Category Archives: Extract

Encyclopaedia Sampler

Hello there. As our encyclopaedia project approaches the final issues, we’ve put together a downloadable little Sampler – or pick it up from various places in Kent if you want to see it the way it was intended, all folded up and pocket-sized.

The next issue should be out… soon.

Picture of the sampler
ME4's Sampler

SampleSunday 3

An extract from a play about a group of friends in the ten years leading up to the Millennium.

1) Blood and Tears
1989. One year before the accident: 3.26AM.

A bedroom in a house-share. Goth posters on the wall; a single bed. The sound of fairground music, almost too quiet to hear, introduces BEATIE.

Beatie: early 20s. Odd Scottish/Cockney accent. Long dreadlocks. Piercings. Many tattoos. Fleecy jogging pants, black lycra sleeveless top. Cross-legged on the bed, nursing a blanket. A small rotating table-top lamp, projecting a swirl of stars and planets on the wall.

*Beatie and Edie are not aware of each other to start with, but become more attuned to each other as the scene moves on.

BEATIE: (gulps from water, sprawls on bed.) I’m soooo thirsty. You drink like a fish… I drink like a fish whenever. Scottish… 😉 Funny expression. I wonder what the etymology of it is. Etymology is a go-ood word. It’s one of Kieran’s favourite words, he’s always using it. Kayla says it’s because he wants to impress me. Saucy, Kayla thinks, she doesn’t know the half of it. Serious. Urghh. Wants to settle down. Do the whole commitment thing. Shit, I’ll never make the same mistake my Ma did, finished at 17, kiddies hanging off her, whiles her good for nothin’ hubby was shaggin’ groupies behind her back…

Beatie… short for Beatrice. A tattoo artist. Can’t sleep… Coming down…
(Makes a noise like a firework. Swirling stars increase in strength.)

(Fast) These are my drugs pyjamas. Kayla says it’s very important to have lovely fluffy things to touch when you are coming down. She’s my pal, doing teacher training. Kids, screaming little rug-rats, don’t know how she’ll stand it… 😛

…Watchin’ the cars going by out the window, the lights had this crazystreaky effect, like when you take a photo and the exposure’s too slow, and something’s moving. Yeah? It was like that. My brother Douggie got me into photography. A mate…

(Slower) …Tomsk, cool name, after a Womble… Tomsk, yeah? She’s a nurse, she’s started going out with a real artist, a painter. Her ‘legendary man’. I’d love to have a crystal ball, I’d love to see if I got me my legendary man… I only fall for arseholes… runs in the family. Tomsk’s bloke has designed her a tat and I’m going to do it next weekend. I’ve got these cool black plastic gloves that don’t show up any of the blood or the ink. Makes the customer feel a bit less nervous… 😉

I haven’t told my Ma I’ve dropped out yet… I can’t tell her that sort of thing, we’re not that sort of family.

(Beatie freezes. Lights dim in the bedroom.)

Lights up on a kitchen. Pine, warm.
1989: 5.59AM
Slight bird song.

EDIE: late 30s, vivacious, Scottish. She is wearing a baggy man’s jumper over a silk nightdress, her hands are floury.

EDIE: It’s so quiet. Now they’re both gone. No slamming doors or squabbling…

Making Ted some fresh bread, nothing better than waking up to fresh bread. It’s an effort but it’s worth it. My Auntie Rose used to bake, she would always say the magic ingredient is to make it with love. When you have kneaded the dough and let it rise twice, it feels soft and cool and has swollen up like a pregnant belly, and you kiss it…

After Beatie left I couldn’t stop crying for a week. My baby, my first-born – gone away. Douglas has moved out too, but he still makes his presence felt, whenever he wants his washing done…

Left me behind… My baby, my babies, are leaving…have left me. I’m alone. Ted not-withstanding. It’s all changing. The world’s changing, challenging, there’s something in the air, some sort of tension, some buzz. It’s like it was at the end of the ‘60s. There was this buzz then. It’s the same now. The Wall coming tumbling down. A sea change. A new Millennium on the way. Nothing to stop it. But some days I feel like… Time passes just like that and then you’re left with nothing if you’re not careful.

