symphonies of sounds, and arrangements of metaphoric surrealism
the hibernation of ones mysterious thoughts and deepest actions
a psychedelic wonderland of white rabbits frolicking down holes,
a time warp of madmen the thought of being chased by dark shadows
in the mind of monsters that hide under the foot of the bed.
a stew of emotions boiling and biting at our ankles,
a pot of acid-spiked visions so unclear
a world where billows of color mix and mutate
the tall man chasing us young children through scenes of disruption and
everything within us as mortal beings where buddhist pray and the sun shines,
leaping over peace pigmented hills,
filled with hysteria and delirium
the dreams that have left me uneasy and the dreams that leave me wanting more
When making arrangements for ending it all
be sure to consume the right pills,
for the medicine chest contains many things
They prescribe now to cure other ills.
He’d said his goodbyes and he’d written the note
On the day that he thought was his last.
When he saw he’d O.D’d on Cialis instead
he was taken back and aghast.
For Cupid, not Thanatos, had answered his call
leaving him hard as dried plaster!
Though his wife was impressed-
And gave it her best-
He still throbbed on the edge of disaster.
Two pros they then called
To give it their all
To deal with this “gift” that keeps giving.
Despite their best efforts
He rampant remained
And he thought to himself “This is living”.
His medical doctor had just the thing
to keep Priapism in check.
When he finally went slack
There was no turning back
They at least kept it out of the Press
Upon further reflection
the hope of resurrection
Made him rip up his note and go on
For Life is worth living
with a wife so forgiving
of a spouse with a four hour bone.
Think of an imagined orchestra. But there is no resonance hereabouts, so the imagination gives next to nothing for your efforts, and even in surround-sound there’s so little to reflect the dimensions of the space your walking inhabits. Sea hardly counts, having its constant companionship with wind, and sand hills absorb the footfall. A shout dies here before the breath has left the lungs.
Listen, there is a vague twittering of wading birds flocked far out on the sand. The sea rolls and breaks a rhythmic swell into surf. There’s a little wind to rustle the ammophila and only the slight undefined noise of our bodies moving in this strip between land and sea. Nowhere here can sound be enclosed except within the self. There’s a kind of breathing going on, and much like our own, it has to be listened for with a keen attention.
There is such a confusion of shapes making detail difficult to gather in, even to focus upon, and to attempt an imagined orchestration – impossible. We’ll have to wait for the camera’s catch, its cargo to be brought to the back-lit screen. Once there it seems hardly a glimmer of what we thought we saw, what we ‘snapped’ in an instant. It’s too detached, too flat. So thankfully you sketch, and I feel the pen draw shapes into your fingers and their moving, willing hand. On your sketchbook’s page the image breathes and lives.
You can’t sketch music this way because the mark made buries itself in a network that seems to defy with its complexity any image set before you. Time’s like that. You end up with a long low pitch, pulsating; a grumbling sound rich in sliding harmonics. You see, landscape does not beget melody or even structure and form, only tiny, pebbled pockets of random sound. Here, there is no belonging of music. Only the built space can adequately house music’s home. We might snatch a few seconds of the sea’s turn and wash, a bird’s cry, the rub and clatter of boot on stone, and later bring it back to a timeline of digital audio and be ‘musical’ with it, or not.
Where we hold music to landscape is something we are told just happens to be so; it is the interpretation’s (and the interpreter’s) will and whim. It is an illusion. The Lark Ascends in a Norfolk field. We hear, but rarely see, this almost stationary bird high in the morning air. We can only imagine the lark’s eye view, but we know the story, the poem, the context, so our imagination learns to supply the rest.
What is taken then to be taken back? On this November beach, on this mild, windless afternoon,. Am I collecting, preparing, and easing the mind, un-complicating mental space, or unravelling past thoughts and former plans? I can then imagine sitting at a table, a table before a window, a window before a garden, and beyond the garden (through the window) there’s a distant vista of the sea where the sun glistens (it is early morning), and there too in the bright sky remains a vestige of a night’s drama of clouds. But today we shall not put music to picture from a camera’s contents, from any flat and lifeless image.
Instead there seem to be present thoughts alive in this ancient coastline, abandoned here the necessary industry of living, the once ceaseless business of daily life. Instead of the hand to mouth existence governed by the herring, the course strip farming below the castle, the herds of dark cattle, the possible pigs, some wandering sheep, seabirds and their eggs for the pot, the gathering of seaweed, the foraging for fuel: there is a closing down for winter because the visitors are few. We need the rest they say, to regroup, paint the ceilings, freshen up the shop, strengthen the fences, have time away from the relentlessness of accommodating and being accommodating. Only the smell of smoking the herring remains from the distant past – but now such kippering is for Fortnums.
We step out across and down and up the coastal strip: an afternoon and its following morning; a few miles walking, nothing serious, but moving here and there, taking it in, as much as we can. We fill ourselves to the brim with what’s here and now. The past is never far away: in just living memory there was a subsistence life of the herring fishers and the itinerant fisher folk who followed the herring from Aberdeen to Plymouth. Now there are empty holiday lets, retirement properties and most who live here service the visitors. Prime cattle graze, birds are reserved, caravans park next to a floodlit hotel and its gourmet restaurant. There’s even a poet here somewhere - sitting on a rock like a siren with a lovely smile.
Colours: dull greens now, wind-washed-out browns, out and above the sea confusions of grey and black stone, floating skeins of orange sands and the haunting, restless skies. Far distant into the west hills are sculpted by low-flying clouds resting in the mild air. Wind turbines step out across the middle distance, but today their sails are stationary. As the bay curves a settlement of wooden huts, painted chalets then the grey steep roofed houses of stone, grey and hard against the sea.
Does music come out of all this? What appears? What sounds? What is sounding in me? There is nothing stationary here to hang on to because even on this mild day there is constant change. Look up, around, adjust the viewpoint. There’s another highlight from the sky’s palette reflecting in the estuary water, always too various and complex to remember.
