Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Directly outside my window, bulbous toads are gathered.
At the head of a long table, the wartiest steadies a wide-brimmed hat on the glistening slime dripping from its brow.
A voice growls from a speaker I didn’t know was in here. Mistook the grill for an air vent.
What did it say?
‘...from this day forth, I shall be known as Susan, and all humble toadlings shall prostrate themselves before the full, round bloom of my sumptuous boobies.’
It’s been a long time since a hearty cheer greeted my ears, and as the toads chinked glasses, plucked small flies from the tips of cocktail sticks, and lit their farts with candles, I couldn’t help feeling it would be a while yet.
Something about the spectacle disturbed me. Yes, they were enormous — easily four feet tall — and yes, the tablecloth clashed terribly with the napkins, but in spite of the bulletproof glass between us, I could sense a mood. A vibe.
‘The numbers,’ belched Susan.
Susan — yes, I saw that now. Christ.
A fat toad midway down the table hopped from his seat clutching a scroll. In a low voice that shook the rivets from the speaker grill, he read out a list of numbers while his eager audience nodded and exchanged gold coins.
‘Twelve,’ said Susan, hoisting her bosom till her knees nearly upended the table. ‘Who is twelve?’
A whisper. For toads, at least.
Did I hear Old Knobbly? Must have been. The toad who stood up did not look at all smooth.
‘Your grace,’ he said, affecting a posh voice, ‘I am honoured to be first chosen to pay homage to—‘
‘Make haste, fool.’ Susan extended a finger. ‘And you there, with your feet on the table. Fetch a video camera. My spawn must have witness of this night.’
For the first time I noticed one of them wore no party hat, and when it removed its webbed feet reluctantly from the table, I saw it slip something metallic from its swimming trunks. A vibe. Definitely, yes.
But that’s the trouble with this place. The shutters roll down over the glass when you least expect it, the rumble of their rusted slats an object lesson in spite. I turn to the speaker — half turn — no, it’s dead.
Doubtless, the shutter will rise again tomorrow, and doubtless, now, I’ll hear voices.
I lie down in the barren darkness, curl my knees up close.
I’m trapped in this place. Doomed only to witness as the world spins by, directly outside...
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Saturday, November 6th 1999 — a day I’ll never forget.
I’d gone to see Curvaceous Stilton play Sporpington Whippet with some of the lads from The Ruptured Stallion.
The whole of Stilton Park was heaving, and as the wind kicked up and blew the raucous cheers of 65,000 beer-filled fans around the stadium (along with the smell of Mega-Burgerz), we knew we were in for a treat.
The Whippet had got off to a good start that season, and with half our midfield ill with a stomach bug picked up in a sleazy Spanish hotel the week before, we were looking to Stoat to score an early goal.
From our armoured barricade next to the toilet exit, me and the lads watched as wave after wave of Stilton attacks were beaten back by the resilient Sporpington defense. Midway through the first half it looked as if the balance of play was about to shift against us.
Then some useless right back brought Sly Rivilla down ten yards outside the opposition box and Wade Stoat stepped up to take the free kick.
He was barely twenty feet from us when Mike Oxbent rolled him the ball, and as I joined in with the chants of Stoaty Stoaty Stoaty-O, I knew I had to throw him a bar of chocolate for good luck. To this day, I have no idea what came over me, but you know how it is sometimes — you get a flash of inspiration you simply have to act upon. So I yacked a Mars bar in his direction.
‘Wade,’ I shouted, ‘here’s some chocolate for you, mate.’
It landed right next to his feet, and while the referee was sorting out some fisticuffs in the Sporpington wall, Stoat picked it up and bit a huge chunk off the end. Not kidding, he was so close to us, you could see the toffee go all stringy. And you know that advertising cliche about chocolate bars being satisfying? I’d never believed it till that moment. Yeah, they taste all right and that, but they’re hardly satisfying. Stoaty really appreciated it, though. I could tell. By the time he was halfway through it, his cheeks had gone all rosy and he was rubbing his stomach in a circular motion and licking his lips. Then he looked over to us and gave us the thumbs up.
‘Great chocolate, lads,’ he called. Just like that. Great chocolate, lads. That’s what he actually said. To us. About our —my — chocolate. Can you believe it?
Sadly, the free kick sailed past the left post, but I reckon that Mars bar changed the game for us because we went on to win 3-0.
When we got back to the pub after the match, me and the lads sat in the bar till closing time analysing every millisecond of that magical moment. What if it had been a Milky Way? What if it had hit him on the back of the head? What if he’d been allergic to chocolate?
Anything could have happened in those fateful few seconds — but fortunately for us, it didn’t.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Slow progress so far this week on the WIP, mainly due to a glut of sentences riddled with buts. Some, I've cunningly morphed into yets, and others I've turned on their heads to make ands, but (there I go again), my mountain of gluteal conjunctions remains unbulldozed.
So, as a distraction from the task of solving this monstrous conundrum, I've got myself started on a limerick.
Want to help?
