I'm the author of three novels, “Out of Office” and “Fire Horses" (both published by Legend Press), my new comic novel "Kidology," and a collection of short stories and creative non-fiction, "Militant Factions." I've had hundreds of features and opinion pieces published in the Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent, Mail, Express, Telegraph and many more.
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 30: Perth, WA. Pronounced: "wah!" Thousands of cars shimmer in the mid-thirties heat...
|Posted on October 19, 2021 at 3:40 AM|
It seemed like writer Mark Piggott had found paradise: a luxury resort near Broome on Australia’s northern coast. But when stranded in Cable Beach with his family, a series of unexpected events would drive him to the edge of madness…
Perth, WA. Pronounced: “wah!” Thousands of cars shimmer in the mid-thirties heat. The only parking space large enough for a tank like a Holden Commodore is a sweaty hike from the domestic airport, and as I pull our 30-kilogram suitcase behind me with one hand, pushing a pram with the other, flies descend. Unable to fend them off I curse loudly in a Yorkshire twang and shake my head like a BSE-addled cow.
-From "The Boab Sentinels", first published @ 3:AM Magazine (2008), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 18, 2021 at 2:55 AM|
Perhaps the Holloway Hemingway tag was a bit tongue in cheek. First thing in the morning you’re far more likely to find me lying in bed drinking a bottle of wine than harpooning dolphins in Cuba. Even when I visited Ernie’s shrine in Key West, I refrained from stroking the descendants of his six-toed cats in case they had fleas.
-From " Fever Espana: the sun also surprises” (or, “The Road to Pamplona: Fiesta In A Clio)", a shorter version of which appeared in TNT Magazine (2002), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 28: I used to think that I could change the planet just by traversing its exotic limits
|Posted on October 17, 2021 at 5:45 AM|
I used to think that I could change the planet just by traversing its exotic limits. I was the Holloway Hemingway, a round-the-world revolutionary with all the right visas and jabs. Now that I know the bittersweet truth I can sit on the papier-mâché balcony I have constructed with travellers cheques and Kingfisher Lager and snarl at the pushy Kashmiris trying to sell me the clothes off their children’s backs.
I am a tourist. There is no difference between me, a backpacker, an explorer, a globetrotter, a Guardian Netjetter, or some whitey with dreads half-arsedly doing bad tai chi and bad acid on Dead Dog Beach at dusk. This gives me something I choose to perceive as an advantage over people like the dismal Dane or arsehole Afrikaans in the Panaji, Goa branch of Thomas Cook:
‘I’ve had enough of this crap!’ he snarls through his ginger beard at the dignified woman behind the counter. ‘All I ever get over here is bullshit!’
-From "The Cockroach Clause", first published @ The Writers Link (2001), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 27: One cold night in another century, the longest of the year, I realised I had lost my keys
|Posted on October 16, 2021 at 5:05 AM|
Pixelation: Enter If You Can (1998-9)
When Danish photographer Martin Toft asked me to help him with a project about the homeless subculture of London, I didn’t want to know. I‘d been undercover for the nationals and I was sick of talking to the addicts, dealers and other detritus of our great city. More importantly, the woman I had loved from afar from 12 years had finally said “yes”.
But Martin was not only convincing, and a fantastic photographer; he shared my feelings about the homeless ‘community’. It wasn’t that they all wanted to be on the streets; it was that society didn’t give them a better option. Without wishing to idealise this harsh world, something pulled them in and wouldn’t let go.
Over the course of six months, my personal life dissolving into chaos and despair, I went out onto the streets to write about these people Martin was photographing. I visited homeless shelters, walked the streets with outreach workers, spent a night at the Christmas shelter run by Crisis. I also interviewed author John Healy, who had written so movingly about homelessness in his book, The Grass Arena.
But first I visited the Bullring, the infamous shanty town near Waterloo. The “bashes” were being torn down to make way for a posh new cinema. Written on one were the words, “enter if you can”. Martin decided that would be a good name for our project. I bowed to his greater knowledge; after all, he had spent six months sleeping there, recording what he had seen with some stunning photographs.
In structuring the text I chose to use a series of seemingly unrelated sketches, incidents and interviews to convey the confused narrative of a ‘homeless mind’. I found that the lives of Bullring residents weren’t that different than mine, nor were their responses to the cold fury of the world.
