Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Hay, Burning Tyres and me.

Well hello.....

Hm! It has been one of those days.

You know – you don’t sleep too well, you wake up early and it isn’t even Christmas.

Not even your birthday.

You feed the cats; you set off to work in the dark.

And it’s raining.

You get half way along the motorway- you know, that section where there are no exits for miles and miles, and the traffic comes to a halt.

You wait.

Nothing happens.

A half hour goes past.

Forty minutes.

You ring the office and tell them you won’t be there in time for the meeting; it’s better to cancel.

You move forward the width of a bumper, and another half hour goes past.

You see a pile of earth blocking the exit and a phalanx of cop cars.

Then black smoke.

Then a sign telling you, that even if you were moving, the motorway is closed.

One of those days.


Angry farmers.

A blockade.

They must have got up really early.

Piles of hay that they have set light to.

Smoke, flames, burning tyres, people walking along an empty motorway under umbrellas and a line of red tail lights from a thousand cars snaking across the hillsides, interrupted only by the impotent flashing blue lights of the police.

The only person happy is the journalist who – covered by plastic – is filming.

She must have some great shots.

My pissed-off face for one.

  formerly published in The Archives.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

The Black Pool.


It was Blackpool.

It wasn’t.

It could have been, might have been; appeared as such.

The tide was on its way out but I still got my feet wet; I followed someone else jumping over the pebbles.

There were houses where the sand would have been, or the carnival side shows. The folk living there were young, tattooed, muscled and cared to show it.

The dominant colours - pink and white.

The caf├ęs were still shut; it was early morning.

Two men in grey suits stood on a corner, talking; I knew them, they were magicians.

But they were intruders.

The sea was stronger and had always been there.

It will remain once they are gone.

  formerly published in The Archives.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Three Cheers?

.... about.

This is a tale of two seats; the first on a plane – row 19, letter c , the second on a train – wagon 23, seat 98. In both cases there is a story about an unhappy man.

Let’s start with the train, as that is where I am now, and the unhappy man in front of me who is dressed in a grey black suit, salmon pink shirt, mauve tie and horrendous pointed shoes that would make me try to annoy him, even if I hadn’t already.

My first mistake – apparently – was sitting down opposite him; we had both reserved aisle seats at a table but he clearly wanted all of it for himself. I might go as far as to say that this is typical of anyone who thinks that shoes like his add value to their feet, but I suspect it’s more to do with his obnoxious air that permeates from his skin and his ridiculous half spectacles.

I slipped my computer onto the edge of the table accessing as I did so about one third of my half so as not to upset the pristine folds of his magazine that was taking up the other two thirds. 

Then, I took out my sandwich.

That really got his goat.

He would like to be in First Class where the riff-raff like myself should not be, but he isn’t- so I treated him to me munching into a Red Chicken Masala Baguette that I had found at the platform coffee shop just before alighting.

There was something about the way mayonnaise – or something akin – seeped out as I bit into it that particularly troubled him.

I am hoping that he will leave the train at the next stop – Koln – so that I can stretch my legs into the space his stupid shoes vacate.

The plane was simpler.

I had booked the aisle seat, the guy who was sitting in it hadn’t.

In fact neither of us had booked anything, we had both left the software to itself to randomly assign our seats; we could have paid a bit more to select a seat and judging by the way he was sprawled in mine as opposed to restricted in his (the centre seat of three) suggested that even though he hadn’t, he still believed he had a divine right to take mine.

His arrogance and assumption leaked from his eyes to such an extent that I didn’t even bother with words – I just pointed and directed ownership rights his way, forcing him to struggle into a seat that was clearly designed for someone smaller than him. He took his revenge by monopolising the armrest the whole flight.

I tried to annoy him by opening the air vent; illuminating the book I was reading and finally opening my bottle of fizzy water after I had shaken it.

I don’t know what it is – I am attracting these unpleasant slobs to me today probably because I’m having such a great time; I’m travelling, moving towards my lover and getting ready to celebrate my birthday.

At this point I have to tell you a bit more about the reptile in the salmon pink shirt.

It starts with the woman in seat 94 –across the corridor from myself. She sat down the same time as myself but instead of opening a noisy sandwich she took out her computer, wired up and started typing away feverishly.  

At one point her computer emitted a groan and the salmon pink insect opposite me turned his withering attitude onto her and away from my bread.

But then guess what?

His phone rang! 

Had he set it to silent mode as I had?

Did he speak in whispers?

Or did he let us all know that there is someone out there who likes him enough to phone him?

No, no and yes.

And then it rang again!

And again!

That’s when I snorted.

Anyway, good news; he’s leaving.

He’s folded up his magazine, unplugged his phone and reached for his trilby that was on the luggage rack dangerously close to being crushed by my bag.

His coat makes him look like a Gestapo monk and I think he is probably going home for a cold bath.

And to think I politely said ‘good evening’ to him as I sat down.

