Sunday, 27 November 2016

Social Mediocre

Social Mediocre

Social mediocre photo pest,

cocktail dresses to excess,

lumpen, frumpen, sporting sails;

launch The Pequod, lampoon the whale.

Guzzling gin and troughing cake,

Posting pictures somehow fake.

Vacant grin and double chin,

stinks out photos she is in.

Peripheral centre of attention,

shares whenever she craves affection.

What’s app? She’ll instagrab a grand

of emojis to demonstrate a stand.

Message, guessage, profile tricks,

relishing wrecks of relationships.

With nearly friends in almost places,

pictured with her mind in stasis.

Hector, Lector, vile spectre,

Turns up when you most expect her.

Retweeter keeper, likes collector,

timeline detective tick inspector.

Grizzler, grunter, snuffle truffler,

tell her but you’ll never muffle her.

Sodden fag-butt best forgotten,

teaspoon stuck at the bowel’s bottom.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Be Still Your Voice in My Head (At Ibn Al Ameed)

Be Still Your Voice in My Head
At Ibn Al Ameed

I can always hear your soft complaining
scolding at the spitting raining
grumbling at the dust and fumes
humming chosen ancient tunes
Hi Ho Wolverhampton and here we go
dodging assassin traffic flow
weaving across White Palace Interchange
hailing Karwas blue and strange
gritting, hissing, piss poor comments
railing at our waste and torments. You say:

‘Don’t yow throw that away.
You can get a square meal
out of that tin of fish, with chili sauce it’s a good deal,
that is.”
And though you’ve gone and bloody died
I'm hearing your voice from the other side,
your Brummie accent nags at my head,
even though you’re fooking dead.

Looking across to Doha City
gazing from the dust and shitty
shimmering beacons, myriad colours
remembering times shared as brothers
grinding underfoot the gravel and sand
thinking what never goes as planned
arriving now at Ibn Al Ameed
hailing cabs that halt at speed
bewildering spoken Arabian snatches 
fumbling with the car door catches. You say:

‘Yow could walk and save money, too
and avoid that bloody taxi queue,
yow could.”
And though you’ve gone and bloody died
hearing your voice from the other side,
your Brummie accent nags through my head,
even though you’re fooking dead.

Sitting alone in this foreign bar,
regretting that half an hour it took by car
scratching scabs and bed bug sores
scraping clots with fingered claws
nailing just one further beer
pushing back one single tear
nodding at people half remembered
mouthing music badly rendered
spinning head and choking fag
flirting with some wizened hag. You say:

‘Doha? What are we doing here anyway?
Wolves and Charlton play today,
We could have gone, we could, yow know.’
I know. I bloody know. Don't you know? Still:

It’s true you’ve gone and bloody died
and I think I’m missing something inside,
your Brummie accent nags in my head,
even though you’re fooking dead.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The History of Popular Television in the UK #41

The History of Popular Television in the UK

A series of articles which involve painstaking research, reconstruction and review.
Television as it happened – a document of the history of this once popular medium.


Mayhem and mirth on the streets of Peckham.

“Only Fools and Horses” was a cheaply realised situation comedy or ‘sitcom’ that ran for a couple of seasons in Britain in the 1980s.

Set in Peckham, London, it starred David Jason as Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter, a wheeling dealing confidence trickster of French extraction and his kid brother Rodney ‘Dipstick Plonker’ Trotter portrayed by Nicholas Lyndhurst.

Their comedy japes were ruined by a character called ‘Uncle Grandad’, a war veteran who had seen action in an assortment of frigates off the coast of Gibraltar. Uncle Grandad was played by several actors which did cause viewers some muddle.  The production team chose to conceal this confusing casting by having Uncle Grandad adopting comedy disguises: turbans, sunglasses and an unlikely outsized beard.

Typically an episode would consist of Rodney ‘Dipstick Plonker’ Trotter finding a valuable heirloom in Del Boy’s garage and selling it down the market for a million pounds with hilarious results.

