Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Perfect potato

Imagine Margery in an imaginary menagerie
Consider Cicily in a cataclysmic capillarity
Enable Eleanor in an egalitarian envelope
Admiring Alison on an allegorical animal
Seeing the best 
Fearing the worst
Love and punctuation
Fit to burst.

"The richer I am at writing the poorer I seem at self expression and the more I feel for that abstract and empty space that temporarily sits there between my ears and behind my eyes. It frustrates and fascinates and I cannot grasp it. I have known it all my life but it appears strange, foreign and unlikeable. It is hostile towards me many times, contrary and determined to thwart what I think are my own finely tuned purposes. Occasionally, then, now and without warning out of it pops, like a unexpected magician's rabbit or card trick ending, a clever, bizarrely structured or polished thing. Straight and correct, like a diamond or a perfect potato. There it is, raw, dripping dry  and born from my mind. Puzzling and inexplicable, like an unplanned puppy birth or some unrelated consequence of a backward thought. These moments make me happy and, if I am truthful, a little confused because up until that time I surely had forgotten that I don't really know myself or how the fluid mind plays these tricks. Again and again it would appear to churn out it's contents  and memory still plays these damnable repeated tricks."

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Modern Fable

"The faulty ring pull on the can of cat food meant I had to open the tin with a regular tin opener. A process that the can clearly was not designed for. It was near the end of the laborious opening revolution that the can began to distort. There then followed a slow explosion that left me and my shirt front covered in tasty and meaty morsels, served in a highly pungent gravy that, as far as my blocked up nose could tell owed a lot of it’s existence to fish based products of an unknown type. Perhaps today was not to be my lucky day after all."

Upstairs in the bedroom and for the second of two consecutive days, one after another that is, a young and lost pigeon had been tapping at the window. When I say tapping I mean flying into the  window glass as if it was not there and flapping it's wings. Then doing it again and then retiring, tired out to somewhere up on the builder's scaffolding for a rest. Then it would return. From time to time one or other of the cats would sit on the windowsill and try to out stare the pigeon. It was a game that meant a lot to the cats, they practised intensely and seriously. The pigeon didn't quite get it and broke the staring match pretty regularly. The cats remained a full hunting tension all through these encounters. I liked to break them up by pulling on the cat's tails, gently but firmly. The spell of the pigeon and the dreams of a successful hunt were then broken in the cats, for the time being. I suspected that the pigeon had mistaken our house for the railway bridge along at Torryburn. Our overall orientations were the same as was our distance from the river, or so I thought. It was an explanation I could believe in.

It was about then or maybe during a fast drive up the M90 that I lapsed into daydream mode. A voice that might have been a pigeon voice told me a story about how in their early days the SNP and Labour Parties joined together to attract Korean money into Scotland. Big money. They decided that to attract industry and Korean satellite activity they'd build the biggest building in the civilised world behind some trees in Dunfermline. They did this quite successfully but at the expense of a few schools and hospitals and some cream teas and mini-buses for the aged. The huge building was duly opened by the Queen or Barack Obama's representative with pomp, circumstance and a detachment of bagpipers. The ceremony could be seen from space and ariel shots were sold to local businesses as a means to recoup some of the cash. Sadly the great factory plan failed when the Koreans realised that their current suite of products had been over taken by technology gleamed from some alien information and blueprints shown on the Discovery Channel one Sunday night. In the snap of a finger the industry had moved on and the triumph that was the Scottish building turned into an empty disaster and a great white elephant. The Scottish Government were puzzled by this chain of events but issued a statement to say that they were confident that a boom in white elephants was just around the corner. We were riding a crazy wave on the edge of emergent technology whilst all around us Korean restaurants and take-aways shut up shop and moved south to London or Manchester. The promised boom never arrived, head hung low and school leavers found other ways to pass the time. Ironically this involved them buying thousands of smart phones based on the new alien technology that had so scuppered the big Korean plan.

Five years later the day came when the now worthless plant had to be demolished. To avoid embarrassment a new blackout was declared and many more trees were planted. An innocuous and anonymous housing estate was also built around the edges as well as a Dobbies and golf range. The ordinary people hardly noticed the demolition works and slowly and piece by gravelly piece the concrete chunks that were designed to last a thousand years were crushed up a shipped to Spain to be made into Ford Fiestas. Nobody ever mentioned Korea ever again unless in the context of some silly joke about fast food or K-Pop. A number of locals did take the plunge and buy Korean cars. This was seen as a comforting indicator that the healing process was truly underway.

