Category Archives: The Clash

Train In Vain at Pulp Metal Magazine

PULPLOGO (1)I have a new yarn up at Pulp Metal Magazine.

It’s called TRAIN IN VAIN:

Seatown train station was certainly a lot better looking than I remembered it but it still smelled of puke. And shit, And sweat. Well, it did now that Smiffy was there. He’d spruced himself up a bit, slicked back his hair, put on a double-breasted pinstripe suit. But his rancid stench still oozed out. I hadn’t really seemed to notice it when we were boozing together in The Cobble Bar but out here in the fresh air it seemed overpowering.

A small group of football fans, watched by an equal sized group of bored policemen, snaked out of the station, through the streets and toward the town centre. They were quieter than I expected but then I’d never been much of a football fan, even as a child. I assumed supporting a football team was something you just grew out of although a few of the fans looked as if they’d grown a bit too much. Especially around the stomach area.’

Check it out, if you fancy.

CLIP: Cold London Blues by Paul D. Brazill

CLB---3d-stack_d400Cold London Blues (CLB) is a blackly comic slice of pulp fiction (or Punk Fiction, if you fancy!) published by indie publisher Caffeine Nights Publishing.  CLB is a follow up to my book Guns Of Brixton (GOB) – a violent gangster romp, a sweary Ealing Comedy. With GOB, I used the titles of Clash songs to – loosely!- frame the book.

Whereas GOB was a tad Mockney music hall in its approach, with CLB I wanted something more noir, more torch song, and so I used Vic Godard and Subway Sect songs in the same way. (I’d previously named a couple of characters after Vic. In my story The Last Laugh there’s a hit man known only as Godard and a bent copper called Vic Napper.)

The following scene features the murderous priest Father Tim Cook, who is going through a delayed mid-life crisis.  He and his friend Gregor are on a pub crawl which takes them to a smokey, pokey bar full of sinners known as Noola’s Saloon.

NOBODY’S SCARED

Noola’s Saloon was even more crowded than the pub they’d just left but that certainly didn’t deter Father Tim and Gregor, who had decided they were on a drinking mission. As they shuffled through the door, the Wurlitzer jukebox burst to life and Howling Wolf snarled out ‘I Ain’t Superstitious.’

The pub was dimly lit and smoky, despite the fact that no one was smoking. Gregor found a small table near a disused cigarette machine and Tim went to the bar. A dishevelled and unshaven old soak, who seemed to be dressed like a private eye from some old black and white film, nestled on a bar stool, calmly contemplating the glass of whisky that was in front of him. The ice cubes seemed to shimmer, glimmer and glow in the wan light.

He looked up at Tim.

‘Twilight time,’ he said, his hangdog expression never changing.

‘Isn’t it always,’ said Tim.

The old soak nodded and went back to staring at his drink.

Tim briefly turned his gaze outside. The wet pavement reflected Noola’s Saloon’s flickering neon sign. Headlights cut through the heavy rain. He unsteadily shuffled up and leaned on the bar, plonking the sleeve of his jacket in a puddle of spilt lager.

After a while, he caught the eye of the barman , a grumpy-looking bloke with a pock-marked face and inky black quiff. He slowly put down his copy of National Geographic and Tim made the two finger gesture for two pints, making sure his hand was facing the right way.

The antique Wurlitzer Jukebox was playing Mel Torme’s version of ‘Gloomy Sunday’. Tim had always been a big fan of The Velvet Fog but the cacophonous voice of a fat bald bloke in a corduroy jacket boomed over the lush sounds.

‘Well, I’m certainly not a fan of the popcorn trash that the multiplex inflict upon us but at least Christopher Nolan treats Batman with the gravitas he deserves,’ said the bald, fat man.

A tall, twitchy man who was looming over him, almost spat his half pint of Guinness over his Armani shirt.

‘Gravitas!?  It’s about a bloke who dresses up in a rubber bat suit to fight a baddy who dresses up like a clown. It’s not exactly Marcel bloody Proust, is it?’

‘Well some critics would argue that it’s a metaphor for …’

‘Critics! Jeez! Film critics! Have you ever been to the BFI?’

‘Of course. The recent Alain Resnais retrospective was …’

‘The British Film Institute is a very creepy place indeed, my friend. Creepy people, too. And the shite they spout. Like that crap about Dawn of The Dead being a satire of consumerism because the zombies go to a shopping centre. I mean, that’s one gag in the whole film! There’s also a scene where one of them gets decapitated by a helicopter blade. Is it a satire of air traffic control? Eh? I ask you?’

The bald man shuffled in his seat and wiped cappuccino froth from his top lip.

