You should be able to scroll through them all using the arrows. There’s a Manchester Naked Bike Ride group on Flickr which has other people’s photos as well.
Spencer Tunick is known for creating art installations involving hundreds of naked people and photographing them. He’s done them all over the world, and now he’s coming to Manchester and Salford. Sign up through the Lowry to take part in the two day event, Tunick’s first multi location shoot, which has been inspired by the art of L S Lowry himself.
Last Friday’s naked bike ride was fun, even though the Police stopped us and claimed that no-one had told them that Naked meant we’d have no clothes on. More pictures in the Manchester World Naked Bike Ride set
Oh the clever
things I should say to you
They got stuck somewhere
Stuck between me and you
Oh I’m nervous
I don’t know what to do
Light a cigarrette
I only smoke when I’m with you
What the hell do I do this for?
You’re just another guy
OK, you’re kind of sexy
But you’re not really special
But I won’t mind
If you take me home
Come on, take me home
I won’t mind
if you take off all your clothes
Come on, take them off
‘Cause I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked
I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked
And the man himself is trying to make that easier by sharing his secrets for great nude photography.
Originally uploaded by spinneyhead.
Or something similar.
Done in Poser, exported as line art and cel-shaded colour then composited, cleaned up and lettered.
“Autumn is boyfriend season. With the nights drawing in and the weather getting worse it’s the right time to have a man to keep you warm and stuff.”
I was with Lauren and Vanessa, a few pints into the night somewhere in Didsbury, when Lauren had dropped this concept into the conversation.
“And in Spring you can dump them because there’s so much else to do.” Vanessa added.
I think I did a guppy impersonation for a while. It was only later that I thought that men are at their horniest in Spring. It’s all sunny and the serotonin levels are rising again. I’d probably have been told that that’s just the way it goes.
Tis the season to be hunted
Important message for the Brotherhood of Single Men!
It’s Boyfriend Season.
They’re after you, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Or let yourself get caught. Whatever.
Posted by Jim at 00:52:34am
I really ought to have asked what a boy does to attract attention during the season. Preferably early on. It could be useful information.
I’m not looking for a relationship, but, then again, I’m not not looking. You know how it is. And the sort of relationship I’m not looking for is a long term one. I don’t think I’m wired for one night stands, flings or seasonal affairs.
Unless the right woman suggests it.
So I’m meeting new people, trying to give a good impression to as many women as possible and having conversations about dating to suit the weather. There’s a whole world apart from the geeks I know and love and it’s quite interesting.
Just so long as they don’t ask me to do tech support.
Sue kills mice for a living.
Not, you know, herself, physically. She does have little hands, probably small enough to wring a rodent’s neck if the need arose. There’ll be a fetish site for that sort of thing.
No. Sue formulates the poison that goes into those mouse hotels, or whatever they’re called, the black or brown plastic boxes with little circular doors you see on the exterior walls of cinemas and the like. Her aim is, perversely, to make the tablets less toxic. If she can kill the mouse quickly and have the poison break down there’s less chance of it getting into the food chain.
God help me, but I found this fascinating. So much so that I sought her out after the speed dating session and we talked some more. It helped that she’s cute. Short, slim, very dark hair, pale. Perhaps a little too pale, she does look like someone who spends her days around poisons. In a room full of topped up tans, Rimmell and hair gel her unpainted pretty face drew me.
I didn’t ask for her number. I don’t know what the etiquette is about that, and she didn’t ask me. I ticked her name on the list, however, and hopefully she did the same for me.
The boyfriend season thing’s becoming a meme. I’ve had a couple of comments and a few people have mentioned it in emails. I’m waiting to see how long it takes for someone to tell me it as if they think I don’t already know about it.
In the meantime, the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Single Men is trying to imagine what sorts of lures we could be using.
“Shouldn’t the hunters be the ones using the lures? We are the prey, after all.” Steve observed.
“Ah, they have their feminine wiles to use as lures.” I can’t believe I said that. This is what happens when you drink strange spirits people bring back from holiday.
“T-shirts with big targets on them.” Bert suggested, “Or that say ‘This space available to rent’ and point at the crotch.”
“Mount me.” I offered.
“T-shirts that say ‘Mount me’.”
“I was thinking more along the lines of a duck call kind of thing.”
“What would it sound like?”
“Wa-Hey!” Bert offered.
“Get yer tits oot for the lads.” Me.
“Not going to work.”
“I have chocolate.” Bert again.
“That…. Now that might work.”
I really, really hate Neil.
Oh, okay, that’s a lie. I love him to bits, in a totally heterosexual way. But he’s getting laid, so I’m very jealous.
She’s a Phd student, “Companion Animal Learned Behaviour.”
“You’re joking right? They do postgrads in pet psychology? How?”
“Have you ever tried to out-think a cat?”
“Fair point. So what are you doing in the pub with your sad single friend when you’ve got a hot doggy shrink to go home to?”
“She’s got some sort of open session on. ‘Bring in your gerbil and we’ll deal with its Oedipal problems.’ That sort of thing. It won’t be done for a while.”
“I was hoping it was because you still loved me.”
“Nah, sorry. You’re last month’s thing. I’m just slumming with you ’cause she lives across the road. Bar billiards?”
Two games, and another pint, later, his phone rang. “Hey honey.” he glanced out of the window at the flats across the road. “Really? How come? Oh, well, that’s cool. Just take all your clothes off and I’ll be right over. Bye bye.”
My shot had gone so horribly wrong that I’d knocked over all three pins. Mental images.
