These were my first attempts and putting pen to paper in the mid 90s when paper was still in fashion, at least two of these were hand-written. Some of the stories went on to better things but a lot of them have just fallen by the wayside. As the page has moved on, it’s time to give these a bit of a tickle and leave them out to dry again. I would only read these if you had significant cravings resulting from the better stuff and don’t know where to turn.
In no particular order then:
Death With A Salesman or Two
An attempt to write a play, probably before I really had an idea of what I was doing or how I wanted to write. There may be bits and bobs that have been chopped and purloined (only from myself) and ended up in other stories, but I can’t remember as this story must be at least twenty years old or thereabouts.
The Alpine Man
The old thing about wanting to find your own version of the ruby slippers, this time a machine dispensing Marlboro Lights that magically allows you to remove all the toxic people in your life. This is a theme I have come back to time and time again. This may well be a third millennia story, or at least on the cusp, and was all set for a BBC mini-series but nobody ever read it. The title comes from the chap who used to deliver millions of flavours of pop to Birkenhead in the seventies.
The Video Lounge (or a Little More Thought)
Ah! The old chestnut of having the chance to stop time or know just how close you have come to disaster in the past, and seeing how whichever decision you make could affect those close to you. Having the chance as well to see how several outcomes would bring the story to an end. With all this information, would we make the right decision, or continue to balls things up.
In Birkenhead You Can Kick the Pigeons If You’re Quick Enough
Someone used this expression when I was a kid and it stuck with me. In this story it is meant to mean something like there is no place like home, or you will always end up missing what you had, wherever you end up. This was my first Willy Loman, a nobody trying to forge a path for himself in a world that overlooks him.
This must be from the early noughties as there is talk of the Internet and I must have been sufficiently adept by that time in its use and possible application. This was quite fun to write, one of the first stories that I began without any structure and just ran with it, well maybe I meandered more than I ran, but his journey to the lost tribes of Amazon via Wigan was enjoyable at the time.
The Pigeon War Ministry
This is where the Spugal Nut first appeared. The idea of the story was vastly different in this one, focusing on a futile war tearing apart the pigeons’ lifestyle. I assume it was meant to deal with the futility of war which would make it from the Second Gulf War period. I must have remembered the nut but the birds never made it into another story.
The Perfect Kiss
In 2007, or in time for it, I planned to write twelve stories with the same titles as the New Order compilation Substance. This has been chopped and altered and watered down a few times over the last ten years but still remains, I hope, the most unpleasant thing I have ever written.
The story of two two hapless Columbian kidnappers operating in the express market, a botched job and a load of tequila mean their prey is not the only thing that needs disposing of.
Thieves Like Us
A companion peace to the above but they were Brazilians. I can’t actually remember much about this apart from the fact I regretted lumbering myself with the Substance titles pretty early on. Blue Monday was reworked onto CTMP but without the aspect of the Blue or the Monday, but the rest of the thing never happened as I started writing Costa del Trolls.
This is the easiest to date as it ends with the London bombings (I should have paid the upgrade to use spoilers). Once again the fragility of our passage on this Earth is displayed as the wrong time and the wrong place cause the flurry of young love to have little time to consummate itself. The last of the Substance pieces.
Très Grande Vitesse
I read a book by Satre called ‘Huis Clos’ in which people were trapped in a room together and that was their own idea of hell. Actually, I never actually read it all, I should stop using this as a confessional, but the idea was transposed to a French train. I don’t remember it being particularly good.
The Writer’s Gift to the Village
The closer. This was meant to represent how I felt about spending my time in a remote Spanish village as a pasty Englishman, the idea of never really fitting in, which is probably unfair as I am sure they made more of an effort to include me than I did to be included.
I had the actual idea whilst picking scabs off my feet at the pool and wondering what to do with the remaining dead skin! Utterly charming, I know and I hope nothing has grown in from that discarded flesh.
And that is all for now from the past. Work is underway on my third novel (if you don’t count, and I don’t, Secrets which was a first attempt that I dare not even look at these days).
As always feel free to comment, scorn or mock in the space provided.
