Sunday, 8 May 2016

The devil came down to Tullamore ( a short aside )


I was searching through the streets of what might have been Cardiff or Aberkenfig, hard to say. Running bare foot down the streets , looking for a blue ford Cortina, the last model before they discontinued it in favor of the ford Mondeo. Memories of sheet glass windows , empty shops full of car boot junk. I found one but it was the wrong color , it had to be a blue Ford Cortina.

Later on I met up with an old college friend , two , one with medium length dark hair and thigh high velvet boots , the other short cropped blond hair. We were going to have sex. 

Blank people blank spaces , shiny metropolis , shiny dirt free spaces, meaningless car chases under street lights . The seventies were better.

The roads are bare and shiny with rain , the cliched wet slick Amerikon blacktop.

Click-otron headline Machine generated .

A tour of the united states ( untied states) ( incorrect ) the headline reads ' A tour of the future of hot dogs in the united states'

We argue endlessly on discussion forums , nothing changes.

It is not the debate that has fractured. But our consciousness , I can't formulate an idea or read a book and maintain the plot or the idea of a plot in my mind. But then I have always experienced words rather than reading them.

The ultimate art form of the early 21st century is the selfie. People die for them , fall off buildings , into geysers , get run over in traffic , a race of zombies staring at screens wandering around towns and countryside , driving , with blue tinged near death skin , eyes following the on screen updates and important rat runs of click bait and repetitive information that leads in circles tails tied to string round and round until the butterfly catcher in the 0s and 1s catches them in its ever present net. I watch in horror and weariness as I open a browser window yet again , this is too much like work , wearying and pointless , work in the real world has some goal , this has none , to the same pages followed by the same cookies an electronic decay like tooth decay or walking the same line on grass to gradually wear it away in white sneakers which rub and wear down gradually till its socks and then feet then skin then blood then bone then stump then hands then nose then nothing , a bloody streak drying in the grass of repetition.

Modern horror stories

I left my baby to fry in the car whilst buying an I phone.

Man swallows phone and charger whilst on day release from prison.

Our shadows glide on and off shiny surfaces in shopping malls which play subliminal music from the past to make us buy nostalgically infantalizing products covered in kittens made by child labor in far eastern countries, in ten years time the music will be from now, so our children can be captured by this net.

Debt is the only common denominator in all relationships.

I walked into town and there was nothing there , the city had crumbled , the people had faded behind their net curtains , bleached and flyblown as they wondered from Grey transparent room to Grey transparent room , the final destination of all surveillance is inertia and decay , a mutually assured destruction of the soul.

A friend posted a link on face-book to a record by Nick Cave, city of refuge, a track from the album tender prey. I wrote a lot at college , I told him that I had written a novel and called it city of refuge after the record , he asked me if it was the one laying in a box in storage with the rest of his things in Liverpool. Somewhere in Liverpool in a dark dry space is a book I will never see again. How many novels lurk in dark storage spaces , another of my unpublished novels was thrown out by a different friend who was having a garage clear out, like my father skipping our childhood toys and books when my mum understandably divorced him and left our childhood home for freedom.

Its a death trip from now on.

we are born , we live , we die , there is no other point , our only entry into this is not of our making , nor is our exit , everything you do between now and death is pointless , you will be forgotten as the dirt piles onto you , as you were ignored in life , every other structure you want to put on it is false. Our experience is forgotten , or gathered in libraries of huddling forgetfulness which try and retain the spark of life for that bit longer . We fade we die we are dust. Those who would tell you of purpose or hold you to responsibilities are lying.

