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Damien, Jaack and Verity…

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It’s always nice when someone leaves a comment about the blog, nicer still when I get feedback from artists and performers that I’ve featured on it and nicest of all when I get to interact in some small way with those writers and creative types more successful than myself.
That vicarious thrill of knowing that, no matter how minor, my little corner of the internet has had an impact on the work of somebody whose work I admire, whether it’s plugging a local band I’ve seen or helping promote a world famous artist.

Ok, that second example might not be the sort of thing I get to do very often, (oh alright, “never” would be more accurate, if you want to be picky) until today, that is.

A couple of years ago I wrote this post on outdoor sculpture, which featured the spectacular Verity statue on Ilfracombe harbour, a commission by the original enfant terrible of the British modern art world, Damien Hirst.

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Verity looks out to sea in North Devon.

Up close, Verity is incredibly imposing, towering over the small harbour like a watchful colossus protecting her homeland from invaders and, despite her half-flayed naked figure, she has a savage beauty that takes your breath away.

Well imagine my delight last week, when I received an e-mail from a very polite gentleman called Theo who works for a company called Artsy, (they showcase and promote the work of various artists on their very slick website) saying that he’d seen my sculpture post and asking if I would be prepared to provide a link to their Damien Hirst page.

Obviously I was very flattered that he would consider Diary of an Internet Nobody worthy of such a request and told him that I would be glad to be involved in whatever way I could.
After all many of you, my lovely readers, are from far flung parts of the globe and you may not have yet been exposed to Hirst’s often beautiful, sometimes controversial, but always intriguing catalogue of art works.

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So please take the time to check out THIS LINK and discover for yourself what makes Damien Hirst one of the most talked about artists of recent years.

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Which brings me to the second person that I’d like to draw your attention to today, someone who, if there’s any justice in the world of comedy, will soon be a big name, not just on YouTube, where his channel has over 150,000 subscribers, but on TV and the live comedy circuit.

Jack Dean is a self-styled “YouTube personality with little personality” whose channel is called JaackMaate and who tackles everything from the curse of terrible, formulaic pop music and teen magazines to racism and celebrity interviews.

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Now, I’ve never really been a fan of what I suppose you could loosely describe as “lad humour”, although the way Jack does it, with his immensely likeable personality, (he’s too modest, he has charisma by the bucketload) snappy editing and liberal worldview, it makes even the most ranty of his posts very funny indeed.
Admittedly, you may need to brace yourselves for a fair bit of colourful language and adult humour, but even so, JaackMaate comes across as one of those rare people; somebody who everyone wants to be friends with (unless of course, you are one of the unfortunates who have incurred his comedy wrath) and I’d like to share with you one of my favourites of his recent YouTube videos.

This is “Dirty Questions With My Girlfriend”:

If you liked that and want to see more of Jack’s material, GO HERE TO CHECK OUT HIS YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

And that’s about it for this post.

Coming up: I’m lucky enough to have been nominated for another award, this time by the lovely Linda G Hill, so next time I shall be going back to (very nearly) the beginning of my blogging adventure.

Stay tuned…

 

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The Path less travelled…

So, I’ve just joined this Path thingy, anybody care to join me, I’m led to believe it’s the Next Big Thing?

If you are frustrated with Facebook, think Twitter’s for twits and haven’t tumbled for tumblr, why not try this new social networking site.
No spam, no ads (allegedly), multiple platform sharing options and the ability to restrict your interaction with only those you choose to communicate with, it seems a bit too good to be true but also appears to do exactly what it says on the box.

So if you fancy being able to communicate directly and discreetly with yours truly and not get absorbed by the huge amorphous giant that is social media, come for a stroll.
Some of you may even have had invites from me already.

Fire Path, walk with me.

View on Path

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Blogging, social networking

 

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One liner Wednesday: First drafts…

“Frankly my dear, I couldn’t give a fu…”

“CUT!”

– Gone with the wind.

#1lineWed

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 2…

Time to trawl the tapes once more and play you some retro tunes from my misspent musical youth.

