Sunday, 28 August 2016

A gale sluices the first fallen leaves along the gutter



A gale sluices the first fallen leaves along the gutter and the man with the screwed up face who is jogging into the wind barely overtakes me. Brake lights cast the gates of the park red and a cyclist pulls over to adjust his gaiters. 
In town, the rough sleeping couple have moved from their usual pitch in the doorway of the pawnbrokers to the more sheltered entrance of the strip club.
In the suburbs, a wood pigeon perches on top of the new LED street light and the tired chubby woman at the show home says ‘Hello’ with long, roadkill flat vowels, rising and falling in inflection either side of the ‘L’. 
I say good morning to the man with the silver earrings, unzipped gilet, grey goatee and rat-tail but he doesn’t reply.
I struggle to read the dull screen of my PDA and the security man at the factory gates asks me whether it was made in China. “I’ve no idea” I say.
“Nothing they make works. They’re rubbish!”
I point out that most of the manufacturing at his factory has famously been transferred to China over the last ten years. He looks sheepish, thinks for a moment and then says “All I’m saying is I’ve got a 1963 Massey Ferguson tractor and It still goes like new and it’s British made.”
On the TV monitor in the pro-shop at the golf club, a muscular American man with American hair and American teeth is playing golf in the sunshine with palm trees behind him and a heavy rock guitar soundtrack. He looks up at the camera to say he can’t believe how comfortable his trousers are. Meanwhile, the door to the shop opens and a short fat bald man with a grey moustache rustles in wearing a waterproof jacket and ill-judged shorts. He takes off the jacket, hangs it over the telly and wipes the rain off his glasses with a handkerchief.
It’s 11.30am and the smell of stewing meat pervades the estate of retired 1970s Britain. The narrow paths are cluttered with architectural features in UPVC. There are gates to open every couple of yards and redundant miniature porches that I have to walk backwards out of because there’s no room to turn around. There are unnecessary steps leading to raised beds of marigolds, box topiary, begonia, and there are swathes of hard-standing devoted solely to the display of miniature plastic fauna.
Two men are talking in the street. One wears his Hawaiian shirt untucked with the top two buttons undone, the other has brylcreem hair, heavy black plastic rimmed glasses, and a purple nylon shirt tucked in to grey polyester slacks. They are discussing their experiences of electrocardiography; “It makes your arm twitch, doesn’t it?”
Inside the house, a woman in a dinner-lady tabard sits watching Bargain Hunt with her right hand clasped idly around the handle of a vacuum cleaner.
Swallows gather eagerly on phone lines.

Monday, 15 August 2016

6:30 a.m. Light Drizzle



6:30 a.m. Light drizzle: The man in the pink T-shirt and distressed denim jeans blows his nose noisily while the jogger who is circumnavigating the pond in the park scatters frightened ducklings from their roost under the overhang of the edging stones.
Mr Bateman has a new no.9 on his front door. Unusually, he has decided not to remove the old brass one and has opted instead to fasten a new, slightly smaller (brass effect) plastic one directly over the top of it. From a distance the resulting collage is completely illegible.
The individual barcode stickers on each of the stone setts laid at the barn conversion a couple of years ago have finally worn away leaving dark rectangular stains where they once were.
The concierge with the Polyveldt shoes and black polo shirt says he hasn’t had a pay rise in 9 years. “I’m going to jack it in and have a couple of months in Goa” he says. “Champion!” exclaims the man in the grey flannels and Oxford shirt from deep inside his rose garden.
I round a corner into the back alley of the terrace. Two tanned men are kissing on a doorstep. Upon seeing me, the older of them says, “I’m his grandad, by the way” and the younger man—gold earrings and dressing gown—doubles over, laughing. “We’re not that way inclined,” reiterates the older man, irritated, “and if you are, then I sympathise!”
A few doors down, an angry woman in a sari brandishes a yard brush at her neighbour:
“Keep your fucking children under fucking control!” she screams, “Fucking leave me a-fucking-lone!”
A black cat wearing a cobweb cowl watches on from behind the wheelie bins.
The weeds between the flags on the narrow pavements are knee high in some of the back streets; mainly long grasses and ragwort. I graze my knuckles on a concrete lamp post as I squeeze past the man with the slicked back nicotine hair. He falls backwards into a hedge but rebounds upright again to continue on his way.
The man who wears the all-year-round head-to-toe waterproofs comes out of the bottom of Grasmere Road, turns left towards the park, turns round and runs back again. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since March 23rd 2012.
Later, at the shattered old farm on the moor, the middle-aged Flora Poste who has moved in at one of the cottages is tending her hanging baskets. Since she arrived a few months ago the decrepit doors and aching window frames have been painted a fashionable eau de nil and there are crushed cloves in the yard. Her influence has yet to reach the main house; there is dog sick on the doorstep and a badly written note in the porch window: Leave parcels In the WOODSHED.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

30°C: The ragwort in the back of Mr Brooke’s Transit pick-up is a couple of feet tall now



30°C

The ragwort in the back of Mr Brooke’s Transit pick-up is a couple of feet tall now and the dead badger in the road isn’t a dead badger, it’s a Ramones T-shirt.
The fishmonger drops the pan from his scales onto the floor with a loud clang, “Throwing the tackle around!” he says as he bends to pick it up. The postman walks in and drops a bundle of mail onto the counter, “Don’t you get fed up of delivering rubbish?” the fishmonger asks. 
On the estate on the moor where juvenile starlings are hanging with the hen pheasant, the smell of warm porches is oddly comforting. There are fake lawns, stone turtles, small colourful plastic huskies and a skip with a broken drone in it.
At the high altitude newsagent’s shop, the proprietor says he doesn’t get away much. The last holiday he had was a long weekend to Amsterdam. He says he didn’t really enjoy it because the lads he went with ate too much ‘cake’ and spent the whole time asleep.
At the big house in the shadow of the wind turbine, a man in a country check shirt, khaki shorts, deck shoes and white socks is reading print news and sipping Pimm's under an awning. Two care workers arrive in an old black Fiesta, unhitch the gate and make their way into the back garden trailing bin liners.
On the council estate of men in shorts and women in anoraks, there are cherries on the pavement and wood pigeons flapping in the laylandii. Two men in their 70s are talking across a privet, “It’s like when Muhammad Ali came over here and fought Brian London, the Blackpool Rock…”
A ten-year-old people carrier loaded up with bulk bought dog-food-systems pulls up outside the flats with the rusty grab handles by the front doors. Grandparents play swing-ball with grandchildren and the ice cream van plays Oranges and Lemons for everybody.
Two teenage boys in an old Vauxhall Corsa—windows down, no shirts—are blowing the car horn in time to the music on the radio and the man in the striped apron who is tending his vegetable garden mutters ‘Dickheads’ under his breath.
The dock leaves are getting big, daisies are coming through, hydrangeas are starting to flower. There is clover in the grass and sunbaked slugs on the sticky asphalt.
On the new estate of reconstructed stone semis and developer planted lavender, bald men in their 60 and 70s wear shorts and shades to walk their tousled grey hairpiece terriers.
At the caravan showroom where everything is black and white, black or white coffee is on draft. Black and white flags flutter in the paddock and black and white staff lean on things authoritatively. A large tattooed man in union-jack shorts and mirror shades is checking out the Bailey Pageant Bretagne while a man in khaki shorts, striped canvas belt and an Oxford shirt is having a look at the Hymer Exsis which is parked up by the striking yellow daisy bushes. A slim, tanned man in his early 30s, with big 1980s hair, earings, tight short shorts, espadrilles and a black and white body-hugging shirt with WANG written across the back makes his way between the plastic tub of thirsty pansies and the run-over florets of broccoli into the shop. He strikes up a conversation with the shop manager in an unusually deep voice “… All right, mate. I’ll see you later then, pal”.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Brexit bunting that decorates the No-Unauthorised-Vehicles car park is tangled and twisted



The Brexit bunting that decorates the No-Unauthorised-Vehicles car park is tangled and twisted, the few bits of it that remain free to flap, do so with vigour. At the house opposite, the woman in the cheesecloth blouse, enormous fluffy cat-shaped slippers and carrier bag full of soiled kitty litter is being followed down her garden path by an actual cat. 
It’s warm, bright and blustery. The man in his late 20s in the flat cap and florid trousers is carrying an aubergine and a tin of sardines to his BMW.
The driver of the Audi S4 throws a half eaten pasty out of the window, almost hitting the woman who is walking past the Top Spot snooker club in knee length boots and fleece jacket with wolf pictures on it.
I continue on past the sign that says Achieve Your Ambition Car Wash Open. Past the sparrow pecking at the base of the lamppost with gaffer tape wrapped around it to keep the inspection cover shut. Past the soon to be closed down museum that we all visited as kids—they have a stuffed waxwing from 1970.
The wheelie-bins on the new estate are the same shade of green as the fake plastic topiary in the gardens.
In the rubber scented car showroom, half-a-dozen grey haired customers in anoraks and shorts are sitting by the water cooler watching a wall-mounted television; a grey haired man with swollen legs is being wired up to a heart monitor on the hospital channel.
On, into the village. It’s quiet apart from the blackbirds, the jackdaws and the occasional thrum of a 4x4. There are pansies, pelargoniums, No Cold Callers, Our Glorious Dead, goldfinches, martens, Sunday painters, misanthropic cows, and Slow Children Playing.
Later, back in town, a man comments that I have good legs for kickboxing.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Recorded Delivery Events



The vanity of blue tits.
Cutting your own hair without a mirror. 
Shouting “Raymond!”
Wearing two pairs of glasses at the same time.
A man whose name is Ken.
Nicola’s boobs.
Some light drizzle.
Arthritic nettles.
Not really doing wine.
Vigorously chamoising a Mondeo.
Having a nice sit down.
A bag for life.
Drinking Fanta and wearing sunglasses at the vintage tea-room.
Being Mr Grumpy today.
Ignoring the TV.
Pansies in pots, a defibrillator, and a needle bin.
Pink heather, pyracantha, honeysuckle, flowering current, daffodils and grit bins.
Discussing house prices with the owner of a Yorkshire terrier.
Acknowledging one another with a small wave.
Juicy Mango Avon Man.
A chaffinch on a branch and a man on a Muddy Fox.
Get Your Rush On T-shirts and spandex pants.
Chickens, a phrenology bust, and breakfast on the pavement.
Audi country.
The man with the tattooed shins and a banana.
A quarter-full bottle of Lambrini.
Talk of chimineas.
An old Volvo full of kids.
Wearing the cardboard tube from the middle of a toilet roll.


