By Martin Williams
Key Themes: mental health, fiction, drama, retirement
The Hangman’s Gate is another piece of fiction following on from the publication of the Pearl Diver’s Saliva. It is set in 1950’s in the fictional town of Ledback and follows the history of Alan Butcher as he is de-mobbed after his National Service. It soon becomes obvious that Alan has serious psychiatric issues and finds that his chosen route in life is easily thwarted.
About the Author
Martin Williams was born on the 4th December 1960 in Southampton. Particularly in his early years his family moved around a lot but finally he settled in Bristol where he took his exams at Bristol Grammar School.
At the age of twenty one Martin was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and the next twenty years were spend in and out of hospital but at the turn of the century he had a major breakthrough when using a new medication completely transformed his life.
Following that he attended Studio Upstairs in Bristol, a therapeutic Arts Community and began writing seriously.
This is his second novel with Chipmunka, the first being “The Pearl Diver’s Saliva”.
Alan Butcher was a sales rep. He had been a sales rep for no more than a few months. As an occupation it might not have exactly been his first choice but all things being equal it brought home his pay. Further more he did not mind the driving, of which there was a fair bit, nor did he dislike the selling side, perhaps the best part was that he qualified for a van, a van that he could use at his leisure when he was not on business.
He had done his National Service not that long after the War had ended, indeed nineteen forty nine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as those who knew Alan well may have thought, he had stayed on after his compulsory two years. As Alan may have seen it there was no reason why he should not go chasing round the country in a Land Rover. That and the option of three square meals a day certainly had its attractions. With a promotion to corporal and a chance to dish out some of the discipline as well as a few extra quid in his pocket he had looked well set. But that was it. He had woken up one morning asked to see the C.O. and with in a month he was back in Civvy street.
Had he thought it through he would have done well to save a few pounds towards that day, as it was he was going to have to manage on no more than a months pay. There was nothing very different about the day Alan left the Army or indeed that fateful day he had asked to see the C.O. had there been then perhaps it might have made sense. He had turned his Army career around on a sixpence there was no going back there were no regrets to have. He was back in Civvy street and somehow he was just going to have to cut it.
With the few pounds Alan had in his pocket he had a selection of priorities of which the first was to find some lodgings. He had long since decided that he would at least offer to pay for a couple of weeks in advance, that way he could not spend the money else where and he would not be living on tick. That was not unlike Alan scrupulously honest. A second priority may very well have been some clothing, a decent suit and something to wear at the weekends would be fairly high on his list.
Alan had it in mind that as likely as not he would find somewhere to lodge and some work in one of the towns many hostelries. That having been said something took him to Milsom Street or more accurately a couple of blocks away.
The town of Ledback was no more than a couple of miles from the barracks. Catching an early bus that the ancillary workers took out to the camp but in the opposite direction Alan arrived in the centre of Ledback as the early morning traders were setting up their stalls. In the two years Alan had spent at the neighbouring camp (he had spent two more of his Army years elsewhere) he must have visited the town at least every other week but beyond the pubs, the Palais and the dance hall he knew very little of the myriad of streets that made up the bulk of it. Milsom Street was just such a road; a long straight road flanked either side by terraced houses. On the corner of Milsom Street and Tredgar Road there was a pub called the Red Lion. At the other end of Tredgar Road was a short line of shops including a transport café it was here that Alan decided to brave his first breakfast as a non combatant.
He had not realised how far he had come as he wandered through the streets of Ledback and while it was still early both the café and the tobacconist next door were open for business. Although neither establishment was necessarily that busy they at least looked like they could be busy later. As Alan swung open the door to the café a little bell rang somewhere up and behind his head. There were at a glance seven or eight tables all of which boasted matching yellow and blue patterned plastic tablecloths.
The counter sported what would now be deemed a very old fashioned coffee maker. It had two tall cylinders that seemed to make up some sort of percolator and a hose for heating up milk, that and a large tea pot that was endlessly topped up. Behind the counter stood a tall, slim, attractive looking woman whom Alan thought unlikely to be the proprietor. Alan sat down at one of the tables, a table that was on one side bordered by a wall. Sure enough in a minute or two the young woman came over with a pad to take his order.
“You alright there, chuck?” enquired the girl.
“Yes, fine.” Replied Alan a little surprised at the immediacy of her familiarity.
“What would you like then? We have full English breakfast, coffee, tea, toast and almost anything else you can think of.”
“Just your usual breakfast will be fine, thank you. Oh, and some coffee.”
“Now is that with black pudding and tomatoes?”
“Yes, that will be fine.”
“I’ll have that ready for you in a few minutes.”
With that the young woman, with a toss of her hair, pirouetted on the spot and returned to her place behind the counter. She skewered Alan’s order on a spike near to a door that lead to the kitchen. He would leave his table twice before his order came, the first time to wash his hands in the toilets the second to pick up a newspaper that had been left on another table.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 20 October, 2011.