ViolenceV Sexual ContentS Explicit Language- E
‘Whispers on the Wind’ V ‘Sombre’s Noteriety’ ‘Yum Yum Part Two’ ‘Pandemonium Part 2: Alec’ Craig Hawes ‘Bryan Air To Neptune’ ‘The Artefact’ ‘The Picture’ ‘Life Begins’ ’Street Life 2525’
Interview Short Stories
Logo: Matt Evans Cover photo: ‘Distopia’ Annika Wilkinson Inside Front cover: ‘Band’ The Jonnie Squizzercrow Experiment Amanda Madison Karen Head Simba R Chibanda
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Kurt Jarram Rhea Phillips Christopher Moriarty Dave Shannon Scott Richardson Georgina Willis Margaret Moriarty Dave Shannon
Interviews The Johnnie Squizzercrow Experiment Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Eric Nolan Keri-Ann Edwards Clare Ferguson-Walker Christopher Moriarty Flash Fiction ‘Waste Collections Announcement 2525’ Co-Creators: Content Editors: Layout editor: Graphics and Layout:
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Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Christopher Moriarty, Keri-Ann Edwards Matt Evans Matt Evans, Joe Batsford
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Cover: ‘Winter Frost’
Poetry ‘Winter Haikus’ ‘Christmas Caricature’ ‘Christmas Haiku’ ‘The Christmas was Spent in Prague’ ‘The Homeless Christmas Alphabet’ ‘The Naming of Mothers’ ‘The Diet’ ‘Christmas at Ysgol Street’ ‘Looking Back’ ‘Chaternooga Choo-Choo’ ‘The Sound of the Shell’ ‘Brave’
Flash Fiction ‘Coming Home For Christmas’
Dave Shannon Dave Shannon Juanita McNeish Juanita McNeish Clare Ferguson-Walker Juanita McNeish Lois Carrington Karen Head Dave Shannon Lois Carrington Anna Broadbent Scott Richardson Raine Beckett-Murray Dave Shannon
EDITORS LETTER It is a bright cold day in April and the clocks are striking thirteen. The chimes can only mean one thing; the grand return of Bunbury Magazine. It has been a long road back but we promise you, the wait has been worth it as you will see in the wealth of talent on display in this Dystopian special. As well as our fabulous regular contributors, we welcome a host of new Bunburyists into the fold. From the fascinating ‘Ark Project’ photography session to futuristic waste management bureaucracy, the feast of visions of the future we present to you make for fascinating, sometimes terrifying indulgence. We also bring to you a festive feast this issue. Whilst we were on hiatus, we received some Christmas offerings from our writers which we lay out for your delectation. Just our way of keeping everyone’s favourite time of year going through the summer months, when the jingle of bells and glitter of tinsel still seems so far away. And, AND, we see the return of our fantastic serial authors. It’s a truly jam-packed issue do make sure you wear a bib. This year started with tragedy with the sad, extremely premature passing of Nigel Jenkins, a true diamond in the Welsh cultural crown. We have beautiful tributes from some of those whose life he changed in unforgettably wonderful ways. For now, we shall bid you adieu from our sparkly new headquarters in Manchester, complete with new Bunbury fishy mascot, Sherlock, and let you marvel at some truly masterful works of Dystopia.
Non Fiction Poetry Serials
- page 04
Christopher and Keri.
- page 06
- page Int: Cragi Hawes - page Art & Photography - page Short Stories - page
Int: Johnnie Squizzercrow
- page 36 CHRISTMAS PULLOUT - page 41 Int: Eric Nolan - page 51 Int: Clare Ferguson-Walker
Take care and keep Bunburying,
- page 55
- page 58 Tribute: Nigel Jenkins - page 59
Utopia, MXӓӌWιҒSѲιQRXQ 1.
an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect By its own definition (Oxford English Dictionary, 2010) Utopia is not a physical place but an imagined one, not a graspable object but a state of things. The word, originally coined by novelist Sir Thomas More in his 1516 book ‘Utopia’ is in itself a contradiction. Formed from the Greek word ‘ou-topos’ it directly translates to meaning ‘no place’. In comparison the identical sounding Greek word ‘eu-topos’ contrastingly translates as ‘good place’, giving the word a double meaning and instantly opening the question as to whether or not a perfect world can ever really exist (British Library, 2000). So, in this age of social madness, is it really possible to find perfection, to find a harmonious equilibrium throughout the world? More’s novel presents Utopia as a democratic civilization that epitomizes the importance of community, learning and self-sufficiency. To a modern day reader the book pushes forward some questionable ideals such as slavery and legalized euthanasia but to the 16th century audience Utopia was a fictional creation of the model society, full of liberation, living without wanting. The need for this fiction to become a reality soon took effect
and has spilled through the centuries into modern day living with considerable force. The notion of ‘Utopia’ forged the path for many future writers and the 17th century saw a boom in Utopian inspired literature. From Francis Bacon’s ‘New Atlantis’ to Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’ and ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’, free thinking had been released into society and the creatives of the century grasped this with both hands and began pushing and expanding the limits of human imagination and aspiration. It was this literary movement that sparked the first notion of Utopian ideologies becoming a reality. Life had been given to human dreams and desires developing any overwhelming subconscious belief that anything was possible. (Utopias of the European Renaissance, 2004) Moving onwards to the 18th century and these imaginary Utopian desires really did begin to weave their way into reality. A huge rise in revolution became apparent with social and political action coming to the forefront of society and leaders such as Washington and Rousseau pioneering for a fairer more equal world. These revolutions resulted in the publication of perhaps one of the most fundamental documents in the history of human rights, ‘The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’. It defined the rights of all humankind to be universal, valid in any time and of equal value irrelevant of your
ranking within society. Reading the declaration today it is easy to pass judgement on its flaws; slavery is still condoned and rights for women are equally lacking, however the document was an inspired first step in the right direction. (Goodwin, Barbara, Taylor, 2009) Song of Saltaire
Rear high thy towers and mansions fair, Thou gem of towns - renowned Saltaire; Long may thy graceful spires arise In beauty, pointing to the skies, For labour dwells ennobled here, Our homes to bless, our hearts to cheer. From morn to eve the sun, I ween, Shines not upon a sweeter scene. Then shall thy sires rest free from cares, The heritage of virtue theirs; Thy youths and maidens too shall prove The bliss which flows from constant love. In all thy pleasant streets each day Thy children shall in hundreds play, Or chant in song their hopes and fears, As time unrolls the coming years. Honours be thine, whose active mind This earthly paradise designed, For doubtful conquests kings may war, Thine is a nobler conquest far. As rivers soon return in rain, So, good deeds shall come back again; And thou shalt know within thy breast, Who blesses, shall himself be blest. (Unknown, 1872)
This brings us to the 20th century, where the campaign for equal rights continued. The suffragette and civil rights movements brought positive change to the social, ethical and political structure of the world. The 20th century is also seen as the age of invention and technology with advancements in medicine and communication coming thick and fast. After the deprivation and basic living brought about by the First and Second World Wars, society were no longer wanting to focus on survival and so attentions turned to material development and expansion. It was a time to unite as a country and celebrate our own achievements and success. We were finally free of fighting for freedom and rights and were instead able to focus our minds on developing and creating objects that would make our lives easier, our world more Utopian. This sudden surge in need for materialistic possessions gave cause for concern to some of humanity. If we carried on at this rate, full of greed, self-gratification and limited concern for the world around us where were we going to end up? What was the future of the human race? It was this doubt that gave birth to Utopia’s opposite and much uglier counterpart, Dystopia. (Oxford English Dictionary, 2010)
Dystopia, GѲVӌWιҒSѲιQRXQ 1.
an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one Much like Utopian literature in the 17th century, Dystopian literature proved extremely popular throughout the 20th with readers obsessed with the downfall of the human race. The birth of Dystopia gave cause to challenge the current Utopian ideologies highlighting the dangers of prioritizing the progress of technology over that of humanity. Today this concerning dystopian attitude can be seen in concepts such as Post-humanism and Orwellian beliefs; man versus machine. (More, T, Turner P, 2003) At first it’s easy to think Dystopia was created from human cynicism, never allowing ourselves to be fully content with our accomplishments. However, investigating deeper, it’s manifestation appears to be more of a subconscious form of protection, a warning from humanity to humanity of the world we could end up living in if we do not channel our Utopian desires in the right direction. The Dystopian attack on society’s views of the modern world has seen a reverse in some attitudes with a feeling of ‘going back to basics’ becoming apparent. A rise in interest and focus on sustainability and spirituality in the New Age movement of the late 20th century has given focus to wellness of the mind, body and spirit and a new appreciation for the natural world. Living off the land, sourcing food locally and using natural resources to fuel our homes,
Bibliography Bacon, F. "New Atlantis - Francis Bacon." Google Books. Ed. Alfred B. Gough. Web. http://books.google.com/books?id=ieXrK6lXaPYC Goodwin, Barbara, and Taylor. (2009) The Politics of Utopia: a Study in Theory and Practice. Vol. 5. New York: Peter Lang, Hole, J (1866) The Homes of the Working Classes, with suggestions for their improvement, London, Longnums Holroyd, A (1871). A Life of Sir Titus Salt. London: BLB. p21-189 Rosseau, J (1998). The Social Contract. London: Wordsworth. p10-140 More, T and Turner, P. Utopia. London: Penguin, 2003. Oxford English Dictionary (2010) Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Press Unknown. (2000). Utopia. Available: http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/21cc/utopia/utopia.html. Last accessed 03/04/2014 Unknown. (2008). Declaration of the Rights Of Man. Available: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rightsof.asp. Last accessed 4th April 2014. Unknown. (2004). Newbury's Digital Collection. Shakespeare's The Tempest and Utopias of the European Renaissance. 1 (1-10), p3-19
Whispers on the Wind Please understand, This is not easy for me to say. The tale I have to tell Is not easy for you to hear. I heard about the trouble, It came to us in Whispers on the wind. We hoped that it would pass us by But it didn’t. They came And massacred us. Butchered us. I was made to watch as they
Cut my parents down. My sister’s fragile body Felled in one swift stroke. The bodies were hacked to pieces And piled upon the ground. I alone survived. I feel such guilt, Such loneliness. Despair. They ripped my daughter’s heart ou, Hung it by a rope and Lashed it to me. Their children use it as a thing of pleasure.
Sombre’s Notoriety And I awoke and I wasn’t greeted. Rather, I was disturbed by chaos and anarchy. Dust my oxygen. Cough the orchestra. Violence remains the scene. It’s not that I’m not used to this. No, I’m disturbingly accustomed to it all; more so than the ones entering this place every minute and twenty seconds. In fact, I’m comfortable here. It’s my normality. Dust my oxygen. Cough the orchestra. Violence remains the scene. But am I awake? It’s hard to tell. My dreams are selflessly identical to this place. Insolent noise: chimes inside silence. I’ve seen these people before: their movements, gestures and debauchery are not their own. A pathetic Déjà vu. Dust my oxygen. Cough the orchestra. Violence remains the scene. Let these sky scrapers become modern trees, I hear them say, and the vast velds turn into concrete. And the cities become the jungles. We are the animals. Murder outs the coins and shuns away gold and assumes its position on the throne of legal tender. Around here women aren’t rare commodities, certainly not. But, nevertheless, commodities they are. Dust my oxygen. Cough the orchestra. Violence remains the scene. I see slaves, I dream slaves. I see holocaust, and I dream it. But I’m without dreams and without reality. I know not such things. Placed on this vantage point, I could be deemed the watcher. And Stupidity is my favourite thing to watch. It has a gift of hunting down only those predisposed to being less than enlightened. And when it finds its prey it masquerades as wisdom and sits comfortably on their laps, waiting patiently to do what it came here for. Dust my oxygen. Cough the orchestra. Violence remains the scene. Everywhere except nowhere we are all strawberry blonde, and the blood doesn’t stop pouring on us until we stop spilling it. Dust my oxygen. Cough the orchestra. Violence remains the scene. Welcome to planet earth.
KURT ETHEN JARRAM Kurt Ethen Jarram is from a Hell hole called Loughborough where he still lives with his mother in a house with no carpets. His work has been published by The Horrorzine on both their website and 2nd printed anthology Twice the terror. He has also had poetry published in the Chester based magazine Pandora's box, and has been invited to read at public events such as Hotch-Potch Manchester. All words of encouragement, words of discouragement, proclamations of love, death threats and other squigglies can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (No more E-Mail bombs, thank you.)
