Starburst

I’m just leaving the Co-op Shop and I’ve got a bag of “All Original Starburst Chews, Bursting With Real Fruit Juiciness”, a Grab-Bag of Walkers Salt and Vinegar Crisps, the last manky copy of today’s Guardian newspaper and one Silk Cut cigarette. I’ve got more cigarettes at home, of course, loads of them. Thing is, I’m not going to get home. I’m going to die before I get home. I’m going to die; I know I am.

starburstSomewhere in the fifteen minute walk home, I’m going to die, I don’t know when exactly, but I know I’m going to die. Thing is, what am I going to do with the last half-mile, or less, of my life? It’s a difficult question. Perhaps if I run as fast as Flash, I can cheat death, slip past on its blind side maybe? Get home before it gets me. Continue reading

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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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I may have written about this before but it will have been with different words

Another snippet from This is It.

(Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee precise historical accuracy – all these memories may be mixed up and reconstituted in a skewed way, probably due to the bin-bag full of potent Mexican grass we consumed during the period – it was the sixties after all!)

oxford-and-cambridge-mansions

In 1969 when I was seventeen I went to London with my friend Dave. He picked me up in a transit van from where I lived with my parents and my siblings in the small council house on the outskirts of Llanelli. Dave was a roadie; well actually Dave was a brilliant guitarist but worked as a roadie in London at the time. He was a couple or more years older than me and he died in his twenties but that’s another story. Dave was one of my two best friends – the other one was Stu, who was younger than me and who also died in his twenties – that’s another story too of course. Continue reading

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UNDERNEATH

A snippet from some work-in-progress on my autobiographical-novel This is it

***

slade-poster-res‘It. Is. Art.’

‘No. It’s. Not.’

‘Hah!’ Samantha stood up. ‘Gotta go,’ she said, leaning down and puckering her heavily-lipsticked lips.

Benedict tilted his head upwards and reciprocated with the puckered lips.

Their puckered lips met.

‘Mwah,’ they said in unison. Continue reading

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Boys From the Backfields – the first chapter

The first chapter of my novel The Boys from the Backfields

Backfields-front 1 cover oct 8-2013 2013

 The door to my past opened easily, it was a surprise. I’d intended to confront Angel directly, but she was out when I arrived. Considering her profession, she should have changed the locks.

I was hiding in the attic when she came back in.

I’d climbed up there to see if I could find any clues among the bits we left behind when we’d gone to LA in the nineties. The questions raised by the anonymous emails needed answers. I found a heavy wooden box crammed with old photos, and two large manila envelopes, stuffed with my scribbles about the events that had come to define my life.

I was sitting in an old deckchair waiting for Angel to go to bed. The answer had to be there, in those damp, limp bundles, some detail I hadn’t realised was important when I’d written it down.

My cell phone vibrated as another text arrived. It was my PA, Helene, again. No. I couldn’t think about work, or too much about Helene. I had to focus. The past had to be resolved before I could think about the future again.

I wrote the first ‘book’ in the late seventies, when I felt I was able to give some time to myself, after half-a-dozen years of frantic success. Hell, I even considered retiring then, before my thirtieth birthday.

The paper was thin and stained, but the typewritten text was still crisp and bold.

I started to read.

BOOK ONE

1963 – 1973

CHAPTER 1

Have you watched those wildlife programmes on the television and seen the images of big cats dealing with porcupines? That was me and trouble. I sniffed at it in a circumspect way, and then, when it showed any sign of life, I ran like hell. That was me usually, but that day the taunting just got to me.

The smirking face begged to be squashed into the muddy grass of the field. It was a wet summer and I had recently come into that phase of life that marks your earliest memories, the few vivid incidents from early childhood that you remember when you eventually emerge into the heaviness of adulthood.

The boy’s name was David, an innocent sounding name for what was a vile specimen of childhood. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, he slithered and oozed his way around my consciousness, an evil, ugly, smelly, little boy. I knew him as Snobby, a name that invoked gross images of dirty dried-up snot and filthy fingernails. Continue reading

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First Review of Bums

bums-hardback-cover-3-front-209x300

I’m chuffed that my novel Bums has had its first review.

Click here to read it on Wales Arts Review.

