Issue #67 - February 13th - 19th 2004
Love And War
Fashion, Perception And Idiocy - Mainstream Radio Today
The long lost diary of Miss S L Gleaden (part 18)
Thank You, Baby
The See Word
Love and War
The tensions in the pub were getting higher. Any minute now someone was going to crack.
"Donít do it..." Annie touched the back of Terryís arm. "For me, please, leave it." She could tell without looking that he wore a fierce expression, eyes trained like a hawk on the crowd at the bar. Just one word and she feared that she would never restrain him.
"So, tell me.." It was Gareth. It had to be. He turned, swaggering arrogance for the onlooking ladies and his friends. Big fish in a small town. He didnít get to finish.
"Terry!" Annie floundered in his wake, feeling ridiculous, feeling betrayed. "Stop it! No! Terry! Leave him! Itís not worth it!"
There was other shouting, mostly egging them on, her only support came from the barmaid, "Now come on, the pair of you! Out! Out! Out!"
With a viciousness which she didnít recognize in her man, Annie watched Terry lay in a punch which finally floored his opponent. She screamed out an incoherent flood of words, which must have made sense somewhere, but which she neither formed in her mind before speaking nor heard properly. She was staring at him above her words, trying to see him beneath that mask of fury and violence. She knew, as everyone knew, that he wouldnít, couldnít stop now. Gareth was on the floor and Terry had never let that stop him before.
But he stopped. He straightened and turned. Not even a kick, not even a final retort. Annie wasnít sure if he was walking towards her or the door, because they were in the same direction, but she needed to get him back. She gushed out,
Terry allowed himself to be touched. Annie cupped his bicep in her hand, feeling the solidness of the blood pumping within. It frightened her, though her lips were pursed and a veneer of calm anger cased her features. They walked side by side to the door and none could say who led. They strode out in silence, right up the lane and around the corner. Only then did she look at him.
His head was bowed, like a child awaiting trouble, but his fists were clenched full of rage. She didnít know how to react, her heart pounded too hard. She saw blood on his face and a glance couldnít evaluate the look in his eyes. She was honest,
"I promised you." Softly spoken, no emotion revealed either way.
"Thank you anyway." She wanted to say, 'how dare you start...' but she was afraid. She didnít want to be afraid of him. He was her heart, her soul; she wore his ring and he hers. She loved him and right now, she didnít know him. "Iím scared youíre going to go down."
"None of them will call the police."
"Terry! Thatís not the point!" Annieís anger burst over her unbidden, winning over tenderness and fear. "For crying out loud! You could have walked away!"
"Iím sorry." He was too, for her, but not for the fight; not for giving in. He was sorry for now and for having to face her after that.
"Itís going to open up a whole can of worms again. Heís going to have to retaliate; youíre going to have to defend yourself; and in the middle of it all is..." Annie fought the urge to slap him. She wondered at herself for it, preaching pacifism with a slap. She kept her hand pushed deep into her pocket, then realized how tightly she gripped him with the other. "Iím sorry. I shouldnít have pushed you to go in there."
"In the middle of it all is what?" Terry risked a glance up at her now and she saw at once that he was scared too, just more quietly, and with more defences to hide it.
"Me." She softened, holding his gaze. "I donít want to be scared to walk the streets in case someone takes me out to get at you. I donít want to be worried stupid when youíre out of my sight. I want..." She shrugged, "normality."
There was a scream back from the direction in which theyíd come. High-pitched, a womanís scream. The couple froze and stared at each other, no longer at odds, but together for that moment in time.
She tore her hand down to grab at his and to hold it tight,
Another scream and this time there were voices raised in anger. Annie fought the urge to run back herself, though neither of them knew who was hurting. He bit his lip,
But it could be one of their own.
"Oh!" Annieís hand fluttered to her mouth. "I donít know what to do!"
"We could just go to the corner and look." He was so softly spoken, so calm. This wasnít the raging Terry from the pub, this was her husband.
Sheíd watched him change before into someone who she couldnít reach. He still had the blood dripping from his mouth and chin.
"Donít go back." Annie stated, decisively. "Stay here. Stay here." She reached up with her hand and wiped at his face, trying to erase the hurt. Her thumb played circles on his entwined hand. She held him. In the distance, drawing near, came the sound of sirens. She smiled reassurances at him. "Let them handle it. Donít let them take you from me. Stay with me."
She felt Terry soften, heard him exhale and saw the knowledge reach his mind that he wouldnít be going back to the fight. He leaned into her and Annie met him with a kiss, reaching to stroke his hair, keeping him close.
Both a whisper and a millennia away, Aphrodite sat back, smiling smugly at Ares. He glowered at the board, growling his frustration at the check.
Pandora was impressed.
"Iíve never been able to pull that one off! Give me the dice!"
She focussed on the couple standing in the streetlampís soft glow, and cast her die.
Fashion, Perception And Idiocy - Mainstream Radio Today
Feeling flush I decided to buy some books from the amazon.com. Normally Iím not all that good at choosing books. However, on this occasion I had a whole list of book titles that other people had mentioned, or by authors I already liked, or that I had lost in the great boyfriend split of 2002. In the end I decided that seeing as how I would have to pay postage unless I spent more than £25, I bought 5 books. A few weeks later the books arrived. It was great. A whole big stack of them all new and shiny.