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Today’s selection from the nostalgic boom box is made up of a magazine freebie, another tailor-made mixtape (with bonus anecdote) and a chil-out classic, so let’s get on with the music.

Q Magazine has been my favourite monthly music publication, ever since I bought issue 11 (featuring cover stars Morrissey and Roger Waters) many, many years ago. 
One of the cool things about it was that there would often be free cassettes on the cover (and later, CDs) many of which were loosely themed.
The thread that runs through Livin’ in the ’80s is a pretty straightforward one, compared to some of the more obscure and tenuous collections they managed to crowbar together and it contains some bona fide pop masterpieces.

First up are a pair of electro-pop classics, starting with the Human League and this single from the groundbreaking “Dare” album: Love Action (I believe in love)

…followed by the 80’s most whistleable tune about nuclear devastation, OMD and their peon to the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Enola Gay

Side two mixes it up a bit, starting with this raucous stomp from Killing Joke, the anthem of the decade, Eighties

…and continuing in a gentler vein with Culture Club and a tune I’ll dedicate to my wife, Rhonda, who apparently strutted her stuff to this at every ’80s disco; here’s Time (Clock of the heart)

The second of today’s tapes is a compilation that was made for me by a friend in Sussex in the early ’90s, from just a tiny fraction of his enormous record collection.

He went by the nickname “Tufty” at the time and he was, like me, a massive fan of the late, great John Peel, a fact which resulted in him suffering a highly amusing and rather public embarrassment in our local pub, The Wheatsheaf in Crowborough, (where he worked as a barman) which I’m guessing he would rather forget.

However, I haven’t forgotten and I’d like to share it with you now.

John Peel had a brother.
This isn’t an especially interesting piece of information, except when coupled with the fact that this brother lived opposite the aforementioned pub and was one of the regulars.

One day, Francis, for that was his name, came into the bottom bar of the pub with a visitor in tow (it’s an old, split level building, with the public bar at the top and a sunken lounge on the opposite side of the central serving area) and this visitor looked uncannily like our musical saviour himself, complete with trademark beard.
Plus, he was with Francis, who else could it be?

Sitting in the top of the pub, looking down into the lounge, those of us who cared about such things instantly began discussing whether this was in fact the champion of all things musically cool and if so, would etiquette, coolness and/or star-struck hero-worship permit anyone to approach the great man for a few pearls of his no doubt affable wisdom?

No such procrastination for Tufty however, who immediately went into paroxsysms of delight that such a member of radio royalty would grace the bar with his saintly presence.
He immediately informed us that he was going to introduce himself to John, offer to buy him a drink and attempt to engage the great man in conversation.

The rest of us watched with a mixture of interest, envy and amusement as Tufty, never knowingly short of words, shyly sidled up to Francis and his companion and waited for his chance.

At the earliest opportunity that decency would allow, he politely interrupted, pint in hand, and spoke thusly to the illustrious visitor:

“John, I’d just like to say that I’m a huge fan and it would be an honour if you would allow me to buy you a drink.”

…at which point, the object of his adoration turned to him with a puzzled smile and said;

“Well that’s very kind of you, I’m afraid I’m Francis’ other brother. but thank you for the drink.”

Needless to say, it took a while for my impulsive friend to live that down, but he does compile a very fine mixtape, so let’s get back to the music.

I’m going to pick four from Tufty’s compilation too, simply because it’s got a fantastic range of songs on it and I couldn’t narrow it down any further.

An unexplainably underrated British band from the ’90s, Kitchens of Distinction never got the recognition or hits that they deserved, so to redress the balance in some small way, here is their third single, The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule

…along with a song you may know, but a version you may not have heard, this is Trisha‘s cover of Tracy Chapman‘s track, She’s Got Her Ticket.

But I’ll end tape with a pair of cheerful chunks of ’90s guitar pop the first of which is Lancashire’s Milltown Brothers, with 1991’s Which Way Should I Jump?

…and the second is the sublimely jangly Heavenly Pop Hit from New Zealand’s Martin Phillipps and his revolving musical project, The Chills.

