Tuesday, 23 December 2014

December


Its December, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. In the freezing of the night and in the cowering of the grey day I could have settled for less. I could have explored less; I could have expressed myself less colourfully. I was not perfect and in this case and in my case less was much less than more. So much less than more so as to be almost insignificant. I thought of how the pantomime season always brought with it bad weather, horrible atrocious days that forced us to wrap up and move slowly in some winterly discontent and discomfort. In this land great crowds would gather in lukewarm theatres where they paid good money to be entertained. I just thought that there was something wrong with them all. They were like a plague and not a good plague either just in case my meaning is unclear. I summed it all up in long paragraphs that droned on; cheap tricks and diversions. 

The government were no help either; mostly bone idle well educated types who were short on real life experience. They tried to compensate by staring into screens were short films and skits gave representative performances of how life could or should be. Often they would scratch their heads in disbelief or on account of some infection or hideous skin disease. You could never tell. It was about this time that I began to fall in and out of tense, some past, some present, some indistinct to the point of being disturbing. When I say disturbing I mean not only for my self but for others in the vicinity. I tried to bottle it up but where does that ever get you? Being true to yourself, whilst remaining self indulgent and aloof does at least have the hallmark of honesty somewhere in it but your head still is like a kind of museum tableau displaying distorted and confused scenes from  your life. Unvisited.

Eventually all those things, the artefacts, will come to life, will populate, will talk back. At that point a little lapse of reason and a good dose of forgetfulness might prove useful. A strategy to escape the drivel. The people who talk in riddles are doing exactly that, that’s why you can’t trust them unless you happy to be good at solving riddles or role playing. I stand some distance from that type of behaviour for the sake of safety. I’d often say to myself, “this is no place for the likes of you” and be quite right. I just had an uneasy feeling inside that grew into something unintended like a bad lyric. I faced the fact that I wasn’t very good at things and that problem was compounded by the fact that I wasn’t sure what it was that I wasn’t sure I was good at. I began to compile a list.

My appetites turned, this way and that, fingers could never be successfully placed on feelings. I might have to get some supplies. Outside trumpets blared and seasonal songs were playing on some kind of perpetual loop and the excessive consumption of dairy produce and guinea fowl was promoted. We were at a loss of what to do next. Sometimes, sick of heart I’d just take all the text and convert it into Windings. Then using a magnifying glass and a set of tweezers I’d look at the patterns forming in the spaces. I’d look for repeats and clues, for messages and instructions. Occasionally I’d come across some useful string that would lead me on, tantalising and interesting for a few moments. Then it would all stop as suddenly as a bus full of wood shavings had collided with a wall built from feathers. When it became too much I retreated back into the familiar territory of my shell and my spelling mistakes. It was as if it wrote itself but I still had to use force just to cover the great white wilderness of paper and light that assaulted my field of vision. I tried to make lists, tried to fathom it. What was it that made life so dreadful, so complex and hard to avoid? The truth and that truth is out there someplace but nobody is looking.

I’d been away far too long, the place was no longer my home anymore. I was a stranger but the liquid familiarity that seeped from every image was comforting. Slowly the light grew, pale at first, indistinct across the woodland. A slow glow that was emerging from behind the grey shapes, touching them and changing them. The shapes and patterns emerged as the light, like some floating, shining treacle twisted and formed around them. Hard lines were drawn by invisible fingers, distinction has spread across the world like deep charcoal and white chalk, blurred and smeared in places and the sharp and crackling like spiky toffee and incredible spirograph and spiders web pieces of detail. The light drew across the dark and made sense and gave meaning as we looked on, jaws dropping and eyes widening. This was the place to be, here on the threshold to a new world only minutes old and still growing as we stared into it’s emerging and vital new complexity.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Nobody here is nice

You can call me a lick spittle but that will never stick
Mention anything you want but you better do it quick
There's a hundred ways I'm dead and a thousand ways I live
There's a recipe for hell and that's something that I could give

She said "you're the one I want "I said "I'm the one you need"
My feet never left the ground but I was travelling at speed
I wiped the insects from my face and we met up in a kiss
She said "you're still the one I want but I didn't think of this"

I saw the sun burn down just behind the refinery
The smoky tails and restless whales and that industrial scenery
There was moment when I flinched like footsteps across my grave
While  fossil fuel's fire up the sky artificial intelligence is safe

We cracked devices and then cracked walnuts with our arms
The depravity knew no bounds but they said they meant no harm
Some set alight to books  so we didn't ask for trouble
The barman whispered "drinks on the house" then please make mine a double

You can take the things you like and carry them outside
They won't amount to much and you'll be punished for your pride
Here's some humble evidence here's some terrible advice
Real men only growl and howl they don't use words like "nice"
Nobody here is nice.



Monday, 17 November 2014

in the blue and warm


i'd make you meatballs
and Mediterranean food
we'd sing like we were in an opera
and ride horseback in the nude
i'd make you famous
like a word or a restaurant
on film or stage in some poem
wrecked with mixed up words and meanings
our love would be beautifully deceiving
painted and made up like art and plaster
happy ever after

a pot at infinity


you know that feeling you get
when you're not quite depressed
somewhere not fully stressed
before the black crows and before the rainbows
appetite's shot and the coffee's too hot
nothing seems to be a prefect fit
and the mirror distorts every day with it's 
habitual lies and moaning
stomach groaning 
from sugar rush and digested mush
those who have and have not
push you
you just might take a pot
at infinity.

You know that hunger that comes
when you hang by your thumbs
all cymbals and drums
all sticks and bones
everybody else face down in their phones
face full of fruit and fly by the seat
of your pants like some bitch on heat
you consider your options
you toy with concoctions
and memory plays tricks
like a slowed down eater
who is and who is not
open to taking a pot
at infinity.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Facepunk

A story I once wrote


A story I wrote about the ghost of Thelonious Monk (who the spell checker calls him felonious, it may stick) was built around a picture now reproduced on the skin of a drum. A tight drum skin for hammering or thumping, tapping or just running the brushes over. Soft and low. A painted drum skin showing a dead jazz man. A story about a ghost. New York and the pale forgetfulness of black and white images, drained away with tired music and rapturous journalism, drugs and scandal. Spinning dark disks that create a sound scape fashioned and released new to a waiting world via the latest hi-fi speakers of the day. Deals and contracts, cigarettes and taxis, they wear us down brother. People who talk piffle, pseudo and false, sincere and loving. You can never tell, all the eyes are dark now. Gone back to shadow. All stammered out, broken eloquence and waiting for the latest new wave. It's a tough life being a ghost.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Inspired by Herzog

The small matter of what you should do with the rest of your life assuming that you in a real rather than hypothetical position and one which warrants some study and a little reflection. 

a) Looking out of the window may help.
b) Drink sugary beverages to stimulate the lazy brain.
c) Try on a hat.
d) Google profound words on the Internet and see where their meaning lead you.
e) Hold your breath.
f) Engage a fellow soul in some like minded conversation.
g) Study insects, are they busy?
h) Prepare a dossier containing what you consider to be solid facts.
i) Share some cinematic experience, comment on the highs and lows.
j) You can assume that there is no number 10.




