Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pigeon English - Friday Flash

She was from Portugal, he Latvia. This much they had established through their second and third languages. English as the lingua franca. That and a good deal of pointing both at themselves and the imaginary latitudes of their mother tongue homelands from here in the heart of Trafalgar Square. Their respective crows may not fly straight and true, but two pidgins were very much in evidence.

Though many words were missing from their ungainly English, the effect was to make their exchange seem strangely formal. Clipped of the flourishes of metaphor, it was to the point, yet none too expressive nor invasive.

"The weather, it is good for touring"

"Yes. Perfect".

"Have you seen much?"

"Yes, I have seen many things".

Back home such an utterance might have been delivered in their native language with an audibly heavy heart, at all the miseries witnessed. Here, merely a statement of a dedicated application to sightseeing. All prattle maintained fluffy and light.

Nor were they fluid enough to punctuate their speech with inflection or emphatic gestures. Yet it didn't seem to hinder understanding in the slightest. In fact, it made for a certain crystalline clarity. Perhaps they were just too concentrated on pouring all their energies into properly elocuting such alien words, rather than injecting them with any weight.

"Charming" was her reply to his polite if vacuous probing as to how she was finding her stay in England. By which she didn't quite mean that all the English were charming, (the hawkers at the London Eye had been a bit too importunate, while as for the demonstrators outside the Houses Of Parliament, one didn't need to understand the precise content hurled toward the venerable edifice to know it was vitriolic. Their faces contorted in hate told her all she might ever need to know). Nor did it quite mean she herself had been charmed. But charm was the closest English transliteration she possessed, for a more complex set of responses she was simply unable to give voice to. It seemed to please him for an answer, since he enthusiastically seconded her seeming endorsement like a nodding dog with a sugar high. At least the conversation, the connection, was persisting. Limping along, however stiltedly.

Each enunciation was followed by a hiatus before a response was forthcoming. It was like witnessing a conversation conducted via interpreters whispering through invisible headphones. The wan smile or slow shake of the head emerged long after the reverberation of the inquiry had died away on the air.

"... you like, yes?" The 'yes' not being entirely transparent as to whether it's a triumphant self-affirmation of a successfully uttered sentence, or a genuine seeking after her response to the particular inquiry. Her response gives little indication either. A wordless grin, for which lacking the calipers of intimacy he could not calibrate its dimensions in order to span towards her intent.

She extended her hand out for a valedictory shake at the same time- or was it possibly a split second reaction time late?- he dipped in his head to plant a kiss on her cheek. She rocks back on her heels before swiping her still poised arm across his face. The percussion of which forces us pigeons reflexively to take momentarily to the air.

We see at least a hundred of these scenes every day, even between speakers of the same language. Seems like whatever the impediments to shared language, such misunderstandings are universal. Beyond communication.

Us pigeons felt safe enough to flap back down to the ground and resume our cooing. We did however, have to form a guard of honour parting the way as the Portuguese lady stormed off.

The language of love? It's strictly for the birds...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Lost Sole - Friday Flash

