Monthly Archives: July 2012

An Adulterous Metaphor

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So here we are again. It’s been a while since I blogged and I feel as though I have been unfaithful to the practice. Although I began life as a blogger I have recently found pastures new and ventured into the world of vlogging. In essence how I feel about vlogging can only be likened to one cheating on a perfectly good wife with a saucy new mistress. And I love it. Vlogging that is, not necessarily adultery. Metaphors surrounding adultery yes, but not the practice itself. As always I digress.

However keeping with my motto (and the motto of many) of “the world has moved on” I decided to move on once again and recreate my blog so that it was compelling enough for not only my old friends to enjoy, but to hopefully inspire the ever loving eye of many new readers. So again to use a wonderfully adulterous metaphor – I didn’t find my wife attractive any more so I gave her a make over in a vain effort to make me want to be with her again. And you know what? I think it worked.

There is something invigoratingly organic about writing your thoughts down on a page and it’s something that I have always been compelled to do but in between the novels and shorts, the poems and prose, the endless lists and letters, I lost my appetite for good old fashioned rambling of the textual kind. But I am back now. And I have never been happier to be so.

So my friends, enjoy the old and await the new and always thank you for reading what I choose to write.

Long days and pleasant nights.

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The Piano Has Been Drinking Poetics

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Q – What’s my type? A – “Dark bearded men! That write and don’t care what they look like! I’m talking philosophical, Tom Waits the piano has been drinking poetics!”

Whilst discussing all be it a hypothetical break from my usual type of man, I asked one of my best friends just what she thought my type was, as she was so convinced that the man I was describing was far too away from my idea of “perfection”. The above answer is word for word what she answered and it got me thinking that maybe that is where I have been going wrong. Searching for a man that I know, on the basis of their very character, are going to be eratic, egotistical and sombre – three things that I have come to expect from my experiences with these kind of men.But then again isn’t this what I love about them? I like the sporadic way their minds work, the tilt they take the world in through and that humbling sense of confusion that they radiate through their alcohol soaked pours. I revel in the fact that they read books, reall genuine hard to handle books, that expand their creativity and mould their absolutely ludicrous thought patterns. You never know what they are going to say, what subject of conversation is going to come up or who they are going to put on the record player. It feels – liberating.

Then again there is a draw back to these men, something that they all hold in common and something again that I have noticed after being married (and subsequently seperated) from one – that a hell of a lot of musicians hold in common – they lack sincerity. They read those books because it fits their style, they drink whiskey not because they like it but because its what their idols drink, they grow beards not because they have no need to shave it but because it suits the clothes that they seem not to think about wearing, when in actual fact a lot of thought goes into looking like they do not care. They play their instruments and sing their songs not because of a genuine love of the art, a way of expressing their thoughts or perpetuating their experiences, but simply because it is seen as an attractive skill to have.

I have met a lot of good, genuine “bohemian”, “beatnik”, “hippie” whatever you want to call them, people but sadly they are few and far between. It seems that the very people you think are unique, always have a way of turning out to be a dime a dozen, with their eyes set on the stars because in all reality it is simply closer than the moon. I don’t want a star chaser to sing me songs in the small hours of the morning, or croon to me over the empties whilst listening to forgotten jazz that neither of us really enjoy.

I want a moon man. I want a man who wakes up in the morning and knows that there is something beyond the stars, beyond the countless ways you can sell your soul to seek reprise quickly and effortlessly. I do not know what these moon men look like, I do not know if in fact they have beards, or write poetry, or listen to Tom Waits but I know that I am not asking for much. A man, simple in his complexity who believes in peace rather than love. Who is not constricted by Hallmark connotations of romance but not so liberal as to assume that romance does not matter.

It appears to me I need a break from the afore mentioned men that my friend (who knows me far too well for either of our benefit) and I both know are part of the problem rather than the solution. I am in no hurry. I have a perfect partner who knows me better than anyone else in the world and whom I love so much it hurts. Who every moment I spend with feels like peace and who when touches my face helps me find my heaven. They do not call me sweetheart, sugar, darling or baby – she calls me Mummy.

My Life – According to Bob Dylan

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I agree with the Christians – there is only one God – he’s a Jewish folk singer named Bob

 

In this piece of inane bullshit I will give you a run down of my favorite Dylan songs – the ones that have made me laugh, made me angry, made me cry and made me lose my voice – but most importantly made me who I am and in turn a massive Dylan fan or as we like to be referred to as – a Dylanologist. It is easier to go through his albums chronologically so my apologies if you get confused.

Song to Woody – Bob Dylan – 1962 –
 This song ultimatly reminds me of my daughter. When she was first born (and I was shamelessly trying to weane her onto Dylan as I did when she was in utero) I used to play and sing this song to her. To this day it makes me smile, his voice is so pure and untarnished. You can sense the hope in this song, a hope that you can argue was met or dismissed. Still one of the best songs he has ever sang and one of his first ever to be released.

Oxford Town – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – 1963 – The first year of sixth form college when I was sitting on the train in the beaming sunshine listening to this on my iPod and reading about civil rights in my history textbook. I put two and two together and realised what he was singing about. A revelation to this day I am still glad I had. Amazing song with some of his best vocal work of all his albums.

To Ramona – Another Side of Bob Dylan – 1964 – I remember being incredibly stoned as I mostly was when I was fifteen and coming home from school. This album had arrived through the post and I went upstairs and put it on. The moment I heard the lyrics “Its all just a dream babe, a vacuum a scheme babe, that sucks you into feeling like this” I was officially in love. This song is mine and Bobs ❤

Boots of Spanish Leather – The Times They Are A-Changin’- 1964
 This song (regrettably) reminds me of my ex-husband as it became the song I used to listen to at seven o’clock in the morning waiting for my train, staring at the same row of houses as the winter sun crept up behind them. He went to South Africa about three days after we officially became “something” and I do not think to this day I have ever felt a longing for someone/something before or since then. This song helped me through but is really hard to listen to now without crying.

Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream – Bringing It All Back Home – 1965 – This had to be on this list man. It was my ring tone for nearly four years! I remember the first time I sang it from beginning to end I found myself almost pausing for applause in my bedroom and then laughing as much as Dylan does at the beginning. Its one of those truly original songs that tells a story only the true Dylanologists understand! Quintessential Bob 🙂

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – Highway 61 Revisited – 1965 –
 This bad boy really helped me hone my Dylan drone 🙂 I love singing it and have done at least once a week since the first time I heard it. Best memory of it though would have to be sitting in Cyprus watching the sun set over the mountains and almost screaming it off of the balcony of my Nan’s house to a host of confused Cypriote people walking past!

Visions of Johanna – Blonde on Blonde – 1966 – Although this album is held in high esteem I must say that this song is my favorite. Best memory would be waking up one summer slicked with sweat at some ridiculous hour like five thirty in the afternoon. I clicked this album round and skipped it straight to number three and turned it all the way up. My Mum started banging on the door for me to turn it down and when she opened it she looked at me, with my eyes closed and a roll up in my hand, mouthing the words and looking slightly worse for wear. She left quite abruptly.

I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight – John Wesley Harding – 1967 – One of his more gentle numbers I used to listen to this one while I was cooking most of the time. It reminds me of one particularly nice Thai red curry I made when I came home from college one day. It always seems to make its way into my ears when there is food on the agenda.

Girl From The North Country – Nashville Skyline – 1969 – Those of you who know me well enough will know that I do not particularly like this album but I do own it and have listened to it from time to time. This is one of the only songs that I like from it and it reminds me of a rather dark chapter in my young life that I indulge my memory in from time to time. If I am listening to this song – I am feeling sorry for myself. However I must add that it is better than any antidepressant on the market … kinda 🙂

If Not For You – New Morning – 1970 – Again not one of my favorite albums but this is one of my favorite Dylan songs. Again a loose and romantic number, but I find it easy to listen to Bob telling me how much he loves me 🙂 (crazy much?!?) I remember playing DX Ball all night with my brother listening to this album when I first got it – he was not too impressed with any of it but I found a few diamonds, including this one.

She Belongs To Me – Self-Portrait – 1970 – I love this song and the live version on this album has always had a place in my heart. Memory associated to it would have to be when reading (and trying to understand) The Discourse(s) of Jean Jaques Rosseau. I think I never noticed how bad the album was until I stopped exuding all my energy on one of the only books I have ever had to read four times to understand any of it!

Its Alright Ma – Before The Flood – 1974 – The first time I saw Dylan I cried when I heard him sing this song. Whenever I hear it performed live as is on this amazing album I feel those butterflies coming back into my stomach and its comforting. You want to know what hysteria is? A sixteen year old Unknown Hobo twenty minutes before seeing Dylan live …

You Angel You – Planet Waves – 1974 – One of his best love songs that reminds me of the summer. I got hideously drunk and serenaded my cousin outside a pub while listening to this song on my MP3 player and in turn seduced a man who became a lot to me … and subsequently nothing. The memory of that night and this song however will always have a good place in my heart.

Idiot Wind – Blood On The Tracks – 1975 – This is without a doubt my favorite Dylan album! However with all the songs meaning something me this one is special because I was excluded from my secondary school (for two weeks!)  when I was about fourteen or so for writing “You’re an idiot man, its a wonder that you still know how to breathe” in permanent marker on my head of years office door. They did not guess it was Dylan so I silently took credit for one of the best “I hate you” songs in the world!

Isis – Desire – 1976 – This song is legendary! The first song I ever learnt to play on the guitar (and tambourine!) and still one of my favorite. A magical story line and one of Bob’s best videos … I melt for a man in greas paint with a flower in his hat!

Shelter From The Storm – Hard Rain – 1976 – A song from my favorite Dylan album performed on my favorite ever live album. This song reminds me of my exhusband and I (after a few too many late nights) wearing flannel and trying to light a barbeque in the rain. It did not work but this song blared from the speakers of the living room and we left the doors open all day. The neighbours were confused and we were stoned and in love. Good times.

Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) – Street Legal – 1978 – I first saw Masked and Anonymous some time before 2005 in my little brothers bedroom because his was the only room with any reception. It was near the beginning of my extreme infatuation with Dylan and during a rather heart breaking run in the movie this song sweept through the tinny speakers and cut a nook in my heart, where it sits and stays. In my opinion one of his best songs … period.

Gotta Serve Somebody – Slow Train Coming – 1979 – The first week I had my first real computer this album had just arrived in the post. I remember the excitement of unpeeling those black blocks from their boxes and this song coming on. While I played around (until the early hours of the morning) with it this album played on a loop – much to the disapproval of my family and my neighbours, but true love perseveres!

Every Grain of Sand – Shot of Love – 1981 – My favorite memory of this song is a time when the song was not even playing! I took my little brother to his first real concert, which was surprisingly Dylan, and there was a, lets say mentally compromised, man standing behind us whom throughout the show continually shouted “Every Grain of Sand!” at the stage. My brother and I both found it hysterically amusing and when we got home I played the song to my brother and he agreed that Bob should have bloody played it!

Jokerman – Infidels – 1983 – The lyrics to this song, from beginning to end, were written on my desk as a teenager. I remember watching the video on YouTube and making my friends, who were normal teenage girls who did not find old men attractive, watch for the line in the video when he says “You know what he wants” because he done this thing with his eyes that made me swoon. Good memories 🙂

I’ll Remember You – Empire Burlesque – 1985 – This is one of my favorite Dylan songs and again became so whilst watching the movie Masked and Anonymous. I have not listened to it in five years and even though I listen to the rest of the album almost every week, this song is always skipped. I am saving it for the darkest of days when Dylan returns to God and I am left alone. Its sacred like that 🙂

Knockin’ On Heavens Door – Dylan and the Dead – 1988 – The two greatest musicians Dylan and Garcia coming together and singing THE best version of this widely covered song. Its fucking Dylan and the Dead, do I need to say more?

Most of the Time – Oh Mercy – 1989 – I don’t know why but not many people have this album. It is one of my favorites but I suppose it depends if you like politcal Bob or heart broken Bob … I like them both in equal measure and this is one of the best heart break songs that I have ever heard and still struggle not to knot up when I listen to it.

