Mawkish Magpie

Spreading their wings like a pair of well ridden legs Magpies like flying.

Cloud 9, Carol Churchill.

LIN          Don’t you like women?

BETTY    They don’t have such interesting conversations as men. There has never been a woman composer of genius. They don’t have a sense of humour. They spoil thing for themselves with their emotions. I can’t say I do like women very much, no.

LIN           But you’re a women

BETTY     There’s nothing says you have to like yourself.

A mini film, set and shot in Barcelona.

A Seat is a Place to Sit

You sit on a seat, any seat and somebody sits down next to you. You want to talk to them but a misjudged perception assumes that if you did, that the person might not refund your chat. This person is not the love of your life, nor your ‘type’, this person is a person and you want to talk to them because they have chanced upon the seat next to you.

The seat is in a public place, non-specific but because it was vacant it was filled. Filled with a person you still haven’t spoke to. You are reading a book, that you are not reading. You are merely acting intelligent by turning the pages and laughing every now and again. You strain your thoughts and play out numerous scenarios- projecting your own narrative onto the pages originally published by Penguin Books. You have not been published by Penguin Books. ‘One day’ you think One day!’

You find some words and mutter them to the person next to you. Unfortunatley you speak with no conviction and your words are painted vague with insecurity which causes the stranger to reply ‘what?’.

Your cheeks flush like sunburn. sunburn in nature is always red, though there are many different shades- your cheeks choose a brighter shade which takes a while to subside.

The person unplugs their headphones, and fuelled by nerves you ask for the time. Then you flick the ant off from the end of your ponytail and listen to the strangers response. They don’t have the time but out of politeness they grab a random number and add ‘ish’ to the end.

Out of courtesy you say thank-you but you don’t mean it. You are pissed off with the error of your own thoughts.

Your thoughts are not with error.
They are your thoughts and you should appreciate them, after all you wanted to talk to the person next to you, and you did.

A seat is a place to sit. But is it just a place where somebody sits?

Things that burn

A naked flame, flickering.

Chilli fingertips
Acid, thrown flesh.

Johnny Cash
Disco inferno
Bright eyes

Poets burn
Forgotten pans

To burn
I was burnt
I will never burn again!

-I lied

My toast is black
In this poem
I forgot

Things that forget
You, Me and everybody I will never know or get to.

Fortunately I will not be able to forget them.

Burn baby burn
This is Dante’s inferno.

The Garden Flower

My green light, his red.
My blood, flowering tarmac.
His words.
My tears,
Sad from torn flesh.
It was just an accident, yes it was
One easy to avoid, if you look before you step.

I was on the floor with a heavy heart beat. I quickly darted my eyes to the traffic light to prove to myself that it wasn’t my fault. Under the green light I saw people shouting at the man who chanced his own red light and was about to run away. If it wasn’t for both our bikes being joined in bloody matrimony and the people’s commotion, he would have fled like the thief he was, stealing my day.

I remember my eighties. I was eight years old (obviously) and it was Christmas day. Santa had made each of my siblings and I, a brand new bike. Two days later I was forced to question the ‘brand new’ part, when I over-heard my neighbour say ‘ah that’s where my old bike went’. At first I was upset, like really upset. So upset, that I sat in the cupboard under the stairs for what felt like days. However, after careful deliberation with myself and Mum, I realised Santa was an avid recycler: ‘old toys should not be forgotten’ Mum cooed.  The bike was light green. Being green was ‘ironic’ as it was the process by which I received my present; it was also the colour Santa used to wear before he turned red.

For that, it was an extra special bike with a fairy pink basket and a horn. I thought the horn was crap.  All the other kids had tiny tinker bells that they used, to call out friends from their houses; you never knew who was calling for you unless you heard a massive traffic stopping ‘HONK!’ And when nobody rushed to their window to say ‘I’ll be one minute’ I cursed my ‘extra special bike’ and wished I had one like everybody else.

‘But a horn is louder Kayleigh, you dinne want everyone to think you’re a pansy do ya?’ The wise words of my Dad, a Scottish hard nut, cut through all the childish pretence.
‘I sound like a clown’ I whined.
‘Ta fuck ya do, you sound like a great American truck driver, now get up off ya arse and show those pathetic copy cats what you’re made of. Besides you haven’t even learnt to ride the fucking thing yet!’

