Google+ A Tangled Rope: 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The High Tower

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When I first saw her, walking through this land I spread out for her, I thought I wanted her to be free, to be able to walk these hills and valleys and wander down to the stream to bathe each morning. I thought I had created the perfect world for her, that she could have the perfect life here.

After a while, though, I found she was wandering afar, going right to the edges of this world I’d made for her, constantly scanning the hillsides and searching the skies for something.

I realised then that she was alone. I thought I would be enough for her. That the obvious care and consideration I’d shown in building this landscape would be enough to show her that I loved her and wanted only her happiness.

I did not expect that she would turn away from all I‘d made and given to her, to go searching for someone else, to look around for someone like her.

I thought of going down there myself, stepping into her world, becoming the one that she searched for endlessly. Something stopped me. I was scared that maybe she would reject me, turn on me, see this paradise I had built for her as nothing more than a prison that she must escape.

Eventually, after watching her as she wandered further and further away, as she became more and more desperate to escape, I had no choice.

I built the castle.

Even then, she would wander restlessly from room to room; clamber up on the battlements to search horizons, to long for and to hope.

Now, she sits all day in that room I created for her at the top of the tallest tower, staring out of that small window, hoping that one day her rescuer will come.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Poem: Distances Between

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Distances Between

Distance is always the space
in-between places and times.

We talk of distance and only speak
of the absence of closeness.

It could be so easy, if only
we allowed time to stand still

as we move between moments
as we move between places

we find hidden in the lost regions
beyond the edges of all our maps.

We take these routes into distance
seeking some new unknown land

far from the crowds of history
and all those mistakes we made

when we were too young to know
how to turn back and walk away.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

When the North Men Came

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I did not want to become an adventurer, a traveller, a sometimes soldier of fortune, but when the Northmen came they took away my life, my home, my world. All I had when the Northmen left, were the clothes I stood up in, the smouldering ashes of the village that had been my home and most of the world I’d known up until then, and the bodies of my family and neighbours to bury. They had taken the young women, my sisters and the girls from whom I would have chosen a wife. All I had was the spade I’d taken into the woods that morning, to dig a grave for my old dog in his favourite hunting place, and my father’s ash-covered sword that I sat and polished once all the bodies had been buried and I waited for my life to begin again.

For a time, I thought about going north, going against the Northmen, rescuing the women of our village and killing all the Northmen. I knew, of course, that would end in only my pointless death, but in those early days, I would have welcomed my death. I wanted to avoid having to make this new life, having to grow up before I was ready.

Eventual, some few uncounted days and sleepless nights later, I packed up what few useful things I had taken from the ashes of my old world and turned towards the south. I set off, without anything but memories, without wanting to look back, walking into this new life.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sail Me Away

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I would have spoken to her about distance and I would have spoken to her about silence. She was away, though, lost deep in her dreams while I waited on the shore of the morning for the tide of light to come easing through the window and sail me away towards the day.

I would have spoken to her about my dreams too, about those dark corridors and tunnels I had stumbled down, those dark forests I had run through, either to get away from something, or to find something. The dreams had not been that clear, one moment I felt as though I was fleeing, another I felt I was approaching something; something I both feared and desired.

I did not know.

I did not know whether to burrow down under the sheets again, knowing that like all our nights together, when she felt my presence there, next to her in her sleep she would ease her sleeping body as close to mine as she could. Even now, in her sleep her one hand held my cock, held me in the bed by her side.

So many nights I had woken, feeling caught by something to find her lying behind me, her arms wrapped around me, or sleeping on my chest, or with her hand holding me as now, as though she expected me to run away from her, to leave her and run towards something that lay beyond this bed, leaving her alone.

Then, as dawn broke through the curtains, like the waves I could hear down on the beach below, I knew she was right and how much I wanted to be gone.

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Kindle Short Story: Twisting the Night Away

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(Short story – 5,000 words approx.)

If you want to get an ex-girlfriend back, what could be a better way of impressing her than a magic carpet ride through the night to a romantic evening together in some alternate dimension?

Twisting the Night Away

‘What is it?’ I said, already thinking I knew the answer.

‘It's a carpet.’

‘Hmm....’

‘A magic carpet!’

‘Bollocks!’

‘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?’

‘Yes.’

‘Bollocks!’

‘Come on, then?’

‘What?’

‘Outside....’

‘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 about this strange little shop.

‘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 felt like 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 stopping myself from 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 engineer will no doubt want 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.

There was one thing, though, that stopped me leaving his shop.

‘So, this being a… Magic Shop, am I to take it to mean that you don’t mean… er… conjuring tricks: rabbits, top hats and so on?’

The shop owner nodded. ‘I’m Morgan, by the way.’ He held out his hand.

I hesitated.

‘No tricks,’ Morgan said. ‘I promise.’ He smiled.

‘Tony,’ I said as I shook his hand. He held it for a moment longer than I thought really necessary while his eyes studied my face.

‘What?’ I said. ‘Have I got something on my face?’ As far as I could remember I hadn’t eaten anything that day which would leave a mark and usually I’m pretty good at getting almost all my food in my mouth. I wondered if one of those flying insects was smeared bloodily all over me.

‘No.’ Morgan shook his head as he let go of my hand. ‘You have the look, Tony.’

‘What look?’ I glanced around for a mirror, eager to see this look I apparently had.

Morgan tuned to a doorway which had one of those bead curtains instead of a door, he held it aside with one hand while he gestured me into the room beyond with the other.

‘You are a Twister,’ he said.

‘A what?’

‘A Twister.’ Once inside the room he sat on an easy chair and pointed to the sofa.

