Jacky is a translator. One night he meets a girl in a bar with a book that can't be translated. Hours later, wrongly accused of her murder, Jacky finds himself in Paris with the most annoying man in the world, seeking a mysterious catalogue of an unknown land in an unknown language – the Von Fremdenplatz Documents. Trapped, threatened, and in the company of a truly appalling family, Jacky's only escape is to discover what it means to be...The Mule.
I WAS IN a bar. It doesn't matter where. It's not relevant to the story. (If there's one thing I've learned in my job, things that aren't relevant to the story have to go). The bar was pretty quiet, which suited me because I don't like to go to bars that play loud music, where everyone's shouting to get a drink and it's so dark you can't see the prices of drinks. Funny — loud and dark always go together with bars. You never see a loud, brightly-lit bar, do you? It's like not content with numbing our senses with booze, the bars want us blind and deaf as well.
Anyway, this bar was pretty much perfect so far as I was concerned. There was no music at all, the lights were OK — I could see the drinks were a reasonable price for the middle of town — and there were no hen parties or big groups of people making their own racket.
I signalled to the barman, who had his name on a badge on his shirt. "Good evening, Don", I said, smiling. "I'd like a Martini please. Vodka, and —" But he already turned away to make it. I think he didn't like me saying his name. If I had a job where I had to wear my name on a badge and people said my name, I wouldn't have a problem. If people said, "Excuse me Jacky, could you look at these pages before the weekend?" or "Hey Jacky, this is more of a technical pamphlet but we figure you can handle it," I wouldn't mind at all. Of course I'd have to pick a version of my name that I felt comfortable with, which I admit would probably not be Jacky. Jacky is what my mother called me and I have never liked it. I would much rather be a Jack or even a J — "Hey J!" — but there we go. Whenever I say to people, "My name's Jack," they always look at me as if to say, "Really?" and before you know it, they're calling me Jacky. If they call me anything at all, that is. I have never had any luck with getting people to call me J.
"The unspeakable in pursuit of the untranslatable."
What do you think? Might work.
Well, not so much trailed as extracted. Bad news if you're a tooth, good news if you're a book. Now it's possible to download and read a Sizeable Chunk of The Mule, in which Jacky, the narrator, finds himself in Paris with Euros Frant, the most awful man in the world.
We learn a little bit more about the engimatic rock band Carrie and the Legions, and we learn a lot more about the Von…
The most useless book in the world is a translation of a children's classic into a dead language. Some examples of this awful academical tweevery include:
Winnie Ille Pu, the Latin version of Winnie The Pooh.
Fabvula De Jemima Anate Aquatica, the Latin version of The Tale Of Jemima Puddleduck
and Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone in ancient Greek.
Nobody, as far as I know, has translated…
What would the most annoying man in the world look like?
Like this, probably. Only shorter, with a moustache.
And hair in his ears.
(with apologies to Aristide Bruant, who I'm sure wasn't at all annoying).
What if you came across some photographs of someone who had been murdered?
What if the person in those photographs was you?
After yesterday's post, several kind people sent me this link:
Some people like lists of words. I don't. I try and avoid books where people are always making lists of pretty words, like chrysostom and peridot.
I tend to avoid your useless beauty. Decoration has its moments, but I can't abid a thee and a thou and a foldesoddingrol.
I do however like a map. Any kind, from a world map to a treasure map to a city plan.
And the greatest city plan of all…
Tomorrow I am a Q and A, from 2pm. Please ask me any questions, about writing, or comedy, or anything (almost anything) and I'll do my best to answer. Thanks!
They say you should write about what you know. I've never been a translator, so I decided to write a book about a translator. Which became The Mule.
Which is not true at all. I decided to write a book written in translatorese, the odd dialect of written English in which British and American slang from different decades clash together like verbal armies in the night. Where men can be "blokes" one…
Sometimes you find yourself on a sunny Monday afternoon consumed with the desire to hear Purple People Eater by Barry Cryer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xow0P24FUgA
By complete accident, I wrote a monologue for Doctor Who dissing Star Wars. Well, in a way.
Warning: contains The Thick of It. And swearing. So much swearing.
Pseudonym, not psuedonym.
Sometimes I make videos. None of them are very literary but here's one of New Order and Philip Larkin. I filmed Alan Bennett myself on a top of the range 2004 mobile phone camera.
Welcome to my shed. It is of course a virtual shed.
Roald Dahl wrote in a real shed. I've got a lawnmower in mine.
Cyril Connolly or someone famously wrote about the writer's enemy being "the pram in the hall." I think what he actually meant was "the lawnmower in the shed."
Thanks for everyone currently supporting The Mule. The next post will be more about the book and less about the shed…
These people are helping to fund The Mule.