Thursday, 26 June 2014

Storm in the City ~ A London Tale


Back from Friday lunch to his office near the Barbican. The receptionist eyed him speculatively. It was just after two. There was a message from Storm. Call ASAP.
He closed his office door and rang her mobile number.
‘Beattie, is that you?’ Through her slurred words he realised she was in a bad state. It was her last day at the bank. As a trader she’d taken far too many risks and eventually it had caught up with her. She'd taken the boys round to a subterranean bar restaurant on Eldon Street near Broadgate Circle.
‘Can you come and rescue me?’ To give her her due she laughed at this. ‘White knight routine. You know the form. Sorry. So very sorry…’
‘Not a problem. I’ll be there in ten minutes. Don’t move.’
‘Not very likely. I’ve a full wine glass in front of me. In fact I don’t think I can without your help.’
He grabbed a cab outside his office and directed it to Broadgate giving himself five minutes to reflect on his damsel in distress, Sara Thomasina Oona Rhiannon Montgomery. Her nickname had kicked in at St Mary’s. Sara had been shortened to Sar but then one of her friends noticed her initials. When she left school for the last time she threw her English dictionary out of the car window. It had been presented to her on Prize Day some years earlier.
She’d been born in Llangollen hospital. Her father, an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, had driven her mother across the border from her grandparents’ home in Cheshire to ensure she was indisputably Welsh.
At Cambridge Storm had been rusticated. She was doing more damage to the Boat Club’s training regime than any night out. She worked her way assiduously up from her college eight to the might of Goldie and the University boat crew, sleeping with several of them along the way. And she was seldom sober, missed classes and comported herself like some gin-sodden relic of the early nineteenth century.
She was alone at a restaurant table in the farther dark recesses when he found her, in her chic charcoal grey office suit and Herm├Ęs scarf. The staff were briskly cleaning up after the lunch crew had left. Her wine glass was empty and she was about to pour herself another drink.
He grabbed the bottle out of her hand. ‘I bet you haven’t eaten.’
‘Thanks for coming. Can count on you. Was going to phone Foxy but didn’t think she would be able to get away.’
‘Probably not. Have you eaten?’
She smiled, fingering the rim of her wine glass. ‘Whaddya think, Beattie? No, I haven’t.’
‘You will now.’ He scanned the menu, called one of the waitresses over and ordered a lasagna.
‘You?’
‘For you. I’ve already had lunch.’
‘Have a drink. My card’s behind the bar. Stick it on my tab. One more is not going to matter.’
‘I’ll pass.’ He thought they might take a taxi to his car park and then he could drive her.
‘Not like you. Like you. Like you. I do. I really do’ She reached out across the table for his hand.
‘Storm! Just drink some water will you.’ He opened a bottle of San Pellegrino and they both watched the bubbles in the glass.
‘Bubbles, pretty bubbles. Why are you so good to me?’
‘I’m not. Just want to make sure you get home safe and sound.’
Storm had other ideas. She wanted him to take her to a bar in Clerkenwell where a friend was having her own farewell party before leaving for Australia.
‘Got to go. Texted me. Got to go. She insists.’
‘Not until you’ve eaten something. At least.’ He thought it would provide some motivation.
The lasagna duly arrived and Storm ate it eyeing Beattie and the wine bottle.
‘Can’t I have another drink?’
‘Water.’
‘You have one then. Finish the bottle. Don’t want to waste it. Then see about my tab.’
‘First the water.’
‘Ok, ok.’ She shuddered as she took a sip of the San Pellegrino.
Beattie went over to the bar and sorted her tab. He returned with the credit card and receipt for her to sign.
‘Much? How much?’
‘Over four hundred!’
‘Christ! Bloody bankers. And all the back office staff too. Eh well.’ She signed with a sigh.
Beattie didn’t think much of bankers at the best of times but was really pissed that they’d drunk at her behest, charged everything to her card and abandoned her.
‘Had to get back to work. The market doesn’t stop. Except for me.’
‘What’ll you do now?’
‘Haven’t a clue. Something will come along. It always does. Let’s finish the bottle.’
Once she’d demolished the lasagna he poured each of them a half glass of the white wine which it didn’t take long to finish.
‘It’s time we moved on. You up to it?’
‘Give me your arm, Beattie, you lovely man.’
She struggled to her feet leaning heavily on him and they swayed towards the door.
‘Wait, wait. Please. Gotta pee. Loo’s here. Take me in.’
‘Storm!’
‘It’ll be alright. Don’t make a fuss. Don’t want to piss my pants or go all over the floor.’
He stood her in the cubicle. ‘Make sure you…’
‘Yes, yes. Good grief, man. You’d think I was a little girl. Promise to behave. Do you want to see me take off my knickers? Thought not. Go now and wait outside for me.’
There was a marked improvement in her deportment as she came out of the loo. However she took his arm to mount the stairs and would not let go as they waited for a taxi. He hoped she had forgotten about her other farewell party but she had not. She insisted they go.
‘Look, I’ll drop you off there and then go and pick up the car. Then we can get back to the flat in Pimlico.’ There was no way he wanted to take her on to her own place.
She agreed to the plan and as she stepped out of the taxi she turned and smiled. ‘Foxy’s a lucky girl. Why are you only my tennis partner?’
His mind was running to tennis as he went to fetch his BMW. Storm played a mean doubles game. They’d entered tournaments in London, Berkshire, Hampshire and East Sussex with Foxy happy to see them go. Even all the way through her pregnancy she played. Towards the end she could not run round very much but still dominated the net. Their opponents found her already large breasts difficult to avoid watching as they rose and fell with her every breath – a thing of beauty and a joy forever!
Back at the bar in Clerkenwell Storm was waiting for him. Her friend had already left. Beattie was relieved at this news although he was sure Storm had indulged in at least another glass of wine while he was away. As she slid into the seat she arched over and tried to kiss him on the mouth. He pulled back and her lips brushed his cheek. Her green eyes flashed as she turned away.
They did not speak as he headed down Farringdon Road towards the Thames. He would take his customary rat run south of the river and back across Lambeth Bridge to Pimlico. Storm had a benign expression on her face. She liked being driven.
When they reached Blackfriars Bridge, without a word, she unfastened her seat belt, leaned over and adroitly pulled down the zip of his suit trousers and reached for his cock.
‘Storm! What on earth?’
‘Shush, Beattie. You’ll like it.’
And in the midst of the traffic crossing the bridge she began skillfully to suck the tip of his cock while holding the growing shaft between her hands. He squirmed momentarily in his seat, trying to fend her off with one hand.
‘I’m going to stop the car.’
‘What? And back up all the traffic behind you? I don’t think so.’
Beattie could see in his mirrors what seemed an endless line of traffic. She was right. After a further effort to pull her up from his lap he abandoned himself to her determined and vigorous attentions. There was no way out and he could not, would not make a scene. He just hoped no oncoming lorry or pedestrians would be able to see what was going on. Her mouth was wet, almost as wet as a baby’s kiss, and, despite feeling guilty, he was very aroused. She kept curling back his foreskin with her tongue, gently caressing him. He looked straight ahead, focused on tightening all his muscles, and resisted the urge to explode.
This resistance only made the moment more intense. By the time they crossed Lambeth Bridge he was in agony, a delicious agony and by the time they reached Pimlico he knew he would not be able to prevent his orgasm. She had become more insistent and took him to another level of pleasure going down deeper and deeper on him.
‘Look, Storm, I’m going to come. You’ll have to swallow.’
‘But, Beattie,’ she half chuckled, her mouth full, ‘I’ve told you before I just don’t do that.’
‘This time. Please. For me.’
‘No. No. Not even now. Not even for you.’
And by the time they were turning into Alderney Street within sight of his flat, with Storm knowing the inevitable and clutching his cock in both hands, he ejaculated what seemed an enormous jet of fluid which spilled out over her hands.
‘Oh God, oh God! Quick, there’s a box of Kleenex in the glove compartment. We’ve got to clear up this mess.’
Storm did not help by rubbing his cock with the tissue, not letting him subside, as he parked. She was laughing, gales of laughter emerging from that wicked mouth of hers, as she thrust his cock back in his pants and pulled up his zip.
‘There. There. No one will know.’
By the time he got her up to the flat her ebullience had diminished and after she had visited the bathroom he took off her shoes and lay her down on the black leather couch in the living room. Within seconds she was asleep and he went searching for a comforter to cover her, thinking how he would explain all this to Foxy when she got back from work, and whether he would tell her that her best friend had fellated him while he was driving across Blackfriars Bridge!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Kipling, Durrell and me: how the novel works...

