Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
« November 2008 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
The Inside of the Inside



The argument was conducted under wraps, under roofs, under cover of town and country, time and place – mainly by email, but often by clandestine exchange of notes between members of the audience at the weekly ‘Friday Night Is Music Night’ recording for the BBC Light Programme. 


Indeed, the argument had been going on for many years, spanning all manner of communication systems, such as Morse Code, Semaphore, via the gossiping of folks on the blower or press-button-A/press-button-B kiosks (whilst letting drop important sounding words or noises between the gossip, all of which spelt out the intrinsic message), envelopes taken on horseback as well as by the more normal Royal Mail vans, telegrams, telex, smoke signals learned parrot fashion from the Sioux Indian, sign language, uncouth gestures in public gatherings such as football matches or pop music gigs, tell-tale coughs and splutters picked up by the Radio Three microphones between movements at classical music concerts, children surreptitiously passing ink-blotted notes between desks whilst the teacher turned a blind eye to their mischievous faces fully giving the game away, tin canisters zipping along high wires in department stores between counters and cash desks bearing handwritten messages as well as invoices and coins, sweethearts exchanging billets doux with strange words out of context amid their amorous ravings … and, then, of course, messages could be passed without even the people involved knowing they were messages: like the hidden patterns in the movement of crowds, windows opening, windows shutting, chimneys giving off smoke from nursery fires where the children watched armies of red sparks marching up the sooty backdrop of their world, traffic stalling, traffic backfiring, traffic policemen waving arms to direct the snarling vehicles of the town as they crisscrossed the gridworks of routes in telling, remorselessly random patterns of journey…


No end to the various means of conducting the argument, therefore.  But what was the argument – constituted of all these messages through time and place – and who was arguing with whom?  The crowd was slowly, methodically, patiently queuing up for the BBC’s ‘Friday Night Is Music Night’ in the Golder’s Green Empire.  I forget if the theatre was called the Empire, because time often interposes obstacles to memory now and again, because a message delivered too easily is often not a message at all.  Each message was equivalent to a word in a sentence, though these messages often contained more or less than simply a word.  Often just a letter.  Sometimes a string of meanings that, together, had very little meaning … unless joined luckily with another message that gave it a context of new and crystal clear meaning.  Two messages together made sense, then, whilst each on its own was complete nonsense.


The queue of people snaked round the streets of North London as a gold and purple sunset crusted the rooftops and chimneys and TV aerials with a ghostliness that few of the people in the queue would ever forget, even though they did not even try to remember it, because by being ordinary people, they did not have the worry of noticing the beauty around them.  They rarely looked up from their feet. 


So the question remained.  What was the argument?  Who were the insiders that realised that it was being argued out at all amid the apparently haphazard footprints of the queue as they slowly vanished inside the theatre via the rusty turnstile of the inscrutable ticket-keeper?  And were there insiders within the insiders?  And inside of the inside: those who knew that time and place were huge signifiers at the core of the argument being conducted by the message and the messenger?


I was in that queue.  I knew I had to be there so that I could seek out the inside of its winding crocodile of pink and black humanity.  A line of people could have a centre of gravity just as much as a mass or crowd of people gathering into the shape of an audience that was once a queue.  They do say proverbially an audience was always once a queue. I stared at my neighbour behind me in the queue. A father with his daughter?  I then turned to watch my other neighbour in front.  This was a professional queue maker by the look of him.  A one-man band of facilities: chemical toilet, blanket tent, thermos and comestibles.  He smiled.  But I knew he was not on the true inside of the queue, not the pukka core of the queue.  The way he looked at me – quizzically – made me wonder if he thought *I* was the ultimate queue maker. The insider that all bogus insiders yearned  to become.


Meanwhile, the queue continued its lethargic course, because nobody was heated enough to fasten the pace of its argument.  Nobody was there, I felt, to hear the concert of Light Music waiting to tinkle out its notes inside.  They were simply there to form the queue.  Their eventual emergence as a full-blooded audience was merely secondary.


I then abruptly noticed a sad-faced woman on the other side of the one-man band.  Someone who stared past this one-man band – in fact she ignored the strident busker that the one-man band had suddenly become so as to entertain the queue with his music, entertaining the queue from *within* the queue.  She not only stared past the one-man band’s flashing tambourine, but also past my own unfamiliar face … towards the man with the little girl.  All three, the man with the little girl, the little girl herself and this woman had tears sparkling in their eyes, connecting them by a message far more meaningful than any language of words that arguers could possibly use to outflank each side of their argument. 


We all vanished into the Empire … but not before noticing, in my case, that a few puffs of smoke from a nearby chimney veiled the darkening sunset.  A few birds sat on a washing line like crotchets.  It was Friday night.






Posted by wordonymous at 7:42 AM EST
Post Comment | Permalink
The Egg-Tamer of Jullipbar



Jullipbar wasn’t an alien planet as such, because it was where we lived.  We called it home.  Everywhere else was alien to us.  All the sparkling specks or unidinentified flying pods were potentially where you or your kind lived – or possibly lived, because you couldn’t live everywhere.

