Tuesday, December 07, 2010


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Implication of Standards

No assault of hands or tongue:
I see spots, bobbing gently, on broken walls. To the left of the room, just left of centre, the fireplace behind which I keep my treasures. Above, the mantelpiece, where I keep the secret leaver (in the form of a candlestick or a black marble falcon, I forget which) that leads me to those treasures. Those treasures do not contain my heart. This is not poetry. This is banal description. See there the rise of the carpet. Over there the tugged corner of wallpaper. The stain of hands, the pressure of tongue.

Build the falling castle:
It crumbles like rice. Like the rice castle I tried to make once, years ago, at the dinner table, emulating, of course, the potato spaceship or whatever it was in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The rice, though sticky and coagulated, was not enough to stand firm. It fell. Toppled. Leaned for a moment then toppled. It was an insignificant moment which I’d forgotten until now.

The blue smoke rising:
I am, she said, sailing away. For the south. Where riches of golden and many things of bounteous wonder await me. Where everything abounds. I am taking, she said, my green eyes with me. My emerald eyes which I know you have noticed but which you have so far failed to comment on. My emerald eyes, she said, like the sweet green sea. They are sailing with me for they help me to see. Adrift, I replied, you will leave me adrift.

Littered with remembered kisses:
I was out one night, roaming the parks, looking for love. I found swings and trees and rusty disused water fountains. I found dustbins and benches and paths that led to gates: the gates I also found. I found love hidden deep within the bushes.

We ask and waste the question:
Low bass rumbles as the buses pass. We stand beneath Thurland Bridge. The buses pass above and I mention how years ago we used to cast our fishing lines over the bridge which caught cars and passers by. I remark upon the quick drop of the fog and how if she stood two steps back I wouldn’t be able to see her. To prove my point, she takes two steps back and I pretend that I cannot see her. But I can see you, she says. Yes, I reply, because the fog is facing your way.

With shadows of the poor:
They are with us, the poor. They huddle in doorways and scurry along the gutters. Their rags are home to children, mice and lice.

Model ourselves upon the enemy:
The enemy is rich with confidence. He is rich with riches. He is dressed, today, in a grey, all-in-one figure hugging leather outfit that accentuates his muscles. He wears a black cape. On his head a mask that is much like a balaclava though decorated with yellow stars. On his forehead the letter V which stands for villainy. He wears, as you will have noticed from this letter V, his villainy with pride. Kill him good.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From Where I Carry You A Feather

There is something I would do. I would take away your eyes if it meant you would stay with me. I would keep your satchel in brine, keep it full of flood, if it meant you wouldn’t fill your satchel in an attempt to remove yourself from me. I would slit your heels to prevent you running, to stop you walking. I would bolt your knees and tether your arms. I would tether you overall, now that I think of it, to my bed. I would keep your eyes in my bed, close to my pillow. I would keep your eyes, don’t you worry, safely inside your head. I would keep your head securely strapped to your body. That is: I would do you no harm. Only some harm.

Yesterday, while you were out, I pissed in your socks and then dried your socks. Do you recall the smell when you returned? Have you, you said, been pissing in my socks? No, I replied.

I would take you outside and defend you to the death from those who would mock you. They would, these mockers, pour scorn on your potato flecked hair. You recall how I threw the dinner plate at the wall, screaming about the lack of salt? I weep now when I think of how you wept.

Your wrist resting on the edge of the wall. Your elbow resting on the other edge of the wall. I batted your elbow so that you fell, rapidly, down and towards the wall, your face cracking on to the top of the wall. The crunch of teeth, the split of flesh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Life That Lasts a Little Longer

There is a castle, a monster, a scientist. There are peasants outside, at the bottom of the castle rock, marching through the village. The burgomeister leads them. In a house in the distance lies a swooned and fallen bride. The silly fucking mare. This is a pure story. It begins, it middles, it ends. Sterotypes are reached. Not stereotypes, archetypes. There is a hero. And a dwarf. A hunchbacked dwarf who stole the wrong brain. The little fucking idiot.

At some point in the story, towards the end, the monster reaches out – stretches out – to grab the bride. Before he can reach her, before he can tug at her gossamer bra, he receives a face full of kerosene lamp. Thrown by the hero. Aaagh, my face! my face! the monster expresses. Expresses, of course, because he has no voice. He staggers through the patio doors, falls quickly through the night, to the woods, his head and face still aflame.

Patio doors? Of course. And a conservatory.

Scientist: What happened to your face?
The monster gesticulates wildly.
Scientist: Someone threw a parafin lamp at you? Who?
The monster gesticulates again. Wilder this time.
Scientist: Oh, a kerosene lamp. Right. So who…
The monster gesticulates.
Scientist: The hero? What hero?
The monster gesticulates.
Scientist: I don’t understand. You are saying ‘hero’ right?
The monster nods.
Scientist: Hero? What, you mean he’s your hero?
The monster gesticulates.
Scientist: A hero? Just a hero?
The monster nods.
Scientist: Don’t be daft. You don’t just call someone a hero.
The monster gesticulates angrily, wildly.
Scientist: All right, all right. Calm down. Fucking hell.
The monster sits down.
Scientist: Here, let me put your face out.

Earlier in the story, an old woman walks in on the monster as he’s strangling the man she keeps house for. She screams and stays screaming at the door while the monster lurches slowly towards her. As his fingertips touch her throat she pulls away and runs down the stairs, arms flailing, screaming hysterically. We stay with the monster as he watches her through the window running towards the village, still screaming hysterically. She is, in a few ways, comic relief.

But short-lived comic relief as the monster goes back into the room, the door swinging slowly shut behind him, giving us just enough time to see him tugging at the corpse’s belt buckle. The implication being, of course, that he’s going to indulge in a bit of necrophilia. Made all the more distasteful by the fact of the monster being made up largely of dead tissue.

Expectations overturned: later we see the monster wearing the strangled man’s distinctive checked trousers. And now that we recall, the monster did tear his old trousers. That’s right.

Just to be clear, the monster doesn’t look like Boris Karloff. You can’t have everything. Ours looks more like Charles Ogle. Look him up.

So the bride’s there, mooning at the window, hoping her monster-hunting fiance is safe. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that she would hide somewhere? After all, we’ve already seen that the monster has intentions towards her. She had never seen an erect penis that big before. Nor as disgusting. Stitched together from the cocks of five dead men. A monster indeed. And no, really, she wasn’t intrigued by it. It didn’t open up her repressed sexual yearnings. None of that crap. She was disgusted by it, as I said. Five dead men’s cocks. Imagine.

Anyway, so there she is mooning at the window and because she’s mooning at the window she fails to see the enormous shadow that darkens the room. The tension. His hand into frame, gently stroking her hair before she freezes and slowly turns. Of course, she faints. Into his arms. And just above that enormous throbbing, rotten penis.

Expectations met: In the sequel the bride gives birth to a monster child. Or maybe we just see her later: walking funny, grimacing.

The resolution is that the monster is trapped within the burning castle which collapses into the rock below. Everyone cheers. Except for the hero.

Who doesn’t cheer because, obviously, his heroness is defined solely by his relationship to the monster. Without the monster, the hero isn’t a hero. He’s just a man. A future husband.

It all ends with happiness. With just a hint of unhappiness.

Monday, April 19, 2010

City of Crime, City of Magic

I am as close, perhaps, as it is possible to be to the Batman. I am, to get to the point, a nocturnal crime fighter cum detective who dresses up as a bat. I am not, however, a billionaire, a handsome bachelor or an orphan. Nor do I own a cave, a fancy car or a trusty retainer. With me it’s all in the bat bit.

I have throughout the city cultivated many enemies. Low-lifes mainly of the pimp cum drug dealer variety. There is, however, an impressive threat in the form of a kingpin of crime who I would liken to Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis. Or to the Kingpin, one of Spider-Man’s foes. It is a shame, I think, that despite his formidableness and tricksiness, my kingpin of crime enemy is not a little more in the mould of some of the Batman’s nemeses: The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler. Those guys.

