1977, January. I left school, again, and got a job. It wasn’t easy. Over fifty applicants, I was second best. The first, took the job, but left after a week. I was given a call, I accepted the job. Trainee Die Sinker. £18 a week. I loved it, ok I had to make tea, I had to fetch sandwiches, I had to brush the factory floor. Despite this, it was interesting. I got to engrave with a pantagraph.
An amazing machine. You get a 3-d model of a coin and then engrave it onto a die. Very precision oriented work, the cutter blade had to be measured to microns. It was totally mind consuming, you got lost for hours in the work. Just like painting or sculpting. I used to spend hours watching the model maker and the engraver, and I was totally engrossed in the work. The firm liked me. The gave me a £3 raise after three months. Then I got the call from Wyatt & Green, they wanted to take on a couple of trainee diamond setters. They offered us, me and David Buffery £28 a week. I reluctantly accepted their offer. Although I loved die sinking, they told me that I would never earn as much as I could setting.
Dave and I were apprenticed to Ken Hughes. We were started on coins… Ironically. Ken showed us how to grind down a two-pence piece on a shellac stick. We would the practice drilling holes, setting stones ( only spinels) into these two-pence blanks. Apart from this, we were expected to make tea, fetch sandwiches and all the other mindless chores allotted to trainees. On Saturday mornings we would be allowed to mop the shopfloor for overtime.
After about three months, Ken Hughes had had enough of training us, and he went and took a job as a porter. Can’t say I blame him. For myself, I wasn’t a great student. I got bored easily. When Ken left, Buffer and I were left high and dry. It was decided that Bobby Elwell would take on Buffer and 2 or 3 other trainees. I can’t remember exactly when everyone started but, in the end Bob had Buffer, Noel, Neil and Richard under his wing. My Dad got the short straw, and took on my training.
It was about this time, I became Slug! It was a gradual transition, from Dale the whale, to snail, then to slug and last but also very least… Slimy. Yeah Nice. A nickname to savor. After my Dad got fed up with my lack of interest, I eventually came under the calming influence of Dougie Kyte. A real Gent. And a real drinker. He would have at least 4 pints every lunch hour. It was about this time that Chris Shellis started at the firm. He used to accompany me to the pub every lunch time. he had been away to Jersey for the summer season, and it was due to his influence that I eventually decided I wanted to go travelling.
In those days, we had so much work we were on unlimited over-time for months on end. Up to 96 hours in a week, It became ridiculous. I was earning loads of money, but when the bosses left at 5.30, we would play cards until 9.pm. I was young and gullible and would practically lose all the extra money I made playing 3 card brag. Working 6 1/2 days a week for no extra money soon becomes old. I began to hate the job.
I left Wyatt & Green four times, twice resigning, twice finished. First time I left, I decided maybe it was just the firm I hated. I took a job up at the Hockley Centre. As a proper setter… I was promised loads of incentives, but after a week of setting silver spinel single-stone earrings and 250 old vics with garnet and opals. I told them where to stick it and went back tail between my legs to the old firm. Then I broke up with my girlfriend Kate, and decided I wanted away. I left again, this time vowing never to come back… I went to Jersey, Then Sandbach… And came back on a temporary contract for three months. John the manager, called me into the office…
” Is that your BMW outside?”
“Err Your contract is up and we are not renewing it. Thanks for your help.”
A man with real people skills.
I came back for another 3 month contract when my daughter was born… But once again they decided not to renew my contract. Whilst there on the last occasion I got talking to someone who was going through Uni, after taking an access course. I have him to thank for introducing this to me, for after making some inquiries, I discovered that with my one A’level I could get myself into uni by taking this year long course.
So there you have it the history of love is the slug…
It was a strange year, 1976, It snowed the first week of June. Then it just kept on being sunny. No rain to speak of until mid September. I was sixteen with a bullet… ready and raring to go. I left school, only to return cap in hand in the Fall, I was ready for work, for cash, for adventure, and for love. I had been through a series of sexual adventures since the turn of the year, after having had a long-term girlfriend for the 18 months previous.
I was sociable, I went out and met people. I was affable, maybe even like-able at that age, before the cynicism set in. I was also drinking a lot more than I should have been. I didn’t have any problems. I was very keen to get as much of life as I possibly could.
Then came Jane. She was of a type. Elfin, dark haired and petite. She was pure. I thought. It’s not easy to judge when you’re a complete idiot… ruled by raging testosterone. I had failed my O’levels and my job opportunities were virtually nil. But who cared? It was summer, and I was in love. It happened against the odds. My friend Mark had warned me off Jane. He fancied her. I was to go for her mate, Carol. She was game on, according to Mark. A lot he knew. I think he was still a virgin. I didn’t know that then. As I say I was an Idiot. I was far from a virgin, at least six moths away from it anyway. Which in my mind made me a full-on Lothario. I had grubbed and grimed my way through three adult relationships in those six months. I use the term adult, as in adult entertainment, not as in grown-up… Because in fairness, they were not grown-up just grubby and grunting fun and frolics.
So how did I side-step Mark’s interest? What he failed to recognise was that women have their own minds, and Jane made a bee-line for me. I opened my arms gratefully and she fell into them. We had a torrid night… well two or three minutes, in which I broke her duck, and she turned over and said,
“Is That IT?”
