Sunday, 31 August 2014

Doorway To The Garden

Photo: Su Joy


We walk over the forest.
I tell you about fragments of books.
Authors, titles long forgotten.
I can’t trace them no more.
Gone forever. Like dreams.
But they still let me into secret worlds.
I build my own stories around them.
Scenes within scenes.
Doorways into the garden.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Red Admirals/Memories of Glastonbury

The first of the Beaujolais was in
but I was experimenting with green ginger wine.

Epic histories, cosmic journeys

arrived in brown parcel paper. Recordings of Django Reinhardt...

We agreed to meet on a Saturday.

His car was a little white Datsun.

He wore a Harris tweed jacket and a wrist watch that he had found on a golf course in Essex. Jeans, white trainers and a baby blue sweatshirt.

Glastonbury was a good mix he said. People got on with their lives. A working town. He went there to do his laundry.

We climbed The Tor. I was conscious of his breathing as we traversed the hill.

Strange shapes in the landscape. Green rills.
Sheep and apple trees.

An aeroplane that put me in mind of a Lancaster bomber
skimmed St. Michael's tower.

The ground shook. I could see the pilot's eyes.

...

A piece of Welsh slate in an incense scented mystic shop.
Purveyors of fine Gothic goods.

Rain and smoke light rising.
Banks of cloud.

A lifetime later a long dead butterfly clings on in the dusk.
Others join in and attach themselves to the wall. Life leaves their wings.
Red and white eventually turns mollusc black.

They wait. Shrivelled and dead.

But I'm not sure if they've realised.

The growl of thunder.

(Quick! Unplug the television. Turn the mirrors to the walls...)

Transformed.

Wings, dry dust,
bodies, hollow husks

...

The Rifleman's Arms.
Alcoholics in leather,
blacksmith beards.

Time leaps forward.

A bass note catches my imagination.
A refrain that goes 'looking inside...'

In the morning, of another decade but still only a day or two later
I wake with a square of Avalon sky framed above my bed. 




 


Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Sure Shot

Photo: Alfred Joy


He's the tallest kid in town.
He must be close on seven foot.

Think his body must have been shaped with an angle-grinder.
Has a smile that wouldn't look out of place in a tooth-paste advert.
Easy going, gangling movements. A life that's never,
even when bad things happen, been taken too seriously
because everything, in the end, always falls into place.

Work and money?

Never a problem.

While most of us have kept our noses to the grindstone,
he always managed to wrangle himself onto a jet plane once or twice a year.

Trips to places we can only read about or see on TV.

He had height, naturally ability on his side.
He could make a game of it!
Toy with his opponents
as a cat paws a dying mouse.

But the weather keeps changing.

Too much wind, lately,
too much rain.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Shadow The Mango



Sunday’s gravy boat’s not sailing

but,

let’s for a moment imagine,
imagine that we have the power
to set it moving,
floating on its way again

through orange blossom, I think
on a background of dark blue

phials of murky water
distillations
of river mist.

Maybe now we are able
to face up
to some old truths

they sound like a new music
where the morning’s thoughts
shadow
the mango scented sun.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

In The End Row Cottage

Carpet-less stairs in the end row cottage,
a silver crutch with sinister
blue-grey plastic attachments

key holes make midnight eights

there should be something of the field here
if only one straw

fragrance
patchouli

an amber resin
in a black-stoppered bottle

dab it
on leather

somewhere, upstairs
a clay pipe
still being smoked

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

After Dark



In the deathly quiet of the midnight house
the new regime had been adhered to.

With a brown leather bag hooked over his shoulder
he had followed the ghost of a railway line.

After dark and dinner the work continued
in a pool of yellow lamplight.

The fountain
pen

flowing an endless rain of words
that came from the hand
that had touched the morning’s cold moss.

He kept on going until the digits in the sphere
tripped a code that said sleep now, sleep.

But no books have risen from this reservoir, so far

Monday, 18 August 2014

Going Electric. Again...



Just about the time Dire Straits became a global phenomenon selling a gazillion copies of Brothers In Arms with a daft song about custom kitchen deliveries I had succeeded in achieving a new all time financial low.

While Sting and Mark Knopfler were experimenting with cutting-edge computer cartoon characters bisected with graph paper squares that boogied across their chiselled and tanned faces I was trying my hand at seeing how far I could make a bag of Safeway basic porridge last.

After dinner smokes were rolled from fourth generation butts bulked out with dried nettle leaves.

Aside from hair-loss, I had little in common with Sting and Mark Knopfler.

No, looking back on my life now, I’d say my career has run in parallel with that of Bob Dylan. I got to meet him once and I told him so.

It dawned on me, as I held my concert ticket that even Bob Dylan has to sleep somewhere. And the answer my friend, was obvious.

