In 2005, ballasted by Robert Kilroy-Silk’s emerging UKIP party, Jamie’s School Dinners, and a climate of fear boosted by the aftermath of 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, I had plans for a novel. This novel would be called ‘Pork Pie’. At the same time I was writing another novel called ‘The Good Book’, which was be my life, death, the universe and everything book, using angry young man satire, an omniscient narrator and a cast of characters and parallel universes.
In 2016, with a lot of the satire now being reality, I am toying with the idea of resurrecting them. The question is; should I write them as two novels, or include ‘Pork Pie’ inside ‘The Good Book’ and make it even more of a self-reflective beast than it already is?
With the inspirations sited above, ‘Pork Pie’ began writing itself. England is in a state of despondency and suffering from a lack of identity. A climate of fear. What is needed, the powers that be decide, is a youthful everyman to teach the children about healthy eating, sports and pride in their appearance, instead of vegetating inside eating crisps etc. Healthy bodies would equal healthy minds.
With an impressive marketing campaign, roadshows and rallies, this dream id realised. The youth ditchtheir slovenly ways and begin to strive for perfection. Anything short of this is to be mocked, derided and ultimately discarded. Ultimately, body fascism is taken to its logical extreme. Their parents would be turned against violently, and they would follow the powers that be into creating a perfect super-race.
A chain of schools near Birmingham’s City Centre would be set up as a headquarters, with internment camps set up around the region for those deemed as imperfections. The celebrity chef has also been disposed with, and anybody who doesn’t fit into the totalitarian state is used as human-weaponry, eaten, or used in a series of bizarre experiments.
However, it is up to two terrorist organisations, both marginalised and brutalised by this new regime to join forces in love and in war. When fighting fire with fire isn’t seen to work, they both turn to more mystical ways to unite and save England from itself…
Pork Pie was intended to be read as a satire and a (very) black comedy. In writing the bulk of the synopsis in a notebook whilst temp working for the National Probation Service and the NHS, over the next few years I would tinker with it and write more poems describing the action, five of which (four listed and one unlisted) appeared in my debut stand-alone collection of poetry and prose Dust Particles.
I put the idea on the back burner when starting to write The Wind, and also when the satire of centring the action around a celebrity chef was no longer current. I also was worried about the impact that the book may have, it being quite ham-fisted (pun intended) and unrealised. However, given we are now in 2016 and seem to be careering again toward an undecided vicious time (a perpetual vicious circle which seems to have lasted for the majority of this century) I feel that I should at least try to write it and see what it looks like.
I do have another plan for it, to put it in the body of another novel I was writing at the time called The Good Book.
The Good Book was written after a difficult time for me physically and mentally, and was ultimately using writing as therapy in 2004. On taking a temp job at the Royal and Sun Alliance in April of that year, I would idle my time writing poetry on the work computer and printing it off. A colleague lent me Manic Street Preachers’ Generation Terrorists and The Holy Bible on cassette, which after work I used to stick my earphones in and listen to on my journeys back home. Most times I would head to pub, either the Trocadero on Temple Street or the Queen Victoria (now the Jekyll and Hyde) on Steelhouse Lane where I would set up shop and furiously scribble, smoking (as you could still smoke in pubs back then – quick one skins out the back of course) turned on to Richey and Nicky’s righteous lyrics.
The writing had an interlinking theme, narratives that frightened and intrigued me at the time, one of which would turn into Pork Pie, the rest would be given over to The Good Book.
I took the work home and wrote extensively on Sundays and when I lost my job at the Royal and Sun Alliance, freely went to the Custard Factory and did a lot of the ending apocalypse section in one of the cafes – now the Mockingbird Theatre on loose sheets of paper in biro. Can’t remember if it was green biro or not.
The Good Book was overseen by an omniscient narrator who would oversee and comment on a cast of players. The action was a mixture of poetry, prose, distancing devices and numerical codes: some parts of the action was split up into sections denoted ‘screen prints’ (from three to twenty-one) and other parts, taking the reader on a journey through self-medicated states of mind and self-realisation (F1 to F10.)
The reincarnation of the main antagonist, the notorious 70s occultist John Dron, is bought back to life by bored newspaper journalists, opening up his trials again in search of a good story. This opens up a portal to an alternative reality, here called the Alternative Reality 333. The Alternative Reality brings to life all the thoughts of the publics’ superego, where nothing is taboo, and all base urges are satisfied and carried out.
Another character, Gordon Grey, is the everyman, the dictionary definition of the ‘loner’. He is seen to suffer with complete self hatred and disgust, and refuses to break out of his personal hell, named here as the ‘rite’ (another ongoing theme in the book).
Also featured is King Nearly, the God figure who oversees the Earth, and his chosen disciple, Breathterian, who lives in the Clent Hills (or Malvern Hills) wears a fig leaf and lives off fresh air and the dew on the grass. It is their duty to restore order to the city affected by the opening of the destructive Alternative Reality.
Now, this is where I have the problem. Breathterian does feature in Pork Pie, as a former member of one of the terrorist organisations who performs the resistance to the totalitarian state. Resurrecting this book in 2016, I would take another step back, and write the book in a more self-reflective style, using the old writing as a comment of my state of mind at the time. Of course, there would be some parts of the narrative where you wouldn’t know exactly who is narrating the action, the narrator with the God-Complex or me sitting in the Library of Birmingham or in Stirchley/Selly Oak.
And that is where the crux of Pork Pie and The Good Book’s narration comes from. Who do you believe? A lot of the dissatisfaction expressed in these books came from a questioning of the way in which the main news outlets deliver their news – in particular the reporting of the Milly Dowler murder case in 2001 and the investigations into the Soham murders in 2004. Whilst I appreciate the publics right to know, I found the reporting of both cases to be unnecessarily gratuitous and sensational. The Bad Atmosphere that the opening of the Alternate Reality 333 brings with it pretty much describes my feelings on reading the reportage back in 2001.
The Milly Dowler case was bought to light again with the News international phone hacking scandal around ten years later. The vicious circle revolved again. This was also the case with Operation Yewtree and the Jimmy Savile revelations. Both of these cases carry with them outlandish conspiracy theories, that they are merely smokescreens for a much darker underbelly. Is it possible to know the truth, or are we the public destined to suffer eternal nervous breakdowns and anxiety attacks in this world? Or is it that reality, as an esteemed old mate of mine once prophetically said to me, all just a load of fucking bollocks?
Combining Pork Pie and The Good Book would enable me to refer to my own history, recount and important time for me as a writer and continue the autobiographical creative non-fiction that my writing is taking. As it is at the moment, the idea is to have Pork Pie with the larger narrative of The Good Book, as I can reflect on my state of mind when writing it, and also allude to the social history that came after it. First of all, get The Wind finished obviously. But I just wanted you all to know that there’s this to follow. And, there is even more up here that is battering down the cerebral cortex vortex (?) to get out.