from the archives of Essex Terror: Ted Vaaak, and the English language

[Notes: This interview took place in 2013. I cannot remember where.}

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Ted Vaaak, and the English language

Ted Vaaaak, celebrated horror writer extroadinaire, has taken his career in a wildly eccentric new direction with An Enumerated List Of The English Language, his new non-fiction book where he attempts to list every word in the English language. David N. Guy met up with him to discuss what he’s done.

Q. This book is quite a departure from your usual work. Why did you feel the need to move into the non-fiction and reference book sector?

A. Like everyone, I have often wondered how many words I knew. So I decided to count them. And then list them. After I had collected them all, I ordered them by hand.

Q. Collected them all? Do you mean you wrote them all down?

A. I cut them out of my books.

Q. So should this book really be called An Enumerated List Of The English Language That Is Used In The Works Of Ted Vaaak?

A. Dear god no. It is incredibly vulgar to use your own name in the title of one’s work.

Q. But still surely there are words you have never used in your books?

A. Name one!

Q. Yacht.

A. That’s not English. It’s dutch.

Q. Of course it’s English. Otherwise I wouldn’t know it.

A. If I remember correctly it appears as word #933653 in the book, anyway, so I don’t know what you’re complaining about. And it appears frequently in The Screams. (The protagonist is called Terry Yacht).

Q. Coxswain. That’s not in there.

A. I used the more archaic form, cockswain, both in this list (it is word #99873) and in my short story, The Cockswine.

Q. Cockswine isn’t a word!

A. No, it is a name. The protagonist is called Barry Cockswine.

Q. Mizzen?

A. Will you shut up about boats.

Q. I just refuse to believe that every English word ever has been used in one of your books.

A. Well, some of them were used in my magazine articles.

Q. But still, it’s preposterous. What about new words?

A. What about them?

Q. Like bromance? Surely you haven’t used bromance? Or staycation?

A. I have used both of those quite frequently.

Q. Bloody hell. How could you?

A. They come in very helpful when writing articles for Observer Travel Monthly (all of which are published under the pseudonym Tom Meltzer to preserve my anonymity, so please don’t print this reply).

Q. Okay. Let’s get back to the book. What is a word? Or, I should say, what differentiates a word from another word?

A. The fact that they are different.

Q. But different how? For instance, you have separate entries for right (#786734), rite (#78830), wright (#923432) and write (#923445). Yet they are all said the same. Should therefore you not also have included right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, right and right?

A. Don’t be absurd.

Q. What about rite and rite?

A. I don’t really consider those any differently from the first usage.

Q. What about write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write and write?

A. That’s what I do every night! Hahaha!

Q. What about right, right, and right?

A. Didn’t you already do those ones?

Q. They were different ones.

A. Anyway, in answer to your question, I don’t know.

Q. What is your favourite word?

A. I like them all.

Q. Even the really annoying ones?

A. Especially them.

Q. Even crelm?

A. It has served me well.

Q. Are names words?

A. Yes.

Q. No they aren’t.

A. If I said they weren’t you’d just have said they were, wouldn’t you?

Q. No. As if Ted is a word.

A. It means to simultaneously love and loathe. For example, “He lived with his ted wife, Margaret.”

Q. And Vaaak?

A. It is an echoic for the sound a hen makes when throttled.

Q. What use is this book?

A. Use?

Q. Yes, use. Why would someone buy a book containing a contextless list of words? Why wouldn’t they just buy a dictionary?

A. This functions as an index to the dictionary.

Q. The dictionary is already its own index.

A. That’s a terrifying thought.

Q. I don’t understand.

A. It might become self-aware.

Q. What might?

A. The dictionary. Self-reflectivity is the basis of consciousness. Imagine a world where the dictionaries are thinking.

Q. Okay.

A. They are frightened. All these people holding them, peering at them, inspecting their innards constantly for portents and augurs.

Q. Ted, you’re frightening me.

A. And myself

Q. Ted, thank you.

Due to a scheduling change, Ted Vaaaaak’s Screeeech by Ted Vaaak is available now from all good bookshops. There are currently no plans to release An Enumerated List Of The English Language.

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from the archive of Essex Terror: Ted Vaaaak’s The Bloody Loft

[Notes: This article was originally published in 2013.]

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Ted Vaaaak’s The Bloody Loft

This meander into interactive fiction is one of the true curiousities in Ted Vaaak’s career. The fallout from his acrimonious contractual warfare with Dragon Data was also to ensure that he would never set foot in Wales again.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to get beyond the first room before the blood drowns me, so I am unable to tell if it is a notable addition to Ted’s canon.

