Saturday, 29 October 2016

Crawl into the Traps that you set for Yourself

It was an unremarkable Wednesday night and I was attempting to cycle through various activities in order to pass the time. A typical evening such as this would involve Spanish lessons, playing guitar, reading, watching Netflix and perhaps even playing video games as a kind of reward had I exhausted all other avenues with regard to what I deemed more worthwhile pursuits. But on this particular Wednesday evening I was suddenly sick of Spanish lessons and I was sick of playing guitar. The thought of reading bored me. The thought of doing anything nauseated me. There was only one thing I felt like doing. And that was drinking a White Russian. Just one, one or two and then early to bed of course as I had work the next day. I felt agitated. Could I trust myself to be measured and reasonable? And Kahlua was expensive, this was a decadent notion I found myself entertaining on a generic Wednesday evening. I opened my laptop and opened up Google Chrome and ran a search for Tesco Kahlua. My worst fears and deepest hopes were confirmed – it was on a special offer just now. With weary, wary excitement and donned my coat and ventured out into Wednesday night. I returned 30 minutes later with the vodka, Kahlua, milk and some token grocery purchases to assuage my conscientious and also appear more responsible before Tesco's cashiers. The first drink I poured was ridiculously sensible, almost as if I was parodying my restrained intentions. A very neat measure of vodka and Kahlua with a generous volume of milk and ice. I dropped a straw in the glass, took a few quick sips and congratulated myself on being so measured and sensible. I'd also bought some beers. My reasoning was that I didn't want to be chugging at White Russians so I could open a beer as a chaser. I opened a beer. The second White Russian I poured was perhaps slightly less sensible. It was hard to gauge; residual chunks of watery ice made it hard to determine the measures I was pouring. Were these measures measured? I did not measure them. Perhaps I should invest in a shot glass and only pour standard measures. I opened another beer. I poured another White Russian. Just a couple more as I had work in the morning and it was jesus it was already almost 1am how did that happen OK just one or two more as long as I was in bed by 1:30am it would be oh jesus how was it 2am already terrible terrible this is terrible what the fuck am I doing drinking another White Russian and another beer at 3am I need to go to bed and have four hours sleep.

I woke up half an hour after I was due to be in the office. It was a day of severe self-recrimination.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Consolations of Wind and Prayer

The consolations of wind and prayer are sufficient (sometimes)

And yet we do seek refuge in the depot

Inebriation is swift and total
Eyes closed, singing softly
The jacket is impossible to adorn
The keys are elusive
The stairway is problematic
The polite grin wavers
It'll flicker out soon when
You tell me you want
to forget all this

Sunday, 28 February 2016

A Memory

Bowls of strawberries glazed with sugar, cucumber sandwiches and various other quaint refreshments were set upon a checked tablecloth adorned table. Lots of people I didn't know were in attendance, friends and acquaintances of my late uncle. They were brightly dressed and the invitation was clear on this; it was to be a celebration of life party as opposed to any kind of traditional wake. A large, jovial black woman in a yellow blouse sipped coffee and grinned at mum and I. Dad nibbled at a cucumber sandwich, one hand casually in the pocket of his khaki trousers. I marvelled at the eclectic, multicultural, bohemian circle of friends my uncle had kept. And then of course it seemed to be in keeping with his progressive lifestyle as a gay man in London. How unknowable he seemed to me in that moment! What little I knew of him was half-remembered from the few times I'd actually met him on his infrequent visits back to Edinburgh, his home town.
Dad finished his sandwich and then stood behind me and made a pantomime of pretending to strangle me, a weird kind of jape. It was clear he didn't know how to behave in these circumstances. Gatherings made him uneasy, even more so when he was some sort of focus of attention as the brother of the deceased. For my part I wasn't quite sure how to behave or what to feel. I seemed to be experiencing everything at a remove, as if from a distant viewing platform. Mum seemed reserved and somehow stoically cheerful in her shades and elaborate hat. My aunt, my uncle's younger sister, was tearful. Thinking back on it now I suppose a drink of alcohol might have helped me relax a bit and process what was going on. But I didn't really know what alcohol was as a seven year old boy. Perhaps I sipped a carbonated beverage although even that seems unlikely as the first time I tried Lilt around that age it had made me sob. Almost twenty years later I would pour grandpa a glass of coke and he'd tear up trying to drink it - “it's difficult to drink,” he would wince. I would watch with amusement and mild embarrassment on his behalf. Which, come to think of it, is how I observed many events and spectacles throughout my life. Removed, ready to dash away and hide. I remember deciding at one point during my teenage years that I'd like to “hide in the empty spaces of this life.” I think it was a Pere Ubu lyric or something.

