Wednesday 16 January 2019

Hello 2019! You look great!

As most of you know (Because there was a time when I'd talk about little else) I've written a few books...

Real books you can hold in your hands and get paper cuts on your nipples from should that be your particular kink, and on the whole they've been pretty well received. People tell me that they've read them and enjoyed them... Some people say that other people have borrowed them and they've also enjoyed them... And some people, who really over-estimate their quality have bought them as gifts for third parties who also say that they enjoyed them (You see, there's a theme, with which you should totally get on board).

There are four 'real' books for you to consider currently, the first two: 'Mumblings of an Irate Pangolin' & 'The Pangolin Yodels' are collections of my opinionated set pieces that originally appeared in my Blog - I'm told that they're funny (Well, that the funny bits are) and are worth a look if you're bored.

Mumblings of an Irate Pangolin

The Pangolin Yodels

There's also 'Child of Air' which is the first of a trilogy of >100,000 word novels describing a version of Britain some quarter-millenia in the future, where aliens, pirates, robots and airships feature quite heavily. Should those things give you a tingly feeling in your nethers, you should definitely buy a copy.

Child of Air

And then there's 'Forever Girl' a collection of short horror and speculative fiction stories that I knocked up over a few lunchtimes - I don't want to sell it short, it's 270-odd pages with about 30 stories after all, and that's hardly a folded pamphlet - And it's probably my personal favourite, I read random pages from it daily on the toilet you know. It features a few more trains than I'd normally be comfortable with, but the heart wants to write about what the heart wants to write about.

Forever Girl (And other stories)

But, due to a bit of bad luck and some lifestyle changes, I've pretty much stopped writing and a lot of people are somewhat miffed (See my previous posts for details) And when I say 'Miffed' some of them have become quite vocal

There have been threats on my life, offers to remove, or at least render inoperable, my primary male sexual feature (I was going to describe it as an 'outstanding feature', but I've recently had it surgically reduced by a couple of inches, and it's been cold too) To try and force my hand as far as returning to writing is concerned.

Well, I can officially announce (And a few of you know already) That I am writing again... Because I've run out of things that I can, in all good conscience, procrastinate about.

'Child of Space' the follow-up to 'Child of Air' is almost 25,000 words into a first draft and my new novel, which has the possibility of becoming a darkly humorous supernatural series (Should I be able to inject sufficient dark humour), depending on how it's received by you buggers - is currently sitting at a very light 5,000 words... I'm only aiming at around 80,000 words here, so you could probably roll it up and stick it in your pocket for reading at the yacht club and so forth.

'Jaffward Moncrieffe and the Primary Problem' will tell the ongoing story of a late 19th Century Vampire Freemason Tattooist who fights a daily battle against both vampire hunters and his own elective veganism to live a 'normal' life... Should be a complete doddle - It almost writes itself!

Don't ask when they're going to be published, because I'm properly out of practice.

But they're coming - And there might even be owls... Owls are sorely under-represented in modern supernatural literature... As long as we forget about a popular child wizard who is still doing the rounds.

And who wouldn't feel better if we did that?

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Schist just got real...

Before we go any further, you know how occasionally I do a serious post about real things and they're usually all deep and meaningful and you get as far as the middle and you're about ready to slit your wrists and then there's an uphill slog to the denouement where it's all puppies and gamboling schoolkids and suchlike as a big volte-face making sure we all go home with a song in our hearts and a lovely firm hug for our nearest and dearest.

Well... This is one of those - And it's all about me. And I wasn't really sure about how to give it an uplifting ending.

If you read my last blog (or if you know me in real life)  You'll know a couple of things about me:

  • I write, it's my thing - It's the second funnest thing you can do when it's just you and an Internet connected laptop and the curtains are closed. You should all give it a go, you might enjoy it (But don't be better at it than me, I shall pout and possibly kick you in the danglies... Multiple times)
  • I am old, and fat, and unfit, and bald. It's a good job that I'm happily married because there is literally no other way that I would ever get to have sex otherwise without it costing me the GNP of  a reasonable sized European country. I'll be 50 in six weeks for God's sake.
  • I had a TIA a couple of months ago. A 'mini' stroke and I didn't take it anywhere near as seriously as it seems that I should have done.

A couple of weeks ago, a letter landed on the mat, asking be to drop by my friendly neighbourhood outpatients department and have a quick chat with a Consultant Neurologist; which I did, last Thursday. There was nowhere in the letter to say what it was all about so I assumed that it was the stroke clinic 'signing me off' and letting me live out the rest of my life quite happily, if a little over-medicated in a 'rattle when I walk' kinda way.

