Tuesday, 21 December 2010

National Short Story Day

As we take the plunge through towards Christmas and New Years, it's important to note that today we celebrate National Short Story Day! The first of its kind, and hopefully not the last. Here at Bad Language we thought we'd give you a few great short story collections to read:

Junot Diaz - Drown
David Gaffney - The Half Life of Songs
Raymond Carver - What we talk about when we talk about love
Miranda July - No one belongs here more than you
Dave Eggers - How we are hungry

Of course you can do no wrong in picking up a copy of our first two anthologies, 'I know where the city has wings' and 'Scattered Reds'.

For more Manchester based short stories you should check out Rainy City Stories who have published my story entitled 'That's how I got to Manchester'. Their website is filled with fascinating insights into the city, and some rather wonderful short stories. You can also find some great 330 word stories at 330 Words.

So, merry National Short Story Day! We'll be back soon with information about our upcoming open mic nights at The Castle Hotel, so get in touch if you want to perform, e-mail events@badlanguagemcr.co.uk

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Casting by James Harvey

Those of you with eagle eyes may have noticed something missing from our brand new anthology, Scattered Reds. Due to an editorial error, one of the brilliant short stories that was accepted for publication was unfortunately not included in the hard copy of the book, however we would like to honour it here. Please feast your eyes on The Casting by James Harvey. James is originally from West London and studied creative writing at Roehampton University. James is 25 years old and lives with his Mancunian girlfriend Esther. His writing heroes include Nick Hornby, Jay McIherney, and the guy who wrote the bible.

The Casting
You get on the central line at Holland Park and you do what you always do: you begin casting for your own disaster movie. If there was some kind of nuclear attack whilst we are stuck beneath London’s surface what kind of community would be forged?
You need to cast: a hero, a villain, and a love interest. You need to cast: a comedian (because the seriousness might be suffocating), a high-powered businesswoman who is too important to die, and a weirdo. You need to cast a crying, whinging coward.
You sit down and peep out over the top of your copy of The Metro that you just picked off the floor of the train. You look at the row of faces opposite; usually you give these people the first dibs on being in your disaster movie – sitting opposite them you can study their faces and behaviours for longer.
First you’ll cast the hero. You do this because if there isn’t anyone sufficiently heroic - it is you who will have to be the hero. Being the hero doesn’t suit you, you have already cast a role for yourself: philosopher, wise sage and King of Cool (being a hero is very hard work - you’ve read all the comics. Would you have gone to all those lengths to save Mary Jane? Not fucking likely). You look at the row of people opposite and as always they fit neatly into the three categories that you have established regarding commuters on the London Underground: You have the Day-Dreamers that stare into mid-space avoiding all eye contact or external stimulation; Then there are The Readers who need external stimulation or they’ll die, then there are The Tubes who stare at the Tube map and advertisements. Traditionally, your hero needs to be a Reader. A day-dreamer will take too long to click into gear to become a man/woman of action. A Tube has neither the imagination nor the balls to act independently and emerge from a crowd. A Reader will be the first to form a plan and vocalise it. You stare at the man in the collect-the-tokens Monster Munch Tee-Shirt – a day-dreamer. Next up, you look at the blonde girl with dungarees and the blood-red lipstick – she’s eating a cheese string – a day dreamer and weirdo. You cast Blondie-dungarees as your weirdo (who knows what this cheese string eating joker is capable of). You turn your attention to the black man in the beautifully fitted shirt, the light reflects of his smooth bald head, his chunky biceps visible through the shirt. You think the man looks like Shaft or something (the Samuel L Jackson version). The man’s a Reader and he’s reading The Guardian – you think this could be worse. You think this man is looking like the hero and that one day Shaft is going to be the best man at your wedding. You cast Shaft as the hero.
Next you decide to cast the villain. Who amongst these people could come up against Shaft? Nobody looks likely. You dismiss Monster Munch boy instantly, but your eyes are drawn to the floppy-haired Sloan Ranger next to him; tanned in that that healthy sun-kissed way that only posh people who own horses can tan. You think you would quite like to see Shaft punch this man in his awfully punch-able face- you don’t like his ornate facial hair or his chinos. He’s a Reader - the villain needs to be a Reader for the same reason a hero needs to be a reader – they’ll form a plan first a vocalise it. He’s Reading Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson, and that’s a book you like – this makes you dislike him less despite his punch-able face. Then he sneezes really loudly without covering his mouth or nose. You cast Floppy McSloan as your villain.
The Businesswoman who is too busy to die is always the easiest role to cast. You used to leave it open to both sexes but you worried you were spreading your chances of finding romance too thin. In the case of a disaster the harsh Businesswoman’s character would soften over time revealing hidden depths of humanity (you think about Sandra Bullock – she has made a whole acting career out of playing Businesswomen who were too busy to die.) You look around the row opposite and don’t find any women with briefcases. The carriage you’re in is throbbing with tourists and teenagers. In desperation you cast a woman based on the look of the back of her head; her hair is cut into a neat bob and she appears to be wearing a sensible coat. You know time is pressing and you’re getting off soon. You always like to imagine the beginnings of your new community by the time you get off the tube. You cast neat bob lady as the Businesswoman who is too busy to die. You cast the man in the collect-the-tokens Monster Munch tee-shirt as your comedian (he can’t take himself too seriously at any rate you think).
You still need to cast your romantic interest but you saw her as soon as you got on, she is sitting next to an older woman who might be her mother. This girl has long, dark hair and big brown eyes. She’s wearing a multi-coloured knitted poncho that makes her look like a Peruvian tomato saleswoman. She has a great laugh and you heard her pronounce bath – (ba-th) intead of(bar-th) and you thought that sounded great. One of the first conversations you’ll have together will be getting her to say grass in her northern style whilst you say grar-ss and she laughs at your lazy vowels. You cast the Peruvian Tomato Saleswoman as your love interest.
And, you look around for a crying whinging coward.
The train stops and the lights go out. You can’t see any of the faces in the dark anymore or only just barely. Your thinking: ‘shit, this is it, this is really it. This is my disaster movie.’ You’re not ready for the reality. You’re a Day-Dreamer and your body doesn’t click into action. You start to sweat and you start to breathe more heavily. You start to panic. You’re not the Philosopher, wise sage and the King of Cool. You’re not cool enough. Shit, shit, shit is all you think. Some philosopher you are.
Then the lights click back on and the train starts to move again- and you’re really fucking relieved. You look at all the other faces: calm and relaxed and more or less as they were. You wipe the palm of your hand against your sweaty forehead you know what character you are if you’re not the Philosopher, wise sage and King of Cool.
You cast yourself as the crying, whinging coward.