Thursday, 18 September 2014

And so it was

And so I was that the body of the woman found floating face down in the lake was traced back to the incident in which the owner of the black sedan had discharged the shotgun into the air and so killed two geese and wounded the best cow belonging to the irritable old  farmer who had just succeeded in capturing the escaping lion that had been in hiding in the barn following the tragic collision between the circus train and the school bus which thankfully was empty (save for the now badly injured driver) as all the children had alighted in order to attend the annual bread-baking and hog-roasting picnic that took place down by the river where there had once been a sighting of a pike so huge that it was rumoured to have been able to slice a man in half so large were it's jaws and so evil was it's nature that it would from time to time and completely without warning attack the boats of the fishermen who dared to drift out onto the surface of the deep pond where it was also rumoured a great and wonderful treasure had once been lost as the result of poor seamanship and a sudden spell of unexpectedly bad weather that had raced across the surface of the water like the cork from a champagne bottle and caused every vessel to rock and roll and had even shattered and blown out the windows of the country club and bar down by the southern tip of the shore side where every so often young couples would gather in order to tie a blue or a green or maybe even a yellow ribbon around a tree trunk  that was covered in old pennies that had been placed there during the years of the plague by young children and superstitious old folks who had made wishes and from time to time dream all sorts of strange dreams about a future in which there were none of the troubles that currently dog us all because the land was lit brightly with constantly changing coloured lanterns instead of some poor and unreliable sun that might run out of energy any day and mind expanding drugs were free for all in the water supply and their constant consumption and embitterment created a state of perpetual happiness and hope which rained down upon one and all despite the fact that none of these things wee reflected in their daily lives because around here and I don't know if you've noticed this there always seemed to be a serious of serious crimes that were both committed and unsolved and when I say that I am of course referring to that poor woman who was found floating face down in the lake who was traced back to the incident in which the owner of the black sedan had discharged the shotgun into the air and so killed two geese and wounded the best cow belonging to the irritable old  farmer who had just succeeded in capturing the escaping lion that had been in hiding in the barn following the tragic collision between the circus train and the school bus which thankfully was empty (save for the now badly injured driver) as all the children had alighted in order to attend the annual bread-baking and hog-roasting picnic that took place down by the river where there had once been a sighting of a pike so huge that it was rumoured to have been able to slice a man in half so large were it's jaws and so evil was it's nature that it would from time to time and completely without warning attack the boats of the fishermen who dared to drift out onto the surface of the deep pond where it was also rumoured a great and wonderful treasure had once been lost as the result of poor seamanship and a sudden spell of unexpectedly bad weather that had raced across the surface of the water like the cork from a champagne bottle and caused every vessel to rock and roll and had even shattered and blown out the windows of the country club and bar down by the southern tip of the shore side where every so often young couples would gather in order to tie a blue or a green or maybe even a yellow ribbon around a tree trunk  that was covered in old pennies that had been placed there during the years of the plague by young children and superstitious old folks who had made wishes and from time to time dream all sorts of strange dreams about a future in which there were none of the troubles that currently dog us all because the land was lit brightly with constantly changing coloured lanterns instead of some poor and unreliable sun that might run out of energy any day and mind expanding drugs were free for all in the water supply and their constant consumption and embitterment created a state of perpetual happiness and hope which rained down upon one and all despite the fact that none of these things wee reflected in their daily lives because around here and I don't know if you've noticed this there always seemed to be a serious of serious crimes that were both committed and unsolved and when I say that I am of course referring to that poor woman who was found floating face down in the lake who was...


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Cat food omelette #2


I seem to have gone on for most of July and much of August, the long summer months in some sort of denial of writing or producing or creating anything other than those bad, half formed early morning ideas you get (or the drunken ones you get and quickly forget). Yes that is how it has been, unforgivable and reprehensible...but fun, followed by those three pretentious and hopefully meaningful full stops. You see I've been away, in France, in England, here and there. I've been lazy too and too lazy, obstinate, preoccupied and busy with things that are counter productive. The stats have all of course gone haywire, history has repeated and I've slept away the rain, fog and misty days in a haze of, well just about nothing. Excuse me please.

Obvious things from elsewhere  that I cannot fathom No1: 

"If you really want your life to make sense, your bathroom to smell sweet, to be free from pungent human  odours and to deeply relax and revive all those lost souls who may from time to time pass through then don't hold back. Don't restrain yourself, invent and improvise. Cast away the preconceived ideas about cats, cat food, egg poisoning, candles and extraneous shit like that. There is a bright and enlightening future out there, way beyond September 18th, the blue horizon, the general erection and existential mind games. Dip your Yankee Candle Coconut Cake in an empty feline food container and by whatever sane and safe means you can muster let it burn...real slow and strong. The universe can wait, around here we play long games."

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Ramblin'


Burning the midnight lamp. Actually the one thirty lamp, midnight was a long time ago. Here's what the wee, small hours look and feel like. All is blurred at the edges, unfocused and grey. The head feels blocked up, the mind is swimming in the treacle of semi-solid thought. Ideas are stuck in some other far away place and it's all about minor diversions and running down the cruel face of the clock. This is the no man's land of time. No sleep is allowed or permissible, I'm on watch, programmed and committed to stay awake for the ringing of a phone, the blip of some unexpected message or email, a flash of approaching car lights in the dark that might shake or rattle my mind from it's low level of activity.

Night time is tough. You sense the heavy sleep everyone else is enjoying, their distant rollings and snoring. The comfort you are deprived. Sitting in a half, artificial light, looking across and seeing only dark shapes. Keeping alert and staying awake. I could get up out of the chair, make coffee, return and sip it slowly. Elevate that most mundane of things into some special, lone pleasure, an exaggerated high, sipping warm water with a coffee flavour. Somehow that might help the time to pass and might colour and enhance these stalling thought processes. Well it might but I cant be bothered. That's the strange thing, the reach for even a tiny spec of pleasure hardly seems worth it. The effort will own drain the feeble battery and rewards will be fleeing and by the time I sit down again gone. I wont bother.

Neither will I explore the news websites that at this time sit in some nether region between today's and yesterday's news. Reports die back, writers might reflect or review in these lonely hours but they will not publish until their audience starts to stir. The early stories of celebrity clubbers or attacks or sensational tit bits must wait until the phones and devices click alive. The wait until the readers are in a fit state to gawp at the stories and be bemused and enticed by the nearby adverts and product messages. This isn't the time, the sleepers are flat, alone, in pairs, otherwise, asleep and dreaming only of their next moment of exploitation and driven direction.

