“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” – Dr Johnson
Jode’s going back to school, that’s what Jode is doing next.
Well, back to the Open University to be more precise. You may or may not know that I’ve been underpinning my writing ambitions by doing some OU courses over the last year.
I completed an introductory course for An Introduction To The Arts, as well as Creative Writing: Getting Started.
I’m now on to the big hitters – the 60pointers, as they are called, as they form 60 points each course towards my English degree.
The two courses I’m doing are Creative Writing… and… Beginners’ Italian.
Ok, the writing one speaks for itself, but… Italian?
I love Italian. I love the country, I love the lifestyle, the history, the football, the women (of course) and one day – for a writerly ambition – I would love to own a little villa sat on a hill overlooking the sea while I write my next bestseller. There’s no harm in ambitions is there? And we all know that I have had many, and completed all but one of them so far!! (finishing The Book, that is)
So, between 9am and 2pm every day (and most evenings) I will be studying a language, perfecting my art/writing, as well as churning out more pages for the criminally unloved Book.
By Jody Neil Ruth
Agent Holt’s world was upside down. Literally.
He hung suspended, with his fingertips brushing the concrete floor beneath him, his feet encircled by a noose.
He cursed himself at having trod on the scattered newspapers which had hidden the age-old trap – a trap set by his nemesis – Simeon – who sat before/beneath him, handcuffed to a radiator on the wall.
“So, Mr Holt,” the wiry man smiled, his dark skin and the low lit room emphasising the whites of his large eyes and unnaturally long teeth. “What do we do now?”
“Piss off.” Holt sneered.
Simeon rattled the chain holding him fast to the metallic heating appliance.
“Oh, I would, but I am somewhat indisposed,” he said, his voice calm and melodic.
Holt swung from his tether, his slow rotations allowing him to see Simeon’s smiling face like an upside-down moon orbiting the earth.
“I need to get down from here.” He said, gritting his teeth as he felt bile start to rise in his throat… or descend because of the position he was in.
“I would love to help, Mr Holt,” the criminal grinned, “but since you cuffed me I’m afraid I’m not much help to anyone.”
“You ain’t gonna be helping anyone from the electric chair either, Simeon.” Holt said, the anger making his face even redder as the blood rushed to it. He started to pull himself up his own legs, hand-over-hand, fists grabbing handfuls of his trouser legs.
Reaching the thick rope he struggled to free himself from it such was its tightness. Slowly he began to feel it cutting the circulation off to his feet. Exasperated he let go and fell back to his original position, swinging wildly, not helping his own physical or mental discomfort.
“Oh please,” said Simeon, holding his hand up to block the view as he curled his lip up and balled his free hand against his chest. “You’ll give me motion sickness.”
“I’ll make you feel a whole lot worse when I get down from here.” Holt snarled, once he felt he had the contents of his stomach under a loose control.
“And – pray tell – how will you achieve that? You’ve hunted me for so long that you haven’t been a ‘real’ agent for months. Discharged, I believe. No one knows you are missing, Agent Holt. No one knows where you are. You were very lucky to stumble upon my humble abode here in the hills. We are a long way from civilisation and from any help, so I am intrigued to find out just exactly how you plan to free yourself or to take me in.
“I assume that seeing as you have not produced it yet that your phone is in your vehicle outside?” Simeon continued, his brow slightly furrowing as his mind smoothly flowed into work. “I know that you would not have called back-up as you are forbidden from continuing this case…” his eyes then seemed to sparkle as they grew larger as he leaned forward ever so slightly and whispered; “And I know that you have no partner to follow behind anymore…”
Holt’s momentum slowed enough for him to stare at Simeon, the hulking former-agent of the FBI glaring at the frail, thin, almost ill-looking rapist, paedophile, and murderer of a dozen men, women and children. His anger was such that he found it difficult to move any words past his lips.
Simeon beat him to it.
“Mr Holt,” his mouth full of tombstone-like teeth suddenly grinned, his voice raising several octaves. “I believe that I may well have a solution to our problem. However, it does require an element of trust… on my part at least. ”
Holt could feel the blood pulsing in his temples as he shook, his face burning as his considerable body mass tried to adjust to being the wrong way up.
“Ok,” his voice was strained, his teeth clamped shut as he stared at his foe. “Consider me a captive audience.”
“You have been chasing me for… six years?” asked Simeon, closing one eye thoughtfully, his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth in a childlike gesture.
