Fifth news item

"You've Got to Sleep With Your Mum and Dad" is now available on Amazon. Childhood angst, marathon swimming, international exploitation and the threat of impending pinniped intimacy. on 2014-08-13
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Fourth news item

Have a look at my page on Amazon. Still plenty of summer left for challenging literature. on 2014-08-13
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Third news item

Check out my Amazon Kindle page. 'The Baby Who Killed People for Money' is now available. An utterly charming child with a unique and lucrative skill. A father with no defence against his daughter's impulses. Would you take your little girl around Europe for a spot of murder tourism? Of course you would. on 2014-06-30
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Second news item

My story on the Tate gallery website on 2013-11-11
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First news item

A Thousand Natural Shocks An anthology that includes two of my stories. Available now at Amazon. on 2013-11-11
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April 2014
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Archive for April 6th, 2014

Posted April 6, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized

In the late 1970s, I was seventeen and short of money. My mate had a brother who lived in Swan Hill, in the riverland district of Victoria. He suggested that we try making some money picking fruit for the summer. We lived in a caravan and got up early enough to start work at sunrise. I remember packing the trailer on Christmas morning and driving past the farmer’s house bellowing out ‘Silent Night’ at 5am. It was kind of nice being the local colour. People passing by would stop their cars and take photos of we charming rustic locals.

One morning, the cocky arrived early to give us our jobs. He turned to me and said, “Adam, you take Ann and Jean out to the plum orchard. You can drive a tractor, can’t you?”

“No.” I didn’t even have a car licence then.

“OK.” He led me over to the tractor. It was a little grey Ferguson from the early 1950s. “Here’s the clutch. This is the left wheel brake. This is the right one.” He jumped into his ute and disappeared.

Ann and Jean got up onto the trailer and looked distrustfully at me. I got the tractor moving and onto the road. We arrived in the orchard without mishap. We started picking. It was a lovely peaceful morning, sunny and full of birdsong. The sprinklers were chuffing away at the other side of the orchard, keeping the air cool and dust-free. Soon it was time to reposition the tractor. For this, I needed to turn sharply to get into the next row. To my surprise, the wheel brakes worked perfectly. We pivoted on the left wheel and turned cleanly into the row. I was so surprised that it had worked that I left the brake on and cannoned into a plum tree. I picked up the fallen plums, hid the ruined branches and kept picking.

Towards lunch time, we were making good progress. I moved the tractor up to where the sprinklers had been working in the morning and hopped down. I sank up to the calves in mud. The irrigation ditches were overflowing. Oh dear. Ann and Jean would not like this. I decided to move the tractor back to dry ground. I started it up, ground it into gear and went nowhere. The poor old Ferguson didn’t have enough power to spin its wheels. It just grumbled and sank.

Eventually I decided that I would have to go for help. The farmer didn’t say anything. He just told picked up a couple of lengths of solid chain and told me to hop up on the Ford tractor. He then drove to the plum orchard. Ann and Jean had filled the boxes and had nothing to do. There is nothing a fruit cocky hates to see as much as pickers standing idle. He hitched up the Ford to the bogged Ferguson with a chain and began to pull. There was a snap and the Ford lurched backwards. The chain had broken.

The next chain managed the job. Before the farmer drove away, he said, “Don’t drive in the irrigated bit.”

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Posted April 6, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized

My girlfriend was having a year in Rio de Janeiro as an exchange student. I decided to visit her. One of the first things we did was go to Ipanema. We were lying on the beach, engrossed in each other when I saw something move in my peripheral vision. My girlfriend’s bag was steadily moving away. I yelled and a kid released his grip and ran away.

I thought nothing more about I until he came back with a bunch of his friends. They stood a safe distance away, laughing in a good-natured fashion. We smiled at them and waited for them to get tired of us and go away. They didn’t. They started throwing stuff. Just screwed up pieces of paper. Then tin cans. Suddenly it seemed a bit threatening. What had just seemed like a few amusing kids was now a gang of predatory teenagers.

We decided to take the hint and go. We aimed situation-defusing smiles at the boys and left the area. They followed us. I stopped. They stopped and backed off a bit. They closed in when we started moving again. When I looked back, they were closer. They were throwing anything they could find at us. There was a lot of litter on the beach. One of them was armed with a bent bicycle pump. Not a very threatening item normally but it looked sinister in this context. I could see another filling a Coke can with sand. We accelerated.

I turned to look again. I saw the lad with the can launch it. It flew in an arc and hit my girlfriend in the middle of the back. I saw her back arch and she cried out. That was enough. I yelled and wheeled back. The teenagers scattered. I had my eye on the can-thrower. He was laughing. I caught him within a few steps and kicked his feet out from under him. He sneered up at me. I had punched him in the head before I realised it. As my fist landed, I saw that he had lowered his head so I was hitting that thickest part at the front of the skull. The part a striker uses to head a ball.

The lad dissolved from murderous hoodlum to sobbing youth. He lay on the sand wailing and blubbering. Maybe I could have handled this better. I looked back to my girlfriend. She was standing where I had left her, looking vulnerable. I ran back to her and we got out of there.

It was only later in a café that I realised that my hand was hurting. I looked at it. It was an odd shape. The knuckle between the metacarpal and the first phalange of my index finger seemed to be thickened. It was domed like an elephant’s head. And it hurt quite a lot.

Over the next few days, the hand swelled and took on a shiny, pink appearance. I ignored it. In this whole year, I had only one week with my girlfriend. I wasn’t going to interrupt a short, wonderful time in such a fabulous city for something unimportant that happened on the first day.

When I got back to Istanbul, it began to look serious. The swelling went down, revealing that something was broken. Apparently, I had a boxer fracture. I had broken the metacarpal and the front part had ridden up over the rest of the hand, causing that elephant head appearance. I went to a doctor. He tried to wrestle the bone parts back into place. Not onl did this hurt a lot but it didn’t work because the parts of bone had begun to fuse into their new positions.

The hospital specified in my health insurance had a world-class hand team. I hadn’t known that there were such things as hand teams. They seemed delighted to be doing my hand. They did a lovely job that involved inserting rods into the bones. I could show people one of the rods moving in and out of my hand as I clenched my fist. The doctors in the hand team were less delighted when I came back a couple of weeks later, having been bitten on the hand by a dog in Fethiye at the Hippy Festival. Infection set in and made their excellent reconstruction work look a little shoddy.

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