YUM YUM (Part Two) This all began when I was called into Bo's office one afternoon three weeks ago. Bo insists on having an old fashioned manual door to his office with his name iced in inch high letters on a pane of wire impregnated glass. A member of a group that's known as 'Nostalgiaphiles'. Those who are strangely obsessed with days gone by. The times that didn't suck quite so much. It looks rather absurd when compared to the full perspex, automatic doors of the rest of the building, but we all know better than to question his odd little fancies. When I approached the door it was already open and he spotted me from half way down the hall. “Ah, Trace. Come in, come in.” he said, beckoning me with a swipe of his hand. He was on his phone as I entered. The thin, wire microphone snaking around his cheek, seeming to get a bit lost in his greying, yet still healthily thick beard. Even as he gestured for me to sit down in-front of his long, low desk trimmed with synthetic, green leather he barked into the microphone. “Do you honestly think that I don't know what I'm talking about?” he growled “I've only been in this business for the better part of two decades. So give me a little credit when I tell you that corpses sell casts, simple as.” he paused for a moment as the person on the other end was obviously giving their reply. He took the opportunity to flash me a smile before turning his attention back to the caller. “Well then find some, arse-wipe!” he boomed but then sent me a cheeky wink “Well, I don't know. Drag a few from the slum around the corner and just say that they were already there!” he tapped his jaw bone to hang up then swivelled his chair to
face me. Another smile spread over his shaggy face. As much as I like the guy I can't help but be a bit freaked out by his beard every time I have to lay eyes upon it. These days beards being the badge of the great 'Have not'. Those who have truly given up on themselves. Given in to the hopelessness of their situation. “How are you, Bo?” I asked, returning his smile. “Not too bad thanks.” he replied “Not too bad at all. Yourself?” “Can't complain I suppose.” I said with a shrug of my shoulders “So, do you have a story for me or something?” Bo gave a single, short huff of a laugh. “Yeah, you could say that.” he said “I kinda need your help with something. Do you know Dean Brennan from upstairs?” “Err, yeah. Dean, of course.” I said, drumming my fingers across my brow as I tried to summon the guys face into my mind “Tall bloke, lazy eye?” “That's the chap.” said Bo “Anyway, he's dead.” “What?” I gasped “When? How?” “Last week. It's the strangest thing really.” Bo replied “Malnutrition. Stopped eating his 'Viscu-Pac'. Just...” he paused and rolled his hand over looking for the right words “Just wasted away.” “That's awful.” I said, twisting my lips. To hear of someone dying of malnutrition within us employed folks was odd. Yeah we're hardly the plumpest in the world, but one of us starving to death is a rare thing these days. Trying to put this out of my head I returned my thoughts to what was directly at hand. “So, you have a story for me?” I asked, a little more expectantly now. “I do.” Bo said with a nod “His.” he cocked his head and frowned in thought for a
second “Well, at least one that would or might I say should have been his.” I can't help but confess that my heart jumped a bit in my chest. Though I had to struggle to remember what he looked like, most of us knew that Dean had made a pretty good name for himself from covering the 2028 cholera outbreak after the Mersey went bad. “You want me to take on one of his stories?” I asked, but then checked myself “Though, I'm of course happy to do so.” I quickly added, a little worried that by asking I was shooting myself in the foot by perhaps unknowingly suggesting that I wasn't up to it. “How much 'Viscu-Pac' would you say that you eat on an average week, Trace?” Bo asked. Lacing his fingers together and resting his elbows on his desk. “Err, I can't really say.” I replied trying to come up with as accurate a figure as I could “I'd say about ten Tetras a week Maybe. Between six and twelve. Something like that.” “And do you like it?” “Yeah, I like it a lot.” I said “ 'At last, an answer' and all that, eh?” “But what is it exactly that you like about it?” Bo asked “Can you put your finger on it?” I pondered this question for a moment but couldn't come up with an answer right away. In-fact come to think of it I had often thought that 'Viscu-Pac' shouldn't actually be nice at all. It didn't look very nice. An oblong of peculiarly coloured, gelatinous stuff sliding out of the packet and onto the plate, coated in a clear, viscous syrup that usually collected at the bottom of the pack and required a series of shakes and squeezes to get every last drop out. It's not like it even
tastes particularly amazing. It tasted okay but it was hardly anything that can be describes as delicious or a delicacy. I shrugged my shoulders at Bo once again. “I don't know.” I said “It's just okay I guess, and besides, what else are we going to eat, right?” “Hmm, exactly.” Bo muttered under his breath and looked across the room with narrowed eyes “Anyway,” he continued, turning his attention back to me “Dean was working on a new story before he died. It wasn't one assigned by me or anything. It was something he'd come up with by himself and it seemed he was very excited about it. I only ever saw a title, he was quite secretive about what he was writing, but as I say, he certainly felt that it was something special as he he'd requested a three, maybe even four thousand word-count. That's a huge chunk of a cast I'm sure you'll agree?” I nodded and raised an eyebrow. That was a massive word-count. I'd never personally done anything over three hundred. Even the big guys only got around five to seven hundred. A thousand if it was a particularly big story. “So, what was the title?” I asked. Another smile moved over Bo's face, the biggest yet. “Short and simple.” he said “What is 'Viscu-Pac'?” I ran the title through my head and then gave a frown. “I don't get it.” I said “What did he mean by 'What is 'Viscu-Pac'?” “That's what I thought at first.” Bo replied “But the more I thought about it the more I started to become intrigued. Think about it, Trace. Have you ever read any reports, either from the government or where-ever, that shows the results of any testing on 'Viscu-Pac'? Any documents
explaining its chemical composition? Have you ever even looked closely at a tetra?” “Well, of course I have.” I said “I see the damned stuff pretty much every day.” Bo opened a drawer in his desk and took out an empty tetra. He tossed it over the desk into my lap. “Take a closer look.” I picked it up and looked at the front with the familiar crossed fork and spoon emblem and of course the slogan. “'Viscu-Pac'. At last, an answer.” I read aloud. “Turn it over.” said Bo with a twirl of his hand. I flipped the tetra over and looked at the back and now read what was printed there. “Directions for use: Simply cut along the line indicated to open. Remove product from packaging along with any liquid left in the container. Place under a medium heat grill for approximately ten minutes turning half way through. 'Viscu-Pac' goes perfectly on its own or with any other ingredients that you can obtain. Excellent when accompanied with...Blah, blah, blah. What am I looking for here, Bo?” “You've read out what's there.” he said “But you're missing what isn't there. What's missing from that packaging?” “Err, I don't know. What?” “Ingredients, Trace.” Bo said, giving a single, sharp tap on his desk “Nutritional information and so on. What's in this stuff?” “I always assumed that it was made of, you know, plants or something?” “Plants?” Bo repeated with a snort “What bloody plants? When was the last time you saw anything green that was worth eating around this place? And in abundances large enough to pump out as much as 'Viscu-Pac' does? What do you see around you? Weeds,
a few shrubs, and most of them poisonous at that. Also, think about it. If they were using plants of some kind, then shouldn't the factory be situated at least near a farm of some sort? But no, where is the 'Viscu-Pac' factory located?” “The Isle of Wight.” I said. “Exactly. It takes up the entire bloody island. Have yo ever seen a picture of it? It's massive!” “Okay, okay.” I said, throwing up my palms in mock surrender “I'll admit, you've got my interest. But what exactly do you want me to do to go about looking into this story? What kind of stuff had Dean already come to you with?” “Nothing.” Bo replied bluntly “Like I said, he was very secretive about the whole thing. But you're a resourceful man, Trace. You've never let me down in the past when it's come to a tough story.” “Yeah.” I said with a smirk “Mostly tough because the stories I get are so brain numbingly boring and I have to try my hardest to make them sound in the slightest bit worth reading.” “Oh, don't be like that, Trace.” said Bo, leaning back in his chair and stretching his shoulders “You know how I always say our cast needs people like you. To keep the old ways alive.” He balled up a fist and gave it a shake as if in some kind of triumph “To remind people of a time when good news still meant good news. A time when people turned to their media for something other than death and carnage, but for something that brought a smile to their faces for all the right reasons. That's what you do, Trace, and that's why I need you.” I wanted to call him out for 'Nostalgiaphile' rubbish, but the compliment had hit me in all the right places and left me sport-
ing a wide grin. “So, you're saying you think this may be a feel good story?” I asked. Bo ruffled his brow and stroked his beard with his thumb and index finger. “I don't really know what kind of story it will turn out to be. If indeed there's a story to be found at all.” he said “All I need to know is are you up for it?” A huge part of me wanted to just snap his hand of and say yes. I was telling the truth when I said that he had caught my interest. But I had to be clever when I considered this opportunity. For every day that I'm off chasing up a story that may well result in a big fat nothing, was a day that I wasn't doing my usual, mundane stories that, no matter how soul crushingly boring, paid my bills without fail. “I'm not so sure.” I said, at last biting the bullet “I mean, I need to make a living. As much as the soft stories beat me down at times at least I can always rely on the fact that it's me who's called to them. Doing this may put me out of pocket for quite a while.” “How much is Ryan making these days?' Bo asked over peaked fingers. “It's pretty steady.” I replied “But you know what human resources is like?” “I do.” said Bo with a nod “If we can be said to be abundant in any resource then it's humans.” Bo paused for a moment but the returned to scratching his beard. “I'll tell you what.” He said, shooting an outstretched finger at me “Take on the story and the cast will pay your expenses. How does that sound?” I wasn't exactly sure what this meant but Bo soon put my mind to rest “That is to say,” he said, now leaning over his desk “you write your own cheques. I'll give you a month.”
I left the office in the best mood I had been in for ages. Getting paid for whatever I want for researching a story that may very well amount to nothing? Who wouldn't be pleased? Bo must have been placing a lot of faith in me. Perhaps I wasn't just his go to guy for stupid stories, maybe he really did see some potential in me and this was the breakthrough I needed in order to properly start my journalistic career. To finally break into the mainstream and be recognised as a legitimate reporter. I still had no clue how I was going to do it. I knew bugger all about 'Viscu-Pac'. No-one really did. I guess that was what made the story so interesting. It was a chance to answer a question that no-one had really asked before. Now that's proper journalism! What I had pondered over as a lowly undergraduate, daydreaming of covering stories that would change the world. Ground-breaking occurrences that would forever be stamped with my name. I guess that's one of the best things about being a journalist. You don't actually have to come up with the ideas yourself, you just have to find them and then make them your own.
RHEA SEREN PHILLIPS Rhea Seren Phillips graduated from Bath Spa University in 2010, going on to write (and publish) a small selection of short stories and poems in various Welsh publications. She enjoys the horror and fantasy genre, particularly children's fiction. Who doesn't want to be a child again?
ALEC #1 My Father who is Lost The rain had started to gentle tap against the glass, and splashes of water fell through the open window. The study was empty, and all of his dad’s books had been put into storage and with them the remains of his life. The green walls and heavy oak bookcases seemed to shrink without any large bound books to clutter up their shelves. The desk looked lost, and absently Alec traced a finger across the splintering wood. It looked strange now that there were no papers hiding the desk from view. He had almost forgotten what the wood looked like, forgotten that the black stain in the far left corner had been because of his own clumsiness. Now someone else would sand all that away, and erase all the memories.
There was a loud curse from outside. His step-mother was outside loading the car; they were both going to have a family get together in a place somewhere near the sea. They were stopping by the train station to pick up her mother, a formidable woman who had always scared him. He had another plan though, he would escape and try and find his father. He'd disappear onto a train and get lost, never be found again; or, at least, he hoped so. He hated all the clichés of the evil step-mother, and he had to correct his grandmother more than once during the throes of grief as she spat curses at the woman who had once been her dear daughter-in-law. But that wasn’t to say he liked her. Their silence had been purely for his dad’s sake, and once he had died the ruse didn't need to be respected anymore. He had requested to be sent to a boarding school, and after University, then with any
luck they would never have to look upon each other ever again. She had denied him and very quickly dismissed the idea. “Your father would never forgive me.” She had said. But a lifetime with her had seemed too long and hard. He fingered the money hidden in his pocket; it would be enough to survive for a few days at least. Their relationship hadn’t always been bad. His mother had just disappeared one day, and after two years the police had claimed her dead…no point in looking anymore. His father had dissolved into a mess, and latched onto the only thing left of her. Him. Lynne had been there for them throughout the ordeal, she had always been too eager to please. His dad had always said that there was no such thing as bad and good people. People didn’t fit neatly into a category, they were mottled and scarred, and that a bad decision didn’t make someone a bad person. He wished he agreed with him. “Alec.’” His step-mother called, “are you ready to go?” He didn’t bother to answer her, and instead he just slid out of the chair and walked slowly out of the room. His eyes turned away from the shadows that danced across the walls. “I had been wondering where you'd gotten too.” She coughed lightly, taking one last look around before leaving the house. “I’ve packed a lunch for you. Do try to eat some, okay?” “Okay,” Alec lied. He slid his coat off the banister and put it on. Once inside the car he closed his eyes as she started the engine. He didn't dare look back at the house. “When is your mother’s train due?” He asked as they left his street.
“In about half hour or so,” she replied. She carefully checked her reflection in the rear view mirror and brushed a stray lock of blonde hair away from her lips. “There’s a traffic block.” Alec said, nodding towards the red lights just ahead. “Oh, right. Thanks.” She touched the brake and slowed down to a stop. He could have sighed and started an argument but instead he leaned back and stared out the window. People wearing a navy uniform passed him on the pavement. He would be walking with his friend about now to the same school. He would have met him at the end of the road and walked there, both grimacing in bored anticipation as they parted ways and left for registration. Briefly hewondered if he would miss him. “The train station is just five minutes away, will you be okay to walk down while I find a parking space? This traffic is just going to get worse. I’m going to try finding a spot down there, I won’t be too long.” She nodded towards a side street and scowled as a man behind her beeped angrily. “I’ll be fine.” He replied. She smiled and tilted her head, “well, be careful.” Alec smiled at her, and picked up his bag from the back seat, his constant companion. It held some of his father’s older journals. His step-mother didn't bat an eyelash; she should have. He had stashed more than just books inside. He was just about to close the door when her voice called him back. “Listen,” she said quickly, she raised her voice to drown out the car beeping behind them. “I know we haven’t been the closest of friends, but I don’t want you to feel as if you’re all alone. I’m always here to talk, and to listen. I’m making an effort here.” Alec nodded, and he wished that he had
the courage to take her up on the offer. Though he knew that he wouldn’t ever consider it because deep down he could understood why his father had felt the need to marry again, especially when he slunked off regularly to desperately search for his dead wife. He slammed the door shut and leapt onto the pavement out of harm’s way. The street was busy, and she had just disappeared down the side road. He could go anywhere; he could jump on a train for London and start a new life or catch a ride to Cardiff and disappear, like his mother had done all those years ago. Alec disagreed with the Police. You had to find someone first to declare them dead. He breathed in deeply. For the first time since the death of his father he felt lighter. He glanced around and hitched his bag further up his shoulder. The walk passed quickly, and he sighed in relief as he stepped out of the rain and into the warmth of the station. He had searched the internet for a departing train last night, and there was one going to mid-Wales. From there he would go on and disappear into the wilderness that surrounded the destroyed town of Aberystwyth. He was due to leave on platform four in, Alec glanced at his watch, five minutes. Heaving a deep breath he joined the throng of travellers and allowed the tide of people to drag him along. “Sorry,” he muttered, bumping into yet another student. He thought he saw his step-mother walk in, but he ducked down as the doors to his train opened and he crept on. The train was a cross country one; extremely uncomfortable and falling apart. It must be magic keeping the thing upright, but this, Alec thought, was Wales, and everything defied logic here.
