Google+ A Tangled Rope: 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sympathy for the Devil

Well, there I was standing at the crossroads feeling at a bit of a loss, when he showed up.

I must admit I was surprised.

“Hey up,” he said.

I don't know what surprised me more, the fact that he actually existed, or the fact of his broad Yorkshire accent. His red skin seemed to glow in the cold night air and there seemed to be smoke curling around his hooves.

“Can I help you?” he said in the oleaginous manner of an over-eager car salesman, which was a bit ironic considering why I was standing at the crossroads.

“I dunno,“ I said. “My car's buggered.” I nodded towards where the car stood, bonnet up and smoke pouring from a very knackered engine.

“Ah,” he said. “Actually, to be honest, our kid, I'm not that hot on mechanical things. A bit after my time, if you know what mean?”

I nodded slowly and turned to walk away.

I'd hardly gone a dozen yards before he stopped me.

“I could help in other ways, y'know... for the usual fee?”

I turned.

Not that I'd ever had much use out of my soul as far as I could see. But if he existed – and he seemed to be doing rather a good job at it – then maybe the other one would exist too. I glanced heavenward.

“Oh, don't worry about Him up there,” my new best friend said strolling up to me and putting a rather warm arm around my shoulder. “He buggered off millennia ago... easily bored, that's him Once he's created something and got it working, more or less, he loses interest. Anyway, as I was saying....”

“Hang on,” I said. “What's with the Yorkshire accent?”

“Well... You've heard Yorkshire called God's own county?”


“It's true. Obviously, I used to work there before we... He.... Well, before our little misunderstanding, so obviously I have the accent.”

“But I thought he banished you, y'know, to the other place?”

“Yes. He did. You've been to Leeds?”

“Oh, yes I have. I See... fair point.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Newcomers


I suppose it had to happen one day. But we didn't expect it here, not yet, not so soon.

Some of them arrived a few weeks ago and set up home down on the shore, not all that far from where we live. Shallan said it was the end, that everything was over now for this planet and that we should move before they destroy everything.

I must admit, at first I thought she was overreacting, but now I have seen those... those Earthlings... humans, they like to call themselves, I'm beginning to think Shallan had a point.

I mean, they are supposed to be an intelligent race, but none of them seems to have fur, not that we can see anyway. Thresa said she thinks they must shave it off, for some reason. I'm not so sure. Obviously they must be ashamed of not having fur, for why else would they cover themselves up all the time with those bits of rag they drape over themselves?

Of course, it didn't take long for the rumours to start.

Krillec came rushing home from the learning dome saying that her Learning Facilitator had told her group that the humans practised sexual reproduction. Obviously, we all laughed, thinking it was a joke. At least, we thought it was a joke until Krillec showed us her learning tablet.

“This is something I must see,” Shallan said at the day's end meal, everyone else agreed.

Unfortunately, we could never – it seemed – catch the humans in the act, not that we were sure what that act really entailed. Krillec's learning tablet was rather vague on the details.

Still, we are determined that one day we will catch them doing it and record it all. That video of it is bound to be a massive hit on the Universal Net. After all, as far as we can see there seems to be no videos of humans doing sex on the whole of the Universal Net. We all agree there must be some videos of them doing it somewhere out there, we just wonder where it all is.

Monday, August 29, 2011

High On Your Hill Of Remembering


Seasons rise and then fall. Days appear on the horizon and draw closer. Although, before you can take them into your hand, and begin to shape them around you, they have gone, each one taken on the wind, far out of your reach, never to return.

You can turn, there high on your hill of remembering, to look back over that landscape of former days. Seeing it all now spread out far below and out of reach, you know no matter how you try to run down your hill towards those former days they will always be beyond anything you can do to touch them once again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Magic Carpet Ride

“What is it?” I said, already thinking I knew the answer.

“It's a carpet.”


“A magic carpet!”


“It is... honestly... would I lie to y... well, it is a magic carpet. Not a word of a lie.”

“What, you mean flying... all that Arabian Nights stuff?”



“Come on, then?”



“I'm not going to fight you about it. If you want to think you've got a magic carpet... well, that's fine with me. I'll just be off.”

