Value who and where you are

To paraphrase a George Harrison lyric that has been on my mind lately:

It’s all up to what you value, down to where you are

It’s all up to what you value, down to who you are

It all hangs on the pain you’ve traveled through

Which only goes so far

Before at last you realise

The value of who and where you are.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Blog

Interview with author Denise Greenwood

Author of Temptation and also Star Keeper

Denis Greenwood. Author of Temptation and also Star Keeper

I recently read Denise Greenwood’s engaging novel Temptation. Besides its vividness the story’s dramatic opening was, figuratively speaking, akin to the opening strains of Mussorgsky’s Night on a Bare Mountain. The journey beyond this opening strain is well worth the read for the author’s evocatively descriptive writing alone. It was this that prompted me to find out more about her.

1. What kind of books did you read as a child and adolescent?

I read all usual school offerings but at aged 9 I was asked to choose a book from a table in class then write about it. I bypassed Enid Blyton (who I’d already read) and chose one that looked different. It was The Hobbit and although probably too old for me at that time, I consumed every word. After that I discovered Henry Treece and fell in love with Vikings for a while but I was given a set of 42 Bancroft Classics and in many ways they taught me more than any English class.

2. Did any of these books or authors help shape your approach to writing?

The more I read then the more I dreamed about being a writer one day but it was only a wishful thought and soon forgotten. I have since realised that what I read as a child also shaped my love of the extraordinary and given me a grasp of how to seek it out.

3. When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

I remember it vividly. It was 2006 and I was sat on a church pew. An idea came to me and then it haunted me for a while. It was almost an epiphany and I was driven to write.

4. Would it be right to say that your uniquely descriptive style of writing came natural to you?

Yes but I hadn’t used it for most of my adult life. My career in business required a skill for cutting through words to find what needed to be said precisely. When I began writing fiction it felt like a floodgate had been opened.

5. Do you consciously project aspects of you and your life onto characters and situations?

Yes but I think it is more complicated than that. I project what has been, what is and what could be but once I’ve created a character I step away and allow the character to evolve.

6. Do you feel that writing is a compulsion that has to be assuaged even if you find yourself in a church pew or doctor’s waiting room?

Writing is a compulsion and I take a notebook with me wherever I go. I write every day but it is also important to put down a pen and listen to what people are saying and how they are saying it then read “between the lines.”

7. Why do you write?

At first it was a personal experiment to see if I could but once I began, it released a Kraken. I realised that the “extraordinary” (I previously said I loved) is to be found in every aspect of one’s life. I am constantly amazed by people who live ordinary lives and yet have strange perspectives. During recent years I have seen people create drama in their lives as a form of compensation for being so ordinary and as a writer it is manna from heaven.

8. What next?

My new novel CRUSHED is a crime mystery and will be published later this year. I’m also writing a story each month for The Local Link magazine as well as writing another novel. I now find that I enjoy exploring the darker side of humanity and my personal challenge is to delve deeper.

Follow Denise on Twitter

Denise at Goodreads

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

Wavelengths – a fifteen minute play

IMG_9625-1024x682

Wavelengths

By David McAdam

Theme: Contrariness

Plot: Set in 1970s. Seemingly mundane conversations between a man and a woman on a ‘date’ interspaced by observations by two men at the bar.

Set: Bar, table and two chairs. Two men stand at the bar. Barman behind the bar devoid of emotion and interest in anything except the paper he reads.

Characters: Ray, Irene, First man/Second man, Alf (barman) Nathan, woman

Scene 1

Light upon the two men at the bar. They discretely look over at the couple engaged in conversation. The barman is nearby drying a glass. It is obvious that he is eavesdropping. An oldie is playing on the jukebox.

 First man: I see she’s found another man.

Second man: So I’ve noticed.

First man: Usual odds?

Second man: Don’t see why not.

Scene 2

Light shifts to couple. They sit opposite each other.

 Ray: So this is your local?

Irene: Yes.

Ray: It’s a bit far away from where you live to call it local, is it not?

Irene (shrugs): What’s distance got to do with it?

Ray: If it was just up the road or down the street then fine, but this pub must about, mm, five, six miles away.

Irene: Same distance as the hospital

Ray: Eh?

Irene: I had a local anaesthetic there to remove my cyst.

Ray:  A local anaes…ah, I see, very clever.

Irene: I rest my case

Ray (in response to the music): Who’s that singing?

Irene: Only Britain’s answer to Bobby Darrin.

Ray: Who is?

Irene: You’re joking of course.

Ray: Do I have the face of a man who’s joking?

Irene: I prefer Britain’s answer

Ray: So who is this mysterious answer that you like?

Irene: I didn’t say like, I said prefer, which doesn’t mean I like him or Bobby Darrin.

Ray: Ah, you were making a comparison.

Irene: Wrong again…an equation.

Ray: Hmm, they both sound of their time. Simon and Garfunkel or Bowie, are what most folk listen to now

Irene: Muzak for the herd mentality.

Ray: Yeah, right. Are you going to tell me who this mysterious answer is?

Irene: The same man who had a hit with Maria.

Ray: Ah, he’s Britain’s answer? P J Proby. Yeah, I like that song.

Irene: That Means a Lot was a better song.

Ray: A song the Beatles gave away

Irene (dismissively): The Beatles were passe.

Ray: My goodness…the Beatles, passe?

Irene: They never moved about on stage.

