Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Notes On 27 Hours Without Sleep

Strange sensations, curious dichotomies, synaesthesic moments…

Bizarre phenomena of the physiological and psychological varieties…

To see the sun set then rise then set again in the one stretch - once or twice a month, it seems, is about as much as the mind / body can cope with. More than this - two such stretches per week for three months, say - and the brain rebels, the body says no more!

The sun set yesterday and I watched the dark swallow the room around me, leaving nowt but the phosphorescent glare of the laptop. Afore a man knows where he is the brittle azure wash of the dawn is busy siphoning detail anew from the shadows.

Ah, it was a guitar is what it was. A dresser. A pair o’ knickers, bejeesus.

-The mind lurches left and right with maniacal zeal now and then and the body too tired to heed thon crazed and devil-charged ravings… -

The sun sets and rises and looks set for setting anew, and the street, like these words, like the frames of that film careering past in maddening, insufferable screeches… a tapestry of nonsense is all. An unknowable web of lunacy and …

This, I can’t edit this - not because of any pretensions I might harbour about the truth of the unedited splurge, y’unnerstann, a bullshit notion if ever was one - but because I don’t understand it.

What to cut and what to leave and what difference would either o’ them articles make, pray tell?

The wind rises and the rain bratta-ba-tats from off the window.

Sometime after 2PM - The strip lights in the tube station hollows crack and flicker stroboscopically - faces smile electric, blisters of blue heat rising and popping at the corners of the eyes.

The daytime wavers eerily tween the ceiling and the floor - uncanny shapes appear. A woman with blonde hair and denim jacket - at the door of my room she stood just now but no more, gone…

That paranoia peculiar to this city far as I can tell - stemming from two seemingly incompatible fears;

1 - Everyone Is Looking At Me

2 - I Am Invisible

Everyone is looking at me and I am invisible…

Camden Town passing by and the second sun of the day strewn in streaks o’er the rain-slick pavings.

Fleet Street with thon dragon stood gallant on its pedestal - the City Of Westminster and the City Of London bleeding into other for a time and the words of ol’ Tennyson haunting the brick and the bronze round about.

A black-haired woman smiles at me and I think about inviting her to a gig I’m doing tomorrow night. And if not her then maybe the fella sat there day in, day out in the construction tunnel with the blue sleeping bag pulled up about his shiv’rin shoulders. Irish, he tells me. From Dublin. I give him a cigarette on account of I’ve only the 90p for the bus to my name.

75 MG of Effexor XL and to sleep son, for God’s sake, to sleep…

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Notes Made - Will Self, Two Gallants, Babe Etc Etc

A schoolgirl drumming on the window of a bus headed up Wood Green direction of a Monday afternoon, complementing the beat with an intermittent grunting rises from someplace tween her kidneys and her throat. The murmur of the engine and the crank and the grind of the metal round about providing an approximation of the hissing and the popping and the scratching of well-worn vinyl.

‘Well’ she says, shrugging with one shoulder. ‘Fucking sing, then.’

Lass sat opposite bats the command aside with a flaff of a lever-arch file. ‘Don’t wanna sing.’

A third girl fashions a hi-hat out a polly-pocket and an A4 sheet of paper, trattle-la-dratta-ba-tattin’ two biros off the plastic.

Sing, I said.’

‘I don’t wanna fuckin’ sing fuckin’…. fuckin’ alright fuckin’ Hmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Y’got’t goin’ ohhhn, an…’

‘Y’see? Y’see, that’s what I’m sayin. Yes.’

‘Hmm. Hmm.’

Fella across the way cocks an ear towards them, the foot jigging on the spot, a can of Carlsberg clutched in a gloved hand, a loudhailer held atween his knees.

* * *

Through the pores of the nightime the colours of County Antrim bleed o’er Rutland Gardens, pooling around my feet for a moment, then taking off like a flock of grackle aflame, dispersing in fleeting bursts of image and sound, swallowed by the amber-hued sky.

* * *

Flatmate and bandmate and creator of Generic Mugwump Sir Fleming hoists me towards a video on youtube ‘thin which Will Self yacks about his new book to a roomful of Google employees.

