Sweary Man Jackanory

Nick Cave is reading me a story. It's nice of him. We've never met. He didn't ask. He's doing it through the medium of seven CDs. It's a book he wrote about a salesman. It's very good. He's done a soundtrack with Warren Ellis, which is also very, as you might imagine, good. During the reading it swells at appropriate points. His voice is mixed so that narration is right here and dialogue is over there. The salesman hasn't sold anything yet.
Obviously the story concerns sex and death and Kylie. It is already much better than his other novel and I am only one and a half sevenths of the way through. His other novel was twenty years ago. It was dark and rich like Christmas pudding and like Christmas pudding I couldn't finish it but plenty of other people will tell you it's worth a purchase. Which, I agree, it is. You don't have to finish anything. You shouldn't carry on after you're done.

Brain Seasoning

Recently there was a request for some writing. It said:
Do us a line to go in an architect's christmas card. You know, instead of Merry Christmas. He's going to send it out to all his clients.
I will illustrate it.
About eight words perhaps.
It came from the Inkymole office, in the form of an email. Whenever an email arrives from an address ending in inkymole.com, my computer starts to sweat and makes a very loud clanging noise like the bells from News at Ten, and I put down my cupcake and inject myself with magic capability juice, a gallon of which I have on permanent standby, and get straight down to five or six consecutive minutes of brain-work, to figure out what the email wants. After this I know what I am required to do and can Guinness myself unconscious for a few days in preparation for what I like to call Actually Doing What I Know I Have To Do, an activity which I find is most exciting when the deadline is within sleeping distance.
In this case, I had to distil all the feelings of Christmas into eight or less words that also evoked the history, controversy and enchantment of the entire discipline of Architecture while making the clients, Axon-Beckett, seem like reasonable people, whom you might not shy away from consulting next time you were wondering how much it would cost to build an upside-down underground pyramid to house your family in when the end finally comes.
So I wrote down a page of Christmas words, then a page of Architect words, and looked at one, then at the other, and so on, for a day. And nothing happened. Then I put a page in front of either eye and tried to look through them, in the hopes the solution might drift in like a ghost. It didn't. I was disappointed. Especially because I was doing this in the pub, at the bar, and no one would even talk to me, let alone offer any assistance.
Then I looked up every quote from every architect ever and tried to think of an uber-quote-with-jingle-bells-on. I texted 118118 and asked what do architects say to each other at Christmas? But there was only a reply saying you haven't been charged.
So I walked slowly round Manchester, which is mainly made of buildings, many of which were designed by architects. While looking at the buildings I stroked my chin with a miniature Christmas tree and waited for words to engulf my brain like a swarm of something nice.
But nothing happened, so I dipped the miniature Christmas tree in red paint, thinking I'll go and write on the wall of a building, there can't be a better way to combine all the elements of the brief.
Then, just as I was about to start writing "Wots Ur Xmasterplan?" on the side of the Hilton Hotel, the five words above popped into my noggin, and I scuttled home to email them off.
And while I was typing them out I thought goshyplops, these words are terrible. Terrible. They will make me join the Writer's Register, just so they can strike me off. But the deadline is here. The deadline has been here for a while, actually, and I haven't even offered it a glass of water. I've been too busy producing nothing. I wonder if it will be generous enough to interpret doing nothing as striving. Hm.
But it turned out it was acceptable for everyone involved.
The end.

I Think It Just Kicked In

I saw Beak. It's the bloke from Portishead and two other blokes. The audience was blokes and a few missuses. Someone in Manchester's tag is "Bloke", you can see it up the stairs outside the car park next to Retro Bar. It's a good word. Onstage behind them were two fixed spotlights, which mostly stayed on, so mostly what the room in front of me looked like was black man-shapes and hairy white outlines and a few pink glowing ears, dancing slowly. They were good, the band, and the ears, and the beers, there were free beers at the end, because it's the time of year it is.
I was evaluated, during an evaluation week, which was two days in France with a day's travel either side. The conclusion was: you are very suitable but you have not got the job. I wish they'd told me that before I gave up the Crooked Vultures ticket I had, to attend. I never told them of this wounding and hilarious sacrifice. There's lessons everywhere. Tomorrow I might give up a free ticket to the moon so I can attend a painting-white-lines-with-your-bollocks recruitment weekend, if only I could find out where it's happening.

Fruit Blues

One of the kitchens I work in has an unstoppable radio. It's bulbous and grey and I stab it with the big cabbage-cutting knife and it takes no notice. It's a non-digital radio and so in the daytime it can either be silent or make a terrible sequence of noises. The most heart-maiming of these noise sequences is a thing called The New Single from The Prodigy.
"The New Single from The Prodigy" used to be an exciting idea. Like "Broadband". Or "Manchester". But nowahours: Are you shitting me? Am I being shat?
Often it comes on while I am making the "Apple, Grape and Celery" salad, which I've never sliced an apple into, ever, because there's never been an apple in the building. There's apple on the menu, there's a delivery every morning, but there's never an apple on any shelf. It's a soul-pummeling visual metaphor for the lack of depth and flavour in Liam Howlett's recent output. The buffet does not deliver what the menu offers. But people still pay for it.

