Monday, 31 January 2011


It afflicts; the plasmic silence when the Spotify playlist has run, the thumbnail recommendations replacing song, and you can see with what face I am looking back at the laptop on the bed, here at the windowsill, thinking whereabouts on the soil I should buck my cigarette butt, having bloomed an arm through a hingeful of air, put out the flame on the house wall, a blow of ash, a reaction to flash photography, now calling that moon a bluff and that rascal star a buttress, now the light of the laptop failing to persuade wings out of the cold, no wings in so new a year:
yesterday a seagull tottered to a standstill, eyed food, decided not to drive on, interrogated old vomit.

There were two professors, or conversationalists, in the first chapter of the novel I am in. I always double check blurbs when I queue at Smiths; the publisher promised three professors. This story is about three people. Okay.

And yet the first block of writing, put above the debutant asterisk, is not so. The first words are an aloof conversation between two people only. Two professors.

I thought: One person must be late, or dead. Apparently it is a woman, and her absence is worth an excavation. I am reading the end of the novel on its first page. I am certain I am reading the book as though it were a manga, or a tempting fortune tale, counting down pages, sirening green bottles into accidental free fall. But all the pages are numbered, in tact, white, ready for a quick turn. Was this a father or brother's holiday-read from years ago? I start to speak at myself, speaking words out of the windowsill. Stop thinking about loose ends.

The Three Professors

'No, you read too far into what happens later.'
'Later? So are you saying it is her childhood? That something happened early on and might have been brushed under the carpet?'
'I am. She did not like the idea of a mother or a father. She essayed at length on supervision and sex. And in her eight hundred poems, mothers and fathers are never mentioned. The closest she comes is: I lived under an extraordinary roof.'

I forgot to say earlier, that there are other blocks of writing in the pages before; before the story begins moving forwards, and after the end has trespassed there.

These other blocks of writing were for 

Praise, Publishing Houses and For.

My For dedication is to Those Women Who Said: No: Condescending To My Mouth: Terrified Of My Ears.

I will leave the window dehiscent, bent out, to freshen my bedroom, and I have to go and soap my fingers, cut their nails, turn more pages.

Don't steal anything, please. I will be in the bathroom.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Kenny Dalglish? Whatever.

Hillsbrough is not going to have any impact on Liverpool climbing the Barclays Premier League table in 2011. It needs to be put this bluntly. It takes incredible patience or stupidity to watch and read about Dalglish and how he understands Liverpool, everyday. For instance, do the fans really believe that Rafa Benitez, who had never played or lived in England, understood Liverpool better than Roy Hodgson in his first four months at the club? I have become so sceptical that I'm sure if Liverpool do finish in the bottom half of the table, it will be Hodgson or the former owners who take the blame.

Imagine if Arsenal had demanded this ingredient: a sense of club history. For stylistic reasons alone, Wenger would never have come to England and pushed football forwards. Or, more importantly, consider Barcelona. In 1973, had a certain Dutchman decided Catalonia wasn't for him, we would not see Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta or Messi in the same todaylight.

I would like to think Liverpool's genuine supporters (including many of my friends) are those who, despite being proud to sing on the Kop, recognise how boring and embarrassing the club's obsession with itself is. I love the flags, I love Xabi Alonso, I love Marcus Babbel. And I find it hard to watch documentaries about, and footage of, the tragedy without red eyes. But is there really any need for this reeking shit of media current? Am I really being harsh or am I even allowed to be harsh, in bringing up Hillsbrough? Or does the quality of the squad and its dumb tactical deployment over the past sixteen months have more to do with their league position than Lucas Leiva not being told what it means to wear the shirt?

When Spurs were in the relegation zone not so long ago, it was for footballing reasons. Pascal Chimbonda was standing at centre back while the porous pairing of Didier Zokora and Jermain Jenas couldn't distribute the ball in midfield. Our most talented players were either injured or off-form. Gareth Bale's career was being stultified since it was fashionable to describe him as a 'wing back' - dependable neither at left back nor left midfied. It is my opinion, and the opinion of many fans afraid to speak it, that stories about Walter Tull or John White, or even visits to terminally ill children in hospital, would not have addressed Zokora and Jenas's discipline or helped Gomes to settle. Nor would said emo strategy have eased the demands on Darren Bent, busily adapting to playing in a pair instead of as a lone striker. If our results had picked up after some kind of emotinal spa, this wouldn't mean anything anyway. The truth is always on the pitch, and the English Press, rather like Liverpool Football Club, has an unhealthy fascination with what happens away from it. Look no further than videos of David Beckham training at Spurs Lodge - a potential loan signing to inspire younger players, coming off the bench to improve Peter Crouch's statistics and Spurs' attacking set pieces. This almost-story should be worth a couple of hundred words in the Sport. Dalglish's, a little more.

