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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 86: Deirdre's folks had a caravan in Wells-next-the-Sea

Posted on December 11, 2021 at 4:45 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 86:

It was Mickey’s idea to go on holiday: me, Mickey, Marsha and her mate from police school, Deirdre. Deirdre scared me: she always wore pink dresses and pink bows in her hair like a little doll but beneath those flounces and frills she was pure evil: just Mickey’s type. Deirdre’s folks had a caravan in Wells-next-the-Sea and Deirdre had a key cut without them knowing.

“It’ll be canny,” said Mickey on the Thursday, as we planned the trip in the Favourite. “Norfolk and Broads, eh? Norfolk and Broads!”

He liked playing on words, Mickey: I knew what he meant, but with his accent, it sounded like he was saying “no fucking broads”.

-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.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 85: The West, where even the sun went, destination for the hungry world

Posted on December 10, 2021 at 2:10 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 85:

The woman sat in the booth watching the film, frowning, puzzled: so was Donald. The world portrayed - some rich American suburb of golden retrievers, wide grassy sidewalks and detached square houses - was his world, according to the papers: the West, where even the sun went, destination for the hungry world. She drank hot cocoa and ate plain bread as her blankets dried on radiators. When the last film was over she went out to the street with her warm blankets and full tummy and disappeared.

She never said thank you. He respected her for that.

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

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 84: A truck pulled up past the charred hotdog stand by the empty grey beach

Posted on December 9, 2021 at 2:15 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 84:

A truck pulled up past the charred hotdog stand by the empty grey beach dotted with driftwood or dead seals. Honey looked round: mom nodded from her Cherokee. Teetering in her heels Honey walked up to the cab and smiled. The little ladder was like a ladder, leading up to a trapdoor which was open. A hairy hand reached down. A giant in his cloud.

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

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 83: -When I was a kid, he said, -mum took me to the big shop in town and I sat on Father Christmas's knee and he got a boner

Posted on December 8, 2021 at 3:05 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 83:

-When I was a kid, he said, -mum took me to the big shop in town and I sat on Father Christmas’s knee and he got a boner. Never liked Christmas since.

Well that set them off, Giles spraying warm mist, Coll fluttering those long eyelashes and Smithy looking round to make sure they were laughing then laughing too with additional gusto. Gaz a bit irritated at the way they’d received his little anecdote he’d held inside like a hairy great turd these forty years and decided he didn’t fancy getting pissed tonight he’d see his kids ex or no.

-From "Fathers 4 Jaundice", 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.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 82: The first tethered hot air balloon flight took place in Paris on 19 October 1783

Posted on December 7, 2021 at 2:00 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 82:

The first tethered hot air balloon flight took place in Paris on 19 October 1783, designed by the Montgolfier Brothers and carrying Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, Jean-Baptiste Réveillon and Giroud de Villette. Almost exactly sixteen years later, on 22 October 1797, André-Jacques Garnerin became the first human to jump from a balloon using a parachute he designed himself. Garnerin had beforehand undertaken a series of experiments with varying levels of success, using more than one dog. To Adam, cats made more sense: they had more lives to spare and anyway, he didn‘t like them.

-From "Never Trust a man with Egg on his Face", 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 81: Cutting his clothes away I set to work. Not much blood: heart stopped pumpin'

Posted on December 6, 2021 at 1:55 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 81:

Cutting his clothes away I set to work. Not much blood: heart stopped pumpin’. The toes were easy, feet not so bad; it was easy to imagine it was just meat, pushin’ through the window-crack. But the closer we got to the middle the harder of daddy it got and it took a lot of thought to think it wasn’t daddy. I remembered that little man inside, that bad little man who’d squatted there and maybe meant to kill us both. If I kept cutting maybe I’d cut him out and daddy’s soul would rise through the trees to heaven or wherever he was required.

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

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 80: He didn't get off with Sarah and good job too

Posted on December 5, 2021 at 6:25 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 80:

He didn't get off with Sarah and good job too. I heard she once had a boyfriend who she loved. One morning she found him dead, overdose. She loved him so much she got a knife from the kitchen, slit open his balls, rubbed her fingers in his sac, and shoved them up her cunt, the better to have his offspring by. But he was sterile, like we all are. We liked her. Even if she was a Yank.

