All this happened so it must be true

Mostly stories, plus other odds and ends

Month: November, 2009

Scenes From The Fabulous Prostitute Rebellion of 1812

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In Which The Scene Is Set And Our Tale Begins

The bare facts of the Prostitute Rebellion are these. On the night of March 27th, 1812, a night of windblown luminous clouds, a toothy frost and a quarter moon, one Florence Cooper, prostitute, stabbed to death a man at Bow, London, leaving her victim to die slathered in his own gore in a manner we shiver to relate. 18 wounds to the victim’s throat and chest had done the work that twenty five years in service of the King’s army (not to mention the attentions of various Frenchmen, Turks and other mercenary elements) could not. Our murderess, thinking it fit to add what might be deemed insult to the injury already inflicted, then staved in the gentleman’s forehead with some manner of heavy object, before making her escape and leaving the gory spectacle to be discovered in the hours before dawn by none other than a soldier of the victim’s own company.

And this is not the worst of it. That same night a further three other members of the king’s soldiery were similarly assaulted. One, a corporal, was found with his throat cut in Hyde Park. A sergeant-at-arms died in Hackney, cut open from throat to groin. And at Wapping a private was drowned after his legs were tied with weights and he was thrown into the Thames by an assailant or assailants unknown. Of the four murders, only that committed by the criminal already identified above has since officially been solved, though this writer –and a number of others– continue to entertain the suspicion that our Miss Cooper may have been involved in more crimes than she has answered for. (If she is to answer further, however, it will be to the almighty alone, since on June 13th of the same year she was hanged.) Read the rest of this entry »

Scenes from the End of the Twentieth Century

It was a beautiful Thursday morning in June and I was a happy man. More specifically, I was twenty-nine, recently promoted, single and carrying the phone number of a girl I’d met at a party the night before in my pocket.

And I didn’t even have a hangover.

In other words life was wonderful, and I was determined to share my good fortune with as many people as possible, which was why I’d decided to take the day off and was on my way to my friend Blackburn’s house.

I still lived in London back then, having found myself accidentally making a decent living for the first time in my life by getting caught up – like just about everyone else I knew – in the workings of The Fabulous New Economy.

Overnight I’d gone from low level benefit fraud to flying to high-level business meetings across Europe and talking about customer re-incentivization and disambiguation of information in conference calls. I’d bought my first ever suit, moved into my own flat and, incredibly, always seemed to have more money in my bank account at the end of the month than I did at the start. I drank in expensive bars, toasted my good fortune with my similarly blessed workmates, took up snowboarding and had five foreign holidays a year.

And I’m still not sure, even now, exactly what it was that I did for a living. Read the rest of this entry »