“No, not that. I'm going to show you....”

“Show me what?” I'd heard rumours.

“Come on,” he said. “I'll prove to you that it is a magic carpet.”

“I'll have to warn you...,” I said, laughing as I followed him out through the back of the shop out into the loading bay. “... I don't like heights.”

We sat down together on the carpet in the traditional manner. Him cross-legged at the front, me kneeling behind him, feeling like a tit, and giggling.

“You won't be laughing in a minute,” he said.

He was right.

A minute later I was puking over the edge of the carpet down onto the town far below us. “I told... I told you I don't like heights,” I managed to croak in-between the bouts of vomiting. It didn't help that there was a hole in the carpet I could look down at the town through, and that if I dared to look up I was immediately hit in the face by what seemed to be thousands of flying insects.

Not to mention the helicopter.

Not that I didn't try, but I'm sure he never heard it over the sound of the wind rushing past our faces, and having to fight off the swarms of insects.

Still we – sort of – managed to land with most of the carpet intact.

Although, I'm sure the flight engineers will no doubt have to ask the pilot why he has fragments of shredded carpet entangled in his rotors.

In the end I decided against buying the flying carpet after all, even when the price was reduced due to helicopter damage.

Like I said: I don't like heights.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Toast of the Gods


But still we had all those smaller pieces of the once-mighty toast of the gods, but we had no butter and very little marmalade. It had been a long and dangerous journey to the heart of a lost civilisation, which – as it is often the case with lost civilisations – was deep in the heart of an almost impenetrable jungle. A jungle filled with the deadliest creatures on the planet, who in an eat-or-be-eaten arms-race had become some of the most fearsome creatures in the known universe, including the dread Estate Agents of Earth, a fearsome - and some say, mythical - tribe of the primitive Earth beings who – it is said - will cause untold suffering to those unwary enough to search for a desirable residence on that planet.

However, we knew that the toast of the gods was no myth. Many ancient records speak of the great toasting fork of the gods, and in later centuries the automatic toaster of the gods, as well as the vast fields needed to keep the enormous herds of cows necessary to produce the butter to keep the toast buttered, and the fabled orange marmalade orchard which was once said to cover almost an entire continent of that planet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Disuse of Hats


At the time it seemed as though none of our hats would be suitable. Over the preceding decades - for reasons historians still had fistfights over in the car parks of this once great nation – people had, more or less, stopped wearing hats. However, this was not the case with the penguins, for they still found hats very useful , or at least, so they claimed.

You, though, had your deerstalker, but the less said about those kinds of rather dubious endeavours the better, especially as his antlers often got caught in the hedges when he was trying to observe you from a safe distance, especially when you were out in your garden, stark naked and dead-heading your petunias.

I, of course, had my trusty bowler hat, but the bowler kept demanding it back, so I thought some other titfer would be more appropriate, if not more becoming. I have often thought about a flat cap, but those are not the sort of imaginings one would like to share with other people, especially not with the number of trainee nurses and the excessive amount of baby oil such imaginings necessarily entail.

All in all then, one would have to say that, no matter how straightforward and simple it seems on the surface, such a decision about what hat would be appropriate, therefore turns out to be not that simple at all. Perhaps that then is the reason for the hat to so suddenly fall out of fashion, and if any historian wishes to question my reasoning and conclusions then I will be in the car park... waiting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Furry Pink Slippers


‘Good Morning, fellow student!’ Ron cried as I walked into the kitchen the following morning.

‘Hello, how long have you been up?’ As I filled the kettle, I risked a glance inside it. Was that stuff moving? It was certainly growing. I shuddered and turned the kettle on.

‘Not long, but long enough to meet Margot. She's gone out to run a marathon, or practice to run a marathon, or to be run over by a marathon… something involving a marathon, anyway. She was talking for ages; she just goes on and on. You stop listening after a while and you drift off. When you come back she's still going.’

‘So, I see you have a lot in common then?’


‘You both have bollocks? Well, that's something else you have in common then.’ I gave Ron a mug of coffee and sat down with my own. I rolled a cigarette. Ron picked up my tin, glancing up at me. I nodded and Ron rolled himself a cigarette and lit it.

