Hey there ~
NOIR is Back ... AT THE BIJOU!
We know you had a shiny Christmas
( Santa's on the BIJOU payroll. We cover all angles. )
Kick back the last week of this helluva year with Ian's fly-by ~
By Ian Ayris
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Uncle Mildred lives upstairs. He don't go out much.
I remember him when I was a kid, me Uncle Mildred. He was Uncle Frank back then. Used to make me laugh, he did. Proper laugh. Used to take me fishin of a weekend, sometimes. And we'd talk, about this and we'd talk about that. Make models as well, we did.
Aeroplanes, tanks, armoured cars. All World War Two. Airfix kits, you know. He'd come home with one, make this big thing of gettin it out the box, lay all the plastic frames with the parts on over the table. Then we'd look at the instructions together like they was some sort of magic spell, like if we followed em right close, when we'd put all these bits of plastic together the whole thing would sort of come alive, or something. Mad, really. But it felt so real back then.
The paintin, that was always the first thing. Most people think you paint your model when it's done, but no, that's for your amateurs. Me and Uncle Mildred, we weren't never no amateurs. You got to paint your bits while they're still on the frames, see, cos if you wait till you've stuck em all together, you can't get to some of them - you know, the inside ones - and then it's too late. And that's what the frames are there for, to hold onto whilst your paintin them little bits.
Once you've painted your bits, and left the whole lot to dry, then you can start makin your model. Again, your amateur will start breakin the bits off by hand, and he'll get big lumps of the frame come off with em. Then he's got to sand them lumps down, then paint em up and more often than not he'll sand too much off and the bits won't fit. No, you need a blade to do the job proper. A Stanley blade, if you got one, if not a razor blade'll do. Slice it off as close to the frame as you can, and you save yourself a hell of a job later.
Got to we were makin so many models, me an Uncle Mildred, that I began seein the whole world in pieces, waitin to be put back together again, and painted. I remember sittin in assembly once at school, in the main hall. While everyone was singing 'All Things Bright and Beautiful', I turned em all into plastic in me head - teachers and kids - and was stood there workin out how much paint me and Uncle Mildred would need to paint em all.
Once you got your model finished, you got to mount it. You can't just have it lyin round on a shelf, you got to give it a home. The planes, they was easy. Some strong cotton - white's best - tie a bit to the tail, another bit round the propeller cap, then wrap em both round a bent nail comin out the ceiling. The ground machines - tanks, and that - you got to have some sort of what's called a 'diorama'. It's like a scene, like a battle scene or something. One thing I'd do was take some of them plastic bag tie things, the ones with the little bit of wire down the middle. Strip away the outside, wrap the wire round a pencil, slip it off the end, and, hey presto - barbed wire.
That's just an example.
And Uncle Mildred would have all these square bits of wood in the shed. I'd paint em with glue, throw on this special powder from the hobby shop - green for grass - yellow for sand, etc., etc., then shake it off like a glitter picture. I used to get this feelin when all the powder was shook off that I was holdin a bit of the world in me hands. I remember tellin Uncle Mildred it felt like bein God. Uncle Mildred said that's exactly what it feels like, son.
I remember one time, Uncle Mildred chiselled a river through the middle of one bit of board for this tank we made. Painted the river bed all sorts of blues and whites and greens, he did, then filled what he'd chiselled out with see through glue. Looked like proper water.
After Uncle Mildred had his funny turn, he went off into a world of his own. Dad reckoned he should have been put in a nuthouse, but Mum weren't havin none of that. She cleared out the box-room and Uncle Mildred moved in there. And that was it for the models. Too busy paintin his nails and putting his hair up to be bothered with them.
So, I grew up. And I left me model-making days behind. A man's gotta graduate, you know, move on to bigger and better things.
I found this badger, once. In the road. Squashed. And I had this thought.
Dad always kept a shovel handy. Kept it in the hall. Used it to chase off the Jehovah's Witnesses. So I legged it home sharpish, scraped that badger off the tarmac, and brought it back.
Taxidermy's a funny thing. Not much different to the plastic models I done as a kid. Same principles. I got a book from the library, and I had a go. Didn't turn out too well, to be honest. See, if you can, you got to have something decent to work with. Road-kill ain't the best. They're all right for practice, but for a proper job you need to have your specimen unblemished, you know. If you can help it.
