The Calling: The Plan

Way back in 1994, following a few incidents, minor life-ticks, (I really do not know another way of describing them, little things that happen, that don’t really mean or do something on their own – they just add up to a greater part), I started writing the book that I am still writing, The Calling. It is nearing completion, one day – possibly this year, I will set about getting/paying/bribing/pleading with, people to publish it. But, (it still needs work, some missing ingredient, a special thing, I don’t know what that thing is…but I think I might have found something that might help. And yes, it’s a bit radical, a bit banal, it’s so totally me!

In 2015 whilst visiting New England Garden Centre, Radcliffe – well actually just after, I implored Chris to take us on a bit of a joy ride. See, in the years between 1994-1996 I fell in love…with Walshaw / Elton. I used to catch the 510 bus into Bury when I was on a training scheme there and then again when I worked for Thermo. After this I used to drive around there at least once a week, looking for something, I don’t know what, a sense of belonging there had grabbed hold of me I guess. On the day of the garden centre visit I just wanted Chris to take me back to Walshaw again and she duly obliged. We went to San Roccos and had a meal and a great time. More than this however (trying and failing not to use the B-word again) I felt that ‘Walshaw’ feeling again, as if temporarily, I’d been transported back to that ignition moment, the start of The Calling. Oh and yes, The Calling is set in Walshaw / Elton / Ainsworth (where all the good things come from!).

So, the plan? Well the more perceptive of you will have deduced that I plan on going back to Walshaw…on the bus! Shock horror! This is going to cost a bit of money, probably about £20-00 as I will have to catch a train down to Bolton, then using my new m-tickets app ,  I’ll get on either the 510 or 511 and hopefully recover the mindset…and yes I have stolen that description straight from the lines of Manhunter!

I won’t be able to exactly replicate my former 510 bus journeys for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t live in Bolton anymore, and I’m not stopping overnight at my dad’s – he’ll think I’ve gone even more barking than what he probably already does!
  2. The 510 no longer stops at the place where I used to board it! Boooo!
  3. The 510 now has a slightly different route, although (for the moment) it still goes where I need for it to go.

But, (grrr!) one thing holding me back is that it was summer when I first started catching that 510 to Bury. Here’s my quandry, do I wait until Summer or just go for it any old time? I realise how absolutely funky this all must sound. Seriously, are you surprised if you know me (and at least one of you does)?

Chris was all kinds of ‘Wha?’ and ‘Meh!’ when I told her of my plans last night. I can’t blame her, I would understand someone saying something like my plan, but (seriously now!) I tend to spend most of my time thinking outside of the box, hell, I wish I spent more time, near, if not in, the bloody box! It may work, it may be a big fat waste of twenty quid, who is to say before the event? I’m making this sound like a really big thing aren’t I? I do that a lot (bloody drama queen!).

Meanwhile, work on The Calling will now come to an end until ‘that day’. Black Lights needs work – it needs rewriting if the truth be known, because it’s a more like something you would see on the Hallmark Channel and about as thrilling as watching lettuce wilt! There are good parts:

  • The rebuilding of the corner house
  • Joe’s explosive demise
  • Will and his aura revelations
  • April’s fall into darkness

But that is not enough. Fortunately, Easter (yargh I hate it!) is almost upon us and of course Chris will be working it, leaving me at home on my own (or will Pepper be with us?). This will give me time to start writing once more – I may even blag a monitor from work and get my PC back from Dad’s – should take about a day updating the thing, but then I can type away happily, it never works out that well on a laptop.

Then, when I’ve got Black Lights moving nicely along…I can stick with it! I have proved that I can’t do more than one thing at once, it’s time to own that by not attempting anything more.

See you when the fog clears…

Random Memories,Part one: Ground Zero

If it’s going to have to begin somewhere, then here would be a good a start as anywhere.

It wasn’t that I hated going to the caravan park in North Wales. After all, most people in the North West of England had been there at some point in the last thirty-something years. It was just that, well, the novelty had run out around three years ago and I was never one to break the hearts of my poor parents, by informing them that the holiday sucked. Not that such a description officially existed, we’re in the good old 1970’s here, and I’m eleven…I think.

