Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"The Leech of Farringdon Road" Intro Draft

I was born, I suppose. I'm told most people were. Not that you would have known it from mother's puckered mouth and youthful skin, of course, she was a model of chastity and virginity. From across the street, at least. Coming nearer, that marvellous plaster facade was marbled with blue and a little more rough than you first thought. Coming right up to us, dropping a penny in the cap on the stand and glancing up, as casually as you like, at her prim and silent in the shelter of the newspaper stand, and all the cracks becoming apparent, like crazy-paving, unpredictable lines fracturing that powder skin, showing something ruddier and more raw beneath the lead face paint. I'd watch the regulars who never tired of staring, smile and nod at her wondrous horror, and the new men who'd crossed the street to lech and flirt at the pretty young lady, reeling in their eyes as they smiled and nodded, shakily turning away. I could see their postures twisting, always wanting to glance back, to weigh what they'd seen against the reality they carried with them. I enjoyed my mother's unsettling presence, and I'm fairly sure she did too.
I wasn't born on the corner of course. Yet I spent years on it, and others like it. Finding the rough corners of the rough corners, watching the world go by. Spend your early lifetime on a street corner and the whole world passes by you eventually. Be garrulous enough, with your terrifying, silent mother as a lure, and people, any people, will stop and talk, their eyes slipping sideways in distraction at that ethereal disaster standing in the shadows. That distraction was useful, for all sorts of things. Stupid boys, the old dodgers would have attempted to become artful in the old ways, train long fingers to slip down gentlemen's jackets and reach for wallets, long limber digits hummingbird's tongues frantically maintaining poise and innocence, as that tongue strains for the nectar... and they would have been caught. Their lumpen mitts, untrained except in their imagination would have been grabbed. If not caught immediately, the hue and cry, the regularity of the faces would mean they never worked that corner again, and they would have had no opportunity to learn. A stupid, arrogant trick, to pick a man's wallet.
I picked their minds.
Whilst they stared at mother, as subtle as iron railings, I'd probe gently, about their lives, their families, their jobs. I'd find out what they did, who they were, what they knew, draw gently at that silken purse heavy with golden ideas. There's no laws against taking ideas that are freely given, and after years of endless, purposeful chatter I had a fairly good idea what the bits I should be reaching for were, and how to find my way there. There were currency these ideas, stuff I could swap with the other fine gentlemen who came that way, a bartering system of permanent inflation, where every transaction left me wealthier and them no poorer. It's true what they say about information being power - but it's also true that it's power that when shared is utterly disippated, to the benefit of all. To keep any information in the head of one man is theft from all, so I guess you could call me a proto-communitarian, a modern day Robin Hood... ah, that might be stretching it. I've not told you what I did with the ideas, have I?
I got me an education.
Not much of one, mind, but enough to study and understand all the pettifogging nonsense that goes on in those big companies, the needless scurrying and balancing to frustrate theft, corruption, sloth, and defection. So inefficient, this system of stitching together a hundred unwilling men, to make one lazy staggering, swaggering giant. Once I'd understood that, it was fairly easy to pick apart those little threads and push these dear, befuddled suitors one way or another. Call me Telemachus, mother Syrene.
Say here comes the obnoxious Cyril. He's not said as much, but he hates his wife. Doesn't beat her, doesn't shout, doesn't threaten. Just abandons her at every opportunity, in the house, without a word. Wanders off and drinks, and gorges, whilst her dinner goes cold, then pleads "long hours at the office" and tuts at her quiet complaints. Late nights, he'll wander past mother and I, pick up a copy of the Evening Rag, and have a quick gossip. Tells me about his cases, his techniques, reveals more than he means to, they all do.
He works as clerk at Legleman's & Juniper, fine law firm. Not quite sure what the law is myself, though I've scraped enough of it together to make a fine advocate I'm sure. Now if I just bend old Legleman's ear when he comes round one morning (and there's a fine old gentleman, all yellow Pugin-print waistcoats and dusted hats fifty years out of date. Yes, a fine man, even if it was profit all from the misery of others), now if I whisper sweet somethings into his ear, nothing fantastical, nothing direct, he might go back to the office and have a think. All that talk of mine about ditchwater and clear ponds, getting your home warm for the winter, might make him take a quick gander at his clerk's accounts. He won't quite know why, and I'm not always sure of the workings myself, but you get a nose for the sort of language a man is hiding in conversation, the words not said. I just say 'em.
So old Legleman thought he'd get his house in order, way ahead of his usual Christmas accounts, which didn't give the fragrant Cyril, time to correct his errors or hide any lazy shortcuts he'd taken early in the year. Or the money he'd taken for drink. And when he came in the following morning, bleary-eyed, Mr Legleman called him into the office, and the office thugs (Hurr, they call 'em) were waiting, and now Cyril doesn't drink any more, and the books are clear, and it's old lazy Legleman who's working late over those books, and Cyril at home, sober and being forced to get to know the woman he married from love again. As I said, I'm bloody Robin of Loxley himself.