I live in a culture which is slowly being subverted by a mono culture , even the spell check on my laptop is amerikan , films amerikan , society amerikan . I watch the country I grew up in being slowly pulled apart and reconfigured as a model of a failing model , as amerika sinks into the grave of redundant political and social philosophy it is dragging our thin adoring corpses behind it , there is no globalization only a zombie conquest which eats all in its path and leaves behind human wreckage and lying politicians , cynicism and pessimism are now the go to fall backs for any expression in any situation. We are so desperate to meet death we invite it into our homes and our hearts , through our televisions ever wider to consume more of our souls , our phones ever more expensive to justify slave labor wages and slave mindsets. Too busy getting the next thing to protest we are engineers of our own great defeat. Like the gm crops in the fields and the corn syrup fat poor we blame for their obesity we are becoming mono thought and mono crop culture.

City of refuge

You are nowhere. Birmingham from the train from Droitwich. Do right, go to church, respect those in authority over you , Gothic wasteland of fast decaying industrial buildings, coal in train sidings, old Victorian train signals, old Victorian bridges , the slam of carriage doors , the long walk uphill to the train station and the right side of town divided by housing estates and playing fields and the A38. Walk and walk through the old thirties and forties roads , stare in at the windows , lights on old CRT televisions , cusp of change , cusp of chance on the border between this and that the junk shop across the road from the railway bar where there was an acoustic guitar with f holes and a cello back reinforced with a steel plate that you stared out. Up to Dodderhill and look down across the town being rebuilt. This is no place to live and run run run , on the train to Birmingham stare out at a town being systematically ground and bulldozed , all the futures that ever was or ever will be cut down before they can start. Do right , go to church , respect those who have authority over you. Max headroom stuttering in the corner of sensoria , camera angles swinging , cutting away the umbilical chord of reality , you'd better run boy, you'd better run and run and run.

A man walks into town at night, the Doors 'riders on the storm' playing in his head. Light rain on slippery sodium flared tarmac. We all live in a movie of our own making. Past the bungalows on the mile long road , past the industrial park and the scrubby field where thin and mangy horses snuff and bark the night air . Cars pass by , slow washes of sound bouncing off low brick walls and hedges , stuttering past Grey galvanized lamp posts and wooden telegraph poles . Up short driveways porch lights are on , cars parked for the night , faint tinking of cooling engines, snatched views of widescreen televisions or doorstep conversations .The rain glitters in the streetlights , silver against the night blue full moon of the sky. This is the blue he sees when he blacks out , shapes and colors turned into moonlight , like breaking through to the other side , a ghost light into which people slip and slide. And still he keeps on walking , down to the roundabout with the spiral mound and up the side of the canal towards the rickety bridge. Walking walking walking.

He didn't want to waste money on a taxi. Had to get to the bar with as much money as possible, need is its own provider of reason. And down through the town , past the Gardai station and the takeaways, people moving around him, shadows in doorways , keep in the light and keep your head down. The opera singer walking the early morning streets of Paris singing to herself as she walked by shuttered shops.

His memories place him elsewhere while he walks down this street. Waiting for the warm moment of entering the bar and sitting at the counter , the sense of resignation and anticipation, staring into the void that beckons behind the mirrored shelves.

This is a bar with a jukebox , The Corrs 'runaway' , and Alanis Morissette , 'Jagged little pill' , listening to radio in a new country and finding a station he liked , not as good as back home , but the best he could find , surprise at new angry music that suits his mood. But drunks make bad musical choices and tonight is no different , what made him think the Corrs was a good choice as he stares into the mirrors above the bar , waiting for his face to melt as it always does.

He took out the bag he had been carrying and Placed a crow , a pack of cards and a notebook on the bar.

He said to no-one in particular ' the only thing unique you have these days are the thoughts inside your head , guard them well, else the thief will steal your dreams' the cards spread themselves across the counter of the bar , a blur of motion and pattern , the crow tapped a rhythm on the bar and the note book fluttered open. 

The jukebox stuttered , the chemical brothers anachronistic and aggressive spat out of the speakers , a mutant mix of new order and coil , out of control , out of control. And the dance begins.

In the corner the shadows coalesce.

Who are you and why are you here?

