No Prize Surprise

A saccharine edge and mock-profundity are the shared traits of the books short-listed for the 2021 Booker Prize for literature. I have to admit, I like novels with a hard edge and either no profundity or having it buried deep down inside at its heart, accessible only to the reader who can bring it up to the surface using their own insight and intuition, not have it floating on the froth of foam-flecked sentences. Ever since Kelman upset the judges with HOW LATE IT WAS, HOW LATE, the listed books seem to have become soppier and soppier. Back then, of course, publishing houses would take on an author whose work they personally thought deserved to be made available to a wide-reading public. Over the years, a few large publishers have incorporated them into gigantic structures which rely on agents to vet the work before it even lands on the publisher’s desk. Hence the near uniformity of tenor and tone in the works of literature on display in the chain bookstores, which have also gobbled up the independents. Variety and originality have all but disappeared, with the choices only apparent and not real – a veritable literary Overton window, in fact. The publishing conglomerates have a money-making formula and stick to it. When I started out there seemed every chance that my work would be taken up and successfully published; with each setback that scenario became increasingly unlikely, so that today the possibility of this ever happening has reached nearly zero. That said, I started out with the intention of publishing ten novels – interrelated along the lines of Balzac’s ‘Human Comedy’ – and that intention has become a reality. A few years ago, buoyed by earlier success with a novel supported by the editorial team at The Big Issue South-West/Cymru, I collected together my extant manuscripts, packaged them, and published them under my own Valley Independent Publishing moniker (Glyn means ‘valley’ in Welsh, in case you didn’t know). That meant my eight novels of the time were available around the world. That figure has now reached the promised ten. Sales are negligible up till now but at least the work is out there. Right at this moment, the eleventh is with an agent, and – eternally optimistic – you never know what might happen. Could be the Booker Prize will be presented with a hard-edged uplift, an opportunity for the judges to be indulged in a genuine literary squabble.

All my books are available from bookstores and Amazon, use the Look Inside feature to get an idea of their contents, and if you should be tempted to give one a try, a review would be much appreciated – it could even kick-start my career. Many thanks. Please share this post if you think you know someone who might be interested.

Glyn Ridgley

The Lynchers

My daughter is waiting for me at her rented room in our friends’ house, as much as she ever awaits anyone. Taking after her mum, she is the most beautiful person in the whole wide world, with burnished gold-bronze hair, a lioness’s body, angel eyes – an Egyptian sphinx, in fact.

I walk down the road in the summer sunshine, under the plane trees growing up through the tarmac pavement, past rose bushes, stop at the main road opposite the fish-and-chip shop, cross when the lights change and walk past the carpark, which is late Sunday afternoon empty. There are a few people smoking outside the pub where Coldplay used to have a pint (Chris Martin used to live in the house) and I reflect how glad I was to give up smoking when our daughter was a small girl, all those years ago.

   Up the road I go.

   Yet, I’m not fully-satisfied.

   Not content at all, really.

   There’s a compartment of my life that ain’t right.

   When I am with my wife or my daughter I am one-hundred per cent perfectly okay, but away from them I am like a spaceship being tossed around by a sea of asteroids. A character from an old 60s Pink Floyd song.

   I am lost in space.

   Scared and alone.

   Fellow human-beings are an alien species.

   They go about their tasks of…what? Foraging…

   Of killing or being killed. Slowly or immediately.

   Of consuming or consumer-offering.

   Of barreness, of passing the time idly.

   They watch sport, they do sport, they go to the shops, they own a shop…

   They hear, they speak, they look, they parade…

   They are noble, they are ignoble.

   They are an unfamiliar species who go about their tasks but I don’t understand why.

   They are off the radar…my radar…which is…?

   What is this organic being which carries around my mind?

   It ain’t me; it ain’t somebody else, but it ain’t me.

   Other human beings wander around in a kind of daze and I fail to get it.

   They work, they eat, they…

   Sleep is the one thing we share together, yet is the time when we are always apart. I sleep with my wife, my daughter has slept in my arms, as I have in my parents’ – and I have looked over them in their slumbers, too.

