Wednesday, 29 April 2015

V is for Vanishing Spray










I'm a big fan of football. It started out out in 1981 when me and my Dad had a 50p bet over the F A  Cup Final between Man City and Tottenham. Before that I used to carry my Manchester United bag to school and back but I didn't really understand football at all. But that 1981 cup final changed my whole life. It went to a replay and I lost the best. Tottenham won and I was gutted but I couldn't sleep at all that night. I was too excited. I was kicking footballs around in my head.



But football has moved on a lot since then and I hate Manchester City now but love football more than ever. Even though in many ways the beautiful game is going downhill. I am sick of watching English football teams full of foreign players. Don't get me wrong, some of them are fantastic but I want to see our own young players playing for our top teams. And I'm also sick of seeing footballers rolling around like pansies every time somebody taps them on the shoulder. The game has changed but not always for the better.



And now we have goal line technology and hopefully soon we will have more technology introduced. But the best things are the simplest things. We now have vanishing spray. A new innovation so that referees can mark out the correct distance for the opposite team to stand when a team is given a free kick. It's been a wonderful but simple addition to our game.




But it got me to thinking. What would you do if you had a vanishing spray? What if you could disappear for a while?





I'm sure there would be lots of amazing uses. Would you nip into your local shop for a free loaf of bread or would you help yourself to the contents of the till? It would be incredible. It would probably be the best superpower ever. Invisibility, but just for little while. You could slip through the turnstiles of your favourite football team without being noticed or you could take as many free bus journeys as you wanted to.


I'm sure there are many seedier uses of a human vanishing spray. But where would you go? What would you do with it? Would you use it for the benefit of mankind or would you sneak into the nearest and most convenient women's changing room?




Would you be good or bad with your very own can of vanishing spray?







If I had a can of vanishing spray there are lot's of things I would do. I would watch Manchester United every week (I'd have the best seat in the house) and I'm sure I would help myself to a few free pints of lager and some nobbies nuts when nobody was watching.



I'd definitely be a little naughtier that I am now. Would you?

U is for Useless




Do you feel useless?




I do a lot of the time. I don't have many special talents or skills. I guess writing is the only thing I'm any good at but I don't know if I'll ever be good enough to sell any of my work.




Apart from that I don't know what I'm particularly good at.


I can't dance, I can't sing. My singing is so bad my electric shower needs an autotune attachment. I can dad-dance of course but that's as far as it goes for busting a move. I have always had this fear of dancing in public. I have more chance of busting a blood vessel than busting a dance move. I think it's hereditory. I come from a long line of bar stool foot tappers. If anybody was giving out prizes for that one I may stand a chance.


But I think I have this fear of doing anything in public. Leave me in a room of my own for a year and I will happily do anything but add a few people and I tend to lose all use of my legs and my arms and any other body parts that are needed. In a room of my own I can have a go at anything. But sadly we don't walk around with our own room attachments. If we did I'd be a lot more successful as a human being.


I think that's my real problem. People. There's just too many of you bastards out there.





Anyway back to what I'm not good good at.




DIY. I am particularly useless at anything connected to DIY. I just don't think my brain is wired correctly when it comes to anything that involves a saw or a plug or a plank of wood or a hammer. I am particularly useless as operating a drill. If you ever see me holding a drill, be scared. Be really scared. I think it boils down to the fact that I'm not very Blokey. I've never understood the fascination with blokey things like cars or chainsaws or fart jokes. Maybe I'm a woman in a man's body in many ways. That's a scary thought. I'm not even really a tit man. God help me. If somebody gave me a screwfix catalogue you may as well give me a Vauxhall Astra maintenance handbook written in Latin.



So what am I good at? I'm okay at writing up to a point and I car drive a car without crashing it into the nearest lamp post. And I guess I'm a good listener and I can juggle with four balls. But I guess we are all useless at some things and okay at a few things. Maybe the trick is to stop thinking about the things you can't do.


I'm sure I am good at more things than I give myself credit for. So what are you good at?













Monday, 27 April 2015

T is for Thank You






I'd just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to some very special people. Saying thank you is cathartic don't you think?




