It’s Only a Moment – A charity project in aid of Alzheimer’s

It’s Only a Moment.

Auntie Lizzie found me on the main street of my hometown (Bellshill), despondent and crying over something I don’t recall, but I’m sure it seemed world-ending to fifteen year-old me.

Auntie Lizzie took me into a little baker’s, (Dalziel’s) gave me tea and cake and just let me talk at her.

When I’d finished moaning, and sobbing and snotting, she simply took my hand and gently told me that ‘It’s only a moment in time, son. It’ll pass.’ We talked some more, had a laugh about some things and parted. It was probably one of the last times I saw Lizzie.

Many times through my life, happy times, hard times, heart break and emotional despair, I’ve recited Auntie Lizzie’s words to myself. To remind myself that it will pass, that it was only a moment.

 

Moments are something that defines Alzheimer’s, for those living with the condition and for those supporting someone they love through it. Moments of lucidity, or joy or anger or despair. Moments where the person is lost, or trapped deep inside themselves under the weight of misfiring neurones and jumbled memories, when their very sense of identity seems a distant chink of light in a dark tunnel.

A series of moments, where the present world seems alien, and unfamiliar and cruel…perhaps. Sometimes it seems wondrous, but not often. Moments where they return to themselves and smile at someone who loves them in recognition. Just a smile, but that moment reminds you that they are in there and still love you. That moment returns part of your soul to you as surely as it does theirs.

Moments that pass. Moments that are excruciating; but beautiful moments also that, despite the maze they walk in, makes you rediscover that part of them you thought may be gone. A squeeze of a hand. A wink, a smile. The words, I love you.

Moments. They pass even when sometimes we wish they wouldn’t.

Mark Wilson

May, 2017

 

Today sees the release of Ryan Bracha’s Thirteen Lives of Frank Peppercorn project. An ambitious undertaking, Ryan brought together a group of writers (me included) with the remit, ‘Tell a story about this man named frank who has just died’. At that point Ryan’s task was to weave these disparate voices and stories and writing styles into a cohesive, flowing novel. A task which he succeeded in, and with quite some flair.

By the project’s end, Bracha and I discussed which charities we’d like to receive all proceeds from the sale of this book. I proposed Alzheimer’s charities, as my aunt had died recently. Auntie Lizzie isn’t the only relative in my family to have endured this condition.

Whilst I hadn’t seen my auntie in a number of years, her death (as these things often do) brought back some long forgotten memories of a time when Lizzie helped me.

 

All proceeds from the sale of Prank Peppercorn will got to Alzheimer’s charities. You can find more information on Alzheimer’s here:

 

http://www.alzscot.org/

http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/

https://www.dementiauk.org/

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Blurb:

Thirteen ways to remember the dead. Thirteen histories of a loving husband.

Betty Peppercorn is burning her husband Frank today. Well, she’s burning her property. The corpse she was left with as a reward for loving somebody for better or worse. Frank exists only in her thoughts, anymore. To her knowledge, Frank had no friends. Betty’s not even sure he existed before they met. It comes as a major surprise, then, when several strange faces appear at the funeral, each of them bringing their own stories of what Frank meant to them. As the day goes on, it becomes increasingly apparent that Frank was not the man she thought he was. Thirteen new and established writers collide in this brand new novel-of-stories project from Ryan Bracha, the brains behind Twelve Mad Men, The Switched, and The Dead Man Trilogy.

All proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer’s charities. Featuring contributions from: Dominic Adler – The Ninth Circle Jason Beech – Moorlands Kevin Berg – Indifference Paul D. Brazill – A Case of Noir, Guns of Brixton, Kill Me Quick Robert Cowan – The Search For Ethan, For All is Vanity Craig Furchtenicht – Dimebag Bandits, Behind the 8 Ball Shervin Jamali – The Devil’s Lieutenant Jason Michel – The Death of Three Colours, The Black-Hearted Beat Allen Miles – This is How You Disappear Alex Shaw – The Aidan Snow series Martin Stanley – The Gamblers, Glasgow Grin, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Billingham Forum Mark Wilson (CP Wilson) – The dEaDINBURGH series, On The Seventh Day, Ice Cold Alice

 

 

The Thirteen Lives of Frank Peppercorn is available now from Abrachadabra books at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

dEaDINBURGH: Hunted – Preview

The following excerpt is unedited and taken from

dEaDINBURGH: Hunted (Din Eidyn Corpus 4)

Available to pre-order now at Amazon

Filtering out Dad’s scraping and clattering, I focus on the errant noise. The pattern of the sounds tells me one of The Ringed is nearby, probably in amongst the trees or shrubs and making its way towards our little picnic site.

Leaving dad to busy himself with the tea, I move quietly towards the source of the noise. Shoving a heavy branch from my path, I come across a female Ringed. Both of her legs are badly broken. She walks with the ankle of her right foot folded all wrong, so that her foot trails along behind. Her lower right leg is missing completely giving her a tilted gait. I let a sigh out and draw one of my knives.

Seemingly intent on moving her awkward limbs, she doesn’t notice me until I’m three feet from her. When she looks up at me, I gasp and take a step back.

She’s newly-risen. Aside from the damage to her legs, she’s in good condition. At a guess, I’d say she’s been dead less than a month. It’s not the condition of her, or that she’s so close that makes me start. It’s her appearance. She’s my age, has my hair colour, height and general build. She also has her right eye missing.

The girl’s lips snarl back to reveal a mouthful of gums. No teeth remain in her head. Stepping towards her, I shove her powerless arms aside before driving my heavy blade through her brain. The girl flops, adding to the detritus. Sprawled onto the forest floor, I get a clear look at her. She does look like me, very much like me. Unnerved I draw a second blade and press my back to a silver birch for cover. My eye catches a glint at her leg. Peering closer, I get low. It’s a knife worn exactly where I sheath my own.

I close my eyes lightly and concentrate on the sounds around me, like Joey taught me. Filtering out animals, birds, the wind and swaying branches, I pick out an altogether more human sound.

To my left, perhaps fifty feet from me, a light and familiar footstep disturbs some dry leaves.

The girl, the location, the macabre humour of her appearance…Suddenly the tableaux makes perfect sense. In his head anyway.

“You might as well come out, Bracha,” I try to sound bored.

A moment later he ghosts out of the shadows, lifting aside a low branch with his golf club. Leaning on the club, one leg crossed over the other, he smiles broadly at me. “So wonderful to see you, Stephanie my dear.”

A soft kick to the dead Ringed girl’s shoulder, “I do wish you had played a little more nicely with my friend, though. It took me an age to find her.”

I make a deliberate show of re-sheathing my blade and taking a relaxed stance. Despite his jester’s demeanour, His eyes note every move I make. Nodding at the dead girl, I ask. “Why?”

His expression shifts to one of deep sincerity. “I missed you, Stephany,” He says. The bastard is telling the truth. He selected this girl, took an eye and dressed her as me so that he had someone to talk to…no. So that he had me to talk to. Had he really grown so used to having me around?

His eyebrows lift in faux nonchalance. “She was a lot less trouble than you, though, Stephanie. Although… you do have a certain way with you.” The shark grin returns.

“You know I’m here to kill you?” I ask flatly.

He lifts his club and performs a little flurry with it, twisting it around his fingers only to toss it overhead and catch it on his waiting foot. With a flick, he punts the club back into his waiting hand. Throughout his performance, my eyes watch his hands and feet for a hint of an aggressive twitch. The display is not a distraction. He’s simply happy to see me.

“Well of course, my darling. There’s no-one else I would rather dance with.”

Showing him a shark-smile of my own, I draw two of my knives.

“But…” He blurts, holding a hand out in front of him.

