Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Eclipse - Flash Fiction



My son’s drawing from the nursery had pride of place of the refrigerator. It probably still does. Just I am not coincident with that fridge anymore. Having climbed into an icebox all of my own with the divorce. That cold-storage of permafrosted love which had once thawed child me into an tepid adult. 

I did manage to snatch an image of the daub on my camera phone. Before my ex removed me permanently from the house with ice tong fingers, while her free hand pincered her nostrils closed. Apparently I smelt more mephitic than whatever vegetation was putrefying in the fridge’s salad compartment, because she refused to provide our son a balanced diet, instead of a sugar-coated and salted quiet life.  

I had to get one of my nieces to load up the image on to my desktop and serve as the screensaver. The resolution wasn’t great, but his palette of coloured crayons illuminated the whole workstation. Pixels brighter than nuclear fusion. Daddy (stick man), (big-stick wielding) Mummy (cropped), beautiful boy (cherubic, seraphic angel), house (forfeited by mulct), tree (fit for a gibbet) and the sun improbably haloing the lot of us. It never failed to uplift me. Except when even the screensaver could no longer save its diminishing energy and the computer winked itself out. If I was in the room, I would rush to stroke the mouse and revive it. Mouth to mouth resuscitation as I planted a kiss on to the boy’s gaily coloured image of the illusory intact. But when night finally culled my own energies, the monitor was left to blinker itself and snatch him from me. Except we romped and capered together undimmed in my dreams.


She denied me updates. Both digitally captured and verified in the flesh. Reports from the school and sporting medals garnered. I hired my new best friend, expert counsel. At his behest I kept a calendar of broken arrangements. I maintained a catalogue of petty cruelties. I devised a register of behaviours deemed detrimental to his development. I made an inventory of lies and calumnies she got him to parrot down the phone, or by mispelled SMS text. My legal docket was overflowing in my computer’s dock. Folders spilling out into the body of my monitor. Each grey-blue rectangle eclipsing another segment of the screensaver. Dead pixels. I was losing him even as I fought tooth and nail to keep hold of him. My screen was saving nothing. Least of all the dying of the light. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Spires And Minarets - Flash Fiction

The Spires and Minarets of pre-war Sarajevo


Music had ceased emission from both campanile and minaret. The bells had been melted down for bullets, one of which had carried off the muezzin from the neighbouring turret.

But neither tower was bereft of more atonal sounds calling people to god. Gunfire's syncopation had played hell with the resident bats' echolocation and driven them from their belfry. Soldiers launch their slivovitz empties towards the minaret as further desecration, the tinkling of smashing glass as brandy drops impregnate the ancient brick. Down below devout and non-devout alike laid out in rows, summoned not by the Iqama, but by Death.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Tome Raider considers Georges Perec's Infamous novel "A Void" & asks whether it's gimmicky

The lipogram is a piece of writing that omits one or more letters. Imaging 285 pages of a novel without a single letter 'E' in it! Then imagine it in translation. Such a book is Georges Perec's "A Void".

I consider whether the lipogram is just a gimmick, a stylistic flourish to no particular effect by comparing "A Void" with two other books using the same literary device.

 

Monday, 5 June 2017

A Maggot - Flash Fiction





“I pluck the last apple from the fruit bowl. I wash the apple then have it sit, presenting spherical in the palm of my hand. The water globules shimmy shimmeringly as I turn the apple by its stunted stalk in the course of my inspection. They seem to draw up the apple’s red hue within their vesicular protuberance. An osmotic trompe-l’oeil. The skin appears pristine. I move into the study and am struck by a thought, what if a water droplet is precisely aligned over the wormhole caused by a boring larvae, so as to diffuse beyond my sight? I shake the apple vigorously and watch the spray of moisture fly off like a swarm fledging. There remain fewer, but more tenacious drops, elongated by their smearing perturbation on the surface of the apple. I briefly think of Newton. The stem bowl, already a recessed tunnel of sorts, is particularly hard to descry, being of similar hue to larval frass. However this whole morsel does indeed seem untouched and virginal. Apart from the chemicals waxing it verglas of course. Confident that there would be no codling moth larval Amundsen defeating my caterpillary Scott in the race to the core, I sink my teeth into the red peel. A mist of the apple’s own juices flies out into the air. Too fine to echo the beads of water purged by the action of my earlier convulsion, also they leave no darkening umbrage on the carpet. As I chew the pulpy mixture of soft rind and crisper pome, I inspect the lacerations in skin collapsed like a mine shaft and see the borders picked out by the indentations of my teeth. Ordered like a file of marching insects. Why are my mind’s associations with this fruit always insectival? Liquid beads on red skin could so easily conjure up the flesh of a mate emerging from the shower, or a swimming pool. I blame my mother. Or Eve. Or the serpent. I take another bite which has a more percussive sonance, presumably because there is no muting by the softer outer casing. My teeth impressions have vanished, as has the red skin to reveal the white seam beneath. I revolve the apple to its south face in order to offer me its unscaled scarp, but in doing so I must have pincered it too hard and the pads of my fingers are sunk into the tender flesh. I pick at the puckered rind with the point of my fingernail until I have abraded it away. Sure enough the cells beneath have bruised under the imprint of my digital pressure. I marvel at the celerity of the discolouration, even as I am disgusted by my clumsy adulteration of the fruit. I reduce the span of my bite to nibble the flesh either side of the blemish, as the appetising pleasure falls away, reducing to just the chore of consuming it. I'm beginning to think I would have been better off with a glass of draught cider. By its end, the habitual aesthetic satisfaction of scrimshawing to the hourglass core, remains still denatured by the canker of the bruised protrusion. Like a chrysalis awaiting to hatch the apple’s seeds buried beneath. I throw the core into the recycling bin. No, that’s the wrong appellation. Into the organic waste receptacle”. 