“Yeah, pretty much… Bit of anti-climax eh?”
“No, it was ok, just I expected it to be more… you know the way people go on about it… ”
The next day Mark and I were due to go to the seaside to meet up with my folks. I obviously, didn’t want to go. So Mark went on his own. I spent the fortnight alone with Jane, playing at being happy families. My mother was livid. She didn’t want a cuckoo in her nest. She had to put up with Mark, because it was a way to get me to go with them… So she had a double whammy, No me but Mark alone. Sorry Mom! To be honest I was a serial disappoint-er of my parent’s wishes. I was always a rebel. Or A dickhead. Take your pick. So these moments of love were precious. Jane and I got engaged. As I have said before my family have been jewellers for generations, so rings were easy to come by.
We lasted about as long as the drought! By the end of August she rang me, with the it’s not you it’s me story… And so on. Life is like a record baby, it just goes round and round, the same themes play out, each a little different each a little more painful. I bore it well.
I was a shit. I never finished with anyone… I just became bored and they found me tedious, And exited stage right. I had a replacement in place within the hour. What an idiot!
Live in Love my friends
This little Psammead is my daughter, (Psammead is a character in five children and it by E. Nesbit), It was her first visit to the sea-side. It didn’t taste very nice… But she didn’t care. She is now 32 and expecting her first child in May. She lives a fairly long way away. 200 miles more or less, so our contact is mostly by text and telephone. Amy is somewhat random. She will text me things as if I was already a part of the conversation in her head.
She tests me. A text will go, who’s that actor who plays a tough guy and has a daughter who acts. Answer : Ray Winstone. Her friends ask how does he know who you mean? Its easy. We have a shared iconography. This was what I used to get. Now, since she’s pregnant, it’s nature has changed.
text: Lux is growing on me.
answer : You can get cream for that.
Text: For Her name.
Me: I thought it was a new boxset you were watching. As a name, no!
Text: why not?
me: Lux Beck in anger?
text: Nice Oasis reference too.
me: John Osborne.
text: The playwright.
me: Yeah the playwright, predates you bloody oasis by thirty years!
Me: Lux is a brand of soap. why not Omo Or Daz? Pearl’s cold Tar
Me : Palmolive?
text: Can you stop listing soup
me: Campbell or Heinz?
You get the drift. Constantly pouncing on me with names like a latter-day Cato, when he used to jump on inspector clouseau.
10.30 pm, I’m in bed half-asleep…
me: Gaelic name for Scotland .
text: But still cute eh?
Me: 2nd name Kirky?
And so on, for the last three bloody months. We both know what my granddaughter will be called.
live in Love my friends
LAST MINUTE RAVINGS
A moment of peace. I feel nothing. There is a purity of light. Incandescent like a phosphorous flare but surgical white and constant. Nothing moves. Not a muscle… No eyes to see, yet I see this brilliant light so all-consuming, like a sun. Focus… I have thoughts but I can’t think how… or why? It’s a quantum space, a moment not yet observed or observable. What is the I that I think of? I have no eyes to see or ears to hear. Is there time? Not that I can quantify. This is between time and space: A singularity? A pause.
First to return was olfactory. A scent as blue as the remembered hills… a Gran smell, to put a name to it? Evening in Paris… a by-gone era evoked… maybe war-time? Could it be a spirit come to guide me… maybe a relative? My Gran used to wear it… Am I an I now? Not just a notion in a singularity, smell means senses. Can I see? Can I hear? Can I taste or touch? The smell comes from nowhere. Is it a blind memory of a smell… The I has no head to pin his hat to. So the smell must be part on this none- place. And by the Smell so must all other senses enlarge like a Big Bang event? Maybe a sound is arriving
The sounds are opaque… sinuous soft like an echo of a half- known melody. The timbre of the ocean slipping and sliding across the shore, is there a voice? A notion of other in the vibrations of this unknown… So sweet the sound , so evocative of… What? With no body or mind as far as the I can comprehend… How can a semi-sonorous echo evoke anything? But it does… It evokes a feeling called love! A sound to cocoon this I in a place of safety… No pain can exist within this sphere of sound and scent. Memories of purity. Like the Luminous blanched white world. No harm can enter these sacred halls.
The I is so dry… Taste must be recovered… water… Pure water… Maybe the sound is a waterfall? I can taste the water… Like a spring which has been percolating through lime stone for eons… How long has it been? Forever, the I feels it has been forever since the dryness of it’s throat has been slated… A throat? Can the I gulp? Can the I swallow? Slowly The I is becoming me… It begins as a droplet of blood… I am the droplet of blood pulsing through the veins in me… I am me. Searching through this memory the I becomes a perfect 0 an 0 as part of a binary setting. A code of 011100110 denotes a part of the me… Is the I a computer code denoting the me? Voices in the sound scape, hurried voices… And a pulse… another binary code, but 0’s occupy the large gaps between the 1. Sudden sharp pain… A jolt, a thunder bolt… a war with Thor? quiet. lots of 00000’s then a 1. Another Jolt, a punch in the chest… And the I is angry. Stop that. Pain. No to pain. and the 0 is followed by a 1 then 0 then 1… And the me comes through out of the vacant I and he is screaming… Stop! The return is pain. The return is suffering. The return is everything… All at once, like a family waiting at a terminal, waiting for their long-lost… And the I, the frozen I, has become me, and its all too much… The pain, the feeling, the caring for the who’s and the where’s and the why-fores… And the me wonders whether this might be hell… Or is it just a ride?
