Archives for category: Novel extracts

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Leaves, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Scaffolding, 2012

Untitled digital photograph 2009-12

Rain blundered over from the other side of the open market and splattered itself over the cafe’s front windows. What could have been so pressing that Pankhurst couldn’t lead an investigation into the killing of a celebrity? Quinnell sipped the cold remains of his tea. The slow clockwork of Cafe 13 whirred and gyred around him, a small deal here, a customer nodding out there. He took comfort in the familiar cycle. Too many things were changing for his liking.

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled photomontage, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

“There are no demons behind this – just men, Rufus. We’re creating Hell on Earth.”

Untitled digital photograph, 2008

The following is from Chapter 13 of the novel, originally extracted for reading at a writers’ group. Chapter 13 is a big one – currently 300-400 pages long. So, a small extract…

For the first time ever she saw it rain gravel. Terence the driver fell over backwards, like a felled tree, into the mouth of the garage. She let him lie for a while then, when he didn’t get up again, Jennifer walked over to see what had happened. From the concertina metal doorway she could see him sprawled on his back, a marijuana cigarette smouldering just out of reach of his right hand. His left still held the gun.

“Are you alright?” she said.

“Jenny.” The driver didn’t move. He spoke to the ceiling.

“Yes,” she said.

The left hand laid the pistol carefully to rest on the concrete floor.

“You haven’t shot yourself have you?” she said.

Without raising his head, Terence said in a low voice, “No, I must have blanked out for a second and squeezed the trigger by accident.”

Jennifer walked smartly into the garage and ground the joint underfoot. “Naked flames: not good in a garage,” she said.

“Do me a favour. Don’t tell anyone about this,” said Terence.

“Spoilsport,” she said.

“I mean it. Tony’s very anti-drugs. If he knew I’d been smoking, he’d sack me.”

“You’re joking.”

“Please, Jenny.”

“Alright, but you owe me one big boy.” She turned on her shiny heels and left the driver where he lay.

In a moment they would all come running to see what the noise had been. Jennifer picked her way down the path between the outside wall of the garage and the moat. It ended in a dilemma. Did she step out onto the lawn, possibly alerting the inquisitive guests in the drawing room to her presence, making them wonder what she was doing there? Or did she somehow squeeze herself into the undergrowth, where ivy and brambles had been allowed to run wild, but beyond which stood a line of trees in the shade of which she could hide?

She peeked around the corner of the garage. A figure stood on the concrete terrace that adjoined the drawing room, a hand raised to its ear: Dave. Tony, who was now dressed in a silver shirt, stepped out to join him. They exchanged a few words and then the singer disappeared back inside the house. Dave tapped a number into his phone. A mobile ring-tone she had not heard before started blaring in the garage. Jennifer retreated. No way could she appear from behind the garage now. Nothing about her conduct must arouse Tony’s suspicions, not now when everything was going so well. The bramble bushes behind her were up to waist height. She had nothing with her to cut through them, and nothing obvious to hand that would act as a switch. Then she saw, lent on its side against the garage wall, a broken decorator’s plank. It was damp and slimy and snails had congregated on its shady underside. But the plank was all she had, so she lifted it and laid it down over the spiky undergrowth. Thorns squeaked and a fallen branch snapped. Then all noise stopped. And she was shimmying across the plank into the shade of the trees.

Dave’s voice grew louder as he approached the garage; he was still talking into his phone. If you took away the garage there was probably less than twenty feet between him and Jennifer. She concentrated only on the next step. Make no noise. Breath become invisible, inaudible. After twenty-five-six-seven steps, the path widened. Enough that she didn’t have to stop to unpick thorny tendrils from her skirt and jacket every few feet. She allowed herself to breathe and filled her lungs with a welcoming earthy smell. Rotting leaves? The aroma belonged somewhere else, where? The time Danny got lost in the New Forest. Long before he got his hands on a drum kit.

Jennifer felt a sharp pain in her ankle. She had wandered into a nettle patch. “Ow, shit,” she said and hopped to a patch of bare earth under a big old tree. On a protruding root, she set about massaging her ankles through her sheer black tights. She knew she needed a dock leaf, but didn’t know what one looked like.

Around the curve from the base of the old tree, the gap between the undergrowth and the moat got narrower. If it got much tighter her clothes would be ruined. She thought she could see movement, a bird or something flitting across the path, but it was just flies. Where she was, the brambles were still too thick to climb through, so she pushed herself up off the tree and walked with burning ankles down the slope towards the narrowing path.