Stubble and Thin

The man next to me on the bus was unprepared for the schoolful of kids who rushed in to squawk and fill the aisle. He started murmuring to me and himself about what can be done. Weren't there exclusive buses for the yelping shits? Aren't there still?
I unfogged the window and said yeah. And I dunno. He muttered something about maybe strangling one or two, while a solution was negotiated. He asked me what my thoughts were.
I said my thoughts are not my mind like the clouds are not the sky, then asked him if he played violent computer games. He didn't. He'd assumed they were for kids.
Not so, I said. They are big fun. Their killing takes your mind off your own killing, plus there's bad acting and explosions and rewards. You should definitely start.
He asked me what ones I played. I explained I didn't. That doesn't mean I don't want to. And I used to, a lot. Bang. Recently I've been thinking I should start playing Chess. I wish it was an outdoor sport like it is in New York, y'know, have you ever been?
But he didn't like Yanks, apparently, and left the bus more agitated and quieter than he was when he got on.


It was the type of selection weekend where you have to stand out and fit in and demonstrate a lack of over-confidence. I passed, so next Sunday is the start of evaluation week, where, who knows, you could be asked to demonstrate that you have the initiative to let someone else take the initiative, while also guiding them towards a desired outcome without actually giving them instructions, within a strict time limit, wearing a blindfold, in a potentially bruising environment, just before dinner. Should be a piece of piss.
I injured the soft bit of my right foot and both thighs don't quite work properly so now I walk funny. And slowly. Because if I try to get along at my normal speed it hurts a bit and I look like maybe I'm recovering from some rear-end trauma. The main disadvantages of going slowly are: it takes longer to get to places, and: people with clipboards have more chance to point their faces at you and stand in your way. On the way home from work a man being paid to collect money for a charity said "hey you look laid back today man", and instead of replying "yeah let's keep it that way" I said "thanks" because "yeah let's keep it that way" was not the first thing to occur to me, it was the second, and by the time it popped in I had left the man and his clean irking face behind.

It's Not As Good As It Would Be If It Was A Little Bit Better

If we all had magazines for heads then instead of talking we would just reach up and turn the pages. We could rip out pictures and articles from each other and stick them on a wall or put them in a drawer, and look at them to check that we still liked them and agreed with or had figured out what was written or pictured.

Face It In The Morning

The flat's on the eighth floor of an eight-floor building. The Spar is at the bottom just by the side entrance and sometimes in the afternoon I buy only half the beer I know I am going to need to drink that day so that at the halfway stage I have somewhere to go, and maybe some rain on the face and an impulse purchase. Sometimes when I go to do this I leave the door to the flat unlocked in the hopes someone on the same floor might wander in, in their socks, with a glass in one hand, holy macaroni just seeing who's around. I never leave the ground floor side door unlocked though because there is a don't-let-the-burglars-in notice. There was a theft recently because someone'd propped it open while going to Spar. When they returned with their bags all the flatscreens had gone and they were left with rectangular light patches on the walls with two holes where the bracket screws had been.
Once when I got back the lights in the hall were off and I couldn't remember whether or not I'd switched them off before I went out, so I didn't know whether to be worried, so I was worried and started composing plinky unease-themes in my head while I was taking my coat off, and I went through to the kitchen and the TV was on, I couldn't see it but I could hear a local weatherwoman predicting slight chances of everything for tomorrow, and I thought anyone who's intruded here will have the upper and the lower hand and will be able to completely outwit or overpower me, whichever is needed, it won't be hard, so I got a big Japanese knife out of the drawer and held it in an unusual way that I thought might make me look like I knew how to wield a knife, and I got to the front room and the adverts were on and all the shadows were in their usual places and nobody was there.

Hell Maybe

I'm growing extra heads. They're very small and pink and never say a word. I try to scrub them out and collar them off. They're bald and prone to weeping and huddling. I'd rather they shared some knowledge or went elsewhere. Maybe there's a pill. If not I'll have to get a neck transplant. Like some kind of guitar. And then there'll be talk, and constant jokes about fretting.
My thumbs aren't mutating and because of this I have been preparing food in quiet kitchens. The first pay packet will arrive just as I set off for a selection weekend elsewhere. If after the selection weekend I am selected then there'll be an evaluation week. If I'm of any value I'll be going back to France in January.
If after the selection weekend I'm not selected then I'm coming to stay at your house.

Glass Hammers

There was a kitchen that didn't have a tin opener, and a kitchen that didn't have a tea towel.
The kitchen that didn't have the tin opener had no tin-opener for at least six months.
The kitchen that didn't have the tea towel had no tea towel for apparently a year.
I worked one day in both of them. They had a lot of tins and things that get wet.
No one knew where the one without the tea towel was. I'd been given directions to where it wasn't. There'd been some sort of google map postcode-coding error or GMPTE journey search function spasm, but I only realised when instead of arriving at the offices of a company, I arrived at nowhere in particular, and it was a large circle of townhouses probably all with a decent amount of tea towels in them.
People came out of the houses one at a time and I asked them where these offices might be, and none of them knew. And the woman in Londis didn't know, and the three girls at the hotel didn't know, and my bosses on the phone didn't know, and the guy in Topps Tiles didn't know.
The taxi driver knew, and he let me know too, and also let me know that traffic lights on roundabouts is a ridiculous idea.

