Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Sniper (snippet)

Red spot laser sight
The last thing you’ll see
And hiding behind it
The sniper

One shot phaser light
Seeks sins, shoots free
But nobody’s ever met
The sniper

Don’t fear what you won’t feel
For most mistakes are free
The sniper, eyes of steel,
Waits long and patiently.

Down In The Catacombs

An ancient city atop an ancient hill
Strives to breathe above the dust
Strives to soar above base desire
A thousand generations fortified Mdina

In pre-history I stood here, watching
As they came from the South
As they came at us from the East
Whilst the earthquakes shivered the ground

Phonecians, Byzantines, Arabs attacked
But none could make their works stick
But none could keep the fortunes alive
As broken bodies piled up in the streets

The Silent City’s palaces still stand
We watch together as the sun rises
We watch together as the empires fall
From this ancient city atop this ancient hill

The groaning souls of the exhausted dead
Are banished to the Catacombs
Outside these city walls and never to enter Mdina
Miles of ancient tunnels underneath parched Rabat

Where something more primeval rules

Here, it is said, if you stand and listen
You can hear the whispers
Doomed generation after deranged generation
Banished to these subterranean sandstone cathedrals

In the galleries and recesses of rest

These crypts to cry out

We cry out

And we call

Join us
Join us
Join us

Monday, 22 May 2017

There is a house

There is a house. It’s a terraced house. In a Victorian Street.

You can walk from it to a medium-to-small city. It takes about twelve minutes, depending whereabouts you want to go.

There are loads of venues in the city. You can walk around and hear music pretty much everywhere.

And we did. Sometimes we made the music happen.

Sometimes we made the booze happen.

Sometimes we even provided strawberry and champagne pie.

That was fun, and funny.

Our friends often played, or arranged, or promoted, or did sound, or lights, or radio.

Wherever we went, there would be someone we knew. I moved away, but I know this is still the case for my friends who stayed. They’re embedded there. It’s beautiful, really.

And lots, and lots, and lots, of fun.


Hundreds of nights. Too many to count. Round the house.

You could always go around there if you were bored. I’d spend more time there than at my own gaff, usually.

There’s an offy about four minutes’ walk. They sell eight cans for a fiver, which isn’t even that good of a deal really is it.

Still, we drank it. Sometimes we’d even afford whisky.

Sometimes we – that is to say, the gang, or crew, or melee of moiderers - ran out of booze entirely.

Sometimes we’d ring up the 24-hour booze delivery number.

It was written on a cricket bat.

By the time the booze arrived, of course, we’d all be asleep. It took fucking ages for those fuckers to get the van full enough to justify their antics. After you’ve been asleep for two hours and it’s 3am and a man comes knocking at the door with a crate of warm Heineken that cost you 30 quid it doesn’t seem like that great an idea. But you needed to pay them.

They weren’t quite the kind of people you’d not want to pay.

Other times we’d manage to stay awake. Then we’d wander around Toxteth at 6am fairly aimlessly, which is good for stories but not too wise really.

But we were brothers, of course, so we were invincible.

Blood brothers.

Some of the gang heated up forks on the stove and branded each other. Some of the brands were less corporeal entirely. I swerved the fork incident somehow. I kinda wish I hadn’t sometimes.

But who the fuck wants a fork brand on their arm at age 80?

By then I spose it doesn’t matter either though does it.


There were lots, and lots, and lots of silly things we did.

Then and now.

And maybe tomorrow too.

I’m going to the house. Maybe this week. I’m not sure when.

I’ll walk up there from the trains, more than likely. As I remember it’s about a 28-minute walk, depending which station I get off from.

I’ll walk down the path and go into the house, passing what used to be our office.

I’ll sit on the sofa, drink a cup of tea, water boiled in the same kettle as always.

I’ll look at the music books.

I’ll look at all the albums and hard drives full of music.

Maybe I’ll see that the washing-up needs doing, or that there’s a dirty pair of trousers on the floor.

Or that there’s half a loaf of bread.

Or a posh bottle of hot sauce in the cupboard, unopened yet.

I don't know for certain.

What I do know is this:

I’ll sit in the house, the Victorian terraced house, in the not-so-big city where I used to live and play and love and mess and work.

I will be surrounded by all the trinkets and possessions and magazines and books and music and cooking implements and clothes and shoes and tables and chairs and the big casserole pan used so many times for so many happy people.

It will all be the same; all his stuff.

You accumulate this shit over the years don’t you. It kind of comes to define your space. Maybe define you, too.

I dunno.

Maybe I’ll sit by the table where we all played poker, and drank until we didn't really care that Rob always won.

Maybe in the chair next to where me and my friend hammered everyone at Pictionary.

Or on the sofa where I’ve slept countless times.

(Sometimes on purpose.)

Everything will be the same; the house holds memories in its bricks.

But it will not be the same,
because my friend will not be there.

Of course, there are no answers to be had.

Many questions, of course. Too many, and too painful too.

But answers are a trickier proposition.

The Victorian street will not say anything, because it has seen everything there is to see a thousand thousand times before, and it knows not to pry.

It knows there’s nothing that can be done.

Nothing that can be really, truly said.

And that both of those things are OK.

It knows that time won’t heal, but that time will soften and fade the sharper barbs, that scar tissue may turn into a personal reminder of better times past.