This Sunday evening I'll be reading from the Yorkshire Festival commissioned project Recorded Delivery at Holmfirth Arts Festival. It will also be the first chance to see Edward Cotterill's accompanying film (clip above). Edward came with me around West Yorkshire and a bit of North Yorkshire while I went on at him for ages and sometimes carried his tripod. 


Here's a link to the Holmfirth event: Holmfirth Arts Festival 

I'll be doing the same again at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival on Monday June 27th. Here's a link to that: Hebden Bridge Arts Festival

Edward's film and a series of prints from the project can also be seen at Grassington Arts Festival: Grassington Arts Festival

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Most Difficult Thing Ever is now available through the Pariah Press online shop



The print / CD version of The Most Difficult Thing Ever is now available through the Pariah Press online shop. 

Here: Pariah Press

Saturday, 28 May 2016

RECORDED DELIVERY

Things have been a bit quiet on here recently because I've been distracted by Recorded Delivery, a Yorkshire Festival commissioned project I'm involved with. This new project has a lot in common with The Most Difficult Thing Ever, the main difference being its extension over a wider area than solely Huddersfield. Material will be available to stream in audio and video forms via QR codes on the streets or via the Recorded Delivery blog. You can also stay in touch with Recorded Delivery events via its Facebook page or, probably less reliably, via my Twitter account. 

Anyway, here's a sample:

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Chorlton Arts Festival 2016: The Most Difficult Thing Ever




















I'll be reading from The Most Difficult Thing Ever at the Marble Beerhouse in Chorlton, Manchester, this Wednesday evening (May 25th) as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. 

Here's a link: www.chorltonartsfestival.com

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

I Follow the Minibus Taxi with Rock’n’Roll Will Never Die Written above the Back Window



I follow the minibus taxi with Rock’n’Roll Will Never Die written above the back window. We pass dandelions, bluebells, flowering current, rogue tulips, and some jackdaws pecking at a new calf. On and up into Audi country.
“Has anything changed since your last visit?” asks the dentist’s receptionist. “I’m drinking much more wine” says the woman in the quilted jacket.

Outside the shop with the display of Worker Wagg Beef & Veg Worker Complete dog food on the fake grass underneath the broken awning, the rain has left a long pink stripe of cherry blossom along the gutter at the edge of the road.

The sun has barely been out an hour and the men in their 60s and 70s are out too, flocking to the shop in shorts and sandals for print news.

The primary coloured lycra cyclist sets off from his garage on the new estate of concrete stone houses with plastic wooden doors. Past the pansies in pots, the developer’s ‘architectural’ cordyline, the not-yet-hedges of laylandii, the baby wisteria, the nursery birch and willow and the fake plastic balls of box hedge that hang inexplicably from brackets next to front doors. Past the vaping Tesco delivery man. Past the Co-op delivery woman. Past the Audi, the Audi, the Audi, the Audi, and the Nissan X-Trail for when it snows. Past the builders’ vans in rows seeing to the plastic doric architraves. Past the yellow millstone in the bed of polished spar. Past the blue slate chippings, the galvanised pots of lavender, the hosepipes, the solar powered garden lights and the detached garages that are too small for cars. Past the For Sale Boards: A Collection of Yorkshire’s Finest Properties. Past the Parcel Force man with the tattoo sleeves. Past the enormous blooming cherries left from when they lined the road to the old mill. And on, out into the hills.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Bin Lorry is Stopping Every Ten Yards



The bin lorry is stopping every ten yards. Its loading mechanism makes a noise like that long note at the beginning of Rhapsody in Blue. It dawdles its way down the long road which starts with pebble-dashed maisonettes and the smell of weed at one end, and finishes with detached inter-war bungalows and the smell of seaweed fertiliser at the other. 
Somewhere around the middle, a man is sitting in his front room ignoring the TV while he reads Russell Grant’s astrology page. Next-door, his neighbour is naked apart from a pair of spectacles, playing with his Playstation.

Out in the sticks, a goldfinch flies out from under my feet and the fake grass at the barn conversion is still too green. I pass an open window; a woman is having an angry telephone conversation: “Well, it says here that the short length is four-and-a-half centimetres. Well I’ve no idea what four-and-a-half centimetres is in inches!

Cherry blossom, tulips, a rusty cement mixer, leylandii, pyracantha, ruthlessly pruned buddleia, and wooden telegraph poles; a woman in one of those cream, full-length puffer coats that makes her look like an enormous maggot is walking a big black greyhound.

The pub is taking bookings for New Years Eve (‘food will be served between 7-10pm’). Tonight they are serving tapas between 6-9pm and there’s a wet pair of suede loafers in the hyacinth bed.