I have fashioned for myself a number of gadgets and weapons. Some are copies of the Batman’s gadgets and weapons: a steel boomerang, a grappling hook and a can of debilitating spray. I also have gadgets and weapons that cannot, I believe, be found within the vicinity of the Batman: smoke bombs, webs, an enchanted hammer, jet thrusters, fireballs, an indestructible adamantium shield, stingers, X-ray vision and ice breath.

We play, my kingpin of crime nemesis and myself, a game of cat and mouse. We have mulled it over, privately to ourselves and publicly to each other, that perhaps we need each other in order to survive. That perhaps we are two sides of the same coin. This is, of course, text book superhero/supervillain stuff. Let’s not dwell on it here.

I live by a certain code that is somewhat similar to the Batman’s code: I want to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers but I don’t want to kill them. So there is this dichotomy thing where I am both liberal and fascist. I dress, of course, like a fascist.

I am not, unlike the Batman, a friend to the police. My relationship with the police is more akin to Spider-Man’s relationship with the police: they regard me as a menace. They seek me here, they seek me there.

I have been doing the superhero thing for almost three years now. In that time I have smashed six drug rings and two paedophile rings. I have rescued two kidnapped children. I have saved hundreds of women from violence and sexual assault. I have foiled seven bank robberies, eighteen shop robberies and ninety-seven burglaries. I have caught twenty-three murderers, seventeen rapists and seven blackmailers. It is, even if I do say so myself, a fairly good record.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Flashing More Than A Wing

She steps out into the day. Sun. Squints a bit. An insect or two. And all the while – as this drama unfolds – he’s upstairs in the bath, resolving yet again to do something about his stomach. Resolving while singing My Way with all the wrong words.

That is, with his stomach, reduce it a bit. He doesn’t think he’s fat. He doesn’t look fat. Not with his clothes on. Just when he’s

He accidentally wets the toilet roll which sits at the end of the bath, on the ledge. He’d forgotten to remove it, to put it on the floor: away from the bath and the threat of displacement. You’d think, perhaps, that wiping your arse with wet toilet roll might be just the thing. But it isn’t just the thing. It breaks quickly, easily, and your fingers end up scraping at shit.

I hope you die, he says out loud as he climbs out of the bath, thinking about an acquaintance who had earlier announced to the world on Facebook that she was having the greatest time on holiday in Thailand. Did he really hope she’d die? Of course not.

(Lose the reference to Facebook.)

She’s in the day now, well into the day. Halfway to the city, upstairs on the bus. She’s remembering when she was younger, much younger, and how you used to be able to smoke on a bus. And how you could look down the mirror shaft to see the top of the driver’s head. It was like a little loft down there, above the driver’s head. Isn’t it funny, she thinks, the silly things you remember?

Later, and he’s been out of the bath for a while. Brushed his teeth, had a wank and drank a mug of tea. It’s a Sherlock Holmes mug. One of those Penguin Classic mugs: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. He ejaculated, if you must know, over a picture of a rather plump girl bending over and pulling her arse cheeks apart. You know, in the way that plump girls often do.

Stepping down from the bus she

How do they do it, these writers? How do they stretch this thin stuff into something even thinner? More to the point, why do they do it?

So his character is: well, he hangs around the house all day, wanking. He’s what, early thirties, been to university, left liberal, a bit of a hipster. He does something in advertising, marketing, graphic design. The funkier end. Glasses, shaved head. Innocuous cunt although he really thinks he isn’t.

And she: fairly lovely. Early thirties. She works, full-time, in something related. PR or something.

Their story takes place through some kind of angsty examination of a modern relationship in contemporary Britain. But no, wait. He’s a banker instead. Laid off. She also works in finance.

He falls apart, she rises. As the country slowly climbs out of recession she slowly rises. As he sinks. It’s like a window on the world. It’s very, very thin stuff.

They have a baby girl. Disabled in some way. She’s another element. He, it turns out, has to become her full-time carer. Can he do it? Can he let go of the wanking, the cocaine, the hookers, the twat friends? Can he rise to the challenge of his daughter? Who knows?

Who cares?

Better that they find themselves, him and his daughter, in the clutches of some kind of mad scientist who had earlier promised to cure the girl of whatever ailed her. He’s into cloning and creating new life and is a right fucking ringer for Frankenstein.

So a monster. A castle in Bavaria. Flaming torches. Peasants.

And suddenly all’s well with my world.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Against The Flesh, The Gold

Surely it is clear to anyone – to everyone - to even the hopelessly blind, how much he suffers for her? Suffers because of her? Surely it is etched deep into his stupid, stricken face the pain he has endured and will continue to endure forever and always? Do they not see it in the way that he walks, in the way that he clenches his fists, in the way that he reaches deep into his pockets or wipes away an itch or a small hair? Can they not deduce – is it really so fucking difficult – that he is crippled by her? Can they not see?

----- ooOoo -----

The darks nights are the worst. As opposed to, of course, the light nights. The dark nights that are darker inside perhaps than they are outside. He knows what he means. Those dark nights when all there is is a chair in the centre of the room. The edge of the bed. Curtains. A broken lamp. Perhaps a picture on the wall that he cannot see but can well imagine: a foregrounded figure staring out to the rolling hills beyond that are in grey, betraying their green, and on horseback, haloed by the moon, a maiden in flight or on her way to something, or someone. A telephone whose brokenness is all the explanation for the fact that it never rings. He perches either on the edge of the bed or on the edge of the seat of the chair. Maybe, he thinks, she will knock at the door. If I’m quiet enough. If I stay still. Maybe she’ll knock at the door.

----- ooOoo -----

She is, it goes without saying, a reach for perfection. She is, it is understood, his embodiment of everything she should be. She is, naturally, doomed to failure yet, somewhat to his credit, he fully understands this. It is not so much a pedestal as a higher rung or a higher step. She is on the balcony, he is here, right down here, in the bushes.

----- ooOoo -----

He lost weight. A few pounds. Someone commented on it, after he’d mentioned it: yes, I see, in your face. He’s like a poet now. A skinny poet.

----- ooOoo -----

He lent her a book, his favourite book, and said how he thought she might like it, that it’s one of his favourites but, you know, you might like it, see what you think, and a few weeks later (weeks! how he agonised every single fucking day hoping she would read it and love it and recognise that his love of this wonderful book signified his whole correctness for her and how wonderful he too must be for loving such a book that he, unlike her idiot husband, understood and appreciated!) she handed the book back to him (didn’t she know that it was a gift?): I read the first few chapters and got bored. Through his heart, a rusting dagger.

----- ooOoo -----

It’s all the modern now and he follows her in ways that, years ago, would have been unimaginable, through the internet and mobile phones and through the selective network of what he couldn’t really call friends that allow him to keep tabs, if tabs is the right word, on her at nearly all times.

----- ooOoo -----

He had heard, through friends, that her husband was, in general, a fairly nice, as they said, guy. She spoke of him, reasonably often, as they chatted away their lunch breaks in the company of other colleagues, those unwitting chaperones. He imagined this husband, this guy, as having teeth and a smile, shoulders and probably shoulder length hair, casually confident, easygoing and mostly likeable. That is to say, an utter, utter cunt. She spoke of him often and he waited for her to say how he’d once raped her or beaten her or how he had an unhealthy interest in children who he masturbated over every night while she pleaded with him to come to bed.

----- ooOoo -----

It’s the feeling of connectedness that he feels she must also feel. So that when he closes his eyes and descends into his anguish she can feel his anguish as keenly as he feels it and feel that there must be something she can do. That is, when he presses himself hard against his pillow, weeping against his pillow, he is really waiting for her soft touch on the back of his head. One day, he tells himself, it will come. I should close my eyes harder, I should feel harder.

----- ooOoo -----

He aimed for cliché, sought refuge in cliché. He felt right at home there, where it was safe, where he was understood and pitied and encouraged. Does he really need originality at this point?

----- ooOoo -----

How do you, he asked himself, turn something like this into art? For this, surely, is the very furnace of art. Yes, of course, poetry and music and painting. The expression of without. But what of the within, the raging furnace – furnace again – that cries out, if furnaces can indeed cry (or crack or pop), that surely makes him his own work of art, no need for expression, just the simple state of being as it is, as he is. So he attempts, clumsily, to walk in beauty like the night.