“I’ve got to go. Finish this if you want.” Neil waggled his half drunk pint.
“She isn’t going to be waiting there naked you know.”
“She might be. And would you pass up the chance?”
“No, I guess not. No doggy style, though. Might remind her of work.”
Maybe Neil’s girlfriend can introduce me to a few of her friends.
Or maybe not. The last time we went to a student party Steve and I got drunk and started reminiscing about the early nineties.
There are only so many times you can hear, “I was only four!” before you start to feel old.
Larger offices tend to have a demarcation along employment status lines. The perms look down on us temps because we don’t have their security. We look down on them because that security so often leads to lack of imagination and risk avoidance. Morlocks and Eloi, where it’s always the other bunch who are the knuckle dragging devolveds.
Karen was another of the temps at work. We’d developed a nil carborundum kind of camaraderie against the management stupidity. It was her last day on Friday, so we went for a few drinks.
She’s quite buff, goes to the gym twice a week, to maintain the flat stomach and muscle definition. I refused the offer of an arm wrestle. Cycling does wonders for the definition of my arse and legs, but my top half is flabby and weak.
One by one our band of Eloi disappeared, off home to S.O.s and cats. In the end it was just Karen and me. Somehow we’d made it to the Kro on Oxford Road opposite the University. It was that flux period, between the after work drinkers going home and the party animals getting dressed and heading out.
Karen cycles as well. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Perhaps I should have suggested a ride, but there’s an inner ten year old that just can’t accept the possibility of being beaten by a girl.
At some point before closing time we went our separate ways. I don’t strictly remember the bus ride home. Not that I blacked out. It’s just that I’ve made it so many times it all passes me by unless something particularly interesting happens.
I can’t believe I didn’t get her number or email. I think sh
e knows about my blog.
Sue chose me!
Hungover and befuddled I checked my email. I nearly blocked the message from the speed dating site. It proclaimed ‘Susan wants to see more of you!’ and I was about to mark it as spam when I recognised the site name in the email address.
Sue put a tick next to me on the website. As I ticked against her on my page we get each other’s emails to do with as we please. I was far too hungover to do anything and decided to leave it for a while.
Steve owed me a fry up, so I headed over. Somehow he convinced me to pick up the bacon and sausages on the way. There’s something not quite right about that.
Bert had been photoshopping and now his desktop is a picture of Alyson Hannigan as Vampire Willow, saying “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting boyfriends.”
We like the idea of being hunted. We don’t believe it really happens, though. Any woman caught making it easy for a bloke would be kicked out of the girly club.
Sue emailed me whilst I was out. Is it a bad sign that she’s capable of being that coherent on a Saturday morning?
She wants to get together some time, tonight even, if I’m free. I guess if I take some paracetamol and drink enough water I’ll be able to pass for sentient by the evening.
Food and drinks in Metropolitan on Burton Road. We met early evening, before the pre-club crowd filled it. It was as awkward as you’d expect at first. I bought her a drink (Directors, good call) and we found a table.
“So….” I began, but couldn’t think of what to say next. ‘Why did you wait nearly a fortnight to tick my box?’ would probably sound too judgemental and/or desperate. I sort of waved my hands and smiled.
“Sorry I took so long to complete the feedback. It’s been hellishly busy the last few weeks. I just got back from three days in Germany yesterday.”
“Not really. I didn’t get to see anything of the area. It was all meetings, trips around chem labs and late meals at the hotel. I got some reading done.”
“What sort of stuff?”
“I’m re-reading all my Pratchett.”
“Oh. I started doing that last year.”
We discussed the Discworld for a while, and somehow it segued into hobbies. Thankfully, nothing Sue does in her spare time involves cruelty to small furry animals. We ate, and drank a bit more, then it became a bit too crowded.
Her place was only a couple of street away. It seemed logical that we should end up there. It was a single bedroom flat on the first floor. I sat on the sofa and checked out the living room whilst she broke open some wine. It was good to know I’m not the only one who’s so untidy. It wasn’t messy, it was just that paperwork, books and magazines were filed in piles on available surfaces.
She brought a bottle of white and two tumblers and sat right beside me. One glass later she was draped across my lap and I was pushing and tugging her top off.
She’s got tiny tits with responsive nipples that seem, relatively, large. I couldn’t keep my hands, lips, tongue and, occasionally, teeth off them. She squirmed a bit, made a lot of appreciative noises and finally went tense and then limp with a little “Wow”. The flush on her pale skin was very sexy.
Having made her come just by concentrating on her breasts I had sealed the deal. We took things to the bedroom.
Coffee in bed. Sweet.
The bedroom’s tidier than the living room. Two bookshelves completely filled, a dressing table and two cupboards. The only signs of disarray were the suitcase and our discarded clothes from the night before.
It was good coffee, too. “I buy the beans from the health food shop. They’re FairTrade.” Sue explained.
She was wearing a big baggy top, looking tiny. Her hair framed her face and she looked worryingly young. “I nearly didn’t tick anyone from the speed dating night. I kept telling myself no-one would be interested.”
“So what made you change your mind?”
“You seemed a nice guy, and interesting. And I was a bit horny. And, well, it is boyfriend season.”
Notes I did think of posting this in parts, but then decided to present it in one piece. “Boyfriend Season” was written in October whilst working on an IT helpdesk. It was inspired by a conversation very like the one that opens the story (see my own version of the Boyfriend Season post). Sadly I haven’t seen the women who introduced me to the concept since that evening.
