Monday, 28 February 2011

Oh I Don’t Know

Hello! Did you know the oestrogen levels in sheep skyrocket at the onset of Spring? No, I didn’t either! Hello! Did you know the moon is three times as gravid in the sticky cloudless night? No, I didn’t either!

Hello! I am Mark. I am writer and I like to write and I am doing an MA course and it has made me get much better at writting and I am not sneering I am sincere, this course has made me get much better at writting. I hope to writ many more goodly stories soon and do a novel or full-length in the future and I hope to do that and that would be nice, because then people would look at my words and go woah, he is well good at writting is he not, yes!

Hello! New stories:
The Easily Persuaded Killer in the Ransom Anthology. This got into print because I wrote it for the Alibi contest, and after six months of no response, I decided I hadn’t won. So I sat down with a pint of hemlock and subbed the bitch to every crime publisher with a sense of humour and two months later—

Other: I wrote
Becoming a Bandit for two former comedian chumps and declined an invitation to stash the story in their archives. It sat unmolested for months until ending up in this fat collection Winter Canons.

man/woman in the This is the Way the World Ends Anthology. I’m pleased this story found a home as I used a split page narrative technique (man’s narrative on the right, woman on the left), making it capital U unpublishable. To get a story that tries something different with formatting is difficult in a climate where playful work is shunned for being gimmicky or plain ludicrous, so praise be to the anthologists for taking this one on. I humbly thank you.


(Soon all blog posts will be this good. Just you wait.)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Your Cultural Homework

For a greater understanding of what it takes to be an intergalactic bounty hunter and megalomaniacal corvine despot, observe Psy-Crow: half deep-sea diver, half crow, whose rise from Vietnam vet to gym teacher to spookiest bird in the universe is an inspiration to millions.

For an opaque take on the First World War and English nationalism as seen through the eyes of an elfin milf queen, regardez vous
Let England Shake, the new full-length from PJ Harvey. Note the impertinence of a trumpet sample and words that maketh murder.

For a tapestry inspired by Sumatran batik fabrics that depicts the seven ages of man in ironical crossweaves, see Grayson Perry’s
The Walthamstow Tapestry. Observe the whimsical winks to those greedy bankers.

For an acid-tongued rant about the crushing futility of life during the Serb-Croat conflict and one of the most devotedly punishing narrators since Dostoevsky’s Underground Man, see Vedrana Rudan’s

For a lemon drizzle cake, see this lemon drizzle cake.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Symmetry of a Longing Unexpressed


Eye Two.

Eye Two Elite.

Or how about this?

How about Eye Two Turbo?

Not too masculine for you, Alan?

What do you think about that, Rita?

What would you say to . . . . Eye Two POWER?

Not too much thrusting manliness for you, eh Rita?

I don’t mean anything by that . . . nothing at all, Rita.

I’m not making “those types of comments” we discussed, no way.

Why would I want to insult you . . . or any other female executives?

They’re doing a splendiferous job, and for very little rewards, I might add.

There’s no subtext, I promise, Rita, no subtext at all, nothing but mutual respect.

A mutual respect that I extend to the whole female faculty, but especially to you . . .

Anyway, I should get to work on the design, if the name is oakie dokie?

Oh Alan, you hate every idea I have, cut me some slack, huh?

What do you think Rita, do you like the name or what?

Well, I’m glad, it’s not my greatest work, but I try.

Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say, Rita.

Well, I’ll get on that right now, thanks guys.

I’ll talk you later, Rita, about that thing.

You know, the other thing we were . . .

In my office, about half six?

Great, I’ll see you then.

I’ll be ready, definitely.

Ready and waiting.

That’s funny.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Caroline No

When I was twelve I was obsessed with a girl called Caroline. (The person I was obsessed with isn’t called Caroline really. Her name [although she might be a man] has been concealed in case the following text offends her [or him]. For the sake of narrative ease, let’s assume the gender is female). Caroline was a product of a public Catholic school somewhere nondescript in the Lothians. She wasn’t gifted with some ethereal strangeness. She wasn’t about to say something that defied her genealogical roots.

I was obsessed with finding the abnormal among people I thought drab and pathetic. People behaved like other people from the same area, blending into one regional blur that left me unsatisfied. I wanted someone to do or say something somehow at variance to their age, sex, or upbringing. I wanted someone to say something so striking and odd that I would latch onto them forever and we would go live in a cave and milk stalactites for custard. This was my dream. This was the simple dream of a simple boy.

Caroline was ginger and therefore nursing the persecution complex that blooms in those with freckles and an outlandish sense of Scottishness. So Caroline, with her disgusting and beautiful gingerness, stood out in a classroom stuffed with clones who spoke in humiliating Americanised English (the girls) or thick Scottish dialect (the boys).

So for weeks I fantasised. I wondered whether beneath her clothes her skin was a red carpet of rustic hairiness. I wanted to plait the hair into love hearts or shave her nude with Dad’s Phillips razor. To use her legs as pruning shears and topiarize our love into shrubs of forever. That sort of thing.

So one afternoon in Home Economics we were paired at random to bake a cake. This was the moment to discover her true credentials. I wanted linguistic oddness to match her aura. I knew the likelihood that she would start barking out words like a witch possessed by the OED was . . . unlikely. She was shy, which was a good start. We got to work on our cake.

Every cake I’ve ever made comes out like a giant’s snotball and this one was no exception. She was a useless baker. Our collaboration was conducted with the shrugging reluctance of two people from two different worlds who don’t want to make a cake together. There wasn’t much evidence of a brilliant red freak beneath that shy demeanour. When she suggested I do the washing up I was disappointed. Impishness wasn’t enough for me. I wanted her to fling the plates across the room or snort burgers.

So that was the last exchange I had with Caroline before she moved away. I had to conclude she wasn’t the freak of nature I had been seeking. I also had to conclude it was unrealistic of me to expect to find someone as buggeringly bonkers as I yearned for, and these fantasies were merely a way for me to hide in the absurd and reject the normal. (Which I still like to do, but I no longer go around baiting gingers).