Bad Language @ The Castle Hotel

Thanks to everyone who came down in November to our book launch, it went incredibly well and we all had an amazing time. The good news is, the staff at The Castle liked it so much that they've made it a regular night. We'll be having a poetry, prose night on the last Wednesday of every month starting in January.

That means, the 26th of Janurary will be the first night!

To mark the occasion we've teamed up with our good friend and absolutely fantastic writer David Gaffney, who'll be peforming a special guest set from his new book, The Half Life of Songs (which can be purchased through Amazon here

To add to this, Bad Language will also be performing a few of their poems and short stories, as well as selling copies of the second anthology, which has been recieving some excellent feedback.

We will also be holding an open mic section during the night, so if you fancy performing, please e-mail events@badlanguagemcr.co.uk to book a place.

We will be putting photos of the book launch up soon, so you can see just how much fun everyone had.

In the meantime, get those performing caps on, and get in touch!

Facebook link for the event

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Scattered Reds Exclusive Cover Reveal

Scattered Reds

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Scattered Reds - Book Launch

Bad Language will be launching their second anthology at the Castle Hotel on the 24th November. There will be guest stars! There will be books for sale! There will be an open mic slot!

The launch will be free to attend, and if you wish to partake in the open mic slot, please e-mail events@badlanguagemcr.co.uk
in order to book a place.

We hope to see you down there!

Dan, Nici and Joe.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Bad Language does Bad Literature

In honour of the Manchester Literature Festival and Robin Ince's Bad Book Club, Bad Language have decided to indulge in their very own bad literature night. The below video features Dan and Joe reading some raunchy delights from Mills and Boon. Get ready whilst Bad Language topples you to a climax....

