Some authors need candles and mood music to get them ‘in the zone’ to write… Manchester writer David Nolan just needs to be really angry about stuff. His first novel Black Moss was published in 2018 and came about because a factual book he was writing about child protection was cancelled. In a fury, he wrote a crime fiction thriller about it instead. His new novel The Mermaid’s Pool has just been published by Fahrenheit Press. It’s a Rave-era thriller set in 80s Oldham. We asked him for a Top Ten Things That Are Getting on His Thrupenny Bits this time around.
1.Feeling Like a Spare Part at a Cancer Hospital
My mum died recently – she had cancer of the everything. My sister died of cancer too. And my father-in-law. My mother-in-law and my sister-in-law have had it and survived. So has my wife. I’ve decided that I really don’t care for cancer. The specific, rather selfish thing I hate is the hopeless feeling of being a spare part as you accompany a loved one for their treatment. I remember going to The Christie (cancer hospital in Manchester) with my wife and sitting around thinking… I could go and ask a doctor and see if they’ll take it out of her and give it to me.
2. Neo Nazis
I think the murder of Jo Cox (the Labour MP shot and stabbed to death in 2016 by a Far-Right sympathiser) was a watershed moment for this country. But it’s not like it’s an isolated case. In 2019 a Neo-Nazi from Skelmersdale – I won’t name him, stating that he’s from Skem is sufficient – was jailed for plotting to behead the Lancashire MP Rosie West. He’d bought a machete and everything. The rise of the Far-Right and the normalisation of their language and attitudes chills me to the bone.
3. Moorland Fires
The fires are sometimes so bad on the moors above Oldham that I can see them from my house – and I live in Stockport. I just don’t get the mindset: let’s go for a nice picnic on the moors… shall we take some butties and some pop? Nah, we’ll grab a portable barbeque and some dust and gristle sausages from the petrol station on the way. Oh, and I’ll buy a gallon of four star while I’m there to get the barbie going nice and quick… I did a lot of research on these fires for the book. There’s 200 years of industrial pollution trapped in those moors and fires release it. It’s a big price to pay for a poorly cooked sausage.
4. Ignoring Local Politics
Because local journalism is a dying art there’s far less accountability now than there used to be in terms of local democracy. Lack of scrutiny is rarely a good thing. People get so wound up about national politics yet ignore the stuff that actually changes things on their own doorstep. I find the mindset of people who get involved in local politics fascinating too.
5. Dance Music
I’m a punk rock guy. I just don’t get dance music. It’s a huge source of regret. I’ve tried, I really have. I remember going into The Hacienda in early 1988 with my mates. We’d been going since day one in ’82 and The Hac was our club, but we’d had a break from it for a couple of years as we’d all moved away. We walked in and we were… what the fuck is this? I was only about 24 but I felt old. I’ve never been in a club since. Not once. Thanks a lot dance music.
6. The Internet
I used to work at Granada TV and I remember being told that five of the little photocopying rooms at the end of each floor were going to have THE INTERNET installed. If you wanted to use THE INTERNET you had to ring a number and make a booking. You were allowed to use THE INTERNET for an hour, max. I would like this system returned please.
Manky, brown, bitter bin juice. It smells and tastes awful as a warning… Yet still, you drink it. A beverage so vile they have to add shit to it to make it even a tiny bit palatable. Supersweet Cinnamon Toss Froth Manky Brown Bitter Bin Juice to go, sir? That’ll be nine quid. You dickheads.
8. Hospital Food Waste
It’s not the food itself – I spent quite a bit of time in hospital recently and the grub was fine – it’s the sheer AMOUNT of it. You fill out a form showing want you want for lunch the following day. It’s THREE COURSES! Apart from public school head boys, who the hell eats a three-course lunch every day? Bit a soup and maybe a scoop of ice cream will do fine. Then you’re asked to do the same for your evening meal. THREE COURSES AGAIN! And most of it gets chucked away. Criminal.
9. Hair Transplants
I’ve been on lots of flights from Turkey that have literally been Hair Transplant Aero Specials. Rows of lads from the Wirral with thousands of bleeding puncture wounds, their scalps just about being held together by flimsy cotton headbands with ‘Dr. Butcher’s Plenty Cheap Hair Time Clinic’ written on them. They must know they’ll be in for weapons-grade piss-taking when they get home… Yet still, they do it. Just be bald. It’s fine. Having said that, I have a lustrous barnet of silvery uber-hair that would shame a lion so it’s easy for me to talk. So, I will.
10. Thin Lips.
Hey, Thinny McThin Lips… how do you even eat with those miniscule elastic bands you call lips? Have you ever met anyone even remotely trustworthy with thin lips? No, you haven’t.
The Mermaid’s Pool is published by Fahrenheit Press and it’s available in hardback, paperback and as a digital download. Fahrenheit-press.com