A Man Once Said…

To family, friends, cohorts, colleagues and maybe not so much strangers. Firstly, you were warned; why are you here? <  (I’ll tread more softly; a re-read of that reads as terribly rude. So a belated strike-thru and black-lo-lighter).

Some of my stories are fiction, some true, and some muscle into the space between (with exaggero-laborations for effect).

A man who doesn’t grate once said:

…”if your work is trying to shine light in the human psyche’s deepest, darkest, illest places, then you have to go there, and be it, and that’s no casual undertaking.” — David Mitchell

The above is my mantra, and were I not stitched, double-stitched into this fabric that my family and I have woven. And I add that (aside from the contention within the self) I’m content to be so. Where was I? …were I not stitched etc; then I’d enact that which I chant with little hesitation. If you’re reading this blog either casually or right through after my departure and you touch on any ostensibly plausible tales of immorality; please note they are merely that, tales and tales are fiction are they not?

The holy grail of the more gritty aspect of my love’s labour is to have that which I write (at some point) invade those few who succeed in reading it and wring out every last drop of emotion. So while it would seem the ideal to physically get to those deep dark places and to the headiest heights for that matter – I don’t – I use a substitute for what’s considered warped/askew in our society’s model of reality. I close my eyes and imagine I am there; and I am there. And I write about it while I’m there. There’s no consequence as of yet to thought crime; at least I think so.

So take a double take with all that’s suspect and rife with ambiguity; throw in a pinch of salt too and…

…Remember my heels are made from the stones of pedestals.

E.T.A cue song 7 backing track—sound’r music.

Teraflops, cosy, whisking, smitten
Trite, fettle, sullen, smitten
Caper, appendage, tidal, forcing
Slew, behaviourist, being

Creamery, dullard, phoney, dapple, citadel
Double, cymbals, blitzkrieg, oodles
Wildebeest, abruptly, muon, swing
Amnesia, fuchsia, twins

Gatling, hydrangeas, withdrew, pattern, flashes
Sweepstake, frustration, nanosecond, whiplashes
Silhouette, wonderment, inspiring
Sluice, impoverished, limbs

Strict Machine…

The day’s been long, the night longer. What time is this? Through the haze of alcohol I release my gaze, which has, for the last hour been captivated by the blue spot in one of the DJ’s proud-standing light-boxes. In alliance with its colourful neighbours, its filament throbs to the notes which pick at the needles on the records on the decks of the sound system. For an apt few minutes ‘Daydream in Blue’ resonates through wire, amp, more wire and speaker, converting my captivation to mesmerism. I attempt to draw meaning from this, but fail; only to replace it with the puzzle of why I’m at my most philosophical when drunk.

So, gaze dropped to my faithful Casio: a blurry 1:04am, and back up to the blue. What life is this? I find myself the last man standing. Or sitting if my description is to be sharper. And further, for accuracy’s sake; only the last man remaining from the group with which I set upon this drinking session. Recent acquaintances, I don’t mourn their loss. They were happy to have me along though, so some gratitude for that I will in the directions they’ve travelled home. Thankful they accommodated me over the bed and breakfast that usually holds the privilege; steeping me with its austere aura. Back there the paper-thin walls, lumpy mattress and shared toilet, I’m convinced, all conspire to devalue my worth. Back here, the revelry this eventide has faded—some rugby win or other at national level—echoes of the last winning conversion’s fan roar, long since replaced by the all-drowning music choices of the DJ, who I’m sure is coked up.

I slump, dogleg arms dumped on the table before me, sleeves soaking up the spilt dregs of beer and slammed out salty tequila. I rest my chin on the face of my Casio, and wish I could stay here till a few hours after sunrise, all content in my anaesthesia. But lights more artificial will come on soon, and needles’ arms will be clipped to turntables’ cradles. Licensing laws will see the landlord call time and evict us into the night.

Us is me and the other stragglers—strangers that populate this space, some twenty I’d surmise if I could conjure the ability to count. One such stranger’s outline cuts across the blue. Female in form, she stops, turns and surveys the room. Prey I wonder? Me her’s, or she mine?