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Twelve Notes

Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story
(Revised April 18, 1948)

The following twelve notes were written by Raymond Chandler all the way back in 1948. They comment on what he percieved to be an ongoing issue within mystery stories as well as the solution. The notes are incredibly detailed and actually still fairly applicable today. When so many of the top ten bestsellers end up being crime fiction, thrillers and the ilk, it's important to note when they fail in terms of their main objectives. I'm not going to analyse these in terms of one specific novel, but I will be dipping in and out of storylines to show what works and what doesn't work.

In any case, these rules make for really interesting reading on their own (hence why I've left them verbatim in the post).

1. It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the denouement; it must consist of the plausible actions of plausible people in plausible circumstances, it being remembered that plausibility is largely a matter of style. This requirement rules out most trick endings and a great many "closed circle" stories in which the least likely character is forcibly made over into the criminal, without convincing anybody. It also rules out such elaborate mises-en-scene as Christie's Murder in a Calais Coach, where the whole setup for the crime requires such a fluky set of happenings that it could never seem real.

Credible motivation is something of a problem in novels, TV and cinema these days. It's a losing battle really to create plausible stories without becoming predictable and it's the mark of a brilliant writer when a story can feel natural and realistic, and still shock you with a resolution. Take a look at Fight Club. What's the motivation in Fight Club? Repressed masculinity causes a businessman to create an uber-macho alter-ego. That this information comes at the end of the story, yet feels fairly natural is quite impressive. There's benefit to re-reading the novel when you know this information, and it never feels as though Tyler Durden being the imaginary friend has come out of left-field.

2. It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection. No fantastic poisons or improper effects from poison such as death from nonfatal doses, etc. No use of silencers on revolvers (they won't work) or snakes climbing bellropes ("The Speckled Band"). Such things at once destroy the foundation of the story. If the detective is a trained policeman, he must act like one, and have the mental and physical equipment that go with the job. If he is a private investigator or amateur, he must at least know enough about police methods not to make an ass of himself. When a policeman is made out to be a fool, as he always was on the Sherlock Holmes stories, this not only depreciates the accomplishment of the detective but it makes the reader doubt the author's knowledge of his own field. Conan Doyle and Poe were primitives in this art and stand in relation to the best modern writers as Giotto does to da Vinci. They did things which are no longer permissible and exposed ignorances that are no longer tolerated. Also, police art, itself, was rudimentary in their time. "The Purloined Letter" would not fool a modern cop for four minutes. Conan Doyle showed no knowledge whatever of the organization of Scotland Yard's men. Christie commits the same stupidities in our time, but that doesn't make them right. Contrast Austin Freeman, who wrote a story about a forged fingerprint ten years before police method realized such things could be done.

Or the Jeff Goldblum rule. This is a fairly easy trap to fall into and I've read countless stories and seen numerous TV shows and films where this rule is completely ignored. The problems come when you sit down to write dialogue and storylines where your character is a genius. So the problem comes when the writer isn't a genius. The common method to overcome this is by dumbing down the rest of the characters around, and thereby making your genius character seem that much smarter. Either that or the writer doesn't even bother, and just gives the character simple solutions that make everyone else seem completely useless (see most Russell T Davies episodes of Doctor Who.)

3. It must be honest with the reader. This is always said, but the implications are not realized. Important facts not only must not be concealed, they must not be distorted by false emphasis. Unimportant facts must not be projected in such a way as to make them portentous. (This creation of red herrings and false menace out of trick camera work and mood shots if the typical Hollywood mystery picture cheat.) Inferences from the facts are the detective's stock in trade; but he should disclose enough to keep the reader's mind working. It is arguable, although not certain, that inferences arising from special knowledge (e.g., Dr. Thorndyke) are a bit of a cheat, because the basic theory of all good mystery writing is that at some stage not too late in the story the reader did have the materials to solve the problem. If specal scientific knowledge was necessary to interpret the facts, the reader did not have the solution unless he had the special knowledge. It may have been Austin Freeman's feeling about this that led him to the invention of the inverted detective story, in which the reader knows the solution from the beginning and takes his pleasure from watching the detective trace it out a step at a time.