Next week there will be a kitchen with no knives and a menu with no food. I will turn up in glasses with no lenses and a shirt with no buttons.
I tried to get a job with no pay. I think they call it "volunteering". There was a form. I filled it in and out. They said thanks, and then nothing happened.


I used to think a lot of things were going to be fun, especially when drinking. The Pigpark is a prime example. Who wants to see that many pigs in a day? Performing such senseless dances? The mind clenches. That was what made me stop eating meat. Can't believe it's been ten years. I used to love your outrage and how it turned into fascination.
It might be nice to escape the hot rains and the fish at the portholes. Get my landlegs back. Feel like I'm in a cauldron sometimes. Good to have a house to visit, even if the beach is trying to eat it and the gulls burgle us blind. I'll let you know yes. I'm busy trying to switch jobs and get rid of the boat, I mean sell it, if you know anyone, I'll deliver.

Seasonal Illumination Jamboree

Every day I wonder why half of all job adverts are written by people who can't spell, then proof-read by bats. If you didn't know what a spelling mistake was, and were wondering where to find one, they're all at the Job Centre, having an orgy, shoving unlubed apostrophes in places conservatives say they shouldn't. Then you have to beg the person who made them for a job.
The thirty-something potential employers I've applied to are all waiting for someone who isn't me. Their signs and adverts say wanted, in capital letters usually, and I meet all the criteria and am available now, right now, and I've even had a wash and my knees both point in the same direction and I can go all day without despairing. I'm a modern human and here's my CV. But no matter how many times an hour I phone them sobbing why not me, why not me, why why why why why not me, nothing changes. I've had more success with companies who haven't seen my face or heard my voice. "More Success" means one interview in six weeks.
There is a local monster and it knows exactly what to say and how to act and speak and dress and move in order to extract all the vacancies from the small cloud of hope that sometimes drifts through town in daylight. I've never seen the monster, but I think when I do I might have to break its fucking femurs.

Dimly Remembered Kitchens

It's a new thing in the Sunday fluff-and-horror supplements. Always feel disgusted after reading a Sunday paper but still do it once or twice a month.

It had a hard wooden bench and the back door had a seven-foot drop outside it, probably, and I rode my trike off it once and that's my first memory. I peeled potatoes for the first time ever and sliced into my thumb but instead of going to hospital I had a Barney Rubble yoghurt.

two or three:
Peanut butter on toast with extra salt, why not, let's go nuts. Dry spaghetti from a jar on top of the fridge-freezer.

six or seven:
One hand in my pocket and cooking pancakes with the other, spectators deemed it a bit casual. Can't remember if they were any good.

four or five years later:
It had two ovens and twelve cupboards and one morning it was entirely covered in flour.

twenty something:
The ceiling fell in and it was appropriate. A bit of sweeping and carry on. Once and once only a poker night. A lot of drunken afternoons with whatever's left for lunch.

nearly thirty:
Freezing and narrow with the toilet at one end and a fridge full of guidelines. Separate vegetarian cutlery, fags on the back step, cheese on toast.

In work fifteen minutes early because the bastard never behaved. Very long matches and ninety nine for breakfast and on a Sunday they all turn up at eight fifty five expecting two sausages each.

Impossible to sleep while there's an oven in the same room. I was only visiting.

tennis tournament:
Sky sports eat heartily. We should've given them a trough. Washing up and a skin condition.


Other one-page features to look out for in the coming months (not the ones that've just passed) include: My Marmite Face, Tragedies That Didn't Bother Me, What I Think About The Moon, The Longest I Have Gone Without Washing, and My Favourite Grey Things.

Re: 19:30 - 22:45

You always put your art in rectangles and I don't like it. Why can't it be more like a firework in the guts? Why do you stand next to it looking bereaved? Get out of its way.
Your mind's too wide. You'll let the flies in. Why can't you point yourself at something and go off? And your clothes are all magaziney and it doesn't suit you. And your numerous other faults are flapping around everywhere like a tree of crippled tongues on a blustery night and they keep touching people and it's creepy. Apart from that I enjoyed myself and would like to meet again soon. Text me.

Your Massive Horrible Face

I've got to have a word with you about...you know. It's bothering the community. I bet you didn't know there was a community. There wasn't, before you arrived. Then: my god. They saw me with you a few times and one night demanded answers. Why does it drip? Why does it swivel and hiss? Who is responsible? They were all worked up and talked very quickly. I said I know who it belongs to, but I don't know who controls it. Maybe nobody. Mirrors and windows only reflect about half of it, so how is he supposed to know of the revulsion? And he doesn't have a radio, so he won't've heard the songs.

