Trevor Belshaw Author

Author of Out of Control

Month: April 2019

The Westwich Writer’s Club

This is a serial I began writing in 2010. Sixteen chapters were written and published on a blog. It proved to be quite popular and I’ve been asked many times if I’ll finish it and turn it into a book. I think the time has now come to do that, so, I’m going for publish the first four or five chapter’s on here to see if there really is an audience for it. Thanks for reading. Comments appreciated.

Chapter One

Manuscript Night

‘Will stared down at the lifeless body of Sir Charles Montague and smiled thinly. It was over, his tormentor was dead. He pulled his sword from the neck of his victim, wiped it on the grass and sheathed it. He looked at the brightening sky, the sun said noon, time to make for Durberry Vale, Elizabeth, and the rest of his life.’

Stephen King looked up from his manuscript and surveyed the hall. The audience of mainly elderly members stared back at him. The silence was deafening. Then from the table behind him came a solitary clap.

Margot Sugden, the writers group secretary, rose to her feet.

‘Thank you for that, Stephen, I’m sure we all found it very interesting. Not many members read the last chapter of their novel on their first manuscript reading but there’s no rule that says you can’t.’

She held up her list and squinted at it.

‘Now, whose turn is it? Ah yes, Deirdre, do you have more from ‘The Quilt? You do? Excellent!’

Stephen made his way to the row of empty chairs at the back of the room and sat down with a sigh.

A white-haired woman turned to face him from the row in front.

‘Awfully good.’ she whispered. ‘For a first timer.’

‘Thank you,’ said Stephen, ‘I don’t think it went down too well.’

‘I think it needs work,’ she replied, ‘quite a bit actually and people tend to read novels from the first chapter here. But you’re writing and getting an audience, that’s what counts.’

She paused, popped a mint into her mouth, thought for a moment, then offered the packet to Stephen.

‘You will find it will take a while to become accepted here. We’re an ancient bunch with a very old-fashioned mentality. We probably see you as a bit of a threat at the moment, but we’ll get used to you…eventually.’

Stephen took a sweet from the end of the roll and smiled.

‘I’ve only written the last five pages of this particular novel so far, ‘I thought if I got the end done, I’d know where I was heading with the story, if you see what I mean.’

A warm round of applause greeted Deirdre as she took to the stage. Mary’s voice dropped to a whisper as she was shushed by the members in front.

‘You ought to be writing horror stories with a name like yours. I’m Mary Clark by the way.’

‘My English teacher said the same thing at school. Nice to meet you, Mary.’

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Two

New Ideas.

In the meeting room, Stephen returned to his seat on the back row. Mary was chaperoned to a chair nearer the front by the elderly man who had confronted him in the bar. He gave Stephen a warning look before he sat down.

Margot got to her feet and squinted at her list.

‘Ted?’ she queried.

‘You really ought to go back to glasses, Margot,’ said Ted, as he picked up his clipboard from the floor.

Margot blushed and sat down.

Ted marched to the podium, nodded to Harriet and addressed the membership.

‘Ted Hughes, not the famous one,’ he announced.

A gentle titter ran around the room.

‘I was going to read a new poem, but as I don’t have to share reading time with my grandson tonight, I’ve decided to read the latest chapter of my novel instead.’

Ted patted his pockets, looked back to his seat, then patted his pockets again before eventually finding his spectacles on a thin chain around his neck. He cleared his throat and read from the clipboard.

‘The Jonah. Chapter 14. Unlucky for Some.’

The membership stopped fidgeting and concentrated on Ted.

‘Captain Farthing strolled into the coffee bar from the dusty street and took a table by the window, he ordered tea from a native waitress. It was stinking hot. The waitress sniffed, gave him a queer look and turned the propeller fan above their heads up to full speed.

Captain Farthing added two large spoonfuls of sugar and milk from a jug on the tray and stirred his tea slowly. He sipped the tea idly and thought about Fiona. Would she turn up after their last meeting? He doubted it. He remembered how he had trapped her ball gown in the door of his car and her horrified face when she realised it had dragged through the mud.

He hoped she had forgiven him.

There was a tinkle and Fiona stood before him. ‘Hello Farthy,’ she said. Fiona sniffed from her delightful nose. She lifted first one foot then the other and checked her shoes.

Farthing groaned as he realised in horror that the smell must be emanating from his shoes. He checked them under the table. Sure enough it was him, somewhere out on the dirty, dusty street he had trodden in dog shit.