From my sit-point the yellow spotlight radiates its glow from behind her head; from the blue, my blue; the swell of her bosom, and the green—her hips. Some psychedelic angel of dark she is. And focused on me, I think. She’s saying something and smiling. I cannot however detail her features, nor hear her voice through the shadows and the sound. Her movement in time portrays her unheard words; she’s dancing now, flexing elegantly beyond the range of mortals. Her limbs and torso the boughs and trunk of elastic trees, in a gathering windstorm on a tremulous land. A flaunt of femininity which I’m sure she’s practised many times alone, to perfect her allure. And it works. The tune that graces the decks, the amp, those speakers and this environ is ‘Strict Machine’—it chimes the bells of that which is primal. She twists, she shimmies, she sways: a mime to the lyrics who steals and surpasses all previous transfixion.

The haze too clears, a fast lifted fog, my blood’s infused with excitement flavoured adrenalin. I unstick my chin from my Casio and sit upright; chest puffed up and arms drawn back to frame it. I am a King I feel, being entertained before a feast. My appearance though, would belie such arrogance and such assumption. I’m puzzled by the attention, I lack the complexion and the symmetry to win an instant lover. At least one to match the preferable side of my double standards. Impressive finery at 4pm I’ll confess, but these garments now evince the night’s indulgences. This face and this hair are as creased and crumpled as the clothes that lead to them. I don’t doubt my ability to charm, but any success with seduction for me, is achieved largely by avenue of wiles and wordy witchcraft. As awake as I’ve just become, lust sullies my wits, so I befriend delusion, steadfast in the fascination of this lady’s form. To be pricked only lightly from the outside by the wonder of being chosen–I have no qualms about enjoying her gyrations and blindly accept the good fortune.

The music stops, she stops and looks away as if seeking out a friend in this room of fitting misfits. Was I merely the subject of flirtation? I’m a second away from falling from such a heady and wonderful place, to the slum of a slump from which I’ve just risen. I was content there only minutes ago – to be one again with the blue filament won’t be so bad. No, NO, my heart beats too fast, my mind’s too alive. My wits: I demand they come to me. I stand and play a gambit; If I’m to lose, I’ll leave here right now and wish my proposal be scratched from the record of whatever being records my deeds.

Body language—a sweeping arc of my arm grabs her attention. She looks over and follows the movement through to see me point to the chair opposite. I slide it away from the table to make space, and beckon her over. That’s the gambit, the pivot on which the rest of this overstretched night rests. She turns her face away, then her back, walks a single pace and continues to search the room. Failure was always an option. I’m out of my chair, I do the same but with extra paces, the exit to which I turn is directly behind me. There’s an illuminated ‘Fire Escape’ sign over the door that holds the backlit symbol of a running man. ‘You and me both’, I mutter as I pass under him.

The night is dry and cold—colder for my lack of foresight, lack of coat, and the addition of wet sleeves. Stars fill the gaps between the glowing of the sodium streetlights, and mix with my bellyful of drink to form a tonic for my melancholy.

“Oi, wait for me!” invades the stillness.
…………

Genesis 2.0…

He looked down on the broken world, scratched the silver fur that stretched out from his chin to eternity, and committed to fix it—the world that is, not his beard.

And all in seven days.

What best destiny for this place? He mused. A pairing algorithm, that ought to draw a new order; applied to mankind in kind in a cruel to be kind, kind of way. Every calling, be it vocation or aspiration realised, every lover in a less than perfect relationship reassigned; every match twixt man and woman, and woman and woman, and man and man—made. Every best destiny fulfilled, all those uprooted and shifted, prescribed and force-fed soma till their symptoms subside. All bets settled, all invoices paid, all aberrations fettled, and aggrievements assuaged. Every mucky car washed and waxed, every moon waned, every pothole filled, every murderer killed, every lock picked, every conman tricked, every lawn mown, every short-arse grown, all ditherers swayed, every fear allayed. To all dark some light, to all insomniacs…no night. To every tide a turn, no advances spurned, every wire connected, no child ever neglected.

And best of all…no page unturned.

It was Sunday afternoon.

He rested.

 

tiny moment of infinite beauty

Barbershop Quartet…

Pretentious, assuming (as always), using cryptic as a cover for lazy – I write.

I write about my…

Two failed (meaningless to most) missions that had me trying to salvage some sense of achievement from a morning—an up till then wasted morning. A point in that time displayed to me: a barber shop of all things, one I suspected was placed deliberately at the desolate end of that very moment to invite me in. An impromptu remedy for my unkempt appearance and whimsical enough to be at a right angle to my original intentions. And what the heck, I now had the time spare to accept its call.

