Lovely review of Dread – The Art of Serial Killing

Dread. published 2015. ‘Recalled to life’ new edition 2018.  And still the slowest ever bandwagon rumbles on. Patient. Relentless. Remorseless. Global hegemony – any day now.

Dark, funny and brilliant

It really is a shame that traditional publishers lack any bravely, because in a braver marketplace Mark Ramsden would be a major writing star. Thankfully Fahrenheit Press are here to pick up the mantle for the industry.

Dread is dark, funny, poetic, beautiful, ugly, gripping, weird, intriguing and ultimately brilliant. This is the book the likes of Chuck Palahniuk and Brett Easton Ellis wish they could write. We’re in the head of a serial killer for much of this book and it’s delightful. Inside Mr Madden’s drug, lust and grief fuelled head we are so far removed from the mainstream we might as well be on another plan at yet the modern cultural (that Madden despises) references are so we’ll observed we are acutely aware that this is the mind of a man warped by life. His relationship with Zero, a captive who is equally twisted, elevates the story to another level. Is it Stockholm syndrome or is she justas twisted as Madden, who knows, or cares, these two brilliant characters keep the pages turning as the gore, sex and violence flow. Outstanding

Thanks Aidan! Mr Thorn is the widely acclaimed author of the excellent When The Music’s Over and much more. He even has a proper, grown up, supercool dayjob. Check him out. @AidanDFThorn

https://fahrenheit-press.myshopify.com/products/mark-ramsden-dread-the-art-of-serial-killing-paperback   £1.69 e book, kindle etc £4.95 pbk

ps Mistress Murder…’Bridget Jones meets 120 Days of Sodom.’ Rude Rom Com – with extreme jeopardy
Mark Ramsden : Mistress Murder (eBook – Kindle Version)

 

Q&A with THE BEARDY BOOK BLOGGER Mistress Murder – Dread – My earlier idiotic self

https://beardybookblogger.com/2019/02/26/fahrenbruary-qa-mark-ramsden-author-of-mistrescs-murder-and-dread-the-art-of-serial-killing-pub-by-fahrenheit-13-mrramsden1-f13noir-fahrenheitpress/

Worth seeing with The Beardy Book Blogger’s superior graphics (Thanks again) but here’s the words.

TBBB Hello you lovely people and a very warm and squidgy welcome to the Beardy Book Blog for what is Day 26 of #Fahrenbruary.

You may be wondering what delights I have in store for you today, well, you can wonder no more for today I bring to you a Q&A from the king of transgressive noir himself, Mark Ramsden. 

Mark is the author of the sexily naughty and spanktastic noir novel ‘Mistress Murder‘. I reviewed this book on Day 25, which, rather conveniently, was also yesterday. You can check out that very review riiiiiiiiiiiiight…….. here below https://beardybookblogger.com/2019/02/25/fahrenbruary-review-mistress-murder-mark-ramsden-mrramsden1-f13noir-fahrenheitpress/

Well, I bet that got your blood a-pumpin’, eh? I wager that that has got you wondering what kind of person possesses the sort of mind to come up with such a saucy story and wantonly flings words such as ‘rootle’ and ‘bottom’ about in the same sentence, huh?

Well today I hope we can clear up some of the questions you may have as we plunge into the mind of Mark.

Don’t be scared! Join us….

MarkRamsden

 

TBBB: Hi Mark and thank you for appearing on the Beardy Book Blogger for #Fahrenbruary 2019 and taking the time to answer my questions.

MR: Great to be here. Thanks for asking.

TBBB: First up, could you tell us a little bit about yourself – who is Mark Ramsden?

MR: I’m a little too anxious. My Native American name would be ‘Skin Too Thin.’ After studying music I worked with Bert Jansch, Roy Harper, Kiki Dee, Tom Robinson, many theatre and show business luminaries, countless less well known jazz musicians, some dance producers and DJs at clubs like Fabric, and finally with no one at all. And even that didn’t work. I’m the only artist who split up with himself due to ‘musical differences’.

I’m the only composer who’s been on daytime radio 3, next to Mozart, (heard by, ooh, dozens of people) and also been filmed being intimate with a glamorous assistant for a Dave Courtney film. (Cutting room floor, thankfully)

I wrote a lot of magazine articles in the 90s then a trilogy for Serpent’s Tail around the millennium before deciding that bipolarity, alcoholism and drug addiction just weren’t enough on their own. It was time for fifteen years heavy use of ‘psychedelic heroin’ and a journey across the entire transgender spectrum (which finished right round the bend.).

TBBB: Mistress Murder is a very funny black comedy featuring fetishism, obsession, transgenderism, alcoholism and drug abuse. In many ways it’s a very modern story, highly pertinent to our times. Was it your intention to highlight these issues when you set out to write it, or were you just thinking that they would make for a rollicking good read (which they do, btw 😅).

MR: Thank you! I didn’t have any choice, having lived it. I try to honestly portray the contradictions but that’s often unpopular. Satirising little cliques among a despised minority isn’t much of a business plan. Reassuring the vast majority would be better, something wholesome and uplifting, and I will get round to that one day. Hopefully before I die.

Incidentally, you don’t have to be a monster of moral turpitude to read it, although it helps. It’s also primarily a murder mystery. Who is the stalker? How can she trap him? It’s for anyone with a toxic parent, difficult relationships, a job that gets on top of you.

TBBB: Were any of the characters in Mistress Murder based on anyone you know?

MR: The real people I knew were crazier than those characters. There was an unconvincing brick outhouse transvestite whose day job had once been torturing the IRA; a Detective who tragically killed himself when he was exposed in the tabloids; an oil business guy who was recruited as a spy; a Deputy Prison Governor who wanted to stay in the same job after transitioning. Although she could in fact ‘pass’ that was perhaps ambitious.

And everyone thought I was nuts, with some justification.

TBBB: How much of Susan Godly is Mark Ramsden, and vice versa?

MR: I’m Northern grammar school as opposed to Southern Public School. We’re both self destructive addicts. Scatty. Most of my adult life was professional music and very little pro-domming. It’s the other way round for her.

TBBB: I am very open minded kinda guy – at least I like to think so at any rate – but the fetish scene has never really appealed to me outside of a genuine curiosity. However I can see its appeal to many; the idea of being something you’re not for a short while, or even the opposite – being able to be the person that you really believe that you are – in a non-judgemental environment. What led you into the scene and what is it, or was it, that appealed to you?

MR: Twenty five years ago I was a sort of Jehovah’s Witness of fetish, making a fool of myself in magazines and thankfully obscure tv programmes. Some of us thought we could make consensual fetish as respectable as gay sex had become, which turned out to be yet another erroneous assumption, along with most of my other core beliefs. What started as writing about the fetish scene eventually ended up as a month spent as a third sex pro-domme. Not the wisest of choices.

I’m no longer involved. It did help some people feel less isolated and we all had a wild time despite not being particularly glamorous. I used to say ‘fetish is swinging for unphotogenic people’.

Nothing is for free. A lot of personal chaos inevitably ensued. However well intentioned people are, polyamory often is like getting divorced in triplicate. Eventually. People aren’t always well intentioned which is still a surprise to me, even as I approach senility.

TBBB: Could you expand upon “third sex pro-domme” a little for those who may not have come across that term before? Don’t worry, this blog can take it!

MR: People say gender fluid now. I just looked better without wigs. More Richard O Brien than luscious t-girl:

 

richard-obrien-1200
Richard O’Brien aka Riff Raff and creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

 

That lasted about a month. Thankfully I had the bright idea (not) of living on a houseboat where Charles Dickens grew up. Also where he died. It eventually became impossible to ignore living in a heritage museum which generated “Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing” – a meditation on Dickens and the missing conclusion of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With plenty of claret.

 

DREAD
Mark’s novel about Dickens, serial killing and extraordinarily large noses. No, not really, but, by gum that’s an impressive hooter right there 👃🏻

 

TBBB: If you could be any character in Mistress Murder who would it be and why?

MR: The ones who don’t speak in the 12 step groups yet still get off booze and chemicals. Which was me, eventually, come to think of it.

TBBB: Throughout the mid 90’s – early 00’s the (in)famous Eurotrash aired on Channel Four, and highlighted many of the excesses of European sub-cultures such as fetishism, body modifications, etc. I loved it because it showed me aspects of life that I had no idea even existed, even if they were skewed towards the more ridiculous, and often presented in the same manner (who can forget the Romeo Cleaners, for instance, or the silly voiceovers when translating the people into English?).

eurotrash1
The sublimely bonkers Eurotrash with Antoine Des Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier (not forgetting Pe-Pe and Po-Po, of course (sadly not pictured)

 

MR: Maria McErlane’s voiceovers were great. She’s brilliant. I always liked Eurotrash – I invented Fetish Morris Dancing that appeared in one episode – although for me it was a hopefully funny magazine bit, a patently ridiculous idea. I never thought people would actually want to meet and rehearse regularly. Then again Morris Dancing is surprisingly popular. And they mean it maan. Some think if they don’t dance there will be no Spring.(TBBB: Sadly I could not find a photo of this historic event ☹️ If anyone has one I’ll gladly slip it in, so to speak!).

TBBB: Do you think that programmes like Eurotrash helped the image at all, or do you feel it just further undermined it and enhanced people’s negative attitudes towards it?

MR: Scene people were a bit sniffy about ‘point and giggle’ shows but maybe its very existence made people more tolerant of diversity. Maybe it eventually helped you eventually cope with Mistress Murder?

TBBB: I certainly think they helped to open my mind to the idea of the subculture and what it may involve. Without it I would probably still be blissfully unaware and that would make for a much duller world view.

TBBB: As a nation the British are famously uptight about sex, at least in public. Behind the scenes I like to think that we are more liberated sexually, and are not afraid to explore sexual boundaries, than many think. Why do you think that we are perceived as such a stuck up nation and hide behind twitching curtains whilst other parts of Europe are not afraid to show it? Why are we so scared of what people get up to legally and consensually in private?

MR: Yes indeed. It even extends to tattooing. I discussed this with Fahrenheit author Russ Day (Needle Song – great plotting, great characters). People get furious about other people’s bodies. Which isn’t their business.

TBBB: Are/were you a leather, pleather, rubber or latex kinda guy? Or do you like to mix and match?

MR: Rubber’s too much like hard work. A lot of maintenance. Not very durable. Men look best in uniforms. Or leather.

TBBB: Is this something that you’re still active in?

MR: No public scene for more than ten years, no drink five years, no party drugs or psychedelics three years.

TBBB: What is your obsession nowadays?

MR: Freshly ground coffee. Green tea. Kale smoothies. Lots of lemon and ginger. Podcasts. Long form television drama.

TBBB: How important are Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13, or independent presses in general, to you?

MR: Thank heavens for the two Chrisses (TBBB: Chris McVeigh and Chris Black – the Top Bananas at Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13 respectively), especially courageous publishers. Use ‘UberFahrenFuehrers’ here? Perhaps not… (For future grievance archeologists, this is a play on words not an admission of wrong think.) They brought me back from the dead. I like the punk aesthetic. Novellas as opposed to a doorstep beach read. Ideal for me, now I can barely finish a tweet. Best editing. Best covers. Best bloggers. Very innovative publishing.