Briefly Very Excited

People came to the opening night. This was pleasant. There were a lot of them. I mainly sat behind the table of free stuff and gave out the free stuff and talked to strange faces. None of these faces said "it was all great except the writing" so I got away with it and that was a relief. People must like mesmeric horrible things as much as we do. Pumpkin and popcorn soup was served in shot glasses and Demdike Stare played uneasy goodness. None of the locals came in demanding the free booze.
It's open til the fifth but I had to leave to spend more time with the Job Centre in Rusholme. I'd been neglecting it in favour of working on things I actually want to work on. But when I went there today it didn't seem angry. Just disappointed. I think that's why it kept recommending jobs in faraway places.
On my crawl towards the Job Centre I went into Oxfam with my copy of Roberto Bolannnnnyo's 2666 and informed the nice girl behind the counter, when she looked up from her book, that instead of catapulting it into Blackpool Tower I've decided to give it away so that someone else might squirm through its stunningly tedious first half before doing something better, like eating a pot of Copydex. Perhaps she could put it next to Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on a special shelf labelled "The Latest Disappointments". I'm reading Richard Brautigan instead. Much better. And looking at a deeply unsettling but beautifully illustrated calendar. Approach with caution if you are under the age of eighty five or are on anything hallucinogenic, or plan to be during the next six weeks.

Don't Look Now, Now, or Now Either

I'll have twelve pages of nonsense to give away at the upcoming event, but it won't be what it was because the untrusty laptop has finally died, of complications, it was a simple beast. And I am also a simple beast, and not the kind that backs anything up in any kind of regular or systematic way. So what I was preparing is not what I am now preparing, and I wonder what it'll be, and how to print it without spending more than the few chunks I have left.

One of a possible many

He didn't even look me in the eyes. He played with a pair of scissors while he told me no jobs, no jobs, you're best off elsewhere because although this is an employment agency there are no jobs, like although this looks like a beach, you can't go in the sea. We got done in two minutes what we could've done in two seconds with my raised eyebrows and his quick shake of the head.
A different one said there might be something in November, like there might not be a November.
It's good that they're not lying to me like I'm going to lie to them.


We thought it'd be fun because it couldn't possibly be what it said it was. It's a cautionary to scare the kids with now. Just recalling out loud the number and shape of the balloons terrifies them. And the music: I still have the Roger Bingbing live album, and I only have to threaten to show them the front cover to get them to obey. Their healthy aversion to niceness somewhat makes up for their lack of actual interest in anything. Any tips?
The last thing I built for them was the Neckhorn. It wasn't much of a hit. I think I gave it too many necks. A bit Medusa-like, but you could get inside it and each one made a different noise. Getting out without a scrape or scratch was hard though, and once Optical got stuck in there for half an hour and was rescued by the man in the tent across the field, who'd heard this whooshing mournful S.O.S call and wanted to know where it was coming from. He'd've got there sooner except he spent a while spellbound, "unable to believe morse code could be so beautiful". I sold it to him, after Optical was out of hospital, and he installed wheels on it and trundles it into the woods now to practise. Since then I've had no new ideas and not really looked for any material. I miss our hammering collaborations, really, I feel we had more to do.
Good to hear about Shuttlecock. He sounds more coherent than usual. Did his shoes match? There was a time when he refused to wear a matching pair, said it stopped him going stale and "makes hopping easier". This was before his wife stopped talking, and I rode to his place with some shoes I'd found in the rubble of a house and all the doors and windows were open, "to let the rain in", though it wasn't raining, "yet", and he'd just started collecting incomplete sets of things. The best was a little jigsaw-postcard of a cat, complete except for the eyes, and he'd taken two photos of his bad eye and stuck them in the space. "Cats", he used to say, "are fucking twats". And "a goat is a hairy dustbin". You won't regret getting to know him, which may well happen now his life's taken a turn for the better and worse.
Good to know you're good. Come round sometime and we'll make something. The Bald Mutineers are playing next month and they've asked me to help out. I'd have to shave, again, but it's an option...let me know.

Halloween Heads

Sarah Coleman likes the dark. She has put together a show at the East Gallery, Brick Lane, imagining what might happen were the Pendle Witches around today. It features Tom Hare's wicker works, Anthony Saint James's photography and my words, around and within and amongst her inimitable inky curiosities. The opening will be on Thursday the 29th of October at 6.30. The closing will be sometime on November the 5th. Your attendance would be welcome at any time. Please let me know if you'll be there for the opening, though, in case the capacity is exceeded and the law swoops in looking for blame. There'll be music by Demdike Stare and small delicious things to eat by Jed Smith and a witchy brew to wash them down. A strange time is guaranteed.


