SUITE 212

You can now listen to my interview on Resonance FM, on the Suite 212 show hosted by Tom Overton and Juliet Jacques.

I was on the show discussing Hollow Shores, Judderman and the upcoming The White Heron Beneath the Reactor, covering a range of topics including Derek Jarman, Dungeness, punk rock, birdwatching and the apocalypse. Enjoy!

HOW TO USE PLACE AND SETTING IN YOUR FICTION

February 12th 2019, I am running a workshop at the Idea Store in Whitechapel – HOW TO USE PLACE AND SETTING IN YOUR FICTION. All the information can be found here: https://www.spreadtheword.org.uk/events/how-to-use-place-and-setting-in-your-fiction-with-gary-budden/


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ABOUT THE EVENT

In this two-hour workshop the author of Hollow Shores, Gary Budden, will talk you through how to maximise the locations you use to set your fictions in, discussing what role the landscapes – rural, suburban and urban – play in the stories we tell and how they affect the narrative.

Looking at key examples in fiction followed by writing exercises, this session will give you the tools to you make the most of your setting, be it an evocative background or the central driver of your narrative.

THE CARDINAL AND THE CORPSE

As a long-time reader of the work of Iain Sinclair, and an admirer of the work of novelist and filmmaker Chris Petit (his novel Robinson is one of the best London fictions out there), I have been aware of The Cardinal and the Corpse for about fifteen years, never with the opportunity to watch it. Until now, as someone has finally uploaded the whole thing to YouTube.

The fictional documentary is ostensibly about a search for a magical book that holds the key to an area of eat London (Alan Moore leads the search, fully bearded and doing his best attempt at acting), and a Sexton Blake detective novel The Cardinal and the Corpse, which may have been written by Flann O’Brien. At least that’s what I think is going on. In reality it’s Sinclair and Petit filming their mates and writers they find interesting in seductively shabby parts of a London now vanished. It’s an unfortunately (and overwhelmingly) male bunch, and there’s an odd amount of romanticising East End gangsters too, something familiar to anyone who has read Sinclair’s books. I’ll be charitable and say: it was 1992.

However, the film is of great interest as it features onscreen some writers (many deceased) whose work I love – Derek Raymond (I Was Dora Suarez), Emanuel Litvinoff (Journey Through a Small Planet), Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock – as well as interesting figures like David Seabrook (All the Devils Are Here), Brian Catling, Martin Stone and the semi-mythic (and intensely irritating) rare book dealer Driffield, who turned out to be a rather unsavoury character.

The biggest thrill for me was seeing the late Alexander Baron, who died in 1999, discussing Hackney and how even after he’d left it to move to Golders Green, he returned to walk the streets as ‘a kind of ghost haunting the whole borough’. Having been on Backlisted Podcast this year to discuss his phenomenal 1963 novel, The Lowlife, I would say he haunts Hackney still.

You can watch it here.

C4, 1992 (this rpt 25/01/1998): "Exec-produced by Keith Griffiths, producer of Radio On, The Cardinal and the Corpse marks the beginning of Petit's loose partnership with writer Iain Sinclair. There's a nod towards narrative here involving a book-search launched by graphic novelist Alan Moore and a dealer (the dapper but barking Driffield), but it's little more than an excuse to showcase a number of authors and other miscreants.

CHILDREN OF THE SUN

‘He reads on the brickwork: “NF FUCKS MEN”. And is not displeased.”
– Iain Sinclair, Suicide Bridge

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 As readers of my work will know, I have a long-standing interest in British subcultures, especially those that sprang from the original punk and skinhead movements in London. I read a lot of literature on the subject; anyone looking for books that deal well with this stuff, I would recommend Stewart Home’s mashups of genre theory and Richard Allen-style pulp (books like Defiant Pose and Red London), John King’s novels, Human Punk and Skinheads, Robert Sproat’s title story from the collection Stunning the Punters, and the work of Laura Oldfield Ford.

Despite being published in 2010, I only heard about Max Schaefer’s novel Children of the Sun (Granta) very recently, when I was re-reading a 2013 BBC article about the notorious and feared far-right skinhead Nicky Crane. The title of the piece was, The secret double life of a gay neo-Nazi. A fascinating hypocrisy, and the core contradiction that fuels Schaefer’s intriguing, and at times brilliant, novel. To me, it’s glaringly obvious that the hyper-masculine world of far-right skinheads has a homoerotic component, but this is an idea that fascism necessarily cannot support.

Children of the Sun focuses on Tony, a closeted neo-Nazi skinhead and his life from 1970 up into the nineties – via racist attacks, prison stretches, Skrewdriver and Brutal Attack gigs, battles with AFA, and clandestine homosexual encounters in dank London toilets – and James, a middle-class gay guy in the mid-noughties fascinated by Nicky Crane and the fascist skin subculture, who gets sucked into the swamp of neo-Nazi imagery and the often bizarre occult theories running through it.