For weeks he had noticed the mildewed stone angel peeping over the hedge, which surrounded the graveyard opposite the car park, where he parked up for his lunch. It stood forlorn through sun, rain or snow. Resolutely sad. A proper mourner where no burials now took place. As obsolete as a pagan rune to this modern world, it still spoke to him. Every day he waved to her, a recognition of sorts. She had a place amongst the dead, but the living passed her without a thought. In her day, maybe over a century ago, she would have cost a pretty penny, she would have been part of a grand statement… A mourning period which would have been structured and defined by the passage of time… Victoria had set the example, the black and then purple, the long sad face worn as a memento mori… He didn’t think of these things, He was a van driver. He ate his sandwiches and watched the old folks walking their dogs. It was a pleasant way to spend his lunch hour. The angel only caught his eye because of the way it seemed to float on the top of the hedge. He thought it looked like a real angel, looked like it was really flying, or floating. it had brought him up short when he had first seen it. But now it had become part of his daily ritual, he ate his sandwiches, watched the dogs fetching balls, sticks or frisbees, and as he turned on his engine to rejoin the day’s labours he waved to the floating angel. She never acknowledged him in return. Her’s was a watching brief, she was the perennial mourner, always to bow her head and look sad. One day, maybe it was a Tuesday, he was waiting for a gap in the traffic so he could exit the car park, when he saw a figure sat below the angel. This figure was not of Victorian vintage, but most assuredly modern, a small person with a hoodie covering all but a nose. He was taken aback, for he had not seen anyone enter the cemetery in all the months he had been parking there. The cemetery was obsolete, the church to which it had been attached had long since been knocked down and replaced with a Focus store… Of course Focus itself was now no more and it had recently become a B & M Bargains store… Part of the slippery degeneration of the Nation. Despite the disappearance of the church, the ground remained consecrated and thus the cemetery remained… The process to remove it being too legally complicated and in truth, not worth the money and time. As a relic of the old church, its occupants were equally of a certain vintage, with the likelihood of any surviving close relatives being remote at best. So the space was an anachronistic vacuum. No-one came and no-one went, a veritable silent version of waiting for Godot.
So the sight of a mourner, a presumption on his part, was incongruous. He let it register and then promptly forgot it, as a gap in the traffic allowed him to pull away and carry on with his labours.
The next day, which we will call Wednesday, given that we have already set the precedent with the day before being a Tuesday, The weather was filthy, an amber warning had been given for the area, storm Ophelia promised heavy rain and lashing winds… It gave it’s all as promised! The rain had been so heavy, that He had not been able to open his window to smoke a cigarette. He was alone in the car park, no old folks braved the weather to exercise their dogs… people behaved responsibly, they stayed in doors and watched the weather pass their window. Sometimes, the van driver thought he would rather like to behave responsibly, and stay at home too. Given the cargo he carried was medical and rather essential to a great number of people, he thought, such behaviour would be more irresponsible. It made him feel important to carry the weight of this responsibility… But not that important. Anyway, as he sat, He happened to look across at the angel, and so noticed once again, the small person sat on the bench beside the angel. Again, the figure was hooded, or hoodied if you prefer, so he could not make out anything about the person therein. It could have been male or female, old or young, he had only the fact that the hoodie was blue, and the figure was small to go on. Given that the wind and rain made sitting there a precarious and uncomfortable proposition, he thought that there must be something wrong with the person. He thought, silly bugger, and then drove off to his next important stop.
The next day, yes Thursday, given the chronology already established, the back-end of Ophelia swung back around from the North, giving a lovely snowy blizzard by the time the driver reached his lunch time destination. Snow-blind from staring into the falling snow for four hours of dangerous driving conditions, he shut his eyes and listened to the music, playing via bluetooth from his phone to the van’s music centre. The temperature gauge said that the ambient area around the van was a rather bone-chilling -3c. He kept his engine running, drank hot coffee from his thermos, and prayed for the demise of Ophelia. Naming storms just made them seem more malignant and their actions more of a personal affront.
