Pink Flag

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Quick Overview

Inspired by Wire’s debut album Pink Flag, Ben Wardle has written 21 stories. Pressed together so they overlap and interlock, the tales finally all collide on London’s pink tube line in a startling full stop.
187 pages, 10.5cm x 14.8cm

Pink Flag

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Ben Wardle has worked in the music business for a substantial chunk of his life. When he wasn’t doing that he worked as an online journalist, a radio presenter, and a teacher. He has written two other books: The Virgin Guide to Internet Music (Virgin Books) and The Art of The LP (Sterling). He also contributed to a well-known dictionary of quotations where, during one slowish day, he made up a quotation from Ernest Hemingway. The quotation made it into the dictionary and he realised that fiction was the way forward. This is his first novel.

Ben Wardle lives in London with his wife Robyn and two children Madeleine (8) and Esther (4). He occasionally finds time to write his blog A&Rmchair


Pink Flag started when I was looking for short story titles. I’ve always liked the stories of English authors like Ian McEwan, Roald Dahl and Graham Green and I notice that very often it is the titles that stay with me even after my terrible memory has erased the plotline: Conversation with a cupboard man, Galloping Foxley, The destructors… I was attracted to Pink Flag because, great music aside,  I liked the fact that the song titles are intriguing and oblique: even after listening to the tunes you are none the wiser as to what most of them are about. If I’d tried writing a story based on a title by, I don’t know… Buzzcocks or Marvin Gaye, it wouldn’t have had any resonance because the lyrics generally explain the title. With Wire it is different.

The first one I wrote was Feeling Called Love, which most readers have recognized as a love letter to another very well known punk album. After that I moved on to Three Girl Rhumba and it was in writing this that it first occurred to me that I could write a whole book using all 21 titles. After writing the next 6 or 7, I began to see links between characters taking place so after that I consciously started linking stories and a novel borne out of 21 self contained stories became my goal. I liked the fact that it seemed like an impossible task. Usually I hate self-imposed challenges, but for some reason this one appealed to me; perhaps because it gave me a beginning and end without me having to bother planning them.

Ending stories is always tough. So the biggest favour Wire did me is their final track on Pink Flag. After all, what could be more conclusive than I2XU?”

Ben Wardle London 2012