I sat. ‘A… twis… a twister?’

Morgan nodded. ‘This is not my world. I am out of place, far from home.’ He smiled at me. ‘I twisted another world to the shapes I wanted, took the facts of it and altered it... and, well, I ended up here.’ He sat forward, his elbows on his thighs. ‘Look, all the worlds we inhabit are much a creation of our minds as they are, separate and apart from us.’ He raised his eyebrows.

I nodded, feeling relaxed in his company, despite the fact he was talking utter bollocks. The magic carpet, though, had not been bollocks. It had been real. Far too real, I still felt queasy and had to keep touching the solidity of things: my hands on the sofa arms, my feet on the floor, my body pressed against the seat. I needed that reassurance of solidity.

‘What most people do not know though..,’ Morgan said, leaning back in his chair again. ‘…is that the world is not only a creation of the mind, it can also be changed, re-created by the mind.’

I nodded slowly, not really believing, but wanting him to go on.

‘Most people do not know how to change, how to alter, this world to make it turn into something else: some new land, some new country, some new planet, some new plane… into some new reality.’

As Morgan told me this, I – of course – did not believe him. I knew magic was something only ever found in stories and this world had physical rules, laws of nature that bound everything in it… despite my magic carpet ride.

Then, Morgan took me out onto his flat roof and twisted the night with one broad gesture of his hand and we were suddenly living in some far exotic land I had never seen, never heard of before. We were in a land of exotic sounds and smells, hot and spicy, a land of languid heat and shimmering diaphanous robes worn by dark-skinned women who looked at us though veils and scarves that kept all but their eyes secret from us.

I stood up on that roof, which had been one roof among thousands in a dark damp and cold town and found myself in a place far away from everything I’d ever known. One of those dark-eyed women sauntered towards me, her long fingers, stroked my cheek as though I was the exotic one… and then Morgan twisted the night again with a gesture that brought us back again, back to the cold and damp and lonely, with only the fading pressure from where those long fingers had stoked my cheek to remind me that it had all been so very real. As real as the magic carpet, as real as that helicopter.

I shivered….

Morgan turned to me. ‘And you, Tony are one who can do this. You, like me, are a Twister.’

‘Fuck off….’ I said.

Morgan laughed. ‘No, it is you that can fuck off…. He reached out and took my shoulder in his hand as he looked deep into my eyes with his eyes that seemed, suddenly, to be filled with infinite distances. ‘You, Tony, my friend…. You can fuck off anywhere… and everywhere you can imagine…. You have the power….’

‘Yeah…?’

‘Yes.’

I looked at my hands, they didn’t look that powerful. I had trouble opening a new jam jar with them, let alone creating a world out of nothing.

Morgan took my right hand in his, holding it just below the wrist. ‘Relax,’ he said.

I tried to relax as he manoeuvred my arm around, outlining some weird shape in the cold night air.

I felt something in the air change, as though the air around us had grown thick and heavy, then an instant later the feeling was gone. He jerked my hand back with a short sharp tug and let my arm drop.

‘Ah…’ he said.

The duck quacked.

Up until then there had been only the two of us standing up on the cold damp roof.

Now there was the two of us… and a duck.

[….]

*

[Continues here (UK) or here (US)]

All a Bit of an Embarrassment

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It was all a bit of an embarrassment really. They hadn’t known what to do with him since the day he’d failed his R.E practical exam. The walking on the water module had been a complete disaster, especially when they had to call the lifeboat out, and the thing with the loaves and the fishes… well, he’d ended up with two slices of white and a tin of pilchards. Although, the water into wine had gone very well, except he’d drunk it all straight off and then called the girl at the next desk a lesbian for refusing to go out with him that evening, threw up all over the invigilator and fallen asleep across his question paper.

All rather embarrassing for the son of a god.

Since then, no-one had dared mention him going into the family business. One of his uncles had suggested they could make him the god of some primitive tribe somewhere, the god of something small: the god of moss or daises or something. The god of something, somewhere where the people wouldn’t expect much and gods only really existed as something to blame for their tribe’s misfortunes.

Another uncle suggested sending him to Valhalla or somewhere like that, somewhere where they’ knock a bit of sense into him’, but his mother didn’t want him falling in with the wrong sort of god, and she refused point blank to send him to her cousin to learn the trade. ‘Not after that business with him turning into a swan… that poor girl,’ she said shaking her head. ‘I just don’t know what he was thinking.’

So, in the end, they found this rather dull blue-green planet out in one of the unfashionable galaxies where the people liked to wander around in the desert claiming they were on speaking terms with all manner of gods. After all, his parents thought, what harm could he do in a place like that?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Poem: The Shape of Words

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The Shape of Words

I learn the shape of words and how they make
these things become so real by making shapes
and giving edges that will form a break.

The space between the words and things they name
are silences we fall through to the world
that spreads around us. Nowhere is the same

as where we stand between the sound unfurled
across the possible, that makes it real
apart from which unreality swirled

becoming like a ghost of thought we see
as shaping form around a space unnamed
and out of reach, beyond both you and me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When I’m Right

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Still, as you know, the carpet wasn’t all that much use, especially in the places where the Great Plains tended to undulate a little too much, and there was always the problem of getting it to fit around the edges of the water holes. The wear and tear associated with great migrating herds of wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and so forth was also something that needed to be taken into consideration.

The wife was pretty keen on having the whole thing carpeted, as I said, but once I’d got her to accept the practical difficulties, she reluctantly accepted I was right. Although, I knew I would be paying for that later.

She doesn’t like me being right.

