Wednesday, 23 October 2013

But Bloody France!

You can almost smell the steak and fries...

...and you can see that Clare, Deano, Sarah and Phil aren't having a great time in Normandy. So who can blame Clare for not regretting a night of passion with a hot-blooded male of the French variety?
"I’m not a slut!" Clare said loudly, as she walked along the beach, back towards the village. She had just spent one of the most enjoyable hours of her life, during which time she had experienced two orgasms, and had come to realise that Deano was a hopeless lover.
"He’ll have to go!" she cried out loud, laughing to herself when an old man walking his dog gave her a strange look.
"You’ll have to bloody go, Deano," she chuckled to herself, as she finally arrived in the village, and found herself at the bar where the previous evening she had dined on a terrible steak and soggy fries. Jerome had made love to her in a way which she thought wasn’t possible, and so she thought that from that moment on, she would never have sex ever again, so as not to ruin the memory. Deano was a bloody lousy lover – in and out before you could blink an eye, but Jerome…
"Hey! Baby, over here!" came the voice from the far table. She looked up and saw three familiar faces. It was Deano, Phil and Sarah, all stuffing their faces with croissants. Her heart dropped as far as it could go, without shattering into a thousand pieces. The great sex she had just had with Jerome now seemed like a very distant memory. Reluctantly, and after forcing a smile, she joined the others.
Extract taken from "But Bloody France!" A short story by Luke Ryman, out now on Kindle.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Have You Seen My Inflatable Wayne Rooney?

Roy Hodgson: He's done a great job, but at what price?

So now that England, after their hard-fought victory against Poland, have qualified for next year's world cup in Brazil, bosses of British supermarkets across our football-loving land will no doubt be rubbing their hands with glee. But what, you ask, has England's success got to do with your local Asda or Tesco supermarket?
Well, the answer is merchandising, and the opportunity, thanks to Roy Hodgson, to bombard a football-crazy public with anything from "I LOVE ENGLAND" mugs to cheap and tacky plastic flags to attach to the top of your battered Ford Sierra.
And don't forget the Decorate Your Bin stickers, which should be plastered liberally over your wheelie bin, and which have the added advantage of being weatherproof. Then there's the flag and horn, which comes free with a packet of razor blades, the "GET BEHIND ROY & THE BOYS" tube of toothpaste, plastic bunting to adorn your lounge with and the limited edition cans of lager.
The choice will be endless, and if husbands have always avoided the weekly trip to the supermarket , come next spring, when the merchandising hits the shelves, grown men throughout the land will eagerly be joining their partners on the Saturday outing to Asda, so that they can salivate over the England supporters' packs.
I must confess that limited edition lager is of interest to me, but the England World Cup patio set - comprising of a crap table, four crap chairs, plastic plates with beakers and a plastic ashtray, all bearing the England flag, and of course all made in China - will not be making an appearance in my garden. And as for the inflatable Wayne Rooney...
So don't forget to get your wheelie bin stickers, while stocks last, sit back in your "I LOVE ENGLAND" armchair, enjoy your can of limited edition lager and GET BEHIND ROY & THE BOYS!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Where Will It All End For Cooper & Joy?

Here is where it will end. But where is here?


Tony looked down at the bar when I mentioned the violent thugs we had known. He looked down and thought about Glen. Tony had worshipped Glen. He had idolised Glen. He had always said that Glen was the brother he had never had. But now Glen was gone. Dead. Cremated and scattered. Gone from our lives, because he had played with fire. Tony finished his second drink, and getting the attention of the barmaid, he ordered more drinks. He then said that we had to think about the future.

The future? If it was to be anything like our past, then I reckoned that we were doomed, because people like Tony and me are on a downward slope from the day we are born, until the day we die. And if there is the occasional day when the sun brightens our lives, and warms our tired faces, there are so many more when rainclouds hang over us, and the only sky we can see is dirty and grey. No, we have no future, and as the pretty barmaid with yellow teeth slammed down our glasses of whisky on the bar, I could see from the corner of my eye that Tony knew what I was thinking, and he knew that I was right.

Tony grunted. His glass was stained with lipstick. He had been served whisky in a dirty glass. I can’t say that I was surprised. The pub was dirty. The lads fooling around in the corner were dirty. Their language was dirty. The barmaid with the yellow teeth was dirty. I imagined that the toilets were dirty. The bar was dirty. The ashtrays were dirty. The street in which the pub was standing was dirty. The people who made their way to and from the shops were dirty. We had left southeast London – which is also dirty – to find ourselves in another part of the world which was just as dirty and depressing. If the future was here, and we had turned the page, I reckoned that we had made a false start.

Tony slammed his fist down on the bar. A few of the lads looked at us, and then the barmaid with yellow teeth made an appearance. We may have been down and out, but we were entitled to clean glasses. She flashed us a forced smile, and taking the glass in her small hand, she held it up. Tony sighed. In our favourite pub, in southeast London, we had never once been served a drink in a dirty glass. Never! Never! Never! And now, in Brighton, we were expected to drink from glasses stained with a slag’s lipstick.