   My work-mates, I have never seen them sleep. Maybe they don’t. My old friends, I’d watch them sleep sometimes, too (since we shared so much time together; mostly they watched me sleep dead-drunk or out-of-it on some combination of drugs or other; and even today it is chemicals that most settle me when I am deranged from not being with other family members, protecting me from the aliens and their ever-wakefulness, their continual chatter and nonsense, their gibberishness and constant motion).

   I’d been reading about Buddhism in the west earlier in the day and been sickeningly reminded by the way supposedly enlightened members of the human race had tricked and cajoled other human beings into believing all sorts of bullshit and allowed themselves to be partners in a wholly corrosive mindset that had nothing to do with mystical enlightenment at all. How do people become such mugs? Why do they take off their clothes and have sex with drunken strangers who are apparently more spiritually enlightened than they and who are indeed their ‘teachers’? Wow! How sick or stupid is that?

   In a blog-post I’d learned about witches and Nazis and Islamists who one way or another had either been victims of lynch-mobs or done and encouraged the lynching themselves.

   And here I realise that this is my personal dread of others – that they, too, will fall into the trap of ideological or ignorant belief, and they too will be at the mercy of a lynch-mob, on one side or the other.

   I, too, have been demonised for a lack of belief.

   For a lack of belief in the educational system; a lack of belief in my betters: school teachers, parents, politicians; a lack of belief in my bosses and co-workers; a lack of belief in the UK and the World; a lack of belief in you, too, probably (if we have ever met) for your lack of belief in me.

   So, yes. The shops. Shoppers. People in supermarkets barging you aside in order to fill their trolleys – yes, they scare me: they are the next lynch-mob.

   The Sun and The Star and The Sport on dashboards behind windscreens in vans and cars: they are the next lynch-mob, too.

   As Dostoevsky wrote of in Besy (Demons, or The Devils or The Possessed or whatever it is being presently called.)

   And those who walk cagily to the newsagents for their Daily Mail or Sunday Sun or what have you: they are the next lynchers, also.

   Readers of the Guardian, the Independent, the Times – at best they will stand back and watch, at worst, they are actively a part of the lynching, too.

   This is what I fear in 2020s UK.

   The public reaction to COVID has only confirmed such concerns.

Novels by Glyn F Ridgley available worldwide from bookstores and Amazon

A Few Moments of Pleasure in a World of Despair

Khkh
Tssh
Khrkhr
Kh
Gurgurgurgurgurgurgurgurgurgurguuur
Shshshsh
Zrzrzrzrzrzr
Tk
Glugglugglug
Ah!
Yes, sir! Yes, sir, I can boogie.
Bacca-
Chacha
Fwwoop
Chachachachachachachachacha
Click!
Zurzurzurzurzurzurwur
Dur dur dur
Glugglugglug
Keep on believing
Keep on believing
Zhzhzhzhzhz
Chachachachachachachacha
Frwrwrwfrw
Keep on believing
Keep on believing
Glugglugglug
Ah!
Keep on believing

(from DOSTOEVSKY’S PLACE, Valley Independent Press, 2017)

If you can describe what is happening in this onomatopoeic minute story taken from my book, I’ll send a free copy for the first correct answer. Just use the Comment box at the top of the page.

GLYN F RIDGLEY novels available from bookstores and Amazon worldwide

My Dog

As soon as Anne phoned me to say an abandoned dog was hanging around our neighbour’s gate and I ought to call by and see him, I knew that dog was destined to be ours. Having popped into town to run a few errands, I drove up to the house and saw the dog hanging around their front gate. You have to realise, we live up in the hills and mountains of central Portugal, so when I say neighbour I mean people living anywhere within the radius of a few miles. Another neighbour was also there, and he lives about a further mile out. As a matter of fact, we can see the house where the dog was found from our own place, above the trees in the valley that separates us.

He was a fine-looking beast, maybe not a pedigree, but obviously from the Estrela breed judging by his lupine body-shape and oversize paws. They breed them on the mountain of that name in the much colder north of the country to look after their herds. Even I knew that, although I am no expert on dogs at all.

The really funny thing was, I had dreamed that dog – had actually seen him in a dream some undetermined time ago. Immediately, I recognised the black face with the yellow-gold eyes peering out at me.

