Saturday, December 26, 2015


Who is that man with greying hair, who enters alone, appendix to the flock finds a pew unoccupied in the South Aisle, restricted of view, does not kneel or seem to know the patterns of worship, says "no" to collection by simpering and showing an empty hand, appears baffled when the faithful are invited to extend peace, and then keeps staring throughout the final hymn, surprised, pensive, at the back of the head of the woman who turned around to shake his hand?

I am that man.

Yearly, the squire calls at my house, exhorts continued fealty

By renewing my subscription to the parish magazine.
Dearly dunned, and by no compulsion other than my frailty,
I have come to this service at midnight, grateful for the screen

Of ramified arches. I nearly stayed at home.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Document of Vehement Verbigeration

"Ooh aah Cantona": stifling a curse, I tend to say this when I am physically hurt in a child's company (reserved for modest pain, e.g. on burning myself on a baking tray, snagging my hand on a thorn or stubbing my toe on a bed leg).

"ZZ Top": I say this when, for the last time, exhausted and exasperated, I tell the kids to go to bed, reinforcing the command with a non-verbal cue (with my elbows on the axle of my abdomen, swivelling my arms to point my fingers in the direction of their bedroom).

"Oh Matron": something I say in a sordid manner when I am finally going to the toilet after holding it in for too long.

"Ooh Crosse and Blackwell": I invariably say this when I am in the process of fitting either myself or my car through a narrow opening.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


In my career as a sound engineer, such as it was, I worked on two episodes of a TV show with a person who habitually and pompously steered every conversation round to his preferred discipline, in this case oenology. I once mentioned to him that I grew up in Cambridge, and he reacted to my words like they were chewy tannin. Swilling my folly, splurging it didactically back into a spittoon, he briskly got me thinking that perhaps I didn't grow up there after all; and I learned that the Anchor pub is not in fact on Silver Street, and that red wine is kept in obfusc bottles.

Inner speech is accompanied by muscular movements in the larynx; cogito-glot.
I suffer in-ear, each morning, each morning, translating myself, and when sleep's gussets blot

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

December's Decals

Creepy-crawly Decal

I discover blood in my underwear between voidings. I make an appointment to see my doctor. He gives me a sample bottle to fill. Furtively, I slip it, unlabelled, into the pocket of someone on the school run.

Perturbation Decal

An old lady stops walking. Her hands and legs flare outwards, abducted like a skydiver’s. I am watching her from my car. She is clinging to a web, wrapping her prey in fine silk, feeding herself in scoops, and then, resiled, resumes when the gust of wind that must have fixed her abates.