The programme was cancelled after three seasons due to a disastrous drop in ratings as the writer ran out of valuable items for Rodney ‘Dipstick Plonker’ Trotter to find. Viewers complained in numbers after an episode entitled ‘Elephant in Peckham’ was shown which depicted Rodney finding a gigantic African bull elephant hidden under a carpet at the rear of the garage, claiming that it was ‘unrealistic’ and ‘strained the viewers credibility’.

Only Fools and Horses in:

‘Engaged of Peckham’

SCENE 1.  INT. LOCATION #1 - DAY 1  [09.20]



Del Boy. Is my breakfast ready?

Mon dieu, mon dieu, crème de menthe. You dozy old twonk. Can’t you see that I am grating the fromage?

Fromage? What’s that then, Del Boy? Is it eels? I don’t like eels. I had a bad experience with an eel during the war.  Adolf Eelter.

Adolf Eelter? Cor blimey, Guvnor, après ski, après ski. The only eels you ever saw was them high ‘eels when you was dressed as a prostitute spy behind enemy lines.


Where are you going Del Boy?

Pierre du temps! I’m going to lean on the cocktail bar, you dozy old bark, shut your noise!


Have you fallen through the bar again, Del Boy?

Boeuf a la mode! You dipstick, Uncle Grandad! Course I have. You wally. Stone me!

You’re always falling through them bars, Del Boy. You’ll do yourself a mischief. During the war, we was trained to fall through bars. Mars bars.

Mars bars. Mange tout. What does he take me for? A plonker? You twonk!


You fallen through the bar again, Del Boy?

Pot Pourri! Course I have, I have to do it every episode. Have you been in our garage again, Rodney, you dipstick plonker?

What you got there, Rodney?

Cor Blimey, it better not be another giant African bull elephant like the last time, you plonker, Rodney. Fromage frais, I still got bleeding nightmares about taking that past Peckham peanut shop. You said we would be millionaires! Well I had to pay that bloke nine sovs to replace all them peanuts, you dipstick!

Sorry about that Del Boy. Mickey Pearce said he knew a bloke that wanted an elephant as a pet and was prepared to pay top dollar for our elephant. Still that’s all over with now. Look what I found this time!

It looks like a fake silver plastic telephone money box! I ain’t seen one of those since we was off the coast of Gibraltar. During the war was told to retrieve dangerous German unexploded booby trapped fake plastic bomb telephone mines with boathooks and garters. Well, me and Jimmy Gutbiscuit was lowered off the starboard bow by our braces when…

Please! Not another nautical nightmare, Uncle Grandad! Fermez la bouche!

This ain’t no ‘German unexploded booby trapped fake plastic bomb telephone mine’, Uncle Grandad….at least…I DON’T THINK SO!

What’s that ticking noise? Like a clock? Mon dieu mon dieu can you hear it?

It’s most probably Uncle Grandad’s belly. Most strange noises seem to come from his direction. Let’s take this not actually a ‘German unexploded booby trapped fake plastic bomb telephone mine’ down the market and we’ll be millionaires!!

Right you are, Rodders! This time next year, he who dares wins and other cobblers.

Here, Del Boy – what if it is an ‘German unexploded booby trapped fake plastic bomb telephone mine’?

Shut up, you tart.


Saturday, 12 November 2016

What's App??

What’s App?


I’m going into town later if you change your mind. Let me know. 😟

I think that’s a nay. I have lots of work to do. Yesterday was a write off. I sat in and waited but in the end nothing happened and I’m behind now. Enjoy yourself, won’t you?

Coffee? Quickly, tell me. Yaay or naay?

I can be with you in ten minutes, darling.

Coffee? Shall I come over? It doesn’t matter if you are still in your PJs.

I’ll let you sleep, then.

I don’t have a sexy new boyfriend. I texted you and then I fell asleep. 😳

Right. I can only assume you have a sexy new boyfriend and he is detaining you at his pleasure. OK. Well, fine. That’s fine. I understand.