I drove down to the Royal Bath Hotel where the concierge was dressed in a pink Sgt. Pepper suit. He looked one way and I went the other. The receptionist was busy on the phone. Like all hotel lobbies, this one contained pot plants. Except here the plants were as tall as trees with leaves the size of elephant ears.

Without stopping to think about what I was doing, I shimmied up the nearest tree and waited.

How long passed in this way? I can’t say. At some point I must have drifted off listening to the soporific quality of the long, dusty silences as I traced the patterns in the Turkish rug. Sometimes the clack of shoes on the marbled tiles. Nodding off in the top of a tree is not a good idea. I would definitely advise against it.

But after a while I heard the whoosh of the lift doors opening and a white ten-gallon hat appeared above tight black trousers and the coolest pair of snakeskin boots this side of town.

I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony of the situation. Bob had written a song about going into the lobby of a strange hotel. But now I was in his place and he was the king. I saw straight away that he had pencilled on a moustache. I told him that I liked it and he said ‘thanks man’ as he signed the record sleeve I handed him.

Back outside, pleased to have accomplished my mission, I took a drag on my tobacco free cigarette.

Like Dylan, I had gone electric.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Jamaica Inn



Mary's hair floats like smoke. She looks out of the stage-coach window. Her face blurred by rain on glass as the drama unfolds.

The men are very thin and have hungry eyes.

The landscape they live in is cold and difficult to navigate due to the Vaseline smeared on the lens.

By the end of the first episode I’m not sure who is a friend here.

Who is good, who is bad.
Where redemption
will finally come from.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Ford Transit With A Flat Battery

In recognition of some kind of application to study, I was rewarded with responsibility. They put in charge of managing the school stage which meant coming in early when all of the others were condemned to be locked out in the frozen yard.

It meant rigging up the OHP and locating the correct hymn, typed onto a transparency that the Dracula frocked Head Master requested.

The one I dreaded was Holy, Holy, Holy.

Because it was the Head Master's favourite, this hymn came along quite often.

It was a horror.

The transparency was three pages long on. It was the Devil's own job to keep it straight so that the words didn't appear crooked on the projection screen.

It was like hanging wall paper. When you are very drunk.

One slip and the whole thing could fall from my hands. The kids in the hall knew it, too.

I'd kneel at the OHP and start to line up the transparency feeling the pressure of a thousand eyes boring into the back of my head willing me to slip up.

The spotlights would beam down on my neck, my fingertips would start to slick with sweat.

Worse still, despite the universal hatred for the hymn that the Head Master alone seemed to love, the Head was very particular about how it should be sung.

With intense powers of concentration, I'd line the transparency up on the glass of the OHP, the bright bulb blurring and burning in my eyes. I'd hold it as straight as I could as the dead weight of pages to 2 and 3 conformed with the rules of gravity. I'd look up at the screen and see the opening lines nicely straight and in focus on the screen.

The Reverend would start to play the piano and the droning of 500 students would fill the hall with all of the energy and vibrancy of a Ford Transit with a flat battery.

'Stop! Stop!' the Head Master would shout.

'Come on. You can do better than this. Put some effort into it!'

And off we'd go again.

But by this time the hymn had slipped slightly off to one side.

This meant that by the time we'd reached verse 3 I'd be in real trouble. How to feed the hymn over the OHP without dramatically wiggling the transparency to get the words back on course again?

Keep going.

The spotlights beaming down on my neck. On my knees, neck exposed and the OHP before me an executioner's block.

'No! No!'

The Head Master roared so loudly that I almost dropped the transparency altogether.

'Look. It's Hoe-ly, Hoe-ly, Hoe-ly. Not 'oly, 'oly, 'oly. The word has an aitch in front of it. And you at the back, yes you, stop yawning boy.'

I think that it was on around the third run through, the students now finally finding gear because they realised that there was no other way to get out of this one, and the Head Master was booming along happily in his Dracula cape that my trembling hand somehow managed to travel across the power button and trip it into the OFF position.

'Hoe-ly, Hoe...leeee'...

And everything went dark.


An updated version of an older post . Published here in a revised format  after fresh research has enabled the author to facilitate a  different approach to reveal the  historical accuracy of this significant moment in the late twentieth century British educational system.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

All This Rain!

Throw back the covers. The house, completely silent.
Inside five minutes, I'm hitting the road.

Run. Breath smoking in the early morning cold.
Sometimes rain, soaking my hair. The estate perfectly quiet.

Keep going, past cars and drives and neatly clipped lawns
until I've left the town behind and fields begin.

Stone walls, dripping trees.

Slate water babbling in the bowl of the reservoir.

Heart pounding, breath smoking.

Put my hands on the mossy walls and lap in all that water.

All that rain...

The grey water constantly moving, rippling,
swerving to the walls of the reservoir.

Photo: Su Joy

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Three Legged Tales - Tail Two: The Handbag

Mrs Smith is delighted with her new bag.

