Friday, November 29, 2013

The Alien

No-one seems to know how long the foul thing took to establish a hold on me. They tell me it had been there, growing steadily, for a long time before making its presence clear to me. Within a comfortable fold in my innards it latched on to my flesh, taking advantage of my bodily functions and feeding off my waste. Foul thing. They come in all sizes, I'm told, but this one attained a prodigious level before I knew. But how I knew! At the end of a long day I felt particularly tired, and weak, and nauseous, but when I rose in the night to throw up I suddenly felt the griping, stabbing pains in my side. Over and over again the waves of agony sliced through me. In hospital they photographed my insides, to reveal the ugly, misshapen entity lodged just below my ribs. Immediate thoughts of gory movies sprang to mind, but I have been assured there is no risk of sudden exit through my chest. We have formed a bond, and I must learn to live with my lodger. I am in no immediate danger, as long as I follow the rules. I must feed my alien correctly or face its wrath. It hates saturated fats, and sugar, and anything at all that tastes good, but if I eat them the pains return. Otherwise I rarely notice these days that I share my body cavity with an alien. Rarely.

Because I need to get back into the writing habit.


It's just a gallstone. Don't worry!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Extracts: Philip Larkin. (Because Hull is officially cultured)

Friday Night At The Royal Station Hotel
by Philip Larkin

Light spreads darkly downwards from the high
Clusters of lights over empty chairs
That face each other, coloured differently.
Through open doors, the dining-room declares
A larger loneliness of knives and glass
And silence laid like carpet. A porter reads
An unsold evening paper. Hours pass,
And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds,
Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room.

In shoeless corridors, the lights burn. How
Isolated, like a fort, it is -
The headed paper, made for writing home
(If home existed) letters of exile: Now
Night comes on. Waves fold behind villages.
Don't you just love "the dining-room declares
A larger loneliness of knives and glass"
Hull yesterday won the title of UK City of Culture 2017.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Extracts: Precautions against leprosy

“Now mark this well, for these are the rules you must henceforth live by. You are forbidden to enter a church, a tavern, or a bakery or to go into any place where Christian souls meet. You are forbidden to wash in a stream or drink except of that water which has been placed in your cup. You must not touch food, or garments, or well ropes, or anything that Christian souls might touch. You must never go barefoot. When you buy food you must not hand your coin to the merchant, but place it instead in a bowl of vinegar. You must not eat or drink except in the company of others like yourself. You are forbidden to have intercourse with any woman. You are forbidden to come near a child. If you meet any person on the road you must step off it and warn them not to approach you. You must not pass down any narrow street or lane lest you brush against a Christian soul. You shall sound the leper’s clapper to warn godly souls of your approach. You must wear at all times the appointed garb so that all men may see at once what you are. When you die you shall be buried outside the parish bounds and may God give you grace to bear your suffering in true humility.”
The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Thursday quotes: Terry Pratchett on Books

“If you have enough book space, I don't want to talk to you.”
― Terry Pratchett


It's not an extract. It's a quote.