There's a trend within television shows to throw mysteries at the viewer. Most of these are intended to do nothing more than provide some fraudulent narrative thrust, to keep viewers on the edge of their seats and make them want to come back for more. Some of these shows do this fairly well (take a bow Battlestar Galactica and Mad Men) and some do this fairly terribly. Lost is a prime example. Lost throws red herrings at you like there's no tomorrow and when you look back and actually follow the story through (with the ending in mind) there's far too many loose ends that now feel as though the writers were just throwing things into the story for the sake of mystery. I spoke of Mad Men just a moment ago as being a show where the mystery works. (Spoilers ahead). Early in the first couple of episodes, our main character Don Draper is travelling to work on a train when he's approached by someone who thinks he's someone else. This scene is only around a minute long, and at the time seems completely inconsequential. It's only later in the series that this small moment comes to make sense. Red herrings only exist to frustrate and turn off viewers and readers.

4. It must be realistic as to character, setting, and atmosphere. It must be about real people in the real world. Very few mystery writers have any talent for character work, but that doesn't mean it is not necessary. It makes the difference between the story you reread and remember and the one you skim through and almost instantly forget. Those like Valentine Williams who say the problem overrides everything are merely trying to cover up their own inability to create character.

I think this is one where the rules fall down a little. The second part I couldn't agree with more, as per something I wrote on my own blog. There is definitely a tendency for writers to focus so much more on story and plot now than character, and this kind of writing can be really detrimental to a story. I mean, how many times can we read a story about Dan Brown's thinly veiled cipher/professor who has no personality whatsoever aside from being quite good at "Zodiac iconography". And how about Stephen King (as much as I love, and I do love, some of his stories), how many failed alcoholic writers can be traumatised in Maine? I know you write what you know, but seriously, some writers need to know more. It's that first sentence that makes me feel these rules are a little out of time. Surely realism is completely relative. Look at Life on Mars - a brilliant show, but completely unrealistic. Of course, that's the whole point of the show, it isn't about real people, or about the real world, but that doesn't make Sam Tyler's story any less compelling, nor the mystery of where is he, any less interesting.

5. It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element; i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.

Dan Brown I'm looking at you, and Lee Child, and John Grisham and in fact anyone you can pick up in the top ten bestsellers at an airport (unless they are pink or have been written by Katie Price). Where's the joy in being an incredibly well told story? When did it suddenly become fine to write thinly veiled travel writing with a bit of a chase around it, and/or a conspiracy involving historical figures. The writing tends to be a case of characters run from A-B find a new clue and go from B-C and so on. There's no satsifaction watching characters play a city wide game of hide and seek. That's not even an investigation. That's a party game.

6. To achieve this it must have some form of suspense, even if only intellectual. This does not mean menace and especially it does not mean that the detective must be menaced by grave personal danger. This last is a trend and like all trends will exhaust itself by overimitation. Nor need the reader be kept hanging on the edge of his chair. The overplotted story can be dull too; too much shock may result in numbness to shock. But there must be conflict, physical, ethical or emotional, and there must be some element of danger in the broadest sense of the word.

Again, one of the most common mistakes of modern mystery stories. Look at something like Vertigo, an absolutely brilliant mystery. The main character isn't really in grave danger (although it is quite personal), but we're captivated throughout. His life, for the majority of the story isn't really in danger, but we want to know what's going on. Now look at say, any modern thriller, The Millenium trilogy, Harry Potter (they may be fantasy but those books are structured entirely as thrillers), Dan Brown, John Grisham - these are books that needn't be putting the main characters lives on the line, but they do it in a quest to create a false jeopardy within the story.

7. It must have color, lift, and a reasonable amount of dash. It takes an awful lot of technical adroitness to compensate for a dull style, although it has been done, especially in England.

I will direct your attention to these links, Dan Brown's Worst Sentences and The Bad Sex in Fiction Award both of which cover the bases of this rule quite nicely.

