Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chapter one

Having embraced the prospect of his inevitable death, comedian Robin Ince is currently undertaking the task of downsizing his vast book collection. The process involves him reading the first chapter of every book he owns in turn, and using this as the sole basis of whether to keep or discard.

While I'm not saying the novel I'm currently, hastily writing will ultimately deserve a place on anyone's bookshelf (Aside: I am saying that, it will be a modern classic), the disgusting first chapter I wrote yesterday will really not be typical or indicative of the rest of the book, which takes the form of a murder mystery with girl trouble.

I won't be posting the whole book online - hopefully it will be available from Amazon.com in a few months, with proper artwork and pages and everything - but here's an extract from the self-edited first chapter for your enjoyment and disgust. While the whole book will be semi-autobiographical to an extent, this first bit practically counts as travel blog material, thanks to its inspiration coming from my first night out and morning after in Jerusalem.

See if you can spot which bits are made up and which are from life.

A Night to Remember: Chapter One (extract)

Simon Goodman hadn't been physically sick since 1998, but the body never forgets the old rhythms.

As he rolled over onto his back, woken for the third time that morning by the incessant ringing of the church bells surrounding him on all sides in this most holy of cities - like living in a flat in the 1970s with an audiophile eager to show off the capabilities of his quadraphonic hi-fi system by blasting Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon at mind-melting volume - he instantly knew something was awry.

That was an understatement. He was stranded in a foreign country with no passport and no goals, walking in the debris of his hopes and dreams, but his more immediate concern was the painful sensation occurring in his digestive system. Despite feeling like he presently possessed the strength of a man four times his age, Simon's legs succeeded in independently guiding him from the misleading sanctuary of his bed to the unforgiving bathroom across the hall, at the precise walking speed necessary to reach the toilet bowl in time for its gaping maw to catch the first of the semi-digested fall-out.

Most of it, anyway. While his body evidently had some innate recall of the correct vomiting procedure, Simon's own inexperience got the better of him as he stood, wobbling over the bowl, his acidic regurgitations falling some distance before passing the porcelain crater's rim, and much of it spattering over the seat, the tiled floor, his own bare feet, his bare lower legs, his knee-length shorts and his new, ironically purchased Guns N' Moses tourist T-shirt. Even with all that he had to deal with right now, this particularly annoyed him.

At least it's almost entirely liquid, was the sole positive thought rattling through Simon's hungover brain. I'll probably feel great after this, he attempted to persuade himself, at least that's what the vomiting veterans always claimed. 'Better out than in' - that probably applies across the board, to all bodily processes, right?

Simon cursed himself for letting his mind wander onto topics below the belt, realising with a now-familiar sense of creeping dread that his mouth wasn't the only orifice of his mistreated body that was eager to get its own back and expel more of the poison he'd force-fed it the previous night. Pulling off his sick-soaked shorts, Simon realised with discomfort that he didn't have time to wipe the slick seat before seating his bare buttocks on its rim, just in time to contribute a second sickening chapter to the liquid testament of last night's excess.

Since he'd set off on his naïve world travels just two months previously, Simon's ablutions could hardly be described as solid, even at the best of times - and this was far from the best of times. No matter how much rye bread he forced down in the name of roughage, he was unable to achieve a consistency denser than chocolate mousse, and the chemical warfare currently frothing forth from his smouldering ring was not the sort of new experience he'd been looking for when jetting off for pastures new.

What he wouldn't give for a good British shite. Sturdily built, stoic in form and character, you knew where you were with a reliable British turd, and all the blood, sweat and tears they so often engendered. He'd like to see these weak Israeli toilets handle the first dump of Boxing Day, Simon found himself thinking, to distract himself from the Bonfire Night currently erupting in the skies above the murky, polluted oceans of his own infernal creation.

When the deluge was over, he allowed himself a temporary reprieve. Leaning his pained head forwards, he welcomed the uncomfortably cold porcelain of the inconvenient sink and wondered how he had ever managed to manipulate this weak body, which could now barely stand, to travel half way around the planet. Feeling his T-shirt clinging revoltingly to his rising chest with every breath, stuck with his own adhesive, alcoholic puke, Simon cursed that he would no longer be able to brag about his abstinence from sickness. This particularly annoyed him.


Novel progress: 7,224 words (14%)

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