Jessica-Marie and Martin 'Beejay' Wells

Jessica-Marie and Martin 'Beejay' Wells
be together, play together, learn together

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Death of a friend

Having read a bunch of poetry on Jeffrey Holler's website ( moving stuff for anyone who cares ) I thought of a poem I wrote just after I'd done a tour in Northern Ireland in 1970. It's taken a little while to dig out the manuscript of all the shit I penned back in those days as a young Royal Engineer. Stuff I still don't have the heart to chuck away after 40 years of dragging it round half the Northern Hemisphere.

Hope you enjoy this one Jeffrey. I don't normally touch serious. Sometimes it gets a bit too close.

      Death of a Friend

Walks slow; the street, silent
in the cold night air.
Dark shadows hold the dangers,
can't see them but they're there.

Stops at every hungry doorway,
every greedy corner on the block.
Scared, shaking, hesitates.
Doesn't hear the Armalite cocked.

Fails to see the barrel
pointing mockingly at his breast
never heard the whistle of the round
that smashed into his chest

Now the not so silent streets
too late, echo the siren's wail
While the moon reflects bewilderment
on the soldiers face, so pale

I knelt down beside him
tears streaming from my eyes
and though I'm not relgious
I prayed, 'Lord don't let him die

The only friend I have
He's committed no sin
There's only one mistake he's made
dressed in the clothes he's in.

Coming here to Ireland
as a soldier of the Queen
so proud of a fucking uniform
and he's only seventeen

M. Wells (July 1970)

I wonder why....................

Despite the fact that I have American friends in and around a circle including WashingtonDC, California, Arizona - okay, forget Arizona. She was a bitch, really. - Tennessee, Florida, New York and Maine, the publishers and agents over there don't seem to want to touch my work. I, personally, am not anti-American, even if I can't stand Hershy bars and refuse to eat in McDonald's fast food establishments. With the amount of people in the queue it's not that fast anyway. (made the mistake of trying one when I took the Muppet to Antwerp during Easter vacation to visit Aquatopia) Anyway, just for the hell of it, here's an extract from 'No Justice', my latest piece of drivel. It would have been a full novel if the U.S. Navy SEALS hadn't screwed the ending.

Mahmoud Bakrah, or Moody as we knew him, leaned forward and threw a handful of what he humourously called local chopped herbs over the carcass. I wasn't sure what to make of the raised eyebrow and cheesy smile. Moody was an Arab, so most likely his version of flavour enhancers wouldn't tally with mine but it did add to the aroma and, possibly more importantly, the anticipation of our first hot meal in two days.
             Moody – a short, thick set, ugly looking fifty three year old with narrow, piercing black eyes, a hooked nose you could ski down and a thick black beard the size of a small rain forest was, to be more precise, an Iraqi. An Iraqi who – in somewhat of a hurry – gave up his commission as a Major in the Republican Guard not long after the Cruise missiles began rearranging the architecture in and around Baghdad early in the spring of 2003. He was bright enough to know what end of a camel the shit came from. Rumour has it, he was about to relieve Saddam Hussein of his breathing abilities in December the same year when the Yanks stopped him and claimed the capture them selves. Another of those "how good are we" moments.
             I guess giving the credit and reward to a rag head wouldn't sit well with the good folks back home; sitting in their comfy arm chairs, bottle of Bud in one hand, fat cigar in the other, cheering on their gung ho Marines as they shot and stormed their way across the truck sized plasma screen T.V., boosting the body count and collateral damage. All this along with the shock and awe tactics of bombing the shit out of Baghdad. The only shock to us on the ground at the time, was that any of the super technology credited to the U.S.A.F. and U.S.N. managed to put a smart bomb or missile on the right target, or indeed find the right fucking target in the first place.
             I dread to think of the failure rate in American colleges and universities when it comes to geography exams. They think the Middle East is a point halfway between Jerusalem and the Gaza strip, and that Belgium is a suburb of Brussels. If al-Qaeda's map reading had been as bad on 9/11 they'd have taken out two tall chimneys and a bouncy castle, although the bouncy castle might have given them trouble coming to a dead stop.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Well, that wasn't too bad. Hmmmm.

