Wednesday, 31 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, and doesn't have to remind me of the previous dumps we've been dragged around.
'Cool.' A capacious handbag is snapped open, and each of us gets a wad of paperwork. 'Fill these out-'
'We know the drill,' Luce interrupts. 'You're in a hurry,' she says, by way of apologising.
'Right. Thanks.' Her eyes creep up the stairs.

We all leave. The landlady gets in her shiny car and drives too fast.
'I didn't want a lift,' Luce smirks, 'did you want a lift?'
'Oh no,' I tell her, 'I just love the smell of the bus shelter.'
The summer warmth is threadbare, there's a spikiness in the air. We scuff through an early drift of fallen leaves, laughing.

The bus shelter is close, and there's nothing wrong, exactly, with the house, except there is a fridge in the spare room. We have filled out our paperwork, written our cheques, bribed Dud a beer and pizza supper to drive our possessions to the door.
'Deal was for haulage only.' He sits on the sofa. 'No TV?'
'Brave.' He watches us instead, setting out an island of boxes, suitcases and bin sacks.
'You want pudding?' Luce tilts her head, and somehow the strap of her vest top slips from her shoulder. Dud looks nervous.
'What's on the menu?'
Luce pulls the strap back. 'There's a deli over the road, quite the cake selection. They have cheesecake.'
'And the catch?'
'Have you ever seen a fridge in a bedroom, Dud?'
Dud frowns. 'What do you mean, fridge in a bedroom?'
'It's not a euphemism, Dud, it's a refrigerator- it's in the spare bedroom- and can you imagine- a life where one has to walk upstairs for a beer, Dud, can you imagine?'
He screws his eyes up like a man with a migraine.
'We need to get it down to the kitchen, a little help will buy a slice of, let me guess, strawberry cheesecake.' Dud always has the strawberry cheesecake.
I know what I like.' Dud nods. He looks over the stack of boxes for a moment, then stands up. 'Okay.'
Luce, Dud, then me, traipse up the stairs. I'm not sure I can be bothered with it, after all the lugging I've done today. It seems like it's the sort of thing that can wait. Luce has her determined stride going, so I don't say anything.
'But you don't have a TV,' Dud pipes up. 'So why do you need to go downstairs to drink beer?'
Luce shivers. 'Let's put it in the yard.'
'In the yard?' The yard is tiny.
Luce shrugs, and pushes the door open. It sticks on the carpet. 'Odd,' she mutters; gives it an irritated shove; leaps back, nearly knocks me and Dud down the stairs.
'What!' I see what, while Luce clutches her chest.
'Sorry,' she says.
The fridge is in the centre of the room, like it is ready to confront us. It is unexpected, though there's no reason why it needs to be against the wall, where we last saw it. That was two weeks ago. Strikes me as unlikely, but the landlady could have moved it to vacuum the room. Not totally weird.
'Okay,' I pat Luce on the shoulder. 'That was silly.' I smile, and edge into the room. Dud and Luce follow. Dud puts a broad hand on the side of it.
'It's- too cold,' he whispers.
Luce and I exchange looks. We have never heard Dud whisper.
'How heavy is it?' I decide pragmatism might break whatever spell is cast here. I'm wrong. It will not be moved. Even with Dud's help, it won't shift, and he's right, it is too cold.
'This is ridiculous!' Luce puts her head in her hands. This time, Dud gets pragmatic. He opens the top door. A light comes on, shines on clean empty shelves. He opens the freezer door and the same thing happens, except the light shines on clear plastic drawers and they steam up in the room temperature.
'It's just a fridge freezer,' he announces.
'Then why can't we move it?' Luce looks drained.
'I dunno,' Dud shrugs. 'It's a bit weird.'
'It doesn't make sense.'
'Maybe it's possessed, you know, there's a poltergeist in it.'
'There's nothing in it, Dud,' Luce sighs. 'You opened the door, there was no, like, whirling maelstrom or paranormal cheese, or whatever a fridge poltergeist gets up to.'
'Not in the shelf space, I meant in the machinery bits.'
'Ghost in the machine?'
'Something like,' Dud hunches his eyes up again. 'Like a bit of evil.'
'A bit of evil?'
'Yes,' he nods, 'it's a bit awkward, but, at the end of the day, you have a fridge, it works, it's clean, you don't need to go downstairs to drink a cold beer, so, let it have its own room. It's cool, the fridge has a room.'
'It's not a very big room.' I shrug. 'Dud's right, it doesn't really matter. It's- kind of quirky- we have a fridge, it works, it just might be a little bit evil. A little bit is probably okay.'
Luce looks up at the appliance. 'There might come a point,' she says; emphatically; 'when we run out of excuses for it.'

