Tag Archives: humour

Beware! The Peckish Dead are abroad!

With his third adventure now available, here are some thoughts about unlikely hero, Hector Mortlake.
The Man
Working as a hack writer, Hector Mortlake when we first meet him is single and seeking inspiration.  He embarks on a trans-European journey and, inspired by Chaucer, decides to collect tales from his fellow travellers with a view to deciding a winner.  Hector is a bit of a prig but basically a decent cove.  And he’s gay, which, at the fag end of the 19th century is not quite the thing to be.  He meets a younger man named Cuthbert on the Orient Express and they team up to defeat a horrific Water Nymph.  Hector enjoys lording it over his new valet although it is quite clear the pair are devoted to each other, and it is Cuthbert who most often ‘wears the trousers’, so to speak.
Hector’s past is much of a mystery – he’s remaining tight-lipped about his background but I suspect details will be teased out in future novels.  We know he has aspirations to move in higher social circles and would love to earn enough from writing to be able to retire.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that he is good enough!
The other love of his life is his car, Bessie, an early Mercedes Benz.
Bessie
The Books
We first meet our arrogant narrator in KISS OF THE WATER NYMPH – an account that turns out to be his first bestseller.
Kiss+of+the+Water+NymphHis second exploit, XOLOTL STRIKES! turns out to be his first flop, despite being as outrageous and outlandish an adventure as the first.
xolotl
Now, his third and craziest tale is available to the public – will Hector achieve his goal and re-top the bestseller list?  Or will he be consigned to the bargain bucket of poorly-selling fiction?
peckish
Victorian hack Hector Mortlake and his trusty valet Cuthbert are at it again. This third outing takes them to the Scottish Highlands – but that’s just the start. A mysterious portal and a ghostly gang of ghouls threaten to separate the pair for good. With a host of new characters and their craziest story yet, Hector and Cuthbert deliver high adventure and shameless innuendo in equal measure. Fans of William Stafford’s inimitable style will not be disappointed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Novel

RIP Raffles

“Hello, Timmy,” David grinned on the doorstep.  “Thought you might need some company?”

Timmy looked puzzled.  “Why?”

“Because – you know – Raffles.”

Timmy nodded.  He beckoned David in.  “I’m all right,” he said.  “Raffles is in a better place, Mummy says.”

“Oh, what’s this?”  Timmy’s mother emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.  “Talking about me behind my back!  Hello, David.  Staying for dinner?”

“Um…”

“You’re very welcome.  There’s more than enough.  Now, you two go up to Timmy’s room and play quietly.  I’ll call you down when it’s ready.”

“Thanks, Mum!” Timmy pounded up the stairs.

David lingered in the hall.  “Is he all right, Mrs Farrell?  I thought he’d be sad.”

“You’re a good friend,” Mrs Farrell smiled.  “And losing a pet can be tough.  Did you know, Raffles was as old as Timmy?  That’s quite old for a dog.”

David did the mental arithmetic.  “Raffles was 70!”

“Yes.  But he’s not in pain any more.  Now, you run along.”

She went back to the kitchen.  David caught a whiff of the dinner to come.  It smelled delicious.

He joined Timmy in his room for a quick game of superheroes, bashing action figures into each other and doing all the sound effects with their mouths.

“Timmy…” said David, toying with a figure of Wonder Hound.  “It’s OK, you know.  If you want to talk about Raffles.”

Timmy scrunched his nose.  “What for?”

“Perhaps you could write it down.  Then you could bury it.  With him.  With Raffles.”

Timmy looked aghast.

“It could help you.  That’s what funerals do.  They help people.  When my gran –”

But Timmy wasn’t listening.  He bombarded Mr Terrific into Blast-o-path, making noises like explosions.  David sat back and watched his friend.  Bottling things up; that’s what Timmy is doing, David diagnosed.  And that’s never good – not according to David’s mother’s magazines, anyway.

Mrs Farrell called them from the foot of the stairs.  Dinner was ready.

“Looks delicious, Mrs Farrell,” David tucked a napkin under the collar of his Fabulous Five T-shirt.  “And it smells – like heaven!”

Mrs Farrell grinned.  “I’m glad you approve, David.  It’s nice to get a compliment.”  She sent a meaningful glare across the table to her husband, who was already tucking in.  “Roger,” she hissed.  “The prayer!”