“As you’ve brought my dear friend Jimmy along on the trip, let’s say we have a civilised discussion before we engage in our dance. Get to know each other once again, maybe share a meal. I also have some interesting information to share with you and your little community.”

I’d forgotten the sharpness of his senses and his habit of scouting the area he’s in regularly. I rebuke myself silently at his mention of James and resolve to remember my lessons better in future, if I have a future.

Wondering how long Bracha has been watching us, I shake my head minutely. “No.”

Bracha sighs and leans back onto his club once again.

“Manners, Stephanie. What has happened to people’s manners in this city?” He looks at me expecting as response. I give him none.

A long resigned sigh comes from him. “Well, I suppose if you absolutely insist…” Allowing his golf club to thud to the ground, Bracha draws two of his favourite blades. His movements are much less smoothly executed than I’m used to. The cold and his injuries have shaved another portion of his speed and agility. My heart races as I realise that I’m faster than him now. I’m capable of a greater range of physical attacks also. I have a chance, so long as I don’t underestimate his decades of experience.

A wistful look replaces his predatory expression. Bracha nods at my Ringed doppelganger. “I can always make friends with you once again.” He crouches to the Ringed girl. Coating his knives in her blood and saliva he resumes his fighting stance.

“When you awaken.”

End of Excerpt

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dEaDINBURGH: Hunted (Din Eidyn Corpus 4) is available to pre-order now at Amazon

Mary Magdalene – Twelve Mad Men Excerpt

I’m not sure how Bracha talks me into these things. When he proposed the Mad Men project I rolled my eyes and thought, ‘that’s an impossible project’ luckily for me I’d had beer, lots of beer and my mouth ignored my brain, telling him, “sounds magic, I’m in.” I’m fairly certain he times his approach deliberately.

Taking twelve very different writer’s stories and merging them into a coherent narrative is an immensely difficult task and one that most writers wouldn’t consider approaching.

Ryan Bracha, in Twelve Mad Men, has taken the differing personalities, voices, morals, madness and writing styles and formed not only a coherent novel from them but an utterly original and compelling piece of fiction.

Without a doubt the maddest of the twelve, Bracha (the bastard), took each of us involved out of our comfort zone and gave us permission to indulge ourselves in a way we wouldn’t normally do in our own books. He brought the worst and the best out in my writing and pulled off his ridiculous project with gusto. Dick.

Here’s my contribution:

Suggested for over 18s only. Contains very strong language and very graphic violence.

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Mary Magdalene

By Mark Wilson

“Hello? I’m here to fix the lights. Can you get in the corner, please?” I press my ear up against the door, listening for shuffling to confirm that he’s done as I asked. All I hear is a rhythmic slurping, slap sound. I listen a little closer. The meaty slurp sounds like it’s coming from a distance away so I slip my key in the door, turn and push gently, keeping a firm hold of the handle, in case I have to slam it closed again.

Peeking my face through the grate, I see Wilson in the corner. More precisely, I see the back of him. He’s sitting in the corner like I asked, but I get the distinct impression that he was already there before I came knocking. He’s not that tall, and only lightly built but even from behind it’s clear that he’s powerful. He has that wiry, coiled spring musculature, I can see it in the movement of his shoulder. I can see his body quite clearly as there’s nothing covering it.

His right arm is moving with some force, repeatedly hammering away at something as he sits. He’s talking to himself, but I can’t quite make out what he’s saying. It’s not the accent, it’s his voice, so gentle. Like he’s talking to a lover. He’s facing the wall to his right, staring at a photograph. I move a little closer, just close enough to hear better and get a look at the image. It’s a tattered photo from some sort of boarding school. There are about a hundred kids, half a dozen nuns and maybe twenty priests, all standing in rows posing for the camera. I peer in a little closer and start counting.

Fourteen of the priests and two nuns have a very thick, very bold tick made with a red marker on their faces.

I cock my ear to the left and hold my breath. Wilson hasn’t made a move, just that piston he has for a right arm pumping up and down in a decidedly masturbatory manner. So long as he’s happy. I take another step closer, finally I can hear that gentle voice.

“Cotter, Docherty, McNally, O’Donnell, McGuire…”

He lists surnames, maybe ten, maybe twenty and starts again, tugging at his cock with each name whispered. I’ve somehow forgotten why I’m here or the danger present and lean in for a closer look.

Wilson stands and turns quite gracefully as my foot scuffs the stone floor a little louder than intended. The cock-bashing hasn’t stopped, or even slowed, it hasn’t changed pace, I’m suddenly very grateful that it hasn’t sped up. He tilts his head very slightly. His shaved head glints in the moonlight and his eyes widen as he takes me in. There are scars on his chest, low down just above the abdomen. They look nasty.

“Lalley, O’Malley, Foley..” His head straightens and the chanting stops, although the arm keeps perfect time.

“Are you fixing the lights or not,” he asks, never missing a stroke. His voice is softer than any man’s, he sounds like a woman, a pretty woman. I search for words, but my capacity to speak has been taken away by the sight of this very slight man with a cock like two cans of Red Bull stacked on end, wanking at me.

His arm starts to slow, so I start talking. “Yes, sorry Mr Wilson, if you could just stay in the corner, I’ll..”

“What’s your name?” He asks gently. His eyes are curious, but something else, there’s excitement there, and maybe fear as well.

I tell him my name.

His face softened, and he tilts his head again, throwing me a seductive look.

“Are you a religious man?” he asks, with a giggle.

Involuntarily, my eyes dart to the faded image on the wall and back to his quickly. Not quick enough though, he saw it. His eyes narrow, all friendliness gone.

“My sister asked you a fuckin’ question, cunt!” he roars at me in a booming baritone.

The change in him is staggering. The softness is gone, so has the curiosity. His whole posture has changed, all playfulness and grace has vanished and pure predatory aggression glares from him.

Fuck knows what the right answer to his question is but his arm has started pulling at that two-can cock with such ferocity that I’m genuinely frightened for its well-being despite the danger I’m in.

I blurt out, “No, I’m not. Used to be, but..”

“Shut the fuck up, ya dick.” He spits at me.

I do. I watch him transform again in front of me. The face softens, the eyes widen and the body becomes a graceful swan in movement once again as she returns.

Something’s changed in her though, she’s no longer throwing me admiring, curious looks. She’s looks friendly enough, and her wanking has returned to normal pace, but something’s shifted.

She moves beside me to get a good look at my face. I use my peripheral vision to make sure that I have an egress.

“I’m sorry about my brother. He’s a little overprotective,” she says gently. “I’m glad you’re not religious, I like the religious type, but Paul, my brother, does not.”

“Okay,” I sing, with false cheeriness as the lean man with the woman’s demeanour and voice wanks serenely in my direction. “Best get on then. Would you mind going back to the corner, don’t let me interrupt…” I nod down at her… his reddened cock.

“I’d like you to stay for a few minutes. I so rarely get to talk to anyone.” Her face darkened a little, the threat of Paul behind her eyes. “Paul gets angry if I’m not happy. Let’s talk, just for a little while.” I nod and watch her walk back to her corner and resume her previous position, only this time she’s facing me.

I sit a few metres away and ask. “So what’s a nice girl like you doing here?”

Her face drops. “I’m not a nice girl,” she says.

“I’m sorry,” I blurt out, it was just a joke, y’know, cos that’s what people say.”

She nods, but I can tell that I hurt her feelings because her cock twitched at me in response.

“Why don’t you tell me how you came to be here, you and your brother,” I suggest. “if you don’t mind, that is….” I suddenly feel ridiculous, but have to ask.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

The wiry little, very scary man with the huge dick, blushes, he actually blushes and pauses his wankery for a second in surprise.