Ray: They didn’t need to; their music did all the moving that was necessary.

Irene: I prefer solo singers anyway.

Ray (smiles): Ones that move about on stage, eh?

Irene: The ones that move the soul; the emotions; memories; the tears.

 She sips her drink.

Scene 3

Light dims over table, brightens over the two men. 

 First man: That was a bad accident earlier this evening.

Second man: A double decker bus and a car, wasn’t it?

First man: Yeah, the car driver and the front passenger were badly injured.

Second man: That’s a dangerous spot; been a spate of accidents there recently.

First man: It’s about time the council did something about it.

Second man: Not easy on a bend with houses on either side. Maybe put lights up at the road coming out of the estate.

First man: Yeah. I wonder how our friend is doing over there.

Second man: Well, his lips are still moving and he’s still sitting. Are you ready for another drink?

First man (drains his glass): The usual.

Second man moves down the bar to face the barman who is standing reading the Sporting Chronicle.

Second man: That was a terrible accident earlier on, Alf, wasn’t it? Two people seriously injured. We were just saying how bad a spot it was for accidents and that the council should do something about it.

Alf (Indifferent, folds paper) Usual?

Second man (wearily): Yeah, Alf, usual.

Light fades over the bar.

 

Scene 4

Light on the table. Ray is leaning on the table, glass wrapped in his hands.

 Ray: Well I prefer live recordings

Irene: The live sound of people in the audience coughing. No thanks. I like the more polished studio recordings.

Ray: We just have to agree to disagree on that one

Irene (holds rim of the glass to her lips): You can, I don’t have to

She takes a sip.

Irene: You said the Beatles loss was PJ’s gain

Ray: I said it was a song they gave away.

Irene: It was McCartney actually, and he never gave it away. He penned it specifically for the man.

Ray: Using the Beatles as a vehicle

Irene: What, in the same way that a farm-labourer ploughs a field using the farmer’s tractor…that make it the labourer’s field. Or that it’s the bricklayer’s palace because he built it with bricks bought by the king?

Ray: Eh?

Irene: Or because it’s called St Paul’s Cathedral because he must’ve built it. I’m glad you didn’t turn out to be a school teacher.

Ray: Huh! Another drink?

Irene: Will that be your drink because you paid for it?

Ray is too stunned to answer.

Irene: I’ll have a vodka and Pepsi please.

Ray:  You mean coke?

Irene: I mean Pepsi

Ray: Vodka with Pepsi

Irene: From a bottle not a can

Ray rises and goes to the bar to order the drinks.

 

Scene 5

Light over the bar. Alf is reading the paper.

Ray: A pint of bitter and a vodka and Pepsi but leave the Pepsi in the bottle please.

Without saying a word Alf slams the ice bucket upon the bar, tosses the paper aside then proceeds to prepare the drinks. Light over the two men

First man: That’s him up for the drinks now.

Second man: As per.

First man: Ah, there’s the Pepsi.

Second man: In a bottle too as per.

Ray glances at the two men.

Ray: Bad accident earlier on I hear, eh?

First man: Very bad; we were just saying.

Ray (to Alf): I expect you’ve seen quite a few accidents from where you’re standing.

Alf: Anything else?

Ray (opening his wallet): How much do I owe you?

Alf: Four.

Ray hands Alf a five pound note. He snatches it, places it in the till, removes change, turns and slams it on the bar then picks up his paper. Light shifts to table.

 

Scene 6

He unscrews the Pepsi and is about to pour.

Irene: Hold it – ice first.

Ray scoops a handful of ice

Irene: Too many.

Ray: Oh, sorry.

Irene: I never have more than two cubes

Supressing his frustration, Ray picks up the Pepsi and begins to pour:

Ray: Say when

Irene: Ca suffit

Ray: Oops, wasn’t expecting it in French

Irene: Je n’ai jamais indiquer en Anglais

Ray (mild hint of sarcasm): Really?

He sits down. There is an awkward pause.

Ray: Do you watch the soaps?

Irene: No

Ray: I didn’t think you would.

Irene: Not open – ended soaps, I don’t.

Ray: What about movies

Irene: You mean films.

Ray: The old ones are the best

Irene: You mean good ones are the best

Ray: A good thriller, drama or Western

Irene: I like romance

Ray: Wuthering Heights – can’t get any more romantic than that

Irene: The Yorkshire dialect took the romance out of the reading pleasure for me

Ray: I meant the movie, I mean film

Irene: Which version?

Ray: There’s only one version – the Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon version

Irene: I prefer the James Cossins and Anna Marshall version

Ray: You mean Timothy Dalton and Anna Marshall.

Irene: No, Cossins. To me Linton was the hero of that story

Ray: Dalton was no match for Olivier’s portrayal of Heathcliffe

Irene: Olivier plays Richard III in every part he plays

Ray: Eh?

Irene: Even his laughter comes across as soliloquy

Ray: Hmm, what about Gone with the Wind? That film has not been remade

Irene: I’m not surprised…it was too long to squeeze another one in

Ray: Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh

Irene: Thomas Mitchell and Barbara O’Neil

Ray: ‘Quite frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.”

Irene: Suit yourself

Ray: No, that’s the famous line

Irene: It’s hardly in the ‘to be or not to be that is the question’ league, is it?

Ray: It’s Margaret Mitchell not William Shakespeare

Irene: Hmm, can’t you tell.

