Monday, February 20, 2006

Flash the Trash

I was looking at Duane Swierczynski's site (I can now spell that without the use of copy and paste, don't you know), just being nosy. And he was talking about a flash story he had up on another site, which I went and enjoyed the hell out of. Now, it just so happens that I wrote a couple of flash stories the other day, limiting myself to 300 or so words. One is for a forthcoming anthology (details coming), and the other (my wife says the better one) is now up on my man Tribe's Flashing In the Gutter site.

Check out my story BROKEN GLASS. It's true, you know. Check out Duane's. Checkout Pat's, Iain's, and everyone's stories. The beauty of these little buggers, see, is that they only take a minute or so to read.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Every Little Hurts

Tescos has been bothering me for quite some time, and I don't know how to stop it. They open all night (or at least until late) so how does a small business compete? The chain quietly spreads it's reach from place to place, setting up camp on the edge of town like a smiley happy alien mothership. Are they friend or foe? Look how cheap they are! And the variety! They must be friend. And now I've got my Tesco club card so I HAVE to shop there every time.

As I say, I don't like it but I don't know how to stop it. Until now. Meet the resistance. And read about them.

(You're right - I'm going all vaguely political this week. I'm sure it's just a phase.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fags no longer

First off, I do not smoke. I used to smoke. I used to buy a packet of 25 Royals in the morning and try to make it last. I started when I was about 13, buying single bennies at the very dodgy cornershop "Lannies" at the top of Sansome Walk. I'd steal them off any grown up smoker visiting the house. On Saturdays we'd go into town and to hang out and get up to no good - the highlight being every time I opened my pack of 10 Number Ones. But now I don't smoke. (Just a cigar now and then.)

However, I don't tell anyone else to not smoke. To tell them to refrain from their habit, however injurious to their health that habit might seem, would be the act of a wanker. A tosser. I protect every man and woman's right to smoke. You want a fag? Have one. Read what it says on the pack, look at how your grandad died, and then go ahead. You want to smoke in a pub? Great! I'd rather drink in a pub full of secondary smoke than bad breath. What? You want to ban smoking?

You want to make it ILLEGAL to puff in a pub, restaurant, or club?

Let's have a look at nightclubs. Who goes to clubs? Young people. Or old people who don't know they're old. Both groups know what they're getting when they go to a club. In most cases, a three-hour dance workout is not the main draw. They're after inebriation, sex, fighting, class A drugs, and staying out late. These guys, what they are not interested in is perfect health. Someone goes into a club and complains about the smoke, what do you do? You laugh, that's what. You piss in their drink when they ain't looking.

You want to make smoking ILLEGAL?

(Hey, I was kidding about the pissing in the pint. Someone did that to me once, and... Well, no, that's not how it happened. I was "mine-sweeping", which entails staking out an unattended pint of beer in a club and then stealing it. Someone cottoned on to what we were doing. Bastard.)

Let me just say, to all those who point up the health risks of passive smoking: Have you looked at the other risks around you? You say your right to inhale clean air is violated because you walk into a place and I'm sitting there, smoking? I say my right to inhale clean air is violated immeasurably more by you driving your car.

Leave smokers alone.

Ban cars.

We all die. Smoking is bad for our health. Living is bad for our health. We live in an increasingly shitty and unhealthy world, and banning punters from the bad habit they love best is not going to make one tin shit of a difference to that. You want to make a difference, you benevolent members of parliament who made this wonderful decision on my behalf? You really want to make things better? Stop destroying education. Get rid of the stupid fucking national curriculum. Let teachers do their job. If a school is doing bad, help that school. But don't ruin the ones that are doing OK.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Former Informer

I don't know if anyone noticed, but the Mangel Informer website ( is no more. I don't know when it disappeared. They asked me to renew the domain but I didn't bother. Why should I pay for something I already own? Stupid bloody rules. People just trying to skim a buck everywhere you turn, bla bla...

Anyway, that's not the real reason I didn't renew. I truth, I think it was a failed experiment. Although it got a bit of initial attention because it was a fairly original idea, I'll have to agree that my web skills are just too crap to pull it off probably. So, really, it wasn't worth the effort. Faced with the prospect of updating it for KING OF THE ROAD, I just couldn't do it. I've got no time. The walls are closing in on me. Help.

However, I plan to ressurect Keith and Danny at some point... maybe via their FrotSoft business venture, maybe not.

Monday, February 13, 2006

High on crack, totin' a machine gun

Nice little review of KING OF THE ROAD from Marcel Berlins in The Times this weekend (which includes the snippet):

Royston Blake is a boastful, aggressive, foul-mouthed, psychopathic hard-man of the utmost political incorrectness, a failure at everything he does but an indomitable believer in his own cleverness and sex appeal. He's also a careless multiple killer (though insistent that it was never his fault). In short, a thoroughly unpleasant and dislikeable character.

Why, then - this is a great mystery - is it so enjoyable to read about him?

Why do people say such mean things about Blakey? I honestly do not know. However, if you're like me and you come from the hopelessly obscure world of the horror small press, coverage like that is pure gold dust. Thank you Mr Berlins.