Lone shoe on the grass verge. Flat, black, cheap patent. Three rhinestones by the toe. Lone star. Dainty. Lady's shoe. Lady's fingers, okra's too stringy for me. The old woman who lived in a shoe, on a shoestring budget. Cinderella's slipper among the broken glass. Limping home in a solitary shoe. Light scuffing, slightly worn heel. But perfectly wearable. Flat shoe not broke. Was she drunk when it slipped off? How else could she not notice? Maybe the other shoe's somewhere around here. Some would-be local Imelda will see she's down a pair. Just three for me, trainers, oxblood DMs and leather uppers for weddings/ funerals. Downers. Women buy new shoes that are different. Men look to exactly replace what is worn out. Once my DMs had their air sole punctured by a nail. £50 for a new pair. Doc Marten would turn in his grave if he knew his remedial footwear had become a fashion item. The slip on. A quick escape into the outside world. Shooing yourself out of the house. Shoo like a pest. Anything but a shoe-in. That Arab journalist who threw his shoe at a US President. The sole of the shoe has always been regarded as the lowest of the low. And with the dogshit round here you can see why. Unlike the noble soul. No shoes on in a Mosque. Entering sacred ground, the mundane earth must be kept outside. My mother operated a version of the same dirt anxiety. But hers was more borne out of avoiding inconvenience. Feet unconfined by shoes are free to grow. Accordingly I have unfeasibly large plates, bigger than anyone else in the family and a bugger to buy my size. Only size 7 shoes arrayed in a shoe shop. Shoes arrayed outside a Mosque. Sign of life and vibrant community. Solitary shoe here, sign of loneliness and abandonment.
Something unsettling about abandoned shoes.
News footage of massacres and bomb atrocities. People shedding their footwear as they try and run, or are blown to kingdom come so all that remains in contact with the earth is their shoe. Actually, now I come to remember as well, the Auschwitz museum has a room filled with abandoned shoes. Just stacked willy nilly to convey the scale. The extirpation of a community and a race.
I hope the woman got home okay.

Many thanks to Elly @quietriot_girl for title

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Suffragette Ditties - Politics and Pop

Music and politics make for specious bedfellows. Three minute potted versions of ideologies or praxes tend to sell them a bit short. Or maybe by punching your fist in the air to the anthemic chorus, the walls of Jericho/Babylon/Disneyland will inevitably crumble and fall. But generations of youth WILL persist in believing they can dance their way into wreaking radical change. Mind you, with the boot on the other foot, when politicians try and hitch to the music bandwagon, they just end up looking risible. Anyone remember Red Wedge?

Yes there are the occasional successful yokings, Jerry Dammers' "Free Nelson Mandela" twinned with a Wembley concert being one. But Rock Against racism for example, ended up by being a battle to win hearts and minds of sections of its own audience attracted to skinhead bands such as Madness and Sham 69, while being diametrically opposed to the politics being espoused from the stage. And what prompted the rise of the movement in the first place? Outrage at Eric Clapton expressing support for the views of Enoch Powell.

Anyway, for your delectation and possible amusement, here is a list of 11 political songs. Don't get me wrong, I love all 11, but let's just say some of their sentiments fall a tad short of reality.

1) "Motor City Is Burning" - MC5

Ah the 1960's, the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and students up in arms. Detroit residents MC5 take John Lee Hooker's song and give it some pep to mark the denizens of their home town taking it upon themselves to indulge in some urban clearance. Only everybody forgot the renewal part of the process.

2) "Up Against The Wall" - Tom Robinson Band

THE late 1970's political band with songs such as "Glad To Be Gay" and "Ride On Sister". This ditty named a lot of the issues that saw the Labour government booted out in 1979, and anticipated generational confrontation. But the "Panic in County Hall" line didn't really come to fruition. Instead, under the free market, County Hall is now an aquarium.

3) "Handsworth Revolution" - Steel Pulse

Released prior to the 1980's riots, "If it takes ammunition/ Then we revel in Handsworth Revolution" came true. Except the revolution bit that is. It is still rather a beautiful song, giving a hint to the gospel influence behind it, but "Babylon is falling/ It was foolish to build it on the sand" could have been said of UK reggae music itself, having been eclipsed by rap, hip-hop, grime and dub step.

4) "English White Boy Engineer" - Three Johns

Three lads from Leeds all called John and not a drummer between them. This was an anti-apartheid song that actually reveals great intelligence, but the Three Johns were never a band with the mass appeal for the song to help bring down some regime in a far away land.

5) "We've Got A Bigger Problem Now" - Dead Kennedys

San Francisco punks rewrote their own earlier song about Californian Governor Jerry Brown and updated it for another son of the Golden State made good, Ronald Reagan. In the era of Silicon Valley and Friedman's Monetarism, American punks and fans alike got in their gas guzzling cars and played gigs in towns which would have them. The nation didn't fall. "California Uber Alles" is a nice touch though.

