The Stag Do

A very different piece, this, to the extent I’ve used a different font for the .pdf. Think of it as my very own way of removing the “M” from between my forename and surname.*

Having checked the dates I created some very, very old files, it turns out this is only the second time this century that I’ve attempted to write fiction in something approximating my own voice. This brings with it a whole new set of challenges and anxieties, foremost of which is the fear that the narrator may be mistaken for me. And why not? We sound rather a lot alike, after all.

Suffice to say, he’s not. More importantly, however, he’s NOT a role model either. If you’re experiencing some of the same difficulties he is, information on drug, alcohol and mental health services from the NHS can be found here, here and here, and the UK number for the Samaritans is 116 123, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are people who will listen, and can help, and it can get better. I promise.

Thanks to Eleanor Harffey, Holly Parsons, Becky Beynon-Lewis, Mel Ciavucco and Esme Betamax for the feedback (even – perhaps especially – the bits I decided not to use); Es in particular is owed a very special thank you for “bellend”.

Thanks also to Anthony Smith, for allowing me to use more of his experiences at work than may be strictly prudent, and Peter Gibbs and Nathan Richards, for workshopping some of the dialogue with me.

If you’d like to hear a recording of me reading an abridged version of this story, Talking Tales now have a YouTube Channel, here – the video is the one for the event on 20th February 2016.

Link to .pdf

* I will genuinely buy a drink for the first person who gets that. Except you, Dave.

The Stag Do

From The Far Side Of Twilight

This was written in the late hours of one Friday evening and the early hours of the subsequent Saturday morning, with considerable help from Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” and considerable hindrance from a bottle of bad white wine, in a desperate attempt to have something ready for Stokes Croft Writers’ ongoing storytelling night Talking Tales (I strongly recommend you check out their podcast series on iTunes here).

Thanks to my good friends Andy Melhuish of Eloquent Bear Creative & Copy Writing (for the kick up the arse) and Eleanor Harffey (for the feedback, not least with regards to public performance and trusting audiences to be smart and attentive).

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how this one should be read. As straight-up face-value fantasy? As an old wives’ tale? Even, God help us, as an allegory for youth culture in the South Wales Valleys following the decline of the coal-mining industry?

The answer is: I don’t know. And nor do you. And neither does anyone else.

China Miéville recently-ish gave an interview in which he argued against the idea of reading a short story as a “puzzle” to be solved, and I have to say I concur… Read it and enjoy it – or not – as you like.

Unless you read some weird evil Nazi shit into it. In that case we’ll have words.

(When I get ‘round to writing criticism again – and finishing “Three Moments of an Explosion” – I really have to do something on Miéville; I’m by no means his biggest fan, but I’ve never read a writer whose flaws I’ve found so fascinating…)

Link to .pdf

From The Far Side Of Twilight

Cold Kisses

This was written in collaboration with, and at the suggestion of, the lovely and very talented Lisa Rose of Lisa Rose Illustration and Ink Soup; a version with her wonderful illustrations can be found in Ink Soup 8: Ouroboros, available for purchase here.

The piece itself was inspired by stories my Dad told me about growing up around the gravel pits and canals of the western suburbs of Greater London during the 1950s, almost all of which are certainly not true.

Link to .pdf

Cold Kisses