It turns out that it wasn't that at all.

The nurse working with the consultant did my measurements, height, (185cms) weight (about 19st) and blood pressure (190/140 - Which I believe in the trade, they like to call a 'Hypertensive Crisis' and causes them to start shouting words like 'Stat!' and 'Crash' and similar into the light fittings) - She whistled at that one, and quickly said "That's not the worst I've seen." when I raised my eyebrows at her. I asked if she'd seen worse in anyone who was currently still alive, she went very quiet. Then I asked her if any of those people had died by actually exploding, to which her only reply was, "You're taking it very well..." When I asked if running around the room crying and yelling would help, she replied that it was probably best not to if I could manage it, all things considered.

Then she led me gently by the hand in to see the consultant, who proceeded to set about me with a hammer, allegedly to make sure I still had reflexes, but I wasn't convinced. He did all the standard 'follow my finger' stuff and asked me to put my clothes back on, whilst also reminding me that he had never actually asked me to take them off in the first place.

We did a bit of small talk about it being unseasonably hot, and he introduced me to a junior doctor who was sitting in with him - Seemingly they all want to get experience of when a sturdy looking fat bloke goes postal when he finds out his diagnosis and how best to call security without copping for a dead-arm. Then he showed me a picture the inside of my own head... It looked a tiny bit like this:

Although the actual brain sort of filled the skull as you might expect, because: clever

Consultant: See that? [pointing a my brain]
Me: Yes?
C: Not this, [circling the whole brain] But THIS, [pointing at a white cloud the size of a 2p piece]
Me: Yes...
C: That's a damaged area of your brain, the white cloudy bit is brain damage.
Me: Your actual brain damage? [Sticking my tongue firmly in my cheek and crossing my eyes]
C: Yes
Me: But just that bit right? Is that from the stroke?

He shook his head and flicked through about ten other picture 'slices' through my brain, pointing out the damage on pretty much every single picture, including one that he got quite excited about that was in my 'deep brain area' and one near the connection between the left and right hemispheres that looked like a hand-print.

I must admit to not listening very hard over the next bit of his explanation, but I heard words like 'extensive' and 'incurable' which to be honest, are not good words to hear on a Thursday afternoon, the day before you're due to go on a relaxing weekend away, if at all.  It seems that most of the damage has been caused by years of undiagnosed high blood pressure and that the only way to slow (but not stop) further damage is to lower my blood pressure both chemically and by making changes to my lifestyle.

  • I asked if this is what would kill me - He shrugged
  • I asked how long I have got - He said somewhere between ten minutes and 50 years, much like anyone else.
  • I asked if there will be any odd effects - He shrugged, but said that there may well be, and I should come straight back if I felt anything 'suspicious' or started having headaches etc. 
I will freely admit to feeling quite frightened about this, but then I suppose you would, even if you knew there was nothing you can do about it.

And I have started to experience what I assume to be the first effect... I have started to forget words that I use quite regularly, and I feel that is immensely cruel - And you should totally let me off if you find anything nonsensical or misspelled in this post.

Anywho, talk more next month probably... It's my 20th Wedding Anniversary and I'll be expecting a fairly decent present especially if you want to roll it together with my 50th birthday the month after, if I'm not around you could just give it to the wife.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Is THIS the Playground of the Broken Heart?

Hello friends,

How've you been?

Missed me? I've missed you all... In the past eight months since I last blogged - You remember, it was about my daughter running away to live with her boyfriend like a thief in the night* Did you know that a few of the 'Agencies' that publish stuff that makes you think around the Internet picked that up and it was quite popular for a few minutes. They did the same with my piece about trigger warnings too, if your remember, which was lovely - I went all warm and fuzzy for a swift matter of moments.

So now, much as Randy Quaid's character, Russell Casse, said as he nosedived upwards... Wait, can you nosedive upwards? is it a noseclimb? Is noseclimb actually a word? From now-on "Noseclimb" shalt be the word that one Chimping Dandyist can use to identify themselves to a similarly encumbered person - Don't say I never give you buggers anything.

Anyway, Dennis Quaid, noseclimbing into the alien ship in Independence Day with a jaunty, "Hello Boys, I'm back!" - Which is what I'd like to say to you, because I sort of am. Kinda. It won't be every day by any means. More like once a month hopefully - At the moment that's the plan, maybe on a Friday or something, as I don't work Friday afternoons anymore.

