Built-in Stick

One seventy-nine.
Is it?
Is late night price.
Round corner they charge two.
It must be Christmas.
Like gangster. But queues for it.
I'll get you a queue.
They scared to come.
You seem quite friendly.
Is bad area. Students get hat punched.
That's terrible.
I try make peace. I lose courgettes. What can I do?
You can give me the penny.
So I can start saving for next time.
Sorry. Because conversation.
It's okay, it's okay.
I think sometimes not well.
Me too.
Have a good night.
I have.
In your home now.
I'll try. There's a mouse though.
Oh fucking shit.
I'm worried it wants to sleep with me.
You need trap. You send it to God.
I'm trying to attract a cat.
You have a good night.

Quite Some Rush

I am ferociously excited to announce a big new thing:

A 16-page book and 7" record package, being a three-voiced written, illustrated, soundtracked-and-jackanoried seasonal story, entitled Tinselsnakes and featuring the vocals of B. Dolan, the music of Buddy Peace, and the illustrations of Sarah Inkymole Coleman.

Right now the audio's a free download, and as soon as someone punches the big green button in the pressing plant, the whole package'll be available, for yourself and your friends and your children's children's children, etc.

The website is here. It has details.

The people if y'didn't know:

B.Dolan did this about houses and this about names.

Buddy Peace did this about Tom Waits and this about pudding.

Sarah did this about To Kill A Mockingbird and this about Copper Gone.

I've admired all these people for years and it's amazing to hear and see what they did with the words.

As soon as the whole thing's available I'll crash a foghorn into your life. Until then enjoy the audio and thanks and thanks again for your time.

Great Satan's Sunday

We missed the bridge's birthday. There was a competition, nine billion years ago, to design it, and when the person who wanted to win the most didn't win, he gently suggested the judges reconsider their verdict, then won. Some money might've changed hands. This is either speculation or what happened. I did all my research years ago, in five minutes, on a hungover visit to the bridge's then-new informative shed, consider all this unverified, as per, I never let my conclusions get hoodwinked by the truth. And I'm more of a tunnels man, anyway, but they're much harder to spot, and tend not to celebrate their zero years with explosive flamboyance.
We were fifty corners away hearing the fireworks while watching the people watch the TV. I like watching the people watch the TV. There should be a show where you watch people do the crossword. There should be an advert that if we're going to have to see it four times in an hour is different every time. There should be a publicly-funded broadcaster that doesn't spend all day advertising a Bond film. 

The Mechanics of Collective Consultation

[spare me the specifics] it's basically March tomorrow, which is when the contract ends, which is why I'm tobogganing through the application process in a slightly dishonest helmet, hoping at the end there'll be a lake of gold or at least a [if you say sandwich one more time on this thing I'm cancelling my subscription and giving you a taste of my fist (is it possible what you think is a lack of imagination is really a focus?) I, if it was a focus, no, I'm not getting into this, a focus would be a great help, in most of your areas, you could admit that, in your applications, when they ask for your most appealing lack, though you'd have to doff the helmet, as it were, which'd be dangerous, while you still don't know what's at the end of the chute] bucket of hot peanuts with my name on it. The walls of the chute are festooned with rejection notices, slightly like tube station escalator adverts minus the electric hyperbole. It's good to have something to look at.

Okay But We'll Have To Discuss

Here is what to do on Monday December 1st in Leicester: See Buddy Wakefield in a large old bright arcade. He's been on tour for the past three hundred days. He'll big you up. He'll redeem all your coupons and put diamonds in your cupboards. He has lasers for eyes.
Local support will involve three voices voicing a three-voiced thing I wrote. I can't be there to see this happen but I am excited about it and maybe you can go instead and tell me how it went, please, thanks.
Buddy is also in Bristol on December 3rd at The Birdcage, and most of the other places in the UK afterwards. Have a look at the tour. See him. He's good.

Less To Go Wrong

I went to Liverpool to learn more about how to help people respond to failures in managerial procedure. Fleetwood Mac were playing as I wrote notes in a modern wood/pork boozer on the following. [Jesus, you write notes for these things -  yes - and then type them up, later - yes - that's a lot of effort - not really - for not very much - yes]. If I had to introduce a fictional musical accompaniment that embodied the concept of error, I thought, it would be them, but luckily, unhappily, there they already were. One of the two other customers loudly asked me and the bar staff if we thought he gave a shit. About anything. My no was lost beneath that song about going your own way's insufferably well-recorded slop. The other of the two other customers was saying vacate, vacate. Vacate, vacate. It was possible that both these people were finally taking a stand against the cultural atrocities regularly delivered by this band, who I feel've lately, and also my whole life, been lurking amongst almost every public playlist, like hairs in a sandwich, which people tell you you're overreacting to when you spit them out, either through a lack of good judgement, or the wish to appear different, and both of these are things you will outgrow eventually, until, like the rest of everybody, you will admit that before this group came along, the entirety of human musical endeavour was undeniably lacking a pinnacle, and you will then start ordering sandwiches that consist entirely of hair, for delivery, nightly, to your plateau of refinement, for you to enjoy with a straight face and the usual vague but persistent thoughts about getting something done someday, so it's no use insisting that the thought of this band induces panic, the sight of them induces nausea, and the sound of them induces terminal emphysema, because you'll be like all the rest of us soon enough, us for whom not a hint of insincerity could come anywhere near our professions of love for these gutsy and melodic leviathans, and [you should've stopped at emphysema, we think - alright - there's a distinct negative bias to this whimsical bile that seems quite unwarranted - that's all I've got - right, but, please, onward, to more pressing matters].
I did a radio show the other week you can listen to here. There's nothing wrong with it.

