Sunday, 23 March 2014


Dedication


I am not sure why I care and I am not sure why I write. But it’s for me. That’s all I know. Is it selfish to want to understand and think out loud, albeit on paper about life’s conundrums just to sort myself out? Unsure. TBC.

I inquisitively asked, ‘Have you ever felt it where you think something’s amiss or about to change but you’re not sure where or how. Like an internal weather vane has moved in direction?’
He replied, ‘I’ve had it where I set myself up for a change. When I know that I have to prepare myself for a change that’s coming soon, but I’ll usually know what that change is. But I guess that’s not what you're talking about.’
‘No. This is more a premonition. It could just be the change of seasons.’
‘It could be. But what you're talking about is more of a sixth sense sort of thing?’
‘I guess.’

I also know that in our twenties, our youth, it’s sort of difficult. You’ve suffered or are suffering an existential crisis, yes sometimes brought on by a hangover but sometimes brought on by an event. A happening that was out of your control that you didn’t forsee or couldn’t have predicted. That’s when you start to doubt who you are and try to grab hold of markers in your life which act as anchors. We need anchors otherwise we may just float away.

Who you are is what you consume, first of all. The music, the habits, the friendships, the nights you go to, the food you eat (being a vegetarian can be an ethical dilemma for some), what way you vote, who you fuck, what you watch, where you go for your runs, what tube lines you use, what channels you browse, and so on. Everything makes up you, and everything you consume constitutes a choice. You may think there was no decision involved in what tube you took but there has to be somewhere along the line, like when you made those plans that meant you had to take the Central line. A happening is always preceded by a decision, wouldn’t you say?

Unless that happening is brought on by an external force, like an earthquake or a shoot-out, then you’re just caught in the midst of it and your decisions will be based on the way you react not in the way you want things to turn out. So, this is why in points of crisis your actions are infallible. And your actions constitute YOU. That is who you are. That’s when post-reaction the self-doubt begins to creep in and takes over you and makes you question who you are, which leads you to the existential crisis that is so prone to kids of our generation. Maybe it’s because we haven’t got people around us telling us what to do. This authoritarian state of existence is yes restrictive but also calmative. Like if you were set on a god talking on your behalf, because we are just flesh and out there exists an eternal truth and we believe it, then you won’t have to feel the Doubt. That inevitable doubt about whether you did the right thing for the right reasons.

Why do we even care?

Because we’re human and we believe in self-improvement and empathy and we’re clever and our brains function not just in “cause and effect modes” but also in different resolutions for picturing life and we have an imagination and all sorts of things confront us and we make do with what we have and live mortal lives. That’s why we care. It’s alright because in the end that’s who we are.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)


A little house on the edge of the woods up in suburban London. RIMI crashes in through the front door of their shared house belting out "Barbaran" by The Beach Boys. OWEN sits with a white Macbook in a chair by the window eating a plate of hot delicious food; the little monster enters his serene space.

RIMI: OH MY GOD I AM SO HUNGRY I AM GOING TO DIE!

OWEN: Alright.

RIMI forages through cupboard drawers and opens and shuts the fridge door. Flings herself on to the shit-couch. OWEN pays no attention.

RIMI: Do you have a banana?

Beat

RIMI: I asked – Do you have a banana?

OWEN gets up to take a second helping of his delicious food.

OWEN: NO. I don’t have a banana. I had one yesterday but I ate it.

Silence

RIMI: Oh god.

OWEN: Sorry. Why don’t you go to the shop?

RIMI: I know I will. It’s just enough of a feat getting home.

OWEN: Maybe you should have done your shop before you got on the train.

RIMI: Yeah maybe. Jesus.

OWEN gets up to go and wash his plate.

OWEN: (Said through the kitchen door) I’m only making minor adjustments to your… hapless life. I’m trying to improve it. Raise you out of first world problems.

RIMI: Sorry all I can hear is broken mumbles of crap advice.