David dropped his knife and fork.  He had forgotten that Timmy’s family were quite religious and did things David and his family did not do at home.  He decided the best thing would be to close his eyes and bow his head.

“We thank Raffles for the time he shared with us and the love he gave,” Timmy’s father intoned.  David thought he heard Timmy sniff back a tear.  “And we say our final farewell to him with this commemorative repast.  So be it.”

“So be it,” echoed Mrs Farrell.

“So be it!” said Timmy enthusiastically.  “Come on, David.  Don’t let your dinner go cold!”

David looked up.  The Farrells were all smiles.  They made enthusiastic noises as they devoured the meal Mrs Farrell had prepared.  David tried a forkful of the mashed potato.  It was the creamiest, smoothest he had tasted.  Even the peas – and he had never been a fan of peas – were sweet and – and – minty!  David’s mother would never put mint in the peas.  She would dismiss it as yet another of the Farrells’ odd ways.

“Something wrong, David?”  Mrs Farrell gave him a look of concern.  “You haven’t touched your meat.”

“It’s the best part,” said Mr Farrell.

“I always save it until last,” said David.

“Some people have funny ideas!” Mr Farrell rolled his eyes.  “Get it down you.”

Not wishing to appear rude, David sliced the end off his portion of meat.  It was thick and succulent.  It seemed to melt in his mouth.  But – but – there was something else.  David coughed and spluttered.  Mrs Farrell sprang to her feet and began to pat his back.  David pulled a clump of hair from his mouth.  Long, red hair that reminded him of Raffles.

“Perhaps we should let him choke, love,” chuckled Mr Farrell from the head of the table.  “Lad like him would keep us in dinners for a fortnight.”

dog

 

2 Comments

Filed under Short story

Meanwhile, in the trendy restaurant…

The waiter, dressed in cycling shorts, helmet and a bright yellow jersey as if he had just won the Tour de France, approached the table with a wary smile.  The couple looked apprehensive and were glancing around with increasing uncertainty at their surroundings.  The restaurant was festooned with bicycle parts: wheels on every wall, oily chains spanning the ceiling.  Handlebars adorned the backs of chairs, the seats of which were uncomfortably shaped like bicycle saddles.

“Do you need a few more minutes?”

The man cleared his throat; the woman looked askance.  The man jabbed his finger at the menu, which was shaped like a bicycle wheel.

“Soup of the day.  What is it?”

“It’s Tuesday.”

“Not the day, the soup.”

“Heh.  Just my little joke.  It’s spicy parsnip.”

The woman nodded enthusiastically.  “Sounds lovely, David.”

“She’ll have the soup.  I’ll have the uh…” the man’s eyes flicked up and down the list.  “The spring rolls.”

“Very good, sir, madam.  And for second gear?”

“What do you mean, ‘gear’?”

“It’s a gimmick, sir.  Here at Spokes, we have something of a bicycle theme going on; it may have escaped your notice.”

“For mains,” the man said emphatically, “I’ll have fish and chips and Sarah will have the moules mariniere.”

The woman nodded rapidly.

“Right you are,” the waiter jotted a note.  “I’ll just fetch you your drinks.”

He flitted to the bar and came back with a tray.  The man scowled.

“What’s this?”

“Your pint of lager and the lady’s sauvignon blanc.  Is that not right, sir?”

“No, that’s right, but –”

“David!” the woman snapped.  “Don’t make a scene.”

“But look at them!  I can’t – we can’t be expected to drink out of oil cans.  It’s not sanitary.”

The waiter pursed his lips.  “I can give sir every reassurance these cans have been thoroughly, not to mention industrially, cleaned.”

“It’s fine,” the woman smiled thinly.

“Like hell it is,” the man slapped the table.  “What’s wrong with proper glasses?”

“Like I said, here at Spokes we have a theme.”

“I don’t give a monkey’s fart about your bloody theme.  Fetch me a proper glass or you’ll find yourself in need of a puncture repair kit.”

The man grinned as the waiter scurried away.

“There was no need for that,” the woman wailed.  She tried to sip wine from the nozzle of her oil can.

The waiter returned.  “I can offer sir a trophy.  First place, no less.  I can decant sir’s beer into it in two shakes.”

“Fuckinell,” said the man.  “Oh, go on then.”

While the waiter tipped the lager into a gilded trophy with ornate handles, the woman paled.

“Excuse me.  Do all the meals come like that?”

“Like what, madam?”

