Monday, 21 March 2011

My Little Stab at Historical Fiction . . .

A little while ago, I had a little stab at an historical fiction novel.  It's still in me head.  But the research, the research just seemed so overwhelming, so I went for the short game.  And I'm loving the short game.  But this historical fiction novel is still in me head.  And I will do it.  One day.

The book had the working title of 'Frontin Up the Roman Empire'

Here's the first chapter . . .

Chapter One

Sort of near the Thames, A.D. 43

When the barley is up, and the sun is high, days like these bein a slave ain't so bad. I mean, it ain't great, you know, but it could be a whole lot fuckin worse.


That's Barry. My mate. He's out ploughin the next field. Geezer's a fuckin idiot most of the time but I wouldn't be without him for the world.


'I broke the plough.'

Shit. That's the third one this month. Heavy handed, see, Barry. Strong as the ox what's pullin him but thick as fuckin shit.

'Stay there, Barry. I'm comin.'

Better have a look. Governor ain't gonna be none too pleased, though. Weren't too chuffed when the last one broke in half. Mind you, anyone could see that piece of shit weren't gonna last long. Poor workmanship. I mean, what do you expect when you get something off Charlie the Chippy for three potins? Shit. That's what you get. Fuckin shit. But me and Barry got it in the neck for that one anyway. Governor said this is our last chance. That's why Barry's lookin like the sky's just fell on his head.

'I didn't mean it, Steve,' Barry says, comin towards me, tears rollin down his big old face. 'I didn't mean it.'

He tries to put his arms round me, cry on me shoulder, you know. But it's been such a scorcher, he's got his trousers off and his bollocks hangin out, so I got every right to give that one a fuckin miss.

'It's all right, Barry,' I says to him, makin sure I'm arms length at all fuckin times. 'It's all right.'

And I start lookin at the damage. Cracked right down the middle, like the last one. Governor's gonna go mental. Tempermental, these Gauls. Can be right nasty an all, if they've a mind. But mostly they just throw a little strop, wave their arms about a bit, and give you a little slap. Not this time, though. That's us fucked.

'Put your trousers on, Barry. Time we was off.'

We leave the plough where it is, and drop the ox back at the barn on the way back. Can't do nothing about nothing. We'll come back in the mornin. Perhaps. But right now, Barry needs a drink.

I ain't much of a drinker, myself, but Barry, it's the only way he gets through a day sometimes.

Eddie, One-Eyed Eddie, he does the best beer on the manor. Serves it out his hut, back end of the village. That's what our barley's for. Eddie's beer. Me and Barry cut the barley, Governor flogs it to Eddie, Eddie makes his beer, me and Barry drink it. That's the circle of life, that is. The circle of fuckin' life.

So, we're comin back through the village, and I got Barry snifflin behind me thinkin the whole world's fuckin ended. He still ain't put his trousers on. And all the old girls, they're out, havin a right old fuckin gander.

'Don't like the look of yours, Hilda.'

'Ah, bless. Nice arse, though.'

Hilda the Frog and Sally the Splat. Sally's got a birthmark on her face the shape of cow shit, and Hilda keeps frogs.

'Come on, Stevie boy, show us what you got!'

'Fuck off, Hilda,' I says. 'I ain't in the mood.'

'Not in the mood, eh. Come over here, and I'll soon sort that out.'

She gives me a right old leer, and it makes me feel sick. The hair stickin out the wart on her chin don't do her no favours, and she's only got two teeth, one up top and the other one just off centre at the bottom. Sally ain't so bad, though, quite sweet, really. But she always acts the slut when Hilda's with her.

We leave Sally and Hilda pissin themselves laughin, and me and Barry head on over to Eddie's gaff. I get Barry to put his trousers on before we go in. Eddie don't run that kind of establishment, see. It's a respectable gaff. Sayin that, first person we bump into's Alfie the Arsehole. Proper fuckwit, he is. Thinks he's better than all the rest of us put together.