They cremated my uncle on a sunny afternoon in London and, at the end of the service, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin was played. Perhaps this was in accordance with his wishes. I remember Granny saying she was prepared to leave before the rocky bit kicked it, fearing it would all be too much. Granny was also reserved, rarely emotional or tearful. Once, many years after the funeral, maybe five or six years later, or more than that, she was talking about my uncle and she seemed to be on the verge of tearing up. And mum had noticed and later brought it up with dad when they were alone, and dad had said that maybe that's what needed to happen, she needed to “have a good greet.” But emotion or confrontation were not valid behaviours within dad's family; “you all bury your heads and avoid these things,” as mum helpfully liked to point out. If we were irritated or upset we affected nonchalance. If we were annoyed with someone we'd indicate it in a subtle, passive-aggressive manner.

The sugared strawberries were delicious. I'd never tried them prepared this way before. Afterwards I went and played out in the back garden of whoever's house we were in with some other kids, my younger brother would have inevitably been amongst them. So surreal to be in this strange city, in this strange house after this strange life event, my uncle no longer living. My brother a couple years younger than me, I wonder how much he remembers or understood at the time. If memory accurately serves, we all stayed overnight in a hotel and me and my brother shared a room with mum and our auntie. When we got back to Scotland and I was back at school, my teacher asked about my trip to London, commenting on the sadness of the occasion for my visit. And there was almost something there, but it was behind a wall of ice, or it was like there was something that was defined only by its absence, like a negative or a mould where there should've been something fierce and real and three-dimensional and emotional.

Saturday, 19 December 2015


10 minutes late, is he trying to come the cunt? Relax man, you're hardly the most outstanding proponent of punctuality – you've executed some of the most appalling breaches of social etiquette with regard to arriving on time. Aye, I suppose that's accurate, just linger here at the bar a while longer and sip your pint. Let the bored bar staff study you and surmise your story, no, don't let that irk you. Move away from the hatch a wee bit. They're overstaffed and moving in and out of there quickly to attend to the most trivial of clean-ups. Pint glasses must be washed and refilled, the cycle perpetuated. It helps us think, after all. Ah, the clarity of a few pints!

Quarter past, where is the cunt! This really is unacceptable, one is tempted to finish one's pint and absent oneself from the premises. A warm cheerio. More than halfway through the bloody pint now. He'll be here any moment. Forget about the fact that one's presence standing at the bar somehow encumbers the bar staff and makes them feel exhausted and disdainful. I'm sure it doesn't anyway. Weird cunts that work in here by the way. A passive aggressive hostility is inferred. He'll be here, he'll be here. Where the hell is he then? A plausible explanation for being held up I'm sure, come on you miserable bastard don't jump to conclusions, he's coming he's coming. He's not coming. God it's hot in here. Why do they have the fire and the ceiling fan on. One removes one's jacket and hangs it on the underside of the overhanging bartop. A most efficient and excellent way to quickly achieve optimal comfort.

