Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Looks like rain

Sometimes it just comes as if from nowhere,
The rain.
Both a translucent veil falling over the window of our vision,
And an equaliser in the truest sense of the word.

It caught him by surprise.
Standing by the bus stop,
Tapping his toe gently,
Waiting for a bus destined to arrive late.

The rainfall hits him,
He doesn't move,
Only shifts his head upward in a look of acknowledgement.
Like seeing an old acquaintance in the street,
Unexpected but inevitable.
Nor does he shift a mere three steps to avoid it,
He shuns the cover offered by the shelter.
Instead he accepts the rain, embraces it.

The young couple sitting on the bench in the shelter look at him,
Curious and bemused.
They will later
(In the sanctuary of their studio flat)
Wonder over his motivation.
Is he taking the rain like a mild purgatory,
Feeling the echoing needles of water hit his head,
Like judgmental spears of penance?
Is he letting the waves of precipitation wash over him,
Cleansing him literally and metaphysically?

There is a look on his face.
Not fear, not beseeching self-pity,
Not anger.
Yet no smile on his mouth,
Nor wistful nostalgia in his eyes.
Grey as the clouds from whence comes
The rain.

The couple will wonder,
Look, gauge and analyse the lines on his face.
But it's like they're outside,
Looking into his perplex cubicle of isolation.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Break my rusty cage and run


By the pressures of work, 
By the demands of society,
By the cruel necessity of money,
By relationships going nowhere fast. 
Each one another bar in a moment that
Seems determined to bind and constrict,
Not embrace and bless us, nor enfold us 
In serendipity and boundary-less fortune.
"Like a cat in a bag / waiting to drown"
No, not so morose, yet not so detached. 
A bird maybe, gazing from imprisonment.
Chirping wistfully at the expanse of world
Commencing from not even two feet away.
Cruelly somehow allowing vision of all yet
Access to little. Cursed cage of restriction!

Yet might this cage not be a rusty one? Why not test those hinges... bend those bars....?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet"

It has long been a feature of mythology and science fiction that many a creature can be weakened by the knowledge or speaking aloud of its name. The idea that the name holds a mystic power, almost like a spell.

"You have me at a disadvantage"
"He doesn't even know my name"
"Creature, I name you... Carrionite!" (Ahem, that's just for you, EJ!)

A name can help us find someone, can spark conversation, can condemn someone. Can be spat out in spite or murmured in a verbal caressing wonder. Can define someone, describe something in wonderful rounded tones or harsh consonant sounds, represent hope and optimistic plans. But surely the by far the most beautiful uses of names is for people...

What is in a name?

Maybe we don't think of it as control. Maybe we think of as a new connections created. What is life if not the people in it?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wales and Paul Anka

Now, I know I've not been writing very much. And I keep making excuses for it, so I may as open with a few more:
- I'm a lazy bugger
- I've been busy/going out nigh on every night/watching a LOT of television on a varying scale from awesome (The Wire) to oh-god-why-do-I-watch-this-again? (Smallville).
- Lastly, and most importantly, I'm been finding myself disappointingly devoid of inspiration.

It happens, and so easily and smoothly if you let it. You pass up plans due to work exhaustion. You depart from a party because you have work the next day. All too simply, work and 'life' (that which we live to earn money: that most fickle of mistresses) get in the way. For this reason, sometimes it's nice to get away, even if it is just for a weekend; to have that time with your friends in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but time, alcohol and companionship; with bracing fresh air and a night sky refreshingly devoid of pollution and instead sprinkled with a thousand twinkling stars. A weekend away in Wales a couple of weeks back could not have come at a better time for me. Work was beginning to pile on, making me ever more jaded and lethargic on a daily basis. Quite simply I needed the time away. No reports, no spreadsheets, no e-mail.

Now this isn't to say that Wales is a back-end country with nothing going for it. Cardiff and Swansea are amazing cities with a fair degree of urban life. But we rented out a 14-man cottage near Cwmyoy, basically in the middle of nowhere. An epic cottage with a sound system that could select any or all of the rooms in the house, a massive kitchen with a long rustic wooden table and an Aga oven. And we loved it. As a city boy born and bred, when I take a holiday or short break, I have only a limited amount of appreciation and awe for buildings, especially those similar to ones I have previously seen.

Rather I take greater pleasure in seeing mountains, lakes, wildlife. In other words, everything one doesn't habitually see when working within London's 'Square Mile'. We heard no sirens, we had no internet (both a blessing and a curse given my addiction to it, and the dependence on it) and even very little mobile phone reception. Instead under the circumstances we had little else to do but just sit, talk, drink and enjoy each other's company: it was great. We did take a couple of mini hikes up the hills (we WERE near the Brecon Beacons after all) and a road trip to Brecon proper which basically ended up being a pub lunch and a quick walk around, but this didn't bother any of use too deeply.

