Stig of the Dump and Queen of the Night

30 09 2007

So I’m back from Staffordshire.

I didn’t get to Lichfield in the end, after a six hour journey through some of the worst traffic known to man we just about had enough energy to drag ourselves to a guest house in Stafford and then to the curry house before flumping into bed.

The next day I had planned to spend some time writing but somewhere along the line instructions had been issued and we had to be at the hamlet that was hosting the wedding by 1. At the point we got there L’s partner M and myself were pretty much surplus to requirements and so there was a lot of standing around looking like security.

The wedding had a fantastic amount of effort and attention to detail put into it. The Bride and Groom seemed to have a good time before leaving at speed on a tandem bicycle…it was an interesting event not least because the Vicar appeared to be Hugh Dennis and the MC Michael Rapaport.

G as ever cut a gorgeous figure in a purple silk dress and I did my usual job of looking completely scruffy in spite of the suit. The subject line pretty much sums up our look.

Today we took a leisurely trip back to London stopping for G to take some photos of a power station that loomed – Isengard like – over the horizon belching a huge column of grey smoke into the air. Then, unable to resist it, we stopped in Wall.

Yes Ladies and Gents I have been to Wall.

It was this tiny village/hamlet just outside Lichfield that has a lovely church atop a hill complete with Victorian graveyard and then at the base of the hill a small Roman ruin where G ran amok once more with the camera. I tried to look cool in the shots she took of me but mostly I think I look constipated.

And now we’re back. Apparently I should be raring to go after a weekend in the country but I must confess I’m shattered. Still, I’m sure all that country air will kick in any second now.

I’ll just have a lie down until it does…


29 09 2007

I’m convinced it is pretty much possible to link any post on any subject back to Neil Gaiman. This post was not meant to have anything to do with him whatsoever and was meant to be about the place I’m visiting right now.

Not sure where I’m going with this? Stick with me, we’ll get there in the end.

I’m in Lichfield (in Staffordshire) for G’s friend A’s wedding. Lichfield has had people settled in the region since the Romans roamed the British Isles and features in the Welsh poem The Lament of Cynddylan where its capture by pagans is recorded.

The Romano-British settlement in Lichfield was around three miles from the centre of town where a village called Wall now sits. That’s right, there really is a small village in the English countryside called Wall and it’s not just somewhere Neil G made up for Stardust.

Anyway, the pictures of the place look fantastic, I’m hoping to have a poke around the cathedral which looks like it’s got some interesting features and there appears to be a Tudor building that’s been there since 1510.

Also Samuel Johnson was born there.

And of course it will be great to see A and L. I may even write. That’s all for now.

Good Luck S

29 09 2007

Today I am demonstrating the power of the mind and blogging by telepathy from Staffordshire.

Not really, I am writing/wrote this yesterday in order to provide you with content whilst I am bereft of an Internet connection for the weekend.

Anyway this is a short one to say Good Luck to S who is on her way to university today and making me feel very old to boot. Have fun and enjoy it. I’m really jealous – I’d love to go back to uni.

Friday Flash Fiction

28 09 2007

This post has moved. You can read the story here:

I wanted to do something with voice this week after reading some ace pieces by fellow Friday Flash Fictioneers Shaun C Green and Paul Raven at the same time as reading some very cool stuff by Ramsey Campbell, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke. As with all these things the results are not quite what I would have liked but I hope enough to entertain for a short while and perhaps raise a wry smile in places.

When I was bad
By Neil Beynon

On Saturday I went to the end of the garden because my mum was baking and she said that I was in the way and she didn’t want to listen to any of my nonsense and I should go play on my own or go and bother the fairies cuss I was away with them half the time anyway. I wanted to go call for Jess but I wasn’t allowed to as I’m not allowed to go further than the end of the road and mum was baking and Dad was on deadline, Dad is grumpy when he is on deadline and you have to go really quietly like this.

The sun was very high in the sky when I went into the garden and I didn’t have a hat on but I didn’t burn because my mum says I have olive skin but olives are green and my skin is goldeny brown. I forgot my shoes but I like the grass tickling my feet and making mud prints on the kitchen floor and this one time my Dad took me to the beach and he showed me the mud prints of people who’d lived like a gazillion years ago. It was cool.

This post has moved. You can read the story here:

Happy Birthday Bro

27 09 2007

Today is my brother’s birthday.

It is twenty-seven years since he bounded onto the scene and it’s fair to say that life has never been quite the same since…in a good way obviously.