8. It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes. (This is possibly the most often violated of all the rules). The ideal denouement is one in which everything is revealed in a flash of action. This is rare because ideas that good are always rare. The explanation need not be very short (except on the screen), and often it cannot be short; but it must be interesting in itself, it must be something the reader is anxious to hear, and not a new story with a new set of characters, dragged in to justify an overcomplicated plot. Above all the explanation must not be merely a long-winded assembling of minute circumstances which no ordinary reader could possibly be expected to remember. To make the solution dependent on this is a kind of unfairness, since here again the reader did not have the solution within his grasp, in any practical sense. To expect him to remember a thousand trivialities and from them to select that three that are decisive is as unfair as to expect him to have a profound knowledge of chemistry, metallurgy, or the mating habits of the Patagonian anteater.

You can't really argue with this point...mostly because it's such a long rule! This is quite a nice forum covering the most convoluted mysteries in crime film. But essentially, a lot of stories end up being a bit too simple. Take The Historian, for example. Hyped up to be the next De Vinci Code, it's a simple travelogue mystery with a writer following clues to find a supposed grave of Dracula, only to discover a long lost relative who claims the whole thing was just set up for her to find him. That is simple to the point where it infuriates the reader. A mystery that works in the complete opposite way is Choke (spoilers abound here). The main character visits his mother in a mental home and discovers her diaries, written in a foreign language. A helpful nurse deciphers them and tells him that his mother believes he is the second coming of Christ. The mystery reveals itself at the end when it's discovered that the nurse in question is actually just a mental patient herself and was making the whole thing up. This most simple of explanations, is actually one of the most satisfying conclusions to a novel in recent memory - offering up a giant cry of 'of course!' from the reader, rather than an angry, 'that was it?!' that a lot of novels do.

9. It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader. This opens up a very difficult question. Some of the best detective stories ever written (those of Austin Freeman, for example) seldom baffle an intelligent reader to the end. But the reader does not guess the complete solution and could not himself have made a logical demonstration of it. Since readers are of many minds, some will guess a cleverly hidden murder and some will be fooled by the most transparent plot. (Could the "Red-Headed League" ever really fool a modern reader?) It is not necessary or even possible to fool to the hilt the real aficionado of mystery fiction. A mystery story that consistently did that and was honest would be unintelligible to the average fan; he simply would not know what the story was all about. But there must be some important elements of the story that elude the most penetrating reader.

Some writers try and do this far too much, you only have to look as far as the latest series of Sherlock on the BBC to get a sense of a program trying maybe a little too hard to baffle the viewer. The first episode has a good five minute scene in which Sherlock, and ourselves are trying to work out why a taxi driver would be able to talk people into killing themselves, even the taxi driver himself promises "You'll never guess how I do it," only for the explaination to be fairly easy to guess. I think, in this day and age, with so much access to information, it's fairly hard to completely baffle someone without simply overcomplicating information.

10. The solution must seem inevitable once revealed. This is the least often emphasized element of a good mystery, but it is one of the important elements of all fiction. It is not enough merely to fool or elude or sidestep the reader; you must make him feel that he ought not to have been fooled and that the fooling was honorable.

Take a look at my previous comments on Choke, The Historian and Lost. Choke does this well, the others do not. The inevitability of a solution can only really come if a story is plotted out completely, and you can clearly see when writers are just stringing mysteries along.

11. It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance. An atmosphere of terror destroys logical thinking; if the story is about the intricate psychological pressures that lead apparently ordinary people to commit murder, it cannot then switch to the cool analysis of the police investigator. The detective cannot be hero and menace at the same time; the murderer cannot be a tormented victim of circumstance and also a heavy.

Unless you are David Simon.

12. It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law. Contrary to popular (and Johnston Office) belief, this requirement has nothing much to do with morality. It is a part of the logic of detection. If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.

I truly don't believe this to be true. Look at The Wire, or even closer look at Hidden. The end of that is all about unresolved conflict and to be honest, that makes the film so much the better for it.

So there we have it. What do you guys think? Do these rules still stand? If you're a mystery writer, do you still follow them?


Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Quiz of Literature Things

Thank you to all of those who came along on Thursday and a BIG thank you to the guest performers Max Wallis and David Gaffney who added brought extra zing to the night.