The crux of his concerns this time around appear to involve post-modern geographies, the simultaneous shrinking and expanding of our environments (its easier to get from A to Z but B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W and X get swallowed in the process) and the difficulty in acquiring any kind of cognitive map of anywhere anymore (for anywhere in this instance, read The City).

Thinking - Of London I know Rutland Gardens, I know this street and I know that a right turn leads me towards the bus to Wood Green and a left turn leads me to Manor House tube station. This, Sir Self asserts, is my micro-environment. My micro-environment is connected to other micro-environments scattered here and there by way of leagues upon leagues of metal and glass.

How to know somewhere, anywhere, in these circumstances?

Walk, says he. Fucking put some cunting effort in.

Become a Flaneur, by Jesus!

Thinking - Do I have the arse for Flaneury? If I saw myself wanderin’ aimlessly about the street out thonner of an evening would I think ‘Ah, lovely fucks, here’s a Flaneur strolling and a-dand’rin’ by way of reclaiming the map - or would I more likely hunch the shoulders and lower the head and mumble about I gave my last change to the fella next Holborn station wears the black leather sailor’s hat and the beige cardigan, sorry, and also, your arse is saggin like a bastard, near to hittin’ the backs o’ your ankles them cheeks o’ yours. I bet your willy’s shite an’ all.’

* * *

Two Gallants at the Koko in Camden. “Baby, when I was young of age / I had you for my world / the oceans were your eyes / the pastures were your curls”.

County Antrim in the gaps atween the notes.

Sat afore the speakers this time last year with Two Gallants talking about they come from the old town, baby, where all the kids are crazy…

If I remain, then I’m to blame…

And saying now - alright, Two Gallants, I didn’t remain, I came here with eyes wide and arse wider, but tell me - what now?

Rilo Kiley at Shepherd’s Bush a week later, Jenny Lewis winking this direction, clapping along with Sir Fleming there for a moment, the white light draped about her, a girl with black-rimmed glasses pressed against me for a second and the breath on my ear sounded for all the world like What Now? This’ll Do, Pig. This’ll Do

* * *

To Do

Finish review of The Radiators album and incisive critique of Babe - Pig In The City (Crux of the matter - I hated it back in the day and then all a sudden I come to see that not only is it better than its predecessor, but also, that it’s the one of the key films of the 1990’s, that it’s the best film George Miller ever made and that it is without doubt the bleakest, sharpest, most intelligent, most prophetic portrayal of The modern City I’ve ever seen outside of sci-fi. Thinking of the design of that cityscape - it makes it hard to breathe. Images I can’t see myself ever forgetting. Although I did first time around. I can only assume it's owing to how, back then, I was under the influence of The Hard Stuff, The Strong Stuff, The Daddy’s Tickles, The Vicar’s Friend, The Cock-Wilt Wonders, The Cold-Case Calamities, The Fanny’s Frumps, The Scrumpy Scrotums, The D.T Doozies, The …)

Finish New Tune For To Try Out At Gig Next Week

Finish First Draft Of The Novel

Ask Laurie From The Tube Station If She Maybe Wants Some Grapes Sometime

* * *

Job interview at local care-home for persons recovering from severe schizophrenia.

Woman seemed to very much like my tie even though it had a soup stain on it from three months ago that I never noticed till I sat down afore her and so spent the rest of the interview with my forearms raised front my chest as if I was scared she might use one of the recovering schizophrenics to stab me in the liver, but no, it’s just that I haven’t worn this tie since the summer and I never thought of washing it and its got a great cunt of a Campbell’s splurge up the front.

Of qualifications relating to the position I had none. “I was detained in a nut house for a while, however” I tell her.

She thanks me and says I might hear back but most likely I won’t but to hell with that says she sure isn’t it the wildest time of it we’re havin’ with the rain…

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Dream #217 … “It’s Eating Me!”

Stepping out into the crud-hued spit all pitter-pa-tatterin’ about Piccadilly Square he was two inches shy of slipping a fresh-rolled cigarette atween his lips when he noticed that his mouth had fallen off his face.