Ray: What about musicals? The Sound of Music?

Irene (looks up): That’s the jukebox

Ray shakes his head. Light over the bar

First man: There’s the shaking of the head. Won’t be long now.

Second man: On time too.

First man: Such a professional

Second man: Class.

Lights dim over the bar, brightens over the table.

Ray: So if The Planet of the Apes was a Linda Harrison B film what was the A film?

Irene: That Darn Cat

Ray: You – a French speaker – preferred a Disney farce to a Pierre Boulle classic?…

Ray playfully slams the table: ‘Damn you all to hell’

Irene: Je vous demande pardon?

She smiles and takes a sip of her drink

Ray: Out of curiosity, who’s your favourite film actor?

Irene: Woody Strode

Ray: Woody Strode?

Irene: A toss-up between him and William Bendix

Ray: Huh, I can’t imagine the posters on your bedroom wall as a teenager

Irene: I never had posters on my bedroom wall…didn’t want them although there was one time I nearly pinned up a poster of Lance Percival

Alf approaches the table.

Alf (brusquely): Finished?

He clears the table without waiting for a response

Ray: You know what I fancy right now?

Irene: Enlighten me.

Ray: A packet of crisps. Fancy a packet?

Irene: I never eat crisps; bad for the blood pressure. I eat olives though

Ray: Does he sell olives?

Irene: Yes

Ray heads for bar. Light dims over the table.

 

Scene 7

Light over bar.

Ray: Olives please, barman

Alf: None left

Ray sees bowl of green olives on the shelf behind

Ray: What are those behind you?

Alf: Olives

Ray: That’s what I asked for

Alf: Un-pitted olives

Ray: Eh?

Alf: The lady only eats pi…er, anything else?

The two men by the bar hear this near slip and rear up.

Ray: Crisps?

The two men relax again.

Alf: Flavour?

Ray: Cheese and onion

Alf: No

Ray: Salt and vinegar?

Alf: No

Ray: Smokey bacon?

Alf: No

Ray: I’ll just have plain then

Alf: No plain

Ray: What flavours do you have?

Alf: None that you’ve asked for

Ray: What about cigarettes?

Alf: Brand?

Ray: Embassy?

Alf: No

Ray: Benson and Hedges?

Alf: No

The light shifts to the two men. Ray eavesdrops on their conversation. Alf reads the paper

First man: If something is different that difference has to be identified as either better or worse, surely?

Second man: That depends on what we mean by better or worse

First man: Depends on this, depends on that. We must be the only two men who have talked about a subject without actually talking about it.

Second man (indifferently): Depends what we’re talking about

The lights dim. Ray shakes his head and turns to face Alf once more

Alf (without lifting his eyes from the paper): Was there something else?

Ray: How about No 6?

Alf: No

Agitated, Ray looks at Alf then at the two men then at Irene. She looks lost in thought as she cradles the glass. He sensed he wasn’t in that thought. He looks at Alf again. Alf peers over the top of the paper.

Alf: You still here?

Ray ignores him, repeats the cycle of looking, hesitates for a moment then leaves

Ray (mutters as he leaves): Woody Strode…

Unfazed, Alf picks up the paper and continues to read. The first man looks over his shoulder at Alf then he and his companion look at Irene

First man: Hmm, almost to the hour

Second man: No longer than the others.

First man: Poor guy; left in the same frustrated way as well

Second man: She’s playing a cruel game

First man: No wonder Alf’s the way he is

Second man: Can’t be easy for him

They look in Alf’s direction.

Scene 8

Alf comes round from behind the bar and approaches Irene’s table.

Alf: Enjoyed yourself this evening have you?

Irene: No more nor less than the other evenings

Alf: It won’t work, you know that don’t you?

Irene: It must annoy you that you don’t have adultery as an excuse.

Alf: Unreasonable behaviour would suffice

Irene: Unfortunately for you chatting to another one of my many friends in a pub is not unreasonable behaviour

Alf: You know it’s much more than that. You’ll pick the wrong man one day

Irene: Huh, I already did thirty years ago.

She leaves the table, goes behind the bar and pours herself a drink, picks up a packet of Getanes, removes a cigarettes, lights up then opens the staff door leading to the upstairs flat.

Irene: Good night, dear. Oh, and do deposit this ghastly racing paper where it belongs.

The two men also leave. Alf stands by the table. Light dims completely                                                                

Scene 9

Irene at the table with another man. His name is Nathan. They are well into their conversation. The two men are back at the bar. Alf trying to look discrete leaning his hand upon the bar while glancing at the table. Music on the jukebox.

First man: First time she’s ever ordered vodka and coke

Second man (looks at Alf): Alf doesn’t look too pleased…not that the situation demands that he should.

First man: She’s upping the stakes.

Second man: Are we keeping the stakes as they are.

First man: Hmm, for now.

Light dims

Scene 10

Light over the table

Irene: So what you’re saying that being Irish, if you’d been around at the time of the civil war you’d have been a De Valera man?

Nathan: He being the astute politician of the two, yes.

Irene: Well, even though I’m not Irish I would’ve been a Collins woman…he being the honest man of the two.

Nathan: Politics is a dirty business; Colins wasn’t really equipped for that like De Valera was.

Irene: You mean for telling lies.

Nathan: Collins returned to the Dal with a huge compromise agreement and tried to pass it off to the people as the best deal he could get.