So this horn and the bicycle it sat on gave me a sense of purpose: ‘I will learn to ride a bike’. For the first week of January I trundled about on the green horse with stabilisers. My younger sister laughed at me, she already knew how to cycle hers, she didn’t even need help she just tore down the back lane like a Trojan chariot. I was embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as my Dad. ‘Kayleigh you look like a pansy, take those things off!’ But I was too scared, two wheels were unstable, two wheels were wobbly, two wheels were abnormal, cars have four so why can’t I?

Two days later and the stabilisers were gone. I cried my self-conscious limbs into the crevice of the cupboard, just like the time when Mum entered me into a swimming competition even though I couldn’t swim without armbands.  When I arrived, nervous and chubby with my bright green bands, I was surrounded by laughing teenagers ‘you’re not allowed to compete wearing those’ they jeered and I left the poolside seven and sad.

Unlike Mum, Dad had no mercy. He forced me out into the back lane and in front of all the other children, he told me to cycle, ‘and I’ll be holding the back dalin’. I pedalled forward comforted by the support but without warning Dad let go and I fell, grazing my knee in the gravel.
‘Get up!’ He made me do this, again and again and again. Little faces sniggered and pointed, curtains twitched and parents judged. Oblivious to all those ‘feckers’ Dad persisted until finally I felt the power of the wheels turning. Each foot pressed each pedal, pushing me forward in a wiggly line while my nerves were kept balanced by own legs independence. Nobody was holding the back! There was nobody to hold me back!

I screamed as the wind flew through my ears; ‘I’m doing it Dad, I’m doing it Dad’. The feeling was immense like I was given free range in a sweet shop. I thought about all the opportunities that were now open to me, I could cycle to town, cycle around the block; I could go to the shop and put things in my basket. It was all so exciting: The world was round just like my TWO bike wheels. HONK! HONK!

It could have been worse, the accident. I could have thrown all those youthful days practicing in my back lane, down the drain and vowed never to ride again. What would Dad say now, if he saw me lying on a busy road, crying because I had a couple of bloody gouges? ‘Kayleigh now your of age, pour some cider into it and get the feck up! You dinne want the world to think you’re a pansy do ya?’

I got up but I couldn’t help crying, like I couldn’t help bleeding. Despite the large flap of skin on my thumb waving in the wind, I was upset because I was on my way to the gym. Thoughts of productivity were flying through my head like a storm of flying fish and suddenly my day was robbed, ruined and with a lumber some limp I had to resign myself to a day of reading on the couch with an ice pack. Where was my cupboard under the stairs? I wanted to crawl into it and sulk.

‘You can’t always have it your way’ Mum used to say when we begged her for an afternoon trip somewhere. ‘What I want, doesn’t necessarily get’ I heard her say, as we begged for an extra biscuit after dinner. It was true, sometimes we can’t control the way the day works. We have to slow down, take a break and appreciate the emptiness of such a day.

The Moroccan man came over and grabbed my head. He was shorter than me so he just grabbed my neck and yanked me down. I wondered why he didn’t just kiss my hand, like a normal small man does but instead he kissed my head, thus proving the sincerity of his apology. As the peak of a mountain range rose through my shins flesh, like a castle in a pop-up book when you turn onto that page, I grabbed my Bicing and left the scene.

My cheeks were like frozen lakes and my chest jolted outwards with every sniff, I didn’t care what I looked like until I reached my Bicing port and I had no strength to return it. As I tried two Germans, blonde like the beer they brew, stared at me. The man, posh and very tall with his hands clasped like a Butler behind his back, looked down on me and laughed, his wife copied. They stood there laughing at me while I tried to put the two plugs into the station.

Eventually the man reached out and helped me put my bike back into the station and they both spoke to me in German. I don’t know what they said but their enthusiastic facial expressions seemed to genuinely believe we had shared this hilarious moment together. Maybe they thought I was laughing and the blood drenched tights and the slashed thumb went over their heads like a low flying gull. But it was a strange interaction and I was far too weak to examine its significance.  