The thinnest book of all was Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. This was the replacement book. The one that he got when we parted company. I didnít really feel like reading it but I just wanted to own it again for the days that I would. Its been a favourite of mine ever since that afternoon we sat drinking red wine while he read to me but that is beside the point.
The back cover the three of the four remaining books bore reference to either J D Salinger or Catcher in the Rye.
"A new age Salinger on smart drugs" said one, "..into the blender with a jigger of (catcher in the) rye..." said another, "a coming of age tale in the tradition of catcher in the rye" said the third. This struck me as funny because the books did not feel like either catcher in the rye, or any other JD Salinger that I have ever read. I mean I suppose there was some similarity there somewhere but I had to look so hard to see it. However I only looked for the link because someone had told me it was there.
These days art of all kinds is neatly packaged and pigeonholed before it is sold to the public. The selling of the "product" is considered carefully. Not only does the advertising campaign have to apply to product itself but it has to be related to everything that is already out there. The reason for this is simple. Why spend time and money persuading a person that they like one type of music, book only to turn around and present them with a choice of something completely different that they might like too? That would only undo the hard work spent advertising the previous item.
This classification of art is highlighted in the music industry. Music has the ability to change the way a person looks at life. It gives a person an identity, a niche in society where theyíll feel safe, part of something. Theyíll spend money to belong and keep on spending to keep on belonging.
You know that saying:
"United we stand, divided we fall"?
The mainstream music industry thrives of the notion that given time just about any song can worm its way into a personís head. Once it is there not only will it make a safe home for its self but for other songs of a similar nature. Naturally songs, which donít fit the current trend, are rejected. Offer people a choice of music and youíd have chaos! Suddenly people would be looking around, realising that there is more than one place for them. Perhaps even a better place. Who on earth would give people what they really want? It just doesnít make sense.
So why am I writing this? I think the main reason is because I donít fit into the mainstream in any way shape or form. This may seem snobbish and self-righteous but in my defence I would have to say I didnít really choose this lifestyle. I was pushed.
I have tried to fit in. When I was younger I tried hard. I listened to the radio so that I could understand what my friends were talking about, I tried to follow fashion, I tried to blend into the shadows but do you know what? It just didnít work. It would have been like telling a lie. So I bought into a different way of life, a different niche, and a place that felt more like home. Suddenly I found songs, which said what I wanted them to say, and friends who I genuinely understood.
The music industry as it stands will never serve people properly. People are different and all have different needs. One band canít mean everything to everyone but it doesnít need to; there are a multitude of different bands in the world and people deserve to be able to experiment freely, without finding that the band/book/or whatever else has been put neatly into a box for them. Until the people in charge of promoting music realise that their own perception on music is not infallible, the general public will continue to be served a very unhealthy unbalanced diet of music.
This essay was written in response to a diary entry taken from this site.
The long lost diary of Miss S L Gleaden
The diary of Miss S L Gleaden had peacefully travelled the world with the dippy but loveable adventurer. Its life had been interesting and slightly unpredictable, but no matter where it was S L Gleaden provided a safe corner in her rucksack. Until that is insisted that the pair should part company catapulting the diary into a whirlwind of bizarre and slightly random situations and as a result it found its way into the hands of the Rosemary Hill an English nurse who had emigrated to New Zealand in the mid 1980s.
The blurry eyed Rosemary Hill felt confused as she looked at the delicately decorated purple guestroom in which she awoke. Everything about the room was unfamiliar and it took many moments of opening and shutting her eyes before she finally understood where she was and how she had got there. Pieces fitted into place gradually. She'd found a diary, lost a diary, decided to take a plane to find the owner of the diary. Ahh it was clear she was in South London, at her best friend's house.
Rosemary' whole body ached longed to stay in bed, her eyes were still heavy and her brain was telling her that it was the middle of the night rather than 9.15 on a Monday morning but she couldn't sleep, she had the serious business of tracking down Miss S L Gleaden.
Rosemary could remember writing down the phone number of St Joseph's School. She could even remember the pen that she had used to do it and the notebook in which is was written, but it took her long time to remember which compartment of her suitcase she had packed that notebook, and by the time she had done so the various contents of her case were strewn around the bedroom.
It was funny how out of place they looked, in England, Rosemary thought. If they could talk Rosemary was sure they'd be speaking an entirely different language to native objects in the room.
After repacking her case, Rosemary tip-toed to the phone. She wasn't exactly sure why she tiptoed, except that she always felt awkward in someone else's home when they weren't there.
A stiff, starchy voice answered the phone.
"St Joseph's School of Excellence, How may I help you?"
Rosemary faltered. She hadn't really thought this conversation through. The voice on the other end of the line didn't sound like it belonged to a person of patience and understanding. Rosemary ummed and ahhed for a while before the voice cut in.
