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 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

Addled & Raddled

“I have decided to be a freak like the people I read
about in the music papers during the day and listen to in the
evening and watch at night on TV when no one is around.
No longer do I want to be another brick in the wall. I want
to be on the road, taking drugs and drinking gallon after
gallon of strong hooch: some kind of drug-taking, drink-swilling, long-haired musician or maybe writer or something – a fiend, still undefined and embryonic, but definitely out there in front of me as a goal.” – Death and the Dead (2017)

GLYN F RIDGLEY @ bookstores & Amazon

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Autumn of My Soul

Yea, ‘tis the Autumn of My Soul
The Time before of feeling awld
When misty sunsets, they do set
Before thine eyes a settlin’ wet

Skies unfold to me the waiting dawn
A sunset new, makes for forlorn
Shews of views that mine will ne’er behold
That auld Time again

The grain is set
Among the swallows heading to West
They do foresee
Another Time

Aside from Thee
When the East, thou do behest

‘To the West’ by Z.R. Grates (1820)

Books by Glyn F Ridgley available @ bookstores worldwide and online

yes tor

P is for Perdition

Humanity is lost. The planet is being destroyed, and with no place left to go there is no way out.
P greenMy new work P, which I am currently aiming to place with a publisher in order that it may reach a wider audience, is essentially a re-telling of the Fall.
The original inhabitants of Eden at least had somewhere to go following their expulsion, since there remained unforgiving fields to be tilled.
For us, nowhere is untouched.
Soon, light will not be emerging from the darkness, but rather the other way round.
Future legends will be told of the Earth’s destruction in bygone times – except these stories will not be told by our children.
Unless maybe the new Adam and Eve have something to say about it…

Novels by Glyn F Ridgley are available at bookstores worldwide and online

Goats Head Group

The Rolling Stones topping the UK charts this week with their Goats Head Soup album kind of makes a mockery of the last forty-seven years, to me.mini

I can recall when the album first came out. The single Angie really irritated me, especially as it was performed on Top of the Pops with a simpering Mick Jagger sat on a stool and the rest of the band looking all drugged-out standing behind him.

That album irked me, and I can tell you why.

For a start, I was fourteen and I did not like the band because they seemed too flash and glam, like Sweet and T Rex; I had been into ska and reggae with regard the pop scene, and as a result of listening to my sister’s records was graduating from the Moody Blues and King Crimson to Deep Purple and prog. Serious stuff, not campy miming on television. A couple of boys at the youth club used to march up and down the church hall strutting their stuff with stars and glitter attached to their faces when Brown Sugar was played. They looked ridiculous. On my portable cassette player the only recorded tape I had was Genesis’ Foxtrot and Black Sabbath’s first, which were played over and over.

I remember going round to my new friend’s house and seeing the original Goats Head Soup album cover featuring Mick Jagger’s enshrouded face stood by the hi-fi in the corner of the living room. I was fourteen and going to a school which I was by then learning to despise. The two went together, somehow. The Rolling Stones album in the awful living room, and my education. Yuk!

The house was situated within the Park Estate – which I’ve written about often enough in my fiction – and was emblematic of all the horrible changes taking place around me. Not only was I attending a creepy school which required I travel from my village first by bus for four miles into town (after standing in the winter rain and morning dark) and then a half-hour trek up a long, long hill, but my beloved woods were being torn down all around me and being replaced by estates of human hutches and hovels, purpose built for the London slum-dwellers taking up jobs in the factories in our nearby town on the M40. The owner of the Rolling Stones record standing beside the stereo was typical of the low/middle management types who had moved into the village with their youngish families and now could afford to buy all the tat that came their way: cameras, stereos, TVs, three-piece suites, cars. Yep, dad was a hepcat, all right, also with a penchant for John Lennon’s Mind Games (which I similarly loathed at the time, and for the same reasons), while the mother was a dragon and the eldest sister a wonderful example of how beautiful teenage minds are driven crazy by all the unassimilated bad faith operating around them. A new shopping strip called the Parade had been built to help the newcomers spend their earnings. I can see it now, all grey concrete squares. At one end was the chippy (where they watered down the vinegar, for sure), then came some indeterminate businesses like insurance sales and shoe shops, until you reached Bunces, the newsagent’s (where my days began at six a.m. without fail after I cycled down the hill to collect my papers and placed them in a big canvas shoulder bag – and whose proprietor’s fourteen year-old daughter became my girlfriend for a time: again, see my fiction) and then In Time, where they sold all sorts of stuff for the interior decoration of the new houses: clocks, lamps, vases, framed pictures and so forth; the concrete boxes stretching along until an extended section morphed into a supermarket whose name currently eludes me.

So how does the successful re-release of a so-so rock album make a mockery of almost five decades out of six spent on earth, kind of?

It’s because of the same theme touched upon in the last blogpost, of how so much seems to be happening all the time and still nothing changes: still the same old Tories in charge, mugging the British public, still the same old tat for sale, still the same old wars, still the same old internal and external enemies, still the same old establishment, still the same old – background music?

Books by GLYN F RIDGLEY @ Amazon and bookstores worldwide