Well, the bike ride wasn't so bad, apart from it's bloody cold out today. On a scale from, being booted up the bum by a size nine, to getting thumped on the nose by an Essex night club bouncer, I'd have to go with the first. That is, if I don't count having the stitches being taken out by a doctor who I'm sure used to be anchor man on the Belgian tug-of-friggin' war team.
       Didn't even have the front to give one of those 'this won't a bit hurt' smiles. Nah. Straight in. Snip, pull. I know. I should've known better. I should have had his balls in my hand first. There hasn't been a scream of pain come out of my mouth that loud since the cat got me with two sets of claws when I tried to steal his leftovers.
       Worth it though to see the looks on the faces of the four pensioners sitting in the waiting room as I left his torture chamber.

Back in the saddle

Someone, somewhere, once wrote or said - maybe even both - "What doesn't kill me can only make me stronger."
        Well obviously, the stupid git hadn't had two near fatal heart attacks, peritonitis, a recent appendectomy and faced an uphill, four kilometre cycle ride to his doctor for a check-up.

         IF..... I make it back with nothing more than the usual sore bum - bicycle saddles were never designed for comfort - I'll be as happy as a politician who's expenses scam hasn't been discovered yet.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Verbal doodling

I read the news today, oh boy.
10,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire

The Beatles wrote that in the '60's. Wonder how many holes are there today.
They wrote Penny Lane around the same time. What's that worth with inflation?
And, 'Baby, you can drive my car'. Obviously not a Belgian baby. Their adult drivers are lethal enough

The Beatles inspired a lot of musicians. They inspired me to become a Rolling Stones fan.

My little Muppet had me download a bunch of stuff for her new MP3 player a short time ago. High School Musical and a load of people I've never heard of, plus Justin bloody Bieber. She's a little mad at me though. Right in the middle of all the bubblegum pop crap, I stuck AC/DC's Highway to Hell. No reason she shouldn't listen to some good stuff.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bloody smart smart arse kids

As I do on virtually every Wednesday evening I had a phone call from the ten year old Muppet tonight. I haven't seen much of Jessica-Marie in the last few weeks, what with hospitals and operations and stuff getting in the way of trying to function normally. That's normally in inverted commas, most of those who know me would say. Anyway, the conversation went something like this.

Hello Sweety, how are you?
Good, how are you?
Wow, you actually remembered to enquire about my health. That's a first.
Yeah, well.
Only pulling your leg, Sweety. How was was drama class this afternoon?
Didn't go.
Oh, and why not?
Teacher was sick.
Oh, shame. What about school this week? How's that going?
You can talk in full sentences if you like. I won't mind.
What did you have for lunch today?
Don't remember.
Gordon Bennet, Jessica-Marie. You get 100% in all your exams, well, except art and religious studies, and you can't remember what you had for lunch. Never mind. You know what's special about next Thursday?
No. It comes before a Friday, like tomorrow does.
Yeah right, you little smart arse.
I know.
What? You know you're a smart arse?
No, I know it's your birthday.
Well done. Anyway I started on Twitter today. You know what that is?
( I know. I left myself wide open)
Of course I do, Daddy. Doesn't everybody?
Yeah, well it took me a while to get get it sorted.
That's because you know nothing.
( I should've quit right there)
Oi, you little Muppet, have a bit of respect for your old man.
( There's where I walked right into it)
Operative word being old, eh, Daddy?
Thank you very much. The nurses at the hospital said I didn't look nearly sixty-two.
( I should've known better)
What did they think you were? A hundred and two?
You are so in bother when I see you next.
No problem. Got to go now and eat, Daddy.
Okay, talk to you at the weekend.
Okay, Daddy.
Bye, Sweety. Love you, miss you.
Love you, miss you too, Daddy. Bye.

Ten years old and a bloody answer for everything and English isn't her first language. Still, it shows where her sense of humour comes from. Proud of her. She'll grow up breaking hearts and bank accounts. As long as it ain't my bank account, that's dodgy enough as it is.