our villain, the blackguard of the economy. initial story to set up abilities. longer story, the quality of men changing, the greed and teeth sharp in every face. Wrongs to be righted, downtrodden to be uplifted. let's knock the whole system down at once. Pull up the props under every man, nudge their ankles lightly, outward, so the whole cow sprawls on its inbred belly.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Found in a notebook

In moments of solitude, my mind, once far-ranging, now only homes in on one phrase; “mi amo”. I don’t speak Italian or any of the Romance languages, save Latin, so I don’t know what it means, but I’ve a feeling that my hindbrain /thinks/ it knows what it means; “my love”. I mumble it to myself at all times, like a mantra that removes the need for thought, introspection, awareness, alacricity. I can feel tearing, as with the sea’s withdrawing acting upon a shore-loose pebble, at my mind right now, a sleepy desire to just lie down and invoke “mi amo, mi amo, mi – amo”. And, yes, I have work to do. My love, I must work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eye Contact

Rattling along underground in a vicious humour, all around me are temporarily like me; none can see the blue of the sky. The tube disgorges beneath Kings-Cross and we all barrel out, the stick-wavers, the 20-20s and me. There's probably some of my kin around too, but we never make eye contact, head for the city. There's a city in all of our eyes, great towers of rhodopsin raising up, the rods and the cones, an empty city that collapses at the touch of light. In my city the architect's plans went awry, or he lacked imagination and my city looks all samey, not enough variety in those towering discs. As in the eye, so in the world and my world, outside the vitreous humour (if it's really there) also has lost something from that failure; colour. I look at those clouds and they're white, but I look at the blue sky beyond them, and I know it's blue, it has to be because every book I've read talks about it, every romantic pome praises that cerulean floating sea... to me it could be green, or grey or pink or purple. No idea. If I was making a new colour wheel, I'd put it under the lurid category - cos that's what all of the archetypes of those colours feel like to me. I'm blessed though; for at least I see it, unlike those poor stick-wavers who, for all their avowed, angry independence always look terrified by the tube, which lets no man take his time, as they stagger out of the carriages, one hand clutching for support one hand waving that attenna they all carry, as a warning and an aid, their replacement eyes extending a massive meter away from them. At least I've an inkling what blue is; the city of their eyes is desolate, abandoned, unresponsive, cut-off; their city outside must be beyond their comprehension.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Liverpool street, 2am

A made-up face that speaks of hours in a frilly bedroom dancing around to hair brushes, giggly from half a glass of stolen wine. What’s she doing in the city at two in the morning, with her mate begging the bus fare from a stuttering banker?

Yeah, she says. With her huge eyes, soft face, hands in the ends of her sleeves, you wouldn’t be surprised if she started sucking her thumb. She still stands in a childish way, tummy stuck out in front of her, leaning her feet outwards in unlaced sneakers. She’s looking in on an adult world. Yeah, she says, I live in Brixton.

Dangerous edgy Brixton, is the implication. Dangerous and edgy and hard, but that’s ok, I live it, I’m Brixton, I’m dark corners and ways of life that seems mysterious to you, but not me. I’m there, I’m grown-up, I’m Brixton.

But the impression she gives is soft and easy and comfortable. It’s not the hard, edgy world she wants to conjure. Hers is a Brixton with a hand written note saying Sweetie, your dinner’s in the oven. Hers is a house in a leafy side road and a Mum looking at the clock waiting for her to get back safely. Hers is a loving and gentle Brixton that whizzes past the pimps and drug dealers in a 4 by 4.

Not exactly out of her depth, but looked out for by a half dozen strangers at the bus stop, who chat with half an eye on her and her precocious mate, who’s twirling her hair for the booze-addled banker.

