Lewis Crofts – Unashamed Plug

Lewis is a great friend of mine. For the past few years he’s been shying away from his responsibilities in the pub and writing a book. It must be good because somebody’s publishing it.

I read a very early draft version and it was a revelation (unblinkered and unbiaised product review). Any novel that has the word “syphilis” in the first sentence is alright by me.

It’s the embellished biography of dirty old painter Egon Schiele, protegé of Klimt and imprisoned for creating porn. It charts his father’s insanity, his suppressed lust for his sister and a fair bit of homo-erotic fumbling with famous characters from an age gone by.

The publication date isn’t until next year, but you can be guaranteed to get a pristine first edition, bound to be worth a fortune, by pre-ordering NOW your copy of The Pornographer of Vienna. Click away.

(He doesn’t know this yet, but he’ll be doing free beer and personalised book signings for anybody who shows up at his signing event in Brussels next spring.)

Gentle Art Of Salesmanship

I’m back selling stuff, actually trafficking in human beings, and it’s like a drug. I’m building my library of self-help books and this weekend found a fantastic second-hand copy of “The Gentle Art of Salesmanship” (selling for one pence on Amazon) that was written twenty years ago by a man called Harry Turner.

“A selling career … is good for your health, can make you rich, possiby famous, and offers unrivalled opportunities for world travel, good food, fine wine and sexual encounters undreamed of by quantity surveyors even in Slough.”

“If you are the unfortunate possessor of a strong Lancashire, Yorkshire, Birmingham or Liverpool accent, you should ony embark on a sales career if you remain in your own region among people who speak as hideously as you.”

They don’t make self-help books like that any more …

Big Girl’s Blouse

I’m often uncomfortable, as in fear for for my safety uncomfortable. Sitting in passenger seats in fast moving cars, sitting in passenger seats in slow moving cars, walking through Eastbourne town centre at eight on a Friday night, scuba-diving, drinking milk that’s a day out of date … that sort of thing.

But around guns I’ve always reckoned myself pretty cool. Apart from the time at school a four-foot psycho called Wingnut explained to me that with his blank-firing cadet’s rifle that if he got really close and discharged it directly into my ear then the force would be enough to evacuate my brain out the other side. (He went on to be expelled for disabling a milk-man with a high-speed ball-bearing.)

I’ve hung out with former child soldiers in Cambodia (see picture) and fired off automatic machine guns. Didn’t even flinch.

But I was particularly uncomfortable on Friday night when, as the first arrival at Tippler’s Bond party, somebody went the whole hog and discharged some sort of fire-arm about three feet away. And it wasn’t a cap-gun. So I was the first departure as well.

It was, apparently, a starting pistol. Don’t care. Call me old-fashioned, but I remember the days when you could walk into a bar in Brussels and the only danger came from paranoid drug-dealing Albanians with sharp knives and big fists …

Belgian Drivers And Paul Theroux

I am now married.

I am also still alive, despite the best efforts of a large man in a large car, who cut me up on Montgomery roundabout and sent me flying off my scooter. I have a sore thumb. The scooter is written off.

I was actually quite upset. But now I’m okay. Thanks for asking.

I have just read My Secret History by Paul Theroux and it was loathsome and brilliant.

I will now stop start sentences with “I”. Or shoot me.