from a fiction

Typewriters. There’s a meme. Orchestrated, drumming as would impatient people at bus-stops, fingers against timetables. Maybe the typewriters created the timetables. Smoke in the circles, circles as lines. But the typewriting people – me, as one, there are others – indicated something. There were voices, but I cannot recall them now. There’s a characteristic of dreams; voices and sounds rarely remain. If anyone says different, potentially they’re being untruthful.

So if not only typewriters, what else? A house, a very nice house. Three floors – maybe more? Certainly expensive. Wallpaper, patterned, ever-so-slightly raised, suggestive of a show-room. Carpet, white, I had to take off my shoes as I could see the mud I was bringing with me. There was two showers in the one bathroom….was there? Certainly [X] – who I have not seen for ages – was there, dressed in a manner I have never seen before in real life. So fantasy? No, plain sight, just ordinary. Not that kind of dream.

Something else. Or, “other”, then, but I cannot recall. There was three wake-ups this morning, for house, and for typewriters, and for some other interruption. My stomach currently swims with too many full bowls of Sugar Puffs and milk (my fridge houses only milk and pasta sauce). Was it family, in the third chapter of the dream?

I cannot recall.

always something

On the train to Burscough, to catch the friendly against Accy Stanley (it’s a 1-1 draw, they scoring with some assistance from our back-four having a collective brain freeze. We pull it level half way through the second half, with the kind of curved freekick-with-rebound-and-triple-Salko movement which suggests all is pretty much as was since I last took the visit to Victoria Park.)

(Oh, no, wait, there’s two un-covered stands suddenly constructed, that’s new.)

A bloke at the Baron’s bar takes a look at Sky Sports News’ coverage of Rhyl playing Belgrade in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League. “How come they’re playing Belgrade and we’re stuck with Accrington Stanley?”. Good question, well phrased, to which one answer would be “Because they’re Welsh” but that sounds insulting and disingenuous so….

Onwards to crazy dreams. The new flat has caused some elements within my deeper moments of sleep to be ever more creative than usual. Miniature trains, song-and-dance numbers, narrative structures far stronger than usual, colour when they’re usual monochrome or an unusual gold-and-black…I assume when all is settled in the real world the same will happen to that which flows through the brain at sleep, but as there always seems to be something going on this could take some time. There’s not always important things, but enough to be going on with. Worries but not of anything important, niggles perhaps. Getting by, making do, terribly and awfully English things.

I should do more with the overheard conversations I pick up when travelling to work on Class 142s juddering along the East Lancashire Line. One bloke having a whinge about swine flu (he was considering with his mate how much of an actual government-created conspiracy it all was). A few days ago I overheard a bloke propping up the bar discussing a recent claim made to him about racist views. “F’cours I’m racist, course I am,” he explained to whoever was listening, “And this bloke says to me, he says, ‘You’re ignorant, you are’, and I says to him, I says, “You’re blind and braindead’.” I’ve been beaten to “Overheard in New York” but there’s always a more local version…

Saying that, I’ve got reviews, LibDemmery, a new reviewing project, interviews, “settling in”, three weeks of work on a limited budget…..Always something. I’d complain if I were bored, I bet….

to pause

Inevitably the dreams on Saturday night were menacing and obscure, the first sleep in a new flat clearly designed (perhaps even pre-determined) to tap pointed fingers through the thin bubble of my consciousness. Basement flats attract very little natural light, but at least the fear of having a downstairs window broken while being upstairs, resting at the back of the mind as it has for years, can be calmed. I am not the only person to have this, am I? The sense of an imminent break-in while being elsewhere, always close enough to force CDs to be stopped or televisions to be muted at the slightest creak or scream? No…?

I cannot fathom how it is so late on a Monday night, actually. It seems the moving-in has occurred with the similar trip-switch rapidity which characterises most of this year so far. It’s like a photo album with a soundtrack remixed by South Central or watching a video tape on fast-forward, images jarring and jump-edited amongst the washes of white-noise. Drinking much in Blackpool folds into eating a seafood lasagne on Mother’s Day which merges into the counting of the votes which somehow takes me to yesterday on a sofa watching Poirot.

