Thursday, 29 May 2014


Each man has the unalloyed right to be, at one time,
Or more, a scrambled, bedraggled, hedgeslept Jesus
This or that God knows that I took mine.

So back, so forth,
So much for that.

Born on the banks of the mad, maladjusted Straits;
A mess of medus, Marx, mumbles and moonshine
And purpled, rainworn slate,

I bawled, I suppose, to announce my arrival,
Screeching at and with life; crumpled of face, yelling tailtrod cat.
Awareness yet to fall.

Later, I assume
Still out of tune:

Salvation of sorts in four rusted strings, legs spayed, bass spitting ire;
Bloody fingered, bloody-eyed, bloody-brilliant
Sweatroaring to the choir.

A herniated, half-fried mash rabbleclack from nowhere to where
Half-bent in the head from household highs:
Winterland warriors forswear.

Closer, to heaven,
A cliché at eleven.

Jesus, I write, is the One True Light. The hymn is sung
Cathedral-echo, sanctity. Mankly festering
Unbeliever can crag-cawk also under silhouetted idols,

A dual solo with Watchbreaker Paul, all his heft, his frown
Of  hate reappropriated here. A miracle, an irony.
Sharp shards of treblevoice a piercing crown.

The appeal
None more real:

Marco, blessed Marco, 19, manfully striving,
Has his arms around my neck to fasten my chain.
He’s breathing fast and his eyes are flickering -

I wish I was. I’m older but he’s stronger, I now know,
In soul; questions everywhere, an atmospheromone brash
But I back out, it passes, he goes.


Debbie, 40, so she says, Kat-like, frizzled at the edges,
On MSN at 3am; unusual, I am, I love it backbody,
She computers late, rush-ready.

Merseyrailed and mohawked I alight to electro harrumph,
Disassociated, terrified, excited, grubby.
Suburban taxi brings amphetamine sleaze-triumph.

Believes me:

Lien, then, as we avoid a movie. Gin and sin, we giggle
Suddenly opposite the police station
There’s a field; it’s dark. We fumble and wriggle.

I can’t find it: I’m shaking and hammered. I roll off, roll a smoke
And toke myself away. There’s pride at sort-of,
More-or-less Becoming A Man. Meanwhiles, her knickers stink of puke.

So I pour
Just one more:

Jostling against an ossifying mundanity, I fill in the forms
And the idiots pass it through
And a month later, we’re still drunk, sodden, warm.

Thunderbird Blue, Lagerla, the Pure White Spirit of Russians,
Lager Girl, Cider Woman, Frosty Jack,
The notorious Four Litre Challenge.

Giro cheque
Not here yet.

Awaiting the delinquent sacrament of midnight’s clack
Nervous, scrawled, fuddled; surprised and frozen.
But in another universe I plunge and kiss you back

There, I don’t need to fire my face at the coming breeze, brine, sweat,
Pupils disrupted, mind ripping away the ages as I walk away.
But, ay, sweet truth that everyone deserves in life such a yearning regret.

A storm

Each line has its own rhythm, as snickled sweet snot dribbles
Neckwards, backwards, inside, upwards,
Re-electrified, laser-eyed, shouting at a skunksome sky in scribbles

Of weasly arrogance; more than alive, driving
Shards of spectacularly fleeting nuclear insight
Out of the world, into another magnesium moment: inverse, farcial-brave.

Time lost
To rank rust?

Each man knows the right, at one time, to be
Scrambled by God, by Jesus, to hedge and to mine.
To dragback a little more of this or that ill-logic amoral or free.

And now? Well, what now, and why now?
These tableaux of sweat and ridicule, fluid in imagination
And in deed. Knowledge is dead; a rank, deluded shallow.

Beyond accumulation, these lives are of as little meaning
As the fracture in time that dropped me here; no doubt
On other planets, if they exist, if this one exists, but fleeting

But here
And there

I link myself back to the faces in the wallpaper
Those forms and shapes and shadows in the drapes.
My child-eyes, terrified, identified, and my screams all were

Of from for the future: trapped, transparent, faces of wastrels and rats
Waiting for harridan lies to land. With deadly vicious beautiful gravity
Any god knows this; so stays silent of acts.