“Eight years!” Holt spat out his answer, knowing that the man was taunting him. “I’ve been chasing you ever since you gutted little Evie Miller.
“Ah, yes,” Simeon’s eyes seemed to focus on some far away thought, yet his voice continued talking quietly. “Mrs Miller’s pride and joy…” he snapped out of his reverie. “I had to convince them to let me work on their farm just so I could get close enough to that darling little-“
“I don’t want the details!” Holt shouted in anger, his body writhing uselessly. “Get me down from here!”
Simeon raised his free hand, indicating an apology his face did not convey.
“Forgive me, Agent Holt, I digressed.” He waited until Holt’s fury had lessened before continuing, the whole time his eyes watching the sway of the former agent as if hypnotised. Holt couldn’t help but be reminded of a cobra swaying to the sound of a snake charmer, although he wasn’t precisely sure who was which.
“Now, I have a knife on my person that will cut the rope that binds you,” he said. “But in return I want information. I need you to help me with something… A collaboration of minds… ‘teamwork’, even?”
“What sort of information?” Holt asked, his eyes wide and angry as the hatred barely simmered behind his words.
“Do you recall Louisiana, approximately two years ago?” the maniac asked, eyebrow raised.
Holt nodded, his whole body moving slightly due to the motion.
“Russell Martin, twenty four years old, from Akers. We found some of him in Lake Maurepas, and the rest in his home.” said Holt. “He worked as a male prostitute… I didn’t think he would be your type.”
“Oh please,” Simeon said, eyes fluttering and Holt could almost imagine he was blushing. “Anyone is my type, dear.” He said and winked at the agent.
“What about him?” Holt said, desperate to change the direction of the conversation.
“Well,” said Simeon, all pretence vanishing as he sat up, cross-legged, hand still attached to the radiator. “After you had walked in and seen my… ‘artwork’, if you will, and then finished emptying your stomach out of the back window you found something of mine that you took with you.”
“How did you know?” Holt asked, his eyes widening.
“I was under the floorboards, my dear!” Simeon squealed, enjoying the tormented look in the other man’s eyes. “You were so close to catching me that day! Ha!”
“Your bag,” Holt said quickly, his own brain working furiously as he tried not to torment himself about not catching the killer two years ago. It would have saved four other people, his mind lectured him anyway.
“Yes,” Simeon said as he leaned forward. “My bag of tricks.”
“You had knives, a hook, pliers, hammers…”
“Yes, my bag of tricks.” The killer repeated and smiled broadly. “Where is it?”
“In a police evidence locker.”
“Ha!” Simeon pointed an accusing finger at him. “You lie! When I took your partner and strung him up – much like yourself now – and tortured him for hour after long hour he admitted that he had never seen or heard of my bag!”
Holt’s blood pounded in his head and he shook visibly. Simeon had killed his partner a year ago and Holt had been the one who found him, hung from a ceiling and barely resembling that of a human being. He had barely been able to keep his footing amidst the blood and entrails covering the floor.
“Actually, he told me straight away that he didn’t know where my property was,” Simeon said. “But I tortured him anyway…
“So, Agent Holt,” he continued, his mind back on the matter at hand. “Where is it? I bet it’s somewhere you can sit and stare at it from time to time… trying to get in my mind, no?”
Holt swung impotently.
“It won’t help you, but it’s tucked away in my garage.” He said finally. “And when we get out of this and you’re sat smouldering in the chair I’ll destroy it and the world will be rid of you.”
Simeon’s smile broadened. He stood up, rubbing his wrist as Holt stared dumbly at the handcuffs attached to the radiator, empty of Simeon’s hand. The killer looked down at them and then back at the agent.
“If the combined forces of the FBI, CIA and police in every state of our fair country couldn’t catch me,” he said. “How the hell do you think I’d let you just walk up to me and cuff me if I wasn’t able to free myself?
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and retrieve something that belongs to me.” The killer said as he opened the door.
Pausing at its entrance, he poked his head back into the room and spoke quietly;
“I take it your wife and son are home?”
The door clicked shut.
Apologies again for the lack of blogging goodness, but there’s a Bestival going down on the island this week and I’m up to my back wheels in driving Indy Cindies and Hoxteth Heroes around everywhere. Not to mention ‘mates’ who call me up after six months of silence asking if their ‘mate’ Jode can run them to the festival.