Irene: He never tried; he succeeded…the people voted to accept it

Nathan: Doesn’t mean to say they were right to do so.

Irene: Huh! Doesn’t mean to say they were right to do so…and who came away with that little gem then, eh? Your dirty politician…’the majority can’t be right all the time.’ Hmm, the arrogance of the man…bad loser…deadly too.

Nathan: A loser that became the country’s first president all the same.

Irene: State not country.

Nathan: Same thing

Irene: And the first thing he did was outlaw the very army that helped put him there.

Nathan: But by then it was hardly the army that Collins organised, was it?

A woman enters the bar and approaches Alf. Irene is distracted by her arrival.

Irene: Er, oh yeah, the, er, IRA…who’s that woman?

Nathan (following her gaze): Sorry?

Alf and the woman are involved in a brief exchange. Alf points towards the table. The woman looks over her shoulder, turns back to Alf, nods then heads to the table.

Woman (as she approaches them): So this is where you’re hiding.

Nathan (feigned surprise): Sandie, what a pleasant surprise

Irene: Introduce me to your pleasant surprise, Nathan.

Woman: Nathan? Hmm, at least he’s maintaining class names. It was Jason the last woman he was out with. And I suppose you’re going to tell me, ‘NATHAN’ that you’re sitting with this woman because…don’t tell me, let me guess…she reminds you of me.

Nathan: Well, I er…

Irene: Nathan, Jason or whatever your name is, will you tell me what’s going on here and who this woman is?

Woman: I’ll tell you what’s going on and who this woman is. I’m this sewer rat’s wife and I’ve just caught him with another woman…you…my reason for divorcing him. Congratulations missus, you’re the lucky winner of being the other woman on a divorce petition. Adultery, I believe it’s called…is that right, Stevie boy?

Irene is stunned. Alf approaches the table 

Alf: Everything all right here, folks?

Irene: Alf, this woman’s just cited me as the other woman in a divorce

Alf (gathering the glasses): The other woman? Cited? Divorce? Let me get this right…this betrayed woman is naming you as the third party in an adultery case?

Irene: Come on Alf, stop playing games; this is serious. Help me out.

Alf: From where me and this woman are standing this looks very serious indeed.

Woman (to Alf): Are you willing to be a witness?

Irene: Don’t you dare, Alf!

Alf: Irene my dear, my loving wife, I can do no other under oath.

Alf cheerfully gathers the glasses and whistles as he returns to the bar. The two men observe the scene. They are aghast.

Alf: Haven’t you got homes to go to gentlemen?

He picks up the Getanes from behind the bar and triumphantly places them on top. He looks over at Irene.

Alf: Take these on your way out of the front door, will you. Oh, and takes these ‘PITTED’ olives as well.

 

End.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

Unlocking David McAdam

crlcvr2Denise Greenwood, author of the vividly written and engaging novels Temptation and Star Keeper recently interviewed me for her blog here:

http://www.denise-greenwood.com/2015/07/unlocking-david-mcadam.html

Please view her trailer for Temptation, one of the most descriptive and engaging novels I have ever read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

Carol’s face unlocked

sueThis haunting face with no more tears left to cry belonged to the woman who allowed me into her life. It inspired the cover for my book Unlocking Carol’s Smile. Carol is a fictitious woman. This woman was real.

The photo was originally intended – with her permission – to grace the cover. I took it whilst visiting her during one of her numerous hospitalisations for mineral and vitamin replenishment. With her understanding I opted for another image for the book.

Right from the first day she came to the day – centre I  was intrigued by her tight-lipped smile. I’d be flattering myself if I claimed I was the only one she smiled at though it seemed like I was. I was the team member she gravitated towards whenever she needed help or someone to confide in. A socially chaotic woman she was hopelessly addicted to a lethal cocktail that ravaged her body, mind and ultimately took her life. I was only ever spared glimpses of that life beyond sealed lips.

2 Comments

Filed under Blog

The record store

Pink_Floyd_-_Dark_side_of_the_moonBack in 74 the shy nineteen year old stepped out of the record store clutching his copy of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It was the last album he’d purchase as a single man. Its title was symbolic of where his life was headed from that moment.

For the next forty years this shy man was in orbit holed up inside a craft fueled by convention, steered by and viewed through the lens of ambivalence. The long at times arduous journey took him through myriad atmospheres of varying degrees of darkness. Suddenly the craft shuddered and landed with a splash. Wiping away the condensation, he peered through the clearing in the ambivalence and saw he had landed upon the surface of a wide lake. The atmosphere outside looked inviting. Disregarding convention he kicked open the hatch to investigate, immediately averting his eyes as he did so – he had arrived back on the bright side of the moon. With relief he leapt ashore and steadied himself. Hearing a loud gurgling sound he turned to see his craft sink into the depths of oblivion taking with it all he had brought but actually did not need any more. ‘Everything before today is now irrelevant,’ the confident sixty year old uttered as he ascended the lakeside and stepped back into the record store.

