Dead Parrot Sketch

I wake from a dream about a dead parrot, try to remember the details and then wake up again.  I spin around and round writing short stories about dead parrots on anything I can find, a whirlwind mini-industry of dead parrot literature with dedicated shelves in all the high street bookstores.  I write down so many stories that I have all the possible permutations of my dead parrot dream covered.  I wake up again, frustrated that my stories are lost forever.  I think about writing them all again and then decide I can’t be bothered, which is fortunate because seconds later I wake up again anyway.  I get out of bed and make myself a drink.  In the kitchen I find a dead parrot on the floor and decide to start a collection.  I use a hole punch to make two small holes in one of its wings and snap it into a ring binder along with a whole load of short stories that I find lying around.  I wake up again, clutching my dead parrot ring binder.  Then I wake up without it.  I wake up again and find it under a pile of other stuff.  This is getting ridiculous.  I try to sort through the layers of sleep so that I can put an end to this nonsense once and for all.  They hang in front of me like pieces of translucent plastic sheeting.  I push through them, waking up and waking up and waking up again and again, dead parrots falling all around me, dead parrots in my hair and in my mouth.  Finally I wake up properly.  The world seems so real and familiar, a thousand times more lifelike than in my dream wakings.  I can hardly believe how easily I was fooled.  Later: “Is this a story about dead parrots?” a friend asks, reading my work over my shoulder.  “No,” I say, “it’s about waking up.”  I print it out and clip it into a ring binder along with a translucent sheet of plastic.

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The Doctor

The things start coming out of the washing machine, and there are lots of them.

He is sitting against the bedroom door, a noise like the TARDIS blaring from his stomach – a sound like the TARDIS taking off and taking off and taking off, appearing and disappearing and reappearing a hundred times a minute.  A sound like that.  He shivers and clutches at himself, his face contorts and he gasps for air.  “Are you regenerating?” she asks.  She is worried about him, knows he hasn’t been happy for weeks.  She puts his cape around his shoulders.  Lights a cigarette and puts it between his lips.  “We’re all,” he says.  “We’re all regenerating.  All the time.”  She smiles on a cellular level, and remembers.  He shakes, his coordinates all over the place, fit-fit-fit-fitting in fast and miniscule movements against the bedroom door.  On the other side of the door they can hear climbing, dragging, scraping as the things come out of the washing machine.  More and more of them.  Fit-fit-fit-fit.

When he has finished, he climbs out of the window.  He is still wearing his cape and it billows around him like bad weather as he descends the drainpipe.  She follows him.  “Are you ok?” she asks once they are on solid ground.  He nods.  She wants to hug him, to show that she loves him, but he is not a tactile person.  They get into his little blue car and she drives whilst he takes in water and salt, looks at his hands, thinks, they listen to ‘Satellite Of Love’ on the radio.  They stop at a barbers and he has most of his hair shaved off, then they continue on in to the town.  In the changing room of an expensive men’s outfitters he tries on a charcoal grey suit, applies eyeliner and mascara in the mirror.  Buys the suit.  “Wow,” she says when he reappears.  Back in the car, he paints his fingernails as she drives them away from the town, heading for the coast.  When they reach the sea they stop and buy ice-cream, sit in the car and eat whilst they listen to ‘Satellite Of Love’, which is playing on the radio.  “Better?” she asks.  “Almost completely,” he replies.

They return to the flat.  He drives slowly, they listen to the radio.  “So, those things.  In the flat,” she says.  “Yes,” he says.  “It’ll be ok?” she asks.  “Yes.”  He is thinking whilst he drives, thinking about the things in the flat.  “What kind of washing machine is it?” he asks.  “I’m not sure.  Is it important?”  “Probably not.”  She always does the laundry, he does the hoovering, that’s how they function.

She looks at him and thinks and worries about the things that are in the flat.  She knows it could be serious.  She cannot help but look at him, the new him, the cut and dash.  Admire his new androgyny.  The way he holds himself in a new, sophisticated way.  Even as he drives he has his legs crossed.  She rolls the window down, puts her hand out and high-fives the lampposts, the passing buildings, the clouds, the sun.  Knowing that her man is back.

Meanwhile, he is formulating a plan.  He begins to drive faster in the little blue car until they are speeding through the streets.  “We are all regenerating…” he says as they go.

He parks the little blue car outside the flat.  They can see the things crowding against the window.  There they stand, things in the clang and the dream and the image of an army, all stopping and standing together, beating one fist into the other.  Dislocated in time and space and after him, after him, after him.  “What are they – what do they want?” she asks.  He does not answer.

