Archive for August 2010

A Chibber Vignette

August 29, 2010

An old lag once told me “There are no tough guys. When the lights go out you can hear them crying.” Tough guys don’t seem to live long as there is always somebody tougher. My mate Chibber is a tough guy, still living, more through luck than anything else. Tough luck.

It was a Christmas and I arrived fashionably a little late. The party was still sober though it was jolly. From the corner of my eye I spied Chibber wearing a Christmas hat he’d pulled from a cracker. It was blue, naturally. I laughed at him. He likes me so I get away with these things.

“What are you doing? You’re sitting there with paper tissue on your head.”

Affronted he was and you wouldn’t like to see him when he gets affronted. He grabbed the hat from his head, wrapped it into a ball and ate it. Chibber had done the proverbial “eating your hat” for real. Trouble was it was only paper. Not as tough as eating wood, rocks, metal or a boater, now is it?

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Off the beaten track

August 17, 2010

Living in an over-populated urban metropolis means that when outdoors there are very few moments for quiet reflection. The bustle of crowds and the usual noises emanating from a big city environment are contributory factors to the dearth of good pastoral poets in this neighbourhood.

Deep in the heart of the city my son and I jostled with consumers, commuters and window shoppers. As we walked and ate our lunchtime snack of sausage rolls using our elbows to keep passers-by at a distance I gave him some business news. The rising wheat costs in Russia will drive up the price of our pastries.


(The rise and rise of wheat. A lot of dough)

We continued our squash through the pell-mell and were in an unexplored part of the town. The people were thinning out and turning a corner we noticed there was nobody about. Sandwiched between two rows of deathly quiet houses stood a small swing park. We sat on a bench and finished our meal.

My son was a bit big for the park and I’m an adult, however. At first reticent, I managed to persuade my son to have a revolution on the swings. Hesitantly and looking about to check the coast was clear he began to rotate. Try the big chute next, I dare you, I said. Now after the Dragon Khan this was a piece of cake. He slid down the not very scary chute but laughed heartily, nonetheless.


(A sanctuary far from the madding crowd, complete with frightening chute)

Soon he was enjoying himself and with little self-control I had to join in this caper. We had a competition to see whose swing could go the highest. We slid down the chute backwards; now that takes bravery. And on the see-saw we sprang like a demented jack in the box. Fearing that our luck would run out we left the vacant playground to its lonely existence and resolved to keep secret our little hideaway.
OK, who’s buying the sausage rolls this week?

Subterraneons: Chapter 1- Stampede

August 14, 2010

The packed, feathery, skeletal birds cushioned Porter’s fall. In darkness he rubbed his eyes and a vague kind of light gave him sight of his surroundings. With revulsion he eyed the bed of birds. They were picked to the bone and he wondered what fangs had torn and devoured these poor creatures of flight. Standing up, wiping the loose feathers from his trousers and folding his newspaper he saw the source of the light.

Two bright luminous yellow lines lined a path into the horizon. Using the glow from the painted lines Porter opened to the sports section and read the latest Lancashire scorecard and was pleased to see that Tom Smith was having a good knock. He rustled the paper and thought, if this is Hell it’s not as bad as the press make out. Relatively pleased with his lot at this time, from behind him a faint running noise was heard and he feared to turn round. The scurrying and clatter of paws echoed monstrously.

Porter thought it better to leave the birds behind and he headed away from the menace that was not seen. Only the menace was getting louder and approaching. Was this the pigeon predator and now in search of bigger pickings? Porter had no bags but he was a packer in a hurry. Try as he might while dashing along the yellow lined road the scattering footprints were gaining on him. And then he fell.

Suddenly, he was engulfed with a sea of rats. The rodents clamoured over his body burying him in a shroud of brown. Their squeaking and squeals were an orchestra tuning up. One rat faced him eyeball to eyeball and Porter could smell the breath of this Pied Piper plague-carrier.
“Get away from me, you dirty rat.”

Then they got away. They rode over the top of his body with the speed of a chariot of fire. Is this some kind of rat race, thought Porter, as the final rat tripped over his nose. Rising to his feet with his paper in his hand, from the yellow distance where the rats had fled, a zipping noise was heard and Porter was struck by an arrow in the elbow. In not so quick succession another arrow lodged in his heel and he felt an ill at ease. Not helped by the arrival of a man with a bow and arrow set who said.

“Sorry pal, I thought you were a rat. I’m Hawkeye.”

“You could have fooled me.”

“The Ancient One will be glad to meet you. We are always looking for the Others.”

Porter’s immediate reaction was to think of the 1960’s rock band that had a young Brian May in their line-up. To find a copy of their only released single Oh Yeah! would be vinyl heaven. Was Hawkeye searching in this damned underworld for a buried single? Hawkeye brought Porter back to reality.

“There are more of us. We are called The Underdowners.”

* * *

The Subterranean saga has been discontinued. This idea for a long underground series (maybe ten chapters or so) came to me before the Chilean mining incident. Out of respect for the miners I have cancelled the storyline. Porter and his versatile paper were to have been a continuing theme and Porter will be back. On land, next time.

