Monday, 30 April 2012

Time travel made easy

It was when I was a very small boy that I first learned about time travel as a possible workable concept and potential career. I was intrigued by how it might be manipulated. I was of course stubborn and ignorant but also driven and destructive. So at first I took the simple route, I stopped clocks, holding back their mechanisms with pieces of cardboard so they strained for a tiny second and then fell silent. I would also remove the batteries from the new fangled electric clocks, then on clocks without face glass I'd catch the hands, cruelly twisting them together, like tying the legs of a pony so they stuck at some useless hours. Cheap watches were hit with hammers, expensive watches had their winders removed, that worked best, they died a slow, wound down death. I liked that and I liked the unpredictable nature of it. Of course all I was doing was stopping the measure of time and pretending that gave me some kind of power over time. Of course it didn't, for every clock or watch I quietly knobbled there were a million more ticking up or down the measured mile of time. I needed to find something that would work on a bigger scale, or something that worked on a smaller scale, affecting only me. For my young hungry mind it was a perplexing, taxing but addictive conundrum.

My breakthrough came as I watched rainwater splashing down and across the rooftop gulleys from my bedroom window. I studied the flow, the downward direction, the twists in the routes, the separation of streams that then met again and came together. The pools and puddles, the tick, the drip, the splash of each shower's downpour on the roof pattern. It was whilst watching these dancing but constrained and relentless waters that I formed my first theory about the flow and fluidity of time. It was there, always moving, always finding a level, always travelling, all you had to do was get into that flow. Once in it you could run against it, go with it or run ahead of it. It was just a matter of choosing your direction and, critically deciding on how much effort you needed to expend.

My first few attempts were clumsy and funny, like a lost dog swimming, I splashed and got nowhere, I couldn't separate myself from the curse of now. I treaded water and time mastered me. But I was determined and I persevered. The words of my old grandfather came back to me many times as I practised, “You'll never become anything unless you break out of the mainstream, quitters don't win and winners don't quit.” I wouldn't quit.

My non-scientific reasoning told me that flows were strongest when time played tricks, at night, on the solstice, at dawn, at dusk or noon. These were the key times when time itself was busy, preoccupied, distracted, caught up with it's own ends and purposes. If I could break in there, at one of these weak points I could enter the flow and navigate a passage from my self forwards or backwards or in the nowhere time. Maybe I could make time time stand still. That would be my first trick, like stopping all those clocks but this time not mechanically but from the inside, from the heart of time, from the stream.

It required a hearty breakfast, a careful choice of footwear and a good deal of concentration – focus. It was noon (or a minute before), time's attention was elsewhere,this was a key moment. I focused, stood still, my back to the sun and inwardly perceived the flow. It was in me, around me, all over me. I held out a weak open palm and slowly, as the seconded counted down closed my fingers into a fist all around the flow of time. I closed my eyes and pulled tight on the flow, like holding back a straining, stupid puppy dog on a lead. I gripped it, I held it. I felt the breath leave my lungs, I felt a grey draining, I heard the stopping of the clocks as time scrapped on the bottom of the tiny reef I had created. It has stopped but I hardly dared to look out.

I didn't want to lose my concentration but I had to see what was happening. I decided to blink. Blink slowly that is and only letting tiny slivers of light in. I had to keep concentrating and that took a surprising amount of effort. I was after all holding a whole lot of time in my whitening knuckles, a whole lot of time.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Our glorious past

She was talking to her friend across the top the wide and stormy surface of the two champagne glasses, the bubbles rose, dispersed and defused into the conversation, their pink tinge shadowing the words, underlining the points and occasionally, when oxygen was paused for and breathe sucked in, added their own drunken punctuation. “There is nothing at all wrong with that previous sentence”, said the dark haired lady, “I simply wanted to remind you of the great heritage to which we belong, years of activity, expression, theatre and glamour, stretching back into the black, the white, the sepia. The squeals and the traditions, it's all there, exciting and fascinating for us, entrancing for them”. Up popped a bubble. “We can't afford not to maintain the standard of our predecessors’, or even exceed them, the drugs do work.” She giggled as the bubbles burst and she snapped a finger at the young, ginger waiter. She said nothing just momentarily met his eye and pointed a long finger down towards the glass. The boy nodded and spun off towards the dark and mysterious place in the cafe, behind the bar.