OK. I’m worried now. You never don’t text me. You text me all the time. What’s going on?

Are you there?

What’s up?

I’m going to bed in a minute, it’s late, sweetheart. Look I’ll leave the door on the latch. If you want to drive over and pop in. Mmmmmm. I’d like to pop in myself. You know? If you let me. I’ll take my time, you know. Popping in. I’ll be long and slow, smooth, you’ll hardly notice, I promise. I’ll be sweet, tender.

Just listening to some music. One of our tunes. It’s getting late.

OK – so it’s ten o clock. I thought you’d be here by now.

Seven o clock. I’m just going to fix myself a bite to eat, since we didn’t get to go out. Bloody starving. Nowt in the freezer.

OK, sexy.

Let’s compromise. You nap. I’ll fix myself a strong coffee, have a shower then see how we feel, OK? 😉

Oh dear. How are you feeling? Are we getting lunch? It’s getting on, you know. I need my old man afternoon nap now.

Four in the morning. 😱

What time did you get in?

Great! Sounds fantastic. 😛

Yeah, it was a good night. Saw the football, had a couple of beers. Haven’t got a hangover, the band was awesome – they played a right mixture: Wings, The Police, Floyd, AC/DC – I was up and dancing, at my age, I ask you xx

Afternoon, babes. 😋 Good night, last night? 😀

You OK? I thought I would have heard from you by now. Thought we were off for lunch and a stroll around town.

Hey! You up and about?

Friday, 11 November 2016

The History of Popular Television in the UK #32

The History of Popular Television in the UK

A series of articles which involve painstaking research, reconstruction and review.
Television as it happened – a document of the history of this once popular medium.

# 32: ‘DOCTOR WHO’
An Adventure in Time and Space

Doctor Who was invented by Verity Lambert in 1947 to replace a much-loved Saturday night sitcom called ‘Sykes’ which featured ‘Korky’ - an infuriating and unfunny policeman - who ruined every episode by being in it.

Famously she came up with the idea of an eccentric professor who would fly around the universe in a cupboard solving mysteries, when she was accidentally locked in a cupboard herself!

Whilst stumbling around in this cupboard, putting her feet in tin buckets, falling over mops and avoiding bleach (it was a cleaner’s cupboard), she decided that there wasn’t enough room in there to swing a cat.

It was now that she invented her protagonist: ‘Professor Clean’ and his sidekick, a robot cat called ‘Feel 9’, who would be useful in a scrape which involved mice or any other hordes of alien rodent invaders from Mars.

Verity wasted no time at all and filmed the first episode herself. She cast much loved veteran comedy actor Sid James as 'Clean'.

To her disappointment, however, the whole idea was scrapped almost immediately after the first episode aired. Literally dozens of letters of complaint were sent to Barry Took on ‘Points of View’ bemoaning the waste of licence fee payers’ money and demanding ‘Reality’ shows involving members of the public in airports.

Undeterred by failure, Verity did not let the grass grow under her feet and pitched the idea for a second ‘pilot’. This she titled ‘Practitioner Poo’. The second episode revolved around a ‘down on his luck’ futuristic stool doctor from Dudley who examined excrement for a living inside his gigantic box which he had invented to shield the stench of poo poo from the rest of the nation.

Alas this was not taken to the hearts of the viewing public either and was dubbed ‘shit’ which was accurate if a little unfair.

But the seeds were sewn and, with a little imagination, the ‘Practitioner’ became a ‘Doctor’ and the gigantic box became the TARDIS. This time the show was a runaway success and history, as they say, was made.

Many stories were aired that became firm favourites and are still remembered fondly today:

SPUDLEKS INVADE EARTH! (6 Episodes) by Terry Prodpluck: The Spudleks, a race of hostile robots, invade Earth and plan to pilot it around the cosmos with a gigantic motor.

