Imagine if all sound just stopped.
The wind would move the trees and in those trees birds would sing,
But not the faintest rustling nor note could be coaxed to the ear,
No bland nattering, jokes or philosophising,
Watch the road more carefully.
Television reduced to mute vessel of info-tainment ,
The charmless, liquid crystal rebirth of Lloyd or Chaplin,
In Saturday-night white teeth and pyrotechnics,
And ticker-tape news stories subtitling the anchors silent lips
With silent motion reaching for the switch,
It’s action suggesting the familiar click,
But none comes.
Plunged into a deeper silence now,
A background devoid of knocking pipes,
And talking, clattering neighbours,
The kettle boils but can’t be heard.
Look out at the silent, car-strewn city,
The wind-whipped, silent con-trail sky,
See further than before when noise leashed the mind to the common world.
The steady, soundless pressure of a heartbeat,
Coursing blood sings no song but it still brings life,
Rise and fall,
Rise and fall,
Of breathing lungs.
And this vast quiet, stretching further than the eye can see,
The mind free of the common world to find it’s own gentle pasture,
To dance to it’s own rhythm and
Focus more intently on the clear-sky, new-born path,
And listen like never before.
Great performance of a Cage classic:
A bit of a poem I just penned, kicked off by a couple of word-images I had:
Wet and frigid, stalk the lonely air,
Drag ravenous nets across the floor of this human ocean,
Oh, great dweller without my door,
Churn and scour, every piece of filth,
Every cry and tear,
Every red, twisting, flashing, wrench,
Stir the waters,
Confound the eye,
Wail thy banshee siren to herald another soul lost,
Bring petrol to this fire of humanity,
With your eager fist, pound these gentle doors
So tell me, what have you found?
I found them sleeping under cardboard in shop doorways,
I found the crack of the pistol – a song to my ears in the hand of a young man,
The white cider, dog nuzzled beggar pleading under a sleeping bag outside the Empire,
I looked on as the forgotten woman reeled and wept in traffic,
And with keen mind, followed the Night Sun’s pillar to track yet another, and another, that I may feed well,
With a gleam in my eye, saliva on my lips I counted the ribbons of blue and white,
That mark another point where for someone, time stopped,
And the number was the number of the beast,
Again I counted more,
And again I saw the beast,
In number, in deed and in thought,
And then I looked at the beast himself and saw,
The beast is only a mirror
We, in these same spaces of shadow,
We do love,
Though fear makes preservation a selfish thing,
And contentment bathes us, blinds us,
With such brilliant light
Bring torches – set fires beneath the dark ramparts,
Let us crack the skull of this demon night!
It’s neon blood to spill amongst the tears,
It’s flesh to burn,
It’s heat to finally share,
In it’s downfall,
An end to the cold,
In it’s burning death,
A new dance,
Bless winds that scatter ashes
We dare not speak,
We dare not hear,
We dare not look,
Into the mirror
Recently I’ve posted a number of pieces of prose and several (very) short stories as status updates on my Facebook page. The style and quality is variable but having my mobile phone always to hand presents me with a way of splurting out an idea while it’s fresh in my head, whether I’ve just woken up with a lingering dream-image or I’m sitting on a bus stuck in traffic on the Balls Pond Road. Not that the two are mutually exclusive of course…
What I decided to do with the short stories is see the limits of FB and my phone as a challenge. The site allows up to 420 characters for a status update, and my phone limits the contents of any text field to just 2000, which isn’t much at all. So, I only have a total of 2420 characters – including spaces and punctuation – to work with, the rule being an update and one comment. Here then, for those who missed them the first time round and those who don’t know me on there, is an anthology of such work so far, along with a few simpler passing thoughts, scoured from my profile and rounded off with a tribute top one of early English’s greatest masters. I hope you enjoy the veritable literary cornucopia!
10th Feb 2011
Thrice round, the rain does fall,
Thrice sounding, the crow does call,
Down with the dead men,
Up from the deep,
Eyes bright wide their vigil keep,
A knot for luck, a knot for hope,
A knot for love, and a hangman’s rope.
So turn I East, (oh! rising sun)
So turn I West, (oh! silver moon)
So turn I South, (by this sign)
So turn I North, (by power divine)
By goddess and by god,
By star and by sod,
By blood and by flame,
I stand at the threshold of the Hall Of Light,
To share in the Hearth Of Eternity.