‘Well …’

Father Tim, picked up two pints of Kronenburg from the bar and resisted the temptation to give both of the blokes a slap.

‘Wankers like that are what put me off going out for a drink in the West End these days,’ he said as he put the drinks on the table.

‘The city is riddled with them these days,’ said Gregor. ‘They’re like the clap. Even worse than northerners.’

‘I was in that poncy over-priced sandwich shop before I came here,’ said Tim, unsteadily sitting down. ‘Away in a Manger or whatever it’s called. Anyway, they were playing Nick Drake. ‘Fruit Tree’ to be precise.’

‘I like Nick Drake,’ said Gregor.

‘Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of Nick myself but there were a couple of media wankers in there talking about his mum’s LP’

‘Whose mum?’

‘Nick Drake’s. Some sad bastard has put out a few songs she record in the olden days.’

‘Any good?’

‘Dunno. Never heard it. Anyway, these twats in the sandwich shop started prattling on about how Drake and his mother’s music was ‘quintessentially English’. I mean what the fuck’s that all about? Quintessentially posh sissy boy with a quintessentially stuck-up mother, I’ll give you that. Quintessentially poncy. It’s all that John Betjeman, cricket on the village green, Downtown Abbey, Latin quoting detective cobblers that they punt to the Septics because, well, Yanks are thick. And it has nothing to do with the life of a hairdresser from Wolverhampton or a bingo caller from Hull or the vast majority of English people. You know what I’m saying?’

‘Poshness. Poshnessabounds,’ slurred Gregor, sinking even lower in his seat. ‘This country is crippled by its class system.’

‘Exactly. Switch on the telly and it’s all Sherlock poncy Holmes or Dr poncy Who. This is the bullshit we have to put up with. Oxbridge twots and Oxbridge wannabees.’

‘We need another class war, that is what we need,’ said Gregor. He spilt a splash of lager on his shirt as he slurped it.

‘I blame America for it … well, I blame America for everything …The United States Of America is a cancer. A poisonous virus that has fatally infected its host,’ said Tim, reclining in the leather chair and waggling his outstretched fingers, trying to get the circulation back in them. He checked his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t looking so good.

‘It’s like in those horror films, eh?’ he said. ‘They say you shouldn’t make your home on an Indian burial ground but when you think about it, the whole of the United States is a bleedin Indian burial ground. Think about it.’

Grab COLD LONDON BLUES here, if you’re that way inclined.

Punk Fiction!

cold-london-blues (2)
Cold London Blues

There has been a long and varied tradition of songwriters taking their song titles from books: Venus In Furs – The Velvet Underground, Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush, Lost Weekend – Lloyd Cole, 1984- David Bowie, Absolute Beginners- David Bowie.

And, of course, it goes the other way too.

My book Guns Of Brixton took its title from a song by The Clash and I used Clash songs to frame it. My follow up, Cold London Blues, does the same thing with the songs of Vic Godard and Subway Sect. And A Rainy Night In Soho will do the same with The Pogues.

And it’s no surprise that many Brit Grit writers have taken the same approach, usually using punk and post- punk songs as inspiration.

Here we go 2,3,4:

Mark Timlin published a book called Guns Of Brixton years before I did.Ian Ayris’ April Skies uses the Jesus and Mary Chain, Tony Black’sLondon based short story collection is invariably called London Calling – The Clash again. Ian Rankin recently chose The Associates’ Even Dogs In The Wild.  Nick Quantrill used a Wilco song for the title of The Late Greats, and The Crooked Beat is one of The Clash’s lesser known songs.James Hilton’s debut thriller is Search and Destroy – Iggy and The Stooges, Jim Iron and John Steel’s Glory Boys is taken from a Secret Affair song. Ray Banks used The Stranglers for No More Heroes. Nigel Bird gave us Mr Suit (Wire) and Beat On The Brat (Ramones). Graham Wynd chose The Fall’s Extricate and Steve Suttie gave us the Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads).

And it’s not just punk songs that work as crime fiction titles. Nick Triplow used a Tom Waits song for Frank’s Wild Years and Adrian McKinty has used five of Mr Waits’ ditties, the most recent being Rain Dogs.

gob
Cold London Blues

Sheila Quigley always uses song titles for her books, starting withLindisfarne’s Run For Home, and more recently The Sound Of Silence. Andy Rivers used The Beatles for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Aidan Thorn chose When The Music’s Over (The Doors).

And that’s only this side of the pond. Josh Stallings Young Americans (David Bowie) and K A Laity’s White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane) are just a couple of recent American examples that come to mind.

