Romney Marsh Psycho.


Coming soon – a writer’s room with a view – not a garden shed.

I need to start this blog post by volunteering that I’m currently reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

I’m sitting in an upstairs room doing one of the things I do best in life – staring out of the window. I’m awaiting a delivery of building materials for the garden shed I’m going to be constructing over the next couple of weeks. (For tax purposes the ‘garden shed’ will hereinafter be referred to as my writer’s retreat.)

‘Why don’t you just buy one?’ said mum, with that way she has of making everything I announce I’m going to do sound dumb and pointless.’Why give yourself all that extra work and bother when you’ve got enough to be getting on with? My gutters still need clearing out, you know? And there’s all that bird crap over the conservatory roof that someone needs to get up there and clean off. And did I say the handle broke on my cistern, again?’

(Through gritted teeth.) ‘Because, mother, I’m a man with a hammer. Real men like hammering things. Anything. It’s a primitive urge. We like to bash and make a noise and construct and destruct and sometimes, just sometimes, we like to fantasise that the piece of two by four we are smashing six inch nails into is the brittle skull of an elderly relative who is sitting on the kind of inheritance that could make life a good deal more comfortable for a struggling CWAP son.’

Did I mention I’m reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis at the moment?

I’m getting a little anxious. I told them; I said if you don’t deliver early in the day the public car park that he’s going to have to drive his great big lorry through to get to my back passage (?) is going to be crammed with day-trippers’ vehicles. It’s nearly one o’clock and the car park isย crammed with day-trippers’ vehicles. I can’t wait to tell them I told you so. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to steer a medium-sized pram through the idiotically parked motors. What were they thinking? God knows how anyone is going to get a ten tonne lorry down there. Not my problem.

While I’m waiting, I thought I could use the time to begin a blog post. It’s been a little while. But when you’ve got nothing to say it’s often better to say nothing, as granny Tidy used to say. (Usually when I started talking.)

As followers of this blog will know, I’m on an enforced break from writing at the moment. Owing to ever-changing personal circumstances, that doesn’t look like ending anytime soon. Can’t be helped. I’m not crying about it. Lots of other things to be getting on with here and life is often about making pragmatic decisions for the greater good. Prioritising.

While I might not be writing much (I have penned a couple of short stories) I’ve been reading regularly, something that I understand is universally considered to be useful to an author. I may have mentioned that I’m currently reading and thoroughly enjoying American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. It’s bloody and bloody good, actually. I just looked up how old he was when he wrote it – there must be something wrong with my maths because I make him 27. Sad face.

Anyway, on the bright side I think I finally know what I want to write. By that I mean the kind of book I want to write. Really want to write. My literary goal. My holy grail of CWAPmanship. I just don’t know how to write it or what to write about, yet. That makes things… difficult.

I want to write one of those books that gets banned, that gets people up on their back legs because it is considered, in some circles, to be too offensive, too disturbing to be published. The kind of book that has a cult following of supporters that include a number of respected literary critics. Aim high granny Tidy said, especially when she was talking to me. (I was a bit short as a child.) I’m thinking along the lines of Fight Club, A Clockwork Orange, American Psycho. (I haven’t actually been able to get past the first few pages of A Clockwork Orange, but I enjoyed Fight Club and, did I mention, I’m reading American Psycho.) Original is the word I think I’m looking for. Yes, that’s what I aspire to write one day – something original and good and disturbing.

In other news – two Sundays ago I ran in my first, and possibly last, competitive running race as an adult. It only took me a week to get over it physically. I’m still not fully recovered mentally after my bitter lesson in racing etiquette.

If I said, what’s the difference between ‘gun time’ and ‘chip time’ would you know what I was referring to? Neither did I when I got under starter’s orders.

I took part in the Romney Marsh 10k run. And I learned something about running races which I wished someone had told me before I took up my start position at the back of the grid. Yes, the back of the grid. I thought that because I was an absolute novice it would be wise for me to start right at the back of the nearly two hundred strong field. Right at the back. By choice. The last person in fact.

I took part in this race for two reasons. Firstly, because after being a regular runner for quite a while I was really curious to see what kind of time I could manage and how I’d compare with everyone else. Secondly, because I have an idea for a Booker & Cash that involves a running event, so my participation also comes under the heading of research. (And for tax purposes so does my entry fee. Where the hell did I put my receipt?)

Regarding the timing of my personal performance: I had no qualms about starting at the back because all runners were equipped with a chip tied around the laces of one running shoe so that when they crossed the start line the machine beeped and the runner’s ‘chip time’ began. Likewise when the runner crossed the finish line the machine beeped and the ‘chip time’ is stopped. Simple. What I didn’t know was that while the ‘chip time’ might be a personal record for a contestant the only time that matters for the organisers is the ‘gun time’. In other words, when the race starts the race clock starts ticking for everyone, regardless of whether one gets a flyer from the front or one is stuck behind all the ‘runners’ in ridiculous over-sized, over-stuffed novelty outfits, cluttering up the road, people who insist on dawdling along and waving at everyone cheering them on. To be honest, I couldn’t give a flying f**k what f**king charity you’re running for ‘Mr F**king Blobby’ just get out the f**k out of my way.