An earlier definition of Punk was a passive homosexual prisoner so maybe my slightly depraved tales fit in – or maybe I’ll always be slightly to one side in my Fortress of Solitude. Or Annex of Irrelevance. My only connection with early punk comes from smoking a lot of TV Smith’s dope (Him from the Adverts – Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyes) when he opened for Tom Robinson. (Not in the biblical sense). And someone in one of Malcolm McClaren’s bands told me about the difficulty of getting their weekly retainer out of the old skinflint. ‘What do you want money for?” quipped Malcom. “You’ll only spend it.” Hahaha. Bastard. Well, I’m fond of Malcolm’s lunatic disco/Strauss Waltz mash up album, Waltz with Me – perhaps because I’m always welding together genres and maybe not everyone’s happy with the results. My books are not so much ‘niche’ as ‘crevice’ – not immediately apparent but a possible source of disreputable pleasure.

TBBB: Without F13 do you think that ‘Mistress Murder’ would have been published?

MR: Maybe not in any other Crime Press, maybe nowhere else at all, although I don’t research the market enough. Could be wrong. I generally am.

TBBB: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

MR: If I may customise a joke: how do you make God smile? Tell her you’re going to stick to your outline. I tried but the universe has other plans.

TBBB: Are you a fan of eBooks or do you prefer the feel and look of a physical book? 

MR I love reading on a tablet now. More light. Built in dictionary.

TBBB: How do you pronounce ‘Scone” – rhymes with ‘gone’ or ‘stone’? I seem to be in the minority here as I pronounce it as in ‘gone’ (although I have been known to dabble in the odd ‘stone’ variation when the mood takes me). I have an ongoing thing with two fellow bloggers, and ‘stone’ campers, Danielle and Kelly who both, incorrectly as it happens, insist that they are superior to me. Don’t let me down here Mark!

MR: Ha! We both rhyme it with ‘gone’ but Ruth, being slightly Scottish knows it should rhyme with ‘spoon’.

TBBB: Hurrahhhhh, I knew I could rely on you. *happy face* As for rhymes with ‘spoon’, there’s a whole other argument I’ll leave right there 😅

 

scone
The humble scone: rhymes with ‘gone’. Mark says so so it must be true (unless you’re Scottish or a certain Belgian blogger and her nefarious friend).

 

TBBB: Would you be a superhero or a supervillain?

MR: I’d be a supernegotiator trying to start the peace talks, and probably as useless as most politicians, but when reading I always side with the underdogs or the supposedly bad guys. Though I despise the likes of Roger Stone, who got away with it for far too long. It was great taking my son to The Dark Knight Rises at Imax (and my daughter to a lot of Pixar movies and both of them several times to Python musical Spamelot). Raph got me to read ‘Y The Last Man’ which is really good – a series of graphic novels inspired by Mary Shelley.

 

And with that our Q&A draws to a close. My sincerest and heartfelt thanks to Mark for taking the time to answer my questions and for supporting Fahrenbruary so much.

 

You can buy both of Mark’s books, ‘Mistress Murder‘ and ‘Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing‘ direct from Fahrenheit Press at the links below:

Mistress Murder cover

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_mistress_murder.html

‘Susie Godly is many things to many people. Lover, daughter, mother, ex-wife, entrepreneur and – in her guise as Mistress Murder – one of the most in-demand dominatrixes in London.
Susie has bought herself a first-class ticket on the hedonism express and shows no sign of slowing down for anyone or anything. Yes, her marriage ended badly – sure, it’s fair to say she’s probably doing a few too many drugs – and yeah, most people would agree her love-life sits at the more ‘complicated’ end of the spectrum – but it’s nothing Susie can’t handle, right?
As she does her best to ride the wave of joyous mayhem she’s created, Susie’s attempts to live her best life are thwarted by the appearance of a mysterious stalker who seems infuriated by both her and her lifestyle. Susie’s dealt with stalkers before of course – they’re par for the course in her business – but this one operates on a different level of malevolence, and she is forced to take desperate steps to ensure her safety and the safety of the people she loves.
Mistress Murder provides a hilarious, beautifully frank, and entirely unselfconscious window into a hedonistic subculture where few have dared to tread.’

 

DREAD

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_dread_the_art_of_serial_killing.html

‘Mr Madden, Dickens enthusiast, muses with his beautiful and bohemian prisoner on possible endings to the famous author’s unfinished final mystery. 
Mr Madden, spy, infiltrates a far right nationalist group in order to set up the thugs for something far more serious than their usual boozy street fights. 
Mr Madden, serial killer, sculpts his Candidates into bizarre and macabre artworks within the bare walls of his dungeon workshop.
And if he is to keep one step ahead of the police, the secret service and his own gory instincts, Mr Madden is going to have to find the answer to the one question that hangs over all our heads:
What would Charles Dickens do?’

David Nolan. Black Moss. Manc Noir

Nolan

MR Congratulations on a great fictional debut. Can you tell us about your book and Manc Noir?

DN It’s set in the present day and during the Strangeways’ riot in Manchester in 1990. An inexperienced reporter gets sent out to cover the discovery of a child’s body at Black Moss reservoir while all the good reporters are at the riot. Years later he comes back and… a great deal of unpleasantness ensues. One of my favourite films is Hell is a City, the Stanley Baker picture made by Hammer. It was shot in Manchester and Oldham – so gritty and real. Bookies, robbers, gamblers, boozers, cops that take no shit. Great stuff. When I pitched the book to Fahrenheit I described it as Hell is a City meets Factory Records. I also got a bit fed up with people banging in about Nordic Noir and Scandi Noir. Ooh the landscape is so bleak… let me take you across the Pennines above Manchester. I’ll show you a REALLY bleak landscape. So Manc Noir was a reaction to that and it’s a nod to Hell is a City too. 

MR Reading Black Moss was a troubling reminder of how little protection there is for orphans, care home children, children in general. You wrote a book about the trial of one of your teachers for child abuse.

DN I wrote a factual book called Tell The Truth and Shame the Devil about that case and was overwhelmed by the response I got – I’m still getting messages and emails to this day from ex-pupils telling me their stories. I did a Radio 4 documentary too. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b06vk8y1

‘Hearing from the victims, the police, prosecutors and police interviews with the perpetrator himself, this programme tells the inside story of that investigation and the process of trying to achieve justice for victims.’

DN I was very, very fired up about it and got a deal to write a book about the whole subject of historic abuse. Several months in and the publishers cancelled the book and paid me off. I was in a fury and the first chapter of Black Moss just sort of spewed out of me. I’d never written a word of fiction in my life before, yet this thing was coming out of me. Bizarre. I still don’t quite understand how it happened. I did it in secret in between writing my factual books. 

MR I recognised some of the alcoholism recovery material – the whole book feels accurate. Some great characters and locations, not to mention a hell of a story. No longeurs. It zips along.

You’re not a fan of the witty alcoholic in fiction? I once saw Hunter S Thompson in a bar in Hong Kong. He just kept slowly droning the words ‘Amyl Nitrate’. Hardly Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Hotel. There are a few high functioning alcoholics but most of us wreck our own lives and hurt our family, friends and colleagues.

DN ‘Character with addictions’ is a lazy shorthand in a lot of cases. I hope it isn’t in Black Moss. The main character isn’t a lovable old soak, he’s a dick. A full-on tool. The treatment he goes through is accurate, like everything else in the book. If I don’t know something I ask an expert and I was helped a great deal by a former child protection detective.  I know a lot about drinking, so… not a problem. I don’t claim to be a crime fiction expert but I know what I don’t like: too much description, people saying things normal people wouldn’t say and things happening that wouldn’t happen in real life. The characters are all based in real people – my old radio friends are currently playing a game of ‘spot who the character is based on’. Eighty per cent of Black Moss is drawn from real life. If something comes across as far-fetched in the book, you can guarantee it really happened.

MR ‘Writing a novel by accident’. Sounds intriguing. Are you saving that for live appearances or can you hint as to how that might happen? I could certainly do with accidentally finding one already written.

DN I never set out to be a novelist. I’m a journalist and a factual writer. I still don’t feel comfortable with the ‘n word…’ But it’s happened and I’d like to thank the publisher who binned my factual book, because otherwise Black Moss wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t be having this conversation now. It’s all been an accident. I feel a bit of a fraud. 

MR When might we see your next book?

DN I’m well into Black Moss 2. It’s another ‘difficult’ subject, written from an angry viewpoint once again. I don’t do nods and winks and knowing references, I do fury. I’m in a rage most of the time, it’s very tiring.

MR I can just about remember the great days of Granada, reporters like Bob Greaves and Brian Truman. Has anyone ever combined being a mainstream news anchor and counter cultural figure like Tony Wilson?

DN Absolutely not. And never will. When Tony died I said to my wife, someone is going to write a book about him, might as well be me. I worked with Tony at Granada, but didn’t like him! Then I wrote his biography and found out so much more about him. I liked him a lot afterwards.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tony-Wilson-Youre-Entitled-Opinion/dp/1844549909/ref=nodl_

MR Thanks for a great interview!

 

a piece from David’s website

Crime Addiction – David Nolan

When I started reading crime fiction, two things would annoy me. Really annoy me. One was the way authors would portray journalists. I’ve been a journalist all my life and we are regularly shown saying, doing and writing things that real journalists would never say, do or write.

The other is the portrayal of addiction – particularly alcohol. It often appears in crime fiction as an easy shorthand for a kind of sleazy, feckless glamour.

The lead character in my first novel Black Moss is alcoholic journalist Danny Johnston. The bookworks on two timelines – 1990 and 2016. When we meet present-day Danny – or Daniel as he now presents himself – he’s just crashed his car into a tree, pissed out of his mind. He’s no hero. There’s no sleazy glamour here. He’s an idiot.

After the crash, Danny loses his job and goes into rehab therapy. Here he is arriving for his first

session:

‘There were two layers of glass between him and the receptionist. A large sign warned that the

physical or verbal abuse of staff would not be tolerated. The receptionist – a woman in her thirtieswith tattoo-covered arms – glanced at him over the top of her large, black-rimmed glasses. ‘Are you here for the needle exchange?’ she said.

Daniel returned her look. Then he realised that she was talking to him. Needle exchange? ‘No,’ he said. After a pause, he added: ‘I’m with the alkies.’ He smiled at the receptionist, quite pleased with his attempt at keeping the situation light. It didn’t seem to have worked – her face was unchanged.

Alcohol support,’ said Daniel. ‘I’m with the

alcohol support programme.’

Alcohol is to the left. Go through, take a seat.’ A second door buzzed, and Danny went through into the waiting area. Things are bad, he thought, but they could be worse. I could be turning right.

Daniel sat down. The furniture was dark beige and blocky. The floor was a chessboard of dull, dark brown and light brown plastic tiles. There were framed pictures on the wall that were abstract and bland. One wall was completely covered in leaflets and flyers: self-help, support groups, psychotherapy, yoga, Pilates, massage – all the kind of things that he would normally have given a very wide berth to. He sat very still. Very still indeed. Don’t look right, he thought.’

