Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Excerpt from “Morrissey” by Morrissey ~~Sing~~

I respond to a card stuck on the wall at Virgin Records, and a paper trail leads me to Billy Duffy, a guitarist who lived with his mother in Wythenshawe. I no longer wanted to watch others do what I felt sure I could do so much better, so I present myself to Billy as ‘a singer’.
Could I now tell reality what to do? Should versus could? Would I continue to take no responsibility for my own life? Is the safe way the only way?
Billy was well turned out and had a voluptuously statuesque girlfriend named Karen Concannon. He was also an impressive guitarist, and he looked at me and listened to me with bemused interest. Inside my head a tape looped and looped itself around and around, and it repeatedly told me that I would not be good enough when the time came. It unfolds, and then it happens, and when it does, it seems like it had always been there … just waiting.
From Wythenshawe, back to Stretford, back to Wythenshawe, on dark nights of self-creation, each slab of construction happened quickly, although Billy and I will never be drunken co-confessors. Billy pulls in some random musicians, and I am there at his urging – suddenly in rehearsal rooms loaded with amps and wires and headphones, and the clock strikes.
Merging forces meet, and I, too deep to be rescued, sing. Against the command of everyone I had ever known, I sing!
My mouth meets the microphone and the tremolo quaver eats the room with acceptable pitch and … I am removed from the lifelong definition of others, and their opinions matter no more. I am singing the truth by myself, which might also be the truth of others … and give me a whole life … let the voice speak up for once and for all …
‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord …’

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Excerpt from “Famous for 15 Minutes” by Ultra Violet ~~Dali~~

He says to me, “Let me draw you. Would you pose for me?” My clothes fall off. I recline in the warm mold of Venus. Dali approaches to rearrange me untamed hair. He gives me a quick kiss on my lips, briefly stinging my cheeks with the pomaded points of his stiff, upturned mustache.
Perched on the very edge of his chair, with one knee to the ground, he devours me with thunderous, fiery glances, and with the precision of a clockmaker – tic, tic, tic – he sketches me. A mirror on the back wall reflects our tableau vivant. He shows me the sketch. I admire the astonishing way, with a few strokes of an ordinary pencil, he has conveyed shadows, reflections of light, and has captured my whole personality. He says, “Born an impressionist, I refused my father’s advice to be taught how to draw.”
He slips to his knees at my side and says, “Jouons à nous toucher les langues. Let’s play tongue touching.” Under his spell, I let him again sting my cheeks as his beautifully curved lips meet mine. His tongue, tasting like jasmine, touches mine, sending me into a zone of bliss where flesh rejoices.
Mon amour,” he says, “bonjour.”

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Excerpt from “Colonel Henri’s Story” by Hugo Bleicher ~~Odette~~

We arrived back there in darkness. I was anxious to have a look at the Hotel de la Poste, where I had eaten lunch on my first visit to St. Jorioz. I sent Kiki ahead of me and told him to ask whether any of the organization were still there, as he brought important news from Paris. Kiki came back to me at once and said that apparently there were still some members of the organisation there. I put a cordon of Italian soldiers round the house immediately and was about to enter with the Italian officer when two men dashed out and into the darkness in headlong flight. It turned out that one of them was the wireless operator Arnaud for whom we had long searched. I did not attempt to follow them, as it seemed to me more important to apprehend the others in the house. I was right to do so. A surprise was in store for us beyond our wildest dreams.

Editor:
It seems to have escaped the notice of Bleicher that the French Chief of Police in Annecy was aware of his movements, and at the risk of his own life sent a warning ahead of Bleicher to the St. Jorioz group. I am informed by Colonel Jacques Adam, Commander of the Jean-Marie resistance group, that this gallant French police officer was arrested, deported and died in Germany.
A second point to me made in regard to this narrative is that neither of the two men who vanished in headlong flight from the Hotel de la Poste was Arnaud, alias Captain A. Rabinovich, whose billet was not in St. Jorioz and who for some time managed to evade capture, having been sent away on the previous day by Captain Churchill.