The strange thing was once they'd cleared the site and moved the rubble they discovered a deep subterranean lake that had been covered up by the huge building. The lake was so deep it was described as bottomless. In the lake there were blue fish. A kind of fish nobody had ever seen before and they were there in their thousands and they tasted good. Here was the opportunity we'd been waiting on. Out of the jaws of defeat and disaster a new and tasty blue fish industry emerged. It was quite a success and the numbers of accidental drownings, barbed wire impalements and food poisoning scares were never as high as were quoted in the official statistics prepared by the Sunday Mail. The locals just laughed it off and tucked into their sweet blue fish and got on with their enhanced leisure pursuits. It was just like the good old days. Looking back I'm sure that the aliens, having revolutionised the phone industry with their bright and uncalled for ideas and put us out of that business decided to compensate the lowly Scots by sending in the blue fish. A parting gift if you will. 

When I came around I was just level with Glenfarg.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Five fingers open

Breakfast with Jennifer Lawrence was a strange, icy affair. She was looking at me now and again but in truth not much. I was not the centre of her attention nor was breakfast. Breakfast was mainly black coffee, various rather nice chilled fruit juices in elaborate glasses and different kinds of fruit salad. Her frown and her dry lips said everything. She was watching the door. She was expecting somebody. I felt sure of the that. A deal, an offer, a way out. It would be something like that. Way beyond me and my current level of gifting. The waitress came by and topped up the coffee. I could tell she kind of wanted to engage with Jennifer (and normally that would have happened quite easily and naturally, her reputation and most evidence told the world that she was an open, pleasant person who wouldn't snarl at or avoid normal contact with persons in the street or breakfast waitresses), but today Jennifer was not playing that or any other PR worthy game. Today was not to be about scoring those kind of points. A couple of times I tried to spark a conversation. I smiled and compliment her look, the fruits, the décor or just the weather (or what little I could discern about the outside world via grey swathes of blinds and plate glass masked by clumsy air conditioning). 

Eventually, sometime into her third cup of coffee she spoke, it was a bit of a mumble really, as if she was in character or practising a line. She called me a fucking useless idiot. It was whispered, low, more like a secretly spoken thought that had slipped out. It struck me that though she wanted me to hear it she wanted me to know that despite the meaning and weight of her statement she was unwilling nor even interested enough to apply any more effort or energy to it that to deliver it via a feeble whisper. That was kind of insulting but, I thought, possibly a passing thing, the articulation of the mood of the moment, a jagged edge from a broken hangover, a release of steam to ease some other unrelated feeling. That would be it.

The waitress was hovering, she was anxious, I could tell. Jennifer seemed to be smoking an invisible cigarette. I shooed the waitress away by asking for some brown toast, nicely burned at the edges. Jennifer took the opportunity to look at me this timer, hard and cold. She mouthed three words that had a familiar silent ring. Useless fucking idiot. I smiled and nodded and nodded a good morning to other guests about to sit at an adjoining table. They'd spotted Jennifer and were talking a little behind folded napkins. I said that room service might just have been a better idea, even in this place few A Listers came down and ate in the restaurant. She nodded and said she'd wanted to get out of the room anyway and shut the fuck up. I fiddled with the cutlery and drank a mouthful of the coffee. It was really good, this was a great hotel. I was living the dream albeit this part of it wasn't quite working out. At least she was still sitting there, at least we looked like we were in some sort of working or professional arrangement that wasn't truly dysfunctional or broken. Here we were keeping together some small, fragile but precious illusion. I sipped more coffee, so did she. We're mirroring I thought to myself in a sudden flush of positivity.

At that moment she stood up, pushed back her chair and glared down at me. For the first time I noticed that she was taller than I had thought. Imposing and powerful almost. Some extra stature had come upon her, maybe over night, maybe on account of me. Well that was unlikely. The waitress rushed across to remove the chair from Jennifer's path. She understood she had to clear the way. To make sure her exit was unhindered. But Jennifer just stood. She was staring at me, I stopped looking around, Id been taking in the commotion of the security men moving towards her and the angled eyes of other diners. She looked at me, hard this time, inside a tiny churn rolled across my inwards. Coffee and cereal were disagreeing over something in my stomach. She was still looking but began to open her mouth. Then she spoke, “Useless fucking idiot!” She broke into a broad smile and twittered with giggle, “Love you!” She waved five fingers open, turned and was gone. Little did I realise then that I'd never see her, or meet her in the flesh, again in my life.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Sympathy for Crimea

