Die Gerüchte meines Todes …

Yet again it has been months since I’ve written anything on here, and even longer since I abandoned the blue time-suck of doom (Faceache) and for that I feel kinda bad. Kinda. Hahaha. (Apologies if you’ve tagged me or messaged me in the last six months or so. I promise that I’ll get around to logging back in properly to check that sort of stuff at some point.) As it is every time that I log in I see the screamingly awful amount of notifications &c. that I have and just back away from the computer slowly…

Anyhoo, I’ve been up to all sorts over the last few months here in Deutschland, want to know what? Of course you don’t but I’m going to put it down here anyway. 😛

First a bit of news about my writing. Last week my prose poem ‘This Creature, This Creature, This Wonderful Creature’ was released on the world’s premier horror fiction podcast Pseudopod, read by Christopher Reynaga of Point Mystic. You can listen to it below, or click here to listen to the entire episode.

The piece is about addiction, obsession, loss, and lovely stuff like that.

I also received an absolutely amazing review of my chapbooks Hinterland and We are the Makers of Maps from Acep Hale on the Lovecraft Ezine. A review that totally blew me away to honest. You can read that by clicking here but I think one of my favourite things in the review is this.

This slight volume simply begs to be read again and like a piece by Satie these simple phrases build and assert themselves with greater force as you read and re-read. Baader’s fiction colors and infects the reader’s view of the world.

Fucking awesome.

My story ‘Calan Mai’, a weird folk horror piece set in South Wales, has also been accepted by another well known horror fiction venue but as the contract hasn’t been signed, and I don’t know when it will be published, I’ll have to wait til a later date to announce that properly.

My next collection of stories and poems is still ‘under construction’, as it were, and will be released at some point in the future. I’ve thrown pieces out, put them back in, edited and unedited, and generally fucked around with it so much that it’s quite different to how I originally envisioned it. Therefore I’ll probably end up renaming it.

I’m also working on a couple of longer pieces that are coming along super slowly but that I’m really rather excited by. The first, Kolera, is about a city that thinks itself and empire and the second, Five Days in Traumstadt, about a city poised at the edge of dreaming. Like I said though, they are coming along slowly. Even for me.

Now, ze Germany…

Well, this place is certainly interesting. I’ll give it that. Before coming here I always thought of Germany as being a tad more modern than the UK, and in many ways it is, but here everything is still closed on Sundays. Something that hasn’t been the case in the UK since I was a nipper, which is a long time ago. This is rather nice to be honest but it’s super frustrating when you are working on a Saturday and lunch out getting stuff in for Sunday dinner as you’re knackered. Knackered being something that I quite often am after work, oh my poor old bones.

Since getting here I’ve been putting my Archaeology degree to good use by working as a stage hand. All those years of studying and my immense student debt all seem worth it now. Hahahahahaha. It seems that there isn’t much use for an Archaeologist that sprechen nur Englisch for some reason. Also there isn’t the same level of commercial involvement in Archaeology here and you tend to need a post-graduate qualification of some kind to get even basic digging work. Ach well.

There also isn’t the same level of engagement with prehistory here that there is in the UK. Last winter K____ and I went to visit the Straße der Megalithkultur; a tourist route near Bremen featuring, you guessed it, megaliths. I was surprised by how hidden many of the sites are. Surrounded by forest on all sides with only minimal information in the form of info boards. The monuments seemed hidden from view as though they were something to be ashamed of. As though, whilst they had to be preserved, they were not something of which people were to be reminded. Something that, given the misuse of prehistory and ancient culture here in the recent past, isn’t something one should be too surprised by.

The interesting thing about this seeming hiding away of monuments is that it brought to mind on of the main criticism of Christopher Tilley’s phenomenological approaches to megalithic monuments. I’ve written about, and criticised, Tilley’s approach before (click here if you’re interested) but the complete arboreal immersion of these sites illustrates quite well the fact that we don’t have the foggiest, for the most part, where Britain’s ancient forests were and where they were not. We therefore can rarely say with any certainty which monuments were visible and from where. In the UK these monuments are generally in well a heavily farmed and open landscape where the view is not obscured by dense forestry.

The Visbek Bride’s “train”, a massive burial monument surrounded by forest.

