haters gonna hate – even the shit i be proud of, yeah?



shockwork – test dept

I realise I haven’t written anything about writing for a while. Last November, my health collapsed – right in the middle of NaNoWriMo – and I ended up taking five weeks off work, as well as really struggling to finish the book I was working on.

Since then, my health has been intermittent, to say the least. Any exertion and I’m flat on my back for anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Still, I finished the bastard. And in April, I managed to drag myself though another (my take on the steampunk novel) and in July, I completed the first draft of a fairly ambitious project – in Scots.

Steampunk seemed like an interesting genre to subvert, given my hatred of what that nice Mr Major used to call ‘Victorian values’ and recent events coming to light through Exaro News and other public services. Anyway, it’s lying fallow just now, until I find the time to sit down with it and give it a good polish.

I haven’t written anything in the Scots tongue since I left Edinburgh for Liverpool, almost ten years ago. Surrounded by Merseyside – and Manchester – accents, there seemed little point in trying to recapture the speech patterns I only ever heard on my holidays.

I returned to Scotland, settling in Fife in 2010 and the following year, I discovered NaNoWriMo.

At present, I’m revising July’s novel, which *should* see the light of day sometime next year. And, writing the skeleton of November’s NaNoWriMo novel. And, when I can, polishing an earlier work, the follow-up to ‘Ladies and Gentleman’.


pop will eat itself – eat me drink me love me kill me

Sorry about the break in transmission. I’ve not posted on here in a while. I’ve never really got on top of last year’s raging sickness. And last month’s NaNo damn near killed me!

I’ve never really got back on my feet since November, when I was sucker-punched by a couple of opportunistic viruses and drop-kicked back into Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome. Basically, it’s an unearned hangover, one that lasts for months. The first time I had it, it took about a year to get my mojo back.

I didn’t understand what was happening to me. Weird symptoms that failed to fit together logically. I found it hard to listen to music, is generally a sign that I’m clinically dead.

Listening to rap or drum n bass felt like a particularly savage five-man mugging. Orchestral music felt like I was being gang-fucked by savages. The only thing that worked was film soundtracks – rudimentary themes, repeated often with slightly altered arrangements. I didn’t have the strength of mind to read or watch any kind of drama. That was on my own.

Outside, I found it almost impossible to communicate. Someone would address a comment at me and I’d struggle to dredge my memory banks for something to reply. Seconds would drag, my opponent’s eyes narrowing, trying to decide whether I was a victimless crime or not. Finally, I’d squeeze something out, feeling for all the world like a toddler, trying to formulate sentences and articulate something with zero vocabulary to back it up.

I spent about three months, dragging myself back into work for a couple of days, collapsing and then calling off sick again, unable to move or think. After that, I spent the next four months, flat on my back, staring at the ceiling and bored shitless, without sufficient strength to even top myself.

Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome. I don’t recommend it to anyone.

false grit- half man half biscuit

This blog was originally going to be a warts ‘n’ all writing procedural. Over the last year or so, the process of continuing to exist has meant a lot more focus on politics and the criminal behaviour of our betters,

I’ve been looking into the Victorian era of late, an idea I’ve had for April’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve never written a steampunk novel before so I’m looking forward to subverting – if not outright mutilating – the genre. So that’s the backdrop anyhoo. Gas lighting, corsetry and industrial injuries

I’d set today aside to nuke the final draft of ‘Ladies and gentleman’, but I just went back to the coalface on Monday and after five weeks of living the horizontal dream and marathon binges of ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’, I’m exhausted. Two days at work and it feels like I’ve run a marathon. In ill-fitting armour and clown shoes.

In any case, there’s little point in bunging a new book out at this time of year when it’s only going to be lost in the ex-mess rush. So it’ll be February now. Which gives me time to get back on my feet, gather my strength and come out fighting, ready for April’s ridiculous fanatical marathon sprint.

