Category Archives: Media

Old Dogs Still Have Teeth

Do you see us as

dogs learning new tricks,

desperate to please

new masters?

Was your new world

designed to exclude the

grey-haired masters and

mistresses of

old-world thought, those who

solved a problem before you could

develop an algorithm?


Your biggest mistake?

Making it too easy for us

old, clever folk, so we

slip into the booth

beside you and smile and you

can’t escape.

Desdemona in the Playground

Portia just farted and is

red-faced but to be fair our

Director put us through a

hard workout as he sees

“Othello” in a school playground with

Othello as the immigrant kid.


Does that mean we are all

child brides? “Let’s move on”.

So I am hanging upside-down on the

monkey-bars, my skirt over my face,

showing my knickers to Iago and

God knows who else.


He takes me aside after the rehearsal:

“Your hair…” “Oh do you want it

up or down? Top knot or perhaps a

ponytail?” “No!” he whispers, “No,

down there!” Oh, so

I am to be a child again?


Not a woman,

not an actress,

not a person but

just a doll with

no genitalia in the

theatre of ideas?


The Producer wanted blood and

the writer added a bandage but I

persuaded them that a simple

plaster plucked from rawness

better revealed the inner pain

like a paper-cut

like a poem.


Because the people who

think they know will

always prevail, we who

do know approach the

shoot with faint faith and

little hope, determined to

do our best whilst

praying for the dubious

charity of our audience.


My business has many ways to express scorn:

the Lighting Cameraman who couldn’t

light a box of matches; the

Director who couldn’t

direct traffic; the

Producer who couldn’t

produce his prick from his trousers.


But you have refined scorn to a

simple glance.

Missing in the Multiverse

We are multipresent in the multiverse,

always online, available as

avatar or bare-faced,

named or anonymed, at the

press of a key or a button

emailed, messaged, skyped, blogged to

so many it’s hard to know who you have

missed, why they might be

missing, whether you will be missed when

you go missing.

The Band Room, Pinewood

In the shadow of the gargantuan stages,

I worked in one of those

fathomless spaces which seem to

sum up time and

seam it in its walls: where

big bands rehearsed for

big musicals; dancers

warmed up at now-rusty barres;

where the mechanics of my business exhausted

enthusiasm, energy, blood; where

despair sometimes stuck you to its

sweat-stained, tight-beamed floor; where

once an unknown man

hung himself from one of its

high substantial stanchions;

where now is the home of the

nostalgia of Science Fiction; where

sturdy security guards shiver on their

late rounds when the

memories drift down

like dust.


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.

Fear Not

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 mind
wrenched back to work,
away from my own and
only natural fears.


I leant against the wall and

watched them come and go, mostly

female and shedding their clothes to

pose for Sir, but sometimes

well-dressed men who

peered at me with what I took for

disdain—well, I was there a long time and it was

peaceful and dull.



I don’t remember which

particular shop-girl she was,

bought for a few sous to

strip and pose for paintbrush and

prick, but when Sir propped her,

finished, opposite me, I couldn’t help but notice her

whey-faced beauty, her

half-starved innocence—had that

survived the session? Well, pure or

sullied she startled me and

something stirred within the

tightness of my veneer.



I watched the dust settle slowly on her,

softening her pallor but

sharpening my love, the way He’d

caught her between fear and desire, her hands

undecided whether to cover or

proffer her well-thatched sex or the

apple-bosoms that no longer

need fear gravity, and that

long auburn hair which caressed her

boy’s bottom and begged to be wound round a

calloused male fist.



Sir didn’t come for a long time, then

rough men threw a

rough sheet over me, and

darkness so profound I ended up finding

colours in it, and pictures, most of them

of her.



When light startled me, I was in a library

above a fireplace, with nothing but the

spines of books to gaze on and no sound except the

insects eating the books word by word; a gaunt man, a

leaden lady who spoke a language I

didn’t understand; two servants who

fucked violently; the eructations of

explosions with their tiny sifts of dust;

distant cheering; a party with

people in uniform who seemed ecstatic though

not inclined to include me

stuck up in the shadows.



A long silence: the house seemed

shut up. Sometimes I saw her face in the patterns

dust makes as it floats through light.



Then a man on a ladder, his face in

my face, speaking my language, “Oui,

c’est lui”, but I didn’t know him, didn’t

want to, but he knew me. How?



Men brought me down,

hooded me again, the

sickening sense of unseen motion.



Strange spiral, vertiginous, but with one

outrageous blessing, that she was there and that

for once she was looking me in the eye and she

was happy to see me, I think, I

hope, unlike in those long days in that

dusty studio when all she could look at was her

lost innocence.

Temperature's Rising

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