Tl;dr: Six years later I still think that Chris Tilley was talking mince.

Speaking of work, I’m earning here about what I would be earning in the UK for the same job but bugger me does the cash go further. I’m able to live as if I was working a full time job in the UK but only working 2-3 days a week. Almost everything here is cheaper than the UK. Rent, food, beer, you know, the important stuff costs comparatively sweet FA. The only thing that I’ve noticed being more expensive is electronics and seeing as I rarely buy electronic doo-dads that doesn’t matter.

Cheaper still than Germany is Czech. K____ and I went to Kalovy Vary in Czechia for a few days last month and even though Kalovy Vary is a tourist destination (favoured by a bunch of Russian oligarchs apparently) it’s still markedly cheaper. Czechia is also absolutely gorgeous.

Kalovy Vary is surrounded by hills and the view from above the town is an absolutely spectacular of something I’ve recently discovered is known as a landskein. The interweaving of hills into the distance.

Not put through a dozen filters at all, honest guv.

The town is also known for its hot springs, the water of which people drink for their supposed health giving properties. I gave it a try. I would suggest, should you ever visit, that you don’t. Just. Fucking. Don’t. It’s like drinking the bath water after Satan has been washing his ringpiece.

Another thing that struck me as we drove to Kalvy Vary is quite how fucked the surrounding towns are compared to Kalovy Vary itself. One town not far from the German border, the name of which escapes me at present, was so dishevelled I thought that it was abandoned until I saw someone emerging from a house. The fall of Communism has clearly not been a boon for a great many people.

We also discovered a wonderful autobahn junction that was like driving along a Moebius Strip, it just seemed to keep on looping back on itself until it deemed fit to spew you forth onto the autobahn.

On the way back from Czechia we called in to Schwarzenberg to see K____’s parents and I got the chance to see their local space museum in Muldenhammer. The museums had some pretty cool stuff, like a bust of Yuri Gagrin, but the most fun thing for me was the life size model of one of the modules from the Mir Space Station. #geekjoy

There’s plenty more that I could write about but I’m going to leave it at this for now. I may post some more stuff soon, but knowing me I probably won’t. Hahahaha.

Ich Bin Ein Brexugee

It’s official, I’m an utterly awful blog writer type person. I’ve also been an utterly awful social media type person for a month or so as I’ve been hiding from Farcebook in order to preserve my sanity, what with all the Donary Trumpton fighting in the USofA and otherwise rational people in the UK thinking that the Labour Party offer any kind of… yeah, that’s the sort of thing that I’ve been hiding from so I’ll leave the political ranting for the moment.

Aaaaaanyway; since the last time I posted on this much neglected blogspace I have, as those unfortunate enough to be on my -now also neglected- Faceache friend feed will be aware, fled the benighted and scurvied isle of Britain for a land where I don’t speak the lingo. This meaning that I can’t read the news which is actually rather good for my blood pressure. Woo-hoo!

That land being Germany.

It’s strange here.

Strange.

It’s really familiar in many ways, especially as the lingo is really close to English meaning that I can often get the gist of what something says even if I can’t follow conversations quite yet. It’s familiar but talking about the familiar things would just be dull so I’m going to spraff a wee bit about things that have tickled me since I arrived. 🙂

Firstly, the Germans love the environment. When I say that I mean they really love it. I’m living in Niedersachsen, well I’m living in Bremen but Niedersachsen sounds better, which is really flat. It’s Dutch flat. Which means that it’s pretty ideal for wind power generation and so there are wind turbines slowly chopping away at the air absolutely everywhere. They also recycle everything and, not only that, you actually get money for returning old glass bottles, plastic bottles, and aluminium cans to the supermarket. It’s like the much missed 20p return on Irn Bru bottles but with pretty much everything. Germany also has these amazing population reduction programs in operation whereby you can drive as fast as you want on the Autobahn but there are no lights to help you see at night! Pedestrian crossings are also set up so that they tell you to walk at the same time as they allow cars to turn into the road you are crossing. Malthus would be creaming himself.

I’ve also discovered that Turkish immigration has had such an effect on the country that they have named the fourth day of the week after a kebab. Hell they named a city after a burger so why not a day after a kebab? Fantastic!