I’d like to expand upon this story. I was experimenting with minimalism when I wrote it and on re-reading it I think I may have stripped away a little too much. I’ve stated my aim to incorporate this into a novel about a blogger to be called Post & Publish. I see it being the second, of three or four, distinct parts of the novel. Parts 3 and 4 will concentrate on Jim and Sue’s relationship developing and the lives of their friends. I’ve only got this lightly sketched out at the moment, it’s my New Year writing project.
So Much To Answer For, a crime story also written whilst I was on the helpdesk.
Heavensent is the propeller-punk sci-fi war novel I recently wrapped up.
Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.
Technorati tag: Fiction, Romance, Comedy, Manchester
Rachel’s flat, leased whilst she was in Manchester, was a split level apartment on the top floor of a block behind the railway station. As he could appreciate the beauty in old industrial buildings and canals, Joe liked the view. He was under orders to stare out of the window whilst Rachel changed into something less formal.
“Why would someone burn down your studio?”
“Don’t know. The guy from City Life said some bad things about a show I had stuff in. And he’s probably got a lot of spare time nowadays.” Joe had a good idea what it might have been about, but none about who could have done it.
“Could it have anything to do with your dead friend?” Rachel read his mind.
“He wasn’t my friend.”
“Sorry. Your dead acquaintance.”
“Sorry. Just a bit touchy about it.”
Rachel had thrown a dark hoodie on over jeans an a T shirt. It said UMIST across the front, her brother and Joe’s alma mater. “I want to blend in.” she said.
“UMIST doesn’t exist any more.”
“Oh, well in that case I want to stand out.” They stood together at the open window. “You smell of smoke.” Rachel observed.
“I hadn’t noticed.”
“Let’s go get you beer. The pubs should be open by now. I’ll even buy you lunch.”
They skirted Piccadilly and went to Bar Fringe on Swan Street for food and Belgian beer. “Are you trying to get me drunk?” Rachel asked two hours later when she noted the ABV on her third bottle of Kwak.
“No more drunk than I’m trying to get myself.”
“That rat’s looking at me funny.” Rachel indicated a cartoon rodent embedded in the wall.
“I think that’s our cue to leave.”
They drank up and headed out into drizzle that became a downpour before they had crossed the road. “Could have done with this earlier.” Joe dead panned as they huddled in a doorway. The rain refused to let up, so they scooted from doorway to doorway and under awnings along Oldham Street. Joe named each establishment as they passed them, giving history lessons if they stayed outside them long enough.
The gaps they crossed became larger and they spent more time in the rain between each stop, until they ran out of cover and sprinted the last few hundred yards to the apartment block. Joe was first to the door. He turned under the glass awning just in time to see Rachel closing on him. She slowed, but not quite enough. He caught her and helped her come to a halt.
They leaned against the door, breathless and laughing, and made no move to part. “You’re soaking.” Rachel announced eventually, red faced, “Let’s get you upstairs and out of those wet clothes.”
“Does that line ever work?”
Under instruction, Joe stripped off in the bathroom. He even discarded his boxers, and they were merely damp. There was a bathrobe behind the door. He tried it on and it came to just below his knees. It would do.
Rachel was wearing climbing trousers and a short loose T shirt. She took Joe’s clothes and started going through the pockets. Wallet, keys, phone and various bits of paper found their way onto the settee. “I’ll dry these.” She pulled the belt from his trousers and draped it over the back of the seat.
Joe sat and watched the rain wash down the windows. A big bastard and a guy with tattoos? They had to be involved with Hill somehow. His killers or his associates? Or both? It wasn’t beyond Hill to have come up with some mad scheme to swindle the people he was working with. And now, for whatever reason, they had a vendetta against Joe. What had Hill got him into this time?
All worries were set aside as a warm body pressed against his back and a glass of white wine appeared before him. “Are you trying to get me drunk?”
“No more drunk than I’m trying to get myself.” Rachel tried to climb over the back of the settee. She slipped as she settled down and spilt wine over her climbing trousers.
“I’ll have to get you out of those wet clothes.”
“We seem to be going in circles.” Rachel put her wine down, stood and stepped out of the trousers. She was now naked from the waist down. “I think that’s enough flirting.” She took Joe’s glass and put it beside hers on the table. He could only nod agreement and grin. Strangely enough he was concentrating on her face. She straddled him and they kissed.
Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.
Erotic Islamic Calendar Girls by Max Emadi. I did a quick search this morning, and was quite surprised that this was the only example I could find, especially as the West has been eroticising (or worse) Allah’s ladies for years (haven’t read the whole article yet).
I also found a piece on the Dance of the Seven Veils and the true story of Salome.
This post has been of no use as far as the whole veil issue goes, unless I can defuse it by linking to pictures of nearly naked chicks.
In fact, here is the whole 100 Things list as it currently stands. I’ve updated links but not any of the aims. Reminders of things I have done are welcome, as are suggestions for removal and replacement.
(Some of the later Things name the people who came up with them during a drunken brainstorming session.)
1. Play croquet
I don’t even know the rules to croquet.
2. Play strip croquet
Ah, the effect that Heathers can have on you.
3. Cycle the Coast to Coast
4. Keep a tidy house
Without calling in any sort of housekeeping services.
5. Live for (at least) three months in another country
6. Shoot Tony Blair
Already done that.
6. Try to get elected
What to, I don’t know.
7. Take part in a threesome
Yes, I know I’m not even participating in any twosomes at the moment, but this is a long term list. (And if I do achieve this one, I probably won’t announce it.)
8. Take part in a foursome
9. Take part in an orgy
Is an orgy 5 or more? Or is there an official lower limit to an orgy? Are there different imperial and metric orgies?