5 Comments

Filed under Blog

The Garden Square – a short play

The following short play was read by participants at a playwrights group I attend. It is being considered by a Yorkshire based theatre company for inclusion in its program of short plays. I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

The Garden Square
By David McAdam

Theme: distraction

Ian is an Edinburgh based street homeless worker nearing retirement whose task is to rescue individuals who have dropped out of their support structure.
Other characters:
Sam, a schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur.
Duffy, an Irishman, who could be guaranteed to sing at least one verse of a song to suit the occasion.
Rab, a self-pitying man.
Figure, androgynous, something of the ethereal, neatly dressed

Scene 1

Night falls. Ian is standing on a busy street pavement somewhere in Edinburgh. His mobile phone rings. We only hear his responses that indicate something serious under discussion:

Ian: Not Carol again. She’s absconded from alcohol rehab? Suicidal? She’s threatened to do that before, yeah, she’s done the same with me… does it with everybody…exactly, squeezes us dry then…well you know the rest. What makes the threat any different this time? Banned from having any contact with her family whatsoever. Hmm, I can see why you’re taking her threat seriously this time. Any idea where she might be heading? Oh, you’ve searched as far out as that. Nobody’s seen her? Right…yeah, okay that leaves my district as the only other possible place she might be. Won’t be easy in the dark, no. Right, of course I will…if I find her. See
you…yeah, I’ve got the mental health team’s number as well. Right, I’ll…what? Yeah, you’re right, it’s the last thing I need with my retirement coming up. Such is life, speak later.

Scene 2

Ian is standing at a set of traffic lights facing a dilapidated garden square. Although it is dark he recognises the three men in the square that is partially lit up by a lamp post. Ian crosses the road and enters the gap in the low wall bordering the square.

Ian: Hello, lads
Mumbled response from the men.
Duffy (tipsy): Hello, Scotland.
‘Scotland’ is Duffy’s nickname for Ian. He is standing by the brazier warming his hands.
Ian (joins him): Hello Ireland; keeping the home fire burning?
Duffy: What brings you to my home at this time of night?
Ian (glances around): I’m looking for Carol, have you seen her?
Duffy: You mean have I heard her? No, thank goodness.
Ian: I’ve been looking for her everywhere. I hoped, as a last resort, I could’ve found her here.
Duffy asks the other two.
Duffy: Scotland’s looking for Carol. Any of you seen or heard her on your travels?
Rab, seated on the wall lost in thought shakes his head. Sam, reading a paper, doesn’t respond.
Duffy: She’s not exactly in public demand as you can see, Scotland. What’s she been up to? Shouting the odds again with that mouth of hers?
Ian: I wish it was just that, it’d be a lot easier for me and the team. No, it’s more serious this time.
Duffy: You don’t mean…?
Ian: Fraid so.
Rab: Ach, I wouldn’t worry about it, Ian; you know how it is with her, she only ever talks about doing it…and even if she does, well…

Ian looks despairingly at his watch. Duffy notices and starts to half sing half mumble the opening to Pink Floyd’s Time:
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way, Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town, Waiting for someone or something to show you the way…

As if the meaning of the lyrics hit him personally Duffy’s voice trails off. He stares silently at the fire continuing to warm his hands as he does so. Ian senses Duffy’s change of mood and noting the other two seemingly too pre-occupied to care, he makes to leave. Sam is seated by the exit straining to read a broadsheet newspaper beneath the lamp post beam.

