This week’s B-Side is one that I wouldn’t have had the idea for outside of the current situation. We’re all used to online meetings and Zoom and such like now… So here’s a little story about an online meeting. (Cackles evilly into the night)
After a long break, the Bedtime B-sides are back!!! I’m also working on a new audio-story podcast, of which this new series will be a part. We open with a story about how romance is dead.
It’s been a long time since I had a proper adventure… And in that time the world has changed dramatically. Where are we now? What is the world we find ourselves in? With trains and buses and public transport only marginally safe, I decided to get back into the swing of things with a walk. I decided to follow the road to Nanhysglain, the place where, after two hundred years, the English conquered Wales… Continue reading “The Road To Nanhysglain”
August, all in all, was a bit of a quiet month on the releases front, especially compared to July. Half the stuff I intended to get out I never did, but I’ve still managed to get some pretty good stuff out there this month.
There’s been two stories this month. Choose Your Own Legend Episode 5 continued the voyage down this bizarre rabbit hole with a piece that was more introspective than usual for this series. As of writing this, the poll for the next episode is still open and could use some love.
The other story was an audio story, How To Avoid Any Situation, and this is very much a work in progress project. It’s about Marco attempting to base jump his way out of his troubles. I want to try and work around some of the ideas I developed in this and try to expand them into a proper book, a real character driven literary piece. It’s already put one idea in my here, that Marco has some kind of learning difficulty, or ADHD perhaps, and I want to try and explore that. A second part, revealing what the problem is, will be coming this next month. If there’s demand, I’ll release a prose version up as well.
Again, only two. The first is a recipe- Meatballs! Calling them James’ Big Beefy Balls was too hilarious to resist.
The other is the long awaited ninth instalment of my History of the Nineties (A New Dawn Has Broken) ‘The Slime And The Scandal.’ It covers stuff like the release of Titanic and Clinton’s proclivities with Monika Lewinsky, examining the wider ramifications of that. 98 was a bigger year than I expected, and there was a lot of shit going down, so the next instalment will be part two of this year, which will cover the Good Friday Agreement and Desert Fox. I’m planning to call it “War And Peace, But Mostly War.”
(All videos can be found on the playlist link below)
Celluloid’s story arc took centre stage as Will went on the run from the BPS. This was a found footage thing, and I’m still working on the behind the scenes travel piece. It works really well, I feel. I swear there are points in there where your brain is actually tricked into thinking there are actually two people when in fact (behind the scenes secret) it was all just me and me alone.
The next Celluloid (The Welsh Connection) which premiers on the 2nd of September, continues the story arc whilst getting back to the usual sort of style.
I’ve released three past force videos this month. One was about Late Victorian PM Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Roseberry and his highly suspect activities and another was a follow up to a family history video I did about the Manx prison system. The story was so ludicrous I couldn’t help but be flippant, though that’s what history is. Sometimes a story from the past is deadly serious and needs to be taken as such. Other times you find yourself thinking “what the fuck is going on?” The third Past Force was a response to some recent debate about the lyrics to Land Of Hope And Glory.
The cream of this month’s crop is ‘Stand Up For Bastards,’ a short film taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear. I’m immensely proud of this one, so much so that I want to do more. Suggestions are welcome. Alongside this we have ‘Speak,’ which is a fifty second, introspective sort of video. The opening to Les Manxerables (the family history video) is brilliant and I’m still not sure how I came up with it, but expect the continuation of that story in the next month or so. The last video, the Selfish Brit, was something I needed to get off my chest.
There’s not been a lot round here to take Instagram photos of lately, but this month I’ve managed a few good ones. Like this one of a “giant” stone woman in the Dwyryd estuary. Check out my Instagram page for more.
Still no news on the show front, but this month the weekly playlists have included a glorious mix of the cool, the classic and Arnold Schwarzenegger giving workout instructions over the top of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing????
Playlists are released every Thursday.
September is all up in the air at the minute. I have one story done, with the second Marco story needing to be recorded. How the long the two video a week thingy will last is unknown. It depends on if I can get back into my office or not, as when that happens I’ll be spending most of my days in there working on this thing they call a PhD. Less distractions than my flat, you see.
VIDEOS & FILMS
Celluloid V2: Paranoid Activity
The footage of a large ocean liner, claimed to be unsinkable, colliding with an iceberg, could have been a parable for society. The decade had opened with a wave of optimism, a bold new future and a brave new world. The Berlin Wall had fallen. The Soviet Union had collapsed, the west was ‘victory’. and in nineteen ninety two American political scientist Francis Fukuyama claimed that history was over, the end of the cold war marked the endpoint of human progress and evolution.