“What are they?” she asks again, eventually.  “Infrastructure,” he says slowly.  “Bits and pieces.  Things constructed out of pipes and bolts and things that hold things together.  Things from under the ground, things from inside the walls.  Things made of things, taking forms…  And then they’ve climbed out of the washing machine and into our flat to come and get me.”  “Why?”  “Because,” he says, sitting there, smart in his newness, his refreshed aura, “because they could tell that I was unhappy.”  “And now?”  “And now?”  “And now you’re not?”  “They don’t know that.” He sighs and his heavy head drops and he examines his painted nails.  “They still want to recruit me,” he says.  “So…” she says, “how do you beat them?”  “Its not a case of beating them.  They want to help me.”

“I just have to persuade them that I’m happier doing this.”  She takes his hand.  “And are you happier-“  “Yes.”

“I suppose we’ll have to go in the way we came out.”  He gets out of the car and starts towards the drainpipe and she follows.  The image of the him climbing the drainpipe in his new suit is an odd one.  She allows herself a smile.  From the drainpipe he gets on to the window ledge.  The window smashes as the infrastructure break the glass and grab him, drag him inside.  He disappears face first.

She climbs faster, following the same route.  From the window ledge she can see into the flat.  He is nowhere to be seen, engulfed in the morass of things – monsters she thinks to herself now, nothing but monsters.  The way he walked in there all confident, she had thought…  That everything would be alright.  That he would just walk in and sort it out.  The things – the infrastructure – are barely distinguishable as individual beings, they appear more like one room-filling mass of pieces of metal twisted into vaguely recognisable skeleton shapes and he is nowhere to be seen, nowhere at all.  Nowhere, she panics.

One of the things breaks off from the brawling mass and she can see how it is its own separate entity.  It turns toward her, completely disinterested.  There is a pause.  And then she, frightened but more frightened of losing him forever, leaps forward with her hands set like claws and grabs at the thing and joins in.  The thing, taken by surprise, is wrestled to the floor by her kamikaze attack but soon more of the things note the disturbance and launch a counter-attack, shoving her to the floor, crowding her until she feels like she is being suffocated under so much machinery.  And as she feels the weight of the things on top of her, and the absence of air to breathe and breath in her lungs, she thinks that this is the end, that she too will be killed and taken off by the things, stolen away by the infrastructure for a life as piping or cogs or some kind of plumbing.

And then there is movement, the feeling of the things moving, the pain easing.  “Stop!” she hears someone shouting.  The things are rearranging themselves, taking a step back.

“Stop!” again.  And then his face is above her.  His beautiful face, bruised and bloodied and swollen.  He helps her to her feet.  She stands and breathes.  Thinks about them both being alive and, still, human.  They turn to face the infrastructure.

“Look,” he says, addressing them.  “I am happy here.”  He glances at her.  “I’m staying here.”  “Thank you but you can leave now.”  The things stand still and look like nothing more than some scrap metal sculpture cluttering the room.  She looks again, can’t make out their faces.  There is no suggestion that they will move, disappear just as they appeared.  She nudges him.

He takes something from the pocket of his suit.  “Here,” he says.  “You can have this.”  He throws the object and as it travels through the air it unfurls and lands draped across the stationary things.  “You can take him, take him and make him part of your infrastructure.  I don’t need him any more.”

Nothing happens for a moment.  And then the things slowly begin to shift once more.  The cape disappears within the tangle of clanging thinglike bodies.  Some of the things begin to nudge the door open.  She stands next to him and neither of them move, neither of them say a word, neither of them dares to breathe until the last of the things has dragged and scraped their way back towards the washing machine, climbed in with a tumble of noise, and disappeared again.

They see to their cuts and bruises, their war wounds.  Then he hoovers the flat whilst she cooks.

As they eat their tea she looks across at him and asks: “Do you feel better now… do you feel like that was what you needed… to reinvent yourself?”  He nods imperceptibly and they listen to ‘Satellite Of Love’ on the radio as they eat.  Later on they have a conversation about something completely ordinary, and it feels good.

Hermit Poem

Deep in the hood of my favourite winter coat,
cut off from the world like in a cave across a moat
where no one can get at my brain or my throat
and thoughts come and go in a little row boat

with the tide and with the moon and stories told,
the changing seasons and the leaves turning gold
and I didn’t see the sun until I was nine years old
just the clouds, the wind, the rain and the common cold.