On the downside, I’m still not fully over this string of diseases that crushed me last month, so after a few hours at work, all I’m fit for is reading fiction. I hate being ill – I’m a rubbish invalid – so I’m finding this intensely frustrating. Patience is, I think, something that only happens to rich people and Americans.

Hopefully a week from now, I’ll have grown some more teeth and can get back to continuing my sarcasm-blitzkrieg.

autoimmune – pharmakon

No entry last week as the (virtually) impossible has happened. Although I pride myself on my overall health and take enough minerals and vitamins every morning to count as a superhero, one got through. While all around me were collapsing with the sabre-toothed stomach bug and updating their Facebook status from a miasma of diarrhoea and projectile vomiting and, frankly, I was chortling at their puny mortal weaknesses, somehow I caught a cold.

From my point of view, I was so protected that no germs would fuckin’ dare. And yet they got through. Still, I took comfort from the fact that, although I was producing more runny snot than any medium-sized European nation, that was all it was. No squitting and puking for me – that’s just for poor people.

So. A cold. Implausible, but effective. Sunday, I took steps, phoned work to let them know I’d be having Monday and Tuesday off. I had Wednesday and Thursday as days off, so I’d be up for revile first thing Friday lunchtime, I told them. “Hah!” I whispered to my puking, squitting partner. “And a bit more work on this year’s NaNoWriMo, too.” I smiled, undead and ghastly. “I shall use this time wisely.”

It turned out that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I was stuck. Blocked. Staring at a blank screen. My mind wouldn’t form coherent sentences, let alone communicate important thoughts, wrapped in my usual attractive prose. Bastard.

Wednesday, I got up early and wrote around twenty-five hundred words. And I did the dishes that had piled up around us while we were sneezing (me) and squirting from both ends (her). We ate well, snuggled up and watched some TV. “I shall do the same tomorrow,” I told her, as sleep gathered us up in his warm embrace. “Just you watch.”

Thursday morning, I felt like shit. I stared at the blank screen, shook my head at it, typed a couple of words and stared at them, daring them to mean something. Around lunchtime, feeling even worse, I caved in and phoned work.

“Teensy wee problem, I’m afraid.” The entity at the other end grunted something. “Not convinced I’m going to make it in tomorrow, either. If I was anyone else, I’d think this was getting worse.” The entity nodded its great shaggy head (probably) and agreed that if I took Friday and Saturday off, Sunday was a day off and I’d be bright eyed and bushy tailed for Monday. I came off the phone and told my partner I was feeling shit but that I would try the lovely bacon roll she’d made me, perhaps washed down with a small glass of dark cola – because that’s good for settling the stomach.

The squits started around two. Stomach agony, sprinting up the stairs before all was washed away in the monsoon of arse weather. It was surprising – all the more so because I do not get ill. Diseases wouldny fuckin’ dare.

That passed and I went back to bed, partly to keep warm, partly to stay as near as the toilet as humanly possible. I was starting to feel a little sick now, too. My partner pronounced the final part of the curse. “Yeah,” she shared a sickly grin with me. “That’s how mine started, too.”

I was nonplussed. Hadn’t the disease come at me already and been found wanting on the field of combat? I’d had cold symptoms, which was, for me, tantamount to the black death. I’d fought this bastard off. Mastered the fucker. I was starting to feel nauseous and lay very still.

Around six in the p.m, I realised I was going to hurl. My partner brought me a bowl, which I accepted graciously, knowing that since I didn’t get ill, it could lie there, a stark reminder of just how hard I was – until I felt a bit better, perhaps the following day.

You know the bit in ‘An American werewolf in London’ where he changes? Gut slamming in, chest expanding, that. I grabbed the bowl and revisited the roll and the cola I’d trusted earlier. The smell was ferocious. You know how veggie bacon repeats on you? That. Pouring out of my face in what looked like a couple of pints of fairy Guinness that I had no memory of drinking at any point. The liquid stopped but my body kept on heaving, just to make sure. The smell was utterly vile. The pain was awful and my throat burned. Tears ran down both sides of my face.

