Google+ A Tangled Rope: 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Size of Biscuits


Ping-pong ding-dong, I've got a thingy song, so Eurovision here I come.

I have a reindeer, she is called Nigel and we are very happy together. Well… as happy as two manic-depressives who have nothing in common and spend at least 18 hours a day together, sharing a small, cramped and barely furnished flat can be.

I have a large spanner. It is made of a grey dull metal and is very heavy indeed. I think it may be - slightly - in love with me. I call it Sheila, although that is - of course - not its real name. I would be giving far, far too much away if I were to reveal its real name.

Names are interesting things. I have a name for everything that I feel may need one. I even have names for those things that need a name only on special Mondays, and for those I like to tickle in that special way.

I shall wear a hat and drive too slowly. I shall wear a cardigan and take an interest in gardening and the size of biscuits. I shall grow old and I will go bald.

I shall.

I shall.

Let us go, you and I, to sit in the car park of destiny with our flasks of milky tea and neatly-packed sandwich boxes.

The British Weather – A Survivor’s Guide


Of course, if you are buttering your baguette in a force-nine gale or having to bale out your shoes with your teacup, in between having to fetch your book or newspaper back from across the other side of the garden, then you must have been tempted outside. However briefly you were tempted out by the appearance of that yellow thing in the sky for the first time in what seems like decades, you will have forgotten one of the basic rules of life in Britain.

The rule is: no matter how nice it looks outside – it isn’t.

It is either – on those few days when the drizzle stops long enough for the clouds to part – sunny but cold, or – unbelievably – sunny and hot. Such is the cunning nature of the British weather; neither of these conditions can be detected from indoors. Only when you get out there, do you realise those two things that you can see rolling towards the kitchen drain used to live – quite happily - in your underpants, or that rivulet of dampness also heading towards the kitchen drain is you… melting.

Occasionally, on about 3 days out of the 365 the temperature outside is just right – that is if the wind has temporarily dropped below gale force – for sitting outside. Unfortunately, if it is nice enough for you it will be nice enough for your neighbours to get out their power mower, their radio and their barbecue too… oh, and their drink. So they will be singing crazily at the tops of their voices to the latest Eurovision hits while one manically and drunkenly mows everything on a vaguely horizontal surface while the other sets fire to a wide variety of foodstuff. All right by the fence where you placed your garden chair to keep out of the gale… and the rain… or, if it is summer, the snow.

If you are British, if you grew up here – oddly enough during a childhood of eternal summers – then you will - by instinct – know not to trust the outside. It is a dangerous, insidious and mendacious con-trick perpetuated by a cruel alliance between the weather system and the insect population in order to make everyone’s life a misery.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Heavy Sledges of Winter


The mornings come alive with light and birdsong at long last. It feels as though we have been dragging the heavy sledges of winter for so long through long cold dark nights and short dull days that seemed to be over before they ever began. No fire seemed to burn away the cold that crept its icy tentacles deep under the skin until it seemed that our very bones would become fragile icicles ready to break at the slightest touch.

We could look back only as far as the narrow horizons of the winter and see our sluggish footsteps already fading under the onslaughts of snow and wind until it seemed the landscape itself wanted to erase us from all memory.

Now, though, the world is growing green again. Each new day seems to bring new shoots, new buds and new flowers. The earth is coming back to life again and we can feel it within ourselves. The heavy slow sledges of winter are gone as we shrug ourselves free of their weight and begin to feel that we no long need to trudge and make each new footstep an ordeal to be overcome.

Now we are ready again to step lightly through the bright days as each warmer day shrugs off more of the memory of that long winter, as we shrug off our long, heavy winter coats and begin to learn the true shape of each other once again.

Thursday Poem: Beneath Arching Wings


Beneath Arching Wings

And would you ever soar on up so high
All over these forests and mountainsides
While following the twists and turns below
Of my own bluest river under skies

Before you burn your wings in the hot sun 
And then go tumbling down to fall and land
Upon your waiting bed where I will be,
With arms held open, wide and ready, there

To carry you back again to this world
In time for you to start a bright new day
Out where no one can ever fly beyond
The mountains, far above the forest roof

Or see how small this world will look spread out
Beneath wide arching wings that seem to stretch
From horizon to horizon and hold
All possibility within their reach.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The EU and Meteorological Standards for Equine Compatibility


So now that you have the weather balloon securely fastened to the left-hand-side leg of the dinning room table and positioned the aforesaid table in a roughly North-South orientation, I suppose you are wondering what to do next.

Admittedly, here the instruction leaflet is not as clear in the hastily-translated English as it was in the original Latvian, but even a cursory examination of the diagram will show that the donkey should not be placed too close to the dining room table. For there is a danger it may become skittish when the wind blows the weather balloon in the donkey’s general direction.

However, if you have had the foresight to make sure that your current donkey is compatible with the EU’s latest meteorological standards for equine compatibility (form No. EU45453343B) then this should be the least of your worries.

At least until after the picnic.

Some people have asked – considering the difficulties over recent public events, whether the dinning table is quite as essential as it seemed in the days of Empire. Personally, I would say not. However, I would draw the line at attaching the weather balloon to a sun-lounger as this may cause the donkey to moult over the cucumber sandwiches and that is never socially acceptable – except in some of the more outlying suburbs of Wolverhampton, but that – quite obviously - is a subject for another post.

Anyway, I hope this has clarified matters for those of you not sure how to proceed and I hope it all goes well for you and that your endeavours are blessed with good weather.

The Philosophy of Foodstuffs


‘Even if we do try to make sense of the notion of cheesecake, then we are left bewildered by the tin of peach slices left in the cupboard.’ These famous wise words by the post-war Anglo-German philosopher and car park attendant, Otto Von Van Transit, have – as everyone knows, had a profound effect not only on modern philosophy, they have revolutionised the whole field of symbolic logic, especially in its relationship with cheesecake.

To reconcile what on the face of it two mutually-exclusive philosophical concepts like cheese and cake, and not only that find this new synthesis between them was Von Van Transit’s must remarkable achievement. However, much to his own disappointment and frustration, he was never to really make any logical connection between this revolutionary notion of cheesecake as both cheese and cake and as a new entity in itself as a cheesy cake and a cakey-cheese with not only tinned peaches, but tinned goods as a whole.

Early in his career as visiting Professor of Sweets And Puddings at Pheeble College, Oxford, Von Van Transit had made some remarkable progress on reconciling the notion of the jelly with the concept of tinned fruit, especially the use of mandarin segments in orange jelly. Even Bertrand Russell was impressed by this new young philosopher, claiming it had changed his whole concept of what things could be put on toast, opening up a previous-unexplored area beyond the Platonic notion of toast and marmalade, as outlined in Russell’s own Principia Toastacus.

