Scribbles and sketches and lots of silliness from The Faces at the Window
Rejected Literary Submissions
People often ask me, as a renowned publisher with over fifty decades of experience, why are there so many crap books out there? I chortle. Then I frown. Sometimes I go for a cry in the supply cupboard. My answer is that you’re right there is a lot of crap out there but believe me, it could be a lot worse. Yes, we have to put up with fifth rate memoirs from flash-in-the-pan contestants of reality shows and yet another cookery book with a beaming ex-chancellor’s daughter on the front BUT for every one of those there are five or ten or even fifty books I have saved you from. Why, these entries have come across my desk just today!
Here are those rejected literary submissions in full. Longinus Nazareth, Commanding Officer, Bethlehem Books Co.
“I buried another one last week. The feelings of loss are always the same but I have learned to almost enjoy the breathless anguish of tragedy; savouring the sensations and textures of grief. Why did I get another one so readily? Perhaps I was too free and easy and too willing to give my heart the first time as if I never believed it would end. I still never do. It must be the triumph of hope over experience. I remember Edith so well, perhaps the first never truly leaves you, bringing me cabbage and potato in the summer and sheltering me by the fire in the winter. Edith had been something of a minor celebrity in Bow when as daughter to the milliner to The Duke of Wellington, she had been on hand when her father presented His Grace his hat personally; the very one worn that day at Waterloo. My first memories are of my mother leading me on her back to the stream where we could bathe and hydrate. This would be of singular importance for my next person. Edith passed on in 1858, a victim of typhus; I was distraught and sought solace for some months in the arms of a terrapin from Brompton. Many thought she was a cheap hussy, sharing her dandelion seeds with anyone, but she listened and from her I developed strength. It was shortly after I shook myself from mourning that I was handed to a young scientist, Charles Darwin and it was from him that I developed my abiding love for sprouts and sextants. At the Galapagos, I found a land of giants; although a trifle solipsistic at first, our long chats around the shallow pools widened and deepened my acceptance of my place in the world.”
‘Charlie: My Life as a Tortoise, 1810-2016’ by Bobby Testudo
“I suppose it started on 15th September 2005, at 9:17 in the morning; no, make that 9:18 and 10 seconds. I was demonstrating some elementary semaphore to the Navy Cadets on College Lake in the Aylesbury Vale and it was as if some preternatural force was ordering my arms to stay that way, rigid, hands outstretched in the crucifix position. The boys were waiting for me to change from ‘cancel/belay order’ to the ‘error’ command; after a minute of gawping and shuffling Able Cadet Vic Blanch approached my jetty.
‘Are you alright, sir?’
‘My hands’ I yelled ‘I can’t bloody move them’.
Blanch summoned three of the larger boys and began tugging my arms down. Although ineffectual, I had a moment to admire the sheepshank knot on the makeshift pulley they rigged.
‘Do you suffer from muscle lock or anything, sir’ inquired Ordinary Cadet Steppings.
‘I don’t know, lad. Go and get the medic!’
Suddenly, my left arm lurched a tiny but perceptible distance towards the ground while my right arm remained where it was, frozen at a 45° angle.
Nervous now, I whispered ‘What time is it, Blanch?’
‘Twenty past nine, sir’
‘Is that exact, Blanch? Be sure!’ I urged
‘It is, sir’
At that moment I knew. I had hoped the same fate that afflicted my grandfather and father would spare me, but no.
I was turning into a clock.”
‘I’m a Bloody Clock Now’ by Lieut. Roly Bathysphere
“People often ask me ‘how did you get so good?’. It’s a banal question and I’m insulted to hear it so it is unlikely I have ever responded to you; preferring as I do to jab the questioner in the rib cage, near the heart, and run off. However this is a book I have decided to write since my professional athletic career is over and I might as well answer the question. I got so good because I always forgot my PE kit. What do you think about that? That’s right, PE does not prepare you for anything except how to suppress plutonian night terrors of freezing cross country runs and being hit in the thigh by a football. While all the other boys were running about in colourful tabards, or not, depending on which side you were, I was learning my true craft. Our PE teacher, Colonel Dainty (he wasn’t a real colonel. He’d stolen the uniform at a Remembrance Day parade in 1978) said to me:
‘Boy, you’re going to go and pick up every crisp packet and lolly stick around the school while the proper boys are going to become muscular and attract girls’.
A claw thing on the end of a stick and a bin bag was issued and I was pointed away by the bloodshot finger of a military impersonator. I have wondered many times over the years where he is now, and whether he ever dwelt on my success between gritted eyes and cursed his own pompous ineptitude. Well, dear readers, I married him. Not really, that’s just a literary joke. He died in prison in 1995; I looked him up in the newspaper archive. So, how did I become an Olympic Gold Medal Litter Picker? It all began when I removed my shoes and realised my agile talon-like feet could pick up twelve Roysters’ packets while someone else would barely have grabbed the first coke can…
‘Bin Bags of Glory’ by Zuul Thornbury
“I used to run the Dog and Guns out by Bexley way. I was a proper landlord, me. Oh yes. No nonsense. I once had to bounce the Krays. They was trying to do a deal for shooters with the flippin’ IRA, wasn’t they?
‘Not on my watch, son’ I says. ‘What kind of landlord would I be if I let you buy submachine guns and have only bought halves of mild? The brewery will jam a pump handle in me harris before you can say ‘mustard’.
Lennie McClean was with ‘em too but he knew better than to get involved. That should give you an idea of the sort of geezer I am, mush.
It was a right blinking surprise then when the brewery announced I was gonna get seconded to the Savoy to be the new sommelier. It was the 1980s and there was a gimmick at the time for this stuff called ‘wine’. Apparently people still drink it. Well, I never change. In fact I never even give change. It’s my gaff and you’ll play by my rules. I remember the first Herbert I decked.
‘Bottle of Bolly, old chap’ says this ponce.
‘Sorry, sunshine’ says me
‘No, I ‘eard you. I’m just sorry’. It’s an old classic but it makes people feel uncomfortable and that’s when I’ve got you.
‘Haw-haw-haw’ says this yuppie and his gaggle of birds. ‘Tell you what, make it two, guv’nor – it’s after midday after all. Haw-haw-haw’
I got in his mug. ‘Let’s make it two broken legs, shall we?’
Well, I shouldn’t need to tell you how long His Royal Majesty bloody lasted. He was out those beautiful mullioned windows before you could say Harold Pinter. Bolly at lunchtime? What’s the world coming to? That said, turning the dining salon into a tap room and changing cucumber butties to a pint of whelks made sure him and his lot never came back. It was about the same time I stuck the dart board up.”
‘You’re In My Pub Now, Sunshine: Reflections of a Cockney Publican’ by Dennis Grappler