Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

30 Dec 2014

Flat 19A - If You Don't Know Me By Now

you always hear them say this,
whenever they've survived some great natural disaster,
or a terrorist attack, or a nuclear explosion,
or even when they've won the bloody EuroMillions.
"it was just an ordinary morning;
no different from any other day."

Jean's husband had been up and about for thirty three minutes:
singing out of tune to Absolute Radio
and forgetting to rinse the shower.
thirty three wasted minutes of usual fucking uselessness before Jean managed to conjure up the strength to drag herself out of bed;
gradually subtracting from the morning's "to do" list,
until she was left only with the absolute necessities.
the barefaced ugliness of adulthood's duties.

the first thing she notices as her legs swing out,
is how cripplingly cold it is in the world outside the duvet.
her bed, so recently as cosy as a womb,
is now a fond and distant memory.

she ties her hair up in a bobble.
showers. exfoliates. moisturises.
dresses. chomps on some toast.
grabs her keys.
kisses the useless fucker on the cheek.
and then rushes through the door.

the unforgiving February morning:
eyebrow raised, smugness sharpened, tapping at the watch on its wrist.
rewarding Jean's negligent lethargy
with an unprecedented parade of permatanned housewives:
faffing on the roads in four by fours
that've never seen worse than a pothole;
just so little Henry doesn't have to stretch his legs.

and when dawn broke that morning,
it left a thick layer of frost
on the windscreen of the brand new Toyota.
purchased three weeks ago,
apparently on a whim,
with the savings that she'd sidelined
for a sojourn in Seville.

Jean checks the time.
she curses at herself for running late once again.
dreading what smarmy retort she'll have to tackle as she tries to sneak unnoticed,
slipping a pre-booted laptop onto her desk and pretending to be on the phone.

she turns the key in the ignition.
that fucking Simply Red CD is in again.
she rummages through the glove box:
The Lighthouse Family, Rush, Oasis.
what a load of old toss.

Jean hears an ambulance race past
and instinctively glances up.
but what she sees, instead of a flash of blue lights,
is her life,
gradually unfolding,
at glacier pace:
the frost
on the windscreen
creeping up;
a millimetre
every second,
only to reveal
two footprints.
two female footprints,
pressed up,
against the glass.

two sizes or so smaller than her own feet, at a guess.
much bigger than her six year old niece's.
and left there,
quite clearly,
whilst her husband nipped out to the 24 hour Asda
for his pack of Ibuprofen.
a forty minute journey less than three miles down the road.
his own sick revenge,
for her weary refusals,
owing to the fact that she'd a headache?
or a clumsy instinctive cover-up on receiving a dirty text?

the first thing she thinks to do,
after switching off Mick Hucknall,
is to scan the car for knickers.
whoever the little wench was
(and you'd better believe she was a worthless little wench),
there's every chance she'll have left a souvenir
that the good for nothing scum bag will have clumsily forgotten to retrieve.

all that Jean can picture,
whenever she closes her eyes,
is Mark,
her husband,
of eight and a half years;
removing the knickers
with his crooked grin,
tossing them aside,
reaching for his zip,
and then lowering the seat whilst she fumbles with his buttons.

his broad, smooth shoulders,
flexing as he supports himself.
banging his head on the sunroof.
his finger in her mouth
as he silences the giggles.
the sweat on his brow.
his whispered instruction not to scratch,
so as not to be leaving any trace.

and the face that he pulls,
that only she should know:
jaw slightly clenched,
lip slightly curled,
teeth slightly showing,
bottom lip idle,
as he loses himself inside her.

that face that she might have seen,
as he fucked her in some lay by,
whilst Jean spread out in slumber,
in a king sized quilt cocoon.

