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 country check, khaki shorts, deck shoes and white socks is reading print news and sipping Pimms 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 over 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 to 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 and foxgloves on the sticky asphalt.
On the new estate of reconstructed-stone semis and developer planted lavender, bald men in their 60s 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 and 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 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 in 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 boomers 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 make you 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.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Stone Buddhas, Buckets of Cig Butts, Missing Top Stones.



Stone Buddhas, buckets of cig butts, missing top stones. 

The woman with the Brexit tote bag walks past the shop advertising ‘Kids £4’.
Litter traps behind broken gates: energy drink cans and takeaway-styrene.
Down from where the big stuffed Tweetie-Pie has been lynched from a fall-pipe, the young man holding a toddler is talking to the middle-aged woman in the bathrobe. She is sipping from a pint glass.
A bag-for-life in the gutter, cat shit in the ginnel, a torn office chair and a sodden carpet in the miry garden.
Outside the house with the weed smoke wisping from the open window, a woman screams “PACK IT IN!” to the children in the back of the new Freelander.
“Fuck off! What the fuck?” shouts the man when I deliver his post. The door opens and he runs across the piss soaked carpet in the yard and up the ginnel shouting after me, “What are you fucking doing! If t’dog catches you in t’garden, she’ll bite you innit!” He stops next to a slimy piece of roughly sawn timber and says in a more composed voice, “You need to rest it behind this bit of wood in the alleyway innit; if t’dog catches you, it’s gonna bite you innit.”
Down from the witch’s house with the hedge full of empty plastic bottles, I follow three men from the engineering shop on their way to the bakery. In identical overalls and of a similar build, the only thing that distinguishes them from one another is their differing stages of male pattern baldness.
The old man in the hi-vis vest is walking with both his arms outstretched, a bag-for-life full of groceries in each hand.
Two sporty young men walk down Forest Lane, one wears a Nike sports bag on his back, the other, grey-marl sweatpants which he repeatedly hoiks from his arse crack. I follow in the wake of their loud but largely unintelligible, expletive-ridden conversation and their pungent weed smoke before they turn off into the student halls of residence.
The lights are out in the shop and there’s hardly any stock now, but it’s still open.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The recent spell of fine weather has brought other people onto the streets



The recent spell of fine weather has brought other people onto the streets over which the elderly women in purple anoraks have held sole dominion in recent months.

A dozen motorbikes pass a middle-aged cyclist-in-lycra cyclist as he rides through the village. He rolls his eyes and shouts to me above the noise; “Hell’s angels are out!”

A middle-aged man in Crocs is hard at work chamoising the Skoda Yeti on the driveway of the semi-detached new-build. The sun glints off of the plastic chrome while he whistles along to Bad Moon Rising on the car’s stereo.

The man sitting in the driver’s seat of the parked-up Vauxhall Astra with the custom paint job, body kit, blacked-out windows, and ‘Bang Tidy’ sticker in the back is eating a pot of Muller Rice.

Earlier, on the estate, I tried to deliver a parcel but was intercepted by a short middle-aged man with a grey side-parting and a three-quarter length beige anorak. 
“You can leave it with me if she’s not in. She’s rarely at home; she’s a very active woman for a blind lady”
I thanked the man and handed over the parcel.
“Could you pop me a note through — just to let her know I’ve got it?” said the man.
“I can,” I said, “but how will she read it if she’s blind?”
The man smiled wisely; “Sense of touch,” he said. Then he tapped his eye with his forefinger and explained; “When these pack up, the others pick up.”
“Oh” I said.
In the next street, a small Asian girl with a snotty nose asked me where I was going next.
“Over that way”, I said, waving my arm up the street.
“Pakistan?” asked the girl.

On the track down to the house where the men from Kudos Doors (Commercial and Domestic Door Systems) are working, I saw a green woodpecker.