Fear Not

Filming funerals in Hendon, London, sitting in the cold Crematorium chapel, reading the memorials whilst waiting for things to begin. I have not made this up.

Fridayam's Blog

We worked three days amongst the dead,
who weren’t bothered by our
bubble of busy-ness in their
acres of ash, bones, stones:
not the Chinese, sober slabs
slashed with gold logograms; nor the
Italians, severe in studio photographs,
enamelled, impervious; nor the
Hindus, bedecked with flags, beneath their
special shrines, artlessly recreated;
nor the nexus of North Londoners in
whose bosom they repose.

Sullenly swallowing delay, my eye
caught a simple plaque:
‘F.E.ARNOT’. Were his parents
sending him a message? Did he
heed it? Use it as his motto when
dealing with work, wine, women?
He doesn’t sound much loved,
memorialised sans given names,
respected at a distance, like a
Headmaster or a stern father, but
was he, at the last, able to say
“I fear not”?

Checks are called: we are
poised to shoot; Make-up
tweaks hair, powders sheen;
Costume collects enough
cover-coats to equip an
Arctic expedition; my…

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The Doll of Her Future

Fridayam's Blog

She dressed the doll of her future in finery, in

shreds of shared destinies torn and

tattered only by time not

happenstance, nor by the

drudge of laundry, not

mouthed by moths but

lovingly conserved in the

museum of her past.

(With thanks to D.M.)

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Early Music VII

Fridayam's Blog

François Couperin “Les Lis Naissans” (Treizième Ordre)


I see them first in church

from my eyrie when I

have no need to play,

buds blooming with no thorns

sitting quietly by their

blown Mothers, waiting their turn.


I see them next at Court

saddled and bridled, ready to be

ridden hard, their small hands

clutching mechanically at

anything that’s offered

except the reins.


I see them most at

Pompes Funêbres,

burying babies, each one a

new furrow in the

badly ploughed field of a

once-pleasant meadow.


I see them last in church

followed by the buds that

bested Winter to be

measured for bridles on this

altar bestrewn with



Me? I just play to numb whilst I

make music in my mind that

hymns wasted hymens, sad Mothers

leading daughters to slaughter, hoping that

somewhere beauty and the heart

are aligned.

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The Parliament of Birds

Fridayam's Blog

Caw, caw—I hear you,
Clawing through the frosty sky,
pale blue above this eastern suburb.

Rooks and crows mark the migrations
and the first cold tinkerings
of their welcomed Winter.

The rivers here will not freeze
nor will we grow too cold in our homes,
cocooned in central heating, battened in duvets.

But the gospel oak is riven and the birds
chant requiems over the city in which
we sought to shut out fear.

They fly eastwards to Essex,
old witch country, commutered now,
but still too dark at night.

On the wing over Epping, circling
the storied Parliament of Birds,
they lobby coldly, exchanging iniquities.

If you walk too near there in session
Black Rod, white lie, magpie appears
to test you on your knowledge or your fears:

“Shoo, shoo, I’m not scared of you” you say,
or with more care than courage
“Hello, Sir, where’s Madam?”

About you…

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Heff in Epping

Fridayam's Blog

No one much likes Heff but

fuck me can he fix a car! We

left him with that

shunted Lexus? Christ,

good as new next day!

Hot as fuck in the workshop,

had to open all the windows and

doors through which

Madam appeared in full fig—

shit, how did that stunner

marry my fucking mechanic?

I bet he could get disability benefit, the

shape he’s in, and she’s

six foot tall, built to fuck,

tits like melons just

begging to be held while you

rut her from behind—OK,

guilty, I’ve had her, not

proud but—what a fuck!


Heff’s buried in a bonnet but

her eyes are elsewhere—“Trevor?”

–black guy, big, say no more—

“there’s a rattle in my Beamer,

could you take a look?” And he’s gone

like a rat up a drainpipe as I

watch her arse swing away,

dreaming of what I would do to it,

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Fridayam's Blog

Age doesn’t matter:

there’s still a playground

with dangerous corners where

girls flirt their souls out then

run away, and boys

want to boss or be bossed,

run the Alley-Alley-O or

score all the goals while

the clouds darken and the air is

suddenly sharp with

Chinese Whispers and

Chinese Burns.

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Fine Rain

Fridayam's Blog

I stood in the lee of the house watching

fine rain so soft it felt like

your hair as it sometime swept

my face as you rode me like a

Queen riding into battle

face set on little death and

glory and my groin flooded and

reeking of your efflorescence–

all the perfumes of the world thrown together in

one perfect jar

overflowing and unstoppered

showering me like fine rain barely felt in the

lee of a house.

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Circular Breathing

Fridayam's Blog

Where did our air come from when we

kissed so much but from each other’s

lungs, each nose compressed against the other’s

cheek, tongues blocking breath, and yet we

fed each other recycled air full of

hormones and pheromones and the instinctive

pleasure of saliva.

We were like jazz musicians, our mouths

stuffed with instruments, blowing and

sucking and singing in the heart’s

sublime chorale,

but still, I don’t

remember breathing.

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Early Music III

Fridayam's Blog

Musick for the Funerall Of Queen Mary (1695)

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

“A dead Queen is a terrible thing”,

Master Purcell said as I tugged at the

high starched collar tickling my neck,

“so I’ve written some terrible music to send her off!”

We all laughed and it helped:

we were but boys and that

glimpse we had of Her, shuffling past, was frightening

—fat and waxy and … dead.

He must have loved her to write so, I think.

I practiced hard not to catch my throat in “Suffer us not”

for it made me want to cry and it was anyway

excellent hard to sing.

Died in December, buried in March:

heaps of flowers helped, and the

Abbey was cold and

cold captures smells wondrously.

I’m old now, forty and counting, and I’m

tired of funerals, tired of death,

but one memory makes me shiver still:

Queen Mary’s corpse…

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Red Sex

Fridayam's Blog

There’s no need to blush when

we turn the mattress darling, for

how much blood has your body spent

in all our years together?

How many nights have you pressed your

aching belly against my back?

Truly live with a woman and

you will know blood,

that leak that bespeaks the fertility that twice

turned me inside out and right way up.

So don’t blush at a love which is

more than mattress-deep.

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