Music comes out of nothing but what you build it upon. It holds the potential for going beyond arrangements of notes. Pieces become buildings, layers in thought. My only landscape music to date begins with a formal processional, a march, and a gradually broadening out of tonality the close-knit chromatic to the open-eared pentatonic. There’s a steady stream of pitches that do not repeat or recur or return on themselves, as so much music needs to do to appease our memory.
In this landscape there seem only sharp points of dissonance. I hear lonely, disembodied pitches, uncomfortable sounds that are pinned to the past. The land, its topography as a score grasping the exterior, lies in multi-dimensional space, sound in being, a joining of points where there is no correlation. There’s a map and directions and a flow of time: it starts here and ends there, and so little remains for the memory.
Yet, this location remains. We walked it and saw it fortunately for a brief time in an uninhabited state. We were alone with it. We looked at this land as it meets the sea, and I saw it as a map on which to place complexes of sound, intensities even,. But how to meet the musical utterance that claims connection? It is a layering of complexes between silences, between the steady step, the stop and view. There is perhaps a hierarchy of landscape objects: the curve of the bay, the sandhills’ sweep, the layerings of sand, and in the pools and channels of this slight river that divides this beach flocks of birds.
Music is such an intense structure, so bound together, invested with proportions so exact and yet weighed down by tone, the sounding, vibrating string, the column of air broken by the valve and key, the attack and release of the hammered string. But there is also the voice, and voices are able to sound and carry their own resonance . . .
. . . and he realised that was where these long drawn out thoughts, this short diary of reflection, had been leading. He would sit quietly in contemplation of it all and work towards a web of words. He would let their rhythms and sounds come together in a map, as a map of their precious, shared time moving between the land and the sea, the sea and the land.
the queen was sitting on the throne
but she wasn't sitting alone
the duke was parked up along side of her
and he was talking on the telephone
he was making arrangements
to go trout fishing in a Balmoral stream
and he asked the queen if she'd be keen
on a spot of fishing in the stream
they got out of their respective seats
and the queen ordered a carriage to her Balmoral retreat
the game park warden there
prepared a fishing rod for the two
and they hastened to the stream
without further adieu
the duke cast his rod and so did the queen
they had no luck in catching one single trout
apparently there were fish thieves about
back at Balmoral Castle
the queen wrote a proclamation
stating that all fish thieves
would be banned in her nation
the queen wasn't well pleased
with the fish thieves stealing
her's and the duke's catch
and her proclamation
was quickly dispatched
Death is a filthy temptress,
but a beautiful one.
Anyone who disagrees
is either dying,
or in denial.
when i met you in the second grade
i knew my life was forever changed.
asking your last name was all i could do.
i hoped that it would forever help this bond of two.
would it start with A or C?
that would not put you next to me.
maybe K or even F?
what i was hoping for was an S.
S would suit me best.
S could find you a seat next to me,
wonder what the second letter of your last name could be.
the teacher announces your name and i fell to the floor.
the letter U had us bound forever more.
so now we are older and we must part
for the very first time since the start.
it isn't something we speak about.
the bond we made without a doubt.
when we met i knew you were made for only me.
i was hoping time away would give you time to see.
all these years and you could have guessed.
i still like your last name the very best.
symphonies of sounds, and arrangements of metaphoric surrealism
the hibernation of ones mysterious thoughts and deepest actions
a psychedelic wonderland of white rabbits frolicking down holes, a time warp of madmen
the thought of being chased by dark shadows in the mind of monsters that hide under the foot of the bed.
a stew of emotions boiling and biting at our ankles, a pot of acid-spiked visions so unclear
a world where billows of color mix and mutate
the tall man chasing us young children through scenes of disruption and everything within us as mortal beings
where buddhist pray and the sun shines, leaping over peace pigmented hills, filled with hysteria and delirium
the dreams that have left me uneasy and the dreams that leave me wanting more
death is pretty with white funeral lilies .
death is expensive with the new black dresses and shiny mary - jane's .
death is quiet .....
unless you were there and you heard them cry out
hold me !
unless you sat beside them and listened to there hoarse breath and saw the blood they tried to hide
in a napkin ..
unless you saw then try to pay for their own funeral arrangements , and hospital bill ..
unless they asked you what they should get carved into stone and placed on top of their skull .
accuse me .
tell me i'm the one who let them go ..
who let them slip through my fingers , which are just as cold and as numb as the dead ..
tell me i'm the one who sat in the hospital for some extra cash ...
death is pretty with white funeral lilies .
death is expensive with the new black dresses and shiny mary - jane's .
death is quiet .....
where were you ...?
I'm loosing precious minutes of sleep
the new life means the business week
the layovers my my heart and head
bland me down sometimes and make me mad
our friend leaves trash and a story that shakes
pitches four dollars into my empty tank
we drive back and forth across an anthill line
blend into the trees as a kid i used to climb
she lost her dog
she likes though him because he never does talk
he provides her the same things
except prenuptual arrangements
and gold bracelets
but she loves him the same way
It's a beautiful thing we said
the way you think you know life's reasons
then you figure out you're wrong
and you're day turns on its head
and the stomach churns acid
and it brews up shame
your grandmother scorned you
said yeah you'll make mistakes
but still you
you do the dishes
you barely use any soap when you wash the laundry
and yeah the gate needs greasing but
we all got shit to do
I hope this is what you want
I hope it helps you understand the way i think
I don't drink
I hope maybe they open their mind
instead of roaming blind
and I hope this is enough for you to need
I hope your necks goosebumps scare away your greed
I hope that only the best of ups and downs is all you see
jumping to conclusions has the potential to kill the mound
I hope this is what they want when they want some shit that's filled with good lines
I hope its the generations anthem
I hope its what we all hymn along
I hope it's what you want when you just want to belong
Inconspicuous, his presence noted only by the obscurity and the ever growing number of spent cigarette stubs that littered the ground. It had been a long day and the rain, relentless in its tenacity had little intention of stopping, baleful clouds hung heavy dominating the lateness of the afternoon sky, a skyline broken only by smoke filled chimney pots and the tangled snarl of corroded television aerials.
