Fresh up! Fresh up! Lend your ears, kiddies, to some music and a spiel from the Land of Jistabout. Click the cover, above right, to get to the ebook on Amazon.
Rick’s wife bowled him and his wheelchair out of the transporter which resembled Chief Ironside's rig, showed me the list of things to get after we’d had lunch, and it was farewell for now.
I pushed him down to the corner and along to Baldwin’s café.
The idea was to get coffee and sit in the picture window to watch the talent going by.
With the java came free doughnuts as today’s special offer.
Rick’s wheelchair slid in by the sofa and the world was there for looking at.
The view of the street through the Panavision plate glass going down to the floorboards was fine, there they were strolling by. On the other hand, from their point of view we were just two duffers glaring out.
People were slowing down, exchanging comments as to what we might be staring at. In the end I had to swing round and face the other way, towards Rick.
As always, he had plenty to say about Angela, his dentist.
“Rena insists on going to the dentist’s with me these days, so it’s hard to pledge anything to Angela. The best possibility is a letter folded up small, a ‘kite’ like, which I can throw onto the floor as I leave the surgery.”
“So long as Rena doesn’t see.”
Rick noticed my change of posture.
“There might be someone you owe money to amongst the passers-by, is that why you swung round?”
“Well, I didn’t realize we’d be quite so exposed, sitting here.”
“Blame the sunlight and the plate glass,” said Rick. “It’s not the best spot.”
“There are others,” I said. “A new place in the Sailmakers’ Mall, for example.”
“A new caff?”
“Yeah, and not only that, the development has got some great toilets with plenty of elbow space.”
Because of his multiple sclerosis decent, roomy facilities are necessary for Rick to get in and out with his wheelchair to empty the bag strapped to his leg. And these new arrangements at the Sailmakers would stand comparison with the Baths of Caracalla.
“Some benches in the atrium too to watch the parade from. We can go along there and sit awhile after our lunch and chess at Saint Bartholomew’s.”
“Bless you, my boy,” said Rick in a tone that would have brought tears to the eyes of his sainted grandmother.
So there we ended up there after luncheon.
Rick is not into computers but he was looking at some bits on my Kindle, namely pages from “The Angels and the Slags”, which collects a number of off-the-wall diary entries from years ago.
“I can recognise some of the slags all right,” said Rick. “I see you take the name Larry in the story. I always thought you should write a book called ‘How Not to Get Hooked’, but now you’re hooked up with Jade and it’s for keeps.”
With immense seriousness he studied these trifles jotted down so long ago.
“Some of this is X-rated, but not the bits about Rena,” he said. “Any chance of bringing it out on paper?”
“Afraid not, at the moment anyway.”
“Do it sell?’
“Not badly, me boy, not badly at all.”
I kept my voice down, as Len Capper had just sat down on the other end of the curving bench and had not seen us yet. I had some outstanding bits of business with Capper and it would be prudent to put off settling them as long as possible.
“Let’s move along this way,” I said to Rick, not even looking over my shoulder as we smoothly exited.
See above, upper right, for cover and link to THE ANGELS AND THE SLAGS, hot stuff/ indiscreet diary.
Frank Mapes took the head of the table, not our hostess Claire, as it was his 90th birthday.
On Frank’s right was Vera, and I was on Vera’s right.
Though I play down the poetical side of life these days I appreciate that the others still have their oar in those waters. Soon Vera is telling me how she got her start in the poetic world with so-and-so of such-and-such a small press. Now, in her eighties, she can look back on her pamphlets, some of them well reviewed, with satisfaction.
“Well, that’s great.” I say, “and here we all are, stars, I take it, of Parnassus in our way, but I for one have given up on it now because all along what I really and truly wanted was never going to arrive via the small press: fame, fortune and eccles cakes.”
“They never arrived for you,” said Angie, “any more than they did for the figures you lampooned in that ebook of yours on the subject.”
“You talking about Outrageous Lilliput?”
“You know I am. You got some mean licks in on that one. People are dealt with pseudonymously, but they’re recognisable for all that.”
“Was I fair, though? Did I attack anyone out of malice?” I asked.
“No,” admitted Angie, “you just happened to say what should be left unsaid.”
After the meal we went into the sitting room and to launch things, Frank got up. He delivered a bit of background about each number before diving one-two-three into “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “The Shadow of Your Smile,” then “I’m In the Mood for Love." Yours truly strummed the nylon-strung box.
It being after all his 90th, Frank had provided champagne.
The evening then turned into a read-round of poems from the company, though I preferred to keep swinging and belted out “I Only Have Eyes for You” and a half-spoken version of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”
Also Angie, who was putting Jade and myself up that night, sang an unaccompanied folkish air and the next time around got out a black and white concertina and played a jig that would not have been out of place on the deck of Benbow’s flagship.
Angie lives in a renovated Victorian pile in Felixstowe which has a nice guest bedroom. Her children are now grown up and flown, one living in New Zealand and making strides as a photographer.
I got out of the shower next morning and passed the full-length mirror Angie brought back from France. Seemed as if the new exercise régime had done something after all.
The reflection brought back memories of an illustration of a silver-backed bull ape that ought to have been castrated. Still, who would want to look like an aesthete?
'Three Examples of the Higher Balderdash', an article by yours truly about works by Henry Miller, Marc Bolan and John Lennon, is featured in issue #3 of the fabulous Lotus-eater from Rome, Italy: read it here.
Last night we treated Vince and Erica to dinner at our local. The Shining Moon Inn had that table for four booked in the name of Crowther.