Anyway, back to what I was originally going to talk about.  Obviously a lot of water has passed under my own personal bridge since last year, some ploots** of it more oily and foul smelling than others. But the three main ones that spring instantly to mind are:

1: I have finally self-published the book that I swore I would never self-publish.

Yeah, I know, can you smell the disappointment in my voice?  I had always said (And still do whisper to myself when I am locked alone in my damp writing tower and the rain is lashing against the leaded windows, the interior lit only by the dour flashes of lightning) that I would get the Windspider Chronicles published by a bricks and mortar publisher, with launch events and regional rights and a Korean language version. Etc. 

So, true to my word, on the 4th April, I pressed the button that would self-publish 'Volume 1 - Child of Air' into the feverish hands of a waiting public. You can get it on Amazon - That link is to Amazon UK, but it's available on most of the Amazon sites that serve various countries / continents. Trigger Warning: It's only in English. 

One of the few things that I did to try and convince myself that it was a real book, in much the same way that Pinocchio needed reassurance that he was a real boy, was to commission a professional cover artist to design the cover. This is what it looks like now.

By the unfairley talented David R. Shires at TheImageDesigns.Com

Looks bloody ace doesn't it? You should nip off and buy it, if you're poor, or you don't have space in your house for real books you can even buy it for The Kindle - or move house, which would be better in the long run.

2: I have become a Freemason.

Yes, the chaps who wear blindfolds and aprons and roll their trouser legs up at any available opportunity. We all ride goats and there's a mystical secret handshake, we can count on woodland creatures for help if we ever stray from the clearly signed path and go for an unscheduled trek into the undergrowth and I have a limited control over the prevailing weather conditions***

To be honest for me, being a Freemason is all about the camaraderie, the fraternity and the 'giving something back' through charity - No, really, I realise that doesn't sound like me in the slightest, but you should know that people can really change when they get old and worry about being closer to death - We try to pack some good Karma in whilst we can. Also we all get together for a slap-up feed and a few jars about once a month, which has got to be worth the price of entry alone.

As an aside, I'm happy to answer any questions that I can about general Freemasonry that you care to leave in the comments - Sometimes the answer will be, "Sorry, can't tell you that." But I promise I'll do my best to answer what I can.

3: I've had a stroke.

See, told you I was getting old. Well I say it was a stroke - It was actually a TIA, or Transient Ischaemic Attack. It lasted about fifteen minutes and I felt fine afterwards. I even drove myself to casualty (Safety tip, don't do that ever - There's a slim chance of something like an 'aftershock' happening a short time after your attack, which is something that you don't want happening whilst you're driving, you'd be putting innocent people in danger - Call an ambulance - In fact I'll go further and say that your consultant will tell you that can't drive for about a month afterwards. They're usually pretty clever, you should listen to them about things like this.)

So what happened? I was sitting at my desk at work when over the course of ten seconds, I went blind and I lost the feeling in all the diodes down my left hand side, couldn't move my arm or leg on that side of my body. I sat there in wonderment as I tried to feel my gums, which had also gone numb, and trying to talk - Which is a bit of a chore with only half a working mouth - fifteen minutes later, I was as right as rain again - All that it's really left me with is a solid gold excuse to get out of anything stressful at work, just by saying, "But I've had a stroke!" and wincing as if I have a headache and a need to take Clopidogrel tablets for the rest of my natural life.

But hey, it could have been a lot worse. The only difference between a TIA and a 'real' stroke is that the TIA's effect is transient i.e. there's no lasting damage - But I like to think that even if there had have been, I would have been able to find something funny for you guys to share about my situation.

Anyway, it's time for me to get back to the real world for a while, feel free to leave any questions, comments or naked photographs of yourself in the comments section below, and I'll get around to them as soon as I can.


*No, as it happens she hasn't come home as yet - She's set some particular way-points for that to even be considered, which have yet to come to pass.

**Yes, I have invented another word usage, 'Ploot' is a subset of a certain volume of water in a river, to be used when you really can'y be bothered to look and see if there is already a word for this.

***Some or all of these statements are made up - But then I would say that wouldn't I?

Wednesday 11 October 2017

My girl's mad at me (I think)

Hey Dandettes! (Yeah, that one didn't work either - Godsdammit, I wish I could think of a group noun for you people - It's a major inclusivity issue... Feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments below.) Long time no see, I've been sick!

