I love prawns, slimy little curly wurlys with their souless coal eye pocks and knobbly white innards that put up a meek, juddery janky resistance when biten into. I must’ve eaten scores of them over the years, in curries or stir-fry or sandwiches. I’ve pushed it too far though, yesterday I had a thai prawn sandwich, and have felt ill ever since.
I’ve spent the last 19 hours in bed, the illness being the main reason, but closely followed by a maddening descent into despair over my masticatory future with the humble prawn. Is this it for us? I don’t know if I can face a life without shellfish.
To distract myself I’ve been thinking of my pal Simon S Misra and how we used to laugh and joke about prawns together. I’m not even pissing you here, we really did, but I can’t remember any of the jokes since we were probably drunk. I’m going to post an old story I wrote about our time together and hopefully it will illustrate to you the wonderful, gentle, ruddy funny nature of Mr Misra and take us all away from thinking about sickness and prawns..
I get on my bike and free cycle down the hill through Paletine and then onto the dual carridgeway into city centre where I always go past this bit which is blocked off to cars but bikes can go down and on a sunny day you’d swear you were in L.A, or at least the parts of L.A which you see in movies or sitcom stock footage seques with its spagetti junctions and billboards and the like, and for one very brief instant you could forget where you really were.
Today though, its raining again, the drops feel like tiny barbs on my gloveless hands, my knuckles tiny white lslands surrounded by a sea of angry red and frosted pink. I pop one hand, Napoleon like, into my coat making a mental note not to do this when cylcing through the estate in Hulme as i’m liable to make some poor soul thnk they’re about to get shot.
There’s no rush on to meet Leonard, he already texted before leaving that he was going to be late so I take my time, peddling slow and sloshing through dishwater puddles.
Eventually buildings hove their way into view through the thick grey grease fog and suddenly i’m at the bar without even really thinking about where I was headed.
Pulling at the wisps of his thick black beard, giving his best faux mournful look to the outside world, Leonard is sat at the bar nursing a barely touched pint, although to be honest it’s likely to be his second.
I slosh my way over and he turns to look for the source of the squeaking sound my trainers are making on the pockmarked marble floor.
“Hot date with poseidon?” he heckles as I near, great white teeth snaking out between the strands of Wile. e. Coyote beard.
“I may not look it but I’m gasping for a drink” then getting the attention of the barmaid I order a matching pint.
Leonard puffs his cheeks together and pops his eyes wide following the girl the length of the bar till she starts pouring the Stella. He slowly turns his pufferfish gaze back onto me and then exhales a cool jet of air in my face. He must fancy her.
“I’ve been trying to make moves with her for a while now. Shes quite fit.”
I’ve seen her about here before too and when you look at her properly, she is beautiful, her hair is dyed deep cherry red, pulled proudly back revealing very charming sticky out ears and perfectly khoaled eyes. You have to catch her when she’s scowling though or else the effect of placing your hopes and desires upon her isn’t quite so devastating.
“I tried to do the same a few weeks back’ I say, turning my gaze back to Leonard finding him still tugging on his hair. “I couldn’t think of anything else so I just talked to her about the flowers”
Looking unimpressed Leonard pointed to the now empty blue vases set amongst the debris of the bar which usually contained a fresh bouquet. I nodded ruefully as his face lit up with his galactic smile. As the barmaid did another lap he quickly caught her attention;
“”Scuse us, me and my mate were wondering, whatever happened to them flowers from the other week then?”
Simon has his own new blog here
“Do you remember Duck Hunt?” he says with a half cut smile splitting across his face.
“What did you just call me?” I retort and watch his face drop for a beat and then recover into a broad beam as the joke clicks. Behind him, through the car window, a streaky blackness is punctured by streams of lucozade orange light as the taxi speeds through suburbia, heading into the city.
I try to grip onto this moment, feel alive at this particular second, find value in it somewhere.
He bobs out the taxi ahead of me, arms aloft pushing through the gathered swaggering mass, his hands reach out and knit into another pair in the crowd, their fingers bleeding together. When I reach him, he introduces me to a small fair haired girl, called beccy or betty maybe. He speaks mainly, and as he talks his hands swim around in the air, opening and closing like puppets in a punch and judy show. The girl laughs and brushes her hair from her eyes, smokes her cigarette down to the quick before throwing it to the ground.
Before she moves inside, he places a hand on her shoulder and looks into her eyes intently, and says something into her ear that I don’t catch. I yawn and try and look elsewhere, in the distance I can see the outline of the mountains, the city lights making them hum with a deep murky purple hue. At that moment I feel like I want to escape there, hide away and live secretly.
I take a step out into the street, away from the crowd. A hand snakes out and grips my shoulder, lips appearing suddenly next to my ear, spitting frantically;
“Lets go in. Shit, can you remember that girls name? Begins with a ‘b’”
I shake my head and frown, give one last look to the midnight mountains before following him, sluicing through the crowd once more and down the cavernous stairs to the bar.
Quick update just to show the 400 Facts video promo which contains little snippets of the comic for your delectation.
More stories to come later in the week.
400 Facts is a new comic written and illustrated completely independently (ie. no money) by myself based on a story and characters that I’ve been working on for a while. The first issue concerns itself with set up of the central tenants of the comic, literally and figuratively, we’re introduced to Eleanor, Adeline, Pru and Del who all come to reside at 400 Factory Lane - the crumbling microcosm where the story is set.
It’s been a real learning experience trying to multitask the writing and illustration, at times it was overwhelmingly challenging, but when I finished up the other week I was really looking forward to starting part two and pleased with what part one has set up as a springboard.
I’ll be updating the blog regularly with alot of interesting stuff I’ve got planned so stick close buddy. For now, why not have a look at some samples of 400 Facts Issue #1 below and if you like how it looks you can support me in these endeavours by buying a copy via the link on the right hand side of the page here or by going to the online publisher direct at lulu.com.