As well as the Donnerstag weekly kebab fest another thing that the entire nation seems to do as one is watch the television at 20:15 on a Sunday. You’ve heard about how the British national grid used to struggle to keep up with everyone making a cup of tea during the ad break of Coronation Street? Well Sunday evening’s Tatort is the German equivalent except that this is a show about bloody and violent murders rather than affable idiots in a faux working class community. Volumes, this speaks them.

As I mentioned I’m currently living in Bremen. You’ve heard of it, I’m sure. It’s where Germans send dying animals to perform for their amusement. It’s a pretty funky little city from what I’ve seen of it so far. What I’ve seen so far though is rather limited I will admit and I’m mostly basing this off my experience of das Viertel which is the neighbourhood in which I have found myself. It’s a pretty fly area where something always seems to be happening in the bars or the local youth centres that are run by punks. There’s also a crazy wee bar that, for some reason, makes me think of the Mos Eisley Cantina but with more punks and antifa than weird looking aliens.

One of the local bars. :)
One of the local bars. 🙂
Hehehehehe
Hehehehehe

So yeah, ich bin am leben and I will have a new wee collection of stories to annoy you all about as soon as I can find some kind soul with a copy of InDesign so that I can lay the bugger out. I’m also working on a few new things including a longer piece called Kolera that I’m pretty excited about. I’ll probably wander back into the world of Facebake at some point but, for now, I’m steering well clear. Apologies if I’ve ignored messages or owt but I’m much more likely to respond to emails if you have been trying to get in touch with me.

Really? Really?!?

Ffs, I go away for a few days and look what you get up to. Sometimes it can be nice to be proven right but sometimes it’s also nice when my inherent cynicism is proven wrong. It really would have been nice if the beings with whom I share this poxy little island had made an effort to prove themselves to be something other than jabbering slack jawed xenophobic forelock tugging fucking yokels.

Seriously, just look at yourselves. Braying in your hubris like a donkey with its old fella caught in a vice. So wrapped up in your delusion of what the UK is, and what it once was, that you choke yourself with the blood stained union flag. So determined to “reclaim” your sovreignity that you force another Scottish referendum that will, in all likelihood, see a vote to leave the UK and rejoin the EU. So sordid in your bigotry that you drop to your knees and felate Nigel Farage as the European facist parties cheer from the other side of the Channel.

So well done, you’ve handed the keys to the country to those most determined to sell it off. You’ve more than likely destroyed the United Kingdom (not really a bad thing for Scotland tbh) and shown the UK up to be the cess pool of ignorance and bigotry that it truly is.

Fuck y’all.

As Frankie Boyle said yesterday. It’s time to accept the result of the vote and move on. Preferably to another country.

 

I did have a lovely time on my holiday though. Thanks for asking. 😉 :p

Tis the Season of Good Will to All

Unless that is you happen to be homeless in Derbyshire.

The poster above is part of a campaign to stop people giving money to people begging on the streets. This coalition of bastardry includes the local police, the city council, and even local homelessness charities. You can read the fuckers gloating about their bastardry in the Derby Telegraph here.

I’ve written before about self righteous bam pots reinforcing the notion of the deserving and underserving poor, you can read that here if you like, and this is the flip side of that same coin.

There are so many things about this campaign that are wrong headed that I’m going to have to resort to bullet points lest this post should descend into nothing more than inarticulate rage and me simply repeating the word CUNTS over and over again. In bold. With CAPS LOCK on.