Now I’ve got holes in my teeth and holes in my boot
and holes in all the pockets of my trousers and my suit
where I hid away the biscuits and I only left the fruit
when I said ta-ta and retreated with a wave and a salute.

Retreated to my cave on the other side of the moat
cut off from the rest of the world, adrift but still afloat.
Decisions need to be made but I’m the only one with a vote,
and I cast it in the hood of my favourite winter coat.

Mini Guernsey Map Thing

Here are some picturres of a book I made recently, a kind of mini map of Guernsey made from an old big map of Guernsey.  I bound sections of it – mainly bits of the coast – together with tracing paper as I had some vague idea that this would allow someone to trace around Guernsey.

This was the first bit of binding I had done in ages and I’m not entirely sure it worked.  I’m not entirely happy with the cover and I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with it.  Still, it got me back in practice and I’ve got some other ideas for books which I’m hoping to try out soon.

Day #9963

Adventures In Writing And Reading, Part 2

In the same way that children are not just miniature adult humans, short stories are not tiny novels.  There may appear to be a structural resemblance but short stories follow their own logic, often following bizarre threads in quick-fire bursts, momentary headrushes, peeks and snatches of truths.  They burn fast and bright and then they are over.

BARRY YOURGRAU: Sand from ‘Wearing Dad’s Head’

Barry Yourgaru spins tight and tiny tales that resemble strange dreams, filling them with the urgency of high-octane adventures albeit filtered through a fuzzy screen of befuddled motives and consequences.  In ‘Sand’, the author is sent in search of his dead father, who has perished in the desert in search of stewed fruit, and proceeds to strop and worry and not get a lot done.  It also involves a recurring joke about gout, which is quite good.

Most of the stories in this collection involve the author and his parents and the complex relations exposed by the weird events which occur.  What I love about these stories is that Yourgrau does not set impose any limits on what can happen and yet manages to pull together meaning so that what the reader has in front of them is not just a series of bizarre events, but a very definite story which is infused with hopes or fears or paranoias or urges… so that the dreams become of universal, rather than merely personal, relevance.

DAVID B: The Heads from ‘Nocturnal Conspiracies’

David B is a French comic artist/ graphic novelist – call it what you will – who first came to my attention when his novel Epileptic was recommended to me.  Epileptic is an autobiographical novel about David B’s brother’s battle with epilepsy and his family’s attempts to help cure him, which also enompasses history and philosophy and whole worlds of myths and Gods and monsters.  What really struck me about it was the use of visual metaphors – the panels were packed with beasts and armies which represented the family’s struggles.  I later found his book Nocturnal Conspiracies, which features depictions of nineteen of David B’s dreams.

His pictures serve to illustrate his dreams more vividly than words could.  These dreams are not just beautifully rendered but are also fascinating stories, which are often shot through with paranoia – see the title.  ‘Heads’ involves a strange giraffe-headed man and some butchers, and the whole thing is shot through with an unspoken and mysterious air of sinister animosity.  As in all of the dreams, the author is present – in the form of a shadow in this instance – and he observes the unfolding of events.  I think the appeal of these short graphic tales is in the accuracy with which David B has managed to capture the nature of dreams and the peculiar shape and unfolding of their narratives.

STANLEY DONWOOD: Dracula from ‘Slowly Downward.’

The subtitle for Stanley Donwood’s book is ‘A Collection of Miserable Stories,’ and whilst it is true that most of the stories feature protaganists who drift and limp along through life, his stories are not without humour.  They often start innocuously, involve some kind of spectacular and/or unlikely event, only for the story to end with everything pretty much the same as it was at the beginning.

Everything is downplayed – take for example a zombie story entitled ‘An Accident With Trellis’,  or the self-explanatory ‘Rubbish Time Machine.’  In ‘Dracula,’ the protaganist finds himself kidnapped by the Count whilst on holiday in Romania, only to find that Dracula has had to open a theme park to pay the bills.  He does, of course, escape and ends the story wondering whether he has done the right thing.  The juxtaposition of the mundane and the fantastic, as well as the internal worries which haunt all of his characters, seem to be Donwood traits and whilst he courts and plays up to the idea of his characters being ‘miserable’ and hides the emotional core of his stories behind weird narratives, I think that this is very honest writing.

In Episode 3: I will almost certainly be writing about AL Kennedy, Dan Purdue and Rob Shearman.

Who Cleans The Insides Of Postboxes?