Flat 6A - Open All Hours

a heavy sigh through nostrils. snarling and surveying the room.
another impotent day awaits;
urged on by late morning sun.
sleeping bag kicked off by jean clad legs.
neck aching. only one fraying pillow between the head and the floorboards.
one naked sweat stained pillow, in the word's first voluntary bedsit.

the double bedroom next door would be perfectly adequate but for the emptied suitcases of unworn clothing piled upon the mattress,
the hundreds of copies of Q and Fiesta that blockade the door,
and the lipstick insults, scrawled on the walls,
forbidding him from entry despite full legal ownership.

a desperate urge for a carrot coloured piss as he eventually comes to is all that raises him from his makeshift bed.
he kicks over an empty can on his way across the room, or at least, he thought it was an empty can.
in fact it was a largely empty can;
steady dregs of warm flat lager, flooding the neighbouring floorboards
and then trickling down the cracks.

the 3 foot tall refrigerator sits within arm's length of the bed.
enough food for 2 or 3 days, on the odd occasion when it isn't tinned,
and enough drink to see him through till sunrise.
Foster's; not a connoisseurs drink by any stretch of the imagination,
but men like this don't drink for pleasure, they just drink.

a double gulp for breakfast and a belch for morning prayer.
today, he thinks, will be different.
today I will write the world's last remaining epic.
today I will set upon the path that will see Tracey Emin yearn for my squalor,
see Oscar Wilde reduced to vulgarity,
and see all the whores and the cocaine and the liquor come flooding
like cockroaches through the door.

the television sits patiently in the corner;
gathering dust, bereft of a satellite or a license or a remote,
playing host only to the stack of 7 videos that sit loyally beside it.
the VHS companions that occasionally complement his mood.
they repeat, and repeat, and repeat amidst regular bouts of insomnia.

a collection of companions that somehow satisfy pretty much every aspect of his visual desire:
'Trainspotting', 'Dirty Harry', 'Debbie Does Dallas', 'Betty Blue',
the 1979 FA Cup final, Bill Hicks,
and a homemade tape containing 43 minutes of 'Only Fools and Horses',
the first ever episode of 'TOTP2',
an interview with John Major,
and 10 minutes of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'.

the primary source of entertainment, though, coming not from the fridge as some may predict but from the gramophone that takes centre stage.
the gramophone that replays the memories of his youth.
his antisocial teens. peroxide twenties.
the hatred of his marriage, the many affairs that carried him through divorce and now at last,
the tranquillity of solitude.

a whole lot more than 7 records scatter the floor.
last night: Johnny Cash, the man in black.
other current favourites include Georges Brassens, Jake Thackray, Billie Holiday,
The Doors, Bob Dylan's 'Blonde On Blonde', a rare 12" of 'Born Slippy .NUXX',
Petula Clark, an import of Jacques Dutronc, and an increasingly crackly Jimmy Ruffin.

the worst of this exile, this admittedly enforced and self imposed exile,
is the loss of the rush from the scent of female flesh.
it's been 16 months since he's had a shag. probably 3 or 4 years since a truly good one.
the electricity of their fingertips crawling up his thigh.
the adrenaline that courses when nails shred his back.
the tenderness of embrace. the intimacy. the warmth.

a long time ago, a fucking long time ago, this was a proud patch, see.
watercolours, 50 word poems and acoustic guitar ballads,
all regularly intertwined with groups of artists and intellectuals
engaging in laughter and infectious debauchery;
conversation punctuating drink fuelled sexual encounters
and hope, above all else, the toast of their never ending nights.

the sentiment occasionally still surfaces,
and the four walls still carry vague remnants of their past.
it is a shrine as much as it is a prison cell.
he cannot leave, because he cannot let go of what he once had.
he cannot escape, because without it, he is utterly unworthy of any greater alternative.
there is no greater alternative.
he must live with the consequences of the fuck up that he's spawned.

a pair of crimson sunglasses is an absolute necessity on rare events when he has to leave in daylight.
a filter placed on every single face he has to meet.
a warm red glow that somehow skews reality.
the alcohol, of course, that dominates his veins, is the predominant barrier that separates him.
but without the sunglasses?
no, it couldn't happen.

the day it all changed, he can still remember vividly.
no crimson tint. no liquid shield.
31st august 1997.
relatively early in the morning; too early to call anybody, put it that way.
'Doctor Who'; his favourite era, the first series in colour. 'Spearhead From Space'.
a news bulletin interrupted, insistent.
Diana, Princess of Wales, has died in Paris
after a high speed collision involving a car, and a wall.