I probably shouldn't say so but I loved the outcome of the Crimea vote. Putin can go fuck himself for all I care for him and I know nothing about the Ukraine, I know less about the Muslim minority or any other group that may (for good reason I imagine)  fear the might and the stony face of Russia with their tanks and armour  stacked up against them. I just loved that the vote was so one-sided, positive, emphatic, clear, unambiguous and quick to take place. How much time do you need to put your own heart in order? To act on your feelings? Or to follow the mob and adopt the mass conscious when wordlessly it speaks your own name or sings you a national anthem you'd buried deep in your psyche? None of that might be correct or work on every level but it makes me anxious and angry for Scotland. We don't seem to have that hearty passion, the stony stonewall, that fire and determination to get ourselves a better answer and align ourselves towards a higher destiny. That's not us, the bairns of Jock Tamson and the slaves of the Empire. We are not all there. We are not all here. But it might come. The dullards and quislings and fly by night, turn-coat politicians may just ask too much of us all. We snap like winter twigs under their feet as they ignore us. Balls, Miliband, Alexander, Osborne, Cameron, Clegg and Maude and all the others (they too have their own stiff reflections sitting smug and stupid in Holyrood) may just fire a few more sanctimonious or patronising salvos across the border and the resistance might find it's way through. A powerhouse of ignorant wisdom and pent up misunderstanding. The flower of Scotland blooming late, irregular and twisted with an uncultivated pride but with enough gumption to take on a challenge (and most likely fail). Failure of course is only defined only by the actions of the winner and the context of the contest. Even in abject failure there is honour, who wouldn't celebrate landing a good punch on a bully the second before he knocks you flat?


Children make you complicated. They make your life complicated but you become complicated first. Your breeding of yourself, like an explosion of some kind of horcrux, pieces of soul and personality exploded out from you and forming these other versions of yourself, diluted, profaned, enriched and beautified by their other part(s) and by chance and the warping of experience. A sad and brilliant dance then carrys on as these carbon copies grow and explore and weave lives that are extraordinary in that they reflect all of you and nothing about you at the same time. The parent stands apart bamboozled by the creation and the events, able to interfere but unable to change anymore than you can change your own reflection in a mirror. You stand, observing their growth and behaviour behind that mirrored glass. I was never ready for this but I was born ready. I was never expecting this but I saw it all coming. I didn't know I wanted any of this but I cant live without it. The gravity of family and development sucks and pulls in a relentless manner that gives little time to think. If you stop to think you are caught and you drown in the black but vivid spiral that is the remains of your own life. You who were once an individual, or so you thought, now immersed in a team sport of commitment, support and anguish.

Then comes the curious dissolution of your life as that precious family grow up and leave like swallows in the autumn. The unused macaroni and empty beds, the silence, the lack of grocery shopping and raised voices, the stopping of the music, the slow creep of worry and the awful and hurtful awareness of the passage of time. That time that once seemed vital and unending now looking like the dry mouth of a blank, dark and anonymous alley into which you've accidentally run. How did I ever get to be here? Why is there no turning back and am I alone?

There is some comfort in other activities, random things you come across and fall into, self actualisation and daydreaming, books and travel plans. There is news, never ending and tedious. Things happening across the world that command you to take interest in them, there they are, laid out before you. You consider them like some powerless king, you may falter towards some judgement or hasty opinion. Then you change the channel or click the mouse pad and normality resumes. Their in the empty place with it’s photographs and trails of exhausted text messages. As if your brain isn't full enough, now, after a lifetime you struggle with the memory of experience and the total recall of trivia. It's pleasant but unnerving, shocking and comforting and try as you might you can never quite explain it. Never quite.

Monday, 17 March 2014

God bless the Illuminati

In the Crimea they've voted by an enormous margin to return to being a part of the Russian machine, a silver cog on the grimy Black Sea. Putin has spoken and apparently the people have spoken and the world has looked on slack jawed. They want to return to the enormous heaving bosom of Mother Russia with all the complexity and contradiction and pain that goes with it. Citizens beat their own breasts, they fly the Russian flag, they sing and light torches, Ukraine no more, we are and always have been Russian; and when communism collapsed (which never quite happened) under the weight of it's own ideological corruption the people of Crimea were swept along as part of a rough cut political piece of expedient reorganisation. Now they want to set things right. Ah! The sound of democratic self determination, that musical piece beloved of the SNP, the Yes people and the chattering classes so unburdened without the weight of academic ideals and anxiety over processes and timescales. There are no proper rules when it comes to who rules. Having an army always helps.

For obvious reasons the rest of Europe and the USA seem to be struggling with all of this. They are smug and disdainful, they dislike what's going on and are wagging long, pointy fingers around. Hurricanes hardly happen in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire these days, there's just a depressing flood of Tory self righteous rhetoric and rainwater. So because of  the rushed, naive and possibly partly corrupted referendum process none this can be approved. It's not cricket or rugby or American football, the Russians have tanks and soldiers and are aggressive (unlike us). They locked the gates and barred the doors and the secret service whispered into two million ears and said “Vote Yes or else you're in with the Ukraine for the next fifty Eurovision Song Contests.”

