insects prose sea


Here’s another thing I wrote years ago approximately 1980 but the illustrations were done last month.


Reclining in cars – the odd word stuck into the cream-pie of conversation – while outside – bloated fish swim belly-upwards in opaque canals.



Waiting, tapping on the roof, holy terrors grip slowly round, their bulbous eyes crane inquiringly – someone’s Boss imitates – pint on bar – insane glare – arms pounce out – slowly picks up beer – frothing at the mouth.


Perfume in cold tightened corridors, dripping downwards, forming pools, crystalling, lit up by cigar-lighters, fumbled and then dropped, burning through the floor and down through the world, the underworld, out the other side, a long way down.


Seeing hearts in stores, under garages, ornamental gardens, descending and ascending – even without seeing – bad breed, bad blood.

Whistling at windows and shunting in cars, little self-conscious taps of the feet, dripping half-rhythms trickling aromas no nose can smell.

Dream-tornados wheeze through run-down wooden houses.


Rivers like grins, crescent or twisted, sticking into bays, then starting out again.



Hunting etcetera

Here is a short prose piece I wrote in about 1979. It is a poor imitation of a writer who I last mentioned here on the 3rd November 2011. So this can be an introduction to whatever I deliver as before promised.

A fabled beast, Scurzione by name, once withheld the advances of a pack of noble hunters. Noble, that is, in that they were of the nobility; not at all in any other sense. Indeed they were thoroughly petty individuals with their peevish rivalries and pompous airs. They were not without skill, however, in the practice of hunting. In short, Scurzione was hard stretched to evade their sharply pointed lances. Usually he never needed to exert himself in foiling clumsy attempts by groups of hunters on foot – always noisy and very often smelly. (This fabulous beast had a highly acute sense of both hearing and smell). But, on this occasion, he found himself having to run for his life, which seemed to him to be a tremendous loss of dignity – he set himself high standards. He was aware of his unique position as a legendary byword, a living example of the fantastic.

Still, he withheld their advances – what more need be said.

The distasteful young hunters eventually turned from this illustrious quarry and settled for a couple of roe deer and what seemed to be a giant mole – about three feet long, an outsize rodent with strong front feet (or paws if you prefer). It had put up virtually no opposition whatever to their brutal lance-thrusts, but its feet and nostrils twitched as it was carried along skewered victoriously on a blood-stained lance.

Let us pray that that will never be the end of Scurzione, that worthy quadruped of the inquisitive scaly snout and of the relaxed and indolently doleful eyes. Rather should he perish by his own impulse. No longer able to evade hunters on his old legs, weary and ready to die, he might fling himself into a fast-flowing river – abandoning his failing body to the swift current.

But to return to the present let us see Scurzione regain his breath, see him admit to himself that he had come close to death for a moment. He reached the top of an exposed rockface in the hillside. From this vantage point he could look down over the forest of beech and oak trees. In the distance rose the smoke of the human habitations which he had learnt to avoid. He had seen enough of these humans to know that they were true scoundrels who would kill (and probably eat) one without the slightest compunction. He had come to despise these landed gentry types most of all. They seemed to consider all types of life as provided for their benefit and amusement. When would their tyrannical arrogance ever be punished? When indeed.

But he felt superior to their violent ruthlessness – their stubborn selfishness. No doubt to feel himself superior was a mistake but he could not help it. He hurt nobody. He created a little beauty and mystery in the lives of those that perceived him – drinking at night in a sweet forest pool or just a flashing shadow seen at distance, through oak and holly trees. And he lived true to his own idea of beauty.

How he would have hated it if he had known that to the other creatures of the area – the deer and the pigs and the small antelope – he was nothing less than a ridiculous freak, a bizarre outsider with unfathomable habits whose existence meant nothing to them.

Thus can a fabled beast be greatly mistaken in his interpretation of the world he sees. Thus can the fable end – in disillusionment, always in disillusionment.

birds nonsense prose sea trees

Winter Thirst


A Short Operation


Green became tawny. Between tall spindle trees smoke rose from a cottage chimney. It hung in the air and then spilled to one side.

As Ern and Kast drew closer they heard sweet violin tones, muffled by thick limestone walls. The door was open – they knocked and Ern shoved his head inside. Both were grabbed, shaken and invited to dance by a frenzied crone, drenched with a bitter perfume. Mascara cascaded down her wrinkled cheeks. Her breath smelt strongly of onions.

The face of the violinist caused them to leap back towards the door. It resembled a metal flower – well-rusted and extremely scrappy – fit only for the junkyard.

They both ran for it, of course. Afterwards Kast said to Ern “You know, I liked very much that violin-playing.” Ern agreed that it had been astoundingly skillful. They returned to their small boat and sailed back across the channel to their homeport.

Ern’s Dream

At work, wearing new overalls he spilled a plastic cup of hot chocolate over his chest. His father emerged from behind a forklift truck. His eyes were pointed heavenwards.

“Commend my son unto thee. See he is like a whisky bottle run dry – the last drop of spirit lies unevaporated around the concave bottom. His mother passed away many years ago, since when I have used a fish in order to be faithful to her. Aye, a fish, like fisherfolk do on long sea-voyages.”

His dad was acting like a raving widower. He could not bear to see him thus transformed and went for him with a box of nails, assorted into handy sizes.

His father, with a cut eye and forehead lurched back out of what was now a chapel. A rather lively fugue was being performed on the organ. He followed the injured man out into a sunlit courtyard. Out in the open air, church bells pealed deafeningly. They were quickly surrounded by ostriches with long inquisitive beaks and necks.

He retreated to the chapel where he watched through the peephole whilst the ostriches, somewhat excited by the smell of fresh blood, perpetrated hideous disfigurements on his father’s whole body. The old chap still clung on though and, when he could, delivered stubborn kicks that winded several of the birds.

