Piss and Patchouli

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Piss and Patchouli was originally written for Round Three of the 2008 Whittaker Prize. The prompt used was the phrase orange wellies. It was given a score of 71/100 by the judge, Rachel Green, putting it in 5th equal place out of 19. The judge liked this but felt it meandered, and she would have liked the MC and the fireman to piece together Astrid's life.


After a minor edit, Piss and Patchouli was longlisted for the September 2008 Cadenza competition.


After a further minor edit, Piss and Patchouli was published in Issue 95 of Litro in May 2010.


John Martyn gets a namecheck in this story, but it's actually Richard Thompson's song Beeswing' that was the primary influence for the character of Astrid. I liked the idea of the main character having made his choice between a conventional career and life on the edge, yet still vicariously hankering after the latter even though his former lover's life had demonstrated to him the risks. I guess it's about wanting to have it both ways.

I didn't take Rachel Green's advice, partly through sheer laziness and partly because it would have made it a different story. I think the main character has to work it all out for himself, or at least convince himself that he has.