Dad never let up about Uncle Mildred. And Mum never let up about anything. Always havin a pop at each other they was. If Dad weren't bangin on about Uncle Mildred, he was havin a go about me. 'About time you thought about leavin home,' he'd say. 'It ain't natural, a man of forty-seven livin like this.' Mum'd tell him to leave off, ruffle me hair and make me a cuppa. Next minute she'd be askin me what I want for me tea and ironin me trousers and tellin me to be careful when I went out at night lookin for dead animals. 'You mind them roads,' she'd say. Began to get right on my nerves, she did.
So I'm buryin this fox in the back garden. A right cock-up. Thought I could make something of it, but just couldn't get the eyes right. Kept fallin out, like they was doin it on purpose. I'm a perfectionist, see. If it ain't right, it ain't right.
Mum comes along.
'Not there, love,' she says. 'Too close to the house.'
I can see out the corner of me eye the curtains move upstairs.
'I do wish you'd find another hobby, love,' she says. 'Something that doesn't involve bringing dead animals into the house and burying them in the garden.'
Dad's at work. Got himself a little job deliverin papers.
'Steven? Steven? Are you listening to me?'
I'm lookin up at the top window. Uncle Mildred's starin down at me, this big grin on his face.
'Steven? Steven?' Stev-'
BANG. I couldn't help it. Mum's layin on the grass, twitchin, half her face caved in with the shovel.
When Dad come home, he weren't best pleased. So I had no choice there.
And Uncle Mildred saw it all. He comes down. We got Mum and Dad laid out in the front room. He's seen me with the animals, Uncle Mildred, took a real interest, you know. I know it's took him back to our old model-makin days. And I know he's thinkin what I'm thinkin. I'm regrettin usin the shovel. Give us a bit of work to do there, it has. But can't be helped, you know.
I finish turnin Mum and Dad to plastic in me head, and Uncle Mildred comes out the kitchen wearin one of Mum's old cast-offs, a Stanley blade in one hand and me old tray of paints in the other. And me, I'm lookin at Uncle Mildred in Mum's old dress, his face all done up like a Victorian prostitute, and he looks so happy. Like the whole world makes sense to him, you know.
That's all I've ever wanted, for the world to make sense. And I suddenly I get this urge, this real, proper urge, you know, to slip into something a little more comfortable . . .
~ ~ ~
I keep em all upstairs, Mum, Dad, and Uncle Mildred. In the back room. I cleared it out, shifted a table in there, laid it out with Mum's best China. Dad's in an armchair in the corner readin a paper, Mum's pourin Uncle Mildred a cup of tea. It's amazin what you can do with a sharp knife, a few paints, and a bucket of Plaster of Paris. And the arsenic paste keeps the flies off, and there's no arguments or nothing.
Mum's eye keeps comin out where I hit her with the shovel - amateur's mistake, that - but I got a whole drawer of marbles to cater for it.
I watch em through a crack in the door on the landin, hours sometimes. All got up in one of Mum's evenin gowns, a bit of lippy, and a smidge of mascara.
Life don't get no better than that.
© Author ~ IAN AYRIS
Cold crimes for DECEMBER decking NOIR NOEL ~ AT THE BIJOU
ILLUSTRATION CREDIT: WW2 Spitfire @ world-war-2-planes.com
|Absolutely*Kate, sailing gusto|
Y'know ... Ian gave me two super stories for our NOIR shows AT THE BIJOU and ... well ... when given the choice of double excellents ... I generally choose ...
B O T H ~
By ~ IAN AYRIS
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
By ~ IAN AYRIS
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It's the other side of town. Everywhere always is. The advert grabbed me soon as I saw it.
Like it was writ just for me.
'Down on your luck? Looking to make a new start? Turn over a new leaf?'
Fair enough. I mean, who wouldn't go for that?
'No qualifications necessary. Thirty thousand a year'
Yep, I'm thinkin. I'm havin some of that.
But then it got . . . well it got a bit odd.
'Must have ginger hair and scar on left side of face.
Applicants fitting description apply directly to Twenty-one Margolyes Street'
I'm thinkin it might be one of them stunt double things, like in the films. Something like that. So off I trot.