I know this is accurate. I’ve visited a centre just like this. The drugs Danny is prescribed to help him are the correct ones for his problems.

I’ve had some great reactions to the book since it was published. Amazing, really. But the one that pleases me most is when people say: he’s done his research.

I think that whatever we are writing about, it’s got to be accurate. If we are going to depict people with addiction issues it’s got to be real, not a lazy cliché. There is no one-size-fits-all ADDICT character. Every addict is different. Speak to counsellors, speak to addicts themselves. Learn from their experiences. They often have astounding stories– sometimes they can offer real hope.

…………………………..

Hell is a City original trailer

https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=z20Kdo8af7M

One of the many 5star reviews on Amazon

Customer Review

Mark Ramsden

12 February 2019

Very impressive fictional debut by the author of Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil, an account of the trial of one of his former teachers for Child Sexual Abuse. There is no exploitation of these terrible crimes here just a bleak realism. A troubled reporter digs deep into the past, taking us on a nightmare journey to the extremes of human depravity. Well drawn, believable characters; a vivid evocation of Manchester and its environs; accurate portrayal of alcoholism and recovery, dog eat dog journalism and the Strangeway prison riots. Some wry humour lightens the first of what is likely to be a memorable trilogy.
buy the pbk and e book direct from Fahrenheit Press

Liz Fraser – And Other Characters. Fenella Fielding – Do You Mind If I smoke?

Two much loved film stars recently died within five days of each other, the sad news slightly ameliorated by their both living to a decent age and leaving a considerable body of work – including these memoirs.

liz fraser and

Liz Fraser grew up near the New Kent Road ‘over the shop’, was evacuated during the war, having to wait in line to be chosen from prospective foster parents.  

Winston Churchill had the estate next door. She met him several times, even sitting on his knee. She understates the loss of her father when she was eleven but it’s deeply moving nevertheless.
After stage school she was soon working in live television and remained busy thereafter.
She summed her long career in a charming two page poem, included here,  which she performed at her Comedy Plaque tribute lunch. 

For someone who was universally loved and admired, also a shrewd investor, collector of high performance cars and an expert bridge player – nobody’s fool or victim – Liz didn’t have much luck with husbands. The first was a less successful actor, conman and thief who stole from her among other people. The second, a busy light entertainment director, was an alcoholic philanderer who died aged 41.

There’s no trace of self pity anywhere in this wryly amusing book. She can see the funny side of one promising love affair starting during a man’s brief period of abstinence from his usual routine: drink, drugs, despondency.

 

She was thrilled to have a night out with Judy Garland and witness her exasperated foul-mouthed reaction to the band playing ‘Over The Rainbow’ as she arrived at a club. She’d heard it a few too many times by then. 

 

Liz was justifiably proud of her serious roles in Live Now Pay Later, Up The Junction, and a Miss Marple episode, Nemesis, ‘what they call a showy role’, (It lasts around five minutes twenty minutes into the second hour). A grieving mother, slightly drunk, real tears, first take, very good indeed. One of her neighbours said, ‘I didn’t know you could act.’

 

I loved her revenge on Peter Sellers whose seduction involved exposing himself. ‘Well you can put that away.’ He’d invited her round for a gourmet meal cooked by his personal chef. When he realised he wasn’t going to get his way he asked her to leave. As she loved good food she insisted on staying and finishing all of the courses.

Liz Fraser

She was told before working for the Samaritans that she would receive heavy breathing calls from sex pests, which  thinned out some refined ladies.  Liz used to tell them she was wearing red knickers.
She worked there for thirteen years, also for the Lord’s Taverners and various animal charities, helping out Joan Sims when she was in difficulties due to the exceptionally parsimonious producer Peter Rogers, (also, as Liz points out, because she was advised to sell her house, which would have later been worth millions, then there was her love of champagne and taxis. Feel a bit mean now, though not as mean as Peter Rogers. The payment for a Carry On film started and remained ever after at £5000. Residuals would have enabled the good life and a secure old age.)

Liz Fraser ddd

Her favourite film was Double Bunk with Sid James though she has fond memories of her breakthrough in I’m All Right Jack, which had a stellar cast,   even the extras in the card game were skilled actors. 

Both books help hunting out performances you may have missed. I never liked The Professionals or the revamped Minder but Liz stands out in both productions, her usual earthy sensuality and infectious humour enhanced by age. 

I’m even going to attempt a whole episode of Midsomer Murders soon, (rather than the usual ten seconds while scrabbling for the remote.) Series 20 episode 5 contains her final performance. (Fenella Fielding is listed on IMDB in Mother, in thirteen episodes of a series of a children’s show coming in 2019.) 

Although always happy to be a character actor, which gave her a longer career than some stars, Liz  wanted to expand her range with avant garde productions in the 60s including Meals on Wheels  by Charles Wood.
Director John Osborne was distant during rehearsals, his only advice was taking them to see Ken Dodd and saying, ‘I want you to do it like that.’ 

Unfortunately nobody understood the text, on or off stage, there were many walkouts and several nights of slow handclapping. Eventually they were reduced to giving out free tickets. Some servicemen came and started laughing at a line which had been hitherto baffling: ‘clap hands if it comes out green’, whereupon the actors clapped. The soldiers understood that a venereal disease, the clap, would turn sperm green. 

A theatre person came backstage to compliment her. ‘But people were walking out’. ‘Yes. But their backs were electric!’

Liz F

In another ‘difficult’ play Kenneth Griffiths tried to destroy the performances of his female co stars, even goosestepping around them as they tried to deliver their lines. The director knew it was wrong but refused to intervene. On the last night they soaked Griffiths with water and tripped him up.

Liz Fraser carry on regardlessT

This is a lovely, well produced book, plenty of good photos, a comprehensive index and a list of her work at the back. The only possible criticism, perhaps not terribly crucial, is that she thinks she is playing a cello in the music student comedy Raising the Wind. She actually plays violin and also jazz double bass, in a scene which swings in more than one sense. That last  sentence is a little sleazy but you can hardly ignore that both of these legendary women intentionally captivated generations of men. For many of us they are lifelong crushes. 

 

§Lz raising the wind

 Fenella Fielding also sought new challenges throughout her long career. Her acclaimed theatre work is vast and various and in her late eighties she dazzled critics with Hecuba’s lament from Euripidies’ The Trojan Woman. 

 

513TKoL6-7L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

She grew up in Hackney.  Her breakthrough was Valmouth after which she played the title roles of Hedda Gabler and Colette.
Her cd of TS Elliot’s Four Quartets even enabled me to get through it for the first time. Stunning.  

 

The Dry Salvages https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rABqTI5TzOY&frags=pl%2Cwn

She performed in several musicals and even did an intriguing slow, sensual version of New Order’s Blue Monday, one of sixteen recent songs, also for the innovative and daring Savoy Books. Who deserve some support.   

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.savoy.abel.co.uk/HTML/fourquartets.html&ved=2ahUKEwit_Kiyg93dAhUpCsAKHYDdDmoQFjAKegQIAxAB&usg=AOvVaw3TjKrJifIylZNnoXqYrK6l

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Savoy-Sessions-Fenella-Fielding/dp/B00894AL62

 fenella cccc

There’s not a lot of detail about her private life although she mentions having simultaneous love affairs with two people for twenty years (though this worldly sophisticate claims to have not noticed some of the double entendres in Carry On Screaming).

A genuine bohemian, her milieu encompassed sex workers, gangsters and the abyss: Soho with Jeffrey Bernard. They didn’t really deserve this smart, stylish beauty, the strawberry-nosed alcoholics at the Colony Rooms, some of whom were camp misogynists fond of screeching the word ‘C*nt’. The Colony’s Muriel Belcher is here described as a ‘tough, beaky manageress’.  Francis Bacon liked her a lot. Well, who wouldn’t?
Kenneth Williams didn’t, continually trying to upstage her, stealing her lines if she improvised something good, doing anything he could to ruin her performance throughout the run of Pieces of Eight, a two hander written by Peter Cook.
There were problems even before he misunderstood her improvised line: ‘Last one off the stage is a sissy’, taking it as her outing him. He then waged a lengthy poisonous campaign against her. Fenella points out it’s just possible the audience would have known he was a homosexual, particularly as he often referred to it himself. Then again my grandmother’s generation sometimes said of people like Liberace: ‘They say he’ll never marry’ – one prophecy which came true.

0_Fenella-Fielding-British-actress

 

Kenneth Williams had forgotten his initial animus by Carry On Screaming. Fenella doesn’t bear a grudge about anyone incidentally. Liz Fraser occasionally has a mildly waspish remark for people who have behaved badly but is essentially good natured. Fenella’s disposition seems to have been as sunny as her voice was velvetty. Perhaps both of them being successful at something they had always wanted to do obviated the need to tear other people apart. Maybe some people would rather just be nice. Fenella quotes Ned Sherrin’s ‘the end of deference’ in her chapter on the sixties but also asks why did some shop assistants need to be so rude? According to her, Mary Quant had no idea why her clothes weren’t selling. It was because her staff despised the customers. Things rapidly improved when she sacked them and got some helpful middle aged people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vksTUWDXGJo&frags=pl%2Cwn

contains Carry On clips.

She wasn’t much of a drinker, liked cannabis but didn’t over indulge and her one brush with cocaine was when someone painted it on her throat to help her voice. It made her extremely ‘vivacious’, apparently great fun for those nearby.

 

Fenella turned down Carry on Cleopatra for a short love affair with an American boy. Now she wishes she’d done the film.

 fenalla x

How many people remain a style icon for most of their adult life? Dusty Springfield said her eyelashes were a tribute to Fenella’s, whose own pop single, Big Bad Mouse has a touch of Kurt Weill’s Alabama Song.  (Sounds like George Chisolm on trombone. I know people are dying to know who took a four bar break on a 1960s novelty record. Well, he was world class as were Fenella Fielding and Liz Fraser.)  She later sang at Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown, ‘somewhere between Grace Jones and Pete Doherty.’ 

fenella cat

 

 

Fenella did Celebrity Squares with Groucho Marx and saw people trying to impress him by imitating his work. ‘thinking he would be amused. However, a) they didn’t know the material b) they couldn’t do it. c) He didn’t give a fuck.’ 

 

Her brother being a Conservative luminary meant she met Margaret Thatcher who responded to Fenella complimenting her dress sense by telling her four year old niece some tips on where to stand so her broach caught the light. Fenella didn’t like her politics but recognised a formidable presence.
Best known now for the perennially popular Carry On Screaming she was slightly miffed that a third of her fan mail came from being the voice in The Prisoner, although she’s grateful for these performances that remain popular for decades. including her voice work in Dougal and the Blue Cat, revered by
Mark Kermode. His fine tribute.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk_1qs82R7U 


Both stars excelled in the Avengers, Liz in The Girl From Auntie, Fenella in The Charmers, both easy to find on DailyMotion.com. 

