Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Visiting the King(s) in Memphis

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

It’s pretty much impossible to visit the American South without at least stopping by to see the King. Celebrity bear and bestselling author Teddy Tedaloo of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) fame just had to pop over to Graceland to pay his respects to the man who sang with such affection about teddy bears – and he took me along for the ride.

Ted had a blast checking out the home and the life of Elvis Presley. Being a creative artist and famous entertainer himself, I must say he was a tad envious of all those accolades “Elvis the Pelvis” received for his work. As for me, I think the writing was on the wall when I ended up having chocolate sauce spilled all over my trousers and shoes as we took a break for some ice cream in the Graceland ice cream parlour. So much for all my published books and fame (not fortune)….

I spent the rest of the day feeling…well…sticky. And on a hot summer’s day in a southern state with ants, this is not a good thing.

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

I had considerably better luck the following evening when we decided to visit the other king: namely B.B. King. Unfortunately he was out of town (he was probably out searching for that thrill that’s gone), but his nightclub was up and running for business on busy Beale Street, where I fared far better with an order of barbecued ribs than I did with Elvis’ soft serve. It was also Hog Night, so the bikers were out in force, showing off their nifty two-wheelers (and occasionally three). We even saw a werewolf biker.

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King's

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King’s

Or at least I think it was a werewolf. Perhaps that microbrew I drank was stronger than I thought.

I should tell you that Memphis is not exactly a town full of shrinking Southern violets. On the contrary, some of the ladies are quite, shall we say, forward. One afternoon as we were leaving a downtown parking garage, my friend was asked by the female parking attendant in a very no-nonsense soulful drawl: “Is that a tongue ring?” – followed by the demand: “What’s that for? Let me see it!” When my friend complied by sticking out her tongue, she was then asked: “Is that for sex?”

Only in Memphis.

Unfortunately Memphis has a very high crime rate. And unfortunately yours truly became yet another statistic of it. Was I robbed at gunpoint? No. Was I carjacked? No. In fact, I was safely sequestered (or so I believed) inside the living room of my friend’s house when the crime was committed. As I was chilling out with a glass of wine, little did I know that only a few feet away just down the hall my bath poof was being murdered by a dodgy local character who goes by the name of Udo. I mean, you only need to look at him to see the word CRIMINAL written all over his furry face. Talk about being caught in the act!

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Out of respect for our lovely hostess, I didn’t bother telephoning the police. (However, she doesn’t know that I plan to sue for compensation.)

I suppose there’s a bright side to all of this: at least I didn’t take my bath brush with me. I dread to think of its fate had Herr Udo got hold of it.

As the locals can be heard say, Lord have mercy!

 

Normal for Norfolk: The Literary Collaboration of the Century

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)I guess it was inevitable that I’d finally end up being completely usurped by my famous celebrity sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. His popularity has continued to grow over the years, and many of my fans and readers have been going over to his camp. Obviously I don’t wish to begrudge him his successes – he deserves every bit of it! But what’s a lowly author to do when she discovers that her star is waning while that of her bear’s is waxing?

Why, write a book together, of course! I’m referring to the release of our new venture Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles),  billed in the publishing industry as a “quirky crime novel.” It’s the first in our new series featuring the diminutive ursine protagonist and unlikely hero Thelonious T. Bear – a Mini Cooper-driving photojournalist teddy with a fondness for deerstalker hats, cologne, and real ale.

Unfortunately for the hapless Thelonious, he keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, which accounts for why the spotlight of suspicion shines upon him in a murder enquiry. The fact that he’s far too small and far too short to be battering grown men with crowbars and hauling their dead bodies around makes little impact on the man in charge of the investigation: the bumbling Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk CID.

At the risk of sounding like a book publicist, if you like your crime and mystery a wee bit different, you’ll definitely get your shilling’s worth with Normal for Norfolk! Did I mention the flatulent dachshund, the tobacco-cured rock guitarist, the beekeeper, the celebrity TV chef, the whisky-drinking old granny and the 21st century’s answer to the Kray brothers? They’re in here too. There’s even a grumpy vicar. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the county of Norfolk appoints Teddy and I their official authors laureate!

Not surprisingly, the novel is taking off big time with the ursine community. Ted’s furry friends (and even those who aren’t so furry) are rallying around the novel like gangbusters, giving it some major paws (and claws) up. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been putting my eggs into the wrong baskets all this time. I mean, here I’ve got a slew of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and yet I’m not getting nearly the amount of cheering and celebration and recognition that Teddy is. Hmmm… Funny, that.

Mitzi Szereto & Teddy Tedaloo (photo credit Eric Schneider)

Mitzi Szereto & Teddy Tedaloo – The hottest literary partnership of 2012!

