If you’d care to spare a moment to sit down at the side of life’s manic highway and avail yourself of a sampling that might make you leap to your feet with a cry of “I want to read the rest of it now!” I’d very likely clap you on the back and stand you a beer.

Contents

The Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy

The Mystery of the Stolen Brides

Lavender Days

The Unmaking of a Britflick

Mabel at Hastings

Square One

 

Coming Soon!

 

Jack-a-Dandy cover Extracts“If all the various kinds of supernormal cognition were exercised by a single person, their possessor would excite the stupefied amazement of other men. Yet such a being, superhuman to our ideas, is a logical possibility.”

Dr. Eugène Osty
Director of the Institute Métapsychic Internationale
Paris (1928)

 

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The Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy

eBook Published by Greenwave Editions, September 2014; Paperback Edition, February 2015

Extract from Chapter 7

doctor who dummy extractA word about that room I slept in, for there was a story attached to it that fascinated Derek Martinus. I had a dressing gown which I would put on to nip up the corridor to the loo in the night if I needed to. Soon after our arrival, I did this after a session in the bar with the others, at around 2 a.m. I usually slept nude as the weather was still warm, and as I put the dressing gown on it became intensely cold. I tore the garment off with a feeling that if I didn’t do so I would freeze. Just to touch it chilled my hands to the bone so I threw it on the floor and, for some weird reason, jumped up and down on it, and the soles of my feet felt like ice when doing so. Staring at the crumpled gown in bewilderment, I backed away from it, put on my pyjamas in case I met anyone, and left the room.

On returning I peered across at the discarded dressing gown. ‘This is silly,’ I thought. So I removed my pyjamas, picked up the gown and put it on again with what might be called defiance. At once the freezing sensation spread over my shoulders and back again, so I clawed the garment off and hurled it across the room. Then I got back in bed, turned out the lamp and, after a bit more puzzled thought, was soon asleep.

Next day at breakfast I told my story. No, I hadn’t been drunk. Imagination? Possibly – everyone had their own theory. The girl who served us went and told the hotel proprietor, Mr. Hayter. As we dispersed from the breakfast room ready for another day’s filming, he came up to me with an air of apology. “I didn’t want to say anything,” he said. “I hoped you wouldn’t mind being in that room.”

“Why would I mind?” I asked.
“It’s the haunted room,” he went on. “We don’t like to advertise it.” I was staring at him. “Some time in the sixteen-forties, during the Civil War, a wounded Cavalier stayed in that room and died during the night. We’ve had reports in the past about guests experiencing odd sensations there, and some claim to have seen his shape standing by the window.”

I peered at Mr. Hayter, a pleasant man in middle age, balding and on the chubby side. Was he making this up? But he was absolutely serious. “If you’d like to change your room,” he offered, “I’ll make arrangements.”
“Oh no,” I said, “thanks all the same. I quite like the idea of sharing a room with a ghost.”

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The Mystery of the Stolen Brides

Ebook was published by Little, Brown Book Group on August 15th 2014 in their Crime Vault (click on the logo to go there).

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Extract from Chapter 4

extract from the mystery of the stolen bridesCharlotte turned to see the bed flooded with golden brightness and branded with the bars’ shadows. And she gave a gasp – for the bed curtains on this side were not quite closed, and through the gap she thought she glimpsed a shape.

Somehow she was moving, then drawing the dank bed-curtains wider. Dust-motes spiralled up from the counterpane that half-covered the girl who lay there. Her back was to Charlotte, and she wore a dress of blue satin. Her long dark hair spread shining like coal across the pillow, and she was very still.

Charlotte’s mind had ceased to function. She gripped the girl’s shoulder – wanting only to wake her, talk to her, share her ter­ror. She gripped harder and shook. The satin seemed uncannily clammy beneath her fingers, and strangely ridged. She pulled more urgently – and a screech choked in her throat as, with a hiss­ing sprawl, the figure rolled over on its back and a skull’s face leered up, sightless yet sighted somehow, into Charlotte’s own. She saw in paralysis of shock that shrivelled grapes were lodged in each eye-pit, giving the thing an intent stare. Black arched brows had been painted on to the bone of the forehead. Each cheek glistened with blobs of rouge, and around the grinning teeth shone blood-red waxen lines intended as lips. It wore a wig which had slid forward to give the face a terrifying raffish leer.

