Slicing Up Eyeballs

I stopped dreaming about twenty years ago. By this I do not mean thinking towards a future, I mean the literal fashion of what your brain projects whilst you’re asleep. I wake in the morning having no memory of anything passing through my head. It’s been blank.

This is replaced by occasions during the day when I’m hit by random images from my imagination. They’ll flash past quickly and perhaps repeat later but they’re always vivid. If you think of the images in the deadly tape of The Ring then you’re getting there. Some of these end up in stories or scripts.


The latest featured a mist covered loch (or lake for you non-Scots out there) at night. The moonlight shone down and danced on the surface of the water. This is quickly broken by a group of people emerging from the depths. They wade towards the bank and walk across the sand and rocks. They appear perfectly normal apart from their eyes which look like glass marbles, jet black and glinting.

A Small Shard Of Midnight In The Midday Sun

Let me talk to you about the place I was born. Not the room, not the building but the town.

I’m Scottish but not from the part you’ve just thought of. I am not from the Highland Glens or the Northern isles. I have no connection to the streets of Glasgow or Edinburgh. I come from the South, the lowlands, right next to the stretch of water known as the Solway. I was born in Dumfries although I have never lived there. My day job recently meant I had to return after many years.

Carlisle, the first city over the border in England, was the place I went to as a child with my parents shopping. It was where I went for nights out as a teenager and where I studied at college. It’s also where my day job is based. Carlisle changes but I’m there when it alters. Dumfries feels like a memory I had which somebody has built on and rearranged.

The first morning I went back I parked up in Broom’s Road. I recalled the visits I used to have to the town to visit the dental clinic at the hospital. These visits were to fix my teeth which were all over the place in my youth. At one stage I had to have seven teeth removed as they were creating a second row of teeth behind the lower ones. My Mother, obviously aware of the delicate confidence of the fourteen year old male, described the look as ‘an explosion in the piano key factory’. It’s the only hospital operation I’ve ever had. It’s also the time I learnt to never have Rice Krispies for breakfast when you have a fresh new scar on your gum line. After the check ups in the weeks afterwards we’d park the car here and walk into Dumfries town centre.

I walked up to the road and crossed over, making it to the Loreburn Centre. My memory of this place features the Wimpy Burger bar that was at one end. During my last year of school we were taken by bus to a careers fair at Easterbrook Hall. Being young and deeply resistant to our futures we automatically left the hall and went down town, stopping here for coke and burgers. It’s gone now though.

I step out of the automatic doors towards the fountain in the town centre. On the right hand side there’s a building which seems empty but has a banner above. The words ‘Brave Enough To Take Risks And Surprise’ are emblazoned in white lettering on the blue background. This is a statement to live by, for all to see, in a town centre. It makes me grin and give it a wee thumbs up. I later learn it’s for The Stove, an artist collective in Dumfries.

The statue of Robert Burns is surrounded by workmen. They’re modernising the pathways around the monument. Burns is a hero, a romantic master of poetry. Amongst the noise of saws and hammers the big man himself looks on. Dumfries has changed far more for him than me. I look down Friar’s Vennel. This street leads down the hill towards the River Nith and The Whitesands. I think of my witches, it is after all where their story ends.

Maybe I’ve been away a fair while but there seems to be something of a vibe in Dumfries. Despite the empty shop units and the usual pawn shops and bookmakers there are events happening. Carlisle waits with baited breath as to the possible opening of a Primark, Dumfries just gets on with it with events like The Big Burn’s Supper.. It’s something that makes me quite proud to have Dumfries as my birth place.

Master Of Puppets

I’d had to pass on an earlier lunch break, the clinic was just far too busy on Saturday. Three test rooms running simultaneously, one staff member going home ill just after 9:30am and another taking lieu time back meant there wasn’t much room for breathing for the rest of us.

When my time arrived I walked through Carlisle City Centre and noticed the start of the city pageant was in full swing. 8ft high puppets walked in front of the tourist information office.

Outside the French cafe at the top of Fisher street walked a familiar looking person. I had to look for a few seconds to avoid the chance of leaping in and it not being who I thought it was. Sure enough it was indeed Kathleen from Mostly Ghostly, quickly followed by John. They were in need of a Carlisle lunch spot that didn’t need a second mortgage for a panini. Despite the fact I was born in Dumfries I’m fairly clueless getting round the place as I’ve never lived there. My need to detailed directions when I went to meet Kathleen and John in the town a couple of months back was testament to this. Carlisle is a different matter however.

We walked to the Old Engine House, a place my Dad and I had discovered one day before going to the cinema. It was the ideal place with generous portions and quiet enough to still hold conversation. We talked of many things including Metallica, my love for pro wrestling and Order For Burning.

I was pleased to inform them progress was slow but steady. It’s the school summer holidays in Scotland which has meant my son is home a fair bit wanting amused. Scriptwriting has therefore fallen behind. When I do get the chance however I am getting small chunks done.

Kathleen has been emailed the script so far. It’s not often I’ll let anybody else read first draft. They’re like lumps of clay, soft and formless. This is different in that Mostly Ghostly provided the spark of ignition for the whole idea so it’s only fair they have input even at this early stage.

My only paranoia is the thought of them reading it and thinking that this joker has taken this event they feel passionately about and turned it Hollywood. I get concerned this first draft, with all the errors and factual inaccuracy, turns them away. They say they understand this draft won’t be the finished article and I believe them fully. This does not stop the nerves jangling though.

I realise the time, five minutes until I’m back on the dispensing floor, so we bid our farewells until another day. We walk past the puppets glaring down and I feel glad that we’re busy as this chance lunchtime meeting would never had come about otherwise.

In the coming days I aim to write more. I’m approaching the join between acts one and two now, the part I anticipated to be difficult. Once past this section another ghostly meeting in Dumfries may be in order.

The Signal From The Sub

I’d been caught up in all things ‘Order For Burning’ related that I’d forgotten about ‘The Salesman’s Gamble’. A email comes through from the director I have been speaking to telling me that she’s been involved in a shoot that’s taken up most of her time and gave an apology for not being in touch. I sent one back pretty much apologising for also taking so long to get round to it and explaining that I’ve been getting involved with some witches at the moment. After a couple of emails back and forth about how the story would play out we’ve agreed that I’d send a rewrite fairly soon for her to read over. It’s an encouraging sign that the project isn’t dead yet.

Order For Burning has remained at the 30 page marker for a few days now. I’ve probably picked the worst time of year to undertake such a thing as it’s the school holidays and my Son is currently in need of entertaining most days. School restarts next week so I’m aiming to spend more time on it then. Hopefully I should have got through draft one by the end of September. It’s slightly longer than I would have liked but I’m only breaking my own deadlines here, not ones imposed by somebody with the money.