Another year slides off the face and into the bin.
The bus ticket was one pound of money and fifty pence of despair more than I had imagined the upper limit could possibly be even in this new modern world we currently live in nowadays before I jogged to the bus and got on board. I regretted the jogging, and did an impression of the driver saying to me the number he'd just said, and before I'd finished he was saying yes, yes and looking at me like you're going to pay anyway, so just pay, I have to parade this robbery machine around the local area all week and say that price to people every day, and every day I discover that there isn't a way of saying it to someone who hasn't heard it that doesn't result in their doing an impression of me saying it to them but in a much more sarcastic voice than I had in fact said it.

Got Long

The two-spar system couldn't last. They shut one. We moved to the lake district, or the Lake District.
I work in a small shop that sells things you want. Where are the eggs? people ask, with tears on their faces and panic in their brains. They are at ankle-level, towards the back of the shelves, which is why you can't see them. Next to them are the Kinder Eggs. A daring location, away from confectionery, but so far not unpopular.
I had an interview and an indoctrination day and I hardly had to lie at all. It was like being eighteen again and having not much to lie about. They asked the classic retail questions: During an armed robbery, how controllable would your weeping be? Was there ever an occasion during which you didn't know what to do, but because you had to do something, you did something, and everything turned out alright? If a man buys a bag of potatoes and when he gets home and starts making dinner for himself and a young woman he only met three weeks ago, he discovers the bag is full of pygmy heads, do you offer him a refund when he returns angry and sickened and unable to contact the young woman, who thought he was weird anyway but that was kinda sorta part of the charm but a bag full of heads like hairy massive sundried tomatoes is really a make-or-break moment these days? When you picture yourself here in the future, is that future a long way off and you've finally had a haircut? If your own mother filled her largest handbag with Uncle Ben's and walked out the door while you were serving at the till, would you let her get away with it? In the event of an inferno, how burnt should you be? When a trembling three-year-old boy tries to buy 96 paracetamol, a litre of Famous Grouse and a party popper, what forms of I.D. do we accept?
We play replica music. It's all the songs you hate by the people you've never heard of. A shadowy phenomenon which I might be making up. Somewhere someone is approximating pop hits and number fours from fifteen years ago and selling them to supermarkets for their instore soundtracks. Which is why the announcer doesn't announce any musical information in his announcing voice. Because what's next isn't quite what it sounds like. Chris Morris played one on his radio show in about 1998 and I heard it and it was foul. But heard through the mangy speakers we have, you're not really going to notice unless you stand there every day for seven hours. Which I do. Now. But didn't. Before.
There's a red button to stop the music and a microphone for the broadcasting of cries for help. This happens when anyone tries to buy anything from me that might lead to a good time or death. I scan an item and the till freezes and I have to call in a higher being with the code to unlock it because for the first four weeks I am considered to be some kind of renegade and untrustable in my judgement of what ages people appear to be, and they have to check I'm not just dishing it out to anyone.
When the higher beings are in the warehouse my cries are unhearable and I can get to know the queue with apologies and small talk about the modern world we live in and whose fault it is. The weather is also highly mentionable. Is it as cold, today, as it was, yesterday, do you think? And what about the temperature tomorrow? What will that be like? Well, we can only speculate, can't we, not being from the future? But I am betting it will be similar, if not exactly the same. Would you like a bag?

Must Butter Noggin

Now the hotel is finished they've reopened the 24-hour Spar. But they haven't closed the temporary Spar round the corner, so there is a two-Spar situation. It's the talk of the north-west. The new one has a better range of beers but a brutally narrow selection of crisps. You'd only go there when Sainsbury's is closed, though. Unless you're an absolute fucking nutcase.


In the square a white-haired man approached and said can you believe it? They mugged me, in the metro, there were three guys and they take my wallet, passport, cards, it was as easy as a cake, where is the police station?
I didn't know, neither did the woman next to me. The man said never again will I keep things in my trouser pockets. I said but that's where I always keep mine. I was just about to introduce him to my dutch police jacket, which has two inside pockets, a biro holster and cuffs of variable circumference, and suggest maybe he get one himself, they don't ruin your life, but two policemen walked past and he went to get their attention.
It was my first night. The woman turned my way and said crazy times, huh, and I said slightly, and we talked about pockets, it didn't last very long.
There was an alarming lack of sock vendors. I had been down to my last pair for a while and my feet reeked like a cheese factory massacre. I didn't tell the woman this, but after a short silence asked her where you go to buy socks, and she said you wait until morning, is it an emergency?

Barcelona has a lot of buildings with good bits. That's a good bit, I kept saying to myself, I'm glad they built that. I walked. When my feet hurt I took the train. The next night I put on new socks and took them to the bar. To see how they would hold up. Black furniture and yellow walls and the chandeliers were tiny bottles of whiskey, vodka and amaretto. Outside a man in a green jacket was dodging bullets and wrestling bears. The barman played the stool. The best stool playing I have ever heard, loud and insistent.
Next day the modern art museum. I was excited. I paid and entered and went straight to the toilet. It featured two urinals, one cubicle and about ten six year old boys. One had installed himself in the sink, lying down, mouth under the tap, which was running, he was very happy. They all looked at me and one of them said hola and I left.
The ground floor gallery could be heard from miles off, there was a moaning whooshing insects-slowed-down sound installation endurance test scenario situation occurring. Like most good things it made me feel a bit sick. On the walls was a lot of jiggery pokery to look at. Some of it moved. Some of it was by John Cage.
On the second floor was a retrospective of some bloke. He'd produced many tiny things and a few big ones and here they all were in order. Some of the big things were made up of the tiny things, it looked like chinese but up close it was little people.
The third floor was Are You Ready For TV? I went back to the ground floor and the whooshing noise. It was all over the place.
Then Nasty Mondays, oh it's massive, you must, the whole world is there, said a swedish girl, so I did, and it wasn't nasty at all, it was downright fucking pleasant, which was very distressing.
Back at the black and yellow bar. It was playing circus funk. Another swedish girl, wearing a red shawl and her eyebrows went up a lot, she said it's a good town for shoes, and we talked about Stephen King and grandmothers.

My Shoes In Particular Were Unpleasant

To Spain, to see Rodrigo, about the car, he might've had the spare part, he didn't, he shrugged, so we went to other place, who did, and negotiated some kind of tax-free cash-only pick-it-up-later deal. Back in France for lunch. Girls sit on folding chairs under the motorway bridges and at the truck stops. The border is unmanned, except for when it isn't.

A few days of rain and the river went turbo. Brown and deafening and slurping the footbridge. New thin waterfalls came out to join it and washed rocks into the road. Helmets were considered. Trees went missing.

After that the wind, snapping branches and bullying phone poles and leaving chestnut mess.

A walnut fell on me, in its fat green jacket, right between my shoulderblades. I looked round thinking there must be a maniac throwing apples and laughing, then I realised I was collecting walnuts, during walnut season, from under a walnut tree.

Back to Spain, for the part. It's surprising how much Spanish they speak. Vishnu did most of the talking, and also all the rest of the talking. I nodded and furrowed my brow and drove round the scrapyard, past the sunken vans and the conefaced three-legged creosote dog, and they loaded the part in the back and the car went considerably slower.
In reception waiting for the woman to get off the phone so we could pay, Vishnu went outside for a piss, directly under the camera that was linked to the screen I was looking at.
We paid and went back to France.