“On wheels!”

The couple watched in horror as a second waiter carried bicycle wheels flat like platters, dripping sauce from one and gravy from another as he passed.

“Here at Sp -” the waiter tried to recite.

“You have a fucking gimmick!” the man roared.

“But – I ordered the soup!” the woman gasped.  “How will that work?”

“It’ll be fine!” said the waiter.  “Keep the wheel spinning fast enough and the wossname – the centrifugal force – will keep the soup in place.”

The woman whimpered.

“This is ridiculous,” the man got to his feet.  “Come on, love; we’re going.”

The woman winced apologetically and stood.

“We’ll try that new place over the road,” the man said loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear.  “What’s it called, love?”

Snake-in-a-Basket,” said the waiter, holding the door open.  “Good luck to you.”

bike

1 Comment

Filed under Short story

Demon Drinks

“Having another?” Bexhor hitched himself onto the bar stool next to Cardoom’s.  Cardoom drained the suds from the bottom of his glass.

“Don’t mind if I do!”  He wiped a clawed hand over his pointed chin.  Bexhor beckoned to the barmaid.

“Another one of these for my friend, I’ll have the same.”

The barmaid barely seemed to acknowledge him but she set to fulfilling his order.

“Rough day?” Bexhor clinked his glass against Cardoom’s.  Cardoom grunted.  “Tell me about it.  We’ve never been so busy.  I’m run off my cloven hooves.  I’ve got to go back up there later, do another shift.  But I thought I’d slip in here for a crafty one. It’s not like they can send me to hell for it, is it?”

He laughed; Cardoom didn’t.

“I mean,” Bexhor continued, “Things are worse than ever up there,” he nodded at the ceiling, meaning the world beyond.  “I mean, there’s all the usual stuff: the killings and the maimings and the rapes – I mean, that’s what I signed up for.  But it’s all the low-level stuff – it really takes it out of you.  You know what I mean.  All the pettiness.  All the bitching.  I blame the internet – The boss thought it was one of his better ideas at the time but I think even he’s beginning to regret it.  We just can’t cope.  We haven’t got the staff.  Take tonight, for instance.  I’ve got to go up there, find some miserable wanker in a bedsit and inspire him to attack a celebrity for no reason at all.  And what’s he done, this celebrity?  Expressed concern about refugees!  Now, you know me, I can’t abide a do-gooder but that lot – they’re savage.  They shout down any sign of compassion and are up in arms at the first sign of correction.  It’s getting out of hand.  The selfishness, the small-minded, bigoted, xenophobic nastiness – Makes me feel like a spare part, if I’m honest.  Time was you could whisper in an Englishman’s ear and he’d go and rob a bank or drop his chewing gum on the pavement – I love it when they do that – but now, if they get so much as a whiff of brimstone, they turn on you, and it’s piss off, red skin, take your horns and your pitchfork back where you came from.  I’m telling you, if things carry on the way they’re going, I’m thinking of going over to the other side.  That’s right.  At least, up there, you’re on the right side – frankly, I don’t want to associate with British society anymore; I just hope I won’t be fighting a losing battle.  We’re victims of our own success, you see.  Wrong-doing and wrong-thinking has become the norm for them and woe betide anyone who thinks otherwise.  People who deviate from the new norm are the outlaws.  Doing good is the new doing evil.  Makes you think…

“Fancy another?  I feel like staying here and getting rat-arsed, if I’m honest.  That lot can do my job without me.  Hey!  I wonder if we’ll get redundancy?  We should you know, by rights.  Should be more than enough to invest in a set of wings and a halo…  Hey, love, same again.  And a packet of crisps and all.  Cheers.”

 demon

1 Comment

Filed under Short story

House Hunters

The young man pinched the bridge of his nose.  It had been a long day, during which the lesson had been reinforced: you just can’t please some people.  He tried to maintain an air of professional patience while his clients, an elderly couple, dithered and prevaricated.

“I don’t know,” said the old woman.

“I don’t know,” said the old man.  “It’s just not ticking the boxes.”

“No,” said the old woman.

“No,” said the old man.  “The last place you showed us was better.”

“Yes,” said the old woman.

“Yes,” said the old man.  “That place ticked a few boxes.”

The young man couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  “The lighthouse?” he gasped.  “The decommissioned lighthouse?  You hated it.  You said it was too remote.”

“It was,” said the old woman.