Yes it was and yes he was. Schemes aplenty, that man. Schemes for breakfast, plans for dinner. No lunch. I was doing my best to not get involved. Reckons his mate's invented a new soft drink. Was asking for startup cash, basically. Told him I'd have a think. Who drinks those, these days?
No I wasn't wearing my invisible hat. I put it down somewhere and can't find it now. Reckon it was nicked. If I ever see anyone wearing it, there'll be litres of trouble.
Odd to hear the kids disapprove of your wardrobe. Maybe it's a sign when they're older they'll make some sense. Which will look strange to you, if you're there to see it. When was the last time you built something for them? Do they still have that big iron thing? With all the snouts?
Shuttlecock turned up hopping and grateful and worried in his overalls, talking like an ant's nest, all kinds of subjects, I couldn't really follow. But yes, told him a couple of things from my experience, and to not bother praying.
The book is nearly there, it's myths and maths and called "□" and is rabid. An advance is yours as soon as it's been swept for errors one last time. I'll put it in the cannon and shoot it at your face.
Odd thing: The Ministry of Happy Endings got in touch. I thought they'd shut down. They'd mistaken me for someone else, though. They invited me to the Nicequake. Disgusting, hey. It produced an instant shimmering flashback. The grinning, the beans...why did we do it? I blame and forgive you.


It's been a few whiles and I saw you with Johnny Moccasin the other day, scheming, I'll bet, and thought I'd write and check what's what and who's how and why. I went past on my bike. The big one, with the chair. You looked different but I can't say how. Were you wearing an invisible hat? Has your neck been growing? Have you lost a rib? It's an improvement anyway. My own appearance is beginning to scare the kids. They beg me to take the goggles off, and to stop sneezing so much. They said it's ruining their equilibrium, but they had no answers when I asked what do a pair of six-year-olds want equilibrium for, you should be into carnage and volume and pranks, go to your tent and ruminate.
Your book about corners: any progress? I'm sure with the right title it could sell trillions, wish I'd thought of it. New genre maybe. Let me know how it goes and please, if there're any spare advance copies...
Shuttlecock stopped by last week. His goat's giving up. I told him maybe you'd have some tips and techniques, so don't be surprised if he turns up sweating on your porch. His eye is getting worse but his wife's started talking again, so he's peculiar and giddy and might want a Valium, especially if it's before noon. I mean, even if he doesn't ask for one...

A Five and Five Ones

Bad Liebenzell is a valley village full of flowers, where walkers carry a spear in each hand and pairs of pumpkins live on benches with no explanations, a large one next to a tiny one, all down the street and no-one sits down next to them.
Halloween enthusiasm stretched out to the border, where just inside the first service station entrance stood sixty witches, all with the same mouth-agape gleeface, some three feet tall and some three inches small, rubber or plastic and welcome to Germany. Oktoberfest was nowhere in sight, but Lidl is rife and cheap beer cheaper than in France, and if you take the bottles back you can put them in the whirring laser-tunnel that eats empties and kerchings a voucher into your shaking hand, which, if you can hold onto it, can be spent exactly like money, on delicious seasonal goods like beer and wine. Why isn't there one of these in every supermarket in England?

Two Groups Repeat Themselves Senseless

Didn't see anything going off. Just jostling and shouting and riot-horses shitting and a hairdresser sweeping the shit into a grid. All the police had their face-shoving gloves on and I saw some faces get shoved. I climbed various fences but could not get a good view of the nazi scum. There is an abundance of fences due to all the digging-up-of-roads going on in the city centre. While up these various fences some blokes would ask "Is it kicking off?". I saw Westwood walking away from it all, looking tall and smelling expensive. In a record shop a man said "It'll get grim round here come nightfall", like there'd be ghouls and werewolves. Krishnan Guru-Murthy was lying when he said "thousands of protesters". It was thousands of people, watching hundreds of protesters declaring their dislike for a handful of whatever you want to call them. There was a sign that said "patriotism is not racism" right next to one that said "no more mosques in britain".


The baboons, in the grass-and-rock moat surrounding the zoo-fortress, on the hill above Besancon, have good hair. From the drawbridge we watched them, facing away from us and the sun, twelve massive haricuts on legs, shimmering in the breeze, little hunchback Bon Jovies overdosing on Vidal Sassoon. The sign doesn't say who let them get that way. On the other side of the bridge the moat goats clop and trudge, looking depressed and lost. They are Indian and rare and whoever took them off the mountain isn't here to see what they have to put up with.
The other two animals the zoo displays for free are an almost-eagle and a surely-some-mistake "45kg guinea pig", which has a large enclosure overlooking the city and leaves no trace of any existence.
The following week we chugged through the clouds to Geneva, which has tiny brown birds instead of pigeons which come into the bakeries and sit opposite you and your croissant. The city's buildings are like paris's and not unpleasant, arranged around a lake with a million-gallon fountain that hisses at the moon while the wind wafts misty rainbows toward the bridge. They say on a good day Mt Blanc looms brightly over everything and the people say the french for ooh look at that. It was hidden this day but the sun did shine and the clouds did cloud like mountains themselves, squashing the air below, and breathing was like chewing a hot sock.
The seven blocks around the station were an orderless market full of families selling yesteryear's trinkets all curling in the sun. Foodsmoke drifted around the people and rolled into the lake and large and colourful swiss money was spent on mexican treats and the news. Later in Fnac it was a choice between The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and 2666. I bought the former and it's hideous like it was written to provide headaches. I thought I was saving nine francs.

