I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

THE DICHOTOMY OF CROSSING DISTANCES (a.k.a. Setting Forth from New Year's Day)

I’ve recently been looking into Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox. To simplify it in an awkward fashion, imagine walking a distance. Say the exit of a supermarket to wherever you parked your car. Now that is a set distance with a set time but to get there you will need to reach the halfway point first. However, if you’re going to split distances in half, you might as well split that halfway point in half too, and its subsequent halfway point in half and so on and so forth. Now if you add up all those new split distances, the sum total would be infinity. After a moment’s consideration, the overall distance between the supermarket and your car becomes impossibly long.
            Now this paradox is easily refuted by mathematical thinking but that’s not what I’m concerned with today. I’m more interested in the kind of mindset where the Dichotomy Paradox is almost always a problem. In short, anxiety.
            I am an anxious person. I worry about great distances before I’ve even begun the journey. I imagine every distance beyond the footpath to town or to work is a great distance. It’s a journey fraught with potential perils at every step from genuine niggles like losing my bearings and having to rely on the kindness and accuracy of strangers, to outrageous fears like my glasses flying off my face and landing in the middle of a busy road. Like in the paradox, every step of the way contains a new obstacle and hold-up.
            Normally all it takes to get over this fear is to set about moving forward. The thing about the Dichotomy Paradox when applied to real life is that it is undermined by actually crossing the distance. Calculations and halving are all well and good but they are nothing compared to the human tendency to just get on with the task at hand. It’s really that simple and yet remains very easy to forget.
            Now perseverance is always easier when you know what’s at the end of the road, when you ultimately realise that very little will change as a consequence. You can fight back the concept of the Dichotomy Paradox if the task is something that won’t take long and won’t result in the end of a life or a way of life. In those harrowing circumstances there will be days when the Dichotomy Paradox will just tie you up in knots and paralyze you with fear. After all, the certainty of disappearance doesn’t bear thinking about.
            Nevertheless, my suggested workaround for this is to bypass the multiple potential measurements in that distance with our feet. Change is scary but sometimes we go through the motions of routine behaviour and motor memory and suddenly we're well past the problem. If there was ever really a problem to begin with.
            I would say Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox is something to think about now we’re in a new year and decade. It’s something to acknowledge and hopefully overcome.

I NEVER LIKED TWO THOUSAND AND NINETEEN (a.k.a. A Villa-knell to Mark the End of a Rather Unpleasant Year)

I never liked two thousand and nineteen
Not just an odd number but on the verge
Of a brighter twenty-twenty dream.

The year itself: dull and awkward scenes
With some tough memories I long to purge.
I never liked two thousand and nineteen.

My tired eyes have a teary sheen,
Overflowing with a desperate urge
For a brighter twenty-twenty dream.

And still how maddening time’s march now seems,
Its beat so solemn it might be a dirge.
I never liked two thousand and nineteen.

It’s become so hard to vent my spleen
For if I start, I might very well splurge
Before the brighter twenty-twenty dream.

I suppose it won’t be too long between
The years, before present and future merge.
I never liked two thousand and nineteen
But I might the twenty-twenty dream.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

A CHILD'S BOXING DAY IN ENGLAND (a.k.a. A Remembrance of Post-Christmas Transition Days Past)