Resurrection Pie

Donny picked me up on the hill and we went through the gorge. He was spending Sunday in his car with The Clash. He went dff-doosh along with the drums in Police and Thieves, explained that he was a physio in Amelie and it was boring, he was doing it to get the money to go off and do Chinese medicine, and the difference between Joe Strummer's voice and Junior Murvin's, in the original, produces a delicious contrast in his mind, when he thinks about it. Dff-doosh. I said it's good. I had the window open, I could've leaned out and licked the rockface. Donny chuckled and spoke in English:
- Fuck your mother!
I laughed. He laughed.
- Aha! I don't speak it very well but I am remembering now certain things.
The sun was behind a mountain. He dropped me off opposite the cascades and turned around and waved goodbye.
Then market day, in Ceret, rhymes with beret. We were up before the sun with a van full of bread and jam. A half-hour drive down the gorge passing hunters on their way up.
The market is through the streets and under the trees. Grey trees, taller than the houses. Most people are selling by eight thirty. Cheeses From Another Time, mushrooms, tablecloths and tapes. For your cassette deck, you withering relic. This was an excitement because there's a tape player in my caravan/space pod. And it wants feeding. But all they had was Elton John, The Police, Jean Michelle Jarre. That kind of thing. The Eagles. I gave up.
Picasso was there. For a while, a while ago, while he was alive. There's an A4 sign about it. And a street with his name. Nothing tacky. They've gone all out on gutters, a foot wide and shin-deep and possibly polished.
By five past two everyone's packed up and gone into the unstoppable lunch. I had a drink in a café. The waiter opened the bottle one-handed over his shoulder, I pretended I'd seen it before.
A dizzy squealing sound came up the road slowly. Six men in white cheesecloth shirts, wielding diddle-doo tubes and goblin pipes and one had a sort of canvas-stomached wooden goose he was squeezing and blowing into, I couldn't tell which part of the noise was his. It was an Animation Musicale, re-enacting and advertising a sequence of events from back when that kind of noise was the golden bomb. Fliers were handed out. The men were on a one-day tour of the region, to be finished with a spectacle. It began to rain. No one felt like applauding. I said woo but they couldn't hear.


The rocks in the gorge have a lot of faces, mainly gaping cubist gargoyles. It was a week before I saw one, then they all clicked in at once on the walk back up from Amelie after a pizza and news binge. It was two days after the full moon and there was plenty of light, no cars or people. Without a torch or moon it would be easy to imagine every dark outline was a ferocious hog and wonder blindly about nightsnakes, murder rates and rockfall. But there was enough light to read by if you really squeezed your eyeballs.
I finished Moby Dick. It has whales in it, being butchered and juiced, it gets very technical.
Two weeks on a vegetarian diet and my thoughts have gone meaty. Meat swims through my dreams and tries to communicate, then when I try to respond it bounds away like a goat down a mountain. Meanwhile, cheese, emboldened, strolls in at nine a.m. and hangs around for twelve hours, smug and creamy and saying things like one more slice, or two, grate me, put me in a sauce. But at night it shuts up.

Friday is for baking. We do four million loaves in three ovens, I put in trays of four or eight and remove them when they're done, put them on the racks overhead, repeat for three hours. Inbetween loads collect walnuts from next to the river, read a bit and tell the cat to fuck off. Hairy bread is not on the menu.

Ken lives down the road and round the corners for half an hour and is from four miles from where I'm from, which is about a thousand miles away. When he was my age 2010 was astrotopia, a permanent cloudhouse swishnugget leisurefest. It turned out a bit differently. He goes to Spain every week for less quiet.

Amelie on a Sunday. The bars put out extra chairs for the after-church crowd, one drink and then home, t-shirts on and a warm wind in the Sideshow Bob trees. The only English paper is the Telegraph, it's not an option. The French ones still murmur about the gypsy expulsion, you can't deport people based on their ethnicity, except they did, and gave each one a few hundred Euros plus extra per child, if they'd sign a paper saying they were leaving voluntarily. Next year the face-veil ban. While I was reading this a short-haired round woman poked my shoulder and asked if I spoke French.
- A bit.
- Can you help me move something into my apartment?
So I went round the corner to a van where her bad-backed husband sat outside with beige teeth and a grey wobbling face, he watched us unload the van, there wasn't much. We lugged a fat armchair and a mattress and a bed frame and two sacks of breakables and a dining table up the stone stairs and into a small four-room apartment that smelled of bitter cheese. She sweated and bitched the whole time except for the occasional wheezing rest, during which a tiny quivering dog called Phil would repeatedly smash his face into our groins.
She gave me twenty euros and we had a drink.

Slug Love

Amelie, it's a town, with hills and baths and older folk going up the hills to the baths, the under fifties steer well clear, you sit and watch the world go by and it doesn't. It's surrounded by green steepness and when it rains a nuclear klaxon goes off and everyone remains calm. I nearly dropped my sandwich in the river. Apparently it's for the emergency service, volunteers, it's cheaper than phoning them all.
The road to the farm is very up, very high, enough room for a car, plenty of things to ooh at, everywhere covered in trees dark green except for the ones sneaking into brown, rock poking out, water dropping down, bears rumoured, clouds being swept down the gorge.
They picked me up in an orange van and I met everyone and the animals and the building. It's three hundred years old and was a forge, then ruins, now a farm and some gites and a bit of camping. Spain is over the hill.
I went for walk on a Sunday. It's hunting season, time to start thinking bright orange thoughts and acting less four legged. Passing men with shotguns or rifles or blunderbusses. I was on a rock watching the cascades opposite and heard someone screaming in anger and the reverb rushing downriver, fading to silence and then he started again, gibbering bursts and long roaring notes. Something to do with the hunting, apparently. Letting you know they're there.
I ate the last of the amazing biscuits while sixty Citroens paraded past behind me, hooting and crunching, red and yellow striped flags, numbers, some kind of rally but not a race.
It was chicken week, for me. A short walk through the raspberry field and they put themselves to bed and when you put the lights on to count them they wince and grumble. In the morning they bustle behind the door and burst out like a magic trick. They try and swoop into the food bucket like chicken feed is incredible.

We saw slugs going at it. They form a squishy figure of eight and revolve very slowly. It's hypnotic, ideal for a tea break. Holes open in the hoops of the eight, then close, you can't tell where their heads are. Later there was no trace.

Three Days Under A Bush

With the pine-needle carpet. Twenty feet away there was a twenty foot drop to the sea.
I heard seagulls only once.
There was a shop round the corner, a church down the hill, sunrise to the left, sunset to the right. I ate salami, drank water, started reading Moby Dick. I wanted something putdownable.
It was a different bush every night, plenty to choose from and no need to get complacent.
Joggers went back and forth on the cliffs. Cruise ships came out of Marseille, went to the right, turned into shoeboxes.
One night after the sun'd gone but the light remained someone played acoustic guitar for an hour.
A woman said be very careful with your papers.
To describe someone traveling alone they say arsehole. A seul. It's something to think about.
I phoned a farm. They said when can you get here. I said about a week. I went to Aix-en-Provence.
Architecture was everywhere. It was unstoppable. Cobblestones and fountains too, exploding. Most of the walls were a shade of yellow.
Art history used to live there. If you were a fan of Cézanne you'd be bouncing. I went to the Matisse exhibition.

Perpignan was giddy and had hot wafts of bin-stink creeping round it. Plenty of narrow roads uphill with tall houses either side and white litter circling. Palm trees on the main roads, men on the corners. It's Catalonia. Signs in two languages. The paper said someone's set fire to an apartment block again.
I stayed in a hotel that would've been dilapidated but they'd painted flowers and leaves all over the walls and furniture. They'd painted a cat halfway up the stairs and painted tiles around the bathroom mirror.
Near the uni were two men, one with an acoustic guitar and one with a keyboard set to piano and turned up to distortion. He used all the keys, it was a rushing ascending noise, it followed me round corners, you couldn't hear what the guitarist was doing.