Jullipbar could almost be called a terrain of unrelieved sameness, interspersed with lakes and sea.  An archipelago with blueness silting into every corner.  A beautiful feathery light shafting at all angles from a single source above. An outdoor cathedral of some quite stunning picture postcard over-the-top lack of distinction. Except, of course, when the weather was bad.  But we tend to forget about those things.  We enjoy sameness.  And, thankfully, our memories are short.  We live for the moment.

            Today I’m an egg-tamer.  Just to fill in a brief background, I am of an untidy gender.  I go without being seen.  I come with as little fuss as possible.  I enjoy picking fights with challenges, because that gives contours to the day.  You, being a visitor, are one such challenge: a visitor who, although merely arrived in spirit instead of in a bodily state, surely represents a circumstance which, of course, stems from your chicken-livered soul being reluctant to embark upon the risk of vehicular travel, bearing in mind the troubled times that beset us all, alien or otherwise.

            My story, sadly, is briefer even than that background.  Well, we have no time for stories in Jullipbar.  Real life takes us so much time, all of it in fact.  We don’t really know what stories are, their concept or their wherewithal: we fail to find fiction anywhere; or drama; or spectacle; or even sound adventures masquerading as music.  So let’s finish there.  Hope you enjoyed your trip.  You can go back now along the psychic funnel you smoked out with your mind power; back home to that alien home that you call normality.

            Hope you enjoyed a glimpse of my current occupation.  Egg-taming.  Here is a chicken with all its breasty members complete, tousled feathers ripe for the plucking, in a state that you would call dead; dead still; blind poultry; eyelids scaled over with yellow scum; wrinkled skin slowly … ever so slowly … hardening, crystallisng as you watch … even more slowly curving out into surfaces its previous nodular form could not possibly have predisposed; limbs cracking back into the smooth mounds of grit; the wishbone sinking into a mucus centre where the yellow scum has setled; and at this stage the new form begins to move, ever so slightly at first, each twitch of the crisp sheen becoming more and more violent…

            And, yes, I take my top whip and lay into its blantantly aggressive manoeuvres towards me … as if it seeks to smash me in the eye; my eye being the nearest state to its now own chickenless state…  making me an egg-tamer … an egg-tamer of Jullipbar.

            But you’d gone before you saw all this, if you were ever here at all.  Even mind travel can be dangerous.  Hope you made it back, without too much synaptic wastage.  Home sweet home for at least someone. The blue archipelago of Jullipbar as ever threatened with alien pods, worse than any weather.  Hatching plots forever. Breakfast seems too far away to matter…

Posted by wordonymous at 7:37 AM EST
Post Comment | Permalink
The War Years



The War Years were weeks on end of challenge and response.  Civilisation ever progresses through such series of challenges and responses.  Many feel they want to forget those weeks on end, leading to months slipping into months, years fighting back the years … until we or they or you could gather in the harvest of the present – as days topple into the future, we hope, interminably.  Death is the only battle the years cannot join.  But between who and who?





“Hey!” shouts Tom, in one such challenge to the day.


The day did not respond.  The day was fighting back the tears.


Silence stared cruelly from the mirror straight into his cold eyes.  Tom was 80 odd.  An even number, a round number.  Years that had come full circle and met head on.  He suddenly saw the warmth of the child in the eyes looking back at him.  Rita had left him at the age of 70, his age of 70.  Her round of years had misjudged the pitch and she had never reached last base, after swinging the bat at a seemingly empty ball.  The true ball had indeed made a ricochet with a tree and ended up in the nettles, full solid foul.  The flowers the nettles hid were its nest for a million nights to come, or were they the ghosts of flowers re-seeding the past with mulch?  Meantime the future grew drier and drier.  Arid shades that shifted above the grave that Tom never visited.


“What’s up?” Tom rejoined the battle with silence.  He recalled the war years, the blitz bombers and the wayward doodlebugs.  He’d been a child then, one eager to tap the novelty of Air Raids and Rations.  His own grandfather was the mirror image of Tom today.  Tom today.  That was a name to conjure with.  Tom Then was just a thumbprint on a window pane soon to be shattered by shrapnel, as Tom and his cousins used the Andersen Shelter as a focal point in their games of hide and seek.  Tom Will Be melted in the heat of sunspots that rained down instead of bombs.  The years were struggling against the global warming of newer, brasher years; scorched acres of time that relished the sandstorms which engendered them.  Those pepperings of stingbombs from air’s last base.


Meantime, Tom listened out for Rita’s response. Greenless mean time.


Tom’s pasty yellow face was plastered to the glass like a poster advertising illness as a way of avoiding conscription.  He pointed his finger.  Tom Today was again Tom Then.  The future needs you. 


One cousin they had never found.  Counted to one million, and then the others scattered off to search in tree and town and country and sea.  Perhaps the cousin had never existed in the first place.  A shade herself scuttling to hide in whatever shelter could be provided against time’s stuttering bombardment.  Counted to one million years. “I’m coming, I’m coming, ready or not…”


Rita hid, she thought, in the undergrowth.  But it was only thought, after all.  She was merely a stitched globe with porous stuffing.  The game was over.  No mirrors are spherical on the outside.  But if a mirror is spherical on the inside, the reflected image it throws can ricochet for a tandem of eternities.


