21st November 2017
The story of a rock music venue – a cruel and shallow grave of artistic aspirations, a damp, dark hole in the ground in which pimps, bandits and swindlers run free, and where musicians with genuine talent are exploited without mercy, where those who might have become famous are lured into obscurity and where the scum of the town go to drink themselves into oblivion.
The Trench is a work of fiction. It is about an imaginary live music venue set in the mid 1980s. The venue is set in the city of Portsmouth – the place where I was born and lived for my first sixteen years. Although I chose to place the story in the period 1983 to 1985, I was not personally involved in rock music in those days; neither did I live in Portsmouth. In order to write the story, I had to undertake quite a lot of research – into the music of that period and into the town as it was then. Having left Portsmouth in 1967, I could have no idea of what life there was like in the 80s. But my fiction has roots that run deep in the soil of personal experience. Having been to thousands of gigs over the years, I have collected together a vast array of memories through which I have trawled for inspiration.
Even here in Leicester, I was not involved in live music until about 2001. Although The Trench is a work of imagination, I wanted it to be credible. There are still many people around today who were on the music scene in Pompey (as we locals call it) and for their sakes I wanted to give the story some credibility. I also have a horror of anachronisms, in both novels and films.
My description of The Trench draws together many years of going to clubs, bars and venues in various parts of Europe. I have mixed these together to form a cocktail of images. In this respect, The Trench is a confluence of personal experiences, just as are the people that I imagined in its dingy rooms. The Portsmouth depicted in this book is not an historically accurate place. The story of this book is a reflection of reality and not an attempt to portray it as it actually was. My novel tells a story and like a lot of stories it might be grounded in the real world but ultimately it only reflects it.
The lines of the Prologue to this work, are modified from a quotation attributed to the journalist Hunter S. Thompson (although various luminaries deny that he actually ever wrote it). I took the quotation and modified it to fit what my concept for this novel was.