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butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
23 September 2009 @ 06:29 pm
A curious thing. I had a letter from some foggy entity called the British Fantasy Society to say I was short-listed for an award for my book Memoirs Of A Master Forger. The ceremony was scheduled this last weekend at what passes for a hotel in the hell-hole known as Nottingham, which is less a city than a series of cavities in the earth. Well I don’t like the spotlight at the best of times and I certainly wasn’t going to this grubby little fissure-in-the-rock populated by troglodytes just to be disappointed when the award is given to some tome about a damned magic sword stamped out by a goofy autistic teenager. So I asked my Creative Writing tutor – himself a troglodyte of this or some nearby wind-blasted death colony - to stand in for me in case it won. I penned him a short speech thanking my grandmother’s corsets and all that to be read out in the unlikely event.

Anyway, the Saturday came round and I started tipping back the rubicund relief and rescue, and then after a while began to regret not going along to what might be my only moment of literary glory. An hour later I somehow found myself on a train hurtling to the blighted North Midlands, but I fell asleep and missed my stop. I had to get off in the horrible orc-settlement of Sheffield. Really there were animal like howls going on outside the station, followed by unpleasant industrial-scale gurgles. I’ve no idea.

By the time I got back to Nottingham I thought I’d missed the awards altogether, but I finally stumbled in to the ghastly low-rent venue hosting the “festivities” to find a banqueting room packed with odd-looking types. Who should be on the stage posturing and pontificating into a microphone but my Creative Writing tutor. He seemed to be in the middle of some acceptance speech but it was certainly not the words I had penned for him. I felt dizzy and disoriented. I almost had the impression he was claiming the award for himself. I asked someone what was going on, only to be shushed by a female the size of grain-silo.

A few moments later and to my utter astonishment he was then invited to join the award winners as they gurned and struck attitudes for the melee of assembled photographers, cameras flashing and whirring. I began to feel most unwell. Later I approached him to find out what the hell was going on, but he saw me coming and marched off to the bar surrounded by an ugly posse of lithe young men and one or two rather unsavoury looking women. Someone pointed at me and made an obscure remark. I staggered out of the hotel with the sound of oafish laughter ringing in my ears. I felt so disoriented I hurried back to the train station and caught the first available train south. I’m going to have to get to the bottom of this, but I never want to have to go to a British Fantasy Convention again.
Current Mood: distresseddistressed
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
13 March 2009 @ 04:26 pm
And another thing. There have been some funny clicks on my line lately. This is either the workings of my Creative Writing tutor (unlikely but possible) or the Government (much more likely) who haven't taken kindly to my story attacking their adventures in Iraq. I'm going to have to open that second bottle.
Current Mood: worriedworried
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
13 March 2009 @ 04:19 pm
I'm a little bit worried. My Creative Writing tutor is going around saying that I stole his ideas for my book. This is absurd. After all, he's marked my work; I don't mark his, and I've never seen any of his unpublished work. What's more his published work is practically illiterate. And I wouldn't be seen dead in the trousers he wears.
I'm going to drink a bottle of Château La Croix St-Michel 2001 Montagne Saint Emilion which I got £16 for a brace and think about this.
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
07 November 2008 @ 11:59 am
Well the book is out. Memoirs Of A Master Forger from Gollancz, and rather handsome it looks. I celebrated with a very fine bottle of 2004 Clos des Ruchottes Domaine Armand Rousseau. It’s a Pinot Noir which is the first grape I mention in the book, and perhaps my favourite, or it is at this standard: I had to pay £70 but it was worth it.

I had thought that authors get spectacular book launches when a new novel came out. You know: lavish events in art galleries where all the women wear sexy little black dresses and the men go home with each other. But when I asked my editor about a book launch he laughed merrily. ‘Book launch? This is why I like you William, you’re so sweet,’ he said. Then I asked about a book tour and he just laughed louder and bought another bottle of wine. I didn’t like to say anything. But it’s not like it is in the movies, and that’s why I celebrated publication with the above, in the bath, alone.

My editor called and said the book had gone into reprint in the second week. I had to ask what that meant. ‘It’s good,’ he said. So I bought a second bottle of same. I mean, if there had been a launch and a book tour etc I would have had to shell out for some new threads and so on. There. Justified.

I asked my Creative Writing tutor if he’d read it yet. The lout scowled at me and mutered something about waiting for it to appear in the Remainder shops. Can you believe this man? Anyway when I told him it had gone to reprint he looked like he wanted to knock me to the floor. I’d better watch my step or I won’t get my MA..