Port St. Louis to Carry-Le-Rouet

The beach was a mile long and had twelve people on it. They were all surprised to see me.
I walked up it, ate a sandwich, looked at the sea, looked at the industrial happenings, walked back down.
On the road back out I saw flamingos. I'm sure they were flamingos. If they weren't flamingos they were at least very flamingoid. They were pink and wading, doing that stalking kind of walk, almost in unison.
A well-to-do couple gave me a lift to a roundabout and murmured to each other.
Sylvain was next. I don't know much about cars but I do know a creamy walnut interior when I'm in one. He didn't talk because jazz-funk was blasting hard from the stereo.
At the next roundabout I waited an hour. The minibuses with no passengers are the ones that hurt the most. Someone stopped.
-Where are you going?
-Somewhere small, much better-looking than here, with somewhere to camp and preferably close to a beach.
I couldn't pronounce or remember his name. He immediately began to plan my holiday, saying all the things I'd said out loud, one by one, and hmming inbetween. Then:
-Yes! Carry-Le-Rouet! This is the place! Only twenty minutes from Marseille.
He picked up a pen and looked for something to write on. I gave him some paper. He started to write, with the paper resting on the steering wheel. We were doing 130.
I took the wheel.
He said thanks. The pen wouldn't work. He kept scribbling, the scribbling jiggled the wheel, we were going round bends, it was a good time.
He handed me the paper with Carry-Le-Rouet written on it and dropped me just outside Marseille.
People talk about Marseille like it'll eat you alive. They'll mug your hair.
I got in a small van full of cardboard with Mathieu and we went to Marseille. I could get the train from there to Carry. The sun was getting low.
Camille-ish music was playing. His ex-girlfriend used to work in boots in Bristol. He pointed at the tallest building in Marseille.
-They say Marseille has no very tall buildings, so it must have them, so they are building three. It is shit.

The train was sixty feet above the water. I began to see the beaches Pascale told me about, where the rocks meet the sea.
I walked through Carry-Le-Rouet to the next village, the sea was below to the left, the sun was gone, mopeds were about.
I went down a stone staircase to the water, tiptoed across the rocks, found a sandy section, lay down.
The fishermen came out, hollering, with their headtorches pointing out to sea. You couldn't see their faces, they were lights on legs. Shooting stars happened.

It was an orange morning. My back hurt. I went across the rocks, back up the steps, onto the coast road.
The water was clear blue, it showed everything it contained. The sun came up from behind Marseille.
I went through tiny bays with tiny boats, then long stretches of gnarled rock, no flat surfaces, pencil-sized holes in with many-legged thin things scuttling out. Snorkelers close to the shore, no clouds in the sky.
I reached Sainte Croix. Two beaches, a cliff in the middle, cliffs on either side, small, a red and white lighthouse away to the right, a church to the left. I settled, watched the sandy fun, lots of people were out.
I wished I had a book. As good as the Collins Gem French Dictionary is. Something story-like.
Or some headphones. Or two books.
The church had a bell the size of a football and a no-legged Jesus. It was shut.
The cliff-tops had carpets of pine needles and steep springy paths between the bushes. After dark I slept there. The what ifs came.
What if the sea comes in while I sleep and I wake up in Algeria or next to a massive ship or angry tentacled bastard.
What if two people pick me up and throw me off the edge.
What if a hog starts eating my face.
What if it rains and rains and rains.
What if the wind weaves my hair together with the bush.
What if ants find my nostrils delicious.
What if I get pissed on.

The pine needles were very comfortable.

Ship of Fools

It's where he painted Cafe Terrasse. Amongst much else. The café's still there, the terrace too. I went. We had it hanging on the wall, a copy of it, in the kitchen or the hall or the front room, in the first house I lived in. I used to stare at it. I thought it looked quite good.
There are eight other cafés around it now. You still get the picture. I stared at it. It's not a bad place, a leafy square, every house a different colour, flowers jumping out of windows.

Last night the rain attacked. My phone was swimming across the floor and moaning, I'd fallen asleep with the door open, a puddle was trying to sleep with me. I closed the door and moved away from the puddle. In the morning I put on the least wet clothes and turned the nearest tree into a sculpture of all my belongings. People came to look. The sun came out and started drying things.
A notebook was mush. I threw it away, and all the words and addresses and nuggets in it. I'd used a big pen, to fill the pages quicker, to bring a sense of small achievment closer.

One of the churches was full of trees and wooden limbs all pointing up from the floor. Some of them turned into glass tubes halfway up and inside the tubes were smaller worlds. Some of them had been shaped into swords. They were all lit from below.
I left.
Another roundabout. A lot of trucks passed saying sorry.
A small green car slowed down, a woman leaned out, asked where I was going, I shouted south, it stopped. I put my bag in the boot.
There were three of them. Marc and Seb and Chinez or Shainez or Chaynesse. Seb was driving and asking questions I couldn't answer, because I couldn't hear. I told them I was going to the sea, didn't matter where.
-Really doesn't matter?
After ten minutes we stopped to fill up. Seb went to pay. Chinez was talking about living in Paris, the theatres, living on boats. Marc was talking about working for a month then going back to live on a boat, not a normal boat, an eccentric one.
A while went like this. Seb didn't return. We ate brioche, Shainez skinned up. We craned our necks to see if Seb was in the shop or at the till. We couldn't see.
We hummed.
Five more minutes passed.
Marc spoke:
-Maybe he's having a monster shit.
-Or eating in the restaurant.
-Or doing drugs.
The spliff went round the car. Chaynesse started singing Tainted Love, quietly.
-Or kidnapped. You have this in England? Banditos?
-Most of the time no.
-He is lost. Marc, you can ask inside.
-For a man in a yellow t-shirt who disappeared in the toilet?
She laughed.
-Yeah. And get me a can of coke.
He went in. Five minutes passed. We got out of the car, milled around, looked thoroughly at everything there was to look at.
Marc returned, finished the spliff.
-They don't know! There is one cubicle locked, no answer.
We looked around again.
-Maybe he's in the female toilet.
I began to think about saying goodbye and getting another lift.
Then he returned, out of the main doors, we applauded. He was smiling.
We got back in the car and left. Shainez rolled another as they talked. It was something to do with a bank card and a phone call and the manager's office. He was laughing.
It was twenty minutes to Port St. Louis. The spliff went round the car. They talked more about Paris and work and asked where I was from and going and what I wanted to do when I got there. I still wanted to see the sea.
As we pulled into town they asked if I wanted to see the boat.
It was moored on the Rhone, by itself, it was the size of two houses and all the colours except pink.
The main cabin was bright yellow, it had Ship of Fools painted across it, in English, in bright blue Gothic. There was a six foot metal spoon and fork, crossed, at the very front. The mast had antlers on top, driftwood painted white, pointing backwards.
The deck was bottle green, the railings were dark red, the handrails were zebra-striped.
Seb said:
-I'll collect my things. We'll go to the beach in a minute. You want to see inside?
The captain was mahogany. He sat on deck smoking in a turqoise towel. He said hello. There were three other, younger people with him, they went out on bikes. We went down to a huge dark room with a wooden table the length of it in the centre. My eyes adjusted. There was a kitchen in the corner, Chainez pottering, pots and lights hanging from the ceiling, fat books, cushions and incense, brass lamps, maps, cans of paintbrushes, all neat, rugs on the floor.
Up wooden ladders, a bed to the left, a costume wardrobe in the middle, hats everywhere. A corridor to the right, paintings in red and blue and purple all over the ceiling and walls, animals, dreams, symbols, blotches.
Back out onto the deck and up to the cockpit, the bit with the wheel in it, what's it called, yellowing wood over a metal frame, bulbous handles, looking out past the fork and spoon up the Rhone.
-It was built in 1957 and will last for one hundred years.
We went back to the car, Marc stayed on the boat.
Five minutes down a long straight road with wetlands on either side. Marshes maybe, and beyond them a wind farm, and beyond that some giant industry, red and white striped towers, cranes, silos, barges, tankers. Chainez was singing something about gypsies, it was almost speech. Seb was eating a Mr Freeze.
They dropped me at the beach and drove back to their boat.