'How's the house? I hear your fridge is evil.' Stefan swung a fringed suede bag from a sardonic shoulder.
'It's all about the evil, this season, Stefan.' Luce flounced to the library. Stefan always brought out the flounce in Luce.
'We're getting used to it. Canteen?' I was in a coffee and cake mood.
Canteen coffee was acceptable, if you really needed caffeine. The cake was wholesale horrid: wrapped in crimp-edged plastic. Coffee and walnut, the label claimed.
Stefan's default face was a fine blend of snobbish disgust. He looked at my tray, added a raised eyebrow.
'I'm tired.'
'Blood-sugar car crash.' He put a glass bottle of mineral water on his tray, next to an organic vegan snack box.
'They shoot vegetables, Stefan.'
He looked around the canteen, fixed his judgemental eyes on one or two people.
'I'll look forward to that.' On the way to our usual table by the window he made a finger and thumb gun, pointed it around the room. 'Vegetables,' he said, a little too loud.

'What do you reckon, Luce- good idea?' It was Stefan's, originally.
'An evil fridge party? Yeah, why not.' She over stirs her coffee. 'Do you really think it's evil?'
'I dunno. Maybe Dud's right, there's something a little bit evil about it.'
Luce ponders. 'Maybe,' she says. 'I couldn't eat my yoghurt this morning.'
'That's your definition of a bit evil? A spoilt yoghurt? I was thinking more how a kitchen appliance gets its own room.'
Luce surprises me by pulling the lid off the bin and retrieving the ditched yoghurt carton. There's something inside it that looks and smells like rotting flesh.
'Oh my god, Luce! How far past its sell-by was that!? That's disgusting!'
'In date.' Luce declared, flinging it back in the bin and ramming the lid down. 'Well inside the date.'
'That is evil!'
She stared at the bin lid. 'Yeah. That's not right is it? That's what a little bit of evil in a fridge does. Turns yoghurt into a gore show.'
'I don't want to see it again, but did that just happen?'
'Exactly,' Luce said. Then she sighed. 'But if we're stuck with it, we might as well have a party and I might as well have a new dress.'

'See you later!' She shouts as she shuts the door. I find her cereal bowl on the table, and a half drunk coffee, which is where all the milk has gone.

Before I get into study mode, I have to walk to the shop for more milk, drag upstairs to put it in the fridge. I have to get my books ready, the kettle boiled. I take a jug upstairs, for some milk; smart thinking; so I can refill the coffee cup without going upstairs all the time. I open the fridge door. Inside, is a fleshy lining, crawling with icy bluish maggots. What should have been milk is black, thickly black like mould. I slam the door shut. Open it again. No maggots, and the stark white shelves are back, but the milk is dark and sort of hairy. I take a picture on my phone, send it to Dud, Stefan and Luce.

In the canteen, people are nodding at me. I know they've seen the picture.
'Evil fridge,' is a murmur that follows me to my table.
'Perhaps we could build a profile,' Stefan suggests, 'what other food groups does this fridge disagree with?'
'So far, the dairy stuff has stood out. I had some celery, but it just went off, I forgot about it. Not very supernatural.'
'Too tired for celery?' Stefan flicks the plastic packet on my plate.
'Sugar is the new protein.'
'Shame it's not the new botox.'
Shame I'm too tired to listen to Stefan being clever and not tired, but it's not much of retort so I stare out of the window instead. I don't need a retort. I smile and wave at Flora, Stefan's painful ex. I don't have to look, I know he is stinging like I've just slapped his face.

Luce is home late. She has excelled herself: a dress, two pairs of shoes, a cropped jacket, a necklace, a parcel of make up, even a new set of underwear.
'It's just some friends, Luce, you probably could have worn jeans and t-shirt.'
'Heels or flats, that always gets me.' She picks up the patent stilettos, admires them by the watery light of an economy bulb.
'Can you afford this?'
'Only one life to live, dear Petal, got to be indulged sometimes.'
I hate it when she calls me Petal.

 'I take bits of human
anatomy, random bits like finger tips and eyes, not like, a liver or a thigh meat steak, you know; from the salad tray, double wrong; and make sandwiches. Then I wake up and the worst bit is, I feel hungry.'
'Test your iron levels. That's the theory on cannibals,' Stefan tells me, 'low in haemoglobin. And social intelligence.'
'Still angry because I waved at Flora?'
'We're fine.'
'So if I said, hey Flora, come to our party, it's cool, we're all friends still?'
'Just about.' Which is Stefan language for stop talking, it hurts.