In a prosperous suburb of Manchester, the party that left the Circus in search of more relaxed entertainment enters through the newly-adjoined porch into the newly-named vestibule. As affluence increases, names like “hall” and other common denominations turn into their more windswept counterparts. Sitting rooms appear and at times people who would fail to get a point from cat in Pictionary feel they cannot survive without a drawing room. As Lenny moved up in the company and the family appeared, the residence began to take on more importance. Sundays were spent driving to out of town DIY stores and haplessly putting together badly designed products only to return them the following Sunday and mail order a more expensive, pre-built model to be delivered.
A move was imminent when the salary rose to proportions that permitted a move to Didsbury village. As estate agents were falling over themselves to house the young moneyed couple into what they continually referred to as:
The most fashionable part of Manchester
Promises of glimpses of actors from Coronation Street, maybe even the singer from the Charlatans or even the drummer from A Certain Ratio. The pull of the village was just too much.
We rejoin the story a few minutes before the arrival of adults and children to make up for lost time. Albert is in the kitchen and seeing six glasses on the side, he rinses them, to stop excessive foaming of the fizzy beverage, and lines the bottom of each glass with a powerful sleeping potion. In the time it takes for them to fall asleep he will ponder his next move. As the car pulls up on the gravel, drive, he exits through the kitchen window and waits behind the garden shed.
Very cruel, perhaps, to scoff at the building of a home of those who have let us share their story with them. So from now on, we will make like Kate is showing us round and tell her how delightful everything looks.
And where did you get the idea for the shelving unit?
Did you hear that? A voice asking about shelves?
That shows you the danger of being sober at this time of night. You lot make yourselves comfortable and I’ll get the drinks sorted out. Youngsters, do you prefer vodka or gin?
Lenny! Don’t waste my good gin on kids, give them the brandy I can’t stand!
Spitting feathers here Len! SCL please!
VINCE, KATE, ELAINE and children depart for the accommodating living, sorry, sitting room and make themselves extremely comfortable. In the kitchen, LENNY goes to the cupboard to take some glasses and then sees those left by ALBERT,
He goes to the sink to wash them but sees they are ready for use and praises his wife’s efficiency. He pours out cold, inviting SCL for himself and VINCE and opens a bottle of white for the ladies. He thinks about getting wine glasses for them but realises they have bought new ones and the box needs opening, so he makes do with the tall glasses. He pours Coca-Cola into the remaining to glasses, allowing the liquid to spill over the side and leave the glasses effectively half full without topping them up. He puts them on a tray, grabs some plates and forks for the Chinese food and enters the sitting room.
Grub’s up! What do you think of our man Alberto, then. Slightly extreme reaction wouldn’t you say?
Yeah, but if he’s ashamed of what he does, I suppose I can understand it. Different people react to things in a different way. You must promise not to tease him at work on Monday.
You think he’s gonna be there on Monday? You heard his wife, he’ll be on the move again. I guarantee we will never see that feller again. Not in a million years.
Maybe he’ll think better of it, maybe it was what he needed.
This Coke’s minging!
Shut up and drink it.
Tell you what, this food ain’t half heavy on the old stomach.
ALBERTO appears at the slightly open window and listens to conversation.
Look, if we see him again we’ve gotta have a laugh, cos then he’ll realise he’s been a bit of a tosser. If he turns up on Monday, there will be laughs, right Vince?
Too good a chance to miss.
You two are a marvellous influence. You’re right about the food though, all of a sudden I feel drowsy.
I’m not touching any more, Leonard, would you care for a cigar?
Very decent of you, let me get a lighter
(He leaves for a moment and returns with an enormous JR style cubic cigar lighter and two ashtrays. The children are already asleep, KATE can barely keep her eyes open. The other two puff on the cigar’s but sleep is beginning to overcome them. They take one last drag but are soon in the land of nod. Enter ALBERTO through the patio doors and he walks towards the sleeping families, first he checks the infallibility tag on the upholstery and satisfied it will burn, places one of the cigars into the material. Within seconds there is smoke coming from the furniture. He turns to leave and then stops in his tracks, he sees the little boys and collecting them in his arms, he takes them out of the house as the first flames appear)