The dinner hour passed without any foolhardy souls attempting to brave the weather, be them animal, bird or aged crone. The road was silent, the snow making sound beyond his cab, superfluous. Even sound took a look outside and stayed schtum. He looked across at the angel, capped in white, instead of the usual green of algae and lichens, and saw to his surprise the figure was sat there motionless beside the angel. Now, he thought that maybe he should do something… something about the figure, sat as it was now in snow, before in rain, suggested either super-natural or indeed unnatural behaviour. He put on his large hi-vis jacket and his flat cap and left the warmth of his van, to go and investigate. As he trod through the snow and found a lovely unseen puddle of ice-cold water under the snow at the edge of the curb, he cursed the fact that he had forgotten to bring his Wellington’s. Now he had wet feet and wet trousers. Damn You Ophelia! He found the Lych-gate hidden in the overgrown hedge and walked carefully through the cemetery towards the silent sitting figure. He put out his hand as if to touch the shoulder of the figure, in truth he was afraid the figure might be dead… He gently pressed his hand on the figures shoulder and it moved in an unnatural way. It bent away from him in a manner which was probably impossible for the human body to make. The legs remained in the same position but the torso fell sideways as if it wasn’t attached. He stifled a scream of shock. He pulled back the hood and discovered nothing more than a ball of scrunched up newspaper and a plastic mask. He had in fact walked through the snow and ice to save a Guy! Do you remember Guy’s? We used to make Guys for Guy Fawkes’ night back in the sixties… We would go around the neighbourhood knocking on doors and asking for a penny for the Guy… Anyway this incongruous character that he had puzzled over for the last three days, had turned out to be another relic from the past, another anachronism. He could have spent many hours wondering how and why a “guy” had been left in the empty cemetery, about what kind of mind came up with such a prank, and for what end? But as the snow was heavy, and his feet were freezing, he decided that getting back into the warmth of his van, and carrying on with his very important job were far more pressing needs than to try to understand what the hell was it all about.
The green. A space between the houses of our street. It doubled for the wild west, the western front, the beaches of D-day, The seven seas of the pirate era, and the Jungle of Tarzan. The tree in question was an oak tree with two trunks. It was a relatively easy tree to climb. Me and Stephen Blackwell, would climb up the tree pretending to be Tarzan and cheetah. Due to my diminutive stature, I was always cheetah. He would stand on a large branch about ten feet off the ground, and make the Tarzan call.
As the chimp I would climb to the top of the tree and swing from one half of the Oak to the other. I though that this was a dare-devil leap of huge proportions, but it was probably only a leap of a yard. Still, I was very small… So it was brave as far as I’m concerned. One time when we playing cowboys Steve was standing on his calling branch, when I shot him with my cap gun. At the b of the bang, he fell the ten foot out of the tree and rolled on the ground, then remained stock still. For an awful moment I thought I had actually shot him somehow. I moved up close to him… He didn’t move. I began to panic. What if he was really hurt? I looked back up to the limb of the tree. It was a death- defying fall. My eyes began to tear up… What have I done? He grabbed me by the foot and pulled me to the ground.
“Don’t Shoot me til I’ve done my Tarzan Call. You bugger. He sat on my chest and started to pummel my chest with his fingers. This was a play fight. He still hurt, but it was good-natured pain infliction.
“We were playing cowboys!” I reasoned.
“I know that dummy! but I like to do the Tarzan call!”
The same tree had been there before the houses of our estate were even built. The tree had probably been there when my Granddad had been billeted at the barracks during the war another twenty years back in time. These were our proper trees. They had planted many more trees on the green, but they were just saplings, with stakes holding them up. They were no good for climbing, and were just put into use as goal posts when we played football.
This tree was a focal point for the first ten years that I lived in Lichfield. It was as much a play mate as my friends. I would climb it and sit at the topper most branches thinking, when no-one else was out to play.
Then it became it’s opposite. It became the instrument of my brother’s death. He died by hanging from the very limb that Steve had used to make his Tarzan call. He had been swinging on a rope swing, which had a noose at the end, to sit in. He slipped through the noose and it hung him by his neck. Suddenly, this tree which had been like a cherished friend to me, now became an object of hate. Every day I had to walk passed that tree. Everyday had to relive the moment when I saw my brother lying beneath it… Blue! Perfect, but blue… And Dead. How could death be so close? I wanted to kick him, to scream…
“Get Up I know you’re only play acting… ” But he wasn’t play-acting. He was for real. It was the real deal. Nothing ever made sense after that. Nothing has ever made sense. Your senses cannot fathom the veil between life and death.
The tree has gone now. It’s thick trunks taken by a chainsaw. I mourn it’s passing. It had no malevolent intent. It had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
COPYRIGHT Dale Beck 2018
Glenn was sharing a room with Lorraine. It was the first time he had lived with anyone other than his family. Twenty years old, and this was the first time he had awoken with a woman sharing his space…. Without a mad scramble to hide the fact that they had been in the same bed. An ecstasy of fumbling and ferreting around… But not here and not now. It had happened as a matter of expediency, he had needed a flat to live in, and Lorraine had needed a person to share with. They had been introduced by mutual friends, and Glenn had been game… Lorraine was not so sure, but when Sue, the girl who had let her sleep on her floor for the last few weeks, kind of insisted, Lorraine had agreed to give it a go.
They found a room in a semi-detached house at the top of La Pouquelaye, although it was quite a walk from the centre of St. Helier, that was probably a bonus. Both of them had felt stifled living in the town, all of the friends led a very incestuous life, living in each others shadows night and day, Glenn was quite pleased to have space to breathe and Lorraine was always over-shadowed by her more gregarious friends.
The room consisted of two single beds and a t.v. set. A small two ring stove and grill sat precariously underneath it.
So they moved in on a Friday night, had a few drinks and went to bed quite early. They sat watching a horror film, and talking across the divide of the chimney breast. They did not flirt, though Glenn was quite keen… She had a lovely Glaswegian accent and once she got over her shyness, she could be quite funny.
Come Saturday morning, Glenn was awoken by a fully dressed Lorraine and a nice cup of coffee.
“Come on Lazy Bones, up you get, We have things to do.”