One Boxing Day was so much like another, in those years of small responsibility and not much to worry about.
All the Boxing Days roll into one as I remember pitter-pattering barefoot down the stairs to grab a bowl of cereal and the leftover tangerine from Santa’s stocking. It was quiet but not exactly peaceful with all the presents scattered around the living room still to put away but this was still technically Christmas for me and the rest of the family were asleep so why bother rushing?
I would eat my small breakfast by the computer table, turning the swivel chair to see the heated trays on the dining table just behind me, still full of vegetable spring rolls and prawn vol-au-vents. The greasy smell pervading from the kitchen would remind me that there was still the Beef Wellington to finish, something I had nibbled at the previous night rather than scoffed. However, if the stringy brown slices were to be put in a buttered bread bun that day, I wouldn’t say no.
Once the last segment of tangerine had been swallowed, down came mother who was then followed by sister and eventually father. We would find there wasn’t really much left to say after all the exuberant ‘thank you’s of yesterday so we would instead begin a slow and steady tidy up of the living room.
All my presents: books, DVDs and action figures would be dumped on my bed where I would fiddle with them some more and lose a good twenty minutes contemplating the points of articulation of this Doctor Who figure or really how little I wanted to watch this film that I asked for in earnest.
Then I would dress myself properly, brush my teeth and descend the stairs to find the kitchen occupied with the whirr of the oven heating up leftovers and maybe the hob being click-click-clicked on. The kettle would already be boiled for the parents and perhaps my sister but I would have what was left of the milk bottle once the teas and coffees had all been poured.
Food would then be transported back to the heated trays on the dining room table and we would stack a small china plate each with those spring rolls and vol-au-vents as well as mini-pizzas, breadsticks and crisps. I would always fill up with more crisps than substantial food and had a tendency, when eating battered shrimp, to swallow the tail too.
Then, when I was fit to burst and queasy with all the salt and grease, I would supplant myself on the toilet for a long stretch, both out of necessity and for the me time. If it occurred to me, I may have even started reading one of my presents even if that was only the back of a DVD box.
Outside wasn’t usually worth visiting, a stiff white sky that occasionally cracked and let through a fine winter drizzle. Still, with all the hustle and bustle indoors, any chance to step out was ultimately a good thing even if I only managed to snatch a handful of shallow breaths of chill air. Then I would return to find everyone in the living room, watching whatever animated feature was on, Dreamworks often after Disney. There would be some buzz as the TV guide was handed round, at the prospect of the special episode of whatever show was popular at the time being on that evening. We would set our eating schedule around that then break off from family time, some of us to wash up, some of us to tidy away presents, and me to visit the toilet once again.
I often lost track of time, Boxing Day being so slow, and I would look up and wonder why I was being called back downstairs. Then I would wander into the kitchen to find Beef Wellington slices being packed into bread buns and found that that would be the main course for dinner. Of course, it did turn out to be dinnertime or perhaps half an hour earlier than usual.
I would hunker down and eat, grabbing a fresh plateful of snack foods to fill out the meal, watching whatever was on the telly before returning to the kitchen to begin washing up. We didn’t have a dish washer for a long time so it was up to me and my sister to make sure the fancy wine glasses we only ever brought out at Christmas were sparkling clean and ready to return to the dusty wooden display cabinet. Then father would empty out the heated trays and give us them for ‘a quick wipe’ but I always gave them more attention, at least until there were no visible suds left. Then, if the snacks were sufficiently depleted, the trays and the heater were all boxed up and put at the very top of a tall set of shelves. Dad would deal with this, with some assistance from me when I was tall enough.
Then in the gathering dark, we would seat ourselves in front of the TV once again and spend a little more time watching the latest DFS sale advert and glancing around at the Christmas decorations, determining when they were to be taken down and in what order.
By now I had opened my chocolate selection box and started working my way through a mini bag of Maltesers and perhaps a single Twix bar because there really was little else to do. Boxing Day didn’t make much sense when it came down to it, other than to be a transition day between Christmas and shops re-opening. The older I got the more I realised the disappointing mayfly that Christmas Day was, after the long run-up, after the hysteria those same shops and the TV had caused. It seemed a lot of exhaustion for a short period where presents were torn open and expectations were met. And Boxing Day? That was merely the day when the wrapping paper was stuffed into the recycling bin.
Nevertheless Boxing Day got away from me soon enough and I was back to bed, watching a film I had recorded instead of one of the DVDs that had been gifted to me. When that was over, I muttered some happy nonsense about doing things better next year, and then I slept.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

WHAT HAPPENED TO THANK YOU? (a.k.a. Gifting Games - Merry Christmas)