MOONSHITTER! (4 Episodes) By Gerry Fudclotter: The Doctor lands on the Moon and discovers some hostile aliens called ‘Moonians’ plotting to attach a gigantic motor to the moon and pilot it around the cosmos for a bit until they get bored.

And of course:

‘THE INFINITY ROOMS’ (3 Episodes) by Norman Boilbugger: The Doctor lands on earth and discovers a plot to evict millions of council tenants from their homes by charging them extra if they have too many bedrooms.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Oh LOOK! It’s J R Hartley

Oh LOOK! It’s J R Hartley

Well, the rain drums upon slumbering dreams.
While you’re searching for a plumber.
It’s the dripping mists of the summer.
Wishing you had used that telephone book,
And it’s taking you bloody ages to look.
When someone, somewhere, suddenly screams:
‘Oh LOOK! It’s J R Hartley!’

Traffic snarls to a screaming halt
People gaze in shock and awe.
Three wheeled baby buggies smack the kerb,
cell phones buffer, that pin is heard.
Not just there for the nasty things in life,
Like a dripping tap or a moaning wife:
‘Oh LOOK! It’s J R Hartley!’

Your sodden carpet quickly forgotten,
they thrust their fingers in his direction.
The whispers start, it’s really him!
Fly Fishing, bookshops, the rueful grin,
The dialled phone, the temper, the rages,
The silly old duffer from Yellow Pages:
‘Oh LOOK! It’s J R Hartley!’

Wine from water, to touch his hem,
flocks of people surge as one,
with paper and pens: ‘Is it a crime
to tell us of fishing with flies, if you’ve time?
Tell us of numbers and dials and books
of fruitless searches and sorrowful looks:
Save us, Save us!  J R Hartley!’

But it’s not a fisher of men you need,
to stem the tide before the flooring is wrecked.
Shove to the front and jab his chest,
would it be crass to simply confess?
And point out the obvious ocular truth,
to something so witless and long in the tooth?

J R Hartley? Know the number of any good plumbers, then?
Thought not!’

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Little Acorns

Little Acorns

Every day, Derek watched the sun fry the desert until it was crisp and dry.

From the slit of a window in his office, he gazed on frenetic construction. Daily, men punished themselves in the heat, ripping apart the mud and clinker. Towers were taking root in the sand. Roads leading nowhere yet were birthing out of the soil into concrete cloverleaves. Traffic crawled on its belly, waiting for the next jam to open.

Within the school, however, all was cool and air conditioned. Derek came away from the window and was grateful.

It was hot out there.

On his first night away from England, he recalled, he had taken a walk without carrying any bottled water. Breathing had been like swallowing a fan assisted oven on full. Not a mistake he intended to make again.

Now, six weeks into his new role as Head of Science, Derek was starting to feel more relaxed. Leaving England to teach in the desert had not been an easy decision.

But, similarly, teaching in England had become an impossible job. The pay had worsened, year on year. The class sizes had increased. Low budgets had resulted in redundancies and decay. It had been killing him to watch schools cheat their way to good results then crash, burn and die anyway. And it was the children. The betrayal of the children. That hurt him the most.

Here however, things were different. The symbol of the school was an acorn set against an oak tree, It was everywhere – on the front of the concrete building, the interior walls, the stationery and, of course, on the uniform the children wore. Little acorns.

Derek walked from his office and into the gymnasium. There was a rousing cheer from the assembled students. An Indian girl, shrouded in an abaya, was speaking. Her face was cheerful and her smile infectious. She was pointing at her slide show and sharing. “You all love curry, right?” And there was another huge cheer.

International Day. A chance to celebrate all cultures and all countries. Derek grinned to himself, quietly happy.

“Excuse me?”

Derek felt the tap tap of fingers on his shoulders. He turned away from the children. Facing him was a woman. Her mouth was smiling but the eyes…there was something about the eyes. “Hello?”

“You don’t know me, of course, Mr Derek,” she mouthed, in a soft voice. The accent had a harsh, nasal twang to it.