‘I'm going to buy a paper,’ Ron said a few minutes later as he finished his coffee.

I put my empty cup down next to his. ‘I'll come for a walk with you. I'll get myself a paper as well.’


Ron bought milk and sugar from the shop along with his paper. Back at the house again, we sat each side of the kitchen table and sorted out the readable sections of our newspapers. When we had done this, the discarded pile was higher than the piles in front of each of us. For a while, we read, drank coffee and smoked in near silence. The only sound was turning pages and the sigh of relief at the end of each section.

I could feel the traditional Sunday torpor creeping over me. I leaned back against the wall and lit a cigarette. Ron was reading the Business section. I thought about commenting on it. How anyone could find anything of interest in that section amazed me. But Ron was studying Economics, maybe that explained it. Dismal reading for dismal scientists.

Alison came in, her hair wet from the shower. She was wearing an old white dressing gown and bright pink fluffy slippers. Ron looked up from his paper and noticed the slippers. He opened his mouth to speak. She wagged her finger at him and he closed his mouth.

Alison turned on the kettle and sat down next to me. ‘Oh, there's a pub up the road a bit that does Sunday lunches. It's very good and very cheap. Do you two want to go?’

‘Cheap?’ Ron said. ‘My favourite word. Yes, I'll go.’

‘Yes, okay,’ I said. ‘I don't fancy cooking anything, anyway.’

Ron closed his paper and stood up. ‘I suppose the bathroom is free now?’ He said to Alison. She nodded as Ron walked around the table to take a closer look at her furry pink slippers.

‘Ron,’ she warned.

‘Not a word. Not a word,’ Ron said as he walked to the door. At the door, he turned and pointed. Covering his face with his hand, he bent double and shook as if in laughter. He glanced up and saw Alison searching for something to throw. He ran and the door slammed behind him.

[Extract from Hanging Around Until]


The No First Use of the Banjo Treaty


There were times when some of us even began to consider the use of the tambourine. Fortunately the crisis was over long before such a deployment became necessary. Even so, there was talk of reneging on our signing of the No First Use of the Banjo Treaty signed all those years ago when it seemed that a war of mutually-assured destruction involving banjos, ukuleles, even accordions or the dread bagpipes was almost inevitable.

Of course, those were different times when competing ideologies vied with each other for control of the world. Nowadays, instead, we have reality television and the alleged doings of celebrities to keep the populations of our countries from paying too much attention to what the political leaders - and the real rulers of the planet - are getting up to.

After all, what is a mere lifetime of pointless wage-slavery compared to the chance of finding out what some talentless bimbo in the last seconds of her fifteen minutes of fame doesn't wear under her skirt when she goes out at night? Such things would have undoubtedly changed the minds, and therefore the theories, of so many of the great philosophers of the past, if only – in their day – they had access to hundreds of up-the-skirt shots of so many young - and sometimes slightly more attractive than average - young women.

Monday, August 22, 2011

TV Interview Techniques


Of course, it was round... except where at the one end it tapered slightly, making it look a bit like one of those other beings you see on the telly, except for the fur – obviously - and the fact that it was blue. Then there was its tendency to squeak in a slightly distressed manner when in the near vicinity of a politician. However, I suppose we can all understand, and – perhaps – sympathise with that.

Obviously enough, everyone immediately presumed it was some sort of alien, some sort of creature, from another planet.

Which it was, obviously.

Even in the genetic backwaters of the human race, nothing like that has ever really developed, not even after several generations of incestuous interbreeding, so it seemed unlikely that it was human, or - given that it had got a job on the TV – near human.

There was – as soon as it conducted its first in-depth interview - some rather robust editorials and feature articles in the various newspapers asking why a creature from another planet had managed to get a peak-time chat show on national TV, especially given its tendency to squeak intermittently when interviewing politicians. After its first show, many of the tabloids demanded that it either did, or didn't, immediately start anal probing on selected politicians on live TV.

Such was the speculation about the anal probing that the alien's agent had to release a press statement saying that the alien – who everyone was now calling Henrietta (although that wasn't her name – her name actually translated out as Steve) – pointing out that she (he... maybe) was not from a race that routinely practised anal probings on other intelligent species, or even humans.