Just six years later it was apparent that, as with claims that the Titanic was unsinkable, Fukuyama could not have been more wrong. History, as it tends to do, kept going. There were icebergs in the water. Continue reading ““The Slime And The Scandal” | A New Dawn Has Broken?”
(Recipe makes around 6 balls)
It’s the little things you miss when they get taken away from you. Shops? Coffee Bars? I could cope without them. What I really missed was James’ moussaka. Not James… Just his moussaka. I missed those nights when it was the two of us, trawling through the guff from my family archive, making plans about what to publish next, and two bowls of that creamy Greek goodness.
So, when the lockdown was lifted and I’d sorted what needed to be sorted, I texted James and said I wanted his moussaka. The reply was quick.
—“Is that a euphemism?” He knew what I meant, so I texted back saying I was coming round and I expected a bowl of moussaka when I got there.
What I got… Were meatballs and chips.
—“What is this?” I spluttered.
—“Yeah… The supermarket didn’t have any cream. So I made this up instead.” Judging by the simplicity of the recipe, he didn’t try all that hard and just threw something together from what he had in the fridge.
Admittedly though, it was a mighty fine meal… but James, you still owe me that moussaka!
175g Minced/Ground beef
1 egg, beaten
2-3 tsp of plain flour
1 clove of garlic, crushed
A squirt of tomato puree
A handful of basil
1 tsp smoked paprika
– Place the mince in a bowl and combine with the rest of the ingredients, excluding the flour and the egg.
– Add the flour and mix together with the rest of the mince mixture, followed lastly by the egg.
– Mix well, until you have a decent, sticky mixture and all the egg has been absorbed.
– With a spoon, form the mixture into moderately sized balls and evenly place into a baking dish.
– Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C/ 400F/ Gas Mark 6 for around twenty five minutes.
-To finish, you may serve with a tomato ragu and spaghetti/ another pasta, or you can just have them with chips and a bit of bread- Honestly, they taste good on their own without sauce.
“Have you tried James’ big beefy balls yet m’dear?”
Image from gentlemansgazette.com
He sits and watches the birds? Well… Alright… Poll for this one at the bottom.
Perhaps, I thought, there was an answer in the hut. I thought about going towards it but my legs took against the idea. I stood there for a while, staring towards the hut, before one of the birds caught my eye. He was sat on a branch to my left, watching me. He was a small thing, one of those crossbred Robin-hawk things.
—He chirped something and cocked is head to one side, and I nodded.
“Sounds about right,” I found myself saying, before sitting down on the ground, and watching him some more.
—After a moment another bird came and sat next to him and they started putting on a concert together. I didn’t know the song, any of the songs, but some of the best concerts are the ones you go to just for something to do, not knowing any of the music.
—I remembered a concert years ago that Charlotte had decided we should go to, just based on seeing it on messenger, when messenger was still a thing. It was somewhere deep in the Mender forest, like one of those secret rave things only this wasn’t rave music. It was ‘surprise music.’ The surprise music turned out to be a real mixed bag, no live instruments except an acoustic guitar and a battery operated CD player and a few guys stood on a log. They sung whatever they wanted and it was great, even though I didn’t know any of the songs. A part of that greatness was just sat on the muddy ground, the wind coming through the leaves, no sounds of civilisation except for the music. There was something primal and mentally calming about it.
—There was something calming and lovely about this too. Just being sat on the ground, in the forest, for a few minutes, was enough to wash away those worries and fears and doubts that seem to inhabit my head these days. The worries about the collapse of humanity and the end of the world. I was free of them, I didn’t want to hide in bed and cry anymore. I think I might have even smiled, properly smiled, for the first time in a while.
—Could I just stay here, watching the birds singing? Sitting on the forest floor whilst they fluttered around me, all happy like?
—I noticed another bird, who stuck his head out of the undergrowth, then hopped fully into the clear. He started a search for grubs, picking up leaves and tossing them aside, frustrated with them, maybe, for not hiding his grubs. He scraped at the ground, clearing away a few stray twiglets. He gave me a quick, questioning look.
“Seen any bugs mate?”
“Nah, sorry,” I replied. The bird pouted and hopped off, moodily throwing another leaf aside before vanishing behind a weed.
—Charlotte used to say that when we talked to it, the world understood us. Plants, ground, the wind. Animals. They all understood and responded. Birds understood. It sounded weird, and I laughed at it, but now I sat and watched, now I talked to this bird, I got a weird feeling that it was true.
