Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Monday, 23 January 2012
a sprig of rosemary that might have belonged to a witch
changed the shape of my teeth
first there was a tooth
then there wasn’t
All evening I probed the space with my tongue
Just this ragged place of jagged lines
that might have been mountain pinnacles
stalactites or brittle-bone icicles
I circled and scoured for hours
Then I stopped
slept and forgot
the truth of no tooth
Sunday, 22 January 2012
caused us no end of worry, yes, a real big problem
that is to say, how were we to get his twenty four stones down the
winding way of his crooked stairs in his crooked house where
nothing, wall, floor, tables, chairs or ceiling grows up straight?
There was talk of cables and hoists, planks and ropes but
somehow we made it without any of these things. Course,
throw in the super-sized coffin and the sheer bulk
meant that the tradition of close family and friends
being pall-bearers went right out the window – which
was another option we considered when we got him
out of there, past his portrait as a young boy in RAF
uniform at the start of the war – everything was thinner
in black and white except his glasses and smile. Past the
china dogs with chipped noses and out into the village where
mourners gathered and everyone traded their
favourite memories of Uncle Edgar – how he always wore
gum boots whatever the weather even on the beach in summer,
the car he bought in 1967 – an Austin A40 that never went anywhere
because Ed refused to go further than the end of the village and this:
the time he was asked to shift the chicken shed so he set to it
crow-barring the boards apart and walloping the beams
and it was hot work but he kept on until the roof was gone, the walls
were gone and there was just the floor and he took of his cap,
wiped his brow and prised the planks and yanked the nails
and chucked the timber into neat stacks when the dirt started to move
and he couldn’t believe his eyes but it wasn’t dirt or earth that moved
but thousands and thousands of grey mice that scampered this way
and that ‘shocked by the sudden daylight’ the old boy laughed, and said
there were mice in every woodpile, pantry, piano and shed
and Farmer told Ed it was probably best he kept quiet about this
day’s work so he did, walked from farm to his crooked cottage
-in his gumboots - at the top of the hill –his daily commute.
Thursday, 19 January 2012
that can bring a sense of peace. I’m in
another city and this room is like a corridor
painted a particularly vile shade of green.
I sit at the desk and we’re a man – I should
say woman down so I take phone calls,
pencil appointments into the diary
and staple pages together to make booklets.
It’s as if I’ve returned after a long period
of illness – everyone pleased to see me
and I realise I’m pleased to see them.
Happy again among new friends
for however long it might last.
The sky is now silver and blue
instead of its customary black.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Yes, that’s what it’s like, being back
in the old city that once felt like home –
sort of. I did tell her I felt like a ghost.
Said it as we walked into the library
and as the words left my lips I looked
up to see another face from the past
looking right into me. I could sense
the recognition there and I’m not sure
if anyone understood what I was
trying to say – my fault, not theirs.
tight, compact. No windows, a speaker
playing music a shade too loud, the place
bordering on too warm filled with students –
an out of the way place and I felt a strange lifting
of the spirits as I took off my coat. It was
as if I’d been admitted to a secret club
coffee arriving in a lime-green mug
the size of a soup bowl.
came back again. The window spotted
and smeared so the world outside
was distorted and I felt like I’d been
left behind again. I saw someone
I once knew, recognised him despite
the mire I was looking through.
He waved and I gave him the thumbs up
and grinned in spite of myself.
Monday, 16 January 2012
connected to electronic muscles.
george wears engine oil like some men wear after-shave. he’s got dark skin and
good looks. in fact, he looks a lot like elvis. george, the king of rock and oil.
but now his hair his thinning. a bald spot shines like a headlamp. he chain smokes
and i don’t ever see him stopping.
are you precious about your computer? george can barely make out the letters on
his keyboard. he’s blotted them out with oil. whorls of fingerprints groove his mouse.
he wears red overalls and i think there’s a lot of pent up anger zipped up in
there. tragedies have touched his life. bureaucracy has made his work
difficult. everything written down in triplicate. in theory, he can’t even smoke in
his own workshop anymore.
but he’s still got a smile as wide as the sea.
Saturday, 14 January 2012
Friday, 13 January 2012
To get to the city necessitated a rat-scramble under barbed wire and a quick decision. A split second’s hesitation would risk collision and mutilation. The two times I did it, under cover of the darkness, we always took the left run. A scar in the ground burned by people as desperate as me. Look up, yes, he’s there. The loon-moon faced guard who watches our every move. At any moment he might shower you with spit, bullets or nothing.
Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Monday, 9 January 2012
Sunday, 8 January 2012
Thursday, 5 January 2012
You wonder if these men are happy in their dirty work. A radio tuned to Radio 1 blares its numbing sound across the yard and one of the men, the one with the handlebar moustache gets a feeling that someone’s watching him. He looks up, straight at you. For a second, everything freezes, stays that way until you find yourself on the far side of the bridge, walking past the iron sign that tells you something of the history and its construction.
Now you see business units laid out in prison uniformity. The smoked glass and cool paint schemes do nothing to relieve the grimness of the place…
Here is a warehouse for a fruit and veg supplier. There’s a bench opposite – fake wood made out of plastic – and you sit awhile. Your legs ache and it’s starting to rain. There’s nothing here, you think, to distract the casual visitors from the malls.
But look, here’s a hotel – The Prince Albert. The Victorian Prince would have been alive when Central Bridge was a fine new thing. You can see wooden stairs spiralling up inside the hotel; see them through the tall, arched windows. You think about the people who have gone up and down those stairs. The lives and stories lived inside there, here at the end of Central Bridge where you sit in the rain trying to decide what to do next. Whether you should go through with it at all.
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Monday, 2 January 2012
Sunday, 1 January 2012
One project sticks like polyfilla to the cracked and porous surface of my memory. Using an empty polyfilla container to house a battery and some complicated looking electrical bits, he somehow managed to wire up the front door bell so that it sounded like a police car siren. This was when police cars had a simple two-tone dee-dah noise and quiet England hadn’t been invaded by the Starsky & Hutch whooping there’s been a murder/there’s been a drugs bust sound that’s now so common-place in villages up and down the land we barely notice it.
I don’t know how many years that doorbell lasted but it provided a pleasant diversion/conversation topic whenever someone came to the door.
The odd thing now is that I realise that my Dad was younger than I am now when he created his amazing Dixon of Dock Green doorbell. It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? Remembering what your parents were about when they were younger than you?
In those days he had jet black hair like an Italian. He came to see me today and I pondered the fact that his hair is now very white and getting thin in places. We talked about the old days when Grandad was still alive. This always gets a laugh. In fact, I had to wipe away a tear.
Neither of us finds conversation easy. But had there been a lull the polyfilla police car was ready to come rushing in and break the silence forty years on down the road.