 

Fenella’s book has good photos, diary entries at the back and an introduction by her collaborator Simon McKay, a psychotherapist she met at her pilates class.  

So many great stories throughout both books, which will  please anyone who has ever admired these legendary women. They’re both essential purchases.

Liz Fraser’s Guardian obituary concluded with this cute anecdote which would also apply to Fenella Fielding.
‘Put up in a local hotel by the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society the night before the event, Liz was asked by the receptionist what her profession was. With a twinkle in the eye, she answered: “Film star, dear!”’

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ3gZ3fARIA

 

Lovely review of Dread – The Art of Serial Killing

Dread. published 2015. ‘Recalled to life’ new edition 2018.  And still the slowest ever bandwagon rumbles on. Patient. Relentless. Remorseless. Global hegemony – any day now.
Cue Aidan Thorn

 

Dark, funny and brilliant

It really is a shame that traditional publishers lack any bravely, because in a braver marketplace Mark Ramsden would be a major writing star. Thankfully Fahrenheit Press are here to pick up the mantle for the industry.

Dread is dark, funny, poetic, beautiful, ugly, gripping, weird, intriguing and ultimately brilliant. This is the book the likes of Chuck Palahniuk and Brett Easton Ellis wish they could write. We’re in the head of a serial killer for much of this book and it’s delightful. Inside Mr Madden’s drug, lust and grief fuelled head we are so far removed from the mainstream we might as well be on another plan at yet the modern cultural (that Madden despises) references are so we’ll observed we are acutely aware that this is the mind of a man warped by life. His relationship with Zero, a captive who is equally twisted, elevates the story to another level. Is it Stockholm syndrome or is she justas twisted as Madden, who knows, or cares, these two brilliant characters keep the pages turning as the gore, sex and violence flow. Outstanding

Thanks Aidan! Mr Thorn is the widely acclaimed author of the excellent When The Music’s Over and much more. He even has a proper, grown up, supercool dayjob. Check him out. @AidanDFThorn

https://fahrenheit-press.myshopify.com/products/mark-ramsden-dread-the-art-of-serial-killing-paperback   £1.69 e book, kindle etc £4.95 pbk

ps Mistress Murder…’Bridget Jones meets 120 Days of Sodom.’ Rude Rom Com – with extreme jeopardy
Mark Ramsden : Mistress Murder (eBook – Kindle Version)

 

Q&A with THE BEARDY BOOK BLOGGER Mistress Murder – Dread – My earlier idiotic self

https://beardybookblogger.com/2019/02/26/fahrenbruary-qa-mark-ramsden-author-of-mistrescs-murder-and-dread-the-art-of-serial-killing-pub-by-fahrenheit-13-mrramsden1-f13noir-fahrenheitpress/

Worth seeing with The Beardy Book Blogger’s superior graphics (Thanks again) but here’s the words.

TBBB Hello you lovely people and a very warm and squidgy welcome to the Beardy Book Blog for what is Day 26 of #Fahrenbruary.

You may be wondering what delights I have in store for you today, well, you can wonder no more for today I bring to you a Q&A from the king of transgressive noir himself, Mark Ramsden. 

Mark is the author of the sexily naughty and spanktastic noir novel ‘Mistress Murder‘. I reviewed this book on Day 25, which, rather conveniently, was also yesterday. You can check out that very review riiiiiiiiiiiiight…….. here below https://beardybookblogger.com/2019/02/25/fahrenbruary-review-mistress-murder-mark-ramsden-mrramsden1-f13noir-fahrenheitpress/

Well, I bet that got your blood a-pumpin’, eh? I wager that that has got you wondering what kind of person possesses the sort of mind to come up with such a saucy story and wantonly flings words such as ‘rootle’ and ‘bottom’ about in the same sentence, huh?

Well today I hope we can clear up some of the questions you may have as we plunge into the mind of Mark.

Don’t be scared! Join us….

MarkRamsden

 

TBBB: Hi Mark and thank you for appearing on the Beardy Book Blogger for #Fahrenbruary 2019 and taking the time to answer my questions.

MR: Great to be here. Thanks for asking.

TBBB: First up, could you tell us a little bit about yourself – who is Mark Ramsden?

MR: I’m a little too anxious. My Native American name would be ‘Skin Too Thin.’ After studying music I worked with Bert Jansch, Roy Harper, Kiki Dee, Tom Robinson, many theatre and show business luminaries, countless less well known jazz musicians, some dance producers and DJs at clubs like Fabric, and finally with no one at all. And even that didn’t work. I’m the only artist who split up with himself due to ‘musical differences’.

I’m the only composer who’s been on daytime radio 3, next to Mozart, (heard by, ooh, dozens of people) and also been filmed being intimate with a glamorous assistant for a Dave Courtney film. (Cutting room floor, thankfully)

I wrote a lot of magazine articles in the 90s then a trilogy for Serpent’s Tail around the millennium before deciding that bipolarity, alcoholism and drug addiction just weren’t enough on their own. It was time for fifteen years heavy use of ‘psychedelic heroin’ and a journey across the entire transgender spectrum (which finished right round the bend.).

TBBB: Mistress Murder is a very funny black comedy featuring fetishism, obsession, transgenderism, alcoholism and drug abuse. In many ways it’s a very modern story, highly pertinent to our times. Was it your intention to highlight these issues when you set out to write it, or were you just thinking that they would make for a rollicking good read (which they do, btw 😅).

MR: Thank you! I didn’t have any choice, having lived it. I try to honestly portray the contradictions but that’s often unpopular. Satirising little cliques among a despised minority isn’t much of a business plan. Reassuring the vast majority would be better, something wholesome and uplifting, and I will get round to that one day. Hopefully before I die.

Incidentally, you don’t have to be a monster of moral turpitude to read it, although it helps. It’s also primarily a murder mystery. Who is the stalker? How can she trap him? It’s for anyone with a toxic parent, difficult relationships, a job that gets on top of you.

TBBB: Were any of the characters in Mistress Murder based on anyone you know?

MR: The real people I knew were crazier than those characters. There was an unconvincing brick outhouse transvestite whose day job had once been torturing the IRA; a Detective who tragically killed himself when he was exposed in the tabloids; an oil business guy who was recruited as a spy; a Deputy Prison Governor who wanted to stay in the same job after transitioning. Although she could in fact ‘pass’ that was perhaps ambitious.

And everyone thought I was nuts, with some justification.

TBBB: How much of Susan Godly is Mark Ramsden, and vice versa?

MR: I’m Northern grammar school as opposed to Southern Public School. We’re both self destructive addicts. Scatty. Most of my adult life was professional music and very little pro-domming. It’s the other way round for her.

TBBB: I am very open minded kinda guy – at least I like to think so at any rate – but the fetish scene has never really appealed to me outside of a genuine curiosity. However I can see its appeal to many; the idea of being something you’re not for a short while, or even the opposite – being able to be the person that you really believe that you are – in a non-judgemental environment. What led you into the scene and what is it, or was it, that appealed to you?

MR: Twenty five years ago I was a sort of Jehovah’s Witness of fetish, making a fool of myself in magazines and thankfully obscure tv programmes. Some of us thought we could make consensual fetish as respectable as gay sex had become, which turned out to be yet another erroneous assumption, along with most of my other core beliefs. What started as writing about the fetish scene eventually ended up as a month spent as a third sex pro-domme. Not the wisest of choices.

I’m no longer involved. It did help some people feel less isolated and we all had a wild time despite not being particularly glamorous. I used to say ‘fetish is swinging for unphotogenic people’.

Nothing is for free. A lot of personal chaos inevitably ensued. However well intentioned people are, polyamory often is like getting divorced in triplicate. Eventually. People aren’t always well intentioned which is still a surprise to me, even as I approach senility.

TBBB: Could you expand upon “third sex pro-domme” a little for those who may not have come across that term before? Don’t worry, this blog can take it!

MR: People say gender fluid now. I just looked better without wigs. More Richard O Brien than luscious t-girl:

 

richard-obrien-1200
Richard O’Brien aka Riff Raff and creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

 

That lasted about a month. Thankfully I had the bright idea (not) of living on a houseboat where Charles Dickens grew up. Also where he died. It eventually became impossible to ignore living in a heritage museum which generated “Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing” – a meditation on Dickens and the missing conclusion of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With plenty of claret.

 

DREAD
Mark’s novel about Dickens, serial killing and extraordinarily large noses. No, not really, but, by gum that’s an impressive hooter right there 👃🏻

 

TBBB: If you could be any character in Mistress Murder who would it be and why?

MR: The ones who don’t speak in the 12 step groups yet still get off booze and chemicals. Which was me, eventually, come to think of it.

TBBB: Throughout the mid 90’s – early 00’s the (in)famous Eurotrash aired on Channel Four, and highlighted many of the excesses of European sub-cultures such as fetishism, body modifications, etc. I loved it because it showed me aspects of life that I had no idea even existed, even if they were skewed towards the more ridiculous, and often presented in the same manner (who can forget the Romeo Cleaners, for instance, or the silly voiceovers when translating the people into English?).

eurotrash1
The sublimely bonkers Eurotrash with Antoine Des Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier (not forgetting Pe-Pe and Po-Po, of course (sadly not pictured)

 

MR: Maria McErlane’s voiceovers were great. She’s brilliant. I always liked Eurotrash – I invented Fetish Morris Dancing that appeared in one episode – although for me it was a hopefully funny magazine bit, a patently ridiculous idea. I never thought people would actually want to meet and rehearse regularly. Then again Morris Dancing is surprisingly popular. And they mean it maan. Some think if they don’t dance there will be no Spring.(TBBB: Sadly I could not find a photo of this historic event ☹️ If anyone has one I’ll gladly slip it in, so to speak!).

TBBB: Do you think that programmes like Eurotrash helped the image at all, or do you feel it just further undermined it and enhanced people’s negative attitudes towards it?

MR: Scene people were a bit sniffy about ‘point and giggle’ shows but maybe its very existence made people more tolerant of diversity. Maybe it eventually helped you eventually cope with Mistress Murder?

TBBB: I certainly think they helped to open my mind to the idea of the subculture and what it may involve. Without it I would probably still be blissfully unaware and that would make for a much duller world view.

TBBB: As a nation the British are famously uptight about sex, at least in public. Behind the scenes I like to think that we are more liberated sexually, and are not afraid to explore sexual boundaries, than many think. Why do you think that we are perceived as such a stuck up nation and hide behind twitching curtains whilst other parts of Europe are not afraid to show it? Why are we so scared of what people get up to legally and consensually in private?

MR: Yes indeed. It even extends to tattooing. I discussed this with Fahrenheit author Russ Day (Needle Song – great plotting, great characters). People get furious about other people’s bodies. Which isn’t their business.

TBBB: Are/were you a leather, pleather, rubber or latex kinda guy? Or do you like to mix and match?

MR: Rubber’s too much like hard work. A lot of maintenance. Not very durable. Men look best in uniforms. Or leather.

TBBB: Is this something that you’re still active in?

MR: No public scene for more than ten years, no drink five years, no party drugs or psychedelics three years.

TBBB: What is your obsession nowadays?

