OK. So. Me’s in the Threshold’s Features Competition Longlist.  Clap, clap, clap.

I tole him. Get a life. It’s a long list for cryin’ out loud. Whaddya wan? A fanfare? Sheesh!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long List! I ask ya? He’s so pleased wit’ himself. Pathetic! Whatcha gonna do?

Have you checked out these guys yet? CUTalongstory

We’re having a lazy Sunday…..

So here’s a story (BHD made earlier)…

All In A Row

Martyn winced.

And you know what he said to her, when I introduced them? He said of man’s desiring? Joy Of Man’s Desiring. It’s from a hymn. And he did that thing with his voice at the end, to make it a question.

Mary smiled, and bit her lip gently.

And what did she say?

Well, she was all over him, metaphorically. She was like a school girl. Well, perhaps not like one of today’s school girls, but you know what I mean.

You do have to give him full marks, for effort, she said, tilting her head and looking at Martyn over her glasses.

Do you? I thought it was all rather cheesy.

Lighten up, Martyn. Harry always flirts, with everyone, you said.

Martyn shot her a glance. She hadn’t met him, had she? He’d always tried to keep Mary and Harry apart, keep her in reserve, so to speak, keep her clean.

You’re better off without her. If she can be won over that easily.

Won over by Harry, Martyn thought. Not won over by him, by Martyn. She hadn’t been a pushover for Martyn. He rubbed the flat of his palm around the rim of his wine glass, and it squealed delightedly.

I suppose so.

No suppose about it! Drink your wine. Relax. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.

Well, Martyn thought, I don’t know about that. In fact, from what he’d seen on the news and read in the papers that was the last thing there was. The trouble was, the sort of fish Mary was talking about weren’t on quotas. They were fair game for anybody, even for each other these days. They were fair game for the Harries of this world. But it was just a metaphor, a dead metaphor, a worn out, used up metaphor.

There are plenty of other pebbles on the beach, he said out loud, not meaning to.

I’m sorry?

You’re right. I shan’t worry about it anymore.

But he couldn’t help worrying. Wasn’t anybody safe from Harry? Wasn’t there anyone who Harry wouldn’t have a pop at? And always some clever little witticism, popping off the top of his head. Martyn wondered if they really were that spontaneous. Did he rehearse them beforehand, work them out in advance? He’d known Joy’s name in advance. Martyn knew that, because he’d made the mistake of telling him. I’m going out with that girl, he’d said, from the Health Club.

Oh? Which one’s that? Harry had asked, all innocence. Joy, Martyn had said, and then, and this was the really stupid thing, he’d said, why don’t you come and join us for a drink; because that’s what he always did, with Harry. He always asked him along, because Harry was Martyn’s sidekick. Or was it the other way around?

Well, he’d not made that mistake tonight. He’d said, we’re going for a quiet little drink together at the Curwen Arms.

What? That little place out in the sticks?

That’s the one. A little, quiet, tete-a-tete- for two.

And Harry had said, I thought you and this Mary weren’t like that?

Like what?

You know, an item.

We’re not an item, Martyn had insisted, and they weren’t either. They were just good friends, and, so long as Harry kept his nose out, good friends they would stay. Unless of course they became an item, which Martyn hadn’t got around to testing out just yet.

Maybe he had a little book of them, Harry: those clever little things he said; ready to fling into the conversation when the chance arose. Women liked that sort of thing. How many times had he heard them say, because he makes me laugh. Bastard!

At least Mary wouldn’t fall for something like that, even if she did give him full marks for trying.

He took a long drink of the wine, tilting his head back as he did so, which brought the foyer of the hotel into his line of vision. Harry was standing just inside the revolving door, looking around. Martyn choked on the wine and two red dribbles like tinted tears ran down his chin.

Steady on Martyn. No need to drink it quite that fast.

Harry, he said.

Let’s not think about Harry any more, she said, reaching forward and laying her hand on his arm.

No! Harry, he said, nodding towards the door. At which point Harry spotted him, put a broad smile on his face, and crossed the room towards them. Bloody hell, Martyn said.

Mary twisted around in her seat. A rather good looking man, in a very well cut suit, that somehow seemed as casual as jeans and a T-shirt, was striding towards them with a cheeky grin on his face.

Martyn, you sly old thing, Harry said, thrusting a hand out.