You know I did a thing last year about how every other day is International Day of the something or other? The cat maybe, or the landmine, or the wombat, or the potato that looks like someone from Jersey Shore (Which is like every potato, AmIRiteKids?)

Well, today is the International Day of the Girl. It's the day where we all should 'highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face' It struck me that I know a girl or two, a few on Twitter, a few on Facebook, and even a few in real life! (I know, no-one's more surprised than me) But when it comes down to it there's only one girl that I feel qualified to really talk about... My own daughter.

This is her, her name's Dorla and she's beautiful isn't she?
I guess I should write this pretty fast as she's not going to be a girl for much longer (No, don't worry she's not dying, this isn't the X-Factor) It's just that a week today... She becomes A WOMAN!, no, not like that... I assume she's been 'a woman' in several other physical ways for a while now, I'm not an idiot.  I mean, she's gonna turn 18.

My daughter, an adult... Christ that makes me feel old. Which is fair, because I am old, and fat, and bald, and my handwriting's barely legible... I am such a catch! - It's a good job I'm rich innit?

Dorla and I had what I think I'm right in saying is the classic Daddy/Daughter relationship - She thought I was the best thing since thick sliced bees knees and that I could do anything, and I thought she was the single most fragile flower in the world and it was my job to protect her from anything that the world tried to throw at her for the rest of her life.

Which went about as well as you can expect, certainly if you've read any of my stuff before... I mean, I even taught her how to play golf - kinda

From R to L: Me, Dorla, My No.1 son Malachi & his friend, Reece.

And I fostered (if that's the right word) her interest in Photography, which she is bloody good at...

And Game of Thrones it would seem.

And Tattooing (She's looking for an apprenticeship, or she was at least)...

We went through all her changes of style...

Jebus this picture scares me - Looks like a 25year old's Tinder

Even that 35 seconds when she wanted to shave part of her head and become a Viking...

Actually I may have got over-involved with that one as I think about it now...

I've never seen anyone look more pleased with anything, ever.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that I wished this was still how our relationship was, but it really isn't. Something happened last year. I probably did something or said something, I'm still not 100% sure of exactly what it was.  But I'm guessing it was pretty bad, something that couldn't be talked over, some misunderstanding that couldn't be sorted out with a simple explanation (Yeah, let you imagination run riot, mine has pretty much every day since) - And she ran away from home in the middle of the night.

She's not living on the street (Told you - Not X-Factor) although maybe I'd find that easier to handle, there'd always be the feint hope that I could entice her back home with the promise of 'cheesy-chips' or expensive coffee. But she moved in with her boyfriend's family and she seems happy enough. They've got an extended family and have a lot of parties, which I would probably have loved when I was 17... Which is when I looked like this:

Yes, I know - The weight came on as the hair went off

I wish that I could have been a better Dad and stopped this from ever happening, I wish I could have done more... Or even just enough, to make her feel that she was able to stay. But it seems I couldn't.

Because no matter how old and independent she grows, this is who I see when I look at her.

Cradling her brother the day after he was born.

And I just miss what we had so much, but it can never be the same as it was. Maybe I'm just selfish?

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Laziness is its own reward

You’ve seen WALL-E right? The Disney/Pixar film about a time when we’ve crapped on Mother Nature for so long that we’ve actually had to go into space to enable us to keep doing it from above.  I mean it’s a lovely, heartwarming story about a trash recycling robot cannibalizing the corpses of his dead compatriots to lengthen his own, worthless, existence. At least, we assume that this is how he gets his spare parts – I mean, he could hide behind piles of rubbish that he’s personally collected and hi-jack other WALL-E units when they come to clear it up and tear them to pieces with a pound-shop tin-opener that he came across one day.  But anyway… Remember the last third of the film where he finds his way onto the BnL liner Axiom and all the humans are obese and swan around in floaty chairs and have all their needs catered for by a central computer (and presumably a lot of hidden vacuum tubes)?

All rights reserved Disney/Pixar - Whoever

Did you feel a pang of guilt the first time you watched that? Did you look down at yourself and think, “Am I really supposed to be able to balance a ready-meal for four hungry adults on my stomach? Even when I'm crying heavy tears of self-loathing onto myself?” before fumbling around to grab the remote control that’s just about to slide down between the sofa cushion and the arm and you remember that last time you had to use the app on your phone to claim on your house insurance because it got caught up in the auto-reclining mechanism and you had to tell them that next door’s dog broke in and ate it?