Luckily, though, the problem doesn’t often arise and even when I am right, she usually finds some other reason why – even though I am right – I am still wrong.

Anyway, once I asked her who would be vacuuming all this carpet, and told her about the way that wildebeest hairs especially seem to have a way of entangling themselves into the weave of the carpet, she reluctantly agreed that we could - after all – have the grass… as I’d originally intended.

Although, she did say that the way I’d arranged the trees did make the whole place look rather untidy.

As I said – according to her, anyway - in the end I end up wrong even when I’m right.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Poem and the Autograph

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The gallery was quiet except for the echo of my footsteps on the wooden floor. I stopped in front of some large Pre-Raphaelite painting, not really looking at it, just lost inside my own thoughts.

I heard someone else’s footsteps, without paying much attention to them, the sound of a woman’s heels. The footsteps stopped next to me. I could feel her presence without looking around.

‘You like this one, I can tell,’ she said. ‘You seemed so absorbed in it.’

‘Mmm….’ I nodded, not really wanting a conversation.

‘I wasn’t sure about speaking to you… I know what you… people like you… you need privacy, silence.’

I turned. She was young, smiling, wearing a long raincoat and a beret. I noticed high-heeled shoes and bare legs, before I turned back.

‘Only I saw you, last night… at the reading.’

This time when I turned back I looked into her eyes. ‘Oh, you were there?’

‘Yes,’ she smiled this time. ‘I loved it. I’ve always loved your work, always wanted to meet you.’

‘Thank you,’ I said. This time I meant it when I smiled.

‘I….’

‘What?’

‘It seemed a good idea at the time, when I saw you come in here.’

‘What did?’ I noticed, for the first time she had a bulging shoulder bag, she put it down on the floor. She took a pen out of her pocket.

‘I wanted you to sign one of your books for me, but they are all at home.’

I shrugged, apologetically and she handed me the pen.

‘So could you sign this, instead?’ she said, unfastening he coat with trembling fingers.

‘I thought….’ Underneath the coat she was naked. ‘Like that poem of yours… the one you read yesterday, at the reading?’

I nodded, recalling the poem about once writing a poem on a woman’s naked body; then I signed her body.

Later that same night, I wrote a new poem, just for her, across her naked body and then, much later, I signed her copies of all of my books as well.

Monday, July 23, 2012

At the Holiday Resort

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‘For all intents and purposes,’ she said. Which, do to the howling gale at the time I didn’t quite catch, so I had to wonder why anyone would wish to keep a porpoise under canvas – apart from the obvious – of course, but then I find people from that part of the world are rather a funny lot. She was typical of them, I suppose, although she a greater interest in some of the more esoteric sexual practices than most of the women I’d met from the region Most of whom tended to regard anything that involved the removal of their cardigans, before they had filled up on at least twelve rum and blackcurrants, as a bit beyond the pale, especially if you neglected to offer to buy them the obligatory bag of chips afterwards.

Still, as to keeping the porpoises in their tents – to be honest I wouldn’t put it past them. I had seen one of them doing something rather unmentionable with a dolphin one morning, and it was wise not to ask the local fisherman why the catch of the day often seemed to have rather a haunted expression on their faces when set out on the stalls later that morning.

Still, as British seaside holidays go, despite the howling gales and torrential rain of a traditional British summer, it was rather a pleasant few days, provided – of course – you didn’t enquire too deeply into what they’d been doing with the sticks of rock in the beach-front gift shop.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cabbages and Kings

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Never let it be said that we – as a proud and noble country – have never looked askance at those who would hold a courgette aloft in the presence of a minor member of the royal family in a manner unfitting for the occasion.

Sometimes, of course, minor royalty can be acknowledged by use of the proffered broccoli, as protocol often demands.

However, it should always be remembered that the 21-courgette salute is for the Queen or King themselves, or their immediate heirs and successors, The current monarch’s consort however, should only be acknowledged by a 12-carrot Salute by members of the Household Cavalry, and even then only on formal occasions when the Monarch is not present.

It is very important to remember – as well – that the only crime still punishable by the death penalty on the English statute books is Pointing a Cucumber at the Royal Personage. However, carrying a lettuce in the presence of the heir to the throne still carries a 25-year sentence.

As for cabbages and kings, the less said about that the better, especially in a forum such as this which may be witnessed by those of a nervous disposition.

Still, though, the matter of what the young Queen Victoria got up to with that marrow back in the early days of her marriage is still covered by the Official Secrets Act, despite rumours of an etching of the event doing the rounds of the Houser of Lords at the time.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Casual Semi-Nudity

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She’d invited me around to her place for the evening. I’d already heard the rumours. Apparently, the postman had seen her sitting knitting – stark naked – in her conservatory, and there had been frank talk of her cupcakes in the newsagents. So, I went there prepared, taking my Ludo board and a bottle of sherry, just in case. I also wore my lucky mittens in case things got intimate later on. It was a cool night, right in the middle of the English summer, so the rain was pouring down and my wellies were not as pristine as they once were, so I had to leave the majority of my clothing in her porch.

Still, casual semi-nudity is – apparently – all the fashion in metropolitan areas these days and we here – out in the sticks – are not ones to let these fashions pass us by. So, when she came to the door to let me in, she was wearing only a string of pearls and a pair of ankle socks.

All this – as you must realise by now – made the Ludo board superfluous. Up until that night I’d always regarded a game of Strip Ludo as the ideal ice-breaker for all manner of social events, from these intimate dinners for two right up to and including meetings of the local council planning committee.

