The Chosen

Short story including free audio book

My body aches. Yesterday I was a surf bunny. Today I feel like a sandblasted rodent casserole. Of course, I am home in France. Already a few glasses of smooth Bordeaux wine have loosened my tensions and this wicked world seems a long way away. The sun drenched brochure busting beaches of the Ile d’ Oleron are too close to ignore. Yesterday I set out with my body board and came back with a boarded up body. Something has happened in the last 25 years – but at least a lot more of me floats nicely.

Surf bunny

This preamble on my luxurious hedonism brings me to the real subject of this blog. We all have dreams of the good life one day. Wealth, worldly success and status could be ours one day. For many folk of my latter end boomer generation, there were levers there to be pulled. Most of my contemporaries obtained jobs and careers with quite modest educational qualifications. Company pensions were generous and you could expect to bring up kids in a decent dwelling. Things are far tougher now – just reflect for a minute on the long term impact of  50%  youth unemployment in Greece and Spain. My own life has been fairly much working class – but there was work and an income to be gained.  

One of the paradoxical comedy clichés of our time is the aspirational no-hoper. The hapless home mechanics and D.I.Y. enthusiasts provide a wealth of sit-com fodder. The little guy who dreams of getting to be Mr BIG, the ugly guy who tries to date Miss World are far more than comic stereotypes. There are thousands and thousands of them. I think I might be one in my own little way. A while ago I was waiting for a party at a horse race meeting and I was chatting to a few other drivers about the lives they had led. A chatty Londoner explained to me that although he was a humble figure, he had once been wealthy and that it was only a matter of time until he was up there again. He told me a bizarre love story. I don’t think he guessed that I would write it down as “The Chosen”. 

I love short stories. As a kid I used to listen to them on the radio. Typically a story would last for 15 minutes. To me, this is how the narrative must have been before literacy. Folk would tell a story of a real event or a handed down traditional tale. The listeners would stretch their imaginations to visualise the characters. My idea of a magic mammoth may not be yours! (As a child I hated picture books that stole my own images).  I have always written short stories and I believe in them as a pure form of the tale. The possibility of adding audio now gives authors the chance to go back to the true roots of fiction – the out loud story. The novel is a new experiment by comparison. The continuing success of “Sub Prime” with audio has encouraged me to add a free audio track to “The Chosen”. So great is my belief in the audio story that I release stories as “singles” in the way that the old 45 records were sold. If you look at the way that music is purchased on iTunes it is clear that punters are keen to pay a few pence for just a single track from an album rather than buy the whole deal. Stephen Woodfin’s blog provides an interesting discussion on this topic.

Oscar Sparrow

“The Chosen” is narrated by my best mate,  the poet Oscar Sparrow. (He is used to reading in front of people and not getting paid). The story was written specifically for audio with the emphasis on dialogue between two characters. In order to differentiate between them I gave them very different accents. Since I do not like strong accents in written text, I have used plain English for the characters. The audio is accented and essentially is a different form of the story. If you get it, please let me know how it works for you.

Links for The Chosen:

Emma thinx: Length matters, keep it in your shorts.

Matthew 5:5.

At 7am my mobile phone was ringing.It was the mother of one of the kids on my bus.
” I’m sorry dear….ee can’t come today – I’m took bad an’ I’m up the ‘ospitall. I ‘ad to send him round to my mate coz I can’t leave ‘im indoors like ee is.”
She is an ageing mother now, in poor health. They cling to each other in a tiny fragile life boat. Yesterday a survey revealed that fewer and fewer UK citizens really cared about those poorer than themselves and blamed them for being lazy. That’s OK then.

Emma thinx: Hiring now. Meek needed for major earthworks.

Toilet Humour For Robots

You know those shows like “Les Miserables” and “Oliver” where there are always packs of ragged urchins in dirty clothes and smeared faces. All the same, they intone in posh fake underprivileged accents and defy their filth with their perfect white teeth dazzling from their blackened well nourished rosy skin. It’s a form of theatre I have always called Singing In The Pain. You would think that these historical “shows” are colourful cameos of those poor n ‘appy snappy, golden gutter, good old days. Please forgive my little pastiche of show biz poverty. It helps if you flap your arms like a bird and do a knees up misery minuet. 

The trouble is that when you come across kids who are are only slightly less piteous, who smell and whose crooked teeth are already stained with tobacco, you kinda think they should be cheerful.  They are not. I pulled up in the bus this morning and picked my way through the detritus spilled from ruptured bin bags on some wasteland which adjoins a run down house. A chaos of bins, old bikes, a bed and a rusty supermarket trolley vie for dominance in a garden of unintentional  urban art. Eventually a lad stumbled out, unwashed in the same torn soiled clothes he always wears. This is 2011. We have been to the moon. So far we haven’t got to poverty and more importantly, its causes. Some politicos will tell you it is not there. Follow your noses guys.

As an act of goodness I agreed to do some child sitting this morning. It was not too tough, but it was a peep at a world that I had forgotten. On the TV was a channel clearly sponsored by some global coloured plastic manufacturer. A few seconds of cartoons were followed by about 15 minutes of toy advertising. One toy caught my eye and actually made me laugh aloud. It is called “Stinky the garbage truck”. It is billed as “interactive” and you can see it here. The imagination of these toy designers is truly fantastic. This machine belches, farts and defecates. It bellows and sings and actually is the most crass and UTTERLY DESIRABLE TOY  I have ever seen. I have had dinner parties with  people who have behaved very similarly but without the entertainment. I want one and I’m gonna pester and pester and pester and stamp and whine ’til I get one.

Another toy was a radio controlled tarantula. Some horrible boy was tormenting his squealing sister into terror. In my youth they just stuffed a frog down your knickers. I guess  you just can’t  get the frogs these days. I’ve never mentioned it to Gilles.

Emma thinx: Imagination – the pale public mask of unlimited fantasy.