(Stops kneading, brushes hair behind ear. Freezes. Kitchen light down. Bedroom light up. Beatie unfreezes and sits back down.)

BEATIE: …There’s not that much blood, not from most people. As long as people are relaxed, it doesn’t hurt… much. Bonfire night. Bit of a mad day. You know, boozin’, smokin’, a little tab for laters, more boozin’, snoggin’, a cab home. The usual London weekend… I lo—ove London. Acid’s fuckin’ brilliant, innit? Drink like a fish, next
morning, no overhang. /We…

EDIE: /I turned on the radio…

(Edie interrupts. Beatie looks annoyed but allows Edie to speak, looks impatient.)

EDIE: …I turned on the radio this morning and they were still on about that terrible Alaskan oil spill. It will take years to clean it up properly they were saying. Seals bloated, downy bodies covered in oil… I saw seals when I was on my honeymoon… the first one, the kids’ father… we went to the Western Isles, I was expecting Beatie. Beautiful soppy things, big brown eyes like dogs, streamlined dogs, swimming in the sea next to our boat. Big brown eyes that looked like they were… crying… I was sick after the seals. I said it was the seasick, but I think even then, even then, so few days into it, I knew it was a huge mistake…

(Starts kneading again. In Beatie’s bedroom, colours begin to explode as Beatie remembers the fireworks display.)

BEATIE: …Went up to see the bonfireworks. Colours brighter; a layer of water between my eyes and the world. You need to be outside when you’re tripping. They were the brightest bonfireworks I’ve ever seen in my life.
Ever. Ever. Ever… Multi-colours burned. Like a dream… Tomsk and Davy, lips locked, that fat friend of somebody, me, Kayla and Jess, a couple of Kay’s dodgy connections and Kier. All pretty off our heads …

EDIE: …I worry about her, them, but her more so than him. You do with girls don’t you? When she came back that evening with her first tattoo, I nearly had kittens. Him, I would have expected it of, but not her. It looked so ugly. She had made her beautiful, soft skin ugly. She was only 15, she had lied to the man in the tattoo parlour… Little minx. Who’d have ever thought that beautiful little child with the blonde kiss curls would turn into the tattooed… tattooing lady? I’m thinking of getting her to do one on me. Maybe her name in a heart. Just (exaggerates French) ‘tres petite’, on my arm on the top. Nanna would be spinning in her grave.

(Knocks back bread, divides it into two bread tins. Covers them with a tea-towel.)

(Beat) I asked her not to call me Mum when we are out. People think she is my younger sister. Someone still as
young as me with a teenager in tow…

(c) Sam Hall, 2011, An extract from ‘Wet Dreams’, a play.

Sample Sunday 2

Groupie no. 52 (title tbc)

‘…my, my baby goodbye…’ (July 2003)

I dreamt about him again last night. I find I’m always dreaming about him these days. Or is it a memory? Or is it something to come or something that will never come? Them. Him and his little family this time. Always the same sort of thing, always the same way, can’t recognise who he is. I don’t know who he is, I don’t know who she is, I don’t know who the baby is. Just can’t see who any of them are. Are they mine? Am I him? Am I her?

He was walking down a familiar street, in my dream, pushing a blue striped baby buggy, with a black and silver rucksack hanging on the back. He was striding along, a tall man with dark hair and the hint of a beard shadowed on his face, wearing a navy jumper and those grey elephant cords. He always wears those. So many things about the dream are clear, like a thing that has happened over and over so many times that you remember it in your sleep, and then you wake up and you are confused and don’t know where you are.

He paused for a minute to look at the sculpture of the lady in the fountain outside the library. He felt the memory of them. Two giggling girls, one bottle of Fairy liquid, one overflowing fountain. The baby gurgled happily as it watched the jets of water and the man (he had kind eyes – he always has kind eyes) leaned over and tickled the baby’s chin. He adjusted the baby’s loose blanket and wheeled the buggy on.