Anyway, the rest of the evening was spent engaging in some of the most unusual sexual activities I have ever become involved in, and I once spent an evening with a folk singer in Stoke-on-Trent, but I’m sure that you would find any further revelations about that sort of thing all rather tedious… so I’ll end it here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In Quarantine

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Sometime during the dark ages of the last century some poor deluded fool came up with the slogan ’everything is politics’. These days, of course, we look upon such ignorant nostrums as something akin to witchcraft, astrology, religion or other such manifestations of puerile nonsense.

As scientific research shows, rather than everything being politics, we now know that nothing is politics and that furthermore it is the duty of every single one of us to do our best to eradicate the curse of politics from this world of ours forevermore.

Politics is – as we now know – a form of mental illness which makes the sufferer believe they know what is wrong with society and – fatally – how they can make it better. Whereas those of us uninfected by the disease of politics know that things are always buggered up like this, in one way or another, and that any attempt to make things better will only end up making things much, much, worse.

So, therefore, if you do happen to come into contact with someone suffering from politics, please make sure you are disinfected, immunised and quarantined until it can be demonstrated you are entirely free from infection. Furthermore, please report all outbreaks of politics you see so that those unfortunate enough to be infected can be put down before the virus spreads to normal people.

Following these simple guidelines should ensure that soon we have an entirely politics-free country and we can all go about our lives safe in the knowledge that no politician is likely to come along and bugger it all up for us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Celebratory Bunting

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Well, there is not much that can be said about it, not now. At the time it was one of the finest examples of its kind throughout the Empire. The bunting alone would have stretched for miles, if laid end to end. Of course, it was often said that the women who operated it were very often laid end to end, often wearing little more than the bunting. That was however, a false rumour put about by the Axis powers during the early days of WWII, meant to disrupt Allied supply lines and to divert attention from what was then regarded as the imminent invasion of the British Isles by the German army.

However, that much bunting would no-doubt have been a major problem for the occupying forces, as well as that number of skilled women of negotiable virtue let loose amongst the German soldiery. Still, that was then and they were very different days, except the Tuesdays, of course, which have been – certainly in the British Isles - more or less unchanged since the day William the Bastard became William the Lucky Bastard and then – quite quickly afterwards – William the Conqueror.

At least, though, it did have somewhere to tie the bunting to, which is more than can be said for the modern ones, even though they nearly all now come with their own integral MP3 player and Sat-Nav.

Monday, July 16, 2012

In Case of Civil Unrest

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Still, I suppose not that many people these days still use the old-fashioned hand-cranked device for relocating domesticate ruminants to a more secure area in case of civil unrest.

Not only that, I have sometimes been forced to go back to the equally old-fashioned threat of full-frontal first use of the harmonica, even though this country was once signatory to the No First Use of the Harmonica Treaty way back in the dark days of the Cold War when it seem the threat of ever-present balalaika attack would overshadow us all in the free (well, often quite expensive) West.

Anyway, so we had all the sheep in the safe room, just in case some placard-wielding troglodyte insisted on annoying all and sundry with a sense of his (or her) sense of thwarted entitlement, when we realised that one of our sheep was missing.

Of course, with Benjy being a sheep and therefore instinctively inclined to follow any form of crowd or herd, we immediately assumed that the sheep had joined the demonstration and was in there somewhere baa-ing along with the crowd as they claimed some slight diminution of their taxpayer–paid and government- provided privilege was something akin to a major infringement of their human rights.

We were right.

For, later that night, as the news reporter gleefully pointed to the mass ranks of over a couple of dozen ‘protestors’ , we could clearly see Benjy the sheep up on the platform urging them on to greater things and at the same time calling for a complete ban on the use of mint sauce.

The latest word is that Benjy has become a militant activist and now plans the overthrow of western capitalism and mandatory free use of the sheep dip for all workers, each according to their needs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Warriors of the Shopping Malls

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Then the moment came and we had no choice but to stare at our eggcups with the eyes of those who have loved and lost. Then, after we’d given those poor unfortunates their eyes back and added the eggcups to the washing up heap, we strode off out into the world, ready to do battle.

However, the battle had been cancelled due to some unforeseen Health and Safety concerns about how dangerous lethal weaponry could be in such a situation. So, instead of doing battle for control of the realm, fate, the forces of history and doing over those arrogant tossers from the Far Lands, we went shopping instead.

However, shopping in full battle armour is not quite the life-informingly joyous occasion that the TV adverts would have us believe, especially if you have trouble fitting your war chariot in a parking space and your blood-thirsty hordes of warriors can’t decide whether or not to go for a cup of tea and a cake before beginning their retail experience rampage or whether it would make sense to have a break partway through, giving everyone in the army a chance to review their purchases or decide if they wanted to go back to the specialist retailer for that halberd after all, even though it was not quite the right colour and the balance was not ideal.

Anyway, I managed to pick up a very cheap battle-axe in the sales, so in future I will not have anywhere near as much trouble slicing the top off my breakfast boiled egg again, at least judging by the way that sales assistant’s head bounced down the aisle in the shop when he asked me if I wanted to test my new purchase.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ground-Breaking TV

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Obviously we were all as excited as the constantly-repeated trailers told us we should be. After all, that great bastion of smug metropolitan self-indulgence, the BBC, had told us how much it had all cost, how ground-breaking it was, how inclusive and affirming it was and – most importantly of all – how many celebrities we’d never heard of would be joining the programme, or, rather, cultural event, in order for us to share in their wit, wisdom and erudite incisiveness as well as bask in the reflected glow of the aura of fame and stardom.