There was a young man from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlll-
Friday, August 15, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Columns of crystallized Merlot burst from every skin pore like heliotrope stalactites, speckles of undigested chili con carne detach themselves from the wall of my stomach like cats climbing down trees after a tsunami, and all around me, the world squeaks and grumbles like Ozzy Osbourne himself had sung me to sleep as I lay in a rock-filled hammock slung between a couple of Gigawatt speaker stacks.
I'm glad my mate Mike made it to fifty...but not so glad about everything else.
Back some time around September when I've winched my face from round my waist...
Thursday, August 7, 2008
What a great year that was.
* First series of Dr Who.
* First Beatles album.
* First Russian to make it out of the USSR with permission from the Kremlin.
* First appearance of TAB cola brings a whole new world of choice to everyone hellbent on destroying their own stomach lining.
* First time Martin Luther King gives a speech without swinging an enormous fish round his head bellowing, ‘I have a bream...’
* First time the phrase zip code has meaning outside certain gents’ lavatories.
* First time you can be burnt by the Roman Catholic church in the name of cremation rather than heresy.
* First Russian woman to make it out of the USSR with permission from the Kremlin, presumably to pick up all the dead dogs and monkeys before the yanks could get to them.
* First horse to receive a liver transplant from a duck.
* First time the people of Zanzibar can lick a postage stamp without the Queen of England on the front of it.
* First time Philip Larkin traps his cock in a biscuit tin while masturbating.
Oh yes — and this poor wretch was left out in the garden by his heartless mother for days on end, with only his own wet nappies strung on the washing line for company.
No wonder I grew to hate the sight of a blank page.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Thanks to JaneyV for this timely post on the subject of creativity, geography, school holidays, dark corners — and writing. I’ve been having similar thoughts myself since my return from the gallic underbelly of the Charente Maritime, and you’ve saved me a few paragraphs here, me duck. Whether this constitutes plagiarism or merely laziness, I have no idea: the convolutions of my cerebellum would be better served up as cottage cheese than deployed for mental processing at the moment.
My increasingly serpent-like complexion reminds me that serious work must now commence on the WIP That Will Not P — if only because my skin is peeling in papyrus sheets as blank as the interior of my spangly new notebook.
I have roughly 60,000 words of hard draft, much of which is more or less finished and some of which is actually entertaining. My problem now (in addition to writing the final 30,000 words, figuring out the ending and draining the purple goo from the florid simile swamps on which the plot floats like a series of disjointed tectonic plates) is that I’m a hopeless reviser. Had I been born with the manly musculature of someone like Madonna, maybe I’d have become an explorer and visited every jungle, desert and wilderness once and once only before being run over in an Asda car park shopping for cheap socks between spectacular adventures. It’s having to do things again. I just hate it.
Take the chapter I’ve been working on this morning, for instance (hey, and while you’re at it, sweep up all the hair I’ve torn from my head and mop the condensation of frustration from my window so I can see daylight). It’s a simple A to B romp of 3,500 words, the bulk of which I’m pleased with. Now, I have no idea what the rest of you get up to as you’re sorting your has’s from your was’s and your plot notes from your script, but I use WordPerfect’s footnote function in conjunction with simple redlines to generate a series of notes with pointers on everything from wrong word to he can’t be wearing this because the werewolf ate it in the spaceship chapter to research how long you’d spend in prison if you were caught wanking off a moose. This current chapter has twenty such notes, and although most of them will make it through the glory hoop labelled FINISHED, to be tidied up once I begin laying all the chapters out to check I have everything in the right order, there are still a few sentences and chunks of paragraphs that need restructuring before I’ll allow myself to say “job done” — and for the life of me, I can’t seem to work the simplest of writerly magicks on the miserable bastards. I can visualise everything just as I did when I first wrote it out, and in note form, it’s a cinch to plot out. He stands up. He walks across the room. The sun is shining. Easy. But can I hell/heck/Humperdinck fill in the blanks? My only hope is that an amorphous overview is taking shape as everything begins slotting itself together; an amorphous overview* discriminating in its all-encompassing blobbiness. The hundred or so words I have to incorporate into the completed 3400 must must must fit or they’ll stick out like sore thumbs cut off and replaced by cucumbers. If I’m honest, the page full of one or two gaps holds more terror for me than all the blank ones put together. Yuck.
But I digress. Christ — I undress. I’m still in my pyjamas.
The important thing is that if I stick to the frightful timetable of deadlines pinned to the noticeboard of my determination and nothing awful happens like World War III breaking out or a coach load of half-brothers and sisters turning up on my doorstep along with a female gorilla looking for my Dad, I’m hoping to be well on the way towards having 90,000 words of novel with which to begin badgering a soon-to-be-selected list of agents some time around the start of November. Problem is, I’ve had plans like this before and meandered off course like a drunk walking a tightrope during an earthquake. My hope, as of this moment, is that if I go public with my schedule and include on this blog a wordycountyometerthingy to appraise the world of my miserable sluggishness, it will serve as the very best sort of cat-o-nine-tails, spurring me on from capital letter to full stop with Herculean zeal as the flesh flies from my bloodied buttocks. Either that or I’ll make a complete twat of myself.
Whatever the future holds, my dinky WIPometer now lurks in the margin.
* Had to say this twice.