“This career has made me a snob and I love it for that, it's done more for me than any man...or woman, I owe it something”. A fresh bottle arrived pristine in a bright white stem ironed napkin, the neck spurting a faint fog as it was tilted and poured. There was no conversation. “A toast!” Declared the blonde lady, “To a glorious past and richer, finer future!” They giggled and there was a brief silence as the drank from the flutes in a well practiced move that avoided wetting the lips or smudging the lipstick. “...And darling, I will not be eating this afternoon as I have such a schedule, such a time and my shape and that is my livelihood to look ever in the grandest style.”

From his station the waiter watched the two converse, occasionally scanning the tables for new customers or signals for attention. Today, this afternoon things were quiet, a light drizzle was falling, the pavement cafes were chewing on the remaining clientele, it was nearing the end of the season, the leaves had lost the summer sheen and were beginning to wrinkle. His gaze returned to the two women, he focused on their necks, the early wrinkles, stretches, tones and pale skin, half hidden by scarves and collars. Then he looked up and saw as a single leaf fell from a tree branch that was stretched across the cafe sunshade, it floated lazily down from above, almost floating from side to side like a parachute and then with it's own strangely determined trajectory landed gently in the champagne glass of the dark haired lady. Time was passing.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Curse of the floating head

Sometimes you just get completely detached from things, it can happen in the strangest of places.

Saturday, 14 April 2012


Ode to the 166: Trucking along the M9 or some other such number I saw it on the hard shoulder, stopped still, hazard lights blinking meekly, unable to move. A silver 03 plate Alfa Romeo 166, a rare car, a rare sight on the road and possibly a vehicle I might very well have owned had I not got cold feet and walked away from the sale at the last minute of the last second of the eleventh hour. The sight provoked mixed feelings as I rolled by in the less well designed, less stylish, much more common but nonetheless still moving along the motorway Volvo.

The faded beauty of those silver wings
The Moma leather and the little things
Carabinieri blue or racing red
Stylistic pictures in your head
As silky smooth as Sophia Loren
Soft suspension that clings tight through the bend
But there's this broken cam-belt true love cant fix
Bent valves and steam as the oil and water mix
So I'm glad I dodged the 166.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

193 and counting

So here comes the very necessary, patronising bit, that piece that you have to include, that irritating passage, badly over written and cliched that (has too many thats in it) exhausts the readers, perplexes the audience and alienate anybody with any common sense or normal level of intelligence. Anyway despite knowing all that you persist, you add these sledgehammer phrases and terms and allow the whole passage the opportunity to shrink and sink without trace. That's the conundrum, knowing and seeing the fundamental weakness in your technique and work and being unable to change it, so trapped in your own thought processes and ways of working that you cant escape. It's a life sentence and a treadmill, a piano headed up a mountainside and you're the one pushing it, inevitable...that's what he thought and believed until she walked into his life.

When he first saw her it was like some fuzzy moment, a shot taken through a special lens, there was blurring, there was mystery, he wanted to wipe his eyes, clear the glass. Slowly the haze cleared, that fog and mist and visual clutter, those indistinct images sharpened up, he was escaping from himself. She was the exit, it seemed.

She made his eyes hurt, it was like that, he wanted to stare and never stop. It was intense, like a burn. She was perfect, a perfect problem, mouth, hair, face and then that expression, that thing, that glint in here eyes, like a smile and a twinkle and all the cliches floating together in some wonderful construction that transcended any normal experience. It was almost religious and it was certainly mystical in it's highest, most magical manifestation. “Love”, he thought, “if this is love then it is truly mystical...and we've not even had any sex yet.”

