Something for the Weakened

Archive for October, 2010

Last Year’s Failure Part Four

October 31st, 2010 by Alastair

Part One will explain what’s going on. It’s only three parts down, so take a look if you’ve no idea what’s going on. In this concluding part we have three openings to scenes I never finished. The first introduces yet another narrative to the proceedings. Let’s have a look.

Milk Fangs was doing surprisingly well in the book trade. Dwight was quite happy with the concept. It was high enough that a couple of publishing houses had been interested in it and had even started a minor bidding war. Not that he was rolling in cash, but with the deal for an inevitable trilogy slapped down in front of him by the war’s victors, he found that he would be comfortably well off for a couple of years at least. Now with the book actually in print and proving to be fairly popular with the Young Adults (a term he hated, but one he was prepared to live with), it looked as if it was only a matter of time before someone from Hollywood came a knocking with a wheelbarrow full of money and a commercey glint in their eyes.

The concept that he was so proud of was thus; out of desperation, a vampire bites a child of six in the 1930s. Before said vampire can suck the youngster dry, it is staked by an errant vampire hunter, who is also killed in far too complicated a manner to go into here, leaving the youth to fend for itself. The girl, now being vampiristic herself, is forced to go out into the world and fend for herself as best she can. Of course, she is now unable to physically age, but still continues to learn and increase in her mental powers as a normal person who only stalks the streets between dawn and dusk would. Hence the milk fangs of the title – due to her age when bitten, every time her teeth grow to pierce the neck of some unsuspecting victim, they fall out, making feeding a rather tricky prospect at times (often with hilarious consequences). All is not lost though, as being her diminutive size and appetite, she doesn’t need that much blood to survive. Plus her regenerative powers mean that the teeth have always grown back by the following night.

Dwight knew the idea wasn’t the most original in the world. He’d not actually read any Anne Rice, nor was he particularly au fais with Scandinavian cinema. He wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about any of the horror genre really. His antecedents didn’t matter to him. He was producing something he considered to be new and , thankfully, he was getting enough people to read it who were either unaware of those past works or appreciated his stuff for its own merits. The fact that he was writing was all that really mattered.

It was far from being the first thing he’d had published. He’d worked on the college newspaper, rag mags in university, done articles for magazines on any subject they’d asked for – anything from interior design to serial killers life stories. It wasn’t even his first book published. A dry, sub academic history of a long closed steel mine near the town of his birth had been the first. He had managed to have two works of fiction printed. One was a particularly unerotic novella for a publisher of slightly racier than usual Mills and Boone, who were contractually forced to publish but requested he send them no further manuscripts. The other, a romance between eighteenth century mercantile families. This was his proudest achievement. It sold very poorly.

And that’s as far as I got with that one. No real idea as to where it would have gone from there either. The name Milk Fangs stemmed from the same conversation that produced the cycle of horror creatures described in Part One and is an idea that mildly amused me. It was as I wrote those few paragraphs that it occurred to me that there were child vampires in both Interview With The Vampire and Let The Right One In, hence the get out clause sentences. The published novelist thing probably stems from a friend of mine having just had their first novel published around that time. I’ve always found the name Dwight slightly amusing, ever since I learnt to read the credits for The A Team. Next we return to Walt’s friend from the cinema. What do you think he’s got to say for himself?

I’d known Walt since I was twelve. His folks had moved into town from some other southern provincial hell hole that couldn’t have been more than forty five minutes drive away, but no one would ever have the desire to willingly visit. He was forced into my form group at school, with the rest of my plebeian associates. To say that we bonded from the start would be a lie. Trying to fit in at a new school can’t be an easy thing and I thank all the Gods in their respective heavens that I never had to do it myself. Trying to break into already existing cliques, being examined then judged by a thousand new sweaty spotty faces and being branded ‘the new kid’ until the next poor unfortunate turned up must be some kind of unspeakable torture. Quite why parents find it acceptable to do this to their precious darlings will never cease to amaze me. But this was what Walt had to deal with at that tender pubescent age. Frustratingly to me, he dealt with it incredibly well.

I was far from being one of the cool kids back then. I’d like to argue that such things no longer apply to a man of my age, but I still have that nagging doubt that everybody in the world is considerably more well liked than I am. I’m sure that most people have moments of self doubt along those lines at one time or another. My moments are different to theirs, in that I know that I’m right. Not that I’d consider myself despised by many people, or even disliked by that many. Simply that I know the hopeless emptiness of my own condition and, having spoken to a number of people in my days upon this planet, I can rest safe in my assumption that they are doing more interesting things, having more fun, earning more money, sleeping with more people and generally doing better than I ever have or am likely to do. I had that suspicion back then too, though I had more reason to, to some degree.

I was not an athletic child, as you may have surmised. Nor was I particularly academic. I was far from stupid, if I do say so myself, but my grades were never what you would call stellar. A middling student at best, back then. On the other hand, I didn’t really fir in with the geekish set either. I had no desire to join the chess club, would only spend my lunch hours in the library if it was raining, had the briefest dalliance with role playing games that I soon saw for the futile tasks that they are. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends; there were kids who I would play with in and out of school. Just that they were more associates than actual, proper chums. I suppose I was an outsider. There was no inside that I really found myself comfortable in.

Walt was the polar opposite. He was fairly appalling at any sport he tried to turn his hand to, but he would try and play any that anyone invited him to join in. Gangly limbs flailing as he attempted to hit, kick or bat a ball, his attempts at coordination were laughable and, on most occasions, laughed at. But still he would keep having a go, no matter how badly he was causing his team to lose, no matter how much of a tit he made himself look. Every time his body failed him or his elbow accidentally found itself thrusting into someone’s nose, he’d grin his half witted grin and get stuck back into the action. The popular boys seemed to find this attitude annoying at first, which from my outsider’s perspective seemed like the natural course of action for them and I wholly expected to find him tied to fences around the tennis courts with doughnuts smeared on his face (my fate for letting in three goals one particularly unpleasant lunchtime). Yet they continued to let him play, began to find his relentless attempts at athletic endeavour amusing and then, dare I say it, endearing. After barely a month at the school, he was welcomed onto the pitch during breaks, even invited to play for our year’s football team, though only by other students. At least the Games teachers saw that they would have been onto a loser there, so vetoed him after one trial where he had managed to fracture the ankle of our star centre forward.