The once busy street was fast emptying, the lure of shop windows no longer enticed as local traders closed their premises to the oncoming night. Solitary lampposts curved hazily into the distance, casting little more than insipid pools mirrored in the gutter below, only the occasional stranger now, scurrying home on a bleak, rain swept afternoon, the hurried slap of wet leather soles on the pavement, the sightless umbrellas, the infrequent rumble of a half filled bus, hell-bent on its way to oblivion.
In the near distance as the working day ended, a sudden emergence of factory workers told Beamish it was 5-o'clock, most would be going home to a hot meal, while others for a quick drink perhaps before making the same old sorry excuse. For Jack, the greasy spoon would be closing about now, denying him the comfort of a badly needed cuppa' and stale cheese sandwich. A subtle legacy of lunchtime fish and chips still lingered in the air, Jack's stomach rumbled, there was little chance of a fish supper for Beamish tonight, it protested again... louder.
From beneath the eaves of the building opposite several pigeons broke cover, startled by the rattle as a shopkeeper struggled to close the canvas awning above his shop window. Narrowly missing Beamish they flew anxiously over the rooftops, memories of the blitz sprang to mind as Jack stepped smartly to one side... he stamped his feet, it dashed a little of the weather from his raincoat, as the rain dashed a little of the pigeons' anxiety from the pavement, the day couldn't get much worse if it tried. Shielding his face, Jack flicked the Ronson and cupped the freshly lit cigarette between his hands, it was the only source of heat to be had that day... and still it rained.
'By Appointment to Certain Personages...' it read, 'Jack Beamish ~ Private Investigator...' a mouthful by any stretch of the imagination thought Jack and shot every vestige of credulity straight through the window and nominate itself for a prodigious award in the New Year Honours list. Having previously acted in a professional capacity for a well known purveyor of pickled condiments who incidentally, brandished the same patronage emblazoned upon their extensive range of relish as the one Jack had more recently purloined from them... a paid commission no less, which by Jack's understanding had made him, albeit temporary in nature, a paid employee of said company... and consequently if they could flaunt the auspicious emblem, then according to Jack's infallible logic, so could he.
The newly acquired letterhead possessed certain distinction, in much the same way Jack reasoned, that a blank piece of paper did not... and whereas correspondence bearing a heading such as 'shamus' may not exactly strike terror into the hearts of man, unlike a really strong pickled onion, it nevertheless made people think twice before playing him for the fool, which sadly Jack had to admit, they still invariably did... and would often catch them wagging an accusing finger or two in his direction with such platitudes as... "watch where you put your foot" they'd whisper, "that Jack's a right shamus..." and when you'd misplaced your footing as many times as Jack had then he reasoned, that by default the celebrated shamus must have steered him around more piles of trouble than he would readily care to admit, but that wouldn't be quite true either, in Jack's line of work the designation actually dropped him in them more often than not.
A cold shiver ran down his spine, another quickly followed as a spurt of icy water from a broken rain spout spattered across the back of his neck, he grimaced... Jack's expression spoke volumes as he took one final pull from his half soaked cigarette and flicked it, amid an eruption of sparks against the adjacent brick wall. Sinking further into the gloom he tipped his fedora against the oncoming rain, then digging both hands deep within his pockets, he huddled behind the upturned collar of his gabardine... watching.
It was times such as these when Jack's mind would slip back, in much the same way you might slip back on a discarded banana peel, when an item of some consequence, or in Jack's case the pavement, would leap up and give the back of his head a good seeing to and tell him to "stop loafing around in office hours... or else" then drag him, albeit kicking and screaming, back into the 20th century. This intellectual assault and battery helped Jack to while away the long weary hours until the next cigarette, cup of tea, or the last bus home, his capacity to endure such mind numbing tedium called for nothing less than sheer bloody-mindedness and very little else... Beamish had long suspected that he possessed all the necessary qualifications.
Jack had come a long way since the early days, it had been a long haul but he'd got there in the end... and managed to pick up quite a few dirty looks along the way. While he was with the Police Constabulary and it was only fair to stress the word 'with' as opposed to the word 'in', although the more Jack thought about it, he had been 'with' the arresting officer, held 'in' the local Bridewell... detained at Her Majesties pleasure while assisting the boys in blue with their enquiries over a minor infringement of some local by-law that had quite slipped Jack's mind. Throughout this enforced leisure period, he'd read the entire abridged editions of Kilroy and other expressive works of graffiti, exhibited in what passed locally as the next best thing to the Tate Gallery, whereupon it hadn't taken Jack long to realise that it was always a good place to start if you wanted free breakfast, the bill of fare was tastefully displayed in vivid, polychromatic colour on the wall opposite... you just had to be au-fait with braille.
No matter how industrious Beamish laboured to rake the dirt there always seemed a dire shortage of unwary clients for Jack to squeeze what would roughly translate as an honest crust out of... and although his fixed rate was highly competitive, he knew that potential clients found it bewildering when grappling with the unplumbed depths of Jack's expense account which would tend to fluctuate with the same unpredictability as the British weather, the rest of Jack's agenda revolved around a little dodgy moonlighting, in fact he'd happily consider anything to offset the remotest possibility of financial delinquency... short of extortion, which by a strange twist of fate was the very word that prospective clients would use while Jack beavered around the office with a dust-pan, sweeping any concerns they may have had frantically under the carpet regarding the elasticity of his daily stipend... and should remain assured as they fished out their cheque books and simply look upon it as kneading dough which was exactly the thick wedge of bread Jack had every hope of carving.
