“Wahey!” shouted the young man, modern and clean-shaven as the cart bounced over the bobbly road, dragged speedily onward by healthy, wealthy horses.
A Moustachioed Gentleman, old-fashioned and moustachioed, looked puzzled. “In my day we always said yee-ha.” And then he demonstrated into the wind: “Yee-Ha!”
The young man did not say anything else. When they reached the ranch they disembarked and the Moustachioed Gent tipped him generously. “Wahey,” the young man could not help but say.
The Moustachioed Gent let it pass. He hadn’t come all the way just to argue with a man who was younger and less moustached than he. “Which way to the stables?” he asked and the young man pointed.
He found his old horse easily, standing on his hind legs and leaning on the stable door with his one good arm. His second arm was missing, not there at all. You couldn’t call it a stump as such. It just ended at the shoulder. The one-armed horse nodded a greeting. He had been silent since the early Eighties. Still, it was not a bad life at the stables.
The Moustachioed Gent leant on the stable door with one of his two good elbows. He didn’t like to leave his second arm hanging unused by his side, not when he was visiting the one-armed horse and so he fidgeted around with his moustache whilst the two of them stood in silence. He liked to visit once every six months and reminisce in silence with the one-armed horse, hoping that his old partner was reliving the same memory. The two of them had spent a good deal of time together in years gone by. Yee-ha!
There really was no way of knowing but the Moustachioed Gent knew that to speak about these things would betray the silence that the horse had worked so hard for. That one-armed horse had hooked around him a deep silence so decades-strong that it would be a betrayal for the Moustachioed Gent to break it just for old time’s sake. He was just an old one-armed horse and the Moustachioed Gent had no intention of taking away from him the one thing he had.
He would have liked to tell him some new things, that would have been good. But maybe history was the only thing the one-armed horse was interested in and maybe his silence was a big full stop to time, a one-hoof held up like a stop sign gesture.
“Hey buddy, you know how we used to ride around and when the sun was out and the wind was good and everything was fine and dandy I would stand up and shout ‘yee-ha’ as we belted about here and there and you would neigh,” the Moustachioed Gent did not say.
The horse did not nod to tell him to continue.
“Well nowadays, you’ll never guess what but they don’t say ‘yee-ha’ anymore,” he didn’t continue. “They seem to say ‘wahey’. I don’t think it sounds as good but then that’s nowadays for you. I just thought you might like to know. It’s odd how times change.”
It was a pity.
Seen & Heard (All True! Not Fiction! What?!)
On a recent trip to Manchester I came across a new shop in Afflecks Palace, a strange shop built out of windows and full of self-published books, homemade comics, t-shirts and even some casette tapes. There was stuff stuck everywhere on the walls and windows, shelves and tables covered in more things – all made by artists and writers who have decided to do it all themselves. I was in Good Grief! It was good to see that so many people were putting all that work in and heartening to see that they all wanted to keep control of their projects through to see the end product and to get it out there themselves. And of course I am always happy to see things made, photocopied and knotted together with string. I bought a few things – including Rob Jackson’s Pasty Anthology (below) – but would have bought far more if I had limitless time and funds. If you’re in the neighbourhood I would strongly advise popping in to have a good look around.
On the same trip we ventured to Manchester University to see our favourite brummies Misty’s Big Adventure play (I think this was my fourteenth time). They presented ‘psychadelic legend’ Brute Force who delighted and bemused in equal measure. I am hopeless at writing about music so I won’t describe further but will say that I am very much looking forward to hearing Misty’s forthcoming album ‘The Family Amusement Centre’ which is now apparently complete and being prepared for release. It is nearly two years since Misty’s released their last album proper, though they did release their third grumpy fun album, ‘Grumpiest Fun’ in December of last year.
Thomas Truax, our favourite wandering Wowtown troubador, financed his new album ‘Sonic Dreamer,’ through the Pledge Music website. It allowed him to offer his fans a chance to buy his new record in a variety of formats, at different prices, and allowed him to finance its release through their pledges. It seems like a good system. I received my signed copy in the post last week but have not had chance to give it ample attention to write a review yet. Here is the video for his single ‘It’s All Happening Now.’