There were only two questions on the ballot paper and little else to choose, that idea does sound rather familiar. A bit like setting up a Yes or No scenario in a blank landscape and then campaigning on those two fairly easy to understand options. “But where's the debate?” that's the plaintive cry. As if debate before decision ever sorted anything. Debate is argument that ebbs and flows like an unruly tide, then somebody decides regardless of the outcome and the people still vote from the fear or the love that is in their hearts anyway. So it's outside of the rules of international behaviour and worst of all it's a victory and a boost to the cult of (limited/stunted/clever) personality and bully boy tactics that goes with the volatile package known as Vladimir Putin. There are talks of sanctions and a new Cold War, frost and iron, stone faces and the pushing up of gas and oil prices. The hypocritical energy companies will rub their hands at the prospect, ready and willing to squeeze a few pence out of the frightened masses. A little more instability working on the markets, a little more uncertainly over supply lines, a big hike in the prices. That's how we work, that's how the West behaves and dances around to the butterfly effect of some perceived instability in an area that’s seldom seen a stable decade in the last thousand years. 

Make no mistake, Russian is on the way back from the brink as we head towards it, the CCCP logo will once again adorn ice hockey jumpers and football strips. Their will be Cossack dances and parades of huge missiles, huge flags will be unfurled and great gas guzzling factories will produce substandard consumer items and first class weaponry. In the West we'll declare a bit of an chilly kind of phony cold war and also rearm and regroup and the balance will be restored and those heavy weight shadow boxing matches of the 50's to the 80's can resume. Doomsday Preppers and arms companies can relax, Sci-Fi and thriller authors can pat themselves on the back and stuff a few more pages into their typewriters. The churches can once again boast of Bible smuggling exploits in discreet Volkswagen campers and emails and social media will be monitored and strangled...and in Crimea? There will be dancing in the streets to the tune of a thousand Lada car horns (those that actually work anyway), then it's down hill all the way once the Coca-Cola syrup runs out and your Ford Focus needs a new clutch plate. It's about then that the Ukrainian minority will start to fight back...

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Book of Invasions

Watching the world burn: I don't really hate anything apart from the rest of the world. Their shrill voices and their religions, their ideas often hostile to whatever mine might change into. Their clamour for...I'm not sure for what. People always seem to be clamouring. Maybe in the west clamouring is seen as a sin, unless it's a sports event or some celebrity sightings bash. But the western folks play by some kind of space invader rule that doesn't apply elsewhere. There (in the non-west which is a fairly inaccurate means of describing anything) the way is simply full on invasion. Invade your neighbours in the next building, state or continent. Whether it's a funeral, a feast, a political rally or a religious festival then that's grounds for clamour leading to full on invasion. Shouting and screaming and carrying dead bodies or running away from frantic charging bulls also seems to work quite well and certainly adds to the drama - as I look on, bemused and at a safe distance. A few random guns shots (bullets come down once they've gone up), cannon mounted on rusty pickup trucks and posters of bearded men help. Also burn a badly drawn American flag, that really pisses the rest of the world right off. So to all those currently invading I'd say, fuck off and just go and invade yourself. Where did invading anything ever get us? (Apart from the Romans, Normans, Attila the Hun...)

Sunday, 2 March 2014

My Struggle

“The critical reading of texts always resulted in the parts being deleted, so that was what I did, my writing became more and more minimalist. In the end I couldn't write at all. But then I had a revelation, what if I did the opposite? What if, when a sentence or a scene was bad I just expanded it and poured in more and more? After that I became free in my writing. Fuck quality, fuck perfection, fuck minimalism. My world isn't perfect or minimalist so why should my writing be?”

“Concealing what is shameful to you will never lead to anything of value.”

Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Struggle: So it's that awful feeling of being ineffective and insignificant, wanting to perform on some bigger stage and not making it, not having the depth because all the time you measure the value of the day on how well your digestive system worked. Did your bowels move freely, did the discomfort or dull aches and pains come to much, is it over. That was it, there was no intellectual challenge. Of course if one came up you'd stifle it with some pallid and ghostly piece of garbled ignorance and dull expression and hope to God that the would do, to parry the blow away and wish for no more oncoming questions or challenges, but I had some brilliant ideas once, I know I did.