This Christmas, Uncle Troy asked me and my sister, “Whatever happened to thank you?”
            Of course, he meant our tendency to get so excited by his gifts that we forget to show relevant gratitude. Still we do like to make fun. 
            Afterwards, when he had gone home full of brussel sprouts and self-satisfaction, my sister and I answered his question properly.
            “Thank You had some shopping to do,” I started.
            “Thank You has errands all day,” my sister followed up.
            “Thank You owes a lot of his friends.”
            “He can’t just go around thanking people the whole time. They need more than that.”
            “Thank You’s a bit of a layabout when it comes down to it.”
            “But at least he knows where to get all the best deals. Even on Christmas Day.”
            “He will be back in a while. Thank You gets around to everyone eventually.”
            “Thank You is like Santa Claus in that way. He just comes later.”
            “Thank You comes when he damn well pleases.”
            “Please certainly thinks so.”
            “The less said about her though, the better.”
            “Please can be a bit lofty but she does know Thank You best. It’s just they’ve grown apart in recent years.”
            “Not often there at the same time.”
            “It’s a shame.”
            “It’s all Shame ever goes on about.”
            “He’s like that about everyone and everything though.”
            “At least he’s always there. Thank You on the other hand...”
            “He’ll be back.”
            And that’s where we left the matter. Uncle Troy always hears back from Thank You, no matter what happens.
            As for me and my sister, we just get on as we are.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

LISTEN FOR THE GIFT (a.k.a. Your Giving, Should You Choose to Accept It...)

If you are hearing this, please do not adjust your earpiece. You are just the person I have been meaning to reach.
I need you to be my arms, so to speak. My legs too and obviously my eyes. I'm afraid I will have to do as brain for now. The task I ask you to complete is very simple but profoundly important.
A wrapped present was left in your house. In fact, you came across it just the other day, threw it out. Fortunately it was salvaged from your dustbin and can be found up on the roof, just beside the gutter. Good thing there was no rain this week where you are! Now I would like you take it down. Use the stepladder: if you hurt yourself, I would never forgive myself.
Got it? Excellent. By all means, weigh it in your hand, press your ear against it. You will see for yourself that the present isn’t a clear and present danger. However, please don’t unwrap it yet. All I ask is that you act as courier. Believe me, this is for the best possible cause.
With that in mind, come back inside and ascend the stairs. Tread lightly: it is almost midnight. Now, when you reach the landing, I want you to enter the bedroom nearest to you. Yes, that will be your child’s room. This gift is for them.
You should be proud. There aren’t many children who get this service anymore. Though technology has advanced, the old intention remains as vital as ever. Science, magic: they both pale in comparison to charity and acknowledgement of good deeds well done. We only intercede to keep an element of mystery for both you and your child.
I am sure you will turn to your partner tonight and tell of the sudden bizarre twittering in your ear, some jolly stranger giving you instructions that filled you with dread. For that I can only apologise and ask that you look past it. Think only of the following morning, the smile on your little one’s face as they see this present, the smile on your own as you realise that it wasn’t a bomb or anything nefarious, but just what I said it was. A gift.
Now place it in the stocking, tuck it right down into the toe. Excellent. With that, I will stop talking and leave you in peace. Don’t you just love the final stillness of Christmas Eve? By all means, remove your earpiece and listen to that quiet. Mission accomplished. Merry Christmas. 

Monday, 23 December 2019


Closing time was an hour ago. Nobody is in the department store. The cleaner was in and out within twenty minutes, hastily vacuuming patches of carpet and splashing the main lino path with a damp mop. Since she left, the whole building has been very still.
            Then the wrapping paper rolls rustle. The thinnest is pinched forward by the combined weight of the rest and thunks onto the square of crimson carpet beneath it. This green and white roll's bottom half raises two thicker rolls and together they tip the whole box-stand over, everything spilling out.
            It all tumbles a short distance to the base of the large Christmas tree by the tills. Three low-hanging golden baubles dislodge themselves from the feeble plastic branches and roll far to the left.
            One clatters against another then another until the last bauble stops in front of a motion sensor Dancing Reindeer. It shimmies its automated hips, triggering a chain reaction of shimmying until all the surrounding Reindeer have broken out into a muffled poor-quality version of Jingle Bells. They echo each other and fill the store with life, albeit artificial. Just as soon as it begins, the song is over. While it lasts, it plays only to decorative snowmen and caricatures of Santa and his elves on chocolate selection boxes.
            The security camera won't get a clear view of the spectacle as it happened, just a black-and-white recording of a couple of baubles and the stiff mass swaying of the Dancing Reindeer. The magic of the instant will be overlooked by the mess.
            But it has happened. It all has happened in a glorious moment of unexpected life the Monday before Christmas. The staff will tidy it up eventually, sell all these brightly-coloured trinkets and decorations at discount rates. Except these will be mispriced, the department store cheating themselves out of their true worth.
            Then again what is the cost of such a Christmas occurrence on the shop room floor?