Back here in Guernsey let me tell you about a great artist going by the name of Hugh Rose. He creates hypnotic, spacey, cyberdubby works inspired by science fiction, delusions, zoos perhaps. He does a lot of work with and on wood but has also branched off into customising toys and transport, I think he just likes to draw on anything so if you see him do not stay sitting in one place for too long. Below is his interpretation of the Moustachioed Gent.And finally here are some of my favourite blogs on the internet. Don Kenn Gallery showcases one man’s enthusiasm for drawing slightly gothic monster scenarios on post-it notes. I have followed Polar Bear Is Dying for a while now – a rambling blog of strange drawings and ocassional tales punctuated by pictures of cakes in Japan, all centred around the Orange Cafe.
At the pelican crossing a Moustachioed Gentleman stopped to press the button and wait for the green man to show him the way across the road. He looked down to see a small dog at his feet, a look of gratitude in his dog eyes. The dog had been waiting to cross the road but could not reach the button that made the cars stop. The dog looked grateful and wet. That was another thing – it was raining.
The Moustachioed Gent had countered this by wearing his yoga coat as he hurried home. The yoga coat was perfect for performing yoga in but could be used for other things, like walking in the rain. It was a loose and unstructured garment flowered with a long-gone garish pattern which had been planted long before yoga. It is probably not necessary for me to tell you anything more about yoga coat except to report that its warterproof credentials were questionable and that the Moustachioed Gent could not remember the last time he actually performed any yoga.
The Moustachioed Gent hurried through the rain with the small, grateful dog at his feet. Despite his yoga coat the patrol cars still pulled up next to the Moustachioed Gent and offered him umbrellas. He declined, pointing out that he was wearing his yoga coat and was really ok, thanks. The dog had no coat though, who was going to keep him dry? He looked so soggy that he was close to crying.
“Come on dog,” said the Moustachioed Gent to the dog and he followed wetly. He always liked to have company when he was walking and thinking about his investigations, even if it were just a small, wet dog. He was close to completing the case, solving the puzzle. He had already named this particular detective novel ‘Black Deeds.’ All he needed was a few more pieces of information and then he could pull it all together to a tidy completion, and then all he would need was someone to write the novel.
“Tomorrow,” he promised himself, or the rain, or the dog, or no one.
At the door to his house he apologised to the dog and then left him outside and locked the front door. The dog was by now so wet that it seemed that he could not possibly get any wetter. Nevertheless, the rain continued to land on him and make him more wet. Within five minutes of being shut outside he wandered off, hopeful that somewhere he could end this soggy chapter of his life and start a drier, brighter one.
Inside, the Moustachioed Gent undraped his sodden yoga coat from his frame, hung it up to dry and switched on the kettle. A black cat sat on the kitchen table and looked expectantly at the Moustachioed Gent and so he took down two mugs and made a two cups of coffee.
“There you go black deeds,” he said as he set the mug down on the table and stroked the cat around the ears. Black Deeds watched it for a moment and then began to drink, lapping the milky coffee with his pink cat tongue.
“So,” said the Moustachioed Gent when he had given the cat time to drink. “Have you got any more leads for me today?” The cat said nothing. “Well, I’ve decided that I’m going to name this mystery after you, so that is something to be pleased about.”
The cat said nothing again, repeating the exact same silence. The Moustachioed Gent decided to forget about his investigation for the night and concentrate on what was going to happen next.
He dressed smartly in front of the mirror and teased his moustache through with a comb. He considered applying eyeliner too but, given the weather, decided against it. When he left the house again a few hours later he was carrying an umbrella, promoted above the yoga coat for the purposes of keeping him both dry and presentable. His platform shoes kept him high above the puddles.
At the downtown bistro he found his Moustachioed Girlfriend sitting in the window and already enjoying a brief aperitif already. He watched her for a moment and wondered if he could describe her as his Moustachioed Girlfriend yet or whether they were just Moustachioed Dating. Perhaps he would ask her tonight, or maybe he would detective the answer out of her. In his pocket he was carrying his fingerprinting kit.
His Moustachioed Girlfriend had presented her moustache – a deep red sexy curl – standing attention on her top lip. They greeted each other and when she smiled at him the Moustachioed Gent knew that it was a good job he had not worn his yoga coat to dinner.
“So, are you any closer to solving this one?” she asked.