So accept I did and in I went; the Village in Trafford Park. Two barbers snikking and snipping and chatting and bantering amongst themselves and their customers. Barber one: fifty to sixty, Mancunian in manner and accent. Barber two: twenty five to thirty five and more Northern Irish than the Manc was Manc. Humorous were their sallies and heartily I listened as I queued. Not a line of course, the invisible queue where you clock who was there before you and place yourself on a chair amongst them whilst clocking who comes in after. Yes, heartily I listened because word-play was their game, I was hoping they’d strike a pun or gag that had not passed my ears before and I could revel in the novelty. One or two did, I smirked and I now know how to tie a Thai should I ever need to. I warmed to them as I waited, even enjoyed the delivery of the ones I’d heard before, till it came to my turn.

The Northern Irish guy threw a towel over my shoulders and tucked it into my neckband. ‘Eight at the back and sides,’ I say ‘and and inch off the remaining threads at the top’. He abandons me with the excuse of a loo break but returns a moment later effusing the odour of a crafty fag. He begins; the eight turns my unkempt to kempt as I feel the lumps of overgrown locks fall to and darken the towel on my shoulders. Standard conversation ensues, the sort no barber nor hairdresser remembers thirty minutes hence. Auto-pilot it is with words and scissors. So I fill spaces with well considered remarks, thought invokers and wordplay of an order I can’t usually manage on the fly but am encouraged by knowing their affinity for it. Northern Irish guy takes an interest, Mancunian I see breaks from conversing with his own client and listens in. I blurt (nay divulge by request) elements of my life story, my eleven schools, my peripatetic childhood, my year living in the Park… Trafford Park that is, in a terraced with an outside toilet. ‘I remember this place when it was all houses,’ I spieled and laced that spiel with comedy. Moving on they hear of my triumphs and travails abroad – I have momentum now but I have to stop – to save what little hair I have left!

All the while I never looked in the mirror, I don’t do mirrors in such a circumstance, I’m loathed to look at myself in public (issues). A mirror in the hand of my barber though forces me to observe the back of my head two reflections away and approve the short back and sides administered. A nod, a brush to the back of the neck, a whipped away towel, seven and a half quid doled out and I’m good to go.

‘You’ll never be short of friends.’ The Mancunian informs me; it comes from nowhere and I take it out of the shop with me, noticing several customers (that make the unspoken chair-based queue) all eying me with smiles as I leave.

Although warmed by the interaction, I felt a little caught out – I’m not partial to having an audience – at least one where I’m present. And for the friends bit: well I’m presently in a – some would say ‘self-destructive’ – phase of abstaining from previous friendships and not initiating new ones. An ascetic with a cause.

And that cause…

Well let’s let this pretentious one be cryptic eh.

To Trespass, Yes to Trespass…

She lies there dormant, with one eye open, but asleep still. Such a window to her soul, with its guardian gone, tempts more than my penchant for voyeurism. In there somewhere, she’s there—though asleep within that sleep—I hope.

To trespass, yes to trespass, to sate a great curiosity.

A hand–spring over the cheekbone-ledge and I’m in. Leaving the window as it is, I swing across and open its companion: some illumination, and welcome ventilation for this forbidden playground.

Despite the light, this space would unnerve an elder and scare a child. Snakes, alive, and of all sizes tether the terrain; they struggle to slither, staying in–situ, managing only, with rhythmic shudders, to pulse weak lights along their length. Their synaptic-anchors complaining, but holding firm. Ladders aplenty here with differing rung-counts are erratically dispersed; they offer access to every nook and recess, high and low. Many a crawl-space at their end too, and each of those labelled—for the guidance of me the visitor? Or for her the native? For me for sure, I assume, for she should know the way about her own abode. Yes?

The labels I see read so: Languages (2), Motor, Visual, Library, Apothecary, Cinema, War Room, Rhythm, and Qualia. A multitude more I guess, set beyond my line of sight. There’s so much to discover, yet I sense with only a short stay here, I need to be selective. I’m sure she’ll be waking soon, one could easily get lost; so eagerness and wariness have me opt for the list’s first in this fistulous labyrinth.

A seven-runged rise to the ledge that holds ‘Languages (2)’—Ahhh, the two denotes she’s bi–lingual—I’m there now, and I’m in there now, after a long scrabble and a wriggle through a too small, wet, dank tube. Well, I’d not have known, no ink in my inkling—she’s half Greek. Not an ‘all Canadian woman’ at all. My assumptions, as ever, have misinformed me. Her other language in symbols, fresh from civilisation’s cradle, is scattered and stamped in to these irregular walls. I limit my desire to soak up its entirety; instead I look at just the familiar, and learn, nay confirm, a couple of the loanwords better known by us English: ad hoc and hoi polloi make the cut. In a shorter spell than a moment, I study the rest; foods and place names press their just-recognisable selves out of the beautiful, yet regrettably indiscernible lexicon: moussaka I shall eat soon, and Thessaloniki I shall visit too—one day.