Glenn groaned. He looked across at his travel clock and saw it was only 9:30.
He rolled over and turned his back to her, he didn’t usually get up until 12 on a Saturday.
“Hey you wee scabby b’stard, Get the fuck up! We need to go shopping, right? It’s all 50/50 right? So that means we go shopping together. I’m not paying Wifey… I’m not going on my own!” He rolled over and took up the coffee cup. He gulped it down. Then he rolled over again… Within seconds he was asleep. A minute later he was awake again.
“What the fuck?” he spluttered. She had rubbed a wet cloth across his face. She looked very wifey, he thought as she stood over him with her hands on her hips. He looked closely at her face. She was cute when she was annoyed! her page-boy cut black hair with its long fringe… She had a mannerism, she kept brushing the fringe out of her eyes…
He felt a frisson below the duvet… Olive brown eyes, large lips and freckles… For Fuck sake… she had freckles. Again, She pushed away the fringe, she looked stern,
“Are you getting up or do I have to pull your duvet off?”
“I wouldn’t. You might get more than you bargained for?”
“Down below… The old man is awake…” he smirked.
“Oh My God, Men! one track mind. I told you we are not having any of that! You promised, strictly friends, you said, your very words… I need a friend more than a shag…You said that just last night… When You were talking about some Cathy or whatever.”
“Katie. Her name was Katie. I’m not hitting on you Lorr, just telling you of my state of arousal. I have no control over the little man.”
“You and every other man I ever met! And don’t call me Lorr, my step-father used to call me That! If you have to shorten my name it’s Raine. Ok?”
They went shopping. Raine met a friend in the market, and started making out that she and Glenn were an item. Most peculiar. She invited her friend and the boyfriend she had with her to come up to the flat for a drink later. Glenn said nothing. He thought maybe she did want to play wifey after all.
Before the couple came, Lorraine asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend, as her friend was always going on about having a boyfriend… So she had lied. Just to shut her up for a bit. Glenn went down to the off-licence and bought a bottle of Vodka, his own tipple and orange squash.
The couple came with a cheap bottle of plonk. Blue Nun. They drank that, and half the bottle of vodka… And seemed settled for the night. Lorraine sat next to him on his bed. She draped an arm around him, and pointedly said that she was tired. The couple took the hint and made excuses. When Glenn had seen them off the premises, he returned to the bedroom to find that she was asleep in his bed.
Now… What to do? She was in his bed, that must be an invitation surely? But what if she was just trolleyed? What if she had snuggled down because she was drunk? He didn’t want to make an ass of himself, and he didn’t want her screaming blue murder because of a misunderstanding. He turned off the light and stripped down to his jockeys. He climbed into her bed. he lay there in silence. Looking at the orange glow on the ceiling, from the street light outside. He listened but he couldn’t hear her breathing. Was she really asleep?
“Glenn.” A small voice called.
“What the fuck are you doing in my bed?”
“I was about to ask you the same question.”
“I don’t know about you, young man, but I’m lying her thinking what’s wrong with me? Doesn’t he fancy me?”
“Then what are you waiting for?”
“Do you want a written invitation?”
“Verbal will do fine.”
“Glenn get your arse over her now!”
“That will do it.” He leapt across the three-foot divide like Nijinsky on steroids.
Sunday morning, the anticlimax. Saturday night she was a live electric eel, all sensory and sensual desire. A flagrant and fragrant departure from the shy girl that Glenn had met just a couple of days before… She was a shocking sensation. The sex, it was always the sex… it was beyond the aching amateurish first-time delving of all his prior attempts.
So beautiful, so soft and tender, but also something else, something broken. He didn’t think this at the time but… in the morning when the madness had faded he realised that She had a need. Put Glenn in mind of the line in the song Dossier (of Fallibility) By The Skids.
He played the album just to hear the lyrics.
I never said never
I only said can’t
Move over move over
It’s unjustified romance
No more affair
It went on too long
No more communication
Time I was gone
Put down receiver.
Time I was gone.
Move over move over
Time I was gone.
The blood lay spilled on the receiving end
The wrists were cut unseen to all
The blood lay spilled an ancient blend
The wrists were cut during this call.
You are such a martyr
You leave such a taste
You are a disciple
You are such a waste
No more intimacy
Only footage news
Rejection of religion
Cascaded with blame
No stricken conscience
Attendance at the ashes
Sorry for the family
See you at your grave
A situation built round this plight
I no longer seem to require my greed
All these ambitions severed in flight
Just realised love’s more than a need
Inside and outside
Caught in between
The method that killed you
Was mine it would seem
A situation built round this plight
I no longer require my greed
All these ambitions are severed in flight.
I’ve just realised love’s a need
Should I endeavour to reset the wire
To reset the wire of life
This mental torment with nowhere to rehire
Please let my Dossier-grind-shoot-and
The blood lay spilled on the receiving end
The wrists were cut unseen to all
All these ambitions are severed in flight
And I’ve just realised love’s more than a need.
