Monday, 31 August 2015

We don't need any blue plaques

Sorry, folks: we don’t have any blue plaques.
Regardless, why do you want to live in the past? Are you some kind of weirdo?
The C&A was out of date. We moved it all up to Penrhosgarnedd. Isn’t that a fine, enormous, modern facility?
You can be born there and die there and have your own operation if things go wonky and you can wait long enough until the people in front of you die first to open a slot.
Anyway, Safeways was great wasn’t it? So cheap and plentiful and in such a lovely red brick building too.
Well, it’s all in the eye of the beer holder isn’t it?
A one stop shop for bread and fish and meat and hey clothes and vegetables and OK it’s Morrisons now but if you go there at 3pm on a Sunday
Everything’s so cheap. Sandwiches for 30p! 5p for a pack of liver! I mean, wow, right? You’d have to be an idiot to turn those bargains down.
See, Rita wanted to retire from baking anyway. And Albins didn’t have the range we’ve got. I mean, who needs a smelly fishmonger shop when here we’ve pre-packed it all in plastic? From sea to plastic to oven without a whiff.
And it gives people jobs.
And yes you did hallucinate those facades and street art wonders. They never were there. No Warholian beans; no dancing clowns either. Ed Povey? That even sounds made up.

Walk down the hill, the one named after the banks of a river.
The students call it Bitch Hill. That’s funny, isn’t it? Gotta laugh.
There’s a massive new structure going up. It’ll be ready in 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020.
You’ll be able to see plays there and go to the cinema and well, we’ve not really thought about a car park as such but the one down the road is free now.
The one that shuts at 6pm. That’s right.
Anyway, it’ll be great. Plenty of things to do and see and hey it’ll be culturally brilliant and OK Theatr Gwynedd has been closed a while but you know in the end
It was out of date. Looked messy. The G from Gwynedd always fell off. I mean, what a sight. You’d have to be an idiot not to notice that one.
See, we needed something there anyway. And in keeping with the look of the city, I mean, we had to make it look like it fitted in didn’t we? So we made it look just like Debenhams.
The architects did such a good job.
You should see their amazing work on those Biomes in Cornwall. Their glasswork at Empac. Such talented folks. We didn’t want anything too drastic though. Square is the new bubble.

We had to knock down that police station.
Marks wanted the space and we wanted Marks. And Spencer, obviously.
That station was out of date. Intimidating. A relic. Thick walls of stone. Who wants that?
You can visit the police round the corner anyway by the library next to the cathedral. It’s a modern, friendly place.
Come in! We won’t bite.
We’re just down the road from the ex-ramp, the ramp that ceased to be. There’s a sports shop blocking the exit, too. Anyway Sammy Londsdale wanted to retire.
And so did the people from the Welsh shop Leathercraft guitar shop cheap homewares antiques stalls and the panda painted in the middle.
See, Aldi will pick up the slack. And there’s jobs there too. I mean, they pay quite well and their own-brand alternatives are irresistible. So you’d be daft not to shop there too.
Look, they deserve a profit.
Let’s face it, they’re not there for the good of their health. Look at the range they’ve got. This week is Spanish week. Check out the price on that chorizo-rioja bundle! Si, por favour, gracias!

Course, Asda was always our friend.
We just needed to find a mutual space. Somewhere that worked for us both.
That football ground was crumbling. It was the club’s own fault: the 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s were so expensive so the council stepped in.
And the people that bought it were going to build a bowling alley multiscreen cinema playground ice rink low cost housing and it will levitate when the tide is in.
But then the recession bit.
We had to let the planners in, I mean, it was prime city centre retail space. And Asda really is so cheap sometimes. We ought to put up a plaque to their discounts!
George Best Bobby Charlton John Charles Jimmy Conde Carl Dale Tony Broadhead Dave Elliot Neville Southall. Who are dey? Come here and drink yer milk.
See, the club’s got a fancy new ground in Nantporth. Such facilities. Obviously the rent has to reflect that. We aren’t running a charity here. Don’t be silly now.
Asda’s doing a great job.
The students living in the British Hotel are big fans. And, anyway, don’t be a hypocrite. You were in there on Saturday. Buying wine. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape was 9.99 a bottle. What a treat!

