The continuing adventures of a newbie, as e-mailed to a friend
Monday 11 March 1996


Dear Arianna. Yes, I've been thinking about our "conversation", too. It is odd how one can feel close to a stranger, that one has never actually met physically. Sure, I've seen your picture (finally managed the download) - but you have no idea what I look like (probably a huge disappointment to come - tho' no one's ever complained!) and we have never spoken.

What a list you asked for! This is the usual exchange between folks in the States, is it? I was certainly fascinated by yours.

Here goes, then. Weight - 11 st 7; eyes - blue; hair - light (golden?) brown; favourite food - beef stroganoff; favourite girl singer - Mariah Carey; favourite opera - Don Giovanni (the film); favourite movie - Pulp Fiction (were you joking about Pocahontas?); favourite planet - Jupiter; favourite heavy metal - cadmium; two sisters and a brother; small scar on right cheek; favourite exercise - what do you think?; favourite recreational drug - cocaine; Capricorn; favourite after-shave - CK. Favourite computer game - Player Manager 2.

Phew! I don't think I've left anything out. I haven't really got a top male singer, but I'll see if I can find anything by this Steve Forbes and the Flat Taxis that you recommend so highly. C&W is it?

Must dash - Jed needs a hand with something. Write me.

And yes, number 12 would be fabulous! Gives me goose-bumps and other things all over.

Sig your own Dig


Rudy. Hi! A quick one. What is taking cocaine like? You Americans all seem to know, and it's relevant to the book.

Sig Dig

Tuesday 12 March 1996


Dear Rudy. Thanks for the prompt reply. Don't think I'll bother with it myself. I've always had a problem with my sinuses and I'm not sure that coke would help.

Arianna sounds well, thank you. And while your warnings about romance on the Net were doubtless well meant, let me stress: there is nothing between Arianna and me other than a love of literature, and a determination to write. Oh - and wild, passionate sex (joke). You didn't tell me what you think of my homepage. Last weekend, having read so much about them, I decided to taste the local cybercafe society. So I limped down to the Broadway in search of "Flames", Crouch End's own newly opened meeting place for the knights of the keyboard.

Having absorbed the hype I expected a large Parisian brasserie, full of mutimedia Sartres and Picassos, sipping their absinthes au lait and composing extraordinary virtual realities on 19-inch screens, while garcons in white aprons brought them baguettes and cleaned their mice.

Instead "Flames" is housed in what used to be the Parthenon Anglo-Cretan Minicab Agency, and using substantially the same decor and furniture - right down to the shotgun pellet marks in the wall where Nicos (known locally as Sordid the Greek) met his untimely end at the hands of a rival.

No espresso machine, but an old kettle on a Formica tray surrounded by a pool of old milk, edged with sodden sugar bags. The garcon is an ageing hippy called Nolan, who sits there reading sci-fi comics, grunting "10 pence" if you so much as look at the kettle. Sartre and Picasso turn out to be two rather sad chaps in their early twenties called Len and Don, whose main interest seems to be calling up filthy material on one of Flames' two battered computers and having a good laugh. (One item - a question from a student compatriot of yours to a helpline - concerned the damage done during oral sex, when the girl wears a tooth-brace ... and even made me laugh).

Saving grace was a 13- year-old with a nose-ring, name of Zip. Zip, of course, is a genius and really runs the hardware at Flames. We got talking and when I said that I had an acquaintance in Arizona, he set up a line with the cybercafe in Flagstaff, and let me talk to a guy there. This chap has promised to look Arianna up the next time he is in Tombstone - so I'll get some confirmation that she is indeed a foxy lady, and not a bearded computer loon with a weird sense of humour.

More soon. Sig Dig.

Saturday 16 March 1996


Dear Arianna. And a huge hug to you, too. Any more on a possible trip to the land of the limeys? Exciting news: I have written chapter one of Wild Man, Wild Horses. Would you like to read it? I would certainly value your input.

Synopsis: It is 1850. Bug Cody - christened Aloysius - (orphaned when both parents were killed in a train derailment deliberately caused by outlaw Blue Jake Brannigan), leaves the monastery where for 10 years he has been a novice, has learnt his scriptures and has become a crackshot with a hunting rifle. He arrives in Boston, carrying only his mother's Bible, a blanket roll, a LeMat 750 long-barrelled gun and a handful of bullets. He intends to go West.

I'm really pleased with it. What do you think?

Love Dig.