—Of course, if you try talking to a bear it will still chew your face off rather than start a conversation.
—I closed my eyes, and listened to the birdsong. I felt the wind in my hair and my beard, and I smiled again. I lost myself for a while in that void that exists somewhere between dreams and reality. I just let myself be, and it felt good.
—When I opened my eyes again I felt like I had just stepped from the snow covered wastes of the far north and into the warm light of a fire. Perhaps, I thought, I should do this kind of thing more often… Though a war against a parasitic mutation and their ill-educated supporters doesn’t exactly allow much time for that sort of thing. I could always try.
—I actually felt so good, for a change, that I started singing. I started singing some song that came from the back of my head, I think from that concert from years ago.
—I got to one particular line…
When I grow up… I will be brave enough to fight the creatures, that you have to fight beneath the bed to be a grown up…
—I stopped, a lump in throat. The scar down the left side of chest twitched. Was it bravery or was it just doing what I had to to survive? Because if I didn’t fight then I’d die… Where lies the line between bravery and doing what has to be done?
—“OY… WHAT THE HELL D’YA THINK YOU’RE DOING?”
 Charlotte was my first girlfriend… Due to getting my skull cracked in with a concrete block by the twat who killed her, I have no idea what her real name was.
 The scar from where I had been mauled to almost eighteen months ago.
JULY 2020: NEW RELEASES
Links to all the new releases can be found at the bottom of the page.
It’s been a bumper month for paperback releases. First up we have a story collection, TOSCANA, which is comprised of 19 stories and a small selection of poems. There’s new material in there, including the title story, and some previously released stories like Silent Star and Thorpe Of Prestatyn. The collection also includes some unfinished stories- A take on Robin Hood (entitled Prince John) my Welsh Les Miserables attempt, Prince Cymru, and all the surviving material from the original Liverinth.
Meanwhile, the second batch of THE ILLUSTRATED DARK LEGEND books have been released- Blood Of Princes, Whatever Happened To The Heroes and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. The last of these, shockingly, is my TWENTIETH book!!! I’m really proud of some of the pictures in these, especially the “magna” in the third one and the comic-book inspired one which makes up the cover of the second book. Fair to say, my drawings are really starting to get good.
As if that weren’t enough, the special Dark Legend illustrated volume, TALES OF WORTON is also out now. It begins with a new history of Worton and an old prophecy called ‘The Visions of Shallaby Hive,’ but otherwise it’s mostly a collection of disparate tales about Worton brought together from various places- Including, for the first time in paperback, Worton 95, complete with new images, and a second paperback release (after the limited edition two years ago) for Away With the Manger.
This month saw the release of two features from Morfas Films- Firstly, CELLULOID (a documentary style series) is at last back with “When We Lived In The Shadows.” It’s a bit more static than previous instalments, for obvious reasons, but I’ve tried to spice things up with a sort of three act structure. There was a bit of a problem with the first act losing sound, which is why that act is mostly music. The prologue, meanwhile, is one of my finest pieces of work, parodying a well known film with… You know what, you’ll have to look for yourself. The cliffhanger as well… OH MY GOD!!!!
Secondly comes a proper, actual short fiction film, PRISONERS OF OUR OWN DEVICE- It’s insane, makes little sense (what good short film does?) and the BBC called from the seventies and asked for their special effects back. I had far too much fun making this, although the end scene did result in my being approached by a police officer. It’s kind of obvious why. Please also be warned that there are copious amounts of ham in there, especially from number 88.
All of my stories this month have been CHOOSE YOUR OWN LEGEND, a project where I’m letting you lot dictate what happens next, by poll. So far we’ve reached Episode 4, and the story has started to involve a moose and a Swedish wildlife sanctuary somewhere close to the Scottish border.
This month has seen three audio stories released, all available through Youtube. Something new- RedBird, chapter 1. This will be released in its entirety, as audio, before becoming a book. It will be serialised on SideTracked, week by week, starting in October. This is just a test run.
I mention Shakespeare’s history plays far too often, mostly because they’re awesome when done right, and they formed the basis for the Marco story, THE DEATH OF KINGS, which now has an awesome audio version. It works really well in audio, actually.
I tried to do something different with THE REVELATION, which is a spoilery extract from Dark Legend. I tried using the pictures from the illustrated editions, but I’m not sure it worked. Still, the audio reading is top quality. You can really hear the pain in Will’s voice. It IS spoilery though, be warned.
After a couple of months away, and even longer without having a reliable space to film, I’m finally back on a regular schedule, twice weekly at the minute. As well as the above mentioned Celluloid and Prisoners, this month has seen three Past Force videos- One about Boris Johnson’s misuse of history, another about how history is an argument, and another about Dafydd ap Gruffydd that was more spontaneous (Sorry about the wind in that one btw.)