Ern was interrupted by a tug of his sleeve. “Could you sit down during the sermon, please” asked a rather presumptuous lay-worker. He sat in a central pew.

“Hells’ teeth, friends, are long, like fritters, coated in tartaric acid with the taste of rancid margarine exhumed from a dead man’s gut. Eventual Justice Will Prevail. I can’t express this too often. Some of you here today will be clawed by bird-men till you are but bleeding wrecks – raw carcasses yet still alive.”

At this point in the sermon Ern blushed, thinking of his poor old dad at the mercy of those unusually savage ostriches. Defying the lay-worker’s despising glare he hastened to the door and looked out to see his father struggling to get in, a mass of blood and feathers. Although one could not make out much of his face he seemed to cast a reproachful glance at his son through the small glass square. Ern repented. He opened the door. The lay-worker loomed up behind, slobbering with rage. Ern’s dad, now a vicious fighter, jumped on this rather pompous little individual.

At first Ern was quite amused to see this little runt take a beating, but then he noticed the scissors in his father’s hands.

“How the devil did he get those” he thought.

It was already too late – the sharp little blades had gone straight through the shirt that had been white, but was now reddening, and split the lay-worker’s abdomen open.

“You fool!” shouted the angered official.

No-one paid much attention, for meanwhile the ostriches had invaded what was now a cathedral. Some could fly and defecated on the choir and congregation from above. It grieved Ern’s heart to see such desecration.

La Flèche Sympathique

Eventually Kast and Ern never returned to their home-town.

Edgar felt lost without them. He mooned around the quayside where he had so frequently welcomed them in past years. One afternoon he sat on a backless metal bench facing a light dredger of dowdy appearance. To his left, by a rusting capstan, an unkempt mongrel was spewing up a dark red (almost russet) mixture that reminded him of something he had once seen on the floor of a Parisian public convenience.

This only added further to his irritation. Back home, his landlady would invite him to a game of chess, but both she and the game itself he found boring – he preferred to watch the dog.

“At least out here some adventure might befall me” he thought.

His wish was granted. Perhaps Ern or Kast had something to do with it, but after all, who cares – an adventure’s not to be scoffed at.

Later that evening he had returned to his apartment and was intently studying a cup of tea, when someone climbed in through his living-room window – open as it always was at this time of the year. A smartly-casual clerical type with a bulbous nose and a complete lack of eyebrows walked briskly across the room towards Edgar, seized him by the wrist and led him back to the window.

Most people would have resisted, but Edgar’s present lethargy and ennui induced him to succumb. One must admit, however, that he did begin to have serious misgivings when he found himself on a narrow ledge some thirty feet above the concrete yard at the back of the house. But there was no need to worry – they jumped and both started flying through the air.

“How peculiar” mused Edgar. It was certainly an unexpected twist to the day. They followed the widening channel and then reached the sea. As Edgar watched the beach and cliffs fade into the distance his thoughts turned to Ern and Kast – lost friends drifting in a void. Probably eating hamburgers. He, too, was hungry and rather cold by this time. He looked towards his companion for some sort of explanation, but the clerical character would not look at him. In fact, he strained his neck away, searching in the distance.

Gulls glided below complaining to the wind of the hardness of their life. Or so it seemed to Edgar. Actually he felt like complaining himself. I mean, an adventure is something, that’s true, but there must be limits, after all.

Eventually they reached another coastline. Highlands rose steeply from sea-level. A few miles inland they reached a pass between two craggy mountains. A medium-sized office block reared up on a grassy plateau. The two aviators came close to the building, hovered down and entered through a window just like his at home.

The room was a rather dreary office. At last his abductor spoke,

“You have been chosen as one of the few here in Arsanda – the few given the chance to marry the King’s daughter and rule at her side when he dies. This is a magical kingdom and the perks and benefits are unbelievable – I cannot begin to explain them to an uninitiate like you. Yours could be a life of luxury. But in order to win the Princess you must work here for forty years. She is but two years old, the King is twenty-four and has a good many years left. You must in the meantime prove yourself worthy of the Princess’s favours. You or one of the fifty like you – it matters not which.”

In The Golf Club

Scene IV

(The golf club bar. It is dingy and dimly-lit. The 4th Trombonist is acting as barman. Pious and unrelenting he pours lager over the heads of the customers. Whilst the following exchange is advancing, the customers throng, jostle and joke incessantly. Gordon and Firtree are sat on stools some ten feet from the bar. Each has his drink. The juke-box plays Amarillo Zippodder’s “Crazed ‘Bout You” as many times as necessary.)

Gordon: Nice whisky.

Firtree: You think so? Not a mixture?

Gordon: No, not on my nelly.

Firtree: Your nelly?

Gordon: That’s what I said.


Gordon: Been playing?

Firtree: Praying, actually.

Gordon: Preying?

Firtree: No. Praying. To Jesus.

Gordon: I say, really?

Firtree: Well, no, just my little joke.

Gordon: You’ll never believe what happened to me on the fourteenth. I was trouncing old Thompson, the building chappie, by a clear seven points when we were interrupted by a balloon race. One of the blighters landed on the fairway.

Firtree: Gawd, did you chase them?

Gordon: Tried to, but they turned on us with empty propane canisters. Smashed up our clubs, too. Spoiled the game completely. You know – it’s impossible to go on when you’ve been put off your stroke like that.

(A bunch of drunken young men lurch backwards knocking Gordon and Firtree off their stools.)

Gordon (still on the floor): Have care, you swine.

Firtree (rising painfully): Oh my ribs – something’s smashed.

Gordon: See what you’ve done, you bastards, my friend’s haemophiliac.

1st drunken youth: We don’t care if he’s made of delicate china or fine cut glass.

2nd drunken youth: Or built like Humpty-Dumpty. Eggshell surface – a bag of wind inside.

