Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

9 Nov 2012

Breakfast at Sylvia's

Sylvia's hands wipe the table cloth,
blending with the colour as she goes:
bed and chubby in the most part,
but white and frayed around the knuckles.
There's no coffee on the menu,
two lumps of sugar as standard in your tea,
and so much food you can't eat again for a week.
A portrait of Dusty Springfield hangs proudly above my table.
Pet Clark sings softly on the radio, closely followed by Chuck Berry.
I flick through the back pages of a worthless rag,
and then sigh with comfort as my spoon dances and sings;
swirling semi-skimmed around my steaming hot mug.
This cosy little café on the corner of Kingsway:
a home away from home.
It's bloody freezing outside, the first week of November,
but since Sylvia stuck the heating on it feels like dining in a jacuzzi.
"Six years you've been coming", she smiles, with silver in the jar,
"and you know love, you matter where you go, we'll never be too far."
I sit back down, fiddle for a fag,
and then sink into the warmth of my final five minutes.

And if you wanna go out, why don't you say so?
And if you wanna drive me home, why don't you say so?
And if you wanna meet up, and then the lights off.
And if you wanna go out, why don't you say so?

So I'm just about to leave when we're interrupted;
prompted by the chimes above the door,
all eyes are guided to a stranger's face.
She looks timid, but still struts as she makes her way towards the counter:
her phone's died, the car's broken down and she needs to make a call.
In an instant she's outrageously out of place;
like a reasoned smile on a doctrinaire,
like a tropical bird at Trafalgar Square;
she's pierced the afternoon.
We're all at a loss for what to do.
I don't need to tell you how stunning she is, and not only that,
she'd slip seamlessly into Sylvia's age twice over;
and leave the poor woman blushing at the years to spare as she fumbles about for the handset.
I shift my eyes to force distraction, and then I see him:
the sun tan, the side parting,
the linen shirt and the Aston Martin:
the Don Juan of Horbury.
I wipe the baked bean juice from the corner of my mouth,
stand up, and follow her out;
comfort for too long has cursed me,
and I never see this café again.

And if you wanna go out, why don't you say so?
And if you wanna drive me home, why don't you say so?
And if you wanna meet up, and then the lights off.
And if you wanna go out, why don't you say so?
And if you wanna go out, why don't you say so?
And if you wanna drive me home, why don't you say so?
And if you wanna meet up, and then the lights off
And if you wanna go out, why don't you say so...

9 Sep 2012

Amores Perros

There's a famous quote by Billy Bremner that says,
"Every time Leeds concede a goal,
I feel like I've been stabbed in the heart"
Now you don’t need to have stepped much further than your own front door to know what the man was talking about
And you don’t really need to be a football fan either
This is when you’re nothing but a vessel

and nothing in existence compares to that one thing that holds you hostage

I leave my hotel room at eight in the morning, hand my key into reception

The thought of a fried breakfast makes my stomach turn,

so I order a nice cold pint of lager instead

I sup it in silence; that fat fuck Eamonn Holmes on the TV behind us, punctuating the awkwardness between me and the barmaid
She looks startled and uneasy; not wanting to leave the bar for fear of what I might do behind her watchful eye

But she needn’t bother; I’m no danger to anyone besides my own sorry self...

I step outside and light a cigarette, first shielding the flame from the hint of a sea breeze,

and then shielding my eyes from the early morning sun
I walk up South Parade towards Fitzgeralds

I catch a flashing glance from the old boy who sits outside

He looks right at home there with his pint of ale and his morning paper, but his eyes look lost; as if he’s waiting for something, and yet he knows it’ll never happen

He’s got a Newcastle United badge on his coat, so he probably isn’t too far wrong

I type out a text and delete it, stood opposite the York House Hotel
I try calling and don’t get an answer, but that’s probably just as well

She told me about him last night, but not of her own volition

And the thing that winds me up is that I didn’t feel a hint of suspicion

On those nights we spent alone, we were the only two alive; 

in this sunless hole, this paradise, and with only love to survive

I remember the first thing she told me

as we both gazed out to sea
"They’re all just Nymphs & Thugs"

Well what the fuck does make me?

I climb aboard the 308 and buy a single ticket

My head rests against the window, which gently vibrates

Waves crash against the slim Northumbrian coast in the distance

Seagulls float around gracefully in ravenous packs

She didn’t tell me his name; she didn’t have to

That doesn’t bother me in the slightest

His very existence is my moistened Adam’s apple; 

the saliva in my throat that’s ready to wretch at any given moment

I think of all those nights when she told me that she was crippled by her loneliness,
and that she felt suffocated and buried alive whenever she contemplated her future

When she told me how scared she was

and how nobody would even notice if she necked a bottle of Bombay; 

leaping from the Pier, never to be seen again

And all the while I believed her, and Christ, I even cried for her

And all the while she’s been texting me

and then not answering her phone because he’s fucking her in her Mum’s box bedroom

and then texting me back once he’s fallen asleep

telling me that her phone slipped under the cushion whilst she was watching TV

or that she’d left it upstairs and not realised

or that there was no signal in the pub when she was out with the girls...