So once again we were in the car, hurtling down another motorway, on route to Presthaven Sands Caravan Park, just outside the one-sheep village of Gronant in Flintshire, Wales. Mum and dad were in the front seats of the car, a big, dark-blue, Australian-American Ford Fairmont. Honestly, the thing must have been around twenty feet from bumper to bumper. Dad did always have taste that bordered on ostentatious.  In the back were the three of us: ‘Pippin’, our aging golden cocker-spaniel, myself and a leg of lamb – it seems wrong to not grant a role to poor old ‘larry’ ,he was only there  if only in part.

I think we’d already gone past ‘Face Mountain’, which I’ve since realised is not a mountain at all and to be honest, it doesn’t really look much more like a face than any other hill. Essentially, if you squint at a hill surely they all look like someone with a bloody big nose! Of course, there’s always the chance that we hadn’t actually reached not-really-face-mountain yet, as I shall reveal later, things got a bit messed up.

Dad did always have a bit of an active sense of humour. Sometimes, he’d dick around with the steering and we’d weave in and around the round, I seem to remember him doing this on Ainsworth Lane, there’s nothing spectacular about Ainsworth Lane so I suppose the prospect of ram-raiding the Co-op with a massive bitching car would have been exciting for all involved. So, it was not that much of a surprise to me when we started frantically weaving in and around on the motorway. We went from the inner lane to the outer lane and back again a couple of times, at seventy-miles-per-hour. Finally, dad managed to get the car back in control, for about a second and then we were off again.

I distinctly remember shouting ‘Dad!’ believing that he was still, dicking about. I think that I remember him also yelling back something about ‘We’ve lost both tyres!’  I think I remember an experience similar to being on a really tremendous roller-coaster. A highly scary ten-seconds’ worth of being thrown around a bit. I do remember a period of darkness and waking up with Larry and Pippin both on my face. I really need to clarify Larry’s razon d’etré. Well, you know in the 1970’s when people used to cook things and if they were not eaten that night then your mum would save them for ‘butties’ (sandwiches) the day after? This was Larry’s reason for being in the car, when we got to the caravan, we were going to consume the rest of Larry on bread. I should probably add that Larry was in a roasting tin, well, before the car decided it had experienced enough of life in the fast lane and made a bee-line for the embankment.

Where was I? Oh that’s right, kind of hori-vertical in the back of dad’s ostentatious car with a leg of lamb and a dog in my face. Hey, it’s not as bad as it sounds, some people pay for that kind of animalistic rough-housing, I got it for free! Mum and Dad are very English in the way that they reacted,  “Are you alright?” they reassured each other and within  a minute or two got around to asking me, I think it was me, Pippin never was much of a barker and his English language skills were truly shocking. Larry, as we all know, was a bit on the deceased side of things so I am going to assume that they were indeed asking me if I was okay?

I said ‘yes’ then seemed to lose the ability to speak. As I don’t remember saying anything until later that night. We more or less fell quite gingerly out of the car as we had all seen car crashes on television and expected the thing to blow up any second. Is it wrong to admit that I was somewhat miffed when the car just simply sat there doing nothing apart from looking a bit inclined? Oh, well. Another car pulled over onto the embankment as we were ascending the minor slope from our car. The driver looked kind of flushed in the face, perhaps because he was so damned fat, sorry but this was the 1970’s and people were either fat or thin, no in-between, it was a simpler time, when even the word simpler didn’t seem to exist (unlike today!).

He recanted the story of how he had seen us and what had happened and even now I think back and scowl at the way he identified with us – ‘scuse me, it was our bloody crash! By something of a miracle of luck we must have crashed very near to one of those emergency telephones that are scattered every-so-often up and down the length of U.K. motorways and Dad called for the A.A… he must have needed a drink! (insert laughter here!) Quick service too, as within an hour or so they had arrived, two of them. One on our side of the carriageway had turned up in one of those vehicles with a crane / winch type thingy for retrieving our car from its mooring place on the embankment. And on the other side of the carriageway was the vehicle in which they were going to transport us to our next destination, d-oh! In hindsight, to do what he wanted they should have arrived in a bloody hearse.

The dominant member of the A.A. rescue force seemed a nice man, very thick glasses, mid-length, sandy-brown hair, a bit of a pot-belly but nowhere near as pronounced as his partner’s. All-in-all a photogenic MVP for the automobile association…unless they actually wanted to attract people in which case, they’d probably need someone a bit more, nicer looking. As I say he was a lovely charming man, reassuring us that we were ‘lucky not to have been killed’. He put it to us, that seeing as they had parked on essentially the other side of the motorway, all of us would have to do a bit of light exercise by ‘froggering’ across all ,  six lanes of fast-moving motorway traffic, to their awaiting vehicle.