Glaring down the steps into the belly of the tube station, thinking; Hells blazes, it’s came off away in thonner somewhere…

On the platform probably, swept away with the winds blustered about the tunnel as the train careered off towards Leicester Square. Images of men and women peering nervously at it from behind upheld paperbacks and free newspapers. Nudging one another. “What’s… is that?” … “Fuck me, a mouth with no face round about it.” … Security guards prodding it with sticks, whispering in others ears so as not to panic the commuters - “Be careful. It could be something to do with the Islamists. Could be the very mouth of Mohammad himself there on that floor if you only but knowed it.”

He descends the steps with his tongue jib-jabbing at the flesh now sprawled atween his nose and his chin. Discreetly he eyes the passers-by, looking for someone maybe brushed against him by accident and now has his mouth blathering away on the nape of their neck or the crook of their arm.

Down the escalator with one hand clenching and unclenching. What if he left it on the train? What if it slid off when he was stepping on at Knightsbridge? What if somebody stole it? Some rogue now racing around Hyde Park with his mouth in their trouser pocket, hissing at folks as they pass - “Mouth, mate? Face hole for you? Beautiful fucking orifice, beautiful. Tonne, fair an square. Tonne for a tongue-hut, yes son, yes…”

Black market orifice trading…

“An arsehole for you, darlin’? Oi, mate, an arse for you this evening? An arse and also here’s a vagina, join em up you got a minge you can shit out of, save time, spend it with your children, maybe, or with a Labrador or Chaffinch you might keep as a pet, I don’t know.”

Stifling heat, the air oscillating demented atween the screeching white walls. Dabbing a handkerchief against his brow.


Aw Holy Mother Mary and the Martyrs… My pores are gone…

By the time he’s stood on the platform itself he has noted the following items missing;

One (1) Mouth

Innumerable Pores

One (1) Earlobe

Half (½) Of One (1) Kneecap

Two (2) Retinas

One (1) Nostril

Three-Quarters (¾) Of Each Eyelid

Sixteen (16) Wrinkles From The Underside Of His Scrotum

One (1) Belly-Button (But Not The Fluff Gathered Therein)

As each second topples flailing down the grinding gullet of history, another fragment of his being disappears.

His hair, his lower jaw, the knuckles of his right hand, the fingers of his left…

Delirious with panic, he lunges for a woman stood next an advert for Terry’s Chocolate Orange, gesturing wildly - Help me! Help me please, oh sweet Merciful Fuck, woman, help me! I’m disappearing! Something is eating me! Fucking eating me, I am disappearing!

Eyes wide and teeth bared the woman jerks the head this way and that. “What the fuck!”

He has vanished.


A fella stood beside her offers a hand. “The wind in these tunnels is fierce” he says, helping her to her feet. “Knock you right on your tits if you’re not careful.”

She brushes herself off, thanks him. The train arrives fourteen seconds earlier than announced.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Green Socks

Green Socks jigs and jostles her way back and forth from Manor House tube station to Colina Road with her hands on her sides and her elbows thrusting in and out with crazed poultrific abandon. “Lonely, dahlin’, is ya?” asking as I pass. “Lonely? Loneliness I can help you with, dahlin, aw yes - thirty notes a time or twenty if you only wanna hand job, yeah? Come on then whassamattah?”

Green Socks grins and winks and twiddles her hair round her finger and taps an imaginary cane off the concrete like the ghost of some long-dead vaudevillian half-glimpsed midst the murk on a detuned telly.

The Quiet Man watches her from the window of the kebab shop across the street, smiling to himself, shaking his head, muttering incoherently. So too the fellas in the pool room next the internet cafĂ©. They spill out onto the street of occasion in groups of three or four shouting and jeering and cajoling. “Go home, love! Quit embarrassing yourself! No-one wants it! No one wants t’tap that ‘tang, yeah?”

Green Socks flips the fingers and carries on her march.

In a dream I bring Green Socks round the flat for to watch some Fulci, maybe City Of The Living Dead or The Psychic since it’s Halloween time and all that. I make her a cup of coffee and she holds the mug in shivering hands, the sleeves of her cardigan pulled up to the ends of her fingers. “Thank you Travis” she says.