Its perfect body blocking her way, one dark eye open and glassy, lay a fox attended by three house sparrows. The birds did not fly off at her approach, but continued to regard the corpse with interest. Scarlet berries or fruit of some kind, had fallen from the surrounding plants and into the gaps between paw and tree root, snout and leaf. Here is death, thought the sparrows. Nijinsky, thought Jennifer. Nijinsky. This was her new world – savage, beautiful, vengeful. Seemingly as cunning a confection as her own outward appearance. What set of circumstances had led the fox and the birds into this composition? To this frozen moment. The fox had a neat brown bullet hole in its neck. Small spots of blood marked the fur here and there, but otherwise there was surprisingly little mess. It must have been Terence, she thought. Not as bad a shot as he seemed. If he stayed off the weed he could be quite dangerous.

She too could be dangerous, the girl who had chosen this path, the maid whose origins lay in an ‘A’ level art class. An oh-yes moment: she chanced upon Untitled 1975 by Cindy Sherman in a book about the eighties. It was made up of 23 head and shoulder shots of Cindy from the first, where she wore glasses, no make-up and limp shoulder-length hair, through twenty-one minor changes – glasses taken off, blusher, eye shadow and eyeliner applied, thick red lipstick, a beauty mark and a black choker added – one picture at a time. Until at last she looked like a different person; still Cindy, but with a new hard outer layer. This work of art was something else. It did something in the world. To Jenny it said, “It is possible to effect change.” So she put away her paints and started using her body as her material. And here she was, as much of a confection as the Cindy Sherman of Untitled 1975, as much of a result of circumstance as the dead fox before her. What a pretty picture they made: the fox, the maid, the house sparrows, the spilled fruit.

Jennifer stepped over the dead animal and found herself in a less overgrown area. The blackberries had been cut back, the nettles cleared. Just ahead of her and to the left, she could see the foundations of the summer house. A little further along she would be able to slip out onto the lawn behind the tool shed.

 Untitled digital photograph (1990)

Kandinsky “Spark Out”
By Dave Swallow
Crime Editor

Shamed singer Tony Kandinsky has admitted his arrest on suspicion of possessing drugs was “stupid – whatever – my own fault.”

The former Blue Rider star was taken into custody yesterday after being found out cold in his car in London’s West End. A Good Samaritan who phoned emergency services spotted the semi-conscious star, 41, slumped at the wheel of his Saab 900 convertible, outside the Commoners Club. Police and an ambulance raced to the scene.

After making sure he had no obvious injury, officers breath-tested and searched the millionaire star. Police allegedly found cocaine and heroin on his person and in the Saab. A breath test proved positive.

Flash Tony, whose smash eighties hits included The Colour (of Love) – was arrested on suspicion of possessing controlled substances and driving while unfit through alcohol.

One witness said, “Tony was spark out – he looked a right old state. He could hardly speak.” The ex-Blue Rider star was taken to London’s West End Central police station and kept in a cell overnight…

 The Mercury, 19th February 1999

One Hit Wonder:

Ptolmaic Egg

Circumnavigating the Sea of Self/ We Are The Egg
Date: April 21, 1974
Chart Position: 9
Available: Tabula Rasa II, remastered and expanded (Klangtone! Import)

The sludgy prog of Circumnavigating the Sea of Self was never going to be a chart hit in 1974. Til Blake’s paean to the pleasures of the flesh in 12/8, and famously featuring a didgeridoo solo, was just the wrong side of whimsical. But the B-side, We Are The Egg, was a different story. “Me and Malc the roadie wrote it in half a day,” Calum McVey, Ptolmaic Egg’s drummer recalls. We Are The Egg was a four-to-the-floor, straight-ahead glam stomp that neatly satirised the band’s tour-album-tour routine from the perspective of a drum roadie. “Set ‘em up! Skins, seating, high hat, kick drum, toms,” sings McVey, then laughs. “It was a bit of a problem when it was a hit.” Creative tensions in the band increased as the single climbed the singles chart. McVey explains, “We’d never had a hit before. It wasn’t what The Egg was supposed to be about. And Til didn’t know how to handle the attention. He was a serious poet and musician and all of a sudden there was the promise of money, and girls and a better van. He wanted all that, but he wanted to be famous for his long, rambling songs too, not We Are The Egg.” The band was booked for Top of the Pops, but… “Due to some strange rule the beeb had at the time, we had to play the A side. Well, mime to it.” To make light of the fact that they weren’t playing the real hit, the band’s young guitarist “Went on dressed like Alvin Stardust and sprinkled glitter over the crowd, instead of playing his guitar.” Til sacked him. Tensions in the band got worse. “Til knew he couldn’t go back to writing the stuff he had before – there was no going back from a top ten hit single. So, we tried to write another. Til insisted on writing the lyrics, but to me they sounded, y’know, insincere.” Follow-up single, The Lido Stomp, stalled in the lower reaches of the UK chart.

