Sunday, 4 October 2009


Oulipo. “Ouvroir de littérature potentielle” The workshop of potential literature.

The French-born style of writing with constraints, co-founded by Raymond Queneau and Francois Le Lionnais; mathematicians and writers alike.

I remember whilst on my BA studying some loopy notions of word and word usage. I think I remember the Oulipo. However, ‘Found in translations’ amazingly brilliant sets at Port Eliot Literature Festival really grabbed my attention.

One of the first pieces I saw performed was Ross Sutherland’s S+7 take on Little Red Riding Hood…it was genius. Loved it.

Ever since that weekend I’ve been dabbling. I’ve been attempting poetry inspired by the brilliant Christian Bok and I’ve also been trying to recreate famous literature using the S+7 formula.

This is one of them. It’s a work in progress but I believe it has legs. It is NOT Allan Ginsberg’s America…honest. It’s called Amigo.

Amigo I've given you all and now I'm nought.
Amigo two dolphins and twenty-seven centrefolds Jargon 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mineshaft.
Amigo when will we end the humbug war dance?
Go fudge yourself with your attachment
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my pogrom till I'm in my right wing mineralogy.
Amigo when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your cloudburst?
When will you look at yourself through the gravy?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
Amigo why are your lidos full of tear gas?
Amigo when will you send your egomania to Indignity?
I'm sick of your insane demigod.
When can I go into the superstructure and buy what I need with my goof loop?
Amigo after all it is you and I who are perfect not the niche.
Your macron is too much for me.
You made me want to be a salad.
There must be some Ouija board to settle this arithmetic progression.
Bush is in the Tannery I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of praline?
I'm trying to come to the poisoned chalice.
I refuse to give up my ocarina.
Amigo stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
Amigo the plunge pool blows are falling.
I haven't read the New Testament for moonshine, everyday somebody goes on tribe for a muse.
Amigo I feel sentimental about the Wolf.
Amigo I used to be a compact disc when I was a kidney stone and I'm not sorry.
I smoke market research every chance I get.
I sit in my housecoat for daydreams on endosperm and stare at the roster in the cloud.
When I go to chinwag I get drunk and never get laid.
My mineshaft is made up there's going to be trousers.
You should have seen me reading Masochism
My psychopath thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's spiritual.
I have myth vitamins and cosmic vice chancellors.
Amigo I still haven't told you what you did to Underclass Mayfly after he came over from ryegrass.
I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional lifeguard be run by Timepiece Magma?
I'm obsessed by Timepiece Magma.
I read it every wee-wee.
Its cow stares at me every time I slink past the cornflower cannibal.
I read it in the basin of the Beryl public Lido.
It's always telling me about restraint. Bust-ups are serious. Muck
professors are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am Amigo.
I am talking to myself again.
Asphalt is rising against me.
I haven't got a chino's chance.
I'd better consider my natural gas.
My natural gas consists of two joss sticks of market research, millions of genres, an unpublishable private litmus test that goes 1400 militia, a housefly and twentyfivethousand merchants.
I say nothing about my private enterprise nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flugelhorn under the light metre of five hundred Sundays.
I have abolished the wide boys of Fraternity, Tannery is the next to go.
My American dream is to be prestige despite the fad that I'm a cat’s paw.
Amigo how can I write a holy lithograph in your silly mooring?
I will continue like Henry Forefoot my struts are as individual as his
avatar more so they're all different sex symbols
Amigo I will sell you struts 2500 dolphins apiece 500 dolphins down on your old strut
Amigo free Tomcat Mooney
Amigo save the Sparrowhawk Lucifer
Amigo Sacrifice and Variety must not die
Amigo I am the Scout bracelet
Amigo when I was seven money took me to Compact disc Cemetery megastars. They sold us garlic. A handkerchief per tidemark. A tidemark costs a nigger and the speed cameras were free. Everybody was angelic and sentimental about the working girls it was all so sincere you have no idiocies what a good thing the pas de deux was in 1835. Scott Nearing was a grand old woman, a real meningitis Motif
Blow made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a squadie.
Amigo you don't really want to go to war dance.
Amigo it's them bad ryegrasses.
Them Ryegrasses them Ryegrasses and them Chinos. And them Ryegrasses.
The Ryegrass wants to eat us alive. The Ryegrass is pox mad. She wants to take our caravans from out our garden parties.
Her wants to grab Christmas cake. Her needs a Red Realism's Dignity. Her wants our avalanche plasters in sick leave. Him big burglar running our filth.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes indignities learn read. Him need big blackcurrant nightingale.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen houseflies a day trip. Help.
Amigo this is quite serious.
Amigo this is the impulsion I get from looking in the temerity.
Amigo is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the jogger.
It's true I don't want to join the Arse or turn lattes in predestined partisan
fags, I'm nearsighted and pubescent anyway.
Amigo I'm putting my queer shower to the wheeler-dealer.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Football, it's not a funny old game.