----- ooOoo -----

It is reckless, this pleasure.

----- ooOoo -----

He attempted to formulate, to a smirking friend, how he’d been unable to, as they still say, rise to the occasion during their first, as he carefully described them, grapplings. It was, he went on, to do with, he was sure, the whole elevation thing, the way he had pushed her so far towards perfection that it was virtually impossible for her to be regarded, by him at least, as a sexual object. And there, his friend slyly intimated, is your clue. He had put her beyond the grubby business of being fucked and also beyond easy objectification.

This is, of course, easy stuff and does nothing to explain why a grown man should behave in such a way.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Like Sound It Comes Around

I was coursing through fields of daisies. Up to my neck in happiness. On the horizon a low hanging sun, resplendent in golden, a big sappy smile on its stupid golden face. It winked at me, that sun, beckoned me onwards with orange, fiery arms.

Orange? What happened to golden?

And so there comes a point, as there must always come a point, when you stop and take stock. Or, as happened to me, fall in a hole. I had an important statement to make – this was going to be the one. But the hole took me.

I woke the other morning with the following sentences (below) whispering through my head. My intention was to take them and turn them into something. But I couldn’t be arsed. And anyway, I like them as they are:

For rivers, bridges. For mountains, holes.

That’s the thing though - you have to write something. It doesn’t always have to be about mountains and rivers. As I said to myself the other day: there’s no such thing as autobiography. I also said: it’s better to evade than invade.

See, with me you get these vague hints at profundity which, if you imagined them as balloons, would burst at the slightest touch. When I say balloons, of course, I mean bubbles. Big, greasy bobbing bubbles.

Thomas Szasz said there was no such thing as mental illness. He didn’t just say it; he made a whole career out of it. Years ago – many years ago – I was very interested in him and his arguments. My copy of his book, The Myth of Mental Illness, had scorched edges from the frequent page turning. But the thing is, I can’t remember much about it. Except that I agreed with his hypothesis. Hypotheses.

(I’m not sure that the frequent page turning and scorched edges thing works. And I hate that I used the word hypothesis. And hypotheses.)

Wait. All that stuff about language and power. All that Foucault type bollocks that I was also, for a very brief period, faintly impressed with. The problem with Foucault is that he was such a fucking dick.

I’ve just looked Szasz up. He’s still alive. 89 years old and still alive. Good for him.

But you’d think, wouldn’t you, that after the birth of my twin girls – and particularly because Maggie is in such a terrible state – I’d have something else to say instead of twatting about with all this random crap. You’d think that maybe I could somehow mine all that heartache and tragedy and turn it into something meaningful, fiction-wise. For me and for any readers out there. My fans, as I like to call them. But I can’t do it and I won’t do it. Because I couldn’t do her justice. So it’s going to be more of the same with perhaps, every now and then, a hint at things. You know, little stabs of Maggie.

Which puts me in mind of Len Lye and how, years ago, I sort of did culture and exhausted it all. After high modernism where do you go?

Which puts me in mind of that rubbish joke that only works if you mispronounce, like a fucking idiot, Foucault’s name: as Fuckall.

Which puts me in mind of the time I mispronounced Camus’s name as Caymuss. Gah. I’m usually so careful to get things like that right.

So where are we? Where do I go from here?

Stories about monsters are always good. Maybe I’ll just do that. I’ve come to realise that subconsciously I’ve always had a thing for things Frankensteinian. I like raised pitchforks and flaming torches and peasants and misunderstood monsters. I also like castles and gothic Bavarian landscapes. I should maybe analyse this and see what comes out.

The film version of Frankenstein, the Universal/James Whale/Boris Karloff version, is far superior to the book. I was enthralled by that film as a kid. And it’s funny the things you remember – like the frame-by-frame Frankenstein picture book by Richard J. Anobile that I pored over for hours and hours. I lived in a world of Spider-Man, Beryl The Peril, horror films, musicals and The Beatles.

I’ve just ordered a copy of Anobile’s Frankenstein book. Cost: 1p. Plus £2.75 postage and packing. Published October 1974. My birthday is in October. I would have just turned seven. More copies available here.

And from there? Well, there’s always sex. Or, rather, my juvenile portrayals of certain kinds of women. Me objectifying and sexualising them and, through a certain kind of persona, telling of all the things I’d like to do to them. Big women mostly, with big knockers and welcoming thighs and open arses. You know. They are mostly all that I think about. They are what prevents me from getting things done. Or, rather, my obsession with sex and women is what has prevented me from getting things done. I have a mind full of it; it increases with age.

(These days I am more open to using the semi-colon, as ugly as it is. Professionally as well, in the crap I knock out for people who couldn’t even begin to knock out the crap I knock out for them. Of semi-colons, Kurt Vonnegut said: “They are transvestite herm-aphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.” I agree. I’ll never use them again.)

One thing I’ve discovered these past eight weeks: there’s a very good reason why nurses are low paid. As for midwives: I’m amazed they get paid at all.

Nurses though. I’ve never been one for the whole uniforms thing. It smacks of being something that those not very interested in sex would be into. Fetishists and weirdoes who need that extra lift to get themselves going. Asexual dickwads, as we call them in our house.

Which puts me in mind of a thing I wrote a couple of years ago (Refuel on a Fun-Filled Portion):

“I was talking to this lesbian who. Well, who first of all told me that she wasn’t, in fact, a lesbian. She said: You know the Richard Briers character in Ever Decreasing Circles? You remind me, she continued, of him – what with your petty bourgeois notions of sexuality and your desire to remain in your narrow, and narrow-minded, comfort zone where all is as it should be and where straights like you (did she say straights, really?) force on to people like me your strict and reductive definitions of who we are, either gay or straight or maybe bisexual, but I’m none of those, I refuse to be boxed in, especially by the likes of you. Get fucked, I replied. Anyway, this lesbian had a girlfriend who, she said, made leather fetish gear, bondage rubbish, all that. Me: Yada, what, the sort of stuff, you mean, that only people who don’t like sex go in for, people who, you know, need to dress up like clowns in order to be able to enjoy sex, who also believe, with absolutely no good reason, that their dopey costumes and cretinous antics somehow make them radical, alternative, transgressive and who also believe that their pathetic preferences and dismal shebangs are something other than witless, clichéd expressions of their repressions and anxieties, rooted as they are in their utter conservatism, despite what they believe to the contrary?”

And now, look. I’m reduced to repeating myself.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Which Steals Men's Eyes

Oafish whistler is balanced somewhere between out and in, hovering over the threshold, whistling tunelessly from his fat fucking face and straight into mine. Spittle and sweat. The stench of three day old bacon caught between his fat, at the back, teeth. He’s letting me out or letting me in, the sensory spray causing this confusion as I too hover and, for a second, look into his eyes and then to his lips and then, inexplicably, I’m overcome with the urge – desire isn’t the right word – to kiss him, to kiss him hard.

WC Fields said, of the city: “It ain’t a place for women gal, but pretty men go there.”

There was also – the whistler incident has just reminded me – the time I popped into an upmarket hairdressers to ask if they carried the brand of hair wax I favoured. Fudge, as it happens. On my approach to the reception area I thought to myself, upon spying an attractive young girl: “I’ll ask that bird there.” But she wasn’t a bird, she was a man. A pretty young man, thin and athletic, eye shadow and rouge, a hint of chest hair curling out from his low cut T-shirt. Beautiful hair. For a moment I was flustered. By what? My initial mistake? By his undeniable loveliness? By homosexual panic? Odd though that I had no urge to kiss him.

There’s a theme emerging here.