Were there ever the slightest possibility that a day could be so utterly wretched then today was that day, Jack felt a certain empathy as he merged with his surroundings... at one with nature as it were. The rain, a timpani on the metal dustbin lids by the side of which Beamish had taken up his vigil, also taking up vigil and in search of a morsel was the stray mongrel, this was the third time now that he'd returned to see him, the same apprehensive wag yet still the same hopeful look of expectation in his eyes, a brief but friendly companion who paid more attention to Jack's left leg than anything that could be had from nosing around the dustbins... some days you're the dog, Beamish considered as he shook his trouser leg... and some days the lamppost, Jack's foot swung out playfully, keeping his new friends incontinence at a safe distance, the scruffy mongrel shook himself vigorously from nose to tail in defiance, a smell of wet dog briefly filled the air as an abundance of cast-off rainwater flew in all directions. Pricking one ear, he looked briefly up at Jack before turning and snuffling off, nose resolutely to the pavement, diligently picking out the few washed-out scents that still remained, the little stalwart renewed its search for scraps, or making his way perhaps to some dry seclusion known only to itself.
Two hours later and... SPLOSH, Beamish poured himself under the door of the nearest Public House, SPLOSH the puddle squelched over to the payphone, SPLOSH then dialled and pressed button A... then button B... then started all over again amid a flurry of precipitation, SPLASH. He floundered to the bar and ordered himself a drink, then ebbed back to the payphone again, the local taxi company doggedly refused to answer... finally, wallowing over to the window Beamish drifted up against a warm radiator amidst a cloud of humidity and came to rest... flotsam, cast upon the shore of contentment, Jack sighed... the Landlady watched him, suspiciously.
Jack's finely tuned perception soon got to grips with the banter and muffled gossip drifting down the bar, having little else to loose other than what could still be squeezed from his clothing Beamish, working on the principle that a little eavesdropping was his stock-in-trade engaged instinct into overdrive and casually sauntered in their general direction... They were clearly regulars by the way one of them belched in a well rehearsed, taken-aback sort of way as Jack took stock of the situation and was now at some pains to inveigle himself into their exclusive midst and attempt several friendly, yet relevant questions pertinent to his enquiries... all of which were expertly deflected with just as friendly, yet totally irrelevant answers pertinent to theirs'... and would Jack care for a game of dominoes they asked... if so would he be good enough to pay the returnable deposit himself, as by common consent it just so happened to be his turn... Jack graciously declined as the obliging Landlady, just as graciously cancelled the one shilling refundable deposit from the cash register, such was the flow of light conversation that evening, they didn't call him Lucky Jack for nothing... discouraged, he turned back to the bar and reached for his glass which one of his recent companions had taken the trouble to drink for him, the Landlady gave Jack a knowing look, Beamish returned the sentiment and ordered another pint.
From the licenced premises opposite, a myriad of jostling customers plied through the door, business was picking up, the sudden influx quickly persuaded Beamish to retire from the bar and find a vacant table. Sitting, he moved several discarded crisp packets only to discover an empty ashtray below, by sleight of hand the Ronson appeared... as he lit the cigarette the fragile smoke curled blue as it rose, influenced by subtle caprice it formed a horizontal curtain dividing the room, a delicate undulating layer held between two conflicting forces.
The possibility of a free drink soon attracted the attention of a local bar fly who, hovering in the near vicinity promptly landed in Jack's beer, Beamish declined the generous offer as being far too nutritious and with the corner of yesterdays beer mat, flipped the offending organism from the top of his glass, carefully inspecting his drink for debris as he did so.
A sudden draught and clip of stiletto heels as the side door opened caused Beamish to turn as a double shadow slipped discreetly into the friendly snug, a little intimacy on an otherwise cheerless evening. The faceless man, concealed behind the upturned collar of his overcoat, his surreptitious companion decked in cony, cheap perfume and a surfeit of bling proclaimed a not too infrequent assignation, he'd seen it all before... the over attentive manner and the band of white, Sun-starved skin recently hidden behind a now absent wedding token, it was the sort of assignment Jack didn't much care for... the discreet tail, the candid snapshot through half drawn curtains and the all too familiar steak tartare, for the all too familiar black eye.
To the untrained eye, the prospect of Jack's long anticipated supper was rapidly dwindling when it focused with renewed vigour upon the contents of a pickled egg jar he'd noticed lurking on the back counter, his enthusiasm rapidly deminished however as the belching customer procured the final two specimens from the jar and proceeded to demolish them. Who, Jack reflected after being stood out in the rain all day, had egg all over their face now... and who, he sighed ironically still had an empty stomach. Disillusioned, Jack tipped back his glass and considered a further sortie with the taxicab company.
"FIVE-BOB"!!! Jack screamed... you could have sliced the air with a cheese grater... hurtling into the kerb like a fairground attraction came flying past the chequered flag at a record breaking 99 in Jack's top 100 most wanted list of things to do... and that the cabby should think himself lucky they weren't both stretched out on a marble slab, "exploding tyres" Jack spluttered, dribbling down his chin, were enough to give anyone a coronary... further broadsides of neurotic ambiance filled the cab as the driver, miffed at the prospect of missing snooker night out with the lads, considered charging extra for the additional space they were all taking...
And what part of 'Drive-Carefully' fumed Beamish, did the cabby not understand, that pavements were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented' preferably on the left and not veered into, wildly on the front axle... a premonition of 'jemais-vu' perched like a disembodied Jiminy Cricket on Jack's left shoulder, looking to stick its own two-penny's worth in at the 'Standing-Room-Only' arrangements in the overcrowded cab... and at what further point Jack shrieked, his eyes leaping out of his head as he lurched forward shaking his fist through the sliding glass partition, had the cabbie failed to grasp the importance of the 'Steering-Wheel...' someone wanted horse whipping and as far as Beamish was concerned the sole contender was the cab driver...