A conductor blew his whistle from somewhere up the top of the train. When the train had departed the station, he settled himself down in the far corner of the nearby carriage, and allowed his bag to flop down onto the floor. It was going to be a long trip. He felt his stomach groan. His gaze lingered on his bag and he contemplated his lunch inside. He couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten. He had blacked out at the funeral and he had missed putting the rose on the coffin. His step-mother had taken his place. It had been the first time he had really resented her. In the distance the conductor blew his whistle again, and he noted with a small satisfaction that his step-mother would probably be frantic soon. He hoped he was doing the right thing. Another student sat down beside him and plugged in some earphones before burying her head into a large comic entitled Women of Wonder. Rain hammered down on the window with renewed passion and blurred the view outside. There probably was nothing to see anyway, just green fields and old industrial towns. He let his eyes drift closed, lulled by the hum of the girl’s music and the soft sway of the train. The ticket collector had started his rounds down the end of the aisle, and he counted some money out ready. He should have taken more.
A few months ago, Bunbury Magazine had the pleasure of attending the book launch of a collection of short stories entitled The Witch Doctor of Umm-Suqeim, written by the hugely talented Craig Hawes. Craig Hawes has spent the last fifteen years working as a journalist in London and Dubai, working for such titles as The London Evening Standard and Time Out. This is Craig’s first foray into the world of short-story writing and the first book of its kind to be written by an ex-pat living in the Arabian Gulf. Here’s what the man himself had to say about the collection and life in Dubai. When did you first realise your passion for writing? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy writing and reading, and always felt
that I’d at least try to have a book published at some point in my life. I have a wonderful memory of being given an assignment at school to write brief poems to be read out to the class. I think I was about eleven years old. One of mine was “An alien came to my house last night and gave me a laser gun/I blew my auntie’s head off and thought it rather fun.” Hearing the whole class erupt in laughter was a great feeling. What inspired you to write ‘The Witch-Doctor of Umm Suqeim’? Quite simply, I couldn’t find any fiction about expat life in the United Arab Emirates. I’m sure someone will write a great, literary brick of a novel set here one day, but for now most of the fiction coming out of this country is written by Emiratis (the local people), or Arabs from other countries. The stories in my collection are
written from the perspective of Western expats. To this day, it’s the only book of its kind. Would you say you have a particular style you tend towards? Realism I suppose you’d call it, although there’s also a ghost story in the collection, and a sort of adult fairy tale involving an Indian construction worker. I even wrote a Welsh sci-fi story a long time ago about alien sheep rustlers! I read very widely and I think this is reflected in my writing. I suppose I’m still a bit schizophrenic at the moment, still finding “my voice” - without wanting to sound a bit wanky. A collection of short-stories is a different beast to writing a novel, for example. Did you come across any difficulties when writing and compiling the collection? There was a gap of about one year in the middle of writing these stories as (A) I was waiting for confirmation from my publisher that they were going to give me a deal, and (B) I wrote ‘Jailbird Lover’, a radio play for BBC Radio 4. So I lost a bit of momentum at one point and had to get back into the habit of writing prose after writing a script. Writers should never stop writing. ‘Use it or lose it’, as the saying goes. You really do lose a bit of sharpness if you stop writing for long periods of time. The main problem I had, though, was coming up with a title for the collection. None of the individual story names worked, so I came up with an interesting title and wrote the story around that. It’s a ludicrous way to write a story and not one I would ever do again. I was happy with the
title story in the end, but it’s not one of the stronger stories in the collection, if I’m brutally honest. Arranging the order of the stories was a bit of a headache too. You left sunny Briton Ferry for the far-off shores of Dubai. What took you over there? Curiosity and adventure. Oh, and the weather. It’s perfect here for eight months a year. Then it turns into an intolerable cauldron of searing heat. I miss the greenery of home, though. The desert has its own kind of pristine beauty, but it gets depressingly monotonous after a while. Give me the verdant forests, valleys and lakes of the UK any day. One piece of advice writers are taught is ‘write what you know.’ Are the tales in ‘Witch-Doctor’ based on your own experiences in Dubai? Some are, some aren’t. Let’s leave it at that, lest I get arrested. Or divorced. Do you have any advice for people about to start a collection of their own? I’d encourage people to enter short story competitions. If you can get a few stories short-listed in well-known prizes it’ll be harder for publishers and agents to ignore you. Make them sit up and take note. Themed collections also seem to be more appealing to publishers, or ones with interlinking characters. Read every short story writer you can get hold of. Which authors inspired you to write and why? As a child, I loved Roald Dahl. Until I discovered him I’d mostly read Enid
Blyton (The Famous Five and Secret Seven books). Roald Dahl was seditious and mischievous and rude and all the things kids love. In my late teens I read George Orwell and Aldous Huxley and got a bit intimidated by the big themes they tackled. Then someone lent me a Charles Bukowski short story collection at university and I realised that you didn’t have to write dystopian fantasies or political allegories to be an interesting writer. Irvine Welsh’s Acid House was an influence on my story collection. I wanted to emulate its diversity. There are wildly different voices, different word-lengths, different styles and moods, from tragic to funny. It’s still one of my favourite collections. What was your favourite book as a child and why? Anything by Roald Dahl for the reasons listed above. I also loved anything about the supernatural. Did you take any lessons away from writing your collection? Yes, don’t come up with titles before writing the story. Never. You have also worked as a journalist for 15 years. How did you get started in that job? I did a one-year postgraduate journalism course in London after studying History at Portsmouth University and freelanced for a while. Then I got a staff job on a luxury watch magazine. I’ve worked for a handful of different publishers ever since, mostly on magazines, though I have worked for a daily newspaper for a couple of years. Starting out in journalism is tough. I did a load of crappy menial jobs to help pay the
bills when freelancing in London and at my lowest ebb I shoplifted a jar of Marmite from Finsbury Park Tesco. I really was that skint. But if you’re determined, you’ll get there. Has journalism ever taken to you memorable places and have you witnessed any stunning or shocking events? I’ve travelled extensively as a journalist, from Bucharest to Bali. Two highlights spring to mind, though. Diving with whale sharks off the coast of Djibouti in East Africa for a travel feature, and attending the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, which was a magical experience. I haven’t really witnessed any shocking events but I was in Beirut in 2006 a month before the Israelis bombed the place. So that could have been not so much shocking as disastrous! What is your favourite genre to write? Short stories, without a doubt. I always feel I can somehow pull it off when I begin one, that I can finish a draft in a few days and sculpt it into something complete. Every time I think about a novel, I question my stamina, my desire to see it through to the end. What are you reading at the moment? I’ve just finished reading Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain, which is about the restaurant industry. I’m not much of a foodie, I just love the way he writes. His first book, Kitchen Confidential, is a culinary classic. Next up is a novel: Bed by David Whitehouse. And then I’ll probably re-read some of Hemingway’s short stories.
I tend to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. What projects do you have in the pipeline? I’m working on a couple of ideas for radio plays, two new short stories (not set in Dubai), and I’ve got an idea for a TV sitcom – but then so does every writer I’ve ever spoken to. It’s becoming a cliché, “I’ve got this great sitcom idea”. Yawn. Is there anyone who particularly supported you through writing the collection that you would like to thank here? My wife, parents, family and friends have all been very patient. Oh and my editor at Parthian, Susie Wild, a very good writer herself. Where can people get your writ-
ings? Any online book retailer, and selected bookshops. Unfortunately you can’t get it here in Dubai as it looks like it’s going to be banned – that’s a whole other story. And finally, other than eating, name three things you would do with peanut butter. This is hard because I love and cherish peanut butter - even more so because my wife has a peanut allergy and I have to be extremely careful eating it around her. The idea of it being used for anything other than food is sacrilege. But here goes: (1) Smear a trampoline with copious amounts of the stuff and have a naked Zooey Deschanel and Scarlett Johansson wrestle on it.
(2) Blend some into the wax of a scented candle to burn at my writing desk (I love the smell). (3) Liberally daub some on the walls of a toilet cubicle in my local shopping mall as an obscene (and rather puerile) practical joke.
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY
CHARLEY WILLIAMS I am a photographer who likes to shoot the world as it comes; I believe the thrill lies in catching the right moment or angle, rather than creating something completely from scratch. I use my work to articulate responses to wider issues surrounding my subjects. Outside university, I currently work as a freelance events photographer, covering fashion shows, stage performances, club night and music performance. I have worked with human and animal subjects over my time at university, and I plan to travel to Nairobi after graduation to start a documentary project exploring the impact of poaching on individuals involved.
THE ARK PROJECT 'Ark' is a project exploring the inevitable human influence on animals living
within a zoo environment. Many zoos offer expensive 'wildlife' photography experiences, which invite attendees to zoom in close, blur the background and buy into the false reality of the wild animal within the zoo, while nature documentaries shoot intimate scenes within the safety of a zoo, while still encouraging us to believe this is true wildlife. My work uses juxtaposition to take the viewer beyond the frame of the average tourist photo, to purposefully include the unwanted human influence. Despite great efforts on behalf of zoos to maintain the illusion of the wild, the human impact is forever present. The animals know itâ€™s a lie, the zoos themselves know itâ€™s a lie, so why does humanity blindly buy into this illusion?
JURACH HOVORKA I am Jurach and I like to take photos of people, mostly when they are doing something. Sometimes I photograph other stuff, but usually not with that much enthusiasm. My main photo-project is called "Půlzadky" (that is czech - "halfbutts") and you can see it at http://cargocollective.com/jurach . I am from Czech Republic, I was born 1991 and I like to drink beer.
ANNIKA WILKINSON I’m Annika Wilkinson, a freelance illustrator and sculptor, I graduated from UWE Bristol In 2013. I embrace the vibrant live art scene, decorating walls inside, out from bars to festival murals including UPFEST and Brisfest. Electrifying, atmospheric and inviting, l specialise in portrait work. Emotive and fragile. I have always adored experimenting with different media and freestyle drawing. Bringing life to everyday objects, creating paintings you want to dive into.
I love to create a dramatic sense of atmosphere in my work. I have always been drawn to bright colours and bold textures. Expressive and intense yet dreamlike and surreal.
Bryan-Air to Neptune in Year 2525 ROBOT DROID: Good evening and welcome to Cruise Control: my Apps travel show. Travel doesn’t seem to have changed much over the years. Same old, same old....I mean five hundred years after my first travel experience with Dr Who, I decided to fly with my companion, Derek the Dalek on one of those cheap airlines. We had a “Two for one” deal to Neptune. Ever since I went on a Space Odyssey with HAL 9000 in 2001, I’ve been a nervous flyer so I decided to record the event; what follows is the transcript: Start of Recording SOUND F/X: ROCKET PREPARING FOR TAKE OFF MALE CAPTAIN: Good Evening. My name is Captain Priscilla Mayflower. Welcome aboard Bryan-Air’s Flight, PMS-Twenty Four Seven to Neptune: This is a Toyota Hybrid Methane powered Class two rocket: The green way to travel. Today we have four hundred passengers in standing and fifty bankers in First Class seats. Sit back, relax, pay up, and let our cabin crew take care of you. SOUND F/X: ROCKET TAKEN OFF & CRUISING
FEMALE HOSTESS: My name is Dick Steel and I’ll be looking after you today together with my four droids: Microslut; Rocky; Atheist and Dubya. Today we will be serving meals number 7; 32 and 73. Please hiss into the tube on your lifejackets, the number you want, deposit the 100 Euros into the slot and one of our droids will be delighted to bring it to you. As normal on these flights, all Alcohol is free. Today’s special tipple is Huang-Over, a cheeky little Chinese Chardonnay... SOUND F/X: ROCKET WOBBLING FROM WINDS: SEATBELT “CHIMES” ON MALE CAPTAIN: Good Evening, your Captain again. We are experiencing some turbulence as we pass Mars. First Class passengers the seat belt sign is on, please buckle up. For those standing; hold on to each other tightly; a good time to make new friends perhaps? In the event of loss of pressure an Oxygen mask will drop in front of you. Insert 500 Euros to activate. Enjoy your flight... SOUND F/X: ROCKET CRUISING SEATBELT “CHIMES” OFF
FEMALE HOSTESS: Toilets are now free on deck forty. To use, please have your hundred Euro coin ready... Just to remind all passengers that unlike our competitors; Easy-rocket; we have a generous baggage allowance of one kilo. Further kilos can be purchased once aboard; and if you recall; (Beat) With Bryan-Air, all emotional baggage travels free onboard... SOUND F/X: ROCKET CRUISING SLOWING DOWN SEATBELT “CHIMES” ON FEMALE HOSTESS: We will shortly be landing at Triton: 354,760 km from Neptune. Shuttle tickets to Neptune are available from the nearest Space station situated 400 kilometres away. SOUND F/X TRUMPET FANFARE- PASSENGERS CLAPPING; ROCKET STOPS MALE CAPTAIN: Err, Captain again: we are on time, again (PAUSE) However due to the strong winds encountered earlier, we have had to divert our landing from Neptune. (PAUSE) Regular flyers on this Bryan-Air flight will have noticed the view from the port hole is of Uranus...Apologies: We hope you... (FADE OUT) End of Recording ROBOT DROID: That’s all for you machines working tonight. Thank you to Mendax, our sponsors. So it’s good night, or as we say here in Norway: “Farvel.
