Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Oldest Profusion - Flash Fiction


I paraded in peignoir, basque, thong, stockings, garters and heels, along the catwalk of his imagination. Clotheshorse me, when his seasonal design is to me saddle me naked. Ultimately to leave no lingering lingerie eclipsing my flesh from his solar flaring gaze, his sidereal probing fingers. No celestial bridge of sighs, but mere pumping caisson, pontoon poon. As his hands perform a stiff dance of the seven veils, starchily dismantling the silk garlands and wreaths he had insisted I caparison myself with, my mind drifts as to where he came by such a hackneyed assemblage. Mail order catalogues? (That precisely dates his vintage). Doorcrack glimpses of his mother? Camera Obscura erotica or illicit daguerrotypes? (I am reaching too far back in time). Nonetheless, whatever the deep lying wellspring, still a dreary, trite imago from which his particular grubby bedbug emerges. His bromide afflatus supposed to becalm me, only serves to stroke my dander. My scabs, scales and less than immaculate macula, thrust themselves beseechingly at him as proof of flawedness, a stiletto stab of subjectivity. But he is lost inside his head. Where I am entombed. Behind his hyaline eyes I have no substance. Me mere stained glass window (with the emphasis on ’stained’), to stop up his gaze and interdict the light that would adjure me depth. The lifeless wrinkles of husked silk on the floor bore more dimensions than the stripped me. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

It's Not Me, It's You - Personal Pronoun Songs

1) De La Soul - "Me, Myself & I"
When I was at university, there was this party where some young kid was going round anyone who'd listen brandishing this cassette tape (Yes I'm that old) in which he claimed he'd recorded a song that de La Soul had ripped off to become "Me, Myself & I" and a huge hit. No one would give him the time of day and of course there's no proving the provenance or the timing of his tape, but it was virtually a clone of his version. Don't know quite how De La Soul from New York came to hear a home made tape by some kid in East Anglia, but there you go. We begin this playlist with a conspiracy theory.



2) Delta 5 - "You"
I wish this band had made more records. Part of that new wave scene from leeds that included Gang Of Four and Mekons, they made great funky, angular music with potent lyrics.



3) Sly & The Family Stone - "Thank You Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin"
And talking of peerlessly funky... Just a point on the economics of rock music, as great as it it, when you have this many members of a band, it is impossible for them to make any money, apart from the writer of the songs who has music publishing points.



4) Stone Roses - "She Bangs The Drums"
The second best Stone Roses' song



5) Gang Of Four - "He'd Send In The Army"
I wish guitarist Andy Gill & singer Jon King weren't always falling out as they could have made loads more great music than they actually did. They made the album "Content" after a hiatus of some 20 years and then King promptly left the band again.



6) Ice Cube - "Now I Gotta Wetcha"
Most helpful of Mr Cube to explain at the start of the song that "wetcha" is not referring to the hosepipe start of a wet t-shirt competition.



7) Public Enemy - "Miuzi Weighs A Ton"
Did you what what they did there? Mi Uzi elided into Miuzi. As they say in the North of England.



8) MC 900Ft Jesus - "The Killer Inside Me"
A white rapper who largely went under the radar but produced two rather wonderful albums.




9) Pink Military - "Did You See Her?"
This song gets me every time. One album wonders.



10) NWA - "Express Y'self"
For all the confrontational angst of their first album, this little dance gem popped out as well. And great it is too. Not just because it rhymes "Moving like a tortoise, full of rigor mortis"



11) Gang of Four - "It's Her Factory"
perhaps not surprising that Gang Of Four whose songs were all about the politics of the personal appear twice in this chart. This was only ever a throwaway B-Side but packs an off key punch, but then Gang of Four never really did anything throwaway.




12) Norris Reid - "Protect Them"
Environmentalism in reggae before anyone had really coined the term let alone formed a viable political movement. Like so many religious theologies, the notion of the precious interconnectedness of all life as god's creations, somewhere gets lost along the lines of religious practise.



13) Cop Shoot Cop - "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose"
Celebrating bands with two bass guitars rather then the usual guitar and bass line up. My favourite type of music noise!



14) Arctic Monkeys - "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor"
Didn't they used to be a thing a few years ago?