She’s so young she tastes of alcopops in the park. She’s so young she feels of butterflies and the thrill of staying up all night and talking to boys. She’s so young, but she can’t not be here. She has to be here, testing the world out.

But finally her bus comes and six or so strangers breathe a sigh of relief as, no longer their responsibility, she heads home.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seasonal Affairs

Well, here we are. The rain's falled in love with my window and left sickles of watery kisses all over it and its romantic sister, cold, has started to make inroads on me. I can feel her flirting as I sit here, running long frosty fingers across my flanks, paying careful attention to my knuckles, my ears. This morning my lover was the sun, all sweetness and light, feeding me flowers and letting me immerse myself, as I sprawled full length in the old red rocking chair in the front room. I pushed my dressing gown aside and showed my knees and hairy shanks to her, opened the blinds and invited her in, felt like I was kissed all over. Now ever the birds can't fly high enough for romantic entanglements with her, and they flutter haevily to rooftops to absorb warmth from the tiles, a semblance of the affection she lavished on all of us.

I'm feeling really, really lazy.

Also, and this is turning this from an exercise in creative writing into an admission of general abstraction failure, I can't bring myself to do anything when Maria's not about. Not that I want to do anything when she's here, but it's worse when she's gone. I just sit, stare at this screen and occasionally remember to eat. Mmm, this morning it was kid's mini-waffles, cheese crispy pancakes and sweetcorn on the cob. All sugar and starch and fat, mm-hmm! Just broke to eat some canned broad beans, that were delish.


Sunday, October 21, 2007


Xavier's face is under water. He's holding his breath. The surface of the water is descending towards him and is warm around him. His chest floats up and he blows out, to keep himself down on the bottom. He does it noisily, gurgling water into his mouth as does; he's not hiding. The water passes his lips and he keeps gurgling out the last of the air, the pocket in his mouth still full until he expels it rapidly. As the water descends it covers his skin with foam. He imagines sitting up, and looking at himself in the mirror and seeing himself all white foam and wiping it off to reveal the black beneath. He's not black, but the image amuses him. In fact, when he does sit it's a struggle, his thin flabby body struggling against the bath's smooth sides. He looks at himself in the mirror and it's like the first time. The foam isn't evenly distributed and he's left with large lumps at the side of his head. Rather than a smooth covering, it looks like he has large tumours growing smoothly out of his flesh, John Merrick style, and it completes alters the make-up of his face, though not necessarily in a bad way. Now it looks interesting, large liquid eyes, thick lips, collapsed cheeks and a crooked jaw flowing into smooth white asymettries of tumours.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Shallow Pool

Gower was the last of the Banteng. His mighty hooves ploughed up the fresh ground beneath trees, his proud horns shed their winter coating against the trees. He was immortal, he was invincible, he was unchallengeable.
A shot rang out. There were no more banteng.
The rangers' systems registered the death, sent out a patrol. Gower's headless body was already surrounded by carrion creatures, but the rangers drove them off and checked the corpse, saw that it was indeed Gower. They dug out the bullet for analysis, removed the tracker, took a back-up skin sample of Gower's flesh and left him to be eaten.
The systems were already in operation though, deep in the savannah station. An frozen clone embryo was brought out of storage and gently warmed up, while an automatic process started the creation of another ten to provide a single replacement. A large immune-deficient cow was selected from the large isolated flock and implanted.
The foetus grew slowly. Elsewhere systems and men analysed the bullet, found the gun, found the owner, dealt with him. The head and the magnificent horns had already disappeared into the black market but for a short time the local chain of supply was removed. Demand would replace it soon enough.
After many months, the host was euthanised and opened up by a team half vets, half butchers. The over-large calf stood up on legs like spindles and wailed and butted. It was led to its Skinner doll for milk and suckled. It had found a mother.
After twelve months the calf, to all intents and purposes, was full grown. He was drugged and, in a great cradle in an all-terrain vehicle, taken out into the spring of the national park. He woke up, was observed for weeks, was terrified, was lost, but slowly adjusted to the nights. One day he woke and there were no more watchers.
Winter went, spring came. His mighty hooves ploughed up the fresh ground beneath trees, his proud horns shed their winter coating against the trees. He was immortal, he was invincible, he was unchallengeable. With only his genes remaining from the mighty Banteng, Gower was, as ever, alone.

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