When me and my wife first started out we lived on a council estate in an area of Wigan called Worsley Mesnes. Now Worsley Mesnes has always had a stigma attached to it like most council estates probably do. But that's not always fair, there are lots of wonderful people who live in council estates, it's just the odd few morons that give them a bad name. But I'd like to give a big shout out to some of the people that helped me when I lived there.



I met so many helpful people. I always remember the amazing scrap metal guys that lived in that area and how helpful they could be at all hours of the day and night. They would do anything for you. They don't limit themselves to removing old refrigerators and washing machines they even took our family car a couple of times. And both of those times were in the middle of the night. That's pretty dedicated. I mean I didn't even ask them they just came and took it away for me. The second time it happened they even left it in a field for me and redesigned the wing mirrors and took all the CD's that were always getting in the way. So a big thanks to them.



There were also a lot of artists in Worsley Mesnes. Often they would come along and write urban poetry on our walls and a few times they added special features to our windows for free.  I especially liked their cracked cobweb design that they did for our kitchen window. All for nothing as well. I can't thank them enough really. Where we live now we get none of that. My car sits on the side of the road and no bastard will take it for a night-time spin and not once has anybody even bothered to dent the body work for me. Lazy bastards around here.





Finally I'd like to thank all the guys at school that used to give me cool nicknames. I particularly loved being called Gay Lord and Snap and Puff. I was so lucky to have been given such cool names when most of the kids were just known by their surnames. They made me feel special. I also remember all the times they used to help me to look mean and moody. Looking mean and moody was important in that school, so a few bruises and plenty of black eyes really helped and it set me in good stead. So thanks.






Thanks a fucking bunch.



Saturday, 25 April 2015

S is for Smell










Noah is dead.




I want to fold myself up like a napkin until I can deal with this.



The dove is selfish and hasn't come back. She has thrown all the words into the sea and they have drifted to the bottom. Unlike me they don't have to hold their breath but are now useless and soggy and all the letters have been merged into a squiggle. It's just me and the animals now and I haven't got a clue how to steer this thing. I don't know how it happened. Maybe I left the book closed for too long and he died of starvation or some tropical dream disease. The animals are fine but they know what has happened and are in mourning. They haven't folded themselves up like me. But they didn't love Noah like I did. He was my life.


I think this boat is going to sink. I remember learning about a boat called the Titanic that sunk killing many people. I cannot remember how I learned it. It could have been in helmet or in the watching zone. We learn about lots of things without knowing we are learning them. It's how things work. But I know lots of people died and there weren't enough life boats. I think I am going to need a life boat for me and all the animals. We'll have tom leave Noah behind or I may have to throw him overboard because I can't leave him on board. He will start to smell and I don't want to remember him as a bad smell. maybe when I wake up he will disappear from this book, this dream, whatever it is.









Part of my WIP written for the A to Z challenge

R is for Remembrance










I know now what the crackle gave me. The gift of remembrance. I remember yesterday. Exposure day. And nobody else does.


We talked and we walked and we shared our gifts. I told them about the reapers and Bag told us that she could see everything ten seconds before it happens. I wonder if she saw it coming. Her exit. her disappearance. Being chosen.





Everything was back to normal. Everything except Bag. She was gone and Rosh didn't even know who she was. I don't think anybody knows who she is. She's been erased. All memory of exposure day has been erased. I am beginning to think that there have been other exposure days before the one yesterday and I have forgotten them.


I lay in the big tub and disappeared under the water. It's a circular tub in a circular room. We wash and we spend all day washing. I don't know why they think we have to spend all day in the tub. We wash and we go all wrinkly. The reapers don't like the water. They sit behind us so that they don't get wet. It's the first time I have seen them totally removed and I wonder if they remember yesterday at all or if they even care. They don't seem to care about anything. They are just waiting to perform their duty. I wonder if they know when it will happen and that scares me. The fact that my (unseen) reaper could know exactly when I will die, the day, the hour, the very second of my demise. It's a terrifying thought. And it makes me realise that we all have a death day as well as birthday, we just don't know when it is. Today could be my death day and we I don't know it. Every year my death day comes and goes without my knowledge and so does all of our death days.