Which will be good all round. If I can manage to make it onto the list regularly, even better.
Edit Popdex has started behaving oddly, I’ll settle for getting on the Blogsnow list instead.
11. Mention sheep and still get laid
12. Make a living from writing
13. Make a film
It doesn’t have to be a feature length movie, but that would be the next step.
14. Get out of debt
I’ll discount any mortgage from this requirement, and just allow for clearing overdrafts and loans.
15. Become a millionnaire
16. Climb the highest peaks in each country of the United Kingdom
17. Learn to juggle
18. Build a model village
19. Upset the Daily Mail so much that they run a story about me being a threat to the nation’s morals
20. Visit the beaches of D-Day, and the little town of Quenast my grandparents’ house was named after
21. Visit Pearl Harbour
22. Read Moby Dick
Gratuitous Zelig reference.
23. Get interviewed by Richard and Judy
Or a passable equivalent.
24. Own a Land Rover
And actually use it for off roading.
25. Have a bike for every day of the week
Mountain bike, Jump bike/BMX, road bike, recumbent, folding, commuter, unicycle.
26. Give a grand to charity
Not raise a grand, but give one. Raising a grand should be possible, especially if I do 27.
27. Do over a hundred miles on the Bogle Roll
My plan for next year’s Roll. I’ll need to get another of my 7 bikes to do it.
28. Learn to snowboard
29. Get a dog
But not whilst I’m living in the city.
30. Own a thousand CDs (or have 100 Gbytes of MP3s on my computer.)
I’m going to cheat and allow CD singles in this.
31. Attend the Glastonbury festival
32. Roast my own coffee 33. Send a dirty text message
34. Propose to someone
35. Fly in a hot air balloon
36. Go to a shooting range
37. Spend a whole day watching all three of the Lord of the Rings films back to back
38. Buy a house
39. Own a piece of Microsoft
41. Canoe on the Thames
42. Figure out the question
43. Brew beer
44. Learn a new language
Spoken, not computer. And not Klingon.
45. Start a craze
46. Make love in a hammock
This one inspired by The Sure Thing
47. Visit every continent
48. Fly a helicopter
49. Build a tree house
50. Hold a party for a hundred people
51. Make love outdoors
The roundabout incident doesn’t count as it was unplanned, drunken horniness. However, I could go for getting 46 at the same time.
52. Join the Mile High Club
53. Join the Mile Low Club
In a cave or down a mine.
54. Join the Two Metres High club
On a train. Sleeper carriages count.
55. Exceed 40mph on a bike
56. Build a house
57. Learn to play a musical instrument
58. Get a signed letter from a serving head of state
Probably not going to be Tony, though.
59. Break a record
Even if it is for the silliest ‘Hundred things to do’ list.
60. Burn all my CD singles to MP3
61. Appear on Have I Got News For You?
This will probably be just before or just after offending the Daily Mail.
62. Swim with Dolphins
It was going to be swim with monkeys, but I reckon any mammal will do
63. Visit Japan
64. Get a HGV or Motorcyle licence
The motorcycle licence would be cooler, but I value my limbs the shape they are.
65. Learn Morse code
66. Attend Burning Man
There were also plans to create a BM equivalent in the Scottish Highlands, to be called Soggy Man.
67. Dance naked in the rain
68. Drive a race/ rally car
69. Fulfil Sabs’ dream of seeing me walk out of Lyme Park lake wearing breeches.
Penny. Well, it was Sabs’ idea originally, but Penny added it to the list.
70. Get a woman to pose in the nude (for my comic.)
Zoe. I asked Zoe if she’d pose naked for me, but she said no. Shame. I’ve also widened the scope to posing for anything, just to improve my chances. Any volunteers?
71. Play UV pool
72. Do roman chariot racing with big fat men in place of horses.
Zoe. This is a far nicer version of Lesley’s suggestion of ‘Become a pony boy.’
73. Flash at a concert audience
Penny. Originally ‘Flash at a Status Quo audience’ but I’ve expanded it.
74. Be a model at an Ann Summers party
75. Swim the full length of the Bridgewater Canal
Penny. So long as I don’t h
ave to do it in the actual canal.
76. Learn the national anthems of the Six Nations
Penny and Lesley.
77. Design a sex toy
Zoe and Penny. Full description- ‘Design a sex toy and advertise for testers and reach quality standards for ISO and BSS’. By setting such stringent conditions they just volunteered to be the first testers. There then followed a brainstorming session on what would make a perfect sex toy, the notes from which will form the basis of a future post.
78. Be an extra on a TV programme.
Emily. She originally stipulated Hollyoaks, but it was decided I wasn’t blonde enough.
79. Buy lingerie for a woman
Penny. In person, from a shop. Original conditions- ‘Buy a woman a thermal vest in person from Pleasure and a matching set from Kendals including peep hole bra and crotchless knickers whilst dressed in a flowery dress.’
80. Buy the Pete Waterman (SAW) compilation album
Penny. She insists it’s not because she’s too ashamed to buy it herself. It could have been worse, she could have suggested the karaoke version
81. Learn to salsa
Penny and Lesley. I’d also like to learn to make the perfect salsa dip.
82. Have sex in an ambulance or hearse
Penny and Harry. Originally an ambulance or ‘vehicle of the dead’ while on the move.
83. Grow a bonsai tree
Penny. A bit of wishful thinking considering I killed my last two bonsai. My sister did buy me The Art of the Bonsai Potato for Christmas.
