Golden Cap

I wrote this as one of many false starts that went before Not Your Heart Away last year. Not wanting to waste it I put this in for the Flash Fiction competition in the Bridport Literary Festival. I thought flash fiction was 500 words. That was tight. Once I’d written it I found out they only wanted 250. I’ll try a haiku next time.

 

golden cap

 

Golden Cap

‘I was not acting alone and I’m not being scapegoated,’ she said firmly into her iPhone.

‘It’s the wind. No, I can’t hear you properly either. Dorset. Satnav. A35 and turn left. No. I’m not there. Don’t know. Is this some sort of interrogation, Gideon? Because so far as I’m aware I’m not actually employed by you, am I?’

On this beach against this grey sliver of tarmac the low car was next to invisible this late in the day. The driver’s door opened like lips parting and she got out and stretched the road out of her long legs.

Four o’clock this afternoon and the pub at the end of this track looked as if it would never open again. She could hear the wind humming against the flanks of the car as she stood looking back along the beach towards Weymouth.

‘Next to a big yellow cliff, a stream and a pub. Yes. Like every other bloody thing right now it’s closed for business. Oh funny. Yes. Ha ha. Well take that as a definite, so far as you’re concerned. No sweeting. I don’t ever threaten. I do. As you know. It’s quicker.’
A long line of grey cloud coming in from the sea brought the taste of salt cold on her lips as the late winter sun caught the top of the sandy cliff.

‘So to cut through all your crap, despite my being the most productive dealer on what you choose to call your trading floor, one little sniff of how our syndicate shorted sterling in the paper your Mummy reads and my secure door pass doesn’t work any more. And I haven’t got a desk as of now. Really.’

She slowly recognised this place. Grandpy fished off the beach here. Dad left here. She knew just a few bucket and spade and ice-lolly summers here but here after all she was, like a bad penny and just four hundred thousand good pounds in the account and this ludicrously beautiful car that would attract every screwdriver-blade and sharp object within a half-mile. The car would have to go. Along with everything else.

‘No, really that is too kind, Gideon.’ She bit the words out of the air as she walked along the track away from the car and the main road.

The last of the sun flared along the cliff like bullion, once, twice and then the cloud came.

‘That’s my own Dorset Golden Cap, is it? Too funny. One point two million. And you’re asking me if that’s ok?’

She stood still and took the mobile from her ear. Folded her arms around her in the sudden deeper chill. She began to walk again down the little road, out across the grey sand towards the flat sea.

‘No.’ She spoke the word out loud. ‘No. It isn’t my golden cap. And it isn’t ok. It never, never was.’

Share Button

Askimet Spam

Woke up early today and got the hammock out, slung between two apple trees in my sunny part of Suffolk while the hens pretended they weren’t interested in what I was doing. They’re wild, living in a tree and while you can’t touch them or pick them up without a net and preferably a supply of hard-to-come-by tranquiliser darts, they want to know what’s going on. Thinking about it, that’s probably how all wild animals survive.

I came back inside for a cup of tea at ten o’clock because I’m English and my tea levels were dropping perilously low. As any anthropologist knows, if an Englishman doesn’t maintain his tea balance then he’s in grave danger of becoming European, or worse. It isn’t a risk I can face lightly. Certainly not without tea.

Naturally, depressingly obviously, I checked my email and Facebook and this weeny website to see who thought my life would be better if I carried their advertising for red shoes and fake handbags free of charge. The good news – no comments to ‘moderate.’ The bad – the biggest haul of spam ever. 57 fake messages after installing Askimet compared to about sic per day beforehand. It can’t be anything to do with Askimet and I haven’t installed anything else, so obviously I’ve got onto some spam list somewhere.

But where? And still, as always, why? Does anyone ever respond to this badly spelled Russian translated through the Senegalese into school English? Ever?

