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[chox] love in the time of genocide

 a) there is this thing called ...

   "In any given time,
    most people have accepted
    the cruelest wrongs as right

    Whether through indifference,
    ignorance, or brutality,
    most people, oppressor and oppressed,
    have apologized for atrocity,
    defended it, justified it, excused it,
    laughed at it, or ignored it

    The oppressor,
    the one who perpetrates the wrongs
    for his own pleasure or profit,
    is the master inventor of justification

    He is the magician who,
    out of thin air,
    fabricates wondrous, imposing,
    seemingly irrefutable intellectual reasons
    which explain why one group must be degraded
    at the hands of another

    He is the conjurer
    who takes the smoking ash of real death
    and turns it into stories, poems, pictures,
    which celebrate degradation as life's central truth

    He is the illusionist
    who paints mutilated bodies in chains
    on the interior canvas of the imagination
    so that, asleep or awake,
    we can only hallucinate indignity and outrage

    He is the manipulator of psychological reality,
    the framer of law,
    the engineer of social necessity,
    the architect of perception and being"


 b) we fly balloons on this fuel called ...

 to the smell of hot creosote
 at the back of a small laboratory
 i heard this ditty sung one shift
 by an old bloke, us head chemist
 nick named dunky --

    stand, by, your beds
    here comes the air vice marshall
    he's got bags of stripes
    but he's only got one arse hole

 -- i look round at him
    and he nods --

    they used to call 'em wankers tha knows
    us bunks

    wakey wakey
    hands off shakey
    -- he intones --
    drop your rocks
    and grab your socks

 bromine -- i suggest --

             erm, erm, u mean bromide
             -- corrects micheal
                to the right of us --

    i don't think it would have had any effect r kid
    -- sez dunky --
    not with that crew ...

 ... i told mi mate one about dunky recently
 about cribbage scoring and over pegging ...

 -- we'd have us snap first
    the four of us, we three above
    and little trevor, then clear the crumbs
    siden the table, and around it
    play crib in paired couples --

    ... go wash your hands
    -- would snarl dunky --
    before touching these cards
    am not having you
    marking them ...

 -- well, it wasn't as though
    the cards weren't marked to fuck
    in the first place
    if one but looked
    but it was the pegging
    that dunky took umbrage with
    to the extent of having to hand
    a large brass cog to rap weight behind
    his pegging corrections --

    ... shuffle
     cut for box
      shuffle and deal five ...

    ... these cards are very sticky
    are ya sure ye washed ye hands
    throw one in the box then
    cut for his nobility
    king nine
    that's a box breaker
    here r kid
    let's begin
    7 with a 7


             21 for 3

                    31 for 2 ...

 -- dunky, used to irritate folk
    when he filled in as shift supervisor
    on holiday cover, he'd irritate me
    when he worked the night shift
    if only because, it left us short
    of a fourth lunch time player

 i asked this character briggy one day
 to come and fill in for doubles --

  not today sweetheart
  -- sez briggy --
  i can't concentrate
  it's thi mate, dunky
  he just dunt care
  he's a fucking nightmare ...

 -- and with that, briggy departed
    back in to his office
    with a cup of char and a newspaper --

 ... what's up wi her
 'as she got an headache
 -- sez i
    to mi mate little trevor --

    dunky rang him up last night
     loads ...

    here r kid
    does tha know that 50 pen mix
    we've got going out to knottingly
    does tha think if we did this
    then that might happen

 well mebe -- sez briggzy --
 can't we leave this til the morning

    ok r kid
    -- said dunky, but then after,
       about half an hour later
       he rang him up again --

    here r kid
    does tha know how this effluent's been high
    well i was thinking
    if we did this to the bug plant
    then we might get this to happen

 the bug plant -- barks briggzy --
 surely this one can wait til morning

     i wain't be there in the morning r kid
     will i -- sez dunky --
     i'll be sleeping
     but am awake now
     and when i'm awake
     it's a privilege for others to get their kip
     not a right ...

 -- a giggle
    and sey --

 cou'n't he have left 'em a note

      course he could
      -- replies little trev --
      he always does
      when he's on a night shift
      reams of the stuff
      i think they hate it tha knows
      they have to think about it ...

        come on -- sez trev --
        we'll play singlets, wi micheal
        winner stays on, loser pegs
        we'll not get the cog art today ...

 -- i think the cog said more about dunky though
    than us, although i just don't know
    i was only in mi teens
    when i started playing in that crib school
    and in hindsight, youthful innocence
    however manifest, seldom remains uncorrupted
    as one get's older, if only because nowadays
    corruption is passed off, or otherwise portrayed
    by the politicos as being the real, mature
    and every enduring state of humanity ...

 c) ... now when the storms are in your head ...

 you've got a good memory you
 you'd make a great detective
 -- i said to someone long ago --

             i have a photographic memory
             -- said this someone --
             but it is very selective
             i'd think i'd make a politician ...

 -- i was round at theirs recently
    this someone made me laugh again
    we were making beige cardboard boxes
    and packing stuff up for a shift
    we stood back, and this someone
    pointed, to their designer bags
    brimming, with bits and bobs collected
    off dressing tables tops and said --

             ... look, i am redundant
             and i have become a bag women

 -- i giggled and replied --

 can you remember
 you said once upon a time
 if you were to marry me
 you'd end up as a bag lady

             no, did i

 when i asked you to marry me

             you've never asked me to marry you

 yes i did
 can't you remember

             no, i think i would have recalled

 can't ye, well it dunt matter
 it was a long time ago, up in the arts tower
 but you said --
    no, if we got married
    we'd end up living in a small place
    probably in what your old school
    call a potentially violent area
    just before we split
    and you wondered the streets
    as a bag lady

             oh, yes, now i recall, vaguely
             you were in work then weren't you


             and you were serious

 i thought so
 but if you missed it
 i couldn't have been serious enough
 can't you remember me asking

             no, not really
             not any serious proposal

 it's funny init, memory

             -- the lady nods
                and says --

             ah, did you have a ring


             well then
             -- says this someone --
             how was i suppose to know
             you were being serious ...

 -- i bite mi thumb knuckle
  and shake mi head
   this someone shakes their head too
     and in time sez --

             did i hurt you

  i dint work out like that, did it
  you were there
  we'd been faffing about for quite a bit
  and i wasn't going anywhere romatically
  until i cleared the air with you
  and it cleared the air with you ...