The Moustachioed Gent studied the menu instead of answering. The menu was the immediate puzzle to solve. The spaghetti was beautifully described but he worried that it may prove too messy for a date, especially a moustachioed date. And what about the veal? It sounded lovely but he knew that veal offended some people.
“Have you nearly solved the case, the black deeds? Tell me all about it.”
The Moustachioed Gent listened now as her question coincided with his firm decision that he would try the yak.
“You know, I don’t want to spoil the ending.” He felt very dapper saying that, very reserved and clever. He had learnt so much from Black Deeds. With this confidence he made sure that his cheeks did not redden as he fielded the stares which were inevitable whenever they were out together. As if people had never seen a moustachioed couple before.
“Please.” His Moustachioed Girlfriend was leaning across the table, insistent. “I want to hear about your trip to the farm, did you find the tunnel? And what about the last will and testament… I really can’t believe that it all came from that. Did you go undercover? Did you find footprints? Did you copy them down?
“I want to hear everything.”
The Moustachioed Gent squirmed but only within his own body so that from the outside he continued to appear as calm and nonplussed as a cocky black cat.
“I, er, I’m not sure… shall we order?”
As the Moustachioed Gent waited for his yak to arrive he tried to avoid his moustachioed girlfriend’s pleas for information and he began to dearly hope that he would find an end to this case, that it would all come together. Because at that moment he did not have a clue and if that was how it ended he was going to look pretty stupid.
The sky lay weakly yellow like an ill-begotten handkerchief.
The captain stood at the window and watched as a Moustachioed Gentleman got out of his van and entered the house. He could tell that he was a Moustachioed Gent because the tips of his long, droopy moustache fell out of the bottom of his helmet, though it was impressive that the captain could see anything at all through the tears which fell endlessly down his face. They ran like waterfalls, beginning in his eyes and running down over his nose and cheeks until they reached his lips and were sucked back into his body to rejoin the water cycle of sorrow.
The ingestion of tears made it difficult for him to speak but the Moustachioed Gent seemed uninterested in what he had to say anyway, he was already busy at work. Lying flat across the living room floor, he began to tap at the skirting board with a pencil, then proceeded to thump the carpet with the flat of his hand and to test the sound of the radiator with a tuning fork.
Below the black and anonymous insectoid bubble of his motorcycle helmet, the Moustachioed Gent was fitted entirely in tweed from the pads of his shoulders to the softly-furnished soles of his feet. The captain watched him as he worked in a creepy silence.
The Moustachioed Gent’s partner was stood outside the front door, smoking in the rain. He was a Moustacheless Man, his face like a dusty desert scrub, and he wore a coat with a huge black collar like a dead bat stretched around his neck. The Moustachioed Gent enjoyed his investigations and the Moustacheless Man enjoyed smoking in the rain, and although it was not his job the cases afforded him some good time in which to pursue his hobby.
He looked up and down the soggy terrace which soaked in the rain and then warped and then squeezed it out through the gutters and gullies. The whole system set up and run by an internet in every home. Scurrying through the houses invisibly and tirelessly. The Moustacheless Man was not sure how it worked exactly, but that was ok, it wasn’t his job to know. His job was to link the helmeted confusion of the Moustachioed Gent with the requirements of the real world with regards to the investigation into errant internets.
He did this by smoking in the rain until it was time to explain what the Moustachioed Gent had found.
Inside the house, tears were still gushing down the cheeks of the captain who had lost his internet and if the rain were not a problem then all the water coming out of his face could soon cause a catastrophic flood. He was a young, blond captain and he was used to having the internet buzzing and rushing through his home. What would he do now?
That was not a question that the Moustachioed Gent could answer. Looking for the internet was all that he needed in his life.
Eventually he took a hot drink having concluded his investigations. His helmet remained on his head and no safety could persuade it off. He had been trained hard, tracing loose internets in walls and floors, in the air. Out in the wilderness tracking was easy but in the jumble of connections in a street like this it took real skill. He could find a fleeing internet… but he also knew when one had gone. He explained this to the Moustacheless Man and now it was time for him to do his work, explaining to the captain just exactly what the Moustachioed Gent had found.
