Monday, 23 August 2010

Mouth of madness.

ome December 22nd, 9:30pm on the clock, I'd not long rolled in from a late shift at the store, heaving ques of impatient last minute Christmas shoppers and screaming brats wearing me out.

I was lounged on the couch, idly flicking through channels, on the verge of dozing off when there was an urgent knock at the door, with a strange sound of muffled whining and scratching from the other side.

I groaned as I rose up, aching all over.

I raced to formulate a good excuse as I reached for the door handle.

Listen Col...Just gonna get a shower and crash mate, really done in....Can I pass you those videos tommorow? Got an early shift, see...

Poor effort that. Don't you memorise anything I tell you?

Nah evidently not....Too tired...

If it had been Col, I just wasn't physically or mentally up to having him as a guest. He would invariably act out some really shitty straight-to-video action thriller on me, demonstrating karate blows, headlocks, stabbings, shootings and throttlings, always in a childishly fun nature, but leaving you knackered, feeling almost as if you had appeared in said B-movie feature yourself.

I wearily pulled the door open, seeing Dave standing before me in the gloom of the corridor, a ciggy hanging from his bottom lip and a carrier bag wrapped up beneath his left arm.

"Allite, lid? Got somethin' for yer here" He smirked.

Before I could respond, a large brown/white shape shot out from behind him and leapt at my waist, pushing me back against the wall. Two sets of blunt claws dug into the tops of my legs and a long thin snout burrowed roughly into my stomach. I panicked and instinctively pushed the animal away with open palms, but it instantly lurched forward again, saliva spraying everywhere, a low whine and nasty-looking teeth flashing menacingly up at me.

"Whoa...WHOA! SHIT!! Gerrit off! Gerrit OFF ME!" I shouted, desperately backing away as it reached for me again.

Dave sighed, and stepped forwards, smoothly gripping the animal by the scruff of what I guessed to be its neck and calmly pulling it away from me, its front legs raised in the air in protest, back legs struggling to maintain balance.

"S'alright, Snoop, S'alright lad.....C'mere, Snoop, C'Mere....." he whispered to it softly, and I peelled myself off the wall, brushing gooey dog saliva off my legs as I caught my breath.

"Christ, when d'yer get THAT?! Vicious beast, that...." I panted, pulling myself up straight.

With a simple tap on its nose, Dave brought the animal to strict attention and it instantly sat there between us, its mouth agape, tongue lolling, eyes still zeroing me with a fearsome intensity.

"Sorry, lid. He's not an angry dog, just loves meetin' new faces and investigatin' fresh smells. Not mine likes, just Rob's mutt, ya know Rob? Black dude with the Marley locks, lives further out in Kenny? Sells a draw. But been havin' issues with other tenants in his block, racial bollocks like. This pet is so soft, would never attack any intruder...More like let them rob his gaffe blind and let them stroke him...He's harmless..."

It was weird. Despite the brief moment of madness seconds previously, when I was flapping and screaming like the token early female death in a 80's slasher film, he had a disarmingly calming tone to him. I mean he looked powerful, useful in a fight. But he had people skills, he knew how to adapt to any situation and come out of it positive.

"Right....just a bit wild, innee? I mean...only really like small dogs, me....Soz, Da. Wanna brew?"

"Yeah, sound, lid...."

We sat in the living room. I composed myself, headed to the kitchen and knocked out two battered mugs of the drink that formed the British Empire.

"So.... Whatcha got for me there in that plassy bag then?" I asked Dave as I tentatively returned from the kitchen, always eyeing the alert mutt at the centre of my living room that silently beaded me with dark brown eyes, following every slow step I took towards the comfort of my TV-viewing armchair.

"Jus' a sec lid, show yer now" he grimaced in reply as he fished something from the battered Tesco bag...

Friday, 2 July 2010

Scarred hands of an artist.

It took maybe 3 days to dig out a suitable snap of the parents. A laborious rummage through forgotten, overloaded drawers and dusty neglected card-board boxes that had never been unpacked since moving into the cubes. Used AA batteries, long-past birthday cards and various keyrings, pencils and other assorted shite I tended to hoard like a forgetful magpie. I eventually came across what I was after.

A nice relaxed shot of the two of them on the living room couch, radiating affection and family vibes. Ironically taken by an ex-bird, whose photos of ourselves had long been banished to a bin-bag.