             -- the lady nods --

  -- in time i say --
  you'll get work again you know

             sure, sure
             i haven't looked yet really
             i can't, not here
             the only work available to me here
             is the type i did when i was a student
             it's like i've wasted all the time in between

 nayow, you haven't
 you being doing other stuff too
 and it's just a profession
 when all said and done
 and you've had others
 and in any case
 your skills are transferable
 i mean, i don't have your profession
 but have done the degrees
 and they come in very handy at work
 you bound to get a start somewhere

             of course i'll get a start somewhere
             as you term it
             i just don't want to start again here
             i can't go back, you understand
             it won't be as daunting
             in a different city
             to start again

 yes, i understand
 we've not managed
 to nationalise you yet then
 i thought we had

             you don't get nationalised
             by a city silly
             and it isn't as though
             i'm leaving the country

 i know ..
 oh, what did i read the other day
 it was a quote about re training
 borges i think, he imagined a time
 much like ours, in that the political class
 had very much lost their direction
 if they'd ever had one to begin with
 and as a matter of practicality
 had been off-hired, before they could do
 any further damage, he noted
 that the politicians, post dismissal
 tended to make a living
 as faith healers or comedians

             i have a quote for you
             it's from little dorrit --

              the circumlocution office was
              (as everybody knows without being told)
              the most important department under government

              no public business of any kind
              could possibly be done at any time
              without the acquiescence of the circumlocution office

              its finger was in the largest public pie,
              and in the smallest public tart

              it was equally impossible to do the plainest right
              and to undo the plainest wrong
              without the express authority
              of the circumlocution office

              if another gunpowder plot had been discovered
              half an hour before the lighting of the match,
              nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament
              until there had been half a score of boards,
              half a bushel of minutes,
              several sacks of official memoranda,
              and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence,
              on the part of the circumlocution office ...

 -- i giggle, and sez --
 it's kafkaesque, init
 like gilliam's brazil

             -- this some one nods, and sez --
             tell me now tuttle
             would you be moving
             if you were me

 sure, if i was single
 i'd be long gone ...

 -- later that night in hindsight
 i was struck be the following thought --

 what do i mean,
 if i was single,
 i'd be long gone
 i am single also ...

 -- a child asked me one a bit ago --

 you'd never hit mummy would you

           -- i looked at the kid's mam
              shake me head,
              lolled a little and said --

           dunt be a dafty

 am not daft me
 -- sez the kid --
 you could be mi new dad

           -- i look at the kid's mam
              say something benign to the child
              and am thinking --

           you don't have to hit people
           to hurt them ...

 -- half a life ago
    one o'mi mates said
    allegedly --

            i know he's a lunatic
            but he's my lunatic

 -- mi mate was talking
    about me at the time
    if mi grandad had been there
    no doubt he's have said somat laconic,
    like --

  it's got to that stage
  then, has it

 -- if i'd have been there
    i suspect i'd have just valued the 'my'

    i'd asked mi mate then
    if they would consider mariage

    they were studying an ology
    and said no
    but they would consider
    having a child by either
    aragon or daley thompson --

           you must like the taste of wedding cake

           -- queried a scottish miner mate, a lot later
              when we stood above a slip form chamber
              near the niche upon sylvester, me returning
              from a twelve week scan, conclusive evidence
              of another option ---

 it's not like that
 i don't think i'll have to this time
 i don't think she's that bothered
 and anyway, have on'y just got married
 to someone else, we've got a baby too
 we've not been split up long
 i'd need to get another divorce first

           fuck, what does your misses think
           does she know

 course she knows
 what can she think
 it's been quick
 but we had a clean split
 and we're still talking
 i suspect one part of her mind
 wants to cut mi bollocks off though ...

 --  a couple of years before
     the phone rang, and i answered it --

 main drainage

                  is that you
                  -- says the person
                     at the other end of the phone --

 -- i recognise the voice
    and say --

 yes it's me
 is that you
 you've just caught me
 i'm just about to get off

                  well go then
                  -- says the person
                  with some abruptness --

 oh, is that what you rang for

                  -- silence --

 are you still there
 -- and i say the persons name --

                  yes, i'm still here

 what's wrong

                  it'll wait
                  when will you be back

 sunday night
 what's up

                  please ring me when you get back

 what's up

                  -- silence and then other sounds --

 -- i say the persons name again
    more as a query than anything else --

                  i think i'm pregnant

 oh ...
 have you done a test

                  yes of course i've done a test

 well then
 you probably are

                  how can i be

 what do you mean
 how can you be
 where are you


 where are you

                  oh, at jane's

 does she know

                  yes, i had to tell someone

 good, can you pack a bag
 and i'll come get you

                  i can't come with you
                  and besides
                  i can't be pregnant
                  i just can't

 what do you mean
 you can't
 you did biology at school dint ya

                  i mean i can't be pregnant
                  not now
                  not with you

 has there been anybody else

                  no, of course not

 then it must be me then

                  no, i mean
                  you have a plan for life
                  that doesn't involve this
                  that doesn't involve me
                  in fact, you've planned against this

 i know, i'll come pick you up
 i want to see you

                  no, go to scotland
                  and call me when you get back
                  we both need to think about our options
                  we'll both have time while you're away

 no, we need to do this together
 can you be ready in half an hour

                  i can't come with you

 course you can
 and we'll stick together at least
 until we know what we're going do

                  i know what i'm going do
                  -- barks the lady --
                  i'm keeping it

 a know, i wouldn't have thought otherwise
 nor would have i persuaded you
 to do otherwise
 i meant, what we're going to do
 not you just by yourself

                  i can't
                  you've not planned for this

 listen sweetheart
 reality supersedes any plan o'mine
 it always has
 i'll pick you up yeah
 i do love you, you know
 if it's any consolation ...

