Wednesday, 30 July 2014


Dave didn't notice, although he was a Beatles fan, that Hey Jude had just gone to number one.

After all, getting busted is something of a distraction no matter how much you like a band.

When the policemen kicked his door down cultural considerations went flying out the window.

I'm a big Beatles fan too. But I didn't clock that Hey Jude was number one either.

I was busy dealing with the distraction of being born.

It would take exactly eighteen years for our paths to cross.

Dave was one of those satellite figures who gradually settled into our crowd. With his advanced years and sharp wit I soon learnt to think twice before opening my mouth.

He bought me a birthday drink. I asked for rum and black although I had no idea what it was. Through the blackcurrant haze I heard Dave say that he'd always been a mess. 'But I could handle it', he said, 'when I was your age because I was pretty. You can put up with anything when you've still got your looks.'

I'm not sure if this was a conscious warning or not, but on this jewel of a morning, with Dave now gone on ahead to the other place where being pretty probably counts for nothing, his words come shining in as clear as the sun.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The World's Most Famous Caterpillar

I am sitting at a table in the courtyard.

The breeze is fantastic. There are trees in the yard. Their green leaves shimmer. I lean my head back, close my eyes.

It feels like heaven. Or at least, my approximation of it because if I’ve ever been there before, I don’t remember it.

I’m a million miles away when a voice startles me by shouting in the manner of someone who has just discovered that their trousers have caught on fire. 

But the cause for alarm is a grey caterpillar, the size of a finger, that has landed on a document turning its own pages in the wind.

Someone picks up the page and shakes this alien to the ground. Everyone relaxes as the strange bunched-up concertina motion heads my way.

An electric blue tail and a Martian-green shape floats from its mouth. 

I have a bad feeling that this creature might bite.

You got a camera?

This is a dumb question to ask when surrounded by members of the I-phone generation.

The caterpillar is walled in with screens.

The caterpillar is converted into pixels.

It is now a celebrity caterpillar.

Everyone has a photo except me – a member of the Kodak Instamatic generation.

I can’t get beyond the idea of a phone being a camera-less object that lives at home in the hallway connected to a box in the wall by telephone wire that I avoid going near at all costs.

Particularly if it’s ringing.

Now no-one will ever believe that I once met the world’s most famous caterpillar.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Equestrian Poem

The girl next door leaves for work.
Her heels sound like horse's hooves
as she clip-clops to her little red car.

I am not leaving for work.
The sun is shining through the curtain
and the day is my own.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sir Anthony Hopkins In The Kebab House

Of all the diversions, I never thought that I'd relish a visit to the sewing machine shop.

The rain has been that cruel a jailer.

We make a run for it in our black car. Not only are we rushing through the rain to visit a sewing machine shop, but we’re taking a trip to my least favourite town...

She nuzzles the car into a vacant space. The rain lashes on the windows making it clear that it has no intention of letting us out, not even on a short parole.

I give in. Tell the rain I'm going nowhere. She is more determined.
But then, after all, sewing machine shops are probably more her kind of thing.

Left on my own, I click through channels. Things start off promisingly enough. A frothy show in which a bubbly, although all too self-aware of her own amazing humour, presenter defends the classics while laughing at her own jokes.

By classics we are into Virgil here, not the Rolling Stones.

I learn things but none of it sticks which is a measure of how good the programme is.

The rain brings out the odd bods.

I think of the Doors tune, People Are Strange.

Sir Anthony Hopkins comes bare headed down the street disguising himself with a limp and chav style jogging pants. He steps over a kid's bicycle and disappears into the green-marbled entrance of the kebab shop.

My eye travels to a cluster of copper hooded street lamps.

They have a thing about lamps in this town. They are always updating them with older versions in a quest for the perfect, authentic lamp of yesteryear.

I'm not sure what the psychology behind this is: maybe the authentic light-bulbs posing as gas lamps give off a kind of light that attracts people who like to open their wallets when touched with an antique glow - just as a candle draws moths.

Except moths get incinerated which may be why, if the theory behind the psychology is right, the town is in an ever-spiralling boarded up decline.

Sir Anthony comes out of the kebab shop and rolls a cigarette. He doesn't look as good as he used to, either.

At least, not in this light he doesn't.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Going Home

Go home in two minds.
The old problem.
Damned if I do,
damned if I don’t.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Ghost Song

Greyish light coming through the curtains.
Ghostly wind, moaning in the eaves
bird song like a Pink Floyd album

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Negotiations With Wet Leaves

Steam from the kettle spout.
A lash of rain. Lamp light
glowing in a cave of glass.

The roads are changing.
You can't travel on autopilot, anymore.
Silent negotiations punctuated with wet leaves.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

A Summer Evening

Streets try and catch me out.

A summer evening where the only thing you can be sure of
is the unexpected.
Even the moon can’t stay still.

The gypsy caravan turns
shadowy, on the hill.

A piece of daylight forgets to come down from the night

strings on violins
the sky slowly changing by degrees.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

A Face From The Past

Someone from another life 
that feels like it might not 
really have happened to me at all. 

The face was far from home 
and the chances, odds on us 
passing like this, like two ships 
in the night, were a billion to one.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Half-Smoked Cigar

Inches from my tyre,
a half-smoked cigar
glistens in a puddle.
Being an aficionado,
I recognise the brand
and wonder 
how someone
could have committed 
this atrocity.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Ice Cubes In The Sunshine

ice cubes
in the sunshine

time to split...

travel two roads

river floods
river glows

tail lights
ahead of us

which we'll
have to

if we're ever
get there

Friday, 4 July 2014

Last Century's Men

Last century’s men sit at the bar
their nests well upholstered
with all the time in the world.
An abundance of the tawny feathers
that you just don’t see anymore.
They drink pints of Dark Star.
Their voices carry through the bar
telling of japes amplified
by the dimension of beer.
Insulated from this century,
they are like museum exhibits
stored in glass cabinets.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The North Hide

photo by Su Joy

The North Hide faces the lake.
Chicken wire stretched and tacked
to the ramp that leads to the door.
I pause before trying the handle.
Listen hard then pull down, open the door.

It’s a different world inside.
It takes some adjusting to,
the change in light. Going inside,
a smell of cedar wood
and it feels much the same
as entering a country church
on a blazing afternoon.
Silence and shadows.
A feeling of clicking
down through the gears
as you adjust to the depths
and silences palpable in the very air.

A long strip of low windows
give a perfect view of the lake
and the green land on the opposite shore.
I sit myself down on the pew-like bench,
wait for something to happen. 

photo by Su Joy


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