Archives for posts with tag: Fiction

Industry #1, 2013

Spider took some time to decide the shape was inanimate. While he was thinking about it, a thick mist descended on the quarry, coating everything in glistening damp. He shrugged and shrugged again, sniffing at the air. Swaying, he cocked an ear to the rustle and creak of the trees.

On a path above him, Quinnell farted and laughed.

Putting the flashlight down for a moment, Spider patted the pockets of his canary yellow jumpsuit, eventually locating what he was after – a small wrap of paper. This he unpicked and held to his nose. He snorted hungrily.

Because, because, because there were shaky, angular shadows to be cast, work boots that needed crunching unevenly over the loose chippings, and oaths to be spoken.

A little further along the track, he wiped the aviator shades from his face and folded them into a top pocket. “Your move,” he shouted less than confidently, and rubbed the torch over his brow. There was no reply; Spider loathed silence. To his friends in the clubs he would say, “The thing about silence is it’s difficult to interpret, and near worthless as a commodity.”

He followed the curve of the path and approached the dark shape of the Rover. Because he wanted the answer to a question: who was responsible for running his beautiful claret-coloured 1966 Ford Mustang off the road?

Near enough to read the number plate he shouted in surprise.  The car was as still and dark as a freshly dug grave. Spider stepped away smartly and played the torch beam over the immediate area. Including through the windscreen into the car’s cabin, which was empty. “Shit,” he said.

The track was about ten foot wide. A couple of feet to the right there was a steep drop to the next escarpment, to the left a vertical climb to more trees. Beyond the Rover, the track narrowed to little more than a footpath, hemmed in on either side by straggly-looking undergrowth. From there the path disappeared into the murk created by a stand of bushy evergreens. This seemed to be the only option as Quinnell’s hiding place. “I’m not going in there,” Spider mumbled. Wind and the drizzle slicked his black hair to his face.

There was a movement in the evergreens – a slight swaying caused by the wind. Faraway a dog snarled, and as an afterthought added a weak warning bark. Otherwise the quarry was quiet. Spider waited. When he was sure he could not hear anything human in origin, he turned on his heels and ran.

All the way back to his car, where he tugged at the door, tossed the baseball bat onto the passenger seat, and jumped into the driver’s seat. The seat was in the wrong position – it had been ratcheted forward. And there was something else different about the car: the smell. The air had become heavy and sweet. Adjusting the rear-view mirror he became aware of the shape of a man sitting on the back seat. “Fuh – ” said Spider. The man on the back seat’s fingers closed around Spider’s throat, and squeezing hard, cut off the final consonant.

“Hello Mickey,” said the man.

*

Industry is the sixth track on King Crimson’s 1984 album, Three of a Perfect Pair. It’s an instrumental piece. The album’s the third and final by the 80s version of the band.  You can listen to a live version of the track here.

*

Just outside The Plough, a pub on Museum Street, I ran into Jimmy Clancy. He is an art collector. He was very interested in portraits and agreed to me taking a few shots of him. This was the first; I took it the moment he agreed. It’s my favourite. Thanks very much, Jimmy! Hope you like your picture.

Jimmy Clancy, 2013

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Steppenwolf #1, 2013

When the call came, Detective Inspector Quinnell was sitting in the shadows of a tree at the edge of the topmost escarpment of the Light and Jennings’ Agricultural Lime and Bulk Chalk Quarry.

Far below, a man called Spider moved shakily through the lunar eeriness of the excavations, nervously playing a flashlight beam over the path his instinct had told him to follow. His other hand held a baseball bat. Quinnell watched him turn a bend and stop. Something had given Spider pause, an ambiguity in the torch-lit future. He stood still. Without taking his eyes from the shape, he shouted, “Whoever you are, you’re f_ing mental – you nearly killed us both.”

Quinnell wheezed happily to himself. Forcing two fingers into his trouser pocket he turned off the mobile. It was time to inflict some pain.