So, there we all were – the whole nation as media columnists like to claim (although, in reality hardly enough to claim status as a minority) - waiting with eager anticipation for what the trailers had proclaimed would be the event of the decade, easily eclipsing such run of the mill events as the Olympics, Queen’s Jubilee, Euro 2012, the All-Nude Mastermind Final and all the other events that were all supposedly outdoing each other for our attention.

As the pre-programme announcement said, it was to be a live 3-hour special on each evening for the next seven months. It was appointment TV at its best, the finest that greatest of all self-proclaimed greats in broadcasting, the BBC could do to give theist loyal viewers the televisual experience they all hoped, prayed and desired to see. It would be the TV event that would define a generation and spawn countless imitators as well as become the one TV event that would become essential for any future cultural history of this – our – time.

We sat, eager, and awaited….

Then it came…

The opening credits of Celebrity Paint Watch Live. The revolutionary programme, live every evening where we the ordinary viewing public get to sit with a celebrity presenter as we watch a wall and thrill to see – there live and right in front of our eyes - the paint drying on that wall while the celebrity does what all celebrities do best – tell us all about themselves.

As the critics all agreed later, it was the best night’s TV anyone could ever remember and well worth the three hours a day – every day – out of people’s lives it took to watch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hate Crime Concerns

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Well, obviously there was a small amount of concern about what the metropolitan media elite like to call a ‘hate crime’, but to the rest of the country is little more than slightly over-zealous use of a badminton racquet in a manner not envisaged by the manufacturer.

Still, you have to admit it was a damn fine shot and – apparently – the highest ever recorded altitude achieved by a stickleback, or - for that matter - any aquatic creature. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t quite reach the altitude gained by a newt back in 1975, when launched from a catapult in Godalming, so that record still remains to be broken.

Although, there is some dispute among experts and political activists about where a fish and an amphibian should be classed together or whether they should have separate categories; hence the concern in some areas of the media that this is an attempt by a Tory (of course) government to instil a prejudice against amphibians in general and newts in particular.

Many in the Left-Wing press - and at the BBC - see this as blatant anti-newt propaganda put about to discredit the Left, for as we all know one of the great darlings of the British Left is well-known for his deep interest in newts and where they, and other amphibians, stand in the political spectrum.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cantankerous Weather Gods

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Well, it happens….

It now may be worthwhile considering various methods of stopping it happening, especially after all the complaints from the neighbours, or, at the very least, adjusting the volume control so that it doesn’t frighten any neighbourhood llamas out grazing at that time in the morning.

Anyway, on to more moister matters, which – this summer certainly – seems to be more or less everything else. Those in positions of power and influence in this country should always remember the weather gods are a cantankerous bunch, never happier than when buggering the weather about and causing us mere mortals to tut when we dare open our morning curtains.

Those of us wise to the ways of the weather knew only too well what a mistake it was to mention the word ‘drought’ in the hearing of the weather gods. Anyone with any sense knew that as soon as we had an official drought, then that was the time to go out and buy some new wellies, an umbrella and to sign up for canoeing lessons.

Now, though, all people can do is sit patiently in the puddle that used to be their downstairs rooms and wait for someone to make it official that the country is in a state of flood in the hearing of the weather gods, so they can go and fetch the hot dry summer they have hidden away somewhere, waiting for just such an occurrence.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Monday Poem: Slightly Further

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Slightly Further

If I walk away, down to the shore
I will see the sea and see the sky
and that horizon where they meet
seeming almost close enough to touch.

But so many things seem to be there
close enough for easy reaching hands.
I could lift my hand up to the sky, pluck
out the moon from the face of the night.

I could take each of the stars in turn
and thread them on your necklace.
I could see down to the smallest speck
and the immense spaces that make solidity.

I could see it all. I could do it all.
I could do everything and anything
I could do it all, if I found that place
to stand to reach only slightly further.

But it all lies always just out of reach
like the perfect kiss and that moment
long gone when it seemed all right,
all perfect, lying here next to you.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Something for the Weekend: Free Kindle Novel – Dance on Fire

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Free for the next five days:

Dance on Fire

What do you do when sex and drugs and rock and roll are no longer enough? At one time, Transmission were probably the most famous rock band on the planet. Now, even as they approach their twenty-fifth anniversary they are still up there, one of the top ten bands of all time. However, each of the surviving members of the band feels something, somewhere, has gone wrong, and the rock and roll dream they used to believe in so much has become an empty and hollow routine. Dance On Fire is an exploration of the relationships between the remaining original members of Transmission, and their manager, as the band enters their 25th year together. The novel charts their growing realisation that rock music no longer has any meaning for them, and they are - at best - still going through force of habit - 'We've become our own tribute band.' Dance On Fire is a novel about the shallowness of everlasting adolescence and the vacuity at the heart of the rock and roll mythology.

Extract:

The throbbing beating brain-numbing noise was almost solid enough to touch. The noise used as music in clubs like this was too loud to be music, too primal to be music, too crude to be music; a noise stripped of almost all its possibilities of becoming music. It was music beaten up, raped, buggered, pissed on and left for dead with its lifeblood oozing out of it and running down the drain with each pulsebeat.

Pete loved it now.

He was dancing, with a half-full bottle of Champagne in each hand. Dancing – or so he thought – like a shaman, like a witch doctor. He was the mystical priest of the beat. He was primal too. He was savage. He was base. He was Dionysus.

The lights throbbed and pulsed showing then concealing the smiling, laughing, grinning coterie he - or rather, his recently discovered valid credit card – had gathered. He had disciples. He was the pied piper, the pied pissed-up prankster that would lead his gang of grinning cavorting lovelies to a new, higher paradise.