Strangely enough that seemed to disappoint many viewers and there was an immediate slump in Henrietta's viewing figures that took several weeks to recover.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Plans for World Domination


Of course, it is not always easy to fully extend the taxiing area for your fleet of ground attack forces without drawing some undue attention to your surreptitious plans for world domination. This is why the average criminal mastermind with megalomaniac desires to control the planet does tend to undertake operations from a remote volcanic island, usually one especially prepared for such a purpose.

Although, one does wonder how he does manage to get the builders in and get the base completed without any spy satellite – for example – picking up the scaffolding and so on from space, or any intelligence agency noticing how a supposedly uninhabited island is getting through so much tea... and sugar.

Then there is the horde of minions that running such a base necessarily entails, after all you can't really advertise the job in the local press, can you? The people applying for those jobs too must realise that thy are basically just cannon fodder and that their long-term job prospects are not very good with career advancement lasting only until the secret agent from some western power shows up and blows them all to buggery in the concluding climax of explosions, destructions and mayhem before he goes off to shag the girl.

Then, of course there is getting the local authority planning permission for a secret base... how would you go about that?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Wisdom of Nhigel


“So, anyway, what I'm saying is...” the Prophet Nhigel said, pausing for a moment to make sure the holy mates of Nhigel were listening to the wisdom of his words “ that a wise man, a man of the book, a holy man, will always make sure he has enough for a pint.”

The Mates of Nhigel all nodded wisely for they – to a man – knew the danger of taking issue with Nhigel in theological debate, especially before Opening Time.

“But..?” Fat Paul said.

“What, my son?” Nhigel replied, smiling upon his disciple. “Do not be afraid to speak... for how else can we attain wisdom? That is, unless you are going to say something so stupid that will just get you a kicking?”

“I was just wondering,” Fat Paul mused. “You know that you said the Lord will provide? I mean, what if he's on the bog or having a kip or what have you... y'know, when you're in need of his help.” Fat Paul cowered, taking a step away from Nhigel, just in case.

“An excellent point, my son.” Nhigel beamed at Fat Paul. “One that has puzzled many a theological scholar, particularly after last orders, when it seems that the Lord himself has forsaken us. Especially when the takeaway is so far from the pub. So, gather around my brethren and I will explain the wonders and mysterious ways in which our Lord provides for us, his children.”

Just then the pub doors opened in front of Nhigel and his mates.

“Behold, A Miracle!” They all yelled, heading for the bar as Nhigel smiled to himself, knowing that through the wisdom and beneficence of the Lord he would not be buying the first round.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Parking Problems


Then, of course, we didn't really know what to do with it. After all, when was the last time you were visited by an alien?

I mean, obviously we had the problem of finding somewhere to park his/her/its vehicle. After all, this is rather a quiet suburban street where one of the major preoccupations of everyone is complaining about some of the neighbours parking their cars in the wrong places and causing inconvenience to the rest of us. So you can imagine the number of problems that an interplanetary craft would cause.

Luckily, however, when the problem was explained to him/her/it (it did - once we got to know each other a bit better – show us its genitals, in the interests of science, obviously, but even that left us none the wiser) helpfully park it in orbit around the moon for the duration of its visit. That was, we all agreed later, something of rather a good idea and we are seriously considering bringing it up at the next local council meeting when they discuss the town centre and its interminable traffic problems.

Although, admittedly, it will be a long way to walk to get to your car, especially when carrying shopping, as Earth technology currently lacks the remote parking and manoeuvring technology that the alien used to park its ship. However, we feel that is a mere detail that willing minds could soon overcome.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teach Me Not to Care


‘You bastard!’

It isn't easy to look up in terrified guilty shock while a naked woman is sitting on your face, but Pete tried it. His physical reaction to the sound of Helena's voice threw the woman off him. She landed in an untidy heap on the far side of the bed - luckily for her the far side, away from Helena.

Pete had discovered by then that Helena had a habit of throwing things. She was usually and dangerously accurate too.