Tony stood up and wanted to say something offensive. I knew what he was thinking. Our favourite pub in southeast London was no longer our favourite pub, because we had finished with London, and so we had finished with our favourite pub. Dirty glasses and dirty pubs were all we had to look forward to, as we drifted aimlessly through life, until we found another safe haven in which to rest our weary bodies, and reconstruct our lives.

There were too many lads in the corner giving us evil stares, and when one of them told Tony that he was a fucking cunt, we realised that perhaps it was time to move on. Of course, such insolence would never have been accepted back at home, because Tony commanded respect, and if there was a problem to be resolved, Glen could always be relied upon in Tony’s hour of need. But we were a long way from home, and Glen was gone. Tony just muttered an obscenity, and turning as fast as his overweight frame would allow, he walked out of the pub.
It's almost all over for Cooper & Joy. They've come to the end of the line. Penniless, homeless and not a friendly face on the horizon. But don't shed tears for these two bastards, for they deserve all that they are about to receive.
Extract taken from "The Londoners Trilogy - Four Years In London" Out now on kindle via Amazon.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Those Were(n't) The Days, My Friend...

What is better than a trip down Memory Lane, when one is overcome with misery or just feeling nostalgic? Well, you could get hammered on cheap lager and even cheaper vodka, but by flicking through your mind's bulging photo album, and by reaching back into the deepest corners of your memory, you can smile and laugh about how life was once, before you got older, and childhood finally abandoned you.

Growing up in Kent, in the seventies, life to me seemed just fine, and nothing, I imagined, could have been better. Of course, that was forty years ago, and thinking back to that period of my life, I can't help but chuckle when I recall how everything seemed so easy.

And so I've decided, in no particular order, to list a few things which epitomise the seventies for me.

So come on - all aboard, for a trip down Memory Lane...

This is as good as fast food got.

...when fast food was a trip to Wimpy in Dover High Street. Appetising it wasn't, nor colourful or exciting, but in a time when double cheeseburgers and bacon wraps were nowhere to be found, what else could one expect?

The BBC back then was churning out good programmes at a reasonable rate. Home-grown productions ruled the airwaves, and Strictly Come Dancing and other such dire examples of modern-day television programmes weren't to be found. Sadly, whilst fast food has improved in this country, the BBC has gone rapidly downhill.

And now I'm thinking about that wonderful institution - mocked by so many but secretly loved by so many more - and its warm and soggy sandwiches. Of course, I'm talking about British Rail and its buffet cars, where scalding tea could be bought and overpriced sandwiches could be ordered. How I loved walking to the back of the train, as we headed to London for our annual day-trip, to marvel at all of the goodies available in the buffet car. Now it's all waiter service and trains travelling too fast for one to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Before package holidays became affordable, school holidays would be spent visiting local towns, or in the garden - if the weather permitted. One trip which was a must was a train ride to Margate, to enjoy the sandy beach, stuff ice-cream down one's throat, eat chips out of a paper cone and take a ride on the rollercoaster in Dreamland - which was then one of the first amusement parks in Britain.

In the seventies, parks such as Dreamland held a special kind of magic for a young boy like me, but thinking about it now, this amusement park was about as amusing as a day-trip to Baghdad. The chips were great, the ice-cream was fantastic, but that f*cking rollercoaster...

But I didn't have to go to Margate to get my dose of the seaside, because in Deal - where I spent all of my childhood - there was a stony beach and a raging, cold sea within walking distance. Okay, I loved the train ride out of town, but in Deal there was everything one ever needed to spend a happy school holiday.
Walk to end of the pier and you could almost touch France. Sit back and watch the fishermen try their hardest to get a decent bite, as they poured tea from their flasks, and turned their backs to the severe, summer wind which seemed to permanently roll in from the Channel. Cross the road and get an ice-cream from the parlour (it's still there to this very day) and then take a trip down the High Street (which was much better then than it is today). Then there was the cricket match in the park and the rolling down the sides of the bunkers on the local golf course. Then there was a bike ride on a bicycle which had seen better days and a trip to the sweet shop, to buy Spangles and those flying saucer-shaped things which tasted of carton and were filled with sherbet.
My grand-parents lived in Norwich, and so every summer, for one week, a fun time was spent in their home, during which time my brother and me were treated to trips to the city (Norwich no longer has the allure which it once had) and the regular trips to Great Yarmouth. I was always excited about my trips to Margate and Broadstairs, but Great Yarmouth, with its long, sandy beach and its noisy amusement arcades was something else. Here, if you closed your eyes, and you had a really good imagination, you could have believed that you were in paradise on earth. Sadly, like so many seaside towns, Great Yarmouth has now become a dumping ground for refugees, and paradise on earth it certainly isn't.
Dad was never a heavy drinker, but a trip to our local pub was an occasional Sunday treat.
To get to the pub, a walk through the country lanes linking Deal and Sholden would have been necessary, and once at the pub, father would have taken his place inside, whilst my brother and me amused ourselves in the pub's delightful garden, with the rest of the abandoned children. If we wanted a drink, which was always the case, the landlady would serve us from a window which overlooked the garden, because back then - and it's a shame that the law has since changed -children weren't allowed in pubs. So after shouting out our order, a few minutes later we would be served, through the back window, with our bottles of Coke and packets of crisps.
Of course, life in the seventies seemed great because I was a small boy growing up in a world of trips to the seaside, bicycle rides and packets of crisps. Everything was seen with a child's mind, and so everything appeared to be less grim than what is actually was. After all, in England, the seventies was a period of strikes and disharmony, and a time of uncertainty.
But when you're not even ten, and a trip to Wimpy is on the cards, do you really care that the government is in the process of destroying the country? Not really, but as the next decade came into view, most people were hoping that a change was on the way.
Coming next: The Eighties.
Luke Ryman is an author of ebooks about all sorts of people doing all sorts of things - some good and some bad.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Picking Pockets

