Free Nelson Mandela

Another snapshot from Edina Street, the ongoing sequel to Countries of the World. The central characters Donnie and Lexo (aka The Claw) ponder the release of Nelson Mandela…

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“Is that him now, Mandela?”

“Aye. Looks a bit wobbly on his feet.”

“So would you like, after twenty one years in captivity.”

“It’s longer than that.”

“I’m referring to the Special AKA, Donnie son. Free Nelson Mandela and all that, ken?”

“I know. That song wasn’t out last week though, was it? Try twenty seven.”

“Aye, you’ll be right enough.”

“All those bands who played Sun City must be feeling like right numpties now, eh?”

“What do you mean, like?”

“Queen. Status Quo. Rod Stewart… Playing in South Africa to white only audiences a few years back.”

“Oh?”

“Paul Simon too. Mind o Graceland?”

“Is that no where Elvis lived?”

“It was, aye. But Paul Simon went to South Africa to make his Graceland record. Got all these local musicians in.”

“Gied them work then, did he no? Brought them over on tour. Gave them their big break. ..”

“Aye, that’s what some folk say. But he broke the boycott, didn’t he?”

“Ah, well. Tell me this then. Why was it called Graceland if it was made in South Africa?”

“No fucking idea. That’s Paul Simon for ya, eh? The guy who wanted us to call him Al.”

“Aye. Weirdo.”

Primal Scream

Another taster from my work-in-progress Edina Street…
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I bump into Kirsty and Bob, or whatever his name is, snuggled up in a right cosy looking corner of Pearce’s. Would’ve gone somewhere else if I’d clocked them first. But I’ve got a pint of 80 Shilling in my hand now.
“Alright, Donnie?”
“Oh aye. What yous been up to?”
It’s sticking in my craw to ask. Should’ve blanked them. And he’s still wearing that stupid fucking hat, like the one Dylan has on the cover of his first album.
“Just been to see Primal Scream up at the Venue.”
“Aye? Good gig was it?”
“No bad. Thought they were better the last time I saw them but….”
The cap adds weight to his opinion of course. Gives him the air of an NME journo or something.
“I didn’t miss anything then? They’ve run their course, I reckon.”
“Kirsty enjoyed it. Didn’t you?”
He ruffles her hair. Smiles. Patronising bastard, so he is.
“Aye, it was great. I think they get better and better.”
“I thought Kirsty said you were into them?”
“I still like Sonic Flower Groove. But they’ve kinda turned into rock gods now, have they no?”
So the lovebirds had been speaking about me? Well, at least I’m not totally out of the picture… But this pint of 80 tastes very bitter.

Saint Patrick’s Day (1991)

Another snapshot of life on Edina St, the sequel to Countries of the World.

Donnie and Alex (aka The Claw) are in the pub.
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– Why are we drinking to some Irish saint?
– We’re not. We’re celebrating the release of the Birmingham Six.
– That was on Thursday, Donnie.
– Aye. But we were skint then, weren’t we?
– Yeah, but… We’re nae even proper Fenians.
– Doesn’t matter what foot you kick with, Alex. It’s not about that, is it? Some things just aren’t right.
– Ok. How can you be sure they’re innocent these Birmingham blokes?
– You think they’d be letting them loose as an act of goodwill for St Patrick’s Day or something? Humiliating the Crown Court and what have you so that half a dozen more Micks could go out on the lash this weekend? The fact is, they’d been charged with handling explosives when they were playing fucking Snap.
– Aye, whatever. I’ve got the power…
– Well, ya werena singing that when ya were manhandled into the Black Maria the other week. The Polis never tell porkies, eh? You’ve never been slapped about in the back of the van or the cells? They’ve never tried to pin other stuff on ya?
– I give as good as I get… but you’re right enough. Filth.
– The only reason these boys are out is coz the establishment knows it hasn’t got a leg to stand on. And neither will you after you’ve had a six pints of the black stuff… We’re going to do the right thing for those unlucky fuckers.
–  I’ll drink to that. But lighten up and put something decent on the jukebox, eh? It’s supposed to be happy hour ya miserable cunt.

 

Cover to Cover

COTW-3The Countries of the World e-book version has had a makeover. I’ve gone for a simpler design although the paperback version with the flags will not change. I also think the new e-book cover helps Brian Prout’s excellent photo of Cathkin Park in Glasgow to stand out more. Further experiments with the e-book cover are on the way.