All available space feels occupied, it's okay, one enjoys one's vantage at the bar, oversees the patrons lost in vast conversations. 15 minutes now that's okay, no need to foster the countenance of a doss bastard at this juncture.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Consensus of Faux Awe Achieved Through Hostile Pantomime

It was whilst frolicking in the Misty Gardens of Wan Mirth that I happened to encounter it, it being a disagreeably effete, bespectacled creature which pranced around hypnotically, its curious and androgynous eyes checking to see that I was observing it, pantomiming an expression of awe for me to feel obliged to mirror so that some kind of consensus that something spectacular was taking place might occur. I grimaced, looked away, and farted silently. The creature, which seemed somehow nervously sedate, continued to cavort and dance around me, behaviour which struck me as being unpalatable in the extreme. I demonstrated my disdain by wincing, snapping my fingers, and jerking my head in a series of admittedly bizarre movements. I had the feeling that the creatures' ritual was transforming in infinitesimal increments, at such a ponderous rate that the changed nuances couldn't quite be observed; instead the overall feeling conveyed to me by this creature's startling behaviour altered from one of gruesome allure to one of seething hostility. It was at this moment that I allowed myself to feel panic and emit a drawn-out scream which the creature duly mimicked with eerie accuracy, standing at a 90 degree angle to me all the while. The initial panic having subsided, I began to experience a feeling of monstrous elation and horrendous joy. I allowed the scream to flow out of me with a sense of relief akin to the relief afforded by urine vacating one's penis or excrement exiting one's anus or semen erupting from one's excited penis. The creature held my arms at the elbows and I did likewise with it as we howled euphorically into one another's faces.

A Snapshot of the Russell Athletic Brand Ambassador

He was wearing his mauve Russell Athletic jogging bottoms with black and white Reebok basketball trainers. His jacket positively billowed over his gaunt frame. He wore sunglasses and grinned serenely. They'd told him he mustn't smile too much, they'd warned him against it. Such behaviour wasn't becoming of a Russell Athletic brand ambassador. A pensive, sombre demeanour was to be preferred.
A couple at the next table were having a discussion about an absent third party, someone the woman kept referring to as being "manically depressed."
Outside, a bald man in a puffy jacket was smoking a cigarette whilst studying and tapping the screen of his phone. A bored looking dog languished on the step, swishing its tail. Two stern looking lesbians with cropped haircuts and tweed jackets sauntered past. The afternoon was cold and clear. The Russell Athletic brand ambassador walked down Leith Walk, immersed in the flow of pedestrians. The unfathomable night gardens of Edinburgh were accessible to him in that moment.

Absence from the Table

It sometimes occurs that I am absent from the table. In such instances I can invariably be found on the balcony or in the attic. It isn't often that I am in the woods. At night I am frequently absent from the table, especially when other bodies are present at it. In such instances, communication can be achieved via exasperated shouting between floors.

I open a book, scan a few lines, then resignedly replace the bookmark and set the damn thing down.

I hallucinated that I was a TV newsreader. I recorded a segment and then watched the footage on TV that same night, awestruck. I marvelled at the fact that old acquaintances would glimpse me on a televised news programme.

It often occurs that I am absent from my life. Severe amnesia and emotional detachment and severe disassociation compromise my ability to interact with phenomenon such as objects or people.

"I have no idea what I'm doing," he laughed exasperatedly.

Configuration of the Counterfeit Jonathan Marks

"An abuse is occurring," howled the gaunt, white faced boy.
"Who is conducting this abuse?" queried Jonathan, smiling autistically.
"It's occurring near the grey coast," replied the boy.
Jonathan's smile did not falter nor did his facial expression in any way alter. He stared straight ahead, his gaze fixed at a 90 degree angle to where the boy's gaze was aimed.

One behaves oneself for the pantomime doesn't one now. The musk of the lobby in all its exciting dimness. How dreadfully exciting it all is! Father frolics in sad, misty gardens at dawn, damp-eyed, yawning into his Weetabix in slow motion. Chaffed thighs, empty plastic Pepsi bottles, a visit to the woods. An unfathomably sad Edinburgh garden. Ejaculate is not recommended as a salve for a grazed knee. A pile of smouldering universe.