After everyone had filled up on pink cupcakes and alcoholic drinks from the bemused barmaid, the night kicked off with an as usual exciting performance from local performance poet Max Wallis. He stunned us all with his articulate delivery of shennangians at festivals, and my personal favourite, Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Max is starting the creative writing MA at Manchester very soon and you can find more of his poems and his next performance at www.somethingeveryday.co.uk where he endevours to write something everyday.

Once the audience were sufficiently warmed up, (quite literally as the pub's ancient windows were glued shut) Bad Language's very own Daniel Carpenter tested their literature brains with the pub quiz. Most did surprisngly well even getting questions from what we thought would be the toughest round: one star amazon reviews. Congratulations to the winners A Blair Fiction Project, who I believe was represented by some of the Manchester Literature Festival peeps, who won among other things a signed David Gaffney book and a bottle of wine! Let us know what the wine is like! And an even bigger congratulations to the best team name winners with Pushing Up Swayzes, who won the best book in the world: Zombie Comics, which Max struggled to carry home.

Once everyone had recovered from the brain ache, David Gaffney came to perk the audience up with some Powerpoint antics and humourous tales of a poor man who had to do a presentation to himself. Check out David's website for more of his tales and details of his next performance dates. My personal favourite is Potatoe Smiles. www.davidgaffney.weebly.com

Then we watched as people crowded around the book table as David sold more books until closing time when we were all turned out on the streets with empty cup cake shells and the enlightenment of the right answers.

Thank you to all who filled in our feedback forms and all the comments made. We're stepping up the game for the next Literature Pub Quiz with tougher more challenging questions, so you better get your thinking caps on and start studying now!

You can also see another write up of the event at:


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Literature Pub Quiz

September 2 · 7:30pm - 11:00pm

LocationThe Waldorf,
12 Gore Street, M1 3AQ
Manchester, United Kingdom

Created ByBad Language

More Info
Can you remember what the opening line of Oliver Twist is? Would you recognise your favourite book from the cover alone? Do you know what George Orwell called himself when he went undercover?

Then come along to The Literature Pub Quiz to see if you really know. Be there and be square.

Plus amazing special guest peformances from Max Wallis and David Gaffney!
...£2 per person.
Maximum team size 6 people.

For more information contact: events@badlanguagemcr.co.uk
Or 07850029658

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Bad Language Submissions!

Bad Language are opened up their submissions for their second anthology!

This time around we thought we'd do something a little different. Instead of an overall theme for everyone to write to, we want you to send us a piece of work that you feel incredibly proud of. Whether that's a story you wrote years ago, or something new that you want everyone to read, it's up to you!

The guidelines are as follows:

Short Stories

Short stories to be no longer than 2000 words.
Only one short story per person.
Stories to have not been published elsewhere.


Poetry to be no longer than 40 lines.
Maximum of 3 poems submitted per person.
Poetry not to have been published elsewhere.


We will also be accepting comic fiction (as a PDF, maximum ten pages of story).

Submissions should be sent to submissions@badlanguagemcr.co.uk by the end of the closing date.

The deadline for submissions is September 6th, so you've got a whole month to send us your best work! Good luck everyone!


Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Books, Books, Books for sale!

If you haven't already bought your copy of the first ever Bad Language book, titled 'I Know Where the City Has Wings', then now is your chance.

Thanks to the wonderful support we have received from people around Manchester, you can now buy 'I Know Where the City Has Wings' from the Nexus Art Cafe AND the Corner House in the centre of Manchester. Imagine that, your very own copy?! And only for a piddly four pounds!

But hurry quick as we're selling out fast and there are only a limited number of copies left.

Ta Ta for now!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cracking The Flags

Another piece of World Cup fiction here, this one by Sarah Clare-Conlon, I'll let her give you the introduction:

"I was in the Howgills in Cumbria, watched the match in a pub then went
hiking across fields in the blazing sun past marshy bogs and thought about
how some might take drowning their sorrows to extremes. I tried to use
the repetition of words, sounds and ideas, along with the repetition of the
last line and the decreasing 11-9-7 rhythm of each verse, to convey a sense
of depressing inevitability and pointlessness, especially following the
initial hopeful flag-waving antics the nation puts itself through. Anyway,
see what you think..."

