Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Annals of the Eerie, pt 2.

Here’s an entry I unaccountably omitted to post. On the morning of the 16th March, while driving into work, I glanced up through the tinted glass of my sun roof, and saw a faint rainbow halo around the sun, presumably caused by high-level atmospheric ice crystals. I have previously seen this phenomenon around the moon at night, but not the sun. Looking through the front windscreen, which is not noticeably tinted, the effect was almost invisible. What caused me to glance upwards at the moment I did? I don’t usually drive in that posture, of course. Possibly not as eerie in retrospect as I obviously thought at the time.

Moving away from the eerie, I should introduce you to Tinsmiths, which has rapidly established itself within the Ledbury demimonde. They are purveyors of exquisite manifestations of quality fabrics, materials, and some art prints and a few books, each selected for its singular appeal. They have agreed to take the limited edition book of Excavations of Eternity, by Jeanette McCulloch and me. Hopefully, a more accessible outlet will mean that the rarefied exclusivity of the Turn Up site need not be such an impediment to sales. Apart from my understandable desire to get your feet through their door, I believe you would benefit from the experience in any event. Look for their sign near Boots in Ledbury High Street.

The 2010 Ledbury Poetry Festival starts on 2nd July. I am barely able to contain my delight that Michael McClure is event number one! The beat poets were one of the major forces in my version of post war culture, and were the major inspiration I needed to attack an innocent page with a nib. You may or may not regard that as a good thing. Then there’s Billy Collins and some local input, such as Jeanette’s collaboration with Graham Hartill, which I am itching to see. And the town party is back. How anyone was allowed to shut that down in past years is beyond me. I suppose salsa-dancing poetry aficionados are regarded as subversive in some quarters. I am planning to partake in the Ledbury Lyricists evening at the Prince of Wales on the Wednesday. I aim to have a few new ones to try out, accompanied by one or two refreshments. If noting else, I shall take the opportunity to raise a glass to Chloe Garner, the festival director, who has surpassed herself with this year’s programme.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Billy Button's Back Story

Are the truly doomed afflicted with an inescapable foreboding from birth? Is it a genetic imperative, or a self-fulfilling prophesy? In retrospect, I suspect that Billy wrestled with these notions throughout his formative years, so that by the time he was ready to launch himself upon the world, he took with him an impediment that could only possibly have been removed by vast forces independent of and beyond his control.

This is not to say that he did not have moments when a shaft of light might appear, when perhaps he was able to sense the illusory nature of his perceptions. Sometimes such an episode was sufficient to fuel a surge of enthusiasm. I believe it was in just such a lather of excitement that he approached me with the proposal that Turn Up would benefit from a Dick department. I confess that my initial reaction was to remain silent, a silence that was hidden behind my question, “what do you mean?”

“I see it as a natural home for Richards,” came the reply.

Well, I reasoned, we didn’t get where we are today by turning our back on the adventurous. I offered the man terms on the strength of his audacity.

“I will provide a ceremonial launch, and if you can find and establish your office, you’re on.” I waved my arm vaguely in the direction of the green labyrinth, where dim corridors snake off into the miasmic archaeology of the East Tower.

We searched for a suitable celebrity for our event. Cliff was attending to his seagull, and Keith had fallen from a coconut tree. I couldn’t see that that should have been a problem as he was only required to sit there. In the end And Judy was able to favour us with his undoubted charm on the proviso that we gave the event no publicity while allowing him to drain the colour from our corporate wallet.

All went as planned, but the shadows were forming around Billy’s eye sockets even as he set off to search for a departmental office. I even tried to dissuade him at the eleventh hour, but to no avail. He was off to a new life with all the enthusiasm of a scalded sloth.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Corporate Structure

Every now and again it is necessary to go through the process of realignment and shake-up, hopefully to arrive at another stage of development. It is easy, frankly, in the arcane corridors of Turn Up Towers, to set up whole departments and lose them, perhaps years later stumbling across a lost patrol trying to find an exit.

Of course, these things are always launched with the best of intentions and to the accompaniment of suitably well-fuelled and star-studded send-offs. A private view works wonders in the establishment of the correct frisson of interest to initiate the venture. Sometimes, even amidst all the fluff and bubbles, one catches the doomed depths of sub-conscious awareness of the futility of the endeavour, the anticipation of abandonment, in an unguarded eye or listless smile, usually of the senior appointee involved. It is a moment to bring pause and shudder, but a bright light on a glittering earring will usually do enough to ameliorate the full horror.

Only last week, I was on a nocturnal foray into the green section, which glows with adipose malevolence, when I found myself ducking behind a pillar to avoid detection as I witnessed the strangely meandering manifestation of Billy Button’s shadow as it crossed the main passage. Wilted, stumbling, crowed to a point almost to stretch the recognition, it was certainly the umbrage of the man who had been appointed Head of Dick only three short years ago. The warts gave him away.

That’s the trouble with giveaway warts; they in cyst on situating themselves within the curtilage of observability.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Never, they say, discuss politics or religion in decent company. Well, quite, and, then again, the room sometimes becomes so stuffed full of elephantine flesh that comment is necessary.

Someone in Turn Up’s crack team of observers has mentioned that an election is imminent, if not already well and truly afoot. The natural inclination of at least 50% of the population is to recoil in deep apathy. We are told that former generations died to obtain the vote, probably not as an ironic gesture. Indeed, we have a system whereby the ballot box is used in preference – to what?

We’re good at self-deprecation, keeping our heads beneath the parapet, dodging the question, lying low, irony, fast-food, beer, and pontificating in the UK. We call it humour.

Turn Up’s policy is not to seek to influence those who believe in liberal democracy, on the paradoxical basis that that is the one system that would allow us to do so. Is it an act of perversity to mention in passing that we are suspicious of special interests, fat-trousered benefactors, or the sound that licked lips make when they freshly emerge from the trough? And what of the financiers, generals and theocratic mumblers who remain well-hidden?

Maybe you want to give these folks free run of the levers that direct the parameters within which you have no choice to live. Maybe it’s raining and it’ll be difficult to park anyway.

Jus’ sayin’.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Yes, imagine my surprise at running into a dishevelled Orville Quantock at the bar of an hotel in Neath. Yes, Neath, not Nice, where pleasant climes approximate.

Not having seen the man for months now, my natural inclination was to enquire after his wellbeing. A certain cast of eye and wind stopped me in the tracks from advancing along that avenue of re-introduction. There was a deal of swivelling into lackadaisical position and bracing of the shoulder before he could bring himself to acknowledge my presence. I hadn’t previously clocked him as a man given to action for effect, but he seemed to have undergone a personality change. Rapidly, we arranged another meeting to be taken under less observation. I sensed there was something to disclose, about which he displayed a marked reluctance. I’m sure we’ve all met the type of cove for whom each approaching slice of life will arrive enigmatically and with a fanfare of overweening self-importance. Orville, mate, get out a bit more.

It was only after I’d reached home that I discovered that he had slipped a note into my pocket whilst I was engaged in the above studies, and that his whole display had merely been a distraction. The man had outsmarted me again! More of this anon.