That's where I am now. Twenty-one Margolyes Street. Just across the road. It's a big, creepy Victorian gaff. One of them with four floors, a basement ,and hundreds of rooms all dark and dingy with skeletons in every closet, Scooby-Doo bookcases and creakin floorboards, and everything. Trust my bleedin luck. Used to scare me shitless as a kid, all that stuff.
Still, in for a penny, in for a pound as me old nan used to say.
Over the road, there's a bloke turns into the front path of twenty-one. He's a lanky streak of piss. Can't be more than seventeen. Knocks on the door. Ginger hair. Can't see his face proper. Door squeezes open, holds for a second, like whoever's openin it's givin him a right hard look. And then, before you know it, the door's slammed in his face and he's back up the path scratchin his head.
I'm gettin ready to cross the road, when this bus comes speedin past and nearly takes me face off. Not a good start, to be fair. I step back on the pavement and pull meself together. Never thought I'd be this jumpy.
Five years inside does that to a fella.
I take a deep breath. Look both ways like I'm six years old again, and cross the road.
Was all over the papers when I went down. People reckoned I got lucky. They reckoned a five stretch was too short for the likes of me. But what do they know?
My old girl kept all the paper clippins of the trial and after for when I come out. Dunno why she done that. I mean, why the fuck would anyone do that?
The front garden's all nicely kept. Short grass. Pretty flowers in well turned beds. I like that. But then as I'm knockin on the door, I notice out the corner of me eye this garden gnome hanging with a noose round its head under the front window. I'm still lookin at it when the front door creaks open.
I know I was lucky. I had a good brief. And a good brief makes all the fuckin difference in a case like mine. Manslaughter. That's what they give me. But they reckon,everyone reckoned, the truth was writ all over me face.
The truth? There's only me what knows that.
Doors opens full up. Not like with that geezer what was just before me. Wide open. And standin there's this old granny with a tight permed blue rinse, John Lennon specs, and a Steradent smile.
She looks me up and down. Then she takes her little round glasses off, leans forward and peers deep into me eyes.
Got a fair bit of stick when I was inside. All the lags had me up as some kind of sick fuck. And the screws, they weren't much better. Turned a blind eye, they did. Bastards. Brief couldn't help me then.
'Mr . . . ?' she says, straightenin up.
'Fuller. Tommy Fuller. I've come about the -'
And then I realise I got no idea what I come for.
'Come in, Mr Fuller.' She says, movin aside to let me in. 'Take a seat.'
There's just this one seat, against the wall. Plastic and cheap. The sort you get in factory canteens or vistin rooms in the nick. The hall's all gloomy, that sort of in-between light that feels like it's gettin inside you and chokin you and squeezin your brain. I look round. Nothing but darkness reachin further back into the house.
'Mrs Wilkins will see you soon,' she says, the old woman. She gives me a flashy white smile and then the blackness sucks her further up the corridor till I can't see her no more.
Debbie left me. Fucked off with some plumber from Basinstoke. Took the kids with her and I don't reckon I'll ever see em again. Sophie and Abby. My two princesses. My two lovely princesses. Stop it. Stop it you bastard. You promised yourself you was gonna hold yourself together. They'll be all right. Better than all right. You'd only fuck their lives up like you fucked your own.
Ain't that the fuckin truth.
Musty in here. Breathless. Footsteps paddin like slippers on shagpile.
Fuck me. Nearly shit meself. Granny out of nowhere. Different one.
'Mr . . .?'
'F-Fuller. Tommy Fuller.'
'Come with me, please. Mrs Wilkins will see you now.'
And she leads me into the darkness, up stairs, down corridors, more stairs, more stairs, another corridor, all the time passing these doors. These hundreds and hundreds of doors. The light's so shit I'm feelin all over the place, dizzy as fuck. But this old girl, she just keeps on slicin through it like a knife through flesh.
Did I say a knife through flesh?
'Here we are, Mr Fuller,' she says, stoppin outside one of the doors. 'In you go.'
I look at her, as if to say, 'What, just go in?'
And she nods, slow.