High Art meets Lowlander

August 8, 2010

The famous art forger, John Myatt, now earns a living making genuine fakes and teaching students how to draw. A movie based on his life is in the offing. Some of the things he’s done might seem unpalatable but this poacher turned gamekeeper has had an eventful life.

The world of painting has always interested me and while cubism and surrealism and all the other isms can look nonsensical, realistic art impresses me. JMW Turner and Rembrandt are two of my favourite artists. Many times have I feasted my eyes on Rembrandts Man in Armour (see left) which is situated in Kelvinbridge Art Gallery. While I can spend hours staring at the amazing landscapes Turner created.


(Chichester canal, 1828, Turner)

Polished and immaculate art can sell for thousands or millions depending on the buyer. Not one to miss a trick I started practising with my crayons and what began merely as a hobby has snowballed into something different. Portraiture is my forte in this line of work and I got my first commission from a patron who wished to remain anonymous. Word of mouth of my prints hanging in the local bar must have reached him.

This is a rough draft and purportedly even these sketches can fetch a few quid. I am still working on the masterpiece and it should see the light of day sometime soon. Respected art dealers have told me I could be nominated for the Turner prize. Lurvly.

Tales of The Wire: 3. Landsman

August 7, 2010

Detective Sergeant Jay Landsman may not have the highest rank in the Homicide Division but he was sure feeling High Society as the clearance rate for murders was good. Looking out the Penthouse window of his office he smiled and went back to his lunch. The standard Landsman dinner was a big Kahuna burger, fries and a litre of Coke. He took a large bite from his burger and surveyed his magazine.

The centrefold in Men Only winked at the big detective. Jay smiled and rotated the magazine180 degrees. The only thing he disliked about the glossies was the staples; always puncturing and obstructing a vital part of the anatomy; now that’s what you call murder.

His sausage fingers turned the well-thumbed pages that were sticky from some glue-like substance. Probably dropped mustard or ketchup from his meal, he reasoned and smiled again. Then he thought, not be long now to the Kelly Brook Playboy special hits the stands. The big man’s Southern hemisphere vibrated.

His explicit deliberations were curtailed by an interrupting Detective with the nickname of Bunk who excitedly ejaculated the following message.
“Jay, you gotta see this. This will pop your cork.”

Landsman with magazine and Coke still on his hand walks ungainly into the corridor. He stares at the murder board on the wall. Newly written up are eleven John Does.
“Oh nuts!”

“Eleven bodies found on the dock with their hands cut off and their teeth smashed with a blunt instrument. Maybe a Club.” explains Bunk.

Landsman drains his Coke with a straw until he is left sucking air; his container is empty.
“I need time to get my head round this. I’m off to the little boy’s room.”

Landsman tucks his glossy magazine under his arm and heads for the toilet.

The Bench

August 2, 2010

The squirrel descends the bark
So effortlessly
It hops along the verge with a grace
Evolved in centuries
And I’m watching it, studying it
But I’m also watching the time

There’s a jogger mp3′ing along
Tizz titi tizz tizz
I’m trying to work out the song
Titi tizz titi tizz
And as I’m thinking, thinking
I’m also thinking about the time

An elderly couple strolls by
Hand in hand
I wonder when they first became
Woman and man
This aged Adam and Eve
Walking beside dead leaves
And as they wander, I wonder
I wonder what time it is.

This bench will have many memories
Stored in its wood
It will be privy to many secrets
Not all of them good
Will it keep mine, keep mine
As I sit and lose track of time

She’s not coming now, I fear
She’s failed to leave the house
It’s hard for her to keep our rendezvous
When she’s someone else’s spouse
So I sit and wait, sit and wait
And fritter away the time

Subterraneons: Prologue- Dead Martyrs

August 1, 2010

He was taking the high road as he’d done many times before. As middle age had crept in he was straining with every step and wished someone would give him a push. He rounded the twist in the road and saw the pothole. For months on his daily climbs he’d observe this pothole grow wider. Luckily, it was placed a few feet from the kerb and the wheels of cars missed the aperture. As no damage was sustained to the automobiles the crack went unreported.

At last he reached his destination at the brow of the hill. He remembered his grandfather’s disparaging description of sex: all that sweat for a little tingle. Now sweaty and out of breath, he smiled to himself. Hey Pops, I didn’t even get the tingle.

“Good morning, Mister Porter, you’ll be here for your Sunday Times, will you?”

Same old, same old sayings, old George will be talking about the weather next. He agreed with old George there was a nice breeze in the air and bought his newspaper and some gum. The only newsagent for miles and he damn near kills himself every morning because the paperboys are so unreliable in these parts. One of them even made it into The Times when he disappeared while on his bike. Vigilantes staked out the house of a creepy magician and he was forced to do a disappearing act.

The descent is a dangerous undertaking. With all the weight on his heels Porter slowly waddles like a penguin down the slope. He comes to the twisty part of the road. A small girl has wandered out of her garden onto the road and is heading for the pothole as a screeching car chugs up the hill. It is almost upon her. Porter, in haste, drops a section of his newspaper as he scurries for the girl. The car turns the curve as Porter pushes the girl onto the other side of the road. And Porter falls, falls into the black pothole. Falling, falling, lightly, lightly, until he lands on a bed of dead pigeons.