No? Really? Are you sure? Because I’ve seen naked pictures of you and… To be honest… It’s gonna take more than a seaweed wrap and a quinoa & kale smoothie to sort either of us out.  But it’s not our fault is it? Not really, when you think about it.

It’s technology’s fault… The modern world is changing how we interact with everyday life.

Science, certainly every major scientific discovery of the past hundred years or so, has been to make our life easier.  Everything now is remote controlled, or heuristic, or there’s an app for it, or a prophylactic against it, or it’s more difficult to die from, or easier to insert into an orifice, or you don’t need to actually stand up to do it, or lie down, or squat precariously over a drain.  You get the picture right? You don’t have to actually ‘do’ anything anymore. If you snap your toilet seat in half, you can just tell your phone (or your broadband connected personal assistant presence) to order you a new one. If you do this before 6:00pm, the chances are that it’ll be dropped off later that same day by drone.

If you want to watch virtually any film that’s ever been produced ever, you can find it online, you can watch it on your 60” Smart TV without suffering the ignominy of walking down to Blockbuster… Or even getting up from your chair. You can have your shopping delivered directly to your front door with alternatives provided where those items have proved too popular (but not where you’ve made unhealthy food choices) You can change electricity supplier, entertainment supplier, sexual partner and/or pet with the touch of a virtual button.

When was the last time any of us hunted or gathered?  Have you ever chased down an Impala on the boundless plains of the Serengeti?  Have you ever even eaten a fish that you’ve caught yourself? Or opened a tin of ravioli with a hammer and chisel because you’ve broken the tin opener and can’t be bothered to go to the corner shop for a new one?

Have you ever looked at your monthly outgoings and shook your head because half of your outgoings are spent on labour saving devices and the other half is your gym membership?

Is it that we’re lazy? Is it because it’s how we display our dominance nowadays?

‘Look at how much I don’t have to do’ – ‘I’m so important that I don’t even have to actually exist anymore’ – ‘look at me fading away until there’s nothing left except the recurring reminder on Outlook activating the voice synthesizer on my phone telling my Google Home to buy more parrot food every three weeks.’, 'Look at the skeleton of my parrot.'

Maybe it’s time for us all to go off-grid and start afresh?

Just let me Google where the best place for me to do that would be. Should just take a minute.


Monday 12 June 2017

Forever Girl (a deeply unapologetic advert)

Some of you will know that as well as writing, I also write… Wait... I mean, I write books as well as these memory-dump things I occasionally inflict upon you here – I think I may have mentioned it before on a couple of separate occasions.

This is what Forever Girl looks like so you aren't confused

My most recent book, Forever Girl, was a collection of unconnected short stories that I wrote over the past year or so.  There were ‘Flash’ pieces, like what I used to write back in the day. (Stories with 500 words or less) There were stories from my Edward Teach universe (More on this later) and then there are just stories based on random thoughts that I had on the bus, or on the tube, or on the toilet, or whilst someone was talking to me and I was just nodding at them and making ‘pew-pew’ noises in my head that drowned out what they were saying.

Does that ever happen to you? You’re nodding away and suddenly the person stops talking and says, “Do you agree?” and your anal sphincter tightens up and your mouth goes dry and you reply, “Erm…” and you look across to your mate who’s making the ‘Careful what you say next, you imbecile!’ face and frowning so heavily that it looks like someone’s just injected malt vinegar into his eyes with an icing syringe. So, because you have to say something, you say, “Yes?” Then he looks all gleeful and goose-steps out of Woolworths while your mate informs you that you’ve just agreed with someone who started their conversation with “Did you know that Hitler was just Ron Mael out of the band ‘Sparks’ wearing a jaunty sun-hat and I’ve got a mongoose in the front pocket of my cargo shorts?”


Just me then?

Oh… Right you are.

Anywho, back to the subject in hand, and the question I was about to ask… I’ll be blunt… Have you bought a copy? No? Well, I’ll tell you what I’ll do as a special favour – I’ll let you know what the included 28 stories are all about to whet your appetite. Then you can get it (from Amazon, I don’t just sell my stuff out of a shoebox by the side of the road you know)

