Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Back on the 210 again.

So I'm finally in a position to start sending chapters out again. I was doing this with my last novel "The Rain of Terror" only 6 months ago and with what became this book, back when I thought it was a book of short-stories, only three months ago. I dont half crank 'em out me! Sheer panic.

This book is better though, potentially the best thing I've done. It's certainly better than it was as six strange, vaguely related stories about poor parenting skills! Now at least they have a motivation for acting as they do. They fall back into a much larger narrative as the protagonist has new friends and a proper goal. There is an identifiable baddie, satire, parody, sci-fi and poo jokes. It's a lot of slightly subversive fun. It's also the best thing I've done in terms of sureness of tone and appropriateness of language. It's just over 30,000 words, which is short and therefore manageable and above all editable.

I've actually enjoyed editing for the first time and that's a real achievement for me.

And amusing story from Kent.

Last night the police surrounded my brother's house in Broadstairs as a fugitive of some stripe was clambering around on his roof. The hapless suspect was called Aaron. There was a lengthy standoff at the rooftop vigil during which Aaron shouted down "You can't arrest me! You haven't got a warrant!" To which the police replied "You're right Aaron. But we don't need one see cos you're on top of your neighbours roof!"

Thursday, 11 November 2010

In which I'm rude to a shouty Christian...

It was a packed Victoria line train that had stopped several times between stations and the man next to me closed his eyes and started mouthing and mumbling as if he were giving himself a pep-talk. Then suddenly he started bellowing down the carriage about how a great guy god is, how the Bible is a terrific page turning treat and how really into us Jesus is; how none of the bad things that ever happened mattered because this metaphysical space-hippy really loves us without even being introduced. So I told him to fuck off.

Not the sort of thing I would usually do because a) he can think what he wants b) I'm a tremendous physical coward and he was bigger than me c) it would involve me talking to someone on the tube and I've been in London for too long. But this morning I did tell him to fuck off because actually shouting a load of rubbish down the carriage at 9 in the morning is just arrogant and rude and because I'm having a rough time of it at the moment and Jesus hasn't dropped by with a six pack. The train started up again and he turned and I thought he was going to hit me but he just started rambling on again, directing his breathless rote-learned parrit - fashion nonsense at me directly this time. So I told him to fuck off again. He told me he'd pray for me and I said don't you fucking dare. And then I got off and went to work and remained unsmited for the rest of the day.

Though I did just hurt my ankle emptying a humane mousetrap into the garden. Hmnn.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

How do you make sense of this? My beautiful wife is dying.

She's 35 and onto a second, incurable cancer. The lymphnodes were the least of it: it's in her sternum, whittling out the bones in her chest, and it's in her liver: two lumps, one the size of a ten pee piece, the other the size of a penny. The surgeon pointed out that they didnt think there was any in her lungs or brain as though it were a bonus. That "didn't think" vagueness is the watch-word of all our interactions with hospital staff. I don't know how a surgeon wealds a scalpel when he's covering his arse with both hands.

It had been a nice morning and if I believed in signs and portents or you-know-who I would have believed that nothing could have been allowed to spoil a beautiful bright autumnal morning. Trees carpeted the pavements with red and their black naked branches saluted the blue sky. I should have realised this was the path to the spider's nest. In the waiting room, where we waited the customary hour after our appointment, which had been torture only a week before, we had fun, nervousness making us giddily chatty. Kelly's mum and sister werw over and the chat of Irish women cannot be stemmed, quelled or quashed. Except by the nodded instruction of an oncologist to come and join her.

The surgeon wasn't wearing a black cap but he may as well have been. His summing up was curt; spare: This is cancer. It's in the bone and the liver. It had grown under the battery of chemotherapy, effectively meaning that that particular protracted torture was pointless. The cancer is incurable and they didn't really know if it was treatable either. There was no point in surgery but there were other chemotherapies and drug treatments available. They might prove effecacious but he didnt know. He used the words "random" and "tossing a coin" several times to surely sever the last bonds of trust. And trust fell away like an unpopular mountaineer with a twisted ankle.

Kelly, bright eyed with unspilled tears, managed to ask a series of questions, her voice tremulous and high, her usual lilt straining horribly as if some terrible pressure was resting on her vocal cords. I sat there mute and glaring, clutching her perfect hand as if I were that unpopular mountaineer staring into the face of the abyss.

She's at a driving lesson now. A driving lesson! It's fucking heartbreaking.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Hospital porters are like unlicensed cabbies. They have no idea where they're going and theyre not afraid to ask random passers by or even the people theyre supposed to be moving. In hospital the onus would appear to be on the patient to know what should be happening to them at any given point. Any failure on the patients part to know exactly what's going on will result in irritability and bafflement from staff.

However once you have completed specific tests for a mappable and recignisable illness then you are magicked away to a far more rarified land. There is more room. There are less people and those that are there are genuinely unwell and seem a lot more focussed. Nobody here is shouting drunken abuse at the nurses or remonstrating with the reception staff about their parking. It is quieter and more condusive to reflection. I prefer this as I hate all of humanity and being near them in extremis, hearing their expressed thoughts, seeing their horrible faces, makes me want to bludgeon them to death.

It's a baffling regime for Kelly: she has been handed non-functioning beepers, injected with stuff, told to fast and then been given special drinks to drink. The promised drink will make her feel as if she has wet herself! Every week is rag week for doctors!

She's in a gown now, feeling ridiculous in the mixed waiting room where she is the youngest person by at least thirty years (not counting myself, though I do rather fit in). There are three elderly Irish women who never stop talking, all of them at once, the hubbub a continual stream of hissing plosives, like simmering soup. It sounds quite nice actually - you could drift off to it. They smell of lavender too - it's almost relaxing. There are two silent, hatted men. One of them wears a plush fisherman's cap and has wrapped a silvery rosary around his knuckles. I am reminded briefly of Scott Walker. The other man wears a neat moustache and breathes like he's already on a ventilator. He reads the Sun. We are waiting on a bone scan.

Lunch is in the local creche. It appears to be a cafe at first glance and I admit I was fooled by all the clever trappings at first: the food, the table service, the ubiquitous apple lap-top (lapple - top? apptop?)users taking advantage of the free wi-fi and going through the motions of flirting with the severe and unattainably attractive staff. But I was wrong. This is a creche. Just like everywhere else in London - any museum or library, any cinema or theatre. Even certain Trappist monasteries. Any where, in fact, that braying and entitled yummy mummies feel like parking their 4 by 4 off-road prams and allowing their colourful brood to scream for an hour while they flap on endlessly on about their lives. Today they are joined by a tall camp wally called Gideon ( the kids are called Zack and Oscar - of course!) who is getting his own back on one "Josh" who mocked him for missing the Arsenal one time because he was playing guitar in Cambridge with "Dave". This time it's Josh who is going to miss the football as he has to go to his girlfriend's grandfather's birthday party. In your face Josh! Gideon's going to tear you a new one with this little tit-bit. They're all in from swimming and the kids are grizzling with water in their ears but Gideon and his gilet wearing companions continue to quack on over the screams. Why arent they at work? Why is no one in London at work?

Why do I care?

We're still waiting on bone scan results.