“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”
Been off work for a bit so got my head down and working on the 1913-14 section of the novel. Can be hard writing white characters in a historical context so been trying to read history and about the politics of the time locally and nationally. Trying to keep the provocative tone and the sense of injustice that prevails but also wanting to explore the world of unseen landscapes and stories untold; as the writer Robert Macfarlane writes ‘finding the boundless in the bounded, and seeing visions in ditches.’ It’s also an area that George Monbiot has written about looking at the editing of the history around possession of the land and the dispossessed. In many ways I want to fuck up the nice pristine view that Buckinghamshire has of its history and High Wycombe in particular, and look at the roots of working class resistance and what those brave new immigrants from our countries had to deal with it when they reached after the war in serious numbers.
Why you’ll never find execution or eviction on a National Trust tea towel: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/feb/24/monbiot-civil-liberties
So book is coming together and I promise those of who contact me to proof read and give me feedback will be rewarded with a copy and here’s another extract in the meantime:
West Richardson Street: Anna’s story
‘Anna loved the days when spring finally arrived in the town. She could stay out longer when the light stayed on, and she and her little collection of children in most need for correction could enjoy their adventures. They would follow the course of the Wye through crest beds and the meadows around Loudwater through the grotty town where all manner of debris was deposited, to Sands and Dashwood’s lands where they would be chased by game keepers and assorted grounds men. They would go stickleback fishing and wade through the water searching for coins. One warm April Johnnie McManus, a relatively junior member of their gang found a bag of coins in a small ornate sack. After much squabbling and deliberation it was decided that Johnnie be allowed to keep the stash on account of his old man being a drunk and infirm and not being able to work and all.
This time the discovery was rather more unusual and disturbing. They had been down Oxford Road by the intersection with Bridge St when they had found the item. The Cornish twins Meg and Moe had been bombing underneath the bridges that ran from the main road to the outside of the terraced houses that lined the path. It had been a dry few weeks so the river level was low and despite the constant smell of Newlands around them and the fetid stagnant water they would dare themselves to run down through the arches and wade through to the other side. This time however the twins had been down there for several minutes, and Anna who always felt a sense of responsibility to her younger charges glanced anxiously downwards wondering if the water had claimed them. She heard them utter an almighty scream accompanied by loud shrieking as they emerged shaking and shivering
‘It’s a man – there’s a man down there!’ exclaimed Moe the slightly taller one with the big ears.Meg came up behind her dripping wet ‘But it’s horrible he’s got noooo’ she coughed and stuttered as she struggled to get the words out‘What hasn’t he got?’ demanded Annie in disbelief. In unison they both chanted ‘He’s got no arms and legs!’ Anna and her gang were in shock – they had discovered a limbless corpse on Oxford Road. All manners of murderous motivations filled her mind but she knew that she had to act as the twins and the rest of the motley crew could be in serious trouble. She got them to follow her up one of the alleys to a stretch of ground from prying eyes and listening ears and convened a meeting. All of the gang realised that this was a serious situation as these meetings were unusually rare. Normally they would only be organised if they were at war with another crew. But ever since the Downley boys had received a public thrashing from the one of the Constables that threat had subsided. Indeed PC Snelling had left his mark not only on the red crusty buttocks of the unfortunate boy but with the rest of the local uncorrectables in the town.
‘I have a plan’ Anna said with her arms folded behind her back after she had paced up and down whilst her acolytes waited for her deliberations.‘I don’t know what’s going on and what kind of evilness has done this but we got to tell the Bobbies’
Anna proclaimed looking at her crew for signs of reaction. ‘I’m not going to the station house again not after what they did to my brother’ said Maggot who’s family had a number of dealings to do with the police on the account of them being involved in petty thieving and such like.
‘I’ve not made my mind up who it will be yet though. Maybe we’ll write a note and deliver it to em’
They looked at each other wondering who would be nominated for this fearsome task and how this diminutive flamed haired 12 year old girl exercised power over them. Since her 10th birthday she had seen off all the male competitors by fighting them on the land behind Desborough School. Her toothy grin was testimony to her tenacity and bravery.’
As always stay wise
Saqib D, August 2013