Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Hotel for dead fish


Back at work today, mostly on some kind of auto pilot. One that allows random whistling and the inner humming of tunes in no kind of order. There is also a certain amount of day dreaming or flights of fancy. This includes imagined conversations, replayed conversations, prize winning scenarios, inspiring talks to both myself and a variety of others and of course well worded rants of justification from all sorts of sources i.e. the merits of adding cream to fruit juice, ways to remove Mr D Trump from office, other miscellaneous acts of political revenge or downright revolution based around the current UK set up, why I did what I did (or why I do what I do), remembering gilt edged rants from previous daydreams and attempting to reconstruct them and also, by way of a break, thinking a few positive thoughts about the future. Of course by the end of the day these various long winded acts of twaddle are completely forgotten but will not down reappear on my return to the hotel.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Feeding the wild birds

So as we reach the ending points of the year known as 2017 I've come to realise that I've pretty much neglected this blog for a whole year. A year in which I've been unwell, better and then fully fit. I've been retired, recruited and then resolved to maybe not to be working quite so much. I've been to Ireland and Germany but no further and I've clocked other unplanned miles unexpectedly. I've produced some good pieces of work and a lot of mediocre, I've made plans and failed to carry them out and I've decided to declutter (but that's in the future). I've taken exercise, been to the top of Ben Nevis and dipped my toes at chilly sea level, been caught out in the mists, drenched in the rain and from time to time "had my chips". I've been comfortable, looked after and hungry. I've been exhausted and ghostly, I've renounced and purged and I've fallen down a flight of stairs. I drink a good deal less alcohol these days, I still waste time, I've been disillusioned and inspired, I've been alone and in great company. Mostly I've been loved and listened to and in the right place (most of the time). I just haven't fed the wild birds regularly.


Friday, 31 March 2017

You say, you want


"There's a revolution coming", said the Ivo young revolutionary (I presume they all say that at some point). "I can feel it in my blood, rushing, coursing, almost making me light headed with it's vigour. We are living in extra special times, so much injustice, so much corruption, so much unnecessary violence, so much that needs to be put right. The people, our people know it, they hunger for it, they hunger for fairness and decency, things that this regime cannot and will not provide. We have no alternative than to over throw our oppressors and grab hold of those things we long for, our freedom, our land, our entitlement!"  His voice sounded strong, firm, encouraging. It was a good, simple message.

There was a small crowd around him with more gathering, flotsam and jetsam, workers, students, young and old. He looked across at their faces, eyes wide, weight shifting from foot to foot, left and right. Some clapped as  he finished speaking, some shouted encouragement and then an awkward silence fell. He though he heard a derisory laugh from the back. He felt a flash somewhere inside and outside his head. He knew he was saying things that had been said many times, many places across the world, often with the same fierce intensity, the same belief, but said many times...what had the outcomes been? What had changed? Bloodshed? Punishment? A worse regime setting itself in? He mustn't think like that, only a few seconds ago the blood was up, his pulse raced, but now...now that split second of silence, it had shaken him.

It's a horrible moment when you suffer self doubt, when all the strength of your argument deserts you, supportive faces seem far away. Everything had turned around in seconds for him. He was strong, speaking out, encouraging, drawing attention and gathering an audience. Now his mouth felt dry, nervous, he'd pushed too far and his mind had turned blank. He began to shake, he held himself in, together, all being well no one would notice, it was just a long pause, a stream. The eyes started to move away from him, attention wavered. There was a noise from further up the street, amongst the concrete and telephone poles, engines and horns getting closer.

"Militia!" somebody shouted, and the crowd, which was still hardly that, those people joining began to move back, some running, some walking and trying to resume their normal look, blending and shifting, sweeping away like sand on some desert breeze. "Militia!" called another. Things escalated. There now was a proper scattering underway.

Ivo had ceased to be the focus for them but was now, as he suddenly realised, the likely focus for the oncoming troops. Ivo crouched down as if under fire and, like the rest headed for anywhere that might offer emergency cover. The bar, the market, the coffee stall. That would do, he sidled along beside two elderly women who seemed oblivious to the oncoming melee, quickly ditched his hoodie into a bin and tried to meander from the open space to the relative safety of the coffee shack. Fortunately there was a queue and he found himself in amongst it, looking away but with all his senses primed.

The troops had slowed down and now walked amongst the townsfolk, shouting at and slapping people at random. There seemed no strategy other than basic brute force and intimidation. Their accents were not local, they were paid to come in and disrupt, spread fear and make a few token arrests. The message being that we can wreck this place if we want, pick up who we like and injure a few if we have to. So far Ivo had avoided direct contact and was now unsure if they were looking for him, acting on some other tip off or just causing trouble for the hell of it. Thankfully nobody had pointed him out so far but at any second we could be apprehended and might join the long, grey ranks of those who had just disappeared.