She can't help smiling every time she looks at it. Which is fairly often. Times have been rough lately, but Norman has finally come up trumps with this gift. Red leather with lots of brassy bits. Plenty of room inside for everything a girl needs to carry.

She feels like everyone on the beach must surely notice her brand new leather bag as they walk by.

Pete the Pins and Tom, the three-legged labrador pass by. But, to tell the truth, neither of them notice Mrs Smith's brand new bag or have any idea what a sacrifice good old Norman has made to show that he still loves his wife after all.

The fact is, Pete the Pins is somewhat pre-occupied.

For some reason he hasn't been appointed as acupuncturist for the Laurels Clinic. He runs the interview back through his mind like a film trying to identify where his interview technique might have let him down.

Disconsolately, Pete lobs a pebble into the sea.

Tom lurches into the sea and comes up with a pebble in his mouth which he deposits at his master's feet. Pete chucks it back in again. Tom flounders after it. Pete wonders if it really is the same pebble that the dog brings back. Can dogs, amazing and sensitive creatures that they are, detect smell under water?

Pete lobs another pebble into the sea. The dog, all smiles and slobber, brings it back. Lob, pebble, slobber, lob, pebble, slobber over and over. A pointless, mechanical game. An hour goes by before Pete wearies of the sport.

Tom looks game for another two hours at least.

Pete walks back the way they had came towards a beach café. The dog follows, water dripping from its coat and tail.

Neither of them stop to admire Mrs Smith's brand new red leather bag.

Pete orders a cup of tea. The dog lies outside, slobbering. Pete drinks his tea and runs the interview through his mind once more. A pointless, mechanical way of thinking that the dog certainly wouldn't have bothered with for more than a minute.

But Pete looks game for another two hours at least.

Pete orders another tea. The dog lurches to his three feet and walks towards the beach. Pete's not unduly worried. He knows the dog won't go far.

The dog heads towards Mrs Smith and her brand new bag. The bag is open because Mrs Smith can't help looking inside it every three minutes or so. A pointless, mechanical activity she never grows tired of.

Right now, she's looking out to sea and wondering how she can ever thank Norman for this beautiful gift.

Tom reaches the bag, sniffs the contents and starts going through that weird doggie convulsion that is a preliminary to vomiting.

The dog pukes around three gallons of sea water into Mrs Smith's lovely brand new red leather bag.

Mrs Smith screams.

'Who owns this dog?'

Pete decides to linger on in the café for a bit longer after all.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Three Legged Tales - Tail One, The Job Interview

It's a big day for Pete the Pins.

He puts down the phone and smiles.

At last, the breakthrough he's been craving for. And the best of it is, the woman on the phone sounded very nice. Surely, the job is his. 

In the bag as they say.

Could he come down?

Nothing too formal. But she would like to meet him before confirming the job.

Sure thing.

He puts the phone down and smiles.

Then realises there's just one small problem.

Who would look after the dog?

In the end, Pete decides there's no problem. Nothing too formal the woman had said. In that case, Pete reasoned, she wouldn't mind if he brought Tom, the three-legged labrador along with him.

After all, if nothing else, Tom might win him the sympathy vote and help secure him the job.

Yes, Pete could see things panning out just right.

By this time tomorrow evening he would surely be the official acupuncturist in The Laurels Health Clinic.


Pete sits at the wheel. Tom slobbers and occasionally vents flatulence in the back. It's a longish drive through pleasant countryside.

The Laurels is situated in a leafy part of town. Pete smiles at the thought of all the well-healed customers who will soon be seeing him in these salubrious surroundings.

Naturally, Pete feels the pre-interview butterflies in his stomach as he and Tom wait on the doorstep. Informal or not, Pete wants to create a good impression.

It's a grand place with a fresh green door. Pete breathes deeply and straightens his shoulders as the door swings open. The lady of the house has a coppery coiffure with brassy highlights and very pink lacquered nails.

Pete smiles and gets to the first syllable of 'hello'.

Three-legged Tom rockets down the hallway, claws tick-tacking on the hall lino in ferocious pursuit of a tabby cat that makes an emergency detour up the salmon pink stairs.

Oh God, I'm sorry Pete says as he brushes past the blinking, but distinctly glamorous clinic manager and hopefully prospective employer.

The cat scoots into the bedroom.

For a three-legged dog, Tom's awfully fast.

Escape options are now extremely limited, and for want of a coherent plan, the cat leaps onto a bedside table adorned with a collection of glass figurines.

The cat has a split second in which to realise that this is at best only a temporary solution and leaps away just in time to avoid the three-legged labrador that comes crashing down on the table killing off the remaining figurines that the cat has somehow delicately missed.

Pete looks at the sugary glass splintered and scattered on the carpet and turns as the owner of the clinic and now former curator of a priceless glass figurine collection enters the bedroom.

It sure is a funny venue for a job interview Pete thinks as he wonders how to introduce himself.

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