I was out cottaging one night, years ago, when cottaging had this subcultural bent that made it attractive to the likes of me in my cultural vultural mode. I was out cottaging one night and doing my usual thing of taking things so far then backing off before things got too gay. You know, like with knob touching and kissing and any other kind of touching. I was out cottaging and, because back then I was young and quite attractive with hair and no gut and a jawline that at least had some definition even in the dark, I was able to entice – if entice is the right word – quite a few men into the toilet where I would look them up and down, walk around them, and declare either yea or nay. Mostly nay. I enjoyed seeing their crestfallen faces as these men, mostly fat middle-aged types let’s not forget, were denied my obvious charms and pleasures. And to those to whom I said yea I took it only as far as suggesting they go into the cubicle and wait for me. Which is where they waited until realising I’d gone on my way. Or been arrested.

For using the phrase ‘yea or nay’ I should be arrested. Really.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Perhaps The Ice Will Hold

The stars were out the day I gave blood. They were out and laughing as the blood drained from my veins and poured into the veins of a monster. A monster of my own creation.

Not two weeks before.

Not two weeks before, we, the monster and I, had greeted each other like a new father and son. Me the father, he the son.

A bit of background: me a scientist in a big castle atop a rock overlooking a gothic Bavarian village.

Me the father, he the son. I say he, and I say son, but the truth is that the monster was of indeterminate gender. Neither male nor female. But because I’d drawn a huge moustache in black marker pen neath his huge potato nose, I tended to think of the monster as a he. Plus there was the big flappy penis I’d stapled between his legs. Not a real penis, of course. Just a limp courgette I’d sprayed with a pink lacquer in order to prevent decay.

So me the father, he the son. And in the first flushes of our time together we enjoyed shared activities that included the likes of: football, swimming, boxing, looking at ladies, fighting bees, reading comics, watching telly, waltzing matildas and taunting the burgomeister’s big fat daughter. Fat but sexy. You should have seen her in her too tight jeans and her too tight top with her big fat knockers spilling out all over the place. Yum.

I had created the monster, my son, to prove that I could create new life. He was, in effect, a two fingers to all those colleagues, contemporaries and detractors who had, over the years, poured scorn on my work. Mad, they called me, and I vowed to prove them wrong. However, all those colleagues, contemporaries and detractors were dead by the time my son was born. Killed by my own mad hands. Metal hands, fashioned from steel following my accident in Japan. And when I say accident, well, you can guess what that really means.

There was once a wife. My memories of her blocked to prevent the pain. But still, she crept through sometimes and in particular in times of distress. For instance, as I lay on the makeshift gurney, the life draining from my veins. My pretty blue veins. And as the distress grew, so too the memories of my wife. Such as:

Wife Remembrance 1:
We were married in a church. On a Sunday. By the burgomeister who, back then, had no daughter to speak of, fat or otherwise. I remember well his words: “On to you both I cast the ancient curse of the village and ask all the witches and ghosties in the room to join me in enforcing and supporting this sacred sentiment.”

Wife Remembrance 2:
We honeymooned in a small Bavarian village that was much like our own but on the other side of Bavaria. The burgomeister there was much nicer. So much nicer that my wife and I agreed to annul our marriage so we could be re-married by this newer, friendlier burgomeister. I also remember well his words: “You two do plenty of fucking and stuff and you will one day be blessed with a son who is as far away from a monster as tis possible to get.”

Wife Remembrance 3:
The problem was that my wife and I did very little fucking and stuff which led to my little swimmers drying up. They were, my little swimmers, fossilised and pressed against the inner walls of my testicles and the first centimetre of my shaft until they, the shaft swimmers, were gradually washed away by my endless pissing as a result of drinking too much water.

Wife Remembrance 4:
With fossilised, dead swimmers I was, of course, unable to contribute to the natural creation of a child. My wife berated me on this even as I pointed out to her that the lack of fucking and stuff, that led to my dead swimmers, was solely due to her reluctance to do fucking and stuff with me. She was, however, more than happy to do fucking and stuff with other men. Including the burgomeister of our village, the horrible one who had married us the first time.

Wife Remembrance 5:
She disappeared one night, my wife. Her body discovered months later, strapped to a car at the bottom a lake, her throat open and her hair billowing in the fronds. Yes, just like Shelley Winters in The Night of the Hunter. Except for the fact that, unlike Shelley Winters, her brain had been removed. And her eyes.

My son was born without the aid of any swimmers and was, instead, the result of some phantasmagorical tinkering that took in all of the major arts: physics, mechanics, alchemy, engineering, chemistry, marketing and astrology. Melded together and mushed up in a metaphorical pot, I magically created new life from elements that to all intents and purpose were without life. I put them together, injected the spark and stood back as my son stood up to life. And stood up for life.

As previously stated, our first moments of time together were full of joyful fatherly and sonly activity, free from the pressures of suspicion, hatred and jealousy that led to me being strapped to a gurney with the life draining from my veins. Draining from my veins while being watched by my son the monster, the burgomeister and his big fat, but very sexy, daughter. An older daughter, of course, somewhere in her early twenties.

If you have guessed that my son’s betrayal had something to do with my dead wife’s missing brain and eyes then you have guessed correctly. That is, to be plain about it, I stuck my wife’s dead brain and eyes into the head of my monster son. Which meant that he thought like my wife and saw like my wife. Plus, of course, he possessed, somewhere inside, the memory of her death and of the person who had killed her. Me, I had killed her. It was only a matter of time before my wife’s brain would recall what had happened and seek revenge. I was an idiot for not anticipating that. In fact, it was only as he was strapping me to the gurney (that’s three uses of the word gurney - four now) that I realised what was happening: it was my wife, within the form of the monster I had created, exacting her revenge.

Anyway. As I am writing this now, you might also guess that I somehow prevented the draining of my veins. You are, of course, correct if you guess that to be the case. But you would not be correct if you guessed that I prevented the draining of my veins as a result of the following occurrences:

Strapped to the gurney I thought: I am done for and Oh God, why hast thou forsaken me? And I thought those things through the din of laughter that emanated from the big fat faces of the burgomeister and his sexy fat daughter. A strange thing: even as I lay dying, passing in and out of consciousness, cursing my killers and calling for divine aid, I was still able to imagine how nice it would be to sample a bit of the burgomeister’s fat sexy daughter. With some degree of effort I even managed to turn my head so I could watch her fantastic great knockers jiggling as she laughed at my plight. It was small consolation and comfort, I admit, but consolation and comfort nonetheless. Still, it didn’t prevent me from finally giving up all hope and accepting my fate. However, during the last remaining seconds of consciousness the door to the attic burst open, the room crowded with rescuers and heroes of all stripe and faith. Quickly they overpowered my son, the burgomeister and his big fat daughter and threw back the lever that operated the machine responsible for draining my veins. That is, they put the machine into reverse so that the blood flowed back into my veins. In a few minutes I was back to full strength and ready to confront my would-be murderers. But too late as my son threw off his shackles and snapped first the necks of the burgomeister and his big fat daughter, followed his own slender neck, held together by only a few stitches and a blob of Superglue.

But as I said, you would have not been correct if you had guessed that that’s how my predicament came to an end.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Turn Left at Phobos

The Martians, they.

They drifted for a while. I mean, floated. Hovered. We watched them as they hovered outside.

It was night time, although not yet dark. What do they call it? Crepuscular? It was night time, evening, and the Martians, they. They kind of just hung around. Outside. What did they want? What did they fucking want?

We were tired so we left them to it. By morning they were gone. No, wait, perhaps they weren’t gone. Maybe we just couldn’t see them in the light. I say that because they were back again, at night. When it grew dark. In exactly the same place.

My husband said they reminded him of some kind of crepuscular bird. The twilight tweeter or somesuch. I said they were nothing like birds. Look at them, I said. Do birds have those? Or those? Can birds do that? I don’t think they can. I’ve never seen a bird do that.

The Martians, they. They were there the following night and the night after that and the night after that. As far as I know they’re still there. We don’t look that way anymore, so I can’t be sure.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Rumble The Grass, Clip The Clop

I will always be poor. I will always have a violent temper. And I will always hanker after big arsed women in boots. In boots.

It was my birthday last week and my family - four children, one girlfriend, one parent, two sisters and two ex-wives - thought it’d be a great idea to treat me to an executive day at the races. At Newmarket Races. Two things struck me about this: I can’t stand horses and I can’t stand being out in the fucking sun. It was a shit gift but I considered, for a moment, keeping my mouth shut and pretending to really love the gift. But my aforementioned violent temper soon took hold and, within minutes, I had most - two children, one girlfriend, two sisters and one ex-wife - of my family in tears.