Yet, as I dragged my pregnant shin home, I rearranged the German guffaws into one phrase ‘It’s just a cut Kayleigh, you dinne want everyone to think you’re a pansy do ya? You’ll be laughing about this tomorrow’. With the addition of the Germans, the situation became absurd and hilarious and I started laughing…ironic that, people say German’s aren’t funny.

We laughed about all the kids who believed in the Santa myth and got nothing for Christmas but a bunch of cheap plastic toys. ”Years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten, ” Dad said, ”you’ll still have your stars.”

—Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle.

Why doesn’t anybody listen to me?

Mr Satin Legs

Many people were already awake. It was 8.30 am and the smell of fish drifted like thick fog from the daily market, snatching at noses and stealing yawns. I hurried along the path eager to make my appointment. I avoided the stench with success, a large inhale, a prolonged flare of the nostrils and a lost neck later I was free. When I looked back I saw an innocent victim step forward, unarmed, into the fog.

'Nooooooo! I wanted to shout 'don't do it' but as she tumbled forward in disgust, I knew it was too late. She was part of the unsaveable  and her day would be awash with fishy reminders. Apart from cleaning the vomit from the corners of her mouth, there was nothing I could have done to help.

Past the Barceloneta metro I looked up, such pretty mornings always filled me with nostalgia, a blue sky doesn’t always reflect blueness. He caught my eye and my mouth at the same time. The dark navy satin pyjama bottoms looking left then right in the wind. His stomach was strong yet inflamed itself over the top of the elastic, formalised by his off white, wife beater- laminated yellow from many Smokey afternoons playing bowls with the lads.

He stood hands clasped over the railing of his balcony, four floors high. His face was the shape of a large dinner plate, small glasses perched like an empty hour glass over the small stump of his nose. If ever the moon decided to give up beaming, then that would be his physical representation. Even though I was in a hurry, I paused and let the moment make me laugh.

He could barely raise his right leg yet he pulsed it, five times, the small hand inside a broken clock. Then he stopped, caught his breath and swapped the exercise to the next leg. All the while he was concentrating. Deep, intense, concentration which kept his false teeth safe inside his mouth. If his lips should slacken just one inch, his teeth would hail upon the pavement, tiny shards of white enamel all lost within the curbs cavity. But like a fish he catches them each time they slip.

I missed my appointment, I avoided the fish and I saw a man captured in time by his navy blue satin flag. On my way home I was overcome with how worthy that moment was of my time, I have no idea why, maybe it was the vomit I saw raining from the fishy cloud outside the market. I refitted my armour: inhale, flare, push down neck.

Up on the balcony. A stretch to kiss the day. You’ll find Mr Satin Legs. One moment captured in causical clay.

A Long Days Journey on an Easy Jet Flight

I didn’t check the weather before I left for my Christmas flight to England. Barcelona was mild, a distant heat tried to grab onto the frost like a hand filters water. Wet but not soaking, warm not boiling. I travelled to the bus station in a thin t-shirt, hot from the walk, my fur coat trailed along over the suitcase handlebars. A thought was in my head…why did I bring a coat? I could have layered myself in fancy Christmas clothes instead. It’s a nightmare trying to pack all you need into a cabin sized bag especially when you’re with the blue hernia that is Ryan Air (I wasn’t flying with them but they deserve a smelly mention). Never the less I arrived extra early at the Easy Jet terminal. I never queued, I never waited, and there were no other bodies to push past in the mad rush to the boarding line. The airport was deserted.

It was scary. Why was nobody travelling that day? Where was the mad Christmas rush? As I paid for my duty free/ last minute Christmas gifts a Mexican lady with fresh breathe spoke to me. ‘It will be busier later, a mad rush’ but in the two hours I sat sipping my cold café con leche, I never saw a single soul.

The scratching of wheels rolling along the smooth airport floor. The hot compression of people waiting on the shuttle bus and then the simple choice of where to sit. The ease of putting your hand luggage and coat in the overhead compartments. It was a light flying flight. I slept on and off for most of it, waking at the ‘tic tac’ of the buffet cart. I was hungry but thankfully, I didn’t order anything.