(The lights fade. A whistle pierces the stillness. A single beam of light returns – directed on a solitary drunk.)

Solitary Drunk (thinks): We burnt his feet, by the side of the fishpond. The wind blew backwards, rushing repeatedly through two silver tree-trunks. A renegade ice-cream van careered through the undergrowth, an ominous green light within. He staggered up, his feet peeling and blistered, and crawled off to look for his mother, on her way home from the supermarket. But she had run off with her new boyfriend – Cyclops. They had taken a taxi to the station and were already arguing.

“Do you always wear blue socks with brown shoes?”

Cyclops began to stammer an excuse, but kept silent. They passed by a huge red-brick factory which caused the very air to stink of rotting carrots discovered under one’s mattress on a winter’s night.

Then, the station. The taxi pulled up, but neither mother nor boyfriend showed any sign of stirring.

“I’m bored” said Maria (the mother, that is).

“I’m not going to cringe before you any longer, you toadthug.”

“What a cheek! You frisky cad!”

“Don’t ever ask me again. Come on, let’s get the train. Pay this citizen.”

“Don’t talk to me like that. My father was a foreman, my mother was a nurse, and I was made to swear, I’d never end up worse.”

An Only Child

Sebrana rose – she’d had enough. The kettle was left to boil as she slipped through the Judas trees, her eyelids pinned to her cheeks.

Night it was and fine, bright one too. The wind sounded like rustic pipes, blown by a dolt.

She walked head-down across the clodded meadow, pretending to be with Gordon, her imaginary lover, who whistled a tuneful waltz in her ear. They were in the desert – on a sand dune – it was jolly.

Back in the forest, as tall as trees, Sebrana sobbed on Gordon’s shoulders. Now they had grown even larger and used mountains as armchairs in their cosy apartment.

In truth she was alone. Even the little animals seemed to avoid her. If she had carried a knife in her bag she could have stuck it in her heart. Kept it there as a souvenir. Of Gordon, vanished, running into the night, lost in the forest.


Gordon eventually reached the house and entered by the conservatory. Once inside he ran upstairs into the bathroom and removed his sore eye. In the next room he could hear a hungry baby wailing for attention.

He slipped his plastic clammy fingers over the door-handle, pushed the door open and took a step inside.

One day, in the Caucasus Mountains, a goatherd had a dream :

He was in a red polystyrene beaker in a turgid canal – floating whichever way the wind blew. From this vantage-point he saw the moon, with a face, bend down and kiss a mad dog. Marching past, a military band were playing a foxtrot, but stopped and drew swords. The dog was slain. He saw tears on the eyes of the moon-face.

Back in the bottom of the beaker he found a handful of salted peanuts – and, shortly afterwards, woke up.

Back in the house, Gordon side-stepped into the corridor. The lights began to flicker incessantly in the umbrage, causing his thoughts to flash back to the freak meteorite storm that had occurred in his bedroom when he was nine years old. The next day he had found a smooth, rounded pebble in a clear mountain stream. His mind and indeed his life was full of such irrelevancies.

Suddenly he cried, “Yike!” as an enormous jellyfish, crimson with purple spots, plopped off the glass roof onto his neck. As it slipped down his shirt he sat on the foam carpet, sobbing.

Another door opened. Gadfly, the boy jockey, appeared with a handful of radishes.

“What’s up?” he queried.

“I need your help, I’ve been the victim of a vile ambush” said Gordon, opening his shirt-front to let the jellyfish slop out over his lap onto the foam. It scurried down the passageway towards the stairs.

Gadfly sniggered. “That’s Tony. He loves his little joke”

“Tee hee” thought Gordon.

music prose sea

Christmas 2011

It’s been a particularly dark, dismal and wet end of December start of new year, but I have managed to do a couple of things. Firstly here is a piece of music with words that I have called Pineapple Crumble. Not that I’ve eaten any pineapple crumble, but now I’m determined to make some sometime in 2012. The music part was recorded on Christmas Day and the words I used were a couple of things I wrote in August and September 2011. Here’s the text of the August one with some bespoke illustrations,

freestyle thursday 11th august 2011 00:56

here we are with this unrelated scion
tress dispossessed
certain to be dropped
wherever cantilevered
and outmanouevred
treading in traction
for only a fraction
of the expenditure
we counted it earlier
then we spent it
like monkeys up a tree

which is frustrating
when you’re delusioned
that’s an illusion
that implies wit
like a gong that’s hit

upstairs at night
to announce prayers
Dorothy L. Sayers
had it with Wimsey
that’s hardly flimsy
just points to pieces
therapeutic diseases
cured at Lourdes
by the people who toured
constructed pavilions
with mosaics of vermilion
if that’s not too flowery
like a bell chiming hourly
at the top there’s the steeple
inside all the people
circling surely
poisoned not purely
relaxed and tradition
subtle rendition
the ladder to tumble
the corner to crumble

Pineapple Crumble

And another thing I managed to do was to complete a music video to go with a version of my song Children of the Sea using footage taken by my friend Simon Williams.

nonsense prose

Fool’s Gold Part 4

This is the last part of the Fool’s Gold travesty. Here are the links to the other parts.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

And now here is Part 4.

Tired and embarrassed as usual, but he still stayed up until everybody else went to bed.

He found her reclining on an antique dresser. When he asked her of her intentions she simply pointed out of the window towards a clump of laburnums.

Do you know what this means? Have you any idea what’s going to happen now?! Have you no shame?!!

Will you tango? Just this once? Go on.

A day-charge, a day-charge. Six day-charges.

Off the greasy coast a boat slipped round towards the crude headland. We followed them slurping over the dunes, dragged down by weights. And still we got there before them. As we were digging they creaked up behind. But most of us had hung back under cover. And so they had no chance.

