You’re looking for that hurt look around my mouth

01/10/2013 at 20:34 (Personal, Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So you can make another claim – well, go ahead and make it.

This Friday sees my new life begin. The solitary writer blossoms at last, after a handful of years spent with a partner of trust, love and banter; carer and caring, the two went together like snowdrops and blood, sad to say. Both as vivid as the other, too apparent at first, and our bickering arose from my inability to see every tree for the wood. Sorry became my dying breath, while his rose through lies. Many times I thought we were finished, that the way back was too long and the bramble-talons too sharp; that his hiding around every corner, waiting for me to catch up while seeing further along the path than I was able, would see me stumble once too often. Sure, but it felt like home, and hell, sometimes.

I was a gunslinger with his heart. A bladed touch. Too bad my aim was off most of the time, but hey, I’m only human yet.

Now he moves on, away, and I stay. This city holds my bones for a bit longer, and I’m happy with its rough-hewn stones, its ancient walkways, its Roman tilt to the tongue. Everything ends in -ium and starts with V; has more than a hint of the antiquity that breeds dignified silence, while we cough into our beers and cokes and rum, grin-grimacing in the quick wind that races down the hill, up the park, to the font of the Abbey, where Gods and Masters linger no more. We wonder if they were ever present, if the warmth outside ever made itself felt indoors, for stones harbour chill like a human heart deadened to love. It’s the beating within, the blood of the book, that keeps us alive and aching for new stories.

Mine finds itself at the end of this week. An eyrie at the top of a house of strangers, and I’m perfectly content with this anonymity. I can eke out my days in pleasant silence, when the inside of my head is a maelstrom. Writing can flow, as I watch the sky from three directions (have always wanted a skylight, now I am stoked by the 360 view) and wait for a red kite to angle past one day, my dark-eyed angel. Hooked claws for my heart. Belittle this strange girl-child, for she only knows the way Home by the breadcrumbs of her soul, flaking a bit more each day but still somehow intact.

My brother lives and breathes in my mind, and I try to support his, to glue together the fracture lines. His soul is another matter. I don’t think even mine could face down its strength. He needs no help there (though he doesn’t know it yet, as a sword doesn’t know itself until the cold plunge of water comes, after the tempering.)

My sister, keeper of a small soul placed in her haphazard, beautiful care, is doing what she can for the girl who would dial down her days into screamed silence, food no longer a friend, sleep no longer necessary for those who stay awake long hours to count count count count count count count count count

No, I wish I was talking about Sesame Street.

Ah, time. You’ve got a crooked back, what with all I’ve heaped on you lately. This latest story stands above the water in 7,000 or so words, still incomplete, still beating out the pulse to make walls tumble and shake, liquid black, eyesore green. Two kids who ought to have known better, but the adults are the truth behind (anti) matter.
We’ll see where it goes. If I don’t end up hurling it into the Clock’s heart (Metropolis notes abound) then perhaps it’ll wind up on an agent’s desk.
I always did pun unintentionally. So I left that one in, for our mutual shit-eating grins.

It’s good to return to the base, where the wind cranks through rotting fields of wheat, and trees grow through the roof:
raf edles

raf edles 2

There are some who would look to me for a stepping stone, a purchase, a blade, a Like, a handshake, a fuck and / or a page turned. I say, “Easy, all. I’m a namesake only.”

When I said what I said, I didn’t mean anything –

I was afraid I’d eat your brains (’cause I’m evil.)

Ways part. Water flows. Walls crumble, my heart dies a little more, rebuilds itself on new days, strangeways, a city life renewable and antiquated by turns.
I’m a writer, friend. I make things happen. Even when it hurts like hell, things happen for the want of the world.

All the very best of us string ourselves up for love.

Permalink 6 Comments

No one to point the finger

24/09/2013 at 22:39 (Personal) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It’s just you and me, and the rain.