Which brings us to the final entry in this chapter of my magnetically memorized musical marathon, tape 3 is a bit of a departure from the rest but just as great in its own way for all that.

So here, in its chilled-out, cosmic entirety, is The Orb and the epic Orbvs Terrarvm

Stay tuned for more archive dredging in the not too distant future, may your spools stay loose and your tape never crumple.

Until next time…

 

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: The Visitor…

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Yes alright, I know I’m late posting again, but I never seem to get time on Saturdays.

Anyway, here’s my latest offering to Linda G Hill‘s regular Stream of Consciousness Saturday Sunday feature. (Here are the rules)
This week’s prompt was as follows:

” “vis.”  Use a word, or tie your post’s theme around a word, that contains the letters VIS, in that order.”

So, are you sitting comfortably…?
Then we shall begin.

The Visitor.

“All I’m saying is, I’m advising against it. It could irretrievably damage his vision and we don’t want there to be any reduction in his visual acuity unless we can help it,” the voice was pompous, defiant almost, “and I’m certainly not risking all that for the sake of some… visitor,” the word was practically spat out, “no matter how bloody important he is.”

“There’s no need for that tone, Doctor,” the second voice was sharp, condescending, “we aren’t asking you to do anything that will endanger the program, just a short demonstration will suffice.”

“But you don’t understand!” the doctor raised his voice in irritation, “Any stress placed on his visual cortex is going to have a detrimental effect on the outcome, on the overall effectiveness of the program. We can’t afford to take risks, we have so much work invested in this.”

“I’m perfectly well aware of all that, Doctor,” the sarcasm was unmistakable now, “and of a lot more besides. There are some facts that not even you are privy to, so just do as you’re told or we will find somebody else who will.” There was a tense pause, then the second voice continued in a more conciliatory tone, “If it makes you feel any better, I wouldn’t have asked you to do this if there wasn’t another way, but we have identified a serious threat to national security.”

“You are correct, that doesn’t make me feel any better about doing this,” said the doctor stiffly, “nevertheless, if the threat is as imminent as you seem to think, it appears that I don’t have a choice.”

“Thank you, Doctor, I assure you that we will take every precaution to keep the visit as stress-free as possible for your patient. How soon can you have him ready?”

“I will need a while to wake the subject from anesthetic and to prepare the visor for the neural interface, but I envisage being ready by two o’clock this afternoon.”

“Very well, I expect you to be have something suitably impressive to show us when I arrive with our guest.”

There were noises all around him, louder now, as his senses rapidly returned to normal, the sound of footsteps and a door closing, followed by the sudden sensation of movement as the surface he lay on slid smoothly sideways and then began to rise at one end, pivoting upright.
He had the brief, panicky feeling that he was going to topple forward, until the invisible restraint against his chest arrested his fall and he gasped, the first sound he had uttered since he’d regained consciousness some twenty minutes earlier.

There was an abrupt silence in the room, followed by the doctor’s cautious enquiry;
“I say, um, hello, are you awake?” a further pause, then, “You weren’t supposed to wake up until I gave you a shot. Can you hear me?”

He turned his head, attempting to locate the source of the voice, licked his dry lips and tried to speak, but no sound materialised.

“Wait, wait, don’t try to talk, I’ll get you a drink of water,” the doctor’s voice solicitous, his bedside manner taking over, “your throat will be dry from the anesthetic.”

He waited, his mind clearing but still fuzzy around the edges, trying to grasp any passing memories from the fog in his head but not having much success.

He remembered being in the dugout, a lot of heavy fire falling on their lines, the two guys manning the position next to him disappearing in a vapour cloud after being hit by whatever the hell those weapons were and then….nothing.
Not until he’d woken up here, blind, with bandages all over his face, strapped to some sort of hospital bed, listening to the voices of people discussing him like he wasn’t there.

He heard footsteps approaching and sensed somebody close by, then felt a hand on the back of his head and jumped slightly as the doctor spoke; “Here, tip your head forward. Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. There’s a cup of water,..that’s it. That should free up your throat a little.”