Manual Handling

Would you mind, I said, at all, if I have a listen to your conversation so if it's any good I can reproduce it when I sit down later and try to think of something interesting to write about, which is certainly not the best way to proceed, I know, if proceeding's what you want to do, in that particular realm, but bad habits do drown thrashing, as they say, don't they, or something, almost, or I've failed once again to seize clarity by the arse, and to turn this lack to my advantage, which, I'm led to believe, is a trick I ought to be able to dazzle myself with, regularly, by now, much like I dazzle myself whenever I discover I've left the house in clothing appropriate to the season, and carrying all the items I might want or be required to produce, to boot, which is about sixty percent of the time, I'd say, if pressed, under oath, or exactly one hundred percent, if asked by an online form to list the behaviours and preferences that might help my application, for the position of vacillating supplicant, to the virile and delicious institution of whoever's offering me a bit more money or sanity, they don't half corkscrew deep these days, these application forms, you know, it's no longer enough just to say you own an alarm clock and your carpal tunnels are peachy keen, they want to know what kind of thoughts you're trying to avoid and how successful you've been in doing that, though I don't spose you need to hear that from me.

Fine, I'll Tell Him

Some people don't use the underpass on the way to work. They don't save any time by doing this. It's large and arena-like, with indirect paths, but on the roads above they have to wait for a gap in 40mph traffic, and get through it without the help of stop signs or pedestrian pomp. There's a story going round I haven't heard.

A man rapped his head off right in front of us. It tumbled to the front of the stage and was picked up and passed, rhyming the whole time, between three hundred pairs of hands raised high in disbelief. His body stayed onstage in a floor-length black gown, shimmying and jerking with a microphone held to its neck.


I requested and paid for a piping hot sandwich and the man said I'll bring it to you and I sat down. I read the paper given away on raining morning corners by the evangelical ponchos who've lately begun unzipping my coat and tucking it under my armpit while saying paper, paper, paper, you will not live without this news. And you get it indoors and it's three-quarter page adverts for slightly larger phones and pictures of professional disgraces with incomprehensible teeth.
The sandwich didn't appear. I put the paper back on the shelf and tilted my head at the man. He asked if I was the man with the sandwich and I wanted to say no, I'm the man without the sandwich, my popping up here with an angled head ought to make that fairly clear, wouldn't you say, but I just said yes. He said he looked everywhere for me. I told him I was starving to death, and he threw four pound coins one by one at my face, screaming well here's your bastard money back you filthy haddock. I couldn't help thinking his response was disproportionate, and was reassured by the next day's free paper, which contained news of his protracted and gloopy end-of-shift kidnapping, opposite a full-page advert for a better kind of water.


I get emails from Honda. They're glad I bought one, and eager to know if I'm also glad I didn't spend the money on something else, like a degree I might actually use, or a small holiday on an unmapped island, or enough sardines and gas masks to last through what's coming. I haven't read any of these emails, only guessed what they want from their titles and first lines. I don't need to get any more involved in the life of the person they're intended for, who isn't me, who lives a few thousand miles away under a similar name and nearly identical email address. I've been sent his friend or business associate's vacation snaps, featuring a baseball stadium in China with directions and a let me know what you think when you get there. I responded saying I keep telling you people I'm not him, though Google has a little pop-up flag that insists I'm in the intended recipient. I've been invited to urgent-sounding seminars and asked what I thought of the synagogue last week. Now it's a needy car dealer and a Chinese baseball nerd. And I don't want to tell Google it's lying when it says all my messages are for me, in case this either triggers a global knowledge crisis or it says it just doesn't care, try telling someone and see if they believe we could ever make a mistake. I wonder what deluge of astonishing treats intended for me the other guy might be enjoying, while he remarks to his rabbi that his recent Honda purchase has been remarkably hassle-free.

Our Thinking Equally

The advertising-enhancers have been quiet lately. I hope they're planning something gigantic. For a good month I've not seen a single thudding obscenity scrawled across an immaculate chin, no happy genitalia slapped across a logo, and no oh for fuck's sake smeared over a slogan.
For the summer, the billboard by the roundabout showed a blue sky with popcorn clouds behind six towers of silver squares that spelled out HATE.
Somebody used to tear down the new posters on the billboard on the corner as soon as they went up, a knack for disfigurement that gladdened the spleen and made questions grow: do they climb up there somehow or use a thing on a long stick or what? Are they one person or a few? Are they afraid of getting caught? Have I met them and not known?