So it was, so it is
And so shall it be

And so much

For all that,

For all


Saturday, 24 May 2014

The rules of anticulturalism

there is no culture beyond the present

the anticulturalist stands outside himself

the anticulturist is the author of her own lives

gender is a lie

postmodernism is a surrealist art lie

data drowns dreams and this is beautifully inevitable

you do not deserve any more or less than you can conceive and this is beautiful too

all culture is born from appropriation and violence

arbitrary rules are made and broken in order for society to exist and perpetuate

money is the best and sexiest rape lie of all

worth is meaningless value is meaningless

god hates life

it is only theft if it is viewed by others

oblivion is the only true goal and the search for freedom from thought is prohibited by itself it can only be accidental or enforced

birth or death is not an art statement

our pets pity us

language is a joke of a liar

you did leave the oven on and your children are burnt to death

all art is real somewhere there is no such thing as abstraction just a lack of cameras

exploding the earth is the true and beautiful goal of humanity

perception is a lie

culture is death is dead is not pinnable is down

similies are pathetic

getting fucked is all that drives anyone

the ultimate and tragic achievement of humanity is the alarm clock

tomorrow is a convenient lie

memories are lies

nobody believes in nihilism

analysis is autopsy

words are ghosts

paranoia does not exist we are all being targeted all the time and this is fortunate for the perpetuation of anticulturalism

beware the hungry and the horny

revolution is doomed as soon as it is enacted

truth is bunk

Monday, 12 May 2014

A review of a band from 2004 (2004)

From The Fly

Liverpool Stanley Theatre

There’s a group of lads, around 16-18 years old, moshing jus’ like MTV, during Kennedy Soundtrack’s set. Violent and vehement, the cackling Carlsberg-fuelled roughhousing is as rambunctious as anything Johnny Knoxville ever did. In their dreams. As the seething limbflailers slam each other around this beat-gravid atmosphere, I notice a kid, no more than 13, and dressed down in a sorta mini-me mishmash of nu-metal off-the-peg punk-parsimony, buzzing round the outskirts of the scrimmage.

Whilst the Kennedys’ frontfukka Nic blunderbusses his lyrical way through 24/7, the kid jumps toward the middle of this lairy lot, straining to smackdown with the coolies. He gets an elbow in the head and dazedly kisses the floor. The band roar along regardless, with their Faith No More / RATM reshapings no more evident than on singles Killing Music and Wrong Day.

Brushed aside for a second, third, fourth time, the lad’s soon covered in stale lager and has fagends clinging to his clothes. By the time the Soundtrack leave the stage – after album title track Tale of 2 Cities – he surely must be bruised to buggery and back.

Punk fiends Unwritten Law jaunt their way onstage and produce a melodic threshing machine that’s part No Means No and part Lagwagon. Jump around! Jump around! Pogo! Here we go…

Undaunted by previous treatment, the kid dusts himself down as best he can and dives right back on in. And something strange happens. Suddenly he’s dictating the destruct-gang’s every dancemove. Having been dismissed, teethkicked, bashed and bollixed, his vitality, persistence and blood-battered visage have eventually lent him respec’, poise and status.
The smile as he hits the floor the next time is of triumph, and it hits me with some force that perhaps the kid understands the Music Industry better than all of us.

David Grohl, beardy good rock man (2008)

From The Fly

David Grohl, who has a beard, is quite clearly what you might call A Good Bloke. Never mind all that Nevermind whiny bollocks, his subsequent real band always were a proposition that took some of the friendlier riffs of the rockier side of Grunge and melded them with an unabashed love for classic rock and roll. What this means is that Foo Fighters are not just able but allow themselves to have fun.

Grohl’s popped up in the North a couplea times these last few days as it goes – initially, bouncing onto an Anfield stage alongside Paul McCartney to first fizz through a few riffs of Band On The Run alongside Macca, then to back him on the drumkit during Back In The USSR. The grin on Davey-boy’s face obviated any need for stagelights: it was obvious that a) in contrary to the famous Everton chant, someone in Anfield actually did know their history that night and b) that Grohl was transported back to something of a childhood fantasy. This is what it’s all about, he seemed to say, this rocks. And, of course, it did.

Around twenty hours later, The Grohlstar buzzed onto another enormo-stage forty-odd miles down the M62 for the Foos gig at the City Of Manchester Stadium. It is, beyond any question, a brill footy ground: sat in the main stand, the views were ace though as ever I wanted to dive from the top of the seats into the writhing, moshing throng lucky enough to have snagged standing tickets. Not to worry; the Foos have a set that’s suited to a place like this, and certainly their frontman has the personality and charm to fill it too. “We’re gonna rock!” he screams, “Til we can’t fuckin play no more!” (The exclamation marks are important; everything he says is punctuated with them.) 

