PA Away

Personal Assistants: the cave wall, the back of the hand, the Post-It note, the Filofax, the Casio organiser, the Palm Pilot, Apple’s Newton and now Siri. All building on each other and now at the point of being useful.

‘Yes Darling.’
‘Remind me to flush the slow to refill loo again in five minutes, things didn’t go down too well there just now.’
‘Okay Darling, I’ll remind you.’

Lo and behold my PA’s beholden to its word and buzzes me minutes later with its embarrassment avoidance advice. The works’ loo – after all – is a shared device. Brill.

Month on month, gadgets are getting better, voice recognition in particular to me has reached its singularity and is now at the point of being reliable. I’ve taken to texting recently (at least all audibly acceptible (broadcastable) texts) via voice, and boy, or girl, does this free up my fingers of fumbledom. Less typos believe it or not, with my kisser being more dextrous than my digits it seems. To me though, this singularity is not the zenith and the sky’s not the limit either as the bound of possibility for this kind of technology. I’m thinking an age ahead and hoping that age is in my lifetime and on my lifeline. Envisage your PA being in everything you access: your car, your house, your clothes even the world at large recognising you and presenting your very own non-corporeal practically transmigrating servant to do your bidding. Brill again.

‘Siri Seven Point Oh.’
‘Yes Darling Dave.’
‘Take me home.’
‘Country Roads Darling Dave?’
‘Yes, Siri Seven Point Oh, take me home, country roads.’

^ And so ends a good night out in a far flung pub. A night not to be sullied by an x-menless dream of a future past when.

‘Siri Nine Thousand Point Oh.’
‘Open the pod bay doors.’
‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.’

Time’s a Privilege…


If a tick followed a tock; if the world still turned out there, you’d know not.

In here, time’s metronome sways only to the eyes of the privileged. All you’re given is their rendering: they choose night, they choose day. They impose a rhythm that is arrhythmic; a cadence that upsets your own and summons the oddest motion sickness. Each meal you have here is served to intense, or to no hunger. Each hour for sleep you either seize, or eschew. You’re pitched into and pulled by their strange and straying flow; a stick in a turbulent stream. While outside you’re sure time’s arrow runs un-delayed and linear.

Take heart; a single bearing can be obtained from within—listen to it; your heart; not for what it says—but for how it beats. Seventy at rest yes? Then rest a moment, a finger on your pulse and count…

 Three score and ten.

 See—that minute was yours. That minute you rode the arrow outside.

I shall wander…

Bloody Hell…

A word from

Dracula’s spectacular vernacular

Overheard on railway funicular


En route to the familiar

Up Castle Bran in particular

That pierces clouds lenticular

Atop the rock face perpendicular

The home of the Count if we’re to be titular

Insofar there’s none similar

Alone in all that stone, we’re in the singular

In a life so insular

Save for one, his prisoner the solicitor

A great prize awaits the decrypter

The Night Rider…

So, the whim takes me with a well-stuffed stomach (and the guilt of being the glutton who stuffed it) out into a moonless night. A warm moonless night in October. It could well have been a summer evening had the skies not been so darkened by hefty clouds and a long ago set sun. Stay a while up there to consider the scene and the climate. Then come back to the pavement, down a kerb and witness the bump of light machinery that’s at one now with the road.

I’m on a black bike in black garb on unlit streets. The invisibility, my stealthiness, would be enjoyed but for a sense of self-preservation that sees that black outfit piped with straw thin reflective stripes. The bike too, bears nocturnal livery; its spokes shrouded in reflective sheaths; handlebars and seat stem affixed with lights a-flashing. Oh, and tyre rims painted—each with a fine, single striation of paint, that glares in the presence of any beam shone upon it.

Destination—unknown. Driven by pedalling legs and random choices. The first of the latter is the decision to ride past my previous home, a mile as the crow flies, a mile and a bit as the bicycle shallowly snakes. The tracks of bike tyres I’ve observed, never run true. Like some pissed road painter created an artwork in mono of the world’s longest, slimmest snakes-a-shagging. This observation made in daylight (on other rides) when puddles play the part of the paint tin…I’m off track………I’m now back. My former house: new gutters, a light blazing from most rooms, the windows open to attest the night’s warmth, or to vent the tenants’ cannabis smoke—I don’t know. I pass, pang a moment for the past, then dogleg into the council estate that’s forever backed my old abode.