Unfortunately, Von Van Transit found himself haunted by the concept of tinned vegetables and how they could be philosophically reconciled with the then nascent frozen vegetable industry without a thorough rewriting of Kant’s Categorical Imperative to incorporate the moral use of the freezer. Then at the tender young age (for a philosopher) of 73 tragedy struck Von Van Transit when a tin of sweet corn he was contemplating on a windy cliff top slipped from his grasp and tumbled down the cliff face, becoming wedged in a straggly bush mere inches from the sheer edge of the cliff. With little thought for his own safety, but obviously deeply concerned that the loss of the tin of sweet corn could set the philosophy of foodstuffs back several decades, Von Van Transit attempted to rescue the endangered tin.

Von Van Transit’s body was washed up on the shore three days later, but as A. J. Ayer remarked in his eulogy at Von Van Transit’s Memorial Service in Westminster Abbey’s Tinned Goods Aisle, Von Van Transit still had the tin of sweet corn clutched in his hand when his body was discovered… ‘and for that the world of Philosophy will ever be grateful.’

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Someone Else’s Fault


Well, then… I did warn you that if you kept messing with it like that, one day it would fall off. So, you only have yourself to blame…. That is, unless you can find someone else to blame. After all, it must always be someone else’s fault, mustn’t it? All this despite the fact that it specifically warns against attempting to coat the marmoset with lukewarm tapioca in the instruction leaflet.

Anyway, I’m sure that once the custard has set you’ll be able to come to some agreement with your local trading standards office and the matter may not even reach the courts, especially if you remembered the importance of the blackmail photographs. After all Strip Ludo at such an advanced age is never really going to be that pretty a sight, is it? Especially when they kept losing the dice in the folds of sagging flesh.

Consequently, moving on, I see that the world still exists outside my window. This despite all that the BBC has been telling me of late about how the world is dying and it is all my (and yours, so wipe that smug grin off your face) fault for not wanting to freeze to death in winter or live on a diet of half a manky ‘organic’ carrot once a fortnight.

Still, being mercilessly harangued and patronised in our homes is what we pay the Licence Fee for… I suppose. After all, we don’t seem to get anywhere near as much gratuitous nudity on the TV as we used to, so I don’t know where we’d be if they started putting on programmes we actually wanted to watch.

Symbolic Underpants


Keep it in the shopping bag, Edna. There is a small goat taking suspicious glances across the aisle at you. I think it wants to see your stamp collection.

What will you want when all these sandwiches no longer satisfy? How could you offer change like that to a small Mongolian jelly-merchant?

I have seen the traffic-lights you speak of, and they do know the secrets of all the mathematical systems across the known universe.

These are the real Symbolic Underpants and I wear them to impress the natives. Do we ever have the need for goats in our car parks?

This is only a small round thing we keep in the packet for use when the small round thing is deemed necessary. Much like those devices you use to keep the wood-lice entertained, it should only ever be used in an emergency.

I forget how this happens and I forget what to do about it. Now that it is over, what else can we do except look at which way the dog expresses its interest in small Chinese vases?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Attack of the Glockenspiels


The Glockenspiels are massing on the hillsides all around us. I think they will attack at Dawn.

Poor Dawn. I have told her to hide behind the asparagus. The Glockenspiels have a well-known fear of vegetables, so it may be just enough to save her.

When they do attack, I have told everyone to fire at Will. So now, Will is hiding too. He wanted to know why it is him that everyone fires at. I told him - quite simply - it is because it is usually his fault, and that no-one likes a smart-arse.

Anyway, it will not be long. Well, actually, it will be long. It usually is first thing in the morning, but with Dawn in hiding - far away even from Rosie's expert fingering - there is not much else I can do, except take myself in hand again. However, I am short of damson jam and my last spatula was broken in the last attack.

Still, it will be Thursday again soon and the chip shops will be open once more. That means the Ukuleles will soon be on the warpath once again. The Glockenspiels will not stand a chance against them.

Monday Poem: She Knows


She Knows

She moves as she understands
Easily, with a grace of knowing
Light, like the breezes of spring
Blowing headlong into summer.

She flows like the slow stream
Long after the snows are gone.
She dreams like an afternoon
Spent just watching the clouds.

And she knows this is the world
And it will all soon belong to her.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Importance of Things


Here we have a thing. As things go it does, on the whole, seem like a remarkable example of why we like things so much. It seems there is some deep part of us, some place deep within the fundamental heart, if not the soul, that makes humans yearn for things.

This… this…. Thing we have here, sitting in the prized very heart of the Very Nice Things Indeed shelf in the Museum of Things in Düsseldorf, seems to epitomize, to ooze very thingyness itself. If indeed Plato was right and there exists in the universe something that is the very essence of a concept, a perfect example of it, then this piece – many would argue – is that epitome of thingyness, it is the thing – as a concept – made real.

Of course, things have a long, long history, even the earliest beings that we could call human had things, crude by today’s refined standards, but things none the less, proto-things even.

It seems that humans not only want, but need things. We feel somehow incomplete without our things around us, we feel defined made real by our things. The great sages, mystics, religious leaders all wanted … tried to make people turn away from things. They often tried themselves to live without things, turned their backs on things. However, rather than being lauded, praised or emulated for this desire to live without things, we look upon their like with suspicion with distrust, ‘the expression ‘holier than thou’ comes to mind. We feel deep down within ourselves, in the part where our love, and need, of things resides, that a life without things is – really – no kind of life at all.

Annual International Day of Having a Clue


Now, as it so happens today is the day when we all have to pretend we know what we are doing and that we have a pretty good idea of what is actually going on in the world around us. Yes, today is the fifth Annual International Day of Having a Clue.

As we all now know, the UN set up this international day because it was felt, at least by those delegates who made it back from lunch, that the world was in dire need of another International Day of the Something or Other. Another of those days used to raise awareness of that something or other, which is generally regarded by those that think they know what’s best for us, as a good thing. However, this Annual International Day of Having a Clue was the best that they could come up with at the time.

Since those UN delegates who turned up to vote on this particular Day of Action hadn’t got a clue as to what they wanted the Day of Action to be about they didn’t have anything to vote on to make themselves feel important, useful and relevant. Then someone – apparently - thought it would be a good idea to use this day to raise awareness of the dangers and problems of no-one in the world really knowing what the fuck is going on.

Therefore, the Annual International Day of Having a Clue was instigated, in the – somewhat vain – hope that someone, somewhere, in the world will – one day – have some sort of clue about actually what the fuck is going on, and will – somehow- manage to communicate that clue to the rest of us before it is too late.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Topographical Re-Orienteering of an Ecclesiastical Gentleman


Of course, any topographical re-orienteering of, say, an ecclesiastical gentleman to face the - much more theologically-correct – north-northeast, is not as un-problematical as doing the same to a physicist, or even a chemical engineer, even without the appropriate set of pulleys and a chocolate teacake. Why this should be so, is – of course – a conundrum that has plagued the minds and tea-breaks of some of the greatest minds from as far afield as Northumberland, sometimes even as far into the Scottish borderlands, albeit only when a fair wind is blowing.

Now, it is often said that the correct orienteering of the theologically-inclined personage was as much to do with an attempt to counter the over the border rampages by the Scots as was the building of various defensive fortifications in that benighted area.