  • Beggars make a lot of money at Christmas: So fucking what? If someone is reliant on asking for money from strangers then they are going to be fucked in the month of January when people realise quite how much they spunked on buying plastic bullshit for the kids at Christmas and when the first credit card bills come in. People reliant on making money on the street need the extra cash from Christmas good will because they won’t make much for weeks after people have sobered up come New Year’s Day.
  • They’ll just spend it on drink and/or drugs: Again I ask, so fucking what? As if it’s any of your business what a person spends their money on. I’ve lived on the streets and made money by begging, busking and selling the Big Issue. I’ll tell you one thing for a fact. I spent far more money on drink and drugs when I was living in a house and working. Was it anyone else’s business what I spent my wages on? No it fucking wasn’t. If someone is desperate enough to ask for money on the street then they need help. Give it to them. Cunts.
  • They’ll just spend it on drink and/or drugs: Two bullet points for this one as it is trotted out by wankers so often. This also presupposes that people begging or otherwise making money on the streets are alcoholics or are addicted to other drugs. There are many, many reasons why someone could be begging. They could have had their benefits stopped, that’s hardly unheard of is it? They could have mental health issues and have been failed by those supposed to offer them support, again, this is hardly unheard of. They could just be completely skint and want to buy something nice for their kids. There are as many possible reasons for someone to be begging as there are people. Stop being a judgemental bigoted cunt.
  • They’ll just spend it on drink and/or drugs: OK, three. ALSO, if someone does have an issue with substance use then they are likely going to be having a pretty shit time of it if it has gotten so bad that they have to ask strangers for money on the street. They are likely in pain or are going to be in pain if they don’t find a way to fend off withdrawal. If you can stop someone being in pain then you should do it. Unless you’re a cunt. It’s true that they maybe should seek help in sobering up but you’re not an addiction support service are you? You’re just some schmoe walking down the street. The only way that you can help is by giving them a quid. Fuck it, it’s Christmas. Give them a tenner and make their fucking day.
  • You should give to registered charities instead: Really? See, I spent a lot of time skippering out in various cities in Britain and Ireland in my teens and twenties. You know how much help I had from registered charities? Fuck all. Sure, there are people who do get a lot of help and support from various charities but not everyone either can access that help and not everyone wants to access it. So yeah, bung a quid in the collecting pot for Shelter or Crisis or whoever but also give a couple of quid to the lad down the street who’s hanging on a ten bag and feels like his skin is trying to crawl off his flesh. Doing the latter will actually make a difference in someone’s life.
  • Some of them aren’t even really homeless: This one is really fucking insidious. It’s functionally the same as the bullshit we see with regards the unemployed and those who need incapacity/sickness benefits. Insinuating that an unspecified number are ‘cheats’ and therefore casting suspicion on all. Aye, I’m sure that there are one or two ‘professional’ beggars out there, just as there are a handful of benefits ‘cheats’, but the number is statistically so low that they may as well not exist. So if anyone says this to you smack them upside the head and do math at them. Then call them a cunt.

    There is a massive housing crisis in this country, despite there being a plethora of empty houses, and it is going to keep getting worse. The benefits system has been completely decimated by both the Labour and Conservative parties and so we are going to see more and more people made homeless with no recourse to benefits. We are therefore going to see more and more people forced to swallow their pride and beg for money on the streets. If people buy into the sort of bullshit peddled by scum like Derby Police, the City Council, and these cash grabbing bastard charities then we are never going to move towards taking those actually responsible for the increasingly shit situation to task.

If you want to get in touch with any of the people or groups responsible for this utterly horrible piece of shit campaign then you will likely find the following phone numbers useful. Be polite, or don’t, I don’t care, they’re cunts aren’t they?

  • The Padley Group: 01332 774480
  • No Second Night Out: 020 7710 0550
  • Derby City Mission: 01332 460346
  • Derby Homes: 01332 888777
  • City Councellor Asaf Afzal: 01332 643635 (Mobile: 07812 301437)

Help Needed: Dunkirk Refugee Solidarity

On Monday morning some friends of mine left South Wales to head to France and the refugee camp that has grown near Dunkirk. For the most part these are people that have fled the horror that, thanks to the fascists of Daesh, is now Syria.

The camp is little more than a muddy field with few amenities and thousands of people, amongst them families with small children, who are living in tents. Living in tents, in northern Europe, in December, having just fled the Middle East. It is going to be a cold, wet, and harsh winter.

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One of the shelters erected on Monday 30-11-15 by volunteers.

Despite the way that the Middle by the media, as some sort of permanently bombed out hell hole, these people at the Dunkirk camp aren’t the veterans some of grim post-apocalyptic survival ordeal. They aren’t fighters, they aren’t Mad Max or Daryl Dixon. They are ordinary people who until recently were going to work in the morning when they sent their kids to school, they were worrying about bills, and work, and their kids getting good grades at school. They were just like you and me. Now ask yourself; not only what would make you flee your home but also: How fucking bad must home be to make living in a tent in a muddy field in France, in the middle of winter, a better option?