  • The train now standing – The first story I ever read out loud at an event. About the passengers in a railway waiting room, on a rainy night in December.
  • A walk in the woods – A story set in my ‘Edward Teach’ airship Universe, Where our long-suffering first officer, Mr. Britt, takes a long tumble into danger – on his birthday.
  • Born from an egg? – Another Mr. Britt birthday story. This time explaining the plot of his favourite TV program… In detail - You might learn something.
  • Nexus 7 – More Edward Teachery, this time a story about my own daughter and her general disregard for authority.
  • A nautical gentleman – More birthdays, on airships, this time for Lee’Sahr, a crewman (crew-woman?) who has suffered a great personal ignominy.
  • It’s a setup! – A 495 word flash story, the entirety of which is really just a carrier for a groan-inducing final line.
  • Virtuality – An Artificial Intelligence (who swears that he most definitely isn’t) discovers that he’s more human than a lot of real humans are.
  • A Goswick railwayman – Why do I write so many stories about trains? I don’t even like trains that much. Here Death take things into his own anthropomorphised hands to correct a seventy year old mistake.
  • A breath of fresh air – One of the few stories where readers have taken the time to contact me and say that it left an impression on them. A young boy wishes that he’d done no more than been a better son.  A bit like myself.
  • A frozen image – Have you ever seen one of those ‘Snails do the funniest things’ clip-shows? Have you ever paused it at the very moment the baseball hit the camera? I wonder what you’d see.
  • Horner of the G.A.A. – Horner was an experiment, to see if I could over-describe everything, like Dan Brown does. He might actually star in his own deeply confusing novella one day.
  • Nowhere – My shortest story, at 150 words. About the last few seconds of a motorcyclists life.
  • I remember when this was all fields – My one and only try at a western/cowboy story. I discovered I was no good at them, so from now on I’m just going to stick to what I know.
  • Warning! – My first piece of flash, which despite being about a delivery driver and a bit rubbish – I’m still quite proud of.
  • I believe in a thing called love – A Doctor in the far future (If 500 years makes it the far future) discovers the love of his life is not who she seems to be.
  • Then: More fire – Our wonderful Doctor once more, finds that fire has become a permanent, and very uncomfortable, part of his love-life.
  • It’s been a long time – A birthday story for a good friend of mine. One who, at the time of writing, had been dead some 700 years.
  • Forever Girl – Our eponymous story about a normal everyday girl, who happens to work at Oxford University and may have a pet time machine.
  • The Baroness’ Birthday – An introduction to the Matriarch of the central family of the ‘Edward Teach’ stories and her ‘no nonsense’ attitude.
  • An Inconvenience – Another story about the Baroness, this one taking place both directly after, and also one year later than the previous one. A story of revenge denied.
  • The Rescuer – As most of the ‘Edward Teach’ based action takes place in the sky, I thought a story set on the seabed might make a nice change of pace.
  • Dale and Samuelson, Solicitors – Steven is a nobody, a worker in a London based solicitor’s office, whose only distinguishing feature is that his trainers are always wet.
  • The deluxe model – Mike Tanaka reports from the 2056 Tokyo toy fair. Where attitudes towards gender have changed. But manufacturing methods have not.
  • Mirror – A descriptive section about one man’s last, long day of employment in a dusty dystopia.
  • And there are no more – Have you ever been on a very long journey where people lay on entertainment to pass the time faster? Our unlikely hero, Archimedes has. (Includes a free song you can sing at home)
  • Guns! – A short-short story that I don’t actually remember writing. It’s about a man who overcomes his embarrassment to save his friends lives during the war.
  • The good old days – A flash story about a boy and his unusual friends – And how peer pressure doesn’t always end well.
  • BEK – The story of a very particular kind of monster, with a very particular set of skills. (I read this at an event in a bookshop last year, and it made at least one of the audience go very pale indeed)

So there you go, almost 30 stories for £7.99 – that’s about 26p each or something – And that’s for the paperback… How can you afford not to buy it?

(Yes, I know that doesn’t technically make sense – Just go with it - I'm a struggling writer, not a using English words properly type person)

You can get it in paperback HERE
You can get it for your Kindle (or Kindle compatible device) HERE

Either way, you short-term satisfaction is guaranteed – Although I’m not going to be refunding your money just because you say you didn’t like it.  You strike me as particularly untrustworthy, Have you actually met you? And it goes against all sorts of Amazon rules probably too, I’d have thought.

Oh! I was going to give you some news too wasn’t I?  Well, Over the next few weeks, I shall be publishing the novel that started off this Edward Teach tomfoolery.  It’s 300+ pages of futuristic, airship heavy, swashbuckling, there’s a female main protagonist that passes the Bechdel test (well, most of it at least) and it’s rip-roaring fun of the old-school type… And there may be a talking horse in it too.

Keep your eyes peeled for further updates… soonish.