 -- the lady above rang me some time later
    i was expecting her call
    things had happened that day
    and i was distracted

    i answer the phone
    with the name of my work --

                  is that you
                  -- says the lady --

 -- i recognise her voice, smiled
    and said yes and how's it going --

                  i've had my baby

 when -- sez i --

                  about an hour ago

 every thing alright

                  yeah she's fine

 what about you

                  yeah, just fine

 what, just fine
 just like the last time

                  yeah, well
                  nothing to write home about
                  i'll tell you all about it
                  when you're down
                  at the weekend

 wow, well done you
 what weight
 hold on, wait
 have you seen the news
 no one will forget this birthday in a hurry

                  no, what you on about

 haven't you seen it
 two planes have crashed
 in to skyscrapers in new york
 the telly's saying it's terrorists
 it's all over the news

                  news, news
                  -- barked the lady --
                  i'm telling you
                  what the news is today
                  i've just had a baby ...

 -- after i split from the lady above
    i went round to an old mate
    and filled them in about it --

   is it final
   -- said mi old mate --

 yes, i think i've done it
 as cleanly as i could

   i thought you loved her

 i do
 -- sez i --
 but we didn't split up
 through any lack of love
 either though did we luv

   no, i guess not
   how is she

 not good
 but she knew it was coming
 but she thought
 i'd be open to negotiation

   it is that final then

 yes, i'm leaving the flat next week
 and am going to be lodging
 with a mate for a bit ...
 no, lower your eyebrows
 a male mate, a colleague from work

   you've had this planned

 yes, in one way yes
 i made the decision
 a long time ago
 or rather, something happened
 and i knew i had to move
 or get swallowed, but it's been very difficult
 i hate doing this, it's heartbreaking
 every time

   is she at the flat now
   do you want me to go round

 yeah, her mates are with her
 she's been poorly all week
 tummy bug apparently,
 had leave it a day or two
 if i were you, but i don't think
 it'd do any harm, a familiar face
 and you could talk her through
 the benefits if you don't mind

   what about the house

 oh, it's gone through
 we exchanged last week
 she'll be out of the flat before me
 i think it'll better for her
 a fresh start

   the kids had picked up on it you know

 i suppose they were bound to
 are they alright

   i didn't want to mention it
   it's between you two
   and that's what i told our two
   don't worry, this won't disturb them too much
   is there room at your friends for weekends

 sure, we'll be a bit squashed mind
 for a bit, but look at her
 she dunt tek up much room ...

 -- i point to my baby asleep
    on the table between us
    in a removable rear facing car crib --

 .... and mi mate won't mind
 if i tidy up his gaff a little
 and make more space
 although he might turn his nose up
 if i use an aerosol

   you could come and stay with us
   on a weekend if it would make things easier

 thank you

   then i'll get to see more of her

 -- i lol and sez --
 always look on the bright side

   no one's died
   in fact, quite the reverse
   where is the negative
   -- corrects my mate --

 -- i nod --

   -- mi mate looks over at my baby sleeping
      and sez --

   i thought she'd have fought for you more

 she did
 but it didn't matter

   that's what i mean
   i thought she was a lot stronger than that

 yeah, no, she is
 i mean i don't think it matted
 or rather, i don't think i matted
 i mean, it wasn't 'i' that was her bottom line
 she already had her bottom line
 from when she first met me
 it must have felt like her top
  she knew i was a dad
  that kept in touch with his kids
  she'd not seen many like that before
  she used to come around on a weekend
  just to get used to the idea
  any thing beyond that was pure romance ...

  -- i stop, and shake mi head --

  ... i wanted to do so much better this time
  for her, and i've just put her through
  a life time of pain, and i don't want to hurt her
  ever, ever again ...

  -- i shake my head again
     and sey --

   what is wrong with me

    -- mi old mate looks at me
       and sez --

    you're emotional

 -- i lol, and sey --

 am going to get back
 am going to miss her

 -- i stand up
    pick up my baby
    stop lolling
    and sey --

 am going to really miss them

   when, -- states me mate --
   you know where there going
   you've just got them a house
   you have had this planned for a long while
   haven't you

 -- i stop at the door --
 no, well, it wasn't quite like that
 but this one's well rehearsed

    how do you mean
    -- mi old mate is intrigued --

 well she knew that after i finished with you
 i was happy to walk with just mi books and mi records
 so if i was expected anything more on top from her
 i was thinking like a romantic

   -- mi old mates roars lolling --
   did she really say that
   the young are very resilient

 aren't they though
 but no, am joshing
 she dint have to
 am that used to
 representing her interests
 i do it as a matter of course
 all i've done, is tried to get her a start

   -- mi mate said something to me then
      that was probably meant to be a compliant
      so i didn't let it lie, and sez --

 but you're right about the young
 am not going to do so well
 with the music this time
 her and me like the same stuff you see
 with you, we either had doubles
 or we were just a generation apart

    i ought to throw this cushion at you
    go, and give me call if you need to ...

 d) ... we fly balloons on this fuel called

 oh, i was up north recently
 and i heard one in a pub

 four blokes walk in to a bar
 paddy irish, taffy welsh
 jock the scot and tommy english

 well, the person behind the counter
 just took one look at them
 and said --

    what's this,
    another joke

          -- mi mate laughs and sez --

          why did you go up there
          have you got anything to confess
          you know we're keeping a sweepstake

  oh don't,
  it got a bit heavy

          -- mi mate roars with laughter
          and sez --

          it always gets a bit heavy with yor one

          oh -- stops mi mate
                and enquires as to the course
                of a family dispute --

    nayow, they're talking again
    -- i reply --
    they're back to lovey dovey
    well, it's not quite the same
    he's older now, inhe

    it was very peculiar though
    it was great having him around again
    full time, but he's a lot bigger now
    he's way bigger than me
    and am sure he's still growing
    and have got back used to the space,
    of a weekend daddy
    also, he's quite a raconteur ye know
    i don't know where he gets it from
    do you know, i found myself
    having to have words with him
    i ended up correcting his english
    of all things