H from my writing class is looking at me with gooey eyes since I got published. I think I was quite low on her list until I revealed that Memoirs Of A Master Forger had been published. The thing is that getting a place on the course and getting the publishing contract came at the same time, so I’d kept it quiet. I’d submitted a chapter in the workshop and H said she couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Now she keeps inviting me to her house to “advise her on her manuscript”. Well I’ve no intention of being victim number four on the course. Or five if you believe what B has to say about her.

The reviews are very good. Except for one twit who claims that the title is misleading, since the main character is not a forger. Of course he is. He’s forged his own life that’s the bloody point. I’d like to go the twit’s house and explain what a metaphor is, but my editor said that writers don’t do that sort of thing. He said that Jennette Winterson once doorstepped a bad reviewer and went overnight from being everyone’s favourite clever lesbian to being an angry-psycho-ginger-pariah-with-bulging-eyes reduced to writing retread science-fiction for children. So I’d better not. Even though I’m already something like that to start with.
Current Mood: contentcontent
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
02 October 2008 @ 02:17 pm
I attended some foggy event a week or two back called the British Fantasy Convention, held in Nottingham. The first thing I was confronted with was a buxom female in fishnets and corset. I thought I'd made a terrible mistake and that it was the British Fancydress Convention. But no, it was a literary event after all. Of a kind. The first spectacle I observed was that of my creative writing teacher appearing on a panel and talking impenetrable rubbish. He was actually shouting at a fellow panelist half his size, about what no-one in the audience seemed to have any idea. I'm sure he was just furious that the other bloke sold more books than he did. The other chap had made a trilogy stretch to eight books, which I think is very clever.
I left before the end and made for the bar. Though I might not have bothered. I asked the barman what fine red wine he'd got in store, whereupon he angled at me the label of a single bottle. The label actually stated "Red Wine". No information about grape, country of origin etc. Astonished, I asked to see the White Wine list. Another bottle, labeled "White Wine" was gamely presented under my perplexed beak. That's it I though, we're in Viz country, where all the cigarettes will be labeled Fags. Is this how they live in the Midlands? Is it the local tribal way of uncomplicating life? Anyway I bought a glass of the "red". I don't know what it was but you wouldn't even gargle with the stuff. I had to go and find a an off-license and smuggle in a decent bottle of Claret.
Everywhere I looked my CW teacher was going ha-hah he-heh with his hideous cronies. Never once introduced me to any of them, the bastard. Though I did get to meet Conrad Williams, Tim Lebbon and the charming Sara Pinborough (whom I thought twinkled at me), all published writers and a damned sight better than that buffoon who purports to teach me the art of scribbling. At least they had the courtesy to ask me what I was working on, which is more than he ever does. I got a bit worried when one of them said it sounds rather like something they'd already heard. I went pale when my CW teacher's name was mentioned, and then they all went quiet. I hope he hasn't stolen my novel so that he can pass it off as his own. I certainly wouldn't put it past him, the uncivilised brute. I need to look into this.
Current Location: supine
Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: bach
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
10 June 2008 @ 09:15 am
I went to the Hay-on-Wye festival, seeking for inspiration so that I might write about something other than wine. Before leaving I asked my creative writing tutor if he was going to be there. 'Why not?' I asked when he replied in the negative. 'Because I've never been fucking well invited,' he roared at me. As far as I can tell with this writing game there is a thin strata of eloquent and precious celebrity writers whose main job it is to perform at festivals and go abroad on British Council sponsored junkets; then there's the dense mass of writers you've never heard of who look like and talk like cleaning ladies and plumbers when you meet them in the flesh. I suggested this to my CW tutor and he turned on me a very poisonous look. 'Your assignment is overdue,' he bellowed at me.
I had the foresight to take my wellies. It was like Glastonbury but without the drugs, tongue-piercings and low IQs. I just about stopped myself yawning through Ian MacEwan and half way through Martin Amis I had to massage my jaw, so hard had I been gritting my teeth. Amis always looks like his audience is a nasty smell under his nose, and his face is collapsing in on itself into a perpetual sneer. Catherine Tate was good, talking about Shakespeare and John Irvine was worth going to. The wine situation wasn't great, and you needed something good to plug the smell of pigshit rising from the roiling mud between the tents. I might offer my services as a wine buyer for them next year. I could match up a wine with an author. Hmmm there's an idea. Amis would be a Sauvignon Blanc in that he's crisp, acid and dry but doesn't at all improve with aging: yes, from the Loire, aggressively grassy but with a gooseberry charge to it. You get the idea. But I'm bored with this game already.
