Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nineteen Eighty Floor

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Detail from "Friday 23rd March 2007"

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For Sue Fraser

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sister Emptiness

A short story

Randle was a laptop computer. Randle was formerly owned by a banker in London who took him for cosy trips to the coast at weekends with his cosy little wife. To be honest, Randle found him a bit dull. He was one of those types who defines himself by his steady job and steady relationship when neither one of them is really enough to outline much of a personality. Randle’s life changed one day when he was left on the counter and twocked in a branch of Starbucks in Hammersmith by a couple of youths in puffy jackets who used him to record freestyle rap and took a turn again when he was sold on to a branch of Cash Converters for an hundred quid, probably to buy drugs during a fallow stretch.

His next owner was a manic depressive writer, a petty man, unloved and unlovely, who had come to the city to get away from the nausea and alienation he felt filling the void in his life. He was working on a novel about it, thumbing his glasses nervously while discoursing at length about the terrible contingency of his existence which the laptop got to hear all about as he was taking the man’s notes. Randle had little time for him and took to harassing him good-naturedly, treating every task as though it were a terrible chore working for such a person, for example taking half an hour to load up a simple word program like a machine ten years behind him could have run. He may have played games, but it was hard to hold much respect for someone so quiet. The man was either weird or lonely. This was a man such as wanted nothing and wanted nothing to accept him, such was the nausea inspired in him by the outer world, which was perhaps what lead him to eventually give up the laptop in pursuit a simpler, more ascetic life, to a charity shop in Manchester where a tattooed former drug addict turned rambling born-again Christian accepted him and gave him his life story: ‘It’s cracking up this end of town. You’re lucky, you are – you never wanted for ought. I come from the wrong side of the tracks, me. I lived homeless. That’s why I want to make money to help people, get them something good to eat. It’s horrible, eating baked beans in the shelter, smelling, not being able to wash – ‘sounds like being a student,’ interjected Randle. ‘Sometimes we get these university types in here and they don’t even know how to put the kettle on, man. There’s knowledge, and then there’s wisdom. God’s the only one who will never lie to you. I come from the wrong side of the tracks. My brother should have gone to university, but he never had the opportunity. I was one of seven brothers and sisters.’

‘Seven brothers and sisters?’ said Randle, raising an eyebrow. ‘That must have made things difficult.’

‘I know my parents had favourites, but d’ya know what? God loves us all equally.

‘A few years ago I had a breakdown. I was doing drugs, chemicals, taking cocaine, smoking lots of you-know-what, sleeping with lots of women. I did some bad things, which I won’t tell you... if someone asks you if you want to go to church or go to the football match you’re going to go to your football match, aren’t you? It’s a sad fact most people are just out for themselves, but Jesus says don’t do things for yourself, do it for the glory of God. Jesus said I am the way and the truth and the light. What’s the opposite of the way? The wrong way. You know? You understand me, I can tell. You know ‘receptive’? Receptive, you are. You know birds? (he said ‘you know’ a lot, this man) Birds are flying over our heads all the time, and we can’t stop them, can we? But we don’t let them land on our heads, do we? Just like bad thoughts might come into our minds, but we can’t let them stay there.’

Randle respected the charity shop manager’s convictions, he really did. Getting religion really seemed to have helped him. He sat there and listened in silence. How could something that could so obviously help people ever be so wrong? He knew he would never be able to believe in it himself, though. He was an atheist. Being a computer, he was into the whole rationalism thing. ‘Why shouldn’t I go out and interface with lots of young women?’ he thought to himself, indignantly. That was before he met that sweet little Macintosh and got his heart broken. He just couldn’t communicate with her. She made some unkind remarks about his software. That was when Randle first felt it deep in his soul, those icy cold fingers of Sister Emptiness. He had the premonition then that in love he’d ever be unlucky, doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again, but that’s a different story.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

For R. A. Roberts

Kate Triptych

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A few observations on north versus south

Outside the house in the back yard there were still the remains of two outdoor toilets. Plastic wrappers and other pieces of litter thronged the ground. Though it was cold there was a bench and a barbeque as though in expectation of sunnier days. Occasionally stray cats and junkies would make exploratory ventures into the yard at night.

Fencefive liked the north. He felt it easier to be himself, as though being yourself were somehow more acceptable here - and if you were not quite right, damn the consequences. The rows of terraces were somehow more communal than the decadent southern semi, two-up two down, but the ceilings were high and there was room to dream, not like the mean little rooms that he’d lived in in Kent, where everything was packed in, not as though it had been dropped down there by some untidy God but as though it had been designed to achieve an effect like a bizarre game of Tetris. And when everything were ultimately so clustered as to make it impossible for anyone to move, then would it disappear?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Imagine my shock at seeing this in the paper

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