He loves it: the crowd roar their approval and Grohl charges round the stage and into the midst of the audience via a walkway that reaches roughly the centre circle. There are drum solos, acoustic interludes, breakdowns in songs for the kids to sing and clap along, even a triangle solo and an extended meet-the-band bit that in the hands of anyone else would border on excruciating, even embarrassing. That it is actually engaging and smile-inducing is testament to the spirit running through the band and by definition therefore their driving force. 

“We’ve been going for twelve years (sic)!” Grohl informs the crowd. “We used to suck! But we’re fuckin good now!” He’s right on the latter part, at least. 

The enormous venue is reflected in the enormous ticket price, but with support from Futureheads and Manic Street Preachers that financial hit is assuaged a tad, and certainly the Foos’ crowd-pummelling triple-dip double-length hit-smashin extravaganza of a set is designed to try and give value for money.

It also shows one thing very clearly: that, in a very real way, there’s really nothing inherently wrong with being A Big Rock Star. And that the dictum is true that you should take what you do seriously, but never yourself.Something perhaps lost on some of his contemporaries back when the world was different and you were allowed to take as much liquid on board a plane as you liked. 

In the face of some of the current paranoia and disillusionment, suspicion and frenzied rush toward A New Bigotry, escapism and happiness are more important than ever they were and Grohl has always understood the power of a smile and One! More! Motherfuckin! Rockin! Song!

Hey! Ho! Let’s go!

At the Manchester Apollo (2008)

From The Fly
The Manchester Apollo is quite a building, and one that in all fairness has seen more than most of us over the years.

As with all old theatres, it has a kind of semi-faded glory and gravitas about it that seems to hint at the ghosts of shows past – narrow your eyes and you can almost sense the spirits music-hall performers at the periphery of your vision, unable or unwilling to quite leave the scene of their essence. Its grandeur allows it a special place in the hearts of those who head out to medium-to-largeish gigs, but a decent booking policy means also that it has the ability to really skip and jump with the prevailing winds.

Take last month or so as an example; it all began for me with a gig by Björk there. The last time I’d seen said Icelander was, boastfully enough, at the start of her Volta tour in 2007. It was a magical occasion at the end of a magical few days over in that magical country involving hair-raising aeroplane rides, fishing and houses named after entire cities, a lot of beer and contemplation of the infinite, shit-talking and devil-dancing in old fishing factories. That gig, at the Ice Hockey arena in Reykjavik, had been wonderful enough but somehow as the night ended I’d found myself putting White Russians on the credit card in a crazily-quiet bar at 4am along with her entire band and the woman herself nursing a lemonade across the bar.

 It was bizarre, and wonderful, and typically 101ish, and I almost missed my flight as a result but was gutted to find I did actually manage to leave the country. In Manc guise, however, Björk’s show was as inventive, challenging and wonderfully rave-centric as it has been for years. Whether shooting silk from her fingers or leading the band in proto-totem-dance, she filled the venue with a kind of blend of in-your-face intelligence and skewed-dream poetry.

It energised and reconciled, resplendent and resonant, political and personal. And as soon as a song labelled itself it would be discarded, or, better, morphed, into another shade of life in all it’s cocked-head, double-take alchemy. It’s hard to write about it without falling into flowery traps, which is why she’s so important. ‘Declare Independence,’ she finally urged, ‘Don’t let them do that to you.’ I used to think it was a track about the Faroe Islands secession from their Danish protectorate (and in a sense it is), but that’s not the whole story: it applies equally, I think, to the ebb and flow and final tide of a failing relationship, or maybe is a call to arms. To never stop dreaming, or looking, for the best in life, not to get bogged down by greyness but to believe in better and to find it on your own terms. Björk is punk rock personified, in the only sense that matters, and the venue filled with glitter to disprove it.

A few days later it was The Kooks’ turn to hit the Apollo, the Brighton poppers at an interesting stage of their still-nascent career. I’d once interviewed them in Ibiza, which was and still is something that makes me smile cause it was a crazy 36 hours that involved hardly any sleep for anyone, and getting up at midnight to go and have lunch before a gig in San Antonio that finished at 6am.