Make You Feel My Love – Time Out Of Mind – 1997 – It was the ninth of October. I was hungover. I had missed college. I met my exhusband a week later. I had no skin left on the right side of my leg. It was cold and grey. The house was quiet until this song crept out of my speakers. I sat still in the greyness of the evening when I had woken up. My friend was still asleep in my bed. It started to rain. I started to cry.

Mississippi – Love and Theft – 2001 – This album again is very underrated but one of my favorites. I love his voice in this song in particular though and when I came out hospital with a no from the doctor in regards to returning to college I got a job in a supermarket. I used to listen to this album in the car as my Mum dropped me off and it still calms me down when I am nervous.

Someday Baby – Modern Times – 2006 – I was supposed to be going out with my friends that night but when I got home and saw the album sitting on the doorstep I ran upstairs and plugged the world away. I sat, I listened and I loved. Best memory of this song is sitting in the car with my Nan complaining about my Mums car, smiling to myself as she spoke to me without knowing that I could not hear a word she was saying, and just kept nodding. Ignorance is even more blissful when you have Dylan to accompany you!

So that is it … there are a lot more songs in between but I have tried to give you one off of most of the albums I own. I hope you listen to the ones you haven’t heard, buy the albums you haven’t got and join the wonderful (all be it eccentric) world of the Dylanologist.

An Arsehole and An Angel

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I can count on one hand the things that make me genuinely happy at this stage in my life man. There are a million and one things that I hate, loathe, despise – pick your superlatives ladies and gentlemen but anyway you swing it – the things that make me clench my fists outweigh the things that make me high five 🙂 

I hate it when just as you pick up the phone it stops ringing. I hate the self service check out at Tesco. I hate it when my head phones are wet and they slip out of my ears. I hate the way my fringe hangs in my eyes after I have washed my hair. I hate the way my jaw clicks when I chew. I hate it when I have my tobacco in my hand but cannot find adequate papers. I hate when I lose my place when I am reading. I hate adverts. I hate little scene kids with those stupid side lip piercings that listen to Fall Out Boy and actually think that their lyrics are anything other than pretentious. I hate people who assume I smoke pot because of the way I look. I hate organised – well organised anything really. I hate people who give money to animal charities when there are kids living in bins as well as kittens. I hate it when the snow falls directly in my eyes. I hate the way my bag slips off my shoulder. I hate how my socks always have holes in them. I hate it when I leave my tea too long and it over brews. I hate it when people save up what they hate about YOU and throw it back at you. I hate it when I go to push a chair back and it doesn’t move. I hate it when I bite my tongue. I hate it when people take the piss out of the way I talk. I hate the fact that I say man after everything, man. I hate the reasons why I am the way I am. I hate where I am today and was yesterday. I hate that I cannot give my daughter the world, which is the least she deserves for having the parents she has. I hate that he never calls me back. I hate it when I go upstairs and forget what I wanted. I hate being in cars. I hate it when people try to control other peoples lives. I hate not being able to help the people that need my help the most. I hate it when I can’t sleep. I hate the fact that I have more prescriptions than a pensioner. I hate how rough round the edges I am. I hate the way I am compared to everyone else. I hate the way people choose to hate me. I hate people in general. 

I love the autumn. I love my terrible singing voice. I love to dance like a lunatic. I love making pancakes. I love walking. I love the way people smile at me when I walk past them in the street. I love it when people say please and thank you. I love it when you don’t have to queue. I love really cheesy country love songs. I love the smell of dusty vinyl sleeves. I love talking to my best friend on the phone for hours about complete shit. I love doing things that other people don’t. I love that I still wear clothes I wore when I was ten. I love that I never really change. I love that I am loved by few and but needed by many. I love my name. I love the way my daughters hair smells. I love splashing in puddles and getting dirty. I love being outside. I love laughing until I have cramps in my lungs. I love rocking out in the car with my girls and not going anywhere, just driving and screaming randomly. I love what a complete and utter cunt I am sometimes. I love the in jokes I have with my brother and my sister. I love the look my Ma gives us when we do something wrong, like we are still two years old and don’t know that fire is hot. I love punching people square in the jaw when I know they really deserve it. I love how people cry with me. I love my Yaka Yaka tree Farnsworth. I love the way my goldfishes tail looks in the sunlight. I love watching the trains go past by my window. I love it when I am wearing my Iron Man t-shirt and little kids shout “Iron Man!” when I walk past them. I love how the rain makes the grass smell. I love that moment just before I fall asleep when it feels like the world is made of honey and I’m sinking through it. I love not having to lie anymore. 

But when its all said and done you only really need to love one thing in this world. When you have the one indescribably precious love, all the little things you hate become obsolete – they abondon your mind and seek solace in the background of you consciousness and somehow, everything seems little brighter without them. Thats how I feel when I’m with her. She breaks everything I think I know and rearranges the pieces in my mind in a way that makes their sharp edges kinder to my fragile psyche. 

She is my hero, my partner, my best friend, my angel, my nemesis, my daughter, my sole heir and my only reason for not giving up. She makes everyday worth it and every moment perfect even when I feel like I can’t breathe. And when she sleeps she does this thing where she rubs her nose and puts her thumb in her mouth and it kills me. Somtimes I think we both would have been better off without each other that she would have been better with a mother who wasn’t also insane and a father who, well knew how to be just so. 

I was taught that everything happens for a reason and as I get older I kinda think thats the case. People come into your life and whether they be a blessing or a curse, they leave behind something with you – whether it be love, hate, wisdom or hope – the scars or the smiles you remember them by are the only thing that will remain when they are gone. I wanna be remembered as I am. 

That is someone who burns with hatred and who never thinks twice about cutting you down. A complete and utter arsehole with the people skills of a peanut and the conscience of one too. Someone who never made you think it but always did believe in you. A person who never does anything without their entire heart. An incomplete, broken, unstable and imaginative human being who only ever did one good thing in their entire life and will be remembered fondly despite everything else for that one good thing. 