But because I’m not a complete fool, I took the gift anyway with the intention of spending the day eyeing up big arsed women walking around in boots.

I was out in the sun looking at the horses and the big arsed women in boots. I had eaten cheese on toast for breakfast. A glass of beer for lunch. Plus a hot dog with mustard, ketchup and cheese. A small glass of lemonade. I was out watching the big arsed women in boots while pretending to keep an eye on the horses. I was there with my girlfriend so I had to keep up a certain amount of propriety. She doesn’t normally care about my obsession with big arsed women in boots but even I can tell that it must sometimes get a little wearing.

Where was I?

I was at the races looking at the big arsed women in boots when it occurred to me that horses have big arses too. Of course, I’d always known that horses have big arses. I’d just never really considered it before.

The next bit here, I suppose, could be about how I suddenly started having a thing for horses, and specifically for their smooth, shiny big arses. But that didn’t happen. It was just something I observed: how amusing it was that I was surrounded by a load of big arses courtesy of both the women and of the horses. A whole shebang of big arses. And even funnier when I factored in the fact that most of the men there, at the races that afternoon, were also big arses. Big arses everywhere, as far as my eye could see!

But as it was my birthday I decided, eventually, to at least show some gratitude and to at least put on a show of enjoying the day for what it was supposed to be about: the racing.

I’m a poor man, as I’ve already stated, so I could only afford a couple of pounds on each of the horses I gambled on. Ten pounds in total. I walked out of there, later that afternoon, with an extra forty-two pounds in my pocket. Still poor but not quite as poor.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bringing News From Far and Near

Channeling the spirit of adventure I once wrote “All postmen are cunts” on the envelope of a letter I addressed to myself. It arrived safely, on time and fully intact, at my home the very next day. Which just goes to show that either: a) postmen are highly professional at all times and have thick skins and bear no grudges, b) postmen take notice of nothing on envelopes except for house numbers and street names, C) postmen agree, and/or are happy to accept, that they are, in fact, cunts or d) the postman on my round was, in fact, a woman, a postwoman, who agreed that postmen, the males, are indeed cunts or felt, because the insult was directed specifically at postmen, that it had nothing to do with her, what with her being a postwoman. Then again, what of the males who work in the sorting office? Are they also known as postmen even though their job, strictly speaking, has no posting element to it? Does the ‘post’ bit of their title have more to do with the fact that they work for the Post Office than it does with anything specifically relating to their job? But then, it’s not called the Post Office any more is it? It’s called Royal Mail. So maybe they should be called royalmen. And royalwomen, of course.

Or mailmen.

Which reminds me: I once took a job as a postman during vacation from university. Well, it was better than walking the streets. (And when I say vacation I really mean holiday. Obviously.)

On that theme: I once walked the streets as part of a mob that had gathered together for the specific purpose of hunting down paedophiles (or other, similar, bad guys). Because we were in the city we felt it was neither necessary nor appropriate to go as far as carrying flaming torches. And because we didn’t live in the countryside, few of us had access to pitch forks. Which is why we were content, out of necessity as much as anything else, to walk around armed only with flashlights, guns and knives. (And when I say flashlights I really mean torches. Obviously.) We were out tramping those city streets for what seemed like hours and hours but was, in reality, only two hours. Two hours and between us, with our mob of around fifty people, we had not so much as a sniff of a single paedophile. So we agreed to split up, to go our separate ways, in order to better increase our chances of digging them (the paedophiles) out. What we hadn’t thought through, obviously, was that by splitting up we had ceased to be a mob. Which meant that in the event of one of us finding a paedophile and stringing him up from a lamppost (or meting out other, similar, rough justice) it would not be attributed to the actions of a mob, thereby weakening any moral justification - e.g. the strength in numbers thing - we might have had for meting out such rough, and instant, justice. What to do? As it happened, none of us, together or apart, came across paedophiles or any other similarly-styled bad guys. Which meant that we avoided having to deal with the aforementioned mob/strength in numbers/justification dilemma thing. Phew.

Once, while I was employed as a postman, I was caught, by the owner of the (soon to be mentioned) milk, drinking the milk that had been left, not two minutes before, on his doorstep. I had been caught red-handed - or, rather, white-lipped - in the act of swallowing the milk with the bottle pressed tightly against my lips. When I quickly pulled the bottle away from my mouth, out of a mixture of embarrassment and fear, I, of course, had a big ring of white circling my lips (as previously mentioned). It didn’t look good. The owner of the milk calmly took the two-thirds empty bottle from my hand and told me to fuck off. When I returned to the depot (the sorting office) I discovered that the milk owner had telephoned my supervisor to tell him what had occurred. My supervisor - a long-standing actual out on the beat walking the street postman (and therefore a cunt) - sacked me on the spot. The cunt.

I was a postman. And they gave me the sack. The irony.

I was a postman. Which meant, of course, that I too was a cunt. Albeit for a brief period.

Mind you, it was a pretty good job, all in all. I enjoyed, most of all, delivering letters to the many female recipients on my round. But I enjoyed, even more than that, regularly emptying my sack into their flaps.

(Oddly, two of the stories above - the milk-drinking thing and the emptying-my-sack thing - come from two of my friends, both called Rob.)

Anyway. During my time as a milkman I also had cause to empty my sack into the flaps of quite a few women. And because I was a milkman rather than a postman, what I mean is that I had cause to have sexual intercourse with these women that resulted in me ejaculating inside them: that is, emptying my sack into their flaps. If I’d have had the time, inclination or wherewithal, I would have constructed some euphemistic phrase that pertained specifically to my status as a milkman. Pouring my milk into their urns? Creaming into their pots? Making a delivery of white liquid? Something along those lines. Anyway. During my time as a milkman I had cause to have sex with quite a few women. A wide variety of different women of all shapes, sizes and colours. It was great.

I always liked the punchline of that joke/riposte: because every time I fuck your wife she gives me a biscuit.

Because, obviously, quite a few of the women on my round - that I made love to, to coin a phrase - were married women. Which made it all the more sweet. I even made a point of going round to see the wife of the bloke who had told my supervisor, during my time as a postman, that I had been drinking his milk. Remember? As it turned out, his wife was quite the looker with a fabulously full figure, boasting large, creamy white breasts, grabbable hips and an arse you could really sink into. Unfortunately, however, she was immune to my charms. Actually, it was more to do with the fact that she was extremely happy with her husband and so, unlike most of the women I was attending to, she had no need - out of loneliness, frustration etc. - to turn to me. For those other women, it wasn’t so much that I had charms - it was more that I was willing and available. Good for me. And good for them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Night Through a Broken Window

Because we still live in old times, there is something of the modern about double decker buses and the chimes of the church clocks.

Neath Thurland Street bridge, with endless cigarettes and watch glances, Jack Tuttle also known as John. Ex Navy and boxing booth denizen, wilted red carnation stuffed in lapel, heavy pin stripes stroking the tops of black patent leather shoes. Trilby. Tommy Trinder minus the laughs.

The pealing of the city clocks. Six o’clock, twilight and time, for most, for home.

Jack Tuttle tips forward his hat, his face sinking deeper into the twilight of brim shadow. Illuminated for a few seconds by the flame from a match. Which is when she spies him, Nan Taylor, from the other side of the canal. A nip over the bridge to join him there.

The rattle of a trolley bus.

This Nan Taylor is the fancy of Jack Tuttle’s eager eye. He watches her from afar, at work, where she is the daughter of the foreman. With whom he has what they would later call an uneasy relationship. On account, really, of this foreman/father believing (erroneously, as it happens) Jack to be much the same type of character as he himself is: an eye for the ladies, something of a rogue, a bit of a dandy, a tendency to violence. Judge not forsoever lest thou be judged oneself or whatever.

They huddled together neath the arc of Thurland Bridge where he lighted two cigarettes at the same time. Like, of course, Paul Henreid in Now Voyager. But with a little cough and Nan’s cigarette not quite burning properly. But still.