We had to knock down that hill.
It was in the way. And Lidl was so vital. It wasn’t fair otherwise.
The cinema next door? What an eyesore. All that garish shopfront and a tree growing out of it. I mean, come on.
Don’t give me that Art Deco nonsense, you could hardly see it under the pebbledash. And anyway, you’ve still got Theatr Gw... I mean, Pontio will be ready in 2021 2022 2023 2024.
We need more room for flats.
Nice, red brick, up quick as you like. Another 140 bedsits and modern, oh so modern, student flats. And Dominos too! Who doesn’t like pizza?
We had to make sure the high street was secure. Look, it’s not our fault half the shops are empty. We don’t set the rates. It’s not our remit.
Anyway there’s Red Cross Cancer Research Oxfam Age Concern Annie’s Orphans British Heart Foundation to go and browse instead. And a hundred estate agents.
See, nobody went to the record shop anymore. Why would you when we have Spotify and Amazon and iTunes? Are you determined to live in the past?
We’ve got a pound shop and a pound shop bakers and another pound shop’s coming soon and you can always buy Sky from the man in the shopping centre.
Not the one with the ramp. The other one, the one we built. The one with all the empty units. Not the one surrounded by scaffolding.
There’s a pop-up art gallery.
Anyway, nobody was going to the pubs anymore. Nobody wants to come out to eat at night. It’s pedestrianised between 10am and 4pm. We are a real city you know.

Sorry folks: we don’t have any blue plaques.
The Railway Institute? What use is that? It’s outdated. That’s a fact.
What we need is more flats. That building’s in the way. Don’t you want to be a forward-thinking city?
And the cathedral down the road: God’s planning to move out. He realised that he was holding up progress by taking up valuable supermarket space.
We’re hoping Primark will move in. Do you think there’s enough space? Maybe if we move the pews out the way and shuffle the statues to the side.
And the Altar will be a grand checkout.
Don’t you think so? Do you remember Pinnochio? He wanted to be a real boy you know. If you wish hard enough, dreams come true. Think about that.
We don’t have plaques here: we have red bricks and supermarkets and big shops. One day we hope to become a real city. Like all the others.
Anyway we’ve got a lovely business park out of town you know. There’s a roundabout there and everything. Just past the Cricket Club.
See, we had to build it or we’d lose the funding for improvements in Caernarfon. It’s a World Heritage Site. Have you been? Oh, it’s lovely there.
They’ve got a square and independent cafes and homemade ice cream and local butchers and oh you really must go, the castle is beautiful.
Who doesn’t like a castle?
That’s testament to our stewardship. You have to take care of what you’ve got. Don’t you? Well, sometimes, in some places, that’s true. Let us do the thinking. The supermarkets are marking down the mince you know. Hurry, or you’ll miss out.
Hurry, hurry, hurry.
To! The! Future!
Why do you want to live in the past?
Are you some kind of weirdo?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Who needs...?

Remote controls, I've 5 or 6. I’m not sure; I’ve lost count.
Sky, TV, M Box, Soundboard, that’s just four. The right amount?
There’s one for everything these days, of that I have no doubt.
There’s one to close the curtains so you can’t look in the house,

There’s one for washing dishes without getting off the couch,
And one to measure calories when you are working out,
Another sets the tablecloth when mates are coming round,
A tiny one for purine levels when you’re facing gout.

I find one down the sofa back and push the red button
And down the street a car explodes. Oh Christ, what have I done?
I panic, fret and wail and cry, but then the answer comes:
I hit ‘rewind’ and back it zooms as if it’s never gone.

Now that gives me an idea. Now I can have some fun.
Fast forward through the boring bits of life’s dreary friction:
Press pause and get an afternoon outside in summer sun.
And turn the neighbours down when they start ranting at someone.