          -- mi mate roars in laughter again --

    we were down, doing a shop
    on infirmary road, just a couple
    o'bits and bobs, toiletries,
    he got a comic, and i got a bottle of grouse

    the whiskey had a plastic security collar
    have you seen them, this one's white,
    the lass at the counter
    bangs the neck of the bottle
    very precisely in to a socket
    beside her till that somehow
    magnetically frees the spirit

    bang, bang, bang, baang,
     she's goes
    other folk are looking
    not just me,
    bang, bang, bang, baang
    she goes once more, and it comes off
    she's obviously done that trick before
    and they smile at each other, sweet
    and chat about the comic

    i keep out of it,
    i don't get most of the references
    i've not seen the same movies
    and a lot of the actors
    i only know by face
    but am standing
    well out of this one
    whilst they chit chat

    it din't take them that long
    flicking through the mag,
    pointing to various characters
    before they'd built up
    to some kind of crescendo
    and she says to him --

      i'm not bothered
      i have a boyfriend
      in fact i'm engaged

    and she shows him a ring

    to which, he just mumbles
    some patronising apology
    about it not being her fault
    as he found her sex
    of little interest

    so i said to him as we departed --
     what was that all about
     she's only here to do her job
     if you can't be civil
     you best stow it

        it was her not me that started it
        -- sez he --
        and anyway, she obviously doesn't understand me
        does she, or she wouldn't have shown me the ring

    i don't think i understand it
    -- i replied --
    but that last bit
    held me intrigued

        what -- sez he --
        when i played the gay card

    oh, you were playing -- sez i --
    it dint sound very gay to me
    it sounded more like sour grapes ...

   --  you know, all that learning
   and he didn't get the reference
   now you know i don't mind
   how love manifests itself
   between any of the seven sexes
   but it was the head game aspect
   that held my dandy irritated ...

          -- mi mate roars with laughter again
          and says --

          what is courtship
          if not head games

    no don't
    but i know
    i tried to keep out it
    but finally i found myself saying -
     listen sweetheart, i'm not your friend
     am your dad

                oh -- giggles mi mate --
                did it get that bad

    nayow, not really
    but sometimes, i just felt
    i needed to nip things in the bud

                -- mi mate grins
                   and nods --

                so did you

   did i what

                the sweepstake
                it's grim up north

   -- i stare at mi mate
   and state the name of a second lady
   briefly explaining how we became involved
   via various happenstance --

   so afterwards, after that first night anyway
   -- sez i -- once we'd secured the house
   and picked up the motorbike
   but before the bobbies became involved
   we went out for a few beers and a curry
   and that's where she asked me
   just straight out, during the poppadoms
   no messing --

     are you seeing anybody presently

   well i looked at her, smiled
   nodded to his mother, sat next to her
   and said --
     yes, other than this lady
     i spend a lot of time
     with the mothers of my other kids too

           but your not with them,
           with them are you

     no, not at the mo
     -- i replied --
     i am with you two, you two
     aren't i

      -- his mam intervened
      at that pedant
      and translated for me --

      no, he's messing
      he's not with anyone no
      not presently

     nayow i'm not -- sez i --
     i think i'm in enough trouble
     as it is, don't you ...

                -- mi mate grins
                   and nods --

                so did you

    did i what

                -- mi mate names the second lady --



    don't look so disappointed

                i was looking forward to a good story
                you could always make one up

    i don't have to, i do have one for you
    listen, i'll go and get another drink
    same again

                no wait, i'll get them in ...

                -- mi mate goes up to the bar
                   there, there is a blackboard
                   upon it written in red green and white
                   'mixed olives' and a price
                   i follow mi mate to the bar
                   and get a bowl full
                   with a couple of cocktail sticks --

    i passed a lot of shops shut down
    on the way here tonight

    have you heard about woolys
    where am i gonna get mi brasso from
    where's anybody

                -- mi mate nods, and
                   i pop one olive in my mouth
                   and ask --

    how's the credit crunch chewing you

                well, -- tuts mi mate --
                i'm somewhat buffeted
                because i work in education
                but we laid one hundred off last month
                and have another hr1 notice pending

                i had a bloke come up to me the month before
                who'd lost his job in the city
                corporate side though, 120 a year
                said he'd settle for 40

                well i don't have 40 spare
                who does

    -- i nod this time --

                what about you

    yeah well, we've got a few little bits
    not enough though, unless i pull mi finger out
    we've not had enough all this last year really
    we'll probably fold the business
    and reform as some sort of social enterprise

                -- mi mate nods
                   and says --

                that would probably suit you better

    yeah, and it would mean
    i might get to get to sack misen again
    you never know,
    i might get away with it this time

                -- mi mate roars with laughter
                   and asks after my work colleague --

    oh, i had a strange one the other day
    i was round at mi welsh mate's
    chatting about a prototype fab lab
    and mi work colleague turns up in passing
    had not seen them for a couple of days
    so i told them the outcome
    of a job had gone for, well
    the possible cash side of it anyway
    small job, start january
    nowt to it really
    the client and me
    talk it through
    in front of a screen
    i show the client
    relevant stuff we'd done in the past
    and matched up the specific requirements
    and wishes

    kids kept knocking and coming in with cards
    i thought the client would have been stricter
    given their position, but they just melted
    and coughed, before becoming stern enough
    to evict the kids from the office
    other teachers passing, seeing
    what was happening, herded the kids
    with their good wishes
    down the adjacent corridor

    but every time it happened
    within thirty seconds
    the head's screen save came up
    showing sea frothing over
    the beautiful still smiling body
    of a relaxed bronzed youth

    i stare at the picture
    turn my head sideways
    to turn landscape to portrait
    and smile back at the face

    he's beautiful, says i
    the head nods, smiles and says --

       yes, he's my son
       he died recently
       sometimes i just don't know
       how i'm going to make it

   i shake mi head at the parent
   and they shake for a bit
   then smile and say --

       i have a very strong faith
       there must be some purpose

   i chat to the client
   and ask how it happened

     -- i shake mi head at mi mate
        in the pub, and state --

     probably best to stay away
     from the details, tragic
     tragic, work accident
     the paramedics were just pumping fluids
     in to him, so he was still warm
     for when his mam and dad arrived
     his death was pretty much instantaneous

    -- i look at mi mate, and think
       well, whatever i think i sez --

   i had a meeting with a paramedic recently
   i think she took to me ...