Fiona was sympathetic. ‘You get all the bad luck, Farthy,’ she said, ‘you must be the unluckiest man in India…’

As the story progressed Stephen developed an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh. He bit his lip, then his cheek, but still the laughter welled up inside him. He decided he had to get out before he collapsed in a heap on the floor.

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Three.

Grudging Thanks

Stephen walked out of the rear entrance and made his way across the tiny, puddle-strewn car park to the street. The car park only had a dozen spaces and they had all been taken by writer’s club members. Stephen wondered what time he would have to get there to claim one of the spaces. He suspected he would need to be there a good half hour before the meeting started.

The club was situated at the bottom of a narrow street on a steep hill. Close to town, the street was popular with drivers as it was one of the few places left without yellow lines and parking meters. Pedestrians splashed their way along the pavement eager to get to their destination and out of the gathering storm.

Stephen held his plastic document folder above his head and jogged up the hill to his car. By the time he reached it the rain had begun in earnest. A clap of thunder rattled the windows of the taller buildings, a few seconds later a crazy zig-zag of lightning lit up the night sky.

Stephen fired up the engine and switched on the headlights. The music of Snow Patrol roared out from the speakers. He began to sing along as he flicked the indicator and eased his way through narrow gap between the lines of parked cars.

Half way up the street he noticed two figures struggling with an umbrella. Stephen hit a button and the window was lowered.

‘Can I give you a lift?’ he called.

Mick glared from under the peak of his cap.

‘No thanks, we’re fine.’

‘You may be fine, Mick, but I’m getting soaked,’ said Mary. ‘Thank you, young man.’

Mick opened the back door and waited for Mary to get into the car. To his annoyance she opened the front door and climbed in next to Stephen. She snapped on her seat belt as Mick grudgingly threw himself into the rear seat.

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Four

Work Issues

After dinner Charlotte bought her laptop over and went through her collection of digital photographs that she had taken on safari. Stephen was impressed with her detailed knowledge of the animals and places.

‘You should write it all down, Charlie, I’m sure it would find an audience.’

‘Me, write? as in writing something other than an email or a report? I can’t see it somehow.’

‘I read your emails, they were very descriptive, I think you’ve got a real talent there. It just needs polishing up a bit. While you were away, I joined the local writers group. They’re a strange lot, mainly elderly, but they do have some younger members stashed away in a cupboard somewhere. Why don’t you join too? maybe together we could blow away some of the cobwebs and get it functioning again. What do you say?’

‘Writing, hmm, I have to admit I’ve always fancied the idea. My old English teacher said I should be a journalist. It’s certainly worth thinking about. What do they do at this group?’

‘Not a lot as things stand, but they do have writing competitions every month and they have reading nights, so you can get an idea of what strangers think of your work. Family members and friends are always going to be polite about your writing, and while that’s encouraging, it’s not really going to help.’

Stephen put the last few pages of his novel on the table. Charlotte picked it up and read.

‘This is great,’ she said eventually, ‘where’s the rest of it?’

Stephen tapped his head.

‘In here, I’ve more or less got it all worked out.’

‘So, you wrote the ending first?’

‘Yes, I know, the writers group thought I was mad too. Or at least I think they did; I didn’t get any reaction from them at all when I read it.’

Charlotte pursed her lips and thought for a moment.

‘Thinking about it, it’s quite logical. You should know where you’re going to end up.’

‘That’s how I see it. Of course, when I write the preceding chapters the story might take a major diversion and it may end up in a totally different place, but I just thought I’d give it a go.’

‘If the writers club is so old and crumbly, is there any real point in me joining. They sound a mean old bunch.’

‘I was told they are just scared of change; they know things will have to be done differently if the group is going to survive, but they just can’t face up to that reality.’

‘So, what are you going to do, start a revolution?’

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The Village

A Thousand Years of Division.

The village of Kirkby Sutton is a conglomerate and an enigma. Formed by the merging of two villages that had outgrown their ability to remain separate as an entity, it nevertheless retains two extremely different and specific identities. One half, as its name suggests, is built around the church and is a, (mainly), well-to-do, haven of respectability, with its Georgian Manor, leafy, wide-verged streets, lined with large, detached houses, driveways, off road parking and a library. There is also a small 1960s estate, a mix of private, three bedroomed, privately-owned houses, with an enclave of housing association tenants bolted on for political expediency.

Down the hill, the other half of the village contains a higgledy-piggledy, hotchpotch of stone cottages, modern, town houses and rows of Victorian terraces, originally built for the employees at the local lace factory, brewery and estate workers, who made the short trip up the road, to toil on the farms of Lord Beresford on the other side of the village. Nowadays, the descendants of those workers still live in the red brick terraces, but are employed by industries in the nearby cities of Nottingham and Derby.