In having a somewhat sedate and unruffled disposition it had fallen to Beamish, as befalls all great leaders in times of adversity, to single handedly grab the bull by the horns and at great personal cost to himself, alert the unwary motorist... Waving his arms like a man possessed while performing acrobatic evolutions in the centre of the road as the cabby changed the spare wheel came whizzing around the corner at a rip roaring 98 on Jack's list... and why, he puzzled why had they all lowered their windows and gestured back at him in semaphore..? Rallying to its aid, Jack's head and shoulders now joined his shaking fist through the sliding glass partition and into the cabby's face, "WHO" Beamish screeched with renewed vigour "Who Was The Man" Jack wanted to know... "and Who-o..." by this time the cabby thought his passenger was asking far too many questions for his own good but said little as he left the meter clocking up the additional fare... "Who-o risked his neck for brother man..." before eventually flagging down a breakdown patrol motorcycle... only to discover that the cab driver wasn't a member, "Who's Fault Was That", screamed Beamish... and that he had choice words to say if ever he crossed that motor mechanic again, that definitely was not the regulation salute he was required to give, anyway Jack had no intention of paying the cab fare and said as much... and as for a gratuity, No-ooo... that didn't bare thinking about, he'd sooner have his leg chewed off by an angry Aardvark, no... it was the taxicab company who should be doling out danger money... and lots of it. With an air of indignity he dislodged himself from the glass partition, stormed out of the cab and up the garden path... then stormed back down again and left the bemused driver in no uncertain doubt that he'd by no means finished before storming back, only this time up his own garden path, leaving a now red faced cabby spluttering in sheer bewilderment.
Fumbling for his keys Jack let himself in through the front door and promptly stumbled over that weeks mail and the undisputed title-holder of the 'Spiteful Cat Championship Cup' who, having taken a shine to basking on the summit several days earlier was incensed by this latest intrusion and flew lickety-split full across the Ring, then recoiling off the Ropes hurtled straight back, a malicious ball of thrashing barbs and razor wire. In managing to fend off with only minor mutilation his second contender of the evening Jack noticed his slipper, the other he recalled was still on the kitchen floor where he'd abandoned it earlier that morning, it being worn at the time by a bluebottle, the troublesome insect had been bouncing against the window pane so frenzied, presumably wishing to let itself out and take the morning air, that it cracked ... oddly enough, at the precise instant that Jack's size 9 stopped hurtling across the kitchen, so did the fly. Cheerfully, Jack retrieved his slipper and scraped the deceased blowfly into the peddle-bin, 'Game, Set and Match'.
He'd had a restless night, insomnia didn't help, neither did the persistent monotony of the bedside alarm clock, any suggestion that it grow wings and take flight would have appealed to Jack at that particular moment as he pictured it touching down on its first solo flight against the far wall, or should evolving wings be too millennial at such short notice, then Beamish would be only too happy to lend a helping hand and accommodate its transition in achieving the dizzying heights of being at oneness with the bedroom decor, opposite.
Laying there Jack took stock of the previous day, he recalled the rain sodden fedora had weighed heavily on his mind, he remembered it giving him headache, he recalled the friendly mongrel, he remembered his trouser leg. Jack had been down on his luck more times than he could remember of late, yesterday had been no exception... he'd had differences of opinion with cabbies before now, disparaging ones, but last night really took the biscuit, and that Jack would be giving the cab manager a tasty mouthful of it later that morning... As the rain finally took a well earned breather, so the incessant chatter of the dawn chorus kicked off, Jack screamed... so did the alarm clock, the day began.
It would be unfair to say the day had started out on the wrong foot, it wasn't that lucky... it stepped on an upturned thumb tack instead, where it witnessed a very exasperated Beamish hopping about on one foot wrangling on the telephone, being harangued as it happened by the taxicab manager, not 'the' taxicab manager you would have expected, whose company logo he'd faultlessly forgotten to take note of the evening before, but the 'wrong' taxicab manager, the business who directory enquires utterly failed to locate for the most obvious of reasons, he didn't have their name... The long suffering switchboard operator patiently enquired as to whether Jack was inviting her to participate in some new game of deduction she had previously been in deficit of, or did Beamish believe her to have the gift of second sight... in which case, should she manage to locate her crystal ball, then she would be only too happy to return Jack's call with the ethereal telephone number, or perhaps he would prefer telepathy instead and that the choice was his... Beamish thanked her for her professional sarcasm and suggested she might consider a career change upon more distant shores, Jack then spent the following hour trawling through the subscriber listings before drawing up a short-list and as painstakingly methodical as ever, he ducked.
"Yes... yes... no, well maybe not, no ... no, well don't let it happen again then ... Good-Day". Beamish replaced the handset, badly trapping his fingers in the process... wrong number. Gingerly dusting off the palms of his hands Jack studied the list once again and took one more stab at pinning the tail back on the donkey... which promptly kicked him full in the face. In the distance, a rumble of thunder foretold the day bode anything but well.
That afternoon discovered Beamish back in the same dining establishment he hadn't quite managed to be in the day before... Never to be mistaken for a 'more~tea~vicar' Tearoom, with gingham tablecloths, pretty maids in severe black skirt and matching top uniforms... with white pinafore and Irish lace accessories, but rather a 'sugar yer own tea with a spoon on a chain, screwed to the counter with a 6 inch nail' Pit-Stop... with complimentary cigarette ash bobbing cheekily on top. Beamish felt thoroughly at home, it added a certain flamboyance he thought, to the locale...