'For the party,' I venture, 'we should fill the bath with ice, to keep the beer cold.' With the window open, with the way the weather has skipped autumn and whipped into winter, the ice won't melt. Nor will the bath mutate the beer into anything unspeakable. Last night's dream was pints of curdling blood made into porridge. The oats looked like mulched bone.
'We should decorate.' Luce has a magazine open on the table, she holds up a photo spread of a lavish Halloween scene.
'Is the evil fridge not enough?'
'Nope.' Luce rummages through her handbag; I notice it's a new bag; and pulls out a notebook. 'Ice, chunks of.' She writes as she speaks.
'Nice bag. Hope that's not the rent money gone, Luce.'
'It's fine. Tablecloth, black. Cobweb, giant, one. One big one is better for impact, don't you think?'
I snigger.
'Come on, Petal, concentrate.'
'Crisps, beer, job done.'
She rolls her eyes. 'Finesse?'
'A tablecloth? Really?'
'It's a party, Petal, come on, let's enjoy it. You're being pretty crabby lately.'
'I'm just tired, Luce.'
She shrugs, and writes her list in silence.

The flat looks amazing. Luce looks amazing. I decide to stick with jeans, but change my top, add a little glitter to my make up. Now I'm a disco zombie, and Luce can't say I'm ruining the mood. She sets the play list up, puts down the house lights, so it's all hot flickers and jumping cobweb shadows.

'Beer? Or dare to drink cocktails from the Evil Fridge?'
Dud looks at Luce. She knows he doesn't admit to drinking cocktails. He'll drink the beer and ask everyone later if he can just have a taste.
'It's in the bath, Dud.'
He nods, heads for the bathroom.
'Luce, what cocktails? Why don't I know about the cocktails?'
The doorbell rings.

'Um,' Luce sidles up, clutching her Bloody Mary, 'did you invite Flora? Only Flora is here, and Stefan's here, you know?'
'Oh, it won't matter, Luce, they're fine now, Stefan says they are fine so it won't matter.'
'Okie kay, if you say so.' Luce is drunk.
'Yeah, s'all fine.' She needs to be careful she doesn't fall off those stupid heels. I'm sticking to the beer, and the spicy rum that Flora handed to me, that Luce doesn't know about.
'Surprise!' I'm not supposed to say that bit out loud.
'What is, what's a surprise?'
'Something you don't know about. That's all.' I smile.
Someone upstairs screams: a real horror film scream.
Luce and I start laughing. 'Milk's off,' she says.
The screams go on. I head for the stairs.
'Just shut the door!' I call up, 'shut the door and I'll get you a different drink, okay, it's just a bit evil!' Whatever it is, the screams stop.
'I'm hungry.'
'C'mon, pizza, and stuff, yeah? Got olives.'

Luce leads into the living room, where the table looks extraordinary, the black cloth, and the juddering lights, and it looks like the food is floating in hell. The pizza is fantastic. Dud has found the cheesecake, I see, he is holding the whole plate with the whole thing on it, ignoring the forks just shovelling it in.
'Pig.' Luce is not impressed.
It's even less impressive when he is sick. Frothy pink stink, all over the cheesecake, all down Dud. I don't feel so hungry anymore, put down my pizza crust, discretely. It's another surprise for all of us when Dud doesn't stop eating, and there's as much coming out of him as there is going in, and it's kind of fascinating to see. He is gagging on his food, gagging on his vomit: handfuls of mush go back in his mouth. I'm glad I'm not Dud. We're all mesmerised. Luce does the next unexpected thing and hits him, hits him so hard, hits him in the temple with the pumpkin face ashtray. Then Dud hits the floor. I'm worried about Dud but a flailing Flora knocks over the table, and everything is a mess. Stefan is screaming, Flora is screaming, Dud is on the floor. I'm way too tired for all this. I think I should go to bed. I hear Dud groan, so he's not dead, so it would be okay just to go to bed now. I think Flora was pushed, but Stefan said they were fine, so it must be okay. In a minute, I will go to bed. Flora punches Stefan, his nose bursts: they pull back, square up: Flora has a knife, when did that happen? We don't have those knives. Luce has been shopping again.
'This is your fault,' I tell her.
She hits Flora with the ashtray: Flora, who recoils and falls, a perfect nymph. Blood trickles from one beautifully painted eye. Stefan stoops to vomit. Luce raises her arm over his head. Dud is there: I didn't see him stand up. He has hold of Luce's arm and it makes a snap, I hear it over the intro to Thriller.