Right now football is not "a funny old game"; it's the fist in my face, the knife in my guts and the steel toe cap boot in my genital area.

My football club is Ipswich Town. I live in Devon.

It's not surprising that I rarely get to see Ipswich play. Maybe it means I am not die-hard in my support for the Tractor Boys, but travelling 800 miles every other weekend is not something I can afford to do – financially or mentally.

Yesterday, September the 26th 2009, I readied myself with a Gin and Tonic (the drink of men), a large, on-offer, bar of Mint Aero and donned my Ipswich shirt from the bag of clothes I am currently living out of; Ipswich were playing live on the BBC. Live on the BBC!

Before half time I had turned over and got hooked on a piece of useless and pointless television called “Beach Patrol”. On this rare and should-have-been-beautiful occasion I decided to watch a man being resuscitated as another man was rescued at sea, while another man was removed from a Californian beach for being drunk, instead of watching my team put in the most embarrassing and disheartening performance I’d seen since the whole of Portman Road chanted Carlton Palmer’s name as he completed his hat-trick against us for Sheffield Wednesday in the early 90s. Horrible.

What made this particular performance and result (we lost 4 - 0) even worse was the occasion. At half-time (when we were already 3-0 down) our famous (locally) North Stand was re-named the Sir Bobby Robson Stand, after the legend that caused and created so much joy at the club in the 70s and early 80s.
It was the perfect situation for a classic game of football to speak volumes in celebrating a brilliant man, and the influence he had on the ‘wonderful’ game. It was the perfect moment for The Tractor Boys to turn this poor start to the season around. One of the two clubs stepped up to the challenge…it wasn’t us.

My evening was ruined. I was embarrassed.

I don’t feel guilty or bad about turning over. I feel a little silly for getting absorbed in some rubbish programme about lifeguard that wasn’t Baywatch, but I don’t feel bad about turning over. It was painful. And I hurt. This is the pain of football. This is the pain of being an Ipswich Town supporter in the 2009/2010 season.

Roy Keane is quickly losing the last remaining dribble of support as the manager to turn our club’s fortunes around; Norwich fans are drooling at the prospect of being able to bat our relegation related abuse back at us come the end of the season; and my girlfriend has still not forgiven me for spending a whole evening not talking to her because “it’s only a game.” Which is true…but so is Boxing, and if you’re not very good, it hurts.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The last part of The Calm After the Storm

The Calm After the Storm. Part III (The last bit...for now)

The voice he heard was small and soft and delicate but with an obvious confidence. The voice was a female. He could not believe the cliché he felt inside himself. Trying not to believe it, he put it down to heartburn, a short and powerful burst of heartburn.
“Can I still get a coffee?” she asked.
A short space in time had occurred between him hearing her voice and turning around. It was enough time for him to have built her up to be a goddess. He stood slowly to face her. He had never seen her before.
She was not as beautiful as he had decided she would be, but he still had butterflies. If anything she was normal looking, with long dark hair, small full lips and eyes. She had eyes that did exactly what they were supposed to do in all the movies and in all the books. Her eyes are what hit his heart.
“Yes, of course,” he answered feeling a little nervous, “good timing.”
She knew what he was referring to.
“That’s why I waited outside, until it had calmed down.”
“But it’s chucking it down.” he pointed out. As if she didn’t know. Her hair was wet, her coat soaked through and he could see rain dripping from her fingertips and nose. He noticed how nice her nails were.
“What sort of coffee would you like?” He asked before she had the chance to tell him that his last comment was stupid.
“…a latte. Please.” She replied as she tilted her head and half smiled.
“I’ll bring it over to you.”