One of the shelters being constructed.
One of the shelters being constructed.

The shelters that are being erected by volunteers are miles better than the tents that people are presently living in but they are still not enough. Made from tarpaulin and bent over saplings with wooden pallets for floors they are still extremely basic.

We need more supplies, more people, more skills. We need more money. Please, if you can help out in any way then do. Please donate and share the fundraising page or, if you can help with practical skills and supplies then get in touch. If you comment on this post saying how you can help then I will get your email address and be in touch.

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The governments of Europe are doing squat to help these people -and in fact seem dead set on making the situation worse- so it is up to us. It is up to regular, ordinary people to step up, as we always do, and do the right thing where governments are incapable and unwilling.

You can support the effort by clicking here and donating to our fund raiser.
(and don’t forget to share in on Facebook, Twitter, etc…)

RITE BETTERER

YA author Diana Urban has a list of 43 words that one should exorcise from one’s writing in order to improve your work. I read it and I have to say tish and tosh, what a load of old balderdash. Therefore here are all 43 of those words crammed like crammed things into a teensy piece of flash fiction.

And also, you said, you replied, in a virtually committal manner, before you paused to ponder upon the question as yet asked. You sit down. Down, down inside each breath you think: inhale/exhale (breathe) as you actually begin to realise that the somewhat futile venture of putting the answer before the horse was literally getting you nowhen. To understand you try something new. Stand up! And slip into third with a nod.

And also, the answerer, who was actually, really, very much the questioner, thought, somehow, that a new perspective on things, virtually speaking, had already begun to help. Just then a rather unexpected, and probably, they felt, quite unnecessary, first began to completely dominate the proceedings.

And also, I couldn’t help but feel from the start that I was basically a tool totally under the control of the maker of words. I was absolutely, from the start, never to wonder -certainly never to think nor ponder- about what it was I was to reach for. What was the answer? I was certainly never going to find the question and so the answer would definitely elude me. What else was there for me to do but shrug?

 

I should add that I know nothing of Diana Urban beyond this article and I’m sure that she’s more than likely an absolutely lovely person and a fine writer of words.

On Paris

I’ve just woken up to the horrible news from Paris, I’ve not seen the news from elsewhere yet but it seems that equally horrifying things have happened in other parts of the world too, and, well.. fucking hell my Facebook feed is alive with sorrow. Which is to be expected.

Unfortunately what is also to be expected is a backlash of people blaming the refugees who have fled to our shores for the attack. I’m 100% certain that we are going to see further calls to build up the walls around fortress Europe in order to prevent this happening again. I’m equally certain that the far right are going to use this as an excuse to attack refugees and minority groups and that whilst most, otherwise right thinking people, will not agree with the far right they will “understand” –as though the refugees were somehow responsible for the attacks.

What these people do not understand is that the horror from the streets of France is exactly why we need to be doing our utmost to help the people fleeing across the Mediterranean and trying to find safe harbour with us. The violence we have seen in Paris is exactly what these people are fleeing and has, by the sounds of it, been perpetrated by the same fascists, or their sympathisers, that the refugees are fleeing.

I’ve read reports of people in Paris taking strangers, many strangers, into their homes to help them escape the streets. Solidarity. Mutual Aid. Humanity. This is a perfect illustration of both what we, as people, do at times like this and what we, as people, need to do on a larger scale.

Now that we in Europe have had a taste of the horror, of the violence, that these fascists wreak then what other choice do we have, if we want to retain our humanity, other than to do all that we can to help? We need boats to get people to safety, we need accommodation for people when they get here and, if we want to help them return to their homes, we need to arm the people who are fighting the fascists on the home front.

Open the borders, arm the Kurds, and help them to rebuild afterwards.

Oops

I really have been neglecting this blog haven’t I? It’s been nearly two months since I’ve posted anything, sorry about that. Things have been rather interesting, in a Chinese curse kind of a way, of late and I have found myself saying sayonara Scotland and have moved back to South Wales onto a traveller site. It’s been nearly ten years since I lived on site last and it’s soooooo bloody nice to be back in a community. It also helps that the weather has been absolutely gorgeous. Which, after more than a decade in Scotland, is a rather pleasant change: seriously, it’s October and it’s still t-shirt weather. What the hell? 😀

I'm missing Scotland less and less every day.
I’m missing Scotland less and less every day.