Sunday, 22 December 2019

SANTA'S LIQUID LUNCH (a.k.a. A Harrowing Break from a Holiday Job)

The girl found me out. I thought I had managed to hide away in this brown and beige bar round the corner from where I was supposed to be. The place was squat and stank more of lacquer than liquor but I liked it just fine. Not a goddamn Christmas decoration in sight. Still I suppose it being the only place in the mall not lit up and draped in green tinsel, I made it kind of easy to find me.
            She stopped beside my bar stool and folded her arms.
            "Santa," she said, "You've gotta go back now."
            Craning my neck, I could just see that there was a line developing from the grotto. "Has the creepy kid left?"
            "A while back."
            "I mean the building."
            The girl sighed. "Short of checking with security I wouldn't really know, now would I?"
            This was the mouthiest teenage elf I had ever worked with. She had bright red chipmunk cheeks and little black eyes that looked constantly bored. Still her ears were naturally pointy so I suppose she had rare qualifications.
            The bartender laid down a neat bourbon for me right on where my fake beard met the bar.
            "Whiskey for your whiskers," he joked. I forgot to laugh.
            The elf girl cleared her throat.
            "I'll admit what that little boy said was unsettling but there are also normal kids about to lose their shit over there."
            I threw back the bourbon.
            "Please don't be that guy."
            I leaned back on the bar. "Which guy would that be?"
            "Another half-in-the-bag Mall Santa."
            I tapped the counter and got the bartender’s attention. He was still chuckling to himself at his little joke. Getting in the spirit of the season I wouldn’t wonder. Glad someone still could.
            I glared at the elf girl. My eyes were probably bloodshot but I just didn’t give a rat’s ass. "Did you hear what that goddamn kid said to me?"
            "To be honest, I've heard worse."
            "No!" I smashed my palm against the bar. She jumped and the bartender stopped smiling. This just made me angrier. "This wasn't just some sugar rush brat bruising my lap! He knew just what he was saying!"
            The elf girl looked unconvinced but what did she know? Fresh out of braces and fresh out of sympathy for some fat old geezer in a red suit. I picked up my next glass and waved her away.
            "Go on. Tell them Santa won't be back today.” I stared at the half-empty glass as it shone in the weak light. “Too tired. Dead tired.”
            “Really?” The girl’s tiny eyes squinted.
            She gave out a haughty little huff and puff. This seemed to perk up the bartender. "Kids say the darnedest things, huh?"
            Both I and the elf girl stared at the idiot. I could have thrown the glass straight at his fat head.
            "The darnedest." I finished my drink. "How about 'I know you ain't real, Santa, cos I killed him last night'? That's pretty darn cute, ain't it?"
            Except that wasn't it exactly. The boy had told me about his daddy's service revolver, how Santa's inside red wasn't as bright as his outside red. The devil is in the details, I suppose.
            "Sounded like a dream to me," the elf girl spoke up. "You know how kids can get. Too many Westerns and War movies. It probably seemed real for him."
            "It sure seemed real to me," I said. The service revolver especially. My daddy kept one around the house too. Until it went off.
            The elf girl sighed. “The kid’s gone now. Long gone.”
            She caught my eye. I could tell she wasn't about to let up anytime soon so I forced my ass off the bar stool.
            "Come on," I told her. "Santa will tell the kids and their parents that he’s done himself. Otherwise they might not believe it."
            I left behind a deserving tip to the bartender though I'm sure he would have thought a lump of coal would be better.
            The elf girl crinkled her nose as she opened the door for me. "Your breath. The parents will smell booze."
            "I'll probably smell the same on their's.” The girl turned away in disgust but I shrugged my shoulders. “After all, it's the most wonderful time of the year, ain't it?"