Dunno why I'm feelin so tentative about the whole thing. It's this gloomy fuckin place, that's what it is. It's put me right on edge, you know. I reach out for the big brass knob, and fold me hand round it. Pull it towards me. Not a sound from inside, but I step in anyway.
And before I can do a fuckin thing about it, the door crashes shut behind me, all sorts of bolts slam into place, and I'm in the pitch fuckin black. And through the walls all I can hear is pummelin and screamin and cryin, and blokes shoutin and beggin for their lives.
So there it is. Fucked. Ginger hair, scar down left side of face. I mean, fuck me. I shoulda known it was a set-up.
Twenty-one Margolyes Street.
Scumfucks like me are all over the papers. Every last fuckin one of us. The papers, they never know the whole truth, but they print what they want anyway. And a lot of the time they know more what they can say. But it's all there if you look hard enough. Between the lines. And these old girls at twenty-one Margolyes Street, they look between the lines. They make notes. Then when you're out it's all over the papers again, and the ladies from twenty-one stick in a little ad, purposely designed to attract scrotes like me, and that's another one off the streets. Another one getting their just desserts.
A bloke inside, he told me once. He said, 'Tommy,' he said. 'Tommy, for what you done, you know you ain't gettin out alive.' He had me up against the wall by the throat at the time. 'And if you do get through your stretch in one fuckin piece, ' he said, 'you'd have wished you'd let me cut your fuckin throat right now.'
And as I'm sittin here in the dark, listenin to the screamin and the beggin and the poundin through the walls, and I can feel the blackness eatin at me insides and the bad air goin in through me nose and me ears and me mouth, I'm thinking, oh yes.
Don't I fuckin wish . . .
© Author ~ IAN AYRIS
Cold crimes for DECEMBER decking NOIR NOEL ~ AT THE BIJOU
ILLUSTRATION CREDIT: KnobsandHardware.com
WELL HERE YA GO, FOLKS:
|AUTHOR IAN AYRIS|
PUSHIN' ABIDE BY ME
AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE!
Ian Ayris sits down with
AT THE BIJOU's Kevin Michaels
and weighs in on Brit Grit, writing,
and dark places that bring
tears to your eyes . . . .
|AUTHOR KEVIN MICHAELS|
AT THE BIJOU COHORT
AND JERSEY TOUGH GUY
KM: Your writing is filled with a dark, threatening subtlety. Where do you find your inspiration and which writers influence your style?
IA: I think my writing is most heavily influenced by Virginia Woolf and perhaps, Ernest Hemingway. They are two writers I consider that were able to really push the boundaries of what writing could be.
KM: I get Hemingway but Virginia Woolf? Seriously?
IA: Virginia Woolf, she could dig so deep inside, not caring about sentence structure or how it should be written – a sentence could fill a whole page and she wouldn't care. The important thing was she could delve deep into the darkness, bring it out and let it flow. Hemingway and Woolf dug deep into their own darkness and had the courage to bring it out and lay it open on the page for the world to see.
KM: And how has that translated and impacted your own writing?
IA: Hemingway and Woolf have inspired me not to care about style. I always write in the vernacular of the East End of London, where I sort of come from – although, in truth, mine is more of what's called an Estuary accent. Similar to the
East End dialect, but not quite.
KM: Sounds like your style is also rooted in your own history. By your own admission you’ve had some low paying jobs.
IA: The people I've worked with, they've been my biggest inspiration. Like I said, all my jobs have been low paid, working class type of jobs…. right at the bottom of the ladder. And the people I've worked with, none of them choose to work in these places. They just ended up there. The atmosphere was often resentful, a lot of anger, a lot of wondering how we ended up in these places, what life choices we made to get us to this point.
The respect I have for these people leads me to construct, quite unconsciously, my stories in a way in which the central character may do or say some quite dark and depraved things. I want the reader to go away wondering if they were in that character’s position, with that character's history, if they wouldn't have said or done the exact same thing.
KM: For more than ten years you’ve worked as a counselor and supervised other counselors in one of the most deprived areas of
. What do you draw from that as a
IA: To be in a room with a broken soul and being able to hold out a hand and go with them to their darkest places, that brings tears just thinking about it. There is courage in broken people….that's why the characters in my stories are all broken, in varying degrees. And it's my job as a writer, same as a counselor, to take them to their darkest place and show them how courageous they really are.