Where there was man, let God now stand.
Where there was man, let God now stand.
26th Jan 2011
London Fields, Bratislava… A game of snake with coloured recycling bins, the chain grows longer the more empty bottles and old newspapers it consumes. Stay busy, out of phase, in love. Transform the familiar, swing on the branches of the tree of life.
Face off in Broadway Market PO between robot ninja warriors and beaming plastic dolls in badly made clothes on one side, and the clean, aloof ranks of bathroom tissue and wire dish scrubbers on the other, the innocent customer caught in the quiet devastation of the no-mans land queue.
25th Jan 2011
An astronomer friend in Surrey has been talking about seeing streaks of light or clouds or something coming from Mars recently, he’s even sent me links to ropey videos, supposedly showing alien structures there – kind of thing lapped up by conspiracy theorists everywhere.
I put it down to too much imagination and not enough sense, or at least I did until last night.
Watching the sky I saw three lurid green well, what I thought were meteors – tear across the sky. Except meteors aren’t usually green, unless it’s something to do with copper content maybe, I dunno. But anyway, when I expected that them fade out as meteors do, they didn’t. Instead they continued on their arrow-straight trajectories, heading – very clearly – to land around London.
I didn’t think much about this beyond wondering where they might have hit, but checking Twitter earlier I realised there was much more to the matter than simple space dust. One seems to have landed in Hyde Park, another – as best as I can figure out – crashed into a council estate somewhere near Wembley, killing sleeping families. The third landed somewhere called Horsell Common, near Woking, where my friend lives. I PM’d him earlier but haven’t heard back yet. He’s probably extrapolating all sorts of data.
There seems to have been similar events in other places too – Paris, Essen, the Med just off Spain, further afield too…
The objects have created huge, smoking craters that are drawing curious crowds.
Twitter has gone crazy, there are a couple of shaky videos on youtube, and right now I’ve got a (pretty dull) live stream on from alt_info.org at Hyde Park. I’ve got a couple of things to do but I might ride down to there later to see if anything interesting happens.
Mind you, on the live stream it looks like the object is opening at one end now. It’s got the crowd pretty excited. Someone just threw something at it – a rock or bit of earth. Cops are moving people back from the edge and it looks like a couple of news helicopters have turned up.
It is quite exciting, feels like something pretty big.
“Take me to your leader” “Umm, you sure?!”
Whatever, I don’t think the world is going to be the same place this time tomorrow:
Ankara UFO Landing – incredable!!! HQ 7mins 12sec
[<VIDEO LINK FAILED>]
23rd Jan 2011
Machine-noise dragged from the dark solitude of sleep, the steady, chattering purr of the drill biting through his hangover like a bastard file pulled across his skull. Downstairs the domestic clatter and thud almost drowns out the voice of the tv, but not quite.
Up for water.
21st Jan 2011
He walked in, his apologetic shuffle and the awkward thoughtfulness on his face like a man made to sell flight socks to young Afghan landmine victims against his will. Removing his dark glasses he blinked as his eyes adjusted to the gloom.
”Sorry about your loss,” he offered, nodding toward the casket, just visible through the slightly open living room door. “Now, lets get this boiler fixed, eh? Can’t have him going cold on us just yet!” A gentle, sympathetic smile passed over his lips. At least, he hoped it conveyed sympathy. After the accident a few years ago smiles had been difficult to get right. That night in the pub when a fellow drinker’s joke had genuinely amused him, and thus made him raise his pint and a grin towards the bloke, only for the bloke to exclaim, “Are you trying to queer me up, ya pooftah?!” before launching a firmly directed fist at his chin…
Yeah, that night had taught him to practice infront of a mirror a little longer.
Out in the kitchen he tinkered with the boiler for a while, and once finished Mrs. Vine made him a cup of tea.
“Look, I know it might not be the perfect time, but maybe you’re thinking of a little break soon – a weekend away from it all somewhere nice?” Maggie Vine looked at him quizically. “Well, you might be, huh? It’s ou unheard of. Clear your head. Prague or Venice…” She had to admit that she’d always fancied Venice and there WAS money in the account still. Her look prompted him further, but it still felt a bit weird.