Both neighbours already had dogs of their own, so I took it upon myself to take him in until such time as a longer-term solution might be found. Ideally, the owner would be traced and the dog returned. With some difficulty, the three of us managed to lift the nervously reluctant animal into the back of the car, and with a bag of dog food, a food bowl, and lead supplied by our neighbour, I drove him across the bridge over the river on the valley road and back to our place, where Anne was unsurprised at our arrival.

Neither Anne nor I had kept a dog before so any caring for the animal was going to be done on an instinctual basis. The first thing was to lay a blanket in a corner on the veranda where he could feel safe and keep warm. Then I sat with him for hours into the night to calm him down. When he had settled and I had set up a pallet to prevent him going down the stairway into the garden, I closed the sliding glass doors and left him to sleep all alone.

Next morning, he was on the lead and we headed out through the big metal gates to the lane outside our house. At the top of the slope one hundred yards away he squatted and did his poops, as I uttered a silent and relieved hurray: the dog was toilet trained. Everyone thought he was pretty much still a puppy so nothing of a behavioral nature could be taken for granted. We walked on, as he sniffed busily at the edges of the dirt-track road, and I enjoyed the still cool mountain air. Surrounded by thick forest littered with logging trails, I quickly factored in that here was a good place to be a dog.

(To be continued…)

Books by Glyn F Ridgley

Two texts

Two written texts, separated by 700 years and two continents: On the Sacraments by Ambrose of Milan reveals the mystery school tradition of early Christianity, while the Songs of Milarepa disclose the dhamma of Tibetan Buddhism, as passed on to him by his guru. Both represent the manner in which secret wisdom is passed on from one generation to another. Teachings such as these show that mysticism reveals the true nature of the world in which we live, whereas it is sometimes claimed that mysticism involves a retreat from the realities of human existence.

In ‘Rosicrucian’, modern-day Christianity – as practised in a 1960s British village – is revealed for the sham that its original form has become, just as in ‘Key of Love’ one of the characters (originally from ‘Question’) is compared to the Tibetan monk Milarepa, as both emerge from murderous backgrounds to find esoteric wisdom and battle the dark forces of the political world.

Let’s hope the Light shines more brightly in 2021 than ever before.

Books by Glyn F Ridgley @ Amazon and bookstores worldwide

Bucosmism lives!

The rains have come in the mountains. The grey clouds have rolled in. After weeks of early winter warmth and blue skies the inevitable has happened. Mist and sunshine vying through the low-lying valleys gave way to moisture-laden air and dowdy fog. Twenty-plus temperatures less than halved in the space of a few hours. Such is mountain weather near the sea coast.

We just made it down to Fernando’s in time for bacalhau and ice-cream before the sleet hit. Right now, the wood-burner is doing its job and the dead cold weather is halted at the window sill. Warmth continues its reign.

During the good spell the last window-frame was fitted within the wooden structure and the angled struts placed upon the strong frame of the pergola. There is no way these wood structures can be compromised.

Ironically, down the road, the concrete-framed structure surmounted by poor wood and local terracotta tiles gave way and collapsed, its untreated timber frames eaten away by termites.

The calçada laid on the western-side of the property has formed a Fibonacci rectangle pine coneawaiting in-fill with citrus fruit trees and grasses to conform by the golden mean that highlights entirely the new-found principle of a bucosmic design, both in thought and exteriority.

Ah, so much for trying to take advantage of the new place where we live.

Glyn F Ridgley books available at bookstores and Amazon

A Labourer’s Blog

This should probably be called ‘A Labourer’s Blog’ considering that the writer hasn’t endured such an onslaught of physical duress since working in the sawmill at Glennister’s furniture factory back in his hometown many years ago, after his school impolitely asked him to leave.

The employment at the furniture factory involved clambering over huge felled trees and wrapping chains around them so they could be lifted into place on a crane and made into planks on a giant circular saw.

At least there I had the compensation of sheltering in the boiler-room and drinking hot tea during breaks.

Actually, I was following a family tradition since my great-grandfather worked as a sawyer in the beech woods around south Buckinghamshire in the 1800s. He was a top-dog, which is to say he sawed from the top of the sawpit and so avoided the sawdust falling down all over him.