Ibiza rocked that weekend, for sure, and I managed to spend an hour giggling to myself, lying on a beach dipping my jammy Welsh toes in the clearest, bluest Mediterranean sea whilst I thought about how ludicrous life was sometimes. Back then, they were yet to release that debut album and it was such early days that they’d barely done a tour of the toilet circuit, let alone 2,000 capacity venues.

 It was, however, more than obvious that they were going to take off: the record company understood them and were backing them to the hilt with their support, for sure, but in that Manumission gig the charisma of the songs was gushingly playful despite some equipment problems. Three years and a new bass player later, and they bounce onto the Apollo stage grinning floppily to a crowd of youngsters for whom the Kooks are their first love; Naiive, She Moves In Her Own Way, Ooh La all setting off funbombs in the hearts of the crowd. Whether the new album, Konk, will ever have the same impact as that debut is uncertain, but those tracks capture a moment in the Kooks’ lives – as well as their audiences – when it really all was about snatching a kiss, secret trysts and fumbling for a shared moment. The ghosts are still there, and they smile.

Rounding off the trio of gigs was an astonishing performance by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I’m not great at sitting down in concerts cause I fidget, rock backwards and forwards, pick my nose and generally get a bit antsy, but it’s also undeniable that when the Apollo is seated it takes on yet another guise. Whereas The Kooks had been all gumtree gumption and snogging in the back row and Björk had been a conduit for lightning love and magic, Plant and Krauss made the venue a breathtaking blend of intimacy and hefty wonderment. 

The crowd, mostly made up of ageing Zep fans and the Q-set, sat wide-eyed and excited, falling in love and out of their minds. The funny thing is that I’d never been mad on Zep themselves, or not got round to it yet – but hearing ‘When The Levee Breaks’ led by mandolin and violin rather than twin geetars was something unique and special. Plant could have probably made a fuckload of cash touring with Led Zeppelin this year, but it’s clear that he doesn’t need or want to. Krauss has won about a billion Grammy awards, and T-Bone Burnett popped up onstage to lead the band through a historical primer full of ghosts, a kind of folk/blues seminar for the uninitiated as well as a reaffirmation for the faithful. 

Two hours is a long time to sit still but this went in a blink; at the age of 58 and a few clicks, Plant seemed to have found something about him that radiated out into the venue. Not the voice, the echoes of the younger man or even, I venture, the songs. It was something more. Something a bit more soul-shaking than all that. The collaboration with Krauss and Burnett had been more than an old man’s folly, more than what you might call an auld rocker paying homage to his heroes. It was, in many ways, a man who’d realised that, even in the early days, this is both from where his muse originated and what had been there before him and would be there after he’d long gone. The start, and the end of a journey, in a sense; the man comes around.

The Manchester Apollo divested itself of its audience, cleaned up, yawned, and went back to sleep. Tomorrow another set of musicians would bring another set of emotions here. Playful, spiritual, gnarled or just damned noisy, it’s all part of the same game but to be in it you’ve got to get up off your arse and catch the breeze. 

The great thing about theatres is the suspension of disbelief demanded: once inside, anything goes, and to be open to that is perhaps to find things out about yourself that you didn’t expect or even want revealed.

And then to get stuck in a traffic jam on the way home.

I went to Spain and there was no music (2008)

From The Fly

It’s the drunk-conversation-favourite question: would you rather go blind, or deaf? Touch wood, it’s something that I hope never, ever transpires but in the past I’ve always thought that, well, all things considered, this is still a pretty damn amazingly beautiful world and every time I go and visit another part of it I find that there are new colours everywhere that I never even dreamed existed. 

It could be in the shade of the grass, prismed through dew at dawn by the river in Shrewsbury, the dancing blurry greeny-blue of the Northern Lights above Reykjavik; the pink of a new nipple; the wood and stools and moustachioed chubby Lithuanian butchers distorted by the glass and amber of a fresh-poured beer in a Vilnius bar; Bangor City losing 6-1 at home in the UEFA Cup. OK, perhaps not the last one quite so much but that was always my thinking: eyes rule. Not that the alternative is any more palatable as a result, but if you really had to…

It’s a bastard of a question, really, which is akin to the ‘hey lad, how much would you, ya know do Anne Widdicombe for’ type of conversation that always begins at £1 Million before someone does, as they say, ‘the math, dude’ and realises that even now 500 grand could well be enough to retire on if you weren’t stupid with it, then someone else chips in with the old ‘yeah but for ten minutes’ work £100k ain’t bad’ which subsequently quickly gets decimated into ‘if I was pissed I reckon £10k would be ok’ and before you know it someone – usually DD – is saying that if you paid for all his ale that night and a kebab on the way home he’d get stuck right in cos I bet she’s gagging after all them years and fuck it imagine what you could sell to the papers afterwards etc etc. 