Sometimes, you gotta put sentimentality to the back of your skull and clear the mental slate...

Such is the case here, I know .....yet some things are worth hanging onto.

I headed downstairs to the ground hall, clutching the beat-up photo in my right hand as I tapped lightly on the door of flat 1.

There was no immediate response, yet I could hear muted rock n' roll from behind the door and sounds of slovenly movement. I hesitated for a few awkward seconds, then rapped the door again with my knuckles, slightly louder this time.

There was a harsh, hacking cough, obviously from a heavy smoker. Weary, languid footsteps approached the other side of the door and I subconsciously stepped back slightly as keys were roughly twisted in the lock. The handle swung down aggressively and the door opened inward creakily, just by a few inches.

A stern looking left eye with an arched eyebrow raised above it appeared in the slot, too gloomy and indistinct to see properly in the poor light of the corridor. I could now clearly make out Led Zeppelin as the background music..Over the hills and far away...

"Yeah...? Whatcha after?" asked a gruff, throaty voice from an unseen mouth, more of a command than a question.

A nervous energy overtook me. The kind that you only get when you tell a lie or chat a bird up or go on a job interview. You know, when your mouth become independent of your brain and does it's magic...or conversely, does some serious damage you found you couldn't dig yourself out of...

Go with it, pussy. Thought you were a social creature at heart? Wake up, won't you?

"Erm....Sorry to disturb you...Dave..It IS Dave, right? Just...I live in the flat upstairs...number 10, like....Been here coupla months...I'm kinda mates with Col...You know, Col?"

The eye flickered about, it's pupil sharpening for a split second, then noticeably expanding at the mention of Col's name.

"Col, eh? Go 'ead, lad..." The voice said, softening slightly.

"Oh, yeah...Col...Nice lad...kinda loose and that in the head...but wonderful fella" I stammered.

"HAHAHA HAAA-AAA! Ya got that right, lid....Eee's certainly a character...He give you his DVD's from Cash Convertors yet?" The eye said, warming to the conversation with a squint and a smile around it's lids.

"DVD'S? Oh yeah...right.....Yeah...He gave me like, 20 of 'em...ain't watched any yet...saw most of 'em before...Pretty poor selection...Van Damme, Seagal..Channel 5 shit, all the way, really.... but didn't wanna say so...woulda probably...Hurt his feelings...Knowhadamsayin?"

"Been there....Always tries to off-load 'em on me, too.....But as yer say, cracking lad, is our Col. No bad in him.....Good skin. Proper Scouser...Anyone who picks up on that is alright by me, kidda..."

The door swung fully open.

The Robert Johnson / 60's British invasion blues of Page, Plant and co. grew to full volume, and I finally saw Dave in the full flesh.

"C'mon in, kid. What's yer name?"

He was tall - probably about 6'2". A wiry frame with a thin torso covered by a grubby paint-specked Nike vest, framed with powerful, veiny arms. Sinewy legs in his 3/4 length Adidas shorts. Battered slippers. Yet he looked athletic, agile. Going by his general appearance, he looked maybe 40ish. His forehead was furrowed, it had seen a lot of fights. Tiny white scars around the bridge of his crooked nose, that looked like someone had slammed it out of place on a drunken night decades earlier. Yet his smile was amiable, chilled out. And he was open, friendly.

"Sure...It's Fred...Me name, that is.....Thanks, Dave..." I mumbled as I stepped into his cube.

There was a tiny cramped hall dominated by hanging jackets on the back of the front door that you had to brush your way past, two steps through them to the right and you were in the front room. Two battered leather couches placed either side on the dull red carpet, a strangely elegant and fragile-looking glass coffee table between them, covered with tobacco, remote controls, pens and pencils of various colours and scraps of paper. There was a makeshift desk fashioned from an old door seemingly ripped from an ancient Oak wardrobe that ran across the far length of the room beneath the window, a tiny portable TV at the left side of it running a muted episode of The World At War. The bulk of the desk was taken up by a huge array of artist materials - A home-made lightbox, sheets of A4 paper, old coffee jars stuffed with charcoals, brushes and colouring pencils. The only light in the room other than the TV, came from a carefully placed fluorescent tube that sat above the desk, a large white professional draughtsman's sketch board sitting directly beneath it.