“No, no, I’m sorry,” spluttered Derek, “I was just charmed. For a moment. By the children, it’s a wonderful thing, this, isn’t it? International celebration.”

“You’re new here. Can we talk? Let’s go to your office.” She adjusted her headscarf. It was an impatient gesture.

“Of course. Anything in particular?”

By now they had reached his office, a glass fronted affair that afforded no privacy. The world looked in and watched education in progress. On a daily basis.

Derek often caught himself considering moving the book shelves in front of the glass, or putting up a gigantic poster. But, in the end, he had got used to people walking past and popping in on a whim to say hello. It was rather lovely, in an odd way. It made everything quite transparent.

“Well, yes.” The woman’s eyes had not warmed, despite Derek’s enquiring smile. She seated herself, arms folded. “I am Ms Rachel. The Principal’s PA. We have not yet met.”

“Well, we have now,” grinned Derek, reaching for his notepad. It was the wrong thing to say, though. A cloud scudded across her face.

“I’m here on a personal matter. You don’t know this, but my daughter attends school here. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning this, but…” the conjunction was left hanging, waiting for the drop.

Derek stop smiling and leant forward, pen poised. “Oh, OK. What’s the problem?”

“She is not happy in her class, Mr Derek. She has come home complaining. She is very upset.”

Derek mentally slapped himself around the chops for his optimism. Did he teach her? Who was she? He took a mental register and looked inwards at all the faces. No. Nobody looking distressed or shedding tears. Just rows of cheerful, smiling faces. “Is she in my class, Ms Rachel?”


“Oh, good. I don’t like to think of children being in any way unhappy.”

“Well she is, Mr Derek. I wonder if you can do something about it?”

“Of course. If I can help, I will.”

Ms Rachel’s face softened slightly and she leant forward to take him into her confidence. “You have placed her is Set 3. You don’t know my daughter. She should be in the top set.”


“No, it is wrong. Every night she comes home complaining that the work is too easy for her. She does not feel in any way challenged. It is affecting her. She will not eat her food. She will not sleep at night. She no longer finds Science interesting. Where, last year, Science was her favourite subject.”

Flicking his computer on and fiddling with the mouse, Derek groaned inwardly. Had this nonsense followed him from England? A file opened on his desktop and he glanced at some data, running fingertips across his sweaty forehead. He turned the screen towards Ms Rachel. “Her scores from last year seem to indicate she has been placed in the right set, Ms Rachel. The teacher, Mr Thurber, is one of our best physicists. He has been given that set because he understands his subject and has a track record of getting the best from the youngsters. I’ve seen him. He is a terrific teacher.”

“That data is wrong, Mr Derek. My daughter should be in the top set.”


“She had a bad test that day. I have explained it to the Principal. He agrees. I would, ah, like her to be moved into top set. Starting tomorrow.”

Closing the file with a click of the mouse, Derek sighed and stood. “I’ll look into it.”

Ms Rachel also raised herself and opened the office door, “I’d appreciate that, Mr Derek.”

As she walked past the celebratory assembly that was coming to its conclusion, Derek caught sight of the Principal who glanced at him, then joined Ms Rachel. They now stood together, looking over the children, applauding.

Derek opened a desk drawer and picked up his diary, emblazoned with the school’s logo. “Little acorns,” he muttered to himself. He wondered, idly, if there were any flights to Reykjavik leaving that week.

Thursday, 13 October 2016



Molly coddles eggs with nutmeg and spices,
conjures confections, all shapes and sizes.
Sugar and dishes, menthol pleasures,
and kissing, hissing cinnamon treasures.

While deep among the orchard’s paving,
With visions of sailing, squash and bathing,
The grand master contemplates tessellations,
Hums snatches of shanties from far away nations.

Where my back browned in the sun from above,
and warmed in the comfort of far gone love.
Fragrances, fragments; the dust of a dream,
malting and melting the distant Cymbeline.

