Archive for December, 2009

The Train Man

Posted in Non-Fictions on December 27, 2009 by Tom Fletcher

A man sat next to me on the train and started talking. His voice was soft, with a faint Liverpudlian accent. He lisped – he pronounced ‘ess’ as ‘esh’ – and his words ran together. He was difficult to understand. He was in his forties, maybe, with younger eyes. His teeth were bad; brown and unbrushed. His coat cuffs were greasy and his blue trousers were flecked with white.

‘How long does it take to get to Chester?’ he asked.

‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘I get off at Warrington.’

‘I’ve just got myself a new girlfriend for Christmas,’ he said. ‘That’s good, innit?’

‘That is good,’ I said.

‘Just in time for Christmas,’ he said. ‘That’s good, innit? Presents an’ that.’

‘That is good,’ I said. I nodded and smiled.

‘Only been together a few days,’ he said. ‘Took her out last night and then we stayed up having a few beers. She got a taxi home at about three o’ clock. That’s good, innit?’

I nodded and smiled.

‘I’ve said I’m going to go and pick her shopping up. That’ll make her happy, won’t it? One good turn an’ that.’

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘That’s nice’.

‘I had another girlfriend for four and a half years. She had a lovely personality an’ that an’ she was hilarious. Y’know, a good sense of humour. But she didn’t give me any love and affection. She wouldn’t put her hands round me and kiss me an’ that. But this new one, she puts her hands round me and kisses me an’ that. She gives me love and affection.’

‘Good,’ I said.

‘Because that’s the most important thing, innit? To be wanted.’

‘It is,’ I said.

‘Surroundings and that don’t matter. It’s who you live with that matters. Some people in slums are happier than them in mansion houses or hotels or semi-detached houses. It’s who you live with.’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘What time does the train go back to Earlestown?’ he asked.

‘I don’t know, I’m afraid,’ I said.

‘I’m just having a ride out on the train and back to pass the time, like. It’ll get me back just in time to go and pick her shopping up. Eleven bags. That’ll be some weight, won’t it?’

‘It will,’ I said.

‘She’ll still be in bed. Won’t be up until eleven after being up until three drinking beers.’

I laughed.

‘She lives in a nice house up by the hospital. Much nicer than mine. Hey – once I move in with her I’ll be sorted, eh?’

I laughed. He meant it though. He was smiling the most genuine smile. He had grey stubble. The train pulled into Warrington Bank Quay station.

‘Excuse me please,’ I said. ‘I’m getting off here.’

The man got up too. He stood at the door that divided the body of the carriage from the exit compartment. ‘How do you do this?’ he asked, gesturing at the door. ‘Press the button?’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Press the button. Just that button there.’

‘That’s good, innit?’ he said, as he pushed the button. ‘I’ve always used me hands. Didn’t realise they were automatic.’

He got off the train with me and stayed on the platform as I descended the steps to leave the station. I thought about the eleven bags of shopping. Something about that shopping didn’t make sense.

Just A Quick Link…

Posted in Non-Fictions on December 6, 2009 by Tom Fletcher

A nice review of the Nightjar Press books here:

http://artoffiction.blogspot.com/2009/12/interlude-reading.html

Something to Say? (No).

Posted in Non-Fictions on December 3, 2009 by Tom Fletcher

What is blogging for? Is it for anything? I don’t know. I guess if I felt with some real certainty that this blog mattered, then I would update it more frequently. As it is, I tend to de-prioritise my blogging. This makes me feel guilty, because it kind of implies that I don’t value anybody reading it (which is not the case), but then as soon as I feel guilty I feel conceited for having thought – even just momentarily – that anybody out there really cares about reading this. Then I feel bad about being conceited. Then I wonder, well, why do I do it?

(Some people say that they blog for themselves, but I’m not one of those people. Other people use it to showcase their work; I am paranoid about copyright issues, and so I’m not really one of those people either. Some people use blogs to disseminate their opinions on particular subjects, which I do do sometimes, but try not to).

The answer, as you may have spotted, is that I DON’T do it. I blog so infrequently that I don’t think I really have the right to call it ‘blogging’ at all.

Recently I have been pretty busy. And on those occasional evenings where I’ve been sat at my laptop and thought about blogging, I’ve stopped myself, because I haven’t really had anything worthwhile to say. So that’s why this place has started to feel a little empty lately. A little shellish. A little cold and dull. And, if you’re reading, and if you care, I apologise.