‘Not long now,’ said the man, I can hear his voice but I cannot hear what he sounds like, parking the buggy and sitting on the bench by the bus stop. He got a bottle of juice out of the rucksack and gave it to the child, who started sucking contentedly, letting it slip from his grasp a couple of times so his father would have to replace it.
 
A bus pulled up at the stop and the man looked eagerly looked at the door. An old lady got off, followed by an impatient pair of young lads, it didn’t look as if she had caught this one. But then she was there. The mother. Couldn’t see what she looks like either. I think she must be nice. They seem pleased to see her. They seem to love her. She came over to him and kissed them.
 
And then the dream ended. It’s like I know them. They have been visiting my dreams now for months or years even. Who are they? Who are they? Will I ever know? Will I ever meet them? Am I in the dream? I am them but I am not them. I don’t think so, I don’t think so, no. It’s like they come to me and want to tell me their story, they want me to tell their story. And now I have started forgetting what my story is and what their story is and how it all fits together. If it ever fitted together. I dread their nightly visits but I long for them. I love them (all of them) and I hate them, for keeping me in the dark but keeping my eyes open. I am afraid of the day when I forget me and only remember them. It’s happening already.

I found the pillow was wet when I dreamt I woke up.

(c) Sam Hall, 2011, an extract from my forthcoming novel, tentatively titled Groupie no. 52.

Sample Sunday 1

Alienation

“Excuse me, do you work here?”

The utterance that strikes terror into the heart of all temporary staff in customer service situations. This is mainly owing to the fact that there are, from my point of view, a number of answers to that question, none of which are strictly true.

For the purposes of descriptive and geographical accuracy, I am indeed working and I am also here. That said, should I answer yes to his question the chain of events that follows will almost certainly result in catastrophic damage to the ontological security of said customer.

The reason for this is that he will then reasonably expect me to be able to tell him about the products I am stacking and where others may be found. We would then be on the road to insanity as I would then be forced to admit that firstly, while I may be working I have no idea what I am doing. My second culpable admission will be, that while I am undoubtedly here, I have no real sense of where here actually is.

The problem with this is, that to say no would be palpably absurd. I am without doubt here so far as the customer is concerned as he can see me. Also, the satanic pact that all temporary staff make with their patrons does not allow for any admission of professional confusion. Confusion is the job of the customer and we are here to unburden them of it.

It is indeed a little known fact that the scanners on store entrances serve a double purpose. Quite apart from the detection of light fingered clientèle, it is rumoured by many in the service sector that they somehow lobotomise the individual in question back to the infantile state that is known as being a customer. Hence the face of competency must be maintained at all times lest they become more nervous than is good for them.

If the above passage is beginning to make the reader’s head hurt, try actually living it on a daily basis.

In light of the above it is therefore unsurprising that my only real answer to his innocent request regarding the ordering of flowers was met by a somewhat pained expression on my part followed by a long, drawn out rendition of that well known classic –

“Errr.”

 
(c) Barry Fentiman, 2011, an extract from my forthcoming novel The Odd Job Man.

#SampleSunday

We are going to start taking part in ‘Sample Sunday’.

This is a great new initiative mentioned on http://kindle-author.blogspot.com whereby you can share your work with other writers on Twitter. Here’s how to do it:

1. Every Sunday, post a writing sample on your blog or website. The writing sample can be from a novel-in-progress or it may be a sample from a book that is already published. Other forms of writing—short stories, poetry, nonfiction, plays—are also acceptable, but for maximum effect make sure you promote just one sample each week.

2. Tweet with a link to your sample post. For example, my first sample post this coming Sunday will be Chapter One from my mystery novel in progress, Cold Reading, and the tweet will be:
“Cold Reading,” by David Wisehart http://bit.ly/idTwNQ #SampleSunday — please RT

3. Search for other #SampleSunday tweets.

4. Read other people’s writing samples.

5. If you like a writing sample, please retweet it. If the sample is posted to a blog that allows comments, leave the writer a comment about the sample, saying what you liked about it, or giving constructive feedback. If you’d like to stay connected with the writer, then follow their blog, link to them, etc.

6. Check to see who has retweeted your #SampleSunday, and publicly thank them on twitter. You can also thank retweeters by following them on twitter.