15) Clipse - "I'm Not You"
Clipse's debut album is fantastic rap but then they seemed to suffer from the pressures of success and subsequent albums seemed to have them on the point of emotional breakdown as revealed by their lyrics. Definitely a rap group to track down, coming from neither the bloated hip hop traditions of New York or California



16) Boss Hog - "I Dig You"
Husband and wife duo in soppy mood, though being Boss Hog this is completely out to lunch.



17) The Tubes - "I Was A Punk Before You Were A Punk"
Were they punk? Were they Meatloaf in a band format? Either way they did have a couple of top tunes.



18) White Stripes - "I'm Slowly Turning Into You"
I never really bothered with the back story, playing at brother and sister when actually they were married, but I did like the songs.



19) Funkadelic - "We Hurt Too"
I think Funkadelic were my favourite of all George Clinton's incarnations. The "America Eats its Young" is a fabulous album without a weak track on it.



20) Sonic Youth - "Protect Me You"
People bang on about the signature guitar sound of a Johnny Marr (Smiths) or Slash (Guns N Roses) but there's nothing quite as unique as Sonic Youth's guitar sounds with their odd tunings.





Thursday, 8 September 2016

Shibboleth - Flash Fiction

He charged five bucks a head. Frat pledgers, his fellow medical students of course, criminology majors who wanted to experience something beyond dry textbook case law and the freaks, voyeurs and pervs and drunks on a dare. Didn’t matter what their motivation, they all behaved so predictably around the cadavers. So unimaginatively. Posed in tableaus non-vivant they credited would demarcate them as animate set against the lifeless. Asking him to snap shots on their phones, you don’t get red eye from the dead that’s how you tell the difference. Though their mouths were smiling, their flesh betrayed them with lines and rucks of tension as against the smooth, unpinched mound of the dead. Emboldened, drunker or lightheaded from the embalming fumes, then they became more outrageous and yet more trite. More base. They started playing with the appendages. Dreary little skits and mockeries of sex. He wanted to charge them an extra five for the privilege but deferred seeing how ramped up they were. He merely issued a plea that these snapshots remain private and never see the light of day. No matter what the degradation heaped upon the corpses, they still bore more dignity than their abusers.


He now a fully qualified doctor of the flesh. Yet he was present as a medical officer not to heal, rather to insure that the ‘correctives’ left no visible sign of injury. He had to advise on when certain instruments and techniques threatened to leave their imprint on skin and how to forestall that. After all even in this secure facility, loose cameraphones could sink ships. But what he hadn’t reckoned on was a reprise of the tableaus from his past. Only this time with still living flesh. And this was not downtime activity, but part of the interrogative process. The torturers recreated mounds of human carrion with the living prisoners and asked him to snapped shots of themselves manhandling the breathing carcasses with the same scorn as those back at school did with the lifeless. He’d say their scenarios were no less vapid and asinine than with the corpses, but this was qualitatively different. This time he would not be charging a viewing fee. And he took the photos that he snapped and leaked them at the first opportunity.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Geriatric Or Treat? - Flash Fiction

He knew he would never ski again. Nor ever take a swim in the sea. No more playing football, not even kicking a ball around in the garden with his grandson, doddering versus toddling. And tonight, he gathered, was to be his last occasion of carnality. 

As the woman divested herself and confronted him with her nakedness, though hardly a mirror, her quailing, failing flesh reflected his own. She looked no less ravaged than he did, even though he adjudged her considerably less advanced in years. Her rot was presumably more protractedly drawn out, the pain more blunted than his own onrush. Nudity presented her scars, both surgical and unqualified corrective and regardless that he himself currently had no wounds, he knew his senescent body was beyond any ability to heal itself.

Prostitute propriety had proscribed kissing which probably represented a joint reprieve. A mocking respiration as each would be moiling to breathe some life into the other. His mouth usually so dry, was now brimming precipitantly with a necrotic bubbling of mucus and deliquescing squamous epithelial cells. She had her own earthy tang, but he certainly didn’t want to be trajecting his own inhumation reek into her mouth. 