a world in which Diana can be killed at 36, is not a world he wants to entertain.
no longer a world he wants to interact with.
for this man, there are no politicians peddling corruption.
no nauseating boy band sensations polluting the charts.
no natural disasters or need for humanitarian invasion,
sorry, 'intervention', whilst simultaneously raping oil resources.

the refusal was from then on no longer preference, but his mortality.
to live outside the bubble he'd previously formed.
to sit in this flat, drinking booze, playing records,
answering only to the postman and himself.
to masturbate and sing and cry and sometimes stop to eat.
a liquid lunch and a crimson tint.

he is Pinocchio. Peter Pan.
The Time Lord. The Lizard King.
Francis Begbie. Alan Sunderland. Goatboy. Dirty Harry.
Mr Greenfield. Mr Major.
Zorg, Ziggy, Del Boy and Donatello.

he is closed off from the world.
he is open all hours.

5 Dec 2014

In Church On A Tuesday Night

With a heavy-bodied aftershave aroma,
the tap room is a church on Tuesday night.
The soundtrack might be 'Girlfriend In A Coma'
but thankfully, the jukebox doesn't play that "modern shite."
Where distant lives and distant wives and worries wait outside,
in the tap room of the Ossett Brewers Pride.

The washing up was finished before the plates were even dirty,
desert boots slipped out the door at bang on seven thirty;
in four hours time they'll be lurching home, higher than a kite,
from the tap room that's a church on Tuesday night.

The picture's swapped for teletext:
Premier League on pause.
The picks of their accumulators'
pixelated scores.
Predict the unpredictable,
pin hopes on hopeless plights;
in The Brewers Pride,
the tap room is a church on Tuesday night.

This Farmer's Blonde is far too bland.
He must be blind to make that blunder!
Thirty feckless seconds,
my accumulator's all asunder.
Allus only one team short; I'm bound to get it right,
in the tap room that's a church on Tuesday night.

The politician's cameo for fifteen flimsy minutes,
but then it's back to tactics and the black ticks that'll win it.
Four quid on at Ladbrokes sees a generous return,
in a tap room on a Tuesday where they pray, but never learn.

One more jar and then the road,
debrief with our disciples.
Statistics like a secret code,
opinions all recycled.
Never mind this Spanish flair,
they need a bit of fight!
No nonsense in the tap room,
that's a church on Tuesday night.

Soaring highs and forlorn frowns
from filthy rich to Ipswich Town,
concerned that Burnley are going down;
they'll soon be out of sight.
The centre half's a dirty sod,
the barmaid knows to only nod,
we've got football: who needs God?
In church, on a Tuesday night.

27 Oct 2014

I Matter

Now you see 'em. Now you don't.
Now you see 'em. Now you don't.

So a suit wearing stranger slips in the street.
What do you do?
You check they're alright,
if there's anything you can do to help.
And you offer to call an ambulance,
and you buy them a bottle of water.
Do everything you can to reach the Good Deed Feed.
And you see them off, and then carry on,
feeling snugly smug inside.

The BlackBerry buzzes and your bus was on time.
All well and good.

But on the same street, someone slumps in a doorway.
A thousand yard stare and a warm can of Oranjeboom 8.5.
A rolled up cigarette
Last week's clothes.
Rather ironically,
what you might call "bed hair."

And they might mumble,
or they might well have conviction.
When they ask you for less than you left in the tip jar at Costa.

Only this time, you don't stop,
or check if they're alright.
And you know that there is something you can do to help, but you carry on.
Fucking ignore 'em.
It's their fault, you think. Their choice.

But 50p costs a whole lot more than acknowledgement
as fellow a human being.

Let me ask you something:
how many times do you see a homeless person with a dog,
and instinctively feel sorry for the dog?

And they say there's a system in place.
A system to make the homeless become human again.
For these inconvenient scourges on society.