MR: Freshly ground coffee. Green tea. Kale smoothies. Lots of lemon and ginger. Podcasts. Long form television drama.

TBBB: How important are Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13, or independent presses in general, to you?

MR: Thank heavens for the two Chrisses (TBBB: Chris McVeigh and Chris Black – the Top Bananas at Fahrenheit Press and Fahrenheit 13 respectively), especially courageous publishers. Use ‘UberFahrenFuehrers’ here? Perhaps not… (For future grievance archeologists, this is a play on words not an admission of wrong think.) They brought me back from the dead. I like the punk aesthetic. Novellas as opposed to a doorstep beach read. Ideal for me, now I can barely finish a tweet. Best editing. Best covers. Best bloggers. Very innovative publishing.

An earlier definition of Punk was a passive homosexual prisoner so maybe my slightly depraved tales fit in – or maybe I’ll always be slightly to one side in my Fortress of Solitude. Or Annex of Irrelevance. My only connection with early punk comes from smoking a lot of TV Smith’s dope (Him from the Adverts – Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyes) when he opened for Tom Robinson. (Not in the biblical sense). And someone in one of Malcolm McClaren’s bands told me about the difficulty of getting their weekly retainer out of the old skinflint. ‘What do you want money for?” quipped Malcom. “You’ll only spend it.” Hahaha. Bastard. Well, I’m fond of Malcolm’s lunatic disco/Strauss Waltz mash up album, Waltz with Me – perhaps because I’m always welding together genres and maybe not everyone’s happy with the results. My books are not so much ‘niche’ as ‘crevice’ – not immediately apparent but a possible source of disreputable pleasure.

TBBB: Without F13 do you think that ‘Mistress Murder’ would have been published?

MR: Maybe not in any other Crime Press, maybe nowhere else at all, although I don’t research the market enough. Could be wrong. I generally am.

TBBB: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

MR: If I may customise a joke: how do you make God smile? Tell her you’re going to stick to your outline. I tried but the universe has other plans.

TBBB: Are you a fan of eBooks or do you prefer the feel and look of a physical book? 

MR I love reading on a tablet now. More light. Built in dictionary.

TBBB: How do you pronounce ‘Scone” – rhymes with ‘gone’ or ‘stone’? I seem to be in the minority here as I pronounce it as in ‘gone’ (although I have been known to dabble in the odd ‘stone’ variation when the mood takes me). I have an ongoing thing with two fellow bloggers, and ‘stone’ campers, Danielle and Kelly who both, incorrectly as it happens, insist that they are superior to me. Don’t let me down here Mark!

MR: Ha! We both rhyme it with ‘gone’ but Ruth, being slightly Scottish knows it should rhyme with ‘spoon’.

TBBB: Hurrahhhhh, I knew I could rely on you. *happy face* As for rhymes with ‘spoon’, there’s a whole other argument I’ll leave right there 😅

 

scone
The humble scone: rhymes with ‘gone’. Mark says so so it must be true (unless you’re Scottish or a certain Belgian blogger and her nefarious friend).

 

TBBB: Would you be a superhero or a supervillain?

MR: I’d be a supernegotiator trying to start the peace talks, and probably as useless as most politicians, but when reading I always side with the underdogs or the supposedly bad guys. Though I despise the likes of Roger Stone, who got away with it for far too long. It was great taking my son to The Dark Knight Rises at Imax (and my daughter to a lot of Pixar movies and both of them several times to Python musical Spamelot). Raph got me to read ‘Y The Last Man’ which is really good – a series of graphic novels inspired by Mary Shelley.

 

And with that our Q&A draws to a close. My sincerest and heartfelt thanks to Mark for taking the time to answer my questions and for supporting Fahrenbruary so much.

 

You can buy both of Mark’s books, ‘Mistress Murder‘ and ‘Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing‘ direct from Fahrenheit Press at the links below:

Mistress Murder cover

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_mistress_murder.html

‘Susie Godly is many things to many people. Lover, daughter, mother, ex-wife, entrepreneur and – in her guise as Mistress Murder – one of the most in-demand dominatrixes in London.
Susie has bought herself a first-class ticket on the hedonism express and shows no sign of slowing down for anyone or anything. Yes, her marriage ended badly – sure, it’s fair to say she’s probably doing a few too many drugs – and yeah, most people would agree her love-life sits at the more ‘complicated’ end of the spectrum – but it’s nothing Susie can’t handle, right?
As she does her best to ride the wave of joyous mayhem she’s created, Susie’s attempts to live her best life are thwarted by the appearance of a mysterious stalker who seems infuriated by both her and her lifestyle. Susie’s dealt with stalkers before of course – they’re par for the course in her business – but this one operates on a different level of malevolence, and she is forced to take desperate steps to ensure her safety and the safety of the people she loves.
Mistress Murder provides a hilarious, beautifully frank, and entirely unselfconscious window into a hedonistic subculture where few have dared to tread.’

 

DREAD

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_dread_the_art_of_serial_killing.html

‘Mr Madden, Dickens enthusiast, muses with his beautiful and bohemian prisoner on possible endings to the famous author’s unfinished final mystery. 
Mr Madden, spy, infiltrates a far right nationalist group in order to set up the thugs for something far more serious than their usual boozy street fights. 
Mr Madden, serial killer, sculpts his Candidates into bizarre and macabre artworks within the bare walls of his dungeon workshop.
And if he is to keep one step ahead of the police, the secret service and his own gory instincts, Mr Madden is going to have to find the answer to the one question that hangs over all our heads:
What would Charles Dickens do?’

The Fires Fahrenbruary – a #Fahrenbruary guest post from Jo Perry

It's an Indie Book Blog

day two banner

For the second day of #Fahrenbruary, I’m really pleased and proud to be able to host a guest post from the incomparable Jo Perry. Jo’s Charlie and Rose books are quintessential Fahrenheit. I adore them, their unique storytelling style, wonderful characters, huge heart and compassion. I’ve reviewed Dead is Better and Dead is Best previously on the blog. My review of Dead is Good will be posted tomorrow for day three.

All three books are available to buy direct from Fahrenheit here

There are even still a few copies of the spectacular limited edition, hand numbered, hardaback available here.

The fourth book in the series, Dead is Beautiful, will be a #Fahrenbruary release – due out on the 14th.

Thats enough from me, apart to say a massive Thank You to Jo Perry who has been a huge supporter of this blog since day one and has gone way…

View original post 602 more words

Mistress Murder

 

Bridget Jones meets 120 Days of Sodom 

Mistress Murder’s To Do List 

1 Catch stalker – Someone who knows me well. 

2 Choose between two lovers 

3 Beat drink and drug addiction 

4 Try not to murder my mother, the pointlessly durable crone 

5 Stop being a pro-domme. Become a psychologist? Vlogger? Flamenco dancer? 

6 I’ve caught him. Can I kill him?

Full length novel £1.69 direct from the FABULOUS Fahrenheit Press

read inside at Amazon or here below. with occasional format glitches courtesy of WordPress’s entirely useless new ‘blocks’ system.  

 

MISTRESS MURDER
cov_mistress_murder_blue_a71c14d9-e859-48b1-be2d-1138261b000b_1024x10242x3
STAY OF EXECUTION

“You can’t kill me,” he says, very confident considering he’s chained to a St Andrew’s Cross. 

“Can’t I?” Well, not just yet. I’d rather look at the moon over St Pauls. Full, bright, maddening. Closing the blinds helps, though there’s still a sinister shimmer. The City of London is deserted at weekends. I’d love to be walking down to the river, shivering as I pass the Tower of London, thinking about subjugated women waiting for the axe. 

I’m in a different sort of dungeon. Where women rule. 

Newcomers love the mingled smell of heavy leather and rubber, the obsessively neat rows of implements. The teasers and tweakers. The strokers and strikers. For me, the thrill has gone. I should stop, really. More than a thousand clients. Several stalkers. Who were a little frightening. Though none were as bad as this guy. Who is terrifying.

“You’ll never do it,” he says.A year of death threats, hate mail, long lens photos on his website, threats to kidnap my son. He’s unafraid, unrepentant. Which is ruining my moment. I’m not a sadist, except for money, and even then I’m generally not as cruel as the clients like. But some people do need some chiding. Taking down a peg or two. Taking down permanently.

“Your life is pathetic,” he says. “Craving control. Pretending to be dominant.” 

“I don’t know. It’s better than a slap in the belly with a dank haddock.” 

‘It’s ‘a slap in the belly with a wet fish’,” he says.

“I know.”

I give him a blast in the stomach with a taser. He has a bit of a flail, gradually regains his arrogance. 

“You can’t kill me. You would have done it by now.”

“I’m a cat. I play with my prey.” 

Wish I hadn’t said that. Sentences shouldn’t rhyme. Then again, you shouldn’t kill people. 
That’s what I’ve always felt. Can I fix that? 

“I know you.” he says, surprisingly arrogant for a man facing a Yoshihiro sushi knife. I put the tip to his throat. He’s now the colour of a super white tuna. 

Should I christen a £5000 blade? It was a present from a Japanese client. The lacquered sheath features a phoenix. He said it would always protect me. He said he loved me – for all the use that was. 

Could I actually do this? Destroy all of the evidence including his body? I’m a good girl. “You haven’t got the guts,” he says. “You’re not who you’re pretending to be,” 

 

“Who is?” 

My name is Susan Godly and I’m a sex, drug and alcohol addict. Which is fine. The only thing I’m ashamed of is being called Susan, and there was nothing much I could have done about it. I blame the parents. My name is almost ‘Sue’s Ungodly’, sounds the same anyway, and that prophecy came true when I was a teenage Goth, of which more later. 

Susan is the name C.S Lewis chose for the older sister who is supposedly too grown up by the end of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. She likes make up and – trigger warning! – she likes nylon stockings. Yes, sheathed female legs, the Devil’s work. So I’m Mistress Marissa, professionally, when I help men become women, with a little lewd chastisement. I’m Mistress Murder for more hardcore clientele. Despite that name I probably can’t kill but I might surprise myself. Particularly if he keeps up the cold contempt, the arrogant condescension. How did we get here? 

THE DEATH THREAT 

“Your going to die, WHORE!!! Im going to slit your dirty fucking THROAT!!”

The first threat. Capital letters scrawled on dirty, torn foolscap paper, inside an envelope with my name on, no stamp. He knows where I live. One of my clients? Surely not. Someone who doesn’t use apostrophes, who writes ‘your’ for ‘you’re’?

Soon I will no longer be a WHORE!!!. I will be a THERAPIST!!!. I’m studying for a psychology degree. With the Open University. Well, some of the time. Even if I weren’t a WHORE!!! this spiteful inadequate would probably still want to kill me, another unavailable woman, someone who makes him feel inferior. I suppose I’m already a therapist, if you count roleplay, but the talking cure would be more respectable. And no repetitive strain injury. 

 

2

MISTRESS MURDER’S MAKEOVER

I’m getting ready for a client, staring at myself in a mirror lit by lights bright enough to crack the toughest suspect. “You’re lovely,” Geezer Hardnut would say, one of my primary partners, who is smitten. I look OK I suppose. 