“It was,” said the old man.  “And we’d never get any peace.  All those waves crashing about on the rocks.”

“Ooh, no,” said the old woman.

“Ooh, no,” said the old man.

“Let me get this straight,” wailed the young man.  “You’re saying this eighteenth century coach house is worse than the decommissioned lighthouse – and you hated the lighthouse.”

“Yes,” said the old woman.

“Yes,” said the old man.

“So,” the young man could feel one of his headaches coming on, “Let’s review.  You don’t like this place, you didn’t like the lighthouse.  What about the first place I showed you?”

“Which one was that?” said the old woman.

“Which one was that?” said the old man.  “Oh, yes.  The barn conversion.”

“Ooh, no,” said the old woman.

“Ooh, no,” said the old man.  “It didn’t have the wow factor.”

Give me strength, groaned the young man.

“I think it’s your best bet.  Not too noisy, not too quiet.  You’ll get on with the other tenants.”

“Ooh, no!” cried the old woman.

“Ooh, no!” cried the old man.  “We can’t be doing with that.  We can’t be doing with sharing.”

Despite his best efforts, the young man was wilting visibly.  The old man nodded to his wife and drew the young man aside.

“Listen, sonny.  Me and the Mrs have been together all our lives.  Since primary school – before that, even.  And we’ve never spent any time apart.  It’s always been just me and her, her and me, and that’s the way it’s going to be forever and ever, amen.  They want to split us up, put her in a home.  Well, I’m not standing for that.  Oh, no!  But if you’re not up to the job, if you can’t provide the service we’re paying you for – well, we won’t waste any more of your time.”

The young man closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  “So, what’s it going to be, the lighthouse?”

“No,” said the old woman.

“No,” said the old man.  “It’s been a long day.  We’re tired.  You’re tired.  Here will do fine.”

“What, here? But you –” The young man stopped himself.  They had come to a decision at last.  Best not to question it.

“It’s fine, love,” the old woman smiled.

“It’s fine, son,” the old man smiled.  “As long as we’re together.  That’s what matters.”

“Right,” the young man clapped his hands.  “There is just the matter of my fee.”

The old man swiped his finger across his phone.  The device beeped agreeably.  “Bank transfer complete!”  He showed the young man the screen.

“Right,” said the young man.  “Brilliant.  This is it, then.”

“This is it,” said the old woman.

“This is it,” said the old man.

He reached for his wife’s gnarled hand.  The old couple closed their eyes and smiled while the young man sliced open their throats with a razor.

The old couple slumped and toppled into a pool of their commingling blood.  As they died, the young man took out his phone and checked his bank balance.

“Nice.”

He took one last look around the coach house.  Not a bad place in which to spend the rest of eternity, he reckoned.  Especially when you get to share it with the love of your life.

At the door, he called back to the old couple, wondering if they could hear him.

“Happy haunting!”

 pink-and-white-lighthouse-md

1 Comment

Filed under Short story

New book out now!

My 24th novel has been published this week.  It’s my most complex – it’s certainly the lengthiest! – a fantasy adventure, complete with my sense of humour, of course.

NAVARIN, THUNDER AND SHADE

A young man and his strange companion, a weary warrior out for vengeance, a young girl on the run with a child, and a trio of wizards bent on ruling the world are just some of the characters in this epic fantasy adventure from prolific author William Stafford. Fans can expect his trademark humour as well as plenty of action and originality in this all-new addition to the fantasy genre.

navarin

Buy the book here!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Novel

Sneak peek: Trapping Fog

My current work-in-progress (my 25th novel, no less) is a murder mystery set in Victorian London.  A Jack-the-Ripper type is at large, carving up prostitutes, but is there more to the killer than meets the eye?  And what of the enigmatic Doctor Hoo and his arcane experiments?

The book has elements of horror and the macabre, and more than a hint of steampunk but, as with all my other books, it’s the humour that rules the roost.

Here’s a snippet from the opening chapter in which our narrator, Damien Deacus, finds himself in a tight spot…

***

I pounded my fists on the underside of the coffin lid. It did not budge. Neither did it make a hollow sound.

Crap, I thought. I’m buried alive.

Again!

I lay still and wondered how long I would have to wait this time, casting my mind back to the last thing I could remember before my death – before my ‘supposed’ death.