Ian (slows down): See anything interesting in yesterday’s paper?
Sam ignores the joke and instead draws Ian’s attention to a passage in the paper.
Sam (matter of fact): Before you go, see this here, it says that EMI has lost £56 million in profit over the past year blaming falling record sales, cheap CDs and downloads. Not true. It’s them along there (nodding towards an unseen entity), they’re to blame; they’re the ones that suck the profit out of singers and musicians like me. True.
Ian: Yeah, well such is the free market.
He attempts to leave. Sam thrusts the paper in front of him blocking his path.
Sam (brusquely): I’m not finished yet.
Ian (aware of Sam’s potential for throwing tantrums): Sorry…er, suck the profit out of…did you just say ‘musicians like me…you?
Sam: Yeah, the company’s loss would be even bigger if it paid me the royalties I’m owed.
Ian is also aware of Sam’s delusions and plays along with him.
Ian (feigned amazement): Really?
Sam: Yes, if it paid me the money due since 1963.
Ian: As far back as that…1963? I was only 9 years old then.
Sam: That’s when the agreement was signed.
Ian cranes his neck to glance up and down the busy street. Sam notices.
Sam: Forget about her; she’s not going anywhere…listen to what I’m saying
Ian: You said an agreement was signed?
Sam: Yeah. When Dick James took control of the Lennon and McCartney song catalogue there was one other important signature on the agreement.
Ian subtly looking around this time.
Ian: Brian Epstein’s?
Sam: His name was on it, yeah, but no
Ian: Hmm, George Martin’s?
Sam (dismissively): Nah, he was just the producer. No, the other important signature was mine.
Ian (his attention divided): Yours? Wow! So what you’re saying is that EMI hasn’t honoured your part of the agreement?
He makes another attempt to leave. Sam thrusts his arm out in front of Ian this time.
Sam: Stand still. A fifth part, yeah. If you went to the EMI studios and asked to see the original document you would see five signatures: Dick James’s, Lennon’s, McCartney’s, Epstein’s and mine…five signatures.
Ian: Hmm, so when you said royalties does that mean that you recorded songs?
Sam: Not recorded, wrote but not for me to sing, for them.
Ian: Them?
Sam: The Beatles, who do you think? I wrote the songs not them; not Lennon and McCartney; it was me, true
Ian pauses to take this absurdity in. He decides to make another attempt to leave.
Ian: That’s, er, that’s, er, well what can I say. I mean, me, a die-hard Beatles fan in the presence of the man who wrote, nay, composed all my favourite songs. Listen, now that I know who you are I’d rather…
Sam keeps his arm in place, ignoring Ian’s sycophantic response
Sam: Help, Hard Day’s Night, Let it Be…you name it I wrote it.
Ian finds himself trapped; not confident enough to break free lest Sam explodes. He can only play along in the hope that a suitable gap in the interaction will enable him to leave safely.
Ian: So, erm, you wrote the songs; you wrote…I’m the Walrus?
Duffy (interrupts): I’m the Eggman (he chuckles)
Sam ignores him
Sam: Penny Lane, All You Need is Love, Get Back and all the other stuff plus their albums as well.
Ian: Astounding
Sam: I also wrote their solo stuff.
Ian: What, you wrote Imagine?
Rab interrupts
Rab: No, Ian, he simply imagines…you’re not taking in all that crap are you?
Ian looks at Sam for his reaction in the hope that this could be the gap. It isn’t.
Sam: My Sweet Lord.
Ian (momentary lapse in feigned interest): Did Harrison, I mean, you, not get into trouble for copying the Chiffons’ He’s So Fine with that song?
Sam: Harrison just acted the part.
Ian: Of the song-writer?
Sam: And plaintiff. What was ironic about that case was that it was me that wrote He’s so Fine as well.
Ian: Accused of plagiarising your own song? Not so fine, eh?
Sam, smiling at the comment, removes his arm and straightens up the newspaper. Ian, sensing this positive reaction, takes the opportunity to try and leave
Ian: And on that funny but compelling note, Sam, I’d better be g…
Sam: I’m not finished yet. They didn’t know that I wrote the song.
Ian: Er, who didn’t know?
Sam: The courts. I was forced to buy the copyright of that song through Harrison to stop me suing myself in future every time My Sweet Lord was played in public.
Ian: Hence the influence behind, his, er, I mean your song Sue Me, Sue You Blues?
Sam (smiles): You are a die-hard fan of mine, aren’t you?
Ian: Seems I’ve been all along without knowing it. How did you come up with all those classics…such a variety of styles?
Sam: Just ideas.
Ian: Just ideas? How modest of you.
Sam: That’s all music is, just ideas.
Ian (involved): Hmm, where did you get the idea for, say, A Day in a Life?
Rab interrupts again.
Rab: Try asking where he got the sanity for HIS day in a life
Ian gestures to Rab to temper the intrusions. Sam continues unabated.
Sam: I got the idea from this newspaper…I had read about a crash while I was having my breakfast. When I arrived at work one of the lads asked what I’d been up to. The crash was still in my mind so I said ‘I read the news today, oh boy,’ which gave me the idea for the rest of the song.
Ian (sings): ‘I read the news today oh boy’ Great song, Sam. Well, my friend, this die-hard fan of yours has to be going otherwise Carol will be news tomorrow, oh boy…
Sam: Nah, she won’t be. You heard what he said…she only talks about it. Listen, I’ve written other songs like that. You know the song Baker Street, don’t you?
Ian: That was Gerry Rafferty’s hit was it not?
Sam: Nah, people only think it was; it was my idea not his; my song. He stole it.
Ian: Stole it?
Sam: I was on holiday in London. While I was walking down Baker Street I jotted down ideas about the street. I was going to make a song about it then give it to McCartney or Harrison or maybe Tom Jones. A gust of wind blew the paper out of my hand, Rafferty must’ve found it because the next thing I know he had a hit with it and took all the credit.
Ian: And all the royalties.
Sam: They all did…him, Lennon, McCartney, Epstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber…I never received a thimbleful of credit or penny in royalties. They’re just like them along there…sucking the life out of me.
Ian: Hmm, tragic…did you say Andrew Lloyd Webber?
Sam: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Ian: Two more that hovered up your ideas
Sam: Phantom of the Opera, Whistle Down the Wind, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar…all my ideas
Rab: Heh Ian, guess who was Michael Douglas’s idea for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, ha ha ha…
Sam (ignoring remark): When you’re a genius like me you have to learn to take those kind of insults. Oscar Wilde had to.
Ian: But unlike Wilde who received credit for his plays, you never received a thimbleful of credit for your musicals.
Rab: You mean a thimbleful of Librium.
Ian gestures to Rab to stop the remarks. He looks at his watch. Sam continues.
Sam: Nor my ten per cent cut. They live in their fancy houses by the Thames while I rough it here by the street.
Ian: A modest ten per cent cut that would have made all the difference to your life.
Sam: The cut that would bankrupt EMI altogether thanks to that lot along there.
Ian: They should be grateful that you’ve not gone public with this miscarriage of justice.
Sam: Nah, the Chiffons’ case was enough for me; it doesn’t really bother me. I know the truth
Ian: That’s magnanimous of you, Sam. I’m proud to know you.
Ian checks his watch again. An idea of escape enters his head.
Ian: I’d better be going, Sam, but tomorrow first thing I’m going to do something for you.
Sam: What’s that?
Ian (nodding towards the city centre): I’m going to go along there and tell that lot on your behalf just what I think of them and that they should do the right thing by you.
Sam withdraws his hand from blocking Ian’s path.
Sam (touched, nods with approval): Before you do, there’s another thing you should tell them.
Ian: What’s that?
Sam: You know the M8 motorway?
Ian: Yeah.
Sam: The money that EMI – and that lot – owes me has been invested there.
Ian (feigned disgust): You don’t say
Sam: I own all sixty odd miles of that road…from here to the other side of Kingston Bridge in Glasgow.
Ian: And no doubt that lot never gave you a thimbleful of credit for that either?
Sam: Not a single trowel-full.
Ian: Outrageous
Sam: Take it from me, Ian, before you ever sign an agreement make sure you get your ten per cent then sit back and let them take all the credit; it doesn’t matter then, you’ve got your cut.
Ian: And my house by the Water of Leith as well. Thanks for the advice, Sam.
Sam (straightens his paper): Don’t mention it
Ian: Just out of curiosity, Sam, what year were you born?
Sam: 1954.
Ian: Same year as me.
Sam: We were born in a vintage year you and me. The Chordettes at number one with a song I wrote.
Ian: Ah yes, Mr Sandman. And you said that you’re owed royalties since when?
Realising he is rumbled, without answering Sam folds his paper, places it in his bag, rises from the wall and brushes past Ian on to the street without saying another word.
Rab: You caught him out with that one, Ian. Ha! Mr Sandman…a pure Walter Mitty.
Ian (diplomatically): Well, Mozart was only six years old when he wrote his first symphony.
Rab: Aye, Mozart actually wrote it…Sam never writes anything other than a betting slip.
Ian ponders for a moment. He has long lost the momentum to look for Carol. He goes back to Duffy by the brazier.
Ian: And how is Ireland, Duffy, when was the last time you saw the old place?
Duffy looks up at Ian, smiles and begins to sing:
When first I landed in Liverpool,
I went upon a spree,
Me money alas, I spent it fast,
Got drunk as drunk could be…
A man must be blind to make up his mind,
To go to sea once more…