So you know that feeling when the idea does come your way, that bright light, growing into something, forming up, making sense of itself for the first time. Like witnessing a birth that's nothing to do with you but you, as a spectator cane see everything, detached and then from that viewpoint you can own it and adopt it and run with it. That's the best part of surrogate creation. Not doing anything at all but just being there so that the thing lands in your lap, you see it for what it is and go with it. Trouble is once these moments dry up they are harder to recognise it becomes a chore. The effort to pull through new stuff becomes a chore.You go looking in some twilight place, you search but there are no clues, it's a trial and a frustration. Like some fairy tale plot where the quest unfolds becoming steadily harder as each painful task is accomplished. Meanwhile on the sidelines the snipers line up to shoot you, never to kill for that would be too kind. They're just there with their pot shots and dismissive comments and enlightened suggestions to wound, to draw blood. It's always about the repulsive power of some stinking blood from somewhere. Paying a price in blood. Religions and disease and life forces all summed up in your bullet wounds and scar tissues. There they are, taking aim already.

I'm at some strange crossroads but without a credible soul to sell, just a ragged ghost that's played out and weak. No devil in his right mind want's me today, there are younger, fresher models lining up on the barricades and refuge camps, on the campuses and in the gyms and glittering canteens of the third sector. He'll have their throats for sure and ravage them like a wild dog. They don't understand any of that yet, such is the power of their educated positioning. But that wont last. So I'm invincible but ineffective, I'll take no one down, I'll just produce a stream of warm, unhealthy air that’s somehow dodged the purifying effects of the system. People will be put off but nobody will actually be hurt, that's important. An old obsolete weapon pointed at the sky with a marzipan warhead and a faulty guidance system. Start the revolution if you will but my life force wouldn't strike a match on a Molotov Cocktail and I could hardly suck an e-cigarette to get it going. It is irritating to get older and more tired.

Refection is for Narcissus: I was trying to look back on myself.  I do it from time to time, to make sense of things like being in a living dream where you can move objects and people, memories and events and get them finally sorted out and in the right place. That's how everybody should approach old age. It might take some strong and as yet undeveloped drugs to achieve this but I'd sign up for the treatment. Ideally it would also tackle all the prostrate and rattle and hum troubles that perplex and annoy. Life's good quality would return, in an unreal way of course but who cares for reality. Reality: a dull series of unending and unedifying debates about things that seldom get progressed generally ending wars of words or as a last resort violence and terrorism. Then some cycle of regret and repair kicks in, there is a short period of enlightenment then the whole stupid process starts again. I cant be bothered with that. You'd think some clever academic would have mapped out a decent diagram by now and would be hawking it around the colleges and so influencing the bright young things just to a) go back to nature or b) just devour all  in their path. There probably are too many active voices on the planet right now. A filter must be applied.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Organised weather systems

TV presenters sitting on couches making faces, talking about award shows, the NHS or celebrities and pretending to have a real relationship with a remote audience busy boiling kettles. I'm resisting the persistent illusion of human warmth that inhabits social television, full of assumptions and friendly banter, talking endlessly in the common parlance to try to fill the universal silence and void of broadcast matter and so pass time. It is vital that we pass the time and they are there to assist. This is the meaning of life. Today it will feel cold. Break to a weather bulletin.

The announcer spoke gently and normally, it was a regular weather forecast, 6PM on all channels. “On Tuesday we'll be hit by a rather well organised weather system coming in from the mid-Atlantic.” I thought little of it at the time, just a turn of phrase, a stock line in the weather script. I didn't realise that there was a basic truth there, one that was leaking out by whatever means and was about to make an enormous impact on our world.

The weather had turned against us; for years we thought that our actions were making the weather more intense and hard to predict, global warming, poor environmental management, the exploitation of resources whatever the cost. None of that was anything to do with anything or so it turned out, it was the weather itself, conscious and organised (as the announcer had let it slip) that was turning against us.

There in the clouds in the atmosphere in the blue yonder charges and particles were forming up, changing, evolving in an atmospheric soup. We all understand the principles of creation theory but we, in our thinking constrained it to animals and plants and organisms. They evolved thanks to natural selection and circumstances, now they were about to be hit by a higher evolutionary example. A thinking, focused and determined weather system, linked up and intelligent, self aware and with a purpose; to wipe the planet clean. Here we go.

At first the weather was just bad, badass even. Stormy, angry and for a few days unrelenting. Spread all across the world's stupid face. Normally calm and serene locations were suddenly struck by crazy, unseasonal and unexpected patterns of destructive rainstorms and cyclones. The seas crashed and swelled, trees uprooted, property destroyed on a huge scale and communications and travel disrupted. Then there would be a few days grace; the shock and the temporary recovery and then it would start up again. This pattern went on for about four weeks all across the globe and then stopped. The clouds disappeared and it was dry and slowly hotter , again everywhere...and it was February. In the north we were shocked, in the south; they just thought that summer had finally arrived a little later than usual.