‘I… I… I….’ Pete instinctively shielded his genitals with his hands and crossed his thighs.

‘Who the fuck is the little tart?’ Helena yelled. ‘She looks like that bitch who did the make-up for the album cover!’

The woman down by the bed peeped over the side, like a nervous sentry in a trench.

‘Sharon? No, it isn't her. This is Cindy, her sister.’ Pete didn't know why he said it, but the pedantry felt like a small victory. He pulled back the sheets from the bottom of the bed, revealing another woman curled up in as tight a ball as she could manage. ‘This is Sharon. And she is not a tart.’ Pete almost gave in to the urge to stand up and gather the sisters to his side like some Victorian gentleman protecting the virtue of his daughters. He could feel a self-justificatory anger growing inside him at the way Helena had destroyed their innocent afternoon idyll. ‘Or a bitch.’

Helena stood there, her mouth opening and closing slowly, but making no sound. Not attempting to throw anything, or shout or scream, just seemingly stunned, shell-shocked and defeated, she turned and strode out of the bedroom.

A moment later, the front door slammed. The sisters began to gather their clothes, avoiding eye contact with Pete. He lit a cigarette.

‘You don't have to go.’ It was a half-hearted gesture.

‘I think we do,’ Sharon said. ‘Things like this don't work when they get too real.’

Pete sat, watching the sisters dressing. It was suddenly as impersonal as a changing room. He felt ridiculous, sitting there - still with half a hard-on - while the sisters brushed their hair and straightened sleeves and hems.

They were ready to go finally. They looked at each other, then at Pete.

‘Well,’ Cindy said.

‘I'm… we…. ‘ Sharon glanced at Cindy before turning back to Pete. ‘We… we're… sorry. We only meant to have a bit of fun - that's all.’ She shrugged helplessly. Sharon took a step towards him, paused, and then changed her mind. She turned and left the room.

Pete looked up at Cindy. She smiled and shrugged. ‘I….’ Then she turned and left.

Pete must have sat there for a while. It was dark when he finally came back from wherever his mind had wandered. He could see her silhouette in the doorway. He didn't know how long she had been standing there.

‘You are a bastard.’

‘Yes, I know.’

‘I ought to walk out. Fuck off. Leave you and never come back.’ She walked towards him. ‘I'm going to regret doing this. Not now, later.’ She walked right up to Pete, bent down and kissed him, deeply.

She pushed Pete back onto the bed. Her clothes felt rough on his naked skin.

‘I'm sor….’

‘Don't try to apologise,’ she said. ‘We both know you don't mean it.’

‘But I do love you.’

Her sigh seemed loud in the darkness. ‘You really believe that, don't you?’

‘Yes. Yes, I do.’

‘No, you don't love me. You don't love anyone or anything. That is half, more than half, the attraction.’

‘What is?’

Helena was silent for a moment or two as she slipped her clothes off. ‘You don't let anything get close, do you? Even now, at a time like this, I get the feeling that you are not here on this bed with me. I see you over there, in the corner watching. This is probably going to be another one of your bloody songs.’

‘But… so why did you come back then?’

‘I don't know. Maybe part of it is seeing if I can break through to that place where you live.’ She sat up. ‘Maybe it is envy. Maybe I want to see the world as you do. Maybe that is why I chose the camera. It puts distance between me and the world - separates me from it. When I look at things through the viewfinder, they are not so close. I can't touch them, they can't touch, get at me. I feel safe. Maybe I want you to teach me how not to care.’

[An extract from Dance on Fire by David Hadley]



And so it came, suddenly, out of the sky like a... like a... like a great big fiery wombat... No, not a wombat.. what's that thing a bit like a wombat, but it's made out of rock and can flatten a whole forest to buggery?

No, not an overweight politician....

Not the mother-in-law, either. Especially not in this politically-correct climate we now find ourselves in, where mother-in-law jokes are regarded as... well, as a bit old-fashioned.

Although, nothing looks so out-of-date as someone sneering at something they regard as old-fashioned.

