extract from a short story / The Beirut of a Hastings Saturday night

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

"Ducking down the narrow cobbled back street into the heart of the old town, the arteries are winding alley ways, preserved in salt and a tradition of fishing and smuggling. Walking though the Old Town we pass the tattoo parlour, afternoon tea shops, junk shops, the fish market, selling eels, crabs, cockles and muscles, the candy floss stalls, candied sea shells, shiny windmills, kiss-me-quick hat, buckets and spades. I’ll show you the stone sculpture of Winkle Island – that name always made me smile – I laugh and repeat the name again and again, Winkle Island. But, there, now that’s a lovely pub! I’m pointing to the Nelly, a lively fisherman boozer, thick with cigarette smoke, dogs and kids, bikers and pirates. I fight my way to the bar and buy two half pints of cider. I’m quite rich this spring, seeing as I’ve got two jobs. I tell you, I wash up in a chippy and I also do shifts working in the kitchen of an old peoples home too.

The landlady has a heart of gold, she knows we are barely sixteen and too young to get served, but its alright, she’ll turn a blind eye, so long as we keep our heads down. Lovely sunny lunchtime so we sit at a table outside The Nelson, there is a dog wanting petting and seagulls above. Hear the seagulls screaming and above all that the loud jukebox kicking out wailing blues and guitar solos by Neil Young, J.J Cale, John Lee Hooker and John Martyn. John Martyn used to drink here, his song ‘Over The Hill’ is about that very hill, the West Hill, we nod knowing this, our lips know the words. On another table opposite the big bad boys are red-eyed and downing pints. If the tides right they’ll have been in here since dawn. Or is that if the tides wrong? I forget. But we watch them, the brackish, hard-nut, fishermen with blistered rope-burned hands, sloshing beers…"

*This is a teaser from a short story which will be published this summer by Influx Press in an anthology titled ‘Connecting Something To Nothing’ It was originally part of a chapter from ‘Springfield Road’ that was not needed. Here we are now and it is now a stand-alone story published in its own right. It is wonderful to know that nothing goes to waste, no writing goes in the bin, not really, rather it is left to marinate, stashed in a bank, to be recycled and re-thunk. I like it, that all ideas fit somewhere, someday, somehow - the moral of the story and the only advice you ever need is don’t ever give anything up, or as Churchill said: NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!

I’m sharing this particular passage because it name checks JJ Cale. His music was very much part of the soundtrack to a Hastings cidery summertime and the crackle of my ‘Troubadour’ vinyl was played continually throughout my teenage cloud-bothering daydreams…Rest In peace, JJ Cale "Magnolia, you sweet thing, You’re driving me mad, Got to get back to you, babe, You’re the best I ever had, You’re the best I ever had…"


New Anthology - Out This Summer 'Connecting Nothing with Something' -  a coastal anthology featuring Salena Godden, Daniel Cockrill, Iain Aitch, Katrina Naomi, Rowena Macdonald, Chimene Suleyman and many more, plus a foreword from Travis Elborough, pre-order here: www.influxpress.com

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Published
Publication date: September 2014
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