Incrementally he winched himself atop his mount like a chainmailed cavalier of old. Immediately his body protested the (im-)posture. Muscle memory evacuated his tissue like vermin from a holed ship. Fluid drained from the interstices around what was left of his sinew definition. Blood fleeing his capillaries going god knows but where. Replaced by rheum and serum. Watering him down. Diluting his puissance. Depleting him. Swelling skin and tumescence everywhere except where it was required. He was drowning from within. Saturated and suffocating. He wheezed an appeal to swap positions, if she might otherwise mount him. Wordlessly she hoisted her dimpled flank and allowed him to burrow beneath. 

Perhaps this had all been a fiendish plan by his son. To kill off the old man. An Oedipal closing of the circle, from when he himself had inducted him into the art of lovemaking by taking him to a prostitute on his 18th birthday, as many fathers were charged with back then. Now returning the favour in full knowledge of its likely fatality. If the blue pill accelerant he had slipped into his hand wasn’t fit to burst his heart, then the exertion against the rockface of the woman might see the endeavour through. Dying while on the job, passing over with a smile on your face, wasn’t that supposedly the dream of every male of the species? His facial musculature so atrophied, that a smile was beyond it, rather it being set firm in a permanent rictus. But how could his son possibly possess such precise knowledge of the extent of his physical decay? Could he have precociously gleaned the indignities that come with age? He hoped for his sake he did not. 

She was jouncing costively over him, with each crush landing buffeting his legs as though he were on a Medieval torture rack. Her pigmentation atop him never altered a jot, while he felt his own becoming pallid and bloodless. He looked down at himself and saw the spreading bruises. His body was collapsing. Putrefying before he had actually died. He imagined the bones of his skeleton becoming disarticulated, no longer bound together by sinewy ligatures. Her hollowness was so stark, he couldn’t ascribe to her any intentionality, but it was if her movements were trying to shuck him from his body. In a quest to leave what, to distil his soul? He snorted mordantly, or perhaps it was his own inner corrosion that eructed forth the snort. 

Tears filled his eyes but were too insipid to break over the levees of his reptilian folds of skin. Tears elsewhere on his rind, stretched taut by desiccation until the rolls and wrinkles of his puckered ancient parchment rent. Where there were lesions he could only picture writhing worms. Where there were blisters he envisioned scurrying flies laying their eggs. He conceived his own stench to be even more flagrantly putrid now, beyond the parochial hook of his own nostrils. None of this exhumed any lust. Liquid discharge from every place on his body except the essential, focal one. His own member was the ultimate recruit to the army of worms, mucilaginous, shrivelled and blind. He closed his eyes. 
The best (?) sex was that in which you surrendered awareness of your body. Either your mind was so transported in bliss that it could no longer register its containing husk. Else your whilom wrapping had melded with that of your lover so you could not tell where one ended and the other begun. But here he was utterly conscious of each grievous corporeal symptom. And not because it was borne out of the commercial nature of the congress, nor down to the lack of intimacy through being two complete strangers to the precise nature of each another’s mien. The best (?) sex could either peel you or melt you sweatily clean away. But always at the agency of the other’s body rather than your own. Yet gravity’s grubby force was archly engineering this cast. A geometry of failed configuration and solipsistic arrangement. Two incongruent bodies, blankly bearing neither surfaces nor curves, instead succumbing wholly to the pressures brought from within. Mutual self-absorption without any design on autonomy. Lacking any stout tensility, his vermicular organ kept squirming out from her shaved crevasse. She must have been sensate enough to register this slippage as she bevelled her pelvis to try and handlessly re-inter it into her catacumbal vault. But her stubbled apron only served to triturate and thresh, as if his stub were a cigarette she was grinding extinguished under a booted heel beneath her lamp-post. Sometimes in the past, sexual agonies could be thrilling. Tonight they were just annihilating.

The brain would be the last thing to go. But then it would be forever persecuted by the constant realisation and acknowledgement of each preceding deficient organ and wanting apparatus. Of all the activities its courier was no longer capable of. Lashing it cruelly by constantly revisiting unobtainable memories. His ausgespielt body was too decrepit to sustain his rage against it. It shouldn’t be like this. It was never like this. The act of coition which ceded life and germinated cell reproduction, now disintegrating his cells and culling into death. 



Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Eleventh Century Forest Folio - Flash Fiction




In the days before their wood was pulped for paper for recording our stories and lore, the trees ranged tall and proud. Their canopied shrouds woven so dense as to shutter the pagan sun and shackle its chains of stippled light like that inside a cathedral. Thus was it hallowed and christened a Black Forest. The heathen wind beat at the foliose awning demanding its own profaning passage, but it too was unable to part the green sea’s verdant vault. Its bellowing huff only gusted voice to the foliage, made the leaves prattle and prate. Suspire and susurrate. Their excited descant the canticles of the forest. Cowled monks up in the gods looking down on the Mystery Plays enacted on the apron of the forest floor. Their incantational exegesis prompting the actors yonder, the same as ants palpated the aphids marching up and down their bark. Those actors, they are the shadowy figures without shadows, moving across the leaf litter in the perpetual crepuscular gloom. Red crosses embroidered the length of their surcoats. Or crudely bodkined into the coarse jerkins of their peasant retinue. Emblazoning the furious stigmata of a turn-the-other-cheek god. Their hearts basted in Christian love and blood. And then this tenebrous cortege is gone like dissipated rime. Without any especial acknowledging comment or commentary from the congregation above. For all the inflorescent chatter, do you notice what is absent from among this verdure? Not a single birdsong to counterpoint the sonorous umbrage. For even a goshawk would be hard pressed to navigate any arrowed path through the copious legion of tree trunks. The aerial choir has been denominated utterly for the arboreal and to stand no avian squatters. Without birds, the forest floor was assigned the unchallenged kingdom of insects. Beetles, spiders, woodlice, weevils, earwigs, ticks, grasshoppers, crickets, centipedes and millipedes, patrolling the fallen leaves of oblation. In light of the lack of wind to disseminate the pollinated spores, and the dearth of birds to have the seeds strewn from their brimming maws, the insects are bringers of life and futurity to the trees. But still they also retained their customary character as equerries of putrefaction. The leaves they worked on the ground were desiccated, shrivelled and withered. Wizened blades curled back over, in contorted supplication for vain grant of continued life. Adrift and cut off from their ligneous lineages. Packed down upon one another. A tumultuous tumulus. A more brittle rustling patter under the tread of unseen trespassers, than that of the crepitation high above. Parched voices. Dried out and arid, their swathed wreaths are not those crowning triumphal evergreen firs and pines, rather those marking death. Preserved, frozen in the convulsive bearing of their deathly descent. A stopped up scream, released and reprised solely under the boot of human tread, or the padding of insect tarsus and palp. But they are not solely respiring about their own demise. They have preserved an echo across their wan brown corpus. Every crispy purl a murmured lamentation to a person slain by those shadowy knights. The hatred locked in their breasts, passing down like sap through their stride and graving its impression into the skein of the leaf litter. Each sepal a memorial flame for those who have no altars or grottos of their own to hold any such candles of commemoration. The Jews’ churches having been razed, their quondam settlements erected in clearings in the forest now themselves cleared and returned to the bosom of the earth, the bones of their people to the soil. Soon there would be no sign that they had ever dared to carve out some land for themselves they had once called home. It was as if the knights had been summoned up by the forest to reclaim its dominion from these trespassers. Their sacred mutual blood bond to extirpate all usurpers both here and in the holy land. Each year retold by the tramp of the local villagers, the woodcutters and charcoal burners, the poachers and smelters who are deaf to the tale drummed up by their own boots. A fresh carpet folio of leaves each year, though gradually more of the forest would be cleared, greedily gobbled up by the town of Mainz, where in time the printing press would arise to preserve a definitive record and the leaves would have to recite their litanies of death no more. But in a deeper time, considerably removed from before trees were culled for printing paper, their ancestors lay pressed and pulped far subterranean and submerged. A fuel source markedly outstripping that of charcoal and timber and one that would power the factories of death that would burn the descendants of the surviving Jews of Mainz, Worms and Trier. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Olympian Spirit Moneygoround




If you're British, you're almost certain to have rapturously enjoyed the Olympic jamboree and Britain's record medal haul. When international tournaments go well for Britain, we bask in success and indulge in flag-waving nationalism. So we crow about how our tiny island race of some 65 million people defeated the 1 billion plus population of China in the medal table. So did the 350 million population of the USA and India, which also has a 1 billion + population, notched no gold medals at all and a paltry 2 in total.