The Artefact ‘Quarter of a million years of evolution.’ An exasperated Vrex watched the monitor showing the strange furtive being dodging amongst the verdant forest. He shook his head. ‘Wiped out in a few days.’ Tyk smiled thinly. ‘At least something natural happened. A clean slate is best. Especially for the next tenants.’ Vrex knew this. Frustrating though. After all that work, the interventions, the mistakes. And now they had to go back and start again… He wished he had died in the catastrophe. The earth had tumbled off its axis, flooding land with ocean and reactivating volcanoes that had lain dormant for aeons. Now the poles were switched and the electromagnetic field was reversed. No one had survived. Except him. He had been underground exploring a seam. The others had gone above, their footsteps echoing down the shaft when his life and everyone else’s were turned around. He regained consciousness in the transportation ship. At first he was told nothing, just left floating horizontally in a bare sterile room with curved walls. It was
dimly lit but he couldn’t see from where. He remembered thirst and hunger, then falling asleep. When he awoke again he was no longer thirsty and hungry. He had wanted to die. Then they moved him to a freezing cave, its entrance blocked by something he could neither see nor penetrate. A dark corridor passed beyond this invisible screen. An indeterminate time was spent languishing in boredom without even a shower to relieve the monotony. Yet he was always clean and well fed. He just couldn’t remember how these things happened. He was intrigued by the visitors that filed past his cave. Some were humanoid, many animalistic, a few were mechanical. Others were shapes of light. Groups of them like families. They were expressionless, but he sensed their reactions. He even imagined he heard them speaking, whispering, laughing. Once he awoke to find a bowl of gruel on the floor inside the invisible screen. It resembled soggy pencil sharpener shavings. As he examined his food he noticed a small bright light in the centre of the cave wall. It remained fixed on him while he tried to eat. It was still there when he vomited. It brightened and he fell asleep. The bowls of gruel continued to appear, and he always tried to eat them. The light was particularly bright at this point, and he felt he was being told things. But he never saw anyone except the guided tours that filed past his cave three times a day. He would always fall asleep after eating and awaken knowing something new. He became aware that he was in a galactic museum, and he was an artefact representing the lost planet of Earth. He began to argue with the light on his wall. Earth wasn’t lost, he reasoned. It had suffered a simple cataclysm – just one of several in its five billion-year history – and was still orbiting its parent star at the sedate pace of 66,000 miles an hour. The impassive light absorbed it all. But the next morning brought a strange disinclination to argue further and a nice smooth scar on his forehead. Reasoning ability was dulled, and his mathematical and social skills were reduced to degenerate levels. But he accepted it without emotion. His only reaction to anything was when the visitors ambled past his cave. Then he would gibber and rage, and pound the invisible barrier with his massive, hairy fists. They studied his soundless manoeuvres with detached, expressionless interest. The experiments began. Exposure to flashes of light from all angles of the cave walls, extremes of heat and cold. There were long periods without food and water. A range of strange sounds assailed him. Some were so high-pitched his eyes bulged from their sockets. Others were low enough to rotate his intestines. A strange aftertaste accompanied his gruel. But as they only fed him every third day now, he devoured it on awaking. On throwing down the steel bowl, he was twitching in spasms, brown vomit foaming from his mouth.
Once he awoke to the pain of something eating his foot. A monstrous rat was nibbling delicately at his toes. He seized it by its scaly tail and bludgeoned it against the rough-hewn walls. The spatter of its brain tissue told him he’d won the contest, and he roared to announce it. The light seemed very pleased with this. It beamed brightly in his direction and he ran to it, covering it with his mouth like a child on its mother’s nipple. He was instantly comforted. A hair-fine needle punched into his soft palate and he slid down the wall. He awoke suspended in mid-air in the dim curved chamber. He had just time to register its familiarity before he felt a floating sensation. The dim metal sky changed to blue and white and invisible forces buffeted him. He screamed. He awoke on a muddy valley floor in teeming rain. Droplets splattered him from overhanging vegetation and the ground shook beneath him. His keen senses identified it as coming from directly above. A metal dome with a single pulsing light diminished as it faded into the turbulent sky. Soon it was so small he couldn’t be sure it was there at all. He couldn’t see them, but he was watched constantly. Once they were satisfied his efficiency as a hunter and forager was developed enough for survival, he was provided a mate and instructed accordingly. Soon the valley floor was populated with their brood, which interbred and spread over the lands… A pensive Vrex watched the strange humanoid form shrink on his monitor as the craft lifted from Earth’s torrid atmosphere for the last time. How many more meteorite strikes and axis shifts before we get it right? he wondered. The dinosaurs and the Neanderthals were never going to work. And Homo Sapiens proved totally non-viable after all that early promise.
The Picture I don’t know how it came to this. How could my life turn out to be so complicated? It was meant to be easy; a nice house, loving family and a good man. But I guess things never truly plan out the way you expect them to. From the outside I look like the perfect housewife, but my truth is that I still think about him every day. I know that I sound silly, selfish really... So many people would give their lives for what I have; but I’m just not happy, and he knows it. He gets so paranoid now. I thought I was making the right decision. I chose Richard, the man with the prospects, a decent job, nice stable family who accepted me as one of their own. I do love him, of course I do; and he is a decent man. But I’ll never forget the way Andrew used to look at me. Andrew was different from any man I had ever met. I was 18 years old, a child really, when I met him.
I’d never felt such excitement, confidence, pleasure. But I gave it all up for the man with prospects. It really does give meaning to the phrase ‘listen to your heart and not your head’. My biggest mistake was logic. That regret consumes me each day. Andrew and I used to meet in secret, that awkward crossover between him and my husband. I was stuck in such a vicious circle. I vowed to stay away, stay with the man I had given myself to. Yet every time I saw him I couldn’t control my emotions, they certainly got the best of me. I loved Andrew. I loved Richard. But the love I shared for them both was completely different. Richard was stable and our relationship had already been set out so I suppose it was the easy way out to choose him. They say that nothing worth having comes easy. Andrew had no prospects. He was a rogue, a bad boy but with the sweetest heart. He was so gentle and loving when he wanted to be, yet forceful when he needed to be. He was just so strong back then. Yet I was not. We saw each other many times over the years, always craving what we could not have. Arguing over my relationship, he knew I was not happy. Why I couldn’t see that? It was so obvious to everyone except for me! How could I be such a fool? I thought my life would just sail on around me and I would forget about Andrew in time. So a year on I moved away and stopped seeing him; I cut all contact and threw myself into me and Richard, I thought I was doing the right thing. Damn the right thing. I was so wrong to think I could just switch off my feelings. Fifteen years on now and here I am, sitting in a bar with my wedding ring on my right hand hoping to get a glimpse of him. How pathetic. The barman told me that he knew Andrew, a lonely and unhappy man; a man with a string of women to fill a hole in his heart from many years ago and a string of criminal offences from his uncontrollable anger. Is this the Andrew I knew all those years ago? How could the man I loved turn to such violence and deceit? The man I loved... Fifteen years since I saw that lovable smile yet I feel I should correct myself and say he is the man I love. Andrew came into the bar after a while. I was sitting with a drink in my hand and butterflies in my stomach. Did he get my message? Did he come for me? He walked over to me, put his hand on my shoulder and told me I was as beautiful as the day he met me. He had missed me every day for the past fifteen years. The anger and guilt swept over me like the tides. It was in that moment that I realised he was the one for me, and he always had been. If only I had the strength to be with him all those years ago. The lies to myself have ruined so many lives. I guess being selfish sometimes is the right thing to do. He held my hand and we talked about all those memories that we desperately clung to. We laughed, drank, reminisced. I knew I was being selfish and unfair to Richard but in that moment I just did not care. I was
being selfish with Andrew for the first time and I did not trust in ‘the right thing to do’ any longer. When he kissed me the whole world around me crumbled. Here he was; my biggest regret and now it was too late. I could not leave Richard and my children. I had let my chance for happiness go many years ago, but I did not care. I wanted Andrew. My body and my heart yearned for him and I fell into his arms. We left the bar together and for the first time we consummated our love. There was no way around what I had done. I had betrayed my husband and my family for one night of true happiness and I could not tell you if it was worth it. Richard is a good man; yet he has the great ability to see past logic and work entirely from his emotions. He had always known that I loved Andrew when we started out and he never let me forget it. I gave up everything for him yet it was never enough. He was controlling, paranoid. I guess I was not surprised when I realised he had been following me on the night I saw Andrew. I guess a part of me was glad. Andrew was mine, always, yet I belonged to Richard. Until that day I never realised how much Richard owned me. I was his possession. Richard does not like other people touching his things. A week later I had still not heard anything from Andrew. Fifteen years or not, I knew him and I knew he wouldn’t abandon me after that night. I was worried to say the least. So I left in search for him. I went to his house, knocked on the door. There was no answer, but the door was unlocked. I’ll never forget the feeling of the crushing agony I felt when I saw him lying there. He still looked gentle. His blood spilled over the sheets in which we had been so close. I fell to the floor. I did not cry. I just sat there and thought about how our lives should have been. My Andrew, my poor sweet prince died for loving me. I heard steps behind me. I did not care. Someone spoke my name. I did not listen. Richard took my hand.
Life Begins… How have I let myself come to this? she mused, dragging her fingers through her unkempt hair and casting her weary eyes around the room. Tears welled in her eyes as she reached out and picked up the card lying on the table. It was dog-eared and worn almost to illegibility, yet she could just make out the faded print, Maxwell T. Clarke, IT Solutions. She flung it down with frustration and in doing so knocked over the picture frame with a clatter. Her face softened as she picked it up. The only thing in this room that’s dust free, she thought as she gazed at the image of the handsome man and laughing, carefree woman. She picked up the hand mirror from the cluttered coffee table, rubbed the dust from it with the back of her hand and gazed into it. What she saw horrified her. Sallow skin, lack lustre eyes with
bags big enough to carry her entire wardrobe, matted, shoulder length, greying hair and thin lips twisted into a bitter caricature of a smile. As she looked around the messy room with its piles of magazines, enough to open a newsagents crept into her mind, and enough dirty dishes to sink the Titanic. The radio seemed to mock her, ‘go on, turn me on, see what you’re missing out there instead of burying yourself alive in this dingy room.’ She rose from the rocking chair, stretched and switched it on. A cloud of dust choked her as her hand brushed the shelf where it stood, and as it settled she gingerly wrote three words in it, Stella and Max and let her mind wander. ‘And this is Miss O’Brien, our personnel officer and wages clerk,’ Mr. Browning the office manager introduced them. ‘No more bits of paper and mountains of filing for you, my dear, when Mr. Clarke has finished with us.’ Flustered, Stella pushed her chair back and held out her hand. So this was the whiz kid who was going to change our lives, she thought, well he can keep his new fangled computers, I’m quite happy with my bits of paper thank you very much! ‘Miss O’Brien has been with us for fifteen year and is the stalwart of our office, never let’s us down our Miss O’Brien, no husband or children to distract her, dedicated to her job.’ Stella listened with horror. Is that what they think of me, she thought, reliable old Miss O’Brien! Don’t they even know my Christian name after all these years? Well, I guess it’s true, thirty five years old and still living with my parents, for God’s sake, who can blame them for seeing me as the office spinster? She glanced up and just caught the look of amusement in his eyes as he took her hand and said very solemnly: ‘Very pleased to meet you Miss O’Brien, I’m sure I am going to enjoy initiating you into the wonders of the spreadsheet.’ She felt the flush start at her neck and creep up her cheeks as she snatched her hand away and knew that she sounded oh so prim and proper as she retorted: ‘As always, I will do my best to grasp the principals of the computer if it is in the best interests of the organisation, which I’m sure it isn’t,’ she muttered under her breath, and turning stiffly away she tried to concentrate on the rows of figures before her. Two weeks later and she had mastered the mysteries of the spreadsheet, tables, word documents and everything else that he had challenged her with. ‘You’re taking a long time in the bathroom these days,’ her mother had remarked that morning, ‘and is that a new suit you’re wearing. And my goodness you’ve put highlights in your hair! Have you got yourself a young man at last?’ Stella cringed. ‘No mother I have not got myself a “young man”, I just thought that I needed a change.’ The words slipped easily from her lips, but inside she was shaking. Today was his last day. I can’t keep up this pretence of not grasping the principals of inputting formula any longer, she thought, he’s going and that’s that.
