Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Gig review: The Beat, Picturedrome, Holmfirth 20 July 2013.

So Larraine and I met up at Sparrow Bar in Bradford on Friday evening and we had a few drinks of light pilsner it was nice and refreshing in the hot weather and we were downstairs where it was cooler and eventually Michael and his mates turned up and there was one mate who looked Asian with a very broad Bradford accent and kept interrupting and Andy whom I have met before and is all right and Anthony to whom I took an instant dislike but I didn’t care I just got on with it and Larraine did too we went to a pub called the Sun Inn which is a gay pub Larraine challenged a lesbian to a game of pool and lost on the black we went back to Larraine’s house which is near Bradford and we got some wine and beer on the way I asked Larraine if she would like to go to see The Beat the following day and she said yes we went through some vinyl records and each said if we owned it and if so how we had bought it and what it meant the next day we got the train from Bradford to Halifax and I realised that I know Halifax quite well because of going there with Gaia Holmes and I asked Larraine if she wanted to go for a drink at The Railway which is a very nice pub and we went to the Railway and had a couple of drinks I know the people who run it they recognised me and asked how I was and said hello we sat in the same place that Gaia and Simon Crump and I had been sitting when we met Robin Simons and we all know what happened that time we got a taxi to Holmfirth the Picturedrome venue was really good really nice staff I went up to the guy on the door and gave my name having bought two tickets on the internet he said you’re in that was it the bar was nice with real ale the band which was on when we arrived I don’t know their name but they were an up-tempo ska outfit two of the band members looked like metal-heads with beards and pony-tails the “frontman” was a very attractive-looking transgender person with pink Dr Marten’s black tights and black minidress and pink hair I checked her out after the set when she was going to a merchandise stall I was going to ask her for a snog or her telephone number but I saw the ginger hair on her arms and it put me off and so I did not go any further Larraine and I went outside so that Larraine could smoke and we could drink beer while looking at the river it was lovely the bouncers were really reasonable you had to go out at the front and go in again at the back but you could take your plastic glass outside we heard The Beat start up and we went back inside and we were really near the front Larraine got worked up when Ranking Junior took his top off the crowd was fantastic no violence no nastiness just one love one inity the BNP and the EDL are fucked when it comes to Holmfirth because everybody just wants to listen to the riddim and skank it took us a while to get a taxi afterwards we went to a pub called the Shoulder of Mutton and I drank Copper Dragon Pippin and Larraine drank Carling and we played three games of pool Larraine beat me all ends up in the first two games but I won the last one and we went home and had baths because I had been wearing the same clothes for two days and had sweated like nobody’s business when I had been dancing and I sang a song in the bath and Larraine had to go to work the next day and we got a bus to Halifax and we agreed that everything had been a bonus we had had no expectations whatsoever but we had both had A COMPLETE BLAST and that we would do it again some time and although I was looking forward to getting home and taking my salt-stained clothes off I was sad when I saw my friend Larraine walking away because I had been leaning on her for the previous two days she is a very experienced and broad-minded woman and a great person to have as a friend she makes me proud

Ten to One: I need votes

I am trailing in the poll to see who stays in the Ten to One novel writing project. Please vote for me.


All you have to do is to click on a button (unless you want to read my chapter first, of course. It is about a character called Tim and is section 1.7). The only personal information displayed will be your Facebook name and avatar. You don’t have to give your email address, or anything. It takes a matter of seconds.

Thank you for your support.

e-Book review: A work by an anonymous author. CONTENT WARNING: FOUR LETTER WORDS

179 pages
£2.99 from Amazon Kindle store

The work in question is entitled ‘A Fucked Up Life In Books’ by Anonymous. The author is female, and (I believe) works in London as something to do with publishing. She is on Twitter under the name @bookcunt . She is one of those people who uses expletives in just about every paragraph.

It is divided into three parts: Childhood and school, Teenage years and university, and A proper grown-up. I counted a total of 56 chapters. Each chapter is about 3 or 4 pages (or screens, if you want to split hairs, given that it is an e-book).

I am not going to insult the reader’s intelligence by trying to pretend that I agreed to review this work without an ulterior motive. @bookcunt has five thousand Twitter followers and a blog (http://www.bookcunt.blogspot.co.uk/) and so I am writing this in the hope of a reciprocal review of my e-story, Pick-up Technique, which I think @bookcunt would enjoy. I am not as established in the blogosphere as she is, but then again, my e-story costs less than a third the price of hers.

Nearly every chapter is named after the book that the author was reading at the time the incident took place. Occasionally, the subject matter or the author’s reaction to the book comes into the narrative, but usually it doesn’t. One of the chapters is about a book she was going to read but, I am very glad to say, didn’t. The book selection is certainly varied.

The book reads more like a diary than what I would call a piece of life-writing. The main difficulty with life-writing is to create a coherent story out of the vicissitudes of everyday existence, and the usual way to do that is either to make a few things up, to make it more interesting, or to pick and pick away at what actually happened until you have pulled out just the main thread. Hence, most writers I know consider that writing from life is virtually the same as writing complete fiction in the sense that the story you end up with is still an artificial creation.

The author of AFULIB manages to create a readable work mainly by keeping each chapter very short. Viewed in comparison to the standard rules of creative writing, the narrative voice has some basic technical shortcomings. It is partial, vituperative, self-involved, colloquial, and cannot stop swearing. But it has a style of its own, and I managed to read the whole book in three, closely-following sittings. Several reviewers on Amazon have commented on a number of typos, but these are trivial. The thing that has the potential to drive you mad about this book is the narrative voice. If you can only read highly-polished, detached prose, then this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you respond to human warmth and feeling, if you are the kind of person who enjoys contemporary stand-up comedy and relates to another person’s frustrations, then you will find this readable, maybe even unputdownable. This is a work from the school of what one of the characters in Alan Bennett’s ‘The History Boys’ referred to as “one fucking thing after another”.

Most of the chapters end with some kind of conclusion, in the form of an adage or homily. Most of these tend to be negative or misanthropic. I enjoyed reading them, not because of what they themselves contain, but because of what they say about the author. It is mostly the chapter endings which reveal the character of the author, and this revelation is the main thing I got out of reading the book. To paraphrase ‘The History Boys’ again, sometimes, when you read, you can feel a hand reaching out to you. This hand would probably want to put a latex glove on before reaching out to any-one who had not just washed their hands with carbolic, but the principle nevertheless applies.

Ilkley Literature Festival 2013: Walking the Line and other events

Michael Stewart, Julia Deakin, Gaia Holmes and I will be walking 46 miles along the Stanza Stones route, from 17 to 20 October 2013. This event has a received funding from the Arts Council and is called Walking the Line.

The first leg is from Marsden to Hebden Bridge, and then to Bingley, and then to Ilkley. There will be evening poetry performances in, respectively, Marsden, Hebden Bridge, Saltaire, and Ilkley. Times and venues of these will be announced shortly.

Everybody is welcome to walk with us, and ask us questions about poetry. Some of our fellow Grist poets will be joining us.

I am appearing solo at the Ilkley Festival at 9pm on Monday 14 October 2013, at Ilkley Playhouse. You don’t need a ticket for this event: you can just turn up, and admission is free. The event is entitled Throwing Mother In The Skip.

I am also appearing at Words on Tap at the Chemic Tavern in Leeds on 26 July 2013.