Onward 🙂

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Cheats and Liars – the first Chapter

Here’s the first chapter of my novel Cheats and Liars:

Cheats-and-Liars-FrontO N E

“Are you ready?”

I’m in the kitchen snaffling a crumpet dripping with raspberry jam. Of course I’m not ready. I’m never ready. I am a work in progress.

“Come on. You don’t want to be late for your own exhibition.”

I gulp. A crumb of crumpet sticks in my throat. I cough and the crumb dislodges. Jam stained spittle dribbles over my lip.

“Look at you.”

She tuts and picks up a damp dishcloth.

After she rubs the goo from my mouth and from the lapel of the blue linen jacket I grab the car keys.

“I’m driving,” she says, taking the keys from my hand. “You can drink. You always do. Just try not to offend too many people.”

“What’s it matter? They stick like dry shit whatever I say.”

“Brian! You may be known as the Greatest Living Artist in Wales but nobody likes an arsehole.”

“Like? What’s like got to do with it? They don’t care and I don’t give a toss. It’s not real Lizi; it’s a performance.”

“Then perform, pretend.”

She’s right, and I’ll need to drink so that I can stomach the unspeakable pricks. Every year I bare my arse and they come like slime to a stagnant pond, for I have no talent and they have no taste. This isn’t my life. This is some jerk spewing on cotton canvas and picking the overfull pockets of the privileged and the gullible. The gentle boy in me is lost; he’d feel sad to look through these eyes now, to see my betrayal with its parade of pseudosmilers and its fake humility. I am a hollow husk, devoid of depth. I am dead.

I strut into the exhibition hall, late, of course. Lizi’s at my side, as always.

“Fuck,” I say.

“Ssh! You don’t have to do this,” she whispers.

“Huh! What would these maggots feed on then?”

“Shut up Brian. Behave.”

But I’m right, it’s always the same. The blood-sucking creatures are here like tics on a donkey, creepily reverent expressions turned towards me. Continue reading

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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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Captive (Short Story)

“This too must pass.” These words have helped me in my long ordeal. They ring in my head like a mantra almost every minute that I’m stuck here in this God-forsaken pit of a room. If I divide the days into hours and the hours into minutes and the minutes into seconds and think only of the infinitesimally small time-period that I am conscious of now, it is just bearable; in fact it becomes like any other moment in my reality – never-ending and entirely ephemeral.

Those times that I come face to face with my captors are the worst – and the best. I crave for their presence to confirm my own existence. I despise their arrogance, that they have the power to liberate me, and the power to end my life; they are my Gods. There’s the big one with the slow voice and hairy scarred hands, ‘LOVE’ it says in scruffy blue letters across one set of knuckles and ‘HATE’ it says in thick blood-red on the other.

captive

He seems nervous today, there’s a change in the atmosphere. Instead of shoving the filthy bowl of filthy food at me and hurriedly exiting – he lingers, as if he needs to talk. Now, I have the power. I hold the bowl jealously close, pluck out the food and cram it in my mouth. I pause, gagging on a piece of what smells like raw, rotten fish, but I force it down; I must live. I grunt at him, or at the nervous eyes visible through the narrow slits in his black balaclava. 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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Dead Flowers – a short story

Twenty-seven people were killed or injured when the bomb exploded. I happened to be travelling past on the bus, but I was only shaken up a little.

I went to help of course; I am a doctor after all. I attended to three of the victims. Mair died on the spot and Alice lost a leg, but it was Keith who got my sympathy. I suppose it was because I identified with him more than I did with the others. He was a man, we were about the same age and more significantly, it had been twenty-seven years for me too.

Keith whispered: “Twenty-seven years married, I thought I’d seen it all,” he laughed.

I laughed with him, there’s not much else you can do in a situation like that. He wasn’t seriously hurt in a physical way, but I could see the damage just as clearly as if he was. I knew the signs.

“I thought it couldn’t get any worse, after I lost my job,” he said quietly. “But of course it could, and of course it did.”

“Don’t worry, it won’t be long now.”

“I’m OK,” he said. “There’s no need to bother with me. Better go and see to the others, they need you more.”

I looked around. Through the dust, everything was surprisingly still and quiet.