As it once was, before our shared time spun away in toxic-beauty droplets. No more the red kites counted, the hikes through all weathers, our faces burned bronze with time spent alone and together and apart.

 photo 5cf8ee32-f8cd-4cf9-8987-1d5207159bad_zpsda25ccc0.jpg

It was only one hour ago, it was all so different then. Five years and counting nothing, because that put it to a timeline, a calendar – an End Game. We were younger then, stupid with the world and lust and red wine. We found ourselves in the face of shared life, on and offline, down rail line, up streets fine; lost ourselves in over-priced shopping and London roads and rain-filled afternoons quietly asleep, dreaming of a time we’d be published and famous and aloof and awake and over the hill. Never married. Never childbirth. Never divergence, of thoughts and things that mattered … until they ceased to matter. Until I couldn’t hold your eye. Until you couldn’t keep my feet still.

I grieve for you. You live in me.

The future is a blue rose, full of mystery, the unobtainable and the longing, the shared ice and anecdotes and memories frozen in a place none can follow. We’ll be buried as best friends and confidantes, but my soul will wander, as ever it did in our waking dream of real life. No one would riot for less.
You kiss my mouth.
Hell is here.

You were my All, and thought and dream and time, until none of these seemed apart or a part of myself. Until this year broke us. Until our shared time faded out in mosquito bites of cash flow and supermarket runs and broken hearts and shattered trust. Did I dream this belief, or did I believe this dream?

Grieve for us both, world, and move on. That’s the way of things; when friends become lovers, and back again. We drank to ourselves then, as now, as ever.

 photo cff7d668-1f8a-4212-8969-4c5d412d7278_zps358df74c.jpg

Distance doesn’t count for anything, unless it’s in the heart. Our hills have been climbed, our storms outrun. The Beacon will always be there, waiting. The Downs will probably call us back someday. We’ll pass the barrows of your forefathers, and laugh at the times we fell down rabbit holes and mistook sanitation for cigars and fell asleep with our mouths catching flies. And recall those old-gold afternoons by the wretched train station, when I listened for the Mini’s whine, and the sounds of a weekend-life just beginning. No, distance meant nothing. We surpassed it.

 photo b90614fa-12b5-478d-8d03-a9aa8209b138_zpsfca28197.jpg

But when together, we couldn’t overcome distance of the heart, the wandering mind. So it goes. Five years, to me, is a long time … a relationship’s lifetime. Not one memory regrettable; even the hard times were bittersweet pills. We learned ourselves in the face of the world, and each other; though we chose our own times to look away. Now it’s mine, and it’s for good, and somehow that’s OK. Friends part with tears and a smile, not mouths of hate.

I’ll send you North, you’ll keep me here.
I love without capacity. You love without remorse. Somehow, it worked; and through the nightmares and flashbacks and illness, the silent rage and writer’s block and doubts of fidelity, from that first daft kareoke night (when we cried together from laughing) to running for the train, to Evenstar and swords and bad emails and Love Will Tear Us Apart, in the pub that’s since burned to the ground and lies as an ashen stub of its former glory… we part as friends.

There’ll always be the Downs, the barrows and the red kites.

 photo 8ea2a80a-7422-4c44-9c78-53218bdf3755_zps17757377.jpg

 photo ef15a9a3-01d2-4200-8293-473ac9631b7e_zpsb9c78424.jpg

 photo 2e6ea1a4-1f10-4f20-b2d8-ef1243cb98ab_zps19d10312.jpg

Permalink 2 Comments

Review: The National, “Trouble will Find Me”

21/05/2013 at 19:31 (Reviews, Writing) (, , , )

The National are a band who, like the wine that vocalist Matt Berninger will quaff in a pre-gig ritual to ease enduring stage-fright, only get better with time.

To me, their discography has always seemed like the progression of a relationship, via the most personal of love letters. 2001 and the eponymous album saw lusty awkwardness thread itself through tracks such as Perfect Song (“Wanted me to take you home/You said you’d rather be alone…Car is warm and we had wine/But I couldn’t find the perfect song.”) The debut took us through the teething problems and agonized misunderstandings, those tender-fierce I need you/I don’t need you’s of any fledgling relationship. By contrast, 2003’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers was livid with wildfire mood swings, and as much about the experimentation of a relationship as a channeling of that attitude (Available: “Do you still feel clean/When the only dirt is the dirt I left/How can you blame yourself/When I did everything I wanted to?”)

