Monthly Archives: April 2016


In a dark sound-neutral room we

layer a drab impasto of everyday noise—

doors opening and closing,

footsteps up and down stairs,

dogs barking somewhere,

trains, distant traffic, sirens,

absent babies gurgling or crying,

absent teens characterised by what

thumping music leaks through a

ceiling—all to scumble the

over-clean Hi-Def images we have

slaved to create, far sharper than our

eyes or brains require, trying

desperately to re-impose the lost

messiness of real life.

Ordnance Survey

I get lost in the Ordnance Survey,

following a streamlet from fount to

ford to flow at sea; finding the

crossed-swords of battlefields; the

demi-moon of a fine view; the

churches—steepled, belfried or

unadorned; how long or steep a walk before the

welcome public house; how well those

ancient builders knew the land when they

sighted their chambered tombs, as

alive to lines of sight as those

Gunners to whom we owe all this

rich detail, this masterpiece of the

cartographer’s art.


And yet I still hanker to find some

white space, unlined because

undiscovered, unpeopled,

“Not Marked on the Ordnance Map”.

(The last line is a chapter heading from Jocelyn Brooke’s remarkable but little-read novel “The Image of a Drawn Sword”.)

Nameless Moon

The Moon has no June; has

never had a Harvest; knows nothing of

Honey; is neither Bitter nor

Blue; isn’t there to be

shot at, light Bombers’ paths or

illumine a Hunter’s prey;

doesn’t answer to Selene, Diana,

Astarte; cannot be Faithful or

Inconstant, even as it

slowly creeps away like a

grown child from a

demanding parent.


Usually so sociable, the

solitary starling sat on my

gutter, uttering such a

garble of click-clacks,

warbles, whistles, snatches of

songs maybe heard in the

murmuration, periodically

preening its

oily-looking feathers and

peering down at me, hoping

perhaps I too spoke its

unknowable language.

Bit Parts

“We need a good woman to help us with all this

tat, but she’d have to be Mistress Quickly!

Eh? Get it?” But Will just goes on

struggling with the endless buckles of

Ghost’s armour, listening as his

lines drain away towards our next cue, so

I get shot of Voltemand and

shrug on Player, which frankly the

last cunt could have washed! But

never mind, a slug of good ale

takes the smell away!


I make I can read the cue-card but

Will’s ready as 1st Player and

Bolonius getting a laugh puts a

smile on his face and then

we’re off!—sorry on!—treading on

nutshells into the noise and so many

words I thank the Almighty I have none—

I let Cornelius declaim our line before

Claudius, whilst I hung back and

mouthed, thinking of

mouthing that especial ale.


We play the play within the play—he’s

clever that way, Will, though you’d never

know it from his looks—like my

mother’s grocer—though he

plays the play’s play mighty well, him all

fardelled with royalty, me (after another

quick change and just a little sup) in a

bright red tunic with too many

bothersome buttons and a

burning desire for a piss

and no privy.


Me and the boy who was Player Queen see who can

piss highest up the outside wall during

Act Four, he who a moment ago in

full fig gave me such eyes I …well,

he went and I eyed the tavern and

there was time as they wouldn’t miss a mere

Sailor and I needed something before my

big moment—English Ambassador, come with

Fortinbras to view all the deaths with

fine retinue and trumpets and me with

tippets of fur like a priest!


“Roseycrutch and Gildenstem are dead!”

Was that right? Well no one noticed as I

teetered, my feet sticking in all that

pigs’ blood, wincing at the elbow to cue

“Where should we have our thanks?” which

Horatio needed to answer, and

blessedly soon “Exeunt marching, a

peal of ordnance shot off.” I stepped on

something round that squashed and gave a

scent unknown to my nose,

alchemical, mysterious.


After, someone told me it was a

norange—if I had but known

I would have kept it as a

keepsake, never having

seen one before.

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