Thursday 10 December 2015

Day 10: Brown Christmas by Paul Bradley

The idea for my story came from consideration of the sense of loss and regret that many people addicted to drugs like heroin must feel, maybe particularly at Christmas time as they may in many cases have lost contact with family.

My normal style of writing is social realism. It has to have been at least possible for me to write something. With exceptions, I do not generally write fantasy/supernatural.

I have had stories in various small presses. This year a child's story has been published in Strange Tales V by Tartarus Press.

I do not have a writing routine due to work commitments. I do not like to snatch time, I like to have plenty of time in front of me. I only write 2-3 stories a year because I write slowly and rewrite a lot.

I write in my bedroom on  my computer. However, I use pencil and pen to rewrite sentences and do this in part to keep in spirit with writers of days gone by.

Something quirky-I like to read the Rupert Bear annual at Chritmas time, Christmas night particularly. Why? Money and time are not constricting issues on Rupert's life, he enjoys his adventures and the world of Nutwood is kind of Utopian. This contradicts my writing and interest in social realism but occasionally I like to suspend my outlook and dream a little bit of a perfect world.

An extract from Brown Christmas 

It’s Christmas day. I’m twenty-two and sat here in my bedsit by the sea.
    It’s the kind of place local councillors are always bleating about in the local press. Houses of multiple occupation that attract ex-convicts, the unemployed and drug users. Apparently, ruthless buy to let landlords encourage some of them here by advertising dole by the sea in regional papers across the country. I’m an unemployed drug user. Heroin. Wrapped up in my little ‘opiate cocoon’ as the drug books say. I’ve got enough gear to last a week plus some to sell and I’ve stocked up with instant food too. Biscuits, crisps, tins of ravioli, instant mash, flapjacks. Not that I eat much anyway. If I need anything I can steal it. Nothing to worry about until New Year. I can just use, listen to music and take it easy like the bedsit zombie I am.
There’s no one to bother me. Even the benefit office will keep off my back for a while about all those missed appointments and failure to attend interviews. My parents live across the country and they don’t talk to me. Last year I broke into their nice semi to steal some money and jewellery but got caught by Dad who was quietly wielding a golf club over my head whilst I rifled through his and Mum’s wardrobe. Dad rang the cops and we waited silently for them to arrive. I knew Dad better than to start sobbing and pleading. That would make me even more detestable in his eyes. He’s ex-military. Charges were dropped eventually; my mum probably had something to do with that. No need to worry about seeing the family. They can keep their Quality Street, Marks and Spencer’s deep filled mince pies and crappy James Bond repeats. The queen can stick her speech where the sun doesn’t shine. None of it matters to me. Just gear and the rush that comes with a spiked vein. That’s all.
Or so I thought. Last night, I actually started to let a few emotions back in. Wandering back home through town rekindled old feelings from the past at this time of year. I actually took notice of the decorations: neon snowmen, Santa and holly in shop windows or strung along electric wires high above the streets, church bells ringing loud, the big Christmas tree and its lights in the town square, groups of town folk earnestly singing carols around it. Everyone wrapped up in hats, gloves and scarves. One part of me liked all that and another thought it twee. This town by the sea is much bigger than the village I grew up in with my sister and parents but it reminded me of that place last night.
Another thing happened on the way back to mine. I noticed the latest Rupert Bear annual prominently displayed in the local bookstore window. The eternally young bear looked as eager and happy as ever with his plain red jumper, yellow chequered scarf and matching trousers. I stood there for ten icy minutes gawping at that book. Forced myself to remember, to look back and recall a time when reading all those magical stories made Christmas that extra bit special. Every year I’d get two Rupert Bear annuals. One would be the latest and the other would be an old one tracked down by Dad. I thought about my parents and how they used to tell everyone about my love for Rupert. How they would catch me under the covers late on Christmas night with a torch reading about his adventures. I used to imagine I was really with Rupert and his pals in Nutwood. Rupert’s deep sea adventure when he met King Neptune was my favourite. What a world to escape to.

About the author:

The author lives and works in North Wales. He enjoys a number of hobbies including hill walking, swimming, reading and writing. As regards writing, the author tends to enjoy social realism with writers such as Raymond Carver and Richard Yates being a couple of favourites. A number of short stories have been published in the small presses and a children’s story has recently been published in an anthology called Strange Tales V by Tartarus Press. The author has a son called Oliver who is currently studying at Cardiff University. All his written work is dedicated to him.



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