When the fallen leaves remind you that Summer’s gone
And the days are getting short and the nights are getting long
That’s the time to think about where you’re going to
That’s the time to think about what you want to do
The winter is coming, and with it a pause
There’ll be time to consider, to smooth out your flaws
You’ll be ready in no time, to get on with your life
For now, take it easy, enjoy the long nights
NOTES: This is off-the-cuff on a slightly drunken Saturday night, so will more than likely be deleted in the morning
A short passage of work in progress from ‘The Flying Boy’
(one of the novels I’m working on)
There was a girl once, almost fifty years ago, at the end of the sixties, beginning of the seventies. You were seventeen or eighteen; she was a year or two younger. She played a guitar and sang her own songs. You can’t remember now if she was any good and don’t know if she became successful, whatever that means, but she at least had potential, and now and again over the years you think about her and wonder if she ever got anywhere with her music. According to Wikipedia there is a singer with the same first name as her from the same town who might be the same age and could be the girl herself, but you don’t want to research it any deeper than that because whatever the result it would tarnish your timeline. Continue reading
Blog: From Web Log, From ‘Logging your thoughts and activities on the World Wide Web’
Once upon a time there was a thing called blogging. It still exists in name of course, for example this website is built on WordPress which is known as a blogging platform.
I first started blogging around the turn of the millennium when it wasn’t much more than a few nerdy types writing the odd banal paragraph about their lives and opinions. I didn’t do much at that time but I set up a website to use as an online journal. The website was built and edited using raw HTML.
Around eleven years ago I started a new blog using the Blogger platform. Then moved it to my own site using WordPress. The blog was anonymous at first under the pseudonym Skintwriter. It wasn’t long before I was just one in a worldwide community of bloggers. We each kept a blogroll, i.e. a list of links to other bloggers, who we hoped would reciprocate with a link back to us.
Anyway, because I used my own domain name there were no adverts on my site, nor on most of the others. We paid our dues to the purveyors of internet access and started building a community. No one else had control of the content of my site, no one could tell me what to post, no one made any money when others read what I wrote. Continue reading
Something I wrote on my birthday
Happy Birthday To Me
It’s a scratch on the wall
a step on the path
It’s my birthday again
another year’s passed
If years were seconds
there wouldn’t be many
not much more than a minute
(An old poem: from around 1999)
Do you want to be a vegetable,
or a pineapple chunk?
Would you like to be a rotten grape,
Or if you wander in the woods
and eat the fungus balls
Does that mean that you’re a spore
My mother likes a bit of fish
all soft in crispy batter
now when it’s raining cats and dogs
she says it doesn’t matter.
Sometimes on a Saturday
my brother eats lamb curry
I think his face has started
to go all white and furry.
If it’s true and we’re our food
don’t you think it’s time
to serve up David Beckham
Posh Spiced, with sage and Thyme
Or maybe we will tuck into
On a bed of Holly Wood
Be careful of the bones
15/3/89 – 16/3/89 Midnight
Late and alone again. The cigarette end crushed in the ashtray, the insect trapped in the lampshade and the television in the background. It’s all really in the background even my hand scribbling on the paper, my own thoughts. Earlier my own weak flesh succumbed to the curse of overeating, my own lungs demanded too much cigarette smoke. Now I am ensconced again in my satiated accursed body.
Safe in the warm bosom of the living room, sitting on the edge of the dilapidated sofa, my obesity squashed against my thighs, feeling the awful fullness again.
The spiritual human trapped in the world. The world continues to turn and my own thoughts continue to whirl. Sleep is the blessing, if I can. Timing is crucial, if I go to bed too early, my acid stomach will wake me at two in the morning; too late, and I will be overtired, hyped up and full of dreams. Distraction is crucial, something for my whirling mind to latch onto. From the background the late night broadcast from the Open University; ‘Three psychologists comment on the play of some 1 to 4 year olds.’ How wonderful to be so wrapped up in a vocation and believe that in some way you are making a contribution to the flash of light that is man’s brief sojourn on this planet.
He sees the small one, eyes down, knees up, trying to understand why he’s just been stung by a wasp in the sun. He wants to tell him not to stay in that place; he wants to tell him to shake it away. Look, everything’s going to be all right.
But he can’t, he has to shake this away even though he suspects it may not be true. Didn’t he read something the other day about memory? How it is simply a mental construct from one physical part of the brain. How that part can be damaged or destroyed. The being can still function but more on autopilot than by intention.
Maybe his memory is damaged; maybe what he defines himself as is gleaned from broken brain cells. Whatever – it doesn’t matter anyway, because this life is a one-way trip.
He sighs, yawns, gets off the sofa and stares at a fly trapped between the net curtain and the glass. Alone, he’s alone, he’s so alone.
Something has to be written about these times; sorry that my skills are not as good as they should be. There is nothing I can do about that – my skills are the only skills that are available. I am the only one left and time is running out, so there is no time to get any better at this. Perhaps in a hundred years, someone will find this account interesting enough to rewrite it as a work of fiction – it’s dramatic enough. It would make a good film. I wonder if they’ll still have films in the twenty-second century? It’ll probably all be holograms by then – total immersion in a fake reality. But then what is reality anyway? And if what has happened here happens more widely there won’t be much left to fret about by then.
I’m sitting in an empty oil barrel inside a deserted factory – it used to be a machine shop. I used to work here. Now all the lathes and grinders have been sold for scrap and all that’s left is this oil drum and the run down building that surrounds it.
