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Mark Liam Piggott is the author of several novels, including “Fire Horses” and “Out of Office” (both published by Legend), and dozens of short stories published in anthologies, magazines and online. He has had hundreds of features published in the nationals, researched and presented for television and film, and been a guest interviewee on TV and radio. Now an editor for literary consultancy The Oxford Editors, he is represented in the US by Titans Management.

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#MilitantFactionsQuotes 74: Her father sprayed petrol on the beehives and lit a match

Posted on December 2, 2021 at 2:10 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 74:

Once, when her mother was still alive and her father still had something to live for, he had kept bees, selling their honey in the market and saving some for Sunday best. But after she passed on he took to the drink and one night, as Mary hurried home from the dairy, as she walked up the lane she heard a terrible screaming and saw her father running through the paddock with phosphorescent ghosts writhing around his head. Her father had sprayed petrol on the beehives and lit a match, and the burning bees attacked him as they glowed; like fireflies.

-From "Black Eyed Bride", first published by Outside Left Magazine (2009), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 73: Everyone knows where London is. They just don't know what it is

Posted on December 1, 2021 at 2:15 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 73:

-You’re not from here, are you? she asks. I sip my tea.

-No.

-Where?

-London. England, I add unnecessarily. Everyone knows where London is. They just don’t know what it is, the nature of the beast. You must inhabit a place for those insights. An aboriginal with a battered pink guitar exits the fish market and lurches past grinning to himself. He looks twice my age: bet he’s younger. The waiter brings the coffee and cake. We’re looking at each other through sunnies and shades, protecting our eyes, circling one another like scorpions in the blistering sand.

-From "Rip it up and start again", first published by Frank Mask (2009), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 72: Wallaby's been in the night, leaving a cabbage leaf trail and specks of blood

Posted on November 30, 2021 at 1:55 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 72:

Wallaby’s been in the night, leaving a cabbage leaf trail and specks of blood. Miller follows the trail and behind an upturned boat finds its corpse, swarming in flies, dried blood coating bared teeth. Fetching a blunt old spade minus handle Miller tries to dig holes but the ground’s stone-baked so he gives up and places patches of spinifex on the body, knowing the ants are closing in.

“Ten Thousand Hours” was a very striking story; its plot is masterfully conducted; the setting is oppressive but never stagnant, as the story ultimately has an interesting twist." - The New Yorker.

-From "Ten thousand hours", first published by Prole Books (2011), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 71: Above the smashed Boston pub smoke rises

Posted on November 29, 2021 at 4:00 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 71:

Defecating in the bush and wiping with leaves he leaves the park in search of food and water for his pill, feeling unclean, wishing he'd remembered his passport to prove he belonged. He walks down empty Tufnell Park Road and crosses the usually rammed five-way junction. As he draws nearer the deli he smelled barbecued meat and his stomach moans: Maria's corpse, tied to a lamp post with wire, burned. Alive or dead? Does it matter? He barely knew the girl, once shouted when she overcharged for her divine Fettuccini.

The tube station's gates are padlocked but someone or something has bent and torn the metal lattice like chocolate. He looks round. Above the smashed Boston pub smoke rises and from the direction of Archway soft ululations: pagan chanting. Squeezing through he goes down 103 steps to the southbound platform. Empty. The indicator board flashes up gibberish:

repent sinners next tube hell hahahahahah...

...over and over.

-From "Fumes, hope and love", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 70: Another plane vanished from the sky: another conflict far away

Posted on November 28, 2021 at 6:10 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 70:

Another plane vanished from the sky: another conflict far away. This one crashed to earth. The only dispute was who brought it down. Fazia studied photographs taken at the scene, of strangely intact children sleeping in the grass surrounded by twisted metal. Of adults missing legs, arms, heads. Of colouring-books half coloured-in and open passports revealing faces of children forbidden to smile in case computers became confused.

-From "The Night News", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

The longest night of my life: my new piece for The Critic

Posted on November 27, 2021 at 5:35 AM


Handle with care. This is my advice to anyone desperate enough to consider ingesting Psilocybin in the hope it will ease their depression, as suggested by researchers at Compass Pathways in London. For although Psilocybin, commonly ingested in the form of “magic mushrooms” (Psilocybe semilanceata), may indeed leave participants feeling “recalibrated, reset like they haven’t for years”, it can also irreversibly impact mental health…

https://thecritic.co.uk/the-longest-night-of-my-life/" target="_blank">Read the rest of my latest Critic column here.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 69: On a long straight section of road he inspected his map

Posted on November 27, 2021 at 5:20 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 69:

On a long straight section of road he inspected his map: thirty kilometres to the nearest junction, three times further to the first named village. Trees danced at the periphery of his vision, rushed past into the gloom. Then, to make matters worse – consumed with worry he had slept poorly for days – it began to snow, light at first, then heavy, dancing in his headlights until it seemed his windscreen was being attacked by billions of fireflies.