The floods and the scattered damage caused now died back and dried out and dried out some more , then it baked hard in the heat, then things became desiccated and brittle. The saturated land that had sunk in the rains now cracked and groaned and place by place, bit by bit turned to dust. Whatever disaster recovery plans we'd prepared there was nothing that could deal with heat and drought everywhere all at once. Fires started, systems failed, water became like gold and food stores emptied as the fields and farms baked. Where is social cohesion and harmony when you need it? Not in the USA or the First World, those guys were mad as hell. Then, unexpectedly (and unforeseen) the rains returned. Too much too soon. It was Biblical in it's effect. It (the ongoing chaos) was the only subject the shattered news media covered and then food and fuel ran out big time.

For some people it was all about the wrath of god, others blamed the big companies, other's made the best by exploitation and profiteering. It made no difference, things were breaking up and civilisation was breaking down. Then there were those who understood, who had read and seen the signs and who knew that the “weather” was now a conscious entity; more than just a force. What we couldn't understand were it's processes. How advanced was it? A roaring lion, an angry animal, a vast and calculating human type mind, a god? To some it was a god. “Obvious” the said. When the term “intelligent weather” was first used by the BBC, social media ran riot. Cults and societies formed, conventional religions sought explanation and ownership. If the weather was/is a god it will be our god...or our devil. There were many views and as is the way of things, many divisions, some naturally turned violent and desperate as they twisted their versions of their truth to suit the ever changing actions of a clearly angry weather god.

Standing outside of the panic, up in the blasted Hebridean Islands of Scotland we gathered for an emergency council. (This was hardly anything new, all the big boys, corporations, NATO, UN, Russian, China and the Muslim and Vatican worlds had had their gatherings. Other than apportion blame to traditional enemies and expected protagonists it had all proved fruitless. Size matters but intention and determination are more important. We considered ours to be, for once, “for the best”.) Scientists, weather experts, a theologist and media people. We had to understand and we had to communicate with the weather. We had to learn it's language, hear what it said, negotiate a truce and somehow manage and understand this beast. In an abandoned community centre, warmed by a peat fired stove we drank hot tea and in as measured and civilised a way as we could began the discussion. Outside of the building the west winds hammered on the windows and spat hard rain at us as if it wished to join in and make some forceful points. We all understood. I said all the right things there, notice?

An American phonics specialist unleashed his laptop, a series of weather maps had been poured through some software synthesis mechanics. It was an intelligent piece of analysis and simulation. Every pattern for the last six months graphically displayed and analysed. If the weather was talking to us we had to listen and we had to look for the language hidden in the storms, here was a possible way. He ran the simulator. “You see how the pressures change across the world? It's almost like a human vocal pattern, like your throat and larynx, like your whole mouth moving to form sound and push out words. I first noticed this a few weeks ago and, when you run my software there are patterns, clear patterns that I believe are not only weather but actual expressions. The weather is communicating through the weather not just in angry bursts of natural phenomena but in a unique language and we must understand this. There were two Chinese linguist up at the end, their speciality was tonal language. They were suddenly exited and asked for a slow rerun of the presentation but this time with a sound wave analyser and view graph added in. “That will take me some time but I will work on it.” We broke for more tea and cigarettes while the others got down to work. It was all beyond my skill set, I'm more of a broker, a planner and a finisher. I see opportunities, gaps and requirements and fill them. This job probably being the biggest ever for me, by any definition. These experts, their ideals and their willingness to help coupled with their detailed work is what I need to capture, then I put a strategic plan together...and then I sell it to the highest bidder.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ju Ju Roots

The gap between my teeth. I hadn't noticed it before, that new gap, a dark and mysterious space now hatching and opening in my mouth, there at the very front. Where on earth had that come from? Why did my dentist not mention it during my last (normal and healthy to all intents and purposes) checkup. My teeth, thinning themselves out, breaking down and changing shape. Well apart from fair wear and tear and ageing that's not really possible is it? Teeth are just teeth. But the gaps grew and their shapes did change. Slowly and determinedly my teeth were becoming sharp, odd, inhuman, misshaped teeth. No longer mine.  Animal teeth maybe. I took photographs and measured. I went to the dentist. He just said that they were healthy but “subject to  a bit of change”. There were some tests and xrays but nothing could explain. Then the pains really started, in my gums and jawbone. My whole mouth,  my face. It was slowly growing and stretching out of shape. I'm surely too old for growing pains but my teeth, gums, jaw and mouth were slowly growing and shape shifting. Weeks and months passed, my world became a strange and dark corner I hid within. I went out less, wrapped myself in scarves, wore a hat but mostly stayed home, stopped shaving. I avoided friends and family and any unnecessary social contact. I wasn't me any more, I'd changed. My whole face and jawline now distorted, stretched and protruding. My nose elongated, my tongue stretched, my teeth spaced out and all sharp and angry, my dentist remained in shock and denial as were any medical experts I'd consulted. Some hinted that my story might well be worth a fortune and that I should cash in, but I was hurt and humiliated. I had the face and mouth of  a dog; but I was quite enjoying the taste and texture of red raw meat and the flavour(s) of blood.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Alien base on the Moon