"Siddown, lid. Fancy a brew? Just gonna make one..?" Dave chirped, a rolled smoke hanging from his grinning lips.

"Tea would be smart. No sugar please, Dave.."

He nodded and bent down to scoop up two cups at the foot of his desk, and shuffled off into his kitchen to the left.

"Been here a few weeks, now, yeah? Seen yer about the block....Whatcha make of it?" he shouted over the sound of the taps running as he roughly clattered the cups about in the sink.

"Yeah....Moved up from the other end of Wavertree...Much better flat than my last one....Still gettin' organised like, but its decent enough.." I replied, peering around the living room walls in the poor light.

"It's not that bad in 'ere..most of the time...just can get a bit wild of a weekend...I'm sure you'll suss that out for yerself though..." He shouted back, the sound of a kettle starting up gradually growing louder, fighting to be heard over Plant's screams coming from the tiny CD player that I guessed was in the back bedroom.

I had a sudden double take, then looked again. Closer to the ceilings, running the full perimeter of every wall were what looked like large photographs, mainly black and white, some colour ones dotted amongst them. I stood up and stepped towards ,the wall to my right, kneeling up on the couch as I examined them closer.

I reached up and touched one of them, the features clearer now. It was a head shot of Al Pacino, Scent of A Woman era. But then it wasn't a photo...the texture was coarse... it felt like paper, not a glossy print. There was a tiny "DA" scrawled in the bottom left corner.

"Took me about two days, that one....wasn't too happy with the end result, likes.."

I slid back away from the wall, turning to see Dave standing behind me nodding up to the portrait, two cups in his hands.

"Oh...sorry... Didn't mean to mess with it...just that it's great...Thought it was a photo at first...." I replied awkwardly.

"Nah...I've done better..Far better when I've concentrated..Tea?" he offered me a mug.

"Oh cheers..Thanks...That's...somethin' else, that man...wish I could draw like that....You did that in what, just two days? That's far out.....Really, amazing stuff.."

I took the warm mug from him and sat back down, gesturing towards the four walls.

"You do this for a living, Dave? I mean...Looks really professional work..."

He sat at his desk, his side to me, placing his mug down and picking up a HB pencil.

"Nah...more of a past-time really. Always felt I never had the ability to draw, and felt I should try an' conquer something I thought I was always incapable of...Took me 'till I was 35 to realise that....After me marriage broke down, 'an I moved in here 4 years ago I had a lot of spare time on me hands..." He shrugged casually.

I didn't want to press him about it further.

Some old wounds there, for sure.....

"So...You do ones, I mean?" I mumbled as I tentatively offered him the photo of my folks.

He took it from me and examined it closely for a moment, holding it to the tube light and screwing his face up at it.

"Hmmm...It ain't a bad photo...Could do with it bein' a lil' bigger, maybe..."

"Oh, right...I got plenty more, just can't find 'em at the moment..." I said somewhat despondently.

"S'alright, kid. I can grid it out and use my magnifying gear, enlarge it. You want it A4, yeah?"

"Yeah...A4 would be great...Need to pick a frame up from somewhere though..."

"Don't worry about that, I got loads of spare ones in the back room....I'm guessin' you'll be needin' this ready for Christmas, right?"

"Absolutely...thought it'd make a nice gift for them" I then realised that it was already December 20th.

"Four days enough for you, Dave? Sorry if it ain't.... I mean, I shoulda asked earlier, like...?"

"No problem. It's more than enough time, that. Just gizza knock on say.... Tuesday. It'll be well boxed off by then."

"Right....Tuesday....Thanks Dave. I Gotta say, if the results are a tenth as good as your other stuff, it'll make a great gift..."

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Jesus wears a Nike cap.

In the immediate aftermath of Linda and the brief bout of angst and self pity she had triggered, life inevitably rolled on.

It just had to.

Dwelling on it was only making me insane.

At quiet moments when I studied it, in truth she was an amateur compared to some of the other females I knocked around with in the past. There had been far, far worse situations to deal with - she was small-time in the "painful past relationship" league table.

It was just the banal disappointment of what had happened that bit me deep. I'd have sooner had screaming, insults and general abuse than lame, ignorant silence and empty blank stares. A bit of passion would have made it probably a lot easier to forget.

Tick-tock, we don't stop....