That poor stream of near drivel killed fifteen minutes, they'll never return nor will I miss them or call them back. They are night time moments. Cheap and devoid of value, passed over by sunny days and bright chattering times, woozy intense pleasures, intimate and coloured couplings and blurs. Here's the time when time really comes alive, when life is lived and not observed as some dead beast or passing cloud. Life is day and light, death is the dark, still and dreamlessly enduring. My time comes with the sunrise. Here's man's natural state, set in crispy breakfast and shining orange juice moments and spectrums that split and rejoin as the rays of a new day pass across and through glass and curtains to warm the world. Those times are a whole night time away. That's the dull dark for you, a pale shadow of life, a secret time when deals are done in the subconscious and the great mystery of who we might be and what thoughts we file and keep or discard swirl in the deep places. We shut these moments away and hide in our sleep. Only I seem to be offering up some temporary and short lived resistance but sleep knows that wont last, it never does. I will capitulate, my head will drop and the ground will rush towards me. 

I read about a car that had been driven over a cliff; reported by a foreign tourist it said. There was a person onboard, the driver I presume. It sailed over the cliff, two hundred feet down, onto rocks, crashing into the sea. The emergency services were duly called and could make little of it. The tide was rising and quickly covered the wreckage. There was somebody inside, dead and still in that crushed metal space, battered and drowned by their deliberate act. Over the edge and into the uncaring waves, broken and rattled to pieces. Birds wheeled around, would be rescuers stood and watched but were powerless. Some soul moved way across a thousand boundaries in that anonymous act. Pressed the pedal and kept the eyes closed, all over in seconds with the silence of the drop and thud of the rocky, watery impact. The untold story, assumed and made up in the many minds that come running and stand on the edge of some other's tragic decision. When the conditions are right a boat will launch or a helicopter will fly. Brave men will investigate and prod at the bear facts for some explanation. Records will be searched and phone calls made, visits will take place. In the deep cold of the night or dawn's chilly beginning someone will hear and feel the bitter shock. The car, the cliff, the sea and the dead moment, all together in the look and the words of a stranger on the doorstep. That is the end of that.

I back away from this line of thinking, I cant explain why I retained that story and not a thousand others, old news about attacks and rockets, dull politicians, breaking scandals, diseases and sporting moments, always the sporting moments. They rise like some strange scum and breed and entice. We, bereft of other ideas take them on, the results and performances and give them a meaning they cannot deserve. Sponsors pay out and gloat, the public chew and spit and the performances build and fade, like art exhibitions or birthdays, paperbacks and background music, over and spent before you know it. Here in the slow cold of the early morning it makes little sense and that it makes little sense hardly matters. That, seems to be the way of most things, not making sense at all. That and seeing the battery fall to 89%, hardly cause for panic but maybe a signal to take some kind of break. It's only July after all.

So there's this whole unthinkable thing, somebody doing something so wrong for them, so out of character. You couldn't explain it or see it coming, it was a terrible shock, a surprise. The person who took their life, who tore themselves away, driving over the cliff and down to answer their calling for oblivion. They did that and we never knew it was in them. It was a black dog, grinning and slobbering their in the passenger seat, stupid and excited as only a dog can be. Then tilted and pushed apart by the forces as they sailed into space, that person and all their black dog or burdens and common experiences, prisoners of gravity like me and you and everybody, unclipping the seat belt and pushing back the feeble puffs of the airbags. Futile explosions in the high speed drop, quick and deadly, over in a crumpled flash. It was all so predictable and all so unexpected and the sleep never came and the time passed more quickly than I'd have believed. So I awoke without ever having been asleep, I felt indestructible, confident and bright; like Margaret Thatcher.

It seems now that I was desperate to fill the space, I'd have said anything, any bullshit, just to get me in there. There to the end of the piece. I scratch my head and wonder what it is I must do, wonder what it is I don't have, wonder where I might get it and how once I get it how I might use it. So I'm this outsider who because of numerous flaws and defects, lack of drive or lack of...a long list of things cannot get the breaks, cannot work or function. I'm stuck in the limbo of obscurity and nothingness. A lifetime tourist, somewhere on the bus but not making an impact, not creating an impression, fodder but not substantial fodder. Here and looked over but not quite registering, here but not quite here. Little do they know how desperate I am, or was, to fill that white, clean and irritating space. The place that I laid some claim to (or so I said), the space that other people chose but didn't quite get to. It was always out of reach. So I stand by as the waters lap around my feet, as the the tide slowly rises. I look down and witness the floating and the moving, bubbles and froth. The white space is still there, the space is attractive, enticing even but the cool, clean water is better for me. Really you just need to get out and do something.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Normal love

Somebody says “you've lost weight,” and you're not quite sure if it's a compliment or an accusation. Then your wife hears the comment and looks across accusingly, as if she knew all along about some dark secret. How seriously ill you really are, how you are in denial and refuse to get a check up and so acknowledge your terrible condition. Then of course it may be a compliment, you've been working out, cycling and taking the stairs, eating less crap, respecting your body an so on. Who would ever believe such things? So the statement hangs there, floating in some twilight place, unable to be taken forward but still living and breathing in a hopeless state of purgatory. The lost weight that cannot quite be explained by your current known lifestyle choices. Will anything be said about better fitting, better quality clothes, your posture or demeanour, the fact that your just sitting up straight and smiling? I don't know. 

“You've lost weight” becomes a criminal sentence, a judgement on your behaviour and habits because clearly they make no sense because right now, in this room, nobody can quite align your physical appearance with the person that they thought you were. You are a misfit and a fraud, some shadowy figure who has dealt in some black and Devilish secret deal and rendered yourself, just for the moment, just in this instant, as a thinner, falser, less passable version of yourself. Perhaps, in the light of this you should just go ahead with new and radical looks; get those neck and face tattoos, shave your head, get piercings, have that gender reassignment surgery you always promised yourself in later life, have a tummy tuck or a gastric band, become a heroin addict, join UKIP, an irritating lung removed or getting a nose job. 

All of these might be more acceptable than appearing to be a little more slender which, a result has propelled you out there into deep and misunderstood space and into oblivion. Am I any thinner? To be honest I don't know, I don't even know what weight I should be. If I look at myself in the mirror out the shower I look the same. I have a paunch, I have a gut, a small one anyway and nothing to worry about. I just eat carefully and I do take a mix of regular and occasional vigorous exercise and I fidget but I'm fine, I'm OK, I suffer an innate and unshakable sense of my own strength and well being. I refuse to be ill, overweight or underweight. I make these choices but avoid all the factual baggage, all the reality, notes and regimes. I am a pillar of self awareness and luck, genetic error and some kind of ongoing applied judgement. All these things work, they come together. They work for me.  