Erica had to avoid dairy, which meant she asked for raspberry sauce on her spotted dick instead of custard.
They are waiting for the American Embassy to give them permission to migrate to California where Erica can be with her grandchildren. They have been waiting for more than twelve months already, so we thought we would take advantage of one more opportunity to see them before they ship out.
Vince and I were soon engaged in reminiscences of the Artful Dodger days, when we were minting the Care Home gold and creaming off a good twenty to thirty quid each for less than an hour of entertaining the old folk with show tunes to the accompaniment of the old Fender classical.
Such was the luck enjoyed not too long ago by Vince the Bermondsey boy, and me the Suffolk swede.
The Care Homes and birthday parties we played at! We deserved the rewards we got because we doggedly practised two hours a week for two years before contracting any secretaries.
Other topics in the Shining Moon included Harry Kemp, the American tramp poet who wrote ‘Tramping on Life’, and Don Rickles, the ‘insult’ comedian who is featured on many hilarious YouTube videos.
Erica is an Apple Mac convert and more computer-minded than Vince. She had some good words for the disreputable ebook we are helping to push, The Angels and the Slags by Sam Daker. ‘Perverse, but moving,’ was her verdict on this erotic diary from the 1980s.
‘It’s like a sexier version of Harry Kemp’s Tramping on Life,’ she said, ‘and its follow-up, More Miles. Without the travelling.’
The Felixstowe coach rolled along in the sun, bound for the sea and ozone with many others who, like us, had their bus pass.
In a shelter at the bottom of Bent Hill we enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches and a flask of tea. Then it was a walk to Jacob’s Ladder and back, then through the town and on to Gregg’s for coffee mid-afternoon.
Over coffee I had a look at a book I’d bought, a hardcover with wrapper and decent type by an acolyte of Andy Warhol’s. Looked like a red-hot read. A book you wouldn’t want to put down, not one that’s just adequate. I didn’t get any Kerouac or Ginsberg. The bookcase full of beatnik material that they had before in the Treasure Chest had disappeared.
I did however locate a Rod McKuen poetry book with dust wrapper, In Someone’s Shadow.
Earlier, I’d been reading a biography of Ken Russell with the lunch, a book I brought with me. These controversial works, like the Warhol and this one, being full of crazy mouthing off although they’re still scholarly, have their appeal. The Warhol for example being full of sleaze, gossip and the rest of it, the inside story.
For me, being a fiction writer, the world is my mountain oyster and I can run any character down as much as I like. So long as it’s real to the tale, that is.
This vamp saga I’ve started with ‘Easy Blood’, the exploits of Eric Vauclare, Grant Appleton and others, including Suggie Southgate, the shaven-headed git on the trail of those two bloodsuckers, well, I don’t know where it’s going, but it goes. Must get onto the follow-up.
The ozone-pouring sea gives you a high, but we kept our heads together, staying in the shady side of the shelter.
Not far from the Treasure Chest an older man stumbled and went down alongside the curb and just lay there in the street. He just reclined there on his back, looking around him, admirably cool, I thought. I went over and asked if he was OK and if he wanted an arm up.
‘Tell the wife to stay over there, I’m all right,’ he said, getting up on his elbow. Cars were swishing by. He wasn’t panicking, he’d just let himself roll into the fall like a ballet dancer. Staying put until he was good and ready to get up.
‘You don’t feel as if you’ve broken any bones? You got any pain?’
‘No, no, I’ll get up in a minute.’
His wife stood over the other side of the road with a walking frame, and a lady beside me went to tell her to stay put and not go under a car.
With legs braced I spread my feet, grabbed him under the armpit and gave my shoulder for a prop and he got up. Then I saw that he had a walker too, like his wife. I rolled it to him.
I started thinking, what about if that vampire, Eric Vauclare, was living in a Care Home, being about 400 years old, concealing his easy grace with a walking frame and hiding his eternal middle-aged man appearance under a silver wig. Yeah?
Thirty to forty healthy bluebottles were swarming around near the TV and chimney when we got there. Mum was at a loss to explain this plague.
Talking to Elspeth, hearing
the saga of her gums and wondering though
she was attractive and one of the original
hippies just how old she really could be and
what she knew about Harry
Lauder and the gambols of Little Tich but
after saying goodbye we ran into
her once more coming down the
escalator as we ascended and she held
out her wrist for me to smell as she'd
been anointed at the free counter, so
progress had been made but the
worst was, Magnus told
her I was mad about her, trying
to help, but this went totally against
any plan of campaign I ever
read about in the work of Proust.
No dose of the Suggie Southgate blognovel this week, friends. The tale ended last week with a battle between the immortals and the lycans in the sycamore grove. Following that, the trees were set on fire by nobody knows who. That was the end of Vauclare and his battalion of fiends. Or was it?
You can still get the whole caboodle though: from the King Bat’s arrival in rural Harefield and his first encounters with the Supreme Godhead Outreach Church, all the way to the storming of Parkside and beyond. You can get it all in an ebook called Easy Blood.
Reading these steamy scenes week by week, Jade asked where it came from.
How should I know?
It’s true that the Christopher Lee movie, ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’, was featured as one of the late Friday night bonanzas at the Odeon round about 1968. People on screen, and some in the seats around us, went mad and screamed. But the Count, the Count stayed cool, man. That stuck out, and the virus was inoculated somewhere in my imagination.
Then decades later I started spinning this tale about Eric Vauclare, a ruthless ‘immortal’ who was cool and sensitive enough to cry.
Hip Writers &
Talking about cool: