Saturday, 6 February 2016

Swollen River

He had never seen the river so swollen. The footbridge itself was still passable, but all around the lands was sodden and puddle filled. The rain won't stop falling for a while yet. 

In the morning the situation was sure to be much worse. How he would make it back and forth to buy the groceries worried him. At least no one depended on him, that was comforting, but then again it disheartened him too. It wouldn't be so bad if someone needed some milk. Some excitement is what the place needs now and then.  

In the cafe the familiar mid-afternoon regulars were situated like statues. The cheapest coffee for the cheapest people. He liked to believe he was a cut above. But he knew he was just as destitute, just as decrepit. What awful flatulence, still company at least. He took pride in knowing he still had all his faculties, no mobility scooter, or zimmer, those days were not even on the horizon he thought. 

His eyes studied the seating as he entered. A good seat by the window. Studying the seating, scrutinising it, seeing who was where and who wasn't and ruminating on why they weren't. it was a past time. A pursuit for those idol in thought, dressed in sacks for bodies. 

The drama of it all, the face he knew, the menu he knew, the route, the river, and the routine. This supermarket cafe, this is all there is. For him and them it was all they had to occupy their minds and their time, it was their space to fill, to themselves feel like they had lives, to make the staff feel like they were doing someone a favour. 

What it was he knew, they all knew. But no one brought it up. A library without books, a Starbucks without the prices, a community centre that sold food! He knew his cleverness was too much for them, yet deep down he was inseparable from it, from them, from that walk across the river. 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Cold cobbles

The contrast was stark, harsh and sheer. It was not a subtle time of year. 

Rising early in the dead of the dark winter morning he prepared himself - to oust his weary bones from the warmth - and into the rough, and unforgiving winter air.

Everything was done at a compromise now. 

He stirred slowly, trying to wake gradually, rolling lightly and staring around the room. It was no use. Can't avoid disturbing someone somewhere as usual. 

In the darkness he placed his feet on the ground. 

Delicate and slight movements. 

It would be a while before the light of day break would seep into the window. Better not wake the Russian. 

He wasn't snoring now, but had kept many guests in the room tossing and turning on many nights. The burly Russian was a hearty man, with a large chest reliably capable of maintaining a sound of raucous proportions. 

There was no time to dwell on it. 

He had long accepted his inevitable routine. He didn't question it now, not any more. Fighting it just made it worse, especially at this time of year. 

He stretched upward and gather his things. Clutching his clothes he headed to shower. Everything was cold, the floor, the sink, the buckle of his belt as it touched his skin. It all prepared him for what was to come. 

The hot water of the shower felt like a life giving ether as it poured over and down his body. Maybe just stand here all day. 

Before too much steam could mist them mirror he shaved and glanced at the clock on the wall. Time and his conscience, what else was there. 

The wind whistled to him as he slung on his long overcoat and pulled it close around him. It told of the dark and bitter day that was about to begin, to warn as well as welcome him. It reminded him to carry his comb in his inside pocket. Going to be blown this way and that today. 

The Russian rolled and grunted. 

Gathering his wrapped lunch and placing it under his arm he braced himself and headed for the door. The days were long now, stretching from the dead of the early morning to the dead of the early evening. Nothing really lived now, it just got by until spring. 

Wonder if the Russian will come out of hibernation any time soon, gotta eat some time! 

He opened the doors and shivered as the cold hit him, it slapped him in the face and clutched itself around him. It held him and peeled through him and his clothes as if competing with live giving shower. 

It was a familiar feeling to him now. 

Not as bad as yesterday. Time for tea. His mind fixed on tea and the stall on the way to the station. As long as he got there after 7 but not much later he'd be the first there and the first away. Gotta make sure to beat the other crazies. 

The wind from the sea swept him along. 

He could still see the lights of the pier and the promenade stretching away, the lonely yellow lights ever present as his breath appeared before him in the air, and the frozen ground crunched under the weight of his frozen toes. 

The anticipation of tea warmed him as he walked. Tea tea tea. He held its image in his mind as his tense body and chattering teeth moved through the old city streets one by one glancing only down at the cold cobble stones. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Cat Poo Watching

She moaned and moaned - and wriggled this way and that.

She couldn't stand it - even though it was only for a few minutes.

The poor cat hated to be alone, on the other side, separated from her master.

As the old man pooed on one side of the door, the cat cried from the other, prancing in the landing.

It wasn't the smell that bothered her, as she looked in earnest at the thin wood door pacing to and fro.
But for some reason known only to her she wanted to always share the bathroom while her owner emptied his bowels.

Leaning over the downstairs banister and looking up to the landing, peering up, he laughed to himself as he witnessed the scene. What does he do wipe his bum with it!

The cat loved him, that much was true. She, or Charlie as he called her,  kept him company now he was often alone.

He had a weak bladder, and Charlie knew. He liked to think the cat was looking out for him. He always let her in, he didn't have the heart to let her cry incessantly.

She hopped about on her white paws expectantly. Each drop of faeces into the toilet bowl causing increasing consternation until finally the door handle would creak and in she shuffled.

Uh! Urrrgh! He could sometimes hear his sighs of relief as he emptied out what every filth he'd put through his body the day before. He's going to pop his bladder one day.

His daily stop by the house was a common routine, he knew he was the only visitor most days and Charlie was the only company he had. His family had long since disappeared and now he was left to his own decrepit state.

She gave him something worth living for. Something to feed and fuss over, to feed and stroke. To see when he stuttered into the kitchen in the mornings, when he got back from the shops, and to sit on his lap when he coughed and spluttered while engrossed in an old war film.

She's more devoted to him than his wife was. He probably wouldn't have disagreed. Charlie had lost all his family too. Perhaps the cat needs him too.

She certainly got spoilt, tuna in her dish one day, some chicken the next. I've never seen the cat poo like him though. He thought about that for a minute, then continued to hoover the living room - it wasn't good for his back, but at least he was able.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Trundling bus

The bus arrived.
Not bad for a Sunday, pretty much on time.

It was almost empty and he had his pick of the seats. His only gripe was the price of his ticket.
He'd inadvertently sacrificed money for time.
You have to get a return on this one, he was told by the driver.
Money and time, seemed to be at the route of our very existence he decided.

He looked at everything with romance today.

Everything seemed romantic, nostalgic, and reminicisable to him.
He couldn't and perhaps wouldn't shake it.
He liked living ignis fatuus, though who knew what consequences that might bring.

The trees on the hills across the valley - what stories could they tell?
How he imagined the comings and going they'd seen, the times long before roads and people filled the land, when animals roamed freely and hunters and gatherers survived in the surroundings.

Those trees on the valley must have some stories to tell. What history had they seen?

He thought to of the river, criss-crossing under the train line and the roads, there for so long, for eternities. It's current ran strong, and bashed over rocks, trees lined its side as it appeared and disappeared from view.

It seemed to him almost severed from the life of the streets and of people.

How travellers and villagers must have toiled up and down that river in times gone by.

Everything seemed lost to the past now. The old Victorian houses dominated his eyes. How much change had they seen. Some were in ruin. Some next to inferior modern homes. Rows and rows of these old houses, lined in straight quaint terraces passed before his eyes. Some were painted cheerily and many he could tell must have had a nice back garden view.

To have his mind filled with such thoughts and ideas on that Sunday bus ride was gratifying to him. The bus flew along the narrow roads, taking sharp turns and tight corners.
He read a little, but the brilliant blue sky and the hills distracted him until he gave up.

How clean it felt, no open mines now.

Old men got on and off the bus, some with walking sticks, some with coughs, some with small limps. They are not quite as old as the houses, but almost. They looked like they had had hard lives, but their voices at least hid it.

Wonder what they have been through.

Ruined homes, ruined people. That thought was a little harsh he concluded. Most home and most people are just fine.

The bus trundled on.

It gave way to others, and some gave way to it. The motion of the accommodating drivers seemed so natural and orderly, never a hint of annoyance. The pulling in and pulling out, the flashing of lights, the raised fingers of thanks, and the nods of acknowledgement were all so rhythmic and flowing.  

Past a local school it turned, the modern main building set back from the street and front yard.
A war memorial a hundred years old, with a grand clock face, stood on the corner reminding all who passed of the local men lost to a bigger cause.

Interesting that that memorial is right next to the school.

He wouldn't be long at his destination. There was little time to idle, get in, get out, that was it.

That pub was nice yesterday.
Couldn't understand some of the things that bloke said though.
He was friendly enough mind, nice to chat about the football during the game.
He seemed to know his stuff.
It was a bit surprising how quiet it was.
They'll be no problem going back though.