But if you take someone
who sleeps in a doorway in the rain,
or in a barn covered in crawling rats,
or who shits himself with no fresh clothes;
whose life is a never ending Groundhog Day,
walking the streets again and again and again
but with nothing to gain
except for the next meal,
or the next drink,
or the next hit
of filthy beautiful heroin.
If they're not behind bars at Her Majesty's pleasure,
they're imprisoned by the psychological traumas of reality.
They can't afford the 60 pounds an hour to see a shrink.
do you really think that they'd turn back,
if the system was anything like what it should be?
If the system was in place to meet the needs of the people
who need it more than you could even imagine...

'cause they live in a parallel universe.
And the system might seem reasonable
within your expectations.
Keeping meetings at 2pm, 3 weeks on Wednesday.
But this is a person who roams the streets 24/7.

Who's given up hope.
Given up on trying.
And the system, somehow,
has given up on them too.
If the people in place to help have given up,
how the fuck do you expect these to even start?
When should vulnerability ever meet blindly with disdain?

On this jolly game of Snakes & Ladders:
9 months of sacrifice and compliance,
1 tiny blip, and it's back to the start again.
Why bother?

Some will fail, and maybe don't deserve a chance.
But for once, let them enter a room as an equal.
And enjoy those simple words that everybody craves:

"I matter."

Commissioned by Arc Light; a charity that provides accommodation and support to homeless men and women in York.

26 Aug 2014

Flat 1A - Marigolds

The very split second
his battered blue transit
began to reverse,
'Hatful of Hollow' was banished
from the hi-fi.

In marigolds
she serenades the kitchen
to The Cure,
revels in the glory
of her company;
nothing more.

"He'll be traipsing 'round
Tesco for hours,"
she thought.

"Friday, I'm in love."

20 Aug 2014

Roy of the Rovers

He'd not expected to find much.
To tell you the truth he was just killing time.
Lanyard flapping as he walked down Wood Street;
the plastic branded shackle on his neck.
A badly pixelated photograph
that makes him look a bit like a convict
who'd both shat himself with a death glare
at exactly the same time.

As he entered the shop,
he could hear the old Ferguson radiogram;
just like the one his Dad used to own.
The lad behind the counter must be maybe 25,
but he's playing The Kinks' 'Ultimate Collection',
and he looks a bit like a forgotten man from Don Revie's Leeds.
Don Revie's "Dirty Leeds".

A couple of rails of vintage clothes;
Fred Perry, Lacoste, the usual suspects.
A cream Harrington. Levi's denim jackets.
All well and good, but if he were to go and buy one,
the Mrs would only go and make him return it.
Rolling eyes, not Rolling Stones.
"You can't wear that with a bald patch."

He was just about to leave, to tell you the truth;
maybe waste a quid or two in Ladbrokes.
And then he saw them, tucked amongst a makeshift display;
no more than 4 feet tall and fairly inconspicuous.
Hidden amongst the Marvels and the DCs and the annuals, there he sat:
Roy of the Rovers.

The Kinks were rendered silent.
The rails of clothes were blowing in the wind,
and his bald patch was a blond mass of curls.
The issue is from the 1st of June, 1985.
It cost 24p in the UK, 65c in Australia and New Zealand, and $1.45 in Malaysia.
Liam Brady's colour poster waiting in the centrefold.

Cherishing this artefact that amplified his youth,
Brian has to wipe away a tear.
It's in a sealed plastic wallet, but there's no need to look inside.
He knows it almost word for word, and the images come flooding back.
Despite Roy's devastating injury, Melchester beat Real Santana in a dramatic penalty shootout.
The revered Rovers hoist the European Cup Winners' Cup aloft.
Back of the bloody net!

He places the comic on the table,
and checks his watch for the time.

Taking his glasses off for a second,
he gives it the old thumb and forefinger,
but it's fairly clear that the daft sod's welling up.
Knowing that the lad on the counter will more than likely notice,
Brian can't help but feeling like a complete and utter tit.

But as he strolls back down Wood Street,
for the remainder of his lunch,
a couple of tears are replaced by a beaming smile.

Roy of the Rovers is back in town;
Brian's mind at ease,
and his lanyard gently swaying
in the soft summer breeze.