Even more peculiarly, he fitted in with the uncool kids too. His knowledge of Citadel miniatures was apparently unparalleled by anyone in that fraternity, even though his collection was small in comparison to some of the more fervent collectors. He was happy to participate in their fantasy wasteland scenarios, coming up with daft scenarios to play that would have made Tolkien crimson with embarrassment. His comic collection was his real asset. His brother was several years older than him and was living out in America, doing some kind of well paid foreign office job. He would send back care packages every month or so, containing dozens of the latest issues of whichever superheoes were the current flavour of the month, weeks before they’d eventually find their way onto our local newsagent’s shelves.

But it was the films which had the kids flocking to his door to grovel at his feet. His father was a massive fan of horror films while being a staunch anti censorship advocate. This led him to believe that his children should be allowed to watch whatever they wanted to, so long as it was legal and they didn’t ask too many questions afterwards (thankfully, he didn’t have any porn in his collection, otherwise I dread to think how things could have turned out). Years later he told me that he first watched Cannibal Holocaust at the tender age of nine and had nearly soiled himself in terror. After getting through that so young, everything else seemed pretty tame by comparison, so he continued working his way through his dad’s collection. When he dropped that particular bombshell into a conversation after a few days in the school, word spread like wildfire. Everyone wanted to borrow something so shocking that it would give them nightmares until they’d finished university. Walt was surprised by the attention, but more than happy to lend things out to his new found friends. He wasn’t even that concerned when half of them were never returned or that week when a third of the year seemed like somnambulists having lost so much sleep. I never borrowed anything from him. My parents didn’t have a video recorder.

And that’s where I abandoned that one. Some hints of autobiography in there, second paragraph especially – that being where my head was at last year. I’ve cheered up a bit since then I’m pleased to report. Walt’s character is mainly fictional, with a number of school friends traits grafted onto him. I was never locked to the bike sheds and then smeared with doughnuts, though I was present when it happened to someone else. Shamefully, I did not attempt to help them (by which I mean the smearee rather than the smearer – in my defence I did no smearing). We did have a video recorder, but I never watched anything more terrifying or gory than Hammer films on it and have still never seen Cannibal Holocaust. I know it says ‘fir’ when it should say ‘fit’, but changing it seemed like a betrayal of the spirit of these posts. I have an inkling that this was the last thing that I wrote – I have a tendency of getting a couple of scenes on the go at once, so if I get stuck or bored with one, I can still chug along on the other. What follows was almost certainly started after the previous scene, but as you can see by it’s length, was abandoned pretty swiftly.

“Should I be the first one to make the ‘Yummy Mummy’ joke, or do you want to?” asked Craig.

“What?” Jeff looked up from his frantic typing, perplexed by the comment.

“You know,” said Craig, a half smile splattered across his face. “’Yummy Mummies’.”

“Oh. Yeah. Ha.” Jeff did not know what Craig was talking about. Unconcerned by the interruption he turned back to his keyboard and began hammering the keys as fast as his stubby fingers would allow.

Craig considered following up on his hilarious bon mot, but knew Jeff well enough to realise he would be wasting his time. When he had his mind set in one direction, it was pointless trying to show him an alternative route, let alone trying to direct him to the services on the metaphorical road that was his thought process. He’d tried it before and it only ever seemed to result in his brain hitting the central reservation, flipping a couple of times before landing in a ditch, where it would languish for an hour or more before his subconscious’s emergency services would arrive to put plasters on the cuts and bruises, then let it loose to roam free once more.

It had been three days since the night in the pub where the scheme had been hatched and the pair had actually managed to get a surprising amount done.

What they’d actually got done, we will never know. I imagine it would have involved graphs and charts, as they’re always funny, no matter how unoriginal they may be. I quite like the tortuous analogy there and almost wish that it had gone on a little longer, though that may have over egged it a bit too much. I fear that I might have forgotten that I’d already used the ‘yummy mummies’ gag, which shows just how much attention I was paying to the project by this point. Probably best that I left it where it was.

So tomorrow I attempt to start the whole thing over again. I’ve next to no plot, some vague ideas about some characters and potentially the first two lines. Maybe it’ll work out this year. So long as my moustache doesn’t get in the way. Tedious updates and occasional extracts will follow as the month proceeds. Enjoy.

Last Year’s Failure Part Three

October 26th, 2010 by Alastair

Explanation is in part one, though to be honest none of the scenes thus far are related, nor do they really lead anywhere, so you don’t really need to read them in any order. It’s not like I finished anything or owt. Anyway, let’s see if you can endure part three.

The night was dark, but what would you expect? It was night after all. Thick cloud was blocking out the moon and stars, while the power cut had taken out all the street lights, not to mention any possibilities of ambient lighting from the houses in the village. Occasionally I saw a candle’s flicker through a window as I walked down the street, but everything else around me was completely black. As was I. I was wearing my full length black overcoat over my black polo neck and my black jeans over my black pants. With my black scarf done up high over my nose and my black bobbleless bobbler above it, my eyes were about the only part of my person that were still refracting what little light there was around.

I didn’t know what had caused the power cut then. The electric supply to the village was temperamental at the best of times – the slightest seasonal variation seemed to lead to power outages that could last weeks. Strong winds, heavy rain, thunder storms, snow, they’d all plunged the area into darkness in the past. But, heavy clouds aside, nothing out of the ordinary had happened weather wise that day. Looking down the valley where the village sat you could normally see the lights of the nearest town and the city beyond it glaring up into the sky, polluting it with their halogens. But not that night. Even they had seemingly been plunged into darkness, leaving me walking the street in the darkest of nights.

I had been on my way home when the lights went out. The village basically only had one street running its length, with occasional closes and avenues running from it. The bus from the city (on those occasions that it turned up) dropped you at one end of the street. My home was at the other, leaving me a three quarter of a mile walk to get there. It wasn’t something I particularly minded, the price I had to pay for my wanting to work that far away from home and my refusal to learn how to drive. The bus had pulled back onto the main road, chugging off into the distance and I’d gone about thirty paces when the darkness descended. I say descended, it was more like someone had just flicked a switch and everything went off. Click. Nothing.

At first I just kept walking. It’s not as if I didn’t know the way having lived there all my life. The road was straight and being pretty much untroubled by traffic as it was I would normally stroll down the centre of it anyway. Power cuts were frequent enough that it wasn’t even the first time I’d had to do it in the dark, though never a blackness as pitch as that night. It felt as though my eyes adapted to it as I kept walking. Shapes and outlines of parked cars and buildings came to me as I went, though at times it was hard to say if they were actually what I was seeing or memories of where things should have been flashing onto my vision like the after image of the sun when you’ve accidentally glanced up at it. Only the occasional flickers from the windows in the street gave me a grounding as to where I really was, though could they not have been hallucinations of a sort? I don’t believe so, no.

