Friday, 7 March 2008

Axe grinding

Flooding through the minds of the assembled throng, the guitar took wings and circled above the heads of the crowd before devastating them with an explosion of thunderous axemanship.
Sweat from the guitarist, sweat from the crowd, sweat from the instrument itself - an intense workout for the mind - expanded by this aural tribute to all senses. Except none of it was real.
It had all been recorded onto a mini-disc and primed to play perfectly along in time with a backing track coming through a midi-sequencer. The guitar volume was set so low, no-one could really hear what was coming out of it. He could widdle around on that thing for hours and nobody would notice it wasn’t him playing it - they were out of their minds, living for the moment, thrashing into the dawn.
But Lydia saw what was going on. She had a guitar and it didn’t make these kind of noises when you did what this guy was doing. If you put your hand in the air, it didn’t usually play by itself.
So Lydia strode through the crowd and asked the guy just what he was doing, she demanded vehemently to hear what he could really do.
At first, Mr Geetar just laughed and carried on with the business of entertainment - he had a job to do, after all. But when the girl didn’t go away and began screaming loudly in his direction he did what he felt he had to do and asked her if she wouldn’t mind fucking off.
At this the girl climbed on stage and disconnected the lead running from the guitar to the amp. There was no audible difference in the song and the stunned band gamely played on. The audience cheered the stage invader but cared nothing for the unveiling of the guitar fraudster.
Turning to bask in the warm glow of her victory and seeing that the band still had the upper hand in this battle of wits, she shoved the guitarist out of the way and shouted into his mic: “He’s not really playing! This is all fake! You are being lied to.”
At this the audience laughed and cheered and danced all the more. The lead singer gave the guitarist the kind of look that tells you to do something about the goddamned mad bitch on the stage. The axe man responded by pushing said girl off the stage so that she fell forward onto all fours.
She turned back from this indignity, like a penitent puppy, and knelt before the treacherous guitarist. She watched as he twirled the volume knob on the body of his instrument and pushed it to the limit. Her eyes widened as the unknown maestro unleashed a face peeling solo inches from her prostrate position.
When he’d shown her the true extent of his powers she found that she was weeping bitterly into the beer drenched floor.
Everyone else was having a great time. She realised she may have had a little too much to drink. It was time to go home.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Another evening

She dropped a card off for my mum today. I found it when I got home. It seemed sweetly scented by her hand – probably just my imagination, but I continued to sniff it, standing there on the doorstep to my house.


I needed a cup of coffee. The crushed, freeze-dried aroma as the boiling water hit the mug drew applause from the senses. Out on the street I spied a woman pushing a baby. My mind took a photo of that image, framed by the bay window. The woman was small and hunched slightly over the frame of the pram as if to shield or even sensor her child’s existence in this world. In this pose, she looked like my mother now. This thought made me cry so I invited the television to entertain me, rather than the outside world.


I’ve just had my dinner. The memory of microwaved curry has impregnated the walls of my house, it seems. I settle back into a high-backed leather chair with a magazine I’d half-read. It covers new-technologies, gadgets, big boys toys, that sort of thing. The reek of chemicals clung to the page. Some people appreciate the nostalgia trip that inspires - of new school books and marker pens – but not I. It just makes me feel sick. The curry makes me burp and the rice is sitting heavy on my chest.


I go to bed. The sheets are cold tonight, but I’ll soon warm them up. I sleep on either side of the bed, one night after the other. That way I’ll get maximum wear from the mattress. The bedsheets seem to stink of me. I might leave the lamp on tonight.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The big dig