I’ve largely been trying to get back into the swing of things this month, but the highlights are my two ‘voices’ videos, one in which I demonstrate how to do different voices, and the other a more sketch based character showcase. The latter had me worried the neighbours might call the police, for reasons that should become obvious if you watch the video. It’s also my daftest video for a long while.
Whilst work on the upcoming radio series continues, SideTracked Weekly has been there every Thursday. Usually these are up for about four weeks, but I’ve preserved the first of this month’s as “SideTracked Swings.” This month’s weekly playlists have featured the likes of David Bowie, The Prodigy, Hozier, Twenty One Pilots and… Donald Duck???
This month I also released a new recipe from the Morfasson Family Cookbook- TWEEDLEDUMS, so named because these gorgeous little stuffed tomatoes resemble fat little tweedles. The stuff about the barge mentioned in the factoid bit at the beginning is actually true by the way. Lewis Carroll’s dad did convert a barge into a chapel and he did preach against the sins and crimes of my ancestors.
Early next month I’ll be releasing Choose Your Own Legend 5, I’m planning ten in all so this will take us halfway. I’ve also begun work on a few essay articles, though where and when they’ll be released is another question. At least one may end up going to the university journal- But there’s one on the Menai Straits, one on Blake’s 7 and the next of my New Dawn Has Broken? articles, on 1998- The year of mega-blockbuster Titanic and Bill Clinton desperately scrambling for a lifeboat in order to get away from a Monica Lewinsky shaped iceberg.
There’ll possibly be another Past Force video and the next Celluloid, a special entitled PARANOID ACTIVITY, in which the ongoing story arc takes a dramatic and dark twist. It’s pure story arc, so it’s more like a short film than a vlog. I’ll also be writing a linked travel piece for that one (because I did accidentally get paranoid whilst filming it).
CHOOSE YOUR OWN LEGEND
VIDEOS & FILMS
Prisoners Of Our Own Device | Celluloid V2: When We Lived In The Shadows | Past Force: Boris Johnson- A History Of Lies | Past Force: Arguing History | Past Force: The Last Prince | How To Do Voices | Character Showcase | I Never Want To See Another King Arthur Movie | Unedited Audio Recording Session | “Her Eyes Were Like Uranus” (Reading Auto Generated Fan-Fiction | Thoughts On Publishing- Q&A |
Old Albert, and Max as well, and pretty much most of my family come to think of it, had a large problem with Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, known to the world as Lewis Carroll.
—“There is something deeply unsettling and suspect about the man,” Albert would write in his diaries after meeting Carroll at Oxford, in 1864. “He looked at Thoroughgood’s boy as though he were about to pounce. Albert also records how, three days later, the nineteen year old Max threw a blancmange at Carroll from a third floor window, as he crossed the quadrangle of Christchurch. When Carroll died in 1898 Anna remarked: “the children of England can at last sleep safe in their beds.”
—There is a story about the so called evils of Lewis Carroll from most of my family and hangers on, you will find. My brother’s comment cannot be repeated here.
—Even James, our vainglorious archivist, has had his unfortunate run ins with the depraved Dodgson- An incriminating photograph exists, but I’ll say no more- Unless James wants to share it. And then there was THAT play from his undergraduate days, which we don’t talk about. Meanwhile, Carroll’s father, the Rev. Charles Dodgson converted a barge into a chapel and would float past James’s ancestral pub, preaching how they were all sinners and vagabonds. To be fair, they were running Lancashire’s equivalent of Jamaica Inn.
—This stuffed tomato recipe was brought into the family by my great grandfather’s first wife, Alice. She’s pretty much the only one who has nothing bad to say about Lewis Carroll. They’re called Tweedledums because they resemble little fat tweedles, and if you’re lucky their heads will fall off when they’re in the oven.
—I find adding a dollop of pesto to the top, once stuffed, is a great (but optional addition).
—I’m also thankful that the Tweedles predate Lewis Carroll by a good century.
 Henry Thoroughgood… A close friend of Albert.
 It is buried DEEP. You are unlikely to find it- James
2 Medium-large sized tomatoes
A handful of shredded lettuce leaves.
A fair amount of Basil (Dried is fine, but you do a need a lot)
A fair amount of grated Cheddar (or preferred cheese- Stilton or Roquefort work well)- About a ramekin full will do.