Saturday, 21 December 2019

SNOWCRACKER (a.k.a. An Abominable Way to Break the Ice)

Tough time of year, Christmas. For the kill. The fastest roads to your destination are all clogged, there are no quiet corners in public places and sometimes there is even snow.
            As a kid I loved a clean bed of pure white snow, untouched and shining with possibility. As a man I dread it, knowing that I will leave tracks no matter how careful I try to be. Still you won’t last long in this line of work if you just hold on to your anxieties. So today I take back control.
            I wear size 14 boots. My feet are size 9 but, with two layers of thick cotton socks, they fit just fine. Not only are these boots huge, they have two-prong toes. That and the wide curved heel make my tracks look almost hoof-like. Think of a reindeer but the biggest bastard you ever saw. I swear the authorities will look at the tracks from my target’s house and think: Don’t wanna mess with that. Don’t wanna even pursue that. And they’d do right.
            Still I feel awful silly, stretching my legs out as I move. If I lose my balance even once, I’ll give the game away; an undeniable snow angel flailing to get back up. Even so I stomp like a heavy four-legged beast all the way downhill.
            It’s morning but you can’t tell from the sky, thick angry grey slowly lightening to a stiff white. This snow must have fallen only hours ago: it’s crisp and not even the real country critters have been on it yet. As I search for tiny paw prints to dwarf with my own, I take in a deep lungful of frosty air. Goes straight to my goddamn head. My jaw begins to feel like it’s freezing up and there’s a wetness to the tip of my nose.
            I should feel lousy but I’m actually kinda great. I have a clean kill behind me and I’ve handled an issue in a damn smart way. In fact, I feel better than great. You can get complacent in the death business, take your skill for granted, get lazy. But not anymore. Now I’m back to enjoying my work.
            I let out this roar, primal. Stupid of me, in fact: I might wake the neighbours from their rustic little cottages, alert them to my slow lumbering presence. Still it feels good, you know? Right.
            Glancing down, I see cracks running back behind my left boot heel. They progress beyond it, spreading some distance behind. I take one look at that damage and think ‘abominable’. Ain’t a word I use lightly. Ain’t a word I normally use at all.
            Still it’s right there in my mind. Abominable, like the Snowman. Perhaps that’s how the story started; a tall man in the cold, dragging heavy feet along, tearing up the snow.
            Even so this Abominable Snowman isn’t far from his car. He has chains to put on his tyres before he disappears into the next flurry. A snowflake touches my nose, tickling it. I slip and crack the snow again. I didn’t know my own strength. I should know by now.
            Still, let it creep them out, I say. Let them believe it was a monster, not a man. Yessir, if there ever was an Abominable Snowman, I’ll be him.

Friday, 20 December 2019

A SEASONAL LYRIC CRITIQUE (a.k.a. Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is Snow Joke)

When the snowman brings the snow…

Let us unpack this. Sort of reverse engineer the snowball, as it were.
            A snowman is traditionally a humanoid depiction made from fresh snow. Therefore the snowman is snow. The only snow that the snowman can technically 'bring' is the snow of which he is composed.
            However, the snowman also tends to be immobile. So no act of bringing is in fact possible, at least not in the physical sense.
            He might, for the sake of argument, 'summon' the snow. By this I mean will the very substance of life, his life at least, into being. In this particular scenario, the snowman is more of a 'snow sage' or a 'winter wizard' if you will. Suffice to say I have yet to come across such a powerful snowman.
            That leaves us with a conceptual meaning. The snowman’s mere existence brings the thought of snow into the mind of the observer. This is by far the most straightforward explanation. That being said, it is still specious: unless the observer’s view is somehow limited to only the snowman and not the probably large bed of snow underneath. This would require a 'Plato’s Cave' level of logic.
            Nevertheless, I highly doubt that the lyricist strove for that particular degree of realism. Still one would expect more of Roy Wood. If a Christmas song is worth writing then it is worth writing with proper and thoroughgoing attention to detail.
            Incidentally, Merry Christmas Everyday, I suppose…

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

DAYLIGHT FIREWORKS (a.k.a. Remember, Remember The Sixth of November...)