However, as the amount of damage caused by savagely hurled tins of shortbread shows on these very buildings, this was not always as successful as the inhabitants of those areas had hoped. However, it is a well-known fact that any person who comes into the close vicinity of anyone with a deep interest in the inanities of religion will soon wish to be elsewhere as soon as possible.

All this does overlook just why the sporran was invented and why the untamed haggis will still – even after the passage of the centuries in-between these times and now – still strike terror into the heart of an English clergyman.

Thursday Poem: Dreams Will Grow From Turning Time


Dreams Will Grow From Turning Time

As night arrives to take your hands and go
To places dreams will grow from turning time
Around and twisting memory and hope
Across the pillow held beneath your head
By tightly gripping hands that fight the night
And all the fears it brings, until the day
Will come and fade your dreams to light and air.

You wait and wait under the darkest hours
And blankets of the night until the day
Can come to rescue you. It takes the night
And shines a light across the shadowed dark
Revealing morning over you, around
And within you. The seasons come and pass
All changing dawn and time around across
The face of morning, taking every day
And making each of them a turning thing
Revolving time and space around themselves,
Until tomorrow comes and takes the hand
Of time to lead it out towards the day,
Beginning once again to turn to night.

How days begin while night still rules the skies
Is not so easy to ignore at times.
Forgetting makes the time go slowly still
As day escapes from night and dark again
To turn the world towards the light as time
Is creeping night across the planet’s face
To touch the edge of day once more and turn
The slower ending of the day to dusk
And stillness. Holding quiet in your closed hands
You turn away from darkness into light
And drawing curtains over night and dark
You turn away inside and stay in there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Feeling Betrayed


So anyway, there was the spanner, just lying there. I knew immediately what had happened. The nut too, lay there, as though it had been exhausted by all the screwing and unscrewing. My wife looked up at me with guilt in her eyes.

First my screwdriver, and now… now this.

I felt Betrayed.

Betrayed smiled at me, so I felt her again. Betrayed began to purr and rub herself up against me. I bent down and took out my adjustable spanner; Betrayed began to giggle with excitement.

My wife glared at me as Betrayed began to dance around my shed, singing her little happy song as she arranged my woodscrews into ascending size order.

‘It is your own fault,’ I said to my wife who guiltily placed the spanner back next to the nut on the workbench.

‘I… I couldn’t…. couldn’t help it,’ Wife said with tears in her eyes, which I thought was a good place for them. Tears on the ankle never really look right, or maybe that is just me.

Betrayed giggled again and started to do something rather erotic with my tin of Swarfega.

‘It is too late, now,’ I said firmly to my wife, all while watching as Betrayed began to remove her tool belt… slowly… slowly while dancing and singing her happy song.

I resisted the urge to feel Betrayed again and began to feel my old self again. My old self responded by acting more like my young self once again.

My wife noticed how my old self was acting like my young self.

‘It’s been so long,’ wife said wistfully.

‘Yes,’ I said admiring my old self as it turned young again. ‘And it is getting longer... see?’

Betrayed danced back towards me and took my old self in her warm hand as she held the Swarfega jar in the other.

Wife smiled at Betrayed, who laughed as she handed the jar of Swarfega to my wife and said to her ‘Come on, you know what to do,’ as she closed the door of the shed with all three of us snug inside together.

The Potential of the Instance


There are these moments that hesitate, times when what might become is held there in the potential of the instance. The world seems to hold itself poised on the edge of becoming some new place; some new way of living seems to hang there, just waiting for something to happen.

You sit there, watching your own fingertips caressing the wine glass as though you are waiting for them to decide which way the world will turn. You wait to see if the world will continue turning as it always used to, or if it will spin off on some new tangent, with us both holding on tightly, neither of us sure which way it is all going to go, or where it will end.

It is as if the world has grown still and silent around us, as though the backgrounds of our lives up to this point have gone out of focus. It is as though the background noises of our lives have been faded out. We both watch your long, delicate, fingers tracing those routes of our possible futures around the stem and bowl of that glass.

Then, suddenly, the world is turning again. The crowds around us come back into focus and the sounds of the world fade up again as everything goes about its own life around us, as you look up into my waiting eyes, as your fingers end their journeys, and then you smile at me… and I start breathing again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

She Could Dance Though


There is a hollowness in the centre of her days. She once had days filled with promise. She once had a life that she could dance though as though she had learnt some great secret that can be unlocked from beyond the ordinary days of our lives. She lived as though she had found that key that opens the door to the life we usually only catch fleeting glimpses of in dreams.

There is a figure that haunts our dreams, a shadowed presence that lies just beyond what we can see. A figure that waits to lead us to this half-hidden place she had found. It is some creature of the shadows that hints, suggests and implies, leaving a trail of the possible through this world of dreams that leads to this door so few dare to unlock.

She knew she had been there; she had memories of those gardens that lay beyond the secret door. Places of peace and serenity, places of music and slow languid dances that tell the tales of how the secret routes to that place lie amongst the shadows of our dreams.

She knew she’d been there, she could feel the weight of that key in her now empty hand. She could feel the routes she had taken through her dreams in the memory of her feet and the intricate steps they had taken.

Now thought she stood lost in this mundane world, not knowing how she could get back there, back to that special land, and felt its absence within in her lying heavy and shattered like a broken heart.

This Age of Wonder and Its New Gods


Now, we stand here and gaze with foreboding over the seemingly-deserted car parks of all the shopping malls and town centres we hold dear. It seems almost inconceivable that the age of shopping could be on the wane. Shopping, though, like all the great religions of the past will crumble and fall into dust. The most holy purchase will join all those forgotten gods, goddesses and muses lost in the dust of history as we find new gods to worship.

Already there are those singing the praises of their most revered wind farms and those that live in fear of the mighty god of the climate and all its capricious moods, threatening to first freeze and then burn in hell all who do not perform the necessary acts of obsequiousness and sacrifice. All while the Eco-Taliban call on us in increasingly shrill voices to turn our backs on this sinful wasteful life and journey with them back into some mythical medieval wonderland of oneness with nature.

Even now, there are certain primitive tribes who prostrate themselves at the altar of celebrity, finding in the decoding the palimpsests of the lives of these modern-day saints and angels a new moral of living. It is a screed for living their lives by following the most holy doings of these gods and goddesses of the big and the (now not-quite-so-)small screen as they dance through lives seemingly magical and constantly photographed and therefore made more real than mere reality itself.

Then there are those that live by the mantra of home improvement or the perfectly-cooked dish and see the way to contentment with their time on this earth as finding the perfect scatter cushion or the ideal way to roast a potato.

Truly, we live in an age of wonder….

At least, it certainly makes me wonder.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blancmange Behind the Ears


So, anyway… well, sort of…. You know how it is…. At least, I assume so. You look like a man… women…. Er… being of the world…. Well, of some sort of world, quite possibly – maybe, on second thoughts – from some other dimension, some other reality… quite possibly one with differing aesthetic concepts to our own.