He gratefully took a gulp of the cold water, instantly relieving the obstruction in his throat and taking a deep, shaking breath, tried once more to talk.

“Where am I, what’s going on? Who are you people?”

“I’d advise you to try and stay calm,” came the disembodied reply, “you’ve been quite seriously injured and your treatment is still in progress.”

He silently processed this information, then asked, “What happened to the rest of my unit? Did anybody get back to base with me?”

“I’m afraid you didn’t actually make it back to base yourself,” said the doctor, “not under your own steam anyway. You were rescued from no-man’s land by one of our teams. I’m sorry to say the rest of your unit were wiped out in the first wave.”

Taking a moment to absorb this, he returned to his original question, “So, what am I doing here, what is the “treatment” exactly, and what is this program I heard you talking about?”

“I must apologise for the lack of warning we’ve had about this, it gives us very little opportunity to prepare you, but time and VIP visitors wait for no man apparently.”

He heard the doctor moving around behind him, then sensed him at his side just before he felt a hand on his arm, followed by the sharp stab of a hypo needle.
Thinking he was being sedated again he struggled, fighting the pressure of the bands across his chest, but they seemed utterly immovable and the doctor was speaking soothingly in his ear.

“It’s alright, there’s nothing to worry about, you’re not going to be harmed. The injection was merely an anti-rejection drug, a safety measure, nothing more. For your own protection, I assure you.”

He slowly calmed his breathing, trying to think rationally. He was about to ask the unseen doctor to explain himself once more when he was interrupted by the sound of approaching voices outside the room.
He strained to hear what was being said and managed to make out the voice of the man he’d heard speaking to the doctor earlier, saying, “…well they’ll have to be ready now won’t they? If you’d go to the observation lounge down the hall Mr President sir, I’ll inform the good doctor that you’ve arrived.”

The sound of retreating footsteps in the corridor was followed by the door opening, the man already speaking in the same brisk voice as he entered.

“Right, change of plan. He’s here now, he has a tight schedule and he wants to see something.”

“But I told you…” the doctor began.

“Well it’s too late now, we have to work with what we’ve got.”

He heard someone walking across the room towards him and then;

“You, soldier, can you hear me?”

“Me? Yes, I hear you. Who is this, why are you keeping me here?”

“All you need to know is that you are part of a very important operation and your cooperation is essential to its success.”

“I’m not sure I…”

“You don’t need to understand,” a definite command in the tone now, “all you need to do is pay attention and follow instructions, can you do that, soldier?”

“Yes sir!

“Right, listen up. In a few minutes you will be taken into a room where you will meet some people we’d like you to take a look at for us.” Before he could interrupt again, the man continued, “The good doctor is about to fit you with a visor, a brand new piece of hardware, tailor made just for you. The visor will restore your eyesight to a certain degree, but we are more interested in the other enhancements it will make to your sensory apparatus.”

“Enhancements? What..?”

“No time for questions I’m afraid. For now, all that matters is that the visor will enable you, for the first time, to identify which of the people in that room are human and which are Wraiths. We want you to go in there and find out which are which.”

He felt hands begin to gently unwrap the bandages from his eyes, their removal hardly increasing the dull glow he could see, unchanging whichever way he looked.
Then there was a flash of brighter light and he squinted against it, as a cold metallic shape was pressed onto his temples and across his eyes.

“Ok, you should be able to open your eyes now, I’ve lowered the sensitivity.”

He opened his eyes and was amazed to see…well, that he could see.
His vision was slightly dim and had a greenish tint to it, but otherwise his sight appeared to have miraculously returned.

“Can you see me?”

He turned toward the voice and saw a young man, wearing a white coat, spectacles and a worried expression, peering up at him.

“I can see you fine,” he said, then added, “thank you. It’s incredible.”

“Right, time to go I think.” said the second man

He got a quick glimpse of the other man as he was being lowered down with the same smooth, sliding motion as before, then he was gliding along, watching the lights above him move past as the three of them headed down the hall.