If only I’d thought to run in a Bob the Builder costume. I’d have had a bona fide excuse to carry a hammer – or two. Maybe a nail gun. I could have got through all the dithering, meandering, shuffling old people and ‘fun runners’ a lot quicker if I’d been slashing left and right with my trusty ball pein and claw hammers. (Did I mention that I’m reading American Psycho? It’s really getting to me.)

The upshot of it all was that it took me twenty-nine seconds to get from the back of the pack to the start line after the race had officially started. Let me say that again: it took almost half-a-flipping minute after the the starter had fired his gun (air horn) for me to actually start the race, by which time all the serious runners had disappeared over the horizon and I was left punching and kicking my way through riduculously unstable cartoon characters shaking empty buckets for change at confused looking specatators. Gun time/chip time. Lesson learned. It was very frustrating and really not the best way to settle my race nerves. I never really found my stride after that.

Of course, the sixty-four-thousand dollar question is, would twenty-nine seconds really have made that much difference? Seeing as I finished last anyway – three minutes eleven seconds behind Mickey and Minnie Mouse running chained together at the anklesย  – probably not. I did think it was a tad rude of the organisers to have packed everything up, including the finishing line, before everyone had completed the course. After all, I had paid the full entry price. Their excuse was it was getting dark. I found that a bit lame.

26 thoughts on “Romney Marsh Psycho.

  1. You made me smile twice, the blog was good and funny and you mentioned Booker and Cash, does this mean that we will soon be seeing B&C 3??

    • Hi David, Thanks for your comment. Good to know the blog is being enjoyed. As for B&C#3… looks like I might be bogged down with real life until mid-October. It was a big mistake not to finish the book before I came to UK. I was/am 70000 words in and I’ve forgotten most of it. I’m going to have to start at the beginning again which is really depressing. And I know that I won’t have that opportunity for at least a couple of months. Like I said, real life is taking its toll on my writing, but there really is little I can do about it.
      Best wishes

  2. Your ‘holy grail of CWAPmanship’ – am I going to go ‘Eew, nasty!’ like I have recently (thought of a better title yet)? I need prior warning of these things. R&M, B&C, even Sansom are all quite nice people. I’m seriously concerned for you, chief! Call me if you feel you need to talk about things. Really. I’m here for you, man…

    • Haha… I have not thought of a better title. Are you quite sure my one is no good? Actually, I’ve had an idea – maybe I’ll give it the acid test – put it to the readers in UKCBC. What do you think? I’m going to email you soon about something writing related. Excited? I didn’t think so. :-))
      Best wishes

      • Always excited about writing related issues. By all means test the water with UKCBC – just float the title, and see how many people would pick the book up and read the blurb! I can think of a few that would – and be totally confused and disappointed about the subject matter… Good story, though. Shame about the title – that no one would understand!

      • All you’re doing is selling the title to me ๐Ÿ™‚ It all fits in with that controversial book I want to write – even the title got people all riled up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. The first pages of Clockwork Orange were difficult, but after I got past those I enjoyed it. You’ve made me want to read American Psycho now (while I’m waiting for more Booker & Cash and Romney & Marsh).

    • I’ll try it again, I’m sure.
      American Psycho is really engaging me. As well as being ghoulishly fascinated by the subject matter he writes really well. Highly recommended. (But I am only 50% in.)

  4. Morning Hope you keep us all updated with your new building project… Don’t forget to take photos of the lorry driving through the cars!! I can only say don’t run the London Marathon then like I did as that is soo cluttered up with silly slow runners but all in a good cause though getting in ones way ha ha… yes that was unfair packing up but did you get anything for crossing the finish line ie: pencil, medal or a goodies bag… Have you read any books by Jeff Menapace, his Bad Games and Hair of the Bitch are rather good… Hey Ho keep writing and have fun… Sherley…

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi Sherley,
      Thanks for your comment. The lorry made it without incident. I had to admire his skill.
      I know my limits – marathons are out, unless we’re talking about the chocolate bars now known as ‘Snickers’ then I’m in.
      Not read any Menapace. I’ll check him out. Thanks for the recommendation. I’m always on the lookout for new, to me, writers to enjoy.
      Best wishes

  5. so. . . did the flat pack studio arrive? If you ordered it from I’d guess not.
    My nephew entered his first big bike race, he said he was so outclassed he was sliding backwards in the peloton until he was all alone … is it the same with running, the slip stream effect?

