Saturday, March 7, 2009


I have been stricken recently with a virus. This involves laying around on sofas feeling sorry for myself and watching TV until my brain started to trickle out of my ears. In these situations one's mind drifts and, maybe it was the fever, mine drifted in a strange direction. I had this vision of an alternative London that captivated me. I soon had two characters, children, a brother and sister existing on the fringes of society scraping an existence as mudlarks - Thames slumdogs if you like. There really were mudlarks, scouring the Thames mud at low tide. I considered where poverty and desperation might drive them and the possible consequences of their actions. That gave me a plot.

I have not written a word of this short story yet, I am deep into a novel and other commitments, but I will write it. Short stories are uncommercial these days; I suppose TV programmes have replaced them. I will probably never be able to sell it so why bother to go to all the effort to write. The answer is because I need to tell stories. I can't help myself. Anything I can sell is a bonus but money is not my prime motivation. If you want to make money then get a job. If you wan't to write then write.

This short story going around in my head draws on London's past - again. In England, history sits under the modern world like the submerged part of an iceberg. Spring is now well under way in England. The days are lengthening fast and new life shoots up around ancient buildings. Enclosed are a couple of photos I took last week. They show students playing frisbee on the lawns of Royal Holloway College, London university and the gardens at Chilham Castle.

Hope you like them.



Rowena Cory Daniells said...

I came across the term 'mudlarks' when I read the history of London. We don't have places with this kind of history in Australia. If a building is 200 years old, it is really old.

And Spec Fic must be one of the few genres where there are still markets for short stories. It is short stories that most often form the basis for films. A film only contains about as much plot as your average short story.

Ori Pomerantz said...

John: In England, history sits under the modern world like the submerged part of an iceberg.

Ori: That's a healthy place for it. I grew up in the Middle East, where history seems to sit on top of the modern world, preventing it from going anywhere.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Good point, Ori.

John Lambshead said...

Dear Ori

I know what you mean. There is a balance between respecting your past and letting it dominate your future.

Ireland is another place that just will not let old hatreds die - you may have heard that a new generation of terrorists have started up the killing again with more murders last night.

The Middle East has reached the clan warfare stage of what we call tit-for-tat killings. Each new outrage is justified by past outrages.

The historical North European Protestant ideal of forgiving your enemies after the issue is decided is a matter of self interest as much as morality. For example, the generous American aid to their old German enemy in the 50s was to America's long term strategic advantage.

Sorry, I will get off my soapbox now.


Ori Pomerantz said...

I read about it. Politics tends to become more vicious when the economy turns sour. I hope they'll find these criminals soon and their throw away the key, or throw dirt on their graves.

BTW, before it was a North European ideal is was a Roman one. Rome was usually forgiving to defeated enemies - unless they really crossed the line, as my ancestors did.