Mum, bless her, was a bit concerned. Dad seemed up for it, indeed, although my brain had not yet matured to that point in life where it knows what a calculated risk is, let alone bloody well doing one, I was semi up for it too. To be honest, I was not that sure that the dog would be so easy to encourage into the expedition / suicide mission! And Larry would simply not make it…with him still being all dead, Larry just didn’t buy into the whole team spirit side of things!

Thankfully for all our sakes, and to the downfall of the glamorous A.A. chap, the Police turned up next with a little present for said A.A. chap, a right-royal bollocking. See, mum had got to the Police first and ever-so-calmly informed the officers what this cracked bastard had proposed – legging it across six motorway lanes, with a dog! The Policeman was only slightly flabbergasted before turning that colour which lobsters go if you cook them for long enough!  This was the unexpected highlight of the day as the young policeman tore metaphorical strips of our beloved reckless cretin.

Apparently, cones should have been placed up to fifty yards in either direction of the recovery vehicle, the man should have been wearing a hi-vis jacket (well his teeth were yellow) and as for imploring us into his suicide plan, well that just wasn’t on, until that day I’d never heard a policeman swear before let alone ask the A.A. douche if he was ‘fucking joking?’ I remember holding mum’s hand as we waited for the passenger vehicle…next to one of the busiest and fastest moving motorways in the country, ah, happy times!

Suitably chastised, the idiot contacted his sidekick on the other side of the motorway and asked him to come over to our side. The other man concurred and within ten minutes was with us and being dressed down by lobster-cop. We were ushered into the passenger vehicle – a converted Ford Transit pickup which sat three of us in one seat…and a dog. I distinctly remember the man apologizing to us for his colleague suggesting that we play hopscotch across the M…damn I just can’t remember which motorway it was. I remember mum saying something deeply profound to me, along the lines of: “Aw, aren’t you good. The girls would have been crying and kicking and screaming by now, but you just took it all in.” The irony still kind of grates on me now almost forty years later.

Something like an hour later, we were back at home in good old Bolton, fresh with the tale of our day to my awaiting sisters. They had decided not to come to Wales with us that weekend, presumably staying at home and spending time with their respective boyfriends was preferable to the exciting new sport of motorway gliding, go figure! Mum opened up the conversation nicely when she commenced: “You nearly didn’t have a family today…” Nice, and up goes the Azrael Block! I don’t know what else was said, I’d kind of zoned out. I do remember suddenly realising that yes, we could have died, as if this was the first time that thought had penetrated my lethargic brain.

Meanwhile, Dad had been on the phone and had ordered us another car in which we could go down to the caravan after all. I made my case that I decided that I didn’t want to go, and was duly ignored. We bloody well went anyway. Did we have a good time those few days? No, but I discovered I had a minor penchant for emotionally manipulating people who had played a bit part in almost killing me. After seeing an almighty electronic organ in a music shop I decided that it might help my recovery if I was bought one of these devices…and a month later it arrived. I had two lessons then sacked it off and Dad took over the role of murdering tunes on it for the next ten years, maybe I hadn’t manipulated him at all and he had bought the organ for himself?

Many years later, I think I was in my thirties, mum and me had a conversation about the crash and how I had utterly hated to go back to the caravan that night and forever after. She defended the decision to go by arguing that if we hadn’t had gone that night, then we might never have gone again…big deal, I hated going anyway.

At some point in time it was announced by either one of them that we had in fact turned over three times in the car that fateful day. I simply do not remember this. Which leads me to believe that either

  • We never turned over and someone’s imagination has been at work, or
  • My brain had done the Azrael thing and simply blocked this out from my conscious memory

Bugger! I say that because at one point when I was in my late twenties I happened to be driving my Dad’s Cortina Mk 5. I really loved that car. It was an early summer’s evening and I was driving to Chez’s house in Halliwell. I opted to take the Tonge Moor Road / Folds Road route, which features a lovely swooping corner. I hit some oil and before you could say autonomic recall, as this car was veering off to the side of the road and back again, for a microsecond or two I was back in the back seat of the Fairmont, bumping around and panicking again. Ace, the phrase ‘total recall’ seemed most appropriate. I don’t think that we did turn over three times, or even once. Did I mention that on one holiday all members of my family forgot what bloody day it was and were really upset at the prospect of having lost a day? I don’t get that logic either, we lost nothing. Well apart from me losing the ability to sleep for a fortnight when my brother-in-law-to-be would come back to our tent pissed out of his skull, fall asleep and then snore on an international scale!