I was maybe a quarter of a mile into my walk when I noticed another peculiar element. There seemed to be no sound except for my own footsteps. I stopped walking for a moment to see if I was right, and indeed, no sound broached my ear. I turned around to look back up the street. From where I must have been you can nearly see the main road, or at least the lights from the fairly heavy traffic that still used it at even that time of night. But again, nothing. No lights from the cars, no hum of rubber on tarmac. I cleared my throat to check my ears were still working. As far as I could tell they were working perfectly. It was more than a little strange.

I started walking again, quickening my pace slightly. Although these were safe environs to me, everything felt wrong in the all consuming blackness. I took out my phone to check the time, but found that pressing the buttons elicited no activity from it. The battery had been nearly dead when I was leaving work, so it should have come as no surprise to me, yet it did nothing to spare me from a creeping dread that was coming upon me. On I went, looking around me as I went, catching glimpses of an occasional flicker of flame, a hint of something that may have been torchlight, but nothing more than that. I considered stopping at a friend’s house, just to see if they realised how weird things were out there. The thought was fleeting as I realised that everyone I had grown up in the village with had long since made their escapes to pastures new. I was the only person from my year at school still living there. All that was left for me now were friends or acquaintances of my parents and they steered clear of me after they passed on. No, my only option was getting back to the safety of my own home, a place that I knew every facet of in both the dark and the light.

I must have walked almost half a mile when I stopped and looked over my shoulder again. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, perhaps I was trying to find my bearings, but do it I did. There at the other end of the street was a faint, glimmering light. I paused for a moment, watching it apparently hovering in the distance. I craned my ear to see if there was any sound accompanying it, but now all I could hear was the sound of my own heart pumping to compensate for my quickened pace. I watched for a few moments before I realised it seemed to be moving towards me. This really unnerved me so I doubled my walking speed again, not quite running, but still not breaking into a jog at that point. I had barely a quarter of a mile to go. On a normal night I would have been able to see my front door from where I was. Two minutes walk, maybe three.

When I looked over my shoulder again I began to jog. It had crossed my mind that the light may have just been someone who’d left their house to come and see what the night sky looked like, but this glance showed me that was clearly not the case. On my first look it had been flickering at the top of the road. Already it was nearly half way down. I could still hear no sounds other than the ones I was making, the pumping blood now joined by my breaths becoming heavier and heavier. I wasn’t the fittest person in the world back then, I must admit. I began jogging away from the light, trying to make out the shapes in front of me more clearly, trying to work out exactly how far I had to go. By this point I was pretty disorientated and had lost track of exactly how far I had come. I could detect that there were still buildings on either side of the road, but had no idea how far to go before the turning for my own abode.

Fortune smiled on me in the form of a break in the clouds. Not a shard of shining moonlight or anything, but as I was darting a look to my right the heavens parted and displayed a handful of stars that had been hidden up until that point. They were low in the sky and vanished two steps later. I skidded to a halt and saw that they had vanished. Taking two steps back, they reappeared once more. The road I lived on was the only gap in the terraces at that end of the street. This had to be my turning. I looked back up the street and saw the light flickering ever closer. It couldn’t have been more than a hundred feet away by that point.

I ran. Sprinting down the middle of the street, I knew I still had a couple of hundred feet to go. As I ran, the buildings to either side of me began to become more and more illuminated. I peeped over my shoulder and saw that the light had turned after me and was getting closer and closer. I ran faster than I ever had in all my born days, but still it came nearer and nearer until it was upon me. A sudden shooting pain hit my spine and I found myself crashing to the floor. Something else fell upon me and I found myself screaming in what I perceived to be agony. My perceptions were all over the place by then, so it took the reintroduction of light to make me realise my mistake. For it was as I hit the ground that the lights came back on.

Having only been off a short time, they flashed straight back to their full wattage rather than taking time to warm up, so at first I was dazzled by the brightness. As my vision came back to me, my screaming subsided as it became all too obvious that I hadn’t been attacked by the malevolent spirit I thought I had been. In front of me in an even more crumpled heap laid Old Seth who lived two doors down from me. Next to him, its back wheel still spinning, lay his bicycle. My melodramatic foolishness struck me immediately and though I considered fleeing to my door and pretending not to have been out there, it seemed that swallowing my pride and helping the old guy home would be the right thing to do.

He had kept that bike in immaculate condition, always keeping it well oiled and thereby silent to a slightly overweight running man. The dynamo he had fitted to it didn’t provide enough light to properly illuminate a man wearing nothing but black, running in the middle of the road on the darkest night in the world. Neither of us had anything worse than a couple of bruises and we both saw the funnier sides when I’d got him back to his house. I bade him good night and made for my own bed, happy to be able to see again.

Woooo! M R James eat your cock off! Well that was fairly weak wasn’t it. The twist might not be quite as glaringly obvious as I’d remembered it being, but it’s hardly terrifying. Man hit by old duffer on bicycle in the dark. I think I was attempting an eerie atmosphere, but fail to pull it off using only darkness, a ‘mysterious’ light and some pretty weak prose. I am pleased to have used the phrase ‘bobbleless bobbler’, which refers to any woolen hat that doesn’t have a bobble attached at it’s apex and I seem to recall being coined by my old chum Toylor a decade and a half ago. Power cuts were fairly regular in the village I grew up in, so again I appear to be trying to write about something I have first hand experience of. Must stop doing that as it is inevitably quite shit. I have a vague recollection that I was going to attempt some sort of slow reveal that the narrator had killed his parents, hence the vague mention of them passing away, though I forget if it was by accident or foul play. Now we shall never know for sure, though it was probably foul. Where’s the fun in accidental death?

Only three scenes remain, none of them completed following my bout of poorliness three hundred and fifty days ago. I’ll stick them up in the next day or two for your attention and/or scorn.

Last Year’s Failure Part Two

October 25th, 2010 by Alastair

Part One’s just under this, should you need an explanation. It’s late already, let’s just get down to this.

“I think she’s been cheating on me.”

“Who?”

“Carmen.”

“Who?”

“Carmen.”

“Who is Carmen?”

“You know, Carmen.”

“I don’t know any Carmens.”

“You must do. You know, Car-”

“Carmen, yes. No. No I don’t know anyone called Carmen.”

“You must.”

“Honestly, it’s not something I’d lie about. I know a number of women, many of whom I know the names of. Carmen is unusual enough a name that I’d like to think I would remember her.”