Took Me Ages

Concerns have hatched: Your last entry fell into some kind of hole shortly after its appearance. Could you bother us with an explanation?
It was a durational text not designed to be viewable for any longer than five minutes.
You could perhaps have announced this.
I didn't realise that that was what it was until I realised it was over.
We brim with suspicion.
Also there was a particularly bad comma. And two phrases that seemed to demand a semi-colon be inserted between them. But when the semi-colon was inserted, it looked completely unnecessary. I was signed off work for two weeks with acute perplexity while I added it, looked away from it, looked back at it, removed it, looked away from its absence, tried to think about something else, looked back at its absence, then re-added it, over and over again.
We detect a lack of commitment.
Fortunately a film was made of this interlude, a sort of tedious crescendo which is lapping up the plaudits in niche cinemas nowherewide.
Had you considered either releasing the thing in both versions or choosing to care less about piffling trinkets?
We believe the content of the thing contained regrettable details.
Not true.
And that there was never a semi-colon or (or nor) the glaring absence of one.
Could you then enlighten us on the subject matter of the thing?

To Be A See Also

Here is a few slices of what we did last Christmas. (It's still basically August and you're going on about December already are you, you rotten bollock, while we still owe the butcher a grand for the outdoor meat marathon, and the pineapple wallah's got his wide tangy blades at our necks twice a day saying pay up for Pina Coladamegeddon or I'll really set the fucking juice loose? Sorry. I just wanted to share.)
This Christmas we've formed a cross-continental task force to assault all eleven of your seasonal senses and you'll be like Christ that's nice. In the meantime the rejections from agents make me feel like I'm progressing with the second book, while the third book is still a festival of detritus awaiting a suitable container. I really appreciate you putting these things in front of your eyes. Thanks.


Outside the front of the train station in a place I wasn't expecting to visit, a man walking a hammerhead Labrador asked me if I knew what time it was. I looked behind and above me, having assumed there'd be a big accurate clock there and that we might then have a terrific little chinwag about how we don't look up enough when we're in cities, it's nice to notice the good bits every once a year or so, isn't it, god you're so right, nobody has ever met an architect. After I'd untwisted my neck and looked into his baffled eyes, I took out my phone, and it wasn't displaying any time because the battery'd gone. I looked at the Labrador's two-foot wide head and back at the man and said no. He said thanks for trying.

When Public Facing

I put my expensive but not really when you think about how long the blades last and how little blood they shed shaving device in my ear, to see if it could discourage the twigs and parsnips that've lately, sorry, begun to think they live there, because I'm ninety five years old now and this is the kind of thing that happens, or it's a thing that happened ages ago and I only just noticed it after a couple of what may or may not've been ear-directed quizzical micro-glances my way at work, or whatever, I'll take it over wisdom teeth any day or night of the rest of my life thanks.
The blade didn't help the removal though. It helped me to bleed from somewhere I've never bled from before, known to specialists such as myself as the I'm not exactly sure although I studied the bastards at university sir, call it the non-flappy outer ridge shall we, alright yes, this wasn't important to start with and it's only getting less so.

All We Had Was Like Two Pot Noodles

Out the other window, looking to the left, there's the car park of a funeral shop, where sometimes white vans squeak in at night to disgorge unoccupied coffins wrapped in clear plastic and parcel tape. The two men moving them from the van into the shop never seem to get the balance right. It's always a struggle. The wind doesn't help. Neither do I. It's none of my business, but I've thought about wailing some helpful hints at them, such as slow down, it's only a box, I used to drive a van full of items myself you know, and there's a scar on my arm from where I didn't slow down once, while taking the items from one place to another, I was hungry, it's best to pick the items up when at least one of you has exited the van, rather than both of you stumbling out at either end of the item, looking like some kind of unlicensed gothic wrestling fiasco. But the coffins go in and the van goes away, and there's never really an incident that requires my input.

Well and Good

With music on and the windows open it sounds like the playground directly outside one of my windows is full of revellers losing their minds to my impeccable playlists. Or with no music on and I'm reading a book it's like they're whooping every page turn. Tonight someone was shouting let me out, let me out, let me out, and I kept turning the pages and thinking either he should accept what the moment has brought him and think about what he can learn from it, or someone should let him out, though I can't imagine what he might be stuck in, there being no cages in that particular playground, last time I checked. And I haven't checked the others but I assume the same is also true for them. After three more pages he'd stopped, and I took a break from The Golden Ass's ancient ultra-violent whimsy and went for a walk.
Between the playground gate and my front door there was an upturned shopping trolley. I thought about getting under it, to see if being under it might cause me to want to not be under it any more. The playground was empty of screams and people. But I remembered I was a pillar of the community, with a gleaming history, having so far had the sense to not get caught committing any of my many despicable crimes, and mustn't ever be seen doing something not immediately explicable, or they'd take away my squash licence and interrogate my chauffeurs. I carried on to the Polish shop, and took a milkshake to the cemetery.