“Nobody ever asks me that, not in all my time here. They just call us both Wilson.” She smiles with genuine warmth before resuming her stroking at a more leisurely pace than I’d seen her do so far.

“My name’s Mary. Pleased to meet you.”

“And you,” I say with a ridiculous little bow that makes me feel stupid, but it makes her laugh and the cell lights up when she laughs.

“Would you like to hear about how I came here? She asks

I shrug, “Only if you’re happy to tell me.”

She gives me a little bow of her own, mirroring mine in a gentle mock, making me laugh. Her eyes dance with light and she drinks in my happiness as she starts to tell her story. I sit and stare into the face of the scariest, most beautiful man I’ve ever seen as he-she, as Paul-Mary speaks.

***

My sibling and I had been in St Margaret Mary’s for around six months. We’d been to other schools, loads actually. We were good kids, but dad moved around a lot. Army officer. Came from money and gentry, couldn’t be bothered being a parent after Mum died. It was an alright school and was close to Edinburgh city centre which was awesome for a couple of fourteen year olds with time to kill and no parents around.

On our first day, the head teacher, Father Connelly, introduced us to our peers at the house assembly. He made a big deal of us being twins, we were the first twins to attend St Mags’. Father Connelly was a lovely man, I really looked up to him, to all of the staff, to be honest. That’s probably why I have a thing for the religious type, especially Catholics. Never works out though.

Paul played rugby, Mary studied hard. Friends were difficult to come by, most of the kids our age seemed withdrawn, sullen. We didn’t particularly care, we had each other after all, but it would’ve been nice to have some more friends.

Eventually we were invited along to one of Fr Connelly’s private dinners. He’d been telling us for months how special being twins was. He really liked that about us.

Mary wore a very white dress, one that father Connelly had remarked on at an assembly some months before. Paul looked as scruffy as always, but at least he’d had a shower. When we entered Fr Connelly’s quarters, a huge table filled the room. On it was a large white sheet, covering the food and around it sat sixteen of the school’s priests and four nuns. I remember our eyes fixing on the sheet. Paul took Mary’s hand and began to drag her back towards the oak doors we’d entered by, but Mary pulled free of his grasp. This was Mary’s big night, and Paul wasn’t going to spoil it.

I remember rushing to Fr Connelly and apologising. He smelled strongly of wine, they all looked a little drunk, even the nuns. Paul grabbed Mary from out of Fr Connelly’s hands, she let him this time. The elderly priest we had so admired smiled at us as we backed up to the doors. Doors that had already been locked.

Paul rushed at Father Connelly and rugby tackled the head teacher to the floor, clattering the old man’s head against a strong wooden chair leg as they fell. The room erupted, in laughter. Strong hands grabbed at Paul, grabbed at Mary also. Strong hands tore off our clothes and bound us and violated our bodies.

They passed us round. The tore our bodies as well as our clothes. They fucked the nuns, they pulled the sheet from the table and fucked each other with the implements of sex that lay there. They pushed them into us as well, those toys.

Hours passed I came and went. Some minutes passed torturously as years of pain and humiliation. Some hours passed in seconds of unconsciousness when I blacked out. Mary, Mary Magdalene. Fuck Mary Magdalene, they chanted as they passed us around.

I woke many miles from St Mags on a rocky shore of the Firth of Forth. I’d been tied in a mail sack, along with my sibling. I’d freed my head and breathed. My sibling had not. It was a mercy. I climbed out of the sack and onto the smooth, cold pebbles of North Queensferry, a wretched creature. I kicked the body of my twin, still inside the sack back into the water and blew it a kiss.

I didn’t go back to Edinburgh, instead I went home to Dundee and emptied my father’s safe at home. I went online with the black book full of passwords I found in his safe and emptied every one of his accounts too. The bastard deserved us for putting us in St Mags’.

I disappeared. I got a new identity, I travelled, I grew up. I came back to Edinburgh, but I’d changed. I’d grown, become a man. A strong man, younger and more capable than the elderly, filthy men who’d violated Mary and Paul. The first one, I took whilst he crossed Charlotte Square. It was pathetic how old he had become. The hands I remembered clawing at my thighs and pants, were sparrow’s claws, ineffectually pulling at my grip as I dragged the old cunt into the back of my van. I bestowed upon him every torture my sibling and I had suffered at his hands and the hands of his brethren.

I went so much further with him than even they had with Paul and Mary. I cut his eyelids and placed him in a room full of mirrors to watch as I sliced and pierced and fucked and ripped and gouged every ounce of fucking pain I could drag from the evil bastard. I did things to that creature that some would say makes me worse than all of them. It doesn’t though, because he wasn’t a child. That’s the bare truth of it. He and his brothers of the cloth, men of God, betrayed children. I tortured and fucked an evil old man into a bloody puddle, then I hunted some of his fellow holy men. I still have some to find, to punish. For me and for my brother.

***

My eyes are stinging and I become aware that I hadn’t blinked the entire time Wilson had been speaking. He’s still sitting in Buddha position wanking away in the corner.

“Your brother?” I ask.

“Yes, Paul, my brother.” She makes a sort of ‘duh’ face at me. Standing, she continues tugging on her cock and extends a hand for me.

“Thanks for listening. You should go now, Paul will be back soon. He doesn’t like you much. Go.”

I reach out and give the offered hand a little squeeze, similar to the one Benny had offered me earlier. As I let go my eyes go for a wander to Wilson’s feet. They are small, maybe a size four or five. The legs are lean and strong but long and slender also. Whilst Wilson’s torso is scarred the scars screamed a familiarity. I’ve seen scars like those on she wears on his-her chest somewhere else before. Maybe a TV show.

Wilson catches me scanning his body. That smile lights up the room again.

“You like it?” She asks. “I paid a fortune for it. Tits out and sewed up, vagina closed and this,” She jerks that cock. “This I’m delighted with. Nice and big, plenty of damage done tae a hole wi’ this big bastard, I can tell ye. Three piece titanium rod inside, hard whenever I want for however long I need it.”

I gape at the scars.

“Only problem is that I’m a dry-shagger. They cannae give ye baws, well wee rubber wans, but not working ones full of spunk.” Her eyes mist for a second as she loses herself in a rapey-reverie. “Och I’d have loved it if I could’ve had spunk tae splash over thae bastards,” she says, wistfully.

Suddenly her face begins to darken once more and her voice deepens. Half way between Paul and Mary he-she roars. “Get fuckin’ oot!”

She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I rocket through the door and lock it shut behind me. Peering in through the little trap, I watch Mary kneel back into the corner and her back straighten. Paul’s voice comes.

“Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene. She’s fuckin’ coming fur ye, ya basturts.”

End of Excerpt

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Twelve Mad Men features contributions from:

Paul D Brazill (Guns of Brixton, A Case of Noir)
Gerard Brennan (Fireproof, Wee Rockets)
Les Edgerton (The Bitch, The Rapist)
Craig Furchtenicht (Dimebag Bandits, Night Speed Zero)
Richard Godwin (Mr Glamour, One Lost Summer, Apostle Rising)
Allen Miles (18 Days, This is How You Disappear)
Keith Nixon (The Fix, The Eagle’s Shadow)
Darren Sant (Tales From The Longcroft, The Bank Manager and The Bum)
Gareth Spark (Black Rain, Shotgun Honey)
Martin Stanley (The Gamblers, The Hunters)
Mark Wilson (dEaDINBURGH, Head Boy)

and is available now at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

 

Ronnie the Rooster

Ronnie the Rooster is the first short-story I wrote. I’ve no idea who Ronnie is based on or where his story came from. I couldn’t find another place to use it so I crowbarred it into my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy.

 Since It’s my birthday, I’m indulging myself. This is one of my favourite stories to have written. Enjoy.