84. Have a drink in every CAMRA pub in Manchester
Harry. Originally it also said ‘within one week’ but I edited that out.
85. Get an 8 pint certificate from The Crown in Stockport.
What they actually do is put your name on a board in the pub and, allegedly, get you a tankard engraved with your name.
86. Get zipped up in a US style body bag.
Harry. Only if I can take a big knife in to cut my way out.
87. Create art using my body.
Penny. Originally ‘Create modern art using your body and any other body using bandages, plaster of paris and vaseline and get it displayed in a gallery.’
88. Get a piece of art displayed in a gallery
Me, but inspired by 87. I’m allowed to do a Banksy.
89. See a psychiatrist
Penny. After some of these suggestions I’ll have to.
90. See a psychosexual counsellor
Penny. See above. And I think this should also apply to some of the people supplying suggestions.
91. Bowl on the Bowling Green again.
Emily. That is, the bowling green that used to be in front of UMIST union. They’ve done horrible things to it. Does boules count?
92. Attend a televised awards ceremony
93. Learn a programming language
Properly, not in the half arsed way I learnt to gaffer tape routines together in VBA. Griff says that C# is quite a lucrative area to be in.
94. Visit every Disneyland
This was actually Griff’s aim, but I stole it.
This aim has been removed from the list.
95. Get a free crate of Glenfiddich
Sometimes breweries will gift crates of their products to writers who mention them. I’m also open to offers of Jennings Sneck Lifter.
96. Go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef
97. Get as close to an active volcano as possible
98. Attend a gala movie premiere
99. Publish a cook book
My sister’s been promising to write one for a while now. I must get her to finish it.
100. Get ‘Ian Seat’ into the OED
Being the position in a crowded room, bar, etc, which has the least advantageous view for eyeing up members of the opposite sex.
101. Burn all my CDs to MP3
102. Eat in, or from, every restaurant and kebabery in Rusholme.
Which could be a year or so’s work. Longer, considering how rarely I eat out. It’s not called the Curry Mile for nothing.
This replaces 94.
103. Go Guerilla Gardening
Next spring I’m walking around Manchester with a stick and a pocket full of seeds. I’m going to plant peas and herbs and other veg in flowerbeds and hedges.
104. Follow the route of the M60 by bike
Utilising side streets, riverbanks and paths.
105. Appear in a TV commercial.
Because they pay residuals. If it got shown enough, I could almost live off it.
106. Make love with a cheerleader.
Every American boy’s dream.
105 and 106 are provisional. If no-one can come up with better suggestions, they stay!
Note Forgot to post this yesterday, so you get two updates today.
Lensman felt less naked as the terrain became more hilly. Their blow to the railroad had been so major that he had decided to bypass the second target- the airfield of a despised deserter squadron- and return to the mountains. The third target, as it was on his route, he would hit in passing.
It was a larger bridge than the one they had sneaked under on their way out of the mountains, and guarded more heavily. Even the rocky riverbed was patrolled, which was going to make planting charges on the four wooden legs much harder.
They used tree cover to get as close as possible then watched for a pattern to emerge from the patrols. There were two guards at the north end of the bridge, two at the south and two underneath. At regular intervals one of the guards atop the bridge would walk down the embankment to relieve one of those below. It was so predictable that the guard being relieved would set off up at the same time as the other started down. This provided Kess with his window to take down a number of the guards at his leisure.
It was approaching dusk when the next change over began. Kess wasn’t taking any chances. The shot was at the extreme range of his baby long, so he was using his full size gun. The single guard in the riverbed was looking bored. “Now.” Whispered Mov.
The guard was thrown several spans by the bullet. Kess reloaded and shifted his aim. The new guard didn’t even have time to register the body on the ground before the bullet hit him.
In groups of two, they sneaked down the riverbed. Lensman led the demolition team, packing explosives around the bridge legs and counting his men through.
As Kess and Mov brought up the rear there was the sound of motors up the road, and a shout from above. Weak headlights, from far down the road, illuminated the riverbed and the two figures running across it. An autogun opened up from above.
Mov fell, and didn’t get up. He only moved when more bullets hit him. Kess stumbled, but made it under the cover of the parapet. He looked back at Mov, rolled onto his back and pointed his long rifle straight up. In the confined space the flash and report were shocking. The bullet smashed through the wooden decking and a moment later the guard’s body tumbled to the riverbed.
Lensman helped the younger man to stand. There was blood on Kess’ right leg. The both looked back at Mov. “We have to leave him and get out of here.” From their positions upstream the rest of the squad was firing on the remaining guards. Kess nodded understanding and allowed his commander to help him move. The last man out pulled the pins from the fused bag charges.
The convoy had stopped far down the road, and troops were jumping from softskins. As yet they didn’t seem to have any heavy weapons to bring to bear. A squad ran onto the bridge to take up firing positions, just as the charges went off. Some of them made it back off before the structure toppled. It was a minor victory. Lensman’s squad was still outnumbered four to one. He began planning for a last stand.
Every other boat was a former battle craft. They had even come across a tracked amphibious thing that ferried people back and forth across the river. They took their cues from these craft and decorated theirs to match.
The shoreline was naked of trees, but not of industrial litter. Oil drums, both collapsible and rigid, were stacked up with old tyres, track segments and whole abandoned vehicles. The few green shoots became ever rarer as the air became more polluted. They took to covering their mouths with cloth and shielding their eyes with goggles.
“What could produce this much toxic air?” Marra wondered.
“Reff.” Dack told her, “It is a city dedicated to refining and processing the resources they strip from the plains and forests.”