6) "1824 Overture" - Conflict

Don't be misled by the seeming erudition of the title, (the year the Vagrancy Act was introduced), for this song rhymes "SUS" with "bus".

7) "Armagh" - Au Pairs

The Troubles in Northern Ireland was the backdrop to many a song. Some of the actual natives like Stiff Little Fingers directly confronted the issues, others like The Undertones opted to ignore them and concentrate on songs about chocolate and girls. Birmingham band Au Pairs were all about sexual politics, showing that men and women together could make, like music man. This song was about a women's prison in Armagh, which by curious numerological coincidence contained 32 female prisoners, accused of fighting for the unification of the 32 counties.

8) "Illegal Attacks" - Ian Brown

Recipient of the New Musical Express' 2006 "Godlike Genius Award" wears his heart on his sleeve about the recent wars the UK has been dragged into. His planetary sized brain offers that they are in all likelihood "Commercial crusades", but neglects to offer the legal proofs suggested by the song's title. "How many mothers to cry?/How many sons have to die?" is a really rather tired lyric these days. Not quite so god-like after all. But the video is rather good.

9) "Cry No More" - Poison Girls

Poison Girls were a hardcore (politically not musically) anarchist band associated with the likes of communards Crass. But this song rather beautifully enunciates compassion fatigue before we had a name for it, even if that isn't its original intention.

10) "Police And Helicopter" - John Holt

I'm not going to get flippant about this one at all, since it's possibly the most searingly militant song I've ever heard. It's a single issue song about the battle over Jamaica's marijuana production. Holt's slice of roots reggae starts with the class deference of "Yes boss, yes, boss, yes boss" but ratchets up the stakes with the ferocious eye for an eye declaration "But if you continue to burn up de herbs, we gonna burn down the cane fields". And cannabis is supposed to be a becalming drug?

Special bonus track (this one goes up to 11)

11) Public Enemey - "Fight The Power"

Cos I like it!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

I'm A Literary Constructivist (Apparently)

Last Wednesday was "International Literacy Day" and the wonderful Deanna Schrayer felt she wanted to honour that by celebrating language. Thus she created the "Literacy Builder" Award and sent out the first round of honourees.

From that my favourite ministering angel in the whole Twitterverse who makes me do things that are good for my soul and take my literary medicine because it's good for me Linda Simoni-Wastila conferred this honour upon me for which thank you very much Linda.

So I have to offer 5 words that tickle me each day I rise from my slumbers. After this list, then I pass on the baton to three other master/mistress crafters of the word.

Okay, firstly my five oft used words and the first one will come as no surprise, though I'm actually opting for the adjectival rather than the verb which is how I tend to use it in about every alternate friday flash I write:

LIMINAL - hovering at the threshold, since I write in order to interrogate the precise nature of reality, the liminal always comes up as that state passing from one thing into something completely different.

SEBACEOUS - the nature of or resembling tallow or fat oh dear, another adjective, I'm afeared I'll be drummed out of the plain English fiction writers guild, well so be it... Um I write about the human body a lot and am always looking for metaphors for the sense of touch, the feel of it, which is hard to convey in words. I also seem to write about candlelight a lot, words like taper and lambent come into it a lot. Well it's how our ancestor scribes worked in their scriptoriums...

CLEAVE - either to adhere closely to, or it's polar opposite, to split apart. I love words that have two completely opposite meanings within them. Fast is another one. See, this ambiguity and slipperiness is what we authors are up against every time we go into battle with language. And every day I enlist for a further tour of duty. I must be pun-drunk...

LETHOLOGICA - an inability to put your finger on a word or remember it, not a word I've used in my work yet, but it's got a space reserved for it in the WIP. What I want to know is how can you remember the word for not being able to remember a word?

COMMINUTE/TRITURATE - to pulverise, make into powder. I find it hard to choose between these two words cos I love them both so much. I tend to find space to employ them both. I love words that are about changing the state of something, be it a blossoming or burgeoning, or a diminution like this pair. There is much poetry to be wrought from ruin and decay. Words like these facilitate that.