The fifth of November was yesterday but I'm still out launching fireworks. I don't mind it: my brother forked out a fair bit of dosh towards it so he can work in peace. I'm used to being fobbed off. Personally I prefer it these days.
    My brother's work has taken a funny turn. He keeps odd hours now. Hence sending me to set off fireworks at one o'clock in the afternoon. Daylight fireworks. It's pretty overcast today but still, if you ask me, the pretty colours are being wasted on it. All I can really see is the fluorescent pink of the rocket just gone up, Velvet Flare. I think that's supposed to be a pun.
     Still I suppose it's just as much about the sound effects. The whizzes, the bangs, the crackles. There's something so crisp about it all or maybe that's just the Autumn chill.
     At least we had a bonfire last night, of sorts. My brother stuffed some folders and loose papers among the logs and twigs, even some metal once the fire was really blazing. I daren't ask about it, besides he wouldn't say anything, just grunt at me and slink off straight back to work.
     I think it must be a bad time of year now for him, November. A lot piling up before Christmas. As for New Year? It all just comes round again, he tells me. You should see the look on his face when he says that, grey bags under his eyes and that weeping scar on his chin. You should hear how hollow his sigh has become.
    I wish he'd just pack it all in but then his line of work isn't the kind you can get out of easily. Cleaning up he calls it but I know it's too messy for that.
    Why else would I be standing in the middle of a field at the edge of our estate as a favour to him? Why else would I be lighting touch paper and running? Because of the spectacle. The distraction. While all eyes are on the way I'm popping a dull sky full of holes, he can safely get away with doing similar with smaller, earthbound targets. There must be a few to get through tonight: I am to keep launching fireworks till it's actually late. Then he'll come tap me on the shoulder and we can finally go home.
     While the rest of town are out brightening winter, my brother and I will be back indoors. Well, while he lays down in a darkened room yet again, I'll be by the window looking out for the both of us.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

SEASONALLY-AFFECTED (a.k.a. A Chilling Transition for Halloween and Autumn)

When he wakes up and it is dark outside, he knows it could happen. He feels it spread from his chilly toes, up his achy legs till it bursts in his chest which coughs and splutters accordingly. Sometimes it’s just a cold, a flu maybe, but he knows at this time of year that it could be so much more. The world-weariness of a full year now keeps him prostrate on the bed.
            Still he resists and moves, feeling the cold as he crosses his bedroom for the day’s clothes. He dresses quickly, avoiding touching skin against skin and the cold sensation that brings. He adds another layer of clothing and then another layer on top of that, just in case. When he is numb to the frost that has crept through his window overnight, he parts the curtains and raises the blinds. A grey lumpen sky fills his vision.
            After a perfunctory breakfast, he sets out. He sidesteps slugs and snails on his porch to get to sparkly frost patches on the long path to work. It is dark so he needs to be careful and watch out for anything that might come up.
            He keeps glancing skyward, not able to tell if the clouds have shifted position or even broken. The monotone of winter is particularly oppressive when it is still technically autumn. Nevertheless, the atmosphere isn’t quite cold enough yet for anything to fall. He does his best to enjoy the crispness of the air while keeping his hands covered and safely tucked away.
            On he goes, over vales and hills, along main roads with cars few and far between but speeding as if black ice weren’t a problem. When able, he takes side roads with few pedestrians crossing, shortcuts where he can still be alone. If he sees trees upcoming, he steers well-clear in case a sodden leaf should tumble down from the bush and take him by surprise. He knows he should wear a hat; it would certainly keep his ears warm but then he wouldn’t feel anything that might land on him. The very idea of pulling off a hat and feeling foreign moisture there is quite unsettling.
            He perseveres until his path finally ends and he stands in front of his work hut. He kicks his boots against the porch step just in case he has waded through any puddles without realising it, before pulling out his ring of keys. He tries the front door key but it will not turn, as if water has entered the lock and frozen overnight. With a little force, he manages it though the sudden action leaves him oddly light-headed. As he depresses the handle, he barely notices the tiniest touch to the back of his neck. It drips down and he knows that’s it. Snow has fallen on him at last.
            The door clatters open. Stepping inside, the warmth drains from his face. Embracing the cold, he becomes a part of it...