There were still a few guests in the Hotel de la Poste whom I assembled in the hall of the hotel, together with the hôtelier and his staff. I was just putting the first question to them when down the stairs came a woman, whom I recognised as the energetic Englishwoman who had scolded Louis during my first visit to St. Jorioz.
So this was “Lise”, the renowned Odette! I had managed to find out something about her in the meantime. She played a prominent part in the Secret Service and had done signal services to the Allied war effort by obtaining plans of the dock installations and reconnoitring the port of Marseilles. It had been related to me by agents that Odette was the wife of Peter Churchill, a nephew of the British Prime Minister, and that she worked with him here. The version that he was a close relative of Winston Churchill was spread about to give him greater prestige in the French Resistance, as well as a safeguard if he fell into the hands of the Germans.
Odette was a Frenchwoman by birth, married first to a Frenchman, Sansom, and mother of three children. She received the order of the George Cross from King George VI and was decorated by the President of the French Republic with the Cross of the Legion of Honour. After the war the film “Odette” made her world famous.
I had little idea then what celebrity I was encountering on that night of April 16th, 1943. Wrapped in a dressing gown and personifying calmness itself, she came downstairs as if trouble in the hall was nothing to do with her. She had the intention, I think, of walking straight past us, and I was so taken aback that I only prevented her doing so at the last moment.
Peter Churchill could not be far away, it seemed to me, with Odette here.
I left the others in the guard of the Italians and asked Odette to show me her room. We walked upstairs, accompanied by the Italian officer. Odette showed no sign of distress. She had grasped the situation and was resigned to her fate.
Odette opened the door of her room without a word. I asked her to go ahead. It was a simple bedroom, such as you find in any country hotel. I ceased to watch Odette and looked into the room next door. There in bed lay a young man, perhaps thirty to thirty-five years old, in an elegant pair of pyjamas. He smiled quietly at me as he lay there. The book that he had apparently been reading was posed on the coverlet. He got slowly out of bed and stood before me, an athletic-looking fellow with pleasant features. I asked for his identity card. Without a sign of nervousness, he asked Odette to hand him his jacket, pulled the card out of a pocket and held it out to me. I read the name Pierre Chambrun. I felt that there could no longer be any doubt, and that this was Peter Churchill, known to us also as Pierre Chauvet and more frequently still as “Raoul”.

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Excerpt from “Journeys Out of the Body” by Robert A. Monroe ~~Locale III~~

Locale III, in summary, proved to be a physical-matter world almost identical to our own. The natural environment is the same. There are trees, houses, cities, people, artifacts, and all the appurtenances of a reasonably civilized society. There are homes, families, businesses, and people work for a living. There are roads on which vehicles travel. There are railroads and trains.
Now for the ‘almost.’ At first, the thought was that Locale III was no more than some part of our world unknown to me and those others concerned. It had all the appearances of being so. However, more careful study showed that it can be neither the present nor the past of our physical-matter world.
The scientific development is inconsistent. There are no electrical devices whatsoever. Electricity, electromagnetics, and anything so related are non-existent. No electric lights, telephones, radios, television, or electric power.
No internal combustion, gasoline, or oil were found as power sources. Yet mechanical power is used. Careful examination of one of the locomotives that pulled a string of old-fashioned-looking passenger cars showed it to be driven by a steam engine. The cars appeared to be made of wood, the locomotive of metal, but of a different shape than our now obsolete types. The track gauge was much smaller than our standard track spacing, smaller than our narrow-gauge mountain railways.
I observed the servicing of one of the locomotives in detail. Neither wood nor coal was used as a thermal source to produce steam. Instead, large vatlike containers were carefully slid from under the boiler, detached, and rolled by small cart into a building with massive thick walls. The containers had pipelike protuberances extending from the top.
Men working behind shields performed the removal, casually cautious, and did not relax their automatic vigilance until the containers were safely in the building and the door closed. The contents were ‘hot,’ either through heat or radiation. The actions of the technicians all seemed to indicate the latter.
The streets and roads are different, again principally in size. The ‘lane’ on which vehicles travel is nearly twice as wide as ours. Their version of our automobile is much larger. Even the smallest has a single bench seat that will hold five to six people abreast. The standard unit has only one fixed seat, that of the driver. Others are much like living-room chairs, placed around a compartment that measures some fifteen by twenty feet. Wheels are used, but without inflated tires.
Steering is done by a single horizontal bar. Motive power is contained somewhere in the rear. Their movement is not very fast, at something like fifteen to twenty miles per hour. Traffic is not heavy.
Self-powered vehicles exist in the form of a four-wheeled platform which is steered by the feet acting upon the front wheels. A mechanism pumped by the arms transfers the energy to the rear wheels, much like the children’s “rowing wagons” of some years back. These are used for short distances.
Habits and customs are not like ours. What little has been gleaned implies a historical background with different events, names, places, and dates. Yet, while the stage of man’s evolution (the conscious mind translates the inhabitants as men) seems to be identical, technical and social evolution are not completely the same.