Over 18s only (or those who enjoy tales of bionic fuckery at least).

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Never trust an OAP from Caldercruix with a glint in his eye and a bulge in his trousers.

Ronnie the Rooster

 

Ronnie was a chicken farmer from Caldercruix  who had grafted for decades, rearing chickens and supplying excellent quality eggs and meat to the local farmers’ markets on weekends. Ronnie loved his life. In his mid-fifties, he had been happily married for nearly thirty years to his beloved Agnes. Together, they’d worked hard, built a profitable business and raised three kids, sending each in turn out into the world to make their way.

Their eldest, Ronald Jnr, had moved to Surrey and was running a successful legal practice. He specialised in family law, mainly divorces, which Ronnie Senior found a little sad. The old man often wondered if Ronnie Junior was really happy in what could be such a demanding and sometimes heartbreaking role. Young Ronnie still called his dad three or four times a week to talk about the football, the horses, or just to catch up. Old Ronnie appreciated that as he knew how tight the lad’s time was.

Senga, their daughter, was an experienced emergency room doctor and was well through her training to become a general surgeon. She worked in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, which was a forty-minute drive east along the M8 motorway, and she’d found a home nearby the hospital in the city centre. Ronnie and Agnes saw her often thanks to her living within commutable distance. Senga had that rare gift of being hugely intelligent, but utterly inclusive and sweet to everyone around her, whilst still being no one’s fool. Ronnie Senior honestly couldn’t remember the girl getting upset about anything or saying a bad word about anyone. Everyone loved Senga. She was a born “fixer” and a natural doctor as a result of her accepting and caring attitude.

Their youngest boy, Steven, named after his grandfather on his mother’s side, was a different breed. Steven was sugar and shite in that you could see Steven on one occasion and he would be everyone’s pal, lighting up the room and bringing a carnival of fun with him. The next time you saw him he’d be a moody, angry wee fanny. He was an artist and while old Ronnie loved his unpredictable, tornado of a personality, young Ronnie had little time for him when his younger sibling was in shite mode, asserting on more than one occasion that his brother was “A lazy wee bastard, sorry Dad.”

Young Ronnie just didn’t understand his brother. Steven wasn’t interested in the academic or career-driven path to what others perceived as success. Rather, he just wanted to create things that excited him and was happy with the basics in life. So long as he could empty the many ideas and projects that cluttered his brain onto a canvas or image, the boy was content.

Steven had recently produced photographs of places and people bathed in “light graffiti”. The process of producing these images involved young Steven preparing a location at night, pitch black, opening his camera lens and “painting” the empty air with lights which were captured in the camera lens like the trail of a sparkler moved in the air by a child. These scenes amazed old Ronnie but left him baffled as to where the originality of the “paintings” had sprung from in Steven’s mind.

Ronnie took some stick regularly from the lads in the pub for Steven’s choice of vocation, but laughed it off easily. He was in awe of Steven’s talent and could never have dreamed he’d have such a creative child. Ronnie had no doubt that Steven was by far the happiest and most content of his children but he still shared with his siblings the energy and drive to add something of worth to the world.

Ronnie never compared his children to each other, or to anyone else’s for that matter, but enjoyed each of their achievements equally with pride. “We’ve done not bad for a couple of auld chicken farmers,” he repeated to Agnes often, in reference to their happy and successful children, during a cuddle on the sofa on many an evening. Life had rewarded his hard-working family and Ronnie was looking forward to retiring later that year, having negotiated a very good sale of the farm and surrounding land to a young businessman. The deal would give him and Agnes the financial security to travel for most of their remaining years.

That had been the plan anyway, until Ronnie started having health problems.

It happened infrequently at first. One time, written off as tiredness. Weeks would then pass and again the problem would come. It soon became that more often than not that he would be compelled to leave their bedroom and go downstairs to sit smoking in his armchair until the sting of embarrassment from the latest humiliating episode had subsided and he could face her again. Ronnie had very suddenly and unfortunately become impotent.

He just couldn’t understand it. Ronnie had never had any problems in that department before. Old age, he supposed, absent-mindedly flicking through a men’s magazine to see if he could get his member stirring at the women in its pages. Alas, no response. Far from feeling lust towards the naked and posing girls quite literally spread across the magazine’s pages, Ronnie found himself worrying.

-That lassie could dae wi’ a jumper on. She’s freezin’ judging by thon nipples… Och well. At my time in life it doesn’t matter so much. I’ve got my health, my children and my Agnes. She’s always been the understanding type, and we hardly bother in that department these days anyway. It might have been a big loss ten years ago, but I can live with it now.-

As Ronnie thought it, he relaxed into his seat, relieved that he had found it so easy to accept the newly-dormant nature of his penis. Unfortunately for him, Agnes found it much more difficult to accept his condition. His wife of thirty years left him within three months of his member retiring, and exactly two days before he himself retired.

In the weeks and months that followed, the newly retired Ronnie found himself rattling round the once-family home. Too much time on his hands and too quiet a house. It seemed that the house and Ronnie both missed its former occupants and previously busy rooms. He sold up within a few weeks of Agnes moving out. She had moved into a flat down in Durham with a younger man, forty years old, he’d heard.

Ronnie too, found himself a small flat in nearby Hamilton, and started slowly rebuilding his social life. Snooker with old friends, book clubs, swimming, visiting his kids, his days began to fill and happiness re-entered his newly expanding world again. One thing kept nagging at Ronnie though. He missed having a female companion. It wasn’t the sexual side of the relationship especially, but the intimacy that came with hand-holding and cuddling was a great absence in his life. Climbing into an empty bed also left him empty inside. He couldn’t envisage being able to offer any of his female friends a proper relationship due to his impotence and began cursing the condition he’d once been ambivalent about.

After a great deal of research, visits to a London cosmetic clinic and some soul-searching, Ronnie decided upon a course of action. He used a significant portion of his retirement money and shared profits from the sale of the family home to finance a new, innovative and incredibly effective treatment for impotence.

A penile shaft graft.

The operation sounded brutal. The penis was first lengthened by effectively pulling the internal part through to the outside world, as would happen during the normal erection. It was then sliced lengthways, like a hot-dog bun, and a three-part steel rod inserted. Then it would be stitched back up. The three sections of the rod were joined by a locking hinge at each section, giving the owner the option of click-twisting the hinges in place, straightening and hardening the penis. The operation offered the safety of an instant and unfailing, steel-hard erection. After sex, the wearer would simply twist-pop the steel rod into the at-rest position.

In this rest position it would hang like a normal penis, admittedly a slightly longer and heavier penis than he’d previously possessed, but hey ho. It could be snapped up and out into the ready position with a few quick twists. Easy; even with the wee bit of arthritis in Ronnie’s hands earned from years of handling chicken eggs.

It took four long months to fully heal but Ronnie couldn’t have been happier with the results. The newly-equipped Ronnie wasted no time inviting a lady friend round to his to try out his new boaby. He found it a joy to be able to satisfy a woman again, if a bit strange to be having sex with someone other than Agnes after so many decades. Still, it didn’t bother him for long. Within a month word of Ronnie’s cyborghood had spread and a steady stream of over-fifties widows, divorcees and bored wives began calling on him daily. He’d only ever wanted one lady’s hand but as she’d fucked off and left him, well, he thought that he deserved to indulge himself a wee bit. Never with the married ones though.

Within a year Ronnie and his ever-ready steel penis had become famous from Lanarkshire to the Highlands, and even as far south as Carlisle. Women from all over were contacting him with invitations to come “visit” them at their homes, all expenses paid.

“What can you do?” he’d ask mates in the pub when relaying his stories.

“Snap the auld cock into place and get going Ronnie,” was the standard reply. And so he did.

