Archive | August, 2013

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

30 Aug

BookCoverPreview

The book LORD ALF is on KINDLE.

If you click the side-link or go to Kindle you can download the book.

 

 

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PUBLISHED ON KINDLE AND AT AMAZON

27 Aug

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HOORAY – It’s finally out. Now it just needs to be read and reviewed.

This is where you come in. Please take the time to read and leave your thoughts on the book web page at Amazon.

Enjoy.

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Alf-colin-r-james/dp/1480037443/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377615334&sr=8-1&keywords=Lord+ALF

 

 

 

 

COVER ART FOR LORD ALF

22 Aug

Busy putting the final touches to the cover before the book goes onto KINDLE and AMAZON.

The book should be available in the next couple of weeks — I know, where have you heard that before?

Let me know what you think. Personally I think it’s bloody  good!

 

BookCoverPreview

ART FOR ART’S SAKE

10 Aug

             

 

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“The first time I ever laid eyes on him was at the night school down the High Street. I was modeling for an art class and he was obviously there to improve or better whatever talent it was he supposedly had. I’d never done it before, the money was good and well, you only live once don’t you? They’ve got all sorts of people they use as models, funny when you think about it. When you see an advertisement in the paper for nude modeling you’d think that only the perfect bodies would apply but that simply isn’t the case. All kinds of shapes and sizes, people from all walks — makes you wonder what the attraction is? Personally I needed the cash — that was my excuse. Obviously exhibitionism springs to mind but when your way past you prime and your knickers would house a troop of boy scouts on a Dartmoor camping expedition that doesn’t seem likely does it? What did they have to gain by standing in a drafty old classroom with clanking radiators and poor central heating in their where-with-all, in the buff, in the nude.

I received a telephone call a couple of days after applying to the advertisement in the Press.

“Wanted.

Models for the School of Art.

Two nights a week, travel and time will be reimbursed.

Call Professor Pinkney. (York 55724)

 

 The telephone interview had been fine, all the usual questions. Did I realize that I would be posing for nude portraits and body imagery?

Yes I said.

Was I comfortable standing in front of strangers for a couple of hours?

Yes I said.

Could I be there tomorrow, a little before six to meet the professor?

Yes I said.

The office was small or rather it was full. The professor, John, sat behind a desk that burgeoned with the weight of untold amounts of paper and what appeared to be a libraries worth of books. Typical artist type. You know the sort — wild hair, glasses, bit disheveled. Nice enough though. He dug around the drawers looking for the release papers for me to sign and finally after a wild paper chase through all the books and folders came up with a coffee stained copy of what he’d been looking for. He was very nice. Put me right at ease.

The session generally lasts for a couple of hours.

No, you don’t have to sit still the whole time.

If you need a break, need to use the loo, then feel free to stand up.

Yes, yes, everybody is very respectful.

“You have to understand,” said John, Professor Pinkney, “that this is about art and nothing else. We’re simply creating an atmosphere that will fire their minds, get their creative juices flowing — capturing the moment as it were. These are fourth years, so they’re all pretty advanced and some of them really are quite talented!” He opened a folder on his desk and pulled out a couple of large pieces of paper. Beautiful penciled and inked pictures of not necessarily beautiful people. It seemed that the models ranged from people of my age in their early twenties to models who were way past retirement. Fat ones, thin one, skinny ones — all shapes and sizes. The professor smiled at me, not the way some bloke would down pub, but appreciatively as though he were seeing beyond the boobs and the blonde hair, seeing me for who I was, seeing me. He paid me up front — twenty quid for two hours! Where can you earn that kind of money for taking your clothes off? Well I can think of one, but this was legitimate, this was art.

The first time I’d been nervous. The professor had introduced me to the class, a mix of about twenty students most of whom I could barely see as they were stood behind their easels. It was a little like being in a darkened theatre where the actors don’t see the audience but rather feel them, the intensity in the shadows. That’s how it was, the feeling of their eyes upon me. Easier than I thought, and as I slipped out of the dressing gown there was a round of applause, not something I was expecting but there you are.  A woman assisted me into my pose — draped me as they say, just me, a bowl of grapes and nothing else.  The time flew by the only sounds the scrape of pencils and the scuffle of wood as the students adjusted and then a flurry of activity as they captured my likeness, my essence.