Of course, though, if you are the sort of person who wants to sport fashionable attitudes and adopt all the current fashionable causes and attitudes then you will – almost by definition – find those of us who feel no need to be in with the in-crowd as some sort of wombat... No, not wombat, what is that thing where you live in a cave and wear a terribly unethical and probably ecologically unsustainable fur loincloth.

No, not a politician, that other thing that shows unreconstructed attitudes and outdated social mores?

TV sports programme presenter... yes, that's it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What Remains of Memory


What remains in these places after we are gone? Will our ghosts haunt these tangled sheets that we leave behind in this anonymous room, looking for a home? Will the memory of how our bodies met, skin against skin, echo back to taunt every lonely traveller who follows us to this room.

Perhaps in some other reality that lies at angles to this one we never leave this room at all, but remain here entangled with each other forever.

You and I have lives that do not meet, except for these few hours we spend in this room that lies apart, outside, our lives. They used to be our real lives until we met and carved out this separate place, this new life that is now to each of us far more real than those other lives we haunt as ghosts of our former selves.

It is as though those former lives are lost to us now, out of reach, beyond touch. We pass through them, like ghosts pass through walls , in order to be here together. We know too that when these times are over, we must go back to those lives. Then, when we do, it will be as ghosts haunting them until we can come back to this small room and be alive and real again.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Putting It In Her Mouth


Of course, it was totally and completely her idea to put it in her mouth. Perhaps I could have suggested some other way for her to win the award, but I was otherwise engaged at the time.

Well, at least the donkey was pleased, which is more than I can say for the market trader who sold her the cricket bat in the first place. However, many of us called as witnesses for the prosecution did agree that it was what you come to expect, given the state of the education system in this country these days.

That, and the way some people wantonly display their begonias in the most lurid manner, far beyond what would be considered decent in other European countries.

Anyway, so she had the ping-pong ball and a pair of fur-lined mittens, so we thought we were well-prepared for all eventualities, but these days you do not expect such things as half-day closing, not any more. So you can see that she could at least plead some form of provocation, and having said that, the carpet fitter was not the sort of person who you would normally expect to discover hiding in the bushes next to the canal tow-path, especially during such inclement weather.

After all that, though, she was relieved when they dropped all the charges after agreeing the bribe she offered was more that satisfactory, that is if she promised to put it back in her mouth for each of them in turn.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How the River Flows


As the time passes and as this river flows on by, the days are marked by how the river flows. Sometimes it is full and heavy; the waters churned muddy brown as the river hurries by eager to get on, needing to get to the sea. Then there are the slow days when the river seems uninterested in going anywhere, happy to spend the day with you, letting time pass with no real need to be anywhere at all. Then there are the hot dry days when the river seems hardly here at all, as though it has grown tired of the same routine and gone off elsewhere, just leaving the barest memory of its passing, the dry banks either side of it.

The days here are like the river too, matching its moods: frantic days, slow days and days that hardly seem to be here at all and leave no trace on the memory. She – when she was here - was like the river too, with her wild days and her calm days, days filled with all the possibilities and days when even walking down to see the river's mood seemed too much for her.

Now she is gone, there is a drought and all I have are her absences to remember her by, the marks of her passing by she left on the landscape of my life, like that dry, cracked ground over which the river used to run before it all dried up and she went away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Extravagantly Over-Choreographed Mornings


Typical, isn't it?

The way you step out of the house first thing in the morning and there you see what seems like several hundred people including local council employees such as bin-men and road-sweepers along with meter readers, water company employees, doctors and nurses from the NHS and rank upon rank of people employed in several other various public service occupations. Usually you normally only see them engaged in their jobs, or out on strike.

However, this morning they seem to be performing an elaborate dance routine that takes up the whole width of your road with some of them even spilling out across the adjacent gardens.

So, you presume, it must be Wednesday then.

Of course, what the choreographers and other such organisers of these events never seem to take account of is the fact that some people – such as yourself – have an urgent need to get to the newsagent, which entails worming your way through the terpsichorean maelstrom in order to purchase your morning newspaper.

Once, just once, you think as you decline the offer of a dance partnering yet another nurse, it would be nice if people could just go about their daily routines without making such a song and dance out if it.

