Back in around 1983 or 84, my grandad (aka Pops) gave me my first Michael Moorcock book. I’d already been exposed to Conan by this point, as well as a number of other more or less similar but generally less worthy scif and fantasy tomes.
Moorcock was something else altogether.
His writing had a tremendous impact upon me as a teenager and continues to do so to this day. So much so that I started a podcast to celebrate him, his writings and on occasion some of the other stuff that came my way via Pops and my similarly minded uncles. Pops was a special case though.
He was like most Grandads of that generation, a World War 2 veteran who spoke little of his experiences except in quieter moments. For me, most of those moments occurred following the death of his wife, my Nan, Eve. Pops was, like most men of his vintage in those days, almost entirely dependent on her, and not just emotionally. Her death left him not only grieving, but exposed and vulnerable. It also made him more open and much less guarded in our interactions. I spent a lot of time with him in those last years (although to this day I regret that it wasn’t more) and we talked long into the night on many subjects.
I found that my perception of him as pretty straight-laced and buttoned up was not entirely the case. Although perhaps not as tightly wound as my maternal grandad (a veteran of the campaigns in North Africa and Burma), he was quiet and not particularly forthcoming on a number of subjects that were mind-blowing for me as a bloke in my early 20s. I’d always known him as a relaxed and good humoured presence, always in his rocking chair and swift to get us drinking port and lemonade at Christmas as kids, a habit I continue to this day (just in pints and with a larger port to lemonade ratio).
That he’d served as a royal engineer working in bomb disposal, I knew. He had a photograph of himself with around a dozen comrades in their ‘best’ sitting room, atop an old electric organ he’d built himself in the 1960s when he worked as an electrical engineer at Ace Electric in Hull. One day, when he was telling me of his wartime experiences (the first time he’d ever spoken openly to me about them) he went along the rows of men and told me of their fates. He explained briefly, without detail, that many of them were blown to bits whilst defusing the hundreds of UXBs that fell on Hull during The Blitz, and how others had passed away by other means. Most strikingly he got to the last face that wasn’t his and described how he’d heard, several months too late attend the funeral, that that man had died in a car accident.
That was in the 1950s.
Pops had been the last surviving face in that photograph of twenty or so men for over 30 years. Then he told me about his experiences with opium, spirit writing and astral projection.
It was some time after his death that my uncle passed to me the journal, as told to him (Pops claimed) by one Mr Connelly. Whether this was in person, via the spirits or recollected on waking from voyages of the mind we can never know.
I present this to you, the first volume that I have managed to transcribe from his terrible handwriting, for your consideration as an interested party only.
Andy Stimpson (@STIMBOT5000)
Some years back our game of choice for some time was Hawkmoon. An off-shoot of the Stormbringer RPG, the first edition of Hawkmoon was a threadbare affair in a gorgeous box. We most recently used the Mongoose edition, largely a variant of their first Runequest revival. It had a bit more beef but the background and adventures were not to our tastes, so we did our usual thing and created our own scenarios, mostly Loz but I took over for a wee while at one stage.
Our history with Moorcock-inspired role playing games goes way back and I, in true Moorcockian fashion, have played the same character (or variants of) for over twenty-five years, although there was a significant gap during our wilderness years.
Gerard Arthur Connelly, a thinly veiled Oswald Bastable clone, was an airshipman from an alternate 1970s Norfolk somewhere amongst the Million Spheres. I had a lot of fun with him, much to Loz’s chagrin at times, as he varied in tone, appearance and sexuality (although never gender, perhaps next time).
I had at one point taken up the habit of writing up games as a narrative aide memoir for the players as there were gaps of up to three months between sessions. On this occasion I put a little bit more effort in (harbouring as I did at the time a desire to write lame Moorcock pastiche) and decided to tease the other players by employing the unreliable narrator shtick (not that any of them read it, but it entertained me at least) and the narrative soon diverged from the game due to my terrible memory.
Anyway, as the Breakfast in the Ruins show has progressed the Journal has made it’s way into audio form and now, as an exclusive for patrons of the show, a chapbook version in print and PDF (coming soon).