I saw his easel first, it was different from the others, painted bright yellow, as if he’d tried to add a little personality to what’s essentially just really three sticks held together with a couple of screws and a bit of wood. But it stood out and so I concentrated on that. The lad behind it was fairly ordinary – nice enough face and fairly well built but nothing special. He was so intent, so serious, and clearly very keen on what he was producing. I never did find out his name, it was all a little sterile. A big clock ticked away on the wall and along with the huff and puff of concentration there wasn’t much going on.

No music, which would have been nice as John, Professor Pinkney, didn’t want to spoil the atmosphere.

Time flew by and before I knew it I was putting my dressing gown back on, smiling my thanks for their brief applause at the end of the session, and exiting the room. It was suggested that I didn’t mingle with the students as there should be no hint of impropriety and so I simply went to the ladies, put my clothes on and left. Money for old rope, easy as falling off a bicycle.

Well the money came in handy and before you knew it I was modeling three or four times a week, same place but not always the same class. You could tell by the standard of the art that there was broad mix. Some of them really did me justice and the sketches really were very nice. I was allowed to keep a couple. One of them’s hanging in the down stairs loo. The lad with the yellow easel would be there a couple of times a week. Never spoke to him, just noticed him. He  stuck out like a sore thumb!

Think I’d been at the college for the best part of a year when something funny happened. I remember it was raining; I was rushing so I wouldn’t miss the bus, grabbed my mac and brolly and ran for the shelter at the end of our road. It was a Wednesday — they collect the bins on a Thursday so most of the bins were already on the pavement. I think I saw it when I was halfway to the college – water running off the windows, smokers upstairs, non-smokers down – hard to miss really but there it was, sticking out of one of the bins, a yellow easel, the one that belonged to the lad. One of the legs was snapped off and it’d been stuffed in with all the other rubbish.

Never did see him again. Strange that.”

DIRTY DEEDS – THE CHIP ‘OLE – Prologue

9 Aug

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   Mick wrinkled his nose in disgust, grunts emanating from the shadows. He could smell the shit from where he crouched, heard the slap of faeces in what was otherwise stony black silence. “Come on you dirty bugger, she’s nearly off,” he whispered. He’d heard the rattle of belt and rustle of trousers, the sound of heavy boots crunching through gravel. Bloody Amos – he did this every time! 

When they’d broken into the newsagents down the road he’d dumped a load in one of the beer refrigerators. Time before that, in the local school when they’d smashed and grabbed a couple of computers, he’d squatted like a garden gnome at a horticultural show above a masters desk. Although an unintentional guerilla defecator, Amos was particular where he left his mark. It wasn’t that he was a shrinking coward. Amos was six foot, built like a brick privy. A good mate to have in a tight corner — reassurance on a night like tonight. Years of institutionalized rugby and soccer at Woldcroft — their former comprehensive — had instilled the beginnings of Amos’ giant physique. A set of weights and a running machine in his dad’s garage had done the rest. It was a universal truth that a man with muscles got birds easier than a regular bloke. That being said there were enough pseudos in town posing as real-men; it was just difficult to see a mountain of a man like Amos doing what he did. Of course he blamed it on the adrenaline, the excitement of the moment; the euphoric urge of misadventure coursing through his bowels – hence the not uncommon site of hairy legs and an even hairier arse at the most inopportune moments. 

“Wash your hands?” whispered Mick. 

“Funny bugger aren’t you?” came the disembodied reply. 

“Every bloody time we’re on a job you have to take a dump. If you’re not bleeding careful the coppers are going to put that shite in a bag and analyze you into Leeds jail.” 

“No chance. With all the bleeding curry I eat, there’s nothing left alive in that crap.” 

They chuckled in the blackness. Amos reached into his pockets for his cigarettes and went to light up. 

“Now you’re just being bloody stupid” said Mick . 

“Aye, spose your right.” said Amos, replacing the box in his jacket.

“Shut up, here she comes.” 

**** 

Beryl took one last look around the chip shop. Everything had been wiped down, the perishables put away. Mary was a good girl more than compensating for John’s chauvinism. Although happy to stand behind the fryer chatting to customers, he was unwilling to stay behind and clean — allergic as he was to both mop and broom. “Beneath me,” is what he’d told her. He was a chef not a bloody skivvy. A wry smile twitched at her lips — that’s if you can call a man that pours chipped potatoes into boiling grease a chef. She wouldn’t change him for the world; without John there wouldn’t be a business. He’d been a God-send, a real gem. 