The novel spends a lot of time in dark and murky areas, and with unpleasant characters. Ian Stuart – founder of explicitly racist band Skrewdriver and the Blood & Honour group – appears frequently, as do politicians like Nick Griffin, and even Savitri Devi. Devi, for what it’s worth, is the woman who believed Hitler was an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu bringing on the Kali Yuga. Obviously.

I was aware of much of this history prior to reading the book, and am sadly all too aware of the legacy of fascist punk and skinhead bands that continues to this day. So the book isn’t for everyone, but essential for anybody interested in the hidden, violent and often strange history of the battles between the far-right and the anti-fascist movement in Britain.

For anyone interested in delving a bit deeper into this stuff, I would recommend reading Stewart Home’s analysis of the Oi! scene here: https://www.stewarthomesociety.org/cranked/street.htm

And the deeply unpleasant Skrewdriver here: https://www.stewarthomesociety.org/cranked/skrew.htm

Both are chapters from his book Cranked Up Really High: Punk Rock and Genre Theory, made available on his website.

For information on Savitri Devi and her batshit Nazi-Hindu beliefs, I’d recommend this radio documentary: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09b19y4

For a fascinating, fair and measured approach to skinhead culture, Don Letts’ BBC Four documentary is essential.

MACHEN, MILTON, METROPOLITAN

On Saturday 18th August, 2018, Adam Scovell took a trip to the end of the Metropolitan Line to to find the grave of visionary writer Arthur Machen (1863-1967) at St Marys Church in Old Amersham. Machen has been a key influence on my own thinking about place for many years, especially his book The London Adventure (Or, The Art of Wandering), as well as his weird fiction like 'The White People', 'N', 'The Three Impostors' and 'The Great God Pan'.

We then set off on a six mile-ish round trip through the Buckinghamshire landscape of bleak ploughed fields, patches of green woodland, soaring and magnificent red kites, eerie and empty farmland.

We passed through the village of Chalfont St Giles, stopping to see the cottage of John Milton (closed, opposite Milton's Indian Restaurant), and navigating our way through subdued suburbs, interpreting signs that were more hindrance than help as we walked under towering pylons in yellow fields, passing a marquee for a posh-girl's birthday party, through an equestrian centre flitting with barn swallows, before back to Machen and then the tube. 

Photo by Adam Scovell

Photo by Adam Scovell

Paradise lost

Paradise lost

ENFIELD TOWN, WHERE WE PAINTED FIRE ACROSS THE SKYLINE

Old trains clank as they ease in and out of the overground station. We listen to the tannoy admonish a man who rides his bicycle along the platform.

Our neighbour with carcinogenic lungs smokes below, hacks, fights for breath every single day.

There's a low ambient hum to the outer city that I adore, a meshed murmur of commuters' voices, slow moving traffic, station activity, the shrieks of schoolkids, the flap of a wood pigeon's wings.

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Look one way and see the shimmering monuments to excess that form the London skyline. Look the other, over the roofs of the town, to the woods and unexpected green of Trent Park. 

As dusk comes, we paint fire across the skyline.

ENFIELD TOWN IN THE MIST AS THE ASPHODEL MEADOWS

A meadow of endless asphodel flowers, a plant ghostly and pale itself. And if that sounds harsh I don’t mean it to be because it’s more about atmosphere and the mood and the vibe that this weather creates than anything else, and anyway, I would be destined for the Asphodel Meadows myself. A strange nowhere land (never say liminal) between one thing and the other is a kind of heaven itself.

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CONTEMPORARY SMALL PRESS REVIEW

I had a nice write up in The Contemporary Small Press, reviewing the launch night of the Diisonance anthology in Bethnal Green. I read my story (from the forthcoming Hollow Shores) 'The Wrecking Days' at the night:

Gary Budden read from his new story collection The Wrecking Days [NOTE: it's called Hollow Shores] which explores themes of nature and narcotics, writing from the margins of society ‘where reality thinned a little.’ His piece suggested that the artificial and the natural are not opposing at all, instead they are transcendent. Budden writes about youthful and reckless days spent on the London marshes. In such places of in-between, on the fringes of London, Budden writes about notions of being and belonging: the idea that ‘memory is a marsh’ as the world diffuses in mist and nostalgia. The marshes act as a psychogeographical jettison between two places, between city and country, between artifice and nature. Such spaces, as Budden presents in his collection, allowed them to explore their minds, without ‘shutting parts of yourself down.’ It was ‘a way of seeing the world for what it really is,’ to find their own version of what it means to be free: to be and belong on their own terms. But Budden acknowledged, through his tales of the wrecking days, that being able to see the world as it is can also pull you apart.

Read the whole review here

GREENTEETH

You can now watch 'Greenteeth', a short wyrd fiction super-8 film by Adam Scovell, based on my British Fantasy Award-nominated short story of the same name. It follows the gradual disintegration of a woman living on a canal boat in Kensal Green as the folklore of Jenny Greenteeth begins to manifest in a city of rapid redevelopment, rising rents and gentrification. It's an attempt to use folklore and the weird in the service of addressing a real modern problem. Enjoy.