I bit into my sandwich and it left a tiny streak of butter on my cheek.  I was worrying myself into circles.  “That’s how you end up with stones in your shoes,” my old boss would have said.  He would have said that, and I would have stopped worrying.  But now he wasn’t here, and I was worrying and I had stones in my shoes.  I finished my sandwich, eating and thinking, my mind and my jaw both working in circles.

Sandwich over, I picked up my phone and dialled down the line to my assistant.  “I need some results right now and you’d better, you’d better have some results or… have you got any results?  Have you?”  He sighed a long sigh down the long long telephone line.  No, there had been no progress.  We were no closer to finding the bugger.

We had officers searching high and low, on the look out for a whisper of a snippet of an idea of a clue.  “Don’t put all your chickens in one basket,” my old boss would have said.  “Because they might not all fit.”  I’d have felt like punching him.  But having him here now, to help as we looked for that elusive bugger, that would have been good.  I carried on and on in circles, all through those chewed-sandwich days.  “Someone must know something,” I said to my assistant.  The man we were looking for was not particularly dangerous, but he was a nuisance, a right pain.  His thing was fake goods, and they were everywhere.  Everything from fake sandwiches to fake shoes to fake stones.  His fakery was all over the place and no one in the city was sure that what they were doing was real any more.

The bugger had evaded our detection through the canny use of fake noses, fake moustaches, fake glasses… fake skin.  We knew that he made wigs out of roadkill and could only guess at what other materials he was using.

I was at the the Library of Criminal Thoughts and Deeds and Processes and Perpetrators checking up on the work of the criminal librarians, when the call came.  The librarians’ job is to search through the dusty books of crime – the past, the present, the fictional – looking for anything which could help us.  They were not too pleased when my phone rang and disturbed their quiet and tender work, but I answered it all the same.  “Boss,” said my assistant.  “Yes?”  “We’ve got a lead.”  “Yes!”  “Interrogation are on their way now.  And administration.  And the anaesthetist.”  “The anaesthetist?”  “Yes.”  “I’m on my way.”  I wasn’t on my way, I was still stood in the library.  But moments later I was in my car and speeding to the address I had been given.  I met my assistant and the rest of the teams just around the corner from the address and he filled me in.  “Mr Nathaniel Breakfast, a known associate of the bugger.”  “Good.”  “He may be quite feisty, we thought it best to send in the-“  “Yes yes,” I said.

The operation went like this.  Stage one – the break-in team would break down the door.  Stage two – the immobilising unit would rush in and grab the target.  Stage three – the anaesthetist would administer a local anaesthetic.  Stage four – the interrogators would fire questions at the helpless, woozy, befuddled target.  Stage five – administration would go in with the case filing cabinet so that all the relevant documentation was to hand.

I strolled in just as the interrogators were getting into their stride, barking confusing questions at Breakfast.  “Where?”  “When?”  “How?”  They kept things simple.

Eventually, Breakfast gave us the address we were looking for – the bugger’s base of operations, his centre of fakery, his little world.  An abandoned junkyard out on the Dapperdude Road, near the traffic lights.  Administration verified it against the information we already held and when they had confirmed that it all stacked up, I asked the interrogators to check again.  “Check before you trek,” my old boss used to say.  It wasn’t one of his better sayings.  The interrogators fired the questions at Breakfast again, harder, faster, closer.  The wrecked man gave the same information a second time.

And I was gone, out of the building and down the road.  This was where I was best.  The best catcher in the force, my old boss used to say.  That was why I had followed him into office.

I tore down Simnel Road and then Getadog Lane and up the redbrick avenue known locally as The Shallots.  Then I slowed, stealthy stealthy catch the bugger.  Crept around the corner, my fingers steepled in fake-weaponry, playground style.

As it happened he was standing out on the street, enjoying a kerbside fake cigarette.  He looked at me through the clumsy disguise of his fake moustache, glasses, nose, skin, teeth.  The large cardboard collar of his coat which brushed against his roadkill wig.  I pointed my fingers at him.  He swore and dropped his cigarette.  The chase began.

The somewhat innocent and vaguely anonymous members of the public who were out and about that day – and I, having been so obsessed with the investigation did not know what day it may or may not have been any more – moved out of the way of our rough sprints, the two of us heads up and pounding our way along the pavements, land flying beneath our feet, arms everywhere, wild wild.  The thrill of the chase.  All the days and weeks of frustrating investigative procedure disappeared behind me.  I could have chased the bugger forever if he’d let me.

As it was he ducked into a café on the Bestbitter Road.  As I followed him into the rather grubby establishment I expected to see him scrambling through the back door but instead I found him backed against a table, breathing heavily, holding a sachet of white sugar as a makeshift surrender.