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Excerpt from “Letters of the Great Artists” by Richard Friedenthal ~~Renoir – Charpentier~~

PIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR TO GEORGES CHARPENTIER
1877
My dear friend,
May I ask you if it is within possibility nevertheless, the sum of three hundred francs before the end of the month. If it is possible, I am truly grieved that it may be the last time and that I shall have nothing to write to you any more except commonplace, quite stupid letters, without asking you for anything because you will owe me nothing any longer except respect, that I am older than you, I do not send you my account because I have none.
Now, my dear friend, have the amiability to thank Madame Charpentier warmly on behalf of her most devoted artist and that I shall never forget that if one day I cross the tape that it is to her that I shall owe, for by myself I am certainly not capable of it. I would like to get there, so as to be able the sooner to procure her all my gratitude.

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) spent four years of his youth painting pretty rococo pictures on porcelain, then studied under Gleyre, and achieved some success as a fashionable portrait painter. In 1868 he worked with Monet out of doors and his technique became more Impressionist. Charpentier, the recipient of Monet’s rather similar letter, was a publisher and to a certain extent a patron of art. Renoir’s portrait of Madame Charpentier and her children, painted in 1878, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which paid 50,000 francs for it in his own lifetime. When asked how much he had been paid for it, he replied, ‘Me! Three hundred francs and lunch!’

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Excerpt from “The Naked Island” by Russell Braddon ~~Captured~~

We worked on a “two-man-ahead patrol” system – on the All Clear from them the remaining seven moved up, whereupon the next two took over. Thus we leapfrogged for about two hours. Hugh and I patrolled together: Harry and the first infantryman, called (we now learnt) Herc: the two young sigs: and the sergeant and Sandshoes.
The latter pair were now ahead. We waited for their “All Clear”.
“Pair of no-hopers, they are,” declared Harry acidly, as he lay with his feet resting high up against a rubber tree, “done nothing but bellyache ever since we started.”
There was a moment’s silence whilst everyone thought of the undoubted degree of the no-hopers’ capacity for bellyaching.
“O.K.,” said one of the sigs, “she’s clear up ahead.” We looked up and saw the sergeant waving us forward.
Harry got to his feet and Herc with him. Roy and Rene, the sigs, followed with the officer. Hugh and I brought up the rear. As fast as possible we walked forward to where the two bellyachers waited and then on along their patrolled beat. We had covered perhaps fifty yards of it when we cleared the first small rise in the rubber. The jungle lay cosily by our left hand. We trotted down the far side of the rise. And instantly the air was full of bullets, whilst ahead of us and to our right about fifty yards away, with automatic weapons blazing, were Japanese soldiers. We had walked straight into an ambush. The bellyachers had funked their patrol.
I didn’t wait to see what happened. I was off at once, sprinting wildly, towards that jungle on the left. Beside me, I was aware without seeing him, ran Hugh. Cursing myself for every fool in the world, I thought yearningly of those four beautiful hand grenades now lying uselessly beside a canal the other side of Yong Peng.
“Stop there,” I heard the officer’s clear voice directed at us, “stop and surrender or we’ll all be shot” and my absurd Army training made me falter for a second and look back. I saw Herc already bleeding from a wound in the arm; and Sandshoes and the sergeant lying on the ground; and the officer standing quite still, the sigs looking at him questioningly and Harry in outrage. Just for a second we faltered. As in any race, when one falters, it was then too late. The path to the jungle was cut by a Jap soldier with a tommy gun. We stood still, our only chance lost. Then, very slowly, very foolishly and with a sense of utter unreality, I put up my hands.
At that moment all that occurred to me was that this procedure was completely disgraceful. I have not since then changed my mind. I have no doubt at all that I should have continued running. One does not win battles by standing still and extending the arms upwards in the hope that one’s foes have read the Hague Convention concerning the treatment of Prisoners of War. It was unfortunate that the Army had trained me sufficiently neither to disobey instantly and without hesitation, nor to obey implicitly and without compunction. Accordingly, I had done neither: and I now stood in the recognized pose of one who optimistically seeks mercy from a conqueror whose reputation is for being wholly merciless.
The enemy patrol closed in on us. Black-whiskered men, with smutty eyes and the squat pudding faces of bullies. They snatched off our watches first of all and then belted us with rifle butts because these did not point to the north as they swung them around under the ludicrous impression that they were compasses. They made dirty gestures at the photographs of the womenfolk they took from our wallets. They threw the money in the wallets away, saying, “Dammé, dammé, Englishu Dollars”: and, pointing at the King’s head on the notes, they commented: “Georgey Six number ten. Tojo number one!” And all the time two Tamils stood in the background, murmuring quietly to one another, their hips tight-swathed in dirty check sarongs and their wide-splayed feet drawing restless patterns in the bare soil of the rubber plantation.
“Done a good job, haven’t you, Joe?” demanded Harry savagely but they wouldn’t meet his eye. Just kept on drawing in the dirt with their toes.
Hugh picked up a ten-dollar bill and stuffed it defiantly back in his pockets. Then they tied us up with wire, lashing it round our wrists, which were crossed behind our backs and looped to our throats. They prodded us onto the edge of a drain in the rubber. We sat with our legs in it, while they set their machine guns up facing us and about ten yards away.
“That bloody intelligence officer would have to be right this time of all times, wouldn’t he?” demanded Harry we all knew that he referred to the “Japanese take no prisoners” report, and Herc, bleeding badly, nodded rather wanly.
“We must die bravely,” said the officer desperately at which the sergeant howled for mercy. Howled and pleaded, incredibly craven.
Neither he nor Sandshoes had been hit at all when I had seen them prostrate on the ground, merely frightened. The sergeant continued to bawl lustily. We sat, the nine of us, side by side, on the edge of our ready-dug grave.
The Japanese machine gunner lay down and peered along his barrel. It was my twenty-first birthday and I was not happy.