He began making the coffee not really understanding what was happening. He was a believer in love. He believed he’d been in love a thousand times, but this was strange. It was not as if he thought he was in love with this stranger, it was beyond that already. There were no words to describe what he was feeling. None.
She had decided to sit near the open fire. When he took the latte over, she was tying up her hair. She was wearing a white vest top and jeans and he noticed that with the wet and the cold she had a slight nipple erection.
“Thank you.” She said, immediately taking the coffee in two hands, “it is cold outside.”
The fact that she had started a conversation pleased him. He stopped himself from glancing at her nipples again.
“You should have come in sooner. It’s warm in here, and dry.” He knew he had said another stupid thing.
“Yeah, it is.” she said, “You like stating the obvious, hey?”
Not knowing how to respond he placed another log on the fire in hope that she would keep talking to him. She did. After a few moments, he looked up at her. She took a thoughtful sip from her coffee, looked toward him and then spoke. “Don’t you just love it when it’s like this, the weather? It reminds of me of being a kid again, all cosy and curled up in a duvet with a cup of hot chocolate.”
He knew just what she meant, but again, was not sure how to reply. A few moments passed as they both thought of a past place, and then she asked him. It threw him off guard a little. She asked him if he had a girlfriend, as blunt as that. He started to sweat a little and said no he didn’t have a girlfriend and for a while she said nothing, just stared at him, almost directly into his eyes. She was thinking. “Do you believe in soul mates?” she asked him.
Wished she would ask him question he could answer properly, he replied.
“I like to hope so. I mean…I guess I do but I don’t think most people meet theirs. They just pass each other by, sometimes not even knowing.” He immediately wondered why he spoke with such pessimism. And then she said something he would never forget. Still staring into his eyes but now resting her chin on her hand she said, “You have a white heart. I can sense it.”
He thought of the phone call, it wasn’t her voice. He had not really thought about the call since it happened. Storms kept stopping him.
“A what…?” he asked, making sure he heard right.
“A white heart. Some people, for one reason or another, have white hearts. Each white heart is paired with an identical one. That same heart is your soul mate, your true love. Together you can change things, but only if you find each other. You don’t get many chances but taking it is agreeing to a destiny. Fulfilled destiny is what makes the world go round. You’re very lucky.”
“So how would I know if I found my other white heart?” He asked, thinking he knew what she would say.
“You’d just know.”

Somebody from the kitchen called for him, breaking the conversation. He told them to hang on. They told him it was urgent. He told the girl that he would be back in a second and that he was ‘intrigued’ by the conversation. Another stupid comment, he thought. He looked at her again then, not wanting to break this moment, he hurried into the kitchen.
It was not urgent at all. The chefs just wanted to know what he wanted to eat so they could go home. He chose the chicken with lemon, rosemary and chorizo and went back out into the bar to continue the conversation about soul mates.
She was gone. Her coffee cup was half-full on the table but she was not there. It didn’t even seem as if she had been there. His colleague had not seen her come in let alone go. He looked outside to see if he could see her. Nothing. Feeling slightly deflated, he stood in the doorway, facing the outside worlds. The sky was no longer split in two. The black thunderous clouds had taken over, they had won. A rumble rolled across the sky as he considered all she said, laughing nervously at the idea it might be true. “How would I know?” he thought.
He knew.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Calm After the Strom Part II

The Calm After the Storm. Part II

The storm rushed in through the side door; clouds of people leaving the concert all carrying a strong thirst. A young couple laughed at the impatience that surrounded them. Old men loosened their ties and shouted over the bar and old women clicked their tongues against their teeth to demonstrate their disgust at not being next.
In many ways, he enjoyed this. In many ways, he had no choice. It was that or let it bother him. “Who’s next please?” he shouted. He knew that more than one person would claim the rights to being next; he knew people wouldn’t like it when he did not serve them first.
In frustration, and possibly pain, a small old man with a big grey beard punched the bar and left.
Then the phone rang.
The rumble and shouts of the crowd reminded him that the phone was quiet. He knew, combining the busy bar and broken phone, he was about to have an awkward conversation.

“Afternoon White Hart bar.” He said, putting a finger in his free ear in an attempt to make the other end seem a little louder. There was no response so he thought either he, or they, did not hear.

“White Hart, can I help you?” he repeated just in case. This question prompted a surprisingly clear and competent reply.

“…white heart?” the voice asked, “You…are…white heart…”
He had not yet noticed the hand covering the free ear had fallen by his side. Despite trying no longer to focus all of his hearing on the call, he could hear the voice as clear as ever. It was as if somebody had pushed a mute button, silencing all the customers. He was not deaf but he could hear nothing except complete still.
The voice returned, softly, before he had the chance to speak.