All in all Ronnie spent ten years, his final ten years as it turned out, travelling the length and breadth of the UK. He spent these trips forming friendships, enjoying food, wine, long walks in the countryside, and many, many women. His exploits earned him the nickname “Ronnie the Rooster”, which paid tribute to his chicken-farming past, and sexually hyper-active present.

No one knows if he visited Agnes in Durham.

Bobby’s Boy and Mark’s other books, Naebody’s Hero, Head Boy and dEaDINBURGH are available now on Amazon

………………………………….

The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts, Review

Utterly compelling and quaintly contemporary

The Medea Complex is one of those stories. The ones you drag yourself along to the cinema to see after reconsidering because there was nothing else on, or read because you happened to have it and then discover how close you came to missing out on a truly unexpected wonder.

R.F. Roberts has hit the ground running with her debut novel. A veritable whirlwind of bewilderment, fear, edginess and the blackest of gallows humour. Roberts conveys the feelings, fears and amusement of her characters, the confusion, jealousy, love and ambition they feel and are driven by, expertly. Roberts gives the reader an uneasy feeling right from the first page and maintains that level of edginess and suspense throughout.

For a first-time author, Roberts is remarkably self-assured in her use of first-person narrative. Many debut authors resort to this narrative style for the sake of simplicity, Roberts merely brandishes it as a mechanisms with which to carry her readers along and amplify the eagerness of the reader to unfold the motives and consequences of her characters and their actions. Simply brilliant skill, and one that normally needs a book or two under the writer’s belt to use with this kind of confidence and effect.

Roberts has clearly done her research and despite historical fiction not really being my thing, I found this book utterly compelling and strangely contemporary in its quaintness.

For me this book fulfilled the promise that recent psychological thriller Before I go To Sleep by S.J. Watson failed to deliver. A truly creative and skilled debut novel.

The Medea Complex is available on Amazon UK and US

 

 

The Smelly Kid in Class

The Smelly Kid in Class

 

I’m not really sure where this one came from; a long-forgotten memory dredged up from….wherever. I sat down with the need to write something, not really knowing what would come. This is the result.

 

The Kid is in the playground and has noticed “that smell” again. For the last few days it has been a constant, especially at school. It’s a sort of old person’s home smell. He’s been in those homes a lot, Auntie Betty has lived in a few of them and he visits regularly. She always smells of Murray Mints, but the home smells like this smell he is being followed by. The Kid finds himself a quiet corner, away from the other kids, most of whom are being Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader in epic Playground battles. A thought has occurred to the Kid. He smells his armpits, breath, and wafts up his hand from his crotch….It’s him; the smell’s coming from him.

 

The Kid is 10 years old, and is in primary 5 at a school that’s fairly new to him. It’s the 4th primary school he’s been to and he’s perfected the Lanarkshire “New Boy” routine. Wait for someone to hit you (doesn’t take long) kick the shit out of them (hopefully), and then get a few days peace until the next one comes along. Lather, rinse, repeat until it settles down and you make some friends.

He’s made plenty of friends at this school. The Kid’s funny, clever (though he thinks he’s stupid) and making friends comes easy to him. Truth be told, he’d be happy to stay at school 24 hours a day. At least the rules are clear at school. He’s tired, as always, but he’s become used to pushing through that particular fog, he has to, he’s far too busy to be tired.

The Kid knows why he’s smelly, as soon as he realised he stank, he also knew why. The Kid shares a room with his baby sister. The baby wakes up and needs fed, changed and nursed back to sleep at least twice a night. This is The Kid’s job. Mum and Step-dad don’t like to be disturbed at night as they need their sleep, so it’s fallen to the kid. His older sister used to do it but she left and lives with his Dad now. She used to get the Kid up for school in the morning, give him clean clothes, wash and feed him, then do the same for herself. He misses her. Not for this daily stuff, but because she loves him more than anyone else does, and he doesn’t know when or if he will see her again. He doesn’t have time or quite know how to do all those things for himself; that’s why he’s dirty and smelly, but he’s learning and with today’s realisation, that’s going to change.

The Kid decides that every evening he’ll shower. He knows he will get grief for using hot water, but he’s willing to take it. He’s going to get up a bit earlier (just after the baby’s last early morning feed), get washed, dressed, make something to eat and get out to school on time. The Kid knows that his clothes are a big part of the problem and resolves to wash all his clothes in one go, secretly, on a Saturday afternoon. It’s the perfect time as he’s always home alone from mid-day until around 6pm.

 

Enough, he decides.

 

The Kid washes, he launders, he cooks, and he cleans, babysits, changes nappies, makes and administers bottles of formula, and slowly, slowly becomes an adult.

 

Every smelly kid has a story. Take the time to learn it.

Mark Wilson

 

June 1st 20114780108

Head Boy by Mark Wilson Excerpt

The following excerpt is from Chapter 10 of Head Boy by Mark Wilson Copyright to M.Wilson2013

Head Boy is available as a paperback and on kindle on Amazon US and UK

headBoy-final-cover

 

Chapter 10

A Useless Five-Percent-er

 

Stevie removed his leather bomber jacket and threw it onto the ram-raid post to his left. Bloody warm tonight.

Having to wrestle two deadbeats out of Angel’s hadn’t helped him in staying cool either.

“Haw, Monkey,” he bellowed.

One of Stevie’s co-workers, a temp who had been hired from Rock Steady for the night, looked up at him. When temps appeared to provide an extra pair of hands on busy nights, Stevie didn’t bother to learn their names, but gave them nicknames based on their face or mannerisms. In the last few months, he’d worked with Mongers, Budgie, Nicki Minaj, Posh Spice and Django. Tonight’s guy was a bit simian-looking so had been christened, Monkey. Around an hour into his shift, Monkey had given up trying to tell Stevie his name, figuring that it was less trouble to simply answer to his new moniker.

“Aye?” Monkey asked.

“I’m going to stretch my legs and have a cig. You take over here Monkey-Boy.”

Stevie loped off, lighting a Marlborough as he went. Hearing his colleague huffing, he tossed over his shoulder. “I’ll bring ye a nice banana back.”

Monkey jabbed his middle finger at Stevie’s back as he left.

 

Half an hour later, Stevie was in a dark corner on the perimeter of the Tunnock’s factory. Leaning back against the brick, Stevie inhaled deeply on a Marlborough and craned his neck back to stare up at the sky, trying to enjoy the moment. All of his senses were sharpened but not in a good way. His nerves were shredded, every sound irritated him. The cold scratchy bricks on his bare arse cheeks chafed and Linda’s teeth, rather than stoking his lust as they gently nibbled and dragged back and forth assisting her lips, well, they just hurt. His semi had all but wilted to a five percent insult of an erection despite Linda’s finest efforts to revive it.

“Stop, hen, just stop there,” Stevie told her.

“What’s the matter, Stevie?” Linda looked up at him.

“Och, I’ve a lot on my mind, hen.”

“We could try something else?” Linda took a step to the wall, braced both hands on the brickwork and rotated her pelvis, presenting her peach of an arse to Stevie.

Stevie laughed, causing her to self-consciously straighten and cover herself over with her coat.

“Don’t ye fancy me anymore?” she accused him, looking ten percent hurt, ninety percent pissed-off.

“Och, it’s not you, it’s me, Linda,” Stevie offered, standing pathetically covering himself while his trousers lay around his ankles.

Linda poked a finger in his face. “Did you just say that? To me?” she screamed at him, overdramatically.

“I didn’t mean it like that, hen. I’ve really not been right.” Stevie had his palms open in a submissive gesture.

“Aye, well,” Linda told him, lighting a cigarette. “I’ve not got time for this. Gies a phone when it’s working again.” She jabbed a finger down at his crotch and departed, wobbling away on her fantastic legs and too-high heels.

