This is my site for short stories, from the darkest and most chaotic corners of my mind.
My name is Alan David Penrose, I have spent over thirty years of my life locked away in one proffesional kitchen or another. I have worked the West End of London, Directors Dinning rooms of the City of London, and a few Pubs and country house hotels. As with most chefs I am an alcoholic, recovering and 6 years dry, insomniac and grumpy old bastard. I have been known to bark at the postman, start impossible fights and almost abandon the wife’s car at a set of traffic lights in Buxton as It all got too much for me, I did not give a second thought to the £2,500 worth of Mediterranean Olive wood planks I had just bought, in the boot of the car, the extra weight in the car from the wood was possibly part of the reason why I kept stalling the car and subsequently skirted the edges of a mini meltdown. I have not been quite playing with a full deck of cards since my major melt downs of 2012 and 2013, I only tell you this as it may help to explain the oddness of my stories.
Since 2013 i have stepped out of the culinary world and indulged my passion to create with a new found skill in woodworking. I still have all my fingers, although the table saw had a nibble at my thumb, which got me a weeks ban from the workshop by my wife. It was not so much the 5mm slice it removed from my thumb but the straw that broke the camels back, after breaking two finger on the lathe, and quite posssibly fracturing another two. She despairs with me and my total lack of care when self harming, pain, in my view, is the best indication that you are still alive, and possibly the reason my advice to chefs that a burn is best run under hot water, yes it hurts, but what a buzz you get.
So, what is this book about? Nothing. When I was a child I had a book of bedtime stories, short stories or poems, and one for each day of the year. I loved it, it was the thought of that book which gave me the idea for this one. I am not normal, I can find humour in the bleakest of subjects. I am a recovering alcoholic, which is the reason so many of these stories have booze in them, I am living a booze filled life vicariously through my characters. I can still taste some of my favourite tipples as I write about them in my stories. I did think that I was using it too often, but its amazing how many TV shows, or movies that have booze in them. I had not noticed this until I gave up, and I look upon them with envy, “The Winchester” in Shaun of the Dead, the bottle in the desk draw of every officer of the law in TV shows, “Cheers” which entirely drink based. To most normal people out there having a swift pint after work, an all day session or a cheeky G&T before dinner is totally acceptable, and I am happy for those who can, I cant. I don’t have the voice in my head saying “ohh, squiffy, I have had enough”, I only take the hint to stop drinking when I pass out. So, I love booze, I still do, even though I no longer partake.
All these stories are daft, wether it be “Tommy the budget stuntman”, “Where are they now” which is a story of Pooh Bear and friends after the shows finished and the cameras are packed away, I have an extremely odd mind. They are in most parts supposed to be humorous, in some the physics or science may not add up, but they are just meant to be daft, not to be scrutinised. A bit of frivolous fun, on the plus side writing this kept me off the streets sniffing glue and stealing hubcaps, spraying graffiti or bothering pensioners. There are be a few poems thrown in, to act like something citrusy to balance out overly rich food, the salt and vinegar on your chips, the mango chutney on your curry, know what I mean dudes?
My therapist could probably pin point me in every story, my insecurities, my fears or my shame of how I lived a portion of my life in the early 2000’s, but in most parts we write from our experiences, fears or shame. It’s is some how easier to write what we know and give it a little twist. There are parts of me in most of them, there are a few that have no real life experience, those come from my wacky imagination. I often tell my wife that I was once a hitman killing people for money, I loved to travel the world, meet new and interesting people, and kill them, but I was not, or was I? I have also told her I have done a lot of body double work for stars such as Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Angela Jolie and stunt work for blockbuster movies. It makes her laugh, and that’s all I need to keep me on the straight and narrow. In one story I have borrowed a line from J. Robert Oppenheimer, all though I have changed it slightly, and I may have used a few lines here and there from songs, I love the line from a soft cell number “where the heart is” simply “home is where the hurt is”, it’s a line that resonates with me and it is a simple but very clever line.
As a chef we were always told there are no new ideas, I guess it is the same with clever lines, we borrow from others and fit them in to our stories in a different context. I was once told that I used to many well worn lines in a few poems I sent to the editor of a defunct poetry magazine, and she did not even have the good grace to send the letter back on a fresh piece of paper, just hand scrawled a few line in reply on the back of one of the poems I sent her, which told me all about her that I needed to know, plus if she was on the ball I guess her magazine would have still been I circulation.
Short stories, by definition, are stories within 3,000-12,000 words, some of mine are just over or just under the 12,000 words, like ‘Invasion’ , which is about 15,000 words to some as low as 2,000 words. So, I hope you enjoy these stories, and make you chuckle, I would even settle for just a smile, I’m easy, but don’t take any of them seriously, life’s far too short.