Work only got busier and demanded more effort and concentration, bills still had to be settled, the match was still a highlight of most weekends, and laundry had to be washed, dried and ironed.

I busied myself with making slight improvements to my cube, a lick of paint here, a couple of framed prints there, new shower curtains and a stolen laundry basket from the local Liver laundrette being the most notable additions. I didn't have luxuries such as a washing machine or tumble dryer, but Dean down the corridor was always on hand to let me use his gear, and I'd throw him a few cans of lager in return.

With Christmas fast approaching, I was struggling to decide on what to buy for my immediate family. Many fruitless trips into the city centre, both before and after work in the music store, were only making it tougher to settle on gifts. There was almost too much choice, but nothing really struck me as original or memorable to offer to them.

After much deliberation, I eventually bought my brother a steel grey zip-up hooded Bench top from the Westworld store on Bold Street. I figured he wore his branded wear like tattoos, and that it was a fairly fashionable and subtle effort that might - just might - be to his liking.

My parents, however were a different matter. I always tried to get them each something special, that they wouldn't leave in a cupboard or stranded in the spare room of their cozy little flat.

Inspiration came from an unlikely source.


It was a Tuesday.

There was nothing on the personal agenda other than some pasta with spicy Dolmio tomato and herb sauce, pre-cooked chicken and a concerted effort to progress on Final Fantasy 10 on the Playstation. Then sleep if I could manage any, the alarm on my mobile phone rousing me and back to the same old sketch.

I hadn't seen him for weeks - not since he had insisted on lending me that stack of awful z-list action DVDs he had picked up from the Cash Convertors store on London Road. He was loitering in the ground floor corridor, his Nike Cap on his bald dome as always, pacing around with a battered grimy Head backpack hanging from his right shoulder, knocking on flat 1's door with heavy rhythmic regularity as I came in from work.

He practically bear-hugged me as he spotted me coming in the front door, his podgy arms gripping my sides, dropping his backpack to the floor. I could smell extra-strength lager on his breath as he spoke in his peculiarly whining voice.

"Alright there, Eric lad? Just finished work 'ave yer? Put on a bit weight eh lad? Looking well, lad...Spot on"

"Yeah...Good to see you too, Col. Been up to much? Ain't seen you for time, likes..." I responded wearily. Work had been shattering, and god bless Col, I just wasn't able to keep up with his frenetic patter, even though it was strangely endearing. I tried not to show my urge to get to my cube and crash on the couch.

"A'vent seen Dave 'ave yer lad? Been knocking for abaar...20 minutes..."

"Dave?" I replied quizzically.

I only really knew Dean and Col in the block, everyone else was pretty low profile.

Which is pretty much how I liked it, to be fair.

"Yeah, big Dave lad. Spot on lad, he is lad. Does them boss portraits, remember I told yer ages ago?" there's an angle for you...

"Right, yeah, big Dave...Think I know who you mean....Don't really know him Col, to be honest with you...But is he any good? At the artwork I mean?"

Col puffed up his chest in pride, a sentimental look easing across his chubby perspiring face as he replied.

"UNBELIEVABLE, Lad. Spot on, he is lad. Honest. Does it all in pencils and charcoals and that, good at oils and all that an' all. Should see the ones he's done of famous ones like John Lennon, Paul Weller, Nelson' the other fella...had a scatty bird...shot himself..."

"What, you mean Kurt Cobian? Out of Nirvana?"

"RIGHT! Spot on, Eric...Kurt Cobain, that's him.. .and loads more. Like photos they are Eric, lad. No messin'"

He nodded sagely, eyes squeezed tightly shut behind his thin glasses, looking almost like a little Buddha with a Nike cap on, dispensing worldly wisdom.

"Right....I may give him a knock sometime, now you mention it, Col...Got a portrait in mind he could maybe have a go at, actually.."

He reached out and patted my left shoulder heartily, almost sending me to the floor with his surprising force.

"Trust us, lad, They're well smart...When yer see them, you'll be knocked out, lad..."

"Yeah...I'll deffo check him out later on, Col.....Listen.....I'm Just gonna head to mine to get some chow and have a lie down, I'm done in mate.."

He released my shoulder and scooped up the battered backpack. I often wondered what he carried around in there.