He lifts his glazed eyes skywards as his voice trails off once more. He looks down at the dying embers, solemnly shakes his head, turns and trudges over to the flattened earth, lowers himself upon it and reclines with his back to Ian. Rab is seated nearby with an outstretched hand where a beer can normally sits.

Rab (a single nod towards where Sam had been sitting): Yesterday he claimed that it was him and not Brunel that built the suspension bridge. He’ll probably come back tomorrow and claim the credit for Napoleon’s strategy that won the Battle of Austerlitz…mad.
He looks at Ian with a pitiful expression.
Rab: What a life, eh?
Ian: Aye, one could be ending right this minute
Rab: Carol?
Ian: Yeah, I’ve tried looking everywhere for her. I hoped she might be here.
Rab: Don’t worry about it; you’ve done your best. She only talks about doing it. You’re retiring next month. Forget about her.
Ian: I’d hate to retire with her sui…ach, maybe you’re right; she only talks about doing it.
Rab: Women talk about doing it; men do it.
Ian: Tragically, yes. Ah well, I suppose I’d better get going…Oops, better give Charlie a buzz first.
Ian pulls out his phone.
Rab: By the way, I heard about the hostel evicting her if she missed another night.
Ian: Hmm, you don’t miss a trick, Rab, do you?
Rab: Survival of the fittest out here, pal. Any chance of me getting the room if she’s topped herself?
Ian: She only talks about it, Rab, remember?
Rab chuckled.
Rab: I wouldn’t be considered anyway would I?
Ian (smiles knowingly): Now why would you think that?
Rab (pulls out a cigarette stub): Got a light?
Ian: Hmm, is the rent due?
Rab: They don’t charge rent for sleeping here…besides, I can’t burn this place down can I?
Ian produces a lighter and lights the cigarette
Ian: Once you’ve mastered the art of paying rent instead of burning down each flat every time it’s due then you might get considered for another one.
Rab inhales then exhales a cloud of smoke and chuckles at the same time as he stares across at Duffy who is now sleeping the heavy drinker’s sleep that is not sleep at all.
Rab: Hmm, what a life.
Ian is about to make a phone call when a female voice suddenly rings out.
Voice: Ian!
Ian looks across to the other side of the busy street and sees Carol standing at the edge of the pavement. She waves at him and steps onto the road. A truck comes careering round the corner at the lights. Ian sees it and shouts:
Ian: Carol, no!
He then runs out on to the road and pushes Carol back on to the pavement. Light fades.

Scene 3

Later back in the garden square we see Ian standing by the brazier warming his hands over the dying embers. As they dim Rab, who is seated on the wall, and Duffy lying nearby, gradually disappear into thin air leaving Ian alone. Suddenly a dying ember bursts into life sending a glow that shows Ian resplendent against the dark background of the dilapidated square. A figure appears out of nowhere and approaches him.

Figure: I thought I’d find you here.
Ian: Ah, it’s yourself; I thought you would too
Figure: It doesn’t take a genius to know where you’d be
Ian: I think we can safely agree that you’re more than a just a genius
Figure: The fire’s almost out.
Ian: Just about.
Figure: No need for me to ask why you’re still here
Ian: She only talked about doing it, they said
Figure: Yes, I know
Ian: It doesn’t make it any easier
Figure: I can only imagine that it doesn’t
Ian: What a question to ponder with my retirement coming up as well: did she or did she not deliberately step off the pavement in front of that truck?
Figure: At the precise moment you finally managed to step from the square
Ian: Yeah, and see where that step got me
Figure: On the one hand yes, but on the other see where it got Carol. She would not be where she is now leading a life of sobriety and back with her family had YOU not stepped out in front of the truck that night.
Ian: Not knowing whether I saved her from committing suicide or death by a terrible accident
Figure: An irony of that particular night was that for one split second you were not distracted from your original purpose to find her.
Ian: Yeah, as I say, see where that got me. Oops, the fire’s gone out now
Figure: Good, time for us to go out now as well; time for you to take that well-earned retirement.