Why did he have time to contemplate? Because when he awoke on Sunday morning, she had flown the nest. there was no sign of her. He got up and went to the toilet. She was not in the bathroom. She was an enigma. She had issues, that was for sure. Glenn went back to bed. He slept. He woke again. It was lunch time, she was still not present. He got up and went down to the town, in search of food and hopefully Lorraine. He went to the cafe and ate a hearty all-day English breakfast. He went to the flat where Lorraine’s friends lived. She was not there. No-one had seen her. Now, he was worried. He went to the bar and drank. He was alone on this Island, he had found a girl he liked and promptly lost her again. What is wrong with you? He didn’t understand anything.
He went back to the flat. It was still empty. He went back to bed, switching tapes in his tape deck. He played Bowie Live at Philadelphia. He drifted in thought… and then sleep.
When he woke up again, it was dark. He didn’t know where he was. He had a stiffness in his member. He couldn’t remember what had caused it? Was it a dream? No. It was a full bladder. He got up and turned on the light. She was there. Sleeping in her bed. He went to the toilet. Cleaned his teeth. He turned off the light and went over to her and kissed the top of her head. She screamed.
“It’s ok. It’s only me. Go back to sleep.” She grunted. She turned her back towards him. He went back to bed. He lay on his back, and stared once more at the ceiling. She was totally weird.
A small voice.
” Glenn I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok. I get it. You don’t want me.”
“I do want you… but not yet. Let’s forget last night. Start again. Start slowly. I will be fine eventually. I’m just not ready yet.”
“Where did you go?”
” I just took a trip around the island. I needed space to think.”
“The island isn’t that big that it can take you all day!”
“I sat on the beach, had a drink in a bar. And I walked. Then I got another bus home.”
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Male EGOS! You were fine, a masterful performance. I give you a ten out of ten… It’s not you! It’s me!”
“Really ten out of ten?”
Lorraine laughed. A bitter all men are such idiots kind of laugh, that Glenn had heard before.
” I don’t know what to tell you… But I’m damaged goods, Glenn. I like you, and I know you have a good soul in there somewhere but I haven’t got the energy to find out where. So it’s back to the start ok? We are flatmates not lovers.”
“Really? Ten out of ten.?”
” I can’t tell if you are joking or are really that fucking crass… Either way, I need to sleep! I have to go to work in the morning!”
6 a.m. Monday morning. get that? 6 a.m.! Lorraine has to be at work for NINE. Now Glenn never got up before twelve unless he had to go to work. If he had to go to work he got up ten minutes before he had to leave… Quick swill, smell the clothes to see which are the cleanest… Grab a cup of coffee, and the sandwiches left out for him by his Mum, and he was away. A simple routine. Lorraine was up at Six to leave at eight thirty. What was she going to do with one hundred and fifty minutes? He groaned. She ignored him. She made tea. She sat watching him as she drank her tea.
“You need to find a job. And quick, the way you drink your money will be gone in no time!”
” I will look for work later.”
“You need to get up early and look properly. you won’t find one in the pub.”
” What about bar work?”
“Too easy. Get up and go find a job… Pronto!”
“Is this you taking a backward step? Just Flatmates? Jeez, Not even bloody milkmen are up at this time of the morning.”
” You know I’m right. And as a flatmate, I need to know you can pay your half of the bills… I’m not going to have you sponging off me.”
He rolled over to face the wall. She went into the bathroom. She took a shower. He rolled back on to his back and looked at the ceiling. She was right, he did need to find a job. he was shedding cash like a dog sheds hair. She came back into the room, hair wet and dressed in a toweling dressing gown. She took out her hairdryer and began to dry her hair. Glenn watched closely the ritual. She brushed with one hand and dried with the other. The noise of the hairdryer went through Glenn like a dentist’s drill.
“Thank God you have short hair!”
“THANK GOD YOU ONLY HAVE SHORT HAIR!” he shouted.
She turned off the hairdryer.
” Sorry if I’m disturbing you, sir!”
“Not at all… Your dressing gown is gaping, and what I can see is most interesting.”
She looked down and saw her breasts were peeking out.
She hit him over the head with the back of her brush.
“Turn the other way you pervert, I don’t have time for your nonsense.”
He turned away but as soon as the hairdryer started again, he shifted around to get a better view. The hairdryer stopped and she put the kettle on for another tea.
“Do you want one peeping tom?”
“Coffee please, Mata Hari.”
“What does that mean?”
” Come on you must have heard of Mata Hari, she was a spy for the Germans in the 1st world war. Don’t they teach you scotch anything?”
” Ok Clever bugger, firstly, scotch is a drink, I’m a Scot. Secondly, the first world war was 60 years ago, so why would I know of a spy from the dark ages?”
“Good Grief, there is no talking to this girl.”
She sat on her bed. She looked so cute, he wanted to eat her. He drank his coffee. He thought, is this what it’s like? To be married? To live with someone? A constant back and forth… It was not what he’d expected. In fact, he didn’t know what he expected. He just walked into situations blindly… Fatalistic to the nth degree. No wonder his life was never plain sailing. That and the fact he was drunk most nights.
She got up and painstakingly began to put on her make-up, in the mirror which was set upon the chimney breast. Fascinated as if by a boa constrictor, Glenn watched as she put on her foundation. She then rouged her cheekbones. She put on her blue eye shadow and finally stroked her eyelashes with mascara. It was a long and laborious campaign. She cursed when the mascara smudged on the corner of her eye. She took out a cotton bud and slowly and carefully, stroked away the smudge. It was as if she was creating a mask.