There is no southern writer's bias going on here. I remember being surrounded by and joining in with Liverpool fans, jumping up and down, wearing a Carragher shirt and singing when they won the Champions League on the most powerful night in my football-life to date. (Admittedly, I probably went too far.) Liverpool are a club struggling to uphold a world famous legacy. They are carrying the burden of an inadequate stadium, an overrall dismal record this century with sponsors, and much disastrous business in the transfer market. What Kenny Dalglish has inherited, this time around, is a mid-table team. One that last season's most successful mid-table-team manager could do nothing to improve. Albeit in four months.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Unsleepily tired in these thousands of words,
I am not an essayist.

Would I were upbeat, hurtling from a promenade,
Waiting to leave behind me a ten-year-old's reckless footprints
In Dorset sand.
This opportunity, only and readily in dreams,
Is inspired by a strange-smelling photograph.
Any one of many relatives lifts the heaviness of the album,
Once a year
The lightness of the photograph,
In a hurry from the shelf,
And forwards what is really a poem into the hands of one who made me,
Who paid for the print.

Unsteadily, I don't remember this image.
But this is always going to happen.
I don't remember not being an image.

I'm not sure how much longer this can continue for.

If the world were globelessly flat,
Before Christ,
I would row out from an ocean-threatened city,
Pray to a mermaid,
And fall from the farthest explored salt water
Into a new nowhere.

When the tide retreats, I look and see a leather ball coming to a stop,
Spitting out gold crystals.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Independent

After I take a shit, I think I might go out for a smoke in the light rain, so I flash my pass to security and next the revolving doors have my quieter brain clunking. A policeman, tilting a rifle, is checking for something under his car - kittens they used to tell my friend in Northern Ireland - when Peter Hitchens walks past and I remember how on my iPod, in my pocket, his name sometimes falls across the screen (if only a torch had a fragrance!) on the buses where I escape to that famous debate. And in this moment I want to take it up with him, everything, and try to defend his brother's title without whom my own words are even less firm. But I don't have the fortitude. I tell Samantha, who is on the phone and is interested in how my day is going, I have to go, I have to go, and I can't help myself. I do a shopworn performance for Mr Hitchens. 

Peter Hitchens: Hi

Intern: Hi, I just want to say I'm a big fan of your writing. (This is partially a lie.)

Peter Hitchens: Thank you, sorry I didn't catch your name?

*Intern says a name and tells Hitchens he is on a placement at The Independent.

Peter Hitchens: Well don't tell them you were talking to me then!

Intern: Well, Happy christmas and a Merry new year. And the best of luck to your brother also. (This I mean and, though I fucked up with Happy and Merry, I feel alarmingly tall just getting the words out.)

Peter Hitchens: Thank you, I appreciate that. Good luck. (This might be his turn at dishonesty: After all I'm standing there, damaging my lungs, speaking dull word after wrong word, and my name has already been forgotten.)

Peter Hitchens walks away in an important coat, and as he turns the corner of Derry Street and wrings into the invisibility of High Street Kensington, I recognise a smallness: About my hands, my ability. In spite of my excitement, a fictional writer writes me some nonfiction: You have been a third hand on a plain clock. Now fuck off and face the marble wall

The next afternoon, the editor of the Sport is outside, beside me, which should start a far more important dialogue. It is an opportunity as opposed to a surprise. But I always preferred surprises to opportunities.

He lights a manually rolled brown cigarette. He notices the same polieceman, and the arms that are impossible to bid farewell to. Terror is on everyone's agenda. It is a singular agenda. It wants to drown a plural intelligence. The editor of the Sport, running his fingers over his lips, then blowing over his ordinary, Arsenal mug of tea, says he will put my name in the paper. I forget about anything else for ten minutes.

Now it is January and on my last day I'm awfully hungover. I text Sean on whose squalid balcony, open to London city, I had stood in the spectacularly early morning reading the scorecard for the final Ashes Test through a window. Cricket is a childhood event, and for this reason it has to be taken very seriously.

I'm spying on Film & Music bods. I translate my stale reflection in the brilliant water cooler, into an idea. I will go home and whatever happens I have to blog about my experience at The Independent and what it means to me and how the future's mask is a fat, sweating, plastic face. What the future holds is in trouble. Then I sit back down, do a task, mull over a boringness.

Where you have to return to is the bookshelf. (As with a bathroom light, or the kitchen drawer in whose darkness the cutlery doesn't glint.) I have read many essays and works of fiction about narcissism.

How absolutely unremarkable this is - my little name, a talking centimetre, used to wrap fish and chips in. No, this is where the work is done: here. This entry is for the reader whose name is also a little unlarge; whom I don't have to love, but want to; who follows despite impatience. Thank you. Merry New Year.