They stopped outside a door and his platform slid upright, allowing him his first proper look at the man he assumed was in charge and he was mildly disappointed.
He didn’t know what he was expecting, but certainly not this nondescript looking figure, there was literally nothing memorable about the man at all. If it wasn’t for the officer’s uniform he wore, he would have instantly been lost in any crowd.

However, there was no mistaking the authority in his voice.
“Right, when you get in there, you’ll be behind a screen, they can’t see you, ok?”

“Yes sir. And you want me to do…what, exactly?”

“Don’t say anything until we join you in the observation room, then you can tell us if the visor works.”

“How will I know, what am I looking for?” he asked the young doctor, who stood silently beside him, looking like he’d rather be anywhere else.

“Oh, if the visor works, you’ll know,” he replied, “you’ll know alright…” the doctor tailed off, staring at him grimly.

The door opened and he floated into a small room, the door closing quietly after him. One wall was completely glass, looking into the adjoining room, this one considerably larger, where about two dozen people, seemingly civilians, sat at the room’s one table or chatted in small groups, seated in the easy chairs that were arranged around a view screen.

He took in the innocuous scene for a few minutes, not really knowing what he was looking for, then began to scrutinise the individuals one at a time, sure there would be some obvious giveaway, some signal from the visor to somehow tell him he had found the enemy infiltrator.
After nearly ten minutes he had made a careful study of every one of the inhabitants of that room and yet he couldn’t see any indication they were anything but normal citizens.

He was just beginning to think he was doing something wrong, when the door opened and he heard people entering the room behind him.
His forgettable superior from outside stepped back into his line of vision and gave him an expectant look, then glanced through the glass wall at the impervious figures beyond.

“So?” he said, “What’s the verdict, how many have we got?”

“Yes,” said a deep voice behind him, “do tell me how this fantastic discovery works. I’m so grateful to you for your sacrifice Captain, you have done your country a heroic service.”

“Mr President, allow me to introduce the young man who is helping us test the alien technology,” the doctor operated a switch and his platform slowly turned to face the owner of the deep, reassuring voice that millions of people would recognise.

Which was when he realised why the doctor had been so certain, had known there would be no chance of a mistake.

He could feel his mind being clouded by terror, his sanity slipping away as the visor channelled images directly to his brain, his consciousness unable to process the primal, visceral horror it was experiencing.

The abomination that looked like the President glared balefully at what was left of the terrified soldier on the life support unit – barely the remains of a nervous system, kept alive by computers, half a torso, the battered head – and grinned, laughed that deep homely laugh that his subjects knew so well, pulled a small pistol from his pocket and, before anyone could react, shot both the doctor and the officer dead where they stood.

The Wraith stood over the soldier, reached down and delicately removed the visor from what remained of his head, turned it over in his hands once or twice and then dropped it, crushing it beneath its feet.

“No,” it said, “we cannot allow that.”

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One liner Wednesday: First drafts…

“A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a….yes dear?…no, you’re right of course, filthy habit, I’ll go and smoke it in the shed…”

– Rudyard Kipling.

#1lineWed

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Flying Visit…

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Once more I’m handing my homework in late for Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post, so I’m writing this in detention.

This week’s prompt is as follows:
““fly/flies/flew/flu/flue.”  Choose one, use ’em all, it’s up to you.”

Ok then, let’s go…

Flying Visit.

Blake looked blearily at the glowing readout of his clock radio, groaning in displeasure when he eventually deciphered the fuzzy red numerals and “03.14” swam into focus.
The pounding in his head from the second, ill-advised, bedtime brandy (a medicinal dose, to help combat the flu that had kept him in bed, alternately shivering and sweating, for the last two days) hadn’t retreated from its position behind his eyes and it wasn’t helped by the loud, monotonous thud-thud-thud of bass-heavy dance music, coming from the apartment above.

He stared malevolently at the ceiling, hoping the party animals upstairs would call it a night and let him get some sleep, wishing for the fiftieth time that his imbecile of a landlord hadn’t chosen to uncover the one and only “original period feature”, namely the old Victorian fireplace in the corner of his small bedroom.