So I'm me, fat or thin me, normal, plump or skinny me. You see it's all in the eye of the beholder and those beholder's eyes do often play tricks and the tricks are complicated by the tongue and the brain and the emotions and drivers that compete and criticise and compliment. People are looking, people are looking out for me and you all the time. They see us in our layers and out of them. They want to see how you're measuring up or if you're not and that's fine but as for me, well I'm moving. I'm moving very quickly in my own personal path, I've established a trajectory, a calculation I made, verified and acted upon. Now I'm accelerating, shifting through the spaces high above, across and through all the words and well meant or casual and cruel observations. It's confusing at times and lonely but it's a direction.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Murder


I may have murdered a man on Google Street View, outside of a stranger's home, on a street I don’t quite know, as unfamiliar cars passed by and fellow pedestrians ignored us; but it was done in broad daylight. All unfamiliar except for the all seeing eye of the Google VW Beetle with all that revolving apparatus on the roof. There am I, a media star. Blood on my hands and blood on the street, we left a deep pool I had to step over or was that just a trick of the light? Perhaps there's a footprint. Incriminating evidence, circumstances and complicated data gathering equipment. Perhaps it's all just make believe but who believes in make believe? The street they seem to believe they own, all public space is gobbled up and shared, a view now captured along with me and my victim. Rendered and spun into a mix of the truth, the unrecognisable and the day itself. The hour, minute and second with digital timestamp. My motives remain unrecorded, they can't get inside my head, yet. My crime, a sorry sight that will live on in countless viewings and scattered, fiddling searches, on phones and screens. Most likely largely ignored or just filed under those WTF comments. “Some dead guy.” “Some other guy standing.” “It looks fake to me.” “He looks guilty.” “I'm sure he did it.” “Oh, I heard about this.” “It made the Daily Mail and Reddit.” “What business was it they were promoting?” “Where is that place anyway?” “Next shot will have a dog on skateboard or some party goer struggling home wearing a horse's head and no pants.” “I'm not sorry for him.” “Set up.”

It was a sunny day then, when they stole my image and hijacked my soul in that drive-by way that is neither being witness or following a conscience. Just the relentless capturing of locations and details with no intervention or judgement calls. There's no reverse key or rewind. Why edit out the shit anyway? Why bother about what's there? It is what it is, we made a cosmic tattoo that loops around the sun and everything else in 365 days but never gets dizzy. Perhaps I should hide behind a tree or a rubbish bin. Turn and walk in the opposite direction. Pull my shirt over my head. When the officers of the law come in a month's time what will they find? I hid the body, I put whee only a drone would find it and they're not ready yet. We still have some use for the humans. They can search, they can film and of course they can just get on and kill one another. That's all very uncivilised, just what we hoped for.

I should tell you all about my motive, what led me here. Those events, those unlikely circumstances, what he did to deserve it. What he said and stole. What I lost and didn't have. Why they drove me here and made me do it. Why I hurt so much, my humiliation, my loss. I heard the words inside my head, I couldn't do anything to stop it. They just kept talking and then it clicked on me. Almost an innocent man, almost but for one rash action, almost innocent. That camera isn't good enough to catch the pain etched on my face like laser surgery, no lines or signs. And that black, dense mass in my heart is outside of the spectrum of the polished lens. A heart that colour isn't even a colour. That's what we murders know that the rest of you don't. How fucking black it all is and how badly represented we all feel by ourselves. Even when we're stuck out there, hung up in a real estate display or on the edge of a pamphlet photo. The walking ghost of Street View dispatches another body to the other place where even the www wont easily reach.

There's no sensation of speed, travel or movement. We freeze in the pane, on your screen, caught in the act. Static in a sickly acceptance that petty crime will come along, repeat and, despite the politician's good words and the promises of funding, won't go. So let's just record the footprints on the sound stage, the scenery and the back lot landscapes. They'll easily mask all that social disquiet, the rumblings.  Let the bad behaviour play and turn viral, it doesn't matter so long as you can find your way out, or the plumber, or that rental bargain and as for the story of the murder? Well that just happens in other people's families and other peoples lives. Doesn't it?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Life before death


“We have almost no consideration for profit and that is probably why we are highly profitable. You can put that theory right into your corporate pipe and then smoke it. Some. In fact it's not even a fuckn' theory, it's a fact and that's why I've a Maserati parked outside the building doorway right now and for all I know I may have left the key in the ignition and the motor running. Why don't you go out and just grab yourself a free ride and see how far you can get? And while your doing that I'll have another glass of this fine French Brandy or maybe suck on a Cuban cigar. You see that's rock and roll and that's money.”

“ The thing about art is that it doesn't really exist, it's just stuff brought together, or other stuff taken apart and then along comes somebody and stands it up. Well once it's standing up, there in the public domain you have three choices really. You can ignore it, walk by and just deny it's there altogether, show it an unmeasured level of indifference. It'll fade away, into the background, some geeks might like it, there will income, low rents and crumbs from providers, recycling values, that's about it. Obscurity has it's appeal but it doesn't make you any real money.”

“You can hate it, throw things at it, criticize it, burn it down, run it out of town as the most dangerous thing you every seen, you could just say it's just a piece of talentless shit. There's a lot of it about. You might, if you've got some history get valuable publicity and that's ok, most likely you'll just be seen as a bad investment and then you'll be ostracised. Believe me to be ignored is worse than anything, worse than bullying or violence, but that's where you end. I reckon you get three chances, blow all three, they hate you three times in a row, three turkeys, three strikes and you're so far out you're not even in the same country anymore. That bad. End of that story.”

“But the third way is that for some inexplicable reason (or not) you really like it and they like it, it's brilliant. It's special and unique and work of certain genius and what's more it may well have some commercial value. It's worth money. Who'd have thought that the dumb ass idea of yours mister/miss writer, artist, poet, musician etc. would be worth something? Next thing you know big boys like Apple or Samsung or Ford or Exon want to give you support in your venture, use your sweet image, your sound, your association, you can smile all the way up there on the media free ride. They just come along and shovel you right up like you landed on the street from the ass of a horse and now they want to sprinkle you amongst the roses where they think you'll do them some good.”

“So what have you got to show me?” I sat down in front of his desk, laid back a bit on the chair and put both of my feet on his desktop edge and smiled. He grinned back and nodded. I grinned wider. We were going somewhere now. I took an envelope from my inside pocket, removed my feet from the desk and adopted a more gracious position as I handed it to him. He smiled and ripped it open. There was a folded note inside and a memory stick. The stick fell as he tore the envelope and landed on the desktop with a clatter.