Subject Matters

I anonymously published, in a quarterly workplace journal, distributed only to members of a particular sub-group within those workplaces, and read by a sub-group of that sub-group presumably in idle moments between obligations, let me be clear, an account of an event: the twice-yearly conversion, by their line manager, of a working human's current value, potential value, and behavioural desirability, into a dot on a graph. The account's tone was one of inquisitive sarcasm. It ended with three questions. The last word of the last of these questions was: sinister. The use of this arguably overly-dramatic or maybe even paranoid adjective was proportionate as a response to the emergence, during the twice-yearly conversion, of a queasy situation regarding the crusading-and-prevailing new business doctrine: if you don't say you love the doctrine, if you say you don't love the doctrine, if you scamper about the office pointing out the doctrine's snags and foibles, your dot will never be placed in the upper third of the graph, because your questioning of the doctrine that produced the graph counts as undesirable behaviour. Never mind how well you perform in the day-to-day tasks, you will never be deemed excellent unless you learn to say you are a fan of the compulsory one true path.
Shortly after everyone'd had their twice-yearly conversion, and before the doctrine's implementation-assessors visited, to convert the whole building into a multi-million pound dot on a self-congratulatory ideological conquest display unit, there was a noticeable office-wide increase in I-heart-the-doctrine pomp and fanfare, and judging the sincerity of this here grisly flag-waving, and those there frantic declarations of fervent belief, became impossible.

Furtherance Merger

Anyway we saw some music in a field and would not stop banging on about it with unruly mouths and screeching ears for days afterwards. It was noted that banging on about it won't bring it back, unless the banging on about it is kept up until the moment the same thing begins again, which from a look at the tour dates is either a very long time or an expensive distance away. In response to this being noted it was noted that if we're going to be noting things then the function of the banging on about it was to confirm and describe the enormity of what'd been heard and seen and detected, rather than to somehow resurrect the experience through nerdish incantations and slow shakings of the head, so there. I left to spend three days in a popular northern hill factory, eating fish and chips and slowly shaking my head. While there I saw this. It was very good. When I got back to the south they'd thoughtfully put piles of speakers on every street and were playing different musics through them, and we gathered at a few of the piles and did things worth banging on about.

At All Possible

I'm sending this from one of those chain pubs where all the lights are on all the time. In traditional pub symbolism this would indicate that it's time to leave. In this one they're right, but less for that reason, and more because it's a sanitary shitehouse and I can smell J2O from sixteen feet away and violently sensitive beef-droids with footballs for eyes are assessing my manliness and my opinion of their manliness and by god there's nothing more important to a manly man's man than making sure everyone agrees with your own opinion of how manly you are, sweet stinking Nelson we'd better put that concern above everything else forever lest anyone get the wrong idea about how well we're coping with our gender. I've had a lot of fun recently and none of it was in here.
Now, why come at all if you're just going to whinny and gripe, etc?
Because I don't feel even slightly bad about sitting down to hoover up the wifi without even pretending to buy a drink from the joyless characterkilling motherfuckers who dump these blaring hells onto every street in England, is why.
Now, why not get the internet installed in your new quarters, old chap?
I dunno maybe I can do without it for a while, like I can do without furniture and intimacy.
Now, how did that glitter get onto your pillows?
That's a good question. Maybe it was on somebody else's face, which was then on my face, which was then on the pillows, I could be wrong. A human being fell on my head last week and I've lost all interest in the truth.

Vision Kings

I asked the neighbour if he wanted to swap sofas. We'd been trying for a hundred tubby minutes to pummel mine up the stairs and round the corner and my lips were full of sand and I was wheezing out of my ears and my friend was sat murmuring things about folly. Stallone was at the door, clamouring for the film rights and saying there is a problem with the dimensions and not doing a single thing to help. In the morning the man I bought the sofa from'd said he could tell me its measurements and I said nah you're alright, indoor furniture goes indoors doesn't it, and indoors is where I'm taking it, I know perfectly well what I'm doing without the need to show off any instinct for precision I might have. And I drove round town loading the van with matter, and to get rid of the unwanted bits we stopped at the tip, or tried to, only the tip-staff blustered fluorescently out of their hutch to explain that the van was too tall to make it under the barrier, and this didn't register as an omen. They let us put the matter round the side, "neatly, so The Machine can get it later", and explicitly forbade us from returning in that vehicle, on that day or any other, and maybe there was an index finger pointed once at each of our foreheads while this was being said, which made it extra memorable when we'd finally given up trying to hog-shunt the sofa into place, and were wondering what the next steps might be, before the swap was mentioned and agreed to and we kicked the neighbour's couch, the plain Ikea kind and the cat's added some detail, like a square balloon up the stairs and round the corner.