“You had to admire him – Til took this really bold step and as a result we lost our original fanbase,” McVey breaks off to laugh at this. “I remember him saying to me, “It’s no good trying to attack the mainstream from the outside, you’ve got to be right inside to subvert it.” Then he shaved his beard off. And on went the make-up.”

The Lido Stomp made the Top 30 in France and Italy and was a top ten hit in Germany. “It was Germany that broke up the band,” says McVey, “We were on our way to do some TV there. Til wouldn’t travel with the rest of the band at that point, so we all flew out seperately with plans to meet in Bonn. But Til never turned up – there’d been some mix-up at the airport and he ended up in Norway. There was no way he was going to make it to Bonn in time, so we recorded the show without him. Then we flew home, because we had a tour to do.” But Til never came home. “Something happened to him out there. We got a telegram from him a week before the start of the tour saying he’d quit the band and the music biz. We were a bit shaken. There was a lot of money at stake. We had to struggle on with Bob standing in on vocals. But I think we all knew it was over for The Egg. And at the end of the tour it just sort of fizzled out. At least we didn’t split up because of drugs, or musical differences or nicking each other’s girlfriends or any of that stuff – it was a cock-up at Heathrow what did it.”

“After The Egg I realised I wasn’t going to be a drummer for the rest of my life, so I diversified.” McVey went on to write hits for Slinky, The Splitz, and Jack in the seventies. “A great time,” he laughs. In the eighties he reinvented himself as the producer of choice for Los Angeles hair-metal bands, including Toxyn.

But what happened to the other members of Ptolmaic Egg? Til Blake, the band’s singer, songwriter and leader, “runs an organic farm somewhere in Yorkshire.” Bob Tunage, who played bass and sang, “teaches bass to kids at rock school over here in the States.” Dave Black, guitarist, “works in computing”. But what of the other young guitarist – the one who got the sack? “You’d know him as Tony Kandinsky – he was the only one of us to become a proper pop star. His guitar sound really made We Are The Egg – like a young Pete Townshend he was. He never played like that again of course. I still see Tony; he’s a lovely bloke nowadays.” Today Calum McVey runs his own label, Dyzfunkshun. “A lot of death metal, one funk-metal outfit, called Bompdozer and strangely a whole new breed of prog bands. It’s like my life’s come full circle,” he laughs.

Mofo, May 2007

15 Minutes with…The Man Thing

Nimble-fingered, former bassist for Tony Kandinsky, Mark Savage (AKA Man-Thing), is about to launch himself as the world’s first Bristolian love guru. His ‘very private’ grooming kit, It’s A Man Thing, is launched today.

I heard a story that you once bedded six women in a single night.

Seven. It was after an awards thing. There was an after-show party, and for some of us it carried on a long time after the doors were shut.

Were you dressed like that? (Today, Mark is sporting full metal/biker regalia)

Believe it or not I fill out a dinner suit very nicely. Appearance is important when you’re playing the mating game, mate.

Which brings us on to…

It’s A Man Thing. Penile grooming for the discerning gent. Stencils, hair-dye, clippers, a little comb, hand-mirror…[his mind wanders]…we found from our researches that young ladies, chicks, like a bit of humour in the bedroom. And in here you’ve got your stencils – keep of the grass – that sort of thing.

Do you think there’s a big market out there?

Massive, mate, massive. Every Percy needs a primping now and then. We’re rolling it out to Ann Summers first, but Boots and a couple of other high street shops have shown an interest.

What’s your favourite style?

Pink Oak.

Where did you get the idea for It’s A Man Thing?

There was this fella used to hang around the band in Amsterdam. He was from the Balkans originally reckoned he’d made a million selling something similar – not as good – back in the old country. A lightbulb lit up in my head. You can’t be a rock ‘n’ roller all your life, can you? This is my pension fund.

Why did you quit the music business?

A friend of mine died. It made me reassess. I need a rest from it for a bit.

Will you ever play bass for Tony Kandinsky again?

Dunno, mate. Sacked me, didn’t he? He’s a lovely fella, but a tricky fella as well. On the last tour I’d come up with some new ways to play the old songs, little embellishments, which he mostly liked. But there was this one night I improvised a little bass run during the encore – it got a huge cheer from the faithful. After the show, Tony said, “You know, Mark, there’s only room for one star on that stage.” We never played live together again. He’d been threatening my beard for the whole tour as well, and there was a strict ban on leathers. [He laughs, then turns suddenly sombre] I don’t want to talk about this…

OK on a happier note, what was it like working with Tony in ’92?

Fantastic, mate. Rock ‘n’ roll fun. Totally – Tony was flying, artistically. Live, the band was tight and we shifted a lot of CDs. But it’s all over now as someone famous once sang. This is the future.

It’s A Man Thing, £29.95, available now from Ann Summers, and online at

Citinews, 16th July 2006