I woke the next morning and readied to edit the manuscript. I picked up a red biro and steeled myself that this draught would involve no proofing, but solely focus on a purge of the metaphorical element. For I had tossed and turned half the night, concerned that the piece contained too much symbolism, rendering it far removed from the actual experience I was trying to harvest. Having said all that, the very first amendment I made, was to add a comma within the second sentence. Sure enough in no time at all the paper was soon spotted with red warts. But these were all superficial syntactical markers. I was irritated with my own ill-discipline. I had plumped for the surface soft rind rather than the crisper pome beneath. I plucked the sheet of paper and wafted it in the air away from me, by way of symbolic gesture to have the spray of red corrigenda fly off like a swarm fledging. That in my imagination the paper would return to its untouched and virginal state, prior to this premature waxed verglas edit. My head now cleared, I reapplied it towards fresh inspection of the text. However it was as if my little ritualistic conceit had taken actual form, for I seemed to have been left with a mote in my eye. The characters on the page, both the red and black, started to diffuse. They shimmered shimmeringly. Momentarily confused, I shut my eyes trying to clear their wateriness in order to return the apple of my eye that was my own writing, to its pristine, stable state. But the caterpillary convulsion continued. The ink, surely dried from yesterday’s initial application, was beginning to run. The letters elongated by their smearing perturbation on the surface of the paper. Re-ordered like a file of marching insects, peeling themselves right off the folio. A few, more tenacious letters clung on in place, while their neighbours bored tunnels of their escape. I imagined that I could almost perceive a mist of deliquesced letters flying out into the air. The few remaining letters looked stunted, pit props vainly trying to brace a collapsed mine shaft. Lacerations amid the text wherever you looked. The red and black inks now blended and merged into an unsightly discolouration. An ever-darkening umbrage, my script had the appearance of nothing less than insect frass. My ideas were evanescing in front of my very eyes. The paper regressed back to its pulp. Even the pen’s indentations formerly filled and occupied by ink, were smoothing out their puckered selves and returning to first flush of a pristine white seam. An unscaled scarp. How do I know this? Because I rushed to seize a pencil from my writing bureau and began to shade across the grain hoping to reveal the vanished letters. But to no avail. I pincered the paper hard between the pads of my fingers and shook it vigorously. This only ruptured the tender tissue, as if it really had become degraded through moisture undermining its integrity. This pulpy chrysalis had no seeds of creativity left to hatch. My text denatured by the canker of words. I balled the leaf up wrinkled spherical, sat presented in the palm of my hand where it proceeded to unfurl some of its serpent coils. Its insectival wings. I threw its empty core into the recycling bin. No, that’s the wrong appellation. Into the organic waste receptacle. 



Friday, 2 June 2017

People Just Don't get It - The British general Election

This election like recent votes, will be decided by a mindset that I just don't think people have cottoned on to. Folk who are doing okay for themselves just don't care about anyone else. The old social ties that bound us together began to be dismantled in the 1980s and now that process has come to fruition.

Ironically for a party that stand for traditional values, the Conservatives are benefitting from one of those values being utterly torn up and discarded; that of religion. If anyone attends a religious service in the UK today, chances are they are from a recent immigrant background. Active Christianity is a negligible force in the UK. No one believes in heaven and eternal life. We all know we're here for a one-shot deal on earth and this has contributed to the sensibility of making the most of your one terrestrial spin. People don't care about the future beyond their lifetime. The state of the planet; the preservation of a Welfare State and the NHS in particular (if people can afford private health cover, then they're not bothered about the NHS, despite the fact that it will still bear the onus of treating their cancer or stroke rather than a private hospital); talking about pressing the nuclear button in a way that no one has broached since the 1980s, where's the future in that?

But surely people are  concerned with the legacy to pass on to their children you say? Well rather than a class divide, we now have an age divide. As long as you can leave money and or a house to your children, then you credit that is legacy enough. Parental job done. The planet and our welfare can just go and rot, our kids will be buffered by money just as we are. That's why the dementia tax caused such uproar, it threatened financial heirlooms. With rising house values and protected pension locks, the aged have done very well in the 21st Century, despite low interest returns on their savings. Their children and grandchildren on the other hand, have seen the prospect of home ownership disappear, their education cost them dear when their parents probably had the state pay for theirs and a shrinking job market with no jobs for life anymore and all manner of exploitation such as unpaid interns, zero-hours contracts and the like. 

People just don't care about anyone other than themselves. That's why they vote Tory who service this sensibility. The sooner you realise that, then you can stop railing ineffectually about media bias and start to think creatively how to combat this.