I stayed under the water for thirty minutes and nobody even noticed my amazing gift. I could have drowned and they wouldn't have noticed. I lay under the water and thought about Noah and the boat and all the animals living underneath. And how they are exactly like the pages of a book. And just like a book they disappear when you close it or turn the corner of the page. Everybody in the book freezes and waits until you start to read it again. This makes me sad because Noah and all the animals are frozen. They are trapped in my book and I have to go to sleep again to get them moving. They are basically dead.

And I think about Ink and how she is probably walking the colourdors right now instead of being here with all of us. I wonder if she is lost like we were yesterday and I wonder if she even knows about the door. The door that we went through. The door that me and Bag went through but I came back through alone. At least that's how I think it happened.







Part of my WIP written for the A to Z Challenge

Monday, 20 April 2015

Q is for Questions






Her name was Much or her name was Muse. It was one of the two or neither.




We were passing information about like a game of Chinese Whispers. The word on the street was that somebody had found the Helmet Zone and it had been destroyed. While other girls were saying that the Helmet Zone had been taken over by a small group of disgruntled Crackles who were unhappy about the day's events.


I wasn't prepared to believe anything because all I was seeing were walls. Bare walls. Colourless walls. I had lost the others and I only had Bag for company. For some reason she had decided to attach herself to me at the hip.


'So what's mine doing?'


'He's asleep,' I said.



Most of them were asleep. I have come to the conclusion that they spend most of their time sleeping. It's their favourite pastime.


'How is it attached?'


'It isn't really attached by anything,' I said, 'they are just there.'



'What does he look like?'


'Ugly.' I said.



'In what way?'



This is how we went as we continued to search for something. A way out or a door or a tutt. She would ask me a question and I would answer in the best way that I could. I didn't mind. It was kind of reassuring to have somebody to talk to and it was taking my mind off my need to empty my bladder. It was burning now and it felt like my bladder was about to explode.


I tried to manifest a tutt but nothing was happening. I asked bag to try but she didn't have any luck either. At the this rate I would just have to crouch down when nobody was looking but judging by the smells emanating from the colourdors I wouldn't be the first one to do it.


' How do they do it?'


'What?'


'How do they do it?' she said. 'Do they strangle us?'



To be honest I don't know but I don't think Rhyme or the tall girl had been strangled. I told her that I didn't know. I don't really see how they do it. the tall girl was pinned to the wall and then she died. Much or Muse or whatever her name was.



'Oh.'



Bag said that she thought all the rooms had been removed at the same time as the Stammies. And that all we were left with was the colourdors. I told he that she could be right but I hoped not or else we could be stuck here forever. I wanted everything to go back to the way it was. I wanted that more than anything. I didn't want my words anymore. I wanted Bath Day back. I wanted a long soak and a scrub with all the other girls and I wanted to do it with my seven words and nothing else.




I told Bag to walk ahead of me when we came to another turn in the colourdoors. I crouched and hoped that nobody would come walking in the opposite direction.








------    An excerpt from my WIP written for the A to Z Challenge.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

P is for Pasttimes








Life is all about balancing.




We are all eternal jugglers trying to juggle our careers with our happiness with our need to pay the bills and with our need to enjoy our short lives on this planet.


But some of us have too may balls to juggle and we struggle to keep up. And some of us have odd shaped balls that are difficult to handle and sometimes we drop one on the floor and it shatters. And we are left with fewer balls than we started with when a family members dies or we lose our job or some other tragedy strikes.


But sometimes as jugglers we have balls missing. Or there are balls that we have hidden in a bag and forget to take out. We sometimes toss around our family balls and our job balls and forget all about our happiness balls or our fun balls. I guess it's just a case of making priorities. I think it's important that we don't forget our fun balls. It's okay to concentrate on our jobs so that we can earn enough money to pay the rent or the mortgage or to do a weekly shop. But if we forget about fun then what is the purpose of life?


Do we really want to spend all our lives working?



We don't live in a Utopian world where we can all lay on our backs all day eating grapes. The world doesn't work like that but surely we have to at least try to enjoy it. Or else what is it going to say on our gravestones?


Would you rather it said


Worked hard all his life and was a dearly loved by everyone.


or


Worked hard all his life and was dearly loved by everyone and loved having fun.




I know which I'd prefer.



So what do you do for fun? Are you a party animal or a mountain climber or a bike rider or a keen gardener?