Stevie sighed and lit another Marlborough. Holding the cig in his mouth he tucked away his soggy wee pal and did up his trousers. He’d been struggling badly to focus since he’d met with Hondo the previous day. Hardly sleeping at all the previous night, Stevie had tossed and turned, trying to figure out who and what he’d become. Had he really promised Hondo that he would help with Davie Diller?

Since he’d left the force, Stevie’s life had gone to shit. He’d lost and thrown away everything good in his life. The job, the house, his wife, their daughter; in an eighteen-month spell he’d lost the lot. Looking back, it was clear that in the months following his medical retirement Stevie had been badly depressed and in the darkest depths of PTSD. That one split second when the knife had slid into his thigh had changed his life forever and continued to define his actions now.

 

**********

DS Miller had been standing bullshitting about football with the boy behind the desk in the Shell petrol station when the call came in. An informant of his had tipped him off a few days previously that a substantial deal was taking place in The Orb, and that Hondo would be there in person, holding product. The call informed him that the deal was on.

DS Miller contacted the station, looking for the DCI to get the go-ahead, but Dougie was still down at Wishaw General visiting that nephew of his, the laddie with leukaemia. That meant that it was the Sergeant’s call. Relaying orders for a few uniformed officers to liaise with him on Hamilton Road, DS Miller went directly there on foot. Accepting a stab-proof vest from the attending DC, DS Miller briefed each of the half dozen officers, instructing them to go for Hondo first and then arrest any stragglers.

Almost as soon as the team burst through the door of The Orb bar, DS Miller spotted Hondo holding court at the far end of the bar. Team-handed they dragged him and three of his cronies to the sticky floor, cuffed and searched him. Nothing.

Hondo laughed at them throughout. “Better luck next time,” the old man had sneered at DS Miller as he was released from the barely-on cuffs.

“Just wait the now,” Miller told his team.

Stepping outside, he radioed the station. Five minutes later the dog team arrived. The station dog, a massive German Shepard named Kaiser, sniffed from man to man, finding nothing. The handler proceeded to lead Kaiser around the pub whilst Hondo and his crew laughed to themselves. Suddenly the mutt had leapt over the bar and begun scratching and barking at the cellar door.

“If there’s nothing else Sergeant? “Hondo laughed and left the pub. DS Miller had no excuse to stop him leaving.

Opening the cellar door, Miller had shouted down into the darkness, “Up ye come.” Suddenly a man flashed through the open hatch. Bowie knife in hand, the suspect had plunged the eight-inch blade into Miller’s leg and ended his career in a spray of blood and violence.

When he’d still been on active duty, Stevie had scoffed at other officers who had succumbed to PTSD after an incident on duty. If they can’t cope wi’ the job, they should fuck off out of it had been his assertion.

Like most officers he’d worked with, Stevie had considered mental illness a preventable and controllable condition. Just cheer up. Just don’t think about it. Just work harder.

Now he knew better. Stevie had spent hours crying for no reason. He’d slept for days at a time, starved himself and ignored everyone. He’d tried to re-engage but couldn’t face the simple act of talking to another person. Hell, he couldn’t even look at his own wife without suffering a panic attack. His daughter had cried at him, begging him to pull himself together. Don’t you love us anymore, Dad? It had broken his heart. Inside he was screaming “Yes! Help me!’” Outside, he rolled over and went to sleep whilst his broken-hearted family packed their things and left him.

He drank and did drugs. He gambled, and then, finally, eventually, he faced the world again. The doc had given him pills that helped him to face people, but the guy who emerged through the black fog with a medicine cabinet full of anti-depressants at home and a bloodstream full of whiskey and Class-As wasn’t really Stevie Miller anymore. He just wore him like a suit.

Who he was now – no family, reeking of cigarettes, alcohol and bitterness – would have sickened DS Miller. But he was who he was. He didn’t know how to be his old self anymore. The guy who’d laughed freely with people, who’d spent all of his free time with his family. The guy who people knew would do what he said he would and could be relied upon to back you up. The husband, the father and the police officer were all long gone and all that remained, it seemed, was the piece of shit, alcoholic, coke-snorting doorman who’d sell out his best friend’s son for the favour of a petty local drug dealer.

The old DS Miller would have detested Stevie Miller, but not half as much as he hated himself. Just like his dick, he was about five percent of what he should be.

 

Fuck it. Stevie tossed the butt of his cigarette at the wall. Five percent’s better than fuck all. Hondo can go fuck himself. Young Davie was a bit of a player but that could be sorted. Davie had never hurt a soul. He didn’t deserve what was coming to him.

 

Stevie straightened himself and headed back to Angel’s to finish his shift.

 

Head Boy is available as a paperback and on kindle on Amazon US and UK

Last Season’s Children: the debut novel that never was

The following excerpt comes from a book I started writing in 2009 and as yet haven’t been able to continue with. It was the first writing project I took on and would have been my debut novel if I hadn’t gotten distracted by four other books I had to write, and in all honesty, if I hadn’t been too scared and lacking in the technical skills to write it.

Last Season’s Children is Semi-Autobiographical but is a mostly fictional examination of how divorce and any subsequent marriages (for the kids or the parents) affects children. It’s a subject that has defined almost every aspect of my upbringing and early adult life.

Using the theme of seasons to represent the characters, in Last Season’s Children we follow siblings, Gus and July, every two years throughout their lives. The language used by the characters in each time period reflects their respective ages, education, situation, and mental state.

I will write the rest of this novel, but not yet: I hope you enjoy.

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Last Season’s Children 

2000

                                    August is 3 years old.

                                    July is 5 years old.

 

August:

I’m in bed and it’s past my bed-time. I should be sleeping by now but I can hear the angry sounds coming up from downstairs again. Can’t sleep.

My room has Star Wars wall-paper and I’ve studied every inch of it. Obi-Wan has a blue Lightsaber and is fighting Dart Maul. I picked it ‘cos I love the film and I like counting the droids when I’m lying in bed. My big sister July took me to see it at the Vue Cinema in Hamilton. We go there on the number fourteen bus every Saturday. July’s friends come too and she never goes without me. July always shares her crisps with me.

July says that Mum and Dad are just talking loudly, but I know that they don’t like each other anymore. They still like me, though.

 

July is here, with me. She always is if I can’t sleep. She’s helping me play the flag game. July helps me sort out colours from downstairs into the flags of different countries. She knows lots of flags and I do too. It’s how we put away the angry colours coming up from Mum and Dad’s talking. We play this game a lot. July sees colours too. All sounds make colours for us. Some colours are really nice, like music we like or nice peoples’ voices. Others are a bit scary but July always knows how to make the colours quiet.

 

It’s Saturday tomorrow and we are going to the cinema again and then to our Gran’s. I love my Gran’s house, it’s fun. She has a budgie called Jackie who says bad words and she always makes sugary tablet for us. Gran always makes us laugh, she’s the funniest person we know.  She lives with my Granda, my Auntie Betty and my Uncle Robert. Uncle Robert has no teeth and eats sweets called Odd-Fellows all the time. Aunty Betty is very quiet. Me and July go to our Gran’s house almost every day.

Me and July are always doing things together; even when I just want to stay in my room July says” C’mon Gus, we’ve got a busy day!”

 

Our front door has just slammed. Dad has left again. I’m really sleepy….

 

————————————

July:

Daddy has just left. It sounded really bad downstairs this time, but at least Gus is sleeping now. I kiss him on the forhead, slide out of his bed and go downstairs. Sometimes I skite down the bannister, but I’m creeping this time in case Daddy’s still here. Mummy is crying again and turns away from me when I walk in. I stand beside her leg and tell her I came for a drink of milk. When Mummy turns round she has my milk and a smile but her eyes are very red. We hug and talk for a while and then I go back to my own bedroom. I love my bedroom. It’s next to Gus’s room and has lots of pictures of my whole family, my soft toys and my dolls-house.