As for my new literary partnership with Mr. Tedaloo, some of you might be thinking that I’m trying to get a free ride on someone else’s coattails. Sure, we’ve seen it before – writers who can’t come up with their own stuff and freeload off someone else’s labours, even latching on to a bigger name to gain some glory for themselves. I’m afraid that in this particular instance I might be guilty of the latching-on business. But times are tough, and it’s not easy trying to make a living as a writer. To stay alive as a writer, one must expand one’s literary horizons – and expanding my literary horizons is something I most definitely do.

It’s always good to keep folk wondering (and hopefully wondering with anticipation) what you’ll come up with next! As for riding on coattails and all that, I should tell you that Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) was in its inception long before the film “Ted” showed its face in cinemas or was even being spoken about. Besides, our hero Thelonious doesn’t use foul language like (ahem) a certain animated bear. Which is not to say you won’t find some foul language in the novel. When you have Vinnie and Desmond Clark, two thugs from Bow, East London featuring prominently in the book, you’re bound to run into that sort of thing. So for that reason I’ll give our novel a PG rating.

So go on, you lot. Buy your print or e-book copy of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) now, because if you don’t…well, maybe Teddy and I will need to have a friendly word with the Clark brothers. And I don’t think you really want that, do you?

(Watch the book trailer!)

Burning Man: A Local Tale

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

In this fragile and depressed economy, I wouldn’t want to wish bad on any business. But there are times when it’s pretty obvious that a business is a serious blight to the community. Sometimes you aren’t aware of just how major a blight it’s been…

…until it’s gone.

I refer to the recent (and what appears to be major) fire at a popular nightclub on the local High Street: on the surface an unfortunate event, in reality a blessing – at least to us poor bastards who live within drunken shrieking distance of it. It happened early Sunday evening before it was due to open. I’d just arrived home from a Mitzi TV video shoot in Kensington (an arduous task, since there was engineering work on the rail line, necessitating a replacement bus service which increased my travel time by a good hour each way). I was attempting to chill out when I smelled a very nasty burning. And no, I wasn’t cooking!

My initial thought was, had Burning Man suddenly been relocated from the Nevada desert to a town located on the edge of London?

When I went to look out the window for any signs of new-age “radicals” singing “Koom-By-Ya”, I saw that the air was thick with smoke (slightly worrisome what toxins might have been IN that smoke), and it sounded as if every fire engine from every fire brigade in southeast England was heading my way. I was ready to grab Teddy and my laptop, and get the hell out.

Fortunately, such measures proved unnecessary; the smoke appeared to be slowly thinning. Just to make sure all was well and neither Burning Man nor Armageddon was taking place in the hood, I decided to find out for myself what was happening. However, no sooner did I reach the sidewalk when a neighbour called down to me from his balcony (Romeo, oh Romeo!), informing me that the entire High Street was closed off and the famous infamous nightclub had been charred. Satisfied with this explanation (he was cute, surely he wouldn’t lie to me?), I returned to the warmth and safety of my flat, where Teddy and I kicked back with some Swiss chocolate.

Well, that night was the first night in two years I heard nothing but blissful silence. No shouting, no yelling, no shrieking, no sirens – nothing but a gentle breeze and the occasional chirping of a bird (along with Ted’s occasional snore). Coincidence? When the same thing happened on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, I had to conclude that no, it was not a coincidence, but a direct result of the fire. Clearly, the vast majority of anti-social behaviourial problems and criminal activity taking place in my town stemmed from one main source: the nightclub.

No more nightclub, no more problems.

I can’t begin to tell you what a pleasure it’s been not to hear drunken sluts shouting and shrieking till all hours, along with their chavvy male equivalents who seem to think that being a “man” means to be so inebriated they can’t even walk. Oh, and of course swapping STDs with their drunken female counterparts in a toilet or alleyway.

In the immortal words of Alf the Cockney Devil from my short story “Hell is Where the Heart is” (Getting Even: Revenge Stories): “Put the spoiled little shits in the army, that’ll make men of ’em.” (And women, too, no doubt.) I should add that Alf’s idea of a real army was the Israeli version. Wish I could say these booze-soaked blights to modern civilisation were an anomaly. Alas, they’re more the rule than the exception in the cities and towns of Britain.

All I know is, I don’t want things to go back to how they were. In fact, I’m tempted to run for political office, if I thought I could keep this menace of a nightclub from re-opening and re-attracting the scummier residents from the less salubrious towns within commuting distance to mine. Just think what I could do if I was on the local council. We could have a Mitzi TV video featuring quirky councillors engaging in a singalong at their local pub!

Oh, yeah, I did that one already.

Okay, how about an egg and spoon race?