The windows’ light has faded by degrees, and left altogether now as I navigate more deeply the tunnels of this flexuously complex complex. I’m taken instead to employ the radiance of those scaly-skin borne pulses whenever they pass. Their unpredictable glows traversing every conception of an axis. They have their mission, I have mine. To progress, I’m to play multi–D snakes and ladders by strobe-light—and I’m fine with that.

I’m birthed next into the War Room. A place—my mind stammers—a place of which I think she’s aware, but doesn’t visit. A place I think—I’ll think hard how to put this: A place I think that the ‘she’ that hides from her conscious self stows its mélange of all that is vengeful. And in this enclave; a stockpile, weapons of no choice, but of every nature. All held here for self-preservation—both hers and hers. Cooped armies primed with a prior wisdom to fight every ailment she’s ever had and bettered. Antibodies in many a guise to my untrained eye. Moves too, pre-scripted moves, all coiled tight and full of energy. Their tension wrung in by bad experience. I read around the body of one; spiralled words instructing instinct how to react to a left hook. There’s a score more stored; quite an arsenal, she can fight when called upon. More viciously in Greek I gather.

My interest in the Apothecary threads me through this serpentine warren of flesh, and delivers me more easily a third time to a capacious laboratory. Long heavy white–topped desks, overhung with cool fluorescence, grid out the floor space, and support a strict sequence of beakers, coiled glass tubes, burners, flasks, bungs, pipettes, burettes, mortars, pestles, spatulas and scoopulas. Books, old and older, lie flat but ordered equally obsessively, to the left of each array of utensils. Their titles betray their contents quite clearly. Notably: The Quackery of Grimoire, Alchemy for All, and The Chemistry of Intent. All bases (plus acids, plus compounds) covered by the references inside these covers. And what of what’s manufactured here when the apothecary is present? Well the potions, the powders, the poisons—whatever they are—are bottled behind unfathomable esoteric labels, that themselves line shelves behind glass doors. Each ready for call off and categorised by function; their proposed purpose more clearly understandable: Happiness, Sadness, and some shades more. Yes—their purpose is the sway of emotion. Complicated cultures to support the simplest ends. I imagine her conscious, experiencing some outside stimulus, the apothecary in her (yes, in her) working hard to locate the right mix to mould her mood, then frantically ensuring the correct dose be promptly dispensed.

I must be mindful of the time, so to cede to an impulse to investigate what’s designated the ‘Pit of Despair’ can only be a wrong decision. Nevertheless, an unexpectedly easy birth into here affords me that moment’s indulgence. The worn passageway en route indicates she visits, to my dismay (and to her’s), far too often. For most the Pit of Despair would be compartmentalised, held inside—yet aside. And why? For the protection of the self; lessons learnt of the gravest magnitude that most in our lifetimes must endure; loves lost, bereavements, great batterings of the body. Each orbit-shifting shock to one’s being and emotional stability stowed away to be remembered only by index—the details too raw, too emotive, too much to confront. Though here—my Hellen—she evinces a penchant for the melancholy—gratified she is, I see, by pressing her own bruises. Where I’ve influenced my mindscape to found the mother of all bunkers, titanium shelled with reinforced walls a metre thick, and in it, seal the unfaceable—she pushes her consciousness right in, and force feeds it every flavour of angst. A masochist’s picnic, where she sits alone upon a black blanket, ‘neath a blanket of black clouds. All around; a no mans’ land, pock-marked with apocalyptic pits—open graves brimming with blood as dark as tar, and pus that grins a luminescent green from thriving within its own festering. Entering here, I’m right, was a wrong decision.

My mission I realise I’ve not clearly confessed. The curiosity I wish to sate, is to find the source…of the soul. Yet so many more revelations distract me from that aim—uncovering so much of her so swiftly appeases my glutton.