Pestilential Swank

Debated whether or not to fill a box with cobwebs so at the new place I can recreate what I'm used to. But they're difficult to put back up, so just I stood on a chair and snorted them right off the walls. No, I binned them, then filled half a box with stuff I haven't looked at or thought about since the last time I moved. And the music-playing cube that works plus the other one that almost works.
Next Monday there'll be a different underpass to swoop through and an impossible-to-tell-if-this-is-quicker route to the keycard thing next to the door to wait for the formerly green but now just absence-of-red light to signal it's still alright to clock in, sit down, sneeze, finger the computer and slaughter the inbox.

Progression Loops

You look tired, they'll sometimes say, somehow only ever after I've been to bed at a reasonable hour and am feeling like the minister for moderation, with a gleaming stomach and enamel-white eye-whites. They seem to expect instead of surprise a reply something like Yes, I am tired from the lack of rest, the lack of rest from the strain of the constant murky hullabaloo and three minutes' sleep before work. The days I turn up rum-shoed and giddy and say I'm a bit tired they say you don't look it, and well can I dangle out the window by my feet and swivel my head through the drizzle for a couple of hours or do you need me for something?

Low Resolution Events

In January I finished another book and set about foisting it into the future, with the help of some expert foisters. The idea was to have someone I've never met say this is good.
Someone I'd never met said this is good.
Then the idea was to have an agent read it and say this is good.
An agent read it and said this is good, but it lacks what would make me love it, so you should send it to someone who, etc, good luck.
Now the idea is to explain it, in summary and at length and in various formats, to help the people employed to find new good things to figure out what it is and whether if it's new it could be good. Tell me again what exactly it is you're trying to do here or get out of my office.
I can't get much further than These words in this order seem alright to me and I'm a big fan of gaps. A man spends a year achieving nothing. It's called Yet.

Just A Few Questions Before You Decide

Greeting. Thanks for turning up on time.
Greeting. Self-deprecating quip.
Acknowledgement. Let's go upstairs.
It looks better than it does online.
Say hello to the current tenant who is only moving out because his wife would prefer it if they both lived in the same house, and now that the conservatives have fortified the economy, he and she can both find work in the same town again.
Carefully-pitched chuckling intended to create the impression that I know all about economies and wives and their just-between-us-three-young-but-mature-men-here outrageous demands.
And when would you prefer to move in?
Slightly after as soon as possible.
And is your monthly income guaranteed indefinitely?
No. But I've at least been getting demonstrably more sensible since my mind collapsed.
Alright. Will you be able to give us all your money quite soon?
And then a bit more, later?
I can promise to, and then we can see.
And can we legally compel someone else to owe us what you should be paying if, for example, you were to take a sudden and powerful fancy to the purchasing of elaborate liquids?
I'll ask.
And there's no washing machine.
Cleanliness is falsity anyway.
And if any bats move in you can't move them out.
I'm already my employer's Regional Diversity and Tolerance Ambassador.
Was there much bloodshed in that competition?
Not til I turned up.
And how's your citizenship?
And when you last checked yourself for defects, what did you find?
Only the usual.

An Announcement

Altar Ego Radio asked me to be on it a bit this weekend and I said uhuh, uhuh, when? and it said Saturday morning three til five and Sunday evening six til eight. And I asked it what else is on and it said shitloads mate, DJ Food, Old Apparatus, Miss Pink, Sage Francis, Solo One, Stanley Chow, a squadron.
So on the Saturday I'll be playing things that ooze and twitch, and on the Sunday I'll be merrily butchering your ribs with blades of black noise. There's much good stuff happening all weekend. Here's the line up. Listen in and shout at us.

Guided Distribution

We practised our huffs and laments in the medicine queue. The clocks were no help at all. When the next appointment was due, the name-display thing let loose a biblical alert-shriek which did nothing to soothe the anxious or calm the infants. The leading edge of the cloud of the mutterings of the man behind me slurped the top of my spine. The noticeboard said not to worry, none of these things are new or exceptional or temporary.
When the receptionist handed me my prescription she said here's your dinner, tasty bit of dinner, you're gonna eat it all up, with some water at a table for one, and tell me how it tastes.

Lughole Input Highlights Fri-Sun

Wind, mainly, like truckfuls of gravel being poured into the ears. But also a football stadium, either angry or delighted, roaring half a mile away into a next-door garden playlist that threatened Hotel California but didn't deliver. And a man whose brewery we invaded using the full phrase "the new north american-style hoppy beers" every time he compared his own (delicious) drinks to those (domineering) others. He had a wardbrode nailed to the wall three feet off the floor. And closed doors opened and banged themselves into splinters.


I went walking round a potential new postcode. I'm going to live on my own, in the special home for irritable bachelors. I just haven't found it yet. Soon though. Requirements include: the bed not being in the kitchen, the rent not being more than half the monthly income (ambitious, this, but not impossible), and the distance on foot to town being not more than twenty-nine minutes. This postcode turned out to not be good for aimless scuttling, but it did have a shop called World of Doors.
Later, in a crowd, I hit a man in the eyes with the back of my head and he insisted I not worry about it, and we carried on being riffed senseless by american hands.