Believe me, it took meeting my beloved Christine, to get me to want to go on any kind of holiday again after my childhood vacation terrors!




What I’m Currently reading: Late March, 2017

I do want this to go into a category of its own, but I can’t work out how to do this in this version of WordPress, never mind. (Edit, and now I’ve done it>>>”What I’m Reading”)

So, at the moment I have two books on the go – never do one thing at once do I?

The first one is a mighty tome – well it is to lift anyway:

Book cover of the Straw men by Michael Marshall The Straw Men by Michael Marshall. I won’t lie, at first I didn’t like it, as it appeared to be set in a small town in backwater America. With the exception of the town at the centre of the second book (below), I don’t like small, remote towns, I imagine most autophobes don’t!  Anyway, it  isn’t, and that was just the prologue anyhow. After the first massacre,  the pace steps up a lot and Marshall follows a fairly binary/ternary approach, one chapter-one-version of the narrative, sometimes you may get the same two characters spilling over two or three chapters but no more than this.

 What’s the story, morning glory?

Why, thank you (sorry I seem to be possessed by the spirit of someone, well-camp!). From what I can ascertain so far, there is a serial killer, who has already taken four girls from pretty much broad daylight. After he’s done whatever he does with them he sends a sweater tied with a ribbon made of their hair back to their home address – the sick little monkey! Right from the start of the story we are told that the nutter (sorry, mustn’t judge), raving lunatic, has Sarah who seems to be quite a feisty little madam, – I love Sarah she is so ‘owning’ being abducted.  On his tale are a female Fed (Okay, I just wanted to try out saying that!) and an x-cop (potentially, he hasn’t really told us) and then in another direction is the protagonist – who again the author has deviously shrouded in a bit of mystery. The main guy – Ward is in town to bury his parents, but he gets a message which kind of throws a spanner in the works – I’m trying to rein-in the spoiler potential here.

And herein lies the originality of this tale. It’s told in split-narrative (damn, someone’s got there before me!). Sarah and headcase and the Fed and the x-cop are narrated in the third person, but then Ward is told in the first person – that’s brilliant, wish I’d got there first. This makes the pace nice and pacey (of all the adjectives I could have used!). Now I do have issues with Marshall’s writing style in that sometimes, I found he really overly described things – this is what put me off Dean Koontz. I’m sure it’s mostly salient detail that will become obvious in the final outcome…or not! I’m about two-thirds of the way through the novel at the moment and in that certain state when I’m enjoying it so much that I don’t want to finish it, but just have to do so. I’ll respond to this post when I’ve finished.

And now for the update: I hit my stride a couple of days into reading this and was most impressed at the way that the author united all of the characters. I guessed that the killer / kidnapper / psycho would prove to be Ward’s brother (What? You thought there wouldn’t be spoilers, ha!). If I have any gripes it’s that the book never even attempts a resolution. It’s so blatantly obvious that this is simply part one of a series and I can imagine that at the time of its first release, this would have really pissed people off. Luckily for me, I was exceptionally late to the game and only had to wait a few days for book two – which I didn’t want to start straight away as I didn’t want to read the entire series, back to back and then be stuck for something else to read, end up reading everything the author has ever had published…the usual obsessive me (I’m trying to take a break from myself!).

And now for book two, which to anyone who knows me well will come as no surprise:

Picture of the cover of The Secret History of Twin Peaks bookThe Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost. Although I truly loved the series, the characters and the whole ‘TP universe’ I never really went a bundle on buying the merchandise. Okay so I did get ‘Falling’ on CD and the Julee Cruise album…and the soundtrack to Fire Walk With Me, but that’s all. This is the first TP literature that I’ve bought. And it’s really very good…so far. And the fact that this is written by Mr Frost and not Mr Lynch may indicate that it’s not going to get overly weird for the sake of being weird any time soon.

What’s it all about, Alfie?