A distinct lack of ashtrays, the absence of which invited the casual smoker to exploit the threadbare linoleum to its greatest possible advantage and lent a certain minimalist feel to the premises, cosy but austere... exhibiting great artistic indifference and real back breaking restraint in the petty cash department. The various half empty condiments and communal sugar bowl, stuck firmly to the counter with what remained of yesterdays all-day-breakfast further added to its dash of individuality, it crossed Jack's mind that the outdoor washing facilities were just as individual, giving off the robust and invigorating odour of carbolic San-Izal and a non too subtle hint that having finished whatever it was that you were doing there in the first place, the customer shouldn't loiter.
The unshaven proprietor glanced briefly up at the clock, a nondescript grunt emerged from some uncharted region whose geography Jack surmised as a further contribution of cigarette ash took the plunge and joined its siblings skinny-dipping in the murky depths of the recently unwashed frying pan, was best left to those with a good working knowledge of cartography. Of indeterminate age, he was a man of relatively ample and oily circumference, the few hairs still remaining appeared hastily groomed with some questionable residue you might possibly unearth in one of the greasier recesses of the kitchen peddle-bin. Still in bedroom slippers, his outgoing distinctiveness was further marked by a deficiency of soap powder and the jaunty demeanour of his string vest, it was his lower extremities however, festooned in snappy a-la-mode dog-tooth check that finally brought the stunning ensemble to a breath taking conclusion.
While Jack waited in line to be ignored and then have his order brushed aside with a... "if it ain't up on the board chum, we ain't gorrit..." then have a tired sandwich, not necessarily of his own choosing, thrown at him by way of compromise, he considered the previous mornings bluebottle would have really brought the house down here, what you might call 'cabaret pantoufle' and with all the ambiance of a smoke filled jazz cellar, the venue would've caused eruptions in the Industrial North's show-biz circles. As the jukebox thumped loudly in the background... "Papa's got a brand new bag... Awww", Jack was rather of the opinion that the now otherworldly fly was striking some new and exclusive rites-of-passage with The Almighty and could be launching its debut appearance in the Performing Arts as early as a week next Tuesday or as long as reincarnation allowed, Jack speculated as to whether it would need a road manager or not, one who was worldly in ways of the slipper...
The day, pretty much as any other trudged wearily on from one sodden rain cloud to the next... Rained off and back in the same Public House as the evening before, Jack ordered a drink while he carefully peeled the racing pages apart from the damp and bedraggled newspaper he'd acquired earlier for that weeks events at the local racecourse. The previous evenings taxicab number, prominently displayed by the payphone was now strangely enough, only to be noted by its absence and despite all Jack's efforts to the contrary had little intention of reappearing anytime soon. The cards departure deeply troubled Jack's finely honed powers of deduction as it bore many similarities to his latest clients long overdue expenses, which apparently had little intention of appearing anytime soon either, presumably choosing to bunk-off and go steeplechasing instead.
While other far flung people cruised in the cabriolet of a much sunnier clime, unhurried Beamish having nowhere in particular to go bumbled along in the slow lane beneath what could only be described as a whirlpool of depression that you would normally associate with the BBC shipping forecast for coastal areas... Viking, Rockall and Cromarty, today was one such maelstrom which to its credit was taking squarely on the chin every weather-beaten punch the sky could possibly throw at it, from a refreshing 'quick morning spar in the bathroom washbasin', to a more exhilarating 'brisk and vigorous workout under a mid-afternoon shower', then at the final bell, an out for the count 'three coins in the fountain' bath night.
The three day event had witnessed the worst turnout since records began, the outside camera crews, refusing to leave the warm... and more importantly, dry interior of the mobile studio and put in an appearance, threatened work-to-rule with menaces and not too dissimilar to the weather... lightening strikes, opting to play Five's and Three's instead over a hot mug of Bovril. The going had been soft-to-poor the previous day, then rallying its forces throughout the night to become what could very easily be mistaken for quagmire-to-quicksand, this should have spurred the promoters to throw in the towel at the earliest possible opportunity and abandon the race meeting outright, but the event, not wishing to be eclipsed by the weather was fast developing into an outtake of the Oxford boat race and had every intention of storming to victory and crossing the finishing line by nothing less than three lengths.
The final event was coming under starters orders, having made one breath taking loss after the other Jack, casting all caution to the wind was going for broke, in much the same way it seemed as his latest client. 'Aweeeee-screeech' wailed the commentary box loudspeakers "Aand-they're-off..." "its-Captain-Clueless-coming-up-on-the-inside..." "Oh... aand-he's-fallen-at-the-first-fence... what-a-spectacular humiliation..." and so on. It had been a fun filled day Jack fumed as he clenched a handful of betting slips in his fist and brandished them skywards, just one great whopping success story after the other, Jack felt certain the same sentiments were leaping through the jockey's mind as the stretcher bearers carried him off towards the St. John's Ambulance tent. Captain Clueless meanwhile, playing to the crowd and his newly acquired fan base gambolled off in a frolicsome, catch-me-if-you-can sort of way and in the general direction of a brisk rub down and well earned nosebag... his handlers sliding in hot pursuit. Jack tore up his betting slips... Jack tore them up some more and littered the visitors paddock, as the confetti floated away you could almost catch them gurgling a cheerful little tune, someone Jack thought had to keep the ground stewards employed...
No... barter was definitely out and as far as bad debts went accepting a clients moped in lieu of payment was no exception, yet it had seemed quite pointless to offer a continued service when Jack's unerring instinct once again told him that to unearth the cause of his clients mysterious insolvency would be to discover something to Jack's distinct financial disadvantage. Having finally worked free from the hysterics and the desperation with which the impoverished client had clutched at Jack's collar, Beamish wished him bonne-chance and for him to remain assured throughout these troubled times, that should Jack be of further assistance in helping to shoulder any future burden he may have, then he should be sure to seize the moment with both hands, not too dissimilar to Jack's crumpled collar and accept his personal card as an insignificant token of their continued association... they parted company. Although Jack found his former sponsors death-rattle touching, he considered the fervour in which he displayed it a little excessive, when a simple handshake would have served the same purpose in relieving him of his wristwatch... business after all was business.
