Pirate Bookshop

Searching Google Maps for how to get somewhere near Kings Cross I stumbled upon the ‘Pirate Bookshop’. Despite the name this is in fact an unlicensed sex shop (or was, it’s now been closed down) and was owned by Ronnie O’Sullivan’s mother.

Books, pirates, sleeze and the mother of a celebrity. It’s a bizarrely wonderful amalgam of facts.

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Literary Death Match London – April 2nd

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Flash Fiction

Flash fiction efforts from last weekend’s workshop (hosted by the incredibly talented Femi Martin). Not great, but not bad for 15 minutes apiece:

  • ‘Run’

Silver space foil crackled as I leant against the tree. The paramedics had loud, cheerful voices, wore green uniforms. They took my temperature, my heart rate, checked my breathing, said ‘Dehydration I reckon, it’s hot today’. Runners with black numbers on their chest’s streamed past. My number lay on the ground, crumpled, torn, forgotten.

  • Simplification of a paragraph from Oliver Twist – I ended up only really attacking the first sentence

You sleep, wake, sleep, eight o’clock, sleep again, drift. You see the pyramids rise, see Rome fall. You live, love, fight. You are born, you die. You wake. Eight o’five.

  • Based on touch

Dusted icing sugar clings to the felt base of the number. Candles flicker, balloons, anchored by coloured ribbons bob and wave. His feet kick the air with excitement and he stands on the chair, pulls his chin above the table edge. The room holds its breath. Then claps and smiles and sings. Thin cotton threads of smoke rise to the ceiling, and his mother takes up the knife, and cuts.

  • Based on sound

Exhausted from life she has retreated from the living and is now caught up inside herself. Her mind is a vast, empty egg-shaped blackness and at the centre, a head – hers, miniature – is suspended. It starts quietly, talking, reflecting on why and how it is here. As is speaks the awareness grows and as the awareness grows, strength grows. Stars begin to wink in the darkness and the night’s black is not as dark. The depression begins to lift.

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Publisher’s office banter

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Sleeping beating crying dreaming

Wake up. Wasps buzz and tumble over each other deep in your frontal lobe; between the eyes, under the skin. Light stings, sound sickens. Bury your head. Thump. Thump. Thump. Again. Thump. Thump. Thump. The beat of blood pulsing though your head echoes and warps, spills out of synch until the moment you feel the beat and the moment you hear the sound it makes are far enough apart that the world seems tipped sideways. Whistles join the beat; shrill, joyful. Cars honk and feet slap against the tarmac. Your eyes crack, the wasps, unsettled, beat their wings. A darkened room, seen sideways through black flashes of lightening, an empty glass of water sitting on the bed side table. A crack of light knifes through the tight drawn curtains and flashes off a mirror. On the street outside a black man, old with dreads bigger than him beats a large white drum. He stands in the middle of the road. He is the announcer. The harbinger. Cars slow. Passers-by slow. Watch him dance. Thump. Thump. An electric pulse shoots through your body, a thousand smaller pulses contract the muscles in your neck. Your head raises, tilts up. The wasps fall over each other, they drone, clamour.  Your skin tingles in the air, oxidizing and decaying around you.  In the small circular  mirror above the sink you don’t see death, only a slightly pale face, furrowed brow, eyes ringed with black. The water splashes in the porcelain basin, fills the dirty glass. Water  droplets jump and freeze your skin. The drumming of the dancing man fades and following behind him, drawn along by the beat is a long black car and a crowd dressed for mourning. They sing. Celebrate. Dance. Cry. The wasps buzz again, their wings thrum and vibrate. Close your eyes. Grow quiet, still. The procession moves forward in the sunlight. You sleep.

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Transient underground

What was that? Oh? You’re pregnant? Look. No, okay, look, I’ve had awful, terrible day, just completely fucking fucked. Truly. However tired you are, it doesn’t come close. Why’ve you got that badge anyway? Look at you. Barely a bumb. All that extra weight’s a bummer huh? Wait till you get to eight months lady, then you’ll be physically pulling people out of seats instead of just sniffing loudly and pointedly. You’re ‘too polite’ to ask any one to move but you’ll make them uncomfortable and guilty at the drop of a hat? Jesus. Can’t say shit to a pregnant lady, there’s no way to win. Jay-sus. Listen, listen, carrying a child doesn’t make you Mary Magdalene, it doesn’t make you incapable of standing and, sorry darling, it doesn’t make you any less of a bitch. Yeah, I know, I know, I’m the prick right? Yeah I’m the prick. Jesus, what a fucking day.

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Girl

The girl had curly hair. She studied French. Before university the girl had spent a number of her school summers working on camp sites in the Dordogne and Loire Valley. The first summer had been chosen as a way to build on the basic French learnt in secondary school but the work suited her, it was varied and her naturally cheerful personality was appreciated by the campers. The English holidaymakers were grateful that she spoke English, and the French holiday makers, though surprised, delighted in her ability to speak French. She returned the following two years and in her final summer, the summer before university, she fell in love with a French boy who worked on the site. She lost her virginity to him but, though he was her first love, she had seen him have other holiday romances before at the site and had no intention of seeing him again once university had begun. French classes at the former polytechnic were hard, but the fluency she had already gained in the language was a benefit. She was on nodding terms with a number of people in her French classes but she drew her friends from the people she lived close to and saw every day. She made friends easily. The French sun had given her a deep tan and her hair already blonde, had grown lighter. She weighed ten stone exactly, and had done so for the last two years. Though she was the largest of her friend group she did not look overweight, and instead the weight gave her an innate sense of strength, something that fitted well with her practical and outgoing nature. When she undressed the curves of her body were firm and smooth, and suggested a sexuality that was sometimes otherwise hard to see. She had a thin white scar on her stomach from where her appendix had been removed. Continue reading

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