Bragging and Flogging by Colin Cotteril

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So, anyway, an email came pouring in after last week’s blog (my computer is telling me that ‘blog’ isn’t a real word. It’s suggesting I mean either ‘brag’ or ‘flog’. I suppose that speaks for itself, doesn’t it?) asking me how I could be so cruel as to leave said reader on the edge of his or her chair. I had sent the first installment of my exciting adventures at Harrogate Crime Writers festival in England. S/he was obviously marooned on a sandbank in the Wye river, desperate for entertainment and had singled me out to provide it. I’d rather been hoping to stretch this story out for another two months but I’d hate to be responsible for said reader falling off of his/her chair into the slow-moving grey waters of Wales. So I’ll wrap it up here.

We all had a good time and came home.

Okay. I just sent that off and it came back to me with an ‘unfinished’ sticker. That Moore bloke is a tough task master. I have no idea how he talked me into braflogging for him in the first place. I thought we’d have fifty international crime writers on our site and I’d only have to contribute once a quarter. But he has me churning out one a week. How on earth am I going to find anything to write about? I do nothing for months at a time. All right. I’m a fictionalist so I can make it up.

(continued)

Having been banned from the main event, Jess and I had retired immediately to the bar of the Crown hotel where we remained for two days. (I haven’t started making it up yet) The Friday night’s drinking was disturbed temporarily when the tsunami swept across Yorkshire. The consensus was that nobody could have predicted it. Global warming was really messing up the weather patterns around the world and not even last month’s tornado that interrupted the Lord’s test match against Australia had prepared the British for this. But it is with pride that I am able to report that the famous stiff upper lip of we ancestors of marauding thugs from Europe provided enough support to continue to pour Theakston’s Old Peculier down our gullets. We shrugged off the water and cheered our defiance. Not a writer was lost. Not even the French who are renowned for being washed away at the slightest excuse.

Jess and I still had our feet planted on either side of a center beam which had held us up through two nights of serious drinking. I was determined to become a best-selling author and I knew that in order to do so I had to be drunk for the entire three days of the festival. I had twenty-four hours to go. Awards go to the last man or woman standing at these events. Famous people merged in and out of our blurred vision between the pink elephants. I swear Lee Child nodded at me but he might have just been shaking a drip of rainwater from his forehead. Peter Robinson asked me to send him a short story for his next anthology but he intimated it didn’t have to be one of mine. In fact, it’s possible he insisted it wasn’t. Laura Lipman reminded me I owed her eleven drinks from the last literary event we attended but she had nothing in writing and I fobbed her off with another cheap Thai souvenir. I told Val McDermid my wife was also a baker and looked forward to chatting with her about dough and pastry and the like. The p/matriarch of English psychological terror – with a late breakfast beer in hand – told me she didn’t bake. Either she was playing with my mind or you can’t believe what you read on the internet. No. The latter is unthinkable.

“Excuse me, Mr. Cotterill. You appear to have dropped something.”

“They’re just names and… it wasn’t me. They were already there on the floor, I swear.”

I kept checking the clock. Only one more full swing of the little hand and I could board the train to Leeds and all points south. Next year’s Harrogate best book prize as good as won. A full day to recover at my mum’s before the flight to Bangkok. But I wasn’t up to it. Jess carried me across the manicured lawns to the Du Vin where I was uncorked and allowed to breath. I have no recollection of the last day although I’m certain there was one. I came to on the UFO where small purple men in high heels were decanting my blood and doing experiments on my hands. They appear to have removed both my typing fingers. So it obviously wasn’t me who wrote this flobrag.

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