Formica tables glistened under electric light, ketchup bottles gleaming blood red against plastic brilliance – condensing steam dripping from stainless fry ovens onto freshly mopped tiles. Didn’t matter how much they scrubbed and cleaned, the smell of grease hung ornamented on the walls alongside posters of fish and rural coastal vistas. An ichthyologist’s wet-dream where humped back whales and basking sharks, although not on the menu, hung side by side in National Geographic decadence above hungry eaters.

Beryl glanced into the gloom of the seating area, the extermination device crackling as another kamikaze insect impaled itself onto blue doom. Things had worked out for the best she thought, despite the upset of the past couple of years. Business was booming better than ever, battered fish and Yorkshire spuds turning greasy goodness into a printing press for ready cash. Another few months and the bank would be sorted, some money on the account and hopefully enough for the extension. She’d grown the business so why not expand the property? She had it all planned. A little bit of luxury for some of her more potentially exclusive clientele. Retirees and well healed travelers who’d no doubt love to sit in comfort amongst shone brass, draped plastic fishing nets and maritime ephemera. A couple of wooden tables, a bit of carpet and she could add a couple of extra quid to the yet to be deigned a la carte menu. 

Day trippers passing through the village on their way to Bridlington and the coast were begging to be relieved of their holiday spending money. StantonBridge was perfectly situated, the unique location of the chippy able to cater to the starving hoards travelling in either direction. They’d branched out over the past year to take care of the influx of city folk and now offered a wider selection. The Mermaids Tale no longer served just fish and chips. When her husband, Bill the Bastard, had still been around the only choices on the menu had been Cod or Haddock. Now alongside the perennials they served sausages, burgers, pies and half chickens, microwavable sauces and instant pasta. If it could be deep fried then it was on the menu. Nothing phased Beryl anymore. Requests for batter fried apples and chocolate bars an everyday experience. Now instead of charging pence for a portion of newspaper wrapped delight they were charging pounds. Inflation had pushed prices up however, there was still a livelihood to be earned. 

‘Where there’s muck there’s brass,” is what her father had told her. Despite his lack of education and the fact that he wasn’t right all the time, even when he was, there had been wisdom in his words. It wasn’t the life she dreamed of as a young girl however, she was playing the cards she’d been dealt. Circumstances and a failed marriage had made her a Goddess of Grease and she wasn’t about to throw it away, no matter the pressure of competition or the long hours. Although things had been strained of late what with the anonymous silent threats emanating from mute telephones and the disturbing regularity of unsigned hate-mail pushed through her letter box, all would be well. Besides she’d informed the local constabulary who’d promised they’d get to the bottom of it. Probably just kids or some idle wanker with nothing better to do. 

Her fingers danced briefly on the alarm pad before reaching for her handbag and walking towards the door. Flicking the light switch she stepped outside into the drizzle, turning the key in the lock. Putting her face to the glass she peered past the eat more spuds sticker, watching as the light on the alarm turned from green to red. Time to go to bed and get some kip, there was brass to be made; she’d have to be up early in the morning to prepare for the Saturday rush. Pulling her jacket tight to ward of the cold, she turned to leave, her sensible heels clip-clopping on wet pavement. The cold was starting to creep in, mist forming above the duck pond in the village square below; damp and the smell of burning coal drifting down to street level. It wasn’t much but Stanton-Bridge was home. She rounded the corner and disappeared from view. 

**** 

Mick pushed his finger against his lips. Amos thumped him in the chest.

“Shut up you stupid beggar, she’ll hear us.”

“Not a chance, she’s long gone. She won’t be back.”

They sat in cold-breathed silence for another ten minutes. Better to be safe than sorry. Past experience had taught them caution. 

They’d scouted the building earlier that evening, sitting in Amos’ old Ford Cortina down by the telephone box; shivering in darkness watching the comings and goings of hungry mouths. Cars filled with starving kids returning from seaside jaunts parked alongside them. The last stop before returning to Monday morning madness and the clarion call of factory whistles. It seemed that everybody and his dog was eating at the chippy, they must have seen a hundred people walk through the Mermaid’s door. Tim sucked on the gobstopper he‘d been sucking on for the last hour. A behemoth of boiled sugar which although morphed in color refused to reduce in size. Fish and chips was about  $2.50 ahead so for a family of four that was tenner. Mick did the math in his head as quickly as he could, resisting the impulse to pull off his shoes and socks.