The sawpits he dug and used are still visible up in the woods around Piggot’s Hill, at the end of the Hughenden valley, where the Ridgley family reunion takes place every year in the property once belonging to Eric Gill – the famous British artist commissioned by the BBC to create the Prospero and Ariel sculpture for their London headquarters in 1933 – who maintained an artists’ colony there from 1928 onwards.

gill christ

A few years ago my father and I were taking a walk through the surrounding fields up from the Harrow pub overlooking Bryant’s Bottom when a big white van roared through an opening and pulled up menacingly before us. Some guy got out and asked what we were doing there, saying that his employer’s residence on the hill opposite had been spied out and robbed by “gypsies” recently.

This was just utterly typical of the area where I had once lived so joyously. Some parvenu twat had bought a place for x-million pounds on a hillside where you couldn’t even plant a garden and had turned into a paranoid freak thinking that an old man and his son who actually belonged to the area were out there planning to rob him.

All this kind of shit is part and parcel of why I have left the now horrible land known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in order to set up some kind of bucosmic existence in a different country.

Even here there is similar aggro (to be told later).

But for now, hard labour is the order of the day.

And, by the way, Glennister’s folded back in the 1990s, a symptomatic outcome of the monetarist policies which led to the outsourcing of labour to foreign countries for the sake of greater profit. So much for the UK. Now a Morrison’s supermarket stands in its place.

As a matter of fact, there is no more furniture industry in my hometown. The whole story is contained in a ten-part fictional series available by clicking below.

Books available by Glyn F Ridgley at bookstores and Amazon

Beginning a New Life

I am 61. But feel 16. I am learning a new language. The world is in a total mess. I am in trouble with the law. I am head-over-heels in love with the woman in my life. Sometimes I have so much energy inside me it feels like it will burst my body. However right now I am taking advantage of the rain to IMG-20190307-WA0001lay in bed and recover from the muscular strain of lugging huge timber beams and shifting barrow-loads of soil. I am reading the auto-biography of Don Felder. We are slowly shifting to a bucosmic existence. I have unearthed The Secret of the Universe (see my books) and am about to uncover The Secret of Life (which may or may not be inserted within the pages of my next book). That leaves one more part of the mystic triangle to be put into place before my final transition. I am at the beginning of a new life, just as confused and wowed as any 16 year-old. My new novel P will appear at some point in the near future.

Books by Glyn F Ridgley are available at bookstores and online as hardcopy or Kindle versions worldwide

Bucosmism

Bucosmism n. the state of living a rural existence in relation to a recognition of dependence upon the universe.
Bucolic : relating to the countryside
Cosmic : belonging or relating to the universe
Bucosmic adj. (see above)
Bucosmist n. a person who believes in bucosmism

For example, this morning it was possible to collect sweet chestnuts fallen from the trees down the lane, before walking out the village and along a track running through the forest as far as the shrine dedicated to St James (we’re on the Camino) and back, a walk of some twenty minutes. On returning, I carried out a Rosicrucian meditation intended to spread some love and peace in the world. Later, I shall sand the pine timbers delivered rough-hewn from the local yard in preparation for building an open shelter roofed with reclaimed terracotta tiles.

After recovering from illness and busting a gut in publishing my tenth novel earlier this year, I actually feel able to settle into some kind of near-effortless existence.

At the risk of sounding smug, up here in the mountains amongst the pine trees and eucalyptus forests, we’re transforming a two-hundred year old stone ruin into a wonderful living space using local timber. The stone around here is quartz-based schist and has a terrific multi-colouration and glint. Our actual house is also formed around an old ruin, with the old stone foundations visible in the adega space beneath the current structure. The heating-system will be based on a bio-mass pellet-burner, with a wood-burner already inside the house and south-facing solar panels up on the roof.

The garden is to be accessed by way of inter-laced calçada paving, laid by a local craftsman. We have just identified the grape variety to be grown on vines delineating one side, which ought to provide enough wine to meet our needs. The sub-soil is depleted at present so a whole load of manure is going to be added over the next few months. Then we can think about sowing those sun-loving vegetables that couldn’t be grown in our last place, stuff like aubergines and peppers. The exotic fruit trees are already in, from kumquat to pomegranate.

So there you have it, a bucosmic existence.

pine cone

I am not enclosing pictures of the actual construction since my intention is to write it all up later in book-form – hopefully from the balcony which overlooks the valley and countryside all the way to the Atlantic Ocean!

Novels