When it was finally over, I placed the bowl that I probably wasn’t going to need back on the floor, lay back, and thought “oh well, at least that’s it out now. Better an empty hoose than a filthy, stinking tenant.” My partner emptied the bowl and for some reason brought it back. I shook what was left of my head. “That’s me emptied now,” I told her. “I’ll be fine in a minute.”

For the next six hours, I hung between horrific dreams and a damaged semi-wakefulness. Occasionally, I would hurl even more of the bacony hell-Guinness into the bowl. My guts hurt like drunk fairies had performed unnecessary surgery. By midnight, my failing body had one final surprise. More squits.

I staggered to the toilet (not having had sufficient warning before) and dropped onto the plastic. It was then I realised that the exertion was too much and I was going to throw up again. Since I was completely empty – and had been for hours – this filthy muck had to be coming from some parallel universe, these bastards were fly-tipping their runny garbage across dimensions, to my private guts, where I had to expel it when it turned up in me. I would phone the council in the morning. Or hunt them down myself. Make an example of the swine. It was then I began throwing up.

The experience of expelling waste from either end simultaneously was a new one for me but I was in no mood whatsoever to appreciate the novelty. However, I was able to make it downstairs and fill a small glass with ice water. Over the next five-and-a-half, six hours, I was able to either rinse my mouth with it or at points, even drink a sip or two of it. I hung in the limbo between half-awake and miserable, broken sleep, my mind regurgitating a smeared collage of ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’, various political figures and just plain darkness. From time to time, I’d check my phone, work out how long I’d been like this and, from that, figure out how much more of it there was to go. My partner had described it as a ‘twenty-four hour bug’ before heading off to the spare room, so I was at least half way through it. I would prevail. The fucker would rue the day.

All day Friday, I lay, like a half-shut knife. No energy, absolutely no appetite and every time I remembered the smell-taste of the used veggie bacon, I swore on the lives of my children never to eat again. I sipped water, I huddled under a duvet on the living room floor, I prayed for death to wrap me in its arms and to bastard well hurry up about it.

Saturday wasn’t much better. My partner, a picture of rosy-cheeked and sparkly-eyed health, the cunt, suggested a trip to Tesco. Thirty minutes of wandering aisles, toying with the thought of digesting something and I was exhausted. Weakening, I ate a small banana and it damn near killed me. I couldn’t understand this. I’ve always had a good relationship with bananas.

Sunday, I rang work and got the same entity. “No way I’m gonny be in one piece tomorrow. Sorry.”

The entity concurred and I said I’d phone back after I’d consulted a medic.

Turns out it was the cold that got me first, weakening me as foreplay for this stomach bug to come and rip my lungs out for me. Signed off work for a fortnight and I’m too bastard ill to even enjoy it. There ought to be a law!