Gus and I are going to Gran’s tomorrow. Gran always gives us a lot of cuddles, and tablet.  It’s always better to go there after there’s been a big fight at home. It’s even better if we can go to school the day after a big fight. School always makes me feel safe.

I’m going into primary 2 soon but would like it better if my class could stay with the same teacher. Mrs Cooke is nice and doesn’t mind if I’m a bit too tired to finish all my work in class. She knows I like to read and gives me books to take home. I always take good care of them and give them back after I have read them.

I brush my hair for a while and listen to make sure that Gus hasn’t woken up again. He’s been sleepwalking again and I like to get to him before he wakes up Daddy or Mummy. It sounds like he’s quiet for tonight, so I decide to read ‘til I’m sleepy again.

I’ve got a newspaper in my room, The Herald, and I read it for a little while before I go back to sleep. I have always liked watching and reading the news. The people use words I don’t hear very often and I like trying to use them.  I watched a report on the news yesterday about an earthquake, which is when your whole house shakes. For a few days there’s something the man on the news called ‘aftershocks’ too. Sometimes the people evacuate until it all settles down.

 

Sleepy now…

2002

 

                                    August is 5 years old.

                                    July is 7 years old.

 

August:

I’ve got chickenpox and I’m stuck in bed. I’m not allowed to go anywhere for another week, and I’m bored. I want to go to school ‘cos I miss playing with my friends at break, especially Jim Gallagher; he’s my best friend. We get into trouble together sometimes but always back each other up. One day an old man who lives round the back from Jim told us to come in for ice-cream. I said we weren’t going but Jim was desperate for ice-cream so we went in. The man smelled of pipe-smoke and cherry tobacco and he had a massive freezer in his living room, like the one in the corner shop. He told Jim that he wanted to show him something upstairs and ‘cos Jim was following him I said that I had a sore stomach and needed him to take me home so that Jim would leave with me too. I walked Jim home and then went home to my own house. My Dad went round to see the man to tell him not to ask us in again.

 

My teacher is nice at school. Mrs Cooke says that I’m as good a reader as July but I don’t like it. It’s boring and I prefer sports. I walk to school with Gillian Foster who lives 2 doors down from my house.  She always turns up at my door and says that she is my girlfriend but she’s not. I’m never having a girlfriend, all they do is make you argue with them. I like Gillian but she’s very loud and tries to kiss me all the time and she still uses stabilisers on her bike so she can’t keep up with me.

 

It’s Saturday and I should be at the Cinema in Hamilton to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I’ve been so excited to see the new Harry Potter film. Everyone wants to be Harry in my class, but I like Ron Weasley better, he makes me laugh. July helped me make a Ron costume and I wore it last month to a birthday party and cast some spells on some ‘Slytherins’ that were there too.

On the way back from the party I was running through an alley July and I use for a short-cut. I fell over and my hand landed on a broken Buckie bottle. The green glass went into my palm and came out the other side. It was really sore. July took the glass out and took me to her friends’ house whose mum is a nurse. She gave me butterfly stitches and put a bandage on. It’s almost all better now but a have a big scar on my palm that looks like a big letter ‘J’. When-ever I see it I remember July pulling out the glass.

July is home with me today ‘cos she won’t go to the cinema if I can’t go with her. She’s helping mum to clean out the taxi. Mum drives a black taxi and works for a man called Peter McKenna at Maxi’s Taxis. She sometimes works at night-time when we are sleeping. Gran comes to sleep at our house if mum is working nights. Me and July go to a lady called Grace’s house after school and have our dinner there until mum comes home. Grace has a big fat ginger cat called Tiger. July always cuddles it but I’ve kicked it two times now ‘cos he scratches me and I don’t like him. Grace lives next door to a man called Donny Smith. My dad said I’ve not to talk to him and if Donny talks to me I’m supposed to tell my dad.

My dad has gone to Blackpool for a few days ‘cos he is fed up with my mum. July misses him and has phoned him three times this week, but I’m not bothered. We hardly see him when he’s home anyway so it doesn’t make much difference that he’s away.

I want to see my Gran today. She says we can go there because they have all had chickenpox before, except Uncle Robert. Gran says he will just have to stay in his room until we leave. I hope Gran has made some soup and some tablet for us.

I can see Alexander Goode playing in his garden next door. He still has a bandage on his wrist from when we were fighting two weeks ago. Alexander Goode is eight years old and much bigger than I am. Every day since I started school he has hit me on the way home. I don’t like fighting and July said I hadn’t to hit him back, so he continued to hit me for 6 weeks.

One day when he hit me I fell and tore the knee out of my school trousers. Dad saw them when I got home and I had to tell him what Alexander had done to me. Dad asked me why I hadn’t hit him back. I told him I was scared. Dad asked me who I’m more scared of, him or Alexander Goode. He told me if I didn’t go next door and batter him, that he would hit me hard for being a poof. Dad took me into the garden and kicked the fence to break it. He gave me a post and sent me next door.

I was really scared to hit Alexander but my dad fights all the time and I didn’t want him to hit me like I’d seen him hit some men. Dad has the biggest scar I’ve ever seen. It goes from under his belly-button, across his body and up to his neck. He said it’s mum’s fault he got it ‘cos she was talking to a man she shouldn’t have been.

I went next door and did what I was told. Alexander doesn’t talk to me anymore and stays out of my way. I feel bad but kind of like that the bigger boys let me hang around with them now.

I wish these chickenpox would go away…

——————————————-

 July:

I’ve been really busy at school recently, and at the dancing. I have hardly seen Gus ‘cos he’s been in the house ill for ages now. I miss walking to school with him and wee Gillian.  Mum and dad have been working lots and hardly speak to each other when they are in the house together. I miss my Daddy; he’s away just now. Gus doesn’t seem to mind but before he got ill he’d hardly been around either. I think he’s been hanging around with that big boy Tommy Stuart and his gang. I hope they don’t encourage him do stupid things. They are always in trouble with the police. Gus was sleep-walking again last night. He was talking too; about the colours from that day but he didn’t remember it in the morning. He is listening to music all the time just now cos he’s at home. That always makes his head busy at night and he lies in his bed sorting the colours instead of sleeping. Our cousin Davie Connell gives Gus all of his albums to listen to ‘cos he knows how much Gus loves them. I’m going to ask Gran later if dad will come home soon ‘cos I’m worried that he won’t…

 

End of Excerpt

You can find Mark Wilson and his books on Amazon US; Amazon, UK and at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing

Haggis Cures Depression?

It’s felt like depression’s reared its ugly head once more this last couple Of weeks. Wanting to cry, knackered all the time and feeling like nothing’s being accomplished. Futility with no exit.

On this occasion, though it’s just the all consuming, in a bubble, exhaustion of having a newborn at home.

Add in work being particularly hard at the moment and publishing a book this week, and you have a perfect storm of fatigue that makes you nod off mid-conversation.

Being a new parent again is not unlike deepest depression but one big gummy smile lifts your heart more than a good dose of citalopram ever could.

Tonight a wee haggis, neeps and tatties dinner on Burn’s Night made me feel very happy, warm and happy with my lot in life.

Happy Burns Night.

you can buy my new novel Naebody’s Hero here

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Excerpt From my Bio – Paddy’s Daddy

Most readers of this blog will be unaware that I’ve suffered from depression for most of my life (from 10 years old). It’s kind of the family business. I wrote a short Autobiography detailing my recovery from depression as a series of short stories, collected as the book “Paddy’s Daddy”. I’ve included an the introduction and Chapter 1 of the title short story. As always, all feedback, questions and comments welcome:

Introduction

 

With the exception of the first story, Paddy’s Daddy, the following stories and articles were written as part of my recovery after twenty five years of moderate and severe depression. They detail exactly how I felt at the time they were written, although in some cases, my views have certainly changed since.