Or perhaps it’s not like that at all, actually, but as they say in Spainland, que divertimento

And cause they say things like that and also have excellent tapas and lots of sun I’ve been there for a week or so on hols. The last time I was in Santander was in a vicious tour with the old band which involved, variously, sleeping in squats with pet iguanas, no water and rotting once-was-cauliflower on a stove through a hole in the wall, or running away from 80 irate Anarchists bent on kicking our stupid Welsh arses off, or hallucinating after no sleep, eight hours driving and nobody knowing what the twonk was going on cause a) it was in August and about 100 Degrees F and b) we kind of forgot to learn any Spanish. 

Anyway this time things are better and the beaches are lovely and there’s nobody trying to kick my head in for accidentally slagging off Negu Gorriak, who I would like to put on record are a very great band indeed. This time, there’s been other kinds of music; very little on telly aside from the (original) version of that crap Karaoke show on ITV on Saturday, the radio I bought is already fucked (after half a play of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ironically) and the only live music has been a funky jazz band in the fiesta over the weekend.

And even though I’ve ostensibly been on holiday, it’s bloody everywhere. Speakers in the plazas all night during said fiesta (also involving hundreds of wooden huts selling beer and tapas made from prawns, octopus, and other slithy toves) blasting out the latest hits, my own listening to stuff on youtube and myspaz, even having CDs sent in the post – music is inescapable. 

Its power, and passion, and ubiquity, and ability to express and induce shades of emotion I never thought I had, is something I don’t think, truly, that I could live without. No, I know so. I’d even listen to Toploader every day*, if it meant I could still keep discovering this magic. Although you’d have to give me 50 grand first. And buy me a kebab afterwards, to take away the taste.

*OK, maybe once a week. I’m not fucking mental.

The Spirit Lives (2008)

Originally published by The Fly

There’s a lot to be said for just standing onstage making a right old racket, amps up to 11 and eyes burning with belief as the sweat runs down the distended veins on your temple at the sheer damned visceral explosion inside. 

It’s how I spent a good couple of years in the old band, after all, scrapping around shoddy stages, smashing basses against faces and hammering out claw-fist rhythms in dust-clot basements with graffiti on the walls and piss dripping out from underneath scum-toilet doors.

It’s all well and dandy and a staple of the kind of primal therapy that underpins the motivation of the briny bastards at the bottom, scrabbling around in the purple-thorned undergrowth and revelling in the spirit as much as – more than – the music itself. The process is designed, or undertaken, to provide some kind of conduit to a power that’s hard to pin down but more powerful than anything else when it can be caught.

It is that self-same spirit of independent, alternative and slightly angsty gravel that underpins also a wider vision of music. It’s a spirit that runs through rock n roll music since day one; since Robert Johnson made his pact with devils unspoken at the crossroads, in truth, Johnson’s own muse having been borne on the horrors of the past itself. 

The same spirit and wariness of the establishment that catalysed rhythm and blues, that made Elvis Presley himself at one time a rebel, that fired up the Stones and The Who, that raked through the eyes and hearts of the Velvets, the Stooges, the Lost Boys: the spirit that powered punk rock, and any number of subsequent splinter factions since.

It’s the same spirit, too, that initially fired Jack White: you can hear it every time he explodes into sky-squeal; be it those pained, strained, excruciatingly beautifully fucked vocals or the craziness led by a guitar extortion, exhorting the instrument into greater, flame-filled, harridan-Hendrix flights of dastardly fancy. A sound-sourced grasp out of the darkness that bites and bristles at your neck, and your hair, and the pieces of clay within and it’s petrifying, in the best kind of way. In the White Stripes (if ever they’re going to play again) it is (or was) undeniable, Meg’s dum-dum drumming the simplest of tribal beats round which Jack could weave and tangle and gibber and fly, an instant fix of the primeval urge to blast back at the world in confusion or in joy.