A brief encounter with the Cinema and my flimsy will rules I should poke my head in to see what’s on. A screening of her dream is the answer; this is where she’s presently engaged. I watch from the shadows knowing the glaring projector will obscure me further. And there she is; awake and on show in that sleep within sleep, within sleep. I’m observing the third tier to her psyche. She’s up there in black and white reacting to actors, and morphing environs in a narrative concocted by all this machinery that holds her here—that holds me here too I realise. Perversely I mock the surreality of the set, but straighten my opinion with a single glance around the auditorium. I’m immersed to my neck in the surreal of course. Those weak lights that ride the sheathed serpents, I note, have changed their motion. Till now they’ve idled autonomously and predictably by; yet presently they circle where I stand. They’ve spotted me! Not mere messengers, but scouts too—I’ve come to their attention…they flit on, BUT wayward from their original course. On the screen they converge to tell her the tale of my incursion. Tattlers! Her dream sequence changes scene; it’s Brief Encounter now; a train with her, herself, she and me.

Oh my, my stay here is almost over.

I’m being followed, thankfully, so far, by things mostly massless. They’re coming ever closer though, too close; those infernal lights, they buzz me like birds about an intruder in a ransacked colony. Onward to Qualia I must venture, with greater urgency. I want to suffuse into every sense of mine the essence of her that is the core itself of her each and every experience. See what she’s crystallised and sculpted from all that’s been filtered through her, through here and—if it’s tangible—I’ll hold it in my hands too. As difficult as such a feat is to conceive; it’s proving harder to achieve.

The label Qualia is wise to me, it hops like those lights from chamber to chamber—buying time so some semblance of sentience, I suspect, can gather itself to defend against my inquiry. The labels then were never for me I conclude, for her only, for the native’s navigation. Too small a puzzle to ponder and a distraction from my aim; I know the chamber that holds her soul, the most unnasuming of these immediate many—skulking right before me. I head to its entrance, a mesh of serpents strung across that become alert and pissed at my presence. What eyes they can, they fix on me—tongues out and spitting venom through their forks and their sibilance. And above that hiss, the trudge of boots from behind…far behind yet nearing. Not massless anymore. Her white army, that which I clocked in the War Room, has mobilised and wants me out—or dead. I look to my own feet, back up at the snakes, bite my bottom lip, drop my head again, and charge at them.

They give way yet barely flex from my attempt; I’m through—though with great exception. I am rendered asunder; the pain, more intense than any torture, on which I could write a chapter, thankfully leaves with the other half of me. The absence of hands, arms and feet plays havoc with my bearings and coordination. Nevertheless I’m aloft, at what I imagine is head height, supported purely by my will. I glance behind—even to turn feels markedly strange, no tightening and loosening of neck muscles, more the sweeping view through the graceful pan of a cinema camera is the sensation. My mortal coil. There it is, stripped from me and snagged up; a stranded slinkie tangled in those stretched out snakes. That wrapper, my former hide, is met by the soldiers of her white army who have at last caught up. They waste no time in beginning their consumption, growing fatter as my carcass shrinks. I sweep my view back and focus on the centre of this chamber. On a single stone bed she lies, naked, and as cold in appearance as a corpse. I know though she doesn’t—a mere projection; a ruse to fix my attention. A distraction, yes, while she determines a way to evict me, without any need to appear from the shadows.

We are now on equal terms, I mourn the lost opportunity of holding whatever was to be her essence in my hands. For, as you know, I now have none; I am but the extraction of my perception—that is all. Left, right, up, down whether there be physical obstacles or a clear path, it doesn’t matter. I look to somewhere in the chamber, foresee myself there and I am there.

On a whim I am where that effigy lies, projected to me in its pure form—the lure she offers is she as she sees herself. No external ravages have worn, nor work–hardened the face, and the body could well be alabaster. You may look how you deserve at forty, but inside the template’s chaste I note. Unashamedly I admire the form as the timer that’s counted my time away draws the most reluctant grains through its waist. It has—I suspect from the very instant this sortie started—been wise to my breach. Now me, as I adore her immaculate shell, knowing its bait, I wait, having bitten—and care not for doing so. To know too our proximity, that we two could have been one, could be one, CAN AGAIN BE ONE. I snatch my en–spirited self and pan my view to the darkest shadow in the chamber, one more whim and I am there.

The ‘there’ isn’t next to her, I don’t move next to her, no, I move into her; When our galaxies collide the gulf between our stars is halved but its still massive. Interpenetration; the nothing in the space between is doubled and yet—less lonely. So little flashes flare up in the void, those rare accidents, where the things that matter for one smack into those (on another course) of the other—but so what; so small in such a scheme.

