He'd been 'conceived' in Flamborough, so his sister assured him, some eleven summers ago, which was a tad hard for Rocky to swallow, she was a whole twelve months his junior... and then some... and at that age, well... what did she know, she was only a kid... "on this very rock" she insisted, a look of certainty plastered her face, "next to this very rock pool" that they were both sitting beside... "one sunny afternoon eleven years ago..." and that was how he came by the name of Rocky, she taunted as the rest of the lurid story unfolded... and that she had it all on the best possible authority... although the more she thought about it, had she meant 'concealed...' she wasn't quite sure now, it was all so very confusing at her tender age but thought it sounded near enough not to matter too much and that she would just wait and see which way the wind blew.
It was conceivably 'an ill wind that blew no one any good' that day, especially if you were a boy and just happened to be sat by a rock pool next to your little sister... Having just taken a well deserved drink from a neighbouring rock-pool, Sockeye, the floppiest springer spaniel this side of the Pecos, decided that he was going to dig a hole and that he would be digging it deep, then changed his mind mid-dig and decided to have a more down to earth back scratching session instead and promptly rolled over... life was sweet. Now covered from nose to tail with several interesting varieties of smelly seaweed and peppered with shards of deceased shell-life normally found hanging around the high water mark, Sockeye, in a moment of blinding inspiration of canine proportions, thought it would be a splendid idea and in everyone's best interests, were he to have a good shakedown, which always seemed to go down well about this time... and give all concerned a generous helping, just so they could see what exactly it was that they'd been missing all this time.
"A rock" of all places, "for goodness sakes..." and what's more, it was this rock, "Yuk..." he wiped the palms of his hands on the back of his jeans in disgust, then onto his tee-shirt, then explored his left nostril in quiet contemplation... before jambing his hands back into his pockets... what in Heaven's name had his parents been thinking of..? what on earth was his little sister talking about..? and more to the point, what in fact did conceived mean..? these were the questions that were uppermost in Rocky's mind as he poked an exploratory stick into the rock pool... a baby crab, marooned by the tide, scampered sideways beneath a large pebble and stuck one beady eye out at him... Rocky's sister, seemingly in a world of her own, much like the baby crab, sat on the edge of the noteworthy rock kicking her heels, an innocent smile curled the corners of her mouth as she quietly hummed a little song of tuneful bliss, chewing over what further mischief she could possibly pass her brothers way.
Rocky tossed a lump of driftwood over his sisters shoulder at a nearby colony of seagulls, squabbling over what appeared to be an abandoned bag of fish and chips... Sockeye, simply knowing that his little master wanted to play a game of fetch, gambolled after the stick, his ears blowing courageously in the wind and bounded, amid a melee of feathers into their midst, only to romp back moments later, the stick all but forgotten in the excitement, but now proudly sporting the derelict bag of leftovers... and the odd splash of guano, his tail lolloping about from side to side... and for the moment at least, leaving the poor seagulls wheeling noisily overhead and to go about their business without further interruption... as for Sockeye, it had been a no contest situation.
After fourteen years of valiant endeavour, his father... Red, so named for his vivid shock of wiry hair, was still engaged in man's eternal struggle to win his significant other half's approbation with the manful art of deck-chair construction, beach barbeque and other significant gentlemanly pursuits, all while strutting his manly stuff, sporting top of the range beach wear in accordance with the social etiquette of the previous decade... his masculine paunch slumped gallantly atop the waistband...
After the same fourteen terms of domestic servitude and the same thirteen identically forgotten anniversary cards, a certain someone had no intention of allowing another certain someone to forget so much as one of them... His better half, so she insisted, would administer her own daily brand of rough justice at every given opportunity, in much the same way that you'd brandish a royal-flush on poker night... or better still, a loaded gun... and that she personally carried the burden of every ill-fated card that Lady Luck had dealt, strung about her neck like Adam's original sin on Judgement Day.
Red much preferred the shorter, more condensed name of Rock for his son, rather than the longer, more protracted Rocky, as he struggled with the wood and canvas lounger, badly trapping the fleshier part of his thumb in the process "Aaargh...!!!" and plunged his throbbing hand deep into the cold, soothing rockpool, "aaah...!!!" Still marooned by the tide, the little crab stood poised and ready for action as it considered giving this latest intrusion a good nip, then hang on for dear life as it gave Red the final withering once over with the same baleful eye it had successfully wielded earlier.
Meanwhile, his long suffering wife went along with the ritual of giving him the perfunctory grunt of clinical compassion as she rummaged for the thermos-flask. She wasn't too fussed one way or the other about anybody's thumb right now, especially his... no matter how you sliced the cake, it was always just as messy... whilst Tina, was just plain worn-out... but still rejoiced in telling anyone who cared to lend a sympathetic ear in that direction... and who in turn was quite prepared to listen to all the woes of others, which went somewhere along the lines of... 'and had she heard any more gossip about poor Mrs. Dorey's lingering martyrdom recently, you know, the downtrodden lady who lives in the next street but one... and how they would all miss her when she was gone and how she couldn't wait... and as rumour would have it, neither could her husband...'
Tina, feigning to be otherwise engaged, as her husband, now blowing frantically on his embarrassment, tripped over the half erected lounger and fell backwards into the hole so recently excavated by Sockeye, his wife, proclaiming complete disassociation, plunged her nose deeper into the library book she'd purposely brought on holiday for just such an occasion, making it perfectly clear to all and sunder, that she was a tourist and furthermore, planned to continue with the same sentiment once they returned home and that while she was here, she did not, under any circumstances wish to be disturbed, the notice was clearly displayed, hanging on the door handle... but that if she were, then whoever it was, did so at their own peril... and she was keeping score... although a trapped thumb she thought, with the same roguish smile curling the corners of her mouth, as the one normally found playing on her daughter's... was equally as heart warming.
