Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Gross accidents and public humiliations 2

Helen knew that Simon had been seeing someone else. A mobile phone that switched to messages the moment he left the house. The state of his underpants compared to the state of their bed sheets. A sudden spate of sit-ups. All told a story she didn’t wish to hear.

He was always too busy during the week and too tired at weekends to talk about the difficulties she felt their relationship had drifted into. Every weekend she planned to confront him but somehow Monday came around and off he went to the outside world and whoever it was who was making him happy.

She was making a hotpot one Sunday morning while Simon was in the pub with his Golfing Friends. She’d peeled the potatoes, prepared the lamb, the barley and set herself to dice the carrots. She picked the sharpest Sabatier for the job and at once its steely glint kindled a steely anger inside her.

She was young and attractive enough. Men looked at her in the street. Who the hell did the fat bastard think he was? A dick like a carrot, too. She slashed at the one in her hand, threw it in the pot and grabbed another. How dare he take her for granted in this way?

She slashed at the carrot with equal ferocity, threw it in the pot and grabbed yet another. Her blood seethed .She could bone him, fillet him, chop him to mush without compunction.

The door opened suddenly upon her homicidal fantasies and Simon barged into the kitchen singing. Caught off guard by his sudden appearance Helen chopped through two fingers of her left hand. She stared down at them lying amongst the carrots and then up at Simon. He darted for the telephone as she started to scream.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Gross accidents and public humiliations.

Raymond Jones was nearing the zenith of his career as Auteur and Cineaste when he fell off the South of France, attempting to coerce a Fellow Cineaste’s wife into the coastal scrub for what he described as a little light fingering.

The Fellow Cineaste’s Wife had laughed coquettishly at his suggestion; he was of course highly influential in film finance and an outright refusal could do nothing but harm. She lifted her sun glasses and gave him her best shy smile, “I’m afraid I’d only disappoint,” she moued deliciously.

Raymond, raising an ironic eyebrow, missed her anxious darting look for someone from the film unit to come and interrupt them. The crew, however, were all too mindful of the great man’s reputation and, more specifically his psychotic rages, to dare intervene. She was on her own.

Raymond stretched out a languid arm to lean insouciantly against where he assumed the whitewashed corniche wall should be. Alas, it had petered out some meters before but his languor had forbidden him to check. Suddenly she was on her own for real.

He fell forty meters, loudly, to the rocks below. The Fellow Cineaste’s Wife cradled her face in her hands and screamed. The more nimble of the film unit stumbled down the rocky paths to where Raymond lay, his blood seeping into the famously polluted waters.

He was dead by the time the emergency services arrived. And his producers were already in hard negotiations with the insurers. Harsh words on completion bonds and rescheduling filled the air above the gurney bearing the corpse to the ambulance.

Raymond’s tearful personal assistant asked the Fellow Cineaste’s Wife what his last words had been. But she said she was too shocked to remember.

They were, in fact, “Help me, you cunt!”

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Quests 3

Whilst unsure of the precise components, Paul was convinced that the perfect woman was out there somewhere. She wouldn’t be waiting for him of course - after thirty years in Claims Adjustments he knew the true value of romance - but she would exist. It was an actuarial inevitability.

Locating her would be the only problem. Recognising her, he assumed, would be an instinctual process. The perfect woman for him would somehow make this known. Whether through spiritual waves or pheromones, he had no idea. It hadn’t happened yet.

He did however have a plan of campaign. His father had given him one useful piece of advice in adolescence when yet another micro-skirted blonde had sent him packing with hoots of derision. He had pointed out that if it were the Middle Ages and Paul lived in Bristol and never left it, he would have found a woman, decided she was the love of his life, married her, bred and died. And of course, the same would apply if it he had been born in Worcester. Ergo, there were as many perfect loves for him as there were towns in the atlas.

Paul drew up a list of English towns, ruling out conurbations simply on logistical grounds. Whilst one of his perfect women no doubt existed in Greater Manchester, he felt he had a greater chance of spotting her in say Derby or Stroud. He ruled out Wales for culinary reasons and Scotland because he had once stayed in Edinburgh and hated it.