Part of our project was used in an exhibition at the Globe Theatre and was featured in newspapers including the Independent. Martin exhibited the project in Denmark and I have received a grant towards publication from Oppenheim-Downes Trust.
The Bullring has gone now, and we recorded this unique culture as it was being dismantled by a state which didn’t understand. In its place stands a gleaming cinema, where they recently screened a season of films about homelessness.
What started out as reportage became a painful journey for me, during which I recalled my own homeless experiences, found myself being drawn into this world - and very nearly died as a result. But I don’t regret it, because what we recorded will always be there. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, but always our truth.
-From "Pixelation", a collaboration with photographer and artist https://www.martintoft.com/" target="_blank">Martin Toft. Read the whole text in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 26: The first time I looked in Marsha's eyes she had me pinned to the floor of the Manor House
|Posted on October 15, 2021 at 2:50 AM|
The first time I looked in Marsha’s eyes she had me pinned to the floor of the Manor House with one hand, a broken glass under my chin with the other. She had one blue eye, one green, a dirty-blonde bob and a stud through her nose; wore an Ian Wright top and black tracky bottoms with white stripes up the leg and her breath smelled of Rothmans and Baileys. It was love.
The Manor House is borderlands: Tottenham north and east, Arsenal south and west. I’m from Haringey, originally, just off the ladder. Harringay, to be precise; I don’t like to say it cos everyone laughs: “Harrin-GAY? You’re from Harrin-GAY? Woooohhh!” Unreconstructed, my friends.
Between me and you I’m posh as a lord: private education, social studies and history at Oxford, but then somehow I drifted, too many football hooligan novels, too much lager.
-From "Norfolk & Broads", first published by Literary Commune (2015), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 14, 2021 at 2:25 AM|
“One of the most striking things about the Moonie-eyed, cultish imbeciles gluing themselves to our nation’s arterial highways is their age. Alongside the pronoun-sensitive, Corbynist students found at all BLM/XR protests, at least half seem too old to have a job — if they ever had one, apart from cultivating facial hair and stewing mung beans — and seem astonished that anyone else would want one. The look on their collective faces as irate van drivers for whom time is always money furiously berate them is one of smug bafflement. Why work at all? they seem to ask. Why not just live off the land and daddy’s estate?”
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 25: Donald Maguire stepped over the browning bundle of spice-scented rags from Raqqa or Mosul
|Posted on October 14, 2021 at 2:15 AM|
Stage-tiptoe in number 11 Brogues 67-year-old Donald Maguire stepped over the browning bundle of spice-scented rags from Raqqa or Mosul or wherever it had washed up from and with one comedy foot teetering on the step tried to slide the Yale key into the picture-house fire-exit lock, big-framed NHS specs slipping slowly down his sweaty nose and back on fire. Trouble being the detritus beneath his hovering boot on the pissy step took up most of the doorway: as he leaned forward, back emanating pungent pulses of pain: the bundle stirred. Except written notice, the thing he dreaded most.
-From "Titanic II", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 13, 2021 at 2:00 AM|
After months spent scouring alleys and garbage dumps all across town Ms Genevieve Lucroix found Honey Pie under a pier by the broken amusement park one chilling dawn. Honey lay curled in still-wet sand, her slight torso covered in gnarled, psoriasis-green driftwood, her choppy brown hair wet, gritted with homelessness, grooves down her smooth cheeks like the tears had never stopped since the first post-natal spank. Gently Genevieve shook her shoulder. Strangely, considering the people who usually shook her awake in the sand, when Honey woke she gave up such a sweet tender smile that Genevieve almost forgot why she was required.
-From "Honey Trap and the Trolls", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 12, 2021 at 1:55 AM|
The hour-hand dragged by gravity down to six: Time. No gentlemen, no "please", even time running low. As he pushed at the bar door ("PULL") then adjusted his technique (passerby snigger) billow-clouds of unguent warmth kissed cheeks cold from the long post-round and he felt them colour like dusky sunlight on a corn-field stinging a face whose eyes had frosted and now melted warm salt onto grizzly chops burning as he stood as if a stranger at the entrance of the busy public house which had changed a lot more than he had these last thirty years and where his old friends stood at the bar (they had agreed early on that only women and gays sat down) laughing as men laugh who have had several and cannot be heard by wives and whose children have grown and fled the nest or are otherwise orbiting beyond reach.
