A Life Of Fiction CLIX

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Relaxing: No matter how prolific you are you can’t write every minute of the day. You might have written ten million words, but you still need some down time away from the keyboard, typewriter or pen. Frank Richards, who wrote the Billy Bunter books, apparently wrote one hundred million words. That is a staggering amount of work. I had had no idea that he had written so much. I think that, back when I was a kid, I only read one of the Billy Bunter books. I’m guessing that he wrote a lot more than just Billy Bunter. But I guess that he, too, needed to relax. It’s good to get away from the words for a time. Your writing mind needs downtime in the same way that your body needs sleep.

You can relax in different ways. I’m sure that I don’t need to tell people how to relax. For me I play games on my Playstation 2 – perhaps a little more than I should. Sometimes I feel guilty about playing a game for an hour or so, when I could have spent that hour writing.

Or sometimes – rarely, now – I go to the pub. Having a drink is a good way to relax. My mind unwinds and my troubles disappear, even if only for a short time.

The last St Patrick’s Day I went to a gig. This is rare for me, as I have a few mental problems relating to leaving the house and being around strangers. But a couple of my friends are in a band called Murphy’s Law, and you are supposed to support your friends, aren’t you?

The gig was at a pub called Katie Fitzgerald’s in Stourbridge. It is one of only four boozers in the local area which I like. The others are the Plough and Harrow near Mary Stevens’ Park, the Saddlers pub on Lye Cross, and the Maverick at the end of Brettall Lane. Sorry if the names of these areas are meaningless to you. But these are all good pubs, which all serve real ale. If you are in the area you should check them out (although Katie’s is not the sort of place which comes alive until late).

Anyway, I was at Katie Fitzgerald’s. I think that it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Stourbridge. I’m sure that I read, somewhere, that the building dated back to the 16th century, although it has not always been a pub.

I’m not going to go through a list of the entire set, because I didn’t scribble it down on my notepad. But I will try and give you an idea of the gig – although if you have been in a pub on St Patrick’s Day you will probably be able to guess what it was like.

The place had a micro stage in what might otherwise be called a cellar – a room downstairs from the main bar. But calling it a cellar is doing it a disservice. The place is on two levels, and the back of the pub is higher than the front in relation to the ground, if that makes any sense.

I stood near the front, a beer in my hand, watching my friends go through their paces, belting out Irish standards and old Pogues’ songs. I stayed standing for as long as I could. But severe pains in my lower back – I am not a well man – forced me to sit on the floor, everybody else standing tall around me. At least until one of my legs went to sleep. After a mid session break I retreated to a couch at the far end. I spent the rest of the gig there. I could at least hear my friends play, even if I could no longer see them. The heads of too many idiots were in the way. But I could hear Murphy’s Law and they sounded good.

Smoke that wasn’t – from electronic cee-gars – floated through the air like early mist at dawn. There was a female leprechaun with an artificial blonde beard. She was at the front of the spectators, dancing by shuffling from side to side. There were green and black top hats and not a chocolate in sight. One day a year people break out these Guinness hats. Pure genius.

I did scribble down a couple of songs which they played that night. Yes, I had a notebook with me, despite the fact that I was taking the evening off from my work.


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