Bloody hell no wonder Mr. Gilbertson wanted a number doing on the place. They were clearly raking it in, hand over fist. It was like Gilbertson said, “Aint nothing wrong with a bit of competition but that woman’s taking the piss.” 

They sat, listened to the radio, talked about football and discussed their conquests at the local Corn Mill disco. Friday night fumblings in the car park with farm lasses looking for a bit of rough. A local bus stopping at rural bus stops to pick up quaffed and perfumed girls dressed to kill and with enough mascara to sink a battleship before depositing them at the Friday night venue. A couple of rum-and-blacks and a quick whizz round the dance floor was more than enough to lubricate knicker elastic. However tonight wasn’t about pleasure, it was all business. 

They’d dressed for the occasion dark clothes and combat jackets, heavy boots and leather gloves. Although not expecting trouble they were prepared to deal with whatever came there way; woolen balaclavas and crow bars lay on the back seat. This was going to be a nice little earner. Half up front and half when the job was done, same as usual except this time the rewards more than matched the risk. This wasn’t some half filled potato barn on the far side of the village they were razing for insurance money this was serious jail time they were looking at if they fucked it up. The Mermaid was smack dab in the center of the village. Surrounded by what passed for the central business district – the village post office, two pubs, a news agents and the local super market. The chippy shut at ten however the bitch invariably staid longer, timing her exit with throwing out time at the Bay Horse next door. The earlier crowds of happy eaters were long gone, now driving down motorways dealings with the are-we-already-there-yets! 

They watched as the last drunk exited the pub, cap on head, fag in mouth. Saw the lights of the bar extinguish and watched as the man unzippered and peed into the planters at the top of the stone steps. 

“Dirty bastard,” said Amos. “No wonder those frigging plants are dead.” 

Choosing their moment they turned the key, the motor coughing and spluttering into life and drove around the corner. Parking behind the overgrown church yard to the rear of the Mermaid, they skulked in blackness making for all the world they were never there. 

They sat in silence. This was it, this is what they d come to do. 

The area behind the pub was used as an overspill for the limited parking in the square on the other side of the shadowed buildings — now devoid of drink drivers and bathed in moonlight. They stuck to the extremities skirting the dry stone wall, hiding in the shadows as they made their way towards the back of the chip shop. They could smell it, taste it, the warm inviting aroma of lard laden fish and soggy chips. It was a shame really although the money offered by Gilbertson assuaged all guilt. The Mermaid was a quality establishment. Fish cooked in real beef drippings – a true sign of Yorkshire quality. Late night meetings with Gilbertson had removed all doubt, his language concise and threatening, all uncertainty dispelled. The rewards for success were great, the penalty for failure ominous – they’d prepared accordingly. The smell of petrol betrayed their presence, the liquid sloshing in the jerry-can reminding them that theirs was a serious mission. 

They’d cased the place over the past couple of weeks in preparation of the inevitable. It was a done job. The bathroom window was no longer linked to the alarm system, not since they had snipped the wires, pared the bare ends and stuffed them behind the base board. Short circuited certainty they’d have any easy entrance come the ignominious day. 

Mick cursed as he hoisted Amos up to the small rear window. “Hurry up you fat bastard before anybody sees us.”  A boot in the face — the splinter of wood and crack of glass answered his urgency. 

“Keep your hair on lad. Aint nobody going to see us out ere, not at this hour”. 

Mick watched as Amos squeezed through the open space, passed up the jerry can and then supported by Amos’ gloved hand scrambled up the wall. 

**** 

The bathroom was quiet apart from the drip of the tap and the constant overflow from the cistern. A calming effect after the adrenalin infused excitement of their mad scramble. Bit like the whale music his sister had used when she had found herself up the duff with some sprog from an army lad she’d met at a disco. 

“God now I want to shit again,” cursed Amos.

“Not now, lets get this bloody done and get the fuck out of here.” 