What this chest-thumping whooping fails to reveal is that if you averaged the amount of financial investment in elite sports performance by the government across each head of population, then it should be no surprise that Great Britain out-performed China and that India barely registered at all at the Olympics. GB spends heavily on sports, ever since our humiliation in the 1990s when we secured a solitary single gold and then Prime Minister John Major (a big sports fan himself) committed to a programme of investment, buttressed by National Lottery money, to ensure the country never felt so humiliated again. In 2012 of course we had the extra expense of staging the Olympics and Paralympics in London, whose costs went way over budget because incompetent politicians had missed basic factors like including Value Added Tax and which as a Londoner, I knew we were going to have to end up paying the shortfall out of our pockets. And yes, the shebang was a great success and showed London off to its best side, but still not worth the money in my opinion. If you wanted any evidence, look no further than the white elephant of the Olympic Stadium itself, not offering any imagined heritage to future generations of Olympic sportsmen and women, but sold off for a song on a peppercorn to a professional Premiership football club earning multi-millions in its own right as a member of the most successful sporting franchise outside of the USA and incidentally to a club owned by two ex-pornographers.

As our gold medal success has been plastered across the front page of all our newspapers and dominated television news programmes even though the BBC has been broadcasting the events wall to wall so there is no escaping it as news anyway, the social commentators tell us it isn't just about patriotism. They claim that after the bruising Brexit campaign that has split the country right down the middle, the Olympic success has healed and united the nation and brought us all back together as one as we get behind our athletes. If that was one of the purposes of all that investment, how is it any different to when Iron Curtain countries used to invest heavily in their sport to flim-flam their citizens who were going without and for propaganda purposes? The only difference I can see is that our government aren't pumping our hammer-throwers full of growth hormone and our gymnasts full of growth-retardant hormone as a matter of course. Oh and it's not true by the way, our faultlines and splits are still present as evidenced by the row over where to hold the victory parade with demands for it to be away from London, one of the major pressures in the Brexit campaign, of London being viewed as needing taking down a peg or two and the rest of the country not getting its due.

So to me all this rapture over success misses the point. While there are never any guarantees in the outcome of sporting contests, we pretty much bought our success. While our defeated opponents in the cycling Velodrome carp and whine about it being an unfair playing field in track cycling because of the investment, the technological advantages and the sheer professionalism of GB cycling, they do have a point. Golf and tennis are in the Olympics, possibly the two most well-paid individual sports and a million miles away from the amateur Olympian spirit of yore. Yes the world has moved on, but in the GB hockey team, some of the players are going to return to play professional hockey with their club teams in Holland and Germany, while another is going back to her accountancy studies, so while some of the amateur spirit lives on, it really is professionalism that equates to success. And while we're talking about GB hockey success, I have never seen a British team so white and blonde haired as that. That suggests to me a problem of access and a lack of diversity and critically a lack of heritage as was promised by us hosting the 2012 Games. Maybe their ultimate success this time round will open up their sport to all comers, but I doubt it.

And just to put the tin lid on money's centrality to the modern day Olympics, Brazil was the first country in Latin America to host the event, yet it is so financially straitened, it is now saying that it can't afford to run a full Paralympic Games. Stadiums were half-empty because its citizens couldn't afford the prices and yes while they may have no tradition in Greco-Roman Wrestling, neither does Britain but our greater income levels meant we could still afford to pack out the event in London 2012.

Today as our newspapers go wild with their wraparound photo spreads of our triumphant heroes, on those same front pages they carry stories of our National health Service having to cut back on operations it can offer in the winter through its perennial funding crisis and there is a story about schoolgirls' stress levels being through the roof, so not much evidence there of any heritage from sporting success.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Accentuate The Positive - Flash Fiction


He received a smack across his chops. A sonorous slap acutely stinging his kisser. Imprinting a scarlet macula upon his crimson labia. Her immaculate acrimony no longer shellacked behind a pacific patina of civility. An accumulated tumulus of bruisable wisecracks, now she had come back with an unacceptable contusion of her own. His lack of accolades for her literary accomplishments had snapped her self-accord. Acted as an accelerant to her lashing out. Ransacking her own pitch-black love sump, she offered him an ice-pack to which he circumspectly acceded. The hack’s grammatical prose may not have been accurate, but her uppercut was.