All Tina wanted was one week of uninterrupted peace and quiet in Flamborough, preferably with the family 'out' from under her feet, then spend what might pass for several undisturbed hours sitting quietly by the rock-pool, comparing notes on eye makeup and the feminine merits of pedicure with the little crab who, still marooned by the tide, was now sat busily knitting in the rock-pool, but that was only if a certain person... a shrill "AAaargh...!!!" more desperate than the first, thrust itself upon the, as yet unaggressive afternoon as it gyrated to-and-fro across the warm rock and beyond... 'now where was she', twisting her book uppermost 'oh yes..! someone was going to pay... only now it was going to be sooner, rather than later', but only if that certain person couldn't finish the seating arrangements before the Sun disapeared, apparently forever and drifted into some backstreet tea-room before all the lemon cheesecake sold-out, or was that she reflected, just simply too much to ask.
It was his surname that Rock found so objectionable, more appetising were it slapped between two slices of bread and butter and then while no one was looking, passed down to Sockeye, who's solemn duty every mealtime was to gaze beseechingly up from beneath the kitchen table, from the first mouthful to the very last and woof down anything that came his way in just about zip seconds flat, even the postman didn't get diplomatic immunity... especially the postman... Sockeye would just smack his lips and help himself to seconds.
As a matter of interest, for the last fourteen years all Rocky's mum had done was think about seconds... every last one of them, since she'd suffered the unfortunate mental aberration which had deprived her of the use of her maiden name of Chovey, to that of Salmon and how looking back, she should have taken an Aspirin instead, wedlock she asserted, was everything that it claimed to be and was without doubt the worst move she'd ever made... and what's more, was seen as a bad move in whoever's wedding album you just happened to be paying condolences to.
Rocky would never be so fortunate on that score, unlike his sister he was stuck with Salmon for good. His grandma-Ann by all accounts, had been dead set against the union from the word 'go' and always saw his father as someone who would always be out of his depth, thrashing around in the deep end, swimming against the tide, rather than going with the flow... and it appeared that Rock, already eleven years into a life sentence, was about to flounder in the same murky undertow as the rest of the Salmon family, only he couldn't swim.
"There"! her husband exclaimed in dubious delight, "all finished... better late than never, eh, who fancies trying it"? his wife lingered over the words 'better late' and wondered whether her new earrings, her latest acquisition, would complement formal mourning attire. Red dusted off the palms of his hands with the certain knowledge of a job well done and took one step back, looking with justifiable pride at the outcome of his manly exertions of the previous two hours, this is what holidays are all about he thought, one man pitted against all odds... His wife meanwhile was getting to grips with more odds of her own than you could safely expect to shake a stick at... her husband being one of them.
Having finally gathered her offspring together, with promises of physical injury if they didn't... and finished packing the beach-bag, Tina finally discovered Sockeye peering out from the shade of an adjacent rock, wisps of seagull feathers cheekily poking out from either corner of his mouth, his tail beating a mischievous tattoo on the ground and who further considered in one more dazzling blaze of inspiration as Tina attempted to slip on his collar, that a game of tag would just about round the day off nicely... and then devoted the next ten minutes pursuing him amid an unrestrained salvo of cheering and clowning about from the rest of the family... then finally bid goodbye to the little crab, who waved a friendly claw in her direction and hoped that it wouldn't have too long to wait for the next rising tide back home, then slid off the rock with a corrosive... "the deck-chair attendant would have assembled them" she snapped, "for an extra sixpence" and "don't forget the deposit when you take them back" then double checking that she landed squarely on his foot, she marched past, her floral sun hat jammed resolutely on her head at what she considered to be a jaunty angle, with her equally jaunty, angular children scrambling in hot pursuit, back in the direction of their lodgings.
"Woof "..? said a confused Sockeye, bringing them all to an abrupt halt... and with four paws the size of place-mats, he wasn't going anywhere he didn't want to... he hunkered down with a look of hurtful accusation upon his face, "oh yes you are my lad"! said his mistress, "I've met your sort before", and knew exactly where to stick her dainty size-5, as Sockeye, digging his heals in for the duration, created swathes of canine furrows up the beach, leaving her husband, the unwitting recipient, and in sole possession of the overlooked guest-house keys... and somewhat resigned in having to clean up his own masculinity and disassemble the freshly erected but recently redundant deck-chairs... she'd had quite enough for one day, thank you very much.
Morning register was always the worst he thought, as they trooped back along the shingle beach, Rock, making surprisingly good furrows of his own... but the rest of the class loved it and saw it as the highlight of each day... Rocky's form teacher, despite forcing a brave face, was always hard pressed to avoid bursting into hysterics every time she worked her way down the register to the letter 'S' and would attempt to bypass it altogether, jumping from 'R' to 'T' and just prayed that no one else had noticed, but it hadn't taken the class very long... somewhat less than a heartbeat in fact... to point out her oversight and... "please Miss, we haven't had Salmon all week", whereupon Rock would elbow the lad sat at the next desk to him, firmly in the ribs... and promptly get one hundred lines for his trouble... thank goodness it was school holidays. Why couldn't they have been given respectable names like Seymour Legge, Rock wondered, who sat over by the window or perhaps the teachers pet, Anna Prentice or even, Robyn Banks at a pinch, but definitely not what they'd been given and certainly not Salmon, they were the most hilariously hideous names he could imagine and if someone was looking down on them right now he thought... then they had a very unique sense of humour indeed and Rock said so... "why" his little sister asked sweetly, "whats wrong with River Salmon".
... ... ...
(A work in progress and definitely subject to alteration.)
Henrietta Hobble holds up the night,
With her big Teddy Bear, and a Daisy night light.
Calmly and simply, she sings in her play,
While resolutely putting her play things away.
And just before Henrietta hears the Centerville Bell
That rings through her town saying everything's well,
She will fluff that one pillow where she'll soon rest her head,
And then say her wee prayers at the foot of her bed.
There she'll quietly spy the bright stars from her room,
And play hide-and-seek by the light of the moon.
And then tiptoe discreetly to her Momma's delight,
Softly kissing her Mother and Father goodnight.
Copyright © 2011 Richard D. Remler
'Always kiss your children goodnight, even
if they're already asleep.'
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
It made no sense then
and still I'm at a lack.
Those days I'd read and fall asleep,
take the cheap warmth of the sun on my cheeks
(and literacy) for granted, then
wake to a sunburn on my back.