 

I’ve found great comfort and a healthy outlet in writing regularly these past two years since reaching rock-bottom, in terms of my mental health, and seeking treatment. I’ve recently completed my first fictional novel “Bobby’s Boy”, which was released on April 7th 2012, and I’m currently working on three more novels including a Christmas 2012 release for “Nae’body’s Hero”. I promise that those novels have all been edited to a much stricter standard than the series of short stories you hold now.

This book contains all of my favourite stories and the ones which helped empty my cluttered head exactly as they were at the time of writing. They are deliberately unedited and unpolished in any way as reflects the author at the time of writing.

 

Men, in particular, have a hard time admitting that they have a problem with mental illness and that need they need help. They have a harder time still accepting that help. Suicide is a real risk for people who feel that alone. I hope some of you find comfort in my stories and take solace in the knowledge that you’re not the only one to feel the way that you do and in that it is just a moment in time. The clouds will part again at some point with the right help. Life can be good again. You can be yourself once more.

 

Mark Wilson

March 25th 2012

 

 

Paddy’s Daddy

 

1

 

Early Days

 

My earliest memory is of lying in my bed cuddled with my older sister Julie, listening to my mum and dad arguing downstairs. This wasn’t an uncommon thing at all and we had been creeping in and out of each other’s beds to comfort one another for as long as I could recall. No kid likes to listen to their parents argue and our parents could argue and fight like champions. Bangs, crashes, curses and flat, wet thumps of what we presumed were fists reached our ears on nights like these. I never got used to hearing it.

Invariably, in the morning, mum would be found cleaning something up. Coffee stains from walls, food from the carpet. We helped. She hid bruises (I think) behind her hair and made jokes about the mess. She relaxed us somehow every single time. It was normal to us this life. Mum made it normal for us and made it seem like it was nothing. She shielded us from the wrongness of it all. We, the kids, just didn’t know any better. I was three (I think).

 

Years passed and despite these occasions we were a happy family much of the time, so far as I could make out. I certainly didn’t feel like I had a care in the world and expressed my independence and opinion without encouragement and frequently. I had so much fun all of the time and was truly carefree.  Julie was always a little more introspective and took a role as my carer and protector. I did not appreciate her love one little bit. What kid does appreciate love? They just expect it, if they’re lucky. I remember many happy times in those years. I recall trips to the cinema, family seaside visits, racing with dad, visits to my gran’s and cuddles with my mum. We were a happy family once, depending on what mood daddy was in.

Dad had been an alcoholic for as long as I could remember. He was drunk, a lot, and a nasty drunk at that. He was mainly a functioning alcoholic, holding down a job at the steelworks (he was a hard worker actually, never a lazy man) but going on benders for several days at as time then weeks would go past alcohol-free. Always he would turn back to it again at some point in those days. He was also a fighter. My dad didn’t give a damn for anyone’s opinion, needs or wants when drinking. In later years, as I became a man and had rare encounters with dad, invariably he’d be drunk and invariably he’d want to fight me. When sober, he was the most affectionate man I’ve ever known, constantly throwing arm around or a kiss at his children. I began to resent the unpredictability of his moods and eventually stayed away, treating what was genuine affection as guilt-inspired bullshit.

 

When I reached seven and Julie nine, our lives changed forever with our removal from the family home. Mum came to school in the middle of the school day to collect us. With a taxi full of our belongings,  a swinging budgie cage and one confused kid (I knew what was happening and saw it as a big adventure), she drove us to a homeless unit in Wishaw five miles away. It might as well have been another planet to us.

Mum took to her bed for a whole month when we reached the unit. She was going cold turkey, coming off her anti-depressants in one swoop, rather than weaning herself slowly off.  She wanted to draw a line under the life she’d just escaped from and to have every trace and dependency gone I suppose. As a result she was useless to us. I’ve no idea what Julie did in those weeks, I saw her rarely. I was too busy splitting my time between being mum’s therapist and learning how to fight, courtesy of gangs of bullies who didn’t like homeless kids. These lessons came in useful in subsequent years with the many changes of school that came along.

Mum had been abused over and over again as a child, physically and mentally by a violent and controlling father and sexually by a relative. She’d been broken again and again and was easily controlled by the vindictive, violent bully that my father became when he was drinking. In recent months, she had sought solace (and love I suppose) in the arms of a work colleague, but made a point of stressing to me and Julie that this man was not the reason that she had left our dad. As if we needed to be told that. I knew all of this because mum told me all of it. She needed to talk to, someone to confide in . I’d rather not have known.

Despite all I knew about him, and mum made sure that Julie and I heard everything bad she could remember about our father, I still loved and missed my dad enormously. I called him every day from a little phone box,  a mile  or so from the homeless unit, using five and ten pence pieces that I’d scavenged from the ground outside the local pubs. I talked to dad for hours some days, avoiding his many questions about where we were and who mum was with. I also ignored his assertions of what a hoor my mother was, mumbling “uh huh” to placate him then asking questions of my own to change the subject. If he was drunk when I called, I’d hang up and call back the next day. I sat on the little shelf, highup from the floor, in that phone box so often and for so long that it became the most comfortable 6×9 sheet of metal in the world.

Thankfully, we moved out of that unit and into somewhere back in our hometown within a five month period.

 

Mum continued to lean on her children for years and mum and dad both ramped up their efforts to turn both Julie and I against the other parent and ultimately each other. Despite this, I was happy in our new place had made a new best friend in Mark O’Donnell (a shared interest in comics is important when you’re seven, and still important when you’re thirty-seven) and was popular in school. It didn’t last. Several months after a visit to London, to see mum’s sister Irene and her new husband John, we got ourselves a new step-dad. I went into my mum’s bedroom in our little flat in the “Jewel Scheme” to find some toy or other. As I entered the room a familiar looking guy with a moustache dived under the covers, hiding from me. I ran through to the living room to tell my mum that a man who looked like my uncle john was in the flat. She laughed.  Uncle John became our step-dad and the largest factor in destroying my self-esteem and splitting up our little family of three for good.

Mum and John had a baby not long after, Joanne. Our new family moved to a small village in South Lanarkshire. I settled well there eventually. Julie hated it. Lots of events happened in our house in those days; destruction of personal items, arguments, beatings, and humiliations. Eventually Julie went back to Bellshill to live with my dad and his new wife Liz.  Far away from everything I knew and after losing my sister, my protector,  I changed completely in those years.

The cocky little shite of a boy I’d been was gradually replaced by a quiet, introspective, circumspect bag of nerves whose self-esteem was crushed into nothing under the heel of a step-father who seemed determined to ignore me and mock me in equal doses. Mum turned a blind eye.  All of her fight had long since left her. A man like my step-father who was “nice” to her was a god-send, I think, for her.  I kept my head down, my mouth shut and stayed in my room. I gained weight and lost confidence daily. I avoided contact with people as often as I could. I spent days in my room. Looking back, it’s clear that this was the beginning of my depression.

Strangely enough I wasn’t all that bothered or surprised by the blackness that now followed me everywhere. After hearing of the suicides, incestuous rapes, abusive patriarchs and severe manic depressives in my mother’s family for half my life, I just sort of accepted that I’d carry some sort of mental illness in my genes. I decided that the best I could do was self-diagnose and self-treat for as long as I could.  I managed to live a life using this strategy for the next twenty-five years.

You can read more by by purchasing Paddy’s Daddy on Amazon for only 77p at present.