“Haven’t I mentioned her before?”

“I refer you to my previous statement. If you had mentioned a Carmen before, again I’m pretty certain it would have stuck out in my memory as being an unusual name at the very least. It might have come up if we’d ever been discussing opera, but as far as I can recall we have never once had an opera based conversation, so I’m going to have to stick with my answer of no, I’ve never heard of any Carmens who you might have been associating with, let alone going out with.”

“Oh, we’re not going out.”

“What, so you’ve split up because she’s been playing away from home?”

“What?”

“What?”

“‘Playing away from home?’”

“What’s wrong with ‘playing away from home’? I’m allowed to use the vernacular if I want to, aren’t I?”

“I suppose.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s just a little unusual, that’s all.”

“Unusual or not, it’s beside the point. You’ve split up because of her infidelities, yes?”

“Oh no, we were never going out.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Yeah, me too.”

“No, no, I mean, I mean, how can she have been cheating on you if you were never in a relationship?”

“I keep seeing her around with this other guy.”

“Right. That doesn’t seem to really answer my question does it?”

“He’s always giving her presents, buying her dinner, kissing her.”

“Are you stalking her?”

“What? No, of course not.”

“Then how do you actually know these details about her (apparently not so) private life?”

“Well, she lives next door.”

“Oh, I see. So what you’re actually saying is that you’ve become infatuated with your neighbour. Am I near to the mark here?”

“It’s not just an infatuation! It’s not. We really had something going.”

“Really? What did she have to say about this then?”

“Well, she didn’t so much say it…”

“Well, what did she have to say? You have at least approached her I presume.”

“We have this sort of understanding. Well, had.”

“Understanding? What sort of understanding? You have spoken to her haven’t you?”

“Not as such, no, but-”

“You’ve not even spoken to her? And you feel that she’s committing some carnal sin by having a fiancée?”

“So you do know?”

“What?”

“That he proposed! The slimy shite.”

“Again, this is all completely new information to me. I used the word fiancée off the top of my head. I had no knowledge of the woman’s existence until three minutes ago. Her marital status only came to light a few seconds ago.”

“I’m going to have to do something aren’t I?”

“Like what? Talk to her?”

“Well, that would probably be a good start, yes, but I wasn’t planning on coming on that strongly at first.”

“Coming on… What actual communication have you had with this semi-mythical beast?”

“We smile at each other over the garden wall.”

“Yes, and?”

“I some times smile and wave if I’m passing her door when she’s coming out.”

“And how often has that happened?”

“Once or twice…”

“Is that all?”

“A day.”

“You’re standing outside her door regularly enough that you can smile and wave at her twice a day! That’s stalking!”

“No it’s not!”

“Clearly it is! I don’t have a dictionary to hand, but I’m pretty sure that hanging around outside someone’s house most hours of the day would come up at some point in the definition.”

“I’m not hanging around there all day!”

“I didn’t say that. How come you happen to be outside when she’s going out or coming in?”

“I’m often working on the garden…”

“You don’t have a front garden! Those three feet of paving do not need constant servicing to maintain their up keep.”

“They do get a bit weedy.”

“You don’t think she might find it a bit odd finding you next to her front porch every morning and evening, ripping up weeds with your bare hands?

“How do you know I don’t have any tools?”

“I’ve known you for twenty-five years. I know you don’t have any tools.”

“Okay. Fair point. You’ve got me there.”

“So will you concede that you’re stalking her?”

“No. No I’m not. Maybe a little bit. But we’ve got a good thing going on.”

“A good thing? How on Earth did you come to that conclusion?”

“She always smiles back. That’s got to account for something hasn’t it?”

“The fact that she engages in the simplest of pleasantries with the man permanently sitting outside her front door shows her to either be a pleasant, decent human being or someone living in mortal terror that her next door neighbour might stab her at any minute. The fact that you don’t have any tools is probably one of the few mitigating factors that hasn’t led to her calling the police yet.”

“I’m not permanently sitting out there. I have a routine.”

“What?”

“Well, more to the point, she has a routine.”

“Christ! It gets worse. You’ve spent enough time studying this poor woman to know when she’ll be leaving and getting back to her house. Don’t you see anything wrong with this situation?”

“Hey, I don’t see her everyday! There were two afternoons last week when she was late getting back from the gym where I completely missed her.”

“Oh brilliant. And how long were you ‘weeding’ before you went back indoors?”

“Not sure.”

“A rough estimate, that’s all I ask.”

“Don’t know. Half an hour maybe?”

“And the rest.”

“It can’t have been much more than, oh I don’t know, forty-eight minutes?”

“Really? That seems like a wholly normal amount of time to wait to smirk at a stranger to you does it?”

“She’s not a stranger!”

“Nothing you have said to me this evening implies to me that she is anything more than a stranger to you. I suppose you’d followed her to the gym at some point.”

“No, that was simple deduction on my part.”

“Pardon?”

“When she leaves for work on Wednesdays she always has an extra kit bag and when she comes home she’s either just washed her hair or seems a lot sweatier than usual.”

“Maybe that’s her fiancée making her sweaty.”

“Oh you can fuck right off! This is the woman I love!”

“No, this is a woman you have spent far too much time obsessing over and have formed some unholy attachment to which could only lead to inevitable frustrated disappointment. Which it appears it now has.”

“No. You’re wrong. There has to be something I can do.”

“Move?”

“Sod off.”

“Form an unsavoury longing for the neighbour on the other side?”

“Mrs. Higgins? She’s pushing eighty-five at least”

“Widower is she?”

“Yes.”

“Well at least you stand a chance there, eh?”

“Oh be serious.”

“She probably doesn’t have any teeth. Could gum away on you until the wee small hours.”

“You’re sick.”

“Hello Mr. Kettle. You are looking awfully dark today.”

“Oh, just shut up will you.”

“As soon as you tell me you’re not going to try and pursue this poor woman any further.”

“What? No way! I’ve got to do something.”

“Something that will make her realise that the pair of you are soul mates and are meant to be together?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“Something like that which still doesn’t involve the pair of you actually having a conversation.”

“Surely that would follow on naturally. After I’d made my grand love gesture.”

“Do you not think it would be better to get that out of the way first? What if she doesn’t speak English? What if she has a really annoying voice?”

“Admittedly, the shrieking I hear through the wall are a bit annoying.”

“The shrieking?”

“Yeah, but I can never quite tell if it’s him or her.”

“Oh for the love of . . . You’ve been listening to them rut?”