This handy little gadget’s got a multitude of uses
And in my hands it’s joy on joy; it constantly amuses.
I oscillate twixt then and now on my temporal cruises.
Master of time, I drink my wine and give out red brain bruises

For cultural insanity is bound by these abuses;
To flicker forth an hour or two eventually confuses.
What is my time? What, when and why? Whither the muses?
Creation’s going backwards! The remote’s blown its fuses!

Oh me, oh day, oh what am I to do? Unstuck in time
Like Billy Pilgrim, all my dreams are starting to unwind.
Tomorrow’s gone and yesterday is coming close behind;
Today’s a concept lost to me in psychographic grime,

There’s no such idea anymore of walking in a line,
When waiting's done and what may be’s a tangled ball of twine
With no strands loose to pull and straight. Ridiculous, sublime
Inheritance of Dali's clock. Persistence? Melted mind.

But time is not a country, nor is it righteous, yet
We live by day and sleep by night and work to get in debt
To buy a house to fill with stuff with functions and gadgets
That each need a remote control to keep them on and set.

The red lights wink, the infra-red waves circulate and get
More and more mysterious and leak out through the net
From every mortgaged bungalow to every short-term let
We pile up plastic numbered wands. A modern magic set.

But this is all irrelevant. I’m paused, b-between breaths.
A spectre of a ghost, I am the notes between the frets.
The buttons just won’t work for me. I’m halfway up the steps
And halfway down again. Oh man, I’ve lost what’s coming next,

I’ve lost the frisson of not knowing what’s there to expect,
Anticipation’s dead for me. I can’t go forward, back, bereft
And glued. I’m stuck in amber. I call, but there’s no depth,
No soundwaves travel in still air: not life, but not a death.

I press the buttons one more time. No response. Hopelessly
I curse myself for thinking I could ever make it free,
That I could be so stupid to pause time and life for me
To play in at my leisure. Ah, to be, and not to be -

That is the question that pervades me now. Eternity
In a grain of sand? In a madman’s hand? Uselessly
My garbled mind takes leave. But then – a brainwave – just maybe
All that I need to do is find a pair of batteries.

Monday, 17 August 2015


It was a breeze of joy that blew me back.

My feet remembered all the names of the streets. Sure, there were new bumps – on the road and on my feet – but the recall was there, more or less. And as they remembered the streets, so the calibration of distance followed. Things seemed further or harder-won and yet concurrently smaller. Diminished by the mountains that I’d forgotten. Beautiful. Eternal. All that crap is true, specially when you don’t see it every day.

So my eyes remembered the mountains, maybe for the first time, and my heart or whatever followed straight away. Whoosh. More bumps, I suppose, tumbling upwards through the millennia. A long time. So long to be meaningless. And then I remembered, with my imagination, that I was about four or five years late for a meeting here on this street overlooked by mountains.

“We’ll just remember to do it,” we vowed. “Ten years from now, no matter where we are in the world, no matter what we are doing, probably married with kids or whatever or musicians or maybe a real job ha ha. We’ll come back. Do you promise to remember?”

We both did. I wonder if you did go there; maybe on the way to work, or just for a walk to see the mountains in their autumn clothes, not knowing the reason.  I did think of it a few years back. I wonder if that was ten years. No matter, there was nobody there to verify and anyway I wasn’t home, I was chugging and plugging around, chasing or running away from reality. I have given up trying to unpick that one by now, it’s enough to make you die mad and ranting.

I wondered whether that had already happened.

I walked the same streets: the high street stacked now with charity shops and estate agents and coffee houses; the Asda on hallowed ground where I ebulliently volleyed an orange wide of where the goal used to be, in my mind; I swerved around the barriers where I used to play and now where a Brutalist, brutish, delayed fuckup monster was yawning slowly awake, crusted with mistakes and all the usual nearly-there hometown skewiff glee.

I walked in new places, new corridors, classrooms, seminars: this I didn’t remember, not properly, because I was allowed – meant – to be there. Not an interloper with a blagged card; nobody signing me in, despite my cider-skinhead burbling oafishness; no us and them and get the fuck out of here. The problem with long-held mysteries is that they more often than not end up as vehicles to disguise something that’s banal and ultimately obvious.