Precision People

A bike, a hill, I will experience the joy of combining them, and to top it off I will skid gracefully to a stop at the top of the steps at the bottom of the hill, I thought, and there's no need to test the brakes before setting off is there, no, I'll just start the skid early in case they don't work. So I did, but the bike, being European and a girl's and well-maintained, had its front brake on the left hand side, exactly where it's never been on any bike I've ever crashed, and so I was launched off and upside down and somehow both my shoes ejected and I had the luxury of hoping the bike didn't land on my head before it landed kindly on my shoulder and we both clanged togther on the ground, I laughing and it spinning, and I've a bruised ankle and a scratch and nothing more except be careful what you wish for.

Not Military In The Slightest

Leicester looks slightly cleaner and a lot more the same as everywhere else. The big shops've moved in. Black and white and dark grey and silver. The holy retail grails. A fuss was made.
The wedding went well, without distraction or bad weather, relaxed except for just before and during the bestmanspeech. Vertigo faced with a hundred and sixty ears. Dessert followed.
Manchester vomits a hotel in my skull. Nextdoor they knocked the Spar down and now the Travelodge must be built. Concrete cacophony versus wednesday hangover. Prune mouth. Webbed eyes. Brain needs wiping.
Switzerland on Friday. A month's work and some mountains.

Granville Surprise

An Amethyst Unicorn in the Aquarium. Not in one of the tanks, in its own alcove. The only sign relating to it is the one on its back. It says "Please Keep Off The Unicorn".
Most of the Aquarium is not an Aquarium. About two thirds of the space is taken up by oddities. It's as if, after buying the two large sea lions in the outdoor tank, there was no money left for fish, and the owner filled the unused space with freakish ornaments. Angel shrines made of mussels. Oyster shells like trays. Clams the size of coffee tables. There's a series of rooms full of these things, each more baffling and brilliant than the last. A volcano made of molluscs that lights up every twenty seconds. A man made entirely of whelks. A twisting, climbing corridor connects the rooms and the route it takes is disorientating. The exit signs keep changing direction. Eventually some stairs take you down directly into the gift shop, which makes no mention of the weirdness and very little mention of the fish. Mostly it's postcards and pencils.
Back outside the sea lions take a break from swimming the circumference of their tank to be fed. A girl appears with a large silver bowl of fish. The largest sea lion, Hector, is already waiting, stood up nine feet tall at the opposite side of the tank, battling seagulls. The girl throws the fish directly down his throat. The smaller, Sally, stays in the tank and pokes her mouth just out of the water for the fish to flop into. They make very little noise. When the girl shows them the bowl is empty they resume their circling. They only ever go anti-clockwise.

Stag Don't

You're supposed to go Praguewards in matching shirts with nicknames on the back and spill yourselves into disaster. All that can fuck off. We nine opted for Peterborough ale festival, which from Leicester is a longer train ride than you'd think. We are not ale geeks, but it's safe to say we enjoy several drinks, and several drinks were enjoyed, local and less local. Hats were seen. Beards and burgers reviewed. A baffling amount of children, many of them not lost, bounced up and down on trampolines inbetween the bumper cars and the toilets.
We quaffed around and lost and found and lost each other. Some of the ale tasted like chocolate socks. Some of it was served by a sullen man in a glittering pink cowboy hat like he was doing you a massive favour. Volunteer bar staff. The two ale halls were massive, and before we'd got through the three hundred and fifty varieties on offer it was time to get the last train home and continue things elsewhere, which did happen, after the required Embarrasing Thing That Happens To The Groom On The Stag Do happened, on the train, and is easily explainable but unfit for family ears, so maybe the Best Man's speech will only hint at it, I haven't decided, because I'm writing it, because I'm Best Man.
One by one the group whooped more and numbered less, and there was music and a satisfying couch and a long walk home.

Dinard Boredom Avoidance

Opera in the empty airport Irish Bar. Strange soundtrack for a view of a runway and a new windsock and six small propeller planes being watched by a flourescent man in a perspex box.
A yellow plane lands and five couples emerge. Balding men and cake-faced wives, laughing, maybe about the size of the plane or its resemblance to a banana. It is tiny. They could probably drive it along the road. The flourescent man strides out of his box waving a black hoop on a stick. The plane trundles away into a shed-for-planes. Hangar is not the word.
The bar gets easier on the ears and worse up the nose. In the toilet someone's been making brown thunder and someone else has tried hard to cover it up with chemicals. A bad combination to smell on an empty stomach gradually filling with six-Euro Heineken nearly-pints because it's not yet sandwich selling time, though the ingredients are surely there in the kitchen and the barmaid is surely sat there doing nothing but getting lost in the tumbling-wriggling piano-violin music and maybe wistfully recalling the events of the day someone left a bag unattended or flourescent man was late for work and in the absence of a hoop on a stick being wafted at them all the little planes got confused and scared and ended up at the McDonald's drive-thru begging for something familiar.