“Let me catch you up!” screamed Tom Today.


But he never could.  Tom Then ever heading towards last base, blindfold’s last run.  Pin the tail on the Donkey’s Years…





Sadly there is none.


Posted by wordonymous at 7:03 AM EST
Post Comment | Permalink



There’s more to life than a Stoker.  Stiff keys, for example.


Charles – a sad case of someone who believed the past actually existed as portrayed by History – saw fit to employ several time-serving servants: some of whom were actually men and women crawling along Charles’ back passages; stoking the coal fires from the rear of such seats of combustible power. 


Clank!  As a chimney-wall slid aside and a tentative poker prodded forth to stick air pockets into the back-doubles of black cobbled mounds for fire to breathe easily … and crisp and crackle in the heart-warming warmth of Charles’ living spaces. Clank was more a creak or croak of rust-corroded metal than clank – as light was pushed into slots of age-old, mould-kissed sidearms of the house’s dilapidations.


“Hey, I can’t open the back entrance,” suddenly announced – in entrancing vowels of speakeasy back-scratching – a servant of some standing called Clive.  Clive was a servant who was not expected to stoke or poke, but actually oil the tumblers of life’s strange reality.  He was respected as a house-mover.  The clock-maker that started time ticking.  The First Mover, in fact.  Clive was nothing, though, without Charles to serve.  Charles was Clive’s Creation.  Every Creator needed a Creation to boast of.


“Have you tried every bunch?” asked another servant of more downward tendencies.  A bog-borer, of hirsute face and threadable torso.  Charles, however – with fellow servants at every quarter – needed not even to speak in answer.  Charles employed servants to talk among themselves, debating unissued orders and extrapolated duties.


A bunch of keys was a bunch of keys.  They were identical.  The downward servant – of nameless mien – knew this fact at the deepest unstokeable parts of his soul.  If there were more than one bunch, any loss would be worse than misunderstanding.  And the worst fate of any community – be it the servile or masterful area of jurisdiction – was misunderstanding.  A loss for words is like not being able to unlock truth itself.  Negatives cancelled each other out rather than preen and roost upon false beams of logic.


Clive shrugged, so that Charles did not need to.


Even verbs were servants’ business.  Stoking the story till it goes out – prematurely?  The key to its mystery missing.

Posted by wordonymous at 7:00 AM EST
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 3 November 2008
Hailing Helene






‘Look at this way,’ said Carol. ‘How many among our circle can honestly say that a world-famous actor has seen our tits? You should feel proud.

            ‘It was embarrassing,’ said Helene.

            ‘You’ve told me that. But what you haven’t said is… what does he look like in the flesh. Face lift?’

            ‘He’s only thirty-seven!’

            ‘But a world-famous actor,’ Carol reminded her.

            Helene smiled. There was absolutely no point in declining to humour Carol. ‘I saw no evidence of a face lift,’ she said. ‘He smelt of tanning lotion. Can I have one of those?’

            ‘Help yourself.’

            Helene reached for the smokes on the coffee table. She lit it up.

            Carol was still pontificating on the coincidence. ‘Of all the tits on that beach… which was how many, do you think?’

            ‘Pairs or individuals?’ asked Helene.

            ‘A thousand? Two? He came to you, Helene. You had a draw.’

            ‘I had a watch,’ Helene corrected. ‘He wanted to know the time, remember? He didn’t want to be late to Communion.’

            ‘So that funny little quirk of yours paid off.’

            ‘It’s not a quirk. It was Mike’s watch. I never take it off.’

            ‘And that’s got nothing to do with wanting to show off your tan and your story when you get back from somewhere.’

            Mildly annoyed by the suggestion, Helene took her time exhaling a bridge of smoke up towards the expensive light fixtures. She noticed a tiny spider in the corner of the room. ‘If it was just a tan I was after I could have gone to the HeartLines Club. You know why I went.’


Tit-tock, tick-tot… Helene remembered his voice. It didn’t sound at all like the one he used on the screen, when he was that gigantic figure, looming. It was brittler, squeakier. On cinema walls he was a guttural guru that could brown-nut any female into bed.

            And as for being late to Communion… Communion with whom, she was bound to wonder. Or with what? Mike had always said that famous people didn’t exist at all except in the dreamed-of optima that their fans (as a force) brought into being with the strength of their admiration. Their fans created every bottom morsel of these beach-strutting beasts. Then again, Mike had always had too many words in his head. Often the wrong ones, too.

            A watch being a ‘quirk’, however, was not a settled issue.

            ‘Everyone wears watches,’ said Helene, as she watched the spider turn into a speck of shadow above the pelmet. ‘Why would he claim to use a watch as an excuse to get a closer look at my tits?’

             ‘It wasn’t just any watch, was it?’ said Carol. ‘It was Mike’s. The one he wore when he was killed. The one he was wearing when every damn bone in his body was broken. The one that’s still in one piece…’

            Helene couldn’t stand the memory. ‘You have the sensitivity of a baboon sometimes,’ she said.

            Carol shrugged. ‘So when are you seeing him again?’ she asked.

            Helene laughed. ‘You tell me. You’re the one thinks I’ve got a draw.’