Niko tried his radio: nothing. All he could hear was his own engine, disturbing whatever monsters lurked in the night, and occasionally that strange low moan from the sea container he pulled behind him.

-From "Shadow People", first published @ 3am Magazine (2011), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 68: I was floating. When I opened my eyes not dead after all: I curse

Posted on November 26, 2021 at 2:05 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 68:

I was floating. When I opened my eyes not dead after all: I curse. Carried on makeshift stretcher through night-ruins. The back of the man at my feet was covered in a German greatcoat and for a moment I clung to this hope but the voices Russian. I felt no pain and my eyes still worked, though ringing in my ears. These strong Russians carried me across deep craters, over rubble-mountains, made pretty by salmon-pink snow as bullets pass by like little ideas in the night. See now I still held kangaroo: as we moved I drop in snow.

-From "The Angel of Stalingrad", first published in Greetings” anthology (Enthusiastic Press, 2019), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 


 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 67: "I'll kick you so hard in the testes you'll need an operation!"

Posted on November 25, 2021 at 7:40 PM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 67:

Luckily the next watering hole we stumble upon is Holloway’s finest, the Litten Tree, aka the Happy Slapper. Some six-year-old mistakes my nervous twitch (damn insect) for a propositional wink and glasses my shin. This would be painful enough, but he’s broadcasting the scene to a bloodthirsty multiverse via satellite on his Balamory mobile. I wall him up.

“I’ll kick you so hard in the testes you’ll need an operation!”

-From "Hatful of Holloway", published in the "Down the Angel and Up Holloway" anthology (Pulp Books 2006), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 66: "I was down the market boozer," he said, "and there was this street trader..."

Posted on November 24, 2021 at 3:45 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 66:

“I was down the market boozer,” he said, “and there was this street trader with all his mates so I walked up to him and said, ‘which do you prefer? Your daughter’s cunt or your son’s arse?’ They absolutely fucking laid into me, snooker cues, everything. As they put me in the ambulance I says to the sap what tastes sweeter, you mum’s piss or your dad’s shit? They done me again, even the ambulance crew piled in. That’s the power of words. They’ll never get my words out their head. Now that’s hard.”

-From "Meat City", broadcast by 4'33" (2011) and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 65: Beneath the curving staircase to his left a plain wooden door carried a faded brass plate

Posted on November 23, 2021 at 2:30 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 65:

Beneath the curving staircase to his left a plain wooden door carried a faded brass plate bearing the unimprovable word ‘maintenance’. Edward held up the bunch of keys to one of the long pale lights, squinting, sweating from the Shamrock’s poorly piped booze, old barman Stan long gone to the crematorium, his smoke and Dolly’s entwined and rising, the place now staffed by Poles who had never tasted real ale in their strange cold towns.

-From "Midnight Hollow", published in the "Still" anthology (Negative Press, 2015), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 64: When he awoke with a tender head he would be embarrassed and ashamed

Posted on November 22, 2021 at 8:40 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 64:

When wine got the better of him he would come late at night, his eyes imploring those eyes to pity him and his loneliness, yet knowing within his sober soul how futile were his hopes. When he awoke with a tender head he would be embarrassed and ashamed, wondering why this unobtainable image held such power over him.

-From "Picture This", published in the "More Raw Material" anthology (2015), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 63: Forest slid by on all sides like we were in some computer game

Posted on November 21, 2021 at 5:55 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 63:

Out in the boondocks. Forest slid by on all sides like we were in some computer game. One last stop, down a sad little track off the metal highway. A campsite in summer. Stars spun: odd, here we were shaken from the equator, yet it seemed the earth was turning faster the further north. The sign on the store said this was our last chance to stock up or turn back.

-From "Crystallize", first published by Aesthetica Magazine 2006, and one of the short stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" - available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 62: An angry young man, but never hard, I got into numerous fights

Posted on November 20, 2021 at 5:25 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 62:

An angry young man, but never hard, I got into numerous fights; as the Whitty’s x-ray department can confirm the bus shelter won every time. One night I turned up on the doorstep of two friends covered in blood; they suggested I go to college. I spent three years learning about better writers than I and left Uni with a degree, debt, and an agent.

-From "This is the fierce last stand of all I am", first published in “The View From Here” magazine (2009), now published in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" - available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 61: 9.9.88 (Friday) Patras, Greece

Posted on November 19, 2021 at 2:05 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 61:

9.9.88 (Friday) Patras, Greece

People say Patras isn’t Greece, but for me it is more real than the sun-bleached villas of the postcards. Dirty, smelly, run-down, poor, dirty, friendly; being forced to spend a few days there is no bad thing. Having seen nowhere else, this will always be the real Greece to me.

“How did I get here?” I asked myself last night, pulling a rucksack through blocks of flats and hungry children playing ball. “How did I get here?” I asked myself, tired, broke and lonely, as the youths on scooters buzzed past and stared. “How did I get here?” I asked myself as I lay on a pebbled beach in the dark, watching rats scavenge and humans fish, scared that the police might come, or the fishermen. Then a rat jumped on my back, and sleeping on the beach didn’t seem such a good idea after all, not even for the early morning dip. I dressed, packed and was off down the road before you could say “Obstreperous”. Cursing the rats, and tired.