“Accidentally at first. But we do have very thin walls. It isn’t my fault.”

“Hang on, hang on. Am I correct in saying that all the houses on your road have the same layout?”

“As far as I know, yes.”

“That means to listen to them at it in the bedroom you have to be in your spare room, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“I’ve stayed in that room on more occasions than I care to remember and I’ve never heard a peep out of them.”

“Well you wouldn’t if you were in the bed.”

“Oh God.”

“No, you have to get right up close to the far wall before you can really appreciate how thin the walls are.”

“Oh God.”

“What?”

“In your spare room.”

“What’s in it?”

“That sock you said you’d over starched.”

“Ah.”

“It wasn’t starch was it?”

“Strictly speaking, no. Not really. It was something starchy.”

“The morning after night of the storm. When I stayed over.”

“Look, I’m sorry-”

“The day after my feet got soaked and you offered me dry clothes.”

“I’d just done a wash the day before and everything was still-”

“You let me leave a house with a foot covered in your old semen.”

“It was only one foot.”

“I had an interview that morning! Jesus.”

“Sorry. I really didn’t have any other spare socks and you must admit that they were drier than your pair. Weren’t they?”

“The fact that you have to ask is making me feel nauseous. Oh God. Was there any chance that they, that it might have still been, God, wet?”

“Slim at best. I had left it on the radiator all day.”

“For fuck’s sake! Why would you do that?”

“Because your socks were wet.”

“Not why would you lend me your socks! What in the name of cluster fucking Norah would make you sit, wanking into a sock, listening to your neighbours shagging?”

“Well, love makes you do funny things, doesn’t it.”

“Funny things? Love? What you’re doing is frankly certifiable.”

“Not at all, not at all. Once she realises we were meant to be and I’m making her do the shrieking, then you’ll see that I’ve been right all along.”

“And what grand, silent gesture are you going to make to this shrieking slash mute beauty who doesn’t even know your name.”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Marvellous.

“But when I do know, then you’ll know.”

“Though presumably she won’t.”

“Oh ye of little faith.”

“Oh ye of wanky socks and stalking. Please, I’m begging you don’t do anything.”

“We shall see, we shall see.”

“Walt, please.”

“We shall see.”

“If you say ‘We shall see’ once more I’ll-”

“Do you mind,” said a man with a wide head. He was sitting in the row in front of us. “We’re trying to watch the fucking film, alright?”

That was the moment I knew I had to see less of Walt.

There are a few things I quite liked about that. Doing a whole scene using almost only dialogue was quite fun, but in terms of trying to make up your 50,000 words, it’s a mugs game. You’ve got through five pages and think your doing spectacularly, but in reality it’s barely two thousand words. Reading it back a year later, it has a vague hint of Simon Nye to it, though descends into deeper levels of filth than he ever plumbed. ‘Wank sock’ was to some degree stolen from a column I wrote for a local music magazine, which was in turn stolen from the book The Days Go By Like Broken Records  by Jeff LeVine. Use of ’sod’ again intrigues me, as it isn’t a word I use that regularly in general conversation or that often while writing as far as I’m aware. ‘Rutting’ and thin walls are entirely autobiographical as regular readers or anyone who had a conversation with me about four years ago will be well aware. I’m slightly disappointed by the levels of filth it does descend into, though it does remain vaguely amusing. I’m also slightly sad that I whipped out the punchline at the end of the scene. I reckon I could have got a couple more pure dialogue scenes out of the characters before pulling the cinema reveal. Ah well, it’s better that it’s there than me having to explain it now. Tune in next time for a scene that’s slightly better than the first, but not up to the level of this one and demonstrates how poor I am at setting scenes. Toodles.

Last Year’s Failure Part One

October 24th, 2010 by Alastair

As November looms into view once more, I begin to contemplate spending those thirty days attempting to wrangle 50,000 words into some sort of literary order. Yes, it’s time for me to consider endlessly bleating about NaNoWriMo again. In celebration of that imminent month of despair (and mainly because I couldn’t really think of anything else to post about today), I’m posting up the first scene from my attempt last year. Regular readers might recall that I bailed after a week and a bit due to poor physical (and mental) health. Having had a check, I only managed six scenes, none of which I’ve read in a year. Shall we see if any of them were any good? The opening starts like this:

“Mummies?”

“Absolutely.”

“The next big thing?”

“Sure.” Jeff took a deep drag on his poorly rolled, twisted cigarette and exhaled through a stifled cough. “Sexy, teen, Mummies.”

Craig grimaced slightly. “How’s that going to work then?”

“Uh?” asked Jeff through a puff and a snort.

“Mummies. There’s not much sexy about them, is there?

Jeff pondered this for a second before leaping back to the idea’s defence. “Not sexy per se, no, but you’re not looking at the bigger picture.” He pointed back down at the graph he had drawn. “These things go in cycles. Always have done. Always will and always in the same order. The graph doesn’t lie.” He tried to take one final pull from the roll up, but burnt his lips before he could even consider inhaling. He tossed the smouldering cylinder over his shoulder in as casual a manner as one with burnt lips can.

“No, okay, I can see what the graph says,” Craig sighed, “but I don’t know about this whole ‘sexy’ Mummy thing.” He gave Jeff a hard look, expecting a response. Jeff appeared to be more interested in rubbing his lips than speaking, so Craig continued. “I can just about see how the others can be a bit sexy, but who finds a nineteen year old in bandages arousing?”

“Well –”

“No, don’t answer that,” Craig raised the palm of his hand. “If you’ve tried Market Researching bandage fetishists, this conversation and our association is at an end.”

“No, no, nothing like that,” Jeff lied. “If I’m perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure how we’re going to do the sexing up yet. Like I said, we’re still in the ‘ideas’ phase,” he grinned, creating the inverted commas with his fingers, causing Craig to grimace mildly. “Though I will make a note of the nineteen year old bandages thing, that could work.” He started scribbling under his graph with a well chewed pencil.

“I’m really not sure people will go for it though,” Craig sighed.

“Look,” Jeff stated, stopping his scribbling. “The graph doesn’t lie. It always follows the same pattern. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, Mummies. Every time since records began.”

“When did records begin Jeff?”

“Fuck off. That’s not important.” Jeff was becoming quite heated with the idea of his concept being pooh-poohed. “What is important is that we’re just coming to the apex of another vampire period. Some other sod’s almost certainly already ahead of the game on us and has got some sort of big werewolf project on the go, so if we want to get in there when that bubble bursts, we’ve got to act now!”