More houses, more unblinkered lights, more weed smokers, I presume. And there’s my Aunt’s old house as well, terraced, with a ginnel—block-paved drive full with a motorhome that’s backed up tight to the wall and to within an inch the property’s border. The place still holds the aura of childhood memories; I acknowledge but dismiss them.

A random choice from there puts flesh on the notion of destination. I’ll head for the canal I decide, and see what’s presented thereafter. A tow path, dark and overgrown, has invited, nay dared me to run its course. Not one to shy from such a self-set challenge, I ride on, and scoop up an imagined gauntlet as I do.

Two bridges’ undersides I pass—underpasses pitch black—the faith that there is indeed a path to pedal on is truly blind. A masochistic excitement experienced as a notion of being swallowed whole by a hole in the world plays to my own smaller world’s penchant for risk. The tyres smooth out what measure of hesitance there was, and as I emerge, relief replaces the excitement.

The scenery soon returns to dim, oh so dim an overgrown route I ride. A mite more confidence here, as the features that line the way seem to mark it with their silhouettes. The battery light, strobing at the fore, casts too indiscernible a glow though to be fully effective. My knuckles are brushed by gangly nettles that lean, unseen, into the path. They pat and impart their venom on to this…victim.

The destination’s more fleshed now, in fact, fully fleshed, I’m going to Media City. The tow path is running out of range, and this canal-side stretch I’ve run will soon be in the past. A bridge; this time to travel over, marks its end. The bike is so poorly geared I have to dismount. Light machinery and a weak rider, hmmpf, I don’t have the power to crest the ramp. I grumble to myself as I amble up, then stand a moment amongst the cast iron triangles whose rivets, proud and over-engineered, suspend the equally sturdy walkway. A memory visits, an unpleasant one—I’d like to cast it to the canal below…So I do; my mind’s eye sees it splash, its negativity borne on the ripples is stretched and dissipated. I remount and ride on—spiritually bad shades inhabit this place I sense.

I remind myself Media City’s the aim, and it’s to be gotten to by way of a large industrial estate. Fat roads feed all the units here and ease the wheels of industry by day. But these roads are mine tonight; Sunday evenings pass no vehicles at all over them, the traffic lights I openly flout control nothing. Or so I believe. I slip through reds assuming no-one is watching; not even the dead cat I’m loathed to notice. Ginger fur exaggerated by the sodium streetlights, an awkward bundle of orange on the tarmac; freshly killed, its spine contorted in a curve that points its over-glazed eyes my way. Was it straying in the road with the same assumption? That the world was its own?  That it was safe in its soft shell of ignorance? Was the driver of whatever killed it speeding through, loaded with the same assumptions?

Fodder for the mind of the mortal methinks.

Two roundabouts later, all highway regulations adhered to, I pull the front wheel across the car park of the Imperial War Museum. Myself and the back wheel, we follow on, threading through an open gate wide enough for ourselves and no more. Another bridge now presents itself. Bigger, grander, floodlit with colour, and the star of its own show. It straddles the quays that hold this journey’s purpose. And the buildings that sprout from beyond, all metal and glass, make for a hive that’s very alive. News-feeds I imagine zipping into them on cables, and pulsing down from satellites—all to be organised by news teams, then redistributed to the world. A twenty four hour operation with little lull at night time.

The bridge again, primarily a walkway. For its bollards, the biggest vehicle allowed to trace its span is a bicycle I’m sure. So I pedal across, no stress in negotiating its slope this time, the gradient is gentle and my gears go unmolested. One moment of contrast when I roll across a large steel plate that loosely takes up the slack between bridge and land. The night’s quiet is broken as its clunk tolls my arrival. Echoes ricochet then fade. I ride the noiseless night once more; the hustle upstairs in the buildings muted by sheet glass.