Let’s improve things. Come on, react for once, dare you?

Take these overalls and sleep on them.

What about our government?

There is a problem – don’t worry though. It can be sorted out.

Let’s harness it – try to focus on what’s real. What is real? Spotty – you should know the answer to that.

Do you want to eat some of this giant cucumber? Look at it, in my hands, isn’t it enormous. Here, I can push this knitting needle right through it.

If you’re really indifferent don’t pretend to be otherwise. It’s a posture you put on to fool people. Come on – admit it.

Pepper and salt.

Felony is only permissible when performed by more than one person. It’s a curious ruling which we believe to be unique among all other current nations.

Oh the epitome.

Is there a fifth trombonist or is it a mistake in the programme?

He thinks it’s a burden. Just look at him. Have you ever seen anyone so affected? He should watch himself.

Caught in an eddy.


There’s a strong bias to the left. The motor’s slowing down. Do something.

Slurp it once, slurp it twice. Slurp it down it tastes so nice. Slurp it when you’re feeling good. Slurp it like you’re slurping blood.

The most crushing defeat – but fear not. Wherein the simplest faces were turned now all is turned to gibberish and the moon – planks of the deepest ocean are nothing to the ever-present trustees.

Variably so, increasingly.

Single breathedly.

Pip pip per paska. Hiss hiss sun mink.

Vermicelli, please, and plenty of new pegs too.

It’s fading – so hold on – we’ll have to come through backwards. Now slowly.

I’ll give you jagged.

Her scrutiny. It pleases me. Won’t she look again. Will her to. I demand it.

Make preparations by all means. It will be the pilgrimge of a lifetime – that I can promise you.

Slowly, inexorably, soon to plough overfield.

Stavitz again. Just as if it was raining.

When it’s warm enough – climb inside and sink like earthbound sap along the tree’s bark until that which you once remembered as a few moments ago is lost in a labyrinth of meaningless egg-formations. Or in other words – fall asleep. I’ll keep watch.

Press on it. Here. And over here… Harder.

Chewing. Labouring. Festival raising. Parsley-sauce making.

Jamboree. That’s J..A..M..B..O..R..E..E…

Go to Fleet St. as fast as you can. Tell them there’s an interesting story that may not be too amusing for their readers.

This is my studio. What do you think? Take a look around. Do you like these?

Yes thanks. What’s this?

Put it in this giant brazier. Now watch it burn. I’d give all the world for just that.

Scandals on every page. Take this peat-dropping incident – have you ever heard anything like it?

Tis an unfair thing to pry where you are not wanted – where no good can be done – for it is a hopeless case.

I spent twenty-three minutes watching men working. Digging a trench.

I don’t often make jokes.

We went through the Suez Canal with a religious maniac.

He’s had too much today. Too much brilliant sunshine and a flat tyre and sherry until it flowed from his navel.

I always look for a letter, whenever I come in. At dusk I switch on my front room light – check – then switch off. At night I push the door well open to cast streetlight on the entrance – make sure that no envelope has been shoved through. I usually expect her to be waiting for me – alone in the dark. I don’t dream such things – I laugh at myself as soon as I have turned the light on.

Shuffle away.

Slurping machines lunge out of misted-up windows.

People talk such tosh – I specialise myself.

She still haunts me. I don’t know what speaking to her will do to me.

That’s nothing new.

Scale the fortress and then ask me that again.

She’s almost cured. Sometimes it still hurts.

Lohengrin, Lohengrin come here and have a breakthrough. Dismiss this dull depression and despair.

Look at his little tootsies.

Dance, dance your legs off my little Louisiana chicken. You certainly have made an impact on me. You must visit me up the bayou one day. Hetsy can show you which way to come. Bring your dancing shoes. I have lots of different seeds for you to chew.

Afterwards the sky was stained red in the west.

Thus in a tent, before ten yards were gone… the ptarmigan all hunched and incumbent…

Hello sweetie, belabour, do you hear. Be labour and a quick about it. A quick about it too. Be labour.

What about Crème de Menthe?

It’s symbolically cold – the ice. Here cop hold of this. Fungus. Beetroot-coloured fungus. Thick and slimy. With a nose like a butcher’s scalpel.

It doesn’t take a pigeon’s leg to make a good man happy.

Why do you torture me? Surely you’ve had enough of a good time already.

Enlumpen yourself. Tout de suite. A l’adverserie. And then melt surreptitiously away.

As you wish.

Here’s the crumble. Betray it at your peril. Wake up sleepily and pour gravy on your belly. Then take saucepan with frying grease and unwax it on the ceiling. Have you got that?

Whaahh ugh, whauoogh stersplosh tra-tra-tra-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhh. Minsha minsha – triiiiiiiipe saplatz saplatz

What d’ya take me for? A passport to exotica or sumting?

Does this tempt you?

Listen just listen – it might happen now.

Solitary trudger, answer me this, how far have you travelled this night and wherefore do you aim?

For instance there’s this one. Here take it. But be careful. Only use it when you absolutely have to.

Bashful they say.

I repent, I repent. For once and for ever – I will not gloat again. Not next time – not never.

Manicures at 50 pinkers a session. And not much else. Still what do you want for 50 pinkers? Have you got any change?

Zippodromes. So they say.

What a way to carry on. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

nonsense prose

Fool’s Gold Part 3

Where could it have led to? The king must surely know by now.

Sadly, not.

The strangest thing so far has been the disappearance of the cockroach’s money-sac and its subsequent reappearance in the blast furnace.

You’re aghast. Surely nothing’s happened?

It’s done – this morning! Down in the street towards the harbour! The black flag unfurled!

We were bundled out neck and heals – and so you see me now – licked and cheated.

The water-loon. It lays its eggs in early April.

Scarcely have I seen a more vacuous element. Do you mean to say this is watchulimina? I’d never have thought it.