The holiday in Greece had been over for four days; Helene’s apartment had welcomed her back with the mildly satisfied air of a pet left too long. When she’d punched in the security code and the computer had said, ‘Welcome back, Helene,’ she had thought that Charlie’s voice sounded surly. Well, so be it; she was entitled to carry on living her life. Wasn’t that what her friends had been telling her since the accident? You’ve got a life to lead…

The pampering had done Helene some good but in truth, not as much as she’d hoped; however, she’d known that staying in England on the anniversary of her husband’s car crash wasn’t an option. She had dreaded the phone calls. With the best will in the world her friends would have rung to make sure that she was okay. ‘How are you feeling?’ So she’d taken up the invitation of a cut-price deal, based on points earned on her credit card.

Meeting the actor Stuart Fox had been a bonus.

            The day after the encounter on the beach, Helene had returned to a spot as close as possible, with her towel, her small coolbox of sodas and cigarettes, her lotion, her paperbacks, her shades. The sea was noisier and more playful. She used a phone to send a ‘Wish You Were Here’ postcard to Carol, to Tina, to Beverley and Dot. She’d finished her paperback by mid-afternoon, and still there had been no sign of Stuart Fox.

            Even now she was unsure of what her motives had been. Why had she wanted him to come back to her to ask the time? She had sought no male company in the year since her bereavement, although the offers had been hers to take up; so why now, on the anniversary? It wasn’t for physical reasons, she was certain of that; it wasn’t a pair of hands or a mouth she longed for. Nor was she aware, particularly, of an emptiness to be filled. She was happy; or what passed for happy when you’d become an amputee.

            With her favourite part of the day approaching (the late Greek afternoon, a cooling relaxation of the sun’s rays, the prospect of cocktails before her hotel meal) she had tied on her pink bikini top. She had packed up her belongings, leaving the book in the sand for another reader or the tide to claim. She stood up.

            ‘Hello again,’ said the voice she had been waiting for.

            The voice had grown deeper overnight. The timbre carried echoes, in keeping with a small art cinema’s sound system, if not yet that of a gigantic amphitheatre … or of a vast auditorium where some films were projected on to curved screens, particularly in the old days of cinema-going which Helen’s mother once told her about – where couples went for the stolen kisses, rather than a religious following of the plot on the wall.

Fox’s multiplex muscles – within the skin sculpture that his swimsuit revealed – enticed her into a physical longing she hadn’t encountered since Mike’s death. She had endured months of nightmares … seeing Mike’s body painstakingly amputated piecemeal by black-masked surgeons who apparently tried to save his life when it was obvious he was dead: carefully removing the still ticking watch for the victim’s nearest and dearest. Every bone was shattered into thousands of comb-teeth. And such dreams had prevented Helene’s recuperation towards a normal life.

‘Been to Communion?’ Helene blurted out, regretting it almost immediately. She recalled Charlie’s voice on the computer. At least, with that, everything was pre-programmed and any gaffes could be blamed on bad servicing. Human interaction was accident-prone. She wished she still had her breasts on show; she wanted to believe that the actor had returned to find them again. What else was he here for?

She shrugged as she recalled all this – later told in an expurgated version for Carol, amid the spidery smoke of a coffee morning … and even recited it for Charlie, who was a useful sounding-board even though Helene knew computers couldn’t really follow stories told to it. Charlie even made a mess of answering doors and often mistook her arms (and other parts of her body) for things they weren’t. It was all in the tickertape the printer spewed forth even when Charlie wasn’t switched on. Words she’d rather do without.

‘No, the priest has had an accident, and they couldn’t get a late replacement,’ answered Fox. He smiled the most gorgeous smile, as if he had waylaid the priest himself, simply to lengthen the time available that day for titwatch. ‘Would you care to dine with me?’ he asked.

Surprising herself, Helene said, ‘I would.’


Late into the night, she was awoken by a dream in which a squirrel berated her for displaying her assets too gladly; as he did so, he chewed patiently on a telephone cord. The squirrel strolled to the minibar with a disapproving frown on his face: they were in her hotel room. The lights were emitting the soft scents of cologne and orange peel.

            Naked, Fox was standing at the window. He had left her side to answer his mobile phone. Moonlight did even better things to his physique than the sun did. He was like a statue, impeccably worked upon.

            ‘Sure, baby,’ she heard him say. A black elevator toppled, cable-cut, down the ladder of her spine. ‘In the morning. Sure.’

            Helene listened. She strove to be rational. What else had she expected? Undying love? A proposal of marriage? It was dinner, Helene, she told herself, and then a lonely time of skin and breaths. It was exercise.

            ‘And by the way, Leon’s full of rain,’ said Fox.

            Pulling the bedclothes up to the birthmark on her clavicle, Helene tried to understand this; to replace the key words with homophones. It was like a card-trick, played over and over, with the conjuror unable to retrieve the expected card. Helene felt thwarted and sleepy. Perhaps she could close…

            ‘Cheers. Ciao. Sayonara.’

            Fox snapped his mobile shut. The statue made it over to the bed.

            ‘You awake?’ it asked.

            ‘Yes. Who was that?’ A small voice; a begging voice.

            ‘My girlfriend. Are you angry?’