“Turns out that there is an alien base on the moon, it's been there for a few thousand years, on the dark side of course but they still have capability to observe us from there. It's  a science they've developed along with many others, they are naturally more advanced and sophisticated than we are. If we developed it we'd call it Octogeographics – it means have the ability to look through and/or around things. Useful if you want to operate undetected whilst observing primitive peoples or sensitive animals over a long period of time which is exactly what they've been doing. If you are an alien being based on the moon is seen as a pretty bum gig, not the best, not the location to which the best operators are sent. It's either young apprentices or the old heads, those who are near the end of their service, on the verge of burn out or retiral. Earth you see isn't really considered to be all that interesting, in fact it's dull. That's partly because the real reason they are they is to monitor the sun, the earth is secondary in the mission and the sun, in the great scheme of things is still low down in terms of universal interest.”


“The aliens are mainly interested in the rather erratic behaviour of the sun, suns (stars) are far more important than planets and our sun is going through a particularly odd period at the moment. The sun's activity is currently slowing, dying back, reaching a low level of activity. All the signs are that solar movements have died back and so who knows where this will take the giant star or what the consequences might be for the solar system? So the aliens are studying this and they've seen a lot of it before as everything runs in the familiar universal cycles, birth, maturity, death. But it's worth recording so that a fuller understanding can be had and critically that any strategic opportunity or tactical gain can be realised.  Aliens pretty much want the same things as earth people, they have their schemes. If the sun changes then everything else orbiting around it will also change.”


“You might be wondering quite how I know all this. The answer is simple, I'm one of them, I'm a sleeper, a lizard man, a star man, here hidden in your plain sight. Heading out, heading in, gathering data and doing local and more detailed observation. There is the occasional piece of interaction with the humans, that's unavoidable if meaningful study is to take place, I can deal with that. So far I've been  active on earth for  about three hundred of your years. I've seen all the wars, minor advances, developments and significant events in that time. You might think it's all been exciting and dramatic, well maybe but we've written a lot of it off  as wasted opportunities and the predictable outcome of poor communication skills. All your languages and the diverse cultures that you celebrate don't really help, you need to slim down on these things, focus and pool your strengths together. You get far too hung up diversity and individuality. That mistake has cost you dearly in your progress on the evolutionary path. Basically you're all pretty fucked up, you know it (in a way) but really you don't and sadly (based on what I've seen) you're incapable of stepping out of this (other) cycle.”


“Anyway it's not in my mission to sort you out, that would take a decent sized nuclear war, something you've shrunk back from but frankly you need to take the bad medicine. You wont see it this way but it's your next most logical evolutionary step. Yes it is and that's unpalatable but the whiners and the cowards will never see that. They want the earth to be developed under a glass case full of preserved artefacts, using languages, processes and economic models that are broken. There is no value in preserving  lifeless ways of life and inefficient systems. Concentration on these things will not give you the kind of progress you need. You need to learn lessons from the past and wash your planet clean. Every other successful civilisation in the known universe has been through this but you guys are stuck in a rut. Now your sun is slowly switching itself off, you need to think again.”


“So there you have it, that's how it is, you've got some potential but you are all too strung out on the wrong things; religious slavery, political ineptitude, greed and fighting amongst yourselves. The most powerful need to take the initiative, cleanse the planet and move on. Ok that's an alien perspective but hey we've been watching your antics for a while and you're struggling. Anyway I've got to head back soon, I've a few extra shifts to do back on the moon base before I get my next break.”

Friday, 17 January 2014


She had always been partial to the gentle but stylish sounds of singer and songwriter Clifford T Ward. She loved his voice, it's quiet strength and his clever and concise lyrics. She'd been a fan since she'd heard his first album way back in her teenage years; “Singer Songwriter” in 1971, then she'd moved onto “Home Thoughts” (his second and most successful recording) and had followed him via his other recorded output up until he died in 2001. She had never seem him perform live however, he was famously reluctant to tour but she was consoled by the odd video clip that remained and her collection of cuttings  and albums. Whatever else even if most of the world had forgotten about Clifford, she would not – she hummed the opening lines of “Gaye” to herself and carefully and slowly played along on an air piano. It was a beautiful song.