‘Wsdsd…FGGFvmm…? HGTffvbb!’

‘What?’ Pete jammed his ear up against the mouth of… whatever her name was.

‘XXXXZXzzzzzz! Quuallll! Tits?’

In the briefest of silences in the noise, Pete was sure that he had heard the word ‘tits’. He nodded his head enthusiastically. ‘Tits, yes!’ he yelled grinning down at the items in question. He was almost sure she had only the normal complement, but there seemed to be far more than just two in there. However, she proved his notion of the conventional correct when she whipped her top off and shook both of them in Pete’s face.

‘Yum! Yum!’ Pete shouted, watching mesmerised, as they performed a slow-motion gravity-defining dance all of their own.

The rest of his entourage had now noticed that one of their number had managed to monopolise the attention of their platinum-credit-card wielding sugar daddy. So, in the spirit of good old free enterprise they too decided that a revealing of their own not-inconsiderable assets would be a way of restoring some balance to the proceedings.

By this time, Pete was already seeing double – if not triple – the sudden avalanche of naked mammaries bouncing and undulating for his delectation was almost too much for him to cope with. He stopped his cavorting and took a step back.

Unfortunately, his backwards motion brought him into contact with the almost full pint held by one of a group of young men. The men were already feeling more than a touch aggrieved that this bloke – at least old enough to be their father – was monopolising so much female attention seemingly through the mere fact of being significantly wealthier than all of them put together.

‘Oi! Cunt. Watch it.’

Pete heard and turned. He grinned. ‘Sorry, mate. It’s getting a bit crowded in here isn’t it?’ He gestured behind him towards the undulating mammorial tide that was threatening to engulf them all.

‘Are you taking the piss?’

‘What? No.’

‘Hey Jimmy, this old cunt is taking the piss, as well as all the birds.’

Jimmy and the rest of the gang began to circle around Pete. Even in his befuddled state, Pete could recognise that things were beginning to get ugly. As the circle closed around him, he could see the girls edged out one by one. But still the first punch to the side of his head took him by surprise.

Pete staggered back into the men who had moved around behind him. They pushed him forward once more. It was over twenty years since Pete and Johnny had to fight their way out of an Austin bar. Since then Pete had not had to raise a fist in anger. Despite this, he knew he was easily able to handle half a dozen or so blokes who were probably over twenty years his junior. He raised his fists, noticing that he still held the two – now empty – champagne bottles.

‘Hmm… useful,’ Pete Muttered. He could feel that his mouth was already starting to swell up. He raised the bottles and took up a martial arts pose.

There was a whirling blur and the man directly in front of Pete collapsed. One of the topless girls took his place. The way she was swinging her lethal looking handbag around her head caused all the young men to turn in her direction. They gazed, mesmerised by her breasts and the slow, almost, leisurely way they developed independent orbits around her upper body.

Two more of the men fell, handbagged from behind be Pete’s tribe of vengeful amazons. Pete lowered his bottles and just stared as the gang fell one by one. Out of the corner of his eye, Pete just noticed the handbag bouncing off the shaven head of one of his attackers and heading towards him.

‘Wat…!’

There was pain. He fell. It went dark.

*

Available here: UK or here: US

Something for the Weekend: Free Kindle Novel – Dance on Fire

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Free for the next five days:

Dance on Fire

What do you do when sex and drugs and rock and roll are no longer enough? At one time, Transmission were probably the most famous rock band on the planet. Now, even as they approach their twenty-fifth anniversary they are still up there, one of the top ten bands of all time. However, each of the surviving members of the band feels something, somewhere, has gone wrong, and the rock and roll dream they used to believe in so much has become an empty and hollow routine. Dance On Fire is an exploration of the relationships between the remaining original members of Transmission, and their manager, as the band enters their 25th year together. The novel charts their growing realisation that rock music no longer has any meaning for them, and they are - at best - still going through force of habit - 'We've become our own tribute band.' Dance On Fire is a novel about the shallowness of everlasting adolescence and the vacuity at the heart of the rock and roll mythology.

Extract:

The throbbing beating brain-numbing noise was almost solid enough to touch. The noise used as music in clubs like this was too loud to be music, too primal to be music, too crude to be music; a noise stripped of almost all its possibilities of becoming music. It was music beaten up, raped, buggered, pissed on and left for dead with its lifeblood oozing out of it and running down the drain with each pulsebeat.

Pete loved it now.

He was dancing, with a half-full bottle of Champagne in each hand. Dancing – or so he thought – like a shaman, like a witch doctor. He was the mystical priest of the beat. He was primal too. He was savage. He was base. He was Dionysus.

The lights throbbed and pulsed showing then concealing the smiling, laughing, grinning coterie he - or rather, his recently discovered valid credit card – had gathered. He had disciples. He was the pied piper, the pied pissed-up prankster that would lead his gang of grinning cavorting lovelies to a new, higher paradise.

‘Wsdsd…FGGFvmm…? HGTffvbb!’

‘What?’ Pete jammed his ear up against the mouth of… whatever her name was.

‘XXXXZXzzzzzz! Quuallll! Tits?’

In the briefest of silences in the noise, Pete was sure that he had heard the word ‘tits’. He nodded his head enthusiastically. ‘Tits, yes!’ he yelled grinning down at the items in question. He was almost sure she had only the normal complement, but there seemed to be far more than just two in there. However, she proved his notion of the conventional correct when she whipped her top off and shook both of them in Pete’s face.

‘Yum! Yum!’ Pete shouted, watching mesmerised, as they performed a slow-motion gravity-defining dance all of their own.