Still, though, when you eventually do get to the newsagent, you have to admit it was rather a catchy tune.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Pickle-Recognition Wall Chart


Obviously, by now you should all have received your official government-issued and EU-mandated Pickle-Recognition wall chart which must – by EU law – be displayed in every room where there is a possibility of unrecognised pickles being dispensed.

It is claimed, mainly by EU bureaucrats, that this will lead to a far greater efficiency at meal times throughout the EU and will streamline the currently haphazard snack-time experience throughout the EU. Those same Eurocrats are also confidently discussing the future introduction of a common EU-wide evening snack experience, possibly featuring the pickled onion, although not without some initial resistance from the French.

However, despite, some of the more obvious benefits of a Europe-wide standard of pickle recognition, especially at, say, summer buffets where hesitation in front of the pickled beetroot and pickled cabbage can sometimes cause complete buffet-wide gridlock, many in Europe feel that this is just another case of the European parliament having too much time on its hands and just desperately searching around for more things it can legislate on, solely in order to justify its own existence.

On the other hand, though, those of you torn between the picked onion, the piccalilli and the sweet pickle when contemplating what would be the ideal accompaniment for your pork pie, say during,a particularly griping late-night film, will – quite possibly – be grateful for any advice, even if it does come from the EU – that will help you make up your mind before the advert-break is over.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Wrapped and Tangled


Where there is no time the moments hang heavy in the air, making it thick, dense, like some tropical atmosphere that makes it hard to breathe and every movement becomes a struggle as much against the self and its torpor as with the weight and heat of the air.

Each of us lies defeated back on these tangled sheets, struggling back to some semblance of normal breathing, our bodies barely touching as though the earlier closeness when it seemed they had become one single writhing form on this anonymous bed has separated them again into two distinct beings as if that closeness violated some force meant to keep bodies apart.

Already those few moments before are escaping from us. We turn to wrap ourselves around each other once again, knowing that soon time will begin again and we will have to separate even further to walk away back into our own very separate lives. Lives where we live almost as two entirely different beings and where the times we share here, where time itself stays outside the door, are never acknowledged or mentioned, merely remembered when there is no-one else around to notice we are travelling away from that moment into another far different place and time.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Not the Blue One with the Fur


It’s a bit like one of those things, y'know? Obviously not the blue one with the fur all down the... well, you know what I mean. I don't have to draw a diagram.

Although, if I did have to draw a diagram, I'd want better pencils than this. I mean, really, come on, this is indeed the century of non-consensual free-form hamster tickling after all... or is that next week? I seem to have mislaid my diary.

Anyway, as I wasn't saying, this is indeed a time of great change and opportunity, especially someone as relaxed about public nudity as your good self, especially when allied to your almost insatiable sexual curiosity and deep interest in the erotic use of the soup ladle.

Obviously, now we should be discussing the burning issues of the day, otherwise what is the point of you donning quite so much erotic fetish gear, and peeling the peaches, but still I wonder if we should not pause, at least for a slice or two of cheese on toast before it is too late?

Even then I'm not quite sure if we will need the unicycle, or the brace of performing quantity surveyors, at least at this juncture. Still, as they say in the deepest darkest heart of the Walsall jungle: 'fucked if I know.'

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Writing it Down

When the time is right we will know. Each day opens out before us like a new blank page, waiting for us to begin writing the story of that day upon it. There used to be times when we could fill each new page of the day with so many young adventures, when there was so much to do and the days stretched out waiting to be filled with possibilities.

As we grew older though our pages began to be filled with other stories, other lives, and we wrote only what we had to to get through that day. A routine inscribed in a routine way.

Now, though, those others have gone off to write on the pages of their own lives, leaving us here with only stories to tell each other, but our pages are not blank and empty of possibility. Now we are finding new stories, new tales to tell and finding old stories to tell in a new way. Our daily pages grow heavily into a book that will one day tell us everything we thought we knew.

One day, we will sit out in that sunny garden, reading back over all those pages we filled and we will have to wonder if they tell the whole story, or if there was something else, something we missed, while we were busy writing it all down.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Nothing Lasts Forever


Well, thinking about it... nah, why bother?