I don’t want to be remembered for who Ron was. I want to be remembered for who Molly became. She is my calling card, my saving grace and the only decent thing on this earth that I have ever had the luck or the joy to be a part of. She will either save the world with those chocolate eyes or she will destroy it with her temper, but either way people will remember me because at the end of it all – she is me. 

The only difference is – she’s a good person.

If Stephen King Wrote the Bible

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I remember sitting as a nine year old watching “The Miracle Maker” on the TV drinking banana milkshake with a killer ear ache. It was a BBC standard stop motion clay animation rendition of the resurrection of Christ intersplashed with pencil animation whenever a parable felt like cropping up. Ralph Fiennes voiced Jesus (and still to this day even as the Toothfairy in Red Dragon, he still sounds like Jesus to me) and the rest of the cast was unknown to me. I don’t know how I found it or why I became obsessed with it but I really did and am (to be honest) still quite obsessed with it, to the point that whenever someone even mentions Jesus I automatically think of that little clay man with the hint of Welsh in his voice that made me fall in love with the dude from Nazerath who probably sounded more like Osama Bin Laden than Ralph Fiennes. 

Every Easter as the pancakes and eggs come out I wonder whether it will come on the TV. My Ma tried to get me a copy when I was about sixteen but it was £40 from Amazon and she did not think it was worth parting with that amount of money for. Then as an adult when I had my own money, it mysteriously disappeared and I have never been able to find another copy and even though Jesus and I have been on better terms, there is something about that movie that rekindles the love that was snuffed out during those faithful “teenage” years. 

Most people look forward to Christmas but I cannot stand that time of year, for numerous reasons. Surely Christians would see more magic in his resurrection? Everyone is born, mortal or not, but it takes one gnarly dude to come back from the DEAD! People have a lot of misplaced feeling for Jesus and that’s where me and the Christians fell out all those years ago. 

There were enough people who were suprised when I had my daughter baptised because of my stance on religion but it has not always been the way it is now. I learned early on (having an Athiest for a father and a Pagan for a mother) that Christianity was not the only view point. I was also aware that I could draw what I wanted from the religion and leave what I did not want. So that’s exactly what I did. I took Jesus and the New Testament and I left behing his grumpy old dad and the vengeful Old Testament. I took his love, his wisdom and his endurance and threaded them through the fibres of my body but I never got ahead of myself and made him more than what he was – a character in one hell of a good book. 

I have always drawn inspiration and guidance from characters in books and I do not see any evidence proving that Jesus or his band of merry men should be put any higher than them. Mac from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest taught me that no matter how much they try to break you (and even when they eventually do break you) its the hell you give them along the way that really matters. Grenouille from Perfume showed me that even the most vile and sadistic people on this earth are more often than not beautifully misunderstood. Sherlock Holmes proved that if you look at even the most difficult problems from every possible angle you eventually meet the answer in the middle. Lisel from the Book Theif reminded me that a pure love of the written word can be a guiding light to anyone who finds themselves in darkness. 
  
And then there’s Roland … 

Just seeing his name written in front of me makes my stomach knot. It’s hard to describe to people just how much you can actually love a character in a book. But I do love him. More so than any rockstar or even the very man that created him and got me through everything I ever needed help to get through. He is my Jesus I guess. Everything about him from his bombadier blue eyes the colour of faded denim to his heat, his intensity, his callous and unconscious simplicity, his complete lack of humour and razor sharp tunnel vision – he is everything that Jesus SHOULD have been. 

If Stephen King had written the Bible Jesus would have been like Roland. He would have been ruthless in his goals with the stamina of a thousand men, uncomplicated by emotion and focused on duty. He would swear and cuss and smoke from a magical pouch that never ran out of tobacco. He would know everything that had been forgotten and would recall the days before the world moved on with a bitter nostalgia that would have made him resist every instance of happiness he happened to be faced with. He would have compromised anyone or anything to get to where he needed to be to do what he was put on this earth to do. He would have been the strongest man in the world. He would have lived for thousands of years and never noticably age. He would have chased the Devil like Roland chased the Man In Black. He would have wanted to travel alone and never wanted his followers, whether they were twelve normal men or a child, a heroin addict, a black woman with no legs and an animal that looked like a racoon. 

But along the way he would have learned those things that Jesus was born with that Roland was never gifted with as a younger man. He would have learned what it was like to love someone and know that it was your fault you lost them. Then he would have known the treasured glee when that person returned to him. He would have had to learn humility, patience and humour. He would have had to face the world as if he were alone and learn in time how good it felt to know that someone had your back after years of watching it by yourself. He would have captured the hearts of more than just lost people looking for answers with no effort required. He would have enslaved the minds of young and old because Roland Deschain has one key and integral difference with Jesus of Nazerath – 

Roland Deschain is real. He is your father when he is to busy to talk to you. He is the man who you walk past everyday on the street and wonder why he looks so sad. He is the argument you had with your best friend. He is the rain when it won’t give up. He is the sun when its so bright you think your corneas are literally going to melt. He is the blisters on the heels of your feet when all you can do is walk. He is the last flicker of light behind your eyes before you drift off to sleep. He is the croak in the back of your throat when you are singing too loudly and out of key. He is the feeling of your hand in the hand of the only person you ever want to hold hands with for the rest of your days. 

Jesus is none of those things. Jesus is a gimmick. Jesus is a dude that sells glittery trinkets of jovial emptiness at Christmas time. Jesus sells chocolate eggs at Easter time. People feel obliged to Jesus. You feel like you can walk all over him because he will always forgive you. You can find him whenever you want and leave him just as easily. He asks nothing of you and in turn very few give their all to him. He is weak, he is false and he is not Roland. 

If Stephen King had written the Bible we would have a messiah that was as flawed, as broken, as stubborn and as twisted as we all are. Jesus was not a human being, even if that had been God’s intention. Jesus was not and never was anything like anyone before or after him, so by that token never resembled human kind well enough to be called one of us. Roland is a human being. He is a human being with bombadier blue eyes the colour of faded jeans, with three fingers on his right hand, with a pain in his hip, with grey in his hair, with the thought patterns of a freight train, the memory of the seas and a heart as scarred as yours or mine. 