And still, at last, the sound of the evening air. Rattles, footsteps and tired voices easing off towards the distance. Peripheral irritants, along with low bass rumbles, long a source of dismay to Jack’s sensitive ears. It is, an otologist once told him, the result of ear canals that rise up instead of down, that stretch far too long.

From the neath of Thurland Bridge and stepping on to the still cobbled street towards Rope Hill. A view of the city centre, lit by streetlamps and trolleybus trails. She did that thing he likes, feeding her arm through his as he kept his hands inside his pockets, fag hanging from mouth. Chatting all the way as the smoke stung his eyes and he struggled slightly, without letting on, to breathe and smoke at the same time.

The Blue Bell. Glazed brick work, green. And blue. The landlord greeting Jack by name. Fag still in mouth as those were the days.

There it is all warm and colourful, neath this blanket of smoke and knees pressed hard against small circular tables. Safe. You would happily spend four hours perched on a small circular stool, your back arching out like the arch of Thurland Bridge. Edges of velvet and bends of brass, picture frames stuffed with black and white photographs of canals and barges and barrel-chested men standing next to beer barrels. A big picture of a trolleybus, the number 40 to Wilford Road, right in front of Griffin and Spalding.

And it’s true what they say. Everything was better then.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Hum of the Pool

I was a slight nudge at the top of the stairs. You know what I mean. There you were, peering down, reassured at the apparent ease of your descent when that slight nudge made you question all that you had previously thought to be true. Well, not all that you had previously thought to be true. It was only a slight nudge, after all. Enough to make your heart twitch, to make you reach for, and grip, the handrail.

It was more, I suppose, that I was a small surprise. A pleasant surprise. Something you expected but didn’t quite expect.

No, wait. I was everything you expected. I was a neurological twist, a clip round the ear. It was why we made good.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Now Turned To Low

Exterior. House. Day. Morning. There is but nothing. That is, nothing but the sound of birds tweeting, wings flapping and leaves rustling as they twist when they fall. It is coming up to Autumn. Soon Autumn. There is sun in the sky but not much. Enough for us to see. We see - we spy - a yellow front door. The front door of the house.

Why is this door yellow when I specifically asked for a red door? It interferes with the light. Not interferes. I mean, it doesn’t sit well with the light. I need that door to stand out. When the curtains open, after we have seen the house, I want them to see the pull of that front door. Change it. Change it to red.

Exterior. House. And the red front door is just glowing. Were it not for the brass knob, letterbox and numbers (eleven) you would think, perhaps, that there was no door but rather a fire blazing away in a doorless doorway. You would think that the house was on fire. And thus be placed into entirely the wrong mood. The tone of it would be all wrong. It is not a fire, it is the crisp glow of bright red paint. Burning almost.

And so to a green door. Exterior. House. Morning etc. The door opens and stepping out into the morning light, a shirtless man. He is, what, mid-fifties, a full head of short cropped brown to grey hair, chest hair also greying, little breasts like little deflated rugby balls rolling down, hanging over the top of his stupid fat stomach. Put a shirt on, for God’s sake.

The man, we’ll call him Bob, walks towards us, towards our point of view, looking straight ahead as if he were aware of our presence. But then, maybe he is aware of our presence on the other side of this third wall or whatever they call it. Quick, hide.

We see, for the first time - it’s odd that we hadn’t already noticed - that Bob is pushing a wheelbarrow. We can’t be sure but that sure looks like a gathering of various body parts in that wheelbarrow. We become surer the closer he gets. Maybe, we ask ourselves, they are the parts of a showroom dummy or something, something not real. But no, as he gets closer.

Bob tips the body parts into a previously unnoticed - like a ha-ha - hole. Clearly there are too many body parts to belong to just one person. And when we say body parts we mean hands, feet, arms and legs. Two things we can take from this: That more than one person has been mutilated and/or killed. That they may not even be dead. They may be on the other side of that green door, in that house, limbless but alive. We ponder this as we watch Bob begin to shovel earth and bracken into that hole, on top of the body parts.

Cut to. Interior. House. The same house. We know this because through the window, through the stained (with shit or mud) window, we can see Bob at his previously mentioned toil, i.e. burying those body parts. We pan the room. The dusty and relatively bare room that has a small wooden table in the centre of the floor, two chairs and an extra long black leather couch, long past its best days. It is extra long, that couch, in order to accommodate the row of three limbless women. They are all alive. All with long blonde hair and all with spotted handkerchief gags over their mouths. It is, honestly, like something out of a horror film. And they are all naked, of course. Do they look terrified? Most certainly they do.

Cut to. Exterior. Bob burying. We look into that hole and see that Bob is almost two-thirds done. How does he look, Bob? How does he seem? He seems somewhat panicked.

Cut to. Exterior. Country lane with trees lining it, with crows sitting in the trees, with anything that gives it the added sinister touch. A car. A 1950 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon (here). In fantastic condition. Either we’re in the early nineteen-fifties or that car is extremely well-preserved.

Cut to. Interior. Car. Driven by a man in his early fifties. Attire: grey fedora, trench coat, etc. Either we’re in the early nineteen-fifties or the man likes to dress as an archetypal movie detective. We shall see.

Cut to. Exterior. The tree-lined country lane, the car travelling it. It pulls up at what appears to be some kind of junction. A few moments pass before it makes a left turn into a smaller, tighter lane. As we follow the car we see the house, Bob’s house, to which it is surely headed.

Exterior. A sweaty Bob. The last bit of dirt into his hole. He starts, slightly, at the sound and then sight of the 1950 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon driving down the lane, towards the house. Bob stops. He watches. The car gets closer. Bob sweats harder. The car passes. A relieved Bob.

And later, back in the house, interior, Bob has just finished dousing those torsoed women with petrol. By the door he lights, and then tosses, a match towards them. He leaves quickly, slamming the door.

Exterior. Beyond the shit or mud stained window an orangey glow. It is dusk now. Time has passed. The orangey glow glows harder and against the grey of the dusk is quite a sight indeed. It grows, that glow, soon consuming the room. Do we hear doomed, faint screams? We most certainly do. As Bob, a smile on his thin villainous lips, steps into a car - a red 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (here). A moment or two later and he drives away. Out through the gate, into the lane and then down that other lane, off towards uncertain freedom.

The detective? In fancy dress. On his way to a Buick Roadmaster Owners’ conference or something.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

As The June Light Turns To Moonlight

The pitter patter of tiny feet. Or the pitter patter of the rain. It taps, this thing, somewhere in the background, threatening to make things never quite the same.

His wife complains about the ticking of the clock. It has been there for some years, that clock, on the mantelpiece, ticking away, and for years his wife has complained about it. I make a point, he says, of winding the clock up because I know it winds you up. Overcoming the urge to take the clock and break the clock, preferably over his head, she leaves the room. She retreats, is the word she often uses to her friends, to the safety, as she often thinks of it, of the kitchen. And yet it’s still there, for both of them, even in their separate rooms, that pitter patter of either tiny feet or of the rain.

The following morning and their modest garden, all trimmed lawn, tiny flowers and teracotta thingies, is awash with flood. Gone are the tiny flowers. Destroyed, maybe, the lawn. She is at the kitchen window looking into the garden. From our outside vantage point, peering above a teracotta thingy, we cannot tell whether tears are rolling down her cheeks or whether those tears are, in fact, rain drops trickling along the glass. If tears, her response is a tad excessive. The garden will recover, after all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

So Dark, Up Above

The best thing I felt when I was asked what to feel was the sensation of falling rain drops falling on the back of my neck and then rolling, like little streams, towards the crack of my arse where, after a while, they made my arse wet, especially the hole, so that it felt as though I’d shit myself, a wet shit obviously, and a cold wet shit at that.

After a few days of that they locked me up and beat me endlessly, or so it seemed, for daring to shit myself even though I explained, over and over, how it wasn’t shit but rather the amassed puddle of rain water that had run from my neck and down to my arse and, through the washing over of the dirt on my back, came to bear the appearance of shitty brown water so it could, granted, seem as though I’d shit myself.

