Book Update No.13

EFC_Release from Solitary

Well, that’s the first bit over with. Now I’ve got just over a month to put it all together and off it goes to the printers. Thank you to all you beautiful pledgers out there, you’ve helped make this kooky ole ship sail. And sail it most certainly shall. Got to say it though, I’ll be glad to get out of the flat for a bit when the time comes. The builders below have made every day an agony and I’m getting a bit sick of my own company (now I know how you feel). But there are plans afoot for the big launch in November which I’ll go into in detail when a few more things are confirmed. All being well, it will be in Central London at an impossibly cool venue very close to Tower Bridge with gallery space, a bar and it’s run by lovely people who just get this kind of thing. Perfect!

If you can’t wait that long, I’ll be doing some readings and enjoying a few sherbets in Crystal Palace’s own Numidie Bar tomorrow evening (Saturday 29th August) from 7pm. Just an excuse to say thanks and…er…enjoy a few sherbets. Like you do. Please pop by if you can, should be fun.

The second lot of artworks have already started rolling in and they are, as with the first, superb. Ursula is laying them out and I’ll be working on the final order over the next couple of weeks, harder than you might think. And we also have to decide whether we’ll have a dust jacket or just go commando, hmm. So much to think about, so little time.

Until the next one (without the annoying Escape from Colditz cards, you have my word) x

Idle Eye 167 : The Contractual Obligation

Right, the book fundraising is officially done and dusted. Time to roll up my sleeves and make the bloody thing, and if you’re reading this from said tome and not online, you’ll know that somehow I pulled it off. But lovely though it may be to have the printing dosh in the bag, I do have other contractual issues to consider. For example, I promised Philippa Burne, Trish Dicey and Simon Phipps that I’d write them all into a book post and now that we’re out of the blocks, I haven’t a clue how to do it. I mean, they’ve never met each other and they all live in different countries for starters. So it’s not as if I could set up a chance encounter in a supermarket or nightclub, is it? No, I’m going to have to be way smarter than that. And possibly a tad duplicitous:

I’ve also told Melinda Doring and Pierre Woollard that they will be illustrated by the godlike hand of Mark Weighton, and I got to thinking I could somehow shoehorn the whole lot of them in together. No one will be any the wiser and my workload would effectively be halved. Confused? I know, I know. But what if Mark does this drawing of me scribbling away at my desk and there, legibly on the paper, are three names: Philippa, Trish and Simon. I’m lost in the muse, brow furrowed and clearly on edge. As per. Fortunately, Melinda is there pouring me a glass of Pinot and Pierre is carrying a ramekin of liquorice in from the kitchen. See, it’s genius! All bases are covered and I get a night off.

Obviously, this cunning ruse is fully dependent on Mark stepping up to the plate. Because if he locks horns and does something different, my cover will be blown and I’ll have to do it again, which kind of defeats the object. So I’ll tell him the pledge specifically states that he does all the graft and bank on him being too busy to check. He’s an artist, for Christ’s sake, as if he would. Next, I contact everyone concerned and tell them the good news. What’s not to like? I surpass myself sometimes, I really do.

In case you’re wondering, it isn’t easy being this Machiavellian. A lot of time and effort goes in at the deep end. Thinking about it, probably about the same amount of time and effort to just do it properly and skip out the cod cloak-and-dagger stuff entirely. But that’s not the point, is it? I have an obligation to my pledgers and I shall fulfil it by whatever convoluted method is necessary. And if it so happens to make my life considerably easier, well that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

My brighter readers will have spotted what I did there. But that’s between us and it goes no further. A lot hangs on this, capiche?

IE Audio 14 : The Talented Mr Reynard

And this week it’s foxes. Something furry going on.

Idle Eye 166 : The Rec

In order to combat the insomnia I’ve covered previously, for the last few weeks I’ve taken to power marching the boundaries of a small park behind my flat. It’s called the Rec, short for recreation ground, but the obvious homonym is far more apposite. For every day, I encounter troubled souls doing something similar, usually alone and lost absolutely in thought. As I myself have discovered, there is comfort to be had in movement, but more particularly in the routine of it. So it comes as no surprise to see now familiar faces in now familiar spots at very specific times.