Pick one. Make sure you have enough balls to juggle because sometimes they fall and break and you may find yourself juggling too many work balls and not enough fun balls. We all have to juggle but I guess it's a case of doing it on our own terms.

O is for Old Fashioned






Call me old fashioned if you like but sometimes I hamper for the way things used to be.




If I had a time machine I'd like to go back to a simpler time. I'd just arrive at a point and time in history where you can open a door the old fashioned way without waiting for a robot to open it for you. I can appreciate that sliding doors are more economical and cost effective but I am quite capable of opening a bloody door. I don't feel like I need an A Level or a Masters Degree in door management.


And I'd like to go back to a simpler time when we had normal shops in our streets. Shops that were necessary. All I want is a butchers and a greengrocers and a pub and a hardware shop. Throw in a barbers and a post office and a bakers shop for good measure. Proper shops that served a useful public service. But these days all we seem get are Indian and Chinese take-aways and nail boutiques and phone shops. I just want some old fashioned normal shops. I don't want to get my toe nails polished or my eyebrows redesigned or my left nipple realigned to match the one on the right. Correct me if I'm wrong but in the old days people didn't have time to get their nostrils flushed or their body spray painted. They were too busy working in the pits or the cotton mills or fighting in the trenches.



These days some women won't leave their house if their make up clashes with the colour of their mobile phone. And where do these people get the money and the time to do all this shit?



I don't want any of it. I wish somebody would knock down the sunbed shop and replace it with a candlestick makers. I want to burn down Fluffy's Nail boutique so that somebody can replace it with a good old fashioned shop.





Give me a green grocers or a butchers shop and shove the E-Cig store up your arse. I want my time machine.






Thursday, 16 April 2015

N is for No Music





So I have heard about so many people that listen to music while they are writing.


Whether it's Mozart (that seems to be the thing at the moment) or Black Sabbath or Siberian Whale Music, listening to music seems to be very popular. But I can't quite get the hang of it.


I did a trial tonight by listening to Mozart on Spotify while I was writing the latest installment of my Camp Nano project but it was just annoying. I don't know it it made my writing any more creative than usual. I guess I will find that out tomorrow when I reread what I've written.


I just found the whole thing annoying. Just like I find it annoying when the whole world seems to walk into our back room whenever I decide to write downstairs for a change. I find it even as annoying as listening the the drone of a hoover. Maybe I am just one of those writers that needs absolute silence?



Otherwise I just can't seem to hear my characters speak. So I am wondering how many silence seekers are out there in the writing world or am I in the majority?

Maybe I just picked the wrong tune. Maybe I need to get my hands on some of that whale music or Chinese water music or whatever the hell it is?







Wednesday, 15 April 2015

M is for More Than We Talked






I've never known the stammies to go out.


Ever since I was born to my birther they have watched over me, There's no escape from them. They are the same now as they were in the beginning. That line has been drummed into us from Day Zero.

So to look up and see a those little blanks screens was impossible to take in, It was too big to comprehend.


'The bastards have gone.'


It was Ink. She had joined me and Rosh in the now colourless colourdoors. Bag was also tagging along. It seemed that Rosh was collecting people but I didn't know what purpose she had in mind. Bag was a tiny blob of black hair. I have never spoken to her but sometimes we share a boothical in helmet when Ink isn't well. She is one of life's tagger-alongers. I don't know who she shares her words with or anything else about her.

All four of us were looking up at the empty stammies, expecting them to flash back to life at any moment. At any moment we would see their faces and we would hear the bells tolling.


'Where did they take her?' said Ink.

'Who?'


'Rhyme. When they die where do they go?'

'Dunno,' I said. I really didn't. Nobody does. None of us know anything, We live in our bubble and we don't ask any questions. Because we have nobody to ask them to and usually don't have enough words anyway.

Other girls were filing past, most of them looking as uncomfortable and dazed as we did. Others were running around like headless porkines. And all the time I was thinking Noah would know what to doNoah would save us.


'Well lets' find out,' said Ink. 'Let's find out where they have taken her.'


We started to walk and we carried on walking and we walked more than we talked because we weren't used to our voices. We didn't want tp break them. But we were all thinking the same thing, I was sure of it. For once I really thought that mindspeak was possible and that all four of us shared a that same thought. I could almost hear it spoken out loud and I think they did too. Even Bag.



