Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Not Wearing Rose Coloured Spectacles

Erm what's happened to the last few years.
They seem to have shrivelled up. My friends, some of them,
have retained a bone structure upon which to hang their
marshmallowed sagging jowells and look rather distinguished.
Me, I look like a potato. Pale and mottled with whiskery bits. If I dressed
in sacking I'd be chips before I knew it
It's not helpful if you want to be taken seriously. I have chicken's
hands. Yet I can still run about on Peckham Rye like an escaped Ostrich.
Across field and dale with no regard for wet or cold. The Marathon glory is years behind. Yet remains a possibility. Well - this is on a bad day. On that same bad day I entered my home and the term Crack Den sprang to mind. Was it the shredded carcase of a lampshade, revealing it's dreary low wattaged eco innards. Was it the Empty Quarter of the living room devoted entirely to bikes, skateboards, spanners and old socks (that had been used to clean the former). Possibly it was the kitchen floor. Plastic wood. There but for the grace of god - and held together by patches of gaffer tape. Or was it the stair carpet - with the colour, texture and smell of a long dead Labrador. It could have been the cobwebby bookshelf with orange Penguin Classics and a foxed, leather bound Shakespeare that in any one else's house would have vintage chic but in mine are just old. Perhaps it was the rest of the family, wan in the gloom, dressed in a selection of still muddy football kits - or the repellent combination of dressing gown-over-clothes. "Put on a jumper for goodness sake". This is a look that stems from the wearer's slug days in a damp Glasgow hovel. Pot of tea with a stained cosy and a pipe of something. Lentils in the cupboard. Down to the garage at 4.00 am for a packet of skittles. Actually it is much colder in Scotland and everyone wears dressing gowns and woollen tights and dresses (even the men), nearly all the time. When R visited last week from the Highlands she could barely walk through being weighed down by tweed. I had to push her round in a shopping trolley. Up to the West End. Down the Burlington Arcade to the Royal Academy in her Tam'O'shanter. Searching in the Wallace Collection for Damien and his sixth form skull that grinned smugly across the gallery at the Laughing Cavalier.

It pleases me. The revelation that TS Eliot "wrote nothing whatsoever for three years"... and saw "no immediate likelihood" of doing it. "The writing of poetry takes time and I never have any time." It makes me feel OK about the hours spent sorting pants. Or pondering the Zen of a 'buy one get one free' pack of granary baps that would do for packed lunch, in Somerfield - when only one is left. I feel lucky. He had to struggle in a suit. He would have welcomed a murky room full of bikes and the accompanying enthusiasm for them. I see mess. He would have seen the manifestation of creativity and I'm sure would have been liberated by Lycra. Oops - watch out for that tool box Tom. He would have felt the poetry in a half eaten tin of anchovies lending their aroma to some quark in the fridge. The chaos of rushing hither and thither - he would stay for coffee and stir it thoughtfully. He would use the imagery of vanilla pods sinking in a panacotta - rather than cry about it. Not that I've ever made one or cried about it. I leave that for the next phase of existence. Along with cycle touring in Spain and skate boarding up mountains. And writing poetry, innit.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Uncivilised Camping (get your copy here)

We'd been in the wilderness living like iron age tramps.
Except they probably had a table.

We had an uneasy combo of nylon, candles, paraffin and pyromaniac kids.
We were the only family who ate left over noodles for breakfast.

We were the noisiest. The person who painted her nails to come camping also had Blair Witch hysteria in the woods when searching for sticks, then bug in-sleeping-bag-wobblers at 4.00 am. None of them went near a badminton racquet or played a nice organised game of cricket. Instead they found an old door full of rusty nails to play 'a game that I invented but it's already been invented'. You rest the middle on a log, stand on one end and get some bigger heavier people to jump on the other end. Then you get catapulted up to heaven.

We made lots of fires and burnt all sorts of stuff. We didn't sit behind our wind break in green canvas chairs because we haven't got any. We cooked at ground level. We made muddy coffee in a pan. We drank red wine from tin mugs then we played raucous guitar in the dark. Then there was this rope swing....

We didn't bring our Xbox and portable TV but we laughed rudely within earshot at those who did.

We hung our pants out to dry on the fence.