Dud's face is lopsided from the bruise, his pupils are dilated, they're enormous, there's only black and white in those eyes. I can't understand what he is saying, his mouth is full of sick and Luce is screaming. Stefan is lying on the floor, and there is sick coming out of everyone's mouths now, only it's not just stomach contents, it's more like lumps of stomach: putrid, slippery, steaming; I see bits of crinkled tube, flaccid, intestinal things, and it's cold in here, I'm shaking and I'm looking at Dud and he speaks clear words.
'No excuses. Run out.'
'You've gone mad,' I tell him, 'you are as crazy as a loon.'
'It's got nothing to do with the moon.' Pink foam glistens on his chin.

Dud runs upstairs so I run after him. Everyone else is on the gloopy floor, I want no part of that. Dud piles through the door of the spare room, hits the fridge with his crazy shoulder. Lunatic strength shifts the thing, and it goes fast, takes out the glass, the frame, teeters, just for a moment, and I hear Dud grunt, see him lean his weight along it before it drops. On the pavement, drifting leaves blow over the bonnet of the fast shiny car, over the zigzag shape of Dud, over the slab of fridge, over the protruding hand and the oversized handbag. A red lipstick rolls to the gutter.

A Little Flux

Best Cinematic Pose 

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. 

Monday, 29 October 2012


My brother, my father and me, circa 1974

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 a name brand. Something talismanic about the thing, like it ties up time, loops two moments; the bearded serious man loading a good battery; the studious young man clearing space.  

Boy, 2011

Sunday, 28 October 2012

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? 

Saturday, 27 October 2012


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. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

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 the edge of eerie, into a kind of aesthetic macabre. This evening the moon back lit mottled deep grey cloud and made haloes and I nearly drove into the hedge. There's a beauty that can pull the life out of you, not through malice but through profundity.

To view some facts and pictures for bleeding mushrooms:

Thursday, 25 October 2012

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 binds resistance. Every other fiend is a caricature of human aspects. But however deep in the night we hide, there is always that redemptive pulse of light, waiting. So mankind is my best monster too.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

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. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

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 the loveliness of it. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

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 café:
'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 slimmer- sobbing alone in a chocolate box, every week day, work day, she's empty, until she's left, like trashed magazines, stuck with grease, crying to the moon, unable to burn old letters, sadly imploding, lump by painful lump.' 
I do remember thinking that pain was a way of waking people up, which it is, though the older wiser me knows it is only part of the arsenal.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

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. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

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 eternal, you are lost. You have nothing to compare with, to hold up and say "this is perfection. To strive for."
You can never stop the wheel of birth and death spinning too fast for the sake of it.
Something has to catch your focus. The spark. The inner light that shines.
Once you've seen that light you look for it everywhere.
You might take the right path, you might not.
If you don't hold the light up inside of you it's hard to see the way.
You can make a torch from many different combustable things but the light that really shines does not burn, it merely, incredibly, is.
(Magic light.)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

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 them dry in any weather. Turn my eyes up to the bronze paper leaves of the car park beech. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

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. 

This is Strawberry Pig- most famous berry I ever picked 

Monday, 15 October 2012

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, sorting fact from fiction
Can cut down on nasty friction
- Another motto I recall
Is 'pride comes before a fall.'

It is based, I think, on one of Aesop's endless tales, some of which I like, some of which I find dour, turgid, misogynistic rubbish. The eagle and tortoise story is sad but entertaining. Tortoise hasn't perfected the art of being careful what he wishes for. This section didn't make the final script but I kept it because it made me laugh and think. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012


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. 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

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, imaginative encounters with everyday life, from the Wishbone Soup Cures Everything blog. Wishbone Soup is a real dish and the epitome of finding happiness in a variety of circumstances. Not the blank happiness of owning stuff: the deep real kind that people need if their lives are going to mean anything. Through the medium of everything, from a bright red kettle to the discovery of a vomiting tree, moments of brilliance are revealed. This is a diary, a bunch of opinions, a description of many kinds of weather, a writing journey, an enchanting, eclectic jumble, a strong, flexible body of work.'
It is eccentric of me to put a price on it too, when the original stuff is here, all free, but if anyone wants the free version, here it is, and if anyone wants a personal, carry it around on an ereader version, there it is. No harm done, other than one mild concentration headache.

That felt like a rehearsal. Good to start now, then, to get these cold sandy feet warmed up…

Friday, 12 October 2012

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.