 

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The Mystery of the Stolen Brides PAGE

 

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Lavender Days: A life-affirming Anglo-American affaire in Provence

Extract from Chapter 1

extract from lavender daysWith what felt like a thrill of daring he teased the red string free, opened the top and peered inside. Astonishingly, a fragrance of lavender seeped up from within and made his senses reel – even after all these years the smell was still strong. He dipped a hand inside and wonderingly drew out a small oval American football of foam rubber, a piece chewed off where a dog had once played with it. Stuck to the ball with stickytape was a piece of paper on which was written in a childish hand:

 

To Gabriel

From

Jodi

 

A few letters in their opened envelopes were in the bag too, written in a forward-sloping adult American hand. A small bulky book with the title ‘14,000 things to be happy about’ was wedged in as well. It seemed almost supernatural that, here in his flat, with a gloomy English early-winter afternoon outside, his nose should be tingling anew with the odour of lavender from that long-gone French summer.

 

Extract from Chapter 7

On we go on into the village on this enchanted day, and have a couple of rides on the dodgem cars there, great crazy fun. Then Kathryn drives us up into the mountains, glorious Provence scenery all around, towards a beautiful place called Gordes. We stop at a high spot and look down at the Abbaye de Sénanque, an ancient grey-bricked Cistercian abbey among fields of cultivated lavender, the scent of it, as in the garden at Jonquerettes, head-floatily strong.

On the way back Kathryn’s straw chapeau blows out through the open car window, so we stop at the roadside and she and Jodi go back to retrieve it. Chantal stays and talks to me, and teaches me how to say “Sud” (south) with a proper French accent: (“ssoood”), her lips pursed and face intent, a slight frown, glimpse of white teeth. I’m rewarded with a merry grin when I get it right and she cocks her head and looks at me like an approving teacher. My little language coach. She’s bought a bottle of lavender perfume and drenches herself and the car interior with it. I’ll never think of any of this, nor this part of the world, without thinking of lavender.

 

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The Unmaking of a Britflick

A memoir in diary form

Extract from Tuesday 20th August, 1977

unmaking of a britflickKat took me to the Hurlingham Club for lunch with eyesparkling jewellery and hair coiffed (she, not me). Says it’s to give me background, as this is the sort of place the Moon characters would frequent. In my old Burton’s suit with the split crotch I felt like Tom Courtenay mixing with the higher-ups in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, yet felt unexpectedly at home there, too. Can this mean, as my surname might suggest, that my forbears were once nobs? – or was it (as dear old Grandma Squire always insisted) just a cockney joke? Should ‘cockney’ have a capital ‘c’? (discuss) Cordon bleu nosh, with red wine. Again Kat paid, flapping off my pathetic gesture of bringing my age-cracked leather wallet apprehensively into the open, but there’s still no money on offer to start me writing. Am I expected to do it for nothing as a gesture of goodwill? (gosh, never thought of that.)

 

Extract from Friday 27th February, 1998

As this vision from an era of squonking cabs and horse-buses pushed out a leaflet-bearing hand, I was about to mutter ‘no thanks’ in the way we Brits have when thus accosted, when she stumbled and grabbed my arm to keep from falling, crumpling the exhortation to bring my films to Snappy Snaps, win a holiday on a Greek Island and live contentedly for the rest of my days.

“Sorry.” It was almost a sob. In a moment the contact was gone as she righted herself and looked me in the face, elevated from her five-feet-eight or so by the tottery heels. Her eyes on mine were wide jade pools hemmed with black lashes, expressive in a half-scared puzzled way as if imploring me to answer the question of how she had arrived here and what was she doing in this particular dimension of space and time? Her vivid Titian hair was topped by a floppy cap of dark green velvet, and hung to her shoulders in coils and curls.

She was gorgeous.

“Are you okay?” Silly question, she was perished.

“Yes. Thanks.” Silly answer. Her legs were trembling, a blueish tinge around her mouth. She looked about to collapse and the wind would send her Snappy Snaps leaflets blizzarding into the traffic.