To pause, only for a day or so, would be good. Although inevitably there is no pausing at the moment. There are elections to be organised, so eager am I to show the people of Broadgate and Riversway that there is an alternative to the complacent and over-confident Labour councillors. I need to get back into writing and reviewing. There’s a camping trip in Scotland. There’s….house….stuff. The previous owners have donated a wine-rack, which is the surest sign and purest definition of temptation if ever I saw one.

Somebody somewhere asks, “Are you happy, though?”, and I have to respond “Yes”, because the rapid sense of movement is perhaps a case of “careful what you wish for” in reverse. Imagine time going slowly, so slowly, that the days seem to be filled only with the clicking of clocks or the dripping of taps, or the tapping of keyboar…No, er, yeah…Doing nothing all night, that would be unthinkable…


(My Norwich by-election post has been updated)

Phoned my bank’s call centre today, to confirm the change of address and such like….Not as straightforward as I thought. The young girl with a sing-song Norn Iron accent informed me address change was carried out by a different department, to which I was connected. Prepare to have a new password and pin to hand, said the recorded voice: I scrawled both on a notepad. There was a click, an ominous amount of total silence, and then a recorded voice informing me that “The other person has hung up….The other person has hung up….”

Attempt two was a few minutes later. A bloke with a James Nesbitt accent apologised for the disconnection, putting me through to the same department with the preperation warning. This call was answered by a mature-sounding woman with no sing-song lilt to her voice at all. She asked me for my password, which was not the same as the one on record, being as it was brand new. My phone banking has been suspended for years, I helpfully advised, so that’s the new one I was asked to prepare. It turns out that address changes can only occur with passwords, but not new passwords, only old ones.

Could I change my password? Only if I had the previous one. But that’s forgotten, so now what? There was actual silence, the kind you know means the amount of training given did not reach to this sort of “mobius loop” logic situation. She tried another tact – could I at least give it a go, there are two chances to guess. I have had my phone banking suspended for not being able to remember anything so doesn’t that suggest I have no chance of guessing it now? I swear the sound of a guide book being flicked through could be heard in the background. These guys are customer support experts, they do it all day, every day, no break, there is no logical situation they cannot resolve.

Except this one.

“If we’re at this situation I may as well hang up then?” I offered. Mature woman agreed. We said our bye-byes, and I hung up.

My credit card bill will fall on the mat of an empty house. Effectively it has been falling into the teeth of my shredder, so in some ways there is progress. But in case this has any long-term negative consequences I will attempt the simple act of changing my address again, face-to-face, tomorrow…

Comprehensive Spending Review

Some Sunday habits are impossible to break. Tucked up in bed this morning with The Observer, Andrew Marr, and a brew, as ever has been the case for years. Okay so when I was younger it was the Independent on Sunday, David Frost, and coffee, but time and age does funny things to a man.

Financial responsibility in this time of moving house and not even writing down rough budgets for the remaining month does have the hint of our Prime Minister’s avoidance of any firm decision on public spending. Unlike Brown, or at least I hope, there will be wakening up call from fate sooner rather than later. Why only this morning I heard a mother tell her son, “You have to be better with your pocket money” when he moaned about not having enough left for an oversized pebble-filled bouncing ball. That’s his version of, say, my council tax bill. It’s the rich thread of life, etc, etc.

One bottle of milk – 97p. One mini packet of sushi – £1. Five packets of CapriSun – £1. All consumed within moments of purchase. That’s responsibility right there. Okay, so this week I have no doubt that there’s budgeting to be done, not least because I have yet to prepare for the upcoming Scottish holiday never mind living on my own. Unless situations built on firmer foundations fashion themselves in the next 72-hours or so, you won’t believe the ideas I’ve drafted for the day before setting off camping….It’s all about dealing with the tough economic climate, you know, it’s sensible.


after the rain comes sun again

My current employment is with a company who carry out streetworks on behalf of BT, so the news banded about the mainstream media today about bizarre financial incentives took my attention. When BT sniffle, my company sneeze. Massive pay-cuts for not being seen until January, “term-time” employment, and bonuses for highscores on Facebook quizzes – only one of which is made up – are ideas which should be applauded cautiously. These troubled times are deleting many millions from the order books of some very large companies, indeed one our own “high ups” gathered us around for the kind of talk usually concluded with the announcement naming which two of us would be nominated and up for the public vote.