Still, at least I don’t have to look at it. I’m reading a book John Fowles compared to HG Wells’s writing, A Dream Of Wessex. The first couple of pages didn’t engage me at all but I carried on because, well because that’s where I almost grew up and its a special place. John Fowles wrote The Collector, his breakthrough book about a man too sanctimoniously horrible to even think about. He’d probably be a UKIP candidate today. It’s about a government research facility where scientists dream themselves into a parallel West Country, a little like the way Claire tried to chant herself into a better place by reciting AE Houseman in Not Your Heart Away. It didn’t work for her, or only for a little while. I’ve yet to see whether the scientists are going to have better luck.

So I think I’ll go back to reading my book now. With tea.

Share Button

Spotify

spotify logo

 

I just discovered Spotify. OK, maybe I’m not the first to discover it but I thought I’d like to share, because that’s what I’m like.

I put together a playlist, just in case Not Your Heart Away gets on screen, or if you’d just like to listen to the music in the book while you read it. There’s some later stuff too, Kate Bush’s “And So Is Love” and some new David Bowie tracks which just seemed to fit the mood. Click on the link, kick back and enjoy. And remember, if you’re singing along with headphones on it sounds absolutely awful, whoever you are.

Click here.

Share Button

More spam!?!?!

I wasted some time putting a little note up yesterday, saying that hey spammers, I check the comments before they’re posted up. Did it make any difference? No.

More spam today. How many cheap bags from China can there be? Or Michael Kors stuff. Whoever he is, he’s got a lot of it.

Some of the spam is pathetic, badly spelled, bad English, bad everything about it. The ones that intrigue me most almost but not quite look like they were written by a human.

“Could you improve your writing?”

Well yes, in theory, with time and practice. But should I, when you just want to put red bottom shoes on my website?

“On a clear day you can smell forever.” I liked that one. Still spam though, when I looked at the address. But who sends this stuff out? Most of the addresses are obvious fakes, spoofed computers enslaved by remote bots or whatever theft enabled by IT is called now. It was all made illegal, at least in the US, years and years ago. Ever hear of anyone going to jail? Being prosecuted, even? I never have. And it’s not that it can’t be done. When someone threatened the US President via email his door was hoofed off its hinges within 48 hours. Like anything governments say can’t be done, it can be and is done whenever they feel like it.

Share Button

Spammers. What is WRONG with these people?

Does this ever work?

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this ahead of. So nice to obtain somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for beginning this up. this site is something that is required on the internet, somebody with a small originality. beneficial job for bringing some thing new to the world wide web!

 

Youre is not a word in English. Neither is Ive. It might be in Russian or wherever Spam City is these days, but not here.

Is it a translation of something, via Hungarian from the original Spack, presumably?

And more to the point,does anyone, ANYONE ever get one of these and think yeah, that’s me alright, I’ll post that up on my website, with the link to the knock-off shoes or bags. Why is it always shoes or bags? Does this look like the kind of website people who want cheap shoes or bags would do to. Well does it? Do you feel lucky, punk?

Spammers obviously do.

 

Share Button

Another lovely Amazon Review of Not Your Heart Away

Whenever I get a nice review  on Amazon I post it up. Because I love sharing so much.

4.0 out of 5 stars NYHA, 18 April 2013
By
Sergio Andrade (Porto, PORTUGAL) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Not Your Heart Away (Paperback)

As we live and grow older, we cross several turning points, several junctions of existence.
Those “pit stops” of life, made up of Time and Space and desire and fear and hope and places and faces and people. People you used to know, people you used to be.
And sometimes, you just can’t help it but stop, turn around and look back into that specific point in your life, growing smaller and smaller in the horizon, and ponder on how things turned out for you and wonder how things might have been different.
“Not your heart away” is a book about that. It’s a book WITH teenagers, but I wouldn’t recommend it TO teenagers. Sure, it can be read by teenagers, and the brightest ones amongst them will even understand it; perhaps some will even relate it to some events in their lives. But I wouldn’t recommend it…it presents too much spoilers on life and the passing of time.
It is better meant for those of life who can and will look back…those who know the longing for the unreachable days of blue and golden youth…and ideal that crosses the boundaries of when and where.
NYHA has its centre in a specific time period, a specific place. Being a teen in England in the 1970s. But, relevant as those characteristics are, they do not close themselves from other times, other spaces, other lives. Its specificities can be blood-linked to anywhere, any when, any who.
Fiction as it is, you can sense the writer has poured out a lot of his soul on this book, this simple yet beautifully written little gem, poetical at times, with extra bonus references to paranormal (or metaphorical!?) entities, UFOs, and local folklore.
The greatest magic, however, is the way it sparks in each reader his/her personal memories and the way they can be related to the narrative, regardless of its time and space. And magic is real, just so long as you believe…

 

 

Call me vain, but I don’t have an agent so I have to do my own marketing and PR. Unless of course, you’d like to be my agent. If you want to talk about that, let’s do lunch, baby!