The doorsThe doors may be openThe doors that belong to them and not us.





                     ------------





An Excerpt from my WIP for the A to Z Blog Challenge

L is for Look Left.






Is it just me or does every third person you pass in the street have a mobile phone glued to their ear?


I think I'm turning into a grumpy old man but these tiny prophetic signs of doom niggle me. I mean is it absolutely necessary to be in a constant conversation with somebody who you probably saw in person five minutes ago? I grew up in a time when there were no mobile phones and no internet connection. If you wanted to connect with somebody you had to use your home phone or attach a message to a pigeon or nip across the road to use a telephone box. Yep I just said telephone box. Those strange alien looking things that are now either filled with second hand books or used for drug dealing and pissing in on a late night bender. I think everybody of a certain age can remember squeezing into a telephone box to hide from the rain or breaking up with somebody in one of them or stealing a quick fumble with somebody you shouldn't have.



Now the only thing people are fumbling with are their mobile phones. They don't even stop to cross the road. When I was a kid I remember the Green Cross Code Man telling everybody to look left and then right to make sure the road was clear. Now if they ever had to wheel him out of retirement he'd have to change it to Look Left, look Right and switch off your bloody phone.


Phones are a menace. Somebody is going to get run over one of these days in the middle of downloading a map of the Chinese Underground or while ordering a cheese and elder-flower sandwich from Butties4U.com. But is that the reason why everybody is on their phone? Are they really that desperate for human interaction or are they hiding something deeper? I think that it goes deeper than that. I propose that the real reason people have phones permanently glued to their ears is this.



They want to look like they are not on their own.



Read it and then read it again. It's more of a hunch. I'm no psycho analytic wizard but it's what I'm beginning to think. People don't want to be seen to be actually on their own anymore. It's not cool.


Maybe my hunch is a load of codswallop but I do know it can't be safe crossing a road with a pram and a dog and a phone stuck to your ear lobe.



And then there are drivers.


Drivers with mobiles stuck to their ears or (more often) on their laps.



It's dangerous. Very dangerous. But somehow the message isn't getting across. We need the equivalent of the Green Cross Code Man to tackle this problem or we need to bring back the good old telephone box or we need to bring them back and lock a few of these idiots inside them. Or maybe I need to get with the times and stop being so grumpy. I'll let you decide.








Written for the A to Z Blog Challenge.






Tuesday, 14 April 2015

K is for Knife-Edge




So I've caught up with Camp Nano but I'm behind a little bit with the A to Z Challenge so here goes for K.



It's Election time in the UK and the political parties are all over our TV like it's just been invented. You can't turn on the television at the moment without seeing David Cameron's smug face or Ed Miliband making love to the television cameras. One is smooth as silk and the other has been worked on so much by his team that he is nearly unrecognisable from the geeky, nervous guy that first won the Labour Nomination all those years ago. He is turning into a Tony Blair clone. He is talking and walking like him and soon he will probably be indistinct from the former leader.


But it's not all about looks. It's about content. This country has been through the worldwide recession and it's coming through the other end. But it's still on a knife-edge. The NHS is in turmoil. Immigration is such a hot potato that nobody wants to catch it in case they burn their hands. And we are still up to our knee-caps in debt.


But who is on a knife-edge?


I'll tell you who. The Tories and Labour and everyone else are banging on about their party being the party for the workers. It's the phrase that keeps falling out of their mouths every second. The workers. 'We are the party of the workers of the United Kingdom.'

They shout it from the rooftops. They fling the banner over their specially designed coaches and their pulpits. But listen to what they are saying.


Who is missing?



The unemployed. There you go, I've said it. The unemployed are missing. I have listened to them on TV, on the radio, on the internet, in the newspapers but where have they hidden the unemployed?


There are thousands of unemployed people in this country who are trying to scrape a life from themselves from the left overs of our society. But when do they ever get mentioned by Miliband? By Cameron? By any other faceless politician?

It's a dirty word. Unemployed. Isn't it? But they are the people that are on a Knife-Edge. Unemployed people and homeless people and other human beings on the fringes of our society. Human beings that politicians don't want to talk about in case they catch something. Not once have I heard the phrase 'job creation,' coming out of their mouths.