"Is that guy dizzy?"
"Which guy?"
"That guy over there. He looks dizzy."
"I don't know who you mean."
"Look, don't get exasperated. I'm not sure who you're referring to."
"The guy with the weird spectacles."
"Oh, that guy."
"Aye, him. Is he dizzy or no?"
"How did you arrive at that impression? The reason I ask is that he doesn't seem to me to be dizzy at all."
"I'm talking about the balding guy."
"Oh, him. Yes, he does seem rather dizzy, doesn't he?"

(rapturous applause)

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Regrettable Multiplication of the Theatre of the Grotesque

Nights gleaming with potency
Amber lights loom
As we endure the invincibility
of infinity
of gleaming nights
of unfathomable melancholy.

The grotesque theatre multiplies
as we applaud reluctantly.
We, so feckless!
Applauded as we writhe
in shallow rain puddles
which reflect that gruesome
amber light.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Colony of Infinite Battery

One will notice a few important details when one receives ones invitation to the Colony of Infinite Battery. These details are conveyed in what may seem like the vaguest manner possible and it is indeed the case that some important details are left out altogether. I don't think that this is necessarily a case of the government obscuring the truth or misleading the general populace. Allow me to explain why. The general populace is largely aware of the nature of proceedings that take place on the colony. There is however an element of rumour or myth surrounding the facts. Therefore should one be unfortunate enough to receive an invitation, the lack of specific information on the invitation can assist the recipient in achieving a state of suspended disbelief or cognitive dissonance. Surely the stories of perpetual physical violence, malnourishment and general torture are exaggerations he will tell himself, grinning sadly.

I received my invitation in January, shortly after my 31st birthday. My family were all of the opinion that I should pass the invitation on to my father and he agreed with this although rather reluctantly it seemed to me. Rejecting an invitation was permissible provided a replacement attendee was sought. Attendance was otherwise compulsory. This often led to intimidation, threats and enforced attendance for weaker and more vulnerable members of society who were passed invitations by ruthless bullies. This kind of behaviour was not discouraged by the government.

My invitation was given to me by my mother when I was out visiting her, my father and my sister on the occasion of my 31st birthday. The invitation had been sent to my parents home as this was still my registered address, having moved out only a few years earlier without taking the time to update my official documentation.
“There's mail for you, Jock” mother announced with her characteristic nonchalance. Which, in hindsight, was unusual, as the invitations are immediately recognisable for their anachronistic yellow wax seal. Had she not noticed this? Or was she pretending naivety in the face of a situation too terrible to acknowledge? Dear reader we sadly may never know the truth. Upon seeing the immediately recognisable violet envelope with anachronistic yellow wax seal, I experienced a vertiginous sensation of unreality. I dry retched and then opened the envelope quickly, standing in the kitchen with mother standing behind me, a gruesome spectator. I moved to the window and leaned heavily on the windowsill, dizzy, gazing out at the white sky. I could hear my father and sister descending the staircase.

We all stood in the kitchen, my assembled nuclear family.
“Jock got a letter,” mother announced solemnly. It sounded like an indictment on my character, as I was somehow guilty. My father and sister remained silent, expectant yet at the same time knowing. I remained at the window, my family behind me, awaiting some kind of speech. I clutched the letter and could not face them. My face contorted in an insane tic and I barely managed to stifle an hysteric squeal. I heard the dog plodding down the stairs, arriving behind me with its paws clicking on the tiled floor and I imagined it swishing its tail with vague enthusiasm.

“It's an invitation,” I murmured. We sat in the living room with glasses of sparkling wine. I had diluted mine with orange juice as I was wont to do in those days. Mother was kindling the wood burning stove that had been installed in the old fireplace. My father and sister were checking their smartphones. Come to think of it, so was mother, with on hand tapping the screen, the other stoking the embers. Come to think of it, so was I, frantically searching for information on the Colony of Infinite Battery. We sipped our wine and checked our phones and outside the sky was still white, what a terrible blindingly overcast day in January it was.

