The Everlasting Universe of Things

We won the commission to create a mountain for the Olympic park. The committee praised our bold vision, our dynamic approach and our sensitivity to budgetary constraints. There was talk of legacy, and local involvement, and opportunities for commercial partnership. Everybody was happy and we were going to be rich and famous.

We conducted exhaustive research. We compiled lists of the world’s most iconic mountain ranges and tried to isolate just what it was that made them so effective. We built models of the most popular alps and pondered them from every angle. We surveyed moraines, mesas, plateaus, crags, cliffs and ridges. We carried out field trips to heaths, moors and highlands. We considered knolls, knowes, drumlins, eskers and even an arctic pingo. Continue reading “The Everlasting Universe of Things”

2012 Lovecraft Olympic Park almost complete

The 2012 H.P. Lovecraft Olympic Park is 90 per cent complete as these new photographs released today reveal.

The main image, below, shows the 500-acre park from north to south with the ‘nameless cyclinder’ and ‘eyes in darkness’ in the foreground and the ‘moon-ladder’ in the distance. The Mountains of Madness are just visible on the horizon.

Handover of the Olympic Park to Games organisers The Great Old Ones early next year is one of the key milestones that will take place in the months before the Games.

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.) Continue reading “Scenes From The Fabulous Prostitute Rebellion of 1812”

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. Continue reading “Scenes from the End of the Twentieth Century”

Christmas Cards

[1997ish?]

People will react in different ways, that’s all you can say for sure.

For Polish Ernie the worst thing about dying is that for the first time in his life he can’t trust himself to make a decision. He’s crippled by self doubt. Things have got so bad that even choosing what shoes to wear each morning proves too much for him. He’ll break down in tears over a pair of suede shoes he bought in nineteen seventy-six. He thinks: how could a pair of shoes last that long?

It seems as important as anything else.

Continue reading “Christmas Cards”

Michael Chabon interview (2000)

[Michael Chabon is the author of “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh”, “Wonder Boys”, “A Model World”, “Werewolves in their Youth” and “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”, among others. I’ve been unhealthily obsessed with his work since, ooh, at least 1988. This interview followed the release of his third novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”]

OB: “Kavalier and Clay” is an epic novel – which might surprise readers more used to your more self-contained previous novels and short stories… were you ever concerned during the writing that book was getting too big – that you’d set yourself an impossible task?

MB: Roughly every three and a half weeks. There were days when I felt completely in control, not only of the material but of the English language and of the very neurons and dendrites of my brain. And then there were times when the whole thing felt like a big, sodden, half-boiled mishmash. Enjoying regular waves of paralyzing self doubt has always been one of the fun things about being me! Continue reading “Michael Chabon interview (2000)”

Dan Rhodes interview (2001)

[Dan Rhodes is the author of the short story collections “Anthropology” and “Don’t Tell Me The Truth About Love”, and the novels “Timoleon Vieta Come Home”, “The Little White Car” (as Danuta de Rhodes) and “Gold” (released March 2007). He was named as one of Granta’s “Best of Young British Novelists” in 2003. This interview is from 2001, when I was accidentally working in the book business.]

OB: The last time I spoke to you, “Anthropology” was just about to be published. A year later and you’re a famous writer, respected by your peers and pursued by some of the world’s most desirable women. How has success changed you?

DR: I’ve had to have my number changed a few times – Sabrina The Teenage Witch just wouldn’t take no for an answer. But, disappointingly, my life isn’t like a non-stop Dave Lee Roth video. My days are drifting by in much the same way as they were a year ago – I’m still struggling along with my third book, and I haven’t come close to earning out my advance (which I spent on drink and shelving a long time ago) so I’m still keeping the wolf from the door by unpacking boxes at a bookshop. I don’t mind the work, though. The money’s a joke but I can wear jeans, listen to my own music and use foul language without being fired, so as jobs go it’s not too bad. I took most of the summer off, but ended up watching Wimbledon and Big Brother and listening to records when I should have been writing. The Rhodes 2001 tour kicks off soon though, which should be good – so far I have one date in London, a possible reading in Aberystwyth and a two-week tour of Belgium to look forward to. Continue reading “Dan Rhodes interview (2001)”