Aloe evenings, peeling loose skin
revealing goose-flesh, feeling foolish
again, by my garden
on my deck
off my guard
Heck, this is only one instance where I had chills that summer
Another was under the orange glow of a poorly funded lighthouse,
Us there - just sitting - perched
on my car, parked
West River lay ahead and below -
Behind were the kinds of smiles and glances
people give before they know
each other and the chances
of where they both may go
I took my time
not giving a damn
despite the dame's insistence
on a kiss the tourist's planned -
Too many instants
spent looking, fearing leaping
Alas, a tour de farce?
Thanks to pop-rocks when our lips touched
we chuckled at the sparks
Then my loss of control
Utterly unable to console
Is it any wonder the cunning fox we saw just wandered home?
With this rhetoric I am ready to admit that
I lack(ed) certainty
Was the mist real or is't only foggy in my memory?
In hindsight I do mind causing pain
Though my brain,
it sure likes hurting me
À l'acadie we go
My ego can't stand seein' ya
so the strained "Hello" is ignored -
Please impale it on the sword
of vanity and estrangement!
As I sway toward derangement
or insanity, I lurch forward
Need to learn to curb these feelings
to watch out for those of others
As the sun or lighthouse over us
this message resolutely hovers:
I can hurt
In response to " Holy unto a follower. Im not a follower” written by Y C Pturd.
Your publically written answer not looking decisively and resolutely because so many presumptions and misinterpretation you made without any awareness, information and facts, you try to mold things in favor of you or may someone who are misguided people. In support of my answer I just give few references from your “Holy unto a follower. Im not a follower”
You said “The term "Holy" only proceeds a text if you follow.”
And in addition:
To a Christian the bible is "Holy" To you it is a book
This is completely wrong and shows your incompetency and lack of knowledge because we do respect of all HOLY BOOKS revealed by GOD (ALLAH).
You intentionally written “Quoran” instead of “Quran”
I have indicated you the correct spelling “Quran” through message but your evil desire showed by writing wrong spelling deliberately just for a reason to hurt.
Further you said “So don't try to impose your religious ideology”
Here you try to manipulated things and try to build self image about your so called ideology, my message was quite clear: We believe in freedom even complete freedom of expression but not at a cost of disrespect of someone beliefs.
You added “Not to convert to Islam with you”
Here your evil desire shows because here I never ever try to convert someone why do I do that, Islam is the religion of GOD (ALLAH) and people accept it willingly not by coercion, because it is true religion of GOD. If any significant evidence and proof of converting someone so come up with that I will address it.
You mentioned “Learn some tolerance for others who write”
In my message “The Message” clearly mentioned we are not against anyone and any beliefs, and Peace and Justice Are Our Strengths. In my eyes people work are highly valued but if it is not based on hatred and against someone and not disrespecting any beliefs.
At the end I want to say here it is not against you and any person this is just for responding the “Holy unto a follower. Im not a follower”.
A white hot flame.
And the bright red vein,
To a heart,
Of stone grey.
The vast blue sea.
Those forbidden memories,
In inky dark corners,
Of my mind.
I falter again,
Then resolutely throw,
The loaded dice of,
And resume the game,
Of forgetting February.
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 still hung heavy, dominating the late afternoon sky, a skyline broken only by smoke filled chimney pots and the tangled snarl of television aerials.
The once busy street was fast emptying now, the lure of shop windows no longer enticed as local traders closed their premises to the oncoming night. Solitary lampposts curved off into the distance, casting little more than watered pools mirrored in the gutter below, only the occasional stranger scurrying home on a rain swept afternoon, the 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 he thought, 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 promise of a badly needed cuppa' and stale cheese sandwich. The subtle legacy of lunchtime fish and chips still lingered in the air, his stomach rumbled, there was little chance of a fish supper for Jack 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, he flicked the Ronson and cupped the 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... Jack Beamish ~ Private Investigator'... It was a real mouthful by any stretch of the imagination and shot every vestige of credulity straight out of his upstairs bedroom window and nominate itself for a prodigious award in the New Year honours list. Having once acted for a well known purveyor of pickled condiments who just happened to brandish the self same patronage emblazoned on their extensive range of relish as the one that Jack had recently purloined from them, a paid commission no less, which by Jack's understanding had made him, albeit temporary in nature, an employee of the company... therefore, if they could display the auspicious emblem, then according to Jack's infallible logic, so could he and that he would be only too happy to take the matter up with them at any time of their choosing, except a week next Tuesday... pistols or swords at dawn, it didn't really matter. His 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 the name '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 he had to admit, they still invariably did. He would often catch them wagging an accusing finger or two in his direction, with such platitudes as "watch out where you put your foot, that Jack's a right shamus". Beamish also reckoned that the name had scraped him out of more tight corners over the years than he cared to remember, but that wouldn't be quite true either, in his line of work, the name actually dropped him in them more often than not.
A cold shiver ran down his spine as the most recent neural brain activity crossed from one side of his mind to the other... another one quickly followed, that caused them both to short circuit 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 back into the shadow he shook his fedora, 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 that you might slip back on discarded banana peelings, then some recollection, or in Jack's case the pavement, would suddenly jump up and give the back of his head a resoundingly good buffeting and tell him to "stop loafing around in office hours... or else" and drag him, albeit kicking and screaming, back to the 20th century. This type of mental assault and battery helped Jack to while away the time until his next cigarette, cup of tea, or the last bus home. His capacity to endure this mind numbing tedium called for nothing less than sheer bloody pigheadedness 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 hard earned green shield stamps along the way. While he was with the Police Constabulary, it was only fair to stress the word 'with' as opposed to the word 'in', although now he came to think 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 or other that had quite slipped his mind for the moment. Throughout this enforced leisure period, he'd read the entire abridged,Pulitzer prize editions of Kilroy, exhibited in what passed locally as the next best thing to the Tate gallery and whereupon it hadn't taken Jack very long to realise that it was always a good place to start if you wanted free breakfast, the bill of fare together with other mind stretching works of graffiti 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 very competitive, he knew that potential clients found it bewildering when grappling with the unplumbed depths of his sliding scale of extraneous expenses, which tended to fluctuate with the unpredictability of the weather, what side of the bed Jack had kicked his slippers the night before or what overheads he just happened to be juggling with at the time. The rest of his agenda revolved around a little self-righteous moonlighting, in fact he'd happily consider just about anything to make ends meet, short of extortion, which was the very word that prospective clientele would use after Jack had calmly brushed off any concerns they may have had over the elasticity of his daily stipend and that they should remain assured at all times while gathering their culinary wits about them and simply look upon it as the pliability of kneading dough which was exactly the thick wedge of granary loaf that Jack had firmly in his mind to carve.