As far as Blake could see, the pointless little grate, with its surround of ugly ceramic tiles and ridiculously narrow mantlepiece, served only two functions; as a conduit for icy draughts in winter and as a year-round acoustic tube, providing a constant, echoing reproduction of every thudding bassline, every movie soundtrack and every outburst of raucous laughter from the room above.
Which would have been bad enough if he’d been allowed to use it, but it was for “decorative purposes only” apparently and he’d had to smuggle in a portable (and equally prohibited) gas heater, to counter the arctic blasts that issued from the open chimney in windy weather.

It was the second of its key properties that the fireplace was now demonstrating, at – Blake glared again at the clock, as if daring it to give him the wrong answer – 3.37 in the morning, and it occurred to him more than once (much, much later) that this was the time that his life began to change.

Angrily flinging the covers aside, Blake swung his legs off the bed and stood cautiously upright, expecting the shakiness of the last couple of days to return, but discovering to his relief that he was actually starting to feel better.

“Maybe that second brandy did the trick after all,” he said to himself with a grimace, his throbbing head smugly insisting that this wasn’t the case, “kill or cure, it’s the only way.”

He was hauling on a pair of jeans he’d found, after stirring the soup of clothes next to the bed for a while, when he heard the promising noise of an upstairs door opening. He listened, only now realising that the music level had in fact dropped several notches in the last minute or two and was rewarded with the sound of loud footsteps on the creaking stairs, drunken shouting, then the slam of the street door closing.
Blake relaxed.

“Well thank Christ for tha…,” he stopped abruptly as the music upstairs resumed, this time at an even more ear-splitting volume, “oh for fuck’s sake! Right that’s it.”

He grabbed the first top he saw, a faded Rush t-shirt with the Fly By Night owl logo just visible on the front, pulling it over his head as he opened the front door and marched purposefully up the reverberating stairwell, rehearsing what he was going to say to his inconsiderate dickhead of a neighbour under his breath.

He stopped outside the door, the music so loud here that it was hard to discern anything but the sledgehammer bass beat, and was lifting his arm to knock when he realised nobody would hear him if he did.
Hesitating briefly to weigh up the potential risks involved, (after all, he and an ex-girlfriend had once, half-jokingly speculated that the partying neighbour upstairs may in fact be a major drug dealer, hence all the comings and goings from his flat) Blake reached for the handle and to his surprise, the door swung open.

The music hit him like a wall as he stepped into the hallway, making his ribcage vibrate and ratcheting up the pain behind his eyes to an almost unbearable intensity. He clamped his hands over his ears and strode down the hall towards the room at the end, obviously the source of the cacophonous racket, took two steps into the room and stopped dead.

Laying face down on the sofa at the far end of the room was his anti-social neighbour, clearly unconscious. Although this was unsurprising, given that the table was covered in syringes, traces of white powder, rolled up bank notes and a huge pile of cannabis – which also accounted for the pungent fog of smoke in the room – and the fact the floor was littered with beer cans and vodka bottles.

But it was what lay on the floor next to the table that held Blake’s attention.

He didn’t know what made him notice it, it was just a sports bag, some designer emblem on the side, but it was open and he took a step closer, wincing as the music assaulted his eardrums, looking down onto…

“Fuck me!” he exclaimed, loudly and without thinking, slapping one hand over his mouth and whirling to look at the prostrate figure, checking for signs of life, simultaneously cowering under the renewed assault the music made on his unprotected ear and clapping his hand back onto the side of his head.

The unconscious dealer hadn’t stirred since Blake had arrived and, after locating the sound system and reducing the volume to a still high, but manageable level, he carefully checked for a pulse, finding a strong, steady beat almost straight away and feeling immediately guilty that he was disappointed.

“I mean,” he thought to himself, “if he was dead then who would be any the wiser?”
But he was still perfectly healthy as far as Blake could tell and he didn’t fancy living downstairs, not knowing if the bloke was going to come knocking on his door, demanding Blake give back the bulging bag of cash he had stolen from him.