“Would you like a coffee or something?”

 

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The Unmaking of a Britflick PAGE

 

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Mabel at Hastings

Extract from the Introduction

extract from mabel at hastingsOn the Saturday morning of August 2nd 1930 when Mabel Floyd picked up her best friend, Dorothy Carvill, from the King’s Head public house in Richmond where Dorrie’s parents were the licencees, to go off to Hastings for four weeks’ holiday, she was still 13 years old . . . In the Richmond and Twickenham Times published that day the ‘Twickenham’ type of quality houses, currently being built, are advertised at £945 Freehold each. On this the last day of Bentall’s sale a lady’s ‘Afternoon dress’ is down from 20 shillings (£1) to 5 shillings (25p). A made-to-measure suit can be had for 5 guineas (£5.25p) at Vivian Richfield’s on Hill Street.

Extract from August 17th 1930

When we were on the West Hill some boys ran away with our hats. Thought it attractive I suppose. Dorrie went after hers & socked one of them under the jaw, but missed. I went after mine. They ran away, & dropped the hat. It was all bent up. They waved a handkerchief to me. Afterwards we found out that it was Dorrie’s. If they hadn’t run away – cowards – I would have given them one each all round!

 

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Square One

Extract from Chapter 1

square one extractsThe dustbin-cluttered back yard, dark and winter-cold, welcomed me with open lids, allowed me to be sick in it; bore with fortitude the merry shrieking noise that spilled out into it from three floors up. The keen air scythed into my lungs, refrigerating my head from the inside, cleared the fumes and double vision, settled the stomach. I was all ready for a refill.

Beaming cautiously I nipped back up to the Earls Court flat that throbbed with weaving bodies and thundering music. The Four Letters were climbing the Hit Parade for the first time, and were hurling a party to see how many extra birds they could get. I gazed on the scene with now morning-fresh eyes, seeing the famous spotty faces contorted in laughter or deep-thought, wallowing in the waves of tiny skirts and skin-tight pants whose occupants – or most of them – clung to all things male as the music slammed out to conquer conversation. The record by the Four Letters, I noticed, got a good airing every other time or so. I knew the words backwards now – those I could decipher.

Extract from Chapter 21

Cornlow and Mike came running up, shivering with the cold. A crowd of girls were jumping around them, and one of them came up and rubbed her breasts against me. I was just wondering what to do about this when a solid mass of blokes came up in the gloom, thrusting the squeaking girls aside. When the first blow hit me on the side of the face and the coloured lights spattered and swam in my brain, I felt resignation rather than surprise.

There was the sound of sudden screams, an impression of rapidly-moving bodies, and dark solid objects sending bolts of pain through me. I lost sight of the others in preservation of self, but knew when I saw them again that their faces wouldn’t be the same. It was a madhouse. I lashed out blindly, and tried to shout, but no words came. My head was full of shrieks, flaming rockets were shooting off behind my eyes – and then I was spinning backwards, the earth flung my feet away and slammed me in the back; and I was lying down watching the scene, and no one was hitting me any more.

Our attackers – and afterwards I reckoned there’d been at least a dozen – were squirming about on the ground, having been set on by hordes of girls, few of whom were over fifteen probably, who were kicking viciously or striking down at the leather-jerkined bodies with shoes deadly with stiletto heels. The other two groups had rushed up also, and were joining in with loud shouts and flying elbows. And I saw young, twisted Mike on the outskirts of the mêlée, belting the hell out of one of the toughies with no-longer-soft fists that he now realised could really hit as hard as James Bond’s or Batman’s.

 

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Hot Property 

Encouraged and inspired by Brian Rix RIP, Hot Property is my new traditional farcical comedy, premiered on stage by the Roadwater Players, Director: Peter Jaques, 9-13 May 2017, at the Village Hall, Roadwater, Somerset. I’ve recently returned to this script and am putting finishing touches to what I hope will be an upgrade with fresh comedic ideas that arose from excellent performances by a valiant group of actors. (More soon.)

extracts
The Roadwater Players Rehearsing Hot

 

 

 

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For more details or media enquiries please contact my PUBLICITY AGENT

 

Auton ANECDOTES

 

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