   -- i name the lady
      her name rhymes
      with the previous lines --

                -- mi mate roars with laughter again --

   i wrote the peugeot off
   it's taken mi this long
   to get this movement back
   -- sez i, meking a weird movement
      with one of mi arms --

                  what happened -- asked mi mate
                                   concerned --

    oh, kids
    fucking about
    playing chase round one of the villages
    longston, longstale, or something
    bang out towards monsal head, south west
    both micras, i think
    fuck, air bags and everything

   -- i nod at mi mate
      and continue --

    as your dad would say, shock
    the third derivative
    but both cars crumbled as designed
    i had to boot the door out
    i did it quick, survival kicked it
    i was barking at misen
    until i got out, and then i thought
     oh, you silly bugger,
      it's not gonna blow
       it's fucking diesel, not lighter fuel

     three of us though, holding us ribs
     another three un hurt
     and checking on their mates
     the driver came over
     and said sorry mate
     and asked me how i felt

     he tried to cuddle me later ...

    -- i do that quirky arm movement again
       waggle mi fingers a little bit more
       and say to mi mate --

     how do i feel ...

     i'm alive

                 -- mi mate roars with laughter again
                    and i rename the lady --

     she's a bit littler than me
     we were facing, about six inches apart
     she looked in mi eyes
     and said --

       i excepted the worse
       i was told it was bad
       but as i arrived
       i quickly saw the state of the cars
       and thought good
        maybe they're walking
        maybe they're alive

     she was examining me at the time
     at the back of her van
     her hands were cold, she said
     are you sure you don't mind

     she'd stood me up first
     and pushed her stethoscope
     up under mi shirt, nodding over
     to the other driver,
     and the driver's mate
     sat awaiting examination

    nayow -- sez i, smiling --
    i don't mind, am not shy
    i dunt think have done owt permanent
    but am worried about punctured lungs

        do you see that cabinet
        -- sez the lady --
        if you had a punctured lung
        you'd be as pale as that
        and i doubt whether you'd be standing
        after doing what i've just asked

    well i thought
     it's a long time since have stared in a mirror
      i don't know how pale i am, do i
       so i looked straight in to her peepers
        and sez --
          you're mi doctor for tonight

                 -- mi mate lols,
                    and sez --

                 well, did you

    did i what -- sez i --
    defeat your sweepstake by chat and happenstance

                 -- mi mate lols some more --

    and in any case
    she was doing her job
    and obviously had
    enough to contend with
    at the best of times

    i left soon after
    i got called away by the chief officer
    they wanted me to move mi motor

     have tried -- said i --
     we all did, we tried to bounce it
     off the road, no joy

         no -- sez, the c.o. --
         i mean break down,
         do you have cover
         you don't appear to
         i'll need to call ours
         you'll be charged

     well i can try
     -- sez i --
     and got through on mi moby
     to a brake down operator
     i have them on speed dial
     told them mi name, number
     and location
     based on road intersections
     and they said they'd be there
     within the hour

     the c.o. was listening in
     shakes head and says no go
     i'll take over, forget that
     i'll have some one here, a lot quicker
     tout de suite, if not sweeter

     i nod, and leave them too it
     loads o'folk swimming about
     regular emergency services ark
     two cop cars, two fire engines
     and an second ambulance arrives
     i sat down at the back
     on my beaten estate
     and watch the ordered movement

     i'm wearing my appendix g
     fluorescent adolescence
     i was waving traffic down
     when the lady arrived

     our garb some what matches
     i hear her from behind
     she is dismissing the second ambulance
     and being dissed by a fire crew

     she gives as good as she gets
     and i lolled, and it hurt
     and she comes over, and gets me back
     in her van, for the paper work

         name, address, phone number,
         g p

     i don't have one luv
     -- sez i --
     i bat for the other side

        -- she just shuck her head,
           and said --

           when was the last time
           you saw a doctor

    dunno, ten, twelve years ago
    i'm self employed now you see
    a sick note is next to no use for me

       -- she teks mi pulse, mi blood pressure
          and gives mi a mini medical
          whilst she ticks off the stuff
          i didn't have --

       have you called home
       -- she queries --

    i narrow my eyes
    in reply

       so they know you're ok

    oh, sez i, no
    they're no one expecting me

       oh, sez she
       don't you have a family

    yes, sez i
    waggling mi fingers so
    this many, but a few have flown the coop
    and i was just on mi way back
    from the littlest two

       blinking heck
       -- said the lady --
       don't you watch telly

    i lolled, it hurt
    and said 'casualty' ...

    -- i shake mi head again
       and take another long drink --

    that conversation with the head teacher
    kinda got to me though
    i stopped miself telling mi work colleague
    why would they wanna know

    save it for the new year
    if at all, i shouldn't have been worried
    do you know,
    mi colleague had come round
    to call us attention
    to the rendition monologues
    have you heard of them ...

    -- i shake mi head again --

                 no -- says mi mate --
                 but i think the name
                 gives it away

    -- i nod --
    i said to the head teacher
    i don't know, but sometimes
    it appears to me, that there is some sort
    of metaphysical balancing act
    going on somehow behind the scenes

    they nodded, and then shuck their head quickly
    and said --

       no, that notion's dangerous here
       when it happened, some of my kids said
        take comfort sir, god, allah, he takes the best first
       you can imagine for what missions, it may recruit

                 -- mi mate nods, and sez --

                 did you get to say goodbye to your brother

    -- i nod too, and sey --

    course a did
    i wo saying goodbye for five years

                 no i meant at the end

    -- i lol at mi mate, and sey --

    course a did, can't you remember
    we got your dad's big old granada
    and drove it up here in a hurry
    don't you recall

                 -- mi mate shakes his head, and sez --

                 are you still smoking,
                 there's some seats out the back
                 same again yeah ...

