With the Birds

I was sitting in a little park – a shared garden area – just off Baker Street. It was a Saturday morning and I was waiting for my slot at the barbershop just around the corner. I was early. I sat on a bench and fed some birds, or likely just wafted crumbs in their general direction. A police officer walked the diagonal path across the gardens, and passing me, commented on the gathered tweeters. ‘You’re popular,’ said the PC. Then as they walked off, added: ‘with the birds.’ Funny thing is I’d got the joke already.




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Criminal Desires

Italian crime drama, Gomorrah. With Season 3 just newly devoured, it’s got me wanting, craving again the comedy antidote to those criminal core behaviours. The alternative, I mean, rather than an opposite; and real bathos, I mean, by comedy. See, ganglord? How not every declaration is crystal? I love the drama, of course, and the well-delivered types, the darkness. It’s the absence of rooted everydayness – the slightest capacity for standing in the wrong place, for a surprisingly squeaky voice from a dry throat – which becomes the loudest thing for me. Because this is so about me – watching pantomime villains with none of the panto. Ineptitude, doubt, self-consciousness and de-railing – the things that dreams aren’t made of.

I find myself watching Gomarrah through two pairs of eyes – one frowning, one upside-downing: impressed at how the confederates waiting to parlay (and slaughter) have arranged themselves into that horseshoe formation; not just themselves but their fancy cars too – whilst simultaneously I’m alight with comic fantasies concerning the moment someone in the brotherhood suggested how they should stand, and someone arguing petulantly otherwise. Unmentioned choreography in all its arch-campness. The car with the broken headlight, or annoyingly stuck on full beam.. ‘well I don’t know how to turn it off!’ Just anything, frankly, to illuminate the stumbling loveliness of realness. And, yes, because I have a problem with concrete-headed alpha types; brooding and, ultimately, passion.

Best part of half-a-dozen years ago, I wrote a thing here about EastEnders villains; specifically the long-gone character, Michael Moon. It’s nice to know that the observations and goose-pimples of a younger and undoubtedly gorgeous me still represent my case. That there is form in the criminal archetype, which having been seen – and loved – will always trouble my watching any such effort which fails to deliver the goods with the baddies.

Does the lightly, cleverly, comic version of Crime Drama exist?

I skim back through a notebook and I find scattered scratchings on the subject – even efforts to set up the premise. Or brief character profiles. The nightclub owner who only talk in metaphors and ever-ready analogous scenarios. ‘Have you ever listened to a harpsichord?’, he languidly asks, when the copper rocks up. ‘No,’ says the beak, ‘and put a sock in it, cos you’re under arrest.’ Why do crime lords presume they can engage with a windy snippet of culture; assume to be understood? Yes, I have issues with authority, criminal or otherwise. The desire to subvert is funny and strong. And I’m going to start staking it out.


Link to 2012’s Michael Moon piece, here.

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About the new streetlights, the instinct is strong to refer to a ‘they’ who’ve made the changes. A Larkin mindset: world, unseen or in shadows, of clerks and cabinets. But that ‘they’ is gone, replaced by something glaring and tough, unbothered as wolves.
Ours is a light that stays on when others succumb to a scheme between midnight and dawn. I wasn’t here to see the changeover. Orange glow is now (with idiot irony) an all-new European white-light. Robot-silver cars and pillow-eyed neighbours waking to dreams of snow, and no school.
Fox is now wolf.

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Sourdough Bread with INKY CONDITIONS…!

Ah! when your making-worlds collide…! Too much fun.

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Hearing About Recruitment

Mum has a stainless steel teapot. A chubby post-war effort (the teapot, I mean) from the Ministry of Canteen Design. She lets the hinged lid fall shut – always – and I jump out of my skin; doubly put-out that we don’t cuss in that house. B. sneezes, unable to give me fair warning, and I all-but muddy my undies. A colleague with a kazoo for a voice is insistent on making several points close-up, and it’s like there’s a drill in my skull.
Oh, poor flower. But by god it’s good to have a name for it. An explanation for these ears.