National Rail Would Like To Apologise For Any Inconvenience Caused

Inches punctuate elbows
as elbows rest on ribs.
The tangerine screens says it's running on time
but it's clearly telling fibs.
And then that dreaded public announcement
echoes through air:

"We are sorry to announce that the
17:21 service to Edinburgh
has been delayed by approximately 30 minutes
due to a person colliding with a train.
National Rail would like to apologise
for any inconvenience caused."

A flustered murmur and a few rude words
as frantic fingers flick through screens.
Smartphone solutions, apologetic texts;
distraction, dealt by any means.

You're scaling the platform of human herds,
fortune spending vending machines.
Admittedly you do start to feel a bit vexed;
decorum, smashed to smithereens.

Then the announcement is repeated,
and you listen, a little bit closer:

"We are sorry to announce that the
17:21 service to Edinburgh
has been delayed by approximately 30 minutes
due to a person colliding with a train.
National Rail would like to apologise
for any inconvenience caused."

Somewhere, several miles away, for some horrific reason,
a badly maimed corpse is collected from the track.
And you ponder, for a second,
and give selfishness the sack.
And as they're rushing past and ranting on,
it's difficult to swallow:

How anyone can hear,
that someone jumped in front of a train,
bear the minor consequence,
and have the fucking nerve to complain.

19 Aug 2014

Fucking Metro

This is a genuine quote
from The Metro newspaper's Good Deed Feed:

"Thank you to the homeless man,
sat outside Euston Station with his dog,
who gave me his umbrella when it was raining last week."

Conclusive proof that newspapers
can aggravate anxiety,
and that society,
quite frankly,
is fucked.

13 Aug 2014

Arriva DJ

I've just worked
a 14 hour shift.
Most of it spent
standing up a ladder
beneath the baking sun,
adding undercoat to undercoat
with a £2.50 paintbrush.

So I'd just like to thank this
"Arriva DJ,"
with simplified synthesised symphonies
on his phone;
so generously broadcast
to the entire 127.

Flat 6A - The Time Lord

I've genuinely seen him
wearing sunglasses
in Cineworld.

A constant crimson tint
placed on every face he meets.

He hasn't heard a radio,
watched a telly or read a paper
since Princess Diana died,
in 1997.

Some early morning reruns
of Doctor Who,
briefly interrupted
to break the tragic news.

9 Jul 2014

Flat 15C - A Life on Auction

John joins the ladies in the blue rinse brigade;
the chuntering chorus of Rive Gauche girls.
Quilted coats and clouds of magnolia,
deceptively sweet for the devilish tongues
when the tram arrives two minutes late.

It's a funny old ride nowadays,
considering everything that's happened.
Everything that's changed as his life passed by,
and how it all looks destitute and foreign.

As the tram takes John from Malin Bridge
down Holme Lane to Hillsborough Corner,
and down Langsett Road to Shalesmoor
where he worked for most of his life,
the buildings baffle him one by one;
as if he's travelling through Stockport or Stuttgart or Sydney.

And as so often on the journey
that saw various degrees
of wrinkles in his grimace,
all beneath an unflinching hairstyle,
John exits the tram at Shalesmoor
and shuffles across the roundabout

There's a big tall shiny bastard of a building
right there on the corner;
driven like a stake through the heart of the cobbles,
with its glass exterior, its laminate flooring;
its jaunty angles and its "young professionals".
The same bunch of saps in the suits that surround him,
dodging swarms of students by the inch;
eyes locked insatiably on intergalactic gadgets;
limbs all on autopilot, minds in a trance:
he'd clip 'em 'round the bloody ear if they gave him half a chance.
It makes him feel sick.
We're meant to be in Sheffield, for crying out loud!

The crowd parts,
and the traffic stops,
and he's stood on the corner of Doncaster Road.

There it is:
next to the second hand car garage.
The beacon of his former being.

John finds his brain tingling in places he'd long since forgotten.
His weary, exhausted and cobwebbed exterior,
reflected with serenity
by the old Ship Inn.
His beloved "Dram Shop".
The haunted tavern of Kelham Island,
and the principal owner of his deep rooted nostalgia;
still knotting his stomach as though the decades had been days.

