Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dear Diary (first published circa 2007)


A bit cloudy. Might rain.


Milk delivery late. Mom phoned. Might go for walk later.


Milk late again. I'm going to complain. Not a lot worth writing about.

Got a creative writing course tonight. Hope it's okay.


With little prompting the bedroom curtains glided apart. Squinting into the bright morning light I was struck by the marked absence of an inter-galactic invading force. The sky, a pristine blue, was significantly uncluttered by a hovering menace. Closer inspection of the horizon revealed a lack of tell-tale dark and eerily-lit smudges heralding the approach of a twisting ferment of dark tumbling clouds. There was to be no near-apocalyptic storm this morning.

Sitting quietly on the telephone line, a lone sparrow twitched and flapped its wings, as if shaking-free the accumulations of yesterday's dust and grit. Its smallness and insignificance emphasised its non-display of cold menace. No Hitchcockian show of feathered malevolence today.

And along the tranquil street, each entry, alleyway and parked car, devoid of life, shouted loudly the non-presence of a crazed stalker, obsessed and devoted to the documenting of my life, manifest in a shrine of pictures and words.

Then, in my peripheral vision, I caught a movement. Striding purposefully up the street, a lady. Encased in a full-length, shapeless, gabardine coat, and sombre, ex-GI combat boots, she strode impassively, looking neither left nor right. Her isolation and aloofness spoke meaningfully of its antithesis: a pouting, full-breasted siren beckoning me; provocative, with hips thrusting outwards to give emphasis to the idea of her soft-haired mound...

Breakfst beckons.

Ah well, not much doing again today.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Birthdays? Smurfdays!

I don't understand Birthday celebrations. Throughout history, billions upon billions of people have also had them. So what possesses us think our own is so distinctive?

It was too long ago for me to remember, but it's a safe bet my mother screamed, or at least uttered a stifled moan, as with one final push, she painfully ejected me from between her bloodied thighs into the early morning air of post-war Britain. The year was 1949 on the 27th day of March. For the rest of the country, rationing and re-building were the order of the day, but for me, as with every newborn child, I was unconcerned, I would guess, by anything other than my immediate problems.

The first priority of any newborn child is to protest loudly at such an undignified introduction. And who can blame it? Anyone familiar with the aftermath of a particularly violent and bloody brawl in a vat of jellied eels will understand this - to be smeared in this vile, slimy, gunk, and be naked to boot, is... well... I ask you! And then of course, there's the process of acclimatisation; getting to grips with this strange, new, and potentially dangerous environment you will come to know as The World.

Birth is a violent and rude introduction to this planet. What it isn't is a seismic shock reverberating around the Universe, foretold by angels, and feted by allegedly wise geezers bearing gifts. We come into it as we go out: insignificant and usually gasping for breath. If you're lucky enough to survive the first day, each and every day thereafter is special. These are the ones that concern me. As I write, today is the most important day of my life.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Growing up...

You know you're "grown up" when...

... you realise just how ordinary other people are, despite their 'labels'. Now the politicians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, directors, writers, managers, etc. cannot chastise, humiliate, or cow me. Only I can do that to myself.

You ever heard of that saying from the Bible, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things? What a load of bollocks! For the remainder of my life it's my sole mission to regain what I had when I was a child. Apart from measles, mumps and chicken-pox, that is...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Foul Monday

I sometimes feel possessed. Maybe I'm schizoid? I'm aware of at least two selves residing inside this 62 year old, sometimes svelte, sometimes decrepit (It depends on who "I" am at the time) shell. At the moment, it's the latter. I'm a curmudgeonly, cantankerous old cunt.

Today, I'll be mostly fantasising about flamethrowers. My flamethrower. I've decided to indulge my extreme irritation by striking out, as least in my my mind, at the world. I'm cultivating reveries of slaughter.

As an aperitif, prior to my first dose of caffeine, I'll be engaged with mental burning of fellow passengers on the cross-city line - carnage on the quarter to eight! Well... they're so invasive... a chap needs a little room in the morning, especially on Mondays.

That's how it is. I'm changeable. And tomorrow... who knows? Maybe I'll blog about the autumnal and wintry changes taking place in my back garden. We're so privileged in witnessing the sad, but beautiful, decomposition of life. Or instead, I might take time to tell you of my dog, gentle Ruby. I could cry with joy just thinking of her. But until then...

I'd like to give one or two work colleagues a squirt. Just a couple of quick bursts... in their faces... It's what I want.

I still feel irritable though. It's not like having sex, which culminates in glorious release. Indulging one's ill-feelings, even in fantasy, is ultimately futile. I know that. Yet I still want to squirt the fuckers.

Don Swift. Keeping it real.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Shopping - for males (first posted 28/09/2006)

The speediest way for a man to become virtually unconscious, is not, as you may have thought, to take opiates, consume large amounts of alcohol, or even listen to a David Cameron speech. Even watching the most tedious of reality shows, Big Brother, surprisingly, doesn't cut the mustard either; not when it comes to inducing bodily paralysis. This mantle belongs to that expedition much loved by the ladies - the "shopping trip".

Any male committed to the preservation of his relationship will find himself compelled periodically to accompany his partner on shopping safari. The usual excuses, headaches, general nausea, or early signs of testicular cancer are best shelved at this time. This particular stinging leaf has to be grasped. Although, for what it's worth, in an attempt to ameliorate the situation, it is allowed to express one's firm intention to "not enjoy it". Not that this has any impact, as the response is a blinking stare, and the faintest of smiles. Women can be so cruel.