Between times they flayed a little contrabass and simulated a pagenzo. It seemed to radidate from an indicular variation.

There’s lemons, tea and borage. If that’s not enough then deprive me of my sickle. Your need and all that.

Bagpipes, clearly and correctly.

Values, today, are somewhat different to when I was a young man. You’d scarcely believe it, but…

You resemble a coelocanth – it’s the truth – plain and simple. Just like.

Must we?

Don’t for one second think I care. I’ll prove to you what it is about him. I suppose you think you know him? Well you don’t. Take it from me. He puts on a show. He’s not like that. Underneath he’s different. Do you see?

You act so sad. What’s changed?

Only thrifty more sages shall pass. If they don’t they’ll suffer. Or not. I scarcely care. What about you?

Silkily and waxed over sideways.

Draining my giblet.

The most provocative whiskers I’ve seen since our childhood in the Punjab. If only you could find someone they’d fit.

I’ve been.

Has it any pockets?

Mysteriously slow approximations of a significant latitude proceeded at quite a rate. Until the aforementioned dovetail was eventually consumed and the apprentice bakers returned to their digs.

Sweet-smelling sedge, in handfuls. Do you want some? What for? Have you none of your own?

This is a bicycle. That’s a chain-saw. Do what you want with them.

Plunging parakeets…

Not sixteen this time.

Can you dance the polka?

Tiltly, love tiltly. Ah’d straighten it aht if I were you, love. Go on – it’d look be’er – ‘onest.

Scamp! Mischievous little rogue! If I catch you in here again I’ll bury you in the orchard – head down.

She’s the one wearing the kilt – over there.

Drums started to beat in all the houses. I was trying to get the stains off an old shirt when a ragged young urchin ran past me on the pavement. Where are you off I cried. He stopped and gave me the most pathetic look.

Such a universe – lah – it’s a one.

Meet me by the precipice.

I like them.

Winches at sea. Pots of plenty. Haul me in Sally my boy.

Here, look at the latest one. It’s the stuff isn’t it. Great job. What do you think, Castrox?

The weight buckled and he fell Splat! on the carpet. Before I knew where I was the poker was in my hand and I belted him one.

Coastguards have ranged up and down the shore all night – waving to the right, waving to the left.

Who mentioned dream-boats?

Meanwhile the moon had risen, milk-pregnant, serene in the ice-filled canopy of the sky.

Fish – filleted, please.

Don’t be stroppy, sarge.

I’ve rummaged in the garbage for 6 hours. Can’t I go home now?


Whisk me off to a Polynesian island. I think I’ve just wet myself again.

He drank it?

Angular man. A triumph for modern metaphysics.

Listen to this record – it’s one of my favourites. Do you like it? Shall we dance? Your hands – they’re so cold. Here – warm them on my shoulder-blades.

More lichen.

In the conical flask.

You must not betray your country. For what, after all, have you lived? Tell me that. Where’s the good in it?

It’s here.

Where is it?

I hate drama – of all the convulsive nightmares that might occur to a diseased, maggot-ridden brain it is surely the greatest and most prevalent these days.

Take your wristwatch off.

Administered by her own hand, they say.

There was a railway, with a train in the distance. We were out collecting ice. Hacking it up with pickaxes and filling our rucksacks. That’s all I remember. I’m going to sleep now. Will you turn off the light or shall I?

In a sense, that’s true.

Who did you say?

When you’ve bent your diaphragm in I’d like you to place all the pegs on this small table.

A still fermenting brew.

He’s a man of distinction by all accounts, but watch out for the ferret he keeps underneath his shirt – it’s called Graham and it packs a venomous snuffle.

Dingy exploit on raft adrift in weed-tangled nightmare
Decrepit governess dropped from eighteenth floor window
Contemptuous newspaper proprietor ripped to shreds by mistaken mob

He’s at the dentist’s.

Clichés are to a nation’s tongue what ivy is to a tree. And that’s why these things are dying. The new image is too contrived now… Are you listening?

You’ve pulled the bedclothes over your head, I can see. But it won’t do you any good. I intend to punish you. Severely. Severely punish you. Do you understand?

He kissed me. My two top buttons were undone. He kissed my bare shoulder. I can’t describe how it felt. I felt like an ice-lolly. And then he smiled at me.


Playfully so. I can’t deny it. …Will you accompany me to the tram terminus – I think I left my copy of Dirripinny’s Autobiography there.

There’s no need to feel proud that you’ve caught syphilis. Not even a sailor would be proud of that. I don’t care if she was a princess – it’s a filthy disease and I hope you suffer hard and long.

Ebeneezer Scrope, sir.

A witless witness, if you’ll excuse the pun.

In garages throughout the country where unseen mechanics gaze surreptitiously at glamour calendars and bored garage owners plan excursions to cricket matches and embarassed car owners loiter hopefully fingering nervous credit cards like atrocious hands in poker games.

I’ve never seen nothing like it. It’s terrific. Bit of a laugh anyway.

We the experts challenge you the laymen to a spot of digging. Any takers?

The epidemic’s started, the street is full of rotting brains that stink like burnt vegetables left to cook for all time itself. Time with a big T and innumerable little dots after it.

Once you start looking inwardly you’re lost and someone else had better start looking for you.

Dropped, spilt and spattered.


By the sea, in a chalet. Sheltered from the raging wind.

Whenever I look out of my window I see a public official sliding on the ice in the street – trying desperately to keep balance and maintain dignity. Here take a look. Is there anyone there? I wish – I do wish I was back at Tresthofs now when it is so cold and the gutters point their frozen fingers matching the pointed railings. There’s so much to do there. Here it may as well be… I don’t know what. There’s nothing to do except look out of windows at people sliding on ice.

What shall we play?

Who is this?

Are you afraid of me?