It was inside the walls of this tavern, in 1957,
shortly after MacMillan told Bedford, "we've never had it so good",
that his spectacled gaze caught sight of Edith,
and he danced for the very first time.
She, finding her second love;
and John, his one and only.

He has to steady himself as he scans the chalkboard;
a glimpse of The Ship Inn, 2014.
It paints a pitiful portrait of the house he used to know:
free WiFi, jacket potatoes,
ales from as far afield as Saltaire, Huddersfield, Ossett.
West Yorkshire?!

He passes the Nichols Building where his cousin Roy once worked.
Turns up Shepherd Street:
luminous condoms scatter the pavement.
Graffiti, empty warehouses.
Turns left onto Scotland Street:
a Chinese supermarket, a paintball emporium.
His head starts spinning and he goes to sit down but he can't seem to move for broken glass.

The sooner he gets this over with the better:
this is what he's dreaded since the day he's been alone.

Beyond the events of this morning's auction,
he sees no reasonable remaining existence.

John rests against the doorframe
of A.E. Dowse & Sons,
as if he's back at the crematorium
for Edith's last farewell.

The room seems much busier than it ought to be on a sunny Saturday morning.
Or at least, busier than expected; busier than he'd hoped,
which to be perfectly honest, meant anybody being there at all.

Every person that enters the room now poses a potent threat.
He's offered a seat, but decides to decline and pace around on tenterhooks.
He'd never struck himself as being sentimental,
but now he stands there choking on the simplest of artefacts,
and wrestling with the will to dart outside.

A few lots pass with mild amusement.
Cigarette cards, 45s; stuff anybody 'd sell.
Stuff John wouldn't mind collecting himself if he could bring himself to bother.

They almost serve as fleeting anaesthetic;
providing brief distractions from his thoughts.
But all the while he knows it's his possessions creeping forward,
and he finds himself completely out of sorts.

Because, and John's said this several times,
when all's been said and done, they're not his possessions at all.
He might well own them by law.
Might have every God given right to do whatever the Hell he likes with them.
Christ, most of 'em have been in his living room for forty odd years.
But those ticketed items at the back of the room,
tucked behind a Chesterfield armchair,
those possessions are only Edith's.

The auctioneer calls an unnecessary break,
and John takes a step outside.
The breeze that sweeps down Scotland Street sends a chill right through his bones.
His bottom lip quivers;
he hides this with a scowl.
"Don't be such a silly old fool,"
he snaps, "she's dead.
They're no more use than if I chucked them out to sea."
He senses concerned awkwardness from his audience behind,
and deems the second half more preferable
to sympathetic remarks.

His lot's first lot to bid.
"A selection of vintage furniture and homeware; all been well looked after,
starting with this G-Plan cabinet.
G-Plan cabinet, lot #615, who'd like to start..."

John's fragile chest contracts,
as the sturdy G-Plan cabinet
that Edith's parents donated on their 10th Wedding Anniversary,

is pawned
so candidly
for cash.

The Ercol suite from Midvale Avenue.
The Ferguson radiogram she'd cherished in the '70s.
The wedding dress she'd snoozed in, every single Christmas,
and her father's set of medals from the War.

Edith's existence
in a bundle of banknotes:
sixty years of memories
in twenty measly minutes.

Wheelers and dealers,
hustlers and pimps;
thrusting envelopes with bidding notes
and wedges full of cash,

into a fist
no longer fluent
in the currency
of value.

13 May 2014

Diamond Dogs (II)


His desperation dances in the drizzle in the puddles in the potholes on the bridge.
The layer after layer that gathers in his jacket is presented like a soggy badge of honour.
He stops to wipe his glasses on his shirt and then he listens as the River Don whispers at the sky.

'round the cobbled curves of Kelham Island, they say the streets shape like a diamond,
but don't let that deceive you;
'round here there's only rough.

They're full of missing persons that have never once been missed,
beneath the lampposts
and their mustard coloured mist.

According to Oscar Wilde:
"it has been said that the great events of the world
take place in the brain."

And right now muddled by midnight's mask, the bollards seem to find a female form.
Occasionally raindrops from low hanging drains all fall at once and imitate a heel;
its difficult when you're on this kind of warpath of desire to distinguish just exactly what is real.