The city came at them suddenly, appearing from its own haze. There were docks and warehouses and beyond them a great barrier of smokestacks and soot. They found a decrepit little jetty and landed. “I believe I have found my mission.” Morn announced as he alighted.
“Here? But there could be more deserving downstream. What about my country?” Marra asked.
“To take back your country you need more men like Dack and fewer like me. Even on your own you have the strength to do the job. It is my task to help the truly helpless.”
There was movement at the shore end of the jetty. Small figures resolved from the murk. They were all armed, some with spears taller than themselves. Two larger figures came towards the boat. As they drew nearer they were revealed as identical twins, each with the build of a wrestler. Identical but for one detail- one had a red crescent tattooed down the right side of his face, the other the left.
“Off are jetty!” proclaimed Left. For all his size he was very young, perhaps no more than a year past hairing.
“I would like to enter Reff.”
“Nothing in Reff but death.” Right announced.
“Perhaps I could help. Can I speak with your parents?”
Left laughed at that. A nasty laugh with hints of violence. “Are parents are dead.” Right announced.
“You are orphans?”
“We are all.” Left gestured at the little figures.
Right had come to a decision. “We fight. You win, you pass. You lose…..” He addressed this to Dack, then studied Marra, considering her his prize.
“Very well.” Morn stepped forward. Marra kept Dack from protesting. “You fight me. If I win, you will take me into the city. If I lose, we shall get in our boat and sail away.”
That wasn’t the prize that Left wanted, but he was ready for a fight now. Besides, he was nearly three whole spans taller than this little man and one span taller than the dark one and the woman. “Both of us.” He announced. It was supposed to unnerve his opponent, but the little man simply nodded and smiled.
Marra and Dack took steps back. They could jump into the boat and get weapons if needed. Left stepped forward, relishing the bone popping noises he would soon hear. He lunged at Morn.
And went straight over him. Morn had ducked under his attacker’s arms and dropped to the floor. He jabbed at the boy’s groin and levered him into a cartwheel by the ankle. Left landed on his face, pivoting about it onto his back.
Morn bounced back up, ready to defend against Right’s attack. This youngster was more wary than his brother. He tried jabbing punches. Morn dodged them, tapping at nerve clusters until the boy found his legs wouldn’t respond and he fell sideways.
Some of the smaller figures raised their spears. Left was forcing himself up, he waved them to stop. Morn was ready for another attack, though there would not be much to it. “No one beat me before.” Left complained, “Show me how.”
“Maybe one day. Your brother will recover in a little while. When he does, perhaps you can show me where you all live.”
Left nodded agreement. He waved the little ones to come closer. “Are tribe. You have belongings?”
Marra and Dack passed items up from the boat. Morn passed some of them back. The little ones picked up the treasure as it was piled up, ready to carry it back to their hideout.
Finally, Marra and Dack came onto the jetty to say their farewells. “It has been an honour to share time on the river with you.” Marra announced.
“And with you.” They clasped hands and bowed until their foreheads touched.
Dack and Morn bowed to each other without touching. “May we meet again.” Dack said.
“Indeed. There are great things coming. Perhaps we will be part of them.” Morn joined the tribe of juveniles and walked off into the grime.
Though a lot depends on the ‘quality’ of the players.
Fans will strip off to watch England take on Paraguay before playing in a mixed sex tournament in Throckley, Newcastle.
I just found yet another of Spinneyhead’s lost novels.
Dancing Through the Dark was a fairy tale set in the (then) present day (I wrote it in the early nineties) with a soundtrack by Meatloaf and Carter USM. There was a Tetris waterfall, a mad Fairy King and an evil, scheming member of the Cabinet. I never finished it, of course, though a shorter screenplay version was completed. For your delight, here’s the whole of the first chapter.
Steve hung up the phone and looked around the rather dismal motorway services. He could have a meal from the cafeteria, but cold beans in the van seemed more appetising. He stared at the screens of the video games across the way, trying to become mesmerised, then turned and went into the shop.
Armed with three large bags of jelly babies, Steve sat in the van in the rain. It had seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea when it had occurred to him the previous night. He would get in the van and go on a tour.
It was now early afternoon of the day after the idea before. Steve was most of the way to nowhere- and bored. He ripped the head off a defenceless jelly baby and looked out across the carpark. The problem was motorway driving, it was just so dull. When his left leg had gone to sleep through lack of use, Steve had decided to stop for lunch. Now he really didn’t want to go back on to the motorway, he needed some winding country lanes to drive along instead. Steve started up the van, drove it to the fuel pumps and filled up with diesel. When he had paid, he drove back into the carpark.
Most motorway service stations have a small gate hidden at the back of the carpark. This gate provides access to a nearby minor road so that staff can get in more easily in the morning. After one circuit of the carpark, Steve had found just such a gate. He ignored all the signs protecting it and drove up the short slip road. The van emerged onto a much more sensibly sized road and set out, parallel to the motorway, in the opposite direction to the one it had been going. Steve selected some loud music, turned up the stereo, and drove much faster than he was supposed to.
Blossom had to admit, she did like her body the way it was. She was short, possibly slightly too short at only five feet, and small. Pert was how she liked to describe herself. Cascading ringlets of titian hair hid her ears and, when she wanted, her eyes- which reflected back as a deep blue that people wanted to dive into. Her nose hid under a butterfly swarm of freckles and her lips were relaxed into a natural smile. She ran a finger through the water and her image broke up into many small moving bands and waves. She sighed and looked around her little clearing.