In the slightly more conventional set-up of The Raconteurs his Icarus-soar is more controlled, counterpointed masterfully by Brendon Benson’s more fluid approach and the anchoring basslines beneath. Benson and White together is quite something, two virtuosos in tandem – the craftmaster and the wild-eyed visionary, and when the sparks fly, the venue lights up in astonishment. And when it comes together in something as magnificent as Blue Veins, you can start to understand Robert Johnson’s motivations in the first place.
It’s fair also to say that The Raconteurs would not countenance a gig in an underpowered, underlit, dangerously-wired shitehole. 

And nor should they, because the vibe of which we speak is not dependent on shouting at the spiders or useless, cheap excuses for amps. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, follow that if you just turn it up loud and scream the spirit will appear. And conversely it obviously doesn’t follow that buying a vintage Custom SG and a Marshall 900 will make you play like Angus Young either. We can all reel off lists of over-polished, boring-arsed bands who could do with spending a few gigs running away from irate cowboys, fending off the attentions of over-eager flobbers and generally getting their smooth sides roughed up a bit.

It’s an odd one to pin down, really, which is why the most interesting manifestation of The Spirit at the Liverpool date of The Raconteurs was rather a surprise. It was, of course, there in some of Jack’s more incriminating licks, but that wasn’t quite the whole story. The band played, the sound was sharp and gravelly, and the drapes behind the group shivered, shook and undulated. And I realised: it’s there. In the shadowplay behind the lights there were dancing sprites of pure rock n roll, enticed by the music and the audience and the dusty dressing room, but brought through the portal between netherworlds by all and none of these things.

A little bemused, I looked round the room and ended up quite by chance looking at the lighting engineer who was rocking backwards and forwards, ratty, long, resplendent locks shaking and whirring behind his nodding head. I could see the whites of his eyes but the pupils were enormous. He was possessed by it and as I smiled and watched his fingers flit over the lighting desk like Stevie Wonder plays the Rhodes I realised that the engineer was a conduit, too. His desk was his instrument, the lights the manifestation of the same primitive urge of expression that Lemmy has when he ‘sings’ and Future Of The Left flirt with gleefully.

 In one split second a cymbal crashed, Jack White’s craw blasted unearthliness, Benson’s guitar squealed and a strobe flared vicious vindication. A gasp emanated from somewhere, and I was surprised to find out it was my own.

Suddenly I felt an uncontrollable urge to turn and face the lighting desk. I shivered: the engineer was staring right at me and I felt, I knew, I was staring into the eyes of a lion. Intimidating, powerful, and proud, it was a gaze of challenge and timelessness, of a world where rather more immediate rules of life and/or death applied.

I stood, transfixed, caught in the beam. The blood drained from my face; my heart missed a beat. I felt insignificant, and infinite, and I understood everything was part of a bigger, never-ending tale that was never truly meant to be fully spoken of; that never could be expressed aside from only partly in the occasional instant of cymbal-crash, lights-flash, guitar-smash. Suddenly the venue was silent, and time was irrelevant, and the world fell asunder, itself in thrall.

Point duly made, the lighting engineer shook his head and his dreads clicked as he looked away, his fingers prowled back to the vista of his desk, the venue snapped back into sharp focus as the crowd’s roar seeped back into my consciousness - and the band played on.

The true and melodious story of when I got bored and drank lots of cup of teas (2008)

There was a time not so long ago when I and lots of my music-making, writing, photographing, arseabout artists and ambivalent artisans were on the dole. Or, as Dave Davies, the hardest man in Bangor, would put it, ‘The Rock And Roll’. He battered Alan Minter once. Anyway. 

Generally, and in line with the alphabetised schedule of signing on, we’d have our giros on different days, even alternate weeks of the fortnightly cycle. This meant that our own financial ecosystem was nearly always rescued from the verge of utter extinction by this alphabetical serendipity; because we were all Rockin And Rollin we could always find just about enough to scrape a couple of quid together for a three litre bottle of Frosty Jack and quite possibly a half ounce of baccy. 

This made for some hugely forgettable nights, which is the general idea when you’re drinking white cider and can only deduce the previous evening’s entertainment – and personnel – by the occasional knocked-over ashtray, or a glass with the suspiciously lumpy remnants of someone’s final drink in it. Stepping over rumpled bodies, holding your nose, the morning after was triumphantly filled with hideously rancid gurgles from protesting guts.
Good times.