“Umm… Can I interest you in some flight socks?”
17th Jan 2011
You’ve got this way of being that’s so totally outside of the comprehension of many people that the only way to have them relate to it is to invent religion. The problem is that religion has been around so long that people have forgotten the Truth at it’s core, and have had the time to manipulate it to their own evil ends.
Every part of our life is in our songs. We sing to the sun and the stars, we celebrate new life and partnerships in song, share our joy and sorrow. We sing to the gods, and we sing our dead home. Our song is everything about us, it is our spirit and has been for thousands of years.
Who is this Lady GaGa?
04th Jan 2011
I was always into racing. My grandad had shown me video of something called Formula One back in ’76 – old style racing, with real cars. Seeing them crawl around those racetracks at speeds barely above those which my dad used to travel to work every day was odd, but it gave me an understanding of racing that lead to my first HovKart at the age of eight. Naturally mum panicked at the thought of her boy hurtling round a race track at over 200 miles an hour, but being in and out of jail all the time left her with little say in the matter and her pride was noticeable when I showed her my first trophy through the Plexi-Guard.
Six years, three Karts and eight kills later I was first strapped into an X300 trainer, running at what was then the small, local track of Modesto Heights.
People rarely died in FX300 these days, but it happened, and I think my coach was secretly impressed by my previous experience in that respect. He’d often look wistfully back to the days when the only way to survive more than a couple of seasons in the sport was to not be one of the pilots, but now 300 was the refined side of anti-grav racing – the ships might explode but the hard-shield and Sorba-Foam injection must have saved tens of thousands of intensive care credits and tears alongside the conveyors at recycling. You still have to be good though – going down at over 600 miles an hour hurts like hell, however much protection you’ve got, especially if some joker has just unloaded a pick-up on your tail.
This is my fifth pro season now. I’ve been through the tables, rode-out the Endurance Leagues of Tozo and Coridon 12, got a cabinet full of hardware to show for it, been in all the mediacasts and on all the billboards, and I have an apartment on Hampton Beach, but I’m not getting any younger.
Or any faster. Sure, I break records (four world and six dozen lap times on three planets), but I want faster races. I heard that a Mobeus200 league is starting up in the Gamma Falls – using wormholes to race between timelines at near lightspeed. Now that DOES sound like fun.
My mum, now promoted to head warden, would be terrified.
23rd Dec 2010
Motorway moving freely, landscape huddled under winter’s white shawl, shoulder-hunching trees and steam-nostrilled horse blankets mouthing their way through cover in search of food.
10th Nov 2010
Driven from his bed by hunger, Steve climbs into a pair of shorts, thrusts the curtains open and squints into the sunlight streaming in across the near naked trees of London Fields.
…and puts his heater on for a bit!
CHAPTER 1 – BREAKING THE DAY.
A toasted peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich was soon being eagerly assaulted, while water came to the boil for a mug of coffee. Steve was happy to drink instant, as long as it was good quality, none of that cheap and nasty crap, but he really liked a good fresh coffee. Fairly strong, black, just about two sugars in case you’re wondering.
Outside, across the lawn, the parking lot – currently commandeered by contractors working on the estate’s tower block – and across the small side street, a group of some 15 or 20 people, dressed mostly in black suits, huddled on the pavement in a patch of sunlight. He guessed, quite obviously, that it was a funeral party, probably waiting for the hearse at this time of day.
Steve turned back to the now boiled water and spooned out a good helping of coffee grounds, admiring the freshly cooked gammon his landlord had left on the oven top to settle. “Well, we all go sometime”, he thought, almost matter-of-factly.
CHAPTER 2 – TO MARKET.
Wrapped up against the chill wind coming in from mainland Europe, Steve left his flat and unlocked his bike from the railings outside. A bike which, up until a couple of days earlier, had been deemed a fire hazard by a council jobsworth and was therefore stored illegally, but a phonecall to the council quickly fixed that. It’s not as if there was anywhere else to keep the thing anyway. Gloves, shades and hat, he carried his mount down to the ground floor and out into the cold air. The windchill – according to the weather forecast – took the temperature down to minus one, and it felt like it as he rode across the estate with the wind in his face. Gasping from the shock of it he carried the bike down a few steps and rode out of the driveway that lead up from the underground parking. It was only a short ride to Ridley Road Market, but once he was used to the chill in his lungs he enjoyed the journey in the mid-afternoon sunshine. It made him think about going for a longer ride once he’d dropped off his shopping.