If I set out at 9.30am, I know that at approximately 9.40am I will see an elderly jogger under one of the horse chestnut trees, his face distorted, eyes dead. He does not acknowledge me, nor I him, but we both know. Similarly, if I leave twenty minutes later, I’ll twice pass a woman dressed rather more formally than is required for a walk. She moves at a crawl, her head tilted in reflection. Every time I pound past them, trying desperately to get to a place where the body becomes exhausted enough to allow the brain to function, I can’t help but wonder what it is that brings them here. Tragedy? Loss? Loneliness? Or is it perhaps something altogether more banal? Whichever, I have found myself actively anticipating these fleeting moments and building them into my own routine.

The dog walkers are a little different, for they have a companion and are more inclined to offer up pleasantries as I approach them. This induces mild panic, as I will momentarily be forced to leave the safe haven of contemplation in favour of an appropriate response, usually preceded by an active engagement with the pet itself. It is enormously disruptive, so if I see one looming on the horizon I tend to adopt the requisite speed to avoid them entirely. Sadly this isn’t always possible, and it takes a good lap of resentment to get things back on the level.

There is one character I haven’t quite yet figured out. He wears green municipal fluoros and carries a large bag, presumably for collecting leaves. Invariably he stands inside one of the hard tennis courts, clutching the wire mesh with his free hand and staring out at something in the far distance. He hardly moves as I circumnavigate, and the only times I haven’t seen him is when the court is occupied. Which isn’t all that often. It is a magnificently solitary pose, akin to John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman but lacking the insider knowledge as to why this is so. In all probability he’s just on the skive, but where’s the romance in that?

When the book campaign ends this Sunday, I’m going to knock it on the head. I’ll have stacks to do and it’s all too easy to become yet another ghost. But I hope they’ll notice I’ve gone.

IE Audio 13 : The Smear

The denigration of our upstanding hirsute brethren.

Book Update No.12

EFC_Bribe Sentry Card

Struggling with a few things at the moment, but that’s no excuse not to update. So here goes:

Amateur of Life and Death is now £495 away from hitting its Stretch Goal of £5000. This will allow it to become a glorious hardback, printed by the lovely people at TT Litho in Rochester, and that wine glass on the cover will be UV varnished so you’ll think it’s real. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s nice to know that it will definitely happen and you pledgers will get the result by the end of October, all being well.

I’ve just allocated the second posts to be illustrated to all artists so now it’s a waiting game. And if we hit that £5000 target, all backers will get something quite special, as well as the rewards they’ve pledged for. Can’t tell you what just yet, but it’s rather good. You’ll see.

The campaign finishes on Sunday 23rd August at midday. My final push will be a flurry of grovelling emails so please forgive this in advance if you happen to get one. Finally, one last plea to anyone who hasn’t yet pledged:

Click on the fag card above and it will take you to the campaign page. And when you’re there, if you spare this ole boy a dime I’ll love you longtime. Thanks x

Idle Eye 165 : The Best Things in Life Are Free

Really? Now come on, Beatles/Flying Lizards/Janet Jackson, I’ve been around the block a few times and I beg to differ. Try telling that to the head waiter at whichever vulgar joint you’ve taken your better half to on his/her significant day and see just how much mustard it cuts. Or perhaps try your hand in one of those St James of London costumiers, where you can bag for gratis hand-stitched pyjamas with piping at the collars and cuffs if you simply mention how highly you rate them. The trouble with the above is that it is a phrase coined in the 1960s, when highfalutin ideals were chucked about without too much attention to detail. For the Age of Aquarius would have been tainted beyond recognition if there were a price tag attached to it.

I’m not being wilfully ignorant here. Of course, the implied best thing is love. Which, as we all know, comes at you from a place where there is no currency. It is the one thing that, in order to achieve it, we would pay any price for and yet it cannot be bought. It stands resolutely alone, across boundaries of race, logic and age. It defies the mores of any epoch it springs up inside and, to this day, remains enigmatically aloof. Literature feeds off it, science can’t get to grips with it and when it strikes, is truly egalitarian. And in that respect, it holds all the cards. Nothing else comes close.

But sod that, you can still buy it. I’m not recommending it as an option, but you can. As long as you can deal with the lack of intimacy, profundity and its cataclysmic, life-altering potential, a version of it is out there for sale. And for some, this is enough. The Prozac Nation, neutered variant will always be attractive to those who, for whatever reason, are unable to shore up to the real thing. Sometimes I wish I could join their ranks, but sadly I am destined to follow each and every gut-wrenching affair of the heart to no matter where it may lead. For which I make no apology. I am what God made me.

