- The mysterious radgepacket…
I’m in a slightly weird position here. A few weeks ago I had a short story accepted by Byker Books for their latest anthology, which has the utterly unforgettable title of ‘Radgepacket – Tales From the Inner Cities Volume 2′. Of course, I was delighted – but I was also slightly baffled. And that bafflement has stayed, because in spite of emailing the editor regularly, reading the whole of the first anthology, and visiting the Byker Books website every other day, I still have no idea whatsoever what a radgepacket is. And that annoys me.
There are a couple of clues. For starters Byker Books is based in Newcastle, so I’m assuming it’s Geordie, or at least north-eastern, slang. And two, they specialise in dark, gritty, even shocking urban fiction of the sort your Aunt Agatha would faint if she read, so I’m assuming it has something to do with that. But otherwise, I’m stumped – and what’s more, a friend of mine who was born within spitting distance of Byker has also never come across the term.
So, can anyone out there come to the rescue? Is it something horribly rude, or in spite of appearances is it actually quite normal and dull? I would love to know!
By the way, the story I’ve had published is called ‘Rock and a Hard Place’ and involves Jed, an ageing rock star whose pushy manager suggests he pretends to be gay in order to attract the pink pound and sell more records. Needless to say all does not run according to plan and there are twists and double-twists galore as Jed meets his supposed boyfriend Simon, goes clubbing, enters a lookalike contest for himself, and generally tries to stay sane.
Here’s a brief taster to whet your appetites:
It’s all old Hinchcliffe’s fault that Jed Lemmon turned gay. There I was lounging in bed one Sunday afternoon, hand resting on some blonde babe’s left boob, when there was pandemonium downstairs and before I knew it he was banging on the bedroom door. That kind of pissed me off. I mean, I know he’s my manager and I gave him the key myself, but even rock stars deserve some privacy – even washed-up old scrotes like me.
I patted Suzie on the rump and sent her home, then scraped my jeans off the bedroom floor and dragged them on. A quick swig from the flask I’d hidden by the bed and I was more-or-less ready to face the old man.
“Wotcha Jed,” he said, grinning from ear to ear and jabbing me in the chest. “How’s things with you?”
“Oh fine, just fine,” I mumbled, trying not to watch as Suzie’s Jeep sped off bad-temperedly down the drive. “What can I do for you, Mr H?”
It was the usual – of course it was. He dropped the bonhomie, even as he dropped his rump into an over-padded chair. “Business as well as pleasure, Jed. Records, to be precise. We’re not selling enough. Sales are down for the seventh month in a row – nobody’s buying your stuff.”
I took my time lighting a cigarette. “I’m sorry, Mr H. I’ve done everything you said. I can’t think of anything else.” Well, why the hell should I? It’s why I pay him a bloody great wad of my earnings every month.
“I know – and I’m proud of you. But don’t worry, I’ve had a brainwave.”
My heart sank. Great bloke, old Hinchcliffe, and I couldn’t have got where I am without his help. But his brainwaves are notorious. We’d already had the Jed novelty hats and the posters given away with Choco-flakes, and as for Jed Lemmon dressing up as an orange to advertise yoghurt – I’d had nightmares for months.
His jaw developed a horizontal crack that might have been a smile. “It’s simple. We tell the world you’re gay.”
If you’d like to find out whether Jed gets out of it all unscathed you can find more details on my website, or you can order the anthology direct from Byker Books. Be warned, though, their fiction is high-octane stuff. As they themselves say, don’t buy the book if you like happy endings or stories about kittens playing with bits of string.
And someone, please, put me out of my misery and tell me what that darned radgepacket is….
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