Okay, so bizarre news is all over the place recently. Michael Owen to Manchester United is not just unexpected it is almost as though history has flung a rumour from ten years ago into the spin-cycle of contemporary headlines: the usual saturation on the sports channels is tinged with total disbelief.

The heatwave now over – ish – I found myself the other night lying in a toasty-warm room, shirtless, listening to Olive’s drum-and-bass lead/only single “You’re Not Alone”, in a scene which could have been another drawn from history and flung through time and space. My cluttered and not-so-ordered mind has not prepared for anything which is to come between now and somewhere on the windier side of October. There’s the house-move itself, three weeks of getting to work on a budget tighter than most airlines, a pre-camping holiday drinking session, and the delivery of 2-and-a-bit-thousand Liberal Democrat leaflets. Somewhere at the end of all this is an exhausted body flinging itself into the Ribble. Every other day my mind remembers something important – email landlady, buy a better rucksack, check Burscough’s new signings – but until there’s one to focus on entirely there’s going to be more changeable thoughts, some kind of “cerebral sunshine and showers”, for some time yet.

Chronicles of House Move

There is nothing quite as disruptive or confusing to the mind as a house-move. Like the result of a blind re-write of a horror movie or the worst-case scenario from last-minute holiday escapes, house moves set free all worries in the mind at the same time as the hammer of reality is breaking holes in every surface between you and the end of the street. At the best of times I can evoke memories of the most mundane events from the past by just glancing at a particular CD or hearing the chorus from a certain song; walking through the empty house returns entire months of rollercoaster moments in a single up-load. By some trick or as-yet unknown escape my mind has not exploded.

There is no Internet access at home, hence the need to book in advance grabbed hours at the local library. A Czech man struggles to write home on a QWERTY keyboard to one side of me; at the other side of the library two girls giggle over Facebook photos. At home I have learned that going “cold turkey” with on-line activities has left me feeling somewhat weightless – my usual glances at Sky Sports News has grown into gorging on hours of repetition and vague updates from county cricket matches. Now that every programme has an on-line extra presence – when exactly did “send away for our factsheet” die out, anyone? – the missing elements of so doing at home leaves my hands twitching for any alternative activity. For the first time in weeks I have concentrated on reading something from a book – The New Helen by Oscar Wilde – whilst my mind occasionally darted to its usual habitual concerns of checking email, photo comments and blogs.

Meanwhile a dozen boxes lay dust-covered in the spare room, my intake of tea outside working hours as increased to that already health-threatening level inside the office, and every item of clothing never worn in months has been evaluated for future use. I do not need so many stone-washed jeans torn around the ankle; or quite so many grandad jumpers. Or for that matter an all green polo neck with an unflattering “doctor’s smock” look to it. Oddly I do not employ the same brutal “keep or chuck” premise to CDs and tapes (yes, tapes, both cassette and video), which means the music I listen to via Media Player or Spotify will come with regardless of actual use. I will never (ever) listen to “The First, The Last, Eternity” by Snap! this side of the Second Coming but its existence is connected to the “evoking memories” alluded to earlier. Ditto the one Counting Crows single I felt attracted to at some low point in my teenage years. I know, I know…

But this is the dawn, I suppose, of a whole new “all growned up” situation. Hence the sense of weightlessness and boredom and waiting; all the usual feelings of weakness and tension and stress are simmering while I maintain constant checks on the heat beneath. When all this falls apart and I’m found crying at the bottom of the Old Tram Bridge with a suitcase and three dozen copies of Private Eye you can quote me on anything said here or elsewhere about being able to cope.

hello and goodbye

Twelve boxes already packed. Piles of letters – financial institutions, many unopened, copies of Liberal Democrat News I’ll get round to shredding at some point…A charity-shop set of books ordered by shape and size rather than popularity. Clothes to wear over the next two weeks, clothes to consider donating, or throwing, or wearing for the first time in weeks. Moving house is one of the stresses of life for which evolution did not prepare us – like fixing plugs. Or eating instant noodles. Or caravaning.

