Showing posts from October, 2012

The Gradual Appliance Of Evil

The smooth sides are preternaturally white. It reminds me of a headstone, the first time I see it. 'Why is the fridge in the spare bedroom?' It doesn't seem to me that the question is odd. There is a 6 foot fridge-freezer in the bedroom, but no bed. 'We had to move a few things around, that's all.' The landlady scowls. 'I'm in a hurry?' 'Oh, okay.' We follow her back down to the kitchen, where the stairs open out. 'Would it,' I ask, but I pause, and the landlady huffs. I take an audible breath and start again. 'Would it be okay to move the fridge back to the kitchen?' 'I don't know, why don't you ask it?' She shows her teeth. I think it's a smile. 'So, if you want it, be quick, I have another viewing this afternoon.' Sharp looking teeth, behind that slash of red lipstick. 'We'll take it.' Luce nods, resigned. 'There's nothing left on campus,' she reminds me, a…

A Little Flux

Girl is at the cinema, most likely swooning, first over Bond James Bond, second over costumes, though the order may change. 'OhMyGod!' she will say, and the lack of spacing between words here is representative not typographically erroneous: 'Mum! YouShouldHaveSeenIt!' I will be on the sofa, mostly half asleep, mostly lost in editing, with one small sliver of me on an inner space search mission, finding the energy to respond. Her enthusiasm will help power it.
Except, she says, 'Yeah, it was all right.' I have forgotten to factor in that she is a mother too and has just moved house. She is more tired than me.
When I get home I peek at the two pumpkins waiting in the pantry, I approve of my earlier cleaning efforts, I think of the lovely disgusting Halloween story I am going to post up. And take a glass of blackberry wine. 


So much revel in throwing stuff away: to be recycled, where possible, one adds, but the joy lies most in the feeling of having cleared space; yet on my desk is a lightly corroded camera battery that I can't quite bring myself to drop into the bin. Boy has opted to study photography, a balance to his sciences and history. We have dug out my father's old cameras; an OM10, an OM20, a couple of Tamron lenses. Film is a mystery to digital age Boy, so I sprung open the back of a camera body and yelped because there was a film in it. The odds on there being any pictures are slim, but I shall try developing it. Boy was two when my father died- there might even be a photograph of Small Boy to discover. I bought some new batteries to power the cameras back to life. Boy prised out the old ones with a cotton bud, handed each one to me as it came free. Quite corroded, the first three, but the last one had a shiny flat surface. I kept it in my hand. I read it: 357 Rayovac, Dad always liked …

Sunday Aquanaut

Unnerved by the house move, rattled with a cough, Baby did not have her best sleep ever. Granma observes the world through tired eyes, it is like looking at the world through a slower medium than air. Baby zips about, tetris fish fashion, Granma lumbers. After breakfast Baby diligently brushes her tongue, spits neatly upon the floor.
Leaves are dropping; lie in ruffles at the road edge. Dog runs and Baby sings. Leaves stick in pram wheels.
Later, when Baby is dropped home and drops straight to sleep on the sofa in the new front room where a small aquarium blows gentle bubbles, I drive home through a tunnel of trees that are baring branches, curved over the car, a wooden ribcage. Shipwreck; whale; dinosaur? 


On this chill bright day, we have been part of a babble (the word team almost works, but babble is closest) helping Girl and Baby move house. Granny Meg was also celebrating a birthday, so we had oven fresh pasties (Girl burnt her arm) and cake and cups of tea, in between the collapsing of furniture and ferrying of boxes and mixing up messages about what should be placed where and who has the key for which door of which abode. Baby cried when her toy box was carried away. She has no idea what the purpose of the day is. The new house has a garden and she likes this very much. At teatime, she rides in her big pink car seat, singing nearly-words, to Mrs Granma's house. There is lamb stew waiting in the Rayburn. Granny Meg sneaks her a bit of chocolate cake. Outside the night rises, the temperature drops, the moon is an ice blue sculpture. Mr Grandad puts extra blankets in the travel cot. 

Blood Mushroom

(Not a stunning picture, but enough to prove I'm not making this up!)
In the afternoon, a flock of starlings blackened the branches of the fat trunked ash. I had left my desk to witness the disturbance. The sun shone, and the bird shapes shrieked. Last night Mr tried his best not to run over a rabbit. It had a poor instinct for car tyres. Leaves fell to our windscreen, pale in the headlights, whirling ghostly. The world was cold and dark and beautiful, the sky thick with dreams. This morning we did not go walking in the woods because of the boom of echoing shot. We went to the unturned fields instead, trod badger paths, found an old hedge boundary in a steep neglected copse. In the coppice I was looking for a mushroom that Boy and I found, growing in a tree base. Light brown, soft, oozing bright ruby dots. At first glance, it struck us as a recent kill site. But then, on second take, the gently sickened awe, to view stigmatic fungus. Things lately have a strange feel, pushing over …

What's My Monster?