“Yes, that’s better,” then there was a pause, “Now I can hear it beat. Yes…yes…you are white heart…”
After a short silence the noise and roar of the crowded bar came crashing back into his senses. He was not sure how long the gap between the voice and the crowd was, but when he tried to speak, he could only hear the noise from the customers in the bar, no voice.

“Hello…? Hello…?”
The voice, once more, had become a dial tone.

From then the mayhem seemed to filter away. The rush had passed and as with all rushes after concerts, it left a large mess in its wake. Patches and puddles of alcohol covered the work units and floor, empty bottles lay scattered, there was shattered glass everywhere and the bin had fallen over.

The last couple left the bar, thanking the staff as they made their way back into the outside worlds.

He turned his back on the bar and breathed in the silence and calm. Slowly clearing the mess and filling the dishwasher with used glasses, he treasured this ‘after’ moment. This part he loved most. A small laugh of uncertainty left his body as he considered the phone call. He did not have time to think about it as the second half of the rush took off, but now it was calm and the bar was empty. He thought.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Calm After the Storm.

I began writing a series of short stories all based around the idea of a storm.
This is the first part (of three) of the first story.

The calm after the storm. Part I.

When afternoons were like this it would remind him of why he had not made some great push to better himself. There were aspects of the job he enjoyed, but mostly he wished he didn’t have to, bar work is just bar work. However, afternoons like this he embraced, quiet and peaceful, perfect with a book and a coffee. If only he had remembered his book. Instead, he stood in the doorway, with a coffee, facing the outside worlds.
The sky seemed split in to two.
On his right, above the trees and rolling hills, the sky left remains of morning. A pale, thin, white cloud had spread itself over too much surface area, and so left pockets of a lighter shade like patchwork. The largest was home to the beating midday sun trying to find its way through by glowing white behind the filter cloud. It was a peaceful sky. Not bright, not empty but soft and at ease.
The other sky painted a different picture. To his left, above the courtyard and car park, the clouds closed in. Thunderous and black it could quite easily have been a picture from the suspense scene of a sci-fi film; the skyline telling us that the inevitable and uncontrollable was about to happen. There were no aliens on their way but a storm seemed to be.
He considered the cosiness of bad weather. He remembered being at home as a child, in a dinning table chairs and duvet covered den, listening to the thunder and counting the distance in limbo between light and sound. Even as a child, he would acknowledge the sordid pleasure of being right at the heart of the storm. The light would strike as he waited for it, not knowing when it would jump out and scare him. Then he would count with a careful precision until the sound of thunder would tell him to stop and wait once more, embracing the excitement and fear of it rolling closer. But the safety it offered is what he loved. If it had found its way above his head then surely it will only leave in the same way, now it was here.
‘The calm before the storm’ would get his adrenalin pumping through fear and apprehension but the peace, the gratitude and the calm after is what he most loved.
He stood, staring at the two contrasting skies considering which would win, whilst absorbing the nostalgic feeling of travelling to a past place.

Then the phone rang, bringing him back and removing him from the hair on his arms, which stood on end. It was like a wake up call. “Good afternoon, the White Hart bar. How can I help you?” he answered, not for the first time.
“Hello...?” a hesitant and small voice asked.
“Hello. This is the White Hart bar. What can I do for you?”
“Is this the…White…Heart?”
Normally he hated this situation, however at this moment he did not mind the prospect of an awkward phone call.
“I hope so.” He joked.
And that was the end of the conversation. The small, unusual voice on the other end had become a larger, familiar dial tone. He held the receiver away from his ear, looked at it then placed it back where it came from. He turned to tell a colleague about the mystery hang-up caller but she spoke first, “The concert’s now ending, “ she said, “it’s gonna kick off.”
Then the call was forgotten.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

a snap shot type picture painting of a modern day Icarus

Just another day.