-From "Fathers 4 Jaundice", first published by Literary Commune (2015), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 22: Their fingers - his dirty white. hers clean brown - unwrapped each from the others clutches like withered roots
|Posted on October 11, 2021 at 2:00 AM|
Their fingers – his dirty white, hers clean brown – unwrapped each from the others clutches like withered roots. Adam watched Zainab float up and into the drizzled morning with a puzzled look on her face, that same slender hand now searching her Kaftan for cigarettes, the other hand pushing long black hair from her gold face, her eye-whites shining but her eyes sad with loss or resignation as she rose towards the heavy clouds and the blue sky beyond. The burner breathed hot air into the balloon‘s mouth, an asthmatic dragon, like the way she had blown smoke into his throat at Disneyland.
As the balloon slowly rose the festival-goers around him stepped back for a better view, admiring its rainbow colours and peace slogans but mostly its enormity: shaped like a light-bulb the size of a cathedral, raw savage gases propelling it skyward, Zainab inside with her cigarette and tranquillity. Even at this height, fifty, sixty feet and rising fast, Adam saw thin trails of smoke from Zainab‘s lips drift over the basket‘s edge, disappear into the blue.
-From "Never Trust a man with Egg on his Face", first published by Prole Books (2011), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 10, 2021 at 5:00 AM|
Why mom let daddy drive us to the wood that day I never knew. She kinda distracted, hurting from bone-cancer and a tragic love-life she part-own; the kitchen table’s full of bills and mom sat typing in the calculator with one finger, holding one o them fake cigarettes, robe round shoulder, hair falling down over blood-shot eyes, squinting with e-smoke like the former hotty she claim.
When daddy beep the horn I think she thought he home for good. She smile, put out her e-smoke, look at me and Moll: then her eyes change, reality came back and bitch-slap her butt and she stand, robe falling open and dirty Snoopy nighty beneath that she wore in hospital pictures holding baby Molly twelve year back.
Mom clears her throat to get out the taste of electrons.
“I’ll get your jackets. Tell your father I want you home by nightfall.”
-From "Little Man Inside", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 9, 2021 at 5:40 AM|
A plane drifted slowly across the window above the roofs of Camden Town. I knew something terrible was going to happen and it did: another plane emerged from nowhere and both planes disintegrated in a silent flash of fire somewhere over the West. Traffic decontrol, a privatised catastrophe.
The telephone rang and I woke up sweating. Above my head luminous stars were stuck to the ceiling. At night they glowed but no-one had yet remarked upon them.
“Nick, it's Nick,” said Nick, unnecessarily.
“What you doing ringing up at this time?”
“It's two in the afternoon. We're all going to Hampton Court and I wondered if you wanted to come.”
-From "Dreamers, Lovers, Absentees", first published in Buzzwords magazine (2005), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 8, 2021 at 1:55 AM|
The boy had found a place to sleep where he felt safe and dry, close to the hospital and far from hardcore Holloway Road... tucked just inside the Waterlow Park, East Side, the Highgate Hill entrance north of the mental hospital, in among the shrubbery but raised slightly on a muddy knoll so that rain water never dampened his sleeping bag and all he had to worry about were the city’s vulpine scavengers. Back home he’d never been an early riser (mum flipping back the sheets, dad throwing ice-buckets) but since arriving in North London he’d risen with the sun or, more frequently, the mist and dew.
Today the sun was a cold yellow disk nailed to the grey canvas sky but its milky light woke him even though its heat didn’t warm him, so he rose, stiff, aching, hid the sleeping bag in a bush, went to the Turkish convenience store on the corner for his carton of milk and dry duck-bread, then sat on a bench, humming.
-From "Waterlow Sunrise", first published in Literary Commune (2015), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 7, 2021 at 1:55 AM|
“Did you pack my book?”
Her husband shrugs, driving carefully north.
“Sue... you know you won’t have time to read. You never do.”