Ivo suddenly felt a firm grip upon his shoulder, a cold sweat gripped him, this was not good. "Darling! You're here, out and about, ducking and diving with those student friends of yours any these toy soldiers no doubt and too busy to stop and take time and enjoy a little coffee and a cigarette with your own mother?"

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Not human afterall




I wasn't always human, one time I lived in series of paintings. It was a strange existence, hanging there on a wall, maybe at some exhibition or in a private house on the stairway. Then there was storage, under wraps where nothing really happened, just a deep, warm darkness where I was free to think. I preferred that, better than being gawped at by some patron or wine glass juggling freeloader or ending up on the wall of a middle class residence being ignored or dusted occasionally. 

I suppose I could see others, take a viewing, be sociable and liked when I was out there. Look across at my compatriots, oily, watery, mixed media or what ever they consisted of but the conversation level was low. Truly we didn't care for one another, what was the point? Even being scrapped or overpainted didn't feel so bad, just a return to the warm darkness of not quite being. That was the problem really, if nobody was actually looking at me, studying me, did I exist at all? And at those times, when there was no need for me to return some studious or appreciative gaze I felt more alive than ever, knowing and feeling more a being. Not being judged or glossed over or auctioned. Just there, very much in my own personal space, being me, simply two dimensional and slowly drying out. Turning human, when I did happen (and that's something that I can't quite explain) was a bit of a disappointment.

I try not to dwell on any of that, I just live my life, my past as a painting is long gone but every so often I'll visit a gallery or exhibition, just to check up, just to see how it's all going, just to try to connect. It never does work though, I've lost the language, I've broken the connection, I've moved on to another plane and nobody on either side of the canvas cares. That's what living various odd lives gives you, the opportunity to see from other perspectives, to be watched and to watch. To be a creation and a comment and have some meaning, the one that which the viewer gives you and then the one that you give yourself. But what about the artists you say? Well they just do what we tell them.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Underground

Things that we can't be sure about. There are many, they are everywhere, they are cloaked with the mask of reality or even cloaked with the cloak of reality. Hard to fathom, that's why I offer no new insights because, despite all my travels, exploration and experiences I am always returning back to that same point of not being sure. Recent history and current events show us on a daily basis that people don't learn or develop. The cry for free speech and transparency allows all views to rise and register, we are not all comfortable with what is said and what we hear. Torrents of hate speak, legitimised and resonating at all levels. Everybody wants to undermine the establishment in whatever form it appears to take, even the establishment wants to undermine the establishment because it's always somebody else or some other issue that's getting in the way. So ideas are banded about, solutions are constructed and policies are made, cynically alluding to providing the hope of a way out, a fix to the "problem" upon which a thousand valid points of view might exist. 

So stepping back and looking at the world almost everything seems absurd, pointless and at it's worse hurtful and destructive. Nobody  can tolerate much of anything different for too long. There's a need to settle scores, to win, to gain the upper hand but for what? None of this gets us anywhere, none of it produces worthwhile fruit. We are struggling to have our voices heard because we were told our voices should be heard, we were told to speak up but all we seem to be doing is shouting into a barrel while constantly revolving establishment controllers absorb the sounds and continue to do what they've always done, scheme and meddle with no vision or obvious end game. Everybody tells their own version of the truth but the truth was corrupted a long time ago, now there is just unrest, argument and division. Things we disagree with piled high but no real power with which to knock them down.

So we run exhausted to the glorious false religion of science fiction, to dystopian landscapes, to the edges of fantasy storytelling where star ships and drugs and starting again from some fresh set of seeds looks like the way to go. Beginning again and letting the world burn and burn out, purged by the smoke and flame so that those survivors blessed with the correct set of ideas and learned lessons might kickstart a fairer and freer world. Tragic, comedic and unlikely. 

Other people's views and regimes will prevail, bad things will continue to happen, the mainstream will protect itself and all your energy will be used up in a pointless struggle as perpetual change brings only more of the same. So join us, the few who have travelled far enough to want to travel no more. Join us in the underground.