Halloween is creeping up. It's behind you. Feel the cold wet corpse breath on the back of your neck? The bloodless fingers on your paralysed shoulder? The hot flush of urine that steams in the icy crypt air? Mwahahahaha! I love the festival of Sowhain, most popularly known as Halloween. The dead return to visit with you, and you prepare yourself for the travails of mortality. Death is part of life, that's the short form of the message. The contrast of it is what makes life so valuable. Further psychological probing of the festival reveals a need for self-communion. At the death of summer days, we have to turn and face the nights. Unless you make like a swallow and migrate, I guess, but that journeying isn't easy either. Sooner or later there'll be something uncomfortable lurking in your in-flight socks. Integrity demands you deal with it. My worst monster is mankind, for evils perpetrated against everything; lowest of all, cloaked in ideology; and for the fear that bind…

Thumbprints For The Fire

Car copes with the tractor churned mud better than expected: parked on good anchor points. Mr and I are out whittling firewood from the piles of tree, outside a cowshed, down at new Farmer Landlord's place. Nosy bullocks crowd to the gate. Chainsaw whirs, logs drop in the mud. I love the earth damp smell. I love the noise of it stacking. Get a bit of chainsaw dust in my eyes, mis-timing a leaning in to pick up the rolled away cuts. When it comes to chainsaws there are worse mis-timings. An idea has crawled into my head, somewhere along the route from yesterday to here. It's a feisty idea, so I have to rough up a story structure and start corralling words. But for a while, here, there's earthy damp air, there's dropping thumbprints of stumps into the open back of the car. 

In Thrall

This morning's suspicion: that the weather is hungover. The sky is a sludge, very much as though head-aching weather has smeared cloud around, thought 'that will do,' and gone back to bed. A definite air of not being finished, under which I decide to stroll, maybe towards the river, maybe not, because it is that sort of a day. And while strolling with vague intent, I spy a path, an old path to the top of the steep woods. Dog and I vanish in an oesophageal gap. Dog's eyes shine, borderline demonic, she is on some canine bacchanalia, dancing crazy through the ground cover. I am stomping bramble-gates, sinking in pine needle pile-ups, unhooking from crafty roots. There are openings into the ground, set in the hill, that seem to slide under bedrock, just wide enough to drag a person through. No one knows where I am; this thought comes as a lovely shock. I could disappear. I could live here. It would be simple, in the sense of a matter of keeping oneself alive. That's t…

The Sharpened Pen

A day of heavy editing, Brain feels like a squeeze box, a bit broken; a wheezy squeeze box. Between the hard bouts of concentration, I've been prying in old notebooks. I wrote diary entries and story ideas on the same pages, amusing and confusing. Unless I was a werewolf, and simply forgot? Some superb character assassinations, I find, including this jabby little summation of an arty London cafĂ©: 'It's functional, as though tables and chairs could easily be swept away and dance could take place. Overhead pipes give an underground feel- temporary, with the danger of subterfuge and the boredom of a siege. The atmosphere is not unfriendly but the chairs are open backed, to make way for knives.' But this strikes sharpest: a story note or a real person, I do not recall! 'Weekends she thinks are rainbows, chasing the crock inside which is a man with a small square box in his pocket, containing the magic ring which makes champagne rain and honeymoon sun or would if she were …

Bath Nap

Lead limbs drop in a hot bath. Water slops to the overflow. Steam hangs like a sigh, sticks to the mirror. Incursions of night air, from a thin line of open window, touch cold on heated skin, hold off the tendency to sleep. Floating and sleeping slip together, too easily. Spiders and flies make a tapestry, on the white square of ceiling; spin a warning.  Plug un-nested; drains out dirt and somniferous danger. Weight returns, reluctantly. A towel wrapped shadow, in the fogged mirror, slowly combs wet hair. 

Add A Solid Fist

Poor 'nice', poor over used, beaten up, inoffensive word. Privately one can use it, but publicly it draws ridicule. It has a taint of helplessness. Add a solid fist, a bag of grit, a pan of glowing cinders; knock off some flimsy pink and sugar: I wish I could recover this word. I would make a nuptial present of it: I know just the people for it. This is what I'm thinking, staring at a blank manila surface, reaching for a pen. What I'm smiling about, as glue and glitter are smeared barehanded onto folded cardboard. Put the card in the sun to dry- nice weather for it. The word is jumping at my heels. So, Dan and Anna, if you are wondering, that's what your wedding card is all about. 

Magic Light

Look to the window, momentarily released from a writing trance. Ten minutes may have passed, or a decade. I check the calendar and a watch. Most of two days, it turns out. I think Boy went to school and we had meals, and other things like flying side kicks with Launceston Young Farmers, like playing in the nursery sandpit with Baby, like brief glimpses of star spattered sky and rippled cloud. But, for the most part, I've been somewhere between 1972 and 1977, between Bristol and Bodmin Moor. The window is the room, backwards and blurred by double glazing. It's October 19th, 2012, it's nearly half past ten at night. Just for distracting fun, I pull out an old notebook from the desk shelf. My handwriting used to be so neat. Here is what I read:
The spark that removes you from the 'doctrine of perpetual flux.' When everything changes and you change, and you perpetually move. Your head spins. Centrifuge breaks you up, no hand holds, no connection. Without a feel for the et…