I lay merged with her, for a time unmeasured, without permission, with the shame and contentment of a newly-climaxed nun. She silently accommodated me till…It was like she woke, she spoke. We spoke. Only we didn’t speak, it was two intrinsic natures for the first time witnessing a union, the melding of minds, of spirits, and of nothing. In a language that transcends telepathy…

But that was it. Intuitively I knew she was rejecting me. Passively she’d permitted my intrusion, perversely enjoyed it; a test press of one of her bruises. Now though, the first of her white coats are here…and they’ve come to take me away.

Held in her dream she was, whilst I tiptoed, crawled and trod about her psyche. This time—the she of she has me. I’m plucked by some unfathomable force from my ethereal loftiness, and held for the main arrival. Those that get to me first set about re-skinning me with some ghastly secretion, then parcel me, paralysed, into a viscous glob. Countless more overwhelm the gateway’s webbing of this chamber—gushing through with me their focus, and a collective determination to convey me from her refuge.

And that they do. I’m slid down snake after snake. Tubules, fistulas, filaments, and skewed grooves whir by. Towards the light I go, pushed too by reptilian scales with their recursive attempts to slither on this conveyor—the anchored snakes I’m sure are in envy they can’t mobilise themselves, consoling their frustration by nudging me what little they can for the wider cause—collaborating with the white army to expel me.

Passing entrances unseen on entry, labelled: Sexuality (2), Motor-Learning, Balance, Clock Shop, Posture…too many, too fleeting a look to commit them to mind. I rue my banishment; the light’s returning, there’s so much more to discover. But I rue too my personal rejection, and if I were to be freed from this straight-jacket of a lens, if I were to be honest with myself- – —I—I’d have my thin shreds of decency walk me from here, albeit with head bowed, voluntarily.

A final glimpse through the window to the soul as I leave the orbit of her closing eye, and roll away.

A teardrop channelled by an old laughter line.

Speak…No…

Three glass coins; father coin, mother coin and baby coin are pulled from a wishing well and cast onto a glass table. From the bird’s eye we see a troll,that guards the ‘under-table’, pop its head into view like a squinting mole from a hole. It mumbles moreover rumbles with a deep and incoherent clarity  “Spee Noo”. A hand gathers the coins and casts them across the table anew. The troll mumbles and rumbles again, quite liking the part it’s playing but flustered by its speech impediment.

Stage left no, stage right no, stage sky – YES; Thor in a string vest flexes his biceps and his forearm muscles tighten soon after as the oversized football-ended drumsticks he grasps start to deliberately and measuredly beat themselves onto an equally oversize kettle drum. Slow at first with a pace that steadily intensifies. Animal from the muppets pulls your focus to some other-dimensional corner where he sits on an unseated drum stool and rattles out a cascading riff on an old casio electric drum kit.

An ethereal Martin Fry, voice freshly polished eclipses Animal and slides the instruction ‘Speak’ over his larynx. All eclipsing this sound is too and all graceful it pervades but doesn’t alter the ambience. All matter of fact he sounds to boot. But “No” comes the quick reply–his own reply in a matching tone. The Troll listens itself now and learns these two words “Speak, No“. That’s what it was trying to say it thinks to itself. Martin Fry employs a one-fingered pianist, the pianist plays and pitches high notes, in serial, into the milieu.

So, with the scene now set to agreeable, Martin breaks into stern song, yet there’s that smoothness that stays with his voice. The voice he uses to state his argument in a silky-silvery denial; always denial.

A Jazz club sax player makes a brief appearance from the seventies cigarette vapour that is part his making. Eyes closed, cheeks puffed with air and nicotine he belts out a small solo while the listener Martin; who gave up the listening years ago, listens for a second to himself singing and reminiscing. To decide only to bin the idea for further defiance. Yes defiance.

Defiant, you see – Fry’s in love, he’s so deludedly in love he’s certain it’s forever and as much as he wants to, he can’t sing away the denial.

An interlude perhaps – for him to gather energy me suspects – No good, voices, voices, him, himself, he becomes the TROLL. Animal and Troll then combine with the upskilling pianist who’s quickly growing fingers. It’s an alliance and it’s all for the crescendo, all for the climax, all for ceding to a shared eternity.

Now reader, you can stop here, move quickly on and dismiss this message from a man, a true inhabitant of the pigeon hole you hold that’s dymo taped with the label : Bedlam.

Goodbye.

Or take this key from me and turn it. 