“It's all you really need,” I said. “This is the work you've waited on. Push it forward the right way, bearing in mind profit isn't everything and...we'll make a tidy sum.” I sat back and produced my most winning, confident smile yet. Or so I thought. Ideas have value, even bad ideas, even good ideas badly executed and if he thought that it was all some kind of saleable art then I wasn't going to argue. We'll be dead a long time while the others discuss, write books and film documentaries about  wether or not it all was what we said it was. History isn't a bother to me, I'm content to help make it happen  because I know I won't have to live through it. That's some one else’s' problem.

“Damian Hirst designs a block of apartments, condos, whatever you want to call it, it's a holistic art and lifestyle project. We build it in Los Angeles, that's the first. He designs them inside and out, nobody can change things once they've signed up to our management scheme but they are there, living, breathing, sleeping and fucking in an appreciating artwork that's their home. Their piece of action, their share of the prestige, their investment or pension plan or whatever. Then we build another block in Miami, in Paris or in London, in Sydney. Wherever, but up to a limit...and we control all the business, all the ins and outs, all the transactions and all the media interest. The money will be coming out of all our ears. You need to phone this number.”

He read the note and put the stick into a laptop then dialled the number. I zoned out, my part was over for now. I stood and looked out of the window. I was in a dream. So I watched as the light began to dim, the sky was changing, the clouds running and stumbling, fading into the east as quickly as they were replenished from the west taken back up to some other bulbous, fattened place of fury. Soon the heavy air released the rain and the ground breathed in. I wanted to run out and get myself wet, soak my shirt, stick out my tongue and hold my head back. Do a kind of chicken dance to celebrate another day of rain. I smiled inside myself, I chose not to give anything away. Tomorrow would do, that's a different day and more my day. This day is too damp, too heavy for a show of emotion or uncontrolled happiness. This was all about art after all.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Dark Materials


"I like it in the dark. It stays dark for long periods, now the power has been cut, now the candles are burning low and petering out. Here I am, in a misty, musty gloom, fed up with politicians and people saying one thing and thinking another, doing one thing and believing another, voting for things they neither understand nor believe and stuck in systems and set ups that have been proven to fail time and time again. So now I'm here, where I've always been, in a grey place. I look down at my hands, rough and dirty, fingernails broken, grim and dirt in them, pitted and grained. I rub the dry palms together, wearing through the skin, the hard working skin, the tough and worn skin. The hands of a worker. Now I'm at rest, sitting on a wooden box, staring into the dark and thinking dark thoughts with clear edges. It's the clear edges that define the problem, finding and setting limits. Mine are moving, I'm on a journey, I'm an explorer.

My eyes have become accustomed to the light, I see further but not far. My horizon is limited, I pace around the interior of the house, now the world is bigger but never big. I never wanted a big world. All I wanted was enough of a world to explore. One without people and disturbance and those mas of ideas that come through the letterbox on flyers, pamphlets, propaganda, news sheets and circular letters. I see them and the complex systems they purport to represent, the ideas they push, the interaction they call for but these things I ignore. I ignore then like the knocks on the door, the silent pushes on the dumb doorbell, the voices, pointed and filtered through the letterbox. That split little portal into daylight, bright stabs that lead outside to cash machines and buses, trampled leaves and rainy conversations. The occasional twilight run to the corner shop, foraging supplies and holding up activity. Maybe searching  further afield to replenish tools and materials, skip diving or picking things up. I need the memory the outside to dig out the inside. Digging out the inside and putting it outside. I always found places, places are everywhere if you only look.

Then there's my downward trajectory. My return to the swamp and the evolutionary source, into the black and crawling, crawling through the chambers and constructions. Deconstructing and breaking through. I have this idea of where I'm going, this ideal that forms in my head, my progression down into the bowels and the source. Chasing drips and rivers, breathing bad air, foul and reeking, hot and sticky like some escaping prisoner, unsure of the root to some final freedom. That was what I wanted, that's what I'm still trying to find down there. 

Now I'm in a rest period. My note book and pencil lines define the day. Tear up the time into manageable bundles, into pieces of work and pieces of rest, pieces of reflection and pieces of sleep. I defy the world in this with my energy and hygiene, with my grand design and my scheme, my solitude and silence and my grim determination. You could say that I was living the dream, my dream, perhaps your nightmare, perhaps your curious indulgence. In this project my superiority is clear, my attack is to the underbelly, the bottom to the top, sailing in my muddy sea, caked in the hard waves and beyond the fickle weather. I am no slave but I work as if enslaved. That's all part of the twist and the pleasure. 

So you have me, you see me, but you don't. One day they'll bring me out in a coffin, or dirty like a dead dog from the gutter on an ambulance stretcher. Glenn Miller or Count Basie will play in the background as the neighbours look on, nodding and saying “well I never”, or just whispering, hands across their treacherous mouths. That was always what they did. My body, now dead with dirty nails and blood dried across my forehead covered in a sheet or zipped in a bag like a blitz victim or a battlefield casualty. It will all be seen as as some kind of unexplained, inexplicable mystery. One for the files and the college courses and a para or two in the Daily Mail. Then whisked away down the damp streets for the autonomy and ambiguity of the morgue and the final fire. Where might they scatter me or bury me deep? I should write down my wishes. Of course I wont care and I don’t care, my soul has passed on, ranging back and forth but mostly down, down in those tunnels. Care is for the weak and the living.

Your houses will slowly crumble, your streets they crack and subside. Doors no longer fit and windows wont close. The gutters leak and there are cracks, slim and unnoticed then great and yawning. Then the masonry starts to fall, trees bend and old people trip on the pavement cracks and the distorted kerbs. I did it all. I built my empire, my tunnel kingdom, under your home, your English castles. I tore away God's good earth with my bare hands and stolen shovels. I propped it up with rotten timber and broken furniture. An earthquake sitting inside a time bomb. A challenge for all the fine engineers with their degrees and their concrete pouring techniques. We'll see how quickly and how costly it is to fill my underground honeycomb. There will be blood and money, for miles in all directions. North, south, east and west. You see I am that thing...

I am that modern phenomenon, recognised, the weirdo, that thing you dread. You up there, paying your stupid mortgage every month, struggling to cope, keeping the faith and walking in the light. I was there, under your very feet, under your kitchen and living room, digging away beneath your possessions, your investments and all you hold dear. The subliminal secret warrior and terrorist staring up through the cracks in the floorboard. The dirty old bogeyman looking up your wife's skirt and giggling at your stupid little conversations. I was so inferior I just had to explore and travel the full spectrum to turn out so superior. As you shall all see. Meet me, see my handiwork, fifty years effort, sweat and hard labour for  the Mole Man of De Beauvoir Town."