   -- we get another couple
      and go out the back patio
      there's noisy heaters hanging
      from some four bi fours posts
      that also support a timbre roof frame
      covered loosly with wind slapped tarpaulin

      we sit quiet for a quite bit
      and eat some crisps --

                 so there's no one else then
                 -- mi mate munches --

    -- i stare at my pint
       and remain silent --

                 well is there

    -- i state disturbia
       and then the name of another lady --

                 -- my mate lols
                    then stops
                    looks skywards
                    lols and says --

                 i've never met a women
                 whose name ends in an 'a'
                 that doesn't have big tits

    -- i just stare at mi mate
       until the lolling stops  --

                 oh, it's serious then

    do you know, have heard her mates
    call her 'big tits',
    and i've heard her express concerns
    that they might be too small
    it's wrong you know this
    it's all fucked up init

                 so are they

    i wouldn't know

                 -- mi mate lols, and sez --

                 who is she

    you know her
    or at least you've met her
    -- i reply, and explain the connection --

                  -- mi mate lols again
                     this time big time
                     and says --

                  you just might loose your bollocks after all

   how -- sez i --

                -- mi mate names another lady,
                   and asks me if this lady knows --

   knows what, she knows we talk
   she's heard us talk, often
   what is there to know
   i don't know myself

   i think a best summed it up
   when i got caught on the phone
   by mi eldest brother, he'd got skype
   or somat, and just were after
   a social chat, nowt important
   but he tried to shedule me
   for a conversation one evening

   am out most nights
   -- sez i --
   i go see yor nephews and nieces
   their mams invite me round for tea

      he was persistent --
        what every night
        you have a tight rota
        don't you get time off
        for good behaviour
        what about thursday night
        or do you go back
        to square one

    er, occasionally -- sez i
                        and name the lady, who you say
                        may lead to my castration --

    but on thursday
    am having tea, with her kids and she

     -- do you know what, he never asked
        the size of her breasts
        mi brother, he just said --

            is there anything romantic
            between you two

     and i stumbled, and i said --

     er, no

            could there be
            -- he further queried me --

     no bro, not in this universe anyway

                 -- mi mate lols some more
                    and says --

                  take heart,
                  at least it makes a good wank fantasy

   -- i shake mi head at mi mate,
      and say --

   do you know that lady i told you about
   earlier, the mate of the mother of your name sake
   the biker chick, it took her starter question
   back in the indian, to get me thinking ...

   and i thought --
      i didn't give her
      a full and honest answer
   his mother knows though, she's seen us chatting also
   but she doesn't know what, as i don't know what
   but she knows you know, she's not behind the door

   -- i shake mi head some more
      and say --

   it's all wrong you know this
   i can't be her best alternative
   am not having it

                 oh, oh, oh
                 -- laughs mi mate
                    like some giant but beardless santa --
                 you've made that mistake before

   no, it is not the same
   she is not the same
   fuck -- i shake mi head --

                 as i said
                 good wank material

   what's wrong with you
   do you have to bring things down
   to the lowest common denominator

                 sorry, but you must see the funny side

   the funny side, the funny side
   -- starts i,
      then stop abruptly --
   hey, i came across some porn the other day
   i was packing some stuff up for ya name sake
   and a came across a comic,
   they come with free dvds now, did you know

                 -- mi mate grins and shakes his head --

   well you've seen one, you've seen them all
   ha'n't ye, so i got misen two, hustler babies
   had not seen it close up in a long time
   it's not changed much, since i last looked

   you know, you can't make to love to paper
   we've had this conversation before, ha'n't wi

   -- i sez to mi mate who nods --

   well you can't make love to tellys either
   but you can try

                 -- mi mate snorts and giggles --

   it's weird init
   all these machines
   and we're no more than cave men
   daubing crude images
   to excite some inner hunter

                 it's natural
                 -- exclaims mi mate --
                 there's nothing more natural than sex, is there

   but this is not sex
   it's pornography, listen
   you've seen the stuff yourself
   it starts off with teenage girls
   dressed coyly, in garb matching
   some corresponding young pop idol
   a hint of stocking, then turn the page
   to a fast undressing, poses, smiles, lips
   then a3, my blood runs cold
   my babies in the centrefold

    they all want it you know, sex, rampant sex
    according to the comics, the shy ones
    the old ones, the married ones, love them all
    bang them on the window sill
    the long and the short and the tall
    there gagging for it, simply gagging for it
    it's all they ever think about apparently
    they're just naturals,
    run on ever ready batteries, wuf
    go get em lads

                 some women do like sex you know
                 -- retorts mi mate --

   i know, i know
   -- sez i --
   i've known a few
   and i've known a few who like pornography too
   although as a genre, they said they preferred erotica

                 have you read any erotica



   and there's a lot more cleaning certainly


   yes, the male characters
   often seem to be cleaning things
   - i shake mi head --
   funny if it weren't true

                 -- mi mate shakes his their too
                    and i continue --

   what would you think
   if it was your daughter in the skin pics
   where she thought it was her best option
   to spread her legs
   and smile like she meant it

                 it's not my daughter though is it

   it shouldn't matter
   i know of course it does and it must
   but all the same
   it shouldn't,
   what a world, what a poor apology
   for a world we live in, look how far we've really come
   still herding, pinning us orphans and exposed children
   prostrate, in prostitution

                -- mi mate lols, and says --

                well don't look at it then
                if it upsets you so
                and it may ruin your eyes you know

  -- i giggle at this one
     and reply --

     tom baker said to mary whitehouse once
      if you don't like watching it
      there's always the off button
     but it's omnipresent with this one init
     in a way, it's very subtle
     but really it's just another poncy ponzi pyramid scheme
      an older entrenched generation
      molding fresh youth in to entrenched ideas

                 -- mi mate nods, and sez --
                 is she clever

   course she is
   isn't every one

                what does she do

   she's very good with her hands
   -- sez i --
   here watch this

   -- i take an empty crisp packet
      and fold it to an small compact
      precise right angled isosceles triangle
      i lob it at my mate --

   here, catch
   you do it

   -- i do the same with a second packet
      and throw it over --

   pretty nifty, eh

                 -- mi mate looks at the blue
                    and pale green triangles
                    and sez --

                 you've got it bad, haven't you
                 oh, look
                 these are navigation flags
                 you see them on buoys
                 it depends on which way they point
                 here i'll show you
                 -- says mi mate faffing with the diary lea --
                 keep north, keep west, keep south, keep east

   yeah, have seen them somewhere
   oh castaneda, castanets
   oh am gonna go squirt
   back in a sec yeah, same again yeah ...