“Is Mair dead?” he asked.

He already knew. Her blood and pieces of her face were dripping off his arm.

I nodded. Continue reading

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A Video Experiment: a look at some of my Paintings

I made this video to see if

a: it’s something I want to do

and

b: it’s something I can do

The jury’s still out on both counts

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Born to Lose – (short story)

Walter? What sort of a name was that to give to a child born in 1995? Walter Andrew Nankeville. You don’t need much imagination to know what nickname he acquired in later life. To be fair his parents were decent sorts, hard working and honest, and they only wanted the best for their one, and as it turned out, only child. Walter was quite happy in the nursery and infants’ schools and for the first few days of the primary school. Then the naturally cruel older boys, as soon as they found out his full name, gave him the nickname that from then on moulded his character and his attitudes to life.

When he was just eight years old he decided that he hated his parents and never spoke to them willingly again. They, poor innocent souls, never understood why they had bred such an ungrateful surly child, even until the day they both died in a pointless car accident when Walter was a broody fifteen. His feeble parents, pathetic even in the method of their demise, skidded on a patch of spilt butterfat and ended up upside down, skulls shattered, on the concrete forecourt of a Lada garage.

By then he’d already become entrenched as a true loner. All around him his peers joined football teams, went to the cinema, and started on the painful adolescent discovery of sex. Walter kept his own company, and, to the other teenagers at his school, seemed to live up to his nickname. Walter developed passions of course; he collected things, coins, stamps, and the addresses of pen-friends he never wrote to.

In the summer after the death of his parents, the children’s home that had taken him in sponsored him on a holiday to Wales. Walter didn’t mind being sent to Wales, he wouldn’t have minded staying in his room at the home either. Unfortunately, one of the staff at the adventure centre, some sort of patron saint of lost causes, decided to take on the challenge of Walter’s lethargy and apparent disinterest, and made it her task to get him out of bed in the morning and push him into some sort of activity.

reservoir

Walter realised that he had to do something with his body while his inner self brooded its way through his earthly existence so he didn’t even mind that. He elected to go walking around the hills near the reservoir, on his own of course. Betty, his motivator, was not very happy at the prospect of Walter making the solo trek, but, she reasoned, it was better than him lying in bed all day and it might at last provide the trigger that would begin the process of him recovering from the tragedy of his parents’ deaths. Continue reading

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Work in Progress: Extract from ‘Beats’

From the early draft of Beats, the second book in the trilogy featuring DI Frank Lee. The first book Bums has already been published. (more details here)

Note: This might not even make the finished book, and it will certainly be edited.

needle-etc

Freda straightened her back and pushed open the door to her mother’s bedroom. She didn’t care if she found her in her knickers or whatever, the old bat had had enough time to respond to the knocking and the calling of her name – Ffion.

Freda couldn’t bring herself to call the woman Mam, or Mum, or whatever term of endearment daughters were supposed to use when addressing the person who had given birth to them. The truth was her mother was a disaster and didn’t deserve any kind of endearment, and if she wasn’t in her room then that would mean she’d have gone out without saying anything, so wouldn’t deserve the apology Freda had hypnotised herself to offer after their argument earlier.

Ffion was in her room, and she was crashed out on the bed. Strewn across the top of the duvet next to her unconscious form were several items that might explain the condition she was in.

Freda panicked and rushed over to her mother’s bed, brushing aside the paraphernalia and the spilled bottle of vodka to reach out and feel for a pulse or signs of breathing.

Ffion groaned and rolled over. She had a silly smug grin on her face and there was dried-up froth around her mouth. She opened her eyes and looked up at her daughter.

“Hiya beautiful,” she mumbled.

“Are you all right?” Freda asked. “Are you?”

“Of course lovely girl, of course I am,” Ffion said, pushing herself up on her elbows.

“What’s all this?” Freda pointed to the rubbish on the bed.

“Ah, that’s nothing – you don’t want to take notice of that. It’s just a bit of relief for your tired old mother.”

“You stupid bitch!” Freda snapped. “You stupid fucking bitch.”

Ffion lurched forwards and grabbed Freda’s arm. “Don’t be nasty love; I told you, it’s nothing.”