Then every Saturday, armed with a thermos and maps printed off the internet, Paul would make his way to one of England’s smaller towns – usually by rail but on his scooter if the distances were not too challenging - and walk the regional streets looking for love.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Quests 2

Mary Wainright dropped her car keys picnicking in a meadow by the river near Streetley. She and her boyfriend and his cousin searched for hours, her locked Ford sitting smugly nearby. They quartered the field again and again, tempers fraying.

Mary tried prayer, anger, despair and cold disillusion but the keys remained resolutely lost. Her boyfriend called out a locksmith who for an outrageous Sunday Call Out charge let them back into their own vehicle. Her boyfriend was then impossible all the way home.

The following day Mary changed the locks on the car and changed her boyfriend.

Now she’s Mrs Mary Dickinson. And Sunday afternoons she often takes her young family to her “favourite” picnic spot by the river near Streetley. And while they eat, she has a cursory look around, just in case fate offers up her old car keys and proves her right for a change.

Friday, 19 December 2008


When she was little Ann Marie’s father used to take her for long rambling walks every Sunday afternoon in the woods above her placid Alpine village. These walks were a particular treat as her father’s position as a Customs Officer left him little time to devote to domestic affairs.

One sunny afternoon they found themselves in a clearing where an ancient tree stump was ringed with red and white toadstools. Her father explained this was the court of the Fairy Queen herself and perhaps if they sat quietly on the stump, the fairies might come and array themselves on the toadstools chattering away in all their gossamer finery.

Ann Marie sat solemn with concentration until the evening air brought goose bumps to her dangling legs and her father suggested that as the Fairy Queen was obviously paying a social call somewhere else in the forest, it would be better to come back another day.

Next Sunday, try as they might, they just could not locate the clearing. While this only added to the mystique and the credibility of the location, Ann Marie’s insistence on continuing the search every week and her disappointed silence all the way home caused her father to regret his uncharacteristic flight of fancy.

After weeks of her silent reproaches, he applied for a slot on the Sunday Rota, which surprised his colleagues as his seniority effectively freed him from weekend work.

When Ann Marie was old enough to search the forest on her own she could barely remember the yearning that had impelled her desperate quest through the pines. But she never shook off the feeling that something more tangible than a Fairy Queen’s court had been lost on the tree lined slopes above her childhood home.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Disasters narrowly averted 2

Alan invited Sheila round for a meal in his flat. Nothing fancy but he would be cooking it himself. Then he invested in room freshener, cut flowers, moisturiser and a linen sweater. This calculated impersonation of a New Man came from a men’s magazine. He was going to empathise Shelia into bed.

He felt the meal let him down.

Alan lived on takeaways so his first real provisioning trip to a Supermarket became a nightmare. He came home with tins of asparagus and artichoke hearts, weird yoghurts, a chocolate gateau, frozen chips, an enormous Camembert, and a bottle of Bailey’s. Rummaging through the assemblage in his tiny kitchen he realised he’d omitted a main course.

It was too late to go back. He’d only allowed an hour to whip something up, including a shower and a splattering of Hugo Boss. He scrabbled through the ancient kitchen units with a prayer on his lips. Something answered it.

Behind the bin liners was a medium-size tin of Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney Pie. He speed read the instructions, fired up the oven and slammed it in. Then he decanted the asparagus and artichokes into a bowl, dimmed the lights, sunk some Baileys and dived in the shower.

Fragrant and gelled, he was re-cleaning the forks when the doorbell rang .He rushed from the kitchen to open the door.

Sheila stood there, unsure. The place smelt weird and so did Alan. He gave her a sensitive simper. She thought he was stoned and harrumphed lightly.

The Fray Bentos Pie exploded. Wicked shards of the unopened tin fired into the walls like shrapnel. A boiling mist of pie coated the kitchen.

“Plonker!” yelled Sheila, heading back down the stairs.

Alan stared at his bombed-out kitchen. He began to realise how lucky he’d been.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Disasters narrowly averted 1

Lucy had been living with Aidan for a year or more when she became a strippagram. She specialised in naughty nurses and didn’t tell Aidan, considering their sex life to be too much of a chore already.