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, at 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 had come 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 affection to Jack's trouser leg than anything that could be had from nosing around the dustbins that day, some days you're the dog Beamish muttered 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, the smell of wet dog pervaded the air as an abundance of secondhand rainwater flew in all directions. Pricking up one ear as though showing concern, he briefly looked up at Jack before turning and snuffling off, nose resolutely to the pavement, diligently picking out what few washed-out scents that still remained, the little stalwart renewed its search for scraps, or perhaps making his way to some dry seclusion known only to itself.
Two hours later and Beamish poured himself beneath the door of the nearest public house SPLOSH, the puddle squelched over to the telephone 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 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 apparel, a recently saturated Beamish, working on the principle that a little eavesdropping was his stock-in-trade, engaged instinct into overdrive and casually motored over in that general direction. They were clearly regulars by the way one of them belched loudly in a taken-aback sort of way. Jack fumbled around in the dark for awhile, then finding the switch, he turned on a little of the 'old Beamish special' he'd managed to pick up years before from a casual acquaintance of his second cousin, three times removed, shortly after returning from an extended visit to the old country... winkle picking... and was now at pains to put names to a few blank yet friendly questions he' been meaning to ask, such as why had he bothered to get out of bed that morning, all of which were met with equally friendly but totally disinterested answers... and would Jack care for a game of dominoes, if so, would he be so good as to pay the returnable deposit... Jack declined. 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 drink, which some recently obliging regular had taken the trouble to drink for him, the landlady gave him a knowing look, Beamish grinned, so did the landlady.
From the licenced premises opposite, a myriad of jostling customers piled through the door, business was picking up, the sudden influx quickly persuaded Jack to retire from the bar and find a vacant table. Sitting, he moved several abandoned crisp packets, only to discover a now unfilled ashtray, by sleight of hand the Ronson appeared. 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 nourishing offer as being far too extravagant and with the corner of yesterdays beer mat, flipped the offending organism from the top of his glass and carefully inspected the drink for debris as he did so.
A sudden draught and clip of stilletto 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, his surreptitious lady-friend decked in coney, cheap perfume and a surfeit of bling proclaimed a not too infrequent assignation. He'd seen it all before, an over attentive manner and the band of white Sun-starved skin recently hidden behind a now absent wedding token. It was the type of assignment he didn't much care for, the discreet unobtrusive tail, the candid snapshot through half closed curtains and the all too frequent steak tartare for the all too frequent black eye.
To the untrained eye, the prospect of Jack's long anticipated supper was rapidly dwindling, when it suddenly focused with renewed vigour upon the contents of a pickled egg jar he'd noticed earlier, lurking on the back counter, his intention swiftly deminished however, as one of the regular customers procured the final two remnants of 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 wondered ironically, still had an empty stomach. Disillusioned, he finished his drink and considered a further sortie with the taxicab company.
"FIVE-BOB" Jack screamed... you could have sliced the air with a cheese grater, and that the cabbie should be thankful that they weren't both stretched out on a marble slab. Bouncing off the kerb like a fairground attraction was not Jack's idea of a practical joke... no, "and exploding tyres" he frothed, "should be outlawed in whatever coronary thrombosis you chose" as a further tirade of neurotic ambiance filled the cab, the cab driver wondered whether he should charge extra for the additional space it was taking, "a dulcet hiss" Jack explained as calmly as he could, at the top of his voice "would have been far more melodic... death by kerbstone" and what part of the expression 'drive-carefully' did the cabbie not understand and that pavements were there to be driven between, preferably on the left... and not veered into, regrettably on the right... a sensation of foreboding, somewhat similar to the Angel of Death waiting to swoop, hovered above Jack's head, and at what further point, Jack shrieked, his eyes almost popping out of his head as he shook his fist in the cabbies face, had he failed to grasp the importance of the expression 'steering-wheel'... somebody wanted horse whipping and as far as Beamish was concerned, the prime contender was the cab driver...
In having a somewhat sedate disposition and unruffled temperament, 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 risk to himself, he might add, alert other road users of the whole wretched business. Performing acrobatic evolutions in the middle of the road while frantically jumping up and down, waving his arms at every passing motorist like a man possessed was not Jack's idea of a leisure pursuit... and why he wondered, why had such a large number of them gestured back in semaphore... Still ranting, he bounced up and down, head and shoulders jammed firmly through the sliding glass partition and into the face of the cabbie, "who" Beamish screeched with renewed vigour, "who was the man" Jack wanted to know "and who"... the cab driver thought his fare was asking far too many questions as he continued manicuring his nails... whistling, "who risked his neck for brother man", before finally managing to flag down an AA patrol motorcycle, only to discover that the cab driver wasn't a member, who's fault was that, Jack screamed... and that he had choice words to say if ever he crossed that motor mechanic again, that definitely was not the salute he was supposed to give. Anyway, Jack had no intention of paying and said as much and as for a gratuity, no-ooo that didn't bare thinking about, he'd sooner have his left leg chewed off by a passing aardvark, no... it was the taxi company who should be paying Jack, danger money and lots of it... With a wounded look on his face he stormed out of the cab and up the garden path, then stormed back down again and informed his erstwhile recent antagonist that he'd by no means finished before storming back, this time up his own garden path, leaving a red faced cabbie, subdued and spluttering in sheer bewilderment.