Now she was looking out across the kitchen sink, out through the grimy window and net curtains, across the roofs of the council flats and garden sheds, the concrete and cacophony of housing estate life, past the odd struggling tree and orange glowing lampposts and that mysterious cold fog of damp and air pollution that just hung there between heaven and earth. She looked through all this to see the winter sun glow and slowly fade out over the warehouse tiles and the motorway flyover. The day was over nearly but she felt warm inside as the melody trailed away somewhere in the back of her mind, like a ribbon on the end of a drifting balloon. It would have been nice to have been called Gaye (with an e of course). It seemed sad that the word and the name had been hijacked by another meaning altogether, a modern language piece of robbery that she was powerless to stop or change. She just liked that name and liked to imagine Clifford T singing it to her in the song, as if it was her real name and it was all pure and untainted by...everything. The thought brought a tear to the corner of her eye and a sniff and a wipe. She finished the dishes.

Life would've been so different if she could have just met a man like Clifford, a mild, creative, sensitive type, a man who just understood things, a man who listened and smiled. She was still looking out of the window. At times like this her loneliness was like a sharp pain, almost crippling but familiar and comforting in a way she couldn't understand. This was how it had been for years, tight up and private, all there running around inside her head in an unspoken spiral of frustration, rage and then tempered by a silent reflection and a passive acceptance. “This is my life and my pain; I can choose to prod it to understand it or I can choose to deny it and leave it be. I can also choose to ignore it and then just slip away. Slip away into that music, those chords ringing out from the piano, recorded forty years ago but still as fresh as paint. Remarkable and moving, understood by me and me alone as the voice rises and sings and pours out the raw but very English emotions that you  won't  find anywhere else. You just won't.”

Then, the doorbell rang, you never do expect that to happen. It was a delivery, an Amazon Box, recycled and woven with brown parcel tape and handwritten labels. She signed the electronic device the man handed her, thanked him, took the package inside and closed the door. She stood and admired the box, she like the look and feel of cardboard. This was a fine example. “Don't be in too much of a hurry to open it, savour the moment, don't be in too much of a hurry,” so said a voice from somewhere. Perhaps God, Clifford T, the radio or the delivery man whispering through the letter box.

She put the box on the coffee table and read the label; Ms G Fraser, 121 Mendelssohn Way, Saltley, Wolverhampton. It had come to the correct address. The voice's advice was still resonating so she made a cup of tea and weighed up the box and what It might contain. There were no brand names or logos, it was ex-Amazon but the label was hand written in biro on white paper cello-taped to the lid. It was bigger than shoe box but much smaller than a whale. She was intrigued and she reminded herself that she never bought things on line or from mail order catalogues.  Somebody else had sent it out to her. Another singsong voice began in her head:

“I sent a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it,

I sent a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it,

I dree, I dree, I dree, I dropped it.

My lover sent a letter out and on the way he dropped it,

My lover sent a letter out and on the way he dropped it,

He dree, he dree, he dree, he dropped it...”

She jumped up from the couch, plonked down the empty tea mug and sliced open the box with the upturned blade of a pair of scissors. The cardboard flaps yielded and sprang up as the tape was slit up the middle, a delicious moment. There were more packing materials inside, bubble wrap and tape and botched things. It was well wrapped up. She tore through the outer levels.  She saw the contents and was shocked, a tiny hiss of a tiny scream escaped and she shut the box quickly and looked around the room, as if a crowd might have gathered to watch and comment upon her response. She gently put the package back on the coffee table like was for all the world an unexploded bomb (it wasn't).

She composed herself, that took time. Hands together then open and apart she lifted the lids and picked out the packing materials, shaking each piece as she drew it from the box. With the packing gone the contents were revealed and her mouth already open fell open wider. Bones. There were bones. Dry, white and grey, flaky, old, dusty, misshapen, strange bones, unholy bones she thought. About a dozen shapes (which she wasn't about to touch or count properly) maybe femurs, ribs, vertebrae; human or animal, ugh! There seemed to be no obvious explanation and her mind was racing around the various macabre possibilities. She looked again at the outer packaging and the post mark. “Birmingham City”  was all it said. “Bones from Birmingham, dry bleached bones, blown in to lie and die in the dust in my house, sent from up the motorway in Birmingham. 

The neighbours were complaining to the police. Hardly an angry mob but here and there feelings were running high on a mixture of frustration, disturbance and concern. “Bloody woman, bloody music, everyday, all day, that's all she plays and now it's been going on for weeks...well all week. I can't sleep or concentrate, it's like being strangled by treacle,  you have to do something.”

The police eventually acted. They had to break down the door. She was there, sitting in the kitchen, slumped but still staring out, dead eyes open, blindly staring over the sink, beyond and past the kitchen window to the wide world beyond. The sun was going down. There was an eerie glow in the room. The bones were laid out on the kitchen table, arranged like letters or symbols. The officers couldn't quite fathom it, then one realised he was seeing the word upside down. He moved across the kitchen floor stepping on some bubble wrap that popped as his black shoes landed on it. The bones spelt out “Gaye”.