Call me. Laters….

 

 

Share Button

On a clear day you can smell forever

It’s a late Spring, the same sort of weather as the time Not Your Heart Away was set. The sky is grey but the birds are singing. And just as then a cold Spring that combined light evenings with chilled hands, a time someone recalled as one of country pubs, cold girls and warm cars. It’s odd remembering that as I’m trying to work against the clock trying to get the book turned into a film script for Monday.

It’s going well but I just don’t know if I’ve got enough time. Bolstered though by a rather lovely email I got today from the lady who runs the Suffolk Arts Club.

 

PS  Have read the last section of your book, excellent.  Have now lent it to Elaine who was here when you came last Saturday

Caroline Wiseman

Caroline Wiseman Modern and Contemporary

The Aldeburgh Beach Lookout and The Art House

 

I think I’ve found some new energy, after that. I know this: that I’ve never done anything better or more worthwhile than writing this book and this script, now. Wish me luck.

 

Share Button

Cow Town, Pig Town

I heard the trailer for Shane on BBC Radio 4 most of this week. I’ve never read it or heard the play, but I heard the Kenneth Williams spoofs on Around The Horne years ago. Where did he come from, that magnificent silent homme?

I’ve had the phrase Cow Town going through my head all day. I lived in Aspen once, but that was a Sheep Town, it being sheep that cropped the range in those parts back when silver was the only other crop there. The town I grew up in, Trowbridge, that used to be Pig Town. It was where Bowyers, the pork pie factory was, where we heard the pigs squealing for hours on pie day, then the silence, then the smell as the carcasses were flensed. Happy days, unless, obviously, you were a pig.

I don’t know anywhere like that these days. Just outside Bury St Edmunds there’s the huge British Sugar boiling plant, where they boil up sugar beet to make white sugar crystals; the Cloud Factory, a friend of mine used to call it, because of the steam that comes out of the place every day of the year and it being East Anglia, merging into the cloudbase not very high above most days.

Sugar Town, perhaps, although Bury St Edmunds doesn’t look as it it has much to do with In Watermelon Sugar, nor, to be fair, with iDeath.

I’m looking for a title, you see. Once you’ve got the title the rest of it will flow. Bound to, isn’t it? That’s my excuse for not writing today, anyway. I can’t think of the title. Nor the ending. I’ve got some of the plot.

Share Button

Double-Spaced

I saw an advert for a writing magazine today, explaining why writers used to use double-spacing on the page.

Maybe I should explain the concept, as it’s so obviously now not what people do, yes dear reader, even me.

It used to mean leaving a blank line between each line you type. In those impossibly far-off days when I learned on my bright orange portable Smith-Corona at the South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education I wanted to be a journalist. Sort-of wanted to, anyway. We had to learn how to type and take shorthand, or at least T-line shorthand. The idea was you typed your stuff out and then somebody else sub-edited it, checking it for spelling, typos, grammer and style. I know, ludicrous over-manning, isn’t it? You can get a machine to do that. Well, you can now. You couldn’t then.

Given that the copy was on bits of paper – and yes, I am aware how much this is coming to resemble something Howard Carter (not to be confused with Howard Jones, which is all too easy to do for someone of my generation) might have deduced in the tomb of Tutankhamun, however it’s said now – someone actually had to take a biro, preferably red, and mark-up the errors in a code of notches and marks that even then went back years. If an extra word was needed say, or the sub thought these three words could be two and needed to be moved the other end of the sentence anyway, he’d – no, wait, honestly – write the words on the paper and maybe draw an arrow to show where they should go. The blank line between the lines gave him somewhere to do it. And yes, subs were almost always men in those days. Crazy times, hey?