Fumbling for his keys Jack let himself in, and promptly stumbled over that weeks correspondence and the undisputed welterweight champion of the golden robe, spiteful cat award, who, having recently taken a fancy to basking on top and who, incensed by this latest intrusion, flew full across the carpet and recoilling off the wall, hurtled straight back, a malicious ball of barbs and razor wire. In fending off with only minor blood-loss his second contender of the evening, Jack noticed his slipper, the other as he recalled was still in the kitchen where he'd dropped it earlier that morning, it being worn at the time by a bluebottle, the insect had been bouncing against the window so frenzied, like a fly in a jam-jar, presumably wishing to let itself out and take the morning air, that it cracked ... strangely enough so did the window, at precisely the same moment that the slipper stopped winging its way across the kitchen. Cheerfully, Jack scraped the offending blowfly into the peddle-bin, 'game, set and match'.
He'd had a restless night, insomnia didn't help, neither did the bedside alarm clock. A suggestion that it grow wings and take flight appealed to Jack as he pictured it touching down 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 heady, 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 recent, yesterday had been no exception... he'd had his fair share of run-ins with cabbies before now, strong ones, but last night really took the biscuit and that Jack would be offering the cab manager a tasty mouthful of it later... As the rain finally stopped, so the incessant chatter of the dawn chorus began, Jack screamed... so did the alarm clock, the day began.
Like most others, the day started badly, it witnessed a very exasperated Beamish wrangling on the telephone, being harassed as it happened by the taxicab manager, not 'the' taxicab manager Jack might add, whose company logo he'd completely forgotten to take note of the night before, but the wrong taxicab manager. The company who directory enquires utterly failed to locate for the most obvious of reasons, he didn't have the 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 sure to return Jack's call with the mystic number, or perhaps he would prefer telepathy instead, and that the choice was his... Beamish thanked her for her professional sarcasm and suggested that she might consider a career change. He 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. Dusting off the palms of his hands, he 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... Not 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 bobcap accessories, but rather a 'sugar yer own tea' with a spoon on a chain, screwed firmly 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...
The lack of ashtrays... the absence of which, implied exploiting the linoleum to its fullest advantage, lent a certain minimalist feel to the premises, cosy but austere, and which exhibited 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 joint washing facilities were just as individual, giving off the robust 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 issued from some undisclosed region as a further donation of cigarette ash, now reunited with its siblings, was to be found skinny-dipping in the murkier depths of the recently unwashed frying pan. He was a man of relatively large and oily circumference, the few hairs still remaining were hastily groomed and held in place with some vestige you might unearth in the greasier recesses of the peddle-bin. Still in bedroom slippers, his ongoing distinctiveness was further marked by a deficiency of soap powder and the jaunty demeanour of his string vest, it was his legs however, festooned in snappy, a-la-mode dog-tooth check that finally brought the stunning ensemble to a breathtaking conclusion.
Whilst Jack waited in line to be glared at and have his order ignored in a, 'if it ain't up on the wall chum, then we ain't gorrit' and have a tired sandwich, not necessarily of his own choosing, thrown at him for good measure, he considered that the previous mornings bluebottle would really have brought the house down, what you might call 'cabaret en-croute', and with the ambiance of a smoke filled jazz cellar, the venue would've caused eruptions in British 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, even as he spoke, was striking some new and exclusive rites-of-passage with The Almighty and could be launching its debut appearance in the Performing Arts as soon as a week next Tuesday or as long as the gestation period allowed, Jack speculated as to whether it would need a manager or not, one that was worldly wise in ways of the slipper...
The day, pretty much like any other, flowed onwards and outwards, from sewer to the sea... from that mornings gazette to a clients bad debt. Drowning his sorrows further, Jack tucked into a high-tea of best bitter and various salted snacks. The previous evenings taxicab number displayed by the telephone had now mysteriously vanished and despite Jack's furious mutterings and incantations of a cabalistic nature, had no intention of reappearing. Its disappearance troubled Beamish and seemed to have gone full circle, it bore many similarities to his own long overdue expenses, which had never actually materialised at all, apparently choosing to bunk off and go join the circus.
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 might be called a whirlpool of depression you would normally associate with the BBC shipping forecast for Viking, Cromarty and Rockall. Today was one such maelstrom, which to its credit was taking squarely on the chin, every weather-beaten punch the sky could 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 race meeting had witnessed the worst turnout since records began, the outside camera crews, refusing to leave the mobile studio and put in an appearance, threatened work-to-rule with menaces and not too dissimilar to the weather, lightening strikes, opting instead to play five's and three's over a hot mug of Bovril and toasted crumpets. The going had been soft-to-poor the previous day, then rallying its forces throughout the following 24 hours to become what could very easily be mistaken for quagmire-to-quicksand. This should have spurred the promoters to throw in the towel and abandon the race meeting outright, but the event, not wishing to be outdone by the weather was fast evolving into an outtake of the Oxford boat race and had every intention of crossing the finishing line nothing short of level pegging.
The final event was coming under starters orders, having made one breathtaking loss after another, 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-an-outstanding-spectacle..." and so on. It had been a fun filled day, Jack thought, just one great whopping success story after another, Jack felt certain the same sentiments were leaping through the jockeys mind as the stretcher bearers carted him off towards the St. John's ambulance tent. The horse meanwhile, playing up to the crowd and his newly acquired fan base, gambolled off in a frolicsome, catch-me-if-you-can, way, in the general direction of a brisk rub down and a well earned nosebag, prior to a little extracurricular veterinary horseplay... his handlers sliding in hot pursuit. Jack tore up his betting slip... Jack tore it up some more and littered the visitors paddock with it, as it floated away, you could almost catch it gurgling a cheerful tune to itself, 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 manner in which the client clutched at Jack's collar, Beamish wished him bonne-chance and to remain assured during this troubled time, that should Jack be of any further assistance in shouldering his clients burden in the foreseeable future, then he should be sure to seize the moment, not too dissimilar to Jack's collar, with both hands 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 showed 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 decided for the umpteenth time and in looking upon every fat pocketbook that fell by the wayside as a potential source of unearned income, a good Samaritan would be offering no disservice in casting the first stone and unload the straw that broke the camels back, giving the poor defenceless animal a helping shove so to speak, head first through the eye of the proverbial needle and straight into Jack's personal 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 intemperate epiglottis could ever be prevailed upon to imbibe. Of all the work related beverages or plum pies for that matter, that Jack had his thumbs well and truly stuck into... up to the elbows in fact... was one five-star hors-d'oeuvre which made a point of muddying up his clients tracks to the consistency of mulligatawny and then while everyone was running around in circles, chasing after their own soup spoons, Jack would sneak up when no one was looking and ambush his clients fiscal embarrassment or bailiff related tariff and send all future incriminating disbursements scurrying for cover in the direction of Jack's Cayman-islands tax haven...