‘Well Miss O’Brien, it has been an absolute pleasure.’ Stella took the proffered hand then snatched it away. It was lunch time before she had chance to retrieve the card from her pocket. Maxwell T. Clarke, IT Solutions, and on the reverse “Please, please ring me.” That was six short months ago and here we are in our very own love nest. Pity his job keeps him away for days on end. God the phone again, probably mother again asking when she should buy her hat for the wedding! ‘Hello, is that Stella O’Brien?’ The stranger did not give her chance to reply. ‘Don’t wait up for Maxwell, we won’t be sharing him any longer. His children are more important than his bit on the side.’ Click, and the line went dead. The stones rattling at the window made her jump, and she just made out ‘silly old witch’ above the sounds of giggling and running footsteps. They’re right, she thought, that’s what I’ve turned into, look more like sixty than forty, and then her attention was caught by the voice coming from the radio. ‘Over the past five years the computer industry has been the fastest growing phenomena for generations. They have transformed the way we live our lives and run our businesses……….’ They certainly changed my life, Stella thought, and then brought herself up short. ‘Why have I let that man do this to me?’ she said out loud, wondering at the sound of her own voice, ‘time to get a grip girl and sample this “transformed” world!’ Four hours of scrubbing, brushing and polishing and her little cottage was transformed. Two hours soaking in the hot bath and she felt like a new woman. Nothing I can do about the hair for now, she thought as she examined herself critically in the gleaming cheval mirror, still, looks quite classy like that, she encouraged herself as she scooped up the gleaming mass in her hands and held it on the crown of her head. Didn’t realise I’d lost so much weight, surely this skirt was a size twelve last time I wore it, just pull the belt in a couple of notches, that should do the trick. Now where’s that Thompson Local, I’m sure there must be one of those computer shops somewhere in the vicinity. She stepped out the front door, and nearly collided with the children giggling on the path. ‘Good afternoon children, can I help you?’ she said firmly, suppressing a laugh as they shiftily deposited little fists full of gravel on her path and sheepishly backed up towards the gate. ‘Oh, did you want my aunt? Sorry, she’s left and I’m going to be living here now.’ So saying, she strode off down the street. The bus deposited her at the shopping precinct of the nearest town and she quickly found what she was looking for. She pushed the door open and entered. Holding her head high she approached the counter behind which, with his back to her, was a middle aged man with thinning grey hair.
‘Can I help you Madame?’ The weary smile froze on his lips as, shoulders drooping, he turned towards her. Stella digested the sight. “Maxwell Clarke, Sales Assistant” proclaimed the badge attached to the threadbare suit. ‘I’d like to order one of your most up-to-date computers. I’m going to write my memoirs,’ she said in her haughtiest voice. ‘Now for the nearest hairdresser and “boutique” I think they call them these days,’ she thought with a chuckle. ‘Unlike some people, mustn’t let myself go!’
Street-Life in 2525 I thought I’d better tell you about Street life in 2525. In the year 2525 Streets are living, breathing entities. Yes I mean really they are. Look what better way to explain than to get a Street to talk to you. Here’s Reginald Street talking about his life: REGINALD Hullo, my name is Reginald Street. I have three hundred Eco-pods in my charge. A hundred on each side, and a hundred in the middle: It’s a New Affluent Workers class Social grade BC1 Street, which means all Eco-pods have no kitchens – just vending machines and large bins...But you have to recycle carefully. If you don’t, I am allowed to zap you and remove your pod...Like Mr Smith there, he’s about to light up... ZAP! ...Even smoke has to be green... Oh I see number 32 is home early. I just saw their rocket landing. They don’t work much nowadays. Found Shale gas in their lounge... I haven’t always been a street you know. I used to be a motorway, the M1. Now it’s just one place. My wife, Margaret Street, was a ring road when we first met, weren’t you Margaret... Margaret? MARGARET Sorry dear, I had trouble with Number 48, they’re oven is self-cleaning, but humans’ aren’t... REGINALD Poor Margaret, her street is Social grade C minus, the poorest and most deprived class group. Most residents are over 50 and work in finance... MARGARET They’re not all bankers dear. There are some nice people like the ones at number 11, the Plasma Donors for HDTV’s... REGINALD Her father was an Estate you know, very well to do...but she’s never got over the disappointment of our children
MARGARET What’s that’s? Children dear; don’t talk to me about children REGINALD I was just saying, our children, I mean Ethel‘s all right isn’t she? MARGARET For goodness sake Reginald our daughters an Urban clearway, nobody ever stops there... REGINALD No worse than our son Wallace Street... MARGARET He’s a letdown, fifty years he’s been a Cul-De-Sac; he’s going nowhere... REGINALD Sometimes Margaret, because your mother’s an Avenue, You think your above my station. Remember, your sister is a blind alley...Never even gets a visit from a Kerb-crawler! MARGARET Right Reginald; that’s no way to talk about the disabled, I’m off... and Asphalt to you... REGINALD: Oh dear I’m up that street again without a paddle. Never mind I’ve just got to put this sign up at my entrance... There that’s better. Let’s see what this sign says. Ah yes “Error 404 Road Not found,” Ah Peace at last... We leave our streets in peace, as any minute the Highway Environmental Hygienist is due here; that’s the Road –sweeper to you and me and of course the Street family.
The Johnnie Squizzercrow Experiment are based around North West England. The band came together as the result, of well an experiment, when bass player/writer Guy started to share music on line. This was his sort of music, the sort of material that bands he had been in before had never felt comfortable playing– brash, raw rock and roll. This set, featured on the website http://reverbnation.com/johnniesquizzercrow, has resulted in 1 EP and 3 singles with each receiving a good reception in terms of sales, downloads , radio play and reviews. Within 10 months this set had received over 50,000 hits on sites such as reverbnation and soundcloud (after nearly 2 years this is now ~200,000 plays) and, somewhat dazed and amazed at the level of interest, he decided to put a band together in order to take the music “on the road”.
The band came together very quickly: Lynn on drums joined first. Next up came Debz who started as an extra for eating chocolate kebab video and quickly became our singer, and what a singer she is too! Last but not least came Dave, a guitarist who somehow manages to sound like there are at least two other guitarists on stage. The band have an incredible chemistry and after only 7 or 8 rehearsals had a whole set nailed and were polished enough to release an EP of rehearsal recordings. The road to playing live wasn’t quite so rapid due to a longstanding trip to Australia for Debz but, ignoring a few appearances at open mic nights, the band finally made their live debut having been invited to play at a pub-hosted festival in Buxton in late August 2013. September saw them recording another live rehearsal set—which can be heard at
http://squizzercrow.org/secret.page/ Although intended solely as a demo, two of the songs from this set, ukillme and horrid nasty and jealous, were released in December 2013. This release has been enthusiastically received by old and new fans alike in terms of sales, downloads , radio play and reviews. More gigs have followed in Salford, Manchester, Leyland, Blackpool, Alfreton and Oldham. As well as repeat bookings the coming year currently includes dates in Liverpool and at the Cosmic Puffin 7 and Kozfest 2014 festivals and the band are working hard to add to that schedule. The bands next single, due for release in April, will feature 'God is on the Case'; one of the bands most popular live songs. Although essentially the same recording as that which appears on the demo page it has been remixed by a major New York based studio who contacted the band after stumbling across a live recording of the band playing the Velvet Undergrounds ‘Sister Ray’ on youtube. Tell us about yourselves. How did you start the Johnnie Squizzercrow Experiment? Guy: Lynn (The Drummer) and I were in a band together but we weren’t really interested in what we were doing with them. One day, we were jamming and we just started playing stuff we didn’t have chance to do in the band. Apparently songs can have choruses! We quickly came up with a song called Eating Chocolate Kebab. Debz was an extra in the video and she ended up being our singer. Dave (The Guitarist) got involved and we just started playing together really. Dave: I come from a blues background. I
was playing ten years before I was born. When I first heard Johnnie Squizzercrow, I really liked it. They drew influence from a lot of different places and I just knew I had to see these nutters. When I first started playing with them, I asked them what chord sequences they use. They just looked at me and said ‘Nah!’ At first I felt a little out of my depth with the utter freedom but as I got into it, I just started doing my own thing. Where did you get the name from? Guy: Actually we were thinking about this ourselves and we think we figured it out. We were looking at the names of covers bands, as we were going to see a ot of them at the time, and they all seemed to take their names from Clash songs in particular.
collection of rhythms and melodies that people feel compelled to move to. Our music isn’t about anything clever, it’s just stuff people can tap and dance to. Another answer is that we are dirty rock-and-rollers. Dave: I’ve never been in a band like this where I can use jazz chords, dischords, dissonance and the positions on the fret I get to use with Johnnie Squizzercrow. It sounds like you have a lot of fun. Dave: Don’t get me wrong, I hate rehearsing but when you get to a gig, I really love it. If I could play every single night, I would.
One of our friends suggested using google to find a name, something random. Then one day I was talking to a friend in wales about black squirrels, which were invading at the time. She called them ‘Squizzers’, we added the crow for obvious reasons. To go with that, Johnnie just seemed like, well, a reasonable name. We added the ‘Experiment part because we want to throw the rule book away. Dave: Playing with these guys is so freeing – ask my why and I couldn’t tell you. I can also be very frustrating but every time we play together it’s an experiment. How would you describe the music you make? Guy: There is an American producer that calls what we do ‘organic’.If you think about the roots of blues and folk music, often it is about some kind of motif or story. We don’t do that really. Music is a
Talk us through the process of writing your music. Dave: Well there isn’t one really. I ask Dave to send me some stuff over so I can have a play about with it, get to grips with it but he won’t. At the last rehearsal, we just thrashed out 3 new songs. I’ve never learnt like that. Debs gets some words and that’s how we learn. Guy: That’s not exactly true. I turn up and play something and these guys turn it into a song. Dave: I keep saying it but I really am surprised at the freedom of creativity. I’ve been in bands where the basic premise for songs has already been there and it just stays. In JS, we really are experimenting every time we play a song. We could play the same song three times in a row and it would be something a little different each time. So do you write lyrics for the music or do you fit music around lyrics you have?
Guy: If someone has got lyrics that yeah, but to me, vocals are another instrument, another part of the music. Not just a collection of words they tend to be an idea to work around. You wouldn’t know it to look at the words in some of our stuff but they mean something. For example, our single ‘UKillMe’ has very tangible lyrics – it was originally called ‘Stalker Blues.’ What have you got lined up for the future? Dave: For me, there’s no end goal really. There’s no big aim to it, it just love playing with these guys. I’ve basically gone from playing in a tent with Bob Dylan on the Isle of White in 1969 to gigging with these lunatics and I love it. The bigger venue the better for me though. I would rather play to one hundred people for free than to ten
people for £1000. It’s the enjoyment of playing. And finally, apart from eating, name three things you would do with peanut butter. Dave: You really want to know? No, there are so many thoughts running through my head that I can’t say here. Guy: You could make satay sauce, I suppose. Dave: I’ve been known to eat and entire jar of the stuff in one sitting. I’m a pensioner with a bus pass. A rock-and-roller with a bus pass. Guy: What’s that got to do with peanut butter? Dave: Fuck knows. I could dip my bus pass in it.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE JOHNNIE SQUIZZERCROW EXPERIMENT:
ing and mad, rather like someone putting The Bends by Radiohead into a microwave"
"Deliciously avant-garde with that great punk essence of the defiantly uncommercial. Full of paradox, attitude and originality and nothing short of absolute genius, love it!"
"Ok here we go, the heavy grinding, smoky bass grinds its way into your face, cool as fuck with a ciggie hanging from its Jack Daniels soaked lips"
"I'm genuinely surprised at your sound.... It takes me back years when times seemed to be more musically inspired...." "The official website describes the whole thing as an â€œexperimentâ€? and that is a perfect way to describe this. It is intrigu-
"It offends my ears" To find out more details about gigs and how to get a hold of their music, head over to: http://sandbox.squizzercrow.org/ To listen to them experiment for yourselves, get yourselves to: http://www.reverbnation.com/johnniesquizzercrow All photos courtesy of the Johnnie Squizzercrow Experiment
Winter Haiku’s (2)
Sleeping cat curled, Tail flicking. Autumn leaves still falling Torn in winters half, Split by moon’s shadow Reynard, curls till dawn.
Christmas is coming; the shops are full of tat. No-one puts a penny in the old man’s hat. No time to stop and toss a coin, or give a second glance. Too caught up in this annual, wild, obscene commercial dance.
Christmas Haiku Stoat’s white winter coat Preserve of the privileged Ermine (f )or vermin?
That Christmas was spent in Prague That Christmas was spent in Prague, away from the expectation of cracker pulling, pudding glow up lighting the mask grins of kin only sharing space for this festive machine grinding, as some ancient prophecy will smite us in our separation? Well to hell with it I said, they’ve got the bloody telly, Mary Poppins in for a sherry, Ben Hurr, Gold, Frankie Boyle and Murr, Like a cock ready to fight with a spur, we’re off on a plane, That giant metal dove, seeking peace for all beings, from my mothers moaning, I spill my drink, they clean it up and not a tut in sight, or sound from my carved from stone father, we’re going farther than our shores, no wreaths for the doors, it was all sparkly new, horse drawn carriage, ice-skating, romantic candle light and not a fucking sprout in sight! Is there a reason that the festive season seems like a tinsel cage, Guilt and duty all the rage, a passion of the Christ’s fashion to hang on the woody cross of Hanging around with my parents who don’t give a stuff about spending any other day with us, But there in Prague, with towering fairy castle grandeur, mulled wine, bratwurst, blown glass splendour, I was your marionette, the strings willingly given and yet, like the bloated Carp we watched writhing in buckets of ice water striving for a last gulp of life, This drop of time was a fleeting flake of snow ready to melt into a warm memories glow for next year we would be bound again, by the shakles of tradition, another bloody mission to play host to that pair who went through exactly the same routinue, like the angel chimes spinning, the bells keep on dinging, pattern keeps repeating. But not that year, we remembered our liberty is but a choice away, let that be the peace on earth that is remembered each day.