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Angel of the white Audi

And it came to pass that the Angel of the Lord appeared to me in a fiery and unexpected dream. I woke startled and a bit sweaty and confused. The angel had the head of a fox, the eyes of a cucumber, the ears of a buffalo, the heart and stomach of a feeble woman and a voice like silvery running water flowing down the golden valley of bronze dreams beside the iron town of the wooden woods next to the lake of pure crystal glass rendered by Disney's best. Then the angel spoke and I heard a voice that was like blue milk and Krispy-Kreme donuts mixed up in a blender with added jam, clotted cream and strawberries laced with fine brandy and some solid and sharp, dark chocolate chips. 

As I heard the sweet voice booming out like the horn of an angry Italian motor scooter I fell to my knees and cried, “Lord I am not worthy of these sights and sounds or the rather unusual smell that I'm getting a bit of a hint of. Yes I'm not worthy to bathe in this strangely eerie supernatural light and the whole wing flapping thing that's going on there in the back ground. In a nutshell I'm back to saying I'm not particularly worthy. Have you considered nipping out, down the street and checking if there are any more worthy types; I 'd suggest you try the bigger houses, there's probably a better class of person in there. I say that based on all the social politics and red top journalism that I've been subjected to in my short and so far uneventful life, nothing to do with any of your ideas or pronouncements...Lord.”

The Angel of the Lord just looked at me, I sensed a bit of disappointment as he placed his finger onto his lips as if to indicate that I should at this point shut up, so I did. He stepped forward and cleared his throat. I swallowed heavily and stepped back, kind of of trying to acknowledge the angel's obvious need for a bit of decent space in which to work. Ahem. Space to perform is important, you have to own it.

“You.” he was addressing me, that was clear, the other people, the classy ones were not going to get this message, just me. “I have a message for you and for all mankind (in a way). A message from the fictional heart of the universe or the virtual and vague Ancient of Days. A message that has been there since quite early on in the dawn of time, before breakfast anyway and that solemn and serious message is for your ears alone.”

I'm getting it now, for once it's all down to me, the chosen one, the vessel, the reliable recipient of this vital, divine message. This is no time to screw up so I'd better listen quite carefully. Check: eyes engaged. Check: not about to wander into some day dream. Check: not bursting for a pee or anything. Check: nothing distracting stuck in my teeth and no trapped wind that's making me feel a bit uncomfortable. “Ok.” I say. “Good to go with the whole message thing, thank you, your highness.”

“Fine,” began the angel, breathing in and nodding deliberately, “here is my grave and most serious message to you, listen up. Ahem. It has been noticed by the most omnipotent and very clever God of the entire universe that you are driving around in a rather shabby looking Volvo that does neither your public or self image any good. To be honest (and that is something that God does like to work on and also to emphasise in conversation) it looks like shit and so do you. Nobody is going to take you seriously driving around in that thing like some old git headed for his allotment. You are doing yourself down and your poor wife is at her wits end with the pain and embarrassment of having to ride shotgun in that heap. OK, I know you'll say that it's pretty reliable and that you've just had the timing belt done and shit like that but...that's just not good enough. You need an upgrade. Badly.”

“Lord, I know I've sinned and fucked up a bit, but I though that, for the sake of the planet (your planet?) I was kind of helping by a) not being greedy, b) not being materialistic and c) getting good value for money So that's me being thrifty, by running the old bean into the deck on a tight budget. Are you telling me that my humble and unassuming strategy for personal transport isn't what you'd wish it to be?” The angel breathed deeply, forcing a sigh and rolling his eyes, (didn't expect that really, as they are immortal and stuff like that. How does breathing work for angels in space and time and flying up high? Rolling the eyes in an over dramatic way is also a bit gay really).

“Look, I'm just delivering a pretty clear and simple message. It's my job and I'm not here to counsel you on the daft and complicated ideas you have rolling around in your head like a set of broken ball bearings needing a good grinding, a shot of grease and sorted out into their correct sizes with a pair of rusty tweezers. The Lord has spoken; well he is now via me and I am relaying his message and his message to you, squint built little minion and unloveable lump is...get yourself a white Audi. Like the one that one of those blessed Pope fellows might buy himself if he was an ordinary bloke or a salesman or something.” At that shattering news I fell to my knees. Limp and shattered.

“But Lord/Angel/Supreme Being, I cannot do such a thing. The white Audi is evil incarnate (or so I have been taught but the leaders, elders and betters of the Church of the Broken Hearted and Mother Mary Doll). A great grinning, extravagant (but classy and reliable) form of transport that only the devil himself or a close member of his family might ever drive upon the public highway. Think of the panic, despair and fear that the sight of a white  Audi in a rear view mirror has upon a poor, hapless and dimwitted Volvo driver such as I?” I allowed the tears to flow and went with them, down, out and into my own familiar  and dark place of comfort and solitude. A safe place or so it seemed. I rolled on the floor and ended, after a few spasms in the foetal position,eyes closed tight.

“Enough of the self pity and self deprecation. Get yourself a backbone and a bank-loan, get yourself a purpose and point. Do not however get yourself a porpoise and a joint. God never tells his flock of human and disobedient dummies stuff like that, no. Just get a white Audi and have done with it. Search Auto Trader now within a radius of no more than 20 miles and be prepared to pay no more than £4k. Oh, and  make sure that if it's done more than 70,000, which it certainly will have done at that money, that it's got a recently renewed timing belt. Trade only no private sales and make sure they throw in a bit of warranty. No dogs please and try to get a non-smoker. Thus says the Lord.”

“Ok, got that.”


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Grandfather




"So a few days after my grandfather died we discovered this old, unrestored Maserati in his garage. I'm not sure if we'll ever know the true story, all the paperwork is missing, we just have the raw car. Dates back to the mid sixties said a neighbour but he'd never seen it run, so he said. We believe that.When I say we I guess I mean me, my sister isn't really bothered about it but because of the way his estate has been split we know 50% each. Maybe I should work out a trade, maybe. I was considering poison but that's a bit extreme and we get along pretty well. I think I'll do the right thing and offer her $500 for her share, that and the coffee maker and the enamel pin badges that look like they came from the Far East. That should do it. Anybody know a good mechanic around here?"

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Friends etc.