Walls Come Tumbling Down

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In this wee extract from Edina Street, the sequel to Countries of the World, two of the main characters, Donnie (the narrator from Countries) and Alex (aka The Claw) are watching events unfold on their TV…

– What’s going on?
– They’re tearing down the wall.
– Which wall?
– The Berlin Wall, ya fuckwit.
– Fuck me. When did all this kick off?
– When you were safely tucked up in your wankpit.
– Fucking hell, you go to bed and wake up and the world has changed.
– Look at them hacking chunks out of it. Bet that’ll be a souvenir worth a bob or two one day. There’ll be bits of it in fancy exhibitions in the British Museum and what have you.
– Or the headquarters of the Fourth Reich… Mark my words. It’s only a matter of time before they start shooting the fuckers. I tell ya.
– I’m going out for a paper.
– Oh? I doubt if there’ll be anything about the wall in it.
– Aye, but the Hibs were playing last night.
– Feeling flush are you? It’s fags we’re needing here. Or skins and baccy. Something smokeable.
– Haud on… Didn’t Paul Weller predict this?
– What? The Hibs score? That’ll save you buying a rag then.
– The Style Council. Walls Come Tumbling Down, you know?
– That was fucking years ago. Would that make Bowie a sage if they find some kinna pond life on Mars?
– Aye, you’ve got a point. But the Style Council song wasna that long ago.
– Which walls was he taking about though? The Walls of Jericho? Hadrian’s Wall…
– Both of them came down yonks ago, did they no?
– There’s still bits of Hadrian’s Wall left.
– Aye, but not enough, if you ask me…

Excerpt from Edina Street © Steven Porter 2013

The Next Big Thing

Thanks to the voice of South Queensferry, Brendan Gisby, for inviting me to take part in something called The Next Big Thing. It’s a promotional device by which an author is invited to answer ten set questions about his or her latest work-in-progress and then to tag three more authors who are also working on a new book. A bit like a chain letter, I suppose, but with the nicest of motives.

So here goes…

What’s the working title of your book?

Edina Street.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s a sequel to the novel Countries of the World. When a friend asked me if there would be a follow up I said “No” rightaway. I’d never thought about it, but then I began to wonder… why not?

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary Fiction I’d say. It could be of interest to music fans, especially those who like the sort of stuff John Peel or college radio might have played in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Those who appear in the type of films directed by Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows or Ken Loach. I could have seen Robert Carlyle as biker The Claw, but Bob’s getting on a bit now. I really like Paddy Considine as an actor but I’m not sure for which part. Eddie Marsden, who appeared in Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur, would be excellent to play a slimy and opportunistic Edinburgh landlord.

In Countries of the World, the female character Eileen was described as looking a bit like Dee Hepburn in Gregory’s Girl. But Eileen has outgrown the flick fringe hairstyle now.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Breogan boys hit Auld Reekie and get lost in music.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’d like to find a small independent publisher because I’m a writer with an artistic mentality. Self-promotion and marketing are not my strong points. But I think I’ve learned a few things from Countries of the World experience. This novel will be more focused than ‘Countries’, which branched out into so many areas. In Edina Street, the story will take place in Edinburgh (with occasional trips up north) and will only cover a year or two in the early 90’s.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still writing and am nowhere near finished to be honest. Depending on other commitments, I’d hope to have it ready to send to publishers before the end of 2013.

What other books would you compare the story to within your genre?

I guess there could be a comparison with Nick Hornby in that he moved from the football theme in Fever Pitch to music with High Fidelity. I think my main characters are rougher and readier, although one or two might set their sights higher than Edina Street as time goes on.

And Trainspotting always seems to raise its head now whenever you set a novel in Edinburgh featuring a crowd of youths or twenty somethings. I don’t think my characters are quite so desperate and my stuff is generally lighter than that, without being escapist. So it may be somewhere between these two novels. I’m not a huge fan of either writer really, although I did enjoy Trainspotting and High Fidelity.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As in much of my work, the ending in Countries of the World was open and there was a lot of scope to continue developing characters, provided I shifted the main vehicle away from football. It’s an opportunity to examine one of my other main loves: music. And perhaps look at how commerce, formats and attitudes to music have changed in the last 20 years or so.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Those who’ve read ‘Countries’ will be familiar with some of the characters and the story up to this point. But I hope to write it in such a way that those who haven’t, won’t miss out on anything important. Edina Street is a sequel of sorts, but I would like to think new readers of my work will understand it and, perhaps, be tempted to go back and read ‘Countries’ as a prequel.