That smiles will return.

They might be wonky; there might be extra lines on the faces.

But the smiles will return.

And the sun will still come up the next day.

And the local urchins will still hurl bottles at students’ heads before running away.

And the offy will still sell shitty lager to skint idiots.

And the world will turn again.

And again.

And again.

Sometimes all you can hope for is not to fall off isn’t it.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

CC Rider

So another one’s gone.
52 is pretty young, for a man, these days.
For a rock star? That’s also kinda old.
But 52 is too young to be gone.

And it’s not cool to go young.
52 is pretty young, for any man, any day.
To leave without planning to get cold
Or wanting to, mid-song, is wrong.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Saddest Window In The World

Maybe you’ve seen it
Perhaps you only dreamed it
Walked past and given a shiver
An unintended quiver
For the saddest window in the world.

It’s really just four panes
In a boring, rough wood frame
It has little view; it faces a wall
In the thinnest alley of them all
It’s the saddest window in the world.

The sun has never ventured
Into the dark, dank centre
Of an alley full of muck
And garbage-stinking stuff
Below the saddest window in the world.

The glass is filthy too
Nobody ever looks through
The portal’s never opened
It’s crumbling, tired and broken
The saddest window in the whole world.

The room is now bricked up
There’s no-one to unblock
The concrete that surrounds it
The walls that grow around it
The forgotten window of the world.

Deep in the alley
Stirs a creature sadly.
The garbage starts to move and curl
But it’s not garbage. It’s a girl
Dressed in rags and shivering
Dreaming she’s not quivering
From cold and hunger night on night
From running, hiding, thieving, stealing
To try and grab another bite
A one whose life is riven
With harsh truths, unforgiven
Forgotten by the filthy world
No family that she knows of, or
A school, a home, a daddy
To hold her, or a mummy.

She is the saddest girl in the world.
She eats food that’s discarded
In bins. She is abandoned.
Her clothes are rags, held fast with grot.
She has no name aside ‘get out’

She is the saddest girl in the world.
There are no birthdays for her.
She hasn’t had cake, ever.
No blowing out of candlesticks:
She has never made a wish.

The saddest girl in the world
Doesn’t wonder anymore
Who lives and dies behind closed doors
Because she’s always hungry
And cold, and scared. She must be

The very saddest girl in the whole world.
She sits up in her garbage bed.
She puts her hands around her head.
Another day, another struggle
A thousand ways to get in trouble

For the saddest girl in the world.
But today she looks up; sees a window
To a room she could call her own.
It’s ten feet up. It looks so lovely
One day she’ll climb the walls and see

A way to open up a room
That maybe she could call her own.
And she would look out of the window,
See the garbage down below.
She says to herself: "Maybe today

I’ll find a ladder, find a way
And tonight – maybe tonight I can sleep
Without rats chewing at my feet
Without dark shadows looming large
Without the grimy seeping sludge

Maybe I’ll be safe, even warm.

I will be the happiest girl in the world.

It is the most beautiful window in the world."

Friday, 7 April 2017

The Great Five Pound Note Furore, And What Happened Next

Tallow in the fivers didn’t last so palm oil came in instead. That wasn’t as stable, so the Royal Mint did a deal with Vietnam, hybridising the paper with bahn da nem. That had a bit of a crackly feel in the pocket, according to market research. Ascorbic acid, phenols and tocopherols helped with the longevity of the new notes as did a gentle smoking process. 

It was found that rosemary was the most effective at this, which also gave the fivers a lovely woodland aroma.

People started to collect them; the money made wallets and houses smell more friendly. Banks were suddenly beset with tourists just wanting to sit there and inhale the pleasing memory of late summer in the forest. Pop-up fiver cafes started to appear in disused shops, where people paid in coinage to drink awful coffee and factory floor-scraped tea and just let their noses get away from the stress of the grimy streets, whilst projections of childhood-memory playing in copses flittered and fluttered across hastily-whitewashed walls.

The median cost for a 15 minute seat was £6, and waiting times were measured in hours.

Greengrocers, in a kind of Ui-esque dip, could sell their cauliflowers for a quid each, or four for one of the new fivers. There were fewer and fewer in circulation, so in demand were the notes. People weren’t getting rid of them; they were beautifully-scented and brought a sense of permanence to any home. The power of the suggestion of the aroma of nature seemed to wrest meaning away from the financial value of the notes, and put it back into altogether more nebulous, but somehow more real, terrain. The cities, in particular, could not get enough: people began to use them as modern nosegays as they wandered the filthy, three-weekly-collection streets, stepping over increasingly desperate nonfives without a second look.

By now, the upgraded five pound notes were changing hands for ten pound coins or more.

When the plague hit, and the food went bad, and the imports’ costs soared, and the caulis cost a tenner a pop, the Mint added monosodium glutamate to the notes. Aroma cafes added edible notes to their menus; the taste was irresistible. For those who could afford it, breakfast would be five pounds, lightly toasted, with irredescent GM-butter; lunch a five pounds soup with irradiated Nu-water. The evening meal was usually cat. There were always plenty of those; so quickly do pets become pests.

Most people didn’t have time or the inclination to wonder what the moral of all this was, so it was just left on the side, a dollop of indigestible fat amidst the fibre.