A positive outlook in all things, Jack reassured himself for the third time that day since his latest cash cow had abruptly dried up... and in looking upon every fat pocketbook that fell by the wayside as a potential source of unearned income, a good Samaritan Jack reasoned, would be offering no disservice in taking upon his own shoulders the straw that was breaking the unfortunate creature's back... and give the poor defenceless animal a helping shove so to speak, head first through the eye of the proverbial needle... and straight into Jack's superannuated pension scheme... "hallelujah".
Whereas a pessimist would behold a glass half empty set before them... an optimist, one that was half full then Beamish would feast his eyes upon a foaming tankard, one brimming over with every fermented delight that Jack's indulgent taste-buds could ever be prevailed upon to imbibe. Of all the plum pies that Jack had his thumbs stuck into... up to the elbows in fact... was one five-star hors-d'oeuvre that would ordinarily send your average County Court Judgement diving for cover in the wastepaper basket, then while the bailiff's were dashing every which way like headless chickens, blaming everyone but themselves as to who'd forgotten to get the paperwork notarised, Jack would simply get stuck in and send all further incriminating disbursements scurrying in the opposite direction and straight into Jack's Cayman-islands bank account...
Were it not for Jack's keen sense of business acumen and a chisellers sense of fair play, Beamish could almost feel sorry for his clients, so sorry in fact that for a mere bagatelle, currently running at fifteen above inflation... plus commission, Beamish would bring full weight to bear and for a further modest monthly consideration, make the problem disappear... for a further modest month. Jack didn't particularly see this as skimming cream from the top, but rather as breaking into the dairy farming industry and in direct competition with the Milk Marketing Board.
"Hit the road Jack, Hit the road Jack and don't you come back..." Shut-Up! Shut-Up!! Shut-Up!!! screamed Beamish, that jingle was just begging for trouble as the lyrics chirruped busily in his head... "no more, no more, no more, no more..." it re-joined harmoniously as it limbered up for the next prophetic installment. Barking his ankle on the kick-start had been comparatively easy, if not painful compared to the numbing complexity of vaulting on, or off without tripping the ejector seat, which was also numbingly painful and "Hit the road Jack and..."after ripping the seat out of his second pair of trousers that morning, "...don't you come back no mo-o-o-ore" it wailed without a care in the world... badly needed screwing down, "what you say..?" badly needed screwing down. One hour and an entirely different song later, having explored the extensive array of oil leaks which had apparently resolved any rust problems the moped may have had, were also at odds with Jack's readiness to remit a Kings ransom to the Petro-Chemical Industry's prodigious profit margin.
She'd been popping in and out of Jack's head for sometime now, in much the same way that a neighbour might pop in to scrounge a bowl of sugar... she could have kept the sugar bowl and the china tea service that went with it, just so long as Jack got an invitation to coffee mornings... when out of the corner of one eye she stood as though in a golden haze waiting to cross the road, arms folded, a look of utter contempt waxed lyrical, her dainty foot tapping a military tattoo, quick time... when SMACK... also with utter contempt, only now for the Highway Code, a speeding wasp slammed straight into the corner of Jack's other eye.
Having had just about all the excitement they could take for one day, the unfettered handlebars finally took matters into their own hands as the moped lurched wildly from side to side... and with it brought a whole new sequence of choreography to the catchphrase 'do the Bossa-Nova...' just where were the emergency services when you needed them, Jack's panic stricken senses demanded... he would be pressing charges, then decided that no, he definitely would not, he didn't hold a motorcycle licence for one thing... which came limping along with a Doctors note and a lame excuse third from last in Jack's top 100 most wanted as the jitterbugging moped, looking for someone to mark its dance card, struggled to Trip the Light Fantastic single-handed... nor was he Road Taxed, now that he came to think about it... or Insured for that matter... but it was most certainly Hit and Run.
As a matter of some interest and so as not to get too bogged down over the finer points of where to lay the blame, Jack had absolutely no control whatsoever over the teeth rattling chain of events that were currently crashing down about his ears that afternoon, nor did he feel anything other than sheer abject terror as the moped pitched wildly into the nearest pothole and performed the nasal vasectomy that brought far more than tears to Jack's bloodshot eyes as it propelled him... "Aaaargh..." over the front mudguard... nor indeed the prodigious feats of derring-do as he selflessly put the welfare of his laundry above life and limb... but it was Jack's unrehearsed double axel as he cartwheeled through the air in a majestic tangle of arms and legs that finally swept her, the object of Jack's undying affection, albeit head on, completely off her feet, after all... how could a girl possibly refuse.
The Panel awarded best overall score to the moped, receiving an impressive 5-5, 5-6, 5-6 for Freestyle Jive and amid a standing ovation at first curtain call, performed double back somersaults down the road as encore... the aerobic wasp took a well deserved Silver for creative interpretation and its extravagant use of the pirouette while Beamish, for whom the Judges' to-a-man, were of one accord over Jack's imaginative application of the English language and with unanimous nods of resentment, promptly disqualified him... If nothing else Jack hazarded, it would certainly be a talking point, something to while away the long Winter evenings together, time would simply fly by...
With her foot tapping out the same military two-step as moments earlier she glared down at Jack and began opening her mouth, then thought better of it and simply sneered instead... "Dello" a nasally challenged Beamish sniffled, as he peeled himself from the asphalt, "wodda lubly subrize... vancy meedin ooo agaid do dood", Jack squeezed a gelatinous glob from his neck-tie by way of an impromptu chat up line then dabbed his bleeding nose with the solidifying strip of fabric, thinking it far more judicious to use the softly softly approach, rather than slap her on the back and invite her out for a pint... that would come later, "do ooo um ere ovden" he rambled unabashed, fumbling with the congealed item of neckwear as in a last ditch attempt to impress, Jack was going all out at kicking the scattered remains of his former mode of embarrassment discreetly under the tarmac.