 Who could have known, lying then, on that beach,
something so precious could be so far from reach?

Monday, 3 October 2016

Thrust Upon Them

Thrust Upon Them

To move mountain ranges of expertise
is by no means easy. Ask Ramesses.
The wheels of the gears need grease.

He bounded over the desk by the window ledge like a springbok.

Well not really like a springbok - more like an ancient octopus that had been mouldering in a sea cave corner for several centuries, had replaced his limbs with prosthetic tentacles, and was in need of the cephalopoda valet service.

I say this because he became tangled in the furniture and cracked his chin painfully on hardwood stools.

This, however, did not daunt him one jot. He thrust out a hand.

“Kirk, Jim Kirk.” He looked expectantly at me as the name should mean something. It didn’t.

His hand was bleeding where it had cracked the edge of the stool, so he withdrew it and wiped it on his tunic. “Sorry. I’m Captain Kirk. Ah gee, OK, so you’re not a fan, then.”

I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. “Is this the leadership course? The flyer said it was on floor 30, Horizon Heights Building.”

Jim Kirk gestured to a couple of seats. “Ah, leadership. The poisoned chalice. You have been offered a position? Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown? Come on, sit down, sit down. Rest your weary bones.” Kirk frowned as if remembering something important, then muttered. “Bones. Bones?” He shook his head as if to shake out an unpleasant thought.

“Where’s the rest of the class, then?” I sat on one of those cheap blue chairs. You know the sort? Some hefty arse has cracked the seat and your buttock flesh is frequently pinched by jagged plastic edges. Wincing, I used my feet to pull the chair nearer to the classroom table and leant forward.

Kirk remained standing. Sizing me up.

I hadn’t wanted to be any sort of leader, of course, I’d had enough of that malarkey. Middle management - the impossible job. Those above issue dictats to deliver miracles and those below whine, whinge, wail and gnash. And you know what? It’s that middle pay, too. Not quite enough to be comfortable, but slightly too much to turn down. Middle ground all the way. Bastards. No. I hadn’t wanted to be any sort of leader. What I wanted was out.


“Yes, like your advertisement said.” I adopted the tone I’d heard on the radio. A mid-western American drawl. “You’re exhausted with flaccid, middle leadership. You’re fed up with trying to please everybody and you please nobody, not even yourself. You suffer the tedium of endless meetings. You’re looking for the way out of the maze. You want to accelerate and fast? Well here at The Enterprise, we understand and we can help.”

“Ah, of course. Class.” Kirk whipped his hand down and behind to his back pocket, clutched a slim, cubed shaped object, snapped it open with a wrist flick and spoke into it. “Kirk, here. Lieutenant Sulu? Bring in some coffee.”

We waited. Some time passed and I looked at him. Boots, gaiters, tight trousers pinching together a paunch and an ill-fitting yellow tunic emblazoned with a shiny, plastic ‘A’ shaped badge. He looked like he’d escaped from the sixties and was that a wig? Surely not.

Jim Kirk shook his cube with irritation. “Sulu? Sulu!” He flung it down in front of me in disgust. “Seems not to be working,” he coughed. Which was hardly surprising – I’d seen more authentic looking communications devices down Stepney Market. “We’ll forget the coffee for now,” he continued. He sat down opposite me on a similar chair and winced as plastic teeth nipped at generous portions of backside. “What seems to be the trouble?”

“Well, Mr Kirk,” I began, “I do believe I’ve had enough of complaints, criticisms and trying to deliver the impossible.” I stopped. He wasn’t listening but was poking his cube in irritation.

“How am I expected to work under these circumstances?” he complained. “I mean; will you look at this? I don’t want to be critical of Starfleet Command, but I’ve seen better looking cell phones. They expect me to do comply with the prime directive using shit like this? Well, it’s impossible.”

“Well, exactly, Mr Kirk.” I offered.