Travis?” says I, jerking the head back. “No, no. No that’s not it at all.”

“What? You don’t wanna save me?”

Save you? Christ no. I want you to save me!”

She holds my gaze for a moment, then sets the mug on the windowsill and rises, pulling her green socks back up to the knees. “Fuckin’ hell” she says. “Always I'm saving or being saved.”

Sighing, she descends the stairway and heads back out onto the street. The tangerine sprawl of the streetlight glow ripples and splits for a moment, and she thanks it with a nod of the head, clip-clopping on through the dark.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

"So How Is It, Then?"

“So how is it, then?” she asks me. “London?”

I shrug, pulling on the tip of a clumsily-rolled cigarette, brushing stray tendrils of tobacco off the knee of my trousers. “I don’t know. I have no fucking idea. I’ve been here over a month and I could no more tell you How It Is than I could whistle Dixie backwards out my arse.”

She laughs. “Shut up.”

“I’m serious. I have no grip on it whatsoever. Neither topography nor geography nor people nor places. I don’t know it at all.”

Sat skewed to the right front the laptop, speakerphone perched next a postcard sized reproduction of Ecce Homo picked up at the Titian exhibition in the National Gallery, Dublin five or six years ago. A wind-up Mother Mary totters about also. Where’s that from? Edinburgh?

Edinburgh and Dublin. Cities I understand, right there.

Edinburgh all Caligari roofscapes, the Covenanters Prison with the muck weeping blood o’er the soles of my shoes, shoes hidden sometime afore dawn to keep me from racing up Princes Street at 3.28 in the mornin’ in search o’ a man with a crack-black beard told me earlier in the day about the wailing and the screaming down the Royal Mile at midnight…

Dublin with the Savage Purple erupting o’er Harry Street like a thousand frozen suns all thawing in unison, with light hung in ropes o’er Euston Street - “This is beautiful” sayin’, and a laugh and a “Fuck sakes, go write a song about it…” Scrabbling about Dame Street in the winter of ‘99 in pursuit of the hotel a woman told us Shane MacGowan was staying at, the details lost midst the clash of the whiskey-heads all seething…

And London…

Shadows of shadows, reflections of reflections. Intersecting tube lines. Washes of neon lettering. The breath of strangers on the back of my head. Sirens stabbing the 4 A.M. Bin-lids clattering off tarmac. Skeletal, fag-yellowed fingers poised afore formless, faceless faces.

“These things I know” I tell her, “but little else, barring what’s echoed back at me from a thousand songs and stories and films and books these thoroughfares birthed long afore I got here.”

London mediated via Shane and Pete Doherty and Will Self and…

London careering past me in nonsensical streaks. What I catch of it I catch in five minute bursts atween tube stations and bus stops.

London as notes strewn at random o’er some shapeless liquid stave.

London as Metal Machine Music, and me clawing at the static and the squall for the ghosts of melodies haunt the gunk about the guts.

“Well…” she says. “Mean, do you like it?”

A series of stutt’rin beats from the flat next door. Fella’s making a rap record, woman arrived a half-hour ago’s singing about her baby done gone fucked her somethin’ wicked in the breaks atween those blocks of machine-gun rhyme.

Nodding. “I love it” I’m saying. “I’m very much lookin’ forward to bein’ wrecked by it, tell you the truth.”

Friday, 28 September 2007

O'er Ocean Proceeding

Northern Ireland cowers from the swelling seascape like a child from the back of a hand. For the bosom of the horizon run wailing and screaming cities and towns and hamlets and villages and sprawling rural expanses. Soon, nowt but a handful of vapour trails remain, wavering tendrils of fast-fading light the colour of the voices in Central Station, Belfast or of the chip papers rustling about the railings outside a Londonderry hostel or of the bottles o' Tesco-brand vodka raised to yaps still framed with the rash from the first ever shave.

Fare thee well, says I, to the smattering of youngsters loiter about the gates of the park behind my house every evening. Fare thee well to those washes of foulest banter spill in through the open window to my left now and then, spreading o'er the white of the word processor screen in blocks of size 10 Times New Roman.

Fare thee well to thon towers of orange and red circle the reservoir used to be George Peaden’s Quarry. Fare the well to the wild horse gallops about the fields next the one we used to steal potatoes out of in the summer.

Fare thee well to the bus-shelter at the end of the estate, and to all the bus-shelters I was ever led towards by lasses knew far more about the texture o’ those bricks than I.

Farewell to the ghosts, says I, and from the aisle seat to my left a man nursing a glass of amber-hued liquid smiles and says ‘Farewell yourself. Fuck the hair we’re leaving back there, boyo.’

Sunday, 9 September 2007

A Dream Of Dublin

In a dream I’m walking down Grafton Street in Dublin with the noon-day sun hung frozen midst the night-time skyway and a breeze the colour of London Town kneading subtly with phantom fingers the nape of my neck.

From the cracks atween the kerb-stones measures of melody bleed out o’er the pavings. Vagrants sit hunched around meagre pyres in the corners of ill-lit alleyways. Old queens gabble wordlessly amongst themselves with backs against the shuttered-up storefronts. Youngsters with noses all glue-fume-scorch huddle about the flick’rin glow of the streetlamps, coughing foulest aphorisms at other, sneering ‘hind fag-burn-potted hands. ECT-fried preachers holler in tongues of screeching ‘lectric revelation.

From an upstairs window a wave of female laughter spills out onto the street. A busker strums an out-of-tune guitar and sings of Tuesday mornings spent puking Monday nights o’er sweat-slick bed-sheets. Rhymes fall from his face like dead flies. Spent verses pool in black-water puddles about his tip-tappin’ feet.

A woman in a purple cardigan flaffs a hand at me and says “Crippled and broken beasts they brought to The Lord, so they did. Lambs half mad with disease, donkeys with the hind legs shattered, calves with half the faces off from the wolves, this is the class o’ stock they offered, and expecting for that the full of His radiance then upon them?” She gives a humourless laugh. “My arse hole, says He.”

Voices flitter past me like ticker-tape - A dockyard chorus singing Abide With Me. A lass from Lucan saying “No, go to London, it’ll be good for you…”A fella with a feigned Montana accent sighing “I wish I could quit you.” A friend from school as I imagine he sounds now sighing at the static on a TV screen. Billy Bragg singing St Swithin’s Day. A priest yelling at me way back when for waking him out his sleep at half four in the mornin’ on account of Christ spoke to me from midst the clanging of a meat-slicer in a butcher’s shop. Me clearing my throat and mumbling at a too-warm coffee - “My name’s Aaron and I’m an alcoholic...”

Round about me, the airways hang pregnant with bellyfuls of summer, 2005 – eyeing the lads and lassies stood cocked o’ jaws and titled o’ heads on the Ha’penny bridge, eyes all whispering “Fancy a jag o’ thon, son?” Savage purple glow off Harry Street, glow bright enough to singe everything else black for years thereafter. Litres of possibility poured back into the Liffey, a ticket to County Antrim burning the arse out my trousers.

Red-lit barrooms to my left all a-shingle with bop and bother. Troupes of heat-warped teenagers gawking dead eyed from the interiors of parked cars. Folks in bedsits draped in reels of cassette-tape all stutt’rin beats and pitch-shifted voices and samples from TV soundtracks, the ghost of William Burroughs haunting the gaps atween their fingers.

Comes stumbling from the sidelines raging, screeching Lazarus. “I was lain with angels!” he roars. “Angels stitched from strands of fractured white light all a-shimmer, angels who kissed me like the first rays of sun kissed the fresh-moulded Earth!” The howl of infinity from somewheres ‘thin his chest. “On the shoulders of the ocean I was raised!” Weeping into blistered, blue-grey hands he falls to his knees. “Angels…”

A film projected onto the door of a red-brick townhouse details an orgy of hysterical creation erupting in St Stephen’s Green - Men and women paw at the leaves of trees, rubbing wet hands back and forth along the branches, the bark all throbbing and shuddering. Great arcing ropes of rhyme spray from the uppermost heights of a climaxing poplar. A couple dive naked into a lake, emerging with slick fistfuls of tangerine-tinted prose. A hedgerow spurts sonnets over a man in a red shawl, Calliope weaving in and around his legs in bursts of half-glimpsed faces and half-heard song.

Overhead, a brooding cloudscape smoulders, sundry curious forms oscillating erratically therein; wolf heads snapping, monks ravaged with leprosy, archers with bows held aloft…

A woman in a thinning leopard-print coat approaches passers-by with head lowered and hands all fidgeting and eyes fixed on the scuffed-blunt toes of her shoes. A man holds in his arms a lame, whimpering collie, whispering into its ear – “S’alright, dote, s’alright. Nearly home so we are, nearly home.”

Towards Nassau Street I wander, encountering thereon a group of bald-headed women with mouths all a-mutter and palms pressed in prayer and the reek of the psychiatric hospital rising up off their clothes in carmine streaks.

Chards of memory glistening in the air like morning dew on a hedgerow – Fingers digging into walls. Slapping hands off of the pill dispensary shutters - “I need somethin’ to put me to sleep you bastards!” Duelling Christs bare-foot on wet gravel, scowling at other, daring – “Go on, heal the lame, fucker. Prove yourself.” Shaving my head with a BIC razor, blood pissin’ down the cheeks. Woman crying on account of her son stole all her money. She has no son.

Folks sauntering past from over Trinity College direction, faces obscured by the murmur of the traffic. In the fumes I see a house in London with no ghosts nor memories nor regrets. Stairs I never fell down, mirrors I never scowled into, a reflection I’ve never cursed for all the dirty drunken filthy tramp bastards of the day and night. Bed-sheets I never wept under, toilets I’ve tossed not an inch of sin towards…

London Town writhing back my eyes like a thousand rat-tails entwined, and Dublin pulsing neath my feet like a bag of knotted arteries.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Morrissey, Shane MacGowan, An Email

Somewheres on the other side of 5 a.m. I’m sat afore the monitor, the new day seeping out the thighs of the nighttime, the swelling morning creeping o’er the sleepers lain expectant on the windowsill beside me. The brains screech demented twixt my drum-holes. Morrissey flaffing arms about from out the computer speakers, couple lines about “London, giddy London” to greet the rising sun.

“London, giddy London.”

“Is it home of the free” he asks, “Or what?”

The digit hovering, trembling ‘bove the ol’ left-click, the cursor running rings around the “Send”.

Catching a glimpse of a rogue reflection in the ashtray. “Look at you”, I’m sayin, “What a pitiful bucket o’ bastard.”

Still. Not at all unattractive in the right light and with the right level o’ squint in the left-hand peeper.

Two o’ yon sleepers on the tongue and kicked on down the gullet by way of a mouthful of Diet Coke, Morrissey all a sudden out his mind with concern regarding a coastal town that they forgot to bomb and the wet sand clinging to his sandals, and the screen… The screen still dashed with the gravel o’ mine mind-wax.

What it says up there in half-mad digital shorthand, what it announces for the eyes all set to gaze, is that I love you. What I’m saying is I love you, and you should know this.

When she wakes up, y’unnerstann, when she wanders towards the PC stack all gruntin’ and coughin’ from the corner of the room, when she gets to browsing through the email, the cigarette smoke hung in sheets round about, purple symphonies and ash-grey asides - when she’s sippin from the first coffee of the day and clicking through the playlists in pursuit o’ a riff might shatter the traces o’ dream-fugg still shimmering back the eyes, when she comes across this lust-crazed declaration all hidden away midst forty-nine lines of gabbled neurotic effrontery, what she’ll smile and say is “He loves me.”

What she’ll think and grin regarding is “So what the fuck else is new?”

Morrissey, he’s busy accosting his love for flicking through private journals in pursuit of a line or two red-raw with intimate lovelorn scribbling.

Nowadays the fucker would just go snooping through the myspace.

I love you, it says. I add a bit more.

Now what it says is I love you and also, I’m set for to move to London.