"Well spit it out young lady. I don't have time to waste with dilly-dallying"
"sorry" mumbled Rosemary who was beginning to feel as though she was 13 instead of 43. "I'm looking for someone who I believe was a pupil at your school. Its for a documentary about err... "
Rosemary's brain whirred until it hit upon the only fact that she knew about S L Gleaden's time at St Josephs... The re-timetabling of the school using a 25 hour clock.
Rosemary could audibly detect a sharp intake of breath, from the other end of the line, as she spoke the words.
"You will be referring to Miss S L Gleaden I presume" replied voice of a person who may or may not have just sucked on a lemon.
"Yes" replied rosemary brightly
"Well I'm afraid I can't help you. You better call back at 2.47pm and ask to speak to the head master."
A curt goodbye and a click of a phone going dead and Rosemary returned to her rightful age. Questions raced in her head, why 2.47? how would she deal with the headmaster? And were they talking about the same S L Gleaden?
Rosemary set her alarm clock for 2.27 and gratefully returned to bed to await the answers...
to be continued...
Thank You, Baby
Gary and Carmichael surveyed the wreckage of last night. A leather boot still
wedged itself amidst the shattered glass of the coffee table. nother leather
boot sat at an angle on top of the television, with a bouquet of carnations
hanging out of the top of it. A vase lay broken on the floor.
A There seemed to
be some kind of cooking program on the T.V, until closer inspection revealed it
to be a stainless steel toaster and the remnants of a takeaway taking the place
of the actual screen which lay, not far from the vase, in countless pieces on
the floor. Gary's wedding suit lay over the stereo, burnt from a suave beige to
a crisp brown cinder. The stereo, bizarrely, remained untouched, although they
had noticed that 'Thank You Baby, For Making Someday Come So Soon' by Shania
Twain repeated itself incessantly.
They looked at each other, looked back at the remnants of the room, and burst
This is how it was with Gary and Carmichael. In a bubble of their own. Other people came and went but somehow they remained, somehow they got used to the ebb and flow, the tides against you as much as they are with you. Never sure of their place in the world, but sure of it in their world, their bubble.
"Think she'll be back?"
The See Word
You first caught my eye when you refused to move for the bullies. You stood on the corner, fists clenched through fear or exhilaration, and, when they asked you to get out of their way, you looked them square in the eye, and simply said "no."
You were my best friend then, and you still are. When they tried to kick your head in, I was first on the scene; a couple of junior haymakers and a kick I learned from the Saturday afternoon wrestling, and we had them beat, scattered like victims at the bombing of the Embassies, or like sweet sweet birds in the garden that we chased with a rake. We had them beat, and they knew it.
They knew it.
We didn't terrorise anyone. We ruled the school not with a rod of iron but with the milk of human kindness. Delegation was the name of the game. We delegated everything to everyone else just so that we could be left alone to dream of fenders and twin towers, charming men and the smack of leather. We left the girls well alone which, conversely, meant that they never left us alone.
We were 'sensitive', and kind, and blessed with Monty's looks, although they never did say if that was before or after the stroke. Still, most girls liked us, but the ones we wanted, the interesting ones, were as much out of our diffident reach as we were out of theirs. They talked of art with the cool air of reverence, name-checking next weeks big thing, aware when brown was the new black and when red was the new black and when green was so last season, and it was always important for them to be one step ahead of the flabby masses; they thought of all art as a relic, as something out of reach of the ordinary copulating estate whores and hordes. We, on the other hand, we never thought of art, of books, of music and of literature, we never sat down and consciously thought about the stuff. We loved it too much to waste our time thinking about it.
Still, we thought these girls who thought about art must know something that we don't know, and our nights would be spent listening to a man talking about the time he spent kissing under iron bridges, drinking your fathers Special Brew, and masturbating on biscuits, dreaming of the girls that knew much more than you or I.
Years later, we got close to them. Somehow or another, we had lied and contrived our way into a party just off Canal Street. We substituted dishwashing for a degree, and covered our racks in fiction. We talked, at first, to the other boys. All they seemed to want to know was what degree we were taking and what school we went to. It was easy enough to lie. So we did.
But talking about what degree we were taking and what school we went to is hardly a onversational masterpiece, and as the liquor kicked its merry heels back, we moved onto the girls, and they, too, asked us about our schools and our degrees, until you got sick of it and said "doesn't anybody want to talk about some fuckin' art?". Silence. Seemed that no-one wanted to talk about art.
And then someone said "it's not fuckin' art. It's art." And when I said "fuck off you cunt" one of the girls audibly gasped and said that she'd prefer not to hear that word as it demeans the female, and then you said to her "don't talk to me about demeaning people you stuck-up cow" at which point we were asked to leave, which was fine. We'd seen enough.
We walked out, took a right onto Station Road and into the Hope and Anchor. The beer flowed like honey for the soul. We didn't drown our sorrows that night- we toasted our great escape. And the girl you called a cunt is probably married now to some other cunt with a couple of baby cunts called Hope and Josh, and they probably live in a giant cunt of a house and earn a cuntload of money, which is fine, it is the way of the world and all that, they can have all of that because at the end of it all, when all's said and done, you were my best friend then, and you still are.