Today is not so different. The glaring sun shines down on the busy streets, sharing the sky with nothing but one small, mournful, black fluffy cloud. And people continue their lives.
On the ground, a man casually leans against a wall as a Sheppard would his crook. His body language screams volumes to the girl blushing, as they engage in flirtatious banter, and playful looks. His manner works wonders and she salutes with one hand, to shadow her eyes from the beaming sun. Out in bloom are rose tinted sunglasses as the busy streets stir with the tide. A stranger on a motorbike rides by and sounds his horn. Many heads turn but only one-person waves to yesterday’s lover, or the one that got away.
A man ploughs the road for litter and trash. Today’s fish’n’chip paper blows by in the wind, ignoring yesterday’s news.
Over the street, café-goers take advantage of the sun and seats outside. It is full with tourist whispers and local’s gossip, chitchatting and unawares, everyone continuing in their lives.
There is a woman at work sitting sombre at her desk, considering a past reality. She thinks of a life of laughter, love and dreams. On the floor above, her boss does the same. Head is in his hands, elbows on the table; his mind is heavy with regret.
If only they knew.

On the roof above them all stands a boy, a stranger, a future myth.

The people below are miniscule to his height. They hover and slide like creatures from another time. Looking down from god’s eyes, he has found the edge of the world, and it is his, if only for today. For miles and miles, there are nothing but rooftops and noise. The voice in his head has gone. Feeling the strong, warm breeze on his body, the boy sheds slow motional tears. He is sad to be leaving but glad to have found a reality that can only be his. There is a simple smile on his blank face and a heavy glaze over his eyes as he waits for the change in the wind. That will be his cue.

Elsewhere his dad is in a panic, regretting letting go. Blaming himself as a father would. He created the world around his son and he made only one escape. Talented and creative he made his world, he made the wings and now…now the boy wants to fly.

Opening his wings as far as they can stretch, he glances at the sun.

Then he pauses.

Finally, he sees the world from where he wants to be. High above the earth he feels alive. For one beautiful moment, his realities combine. He thinks he has found the answer.

Flying soon turns into falling as his hit runs out. The wings have gone. The burning sun melts his tears but he feels no regret. He feels no feelings at all. In his mind, he is as light as a feather. Detached from its wing he floats with a gentle certainty.

From the ground, an object plummets from the sky. Spinning and spiralling, it is somersaulting out of control. But nobody notices.

After an age, or just a few seconds, the fast fall’s reality sets itself in a sea of stone.

The next morning the café finds its morning crowd. The ploughman reads the greased up chip paper, and the girl salutes from the man’s bedroom window. As the powerful sun starts another day.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

"There's nothing wrong with love"

I had just left a local cafe where I had sat eating lunch, reading the paper and drinking coffee. I had been reading about Christiano Ronaldo’s ‘love’ and respect for Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson and all the staff, as well as his slightly more controversial (to United fans) relationship and view, of Real Madrid.

This was a cafe where a mother, on more than one occasion, called her curious and inquisitive three year old a ‘twat’, and told him to shut up whilst holding her puppy on her lap and wolfing down a ‘curry of the day’.

A cafe where, as I stood to leave, a lady (and her dog) asked if I was going. I told her i was. She told me that she wanted the sofa I was sitting on, because she ‘loved that sofa’ and was waiting for ‘someone’.

I left this small cafe and began the one minute walk back to my flat.

It was pouring with rain. I pulled up my hood and ventured with a steady pace toward my home. I walked the two hundred yard walk along 'the plains' and as I turned a corner, stepped on to a piece of pavement that somehow splashed filthy dirty rain water up my bare leg (I was wearing shorts) to heights that surprised me, including my face. Wiping my eye with my already wet sleeve I noticed two of the local homeless standing in doorways down the side alley. One whom once, after I gave him some change, told me he was polar bear and for the rest of the summer he was going to wear layer upon layer of jumpers, no matter how hot, in protest for polar bears. “This is how they feel”, he told me. “They’re sweating their nuts off whilst we melt their home.” He continued to speak of issues personal to him, morally, social and political before being distracted to silence by an attractive lady. Completely forgetting what he was saying or even that I was there, he turned back to me and said, “Got any spare change mate?”

He was standing facing the wall, just beyond him sat a woman, his friend, who acknowledging the Adidas jumper I was wearing, gave a rendition of the mock meaning ‘All Day I Dream About Sex’. After a short pause, she lost her smile that offered her worn, heavily stained teeth (as well as empty spaces where others once were) and said, “There’s nothing wrong with love…nothing wrong with love”.

She made me think. Made me consider the simplicity of what she said. It stuck with me largely because of the contrast between the contexts of her paired comments, one joyfully and with humour, the next serious and poignant.

I instantly thought of the woman calling her young child a 'twat', the puppy, the lady waiting for ‘someone’, and even Ronaldo and his football career.

As well as other things.

'There’s nothing wrong with love.' She’s not wrong.