Avignon to Arles

It was calmer this time. I sat in a park and watched people photograph the sculptures and the church and each other. The pope's old house was across town. I didn't go. I wondered how the current old nazi pope is getting on, with his tour, has it happened yet, has he been arrested by Richard Dawkins.
I took a train to Montpellier. I practised my sleeping man impression and was unbothered by the conductor, if there was one. I remembered to dribble slightly, and twitch.
Montpellier was a cold grey bustle. It was ten past five. Rain was ready. Hotels were expensive. I walked through the end of everyone's working day, queues for everything, roadworks. My bag felt enormous. I got back on the train.
Frontignan sounded alright, it had that gn sound, like Avignon, which is also alright, and Beef Bourgignon, which is tasty. I got off there.
It was an industrial estate surrounded by water, with a bit of old town to bimble round, and plenty of wind to barge through. I bought a bottle of red wine and went back to the station.
It was five minutes down the line to Sete. I didn't bother faking sleep. I thought: How many chances do you get to camp near a backwater industrial estate with an ill wind blowing and a whole horizon to yourself, probably as many as you like, it's not an amazing idea, you don't have to actually go in the direction you're going, it's fine, it's noble, how short is life, not long, and not getting any longer, getting wetter and darker.
I went from the train directly to the other platform to wait for one in the opposite direction. I wished I had a guidebook or three. They'd tell me where not to go. That's why they're good. Why did I ever think it was cool to not have one.
The train back to Montpellier was lively. I dribbled and twitched. As we went out of the station the ticket police stopped the man walking next to me.
It was more appealing with the lights on. I went to an expensive hotel and asked them where a cheaper hotel was. It was round the corner, the hotel Edouard 7, the rain was a bastard, I gave the man some money and went to my room, ate a chicken sandwich, put on some more clothes and went out.
The rain did five minutes on, five minutes off. I felt decent. The O Saloon were doing pints for three fifty. I borrowed a pen.

French keyboards are not designed for the English. They've moved a and m and z and q and apostrophe and comma and full stop. I spend half my typing time pressing backspace. The m is the hardest to overcome, so I'm going to cut down on m usage.

The morning happened. Montpellier has stuff to look at and things to do. I walked around. I decided to go by train to Arles. The train drivers were on strike, or most of them. I waited an hour for a train to somewhere near Arles, where there was a rumour of a bus the rest of the way. I went there, sat at the bus stop, an hour passed, the ten people who got off the train with me gradually went away, as cars pulled up beeping and whooping, and bags were slung in boots, and radios turned up to fuck yeah.
The wind pummeled my face.
A fight started opposite me, across the car park, four or five men doing the about-to-fight dance, in the middle of the road, traffic honking. My bus was nowhere. I walked two kilometres to the next roundabout, then another two to the next one, across sunflower fields, they all had their heads down.
Akim picked me up. His car was all black except for the red seatbelts and he talked very quickly. I responded very slowly and he very generously finished my sentences with words I'd never heard before.
-Rainy times in England?
-Yeah, but it's
-Good women?
-Yeah, they're
-You like French women?
He took his hands off the wheel and stroked an invisible woman.
That was the end of the conversation.
He dropped me outside the walls of old-town Arles. I walked through and around and up and down. It was Van Goghy. I didn't know. I bought his book of letters last year but abondoned it soon after the start because he yelped so much about Jesus and nothing else.
I found a campsite, put the tent up, opened the wine from Frontignan. The sky was clear except for one dark cloud like a sunken ship, with a few more behind it, and as the sun disappeared it started flickering, yellow-white, every few seconds. It carried on for half an hour before any thunder happened.

Ruoms to Avignon

It took a while to properly leave. I packed incorrectly. Two bags is madness. I dragged them to the first roundabout thinking I don't need to be carrying seven shirts, three blank notebooks, two coats, army boots, two different shower gels...I'd forgotten how to move, six straight months, ish, in one place. I didn't have a tent.
The first car that stopped contained two people I already knew. I got in. They took me to their house and gave me lunch and a tent and asked why I had so much baggage. I didn't know.
-I hate baggage.
-There's a metaphor in there somewhere.
I made a bag of unnecessaries and left it under a table.
I walked from their house to Lablachére, it didn't take long, I was knackered and full to the face with sunshine and lunch.
I accidentally walked onto a campsite and gave a man eight euros for the use of some ground.
Paying for camping is not in the plan. But not planning anything is also in the plan. And his site was in the way of the woods I was planning to camp in. He immediately gave me a bunch of grapes and I felt like I hadn't made a bad choice.
I watched Lablachére. It was quiet, I was looked at. Much happened last week, at the fete, some people were refused service and became ultra-disgruntled and drove a car into the middle of the square everyone was dancing in. On the noticeboard is a letter from the mayor, it says paroxysm, unprecedented, barbarism and disgust.

Outside the campsite in the morning was a donkey in the back of a transit van. It was munching a newspaper. Across the road were more, chained up. The market was on. I squeezed through it on my way out of town. Then I squeezed back into it and bought a baguette and sardines and sausages. I started walking towards the sun. There were hills and valleys and trees and something smelled nice.
After however many miles twelve kilometres is I crossed the Chassesac. I sat down on a rock, ate some sausage and some biscuit. Half the trees were almost yellow. Finger-sized fish pointed upstream while brown leaves floated down past them.
A Heron was out, practising Heronry, taking off, landing and being massive.
I got in the river, then out, then in, then out, then sat with just my feet in. The Heron did the same, I'd like to say, but it was out of the way, I couldn't tell.
The river sounded like it was chewing. The shade slid around. I slept.

I walked into Les Vans when I woke up. I had a beer at a table. The Harley Davidson woohoo club were rumbling around town. A small boy was practising crossing the road, on rollerskates. After a few minutes his mother looked up from her drink and saw him, and the queue of vehicles on either side of him, and went over to smash his face off. He stopped where he was and covered his head with his arms. She dragged him to the kerb and put the skates next to a bin. He went back across the road and pondered. She went back to her drink.
I walked out of town the way I came in, to four stone walls surrounding some thorny overgrowth. A path went through a doorway in the back wall. It led to some trees. The ground was brown crunchy leaves. To the right was another doorway to another four roofless walls and some more thorny growth. To the left was the wall of someone's garden. I put my mat down under a tree and used my tent as a pillow. A dog wouldn't shut up. The tree dropped an apple on my shin. The leaves waved in front of the stars. I went to sleep.

After breakfast I walked up a hill overlooking the town and put my thumb out, at the correct angle, and after two minutes a 4x4 stopped.
A grey man opened the door and moved his luggage off the back seat.
-I'd like to go to Montpellier. Or Alés. Or Nimes. Or south.
-Ah. I'm going to Orange.
-Is that south?
-It is the same latitude.
-Okay. Good. I'll go.
His name was Patrice and he was going to work the wine near Orange. His family run a bed and breakfast on a mountain. It's called Stevenson, after RL, he might've stayed there when he wrote his donkey travels, or near there, I couldn't be sure, but I was enthused.
-It's a good book!
-I regarded it recently!
The hills and the grapes and the sunflowers flew past for an hour and he dropped me at a roundabout next to a train track.
-Many journeys here. Good luck!
I was still enthused.
Two minutes later a white car stopped. A blonde woman was at the wheel saying something about documents.
Her name was Pascale and she was going to Avignon so so was I. She was from Algeria and America and France. She was enthused because I said I was from Manchester. Twenty years ago she spent some time there, it's better than London, the bus system is good, and the theatres, the music...
-Yeah it's a great place.
-You live there still?
-Nah I moved out eight years ago
-I didn't like it.
She overtook everyone else.
-We are there in twenty minutes or I am late.
-This is good.
She told me the names of many beautiful places on the south coast. I didn't take any notes. I could feel my brain forgetting.
-You have a guidebook for your journey?
-You should have one, I think.
-I hate guidebooks.
-They tell you where to go.
-They only suggest.
-I don't like their tone.
She said the names of some good guidebooks and dropped me in the centre of Avignon.