Freda pushed her away. Ffion fell back on the quilt but kept her bony grip on her daughter’s arm. Freda knew that if she stayed any longer she would do something stupid herself, like strangle the madwoman who was pretending to have given birth to her. She shook the crazy cow off and ran out of the door, hands clasped to her ears to silence the feeble whining excuses. She’d had enough.

more to come . . .

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Quantum Relativity

One of the projects I’m working on has the physical attributes of a book. It looks like a book and it reads like a book (or will do when it’s finished). In its present state it contains about 80,000 words all typed up in the same Word document. The content is snippets from diaries, journals, and scraps of paper going back to when I started writing such things half a century ago when I was twelve or thirteen.years old.

I’ve got a few more bits to type up – say a couple of thousand words. When that chore is complete the real work will begin and I reckon it will take about a year. The idea is to then superimpose a story over these seemingly random unconnected scribblings, so the end result will be a kind of meta-fiction-autobiography-fantasy type of thing. So far it looks like there’s a Magic Elf and a thirteen-year-old Alien girl involved in the plot. 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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Beats: Book 2 in the DI Frank Lee Trilogy

It’s probably a mistake but I’m the sort of person who likes to show the process as well as the finished product – so here are the first 5000 words or so of the very early draft of the second book in the trilogy of crime fiction stories featuring DI Frank Lee.

The characters in Beats are mostly musicians of one kind or another; there’s Billy Heartthrob Harries, lead singer of legendary seventies rockers The Redcurrents, now in his sixties and still banging it out, and his granddaughter, folksy singer-songwriter, seventeen year old Freda.

Billy and Freda are just two of the people Frank encounters as he investigates the murder of a man found dead under the giant Orb Stage of the Elchurch Spring Music Festival.

The first book in the trilogy – Bums –  was published a few weeks ago – click here for details of that.

OK, here we go. Continue reading

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Bums, Beats and Bones

BUMS - Hardback - bookBums is my latest novel. I’ve written bits about it on here. It turns out that it’s the first book in a trilogy of crime fiction stories featuring Detective Inspector Frank Lee. Frank is an ex-punk new age traveller – a hell of a background for a police officer, but that’s just the way he revealed himself to me – it’s not my fault – he is who he is.

As the story unfolded it became obvious that it was too big to fit into just one volume and it became the first of three. the other two novels are called Beats and Bones. Where Bums is set amongst the people who live on the edges of society – sometimes known as bums, Beats involves musicians of all types and ages. Both Bums and Beats are self-contained but also part of a longer arc that is eventually resolved in Bones the final book.

Both Bums and Beats are quite complex stories, albeit presented in a simple and readable format; each is told from the point of view of multiple characters with DI Frank Lee at the centre of the action.

Bums has already been published and I have started writing Beats, so have a fairly good idea of its plot and structure. Bones, on the other hand, hasn’t been started yet, and still exists as an abstract cloud of ideas in my head – it will probably involve a character called Fagend – a contemporary Fagin who runs a gang of young boys selling drugs and engaging in petty crime. It also features Jack, a tall giant of a man who runs a training centre for unemployed young people and is also a magistrate. There’s a lot more in that cloud but it’ll keep.

In the meantime I guess I’m only writing this post because I’ve been trying to get on with writing Beats today and have been unable to focus.

Back to it!

more info about Bums on Opening Chapter’s website

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BUMS – New novel is almost ready to publish

Bums is my next novel – it is the first in a trilogy featuring Detective Inspector Frank Lee – the next two books are titled Beats and Bones and will be released next year.

Bums will first be available as a limited edition hardback – that will be available by the end of September. The paperback and kindle versions will be published in October.

Contrary to previous versions I’ve posted, this is the front cover of the hardback dust jacket.

bums-hardback-cover-3-frontmore details soon . . .

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Bums Cover again

I don’t know whether this cover that’s emerged into the pixellated light is going to make it all the way to print or whether it will be completely rethought and redesigned. I think I need to leave it for a bit while the final proofreading of the text (81,900 words – 260 pages) takes place sometime in the next month.

Latest version of the cover for Bums

Latest version of the front cover for Bums – the novel

BUMS-COVER FULL 50 percent

The full cover- front and back – with blurb

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