Were it not for his keen sense of business acumen and a British sense of fair play, Jack could almost feel sorry for his clients, so sorry in fact, that for a mere trifle, currently running at fifteen above cost of living... 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 see this as skimming cream from the top, but rather as breaking into dairy farming 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!!! ... he couldn't get that infernal song out of his head "...no more, no more, no more, no more..." parity in motion, Jack thought, man and machine in harmony, moving as one... slow but cheap... Twisting his ankle on the kick-start had been comparatively easy, if not painful, compared to the complexity of vaulting on and off without triggering the ejector seat, which was also painful and which, "Hit the road Jack and..." Beamish decided, after taking the back out of his second pair of trousers that morning, "...don't you come back no moooore" it wailed... badly needed screwing down, "What you say..?" One hour and an entirely different song later, having explored the extensive array of oil leaks, which by Jack's reckoning contributed a fair slice towards a healthy profit margin of the Suez Petro-Chemical Industry, financing ten glorious fun packed seconds in the royal suits of RMS Queen Mary.
She'd been popping in and out of Jack's head for sometime now, in much the same way as a next door neighbour might pop in to borrow a cup of sugar, she could have kept the sugar bowl and the china tea service that went with it, as long as Jack got an invitation to coffee morning... when unexpectedly, out of the corner of one eye, she stood as if in a golden haze by the side of the road, arms firmly crossed, her countenance, reflected a look of disdain comparable to that of freshly chisled granite, her dainty foot tapping out a military tattoo, quick time... 'SMACK...' with utter contempt for the Highway Code, which by the way, Jack didn't have the foggiest, a speeding wasp slammed straight into the corner of his other eye. Having suddenly been given freedom from all restraint, the handlebars, now wobbling at ten to the dozen, took on a life like quality of their own... Just where were the Police when you needed them, Jacks frantic mind demanded to know, he would be pressing charges, then decided that, no he would not, he didn't hold a licence, he violently wobbled some more... and wasn't taxed... or insured, but it was most certainly hit and run.
As a matter of some interest and so as not to get too bogged down at this point, Jack had absolutely no control whatsoever over the chain of events that were raining down about his ears that afternoon, nor did he feel anything other than sheer abject terror as the moped bowled into the nearest pothole and performed the nasal vasectomy, bringing tears to Jack's eyes as it shot him over the top, Aaaargh... nor indeed the prodigious feats of derring-do as he selflessly put the welfare of his laundry above those of himself, but it was Jack's unrehearsed double axel as he cartwheeled through the air in a majestic tangle that finally swept her, albeit head on, completely off her feet, after all, how could a girl possibly refuse.
The moped received best overall score for freestyle jive and amid a standing ovation at first curtain call, performed double back somersaults down the road as encore... If nothing else Jack thought, it was certainly a talking point, something to while away the long Winter evenings, time would simply fly by... "Dello", a nasally challenged Beamish sniffed, "wodda lubly subrize, vancy meedin ooo agaid do dood", he squeezed out his tie by way of a chat up line and dabbed his oozing nose with it, thinking it far more prudent to wear kid-gloves and use the softly softly approach rather than offer to shake hands and make amends... and no doubt be on the receiving end of a black eye for his trouble, "do ooo dum ere ovden" he continued bashfully, as in a last ditch attempt to impress the object of his affections, Jack was going all out to kick the dislocated parts of his current mode of embarrassment discreetly out of sight under the tarmac.
("hello" ... "what a lovely surprise, fancy meeting you again so soon" ... "do you come here often")
YES!!! he'd finally done it, the Sun was out and it was shining firmly down on Beamish. It wasn't quite the cosy 'Mills and Boon' coffee morning Jack had envisaged... true, nor even a romantic 'Allison and Busby' bag of chips to go, shared on a balmey Summers evening, but non-the-less it was a date... 9.30 for 10am at the Magistrate sessions in the County Court Assizes. Jack arrived quite early that morning, clean shaven and sporting a freshly applied elastoplast in anticipation of an affectionate tete'-a-tete' with the petitioner, before an equally amicable head-to-head with the Magistrate. Opting to conduct his own defence, the usher eventually summoned Jack, who was led to the dock like a frisky lamb to the slaughter, all bleat and fetlock... Thirty minutes later and... Harrumph, the Justice cleared his throat for the final onslaught, warts n' all... and what part of the word 'drive-carefully' the Magistrate finally spluttered as calmly as he could, at the top of his voice... did Beamish not understand and that potholes were there to be bypassed, nay circumvented, preferably on the left... and not veered into, regrettably on the nose... an eerie sensation of deja-vu permeated the air as the Angel of Death, still patiently hovering, finally swooped in for the kill ... and at what further point, the Magistrate shrieked, his eyes almost popping out of his head as he shook his gavel in Jack's direction, had he failed to grasp the importance of the word 'avoid-at-all-costs'... someone was about to get the book thrown at them and as far as the Magistrate was concerned, the prime defendant was Beamish.
Subsequent to the magistrates final summing up, Beamish was awarded a £15 endorsable fine, suspended until such time as Jack actually possessed a motorcycle or drivers licence of his own... and no, a television licence would not do, plus a further £15 for contempt of court... and the list 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 fortunate that the plaintiff 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 additional £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 Beak as he fell head over tip, backwards in his chair...