The rest of his entourage had now noticed that one of their number had managed to monopolise the attention of their platinum-credit-card wielding sugar daddy. So, in the spirit of good old free enterprise they too decided that a revealing of their own not-inconsiderable assets would be a way of restoring some balance to the proceedings.

By this time, Pete was already seeing double – if not triple – the sudden avalanche of naked mammaries bouncing and undulating for his delectation was almost too much for him to cope with. He stopped his cavorting and took a step back.

Unfortunately, his backwards motion brought him into contact with the almost full pint held by one of a group of young men. The men were already feeling more than a touch aggrieved that this bloke – at least old enough to be their father – was monopolising so much female attention seemingly through the mere fact of being significantly wealthier than all of them put together.

‘Oi! Cunt. Watch it.’

Pete heard and turned. He grinned. ‘Sorry, mate. It’s getting a bit crowded in here isn’t it?’ He gestured behind him towards the undulating mammorial tide that was threatening to engulf them all.

‘Are you taking the piss?’

‘What? No.’

‘Hey Jimmy, this old cunt is taking the piss, as well as all the birds.’

Jimmy and the rest of the gang began to circle around Pete. Even in his befuddled state, Pete could recognise that things were beginning to get ugly. As the circle closed around him, he could see the girls edged out one by one. But still the first punch to the side of his head took him by surprise.

Pete staggered back into the men who had moved around behind him. They pushed him forward once more. It was over twenty years since Pete and Johnny had to fight their way out of an Austin bar. Since then Pete had not had to raise a fist in anger. Despite this, he knew he was easily able to handle half a dozen or so blokes who were probably over twenty years his junior. He raised his fists, noticing that he still held the two – now empty – champagne bottles.

‘Hmm… useful,’ Pete Muttered. He could feel that his mouth was already starting to swell up. He raised the bottles and took up a martial arts pose.

There was a whirling blur and the man directly in front of Pete collapsed. One of the topless girls took his place. The way she was swinging her lethal looking handbag around her head caused all the young men to turn in her direction. They gazed, mesmerised by her breasts and the slow, almost, leisurely way they developed independent orbits around her upper body.

Two more of the men fell, handbagged from behind be Pete’s tribe of vengeful amazons. Pete lowered his bottles and just stared as the gang fell one by one. Out of the corner of his eye, Pete just noticed the handbag bouncing off the shaven head of one of his attackers and heading towards him.

‘Wat…!’

There was pain. He fell. It went dark.

*

Available here: UK or here: US

Flotsam Days

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Each morning, she would walk out on the beach, searching the flotsam at the tide’s edge for what she could find. Most days, she came back empty-handed. Most days, it was mainly just seaweed and other odds and ends of a throwaway world, thrown away to ride the seas until they were dragged up by the tumbling waves and left upon a beach like this one, only pausing, until another tide came along and washed them away again.

Her life was like the tides, washing along the beach each day, taking and leaving whatever she found on this floating boundary between the land and the sea. Taking some of them back with her into the depths of her own life in order to make sense of something she did not know how to name.

There was a world there, she was sure of it. Something that lay beyond her world of sea and land and where they met to exchange gifts each day. She knew these things she found; these oddments and fragments were from another world that lay at some angle she could glimpse, but not see.

She knew if she took these objects home with her; to the room high under the eves of her cottage, she could spend her days arranging them until they all fell into place and she would have the key she could use to unlock the door to this other world she knew was waiting to welcome her.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Unexplained Visitations

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Sometimes, it seems as though someone has left the door open and the entire room has filled up with small Welsh canteen manageresses while no-one was looking… well, at least in this part of the country, anyway. In other parts of the country, not quite so close to the Welsh border regions, then you may suddenly find yourself overrun by East Anglian double-glazing salesmen, Cockney banjo-impersonators or even badger whisperers from Yorkshire.

Although, reports of some unfortunate people's houses suffering unexplained infestations of Media Studies students from Cornwall has been put down to hysteria whipped up by tabloid newspapers eager to have something other than the thighs of lady tennis players to report upon during the impending political closed-season.

Having said that though, the reports of quantity surveyors from Illfracombe suddenly – and inexplicably – appearing in people's kitchens has been confirmed, and - what is more – put down to someone in Ludlow forgetting to turn off a dripping tap properly.

However, the authorities are reporting that they do have the situation under control, at least as far north as Bradford. That, then, should at least put your mind at rest for the time being, that is – of course - unless you are unfortunate enough to be residing somewhere north of Bradford, in which case the authorities seem to be suggesting you are on your own.

Thursday Poem: Days Slip Through

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Days Slip Through

Days are like that, piling up one after another
and another, until the morning you wake

to find a whole week of days
has slipped beyond your grasp

before you could even manage
to reach towards a single day.

They slip through the hand like water,
like grains of sand running through fingers

no matter how tight you hold them
the days evade and slip away from you

leaving you here, sitting alone
wondering where your time has gone.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Those Glory Days

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It was back in those days when we played those games of naked table tennis deep within the jungles of Walsall, listening to the tribal drums in the heavy dark nights as the strange exotic creatures crept around outside our pagoda.

Those were strange colonial times, there were rumours that the natives were revolting… certainly the ones I’d met were less becoming than one would have – ideally – hoped.

Still, Walsall in those days was a wild frontier town where the men were men and the women… well, shall we just say that a cautious person always played table tennis in the nude just to avoid any surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, especially in those matches where one’s opponent played without needing a bat.