I got a burning in the belly reeks o’ a craving for to be heard and read, I say. I point out that the longer I sit here in this back room with the fag in the maw and the fags in the brains, with the fringe getting blacker and the eyes getting redder, with the stacks o’ Chapter One Paragraph One getting closer to the roof-slates with each tick o’ the time-tock, the longer this goes on, I say, the closer the factory gets.

Fore a fella knows what’s happened he’s stood in yonder production line checking pharmaceutical paraphernalia for anything out of the ordinary, yacking all about how he’s gonna get a novel out one day, soon as my agent gets back to me. Soon as the publisher’s ready. Soon as this leg gets fixed. Soon as the doctors let me go. Soon as I get this black from out my lung.

What I say is don’t get me wrong, not for a second. The factory, it’s a place humming with strong and beautiful and soulful and special and dedicated human beings. But I’d be lying, I say, if I pretended yon grinding and sparking and thumping didn’t scare the yellow out my pish.

So aye. I’m going to London. I’m taking a couple bags fulla personality, a guitar tuned to Blue and a case filled wi’ y-fronts on account of I wore boxers once in 1999 and my knackers ended up moored off Arran for a fortnight.

Giddy London all Dickensian rascality and Arcadian splendour.

A couple stealthy clicks and Morrissey sulks silent in the airways, the beautiful, furnace-tattered creak of Shane MacGowan’s throat all thrust up ‘gainst the grey o’ yonder speakers.

“When I first came to London, I was only 16
With a fiver in my pocket and my ol’ dancing bag
And I went down to the Dilly to check out the scene
But I soon ended up upon the Old Main Drag”

This last lament for a childhood snatched by those sidestreets and alleys and stairways all blood-flecked and wanked-o’er and choking with revelation.

What I tell her is how sometimes, when the dawn’s all knotted ‘gainst the glass and the flags are all fluttering front the streelights out the window and the lust-crazed lights o’ Soho are clawin at my guts, what I see is that Old Main Drag, what I see is a fella with the mop all matted and blackened up with boot polish, what I see is days and nights and weeks and months spent bent o’er the bonnet of a stolen Corsa, working for to make that second record, y’unnerstann, for to mint that disc, working for the price o’ a melody in this cancer-limbed thoroughfare a world and nine removed from those pathways trodden by Morrissey’s charming, razor-yapped dandies.

I see Leicester Square and the shadows on the pavings, those pavings Shane’s narrator likely sat upon for a time, flinging broken matchsticks to the rain, just afore he was “picked up by the coppers and kicked in the balls.”

By the end of the song he’s sat huddled round a fag-end, maybe pulling a stinking blanket that bit tighter round his frame.

“Now I am lying here, I’ve had too much booze
I been spat on and shat on and raped and abused
I know that I am dying but wish I could beg
For some money to take me from the Old Main Drag”

Aye, if anyone knows about London, it’s Shane. A mental map scrawled along the psyche, every byway and skyway and parkway rendered in glorious, intoxicating poetry.

A fella can wander along those “Dark Streets Of London” with their memories of summers past, summers spent in psychiatric wards all “Drugged-up psychos with death in their eyes”. He can catch sight of that “golden heart” pulsing twixt the city’s “scarred-up thighs” in London You’re A Lady.

A fella can curse “Dear dirty London in the driving rain” like the drunken rogue in “Sea Shanty”.

He can career along the “Dear old streets of Kings Cross” with yon scallywag hero of “Transmetropolitan”, screech across Hammersmith in time to “scare the Camden palace poofs”, “worry all the whores” and “storm the BBC” before the first hints o’ twilight kiss the stone.

“We’ll drink the rat’s piss, kick the shite
And I’m not goin home tonight”

(Wonderin for a moment if a fella can easily acquire non-alcoholic extra-caffeine diet-Rat’s Piss without too much of a hubbub?)

Aye, I tell her. These gloriously wretched tableau’s and episodes, I been catching glimpses of them e’er since that momentous afternoon when first I hit play on Rum, Sodomy & The Lash.

But the other London Shane talks about, the London of “long-gone songs from day’s gone by” carried along the swell o’ the Thames, the London of “Rainy Night In Soho”, I been pining for that, y’unnerstann.

