The Ghost of Brompton Cemetery

The accountant’s wife has seen ghosts before—Bhut they are called in her home country—and she remembers the very mischievous one who would come crawling down from the mango tree, her bangles clanging in the night, and slip through the crevice in the wall at the foot of her bed; the one her mother insisted brought luck, though it often caused the young girl to wet the sheets. At times the apparition resembled her father, featureless and bloated. On other occasions it was a witch with black teeth and a pulsating, red bindi. No more than pedestrians passing through the nightly imaginations of a child, her mother had said. But to the wife, they were real.

As real as the one for whom she is now preparing tea. Continue reading “The Ghost of Brompton Cemetery”

Pizza: the transdimensional constant

The meeting took place in the lower dining room of Dario’s. Plastic lemons, fake aspidistras, clogged toilets… an infelicitous atmosphere for anything other than privacy.

But the Bufula was good. We liked Bufula.

I’d arrived first to arrange tables, pre-order nibbles, and setup the temporal displacement cube.

The others began wamping one at a time into the WC. The pilot, the failed rocker, the one-eyed politician, the medieval librarian, the knife-throwing accountant. They stumbled out of the cubicle, arms and heads gyrating as though wrestling invisible octopodes, and hung their jumpsuits on the wall, over the yellowed paintings of Naples. We were as different as we were the same—lined faces, crooked legs, clipped fingernails—our universes had left their signature marks, but still we shared the same misanthropic grin, the same, simple acknowledgement that life will not only take capricious and inconvenient twists, but will do so at every opportunity. Continue reading “Pizza: the transdimensional constant”

Tales from Shelley Beach – The Bus Ride home

Short chapters inspired by my new, coming of age novel, Sandbanker, available at no bookstores near you (yet)

The bell at St Christopher’s was not a real bell, made of brass or anything, but electric — it droned, like the torpedos in River Raid. (I didn’t actually have an Atari 2600 to test the theory, and didn’t really know anyone who did, at least someone who I could ask, but that’s what I’d heard.) Whoever they’d gotten to ring the school bell on that Friday afternoon had morsed-coded ‘S-O-S S-O-S’, and everyone had a good laugh about it, but I would’ve bet a case of chocolate frogs they had no clue what it meant. Continue reading “Tales from Shelley Beach – The Bus Ride home”

Milk and thunder

Many had taken refuge on the roofs of the buildings which still stood—the bus depot, the medical clinic—others had clamoured up trees, straddling branches and waving helplessly to the heads and head-shaped objects floating by.

From the ridge, Kobe looked down into the valley at the spume of life and death as if in a trance. Just three hours ago he’d been tying a load of cane to the back of his motorbike, whistling that tune that had been going around, and watching Jora belt the life out of a woollen rug with a piece of driftwood. “Am I so useless to you?” she raged, punctuating each word with a blow of the stick, “Useless! Useless! Useless!”, as clouds of dust exploded from the rug’s woollen flanks. Continue reading “Milk and thunder”

The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition

The Bubble is frothing at the edge of cataclysm. Debt-starved zombies roam the streets of London, desperate to feast on the fresh credit ratings of the financially unburdened.

Sam and Laney are planning their getaway. Will they manage to avoid the malevolent plague and escape the city before it’s too late?

This was my entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition. Someone good won it. They always do.

Frame one of The Bubble Continue reading “The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition”

Take 24

There I was: cloaked in Victorian coat and tails, in thirty-five degree heat and waiting for my sausage dog to finish squeezing one out under a tree.

All around me, thrashing like a school of tuna in a whirlpool, were makeup artists and their assistants, camera crews and their assistants, boys chasing tangled cables, girls driving racks of plastic-wrapped suits between trucks, small men in yellow caps who seemed to do nothing but run up and down the set with coffee cups; and us – the extras – standing helplessly in the broiling sun, waiting for instructions from the loudspeaker. Continue reading “Take 24”

@germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you

Transitory, on ice and breath, a sweeping movement of a coffee-stained Frankfurter Allgemeine. The check-in announcement screams at me as I exit arrivals, stone faces, no signs. Where is my welcoming party?

Thirty hours of cracking your bones in seat 32F and this is what you get, though it might be what you deserve. Nobody’s going to come to get you in GMT+1 except the stipple dreams that you coloured for yourself when you thought it was OK to exchange everything that defined you for a one-way ticket.

@germanforayeaTaxi smells like pretzels. How do u say ‘I need a f**king smoke’ auf Deutsch? #jetlagged

Continue reading “@germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you”

Love Me WiFi Whore

The refrigerator smells like it’s just run the equatorial marathon in a tweed jacket.

Opening the windows to the panting light of a Krakow morning, she recognises the red Volvo with the flat tyre across the street.  She waves at it. The price in the windscreen has gone down, but it’s still the most meaningful welcome back she’s had. Continue reading “Love Me WiFi Whore”

Atheist Children’s Books

Fiction put on hold. The quill hovers over the digital notepad… writing has been placed somewhere on the shelf up near my sheet music and other crusty life goals while I attempt to realise yet another project – Atheist Children’s Books.

Yes, the product of months of procrastination, an idea born of frustration, illumination and wonder, atheistchildrensbooks.org, is finally in progress. With it and through it I hope to promote authors of exceptional works of fiction and illustrated fiction, and maybe, just maybe, help to sprinkle a little reason around the world.

Atheist Children's Books - To whom do you bow?

I want to help!

Great! At the moment the site is very much in development, however if you’d like to contribute to getting it up and running, or are an author of secular, humanist, science or atheist books for kids and would like to promote your book on atheistchildrensbooks.org, please get in touch.

Once I have the site in a reasonable state and all the associated media and assets are ready, I’ll be running a kickstarter campaign or the equivalent in order to raise funds for marketing and development. The aim is not to rule the world, but to make it a nicer place to be.

Peace!