2 Spring Onions, chopped
2 Egg Yolks
2 Spoonfuls of Pesto (optional)
-In a bowl, mix the lettuce, basil, chopped spring onions and cheddar, combining well.
-Drop in the egg yolks- Place the whites to one side if you want to fry them up later/don’t want to waste them.
– Stir the mixture well, coating everything in yolk.
– Carefully slice the tops from the tomatoes and lay the heads to one side. Then, being careful not to damage the skin, disembowel the little bastards by scooping out their insides with a spoon. Yes… CUT THEIR HEARTS OUT WITH A SPOON!!!!!!
– Fill the tomatoes with the stuffing mixture, pressing in with your spoon and packing it in tight (being careful to not break the tomatoes) until the mixture is bursting from the top and you have a little mound.
-Add a spoonful of pesto to each tomato, if using)
-Replace the tomato heads on each top and roast in a pre-heated oven (200 C./400 F./ Gas Mark Six) for 10-15 mins.
These are great with the reserved egg whites, fried, and a burger (such as Oscar Wilde’s Filthy Burger)
Tweedledum & Tweedledee by John Teniel- Public Domain, courtesy of Wikimedia
Alright… You gave me a challenge. Had you voted for one of the other choices, I could have done a character study. But no. You had to insist on trying to send the moose to check out the wildlife sanctuary. So I had to find a way to resolve it. The next choice is below.
“I have a better idea,” I said. “Let us assume his Moosejesty here ran away from some fire or threat… If he did, he’d be reluctant to go home, right? If it’s safe he’ll just happily wander off down the road to the Missus.”
—“That’s if he even knows where he is!”
—“Shut up Doug.”
—“He’s a very clever moose,” Lydia cooed. “Aren’t you Moses?” I’d had enough of this idiocy. It was a moose.
—“Alright… I’ve had enough of this…”
—I grabbed the rope from her and removed it from the neck of the moose, slapping him on the rear.
—“Alright… Go on… Go off home… Mmmmoses. Go on… Hyaah!” Joe and Doug snickered at me, but the moose didn’t move. He just looked at me with extreme contempt.
—There was an awkward silence.
—“Well, according to your logic that means there’s something dangerous down there.”
—“Shut up Doug.”
—“So we’re taking him with us?”
—“Well we can’t leave him here.” I despaired. I really despaired. They’d become attached to a bloody moose for crying out loud. Lydia was showing more affection with it than she ever did with Joe. There was no dealing with them when they were like this. I’d have to do everything myself.
—“Alright… Fine. Stay here with the moose. Doug. Keep them safe. They’re being too goo-goo eyed over that thing to spot any danger. I’ll go on alone and see what’s up.”
—I started to walk off, checking my weapon before there could be any semblance of protest. If they had been decent soldiers, or even decent friends, they wouldn’t have let their commander go off alone. Lydia might normally have protested, but she was singing a love ballad with the moose. Joe was too cowardly, Joe was always too cowardly, and Doug was still thinking about it by the time I disappeared around the corner.
—I decided it was safer if I kept to the trees, and so stepped to the side of the trees, into the overgrowth. I’d seen more impenetrable forests, scarier forests, but something made me hesitate before going into this one. I thought about lying to the others, saying the place had been razed to the ground, but the dishonesty made me feel queasy.
—I went anyway, after a minute or so coming to a broken up fence. This had been torn up by machine of some sort, and recently. I set it aside to think about who might have done it later.
—A bird landed on a branch in front of me and looked me over, chirping. They didn’t bother to teach birds at my primary school. The only birds we ever saw were the seagulls and rock pigeons who frequented the hall roof, those which we’d throw stones at and which, in return, would dive bomb us. Some bright spark nicknamed them the Luftwaffe and it stuck. Then I got sent to the headmaster’s office for screaming “FUCK YOU, NAZI TWATS!!!!” at them.
—This bird was neither. It was brown and black, tiny really. Sort of like somebody had tried to crossbreed a robin with a hawk.
—It came and landed on my shoulder for a moment and then flew off. Another friendly, domesticated animal? I was interested now.
—Another bird flitted past me, and as I advanced through the trees there were more and more of them. It was like I had landed in the middle of an aviary, or become that old hag who sits outside the cathedral in Mary Poppins. I suddenly became the birdman. I was disturbed by this.
—To my left, at a gap in the trees, I caught sight of a ramshackle, woodsman’s hut, through another section of ripped up fence. Yet, in the direction I was head I could also see the touristy, entrance section of the Swedish wildlife sanctuary. It looked fine from here, but why had the fences been ripped up? I wanted to find out.
—Perhaps, I thought, there was an answer in the hut…