Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Morning After

Samantha awoke; dazed, nauseated, she scrambled upright and teetered towards the bathroom; blue robe tightly drawn, it hurt, she pulled the sash harshly, it made her feel more alive. Looking up her face in the mirror was all twisted and haggard; the grey lines no longer hidden by her thick neat make-up. Quickly she looked away; ashamed.

She gripped the sink and shuddered as memories cascaded through her mind. Running away, fearful, the crash, the ambulance, the hospital, no one visiting, returning alone in a taxi to a cold empty house. It had all been a terrible, sickening, dream.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Book Review – China Miéville: Kraken

I have been reading Kraken by China Miéville (Pan Nov 2010). A book about the hunt for a giant missing squid – the Kraken – that's worshipped like a god. Well, that's not the most appealing premiss for a book and it looked like it could easily fall in the 'must I continue reading' category. I fact I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

Some reviewers have claimed that Kraken not as good as some of Miéville's other books such as 'The City & The City' and as a result they have been disappointed. Now this may be true. But as this is the first China Miéville book I have read, I enjoyed it. In fact I enjoyed it sufficiently to order a copy of The City & The City.

In fact there is not really that much of a plot, it mostly consists of chasing around after the Kraken and not getting very far. So you can read a few hundred pages and find the plot at almost exactly the same point as before. However the real fun of the book is the weird characters you meet along the way. I don't want to say too much about these as it's best to discover these yourself. However I must mention Goss and Subby. A pair who are pure evil but who you can't wait for them to keep cropping up in the story.

I would recommend Kraken, even to those not interested in SiFi. Miéville has a reputation for being a good writer and maybe he would be much better know if he wrote more mainstream fiction.


It was a clear day when we started out for a simple walk across the fields in the spring sunshine. I'm not an expert on nature and all that stuff, so all I can tell you was that it was green and looked healthy, invigorating. Not that I was really interested in that nature thing. This walk was simply an opportunity for us both to escape our families, the council estate, to grab some 'us' time – at least temporally. We were just sticking to the well trod pathways, nothing bold was intended, that would get in the way of just being together.

Inevitably the rain started drizzling, and something I could predict was a storm beckoned. Should we turn back? Not without getting soaked. So we hurried on looking for some shelter no matter how meagre. Then we were lucky. Across a field was some derelict farm building; so there we headed out off the pathway; getting our feet wet because of our most inappropriate shoes. Arriving we found little more that an empty tin building with a mud floor; but it was shelter and somewhere to hide.

The torrents fell, but I did not mind, as we cuddled on the dry mud floor; occasionally peeking out; hoping it would not end. And it remained warm, or at least we did not feel the cold. I was disappointed as the rain ended; we would have to return to our respective families.

Such a simple memory; but it sticks in my mind after all these years; something to saviour, something lost.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Life's Lottery

It was a routine call out; some neighbours had complained. They had been complaining for weeks but this address had only just reached the top of their list. The smell, the horrible smell, where was it coming from, probably cats.

The cleaning crew arrived and they immediately knew what to expect; Alan knocked, no one answered and he knew no one would. Alan forced the door. The rest complained: this was something they were not really supposed to do, they could get in trouble. But now the door was open they went in. Inside the house was a tip; they had seen it so many times before; someone elderly, lonely, could not cope. Junk piled up; fag ends littered the place; dirty pots overflowed the sink; grease encased the cooker. It was cold and this was a cold winter. Alan tried the light switch and guessed the electricity had been cut off.

In the back room of the two-up-two-down was the decomposing body of an old man slumped in a chair. He still had his overcoat on. Alan put some gloves on and searched for some identification; again something he was not supposed to do. There was not much in his pockets: an empty packet of ciggies, some old betting slips. Then he noticed a tatty lottery ticket. Alan sneaked a look, it was still valid.

“Worth checking,” Alan muttered, to himself, no one was listening. Alan was an avid follower of the lottery and spent far too much of him minimum wage on it. Never with any luck; he had never won more then a tenner. He slid the ticket into his pocket, those numbers did seem familiar. Alan grinned. And to the rest of the crew, and for the rest of the day, he seemed strangely happy.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


A black dress, strident red stripes; shed quickly, willingly. Almost torn off; it lies in a crumpled heap on the floor; discarded, unwanted.

Previously so sophisticated, demure, almost cold; you never knew what she's thinking. Then wild, passionate; it takes you by surprise. So unexpected, so welcome, you might even get to know her.

The black dress is returned to its former function. The crumples straightened out; almost, but not quite, a few linger; you would not see then unless you were looking, not unless you knew. So carefully, so correctly, she redoes her make-up; meticulous detail is applied to every brush stroke, every manicured tone. Now she does not want to be touched; brushes you aside; an unwanted guest, or worse, an intruder. The sophistication becomes cold again. The haughtiness returns; can you go on living like this?

You're pleased with yourself; almost smug. But deep down, somewhere you don't quite want to admit, those mood swings worry you. Can there be a future? And what happened to cause them? She will not tell you; is offended if you even ask.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


Silver nails exploring tentatively. Wondering, aimlessly; light sweet touches, inquisitive. Occasionally scratching, where those nails know so best.

