Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year

I hate new year's eves. I used to, at least. These days I just take it easy, knock back a few with the wife and maybe some close cohorts. But in the old days, going out on the razz, ah... something always went wrong. Maybe I'd get into a row and find myself removed from the club at 11:45, scratching my head and wiping blood from my nose. Maybe I'd just feel sick from too many consecutive drinking days, and no amount of sauce is going to put it right. Maybe there's some kind of romantic squabble that is stopping me from chilling out. Maybe I just get so horrifically drunk that I slip though a cosmic fissure in the fabric of time itself (this has happened more than once).

Maybe the whole thing is a big, big anticlimax.

So I just don't do it anymore. Come midnight on the 31st, I'll be out walking the dogs. Or unconscious. Ten, nine, eight, seven... Not listening, mate.

Be that as it may, I hope the new year brings you all what you mostest desire. Personally I can see some potentially good things on the horizon, and I'm looking forward to it. But you never know, do you? It's a noir world, after all. Right?

Have a good one.

And watch out for those cosmic fissures.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Chestnuts Roasting

I've been neglecting this blog of late. Shame on me. This is because I've been up to my chestnuts in things to do, mainly involving the thing I do best (er, writing novels, in case you're in any doubt. At least I hope so). However, I promise to pick it up here in the New Year. Hope to see you here.

Personally I can't wait for 2006. 2005 was (is) great, but I can't wait for Feb 7th, which will see the completion of the Mangel Trilogy in print. Also maybe some more foreign publications coming, which is just an amazing thing.

I would do a "best of 2005" list but, as usual, I can't gather my strength enough to do it. Maybe some time in Jan.

Meanwhile I'm off later today to see Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Britt Ekland. This is of course for the kids, but I'll bring along my Wicker Man DVD just in case I can corner her for an autograph. Or I might get one of the kids to do it.

Have a happy one,


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Did I Walk The Line?

I'm quite surprised that I did a post about cars yesterday. Obviously my mind was still full of car thoughts at the time because I'd been immersing myself in the task of finding a new car, and I had to dump it all out somewhere. But, quite honestly, I don't really give much of a shit about our five-wheeled, fume-farting friends. On one level I'm interested in them culturally, in terms of how they chart our lives and how we feel about them (which is why they come up a lot in my books). And quite clearly, reading back over what I wrote yesterday, I'm in some way obsessed with how they look. But really, for me, a car is just a car.

However, this was not always so.

When I was about 16 I truly was obsessed with cars. But again, this was nothing to do with mechanics and all about appearance. I used to get my hands on any classic car mags I could find, and pore over the old Ferraris and Maseratis and Lamborghinis. It was always the Italian marques I went for, never the more parochial Triumphs and MGs and Aston Martins, or the yank monstrosities and teutonic monsters. They were all so out of reach, and the most out of reach of all was the Ferrari Daytona (ah, I still go weak when I (v.v.rarely) see one). But I knew I wouldn't be getting any of those. My plan was to pass my driving test as soon as I was 17, then get my hands on a Triumph Herald banger (parochial but cheap, and open-topped), do it up, and become some kind of sophisticated playboy type.

God knows what I was thinking. I didn't know the first thing about mechanics (and still don't). And where was I supposed to find the money for this, or a place to carry out this "project"?

Luckily, all of these harebrained ideas went out the window when I failed TWICE to pass my test. To this day, I'm certain I failed from the anxiety of knowing that this promised land of beautiful cars and women (because, of course, they'd never be able to resist me in my Triumph Herald) was just around the corner.

Of course, it was a mirage.

But it all worked out OK in the end. For the next few years I was able to drink with impunity while friends sipped Kaliber and worried about their car in that shitty car park outside (and pulled women).

It's real...

...and it's coming.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Walk The Line

Long time no blog. Been busy getting my life straight. It's all about the wheels, see. A man needs the right wheels or he don't roll. Ain't that right?

Actually, until a few days ago I'd have said no. I'd have said you don't need wheels unless you need to get somewhere a bus wouldn't take you. And if you need wheels, all you need is the "A to B" variety (ie: transport pure and simple). To that end, I've spent the past three years ferrying myself across the country and back (160 miles round trip) in a 1.3 Fiat Punto which was so small I couldn't sit straight in it. Nice, eh?

But, sad though it is to admit it, the Punto suddenly got old (as they say in boxing circles), right there in the ring. I wouldn't go so far as using the term "clapped out", but I wouldn't stop far short of it either. Simply put, a new car was in order.

So I went out there and had a look around. Used car lots really do exist in their own special atmosphere. You drive into one, you enter a world of joviality and easy friendship and plastic cups of tea and shifty eye movement. It's a game of poker, and you're never going to win it because the dealer is house, and house rules say no one beats the house. The best you can hope for is something approaching a fairish deal, and you have to play it like Kasporov to get that.

But all of that is by the by, because I couldn't find a car I wanted anyway.

Oh sure, there were plenty of nice cars. Big ones, small ones, fat ones, thin ones... There were even some nice cars I could conceivably afford (using my own special definition of the word "afford"). But none of them sang out to me. Cars these days... you know what's wrong with them?


They're all wrong, these lines. The designers think they know what they're doing, but they don't. They can't, because the idea of "lines" was ditched in the 1970s (the last great age of classic Fords) and the bloodline was severed. In the 70s we had the Capri. We had the Mk III Cortina and the "real" Granada. (Actually the Cortina was already going to shit by then - just compare this 1976 Mk III with this this 1978 Mk IV.) But some time around then, tragically, the designer of your populist automobile decided that these beautiful lines (inspired by American dream machines of the 50s) were poncy and a bit feminine, and we should go back to the good old British utilitarian shape, whilst having a look at this new bubble culture coming out of Japan. Everything turned aerodynamic and efficient, and beauty was lost.

So I stood on the forecourt, tuning out the dealer's overly familiar tones in my right ear, mourning the betrayal of automitive beauty in the other, so to speak. Then I saw this (maybe not quite so good nick as that).

OK, OK, so I bought a Ford Mondeo. But do you not see it? Do you not see the line, the fusion of style and sex and everyman practicality? It's there, I tell you! What's that? It's not there? It's just another computer-designed step into a future bereft of heart, love, and passion? Ah, fuck it - she's better than that bloody Punto. And as they say round our way: "She don't half shift."

As an elegy to the lost line, I'll leave the last word to someone more qualified than I:

I climbed into the motor and bombed across town. I loved that car. Far back as I could recall, all I'd ever really wanted were a Ford Capri. There's summat about that long bonnet and low-slung chassis that makes angels sing in your ears. When I were a youngun I used to stop at every Capri I walked past and feel it all over, drawing grim looks off passing grannies and arsey shouts from Capri owners. I couldn't help it.

So as soon as I started earning - from robbing, mostly - I started saving up. By the time I were eighteen or so I had enough to get meself one. Only problem were that the standard of Capris on the market had dropped a bit by then. And it'd been dropping ever since, same as the standard of everything else. You only gets what you're offered. And if shite is all they offers, shite is what you gets. Still, my Capri were a good un. Best one in Mangel I reckoned. And long as I could keep her going alright I were happy.

And happy I were, as I overtook a bus and stuck him two fingers in the mirror.