Forty winters have yet to ‘besiege my brow’, (I am currently celebrating my third twenty-ninth birthday). The said dread winters may yet ‘dig deep trenches in my beauty’s field’ but we now have much better make up than in Shakespeare’s day. 

If only I didn’t need so much time in front of my mirror disguising myself. The last person I need to see is the mad tart caking on the make up. And why bother? When most men would shag a rotting corpse. It’s got a pussy, hasn’t it? What’s wrong with you? You a poof or what? 

“You look fine,” My Man Max would say, eventually, wearily. He’s my other bloke, the one I’m going to keep. Even though he’s only in love with himself – with good reason. Maybe I should eat more. You could chop out a line with my cheekbones. But when does ‘thin’ turn into ‘haggard’? 

Shouldn’t be so self critical but then I aim higher than mere men. I wish to be judged by a jury of my peers. Their criteria is not whether I look attractive to men but whether I terrify them. Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen. 

I tease and tweak my hair. I could soften up and let it loose but I prefer this tight, dark helmet. Louise Brooks with a touch of evil. I spend a long time putting on and taking off make up until I am presentable. Though if the eyes are the window to the soul mine need cleaning. 

MARRY IN HASTE. RESENT AT LEISURE

Drama needs conflict and jeopardy, a mighty battle, something worth fighting for. I’m not short of material, whatever the genre. My marriage was a farce and my divorce is a tragedy which could still damage future generations. In literature comedies end with a marriage. In life, tragedies begin with one. Bit harsh? My child saw that parents can hate each other, sometimes, but those memories tend to last. Will he be afraid of intimacy? Having seen our bickering broil?

Still, you might as well marry, if you’re young and in love. Or so I thought, till I tied the knot – around my own neck. After a good start I spent the next few years gradually suffocating. And when the end came it was anything but merciful. A scumbag once told my friend Crystal he was dying, just to get out of a relationship. She isinsufferable: a spiteful, greedy miser, a user who never does anything unless it profits her or hurts someone else. Painful as that must have been I was dumped for an older woman, the sort of muesli-fetishist who has a white stripe in her hair, on purpose, surely best on badgers or raccoons? Our love had died. But he swappedmefor death by home-made yoghurt. Or could it have been the big bazookas? Was he bullied by breasts? Pinioned by paps? 

Sorry, I overdo alliteration. As a tease.Perhaps I’m hoping that Mr Jenkins my sixth form English teacher will give me a stern talking to before bending me to his iron will. Ahem. Focus. My real problem is… 

WILL I GET MY SON BACK?

I don’t like him being at boarding school. Look what it did to me. I have access but not enough. I’m his mother FFS. My ex-husband was awarded custody because I am a sex worker and a drug user. Or, as judges and the tabloids might have it, ‘Kinky Hooker Mum is drug addict!“ But it’s recreational use. Perhaps on the heavy side, well, industrial, really but not actually addiction. As such. Just lots and lots and lots of ketamine and MDMA. A bit of Charles now and again. I only chase the dragon with someone’s else’s gear and I don’t hang round with losers anyway. I’m loved up. A club raver. Whatevs, I could clean up. I am giving up sex work too. To become a therapist. Or at the very least a Life Coach. I will advise vanilla women how to tame their men. I’ll be their husband whisperer. I’m starting a Vlog: ‘Taming men – Capturing the Beast.’ 

Maybe my life’s not the best example but then what sort of man complains that their woman is a sex maniac? My ex husband, that’s who. He emailed me some miserable drivel, just before we split. He was having difficulty with me having other partners. We were trying polyamory, at least I was. 

“Sexual addiction or hypersexuality is defined as a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy, often in combination with the obsessive pursuit of casual or non-intimate sex; pornography; compulsive masturbation; romantic intensity and objectified partner sex for a period of at least six months”.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” I replied. Flippant perhaps but imagine getting a note saying ‘you’re a loony’. 

I had given him the polyamory bible: The Ethical Slut, or, as it often turns out, ‘How to Get Divorced in Triplicate’. It didn’t convert him. 

He kept on at me. I was already going to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, on and off. Mostly off. I was already getting told off by them. I didn’t need him joining in. Besides, sex is the closest thing I have to a religion. I can’t see the harm in hypersexuality, if hypersexuality actually exists anyway. We are all programmed to have as much sex as possible to keep the human race going. It’s good exercise and although you don’t get out in the fresh air, as in golf, the outfits are way cooler. Some disagree. Most disagree. Do they have the happy marriages to prove it?

3

MISTRESS MURDER’S MINIONS: T-GIRLS and KINKY GUYS

“She seemed to me to be a man in woman’s clothes>” James Boswell on the Chevalier D’Eon, an eighteenth century transvestite. 

I specialize in makeovers, helping men get in touch with their inner female. Unfortunately, most men’s transgendered persona is a slut or a whore. She doesn’t crave chocolate or coo over kitten pics. This is a new evolutionary development: men who think they’re better women than we are. After all, we were only born with vaginas and a sweet tooth. You need a man to do anything properly… Could my stalker be one of my clients? It’s not unknown for trans people to have some mental issues although just saying that gets you death threats from outraged millennials. And how dare you suggest ‘gender’ exists? Whatever that is. Sigh. This used to be fun, not an excuse to be offended or play the victim card. 

Mistress Murder is my new persona. I already have a leather hood, red and black with purple eyelets, red satanic horns. The Domme from Hell. A Mexican wrestler who will wrap her legs around your neck, squeeze you till you beg for mercy. Maybe it’ll scare my stalker. Maybe it will trigger him, incite him to kill me just to defend himself. 

Maybe I should stop overthinking everything. 

I need help, also therapy, a sugar Daddy and a new Mummy, preferably someone with some maternal feelings although I’d settle for anyone who isn’t a sour, disapproving bitch, anyone who isn’t a colossal snob, anyone who isn’t hoarding the family fortune. Let me at it, you pointlessly durable crone. Don’t worry you’ll still be able to belittle and control me once you’re gone. You’ll still haunt me, always assuming you’re actually ever going to die. Even then, she’ll have herself cryogenically frozen, which will cost what’s left of my inheritance. 

4

MASSAGE WITH MY MAN MAX 

I rang My Man Max to discuss the threat. And because I love him. He had been on his way to some black tie dinner but came straight over, hugged me, listened for a while. 

Right now he is pouring more lavender and calendula oil into my hot, foaming bath, a deep golden blend enriched with soy and avocado. His manly musk mixes in with the fragrance of well-scrubbed Mistress Murder – on heat but trying my best to look aloof. He rubs my shoulders with his strong hands, nuzzles the nape of my neck, whispers some lewdly poetic praise into my ear.

“Put the threat out of your mind. There’s a lot of sad, inadequate people out there. This is the only way they can get any attention.”

Deep, manly voice. Strong hands, kneading and soothing.

“Take it to the Police. Let them deal with it. Be even more careful than usual. Carry on living. Otherwise he’s won.”

He makes me feel safe. Protected. 

“Shame you’re not around more often,” I say, then regret it. Never good to sound clingy. 

“I missed your scent,” he says. “Your soulful eyes, your smile.” A neat deflection. Doesn’t address where he’s been. Or who with. 

Then it gets too spicy for public consumption. Scandalously intimate. 

“Down, boy!” I tell him, although he’s making me purr.

My, it’s hot in here. Steamy, too. He must be wilting in his tux, although his starched wing collar remains stiff. Limpness is not an issue with My Man Max. He’s hard when he wants to be and a softy when I need cuddling. He cuddles. He cossets. He’ll cherish you till you’re red in the face, sighing for mercy. He’s an Alpha Male, yet emotionally literate. He’s a moody marauder, a handsome rascal, a lovable rogue. Tall, dark and handsome. Hands on, just where you need them. Big money, big ego and a big weapon in his pants. He listens and he’s good at caring, sharing psycho-babble. He probably learnt it just to keep the female engine running smoothly but how many men would even bother trying? 

He loves fast cars, any sort of engine he can tune to work better. He’s good with his hands. 

There is a catch, needless to say. He’s not around very often. There may be other women, although he says there aren’t. He’s too busy doing something stupefyingly boring for big bucks. Or racing his cars against other laddish millionaires. If not quite a bastard, Max is the unavailable devil we ladies often yearn for. 

Surely I can tame him? Puncture his ego with a few sly barbs? I am skilled at filleting men and removing their backbone. Which I sharpen and use on the next victim. Max is different. His real thing is cars. (What real man’s real thing is women?) If I were a Porsche it would matter if I had developed a worrying noise in the gear-box. (Look, I don’t know or care if Porsches have gearboxes. All I know is that his is cramped and he’s always trying to drive it too fast. It’s more trouble than a catwalk model but at least it doesn’t answer back. He loveshis Porsche. Even if he does cheat on it with a Bentley and a Jaguar. And two Ferraris.) 

So he’s everything I want but he’s not here often enough. There’s too many nights when I sleep with a teddy bear. Too many nights when I’m awake and the flat is full of wide-eyed users – using my body, using drugs. Which I might, er, occasionally use too. Just to keep them company. Just to be polite. 

He could rescue me, protect me. Marry me and make me happy for ever and ever. But he needs his space. Some cheating men smell of perfume. He smells of oil. And money. So he’s flawed. 

I still love him. 

“You are going to take that threat to the Police?” he says. “Not just say you going to.” He knows me so well. 

“Everyone gets death threats now,” I say. “Not hand delivered.” 

“I’d have you killed if you betrayed me,” I tell him. 

He’s not bothered. Though he should be. Being a tad evasive when it comes to commitment.

I get the faintest rasp of stubble as he whispers some sweet and salty sex talk. My Man Max makes the average razor ad Adonis look like an alcoholic rough sleeper but they have yet to invent a razor that can tame his testosterone. Still, if you want a real man you have to take the rough with the smooth. His blue eyes sparkle as he leans in to whisper something rude.

“Stop it!” I tell him. Even if I weren’t giggling he would know I mean ‘Carry on! And crank it up, big boy.’

He’s just back from a City of London function, hence the tux. Something boring yet massively lucrative has just happened to his firm. I’d sooner listen to a drunk, weepy phone call from my mother than attempt to explain what he does. My Man Max plays with pretend money, which turns into large amounts of real cash, too little of which he spends on me. Rich, rugged, racy; he’s still under thirty and yet he is not arrogant. How often do you get that combination? I could call him a toyboy, as I am on my fourth twenty-ninth birthday. However, I look up to him in more than just height.

He’s very smart, without being condescending, masterful, without being overbearing, macho, without being brutish and sensitive without being a big girl’s blouse. He’s a bigger-brained Pierce Brosnan, tough as early Sean Connery, suave as Roger Moore, smart as Timothy Dalton, as ripped as Daniel Craig – all without the wearisome vanity thespians display. He’s Bond without the balderdash. Men like him and womenlurvehim. Some might find his good looks boring, perhaps even gay. But there’s an intriguing scar down the side of one cheek. He changes the explanation for its existence as often as he upgrades his computers so I’m assuming he has a dark secret. 