The magician woke up with four cats staring down into his face , panic , not afraid , vague and the ginger who went to town. Panic was his early warning system , as soon as anybody entered the field panic would come rushing into the bender and hide . Especially when the angry drunk came lurching in threatening violence or bringing home brew he'd stolen from an artist who lived over the fields in an old ramshackle thatched cottage. The cats had turned up one day, the angry drunk had taken in a feral stray , named her gizmo. She had , as is the way with cats , got pregnant and had kittens, then carefully moved them one by one from the angry drunks bender to his. He had no-one else to talk to , the angry drunk was someone to be wary of, the old hippy had left a while back promising to return but he never did , the promises of hippies are worth next to nothing. 

At night he could hear the horses across the brook running around in the moonlight , just before dark they ran a circle of the fields then quietened down , but on full moons they chased and ran like demons through the blue light , the ground hammered into a dull throbbing drum.

Going into town was, different, up the steep stony track to the road , hitch a lift or call a taxi , or walk down the narrow twisty lane and wait at the side of the road or walk the seven miles past the unfinished bungalow and the creeping strip development, down into town on the wrong side of the road. He always went to the same cafe for coffee and a sandwich , he'd got so used to the company of the cats that when he started to talk to people he would begin to purr.

The angry drunk carried a blackthorn stick with a large cudgel head , he called it 'the equalizer'. He carried it partly as affectation, partly as a threat to go along with his graying beard , 90's chic army coat and balding dreadlocks. He had lived in the field with the Magician and the hippy but they asked him to leave, he had become an embarrassment, going into town getting drunk, fighting with the locals, bringing back oddities looking for the center of centers, and just being generally obnoxious and threatening. Now he lived in a corner of a different field offered to him by the dour farmer his charm had insinuated into his good graces, alcohol and charm go hand in hand, a promise of things to be delivered , dreams to be had, never acted upon beyond the dream of the drink. The dour farmer also owned the cottage in which lived the young artist.

The crow tapped angrily on the bar , he had seen his brethren hung from telegraph poles on the way into town, ragged handkerchiefs of black glinting in the rain as the slow headlights bounced along the wires. He ignored the cat that had followed the magician into town and kept watch by the door, who you bring is not my concern.

The magician lurched from the corner seat towards the bar.

Hello friend , hello friend.

The man who sat behind his screen sat behind his screen , didn't go out much , he knew how to rebuild nearly any computer from scratch , like the night he was trying to finish a video that needed to be submitted for an exhibition the day after and he had to fight every twenty minutes to save the work that he had done editing a short film before the computer crashed , he swapped machines , ripped hard drives out , fought against crashing programs all to finish a vanity project his sister had enlisted him in the making , and now as always here he is behind the screen. 

His eyesight is beginning to suffer from all the hours sat in front of CRT and LCD . Whilst arranging his photographs thematically in an abortive attempt to earn money through submitting photos to stock library's he developed a bump on his right hand just to the right of his thumb and two inches below his middle finger from using and ancient laptop with a dodgy track pad. His mobile used to look like an electronics junkyard , he would regularly come back from car boot sales with five or six old towers to dissect , marveling at the insides of the motherboard or modem or heat-sink , the inner wiring of hard drive to motherboard , the sound of the cooling fans , or the noise a hard drive made when starting up. 

Some contained the information of previous users , business plans , novels , whole sets of screenplays for a TV series (on later research found to have been transmitted) all of this before he had learned the art of scouring deleted information out of its hiding places. So simple . So easy.

The magician would have no time for this.

But then he was on a bus passing through the dark countryside, winter lights passing by , the hiss and stutter of the bus, small cottages and bigger boom time hulks lit up in the gloom light. Through small villages  into the night , dark outside and running lights inside. 

The bus driver was south African , she knew which stops each passenger wanted , knew them by face or name.