*

Steppenwolf is the second track on Hawkwind’s 1976 album, Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music. The album marks a point of transition for the band. Bassist, Lemmy was gone and vocalist/ poet, Robert Calvert was back. There are space-rock wigouts in evidence, but songs like Back on The Streets point the way to the band’s taughter, more angular future. You can listen to Steppenwolf here.

*

No travelogue today. Too tired.

Disappearer, 2013

Ahem,

They found him in that little bit of time between sunset and dusk. He was still alive. But it was dark and M. Hergé and his colleague M. Goscinny had no medical training, so they assumed the worst. Besides, they were on a diplomatic visit from D_ville and had not expected murder to be part of the agenda.

The evening started promisingly enough. M Hergé and M. Goscinny were shown around the painting exhibition and introduced to Bamtree’s most important figures by the town’s mayor. But an hour after they arrived the mayor had been called away on urgent business, leaving the two men somewhat out of their depth in such parochially prestigious company. When the private view began to wind down and the guests were invited to explore the renovations going on in the rest of the Guild Hall, M Hergé and M. Goscinny were without a chaperone, and decided to take their leave. As Bamtree’s most important people made their way up the main staircase, M Goscinnyd made for the main door, but his attention was caught by what looked like an unusual piece of art deco sculpture down an ill-lit, ground floor corridor. On closer inspection, the sculpture proved to be a poor imitation. But just beyond it lay the gents toilets. M. Goscinny decided to pay a visit, while M Hergé waited outside. Switching on the light, Goscinny saw blood and cried out. M Hergé went to his colleague’s aid, and found he had stepped into the aftermath of a bloody pre-meditated killing.

Later, M. Goscinny would say, “We were not certain of protocols for this situation…” “Assuming there was no person with legal authority in the Guild Hall, we left the scene to seek assistance,” said M. Hergé. “To find a policeman,” said M. Goscinny.

“We had no idea finding that policeman would lead to such complications,” said M. Hergé.

*

Disappearer is the seventh track on Sonic Youth’s 1990 album, Goo. The album was the band’s first release on a major label and their most accessible work. It is often unfavourably compared to their previous album, Daydream Nation, (lacking that albums panoramic sweep) but nevertheless contains a number of great alternative pop/ rock nuggets. Disappearer was released as a single in 1990. You can listen to it here.

*

Kingsway is part of the A4200. It runs from High Holborn (in the London Borough of Camden) to the Aldwych (in the City of Westminster, and home of Bush House – the BBC’s old home). The road was formally opened in 1905 and linked the ancient routes The Strand and High Holborn. It’s 100 feet wide and a lot of slum dwellings were demolished to make way for it. They were replaced by mid-rise buildings in a neoclassical or neo-baroque style. We’re going to head north towards High Holborn…

Barrytown, 2013

There was still blood under the nail of her left index finger. She was tempted to suck it out, but felt sudden revulsion. Impossible – she couldn’t have done that. She walked along an alley dotted with overflowing dustbins; no one had been murdered – tomorrow must be bin day, she thought. For a moment she hesitated, frozen to the spot half way along the alley, ahead of her a frenzied version of herself dropped a bagful of  bloodstained clothes into a wheelie bin.

*

Barrytown is the fourth track on Steely Dan’s 1974 album, Pretzel Logic. The track is a sharp dissection of class prejudice, wedded to searing sarcasm, and an upbeat backing track. “I can tell by what you carry that you come from Barrytown” being a sample lyric. You can listen Barrytown here.

*

So, having finished my ham sandwiches, I step out onto Kingsway. It’s a road with a lot of history…

This Side Of The Looking Glass, 2013

“That’s for later. If you want to get away with this, you must go back to your flat. Make a pretense at normal life. Leave only when it’s believable to do so. When you do, go to this address.” He handed her a folded piece of white paper. “The police will come in the next couple of days, so get yourself prepared for that.”

Tipping the ash from the end of his cigarette, he said, “Sorry I wasn’t there for you. Something unexpected -”

“Forget it,” she said, and stepped from his car onto the rain-slicked road. He had not actually betrayed her, he’d only let her down.