Let's just turn the telly on and wait for it to go away. Everything does, in the end, go away. Nothing lasts forever, as far as we know, not even those interminable phone calls from relatives that happen at the most inconvenient times and go into minute detail about everything you couldn't really give a shit about, until it feels like she's stuffing cotton wool into your ear with a road drill, so much inconsequential fluff driven into your head by a voice that could easily be used by western intelligence agencies as a less humane form of interrogation than water-boarding the next time they want to invent a terrorist threat.

It seems odd – at times – that the world is contracted thus, so full of petty irritations and minor annoyances, that – if you were ever desperate enough to perform the shabby intellectual compromises that such a move necessarily entails – you could almost believe there are such things as gods, and the one we seem lumbered with is some kind of trickster one who thinks practical jokes and pettifogging annoyances are the height of humour and sophistication.

Still, though, even relatives – sooner or later – shut up and go away, much like all those gods did... eventually.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

About Romance... About Love


Ah, sheep. That one sheep in particular. I always felt there was something special, unique, about Dolly even when she was just a mere lamb. The way she would look at me with those big dark brown eyes. The little ‘Baa’ of welcome when she saw me on the hillside. The way she would look away with some kind of hurt in her eyes when she saw I was wearing ‘those’ wellies and heading towards one of the older sheep.

Of course, one day she too was old enough and she saw me walking towards her wearing my special ‘romantic’ wellies. Unlike the others she did not run, she did not hide. She stood there on the brow of that windswept hillside, staring at me as she chewed on some grass. I’m sure she smiled.

Afterwards, she did not ‘baaa’ and run like all the others, she lay down beside me and rested her head in my lap, looking up at me with those eyes. Eyes that made me, would make you, regret that things like mint sauce, kebabs and chops had ever been invented. Eyes that told so much of long lonely nights on that cold bare hillside, of lonely baaing at an indifferent moon, at other sheep who just did not understand about dreams, about romance and... yes, about love.

[Taken from Tales of the Unexpurgated by David Hadley – available here]

Looking for the Sea


There are reasons why and there are reasons why not. There are always reasons, there are always options, there are always choices. There are all these crossroads leading this way and that, left or right. We do not know which way to go, which way to turn. The hedges at the sides of what is left of these roads are overgrown and thick, too dense to see through, too dense to see what is up ahead, around the next corner, let alone what lies off in one direction or another.

We are – we hope – heading south – more or less - whenever the roads let us move in such a straightforward direction. Often it is a choice between roads that lead away in opposing directions, neither one indicating whether they will take us further south, or if we'll be heading in another direction altogether.

We did try walking across the field, the open ground, but that was harder, much harder now that everything is so overgrown. The roads themselves have often fallen into ruin and we find ourselves following the skeleton of a road, the ghost of a road, the memory of a road, rather than any road itself.

We are heading south, looking for the sea, although none of us knows what we will do once we get there and run out of road altogether.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Summer Only


I remember her only in summer and the sun in her hair. We never did get to share the dark days of winter. I never had to give her my coat to wear when she shivered in the sharp wind and icy rain. Our breath did not meet and mingle in smoky clouds, and I never did get to know how cold her nose would be on frosty mornings.

A Sea of Troubles


Sometimes it gets to hard to care. Sometimes it seems better to turn away from the world, let it all flow on around you while you sit back and let it happen. Times when taking arms against a sea of trouble seems... well, more trouble than it is worth.

After all, what has this world ever done for you? Especially after all you have done for it? Where is the gratitude, the appreciation? You could have been off enjoying yourself, but instead you turned up for duty day after day, always... well, nearly always on time, and – if not quite ready – at least willing to give it a go.

Then, what happened?

After you had shown willing, or – at least – not that reluctant, what did this bloody world do, but pour more shit over you, poured more crap and bollocks your way until it seemed that you were no longer swimming, but drowning.

Then you decided enough was enough, and that if this was life, then sod it. You turned away, turned back to your own life, thinking that if you kept your head down, just got on with getting on with it, then the world would leave you alone, leave you in peace. It wasn't much of a life, but – at least – it was a quiet one.

It didn't work out like that, though... did it?