Whoosh or something

Head office possibly exaggerates the wonders of power-kiting whilst on the phone selling the activities to schools. Most of the kids talk about it as if they're going to be strapped into a wheeled vehicle and yanked to Spain and back by a nylon Pteradactyl.
In reality, our Power Kiting is just Flying A Kite and eight times out of ten the wind is too strong or not strong enough. They should call it Beach Disappointment.
If the wind is right though, and the kites go in the air, you have to spend half your time making sure the kids don't slam the kite into Gerard Depardieu's collarbones and the other half untwisting the kite lines [never "strings"] after failed attempts to do so. Meanwhile the tide creeps up and the beach gets busy and the group gets restless because there's only two kites for usually about twenty kids.
Once, during no wind, we had a Beach Art Competition, and some of them drew a twenty-foot tall transgender robot called Roberta, and made the least tall kid sit in the middle where the genitals weren't and pose for photos. They won.

Mobile Fun Order Acknowledgment

An outbreak of twisting at the beach bar. At about midnight. It was then we realised there must be another bank holiday. The French seem to have about three a week. This one was in aid of some Jesus bollocks, I think.The twisters didn't seem holy though. All four of them. The DJ was outside with two racks of equipment for, as far as I could make out, a CD player and a microphone. Between tunes he suavely boomed towards the sea. Imagine Michael Winner was Sean Connery, but French. The twisting happened around the tables and in the street and continued all song long. When the song stopped everyone sat down and the DJ did My Way his way, in English then in French, and as soon as he stopped the entire audience left.
The next day we drove a long way to little sunny dead Rennes. The most happening thing in the city was a flatscreen in a kebab house showing Chelsea vs. Hull. The kebab house guy supported Chelsea, somehow, and the first half was watched. We drove on to an oyster town and discovered what everyone does with all the mandatory free time: they look at temporary, medium-sized statues of The Virgin Mary. With designated viewing areas marked by metal fences. Four more identical ones were placed around the town. Some were more popular than others. We ate some excellent sandwiches.

Today The Sea Will Not Cover This Car Park

Thanks, Europe, for your age discrimination at popular tourist attractions. I agree that EU citizens over the age of twenty five should by now've had enough time to save a spare eight euros and fifty cents for excursions. What I don't understand, however, is why we don't take the idea a bit further: those over fifty should surely have to pay seventeen euros. Those aged seventy five or over should be charged twenty five fifty and made to sweep up at the end. It's only fair. Especially in a place such as Mont St. Michel, which has a lot of stonework and attracts dust, and was built by people who are so old they're dead. It's nothing to do with those of us born yesterday, thanks. Let the clog-poppers take care of it.

The Main Event

The Rockin' Sausages came to town. They didn't give us sufficient warning. They headlined the fete. It was on The Other Grass Triangle down the road, for one night only and cheesecake was available. New York cheesecake, from the English couple. With cherry vanilla sauce on top. And an unexpected sponge base.
Does a proper cheesecake always have a biscuit base?
What makes it a New York cheesecake?
Was the rectangular shape of the portion a subtle echo of Manhattan's grid layout?
I didn't ask but I want to know. It was two Euros and worth it and eaten while making the rounds of the eight stalls, set in a semi-circle around the performance area, in which a boy stood with a black cloth bag on his head while a hairy man in medieval dress repeatedly threw an apple at him. This was apparently a magic trick. The boy was supposed to catch it. Sixty people watched and waited. He didn't catch it. The hairy man dismissed him and started doing tricks with sticks instead.
Opposite the semi-circle of stalls was a stage with a banner at the back. "Les Rockin Saucisses!" I think it declared, quite boldly, and maybe there was a picture of a sausage in the middle and the writing went round it like in the Arm & Hammer logo. The stage was empty and the time was nearly ten so we assumed we'd missed them and went to the beach down the road to see if the clouds would leave the sun alone for once. No. In the darkness we went back up the road. The bit between our campsite and The Two Grass Triangles is streetlightless and lined with large trees, possibly oak, so it's dark at night, unless someone is camping on the triangles. They are actually designated camping / picnic spots, for people who like to remain very close to roads. This time it was not dark, there was a thumping and a hubbub and a weak yellow light. We went to our tents and re-filled our drinking bags and went up and there they were, the sausages, rockin, slightly disappointingly not dressed in giant sausage outfits, four of them, a singer / bass drum player, a double bassist, an acoustic guitarist and a percussionist, doing that one from Pulp Fiction, I think it's called Misirlou, Dick Dale and The Somethings, at top speed, and the guitarist had his guitar behind his head and the percussionist was doing the lead guitar part through a kazoo and it abruptly ended halfway through. A bit of applause leaked out from the crowd and we did our best to whoop. They probably won't be back.


Hairy little doubts creeping in and dancing on your confidence to music performed by The What Ifs. One month to go and then what? Not a career in skimboarding, there's bloodstains on my white t-shirt from that. Likewise boxing. Howsabout the Australian Skilled Migration Program? Howsabout the English Booze Specialist Dole Bonanza? Howsabout Digging A Hole and Filling It In Afterwards? Howsabout Almost Writing A Book? Howsabout Eternally Dithering? Howsabout "re-training" and why not and why? Online applications and standard replies. No hints. Redrawing the blanks. Hungry for morsels and no nose for the future. A fool behind the eyes.
Sea-cat update: they came for the food and they left disappointed.