Now he did take a closer look, spreading open the zippered top of the bag and emitting a low whistle between his teeth as he did a quick, very rough estimate of how much was in there.
Probably two hundred and fifty thousand, he thought, give or take ten grand.

He stood up, catching his reflection in the mirror above the equally unattractive twin to his fireplace downstairs, looking himself in the eye.

Dare he?
Could he get away with it?
The owl on his t-shirt gazed enigmatically back at him from the mirror, as the words from the song came back to him;

“Fly by night, away from here,
Change my life again.
Fly by night, goodbye my dear,
My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend.”

Which was true wasn’t it?
He had no prospects, living in his crappy apartment, working his crappy job, putting up with his shitty neighbours, there was no point in pretending otherwise.

He looked down at the money.

He looked over at the silent drug dealer.

He looked back at the money and came to a decision.

He gently shook the man by the shoulder, making certain he wasn’t going to suddenly awaken, then, when he was satisfied, he lifted the limp figure carefully off the sofa and half-carried, half-dragged him to the hated fireplace, letting him down none too gently so that his head came to rest with a loud bump, face down, snugly in the small oval hearth, a faint light from Blake’s own room, just visible through the grating, at the bottom of the disused flue, one floor below.

Blake stood back and viewed the staged scene, bending to make minor adjustments to the unresisting arms and legs until he was happy that it looked a natural enough “accidental drunken fall” pose.
Then he took one last look around the apartment, closed the one open window, zipped up the bag and left, closing the door and leaving the thumping bass of the music still playing behind him.

He hurried into his bedroom, opening the small wardrobe and removing the gas cylinder he used to power his heater, then rummaged around in the box of junk under the bed until he found a roll of gaffer tape.
He emptied the plastic laundry sack onto the already cluttered floor and got to work.

The sack was just large enough to cover the opening that housed the fireplace, the gaffer tape making a perfect seal when stuck onto those lovely smooth tiles, meaning that Blake got it sealed up without losing any of the gas, which by that point was hissing out of its pressurised cylinder on the grate and drifting up the flue to the floor above, which was sadly blocked by a snoring drug dealer.

Exhausted, Blake fell into bed twenty minutes later, once he was sure the cylinder was empty, the flue was sufficiently plugged and there was no noise from upstairs, (the music having now mercifully come to an end) setting his alarm for just a few hours later, when he intended to go into the nearest travel agent and buy a ticket on the next plane to somewhere hot.

Two weeks later.

“Mr Peters? Phone call for Mr Peters?”, the waiter looked around the pool area until he saw a cheerful wave from the Englishman at the far end of the bar, “Telephone call for you sir, from England.”

“Thank you Carlos,” said Blake Peters, “I’ll bring it back in when I’m done.”

He handed Carlos a large tip, the waiter grinned, said, “Thank you Mr Peters!” and trotted back to the shaded veranda of the hotel.

“Hello, who is this?”

“Oh it’s nothing to worry about sir, I’m with the property agent with whom you dealt whilst renting the apartment in Madden Street…” When Blake said nothing, he continued, “..as I say, it’s nothing really, we were just wondering, during your tenancy, did you have any problems with…pests, at all…?”

“Pests, what do you mean, pests?” asked Blake, not sure if he liked where this was going.

Were they talking about nuisance neighbours?

Should he say something?

Then the agent solved his predicament for him.

“It’s just that the new tenants say they are getting infested with flies, hundreds of them apparently, they’re coming down the chimney, if you can believe that. Did you ever have any problems like that at all?”

“I’m sure I would have reported something like that.”

“Yes, well, that’s what we thought, sorry to trouble you sir. Don’t hesitate to call us if you ever need assistance in finding accommodation again.”

“Oh, I don’t see myself needing your services anytime soon, but thanks anyway. Good bye.”

Blake finished his drink and strolled over to return the phone, stopping once and shading his eyes as a small plane took off from the island’s only airstrip and banked gently across the azure blue water.

Blake watched it as it flew around the headland and disappeared out of sight, then he turned and headed back to the hotel.

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