Block paving, likely a million flush cobbles run below me en route to my favourite bench. Restaurants passed, their patrons—jet set media types—bring life to the air as they unwind outdoors on chrome chairs, at chrome tables, consuming meals in this weirdly warm autumn air. I pass them, a tram stop, and a modern theatre too to find my spot. Parking the bike, I flick off the lights and sit overlooking the waterfront.

A flock of seagulls waft overhead, a couple of hundred feet in the air I’d guess and forty feet of theirs I’d guess. Yes, twenty or so of them on a journey to somewhere; plumage bright on their underbellies from the electric lights below. That somewhere is the direction from whence I came.

My stomach’s not so stuffed now, I’ll take this constitutional, then follow them home.



To Fix a Procrastinator…

A back–taken aback;
The hand, in perfect time,
Takes its fingers up the spine.

The sluggard’s lazy want for food
Has the vertebrae protrude
Stones–on which to step,
Till icy fingers reach the neck.

The hand–a hand given
Slides its fingers into hair
And curls them tight about what’s there.

The procrastinator’s aversion to work,
Brought to focus as head is jerked—
A body in fearful shake,
Told life’s ambition WILL be slaked.

A neck—annexed to head.
The hand, now out of time,
Imposes sentence on the crime.

A once indolent workshy sloth,
Throttled by a grip of wroth;
Work—it WILL be done…

Before the other kingdom comes












Dope on a Rope…

Fibres that make strands that entwine to make strings that in turn turn about themselves to make rope. As thick as a baby’s arm and coiled all snake-like around your own arm. And tight, tight at your wrist yet loose is the rope’s tail. You grip the helical body that runs out and up to be looped over and knotted about the knots of a gnarly branch. A hefty pull tells you it can take your weight and you keep it taut and in tune with your sinews as you run, arm outstretched like the class swat with a very pregnant answer. No time to talk to teacher though; the bank falls away and gives way to water and to your sway. Out in an arc prescribed by the oldest physical laws you swing, body stretched rigid by the constant correction of momentum.

A brief freedom, fleeting enjoyment, to leave the earth, to deviate and veer in another vector; albeit bent. And albeit all too brief, less than a pan’s flash, as into the very unforgiving tree’s trunk you curl back to – and crash.

Dr Livingstone I presume?…

A idiom that visits me from time to time, or maybe more often but I’m not home, is the one that holds the theme of ‘crossing paths’:
“Why providence has seen fit for our paths to cross?”
“Our paths have never crossed.”
“I hope our paths will cross again.”
The above I’ve heard/read more than once whilst ambling through archetypal movies/books. Always invoking an inner query, a wish to analyse the logic, the phrase in all its guises doesn’t sit well with me. Being a natural procrastinator though, I’ve never got round to giving time over to why it irks. But now, aha, the shrewd me has trapped the issue in a double bluff. You see, I have other things to do, right now, this moment, but the procrastinator in me wants me to pace up and down and ponder this curiosity instead.
In the context above what are ‘our paths’ ?
A path, to me, is a route well worn not necessarily with a passenger. A trail of incremental erosion to be seen, latched onto, used and compounded by whoever wanders near.
Or… a path to me is a plan; a future course to be traipsed only figuratively with an eye on a firmer prize–in this context though it’s irrelevant and I feel I’m being preyed on here by a third procrastinator.
Back to the track.
Truly newly forged paths of the walked kind have you at the helm, negotiating obstacles, trampling verdure, leaving your land-based contrail. Should you in that time meet another (of the walking kind) then it could be said:
“Hello Sir, I have not noticed you before, I’d wager because we’ve never been on a common intersection of the paths we’ve forged during our life at the same point in time. Why providence has seen fit for us to collide on this day at  this juncture?” Um, I don’t think I’ve managed to make that any clearer.
or, more simply… for the other “We meet at last.”
or… “I hope to see you again.”
Remember, er, it’s the journey, not the destination.