Thursday 20 April 2017

Unpaid review: Evyltyde, by Evyltyde

OK, let's get one thing out of the way first... This isn't a restaurant review, I know that I've done restaurant reviews in the past but this isn't one of them. This is a music review, of an album, by a band. A 'Heavy Metal/Melodic Hard Rock' band (So, all you Bieberites should probably hang up now - You're really not going to like this - But you should probably know that no-one really gives a crap what it is you actually like and you're wasting your lives)

(Hey, remember that time I didn'y get death-threats from Bieber fans?)

And I should probably make it known that I knew a couple of people in the band, before I knew they were in a band (I met them at a party and thought that they were splendid types) - This happens to me literally all the time, one of my other friends for instance - Known him for years, suddenly dropped 'I'm on BBC Radio 2 tomorrow.' into a discussion about what we were having from the bar... I don't mean he just stood up and said it like Steve Carell's character in 'Anchorman' might do - He kind of worked it into the flow, but it still totally happened.

So, I've known these people for about a year, and about a year before that, they released their first and most eponymous album. And you know what? It's really quite good. Let's first introduce the band, well, at least the lineup at the time the album was released.

In photographic order:

Isaac Marques - Drums
Paul James - Bass
Hannah Delaney - Vocals
Danny Merton - Guitar and shouting

This is their lineup now(ish)

Heckmodswyke, my faithful manservant, loaded their CD into the walnut frontaged Blohm und Voss CD player in the Dandymobile many hours before I awoke so that I may listen to it during my long commute to work this morning - Let me tell you about what I heard:

Please note: I have included official videos for the songs where such things exist on YouTube.  There are loads of videos of the band playing the other tracks from this album live.  But most of them were taken by sweaty rockers on their phones - And being an ex live sound engineer - Most of them make my bloody teeth itch. (no offence intended to the camerapeople - I'm sure you're all lovely)

(Rights to all songs, videos and images are owned by Evyltyde and their assorted agents and agencies)

Track 1 - Intro 
I know - An intro!, it's like I'm back in the 70s, a decade that I'm significantly more comfortable with than I am this current one - It's a minute and a half of crashing waves, torrential rain, ghostly choral voices and disembodied laughter - I likes it, although I did feel like I needed a wee halfway through. There is also a light smattering of creaky ships timbers towards the second half, which made me shiver (see what I did there?) - All in all, by far the best nautical-themed intro I have heard on a track since Islander, by Nightwish (and that has flutes).

Track 2 - Down below
Continuing the nautical theme, Hannah, sings a sirenesque story about condemning sailors to the briny deep. This is where you start to hear the vocal range that she's capable of, The high notes made my ears bleed and the low ones made me think a wheel had come off... But that may have something to do with the volume I was playing it at - Not sure what volume it was, as the CD player isn't so gauche that it tells you things like that, but it did keep flashing up, 'Explosionsgefahr' So, that's nice... Probably. I don't know, I don't speak German.

Track 3 - Kick you down
A dirty-great guitar riff starts the song, and the processing gives it the feel of being listened to on the radio in a car by the guy it was written about... and I was listening to it in the car, but, look... You'd probably need to hear it to understand what I mean... A lot of the songs on the album can safely be described as 'Old School' or 'Old Skool' or however the kids are spelling it nowadays - And this is a good thing, because I am old. and I went to school.

Track 4 - What have we become
Oh! a choral start, we like those! I've got loads of Sisters of Mercy albums - Then it all goes a bit 'Number of the Beast/Run to the Hills - Iron Maiden' Twiddly-speed guitars. Then the drummer goes nuts - There is literally nothing not to like. There's an over-arching 'Egyptian' feel to this track - But that could just be me remembering listening to the Powerslave album back in the 80's - The lyrics are pretty dystopic if you listen to them (or read them off the sleeve notes like I did) - But that's cool, I like that kinda thing.

Track 5 - Your darkest fears
Now IMHO, this is one of the most accessible songs on the album. This is also a good time to remind you that this is a totally subjective review, personally I'd have released this as a single - But that's just me, and I'm just a bald, fat bloke with questionable morals, not a record company executive... Can you imagine!? - If someone were to put a knife to my throat, and you really needed a reference, I'd say this is probably most reminiscent of Lacuna Coil

Track 6 - Disappear
Yay! The first one with an official video... Something of a Sunday Morning acoustic kind of song - Oh, and if any of you have ever wondered what 'disdain' looks like on a girl's face - It's the expression that Hannah has in this video whenever she's not looking like she's about to actively rip your nuts off.

