Monday, 17 December 2007

Peckham and an acute feeling of repulsion and pity

We went to go see a good 'ol holiday season blockbuster on Saturday night. It seems like an appropriate thing to do when feeling gritty on the inside from a fairly debauched evening the night before. We drove to the Peckham multiplex because once inside it is a nice, spacious cinema and, above all, it is cheap and convenient. I don't like Peckham, or at least the bits I've seen. This is not snobbish. The level(s) on which I find Peckham offensive are purely down to the basic senses; smell, taste and most of all sight. On previous ill-conceived journeys through Peckham, I have consistently felt the urge to be sick all over its greasy pavements, littered with the oily bones of fried chickens. There are many, many butchers stalls in Peckham, which seem to be unrefrigerated. The stench of slowly deteriorating meat is choking, and in the summer, the air is thick with insects thriving off the rot. There are fish markets and fried chicken shops in between the meat markets, and these varying odours come together in a terrific cacophony of stench.

Anyway, on this occasion, we had heard about free parking at the back of the cinema. Having on our last trip gotten a 50 quid parking fine, we decided that to investigate free parking would be a safer option. We drove round to find a five storey car park glowing in the dark with the shadow-swallowing light of a hundred flourescent tubes. A sign beside the entrance said that free parking for the cinema was available on floor five. Being cautious we decided to do what the sign says and circled through the deserted car park up to the fifth floor. It felt like we were driving through the weathered remains of the skeleton of a massive, prehistoric beast. We parked our car next to the only other car there and headed for the lifts. There were three elevators, and we waited patiently for one to admit us. Having pressed a scuffed looking button we heard much groaning and mechanical misfiring before the middle elevators grim mouth gaped open before us, as though silently screaming. Inside it was gloomy (most of the lights were out) and cold. The walls looked as though they had been attacked with keys. The doors shut, and in the darkness I felt I had been swallowed. The doors shut and nothing happened. Pj tried pressing buttons and seeing him press the buttons repeatedly without anything happening immediately made me panic and I leapt at the "open doors" button. Thankfully the doors complied and groaned open. I was out of there like a cat out of a bag. I headed straight for the stairwell overwhelmed by a false sense of relief. Pj laughed behind me.

The stairwell like the rest of that ruined building, was bare concrete and strip lighting. We descended one floor and could see shadows pooling around the corner. The light was out on that floor. On the convex mirror on the wall ahead I noticed a shape on the stair. As I turned the corner I found its living reflection, slumped against the concrete, in the dark. It was a junkie who had obviously sought out the most lonely dark place in the world, this bare, bitterly cold stairwell. His trousers were pulled down to his knees, revealing blueish white thighs. There was a small needle sticking straight out of his fleshless inner thigh. His face was covered in a red beard. somewhere between the hat and the beard were a pair of blue watery eyes atop gaunt cheekbones. The eyes looked like they were fixed on a distant point behind us. Just watching back at us, like we were characters on a movie screen. I stopped on the second stair and Pj stood behind me. "Let's not go this way."

I walked straight passed Pj still stood on the landing and walked briskly back to the car. Very briskly and purposefully. Pj followed me and as we got back to the car, Pj giggled and I whined "Please can we get out of here." We got back in the car and circled back down. We parked outside.
We laughed as if to shake off the image of that bare thigh. We grimaced and laughed. All the way through that family blockbuster I felt those fish-like eyes staring back. It was sick.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Gerald the Half Fish.

Gerald is only half a fish
with a three second memory
on a serving dish.
he has no tail
but he has got a face
so he knows he's Gerald
he's Gerald the plaice.
He's got a modest fish brain
with which to ponder
why he persists
in living longer.
he feels an absence
where his tail used to be
filled with organs and bones
and arteries.
every three seconds
Gerald reaches a conclusion
for being half a fish
he can have no illusions;
for him -
is not to reason why!
for him -
is just to do and die.

I'm going to illustrate this and give it to kids at christmas.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Dogs in Hats and Something Fictitious.

Walking up out of the ground from the Tube station today, I saw a woman in front of me put up her umbrella. The wind immediately whipped it upside down and it smacked to the floor, and drove the wind almost maliciously into her face. The squat fat woman fretted and two large hulking builders laughed loudly as they walked by. The woman glanced back at them peevishly as she righted her umbrella, but just as they passed they said "did you see that dog?" and as their laddish hollering faded I looked up and realised that I had a picture of a dog wearing a hat on my umbrella.

Also -
"The cat dashed across the dirt road and leapt the fence.I screamed at Tom to get the cat, to get the fucking cat, as shots misfired behind me and the car squealed and stalled. He looked back over his shoulder briefly and then turned to run. The rifle looked heavy by his side and he ran, lumbering close to the ground round the corner and out of sight. Left and right of me stood rusted cars and rusted houses, all tumbling earthwards with the steady downward draw of decay. I sensed a presence behind the windows, but nothing moved, like a parade of comatose faces. I staggered and then stopped running and bent close to the dirt, so I could smell it as it baked in the noonday heat. I felt the sweat on my neck and thought I might die here. Crouched close to the ground I looked back over my shoulder at my father-in-law behind the wheel of the battered VW at the end of the street. The rifle poked up next to him and the pieces of the dog I loved bound up in plastic bags on the back seat. He gripped the wheel tightly and he looked at one moment confused, and the next angry. I saw Tom's back as he vaulted onto a shambolic patio where a table was set with ruined, week-old dinners. Flies hummed and hung like clouds, while stringy looking birds pecked at the road where insects writhed through the dust, aiding and thriving off the pervasive decay. He disappeared through the patio doors and emerged again a second later with the frantic cat clawing at his grip. Rifle in one hand he ran behind the house and a second later appeared across the street. I ran to him and he pushed the cat towards me and we both ran as fast as we could down the street away from the car and the volatile madness it could barely contain. He held the rifle and I gripped the squirming fur and claws close to my chest and we ran away filled with fear and rage."