Hiding her youthful looks for what reason? To make herself look more professional?
“You don’t need make-up, you look beautiful naturally.” He said earnestly.
” It is expected. You have to look the part when your job is dealing with the public. You should take note, you need to smarten up if you’re going to get a job!”
“Don’t you hate it? I mean, taking 2 1/2 hours to get ready? Do you go through this rigmarole every morning?”
“Yes. I do it every morning, and no, I don’t hate it. It helps me prepare for meeting people. I feel I am at my best.”
“Dear GOD. You are only shop assistant !”
“I have a job, you do not. So fuck you!”
“Sorry, didn’t mean anything against you Raine, just that the job is not what you are worth… You are much better than being a shop assistant.”
“It is a job. A start. You have to make concessions, you can’t just walk into the job of your dreams. Now, go and have a piss or something so I can get dressed in peace.”
Glenn got up and walked across the room. He paraded his erection proudly, pouched in his y-fronts.
“For god sake, boy, stop swinging that thing in my face!”
” That’s not what you said Saturday!”
“We’ve forgotten Saturday, remember?”
“Very Irish, you sure you’re scotch?”
She smacked his arse with the hair brush and he scooted out of the room, sharpish!
When he came back, she was fully dressed and stood in front of the mirror, applying her lipstick. She left at 8.30. am. Glenn had a leisurely stroke and thought about her naked.
This is mostly true. It happened 37 years ago. A lifetime away. What happened next. The obvious. A few weeks later she disappeared on a Sunday again, She rang later, she said that she had ended up in intensive care at the hospital due to alcoholic poisoning. She said, I love you Dale, but I can’t live with you… You drink too much and I can’t keep up, you will end up killing me. Well, she had a point. We were drinking 2 bottles of Vodka a day… She was only drinking a quarter of that. So she left. I hope she has had a good life. I came home, having never found a job, but I was looking in the wrong place , Jobs are not found at the bottom of a bottle.
Live in love my friends
TAKEN BY THE HAWK-WIND
First and last time that he was ever led by peer pressure, was a case of cherchez la femme. Such is life when you are young and led by your cock. He had spent a large amount of money on tickets for the University Alternative Christmas Ball. It was a big Punk retro gig, with groups like the Damned, the Fall, John Cooper-Clarke and many more… It seemed Manna from heaven to him, a chance to see many of the bands he’d missed in the first flush of the punk movement.
He bought two tickets, The other was for Janine. She didn’t want to go. She was an old hippy, she wanted to go to the Hawkwind gig. Brian, his pal from sociology was going to the Hawkwind gig. Many of his other mates were going to the Hawkwind gig. He was the only one of their band of brigands who wanted to go to the Punk Gig. So, for the first time in his life, he allowed peer pressure to get the better of him and gave in. Janine was not yet hooked. She had been circling his line for a while, but had yet to succumb to his bright feathers.
The day of the gig went as follows. Two hours of tedious lectures about the Ancient Greeks… “Beware of greeks… Boring gits”, he had carved lovingly into the desk top. After that, it had been an hour of sessional Maths, which he had to pass to get into the next year, and then a lunch time sojourn to the pub. Four pints later, with Janine’s deeply sexy laugh still ringing in his ears, he had gone to his sociology seminar. Quite drunk by this time, he had fallen asleep. The Professor asked him a question. Somebody nudged him.
He woke with a start and stared mole-ishly at the Prof.
“How do you propose to carry out your research?”
He fumbled amongst his papers, as if looking for an answer in his notes… ( His notes were a series of doodles spiraling all over the page.)
” I was planning to do some participant observation, coupled with a randomized questionnaire, and also a series of interviews.”
” Well, that seems fairly exhaustive, I look forward to seeing your finished research.”
With that, we were free. Free at last, free at last, thank fuck we are free at last!
He walked across the campus to Brian’s room. He was the only one who had a seminar that afternoon… End of term blues. Of course, by the time He got to the room, everyone else was high as kites. The Blue haze threatened to take over the whole floor of the halls. In Brian’s room, there was a teepee pow-wow of 10 elders passing the pipe of peace… Bong.
Everyone was a giggling jiggling wreck. He went to the kitchen and grabbed a beer. He bombed the first in one go and beckoned a joint to His lips. Ahh there you are my season of mist and mellow fruitfulness. Somebody laughed. Suddenly everybody laughed… It Was That kind of night. Janine was jostled on the bed between youngsters. The were bedazzled by her deeply sexy voice… They were dripping adolescence all over her. He was a little put out. He drank another beer. He told them all about his falling asleep in Sociology. No-one cared. No-one cared much about anything. Somebody said that they should get down to the student’s Union soon, get a good spot. He pulled Janine to one side,
“Are You Ok?” Janine suffered from Epilepsy, so his concern was not just an excuse to bring her to heel.
“I’m fine, Glenn, Mighty fine.”
“That you are.” He grabbed her arm, as if helping her keep steady as they walked back to the S.U. The three tiny teens looked pissed at him, but he didn’t give a flying fuck about them.
They got inside and more pints were consumed. Hawkwind came on stage to a mass of flashing lights and very loud speakers. After three songs, Janine bent up double. Glenn bent down beside her.
“Are you ok?”
” I Think I’m GOING.”