Everybody Kurtz

The future is arriving in three days and bringing with it a whopping sense of freedom. It might also be windy. I'm getting a small tent or a jacket with pegs and pitching it in the places between places. I will spend a lot of time with my thumb out, on the side of a road, saying where is the work.
Three more days here and ten of us left. Tents down, poles bundled, pegs bucketed, bins battered. Summer left town one night last week, the next morning the shops stopped doing tourist hours and everyone had lost their flip flops. Brown leaves like baseball gloves, a praying mantis like a young banana with legs and a toad the size of your head. The future running in on cold legs. Interesting, I could write an awful book, or half a quite good one, or nothing at all. It could be like Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, without the donkey, without the Cevennes, 100 years too late.
Work was maybe on a farm in Corsica. But the bloke has been silent.


Someone in the car was saying “at death's door, on death's porch between the umbrellas and the shoes, listening to the kitchen clank and thinking size five's a bit small for a reaper”. We had been caving, six of us, a black road through limestone trees and all we knew was the cave mouth was near a chapel. There was more than one chapel. We didn't find the cave.
So we went to a bar and bought a giraffe. That's what they call those towers of beer with a tap at the bottom. You put it on the table and serve yourselves. I've only seen them in Thailand. They don't seem very French. We got some funny looks.
Not finding the cave is a part of caving. Like not catching the fish is a part of fishing. Probably. I hate fishing. I like sitting next to rivers doing nothing. At least we had a car and the sky looked good.
I went to the Big Tourist Caves last week. So big they have conferences in them. Though it must be hard to confer, with all the reverb muddying things up. Weddings, too. Anyway, astounding. I recommend it, if you like to look at things and to be in places. You can find it using the signposts and the internet.
I was there with a couple of families, to to them and fro them, and on the way back I mentioned wanting to be more of a writer and less of a not-quite-a-writer. It was a rare instance of admitting that I'm not what I want to be. She said why not change the names of the people you meet and write about them on the internet, like that police officer from a while ago. And I thought: nah. But then: alright.
So her name was Betsy Cavalcade and she was a frizzy mother of one and worked for the police as an abbreviation. I pretended to understand what she stood for, as I'd never heard of it. Her child was vague and quietly violent and she said there's always one and it's usually mine. After that there was silence, during which I felt very lucky to be childless and said yeah I must get that vasectomy booked. The windows were open and the breeze was torrential and my words were blown onto the road.
Betsy talked more about the police and departments and downsizing and the kids talked about swimming pools. There were two other parents in the car and they were laughing, or not, I don't know because my ears were full of wind.
I dropped everyone back at their tents and went for dinner, which was protein in sauce, with things on the side. During the meal I discussed sarcasm with one of the voices in my head. Sarcasm and cynicism and sneering, fear of sincerity, not brave enough to be vulnerable, that kind of thing. It's one of the lesser voices, hasn't really developed yet, so it agreed with everything I said. Pathetic, kind of, I told it so and it shrank to nothing. Really I'd prefer it to work against me like the others, but they're all on holiday at the minute. I don't know where. Local. They've never been to the south of France. So there's an awful peace, nudged occasionally by murmurs in another language that seem to be saying things like I might see The Sorcerer's Apprentice later, but then again it has Nicolas Cage in it.
I’ve been moved from a tent now and not up or down but side-graded into a haunted caravan with a south-facing quarry and a room just for spiders and a view of three moons, two of which are on sticks attached to the earth and unmovable while the other one cheesewheels and thumbnails in the usual manner.
There’s a green L-shaped bed and a fan and no bother. It’s a reward for something. I should share it.
Not long is left. It’s gone well and will go well. We eat many buttered sponges. There’s a shortage of everything else.
I went to knot school and could now tie one with my arse if necessary. I need to at the top of the tower, which people in harnesses climb up so I can clip them to a rope and kick them off. I’ve stopped doing the involuntary dance that made me appear less than fully comfortable with the situation. We tell them it’s not that bad and they get to the top and their knees turn green and they step off and leave their stomachs behind. After everyone’s had a go they gather at the bottom and I throw the stomachs back down thirty feet into their gobs.

Chinese Cheese

A serious beer, they call it, and it’s almost a pint and almost never on the menu and you have to ask for it twice. Normal unserious beers are served in glass thimbles and only good for quenching. This isn’t a complaint. I’ve been trying to write a story in my head, for a while, to save on paper, about this bald woman and her three-legged pug and a bar where it rains indoors. It’s impossible, but I read about a big serious Spaniard who once wrote his book in only two weeks because he’d already written it “in his soul” or possibly “on” his soul, so all he had to do when he sat down at the typewriter was copy. And I’m lacking a soul and the tools to write on one, but this woman and her pug keep leaning in while I go about my business. And I don’t know what they want. And it really does rain in this bar, by the doorstep, they have one of those misting systems, to soothe your being, but it’s faulty and drips a lot.
I went and talked to them, and the dog said nothing throughout, but cleared its throat a few times, and the woman was baritone and glinting. Her cancer was long gone but she’d kept “the dome” on display because “you make friends better this way”. The mister needs fixing but its “no urgency. Some people come for the drips.” The pug was no story. It was born with three legs and seems to enjoy itself. She shares it with her friends. It was never chewed by traffic. It knew before she did. About the cancer. It kept looking sad and nudging her and leaving medical leaflets in the bathroom. I don’t know if she was joking. So they caught it in time, and the pug was the first thing she saw when she woke up, she thought she must’ve fallen asleep at the vet, until she looked down.
It was very warm. I wanted to say “the sun has our pants down and is turning us into hot ruins.” The thermometers had wilted and the clouds were in the gutters and the mannequins were happy about this. They line both sides of the street for a quarter of a mile. Red lipstick, high eyebrows and shrieking hair. Ecstatic to be wearing clothes. The woman hates them. She is moving out, maybe. To write a book, a short one, a dose of something. She paid for my beer and said she had to go.
The afternoon was flat, sat by the river following the shade. White people were in the water, moving rocks, arranging the flow into narrow slowly-rushing channels for inflatable super-happy funtime. All down the river, wherever there’s a beach, there’s also an arrangement in the water, and an inflatable thing going down it with a person on top. And on the banks are some people you wish would show less, and some more, and sometimes a rope swing and a cave and a rock to jump off and fish between your toes.