After Consideration

Duties now include spider-removal. If it's been seen, but you can't find it, but nobody's going to be able to concentrate on their work until it's been found, you could perhaps pretend to find it, take it out the door, throw it onto the nearest ferry, watch it reach the horizon, and return to work, explaining the length of your absence by the ferry's lack of gumption and the astonishing distance to the horizon from here, and did they want you to make sure it was far away or only pretend you did, your mission in this building being to excel in all spheres and fields, including the ones you have no interest in and the ones no one else has an interest in but you. And if it re-emerges from under a cabinet you'd until then assumed nothing could get under, nevermind something with Ikea pencils for legs and a body the size of a small human bollock, moving towards the phone hub at panic-on-carpet's terminal velocity, you must loudly declare it to be not the same but a close relative of the one you just this minute, while eating a burrito in no great rush, thoroughly witnessed leaving the postcode.

Dichotomous Ramification 1

I was thirty. We went to Lisbon, for pastries and balconies and hills. On the balcony you could eat a box of pastries and look up and down the hill. It was a loud urban hill paved with taxis and mosaics, which they swept at night with water, sending the cartons and papers down the gutters in a stream that stopped for the traffic lights and left behind the phrase "glistening cracks", which I disappointingly haven't been able to construct an unforced-sounding sentence around this week, but maybe next, maybe next.
Pessoa has a statue sat getting polished by photography outside a good cafe. There was an empty chair next to it and sometimes there seemed to be a queue for the chair, sometimes there were fifteen art students drawing pictures of the statue and the statue's photographers. I sat next to it and poked it in the eye.
Across town his house is mostly now a tall library, but they still have his room and his books and you can go in and look at the margin notes and lie on the bed and crush the hat.

Orality Corner

-There was concern, about the start of the last bit. Either it was an unforgivable lack of proofreading or it was a deliberately unfriendly, unnecessary, pretentious whim. In a moribund slew of fragmented tedium.
-Slew is no exaggeration after five-ish years, we feel.
-It doesn't appear to be leading anywhere. And the eyes crave things to be glad about, and they feel themselves beginning to require an explanation, they say, or they might stop letting through the light that bounces off these drab and baggy lumps, until a more reader-friendly tone is struck.
-Slews can contain lumps.
-Yes, but they have no say in where we choose to point them. They said it was only yesterday they felt that a quiet word must be had, if a general improvement in stimulus is ever to be gained.
-Verbatim. And somewhat highfalutin' we admit. We can't imagine why.
-While you were passed out.

Big Super Normal Time

, but using the phonetic alphabet when stood two feet away, while neither one of us was in a blizzard or a war, was too much, and it was only my long-standing and well-known commitment to appearing professional when I can be arsed to, that stopped me asking him if he was taking the piss. Maybe he'd always found the sound of y hard to distinguish from the sound of q, and used the names yankee and quebec as a confusion-reducing courtesy to my thick-eared and disengaged face. I asked him to repeat himself.

A Selection of Varieties

I opened the train door window and stuck my head out and got a big schnozzful of evening. When I pulled my head in to avoid having it thunked senseless by an approaching pole, I looked behind and saw a man hanging out the next window, doing the same thing, grinning, not intending to be inconvenienced by a mere lethal hazard.

Overheard in the shirt shop: It would irritate my neck. I can't be expected to go about with an irritated neck all day, just because of rules.

In Cambridge they apparently let the cows frolic and feed on the city centre grass, once in a while, or regularly, but maybe not every day. Which explains the wafts of dung, and the trampled rats, and the hoofprints on the cars.

Yeah Not Bad Mate

The toothy young barber did not want to stop. I'll go at your eyebrows, he said, no thanks they're not really something I get involved with ever but now you've highlighted their lack of splendour maybe I'll give them a once-over in the bathroom mirror although if you start on that path where will it end, in fact just get the machete out and I'll swap heads with somebody I can stand to look at, and that's not anyone in this room right now, so you're going to have to take to the streets, I said. And he for some reason took this as consent, and slapped a comb against the left eyebrow and made some sweeping stabs with the electric thing, then removed the electric thing and the comb and held them in perfectly still hands while he tilted his head as if to invite me to stop him, giving me the opportunity to say yeah don't bother with the other one I prefer a fucking mismatch above all things, which I didn't, so he went at the right one, then threw his tools down on the counter and with his back to me dipped a fist-sized black brush in white powder, turned, breathed in, and Zorroed me about the face with it. I can only assume it was essential to my recovery.

