If you haven’t yet met Archie the Alpaca now’s your chance.Prolific writer, social observer, grassiccino drinker, occasional dancer and loyal friend, Archie sees the world like no-one else. Gathered here are his thoughts, feelings, loves, hates and everything in between.From his remarks on the volume of phone conversations to friendship with cats, tributes to great art and artists, and the joy of being Salvador Dali, his diary will teach you to think about everything you know just a little bit differently.
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About the Author
Kevin Macneil Is An Award-Winning Writer From The Outer Hebrides Now Living In London. He Is A Novelist, Poet, Editor And Screenwriter. The Brilliant & Forever Is His Third Novel.
Read an Excerpt
LAST DAY OF THE PREVIOUS YEAR
Two dangers exist on the road of truth, a wise man once said – not starting and not going all the way.
I have kept this book short.
Open your eyes like the sun rising.
There are so many people in the world that the chances of someone breathing in unison with you right now are very high indeed. Feel synchronised.
Learn an obscure language, keep it alive.
Quiet coach, train to London. Someone has a SatNav. 'In 300 metres, turn left.'
Should old quaintness be forgot?
Salvador Dali said: 'Every morning when I wake up, I feel an exquisite sense of joy – the joy of being Salvador Dali. And I ask myself, in a sort of rapture, what wonderful thing will he create today, this Salvador Dali!' I wish he were alive today to post this on social media.
AFTER MY CAT ATE A TIN OF MACKEREL AND CHICKEN BREAST CAT FOOD
Elphie (neighbour cat): Yo, Katsu, your breath smells weird.
Katsu (my cat): What – no, it's just mackerel and chicken breast.
Elphie: Mackerel and what-now?
Katsu launches into an epic tale of how he had a massive once-in-nine-lifetimes fight, on a farm by a river, with a fish and a chicken simultaneously, ending in his seizing the mackerel in one paw and the chicken in the other, before devouring them both like the miniature lion he is.
Yes, Katsu. But you and I know the truth. You and I know the truth.
There's no need to kill time.
It takes time to learn that time is a knife that heals.
Edited my pants and socks drawer in the morning, now doing the same to a screenplay.
sunlight on the loch the fence trembling; her hand on my shoulder
SITTING IN THE NIGHINTGALE WITH TOOTHACHE CAFE
I spoon some sugar into my shimmering grassuccino and stir. I wonder about all the individuals who were involved in bringing this grassuccino and this sugar to this table, all these solid little miracles being what they are, in their allotted place. They will fade. This cafe will fade. You yourself will fade. Life has a fading nature. Sensitivity makes noise of us all.
Collect driftwood, make art-pieces, throw them back.
Lion spotted in Essex Has he no pride?
Sleepily hallucinated that a film director, a piper, a director of photography and the daughter of a South American missionary were in the living room watching Irish hip-hop videos on YouTube. Went through to the living room and right enough, it was really happening.
Mime your innocence to a CCTV camera.
'Now can you see the screen?' 'Yes. Nice cinema. Good leg room.' 'We're in the front row.'
Visit an art gallery. Take home themes from your own life.
AND SO A YELLOW PAINTING GOT ME THINKING
I was a happy, relaxed and popular alpaca in primary school. Those days were bright yellow with joy, I was bookish and sporty, ideas flew through my mind like a soaring shot on goal.
Sometimes the North Atlantic wind whipped the ball away, like God was on the other team.
My friends and I were skinny, energetic, polite, safe. The golden days were often punctuated by a bird's poignant call, the elegiac melody of the wood pigeon. To this day, every time I hear a wood pigeon, my heart physically pangs. I wanted to be a famous footballer who could score the winning goal with a header even after all his legs were broken in a mysterious incident on the pitch earlier and also I yearned to be a writer who could compose poems that had the same impact on others the wood pigeon's song had on me.
Painted all my rooms yellow.
Repeat things only when you must. (Repeat things.)
MY NEW NOVEL
My new novel is a deconstructed novel. You get a dictionary, notebook, pen and a pair of glasses (without any lenses).
Obliterate sarcasm with a healthy chuckle.
When someone inadvertently makes a quip and says, 'No pun intended!' look them straight in the eye and say with a grimace, 'That's alright. None achieved.'
We all know Edinburgh's Waverley Station is named after the Walter Scott novels, but did you know that Grand Central Station is named after Elizabeth Smart's beautiful novella By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept?
