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Gimme Some Of Them Old Time Behaviours!

November 18, 2015

Richmond reading – Photo by George

Smoke and Other Tales – reporting steady sales from our distributor the fabulous Central Books of Hackney Wick.
I went into Waterstones, Piccadilly last Monday and was asked to sign the last 3 remaining copies. Smoke and Other Tales is in staff picks at Foyles, Charing Cross Road – the Whitechapel Gallery and the Arnolfini, Bristol to name but a significant few.

February will start with a reading performance at Shoreditch House in hipster heavy East London.

Here is a taste of Eddie’s early exploits (remember him…):

‘These were the days of 10 cc ‘ I’m not in Love’, Ralph McTell and Patti Smith’s Horses. The devil makes work for idle hands, during the summer holiday from the factory, a gentle dawn raid on rural doctor, metal-framed windows that pinged on a Xylonite cream handled knife blade with a tad of screwdriver encouragement, the docile chocolate Labrador that stretched, sighed and watched. The glass and chrome medical cabinets, their delicate slip over latches, holding prizes of ancient analgesics in ribbed blue glass bottles with the rubber stoppers supplied by Evans and Gadd of Speke, Liverpool from 1934. The village church clock strikes four – the deepest of sleep, bedded down and bible black. The subtle unforgettable fragrance of alcohol wisping from potted unguents – the pharmacy wearing this scent like a hippy wore patchouli.

Eddie had an old school friend called Mike, whom Eddie said always smelt of oil even if he was spotlessly clean. He would come out with stunning observations such as: “weather men should never have a surname that is the name of a county”. Eddie remembered Mike had pestered his parents for a drum kit for his eighteenth but they bought him a gold half sovereign. Mike was later to work the doors of a few clip joints in the West End of London. Eddie had seen him once in situ, shabby dark suit and homemade tattoos – looking really shifty. A Citroen in a council estate lock-up some years later crushed Mike to death. He’d been banging on the garage door; subsequently neighbours were to say they thought he was working on the motor. Cut down in the prime of his life.

During the brief Okehampton stay Mike and Eddie had knocked about together, drinking in barn sized pubs with names like the Pretoria until Mike overdosed, stirring up a bit of gossip in this small Dartmoor town that still spoke of American GI’s during the second world war billeted at the local army camp. This was a place where locals, flat capped, bow legged with veins blown in turniped noses, had their own cushions on worn reserved Windsor chairs in vinegary cider houses. Yes they still spoke of how the drunken American soldiers would be collected, by their military police in Jeeps, from the streets in the centre of town. They understood the apple; they knew the process but not the poppy, it would take Margaret Thatcher and foreign wars to explain that one.

Eddie moved on from the factory, while the Nightporter starring Dirk Bogarde was playing at the local cinema. He secured a job as a barman in a holiday camp on the south coast, a drop in money but a change of view. He was soon in charge of his own intimate bar located in the prized manor house while the rest of the camp; chalets, blue pools and orange umbrellas, sprawled in the grounds. Abba, mirrored flamingos, nibbles, Martini glasses and Cherry B ice buckets, the height of sophistication with long cigarettes, sometimes the coloured Russian ones. Pandering to a mature clientele, the camp was more of a refined experience than the usual. Eddie became acquainted with an older couple that ran a pub in Blackheath. They had a powder blue Ford Granada Ghia, he wore the sovereigns, loud check trousers she wore the fur and white high heels. They could have been invited to Abigail’s Party. Late night drinking sessions and alcoholic bon ami: “if you are ever in London and you want a job come and see me”. The wife taking Eddie’s hand and saying: “No, he means it”.’

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