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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January 2021
« Jul    

It started as a weekend cross-channel ferry trip. I knew people in Portsmouth working for a multinational corporation. This meant a group of people from a lot of places eager to see what was close to Portsmouth. The overnight ferry to Cherbourg stood out as an obvious choice.

When the two carloads met in the ferry carpark, two things stood out. Firstly, one of the Germans was dressed in a white naval uniform. Secondly, the back of his car was filled with an inflatable boat. After the usual night crossing in which the alcohol was consumed and the crew had to tell our German friend to stop giving the other passengers directions, we arrived in France and began to eat. Mussel bars, patisseries and Farmers’ Markets.

The German and me scouting out boats for our expedition.

The German and me scouting out boats for our expedition.

Towards the afternoon, we arrived at that witch’s hat in the sea, Mont St Michel. We walked around and took pictures, then left before the causeway was flooded. That night we were sitting around in a prefabricated F1 hotel in Avranches. The German came up with the suggestion of taking his boat around Mont St Michel. Who was going to come with him? There was a silence. Eventually, the lone Frenchman decided that he should stand up for Gallic honour and said that he would go if the German did. I said I would go along because it seemed like the sort of thing that I did.

We drove there, finding to our surprise that the causeway was dry. It was cold. A chilly wind scoured the coast and made us all think. However, the German was made of stern stuff. He connected the car exhaust to some device that filled the boat with fairly horrible air. He clicked the metal bits of oar together and rubbed his hands together. At this point, the Frenchman decided that honour mattered less than life. He wasn’t going.

This is the dry bit.

This is the dry bit.

I was. At this stage, I wasn’t backing out. Even the German was beginning to have doubts. When we dragged the boat to the sea, the sea wasn’t there. It was just mud. The German and I looked at each other and shrugged. The Frenchman put on a thicker jacket, waved and sniggered. We squelched out to a puddle and made the boat float.

A crowd had gathered by now. Most of them had beer. Some had folding chairs and an expectation of disaster. The Frenchman began to look around. The German and I dragged the boat across a mudbank and floated it in the next puddle. We sat on the inflated sides and panted. The enormity of Mont St Michel stretched out into the night.

We had started so we had to keep going. I had the idea of taking the boat further from the land. Logically, this meant deeper water. I had had more to drink than the others because I wasn’t driving. We sloshed off into the darkness. After a while, the sounds of jeering from the carpark spectators receded. All we could hear was our panting. The cold didn’t worry us any more. We were keeping warm enough with the effort of dragging that bag of wind around. At this point, things got easier when we were joined by the Frenchman. Apparently with us gone, the carpark lot had given him such a hard time that it was easier to push the boat around the castle at midnight. 1a.m. by now.

We eventually got to water in which the vessel could travel. We began moving back towards the walls of the island. It seemed to be getting deeper. The German recalled that the tide was reputed to come in at ‘the speed of a racehorse’ with a consequent year-on-year mortality rate. We listened for splashing or roaring. All we heard was a few late-night revellers on the walls far above us.

We reached the halfway point. That meant that we had either done it or disaster was about to strike. The water was deep and calm. We paddled onwards, some dignity now in our mission as we could use the boat as a boat. We realised that the incoming tide might possibly drive us into shore so we headed a bit further out to sea and struck mud.

We couldn’t see a thing so we kept going. Looking at Google Earth later, we saw that the navigable channel curved around close to the island. What we did was struggle 150 metres over a stinking mud flat until we reached another channel.

At this point, we reached lovely, deep, supporting water. The boat became a vehicle rather than a burden. We got in. We paddled to keep the thing going in the right direction. Propulsion was done by the tide. We surged along on an incoming current. We were looking forward to the adulation of the carpark crowd. They had gone home.

The problem of making no effort to propel the boat was that we got cold again. Stepping into the water to pull the boat back onto shore was not pleasant. By the time we reached the car, I couldn’t feel my hands. The exercise of deflating the boat, folding it and stuffing it back into the car in some semblance of order was the worst part of the whole night.

When I got back to the hotel, my girlfriend was fast asleep. I woke her up and we had this conversation.

“Did you do it?”


“Eurgghh. Have a shower.”

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