What are you doing here? Martyn demanded, ignoring it.

And you must be? Harry said, and the hand twisted, into an open palmed gesture of supplication into which Mary, without thinking, laid her own palm. Harry’s palm ascended, carrying  the back of her hand to his lips.

Mary, she said, half-amused.

He brushed the back of her hand with his moustache, his brown eyes gazing into hers. Quite contrary, I’ll bet….

>END

You can find other BHD stories in The Writer’s Secret. Just click on the image. 

Radio 4 pissed me off this week. (No! Never! Well, hardly ever…). They announced a short story slot with the phrase ‘by the novelist’.

 

 

Pewter Rose will cease trading at the end of the month, but there is still time to buy copies of their publications, including A Penny Spitfire and Talking To Owls by Brindley Hallam Dennis.

I had a ‘fork ’andles’ moment in Wigton today…. I’d gone into a local DIY shop to look for some cork tiles. I need to cover a shelf I said, and need some cork. The man showed me some glue. I need the cork, not the glue, I said. He pointed to the tin….cauk…. (RIP,RB)

One of the Facets of Fiction that I’ve made a point of teaching – if that’s the right word – over the last decade, has been that of the narrative voice.

It’s not something specific to short stories, but to the short story it is critical. Short stories are in the lineage of anecdotes and tales: they predate the written and printed story, and are told – not shown – by somebody, to somebody else – to several somebodies simultaneously perhaps.

There are several implications to that telling. That the teller has a purpose (never travel without a porpoise – Lewis Carroll) is probably the most obvious, and possibly the most important. Another implication is that the teller will have a time and place in mind for the telling, and an appropriate voice – think Hyacinth Bucket’s phone voice. They might also, I think, match the story, and the telling to the imagined listener or reader.

But there’s another factor, easily forgotten, behind this created narration, and that is we ourselves. The author, masked, rather than killed off, remains the person who has imagined – or remembered- it all: narrator, telling, story. It’s worth reflecting on the fact that how the author does that gives us a mirror image of what he, or she, truly is. Ultimately, we are the ones who believe the story is worth telling, and who have at least an inkling of why that might be.

BFB coverBHD’s collection of longer (for him!) stories The Man Who Found A Barrel Full of Beer is available here.

In the days before mobile phones, when coin operated phone boxes were never where you were when you had the right coins in your pocket, I hitched out of London unexpectedly one night, and got picked up by a somnolent driver who kept himself awake, and me on the edge of his passenger seat, by driving on the cats’ eyes at the edge of the motorway lanes. Eventually he dropped me off in the middle of nowhere, where I stood for several hours, with owls circling my head, until a fresh dawn broke.

Thirty years later, that became the basis for the story Dawn Chorus, included in the collection Other Stories & Rosie Wreay, but now also available as a download from CUTalongstory.

I’ve spent a lot of time considering the changes that adaptation can make to stories, but of course editing, even slightly, can have similar effects: sometimes changing the focus, or even the implied intent of a story.

Last weekend Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom was shown on terrestrial TV here in the Untied Kingdom. I’ve mentioned it before, and particularly the very short sex scene: as the two runaway children go into a clinch, he says, it’s hard, and she replies, I like it. This pithy analysis of sexual attraction resonates with more than just the characters of the film, but in the context of the film makes explicit what might otherwise be left implicit, and thus subject to being ignored, denied, or even not noticed.

And yet, and yet, the ratfinks and fuckwits who put out this stuff saw fit to remove that scene, and what’s more they did it professionally (i.e. for pay!). Wouldn’t it be a good idea, seeing as we can’t stop these people committing this sort of butchery on works of art, couldn’t we at least insist that they include a real time insert of blank screen where the intended content has been excised? Then we would get to see, not what was missing, but at least that there was something missing, and we would know that we have been sold an adulterated product.

The better the story the more difficult it is to make any changes without profoundly affecting it, and Moonrise Kingdom tells a very good story, when it’s allowed to.---_0261

And while I’m at it, I thought it must be may age, being unable to make out what was being said by the ‘Archer’ character in SS-GB…relieved to read that others – younger than me – had trouble too! Good novel. Shame about the adaptation (which looked like a good storyline. Never thought of using the subtitles, but wouldn’t have anyway).

Here’s a big mag. with a small (BHD) story in it!

Happy New Year!