She only worked during the day, appearing at leaving parties, birthday do’s and other pedestrian functions. The money came in handy, as Aidan was not a big earner and Lucy had fashionable tastes. All in all she had to consider it a success, if you discounted the roving hands and the dribble.

Then one day, she was called to a sales conference at a local hotel. The target was the Salesman of the Month, had a crabby wife and needed a little treatment before going home to her. She rehearsed the pathetic clichés that always worked on these occasions in the mini-cab, walked into the hotel, with a coat disguising her outfit.

She was lead by some sniggering colleagues, each trying to peer inside her coat for a preview, to a large but dingy reception suite.

“He’s the gimpy one in the blue suit and glasses, holding the diploma,” one said.

They paused by the door, as Lucy struggled out of her coat. Then she pulled back her shoulders, unbuttoned her cleavage and burst into the room.

Aidan, for once in his life a success at work, turned to see what he thought was his girlfriend rushing towards him in microscopic nurse’s outfit, stockings and high-heels, shouting “Time for your bed bath, big boy!”

He went into cardiac arrest on the spot. As Lucy leant over him, at a loss for her next course of action, Aidan was too far gone to remember who she was.

Lucy changed her routine to Naughty Nun. She felt it’d be safer that way.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Arbitrary Revelations and disillusionment 5

Dr. Webster had two young children and a tight budget. Accordingly when his wife wanted a summer holiday in Spain, the Websters occupied a moderate family room in a smart new complex in Mijas. Paul and Amy were young enough to share with their parents, each having a small foldaway bed positioned between the balcony and the bathroom door.

Mrs Webster was relatively pleased with the arrangements, the children were pleased with the beach and Dr. Webster celebrated with paella as part of their demi-pension evening meal.

The paella went straight through him, rendering him toilet bound for two whole days. The soreness of his rectum was acute and his temper similarly raw. On the third day, after yet another argument over some trifle, he hobbled into a local pharmacy and prescribed himself a tube of soothing anaesthetic cream.

Regular applications throughout the day ensured a good time was had by all. Mrs Webster gave Dr. Webster a hug in evening and wore her new shawl to dinner. Paul and Amy were so excited by the day that it took them an hour to settle down, but eventually the Websters relaxed into a sunburned sleep.

Dr. Webster awoke in the middle of the night with his rectum throbbing agonisingly. Try as he might he simply couldn’t return to sleep. He tiptoed out of bed, stepped over the beds of his sleeping children and felt his way into the bathroom.

He didn’t dare put on the bathroom light but felt his way around the wall cabinet, uncapped the tube and applied the cream.

Mrs. Webster, Paul and Amy were tugged awake by the sound of screaming. They stared terrified into the darkened bathroom where Dr. Webster was discovering he’d elected to treat with Mrs Webster’s menthol whitening toothpaste.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Arbritary revelations and disillusionment 4

By the time he’d survived the Second World War, Corporal Harry Robertson had had enough of the world. The world was of criminal intent; only self interest, violence and luck held sway. The prospect of going home, marrying, raising children and pursuing a career in light of the great and sordid truth life had stuffed in his kitbag dismayed him. In all truth he couldn’t do it.

He got off the train at Victoria, forewent his de-mob suit and cadged a transport over to France. There he located the recruitment office of The French Foreign Legion. And there he enlisted.

Harry’s reasoning was simple. Only the world’s military instruments of policy were free from the taint of greed, hypocrisy and cant. They had no hidden intentions. You could trust an army.

The first thing he noticed during training was the large number of Germans amongst the new recruits. Most had a burned off SS blood group tattoo under their armpits. After them came Italian Fascist enforcers, Milice torturers, Cagoule assassins, Chetniks and others with similar incentives for anonymity.

Harry now shared a dormitory with the monsters from whom he’d spent the war trying to protect the world and from whom, knowing them to be the dominant species, he had attempted to escape.

