I was lucky enough to join a group at Conflux this year giving readings from recent stories. I read from The Tub and maybe got a little too into it… (photos by Cat Sparks.)
So Ariadne, I Love You won best novella at the Ditmar Awards on Saturday. Absolutely bonkers when you look at the books it was up against. I managed to pull it together enough to give a semi-coherent acceptance speech – this time not just a long list of happy expletives.
How fkn chuffed do these kats look?
We found the tub in the wastes out back of the Kwik Fit tyre place. A dark overgrown no-man’s-land of dirt and weeds between the back gardens and spiked fences of Richmond Road, and the mountains of bare, burst or burnt-out tyres in the Kwik Fit yard. Ivy, crab apple and cow parsley grew wild in that narrow space, unowned and shut off from the world. But me and Dave knew a way in—a secret way—down in the corner of the neighbourhood recreation ground.
We was bored and summer-holiday aimless, hungry for distraction. Some kid in Dave’s class swore blind his brother found a stash of Reader’s Wives in a Tesco’s bag somewhere off the rec. So we was sort of on a quest for porno mags, but also not really—just happy to be out of the house, out in the sun, with purpose enough to make an adventure of it. We’d skirted the bushes behind the little-kid’s playground, climbed the spiked iron railings and trampled the clumps of bramble and stingers what grew up against the tyre yard’s high tin fence. There, at the corner, was a sheet of tin curled up at the edge. Under this we’d crawled into the dank wonderland beyond, that shady in-between place with its weird smell of creosote and compost, of sunshine and rubber. From one side, blackbirds and Radio 4. From the other, workshop clangour and the distant hum of main-road traffic. We didn’t find no porno. What we found was the tub.
It was one of them old-fashioned bathtubs, with feet like a lion. The legs was ornate, clawed paws wrapped round with snakes. The base was ringed with designs: grape bunches, vine leaves and the like. White enamel it was—or were. It was so dingy with grime you couldn’t imagine it’d ever truly gleamed. It lay askew, one foot inches off the ground, the other corner sunk in the dirt. Ivy’d grown all over and through, tangled between the legs and half covering one side. Must’ve been there an age.
But the tub was nothing compared to what was inside…
Read more in Issue 16 of Midnight Echo.