Can I just appeal to both readers and authors alike to consider the words they employ/come across and not be intimidated by ones they haven't encountered before. Language, particularly our English language, has strengths which are simultaneously also its weaknesses. Its very flexibility and diversity, offering you the demand, as well as ask, and enjoin, order, request etc, allows us both greater shade of meaning and yet paradoxically greater slippage and imprecision. Writers, we are beholden to choose our words with the absolute care, in order to say just what it is we mean and intend.

Three writers who absolutely do this and yet preserve a soaring, lilting, lyrical quality from the sound and rhythm of their words are people I would like to honour with the Literary Builder Award.

Penny Goring - Penny's words strike off new meanings from one another like rubbing flint ignites a wildfire. Every word has both a sculpted meaning and its sonic qualities reverberating inside the reader's head. Please go sample her stuff if you haven't already been exposed to it.

Alison Wells - where Penny's words have a material sonorousness about them, Alison's have an almost ethereal quality that transport all 13 stone of me so that I can soar above the earth's atmosphere and yet look back down and visualise the most quiet and intimate scene between wonderfully rendered human beings. Look at a Marc Chagall painting and you'll get the idea. This can only be secured by wonderful mastery of words and Alison is so wonderfully adept.

Carrie Clevenger - Penny and Alison both reside the same side of the Atlantic as me. We can take much of our idiom for granted since we share it. Carrie is in the States, where the language is superficially very similar, but its speech rhythms and idioms have evolved their own paths like two related species isolated from one another by geography. Yet Carrie's words blow me away, by resonating like a guitar string between the familiar and readily recognised, to the whole new world of meanings contained in her brilliant lyricism.

Seating Plan

Free drink in hand, he walked over to the seating plan mounted on an easel. Relieved he was alone. The pinkie of his left hand made two rapid downward strokes at the corner of his mouth. He spread his legs apart in order to fully possess the space in front of the plan. He took two fingers and rubbed them across his brow twice. It was bound to be hot in the hall under the lights, but out here in the atrium it was pleasant enough.

That last seating plan in London had been so baroque, so ornate, with bunting and glitter and everything. At least this one's calligraphy was easy to read, unlike London's curlicues and other ridiculous flourishes, which had meant he couldn't even recognise his own name. It had taken him three (count 'em) trawls through the list. The names there had been arranged table by table, so there was no way to short cut straight to himself. He was so het up by the time he'd located his table, that the day was an absolute write off. He kissed a brace of knuckles on his hand and pressed them against the table plan in front of him. It could almost be taken for a gesture of gratitude.

For here at least it all seemed far more orderly. Surnames first, followed by Christian names rather than an initial. No 'Mr', "Mrs' or 'Ms'. Table six. Not his lucky number. But there again neither was it particularly a jinx. He tapped his ribcage twice in quick succession.

Then his eye naturally scans for other number 6s to the right of names. The first was about two-thirds of the way down the first column. Leslie Conway. Damn, one of those names that could be either male or female. Twofold he clicked thumb against finger. No telling if he was sat next to him/her or opposite. North, east, south, west. That was one flaw with this plan. He took a sip from the drink, smacked his lips, then wiped them with the back of his hand. He examined the fine hairs standing up. Such self-anointing had become a bit of a ritual with him at such events.

Returning his gaze to the board, he tracked down a second name prefiguring a 6. Steven Taplow. The name was vaguely familiar, but he knew it wasn't held in the little black book contained in his head. He'd never had the pleasure, until tonight seemingly. He made a pair of circuits of the rim of his glass with his index finger. The glass didn't sing.