*

This Side Of The Looking Glass is the fifth track on Peter Hammill’s 1977 album, Over. The album’s about a break-up and is considered to be one of Hammill’s most intensely personal works. It’s a complex piece and he spares no one (least of all himself) as he skillfully dissects the situation the protagonists find themselves in. Over is passionate and at times crazed. This Side Of The Looking Glass was the only track to utilise a full orchestra. There’s a fantastic video of Peter Hammill performing the song on, (I think) French TV here.

*

So, I begin my travelogue at a desk, where I ate two ham sandwiches and stared at a computer screen. Not the most auspicious start perhaps.

*

Pass the ear-trumpet! This post is dedicated to Andy, David, Jeff and Simon.

Ghostwritten (I), 2013

Ghostwritten (II), 2013

Ghostwritten (III), 2013

The first shot was taken near Museum Street, the second off Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the third on Great Queen Street, London, UK.

Ghostwritten  is a novel by David Mitchell. It was published in 1999.

It was David Mitchell’s first published book, and was critically acclaimed. He’s since achieved greater commercial and critical success with Number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), which were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Here’s what Lawrence Norfolk says on the back cover: “The Sarin nerve-gas attack in the Tokyo subway leads to a love-affair between two semi-Japanese juvenile jazz-buffs, thence to a tea-shack in revolutionary China. From there we are whisked into a rogue soul’s spiritual progress through Mongolia. Art fraud and gangsterism in St. Petersburg follow, then philandering, gambling and bad indie rock in London…At various points Ghostwritten could be called a post-Cold War thriller, a love story (or several), a cult expose, a radio-show transcript, an island romance, a compendium of creation-myths, and – unsurprisingly – a ghost story.”

And here’s the first paragraph:

Who was blowing on the nape of my neck?

To be honest, I read this when it came out and I can’t remember it that well. Whenever I’ve considered reading it again, I get this feeling that I’m not going to enjoy it, because my overall impression the first time was that this was a writer showing off. He’s extremely adept at writing from different points of view (see above), but my memory (failing so don’t trust it) is of a book that was not much more than the sum of its parts. I’m sure someone will put me right.

In our house, this book can be found: study, left-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.

* * *

Thanks to the usual suspects (John, Deanne and Terry) for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our last collaboration can be found a few posts back.

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If you like good prose, I thoroughly recommend you catch up with the following blogs: Frivolous Monsters (hilarious), People Places and Bling! (all round brilliant), and Unbound Boxes Limping Gods (a fantastic narrative, beautifully illustrated).

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

“What are we doing here?” said DI Quinnell.

“Keep watching the door,” said DS Donohue. They were sitting in Donohue’s car across the street from a cafe. It was  cold, even for November. They could so easily have wasted the morning at the station instead; it would have been warmer.

“There,” said Donohue, jabbing a gloved finger at the windscreen. A slightly-built bookie-type entered the café. “There’s your man.”

“He’s got nothing to do with the murder,” said Quinnell.

“Wait,” said Donohue. So they waited. The car’s ineffectual heater hummed. Two women pushed buggies past the car, followed by a small boy wearing an inside-out blazer. He swaggered over and pressed his face against the passenger window, until Quinnell flashed his badge. Then the boy ran off.

“That woman,” said Donohue, nodding at the café entrance…

Untitled digital photographs, 2012.

The close was almost exactly as she’d left it – neat suburban houses at the upper end of the property market – its pavements bathed in a soft sodium haze. A family car had been parked on a verge by the road directly under the street light, but apart from that there was no change. The close was still and lifeless as a stage set. It was when the stage-set beckoned her forward that she realised she was shaking. Ms Nobody had not eaten for at least eight hours. “I’m starving,” she said to the lamppost. “I’m ravenous,” she said to the street sign. Dunn Close it replied.

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 digital photograph, 2012

“The appearance of Scutt means someone has stopped caring about consequences. Because Scutt doesn’t follow no code. He doesn’t care about  rules. He’s bad for business – everybody’s business.”