Hoof Hoof

Asleep in the duty hutch dreaming horses I woke up to two of them looking through the open windows and I went whuh and they trotted off in the direction of everyone else. Which was troubling because although I am not a horse-wrangler I supposed I was supposed to make them leave. So I got out of bed and followed, and they were blurry and brown and part mammoth. And hungry. So I didn’t get close. And the whole camp was sleeping and I thought probably the best thing to do is not startle them into galloping over a marquee and chewing some child’s shins off. So I kept my distance and sent my thoughts out to them. And my thoughts returned with the message: GESTURES. So I moved round to where they could see me and waved my hands at them like they were vans. But they just stared and chewed and went further from the exit. They live up the road and I walk past them twice a day and I hoped I hadn’t accidentally invited them round to watch the sun rise. They were acting so welcome.
I woke up someone who isn’t allergic to horses and pointed at the horses and said is this unusual? And they said let them eat and they will go away. And I did and they did. And the following day was another green boiler full of screaming kids and I fell asleep in a hot hammock at 5pm.
Before the horses I’d been up all night with someone else’s face waiting for a diagnosis at the post-fiasco retina shop. It came over the phone and was good. Or do I mean prognosis, or both. We’d thought the victim might be losing a retina because of the wet red mess where their eye used to be. And the doctor saying the retina might be detached. But it was just wolf-crying and they were sent home with eye-drops and opiates and a list of things to do to the eye which included putting a grain of rice in there. Waiting for all this took a mountain of time and before the drive back I had to wire my mind to the moon to keep my lids up. So I had a cold can of muck and when I got back in the shed I could feel the brain jittering around in its holder, sweating thoughts through the third eye and murmuring how can a fizzy drink be so ruinous.

The Monster Traverse

I'm emailing farmers. For September. I speak Google. I will perform tasks and my reward will be slow Frenchification plus knowledge of self-sufficiency. These are the reasons I gave the agency when they asked why do you want to do this, why, come on, why, really. I missed out "not wanting to go back to a country now ruled by chubby blue scum", because it's partially my fault that that scum has risen (sorry), because I didn't immediately register a proxy when the polling card arrived, because I was busy doing fuck all, then when I was away and trying to phone-register they always had a problem with the computer, or it was the wrong hour or day, and now we've got five years.
Across the street is a carousel of withered white horses with no one on them, and that carousel tune [Who gets the royalties?] is playing. It really symbolises something. Besides the death of the things-spinning-round industry. What happens to carousel attendance during a recession? [It goes round and round?] (A lot of brackets are happening today, to stop the words blowing away in the wind)...(...if words could blow away in the wind, which ones would you find in the gutter?) [Well maybe there'd just be a jumble of letters becoming mush or being swept into piles and burned] (This is an old idea) [Is it though?] (Yes) [Yeah I agree] (It's probably in The Phantom Tollbooth anyway) [I could imagine so. That's a good book] (I agree) [Good] (Great) [Right] (Well then) [On with the story] (There isn't one) [Something about politics and carousels?] (It was waffle) [I'm sure I saw a thread and the start of an analogy] (Really?) [Well they were far was hard to tell] (Pigeons are spitfires from the right distance and angle) [Bollocks] (You know what I mean) [Likewise] (Touché) [Is that French?] (Think so) [A new story then] (Alright. Last night I climbed up a rock and there was an amazing view and nobody died. The end) [That it?] (Yeah. What more do you want?) [Romance] (I licked the rock on the way up) [And mild peril] (My knee bled) [Moral dilemmas] (I had biscuits but didn't offer them round, knowing that there wouldn't be enough for everyone) [That's not a dilemma] (I try) [I can see] (The end) [Good] (Thanks for nothing) [Have you got any others?] (They're in bits) [What's the last line you wrote?] (I am peeved) [Nobody says that] (Well it amused me) [Well it's shit] (That's mean) [That's me]


It's happened. It's horrible. Here.

A Cumec or Two

It's floody with a chance of sun. It's raining in your pants and the lightning gets behind your eyelids and the thunder punches your ballbag and some people's feet have rotted off, you can see them at the edges of puddles like white toads.
The sky needs putting back together. There's a tree at the bottom of the weir turning over and over and shards of it are being washed down brownstream. Lidl is out of socks and the carpenter is out of arks. The snakes are here too. It's Biblemania. I nearly unintentionally strimmed one. It went straight down into the earth and was never heard from again. It must've known about The Imminent Inspection. Champion strimmers have been flown in for a five day orgy of wet destruction. There must be no long grass or other hazard within fifty metres of any tent. The inspector will spend the day trudging the perimeter in flip-flops and if he so much as stubs his toe he'll bury the campsite and ban us all from France for life. It's tomorrow. Tenterhooks are being issued and as soon as we find out what they are we'll all be on them. But the internet's been washed away and the dictionary of idioms is up shit creek.

That Hat

There's a Europe-wide shortage of coaches-with-beds-instead-of-seats. But we're here, and the sun's everywhere and the grass is going mental. Half the kids were ill on the first day, and some of the adults too, and Jackson Pollock had been through the bogs and there was a quarantine-the-infected / sanitise everything situation. It was save yourself for a while and the pale were shunned, along with the coughers and the sneezers and the woozy.
Everyone is a fruitball, a batcake or a sneaky nut. There's plenty of rock to go up. So "things" are "going well". Flip-flops are going on frequently. It's the end of week one and everyone's having a bit of a drink so they can get to know each other and maybe later their faces can get to know each other's faces or the floor. I am on stay-sober-in-case-terrible-things-happen duty due to being late to morning meeting due to massive clock failure due to unnoticed battery outage. The number one rule is don't be late because this is what happens. It's a bit of a shame as I like the occasional twenty drinks. But I have the secret cashew stash and the Belgian chilli tortillas. The results are in and the winner is yourself.
The site is between two rivers and next to an airstrip for all your smuggling needs. If you were going to smuggle something it would be bacon. The doom-cloud has gone, so don't delay. I can send you the co-ordinates, or you could just keep an eye out for a hundred and twenty tents and a lot of exceptional behaviour.

The Gone Tomorrows

Lucy suggested writing a story on a beer mat. I went to a pub. There were no beer mats. I read most of Bill Drummond's book $20 000. It was good. I drank three beers. The man next to me at the bar asked if the book was good. I said it was fucking brilliant. We talked about the KLF and burning a million quid, then nailing ten thousand quid to a board and framing it and selling it for more or less than ten thousand quid, whatever it is they did. We both were a bit blurry on the specifics. But admirers. I didn't tell or ask him about stories or beer mats. He was very friendly or deranged. I was very friendly or deranged also. The bloke from Elbow was next to us at the bar. I bet he's written a few things on beer mats. Maybe that's why there were none. I didn't ask. He's none of my business.
If a beer mat was there I would've written something tight and delicious in one take with no crossings-out, then left it to get soggy and crumpled, and within a week I'd've forgotten exactly what the words were and I'd spend the following year trying to recapture them, and if anyone asked so what do you write? I'd say beer mats, mainly, you know, it's a bit niche and best viewed through the bottom of a glass.

Pick Up Nuts and Pop To The Pound Shop

The word scranige rhymes with damage and vanish, sort of, and means food and twelve years ago it was everywhere. We shortened it to scran, or fat scran for when there was more than you could eat, which for me was all the time since I used to have a shrew's bladder instead of a stomach and it was ages before I found a proper human belly on the NHS. There was a rapid transplant after the donor perished in a pineapple-juggling fiasco and when I woke up I had the uncomfortable sensation of digesting someone else's meal. There was a support group to cope with the adjustment and you should've heard the rumbling. Sometimes sea-lions popped up at the window and asked us to keep the noise down. They thought they were so superior.

Clusterbobbins 2010

28 days left in the race between doddering old ghoul and young blue menace. A reset button is begging to be pressed. I'll be away on the big day. I'm going to sell my vote and put the money on the greens getting at least one seat.
The papers are full of what might happen, what might happen if what could happen happens, what happens if what is happening continues to happen, and what happened in the past when what might've happened did happen, though a lot of people said it wouldn't, while fearing that it would. There isn't a lot of news.
Apparently the voting cards will have just two boxes: one for wrist deep and one for up to the elbow. The man on the last train home told me so. I called him a cynic. He said sinner mate, sinner. Fair enough. Yes, he said, and another thing you young shiny bollock: I used to have liquid light for brains, but in order not to dazzle people I had a dimmer switch installed, and now the knob's popped off and to buy another one I only need an extra 20p, have you got 20p?