Now Don't Be Alarmed

The crisps really look like they're having a great day at the pool, leaping from the diving board into the sour cream and the spring onion confetti, with a cosmic slipstream stretching up through the three in the air to the last one left, on the board, clearly trembling. Maybe having realised that after the cream comes being smashed between teeth and swallowed out of existence. It's hard to tell. The peppercorn-eyed and mouthless overseer at the top doesn't seem surprised by either the leaping or the trembling.
I phoned the info line and crunched worriedly at them. All they said at first was sir, sir, sir. It was remarkable how they could tell my gender from the I'm not sure but probably tone, frequency, and rhythm of the crunches. By the time I'd eaten half the pack I'd been passed to a manager, who sang a de-escalatory lullaby that had a list of compensations for its chorus. I couldn't get enough.

Much Crudity

Hack a kebab off my shin, I've finished reading Gargantua and Pantagruel. It took nigh-on longer than it might've done if I hadn't been taking frequent breaks to wonder when I'd get round to finishing it. I enormously recommend it if you like all the stuff that goes into and comes out of human holes and heads. Or books by 1550's French doctor-monks. Or books, or heads, or holes, in general. While that was going on, I was working on stuff, and taking frequent breaks to wonder about the differences between "finished" and "done". I don't know anything more about those two things now than I did when I started thinking about them, but the thinking about them has definitely helped with the avoidance of doing what I keep saying I want to do.

Tactical Largesse Disfigurement

You'll see it from the train, they said. But not if you're not looking, or looking out the wrong side, or looking at the crossword trying to think of the port in Norway you know you don't know but maybe if you stare at the gaps they'll fill themselves in and you can declare a pre-nine a.m. triumph, to the crossword authorities, who do exist, but haven't so far been located.
It was found, it was a training hub, we were trained in it in the art of customer service peacekeeping. We had acronyms installed in us. We answered a survey and discovered our conflict profiles. We stood round a masking tape triangle with passive, assertive, and aggressive as its three points, and its interior halved horizontally into emotional and rational, with the rational half being the one next to the assertive tip and the emotional half, is everyone getting this, next to the passive-aggressive bottom line. Now stand in it to indicate how you are at work. Now stand in it to indicate how you are at home. So we each stood in it twice and were nodded at. The urges to roll around howling in the emotional half, to indicate at work, and to chew up the A4 rational sign, spit it out and kick it through the window, for at home, were entirely resisted.

Bit Steep For An Afternoon

An astonished man tractored a trailer full of shredded umbrellas through the park. I thought about asking him where they were all going to end up, and thought about him replying fuck knows or the bin, and not a rickety and hazardous public art installation that really delves into the bonce-envelope shared by climate change and futility. I watched him trundle through the trees, hopping off the tractor every twelve seconds to throw another bunch of knackered metal twigs in the trailer, and turn the corner into somewhere I had no interest in imagining.
The cinema showed a grubby and redemptionless frolic through a popular holiday destination. I saw it, didn't fathom it, and didn't mind not fathoming it.
The sun couldn't stop itself, and the thick socks necessary yesterday were by lunchtime moist and foolish.

Up Sticks

In the West Wing episode called Shibboleth, the word shibboleth is introduced by the president, explained by the president, and spoken at the president by a man who's been dragged from a river of screaming cheese into the big office, so they can check whether he's the type of man who'd know about and be able to pronounce the word shibboleth, and therefore be worthy of receiving help, by hearing him almost not say it, but then, after a kind of bollock-churningly inevitable hesitation, say it. Rumour has it this episode was written by a man being hassled into agony on deadline day by the chuckling ghost of his English teacher. And your trust in the until-then much-better-than-good-enough quality of the writing is replaced by a worry, with fifteen and a half more seasons to go, that the whole thing might end in a gutter of songs and hugs and star-spangled handshakes. But it improves.

From Us At Full Pelt

Go on then.
Hi I'm here to bother you. What's harrowing?
I've been watching my toenails grow.
Take long?
Whole minutes.
Talons yet?
Yes. And my clippers are rusty and unusable.
No surprise there.
So I've bought these extra-long shoes.
Are there not health risks?
Health risks, shoe risks, sock risks. It's not in my nature to back down.
Dancing much?
As much as usual. But trying to let the others have a go, these days, and I was getting funny looks.
You get those dancing or not.
I've noticed.
It's your head.
Is it ever anything else?
It seems to be gaping, even when the mouth is closed.
You should cover it with something. Before doing that becomes illegal.
At least I don't have to witness it. The gaping.
Spare a thought for those who do.
What is it you're here to say exactly?
Forgotten now. Something about wounds.
Just something I'd heard, not thought of.
Could you have heard it without me having heard it?
Possibly. Never checked. Can't. No log, see. I'm logless.
Is there a chance it might reoccur?
It was a survey I'd glimpsed. A graph. One line was going down and another was going up. It was relevant, and then you put me off.
I was only responding to your jolts.
Well don't.
I have to, now. There were these women with a flipchart and columns and arrows.
And that's all it takes is it?
It's all there's been to take.

