• Professor Rimmer has Absconded

    Perry Iles, author and regular contributor to Words with Jam, muses on his muse, and his latest opus, Hand Knitted Electricity

    Shably (n, prop.): A new name for the children of people who live in caravans, West Ham supporters, girl-band members, former page three stunnas and sportsmen’s wives, which would be Chablis if they knew how to spell.

    Professor Darren Rimmer has absconded. He’s either on the way to Venus in God’s spaceship or he’s buried in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Roadkill, Arizona, just off the line of the old Route 66. Of course, there are those who say he was apocryphal in the first place. Like that Tom Waits song, some say that he was never here at all.

    I hope he comes back, because he was my muse. Muses come in all shapes and sizes. Back in the days when literature was about having a really strong hand and being good at carving on stone, muses were Greek goddesses who were inevitably bang-tidy and inspired writers who were invariably male. More recently, Stephen King had a muse; it was a Fornit called Bellis who lived in his typewriter and ate dead bits of skin and fingernail parings in exchange for giving King the odd idea. It was a grumpy bastard, and it was decidedly male.

    Professor Rimmer was my muse. He came along one day and started squatting in my laptop, where he produced unpleasant smells and occasional outpourings of bile that made me laugh. Occasionally I had to clean his sick up and chase really scabby women from his bed. Usually those women spoke with Geordie accents and had the sort of faces you could slice bread with. Rimmer was an ill-tempered, unreconstructed old sod who smelt of stale cigarettes and cheap aftershave – Lynx or Brut it was, the sort of stuff you give to pimply teenage nephews you don’t like very much who will grunt something at you and rush off upstairs to masturbate to a picture of Nicki Minaj. Rimmer’s gone now, but he did leave a parting gift. Well, he left several, but the most palatable was a book called Hand-Knitted Electricity, a compendium of neologisms such as the one above, which reads a bit like the thinking man’s Profanosaurus. Some people think it’s funny, others just want to burn it. Either way, they have to buy it first.

    But one thing it did do was to get an embittered old hack writing again – sorting through the dross Rimmer left in my head and hard drive, alphabetising Rimmer’s list – which is a bit like Schindler’s list only less helpful to humanity. I was a washed up old has-been who used to stare at blank Word documents with drool sliding down my chin as I waited for either inspiration or opening time. I live in Scotland, where opening time started in 1678 and hasn’t stopped yet, so precious little writing got done before Rimmer came along and shat on my head. It has to be said at this point that I did not work alone. There were co-conspirators, fellow plotters, other writers who contributed vast swathes of filth and general ghastliness to Hand-Knitted Electricity, and who would be mentioned in dispatches had they not insisted on complete anonymity in return for having their contributions aired like dirty laundry for all the world to see. I remember a time when I was small and an Italian family came to stay with my parents, and in true Italian tradition they hung their bed-linen from the front window of our house in a small English village soon after getting up. When my mother saw her best linen blowing in the breeze for all the world to see, she reacted with typical English reticence. The desire for anonymity that relates to Hand-Knitted Electricity is probably similar to, if a little stronger than this. However, if you, dear reader, wish to buy the book, you can get it in ebook or proper form off of Amazon. It’s quite funny and not very expensive.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hand-Knitted-Electricity-First-Edition-ebook/dp/B009ZLRYDQ [e-book]

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hand-Knitted-Electricity-First-Edition-absurdities/dp/1480078417 [paperback]

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