However, be that as it may, or – in your particular case – may not necessarily, be. Let us consider….

Hang on….

Right, let’s….

Oh, where was I?

Where you intending to do that…? Especially as I am about to pontificate on the matters in hand….

Well, the matters in my hand. You – I think – had better make sure you wash yours thoroughly as soon as you finish, especially if you are going to put that… you little furry friend… back in its cage, hopefully after you’ve cleaned all the blancmange off it, especially behind the ears. After all, you don’t want the vet to be asking those – I thought, at the time, rather impertinent – questions again, do you?

Still, as I was about to say….


Is that one of the new ones?

The new model?

Now that is fascinating. Do they have to be this colour though, or can you get other colours… and does it have to vibrate like that, especially in the vicinity of your…. Er…. ‘friend’.

I presume it is still compatible with that… er… shall we say ‘rather specialist’ app that you found so much use for, especially in those lay-bys and truck stops late at night.

Hmmm…. I still don’t know if I want one, after all my tastes are not quite as specialised as yours… as the judge – I thought – so rightly said during his summing up. Still, now though, we all realise it is not quite as illegal as everyone thought at the time, especially not the way you hold the badminton racquet.

Anyway, as I was saying….

Folk Wisdom


Then there are the times when even your favourite screwdriver, or your special spanner, seems not enough to lift the spirits beyond the dull low plateau they seem to have ensconced themselves. All through this late drear winter where all the news has seemed to be bad and the only light at the end of the tunnel has turned out to be some lacklustre fucker with a knackered torch.

Still, no doubt ‘they’ whoever the fuck they are, have some apposite – and quite possibly, pithy – aphorism, saying, wise words or something else along the lines of ‘it will be all right in the end’. Something no doubt misheard and misquoted from some late medieval rural situation, or some of the usual mangled incoherence from some holy book or other, which make the instructions for a self-assembly wardrobe seem logical, coherent and relevant.

That is the trouble with trying to enjoy a good dose of healthy misery and a vigorous wallow in self-pity, some bugger with some ‘humorous’ bit of folk wisdom will always come along and try to ‘cheer you up’. Usually, just when the last thing you want is to be cheered up. Sometimes seeing that the world is fucked, that the human race is fucked, that we ourselves personally are fucked, is the best part of the day. There is nothing quite as heartening, and likely to cheer anyone up, than seeing that everything has turned to shit and there is bugger all anyone can do about it.

After all, it can hardly get worse, can it? And that is something to cheer yourself up with.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Frank Display of Uncovered Elbows


It is not totally unknown for someone who has the elbows of a classically-trained Cornish pasty eater to frequent some of the less salubrious arenas for the display of undressed full-frontal elbows, even though they have read – and understood – several of Schopenhauer’s less well-known knitting patterns.

As everyone is now aware the display of uncovered elbows in mixed company was removed from the list of criminal activities during the last days of John Major’s premiership – mainly in order to get some good publicity for a government that contained both Norman Lamont and Michael Howard. However, such was the outrage in several of the more staunchly conservative constituencies, the Unadorned Elbow Act of 1996 was henceforth mainly blamed for both the loss of the 1997 election and the subsequent choice of William Hague as the next Conservative leader.

It became apparent though, that – as usual – the more reactionary wing of the Conservative party was wildly out of touch with the mood of the rest of the country. Soon - despite many of the tabloids taking it as a sign of the collapse of society – naked elbow were soon seen all over the country and in all walks of life. Even those members of the Catholic clergy who had been defrocked over their consorting with people with uncovered elbows were allowed back in polite society, but only after the choirboys had been moved to a place of safety.

Despite this fundamental change to society, and the seeming acceptance by the vast majority that uncovered elbows in mixed company is here to stay for the foreseeable future there are still some who oppose such liberalisations of the law. Strict Uttabolluxers, of course, believe that all women should – for religious reasons – spend their entire lives inside cardboard boxes when in mixed company and therefore regard uncovered female elbows as a danger to both men and their goat flocks.

However, the majority of people being both pragmatic and sensible gave up listening to what fundamentalist religious nutters say a long time ago and just get on with things without making a fuss. It is because of this attitude in the majority of the UK’s citizens that none of us need fear a return to the dark days of mandatory elbow covering anytime in the foreseeable future, despite what the opponents of uncovered elbows wish.

At the Tinkerers and Fettlers Club


Even though your turbo-weasel collection may by the envy of everyone who lives to the south of Northamptonshire, and your pedal-powered custard maker may very well be the finest outside of the most secret laboratories of those high-tech companies on the leading edge of technical innovation, it means next to nought. That is if your abilities with the goat-rewiring spanner are not up to scratch when you attend the next meeting of your Tinkerers and Fettlers club.

Tinkering and Fettling however, does seem to be somewhat on the wane, these days. There was a time when what it meant to be a man was in a great part defined by how well you could dismantle, repair and reassemble a clockwork social worker with optional cheese grater attachment. Many a man would take pride in his toolbox and the arcania it contained.

Many a young son was spellbound and fascinated to see the wonders of so many instruments of strange purpose when he was deemed old enough to see what lay in his father’s tool box. Further honour and heavy responsibility also lay in that significant day when he was allowed to take some of them and use them, perhaps only to recalibrate a geography teacher or to put a bit of a shine on a hand-cranked water goat. However, it still was a significant rite of passage, which now seems as quaint and out of date as an honest politician or a knowledgeable TV journalist.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Poem: Our Father


Our Father

He had confident safe hands.
I wanted hands like that.
The knowing hands of a man
Who knows how the world works,
And how to fix it, when it doesn't.

For he is the one to fix things,
Who knows just how to turn
So things open into his palm,
And how to re-assemble to set
Our small worlds going again.

Watching how those safe hands
Can so easily rebuild for us
And how even our small thanks
Can seem so insignificant
Compared to what those hands do.

Maybe that is why the gods
Were invented as creation's fathers.
Putting the world back together
When clumsy child-like humans
Stumble, and it all falls apart.

Requiring only our humility
And head-bowed silent learning.
To perpetuate the illusion
Of some meaning and purpose
In a world built especially for us.

But there comes a time for growing
To turn from searching for lost fathers
In the empty skies above our heads
And to teach our own children instead
Of how this universe works and turns.

Media in the Modern Age


Anyway…. So…. It seems the world will continue to happen to all of us, despite what we try to do about it. This is – on the whole – a bit of a bugger that the world is contracted thus.

Of course, in the olden days one could have written a stiff letter to The Times. You would be confident that when the powers that be saw the wisdom of your words, and as it was The Times there was no doubt whatsoever that they would see one’s words, a gunboat would be dispatched forthwith, or – if deemed more appropriate – those responsible would be horsewhipped to within an inch of their lives.

These days however, with more newspapers than you could shake a mendacious politician at, unless you are an over-refreshed accidentally partially-disrobed celebrity there is little chance of the media paying you much attention, unless you’ve got some product to flog they can leap onto the coattails of, hoping some of that ‘glamour’ will rub off on them.

