A Hubristic Flea


The image above was created by the magnificently-talented artist and writer Christiana Spens for the cover of a chapbook of mine titled A Hubristic Flea. The title was suggested by my friend Jenni Fagan and the chapbook is due to be published by 3:AM Press. It consists of an excerpt of the diary I kept whilst living in Cambodia last year, mainly because I had left my camera behind in London and I thought I’d follow one of my favourite writers Christopher Isherwood and try to make myself a camera; a ludicrous thing to do but one that kept me busy and, in a strange way, from completely destroying myself. Given it reflects real people’s lives (including my own), with romances and heartbreaks, glories, debaucheries and terrors, I’m not sure that it will ever be published in full. Perhaps it’ll be a time capsule and in thirty years someone can look back to see what has happened to all the people involved, people who I was lucky enough to know and a country I fell in love with, despite myself. Here’s the opening paragraph (K, incidentally, is my dear friend Chris Kelly who is working on a masterpiece and doing a great deal of good alongside the people out there):

‘K’s story continued even though he was now asleep. It was rainy season. He and the monk were travelling through a remote province, where the rust road scythes through the rainforest. A straggle of wooden shacks on stilts clinging to the roadside. An unmapped frontier town, a floating village, a petrol station with a sleeping attendant, cigarette in mouth. Cham mosques. High acacia trees. Bailey bridges. Avenues of rubber plantations. The golden dragon fins of temples rising above the mangrove swamps. A little kid, somehow wearing an Arsenal top, waves to us. I raise my hand, my skull rattling against the bus window, and smile, wondering how many hours had passed, if it was safe to down another fistful of codeine. K was used to the drivers in the country or had at least peacefully resigned himself to imminent fiery death. A few weeks earlier, he’d been dodging bombs in Sudan hurled from Russian cargo planes and, lacking my inveterate cowardice, had seen it as no big thing, befitting only a shrug and a laugh. He didn’t glance up any more when we overtook a bus on a blind corner or overtook a car already overtaking. Yet this one time, he’d looked up. There was a figure up ahead, staggering in the middle of the road. Out of his mind on rice wine it seemed, at first. The driver swerved round him and K caught the slightest glimpse as he flitted past. A photograph of an apparition in the mind’s eye. A look of disbelief. Tarred and feathered. Steam rising from him in the rain. K watched him shrink to an atom and vanish in the cinema of the rear window. It was maybe a minute, two, before he realised the man had just been hit by lightning. He never saw him again. K had left me with that image before passing out with a bottle perched perfectly upright in his hand, to dream of green cats and fireworks…’

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2 Responses to A Hubristic Flea

  1. Love it! (And I love the title too.) Best of luck with your book.

  2. Looking forward to reading more, the energy is infectious

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