As for the other stuff, well it’s just bollocks innit? Name me three things that you can’t have if you get the chequebook out and I’ll shout you a meal at the Ivy. As long as you book the window table and get them to waiver the no jeans policy. There was a time, eons ago, when the finer points of human achievement were considered to be at the zenith of where we are headed as a species, way beyond the grasp of cupidity. But no longer. These days, everything comes at a cost, particularly the very things that shouldn’t. I am loathe to drag current affairs into this particular diatribe but seriously, do your research.

IE is available for children’s parties etc…

IE Audio 12 : The Infernal Loop of Leeds

In Leeds, no one can hear you scream.

Book Update No.11

EFC_Talisman Card

Very happy to announce that Amateur of Life and Death hit its Kickstarter £4K target on Tuesday, which means that whatever happens from now on, this book will be made. Apologies for the late heads up here, I’ve been wading through the dark treacle of insomnia which gives you time but steals the impetus to use it (see latest post). So, I’ve done a few more costings and I think we can make it into a hardback if we raise another grand. Not an exact science, but it’s a nice round figure to aim for and art books should be hardbacks, right? This is called a Stretch Goal apparently, and has nothing at all to do with losing a bit of cellulite. So let’s go for that then. And any ‘stretch’ funds raised beyond that will go towards amassing an arsenal of brutally loud power tools which I’ll load into a van, follow the builders downstairs to their family homes and drill into their roofs throughout the night until they too are driven to misanthropy and despair. Worthy cause, right there…x

Idle Eye 164 : The Insomniac

There was a time I thought it impossibly cool to be able survive on little or no sleep. That I could glide, ghostlike, into the dark portals of my home over the small hours, content in the knowledge that lightweight recumbents lacking the requisite stamina could not manage the same. In much the same way as an ASBO, it was a badge of pride which would almost certainly be the envy of the idle. So at the beginning of this book campaign, when I was riding high on nervous energy, I welcomed it in. Brilliant, I thought, I’ll coast through the jobs and come out ahead of the game. I could not have been more wrong. You know something’s up when the crying starts:

  • Postman delivers wine stain remover? Howl like a baby.
  • Blurry online photo of Cecil the Lion? Howl like a baby.
  • Builders below stop using circular saw for twenty seconds? Howl like a baby.

And that’s just the beginning. Next up comes the attention deficit, always handy when you’re multitasking:

Boil kettle / half complete to-do list / prepare for shower / remember kettle / make coffee half-dressed / ditto three lines of email / have shower / call someone / walk around park to clear head / remember email / check Facebook / quick cry / more coffee / check to-do list again / remember food / forget food / remember email / quick cry / go to bed.

The cruellest twist of the knife is that last bit. When you finally head up the hill, exhausted beyond language from your day of not quite achieving anything and discovering twenty different ways that sleep deprivation will see you off, you collapse into the welcoming tundra of the bedroom. But it is a Trojan Horse. Come stupid’o’clock (usually ten to something ridiculous like two or three), you find yourself bolt upright and worrying about that bloody email. So now there’s fat chance of getting back to Nod, yet somehow you have to fill up your time until the whole wretched shooting match starts all over again. And that’s when the chatting starts:

Me:  Not sure how much more of this I can take.

Me:  Me neither. It’s brutal.

Me:  Sure is. What shall we do?

Me:  Think anyone’s on Messenger?

Me:  Doubt it. How about a bit of Facebook stalking?

Me:  Yeah, why not?

(Two minutes later)

Me:  Sod this. Let’s go for a walk.

Me:  Too knackered.

Me:  Book then?

Me:  We’ll just end up reading the same sentence again and again. Like last night.

Me:  Smoke?

Me:  Like that’s going to help.

Me:  Well what do you suggest then, smartarse?

Me:  How about trying to sleep?

Me:  We’ve talked about this. But give it a try if you want. I’m off.

Me:  Where to?

Me:  Anywhere but here. You’re doing my head in, man.

Yes, it’s true. I’m doing my own head in. And there’ll be fisticuffs at dawn unless I sort something pretty soon. Just not sure which horse to back if I don’t.