Soon, though, it became strategically impossible for the old colonial power to keep such a wild and ungovernable place under its jurisdiction. The rebellion broke out and naked table tennis players fled the area in their hundreds all heading for the border, their ping-pong balls bouncing disconsolately down the road as they ran.

It seemed that at last the sun was setting on the last day of the Empire and we will never look upon the like of those days again. Even so, occasionally I get out the old moth-eaten net and check to see if there is still some bounce left in my balls before I strip off, salute the flag and take on all-comers as a way of remembering those glory days.

When the Summer Comes

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When the summer comes; we will be ready. We grow so tired of these cold winters that gnaw at the bones and turn the skin as cold as death. We do not want to spend long dark nights listening to the howling wind as we huddle closer to our stuttering fires.

It will be good to feel the heat of the sun on our naked skin again; to feel warm summer breezes rather than be bitten by the cold sharp winds of winter. Colour will return to these grey lands and there will be sudden rustles in the undergrowth as life comes, grows and spread through this land once again.

Our ancestors came to these cold winter lands a long time ago, times when the world did not seem as cold as it does now.

We should turn away from this place, head back over the southern seas and look for a land that does not pile its winter days up one on top of another for month after month, until no-one can remember the summer, until it seems summer is just a word, a tale told to the children as they huddle and shiver, drawing closer and closer to the fires, hoping for some warmth in their short lives.

One day, yes, we will have to go south and find a land of long summers, even if we have to fight and die to take it, to hold it. Such a life – however short – would be better than these narrow cold lives of endless winters.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Magician

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I was the magician. For Bess, I could create worlds for her to walk in. I could create lives for her to live. I could create a universe and set it turning around her. I could weave my spells out of nothing and carve shapes out of the empty air and do it all just for her.

We would lie together in that old bed of hers, the lumpy mattress on the old iron frame Bess had cleaned of rust and painted black; with golden highlights on its various knobs and flourishes. The warm summer breezes would blow in from the sea while the afternoons passed outside her window with the distant cries of gulls and the mutterings of holidaymakers passing by below on their way to the beach.

We lay there, her naked body next to mine, as I drew the shape of a new world for her in the empty air above the bed. Then, kissing me and laughing Bess would step out of this world and into the new world I’d created for her.

She would become a princess, a pauper, an adventurer, a thief, a healer or even a magician and I would create the clothes for her and set her down in this new world for her to explore and to win over.

Bess would come back later, many days having passed while I dozed for minutes, to tell me what she had found and who she had met: kings, princes, rogues, killers and thieves, who she had loved, who she had hated who she had bested and who she had killed. She would snuggle back down beside me, saying how no-one there, in that other kingdom, could match up to the life she lived here, in this house on the cliff with me.

One day, though, I made the mistake of making the perfect world for her. Bess stepped off the plane of this world, dressed as a highwaywoman, ready to rob and run wild. That was the last I saw of her, as Bess rode off on the black horse I made for her, and out of my love for her.

I never saw her again.

A Woman and her Canoe

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She, of course, had the canoe ready. ‘There is something so erotic about a woman who has her canoe at the ready’, as Winston Churchill so appositely remarked back in the summer of 1924. Back then, though, it was regarded as somewhat risqué for a woman to be over-familiar with rowboats and to know too much about rowlocks for her station in life, especially if she looked too much like the kind of woman who liked to get an oar in.

The canoe, though, was regarded as eminently suited for the woman of the time, especially as the paddle was deemed to be far les phallic than the rather rude oars. The canoe and paddle also did away with the matter of the rowlocks, without - as in the Victorian era – of having to a gentleman always making certain that his rowlocks were always kept concealed from the ladies whenever he invited them into his boat.

Anyway, that all belongs back in the days of black and white and the strange jerkiness of the silent era, consequently it is of little relevance to the modern age and to the aquatic adventure we were preparing to depart upon.

Still, though, knowledge of history is always useful. This time it did rather adequately – at least I thought so – fill an awkward conversational lull when further up the river she pulled her canoe under a riverside weeping willow tree and lay back on the floor of the canoe, asking me if I could think of anything we could do to pass the time during such a lazy summer afternoon on the river.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Along the River of Days

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The days pass as though they are not quite a dream. They pass like scenes seen on a river bank as time floats slowly down a languid river. The days themselves, like moments seen on the passing river bank, hold themselves out of reach.

We look, but cannot touch. We certainly cannot take the days that pass and shape each one around our lives if we were there living inside them.

We are apart and we cannot touch or change them.

This bed is our boat that floats through these days that pass outside the window. Here, the curtains flicker slowly in the breeze. We know a summer like this will not come again. The world will not wait outside our lives; respectful, keeping its distance, for much longer.

Something, some event, some entangling of time, space and events will come along and sweep us off our boat of freedom; tip us overboard into the river and cause us to swim for the banks where the days wait, ready to pull us onto their shore and back into the world we sailed away from, looking for somewhere else, somewhere of our own.

We know, even as we wrap ourselves around each other once more, that the world is out there, and those passing days will - all too soon – take us back tight into their arms and make us live through their ordinary days once again.

Monday Poem: Shape the Words to Tell

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Shape the Words to Tell

We do not have the mouths to say
to shape the words to tell the stories
of where we have travelled so far
and what has befallen us on these roads.

We do not know how language
can be turned to tell of such horrors
without breaking, without collapsing
into incoherence and so many tears.

We have left the lands of our past
that held us in such tight chains
and stopped us singing our songs.

All our songs about our freedom
were all songs of our mental slavery
and we never opened our eyes

during those silent prayers
to see there was no-one there to listen
no-one there to care, just us
and our desire to remain prisoners.