OWEN re-enters and hurriedly leaves the room.

RIMI slowly peels herself off the shit-couch and goes to get a bowl. She fills the bowl with branflakes and soya milk. Returns to the shit-couch and begins to munch it down with a soup spoon.

OWEN hurriedly re-enters the room with a bass in one hand and some loose sheets of paper in the other. He is in a rush.

RIMI: Where are you going?

OWEN: Bloody Russians.

RIMI: Oh.

OWEN: You found some food.

RIMI: Cereal’s all I got.

OWEN: Such a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Beat

RIMI: Hunger is an eternal problem. We’ll never beat it.

OWEN is on the floor looking for his shoes, which are under RIMI’s chair. He reaches under her chair and she lifts her legs up but not enough to help him.

OWEN: Excuse.

RIMI: Why are all the cups and plates chipped?

OWEN: I don’t know. Probably because we keep dropping them. What I want to know is where are all the spoons?

RIMI:  I know. Where are all the spoons!?

OWEN puts on his jacket and stuffs one pocket full with the loose sheets of paper he was holding. Tying his shoelaces.

OWEN: One of these days I’m going to be on time for something.

RIMI: Do you think?

OWEN: I hope.

OWEN exits through the front door. Re-enters as he has forgotten his bass. Re-exits. RIMI remains on the shit-couch munching cereal for eternity. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Self-Attainment

Sheets feel like summer and slats filter in sun.

She left with the breeze on a double-decker bus, its red shininess reminding him of a toy car.

How many Spanish people had there been in the crowd in the park in east London. He couldn’t tell if that scared him or if he disapproved because his dad wouldn’t have liked it, although he couldn’t tell if he liked it himself. Did he like it? The poshness of some of her friends made him feel self-conscious, did he need elocution lessons of some sort? But they seemed friendly enough. If the weekend could tell him anything it was that he had become something non-apparent, not wholly expected even of himself. When he left for London he had gone with good intentions and unrealistic expectations that he could simply carry on being the man that he was: proud, vigorous, cock-sure. He forgot we all get old. She knew about it. 

How the hell did she know about mortality when she was only a child?

What had she said again? A quote from a book that had stuck with him but not word for word.
'Seriousness is when people think they’re time is important. But as we grow older and you see it especially in the really old, time loses its meaning. You think about your grandchildren and the objects you’ve left behind, so life is memories. And when you look at life like that, like backwards, then you’ll care less about how you should behave now and do more of the things that’ll make a lasting impression. Like the things you really want to do. All I’m saying is, people should take life less seriously because it’s over in a blip. I need a coffee.’

Then they got coffee. Then they kiss. Then they parted.

(He wasn't sure if he liked her.)


Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Work-A-Day Self Assessment Handbook

This is going to be a long haul. On the calendar it looks like this right now. A long stretch of numbers and four crosses. Four fucking crosses.

X   X   X   X 

There’s at least twenty more smiling open friendly dates out there. 

HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA
HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA   HA

You mustn’t grumble you musn’t grumble - how else are you going to get your daily food rations?
But it’s so boring it doesn’t make any sense!
It is only boring if you make it so Padawan.

Maybe even he has a point. (The classic tragic pissed-himself-again war veteran, lost hat, hanging by a bin in Hyde Park.)

Every day’s a school day and today and everyday I walk past guns to work. Guns. That’s because it’s mini-America and they have a gigantic swooping-down eagle made of gold stuck on their Embassy rooftop. Someone should really bring up hubris in the White House. When you see the gunmen first time round you’re miffed. I’m miffed. I feel like pulling out my own gun and casually hanging it down by my side then nodding a friendly hello at my brothers. They’re coppers though with guns, not some am-dram American colonel, which would make for comic effect. No. Brits in their stab-vests and chequered caps look sort of foreboding.

‘Morning mister Magpie.’ I say to myself as I give the guards a nod.
They smile but incrementally tighten their grip on the trigger guard.
I wonder if I ran at them if they would shoot me?

