Old Bones (true story)

 Richard Bones was strange man. On his 50th birthday he moved into a house previously abandoned by crack addicts and alcoholic tramps. He had a scrunched up den by the window with a white and blue striped mattress. And he made a pillow from a hessian sack stuffed with a collection of clothes raided from bins and from the back seats of buses as well. You would think (well, I imagine you would) his entire world was strewn around him on those rat-knawed floorboards, that the carrier bags and in pots was the limit of his fortunes, but you'd be wrong (perhaps you’ve been wrong before?); for in the high street he kept a fridge, yes it sounds vague and unlikely but really, I promise you, Old Bones had a fridge on the roof of the Natwest Bank, which he had somehow plugged into the attic of the next door chemist's. He refrigerated an array of food, including gallons of yogurt, which he stole from the health food shop on Connaught Road. ‘Yoghurt’ he said, to his falling roof beam, which he named ‘Rolf’, ‘Yogurt is the energy, yoghurt is protein, yoghurt is life’. Then he would laugh out loud to himself, a deep raucous laugh which slowed to a wheezy snigger. 

He was monkey, by that I mean, he was born in the year of the monkey, a fact which seemed to render him prone to sniggering at the slightest of things, especially that which contained mischief, or the petty inconveniences of other people. Nothing delighted him more than listening to a public argument, something along the lines of a couple out shopping on a Saturday morning arguing about time or the price of something. Etched on his mischievous brain was the quote: “I waited for you outside that bloody shop for nearly an hour. Now where the fxxx were you?” which he had gathered on a rainy Saturday in Camden town. 

When the chips were down he would replay it to himself until the wheezing laugh reduced him to a catatonic figure of enlightened serenity. Coupled with that was his ability to turn himself into the object of humour and spend several days in blissful amusement of himself, his tatty clothes, his aching arthritis, his elongated feet, his prayers, (which he said every night) his pet cat, who followed him everywhere, his rolled-up collection of comics and, in the deepest moments of his rigid jaw soul-stopping fed-upness, he would laugh at his very existence, his actually entity-ness. Once you reach that level of humour the laughter actually stops and you slip into a brief coma for five minutes or so. Locals often found Old Bones in that state on park benches or in the bus station waiting room, looking entirely frozen but with the most serene look on his face.

As the years gathered around him his periods of coma got longer and longer and more frequent as his entity-ness got funnier and funnier to him. The emergency services got tired of repeatedly being called to his aid. Doctors gave him a new drug designed to stop him from finding his entity-ness so funny. It didn’t work and one day the inevitable happened. Old Bones reached a point of such clarity about his existence, life, reality, the cosmos and All-That-Is, all of the usual distractions that prevent anyone from finding the whole thing so funny dissipated before him and he slipped into a coma from which he never returned. They now keep him alive on a machine in a secret London hospital. Yes, Richard Bones was a strange man.

When I Was Pigeon

When I was a pigeon I used to come into roost at aabout 3:30pm. I know it was 3:30pm because there are plenty of clocks in the sky, invisible, of course, to the human eye but as plain as day to bird life. Most of them are made by Seiko. Rolex used to have the contract but Seiko undercut them in the clock price wars of 1835. I am lying, of course....or am I? So where was I? Yes, I would come into roost mid afternoon after a casual day in the grain barns. Ash was my favourite tree. The tips are quite thin allowing for a more exciting sway in the breeze, and I also don't mind a thick yew tree around a graveyard where it's all dark and sinister, particularly in a cloudy twilight. Anyway, into roost I would come. The first task was to get comfortable and make sure no dangers lay around me, like a hapless teenager with an air-rifle or a cat in the tree, or even a ferret; for once a ferret made its way into a rabbit warren and unbeknown to me or him or anyone else the warren extended up through the tree trunk, a vast labyrinth of the elite of the rabbit world lay secretly within-Hell there were rabbits living in that tree!  Imagine the fright I had seeing a rabbit scuttling past me with a golden bloody-mouthed ferret hot on his tail. Anyway, I digress, again and again. Pigeons, they say in the bird world, digress, which is hardly the greatest crime. I mean, lapwings actually beat their children with looted workshop tools-spanners, screwdrivers and the like and Canada geese kidnap humans and experiment on them, so digression pales into harmless fun by comparison. So, anyway, I would get myself comfortable in the tree and then select a book from the shelf. Oh yes, sorry, again  invisible to the human eye, most trees have a book shelf about two-thirds up the trunk. Nobody knows who puts them there but let me tell you they stock some ripping good yarns. One book was entirely devoted to the life of a bank clerk who thought he used to be a pigeon and another was about a pigeon who thought he was a bank clerk. I even wrote one myself once- about a man who wrote an account of a man who thought he used to be a pigeon and then discovered when he got to the last line that he actually was a pigeon thinking that he used to be a man!!