A door opens. There’s a note suspended centrally in a cubed room. It reads: Get the best cans, get yourself free, get 5 minutes, get yourself comfortable. Get the one song: ‘4 Ever 2 Gether by ABC’, get it on.  Close your lids, open your mind and listen.

Get then what I’m on about.

Number Me With Rage…

I remember a summer’s day; call it one in the height of the heat of the summer of ’76 if you want to put yourself in the moment. A summer that had some ants scurrying about a paving flag and me eyeing them with curiosity. All witlessly going about their programmed routines, and unable to witness the bliss of sunshine. A summer’s day? A boy? Some ants? Where’s this going to go? Well for my part, my wits provided no thoughts of bringing a magnifying glass to bear a death ray down on these critters/scurriers. This you should expect for a boy of 9, and in such a time; a rite of stereotypical passage; naively experiencing and experimenting with his awakening malevolence. Consider ME a benevolent child I dare you; no don’t—because I wasn’t. I exercised my power that afternoon, and callously performed an uncaring dance on that flag, likely squashed half of their number. I committed mass murder, just to see what it felt like, and to observe the aftermath.

Save for the rending of a fly shortly after, I never repeated any acts of ill will nature against nature. Not through guilt, merely little interest—I took more from creation than from destruction. Paradoxically, this was in the form of model-making, and those which I made were small-scale replicas of WWII bombers. Enola Gay being one metaphorical ant-squishing uber example. My empathy epiphany didn’t actually arrive till many years later; it was such a relief when it did. By 17 I was worryingly unworried I’d been short-changed with values, and handed the vulture’s share of conscience when it was being apportioned.

The relief washed over me, as did a wave over an oiled bird on a beach. Walking along Hythe’s shingle beach I saw but a neck and beak above the small waves that slow-clapped the shore. In sure distress it was, half washed up, and totally encased in crude; I’d say minutes from drowning. Between the breakwaters there was me, in rude health, and this imperilled cormorant. For the first time I’m sure, the collective of cells in my frontal lobe combined to create empathy—I felt for this bird and I was going to help it—I cared after all.

Down the shingle I trudged, crossed the waterline—trainers, feet, trousers up to the shin, all soaked—to bravely pluck this creature from its mire. I walked with it up to the sea wall and rested it amongst some sunshine and seaweed, feeling sure it didn’t have the energy to totter off. I made my own way away though, up the eroded steps, onto the promenade and into the nearest phone box. With hands full of sludge and pecks/bites I sullied the Yellow Pages in search of the RSPB, found their number then made a similar mess of the dial and handset when I called it. Somebody would be there within the hour to rescue it I was informed. As sticky as I was, I didn’t stick around but went home comforted that I may have saved a life.

There’s a pent up sense in me still, that I must atone for those murders of all those decades ago. I release house spiders, relocate snails, feed foxes and feral cats. I’m incorrectly principled I’m convinced, but the acts feel right to me. Come autumn, I even go as far as going far away, and scattering the tree seeds I gather from these parts onto wasteland I spot in other parts—the thinking being I’m creating new havens for, and bringing life, of the wild kind, to otherwise barren terrain.

Before I go a bit about ants…and life in general…

Like those neurons I mentioned—ants I now know form a collective; one alone, yes, is practically witless, adhering to a narrow set of commands that determine its actions. Put dozens, nay thousands of them together though and they become a shapeshifter with purpose. Exquisitely efficient, free from internal strife. They’re able to attack the biggest survival problems and make value judgements that benefit them as a single entity, a group, a colony. Their secret of course is complexity. Without any real design, complexity breeds its own motive, and its own utility. As it has done with this universe we inhabit: this and all of us in it are here, as the by products of simple agents following simple sets of rules.

 

 

The Mind’s Sigh…

Thoughts, ideas, so fleeting they are, I wish they’d more often put roots into the soil from which they sprout, be visible and anchored ready for harvest in either their nascent state or left a while to mature before being baled up into wisdom. But no, most thoughts are not so, they emerge instead from some murky pond of the possibly ponderable into the light of consciousness. Hatched freshly from their pupa they set themselves out on some stalk to dry their wings in readiness for their own mission. So, so fleeting indeed; they fly off as soon as they’re able. I do my best to net them for the sake of musing, admiration or consideration, but most escape to be one with another of their evanescent selves, I guess, in some happy dalliance in the ether of the definitely imponderable. Unwitnessed by all.