After that we all trapped a bison in a pit and went down the pub.

But there was always a double-meaning to writing between the lines. Roy Harper even had an album called In Between Every Line. There was a romance to it, often one you’d sadly read into letters from your old girlfriend at school telling you about a trip to York at the weekend or somewhere equally implausible when you lived in Wiltshire, the reasons for which you didn’t really need invisible ink to work out. There was the spice and danger of No Man’s Land about the between the lines concept too, the haunted place that Biggles and Drummond and countless others found themselves pitched into by accident, stuck between the Hun’s front lines and our own, in the mythical 1916 that clearly still tormented some of the most elderly teachers at school. Some of ours were certainly old enough to have shouldered a Lee-Enfield.

So it was odd, anyway, to see double-space typing being reinvented the same day as the news the Telegraph is to merge with the Sunday Telegraph broke. I don’t really care what happens to the Sunday Telegraph but I do care about the inability of the BBC to report a story without non-sequiturs, or to ask questions that mean anything when they’re clearly being fed nonsense. Perhaps they think it’s impolite these days.

The man from the Telegraph explained it. Or maybe he was a Professor of Journalism, which would make it even more tragic. The two papers are going digital, he said. The Telegraph was one of the first papers to do this, even before the millenium. Ex-pats in Spanish marinas could happily fulminate about Engerlund goindahnvatube without even needing to go and talk to people with dark skins at the newspaper stall.

The Telegraph had found it was stuck with all this expensive kit for printing ink onto paper, presses that cost millions and had a re-sale value of pennies if you could find anybody who wanted one in the first place and had the cranes and lorries and the skills to get it out of the building and re-assembled without reducing it to scrap. So the obvious thing to do is sack some of the editorial staff. Obviously. The people who do the things that the readers actually chose the product for. It’s not that the Telegraph isn’t making a profit. Just not enough profit for the people who own it, so they’re going to get rid of the people who make the customers come and buy it. Sometimes I really wish I’d been to business school, so I could understand this stuff.

The Telegraph will turn into Yahoo! News, a home for the useless, reduced to re-packaging Sky News and anything somebody else did to achieve a homogenised product that will investigate precisely nothing at all but will let you know when Kim Kardashian’s silicon enhancement check-up is due. And it’ll have even more errors, real, basic type-errors, because for some reason it’s almost impossible to check things on screen.

I typed 110,000 words for Not Your Heart Away. I checked it again and again and again. Someone else edited it as well. I ordered some proof copies because I wanted it out as a paperback as well. And that was when I saw the mistakes.

I couldn’t believe it. In some parts of the book there was a mistake on every page. Other places it was fine for ten pages or so, but then the most basic typos would be there again. Two words the same. A word that obviously hadn’t been deleted when two sentences were cut and spliced together.  It re-convinced me that you can’t edit well on screen, however many times you go over it. I think I’ve got them all now. I hope so anyway.

Odd that now everyone uses a keyboard absolutely no-one is taught how to type as part of their elementary education let alone higher studies but as Molesworth used to say, let it pass.

 

Share Button

On Kindle Now!

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Your-Heart-Away-ebook/dp/B00BL0DOJ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362056221&sr=8-1

Finally, Not Your Heart Away has gone live on Kindle. I’m still waiting for the proofs for the paper edition, which should be with me tomorrow, March 1st, but until then you’ll just have to be digital like Max Headroom for those old enough to remember him. That’s everyone who might or might not recognise an echo of themselves in the book, of course.

So please, if you don’t want to read something by a ghost-writer, if you do want something which isn’t about Agas, failed marriages, the USA or London, you might give this a go.

Half in love with his girlfriend, wholly besotted with someone who isn’t, half obsessional and wholly out of his depth, Ben’s standing on the edge of a cliff he doesn’t even realise is there. But then, so was Claire. The only difference was, she knew it. Click on the picture to get your copy today.

Cafe bar window

 

 

 

Share Button