Shane's Weird Day

As I shovelled away and she clung tightly to the branches I tried to remember my life as a translator. It was in a small town. I remember a willow tree and a carnival, then again was it in a grim quarter of European city? I remember a meeting with a landlord or was it an author? We sat in a pub. I remember the building- the window frames were berry-red and the room perfumes with the vague smell of saddles and oils, wet clumps of carborundum waste dotted a concrete floor, a river of petrol run a liberal course along one flagstone. My eyes zoomed in on the multi-coloured film on the top which displayed yellows and purples and greens and a turquoise. But wait this was in a factory in a different life, a different me, I think. Yet the yellow pulled me in. It snaked around and gathered momentum, then apparently rose up from out of the river. In the wet wheaty air of this mill or chicken factory or warehouse it rose higher and spread out in an exact form of a top-hatted man in 1940’s dapper attire. He announces himself as Mr Yellow. He grabs a cherry-red cane from out of the petrol slick and slides around like Fred Astaire, and in these squalid surrounds it’s all about elegance, one mustn’t surrender to the indignity of this wretched place, don’t you know. While Mr. Yellow taps around the pelleting machines I recall in a parade of still frames the origin of the building. A team of fun-loving kiwis erected it in such a breezy manner;   every day they turned up in that green minibus, hungover and wise-cracking. Young Shane had sights on a  life outside, putting up buildings with a rum old crew, oh the laughs, the comraderie. So  feeling all repleat with ambition, he  knocked in those rafters with… yes… some type of love, that easy  baseball cap sort of love. And on that dusty week the radio was crackling away with the repetitive news that there was a huge ash cloud spreading over the skies from a volcano in Iceland, so no flights, broken holiday dreams of stranded travellers . Shane whistled and banged and chipped and carved and laughed. This is it he thought with big wet eyes- there never was a big life awaiting him in New Zealand, Why doesn’t God, just roll his head down from the skies and say “Listen Buddy you’re wasting your time with this path. It will lead to a big fat nothing”  Instead what wasted hope, wasted conversations, wasted thoughts. Oh well, what’s done is done, gonna get a girl, rent a bungalow, maybe start a fencing business as well. He sang loudly and yawned even louder with long stretching arms, the skinny face nearly cracked wide open from the power of the yawn and he kept doing it, maybe every 5 minutes. Thing was nobody really noticed and what an irritation if they had have done, then Shane would be mainly his yawn. He wore a shiny silver watch which looked well out of place with brown weathered arms and what’s more he never ever looked at his watch. He always asked somebody else the time. And sometimes he would be talking to somebody and then his eyes would bulge in absolute terror, looking to the sky behind the other person, then shout: “Run, run, the ash cloud, the ash cloud! His victim would spin around fast, then Shane would yelp in laughter.
One day when he was het up with a heat rash while fencing on flat studland near Newmarket little red bubbles formed across his chest and forearms, like he was turning into another creature. The job was to add a new line of fence to a very old but stable one. With his baseball cap tight across his pin-head he set to work laying down posts and rails on the hard, dusty land, intermittently scratching himself. The sky greyed over and a thick cloud floated past him in the opposite direction to all the other clouds and he said to himself whatthehell, It must be, he said aloud in a dry winey voice, a clouded spaceship used by the elemental spirits of the earth ha ha ha, like it said in some comic. What the hell! He chuckled to himself like he always did when he was disturbed. It was as if he embraced these disturbances, like it was an excuse to really be as mad as the rabid dog that dragged him out of the pram when he was 3 months-old. He bustled on, coughing and nearly sneezing his loose eye out.
Two boys were throwing their knives at the old cornerpost, screaming with triumph or laughing at near misses and on the rough post top was an old jackdaw apparently captivated by the scene. The post was slightly tilted because a headstrong goat was tethered to it. The animated scene was completed with

'Yessir, that is the busiest post, I've ever seen'

As he got closer the boys fled through the thorny edge throwing their knives at sheep turd.