He would produce massive toilet rolls from the depths of that bag, the huge industrial ones you found in airports and railway stations. He must have figured out how to remove them from the tough plastic containers that were fixed to the cubicle walls. He would then practically force me to take one off him, insisting it would save me loads of money, and it'd last for a month. I would always crack under pressure and accept.

He meant well of course, but his random nature left you scratching your head for days afterwards.

Seeing he was about to leave, I noticed something shiny hanging from the right pocket of his grimy Tracksuit pants. It looked like foil from a sweet wrapper.....It was hanging precariously, just about ready to fall out.

"Say........Something's fallin' out your trackies, there Col..." I said as I pointed towards it.

He peered down to his right side and then looked back up, a sly grin on his chubby lips. He stuffed the silver material back into his pocket hastily, shooting me a knowing wink as I stared back, shaking my head silently in bemusement.

"I know what yer thinkin', Eric lad...But it's nothin' like that yer know...." He beamed strangely.

"'s just...I dunno...What's it for then?" I replied dopily.

His shoulders hunched and, and he leaned forwards towards me whispering hesitantly, looking behind himself nervily as though someone was spying on him.

"See...No-one's onto this, but I'll tell yer, cos yer a sound lad, Eric lad..... Eric Lad....But Lemme ask yer...What hand do yer use...I mean...are yer a lefty or a righty, lad...?"

"What?.....Erm...OK....Right handed..."

"So...... yer usually....most of the time... put yer mobile in yer right hand pocket then, lad?"

"Erm....Yeah, Col...I suppose I do, like..."

He looked about us again, and leaned even closer, his voice dropping to that of a barely audible level. I strained to follow him as he continued.

"See...No-one's onto this Eric lad....But all mobile phones....They give out radiation....X-rays and that, right?..... And them X-rays make you sterile...give you tumors and that...They even cook yer brain when you use 'em.......And 'cos o' that........all the mobile firms......and the governments..... don't want loads of court cases and millions of people suing 'em......they've kept it all quiet, like.....So here's what yer do Eric, lad.....Just get a load of foil and line yer right pockets on all yer kecks and trackie bottoms....That way, yer town halls will be safe from the x-rays, an yer won't go sterile.....Cos the foil protects yer balls from the radiation......."

I stood in disbelieving silence for maybe a minute, nodding my head with a flimsy smile.

He reached for my hand and gripped it tightly, shaking it up and down slowly.

"Like I said, Eric lad....No-one's onto it....Remember I told yer first.....Follow that bit of advice, y'hear lad....?"

"Ye-Yeah...Right.....Thanks, Col...."

He released my hand and turned away, shooting me another wink, as he made for the door.

"Take it easy, Eric Lad....An' remeber what I told yer, now....An' always look after yer mam, lad....No better mate than yer mam, Eric Lad..."

He then left me alone in the darkened corridor, as the heavy front door slammed roughly shut behind him.

That was just one of many mind-bending experiences with Col. I mean, he was something else, truly. If he didn't really exist (which I seriously pondered over at times), you would never be able to invent him. I used to think he was like a benevolent genie, a friendly ghost or a playful apparition.

I never used to see him on the street or in the pubs or shops around the cubes, only in their gloomy damp halls. He left you mentally and physically drained when you bumped into him, such was his ranting energy and bouncing physical, child-like persona. Yet you always wanted him to come back whenever he left, as he posed so many questions that you only thought of when he was out of sight. It was fascinating and frustrating at the same time.

It was as if he truly believed everything he spouted - however irrational and outlandish it seemed to others, his mind-set was damn-near unbreakable. And he was impossible not to like, there was no badness in him, no sly edge, no deception or lies......

At least he's given you the opportunity to knock for this Dave character, be a bit more sociable since you're over that head-fuck of a bird........

Yes, little demon. You're right...I just gotta dig out that cracking photo of me mam and dad first though.....

Monday, 29 March 2010

Insecure purity.

"So was it worth it then, lad? All that over one bird, I mean?" Dean coughed through a cloud of smoke, leaning forwards to fix me with his piercing eyes.

Was an instant of your insecure purity worth a lifetime of her deceit and ignorance...?

Well was it?

"I though so at the time...Yeah, I guess I did.....Just really stressed me out, the whole gig was twisted, you know?" I muttered back, resignation and emotion heavy in my voice.