Internet access will be sporadic over the next few weeks, so this is an update as much adieu. Or “see thee”, if you prefer. Recommended to buy a “dongle” by somebody over the past week, my Google search brought up assorted images which cannot be unseen.

There continues work to be done. And packing, so much packing. This blog will be maintained as best and far as possible, for the people who visit here (who, incidentally, I want to thank for returning, from Idaho to the Philippines via Uddingston, you continue to make this blog all the better)

Somewhere in the back of my mind clutters and collects dates, financial affairs, and the logistics of moving. Total confusion, in other words, scattered around in a soup of many flavours. I’ll attempt to write it all down at some point….

angels dancing on the head of a pin

Growing up certainly has its struggles. The younger me wandered around town thinking, no, dreaming, of being a writer, going so far as to invent holidays and travel stories on the hour or so spent walking from home to an arbitrary place on the outskirts of town. Today I wonder the ease of which someone could dream of becoming younger.

Finding somewhere to rent – the concept of buying a house is total Alice In Wonderland territory – with such a tight timeframe exhausts and bemuses me somewhat. Those twin deamons, Mr Fate and Mrs Fortune, have assisted the Darlingian Bounce by brushing up house prices. Estate Agents assume my solo status offers deep pockets. Looking for rooms to rent is a peculiar game, a form of real-estate reality television game show, with total strangers many in number walking into the studio half-way through the Bonus Round waving a cheque like Hazel Blears gazumping before you know what’s happened.

I walk from each To Let sign looking similar to a minor character in a low-budget French film. There should be close-ups of my hand running across fences and out-of-focus shots of my shoes. There are clocks ticking, and spoons clattering, and fuzzy white noise from radios, and it’s all in my head, but out there is a reality I cannot find the deposit for. Never mind house-hunting, never mind finding counting angels dancing on the head of a pin, I couldn’t find a barn-door with a banjo at this rate.

Because packing CDs away is too easy a discussion topic…

My wardrobe, somewhat paradoxically for someone far removed from the shallow world of fashion, bursts out at all possible directions and from all containers. There’s a look of the teenage “floordrobe”, the abandoned charity shop, the transit or movement of bodies. One washing pile waits to be stored, another to be washed.

Any fair or independent audit would conclude my dress-sense is the result of starting each year with the intention of choosing a new look to follow exclusively. Checked shirts seem quite safe a choice, although the faded blue-grey graph-paper style one only seems to suit the kind of look which goes with trousers pulled up to the bellybutton while sitting in a nursing home. Plentiful Primark hoodies, zips bust on all, clutter one side; a real but in-need-of-wash Adidas jacket is the current ‘old faithful’. Before this there was a plain red woollen type affair I once wore to college as part of an entirely red ensemble which made me look like the most self-conscious eccentric in history.

There are numerous t-shirts, some creased to such an extent they could be considered awfully chic. The “Jesus 13” longsleeve affair from the kind of ultra-swish store in Manchester, back when I could afford to buy such things, served by a swept-fringe doll with the expression of a bored porn star. Smart jeans seem to be in a perpetual state of argument with tatty, well-worn comfy choices. Like men of a certain age, I am no longer drawn to the conclusion that jeans can be a cover-up for all of the sins of gluttony and sloth; if I am indeed my father’s son, I will embrace the strained button and fading colour of the old favourites.

Packing everything away in boxes, as must be done at some point in the coming months, should see me deciding that I do not need corded flares, or a plain green polo-neck jumper which looks like a surgeon’s smock, or anything like that. But like most men of a certain age, I will promise myself the time to look at them at some point further in time. I don’t need over-sized skater pants, or grey hoodies with bust zips, or tight yellow t-shirts, or over-sized pink-striped shirts still looking for cuff-links, but why not take them to another house to decide then?