Over My Head

Before the storm started up, something reminiscent of a hand mirror shone in the sky: sat in a dip of salmon coloured cloud, too still for a satellite, it could have been a star. Between the star and the pending storm, the river geese are set a-flap. An apex of them echoes our roof, turns back to the river. Lively improvising wind devises trumpety old car horn noises from the forgotten tv aerial: gets a round of applause, after I stop looking for the old car altercation. From the window also see dead branches on the fat trunked ash, dangerously reanimated. Takes my mind off the trouble I'm having with hyperlinks. Every step on the list- ticked. Works fine until I upload it- is lost in translation. Again! Stormy words and childish renunciations- this is stupid, like everything is when you can't understand it. After work, waiting for Mr, I stand in the shivery wind, on pitchblacked tarmac. Everything is rain drenched, except the rustle of leaves above; internal desiccation makes…

Rose Tinted Planet

Into town for an hour, for serious tasks, such as banking (using financial formula: take money from a, feed b) and acquiring car fuel. Smuggled under my grey suit jacket, a lining of cerise pink satin. Blatant polka dots on a scarf. Home to my red and mud coat, home and out: here strolls me, there pelts Dog, through the clasped hand angles of the woods. Under the shaded steep slopes, a hundred tunnels lead to a hundred underground lives: tentacles of a terrestrial alien city. Out from branches, ferns, brambles, crisp fallen leaves, out to the furthest field, to a prairie of stalks: here strolls me, there pelts Dog; soft rain touches, hears my plea for the washing on the line, moves on. In the hedge, in warm wraps of sun, bright pops of ripe strawberry. 

If You Want To Fly, Be The Eagle

In a flaming flurry of writing, searching out character notes that I put down here: breath, dear lady, breath- ah, there they are- now laugh at yourself- now, what's this? Ariel font? Rhyming couplets? Ah, yes, laugh with yourself. You wrote this, you remember, it was a show for children about the pitfalls of ambition and the joys of friendship. You wrote:
Here's a story writ to warn us Of the hungry eagle and the envious tortoise All day long the birds he watched But tortoise on the ground was stuck -Ah, he longed so much to fly so free Good sense is replaced by rivalry 'I challenge you to teach me to fly,' He nagged at the eagle till by and by A free lunch opportunity The peckish eagle comes to see The bird complies, 'Oh very well,' And grabs poor tortoise by the shell 'Spread your wings!' the eagle mocks And drops poor tortoise on the rocks -He learnt his lesson all too late Eagle fodder was his fate If you ever need to touch the sky Have a crash mat standing by Plus, …


The day is a reflection of me; fields are contemplatively quiet, sky is grey and blue. Mud buffers each boot. I even wonder what to write of, today, and I know that isn't how this works. Words find me, I am their roost. In my mind, a dull settling. Overhead, a pheasant, thoroughly annoyed. I see the ornamental silhouette, too late for the camera to be pulled to action. Perfect time to remember the camera. Dog appears, another perfect timing, wagging her tail as though to check her brilliant diversionary plan has worked. The illusion of collusion. Now I am smiling, not thinking, work turns back to play. Here is light, here is shadow, here is the vast spread of turned earth, the warm fertile loosened earth. Run my hands through dried grass seeds, a shimmy of a noise. The beginning of music, I think, where things touch, and speak to the air of that meeting. 

Soup By Volume

This is a sales pitch, of a sort. Not something I was born for, maybe I will think of it more as a performance: stage fright is the right sort of uncomfortable.
This morning: traded a sixty pence parking fee and a jar of diesel for an hour at Widemouth Bay. Parked south, walked north, where the salt spray spumed from every jag of rock. Body tucked in a winter coat, trousers rolled up, flip-flops dumped in the car. Messy waves wash in warm, spread a brief mirror on the sand. The sun is floored, but still untouchable, no matter how much I give chase. The cold wind is what I breathe in, is what sticks to my wet legs as we tread sand back to the car. Put the choky old heater on. Sand is what I wear on my feet to drive home.
This morning's journey is the pause I take before pressing the publish button. I'm not sure if it makes any sense, but it feels like a good adventure to have- this is what I've put together-'Soup By Volume: A collection of eccentric, pragmatic, imagin…

Portrait Of A Lady

Today I felt exactly as portrayed. I remembered this poem, which my friend wrote, which is about me. I thought of it, glanced up, and there it was, telling me, yes, this is who you are, lady, this is who you are. It was written back in 1991, when I wish I felt like this.

I found her I didn't look for her The hazy shine of a future brought her to me today Her mind grows with the bitter smell of morning coffee And tales from old wives. She's no hippy or earth mother She blows in like the driftwood and seaweed on The surf of the waves, evenly culled onto the shore- But she's firmly locked. The squelchy sand poses no threat for her, She leaves an even perfect footprint on the cool mineral. It's fresh, it may fade, who knows? Still her childlike perfection and security has impregnated it, Like the smell of rain sprinkled on tired streets. Feelings and words restrain me- she knows no fault Only the confident waver of a daisy in the still air She smiles in the rain.