Yes there are many people who live their entire lived on benefits because it's what they do. It's what their families have always done. But a vast majority of unemployed people have fell down life's plughole and nobody is even attempting to scrape them out. Human beings in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's are on the scrap heap but who is talking about them?





Dear Mr Miliband/Blair & Mr Cameron are you?



Quit calling yourselves the party of the working people and try to be the party of all the people of the United Kingdom. Not just the ones that you'd sit next to at your dinner tables.











------



Written for this month's A to Z Challenge.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

J is for Just Like Water










I woke up and there were two of them at the end of my bed.





Once the lights go out at moonfest it's darker than dark. Light aren't allowed and it's too dark to even let your eyes adjust. But I saw them. I don't know how they managed to do it it but I could see them staring at me like I was an animal in a zoo.



'She has no words left but she can have some of mine.'



That one spoke like a child although he was the size of full-grown.


He was pointing at me.


How could he give me his words? You can't borrow words. It was impossible.



'She doesn't understand.' That one spoke in a high pitch. A non human voice.



They walked towards me and I tried my best to float inside my bed but I didn't go anywhere. I'm sure most of the other girls would be able to do it. They would probably be able to fly along the colourdoors on their beds if they wanted to. Maybe they already do.


Go away.


I was hoping they could mindspeak.


Please leave me alone.



'Here.'


The one with the child voice handed me something and at first I thought it was a crackle but it was a ball of light.

'Take it.'


I didn't have to take it. It took me. It dissolved in my hands and I could feel it climbing up by body and into the back of my throat.


Words. So it was true. You can borrow words.


'Dunstt.'


I didn't want to do it. I had used all my twelve words and it was still Moon Day.


'They are yours. You won't get into any trouble.'


I didn't want to use them. I wanted to scream them out from the back of my throat and out again into the middle of my capsule.


'Use them Dunstt.'



They were climbing onto my bed. All of them. I could feel their spindly, shadowy limbs on top of me and I couldn't hold it in any longer.



'Get away from me.'


'We won't hurt you,' said the child voice. 'We need you to understand what we are.'


'I don't want to understand, ' I said, 'I want you to get out.'


I had high pitched voice on one side of my and child voice on the other and they were moving their hands to the front of my face.


I still had words inside my throat. I could feel them. I don't know how but I could. But I had no way of counting them.


'Please.'


I felt their hands over my eyes and they were warm and wet like they weren't real hands at all but hands made of water. Just like water.


'Don't hurt me.'


Water. I could feel the water inside my head and I couldn't hold it in any longer.


I screamed. And I had never screamed before. We live in such a quiet place. A place made of whispers and small words. A place of short sentences and pauses.



I screamed like I had never done before and in doing so I forced them off me and they were gone when I opened my eyes. My capsule was dark again like it should be and I had their secret inside my head. It was sat in the back of my mind like an apple.


A secret that made me shiver in all the wrong places.



I knew them. I knew who they were. What they were.





Reapers.

Friday, 10 April 2015

I is for 'Is worry normal?'




Is worry a normal part of being a parent or can you get rid of the worry so that you can enjoy being a parent?



It seems there's always something to worry about. When they are born you take them home for the first time and there is that initial panic.

What if I can't stop them from crying?

What if I can't cope?

What if I can't do this?


I'm guessing it's a terrifying thing for everyone at first.


Then they start to crawl and walk and you are scared that something will happen top them. That they will get hurt. Get taken. Get ill. It's a worry sandwich.


And then they get older and they they want to play outside and you worry about their safety even more. What if they get hurt? What if they go missing? What if they get snatched?


And then they turn into teenagers and all the worries you previously held on to shrink in comparison and as new horrors surface.

Late night parties.
Drugs
Alchohol

The switched off phone.



The list is endless. The fear is endless.


So is it possible to get through fatherhood, through motherhood without fear spoiling the journey?


Is it possible to block fear?

can we and should we learn techniques to turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

Is it that easy?


Would having the ability to separate ourselves from our fears make us into better parents or just happier ones.


How do you cope? How can we make the parental journey fun instead of a bag of worry?