Put a shell to your ear and you hear the sea; touch noses with a cat and you smell cat food.
that dog on the train could be a human being barking at time's heels
Sauntered into Tiffany's whistling Moon River, put on my best Truman Capote accent, asked if their breakfasts are all-day, got chucked out.
I come from a long line of alpacas who enjoy queuing.
Don't go off the rails. Unless you accept the rails were there in the first place.
The finest phrase in the English language: 'Oh, and I bought you a custard slice.'
Investigate the love-lives of people who had ideas centuries before their time.
Above all, a stunning moon, one which is not quite the same as any a not-quite-the-same-you has ever seen.
Consider the ghillies.
writing haiku late into the night i forgot to put the clock forward
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY FRIEND'S TALKING TORTOISE:
Take things at your own pace. Your life continues when other lives are gone; other lives continue when yours is gone. Soft interior. Hard exterior. Plan ahead. Cultivate patient, endurance. Always have a haven.
Treat objects as people.
Dentist: Any plans for the weekend?
Me: I'm going to do couple of big bike rides.
Dentist: No, you're not.
Me (frowning): Is the forecast bad?
Dentist (laughing): No.
Write your own elegy, code it and bury it in the text of your will.
To catch up with modern times I'm no longer going to do 'book signings'. Instead I will enrich your book with a personally sourced, bespoke, artisanal, handcrafted rendering of my name.
Also good for the ego is being rejected by a magazine you didn't send work to. Magazine, I reject your rejection, just as I reject your policy of rejecting material that is unrejectable by virtue of its never being submitted in the first place.
Do exercise as you see fit.
Thought I'd happily get through life without buying an angle grinder. I was wrong.
Visited the excellent Museum of Transport in Glasgow. Semi-invented a genre, The Found Lydia Davis Story. Under the Sinclair C5 battery powered car is a card that reads: 'I won this C5 in a competition. Everyone came out to see me drive it – I felt like the Pied Piper. It was useless on hills.'
sunk to the bottom of the water an oar six feet from the moon
What we read is the quality of our reading.
writing a love letter too quickly, i upset my cup of green tea
Sometimes short stories are what happen when you're busy making other novels.
Every time I do an interview I put the phone down then wonder what the hell I spent the last thirty minutes talking about, and quietly fret until the interview is published in case I said the direct opposite of what I meant, etc, etc.
Unexpectedly bumped into Kim Jong-un in the Bentall's Centre, Kingston. He looked a bit sheepish and chuckled as he said, 'I'm just on holiday, it's no biggie. This is the last place they'd expect to find me. I don't think the average person realises how exhausting it is being a despot.' I asked him how he's filling his days and he told me he's reading A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and watching a Laurel and Hardy box-set.
Unusually for a cat, Katsu chases anyone on a bicycle. Following a horrendous near-miss, no option now but to lock away Katsu's bike.
Remember what things were like for you before you were born.
AT A BUDDHIST PROTEST:
'What do we want?' 'An end to desire!' 'When do we want it?' 'We don't.'
Cycled, made sushi, wrote some recipes, started drafting a book review. Oh yeah, and some scientists discovered an alien megastructure.
What will the alien megastructure make of kittens? That is the real question.
Indulge in diversions.
Throw away the road map.
MOBILE PHONES IN PUBLIC PLACES
When people lower their voice to say, 'I love you too, snugglebum, bye' why couldn't they have conducted their whole conversation at that volume?
A warm hug is a comfort. Though admittedly yes, less so, officer, when it's a case of mistaken identity.
Sanctify a place no one else holds dear.
by the gravestone two cats, ballet-like, boxing
Visited Mary Shelley's grave, Bournemouth. It's also the burial place of Percy Bysshe Shelley's heart, following his largely but not wholly successful cremation in Italy.
The point of contact is to understand the point of contact.
Rearrange your diary. Begin the year with July.
Eating out. 100% certain the waiter is an English guy putting on a French accent. He is, whether actually or in character, struggling to understand my Hebridean accent.
Not all the best tunes have been written and not all the best times have been had, maybe.
over the Colosseum as over a blackhouse the moon in its moon-ness
Excerpted from "The Diary of Archie the Alpaca"
Copyright © 2017 Kevin MacNeil.
Excerpted by permission of Birlinn Limited.
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