¦ Dialling in from Hayling Island ¦
10:12 am on Sunday 4th March 2012.
I’m sitting in the large lounge, at the back where the dinning table sits near the wall; I’ve got the laptop set up there, a radiator behind me keeping the day’s grey-rainy chill out of my bones. Sitting here I’m facing the wide window-wall opposite, and through that I can observe the ocean that is only 30 ft beyond the boundary of the house. It’s moody out there. Rain has speckled the massive window and droplets run down in rapid rivulets every few moments.
There are no lights on and the colour of the sky is seeping into the room; but as some of my friends say, I’m a mushroom and I get a kick out of this kind of atmosphere.
I’ve got a new soundtrack to the moment, an album by Aes Dana, called Perimeters. Very very good.
I got down here Friday morning, took the day off work, hired a car (I’m wary of my Rocket doing long journey’s at the moment) and drove down here. Big Pete, who this house belongs to, was there to greet me with a 6ft 2″ hug and big grin. He’s been here since Wednesday. He lives in Newcastle and until recently was the neighbour of my parents place up there…. but that’s all dead now.
The drive down was fantastic.
The whole morning was shrouded in drifting banks of fog.
Last week I discovered an album by my guilty pleasure, The Alan Parsons Project, one that I’d not heard before. I ordered it on CD, knowing I’d be doing this drive in a hire car, knowing it wouldn’t have input for my Mp3 player. And now that album is the soundtrack to this bubble experience. The album is Eve. 1979 and for me, it dials into the other albums by Alan Parsons Project and conjures up memories of being in Norway in the summer of 1980…. I’m 9 years old, my older cousin Bjorn who was camped out in the basement of the house in Ski… me discovering the Pyramid album on vinyl, the spooky start with the chiming of twelve bells, the fantastic sleeve art – which ignited my fascination with the Pyramids of Giza – and hence the flavour of the novel, God Seed.
Driving down with random sunbeams lancing through the fog and lighting up the landscape; the 1970s soundtrack… I was smiling and finger tapping the steering wheel and singing along. Me, the happy camper.
Friday night. Out with Pete to the local; a salty-seadog kind of place that’s as rough as the bottom of a barrel of barnacles but Pete’s got part way to being considered part of the community… not an Islander but certainly regular enough. The place sells Doom Bar so I was tres happy.
Back home Pete pulled out half a pig that had been slow-roasting in the oven, stuffed with garlic, coriander and chilli…served with rice and an amazing peanut sauce. We ate until we could barely move.
Saturday morning I was awake before dawn and lay in the room with the windows open to the dark, and the pounding boom and hiss of the surf crashing along the shore outside. As the sun fought its way through the mist smothering the sea horizon, I sat up in bed and supped fresh strong coffee. Some people would have got texts about this moment. :o)
Saturday was less about me doing the big 6 mile walk to the far end of the island and back, and more about me sitting here, working on the laptop, interspersed with Pete and I playing Fury of Dracula (the copy of the boardgame that Richy and I played so incessantly back in 1990, up in the front attic room at 54 Osbourne Avenue, in Jesmond, the dormer window overlooking the graveyard there).
I finished putting together the anthology of short stories I’m planning to release soon; Songs of Spheres. 15 short stories, each one with a brief introduction and words about where I was when I wrote them. Actually the introduction is interesting to write, it covers some of the key moments and encounters that have shaped my favourite stories.
This morning, sitting up in bed with a mug of coffee again, windows open despite the freezing wind howling into the room (there’s me with serious bed hair wrapped in a thick knitted green jumper), I was thinking maybe I should take March off… stop the whole creative obsession for a while and give my brain a break. Fat chance. As I sat there, relaxing, staring at the rain sweeping in from the ocean… I had an idea for a whole new murder mystery. And then the ideas crashed in upon the spongy shores of my mind, one afer the other… and I spent an hour and 2 mugs of coffee sitting there scribbling them down in my brown leather notepad from Santiago. Mayhem At The Manor. 2 bloody corpses and 7 suspects. Nobody is innocent but who is guilty? And was it murder or just a mad accident? I’m planning on basing a bunch of character roles (for people to play) based on Bullshot Crummond; Sir Henry (from Rawlinson End); Dr Frankenstein (Gene Wilder style); plus some others. The intention is to make it mad and funny for players to read through and then play, defending their actions whilst trying to uncover the truth. “Mayhem At The Manor: 7 stories but only 1 truth”.
Sunday morning and here I am. I’ve just finished the cover design for Songs of Spheres. Very pleased. Pete left about an hour ago, taxi ride to the airport. I’m going to hang out here until the afternoon then do the drive back to Bristol; 3 hours or less, depending on how bad the rain gets.
And then in 2 weeks time I’ll be back again. Another hire car (tank) with four of the Yellow Dawn player group; another weekend of non-stop role-playing. Horror on the Orient Express, Yellow Dawn style. It’s great to have the new rulebook actually finished and there in our hands to use and play!