Craig sighed. “Okay, okay, I see that. I even quite like it. I still don’t understand why the Mummies have to be sexy.”

“No?” Jeff was genuinely shocked

“No.” Craig was genuinely exasperated.

“Well the last two movements have both been pretty sexy, haven’t they?” he said matter of factly.

“Have they?”

“Well this current vampire vogue’s pretty sexy, isn’t it?”

“Isn’t that point with vampires though? The ‘nearly kissing but biting you instead’ thing,” Craig did not make the sign for inverted commas. “That’s always kind of sexy isn’t it?”

“Yeah, a bit, but-”

“The whole ‘living together for eternity’, the ‘doing it all for the life long companionship’ bit?” Craig’s hands remained immobile. “Don’t tell me that’s not there to leave sopping gussets all over the world.”

“Course it is, course,” grinned Jeff, believing his associate was catching on. “And hasn’t that really been ramped up over the past few years, yeah? Sexier, sexier and sexier?” He half considered grabbing his crotch for effect, but thought the better of it.

“I suppose so,” Craig drew out the words. “But that’s just down to the more permissive society, isn’t it. Show, don’t tell, all that palaver.”

“Doesn’t matter why it’s happening, does it?” said Jeff gleefully. “Fact is that it’s happening. Look at the other graph.” He grew a tatty scrap of squared paper from his back pocket and waved it under Craig’s nose. It had another poorly drawn graph on it. The y axis had the word ‘time’ written beneath it, whereas the x had ‘sexy’ written next to it. The line drawn from the intersection of both axes was at a fairly constant forty-five degrees. Craig looked back at Jeff who was grinning like he had a coat hanger in his mouth.

“What exactly are you quantifiable levels of ‘sexiness’ on here?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Doesn’t matter, the graph doesn’t lie,” enthused Jeff through his rictus.

“Which sexy scale did you use?” Craig chuckled. “Is it metric or, heh, imperial,” he gestured lasciviously.

“Laugh all you like, cock weevil,” Jeff sneer smirked. “The ideas behind the data are perfectly sound and that’s all that matters.”

“Fine, fine,” laughed Craig, passing the paper back, but unable to make eye contact. “So things have gotten empirically ‘sexier’ since the beginning of these records you claim to exist, yes?”

“Correct,” Jeff said, carefully folding up his graph.

“And the last era of the vampire has been the sexiest yet?”
“I think that’s plain to see.”

“So what about the zombies then?

“What? What about them?”

Craig drew his attention to the first graph. “Zombies always come before vampires in the sequence, yeah?”

“Always, yes,” Jeff stated confidently.

“So you’re saying that last period of zombie activity was the sexiest ever?”

“Hell yeah!”

“Sexy zombies?” Craig’s eyebrow went up again.

“Well, yeah. What are you, some sort of Joey?” Jeff stuck his tongue between his lower lip and his teeth, while lightly slapping his own face. “During the last zombie boom, they were all far more scantily clad, faster moving so they, you know, ‘bounced’, and, oh I don’t know. Loads of reasons. Hang on, I’ve got some pictures on my phone.” He started rummaging in the pockets of his parka.

“No, I really don’t need to see those again,” said Craig, shuddering slightly at the memory of the last time he’d been forced to wonder what Jeff did while looking at said photo’s. “I believe you, I believe you.”

“Okay,” said Jeff, slightly disappointed at curtailing his search. “So you see what we’ve got to do?”

Craig scratched his head. “Not really, no. You were getting to that part when you took the graph out.”

“Oh right, course.” He drew closer and his eyes seemed to sparkle. “We’ve got to create the sexiest Mummy tale imaginable and sell it to the highest bidder!”

“Riiight.”

“Exactly! It’s that simple!”

Craig sighed again and drew back from the conspiratorial huddle, partly because he didn’t like huddling conspiratorially, though mainly because it smelt like Jeff had been eating dog shit. “It’s a lovely idea Jeff, really it is.”

“Isn’t it though,” Jeff squirmed with glee.

“Only a couple of problems I can foresee though.”

“What?” Jeff’s face fell as his squirming slowed.

“Firstly there’s the fact that neither of us have ever even tried to write anything before. The chances of us hitting on a saleable story on our first attempt, seems pretty unlikely, doesn’t it?”

“But if we try really hard-”

“Then there’s the fact we don’t have the first idea who or how we can sell it to anyone that might want it.”

“We can learn! Get agents and-”

“The mere fact that neither of us really know what a sexy Mummy even is puts us at some sort of a disadvantage doesn’t it?”

“Well, I suppose, yeah, but…” Jeff trailed off.

“I just don’t think we’ll be able to do anything with it Jeff.”

Jeff sat, silently crest fallen.

“Sorry mate,” said Craig, lightly dusting his shoulder with his hand in a manly way.

“Nah, it’s alright,” said Jeff quietly. “Just thought it was a good idea, that’s all.” He started rolling himself another cigarette. The pair sat silently for a while.

“Alright lads?” a familiar voice bellowed behind Craig. He turned to see the massive lumbering form of Pete waddling towards them.

“Hiya Pete. How’s tricks?”

Pete took a seat between the pair. “Not so bad, not so bad. Yourselves?”

“Aye, we’re alright mate,” said Craig. Jeff nodded a forced grin at the big fat man.

“Cheer up, you pair of wank monkeys,” giggled Pete through his gums. “Things could be a lot worse.”

“True enough,” said Jeff, wistfully lighting his poorly constructed cigarette.

“And things are going to get a lot more interesting round here, you know?” Pete grinned.

“How so?” asked Craig.

“You’ve not heard the news?” asked Pete. The pair shook their heads causing Pete to emit a booming single laugh that nearly perforated their eardrums. “It’s in the paper.” Pete wriggled a copy of the local newspaper from between his buttocks and the belt holding his jeans up. He slapped it down on the table and jabbed a stubby finger at the head line. “There, see. They’re gonna be filming it down in the woods.”

Craig and Jeff craned their necks round to see the front page. A photograph of a nubile young woman in skimpy attire graced its cover. Both of them recognised her face from a risqué drama series she had appeared in on television – not so much starred in, but she had apparently been more willing to expose more of herself than the rest of the cast. Above her photograph was the headline.

‘WEREWOLF IN THE WOODS’

Craig and Jeff looked up at one another.

“I’ll start a spreadsheet,” said Craig. “You get your crayons out and draw me some yummy Mummies.”

“Will do!” said Jeff, leaping to his feet and saluting.