No Evidence of Use

The denim man poured cat food on the promenade right next to where we sat. "Protecting the animals", we learned, after a lot of not-understood French. Then he went forward to the rocks the sea was slapping and put some cat food there too. His jeans matched his jacket and his grey mullet distracted us from the sunset. We watched the sky turn inside out and the food go mushy. It didn't smell so we didn't move. The man went. We watched more of the sky and the people walking by. The noisiest sea in a long while.
The man came back with a dog that kept trying to eat cars. "Seen any cats?" I think he said. We hadn't, but if they wanted to eat the food they had to be prepared for the sea to swallow them like it was trying to swallow the children playing chicken with the biggest tide in Europe. We couldn't tell him this because our French is not quite up to standard. His dog tried to eat the cat food. "That's for cats!" he said, and followed the dog away, giving us a funny look as he left that seemed to imply "Isn't my dog being ridiculous! Hohoho!". Apparently he does this every night.

Whisper It

I tidied up Samuel Beckett's grave. Twigs and leaves and stones were all over it from the previous night's storm. I wondered if he'd've preferred it tidy or not. It's a modest grave. It was the kind of storm that left large bits of tree in the road. Get the book of weather and look it up under "Whoa". We watched it up the hill, Sacre Couer, battleship clouds ejecting orange lightning all over the city below, for an hour maybe, and a hundred people applauding the sky, and the curtain of rain approaching us, and the hundred people on the hill and the steps dwindling to fiftyish, the air changing taste, and us thinking we can withstand anything the sky can drop, and in a second the rain turned to hail the size of fifty pence pieces and it hurt like glass being thrown at you and everyone ran for cover, we ended up behind a public toilet, maybe thirty of us and a few thousand shattering splashes, and the sky twitching and the clouds gliding and the ground growling, and the whole thing passed into silence.


The circus is in town, so the Llamas are on the football pitch. They are near the goal. Ponies and horses are over by the halfway line. Camels are behind the hedge, keeping an eye on things. The elephants are elsewhere.
The whole show wurlitzed into town yesterday, five hundred fat honking lorries blocking the road for a good half hour and blasting our ears with sickly circus music and roll-up roll-up gibberish. According to the gossip of yesteryear: The Circus Folk Will Rob You So Thoroughly You Won't Know What Your Name Is Afterwards. The grapevines are bursting with tales that end with a Circus Type being chased away by One Of Us wielding a tent pole and screaming "NEVER!". Some exaggeration must've got in there somewhere. All that separates them from us is the football pitch / zoo. Which isn't any separation at all. The soundtrack for the week will be oompah-oompah and whinnying.


The body of a woman with the head and tail of a dolphin. It's kneeling on a block of ice and looking at you with its pink-lipsticked mouth open. It has a yellow drink balanced on its left flipper. Beside it is the body of a woman with the head and legs of a zebra. The rare kind of zebra that goes about on two feet. It's looking at you and taking off its pink bikini one shoulderstrap at a time. Nipples imminent. You just paid money to see it, you lonely freak, because you were thirsty and wanted a can of Orangina and this is what they put on the side of cans of Orangina nowadays.

Besides the Dolph-maid and the Sexual Zebra there is a third creature, but it's so hideous my brain has deleted the memory. Maybe it's only in France, I can't be sure, having not left the land of baguettes and delicious cheese for nearly a full three months, but could this be a new Europe-wide strain of deranged soft-drink adverts?
I hope so, but only the future knows, and I don't want it to start arriving any faster than it already does, which is quite fast, with thirteen hours a day six days a week spent clipping kids in harnesses onto ropes and telling them all they have to do is go up the rock and come back down and be careful not to smash their face off during any of it, so it's important to listen to me and watch if you like and when you reach the top you need to lean back like this until your legs are horizontal and your feet flat against the rock and your toes point to the sky and shoulder width apart or wider and slowly walk down the rock like in the Batman TV Show you don't remember, except they were going up a building and you're coming down a rock but nevermind that just remember the further out you lean the more stable you will be and there's no need to look for footholds just keep those feet flat and if you don't keep them flat there's a small chance you might slip against the rock and smash your face off, then your friends will have to run around trying to catch your face, which may well've been whooshed away by the gusting sky and have landed on a cloud, up at which faraway people will look and say "look Pierre, a cloud that strongly resembles a face" and when we're back at camp I'll have to fill out a "Face Loss Form" and that's a lot of work, well not a lot of work but it's annoying so please just listen, I'm trying to get away from paperwork and photocopiers and where's-the-file-I-think-it's-in-the-office and the water cooler needs changing and numbers are god, is that clear?

I have never said this to the kids, because if I'm not instructing them I'm serving them food, or eating the food at their table, or working in the Tuck Hutch / Snack Shed / Magical Confectionary Wonderland, from where I can keep my eyes pointed at anyone sitting on the nearby fence and ask them to please not sit on the fence, just walk around, if you sit on the fence physically and/or metaphorically it will break and you may end up on the wrong side, having done damage to both, and yourself, and I will have to repair it and send you to be repaired, and not one of us wants that, just line up to make yourself diabetic on these here tasty fruits of child labour and human rights abuse they call cans of Coke and bars of Mars.