The doctor I’m referred to from a previous referral, tells me about recruitment. It’s an odd moniker, quite sweetly anthropomorphic. (Side note: it’s nice to realise the last two words I’ve had to look-up are kazoo and anthropomorphic.) Recruitment, as I understand it, is termed precisely because helpful, healthy hair cells are recruited by the brain at times when neighbouring hair cells can’t cut it. The latter being the damaged ones responsible for the frequency or pitch range where the hearing loss is. (You’ll forgive my clumsy and swap-out-able terminologies; this isn’t a medical blog, but rather my way of understanding, transcribing what I’ve read, into my language.) So when sudden – in my case – high frequency sounds occur, the healthy hair cells nearby step up to deal with the issue, thereby multiplying my perception of the sound – as these hair cells are functioning within both their normal band AND the band they’ve been recruited into.
Softly spoken gratitude at this point, to the well-put words of Neil Bauman, whose post I’ve borrowed respectfully from (recruited, if you will, ho!) in that last line in particular. A link to his work is here.

Ahead of hearing aids being fitted – both to dampen and to re-train, to stand-down those lower, well-meaning hair cells – I’m being good to myself around this house and elsewhere: an ear-plug in that ear when baking trays are hurling themselves from the oven, when, further North, Mother’s mashing tea. A simple gesture which takes the edge off this newly-understood recruitment.

Still I return from driving with tinnitus sinistre at its shrieking best / worst. The aural equivalent of low-winter sun on the windshield…

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Putting Christmas back up the loft, into argumentative boxes. In the ensuing mental clarity (the rush of the roof’s air) a realisation that if people don’t know me then they cannot know me. Thus goes the gift with which I start a year of… this. My every thought-transfer water-marked. The black-dog’s-like sense of fear pricked-eared at the scent of fear, the ascent of fear. Rise up, chest out. Try again, paperboy. Between mumbled notes-to-self and a broadcast application for the post of village idiot. Betwixt eccentric and a menace. I’m working hard at something.


The first full working set of 120 pieces under the happy title of Anywhere Here Is Fine, with an all-new foreword, here…

and made make-it-real feel just a little more real, with an edited set of 50 for samples…

and a website up, ready and waiting…


And therefore, in summary, as the New Year happens…





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Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky

It might have been in Crouch End, it might’ve been in Camden. Either way, a pub on a work night. The very early nineties. Open mic, I heard a lovely lilting version of Elvis’s G.I. Blues. And then the same night I think, another type got up and sang a song by Lee Dorsey. I’m racking my forgetting-brains to remember. Point is it wasn’t Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky. Point is that whatever it was, it made me go find a secondhand cassette of Lee Dorsey’s Greatest Hits (the very same cover of this below..)

Sometimes I stand in the kitchen and I realise I’m about to finish washing this coffee pot. Or I might be going upstairs for something and therefore will reach a point where I turn around and come back down. A moment in time and space, identified. And I force the thought to my consciousness at moments like this. From this moment on, from now on, I inwardly say – everything will be different with me. That’s in my gift. That’s how I can make the most of human.
But then a fart might happen. Or a thought that’s much like a fart in its distracting proclivities. And I continue as I am.
Lately I’ve aligned, somehow – perhaps with the intent of making it more robust, more appealing – my flighty lunge at conscious change (at being mindful, even), with the sharp-dressed resolve of Lee Dorsey in the song. From now on, he sings. From now on. Commits the decision to wax.
Gohn be funky, or just gohn be different. It’s the power of the moment retained and recorded and lived into rhythm. Just like how when I watched, pint clutched to my breast in a paint-spattered hand, those young men step onto the barely-there stage in a North London boozer – resolved, no doubt to one day (very soon) do the same.
But then did not.
How magically, and how funky, that the moment’s still here for the taking.


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