“Feeling good, honey?” he asks. “Got everything you want?”

“Oh yes. You’reeverything I want.” 

My Man Max puts a manicured hand into the bath and swirls the water around, wafting up aromatic bath oil over us both. He strokes my belly in slow insistent circles, drifting downwards, sailing slowly into port. It doesn’t take long before my eyes are closed and he gives me a brief taste of what is to come. His busy fingers stroke and soothe, rubbing me softly. After a brief sojourn somewhere crucial he withdraws his hand and dries it carefully. No Mess Max, the only house-trained male I ever knew.

“I’ve fluffed the duvet, mixed your Pink Lady, prepared a Cole Porter playlist.”

I was a cocktail pianist once upon a time. Then I was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End bitch for a while, churning out his pigswill on a synthesiser till drug addiction and various personality disorders terminated any further chance of employment. He often made secret visits to check up on his little darlings and my slapdash keyboard work (a little the worse for lunchtime cocktails) once reduced him to tears, the big girl’s blouse. Well, if I achieve nothing else in this life I can still retire happily. I inflicted some much needed pain on that overpaid bumface. With risible hair…oh forget him. Here’s My Man Max. The opposite end of the evolutionary scale. 

“I’ve bought you some Agent Provocateur lingerie. From the new catalogue. Can’t wait to see you in them. Or out of them.” 

Could he be after something? Well, he may very well be in luck. I can’t give in that easily though. It’s the rules. Men should be wrong-footed as often as possible. Which I’m usually happy to do. Although My Man Max and that deep, wicked, manly rasp turns me all gooey. 

“I’ve found Diana Krall versions of ‘You’d be so nice to come home to’. ‘Easy to love’. ‘I get a kick out of you’.”

Three of my favourites. And I can ignore Diana Krall’s virtuosity, beauty, good fortune and happy marriage for these titles remind me of when My Man Max flew me first class to watch a Cole Porter revival on Broadway. He’s so considerate, so desirable and so very hard to resist. I do like proper musicals. The ones not written by bumface. 

For the moment I stay calm, raising an eyebrow, checking in my many mirrors to see if I look inquiring as opposed to imperious. Max understands my moods. I don’t need to shout. The Pink Lady turns out to have enough lemon to be tangy but not enough to make you blanch.

“I forgot the cherry,” he says, “Sorry.”

“Stuff the cherry.”

“Very well, Ma’am.”

A mock bow, a hint of a smile. I toast his very good health. If only he weren’t away so often. If only he weren’t married to fast cars. You think he pampers me? It’s nothing to what those bitches get. So he’s good at massage. Theyget their bodies rubbed and oiled and buffed and…I’d rather not know what else he does to them. 

He leaves on some unspecified errand. I subside back into the water and let it wash away the memory of idiotic clients and the hard ache of missing my son, which is never too far away even during a severe pampering. I picture My Man Max and me on our wedding day. St Paul’s Cathedral or Brixton registry office? And should I have my mother sectioned before the ceremony? 

I recall our last lovemaking, the strangled sound of his release, the sigh of his gratitude. For once he wasn’t in control and that’s my fierce pleasure. Unmanning him for a brief moment. He walks past the open door, naked, his tight, taut bum crying out to be nibbled. 

That does it. I was never too good at delayed gratification. I want him. I want him now. I step out, towel off quickly and walk towards my cherishing.

Fill me up. Up to the brim.

HATE MALE. LEGION OF THE DIM.

DCI Wilson is a friend with benefits, good in bed, though it’s been a while. We’re drinking coffee in a family run Italian place. The bickering sounds classier. 

Shagging a Detective Chief Inspector had its uses. Access to the Police computer, expert analysis of CSI plots and a very good critique of my Policewoman roleplay (When he was naked, cuffed, face down on the bed, begging for a touch of the truncheon.) He reads through the threats, which I photographed and stored on my phone. 

“We should run a DNA test,” he says. “And we need to make this official.”

“What if it’s someone I know? I don’t want to send anyone to prison.” 

“They might get probation. And the therapy they need.”

And it might make them hate me even more, even more determined to kill me. Though it’s still likely to be a sad loner. Even so, these threats have got under my skin, more than the usual hate mail, which we’re all used to by now. Everyone’s at it. Spitting poison on the internet. Flaming, trolling, hacking. What happened to a brisk walk then a nice sit down? Cribbage. Mini golf. Why pretend to be as horrible as possible? In order to win a pointless squabble with total strangers? People who aren’t who they’repretending to be. 

“You’ve had threats before?” he asks. 

“Yeah but this one knows too much about me. Maybe he’s guessing but I don’t know. Everyone gets threats but it’s worse for women.” Inadequate men, hating you because of their mothers, their girlfriends. Maybe their blow up dolls developed a leak. Maybe their Sex Robots rusted. 

“How do you know when it’s a real threat?” I ask. “When does obsession turn to stalking? When does obsession become murder?” 

I should stop being so flowery, so talkative. Why can’t I be strong and silent like him? I drivel on, embarrassing myself in the process. 

“If they’re saying it they probably won’t do it,” he says, finally, when I’ve stopped wittering. “He probably wrote that left-handed so he could tug himself off with his right.”

Trying to reassure me. My lovely gruff bear. Big and huggy. Although that was more than a year ago now. 

I shouldn’t be remembering our brief encounters. But…he’s a hard, muscular man. A tough guy. Good at sex, plenty of staying power. He doesn’t stint when it comes to putting the nosebag on, chowing down. You don’t have to plead for it either. You don’t need threats or bribes. He actually wants to do it. 

While he’s telling me about security I remember his 

tongue teasing my nub, his fingers working wonders. He was a right laugh and he even bought thoughtful presents. But it couldn’t last and it didn’t. The sex worker thing, probably. Tis pity I’m a whore, to customize a play I couldn’t sit through at school. 

“Keep me posted,” he says, getting up to go. “And get me that note.”

That makes me feel better. Although I would prefer to be held in his strong arms till this vague panic goes away for good. Our concluding hug is brief and chaste but leaves me wanting more. His smile warms me on the way to the tube. Till I see him looking solemn at my funeral. Next to my mother who looks as cold and dismissive as ever. And my friends who knew I should have left the life and…everything feels cold. Fear floods me. Is my killer following me? I turn round in the hope of surprising him. One guy swerves to avoid me. Someone else tells me to get out of the fucking way. I keep moving, trying to take slow, deep breaths. Count them, Long slow, deep breaths. 

This would be the day I have no valium. Dumb doc won’t write a prescription in case I get ‘addicted’. As if I would. So I have to keep going, experiencing actual unvarnished reality. And full frazzled anxiety! Don’t panic. Easy to say. 

Maybe my other man will have an answer. 

YOU WANT MY MAN MAX. YOU’D SETTLE FOR GEEZER HARDNUT. 

Geezer Hardnut, up from Brighton, is panting at my feet, pretending to be a randy dog. He’s a lovable hound, the sort of shaggy-coated mongrel that shouldn’t be allowed on the bed. He’s so sweet,cute for a tough guy but still lethal. Pumped up muscles, cropped hair, and too many sharp suits – the great nancy. He has some frightening scars and tattoos from his misspent youth but has renounced violence – except for money. Or when taken suddenly drunk. He is a successful entrepreneur, a club promoter, also an alternative alchemist, selling magic white crystals. I’m trying to give him up. But, like his product, he’s addictive. Fortunately I’m not too fond of Charles. But if it’s there… When in Rome… 

He runs the provisional wing of Fathers Need Justice! (North Kent No Surrender! Branch). Yet he just can’t quit marrying people. He’s a big soppy dog with some lovable traits but why would anyone put up with this mongrel when My Man Max is around? My Man Max is not around. I should probably put that on a macro key to save me the bother of typing it so often. At least Geezer is generous with money and goodies and he’s here, not somewhere else with a rich, dumb floozy. The problem, one of the problems, is that he keeps asking to marry me. 

“We don’t need that. Long. slow death.. Shopping at Homebase.” 

“You can mock. Marriage is a beautiful institution.”

“You should be in an institution,” I tell him. “How much maintenance are you paying?”

“None!” says Geezer. “Trust fund girls love me, their bit of rough.”

Of course. Geezer never loses. So he keeps saying. I’ve seen him cry over his kids. At Christmas. But we don’t talk about that sort of thing. Just in case it sets meoff. 

“So I’m just another posh bird.”

“You’re not like them.”

“How dare you! I went to a boarding school, for young ladies.” “Yeah babe but…you’re not…well…” 

“Yes? Spit it out.” 

“Well…you’re not…aristocratic, are you? Not the Clarissa 

Ponsoby-Smythe type. And I wouldn’t want you to be. 

You’re you. Just you, with all 

your…special qualities. I love you.”

So he does. He says so. He’s in love with me and he feels fine. (Wish he wouldn’t keep playing Beatles songs. What year is this anyway?) But how do I feel? 

It’s complicated.

Also – he’s drugged and bathing in the warmth of a few double brandies. Does he just love the way I make him feel? Does he just love sex? It has been known, with men. And can I compete with the blazing sunshine of his self-love? It must be nice not having to go anywhere else for romance. Just get up, look straight in the mirror and there you are: the object of your affection. You might still have to buy yourself little presents, just to keep yourself sweet. But then you can keep them all to yourself. Well, maybe he’s just young and justly confident of his fit bod and genuine machismo. 

I only wish my mother could see us together. It might just finish her off. With any luck. The shiny suits, the tattoos, the shaven head, the chunky wrist bracelet. I don’t like his jewellery come to think of it but it never seems the right moment to say so. Besides, where else can you find a real man who actually likes women? Most hunks are only interested in shagging each other. Geezer’s not only well-endowed he knows what to do with it. He also loves to lick. He’s quite happy down there, listening to me grunt and groan. It may be because he’s a control freak, and he just likes making things work – cars, computers, women – probably in that order. But, he isn’t My Man Max. And he isn’t the Honourable something or other, the sort of chinless berk my mother would prefer. 

“We were made for each other,” he says. “We should be together.” 

I let him suffer a little. 

“And what makes you think you’re worthy of me?” 

“Oh yeah?” he says, full of himself as usual. “I’m going to write a book, about you entitled, stuck up bitches. ‘It’s only a pussy, not the crown fucking jewels.’ Good title eh? What women need to know. By a man. Simple, really. Stop holding us to ransom. ‘It’s only a pussy. Not the crown fucking jewels.’” 

There is a pause. I’m giving him enough rope with which to hang himself. Geezer is on the verge of repeating this searing philosophical insight, perhaps hoping for opposition, or a tired smile and a weary ‘yeah yeah ‘. He does know he’s on thin ice. 

I pour him another balloon of brandy, wiping and tidying the bar as I go. I avoid my reflection in the mirror. Trying not to see the solitary, fussy old bat I am fast becoming. Even though my ex-husband rarely comes here he reserves the right to complain if it’s not neurotically tidy. 

