Travelblog : Ballycastle

I’d managed to book Rathlin for Monday sailing and an overnight, miscalculating that I’d three nights before that was happening. The Backpackers Hostel on the Promenade looked tacky outside but Ann-Marie kept a homely comfortable place that felt like mine. Sophie’s advice about hosteling with private rooms was bang on. (German pyro-eejit, out of sight) Realising I might be exceeding reasonable chips and ice cream cone portions, it was time to move on. I booked a night twenty minutes along the coast, in Ballintoy before Rathlin, and thirty minutes along the coast in Portrush after. Here’s a short story I wrote before leaving….



The outdoor gym is crawling with weans; the age abandoned allocated play park. Besides them, striped shirt hairy man writes, pound-saver bargain book resting on a round grey granite table. So smoothly sculpted from the rock, his fingernails are left with no scratch as they move under the pen. The people saunter. It’s a holiday and he wouldn’t mind some sex. Under 500 words ought to allow him the quickie he desires, but no. He wants time with the reader, the return of communications. He doesn’t know, despite experience, if the book will reach multitudes. He sensually caresses hyper-narrative.

From the park’s edge, Andy looks out over the final green hump. The two ginger boys are still playing, now joined by a man. They’re in matching navy coats, they could be twins. Sand trivia chucks have become a mound, brittle sticks waving battlement’s pains. The man with them doesn’t get involved, merely contemplates, his body stretching light. After a while he walks to the sea and the boys follow him. There’s a log he is sitting at, like a storyteller with the boys on the camel grains at his read. The footprints of book woman are blown across now by a wind, niggling, really niggling we are to see it. It’s barely traced. It’s there, in the vast expanse of the Irish sea. Invisible everywhere, down to the sliding breakers, roars hugging, turning over, to a loopy line shape, curtains drawing on the shore. Man, boy, skimmer stone.

Forty yards and the shore curves to an inlet; lagoon’s edge: eleven children air sail rocks. They’re back and forward but not enough for me to know their stories. A woman eyes me as she walks past. I wonder if she thinks I’m a paedo. Someone needs to do a survey about that psychic terror shit. Her partner looks back as well. Most people are over forty here. There’s no sun in the sky and I notice on the way to telling you it’s warm, that there hasn’t been all day.

A mother with nice books takes a pink kart to the far end of the park. They have a motor fountain, eight jets shooting from the ground, and kiddies scream in the middle. Jogger runs past them. Tribes of pram pushers stroll far. An aunt sits middle on the wall. Little bastard! There was a wasp in my bag, okay? Just when the black and white bounder dog pissed on a seat and the woman twirled like no-one saw. A kid plays nearby, a jack-o-lantern smile, freckles, bush hair in front of big teeth. The wasp might still be circling. Why are we culling badgers when we could slay wasps? Scientist may testify.

The stream of people are less, but it’s not dawning time. They’re behind me, a family of about twenty. The jogger is nowhere to be seen. There’s not a ginger around. I have a remarkable view but time were left to someone else. Passing, I smile.

Going Places: New ADF ComicBook

Reminder that I’ll be out with the Belfast Writers Group on Saturday reading at Falls Road Library at 11am and the Shankill Library at noon as part of the European Heritage Open Days. I’ll be reading one of my favourite shorts, or perhaps the secret project revealed at TitanCon. Others will be reading from The Ghosts in the Glass and Other Stories horror anthology.

01 Cover

03 Content

This is a focking great comic. I’m hoping I can organise printing with the ADF next week for contributors and patrons.

Download link: Going Places [10.4 mb]

Blog with Chicken Comic

UPDATE: I forgot to mention I’ll be doing short story readings at The Shankill Library (11am) and The Falls Library (12pm) with the Belfast Writers Group this coming Saturday. Please invite people along – here’s a Facebook place-setter.

I had a lovely time at TitanCon at the weekend and I’m beginning to feel a bit like Khaleesi gathering an albeit more casual army. After four weeks of hard con promotion I’ve been swearing on a holiday, and using my half-price travel pass to stay at some hostels. Morally, as long as I keep applying for jobs I can live with this.  It’s no skin off my nose, remoteness isn’t a disability to seeking employment where there’s free internet. As soon as I clean up the mess from a few dodgy editors I’ll plan out how this can work. I’ll be at the trip for six or seven weeks, that’s my best intention.

In late November I’ll be attending the Midwinter Comics Retreat, supping wine with comics chums as intended by the Debra Boyask, who I loved to bits, who I miss and has gone on to take her place at the head of the pantheon of tea gods. We’ll be heading out (maybe) to Sturt Farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire from London. While I’m in England I may as well take a few days lapping it up. Get in touch if you want to spare bed me.

One of the effects of running two comics workshops in a row means I’ve a mass of art pages to scan up. An unfunny thing happened on the way to TitanCon in that I lost my bag of art equipment to Translink’s Metro bus. It was recovered this morning, despite explaining to staff the details and urgency early Friday afternoon.  I’ve never heard of anyone recovering stuff from Translink’s lost property so I’m pleased to have got it. We managed to make do extolling the virtues of biro comics and squeezed a 90 minute session to 30 minutes. The theme was jokes. The full collection will be on the TitanCon website in time, meanwhile, here’s my own contribution.