Writing and reading for pleasure – Part Seven (Preface) | Douglas Burcham

Douglas Burcham continues his series of articles on writing and reading for pleasure. We had agreed a deadline of 1st December for posting but I have accepted good hearty reasons for a delay as detailed in the following story as a preface to further deferred parts of his post later in the month.


Advent Edition – PREFACE

The Torture Chambers 

Tramp, tramp, tramp, Douglas feels his feet being pushed forward as he holds on for grim life. A short woman with long platted brown hair urges him on.  

“Keep going, shoulders back … stomach in … backside forward … head up … look where you are going.”  

Good, he thinks, as he sees movement to his right. Surely the end is now in sight. There is a jerk forward, no, certainly not, because he is being asked to walk faster to double the speed … tramp, tramp; tramp, tramp; tramp, tramp; he hears the rhythmic sound of his boots sounding like a class 142 railway wheel bogie on un-welded track.  

“Are you feeling all right? … try to keep going.”  

Chest pains come as if the air is thinning. 

“Stop if the pains increase.” The lady with the platted hair says again as he cries. 


Douglas sits down panting from his six minutes of hell. A short man, he had seen earlier, arrives and questions him, taking notes. He then smiles and closes his papers. 

“Can I go home now?” Douglas asks. 

“No, you are staying here.”  

“You’re joking,” Douglas responds. 


There is a good welcome and Douglas is put to bed with a cup of tea. 

Then three sleepless nights being fattened up during the daytime waiting for his fate. He recalls an Asimov story of miniature humans journeying around human veins. 

On the fourth day he is awoken like a contestant on the Apprentice at 6.10am with a request to take breakfast, dress and be ready by 7.00am for a day of starvation.  

Bright lights burn above Douglas as figures clad in what look like heavy colourful wet suits walk around him as he lies on a slab. The inquisition begins.  

“Name, date of birth, first line of your address, height and weight.” Given in imperial and repeated in metric. 

Douglas flinches as a first incision is made.  

“Does it hurt?” 

“Yes, a lot,” Douglas responds. 

A strange ball-like object swings soundlessly above him gliding back and forth in robotic arcs. 

“More morphine, then the blue liquid,” Douglas hears. 

Douglas thinks of blue gin and then feels his throat filling and he wets himself down below. 

“Surely the gods have not given him a wet dream so close to death,” Douglas thinks while cringing as a deep, pushing pain spreads up his right arm. 


“Yes very.” But perhaps no more than a filling at the dentist. 

“Cut down below and more morphine. Jackie cut his pants off.”  

All is exposed; no modesty here! 

The cotton having been sheered, Douglas hears several calm authoritative conversations between his torturer and his assistants requesting strange objects and devices. Then he sees pictures of the results of his torture having been semi-conscious all the time. All too soon Douglas lies flat before being wired up to another machine which whirs away his fate. A sheet of paper is put in his file to be looked at the following day after breakfast. 

Douglas reads – ECG Results: NORMAL “Yippee!” 

For those writers and readers with a family history of heart problems who feel, as I did, they are slowing down or have chest pains, I urge you to go to your doctor and ask for a rolling road rather than static ECG test. I found out I had unstable angina and because I could have had a heart attack at any time, I had to stay in hospital. The procedure, as those in the know would have realised, was an angiogram where one’s heart can be X-rayed in detail and action taken to improve blood flow by stents, as I have had, or to identify the need for more serious heart bypass surgery. I count myself lucky I did not have a heart attack and action was taken soon enough. This is another of my nine lives gone, perhaps?

My father who had a similar diagnosis to me in 1969 (and died within six months) was less fortunate because the amazing medical technology I benefited from did not exist then.  I have only recently lived a few days longer than my father did.

Coincidently the first part of the 2014 Reith Lectures broadcast last week records the origins of the technology I have benefited from.

The senior nurse on the hospital ward said to me without realising my writing pre-occupations.

“By the time you have been in here a week, you will be able to write a book.”

I chuckled and thought how right you are! I read three thrillers while waiting. 


Stop press 

A view of changes in the sales market for e-books from a successful author who started writing twelve months after me in 2011. 

Next post – 24 days of comments and thoughts on writing in 2014.


DouglasDouglas Burcham started writing on 1st June 2010 and has not stopped since. He was saved from the clutches of vanity publishing by Mick Rooney in TIPM in July 2010. In May 2013 his characters took all his fiction writing and set themselves up as the Allrighters with other writing friends. They self-published a book of short stories “Ywnwab!” in September 2013. In their latest Plan, by working in 18,000 novella word bites, Douglas, along with the Allrighters, are now trying to convert a million words of draft writing into several books totalling 900,000 words of unusual fiction and 100,000 words of non-fiction. The latter being about writing and memories of buildings, trains, boats and planes.

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