He had been a clever bugger.  Cafes were neutral ground – I could not arrest him in there as per the revised rules and regulations of investigation and arrest.  Still, he was only denying the inevitable.  He held his hands up as if to acknowledge the fact.

“Sit down with me for a while,” he offered, and I did, warily.  There was no one else in the café but us, save for the owner who busied back and forth between the kitchen and the counter, averting his eyes from the table at which myself and the bugger sat.  “Can I get you something to eat?” he asked, and I noticed that whenever he spoke his fake features wiggled up and down with the movement of his jaw.

I declined his offer with a shake of the head and took an apple from my pocket.

He sighed and spread his hands on the table.  “Look, I’ve surrendered.  Can we just talk in a dignified and peaceful way, please?  I’m not just some dumb criminal mastermind, you know.  I have thoughts about all kinds of things.”

“Like what?” I spat the question in the way that my old boss had taught me.

“The nature of reality.  The hidden things that people don’t… things like… who cleans the insides of postboxes?  And when?”

“You’re just faking a clever thing to say,” I told him.  “You make all these things, these bogus things, you replace real and solid things and sell people flimsy replicas.  Even your words aren’t real.  Your sentences are transparent shams of sentences.  Your ideas are boxes of hot air dressed up in disguises.  But you don’t fool me.”

He listened to what I had to say and then left a silence across the table for a moment.  Then he put his wrists together and held them up for me to see.  “So arrest me.”

“You know I can’t.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re in a café.  You know that we can’t-“

“That would make sense if this were a real café.”

I looked around at the walls of the crumbling establishment, at the tables, at the windows.  It all seemed real enough but then I remembered how good he was, how adept at making people believe the authenticity of the inauthentic.  Maybe we were sitting in another of his lies.

“Ok, good one.  But why are you telling me this?  Even if you think you can escape me, back up is on the way.  Tens of police officers will be-“

He waved his hands in the air as if to shut me up.  “Yes, yes.  That would make sense if they were real police officers.”

I stared straight ahead, thought about what he had said and about the quality of his faked goods.  I took a long, deep, crunching bite of my apple.

And then I began worrying myself in circles again, doubting my colleagues, my assistant, my old boss, everything and everyone in a flustered loop until I didn’t trust the clothes I was wearing or the hair on my head.

As I finished my mouthful I grabbed hold of reality again.

“So what is real?” I asked.

“Me, you?” he answered.  “I don’t know.  This is what I was saying about the nature of… whatsit…” he coughed, “reality.”

“Reality?”

And then all in one movement he stood, upended the table and was across the counter and out of the back of the café and I, my wits about me, was after him.  The chase back on.  Reality forgotten.

In the back yard of the cafe, as the bugger tried to climb over a pile of cardboard boxes, my assistant caught him in a rugby tackle.  Out in the open he was fair game and nicked with the satisfying snap of a pair of trusty handcuffs around his wrists.  I tore the disguises from his face, looked him in the eyes and just for a moment he looked – stared – straight back at me.

And as my assistant lead him away, the bugger knew that he had planted a seed of doubt in my mind.

Day #9955

Adventures In Writing And Reading, Part 1.

Gah.  Huh.  Hold it.  Is this thing on?  Ok.  Well.  Yeah.  I’m no good with these things, addressing the audience directly and all that, and I don’t really know how to begin.  Lets just explain what I wanted to write about and then I can just get on with it because once I’m past the beginning bit it’ll all start to work a lot better.  Hopefully.  I wanted to write about short stories, other people’s short stories, but my initial hurdle was working out how I wanted to approach it.  See, the reasons for me wanting to write about this were along these lines…

I read, and write, a lot of short stories.  A lot of short story writers inspire and influence me.  So.  A little while ago I stumbled across a WordPress site called Short Story Addict which submitted a review of a short story each day.  I enquired of the writer of this blog (James) whether he ever reviewed unpublished work and sure enough he agreed to read one of my own efforts.  His review of ‘Gareth and the new shed’ turned out to be the last thing he posted.  I’m pretty sure that I didn’t break the blog, though perhaps I put him off reading short stories for good (if so, I apologise to him and to anyone else who has ever read anything I have posted here).

Anyway, it made me think about writing about short stories myself, sorting through the mass of published works instead of just adding my own clutter to the (even bigger I imagine) mass of unpublished stuff.  So here I am, and here you are.  Don’t go!  My aim was to write not just a quick review but to add in some thoughts as to what makes a good short story, what I like about short stories and anything else that the stories I have picked might throw up.