My Next Big Thing nominees are:

Zack Wilson lives in Sheffield and is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and some journalism. Debut novel Stumbles and Half Slips is available from Epic Rites Press of Canada. He works as a Rugby League correspondent and is an Anglo-Scottish follower of the Scotland football team for his sins.

Ian Ayris from Essex is the author of the excellent debut novel Abide with Me, which he has recently followed up with One Day in the Life of Jason Dean.

Bill Robertson lives in Blackburn… Aberdeenshire, that is. He is an active member of the Lemon Tree Writers group in the Granite City. His short stories have appeared in anthologies and won awards and he has some books available on Kindle including the novella When the Revolution Comes and something you might just about be in the mood for at this time of year: the cracking Christmas story Reindeer Dust.

England v Scotland 4th June, 1977

The Sex Pistols were officially number two in the charts. God Save the Queen was kept off the no.1 spot by Rod Stewart. It may have been a conspiracy to save the UK from embarrassment in Silver Jubilee week. I have no recollection of the Pistols sailing down the Thames in that famous publicity stunt. It would be a few years before I really knew who they were. In any case, Rod was one of us. Elvis meanwhile, didn’t have long to go. I didn’t rate him anyway. He was an imposter. How could any self-respecting rock star wear more Brylcreem than Dad? The king is dead, long live the king.

Next to a poster of Kenny Dalglish, on my bedroom wall, was the sleeve of the Official Album of the Scottish World Cup Squad for Argentina. In the loft in Breogan, I still have the LP with the photo of the teams taking the field at Wembley. The Scotland players in traditional dark blue shirts with a diamond trim on the short sleeves, white shorts and red socks, also with diamond tops. Bruce Rioch leads the way, followed by goalkeeper Alan Rough. Danny McGrain has turned to glance back at the crowd and sees a few Saint George’s crosses surrounded by scores of Lion Rampants, Saint Andrews crosses and tartan scarves. Behind McGrain are the scorers that day, Gordon McQueen and Kenny Dalglish, followed by Joe Jordan, a skipping Tam Forsyth alongside deep-breathing Willie Donachie, then comes Don Masson, Willie Johnston gazes at his feet and Asa Hartford is virtually hidden. As they walk past one of the goals, two English players glance at the Scottish team. Phil Neal prefers to look at the turf. The Sassenachs all look a little pensive about facing Scotland, and well they might because it was a golden year for our national team.

Scotland peaked too early, leaving us to wonder what might’ve been had the World Cup taken place in 1977. Scotland’s overall record read, won 6, drew 2, lost 2. They topped off the year by beating Wales and reigning European Champions Czechoslovakia in the qualifiers. Their only losses were insignificant friendly defeats in Rio de Janeiro and East Berlin. Before that, Scotland won the British International Championship by drawing with Wales and beating Northern Ireland and England. The Scots had warmed up for the home internationals with a 3-1 win over Sweden at Hampden. Substitute Joe Craig found the net with his first touch, a header, thus scoring before he’d kicked a ball for his country. It can be a funny old game, right enough.

From Countries of the World © 2011 Steven Porter/Breogan Books

Ossie’s Nightmare

The day after the invasion, Osvaldo Ardiles played for Spurs in a 2-0 FA Cup Semi-Final win over Leicester City. Ossie claims he was cheered by Spurs supporters while Foxes fans shouted abuse. Evidence that public opinion in the Midlands was more behind the war than in London? Of course not. Just another example of beliefs and principles being put aside due to football fever. For ninety minutes, the tribe comes before the nation.
Tottenham coach, Keith Burkinshaw, said he was disgusted by the behaviour of the Leicester fans. He had to defend his player but Spurs fans would’ve done the same had Ardiles been playing for the opposition. During the crisis, Burkinshaw went to visit Ardiles in Alicante, where Argentina were preparing for the World Cup. Ossie handed in a transfer request, Burkinshaw didn’t want to lose him for good. The resulting compromise was a year’s loan deal with Paris Saint-Germain.
In My Life in Football, Ossie claimed that politics should be left out of sport. But athletes can get caught up in wars like anyone else. They are not immune to political fallout, although they often suffer little more than disappointment caused by cancelled plans. However, Ossie was personally touched by the Falklands War. His cousin Jose Ardiles was killed in action at the beginning of May and holds the sad distinction of being the first Argentine pilot to die in the conflict.

From Countries of the World, Breogan Books 2011