The Homeless Christmas Alphabet C is for the cold that seeps into my very bones. H is for the hopelessness that won't leave me alone. R is for the right to work, the way it used to be. I just want to have a job and not live off the state you see. S is for the snide remarks I get from working folk. T is try it for yourself it really is no joke. M is for the misery, no job, no home, no fun. A is for antipathy from almost every one. S is for some self-esteem I wish that I could get. Let this be the year I get to tear up my Christmas Alphabet
The Diet The Naming of Mothers I used to be called 'Mummy'. I still hear the clear little voice. 'Ba ba? Ba Ba! Baaa Ba!!!' You couldn't pronounce it. As you grew it became 'Mum', and I was so proud of you, Then I became someone I didn't recognise. Someone I began to hate. 'Mother.' you would demand In that haughty exasperation, as I funded you through uni. Now I am reduced to three Crosses on an email, That you've no time to read. What am I called? I no longer have a name.
Another crumb, another bite, Another pound put on. A morsel, just a tiny piece. My willpower has gone. A sliver, it won’t matter If I cheat now and again. A spoonful, and another, well… What’s one more once to gain. A nibble. No! A mouthful. Not too much, just a bit. (As I wear another kilo Around which my clothes won’t fit. A forkful, then a finger lick, From food I can’t refrain. Now I’ve eaten half my kitchen… Guess I’ve blown it once again.
Christmas at Ysgol Street At Christmas, the meandering smell Of roast Turkey and cabbage; permeates The thick walls, hiding simple feasts, Heaped on Granâ€™s best dinner plates! At Christmas, the Chapel bell rings Briskly, as old men shuffle, clicking Their dentures, smelling of mintoes, Puffing flavoured breaths into cold air.
Looking Back You would have loved it Being so centre-stage Everyone there to chat "Not popped you clogs yet Mavis?" Always the joker, eh? You would have sung your heart out. "Onward Christian Soldiers" Giles came. Katherine too, And the vicar, Jolly in her Christmas robes. Sandwiches and trifle in In the middle of the morning. Uncle Stanley tucking in. You should have seen How full the place was. Rows of cars outside. And a big one, a rolls, All for you Mam, With your own chauffeur Christmas eve morning Is a lousy time for a funeral. But they all came Mam They did you proud.
At Christmas, the paper-boys no longer grunt and groan under the heavy loads. No more weaving up the hill; bulging Burdens of heavy printed papers, slung low... Tired: They sleep with round cherry faces, dreaming of the gifts others shall bring.... Merry Christmas....
Chatternooga Choo-Choo Angry rain has been attacking, stabbing at the tarpaulin. From the sides a tantrumming wind pushes at marquee walls, they bulge threateningly. Old men’s lips on trumpet and trombone lovingly recall tunes from the 1940s, Glenn Miller style. She is sixteen and bored without younger company. Her mother is sleuthing for a new boyfriend and needs her confidence boosting, the only reason she agreed to come this evening. It is dark and wet outside, beyond the canvas no light. The headscarfed woman, seated at the trestle table by the door, languidly tearing raffle tickets, offers a torch, barely looks up. Otherwise her departure is not noticed. First find the toilet then she can step onto the promenade, watch the breakers if the moon rises; maybe make out through the curtain of drizzle the beached airplane , recent subject of such thrilling gossip. Once located the green box envelops her in silent privacy. Impatience was gathering in the damp, feet stamping for warmth on the glistening pathway. Brrr! it’s cold and miserable out here. Why are we waiting? The alcohol infused queue shivers. They’re all locked – that one seems to be stuck – I’ve knocked but no reply. Either side the Portaloos empty and refill several
times. Someone expresses concern Do you think we should try and get in, just in case, you understand, I’d hate to think someone was unwell? The security team search one another’s faces. Listening to old fashioned music would be better than standing out in the weather. Reluctantly they locate a crowbar, apply pressure. There’s a light – must be a torch! Hello there! Hello. Hello, can you hear me? Bang, bang on the plastic box until it shakes – a limp white hand comes into view. Hells teeth! Call 999 for an ambulance. See if you can find a doctor. Panic tightening his vocal chords. Pounding footsteps. The cry goes up, echoing into white walls. Anyone here a doctor? We’re looking for a doctor. There’s been an accident! It’s a small town. A few hands point, he is located and dragged away from his pint, straggling hair, unbelted waistband, age, struggling to keep up with the urgency. In spite of the rain it is a warm October night. Leaving the canopied entrance he has a sense of faces gathering in the mist, dismisses with impatience the public’s idle curiosity. Serious and sober now he runs purposefully towards the temporary toilet cubicles. Holding her wrist he feels the smooth plumpness, the cooling softness, no vitality, no pulse. Plastic has been
laid on the pathway to reward their struggle with collapsed limpness. Reverently she is laid on the cold cobbles as he grabs the disregarded torch to check pupils, start chest compressions and mouth to mouth although all realise the hopelessness persuading him to halt exertions that are causing so much distress. Eyes closed and at peace she is still recognizable as the girl he tangoed with earlier. He wants her warmth to return so deeply it is like a pain in his chest. With a shuddering outpouring of loss he looks up to see a slightly older, slimmer version, of the same young woman rising, arms outstretched toward the crowd, their greyish, insubstantial features moving as fog through the evergreens lining the park. Dead, dark eyes declaring them ghosts. Shoulder high above the others he notices a familiar face, the peaked cap of an officer in the air force. Long arms reach out to envelop the young woman and as his parents embrace, the restless crowd, the mists, dispersing, are absorbed into the big band sound. Much later, several days later when sorting his affairs, folding his clothing for the charity shop, his wife felt a heavy object in his trouser pocket. After some impatient tugging it lay quietly in the palm of her hand. An old fashioned torch, its batteries long since expired and rusted.
The Sound of the Shell Daisy thinks the shells embedded in the wet sand look like the buttons on Grandy’s sofa. She carefully extends her foot and presses the pad of her big toe on the nearest one. It sinks like that biscuit in Daddy’s tea. Warm foam tumbles over her feet and washes them clean. The eight-year old in the pale blue costume shades her eyes and squints into the distance. The beach is busy, and curves along the frothy white line of the ocean. It is Boxing Day, and an untidy scatter of coloured parasols, sunbeds and shades of skin shivers along the deep white sand of the Phuket coastline. She turns to her left, blocking the sun like a saluting soldier. Her parents sit at the palm-shaded beach bar with another couple, nursing hangovers behind sunglasses. A grinning Thai passes cocktails to them. Daisy’s mother and the other woman give an expansive wave. Her father gingerly drinks his cocktail and smiles with the Thai. The other man smiles at Daisy’s mum. Daisy waves back. The next shell is some distance from the one under her right toe. To reach it she has to really stretch her left leg and a little further out, like doing the splits at an angle. If she makes it, Mummy and Daddy love her. If she misses, they don’t. She tests the distance with her tongue as she extends her foot. She goes so far that she is committed, beyond the point of balance. She lunges forward and her left foot arcs down on the next shell, her right leg races up behind to steady her.
She smiles in excitement and looks for the next one. It’s over to the left, so she pivots her left foot on the shell and reaches out with her right like a stork. Her tongue probes the distance like an antenna. The sun is small and fierce in a cobalt sky, the sand almost white in reflected heat. Sharp colours of sunbathers shift between the sea and the sand, losing height as they go into the water, until their heads are like buoys that bob in the waves. Daisy lands on the next shell. Grandad and Grandy love her now. Now for Uncle Don and Auntie Sandra. She looks along the curve of wet tea-coloured sand for the next one. The gleaming button of the next shell has disappeared under the spreading fingers of a wave reaching up the beach. Lying in its place is a large white object, oddly shaped, left there by the retreating waters. It looks like a crushed milk carton. She frowns in worry. She loves Uncle Don and Auntie Sandra and if there is no shell to stand on, then they can’t love her. She thinks about this. But it can’t be her fault if the sea steals the button shell. The sea has cheated. Satisfied with immunity through this rule, she steps off her shell and runs towards the object. The milk carton is a large shell. She kneels in fascination and pushes it on its side, revealing a deep pink hole clotted with wet sand. She runs her fingers over it. The surface is sharply ridged, rough yet smooth. She yelps and snatches away her hand as a corner pricks her finger. A bead of blood oozes from her skin, swelling into a small red pearl, bursting into a thin runnel that lightens to deep pink down her wet finger. Daisy sucks the blood and scowls at the shell. She gently places her hand on its spiky surface and sees how big it is. She remembers her Daddy’s hand and how it completely covers her own. This shell is like her Daddy’s hand – rough-smooth, and sharp like his bitten fingernails. She strokes the sand away from the mysterious deep hole and carefully lifts up the shell. Her Uncle Bob tells her shells are the homes of sea creatures. They live in them while they grow, like she does in her Mummy’s tummy. And when they were big enough to swim, they crawl out of their homes and go away to sea for good. Uncle Bob says she must never touch a shell that is dark inside, because it is still somebody’s home. Daisy peers into the hole. The strong sunlight filters through the back of the shell and lights the front of the hole with an opalescent pink glow. There is nothing dark in there, so this shell isn’t anyone’s home now. It is an empty house. And her Daddy tells her that anyone can have an empty house. Only as long as they have enough money to buy it, said Mummy. She holds up the shell to her ear. Uncle Bob says you can always hear the sound of the sea in a shell, because that is where it comes from. And sometimes if you listen really carefully, you can hear the whispers of
the little creature that lived there. She stands at the edge of the lapping waves, her toes oozing wet sand, listening to the shell. And she frowns because it doesn’t really sound like the sea. It is too hollow, like the sea is inside something and she listens to its echo. It reminds her of their toilet at home, the way the little box on the wall hisses after flushing. She peers at the little hole. Perhaps there is something in there after all. She purses her lips and blow hard inside it. She flinches as something spits at her. Daisy drops the shell and wipes frantically at her face. It is sand. The hole is blocked with sand. She picks up the shell and listens again to the hole. The sea roars in her ear, like the wind that whoops down the chimney and fans the fire at Grandy’s house. But it is a whistling roar, high then low, high then low. And it reminds her of the little paint-spattered radio her Uncle Tom uses when he decorates, and the sound it makes when he changes stations. He makes her laugh by imitating the snatches of voices as he spins the dial. She presses the shell to her ear and sees it is just like Uncle Tom’s radio. She thinks she can even hear a voice there, repeating the same thing, like a whispering roar: RRrrrrRRR...rrrRRR...rrr She almost drops the shell as a wave rushes around her legs. It foams energetically up to her knees and stretches beyond the sunbathers right up the beach. Everyone leaps in surprise as their towels, clothing and books are disarrayed. Many begin shaking sand and water from their costumes and towels, others gather up their belongings and haul them back up the beach through a new tidemark of cold, clingy sand. But Daisy is engrossed. RRRRRrrrrruuu...RRRRrrrruuu Another big wave comes, breaking hard on the sand and knocking Daisy off her feet at the waist. The shell splashes into the foam and she flounders for it. Its rough whiteness quivers under the shimmering green and she gathers it in both hands. But this time the sound doesn’t come from the shell. ‘Run! Run!’ So she does. She runs excitedly to her Mummy and Daddy, holding her new toy up for them to see. Around her, everyone flees the mess of flattened parasols and soaked clothing and towels. Some are rooted, looking quizzically towards the Pacific horizon, and the inexplicable darkness of the building, deadly sea.
Brave I could feel his breath on the back of my neck. Breathing. Breathing… Standing in the fierce heat of the day, I could only imagine what it was like all those years ago, distant memories. Strangers in a new land, encountering the indigenous people, different to an outsider’s eyes. Strange
language. In touch with the land, hand in hand with nature and its habits. I once heard a story of a man who saved so many people he didn’t know. He saved them from his own people who defended these lands that fed and sheltered them. The reservation was long gone, lost to the incomers who took over because they thought they knew better. Then the drought came. Then the disease that killed most of them. But the man knew better. He knew where to find the medicine to heal the ones that were left. His own people didn’t want him to help them but they knew not to cross this man. He was big. He was powerful. He was wise. So he saved them. They grew strong again. They grew to be many, but in their greed and ignorance forgot his kindness. Then the battles began. The battles were bloody. Many perished from both sides, but the man survived the battles except for the last battle to be fought. He fell here where I’m standing now I can still feel his breath on my neck. I can still feel his presence with me. He is trying to tell me about something. Something important I need to remember. I knew of his kindness, his bravery, the love of these lands and his people. He touched my hand. It was cool in the heat of the day. Why did I know so much about him? I could smell him now, his musky scent reminded me of a time so far away. Distant memories. A time of love and battles… My brave warrior had come to take me home, home to the prairie. Somewhere in the battle, the one he fell in, I was taken, lost without him near. He has come to take me home. Then as I turned, I came face to face with the man I fell in battle with, the man I loved so much all those years ago. My Brave.