            ‘Why isn’t she here with you?’ asked Helene.

            ‘You are angry.’


            Fox sighed. ‘She’s filming in Finland: a comedy. “The Kung Fu Kings of Helsinki.” She’s working with Adam West. He used to play Batman.’

            ‘I don’t give a fuck what he used to play,’ said Helene, rolling over.

‘Don’t be like that.’ Fox wriggled back into bed. Schmoozed closer to her backbone and backside. ‘We’ve got a lovely thing going here…’

‘Oh, please…’ said Helene.

She heard him smile. ‘Where were we?’ he wanted to know.

‘I was asleep and you were just leaving.’

‘I’ve just arrived,’ said Stuart Fox.


It was Thursday – the day on which the women got together. They called it the weekly hen party, and this time it was Dot who had booked the restaurant. It was called ‘The Angel Spike’ and it was busy to the point of discomfort. It was noisy and it smelt of fairy-tales. A great sea view, though.

            Helene wanted to talk about Fox. She wanted to confess, even though – rarely and unusually – only she and Carol and Dot had been able to make the appointment. Not that discussing a man was ever far from the agenda.

            In Helene’s experience, the hen parties were always about cock. The women laughed and shouted till the barstaff started flicking the lights on and off – a subtle way of informing them that it was time to leave. Then they’d repair to either Dot’s or Helene’s place. Dot’s two men, her husband, Frank, and her toddler son, Jimbo, were very understanding. Helene’s Charlie always kept a stern ear on the proceedings, and informed them softly if their decibelage was becoming a problem that the neighbours would notify her about in the morning. Only Carol’s other half, a lugubrious Swissman named Jack, was a party pooper. So they didn’t go there. They would talk into the early hours: this was the beauty of all being self-employed. A lie-in on Friday was acceptable. So they chatted until the broad dawn forsook its debt to night and waggled its central star – the sun – upon the unsteady horizon. They eventually tottered home, hoping they’d reach their beds to mask the sun’s promise of regret. Regret about the gallons of drink. Regret about the tawdry jokes. Regret, most of all, about the way their tongues had treated men. ‘Stuart Fox,’ Helene was saying, buoyed up by booze. ‘His best communion was not a pellet of bread amid the red wine… More a white tube.’

            The others screamed with laughter. Helene’s imagery was frightful, but quite acceptable amid the squawks and the phlegmish fizz they’d imbibed.

            ‘He was better than the best movie wall…’

            She’d meant moving wall. The ground had shifted beneath her. Sex had been a sonic boom, one that would have been no disgrace to the outset of a new war, a modern war, with weapons of sex and greed at its disposal.

            Then her words dried up. She was thinking of Mike. Not only had his watch survived the crash, but so, amazingly, had his car. His bone-shattered and bleeding body had been removed from the still perfect vehicle, all silver and chrome, with its unbent side mirrors, unbuckled wings, and unruptured tyres. Embedded in the central reservation, but more or less the same vehicle that had come off the production line.

            ‘Jackal find you,’ said Dot to Carol.

            A split second passed. Then Helene fielded the question. ‘What did you say, Dot?’

            ‘Jack’ll find her. If we don’t get our skates on, he’ll come looking.’

            ‘Oh, let him. I thought you said something about a jackal. And you’ve just reminded me of something else Fox said. Something about Leon being full of rain; I don’t think I imagined it.’

            ‘So?’ asked Carol.

            ‘Well, what’s it supposed to mean?’

            ‘Lyon is a town in France,’ said Dot.

            ‘I know. But why would he be saying that in the middle of the night to his girlfriend? And isn’t the phraseology a bit wonky? Why not “It’s raining in Leon”? How can a town be full of rain?’

            Carol shrugged. ‘You probably did a ‘jackal’ there. He said something else. You heard him wrong.’

            ‘I don’t think so.’

            ‘Dot’s right. It’s time for us to leave.’ They were at Helene’s apartment. When they’d gone, Helene looked out of the window. The sun was smeared all over the river and the refinery in the distance. Helene collapsed into a heap on the bed, recalling the things she’d said … and the things she’d thought to have said, and may well have said. The bedsprings creaked.

            The telephone rang.

            ‘Would you like me to get that for you?’ asked Charlie.

            ‘No, it’s okay. Hello?’

            ‘Hi. I hope it’s not too early for you,’ said the male voice.

            ‘No it’s fine. Stuart?


            ‘How did you…?’

            ‘Detective work, Helene. There aren’t too many people with the surname Incunabula.’

            ‘I suppose not. What do you want?’

            ‘To see you.’

            Helene snorted. ‘What would Missy say?’

            ‘We have an understanding.’

            ‘Well I don’t. I’m just about to go to bed, Stuart.’

            ‘Can I join you?’ he asked. ‘Just for cuddles.’

            When it came to cuddles, for Helene the word ‘just’ was inappropriate; they were easily as erotic as oral sex or dirty mumbles in her ear. But this wasn’t what struck Helene about Fox’s sentence. ‘Where are you?’ she asked.

            ‘Downstairs. Tail between my legs.’

             ‘They wouldn’t give you that information over the phone. How did you find me?’ She didn’t know if she felt frightened or cheap.