They’re the words that she used to describe them

Every single man she’s ever met

“They’re all just Nymphs & Thugs; 

and you’re the only decent one I’ve seen yet”

Yeah, well that was then, but now I know the truth

Now I know about him; the other man,

the man who holds her; 

keeps her stowed away in this soulless shithole

And now I’m on my way to win her back

I get off at the Bus Station on Bridge Street

I cut along Union Street to get to Plessey Road
I walk alongside Croft Park where the Spartans play; 

past the clubhouse and through the back alley leading to Cypress Gardens

I turn left onto Princess Louise Road 

and then straight across the big green roundabout at Broadway Circle

“They’re all just Nymphs & Thugs"

I walk past the broken cash machine and then further down Princess Louise Road

I turn left onto Newsham Road; 

this is where I start to feel sick

My heart begins to palpitate; I find it hard to breathe

I light another fag

A lengthy queue at the bus stop scowls and observes; 

confused and concerned, disgusted but reserved

Fearful maybe; but they needn't bother

I’m no danger to anyone besides my own sorry self...

“They’re all just Nymphs & Thugs”

I reach the Co-Op on the corner of Southend Avenue; 

I try calling her again. No answer

I send her a text telling her to expect a knock on the door

My throat wretches, and as I double-over, 

I leave nothing but beer and bile in the bin

I loiter outside the Co-Op and then turn left onto Wordsworth Avenue

I decide to take the long way around. I check my phone; but no response

Wordsworth Avenue becomes Shelley Crescent

I follow the curve around the green, and then I’m stood on Byron Avenue

This is where she lays her head at night

This is where she cries and this is where she dreams

This is where he holds her close

and this is where she’s used me as a Councillor and a Therapist;

always there at the end of the line, just to make her feel a bit better about herself

And whilst I’d been building us a future

this is where she dwelled on nothing but the past

She told me that she was scared of the future; but I knew I was gonna make it better
It was outside that clubhouse when I thought I’d stolen her away; 

beside the lamppost and the bushes, safe from all the disarray

And I told her, “It’s never enough for me just to know you’re nearby"

But her shoulders were hunched; she couldn’t look me in the eye

This was tension that she carried; not the usual mystique,

and then her lips became a blade; and the beautiful was bleak

And that’s when it hit me; that feeling that Billy talked about

That sickening sense of loss, that despair that just leaves you feeling redundant

And now I stand here, outside her house, all alone

And I’ve never felt so alone in my life

And I can’t help but thinking

that maybe she’s lying; maybe she’s just scared that I’ll fall short

and she’ll end up even worse than she was before

Maybe she’s just shacked-up for a fortnight with a local loser, 

hoping it’ll scare me off and leave her alone for good

Her curtains twitch, and then her cool, cold face emerges

Hers is a radiance that makes you forget yourself in an instant
She stands there like a porcelain statue: 

From here she looks breathtakingly beautiful, 

but up close she’s riddled with cracks

Her front door flies open, and he’s frog-marching towards

“They’re all just Nymphs & Thugs," and these girls are their rewards

I use every muscle in my body, to stay here standing still; 

one half is petrified, one half's inclined to kill
He measures me and sneers; and it’s almost like he’s pouting

She’s still inside her bedroom; crying now and shouting

The neighbours ponder my demise or ITV

and then he breaks my nose like you might make a cup of tea

And as he beats me, I fall towards the floor

I kiss this bed of concrete, lie begging him for more

This sends a wave of rage towards his Neanderthalic brain; 

but for his woman that waits above? This is a fraction of the pain

He finally stops; he spits and takes a breath

He leaves me here defeated; an inch away from death

He walks inside, and I just crawl towards the curb; 

like a dying dog; I’m graceful, not wishing to disturb

I wait for her to come down and help me lick my wounds

But there’s an eerie silence, and that tells me everything I need to know

Well he’s just given her a damn good reason to be scared, 

and who knows, maybe she does want to come down and see me, but she can’t

Maybe he’d raise a fist to her as well; who knows

But then again she could’ve told me sooner

She could’ve prevented this

I guess love's a pretty terrifying burden, and by Christ it doesn't half fuck around with your brain

“It’s time to take the bit between my teeth,” that’s what I’ve told myself all along

Yeah, well more fool me for going where I wasn’t wanted...

I hope she’s rife with guilt; and lying crippled on her floor

I hope she dies of shame after fighting a fifty year war; 

But as I drip blood in the gutter, it’s too late to pretend

That in this world of Nymphs & Thugs, I’ll love her till the end...