I can't remember who suggested that my father accept the invitation on my behalf. Quite probably it was my mother. I suspect she uttered the suggestion and we remained silent for a moment. I suspect father then murmured his assent in his usual half-hearted, feckless manner. I suspect no eye-contact was offered during this exchange. Forgive me if it is difficult to recollect events which took place over 17 years ago.

It has been over 16 years since my father took up permanent residence on the Colony of Infinite Battery. He is, of course, presumed dead at this point. I still recall the day we accompanied him to the airport to see him off. He was dressed in jogging bottoms, worn out moccasins, a hi-visibility orange jacket and a sweater the same faded grey hue as the jogging bottoms. He took one paltry suitcase with a few meagre belongings – there were heavily monitored restrictions on the luggage one could bring to the colony. My skin felt like it was hiving over my bones as we bid him farewell with sad, stoic grins. He seemed flustered, quietly terrified even. His hair was growing out in thick curls and his beard was untrimmed.

The Colony of Infinite Battery is a barren, windswept island located somewhere in Scandanavia. The island is devoid of architecture apart from dozens of tall factory structures. These buildings represent offices which have been gutted and vandalised, looming structures which look like monuments to despair. These are used for refuge by the inhabitants of the island but they are of course frequently invaded by patrolling Battery Squads. Inhabitants vigilantly listen out for the sound of footfall echoing on the vertiginous spiral staircases which characterise the buildings.

In the years that followed my father's departure to the colony, my mother quickly succumbed to senile dementia whilst my sister's schizoaffective disorder symptoms have worsened considerably. I have been afflicted by recurring bouts of depression that render me lethargic and tearful for days on end. I had hoped that one day I might find a woman who would birth me a child and that that child might receive an invitation to the colony which I could accept on his behalf. The reasons for this are selfish more than anything, a desperately selfish need to alleviate my own deep-seated guilt.

Macaroni Despair

When Jonathan's mother called up the stairs to announce that the macaroni was ready, Jonathan replied that he didn't want any damn macaroni as the damned smell of paint had put him off eating. Jonathan's mother immediately affected shock at his use of colloquial language, somewhat predictably. Come and get your macaroni, she urged, employing the familiar tactic of re-issuing the original instruction, characteristic of her innate stubbornness.
Seven year old Jonathan trudged down the stairs, resigned to his fate of consuming the canned macaroni under these unfavourable conditions. Seated at the dining table were his grandfather and his aunt, his father was out at work. The macaroni was served with slizures of buttered toast, a peculiar sounding combination but most palatable let me assure you.
Hello old boy, his grandfather greeted him ornately. Hi, he whispered shyly. He was a timid boy with oversized lips, unruly curly hair, prone to blushing, biting his lip. Outbursts of raw emotion were typical, be they euphoric or borne of abject misery. His aunt regarded him with a beady fondness he found uncomfortable. He took his place at the table, a wistful expression overcoming his face that could be, and sometimes was, misinterpreted as a scowl. His mother was in the kitchen. His grandfather and aunt had both already eaten in their respective homes before coming out to visit. His aunt was sipping black coffee whilst his grandfather was attending to an iced bun and cup of tea, as he was wont to do.
He could hear the painter in the next room shifting the stepladder around to attend to different areas of the wall. Jonathan nibbled at his macaroni morosely, uncomfortably aware of the presence of his grandfather and aunt observing his every move. He gazed at a radiator on the opposite wall, looking down past his aunt's left arm.
Grandfather fell off his chair with loud abruptness, prompting Jonathan's mother to return from the kitchen to see what all the commotion was. Jonathan's aunt continued to grin in the same fixed way, seemingly not even flinching or otherwise betraying any signal that she had noticed the fall. Her insane fixed grin was suggestive of a comatose lunatic. Jonathan dashed to his mother's aid and, together, they hoisted the poor old blighter to his feet. He cackled ruefully and Jonathan noticed that the crotch of his [his grandfather's] trousers were damp with fresh urine. They set him down in the hardwood ladderback dining chair and Jonathan could sense the friction of the piss-damp trouser material rubbing against the faux leather seat pad. His aunt sipped her coffee. Even when her mouth was obscured by the mug, the same delirious grin was still evident in her eyes. Jonathan took his place at the table opposite her and lifted a fork to cooling macaroni. The quarter slizure of toast had gone cheese sauce-soggy. He asked his mother to bring him a glass of diluting juice, she obliged dutifully. His grandfather muttered non-sequiters to himself, as he was wont to do. His aunt continued to stare straight ahead, her insane grin seeming to intensify, her eyes misting with tears, her cheeks faintly flushed.
Jonathan's mother absented herself from this preposterous tableau, attending to various food preparation and cutlery cleaning tasks in the kitchen. Jonathan could hear the decorator in the dining room whistling to himself, breaking into snatches of song intermittently. Jonathan was tempted to sing along in some weird, misguided show of solidarity. He managed to resist the temptation, this is perhaps an inaccurate representation actually as his crippling self-consciousness would generally forbid such a wanton show of excessively [to his perception] extroverted behaviour.
A moment of silent contemplation occurred between all parties sat at the hardwood rectangular dining table, its length [the silence's] bordering on uncomfortable. Jonathan quietly yearned for his mother to return to the fray and begin yammering inanely; this would surely help put them all at ease.
An odour of urine was beginning to reach Jonathan, emanating from the general direction of his grandfather. The wetness arrives in conjunction with the fall, Jonathan thought to himself. He forced himself to eat cool macaroni and felt feelings of loathing course through him with an almost physical intensity. It was a good job his older cousins were not present; they were wont to make fun of his brooding disposition at times like these which, inevitably, made the situation worse in a vicious cause and effect cycle that stretched onwards indefinitely, perhaps towards imaginary horizons of final despair if one were to indulge the catastrophic thinking processes of a depressive, infinitely pessimistic seven year old lad, but one also given to experiencing surges of unexpected euphoria.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Haunted by Sudden Donation of Prawn Sandwich