There is no room for irony in the Legion. Over the next five years he and these new champions of French interest fought impossible actions in hopeless situations from Dahomey to Indochina, in the cause of the Free World. It was bloody, thankless but free from rationalisation.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Arbritrary revelations and disillusionment 3

When Ann-Marie Baxter accepted Reinhardt Hubel's proposal of marriage, her decision was influenced more by an unremitting hatred of being a hotel receptionist in Rotherham rather than some exotic appeal of burly Reinhardt and his plantation on the Gold Coast.

Whatever magic there was disappeared very quickly in Africa. Reinhardt squeezed her nipples abominably in bed and attempted sodomy whenever he'd drunk a fourth martini at the Planters' Club.

Her days and nights were agonising and one day when Reinhardt had been bitten by a poisonous snake on the veranda it took her half an hour to get to the phone.

Reinhardt was buried on his plantation in the Gold Coast, and Ann-Marie now lives in a maintained flat in Swiss Cottage with a small dog.
Neither of them has been back to Rotherham

Monday, 8 December 2008

Arbritrary revelations and disillusionment 2

Jenny Moore had a delightful if well worn soprano voice and had steered her long and indeterminate showbiz career into the safe haven of Cruise Liners. She crooned and cha cha’d at retirees, widows and invalids on each of the seven seas. An experienced traveller, she could pack in an afternoon for a three week trip around the Azores with a different outfit every day and still have room in her trunk for the collected works of Shakespeare, which was more of a conversation piece than a companion.

Although there was something overwhelmingly small screen about her history, Jenny came across as much larger than life. She was accordingly pursued by widowers and elderly men with deaf or indifferent wives. On occasion she would slow down to give the more persuasive and well placed a chance to make an affluent play for her.

One especially well qualified elder gentleman finally made the inner sanctum of her cabin through well turned flattery and a bottle of vintage Krug. As she opened the bubbly he took the Shakespeare down from the shelf. On the fly leaf was a certificate from Jenny’s school commemorating her victory in the Senior School Elocution Competition. Her beau beamed fondly at it and then read closer.

“Good God, Miss Moore! You’re even older than I am.”

From then on Shakespeare was not wanted on voyage.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Arbritrary revelations and disillusionment 1

Every playtime the Marauders gathered by the remedial unit where the special needs kids were allowed to stay in from the cold. They pulled their hoods up over their heads, made rude gestures in at the windows and dreamt up gang war stunts and commando attacks. They had fifteen minutes before they had to impersonate small boys again.

The raid on the girls’ toilets had long been tabled but had been shelved while smoking experiments and the acquisition of survival knives through bribed elder brothers had been plotted, saved for and fallen through. The girls’ toilet now lay before them like a fat coastal town waiting supinely for pillage.

The plan was simple. Reaching maximum assault velocity across the playground, they would crash through the toilet, pushing open the cubicle doors and jeering at the squatters and exit by the door at the end. Kev would go first followed by Darren, Gary and Simon. Gary and Simon would see most but would be more vulnerable to capture and retribution. In forty seconds they’d all be back to base.

Kev hit the door like an SAS siege-breaker and tore through, smashing in doors. He was moving too fast to look but would have seen nothing anyway until cubicle four where Mrs Conway, caught short on playground duty, was perching precariously over the infant’s toilet bowl. Darren, slipstreaming in Kev’s trajectory, caught only a fleeting glimpse of blue lace knickers stretched across fat knees but Gary made eye contact and froze in terror. Simon careened into him and together, like rabbits in the headlights, they stared at Mrs Conway’s private parts until her outraged bellow spurred them to escape.

They regrouped shaking by the remedial unit and longed to join the mingers inside. A grown-up reckoning awaited them after break. They had seen too much

Friday, 5 December 2008

Ambitions realised 3

Michael had always wanted to go to sea. Being a fastidious boy, he sent off formal letters of enquiry to the Royal Navy, Merchant Marine and Seaman’s Union. Within days he discovered that a life on the Ocean wave was not as accessible as he had hoped.

The Navy wanted qualifications that were beyond him, the Merchant Marine was much reduced and swamped with cheap labour from the Philippines, Russia and other cash-strapped countries.