“We hadn't really ever believed that the long awaited friends reunion would ever take place. The prospect, ten years and more after the plot device of divorce, of  them getting together to gather up the loose ends or develop the lifelong storyline and tale  telling was just too remote. We'd allowed them into our lives, those contrived but lovable characters, them with their crazy and unrealistic behaviour, all those shared moments of comedy, pathos and irony, the parade of in-jokes and clever quips, the procession of completely unlikely situations and funny coincidences played out before an audience ever ready to laugh and lap up each well rehearsed and performed set piece. It was a lifestyle choice, we saw them and mirrored all we could, hairstyles and mannerisms, endless coffee mugs, polystyrene cups, cookies and muffins, cliches and appreciation. We built our own little tributes and tableaux, we lived vicariously through these characters, uptown, downtown, adopted into that dysfunctional and unlikely combination of families as they walked around in wide open dramatic spaces holding loud two person conversations whilst the the rest of the room ignored them as it rolled on. Realism was conveniently suspended for so long and in so many locations. None of that,  either in production values or in belief really mattered, we were spellbound and addicted. We were all in there as willing victims bought into spending time in this ideal world were happy endings eventually came round after soft struggles, foot stomping petulance or romantic happenstance. There were no nasty people, just jerks and little bullies, things to be brushed off and dealt with and money and bills and the big bad world are alluded to but never really part of the spoiling of plot as we bathed in the warm escapism of each unlikely episode. For a while I loved the mythology, the sense of being part of something but I also was uncomfortable, like I'd been taken over or violated. You felt it too, I'm sure you said as much, perhaps I misheard. So it's over, it's gone, life in a modern day  religious cult has ended and we're excommunicated, hardly fair on you I know. It was me all along, I brought the house down on us brick by brick, you were as much of a victim as they were but I didn't really mean any of it, I didn't intend to poison the communion wine or taint that bread but I did. What's done is done. I'll make a clean and clear confession to the authorities, you'll be fine, they'll be here some and so will the Sunday papers. Friends? Who needs them?”

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

I observe

Life isn't such a bleak thing at all, it's quite the opposite. Don't believe everything they tell you. Some people never get that, they remain locked in the perpetual cycles of the lowest levels of existence, grumbling like itchy volcanoes. I was thinking these thoughts and also considering a packet of crisps and some oatmeal oatcake cookie things (with dips). The question was/is what to eat first, was there an appropriate order or ranking for these two foods that I should honour or succumb to. What did convention demand and was there any digestive type of advice I should consider? I briefly googled but all that came up was Steve Marriot's life story and various odd and unrelated articles about what music really consisted of. That forced me to turn back to the BBC but the news there was all too real and repetitive. I decided that hunger had placed me in some weakened state where my powers of decision making were diluted, I might be confused as if caught up in some prelude to old age and the eccentric behaviours that might accompany that segment of existence. Old age and making decisions didn't seem to go together so I decided to pull myself together and eat nothing right now and just go out.

While outside I observed a pair of Oystercatchers. They were my favourite bird, oddly elegant but with a cartoon look and comical gait and some almost human glint in their little eyes. Black and white and orange with staccato movements and sudden bizarre little flourishes of behaviour, quirky and out of this world, perhaps having stumbled into our universe from another parallel one where birds rule. They seemed intelligent and purposeful as they pecked and explored high up on foreshore. A long way from the high water mark and any actual naturally occurring oysters. Perhaps they'd gone off their food or were they just searching the whole area for an item that had been lost or misplaced? I'll never know but I did start to think they might not be quite as intelligent as I first though, there, wandering about pecking at pebbles so far from any seafood. I returned home an just ate the crisps and then the oatcakes. Seeing the bird's lack of direction and purpose had given me some.

I don't know the name of it but that feeling you get, that anxious and driven thing, when all you want is for the events and commitments that are pressing down on you, the things that are “must do” not “might do” or “could do” but “must fucking well do”, those things you want to happen as soon as possible, for them to be over. That feeling  of bringing on the event, peddling time towards you in some blur of quick execution. They are there, bearing on you like an express train and like a tidal wave. You're braced and ready for the impact, tight and tense for the landing of the killer punch and the weighing up of your chances of survival. The gamble and the uncertainty, like pulling off a bank robbery or some violent crime, successful and undetected and getting it away with it. Phew. 

How much time is there before the next enjoyable thing comes along? That was always my question. My long but short and to the point question. When can I expect pleasure  next and in whatever form? And it has to be soon. It could be simple enough, a smile, a banana, punctuation, a story told, whisky, a song on the radio, sunlight flickering through the blinds, a touch of the hand, a whole film lasting 90 minutes or more, a stranger visiting, silence or surprise. I could have carried on; my enjoyable things formed up into a list was a long list. There was a whole world of enjoyable things and I had only really named a few. It then occurred to be that just making lists was enjoyable, just naming and sorting good things and putting them in order, even a random order was good. Satisfaction was pleasure and for the most part, for me it was found in very simple, straightforward, everyday things. I'd no idea how that had come to be. I even liked the word thing with all it's meaningless, solid and abstract possibilities; lists of things. Why was it that I was so easily pleased? Perhaps I was some kind of simpleton, simple soul, easy pleased idiot. Perhaps I just didn't care. Unsophisticated and lacking in complexity and depth, childish and naive, eager to accept whatever came my way and so totally predictable. Happy when the clouds moved, the rain pattered, the sun broke through or the fog rolled it. Easy, cheap happiness, you cant buy it. Soon, any moment, soon, it would be time to look out of the window again.


Monday, 28 April 2014

True wisdom


Kim Jong-un's note takers just write gibberish for effect. To make the not so great man look greater, to perpetuate the myth that he is forever producing wise quips and pointers, a flow of original ideas, good practise and inspirational thinking that, for the greater good of the Korean people and the wider world must not be lost. He really knows how to do things. Just hold a mirror to his lips to see if he actually breathes, he may be dead or a machine. I just about know how to make a passable cup of coffee, where to look on Autotrader and how to unwrap a McVities Digestive Medley biscuit. I know about snacks and quality time on a laptop or the phone. Precious moments of self indulgence when nothing really happens other than the ritualistic wasting of that most precious but undervalued item, time. Time to yourself, snooze time or reading or dreaming time. Time perhaps to remove you shoes and try to tickle your own feet, hot and tired as they probably are. Some people see time as a story, a curve or an arc in the universe and all of us, apart from Dr Who walk along it, or are at least on it, travelling together in the same way. Heads up or down on this elongated pilgrimage, determined to spend our days doing what we like or what we feel to be right. Looking out for our fellow travellers and helping them with their heavy loads. That's the burden time gives us all. Shovelling shit, earning a crust, creating stuff or horsing around. That relentless ticking and candle burning that spills us out into the great endeavour of just getting by.  We fall in love, we get angry, hungry, frustrated, but the clock can't be stopped and the long march drags on. The trouble is that we soon realise that the long march isn't so long, it's all quite finite and really rather short. All those diagrams of time that stretch it out and show our lives and civilisations as a fleck of paint, a messy stain or a tear drop around midnight's final seconds on the 31st of December. That's how much we mean. Where is your good cup of coffee, your well presented pet, your straight shelf, your soufflé or your wondrous academic achievements? Where are your friends and family, your neat cupboards, your manicured lawn or your beach holidays? Probably captured, in random phrases and works, in Korean script or bad English in Kim Jong-un's great library of notebooks. For indeed as the Dali-Lama, Steven King or Heinrich Himmler might have said; “all true wisdom is somewhere and I'm fucked if I know where that somewhere is so it must be someplace and why would it not be there, in the notebooks of Mr Kim Jong-un.”