Don’t think I enjoy this. I don’t need your jealousy – it’s not as if I’m having a good time myself. I hate all this too.

Stop snivelling snail-features.

When will it stop raining?

Pass me by once more and I’ll shower you with pus.

The candyman’s here again. Shall I show him in?

This way, this way please.

So at last you’re here. I’ve been wanting to tell you for ages so listen now. You were related to me through my father’s brother. But that’s not all. Alas it’s a grim tale I have to tell.

She was hanging in a huge basket, strung from the four corners of the ceiling. I waved but she didn’t seem to see me.

What sort are you anyway?

Green and purple stripes with a crescent moon recumbent.

How deep is the dungeon – how sturdy is the oak – how effortless are all your attempts to transfigure the daylight.

Fascinatingly dull.

Someone’s left a dead shrew in my boots again. I’ll wring their bloody necks.

Waking up to a bird’s sonata – it beats everything.

Personally I prefer toboganning.

What sort of hat do you prefer – crumpled or twisted?

If you don’t pause temporarily I shall shake you by the collar-bone until your Adam’s apple comes loose in your throat and pops out of your mouth.

nonsense prose

Fool’s Gold Part 2

What are you writing?

An insoluble dilemma? Not quite. You see you are looking at it from the layman’s point of view. Your vision is restricted if you don’t mind me saying so.

Calamity’s hardly the word.

He flavoured distractedly towards the flickering coppice, grimly clutching the vertebrae of a small animal he had recently done away with. The writing here pangs towards the unexpected. It is what J.P.Mincripust has termed the indolent charge of a blind mammoth and who are we to gainsay him?

Ask me, please. I’ve been waiting a long time for this chance.

Once you’re in the air it is imperative that you keep a close eye on the temperature gauge. The target will appear at approximately 63.20 hours bicuspid.

Hola well. A Murphy if ever. Trap now. Be clever. Sap me sideways, gusset. Inner cloting, muddy inner. Sack me soppet and crarber me uppy.

How depressing…

Sane juice?

Be more precise.


At Shrovetide. There had been floods, at least half a dozen, all the villagers were worn out. They had toiled long wet weeks in their wellies. Their tragic fate was inscribed on the minds of all who passed through on the railway – when there were trains running, that is.

I’ve shoveled up the ground. Now it’s your turn to look for the bones.

Easy, easy there. Don’t treat a horse like that sonny. You’ve got to be more, how shall I put it, baroque? Is that the word I want.

Look at your blisters? I don’t want to see your dirty smelly feet, you loathsome scab.

And then it was flowing out faster than I could swallow and before long I was completely drenched in blood. It was some leech that.

I know I look like a person, but actually I’m a penguin that’s been turned into a person – and most unpleasant I find it too. Most distasteful and really rather boring once the initial novelty’s worn off.

Syphoning’s my only joy now.

I let him have it straight. Told him about us. That we’d been, er, sort of seeing each other. And he started crying. I never thought he’d do that. It was so funny.

Deep in the darkest depths of the forest is a cavern wherein you will find a huge coal-black chest. I think you’ll find it’s in there.

Alligators came at us from all directions, Lily. Foster was the first one to see them – he let out a gurgling snort and started cowering and squawking in the gunwhal. But they didn’t harm us. Just seemed curious. One of them started speaking to us – couldn’t really make it out – in some sort of foreign language they’d picked up from the Indians.

Simply ludicrous.

Won’t he? Well don’t you think he should? Am I to look after him like this? Always?

These beetroots shouldn’t be in here. They’ve no right here. Besides, they’d be better off outside. Don’t you think so, Hollicky Pollicky?

See where his hands wrestle with each other, plunged in the cauldron of boiling ginger beer. What does it portend for us village-folk? For many years we have lived in daily fear of our lives – we have been treated like dirt. And now this perverse ritual. What good will it do us?


An awful lot of juice.

Strappado’s so old-fashioned these days. We’ll have to think of something else to get the party really going with a swing. (Pause) You do want it to go with a swing, don’t you, Jully?

Mace… Cinnamon – oh and some of those brown sponges that I like to wash up with.

If anyone’s going to do any cleaving it’s going to be you. On your own.

Squadron after squadron. I was reminded of those lines, I think it was Housman,

Rank upon rank with glassy stare
Marching down to the Vole’s lair

Quip me crimson, if it isn’t old Salcerdonker.

Alleviate me I beg of you. I am but a weak woman, unworthy of the tasks set before me, but with your aid, your watchful eye, I could surely span the gap betwixt the sea and the sky and colour the trees with rainbow shadows that might please even the plunging astronaut, your brother.

No mention of the débacle in the evening newspaper, dear.

Have you ever been to Lake Constance in April? It’s an invigorating experience.

Quite the little gentleman aren’t we? Ever so hoity-toity – you coy little whippersnapper.

You must do it for Fluff. All the advances you’d have liked to have made – plus the crenellations on all the walled cities you’d ever visited. And then there was Fluff – a worm in a cask of rum.

First traverse this mountain, he says, then this one, as if it was as easy as saying. He’s never had to do what the likes of us has to.

My cousin isn’t a man who would wear a coat like that. You must have made some mistake. Wait – I’ll call him on the telephone. You can speak to him yourself.

Five, aye that’s right, five it was. And here’s me standing here in all my dang-blasted iggorance, thinking it was six! Six? Never. It’s five I say. Give me five.

The complete eunuch strode away from the tent.

Into the ears of the ever-wistful.

I’ve got warts on my bladder
And chilblains up my nose
My state of health grows sadder
I’ve even lost my toes

If the rope swings to the right then you must slacken it off on the left.

Dreary, as usual.

Have you ever heard a light-bulb crying?

Sanguine by all accounts.

I must. Please understand. I don’t hate you. But I owe something to my people – they’re my family. It’s for them that I exist. So just drink up and die.