A hospital. Well, more of a dumping ground, really, for the sick and infirm of old London Town. The place had been packed, crammed to the rafters, with people in need – and the din! It was like Bedlam – which was across the road. The doctors couldn’t cope. It was all they could do to provide enough space for the poor bastards to get horizontal. And they was all poor – of course they was. No one with any money would be seen dead in a place like that.

I reckoned it had been about mid-afternoon when I was pronounced (presumed!) dead. That meant another few hours until dusk and then a few more until midnight. Doctor Hoo would probably wait until then before he came to retrieve his employee.

Mind you, I don’t know how long I’ve been out, I reflected. I’d taken the powder like he told me – I could still take its vile bitterness – and let it work its magic. I can only assume Doctor Hoo had strode in, cloak swirling, and imperiously demanded the urgent removal of the corpse. Contamination, he would have said, along with a few other big words. The fellow must be interred with the utmost urgency.

And they, the overworked doctors and nurses, would have been impressed by his haughty manner, his implacable features, his hundred-yard stare. More than anything they would be glad of one less poor bugger to think of, one less drop to worry about in this ocean of human misery.

The rozzers might even have heard about my demise by now… I couldn’t help smiling, even in my coffin – There’s not many people what can say that, is there? They can cross me off their list of wanted men. I am free!

Well, apart from the whole being-shut-up-in-a-coffin thing, but that was only a temporary inconvenience.

No, Damien, I warned myself. You take it easy. Doctor Hoo has come through for you yet again and all you have to do now is lie back, get some kip maybe, and try not to think of how full your bloody bladder is right now…

It was easy to doze off. The powder was still in my system. I could only hope I wouldn’t piss myself while I slept.

Hurry up, Doctor Hoo! Get me out of here!

coffin-md

3 Comments

Filed under Novel, Preview

New book on the loose!

Very pleased to announce the publication of my twentieth novel, the seventh case for Dedley detectives Brough and Miller, ZORILLA AT LARGE!

With an escaped animal and a serial killer on the loose, Brough, Miller and the rest of the Serious Crimes Division have never been busier. Meanwhile, foul-mouthed Chief Inspector Wheeler is swearier than ever, faced with the toughest decision of her career. The Dedley detectives are back in their seventh – and funniest – investigation.

large zorilla at largeBuy the book!

Leave a comment

Filed under Novel

Next: a book with bite!

I’m currently preparing the manuscript of my next novel for submission to my publisher. Feedback from my readers is good – the book is a little different from the others.

It’s set at the end of the 19th century. Hack writer Hector Mortlake is travelling across Europe in the hope of finding inspiration for a new story. He enlists the people he meets to take part in a story-telling competition (much like The Canterbury Tales) and so the narrative is broken up with the short stories as the characters tell them. I tried to make sure each story is in keeping with the style, period and theme of the main plot. Variations on a theme, you might say.

I’d wanted to write a vampire story – but these have been done to death lately. As a compromise a couple of the short stories have vampire themes: my homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which came out around the time my book is set.

As a child I loved to stay up late to watch late-night horror films on BBC2. Hammer Horrors like The Reptile reptile_poster_01

and The Blood Beast Terror

BloodBeastTerrorUKquad

have influenced this book, and then recently I watched Ken Russell’s film adaptation of Stoker’s The Lair of the White Worm (I’d found the book hard-going) and loved it (Check it out: not only is a floppy-haired Hugh Grant in it, but there’s also an early appearance from the Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi).lair_of_white_worm_poster_02 Russell’s film tickled me with its saucy humour. This is right up my alley, I thought. Readers of my books will know I can’t resist innuendo – this book is perhaps the most riddled with them.

It’s called KISS OF THE WATER NYMPH and I’m very pleased with it.

Watch this space for more news.

1 Comment

Filed under Novel

NEW BOOK – out now!

My latest novel WHERE THE BEE SUCKS is available now from Omnilit.com.  Amazon and iTunes etc will soon follow suit. .

ImageControversial television historian Hank Brownlow comes to England to research his latest outlandish theory about Shakespeare but finds he is not alone in his quest. Someone else is following the same trail and people are ending up dead. Meaniwhile, in Stratford upon Avon, disgruntled tour guide Harry is visited by a stranger who claims to be a character from ‘The Tempest‘. Author of Leporello On The Lam and the Brough & Miller series, William Stafford has created a satirical contemporary fantasy with a lively sense of humour.

Leave a comment

Filed under Novel