    • Hi,
      It did…like me in the 10k, better late than never. He got a warmer welcome than I did.
      Fair play to your son for having a go. I hope he’ll see improvement as a challenge. That will bring its own rewards. As for me, I know when to quit. Can’t comment on the slip-stream effect – I was too far adrift to feel a thing. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes

  6. Hi there, ‘Long time, no speak,’ as Tonto said to the Lone Ranger. Am looking forward to seeing the finished ‘writing den’ or ‘lean-to’ as it appears at the moment; good though to have the garden view aspect. Real life can be a pain when you want to get on with your fictional life, but hey-ho, that’s life for you, but it doesn’t stop us constantly reading other authors’ works and ruminating or even cogitating about our next masterpiece. We just keep on going like long-distance runners.

    • Hi Pat,
      Long time indeed. I hope all is well with you and yours.
      I quite enjoy the diy side of life, especially new projects. Next on the list is a tree house. But first I need to plant some trees. My son had a good idea: he said, why don’t you just move the bicycles and lawn mower out of your bedroom into the shed when it’s built and write in there? Out of the mouths of babes… When he’s older I hope he’ll come to appreciate the special place of sheds in a man’s soul.
      All the best.

      • Bon jour Oliver,
        All in fine fettle and looking forward to our holiday in France. We sail from Portsmouth to Caen next Friday, then a short drive to a gite in Brittany. Am killing two birds with one stone as I have some research to do whilst there in the hope my 7th book will be ready for publication by Xmas.
        I personally love DIY and can lose myself when I have a drill or a gun in my hand – staple, that is. Spent the last couple of years totally refurbing our bungalow so this year have had the gardens landscaped so they are easier to maintain. There’s been lots of patio slabs, pebbles, wooden edgings and plants in pots dotted around a garden which surrounds the bungalow. I can now maintain it all by myself if needs must. It looked very nice when we had our first BBQ the other week when we had some Swedish friends staying for a while.
        BTW will your den having heating in it? You’ll need it when sitting looking out over a garden covered in snow. How lovely. Can’t wait to see this carrel of creativity.
        All the best.

      • Hi Pat,
        I’m very envious of your French break. I hope you have a lovely and restful time.
        I’ve always enjoyed being hands on around the home, especially the garden. I laid a small patio today with my little boy helping and then we got the chimnea going and roasted marshmellows. What fun.
        Heating in the shed? I don’t plan on being in the UK while it’s cold ๐Ÿ™‚ Let’s call it my summer writing home. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Have a great time France.

  7. Great post, as always, Oliver. I do admire people who can run, so I doff my cap to you irrespective of whether you finished first or last. So with all this building work going on, are you finding time to read?

    • Hi Andy,
      Cheers, man. Always reading, but the writing is really suffering. A couple of very short shorts and that’s it in, like, three months. The strange thing is I’m not bothered. Not remotely. I know I’ll drop back into it when I get the chance.
      Best wishes.

  8. Hi Oliver. Your blog is always something to look forward to reading each month or so. No pix of your handiwork renovating the interior of your building; will we need to wait for a final unveiling, after the carpet is laid and all else finished? You’re always good for a laugh, too, and I surely chuckled visualizing your running debut. One thing surprised me. I know you’re a novelist, not a politician or even Turkish, but I expected some comments on what things are really like there. Is your family now in England with you? If so, what is the climate for returning to Turkey? I do wish all of you well, and wish to spur you on to publish another Booker and Cash soon; they are still my favorite characters. I am out of Oliver Tidy books to read, so get writing! Dianne

    • Hi Dianne,
      Many thanks for your comment. Good to hear from you.
      It’s always nice to know that the blog is being read and enjoyed.
      The renovation of the upstairs is all finished. At last. Now workng on the garden and smartening up the downstairs. It’s never ending.
      Less said about the running the better. I think I shall stick to solo runs on the beach, humming the theme tune from Chariots of Fire.
      As for ‘real’ news. I gave up on all that a long time ago. It’s all too depressing. I just keep my head down and live in my bubble with my loved ones. Nothing changes.
      I’m itching to get back to some proper writing but with the work I’ve got to do here, it’ll be a couple of months yet.
      Best wishes.

  9. Glad you are in the pink and all is well…what about the Acer book? I am still waiting. Very brave to run the 10k, I would find it difficult to run 10 yards ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck with your man cave…done the foundations yet? Going to read the synopsis on American Psycho now as not much to read at the moment!

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Acer book? Which one? Please advise. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Base of man cave prepared. Concreting tomorrow. Looking forward to getting that finished.
      When I wrote my blog post on American Psycho I was about halfway in to it. It’s certainly got darker and more gruesome and hard to stomach in the second half. I would only recommend this read to a very broadminded reader and certainly not to any female – the subject matter is just too horrible sometimes.
      Best wishes

      • Ah, right. Well, if you’ve read all four then that might be all of them. Not sure yet, whether there will be another Acer. I have several other writing prohjects that I want to have a go at and not enough writing time. If I do write another Acer it will be quite a while in the future, I imagine. Sorry for that. Did you read the Acer short story in Three Short Blasts?

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