-From "Beware the Undertoad", first published @ 3:AM Magazine (2010), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 60: How to sketch a portrait of Broome?

Posted on November 18, 2021 at 4:05 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 60:

How to sketch a portrait of Broome? Take a palette containing some copper reds, some luminous blues, a few brown sticks and green palm leaves, smudge them across an achingly vivid raw rock on the edge of this island continent: don’t forget that unnatural yellow, the sun here shapeless, omnipresent as we slog round empty fly-blown streets, shutters down, cafes closed, looking for food for our protesting children.

-From "The Boab Sentinels", first published @ 3:AM Magazine (2008), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 59: We wake to watch the sun rise over the Bay of Biscay. Actually, that's a lie

Posted on November 17, 2021 at 2:10 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 59:

Wednesday 15th

We wake to watch the sun rise over the Bay of Biscay. Actually, that’s a lie. Sleep off a hangover, wake at eleven and miss breakfast. Decide hair of the dog is the only answer to the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Today is the third anniversary of the first time I met Lynda, so I take her out on deck and propose, smiling strangely like Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer. She says yes.

-From " Fever Espana: the sun also surprises” (or, “The Road to Pamplona: Fiesta In A Clio)", a shorter version of which appeared in TNT Magazine (2002), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 58: In the next beach hut, refugees from the Sixties play Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd

Posted on November 16, 2021 at 2:35 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 58:

In the next beach hut, refugees from the Sixties play Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd. Wish You Were Here? Welcome To The Machine, more like. They should look up to the sky and watch the motorized parachutes buzz the wind (our waiter calls it ‘fast air’) like mosquitoes. That’s where we all are, the privileged few. Then they should look down, to the bus station at Panaji, a Supertramp-shanty town of genuine refugees, from the Noughties.

-From "The Cockroach Clause", first published @ The Writers Link (2001), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 57: One cold night in another century, the longest of the year, I realised I had lost my keys

Posted on November 15, 2021 at 2:10 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 57:

One cold night in another century, the longest of the year, I realised I had lost my keys. The only spare set was with my friends and they had gone away, and I couldn't think of anyone else's number, forced out of my excitable head no doubt by all the ones I mentally underline, PIN and credit card and national insurance; and so I set out across London on foot.

Sloane Square at night is like a particularly schmaltzy Disney film: all women in furs, children in burgundy school uniforms, tastefully coloured lights. The West Indian steel band play a selection of carols. The scene is one of affluence: shoppers with bags from Peter Jones, shop displays of obscenely priced toys, clothes and furniture, the most expensive restaurants in town, and a huddle of blankets outside Smiths in the cold.

Many homeless people sleep during the day, when it's warmer and safer; at night they wander here and there. In a shop window in Victoria Street I see my image in a computer screen, reduced to digits by the camera, a Windows world, a binary whirl, pixelated like Jerry Springer's guests; with cable TV, even the picture breaks into squares of light., square pegs in square holes, slipping and sliding into hyperspace: a binary world of light and no shadow, all yes and no. Someone I thought I knew told me: 'there's no black and white, only black and grey', but try telling that to the pint of Guinness whose presence I prostrate myself before.

When I ran away from home I took a bus to Victoria and wandered up this same street, weaving through the colonnades to Westminster. If only I'd known then what I know now: what? I'd never have gone back to Yorkshire, I'd have ended up in some hostel or squat, a junkie or a rent boy, because I was young and easily led. Now as I wander women avoid my eye, perhaps scared by this hooded figure with a growth on his chin and a wallet as thin as his haircut.

People shout louder when you're out on the street. I drink from the can of Tennants, a semiotic badge of blue, and wonder if I'm violating any laws. There are so many empty dark streets to hide in, to get lost in. Outside Parliament they protest about Pinochet, and in Downing Street I flash back to the election, great hopes and dreams, shaking Eddie Izzard by the hand and being interviewed on Japanese TV. I was jubilant then. It didn’t last long.

-From "Pixelation", a collaboration with photographer and artist Martin Toft. Read the whole text in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 56: Should have felt wrong, shagging someone with Ian Wright on their shirt

Posted on November 14, 2021 at 5:50 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 56:

Should have felt wrong, shagging someone with Ian Wright on their shirt; somehow it felt great.

Marsha was complicated: National Front but her granddad was from Punjab. Good for me studies. She was going to be a cop but had to leave the training college at Hendon due to unspecified political activity. In bed she was a tiger and she always stood her round. She subscribed to Viz, Penthouse and for some reason I never discovered (she lived in one of those blocks on Harvest Estate that don’t have balconies) Gardener’s World.

-From "Norfolk & Broads", first published by Literary Commune (2015), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 


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