(FYI – That’s as about insightful as this post gets. And I know it’s not that insightful).

So yes! We went to Iceland. We had an amazing time. I’ve written on this blog in the past about coincidences. Some (well, two) pretty startling coincidences reared their strange little heads on the last night of our visit.

I will elaborate.

Beth (Beth is my wife) completed a Fine Art MA in October 2008. Shortly before we went to Iceland – so, sometime in October 2009 – she was talking to one of her ex-tutors who gave her the contact details of another graduate (of the same course) who actually lives in Reykjavik. We met her – Anna-Julia – and her partner, Paul, on the Thursday of our week in Iceland, and then went round to theirs for tea on the Friday.

As I say – two coincidences.

1) Beth and I both really set our hearts on going to Iceland a few years ago, after falling in love with the music of the Icelandic band Múm. We are both still huge fans. Our first ‘holiday’ together was to London, to see them play. Anna-Julia is the cousin of the-then Múm lead singer, Kristin. This in itself would have been a lovely way to close the circle.

2) Anna-Julia and Paul used to live on Clyde Road, in Manchester, which is the first road Beth and I lived on after moving to Manchester. We have all seen the same fox on Clyde Road, distinguishable by its bald back end.

All in all, it felt like there was a pleasing kind of symmetry to that last night in Reykjavik.

Another point I should make about Iceland; apparently not all Icelanders believe in elves, so my last post is a little misleading. Only about twenty percent believe in actual elves or, as they call them, the ‘hidden people’. These are Tolkien-esque elves, by the way; not pixies or fairies. Tolkien’s elves appear to be inspired by Icelandic folkore, as does an awful lot of The Lord of the Rings.

In other news…

I experienced my first Word Soup a couple of weeks ago. It was Word Soup #7, and I read, and I had a really good nighbt and got very drunk and, consequently, Beth and I missed our train back to Manchester. Find out more about Word Soup here, and have a look at the writer Jenn Ashworth’s blog here. (Jenn organises the Word Soup events, and does a very good job of it too.)

The Safe Children, a chapbook written by myself and published by Nightjar Press (alongside the fantastic What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night, by none other than Michael Marshall Smith) , is selling well. There were only two-hundred signed and numbered copies printed. We’ve had confirmation that the books are available on Amazon, although it’s (about two and a half weeks) quicker to get them direct from the source, here. We’ve also had some very nice reviews:

Bookmunch – http://bookmunch.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/nightjar-is-going-to-become-an-essential-imprint-what-happens-when-you-wake-up-at-night-by-michael-marshall-smith-the-safe-children-by-tom-fletcher/

Paraphilia Magazine – http://antiquechildren.com/ 

David Hebblethwaite – http://davidhblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/two-stories-nightjar-press/

And Nightjar Press also got a mention on the Manchizzle blog, which is great.

The Leaping – that is, my first novel – is actually now completely finished. One of the things I’ve been busy with is the proofreading. I am both surprised and touched at how much work the editors and proofreaders and typesetters have put into checking everything and then double-checking everything, and I’m gladdened too, because it is astounding how you can miss errors on the first ten read-throughs. (Quercus have been great in every respect, really). So yes – The Leaping, as far as I know, is all ready to go to print. Naturally, I am very very excited about this. And, for those of you that don’t know, we’re launching it at the World Horror Convention at Brighton in March. Can’t wait.

Thrillingly, The Leaping has made Bookmunch’s list of ‘Fifty Books You’ll Want to Read Next Year’. See the others on the list, and read the angry comments, here. I’ve linked to the list, but dig around on the site a little to get the reasons for why those particular books were chosen.

I’ve just re-read the beginning of this post and I’m disappointed with myself. I’ve always insisted (in my own head, primarily) that we place too much importance on the function of things. That is, if something doesn’t have an apparent function, it’s generally scorned as ‘pointless’ or ‘modern art’. So when I ask the question ‘What’s blogging for?’, I don’t mean to insinuate that blogging has no value. I’m just curious.

I’ve also joined Twitter. I think you can see my latest tweet up in the top-right corner of this blog. I like it a lot actually. If you’ve joined Twitter too, please go ahead and follow me @fellhouse.

Now, I probably won’t update again for a while because I need to get on with my second novel – The Thing on the Shore. I hope that’s OK.

Well.

That took longer than expected.

Leave a comment, why don’t you? Maybe even start a debate. Go on. Get angry.