breathe – pink floyd

By the time you read this, I’ll have been off the fags a week. Or perished in the attempt.
DAY ONE: No urge-to-smoke on waking. Didn’t even bother using the e-cig until i’d been up almost four hours. After finally using it, wrote scathing, sarcastic attack on the rebranding of the August bank holiday as Thatcher day. Pretty sure if George Osborne was available, I would’ve stamped on the cunt’s face by now. Patience might be a little short at this time. The next day or two might be a good time for people to try not crossing or disappointing me in any way, shape or form. Unless they genuinely want to walk with a limp, that is.
Later, walking from Queen Street to Central Station, whilst using my e-cig, I’m aware that these glaswegians probably think I’m a bounty hunter from the future, which is charming.
DAY TWO: this is seriously bizarre. I’m coughing up rainbows due to not having had a cigarette in around thirty-six hours – but I don’t feel any nicotine withdrawal. In my experience these go hand in hand. What *is* the world coming to?
Owner’s son-in-law and I compare our respective e-cigs and the price of ciggy juice in Fife and Ayrshire. This feels like being part of a secret society. I wonder if there are jazz clubs rendered smoky by lots of e-cig enthusiasts? I do hope so.
DAY THREE: Ah! Figured out which hole the liquid nicotine is meant to go into – this is much better. Of course, the tragedy here is, if you light a cigarette at a bus stop, the bus comes. Since there’s no waste or inconvenience in shoving an e-cig into your pocket, this spell no longer works. Curses!
That said, this is a brilliant system for delivering nicotine, without all that annoying cancer, heart disease and emphysema.
DAY FOUR: I bought some strawberry and some grape flavoured nicotine just for a change from the apple. One wonders how long I’ll have to wait for flavours like ‘high grade middle-eastern weed’ and ‘Bootle anti-personnel skunk’ to be made available. And, would it be possible to deliver THC through one of these?
DAY FIVE: Offspring informs me that liquid cannabis was available through silkroad, the much-mourned marketplace. He can’t remember the price, but it was presumably a little more than the three quid I’m paying for fag juice.
DAY SIX: Writing my daily journal this morning with a cup of tea and my e-cig – this is civilised.
DAY SEVEN: This feels like not smoking – without all that pent-up rage one gets when going cold turkey from tobacco.

smoke on the water – deep purple

At fifteen, I addicted myself to nicotine. If I’d got a tattoo at that age, I could apply to have it removed on grounds of diminished responsibility. Last year, I had three relapses with regard to nicotine. I stopped smoking in 2001 and since then, have had the occasional relapse. I hadn’t had one in three years when I broke last summer.
So, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve again been punctuating my life with roll-ups, objecting to the jones within my body that clamours for a maintenance dose of the drug.
Traditionally, I don’t *do* addictions. My pride is sufficiently strong that any attempt to force me to carry out any actions, purely for the sake of a temporary comfort, is anathema to me. For years, I’ve been able to start and stop smoking as I see fit. And now, part of the aging process seems to be my losing the drive to defeat these impositions on myself.
So I bought an e-cig system. And charged it. And even figured out how to use it without filling my mouth with a lethal dose of pure nicotine each time. Of course, there are roughly as many restrictions on using e-cigs as there are on smoking actual cancer-sticks nowadays.
Has anyone else noticed how badly smokers are thought of these days? We’re probably only a couple of years away from smokers not being allowed to marry and having to sit at the back of the bus.
My last-but-one relapse brought me face to face with modern thinking on this. The final solution to the smoker problem, as that nice Mr Hitler might have put it. It’s no longer enough to stand a few feet away from those not smoking, nowadays one’s expected to fuck off to the next town at least.
And what’s the most important factor in stopping smoking? Strangely, it isn’t public castigation, autos-da-fe and Warsaw pact era show-trials. It’s optimism. Which most people don’t get when they’re the subject of a daily two minutes’ hate.
Funny, that.

no sacrifice – nocturnal emissions

I’ve been rickety all week. Struck down with the gentleman-flu – the galloping gentleman-flu.
I have generated mucous from my face-holes, low-or-no energy and savaged concentration.
That said, writing up my daily journal this morning (I didn’t, right over the days-of-sickness) I found myself drawing on memories from saturday morning as if I was squeezing out fiction. And you know what? It felt great.
But by and large, I’ve felt like shit ever since the weekend.
Which is ironic, as last weekend was the finest birthday I’ve ever had. Three days of baccanalia, suffering and rejoicing. And as it ended, I collapsed. A further three days of coughing, choking and rivers of snot.
I don’t even buy into the Judeo-Christian paradigm, that all pleasure must be paid for – with pain, with atonement, with sacrifice. Nope, I still smell shite when I hear that noise.
I believe – because experience has taught me – that pleasure is an end in itself. That not all sex needs to end in pregnancy, that not every pint is a signpost to your hangover.

Why not read the novel that started it all? 1919 (inside)

A love story – on home-made acid – narrated by someone first used romatically, then set on fire, by the blue peter team, capering around the pyre like wrinkled vikings.

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