The barometer had been falling at breakneck speed since dawn, which Jack normally assumed to be a leisurely 11am going on noon and Beamish was doing what Beamish did best... well, second best actually, he'd been making enquiries in pursuance of his incumbency, although leaning on a few people would have been closer to the bone and eventually scraped together sufficient moxie to visit the local theatrical costumier and call upon a certain ladies employer under the guise of the gas man and with an HB pencil tucked behind his right ear, how could the plan possibly fail. Having read the meters, Jack finally clawed his way back from the underworlds nether regions, snapping his new pencil along the way, then queued in the cafeteria 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, they could go hammer and tongs at it from now to eternity... and would she care for lunch, it was far better than packed cheese sandwiches any day and Jack was offering cheese sandwich and chips... if Beamish really wanted to show a girl a good time she intimated, then that was just fine by her, if he insisted on being such a cheapskate... then turned back to the 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 that if he didn't like, then that was just as ok by her as well, he could simply go... and that she would no doubt bump into him the next time he involved her in another near fatal road accident, in which case her uncle, Magistrate and former Barrister, who Beamish, she was pleased to recall with the most endearing, malicious snarl illuminating her face, had been formally introduced to during their previous encounter, would make sure that Jack's feet didn't so much as touch the floor as he systematically stripped him of every last brass farthing that he possessed... Jack's undisclosed Cayman-islands bank account included... Her uncle's predisposition for judicial larceny she firmly assured him, knew no bounds within the precedents of 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 the dollop of ketchup and nibbled thoughtfully on a fried chip, working undercover 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 lately and stuck his nose any further into matters that didn't concern him, then Jack's recently overworked sinus's would very shortly be working overtime and submitting additional weekly time-sheets... and that yes, giving Jack a quick peck on the cheek... she would accept a quick drink after work, if Jack was paying...
... ... ...
A work in progress...
The dead end road
Where all is told
And you know I hate to say
That I told you so
Can you see me
Through that white picket fence?
I swear to God
I'm really not that dense
There's a place for you
And there's a place for me
But what you don't know
Has already set me free
No, no quite alone
Each measure of tissue
Is one of unwanted bone
So the sewn see themselves
But I've got their key
And trust me
There's no reason for them
To get so fussy
Crown jewels atop
The wooden table masterpiece
I ask for nothing in return
For my eternal sufferings
Yet I see all that can be in front
Of me when the music roars
For the soaring tongue tied mad
Press their fingers to the pad
Fingers bleeding for the needing
To press is easily an antidote to
No longer repress as the next kin
All wrapped up in infinities Win
Makes sure the labeled Sin dances
With dull eyes drunk off the night sky
And as I sit the liquored up smoke
Fresh off the nicotine fix
Floats to heaven as the seven ladies
Of wonder and plunder
Wash their eyes as their own prize
Making them lift things
They denied in shadowed wish
Two tell me something
I know nothing of
Would be a gift worth listening
Every syllable off the mouth & page
Sends the paige to the wine dark room
So oh' so soon they realize
That their prize is really
Just the same as mine
Cast me out far from the coral reef docks
My mind is tight and my heart is indefinitely locked
My hands rest smooth upon the hands of the clock
Each life grows to fight the inevitable stop
Can I hold true to myself here?
Where is the naked End?
There is a praise inside of
Far from reach of rhyme and form
Yet the feeling of the norm resonates so resolutely
And still something feels like wicked pollution
There is a spray of virgin blood upon the battlefield
Who really knows when in time who invented the wheel?
We have our customs and we have our ways
And really who in the end is who to say
That is wrong and that should be cast everlasting in Song?
Dante danced dutifully
He said what he wanted
Without fear of the Pen
I will cry when Dylan dies
Ashamed when the praise of the worldly class
listnes tosos the numbers press up front of the teruqlia stilled numbers
Of obsididan housese knpown for the since of Presnt himps and the arabian
To tell the noon of the high seas so I see what you need until it presses HER face to
Mine and I see it and YOU SEE IT
aWHERERE in turn
the babifailnight sky showe the horiozon
But press me
See past the fright of what I'm supposed to be
Beacuse I have no positive faith in the suystem at hands
MAKE ME BLEED
SHOW MY WORTH
IN BODILY FORM
Swimming atop stars shining in
I see Marilyn nude
And all the praise for Her
That was so and justly due
I Have My Heart
I have my Breath
I'll push them
I end them
When that will be
I just can't guess it
The sidewalk cramps me
As the stamp ever-lasts me
We are all so scared
But when the light reaches
The nectar of our honeyed eyes
The sun hot on our foreheads with
Our thoughts only our beds
A pressing of the matter
To see what will be created by
Both our faults and
We are one another
Can't we see?
I wish I was you
And you wish you were not me
And he wishes
They were I
And She wishes I
Were all at once
I breathe and
I will die
But the prize
How much I've gained
Or how much pain
Tis' only the moments
I have had with
The sounds and symbols
I've writ down
Without duel plan
Never seeing no end
To a one and only friend
As I'm watching the wash
Of an everlasting lap
Against beaches that are stocked
With desperate and tanned leeches
And Her Sister Sand's
Observing the old man
With old and
Tell me a secret
I promise to keep it
Color it burgundy
Praise it with holy
And humorous sincerity
I enjoy the name I have
For it is none that I've heard
Name me what you want
For the sound washes away
With the twilight of the surf
All is the same
As if nothing
When you remember this moment
A step upon
Will and won't
The haze of the room
Has started to fill
What I needed to believe
In what I thought I should do
imagery in front of me so
i can talk
i am but a small boy
simply ensnared and oh" so"
care free until the
feel of the reels
make all of my life real
and a crowd smiles
Or frowns as the town
in due fire or flowers
Makes Her souls rounds
subtlety is not a trait I possess well, when I mention
late night texts and infatuation here and there I mean you,
the problem is that I've been here before and I've
fallen too fast.
the problem is that I build these walls that cave in
quickly and resolutely;
I am a dreamer of romance and like
procured fat bouquets of sunflowers unexpected,
quilts, meaningful embraces where the whole world
drops right out of your stomach.