Through the subsequent three albums, the relationship has matured into something ready to override the indignity of losing whole pieces of the Self – voluntarily given, or laid down to preserve what feels worth taking beyond blind longing and lust. For me, the National have always broadcast an awareness of the non-linearity of love, the faults and forgiveness. Some things are worth all the lies and absences, are worth taking further. Isn’t that what makes us adult, and heartsore with it in the end?

This, their sixth album, finds the relationship on that melancholic stretch across the face of the world. Lives that have become so intertwined now seem impossible to pull apart; with the bittersweet tone comes the realization that Yes, every day will be the same, but to try and live otherwise, is unbearable (“If you lose me, I’m gonna die .. Things are tougher than we are.”)

Exploring the exquisite range of his voice, chocolate and honey by degrees, Matt Berninger tells us of life on the road. It’s that much-vaunted rockstar life which so many would kill for, and in turn has the knack of killing that which we need most. Absence can just as easily kill a heart’s light as make it fonder (“I am good and I am grounded, Davy says that I look taller/But I can’t get my head around it, I keep feeling smaller and smaller.”)

With the band, we’re flung into the loneliness of crowds, the shift-shuffle world of tours and studio. There’s a need for balance between adventure and home (“Everything I love is on the table, everything I love is out to sea.”) As ever with their lyrics, names are dropped with the tenderness of a well-thumbed paperback, each page someone else’s personality. We find these people in our living rooms, our bedrooms and lives (“Jenny, I am in trouble/I can’t get these thoughts out of me.”)

Now-familiar beats chronicle the National’s sound – Graceless could well be the darker twin of Bloodbuzz Ohio, that heart-race anthem of fifth album High Violet. The triumph of Ohio is replaced with something altogether more poignant, a frustration of care that seems inherent of adulthood; the knowledge that love and willpower alone still might not change a situation (“I’m trying, but I’m graceless/Don’t have the sunny side to face this.”)

Not all the old fire has dimmed though. The trials and tribulations of a wider, harder world are a shock to the system, until balance is found with a grim smile (“I was teething on roses/I was in guns and noses … she wore Blue Velvet/Says she can’t help it.”) It’s standing before the two-way mirror, seeing yourself in another’s actions, and being unable to break the glass.

Never afraid to deride himself (“You didn’t see me, I was falling apart…I was a television version of a person with a broken heart,”) Matt is on top autobiographical form. From the staccato drums and baroque waves of Sea of Love to the trickle-honey chords of I need my Girl, this is an album worth tapping into for its sepia tones and acknowledgment of love’s hard road.

 photo 1cff229d-e63a-4bfa-9d8c-765ccb0f76be_zps5687512f.jpg


I Should Live In Salt
Don’t Swallow The Cap
Sea Of Love
This Is The Last Time
I Need My Girl
Pink Rabbits
Hard To Find

Other songs:
Exile Vilify

Permalink 1 Comment

Have I found you, flightless bird?

24/09/2011 at 19:17 (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

I like to use song lyrics as titles, and happen to be listening to Iron and Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”, because it is a beautiful song, and they are a beautiful band.
I don’t tend to go for contemporary music, having worked out that it’s mainly just a rip-off of something else, something more raw. A shallow counterfeit. Still, I adore The Editors and Interpol, because they are how Joy Division might’ve sounded if Ian Curtis had decided to frequent the Earth longer, drank a few whiskeys, and let his soul quieten down a bit.

When choosing music, it’s usually the melody that catches me first. I’m a sucker for minor key, for bittersweet sounds (and endings, in books); for something that will make my chest ache the way it does when I listen to Jan Hammer’s “Miami Vice theme”. That song is synonymous with Germany; street BBQ’s, hazy golden tones in the lowlight dusk, neighbours chatting and laughing… my 4-year-old self allowed to stay up later than usual.

How can a child be nostalgic for something they don’t yet know? 6 years old, not even in Primary school, I knew the melody to Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne before I knew the song itself, and hummed it in the lower playground while watching the horizon. There’s a vivid memory of this. I had no idea of pretention. I felt that ache in my chest, a longing for something far off, and had barely experienced the world yet. It’s why I don’t entirely discount past lives.