The beating stopped and I was allowed to go free.

But the outside world is cruel. And wet. The rain water, it terrified me and so I spent the next few years indoors, felching, if that’s the right word, off my mother and sipping endless bowls of soup through plastic, curly straws. I lost pounds and pounds and soon my own mother didn’t recognise me. Although, of course, she did. It was just something she said. An expression, she called it, a figure of speech. It’s me mum, I’d say every morning when she brought in my soupy, gruelly breakfast. I know son, she’d say, I know.

She had no tears, my mother, and wept nothing at all as I relayed to her my predicament at the hands of the evil fellows who carried me from my bed that night, subjected me to the rain water falls and then claimed I’d shit myself, wet shit, even though I hadn’t.

She stayed calm and collected. Her face a stone image of her face. Sometimes it cracked though, into a kind of smile. Grimace, as she called it.

Some years later, after I’d got over being skinny and gone back to being fat, I spotted, out on the street, bold as brass, one of the evil fellows who had taken glee from the fact of subjecting me to all that rain water and shitting myself bollocks.

But I was too fat to give chase. Mother, I said when I returned home later that day, we need to go back to the soup and straws.

But now, now that I am relatively at peace and calm over the fact of my predicament, I can, at last, enjoy the rain once more and sometimes I lean from my window, easing my head out, catching drops on the back of my neck but this time preventing their descent with the too tight towel I have already wrapped around my now slightly more slender neck.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Reinforce The Torn Places

Twenty-five years and they passed, like that. The next twenty-five years will, of course, also pass like that. It’s why he spends his days these days taking pictures of buildings, rather than people.

She said something about green issues which became the moment he stopped listening. Or stopped pretending to listen. No need for the nods and smiles now, no need for the frequent, but not obviously uniform, uh uhs. Green issues she said and he felt something biting.

The photograph in the silver frame, edged with complications of tendrils, showed at least the last time he could stand to look at himself. It helped that it was dusk, that he was partially covered by a tilting umbrella, that the taker of the photograph hadn’t kept the camera still. It had, he fancied, a slight touch of the Doisneau about it.

Terror ripped through the dorm room. Eighteen eighteen-year-old girls, without their nightdresses, dancing in panic. If he had only switched the light on.

She said something else about green issues, the environment and even, almost unbelievably, about saving the planet. This from a woman who had, as far as he could tell, no previous inclinations towards anything remotely altruistic. But, of course, it had nothing to do with altruism and everything to do with her. He had noticed this in others, too. It was something of a trend.

He photographed local politicians for a book he was writing or, rather, putting together. They sat, most of them, with an absence of feeling or force. He worked hard with the lighting. He took many shots in the hope of capturing something.

The headmistress used the word pandemonium. Never in all her career. The girls, she said, were genuinely frightened.

And sometimes when I’m alone, she said, when the kids are at school and my husband is at work, I weep over the fate of our planet. I do. I really do.

There was a pavilion. An old boating lake in a kind of art deco style. Great slabs of concrete with a tint, or hint, of yellow. Early frost and just the right amount of moisture. The sun rose and bounced off everything it should have bounced off. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Except for the twat with the boats and his fat mental son.

Doisneau my arse.

It bothers him perhaps more than it should. What was it? The lack of thought? The infantile posturing? The grandstanding? The easily adopted superiority? The sheer twattiness of it all? The sheer middle-classness of it all? You wouldn’t have time to make yourself worry about all of this, he said, if you had something genuine to worry about. Or even a job.

This idiot he knew, from years back, had recently contacted him to alert him to the fact of his, the idiot’s, recent questioning by police after his, the idiot’s, female friend made allegations about stalking and text messaging and all sorts of other nonsense. The idiot was once a friend, some years back, but had been discarded for being a nauseating, bed-wetting, self-pitying, self-aggrandising dickwad of a man. The last time they spoke, oh many years ago, he used the word dickwad to describe the idiot. And even then it seemed somehow lacking. Cunt would have been better, more appropriate.

He spends whole afternoons checking out, as the vernacular has it, his competitors’ online portfolios. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that gets on there.

He put the coffee on the table and listened as the boy in the pantry took ice cubes out of the tray. The headmistress emerged from the library, closing the door calmly behind her, her scalp and thinning hair all too apparent beneath the harsh hallway light. I think you should leave, she said, the girls don’t trust you any more, we’ll find someone else who can do the job.

It was surely no coincidence that the idiot from his past, who had, it turned out, been stalking an old mutual friend of theirs, shared the same green issue type views as the woman he now recalled, dimly, from somewhere in the less distant past. He remembered nothing about how she looked and nothing about how she was in bed except that when he came, he made a point, for some forgotten reason, of ejaculating on to her thigh. It was somehow a comment on all the green bollocks. The satisfaction came from the mild look of disappointment that crossed her face.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Among Us Walks A Goliath

Defeat The Sinister Spells
We watched him as he ran, backwards, raging forwards, lost to the horizon. He became, finally, an etch on the moon.

Armed With a Fantastic Power
Never one to blow his own trumpet he was caught one day, nevertheless, making grand claims about his abilities, his powers. What powers? they asked, those inquisitors of gloom.

One of The Greatest
Never the like of him shall we see again, not in this life.
True, though surely the time has passed, been reached, where we can perhaps move on, make our own way?
No, the time is not ready, not right. We must first receive the signal.
The signal?
The sign.
What sign?
The sign that tells us he is ready to return, to save us, to deliver us into salvation.
Not that again.
Not what again?

Lives Again
He was, to all intents and purposes, no longer of this life. We had buried him, for a start. But then, now that I think of it, there were those who claimed, right to the last, that he was, in fact, still alive. How he survived three weeks in that box, six feet in the ground, we will never really know.

Invasion of The Lava Men
Here they come, the little ticklers. They gather at the foot of the bed. My favourite is Swimp, the little one. The littlest one. He has buck teeth and roaming eyes. I never know where he is looking. Or what he is thinking. One day, I’m sure, they will mount the bed. And then I will be done for. Consumed by their flames, their all-consuming heat. Roar. Etc. But until then, I am more than happy to bask in their orangey glow.

Please Don’t Frustrate Us
We wait at the foot of the bed in the hope of a glimpse of that girl’s thighs and her breasts and all the other forbidden bits that we are even forbidden to think about let alone mention. She sees us, we’re sure, but she seems to see through us and just lies there contently drawing something from our heat like she is on the beach or under a sun lamp or something. We wouldn’t mind so much, we all agree, if she didn’t just lie there with all her clothes on. We keep wracking our brains, thinking of what we can do to get her to take her clothes off and maybe writhe around for a bit. We can’t turn up the heat because any more would consume her. We are reminded, some of us, of the story of the wind and the sun and the competition they had to see which of them could cause the man to take his coat off and, of course, the sun won because the more the wind blew the more the man held his coat, pulled it on, even tighter. The sun won and we cannot understand where it is that we’re going wrong.

Waiting To Pick Up the Pieces
I am cupboard hider. When all burnt I will scrape up warm flesh that cling to bed clothes and decorate cupboard walls. Turn heat up you stupid little things.

Wait Till You Learn
You will reach my age one day and discover the truth of growing old. You will, believe me, weep at the news of it.

Wonder Man
Terrifying battles and carnage as the city falls to the crash and thunder of two giant robots. They arrived, only hours ago, from Planet Robot, these two adversaries of clang, now using our city as an arena for their metallic slugging. Through the crunching of gears and the whirling of whirligigs we can just about hear their terrible words. The things they say to each other, the grievances they have. No wonder they fight.

Truly Different Villainy
He will box your ears for you. If you’re not careful.

Co-Starring: Spider-Man
The fates have come to tempt us, dear Spidey. You on the ledge there, high above, me looking up, wishing I were you. Remember the time you caught me as I fell from my window washing lift contraption thing? Twenty stories I fell and, of course, assumed I was a goner. But there, at what seemed like the very last moment, you caught me. Carried me away in your thin though powerful arms. I would have your children Spidey. Believe me, I would.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Gift That Stops Giving

Not only alone but now also, he is fascinated to discover, without the power (and it is a power) to throw the snowball that’s slowly melting in his frozen, though adequately besocked, hand. He lets it drop, the snowball, which is instantly lost within a something of white. Blanket. Sheet. Expanse.