He got off and walked through the park. The main road was busy, but it didn't matter.

The sun was shining, and winter seemed far away. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Put the kettle on


That was the word he just couldn't rinse from his mind walking past the old disused museum.

But he wasn't thinking of the museum at that moment.

That was not the target of his ire.

It had been awkward, forced, strained, all these things.
Any calamitous woeful negative expression he could think of he attached to events of the afternoon.

A slow motion car crash.
A personality orgy.
A tepid, acidic, angst ridden drama.

The streets were quiet, and the lamps along them lit the way home through the dark.
He walked off the main road, past the back of the police station, the air was cool and the breeze light.

A nice night to walk. If only every night were like this. His mind alluded to the winter to come.

He passed a closed school and then a glowing pub, he felt its warmth seep through the windows and out into the dark street.

Saturday lunch time would be a good time to go in. The football would be on then.

Past the terraced houses he walked, their strong stone facades protecting their inhabitants.
The walk had become so familiar to him so soon.
He passed a chip shop opening for the evening. No customers inside yet.

The convenience store came into view, he realised he'd not been in there for years.
Wonder if the same man is running it. He'd no mind to go all the way to the supermarket.

He dived in.
The bright lights hit him.
It all appeared new.
He bought his entertainment for the evening.
And carried the two bottles home.

Another day had slid past.

He turned on the light and closed the door.
He wasn't interested in talking now. He'd heard enough. Now was quiet time.
Time for quietness in his head as much as from his mouth.

People talk so much, but have very little to say sometimes.

He thought about the grotesqueness of his afternoon, the waiting, the wondering, the awkwardness of it all. If they call they call. If they don't they don't.

His ire subsided as he pottered about the house, his general disdain however would take longer to to decline.

He put the kettle on.

Soggy Leaves

He ran across the mosaic.

The patchwork mish-mash of faded browns reds and yellows.
It was like a carpet under him.
Nothing was crisp or crunchy now, this was the back end of autumn.
All was squelchy and sodden, it all reminded him of something.

Yes. These leaves, these flattened autumn leaves were like soggy cornflakes.
Cornflakes soaked in their milk, their crunchiness gone but edible all the same.
He supposed his feet were like spoons.

The ground lay covered where ever he ran.
Along the canal.
Around the school sports field.
On the other side of the train line
And along the path by the pond.

The scenery was still so vivid to him.
The trees were still not bare.
A breeze here and there sprinkled the air with new flakes that wafted down to the floor.

How dull a concrete life would be.
How much he preferred this jotunheim.

The leaves, the air, the leaves. All gave him energy.
Dogs could be dodged, bridges could be ducked, and puddles kicked straight through.

These soggy leaves.
They left him full and satisfied.

These soggy leaves.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Drizzle in the air.

Drivel on the field.

Every few minutes he looked up across the terrace - he fixed is stare - and waited to see if the drops of water were still cascading down.

The game was becoming immaterial now. He just took comfort in being dry, that was all that was left for him in the remaining minutes of the game.

Against the back drop of the stand he could still pick them out, the spitting drops of rain, that were imperceivable against the grey cloudy sky.

4-1. Defeat looming. Disaster.
At least it's not cold. That was to come.

This is a bit of a kick in the teeth.

Celebration erupted in the distance.

At the other end of the field the away fans revelled in victory in the open air, exploding like fireworks as each goal was scored. Meanwhile those around him sank deeper into that reluctant but inevitable conclusion that today was not our day.

Late October and still no home wins.

He felt separated and disconnected in some way. Not just some other teams day today, but he had stood on his own, his own choice, but he had robbed himself of the chance for a communal moan and sweet sharing with those he normally stood with.

Going behind the goal was not his usual way of watching the game, not his usual haunt, but he had wanted another perspective today.

They'll all be there at the next game. They'd seen him a few weeks before, it was no big deal going behind the goal today.

He hand't wanted to be bothered with questions about what he was doing, was he working, where was he working, why wasn't he working. The game was supposed to be an escape from all that.

He didn't have to play up to anyone standing on his own surrounded by strangers.

He'd seen his friends before the game, that was enough company he thought.
To see them after before getting the train would be fine also.

They might not be around after this hammering he thought. They'll soon want to forget this.

The final whistle screeched into the air. Resignation. Defeat.

His minded wondered to thinking of the latest scores, the mood in the bar, and the subsequent train journey home.