A prawn sandwich
donation occurred

You have no idea.

I've been

to men who've consumed
extremely spicy meals

to their surprised gratitude.

As if
they expected
to be goaded or


The Gardens of Preposterously Exquisite Melancholy

The melancholy is too exquisite,
I can't stand it,
he shrieked.
I'll evaporate now,
he supposed.

He was mistaken.
There was still plenty of
mirthful dancing
to be performed in summer's
gardens of unfathomable sadness.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Crawl into the Traps that you set for yourself suggested the Father

Orange streetlamp light reflected in a rain puddle on an overcast morning (circa perhaps 10am).

Glum laddies and glum ladies piroutte with the utmost elegance, exhibiting an indelible faith in rainshowers. Most unfortunate.

Rodriguez crashing through unfathomable corridors, repeating his name. Emergencies in the blackness of night.

Exhibiting an hallucinogenic hologram of a psuedo-neighbour in various states of ire and confusion. Rapturous applause.

The symbolic father shifts its gaze downwards. Scenes of grey weather; shifting clouds accompanied by ominous synthesizer music.

Something is occurring.

Alan's Descent into the Sadness Garden was not without Precedent

When my lips become maroon perhaps my other limbs will stand a chance, the objective being erosion. The way things stand. Perhaps I have become prone. After all.

We feed on her majestic mist trails. Humbling confessions of weariness and ineptitude. Someone grins in our general direction, prophesying an ambiguous Edinburgh.

Slinking into sunsets. Feeding alien sunsets into historical simulations, the objective being to increase the probability of inaccuracy.

Wintry juice is maroon by default and my limbs are conveyed by horrific magnetic influences, as a matter of course.

"You actually wrote this pish?" he queries, incredulous, disdainful. "Aye," I murmur. My gestures, demeanor and tone of voice convey insurmountable lethargy.

(Fade out to overcast morning, ominous synthesizer tones).
Follow @dharma_ass