And there are plenty more, I’m sure.

So, who did I miss? And any suggestions?

(This post first appeared at the All Due Respect blog.)

Why Guns Of Brixton?

gobWhen I decided to write a faux London gangster story, it seemed the sensible thing to take a title from a song by The Clash, that most London of all London bands – even though only one of them was actually born ‘dahn The Smoke.’

And I had plenty of cracking titles to choose from and reject, too – London Calling (been done to death), London’s Burning (reminded me of the naff TV show about firemen), Guns On The Roof ( a silly song about when The Clash were told off for shooting pigeons with an air rifle), Somebody Got Murdered (too obscure), The Last Gang In Town (close, close …) Police & Thieves (Maybe …)

But …

I’ve been to Brixton man, times. When I lived in London, I was more than somewhat partial to visiting the Brixton’s cracking cinema, the Ritzy Picturehouse- which, on screen, was the only place I ever saw any guns. Somehow the title had to be Guns Of Brixton, written and sung by the Clash’s coolest member, bass player Paul Simenon.

Not one of my favourite Clash songs, for sure, but there was something about the scary lyrics – ‘When they kick out your front door /How you gonna come?/With your hands on your head. Or on the trigger of your gun’- and cod reggae feel that seemed to suit a faux London gangster story down to the ground.

So, Guns Of Brixton is out now.

Here’s what they have to say:

“When the simple task of collecting a briefcase from a Northern courier in his London lock-up results in a dead Geordie gangster there’s only one thing that Kenny Rogan can do…dress up in drag and rob a jewellers with Big Jim and hope everything turns out okay!  From the pen of Paul D Brazill comes a whole host of larger-than-life characters, a sharp plot and the kind of humour you wouldn’t let your granny read.”

And here’s what a few of those writer types say:

“Sharp as a stiletto in a back alley, this is a muscular, outstanding London gangster novel told in a cockney accent. Brazill has caught both the feel of London’s underworld and its flavour. Like the offspring of a wild night out between The Stranglers and The Clash this pounds with music, contemporary cultural references and a real feel for the city. Funny, dark, vernacular and savage this novel leads you to a set of punches that would knock out a heavyweight and appropriately they’re not delivered according to the Queensberry rules.”  
-Richard Godwin author of One Lost Summer, Apostle Rising and Mr Glamour.

“Strap yourself in for a violent and funny ride full of thrills, spills and kills. It’s Brazill at his irrepressible best.”
-Nick Quantrill author of Broken Dreams, The Late Greats & Bang, Bang, You’re Dead!

“Charlie Williams meets Pulp Fiction.” 
-Ian Ayris, author of Abide with Me and A Day In The Life Of Jason Dean.

Short, Sharp Interview: Nick Quantrill

thecrookedbeatPDB: What the hell is The Crooked Beat?

On the one hand, it’s my latest Joe Geraghty novel. Geraghty is now a former Private Investigator looking for a new purpose, but when his brother finds himself mixed up with a missing consignment of smuggled cigarettes, it’s time to get back to work. “The Crooked Beat” is also a track on The Clash’s “Sandinista!” album. It pains me to say it, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to track it down…

PDB: The Crooked Beat takes a look at Hull’s underworld history; do you have any interest in writing an ‘historical’ novel?

As it happens, I do. My long-term writing ambition is to produce a Hull-style, Brit Grit multi-generational saga covering the last century. Think “Downton Abbey” with violence and fish. One day…

PDB: The Joe Geraghty novels have a great sense of place. Will you be setting any novels outside Hull?

I’m pondering something for the novel after the one I’m currently working on. I like the idea of a slightly different challenge, but Hull is the city I know best. I think there’s a middle-ground to be found, so I may well have a dabble…

PDB: What unpublished novels are tucked away in the attic? And will you be revisiting them?

I have a police procedural novel tucked away which will never be published. It’s awful, awful stuff. I may well recycle the basic plot idea, but as it stands, I’d rather pretend it never existed.

PDB: Music features in a lot of your writing, are you of a musical bent, as it were?

I wish. I have friends who are, but my skills don’t extend beyond carrying stuff and selling merchandise. Having friends in bands who released their own records and just generally got on with stuff has always been a major influence on me, though.

PDB: What’s on the cards writing wise and non-writing wise?

Writing wise, I’m hard at work on the next novel. It’s a crime novel set in Hull, but this one doesn’t feature Joe Geraghty. We’ll see how it goes. Non-writing wise, probably changing more of my daughter’s nappies…

PDB: Where can people find out more about your writing?

I have a new website. Everything is on there.

 NQ