The pair dashed off in different directions, towards their respective domiciles, leaving Pete alone, confused, but content.

Christ, that wasn’t very good was it. If memory serves me correctly, the idea of an ordered cycle of horror films stemmed from an actual conversation I had with Rob (Uber). In fairness to me, I seem to recall reading that there had been a couple of werewolf films released in the past year, so maybe I had some sort of point. Then again, I don’t follow cinema that much these days, so I might have dreamt the whole thing.

I fear that my motivation for kicking off with this was following the old maxim of “Writing about what you know.” Choosing something relatively geeky seemed like a ploy that would merit instant gold, but really it doesn’t seem to have. I suppose that might come down to the fact that I have all of this shit in my head, but none of my friends are remotely interested in it. Thus I have very little frame of reference for geeky conversations. I’m just making excuses now. Basically I’m saying that I’m not that pleased with the set up or the dialogue. It’s also the old cliche of writers writing about writers, though to call either myself or them writers seems rather over generous.

There are some half decent lines – I’ve always been oddly pleased with ‘cock weevil’ as an insult – but the bad out weigh them – ‘wank monkey’ is particularly poor, though might have been to emphasise the more guttural nature of that character (though I doubt it). The presence of both ‘gussett’ and ‘pallaver’ is mildly pleasing to my mind and my mind alone.

Graphs explaining things that should not be explained with graphs is always something I’ve found amusing ever since I first started stealing lines off of Bill Hicks. So yeah, thinking about it, that parts plagiarised to some small extent.

I quite liked the slow reveal as to who these people are. They could be from almost anywhere in the English speaking world until the use of the word ’sod’ gives us some inkling before ‘Joey’ pins them down to a nation and a generation. I’m fairly certain I was trying to make them unlikable characters and I’d say I achieved that to some degree. Just unlikable characters I’d have no interest in learning more about.

The bit at the end with the newspaper is fucking awful and I should be ashamed to have ever typed it. I wasn’t having a good time those scant twelve months ago. The good news is that I seem to remember the next scene being half decent. Will let you have a look at it in a day or two.

Carla Lane’s staple (5)

October 22nd, 2010 by Alastair

I currently have two identical wounds on left forefinger.
Both were inflicted by knives.
I’m going to have to start leaving that last wafer thin slice of bread on the crust aren’t I.

Discovery

October 18th, 2010 by Alastair

I was going through an old bag of tat following my recent relocation when I found this. The bag had been sat at the end of my bed, pretty much unmoved for two years. Certainly not investigated. Also at the end of the bed was a large bay window. With the bags of tat situated beneath it, there was inevitably a large area of damp that set up home shortly after I did. Being as I slept with my head in the middle of the room (too bright at the other end. No, seriously) and never needed much from the bags of tat, I left the damp to its own devices, up until my moving out, when I mercilessly culled it in the vague hope of financial recompense.

Having finally decided to destroy some of the tat, having moved approximately three times with most of it and having not looked in most of the bags during those four or more years, the beckoning of the bin finally won over my hording complex. And, as I mentioned what seems like an age ago, that’s when I found the piece of detritus reproduced below. They are passport photo’s of me. I’m not 100% certain for what purpose they were taken, but it was obviously a fair few years ago as you can just make out one lens of my big paedo glasses in the bottom picture. The photo’s not on my driving licence or passport, so I would guess it was for my Euro 26 rail card. That was put up behind a bar I no longer frequent, so has long been out of my possession, but that would make the image of me be around 24 or 25 years of age. Enough waffle, here it is.

I particularly like the way the damp has effected the middle image, the peculiar fading into green particularly. The top one seems to have benifitted from four or five years of dust adhering to it too. The bottom one is my least favourite, mainly because it’s possible to make out some of my features. That one is as white as it is because this strip was stuck to the left over photographs taken for my driving licence. Might give you a look at those soon if you’re interested. They’re not as well distorted, but they do feature more amusing hair.

Sudjeschun

October 11th, 2010 by Alastair

Bit caught up with healing and working on another project at the minute, but thought I might direct you to something I read recently. It’s hard to describe, so I’m not going to attempt to, though I think some of the comparisons to Billy Burroughs are pretty well founded. I read it at work, though I’d strongly advise you not to, unless you are certain that no one is looking over your shoulder.

Ladies and gentlemen, Josh Simmons’ Cockbone.

Enjoy. Well, enjoy the feelings of bafflement and repulsion as best you can. I did.

Damaged

October 9th, 2010 by Alastair

I was five years old when I fractured my arm, after Chris Hiles pulled me off a log, just as I’d asked him to do (you’ve all heard the story, let’s not go into it again).

In the intervening twenty-eight years, my memory of what that felt like has mainly faded.

Possibly until today.

It was early evening last night, no later than seven o’clock. I was inevitably attending a leaving do for someone I’d vaguely interacted with at work. This took place in a pub I was fairly unfamiliar with. The floor was on two levels. The table around which we sat was next to the two steps that led down to the lower level. I was one of the last to arrive, so a chair was found for me and I sat with a slightly manky pint. As there wasn’t really room for all of us around the table, I was slightly off to the side of the table, almost blocking the walkway. And the stairs.

I was about half way through my first drink of the night when someone at the other side of the table rose to go to the bar or the loo, I can’t really remember which. It’s not really important, okay? To aid their passage, I moved my chair back slightly, as I had already done a couple of times previously. Unfortunately on this occasion I didn’t check behind me to see where my chair legs were.

The sensation of uncontrollably falling backwards isn’t one that I’m especially familiar with. If it wasn’t for what followed, I might actually recommend it. The surprise I felt as the table vanished from my line of sight and was replaced rapidly by the ceiling was actually quite exhilarating. I was probably at about a forty-five degree angle when it dawned on me that I was falling and that it was down to my poor chair leg positioning. I would imagine that it was at this point that my instincts began to kick in and my body decided that it ought to do something to minimise the damage. I don’t recall my left arm shooting out, but it must have started to at about this point.

The impact came in two stages. The first was presumably when the chair legs went at ninety degrees to one of the steps. In the split-second after I felt that, I seem to recall thinking ‘Ooh, I thought that was going to be a lot worse’, though probably not in those exact words. There wouldn’t have been time, as after the split-second had elapsed, the back of the chair landed on the lower level with a distinct thud. Mercifully the back of the chair was quite thick and had my jacket draped over it. Had it been much thinner then I imagine that my head would have bounced off the polished wood floor I now found myself sprawled over. I was thankfully spared that injury, but was still mildly shocked by the full body jolt I experienced. It was at this point that I think the full weight of the chair and my body were transferred onto the palm of my left hand.