Now the third name, the one that always held a sense of doom for him by dint of being third and last. He crossed himself twice, even though he wasn't particularly a believer. Gemma Cartwright. No mistaking her gender. Luck be a lady tonight flashed through his mind. He pulled at his earlobe a couple of times. It would be a delight to make your acquaintance Gemma, since again she was new blood as far as he was concerned. A completely fresh slate for him at this event. That was good. All the enmities, grudges and bad blood that could knock him off his game must be sat at other tables. He drained the rest of his glass, smacked his lips and then wiped them with the back of his hand. This time however, he felt no compunction to inspect the hairs.

He had stayed here long enough, now that others had assembled and were getting fidgety behind him. Besides he had what information he needed. He stepped into the hall and headed straight for table 6. None of his partners for the evening were yet sat in place. He double-circled the table anticlockwise, before pulling his chair back to sit down. Immediately the chipsman was on him and laying them out in their denominations on the table to his right. He pushed his sunglasses tight against the bridge of his nose twice. As soon as the man had withdrawn, he moved them over to his left and built them into twin stacks. He brushed his hand through his hair twice, patted his left cheek twice and cleared his throat twice. He was ready to play poker. Let's see what the seating plan had in store for his chances tonight.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Dead Ringer - Friday Flash

Victor was a long-distance lorry driver. As a teenager, he’d failed his driving test three times before passing, but four years older and wiser, secured his HGV license at the first time of asking.

He delivered white goods in brown boxes up and down the length of Britain. From factory to high street shops and warehouses in industrial estates.

He often pondered his role in the process. For he always felt invisible. Even though the recipients were all too aware of his paperwork requirements, pink, yellow and blue copies requiring their endorsement, somehow he felt peripheral to everything. As extraneous as the brown cardboard box, or the foam packaging inside.

This may have had something to do with him not being permitted to unload the trailer. He just waited unseen and not even resented, in his cab reading the newspaper. Until the wraiths outside signalled they were done by slamming his tailgate shut. They weren’t allowed however to close his doors, so he always had to leap out and do the job himself. This wasn’t a contract stipulation, but a Trades Union demarcation. The porters had always melted away before his feet hit the ground.

But a chance comment overheard in a pub one Saturday night, provided the spark that could change all these feelings of inadequacy and invisibility. Someone unseen suggested that he bore a passing likeness to the lead singer of a stadium rock band. When Victor went home that night, he printed pictures from the internet and went and scrutinised himself against them in his floor-length mirror. Yes he could see the stranger’s point. He went back to the WorldWideWeb to read up on this world wide celebrity. It took him all night, such was the welter of coverage generated by this man.

When Victor surfaced early Sunday afternoon, his mind presented him with a scheme. Somewhere from the deep recesses of his memory, it had plucked the notion of look-alikes. He could use the resemblance to imitate this famous man and see what second-hand glamour rubbed off on himself like stardust. Then people might sit up and notice him all right.

He paid for a very expensive stylist to shape his hair exactly so. He shelled out for some stage clothes in keeping with the frontman’s flamboyant tastes. He even forked over cash to have several tattoos done for the full simulacrum. He passed out at the needles. He watched endless videos of the man moving, dancing and giving interviews, practising the same in front of his mirror. Until he’d got his man off pat. Stroke for stroke, intonation for intonation. Inhabiting his habits.

Next he looked up the band’s tour dates. After each day's last delivery, he’d disarticulate and drive to the town where they were due on stage. He’d change into the clothes and then proceed to wander up and down the lines of concert goers queuing to enter. Very quickly he was pulled into the ranks time and again, for his photo to be taken with the fans. They knew it was entirely improbable that their idol would be wondering up and down outside the venue two hours ahead of showtime, just to hobknob with his devotees. Far more likely to be sniffing cocaine from the midriff of a naked groupie in the back of a limo. But they were happy to maintain the part-fiction, after all they would see the real McCoy this very night. This guy was the warm up act.

But somehow word of the accuracy of his masquerade spread and soon people were approaching him to open fetes and or judge local talent contests. "Double Take TV" asked him to be present at the side of the red carpet along with other rock and roll lookalikes at a prestigious Awards show and to try and wedge himself in the camera frame when his doppelganger stopped to be interviewed. He had some business cards printed up. An agent contacted him, but he couldn't see the value of giving up a fifteen percent split of himself.