Monday, 28 November 2016

Poem pics



OK, these are not proper poems, more like idle ramblings typed up onto a picture. A picture (two) that I wanted to use up in some way. All quite spontaneous though and in their own way well intentioned. As if any of that matters.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Wormwood




To my fellow conspirators there's not much to see here

I initiated my device when I thought the coast was in the clear

There's nothing much of anything that they can pin on me

Except my strange compulsion to live in a world that's free


They devil woke me through the night and on my body stood

He squeezed out apple juice and beetroot, Brew Dog and Wormwood

It was my sweet hallucination telling me you're going wrong

So I put the pin back in the grenade and turned it to a song


Now Trump and Farage hang from lampposts in a drunken sailor's dream

The Daily Mail bought up the images and made a fortune on the stream

The people said “We'd already guessed that things were going wrong”

“We only did it anyway just to push this movement on”


Now things have settled down again since we gave up on human rights

We surrendered all our fortitude for some psychedelic lights

They said “you've won the day” but it still was pretty clear

Friendships make you comfortable but they're dangerous round here.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The hills are alive



By the time I'd reached the safety of the road I was in pieces. Soaked with sweat, limbs turning to jelly, my mind racing, thoughts flashing here and everywhere, pulse racing and I was (possibly but I'm not sure) jabbering. There was so much going on inside my head that I was unsure as to what was inside or outside. I threw myself down onto the grass verge, exhausted and buried my head into the cool, wet green as if it was some sweet anaesthetic. Something to douse the fear and the slowly growing pain that was building following my encounter. "Don't you be going up there alone", that was the warning from Bob the old shepherd last night in the pub. Now his words were ringing in my ears. How had he known? What had he seen? How many others? Of course I'd laughed, full of Dutch courage and scepticism and not really caring. At that certain age when you feel invincible and eternal, strong and rational enough to deal with whatever comes your way. Well that was last night, last life even. The watershed had been arrived at. I wasn't laughing now.

I seemed to sleep or drown or fall for the longest time, no sense of day or night, just hugging the ground, curled up in some foetal recovery position, still and silent. Rain was falling, steadily damp, soaking me with an electric warmth and a cloak of sterility. Forcing me to wake and face the truth of my situation. It was then, groggy and still in some pain that I heard the voice...

I looked up, a child stood before me. Looked like a boy of about seven I think, it was hard to tell. The first thing I noticed were the shoes, girls' Mary Jane shoes, one brown, one black and on the wrong feet. The child looked down on me as I struggled to move and to get up onto my knees. Daylight was breaking and the mist was sheathing all around. There was just me and this strange figure in a ghostly wilderness. Neither of is spoke we just stared at one another. I thought I must be in shock and that this was another hallucination, another mask, some kind of trick of the mind. This whole experience was unreal and things had stopped making sense. The child spoke again.

"You look lost...I know how that feels, I think that I may be lost."

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Space


Space: Well it is kind of bottomless and may appear empty but frankly I think you'll find that there is quite a lot going on. I do however say that from a rather earth bound perspective but there's a lot of scientific fact and even more speculation you could pick up from we humans. Why there are books, films and fantasies and all sorts of theories. They kind of crash into one another all the time, you may pick sense the jumbled signals. We've only been so far physically, we create space junk in our own back yard easily but we can see and hear beyond the immediate area ... Anyway hope your OK and lookout for that star at the bottom right. That's the one from the Old Grey Whistle Test.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Too good to be true


It was an error of judgement, a big one and I did not foresee the consequences. It's true that we had had our difference, what couple doesn't? We quarrelled and came and went our separate ways but I didn't expect it to end like this. You see she caught me out, clean as a whistle, fare and square. OK, it was all about me, all my fault and money was involved. We had some savings, not a lot but the start of a nest egg towards a decent house. That was the plan and the money was ring fenced, we avoided touching it and simply added to the pot when we could. There were no withdrawals. That was the rule and I broke it, but even today, after all the pain and grief I think I was right, I just failed to explain myself properly. I thought I could use a bit of a short cut to get the money to grow and of course if a thing seems too good to be true it...

So I'm out one afternoon, enjoying a cool beer in one of local bars when this Australian guy comes in. He's a little younger than me, he was a bit of a swagger, a glint in his eyes, he's a traveller and looks streetwise. He does a full 360 around the bar, checks out the doors and exits, checks out the other customers, none of whom, other than me are paying any attention to him. There's sports on the TV, some side bets are going down, there's some animation in the other corner and at the bar two old guys are firmly holding their glasses and talking in low voices. I'm on my own at a table just being, well vacant I guess, like I had a dumb sign on my head that pointed that fact out to everyone entering. Here's the vacant guy spinning out his beer time. 

I realised that the stranger was Australian when opened his mouth to order. He had a loud voice, joshed a little with the barman and pointed to the glass beer fridge and chose a bottle, quickly paid and then turned around again and caught my glance just as I was moving it from the TV screen to the doorway. "Mind if I join you?"

I nodded, didn't respond with the obvious joke and he sat down opposite me and poured his beer carefully into the schooner. No space invasion anyway, I took that as a good sign. He looks me straight in the eye then...