But there was, nonetheless, the occasional time where this fragile and pulchritudinous system of mutual support would fail, perhaps because one of our number had been forced to take a few weeks work to, as it were, zero the dole clock. And this meant that the darkest night before the dawn was damned dark. The night before giro day. The Thursday of distress. Strange things would happen on these days; the sofas had been ransacked for their pennystrewn contents, the house turned upside down for stray copper coins, the penny jars were laughing in their cobweb. 

There was no cash, anywhere. And we would wait for friends to come round, smokers who could be identified by the length of their butts; one of our number, a film-maker and affable cameraman, would leave nearly two thirds of an Embassy No. 1 unsmoked in the ashtray after a visit. Maybe he did it on purpose, now I come to think of it, cause he was and is an unremittingly grand duke of a man, but nonetheless on his exit the lynx-eyed scramble for these near-virgin butts was on. Another of our mob, a singer and beautifully wasted talent of a footballer, was superb at ekeing out rollies from fags – once, memorably, getting 10 new smokes from out of a single Royal.

It was not a unique situation, by any means: we were all at it, and it was tacitly accepted that talking about it outside the rock n rollers would probably lead to some awkward embarrassing situations. But it was fair game amongst us, because we all understood each other and without such trust the ecosystem would utterly fail.

The ashtrays at home would remain unemptied in awful anticipation of The Day Before Giro Day, and rightly so: an overflowing ashtray at such times became a box of tricks, a chamber of secrets and a lifesaver. Ironic. The horrendous soot would get everywhere; opening up old rollies for their unsmoked contents yields a range of different tobaccos in different phases of dryness but when it is a desperate situation then needs must. There’s many occasions where I can truthfully say I followed smokers round the city where I then lived, hoping that they would drop half a faggy marvel in the gutter and please don’t stand on that, I was hoping it would be for me.

It was grim, and it was wonderful. 

It was the day before giro day and I was skint.

And on one particular such occasion, when the ecosystem broke down and even the ashtrays were smoked to their utmost, and the sofas and the under-the-carpets were crying in their terror lest we try once more to ransack them for cider pennies, we were sitting together. Three of us, each as skint as the other and each smiling in unutterable boredom. The clocks stopped. There was nothing on television. We were sick of playing countless games of Goal. The cider had ran out. There stretched in front of us not just hours but lifetimes of anticipation, the wait for the green giro to plop through the letterbox as breathlessly unbearable as the eternal moments before your first kiss.
We sat, gormless, inside a fug of filth and squalid recycled smoke. Nobody could be arsed to move. It was beautiful.

Daniel scratched his bollocks. It sounded like someone scraping their nails down a blackboard.
Amazingly, he stood up as we watched him without any interest whatsoever in his vertical stance. A moment beated by as an ambulance went past the window.

“Anyone want a cup of tea?” he asked, in an intonation with all the resonance and interest of gruel.

Myself and the boy Andy grunted in assent.

“How many?” asked Daniel, for some reason.

“Seventeen” I said, for some reason.

And so seventeen teas he made; cup upon cup of No Frills tea-flavour pine-needle floor-scraping bag-type drink came out from the kitchen. He had called my bluff. So I called his bluff back and I started to drink.

The first three weren’t too bad; refreshing even. I had, after all, been subjecting my lungs to the sort of noxious emissions an eighteen-wheeled Monster Truck would be ashamed of. I felt rather lubricated, all told.

As mug four, five, six went down I started however to feel rather an ominous gurgle in the gut. No matter, Daniel and Andy were enjoying it and I was having a lot of fun in a hysterical kind of way. Nine, ten, eleven and the cups were starting to become lukewarm now. The milk – semi-skimmed, quite possibly the grubby UHT from the back of the cupboard – was cloying and sickly.

I began to sweat.

Daniel brought out more mugs; most had no handles, one was a milk jug and one was an empty coffee pot. Doggedly, I drank, and drank. Where it was going, I had no idea; fourteen, fifteen cups and the room began to spin and foam before my swimming eyes. More, more, and I thrust my last one down. Sixteen cups of tea. 

Daniel and Andy were by now doubled over on the floor, unable to breathe in their hilarity of pain.
My eyes rolled in my head and I felt light-brained and weird, my stomach was distended and now palpably sloshing. A cement mixer without sand, an ocean of tips.

I could hold it no more and ran to the bathroom upstairs (the same one I had decorated with blood not so long ago after an interesting nose/cider/floor configuration had been unwisely, semi-consciously undertaken). And so came the torrent.