-From "Dreamers, Lovers, Absentees", first published in Buzzwords magazine (2005), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 79: He sat on the low wall outside the hospital and people gave him money

Posted on December 5, 2021 at 6:20 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 79:

‘Eva Hersch loved this place’: that’s what it said on the silver plate screwed into the bench. He was sure she did; though he couldn’t understand why and now would never get to ask if she had ever slept behind those bushes or begged for change from the patrons of Lauderdale House, a promontory-hugging castle when you have holes in your pants, guarded by angry young Polish girls who can’t understand how an Englishman can be so poor.

Whatever her feelings for these ambivalent environs the boy felt he’d have liked Eva, for he liked it here too: the flaking trees and golden heaps of rusting leaves, children at play on wet swings, chains creaking like old ghosts, unconcerned park-keepers driving leaf-sucking tractors down the well-tended paths. As a boy he’d lived near a park in another part of the city, surrounded by houses and flats and filled to overflowing with surly gangs and needles.

Usually he sat on the low wall outside the hospital and people gave him money, and nurses sometimes smiled and raised his hopes, and ambulance drivers waved at him and flower-sellers gave him ‘love’.

-From "Waterlow Sunrise", first published in 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.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 78: Once they're all sloshed Mike suggests they swap partners

Posted on December 5, 2021 at 5:55 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 78:

Once they’re all sloshed Mike suggests they swap partners, and Sue’s mood of resigned boredom momentarily lifts, until she realises he’s talking about mixed doubles for the tennis game. Once, when they were all young, they played outdoors on real courts with real rackets, feeling the sun and the wind on their skin. Now they wave electric boxes around, smash pixelated blots.

Sue partners Wilfred, who’s quite as hopeless at fantasy tennis as he was about real sex that one time when he visited the student halls knowing Helen was out; Mike, on the other hand, is as adept at electronic lobs and backhand smashes as he once was in the bedroom, in the conservatory, atop the multi-storey car-park adjoining the mall; masterful.

-From "A problem shared is a problem doubled", first published in Bewilderbliss 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 77: We'd each necked a pill from Greentooth

Posted on December 4, 2021 at 4:00 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 77:

We'd each necked a pill from Greentooth, just to make sure we weren't being robbed. Or rather, Kirk had: I kept mine under my tongue then spat it down the hole these dirty backward bastards use for a toilet. Could have been anything. Kirk's my big bald guinea pig. I watch him closely, or as closely as I dare without him noticing. He's muttering, laughing, crying: runs along the beach and in the sea, full-clothed. Emerging, soaked, he growls and tries to catch a wild dog. When I call him he turns, staring at a stranger, then disappears behind a wall to yelp at invisible moons.

I smile. In my bag I have almost five hundred little PB pills.

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

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 76: Peter was seeking momentary solace in his room with a newspaper cutting of Mariella Frostrup

Posted on December 4, 2021 at 3:55 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 76:

One night, tired of television (if, as Elvis Costello once remarked, “the ‘Late Review’ is wrestling for the middle classes”, what then was ‘Come Dine with Me’ – cage-fighting for the chatterati?) Peter was seeking momentary solace in his room with a newspaper cutting of Mariella Frostrup. Just as he decorated her pixilated cheek there was an urgent knock on the door. Peter stuffed the papier-mâché lump beneath his duvet and reached for his Bible, attempting to look composed.

“Come! Ahem.”

It was Paula, one of his “bohemian” flatmates. She was young, pretty and, this evening, very drunk. Along with the rest of the house she'd just returned from an Abba tribute concert; she was fetchingly bedecked in a silver Lamé jumpsuit with matching gold platform boots; her cheeks were painted blue and her hair was frankly a mess.

From “White Hawks”, one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 75: Even the books he'd read on Colditz escapees offered few clues on where to hide earth

Posted on December 3, 2021 at 2:05 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 75:

A further problem was where to hide the excess soil. Maddox considered mixing it with water and flushing it away, but after his toilet backed up and his bathroom floor flooded gave up on that idea. Even the books he’d read on Colditz escapees offered few clues on where to hide earth. In the end he took a little to work each morning and left it on trains, buses and the tube, as well as on the floor of lap-dancing establishments. But then he realised he’d need some of the soil in order to bury himself; and so he hid it in the shed, where no-one except prostitutes and his mother ever visited, and which contained only a large fridge-freezer she had bought him in which to keep ice.

-From "The man who buried himself", first published by Outside Left 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 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.

 


 


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