A taxi driver inches past; his amber light irrelevant.
They both stalk the streets in the hope to hunt for punters but now she will hurl abuse,
as he passes with his heating and his radio and his cushion and his safety.

She waits there in the shadows; advertised but absent,
invisible but available, and patience long expired:
she might be pretty, if she weren't so fucking tired.

Rolled up cigarettes built from butt ends in the ashtrays outside Brooklyn Bar & Grill.
Some may say dystopian or post-apocalyptic,
but this is merely business as she reapplies her lipstick.

I am almost sure she'd dance on snow and would not leave a trace,
and even in stilettos she acquires a certain grace,
as she huddles in an arch by Cornish Place.

On the corner past the bridge, where Neepsend meets with Mowbray,
is the girl denounced as "dirty little sister".
Her voice hoarse from screaming at reflections she's terrified to see in the windows and the puddles.

To finish Oscar's quote:
"it is in the brain, and the brain only,
that the great sins of the world take place also." 

To look at Kelham Island you're forgiven for mistaking that the setting here is nothing but industrial.
Generic archetypal manufacture-laden streets.
But the air of possibility, that waters seeds of sleaze, is what drives his brain to walk them once again.

And at first I thought I'd seen this as a sordid revelation:
he emerged from Dun Fields, she came down from Alma.
Their flashing tryst became a brief reality.

The standard proposition, as I'm sure you are aware, is "do you have a cigarette, my dear?"
Of course his fingers tremble, with his 20 deck of Marlboro, that he offers her from halfway in the road.
Shuffling on tip toes, to the pedestal he placed her on, she feels nothing but an upgrade from his wrist.

She asks him for his business,
but politely he declines,
before walking home, and howling, at the moon.

29 Mar 2014

I Once Fell in Love With a Communist Vegetarian (aka Lenin & McCartney) ☭

Providence Street,
WF1 3BG.

Like the blundering runt of a cumbersome litter,
he's kicked out to the kerb.
With nothing but an ill fitting Pringle knit
to distinguish him from a tramp,
he's squints in bewilderment;
and somehow manages to summon up 
a stockpile of expletives.

Passing paper boys prompt and provoke him:
prod away at his consciousness,
prick him into activity,
and torment his brain,
which is savagely skewered by daylight.

Cheap cocaine leaves a ghostlike complexion
on his clammy contorted face.
For a second, he notices me watching him,
inches forward with an arm outstretched,
and shouts for out "Fez!"
Who follows behind
on the hunt for UK Rooster
(which closed at 1am).

Paracetamol runs a mile from the task in hand,
as a taxi scans
and pulls up with reluctance.
The driver kindly coaxes the gent,
followed by his friend called Fez,
and they blindly bundle into the back of his Toyota
before failing to remember their address.

The episode is viewed from the comfort of sobriety
as I cling to distraction,
and find myself yawning like a chimpanzee;
three hours earlier than early.
The lay by is laid by a desolate car park.
I'm stood beneath a sign that reads
"Development Opportunity,"
and silence is for once quite disconcerting.

Providence Street,
WF1 3BG.

Watches tapped and nods exchanged
as fellow passengers gather in pairs;
peppered by us sorry individuals.
No coach on the horizon,
but plenty of patches sewn on jackets;
Doc Martens,
a hundred copies of the Socialist Worker,
flasks that only ever ferry "Fair Trade" cups of coffee,
and a petition that they'll pester us to sign.

She arrives in typically blasé fashion shortly after 7:
4 minutes after we were due to leave,
8 minutes before the coach actually arrived,
and 21 minutes since my Dad dropped me off.

Shoulders hunch,
as Converse meet concrete:
skinny jeans tighter than the vice on my vocals,
and her naked nocuous nubile face
that was destined to destroy.

Seventeen years from the cradle to the grave realisation,
that 4 hours packed in a poky coach subsidised by the Union,
and bound for a march on Trafalgar Square with 400,000 other fuckers,
was the only shot at intimacy I'd ever possess
in the company of this captivating Comrade.