"it's just the...disappointment of the whole thing that gets me about it - I've had far uglier stuff happen with birds before.....She's an amateur in that respect, like...But The ignorance...Blanking me...Fuck man, it's a killer. She ain't 18, she's 28...We're both adults....I expected much more than that Dean, y'know?"

He sat upright, His posture stiff, his face suddenly hardening, his voice strangely shaky.

"Yeah...I've been there, lad. Know exactly what you mean....Never easy is it? I had a terrible sketch with me ex - unbelievable, man. Really stabbed me through the heart....Drove me crackers, fell out with me family and most of me mates at the time...It was hell...."

He thumped his fist down on the arm of the armchair, making the floor shudder with his force.

"But, it's like the old saying lad innit? What doesn't kill yer makes yer stronger..... God knows I learned that the hard way with her ....Never gonna commit to a bird now... Sick of getting tormented and played like a fool by 'em....But still..."

This was interesting His demeanour and aura of confidence had slipped and he was now uncertain, vulnerable. I was caught in two minds whether to press him, or to drop it...


I'm getting bored now....

"Yeah? Go on..."

Dean grimaced for a moment, as though recalling some awful event from his past, his eyes screwing up and his lips wobbling. He seemed on the verge of tears. But then he took a deep breath, composed himself and fixed me with a stern look again.

"All..I'm sayin' is...They reckon women outnumber us three-to-one...So this is it: I reckon you drop this whole thing and move on, lad. Sure, she had you off and messed with your head, I ain't debating that. An' it's clear you really liked her an' all, I mean look at yerself... You've been miserable for a while abaar it, right? RIGHT?"

I was took back by his fierce, passionate response.

Dean had always seemed the most laid-back punter in the cubes...

"Y-Yeah..." I mumbled tamely in response.

He made a sweeping, expansive gesture with his right hand.

"See, after all this.......You'll get yer head together and start chasin' other birds...Birds that are WORTH it...Worth the effort, the dollars, the feelings, man....She seems evil to me, judgin' on what you're tellin' me....Honestly dunno why you bothered with her... And the family thing with her was WAAAAY too "out west", knowhadamsayin'?

At last someone talking sense for a change.

Pay close attention, class...

"Yeah...Yeah you're dead-on, Deano.......too right mate..." I nodded my head.

"Just relax, lad you'll be alright....Maybe when me giro comes in we can go for a bevvy, hit town, get into some decent women likes....12 bells? Is that the time?"

He sprang from his chair, and made to leave, halting as he reached the door, turning to face me.

"Listen lad, gotta get off...I'm down at me uncles tomorrow, gonna get a lift at half seven...."

"Sure, no problems Deano...Listen.....About tonight....Thanks, man I really appreciate it....A problem shared an' all that...."

"Not a problem, lad...You ever wanna talk, I'm only down the hall...Just get yer head right, stop thinking so much...Get on it...You'll be sound..."

"Right...Again, thanks...see you later..."

"Laters, lad"

And with that he had gone.

I brooded to myself for an uncertain length of time, despite Dean's exhortations to do otherwise.

Despite the late hour and the fact I had work that morning, I struggled to unwind and sleep.

I threw the stereo on, some ambient mix music was needed to accompany my racing thoughts.

I almost absent-mindedly started flicking through the pages of a graphic novel I had left on the table at the centre of the room, absorbing the beauty and intricacy of the art and the scale and ingenuity of the story-telling for what felt like the first time.

It was no "Road-to-Damascus" moment by any means, but I had what one could loosely describe as a real "Epiphany" during that lost few hours, sitting there in my cube, red light glowing from the table-side lamp, me listening to music, scanning the panels of that graphic novel.

The fact that it wasn't in any significant place, time and that there was no-one present to relate it to made it perhaps much more of a self-affirming experience.

The endomorphins were surging through me - I was at ease, calm, serene almost.

And from nowhere... The thought struck me:

In this state of mind, this atomosphere, taking pleasure from such simple things....

Would this bird ever participate?

Would she ever be comfortable with it?

And I could see, it was all open now, I understood how it worked.

Right down to all the flaws and imperfections, which previously I had been blindly ignorant of.

In essence, I finally saw how ridiculous I had been acting.

It's wasn't Linda who was at fault - it was me.

Had she been in the same room at that time what would she, and by proxy myself, in all likelihood be doing?

I laughed out aloud at the observation that followed, so much so that I wound up lying on the couch, book draped across my legs as clutched my my chest and wheezed with tired laughter.