Instead we drank, we played poker, we listened to a variety random CDs including this beauty which I bought immediately I returned to London: "Rock Swings" by Paul Anka. It blew my tiny mind! A dozen or so pop and rock songs covered by this retro crooner (and favourite of the Gilmore Girls, ahem), and maybe it was the Captain Morgan talking, but I really got a kick out of it!
I also got a kick out of the highly indecent and boundary-crossing banter with which I shall not besmirch your gentle eyes :)

When I was dropped off back home on the drizzly Monday evening, physically drained despite having guiltily slept in the car ride back (so much for being good road trip company!) I felt for the first time in several days the unfamiliar sensation of solitude. However the lingering undertone was one of having broken free of the 9-5 box. The reminder of possibility was enough for me. All it takes is a couple of hours' drive, a trunk full of alcohol and a handful of thoroughly decent people.

Play me out, Paul.

"Frank said it / I did it my way"

Friday, May 14, 2010

The one where I run out of things to say

I never thought the day would come! But like a drained well, a closed tap or (oh damn you, self-fulfilling prophecy) another water-related metaphor, I want to write, I YEARN to write and nothing flows out.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to pretend I’m a particularly masterful wit of our generation. Half the time when I blather on, it’s about things that mean nothing to 70% of people, and 70% of the time I have to explain to half my verbal victims that about which I’m talking because I assume people are in my head and will instantly get my pop culture references, a la Gilmore Girls (huh, I never quite finished that series). But even with that blunderbuss method of speaking, every so often I’d make an interesting point, amusing story or something just so abstract in its content that it would be entertaining. Skip forward to the present day and almost like a war veteran (slightly hyperbolic, yes, but the book I’m currently working on is Charlotte Gray) I find myself more often than not stunned to monosyllables when people ask me questions, though somehow I retain the ability to be a good question-asker and listener. I guess I had to find my role in social situations somewhere else, right?

Not for me though, is the excuse of war. No comrades dying, nor being snatched from England’s green and pleasant lands, nor futility of the human condition exposed (though I still think one of the rings of hell contains the London Underground at rush hour). Instead the causational trigger for my reversion to a more silent movie-style approach to life is merely having started full-time, non-contract employment. Now while it is true that I rarely see any value in the work I do (every time I check the prices for the reports we write, my mind boggles) but it would be remiss for me to blame that for the manner in which I speak, surely? Never mind that I sink hours into Excel spreadsheets, and then pie charts based on data within those spreadsheets and then paragraphs of mindless text analysing the pie charts based on Excel spreadsheet data. Never mind that I can feel my mind slowly but surely devolving into merely organic mess that fills the space between my ears. Never mind that in my vigorous attempts to have things to get me through the day, I find myself literally every night in a pub or playing at working out in the gym until my stomach protests at lack of supper, leaving knackered every day, albeit of my own accord.

No man has a right to use such trivialities as an excuse for becoming more and more boring as days go on, but I certainly do. I hope this slump is merely that, a slump, but at present the future looks bleak and particular devoid of interesting anecdotes. Though of late I have:

Seen She & Him live in concert: It felt a little alien going to a concert where half the audience was justifiably sitting (I hate it when people sit down with their arms crossed at rock concerts) and just swaying. But I really enjoyed it, and fell deeper in love with Zooey Deschanel. So freaking adorable.

Finally bought 120 film for my new Diana F+ camera: though I had to resort to Amazon. The pictures better be as darn funky as I hope or that camera will end up gathering dust on my shelf. I never ever thought I’d shake my metaphorical fist at digital photography.

Nearly finished Charlotte Gray: incidentally a great book. Picked it up because I really enjoyed Birdsong and was told it was in the same vein. To extent it is, it encompasses the same wheelhouse of ‘real people in the backdrop of war’ rather than war itself, and Charlotte Gray and a few other protagonists are portrayed wonderfully. Though I don’t get quite the same magical wistfulness that Birdsong gave me, despite the grittiness of the setting.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Like riding a bike..


It happens so easily.

You fall in line with the crowd, mindlessly treading water as you merely try to survive the rush hour.
The current irresistibly compels you along and you, ears plugged into your iPod, succumb to its direction.
Walk on the left side of this barrier.
The office walls close in, your very world wanes claustrophobically and it seems a curtain falls on your horizon.
Clock in. Clock out. Bill your hours.
How many spreadsheets can a man tabulate, before you can call him a drone?

Does this have to be the way? Why can one not regain their creativity? Relishing the beauty of their everyday life in the unexpected nooks of the city, reading books instead of rehashed free daily newspapers, attending concerts and not training seminars. How hard can it be to be the salmon, ever struggling upstream?

How did that phrase about bikes go again?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


First look at this

So you'll understand why I'm posting this:

Because finding your tranquility is sometimes just as easy as walking through your back garden. Thank goodness for Spring. It's hard to feel stressed or irritated at the increasingly monotone nature of working life when your friends are funny, the sun is shining and the greyness of the city is alleviated by the colour thrown about your day-to-day, like so many islands in the sea or oases in the desert.

Sorry I've been so lazy/overwhelmed/tired and thanks to those who haven't given up on me (you know who you are, AH and EW). Proper writing to follow as soon as I can kick myself up the arse hard enough.