This year it’s Wilfred and Helen’s turn to host, so Mike and Sue head up congested motorway, the Daewoo boot full of festive food, shiny-wrapped parcels and the best wines Mike’s job in local government can buy.
The closest weekend to Christmas each year the two couples get together, either at Wilfred and Helen’s in the country or Mike and Sue’s in the suburbs, swap ribald jokes, bemoan their children, eat all those calorie-crammed treats they neglect the rest of the year, and drink too much. Wilfred’s tipple is whiskey, Helen’s Bacardi; Mike sticks to good South American reds and Sue to her French whites. By the end they’ll be relieved to separate, go back to their own conventions, dull jobs and January diets.
Each year as they drive home the couple in the car express delight to be away, doubt that next year they’ll bother to return the compliment; yet by the August or September the old resentments will have dissipated once more and a fear of seeming inhospitable now takes over, until by October it’ll seem out of the question not to have their old friends over again. It’s only a weekend of eating and drinking and arguing politics; where’s the harm?
-From "A problem shared is a problem doubled", first published in Bewilderbliss Magazine (2009), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 17: The first game takes place in a nondescript city on the shore of a great lake
|Posted on October 6, 2021 at 1:55 AM|
The first game takes place in a nondescript city on the shore of a great lake, its name unfamiliar, unpronounceable, lost to search engine. "City" makes the place grander than it is: just a rambling string of shacks and blocks without planning or purpose. As the bus weasels in from the parochial airport below sludge sky all the damprise apartment blocks along each side of the strafed dirt road absorb what little light has managed to penetrate this gloom - particles of light which made it through 93 million miles of harsh space only to be stymied by the reflective murk of a second-world industrial zone - and as the crew look out through brown-streak panes I sense a deflation, a sense we're on alien territory where each individual person, creature, atom wishes us and our descendents harm.
"Looks like Sheffield," jokes Kirk beside me, and everyone laughs: loud, uneasy. I know why he made the joke: an anchor of familiarity in this dead world, this otherworld, a way of making it seem familiar, as Disney or Pixar make savage creatures seem human. An anthropomorphism of buildings, almost racist in its assumptions, because Kirk and those who laugh (me included) are really saying: these people are unknowable.
-From "Psycho Blitzkrieg", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 5, 2021 at 1:55 AM|
That morning, as he sat his meeting, and colleagues debated the impact of hot-desking on output, flexitime on T.O.I.L. and the etiquette of the biscuit kitty, Arthur Randolph Maddox suddenly found himself looking around in utter bewilderment, as if he had lost all ability to understand his own language, or the people around him had begun to converse in Urdu.
He was so bored that his brain began to throb: he was penned into the drab windowless room by five rotund, white, middle-aged men clad in lachrymose suits; he couldn’t recall their names, and assumed they didn’t know his, nor did he know what they did or what they were talking about (“so Bill, suppose we take the CP4A to the STD, 949.499 echo tango Euclid’s theorem…”), and suddenly, he didn’t care; he had finally formulated an Ambition.
One of the faceless, nameless drones turned to him and twisted his bearded, pasty, middle-aged face into a strange shape that Maddox dimly recalled was known as smiling.
“So, Maddox,” said the Beard, “how about you – any plans?”
“Yes,” he replied, relieved that he could still just about make out what the Beard in the stained grey shirt was saying, “I have, actually. I want to disappear”.
-From "The man who buried himself", first published by Outside Left Magazine (2010), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
#MilitantFactionsQuotes 15: To supplement her dole Mary Maloney worked as a cleaner in one of the big Highgate houses
|Posted on October 4, 2021 at 1:50 AM|
To supplement her dole Mary Maloney worked as a cleaner in one of the big Highgate houses. Though only a few hundred yards from her home in Archway the hill was steep and she never had the fare so she’d set off early to ensure she’d be there on time. Mary hated it when they scolded her, the rich ladies who owned the fine houses.
They all seemed taken, one way or the other, these ladies: married, affairing, courting, jetting off, inviting in, a non-stop carnival of lust and sin. After forty years of marriage, Mary Maloney had almost given up on love: almost, but not quite. Her night-dreams were filled with erotic passions, gossamer ghosts entwined, lithe angels embracing, in a universe of warm honey.