It would probably consist of you both enduring some shitty soap, followed by a soundtrack of cliched boy-band, R & B bollocks, coupled to uninspiring conversations....

There would be nothing to challenge me, no common ground between us.

All the personal interests and passions - the true individualities and quirks of character that I held - would be disregarded, ignored as casually as she had blanked my phone calls and text messages. What I regarded as high art and entertainment simply didn't exist to her. Whilst I would devour the works of Shirow, Otomo, Inoue and other great visionaries, she would have been stuck at the level of OK or Heat magazine.

I felt energised and entranced by this bust of languid introspection.

Put simply, it was a home truth delivered in a brutally honest yet eloquent and poetic way.

It's a rare thing when your mind lowers it's guard and lets you see the bigger picture.

That's right, kid........

Like you said once, I'm a gold-mine of good advice...

That thought comforted me as I drifted off to sleep on the couch, hypnotic synth bass lines lulling my eyes shut.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

RED CARD. (Walk it off).

The door creaked open a fraction with a whining un-oiled squeal, a tiny pink female set of fingers pulling it open.

A shaft of dying winter light cut through the gloom of the corridor, slowly revealing....


She wore a pristine white dressing gown, her feet bare, shivering slightly.

She looked pure, untouched.

Her hair, obviously just washed, gleamed supernaturally in the muted winter sun, which flew down rapidly behind the ceramic rooves of the terraced houses around us.

Our eyes met.

She fired me a nervous, wobbling smile.

A pretty vague look.

Almost looking through me rather than at me.

Her voice was unsteady as she spoke.

"...Oh...He-hello...Didn't expect you to to be calling here....."

She crept around the door, pulling it almost closed behind her.

She's obviously being listened to closely....

By someone really alert behind that door...

Most likely her mother....

"Yeah...y'know...... I was kinda worried about'cha....Not answering my calls and that...Just...Wanted to know if you were Okay.."

I brought up the flowers and offered them to her.

"I should be working at the match this afternoon...But I wanted to see you Real bad....First time for everything, right? Putting a female before football....Guess my priorities have changed..."

She made no attempt to accept my offering. She simply stood at the door, arms folded. Her eyes flickered about as she squirmed uncomfortably, a weak forced smile slowly fading on her lips.

She eventually locked her gaze on the path behind me, her voice sounding eerily flat and emotionless.

The intimation was clear that I should have been walking away, back down that stretch of uneven concrete slabs, there and then.

"I can't really speak to you right now.....It's not the right moment for this.."

She was cold. Her posture was all off. Arms folded tightly, expression remote.

Those hypnotic eyes that had originally hooked me, were flitting about again like humming-birds over a nectar-rich flower.

I slowly, with an attempt to act as cool as possible, slumped against the door-frame, an invisible attempt to draw myself closer to her body. The flowers in my right hand felt heavy, dead and lame all of a sudden.

"If it's...a problem...Me calling here outta the blue, I mean...Like this....I can understand, Linda. Just...say, if it is...and I'll bail out...."


For a split second, it appeared like I'd hit a raw nerve. She bit her upper lip, shifting where she stood. I wanted to keep the momentum rolling, however foolish it came across.

Something inside me pushed the dial towards "Super-charged", "animated and alive".


My speech felt lucid, flowing like poetry.

Not as if it was a cheaply constructed script.

"See...I can acknowledge the mistakes I made when it comes to you, baby. The other night drove home to me HOW MUCH I MISS YOU. TRULY. And I ain't just talkin' about the physical aspect...You are so much FUN to hang around with......More than any girl I've ever been with.
And I WANT YOU...I WANT to feel that joy again....

Just to make you smile is a buzz, honestly. Like no other.

I reached out to take her hand in my own.

She didn't pull it away, yet didn't squeeze it like I squeezed hers.

"And it gets better...I'm older now. More mature, focused. I Got a decent job on the go and my own place now....Plus, all my family are back together....Only thing missing is a straight-up female....And I think if we could just -"


She released my right hand and placed two fingers softly over my babbling lips.

Her face was all of a sudden, resolute.


"I'm sorry Fred...But I don't wanna relationship with you.....I can't tell you any other way........"

"I....I don't really know what to say............ To that...."

"I know.....I'm Sorry ....but that's how it is, babe....."