He is my messiah, my prophet, my father, my mentor, my husband, my best friend and my hero. He is everything that Jesus could never be.

Why Writer’s Hate You – Yeah You!

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You want to know why writers don’t like you? People who write don’t like people who do not write for one reason – they envy you.

 

They envy the musicians who take ten minutes to write a song, three minutes to sing it and live off of it for the rest of their lives. Musicians who play their guitars and make people melt, who recycle forgotten notions into meaningful lyrics and capture your heart and your soul with three chords and a couple of “ohs” and “yeahs”. The men and women that boys and girls want to be, they stick their faces to their walls and ask for that first guitar for their birhdays. The musicians that give the writers the inspiration and the drive to keep going even when their hands are weak and their eyes are tired. They envy the simplicity of it all. 

They envy the painters whose genius is so blatant. The painters who may spend years working on one piece that is valued and sold in a matter of moments. The painters whose work is flung to the four corners of the earth printed and re-printed time and time again until their images become part of our lives, spanning the generations and becoming immortal. The men and women who buy their work and place it on their walls with the highest esteem for everyone to effortlessly enjoy for the rest of their days. The painters that make their space brighter, whose work peels away layer by layer and gives the writers what they need from it everytime they look back, even when they think that they have gained all they can from it. They envy the stamina of it all. 

They envy the performers who capture their ear without even trying. The performers whose words radiate through the minds of the masses and inspire more than just original thought. The performers who change the world with a speech or a saying, whose words are their mark on the world at large without pen ever touching paper. The men and women who live by the words of these performers and quote them in their minds when the days are short and the nights are long. The performers who made the writers want to to write to begin with, whose words seemed all too eloquent for their hands not to want to elaborate on paper and immortalise them forever on parchment. They envy the legacy of it all. 

When you can play a guitar people flock to hear your songs. When you can paint a magnificent picture people climb over each other to get their hands on your work and show it off to the world. When you can inspire a generation of people, even when you are cold in the ground, your words never gather dust and your spirit never dissolves. There is nothing to envy about being a writer. The process of writing a book is not fast, its not catchy and when its done it cannot be fully appreciated in a matter of moments like a song, a painting or a speech can be. 

The written words demands the life of the author, but with that, it also demands your life as a reader. A book cannot reach you as fast as a song, as spectacularly as a painting or as hard as a speech. It asks for some of the time it took to write it in return for a much longer lasting relationship. If you ask someone who their favourite musician is you will get a thousand bands and artists. If you ask someone who their favourite painter is you will get random descriptions of images and lets say twenty names. If you ask someone who inspires them with their words you will again find quite a few names dropping at your feet. 

However were you to ask someone who their favourite author is you will see their face change slightly. Behind their eyes you will see them recanting the first book they read, the way it felt in their hands virgin and new, and then simultaneously the way its pillaged spine felt in those very same hands when it was finished. You will see them recalling to memory for that briefest of moments what was happening to them when that author came into their life and what that authors words helped them face or forget. A million memories will flood through their iris’ in that moment and if you have the resilience to search for that moment you will not be disappointed. 

Whether you would accept it or not writers do not like you because they rely on you. You can hear a song without choosing to put it on, in a car or a supermarket and slowly fall in love with it. You can see a painting in the lobby of a hotel or in the corridor at your school and begin to unpick in your mind. You can overhear someone speaking and form your opinions without ever having to engage with that person. You cannot accidentally read a book. A song can catch your attention with one drop in the bass, a painting with one flare of colour and a speech with one key phrase you cannot shake from your mind. Writers have to put their faith in you to carry on reading the book until it captures you, which could be on the first page, the thousandth page or never at all. 

So when writers tell you to fuck off because they need to concentrate or ignore you when you are speaking to them, intentionally or not, when they frustrate the living shit out of you because their minds are a million miles away from the water bill or what she said to him – remember that they hate you. They hate you without wanting to or even fully knowing the extent to which the hatred filters down through them. But my friends take solace in the fact that you are not the only people they hate – writers hate the world. 

Writers hate the world because it gets in the way of the one in their mind. The one that lives behind their eyes that they are duty bound to make so perfect, that when you eventually do get an invitation to join them inside of it – you will never want to leave. 

If you leave – we fail.

When I Dream of Fire

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It was dark and the house had no windows. Whether day light prevailed beyond the mortar that surrounded me I have no idea, but in the back of my mind I hoped it did. There was a rectangular glass case in front of my on a platform. As I approached it, the tank filled with water. I took a few steps back and inch by inch the water evaporated from the tank. I took a few steps forward and it returned, not falling from the ceiling or rising from the tank, but materialising as if from nothing.

With my nose practically touching the cool moist glass a key manifested within the water. It was larger than a normal key but no more ornate. As I watched it, it seemed to stand up, lifting itself with the help of the weightless water, until it stood on its narrow tip, the dull head now level with my eyes. The glass of the tank began to bulge and break, the water remaining shapeless and still.

As I brought my hand up to touch the glass the door behind me opened with a creak. I didn’t turn to see who it was. I couldn’t turn. The key was looking at me, begging me with all its heart to take it with me and not leave it trapped in the tank. My fingers grazed the glass,

“I wouldn’t do that. Not if you value that hand” The sound of his voice broke me and I fell to my knees. My eyes trained on the wooden floor below me, my finger tips digging into the soft, untreated oak. Tears started to speckle my view. I pulled my tired eyes from the floor and the tank was gone. The door behind me was closed. I felt as though the blood had stopped moving in my veins and the rhythm of my heart had been knocked off tempo.

I rose slowly, my ankles clicking. How long had I been on the floor? When I turned the door was still closed, its silence mocking me in the dark, damp room. I placed my hand tentatively on the handle, wincing slightly as if it were to burn. It didn’t burn. It levered evenly with a squeak and opened onto more darkness. I have never been afraid of the dark, but ran my entire life from the light. I slunk into the safety of the shadows, letting the door click closed behind me.