These days even if you are an eminent scientist, or other knowledgeable cove, who can speak confidently and coherently in an erudite manner about whatever it is you are pointing at, you only get the attention if you do the pointing from some exotic location, ideally with your cleavage or gentleman’s area on prominent display.

If you are some ordinary geezer with nothing to flog, not even yourself, you can forget it, mate. Anyway, these days you’ve got blogs, Twatter, ArseAboutFaceBook, and all that to witter away upon, all giving you the impression that you are saying something and the greater illusion that people are actually paying attention to you, listening to you, and – when all is said and done - what is a mere gunboat compared to that?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Those Days in My Hands


I held the shapes of those days in my hands, soft tremulous heartbeats held inside delicate forms. Those days were young and fragile, they had yet to grow beyond the early hours of morning and the evening seemed so far away. I did not know what kind of day they would grow into, whether they would be those days that are gone and forgotten before we can even begin to remember them, or whether they would be those days that live on for as long as memory holds them.

There are days that we can never forget, and for many reasons. There are the good days and there are those bad days.

The good days are as light as a moment taking wing on the memory and floating across the skies like birds taking gentle flight, as they weave the patterns of those days around the mind.

The bad days are slow, heavy, ponderous. They trundle across the mind like heavy machines of war, digging deep ruts that scar the landscape of memory as they move into their positions. All seeking those places that will cause the most damage to these fragile worlds we hold so carefully in out hands, feeling their tremulous heartbeats as they feel those war machines of the bad times manoeuvring their heavy dark hulks ever closer.

Then those good light days that float free take flight from our wide-open hands, suddenly seeming so far out of reach as they fly away from the encroaching darkness that shadows our world.

A Chance to Be Offended


There are times when it seems that there is nothing to be said. Although, there are many who will not let that stop them. In fact, saying something about nothing in particular, and at great length, especially if one is being paid by the word in the MSM, seems a skill worth honing, if only to annoy other people.

For, it is a fact universally acknowledged that people take great delight in taking offence at what other people write, think, say or merely muse upon. Therefore, if you can come up with something, especially something new, that people have not had a chance to be offended by yet, then you are doing a great service to the nation, even – in these days of the Wibbly-Wobbly Web – the whole world, or at least that part of it not totally entranced by pictures of cute kittens.

Annoying people, merely by writing a few chosen words is a talent little appreciated, or not as appreciated as it ought to be. For we all enjoy – often far more than we’d like to admit, even to ourselves – the deep profound joy of being shocked, outraged and offended. In fact, there are some people that are quite possibly addicted to the pleasures of outrage and displeasure that they seem capable of being outraged by almost anything, no matter how slight or insignificant, each minor slight a mainline hit to the outrage centre.

However, outrage seems to work in a way opposite to that of most other drugs because as time goes on the addict seems to be outraged by less and less, a bigger hit from a smaller dose, so that those in the terminal stages of perpetual outrage can get their high from even the most desultory flippancy and trivial aside.

Such is the potency of the illness that in its terminal stages outrage can be produced merely by ‘looking at me a bit funny’, and other similar trivialities. This suggests an area of untapped possibilities. Forget solar power, wind, power, wave power, just think how many light bulbs ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ could keep going just by being upset by someone swearing on TV, or the number of towns that could be powered by the latest in political mendacity or celebrity malfeasance. The terminally-outraged could become the new power terminals, and – for once – religions could actually live up to their claim of bringing light to the world, merely through wiring up their terminally-aggrieved zealots and fundamentalists to the national grid whenever they start to get miffed about some imagined slight to their imaginary friends.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Handful of Rain


Time is like that. A handful of rain slips easily through the fingers. A moment is there and then it is gone. Something that feels solid and heavy in the hand seeps away until nothing remains, but a memory of what could have been. She had thought she had something substantial in her hand, some sort of life that would be solid and real, but when she opened up her hand and looked, it was empty. Not a trace of anything of that life she thought she had remained. All she had was that memory of once holding something in her hand that was now gone, gone and lost forever.

She looked up at the sky, at the way the clouds, heavy with rain, lumbered their bulk above her. She looked down at the ground, sodden with rain and dotted with puddles. Here she was, caught between the sky and the ground and holding out an empty hand. An empty hand that had once felt so full.

Then she discovered a handful of tears was much like a handful of rain. Tears too, though, she found, not long after, slip just as easily through the fingers as rain, leaving the same nothing behind.

So she turned, looked back at the space where that life that was once hers had been, before turning back and walking away, walking away from those swollen rain clouds that still filled the sky.

The Measure of Man


Once it seemed as though one day we could live in a land made free of the tiny-minded bureaucrat. Scientists had developed many ways of riding us of these pests and vermin through the growth of technology and other wonders, which made the pettifogging, rule-bound busybodies less and less necessary for the functioning of society.

Unfortunately, though, such is this universe of unintended consequences, the very things we made to rid us of the evil of the jobsworth also gave those very jobsworths the tools to pry and to poke and to interfere even more into our already overburdened and overregulated lives.

Soon we could not even walk down the street without having our movements, our whereabouts and even our dress-sense recorded for all posterity on CCTV cameras and other tracking systems.

However, what was strange about this was that many people did not mind, they assumed that somehow it was all for their own good, that their lives were made safer, easier, better by being tracked everywhere, by having all their purchases analysed and their very thoughts measured, recorded and tabulated against what was deemed acceptable to think and say. What was worse was that when their error about this all was pointed out to them, not one of them cared.

Not until it was too late, anyway.

Monday, April 11, 2011

All Those Voices


All those voices calling out become just so many shapes and forms disturbing the silence. We do not know how to respond and what to say. Words become useless, less than the silence they replace. The shouting voices are like shapes, forms in the morning mists, shadows in the fogs of uncertainty and doubt that becloud our every thought and make action seem slow and heavy, ponderous. Everything we do seems wrong and every word that could be said seems empty of meaning, just another voice adding to those too many voices already clamouring to be heard.

We want to escape, find some place of silence where the thoughts can flow again, instead of being dammed up, drowned out and robbed of meaning, of context, of coherence, by these other voices that shout without meaning or cause. Everywhere seems full of these full voices screaming for attention and saying nothing that anyone wants to hear.

Sometimes, though, rushing to escape this constant screaming, we stop suddenly in the street, struck dumb by the realisation that we too were out there too, just like all the others, shouting meaninglessly into the indifferent air.

Monday Poem: As The Tide Turns


As The Tide Turns

All down along the shoreline spread, the waves
are making edgy progress, while the tide
advances like a cautious army crawls.
But still the walls of castles crumble down
All under its remorseless hard onslaught.

And still the land is taken, swallowed whole,
Incorporated deep into the sea’s
Dominion, until all up to the tide’s
High mark is then returned into the sea,
Returned to water, and submerged again.

Those footprints that we left behind are lost
Gone underwater and then all erased.
It is as though we never walked by there,
If only just what happened over there,
The memory all that will now remain.