YES!!! he'd finally struck gold... it wasn't quite the cosy 'Mills and Boon' coffee morning Jack might have hoped for... true, nor even a romantic 'Allison and Busby' bag of chips to go... shared between two no hopers on a balmy Summer's evening, but nonetheless it was a date, of sorts... 9.30 for 10 a.m. sharp, so the Summons read, at the Magistrate's Sessions in the County Court Assizes. Jack arrived quite early that morning, clean shaven and sporting a fresh elastoplast in anticipation of an amicable tete'-a-tete' with the Plaintiff, before an equally amicable head-to-head with the Magistrate. Opting to conduct his own defence, the Court Usher finally summoned Jack, who was led under caution to the dock and... thirty minutes later... "Harrumph" the Justice cleared his throat for the final onslaught...
And what part of 'Drive-Carefully' the Magistrate spluttered, did Beamish not understand... that potholes were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented' preferably either side... and not pitched into, wildly on the nose... the disembodied shadow of deja-vu sat with its feet up on Jack's left shoulder munching away on a cheese and pickle in rye while it warmed to the idea of sticking the boot in, rather than use piddling small change... meanwhile sitting at a neighbouring table the bewildered Stenographer broke into her second mid-life crisis that morning which gave rise to further withering glares from the Clerk-to-the-Court as to where the precipitous mountain of bread crumbs, inexplicably cascading over the Courtroom Proceedings were coming from... and at what further point, the Magistrate shrieked, his eyes leaping out of his head as he lurched forward brandishing his gavel over the Bench, had Beamish failed to grasp the importance of the 'Highway Code...' someone was about to get the book thrown at him and as far as the Magistrate was concerned, the sole malcontent was Beamish.
Subsequent to the Magistrates final ruling Beamish was awarded a £15 endorsable fine, suspended until such time as Jack actually possessed a motorcycle licence of his own... and no, a television licence would not do, plus a further £15 for contempt of court... and the penalties went on... £15 for failure to display valid road tax... £15 for non compliance of mandatory motor vehicle indemnity... and that the Defendant should think himself lucky that the Petitioner did not wish to pursue the matter further... and it didn't stop there, he wasn't the registered keeper and he should have been, £15... driving without due care, £15 and attention... yet a further £15, Jack wished the Magistrate would stop stuttering and call an early recess for lunch as the gavel struck the block one last time... "SOLD", shouted Jack, to the gentleman with the rosy nos... "and another £15" screamed the red faced Beak as he tipped over backwards in his chair...
The barometer had been plummeting at breakneck speed since well before dawn, which Jack took to be a leisurely 11 a.m. going on noon and Beamish was doing what Beamish apparently did best... he was stood out in the rain... then paid a visit to the local theatrical costumier before calling upon a well known High Street retailer masquerading as the Gas-man and with a HB pencil poking out from behind his ear, how could Jack's infallible plan possibly fail.
Clawing his way through the vast labyrinth of cellars, only to emerge into the cheerless light of day under the pretence of having just read the gas meter, a heavily begrimed Beamish who, still incognito could be discovered sharpening his pencil while he queued in the staff canteen for the customary cup of tea, when... "oh" she said, "it's you again... I didn't know you worked for the Gas Board, I thought you were an assassin..." and "why are you covered in cobwebs... is it camouflage?" and that was it, the ice had been broken... her name it transpired was Jenny Bartleby, so the badge on her pinafore explained and that she'd obviously been playing Jack at his own game, now they could presumably go at it hammer and tongs from that moment on... and would she care for lunch, Jack's off-the-cuff invitation was hardly the offer of a lifetime but it sprang into action nonetheless... and had to be better than a Smokey Joe's stale cheese sandwich of previous acquaintance... while Jack was offering a freshly grated cheese and pickle sandwich with fries, the fact that she'd be making it herself Jack decided, was neither here nor there... If, she countered, if Beamish really wanted to show a girl a good time then he was going about it entirely the wrong way, if... he insisted on being such a cheapskate... then turned her attention to the back counter and started grating cheese.
"There's a vacant table in the corner" she said, "over by the window" pointing vaguely with her tray "we can sit there if you like", but there again if he didn't like, then that was just as good... he could simply leave... and no doubt bump into her at some future date should he fancy his chances at involving her in a second life threatening incident in which case her uncle, Magistrate and former top criminal advocate of 'Bartleby, Belladonna & Bromide', Barristers-at-Law whom Beamish, she was pleased to recall, had been formally introduced to during their previous skirmish, would be at no uncertain pains to ensure that he made every aspect Jack's life from that moment on a pure living Hell, as he systematically set about stripping him of every last brass farthing he possessed... Jack's undisclosed Cayman-islands bank account being no exception... Her uncle's predisposition for judicial larceny she firmly assured him, knew no bounds within the precedents of legal jurisprudence... and that she was currently employed if he really must know, choking back a giggle as she cleared her throat, by the local Municipal Constabulary... she dunked into a dollop of ketchup and nibbled thoughtfully on a fried chip, "working undercover" she explained, having the time of her life... "in the staff canteen as a freelance sous-chef operative," and that it was all very hush-hush stuff and would probably breach the Official Secrets Act were she to say more... and that if Beamish continued to break her cover as he had been doing of late and stuck his nose any further into matters that didn't concern him, then Jack's traumatised nasal membrane would shortly be submitting weekly time-sheets... which as luck would have it came tearing across the finishing line and took a triumphant first in Jack's personal top 100 most wanted... and that yes, leaning over and giving Jack a quick peck on the cheek, she would accept a drink after work... if Jack was paying.
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a work in progress... 7117