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Excerpt from “Further Adventures of a New Guinea Resident Magistrate” by Captain C. A. W. Monckton ~~Rain-makers~~

Sorcery among New Guinea natives may be divided into two kinds: the sorcerer practising the first kind belongs to a class of wicked, malevolent assassins, doing evil for the sake of evil; he is prepared to perform his devilry, administer poison, or commit any crime for any person paying him to do so. This class of sorcerer does not pretend to perform anything but black magic, or to work anything but harm; and the shadow of the fear of the brute is over the whole tribal life. Sorcerers practising the second kind are men who make use of a benevolent and kindly magic for good only. These pretend to possess powers of rain-making, wind or fish-bringing, bone-setting, the charming away of sickness, or charming the spot upon which a garden is to be made to render it productive. They understand massage to a certain extent, and are usually highly respected and estimable members of the community to which they belong; and to interfere with this second class in the practice of their arts, would be not only cruelly unjust but decidedly unwise.
Once I had a frantic row with a Missionary Society over a member of the class of rain-makers. This old fellow I knew to be an eminently respectable old gentleman, and famed for many miles as a rain-maker; in fact, I had more than a suspicion that upon occasions my own police had paid for his services in connection with the Station garden. Well, to my amazement, I one day received a complaint from a European missionary, that the old fellow was practising sorcery and levying blackmail. I knew the charge to be all nonsense, and my village constables laughed at it; in fact, they regarded the story in much the same light as a London bobby would a tale to the effect that the Archbishop of Canterbury was running a sly grog shop in Wapping; but missionaries always made such a noise that I had to investigate. I found that there had been a drought in a Mission village, miles away from where the old boy lived, and the natives’ gardens were perishing: the local rain-makers tried their hands, but with no result; the missionary turned on prayers for rain, no result; then the people got desperate, and decided that the services of my estimable friend must be engaged. Accordingly, to the wrath of the missionary, they collected pigs and a varied assortment of New Guinea valuables, and sent them with a deputation to beg him to save their gardens. He accepted the gifts, and oracularly replied to his petitioners, “When the southeast wind stops, the rain will come.” They went off home satisfied; as a matter of fact, the wind had dropped before they got back and the welcome rain set in. Having ascertained the facts, I of course refused to interfere with the rain-maker; whereupon the missionary complained to Headquarters that the R M. was undermining the work of the Mission by encouraging sorcery, and I was called upon for the usual report. I reported that my time was already so fully occupied that I had none to spare in “attending to harmless disputes due to the professional jealousy of rival rain-makers.” The missionary choked with outraged and offended pride at being put on the same plane as a native rain-maker, and Muzzy squeaked about “contemptuous levity” in official correspondence.

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