Because these forays into the high streets and malls are so infrequent, men tend to forget the essential purgatoriness of the "shoe, skirt, handbag and hosiery" environment. So into the bright, heavily scented emporiums they go, humming and happy in their ignorance; until that is, a nanosecond after crossing the threshold, the sickening memory returns - knowledge of "the male mind's essential incompatibility with female goods".

Colourful fabrics, delicate finery, and leather, fashioned into bags and pointy footwear, are to a large extent non-computable for the masculine brain. When confronted by them, it instinctively looks to "lock on" to a thing of substance, something meaningful; but having nowhere else to go it looks within itself; in doing so, it effectively shuts down all but the essential bodily functions. This is experienced by the victim as a sudden breakneck plunge into a deep trance-like state. Accompanied by a yawn, the beleaguered male staggers, seeking support for his quickly sagging frame.

It's not all gloom though. Once in the sitting position the victim can recover. If he has a mind to look past the lady-fare, and focus instead on mental images of shiny, metallic gadgets, or great sporting events of bygone years, he can at least regain muscle tone and a measure of consciousness. He's identified as, the seated guy with the stupified grin.

Alas, this period of recovery is invariably short-lived, as the poor wretch has to move again in response to the call, "come have a look at this and tell me what you think?". Hauling his drained body into a standing position, again he runs the gauntlet of non-computables.

"It looks fine" is the stock reply.

"You're just saying that so you can get out of here"

"No, it's nice. I really like it". This said, despite not seeing anything, apart from a shadowy, materially something, identical to every item in this and every other shop. The only priority is getting out of there. Lying is a small price to pay.

A desperate glance over your shoulder finds your former seat occupied by another convalescing, semi-offline chap; panicking, you look towards the small space at the edge of the window display - damn, it's occupied too!

And so, on it goes; the relentless cycle of shut-down and savage re-awakening. Who'd be a man?

Next time you're in Monsoon, Dorothy Perkins, or similar, notice how many seats, platforms and steps are occupied by males bearing a marked resemblance to extras from a George A.Romero horror film.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Thespianism [they can't arrest you for it!] (first published 05/10/2006)

I could have been an actor. A proper one... you know... an "aktaw"... not one of those "wannabees", those deluded talentless persons who frequent the TV reality shows. I'm talking "boney fidey" aspiration here.

So? What's all this about I hear you ask. An actor... Donald? Surely not.

Yeah, okay you're right. It's not strictly true. It's more a muse, a fantasy. But I have good reason for this reverie, apart that is, from desperation to post.

Last week, during my creative writing class I was asked to read aloud a poem I'd written for an assignment. A daunting task for sure, as nowadays I do little public speaking of any description, so I was more than a little nervous; but still I managed... and two readings at that. And guess what? To my surprise, someone complimented me on my reading. Blimey... thought I.

It's always nice to be given positive feedback, so I naturally I was delighted. And on reflection (a thing I do a lot of) it struck me, it must have been the deliberation I showed when reciting. At some point over the years, I must have picked up advice on how best to project myself publicly. This amounted to resisting the natural urge to self-consciously rush through proceedings, to dash, in order to get the reading over with quickly. Instead, I took my time, paying careful attention to punctuation, and where needed, the appropriate tone of voice; for instance, when the line was a question, I read it as a question. Simple, eh? So, my good friends (said in loud, 'hammy' tones) by any yardstick, it has to be said... I performed.

Okay, so let's not get excited, I know this doesn't qualify me for RADA or even an Equity card, but there's more. There's a precedent.

When I was a young boy, around 11 years old, I took part in a school play. It was based on a 1950's popular TV soap opera , entitled, "The Grove Family", and I played Bob, the father (sounds a bit religious, don't you think? Bob the father, Bob the son.. see?). Anyway, my only memory is of hair 'greyed' with talcum powder and a matching stuck on moustache. And as to my performance, and more importantly, how I felt about performing, I'm afraid I have no recollection. But fast-forward to my mid-thirties, and I'm attending college auditions for a role in Tom Stoppard's, "Albert's Bridge". And what's more, I'm eager. So it's obvious, innit? I'm compelled to assume my earlier acting experience didn't leave any negative, invisible, wounds. On the contrary, I was following some subconscious imperative. And of course, I got the part - the lead role of Albert, no less!

It was suggested at the time, by unkind persons - otherwise known as, "those who only managed the lesser parts" - my success was due to the director's fondness for me (a female of course). It's a damn lie I tell you, a lie! Okay, she liked me, it was obvious, but getting the part, I can assure you, was due to my efforts in the dramatic arts. I remember distinctly - as with my poetry reading - paying great attention to pace and appropriate voice modulation. I did the business man, and performed. I have no doubt, with my deep (or deepish) voice booming, it was the most sponditious of auditions.

So what am I saying? Well, I've often joked about "being a contender", someone of significance rather than a non-entity, so perhaps this is a pointer. Maybe I could have been an actor. After all, over a period of 40 years or so, there's a connection, a performing strand.

In reply to those who would accuse me of spinning tenuous arguments, let me tell you, if billions of people, with little, or no reason, can believe in the existence of a divine power who intervenes here on earth (and often by request) then I'm sure I can squeeze a little meaning out of these three instances in my life! I insist therefore, you luvvies indulge me in my moment of illogical, irrationalism.

The art of thespianism, I tell you, could have been mine!