-From "Black Eyed Bride", first published by Outside Left Magazine (2009), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 3, 2021 at 5:50 AM|
-May I sit?
Looking up from a story I’m trying to open I peer into a stranger’s sunny-wrapped face: twenties, dark, pretty. I shrug, the blush spilling across my pasty flesh accentuated by the awesome sunlight hammering on textured silver. There are empty tables all around the coffee shops of the Cappuccino Strip. I stiffen at her presence, her dress of pale flowers.
-Go right ahead.
The (Spanish?) woman sits at my table and dropping my own covered eyes to the dazzling white page I sense Iberian eyes x-ray for clues. To help her out I resume the futile scribbling in my little notebook, writing now about her, about what we could be doing together.
-Do you mind if I ask... what you’re writing?
-From "Rip it up and start again", first published by Frank Mask (2009), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 2, 2021 at 7:15 PM|
We don't like people do we Allie?
No we don't like-
Everyone stares cos we look the same but we don't think the-
No we don't.
I know Allie let's go to that part with the deer and the big birds the ost-
Yeah let's go there to the big park with the big birds the deer and the-
Yeah by those weirdo brothers Dino and-
Yeah that's I I'm saying the big metal structures by the weirdo brothers let's-
It's a long way up Allie.
It's a long way down.
What can you see?
Trees. Playground. Emus.
You mean ost-
Emus. Cold. Slippy metal.
I'm coming Allie!
Nice and slow. One leg each side. Sort of - clench the metal spine with your arse cheeks.
Not easy is it Allie. Bit slippy.
Nah but what a view man. You can see the whole city.
All of it?
What the London Eye?
Um - nah.
How about the O2 Centre can you see that Allie?
Hang on I'll-
Fuck. Bit slippy.
Allie hang on! ALLIE!!!
Allie fell off the dinosaur.
If it had been the stego whatsit he'd have been okay but he had to go climbing Trex.
He was trying to see the O2 Centre.
I'm going there now.
Payback for Allie.
If anyone asks I'll say I was inspired by the Middle East.
People like an explanation for these things.
Makes them feel safer somehow, all sorted in a little box.
Sounds better than my twin brother fell off a dinosaur trying to see O2.
I have mother's gun in the bag.
The one she used to shoot herself.
Allie fell off the top of that metal dinosaur.
I watched him fall.
Fell in the grass but banged his head on the way.
Made a kid cry little prick.
All because of O2.
We used to go there after school. We liked the little fish in the tank that nibble flesh off your toes.
It's a long walk from our house.
Usually I take a bus. 268. But my Oyster's-
Well yeah anyway. My Oyster.
Just another hoodie.
I'm white. Safe.
Ask this security guard-
Okay, he's down.
Hole in the head.
Running up the escalator.
Old man at the top.
Right through the nose.
Fingers caught in the escalator. Ouch.
Couple of kids in the photo booth.
One in the head one in the arm I think.
That'll look funny when the photos pop out.
What am I up to Allie?
Oh. Right. I forgot.
Four I think.
Allie counts better.
I'm the wordsmith round here.
People chasing us.
Into McDonalds. Captive audience innit. Go out in style.
Mum and her kids screaming under a table.
-"Climbing Dinosaurs", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
|Posted on October 1, 2021 at 1:55 AM|
From the porch Miller squints down the rugged coast toward Karratha and up Port Headland, a 240-km bite into the one/one million map of a blasted nation; the endless sweep of a continent adrift, red sand slices holding back ocean. Behind, thin red tsunamis of outback rock.
The shack is at the edge of Midpoint along a sandy jetty track, sheltered from dazzling seas by shallow dunes specked with plants. The village cafe, dirty old shacks and barn where miners danced are abandoned; Miller’s nearest neighbour thirty miles south.
There is a profound silence. Grey/blue dust covers roads, sidewalks, houses, too powdery for snowballs; Miller scoops some up to his shaking palm and inhales, rubs dirt into his flaky scalp, blows death-clouds.
-From "Ten thousand hours", first published by Prole Books (2011), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
“Ten Thousand Hours” was a very striking story; its plot is masterfully conducted; the setting is oppressive but never stagnant, as the story ultimately has an interesting twist." - New Yorker.