Close-up  one side of the post had a poorly engraved Tim 4 Sue and beneath  were the jagged scratches of knives and fencing nails.  Each side was a different shade from a continuum of grey to green to brown. He glared  A standard old post, so what? Why did it capture so much of his attention? The jackdaw  fluttered off to another post but stayed watching like a spy  Something felt weird about that post, not a good weird. The goat yanked at its tether eager to nibble on more of the short,bare gras and the post tilted slightly more. Shane glared more intently.

Peering closer and burrowing his vision into one of the splits in the top section he could see somthing move! Not a mouse or a little sparrow or some little creature but actually a blinking human eye! 'Well, isn't the that the fuckiest thing!' Hello, Hello! little eye! Hello!. He knocked on the post but the eye merely blinked and when he poked a nail at it through the split, it seemed to have read his mind and darted marginally away.   Fuck this! He dismissed the event as being an halluciation, perhaps related to the rash. He carried on.

By coffee-time he had scratched himself silly but  five posts had been sledge hammered into the hard ground . He sloped wearily off to the open plan barn to douse his fiery rash with cold tap water. Inside the barn was the expected array of dusty farmalia -tractors, trailers, mowers, fertilizer bags, shovels and a broken broom or two. He splashed water on his chest . Momentarily, utter relief prevailed; the heat of the rash died down and his body tingled with refreshed vigour. But ten seconds later the itching was even worse as if murderous little ants were nibbling their way into his flesh His head scanned the barn. Everything seemed in order, and yet...and yet something was odd. Then he saw something. In one of the breeze blocks, set back in a hole was another blinking eye and  he knew instinctively it was the pair to the other one... fine blue eyes with several marine shades. What the hell is going on! He forgot his scratching which had now drawing blood and swooped his wiry body towards the eye-inhabited breeze block and like a shy kitten the eye was gone.

As the day progressed he saw in the ancient oak by his pick-up truck a roman nose; in the blackthorn hedge he saw a pair of full lips; he saw the dimple-less chin in the water trough and the rest of the face in now-you-see-me-now-you-don't fragments around the farmyard. Bring it on! he shouted to the grey heavens above  while scratching his arms and spinning his baseball cap around.
The eyes and features turned out to be mine. Funny how things pan out, eh?

Have you ever...? (Part 2)

stolen a flea?
bought a wall?
lost a plate?
surprised a peach?
wrapped a cucumber in silk?
mimicked a road??
accused a barn of loitering?
pretended the week had arranged you in 7 equal parts?
hummed your lips off?
fallen in and out of love with a cinnabar moth?
found a walrus?
been fed up with a meadow?

No!!!


Have you ever..? (Part 1)

wept in a tree?
laughed in a shed?
waltzed in a canyon?
slept in a wheelbarrow?
sneezed in a box?
sniggered in the pouring rain?
ate cheese-on-toast in an interview?
spanked a field,
smelt of a tower?
shouted in Swahili?
chewed a magnolia leaf?
ran away from a windblown carrier bag?
hugged a chimney?
licked a radiator?
flicked a mango?
caressed a manhole cover?
spied on a cow?
sniffed a football?
envied a carpet?
mocked a shelf?
washed a cliff?
sounded like a waterfall?
returned a favour to a hedgehog?
sung a lullaby to a lorry?
ceremoniously liberated a pen from its pencil case incarceration?
moved a sheep to tears?

No!!!

Alfresco Joy

The shiny brown of  ant in a line across the path, shards of fallen bark on bleached concrete, the virtual sound of rust on a spade blade, a wheezing pigeon flying off its fat, a warped gutter peeling away from the house, old walls- their crumble forming piles of sand  which blow into your eyes, the watery feel of grass blades, a blackened frog carcass, an unexpected goat, spitting wet logs on a bonfire which you started with an abandoned bird's nest, a hat thrown to the wind, the candle blossom of pink horsechestnuts, rear-wheel bicycle skids on a farm lane, gravel encrusted in your knee, sucking honeysuckle petals, airborne cinders from far off field fires, the noble stench of stagnant ponds, bright skin, bright eyes, hands reaching into a blue sky.

Alfresco Smugness

Eating an Italian fish dish on the patio, filling in a crossword clue postioned on a deck-chair, cutting an apple and placing apple chunck in the mouth using the knife and thumb, licking your finger to test the direction of the wind, a picnic with tartan blanket, new multi-featured walking boots, map-reading, compasses, topiary, a bat box, identifying bird calls, correctly pitching a tent, mowing the lawn in two directions, a bonfire in a bin, duffel coats, binoculars, a sun dial, spot-check weeding, knowing unmarked footpaths, deeply inhaling 'fresh, country air'........