At the market entered the throng – dozens of stalls selling all the usual goods, from clothing to houseware, African gospel cd’s to fruit and veg. He was here for the latter – market value leaves the distinct impression..? …no, understanding that the supermarkets were systematically ripping people off. Negotiating the crowds Steve browsed the stalls. He knew what he was after but was looking for the best deals. The shine and colours of bell peppers, the bright, sea-fresh, sparkle of the wet fish stall, reggae music from the guy selling Rasta-phinalia, dozens of woolly hats hanging from a cross-brace, silver jewelry at “Special Price!”. Everything was here. Ten minutes later he had navigated the street market’s length and come out the other end having spent £3 on enough peppers, spinach, onions and banana’s to feed himself for a couple of weeks. The same money in a supermarket might only get him a couple of onions and three peppers. Here it was a feast.
09th Nov 2010
We are all here, we are all now, we are all one. Hope lies in our realisation that we are all of the same source and all carry the same sacred light, not in trying to prove ourselves against each other. When humanity falls, we all fall, when we stand as one we all stand able to take collective pride in our humanity.
30th Oct 2010
Heavy raindrops buckshot the London air, birthed in brief nimbic tantrum, to pepper my window with their molten silver as the sun fights back from the South.
28th Oct 2010
Leaves cannot fly.
At this time of year, yearning for freedom, they leap from their branches, hoping to catch the wind, only to plummet to their doom, fodder for so many road sweepers and bonfires. Stupid fuckers…
25th Oct 2010
To mark the birth of one J. Chaucer, a day of ryhming couplets:
Bat For Lashes – Fur And Gold,
a book of mystical ways of old,
Gormenghast all in one volume,
and Shakespeare’s The Tempest make the mind bloom!
Such delights and such a day,
Though bastard drivers try to do this cycling man away!
On a seat.
To ride my bike I really like, on such a day as this,
Tho’ London’s monoxide choked streets, aint exactly bliss.
Job search support course? They’re having a laff,
Now it’s omelette, chips and beans inna caf’.
A string of serendipitous – yet altogether innocuous – events lead me to take a wander last night, around the back streets of Shoreditch.
For those of you who don’t know, Shoreditch is the trendy part of town, the place where all the hipsters hang out. It’s full of overpriced bars and clubs, only a couple of which I’d be seen dead in, and it’s home to my least favourite pub venue in the whole world (The Macbeth (links to video – NSFW) on Hoxton street, which I loathe and avoid like the plague unless I’m carrying extra ammo or a band I like is putting on their own night there). For these reasons it’s an area I tend to avoid, other than passing through there on the way somewhere more interesting.
Except it DOES have an interesting side. Like much of Hackney (the borough in which it slouches arrogantly), it’s a haven for street artists. Take a stroll around there and you’ll find plenty of well placed pieces or varying quality, although most of it is rather cool. But the art was only a secondary objective, although it would be hard to avoid anyway.
Back in 1958, French Situationist Guy Debord described an activity whereby one takes a walk around an area of a town or city, not to have a breath of fresh air, or stretch of the legs, not even to ponder on its aesthetic beauty, but essentially to delve into the psyche of the city, to pick away at the layers that have built up over the decades, over the centuries, and most importantly to be lead on a journey, rather than to plan one out. A facet of psychogeography, it’s root activity even, that he called the derive, which simply translates into English as “drift”.
So, after listening to some vaguely esoteric hip hop, reading a few pages of a book from the library (Generation Hex) and catching an innocent remark on Radio 4 about shamanism, I put two and two and two together and decided to head out. Yes, the achingly hip streets of Shoreditch were calling, and it was a Saturday night.