I could sense him everywhere. I could smell his body, the sweet, stale aroma of his sweat. I could hear his laugh, the beautiful sound of utter desperation masked with the bitter honesty of his smile. I saw his eyes in every nook of the corridor, glimmers of green and gold danced along the surface of the otherwise dull walls. Footsteps echoed and they were not my own, but for what felt like miles only the dimly corridor spanned my eye line.

Then a break in the hostile nothingness. An arch, not a doorway, now stood before me and resonating from beyond that arch way, a calm orange glow. As I drew closer to the arch way a burden of warmth engulfed my chest and tears once again broke out on my cold face. If I had tried to stop them, which I didn’t, I am sure I would have felt physical pain.

With one hand placed on each side of the arch way I hung my head and breathed from knees. The tears stopped momentarily but my face was still damp with their ghost as I stepped through the arch way. This room had a window but it was covered with boards, the ancestral slices of light cutting through the hot room and casting shadows upon the shadows.

A fire crackled neatly in the centre of the back wall. He was sitting with his body facing me but his head hung down as mine had been at the arch. I could feel his heart beat radiating through the room, clawing its way from the floor boards and up into my feet, then my legs and resting in my gut. The entire room smelt of him and as I searched for his face in the waltzing silhouettes the fire cast upon his body, I now saw that the fire did not glow orange, red or yellow, as one would suspect – but the palest shade of olive green and silken gold.

His face glanced up from the floor and his eyes met mine. He smiled and the whiteness of his teeth broke the air. We both knew our search had been killing us and the look in his eyes suggested that he was rather proud of the fact that once we had finished our hunt, we were both still breathing. He uncrossed his legs and stood, his boots in the fire. He held out his hand as one lock of thick hair wafted in front of his face.

Your Fears – Defined

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When someone says the word “define” to me my stomach knots. When it is followed by the ever faithful “in your own words” a bile sets into my mouth. Yet today, I was asked to do just that – to “define” horror, as a genre or otherwise, “in my own words”.

Up until that moment I had never thought of the definition of what has become throughout the course of my life one of the most influential and poignant tools to not only my writing but in turn, to my view of the world and its inhabitants.

Horror is widely perceived to offer the consumer one thing – cheap thrills. Anything deeper, or darker, than superficial (and mostly superfluous) entertainment usually brings about a completely different genre definition – Dracula for example. I would not define Dracula as horror, for the intimidating elements of Bram Stoker’s classic are not the defining characteristics of what has made it so timeless. It is erotic, thought provoking and two steps away from absurd at times. It’s the ultimate anti-hero tale that just so happens to be set against a spooky canvas with some devilish undertones.

Those of you who know me (and have read some of my rants on here) will be expecting one name to drop now – Stephen King. How you ask, can I write anything about, well anything, without somehow bringing the King into it? Well my friends, you know me well, because I am going to drop his name right now.

I do not perceive what the King writes to be “horror” in any traditional sense of the word, and those of you who are learned enough to have read beyond “It” and “Misery” will know why I say this. I can think of more books that the King has given us that have no supernatural elements whatsoever, that scarred my mind and played with my heart for longer than even his most sickly tales of textbook gore.

Three words – The Bachman Books. A compilation of stories published between 1977 and 1982 all of which are void of the standard boundaries of horror writing as we know it. (*Disclaimer – I refer to the four short stories published in the compilation The Bachman Books and do not include “Thinner” (1984) in the next series of statements (PS. Brackets inside brackets rock! :P)).

“Rage” (1977), “The Long Walk” (1979), “Roadwork” (1981) and “The Running Man” (1982) – These are my examples and if you have not read them, then you have no earthly business here so please move along, long days and pleasant nights to you J

For those of you that remain these stories are in my mind offer some of the most notable and defining characteristics of horror and still to this day haunt my mind from time to time like no others. They have no supernatural beings, no demons in hoods or inbred super humans with chainsaws – all they have is real people, in real (and some would say unthinkable) circumstances. Because at the end of if it all, is that not what we are afraid of most as human beings? The REAL horror?

We are told from the time we can remember that the things that scare us as children are A) not real or B) not threatening – or sometimes both. Therefore we starve that fear within ourselves and no longer as adults find the vampires, ghosts and ghouls of time gone by intimidating anymore. This is a double edged blade in many ways. It allows us to grow up (reasonably) well adjusted as an adult afraid of such childish notions is frowned upon – but the sharper side of that blade is that it desensitizes us to the things we SHOULD live in fear of and paints our world an shade of magnolia.

We should fear the ordinary, the mundane and the dreary that sap at our souls and eat away at our subconscious. We should fear each and everyday being the same, repetition leading to passivity. To be passive, about anything, is a disease. To be passive is to be dead on the inside, if not on the outside too. So we starve the fear of childhood and replace it with the fears of adulthood.

If you were to ask a grown man in the street which do you fear more – a dinosaur coming through your bedroom window and eating you and your wife while you sleep in your overpriced linens, OR lets say life strangling monetary debt? I cannot make any guarantees in this life, for I am not Yoda, but I would bet my breeches on the latter being more scary to anyone “normal” in this day and age.

One simple fact makes this so – debt is real, dinosaurs are not (sad face). Therefore you must ask yourself, as our fears change due to social, political, economical and a whole lot of other -cal unrest in the world, does this not in turn, change the definition of horror?

As adults we fear our cars not starting more than psychopathic clowns lurking in the bushes with razors for teeth. We fear maxing out our credit cards and then dealing with grossly inflated repayments, more so than we fear faceless monsters under our beds at night. We guard our houses with alarms and flashing lights to ward off burglars, feeling no need to have a barrage of crosses and garlic hanging by our front doors to ward off vampires.

The fear of a child is a beautiful, endearing and natural being that should be starved for the sanity of said child. As a person whom read her first King novel at the tender age of eleven, I can vouch for this. We forget that those children, whom starve their fears until they have no strength to scare them anymore, never quite have the ability to kill them completely. They therefore carry these fears into adulthood – that’s when it gets interesting.

Authors are duty bound to make you feel what they are portraying in their prose. To make someone swoon at a love story, cringe at a war crime, or feel empathy towards a lonely old spinster in a wedding dress – these emotions are easy to capture, as love, guilt, hurt, empathy – they are all emotions we are allowed to express as adults. Mummy and Daddy are however, not so easily entitled to fear as their children are.