An Overme

My body is on the bed and the usual furnishings and carpet and windows are in place. It is the dark of the night. I check around the room. Everything is in its place. Everything smells and hums and vibes the same yet....in the hypersensitive scanners of my knowing I perceive that something of the funadamental structure of this experience of the room and me is different. I check again. Yes, everything is where it should be. My body is on the bed. The furniture is the same and the carpet and the windows are of the same design and postioned in the same places as when I went to bed. It is definitely the room I went to sleep in and although time has trickled along through the night everything remains the same. Even these thoughts are flavoured with the same recipe of me that I have  applied moment-to-moment since I became aware of my existence.  I check again. The furniture is the same and the carpet and the windows are of the same design and positioned as they were when I went to bed. Something is warmly, sumptously, frighteningly and serenely different. what can it be? I taste the same flavours of my thoughts. I smell the same scent of my essence. I hear my soul. It is  the same me  that I knew before my sleep. Yet something is different. I check again. My body is on the bed. The furniture is the same and the carpet and the windows are of the same design and positioned as they were when I went to bed. Yes, everything is postioned the same and it is the same room. I check again and then the screech of an owl outside breaks my attention. Then the town clock chimes and suddenly it is clear to me that the change is identifiable; for in the screech of the owl and the chime of the clock I was not the body on the bed, nor was I the furniture in the room, nor the windows, nor the carpet, that somehow, during the depth of my sleep I have gained the capacity to be the very objects to which my attention attaches itself. For a split-second I am the carpet and then the wool of the carpet and even a prominent strand of the carpet. Upon reflection, I was not the owl exactly but I was the screech of the owl. I was not the clock but I was the chime of it. I am not even the body on the bed, rather I am, whenever I momentarily regard it, the experience of the body. I am also the darkeness and the night. Even the recipe of me that I have  applied moment-to moment since I became aware of my existence is but an experience somehow being had by an Overme. I check again and find it is all true again and again and again and in the full particle-jangling realisation of all this I explode into a million glittering stars.

The Best Way To Start The Day

The best way to start the day is to yawn until you dislocate your jaw, creep out from under the duvet like a panther waiting to pounce and then actually pounce on your pre-selected clothes, grip them in your mouth and toss your head around as if  to shake them to death. Once dressed flap your arms quickly and loudly like a pigeon and, as best you can, fly into the kitchen singing  Queen's Don't Stop Me Now . Feel free to do the splits as you open the fridge door then peer in the fridge and say a big booming "Hello, Food!. Double-somersault to the the cupboard, pull down the porridge box and perform a mini exorcism on the breakfast bowl by resting your hands on the rim saying 'Leave this house, Demon!' . While you stir the porridge pretend you are being watched by somebody intent on finding the secret ingredients of your famous porridge, shift from side to side to cover up your work. Compliment this with a violent shifting of your eyes. Enjoy your porridge sitting cross-legged on the table like a little elf. Next  it's shower time. Run to the shower; keep looking behind you as if you are being chased, then act all casual as if you just happen to be running to the bathroom anyway. Have a brief look in the mirror just to check that you are still there. As soon as you see you reflection shout: "Oh my God! What am I becoming?" Blow yourself a kiss and then slowly move into the shower with the most exagerrated sense of poingnacy that you can muster. The rest is up to you....