To capture and study every notion one has is a sure impossibility I know, but I see a sadness in what is wasted. In this universe of inordinate emptiness and magnitude–ought all thoughts to be super precious? There’s surely room for them. Only the Eureka moments seem to stick around to make it to a notepad or be shored in the mind by their own strength. Out of my window at work today I contemplated something nigh on profound. ‘Nigh on’ being the key word pair; I can’t for the middle-aged life of me now remember what it was. Had it been truly profound, it’d still be with me making a feature of itself on my mental landscape. Only that it had me smile inwardly and make a soon to be broken promise to ponder it later is what I recall. ‘Work’ you see is the other key word; it got in the way, my obligation to my occupation overruled my desire to delve at that juncture and do that musing I mention. Outstretched went the idea’s wings and out of contemplation (and that very window I stared) it flew. And in my pocket stayed my notepad.

Those with a greater stature than mine whose shoulders I like to stand on and look inside their brains (figuratively of course); the Great Thinkers. I posit they should have listeners and documenters on hand to record their thoughts for each of their waking moments, for even their small ideas are immense. Were Eureka alive today, we might just have discovered the theory of displacement was actually gotten years earlier when he was picking his nose.

Lurid Hymn…

To sin in apartment 117? Block called The Heathen’s Heaven
Good luck for him he’s on the 14th Floor
Early hours now cool off the night before
Whencefrom Manipur’s quarter he witnessed the roar
When Ashok Vatika tipped the score
Quixotic kiss, excited exotic lolita
Demure Samira, from Bangalore
Lured him behind
The veshyaalay
Door

 

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace…

That we are, some of us know it some of us don’t. Thought food there that’s by the by and by that I mean the intro to this post is immediately en-route to bypass my point. Ever the digresser; there’s a machine you see that I watch over and sometimes talk to; it repays my attention/affection and its gift of electrical juice by standing by as my sentry; ever-willing and ever-ready. And that sentry is my answer-machine. It doesn’t see, it’s not my eyes, but my ears and my regurgitated voice, my call. My call? Can my answer be a call. A call to those that call? Think wolves, think wilderness, then maybe it is valid–or a complete howler. In my absence, when I’m off on some hillside all hirsute and silhouetted by the moon following another calling and uber-wary of silver bullets, my answer-machine buffers up the buttered up and not so buttered up utterances, callers’ words that come in are held in storage to be delivered at a future time to these port and starboard portholes of mine. My lugs I mean, little tunnels of love over and above my lobes, whose canals unwillingly convey those barges and barrages of messages one, at some time, has to deal with. All the while I’ll add preferring the pleasure boats of sweet music or meditational modulations over their more commercial counterparts.

‘Hello,’ then a pause (a fun play of mine this always has someone thinking I’m actually there). ‘You’ve reached the office of…,’ (I voice my full name here to add formality, decrease my amenability and sate* some odd wish for credence). ‘I’m not around to take your call presently, but leave me a message. I’ll get back to you when I can.’

Wow, newsworthy stuff that: “Man’s Answer Machine Tweaked a Bit for Own Amusement!” Barely a deviation from a stock message yes, yet embedded with such outlandish rebellion. A pause. Applause for the pause please, a pause my kingdom I’d give sometimes for a pause. Breath has been caught in a pause, sure defeat turned to victory in such a moment, lots of thoughts have been had in ‘pauses’–oh and those folks that upped and outed themselves from the trenches in WW1 to kick a ball about in No Mans’ Land. History written right there in the space of a pause. I’ve just made a time out symbol with my hands, need to move on, more paucity with the pause from hereon as I want next to reveal what I add on.

Well Dear Bloggee, my tinkering stops not with one little short spell of silence, I go beyond that. From outlandish rebel to an absolute answer machine anarchist, the incommunicado anti-christ I am. You see, I re-record the aforespoke outgoing message, quite regularly I’ll confess–finger to temple here…and twirl. Flavour I add, soupçons of a smidge admittedly. Upping the tempo an unnoticeable shade, slowing it down too; mucking about with the lilt, the intonation and pitching the tone sometimes to my mood of the moment. The semi-permanent saving is put out there, in here on my desk, my sentry’s wired to the world and its payload all loaded up for when’er the urge to regurge is solicited. Calling my number from thereon and me not being about gives you your meal of the day and you won’t even know you’ve had it.

 

 

*Thank you for that word, to the one that gave it; it filled a hole.
Title plagiarised from a 4OD showing.

 

I liked but didn’t pass the edit:

A century that sees a sentry that’s blind.

You want answers? I got answers.