Colin Birtles is stuck in traffic

Colin Birtles is stuck in traffic, or more to the point, stuck in his car, in a queue, at a service station, idling his engine, with other unfortunates, in traffic, victims all of a garish advertising sign offering a fuel price discount, pock marked on the side of the road, with all the other pock marks, blathering the health benefits of Gatorade, the communication benefits of a mobile phone, or the freedom offered by the latest Jeep.

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The Boy with the Broken Arm

One wet, cold September night some years ago now, a boy was born. It was late, his father, a veterinary surgeon, was out tending to another birth, a cow, in a time when it was hardly expected that a father would be in attendance for the birth of his child, he would be much more likely to be asleep, or having drinks with friends, than with his wife about to give birth.

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Theodore Claw

What was meant to be an evening of conviviality amongst friends and acquaintances amidst the deep furnishings, large squashy cushions, paintings and dark woollen wall hangings from Turkey in the living room lined by book shelves containing manuscripts and novels, texts and biographies of those who pleaded to have their stories told, along with the red wines and cheeses of the local providors for measured complimentary consumption and the lives of those living their tangents of intellectual depth and meaning, their day jobs ranging from sitting in cubicles muttering onto spreadsheets, to manual realities sprung from twenty years of schooling to finally be put on the day shift, turned into something else when a randomly chosen line from a randomly chosen page from a randomly chosen book pulled from the shelf behind them somehow turned this gathering of like minds into a sirocco of subdued antipathy and enveloping rage.

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My Mother Played Liszt

My mother played Liszt. Not the transposed for modern players Liszt but the original bastard’s manuscripts that he didn’t want women to play, or anyone else for that matter, so betoken was he to his own musical genius. She was taken, my mother, I think, by his obsession with making the piano, the instrument that she devoted her life to, the life force of the musical world. She tackled Dante and Faust as Liszt might have done. Stubborn old cow (if you’re allowed to call your mother an ‘old cow’).

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Lulu

Lulu sat on the edge of her bed and contemplated it, before she started slashing. And so the violence began, controlled violence though it was, down the arms, across the chest, down the back of legs; none of it designed to inflict real damage but enough to draw attention to the inalienable fact that Lulu wanted someone to listen to her. She lay down on her bed, with the razor blade between the bed and herself and gently allowed it to penetrate the skin of her shoulders as well, just to emphasise the point. She then sat on the edge of her bed and stared at the razor, with it between her legs, and decided that she’d had enough, for now.

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How has it come to this

It was a woman at the checkout buying coconut oil. She had put it in her bag, with all the other groceries she was purchasing when she noticed that the seal on the bottle underneath the screw top lid containing the coconut oil had come lose.

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Who stole the time

I was approaching, in my car, some months ago, one of those ubiquitous discount fuel outlets that have become symbolic of our consumer age. As I had a voucher handy I decided that I should probably refuel.

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How will Sir be paying

– And how will Sir be paying?
– I beg your pardon?
– At the risk of incurring the considerable wrath of my dear grandmother, who would remind me that I must never be required to repeat myself, I must, on this occasion, risking her shouting from her grave, repeat my question. How will Sir be paying?

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Notes from the road

Caravan Parks. Classes don’t so much merge, as congregate there. Images of atmospheric smoke induced fellowship. Joy in green cans and littered superlatives. Smirks between crooked weathered tram lines suggesting paradise is at my doorstep.

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