                 -- when i get back
                    mi mate's still faffing
                    and sez --

                 cheers for the beer
                 what do you think you'll do then
                 if you do manage to sack yourself

  dunno, through on the rock and roll i guess
  like a million other folk, three months hence
  it'll be in a different world in any case

                 -- mi mate nods --

                 yes indeed,
                 we're in interesting times

  arn't we though
  there's some interesting work going on round here
  on the river weirs, archimedes screws
  renewables, i'd like to take it underground
  do you know, i think i'm missing mi sewers

                 he's got high hopes, he's got hiigh hopes
                 -- intones mi mate --

  well you've got to have a dream
  ha'n't ye, -- starts i with some enthusiasm --
  i thought i might attack
  some development funding ...

                 no, no
                 no, no,
                 no, no, no, no, no
                 i have told you this before
                 -- stops mi mate --
                 drains aren't dreams

  -- i just stare at mi mate, who lols, stops
     and says --

                ok, ok,
                you've always been very peculiar about this

                i don't know why though sometimes
                you don't dream yourself above ground

                like with your young pal for instance
                whose good with her hands

  -- i stare at my mate who continues --

                she's not your daughter you know

   nayow a know -- sez i --
   she's her aunt

                -- mi mate lols and says --
                did you here the one
                about the china man
                whose wife left him
                -- mi mate nods --
                she went back to peeking,
                he went back to wanking

   that's not funny
   -- replies i resisting --
   here, have got one
    if a centipede a bucket full
    how much would a precipice

                 -- mi mate shakes their head --

    a sheer drop
   -- sez i --


   don't you like that one
   it's clean any way

   here, have got another one for you
    two cats sat on a roof
     which cat falls off last

                  -- mi mate shakes their head again --

   the one with the greatest mew

   do you get it, yeah, no, oh
   -- sez i, and name another lady --
   she's upsticks and left the north now
   i helped her pack
   i was round at her cousin's recently
    with my landlord and a few others

    her cousin got talking about
    a few of his favourite things, first in their mother tongue
    then in english, looks, sounds, tastes etc
    he held court and was setting the questions

    starter for ten, some nice answers i thought
    a few cliched, but he could see me
    turning mi nose up, as it got cruder
    so he took the talk back
    to peaches, and days we'd picnicked
    on the beaches, and then he sprung one on me --

             where would you like best
             to place your hands
             -- and he held up his hands
                in a cup --

    i looked her cousin in the eye
    and lolled

             you're thinking of someone's bum aren't you
             -- sez he --

    i nodded and said, goose peach
    which means to twist a fart in the vernacular
    or at least to hold one hypnotised

            see -- sez he --
            got you, admit it
            lowest common denominator

    i already have
    -- sez i, picking up a cushion
       and placing it on my lap --
    but third, i'd put the bum third

               really -- exclaims mi landlord --
               what would you place above it

    a hand
    i'd like to hold someone's hand

             ah -- sez her cousin
                   leaning forward
                   with interest --
             second base,
             good one, where first
             where first, the eyes

    dunt be a dafty
    you can't hold some body's eyes
    -- sez i --
    no first, what i'd most like to do
    oh, i just can't tell you
    you'd only laugh

             go on, tell us
             -- sez her cousin --
             don't be shy

    no, it's not that
    you'll really laugh
    and think it's one of mine

    -- i turn round, to my landlord
       and say --

       can you remember
       when us work colleague
       tried to convert me
       in the cross guns that night
       to a social process, and put forth the proposition
       that we could easily reduce the duration
       of our general working day

       i thought about it, thought about my own jobs
       the time i waste arguing the toss
       with degree educated bods, arguing black is white
       to extract a profit, all these little shops
       yakking too each other, layer upon layer
       of wasted time, and i kopped us colleague's drift
       and saw capital's inefficiencies

       i nodded, and us colleague said --

                   i wouldn't be surprised
                   if we would need to work,
                   even two hours per day

       fuck -- sez i, shaking mi head now --

       i can't have that
       what would i do
       with the rest of my time
       except waste it
       in drugs and masturbation

                yes, yes, yes
                -- laughs mi landlord --
                i remember that one

       yes, you laughed at it then
       i think that's why i said it
       but us colleague didn't
       can you remember their reply

       -- and i turned to the wider group
          and said --

       they just looked me straight in the eyes
       and stately flatly --

           you need to pull your finger out

       -- i lift an index finger up
           and show the group --

       look, this is a finger out

            is that it
            -- enquired her cousin --
            your own finger, first
            you'd put your own finger first
            that is not very pleasant

      no i know
      and do you know what
      it wasn't really stuck any where
      to begin with, you know how it is
      i think many kids feel a strange pleasure sometime
      when they do a really big poo, but as you get older
      you tend to move on to other ones
      and i had reached majority ...

        well, that got her cousin laughing
        and mi landlord took the trouble
        to translate the jest to a some lads round
        over as refugees, good guitar players,

     -- i nod over to mi mate --

        how you getting on with the steinweg

                fixed und fertig
                -- replies mi mate --
                go on, tell the story
                where would you best
                like to place your hands

     ah, -- sez i --
     that held her cousin intrigued too
     but you never know, sometimes
     how bad someone's life can be
     or at least feel, and some of these refugees
     can have had it so shit, that they themselves have wished
     to be imprisoned away from this sick society
     one bloke stitched his lips together
     a couple of years ago
     did you see that one

     -- i shake mi head at mi mate --

                 it is no measure of health
                 to be well adjusted
                 to a profoundly sick society
                 -- sez mi mate --
                 jiddu krishnamurti

     hark at you sherlock

                -- mi mate lols, and sez --
                so what did you tell them

     -- i shake mi head --

     i don't think i've told you this one before

     ages ago, when we were working on the porter
     yor one who went up north
     rang me one day, she'd had petrol soaked rags
     pushed through her letter box

     who do you think's responsible -- i enquire --
     she names a bloke, and a possible reason
     it's personal, but the blokes a member
     of the b n p allegedly and she's worried
     he just may get his mates involved

      british fucking what
      -- sez i --
      if he is responsible,
      i'll learn that twat what it means to be fucking british
      i'll tattoo it on his forehead, backwards
      as an aide memoire

                 -- mi mate roars in laughter, and
                    continues --

                 apart from the swearing
                 you sound just like your brother

    -- i scratch mi head
       look at mi mate,
       and ask --

    did yor lot ever play war
    when you were kids
    did you ever knock on each other doors
    and say --
        is your fred or jacky in
         yeah, well we're gonna play war
          on the first field, in the woods
           or up in the courts
            are you coming
             rat, tat, tat, tat

                  no, it was discouraged
                  -- replies mi mate --

    yor lot
    -- i raise my eyes --

                 what lot
                 -- replies mi mate --

    how many working class mates
    do you have

                 apart from you

    yes, apart from me

                 -- mi mate just smirks and titters --

    yor lot
    -- sez i, shaking mi head --

    we use to play war loads when we were kids
    here, this is one of mi brother's
    just before we began a rematch

        can't we be the british this time
        -- said us opponents --

           no -- corrects mi brother --
           we are the british

        go on, can't we the british
        how come you always get to be the british

           just take a look at us
           -- barks mi brother --
           we are obliviously the british obviously

        well we don't want to be germans again
        -- would come the reply --

           well you don't have, do you
           why don't you join that crew over there
           they're the russians, go on, go on
           is that all sorted then
           are you united, good, because we are the wednesdays,
           let the battle commence
           ra tar, toe tat ....

