Silence is Golden

It passed pretty much unnoticed amongst the other projects going on around here, but I wrote a short story the other week, and it’s up on LabLit: Silence is Golden.

A pub in Daresbury

Gratifyingly, Tania Hershman asked me on Twitter whether there were any more in the tank. I explained I was trying to write a novel–and maybe writing it as a series of short stories was the way to finally complete it. My two main characters have been stuck in a pub in Daresbury for over a year now, and I need some way of getting them out and back to advancing the plot. Maybe a short story for each chapter would do it.

Anyway, back to Silence is Golden. Before you ask, no it’s not based on a true event, although it is inspired by one. And indeed, it would fit well into the plot of the second novel I’ve got planned for that series, not to be confused with the other series of books that I’ve also got planned, and in fact wrote about eight chapters of several years ago, before I realized that I should start again (my writing, despite the construction of sentences such as these, has improved immensely in that time).

So, yes. Please remember to check out LabLit, because we have so much more than my writing on there. In the next couple of days there’ll even be the next in our highly irregular series of podcasts. Now, to winkle my characters away from their pints…

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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24 Responses to Silence is Golden

  1. Stephen says:

    They eat. They get food-poisoning. They are rushed to hospital. They’re out of the pub. Problem solved!

  2. rpg says:

    “any similarity to real pubs is purely coincidental”, right?

  3. Now, to winkle my characters away from their pints…

    I do confess that I initially read that as Now, to winkle my characters away from their pants…

  4. rpg says:

    It’s not that sort of book, Jenny!

  5. cromercrox says:


  6. rpg says:

    OTOH, C’crox, a suitable advance would secure such a novel.

  7. Or maybe could could get them ejected from the pub after a fist-fight induced by a disagreement over the size of their error bars.

  8. cromercrox says:

    – splort –

  9. Austin says:

    I remember being in a pub at a conference years back with two of my younger (male) colleagues, who were somewhat well watered and were having a (very) protracted argument over whose sports car could do 0-60 mph in less time.

    It was fairly obvious the argument wasn’t really about cars.

    In the end, the rest of us sitting at the table got so bored that I fished a 6 in ruler out of my rucksack and suggested we settle the argument with a measurement rather than with the thinly veiled symbolism.

    The two protagonists were a bit offended.

    BTW, one of these two people is now a Consultant Surgeon, while the other is a full Professor in the biosciences…

  10. ricardipus says:

    I read the sign on that pub in the photo as “The King O’ Hell”, which is I think a very fine name for a pub.

    Had you considered the alternative of leaving them in the pub for the entire duration of the novel? Think Waiting for Godot, or Twelve Angry Men.

    [The above is possibly not the Best Idea Ever.]

    CAPTCHa for this comment: “imicti exponents,”

  11. ricardipus says:

    P.S. Nice – the short story that is.

  12. Austin says:

    Heh. Had the story been “true” rather than “inspired by…”, we would surely have had to elect you the only person ever to pull at a departmental seminar, Richard.

  13. rpg says:

    Thanks, Ricardipus.
    Austin, the truth is far stranger. As always.

  14. KristiV says:

    @ Austin – Thank Eru you aren’t in Texas (notwithstanding your given name), where the argument would more likely be over whose truck had the bigger payload or towing capacity.


  15. “My two main characters have been stuck in a pub in Daresbury for over a year now, and I need some way of getting them out”

    A zombie attack was used to great effect in Shaun of the Dead.

  16. ricardipus says:

    Having done 5 seconds’ worth of Googling, I am now expecting a great number of Lewis Carroll references in this magnum opus. And discussion of a synchrotron, probably.

  17. Austin says:

    Sure you’re not a bit off-beam about the synchrotron, Ricardipus?

  18. Frank says:

    stuck in a pub in Daresbury for over a year

    That’s some session. I guess by now (assuming they’ve been drinking the whole time) the dialogue is mostly grunts?

    Maybe a tram could crash into the pub?

  19. Austin says:

    @Kristi – rather than over hat size?


    That’s some session. I guess by now (assuming they’ve been drinking the whole time) the dialogue is mostly grunts?

    Daresbury is in Cheshire, Frank, not Yorkshire. * ducks *

    @Ricardius – I always thought the scientific equivalent of Waiting for Godot was the interminable wait for the grant rejection letter… Perhaps that’s why rpg’s protagonists are in the pub? Unless they’re Waiting for Beamtime (who he?)

  20. rpg says:

    Well, they’re waiting for a data set to complete. So I guess one of them could look at his watch.

  21. ricardipus says:

    If they were using, say, the CERN LHC, they could be waiting their time in the queue for the experiment to start. That would give you an opportunity to have a mad rush for the door when the data finally become available.

    Novel-writing by committee. Not, I imagine, what you really want.

  22. chall says:

    Lovely short story RPG. I’m working on the silence is golden idea…. although, sometimes my head makes up all these things based on silence, that it would be easier (and maybe safer) if it wasn’t all silence?! 😉

    As for the pub, maybe running out of food or, god forbid, beer? Or someone crashing in with something _very important_ and they need to follow outside … a la standard “quick move and change of scenery”.(although, it’s not that savvy i guess….)

  23. rpg says:

    @R’pus–it’s not so much how to get them out, there’s a clear plot arc here. It’s how to tie up the conversation they’re having.

    Thanks @Chall, glad you liked it 🙂

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