Meet my friend Steve


It is with a great feeling of pride ( and more than a little envy ) I welcome a good friend and fellow author to my blog for a bit of a banter and an interrogation. (Damn, the backspace button isn't working; that should read interview.) Steve Emmett, whose novel Diavolino has been recently published by Etopia Press and is currently ( as I grind my teeth and check for spelling errors ) receiving rave reviews, while my rave rejection letters are mere specks of deleted cyber dust. Hey, enough of my inadequacies. They're as much history as is my recently dear departed appendix.

MBW :- Steve, thanks for taking a little of your time out of what must be a very hectic schedule. Now you're a published author, possibly on the way to a best seller, earning a bit of wedge - nudge, nudge, know what I mean - have you got any change for the coffee machine?

SE :- What? After having forked out for a costly repair to my beloved Gaggia? I felt like an alcoholic at a Muslim wedding when it broke down. When they told me it would take twenty-one days to fix I broke down in tears.

MBW :- What the hell's a Gaggia? Never mind I'll Google it while you get the expressos. Seriously though, we've known each other since before you moved back to the U.K. from Italy and during that time you've been lucky enough to read, critique and heap glowing praise on some of my work, so didn't you feel a tad, an intzy wintzy tad, guilty, when your publisher gave you a deal just a week after turning down some of the best stuff you've ever read? (note for readers: You give something, you gotta take something back. Heh, heh. Okay so I'm fishing for compliments to soothe a battered ego.)

SE :- As a lapsed Catholic I cultivate guilt on my back. If I have nothing to feel guilty about I invent something. But, yes, my elation at my own success was tainted somewhat at your rejection and, presumably, the utter crushing misery that followed it (note to readers: this is a joke). In my opinion, publishers are missing out on something really big by not taking you on (OK, maybe a big overdraft but I doubt it). You write so fluently and have a unique voice. Few writers can make me laugh out loud – but you do. Perhaps they are afraid of you because you refuse to bow to political correctness, but how would that explain the success of someone like Frankie Boyle? I know you are not a fan so, I hope you don’t mind me mentioning his name?

MBW :- Ah, Frankie Boyle. Talk to him on the phone and you wouldn't need a scrambler. As for being P.C. In my case it probably stands for Piss-takingly Corrosive. Anyway, the only other author that springs quickly to my non literary mind, who writes as vividly and as locally, so to speak, as you do, is Ian Rankin, with his novels set in and around Edinburgh. Did you ever consider any other setting for Diavolino or did it seem the natural thing; to write about the area you were living in at the time?

SE :- Diavolino was never going to be anywhere except Italy. My knowledge of the locations, characters and the ever-present Church was too much to ignore. Although I had tired of living in Italy – I started my business there in 1987 – I do love the country and the ordinary people so it will always be a huge influence on me. Interesting you mention Rankin as I have never read him. (Better switch on the WiFi on my Kindle). Other readers have compared me to Stephen King and Dan Brown which is kind of a mixed blessing I suppose. In the end what I want to do is entertain the reader and leave them waiting for my next book…Martin? You asleep? *slaps table*

MBW :- Sorry, you caught me waiting for your next book. Let's not get into Dan Brown comparisons. I can't afford a lawsuit. Can't afford any kind of suit really. My t-shirts have more holes in them than a Baghdad hotel. I know you've been asked before about where your inspiration to write horror fiction came from but did you have a bad experience as a kid that you've drawn on? Bigger kids stealing your sweets, giving you wedgies, ripping up your homework?

SE :- Here’s twenty Euro for coffee, you may need it. I didn’t have a bad experience as a child – my childhood was one long bad experience! You don’t realise how grim it is when you’re a kid. Materially we were well off but I was starved of affection. When I look back I understand that I was always insecure and afraid. The fear was stoked by what I was told at the Catholic school about Purgatory and burning in Hell. So do you wonder that I now write about those places?

MBW :- You worry about purgatory yet you chose to move back to Yorkshire. There must be an oxymoron in there somewhere but that'll do for a later discussion. As you know, I lived for a time in Starbeck, not exactly the Paris of the North, and Bram Stoker (author of Dracula ) spent his summers in Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast, so it doesn't surprise me that stories of horror from that county are plentiful. Do you think you'll eventually set some grim tale in or around the Yorkshire moors? Or perhaps a story of a Yorkshireman dropping the last ball in the County Cricket Championship, giving Hampshire, or heaven forbid, Lancashire, the win. Now there's a nightmare scenario for a Tyke.