It would not be an easy time for the captain, his home life would not be easily run without his well-trusted internet. The Moustacheless Man wondered if the captain had loved his internet. Maybe he would never love again. With some helping, consoling and cajoling the Moustacheless Man did what he could whilst the Moustachioed Gent waited in the van.
These conversations always made him nervous and so he had retreated quickly. But he was not alone in the van. The air cracked and fizzled with information and then sat still for a moment, calm and peaceful like an infinite gravity. And the Moustachioed Gent knew that even though he had found it, there was no point in trying to persuade it back. From under his seat he took a jiffy bag and held it open until the nervous, shaking internet finally slipped in, away from the damp terrace. And, in the first post tomorrow, to a new life in South America.
The next time I saw him he was wearing the kind of clothes I had not seen for years, which seemed like its own kind of time travel. He appeared at the door to my flat and looked ill – like he was going to be sick or had just been sick or both. And when he limped in and sat down he tried to explain himself and it made me feel like I was being spun round and watched like the earth by the sun.
“It’s like being picked up and thrown around and put back down again, some days I repeat seven times and other days I skip through as though I’m on fast-forward. There’s no logic to the loops, they just happen and…” he shook his head. “Have you seen Groundhog Day?” I nodded. I wasn’t an obvious confidant, just someone who happened to be there when he was hit by the bus.
It was six weeks since I had knelt down in the road and helped the paramedics cut him out of his grey suit. His suit was made of recycled plastic bottles, though that had not done him any good. Those plastic bottles had served as bottles and then been thrown away and recycled and made into a suit and they had failed as a suit the moment he was hit by a bus and had to have his clothes cut off in the middle of the street. I had never expected to live in a time when plastic bottles could be recycled into suits.
“Hospital was not an easy place for someone like me, someone with my physics. They rely on your days moving in the usual procession, it helps them check on your recuperation.” I thought about his smashed bones in the road.
It came down to what you could believe in. I moved in my clothes through to the kitchen to make hot drinks and thought hard about what he had told me. He wanted a cup of tea whilst I would have coffee. I take little pleasure in making tea, the only thing I enjoy is watching the water slowly turn brown as the tea bag hangs in there like a fish on a line. I do not like the smell or the taste and I find the removal of the bag unsatisfactory and dispiriting. On the other hand, I enjoy making instant coffee with the sound of the teaspoon crunching into the freeze-dried coffee and the sound it makes when the milk hits it and I also enjoy the sound and the taste and the soul of it.
By the time I returned to my living room I had come no closer to working out whether to believe him or not. “I know there’s no way I can prove this,” he told me, still looking ill and clutching his mug like it grounded him in the here now. “But this is the third time I have had this day and the third time I have come to visit you.” His confession made me uneasy, as though he had admitted to sneaking in to my room to watch me sleep. Like he said, there was no way that he could prove it – no way of me knowing if he was a nut or for real.
Half way through Groundhog Day, when Bill Murray realises that whatever he does he cannot break the loop, he steals the groundhog and drives off a cliff. “Is that why you got hit by a bus?” I asked. He didn’t want to nod, he didn’t want that to be the first thing he told anyone. I wondered what could possibly cause his world to be structured like this and could not think of any reason for it. I think he sensed that I was close to not believing. I wondered how many other people he had tried to tell.
“Well, I suppose I came to say thanks for your help.” He lifted his mug bottom-up in the air and downed the last of his tea. Drinking must still have hurt, everything must still have hurt. He did not look comfortable as he stood up. “And I suppose I’ll see you again today. Who knows, maybe I’ll be allowed to move on to tomorrow.”
Once he had gone I drew the curtains and sat at the kitchen table and held my head still with my hands so as to think better. I kept thinking of him stepping out in front of that bus, wondering if he regretted it afterwards, how he felt when he did not loop, when he did not have the chance to do it all again. How uncertain his life was. The thought of him returning in another day and telling me the same thing all over again made me feel like a little naked fish swimming in a bowl.
I pulled a big thick jumper on and sturdy shoes so as to ground myself better and then returned to my thinking position. And because I still did not believe him there was nothing I could do but sit and hope hard, hope like I was a kid again, that he would somehow be allowed to move on.
I made this book on Monday. It has a hole (for hiding things I suppose) in the middle and a pocket (for storing things I suppose) on the back. More soon!
It looks a bit red and scary in those photos but it is a very nice book really. Um