Tales From The Ridge

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Le Cinque Terre

The villages perch precariously, just out of reach of the waves, houses of every shape and hue clustering like barnacles on the dark rocks. Yellow, orange, green, blue. They clamber eagerly over each other like chicks in a nest as they compete for air, giving birth to narrow, confused streets, starved of light for most of the day. The sea sucks at the rocks below and the houses huddle closer.

Snowbooks redux

"Dear [Ecks],

Thanks for being so patient with us. It has taken us longer than usual to get back to you (with other submissions passing through more quickly in the meantime) as we have deliberated over your work for a long time. Unfortunately the final decision is negative, after it has been read by a number of readers (who work remotely). Although our readers were enchanted by your writing, we just didn't find that it drew us long enough and kept us captivated the whole way through.

I am sorry to have taken so long in reaching this decision and I do wish you all the best in finding a more suitable publisher for your work.

Thanks again and best wishes


Oh well, back to the drawing board. Or rather the printer and the envelopes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Ecks is off to Italy today for a well-earned rest in Rapallo, near Genova, on the Ligurian coast; normal blogality will be resumed in one week.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Arnold the Anxiety Echidna


I'm Arnold.


The Anxiety Echidna? Ring any bells? Still no? Come on, you must have heard of me. I'm like the Bluebird of Happiness or the Beer Monkey, only my speciality is anxiety, worry, nerves - that kind of thing. I'm the one who makes your fingers wobble, the one who stirs up your guts with a big cold stick. I breed butterflies - you know what I'm saying? Oh sure, I get a lot of stick for it, but someone's got to do it, so why not me? Besides, if it wasn't me it'd just be that beaver who's been hanging round the job centre with his CV dropping oh-so-subtle hints to the girls behind the desks all the time.

Anyway, I'm writing this on behalf of Ecks, who I've incapacitated somewhat these last few days. Thing is, see, he sent a sample of his book off to a little publisher called Snowbooks a little while ago, and they liked it and asked for the whole manuscript. So he sent it off - like I said, a while ago - and he e-mailed them a couple of times to see how it was going, and in his last response from them - last Monday - they said "Sorry about the delay, it's still with one of our readers, but we'll get a decision to you at the end of this week or the beginning of next."

I got the call on Thursday night, and I got to Ecks' house by Friday.

Well, it's Wednesday and here we are, still with no word from the publisher, and Ecks is feeling it a bit. OK, maybe I was a little vigorous with the old ice cubes in the belly, but, hey, I love my job, what can I say? He just wants to know the decision, one way or another, but he's stupid enough to be holding out hope that maybe...maybe...the answer will be...yes.

Me, I don't care. In fact, the later they leave it the more work I get! So here's to delays, indecision and uncertainty.


Friday, March 11, 2005

The Piper-Man and Me

My entry for Fifty Words:

Well, since'n you ask, my love, I was borned a long time ago, when time slip-slided by slower and the earth was still warm like a treedog's belly. Well I weren't born as you'm was, no, more played to life I was, by the great tall piper-man who run 'long the sky in the gap between night and day. You keep him in mind, love, and don't lose mind it was him, yea, who make these rocks we'm set on, and it was him't starty the long, long fatfish river twisting down to the sea.

First thing of all things I ever remember was the music, from the piper-man's pipes, yea, so sweet and warm, and the second thing of all things I remember was seeing him with my new eyes running along the sky, and he looky-look down on me and he wink, but all the time he keep playing them pipes, pulling up hills from the ground, and sowing gum trees and digging glass-shiny lakes.

But before I got here, love, there weren't no other body around, no, and even when I get here this place was hollow-empty, just me and the crocodiles. I still seed the piper-man run flighty past ev'ry evening making more and more things 'cause the world was still newborn, but never once did he make me no companions, no, and so I get frighty cold in my bones for my lonely. But eventually ol' piper-man - good, great piper-man! - seed my weepy and blow his pipes 'til an apple fall off the tree, and by the time it land bump on the ground it was come't a woman, yea, and then I smile from my head to my belly.

You came soon after, love, stretchy your mama's belly out like a watermelon, and when you came jumbling into the world all squealy and grabby the piper-man never come after, not never again, for he seed that the world is done.

So that's the tell of how I came to be and how I meet your ol' mama and how you'm was borned, love, so don't you bellyache about your mama and papa, 'cause some of us never had none, no.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


"Were coming for you" was all that the note said. He hadn't seen who had delivered it, but it didn't matter. It had probably just been shoved through the letterbox by some kid anyway, the note in one sweaty palm, a crisp five in the other.

It wasn't a warning, it was an announcement, and serenity breezed over him more than any other feeling when he read it. He was relieved that the waiting was finally over, that at last, one way or another, this unbearable situation would be resolved.

He thought about whether he should go for the gun in the drawer. He thought about whether his son would find the letter he'd written. He thought about the fact that the cat would need feeding. His thoughts waxed and waned until only the most banal remained in his mind and, as the front door caved inwards in an explosion of splinters, all he could think about was that missing apostrophe.

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Monday, March 07, 2005

Small gods

I never get any thanks. I used to, back when people used to wear animal skins and horns on their heads and they knew that every forest, every pool, every hill had its own god, but these days - nothing. It's the big guys that get all the limelight - you know the ones I'm talking about - but they're the ones who do the least.

Now me, I actually touch people's lives. I'm the one who keeps this river flowing, so that the crops get water and the wheel on the mill turns and the fish can breed and the silt gets carried down to the sea. Now, before you say anything I know it's just a small river, but to the farms and villages that sit on its banks it's the whole world.

We're still here, we small gods. All of us. It doesn't matter that no-one believes in us any more, we're still the ones who bring those daffodils in springtime and keep that forest from dying and chase the salmon upstream to mate. And we always will. Just you remember that.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Blue sand

One morning the man left. He'd had enough of his noisy, buzzing world, so he decided to go away and leave it all behind. He left the house and began to walk along the sun-baked asphalt, with no particular destination held in mind. Just walking with the lizards. It was a warm morning, and milky sweat pooled in his eyes. He walked all morning. He walked right through midday and out into the afternoon, ignoring the sun as it glowered at him from above. He walked past evening until the moon nudged the sun out of the sky and the road became sand, and then, finally, he stopped. The air was chilly and the sand at his feet was blue. He said to himself "At last, a place without wires or concrete," and he laid down on his back, smiled up at the stars and melted away into the landscape.