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from the archives of Essex Terror: Ted Vaaak’s “The Whore Who…”s

[Notes: This article is from October 2013. I apologise for the language contained within]

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Ted Vaaak’s “The Whore Who…”s

During the mid to late ’70s, Ted Vaaaak, seemingly at the time lost in the midst of a decade long breakdown, blundered his way into the nascent Violent Women subgenre with his surprisingly successful novel The Whore Who Shot Her Way Out (published in December 1974 by Virago). The story followed a weary prostitute, Eddington ‘Edds’ McHair, through a typical day on the job, as she meets clients, chats to friends, and describes repeatedly her clothes. The climax of the book, a frightful attempt to escape an overcrowded chip shop on Southend seafront, is said to have left many readers in tears.

Later that year, when it was revealed that Ted Vaaaaak was not technically a woman, the series transferred to Fontana Publishing, and The Whore Who Exploded burst onto the bestsellers charts with unabashed fury. Over the next 26 months, his breakdown now suppressed, Ted capitalised on his new found success with 44 different Whores books, which was astonishing even by Ted’s battering ram standards.

The series was received not without some controversy. A debate around violence and pornography is never far away from seeping out of the British media’s lips at the best of times, and the 1970s were, in many ways, dreadful. In the Anglia News vaults there is (never broadcast) footage of a disastrous doorstepped interview at Vaak’s house, where Ted, 100% nude, is asked whether he finds the filth he writes erotic. Ted’s subsequent claim that “all fiction is erotic” is probably, all things considered, the most terrifying thing he ever uttered.

In late ’77 a Radio 4 dramatisation was made of The Whore Who Killed Absolutely Everybody, the final novel in the series, where Edds comes out of retirement for one last night of sex, violence and extensive descriptions of clothing. Renamed The Woman Who Killed Absolutely Everybody, it aired to general disgust and mild disquiet, and soon afterwards Ted’s and the public’s interest in the series and indeed the genre as a whole gradually waned away.

Editor’s Note: This article’s title was changed from Ted Vaaak’s “The Whores Who” to Ted Vaak’s “The Whore Whose” to finally the current title within thirteen seconds of publication.

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from the archives of Essex Terror: The Augmented Old Man

[Notes: This interview was conducted during the summer of 2013]

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The Call From The House Of Ted

I was on my way home from work at the Maldon salt mines when I received a phone call telling me that Ted Vaak had requested my presence and wished to be interviewed. I gasped in shock, and yet as strange as this news was (and it is is strange, as usually he only ever consents to our requests when his lawyer can no longer afford to try and argue Ted’s way out of it), it is not the strangest occurrence of the evening. For this turned out to be one of the most baffling encounters of my entire life.

The House Of Ted

Although technically Ted’s whereabouts are unknown, I have been here several times before. It is a short walk from my house, largely through a tangled bramble wood which leads eventually to a clearing, at the centre of which stands the house.

Ted often claims that the house has always stood here, and that he has always lived here, and that, cut off from the outerlands by the bramble bushes, time has no dominion over him. This latter claim is, as I have proven countless times by the simple expedient of observing that the movement of atoms and light still occurs within his house, not true, but as for the others I do not know.

The Garden Of The House Of Ted

Ted’s garden, which extends all the way to the bramble bushes in every direction, is usually choked with dead yellow grass. Today, the grass has been covered extensively in rubbish, all of it mechanical or technological in nature. Old typewriters, rotary phones, several speak and spells, a battery powered pencil sharpener, legless pinball machines, record players, television screens removed from their cases, video tapes unspooling in the wind.

Ted, it appears, has been to the tip. And discovered at last technology.

Inside The House Of Ted

The house was dark, darker than perhaps it should be. Bare wires trailed from the walls towards the living room. Above everything the faint hum of electricity and the whirring of gears. I moved towards the living room, towards the origin of the sounds.

Ted

And in there, at the centre, all the wires leading to him, stood Ted. He saw me, and began to talk.

“It began with a simple idea – if a cassette box can be the same size as the cassette it contains, why not a cassette player the same size too. All you would need is a magnet, a couple of cogs, an input for wires. I worked hard, many years, and eventually I had a working prototype. I called it The Ted Vaak Portable Tape Explicator, later streamlined to The Portex.

“This was three months ago. It has yet to reach the market. What I am telling you here is confidential. But I must tell someone. Must show you. It is transformative. The first time I listened to something through the headphones, but outside, untethered from the large scale high fidelity stereo units stacked ominously in the living room, it changed my perception of everything. I lay there in the garden, looking up at the sky, accompanied by the stirring speeches of Margaret Thatcher. Things seemed to coalesce in my mind. The universe was ours, if only we could grasp it.

“Two days later she was dead.