That's Nice Dear

A narcoleptic phone is barely any use. It won't be coming wih me to the land of the lunch break. I got back a week ago and go forward in two. I will be spending a lot of time in the cave and phones are inappropriate there. You can get right up to the bats while they sleep and they don't seem to mind but probably you shouldn't do this too often.
While I'm away there'll be a disastrous election. And the new government will not let me back in for being too foreign and I'll be forced back to the Calais roadside ditches trying to jump onto lorries bound for ferries like those people we saw when we went there. It looked slightly dangerous. It's a good thing I just learned first-aid in a day. Call me doctor. Get your finger off that 9, I can bandage your head wounds and leave you in a position ideal for both breathing and vomiting. If you're a bit dead I can cardio-wallop you until the electric pads arrive. Why they didn't drill this into us at school I do not know. They do in Seattle and now people go there just to have heart attacks.
I missed the deadline for the Bristol story prize, which is a shame because this year I was definately going to come first, second and third. I'd only written one thing though, about a man who thinks the newspaper is his life story, ish, and then I got called away to Phrance at very short notice, and writing in the outdoors is difficult, and where we were the outdoors featured heavily, so I didn't have a chance to write the one about the woman who can't control her own face or the one about the man with no genitals whatsoever.
I did have time to read the SAS handbook and Callgirl. Both were good.


I suggested someone draw a dodo and they did do. This is very pleasant.

Tuna Club

I lost a quite good thing. I'd scratched it into some bark with a fingernail. Bark is plentiful since we're murdering all the trees. For safety. They've done nothing yet. But the obese ones could fall onto our tents and skulls if the wind gets pushy.
Obviously we've tried putting them on diets. Special K for breakfast and milkshakes for dinner and 99 pushups at noon and all that. But before you can change you have to want to change, apparently, even if you're a tree. And they just wanted to carry on warping themselves. So we chainsawed their arms off and crippled their trunks and yanked them to the ground with a tractor and butchered them where they lay. Naturally we turned the good bits into stools. A foot of snow came and covered up the rest. It'd been on the weather forecast for a week but we still managed to not expect it.

Unbelievable Sir

It's only minus nine so keep your moaning silent, ninnypants, and get on with what you've got to be getting on with. Alaskans wear t-shirts in this weather and start thinking about what flip-flops to buy when it reaches zero. And it keeps your thoughts fresh and stops your mind stinking. Makes it slower maybe, but weren't you tired of it clattering around up there all morning while you were trying to get some work done?


That squib with the hair products is regional manager now. And he needs me to sharpen up.
He was born eighteen months after I was. And the cast of the film of his life is small. But their roles are rigid.
The soundtrack is jangy-jangy la-la shit-foam. And there is little scope for DVD extras.


For the last nine years I've kept a daily diary of my feelings. Here it is:

Nothing yet.


Obviously it's quite small so I can take it with me everywhere. I don't go everywhere, though, ever. Usually I go here and there and somewhere else and the overall effect equals going nowhere fast.
Some people I know are going places. They tell me a monkey could do my job. I tell them a monkey does do my job. And he's my boss. And he uses his pointy Italian shoes to highlight my errors.


Tarpaulin Sky are accepting submissions and I submitted a post-something bleaklarious joke/poem about a man who is held down by unknown hands whilst a caterpillar full of doom crawls up his arse and afterwards he finds living a normal life slightly difficult. This actually happened to me in a dream, [actually happened to me in a dream, know what I mean? Deeeep...] and it lent the following day an enjoyable heaviness, like being pregnant with a balloon full of black sick.
Soon I'll be able to show you two things I wrote for a niche online publication for specialists and enthusiasts of esoteric vigorous pursuits not suitable for everyone. In the meantime thanks for reading and do you like owls? Do you like Elvis? Then I'll meet you at the Hootbreak Hotel! Fuck!
[I was going to put in a picture of Owlvis, but I can't find the right one. It seems that just like The King, there are several.]

Or Ignore It

I went south on a train recently. I wanted to see the sun. I hear it's nice. I spotted it after the train left Stoke. It was in the sky, doing what I believe is called "shining down". The journey was from then on very agreeable, except that every train station displayed pictures of Iggy Pop, selling insurance against a purple background, everywhere. And they made me wish for a national insurance policy that prevents your icons appearing on TV and on poster and in paper to sell you something. It could be called The National Whip-Round For Pioneers, or something snappier, and nobody would object, because we can now use The Iggies as an example of the preventable horrors.
Written next to his face in yellow is a slogan, different depending on the poster. I've forgotten what they are and am unwilling to look them up. But I was disappointed to not see one that'd been corrected with things he actually said in a good year, like 1977. I'm pretty sure most Iggy fans don't own cans of spray paint. I don't but it might be worth getting one to write the following next to his face:

I'm not sorry I was ill. Everyone gets ill sometimes and I was ill one evening and as I felt I was going to vomit anyway I thought I may as well do it with some style.

What sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise is in fact the brilliant music of a genius...myself.

Have you ever felt like that? When you just couldn't feel anything and you didn't want to either?

I feel very strongly about what I do...and it's not all that good.

What did Christ really do? He hung out with hard-drinking fishermen.

What do we do with a life of work? Face it in the morning.

We Are Very Happy

If it was puzzling you, we are sorry. It wasn't meant to go on so long. It was meant to display courtesy, sympathy and taste. Like in the song. We didn't want to get it all over your t-shirt. But if you're going to insist on parading it around, the least you could is shut up about it.


While I wake up there's a voice in my head speaking a language I don't understand. Every morning so far this year it has said the same thing. It wants me to learn what it is saying and say it. It knows my life would be pineapples and thunder if I could say this thing. Then I wake up fully and it goes away.

On the news today underneath a picture of a grey-haired man feeding a dog were the words EXAM CHEATING.

Easy Life Top Beats

It's half past bollocks on the millionth of January and all the headlines end with question marks. Hunger's turned up unexpectedly. It's odd how they put the food court next to the seafood hall. When you open your mouth for the pizza or the pad thai the fish wriggle off their stalls and float up your face-holes, shaking ice-flakes to the floor. A hundred tiny puddles and not one yellow cone. Outside it's brighter and people walk past by themselves. A man is bothering a bus stop. The stop has people in it and the man is on a two-step ladder and is making loud Jesus-based noise with his mouth. Someone walking past points at the ladder and goes hey is that a stairway to heaven? The bus stop chuckles and a thigh is slapped.
A white van approaches. Black string is trailing from its back doors and at the end of it is a black glove. It's waving at the sky and tickling the trees and removing hats. The man has his back to it. When it passes him, the glove grabs his neck, drags him off his ladder and forty feet to the corner before it lets him go.