The Cushion Effect undoubtedly combines the dual elements of what Rudyard Kipling called “the game” and “the quest”, as exemplified in Kim, which Lawrence Durrell, also a proponent of these two fictional elements in nearly all his stories, identified as his bedside book. I suppose by the side of my pillow is the redoubtable The Revolt of Aphrodite, or Tunc and Nunquam as they are entitled as the individual novels published by Faber and Faber. I have long since abandoned The Alexandria Quartet to the ottoman at the foot of my bed.

The three central female characters in The Cushion Effect chase the game, the secret that must be discovered in the novel’s denouement, centred on Catherine’s husband’s midlife crisis. Yet at the same time a second game is played through Naomi and her cushion, which contains an intimate missive. The interior quest, the individual’s pursuit of self-knowledge, runs parallel to the public game or games. It is present in all three women with differing outcomes. Ultimately the focus of attention for the quest is how Leanne emerges by the end of the book, but it is deliberately held in the balance until the very last paragraph. Leanne is the everywoman of The Cushion Effect whereas Catherine and Naomi are its pragmatic professional and impetuous romantic extremes.  

I can see clearly now how my novel evolved although the writing of it took many drafts. My literary forbears have much of the responsibility for that and the methods I use to draw out the sketch of an idea until it is sufficient of a storyline to receive additional embellishment. It is not a way to write a novel a year. I certainly cannot recommend it. Nevertheless it is my way. And the ideas grow into sketches, the sketches into stories and the stories into novels in some haphazard laboratory of the mind and soul. My bench is awash with literary life forms in various stages of development and decay, some oozing life, some barely changing cells and taking in oxygen and water. It is hard to admit that this is not exciting. It’s … a life. My life.


My thanks to Richard Pine, editor of Lawrence Durrell’s Judith: A Novel, whose 2012 introduction to the aforesaid work has inspired my thoughts.