Where we lay together hidden by rocks,
All could be erased too like that scuffed sand
That lies so sheltered from the wind and eyes
That should be scanning distant horizons
For signs of shipwreck and distress at sea.

As he scans the sea’s harder rough edges
Set out against all the sky’s watching blue
While you are down here far out of his sight
And doing all those secret things with me
The sea can erase and the sands forget.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Bringing Parliament into Disrepute


A banana…? Well, I think we can all agree that the less said about that the better, especially in a context such as this. Admittedly there is a certain amount of ambiguity about the photographic evidence, especially in these days of Photoshop and other such digital manipulations. However, even you must admit the marmoset looks more than a little disconcerted, especially considering the stick of seaside rock was not even unwrapped at the time.

Unfortunately, in these more louche days, it does take slightly more than this to make a real political scandal, after all the relevant MP – unnamed here for legal reasons, although for various illegal reasons he can be named as Quisling Rotten-Borough, the long-severing MP for Upper Piddlington under Marsh – is on the Transport select committee. Therefore, he is authorised by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Houses of Parliament to be in possession of an official government banana when the house is in session. Just how he got access to the official House of Lords marmoset and the Lower House Speaker’s own ceremonial stick of seaside rock, is a completely different question and – consequently – under investigation by the House Privileges Committee.

Some traditionalists, and those who wish to safeguard the long history of the Houses of Parliament, will, of course, be aghast at how the actions of this one MP can bring the whole Houses of Parliament – both the Upper and Lower Chambers into disrepute like this, and hereby threaten the whole edifice of parliamentary democracy with just one banana.

However, those wishing to bring the Houses of Parliament into the 21st century and remove all these old, ancient traditions will point to an episode like this as demonstrating a need for rapid and fundamental change.

The rest of us, less interested in the arcane and often pointless-seeming rituals of this world unto itself, however, will just be hoping that, one day soon, the official parliamentary marmoset will recover from this ordeal and be able to take up its ceremonial duties once again.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Hanging Around Until - A novel

Hanging Around until Mobi Title

Set during the mid-1980s, Hanging Around Until is the story of Paul Carr, who, at the age of 28, decides to become a mature student at a North-Eastern university in the hope that an education will help give a direction to his life.

On arriving at the university Paul discovers he is to share a house with five other students. Two of those housemates – Alison and Julia, each in their own way – turn Paul’s simple quest for an education into a tangle of confusion and uncertainty amid the turmoil of university life during the height of anti-Thatcherite campus activism and the birth of the new Left.

The Empty Skies of Promise

There are these moments we feel, gyring upwards in the skies of promise, turning around each other as they rise higher and higher towards the blue of the summer skies of all we ever long for. As we watch, though, we see them turning higher and higher, moving further and further away from us, becoming long out of reach, until they are finally lost from view. All that remains is the memory of specks on the limit of vision, before they were gone, lost like the dreams you left behind on this morning’s pillow.

Now our skies of promise seem so empty. We do not turn away in despair, though, to see our skies of promise this empty once more, except for those clouds that are building on the far horizon. We know that somewhere out there, somewhere high beyond the reach of any reaching hand that could drag them down, those moments of what we could become are flying free. Each twisting around each in the strong sunlight, just waiting there for us to kick free of this heavy world that holds us rooted here, to fly up to join them when we can turn and turn around each other in the sun too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

100% Error-Free

So, what now then? I don’t know where to go from here, which way to turn, where to go. There have been so many wrong decisions, so many wrong turns, but I am here now, and no place else.

Here, and nowhere else.

I cannot go back, retrace my steps trough time, unpick the tapestry and start again. What has happened, has happened. There is no escaping it. It will all remain there, no matter how much anyone tries to deny it.

Too many people, it seems, go through their lives haunted and taunted by things from their past, scared that what they try to hide – sometimes even from themselves – will leak out into the cold light of the present. 

We have all made mistakes. It is not possible to be alive and not make mistakes. We are not 100% error-free, not ever will be. We invent gods and other supernatural acolytes in order to fool ourselves that perfection is possible, maybe even achievable. Then after the inevitable fall from that grace (note the religiousness of that phrase) we end up trying to deny it ever happened. 

Everywhere, especially in politics and other such endeavours that rely on creating a – usually – false public image there is this… instinct, almost… to cover up, bury, distort and deny, as though the illusion of perfection must be maintained no matter what the cost.

Trouble is though, the cost of the denial, the distortion, the hiding, the cover-up, all of it, ends up costing far more than the original failure would have done, but still we all carry on as though the illusion of perfection matters more to us than the fallible reality we actually live in.

Shropshire Smith and the Temple of Vegetables


Even though the Brussels sprouts in the vestibule should have been enough to warn us of the dangers that lay ahead, still we ventured on, deeper into the darkness, the unknown and the danger. There were rumours of parsnips deeper in those dark tunnels, so we took all the obvious precautions, even though we lost Simpkiss in a terrible sudden avalanche of carrots that poured from a trapdoor in the ceiling and buried him alive.

It was not all bad news though; at least when we camped that night we all had a bowl of hot fresh carrot and coriander soup. As there was now only me and my Research Assistant, Honeythighs Dishabille, left of the expedition, there was plenty of the soup for both of us. The roast for the main course, that followed the soup, was a bit of a disappointment though – being rather tough – but then Simpkiss had been getting on in years. We therefore had put his fatal misfortune down to his being not quite so sprightly as he once was and agreed to try him cold on sandwiches the next day.

However, we moved on the next morning, each of us terribly aware of the dangers of cauliflower that now would – probably – confront us. All through that morning Honeythighs held tight onto my hand as we carefully made our way down the convoluted corridors towards the lost treasures we knew we could reach, if only… if only… we survived the radishes.

About midday that day, I took a step, and then something… some sixth sense told me not to move. I held out my flickering, stuttering, torch, and there it was in front of us. A pit seemed to go deeper into the blackest blackness of all eternity. I lay down on my front and carefully held my torch over the pit. There below we could both see the huge carpet of cauliflowers that lay on the bottom of the pit. Just one single step further and that would have been my fate. I shivered as I got to my knees, looking for a way around the pit.

We knew it was not far, that any time soon we would find our way to the room that housed the legendary Holy Vegetable Peeler of the Gods. Like everyone, we’d heard the legends that told of that mythical device by which the High Priest rulers of the ancient civilisations had used to tame and then wield the fearsome power of vegetables over their cowed subjects.

“What’s that?” Honeythighs said grabbing me.

“Oh, sorry, it’s just where I was rubbing along the ground. It gets like that sometimes.

“But… it’s so hard!”

“Thanks, but I thought you liked it when it is like this?”

“No, not that… this search for the Legendary Vegetable Peeler of the Gods, it is so hard. Do you think we’ll ever get out of these tunnels alive?”

“Of course,” I said. “After all I do have this ancient A-Z which shows all the routes through the temple.” I held the map book up into the light of my torch and suddenly realised I’d been holding it upside down since I’d picked it back up at the side of the pit. “Hang on…” I said, pointing to a passage off to our right. “It’s just down here.”

