Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Afterglow




Like clouds.

Baked, now cold.

Unforgiving death.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Jean Abercromby, Mrs Morison of Haddo, about 1767

By Allan Ramsay (1713 – 1784)
Every morning I have to clean this room and light the fire. Everything has to be neat and tidy before they all come down in this big draughty house. Then my mistress runs me around all day, fetch this, get that. Even when you make an effort nothing is good enough for her. Never stops complaining.

That's her picture up there, up above the fireplace, looking down on me, looking down on everyone. As if it's checking up on everything I do. That's her picture allright, though she's a lot older now. Everyone says she's some great beauty, but I can't see it. Not as pretty as my sister. But I suppose they only say that because she has all that finery.

She sent my sister away. She used to clean this room, like me now. Accused her of stealing some silly trinket. Not that you could get away with taking anything around here. Those lot keep an eye on everything they've got. One little thing out of place and they fine you. Or you're out, no references.

Then they go and find it again. Her up there had mislaid it, taken it upstairs somewhere. I'm not allowed up there. Does she apologise? Does she bring my sister back? Of course not, they just carry on as if nothing had happened. They don't care about the likes of you and me. It's over there on that side table – horrible, ugly thing isn't it. Good mind to take it myself, get revenge. Only then my life wouldn't be worth living.

One day I'll get her up there back, you'll see. I can bide my time.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Liverpool at Night

What do they?
Police run away.

What glimpse?
One brief moment of power.

What of they?
Spewing racist filth.

Where are we?
The crowd victorious.

Thursday, 4 August 2011


feast of yesteryear.

of the new free age.

Portrait of a Man with a Book, about 1524

By Francesco Mazzola,
called Parmigianino (1503 – 1540)
I've searched everywhere for this legendary book. In all the great libraries of Rome, Athens and China. Whenever I could gain employment in the library of a noble house, I was there, offering my services.

Now I have stumbled across it here in this miserable place. In this rainy English market town, hidden in the unused library of a brainless aristocrat. Too stupid to understand the treasure he possessed.

At last in my hands The Secrets of Alchemy. The turning of base metal into gold. I shall possess great wealth beyond my dreams. All I have to do is escape with this treasure. They'll never notice it missing: most of the books here are left rotting.

It has cost me everything to find. I have lost my precious Parma estate with its wonderful orchards and fine wine. My beloved wife of noble birth and family. All my wealth and honour. And almost my very mind.

Now it is in my hands what is the secret? That wonderful secret of the ancients. Nothing. Nothing I have not already read a thousand times. Nothing that I have not tried and has proved a dismal failure. My whole life's work is over, it is in ruins.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Wrong Twin

Malcolm's wedding was all too rapidly approaching and he found himself inundated with details that held little interest. These were the usual boring, tedious, despicable wedding day details: flowers to order, most of which he could not tell apart nor name nor describe; places he had never heard of that suddenly became of paramount importance; people he had no idea of, had never heard of and were somehow related; seating plans with the complexity of Fermat's Last Theorem; and transport arraignments that made Heathrow Airport look decidedly simple (and potentially with almost as many bags lost). Is it any wonder Malcolm took to daydreaming and reminiscing?

* * *

Oh yes, reminiscing, back to the summer when he was eleven, was it eleven? Something like that, anyway it's not important, just that it was a far simpler time. Such summers of your youth are always bright, sunny and endless, especially the ones remembered with such deep affection. Hence that indisputable fact probably wasn't true. Most likely it was just as cloudy, rainy and dull as the one heralding his wedding and with as few miserable flickers of sunshine.