March 21st. Something of a blogging fulcrum (which sounds like a fruity insult – ‘a rich epithet’, as an elderly neighbour of ours referenced last week, in relation to a phrase which had fallen from her lips), by which is meant for as long as this blog has been alive, there’s been something to say about this date. Tom Waits Day, I’ve previously styled it. The calendar’d context of A Town With No Cheer, with its hummingbird trapped in a closed-down shoe store – remaining for me one of the great lyrics ever penned. Today, this year’s version, is blinding in a miserable March 21st… or, otherwise put, it’s well-lit.

On a beach – our favourite of that region – in North Wales, there’s a moment in the pre-storm when I look up from the interesting branches, and find that in all directions there are no people to be seen. I am entirely alone. Whether this is the weather, or the final weekend of the rugby, I don’t know. But not a single dog-walker, no walking dog. A train goes by behind me, my new ears makes a stranger of the sound.

I continue beachcombing, foraging for fascinating pieces, and I realise that I am completely, thrillingly, everlastingly-in-this-moment happy. I want to do this forever. Sometimes the wind just stops. The sun appears. My phone dies, which, but for the loss of its camera, I don’t mind. B. will reappear from the West Shore. Our friends live just over… there.

Before the phone rolls a six I get a snapshot of the skies. Between then and now I push further into Inky Conditions, readying the project and myself for a first exhibition of sorts. And today – this blinding (sun-in, sun-out) March 21st, I free a newly-rusted cycle from the pile of bikes in our lean-to, and ride up to the big farm; talking to the horses as I walk the last of the hill.

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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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