Track 7 - Chastity
Another video... Which means I don't have to write anything yeah? Maybe? OK, yes, it sound's Def Leppardey - But when did that start being a bad thing? I like Def Leppard, I used to wear white baseball boots and double denim back when it was fashionable - and I got all the chicks.  Now, we've talked about strippers many times on The Chimping Dandy before. So I'm not going to go deep into that subject again (f'nar) - Whilst I understand what the constant change of pace is trying to portray, I admit to finding it a bit jarring. I don't mean it's not a good song, I'm just saying it's not my favourite one on the album. 

Track 8 - Living to die
Proper headbanger is this one - Even a nice instrumental break at about 2:40 so that you can get your breath back and everything.  Other bands might have resorted to shouting out the lyrics to this one. There are some shouty bits in the background and a couple of gravel voiced Death-Metal style grumbles (Presumably from Mr Merton) but it's all clarity of projection and what's called public school received pronunciation now - Although it was just 'How you spoke' when I were a lad - I'd characterize this as a track played by the DJ at the start of the last quarter of the night - Where the sober people are just drunk enough to dance uninhibitedly, and the drunks are still sober enough to remain verticalish..

Track 9 - Guilty
This is Dio... This is so Dio... Bloody love Dio, I do - You could probably sing the lyrics to 'Holy Diver' over this and it'd be cock-on - This is an epic lost Dio song as performed by Barracuda era Heart at the top of their game - Bloody love Dio, bloody love this track. Bloody brilliant.

Track 10 - Avenge the fallen
No, I have no idea why this was filmed in a field, I'll be sure to ask them next time I see them - A classic hard-rock song, repetitive (yes that's a good thing in this particular instance) Grinding guitars and plunging decolletage (sorry Hannah, but it's difficult to ignore, and it drags the hairy palms into the gigs... Well, it/they... whichever) - See what you think. Also, see if you can place Danny's accent...
Claim to fame... I may have spilled beer down the back of the jacket that Danny's wearing, but I don't think he noticed, so everything should be fine... *cough*

Track 11 - Fly away
The intro starts a bit 'Crash Test Dummies' - But we like them too, so that's good. Then it goes old Metallica, until Hannah starts to sing. then it really goes full on Black Album 90s Metallica (even the drumming, but the drumming is better because it's not being done by Lars Ulrich who might be Danish, but he's still a massive git) Great track.

Now if you're a modern type, and you've streamed the album from Amazon or *spit* iTunes *spit* - This is where your journey ends - But... If you really believe in supporting independent music, and independent bands, and Kickstarter and shizzle. You will have bought the CD from the band's website for a tenner (with free P+P) and will have four bonus tracks - Well, three tracks, and an acoustic version of one of those three tracks as well as the... Look, you know what I mean...

Track 12, or Bonus Track 1, depending how you look at it - Killer
Another video, don't worry, the flashing is intentional, And yes, it sends my eyes funny too... But it's really catchy - In fact I'm humming it now. (and, keep your comments to yourself... then wash your hands)

Track 13 - Fight to be free
This is a really anthemic track, you can imagine it being belted out at venues - The accompanying video isn't an official video - It's more a sort of official bootleg, featuring just Hannah & Danny. Originally released back in 2013 with all profits going towards helping victims of the war in Syria and around the world

Track 14 - Skin deep
I think this was the only track that I'd describe as an 'Album Track' on the entire album - On another band's album it would be the next to last song... Not filler by a long way, because it's still a good song in its own right... It's as if... You know when a pub covers band says 'And here's one that we wrote ourselves' - It's not one you know, so you'll go and get a beer and then sit and listen and hear the second half and wish you'd heard it all the way through - Pretty abrupt ending though, I was expecting a fadeout for some reason. It'll take me a few more listens to get into it I think.

Track 15 - Fight to be free (acoustic)
This is probably my favourite track on the entire album, even though it's just a version of track 13.  It fits Hannah's voice perfectly - It's soulful, it's haunting, It'd make a great closing theme for a TV show - The sort of thing that would be a featured track on Sons of Anarchy. I'm going to play it again once I've published this.

Evyltyde can be found on Facebook:
And they have their own website: Where you can see their tour-dates and buy T-Shirts and the Albums with the bonus tracks - Yeah, they have a fanclub too, you should totally join that, you get free/cheap merch and get to go backstage and stuff (But not like that time I told you about with RockBitch)