My First Elbow-Trigger

Has anyone read my novella LADIES in its few obscure incarnations since I wrote it in the early 1990s? Well, it is coming out in a new DFL collection, to be announced shortly, and, when I recently proofread it, I was astounded that its first chapter is a most striking elbow-trigger, many years before I had discovered the existence of such things in literature!


Below is the start of the self-published Lulu book of LADIES that hardly anyone knew about!


I did not then know consciously that this was an elbow-trigger as such, but it now represents for me two or three pages of the most exquisite example of one, if I say so myself!

My authorial notes on this novella in 2015 here: … where I end up (perhaps pretentiously!) writing:

If I wrote this novella, which I severely doubt, then it is, with no doubt at all, my greatest work. Seriously. Why did I ever give up writing like that? Despite the disparate dreams, cruel conceits, wild jokes, it eventually becomes poignant (with the nature of Dame Floerence’s communion with the Scapegoat and much else), and it’s pre-emptive of the way the world has gone since it was written. 


“Mr Boggis was driving the car slowly, leaning back comfortably in the seat with one elbow resting on the sill of the open window.”

That is the opening sentence, the first elbow trigger as such I’ve found, and, what is more, there follows a wonderful story of O. Henry con-trickery, and a story the end of which set me laughing literally aloud, and that rarely happens! The story of Boggis masquerading as a parson who, on paper, triangulates cross-sections of countrified landscape to include the target farmhouses and other country houses where he can ply a cheating trade in antique furniture, buying cheaply from the farming community and selling dear to the London trade. Farmers are easy bait it seems, and amazingly I read by chance a story of such rural sports by O. Henry a couple of days ago (reviewed here), and that made me think if the internet was in place at the time, Boggis would never have been able to play such tricks. And his shenanigans here with a trio of hard-bitten farmers regarding a Chippendale Commode I dare not detail here for fear of severe spoilers worse than those farmers themselves!


Context of this review here:

A FISHING STORY by H. Russell Wakefield

“Sometimes he gave the impression of being very tired and tired of feeling tired. And he had to peer up close when he tied a fly. He spoke in a charming, reflective sing-song, but it was the voice of an old man.”

“By ten o’clock the sun was elbowing the clouds away, and the three of them were trudging along beside the racing, rising Glady, and soon to the loch and in the boat and out upon it.”

And so the scene is set in Donegal, with the old gillie and much fishing parlance, and bridges over the Glady that more often break when someone’s on them, and places where fishing or hunting avoided by gillies, with haunted implications from the old Irish troubles, today two tourists fishing with this gillie, and well, a catch that took one tourist in and the other after him, some strange hardness and softness to be parted beneath the river…reminded me (me, a sensitive tired old man, too) of flesh needing to be unhinged from bone….


Context of this review here:


“I never answered a word. I stood still, repeating to myself the rollicking lines of that merry jingle, ‘The Man with the Hoe.’ When I looked at this farmer, the little devices I had in my pocket for buncoing the pushed-back brows seemed as hopeless as trying to shake down the Beef Trust with a mittimus and a parlor rifle.”

Not sure I followed all the word-braggadocio of the old American-Joycean references here, but I do get that Jeff Peters again and his pal Andy step off the train randomly at a town where they can dupe or con farmers, easy bait, always, farmers. But farmers seem to have gone hi-tech with data by wireless and there is no way through with the goldbrick trick, yet one farmer finally succumbs to the under-the-walnut trick just for the pleasant nostalgia of being duped or conned!


Context of this review:

Needless to Say

From the story by myself and my Dad in 1998 entitled Needless to Say:

“Such speculation – or brainstorming as modern parlance has it – might lead to uncomfortable or even dysfunctional conclusions. There is often a shiny tiny pellet of truth in a sludge-barrel of lies – it’s just finding it that is the difficulty in such oblique considerations – and one often has to face up to many evident absurdities along the way. Indeed one must summon up absurdities on purpose in the hope that they, once discovered and then discounted, will reveal from beneath them the solitary pearl which one originally set out to seek.
My mind did ‘run riot’, therefore, in more ways than one – to return to an expression that slipped out almost accidentally in a previous paragraph of this tract. By writing all this out, I am trying to reconcile matters in an as orderly a fashion as possible, backed by a faith in fortuitous serendipity. A catharsis of words? A purging? A trial of memories? Only possible when one starts to write everything down. Better than remaining airy-fairy in the mere mind alone. Stories on the page are better than stories in the head.”

New ‘a touch of a switch away’ version of this book :