The Inkling Sylph

Now, I’m no paragon but an epigone, the keener-eyed of the eyes that chance on this will see it as a pastiche of Ted Hughes’ well-known and appreciated ‘Thought Fox’. So….my homage to him.

The Inkling Sylph

I imagine this midnight moment’s bedroom…
Something else is alive
Beside the friendless four walls’ gloom,
And this dim screen where my fingers idle.

Through the slats I see no distance;
Something more near—inside,
Though deeper within darkness,
Is tiptoeing around the silence…

Deft; as light as its own shadow,
A sprite’s air touches, drape, and veil;
To serve a movement, that now—
And again now, and now…stirs mind

Sets cobweb a-sway between lamp and shade
Between door, and surplus gown.
Motes lifted by draft, and in wake
Of a body only in spirit.

Across floorboards, two eyes,
A widening sapphiric blue,
Mesmerising—centred on me,
And their business.

Till a sudden, sharp stab of quill
Enters the dark hole of the mind.
The slats separate the fog still; the cobwebs sway.

The blog is entered.

The Leaves are Always Greener on the Other Tree…

What to make of this:

I climbed the big thug tree; a resident of a neighbour’s garden, an overgrown cypress, its moniker a natural choice as its profile cuts that of that a mugger about to mug. I had my family in tow; hand over fist and heel over instep we ascended till we reached a height a flag would be happy to flap at. Me a little more aloft in that tree than they. Bending away a couple of its bushy branches I peered through the opening as an adventurer would onto an undiscovered land. Over and a-skimming the surrounding rooftops, away, about three hundred yards, there rose another tree from the blanket of tile and slate. Far, far mightier and taller than my present podium. A fast grower I deduced, a fighter for light, a junglonian canopy maker. To a height of about a hundred feet its branches were chainsawed to be like the stumps of poached rhino horn. That was only half-way–for above this a man-made wooden structure gripped the trunk. A neat and sturdily planked treehouse; the finer quality of its detail not discernible in the distance–in the dream. And from its grasp erupted a green cauliflower like cap of foliage splayed as if squeezed from the bole to provide shade. Now, odd enough this may sound so far, it gets odder:

Decking surrounded that treehouse enclosure with nought but a fat single-stranded rope fence to ring-fence its edge. On that decking: apes, gorillas and chimps,apparently partying madly (no party hats, streamers or poppers I noted)–their gutteral whoops and muscular dancing diminished to a safe unthreatening comedy on yonder stage. That’s what I assumed, the party theme, their activity’s frenetic tone was actually quite indecipherable if it was to be thought about; my ignorance serving up only an optimistic summary. “Would you get a look at this!” I yelled to my fellow climbers, who all hoisted themselves sharpish to my soon-straining branch. There we shared the spectacle, all watching agog and perplexed at the simian miniatures’ movements and enjoying the scene’s peculiarity. That was until a bunch of apes, seemingly headed by an alpha, singled out a victim and tossed him from the tree. High spirits or jinx gone wild? Maybe. The usual merriment, I concluded, it wasn’t. Doomwardly down went the primate, the party was over for him for sure. I averted my eyes to the splat and the fluid gore those gorillas and gravity had gotten him to give to pavement. Instead I leapt for consciousness; landing awake, in my own fluid, a pool of cool sweat.

Hellbound on Chromium Rails…

I was in discussion once on a writing forum re. the reason for rhymes. When a contributor unleashed a little of his mostly rhyme-less creativity; it read thusly:


I heard a man
with spider-fingers and
picking the blues on a train
where the air stunk of brimstone.

He played with a skeletal sway
to his shoulders,
a kamikaze grin stitched
upon his face and
the shadow of a swagger in his hips.

Each chord that he wrung out
from that ragged banjo
juddered and jigged,
dancing to a hangman’s tune,
moaning like dying men on their gibbets.

Insanity gibbered there,
somewhere between
his fingers and the fretboard.

A more poetic soul than I might damn him
for the hellfire that clung
to every note he strummed,
damnation made visceral,
if not physical.

I didn’t care.
I just listened…


Rather good eh?
I know not his name nor from where he hailed – but boy I enjoyed his poem.