Sure the office is pretty nice. I get a room to myself and it’s in a listed building and an ex-prime minister lived there and some original 17th century features remain on the walls. It’ll do. The kitchen smells of death and Janet the most miserable ward-nurse if ever I met one tells me to ignore the elevator. Thats fine. Why is she so miserable? Is it because she’s wearing a see-through top and is clearly overweight with teeth that look like chalk sticks?

In the brief the director-chief-in-general pops in to the room, he stomps and glides at the same time with delusions of grandeur and a double-breasted blazer; I told him it was nice and that I liked the buttons, they were shiny you see, and he told me his wife re-sewed them on for him because he had got too fat and couldn’t do up the jacket. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh but I did, and so did he, and from then on we got on. Been at the company for over thirty years, he doesn’t have a clue where it’s all gone but he did say to me arms outstretched in effect waving like weary jazz-hands,

‘Only tw-o more years to go until retire-ment.’ Forgot to mention his voice is rather sing-song. I’m sure at diplomatic dinners when he tells a joke some guests would misjudge him to be bellicose, which is also why I like the fella.
‘Oh really?’ Nauseating feigned excitement, don’t over do it. You’ll give it away you’re lying or trying or whatever, ‘What are you going to do, I mean do you have any retirement plans?’
‘Plans hm.’ Gives it a ponder, he sort of reminds me of Winnie the Pooh, ‘probably sit in my back garden and drink beer. Cheerio.’
And off he pops.

*

Director-chief-in-general: Are you alright for photocopy paper Thomas?

Clerk/Thomas: We may need a few more.

Director-chief-in-general: Few more of what?

Clerk/Thomas: Photocopy paper you did just ask.

Director-chief-in-general: Is that sheets or reams or what are we talking about here?

Clerk/Thomas: Never mind. I’ll get the paper when I need it.


I call him the clerk because that’s the power relationship I see there. I actually know he has a proper job title but so do the rest of them and I’m not giving them the credit they deserve. My office and Thomas’ is partitioned by a soft-foam screen with outdated posters of conventions stuck on them. Can’t help but remember Murray’s office in Flight of the Conchords. 


Clerk/Thomas: Do you drink coffee?

Me: Yes.

Clerk/Thomas: We really need to get a coffee machine.


There are lists of companies that trade. They buy and sell things and to perform these economic exchanges the companies attend trade fairs where they meet buyers and sellers and do their thing. I call them one by one and try and convince them to go, otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a show. The names of companies I like most are the really obvious ones, in what they trade that is. Like, Coloured Rocks which deals in coloured rocks; or Cornish Cakeboards; or Fantasia Ceiling Fans with the catchy motto ‘The greener way to move air’. Yes no way to put the function of a fan simpler than that. Moves air.


Clerk/Thomas: We’ve got another chap to look at the carpet. There’ll be two of them wandering around - you won’t mind will you?

Me: No.

Clerk/Thomas: If you do you’re welcome to take the cordless phone on to the stairs. I’ll let you know via a sign if a group are coming in for a meeting. Though I highly doubt it.

*

Lunch breaks are my time. Office work is their time. You have to split it like that to keep sane. If you watch people when they are having their lunch breaks you get all sorts of examples of how people want to spend their time. The best is in a contained area like a park or a square, where there are benches placed orderly around a perimeter (often demarcated by a path). If there’s a monument like a big fat flagrant statue of President Roosevelt and some fountains then even better, people will gather there in good weather. Most of the time unfortunately for me, people use their lunch breaks in the most obvious of ways - they just continue what they were doing before but with the addition of food. People talk on the phone, look at their phone, read the paper, talk to a colleague, go for a light stroll, go look at some shops. But what gets me is that there’s no sense of freedom in these lunch breaks. Everyone is still in work mode. I just remember at school when the lunch bell would ring and you could you have your break it was a joyous moment. Kids would flood out to go kick a ball, throw some dirt, swing on a branch, catch a glimpse of something not in books. Play was a lot more part of our lives. I think we needed it. But either that need for play gets shed as we get older and we do it in other ways which usually involves alcohol on the weekends, or we’re constantly kidding ourselves that we don’t need it anymore. 