We very soon had the entire campsite to ourselves....

Monday, 22 June 2009

Rome Domes, Columns and Arches

So here he is. An old man who wears his trousers rolled - if only for
cycling. At 50.

Here we are on a birthday trip. Sitting on the Spanish Steps suddenly burning under the same unfiltered sun as Caesar, Caligula, Hadrian, Nero...and all those other bling covered fated genius nutcase despots. Huge, everything. The legacy of their egos is still astounding. In the Colosseum Russell Crowe winces as metal clashes and glints. He squints at the soft robed Emperor. He wrestles with tigers.

Saints have been carved. Gods have been carved. The gods have become saints. Writhing on the banks of the Tiber, a mess of Tritons, sea gods and odd looking fish. In St Peter's, in a space really nearly as big and planned as some people's kitchens round here, shrouded Madonnas lean out of the dusk. Living liquid marble billowing like silk.

High Renaissance nonsense cascades in a gold swarm of cherubs from Bernini's altarpiece. Everywhere bluish stained glass light. Candles illuminate a row of Popes. The priest emerges from the multi lingual confession box, choking on his dog collar....The nun in supplication palms clasped, slyly checks her BlackBerry. Emails from Jesus. A trillion years of religious hysteria. You could cut the air with a candelabra.

Scorched and blistered we pour water on our heads in the shade of another stone church. Traffic hums around the piazza. Richard Scarry mousemobiles. Scooters appear from nowhere, rumbling trivially over the tarmac skin of doomed, buried civilisation. How could you even wield a hammer in this heat - let alone conquer continents.

It's a short trip but cold beers and pizza are swallowed as the world turns on it's axis and A contemplates his miniscule previous five decades - and those yet to come.

Enclosed within the Colosseum's arches, vaulted like the dead sockets of a gladiator's skull, we reflect on the legacy of those gaudy emperors. Pomposity and amnesia. In the garden of broken columns and climbing weeds, an American woman rests her head on a slab of marble and sleeps.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Beatnik Sunday w/rain and fridge magnets......

Loom through morning miasma
to cool glass drying freely
with harmony and hug

Me to canvas could scream
like instrument dazzle

Wild shopping
Absurd original drunk fashion

Coffee lunch full of blue ink

Purple silhouette almost
like metal water

Smoke dust
Make more neo electric
psychedelic sculpture

Saturday, 7 March 2009

April is The Cruellest Month....

After many moons another blog. Not because there's been nothing to say - just that the effort required to book space on the computer means I now write on the back of an envelope instead of on the back of the internet. Same difference.

So here we are five months later. In a pixilated economy, with our new best friend Obama trying to tidy it all up and re-freeze the ice caps like lime flavoured ice pops after they'd left the fridge door open. Increasingly I'm feeling like I'm in a really bad disaster movie. For instance, only last night my neighbour knocked on the door with reports of a smell of gas rising through the pavement. Stand back it's gonna blow. Soon the house was swarming with fluorescent jackets and bleeping bleepers. We'll be back in half an hour to drill up the pavement they said at 11.30 pm on a Friday night. A decided to have a bath before they switched everything off. Went to turn it on. A beer and a little look at a bicycle parts website later.......Drip drip drip. His bath had come to him. Through the kitchen ceiling next to the light socket. Stand back it's gonna blow. But no. They couldn't afford the special FX, so all that happened was we mopped the floor and the gas people drilled two tiny holes outside then drew yellow chalk round them.

Vacuuming dust coils from around drum kit in boys room I muse upon missing Trivial Pursuit cards and Teenagers Lost Watch. Recent sleuthings convince me that watch has been sold and cards have been used for roaches. Dare not mention to A who is is now the Dad from Quadrophenia despite his Irvine Welsh Glasgow years. Raise loose floorboards searching for stash and own lost marbles.

In this fickle time between winter and sun, April is chucking cold blossom on the pavement. The small children are big. And the eldest is away to the woods. A mental spring clean. A paradigm shift. Remembering always that truth is stranger than fiction. Remembering to look - but not too closely. Clean those windows.

I think I have to go. And it will be more Shawshank Redemption than The Great Escape.
(3 film - and 2 literary references in one blog indicate a winter of hibernation.)