His father, behind him, as he gazes at his reflection within the golden Christmas tree bauble, says something about how you can’t help but resemble Pete Townshend when you look into a bauble or into the back of a spoon. Pete Townshend, he says again. You know, he did those songs you like, Magic Bus and Happy Jack.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Though The Night Was Made For Loving

Oh moon. By the light of your orbish sad face we blow our whistles and wave in the last of the rowers. Be careful there son, as you step gingerly from the boat, you don’t want to slip and splash and make a fool of yourself. Not in front of your girl.

Oh moon and bats. As I lock the gates for the last time this year. It will be frozen soon, our lake, and, were they allowed in, the public would see all manner of gaggles of ducks and geese gliding. The children would love it although the council would not. This lock is rusty, a new one for next year I think.

Oh moon and trees. Your glow flitting in and out from behind the branches as I brisk my way home. Crunching down streets and slipping slightly up lanes. My breath ahead of me, suspended in front of me as mist.

Oh moon and sixpence. As I lay down six whole pounds on the beeroff counter. A bottle of wine. Riches enough for two.

Oh moon. Furtive through the scullery window, appearing almost as two. Watch over her tonight, see for me that she’s right.

Oh moon.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Get Hip To This Kindly Tip

Lightly stabbed, wheezing and gripping the steering wheel, I saw you in the parking lot, your hair flying out, covering the face of your husband. Your groceries bagged, your be-hatted husband carrying them. Blood through my fingers, now dripping on to the seat, I shifted slightly, painfully, and watched as you passed.

Ice cream soda, twenty-nine cents. Beneath the panoply of lights, gaudy tubes of gold and red, she took our order. Just the one? she asked as I, quickly checking the coins in my palm, nodded in affirmation.

Denny’s. As we pulled out you saw the sign for the slots and told me how you’d never played the slots. I considered stopping and later regretted that I didn’t.

Just the two of them, Mac in shades and a cape, against the wall, both smoking. Meet us outside Ken’s you said, and bring cash, plenty of cash. Pete with his hat, complaining about the cold. Get in, you shouted. Get in and shut the fuck up.

Ines Grocery, beneath a sign for Coca-Cola, Mr Bojangles and his troop of minstrels, coal-faced and sooty-mouthed, tapped out a serenade involving bicycles, a fire hydrant, a store alarm and a great big puddle of dog piss.

There is, as the sign rightly states, no place on earth like this. One thousand animals, linked together by people clothes and people paraphernalia: pipes, cigarette holders, cars, eyeglasses, pinwheel hats, banjos. Inside, one thousand animals led by llamas and followed by racoons, bears, deer, badgers, cougars, moose, rabbits and banjo-playing chipmunks. In the shop, yours for twelve dollars, stuffed and genuine baby polar bears. Put them on your dashboard. One thousand animals, dead at Lake Placid.

Take it, they said, as we drove into town: take the sky up above, it’s all yours.

Breakfast 7am, Howard Johnson’s. Still dark enough, just, at that time of the morning to justify the neon sign. Is it too early, you asked, for cocktails? Cocktails and ice-cream? What flavour? What flavour what, the cocktails or the ice-cream? The ice-cream. What flavours have you? We’re right out of chocolate. I’ll have chocolate then. No, I said we’re right out of chocolate. I know, I heard you.

Smorgasbord, a home for antiques and deer heads. Moose heads when they can get them. At front, in front of the store, a couple of Texaco pumps and a billy shed for taking a leak. You drive in and the bell rings. They can guess, usually, by the state of you and your car, whether you’re looking for gas, antiques or a place to piss. They also serve coffee, hot, with a Coke machine out back.

It was the swimming pool that did it, and the promise of hot water. A night in this motel. Free TV and full carpeting throughout.

A couple of girls, no more than your age, parading about on the lawn dressed in tutus and tight tops, carrying between them a huge placard that read: Beautiful Cypress Gardens and All Kinds of Grass and Unusual Trees This Way. With an arrow pointing the way. Who wants to see that? I asked myself out loud. I want to see the sausage tree, you said. So I made the turn.

Lurleen B Wallace, wife of George Wallace, the only female governor of Alabama, for one year only. Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever, her husband said, a few years earlier. He later changed his mind.

From Monkey Island it’s a short trip to either the lagoon to the left or the lake to the right. You can go by steamer or by yacht or by dinghy. The choice is yours. Don’t forget to spend some time in the newly-refurbished amphitheater where you can watch cartoon characters of various stripe and popularity tear up the stage with their riotous antics and mouldy old dough. The restaurant, surrounded by, oh boy, the snack bar and the souvenir shop (curios only ten cents each), is home to fries, burgers, steaks, hot dogs, coffees, chowders, shakes and lobsters. Run from here, after you’ve finished eating, and climb aboard one of the fine airplanes we have standing on our private airstrip.

Jerry’s Restaurant sells shrimp, scallops and oysters. We will, I believe, partake. Have you a no smoking section? No? In which case, we’ll move on to Paul’s Restaurant, just five miles along on Route 23.

Past the hockey fields and down towards Lake Tannakeneekie, Florida’s Original Cars of Yesterday where continuous shows, roaring all day long, proudly show off the likes of the Chevron Bumblebee, the Cadillac Nicknack and the Lincoln Subaru. And if you ask nicely, the owner of Cars of Yesterday, a certain Marvin Friedman, will let you sit behind the wheel of one of those rare beauties and bounce to your heart’s content. Good old Marv.

You went through the door marked Lionesses to take a piss. I went through the door marked Lions to take a piss. No, wait, I had a shit.

In Shannon County, South Dakota – somewhere around there at least – we stepped out to spend time at the Badlands National Monument. What we saw there was 64,144 acres of wilderness that, we were told, was full of wild things and bad things, hence the park’s name. American Indians, a firing range, fossils and homesteaders all there too. Do you recall, Shannon, how when we were in Shannon County we laughed at the similarity between it and your name? It reminded us, as we said at the time, of the time we ate lunch in Paul’s Restaurant on Route 23. Burgers wasn’t it? And a couple of shakes. Anyway. In Badlands Monument do you remember how you picked up that rifle and accidentally shot dead that black-footed ferret? Fucking hell. How were we to know it was America’s most endangered mammal?

Monday, September 22, 2008

It Brings On Many Changes

I shot myself in the head and missed. Sort of. It, the bullet, cut a groove right up my forehead, parted my hair and lodged itself into the bathroom wall behind me. Tiles, and crumbs of tiles, everywhere. I wasn’t dead but it hurt. And I looked a right state too, a right idiot.

The day I hanged myself was the day my wife decided to come home from work early. Me hanging there all red-faced and gasping and she, initially, rolling her eyes. Another of my practical jokes, right? Ten seconds later and she’s grabbing my legs, pushing me up, screaming and shouting, putting the window through with her foot, alerting a neighbour, cutting me down.

I’d swallowed enough pills, the doctor said, to kill a dinosaur. A dinosaur? Yes, something big, bigger than you at any rate. An elephant? Certainly an elephant. A gorilla? A gorilla, yes. A grizzly bear? Is a grizzly bear smaller than a dinosaur? What? A grizzly bear is bigger than a dinosaur, yes? Yes. So if all those pills you took could kill a dinosaur, I’m sure they’d have no trouble killing a grizzly or an elephant or a gorilla. I see. Yes. What about a blue whale?

Like an idiot, flapping about on the side of the bus, slamming my face against the window, some of the passengers screaming, some of the passengers laughing, my trousers somehow caught on the roof of the bus, the bus I’d meant to jump in front of, not on top of. Idiot.

A thin metal rod rammed into the plug socket, my wet hand on the other end. Result: Darkness. And the video clock having to be re-set.

I threw myself from the Ditherington Flax Mill Tower. I landed in a vat of flour.