The pilot spoke to us in that standard husk that makes all women and gays melt in their seats. ‘Do they teach pilots to talk at air flight school? My husband could do with a lesson or two’ they joke. He spoke to us about our decent to land, ‘in 30 minutes we will be safe on the ground’ he said…not long.

An hour and a half passed and we had failed another landing attempt. Vomit was the inflight air fresher and screaming voices drowned out the sound of the airplane losing a battle to the wind. My eyes were closed, hands stuck to the arm rests…I tried to read my book but nothing could stay still and my hand flew it across the floor with a massive twang of turbulence.

I felt sick but there was no sick bag to utilize so I took a deep breath and thought about how this would be the most depressing death ever. On my own, on an easy jet flight with nobody, not even a crying family or a smelly tramp to talk to before the official: The End. My only solace was the colour orange; at least it wasn’t a Blue Hernia flight.

The pilot came over the speaker…he was trying to sound calm but his words made us all-the passengers feel frenzied: ‘Sorry I haven’t spoken to you for a while we just have a lot to deal with right now…’

Deal with it then! Was my first thought and then I read into his vocabulary choice…’deal, to deal, deal’. You deal a pack of cards, you deal with bad situations, and with one word the pilot had innocently convinced me of my decent to death. Immediately I scanned the heads of everyone on the flight looking for a lonely hot guy to sit next to, I wanted my death to have some romantic flare to it.

Thirty minutes later and the plane was ringing with applause. Loud, strong and thankful claps that wake the dead and help the living- the type of clap one uses after a Leonard Cohen concert. Gratitude gravitating from all the used sick bags, relief that we can still do living things like see, hear and smell the vomit of life.

A little old lady with a Spanish tongue made a joke. ‘Thank Mary, I completed a thousand of her hails’. She also jumped up and hugged the man after he confirmed to her that it was his skill that landed us safely. ‘Yes it was my skill that landed us safely’ with a straight back he said. I had no cheek to comment on his arrogance, for he did save my life.

I put my coat on; even after the long walk to the departure door I was still cold. I guess death lingers in the bones of those it nearly captures that or English weather is shit. I was ejected through the departure doors where herds of people were waiting beady and hopeful that their friend’s flight made it. There she was, my sister, a shamrock tattoo and tongue piercing with my little brother hiding behind her. ‘Surprise’ he cheered and it was a lovely surprise. So we started to walk off together and I noticed a weird man following us. ‘What do you want’ I asked and sister shamrock says ‘he’s the taxi man’.

And thus she started to tell me about the English storms. ‘Basically all the trees are bored. They can’t be arsed to stand up any more so they are lying down’ added my brother. There were no trains available so luckily the railway paid the £100 taxi fair to pick me up. How did my sister manage to wangle that sort of transaction? Her voice has a lot of potential; I know I’ve been a victim to it.

But even though we were safe inside the cab, each route we tried to take was blocked. Lazy trees were all around us, they were protesting: along the motorway, in fields, on train tracks even the more rural back roads were being bombarded by their lying frames. The journey was a long one made even worse by the unfortunate bout of flatulence the taxi driver had. How did I know this? I smelt it and then he opened the window quickly to offer it to the wind. Bit awkward when we are in a full blown (excuse the pun) conversation about bacon sandwiches.

He was boring and talked like a snail- he interrupted every conversation me and my sister were having with comments like ‘ooooo you know what I would love right now?’ ‘what?’ we say ‘A bacon butty…oooo tomato sauce…yeah’ sometimes if he’s not repeating the bacon line then he replaced it with coffee or McDonalds or well an air freshener?

Eventually we got home. And we couldn’t get out of the cab quicker. The rain was heavy, like metal. The wind was strong, like the hand that opens all the jam jars and as I slammed the door shut behind us the clock read 2am I heard the driver on the phone to his wife.

I nearly fell asleep.


Mac DeMarco, Still Together.

It’s sunny outside, nearly Christmas and this song is just as beautiful. Tune of the week goes to this far out dude.