SE :- Shocking as it may be, I loathe cricket. My great grandfather was a Yorkshire player and actually got picked for England, but he got dumped as he was too fond of booze and women. I wish I’d known him. Erm, his son, my grandfather, grew up to be a pillar of the community and played cricket as well as soccer (he gave up soccer when they stopped wearing ‘boots’ and moved to ‘slippers’ as he said, sometime after WWII I think). But yes, I shall be penning a Yorkshire tale soon and I will give you a little exclusive news item right now: next month I am going to stay in the UK’s most haunted building to garner ideas. It’s not actually in Yorkshire but it is ‘up north’. I reckon that a ghost with a gripe and a Yorkshire outlook might make an interesting character.

MBW :- Ha, visions of the great Harvey Smith on a phosphorescent stallion, scaring the crap out of anything on the North Yorkshire moors. Steve, it's not often a Hampshire lad, with Lancashire parents, gets to take the piss out of a Yorkshire Tyke in the name of publicity so I'd like to say many thanks for being a good sport and wish you the best of luck with Diavolino and the sequel when it comes out. It's been a pleasure to have a banter with you, an even greater pleasure having you as a personal friend and if there wasn't 350 miles and the English Channel between us I'd give you a big hug, mate.

SE :- I can only say likewise. One day I will manage to call on you in Belgium and I hope it will be to celebrate your own book deal. Don’t give up!

MBW :- I'll look forward to that immensely. Not you coming over; I mean a book deal.

For a more comprehensive (and probably more sensible) look into Steve's life as an incredibly talented horror writer visit his blog and don't forget to tell him I sent you. 

You may also want to take a peek at his website 


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Some of my internals have gone

After cultivating appendicitis and subsequent life threatening peritonitis during the last five days of  April, followed by ten days in hospital with instructions 'nil by mouth except water', ( in Dutch, 'aleen water, nul te eten'), intraveinously pumped full of antibiotics and pain killer, sent home on a course of antibiotic pills the size of small friggin' house bricks - I swear you could've built a small bungalow with the amount I had forced upon me - they finally took out my appendix Wednesday 18th May and let me leave hospital on Friday afternoon the 20th, probably thinking I had somebody picking me up.
         No friends answering their phones. No buses without waiting for two more hours. No wedge to pay for a taxi. Nobody available so I hoofed it. Not the best idea I've ever given fruit to. I twice threw up some green liquid with white lumps ( no tomato skins or chunks of carrot )  on the walk to the bus station. Normally a ten minute walk but  this time it took me thirty-five minutes. Pain and walking sit on opposite ends of the subs bench apparently. Then I threw up the same sort of green slime four times outside the door to the building where I live. Needless to say, it was a little while before I plucked up the courage of a geriatric moggy and dragged myself, very, very slowly, up the 58 steps to my apartment. I think they may well have let me out a day or two too early.
         Still, it saved putting more money into a greedy, expensive hospital system. Mind you, I did have my bits shaved by a pretty nurse before the op, while another two spectated. Shame I couldn't read their minds or perhaps it's just as well I couldn't. Of course that's small (maybe that's what they were thinking )  consolation for the pain afterwards. Seems the only time my bits get handled by a woman these days is either during a bed bath or having the bloody things shaved. So, looking back, now I feel somewhat better, I suppose hospitals do have their good side.
         Of course, appendectomies aren't what they used to be. There's no bloody great scar to brag about and show off down at the local. Nowadays it's done through three small holes in the abdomen. One apparently is to blow air in which I presume is to enlarge the workspace, so to speak, one to shove a camera in so the surgeon gets a clear shot of what he's ripping out and one for, well, the knife and needle I suppose. Whatever. When the plasters ( see below and I make no appologies for flashing my belly on the net ) are removed, there won't be a lot to show for the pain and suffering. At least in some countries you can earn some wedge for flogging a kidney. Naturally not if you're a newspaper hack or a detective. It takes too many whiskies to learn their trades. Probably written in their contracts somewhere.

Not a pretty sight