On a lighter note, my dream of becoming a published author is looking… looking further along the line than it did this time yesterday. A zed tale I submitted to an anthology has made the second cut, so it’s fingers crossed it might get further! Have also submitted a tale to a Lovecraft anthology. This one was a bugger to write, but once in my stride it started to come naturally. We shall see.
Blog-wise I am shit this week, but I’ve got some big events coming up – a holiday in Valencia, my sisters wedding, an NFL game at Wembley, and a night out in London to watch Too Many DJs.
Stay tuned. Knowing me, things are gonna get interesting!!
I’ve done a lot of exciting things this year, but the build-up to the 2011 South West 4 Festival had got me excited for weeks beforehand. And it didn’t disappoint.
[Disclaimer - this blog is full of swearing, sweat and drug-references. Do not read on if this offends you... actually... if this offends you then you wouldn't read any of my fucking blogs.]
I left the island on the 8.47 catamaran from Ryde Pier after my lovely mum dropped me down there. The train from Portsmouth departed almost straight away and I spent most of the journey Tweeting or messaging my friend, DJC-Kay – a guy who’d supplied me with many, many mixes for my radio show. As thanks, I bought him a ticket for the Sunday of SW4.
Waterloo is where I meet him (ironically passing Clapham Junction which is where SW4 is nearby) and we enter Somerfield to buy some whiskey, where the 29 year old C-Kay gets asked for ID!
No one asked me all fucking weekend.
Quickly into a pub (I forget it’s name, but a mad man with carrier bags sits behind me shouting ‘I’m from Peckham!’ constantly) and we down a couple of drinks before a quick smoke, and then we’re on the tube and heading toward our destination.
We chat the whole way, swapping our favourite tracks while I dig into C-Kay’s past to try and figure out what makes him tick musically (an interview with him will follow in the next few weeks) and we swig whiskey and coke on the train like a couple of alcoholics. Life is good.
I get stopped and searched, and as soon as I pull out my spare boxer shorts adorned in bio-hazard symbols (seriously) the man laughs and sends me through. So, lesson learnt – flash your pants and you’re good to go… something I’ll try to adhere to for the rest of my life.
‘Inside’ the festival we see all the usual Indy Cindy girls and shirtless guys with straw hats and cans of beer, but you can tell there is a string of hardcore dance fans milling around – the kind of guys I grew up with as our musical influences were moulded by guys like Colin Dale, Sasha, DJ SS, John Digweed, et al.
Around us are various big top tents housing different kinds of music. There are the Last FM Arena, We Love Arena, Drumcode Arena and, of course, the main stage. C-Kay and I flit from tent to tent, grabbing vodkas in between, we try and figure out which tent is playing the best music when we come across a crowd that is jumping, beer that is flying, and inflatables that are being smashed into the air by revellers.
The reason – Alan Fitzpatrick. His beats were big and the tent was rocking. This is what we came for.
I apologise for being completely unable to tell you which tent and which DJ we saw afterwards, but we bumped into some guys who were throwing Mandy around (those that know will understand the reference) and pretty soon I was more mashed than a pot full of potatoes. Strangely… well, I say strangely, but wherever I go I’m asked if I have any drugs. It’s happened on the high street of my home town, it’s happened to me in other countries. You won’t believe how many fucking times it happened at SW4.
It actually got worse. C-Kay and I were stood on our own in the middle of a mud-patch, in the rain, having a real heart to heart when a small Turkish security guard stepped up and asked C-Kay if I was ‘serving up’ to him! What made it even worse was that I thought he said ‘seven up’… which confused shit even more. This bugged me for ages, as apparently a white guy and a black guy can’t be seen talking together in the middle of a field without it involving drugs. In fairness, I was completely space cadet, but what the fuck?
Back to the music and pretty soon we’re both bouncing around inside different tents, holding each other up, getting muddy and covered in vodka while talking complete bollocks to everyone around us.
It’s a great day. One of the best I’ve had in ages… but it only gets better.
But not before C-Kay pulls his Mr Elusiveness’ act. He goes to the loo, I wait outside the toilets… I’m still stood there 20 minutes later. I find him eventually, but this all happens again a couple of hours later. Now, I don’t know what the hell he gets up to, but after I’ve found him we head for the We Love tent to check out the main reason I came to SW4 – Sasha. He’s as good live as I imagined, and soon the pair of us are bouncing, and holding each other up like a pair of alcoholics at a free wine tasting party.