The puke hit the toilet water and bounced back over my head, drenching me. The sound of the expulsion was like Brian Blessed exploding. And, head swimming, sweating, prickly with pain, I breathed and breathed in as much oxygen as my blackened lungs would allow. Not much. I puked, and I puked, and I puked. Minute after minute it came up, and up, and up. Unending, whirling, rancid and churning. It came, and it came, and it came.

Daniel and Andy were still pinned to the floor, spatchcocked in hysterical laughter downstairs. I could hear them, they were underwater but I could hear them. I staggered down toward them.

I rushed back upstairs immediately. I needed to piss.

It was the night before giro day.

I did not get a wink of sleep because every time I emptied my bladder it filled to bursting once more. I have no idea from whence it all came, but came it did and I slept no minute that night. Cold, shivering, pissing magic. Up, and down, like a fiddler’s elbow, like a wanker’s elbow. I could not settle, I twitched, and I went to piss.

And because I had not slept, and could not sleep, and was twitching and trembling, I heard the flutter of the post at 7am; a time I’d never have been usually up unless I was still up, or to put it another way, quite possibly still up. It was on this rare occasion my alarm clock rather than my signal to go to bed.
I smiled.

It was giro day.

I had only two hours to wait til the post office opened. And I finally slept because I knew the Night Before Giro Day was finally over. Until the next one.

There are thousands of ways in which people prove that they are fundamentally idiotic but now I come to think of it this one wasn’t really one. Because when it comes down to it someone’s giro will always come, friends are there because they believe in nothing more than happiness and they will never judge you by any standards aside from the moral code by which you share a bond.

 Everything is more important than money, but you need to have a tenner more than you can spend in your pocket in order to realise how true that is.

To those who left the party early

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Wearable Poem 2

I am in Aldi on Tuesday night looking for wine and comfort food following a multi city video conference about poetry and alternative press

What is that smell? It’s like. No biscuits today. Bread looks good. Got some already. Sort of not barbecue but smoky. Cheap chocolate. Not the cheapest. Suzy asked me last time if I thought she was cooking with it. A joke. Not that funny. More ironic. Ironical? 39p for four bulbs of garlic. Roasted garlic. It is really something. Just squirting a bulb of brown roasted slimy roasted gorgeous garlic into my mouth is reason enough to be alive. Tomatoes. Shit raw, great cooked.

Gunpowder. That’s it. Cheap fucking jeans. Why gunpowder? I think I smelt it when I got them. Eight quid you get what you get. And people died in that factory building. Safe to read in Guardian, anyway. No collapses there. Words are fictions. I read that too. Olive oil. Nope. Two quid here, a fiver for a tiny bottle in the stupid hippy shop, rebranded as medicine. Lamb reared under humane standards. So cute in a field, tasty on a fork. It is indefensible. The tongue is mightier than the brain.

Breaded ham. Bearded ham. Gordon’s ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Gordonzola. Gianfranco Zola at the near post backheel flick goal a hunchback genius everyone loves him. I like it when John Terry cries, he crumples like a soggy biscuit dunked just a second too long in a nice cup of tea. Skimmed milk. Diet cola. Three bottles of wine. Cotes du Rhone. Coats of Rome. Pasta in the shape of cock and balls on sale next to Trevi Fountain. They say the water is bleached these days. And so what anyway. Tourists. Everyone hates and are, is, them.

Dark rum, white rum. No price difference. Curtis pours you extra if you tip him more. Wednesday club in the sun. Shorts on for four years. The first rule of Wednesday Club is: No girls. Unless they are serving us booze. Aqua Beach is bikini Wednesdays. Unbearable. British. The urge to look and appreciate is the same as the leer of guilt. Head down then passing a note to the bar manager. Aii dios mio.

Fucking jeans. Making me sick. Everyone can hear that smell. Yeah well done you idiot, put your stuff right at the back end and watch it trundle down to the till. Then we can all hold our nice heavy baskets for a few seconds longer. Fuck off. God if only I could kick you up the arse just once that would be reason enough to be... but not. Never as good as it seems. Not as grand as roast garlic. Garlic pills ten quid for 30. Four bulbs for 39p. Rots in the fridge in the Caribbean. Potatoes too, shit. Take my word for it, life is all about a perfect potato. You don’t know the half of it.

Shit is that all? Not even twenty quid. Why am I always surprised?

Ah fuck, I think I’ve been thinking in poetry prose bollocks.

Fucking conference calls.

Fuck off.