KM: You have a strong connection with a number of crime writers in The UK (a talented lot that includes Paul D Brazill, Nick Quantrill, and Nigel Bird among others).
IA: They're a great bunch. And there's loads of them, so they'll forgive me if I don't name them all. The term Brit Grit now seems to be a sort of banner we can all rally around, and it's a lot of fun to know how many like-minded writers there really are here in Old Blighty. The biggest influence they all have on me – every one – is that sense that we're all in this together.
backstage and centerstage,
an AT THE BIJOU star,
releasing his latest sure shot
~ DIG TWO GRAVES ... 'reals off' one of the
classiest author reviews on Ian Ayris's
ABIDE WITH ME:
Then there is Abide With Me from Ian Ayris. Ian is British and I've been a fan of his shorts for a while now. Ian stood out to me as having a very distinct voice. Very British and one I could always hear in my head as I read, you know? I was thrilled to hear he had a novel coming out and I was so keen to have one I ended up slipping through the Amazon cracks and ended up accidentally with a copy of the book a full five months (I think) before it comes out. Since I told Ian I got one in the mail they have stopped the presses and no more will be let loose in the wild until the actual release date.
Well, keep your eyes out for that because Abide With Me is one you will want to add to your list. I guess technically it is a novella. It's short anyway, but it reads very deeply. It is a crime story of sorts, but really it is quite a bit more and the crime tag will do it a disservice. It is a finely drawn character study of two young men in a working class British neighborhood growing up in the turbulent 70s and 80s.
John, our narrator, is a fully realized character with flesh on his bones and blood in his veins. The details and finely drawn characters let me immerse myself in a world I don't know at all but completely understood through the writing.
And then that voice! Ayris creates a world of language that transported me. And isn't that what fiction is all about? John's simple street language isn't fancy but it fits the character. Whenever I would dig into Abide With Me, I left Southern California and was dropped into a rain-soaked neighborhood of row houses and school yards, prisons and football pitches. I didn't always know what John was saying, though the slang became more clear as I went along and I feel like I could hold my own if I was dropped in a London suburb tomorrow. Sure, there's too much soccer... I mean football. But that is the world of Abide With Me and I wouldn't change a thing.
It really isn't until the last third that it becomes a true crime novel and by that point you have such an investment in the characters that what they go through in the finale is that much more heartbreaking.
It's literary, it's crime, it uses the word 'fuck' more than anything I've ever seen in my life. It is so much more than what the 150 page count will make you expect. Expect to be moved and taken to a whole different world that is as real as your own.
AT THE BIJOUlauds
classy publisher Caffeine Nights
for a tempting two-chapter
free offering of the March, 2012
publication of ABIDE WITH ME ~ HERE.
And somehow, you get in sync with the world better.
I sure do. (all of the above)
LINK delicious INFLUENCES of ~
LINKS TO OUR NOIR SO FAR ~
and Absolutely*Kate so far . . . .
NOIRTORIOUS COMING ATTRACTIONS ~
Every-other-day cold crimes . . . decking NOIR NOEL in December & beyond:
Paul Brazill ... Kevin J Mackey ... Leon Jackson Davenport
Steven Miscandlon ... BR Stateham ...
Sal Buttaci ... Julian Bramwell Slater ...
Helen Howell ... Christina Vincent ... Charlie Wade ...
Darren Sant ... Aidan Fritz ... Lily Childs ...
Vic Watson ... Fiona Johnson ... Jack Bates ...
Thomas Pluck and the Lost Children benefit show
New Year challenge, new NOIR Publisher, BLASTED HEATH
editor John Kenyon, publisher of GRIFT magazine
with stories of GRIMM TALES' greats
Rex Pickett picks a surprise ...
plus . . . return of our pally, the great Randisi ...
AT THE BIJOU'S Harry B Sanderford ... Matthew Magda ...
plus return pizazz by our masters of the ceremonious ~
Kevin MadDog Michaels and Absolutely*Kate ...
Why ~ Who knows who's getting into the act? . . .
RAYMOND CHANDLER may be channeled!
DECEMBER decks NOIR NOEL AT THE BIJOU