Still he ignored me. He took the cube, flicked it open with his wrist and screamed into it. “Scotty! Scotty! Where in heck are you with my belloni sandwich? Scotty!”

“Yes, Captain?” The third voice did indeed have a Scottish burr to it, and Jim Kirk grinned at me.

“Ah!” he exclaimed, waving the cube in my face. “See? It does work!”

“Ah, no Captain, you were shouting so loud I could hear you downstairs.”

“Bollocks. Fucking tat.” Kirk flung the cube on the floor and petulantly booted it several times around the room where it smashed into furniture and splintered into a thousand plastic shards. “Sorry. Look, don’t worry, I’ve got another one somewhere.”


“So what is your line of work? Communications officer? Photon torpedo loader? Red shirt security guard? That sort of thing?”

“I’m a teacher.”

Kirk sat back down, adjusted his feet and pulled his tunic over his belly. “Teacher, huh? Of course. No wonder you want out. Your pay’s gone down, your workload is impractical, your buildings are dilapidated, all those shit meetings…and when was the last time you had a decent fist fight with a Klingon then phasered him to death?”

“I don’t want out, Mr Kirk, I want acceleration and fast. Like you promised. I’m fed up with being a middle manager.”

Jim Kirk looked at me sceptically. “Really? Have you ever dipped your chop stick in the sweet and sour sauce?”


“Let me tell you a story, my friend.” Kirk leaned forward, conspiratorially. His face creased as though he was about to impart great wisdom. His drawl softened slightly. “When I was a young man, my daddy, Poppa Kirk, took me into the gentlemen’s convenience. It was a store in downtown Brooklyn. You understand?”

I pretended too.

“Good. So this was an important occasion. For four years now I had to sit. On the john. The john?”

Again, I hadn’t a clue. My face must have betrayed me.

“My pants around my ankles, being helped to poop, the paper torn for me, being shown how to shake. But this time, Poppa Kirk said, I was ready. Ready to use the standing fixtures. I was greatly excited.”

I tried not to picture the scene but it was almost impossible.

“Picture the scene, man. Poppa Kirk on my left, a tower of a man. Wee Jimmy Kirk by his side. Our Mr Winkies popped out and ready to shoot. But, boy oh boy…” Jim Kirk shuddered and his face creased, “I lost my nerve at the last minute, missed my aim and pissed all over the stranger on my right…and I couldn’t stop it. I just couldn’t stop it.” Kirk was shaking. He rose and walked bitterly around until he was behind me. “Poppa Kirk was apologising, he’s down on his knees and using his neckerchief to clean up my mess off the guy’s trousers and shoes…”

“That must have been terrible for you, Mr Kirk,” I muttered, stifling the urge to laugh.

“It was, man, it was.”

“But what has it to do with middle management?” I asked.

“Who knows? I just thought I’d share. To unburden myself from this terrible weight I have carried all these years. Sharing is caring, you know?”

“Do you want me to share now, Mr Kirk?” I asked, searching around for a story involving myself pissing randomly on somebody’s shoes.

“Hell, no. I don’t give a hoot about that. Where you swing your cock is your business, man.” He was now by the window. He picked up a couple of cuboid communicators and threw one at me which I caught. Kirk flicked his open and gestured at me to do the same. He fiddled with a plastic button on his so I followed suit.

“So, Mister.” snapped Kirk, “You’re ready?”

I shrugged, realising I’d been wasting my time. “Sure, Mr Kirk.”

Kirk hefted his considerable weight onto the window sill. He now dangled his legs out of the window, thirty floors above concrete below, gazing downwards towards the crawling traffic of vehicles and population. It was a terrible drop.

I looked shocked, of course. Was he intending to throw himself down? But Kirk raised an ironic eyebrow at me. “I sure hope Spock is ready, Mister.” He grimaced. “Now, you follow me, right? Practise this.”

Kirk had the cube at his mouth. “Beam me up, Scotty. Beam me up,” he said, loudly. Then looked one last time. “You got that? You sure?”

