Cheats and Liars

An extract from novel-in-progress Cheats and Liars

I hear a deep clear voice behind me.
“Be not afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
It’s Phil, my friend, the actor. It was worth making the effort. He’s always good for a manly chat. He swings around and sits opposite me.
“I know thee well enough, thy name is Gloucester. Thou must be patient, we came crying hither . . .”
“Ah Phil.” I say. “Great timing as usual. What are you up to?”
“Me?” He says. “Me, I like hanging around in the arty centre I do. It stimulates the right glands. I am an arty centre pervert. What others get from washing-lines I get from being waited on by unemployed nasturtiums.”
“Oh shut up. Pint?”
I decide to get a couple of whisky chasers to go with the pints. Phil is fiddling with a phone when I get back to the table.
“Here.” He hands it to me. “It’s one of those touchy-feely bollocks. As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.”
It’s a nice phone, lovely colours, bright blues and oranges, crisp text, feels good in the hand, like a suitable stone – a hurlable stone.
I can’t be bothered. I drop it on the table.
It’s great to be with Phil. We don’t really need to say anything so it doesn’t matter what we say. He is my oldest friend and I forget, we forget each other, in between our always random meetings. It’s been a while, six months at least. He looks a bit tired.
“All OK Phil?” I ask.
“OK sir.” He salutes. “It’s the fucking cancer. He holds his hand out to silence me. “Details unimportant. Been away you see. Tripping in Switzerland. Driving a fast car, Chinese herbs, blood transfusions. Needles, mushrooms, always the bloody mushrooms, and the acid, legal there you see – with this guy – proper, pure. But I am dying, Egypt, dying. I go, and it is done, the bell invites me.” Continue reading “Cheats and Liars”

Shakespeare did it for himself?

This article first appeared on Adopt an Indie

Shakespeare never needed the big six

When I started to write this I came up with what I thought was rather a clever little pun. “In his time ‘Shakespeare was no great shakes’. Hang on, I thought, let me google that just in case it’s been used before, and yes of course it has. The point is that nowadays we have at our fingertips – literally, access to the accumulated writings of just about every poor sap who has ever put quill to vellum or speech-to-text or any other way of recording words. There are loads of writers out there – millions upon millions of them and a small proportion are successful enough to be familiar to most literate people. Shakespeare is the Zeus in this pantheon of literary gods, yet in his day he was regarded by the then intellectual establishment as a “Johannes Factotum”, “a Jack of all trades”, nothing but “a second-rate tinkerer with the work of others” (Wikipedia).

Despite being an outsider, good old Will just got on with it and using his own wit and talent he produced The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. You can’t get more successful than that.

Continue reading “Shakespeare did it for himself?”