I worry myself because this heart is so brittle; it's known
to have been dropped a time before;
I'm sick of sweeping up slivers of organs like glass,
always laying everything that means anything out on the table for people to poke around in like
I am some kind of mystifying tag sale.
even though things seem different this time,
they don't, really,
anxious wrists and fingers that don't
hold pencils very tightly,
hugging sweaters and the memory of a
quite lovely monday night
and some really awful ones time and time before.
It was a cold night for a concert. There was frost on the windscreen as we got into the car for the short drive to this city church. We drove because we were going to be late, and it was cold, and would be likely to be colder still when the concert was over. I had wondered if part one would be enough. Could Bach and Rameau be enough? Might the musical appetite cope with Mozart and Beethoven too? Were we about to sit down to a large meal, possibly in the wrong order. Can the cheese course be a transcendental experience I wondered? Bach to begin certainly, a substantial starter with one of the mid period keyboard toccatas and two ‘distant’ preludes and fugues, but then a keyboard suite by Rameau?
When I listen to Beethoven though I want to hear a work on its own, unencumbered round about with other musics. A recent experience of several hours driving to hear a single Beethoven symphony has remained close and vivid, and an experience that brought me close to tears. So I imagine that I might only hear Op.110 to make that opening sequence of chords so ominously special. The introduction seems to come from nowhere and does not connect with musical past, except perhaps the composer’s own past. It is as though the pianist puts on a pair of gloves imbued with the spirit of the composer, and these chords appear . . . and what is there that might possibly prepare the listener for the journey that pianist and listener embark upon? Certainly not the soufflé of Mozart’s K.332.
The audience is hardly a smattering of coats, hats and grey hair. There is another piano recital in town tonight and this is but the artist’s preview of a forthcoming concert at a major venue. Our pianist is equipping herself for a prestigious engagement and sensibly recognizes the need to test out the way the programme flows in front of an audience, and in a provincial church where she is not entirely unknown. I admire this resolve and wonder a little at the long-term planning which makes this possible and viable.
Now a figure in black walks out from the shadows to stand by her piano. Coming from stage right she places left her hand firmly on the mirror-black case above the keyboard. She looks at her audience briefly, and makes a bow, almost a curtsey, an obeisance to her audience and possibly to those distant spirits who guard the music she is to play. We will not see her face again until the next time she will stand at the piano to acknowledge our applause after the Bach she is about to play. Her slightly more than shoulder-length hair is cut to flow forward as she holds herself to play; her face is often hidden from us, her expression curiously blank. Perhaps she has prepared herself to enter a deep state of concentration that admits no recognition of those sitting just in front of her. Her dress is long and black with a few sparking threads to catch the careful lighting. Without these occasional glimmers her bodily movement would be unnoticeable. As it is the way the light is caught is subtle and quietly playful, though not enough to distract, only remind us that though in black she is wearing the kind of starry sky such as you might perceive in crepuscular time.
Thus, we already sense so much before she has played a note there is a firm slightly dogged confidence and reverence here in her approach to instrument and audience. And in the opening bars of the Bach toccata that is manifest; and not just a confidence born out of some strategy against nervousness, but a ritual of welcoming to this music that now spills out into the partially darkened church. The sonorousness and balance of the piano’s tone surprises. It is not a fine piano, but it has qualities that she seems to understand. There is a degree of attentive listening to herself that enables her to control dynamics and act resolutely on the structure of the music. When the slow section of this four-part toccata appears there is a studied gentleness and restraint that belies any bodily led gesture or manner. Her stance and deliberation at the keyboard remain determined and in control, unaltered by the music’s message. She does not pull her body backwards as seems the custom with so many who feel they have to show us they are stroking and coaxing such gentleness and restraint out of the keyboard.
As the final fugato of the toccata flows at almost twice the speed I’ve ever heard it, my concentration begins to disengage. It is too fast for me to follow the voices, I miss the entries, and the smudged resonance of the texture hides those details I have grown over so many years to know and love. This is Glen Gould on speed, not the toccata that resides in my musical memory. I am aware of missing so much and my attention floats away into the sound of it all. It seems to be all sound and not the play of music.
In this stage of disengagement I sense the tense quality of her right leg pedalling with the tip of a reddish shoe just visible, deft, tiny flicks of movement. She turns her face away from the keyboard frequently, looking away from the keyboard through the choir to the high altar; and for a moment we see her upturned face, a blank face, possibly with little or no make up, no jewellery. A plain young woman, mid to late thirties perhaps, and not a face marked by children or a busy teaching life, but a face focused on knowing this music to a point at which there is almost a detachment, where it becomes independent of her control, flowing momentarily beyond herself.
Then she reins the toccata in, reoccupies it; she is seeking closure for herself and for her audience whose attention for a short while has been, as the Quakers say, gathered. Gathered into a degree of silence, when breathing and the body’s sense and presence of itself disappear, momentarily, and musical listening moves from a clock time to a virtual time. There is a slowing down, an opening out, even though in reality’s metronomic time-field there is none.
There is a hesitation. With more Bach to follow, should we applaud? With relief after holding the flight of time’s arrow in our consciousness, just for those concluding minutes and seconds we acknowledge and applaud - the beginning of the concert.
I was sure that this feeling was gone for good,
but trial and error has yielded more error than it should
and I’m beginning to think that I can’t do all the things
I’ve so resolutely sworn that I would.
I can’t blame inadequacy on those little pink pills,
Doc prescribed my anxiety for three years and still
to this day I wonder where I’d be
if side-effects hadn’t brought out the demons in me.
But now, dearest reader, I’m finally free.
But freedom, well, it’s a bitter pill to swallow,
because now, who’s to blame when that eerily hollow,
haunting feeling creeps up behind me?
When the only thing in the room is the mirror beside me,
and I’m watching me stare back at me
and I’m seeing what I’ve always seen
and I swore, christ, I swore on everything
that this would be my awakening.
But. It wasn’t.
Yeah, I swore that this feeling was gone for good,
but winter’s brought it back like part of me always knew it would.
So I’ll hide blame under the furniture, in dark the corners of this room
and hope I’ll learn what it means to let go sometime soon.