A half hour bike ride saw me outside what used to be The Foundry – an arts and social centre in the heart of the area that’s recently been closed down to make way for a big shiny hotel where rich people can stay, because as we all know, people with money are more important than people with ideas and talent, right..? I locked up my bike and anxiously fingered the offering I’d brought for the spirits. an offering of spirits in fact. I was reluctant to part with the miniature of 18-year-old Glenfiddich which I had been looking forward to tasting, but after some rumination before leaving home, I’d come to understand that as it was all I had to offer, and as I really would rather not give it, it would be a most suitable gift. I crossed over the road and entered the region of the threshold – a point at which the boundary becomes a portal, just by an old drinking fountain outside a pizza restaurant. After lingering for a few minutes I spied my chance to act without getting too many odd looks, and asking the spirits guidance, protection and permission, gave the offering.
With an assurance that I was welcome I stepped out of one world into another, which seemed to be very much the same. I hadn’t expected vast swathes of reality to fall away, revealing an even more real other dimension, but I had expected a bit more than a faint tingle in the back of my head, and that might have just been because down the cold air. Still, I knew the area, I knew what it WAS capable of being. I’d taken that step many times before and felt the adrenalin increase in my bloodstream, felt my senses become more keen, felt as though I really was stepping from one world into another, but not this time. Had I done something wrong?
Afterwards I realised I had – I’d been there on a Saturday night before and felt it to be as dead as it felt now. I think that – quite wisely – the streets are left to the living for the big night of the week. The spirits stay huddled in their corners, maybe scowling and muttering at the drunk, boisterous bar hoppers and club goers. No wonder I sometimes feel an affinity with them!
Still, I walked on, along Paul Street towards my first target – a back street which I knew to be not only a secret little spot for some low-key street art, but that I also knew to be…well, to FEEL different. Maybe there’s something about it that draws people like myself to it, and maybe that same thing draws the likes of Ace, Omega and a number of other anonymous artists to paste and paint on the walls of the buildings that tower above this narrow street’s length. Of course, I notice the art and some of it is very cool, but it’s only a part of the journey. I was hoping for more.
Well, to cut a long story short…
There was nothing out of the ordinary, which for an area where to hear someone call out, “Who’s that handsome boy then?! C’mon sailor!” in camp sincerity (not directed at me) is pretty much par for the course, was quite disappointing. To be fair, I had no direct intent, no will behind my decision to go out, I just thought that there were enough prompts to make the trip worthwhile. In a way it was – I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, didn’t get anything from it, but I hardly felt the keen edge of the night slice into my mind as I had expected, as it had several times before. I knew the spirits were there, they just weren’t coming out. I kept my eyes and mind open, listening – or rather feeling – out for any pull in a certain direction, towards a certain object, maybe something to bring back as a totem, but nothing came. As I sat at the junction of Paul and Leonard Streets, quietly observing with all my senses, the rain became heavier. People passed by on their way to revel in the joy of being successful idiots (but that’s for another time), maybe not even noticing me, the temperature dropped a little more, a guy on a bike rode slowly by, only to come back the other way a few minutes later (probably a drug dealer), but the spirits were quiet. In my search for the real life of the area, all I could see were people who probably didn’t even know they were alive.
So what did I get, aside from wet and cold?
It did feel like a small step along The Path, but as an exercise in paying attention to my surroundings I didn’t really learn any more than I already practice, which is a fair amount anyway. I certainly wasn’t embraced by a world beyond my everyday reality and my journey was rather – as indeed was I – pedestrian. Imagine going to a restaurant you like, ordering the same dish you usually have, getting the same friendly waiter, but the wine you like with that meal is off. You try a different one at the sommelier’s suggestion but it’s not the same. The meal doesn’t come alive in the way it does with the 2006 Pinot Grigio you like, and maybe your waiter has a bad back so is a little slower and a little less amiable than usual, but the food’s good, really (you manage to just about convince yourself), it is good. You don’t really feel hard done by, you don’t feel cheated – you’ve eaten well enough and the bill is pleasing as always, but you can’t help feeling a tiny bit disappointed.
Next time I feel the urge to drift on a Saturday night, I’ll try to have somewhere less “Saturday night” in mind. It’ll do me good to add to my repertoire of psychogeographic perambulations anyway. I know Shoreditch’s neighbour, Clerkenwell is pretty cool at night, and probably less full of ordinary life too. But what ghosts it holds!
Now there’s a blog…
Oh, and for the record I don’t carry ammo or weapons, just a deadly arsenal of ways to run away.