Cracking the flags, by Sarah-Clare Conlon

The crackle of England flags in the stiff wind
The stiff drink drowning England's sorrows
on a cracking-the-flags day.

A damp squib, a squabble, a sticky quagmire.
A drowning in the depths of despair
on a cracking-the-flags day.

Saturday, 26 June 2010


Another piece of World Cup Fiction. This takes place only 12 years ago. Oh, France, how you have fallen...
It was longer originally but I couldn't find a way to end the longer piece so I cut it.

Mother died in France in the summer of 1998. 9 July. Before France were crowned victors and the country erupted. We had gone to France as a compromise – she wanted a holiday in Europe and me and my father wanted to be wherever the Word Cup Final was. My mother will never know that we were part of history – the first French World Cup win. That was when it became apparent, I knew the outcome, the rush of celebration that swept through a country, the drunks down the Champs Elyse, when she did not. It angered me – how could she not know? How could she hide herself from this knowledge? Once every four years life was pushed forward and history was made and she was ignorant to this knowledge. Even with her limited interest in football she would find herself gripped by the stage and the players and this year, when she was right in the centre of it all, right in the centre – for a brief moment – of the universe, she gave it all up. The intoxication by spirit, by beauty, by dancing, the tricolore draped across Paris and she was nowhere to be seen. She had written herself into a private World Cup history shared between me and my father where every four years the week before the final would be the memory of her body, still, motionless, unknowing.
She created that history, that story and shared moment yet is unaware of any of it. She will remain unaware of every victor from here. Of Italy, of South Korea, of Robbie Keane in the 90th minute, of ecstasy. She knows nothing.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

World Cup Haiku

Here's a very small world cup inspired piece taken from my experience of watching the Mexico VS France game on a big screen in the middle of Prague.

Beer drips down my face
Your arms in ecstacy
As the final whistle blows

Keep writing your football stories/poems/world cup inspired pieces and be sure to send them to: submissions@badlanguagemcr.co.uk for the chance to see it published on the blog!

Sunday, 6 June 2010


Incredibly short one this time round, based on the news story that North Korea has hired Chinese people to act as fans for their matches.

It's called Fan.


They hand me a flag and a shirt and a ticket.

They tell me to cheer like mad.

But not too much.

Not enough to cause a fuss.

I tell them not to worry, I’m a professional.

I was on this soap once, I tell them, and I was pretty good.

They tell me to hold the shirt up to my chest. It’s too small.

They try and find me a larger one.

Remember, they say, you’ll be out there representing our country.

I can’t say anything negative.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

His Gogo

So, the first World Cup flash fiction can be found below, written by myself. For those who wish to know, Gogo is Zulu for Grandmother, and Modise is an awesome footballer...apparently.

His Gogo

His gogo would often talk about how things used to be. She’d talk about apartheid and death and fear, but he didn’t really listen. Words would enter his head, and toss around in there a moment before leaving again. He’d stay listening to her stories for as long as he thought it was right, and then he’d bolt out the door into the street. He had spent hours dyeing his shirt till it was the right colour – green. His friends had all done the same, and they would play in the street with their football, and dream of crowds.

His gogo would sit him down and tell him about when she was younger, and they couldn’t play against other countries. But he doesn’t understand. She tells him about the people who made it all possible for this to happen, but he’s not really listening.

Instead he’s painting Modise in big black letters on the back of his top.

World Cup

Repost from my blog Winter Hill:

'So, it's that time again! The world cup is upon us and I don't know about you but I couldn't be looking forward to the end of it more. The sad fact is, unlike so many people, I'm not entirely into football. So, instead, to pass the time, and hopefully to get me into the spirit of the event, myself and Bad Language have decided to name ourselves the official Creative Laureate's of the 2010 World Cup.

This presents me with a few problems. Problem one - I don't like football, and to write in the spirit of the event is going to probably go terribly. Problem two - I don't know anything about South Africa. I have never been. I want to though. Maybe that will be enough.

Expect the first story later this week.

I hope it isn't racist.'

