Thursday, 5 September 2013
'The tea was dishonest, tasting vaguely of shrimp…' And here is another from the series, Fables 8 : Modern Times. Where is this one set? A down-at-heel encampment for low-key dissidents perhaps, engaged upon their work of tidying up anomalies in official pronouncements, where jocular camarderie is not quite enough to still the slivers of threat that poke through the cracks: 'bring me the silver of your stream, says the knife grinder, bring me its golden light.' It ends - as a number of my stories seem to these days - with thistledown upon the air. The rather lovely pea green wrappers are made from Ruscombe Mill's Forest Green Wove 180gsm paper.
I have printed up a number of stories, written between 2006 and the present day and linked through their singular method of composition, as a series of 'fables'. Here is number 6 - The Walk. My usual ambivalence to titles is plain as the words don't actually appear on the cover, which instead spreads the load between the series, an image - taken, as all the rest in the run, from Wills's 1923 set of Gardening Hints - and the first line of the tale. As for the story, it's a walk of sorts, engaged upon by a man of less than moderate means and fewer prospects, that commences with the promise of springtime hemlines and ends in the middle of his outing, between his destination and his desk. And I rather like the 'Gardening Hints' card I used for the cover, on two ways of staking runner beans. Thus far, I have always gone for the more traditional method of 'A', but can see the benefits of 'B' - a sort of hop twine arrangement to which I shall give serious consideration next year.
The first in a series of homages to various writers, as encapsulated by altered phonograph cylinder packaging. Algernon Blackwood is a rather overlooked writer these days, whose real subject - despite numerous lurid book jackets trying to persuade us otherwise - is wonder; dreadful wonder at times maybe, but wonder nevertheless, most often of that magical childlike quality that makes the unlikeliest of connections between things which adults seek to reason away. But the children know best. The Blackwood cylinder uses elements of his books The Education of Uncle Paul (1909), The Human Chord (1910) and The Promise of Air (1918). The song title - 'Between Yesterday and To-morrow' - is credited to 'Nixie's Woodwinds' (Nixie's vision in The Education of Uncle Paul of the dawning and unfurling of the winds is still extraordinary), and the cylinder is filled with feather down. The top cylinder label actually had the word 'Camplife' written on it by someone in the past; reading about Blackwood's experiences in the Canadian wilderness among other places, it seemed an eminently fitting word to leave in place.