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Hundred year old man

“Everybody that goes comes back some time. The truth is I've been having second thoughts about reincarnation. What was once a dream or just a bad idea now seems...likely. We are all in this huge rotational spin, spinning as loose souls in space, confused and searching across the great Astral Planes. We are seeking for the correct resting place, the vessel, the homecoming. The process carries on and we are somewhere, unseen but plotted on the spiral path to the place we belong. I say all this because of the flashbacks and flash forwards that plague and entertain me. Short bursts from a vivid reality that  reeks of familiarity and inherent strangeness. Touch, feeling and memory all conspire to remind me of these fragile previous lives. Spirits and fragments, things deliberately hidden by the physical but determined and strong, pushing through the barriers of the possible and into the reality of the physical. How else can I describe it?”

“This journey is not an easy one and as my awareness has grown I've found it all the more difficult to stay with it, to travel and remain steadfast in this journey. The long trek through the confused memory where sense should prevail but cannot. Such is the force and the energy of history. Like some pulled back catapult determined to power mankind forward the trapped souls hold and retain the power and force of indescribable travel. There is frustration in the limited release. The sense that though the raw forces should prevail they never can quite gain their necessary release. They are trapped and the journey, far from being smooth and steady becomes a struggle and a stutter. We grudgingly are allowed to move forward but do so in a great fog, direction is lost and purposes are unclear, we need a light and map.”

These were the dying words of Jeremiah Black. A gunfighter, a robber, a Christian Minister, an alcoholic, a grandfather and a cancer sufferer (though the death certificate said pneumonia and bullet wounds). Jeremiah died in 1914. I was there because I was Jeremiah.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Three faces of winter


Behind the Chinese screen. 

In this business I just take my time, when I find the right thing I check it out, I research and then I pounce and buy and ship out quickly. That was why I was in this rather seedy antique market today. The air was heavy with dust, pollution and cooking smells. I felt a little sick and a little uneasy but I was hunting for a bargain and I thought I'd found the bargain of the trip. “There!” On the wooden and silk screen a delicate design was portrayed, the three faces of Winter. A formal but disturbing piece. The faces were gaunt and marked, grey and washed out, split with a naked aggression turned towards each face. Warriors or war lords sneering at each other across a frozen wasteland. Winter arguments, cold and unending seemed to prevail. There was a little light and shade in their woven expressions, as if the silk worm had tickled each white countenance just a little to humanise by a degree or two but not enough to force a thaw. There were scripts, hidden messages  and far away storks, the hope of spring while the ice warriors strutted and argued and waved their swords and bamboo sticks. There was a huge narrative somewhere to explain and inform but right now I didn't need to know anymore. I'd had a chance to look over the exhibit, to take it in. I'm not an expert but I could see age, craft, history, rarity and most important value. This was a piece worth getting hold off. I could make some money, good money.

I looked around the rest of the market. There were other pieces, interesting, glittering, catching the eye before the screen did. There were vases and dragons, great hangings and rolled up scrolls and inked paintings but I was going with my instincts. The screen was there, part of the landscape of the shop, hidden in plain sight. It was the best thing by far. I just wasn't sure how the proprietor regarded it and how, in the event that I showed interest,  he'd try to inflate or push the price. There was nobody around so I quickly took a few photographs. It was as if I was under scrutiny. No sooner had I flipped my camera into my pocket when a head popped out from behind the screen itself. A girl, grinning, peeking and looking me up and down. She was an artful mix of Chinese and European bloods, dark haired but no quite olive enough, western eyes but an Asian mouth and nose. She smiled, ventured out a little further and asked me if I liked. I nodded and pointed to the stock and offered a few compliments. All very interesting, well displayed and of good quality. Business must be good I offered. She shook her head, all was not well, business was down, the air pollution kept the customers away, the smog affected the stocks, there was trouble here and there. No, business was not so good, not right now.

Whatever strategy I was going to employ was abandoned. I engaged in small talk around some other items to deflect from the screen and she played along. There were a few hints and stories of these objects,  ownership and how they came to be here. Their various virtues and potted histories were trotted out.I smiled and nodded. I soaked it up but my eye kept returning to the screen. She noticed.  “You like?” I stuttered and pointed to a print that was hanging near by. “You get this screen at a very good price, very good, not like anything anywhere else.” I thought what the hell and we started on the money matters, American Dollars, cash, now. I carried cash always, that was how I worked. We talked figures, she screwed up her face and rolled her eyes. I returned the compliment and upped the tone of my body language. 

I was right up against the screen, studying the details, the form, the working. She was beside me, pointing to the figures, jabbering about the tales it told.  Three faces of Winter...but there is a curse.
I looked her straight in the eye. “Curse?” “The three faces of Winter is one side of the screen, have you not seen the other side?” I'd thought that the screen was the same on both sides, it hadn't occurred to me that the other side might be different. 

I struggled past various awkward artifacts and managed to crane myself around to see the rear of the object. It was pretty much the reverse of the displayed side though the design had faded a bit and there were black or dark brown stains and splattered across part of it. “And the stains are?” “Blood of course, blood from the various attacks, murders, that sort of thing”. She was grinning at little, confident in my ignorance and delighted that I was now intrigued. I leaned over a little further and clambered over the bric-a-brac until I was finally behind the screen. Once there I could clearly see the marks and the fine work that had gone into the manufacture of the screen. I stood for some time taking in the newly revealed detail. There were a lot of stains it seemed, not all the same colour, in different places and all looking like they'd occurred over time. A long time. I crouched down and took a closer look. This was authentic and I was sure and there was more of a story to it. I love history and the chance to cash in on it.

The next few seconds were a blur. I was aware of the girl getting closer to me, smiling. I also sensed another figure behind me or around me, had something emerged from the screen? That made no sense. Then a sudden pain, sharp and intense. I wanted to shout out but I was choking. A sharp object had pierced my neck. I entered some other world. There was pain and a grinning face. There was a spurt of red and I was falling. Then a black cloud passed across my eyes circling like some swirling passing storm and I was gone.

I awoke in the hospital. In a white bed with a bandage tightly wrapped around my neck. The slow shock of the truth was painful and sobering. I was in a city a hundred miles away and I was without explanations. I'd been found in an alley, drugged and stabbed but alive. No money, passport or valuables. No connections with the market I guessed, the police wanted a word apparently. I was angry and confused...and cursed. I looked across the ward. There on the wall there was an old print, a Chinese piece. I recognised it immediately now. The three faces of winter but without faces, just the bare background. In life there are no clear rules, people do what they do, there are no rules apart from those you choose to adopt for yourself and you must stay wary of the rules that others may make for themselves.

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.