We share an A-Level in Government & Politics,
share textbooks on Tuesdays & Thursdays,
share several views on Socialism & Sovereignty,
but are yet to reach an agreement regarding Mattresses & Pillows.

She's a Communist Vegetarian,
and forgive me for being fickle,
but as I nonchalantly offer up
a cheddar Cheese & Pickle,
from a Greenpeace rucksack 
bearing a Soviet Hammer & Sickle;
I've reached the dizzy peak of post-pubescent
slap & tickle.

Providence Street,
WF1 3BG.

Nigh on half a million folk flood the streets of London:
the largest mass demonstration since the Invasion of Iraq;
protesting public spending cuts,
the Conservative cancer that riddles the NHS,
pensions plunging beneath the surface in a river of redundancies, 
and us, The People's, rousing refusal.

Ed Miliband speaks at Hyde Park Corner.
Missiles are launched at The Ritz.
(I don't know which one was more effective).
Anarchists arrested in excess of 200 whilst Cameron quietly cowers.
Nurses revolt, teachers demand, and "Vive la Révolution!",
we've stolen a truffle from Fortnum & Mason.

At the tender age of 17 we marched and made a difference.
Surging crowds and riot vans; placards, masks and banners.
And on the way back to the coach,
as the Metropolitan jived with the Jubilee,
she grabbed my wrist:
anxious to keep us hip by hip,
amongst the chaos and the confusion.

The coach found Wakefield in darkness.
Our Pringle clad delinquent from the episode at dawn
was out on the town once more.
She headed home in a car with her Mam,
and I caught the final 127.

We'd be hip by hip once more on the Tuesday;
as the strip light flickered in the Politics block,
and Mr Woodstones delighted us with his lectures.
But next Saturday, she'd be at the hairdressers in Horbury.
Ed Miliband spoke at a bus depot in Hounslow Heath,
and I'd be watching Ossett Albion play against Nostell Miners Welfare:
not a single placard in sight.

I once fell in love with a Communist Vegetarian; aka "Lenin & McCartney".
8 years on since we both left College, I randomly bumped into her at Leeds Fest
She told me how she'd loved that day, and swore she'd never forget,
as we both stood in the queue for steak baguettes.

26 Mar 2014

Flat 7C - Tony's Slip (Part 2: Duck Egg Blue)

It was barely three weeks after his dismal dismissal,
as the Tynemouth Under 10s Assistant Manager,
that Tony's wife Sandra finally parted with her patience.
Not that she was particularly aroused by the thought
of Tony commanding a clipboard,
in the Pin Point Recruitment Junior Football League,
but on learning of his departure from the club
it became immediately apparent to all:
to Tony, to Sandra, to their ten year old son,
their seven year old daughter and their neighbour's bastard dog,
that Tony could no longer fulfil the façade.

And on wearily turning the key,
to 7C Albion Falls,
an all consuming raging stench nigh on knocks him for six.
Now, he can be forgiven for mistaking,
amidst the coldness of the room,
having not yet used the heating
that the refrigerator was fully working:
but as the kitchen toyed with the reek of a corpse
and Tony tried not to gip,
his cottage cheese Cravendale served a relentless reminder
that perhaps he needed to lambast the landlord.

He can just about handle the Bassline binges that greet him from next door,
or the fact that the living room window won't open,
or the fact that the cigarette burns on the carpet are a welcome distraction from blood stains,
or even the bi-weekly visits from Bulgarian bailiffs chasing the previous tenant:
he can handle that.
But the landlord
really needs
to sort out the fridge.

After all, there was a full packet of dry cured ham in there
tainted beyond consumption:
£2.99's worth of Tesco's Finest abandoned in the bin.
Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

And he'd often bemoaned
the luxurious expense
from the Gold Card splurges
on Debenhams duvets,
duck egg blue dining tables,
flamingo curtains
and Cath Kidston "kitchenalia".

But as Tony pulls the threadbare rag
that barely covers his feet,
on a bed that feels like hardboard fused with rubble,
he shivers with the sense of the warmth he can catch
from a well-dressed well-loved semi-detached:
a transatlantic distance
from the life he used to know,
with Sandra,
just five miles down the road.