'Hello chaps,' Alfie says.  'Didn't recognise you with your trousers on, Barry. And Steven. When will you get that moustache trimmed? Handlebars are so last year. Still, I guess it's still the fashion . . . somewhere.'

I don't want none of his shit. It's been a bad day.

'Fuck off, Alfie.'

'Oooh, no need for that, ducky. I'm only being friendly. Just doing my bit for the less fortunate.'

That's it. I've lost it now. Less fortunate! Fucker. He's just as much a slave as the rest of us, 'cept he sees himself as better cos he's like wine taster for the Governor, or something. Love to see his head hanging outside Eddie's gaff one day, with all the other oiks what've crossed the line in here.

'I'll make you less fuckin fortunate in a minute, pal,' I says.

I'm squarin up to him. Squarin up to this fuckin tosser what's not worth a handful of shit off the wall.

'That's enough lads.'

It's Eddie, come over to sort it out.

'It's all right, Edward,' Alfie says, goin out the door. 'I was leaving anyway.'

The bastard gives me a grin and a wink, then disappears. Good fuckin riddance.

Eddie's see me and Barry ain't in the best of humour and offers us a beer on the house. Since me dad got his head cut off by the Atrabates, Eddie's been like a father to me.

Barry's stopped cryin at the mention of a free beer.  Thank fuck.

It's bleedin hot in here, and I feel like takin me trousers off myself. I can see Barry's itchin round his waistband, gettin a bit of air in there, but like I says, Eddie don't run that sort of gaff. He's got standards, Eddie. Standards. There ain't no smoother shit on the walls in the village than here in Eddie's place.

There's just me and Barry in at the moment. That's only cos Barry broke the plough and we've had to finish early.  Everyone else is still toilin away in the fields, but they'll be here soon enough.

Eddie hands us a couple of beers, and pours one for himself.

'Here you go, boys,' he says. 'Put it on your shoulder and say it's not a burden.'

Dunno what the fuck that means. Eddie comes out with this sort of shit all the time.

'That's right, Eddie,' I says. 'Cheers, mate.'

Barry's drunk his already, before I've even got mine to me lips. Me and Eddie look at each other. We both know Barry's off on one of his benders, and there ain't no way back for him after the first one.

Two hours later, Barry's flat on his face, arse in the air. That big, he is, he's takin up most of the bar.

'Stevie, get him out of here, son, he's blockin up the place.'

Like I said, Eddie's a top geezer, but he won't stand for no-one stoppin up his trade. I'm tryin to drag Barry out, when this kid bursts in the door, breathless.  Big smile on his face.

'The Romans are comin,' he screams.  'The fuckin Romans is comin.'

He's up for scrap, this kid, and he can't be more than eight. Me and Eddie laugh him off. The fuckin Romans. I mean, what do they want with a place like this?

Then there's this rumblin and this shoutin like the whole ground's opened up somewhere. I drop Barry back on the floor and poke me head out the hut.

Catuvellanui fuckin everywhere. Stark bollock naked, painted blue head to foot, runnin for their fuckin lives.

And I mean, that's all I need after the day I've bleedin had.

The story goes on to tell the tale of how Steve and Barry are captured by the Romans and taken to Imperial Rome as slaves.  The lads, quite simply, have two choices: live a life of continuing servitude or set about bringing down the entire Roman Empire from within, one self-inflated piece at a time . . . 


  1. Funny thing happened on the way to the forum -- a couple guys with funny accents jumped my ass and demanded I turn over the keys to the Empire. I don't have an Empire, I got an old wreck from Nigel's Used Chariots. Some people. I swear.

  2. You've got to find time to do this, Ian. These two on an adventure of that scale would be highly entertaining. I like hapless Barry and smart mouthed Stevie already ;)


  3. Love it! Another great voice fighting its way out of your head. I can see the research would be time-consuming, but hopefully one day ...