After we’ve seen God for a good long while we head to the main stage where we settle in for a Magnetic Man and Pendulum finale. Neither disappoint and the singalong with Magnetic Man is one of my SW4 highlights.
I first saw Pendulum when they were starting out in a shitty little club on the Isle of Wight called The Balcony. Oh, how they’ve come a long, long way since then…
Before Pendulum start a small group of Aussies and Brits rush up to C-Kay like he’s a long lost friend before asking me if I was his ‘friend that had disappeared’! It turns out C-Kay met these guys while looking for me while I was looking for him!
We stick with Alastair, Dan, Leticia, and Andy and we’re all bouncing like idiots as Pendulum take off. We’re all in a mess, and loving every minute…
Until C-Kay pulls off the mother of all vanishing acts. We lose him completely. I’ve got his wallet and his phone and Andy and I scour the grounds to try and find him, but it’s like… well, it’s like trying to find a black guy in London.
I start to fret, wondering what’s happened to my friend when the Festival finishes and the guys explain to me that I’ve got very little hope of finding C-Kay and that he’ll probably meet us at the Ministry of Sound, as luckily I gave him that ticket and he (hopefully) still had it on him.
“Ok, that’ll work,” I say. “Let’s hit the MOS.”
“Er… it doesn’t open for another three hours…” Andy tells me.
By a massive stroke of luck the gang inform me that their flat is in Clapham and that I’m more than welcome to stay with them until the MOS opens… as they’re all going as well!
So, Jode’s now sat in a strange flat in London with people he doesn’t know, having lost his friend in the middle of Clapham Common, flaked out on a sofa with a bunch of people as monky-ed as himself. Standard night for me, then.
We hit the MOS just after midnight after a taxi ride where the taxi driver doesn’t have a fucking clue what he’s up to. That’s the second numbnut taxi driver I’ve encountered today… and I thought they all just worked for us back home!
I get searched on the door of the MOS. Twice. And they take my arthritis tablets off me. Oh, and flashing my underwear doesn’t work at all this time. But, we’re in, and we’re dancing after having paid £9 for a vodka and lemonade, but, when in London…
Richie Hawtin – aka ‘Techno God’ – is the star of tonight’s show, but the DJ before him tears it up as well… although I am shit and can’t remember if it’s Marc Houle, Barem, Ambivalent… or all three! Did anyone else who went know?
Before we start throwing shapes at the start of an epic 6 hour dance-a-thon for myself and
Dan, we hit the other room to check out the music… and Dan finds C-Kay cutting some rug by the entrance! Lots of hugging and wiping of relieved brows later and the gang is back together!
But not for long…
Andy is bounced by the bouncers for having a chat with Mandy, and Leticia goes with him as he can’t get himself back in, which leave Dan, C-Kay and I stood outside, smoking, watching them leave.
“Well, we didn’t get kicked out…” Dan says in his Aussie lint and we head back inside.
The place is bouncing and Richie Hawtin is showing us how it’s done. We dance, and C-Kay tells us he’s going to go and get us some drinks.
We don’t see the Elusive C-Kay for another FOUR HOURS. This time we only briefly search, as he now has previous, and we know he’ll show up.
Dan and I don’t stop dancing until 6am. Well, I don’t. Dan stops intermittently to shove his tongue down some girls throat who’s been hanging off of him since we arrived. The boy is smooth, and his accent seems to win everyone over. The bloody convict.
The lights are about to go up, and Dan ‘C-Kay Finder Extraordinaire’ Formosa finds our mysterious buddy again. We leave, jump in a taxi, hit Leticia and Andy’s flat and spend the next couple of hours talking about C-Kay’s mixes, scouring dance videos on YouTube, and generally getting more spannered.
Alas, soon it’s time for me to leave, and with hugs and handshakes all around, C-Kay and I grab another cab back to Waterloo where we both embrace and say goodbye. It’s been emotional, stressful, brilliant, funny, and more than anything – spectacular. We agree to meet up next year with our new friends… but next year we’ll know what to expect.
But I’m not sure SW4 will be ready for our new Super Group – The SW4 Gang. I’ve already got people on the island saying they want to come following my Facebook statuses and messages.
And to Dan, Andy, Alastair and Leticia – C-Kay and I will see you next year for our yearly meet. I got a feeling it’s gonna be even messier next time around…
Oh, and when my mum picked me up off of the boat (that I narrowly caught after having fallen asleep on the train) she told me off for the fucking state I was in. And then banned me from drinking at my sisters’ forthcoming wedding.