The city had been disintegrating for decades , the shiny promises of successive identical governments had created an island of development around the old town which started to fall apart almost as soon as the crash happened. Somebody had driven a car into one of the apartment blocks that rose from the newly planted grass verges , a huge dent in the concrete next to a net curtained window on the ground floor. The complicated tangle of streets led back into the crowded old town but rather skirted round the edge in a series of roundabouts where roads started but stuttered out after a few meters leading into flooded fields filled with winter ponds and heaps of gravel and the inevitable tattered coming soon sign showing brightly lit houses and happy family's shopping in the (empty) mini mall across the empty roads.

The housing estates were grafted on, identical pebble dash semi d's in a few years time the first of them would start to crumble and crack , sinking and rising as the infill under the slab started to expand and contract, just like the economy built on house prices and money borrowed from computers which on instruction from warped mathematician bankers dreamed it all up overnight.

At night it was beautiful, now that the concrete silos and orange jacketed workers had gone home, cold new led light shining down De Chirico streets echoing with random footfall , the sound of automatic doors in the empty minimal or the lonely blatter of under powered boy racer exhausts bouncing off the rows of apartment walls.

Some of the laborers had stayed on , renting the apartments they had helped build, ghost tenants on ghost estates , landlocked and isolated from culture and time, lost blow ins from E.U expansion who came for the promise of work and money , a better life, opened their own shops , sometimes apologized for not speaking English , why apologize for the ignorance of those who wouldn't take the time to learn Polish , or Lithuanian or Bulgarian , rich culture drowning in the tide of western ersatz. 

Dead roundabouts leading nowhere , dead culture leading nowhere, he took the bus a few times a week going from work to where his girlfriend lived , the girlfriend he wasn't sure existed, relationships conducted in the haze of tiredness and travel always blurring into sex or sleep or waking to catch the bus back to the town where he worked.

He got off the bus, walked down the rain streaked streets smeared with window light and the dull sharp light of newly bought widescreens devouring the occupants of pristine living rooms, past the substation that feeds into the newly built estate , past the children playing in the dark and the teenagers hiding behind bushes sneaking cigarettes from parents still at work , past the shouting angry children who hit out at those who think are weaker as they are picked on by their parents , angry that life is slipping away from them , angry that all the promises the boom made to them are being broken and everything they have will be taken away from them soon , this might be the last Christmas they will be here. And he knocks on the door of his girlfriend because as of yet he hasn't managed to get a key cut, and she lets him into the randomly painted hallway with the veneer flooring she laid herself and the mirror she designed for the man he works for. And they make dinner together.

Sometimes he doubted her existence.

There was a ghost following him.

The magician sat at the bar staring at the strangers cards as they settled and reshuffled themselves.

Why did he call himself the magician? When the hippy still lived with him in the field with the others he'd started painting a picture on an old piece of board he'd found, gold on black , just lines drawn carefully by hand . He wasn't really being serious about it, just playing, he regarded painting as a dangerous pursuit.Then the hippy told him that it looked better the other way round and from looking at it that way something emerged that he hadn't seen. He had always been obsessed by the tarot , and one of the rules he had learnt was that a card always chooses you to represent you in the readings , he had always thought the fool was his card , or the knight ow wands , the fool of course because hadn't he thrown everything up in the air and run, escaping from the prison of job and the slow death of friendless towns where everyone left, becoming just the visited , the memory , the left behind. The wind favors chance , death favors stillness.

Or so he thought then lately he had come to realize that every time he moved on he lost something , an opening , a chance , movement is often a small reward of the moment , staying is a longer term gift. 

But within the crude colorless painting he found a sword , and the number eight, everything winds back on itself eventually. He picked the sword out of the painting and carried it with him. Like the day he stood around a fire burning the sticks and palettes from the last bender he shared with his girlfriend, he wound himself clockwise and anticlockwise in imitation of a spell he thought he knew , unwind yourself , unwind the past , watch and glare into the flames madly and consign the past there .

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