Coming Home for Christmas? Maybe, just maybe it’s today? He wasn’t sure whether it was the cold of the late December evening, or the sheer excitement and anticipation of seeing the “Dragon” again that made him tremble. The boy was well wrapped up, mittens, woollen beret, thick duffle coat, his Gran’s brightly knitted scarf wrapped tightly about his neck, but he still shook. Clunk! The noise of the points changing made the boy jump. Swish; Clap; Thud: First the orange signal dropped; Swish Clap, Creak and a final Clunk! The green signal had dropped; He knew it was coming soon. There out of the blackness, the distant lights grew ever brighter. The rails made a scratching noise, slight at first, slowly getting louder until the shriek of the Dragon’s whistle drowned it out. Three times it blew, the London to Swansea Red Dragon Express. Briefly the name was proudly displayed on the engines smoke-box, as it hurtled along pushing through the darkness. Sparks flew from seemingly everywhere; chimney smoke was whisked away in an instant, too busy to hang around he thought. Massive wheels spun, pistons punched, the noise was tremendous, exciting, deafening, all encompassing, everything shook; he did. Carriages lit, the silhouettes of mysterious strangers quickly flew by. Then it was gone almost in an instant. The boy watched the red light of the last carriage disappear, and then silence, darkness. Feeling a sudden chill, he shivered with cold; or was it the thought of another Christmas alone? Perhaps he would come next year? Perhaps...never...?
One of the main reasons we started Bunbury Magazine was to give support and exposure to up-and-coming writers. A while back, we were contacted by Dagda Publishing about an exciting new author called Eric Nolan, who had just released ‘The dogs Don’t Bark in Brooklyn Anymore’, the first book in the planned ‘The Wolf Wars’ series. We contacted Eric himself and asked him to tell us more about his novel and about his passion for writing. When did you first realise your passion for writing? I discovered my passion for storytelling under a porch on an August night when I was eleven years old. This was long before the days of the Internet and the X Box. I and the other neighborhood kids were always challenged to occupy ourselves on summer vacations. So we huddled together under my friend's porch in Lake
Panamoka, New York, and told ghost stories when it was too dark to play baseball. There was supposed to be a rule that we each told a ghost story in turn, but the other kids wanted me to tell several at a time, because I was good at it. (I threw a lot of monsters in when ghosts got boring.) If another kid interrupted me, the rest would "SHUSH!" him. I loved that attention. My best friend even once asked me to stop talking after one scared him too much. It was shortly afterward when I began writing my stories down. What inspired you to write ‘The Dogs Don’t Bark in Brooklyn anymore’? I realize that this may sound like a strange answer, but I lack introspection. I don't know why I write the things that I do -- at least with prose. I just sat down and started writing. I am uncertain about where the characters, moods and themes come from. In terms of story, of course, I do believe that this novel was influenced heavily by Saki's "The Interlopers," Stephen King's "The Stand," and Richard Adams' "Watership Down," as well as the films of George A. Romero.
Would you say you have a particular style you tend towards? I grew up idolizing Stephen King, and still do. My emulation of him, either conscious or otherwise, is visible. A novel is always a massive undertaking. Did you have any difficulties whilst writing it? For me, writing is a fun and easy hobby. It is day-to-day life where I sometimes encounter difficulties, not in the stories I create. Writing a novel and finding the words were mostly effortless for me. (I've only experienced writer's block once in my life -- I was 12 years old, and I believe it lasted for about three days.) From a technical standpoint, I believe that pacing and structure were the two areas that gave me pause when writing this novel. This became further evident during the editing process, and I'd like to improve in these areas in the future. One piece of advice writers are taught is ‘write what you know.’ Is there a particular moment in your life that inspired ‘The Dogs Don’t Bark…’? "Write what you know" is a rule that I have always hated, and refuse to abide by. I have never understood it. God, if there is one, gave us skills like reading comprehension, reading retention and imagination so that we could learn about interesting subjects and write about those. I am not an interesting man. My autobiography would never attract readers. Why on earth would write about my own life? When I sat down to write this book, I tried to craft a protagonist that was as different from me as possible. So instead of a male civilian who got a "C" in freshman biology, my protagonist for this book was a female special forces operative with a flair for the sciences. I had far more fun writing about a person who is much different than I am. You say on your website that ‘The Dogs Don’t Bark…’ is the first in ‘The Wolf War’ series. Any sneaky clues as to where the series will take us? The sequels, which are as yet untitled, will take us to dark places both within and without.
"Dogs" was a milieu-type science fiction story, in which we largely explore a setting for a fictional universe. Now that this bit of world-building is out of the way, I'd really like to deliver on the horror elements of our story. I'd like to bring more scares, more action and more thrills to the story. There will be few flashbacks, if any, to Rebecca O'Conner's relatively safe childhood in the human-controlled New York City. We're going to find ourselves out on the continent, in no man's land, in a dead, ruined, postapocalyptic America. It is going to be fatally dangerous, and I am not known for writing happy stories. Rebecca and her colleagues will be walking into a continent-wide meat grinder. I hope that horror fans will be pleased. We will also explore different points of view, as Rebecca's backstory has by now been rendered in detail. We will see things from the perspectives not only of our other human characters, but also of their wolf adversaries. Do you have any advice for people about to start a novel of their own? I'm not sure how qualified I am to actually render advice about writing. But I will tell you what's worked for me. * Read Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style." It is short, concise, easy to read, and invaluable. * If you don't prefer to work with an outline, then don't. Forget your composition classes in high school or college. It's possible to "find" or "discover" a story as you write it. Make it a journey without a map, if that is how you prefer to travel. * Do everything you can to humanize your central character, and show events from his or her point of view. Ideas, story devices, plots, settings, and technologies are just fine. But it is only the people in the story with whom the reader can identify. * Conflict and tension drive the story forward. Introduce these immediately at the start of the
story, and make them salient throughout. * Employ as much sensory imagery as possible. Immerse your reader in the character's experience by describing what he or she sees, hears, smells, touches and tastes. "Show, don't tell," is a rule by which all writers should abide. * Pathos is universal; all stories employ it to some degree. If you are writing horror, draw from your own darkness. Do you remember the time that girl broke up with you? The time that you were lost in the woods as a child? The time you failed your first test? The time when you thought there was a monster under the bed? Use those things. You're a storyteller. What hurt you once can serve you now. * Drink a lot of coffee. why?
Which authors inspired you to write and
Even if I emulate Stephen King, the words of W.H. Auden are what make me want to write. The beauty, power, and discipline of his poetry make me want to put my own pen to paper. What was your favourite book as a child and why? Before I even learned to read, my favorite book was a non-fiction history of Walt Disney films. I don't even remember the title; I remember it being a big blue hardcover floating around my room. It contained beautiful full-color illustrations of Disney's animated films and cartoons. I remember perusing it frequently and wishing I could see every single film depicted. These included those bizarre little black-and-white “Silly Symphonies.” I still might sit down one day and order a bunch of Disney movies online simply to fulfil a childhood fantasy. Did you take any lessons away from writing your novel? I believe that the value of initiative is the biggest lesson I walked away with. I learned to take a risk, write down my thoughts, and just roll the dice and submit it to a publisher.
You also have a passion for poetry. Do you try to write poems with any theme in mind? My favorite themes are love, loss, memory and aesthetic inspiration. What is your favourite genre to write? My favorite genre is horror, followed by science fiction. What are you reading at the moment? Upon the recommendation of my friend Sunday Frey, I am reading Niccollo Machiavelli's "The Prince." She overestimates my intellect. I am also trying to keep up with Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" comic book series. What projects do you have in the pipe-
line? I am currently writing the sequel to "The Dogs Don't Bark In Brooklyn Any More," and publishing a few poems here and there. Also, a new
horror story of mine, "The Song of the Wheat," will soon appear in "Under The Bed" magazine. My most recently published short story, "At the End of the World, My Daughter Wept Metal," recently appeared in Dagda Publishing's science fiction anthology, "All Hail the New Flesh." Is there anyone who particularly supported you through writing the novel that you would like to thank here? I may have only been an average student, but my schooling has always been a blessing for me, because it introduced me to the very best of friends and classmates. I would like to thank my Longwood High School buddy Tim Gatto, as well as my Mary Washington College alums Russell Morgan, Anna Martin and Greg Monner. Where can people get your writings? "The Dogs Don't Bark In Brooklyn Any More" and "All Hail the New Flesh" can be purchased at Amazon.com, as can my poetry featured in the "Threads" anthology. For handy links, see Dagda Publishing's online shop here: http://dagdapublishing.co.uk/shop/ Much of my poetry and short stories can also be viewed for free at various online publications; for links, please see my website here: http://ericrobertnolan.wordpress.com/ And finally, other than eating, name three things you would do with peanut butter. 1) If I had enough, I would mold a giant peanut butter heart and mail it to actress Caroline Dhavernas, on whom I have a major crush. I would write her a love poem and inscribe it on it. If you give me enough peanut butter and I can make it big enough, maybe I could even work a marriage proposal in there. (How much peanut butter are we talking here?) Women ... like that sort of thing ... right? It isn't over the top? (If anyone wants to exchange writing advice for competent advice on women, that'd be just great.) 2) I'd feed the birds. Chickadees love peanut butter. I've been a bird watcher since I was a kid.
3) The ol’ peanut butter on the steering wheel prank. Instant rapport-builder. You can find out more about Eric at: http://ericrobertnolan.wordpress.com/. We also highly recommend immersing yourself in a copy of ‘The Dogs Don’t Bark in Brooklyn Anymore.’ You can get it at: http://dagdapublishing.co.uk/shop/
We would like to introduce you to Clare Ferguson-Walker. You might remember her from the stunning poetry she sent to the last issue of Bunbury Magazine. Or you might remember her supporting Phil Jupitus at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. You might even recollect her winning poetry slams, or from her sculpture work or from other comedy stints. She has been a busy lady indeed! Regardless where you remember her from, we hope you will not forget her after this interview. Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Clare Ferguson Walker? Difficult to sum that one up briefly! I suppose I can say Iâ€™m a female human, and my life revolves around creativity and looking after my young family. I get bored easily, so try lots of new things and am
constantly coming up with new ideas, I spend a lot of time wrestling with the light bulbs above my head! I am also fully in touch with the fact that I am a damaged person and that it drives a lot of my creativity, I see myself as having sacred wounds, I know that sounds wanky but its better that being totally negative and miserable about shit that has happened in the past. When did you first realise your love for poetry? I was 8 years old and was lucky enough to go to a poetry workshop with Gillian Clarke (The Welsh poet laureate) she had to choose her favourite poem and read it out at the end, she choose mine, I felt elated and that was the beginning of my love affair! I didnâ€™t start writing consistently until hormones kicked in and I became a depressive teenager though.
What do you write about? What inspires you? We take in so much information now because of the internet, I literally feel like my brain has been pumped up with stuff at the end of each day and the poetry definitely helps relive some of that. I write about politics, the human condition, magic, love, fatness, anything and everything. I try and keep my writing style accessible, I get angry when I read really “high brow” stuff, I think its like the emperors new clothes, no one wants to admit they haven’t got a clue what it’s about! You recently won a Poetry Slam in London. Tell us about that. How did it feel to win? I was genuinely surprised as the standard was really high, I was very tired and hung over so I didn’t even feel I’d done that well, so was delighted to win. It introduced me to some lovely people and was a great networking experience. What opportunities has that opened up for you? It’s lead on to me being featured on Roundhouse Radio, a London station associated with the Roundhouse in Camden. I was also one of the featured poets the following week and had my set recorded for a Radio 4 programme. Tell us about the first Slam you took part in. I was invited by an ex student of mine, (I used to teach creative writing) to a slam that him and a couple of his colleagues had set up, as part of a new venture write4 word, it was an exciting format with heats and judges, it was fun and friendly too, so
no major pressure. I won it and got a free dinner, yippee! Do you prefer writing for the page or for the stage? That’s a tricky one as they both have their merits, I see page poetry as being more akin to puzzle boxes that have to be fathomed out whereas stage poetry should be more immediate in my opinion. I honestly can’t say that I prefer either as I really enjoy both. Where can we see you doing Slams? I am keeping my sights aimed quite high and will be taking part in some of the countries big ones, Hammer and Tongue do regular slams in Bristol and London and
here are often slams at literature festivals. Apples and Snakes are also worth keeping an eye on for slams. You also have a passion for sculpture and art. When did you start doing those? That started when I first got my hands on plastcine! Honestly I’ve always loved visual arts and would spend hours as a kid drawing cartoons and making things from air drying clay. What messages do you try and get across in your work? My work is very often about the human condition, about grief, sadness, joy, emotions1.in general really, and my work is always figurative, I love the human body as a starting point. Have you got any big projects coming up in the future? I’m back off to Edinburgh where I will be supporting Phil Jupitus in his role as Porky the poet. I am also launching a new poetry collection soon and will have a big launch party for that. I am also playing at the Laugharne festival soon and Dinefwr literature festival towards the end of the year. I am also in a comedy double act and we will be touring our show later this year and have plans to take it to America. How do you balance all your pro-
jects with being a mother and a wife? That’s very tough and there is no easy way. Both my kids are in school so that makes life a lot easier, but I know that childhood slips away all too quickly so after school and weekends are very kid focused. When I do go away for gigs, we either all go together or they stay at home with their dad who is brilliant and also a performer in his own right. I’d rather the kids saw their parents having rich and varied lives than getting frustrated and resentful at home all the time, I feel that is better role modelling for them. And lastly, other than eating, name three things you would do with peanut butter. Make figures out of it, leave a love message for my husband written in it, spend ages cleaning it out of its jar. If you’d like to find out more about Clare, just visit a few of her pages: Website: http://www.clareferguson-walker.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Art-of-Clare-Ferguson-Walker/124377977640495 Twitter;
Images courtesy of http://www.clareferguson-walker.com/
THE MINISTRY OF WASTE The Ministry of Waste
Public Service announcement Bank Holiday Waste Collections
Monday 25th May 2525; Towel Day
This is an announcement from the Ministry of Wastes, Solar System HQ, at Nebular Hypothesis. Due to the Bank Holiday next Monday 25th May 2525; to celebrate Towel Day, as decreed by the great God Adams; rubbish & waste collections will be one day later for this lunar week only… 1.For Mercury and Venus Tuesday: Remember for all those recently deceased who’ve had extensive plastic surgery; they can be put in the recycle box... 2.For the Planet known formerly as Earth, now named Mostly Ocean. Wednesday: and please don’t give the recycle bins to your Children or grandparents to use as overnight pods... 3.For Mars and Jupiter Thursday: We must ask particularly the
Martians to refrain from releasing methane for 24 hours before collections. 4.For Saturn Friday: Ensure all Asbestos is chewed thoroughly, before placing in the pink bags...”Snow joke you know.” 5.For Uranus, and surrounding asteroids Saturday: As this is daytime broadcast, names of rubbish items deposited from Uranus have been censored... 6.For Neptune Sunday: Limited collections only from the NASA Space Station for green bags of food waste; known in the USA as salad... 7.Finally, for the Parallel Universe No collections until one week later; Message for all you Cats; Next week is Human week; please dispose of carefully... (This is the end of the Solar System.) Remember our motto “Compost Happens”
Nigel Jenkins 20 July 1949 â€“ 28 January 2014
In January this year, the literary world lost a great man. As a mark of respect we at Bunbury magazine are dedicating this issue in his honour and memory. Nigel Jenkins was a poet, non-fiction writer, broadcaster, editor and lecturer at Swansea University. Swansea born and raised on a Gower farm, he received his education at the University of Essex. Nigel, from the start was destined to do great things, from being featured in the Welsh Arts Councilâ€™s Three Young Anglo-Welsh Poets in 1974 to receiving the Eric Gregory Award by the Society of Authors. Over his life time he would publish several poetry collections which have been translated into Dutch, Russian, French and German. In 1996 he won the Wales Book of The Year for his book Gwalia in Khasia. He was also the co-editor of The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. He was kind, supportive and an excellent lecturer. I can truly say that it was a privilege to have studied under him. The following section was created to allow those who knew Nigel to contribute to his memory. Picture: walesonline.co.uk
A Haiku For Nigel Your words ripple Through my memory. You had A whiskey voice. -Keri-Ann Edwards
Nigel Jenkins: The Poets Hands It is all there, in the hand. When the poet Menna Elfyn visited Nigel in Tŷ Olwen, the day before he died, he wondered if she could lend him a pen. She gave him one of her special pens and, as she left, he was still clasping it. We remember people we have loved by their faces, of course, but also by their speaking hands. Nigel’s hands possessed a voice nearly as rich as his incomparable bass-baritone.
