Saturday 24 November 2012

Kingsway (working title)

In a break from the usual bile and in the interests of a little light relief, I thought I'd post up an extract from the novel I'm supposed to be working on. You don't have to like it, but if you do a comment would be lovely, ta! Here goes nothing!

Chapter 4

Pete had always been a bit of a rascal. Well, ‘rascal’ was too kind; he was a frigging nightmare. He used to steal from the kids at school, then from his parents and then, when he’d been kicked out of both of those institutions, he’d steal from casual acquaintances and passers by in the form of begging, bag-theft and burglary to feed an escalating drug habit.

Still in his thirties, Pete nevertheless looked more like a middle-aged roadie, his attire that of a twenty year-old, his face approaching fifty. Most days Pete was clean though, in both senses of the word. He rarely used these days and if he did it was usually only a smoke or the odd pill. Injecting was firmly in his past and he often went days at a time without even touching a drop of drink. Today wasn't one of those days though and he strode to the bar in the Kingsway Arms.

“All right Miles” he greeted the barman, “pint of Stella, please?”
“You sure?” said Miles; Pete usually came in for a lime and soda in the afternoon.
“Yeah” confirmed Pete, “It’s me birthday!”
“Dare I ask?” Miles expected a number but not this one.
“Fifty-five” said Pete, with a grin, then “Yeah, yeah, I know… don’t look a day over forty-five. I’ll settle for forty-five.”
“So, congratulations and what else is new?”
“I’m moving out of the squat.”
“Yeah?” Miles was curious as to how this had come about.
“Yeah, I got me act together and the social’s sorted me out some dosh. I’ve got me own flat.”
“Fucking hell!”
“Yeah, I know! Me wiv me own gaff!”

This wasn't really helping. Here he was, Miles, with a half-decent income,  for a doss-around type, and he had to make do with sleeping on his sister’s couch while druggie dropout Pete was helping himself to the state’s largesse.

“When I say ‘flat’, I really means bedsit, is what I mean,” interrupted Pete. 

Miles felt better, then immediately felt mean. Why couldn't he just feel happy for Pete without automatically feeling resentful of his good fortune? Might have to work on that one, he thought. Maybe he could blog about it?

“Still though,” said Miles, “your own crib, man!” he grinned as he poured the beer.

Miles and Pete had become quite good friends considering their only normal contact was over this bar, but he was always interested in Pete’s theories. Pete had a theory about almost everything.

“So, c’mon then Pete. Tell us. I can see you’re dying to.” 

Three pints down and Pete was getting agitated. He could summon up a thesis at the drop of a hat but this time he appeared to have given it some real thought.

“You know them police cameras everywhere?”
“Course. The cameras that are there for our safety and well-being!” Miles repeated the words of a local Councillor defending the peppering of every public space with surveillance equipment.
“Yep. Them’s the ones, " said Pete and then lowered his voice in the best traditions of Hollywood movie trailers, "They, my son, are only the tip of the iceberg.” He tapped his nose and indicated that another pint would go a long way to ease the telling of the tale.

Pete went off into a reverie about the visible cameras being more or less decoys, with the real technology being disguised into everyday objects. It had some merit. “See, while you’re worried about being caught by the camera up a pole, you’re secretly being recorded, being worried, by the camera at eye level, hidden in a screw head or a road sign. They've got retinal scanners and facial recognition built in and they can triangulate your position to a few millimetres.”

Miles stopped him. “Whoa whoa there boy, why would they need to pinpoint your position?”
Pete grinned, “To coordinate the sniper systems.”
“Oh, fuck off Pete!” grinned Miles, “that was last month’s theory”
“No mate,” Pete was deadly serious, “Last month I told you about the police snipers with shoot-to-kill commands. This is more sinister.”
“I thought the police snipers were pretty sinister.”
“No. This is worse.” Pete was on a roll now. “See, what happens is this. You get in trouble enough times for petty stuff the CPS won’t touch, but you’re still a blight on society, right?”
“Right,” agreed Miles.
“So, your personal details are fed into the computers and all that has to happen then is you get identified, automatically, like, by these new cameras and if you’re in range of a fixed unmanned sniper station and there’s nobody likely to get caught in the cross fire…”

Pete did a mime, which involved the raising and aiming of an imaginary rifle. “Click.”
“Click? Just like that?”
“Click. Just like that.”
“You’re fucking mental, Pete” opined Miles.

But did he have a point? There were certainly more unsolved shootings these days. Always petty criminals and always those who had gone unpunished by the authorities. Everybody assumed it was some form of vigilantism and that this was their past sins being visited upon them by the victims. It was easy enough to get hold of a gun as well. Since the scummy council estates had been, to all intents and purposes, converted into open prisons it was certain that much home-grown crime was concentrated within those walls and it was equally certain that the police were not remotely concerned with what went on inside, so long as it stayed inside.

Mile shook his head and laughed as he towelled a glass dry and shiny. He’d almost fallen for one of Pete’s demented ravings. What a joke. His phone rang and he took the opportunity to make his escape from Pete's nightmare world, still laughing.


There you go then. Is Pete right? Why would Miles blog about it and what might the consequences of that be?  Police ignoring crime and shooting to kill? Wanna read more? Let me know: comments below...


  1. It'd probably make a good script for a TV programme.

  2. Have you read a novel c 1986? called The Last Election by .... someone called Pete Davies? I've a copy somewhere. Can lend you. I like this. I'm assuming the 'increase in shootings' thing comes up elsewhere earlier etc. I read Miles blogging later as a contemporary detail - you know, funny rather than anything else.

    1. I haven't read it, but I have tracked it down on Amazon. Dystopia wasn't where I was going, although there is an element of that in the set up. Thank you!