At first I thought ketamine was the next step in human evolution, perhaps the means by which humans could become divine. I thought the visionary trances were an essential Shamanic tool for exploring consciousness, both before and after death. I could summon angels. Sounds nuts but then K is a radical dissociative. It makes the average LSD trip look like a vicarage tea party. It’s acid. On Acid! Be that as it may, if you take horse tranquilliser too often your flat gets as messy as a stables. So I’m giving it up. No more three day binges for me. I didn’t buy any today. 

Not yet. 

Geezer doesn’t like me on it. He can’t take the k-hole blackouts, the lunatic conversations, the near death experiences, not of all which are euphoric. He’s a bit of a lightweight, really. Actually, he’s a control freak who can’t be doing with time running backwards and out of body experiences before lunch. That’s why he prefers coke. Which can make him too aggressive. Would it make him mad enough to send me death threats? Unlikely as he’s totally smitten. But unrequited love can make people crazy.

“You’d never crack and start sending me death threats would you?” I ask. He doesn’t break down and confess just looks puzzled. He genuinely has no idea of what I’m talking about. And, not for the first time, neither do I. 

“I might,” he says, “if you kept taunting me with some other bloke.”

“You know we’re not exclusive.”

“Yeah but Max is a poof. And you’ll never get him anyway.” 

“What do youknow about it?”

“He’s out of your league.” 

I’m out of your league.” 

“Oh yeah, who was screaming how much she loves it? Getting a good portion. Getting it right up the…” 

“You’re so crude.” 

“And you love it.” 

And I do. But I don’t love him.No doubt how much I love my crystal Goddess though, Lady K. Which I need medically, as it’s a cure for bipolar depression. It is. Well, if administered in small doses under clinical conditions. One day I will be rewarded for my pioneering research. Just you wait. 

“Thanks, babe,” says Geezer, receiving his brandy with as much grace as he can muster, for a nude man with a large glistening semi. I love him saying ‘babe’, any sign of affection really. I get sloppy and sentimental when told to ‘mind the gap’ on the tube. At leastsomebodycares about me. Well Geezer does but…is it enough? Would I be any good as a gangster’s moll? 

“‘It’s only a pussy,” he says, still proud of this idiotic assertion. “Not the crown fucking jewels.”

“A little less anger dear. Makes you sound sad and bitter.” 

“Then I’m going to do another book,” says Geezer. “’And bum-holes are tighter too.’”

Most amusing. I could say, ‘and you should know’ but then hard men can be a little touchy about situational homosexuality. More of them than you might think are bi and fighting it and some of the straight ones have experienced male rape in various prison and army settings, as rarely seen in geezer chic gangster pics. This is the secret no one wants to know. Some men like a bit of that. 

“Sounds like a great movie,” I tell him. “Who will play the bum-hole? Hugh Grant? He’s getting a bit old to play you, isn’t he?”

“Oh Ha Ha. No. I want Danny Dyer.”

“What?” 

“Him off Eastenders.” 

“I know! And I do NOT watch Eastenders!” 

“Keep your hair on, Lady Muck. I know you’d never watch a soap. Apart from all those American series.”

“That’s long form drama.”

“Keep telling yourself that.”

There is a grumpy silence. Just as I finally simmer down, he gets me again. 

“Shall I put The Football Factory on?”

“Oh for…”

Big ‘gotcha’ grin. Time he had a good punitive cropping. Nothing sexual, just a damn good thrashing, till he’s begging for mercy. Danny bloody Dyer.

He once made me sit through The Football Factory. Recall is swift and painful. And why do their horrible clothes cost so much? Plastic anorak with logo – £200.

The broadsheets are always bemoaning the death of the British Film Industry. You can’t lose with a film about football yobs or neanderthals in Essex Range Rovers. You’re ‘Larfing! Having a right tin bath!’ 

I look at Geezer and ponder the cultural chasm between us, much wider than the usual moat dividing men and women. 

“Why are we together?” I ask. Geezer says something very rude indeed in reply. It could be interpreted as a slur upon my honour. 

Oh well. I say some very rude things back and Geezer pulls my knicks down and starts doing what I want. What we both want. 

“You love it. You love it, you filthy bitch.” 

I don’t love this particular phrase but it excites my valiant swain, who keeps on stoking my fire. And on. He doesn’t stint himself. Or me. Once we’ve scraped ourselves back down from the ceiling there’s a lovely, long cuddle afterwards. And he says some soppy stuff he keeps for me alone. 

It could be worse. 

Perhaps if he was unavailable I would yearn for him and I would be in love. Like he is in love with me. Because, ultimately, I’m unavailable to him. As it is, I’m bitching about a coupling that works. Love is a bitch. Is this love? Well, yes, sort of, but not while My Man Max is still a contender. Geezer knows all this, or at least I keep telling him it. But he’s persistent. I’ll give him that. 

I suppose I’ll miss him when the time comes. I’ll worry about that later. Sufficient to the day the troubles thereof, said some Galilean hippie. 

7 ‘I CLEAN THE STREET’S. OF FUCKING WHORES!’

Another hand delivered threat. Written in blood. Could be ochre paint I suppose. Which is no excuse for rogue apostrophes. Or is he just pretending to be stupid? I ring the Police, who aren’t interested. Maybe I should have called it a hate crime. If only he’d misgendered me, on Twitter, they would have sent a squad car. 

8 GILES AND ME. CAN’T YOU TAKE A JOKE?

My MP client has just come – finally! The Goddess be praised. ‘Roxy’ gets up off her knees and is Giles once more. Well, you’re not likely to mistake ‘Roxy’ for a woman, or a t-girl, one of those who can ‘pass’. He’s a bloke in drag, en drab, in the jargon. There’s nothing wrong with that but I sometimes get ‘Roxy’ mansplaining make up and what really suits ‘her’. How to be a woman – by a guy. 

He wipes his make up off, peels off the fishnets, looking very pleased with himself, as usual. Time someone burst his bubble. 

“My boyfriend thinks I should blackmail you.” 

What on earth made me say that? Spirit possession? Satan himself? I soften it with a smile. He’s not amused. 

“I’m joking.” 

He’s looking down at me. The air has frozen solid. 

“I could have him killed,” he says. “Pimps don’t get in the way of what we’redoing, dear.” He’s never called me ‘dear’, practically spitting at me.

“It was a joke.” 

“Was it really? Tell your moronic thug that anyone can be killed cheaply, as he will know. We have people disappeared.”

“Who’s ‘we’?” 

Thin smile. He makes regular trips all over the Middle East, on behalf of a security consultancy, privatised spooks performing various shadowy services. They must be really good at it because there’s going to be peace any day soon. Or there might just be more lucrative carnage. Something’s bought him a big house in Chelsea. 

“You don’t need to know,” he says. “Tell him it’s the Rothschilds or the Bilderbergs. Throw in Chemtrails and Mossad, some ‘conspiracy’ you moronsmight believe.I’m too important to be fucked with. That’s all you need to know.” 

He’s still staring down at me, glaring, trying to burn my eyes out.

“I get it, no need to make a meal out of it,” 

“You and lover boy get in my way you’ll just vanish. Like that.” 

He clicks his fingers. It’s genuinely chilling. Despite the burlesque outfit and the recent age regression roleplay. Or does that make it worse? 

“I’m sorry,” I say. A curt nod. 

He gives me an extra hundred quid, throwing it at my feet and insisting I pick it up. He sneers when I comply. 

9 “I BOUGHT YOU A NEW DIET BOOK, DEAR. I KNOW HOW KEEN YOU ARE TO LOSE WEIGHT.”

Tea with Mother. At the Langham Hotel. Where I used to play the piano back in the day. Right opposite the BBC. Palm plants and the sort of celebrities my mother’s heard of: Melvyn Bragg, John Humphreys. Geriatric lounge lizards. 

I look at the diet book. A 5:2 system, two days fast, five days eat normally. As I’ve been on the E Plan diet for some years I’m more in need of a guide to bulking up. The Italian Mama pasta diet perhaps. Neither do I need the other book, ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies.’ Well, I might needit but I’m not ready for it and I resent the Dummy insinuation. Over sensitive perhaps but then everything she does rubs me up the wrong way. 

‘I worry about you,” she says. “When I was your age I had your father.’

And look how well that turned out. 

“Why do I need a diet book? I’m practically skeletal.” Although I’m now starting to doubt that. This is what she does to me. 

“I’m sorry. I haven’t seen you since last Christmas. You were talking about diets.” 

“Someone else’s diet. You were talking about Nigel Lawson. The Conservative politician. He lost tons of weight then wrote a book. Do I look like I need to lose weight?” 

She doesn’t doesn’t answer for just long enough to plant doubt and self-loathing. 

“What’s the diet?”

“No alcohol, no sugar, no dairy. I’ll get the book if you want.” 

NO!He looks dreadful. Like a collapsed scrotum.”

“You could pass it on. Regifting, I think it’s called.” 

“Yes, women love that. When you give them a diet book.” 

I tug my skirt down, conscious that a mini skirt was more appropriate to clubbing with Geezer last night than tea with Mama. I woke up late, hungover and needing more chemical confidence. We were chatting and chortling, way past dawn. 

“That is a rather daring skirt, dear. You can see what you had for breakfast.” 

Not long now. And then I won’t have to see her till Christmas. 

A moptop celebrity guitarist arrives with an eager to please BBC person. He defined the mid nineties, by pillaging the sixties. An affable funny guy who, annoyingly, has even managed to kick a massive habit. 

“Cocaine,” says my mother, spotting him. I suppose it’s all in her Daily Mail. “It makes good people tiresome and bad people evil.”

Is she quoting someone? Did she actually make that up?

“Don’t look so shocked darling. Before your father I was with a Harley Street Doctor.” 

And with anyone else with the price of a champagne cocktail. And delivery men, shoeshine boys and guys who stopped to ask the time. She once tried to corrupt a Jehovah’s Witness but his faith was too strong. Maybe he recognized the Devil had assumed female form. 

“I tried it once, didn’t like it,” she says. “He wanted me to inject his bottom. Sad little pervert. Is that the sort of thing you like?”

“What?! I’m not going to discuss my sex life.” 

“Bit quiet? You can always take evening classes. Great way to meet men.”

“I’m meeting enough men, thank you.” 

“Well don’t be so fussy. If I’d have waited for a perfect man you’d never have been born. And that’s what we’re here for, darling. Reproduction. Keeping the human race going.” 

“I have a son.” 

“Yes but wouldn’t you like another one you could see more of?” 

She must know this hurts. More than anything else. But she can’t or won’t stop. Is it a disease or condition? Manic cunt syndrome? No boundaries, breathtaking offensiveness, useless advice, unwanted help. 

I really hate people who look at their phones in company. I’m now trying to calm myself down by seeing if I’ve had any more emailed death threats. 

“Darling, we said no phones.” 

I have a text from my stalker. 

“That skirt is far too short. Cover yourself up, WHORE!”

I close my eyes. 

“Bad news?” she asks. 

“No, just my life coach. Keeping me on my toes. Time I got back, lovely seeing you.”

“Anything I can help with? Something I can get for Josh. You must miss him.” 

Only all the time. 

………………………. 

Will goodness prevail? Choppy waters ahead…