Whatever, I still need it. 

So I’ve devised a set of activities you can do on your lunch break which are acts of quiet rebellion against the status quo. Not enough to get you in trouble with the law (or shot by a gunman) but at least little acts of play that let you imagine you’re in a game or having fun with the boring reality of it all:

#1
Find a McDonalds and get a banana milkshake.

Milkshakes from McDonalds, especially the sickly yellow ones that taste like bananas grown in nuclear reactors is probably the most unnatural thing you can drink. But I trust in the mistrust of McDonalds so I actually know that these milkshakes can’t really harm me otherwise the Food Standards Agency would withdraw them, or sanction them, limiting adult consumption of McDonald banana milkshakes to one per week and one per month for the over 65s. They taste shit and awesome at the same time and if you wander around sucking at a McDonalds straw it goes against expectations of an upper-pay-bracket luncheon area.

#2
High five a traffic warden. 

Tell him really loudly he’s doing a great job! Do it in earnest so that you can try and make out the confusion in his/her/other people’s faces.

#3
Wolf-whistle some pretty tweed intelligentsia boys.

There are so many tottering around with briefcases, scuffed patent leather shoes, glasses and unkempt hair. They all look like the new younger on-trend M in James Bond. Wolf-whistle one and see what they do.

#4
Go for a run in your office/work clothes.

All the people who jog during lunch break look like superheroes in hi-vis lycra and sometimes even goggles (goggles for running in!) It would in fact be as subversive to go jogging in shorts, plimsoles and a baggy T. But yeah, just leave the office when you clock out for lunch and just start jogging. People will think you’re simply in a rush but be happy in the knowledge that no one else gets it.

#5
Wait at a zebra-crossing and keep letting cars have right of way.

It’s unexpected and a fun way to pass the time. If a car driver actually beckons or even tells you to cross, just answer politely back ‘I’m not waiting to cross the road’. 

#6
Bring a ball or a racket and shuttle-cock to play with.

Playing catch by yourself is actually quite a lot of fun. You can also bounce the ball off things so there’s some skill required in that. It might even lead to you conversing with a stranger who is also off for their lunch break and then you can play catch together. Hurrah. And the same goes with the racket and the shuttlecock. 


Enjoy your lunch breaks! They can be fun!



Monday, 10 March 2014

Two Dogs


Tracks


Have you had it where you wake up like SNAP and it’s burning sunshine outside experienced from a curtain-less room, big solid window panes and you’re lying on a foreign floor.

Sunday.
Still a work day.

Get up to grovel to your brain “please don’t make this hangover worse than it has to be.” Take a slug of water from an empty cup, any empty mug will do. Put on your coat and check the pockets, pick up the book that you’ll be borrowing from the Writer and then leave through his front door. The latch makes a satisfying soft click when released and you turn to see one slice of another room where he sleeps, unconscious on a mattress, and you mouth a “thanks”.

Baking sun outside.
Still Winter. 

An epiphany strikes at the Underground station where you’ll be waiting for a tube. But it’s a bit early to release it into speech and sometimes you think, maybe if I say it out loud then that thing will be true, so for the time being one would rather not admit defeat by speaking a soft-boiled truth.

The sun makes it better. The sun makes everything better. From the colours to the forms to the petals on her dress, as she glides and steps from street corner to clock tower. The bells ring for an aeon in Mayfair on a Sunday. And once that’s all over and out of the way you wave good bye to the zoo of the rich and the cages of bags, re-enter the Underground realm where time elapses based on next trains and board one.

A cheese twist and a mug of hot tea. Already inside a recording studio and the tracks are wheeling on their spokes, one cigarette, one last look out on to better weather. Sick Day is a name of a song. What’s the EP for? To hang on a wall and never be heard. Rad.