Mr.Outsider's Job Interview

'Since we can both read each other's auras, let's not waste each other’s time with petty lies, Mr. Outsider. This is a shit job. It will not lead you anywhere that your heart really wants to go. It will start off being a novelty.  I mean, you'll have the perverse sense, however unlikely it may sound to the deeper parts of you, that the job, far from being a relentless hell-fest is actually enjoyable, even perfect, ideal; the job you have always wanted. It will have the magic of being the thing that saves you, that lifts you out of the mire of pitiful unemployment and beckons you warmly in from the lonely acres you tread. So you will idolize it and tell everyone that you love it. You’ll even highlight some of the more sordid elements and present them as being charming, like the quaintness of the dirty mess room or the peasanty warmth your toothless colleagues. Week four will arrive and the first notion of tedium will creep into your   mind. You will shrug it off and pretend it is a fleeting imposter but week five will see the arrival of more such notions and week six too. These will build and build until there is a big tangled up ball of self-loathing, frustration, despair and hopelessness with which you are all too familiar. Each day will grate on you a little harder as you withdraw into yourself more and more; colleagues you thought you might fuse with (but deep down knew you never could) will become stranger than ever. You will refrain from interacting with them while you embark on a solitary journey into the most disturbing nooks of your mind. The sound of your own thoughts  rattling around your brain, the sheer weight and intensity of loneliness will expel what little energy you have left. It will then dawn on you that the job bears little resemblance to the advert nor to the lies I intend to tell you about it. Then you will craft your escape. It's execution will involve hapless visits to the job centre in the stolen moments of the lunch half hour to scan the job sections of newpapers in shops (which will attract the disapproval of customers who actually buy the paper); phone numbers written on your hand, odd phone conversations with people who know nothing about such a vacancy. Then, after a few more painful weeks, you will quit your job. You will feed me a pack  bogus reasons for your departure and then return to another spell of unemployment while you figure out, once again, who you are and what you are supposed to do in this lonely, rotten old world. Ok? So does that sound like the sort of position you are looking for?'

'Yes, absolutely ideal!'

'Great, can you start on Monday?

Hurrying To Be A Coot

Today I will be a coot, so named in my diary The Day of Coot. On the warm bank of a forgotten the river I perch my eager body. First, I drip a tree syrup over my naked limbs, smearing it around with a clump of sheep wool I harvested from a barbed wire fence on my hurried walk there. I pause for a while admiring the way my body glistens in the late spring light and how the river glistens and ripples in unison. Then I carefully separate the feathers and one-by-one attach them to my body, taking great care to keep them in a uniform direction. I have a prefabricated set of wings, which I made with a structure of goat’s bones and a jet black sheet of nylon. For my beak I use a whittled down rabbit skull (covered in Tipex) which slots very neatly onto my nose and chin. Then slowly , slowly I immerse myself in the chilly water, my feet squelch in the gritty river floor and after a few baby steps I tuck in my wings and glide downsteam. 

Slightly Less Human

I have a feeling, a just-under-the-veneer feeling and as I walk past the grave yard and leer at the thick boughs of the ancient yew everything is a little less vivid than normal. Something of the precise blend of clouds, blue sky and full blossoming crowns of the trees all around me remind me of a particlualr unreality. It is the image of an old Constable print- the sky was thick with cloud but over time the clouds had become yellowish. I witness similiar phenomena in old TV images from the 50s, something in the quality of the film making everything slightly unreal, as though I was viewing an alternative reality where everything had minor adjustments- coffee smelt slightly sour, freshly-baked bread smelt of warm cream and car engines rumbling past had a deeper, bassy tone. The graveyard has freshly-cut grass but rather than being sweet and syrup-scented it is a richer, earthy smell; The tiniest ray of sun strikes the tree bark, not a melting amber colour, more a green gold and in reflection of who I am, what I feel myself to be, I have apparently made a slight shift towards being humanesque rather than human.

Lucky

It started one night in my lab in the cellar. I took relevant scrapings from the remaining quarter of the melon leftover from dinner. To this I added the cells of a donkey and a snail. Over time I changed the temperature and positioning of the mixture and waited for a suitable donor to come along. I didn't have to wait too long; for on the tuesday of the second week a deer managed to crash into the perimeter fence. It was badly grazed and one leg was dislocated. I nursed it slowly back to health using some painkillers and some tinctures of herbs from the old country. When it could walk again we began our experiment. Under the hard belly flesh we injected the mixture, just a small amount. 'Lucky' walked as usual for a few months in the back paddock. She was fed on high protein mixtures and enjoyed the lush spring grass. By June the changes in her body were unmistakable. She had the skin of a melon, the head of a snail and the legs of a dear. Inspired by our success we started to inject more material. Like pioneers drunk on our discovery we stopped at nothing. Jerry added a bison, a strawberry, a sunflower and a coral reef. Diane added a bottle-nose dolphin, a sweet potato and a stick insect. I upped the stakes by using a quantum process whereby I could merely visualize my add-ons and so cause them to manifest. This enabled my inclusion of a battleship, a volcanic mountain, most of Australia and vast tracts of Saturn. By the end of the year, fuelled by our youthful excitement and relentless improvements, Lucky became a whole new reality, which we unveiled at an intergalactic science convention. Ahh happy days!