I've been emailed by someone who is interested in the demons I refer to occasionally. Did I think Any Winehouse is troubled by a demon. You could say that, madam. And if you have the talent to look next time you see her on TV you'll see at least three, possibly four, though the last one could have been a shadow from the stage lights. I'm not that interested in her, frankly.
Current Location: garden
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: kate rusby
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
12 May 2008 @ 03:58 pm
All those publicity shots of Prince Harry in Afghanistan: Harry on patrol, Harry on radio ops, Harry crouched over a machine gun and all the rest. You'd think some wide-awake PR man or one of the Palace flunkies who buttered his toast and pressed his combats while he was "fighting" in Afghanistan would have thought to have rubbed a little bit of red dust onto his uniform, or machine oil on his face wouldn't you? You know, to make it look like he was there for real. It reminds me of the Scorsese film The Last Temptation Of Christ where the director made his Roman legions rolls about in the dirt so they actually looked like soldiers. And to think that the props department had spent all morning polishing up those breastplates. This is what the Royal family need: continuity people. They've got no sense of narrative. 'I prefer being in Afghanistan,' Harry actually said to the massed ranks of photographers and TV film crews 'because it gets me away from the photographers back home'. Right.
The real soldiers won't be insulted by all of this. You know when you sign on that you're going to get all this garbage. All the real organisation and fighting is done by the NCOs. One thing the army does is make you toff-proof.
Creative writing: bugger it. Haven't done any in two weeks. I suppose I'm no more a writer than Harry is a soldier. Perhaps I should roll around on the carpet, splash some ink on my face.
Or just drink this (white and chilled because of the weather): a really good Chablis. Now I could easily recommend you a Les Preuses Grand Cru or something like it at twenty quid plus per bottle. But Domaine Louis Moreau 2006 will be nearer half that price and when I tell you this is bone-dry and has a lovely flinty property it will settle all you anti-Chardonnay brigade (of which I am one)to make you think that lower price Chablis really can recover its reputation. Summer's here. You bloody well need it if you're going to roll around in the dust
Current Location: kitchen
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: Kate Rusby
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
22 April 2008 @ 05:53 pm
Chris de Burgh is to vist Iran to give a concert. The phrase "cognitive dissonance" was invented for just such a thought.
Current Location: on the roof
Current Mood: indescribable
Current Music: tonto's expanding headband
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
15 April 2008 @ 06:44 pm
Can you believe that little shit Prince William? Blagged a Chinook helicopter to fly him and his brother - whatsisname, rat-a-tat-ginger - to a stag do on the Isle Of Wight!! Now the RAF have come up with the hilarious explanation that it was all part his flight training. Yes and when whatsisname - harry - wore the nazi insignia that was part of his covert operations training. This is why we have a royal family so that we can keep saying: you couldn't make it up. Father, where are the keys for the dashed Chinook? I need wine. It's part of my training to get so sloshed I happily aquiesce to the notion that we need a royal family. Therefore today's grape, and you'll need lots of it: Brampton Shiraz 2004 Coastal Region, sweet dark fruits on the nose. Quite savoury, bit of tanin. As balanced a wine as you'll get anywhere for nine quid. You'll get quite a few cases in a Chinook. Wonder whose garden it was they landed on?
Current Location: supine on the rug
Current Mood: crazycrazy
Current Music: Etta James
butforthegrape - William Heaney in repose
14 April 2008 @ 03:50 pm
Yes I ran away over Easter and hid in the French Alps for three weeks. Mostly I was hiding from M and that wretched misjudgment I mentioned. I wanted to be in the clean Alps to make sure that one of her demons hadn't attached itself to me. That can happen with sex. And they are easier to see against the snow. I'm pleased to conclude: no sign of any. But I shan't do that again.
I got some scribbling done too. I have to show it the yob who teaches us Creative Writing. I'm going to take him some wine as a peace offering. Nothing fancy. Perhaps a Chateau Neuf Du pape. Something rustic anyway. Speaking of wine I filled the Citroen XM to overflowing to beat the vicious 46% tax. Well, the hydractive suspension is marvelous, doesn't matter how many bottles you load in. French thinking, see. Got stopped at the ferry port by a customs officer with a thunderous scowl and a five o clock shadow. Wanted to know how many. I told him I know my allowance and challenged him to count them. 'Don't tempt me,' he countered. 'Do your worst,' I said, 'I'll sit and read my novel.' Bluffer waved me through. Well, you've got to fight fire with fire.
Current Location: sofa
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: laura nyro