The Seaman’s Union was over-subscribed and politely discouraging. Michael ruled out Piracy – he didn’t know any pirates and his dad was a Methodist. Instead he implemented Plan B.

He enrolled in catering college and learned to cook Sole Meunière in bulk. After which he applied to a major hotel chain for a job as a sous chef and through diligence and persistence got himself registered as available for work on the Cruise Liners operated by the holding company.

That’s how he found himself in the bowels of the SS Catalina, providing the second class passengers with Mulligatawny soup, rack of lamb and truite aux amandes. Somewhere outside, the Pacific churned by.

Whenever they made port and the crew was allowed onshore, his fellow chefs, waiters, and stewards would head for the beach or the casino but Michael would pull on a battered Reefer Jacket, whatever the temperature, and walk around the dockside bars with a practised roll.

He’d pace the diesel soaked quays happily looking for hard eyed men with weather-beaten faces to talk of cursed voyages, doomed vessels and exotic havens in the backstreets of tropical ports where the rotgut and the women were evenly priced.

All he ever found were Filipinos or Estonians too broke to go into town. But it didn’t matter. They were seafarers all.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Ambitions realised 2

Veronica came from a generation when female trombonists were the butt of unpleasant innuendo and whose career paths inevitably led to novelty bands and end of pier shows.
None-the-less the instrument mesmerised her with its gleaming brassy curves and the welling power of its mellifluous voice.

Her headmistress prevailed upon her father to pay for lessons. They were not well off. And while the other children walked home through the damp colliery town, Veronica would sit and strain to produce music with Mr Harvey, who once had played with the Northern Philharmonic.

Mr Harvey lent her an instrument to take home and sat patiently with her as her competence grew and the notes cascaded. He was worried that, like so many before, Veronica would allow boys to distract her. But Veronica seemed a homely sort, and fortunately for her vocation, quite plain. A trombone would offer her more fulfilment than a man any day.

Veronica worked hard and with Mr Harvey’s help found work playing for small ensembles on regional radio. From time to time she provided raucous crescendos for local comics and at other times contributed to fogbound recitals in Municipal Halls.

When Mr Harvey passed on, Veronica and several friends played a suitable medley in the Crematorium. As the curtain closed and Veronica packed her gleaming instrument away in its red plush, she felt a sense of the fitness of things. She was a fully fledged trombonist. She was earning a living. And Mr Harvey had made it happen.

Fifteen years later, during breaks from the end-of-the-pier show, she would stare into the night sea, sucking on a furtive Craven A and wonder whether Mr Harvey had ever had feelings for her. If he had, she was, on balance, grateful that he hadn’t made them known.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Ambitions realised 1

Marek, Piotr and Jan spent their childhood together. Marek’s grandmother said they would hang together one day but still she stuffed their schoolbags with raisin cakes.

When Marek grew up he was going to leave the village and become a fighter pilot. When Piotr grew up he was going to leave and become a movie star. Jan was going to stay and work in his father’s shop. But he was going to have a big bushy beard like his great uncle Anton.

Whatever Marek and Piotr thought of Jan’s ambition, they said nothing. His father’s shop provided sweets and broken biscuits. Jan was entitled to his great uncle’s beard.

At sixteen, Marek and Piotr packed cardboard suitcases and set off for the city; Marek to join the Air Force and Piotr to work in a smart hotel and impress passing Movie Producers. Jan entered his father’s business and started on his beard.

Jan’s beard was glossy and luxuriant when Piotr, holes in his shoes, shuffled back down the village street carrying his possessions in a canvas bag. Jan poured him a glass of schnapps and set it on the counter.

“What a face fungus!” said Piotr admiringly, “If only old Marek had lived to see it.”

“Not shot down!” cried Jan.

“Run down,” Piotr emptied his glass, “A taxi in Breslau.”

Marek had failed his pilot’s medical and worked in a shoe shop before stepping off a kerb with too much on his mind. Piotr had worked in hotels which charged by the hour. His film career was restricted to haunting the back rows in the cinema.

“The dreams of childhood.” he smiled sadly “At least you have achieved your beard.”

Jan let Piotr stretch out a shaking hand and stroke it. What are friends for but to share ambitions?

Absurdly mismatched pairs 2

Beverly Linklater, although he peopled his stories and verse with surgically depicted bright young things, was an enthusiastic homosexual who used to masturbate vigorously over each new work, relishing his secret libels on the true masculine identities behind each of his glittering heroines.

A tireless seducer of aspiring novelists, he would invite them to tea at a luxurious hotel in London’s West End, listen intently to their relentless opinions and finally offer them introductions to the more influential and thus recherché publishing circles. He would then require, in a roundabout way, to effect his own personal introduction to the body of the aspiring novelist in question.

The more astute and ambitious aspiring novelist acquiesced even before a cake slice had been waved in direction of the cherry gateaux that Beverly habitually ordered. And some are robust household names today.

Beverly was finally ensnared by Gavin, a nasal sous chef from the Midlands who tore the bed linen with his toenails and removed large sums from his bank account both by wheedling and by stealth. Beverly managed to forgive Gavin the violence, the grime and the larceny but he found the herpes hard to swallow.
He was knocked down by a motor cycle courier on his way to a dental appointment and never regained consciousness. His sister had Gavin evicted from the flat in Maida Vale after protracted legal proceedings

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Absurdly mismatched pairs 1

She worked nights in the General Hospital. He worked early shift in a bread factory. They met every morning when, exhausted and smelling of vanilla, he crawled under the duvet and crammed his head under the pillow to try and escape the noise of the kids’ school over the road.

She woke him in up in time for perfunctory sex, a cup of tea and a squint at the early evening news, before snatching up the car keys and returning to the late night perplexities of Intensive Care. When he woke up next, he had a solitary breakfast in front of the late movie and left her an early morning snack in the fridge. Usually a lettuce sandwich with a few hours to develop just the right amount of sogginess. He tried to keep the thumbprints to a minimum.

She told friends they had absolutely nothing in common except the unforgiving nature of their work schedules. He was a right wing, tabloid reading bigot who’d never left the country and saw no reason to. She was Ugandan, naturalised after years of dedication to the NHS and with an innate mission of care.

They were too tired to row. And had had no time at all to become over-familiar with each other. After five years, they knew less about each other than most couples find out on the first weekend away. They both liked it this way.

One morning he puffed his way under the duvet, smelling of vanilla and fresh toothpaste (she was very particular) and banged her head accidentally with his as he collapsed.

“Mind out,” she protested softly.

He looked closely at her, “Good God!” he cried, “You’re black!”

She dug him hard in the ribs and laughed till she coughed.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Epiphanies and other uplifting experiences 3

Patricia found her vocation on an oil spattered motorway verge one blistering Bank Holiday Monday. Her father had loaded them all into his decrepit Vauxhall Vectra which expired some four hours later with at least fifty miles still to go to the sea.

As the Vectra boiled up on the hard shoulder, Patricia’s father harangued the Recovery services on his mobile phone, her brother Bobby vomited into some diesel sodden shrub, her mother, suffering from menstrual cramps, squatted in the coarse grass like a cornered puff adder and Patricia found God.

The traffic churned past unheeding. The smell of its exhaust mixed with Bobby’s bilious evacuations. Her father boiled like the Vectra as her mother spat invective at him. But Patricia had transcended it all. Somehow through the fuel haze, the opalescent glory of the presence of a Higher Power enfolded her and lifted her beyond the toxic imprecations of her family.

She had found her place on earth and her role in this life. She had no more need to see her careers teacher at the end of term. She would dedicate herself to The Lamb. Even though her nose was peeling in the harsh sunlight, she felt his soft and caring eyes upon her, and the warm certainty of having come to some eternal home.

Patricia started her novitiate in a small Carmelite establishment in Northumberland, two hundred miles from home and well away from the nearest motorway. Her family, although outwardly supportive of her vocation, privately had no idea what had possessed her to become a nun. Patricia had everything going for her after all.