It was a nice clearing, almost unspoilt by human intrusion. There hadn’t been a single used condom anywhere in sight, and only a few discarded beer bottles and cans. It was a much better place for Blossom’s having visited it, of course. She watched the shadows of leaves as they played across her naked skin, sorry that she would soon have to put some clothes on and leave. She stretched, enjoying the play of sunlight and shadow for a last time, then pulled her bag from behind a tree.
The bag was a large shapeless thing, built up from swatches of leather. Every little square had been kindly donated by some happy, healthy and willing animal and Blossom couldn’t feel at all guilty about it if challenged. It held a lot more than could have been imagined and it was a while before Blossom found the clothes she wanted. Clothed in what she felt to be appropriate garb, she was ready to leave the greenery and take her place on any street. The wonders of camouflage. She took up the bag and started out. On the threshold of her temporary little paradise she turned and blew a kiss. A wind blew up and all the trees waved their branches gently as she left.
The lines laced together beautifully to form the symbols on the map. They worked so well that it was possible to see diagrams of the hidden spaces through them from some angles. The only light in the room flickered from the fire place to backlight a figure of fine and weak lines. He turned his thin face away from the map with a smile of anticipation.
The lights of the city revealed themselves with a move of the figure’s right hand. Something jumped from the outstretched left hand to flick a switch and light the room.
The curtains swayed where they were parked and the small ball flew back on elasticated string. The figure put the ball, and the remote control for the curtains back into the pockets of his tweed jacket.
The room didn’t really suit him. The squire’s style couldn’t really blend with the chrome and black decor. The fire burned under a stainless steel hood. A simple button flooded the fire base with smothering gas, killing and cooling the fire.
The squire left the room through the window, scaling down the ten storeys with relative ease. It was going to be blatantly obvious that he had been there, but that didn’t matter. There was no new information for the squire, so he had to simply return home and see how it unfolded.
Steve was lost. It wasn’t any great surprise, he had been taking random turns for a couple of hours as a way of finding somewhere interesting to eat lunch. The picnic table by the stream had been rather incongruous, but perfectly fine for dining at. Now, however, it was proving impossible to locate picnic site or stream on the map.
The search had narrowed down to one square on the grid, which only covered around forty square miles. Using the side of the van as a third hand, Steve rotated the atlas and checked up and down the valley for landmarks. It would have been easier if he had been on the side of a hill, he guessed, but he hadn’t been afforded that luxury.
“East of middle and North and South of Nowhere.”
Steve dropped the atlas at the sound of the piping voice. He picked it up and shook the mud off before he turned. “Where did you come from?” It was a particularly deep and probing question considering how much Steve was still shaking.
“I found myself in the woods and just wandered over here looking for someone to give me a lift.”
Steve tossed the atlas through the open driver’s window so hard that it came out of the passenger’s side. This ruffled his fake nonchalance and he went to retrieve the book from yet another puddle. “Well there’s me and the next one should be along in about a century.” Steve had just noticed that the road was actually tightly packed gravel rather than tarmac.
“I’ll take that to be ages.” The girl shifted her bag, almost as large as she was, round to the passenger door of the van. Steve kicked at the surface of the track. “The door’s locked.” he commented absently. The door clicked open and first the sack and then the girl swung into the van. “Oh. Okay then, maybe it isn’t.”
Steve picked a few pieces of gravel from the track and threw them at the stream. He got into the van and shifted the atlas and rucksack into the back. The girl was sitting expectantly on the seat by the open passenger’s window. “Fasten your seat belt” Steve reminded her, before doing the same and starting the engine. The driven wheels slipped slightly on the surface. Steve took the van forward a short way before turning the wheel and pressing his foot down.
The rear wheels span and fought for friction. Resolution of vectors pushed the back of the van around in a tight arc until it faced back the way it had come. It dragged curls of newly raised dust in its slipstream as it trundled off.
The track turned into a brick cobbled road. Steve was certain that he hadn’t heard the road rippling by under the tyres when he had been this way earlier. He continued in the direction he would have gone if it hadn’t been for the detour.
The castle came at them slowly, peeki
ng over the rise as they sailed along a shallow bend. It came ever more slowly as Steve lifted his foot and stared over the steering wheel. Now he knew he was lost. He eventually disengaged the gears and let the van trundle slowly down the slight incline to the castle’s entrance.
The hillside broke against the castle like a rolling wave. Bracken foamed against the walls. Steve couldn’t help musing that castles were normally built on the tops, rather than the sides, of hills. This second configuration gave a terrible vantage point to any attackers.
No ancient monument should be so well preserved. The lower part of a fairy tale turret sat above the arch of the gate. A band new dark wood bridge crossed the moat. Steve had left the van door open. He closed it after going back to check that he had pulled the hand brake. He returned again to lock the doors as he knew they would be around for some time.
The girl was already most of the way into the castle. She only stopped to stare up at the gate. Steve stood on the bridge, then moved from side to side, testing for non existent give. The planks were almost certainly safe to drive the van over. He considered this for a moment before the girl called from the castle.
The courtyard was large, made more so as the tumble down buildings lining the walls had tumbled down. The keep faced the gate, imposingly solid within the solid walls. In the very centre of the yard a stone plinth had been almost overgrown. The girl had laid a rug out on the plinth and was busy spreading tins onto it. “I’m afraid I’ve only got the tinned stuff.” Steve turned a large tin of glazed ham in his hands and felt hungry again. The girl emptied the bag and shook it. She looked inside and searched around all the nooks, frowning.
“I don’t seem to have a can opener.”