Suddenly we were in a massive high-ceiling room that merged into dark shadows at the edges of the pools of light cast by our torches. In front of us were rows of kitchen units each one with several drawers each.

“Oh no,” said Honeythighs, squeezing my whip in despair. “It will take us ages to search all those to find which is the real utensil drawer.”

“Wait,” I said, suddenly remembering an old lecture from my mentor, Professor Puddleduck. “It may not be impossible after all. Professor Puddleduck said that this tribe usually regarded only one particular drawer in one particular kitchen unit as being sacred enough to contain the holy kitchen utensils. The Vegetable Peeler of the Gods will be in that drawer!” Purposefully I headed towards what I hoped would be that drawer.

Just as I was about to open that particular drawer, some instinct made me pause. I knew that the High Priests of the Vegetables sometimes booby-trapped their utensil drawers so that those without the requisite arcane knowledge would be caught how if they ever attempted to get their hands on any of the most holy kitchen utensils.

After carefully feeling around the edge of the drawer for switches, levers or other booby-trapping devices, I began, slowly, to ease the drawer open, pausing when it was open less than an inch.

“Shine your torch in there,” I whispered to Honeythighs.

Moments later Honeythighs was leaning over me so her substantial frontage rubbed against my back, reminding me of that unforgettable evening in Cairo with the temple priestess and the watermelons. I could feel myself blushing, and then wished I could just feel myself.

“Look!” Honeythighs said, bringing me back to the matter in hand from the matter I wished was in her hot tight hand.

“Wha…? Oh, I see…. Cunning…. Very cunning.” From where we sat together peering into the utensil drawer we could see that the High Priests of the Temple of Vegetables had so positioned the potato masher, that any attempt to open the drawer by someone not privy to the secret would irrevocably jam the door.

Carefully… very carefully, Honey thighs eased her fingers into the drawer and took a firm grip on the potato masher. I could feel the sweat pouring down my back as I thought both of what would have happened if we had not discovered the booby trap in time, and also what it would be like to feel those dexterous fingers closing around my own personal potato masher. I gulped, feeling the urgency of my thoughts pressing into Honeythighs’ leg; she looked at me and smiled.

Exciting, isn’t it?” she said, licking her lips.

Eventually, she managed to disable the trap and we could open the drawer completely.

I searched through the drawer… twice.

“It… it isn’t here!”

I could hear the despair in Honeythighs’ voice. I sighed and made to get up

“Wait!” I cried, getting to my feet and almost running over to the sink. “Look there, on the draining board, under that pile of saucepans and the Pyrex casserole dishes!”

Honeythighs was the first to reach the Holy Vegetable Peeler. She began to pull it from the pile of now dry and dusty washing up.

“Noooo...!” I screamed, but it was too late.

The pile of washing up had been deliberately placed in a very precarious situation, heaped up above the Holy Vegetable Peeler right up to the roof. As Honeythighs pulled the peeler free, already pieces of the temple ceiling began to tumble around her.

I leapt towards her.

Somehow, I don’t know how, my leap – as I grabbed Honeythighs – took us both just beyond the tumbling pile of washing up and the collapsing temple roof. We lay still my body covering and protecting hers, as the saucepans, casserole dishes, plates and deadly drinking glasses fell and shattered all around us.

“Quickly,” I said, getting to my feet and pulling Honeythighs to hers. “Run! We must get out of here now. Can you remember the way out?”

She nodded, still dazed by the tumbling washing up that still fell around us as the temple crumbled. I pushed her; she stumbled first, but then began to run. Behind us, I could hear an ominous rumbling sound as we ran down the long sloping corridor to the exit. I turned….

“Oh shit!” I yelled, causing Honeythighs to stumble and turn. I could see the fear widen her eyes and threaten to leave her rooted to the spot until… until it was too late.

“No, don’t look back. Just run!”

My urgency got her moving again. I ran too, also not daring to look back to see that huge turnip rolling inexorably down the narrow corridor behind us… gaining on us. I knew that even if I could get it from my backpack without breaking my run, my potato masher would be useless against such a monstrous vegetable. I knew that in any encounter between us, one of us would end as puree and it wouldn’t be that turnip.

It was no good, the giant turnip was gaining on us as we ran down the sloping corridor towards the exit. Glancing forward I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Quickly I pulled Honeythighs towards me and stepped back into the alcove behind me, less than a second later the turnip rumbled past us.

It took us a while to get our breath back. Eventually we looked into each other’ eyes as we stood pressed close to each other in that alcove.

“Is that your potato masher I can feel, pressing into my thigh?” Honeythighs asked, smiling up at me under the dirt, dust and grime that covered her face.

“No,” I said, smiling back.

“Good,” she said.

“It is a pity we lost the Holy Vegetable Peeler, though, under the collapse of the temple like that,” I said. “Even if we searched for a thousand years, I doubt if we could ever find it again.” I sighed.

Honeythighs grinned up at me. “I’ve got something to show you,” she said reaching into the waistband of her torn and tattered trousers.

“Er… are you sure this is the right place for that?“ I said.

“Oh, yes….” She pulled her hand from her trousers and opened it in front of me. On her palm lay the Holy Vegetable Peeler.

“How… why… when...?” I stuttered as she handed me the Holy Vegetable Peeler and then used her same hand to check I hadn’t been lying about my potato masher.

Some time later… well, a few times later, we left the remains of the temple and headed for home with the Holy Vegetable Peeler safe in a specially-padded box ready for its long journey back to its place of honour in the British Kitchen Utensil Museum in London.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Plagues

And so it came to pass that in the land of the peoples of the most Holy TV there descended another plague upon their most revered TV schedules. They had, up to then, survived whole plagues of TV genres that had laid waste to their evening’s viewing. There had been plagues of soap operas, plagues of DIY programmes, plagues of ‘Reality’ programmes, plagues of pseudo-documentaries about so-called ordinary life, plagues of alleged celebrities, even a plague of cheap footage garnered from CCTV and police cameras, and many other such devastations of the quiet night on the sofa. 

It was a situation that made even poking about on social web sites, pretending to be interested in the lives of pretend friends, seem to hold out more promise of a fulfilled life. Even though, in the virtual – as opposed to the real - world you rarely got to experience their dubious taste in curtains and the curious head-shapes of their offspring. Even this sad waste of a life seemed preferable to gawping at the inanities that now infested what was once the most Holy TV. 

This, even though they had all proved their devotion to the most Holy TV by making many sacrifices in order to acquire new and expensive TVs, stuffed to the very brim with the latest in gizmotronic wizardry, which therefore should have filled its viewers with awe and wonder, rather than this feeling of disappointment and ennui.

Soon it seemed that the dubious ‘talent’ shows were everywhere, sometimes featuring alleged ‘celebrities’ that no-one had ever heard of , doing things that were alleged to make them seem more real, more human. This was odd, because most of them were famous for playing dress up and pretend in order to pretend to be people who they were not, and some were even politicians… or worse.