The journey to moments of motherly nature blow you. Never mind. You feel a bit like - you know how the direction of the wind changes the course of a sail? “Off course”, of course, well the tracks and the trains do the same to me too. That’s life isn’t it? Some will sail heading straight for a known island, a destination, whilst others are happy to be floating, fuck the destination let’s just stay un-submerged.

*

It goes like this:

You know when you look up at a London Underground sign, and you’re waiting for a tube to come. It’ll say next one in 2 mins or 4 mins or 9 mins and if you’re not in a rush you can sort of see them as not too much of a wait. Not too far apart the next tube or the one after the next tube. You know. But if you live your life like that, holding off doing something important because you think if I miss this one there’ll soon be another one coming. Then what do you do when its the last train?

All those “next tubes” were giving you a way out. A way to “get on”. A way to make a move, to go somewhere you needed to be even if you didn’t think it urgent. (There’s something in noting the passage of time.) 

Don’t keep missing the train is all I’m saying.

*

And I go:

I am trapped inside the cocoon of this unmarked wanting.



Monday, 3 March 2014

Down in the Dumps



Dumpee: I could go in to a big fat shouting match right now.

Dumper: Why don’t you?

Dumpee: Because I want to be the better person.

Dumper: You think I’m a dick.

Dumpee: Yes I think you're a massive dick.

Dumper: That’s just not fair.

Dumpee: Life’s unfair. I think you're smart but actually you can't be because if you were you would totally see that you are being a massive prick right now.

Dumper: I just want to hang out with you.

Dumpee: Why the fuck would you want to hang out with me?

Dumper: Because I like you.

Dumpee: After you dumped me?

Dumper: I didn’t dump you I broke it off before we were going out.

Dumpee: Same fucking thing.

Intake of breath

Start of inner monologue: Why do I feel like I am talking to a fish or something that’s not really supposed to be here. The truth of the matter is I am publicly willing to humiliate myself by saying this out in the open: I got dumped. That’s when the person you like tells you they don’t feel the same way about you and therefore it’s over. And no one feels good after they’ve been dumped, right? Of course not. So why would the dumpers want to hang out with the dumpees post-break-up? I think I’ve distilled the reasons down to two:

1.     They want to feel better about themselves.
2.     They want to end up in bed with you again.

Dumper: I just want us to be friends.

Dumpee: Don’t give me that bullshit of course I can’t just “be your friend”. Why would you want to be my friend?

Dumper: Because I think you're interesting and I don't want to lose you completely from my life.

Inner monologue: You know what the best form is to not lose someone from your life. I would say it’s to not sleep with them and then reject them. Because that’s unkind. And one day I will stop caring about this blip of a relationship because in the end life is pretty long and you’ll see/do/think a thousand things between now and your next shower but right now, right at this moment, I want to set fire to a sofa or smash a glass or something so you’ll stop talking to me. I know I’m just silently sitting here whilst you announce all of these idealistic wants:

Dumper: We could just hang out once a month.

And I can’t help it that my chest hurts and my eyes water. Because people feel break-ups in different ways and being someone who has an inner monologue as opposed to an outer one, there are so many things you want to say but can't and never will. Not even on paper, not even here. It’s stupid. It’s pointless. It’s a lost cause.

Dumper: I’m going to leave now.

Dumpee: OK.

Dumper: Bye.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Paradigm Slide


Good morning Mister Magpie. Good morrow little Moon.

I’ll be off on a boat to sleep. 

To see the world in a thousand turns in one not so huge a leap.

One brain twain two worlds

Oceans divide

It’s not too queer a thought this mechanical ride.

Language leaps but synapses sleep

and nothing can be formulated in to sentences of deep.

But what one means is so obvious 

but what one tells is not so obvious.

The barrier can be a thin sheet

Parting two realms

And when it snows it shines

Thus the conflation melts.