 

 

THE TRAVELLER

6 Aug

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 A LIFE LESS TRODDEN…

“There’s a code, not a lot of people know that, they just think that homelessness is about not having a roof over your head. There’s that of course, but there’s so much more to it than just that. It’s a little like thinking that fishing is about threading a worm onto a hook and casting a line into some murky pool in the hope of getting that Kodak comment with a slime covered fish and a grainy photo on the back page of the Evening Press. If that were the case then why would people do it — why do people do anything? Is it about pitting your wits, the thrill of the chase, the chance encounter with that which will enlarge the mundane and make for fireside-tellings and beer soaked half-truths all the more enduring? Nobody really wants to get out of bed at dark o’clock and sit in some stinking mud pit whilst chewing on cheese and onion sandwiches  —  filthy nails digging into pure white bread — and sipping on over sugared tepid tea. Bollocks is what it is, yet thousands, no I would think billions, head to the waterside every weekend to indulge in pseudo riparianism. So what are they running from — or too for that matter — all those silent, solitary, static figures? A chance to be alone, to think, to peruse and plumb the depths of ones psyche and weigh one’s soul against a pocket sized Feather of Maat — to see if one is wanting in the getting enough out of life stakes. A trip down memory lane, a troll through consciousness — simply being at one with oneself. You can’t tell me that the hordes of camouflaged enthusiasts waiting in the reeds, like Rourke’s Drift Zulus, are thinking about fishing? A chance at the big time perhaps, a reprieve from quotidian Colditz tunnel digging and the journey towards the light at the end of it? The smell of corruption and the ache of bone chilling cold in preference to domestic bliss-ter and heated conversation? Course not, they’re a million miles away on the other side of the universe traversing interstellar highways in personalized time-discontiuums. Hence it’s like homelessness, exactly like homelessness because one has nothing to do with the other, or itself, and that’s where you strike the parallel — the fact that both states have absolutely zero in common with their supposed activity. It’s all about escape, running away — social if not moral cowardice wrapped up in fuzzy weekend activity or a none participatory societal state. The anglers of the world are abject cowards; the fish can probably see their yellow spines through the murk of filth through which they submarine.

Likewise the homeless with that unwashed well-worn bravado who epitomize misguided declarations of what it is to be free — a slap in the face to paycheck wage slaves living the nightmare of two up two downs, thirty year mortgages and the unrequited love of their 1.7 children. We’ve all seen my colleagues, and I do use the term loosely, down on the corner banging their drums, waving the flags, playing their three string guitars and juggling as though their lives depended on it. Strange really that a folk so interested in shunning society are so eager to make their presence felt and engender contact with those whom they despise — as though rotting teeth, tussled hair and an urgent need of a bath is going to enjoin the right kinds of social intercourse! There we sit with our mangy dogs and our even mangier women, surrounded by brown bagged sausage-roll sustenance and empty cider bottles. Hardly an advertisement to those contemplating a similar lifestyle — not exactly a recruiting campaign to join the legion of the idle or the regiment of the damned.

But I digress.

There’s a code. Not one where we face the East on our knees or exchange bodily fluids in freshly slashed pressed flesh, but a code all the same. The code is to never take more than you need, never be a burden and never beg. If you choose to dismiss the first two then one must insure that the third statute is upheld. I’ve seen them myself and they disgust me, able bodied teens — sturdy beggars — sitting on the pavement, heads down with palms outstretched. Nothing wrong with the buggers, there just suffering from that malodorous affliction called self-induced idleness. What they really need to do is get off their arses and go and find something that would actually allow them to finance whatever addiction it is they are trying support via the misguided benevolence of the passing public. The freedom they were looking for, the Romany lifestyle all be it sans caravan, is probably more effort than they’d envisioned. Being homeless isn’t easy, there’s the constant hassle from the pigs, the queue at the soup kitchen, the inevitable Mary and Joseph moment where one discovers after five rain soaked hours that there really is no room at the inn.

It’s hard bloody work.

When ones wardrobe consists of a puke stained jacket from Dumpster and Sons and pair of third party, gently-used piss-stained jeans that barely button, one can hardly expect to excel at the interviews. Sure you may have your shit together, the lies may cascade from your tongue and your eloquence effervesce however, the fact that the prospective employer can’t stand to be in the same room as you because of the way you smell is hardly conducive to a symbiotic working relationship. Being homeless means acceptance of oneself and one’s own created reality. It’s a choice; it’s something you want to do. One chooses to travel, to peruse life from the other side and to experience a life less trodden. There’s no romance, you can leave that to the scribblers and the poets. A life on the road isn’t for the feint of heart, where every moment is an adventure, every day an accomplishment. To be at odds with human nature, an observer of the real world isn’t everybody’s luke warm cup of tea. Nobody asked or forced me, it was something I chose to do.

I may be a work shy cunt but I’ll never beg!”