            ‘I took a look at your business card while you were sleeping. Sorry.’

            ‘You went through my bag?’ Helene sounded incredulous.

            ‘Guilty. Again,’ said Fox. ‘Can I?’


She’d never been the other woman before, or at least not to her knowledge, but Helene quickly learned that it wasn’t a bad state of affairs. Charlie admitted Stuart Fox and informed him that Helene could be found in the bedroom. She was: asleep. After a few hours, when she’d woken up and showered, she apologised for her bad manners.

            ‘It’s the greatest compliment you could have paid me,’ said Fox.

            ‘What was? Falling asleep?’

            ‘Shows you’re relaxed in my company.’

            Helene shrugged. ‘Well, that’s one way of looking at it, I suppose. You got undressed to join me in bed, I noticed.’

            ‘I was wearing Armani. They don’t make pyjamas.’

            ‘And you undressed me.’

            ‘Of course. You’d have been too hot. It’s like a sauna in here.’

            ‘I don’t like being cold.’

            ‘Were you cold?’ asked Fox.

            ‘No. It’s the presumption I don’t care for, Stuart.’ She was holding onto a sensation of having been wronged, but for the life of her she couldn’t locate the source of her discomfort. If anything, she felt flattered; not that she enjoyed admitting this to herself, however.

            ‘No. You didn’t feel cold to me either.’

            ‘Stuart, please…’ Helene couldn’t help but reflect her new boyfriend’s smile; it was contagious. ‘What do you want for breakfast?’ she asked.

            ‘Soft boiled eggs,’ Stuart replied.


That day Stuart made Helene feel like an adolescent, and gloriously so: clumsy in love, nervous. He took her somewhere she hadn’t been to in thirteen years: the zoo. They fell in love with the wolves. They chattered to the cockatiels; they petted the baa-lambs. They had coffee outside, in the rain.

            Towards the end of the afternoon, they shared a pizza in front of the fire. Watched the news. Had cigarettes. Made love in the Weather Room, Helene having chosen a Greek climate and scene from Charlie’s vast repertoire. She held him in her palm as he detumesced. She toyed with the crop circle of semen on her left hip with the forefinger of her free hand.

            ‘I have to make a phone call,’ Stuart announced suddenly.

            ‘To who?’ Helene couldn’t fight back the intonation of jealousy.

            ‘To Missy.’

            ‘I see. I thought you had an understanding.’

            ‘She worries.’

            ‘With good reason! How many other women are you climbing into bed with, Stuart. She worries? I worry!’

            ‘I love you, Helene; you don’t need to worry.’ With which Stuart stood up and returned to the bedroom. Helene felt cold.


            ‘Yes, Helene.’

            ‘More heat, please. And listen in on the call, would you?’

            ‘Certainly, Helene.’


Stuart had to fly back to Greece: he was filming tomorrow. As soon as he’d walked out of the door, Helene said, ‘The phone call, Charlie.’

            Static bloomed and bristled. Missy’s voice was all but indistinguishable, regardless of how high Helene turned up the volume. But Stuart’s voice was clearer, even if his meanings were lost.

            ‘It’s snowing in Elise,’ he had said. ‘Conditions are favourable in Patricia and Simone. Transmission ends.’

            ‘Charlie, did you see where he went?’ asked Helene.

            ‘He got into a taxi.’


            ‘It would seem so, Helene.’

            She paused. She already knew what she was going to say; she was thinking about a subtle way of putting it. She said, ‘Charlie? Charlie, if it ever came out that I asked you to do this I’d have to deny it. You understand that.’

            ‘Yes, Helene. You want to know where he went.’

            ‘Yes. Can you trace the route?’

            ‘Of course. It will take a few minutes.’ At which Charlie fell silent. The room yawned open to receive Helene’s breaths. Of a sudden, the apartment that she’d specifically chosen for its spaciousness and variety seemed cavernous; Helene wondered if she’d developed agoraphobia. Sure enough, her mind was in a muddle. With Stuart gone, Helene wondered who had actually come. With the ease of Charlie’s catch-all retention of the small matters in life, even ones he hadn’t witnessed for his electronic self, she thought she heard the computer say:

            <<Carol shrugged. ‘So when are you seeing him again?’ she asked.>>

            Not just the words Carol had spoken but the surrounding omniscience of someone who was still in charge of her life.

She shook her head. She needed some more sleep.

‘Helene?’ This was Charlie, but Charlie in realtime.

‘What have you got? Which terminal?’

‘He didn’t go to the airport, Helene…’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Quite sure,’ said Charlie. ‘I tapped into the HandyCabs banks. A driver called HD987 picked up a Mr Smith outside this building. The rearview cam logged his profile, Helene; it was Stuart Fox.’

‘And where did he go?’ Helene asked, not sure that she wanted to know. She was hugging her knees to her chest; she was sweating.


To chapel? thought Helene again and again on the journey. At this hour?

            Her thoughts turned unexpectedly to Mike. She recalled the mechanic who had inspected the crashed car with the wisdom of those who had knowledge in their hands and could mend anything, except here there had been nothing to mend. ‘It’s a miracle,’ he’d concluded.