“From there things accelerated. First came the Doublex, a multiphasic Portex, allowing for two inputs, two outputs, merging them together, creating something new. Tape 1: Prime Minister’s Questions, 27/11/1990. Tape 2: The living gurgles of the draining mud, low tide, the blackwater estuary, date unknown. The output cables intertwined into one, fed into a single pair of headphones, from their to my ears.

“Then the Inverted Doublex, stereo field recordings in the palms of my hands, and then, so I could keep my hands free for more important tasks, embedded within the emptiness of my chest.”

He stepped here into the light. Plastic embedded in the gaps beneath his ribs, wires trailing out like veins to every extremity of his haggard body.

“The possibilities fractalised in my mind. Instant infallible memory is finally available. Never again must I forget. Now I can just replay.

“Look, and listen: “It began with a simple idea – if a cassette box can be the same size as the cassette it contains, why not a cassette player the same size too. All you would need is a magnet, a couple of cogs, an input for wires. I worked hard, many years, and eventually I had a working prototype. I called it The Ted Vaak Portable Tape Explicator, later streamlined to The Portex.”

“The double nature here is important. The second recorder can continue its work while the first replays. Nothing is lost. Once the replayu is stopped, the present can be returned to, recording restarted. Occasional moments may be lost at the changing of the tapes, but nothing important.

“More portablised technology follows. Clocks, miniaturised and embedded in my wrists. A spirit level in each thumb. My skull shaved clean, an electric blanket repurposed as a heated wig.

“Most useful was the leg mounted typewriter. The keyboard separated, half on each thigh. Legs pushed together, sat in my most comfortable chair, the paper held by clips on each knee.

“But why only portability? Why not the reverse? Why not allow the control of the environment around you – around me – while I am at home, as I usually am. Why not allow myself control of light itself!”

At this the lights in the house faded up from nothingness to antiseptic factory style brightness. Ted’s hand erotically rotating a dial at his throat.

“The house plugged into my body. Wires from every system – the lights, the heating, the doorbell, the phone, everything electrical you can imagine. No longer must I get up to switch the kettle on. Now I can do it from the comfort of the centre of my own house, equidistant from every extremity of the house to minimise on wiring and subsequent loss of signal.

“The rotary dial of the phone on the palm of one hand, the speaker in the other. A thermostatic filament threaded through my forehead. Teeth became light switches. Fingernails fuses.

“Even my tongue painted metallic, allowing for insertion of a lightbulb when a torch might be necessary. There is not a single thing I cannot do. No system cannot be upgraded, that will not be upgraded.

“I am the future of humanity and there is nothing you can do to stop me.”

The lights switch off one by one with several flicks of his tongues. From nowhere a lightbulb appears and is pushed whole into his mouth. I back away then, the light shining directly into my eyes for a few seconds before finally Ted closes his mouth. I stare briefly at the red glow of his cheeks, before turning to flee screaming into the brambles that thankfully separate our world from his.

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from the archives of Essex Terror: Instructional Guidelines For Appropriate School Trip Behaviour

[Notes: This article, from march 8th, 2014, is reproduced entirely as written, spelling mistakes included. I make no apology for this.]

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In 1946, while Ted Vaaak was attending the Bristlewood School (since disbanded) in what is now Salcott-cum-Virley, the school was selected to take part in the first ever Essex school trip to London, where they were invited to see a performance of Pericles, Prince Of Tyre at the Lewisham Hippodrome. A set of instructions were provided by the County Elders to ensure good behaviour, as it was thought that any trouble caused might negatively impact the reintegration of the county into the United Kingdom after the war. As can be seen in the image accompanying this article, an intact copy of these instructions were discovered in the personal effects of Ted Vaaaak during the recent recovery of the assets of his estate by the parish council of Mundon.

Instructional Guidelines For Appropriate School Trip Behaviour

If you do not understand or are not enjoying the play, please remain quietly seated until it ends rather than shouting out your disgust and fury towards the stage.

The eating of food, especially eels, during the performance is forbidden. Please ensure you eat your eels in the foyer before the play begins or during the intermission.

If you are sitting next to someone who you do not know, please do not touch or push them.

London is a large city, and to find your way it is often necessary to use maps. If you do not know how to read maps, it is best to attempt to find someone who does, rather than trying to find your way by the usual methods of divination such as church bells, the crying of children, or the crying of livestock. It is likely that these will prove ineffective here.

It is considered good manners to pay for goods before opening them in the shops of these lands.

There are no woods here, but toilet facilities shoudl be availabe at the venue.

Part of the transport network of London is under the ground. For the duration of this trip, we shall not consider this blasphemous or profane. You will not need to pray, it is okay.

Please no violence not this time.

The sun shall set at 7 minutes past the seventh hour. The retunr journey should begin before this time.

Thank you and good luck.”

It is not known if a similar set of instructions were issued to the children on this trip.

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