"You look a good 'un, I'm wondering if you'd be interested in what I like to call `safe speculation`. You see safe speculation is all about making a small investment in a project that will very likely result in a small profit for little or no risk. Of course the bigger the investment the greater the final return."

"Are you kidding me? Two minutes in a pub and you're trying to con me with this "speculation" garbage."

"Whoa, no con here, no garbage. This isn't a scam, I'm completely on the level but it so happens that I make my way in the world by using money to make money, that's all."

"Well I'm pleased for you but I'll give you a tip, don't walk into a strange bar and start up some cold conversation about easy money, nobody is going to buy that."

"You know that's what everyone tells me. You see I do this often, every day, maybe twice or three times. But the thing is, my way really does work, that's why I'm here talking to you, this is how I operate and it works...for all parties involved. We all make money, we all win."

I grinned and nodded, he knew I wasn't at all convinced.

"Look I used to work in a store and everyday this guy would come in and but two bottles of Coke and five cigars, cheap ones. He was a bit of a shabby dresser, looked like he'd a low paid job in some office in town.He'd usually be chatty about the news or something, he was pleasant and ordinary and he'd then head off to work or somewhere, I don't know. But one day he didn't come in, and another and of course I wondered what had happened, was he on holiday or sick or even dead? Well I asked around and no one knew a thing...wait WTF!"

Then this girl comes in, she's screaming something, she drags me outside and begins slapping me around with a bunch of flowers. It was clearly a case of either mistaken identity on her part or amnesia on mine.

Plop

Plop! We fell from space, some black hole somewhere. There was a lot of interference on the screen. The crew may have passed out for a few moments as we crossed over. We were treading continents. This you see is our version of space flight, it's not really the way it's portrayed in your films and sci-fi books. They tend to glamourise it with flashing lights, blue stars, great jumps in speed and some shuddering. That's not how it is for us. It's simpler. We didn't really develop the technology, no, we stumbled on it, well our forefathers did and they're long gone. So far gone that we've almost forgotten them and how you actually do things. You see when we want to travel we just get into the vehicle, twiddle a few controls (and there is voice actuation) and we just drop through space and then we land here or someplace like it. It's that simple really, we move ourselves using the device and drop, so we plop and find ourselves elsewhere. Getting home is tougher, we've yet to perfect all that.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Life as a rat

As far as I was aware I'd never signed up for any experiment. I'd never crossed ant grammatical lines, never spoken up or back, hadn't missed any punctuation. Now here I was in some sound lab, headphones on and pad of paper and a pen in front of me. A voice in the phones cut into the BGM and said; "You were never meant to be here, your attendance is a chance occurrence, a random event. It may, in the great scheme count for very little or indeed it may be of some significance. So please consider yourselves to be no better than white mice or lab rats. You are the subjects of a great and long running experiment, one that we did not begin and that we shall not conclude. Only God or the Great Corporation can call a halt to the research and so it is that you must play your part, honestly, humbly and obediently. Understand?"

There was no opportunity to respond. Responding was not any part of the arrangement. We were in a controlled situation that we did not control. We were the experiment. I looked down the line of drawn, white faces. Each one consumed by some kind of new personal drive and horror. Victims and spokespersons for the masses, the chattering careless masses. We'd left them behind in our gloomy departure, we'd asked for no support or counsel as we were shipped like packets of meat in the centre for...experimentation and testing. I presumed this. There was noting else.

Then a buzzer sounded and the countdown began, there was little warning and now we were in the game. The questions came like silver bullets, repeated twice for effect and clarity (they said). I wrote down my answers as if my life depended upon them. It did. This was my moment. My time to fry my brain and make the grade. To be the best example, lab rat or whatever they called us. I was on fire, but not noticeably. I just had to maintain a workmanlike demeanour as the questions hit me like punches and I rolled with them or reeled with their impact. There was not dodging of issues or safe haven. The rats were being put through their paces and pummelled.  I lost track of time, it was shocking but expected. Then in a hour or maybe less it was over. White faces were red, bloated and sweating, papers were scattered. There was muttering, whispering and swearing but no one wanted to give too much away. not yet. Not until we were on the other side of the wire and the steel doors, till there was sunshine and water and the chance of seeing friends.

As I made my way out I cursed under my breath, I mouthed untidy, unclean words. All the rest of my civilised vocabulary had been squeezed out and stretched to breaking point by the time and the test and the heat. I was dried up inside, all that remained was the obscene husk, the bad language and the bitter tongues. That was what they had done to us, to me. As for my result, I never knew it, my transportation across the water was either my reward or my punishment. All part of the plan, keep it as unclear, opaque and difficult as possible and avoid the truth at all costs.

I looked up, now I was free from the test. The sky was blue, there was board and lodgings and, for the time being a place to be. If only I could be clear as to what any of this really meant.