Steve opened the pouch on his belt and unfolded and folded the gadget that emerged until it presented a tooth and hook for opening the tin. He handed this to the girl. As she battled with a tin he drew another gadget from another pocket and attacked the ham with it.
There was the ham, pheasant, pickled vegetables of almost every description and, from somewhere, crackers. Steve’s gadget refolded to produce a knife and he was using this to slice cured mushrooms to top a thick slab of ham on a cracker. “I don’t believe I’ve asked your name?”
“Where did you get all this food? I mean it’s not your usual hitch hiker fare.”
“I was given it. The clothes as well.”
Steve looked the girl over for probably the first time. He would have done it earlier but that might have meant crashing the van. Her clothes did look handed down, and quirkily timeless. They were tweeds, cut down and refitted. They had refitted quite well, Steve checked them out again- just to look at the detailing. Blossom’s hair fell over her shoulders in heavy waves that were trying to be curls. She smiled and Steve caught sight of her eyes. They were of a blue that he could quite happily dive into. He managed to catch the ham before it hit the ground.
“Are you going anywhere in particular? Blossom enquired.
“No. I was going to ask you the same.” Blossom shrugged, so Steve continued, “I just decided I needed a break yesterday, so I bundled some stuff into the van and set off.”
“So you’re on holiday?”
“For a fortnight, yes.”
“What do you do?”
“Play computer games and scan the jobs pages. Oh yes, and sign on every other Tuesday.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Only because I bought everything I needed before being sacked. I’ve beaten every game I’ve got, though, and can’t really afford any more.”
“Life must be so hard.”
“Unbearable. I want to go and look at the keep.” They folded the rug around the food and left it for later collection.
The keep was still solid enough to show its design. Aged oak beams blocked the gate sized door, apart for one passable gap. Steve measured the depth of a beam as one hands span as he walked past. Inside the keep, away from the drying sun, the beams were covered in a greasy slime built up from too much water.
Spotlight beams of sunlight cut through the keep from arrow slits. Otherwise, “It’s a bit dark in here isn’t it.” Commented Blossom.
Steve jangled his keys out of his pocket and fumbled for the attached torch. He scanned the tiny dot of light around then settled it on the ground in front of him. “It’s not a very big beam.” Blossom observed.
“It’s not a very big torch.” Sulked Steve.
“We’ll just have to make do then won’t we.”
“I’ve got a sensibly sized one in the van if you want.”
“No, no, let’s go on as we are.”
Steve picked a way across the rubble towards a spiral stairwell lit with a cross shape. There was a fluttering from across the chamber. Steve turned toward it and a pinpoint of torch light traced across the far walls. Blossom tapped Steve on the shoulder and pointed. A dove moved in poetic slow motion through a shaft of dust refracted light. The bird arced over their heads and disappeared up the stairs. Steve returned to making his way across the floor.
The staircase only went up one level, the second flight had disintegrated into a selection of oversize cheese slices. The room they emerged into covered the whole of the first floor. One whole wall consisted of slotted and leaded window. Beneath the window was a large stone and wood throne. Blossom took quite naturally to the royal position whilst Steve considered the glass. “I didn’t think they could do glass when they built this sort of place.”
“It’s amazing what they could do with magic.”
Steve tapped one of the diamonds of glass. The second tap dislodged the glass and it fluttered down toward the trees. Steve bit his lip and backed away, careful not to touch anything else. “Do you have any idea what this place is.”
“Well I reckon this is Arthur’s seat.”
“Arthur’s seat is in Edinburgh. Isn’t it?”
“Ah, that’s what they all say.” Blossom was up and striding across the hall. She stopped by the remnants of a faded pennant. She tugged at it gently. “Do you fancy a little memento?”
“Best not. People tend to get pissed off if you steal from ancient monuments.”
“God yes. Do you think the Greeks would have inflicted donner kebabs on the world if they still had their marbles?”
“Possibly not. Shall we go?”
Steve looked around the room. There were corners and stairways that he could have investigated for days. But he couldn’t be bothered. “Yeah, let’s went.”
They went down the staircase and tiptoed through the rubble. Birds had flocked to the picnic tablet. They scattered with the scraps they could carry. Steve refolded the rug around the food and ported it back to the van.
While Blossom transferred the empty tins to a plastic bag, Steve wound down the window and clambered onto the roof. He slid across carefully to the place he could stand on a strengthening band. He was still a little uncertain about whether he would buckle the panel. Shifting his weight nervously, Steve scanned the road backwards and forwards. Far off in the direction the van pointed the moving glint of sunlight on car glass could be seen. “Thar she blows!” Steve pronounced.
“What?” Blossom popped her head out of the opened window.
“Civilisation.” Steve slid off the roof and opened the door again. “Move over.”
The van rolled for several yards before Steve bothered to start the engine. The lane opened onto a deserted B road. Steve tossed a pound coin to decide to go left.
It’s a search term from the old days of Spinneyhead which, along with Alyson Hannigan’s feet, made me look like the prime destination for fetishisers of celebrity feet. It’s been popping up in the referrer logs again in the last fortnight, probably due to Joey’s impending nuptials to Scientology boy.
I still don’t have any toe related images, but I can point you to- Tom Cruise is Engaged to Katie Holmes: I’ve seen her naked! and Free Katie. (Via Fleshbot and Screenhead)
Technorati tag: Katie Holmes
Fleshbot pointed to these sets of cards because of the smut content. However, they aren’t all just naked babes and dirty manga, some of the card sets that have been carefully scanned in and arranged are vintage or illustrated with fish or bugs. Whatever your preference, you can download versions to sample or print out.