            Helene had glanced into the vehicle. At the sight of her husband’s body, lacerated and torn – with pieces of bone now sprouting through the skin, and with one eye displaced and hanging by a spermy thread – she had begged to differ. I want his watch, she could remember thinking.

            And now? Was Stuart Fox playing Mike’s role… or vice versa? Tears came to Helene’s eyes as she watched a giant man-shape move on the inside wall of her head, like a distantly projected silhouette that wavered between a spider and smoke. Helene pulled her cigarettes from her bag.

            ‘No smoking, please,’ said the robot. Helene ignored the command. She wanted to go further still, she realised: she wanted to remove her top.

Sighing gently, she lit her cigarette and relished the taste.

            At the Church of St Nathaniel the Decisive, she disembarked. For his trouble and his ongoing silence, the driver was paid and handsomely overtipped. Clutching her bag into her armpit, Helene entered the church.

            Stuart’s first lie was immediately obvious. He was no more a punter, a parishioner, a worshipper, than she herself was. White-smocked, like a portrait artist of tourists, he was standing on the stage with a microphone in his hand. His face was fiery with passion and raised blood.

            ‘And ask yourselves, people, how much can your Jesus do for you!

            The congregation was about twenty-strong. Most of them had their heads bowed, and Helene – at the back – was reminded of sheep in line for a branding, or a slaughter. She could smell the fear. Unless it was adulation…

            ‘So open yourselves up!’ Stuart shouted. ‘Receive the visitors into your hearts! Come on, people! Show me your souls! Show me!

            What the hell is going on? thought Helene, stepping forward.

            Making a show of it, Stuart now pinched his temples with both hands. He was shaking his head. ‘I can still see bad weather inside some of you,’ he said. ‘And they won’t come down if they don’t see blue skies! Incorporate our friends. Let them in! Let ‘em in, people! The sooner, the better…’

            Helene felt sick.

            Stuart noticed her in the aisle. With a leer that had been born as a grin, he pointed. That long, slender finger had touched her skin; parted her lips and tasted her tongue. That long slender finger had unfolded her leaves and played inside her body. Helene felt worse.

            ‘And you, Helene!’ Fox roared. ‘There is hail inside you! Calm your skies. Join the welcoming committee! Rejoice!’

            The scene was cast like a sunset inside Mike.

            Had he welcomed someone into his broken china pieces? Had they spooned him from the undented car, full of hope for a new beginning?

            ‘Join us!’

            Several of the congregation had looked up. Some were nodding their heads, as if fearful of speaking out of turn but keen to impart the wisdom of full compliance. Join who? Helene wondered.

            ‘I’m only the first,’ Stuart said. ‘The missionary, the pioneer!

            ‘I’m going home,’ said Helene.

            ‘No you’re not!’ Stuart Fox promised. ‘Your temperature’s rising.’

            The air inside the chapel was confused. Eddies of electricity were now crackling, visible only as heat haze, as distortion. A multi-coloured Jesus in a sari, window-bound, was writhing in the haze like a limbo dancer, warming up. Prayer books were flapping in the gale that was picking up from the direction of the stage. Stuart was still grinning.

            ‘Your hail is melting! You are learning to accept!’

            ‘It’s not true,’ said Helene, childlike, birdlike… Murmurs and rumbles,  not of the congregation’s making, could now be heard; all around the building, the walls were alive with images of flames. Rabbits looking peaceful bounded joyfully, although their ears were ablaze. Squirrels chatted to acorns that resembled cartoon bombs: the black ball, the fizzling string.

            ‘Admire me, love me,’ said Stuart, leaning backwards.

            The breaking of eye contact was all that Helene needed. Turning on her back foot, she made a break for the door. She hoped that she’d asked the taxi driver to remain where he was. She couldn’t remember. Her internal organs felt feverish; at first she assumed that she badly needed the bathroom.

            ‘You’ll be back!’ Stuart shouted. ‘People, they always come back…’

            Helene flung open the door.

            ‘Let us pray,’ said Stuart. Helene imagined him bowing his head. Outside, the driver had gone and the sun was now packing a wallop. She didn’t know what felt worse: having escaped and now being ignored, or the thought that being loved was a true and fresh mystery each time.

            She consulted her watch. As if that had anything to say.

Posted by wordonymous at 6:25 AM EST
Post Comment | Permalink
Unread Story


Posted by wordonymous at 6:22 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2012 3:31 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Three Suns For Yesterday



DF Lewis & Jeff Holland

<P>EVENTUALLY TO BE PUBLISHED IN A COLLECTION OF DFL COLLABORATIONS: <A href="http://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/long-term-project-to-find-an-independent-publisher-for-a-selection-of-my-collaborations-from-yesteryear/" data-mce-href="http://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/long-term-project-to-find-an-independent-publisher-for-a-selection-of-my-collaborations-from-yesteryear/">http://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/long-term-project-to-find-an-independent-publisher-for-a-selection-of-my-collaborations-from-yesteryear/</A> (26 Sep 12)</P></FONT></o:p></SPAN>

Posted by wordonymous at 5:46 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2012 6:00 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 2 November 2008
'Odalisque' by PF Jeffery (DFL's commnts)

Chapter 17 - Whorlets


Some interesting explanation regarding the menorhythmic properties of red swill as a foodstuff, with time itself speeding up then slowing again after this passage:


After – I think – my fourth period at the Laughing Phallus, Madame Scurf made another trip to market, returning with a fresh batch of whores.  A heat wave was rendering our work stickier and more uncomfortable than ever.  The passage of weeks and months had dissolved into a blur, but to judge from the weather, it must have been after my twenty-fifth birthday, perhaps the end of Glarehaze or the beginning of Thunderhead. 


