Archive for April, 2011


They say no-one can get inside your mind.  Bullshit.  They’ve been inside mine so often there’s nothing left .

Suffer In Me. Suffer With Me. Through Suffering Alone Shall
Ye Find Redemption. The Kingdom of the Mind is the Ladder to
the Stars. Post-hippy bullshit of the purest ray serene, piped
out at a precisely calculated assimilation rate on a frequency
even my brain can’t black out. Sense-enhancers to stop me fighting it. And an authentic InnerLife program – one of  thousands – to verify my enlightenment ratio. Get your head  round that, sis. Or whatever.  Fact is, brain matter’s in short supply around here. Even such lowgrade matter as mine has to be refined and  recycled. Twenty years ago – inasmuch as time still matters  nowadays – we did something, don’t ask me what, split  the wrong atom, shifted the wrong antigen, pressed the  wrong button, screwed with Cosmic Forces and infected *™  the species. Result? Near-total wipeout. I was mostly out of  my skull at the time so I wasn’t taking much notice, and nowadays I’m out of my skull all the time. I was Chosen. You too, perhaps. Yippee.

Punters pass me by without a glance. They are wholesome,
noisy, red-faced, parting around me to merge again
into a hot river. In my time amongst the narrow streets and
the Whitby fogs I’ve almost forgotten how healthy the
living can be. And yet there’s something about them all, a
kind of family resemblance. Something a little too bright,
too glowing to be real. I remember the old familiar holidaymakers
in Whitby, the thin young people in black, their
sad, strained faces, their greyness, their dull expressions.
None of these people are dull, all of them touched with a
lustre I begin to recognize . . . The ruddy complexions. The
sagging waistlines. The open faces. The brimming illusion of
life. So this is where they go, the wrong sort; pushed here by
market forces. This is where they belong, among the bright
lights and the arcades, the fish shops and roller coasters.
Indistinguishable from the real thing. Better, some might
say. Never dying, never changing: cheery holidaymakers
on a trip that never ends. Slowly I pick myself up and
head back through the crowd that gluts the pier. Heads
turn to follow me. Delicate fingers flutter against my skin.
Dimly I wonder how many of them there are, by how many
they outnumber the living. Ten to one? A hundred? A  thousand? Or are they now so many that they prey on each other, bloodlessly, greedily, shoulder to shoulder in rough,
grinning comradeship?  The lights of the pleasure beach are gaudy as a fisherman’s
lure skipping across the dark water. Life, they promise. Heat and life. Too weak to wander far from that  distant hope, I make my way wearily back towards them,
trying not to meet myself along the way; just another sucker  slouching back down the long dark road to Bethlehem.
In these days of Botox, body piercing and failed cosmetic surgery,
it is tempting to fantasize about other times and places, which we
think of as being more romantic than our own. Dream on. 
IT WASN The UNTIL I CAME TO COURT THAT I REALIZED HOW much rich people stink. If anything, the rich more so than  the poor; in the country, at least, we have less excuse for  not washing. Here, to have a bath is to disrupt everything.
The water must be heated, then carried up to the room
with sponges, brushes, perfumes, towels and countless other
impedimenta; not to mention the bath itself- cast-iron and
heavy – which must be brought out of storage, cleaned of
rust, then dragged by footmen up countless flights of stairs
to Madame’s boudoir.  There she waits, en deshabillee.

But Madame is wealthy; her household boasts so much
linen that her maids need wash it only once a year, on the
flat black stones of the laveraie, by the bank of the Seine. It
is September now, and the linen room is only half full; even
so, the growling musk of Madame’s intimates carries up the
steps, across the corridor and into the morning-room, where
even four vases of cut flowers and a hanging pomander fail
to mask the stench.  Nevertheless, Madame is a famous beauty. Men have
written sonnets to her eyes, which are exceptional, so I am
told. The same cannot be said of her rotten teeth, however;
or indeed of her eyebrows, which are fashionably shaven,
being replaced by mouse-skin replicas, stuck with fish’glue
to the centre of her forehead. Fortunately the smell of the
fish-glue is slight, compared with the rest, and does not
disturb her. Why should it? Monseigneur uses the same aids
to beauty, and he is one of the most highly regarded gentlemen
of fashion of the Court. The King himself (no rose
garden, His Majesty) says so.

‘Kennedy?’ That had been his name, long ago. But he’d
thrown it away with the rest of his life: with his notebooks
and stories, his films and comics.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not man the less, but Nature more,

From these our interviews, in which I steal

From all I may be, or have been before,

To mingle with the Universe, and feel

What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.