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

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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

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The Black Sheep

He wasn’t much of a ram, small and weak, with no possibility of siring any of the sumptuous ewes that shared the lush green hillsides. He didn’t mind, he had his darling girl. She was tall and thin on her two legs, her hair as black and as thick as his fleece. He knew he was her favourite. Today, she hugged him longer and harder than usual and her eyes were wet with tears. Then she vanished. Later, the big man came back, grabbed his black fleece and dragged him into the back of a lorry.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Writers in Wales

Writers in Modern Wales are undervalued and unfairly treated,
just as writers have always been.

** This article first appeared in the New Welsh Review,
Winter 1999/2000 **
(but it’s still relevant)

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”
Dr Samuel Johnson

“I’m just a Gower farm boy and I make bugger all
from my writing.”
Nigel Jenkins

“I don’t make money from my art.”
Robert Minhinnick

I’m not suggesting that Nigel Jenkins and Robert Minhinnick are blockheads, and that famous quote of Johnson’s may have been a little tongue in cheek, but it sums up the way many writers must feel when pumping away at their keyboards long after dark. Who can blame a writer for feeling like a blockhead, when, after weeks of effort on a short story or a poem the only recompense received is at best a few pounds, more often a couple of contributor’s copies. Continue reading

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Boys from the Backfields

Backfields-front 1 cover oct 8-2013Who killed Betty Fish?

In 1963 the world is rocking to the Beatles, and being rocked by the Cold War and the assassination of President Kennedy.

There are far more important things on the mind of Mick Matthews, a 13 year old boy growing up on a council estate in Wales, such as the murder of a middle-aged widow in one of the posh houses across the road. Mick and his small gang are out gathering blackberries and scrumping apples when they witness the murder as it happens.

Around the same time as the demise of Betty Fish, Mick falls in love with the enigmatic Angel, a girl of the same age.

Fifty years later, the murder is still unsolved and the shadows it casts over their lives are as dark as ever.

About the book

Boys from the Backfields is a story I’ve been working on, on and off for nearly twenty years. I’ve finally decided to publish it. The book is in its final editing stage and will be available early November 2013.

More info soon . . .

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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