I am the Passenger: A Eulogy

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

The perennial passenger.

He started off in Belfast and finished up in Sheffield, a city famous for steel, the Arctic Monkeys, and the film The Full Monty, among other things.

So what does an Irishman who’d come by with his guitar to serenade me with weepy Irish songs (the Irish can compete with the Hungarians for misery, I’ll tell you that) have in common with a classic Iggy Pop song? Well, it’s the kind of thing that could only have happened to Yudge.

I’d been living in Leicester at the time, and one afternoon he’d taken the train down from Sheffield, armed with gee-tar and a bottle of red. We met up in town first, had a couple of pints at this dodgy pub full of arguing Scotsmen, then landed in a tapas place with a pitcher of sangria rapidly disappearing between us. After that it was back to mine, where Teddy and I were regaled with tragic musical tales of lovers lost at sea and potatoes that refused to grow – all this to the accompaniment of that very potent bottle of red. In between this melodic misery we had the comic relief of Iggy Pop – and I made my mate sing “The Passenger” at least three times, too. Damn, even now I still love that song!

When the bottle had run dry and we’d likewise run dry of songs (not even The Beatles were sacrosanct), I realised I either had to offer my sofa for the night or pack this Irish crooner into a taxi. The taxi won out, since there was plenty of time to catch an early evening train back up north to Sheffield. However, when the clock struck midnight (okay, the digital face on my bedside clock) and I hadn’t received so much as email or text, I became concerned; it was only an hour’s journey. I texted, I phoned, neither of which yielded a result. Where in hell had he vanished to? Had he run into a mate and gone down the pub? – or worse, run into his estranged wife and her gangster boyfriend? There was nothing I could do but go to bed and hope for the best. He was a grown man – surely he could look after himself. He may have had the heart and soul of a poet, but he’d grown up on a rough estate in Belfast.

The following afternoon the phone rang. No, it wasn’t Sheffield’s version of the Old Bill trying to touch me for bail money. It was the errant Yudge, telling me that never again would he go near red wine; from now on he’d stick to white. It seems he’d fallen asleep on the train and ended up in Leeds – and there were no more trains back down to Sheffield. Thus while I’d been frantically staring at my clock, he’d been wandering about Leeds city centre armed only with his guitar and a terrified expression, being eyed up by all sorts of shifty characters, until he finally ducked into a hotel that had a vacancy on offer at the extortionate rate of 160 quid. It ended up being the most expensive day out this “passenger” ever had. Clearly, this was no story that was destined to see print in a volume of my Erotic Travel Tales anthologies!

Now I’m not trying to upset anyone who might be from Leeds (heartfelt apologies to the Kaiser Chiefs!), but nearly everyone I know who’s been to Leeds has run into a spot of bad luck. One guy I know went there for a night out with his mates and ended up having the crap beaten out of him by some local lads just because he walked down the wrong street. Another guy I know had his wallet stolen from out of his jacket pocket while having dinner at a restaurant (along with his return train ticket home to the safety of rural Lincolnshire). Now I’ve been to Leeds, and I managed to get out unscathed. Mind you, I did leave before dark – and in the safety of a Peugeot that sped away on the M1 with pedal to the metal! So in my opinion, Yudge had a lucky escape.

Alas, he died three years ago this coming August Bank Holiday weekend.

On the day of his funeral, I had to fly to Greece to teach one of my erotic writing workshops on the island of Skiathos. He’d often spoken of moving back to Greece, where he’d spent the early days of his marriage. Since I couldn’t make the funeral (I don’t believe in funerals anyway), I thought it more significant to bury his photo in the sand at the beach. Afterward, I went to light a candle for him at a little church that I found open during siesta. It was empty, save for a handful of other candles that had been lit. Half an hour later I returned to look for the priest and hopefully communicate to him to say a prayer for Yudge (he was Irish Catholic, though I doubt he’d have minded being Greek Orthodox for a day). Unfortunately, there was no sign of the priest – or of anyone, for that matter. Nor was there any sign of the candle I’d lit. The other candles were still there, burning away – but mine had vanished. And yes, I’d put a euro into the box!

Was this my friend’s idea of a joke? Because there was no earthly explanation for that missing candle. It’s a shame Mitzi TV wasn’t around back then – we could’ve done a Greek Tales of the Unexpected!

It took a year before I stopped expecting my phone to ring at 1am in the morning. We thought nothing of calling each other at outrageous hours – we’d usually be up anyway. Perhaps we both suffered from the same malady: he always told me we were too delicate for this world.

He was right. And so was Iggy when he wrote that song.

My mate Yudge was, indeed, the passenger. And I’m willing to bet anything he still is!

Click here: http://www.youtube.com