Glenn grabbed her quickly and took her outside. In the dark and cold, she held him close.
“Take me home.”
His car was parked on the S.U. parking lot, He had planned not to use it, he was going to sleep on Brian’s floor. Janine, like him, lived off campus. He drove her home. She asked him in. He had been here once before, but not on his own.
She rolled a great big juicy J and told him to fetch the wine. They sat on her bed smoking, talking, drinking and toking. She showed no sign of having an epileptic fit. He thought maybe he should go home.
“If you’re ok now, maybe I should go home.”
“Glenn, did you think I was really having a fit? I faked it. I was bored with all the kids, I just wanted to take you, and your singular chat, and your beautiful body and Fuck the life out of you! If you think you are getting out of her without fulfilling my every desire, you, young sir, are sadly mistaken!”
And that was it. Hooked. You see my friends, nothing is ever just one way. All relationships are a two-way thing. You may think that a man is being predatory… He may think he is being predatory! But the other half of the equation has a mind and a will, And sometimes the Hawk will take on a prey that can prey on him.
Saying that don’t be predatory, just be open. Let life find its way into you. It will if you give it a chance.
Names and events and vagaries of memory have been changed, because its my story and I can tell it how I want.
Live in love my friends
WIDOW OF THE WITCHING HOUR
Laura had the single dormitory room up in the attic at Westfields. It had been a stipulation by the governors of the school when she had been allowed to transfer there. Laura didn’t mind. She liked being on her own and she liked that her window gave access to the fire escape. Westfields was the last vestiges of what had been a Girl’s Boarding School. Although the school was now just a normal comprehensive, Many of the older girls parents had paid good money to send their girls there, so Westfields stayed open until those girls had matriculated. Laura was a newbie. She was there because she had been expelled from her old Boarding School. There had been a scandal.
Of course, it was another stipulation by the Governors, that allowed her to enter the school, that the scandal should remain a secret. As with most large societies, secrets become common knowledge within hours. Laura became known amongst the other boarders as Lezzie Laura, or double L for short. Whilst the rumours gave her an exotic mystique among her classmates, it also made making friends difficult. Laura didn’t mind.
She liked her solitude. At night, she would sneak out of her window and down the fire escape. The wall around Westfields backed on to the local park and although it was six feet high, she had found a shrub which would take her weight and she used this to lever herself over the wall and into the parkland. On moonlit nights she would climb a large oak tree right up to the top and there would lie back and look at the stars. She would wish upon the stars, she wished you could see Helen again… It was a wish without much hope of fulfilment, Helen had been whisked away to deepest furthest Scotland… An innocent party, according to the Nuns at Shrewsbury. Whereas Laura was an abomination, a mortal sinner. Laura had laughed when the Holy Mother had said it.
She couldn’t help herself, The diminutive nun had stood up and raised her hand to strike her. Laura had stood up quickly, and towered above the nun.
“You touch me and I’ll give you the same back you old Bitch!”
She exploded, but she didn’t hit Laura, she knew the girl was as good as her word. She told her to go and sit in the classroom, until her parents could come and pick her up.
“But it’s the middle of the night, “Laura had exclaimed, “and my parents are in Brussels. How long do you expect me to stay in the Fucking Classroom.” The nun had an Apoplectic fit.
” You Will stay there until I tell you to come out.”
Her parents had been called and after some deep discussion, her grandparents had been dispatched to take Laura back to their Stourbridge home. Laura had only got six months left at school, so after deals were done through diplomatic channels, Her parents both being diplomats at the Brussel’s European Union Parliament, they were very good at finding channels; not so good at providing a stable home for their daughter. So she had been dispatched to Westfield’s.
And now at the midnight hour, she was out of her window and over the wall. She had shimmied up the big oak tree and she sat the talking to her God in her head. She had no fear of the dark… Darkness was her friend… Like no other. She and Helen had made a spell, had mixed ivy and holly together and each carried half of the mixture on their body at all time. It was a token of their undying love. Laura wondered if Helen still had her little leather pouch? Laura had hers around her neck on a shoelace. She pulled it out from between her bosom and kissed the pouch. In her heart of hearts Laura knew that Helen would not have kept her pouch… In her Heart of hearts she knew that Helen would have already forgotten her. For although Laura was older, it was Helen who had instigated their affair. Helen had a history of persuading older girls into her bed… Helen was a game player, But Laura felt like she had belonged with her as she had never felt with anyone in her life. Laura couldn’t care less about being expelled. She just wanted to be with Helen. Now it was all gone, all done. So she sat in the middle of the park, looking at the stars and smoking a contraband cigarette. She would have liked to howl at the moon, but She may have been heard, so she did it in her head, and in her eyes… Tears were silent.
She heard a noise below her. Two stifled voices. Two men. Strange. What were two men doing underneath her tree? Had they seen her? What would she do if they started climbing up? She lay still as an owl at the top of the tree. She listened with acuity. It didn’t sound as if they were a threat. Their whispers were furtive…
“Come here then, lets see it, does you need milking my lovely?”
An old man’s voice. She looked down between the branches and saw the two men silhouetted against the trunk of tree. She put her hand to her mouth. There was a flurry of activity… Hands pumping, The older man got down on his knees. She could see his bald head bobbing up and down in the moonlight.