I didn’t get around to picking up a guitar properly. Cajoled, eventually, into intermittent noise, yes. But in between something had gone. A snapped string somewhere. I’d forgotten how much energy it took to try and believe in nothing, or to disbelieve in everything. I think that’s a kind of death, too.

It hit me; I was a ghost. It was the only explanation for this floating around these familiar streets, where my feet no longer made a sound. Not a sprite, not a poltergeist, not even a lost soul wailing for what can never be. An echo of myself. An echo of a whelp that was. What may have been. My feet remembered the streets, but now I knew it: the streets never promised to remember anyone.

I floated, and whispered, and the wind whiled me away again.

Friday, 14 August 2015

I never did see the green flash

What is the day? The hour? This weariness is beyond responsibility. I know that I am, but what am I? It is a labour; a journey; a soul shifted. Souls shifted. I must remember that. We came newly adjoined. And wide-eyed. With fear. Excitement. Holding hands tighter than we might. Who are you? What is this place? I’m too hot.

This was a dream: I know this now. The sticky-skinned laughter. The sick, blackened cords stretched and snapped to home. The webcams from the Mersey at midnight showing a Liverpool sunrise. Why? Where am I? It is a dream; an ambition; a magic sun. A magic sun. Think about that. We found things, strange. And familiar-skewed. With sweat. Exhaustion. Sunglasses rammed on faces to redden the night. Too much. And the pool? Reptile-shit-warm. Air-con life.

And it goes, it happens. Time, I mean. All kinds of ripples. I looked at my feet. There was sand. The white sand. The ridiculous postcard azure. The perfection. A beach I had no entitlement to be off. The grains ground and serrated and caressed. Work finished. I don’t miss it. It was me and it, I, still feel unreal. Whose feet? Whose land? The rum’s lovely.

Dreams: things you wake from. Imagination-flickering-derangement. Sand is still in my shoes. But the form is lost. Aeroplanes=airplanes. Sidewalks. Sliders. Parking lots. Cha-cha. Home? 24 hours and a world away. Home? Here? Maybe. But, oh, it’s hurricane season. Look, there’s Africa. That’s a blob. Watch it, watch, it, watch it.

And all that is familiar was familiar means familiar is shattered and put back together with chewing gum with shards swapped so faces are at knee level with an eye and a redface in a navel and life is falling and flattened and we are cubist versions of ourselves.

Was it four years? Nearly so? This strangeness is beyond comprehensibility. I know that we were, but where were we? It was an image in 3D; conceptions cracked. Concepts cracked. I must understand that. We left, still adjoined. And baggy-eyed. With weird. Exhaustion. Clutching luggage heavy with hindsight. What was that? Where are we next? I’m too hot.

More than a dream: perhaps, per-how. The sickly-morning hangover. The limp, slackened haunches tubby and oozing and foam. The deckhands, ropes and fade-sun-hatted white-flowing insipid-cool bunfights, skies, stares. Am I explaining the dream? The position? The frantic sun? The frantic sun. Sinking too fast. To ground, out of range. Green-blue flashing hues. And yet. In motion. Erratic, random races to heaven, in flight, or touch. One more mall. Facile, flit, fawn. Neo-con life.

And it goes, it happens. Time, I mean. All kinds of ripples. Again, at my feet there was sand, the right sand, the preposterous TV allure. In directions of reach I had no incentive to be. Rough remains around, homesick, grated and depressed. What’s in it? I don’t know it. I looked and I lied. Yes, I feel those feet, that land, that rum journey.

Dreams: why wake up? From imagination-flickering derangement, sand still in my shoes? Nothing ventured is lost. Airplanes=aeroplanes. Why talk, riders? Mark your slot, will ya? Home? 24 hours ain’t a world away. Home? Here? Baby, not only a worrying treason: fuck-shared frequent flobs catch it, catch it, catch it.

And then, that was within; year of faring of sea-flung years now splattered and squashed back together with glue and scum with words smacked so places are at the level of a sky and a latte and a turtle, and memories shout out and warble and we are back, back in a hologram that never happened.