I nodded but moved forwards quickly and clung on to the thin yellow tunic. “Yes, Mr Kirk, ‘beam me up, Scotty’,” I said, “but surely you don’t intend to…”

“Listen, Mister. Leadership is all about the big chair. The difficult decisions, taking risks, leaping into the unknown. It ain’t about meetings, moaning and taking courses in people skills. You want acceleration? Then try this.”

And Kirk jumped.

There was a fistful of yellow tunic in my hand where it ripped.

A screaming cry of, “beam me up, Scotty.”

Then nothing.

For a moment I stared below -  thirty floors from the top of Horizon Heights Buildings. Thirty floors into the past. Behind me, the room was empty. Just some cheap plastic chairs, a few dilapidated desks and the opened door to the stairwell sat in mocking silence.

I raised the cuboid to my lips.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Hero's Journey

The Hero’s Journey
Exclusive Interview with Paula Yates.

Ray sips his non-alcoholic Bovril and leans forward intensely, with those gorgeous brooding eyes of his and I ask him: surely a low point of your career? He laughs bitterly.

“Oh for sure! ‘Preservation’ had received hateful reviews; misanthropic musos wielding their hacksaw pens. I was estranged from Dave by now. The sleeve of my latest opera about schoolboys was slated for its too realistic depiction of corporal punishment. Dark days. Lowest point of my life.

My agent had assured me that appearing on ‘The Generation Game’ would be just the boost my career needed. BBC family audience. Saturday night. They were doing Romans that week.

At least it wasn’t bloody ‘Crackerjack’.

To be frank, though, I wasn’t too certain; my life in a ‘fragile’ state – if you get my meaning?

Course I was having a hair of the dog in the ‘Hounds’, bloody late as usual. I grabbed my Fender Acoustic off Jimmy and hared up Wood Lane in this toga and laurels I’d borrowed from Richie Blackmore. An hour before recording; jumped in the lift and thrust my guitar into the hands of the other occupant. We were fellow travellers, after all.

I remember thinking he was well dressed; I thought I knew him from somewhere. He looked at me with either disapproval or disbelief, sucked his cheeks in and pouted.

Then – the lift just cut out. Kaput. Between floors. We were stranded. Funny really.

His only solution to the situation was to mince to and fro in the lift and issue a string of double entendres in an affected high pitched voice. He was a walking catchphrase, that one. ‘Shut that door’, ‘You are awful’, ’Top it Up Ted’ and all the time manicuring his fingers with an invisible file. We were certainly doomed.

But, and don’t laugh, this was a turning point. I had to act. I could see a hatch above my head, dangerous, I know, but possible. All I had to do was to open it, go through and signal.

Now, what to use? Frightened though I was, I looked through his shopping. A stiff breadstick and huge banana presented…possibilities. Tie these together and use my knowledge of semaphore and we might be free. I may perhaps have used my guitar strings to secure them together but didn’t want to disappoint an expectant England, you know? As a Kink, I could never countenance a cancellation due to broken strings.

No. It had to be the eyeglass chain around my companion’s neck.

He flinched. "Oh, dearie me, no. What a big one, as I remarked to Top Shelf Tess, just the other day.” I knew he didn't want me to risk it, as though he was begging me not to go. I ignored him and jumped.

Voiding into the darkness above, clenching the banana’d baguette fiercely, like some medieval lance, I ascended towards light. With a vigorous flourish of bread and banana, I attracted the bell boy and, mission successful, vaulted back below in triumph. My tittering companion stared open mouthed as the lift restarted its rattling ascent towards freedom.

As I played ‘Lola’ that night, witnessed by millions of Generation Game - Heads, it was like my resurrection. But that was only half of it. Imagine my surprise when I found out…my companion was none other than the host himself!’

Ray sits back and looks at me with elegant wry amusement and chuckles. So, conspiratorially I feel it’s time to ask him about his new LP ‘Give the People What They Want’