As the earnings built, he boosted his wardrobe to match that of his model. One slight wobble in his career arc was when he was invited to sing live. He realised he'd only taken his impersonation so far, now he needed to go the whole hog. He rehearsed at home. He accompanied CDs in his rig. Now when the unloaders were toiling away, music was booming from the cab and they turned resentful all right. Victor would sing along, emulating the singer's strangulated drawl, ignorant of their curses.

He formed a tribute band and they took off to the next level. Accomplished musicians in their own right, just ones spared the effort of having to compose their own songs. With live performing came the girls. His own groupies. Did he feel bad that they imagined him to be someone else while he was fucking them? Not especially.

The only aspect of his spitting image he didn't replicate, was the prodigious drug intake. But his counterpart's behaviour was becoming increasingly unpalatable as he repeatedly made the front pages of the newspapers with his frequent Court appearances. Victor began to fret, he was so nearly making enough money to be able to give up his road hauling.

He fashioned a voodoo poppet and pinned it in areas trying to restrain the excesses of his lodestar. He sealed its nose to stop the cocaine and festooned the arms with needles to prevent the use of larger ones full of heroin. He could of course touch neither mouth or throat and thereby take away the man's and his own livelihood. He also hovered over the crotch, but decided to let it be as he didn't want to jinx his own good fortune in that particular region.

The sympathetic magic seemed to work as well. The wild man of rock cooled his heels and checked into rehab. In his absence, bookings for Victor shot up. His visibility increased even as the singer's diminished, having dropped out of public sight. Victor was having a high old time of things, until one day a woman lunged out of the shadows and fatally drove a carving knife into his throat.

It was never established whether she knew him to be a lookalike or not. She might have been a celebrity stalker. Or one of the star's one night stand cast offs. She might conceivably even have been a lookalike herself, one of those female serial killers, who took her role just a bit too far. A bit like Victor really.

For his part after nine months, the original wild man of rock emerged from his refuge and became a gentleman farmer. Turning his back on his former lifestyle.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Stoner Songs - My Top 10

DISCLAIMER: I have never inhaled, ingested, injected or any class of illegal drug. I've never bought into the notion that drugs fuel creativity. Why rely on the insertion of an external agency to access what's already in your noggin, no matter how deeply buried? Put the requisite perspiration in and unlock it yourself. If you want to, you know like connect to other consciousnessness, trying casting far and wide into your imagination to see with different eyes while still remaining on terra firma.

But having said all that, there does seem something particular to the rock and roll artist, whereby within its own terms, some supreme art can be wrought from the introduction of aides de memoire-cum-amnesia... Here's a top 10. Please feel free to comment your own suggestions

1) "White Rabbit" Jefferson Airplane.

The grandmammy of them all. Yeah Jim Morrison referenced Huxley while Gracie tips her hat to Carroll, but boy does she belt it out with feeling. "Keep your head" when all around are losing theirs indeed.

2) "Supernaut" 1000 Homo DJs (aka Revolting Cocks)

The sampled radio godjock lends this a political slant as Ministry were always falling foul of the authorities, for um prodigious consumption among other things. But there's no disguising the song's Black Sabbath bombastic riff and the politics get swept up in the general gleeful defiance. The full gamut of stimulants are seemingly on show here, from the drop out to the in your face confrontational. "I find the distance melts away with the spoon"

3) "Come Down Easy" Spacemen 3

"It's 1987 and all I wanna do is get stoned/ All I want for you is to take my body home". In line with my disclaimer, this band make me loathe myself the most for actually liking them, since they had no other reason to exist other than to laud drug use. Their second album was called "The Perfect Prescription". The demos were released retrospectively and titled "Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To" which incisively sums up the introspective circle of it the whole rigmarole. But they had a wonderfully mellow vibe and Sonic Boom before he crawled into his addiction, was a marvellous musician. His lyrics had a with a religious tint to his spiritual quest as witnessed in songs like "Walking With Jesus" which I also highly recommend, whether you allow for such elision of the scared with the profane or not.