They concluded, sadly, that there had to be something wrong with her deep down. But kept it to themselves. Not wishing to offend.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Epiphanies and other uplifting experiences 2

Trevor’s father had been a Desert Rat the Second World War so Trevor knew all about half-tracking around the Sea Of Sand on insufficient fuel and water, dodging German patrols and coming under Stuka attack. He respected General Rommel, a soldier’s soldier happily untainted by the demonic creed of Nazism. He drew his own War Comics correct in every khaki detail.

Trevor’s dad was long dead and Trevor a cardboard engineer when he was called to Dubai to advise on point of sale for the Shopping Festival. Days passed in arctic air-conditioning and stalemated meetings, nights in extended courtesies over elaborate dinners. Finally as a reward for a job appropriately compromised he was taken out on a dune-bashing excursion.

A convoy of Landcruisers drove out into the desert until all horizons were sand, deflated their tyres and skimmed at breakneck speed across the towering dunes. At times only centrifugal force attached them to the overhanging crests. The Bedu drivers kept an expert eye out for lethal soft sand and after an hour of controlled flight, brought their breathless passengers to a safe halt.

Trevor clambered out. The desert stretched away from him in shades of brown and dirty pink. Orange was bleeding into the sky from a hazy setting sun. It was still, just the irregular clanking of cooling engines. The smell of fuel and hot rubber drifted up.

He looked out at the Sea Of Sand his Dad would have seen, this coarse rock and warm pastels. Somewhere out there, his Dad, twenty two and eight stone, was digging out a jeep while covered by Bren Guns from a Wadji wall. And if his Dad was here then he, Trevor, belonged here. He shut his eyes, smelled the diesel and never wanted to go home.

Epiphanies and other uplifting experiences

Jimi Hendrix first appeared to Dieter as he walked to work at the café opposite the Puppenhausmuseum in the centre of Basel. Hendrix was driving a crowded tram. The next day he flitted in front of Dieter in the main station chewing hurriedly at a hot dog and carrying a large leather valise. These were tantalising glimpses, as clouds might part in May for a momentary flash of radiant, warming sunshine.

However a few days later Hendrix sat down at Dieter’s Café, although not at one of Dieter’s tables and opened the Zeitung. Martina took his order for a coffee with none of the hysterics concomitant with cataclysmic moments in Rock History.

Dieter ignored a table of clamouring Japanese and edged closer to the Legend. His slight frame was enwrapped in a white linen shirt that spilled out from a tight snakeskin jacket. A black felt hat with an Indian band was jammed down on the famously teased hair. He lit up a Marlboro with a Zippo. It was Hendrix alright, right down to the wispy beard and the sad, reflective expression.

Throwing caution to the wind, Dieter leant to wipe Jimi’s table top and spoke out of the side of his mouth in his best approximation of American. “You’re back. That’s so cool.”

Hendrix stared fixedly at his paper and drew deeply on his Marlboro.

“What are you doing in Basel?” Dieter persisted, concerned

“Driving a tram,” replied Hendrix in fluent Swiss German, “where’s my coffee?”
Rejoicing in the confidence, Dieter winked at the megastar and went off to hustle Martina and his order

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


As a species we construct our realities through the interweaving of narratives. Our conscious experience, projections and attitudes are all informed by stories we collect and believe we have learned from.

We assemble these stories from personal experiences, news items, anecdotes, chance observations, exemplary tales, histories validated and deluded, myths, partial memories, fables, fantasies, allegories, deductions and suppositions, glimpses and snippets, alibis and other fictions.

Each assemblage is, of course, as unique as the consciousness it is determining and is determined by.

However, the components may be common to many. There are only so many stories in the world.

It is the order, colour and application that make the man.


This is an implacable sequence of micro-stories in which reflect the world and recent times through finite and often small human perspectives and experiences.. We are building a consciousness through narrative and allusions here. The building bricks, structures and motifs will repeat, refine and supplant as such patterns will often do in our conscious considerations. Memory refines judgment. And is frequently coloured by it.

On the way we shall be funny, sad, questing, cruel, surprising, familiar, disturbing, fatalistic and redemptive. As we all are.