The whole ‘interesting’ nature of the last couple of months has meant that, as I’ve been somewhat distracted, I’ve not been writing anywhere near as much as I should have been. I’ve also been without a computer for the last couple of months which doesn’t help. Yeah, yeah, I know I could have been hand writing things, or carving stories in the bleached bones of my enemies or something but a) that takes forever -I type much faster than I carve, b) I really can’t get into writing by hand, I need to be able to delete, retype, re-delete constantly, and finally c) I don’t wanna. :p

Thankfully however a pal of mine, take a bow Mr Mcherpes, has sorted me out with a laptop that I can now use to vomit forth words. So thanks for that man. 🙂 I owe you a Brew or two so I do.

The one positive of not being able to write is that I’ve spent a lot more time reading new stuff. It has to be new as all of my books are presently in boxes in Scotland and so I’ve only had the odd thing to read which I’ve picked up since leaving the land of the leal. Thanks to this I’ve now discovered the amazingly strange and creepy work of Matthew M. Bartlett and the weird goings on in Leeds, Massachusetts.

Bartlett Books

His first two books Gateways to Abomination and The Witch-Cult in Western Massachusetts were both self published and really do trash the notion that all self published material is garbage. Gateways is probably one of the most interesting works to have been released over the last year or so as part of this weird renaissance that we are currently experiencing. Comprised of a number of vignettes and short stories loosely tied together by the bizarre occult radio station WXXT it reads more like a novel composed of disjointed fragments than a collection of short fiction. I really can’t recommend this highly enough and at some point I’m going to write a little something looking at the story ‘path’ which has some really nice feminist things going on.

Bartlett’s second collection, The Witch-Cult in Western Massachusetts, is a who’s who of the devilry and macabre shenanigans of Leeds and the wider area. This wee chapbook is a blackly humorous read and makes for a nice and funny companion piece to the, at times bleakly disturbing, fictions of Gateways.

The third work of Matthew’s that I’ve read recently is the utterly fantastic Rangel. A novella length piece concerning a young girl who disappeared decades ago, her brother who has never been able to get over his sister’s disappearance and -as ever- the dark goings on in Leeds. As with all of Bartlett’s writing this is a wonderful piece to read and he makes great use of the extra space a novella allows in order to build both character and setting with a skill that reinforces him as a WR author to keep a keen eye on. If I have any misgivings about Rangel it’s that t felt like it could have done with being longer. I would have been more than happy if this story were at least twice the length.

Rangel, unlike Gateways and Witch-Cult, was not self published and was released via Sam Cowan’s new publishing house Dim Shores. Dim Shores has been putting out some stellar fiction since its inception just a few months ago. The first piece released was Ghosts in Amber by Jeffrey Thomas (an author who deserves far more recognition and exposure than he has so far received) which, like Rangel, is novella length. Ghosts explores the existential horror of a life wasted through the medium of a middle aged man looking for life outside the one which he has made for himself. It’s a beautifully depressing story -well, it was for me- which unfortunately you will be unlikely to be able to read as it has well and truly sold out as Dim Shores publications are so far limited print runs.

Dim Shores have also published a long novella by Scott Nicolay entitled after which I haven’t read yet but will be doing so shortly. after is set in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it. One thing that I already like about the novella, before even starting to read it, is the dedication on the opening page.

 

 

With compassion toward all those who suffered in the path of Superstorm Sandy and contempt toward all those who sought to suffer from their suffering.

Seriously, how can anyone not love Nicolay? 😀

All of the Dim Shores releases are illustrated with Ghosts in Amber featuring work by Serhiy Krykun, best known perhaps for his portrait of horror master Thomas LigottiRangel by Aeron Alfrey, and after by Michael Bukowski. As with the writing the illustrations are top notch and all add a great deal to the work.

So, yeah, I’ve not vanished completely. I’ve been doing stuff and reading stuff but I’ve just not been writing stuff. This is something that is now changing. I’m going to try and get back into updating this here blog on a more regular basis and will hopefully have some more fiction heading your way soon.

See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya. ;

___

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