They started work on the road last week. A churning mess of digging and dumping down at the bottom of my street.
Anyway, they send everyone on the street a letter explaining that the work is going to be happening over the next fortnight and that, in order to reduce problems to the flow of traffic through the area, all work will be done between the hours of 12am and 5am.
“We apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused to residents.”
‘Inconvenience’ - that’s a good word. It is inconvenient that I won’t get much sleep for the next couple of weeks. ‘The first night will be bad,’ I thought to myself as I sat on my newly covered blue couch - it was comfy and I usually felt luxurious reclining on it. ‘I will be blasé about the noise and then when I close my eyes and try to sleep, no rest will come - or it will be only in small bursts.’ This came to pass and, while I slept better next night - perhaps through exhaustion - the following few days passed painfully in a fret of anxiety, thinking about the terrible night to come and how I would function without the sustenance of sleep.
I functioned poorly, and I became quite hysterical with rage at night after three hours of trying, trying, trying to get to sleep. You know how it is when you try to ignore the snores of another, sharing your room or bed… You think, I’m a civilised human being and they really don’t know they’re snoring, they can’t help it - they’re not doing it out of spite. But that’s exactly what it feels like - spite! There they are, enjoying the bountiful pleasures of energy restoring sleep and, as if to rub it in your face that you’re not drinking from the same pure well, their physical actions, the emanations from their body, are the things that stop you from reaching the very nirvana they currently inhabit.
Yesterday was a Sunday night and, drunk with fatigue, I threw the bed clothes from my bed and left my apartment by the front door. I was sweating from tossing and turning under two winter duvets, multiplied by frustration at a factor of six!
I calmly stepped down the communal stairs of the building and into the main hall. As I went to open the main door I caught sight of myself in the reflection of its glass panels and was embarrassed. The shame, to go out into the world in just a t-shirt and boxer shorts. The indignity of it all.
I stood there for thirty seconds before I forgot why I was standing there in the first place. I opened the door, leaving the lock on the slip for easy re-entry, I didn’t have my key with me, of course.
Looking left from the garden wall I could see the end of the street was closed off and very brightly lit. I thought I was getting it bad, but the people on the corner would have light pollution poking through their blinds and curtains, mixing with the clogging sounds and making a person, a family, choke.
I wandered along the street, sticking to the pavement, despite the lack of cars using the closed road. I realised I might cause consternation in any workmen who saw me like this but I barely cared. I just stumbled along towards a huge truck that blocked much of the extra light that was being shone onto the road.
Shimmying around some cones - I was shivering now and the wind was up - I went and stood in the main thoroughfare that my street runs into - the main site of the necessary maintenance work.
I looked from one end of the long shopping street to another. Death was the correct description for this usually thriving oasis of retail. All along, the place was dark. Darker than ever because all the streetlights were off. I looked up and waved to the CCTV cameras outside the entrance to the station.
Right slap bang in the middle of the road, surrounded by three bright lamps, powered by who-knows-what, there I stood. Alone.
Not a workman could be seen. The noises came from great machines of industry - a cement mixer whirling along on the kerbside, a digger rattling away in a gutter, a sputtering generator powering the huge lamps. The lorry that was parked here had been left running. Its lights were also on, and from inside its cab came the sounds of its stereo system, broadcasting the song of spanners and screwdrivers clinking, the odd mallet clanking, background chatter and an occasional whistle.
I climbed up and slid in through the truck’s open window. I reached for the keys, turned these with a click and then slid them from their housing so that the sounds died away. I turned off the lights, but allowed myself five minutes inside the warm cab.
Climbing down, I visited each piece of equipment in turn and learnt how to stop its noise and motion. Lastly I turned off the clanking generator and peace fell upon the world again.
A slow walk then, back to bed. I enjoyed listening to the howl of the wind.
An open letter to residents came the next day. The work on the road had apparently been finished in excellent time. There was a sincere apology for any disruption to normality.
I folded the letter away and thought about buying a new mattress.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Still life

A part of me has died, though it is a part of me I never knew.
It is a part I never met, never touched, never heard. A part I never hugged, never carried, never played with, never spoke to.
I wouldn’t have minded one-sided conversations, or early morning wake-up calls. Then walking together, learning from each other, ‘phoning me up from God knows where...
But I’m looking too far into an impossible future. Why did I never look before?
It isn’t that I won’t love you, and I suppose I’ll create my own memories. The hardest thing was that I saw you, so real, so human. Yet so pale, and so still.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Hronocsh passes

Floating on mithril rivers, above shadow throwing star-hung peaks, the Hronocsh rides.
A cosmic semblance of the dreams spat out into dark spaces between worlds; the jetsom of the universe, reformed and given life, Hronocsh returns to make its dreamers tremble.
Hear it hare along the ancient byways of the air, until the stagnant castles of dead, cratered worlds groan again with fear of re-destruction.
Slicing over cliff-grey moons and singing lullabies to super-novae, the entity is growing.
He comes nearby, near enough to throw a crown to him, every fourteenth century of the Earth’s time. During this desolate hour the virgin cries of a billion children are lost to the agony of the Hronocsh as he siphons their inert souls before conception.
He descends through the soul regions into the spirit clouds, where he drinks astral projections from the creases in the sky.
Next, he will slide lower - ever pulsing, a form in flux - convolving upon the merry dreams and terrors of thought and sleep. A body is almost visible at this time. Gaze upon his reflection in a still lake, from a water’s shore, at the third hour of the new day.
Squint your eyes, squint like you’re peering at the noon sun, and there, glowering like a rotted whale you will spy the wasting Hronocsh sifting through every reflection, every impulse that has come to pass since his last tarriance on our Earthly shores.
Then, within the hour, his wake will pass. A golden wash across the blackness followed by the stain of loss and the monotonous drumbeat of time.
Hronocsh has shimmered on.