Look Out! Cooper & Joy Are About.

The train to Lewisham was free of tourists, but as the two middle-aged women talked amongst themselves, I had spotted a perfect opportunity.

Crashing down beside them, I engaged Tony in conversation, as he stood before me, preferring to stand, instead of dirtying his t-shirt on the seat's soiled upholstery. The conversation coming from the women was incredibly dull, and as one of them spoke about her son-in-law, the other woman gave the best advice she possibly could.

Opposite us was a black youth, who stared at the women, as he listened to the music filling his ears. The din of the music hissed above the noise of the train, and although Tony was annoyed by having listen to such a sound, he managed to refrain from telling the youth to turn the volume down.

At the next stop a few other passengers filled the carriage, and when the black youth saw a face that he recognised, he gestured for his friend to come and join him. A few moments later he was in deep conversation with a black girl. Tony glanced at the girl. I knew what he was thinking, but even if he had only hatred for the girl, I told myself that she was someone's daughter, and that being made of flesh and bones, she was just like the rest of us. I then chuckled and looked at Tony. For one moment I had shown no animosity towards a black person. Tony – if he could have read my mind – would have been horrified. Perhaps I was too weak to hate people.

At Lewisham station we stepped from the carriage and headed towards the exit. The women were still talking about marital problems and the previous night's television programmes. The more attractive of the two hadn't seen me take her handbag, as I had stood up to leave.

There wasn't much cash in the woman's purse – forty pounds – but Tony agreed that forty pounds is forty pounds, and to two poor men like us, forty pounds is enough to buy a few hours of pleasure in the pub. There was, however, a mobile telephone in the bag, which Tony reckoned, as he fingered it with his chubby fingers, would probably make twenty or thirty pounds.

I tossed the handbag into a bin, and laughing out loud, I told Tony that I was really beginning to enjoy myself.

On the train to Crayford we eyed our next targets with joy, for God had delivered to us a group of French students, who like the Canadians earlier in the day, were clearly lost, and in need of guidance. What's more, as Tony glared hard at the back of one of the group, I knew that stealing from the French was something which Tony took great pleasure from, because to him, the French are a very odious race.

I can speak a little French, and trying hard to listen to what the girl with the glasses was saying, above the noise of the rattling carriage, I understood that they wanted to visit Harrods, which she referred to as chez 'Arrods. I laughed to myself, with the reason for my good humour stemming from the girl's inability to pronounce the name of the shop correctly. I wasn't quite sure what the group was doing between Lewisham and Crayford, but because I saw it as my duty to help my French friends, I approached the girl and asked her if she was lost.

Looking at the girl, I found myself falling in love. Her face was naturally beautiful, and with the smell of her perfume filling the carriage, I wondered if I really wanted to pick her pockets. A boy then spoke, and talking at the girl as though she was a dog, he asked her to ask me how they could get to Harrods. I assumed that she was the only one who could speak a little English, and that she was the group's unofficial leader. I looked at the boy and saw before me a very disagreeable young man, who, unbeknown to him, was being relieved of the contents of his jacket pockets, by a very over-friendly and helpful Tony.

I looked at the girl's map, and realising that there was now no place in my life for sentiment, I baffled her with directions, instructions and the names of places which she had never heard of. She then smiled, as I suggested that if she followed my advice, she and her friends would soon find themselves at chez Harrods. I think she liked the fact that I threw the occasional French word into the conversation, and whilst she and her friends listened to the advice I was giving, Tony was picking pockets like he had never picked pockets before.

Extract taken from "The Londoners" trilogy - an ebook about two bastards who enjoy ruining lives.