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Spoken Word Piece: That's How I Got To Manchester

Bad Language have produced their first ever spoken word piece featuring a short piece of fiction written and performed by Daniel Carpenter. 'That's How I Got to Manchester' is an extract from a longer piece which has also been featured on Rainy City Stories.

Thanks to Charlotte Carpenter who recorded the piece and sound effects as part of her project on Writers and their Environment.

You can listen to the piece from the link below from Daniel Carpenter's very own blog and let us know what you think.

That's How I Got to Manchester


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Announcing the Writers & Shiny New Front Cover For: 'I Know Where the City Has Wings'

Check out our shiny new front cover for 'I Know Where the City Has Wings' due for release very, very soon.

The new issue is packed full of poetry, stories and novel extracts exploring the idea of the city of Manchester.
Available for the small price of £4, for ten pieces of work, from our website and various places around Manchester which are to be announced.

Including work from the following talent:

Steve O'Conner
Dominic Berry
Justin Dooley
Stephanie Williams
Red Newsom
Neil McCall
Caroline England

What this space for more information about the book lauch and where you can buy the book.

Also watch out around the city for our shiny new bookmarks! ;)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Where The City Has Wings

The first Bad Language anthology, 'Where The City Has Wings', is at the printers and we are on course for our launch date of May 1st. It will be available from the website and we should hopefully have extracts online soon.
Our thanks go to Charlotte Carpenter for the cover photograph and John Routledge for the design as well as to everyone who has submitted work for inclusion.
Keep checking back here for news of the launch event on May 1st.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Next Bad Language Session

Hi All!

The next Bad Language session will be Tuesday 20th April at Nexus Art Cafe in the heart of the Northern Quater. The session runs from 6pm - 9pm but don't worry if you can't make it for 6 o'clock. We know alot of people rush after work:)

This week we will be looking at writers and their environment: how to create a sense of place in your writing. The first half of the session will be a small workshop and writing exercise based around this topic. The second half of the session will be a focused feedback session. We will pick one or two volunteers who would like to read/or have their work read, and work as a group to provide quality, supportive feedback leading to the development of their piece. You can either bring something with you or use the piece which is created in the workshop if you wish to read.

This will be the last session before the Bad Language book launch so it would be good to see as many people there as possible. Bad Language are looking forward to it:)

Any further questions contact us on facebook, twitter or e-mail: events@badlanguagemcr.co.uk

For a map to the venue follow the link below:


Monday, 5 April 2010

The art of the short story

In this age of fiction - where airport literature rules the roost and new authors struggle to make a name for themselves - one definite area is being largely ignored by the masses. In fact, this area has nearly always been ignored, has never really made anyone any money and yet among writers, is one of the most popular formats for their work.

The short story.

I've tried submitting short stories to publishers before, who have told me that there is no market for it. The only people who seem to have a large enough fanbase to publish them en masse? McSweeny's, Granta and the BBC with their yearly short story award.

All of which leaves me thinking that, like poetry, the short story is really a case of art and technique of popularity. It's a format that writers can play with. And, since no-one else is reading, they can be as daring and as challenging as they wish. How about Roald Dahl, with Tales of the Unexpected who managed in one fell swoop to stop being a children's author with these sinister Twilight Zone esque stories.

It boils down to the fact that novels, for all intents and purposes are primarily about making money - just ask Grisham et al. Whereas short stories, they free authors to do whatever they want to do. Take this for example by Dave Eggers, a series of 'short' short stories (why don't they just call it micro-fiction?) on The Guardian website.

What do you guys think?
Any other good links for short stories?

Friday, 2 April 2010

Bad Language Submissions!

There's only a few days left to get your submissions in for the Bad Language debut publication! So send in your poems, short stories, or extracts to submissions@badlanguagemcr.co.uk before the 5th April!

Submission Guidelines:

Short stories and extracts must be 2000 words max
Poems must be 40 lines max
We're looking for work around the theme of Manchester, preferably the Northern Quarter.
Entries must be sent to submissions@badlanguagemcr.co.uk before the 5th April!

We look forward to reading your entries! Any queries e-mail one of the below addresses and we shall come to your rescue!