With a smile kissing passionately. Long lingering kisses; full of lust, full of longing.

Tongues investigating gently. Exchanging little dribbles of spit.

Friday, 15 April 2011


Something beautiful, something ginger, dressed in blue, gold pendant; ginger locks clasped about its face; there it is, so refined, sucking, kissing, licking. Bright vibrant eyes watching so carefully what it's tasting, drinking in so sweet; responding to every mood, every twitch, every ripple.

And the other: something so beautiful, something blonde, dressed in denim jeans, white t-shirt; willing, yielding, encouraging; gently holding the ginger locks in place, that treasured intimate place. Black hair dishevelled, when moments before it was pristine, so manicured. Hands clasp the ginger locks, imploring, demanding, knowing it will be satisfied, the moment has arrived.

Thursday, 14 April 2011



“You're beautiful.”

“So soon?”

“You're pretty face inspires me.”

“You're insatiable.”

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Every day there's the incessant noise from the upstairs flat; the horrid bedlam. They must wash there clothes one it a time; the washing machine is always going, rocking on the floor; and then the most erratic thumping, the hateful incessant thumping, before reaching the end of its cycle. All day there's them stomping about, draws slamming and chairs scraping.

Every day some woman come round; yawping, forever yawping to some snotty kid she has in tow, telling it to do this, to do that, to stop crying, it's forever crying, but then wouldn't you with a mother like that. Then she's yawping to her dad, telling him off about something, and having a go at the kid again. Then they get out the Hoover, it must be an ancient old thing for all the grinding and wheezing it creates.

All morning the TVs on; blaring away, the inane chatter of breakfast TV, off around lunch time, only to emerge again for tea and the football. Nothing must interrupt the football, with all its shouting, cheering, and the inevitable disappointment.

And they call this family life! Hateful. The noise is so hateful.


Through the thin cotton fabric luscious mounds grind; they twist, crush and gyrate. Cotton meets cotton: one blue, one pink with white stripes. Thrust meets thrust: one pushes, connects, rubs; one accepting, yielding, demanding. They grind on; faster, then adjust position, and faster still. Then slower but more energetic, more deliberate. The glee of rubbing, grinding to the sweet, sweet rhythm of ecstasy.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Fallen Tree

The tree had fallen in the winter wind; its roots ripped up, now sideways, taller than a man, exposed, no longer able to draw in nutrients.

The trunk still hovering above the ground, cracked, split. The branches, once in the sky now propping up the trunk. And with futile shoots of new growth. They may take years to fall, crumble and allow then tree to re-enter the ground.

It still looked majestic, powerful, and mightily impressive lying among its own debris.


“You're sure?”
“Why not?”
“You're no fun any more.”

Monday, 11 April 2011


It's springtime, we walk. Small white petals cover the path and float on puddles left by the morning rain. Beside us more linger, waiting, for there turn to cascade down. We tread softly along the lane, carefully we stepping over glistening puddles, avoiding the muddy patches. Then we come to a bench and sit in a sheltered spot just off the path. There watch the sun, the trees rustle in the distant chill wind. And drink in the warm sun.


It had all been building up to this; this moment, this moment of exaltation. And there it was that final moan; that final delicate moan; such a sweet, sweet sound. A sound of pure joy; containing all the delight, the ecstasy, the pure rapture.

The face, the beautiful face, I stare at the face; the adorable twisted lips of satisfaction. The contortions of joy, that sweet, so sweet, grimace.

And then the twisting, turning subsides, become its normal sweetness, and just the satisfaction remains. Silent, still and peaceful.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


What a wonderful sight it was: on top, pink t-shirt, enthusiastic, pigtails. The vibrant movement, the shining eyes, the tempting glistening of perspiration; and here and now and mine.

A long sort dream come true; here she was at last. Was it as good as expected? Yes, most certainly it was.

Then content. We cuddled; a long languorous cuddle. Along the way we intermittently talked; about something, I now know not what. Finally slept; a long dreamy satisfied sleep; one where all your wished have materialised and your worries evaporated. She snoring a little.


The train was crowded that day; so much more crowded and stupefying than usual. I pushed along, tired and fed up, in one direction looking for a seat; my bag felt heavy and knocked against standing, placid, passengers. I was so fed up with apologising; but just could not stop myself. Then I came to a halt at the doorway to the empty first class section. I peered in; such an expanse of wasted space. Could I? Should I? With only my lamentable second class ticket. I had a long journey ahead, through rain drenched middle England, and was determined not to stand the whole way. I turned back and regretted being such a coward.

Back through the passengers again; apologising, dammit. The train seems more crowded than ever and I'm more frustrated. And then near the end of the penultimate carriage, what's that? The crowds have thinned a little, just a little and maybe, just maybe. I retrieve a book from my bag and accidentally knock another passenger; who this time apologises to me! And push the bag into the non-existent space above the so empty seat. The seat does not appear to be anyone's, but now I do not care. I, at last, sit down; what a relief.