4) "Blinded By The Light" The Streets

Quite simply the best song about Es ever. The narrator is waiting for his mates so has one foot in alertness looking out for their arrival, while the drug slowly kicks in to alter his state of mind. The narrator's commenting on the goings on in the club around him, giving it the authentic druggie patter, griping that the drugs aren't doing anything, other than skewing his vision. "My eyes are rolling back, I'm rubbing my thighs with my hand". When he sights his mates, he no longer cares that they're doing the dirty on him. A brilliant tale of drug-induced deracination of the senses. The video's great too.

5) "Police In Helicopter" John Holt

A tale from the socio-economics drug frontline in Jamaica, delivered with the white hot rage borne from implacable strength of conviction. This slice of roots reggae starts with the class deference of "Yes boss, yes, boss, yes boss" but ratchets up the stakes with the simple vow "But if you continue to burn up de herbs, we gonna burn down the cane fields". And cannabis is supposed to be a becalming drug?

6) "Yu Gung (Feed My Ego)" Einsturzende Neubauten

"I'm 6 metres tall and everything is important/ I'm 9 metres tall and everything is more than important/ I'm 12 metres tall and everything is inconceivable" sums up the inflated self mistaken for greater perception. The music manages to syncopate the sensation of the drugs flowing around the bloodstream.

Non-German speakers hoping for an English version in Pussy Galore's cover version, sadly I don't think the band were able quite to render all the song's lyrics, but it remains a wonderful messed up acid blues tribute all the same.

7) "Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed" - Julian Cope

Mad as a box of frogs, induced by drugs or shacking up with Courtney Love at a formative age, it's hard to say...

8) "No Xmas For John Quays" The Fall

This early Fall track lambasts the withered imagination of the junky, but doubles up with Mark E Smith apparently slating his band in the lyrics of the song recorded as live. The driving brittleness of the music suggests that speed was the drug of inspiration behind this song.

9) "Cocaine In My Brain" Dillinger

"A knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork/ That's the way we spell New York" I always thought corks were associated with heroin scripts, but what do I know? Still a great song though

10) "Smoke Some Weed" - Ice Cube

I love the tone of this, half bragging, half paranoid, half stoned (yes I can do the maths!). The music is perfect for a room shrouded in plumes of heavy, blue smoke and you're slumped on the floor, back against the wall - whadya mean you don't know what I'm on about?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Bad Apple - Friday Flash

Adam wasn't the first man. He wasn't even a runner up, for this was Metroland. Where suburban house after suburban house stretched back in a relentless redbrick vista.

Red had been instituted motif by the landscarperers, since the acreage had been richly laden orchards in its venerable village days of yore. But yore is less when progress comes a coldcalling, influenca business card in hand. Untenable venerable had quickly become pensionable and capitulated under the redeveloper's caterpillar-tracked dozers. But Adam's backgarden of Eden still retained one gnarled, though fecund apple tree.

Adam no longer had an Eve, due to prototypical trust issues as first highlighted in the prologue to that amnesiac genesiac the Pentateuch. No more peachy red lipschtick from her. But he was still yoked to his tree, much to his umbrage.

Why was this tree the blight of his life? How did it make Adam's adam's apple bob up and down like a test your strength machine at a fairground? Or an unfairground as in the case of Adam's knotted Garden of Need.

Notwithstanding that husbands and wives may rip up their contractual vows at the drop of an aitch, a faux pas or the bombshell of some sinful original act, there existed strict council bye-laws forbidding any householder to take an axe to their tree. Only incorpreal corporates had been chartered this perky perk and unless you had limited liability and protection from your creditors, (to wit, those Granny Smiths twitching net curtains in the neighbourhood nosey parker scheme), the arboreal stood untouchapple.