Still, though, the people of the land of TV gawpers carried on their worship of the Most Holy Magic Picture Box in the hope that one day, maybe even one day soon, there would be a half-decent murder drama on it that they could actually sit there and enjoy.

Over the Hills of Distance

This is what comes out when we open the box, surprising in a way. We never really expected there to be that much in it, while at the same time we somehow expected more. These are strange times, haunted by so many ghosts of the past, while it seems we left the future behind some time ago.

There was a time when the future seemed to stretch out before us as some newly discovered land, unexplored and waiting for out footsteps to make it real. There seemed to be so much out there waiting for us to give it all a name. 

There was a time when these hills we now stand on seemed lost far in the mists of distance, too far away for us to ever know or even reach. Yet here we are now, standing here to look back over those plains and valleys of what used to be, knowing we can never go back. We can never return, no matter how fertile their green lands, no matter that the life we lived there was good and young and filled with the possibilities of future.

We have left all that behind now and we turn our faces towards what lies on the others side of these high hills. We turn to face these new lands that were hidden to our young days and still we wonder about what is yet to come.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Awaiting the Perfect Rejoinder


So, anyway, there we were all poised on the very edge of the cusp of just about to say something about it, when – suddenly – the opportune moment passed and it was all too late….

It does, though, doesn’t it, always seem just the wrong moment to say what we really think about things? It is always a bit too soon, or a bit too late, isn’t it?

Ideally, this is a point where science fiction should meet up with science fact and get their arses into gear and invent some sort of device that can freeze, or rewind time, or – ideally - both.

Just think of it, someone says, or does something, that really, really gets on your tits…. Then, though, you just can’t think of the quip, the cutting remark, the comeback that would really put them in their place. That is, not – as usual – until several hours later at least when, in a sudden moment of inspiration, the perfect comeback comes to you, when it is far, far too late.

In the ideal world all you would then need to do is whip out your gizmo, set the dial for a split-second after the wanker did the foul deed and… and… after whatever noise a machine like that would make… you are back there, and now ready with your perfect comeback…


Or is it…?

What if they too have such a machine? The danger is that time would stumble to a slow juddering halt as each antagonist in several thousand contretemps all around the globe kept pausing time. Followed, moments later, by each one rewinding it just to get the perfect comeback in order to win some petty argument about sport, politics, sex, the perfect biscuit or somesuch thing every time anyone said anything they needed a comeback for, and – in the end – we all long for that perfect comeback all the time, don’t we…?

Don’t we…?

What’s the matter, can’t you think of something to say…?

An Outrage!


Well, really, isn’t the latest outrageous thing really outrageous, never have I been so outraged, well, not since the last tabloid outrage that got me so outraged, anyway. Then there is that disgusting thing all the headlines are screaming about this week, it is just as disgusting as the last time something just as disgusting happened. I’ve a good mind to write a blog post about it – or, perhaps about the outrageous thing. That is if I can stay calm enough to put finger to keyboard without getting overcome with rage about it all and start hammering on the keyboard with my clenched fists while my savage spittle flecks the monitor screen. Neither of which, when it comes down to it, is likely to give me the sparkling prose that will bag me the next Orwell prize, but – hey – what the fuck, this is real, this is blogging in the zone, in the now, in the… er… not getting the all-important hits.

Sometimes though there is something beyond outrageous, shocking, something that goes beyond even cute photos of cute kittens doing cute things with cute captions written in cute LOLbollocks. Sometimes there may even be something beyond politicians being politically mendacious, ego-centric tools, bureaucrats cocking up their latest attempt to mount the bureaucratic equivalent of a piss-up in a brewery and failing in their usual gloriously inept way, it could even go beyond the latest celebrity shag-swap trauma hell drivel.

It could even be interesting.

Whatever it is, there is a very strong possibility that you won’t read it here first – if at all.

When Following Ends


So, it comes to this, days fall down, day after day until there is nothing left and nowhere to go. The road comes to an end and the options run out. Here I stand on the edge of the cliff, the last of the road behind me, and the sea, far below, stretching out beyond the horizon, beyond any place I can see.

There was a time when there would have been people behind me, those that followed me and would have once followed me anywhere; even to here, the place where there is nowhere left to go. Once I had the power to hold them, I only had to reach out my hand and there would be someone there: ready, eager, willing to do whatever I bid.

Now there is no-one and I am alone.

I used to be able to tell them stories, tell them all the things they wanted to hear. I told them of the heroes they longed to be and of the lovers that were waiting for them once they returned to those lands we once called home.

Once I was the hero, the leader, the one who would be king of all he could see and lord of everywhere he wanted.

Now I am alone, the road has run out, and all that lies in front of me is the endless sea.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Cookery for Beginners


Lesson One

  1. Go to the shops.
  2. Buy some food.
  3. Cook it until it is done.
  4. Eat the fucker.

Everything after Now


Here is where it begins. A moment is taken out of the stream of time and is made into a beginning. All that has gone before was just a prelude to this moment. Times that coalesced into what is now a time from where everything that is new will grow. Now is the seed the future will grow from. Everything up to now has been a matter of wind, rain and happenstance that has left this seed of the future ready to grow, to germinate, from this moment.

Everything after now will be the future that grows from this moment, every movement of my hand every flutter of your skin under it, every breath we take and every moment we share in this small room will dictate how our future grows.

We both want it to grow strong all tall under a warm loving sun, we want it to turn to follow the light of many long spring and summer days, to burst into bloom and fill our lives with warm scents and bright colours and turn each future day into a paradise of possibility.

There will be storms though, beyond the refreshing rains; such storms that will churn, rip, destroy and scatter so much on those ravaging winds of time that leave everything torn and battered. We have to hope that what grows from this moment will be strong enough, flexible enough to survive them and to grow beyond this small beginning.

EU Equality Legislation Extended


Now the donkey may look somewhat askance at the dubious nature of your tax returns, but that is the danger of employing a donkey in your auditing department. However, recent research carried out by the Monkey Auditing Bureau has proved – many say conclusively – that monkeys are – overall – rather good at accountancy, with the obvious exception of the spider monkey, of course.

Since the EU most recent ruling that it is illegal to discriminate against any species of animal when offering employment, there has been a revolution – mostly a quiet revolution except for the howler monkeys that stood for parliament at the last election – in the employment sector. This can be seen especially in the number of rats and other vermin now entering the estate agency profession, something that has boosted the status of estate agents in the eyes of the public, moving them from the bottom of the list of likeable professions. Something similar has happened to journalism, where the actual number of monkeys with typewriters, thanks to new technology, has been diminishing rapidly over the last few decades, with most tabloid journalism nowadays produced by amoebas and other single-celled organisms and other such creatures that lack the higher brain functions.

Of course, those of us with an interest in politics are looking forward to the next general election where it seems – thanks to this new EU legislation - the UK could have its first-ever great bustard as prime minister, instead of at the moment where all three main political parties are all led by tits.