Friday, February 10, 2006

War Beer

Kane on the left, Williams on the right. Click for the full glory
The launch for KING OF THE ROAD was pretty good last night. As book launches went it was probably not in the "legendary" bracket. If Chuck Palahniuk or Ian Rankin had a book launch, it would not be like this. They would have adoring fans and celebrity guests and queues around the block. And champagne and balloons. And cocaine and high class hookers. And an after-launch party at The Ivy, or something. But hey, they're them and I'm me. We didn't have the hookers and coke but we had wine and little crunchy things, which could conceivably have been heavily disguised rocks of crack if you were tripping hard and deep into the realms of psychosis. No A-listers attended but Steve Kane turned up, who is quite well known in the Bishop's Stortford area, I gather. And who needs The Ivy when you've got The King's Head, with it's wide range of peanuts and crisps and its "war beer", as it was known?

Many thanks to Ben and Maz and Sarah and everyone else at Ottakars. Anyone in Worcester, go an buy a book from them! (KING OF THE ROAD is up there in the "crime" section, by the way. Ahem.) And thanks to everyone who came, if you should by chance find your way to this here blog. And Steve, I've forgotten what that record was called.

(Note to self: if you find that most of your audience consists of women from the local book club, try to choose a passage to read that features slightly fewer swear words and crude sexual references. Just a thought.)

Next event: Left Coast Crime. I'm doing a couple of potentially momentous panels there which I'll blog about shortly.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Hi. This is The Hoff, and my pet eagle, guest-blogging for Charlie Williams. As you all know, today is the day. KING OF THE ROAD hits the streets. In Malibu, everyone knows that I'm king of the road, but in Mangel it's Royston Blake, and this final book in the Mangel trilogy picks up the story as he leaves mental hospital. We all get a bit mentally fragile sometimes, so let's try not to judge Royston too much. Actually that's not true - YOU all get mentally fragile sometimes, but the Hoff does not. The Hoff is different. Just look at my career... Night Rider - no one thought I'd work again after that came off the air. Baywatch - again, I single handedly resurrected myself as an icon for the new millenium in the light of that show's demise. Communism - everyone knows how I dismantled that unjust regime in East Germany and imposed Western Democracy, Hoff-style.

Anyway, KING OF THE ROAD is launched today. Here's a picture I took of Ottakar's in Worcester, a great book store which will be hosting the "launch" this thursday. I'll try to make it but I can't promise anything. The Hoff promises nothing.

Also listen out for Charlie on the airwaves later today, when he undergoes a top celebrity interview at 2:30 pm on BBC Hereford & Worcester - a great local radio station. But come on, are you really going to go to all that trouble? Why not just kick back and relax with this great video of my classic hit HOOKED ON A FEELING?

Monday, February 06, 2006

One day I'll fly away

I went around Worcester last night, looking for places to post flyers (see previous post). This town has changed so much since I grew up here. Gentrification - I hate that word. It's not a proper word, and I hate using it. It sounds like shit, looks bad, and means something pretty awful. It makes you think of "gentry" - posh folks straight out of Jane Austen going around in their horse and carts, saying "I say, Marmaduke, did you see how that fellow wore his cravate? Shocking. Quite shocking..." But what the heinous word really means is "out scum". It means "we value our property prices and our urban ambience conducive to retail consumerism". It means "money".

The other thing it means is that there is nowhere left where you can post a flyer and hope for it to stay there for more than an hour or two. Where are all the boarded-up windows? When I were a lad, as well as sliced loaves of brown bread with bits of gravel in, we had boarded-up orifices all over town, where people put up adverts for gigs, boxing shows, riots etc. It may have ben scruffy but it gave you a window to a more textured underworld to the city. It showed you that not everyone was buttoned up and repressed or just pissed and lairy all the time.

I wanted to add my little flyer to that unpoliced wall of noise.

Anyway, I didn't find it. All I found was "this area is surveyed by CCTV" and "if you post your fucking flyers here, we'll take you to court and financially ruin you". I searched in vain for signs of life - anything that was going on beneath the surface. Nothing. A complete whitewash. This is a pretty town. This is a clean town. This is a mainstream town. This is a town where, if you want to tell the public something, you pay ten grand for a billboard.

So I put up a few flyers here and there. I don't expect them to survive until the morning. Then I drove over to the university and dumped the flyers by the SU notice board. Will anyone give a shit? Who knows? Gotta try.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

King of the flyers

Update to nothing

I am still here. Just letting you know. Nothing blogworthy going on around these parts. Actually plenty of blogworthy stuff, but I'm not blogging it. Maybe if I was a better blogger I would, but I'm not. Ah, if you only knew.

Hey, anyone thinking of coming to the launch of KING OF THE ROAD in Worcester next week, but is shilly-shallying because they think it might all be a big hoax, you should check here (and scroll down a wee bit) for proof. Also notice the strange KING OF THE ROAD cover art here, which is nothing like the real thing. And while you're at it (and in the unlikely event that you haven't already), check out the cover of Raymondo Beyondo's upcoming novel, SPANK MY ASS.