jottings...

Excerpts & previews

wasteland preview...

PROLOGUE - The 14th Century.


The man lay face down and quiet on the snow for what seemed an eternity. If anybody was watching they might have thought he was already dead. The deafening silence was broken only by the sound of dripping water and the occasional muted plink as tiny fragments of snow, surrendering to the inevitable, released their grip on the lip of the steep snowbank and dropped two or three feet into the bay.


great sea turtles preview...

“That day I walked the length of Cannery Row for the first time, and thanked Steinbeck for his diversions. At a most desperate and miserable time in my life this man had transported me to another world.


I was immersed in the experience. Sure… the street had changed a bit, and there were a few tourists getting about; but lots of the old sardine cannery buildings were still there and for me at least, so were Mack and Doc and even Dora Flood. Of course the cannery buildings were now shops, hotels and museums, but as I wandered down that street, framed by its overhead walkways, I was transported back into the pages of those books.


I walked on down towards the end of the Row and there on my right was Doc’s marine laboratory… 800 Cannery Row.

I went even further out, then doubled back onto the coastal trail where I found a park bench. I was sitting there for maybe fifteen minutes, when I noticed a white purse seiner chugging out from the harbour towards the open sea. I think there were still a few independent fishing companies around, but for my money it was the Western Flyer, with John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts aboard... heading out for the Sea of Cortez.”



What I said

assumptive headlining...


The world is changing faster than I can keep up with and perhaps nowhere is this more true than with the media or news gathering industries.


Media companies amalgamate, print media companies shrivel and die, as the digital age drags all of us headlong into the heart of the news courtesy of the mobile phone.


There’s a couple of media aberrations that just refuse to die or, perhaps more correctly, have died and simply refuse to be buried. They are of course morning television and post news current affairs shows. These atrocious ‘paid for comment’ circuses sometimes masquerade as serious news shows and that’s fine too, because mine is just one opinion and if everybody else loves them they should continue to deliver their biased twaddle without interruption.


And that brings us to what I call assumptive headlining.

Stop telling me how I feel, what I like, when to mourn!


Here's an example  of assumptive headlining..

The World Mourns the Loss of Michael Jackson’.


No it doesn't. A certain number of people in the world  might, and that could be a very large number of people indeed, but I know for a fact that there are tribes deep in the Amazon Jungle who have never heard of Michael Jackson, and even if they have, couldn't give a rats.


Assumptive headlining is a modern media creation that drags the easily influenced into that mire of collective grief. By influencing hundreds of thousands of people to personally engage with a tragedy, even one that happened on the other side of the globe, or to someone they’ve never heard of before, media companies can extend the news event cycle, increase ratings, attract more advertising and so sell us more shit that we don’t need.

Short story episodes

le somail                                           © Copyright Christopher J. Smith - August 2013


Autumn came long and slow that year in Le Somail. Green leaves that hung in their millions out over the waters of the canal took a firmer grip, then turned through golden yellow to brown with the exertion of hanging on. Finally exhausted, they gave in and fell to their deaths in the icy waters below, or plastered themselves like decals on the white decks of the noddy boats.


One by one the canal boats came to rest against the banks or in the marinas. Here and there, flurries of activity preceded the long period of hibernation. Stiff canvas was hauled over the cabins of the hotel boats and they went dark within to hunker down against the chill wind and frosts.


We still walked the tow paths, wrapped thick against the biting cold, and took our coffees on the quayside before the last of the cafes and restaurants surrendered to the season and themselves fell dark for the winter.


Finally it was just us, those two crazy foreigners that lived in the last house on the road out of the village - and walked the towpaths when any sensible person was inside, bent over some kind of heater. They pointed at us in the supermarket and laughed. One checkout girl, particularly fond of closing her lane and glaring at us as we approached. Just a dumb arsed French girl who delighted in flourishing a ferme` sign like it was a magician’s prop... all the while chomping noisily on a mouthful of gum and looking childishly around to seek the approval of her comrades...


But one stupid person does not a village make, and others welcomed us. Finally even the gum-chewing checkout girl engaged some kind of curious detente. The mood in the supermarket thawed as the temperature outside fell to impossible levels. Wire fences were hung with ice, like tiny paned windows. Winter finally arrived and with it came the need for me to get back to work.


Some days it was sunny enough to sit outside by the pool, itself wrapped for the winter. I always started the day with coffee, coaxed steaming hot from a small Italian stovetop percolator. If I could be bothered to brave the cold, I went to the Boulangerie around the corner and bought hot croissants. Breakfast of champions!  (tbc)