Tuerqui continues to learn that nothing lasts forever - and we are cleverly and subtly given the sense of human enjoyments and pains being part and parcel of some underlying rhythm beyond their control. Tuerqui has now dual poignant pining between the generations, too:


Tuerquelle, my mother and I were – in all probability – now three generations in Surrey slavery.  My daughter had never entirely left my thoughts, but concern for any member of my family inevitably led me to focus more strongly upon her.  The dull ache of separation was, at its lowest ebb, a numbness.  Now, the pain was sharper.


The artful 'Popper Jasper' footnote gives telling perspective (from a more distant future) to Tuerqui’s character: just another way of conveying the rhythms of time.


Another choice snippet:


A succession of the youthful vets – or trainee vets – continued to examine me every day, except while I was bleeding.  Presumably, had I contracted an infection, they would have noticed.  As Chillflurry progressed, my breasts became less uncomfortable.  This – following my period – came as a further relief, although the idea of pregnancy had been alluring as well as alarming.



On the whole, I prefer the ‘whorelets’ spelling to ‘whorlets’.  I was taken aback when I saw the Chapter heading, but I must admit I grew more accustomed with the repetition of ‘whorlets’ throughout the chapter.


I much prefer ‘loveable’ to ‘lovable’.


The eyes of the customers – and my fellow whores – upon me as I acted was a prospect that made my stomach churn.

Should that be ‘were’ not ‘was’?




Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.


 On this site, if you want to leave comments all you need do is type 'nospam' in confirm box and your name.


The links to all Chapter comments by me are here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2008/06/odalisque.html




Posted by: newdfl on 8/6/2008 11:27:42 AM , 1 comments

Submitted by Pet at 8/7/2008 5:33:33 AM

It's good, once more, to see quoted material new to the final stage of revision. It helps reassure me that late work on the novel was worthwhile.

On your queries, I've compromised on "whorlets" and "loveable". I've retained "whorlets" thus, but changed "lovable" to "loveable".

"Was" agrees in number with its object ("prospect"). It does not agree in number with its apparent subject -- "eyes". I suppose the beginning of the sentence actually means "The (prospect of the) eyes..." with the bracketted words understood, rather than stated. Indeed, without those words (or similar) understood, the sentence makes little sense. An eye is not a prospect! So -- "was" agrees in number with what the subject actually means. Whether I should have left the missing words understood, but not stated, is an open question.

Posted by wordonymous at 7:48 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 6 October 2008
Cerne Zoo
The chalk beast lifted itself from the hillside, curious as to how ordinary people could have managed to create mighty Stonehenge. And why.

Posted by wordonymous at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 October 2008 8:03 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
The Extra

                   THE EXTRA      

Published 'Black Mole' 1991


He went to the town because he’d heard they were shooting a horror film there and they would no doubt require several extras for the crowd scenes.  He thought his bent nose would stand him in good stead.


  The town lacked description. Although he knew that from all the guides, he was not ready for the churchless affair that presented itself. As he drove out of the November fogs into a crystal clear afternoon, what he noticed were the lines of  identical red brick maisonettes forming a geometrical grid that even a mathematician would find boring.  A social anthropologist might make an interesting study of what made the people tick who chose to live there but beyond that he with the bent nose could not hope to fathom.                         


      The film crews were nowhere to be seen. No arc lights had been erected, no touchy lead actress putting on airs and graces, no fat man with cigar sitting in a deckchair and, above all, no crowds milling about ready to fire the castle where the horrors were lurking.


Bent Nose parked his car in what looked like the nearest to a town centre.  There was a free car park (how could it be other than free?) but he decided to raw up close to a parade of shops under some penthouse flats.  Dusk was drawing in as he sprung the seat-belt.  He was about to open the car door where when he noticed, joy oh joy, there was indeed a pub and yes, despite the early hour appeared to be open, for tops of heads appeared to be milling about where the saloon bar windows lost their cross-hatching.


But this was peculiar. Pubs are not allowed to open for at least another hour, he said to himself.


A man evidently worse for wear at that point staggered from the western-style doors and slash-walked down the street with an incontinent pint of beer in his hand.  Seeing Bent Nose’s car, the face drew closer to the window and squashed its features into a joke mask.


Damn, the car wouldn’t start! And the piss-artist was fumbling at the door-handle!


Good grief, the man was violently thumping his head along the length of the car, giving Bent Nose a feeling that if this was a horror film, he wanted to get out of it and fast!


He looked across to the pub and all the local tipplers must have been standing on tiptoes to see from the tops of the saloon-bar windows, their faces pressed hard against the glass. And they all had bent noses








Posted by wordonymous at 8:44 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older