The Healthy and Tasty Nuts Give You A Joyful and Happy Moment

Tuesday night blank time. We should've all been home making things.
The trees who didn't make it through the auditions for the part of Treebeard in Lord of the Rings were sat opposite us in the corner. The pub was hushed. The windows were dribbling and the toilets were spacious. The three trees were rustling and grumbling. I thought we could bond over our shared un-love of Lord of the Rings. Book or film. Something to do with it being very dull.
We were drinking beer brewed in oak pyramids. It was said to have benefits. You couldn't taste the geometry, but it made everything you tasted afterwards taste amazing. For a while. It was the opposite of toothpaste. That was the quote on the bottom of the label: "The opposite of toothpaste!". Not everyone loved it. It was new. It was fighting hard. We were enjoying some sesame snaps from a zip-loc bag.
The trees were drinking it too. I thought it might be a way in.
Nice beer you're drinking, I said, on my way back from the toilet.
No it isn't, replied the middle one. He was old. He had transparent teeth.
What is it then?
Not nice?
No. Decent.
The other two trees looked at me and raised their twiggy eyebrows. The one on the left pulled a leaf from his nose, scrunched it up and threw it on the floor. I thought he might spit. Can trees spit? I asked him.
You mean like hoick-pwff?
No we can't. Too dry.
I thought you pumped loads of water round all day.
We do. It gets used up. We're efficient.
No seepage?
No seepage.
That seemed to end the conversation. I went back to my friends. A hiss followed me.
We were wondering why tasty is a good thing and smelly and touchy are bad things and sighty and soundy are non-existent.
Go and tell those trees that they're sighty and soundy, said one of us.
No, you do it, said another one of us. It went on.
They're a bristly bunch.
What'll we learn?
Actually there's unsightly, isn't there.
But not sightly.
Not even slightly.
Quite shitely.
They're staring at us now.
They might come over and loom.
We can't have that.
Shall we offer them a sesame snap?
They don't eat.
Why've they got mouths then?
To be gobby with.
Like us.
We finished our pints and sauntered out. A couple of leaves wafted after us.

Must Haven'ts

Simple things followed simple things until an effect was produced. The effect was a bit boohoo. The things were manufactured torrentially and distributed in battalions and dressed in gowns and left in places where people might pick them up and buy them. After a while a sticker was added to the front of them and people almost couldn't not buy them. Eventually so many people had bought them and talked about them that anyone who hadn't bought them felt sick at the thought of doing so, because everywhere they looked they saw people with them, and in the other direction was a bright animated advert for them, and in the papers were discussions of them and of the people who owned and were talking about them, or hadn't yet bought them but planned to or hadn't yet bought them and did not plan to, because of all the hectoring and boofboof.
There were attempts to turn the things into a film. The first one failed because of weather and no money. The second one failed because of two deaths and no money, but raw noisy footage exists. The third attempt is being made in secret, by a web of people who know how to keep secrets secret.

It Was Nice To See You Even Though I Couldn't See

Glenn wants an employee. The pay will be very little. The hours will be any or all. The position will be Junior Copywriter. The advert was on Gumtree. He doesn't want a CV or references or experience. He wants some words that will make him want to buy a suit, plus two samples.

Hello Glenn. Here's the r you missed out of the advert you posted on Gumtree:
You're welcome. And now you want me to sell you a suit. Well, I only have one, Glenn, and it's completely different to the one the average Londoner wears. Even the one the above-average Londoner wears. And as for what the below-average wear: I don't know any below-average people. Do you? I can't recall ever having known any. Not back in the day or here in the other day. Everyone I know is consantly on the verge of breaking through into exactly what they want to do, while in the meantime doing something that's nothing like the thing they want to do but preferable to doing something worse, or a little bit like the thing they want to do and the financial reward compensates for the lack of spiritual reward. Some people would call that Accepting The Lowest Bid For Your Soul, but I'm not so sure. I know one future rock musician who sweeps the gutters with his face every weekend, completely voluntarily. You know how chunky those gutters can get, Glenn. There's nothing I admire more than selflessness. That's why I'm doing you the gargantuan favour of letting you know about this suit.
When you wear it, it inspires people to do more with their lives. They are not aware that the suit is affecting them. They are only aware that something is compelling them to take that first step, the first step they always picture as a leap when in fact it's only a hop or a turn. It becomes unignorable the very moment you walk past, wearing this suit, and they spend the rest of their lives wondering who to thank. It's you, Glenn. You or whoever buys it. You will be the walking opposite of a catastrophe. And the best part is: No one will ever acknowledge you. At all! You will get absolutely no thanks whatsoever. Not even by accident.
I am offering it today because I am soon going to be living in a place where there are no people. We can't have it lying in an unused smudge on my floor, can we?
And why aren't I giving it away?
Well, galactic travel is very expensive, Glenn. But I only need another ninety nine pounds to secure my ticket. If you're not going to be the next owner of this suit, I know a man called Branson who's very keen on giving it a trial run.
Let me know anytime.



Rejoice Yourself Raw

At last I'm employed in a brewery. I knew it: I kept having dreams about boozy mischief and I'd wake up smelling of alcohol, gently sweating. How'd you explain that?
I'm in the canteen, being what some people would call a food service assistant, but anyone with any sense would call a dinnerlady. It's simple work and I don't have to talk, so I can leave my brain in the fridge and think about nothing at all. The disappointing thing is that there's no 24-hour batch-testing hall where everyone gets shitfaced and vomits their pain away like they must've done in the olden days (the sixties). The other disappointing thing is that we are paid entirely in Pounds Sterling instead of Pints Heineken. It must've been a laugh-a-minute at one time, because half the men are so very miserable now. Some of them seem to perk up after breakfast, which makes things worse for the ones who've worked there longer than I've been alive.
One of my fellow dinnerladies thought that I couldn't tell the difference between hash browns and beans and very helpfully pointed at the beans and said there's the beans. Sometimes I forget, though, and carefully place one or two beans on someone's plate next to the bacon and hand it back to them and they laugh and say I think you need to go to breakfast boot-camp.

If You Are Dazzled, Slow Down or Stop

Unlike most humans, I cannot stop achieving. Last year I ticked more boxes than you hated Mondays. Every day I lost the battle against success. Victory followed me everywhere like gloom follows doom and eventually I was the first person to appear on the cover of every magazine in WH Smiths in the same month. The Smiths in the train station, mind, not the new one.
The pinnacle of my achievments was the horse I made out of pastry. Vegan pastry, which is hard to get right, you know, especially on such a large scale. As large as the shirehorse I modelled it on. I rode it through town on a Saturday morning in May so that everyone could tell how humble I was when I donated it to the local bakery that was going out of business until I rode in.
By the end of the day, there was nothing left of the horse but the blue plastic hooves, which the staff now use as hats.

The Kind Of Thing That Happens In Those Parts

The disco tree came back. Your standard Oak hulk, alone on a small hill, lit from the trunk to the tip of every branch by those electric rainbow-cables they have nowadays. Are they fibre-optic or just fancy fairy-lights? Wrapped tightly and plugged into I don't know what. That special outdoor electricity you get round Christmas.
We gathered, about thirty of us, cold and dancing, drinking from cans and bottles and a hip-flask was being passed around, and when you drank from it your face turned inside out. There were some drums and oil barrels and things to hit them with, and the people hit them and we moved while the lights on the tree pulsed purple and red. It looked like one of those fish that live in the earth's core. They know how to have a good time, those fish. Have you seen the series where Attenbrough goes through the centre of the earth? It's worth a look. Pretty soon everyone had texted everyone else and there were people all over the hill covered in light and a very tall cockney woman said fuck me that tree's going chicken oriental. The branches at the top were all shades of red and the thicker ones were going from white to blue and back again. It was like that scene in that film where there's a few people in a place and they all seem to be having a good time.
The fireworks started then. It must've been five to twelve, and our attention turned from the tree to the sky and the things bursting in it. Also, someone on the ground had fireworks, not very well-positioned, and occasionally they screamed past our heads. But no one seemd too bothered. Except the tree, which as you might know is the jealous and attention-seeking sort. Our heads were all turned away from it for about ten minutes, and when we started trying to get it going again, after the fireworks had gone from booming to popping, it had turned a solid shade of dark grey. Someone tried to hug it and slightly burnt their face on the lights.
There was a lull, then the very tall cockney woman said hang about, why don't we try turning it off and fucking on again?
But we couldn't find the switch. Or the plug, or any kind of power cable at all. And by that time we'd ran out of drink, so everyone walked down the hill to the pub for tequila.