All around me lying in various awkward positions on the cold greasy floor are the bodies of the others. These were my fellow travellers, my crew, my gang, formed from an alliance of survivors. It has been six months since the coach crashed and it took us six outlaws every one of those 180 days to get here. I can’t look at them any longer, and there is nothing I can do but wait until the dangers have passed and all I have is this notebook and this pen. I hope it doesn’t run out . . .
Here’s a painting from nearly 15 years ago – one of the first I did. It was painted on the back of a placard/protest sign that I had previously used in a satirical community play I wrote called ‘The History of Llangennech – Part 2’
Blodyn has become a bit of an icon for me since I painted her. She was used on the cover of my poetry collection “The Words in Me” and will be used again on the cover of my new collection “More Words in Me” due to be published in a couple of months.
Here she is:
And here’s the back of Blodyn
Myself is in a shell,
Being hung up
I shed my shell,
I am being sat;
Upon a wave
My shell is shed,
Do I find to be done.
In the phase,
Outside, it’s muchly warm.
I am being moved myself,
But be looked
We Us-self do change
Our scenes and our shells
And in the interim of truth
We’ve such a much to tell
When the Internet took hold a small proportion of people started keeping blogs or journals of their thoughts online. Then Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media platforms emerged, and now everyone tells everyone else every day what they’re thinking, whether that’s by sharing content they relate to from other sources, or whether it’s by the creation of their own original text and imagery.
This is all welcome of course, it gives those whose voices were previously unheard a way to let the world, or at least their extended social networks, know what’s important to them. It doesn’t stop there either: if you want to publish a book it’s easy, just open an account with Createspace, upload the text and cover image and it will be available worldwide almost instantly. It’s free and you don’t even have to buy a copy yourself. Fancy getting your artwork onto T-Shirts or mugs or greetings cards? – just as simple. And if you haven’t got the time or skills to do it yourself there’s always some student willing to do it for the price of a pizza.
As a bonus, now and again a seemingly random scribbler is raised from the ranks and elevated to the status of superstar vlogger or best selling writer of tacky fiction, thus giving us all hope that one day, as long as we continue with our prattle we might be discovered and earn those millions we have always deserved.
But what does it mean to all the people who previously defined themselves as professional writers or artists or photographers? Those who spent time and money studying, and dedicated most of their lives to improving their skills and producing ‘work’? I mean nobody wants to pay for anything anymore, least of all for the witterings and snapshots of some stranger when they can get all the above and more from their ‘friends’ for nothing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you’re someone like me who has been writing since long before the advent of social media then it’s tempting to believe that all the noise now being created by every person and their companion animal is somehow diluting the literary or artistic merit of published work. I mean, without the traditional gatekeepers, who knows what kind of hideous barbarians will enter the citadel?
On the other hand you may think that the privileged few who were allowed entry in the past have finally got what’s coming to them, and now have to be judged by the whole hive mind rather than just protected by a small cohort of praetorian guards.
I’m not sure, but I do believe that most people, whether they define themselves as writers or artists or neither, are capable, with lots of practice and a little guidance, of creating work that is every bit as good as that which was previously created by the few patricians lucky enough to have had the opportunities in the dark ages before the Internet.
To Me is the title of my next book. It’s been written specifically for myself and it is dedicated To Me, but I don’t mind if others read it.
I think everyone should have their own ‘To Me’ book. Luckily I have the experience and skills to publish my own.
Using Print on Demand it doesn’t really cost anything but time plus the cost of any printed copies, and you can buy just one copy if you like.
I’m working on the final edit, it looks like it will end up being about 103,000 words and 310 pages long in an 8.5″ x 5.5″ format.
Here’s a sneak peek of the cover:
I thought I’d written about this before but can’t find it anywhere. I know I did write a poem at least, and I know it ended with the line ‘But there’s always burnt jam.’ I can’t find that either. I wonder how many other poems or snippets of writing I’ve lost, many of them on paper from my teenage years, and many more on broken computer disks since. Ah! Sometimes you just have to let things drift down to the dim depths of the Akashic Records.
It was the late sixties, possibly 1970; I was seventeen or eighteen years old. I used to hang around with a group of young people from around the town of Llanelli, where we behaved in ways that defined that period if you believe the myths that have arisen since. The truth was there were not that many of us, no more than a few dozen – a hundred or so at the most, and that from a population of around 77,000.
We were a small group, but we were highly visible because of the way we dressed and the way we behaved – roving around the streets, openly smoking joints and tripping on acid, as well as squatting the grass opposite the town hall, playing guitars and engaging in free love, well free foreplay at least. Continue reading
The Artistic Imperative
* Warning – this is a self-indulgent ramble *
When I was young I was told I was very clever. ‘You are so intelligent,’ they used to say. I was also a very nice kid – generous, gentle, helpful and uncomplaining. I was full of life – ‘Fond of play’ as my form teacher wrote on my final report from the primary school. I was top of the class, number one of thirty-four, and that was in the A stream in the final year at that school – so at that time I was the top pupil of the whole school.
To be fair my teacher recognised this and wanted me to apply for a scholarship to go to Llandovery College – a private school around thirty miles from my home – it would have meant boarding I believe.
But, my parents didn’t have the wherewithal, either in monetary terms or in imagination to pursue the idea and the teacher realising it was an impossibility, let it go. As it happens, I’m glad about this, I don’t think I’d like the person I would have become if I’d spent those important years of my childhood in such a place.
Now, I’m approaching my 65th birthday – my mother is disappointed in me. I can see it in her eyes – and anyway, she says it often enough. ‘You used to be so clever,’ she’ll say. ‘You could have done so much.’ Continue reading