With Jamie Jauncey (2008)
‘If the hand has written everything,/ Every thing has written the hand,’ Nigel wrote in ‘Handbook’, the opening poem of Hotel Gwalia (2006). In his important essay on Wales and Welshness, ‘The Lie of the Land’, he remarked that there is ‘nowhere in Wales today, no matter how remote and inaccessible, that is untouched by human hand’ (Footsore on the Frontier, 2001). He had a lifelong passion for exploring origins and evolution – where we had come from; what had made us; what we had made. The Jenkins family’s farm at Kilvrough had bred him: as a child he knew every tump of every field, traversing them on horseback. Enthralled by the lineaments of the land, he quested into the earth’s layered silent reliquary. Poet, antiquarian, psychogeographer, Nigel travelled the palimpsest of his mother-country – and ranged far afield, to America and the Khasi Hills of India, whose Welsh connections he celebrated in Gwalia in Khasia (1996). To Nigel the earth was a mnemonic, if we could only spell it out: his travels radiated from and endlessly returned to the bro. In ‘Handbook’, personal ontogeny recapitulates evolution: he reads in the landscape of his hand a line of descent: ‘you’ve come a long way, hands,/ From those invocatory savannahs’. Knapping stone, felling mammoth, plucking leaves, piking roach: all this had somehow led up to the ‘callus grown/ on a fleeting finger’ of the writer in his moment. In the course of ‘Handbook’, the hand becomes a creature of itself. Its actions mirror both his militant political activism and the eirenic gentleness of his soul. He recognises the compulsions he contained: ‘in this hand that never hit a child/ a monster sleeps’. Nigel Jenkins was proud to be a left-hander: a ‘left-out leftie’ (with all the political force of that).
Nigel wrote one poem for me, a haiku, which I cherish: We do not see til flight tilts them sunward oystercatchers Cycling around Swansea Bay we’d hoard and share its quotidian sights and sounds. Once an oystercatcher flew right across Nigel’s vision. An eclipse; an epiphany: his eye was filled by the flight of the sudden bird. I like to think of him riding – horse or bike. In ‘Getting Old for Two’ (2000), passing the age at which his father died, Nigel imagines himself overtaking: ‘he’ll be lost any second in flying hoof-scoops of earth and grass – unless, unless, yes, c’mon, Dad, gimme your hand, I gotcha: leap! Leap up behind me!’ -Stevie Davies In 2014, we in celebrate the birth of a one great Swansea poet, Dylan Thomas: In this year we also commemorated the loss of another great Swansea poet; Nigel Jenkins: As Dylan once said: “And death shall have no dominion. Dead men naked they shall be one” The critic Alun Rees, of Poetry Wales described Nigel’s collection of poems in Ambush (Gomer Press, Llandysul, 1998) as quote: ‘Jenkins is a disturbing poet: he shoots off at tangents, his voice ranges from awed whisper to indignant roar, his politics are unashamedly radical and confrontational, his taste for experiment is seemingly limitless. He seeks engagement – with life, the universe and everything – with total commitment. He gets in your face, and he laughs a lot …. His work is rich in suggestion because he is a shape-changer of a poet; his forms vary from haiku-like conciseness to incantatory bardic declamation, taking in along the way lyrics, ballads, metaphysical musings, sensuous explorations of love and nature, and controlled but furious assaults on distorted values …. this is a risk-taking poet who eschews no form and inhabits all territories.’ Being one of his students for a year I could not have described Nigel more completely or succinctly as this description of his poetry depicts, except to say in life he lived liked the poetry he wrote: My personal favourite was a commissioned piece made of mild steel and glass: It was: “Any fish can fly in the belly of a gull” Nigel Jenkins said of ‘Make of this, Cymry, (Welsh) what you will ...’ I think this was a tongue in cheek tilt at the Government of the time, that’s typical of the man! -Dave Shannon
Dear Nigel, It’s February now, a month after you left but you will remember the bad westerlies of November, they have returned with a vengeance. Had a bad night last night. The gale started in the Atlantic, way out from your beloved Gower and within minutes was upon us in my adopted Porthcawl. Our seaward glances would have met over Swansea Bay, intersecting at Scarweather sands, on the route of the S.S. Samtampa. Do you remember my ballad of the same name which I sang to the class over the net as my assignment ? “A first! ” you said, not referring to its quality, wishing the experience not to be repeated. We are used to the storms out of the West but this was a bit special. I am sad and glad that you missed it for it was truly dreadful to see our precious shores so savagely head-butted for so long. We were the same age, you and I, more or less. We shared dashing good looks, although some might differ on this point, and an interest in creative expression, of course you actually knew a good deal about it . You more of a modern centre than I, an old-school talonneur. You the piano player me the shifter. `I had thought that the scabs of sorrow- passed had long healed but they have been reopened by your passing. The solace of the deep, ruby-red, Rioja-red offers no hiding place. Strange how alike are the full Rioja and the thin red of Communion. Would Gerard agree ? Our ginko together has ended before it really began. We will now not make renku or somonka together, no tanka, senryu or haiga now I sent you a text. You never replied, I now know why. I will never know if you read it but, just in case you did not, I wrote "... don't let the bastards grind you down" and I know that, despite your passing, they have not and cannot. You are the gneiss in our poetic landscape, a point of bearing and of resistance. Shaped by two Dylans harmonica silent now soar above Kilvrough Not for you the lure of the momentary, the passingly beguiling. While I was still searching you were looking, deeper than I have yet imagined. You took a chance on me as you had with so many before me. Ours is a collective sadness, an absence shared. You and I shared an old fashioned interest in the "Anglo-Welsh". You drew me in and your passion for the short forms enthused a generation of us. I will not turn back . I for one will keep your cause alive. We were never close enough for long enough to be friends but I always believed that had the circumstances been different we might well have been. Instead I had already settled happily for the role of student, grateful for the care, patience and warmth of your support. I treasure even now your comments on my work, turning them from finished to draft. Found in an old box spidery ticks, no crosses your notes on my script
Be assured that they are modified already and that although they will never see your pen again they will always carry your imprint and that when I start a new piece I will always ask myself whether you would be likely to approve and where your marks would most likely lie. A patriot whose country was the world, with a passion for Wales not always matched but by those of your compatriots, your cello-voice reverberates in my mind even now and will remain with me always. Our last social meeting was over resinous red wine at Taibach RFC.The wine was thin but warming and free and free flowing as we attended your friend’s book launch, one of many book launches and one of many friends, I have no doubt. We were easy in our company and you were gracious enough to thank me for being there, by elegant email the next day. I knew that you knew that all was not well but did either of us know just how dire the situation was ? I know now that there is no ”other” place. That you are not coming back and that neither will I. Your pen is still here englynion to be cast arise Prince of Wales Our journey together has ended before it really began. Rest easy my friend-to-be. Say hello to Idris and John, Alun and Gwyn, Dylan, GMH and Harri, for me, if you can get a word in edgeways. Do you remember when Rowan said that God was in no hurry to meet RS? And you, and them? In admiration and gratitude, Your student -Brian Roper
Image courtesy of http://www.nigeljenkins.com/
In Memory of Nigel Jenkins I have many happy memories of my time studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Swansea University. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to call Nigel my teacher. There were many things that made Nigel an excellent and effective teacher; he was kind, supportive, encouraging, funny, down-to-earth, modest, reflective and passionate. Nigel was also a great poet and writer. It was these qualities that inspired me and all of his students. Nigel’s passion for poetry and words was infectious. Hearing him recite poetry was wonderful – each word anchored with his rich, Welsh voice. He talked about the importance of paying close attention to every word you wanted to use in a poem. Poetry was a craft that needed to be treated with respect; being patient and allowing the process to become as important as the completed poem. Any advice or suggestions for further reading was scribbled down and treasured. I still have the index cards that I filled with Nigel’s advice stuck on my wall. As I type these words I can look over and read them. Here are some of them: ‘Every poem is a new departure’ ‘Don’t think lazily’ ‘Keep grounded’ ‘Be wary of the language of abstract emotionalism’ ‘Know your goal’ ‘Avoid sentimentality’ ‘Subvert the ordinary’ ‘Use concrete words instead of abstract’ ‘Rhyme with caution’ They are little nuggets of advice that I keep on my wall and try to apply in my own poetry. The index cards are looking a little battered, stuck with cello tape and curled up on the edges, and somehow I feel that is how they should remain. I received an email from Nigel on the 13th November 2013, regarding a poem I had written. Nigel wanted to read my poem and his reply was so thoughtful, kind and supportive. His generosity with his time and his advice is something that I will always appreciate. When I heard that Nigel had died I was shocked. I felt sad knowing that he was no longer part of life. His commanding presence and energy made it all the more harder to comprehend. It was harder still to put my feelings into words. I sat in the library; pen poised over my paper and thought about the things I wanted to write. It was then that I realised that what I wanted to say resided deeper than thoughts and words. When you meet someone who inspires you it stays with you forever. It exists beyond words because it is felt so deeply. This is how I can best express it. I have been fortunate to have had many inspirational teachers. Nigel was one of them. It is something I will always remember. You carry their advice and wisdom with you every day and it becomes a part of who you are and how you live your life. Your choices, thoughts and actions are shaped by it and you gather strength and motivation from it. It is the greatest gift one person can give another. I feel thankful and glad that Nigel was part of my life and I will miss him. -Ceri Thomas
Thanks and Acknowledgements Well, well. Now you’ve immersed yourself in some of the deep and dark visions of the future, it is time to check outside to see if normality still reigns – well, what slender grip normality has on anyone of us at any rate. What’s that, there’s a new supermarket at the end of your street and your house has just been flanked by popular high-street coffee chains? Maybe it’s time to head down to that emergency bunker after all. We’re just playing around – it’s more likely bookmakers that have your abode surrounded. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in this issue, from all the poets and short-story scribes to the photographers and artists and everyone in between who made all of this possible. It would also be remiss of us not to thank all those who helped us relocate to our new base of operations. We could not have done any of it without every single one of you. Now we’ve had a long gaze forward to the future of humanity, we’re travelling at light speed towards the next issue where we will be travelling back to the past – yes, it makes our head hurt too. We’re taking a look at the world of mythology in Bunbury Issue Five. Whether you want to imagine new beginnings for our civilisation or bring the classics up-to-date with a twist, we will keep a weather eye on the inbox for your submissions. Have you got a story you’re itching to tell us? Are you a comedian or musician with some gigs in the pipe-line? Get in touch with us and we will do all we can to get you the coverage and publicity you deserve. @MagazineBunbury
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JUNE ISSUE: MYTHOLOGY
It is a bright cold day in April and the clocks are striking thirteen. The chimes can only mean one thing; the grand return of Bunbury Magaz...
Published on Apr 13, 2014
It is a bright cold day in April and the clocks are striking thirteen. The chimes can only mean one thing; the grand return of Bunbury Magaz...