The figure turns and slowly walks towards the exit, Ian follows. The brazier gradually vanishes into thin air. The figure and Ian also vanish into thin air. A sudden power surge causes the street light to momentarily cast its light upon the square revealing a garden that is not dilapidated but is actually a lush display of shrubs, trees and flora. A park bench stands where the brazier once stood. There is a brass plaque upon it bearing the inscription ‘In loving memory of Ian who sacrificed his life that I might live. Forever grateful, Carol.’

End

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Blog

My revised ‘faction’ ebook is now available

Unlocking her smile unlocked more than Ian had bargained for.CAROL COVER 3D

‘Homelessness is not only the absence of a roof it is also the absence of love’

‘Man is an empty soul without love in his life’

St Augustine

2 Comments

Filed under Blog

The Blackbird Finally Spoke

catstvnsOf all the places in Stirlingshire that family friends could move to in 2012 they chose the village of Thornhill. This was near where Morag came from. Here I was forty years later being invited to visit my friends in that place. Memories of that Saturday night came flooding back as I drove to their cottage. As they did so I  could hear the distant voice of Cat Stevens in my head singing Morning Has Broken – an apt soundtrack. Coincidentally, the visit happened to be on a Saturday. My friends knew the story and the village’s association with it but it did not stop me repeating it once more – to their delight I hasten to add – at the dinner table that evening. They could not believe that I had once been so shy. When I left their home later that night I noticed that it was near to the time I had left the dance – or rather blown my chance. All that I needed to bring the memory to life as I headed back was the sound of Cat Stevens singing that song. Alas none of the Best of… CDs in the glove compartment contained it so I had to make do with the distant sound of his voice once more. It wasn’t so much Morning Has Broken as I drove through the darkness but rather the sky – it poured all the way.

A habit when I return to Scotland is to attend church but instead of the usual one I went to the Church of Scotland. It was purely for nostalgic reasons – besides worship of course; I had not been to a service there for over forty years. I wanted to sit in the balcony pew where my younger brother and I used sit during our Sunday school days back in the mid – 60s. Thankfully nothing had changed; the pew was just as I remembered it – hard and uncomfortable. However on this occasion I never noticed.

The service that I chanced to participate in that morning was a christening. The church was quite full. The opening hymn was the normal one of praise followed by a coming together prayer offered by the minister in down to earth albeit reverent language. The christening of the baby then followed, which is always a touching spectacle. After the parents and their newly sprinkled child returned to their seats the minister then announced the next hymn.

My face beamed with a broad smile as I stood along with the rest of the congregation singing with gusto. As I did so I thought how sensitive and perhaps humourous God was. I now knew why there was no CD in the car containing that song. Instead of listening to its heavenly strains God had had it in mind for me to sing it at church the next morning instead. Thoughts of that Saturday night joined me as I sang turning it into a fond rather than regrettable memory. After all that is all that it was now. Beyond a memory lies a new day.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

The blackbird that couldn’t speak: Part 2

???????????????The night flew by too quick. The DJ suddenly announced the last record, the slow number, which signalled to us would be Heathcliffes to move in for our Cathy, as it were. The song was Cat Stevens’ rendering of Morning Has Broken. I was no Heathcliffe, Will Hay, yes, but no Heathcliffe. Morag, nonetheless was certainly a Cathy worth moving in for. We had been getting along just fine by the time the record was announced. I groaned at the thought of having to move in and go through this date asking ritual. Groan or not it was a tradition. I duly wrapped my arms around Morag’s waist while she draped her arms over my shoulders. We then slowly danced or rather moved cheek to cheek.

I could feel she was nervous as I was as we held each other close and shuffled round and round on the spot. All night we had been sort of dancing while at the same time shouting sweet talk in each other’s ear above the raucous beat. Now in full mooching embrace there was no loud beat but the hymnal sound of Cat Stevens’s singing. Chat up phrases raced through my mind jostling for position while my mouth waited impatiently for the one that succeeded: ‘Can I take you home?’ ‘Do you fancy a walk round Stirling next week?’ ‘Can we meet again?’ ‘I would like very much to see you again.’ The jostling was still going on when the song ended. I loosened my hold, stepped back and sheepishly looked at Morag. The only word that managed to prise apart my hesitant lips was a stammered ‘Thanks.’ Morag stood there stunned; the look of disappointment in her eyes said it all; I felt totally inadequate. Meantime the DJ wished us all a good night and a safe journey home. I awkwardly wished Morag likewise and turned to look for my pal. As ever he had succeeded not only in securing a date with his dance partner but also in offering her a lift home in my car with me driving. Cupid once more.

Morning broke by the time I reached my own home. The sound of a blackbird could be heard in the garden hedge announcing its claim to the territory. Meanwhile this tired and beleaguered blackbird could only lay claim to his bed. That was one Saturday night back in 72. Forty three years later a visit to the village in early March revived a surprising detail of that night so long ago.

Part 3 to follow.

2 Comments

Filed under Blog