I went on a great song-hunt in my teens, determined to track down all the beautiful things I’d heard my parents play as I grew up, but didn’t know the lyrics to. I recall one afternoon spent with my Mum – it was wonderful, having her all to myself for once, not distracted by my little brother or housework – going through Dad’s quite extensive record/CD collection. There was one song in particular, I was determined to find. I could only give Mum that tune, but she found it eventualy, on the Singer and the Song album that Dad always played when loading up the car to drive us the 5 hours to Cheshire, to visit my grandparents. Those songs are bound up in my mind with anticipation, and travel. Copper. Brass. Gold.

It was Suzanne, of course, which I was after. You can’t begin to understand the fierce pleasure of sitting there on the carpet, hearing it come from Dad’s wonderful uupright speakers. It felt like coming home, or the realization that something you had thought a dream, actually exists.

Then of course, I had to go through the entire album – finding lost gems of my very early years, like Don McClean’s Vincent (linked to my favourite piece of art, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”) and Ralph McTell’s Streets of London, which – along with several books I was reading at the time – began my love affair with London. That beautiful, charismatic, smelly, charming-from-a-distance city, which I personified in a poem for a school project; it ended up being my first published piece.

That album is my perennial favourite. I know the lyrics of every song, and listening to it turns me into a hopeless nostalgic, a rose-tinted headcase. OK, more so.

…and he wonders if the car will start tomorrow, or he’ll have to take the bus instead.

I love the Semisonic album “Feeling Strangely Fine”, too. It reminds me of a time when my father and I were still speaking to each other; still called each other friend. I miss him. I miss his dark eyes, and the way he used to tickle the back of my neck to send me to sleep. But that’s another lifetime, and some things aren’t worth being nostalgic about.

I rarely go more that a couple of hours in a day without listening to something, whether through the iPod strapped almost permanently to my right arm (with a tan line that never fades) or through covert tuning-in to the Sky Rock channels. Because music generally dictates my moods, I have to be careful what I listen to; it’s no good listening to something a bit rowdy when trying to stay quiet and careful, first thing in the morning. I just bump into things. I have a knack for making more noise when trying to be quiet.

As a child, I listened to whatever my parents had – anything from Bon Jovi and Aerosmith (Mum) to Led Zepp, Pink Floyd and Art Garfunkel (Dad.) I still have a soft spot for the Smashey and Nicey album – Bachman Turner Overdrive, Blue Oyster Cult, etc. It reminds me of watching TV with my parents. Red Dwarf as a kid… laughing at the slapstick, but not really getting the gags; and only when much older, going back to watch the episodes, and laughing even harder because I did get it by then.

I’ll always favour older songs, originality. Lyrics that tell a story. Melodies that make my chest hurt. Bass lines that make my hair stand on end. Strong colours. It depends what a genre’s got to give, really. There’re far too many post-punk, post-rock, post-indie, post-common sense bands out there. Don’t get me started on the UK charts. I don’t care if I sound old. I was called ‘old-fashioned’ at age fourteen, by one of Dad’s work mates, since I had admitted to listening to Simon and Garfunkel. It’s not my fault if a lot of music nowadays is recycled wank.

Well. I wish the Smiths would reform. I wish Syd Barrett wasn’t dead. I wish Johnny Rotten hadn’t sold his soul. If wishes were fishes, there’d be no room left in the sea, right?

It’s my favourite time of day, dusk/twilight. The day cedes to the dark. The golden glow hangs high in the trees. The sky burns from light turquoise to deepest ultramarine, in the East. My writing fingers itch, and I guess I have to answer. I’m going to eke out this night as much as possible; so many early nights, early starts in the week. I have to make the weekends last.

If I met you alone, anywhere, would you know what to say to me? I wonder.

 I love the fact that our most regal lady, the Cathedral, still hides a piece of mythology in her masonry.

Permalink 3 Comments


A great site

The Greek Analyst


The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The World of Moose

Moose's art and stuff.

Yanis Varoufakis



My Thoughts, Your Time