The pub went very quiet rather suddenly. I could feel many eyes upon me as I lay on my back, legs rigidly pointing skyward. Looking up at them I was pleased by the amusing aesthetic choice they had taken. I broke the quietitude by saying “Well, that was fun,” in a low deadpan that pleasingly got a chuckle from a stranger at a nearby table I’d fallen near the feet of. I got to my feet unaided, my work mates asking after my well being and me telling them that I was fine. That I’d jarred my arm, but would be absolutely fine. That was, after all, how I felt at the time. I repositioned my chair away from the steps and went back to my off booze.

After the initial adrenaline high, most of my body returned to its normal state. Except for my left arm. The pain there was worsening. Not constant pain, but becoming harder to use with out some minor agony shooting up from my hand. This continued throughout the evening, through the next pub I popped into, through the late night shopping, through the cycling home, up until the point I went to bed. This morning the pain endures. It’s far from agonising, and I’m typing this using both hands, so it’s far from written it off. I have discovered that it’s quite tricky to cut bread and carrying anything much heavier than a full pint glass isn’t really going to happen. There is no obvious swelling though, nor any sign of bruising, so having done some internet health searching, it doesn’t really sound as if it is actually broken. More likely to be a sprain. So why the melodramatic opening to this post? Well I’ve got to hook you in somehow, haven’t I?

The Name Drain

October 3rd, 2010 by Alastair

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past few months calling a friend’s father Pete.

This would be fine were it his name.

It isn’t.

His name’s Ian.

I forget exactly what it was that called this fact to my attention, though thankfully it wasn’t him pinning me down and repeatedly shouting “Ian Ian Ian!” in my face. I’m not iantirely sure he even noticed (I rather hope he didn’t), but I still feel bad about my repeanted errors. It’s not as if I’d only met him recently – I’ve known the man for close to a decade now. At first I didn’t recall his actual name on every occasian we iancountered one ianother, but would cover that up with nonspecific modes of address – ‘you’, ’sir’, etc. Once I had got it ianto my head though, it stayed there. Yet my accidental renaming only reared its head withian the past six months. I can’t pin it down to an exact time, but when I realised my error it felt as if it had bian going on for a lifetime.

While dwelling on this social faux pas, as is often my want, it dawned on me.

There was actually a reason why I was doing it.

It was all down to wife confusian.

Ian is married to a lovely lady named Cathy. Coincidentally* this is also the name of my sister ian law’s mother. That particular Cathy’s husband is named Pete. It would appear that I can only remember the names of couples a generation or two to my senior in their partnered pairings. With ladies coming first, obviously, because I’m a gentlemian if nothing else. What seems to have occurred is that ‘Ian’ must have slipped out of my memory at some point, the name databanks being pretty much full at the moment (frustratingly they mainly consist of people from school I have no contact with and ianconsequential comics credits – Pamela Rambo used to colour Preacher you know?). At some point following that loss, I must have had some exposure to my friend’s mother being a ‘Cathy’, at which point the streams crossed, leaving their horrible consequences for all to see (and hopefully only me to notice).

Is there a solution to any of this then? Well, as mentioned, I have no iandication that he noticed my multiple inaccuracies, so an apology is hopefully unnecessary. But how to stop it happening again? Stop associating couples with one another? Seeing them as individuals rather than composite gestalt entities? Not as succubi attached to one anothers backs, slowly consuming one another from within? But that’s how I see all couples. It’s not going to change any time soon.

Sigh.

I’m so alone.

Footnote – The multiple unsubtle crowbarring of extra ‘Ians’ into this post serve two purposes. One is the vague hope that continually typing it will reinforce it as a name in my mind. The other is as an even less subtle tribute/rip off to/of the Ian News feature that appeared in all but the first episode of Lee & Herring’s Radio One Shows. They’re at the start of the second part of each episode, should anyone be interested, but the whole things are quite amusing and are recommended for your listening pleasures.

* I realise this is actually about as far away from being a coincidence as is humanly possible, what with the number of Catherines extant in the world today, but the sentence flows better with it there I think. Supply better words if you wish, but they will be ignored.

Is this thing still on?

October 2nd, 2010 by Alastair

One two, one two.

Yes, yes it is.

It’s been a while hasn’t it, for which I can only apologise. The past couple of months have been filled with changes around Weakened Towers. Most good, some vexing, a couple unpleasant, but I can’t honestly claim that all of them have caused everything going quiet round these parts. I moved house about a month ago, into a building that is still yet to have any working internet connections. This is mildly frustrating, should be resolved within the week and has contributed significantly to my diminished online presence. That’s one of the reasons for the past month, the stresses of having nowhere to go for a fair amount of the preceding month (though I had an inkling the move was going to be forced upon me, it was confirmed fairly late in the day) combined with the move itself is what precluded much posting throughout August. There was a fair amount of peculiar stuff going around my head regarding what I could vaguely describe as a failed relationship, though that probably gives it more status than it ever deserved, yet still it preyed upon my mind. That’s pretty much resolved, brainwise, freeing up the space usually used to concoct this drivel. Which I suppose is a good thing. I have also been throwing myself repeatedly into the arms of the lovely lady liquor slightly more heavily than usual over the past few months. Once new house is properly sorted I hope to be calming that down a little (though the results of that plan are yet to be seen).

So that’s the basic outline of my pathetic excuses. I’ll fill in further details on some of them over the next few days, if I can think of a remotely amusing way to do it. But before that, I should address a couple of items of interest that have occurred behind the scenes here.

Firstly a quick thanks to Antony from Pure Mint who commented on the post about one of their artist’s albums being name twinswith this very site. I’m mentioning it here again in the vague hope of getting free stuff. Hey, I used to review music, don’tcha know. Anyway, good luck to ‘em, hope the record does well in these fraught economic times and I shall commence work on a clubhouse when I’ve found an appropriate tree to construct it in.

It’s always nice to hear from new people, so I was happy to see a missive from one Matt Gallagher on the third For Your Consideration. I was especially pleased to see that he’d managed to find the names of the artists actually responsible for creating the magnificent Please Maestrofor which I am magnificently grateful. I won’t tell you here, you’ll have to follow the link, as Matt shows his working and everything. Colour me impressed, not to mention chuffed. Thanks again Matt, whoever you may be. When I finally get the house back again I might see if any more of his stuff’s available.

Did I explain the bit about houses? Ah well, it’ll keep.

See. I am not in Gitmo.