Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tangerine Spleen

So, last weekend I opened up my new short story and decided to start the process. I sat there and didn't even look at it. Something had caught my attention. Several minutes later, I started a new story.

My short stories might end up being a load of shit; but I've just finished the second one. I finished it last night with a bit of a whimper and it came in at 19,973 words - roughly the same as the first, if I recall. This time I very much think it's the bones of a slightly longer story; I already know there's parts that will need fleshing out a bit; but I'm also aware that it is attempting to be the antithesis of a specific sub-genre of fiction, so it might stay roughly the same.

The first short story is a ghost story of sorts and the second is a pragmatic post-apocalyptic story. I say pragmatic because, in my view, that is what it has to be.

This is all a bit prolific for someone who me because I haven't created this much stuff in years; if you discount my ramblings on my blogs. I seem to have found an enthusiasm for short stories after avoiding them like the plague for most of my writing life. I also know that this is a good thing; my penchant for tomes and attempted trilogies, quadrologies and shared universes has probably been a huge and unnecessary burden I've placed on myself. The problem is, I've now got a bug for them and I can't wait for the next idea to come along and it's just not there. I'm looking too hard for it and therefore it's hiding and pulling faces at me from its nook.

***

My finger was really disappointing...

***

I'm going to a gig on Monday night with Monseigneurs Roger and the other other Phil (of wine, women and Wandsworth fame). We're going to see Steven 'Hardest Working Man in Showbiz' Wilson perform his solo album (and probably get arsey at fans asking for Porcupine Tree tracks; in fact there will probably be a big message beamed onto the back drop telling people not to film it on phones, take pictures, record it or ask for PT songs otherwise you'll get a slap in the face and your iPod will be destroyed by Wilson on stage with a big fuck off hammer).

I mention this, not the bracketed bit, the bit about going out, because I don't get out much now and rather scarily I'm starting to enjoy my own company. I'm reminded of 1997, the middle of a very strange period of my life. This isn't detailed in any way in my book (available for the Kindle at all good Amazon stores) in fact, much of 1996 to 1999 isn't told in any detail, just selected highlights. I probably should have included it, but hey, since I wrote it I've thought of shedloads of stuff. Anyhow...

I might have smoked a lot of drugs while the shop was open, but between the years 1995 and 2000 I smoked far too much and the effects started to show in 1996 when I slowly withdrew from normal life. By 1997, I had become a fully-fledged borderline agoraphobic. You could almost count the places I went to on one hand and all of them were places I felt comfortable (although not comfortable enough to take a shit in), other than that I went nowhere. I didn't go anywhere where there were a lot of people; it wasn't paranoia, it was more a feeling of being suffocated by people I didn't know and didn't want to be near. I became so insular that the wife and friends started to take the piss out of me for it. Possibly not the best thing to do, but it's like water off a duck's back for me - especially at that period in my life.

In 1997, the boys got tickets to the League 2 play-off final between Northampton and Swansea (oh how the years have been both cruel and kind) and right up to the day before the final, I was going and then I didn't want to go and someone else took my place and had a great time - the Cobblers won and went up, Swansea stayed in the bottom flight for another long, hard and cold season (oh how the years have been both cruel and kind).

In 1998, the Cobblers got through to the League One final, tickets were acquired and I chickened out at the last minute again. I was really becoming a hermit. We stopped going to the pub; I became chained to my new office and that alone was a really bad thing - the world suddenly became what I could see out of my 9" by 15" window. I should explain; my office used to be the spare room, but when we took lodgers on, we converted the loft and moved my comics and office up there. once we stopped having lodgers again, the wife didn't want the spare room turned back into a hovel, so we converted the cupboard at the back of our bedroom into my office. It was wide enough to put a table in there, which had my bulky computer sitting on top and a flap for the keyboard (a good sturdy keyboard, much better than this piece of shit I use now that doesn't like my stumpy fingers). My chair went in and it touched the wall with the diddy window in it. It was a tight squeeze, but perfectly adequate. I spent about 20 hours a day in my bedroom and 'office' - a room not much bigger than a cubicle in a public toilet.

To say I went barking mad is an understatement. I even arranged for my drugs to be delivered and because we weren't spending any money on entertainment and a social life, I could buy MORE! And the ironic thing was, I didn't actually have to buy more because, I had a constant supply from work, which if I ever had to pay for it was usually about half of the street price. When I discovered my employer had been opening my mail and keeping my freebies for several years, I decided that he should pay for that by allowing me to smoke all his weed, whether he knew about it or not. I never took lots; that would have been seriously dishonest and a wee bit stupid, but he paid me back for years of deprivation and, of course, however bad it got, there was another reason for staying there. Going to the office was one of the few times I ever got out of the house, but, of course, I was again in an nice warm enclosed space with people I knew, but whenever a stranger came into this sanctum, I usually disappeared off into the front office and worked or sorted out more of the mountains of comics he had come into possession of.

Contrary to this bizarre state of mind, I did go on things like the legendary Laddie Boys Weekends, but I suppose I did that because I felt protected by my two or three fellow Weekend Idiots - plus I could take my illegal crutch with me. By the end of 1999, I realised that I had a problem and I gave up smoking for about six months. During that time, we had New Year's Eve and the big celebrations for 2000. We spent the evening round RnB's and at 1pm in the morning of the 'new millennium' Roger and I decided to go for a walk to Derrick's, which was about 3 miles away. We met all kinds of people and the atmosphere was unbelievably placid and celebratory; it was the night I got better.

Now, 11½ years later, I'm settling into a similar routine, but without the illegal drugs. I take the dogs out in the afternoon for an hour and that's it. I go shopping once a week and the pub on a Tuesday (sometimes if I'm lucky I'll be taken for a beer on a Thursday night or Friday lunchtime, depending on how lovely, splendid and wonderful Roger or One El are feeling) and that's it. The rest of the time I'm stuck here. I refuse to sit in front of the telly for any length of time, even though I have discs full of shit I should but probably never will watch and after my chores I either blog or fart about.

Going to London. Full of fat, sweaty, smelly people, in a venue with a band...

Oh God...

I am so looking forward to it!

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