In Wisteria

In wisteria
The air is trying to breathe
Morning is tangled.

I wanted to capture in some way the knowingness of wisteria. Hints in its name. Wistful hysteria. A social climber climbing when your back is turned. How in bloom it can’t resist the camera’s eye, yet won’t be caught: both amorphous and self-aware. Hanging around old houses; of the age, the East. In May’s green rain looking in at me, knowing that I’m home. Sucking the air, upwards.

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Fine Rain

Another 5am start. B. to NYC. Fine rain (fine, rain) sets in
I light a candle, tobacco-scented, blow it out
The wisteria in bloom looks like a round of applause
Pick a year and invite the Then Me, ask me anything

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The Clearout at the End of the Notebook

Rationalising the contents of the little brick sheds. In the opening scenes, a Tennents Lager ashtray hits me soundly on the head. Slapstick or hospital drama. There are boxes on boxes of old branded glassware: some for brands which barely saw the Light; others for beers now handed over, handed on, and handed on. Jeez, I kept a lot of stuff from the job. Mice have been at mostly everything. I do not mind the nibbling; the confetti they’ve made of my memories – but the invisible piss that’d doubtless soaked into it all, I could pass on. A pile grows in the yard where in time I’ll reverse up the truck. Waiting to be loaded for the long ride to the tip. God, I hung on to some crap. A sweetly boxed kit for growing a bonsai is spared. I’ll give it a go and it will be a miracle if it comes to anything. It’s twenty years old before it’s even begun. Has its ki perished? Data cables and connectors from a past life, far planet, dead star, writhe grotesquely in a bag from a bookshop that doesn’t exist. Keys, ridiculously, from a company car; long and green, long gone. Over-complex technologies on the sudden cusp of usefulness. Binned. The council refuse centre is busy with men – for they are all men – bringing and receiving and pointing at various graves. Which they fill. Full.

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Rhubarb for the People

I was planning a post about re-joining our local library – and what I found in there – but I’m gonna knock that over into the next one. Because mainly here’s a thing I made called Rhubarb for the People. Rhubarb’s been on my mind a lot lately. From the fields at the edge of East Ardsley – the triangle, famous, up north – to the gin that’s steeping in a shaded spot at my feet as I write; to the talking with Mum about crumble. I dreamed the line. I think it will become something bigger. For now, part drawing-for-lino, part doodling on the tablet and then more. I like its ‘Ex Libris’ quality; it’s sense of mission statement; the cover of a book found in a small village library…

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Fox and Coffee

Third linocut. Worked at this one at some pace, drawing directly onto the lino, which suited me better, I think. Took a few goes to get the inking right, and even then, it’s not quite done the job for the textures I put on his head, but I’d kind of cleared up already. It’s a non-working day, so I have a list this long. But I do really like how he’s integrated with the coffee pot and mug. I figure foxes – some, at least – must have a thing for coffee. With the planning and the cunning and the up-all-night and all. And I like that the clouds or the flowers above come out like little coffee ghosts too: coffee in my clouds, naturally…

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Come up ten years, is, at this house and last night at just after midnight I saw the first fox I ever saw in the street there. Young one. All lithe and limber, springy. Black socks, high ears. Up over the bridge right at us, then followed the pavement where it bends around and away. I texted B., though it was late, and she got that in the morning when she woke in London anyway. A trotty fox message, I think, is a nice thing to wake up to.

Whizz Cats come again. I was drawing in the afternoon and they emerged in the big drawing book I use sometimes, with the pens from B.’s sister. Stretchy long, wild and whizzy cats, some fearsome unpredictable. All reacting to something in their galaxies and in their whizzy ways. There’s a picture, here – below, you know.

New cat in the garden here and hereabouts, a new visitor one. Black and broad of face and neck, and with a lurvly curve to his sitting-down back, although he’s a clumper and a thumper if ever there was or were. Fighter too. Bless, he’s all sweet on Catfayce, our more resident visitor. He’s not the first. Pumpkin Head chased her for weeks and he’s now scrapping with the new big cat, daily, who is as yet unnamed as is evident. I don’t mind him being about, big old clumping and piddling, long as he don’t pooping on the grass. And it’s nice he’s in love. I wonder if he lives anywhere in particulars.

Ongoing story with B. about an unsociable mouse. I made notes of how the story’s unfolding with a view to writing in full – so many illustrations, obv. Bargaining for bacon; Leaving the party early (with party food); Wotsits in bed (just the one); Colouring-in books; Drawing a self-portrait to send in for the Countryfile competition; Eating a meatball; Being serene.

He’s unnamed as yet.

Continuing to speak of the unnamed: in writing, I’m into Part 3 of Understand Me (‘a story of a life’s intimacies, vaguely shared in some detail’). She, the narrator of a life, is still without a name, though the cast of very-named persons is growing around her. Started this over a year ago; my morning writing. Its two main threads are: 1) Depeche Mode, and 2) Talking cats. There’s a funny bit I like where a neighbour has a cat called Vince, which she just assumes is short for Vincent Van Gogh. Like his friends ever called him Vince. I made a note last night about being actually excited about two new characters introduced, now that she’s got a job.

It’s important to be excited by something. Like the first little fox. Or cats going off like whizzfangles. Love. Or a cheesy Wotsit.

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Tom Waits Day, Again…

Colder and brighter, and I think I preferred yesterday’s rain. Rain sends the weather presenters into a rehearsed grump, briefed as they are to hero the tedious slab of a sunshine that’s not logically, hemispherically, ours – to pout at a downpour and fake-news themselves as living in a beach hut. Once you recognise this it’s kind of fun to observe. Still, there’s weather to be had, and that’s a whole heap of what today’s about. It’s a later start because we didn’t sleep well. B. calls me (safely) from her car to say she’s just driven past fields of lambs smiling into the sun. There was a gap in the hedge, and I know the place she means.

I’ve had to change my ringtone and increase its volume spectacularly as I just keep missing calls. The tinnitus is now stereo. The new ringtone sounds very like the playout section from Japan’s Gentlemen Take Polaroids – the title track, that is, and I now risk missing calls by listening to it and adding in my own David Sylvian humming. There’s another bit on this album – a singular incident – which sounds exactly like the doorbell at my parents’ house; so that whenever I listened to the record I’d be up and off at the same point every single time.

On Thursday we’ll say our goodbyes to a special man. An uncle who lived a quiet life but still had, and still has, a huge influence on those around him.

I often imagine one dynamic of this morning’s low, bright sunlight is to boost rogue hairs into sudden and prolific phototropic growth. I mean the unfortunate hairs that happen to men of (coughs) my age; generally and unfairly around the ear area. But I think it’s just that this kitchen mirror is bang in the worst of the light in the east – whereas, with daft irony, our bathroom mirrors skulk in a mendacious gloom. That old workplace joke – did you get dressed in the dark?

The nice or not-nice coming of Spring is marked also by the final bake of Pie Season. Positively, it’s a good bake, and both pies are up there with the best, which is a great way to bring it to an end. The key? Not over-filling. If anything, going very much under. There’s a motivational quote in here somewhere – an analogy of sorts; about not over-filling something – or maybe about leaving room. Space. In your life. I don’t know. I’m happy to leave it at that.

Before the pie on Sunday I made a first ever lino-cut print. In both acts of making – the baking and the scraping – I liked working with my hands.

Forecast is turning cloudier; rain moving in from the west overnight. It’s Tom Waits Day because of the song, Town With No Cheer. Again – another year.


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