Sing something – one of the old songs, if you can remember any of them.

A train whose engine is made of solid silver. It cost millions and is only used once a year when the king goes to his summer retreat.

Where are you staying?

I’ve reached a watershed in my life. A chance to look back and also to lie on my roundnesses and gaze up at the future. But in the last few days I’ve become aware of someone else watching with me, though I can’t find which boulder the eyes hide behind.


I’m amazed at your incorrigibility. Simply amazed.

Dungheap horrors flew at me in the dark.

Switch both horses. Give them something to think about.

I’ve drained the vase, gathered the hyacinths and now I’m here ready for your next instructions.


Each time I looked out of the window a new bird had rested on the window-arches, opposite my room. There was a ribbon tied round alternate legs – yellow or red. If yellow is taken to be dot and red dash then the birds spell out in Morse code the message Pass the salt.

Hoovering all afternoon and probably well into the evening. I’ll stop about 8 and we can go to the observatory then.

Like a greenish wart – gassed and sunken.

Have I found you out, Mr Persimmon, do you fall pathetically on the 1st steps of the ideal pyramid?

He has a dromedary fixation.

Like a bloated accordion.

Green lips suited him I would have said.

beyond the grave

Still manciples bequested a troth so steeped in mandrills as to be verily pertinacious. Incumbent postures so rapidly beset one might. Depraved or deprived – who cares!

I saw her in a pear-tree. She looked so omniflorous and underestimatedly serene. Another couple would have her disdained. But we… so coolly… dismissed… I’m a horror… what am I saying?…Aaagh!

Don’t ask me.

Criticisms I’ve heard before. But let me tell you this. It’s only… a statement of how I see things. I’m not saying it’s right – can’t you see, I could be wrong. I COULD BE WRONG!! But if I am right what then. Do you agree? Then hold my foot.

Intrepid as she may seem, I must warn you, Trapezier. Speak no word of the pastry-like oboist and you will be eventually rewarded – I swear it.

Sunday morning and nothing better than an execution.

My tooth I pledge to thee, O great one…

Where’s the porridge! By what paltry commotion do you waken me – pea-people? Is this a revolt or simply another scabby unworthiness? Where’s the porridge!

What I’m interested in is how people react in front of a canopy. Perhaps you can help me here.

From far-flung polnts on the glittering globe – salamanders have gathered to be counted. Pledging their lives for the good of the cause. By the way, what is the cause this time? Last century it was water-drainage. Very tedious.

It’s more and more difficult. I thought it would be easy.

This derringer, please. And a packet of cuckoo-spit.

Swabs…periscopes…not mute this time…only…farinaceous…oblong…

They were worn out by the time I reached them. They’d been all over the moors in the snow looking for her.


Scrubbing the floor all morning then washing clothes in the afternoon.

It was bad management from the start. He’d burnt himself out in the first few days.

Tropass – you’re divine – such a tricky one – and a snooper, too, they say.


Fool’s Gold Part I

More old writing. This dates from about 1982/3 and is headed Imaginary Dialogue (Notes towards a drama). This is part 1 of 3 or 4. The illustrations are new.
It couldn’t have been him – he was washed out, insipid – raw egg dribbled from his ears.

Can you describe anything like that as being “understated”. Surely it’s a contradiction in terms?

We grew up quietly and almost supernaturally. Mother never allowed us to eat at table. Father ignored us largely.

I’ve had enough. If it isn’t you following me and repeating everything I say like some sort of echo.

Don’t deprive me of my crutch. Give it to me.

Wishbones – I’ve seen plenty but I never thought I’d break into this sort of sordid scene. Imagine you’re listening to the radio. Outside it’s pouring with rain. You’re recovering from a serious illness.

Pay attention, this concerns you. At least I think it does. Were you in the sports shop last Saturday?

A vast and ungainly vacuum-cleaner has drifted from the western littoral leaving countless debris in its wake.

I am known to my friends as Hilgarth. They look on me as an unconditional protector steeped in the ways of the Hunswitch and ideal for the purpose of distraction. Their simple legends tell most often of a roaming wolf who knows all the tongues of the Helterland.

Everything you say – every little syllable – would stick in a decent young girl’s throat… and probably choke her.


Lowly as I seem…

He tempted her with sweetmeats and all fine delicacies – softening her palate and ruining her complexion.

Have you been out half-way up the hill before breakfast again?

Did he say “depraved” or “deprived”?

After I had grappled for about half an hour with six of them I managed to escape during a torrential storm. Half of my cheek was hanging loose. Later an old seamstress sewed it back up. But it was then that I knew I had lost my radiant beauty, which had, needless to say, until then, been my livelihood. So that’s what made me take up golf. Seriously, that is. I had played before. But with more enthusiasm than effectiveness.

He drones like a sieve.

A calling! What calling?

Draped in some sort of luminous tent.

No… never… not unless, no I can’t. It’s too much to ask – even of me – you can’t – we mustn’t – not for anything – you must believe me – give up this whole idea – listen!

Here come and have some of this soup. And here’s some for you. Take it Tarvle – there’s plenty left in the bowl for me.

I’ve savoured something of the Natile hospitality before, so I know what’s required here.

Bilge-water fit only for bilge-rats.

So he went up to the window of the motorcycle accessory shop and before I knew what I was seeing he put his lips to the glass and it was like he was sucking it all in – all the glass, that is.

Particoloured, favourised, slowly melting, hues of purple and aniseed grey, stripped of all outer partitioning.

My chilblains, of course.

Muy rápido, señor.

A corruption of an earlier text, blown up to an exact size and then left on a suitable doorstep. Could we have asked for more?

On a grey bench, in a park, on a sunny morning. That’s when it happened.

After all, it’s not unlike your face – and you would never describe yourself as burnt-out, would you?