Juicy fresh fruit on tap, what could be more appletising than that? Just how can Adam perennially (not judiciously deciduously) pluck heartstrings and harp on about the bane of homegrown produce?

One has to pre-season early apple errantly, in order get the taste for the seeds of Adam's appleplexy. The runty apples of the litter do just that. They get bumped off the branch by their burgeoning peers and lie in wait in the long grass like booby-prize traps. For post connubial cleft, our Adam was wont to promenade his garden barefootloose and fancy free espousing poetry. Only to come a cropper time and again stubbing his tootsies on unripened, granitelike pome, forcing from him a tart applepeal to the heavens.

Just steel yourself thinking of the branch-borne sweet flesh, Adam my old fruit. Yet rotten luckily the pomade persecution continued giving him the pip. For rarely did he actually get to harvest the toothsome nectarous yield for himself. Since others more fleet-winged and bug-tongued got the drop on his crop. Wasps bored, fruit flies gouged, coddling moths coddled. Pithing and de-coring. Other burrowers bore their young a refectory-cum-nursery within the apples' housing. One way or another, there were very few apples which didn't bear the blackened smut trail of an insect's fly-through take-out. The looming folk wisdom spun at mother's knee, counsels never to swallow an apple's seeds lest a new tree take root in your stomach. Where was the homily against eating swart-perforated fruit rind in order to avoid your belly playing host to a puparium? Intuitively, Adam would forbear from any apple so fly-blown.

But it wasn't just entomological applepropriation that bit into any potential produce for his gaping fruit bowl. Ripened pomme d'arbre inevitably became pomme de terre, as they ground hogged the applerition of Isaac Newton's gravity epiphany. Adam still couldn't utilise them, for if not insect adulterated, then assuredly they were contused by grappleing with the earth. Causing him to wince as he envisioned each bruisapple skin echoing that of his own.

Adam might have left the apples strewing the lawn, to feed their limited nutrients back into Mother Nature's soiled maw. Only he chanced apple eyed a rat scurrying across the green baize and guzzling on one of the fallen rondures. He didn't mind squirrels availing themselves to pocket the fat number 3 pool balls when easy pickings were scarce, but a rat? That was just too applepalling.

So dutifully he applelied himself morning after morning to going outside and collecting up the fallen. His apple-ratus, an inverted plastic bag which he would wedge around the apple and then fold back out. Thus scooping in such a way as not to have to come into direct contact with either the moldering pulpyness, rodent-nibbled, or insect cankered flesh. A technique he had modelled after a neighbour's cleaning up behind their Pomeranian. Then he would proceed to the Council provided brown organic waste bin for good riddance to bad apples.

However this action also sprouted unforeseen consequences that further appleturnedover his stricken life. Firstly the composting apples gave off the most sickly sweet aroma of fermenting cider that stupefied his senses as if he'd actually quaffed a gallon of apple juice. But more apple pertinently, the bin was flooded with apple sourced maggots. And that at one dread time, opening the lid would release a plague of metamorphosised flies to swarm around his head. We'll also quickly pass on the glut of (sub-)urban fox ordure, as those wily creature circled round without being able to open the lid, nor knock over a bin loaded down with a hundred weight of fruit slurry.

All of this pressed down so grievously on our Adam that he finally snapped and took not an axe, but a chainsaw to the trunk of the tree. Bye-laws be hanged! Oh the unencumbered satisfaction to see the collapplesible lumber splinter and toapple.

But poor benighted Adam had really upset the apple cart. In its longevity, crabby apple roots had curled underneath Adam's house, the lone apple of his eye. So as the tree turned up its toes into death, it pulled and yanked the masonry with it. Adam's pied-a-pomme-de-terre lurched and canted to a crazy splayed angle. Now normally subsidence is something the Council treat very seriously indeed and offer all sorts of assistance to nip it in its tracks. But since Adam had felled his tree, he had apple ceded any indemnification applelickability, Mr Adams, number one man at the Council duly informed him.

Story taken from the flash fiction collection "52FF" available on Amazon Kindle.