Deadfolk by Charlie Williams
Royston Blake is the protagonist of Charlie Williams's Mangel trilogy, consisting of four novels, the first of which is Deadfolk, and is out now. The others will be following a month apart. Blakey does not mince his words, just other people. Including me, your humble interviewer. Be advised, he's fond of four-letter words. If you're offended by such words, it's probably better to stop reading now (and definitely don't read this very short story of mine). I should also point out that Blakey has no mental health issues. Not even a little bit. No, sir.
Can you tell us briefly who you are?
I am Royston Blake. Everyone knows me so it ain't even worth saying what I do. But I can see already you ain't so sharp on the uptake, so I'll tell you anyhow. What I is, right, is a community pillar. I gone through all kinds of job titles over the years from plain old doorman right up to Front-of-House Customer Wossname Manager, but it comes down to the pillar thing in the end. See, every town needs someone to hold it up when the shite starts raining down on the rooftops. In the Bible, that were Sampson. He had long hair, right, and this big giant called Abraham came along and threatened to have away with his bird, Mary. So Sampson got a catapult and used it to fire a burning bush at Abraham, burning him to death and thereby parting the seas. By way of a celebration, he turned a hundred loaves of Mighty White into a thousand bottles of wine. And a few tins of lager. Lager were only just catching on in them days.
Can you describe your appearance?
You only have to glance at me to see the likeness. I sometimes wonder if Clint [photo of Royston Blake: right] weren't my real dad. The one I knowed as my dad when I were growing up were a right cunt, a little baldy feller with a wobbly round belly. Even a blind man can see I'm the opposite of that, with a full swede of hair, barn door shoulders and ashboard wobs. Then there's the togs. A lot of folks have said I ought to have been a model, wearing the latest suit from Top Lad and waltzing up and down the catwalk. I hate cats, though, so fuck that.
Tell us about your job.
For fuck sake, I just told you about it. You need a hearing aid or summat? Mind you, that ain't no laughing matter. If you're like me, and you've spent most of your years grafting in the nightlife industry, things can get a bit fucked up in the lug-hole area. Some mornings I wake up and it's the high-pitched wossname, ringing in your ear and not going away no matter how hard you ping it. Other mornings it's the voices.
What's your favourite thing about the town where you live?
Mangel is a fucking shite-hole. Even as a toddler I knowed that my destiny were to leave it. Some folks is born too big for their town, and that's me. I am like a golden eagle hatched in a nest of... I dunno, some shite type of bird. Bats, aye. I walks amongst the bats but I ain't one of them. I knows it but they don't know it, cos they'm blind. Have you seen one o' them bats? Ugliest fucking type of bird ever invented, I swear. No wonder they'm blind.
Where do you go on holiday?
Spain is my favoured destination. Aye, somewhere fucking expensive in Spain, like the Costa del Wossname. I ain't actually got around to going there yet, but I'll be jetting off there soon, just you wait. And there's no saying I'll be back. Then they'll know about it, won't they, them bats? The shite will be raining down on the rooftops but there'll be no Hercules to hold up the pillars, cos I'll be sunning my bare arse in Rio de fucking Barcelona or whatever. Did you know they got nude beaches down there, and that it's all fit birds and no mingers? I can't fucking wait. Nor can they.
What was your best subject at school?
Some younguns is child progenies, where they'm good at everything and way better than the teachers and school's just holding em back. But others is the opposite, where they can't get their swede around the bollocks the teacher is spouting at em. And it don't mean they'm thick - just that the teacher is a cunt. What we ought to do as a society is change the way we go about educating younguns, looking at how each one is different and letting em learn in their own way, cos at the moment we're failing loads of good kids and not bringing out their full potential. Then again, fuck em - I were a child progeny meself.
Do you remember losing your virginity?
It were with Jo Haynes. She's married to someone high up in the council now so she won't like me spilling the beans on this. Mind you, she should have thought of that before dropping her knickers for us in the lads' bogs at school when we was 13. That sounds quite late for someone so attractive as meself, but the birds in my year were well frigid and Jo were the first one to give us the nod, after I gave her a pack of 10 Lamberts. So we're in the cubicle, her with her skirt up and knicks down, me completely naked cos I prefers it that way, and as I'm going in and out my eyes latch on a bit of dried bogey on the wall that the cleaners can't get off no matter how hard they scrubs it. It's indestructible, this bit of snot is, and I recall thinking how I'm like that and all. Makes you feel that way, notching your first one up does. After the deed were done and Jo had finally fucked off I got a compass out and scratched I SHAGGED JO HAYNES HERE to commemorate this magic moment for posteriority. But some cunt changed the JO to JOHN. He got picked on a lot after that, John Haynes did.
When did you have your first fight?
Mind your own fucking business. That is a deeply personal question.
How do you feel about books being written about you?
Who's writ a book about me? Oh, you mean them ones with "Charlie Williams" on? Mate, they ain't books *about* me, they is books *by* me. The Writer, he just jots the fucking things down, me dictating my true stories to him while I sups lager and scoffs a few peanuts. One time I ate so many fucking peanuts I chucked my guts, right there at the bar in Hoppers. It's surprising how quick it catches up with you. Ten or so bags and you think you're alright. Go for the eleventh and whoosh... it's like a fucking water cannon going off, but with sick in it and not water. I tell you, Rache the barmaid were a lucky lass on that occasion. I happened to be looking at her tits while she were talking, so she got the full impact on her torso and not her face.
Have you read any of those books?
Eh? What books?
If not, then how do you know The Writer isn't just making stuff up about you?
He'd better fucking not be. Why, what's he been saying? He saying I'm bent or summat? I'll fucking kill him!
What's the best car you've owned?
Most folks would expect me to say my Ford Capri 2.8i, but I actually drove a Ferrari for a bit. I tell all about that in my fourth memoir, ONE DEAD HEN... but you gotta wait until August before you can read it. It's about a dead hen. And a Ferrari. But the hen ain't actually driving the Ferrari - the gearstick in a Ferrari is on the dash, and a chicken can't reach it. Nah, only bird who could possibly drive a Ferrari is an ostrich. That's why they'm the fastest land mammals in the world.
What's the best sex you ever had?
Shall I tell you summat, mate? You are a sex fucking maniac. You wanna get out there and find a bit of your own, instead of trying to cadge sloppy thirds off me. Or buy yourself a porno mag, more like.
Fags or beer?
Get us 20 Number One and a couple o' pints, ta.
Where did the name Royston come from and did you get bullied at school because of it?
Fuck you on about? You trying to say summat about my name? What about your name, you fucking twat? Allan?? Who the fuck's called Allan? Now "Alan" - there's a proper man's name. Almost as much a man's name as Royston.
How's your mental health these days?
Do you know summat? There's a certain way of talking to a person whereby you don't get your fucking face bust. You don't know that way, does you? One day you'll learn it - via hard and painful experience. Until that day, you just watch your fucking back.
Okay, okay. Back on safer territory. How did your parents die?
The normal way - Dad killed Mam and I killed him.
How many people have you killed?
How do you feel about settling down and having a family?
That is all I have ever wanted, but it never seems to work out. I been married before and that didn't last, God rest her charred remains. I had a youngun later on, with another bird, but I dunno where he is. What I'm thinking of doing next is getting wedded and then having a kid with the bird, so our family will be protected by the sanctity of wossname. Saying that, most of the birds around here are mingers. Except Rache.
Deadfolk by Charlie Williams