Preservatives Common

Two reassurance-faced women on either side of a flipchart kept thanking people for sharing. I was one of the people. I wasn't sharing. I was eating. The Pret A Manger Chicken Caesar sandwich is a sandwich I can rely on, believe in, and demolish, provided its bread has been baked in a way that maximises the crunchiness of its outer layer, removing the need to say "and some crisps please," when is-she-so-friendly-because-we've-done-this-so-often-or-is-she-so-friendly-because-I-might-be-the-monthly-mystery-shopper-who-affects-both-the-staff's-annual-bonuses,-if-they-have-those,-and-the-store's-standing-in-the-various-regional-leagues-and-graphs-they-quite-probably-have-to-refer-to-every-morning-or-at-least-every-week asks, at the till, if it's to have in or to take away and if, besides the Coke, there'll be anything else. The filling has never varied in consistency or emphasis, so I guess the section of the kitchen in charge of middle bits is a well-oiled hellhole, whereas the bread must be part-baked, then frozen, then activated in-store by early-morning enigmas with variable preferences and vendettas and physical indications of substance abuse, in unfamiliar or inconsistent ovens, resulting sometimes in a less-than-robust outer layer and the need to say "and some crisps please". Anybody who's ever worked in or ram-raided a Pret A Manger please let me know. A man on anti-depressants said "you really must try some."

Under Normal Conditions

The taxi driver told me how much his taxi cost, and how much the other slightly bigger taxis cost, and said that all the taxi drivers who buy the slightly bigger taxis are people who think with their behinds. The rain and the radio made it hard to pick up his exact words. I was in the back seat, leaning forward, pointing my ear at the wall of transparent plastic, thinking this might sound alright but I wonder how much I'm making up. He ploughed on, hissing at inferior taxis and insisting he has completely optimised his life, except for he has to drive a taxi more days than he doesn't, but this is obviously not as bad as it could be, considering the taxi's compactness and affordability, second-hand but still young and he's going to take care of it and its not-blue not-purple surface which some people, if you ask them, really enjoy the sight of. As we joined the motorway he started talking about his banking habits, which were as admirable as his taxi-owning habits, and when he reached my front door it's possible I agreed to make a large deposit at his local branch as soon as it opened. I haven't done this.

Catatonics and the English Language

Foyles offer a free muffin for spending over a tenner, but mention nothing about a free book for buying ten muffins. This is one reason why my forthcoming book-and-alcohol-vending enterprise (possible names I haven't yet checked are available: Anais Nin's Home Entertainment Supercentre. The Fountain of Paragraphs. The Swede Creamery. Dostoyevsky's Death Palace. Loitering. The business plan, when I present it, will be just this list of names and an inventory of about a hundred books, none of which I'm really willing to part with, give me seventy thousand pounds or I'll bomb your allotment) will offer five hundred words for every litre of ale imbibed, and a free book for every seventy-five millilitres of spirits power-quaffed when you had work the next day. I haven't found a location, or an idea of where the stock is going to come from, how much the overheads are likely to be, start-up costs, customer base, and whatever other goblins might like to obscure the picture with their realistic hands, but I'm guessing a sharp half-hour on Yahoo Answers'll take care of all that, and I'll then be free to galvanise both flanks of the Avon with crass enticements, veiled threats and loyalty cards.

Deep Features

William Blake went to bed with a pig because of the distress caused by seeing a serpent gush-up its lunch on the altar of a golden chapel. It's unclear what the relevance of this image is, to anything I've been doing lately, but it's been waiting to get a mention for about eight months, sticking its ancient neck out, presuming I'd eventually contrive a charming little foxtrot for it to underpin. While I've been avoiding the chapels, the pigs, and the beds, as much as possible.
There have been serpents, mind. Unavoidable, but they never have anything to say. They just moan, and mumble things, like come into this cold and lightless precinct, from which nobody's ever emerged. I don't fancy it.

Zero Fucks

The DJ thought it was important that we saw all of his teeth. He was displaying as many of them as he could. You couldn't call it smiling. Maybe he couldn't close his head-flesh around them all properly. He was on a stage at one end of a stone-floored batshit palace. There were more teeth in his head than people in the room. He played doof-doof chipmunk music. We nodded. A large-haired man in a Subhumans t-shirt rode a yellow spacehopper back and forth in front of the bar. I want to say back and forth across the bar itself but on this occasion that wouldn't be accurate. When the DJ stopped we went upstairs to the big room where three normal-faced men were playing loud scraps of yesteryear. The air gleamed and pulsed, we could taste sweat, and voices behind us politely asked whether or not we'd like to buy any enhancements. An hour passed and the normal-faced men stopped and a golden-toothed man with very recently-washed hair played some hard fast excellent everything. During the intense bits he would smile, and punch his left wrist with his right hand. At the back of the room, on the bench, against the wall, a man in a tracksuit had a nap. A security guard aimed a beam of light at him. The napping man's eyes remained shut, the security guard brought the torch right up to his eyeballs. The napping man writhed and insisted he was, considering the circumstances, fine.