So.

I’ll get on with it…

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: Times Square In Montana from ‘The Tokyo-Montana Express’

Of course, I wanted to start by writing about my favourite author, Richard Brautigan.  His best collection of short stories is probably ‘Revenge of the Lawn’ but, in-a-wrong-way-round-kind-of-way I have lent my copy of this book to a librarian.  So instead, I’m going to turn to his collection, ‘The Tokyo-Montana Express’ and witter a while about a short story about changing lightbulbs.  You see, this is the kind of thing I like to read short stories about – tiny, simple, everyday tasks which become bigger and more complex once they are approached with an imagination and enthusiasm for celebrating the mundane.  I get the impression that Richard Brautigan lived his life by looking for the strange and profound in everyday events.  It’s certainly how I exist.

Listen to this:  “Last night after watching a high school basketball game in town, I went to a store that is open 24 hours a day and bought two light bulbs, which was one of the greatest adventures of my life.”  Which is a great way to set in motion a story about buying lighbulbs.  I don’t want to spoil the story/ put you off reading it (delete as appropriate) so I won’t go into too much detail but I can say that this is not a story with a major twist – not much happens beyond the purchase and fitting (etcetera, etcetera) of lightbulbs in a house, filtered through the lens of the author’s paranoia and dreams (etcetera).  Brautigan is funny and engaging and a great advert for the impetus behind a short story being how-you-tell, not what-you-tell.

RAY BRADBURY: No Particular Night Or Morning from ‘The Illustrated Man’

Here’s something that I think people want when they decide to read a short story: wisdom.  They want to learn something.  It’s why so many short stories that you read have a twist in the tale or some kind of poignant ending designed to make the reader go ‘ah’ as they finish the piece.  That way they can put the book of short stories down and go off to do the washing up with the resultant lesson in mind.  Which is fair enough – they don’t want aimless stories about buying lightbulbs, they want…

Ray Bradbury!  Because he is the master at this kind of thing.  And when it is done well it is a more organic process than the one described above.  Bradbury often takes his stories into outer space but the emotional punch of his writing is always rooted in human logic, desires, feelings, failings.  No Particular Night Or Morning is little more than a philosophical discussion set in space, played out between two characters who act as blank canvases, reeling the reader into the discussion (and questions of memory and reality and time and self).  This story works so well because Ray Bradbury is able to tap into the worries and cares that most people carry around with them.  And then makes them think.  Read him!

ALESSANDRO BOFFA: You Look Like You Could Use A Drink, Viskovitz from ‘You’re An Animal Viskovitz’

This is the funniest short story I have read… shall I say ever?  Let’s say ever.  For now.  And it’s only three pages long.  And it’s written by a biologist!  How to explain… This is a collection of short stories about (largely unrequited) love, with each story concerning itself with a different species – snails, lions, scorpions, etc – and their particular physical/ cultural/ sexual quandaries.  It is heavy on biology but instead of hindering the stories, this creates new narratives.

In ‘You Look Like You Could Use A Drink…’ Viskovitz (as the protaganist in each tale is named) is a calcareous sponge, a creature which would not seem to offer a writer much material to fashion a story from.  Boffa must be congratulated for inventing such a great one.  The problems with being a sponge in love seem to be the following – an inability to move in any way and his unannounced and sudden periodic sex changes.  Which all makes it very complicated.  And I shall not say any more about it because it is only three pages long and so if I say much more I will spoil it all together.

That’s it for now!  That wasn’t too bad…

In the next episode of this (and there shall surely be a next episode now that I have taken the step of writing a first) I will discuss some, more or all of the following:  Robert Shearman, Adam Marek, AC Tillyer, AL Kennedy, Dan Purdue, Tao Lin, David Gaffney, Judith Schalansky, Stanley Donwood, Kurt Vonnegut… who knows!

Festival

In a small field they are dancing
Like the apes from The Jungle Book
Burned red by the high noon sun.
The field is all shapes and flags.

Abandoned sunglasses crunch underfoot.

On a ramp, the clank and thud of
Skaters performing jumps and turns
To the sound of a commentary as
Alien to me as the shipping forecast.

“Tailwhip on the spine,” to, “Portland, slight or moderate.”
Sounds bleed in from all directions
Until everything is dizzying and non-stop,
Until everything becomes an art form.

Words and Pictures by Ric at the Guernsey Festival of Performing Arts 2011 (Saturday 2nd/ Sunday 3rd July)