To make Mummy and Daddy look over their shoulder when they are walking home from work, for fear of what lurks in the sewer grates beneath their feet, to make Mummy and Daddy get into bed before turning off the light at night, for fear of what may grab their bare feet from under the bed in the process – to make Mummy and Daddy’s hearts beat in their throat until they feel as though the bastard were physically trying to climb out of their mouths – this is the power of horror, because when it comes down to it, the things we are afraid of never change, just our willingness to address them.

If as a writer you can force people to address the things inside themselves that they forget they were afraid of so long ago, to make them look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves what they would do if they actually did find themselves in palaver with a clown with razors for teeth, you are in turn forcing them to question their own psyches and again, as a result – their own humanity.

To make a credit card seem small, to make a deadline at work seem frivolous, to render Christmas with the in-laws worry free, by replacing these fears with those childish notions of fright – to make an adult face that child within them – opens so many doors, the draught alone may cause a complete overhaul of that persons life. It has the power to change them.

If you are capable of doing this, then my friends you will have marked the earth for eternity, for when human beings die, they leave behind headstones but when legends pass on – they leave behind legacies, that long outlive even the stone that upon which the mere mortals of this world will all inevitably carve their epitaphs.

With An Adult’s Eyes and a Child’s Heart

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When I look back at my life as a (hopefully) old woman, I want to know that I did all the wrong things for all the right reasons. There are things I wanted five years ago that seem to me now, better left as pipe dreams, the ramblings of an over imaginative teenage mind. However, the dreams I do still possess would seem that way to most of you reading this were I to tell you what those dreams were, but in all honesty, have you achieved your dreams?

When you were a kid did you say to your friends –

I want a job where I sit behind a desk all day in a polyester uniform and fluorescent tubing illuminating the depravity of the stale magnolia room that I call my workplace. I want a nondescript dog with an equally pallid human name, because after all animals are my “babies”. I want to sit in traffic all morning listening to Traffic FM, looking out at all the other tired faces stuck in the rush. I want to mix all my liquor with lemonade because it is not acceptable in polite company to drink anything stronger than a beer without a mixer. I want to complain about how busy my life is, when in actual fact I lay awake at night with stomach cramps and tears in my throat, at the thought of how bitterly boring my life really is. I want to read nice books, watch nice films and wear nice clothes. I want to donate my three pound a month to charity and sleep better at night knowing that I am helping “the less fortunate”. I want to raise three blonde haired, blue eyed children who all end up with a degree, a car, a spouse of the opposite sex and three more identical children each, replicating the uniform of perfection for the generations to come. I want to paint my nails in neutral translucent polishes because anything other than that is garish and offensive to taste. I want to vote for the same politicians year after year because partisanship is what made this country great. I want to make love once or twice a week, always in my bed and always for a certain amount of time. I want to live for my package holidays in Spain where I can let my hair down for a couple of weeks and drink wine with my lunch. I want to drive a car that has more buttons and knobs that I know what to do with, but will turn heads when I pull up in the car park. I want to do all my shopping at farm stores and local venues, because I support my community. I want to hold my chin up high and give the youths that pass me wearing torn jeans and lip rings, my best “I’m-not-afraid-of-you” look. I want to wake up at half past five in the morning on a Sunday and trawl round car boot sales, to fill my house with other people’s unwanted shit. I don’t want to get involved in people’s problems and a fight on the street is none of my business. I want to be able to wear a Winnie The Pooh watch as a forty year old woman because Winnie The Pooh is timeless. I want the highlight of my year to be a meal round the table with the relatives that could make it, while the real pine Christmas tree sparkles in the corner of the room and no one finishes what they put on their plate. I want to live a long and happy life, knowing that I made ripples in the waters of life.

I want to be normal.

Kids never aim to do any of these things and yet the adults they evolve into seem to fall neatly into many of the beige compartments of conformity and why? Because your parents and their parents before them, know the dangers of making waves instead of ripples. They train you to reach for the stars and ignore what lies beyond it. They tell you that you need a job, a spouse and three perfectly formed children to match you perfectly formed people carrier that sits in its cradle outside your perfectly formed house. They do not train you in this way because they want you to be normal, heavens no.

They would love you to be the astronaut that occupied your vocational mind between the ages of five and six, or to actually be able to make a living from playing your twanging guitar – they would love you to be able to accomplish it because they too, would have wanted to be able to live that life. They do however, know more than you ever will, and by the time you leave home they only want one thing for you and it is not the stars, the fast cars or the endless mountains of cash – its security.

At the end of it all that’s all any parent wants for their children and if it means falling into the land of the beige and living a good, clean and honest life to achieve a low blood pressure and a calming existence then why wouldn’t a parent wish this life upon their children? I don’t care for my daughters blood pressure. I don’t care for the colour of her life. I don’t care for the money she will one day have in the bank. I don’t care if my daughter remains a rolling stone her entire life – I care about her heart.

If my daughter wakes up in the morning with a smile on her face, goes to bed at night with the same expression and does exactly what she wants to do in between I can honestly say I would sleep content in my old age knowing that she never gave in. I want her to bleed, to cry, to push and to writhe with want. I want her to want something that bad that she never gives up, that she keeps pushing through the mind numbing boredom of the beige compartments until she gets it. I don’t want her to settle for anything less than her childish notions of happiness, because at the end of it all – isn’t that when we are at our best?

Being an adult is an amazing time of life and the responsibilities that come with being an adult do nothing but enrich our outlook on the world. But if you can maintain the childish qualities of dream keeping and balance it with the adult duty of book keeping, if you can still comfortably climb a tree without fearing what other parents in the playground may think of you, if you can still build a fort in the living room on a Saturday morning with Pokemon on the television, eating toast wrapped in blankets without pausing for a moment to worry about what might stain and what might crease – then you have achieved as close to nirvana as one would dare to find in this century.