Whether it’s the two of us attempting to walk back home from East Africa, cracking up as we farted through floor boards (yes we are the height of culture) or terrorising our sisters where the Beynon brothers were/are chaos was/is never far away.

As we’re both in our own places on opposite sides of the UK – maximising the Beynon related chaos – I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like and in fact today I am no where near him. So:

Happy Birthday Matey. Don’t drink all the beer.

Neil Gaiman Interview

27 09 2007

There’s a good Neil Gaiman interview over at The Guardian. For those who are interested.

I reckon there’ll be a lot more of these in the run up to the release of Stardust in the UK but I quite liked this one so I thought I’d share.

Cobalt Apes

26 09 2007

Ok just checked out my sources and found that Ape will be playing a gig on October 21st at:

21 Oct 2007, 19:15
289 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7JR

A fun way to spend a Sunday and will feature art from my friend Z.

Susanna Clarke PT 2

25 09 2007

I’m back in the house now after quite an unsuccessful attempt to liveblog; it did turn out in the end that the event was a phone no go zone which I was, truth be told, expecting.

I think I knew it was going to be an interesting evening when I, smelling of wet velvet courtesy of a downpour on route, entered the theatre bar to the strangest gathering of different people I’ve ever seen in one place. And I often drink in Camden so that’s no small feat.

The discussion began with Neil looking far more chirpy than I would have thought possible given he was in Japan only a few days ago and Susanna looking well (a relief given that she has been unwell). We were however advised that she wouldn’t be signing due to her health which although a shame everyone was very understanding about. In fact the biggest take away for me (a phrase I hate and cannot believe I just used) was how understanding and nice all the fans were all evening.

A short to and fro about the origins of the title of Susanna’s collection “The Ladies of Grace Adieu” was followed by Susanna reading the from “Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower”. Susanna reads very well and had the audience caught up in it when the mic cut out.

A fire alarm would you believe it. G believes it was my fault for sitting in seat thirteen.

Anyway we all had to go outside whilst some nice chaps from the local fire brigade checked every single room in the building. Again everyone was very understanding about it all and to be honest the biggest concern seemed to be whether it was wise to have Susanna stood out in the cold for so long given she was unwell.

On our return we resumed the reading although to be fair it was a bit of an ask to pick up half way through. The conversation resumed with a discussion of how Susanna became a short story writer, touched on the strong female voice within the collection and then moved to questions.

The questions were interesting and covered a range of topics from paintings that influenced her to Strange and Norrell as a comic to reference books on Fairy and the slightly odd picture of Neil Gaiman fighting Bill Gibson.

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening even with the interlude in the cold.

Here is a picture of a fire engine. Why? Just because. Oh and Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke are stood just behind it. Honest.

Fire engine

Susanna Clarke

25 09 2007

Ok. At the theatre a bit early. Handset playing up so bear with me. Tickets just going out.


No phones allowed so this is it until i get in. Sorry. Really must go-being glared at.


Well i’m out now. Still in central london. The evening was not without mishap: a fire alarm nearly ended the whle thing. Anyway more later…

Basking in the warmth

24 09 2007

I realise I promised not to talk about the house anymore but I have finally got heating!

Yes if my life gets anymore exciting I may pass out.

– It’s taken eight days (it’s meant to take five tops).
– We’ve gone through two boilers, two fans and two gas meters
– We’ve had a gas leak
– We’ve had cracked drains (they’re still cracked in fact but being fixed in a week)

Anyhow, today they finished and just in time as we’ve been lashed by icey winds since we got back yesterday – the hill on which my house is located is a bit of wind trap. But I’m toasty warm.

On the subject of things not going to plan and possibly the weakest segue in existence…

It’s only twenty-four hours until the Susanna Clarke event tomorrow, I’ve not had much luck getting hold of anyone at Bloomsbury to obtain permission to live blog so the plan is as follows:

– Assuming there are no notices around recording the event, copyright notices etc, I will liveblog – handset permitting – the Q and A but NOT any readings (The Ladies of Grace Adieu: And Other Stories is my favourite collection this year and I humbly suggest you all buy it)
– If there are copyright notices I will post my thoughts on the evening when I get back to the house.

Of course it’s highly likely my thoughts will consist of oh-my-god-it’s-susanna-clarke-and-neil-gaiman followed by don’t-do-anything-stupid, don’t-do-anything-stupid.

But there we go.