Thursday 9 November 2006

I'm like a bird...

34, 056.

The good news is that I've thought of a plot outline for the next 15,000 words. The bad news is that I have no idea how it ends. I think the odds on reaching 50,000 words and just finishing are quite good.

You want an extract? I warn you: it's very, very silly.

Really? Don't say I didn't warn you:


He looked up the street. It wasn’t much of a street at all really, it was more of a small square, backing onto a church. Just alongside the church was a tiny passageway that John thought led up towards the Shambles. It was one of York’s famous ‘Snickleways’, the warren of tiny little passages and cut-throughs that turned the old medieval streets in the centre of York into a labyrinth. This one was not lit and bordered onto the churchyard. Perhaps this was the snickleway that the little man had meant? As he watched, he saw a shape sitting on the wall. He peered into the gloom. It was too small to be a person? Was it a cat? A rat perhaps? He took a few steps forwards and took another look, peering dimly up the alleyway at the shape on the wall.
“What do you think you’re looking at, eh?”
John jumped back and looked around to see both who was speaking and who they were speaking to.
“Oi. I’m talking to you, you big ninny. Come here and let me have a good look at you.”
John hesitated for a second. “Me?” He raised a hand to his chest and gestured at himself.
“Yes you, you nugget. You see anyone else around here, do you? No. There’s no bugger here but you. And me. ‘Cept I’m not sure as I count, you see.”
John peered up the alleyway again. The shape sat on the wall shifted slightly, and then spoke.
“Oh for God’s sake. Stop bloody staring at me will you. And don’t make me shout either – it plays murder on my voice. Come here. One foot in front of the other. Hop to it. One, two. One, two.”
It was definitely coming from the shape on the wall. Surely someone was taking the piss? He looked around again. Of course, there must be someone just the other side of the wall. Well, it wasn’t bloody funny. He wasn’t having this.
“Yeah, very funny. You can come out now. I’m not playing this stupid game. Who are you and what do you want?”
There was silence for a moment, and then the shape on the wall peeled out of a shadow and began to hop sideways towards him along the wall. Within a couple of hops he could see more clearly what it was. It was a crow, or perhaps a raven. It hopped a bit further along the wall and peered at him with its head slightly on one side. What light there was glinted off the beady black eyes as the bird studied John.
“Well, if you don’t mind me saying so, you’re not much to look at. I was expecting more.”
“I…” began John. His mind was reeling as his rational brain began to go into shutdown. It was real. There was no one hiding behind the church wall. He was being addressed by a bird. A bird, what’s more, that was wanting to engage him in conversation.
“Cat got your tongue?”
“Oh please. Will you just get over it. I’m a bloody raven. You’re talking to a bloody raven. Deal with it will you, or this is going to be an exceedingly dull conversation. For me, anyway.”
“You can talk!”
The raven rolled its eyes and made a tutting noise.
“Jesus…” it said, slightly under it’s breath, then, louder, “Yes I can talk. Yes I’m a bird. Anything else you feel then need to say, Captain Obvious?”
John thought for a moment. “Um, no. Not really”
Lots of questions flashed through John’s head, but he could see the bird fixing him with its beady eye, and decided that they were all far too obvious to try to articulate. Okay. So. Here he was in York. It was the middle of the night. He was supposed to be at work in a little over eight hours and he was standing in the middle of a small alleyway chatting to a large bird.
“Um. I suppose so.” A thought occurred. “Are ravens nocturnal?”
“What? You mean like owls? Fuck off! I hate fucking owls. They always act so damn superior. No, I’m not a fucking night owl, and it’s way past my fucking bedtime.”
“Oh. Just asking”
“Right, well. Now you know eh? Fucking owls. Honestly. Right. To business. Do you even know why you’re here”
“Um, no. Well. Yes. Um. Perhaps. I met this guy earlier this evening.”
“Small man? Bearded? Dirty looking?”
“Yes, that’s him”
“Where was he? In the bins?”
“Er. No. He was in the pub. The Hole in the Wall”
The raven made that tutting noise again. “Fucking typical. He’s down the boozer and he meets some clown – no offence – and he thinks this is worth getting me out of bed for? Tell me you didn’t give him any money?”
“Um. Well, yes. I did”
“You did? Oh jesus? You bought him a drink? That’s the last thing I need. He’s not supposed to touch that stuff.”
“No! Nothing like that. I gave him a pound and he played on the quiz machine. We played.”
“Oh fuck. Which one was it? ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’? ‘The Weakest Link’?”
“Is that bad? Why is that bad?”
“Yeah it’s bloody bad. If he gets started on those things he’ll be bloody hopeless for anything else. And if he doesn’t win he’ll be in a mood for weeks.”
“Anything else you need to tell me? Anything else happen in there? If he got me out of my nest just because he owes you a quid, then there will be hell to pay…”
“Well, I suppose. Well, the machine asked a really weird question”
“What? Like a gardening question or something?”
eh? Gardening wasn’t John’s cup of tea, but it was hardly the theatre of the bizarre, was it?
“No. It asked ‘where is it’?”
“Where’s what?”
John shrugged. “I don’t know”
“What happened then? Did he answer?”
“No. He just left”
“Well thank fuck for that. At least he did something right today. Right you. Follow me”
With that, the raven flopped clumsily off the wall and with a flap of its wings began to fly heavily down the alleyway towards The Shambles. About twenty meters down, it landed on a piece of guttering and looked back down the alley towards John.


You see what I mean? Imagine what it's like writing this shit.


  1. sounds more fun than my pofaced piece of meaningful/meaningless thirtysomething crap.

  2. That's so cool! I totally want to read it all.

  3. hahaha - thats fab, st :)

    i was doing the squawky raven voice in my head and everything.

    good luck on finishing - i never managed to, any year... in fact most years i never even managed to start ;)

  4. This is good. You've pulled your readers in and left them curious, wanting more. :0)

  5. It's alright troops. I live round the corner, I'll nip round with some cold flannels and a tot of egg nog.

    don't panic.

  6. It's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as performed by the Mighty Boosh.

    "Tour de force" - Time Out

  7. That was me, sorry. Posting from my phone. No login slot.

    - Lizzy, Countess of Literary Hoax

  8. You had me with the talking Raven. Good job, and please post more.
    BTW, are we sure that we all speak the same language? Just wondering. Good luck finishing.

  9. Sounds like Pratchett mixing it up with Poe to me.

    I like it and would quite happily buy it if I came across it in a bookshop.

    Now all you have to do is get it published :)

  10. Cor, I love it.

    I do love a swearing raven!

  11. (PS: my earlier comment was meant as a compliment, in case that wasn't quite crystal)

    *develops complex*