Today, JL Merrow is here to talk about A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou, and make sure to read all the way down to the end *wink*
In this troubled year, I think we all need a touch of whimsy and of magic for Christmas, and my short story with a long title, A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou, has a little of both. Young punk Liam is a busker on London Underground, and he has a serious crush on the silver fox who tosses him some change every evening on his way home from work—although they’ve never spoken. But Liam’s unconventional family may just manage to work a little Christmas magic to bring him and Neil together!
There’s long been a connection between Christmas and the supernatural. Victorians loved to read ghost stories during the season, wrapped up warmly in front of a roaring fire. Charles Dickens, who is in many ways responsible for our ideal of a “proper” Christmas, had elements of the supernatural in his Christmas Books, the most famous of which is, of course, A Christmas Carol. My tale is rather more modern, but I hope it hits a similar balance in teasing the reader with a hint of magic, while still leaving deniability plausible!
Here’s a short excerpt from A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou:
I walked into the living room three days before Christmas to find the coven was in full swing.
In case you’re thinking that sounds a bit weird, I should maybe mention I was raised by witches. Three of them, which anyone who’s read their Macbeth (or their Pratchett, for that matter) will know is the only sensible, or even possible, number of witches. I grew up with my Mum, my Aunty Des and Aunty Mags, all of us living together in the little house in Camden that used to belong to my Granny, God rest her. I’m Liam, by the way. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m the one solitary male in the household, unless you count the cats. And to be honest, they’re not as male as they used to be, poor things.
There is, in fact, a fourth sister, my Aunty Gerry. Rejected by the coven on the cruel grounds of numerical superfluity, she became an Anglican priest to spite them. Well, that’s how she tells it, anyway, although I can’t say I’ve noticed a great deal of spite in their relationships.
“I pray for their souls every night,” Aunty Gerry told me piously one evening not so long ago, before collapsing into very un-Reverend-like cackles and passing the gin.
A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou
What’s the best gift a young, single man could receive for Christmas? Mohawked punk Liam wouldn’t have picked the hideous collection of homemade knitwear he’s presented with by his well-meaning mum and aunties. He’d much rather have the gorgeous older man he sees every day while busking at King’s Cross station. Liam’s been doing his best to seduce the guy with his saxophone playing—the trouble is, with the holidays coming up, he’s beginning to despair of his message getting through.
But with a little Christmas magic in the air, maybe those garish garments will be just the thing for attracting the attention of a silver fox…
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She writes award-winning contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.
And for those who’ve read this far: I’m offering a free e-copy of A Pint of Beer, A Bag of Chips, and Thou to a randomly chosen commenter on this post. All you have to do to be in with a chance is to answer this question: Ugly Christmas sweaters: yes or no?
I’ll make the draw around teatime on Sunday 6th December, so be quick!