Saturday, 12 October 2019

TODAY AT A CAFE (a.k.a. A Nonfiction Experience from Actually a Few Weeks Ago Now)

The café was all black granite top tables with padded white stools and booths that were difficult to slide into from the eyesore diamond tile floor. Still, it was clean. As I approached the main counter, the man behind it spied me as I passed by an interior design topiary.
            “Hi there,” he began. “Today we have a special deal on curry and rice. You can buy the Jalfrezi, Tikka or Korma for just £6.”
            I nodded along as he showed me the contents of each steel container on the heated display. I looked back up and said, “Can I order a hot chocolate please?”
            He gave out a whiny little laugh but turned towards the steamer behind him. “Is that with whipped cream?”
            “Yes, please.”
            “That’ll be £2.80.”
            As I passed him a fiver, a skinny waiter with a fat yellow tie stopped beside me.
            “Bored,” he announced. The man behind the counter grinned in response. The waiter caught my eye. “And how are you today, sir?”
            “I am fine, thank you. How are you?”
            “I am well. As well as I can be working with this kidder over here.” He gestured at the man behind the counter as he handed me my change. They both giggled. “And what will you be doing after your drink, sir?”
            “Go home.”
            The waiter nodded. “Do you play computer games?”
            I hesitated. “Sometimes. Not as much these days.”
            “You look the intelligent sort. Would you say you’re intelligent?”
            I frowned but laughed it off. “That’s not really for me to say.”
            This was not the most comprehensive of answers. I waited for the interrogation to continue but then the waiter turned, apparently called over.
            “Sorry about that,” the man behind the counter said.
            “That’s all right,” I lied.
      I sat on the opposite side of the topiary, using it as a green leafy window to the only other customer in the building. She tucked into a panini, knife and fork tearing through the thick bread. Her eyes were damp and she had to stop a moment to wipe away the tears. The waiter appeared with fresh napkins for the table which he handed to her personally. Her wedding ring glistened in the light as she touched one of the stiff brown sheets to the corners of her eyes.
"Poor dear," the waiter muttered before moving off in the direction of distant clattering crockery.
I felt bad for looking at the woman so I stopped. Nevertheless, she watched me carefully until she finished her panini.
The man behind the counter came to bring the hot chocolate over to me himself. There was a small biscuit on the saucer. "No extra cost," he said with a smile before returning to his post.
I then took out my phone and lost myself in my emails. Halfway through my hot chocolate, I heard the waiter reappear at the counter.
“Bilal's got a chicken bone in his throat," he told the man.
"Is he choking?"
"Go see for yourself."
The man came out from behind his counter once again, this time in a definite rush. Barely a minute later a short woman with a beehive hairdo arrived to take his place.
"How are you today, sir?" she asked me. I gave her a thumbs up as I crunched my biscuit. 
Raising my phone again, I finished composing my last reply then emptied my cup. I left behind a small crumbly corner of the biscuit. In the meantime, the man had come back and he, the woman and the waiter were all busying themselves behind the counter, all getting in each other's way.
"Thank you," I said. None of them turned to me. A little flimsy wave and I was away, out of the door.
I'm afraid I didn't have the wherewithal to compose a thorough review at the time. Something tells me this here will suffice.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

I STOOD ON A HOLE AND OTHER ODD-DATED POEMS (a.k.a. Happy National Poetry Day!)


I stood on a hole

because I'm told
on the hole
everything is fine.
It all works out.

Except on this hole

the bottom fell out
and now
it's got me down...



Work out
Doors close:
close call.
Call cops,
cop out.
last night.
Night scares:
scares you.
You hand


Got some blossom gossamer,

bought some blossom gossamer
for those blossom-gossamer-loving

'Cos there is nothing awesome as

a big old blossom gossamer
atop that foursome's boss Amir's


the pillow slips

the duvet covers
the curtain rails
the carpet rolls
the bedside lights
the window blinds

a deal on sheets

and memory foams.


TIME is an envelope...TIME is not the card.

TIME is a curtain...TIME is not the art.
TIME is a coat...TIME is not the skin.
TIME is all without...TIME is not within.