“I took your picture with that old black and white camera, well the film was black and white, you were about to turn away and I called your name, you were separated from the others, they'd gone on but you'd stayed back. We hadn't had the conversation and I was just muddling along, fiddling with the camera, hoping for an opportunity or a snap and then the moment came. It was like that and then over, but I knew it would stay with me forever. I has, even it this, today is the end of forever, which it may well be.”

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Ends of Fragment

“I am obsessed with colour,” she whispered, “I am obsessed with colour,” she said, then she repeated, “I am obsessed with colour, it means so much, of colour, fantastic, I want my world to be colourful all the time, everything, bright and cheery.” She thought in colour or so she thought, she though her coloured thoughts were the brightest thoughts, thoughts that were dazzling, unsubstantial in content but dazzling in colour. Colours banging against one another within her stated boundaries of chaos, fabrics, patterns, designs. She likes the phrase “eye popping”, she wanted everything to be eye-popping, like a 60's shop window, an explosion in a paint factory, an explosion in a panty factory, an artistic explosion, of any kind. No room for mixed feelings whatsoever.

“Everybody is disturbed in some way, everybody is working on some instinctive level, a level of reaction, a level where you are reacting, reacting to the stream, to the great stream, the constant stream of colours that are just like punching you in the face. Everyday, every waking hour, like you're thinking god's own thoughts, mad coloured thoughts, again outside the boundaries. I still love looking in shop windows though, not so bothered about going in, not shopping, just looking at the colours in their compositions, set up, just there to be looked at, that's their purpose. Is that some higher purpose, to be their outside, nose against the window, looking, staring, taking it all in al the colours. That's what I like doing best, me, alone.”

She thought about her clothes, her style, her package and scrabbled contents of bits and bops and tops and bottoms and eyes and nails and shoes that made her up. Hair and skin and flesh tones scrubbed over and away and replaced with the colours, the tones, the rainbows and the heat. The red heat of colour, the blue heat of colour, the yellow heat, the green heat, those hot heats, the burn, the burning sensation in the retina, turning inwards, hitting the brain, blurred at the edges, the enormous waterfall of colour, flowing one to another over edges, hedges, windows, shop windows, back to those windows, displays, shops and the random colours. Things put in there by stupid girls and thin men, placed as if on purpose, for effect but creating, for her another effect altogether. Other effects, in the mind, in the heart, when the colour truly hits the spot.

“In twenty years time, there will be more colour, more. The sun will burn more brightly, turning up those colours, amplifying them, making them pulse in the cerebral way, pulse like a pulse, steady and rhythmic, colours that pulsed and danced. Much more than average, more than average, always more than average is so much more than average,” or so she thought.

“Whatever this is it isn't art, whatever it is, it's not what it is, it can't be just because you say it is, things can't just be what you say they are just because you say they are, that's what your parents would say, say things that are always about must or have to. So I'm not really bothered about art, I'm not really bothered about anything except taking in those colours, sucking them in, taking them in, stealing them like they were things you could shop lift or something, found things that have been claimed, found so that they suddenly start to matter, then they just turn to colour, colours I have found. I like to find colours, I like that feeling of shock and surprise and then embarrassment. Embarrassed by colours and their effect, overwhelming. More colours to play with. That's what I want.” She puffed a cigarette, the ash was hanging long on the burning tip, long, ready to drop, drop on the carpet, drop and stain, a grey stain. Not coloured.

Little tiny stitches, in fabric, little tiny holes, cuts and thread, like punctuation marks, stops, starts and pauses inside your head, gaps in the neurons, spaces between, important spaces between the heroic gaps, gaps that can be filled with colour, buttons, jewels, more bits, more detail, colour catching light catching spectrum bending, making the colour come alive, “I am obsessed with colour,” she whispered. “I remain there, I remain in the colour, that is where I am.”