“Rainy Night In Soho”, I remind her, is maybe the most beautiful song ever written, certainly the most beautiful ever written about Soho.

Was goin to be the first song at the wedding I almost stumbled into, by the by. We used to dance drunkenly round the kitchen in time to the sway o’ yon strings.

“I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms”


What I tell her is that’s where I’m headed, and I’m excited and terrified and tired and fryin.

London, where’s it’s “Time For Heroes” and singsong revelry and grot-mawed entrepreneurs sayin aye, maybe so, maybe we could afford to help youse with that record.

London. What I tell her is sometimes I get homesick and I’m still lain in my bed, what I tell her is sometimes I just get a craving to go wander round the disused quarry feeding chunks o’ hedgerow to the horses, what I tell her is I dunno how well I’ll do, being away and all that.

It’s well past 7, the sleepers long-since rendered useless, the day all set for shining, the branches o’ trees all lazily weaving shadows o’er busted bottles and crushed tin-cans.

I tell her that I been thinking.

What I say is all about how the last time I was in her presence, midst the transcendent phantasmagoric swirl o’ Dublin City, what I say is that she took hold a chunk o’ my soul I been finding it awful difficult to function without.

London, there it is, up ahead. Be it the London Conrad caught snaking through fog in those opening pages o’ Heart Of Darkness, be it the London Strummer watched burn and rise anew, be it the County Hell, the home o’ yon Landlord, the “Bitch’s bastard’s whore” done rid Shane o’ his pennies back in the day, or be it all of those things and any amount less, whatever it is, it’s there, it has a hand on my knee and it’s telling me it likes my way with a G and the way I say “fuck” in conjunction with words not necessarily “fuck”.

What I say is I have a thirst for those lights all burning my breath.

What I say is it’s a thirst I set about acquiring by way of masking that other craving, being the one connected solely to the blue all dancin’ in her eyes.

It’s 7:45 I tell her, announcing the following; “All it would take for to lead me back from off of Hampstead Heath and, indeed, to have me packing those cases all the sooner, this evening even, would be a line or two from you along the lines of ‘O.k, come on then.’”

What I tell her is London is London, but it’s not you, and therefore it can’t ever occupy any more than maybe 16% of my heart and soul and wrist.

What I say is no pressure, but if you give the go-ahead, I will leave here, today, and book myself into a bus-shelter somewheres ‘longside the fetid plunk o’ the shuffling Liffey waters.

I hit “Send” and spark up a smoke.

Around 5 p.m I woke up to the hiss of a gentleman reading In Cold Blood from out the earphones wound round my neck. Before I opened the blinds I spent a moment soaking up this sensation in the chest, this hunch about how what was waiting other side of that windowpane was nothing less than the most beautiful day of the year thus far. Kinda day a man might sit in the back garden drinking Diet Coke, smoking Mayfair Kingsize and reading poetry written by women lost to delirious fancies regarding Saint Augustine.

It was raining. But oh, what beautiful rain.

I saw the inbox flashing, y’unnerstann, and “RE: At Great Risk, A Declaration” couple lines down, just after a spam affair offering 98% more willy and a fella from Wolverhampton promising all the drugs a belly could handle for no more than the price of a stamp.

I saw it, and I shivered a tad. I’ll open it later, I figured, after I shred a couple inches off the lawn.

T’was whilst I was cutting the grass that I got to thinking about how London might not want to kill me. Maybe all I’d find would be a collection of scenes much like what I’m used to, just played out afore a different set o’ bastards and poets and folks make me smile and chuckle and weep.

Maybe there’s no reason to be scared.

And aye, maybe I’ll never need worry. Maybe she’s demanded, in CAPS LOCK swears all Courier New and size 99 that I better get down there immediately, come kiss her and hold her hand and sing her that song I wrote about how I was sorry I had a wank regarding a dirty joke she made one time.

That she didn’t say that, that she maybe said no, stay where you are, all very likely, and all very unpleasant, no thought to be thinking whilst a fellas trimming hedges with a blade size o’ Russia.

I stared at the email a long time before I opened it.

Eventually, I did.

I leave for London on Monday.

Thanks folks.