, her father was a well-known poet and her mother is an accomplished novelist. Poor thing had a deprived childhood with her arty father, even had to slum it in the castle-like homes of her family’s aristocratic Mediterranean friends. The editor and this princess of words spent months, meeting for lunch and at each other’s houses, trimming and buffing her manuscript until it eventually emerged as a thin and delicately polished literary flower.

Writer B is a senior literature journalist with the Times. She was wooed by our editor (why?) until she produced a delightfully funny piece of work based in the offices of a gardening magazine. Wonderful gimmick – a free packet of geranium seeds with every book sold.

Both writers have got friends who are literary agents. So what is that magic?

The two authors speak about their work and read extracts to the sinking audience, and finally, a marketing superwoman from the publisher explains how new authors are launched with minimum expenditure and maximum publicity (in the literary sections of quality newspapers no doubt – ah! that’s why); but none of these discourses mattered, all hope had long vaporised along with the few quid each of us had paid for the privilege of a sharp slap in the face. Maybe that was the point of the event after all?

Go back to your kitchen sinks and your allotments, you’re a punter – not a writer; writers are smart cultured people with friends in the ‘write’ places.

There was to be a question and answer session afterwards. In the back of the auditorium, a disappointed and disgruntled working-class man stands up, touches his forelock to the dais and makes a quick exit. It is me.

NOTE (December 2017): I don’t think much has changed in the quarter of a century since I wrote the above piece. Maybe I should have concentrated on running my computer business. I was quite good at that until I walked away from it to focus on writing, a couple of years after that Hay session.

Still – that’s hope for you.

An Ordinary Bloke writes about Being Stupid

I’m not stupid. At least that’s what my family, friends, and teachers have always told me. And there is evidence to support this view. For example, I once sat the Mensa IQ test. I think it’s agreed that intelligence is the opposite of stupidity, and I soared to the top of the class in that test with a supposed IQ that was higher than more than 99% of the rest of humanity’s.

I’m not convinced.

I mean, if I’m not stupid why am I broke?

And if Donald Trump is stupid why is he the billionaire president of the USA?

That’s it!

An ordinary bloke writes about being culled

Have you ever been ‘culled’?

Yes, removed from the herd because you are surplus to requirements; more than that – you are persona non grata. I’m talking about social media in general and Facebook in particular.

The other day I was browsing my wife’s Facebook page, as you do. After decades of being together we don’t have any secrets, not one, zilch; well apart from the little bit of ‘private browsing’ I do now and again, just to see what it’s all about like. Anyway, enough of that . . .

DJ Self Portrait digital version

So there was a post in her newsfeed from one her ‘friends. Not that they’ve ever met in real life of course, this was one of her ‘Facebook Friends’ who only added her up as a friend because they mistook her for someone with influence in the publishing industry. They are more of a networking contact than a friend, but that’s how it goes on social media – everyone’s got something to flog, even if it’s just their blog, the one where they like to entertain you with ramblings about what sludge they had for lunch or what they thought of the over-hyped gig they went to last night,

OK, I know it’s ironic that I’m doing the same thing – sort of, but I’ve long since given up actively trying to sell or promote anything. I won’t even draw any attention to this post except maybe by way of a solitary tweet to my meagre hundred or so alleged followers.

So this post, from one of my wife’s friends said “Congratulations! If you’re reading this then you have survived the cull.” Now I was initially quite pleased by this, because I had thought of this ‘friend’ as an interesting person who possibly had some talent in the writing department, and who was my Facebook friend as well as my wife’s. But then I remembered that I was reading my wife’s Facebook feed instead of my own.

I jumped back to my computer and looked at my own Facebook feed, just to make sure. Nope not a sign of that post, and when I checked my friends’ list the person was missing.

So yeah, I had been culled.

What am I supposed to do about that? Do I just accept that I’m the sort of person that gets culled, i.e. either a non-entity or an annoyance, then just shrug and get on with my pathetic life? Or do I log in again to my wife’s Facebook account and defriend the offender on her behalf?

I don’t know what to do, I’m just an ordinary bloke.

Helo

I can’t do anything better than anecdotal and observational so I might be wrong and I can’t be bothered to do any real research because if I’m right it would be a waste of time since no one would read this anyway.

I mean even if I don’t bother to do any research and this does get read I’m still quids in aren’t I?

I am aware that the chance that anyone who is actually another person and not some automatic bot-type thing that visits random websites in the hope of finding something of value – like a list of email addresses that they can sell to their fellow bots who send emails offering riches galore, is minscule.

So, the point is: no matter how obvious I make it, no matter how honest I am, it won’t matter because no one is going to read it anyway,

Why do I bother to continue writing then?

Because part of me wants to read what another part of me wants to write. Maybe it’s just one part behaving in two different ways? I don’t know, but here it is, my voice in the void.

Is anybody out there?

(Doesn’t really matter so don’t bother responding, even if you are one of the anybodies out there)

Nos Da

(p.s. This is not as self-indulgent as it seems)

 

Extract from Work in Progress – ‘Deceit and Delusion’ Novel

This from the thoughts of Brian Llewelyn, formerly The Greatest Living Artist in Wales

Fucking tiny-minded people. If I hadn’t realised this and adjusted the way I engage with the bastards decades ago I would not be the success (that’s debatable I know) I am as an artist now.

The thing is most arbiters of culture are shallow and fake. They use what little knowledge they have to mask the gaping hole of nothingness that is their existence. I know better – I always have. Problem is I’ve allowed the bastards to subjugate me, to judge my work. Other problem is that most of the rest of the population need these hedgehog-brained existentialist angst dodgers to tell them what to think, what to buy, what to sacrifice their pathetic lives to.

Well fuck them – I’m back.

NOTES:

Deceit and Delusion is the follow up novel to Cheats and Liars

There are also several other novels in progress, most notably: Beats, the second in the trilogy of Bums, Beats and Bones and The Flying Boy, kind of meta fiction, told in the second-person present tense – sounds a bit affected but it’s not.

Better get on with it.