See where yonder white lodge breaks against the morning’s stillness. Behind you will find a boathouse. A craft awaits you there.

How should I know? I saw him passing through the conservatory, but I certainly didn’t ask him to remove his footwear.

C’est pas ma faute. J’ai suivi ma destinée.

A slow, extinguishing noise that made my flesh tingle, triggering off a constant flow of black pus from my nose.

It wasn’t till I was much older that I was let out of the house. And so I hid in he broom cupboard – it was quiet, dark and I could hear everything that was going on in the kitchen.

Drained of all his senses.

A myopic smudge on the window-ledge – that’s what I took her for. But here she is, all feathery and warm. Let’s call her Bertha. I say, let’s call her Bertha.

We stopped at the gate.

It is apparent to me, sir, that you are an uncontrollable rogue with less sense of honour than a destitute barbarian. In other words, sir, you are an inbred sort of pestilence that I could willingly dispatch with a thrust of my rapier into your foul, cold-blooded, evil-smelling heart!

It’s in the fridge.

It’s cousin Willie all the way from Spitzbergen on leave. Why hello, Willie. How well you’re looking.

Meat. A good half pound. Plenty of good fat on it mind.

Here, Canthrey, what does expatiate mean?

When you tell him keep both your hands behind your back. After he’s heard bring them round the front and do this with them. If he still doesn’t understand – ring me back.

If you wait till later it will be too late – I’m telling you. Oh I know you’ve no savings to speak of, but think what you’ll save this way.

A dragnet of grime. Twopence for a tiny fish. And not before time. Let’s waste a few more precious envelopes.

Let fall and slip away. My dearest one, my only cowslip, your omnivorous appetites must be supported and I, my sweet, must know how to drape your innocent little feelings with finely woven strands of solace.

A partridge? You’ve got a nerve!

After she came back he was like a different man – so cautious, so thoughtful. Some reckoned it was because of the accident. That he’d had time to rethink his entire approach. Oh no! not the sugar tongs!

Burst into action. A sight for sore eyes. Boots scrunching – arms all over – and finally – well we left them to it.

A drop?

Of course, you didn’t know that Scottie was expected did you?

For fifteen long miles over rough and rugged country I have battled to wish you a happy anniversary. I rose at six to be here on time. And now you tell me that there is nothing to be eaten in the whole house. Shame on you Fitzgarrett!

Your breath smells like a brewery. Are you sure you’ve been at a Save The Sedge-Grass meeting?

Baltimore. When I was seventeen.

Vixens, like other female mammals…

We spent a weekend in Stavitz. The two of us. Somehow it was as if we were separated from the rest of the world. Even our daily routine – 3 hours bath in the morning – followed by 2 hours spent crushing beans with our feet – 5 hours gymnastics and finally 3 hours playing hopscotch on the ceiling.

Not pointblank?

Suppose that you were in the haberdasher’s place. How would you act before the undertaker’s son?

I’ve never known a room so full. Everyone from the society must be in here.

It’s not asking much. Just a helping hand – a push from behind. We’re not asking for the moon.

A blend of lactic devices smoothed over and transparent, suffering from many long days in the cold, cold abattoir.

I bring you the red lips of a Mongol emperor, prised from his mouth while he slept the sleep of a thousand sleeps. Here, perhaps they would look best on the satchel that your son uses to carry his books to and from school.

My master had been talking to me, but I was all together fascinated by the shape of the ashes in the ashtray. They seemed like a map of my early childhood. Though, of course, how could ashes represent something like that?

I said innocently!

moth prose

An Evening Stroll

This is the 35th (Maybe) post of my blog. Not necessarily the sort of number that one usually celebrates and perhaps this is not a celebration. When I post something I write some words. That’s writing but not really what I’d call memorable writing. Once upon a time I used to write more. I wrote short prose pieces generally but some longer ones. I don’t think that anything I wrote had much merit. I’ve read a lot and generally know if something’s good or not. To be creative first of all you need to have good taste. Of course it’s impossible to say exactly what constitutes good taste. There’s nothing to prove really and anyway what does it matter? The proof is in the pudding as they say and different people like different puddings. Longevity should be the only proof and sometimes perhaps longevity is for some quirky reason while things with great value are lost like buried treasure never to be found.

So this is an ideal place for me to preserve some of my old prose writing. If there is anything half-decent it is very derivative. Below is an example dating from the 70s. As moths are central to the piece I also include a demo I did of a song of mine called 5 Dead Songs which I recorded in 2007 I think. Part of the first verse goes

breadcrumbs and kings
and moths and things

it is a fragment from another song which I think is called Possibly Somewhere In Between and which is one of the 5 songs referred to in the title. The demo is a home recording so the quality isn’t great. I was drinking while working on the recording (probably vodka) and by the time I came to sing the lyrics I was quite pissed and you can hear that fairly clearly. It certainly sounds to me that I was more drunk than I’ve ever been when recording my voice.


I stepped outside this evening to find the air full of moths. As I walked down the street hundreds brushed into me, some pausing on a part of my body, others simply bouncing along until they eventually regained their course.

I turned to a passing stranger and said, “Is this not a hindrance?”

“Sir,” he replied, “it was just so that night. The night Claudia left me. We had quarreled. I had vilified her mother, she had lost her temper and had stormed out of the house. I just let her go. Then I realised what it meant for me – to be alone like that. I ran out into the street, but it was just like this – thousands of moths – as I ran I swallowed them, they got in my eyes, even up my nose. I tore at them, I was completely lost in what seemed like a blizzard of moths. And I never found her. I’ve searched in all the cities of the world – nay in every town almost. I let her go. I was mad. And now it’s like that evening again – all these moths. Just like it was then.”

And he walked off into the night – leaving me as I stood there, pensively on the pavement, slowly picking the moths from my hair.

5 Dead Songs