The rivalry of its residents compares to any found in much larger towns and cities. You would be hard pressed to find as much animosity at a local Derby football match in Liverpool or Manchester. The annual village fair, which includes a fiercely fought, tug-of-war competition, held on a boozy bank holiday weekend, regularly turns violent. For years, a police sergeant from the small town of Higton, was paid to referee the event, but when the ageing sergeant retired and the police station was closed down to save money in the 1950s, the residents were left to sort out their own mess, so a committee, made up of the vicar’s wife and a group of teetotal residents from both sides, sat in sober judgment over the proceedings. To this day, the committee still rules on complaints and accusations made by one side against the other. Most of the grievances are easily dismissed, but on a few occasions, a vote has to be taken with the chairperson, a lady with no connection to either side of the village, holding the casting vote.

Sutton is the older part of the village and dates back to Saxon times. Its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon term for South town, (village, or enclosure.) It was built on the plain at the bottom of a long slope, on the bend of a fast-flowing stream. They built a timber church, which, in bad winters, became a flood plain. Sick of paddling to church for their religious instruction, they erected another one, higher up the slope, using the soggy timbers from their original construction.

A hundred or so years later the Danes arrived, but instead of rape and pillage, the Vikings merely appropriated the land around the church and began to farm it. This community became known as Kirkby, or, the settlement by the church. Over time, the Danish intruders, became Christianised, improved the church building, and appointed one of their own number, a man from the nearby town of Derby, as priest. They reluctantly allowed their near neighbours to attend religious ceremonies, in an effort to re-Christianise the local population, who had, by now, become almost universally, heathen.

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The Diary of an Aspiring Adulteress

Part Three

Suckers

What is it with teenagers? They are so full of contradictions.

At 8.00am on Saturday I was in the kitchen cooking bacon, when Lara strolled in. I looked at the clock in mock-shock and opened my mouth wide. Normally we don’t see her until lunchtime at the weekend. She slammed a magazine down on the kitchen table and pointed to the headline. ‘Have you seen this?’ she growled, as though I was the subject of the article.

I picked up the magazine. ‘Polar bears in trouble as ice pack melts.’ I read.

‘It’s sad isn’t it?’ I sympathised.

‘It’s not sad, it’s disgusting, that’s what it is.’ Lara flicked through a couple of pages and pointed to another article. ‘Whaling,’ she continued. ‘Aren’t you ashamed? The fleets catch more and more each year, soon there’ll be none left.’

‘Whaling is bad too,’ I agreed.

Lara fixed me with a glare. ‘It’s your fault.’

‘My fault? Why is …’

‘Your generation’s fault then. You allowed it to happen on your watch. You’ve

sat back and done nothing for years, now it’s probably too late.’

‘That’s not really fair, Lara,’ I said quietly, trying to take the heat out of the situation. I always give to the animal charity collectors when they come around, and I joined the RSPB.’

Lara wasn’t appeased. ‘So, you stick 50p in a tin and think you’ve done enough to save the planet? Look around you Mum, animals are suffering.’

I looked round the kitchen. Spencer was attempting to get the last atoms of dog food from his bowl and Slasher was washing her face after eating a breakfast of tuna chunks. ‘Doesn’t seem to be much in the way of suffering here,’ I joked.

Lara grabbed two sandwiches, slapped them onto a plate and stormed out of the kitchen.

‘That’s right, make a joke of it,’ she spluttered through a mouthful of bacon sandwich. ‘You just don’t care what happens to animals, do you?’

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Easter

Easter

Hi Emma,

I hope you got a lie in after Carmel’s break up party last night. I managed to get an extra hour, so got up about twelvish. I didn’t feel too bad considering the amount of booze I put away. I can’t remember getting home, but worryingly, Mum found a pair of men’s underpants in the porch this morning. All my clothes are in a pile on the chair near my bed, so I know I arrived home fully dressed. Who was that bloke I was talking to, late on? I know I snogged him outside the loo, but that’s as much as I can remember. Was he okay? Don’t tell me I snogged a minger. My street cred isn’t what it was since that tart, Olivia, told everyone in Slappers night club, that I had crabs. I know it must have looked like I was scratching at nits, but it was those knickers I got from Ali’s market stall last week, they had some dodgy stitching and were irritating me all night. I’m going to take them back on Saturday. I paid a bloody fiver for those; Ali can do one, I’m not wearing seconds. I ended up going commando in the end, which was very risky in that short dress I was wearing. I had a bit of a rash round my bits next morning, though that could be down to the fact that my razor is blunt. I think Gran’s been using it again. I don’t know why she insists on having a Brazilian at her age. Her pubes are like a Brillo pad: she needs a chainsaw to trim them really.