And then... and then... I shudder, I jolt upright, a delicious cascade of electricity shoots down my spine. I stare, I gaze at the spectacular vision opposite. A wonderful, petite, girl sits across from me, on the other side of the dirty table that separates us. Across the dirty coffee cups, the discarded sandwich wrappers, is the most beautiful girl; pale, short black hair, wearing tight green denim jacket.

I look, I cannot help it. She gets up, walks off; offended. What else can I do? I cannot read.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

International Socialism 130

The latest International Socialism Journal has just popped through my letter box. I've already read Renton on Eton, der Walt on the Black Flag, and the book reviews. I'm about the plunge into the the rest. This is mostly about the current Arab revolutions and debating the recent students demonstrations.

The book reviews mention Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Forgotten Indian Famine of World War II by Madhusree Mukerjee; now this looks like a must read. It's on an important and overlooked aspect of British/Indian history: the Bengal famine of 1943-44. 3.5 to 5 million Bengali's die; best not mention it just in case it upsets some folk memory of Churchill. So mainstream historians just whitewash history (and whitewash is exactly the right word in all its possible meanings). If any historian tried to ignore the crimes of Stalin or Mao in the same manner they would become pictures of ridicule. But it's allright for their western equivalents to do exactly the same.

You can read the ISJ for free:


I remember a wild, dreamlike, fling one summers night. She was beautiful; I was ecstatic. She was willing; I was fumbling, impatient, inconsiderate. Up there in her cold students flat with the pealing wallpaper and the gas that often did not work. I think of her in that grey dress – or was it blue? Never mind; she so vibrant and full of life. An image so ingrained on my mind as something monumental. But, alas, we can never have been together more than a few days.

Once conquered my interest seemed to flag. Then she got clingy and I saw my freedom evaporating. I avoided her; was out when she came by. She got demanding, bitchy and I shall always be ashamed of what I did. And then something about a new life; a half remembered new life. Something that did not interest me at the time. Finally she was gone; moved on I expect.

Now over the years I think about her sometimes; in those quite moments when sadness intrudes; in the dead of night when you cast your mind over what you could have done; when you regret what you should have achieved. I think of her as some disregarded responsibility.


The music pounded, I watched. The lights flicked madly, I watched. My head spun, I watched. They danced, a lithe sensuous dance, I watched, envious, from afar. I wanted so to join in. The dance shivered, became wild, exotic, erotic. I stood there, tempted, anxious, fearful.

I watched, I dare not approach; my awkwardness intervened, would not let me go.

Friday, 8 April 2011


Out of nowhere a vision of loveliness appeared. Twenty-something, dressed all in black, her jet black hair clasping her angelic face.

She passed, stopped and looked sharply back.

“Get along heres now,” she screamed at a toddler scurrying along behind. “Ain't waiting for yous. No way”

How disappointing.


“You read about such violence everyday,” said someone, somewhere.

“It makes me so mad,” said someone else.

“It's a terrible crime,” said (possibly) another.

“They're scum.”

“Stop being hysterical.”

“They should be hung.”

“That's so extreme.”

“I'd do it.”

“Don't be stupid.”

“Me, stupid.”

Someone screamed.

“Help, please, ambulance.”


It's a bright summers day and I'm walking down an almost empty street on the outskirts of town. As if from heaven a vision appears before me; so sweet, so cute, in a simple blue print dress. Her short hair and sandals entrance. I freeze, I stare, I'm bedazzled. I cannot find any words to utter.

Her lips move: “Business,” she says, dryly, coldly.

I turn and walk away. Again I could not find the words.

The rest of the day I spend in regret. 'If only,' I keep thinking, 'if, only.' But knowing, deep down, in a place I do not want it to be: it never could have been.


Late night, a taxi ride, we sit in silence and watch the empty streets. Tentatively, so tentatively, we touch fingers, smile at each other and hold hands. The thrill, the joy of such a simple act. The taxi draws up outside her house; her parents house. I get out as well, she wonders why, and say I can walk the rest of the way home. We linger at her front door. She insists we must keep quite; we cannot enter because of her parents. We stand, hold hands again, look at each other. And then that wonderful anticipation, might we, will we. She bends her head towards mine; a goodnight kiss, a long sensual goodnight kiss, she does not want to let go.

What a terrible disappointment; I leave, quick, quick, scurrying down the street. And swear to myself on the long rainy walk home: never to see her again.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


A woman, thirties, strums her guitar; woolly hat tightly pulled down; duffel coat, baggy. A large dog at her feet, half asleep, unblinking, watches shoppers as they stride passed; their shoes inches from its nose.

Annie sings of her life, of hazily remembered times. Of a better days tomorrow; but today, today, today... Her voice husky; no longer sweet. Annie sings of teenage dreams, of boys, of the future.

The song ends and the dog sits up, knowing it is time for home. The coins in the guitar's case are meticulously scooped up. Really, Annie needs to replace her guitar strings; before it's to late, before she cannot sing anymore; but there's not quite enough. On the bus home the dog dozes patiently under the seat.

Off the bus and into the corner shop; dog food and a bottle of cheep cider. Behind Annie a plump lady in a stern coat grumbles as the coins, oh so carefully, are counted out; all copper and silver.