   --  a little while later,
       mi mate come's back with
       noch zwei mal bier
       smiles, and sez --

                 how are you

    fine, just fine
    -- i smile back --

                 -- mi mate remains silent,
                 i start again after some time --

     when the lads got back from the war
     it wasn't all roses, do you know
     they're were loads of personal tragedies
     distance, fear, lack of contact, loneliness

      kids, i know a few stories
      where blokes demobbed back to more kids
      than they left with, stories i guess
      i know a few different ones mind

    -- i remain silent, still in my vague
       but heavilly pregnant state --

                 ah -- harks mi mate, and then
                       in imitation of accent and face
                       starts an old routine of a friend
                       of a friend --

               do you like my sister

   -- i lol, and name the lady
      who used to deliver it
      dressed in a silk shirt
      she claimed was the general garb
      of pimps, and those in thailand
      in particular --

       do you know on some contracts
       -- i sez to mi mate --
       it is rumoured that
       if your cabin's got a/c
       and room for another two
       even if it's only two little ones
       you can get them two little ones
       when ever you want,

       what a world

                 orphans -- nods mi mate --

       can you remember, i used to say
        in the same nonchalant manner
         i talked to that head teacher
          about metaphysical balances
       that it sempt to me, that kids
        somehow picked their own parents

                 -- mi mate nods --

       i think i was talking bollocks again

                 -- mi mates lols, then stops
                    and asks me about what i told
                    the party with the refugees --

      i stopped -- sez i, shaking mi head --
       didn't i, i turned around to mi landlord
        after barking that comment
         offering to rectify
          an apparent identity crisis
           in mirrored writing
            on the frontal lobe of the antagonist
             and state the name of mi welsh mate

      they were in the room at the time
      supping tea and jotting in a tabloid
      whence i began to bark and froth
      in to my end of the phone line

      i think it was the first time
      mi welsh mate had ever heard me bark

      -- i shake mi head
         at mi landlord --
      we din't have to much, did we
      not whilst us welsh mate was around

          no -- he replies --
          they usually got there first

     i know -- sez i --
     and i suspect they liked to bark in any case
     but on this occasion
     mi welsh mate just listened
     whilst i finished the phone call
     and then asked me calmly --

        what are you going to do

     -- i shuck mi head at mi welsh mate --

        listen, i only heard bits
        you can tell me it all if you wish
        but i don't need to know
        and maybe i'm not the best person to know
        but what ever you do
        don't tell this crew here about it
        -- sez mi welsh mate
           nodding out the cabin door --
        at least until you know
        what you're going to do, or
        at least until i'm with you

     -- i stared at mi welsh mate
        who stared right back
        and then barked --

          we are owed many favours on this job
          too fucking many to be honest

          -- then quieter --
          don't let this crew know
           the best of them, would sort it out
           and wouldn't tell you, and then
           there are others, who'd let you know
           and try and take a piece of you

             -- mi landlord laughed
                i think more in recognition
                of us welsh mate's tonalities --

                   who did you tell

     i told us work colleague
     i thought they'd have a file
     on stuff like this

      but they didn't
      but they knew some one who did
      the night after
      i met this some one, at a broad left meeting
      down the don in the river side pub

        informed activist, gave me statistics
        phone numbers of active anti fascists

        we chatted bits, i shut off at the politics
        and watched this big old bloke barking away
        at various groups, angry but friendly
        bouncing off, some point or other

         it's all wrong you know
         -- this bloke kept saying
            until he began to froth --

        well you know what am like
         the more he barks
          the more i giggle
           until he comes over
            and barks at me

             what you laughing for
              -- sez he --
             it is all wrong you know

       i know -- sez i --

             then what you laughing for
             -- sez he --

       a dunno
       why do you do
       what you do
       -- sez i replying --

             they need to see it
             -- sez he --

       see what
       -- sez i --

             the emotion
             i used to be a fucking miner
             am not going to let them forget

      -- i'm not giggling any more
         and i say to this bloke --

      do you do this often

             yes, all the fucking time
             -- sez he --

      oh, don't you have a love life

             -- and this bloke just towers above me
                and sez --

                are you slow timing me cunt

      nayow auld luv -- sez i --
      am not, am not slow timing any cunt
      a just wondered how tha kept it up
      that's all, r tha keeps body and soul together,
      it must be hard work

                yeah, it is cock -- sez he --
                too fucking hard sometimes

      i smoke -- sez i to he
                 and role another fag --

      but i dunt know
      whether it's an oral fixation
      or it just gives me something to do
      with mi hands

               -- well the old bloke laughed
                  and sat with us for a bit --

       if it's any consolation
       -- offers us colleague
          after a few moments
          of contemplation--
       marx wrote blah, and this means blah
       so we sure to see blah, and at some point blah
       the world will be a very different place

              no -- barks the big old bloke
                    to us colleague --
              it's of no fucking consolation
              what so ever

                 -- and then he turns on me
                    and barks --

              do you know what i'd like to do with my hands
              to relieve the stress of both myself
              and the vast billions of folk world wide

        no -- sez i --

                 -- he stands up, teks of his coat
                    rolls it up, in to a very tight bundle,
                    and holding it sez --

              to listen to your mates' talk
              they reckon capital's on it's death bed
              and it's just a matter of time, listen
              this is one cunt, that really does deserves to die
              if it's really in as bad a shape as you say
              don't mess around lads, put it out of it's misery ...

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