Poor Gran, she’s starting to feel her age a bit now. She’s in her 80s, so doing really well, but her knees are giving way and she’s struggling with the stairs now. When she stands up or sits down her knees crack so loudly that you’d think you were down at the rifle range. Mum says we’ll have to move her downstairs soon. We have a room at the back that’s only used to keep Dad’s knock off fruit and veg out of the sight of prying eyes.

Gran wasn’t keen on the idea at first, but changed her mind when she found out that Dad didn’t like the idea either. Dad said he’d have a heart attack carting all his stuff upstairs to Gran’s room. Gran said she’d like to see that and asked Mum to point the indoor security camera at the stairs so she could record it and watch it over and over again.

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Brexshit

Hi Emma,

I’ve just been listening to Dad and Gran arguing about Brexit, or should I say, the lack of it. Remember I told you about all the arguments in our house when we first had the referendum back in 2016? Well, we’re still having the same old rows. It’s like Groundpig day. No one has changed their opinion in the slightest. Dad still thinks we should stay in the European Union and that everyone who wants to leave is a racist, insular, narrow minded, myopic Nazi. Gran said that was a compliment and reckons Dad is a weak minded, spineless, yellow bellied. commie traitor and should be shot as a Quisling collaborator.

I didn’t get why Gran bought up the fact that Dad enjoys taking part in pub quizzes during a political argument, so I looked the word up on Google and it seems that Quisling was a Norwegian bloke who took the side of the Nazis in the war. That puzzled me a bit, because if both their arguments are correct, they should be on the same side.

Even Mum gets involved at times. She said that If four ex-Prime Ministers and that nice Nick Clegg, who was nearly Prime Minister, think we should stay in the EU, then it’s good enough for her. She’s worried that if we leave, she might not be able to spend the 20 Euro note, left over from the day out to France she had with the Clicking Needles, knitters’ group, last year.

I’m a bit worried about it all too if I’m honest, I mean, if we leave Europe, we won’t belong to a continent anymore and it will cost a fortune to reprint all those atlases. Anyway, I want to go to Malaga this summer and if we aren’t in Europe I could be classed as stateless, like that ISIS bride, and that might make it a bit tricky until we sort all the maps out.

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Feminist Chat

Hi Emma,

How’s the jogger’s nipple? I hate that, I got it once when I wore that hessian blouse without a bra to Bryony Chalmers’ end of engagement party. I was really popular with the lads that night but Christ, my nipples felt like they’d been chewed on by a starving buck toothed Piranha. I used up three-six-packs of Greek style yoghurts trying to cool them down.

That bastard, Simon, my ex, put my name down for the wet t-shirt competition at Tossers night club. The lousy sod said I’d be a shoo in with my cast iron nips.

Gran’s been giving us a lecture on how tough life was back in the 1960s tonight. It all started when Dad came home from work saying he was going to see the doctor about getting a few days off. Mum got all worried, she doesn’t like the idea of dad being on the sick. The last time he had a few days off he didn’t go back for twenty years.

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The Meditating Monk

Today, the Independent newspaper is carrying a story about the perfectly preserved body of a Buddhist monk that has been found in Mongolia. One Buddhist academic maintains that the monk, still sitting in the lotus position, may not be dead but might be in a state of deep mediation.

Now, as some of you know, I’m not one to be taken in by religious relics. I wasn’t fooled when a ‘genuine,’ nail, from the crucifixion of Jesus was put up for sale on Ebay, nor was I convinced by the splinter from the cross that was being offered by the same seller. (Not least because I had already bought one from a street market seller when I was in Turkey, and the one I’d haggled for was made of a much darker wood.) I was sorely tempted to purchase one of the thirty six, Messiah’s foreskins that were offered to me on the same holiday, but in the end I didn’t succumb, I mean, Jesus only had one foreskin removed, how could I be sure which one of them was the genuine article? I could have ended up with Judas’ prepuce and that wouldn’t have been half as valuable. I suppose, in a way they may all have been genuine, he was a supreme healer, after all. I just don’t think he’d have put up with a rabbi following him around with a sharp knife waiting to snip the latest growth.

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