When push comes to shove all we want is to be happy and in turn its all we want for our children, but happiness does not come from a catalogue or in a pay cheque. True, unadulterated, fiercely beautiful happiness comes from one overlooked and underrated place within ourselves. It is a place that most forget is even contained inside us. There are people in the world who would kill to have this place etched out in their histories and in their blood and bone beings. It is the place that so many people before us fought and died to preserve and it is the only place that will bring you any real joy.

There is a place inside you that holds your freedom. Your freedom to do what you please, when you please and how you want to do it. See the world through your adult eyes – assess risks, pay bills, go to work, remember birthdays – but feel the world with a child’s heart. In between these places you will find yourself truly free and in return inexplicably and fundamentally happy.

When my daughter asks me what I want her to be when she grows up I will smile and touch her soft, curly brown hair. She will look at me like I have officially lost the last of my marbles when I respond –

“You.” If I have done my job correctly, she will understand exactly what I mean. I may even get a hug.

Why Sleep Scares Me

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There was literally nothing around me but hard, red dirt and cracks of endless dust tearing through the barren rock. The sky was as blue as I have ever seen it, the sun a chrysalis of frosted glass, hanging between clouds almost soft enough to taste. It was hot. It was far too hot to be a normal day and sweat spiked on the nape of my neck and dripped into my eyes. I wiped at them tenderly, they were dry and sore, the salty dampness just making them shriek in their sockets.

I knew that I was not alone, but I could not see anyone. So I started to walk, ignoring the intensity of the heat beating down on my body and cooking my flesh. I walked, the dust kicking up from my shoes and settling on my wet skin. I felt as though I were caked with dirt, my throat slick and scratchy. I could hear footsteps, small, scuffling footsteps. The footsteps of something too small to make noise, or something that did not have walking down to a fine art. I would find out that the footsteps belonged to both something small, and something unable to walk.

There was a building in the distance, not so far away that I could not identify it as an indoor swimming pool, but still far enough away not to be able to make out whether or not it was in operation. I focused my exhausted eyes on it and continued, one step after another, the way I always had. The scuffling noise returned and I turned hard enough on my heels to swirl a cocoon of dust around myself, momentarily disappearing into the redness of the air.

There was a strangled sound of gargling, as though someone were trying frantically to breathe through oil laced sea water. I could feel my heart beating in my mouth, when I realised at once that the strangled sound was actually coming from me. I tried to smile, the skin on my scorched lips cracking and allowing tiny runlets of copper coloured blood to rise to their surface. I licked tentatively as them, wincing back against the enormity of pain, but savouring the taste of anything in my mouth, even if it were my own blood.

Caught in the monotony of walking I did not notice the deep crack in front of me until I was at eye level with it. My head hit the hard pan with a sickening thud and for a moment the sky lost its azure allure and became a speckled black greyness that seemed to swamp straight into my bones. I rolled over onto my back and closed my eyes, a dizzying sense of becoming unravelled settled over me and I allowed it to take me.

When I opened my eyes I could see them coming towards me, slowly staggering, as though they did not have full command of their bodies. I want to say to you now that they were mutants, out there in the middle of nowhere, the left over products of a wasteful and even more hurtful society of experiments and forgotten mistakes. However as they drew closer I saw that they were not in fact mutants but children.

They were about seven or eight in total, but grouped together amidst such nothingness there may as well have been a hundred of them versus the one wounded me. They walked with their arms drawn into their chests, their wrists locked out at awkward angles, as though they were mimicking a praying mantis. Their feet pointed inwards, their hips slanted and the closer they came to me, I realised that they had no fingers or toes. It did not look as though they had been born without them, more so than that they had been forcibly removed.

It was their faces that made me get up and away. Their heads were cocked back like an angry pistol, their twisted grimaces of what could have been pain, but could just have easily have been pleasure, saluting the silence of the topaz sky. I now realised, with a gut wrenching certainty, that the noise I had heard before my face hit the floor, the gargling sound of strangled breath, was not coming from me after all. They were all trying to speak, but their words were dead before they could be born, as though their lungs were full of sand. Every single one of them was hideously sunburnt, to the point that their skin was peeled off in great, weeping welts all over their naked bodies.

I started to walk as fast as I physically could, knowing that if I had began to run I probably would have fainted. Instead I briskly broke through the air, creating a much need breeze against my sweltering face. They were drawing closer, in my head I was moving faster than I thought I was. I could not so much as hear them behind me, but feel them, as though the movement of their deformed feet dragging through the dust sent physical waves through the earth and up my legs.

The swimming pool was as close as it had ever been when I fell again, this time hitting my head hard enough to knock the wind out of me. I laid on the floor curled into a ball. I could feel their breath on me, hot and sour, like cabbage left in the sun to stagnate. Their eyes were the whitish blue of a blind man, and where the white should have been was blazing red. Blobs of dead black blood and hard green pus sat in the corner of those eyes. I now knew that they were not grimacing in pleasure, but in complete and irrevocable agony. A fingerless hand touched my face and I felt my heart physically break.

She could not have been older than seven, but her face was twisted and full of confusion. Her hair was blonde, hanging in dirty patches all over her head. Across her chest the skin had peeled away to bone on her ribs and in the unforgiving sun it glistened like a fish on the deck of a boat. She smelt of rotting earth and flesh – hot, decaying flesh, but something in her ethereal eyes made me want to save her. That same something inside myself told me that she, like the others, was beyond saving.

She leant in closer to me, her breath now almost too much to bare. Her eyes flickered back and forth over my face, as though she were trying desperately to see me clearer. A sticky, black tear lurched sluggishly down her cheek as I touched her face, my own vision starting to focus. As I lay there on my back, spitting distance from the swimming pool in the middle of the hard pan, a shot rang out and the girls head exploded across my face, a swatch of dirty blonde hair landing across my face. It smelt like a memory.

I laid there on the dark, hot hard pan and laughed. I laughed until the girls blood trickled into my mouth and down my throat. I laughed until I was physically sick all over myself, but still choking on the vomit, I laughed some more. The other children were retreating from the gun shot now and I could hear someone shouting in the distance for them to disperse. Someone said that their was a girl on the hard pan covered in blood. I laughed until I I passed out, but I did not fall into the blackness of unconsciousness, but the sacred, still blue of the first and last sky I ever remember seeing.