Good riddance.

So what else?

The wired in woman on my left has THE most amazing pigtail! And the woman across and a little down – in seat 81 – has THE most amazing eyebrows!

The pigtail reaches down the back of the first further than I can see without straining and it probably has nothing to do with it but her ability to type with all her fingers is making me jealous.

The woman with the amazing eyebrows looks like she might have stepped off of a Polynesian Island seconds before stepping onto this train. Her skin is the colour of a coconut advert and her hair has been stencilled; her eyebrows are simple sculptures in comparison. She is dressed all in black – boots, tights, skirt, top, skin, hair, and so the white cables of her I-Phone that dangle from her ears look even whiter.

Two seats behind her – 71?- there is another guy with pointed shoes, but he I forgive.

He is tall; taller than anyone in this wagon he has a hipster beard and a hair style that has to be described as bushy, but bushy with a tendency to escape the beard; that is to say the beard and the haircut are pulling in opposite directions leaving his eyes to look surprised, something the simple brown framed glasses amplify.

He too has a dangle of white cables connected to his ears but as he is wearing white shirt and vest, they are not clearly visible.

Talking of ears though, I have to tell you about Marco.

Marco was the thinly undernourished air host that showed me to my seat on the plane earlier, and then enacted the safety equipment demonstration.

His ears possibly doubled as wing flaps for the plane that he was carefully explaining would be unlikely to crash in the near future.

If it did, I for one would reach for those ears and hang on tight.

Marco had a hard job.

He was there to make sure that anyone sitting in the seats next to the emergency exits was able and agile to act on the other passenger’s behalf in the case of emergency.

That of course eliminated Mr Selfish who was sitting next to me, and myself, as I wasn’t going to give up this seat to him in the interest of community.

On the plane, a young man was travelling with his wife, young child and two aging grandparents and since random seat assignment had been unable to cope with such a demand he was busy before take-off, firstly moving his daughter alongside him next to the emergency door - Marco would have none of it - and then swapping his wife in the aisle with his child.

In fact Marco wanted no children in any of the six seats so they got sent back to their original chairs, which meant the guy who had swapped with the woman three rows back had also to return. This in turn necessitated the young lady, who had taken advantage of that to sit next to her boyfriend who had only bought the ticket at the last moment, returning to the front of the aircraft.

Marco, once that had all been arranged, then saw the elderly grandparents sit down next to the young man by the emergency exit.

If there was one thing Marco wanted less than the emergency evacuation to be in the hands of infants, it was for them to be in the hands of pensioners who looked unable to lift their baggage let alone push open the side of an aeroplane.

But at this point Marco was distracted by the start of the pre-recorded safety instruction announcement.

So he left it up to his ears to signal his displeasure. 

  formerly published in The Archives.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

It Should have been, and feels like it was, yesterday.

Anyone for....?

It was the middle of January and the city had still not taken down the Christmas decorations; silver and gold lights shone brightly through the deep winter gloom between the shopping centre and the take-away.

Jack was distracted by their cheer and so turned his head to look; he didn’t see the truck pulling out of the side turning between the dry cleaners and the bank.

Most of the people in the queue at the bus stop heard the crash; Jack didn’t. The last thing he remembered was the imagined sound of Angels singing Whilst Shepherd Watched.

Fear not said he.

For mighty dread……

He was in the hospital for four weeks, most of the time falling unexpectedly into deep sleep that he was unable to prevent. 

There was a nurse on the word, Maria, a little older than Jack and she took a shine to him. Her work in the hospital was part time, most evenings she worked as a barmaid in a pub on the high street. She was used to men noticing her so she was surprised that Jack didn’t. If she saw that he was asleep when she came along the ward she would go to his bedside, lean close and gentle blow on his closed eyes.

Then he did.

Not only did he notice her but he started to force himself to stay awake so he would see more of her, which was strange because the thing that excited him most about her was her leaning close and breathing on his face.

And she never did if he was awake, she just smiled and carried on along the ward.

He tried faking it, pretending to be asleep when he heard her steps along the corridor, but she seemed to know.

She valued honesty.

One day Maria did not come.

Jack waited all afternoon before finally falling asleep, but when he woke at the end of the afternoon shift it was clear she had not passed.

He asked the Sister where she was when the evening tea was served.

“She’s moved away”, she informed him. “Got divorced and took off.”

It was time for Jack to get better and leave the hospital.

So he did.

  formerly published in The Archives.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

On the Road Again.

A bit......

Man running for bus.
Zebra crossing.
People crossing.
Christmas lights.
Traffic light.
French chanson.
Double bass.
Pile of boxes.
Man talking to driver.
Red light.
Way home.
Bike light.
Green light.
Dog walker.
Three bikes.
Jehovah Witness, waiting.
Car parking.
Empty Bed blues.
Red light.
Must be cold?
Christmas lights.
Green light.
Slow crossers.

 formerly published in The Archives.

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