Who’s Alfie? Okay, so this is written from the perspective of an FBI agent who appears to have found an in-depth dossier compiled by ‘The Archivist’ detailing events leading up to where the Twin Peaks series started. At first we are treated to ‘hand-written’ letters from the time of “Lewis and Clark” – apparently they essentially did a Magellan on the great North-Western territories (I’m just not cut out for historical writing am I?).  For the record, these are bloody hard to read, there I’ve said it! Authenticity is one thing, as is suspension of disbelief, but then so is giving your readers a stinking migraine whilst they try and pick apart what’s been scrawled. I now feel kind of guilty for what my ungainly scrawling would  have put my teachers through! (And breathe!).

When deciphered, I found some of these letters to be fascinating…and in no way subtle – banging on about the ring from the get-go. Most readers are now thinking ‘what ring?‘ – in the TP universe, there is a ring that if worn will bring about the demise of the wearer. In the series, it was pretty much not referred to, in Fire Walk With Me it was all over the bloody place, like they were trying to emphasise the thing. With it being here again, right from the start, although it’s interesting…it’s kind of ‘Well, so what? Could you show me another trick?’.

I’m not even a quarter of the way through this yet, it’s not exactly ‘bus-journey’ reading material owing to the aforementioned, hand-written letters, but I am loving what I’ve read so far. Opinion seems to be divided with regards to its reception by the hard core TP fans – they’re a funny bunch though! If you’re looking to gain an insight into series three (due out in May / June) thennnnn this is probably not going to offer much more help than clicking your heels together three times and reciting ‘there’s no place like home‘! If, like me, you’d always wondered about the mythology of the Twin Peaks locale and the plot lines which were meant to have happened prior to the series… then this could well be for you/us/me!

The update: Well, there isn’t one. For now this book has defeated me. I blame the arrival of Pepper the cat who gives me no peace at all when I am trying to read.

Round and around

In brief:

Funny year so far, two funerals, injuries galore, next to zero walking and the tumultuous transformation of my brain because the parameters of a friendship  had changed – in my head! It’s a wise man who can use every personal challenge as a plot line.  It’s an even wiser man who can do this seamlessly – I’ll give it a shot! But can’t promise the wisdom. (Insert laugh here!)

Moving on:

Work on ‘the Calling’ continues. And whilst not at exactly breakneck pace, I’m over 300 pages in now. My original target was to be around 450. I say this now for the record, that’s too much. It’s a weird book anyhow, but that might make it notorious enough to get read some day. Seldom do ‘weird’ and ‘bloody long’ go together well…I will concede to superior knowledge on that one.

A real life exchange has given me some valuable insight into the minds of distraught people. I never stopped to notice before how our vocabulary changes along with our spelling as each party vies to get their point across in the quickest time. I’ve known someone bullet-point my faults. At the time, that stung, afterwards- that is so going to get used in a story-line sometime.  Perhaps that’s a story for another day…or book.


Because whilst it’s true to say that we (budding writers) do pick up a certain smorgasbord of character material via the people with whom we share our lives, what we sometimes miss is how we change. I have dallied with darkness on occasion, imagined how it might feel to do this, that or the other. Thankfully the remnants of my childhood teachings, some morality, prevent me from acting out what I think. But then you can create a character and get them to do it instead. Are we still somehow guilty? Is not a crime without a victim not guilt by intent? I’m going to rule myself out of answering that one, being intellectually challenged has its advantages. I’ve often said it, I’m not clever, just blessed / cursed with an amazing memory. As far as emotional intelligence goes, I’m just ahead of the chimps some times.


I asked someone to give a working copy of the book a read. The feedback was amazing, not only good, sound criticism, but possible story arcs. I kind of feel like I owe Rebecca a debt of thanks now…a bottle of Amaretto sufficed…plus infinite thanks. I did say to another friend that I appreciate it is hard to read a friend’s novel and give feedback…it takes a very skilled person to do this objectively  and with integrity. I still remember gushing my critical  review of Joanna’s “I need to forget” – I still maintain that it’s a hell of a song and her voice sounds beautiful, but I can’t do it, I can’t be objective when assessing friend’s creative offerings, I’m not that emotionally intelligent!

So I am spurred-on like a spurred-on thing after the constructive feedback. One point raised was that I might have the makings of three separate novels: Crime/Fiction, Romance and Paranormal and that this could alienate some potential readers. I’m me, I do originality very well ,and who knows, maybe if I do it well enough I might successfully blend all three genres and envelope a bigger audience. Then again, it could be pants but I’d rather be panned than have nobody reading at all! As the song by Asia goes – ‘Only time will tell’.



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