Tenerife: 3

For once,  (not the first time, if I am honest) I am glad of my raging hangover.  I drink an Irish coffee at 9:50am.  I am glad because Simon admitted to me, in the last,  awful bar we were in, his infidelity to Debbie.  The man had been in danger of seeming okay in my eyes.  The father figure I might grow to like.

“Twice,  she caught me,” he said.

The other times?

“Many, many times” he says.

I realise I need to get drunk because the truth hurts.


Tenerife: 2


Simon and Debbie have been married as long as I have been alive.  They ran pubs, all over, including The Gypsy Moth in Greenwich. I tell them I know it.  Simon’s job is to sweeten the barman.   Debbie checks the rooms.  He is now a stout used-car salesman and they live in Blackpool.  “Shithole” he says,  with a smile.  He’s driven Jags and lived through days when you could pile into a car and just go for a drive.  “Now it’s all tax” he says and the thing is, he is right, to some extent.  That purple patch is long gone.

Carol, or Karen (it is loud, she is quiet) makes up the group.  Her husband died two and a half years ago.  We drink lurid cocktails the colour of anti-freeze.  She is hesistant to speak.  Simon makes terrible jokes that make me laugh.   He sends around 12 texts a year.   “I like the email though,” he allows.

The next day, my hangover subsides in slanted hot sunshine.  I walk, and walk.  Directionless and motive with You on my mind.

Carol sits outside again the next night as ‘Cabaret’ is in full swing.  She lights a Berkeley. 

“He made me confident,” she says.  “When he died, my confidence just went like that.”. She mimes a fall with her hand.  “Oh, I’m getting maudlin.  Just tell me to shut up.”. But I want her to tell me the bitter truth.

“We never really talk about.  Dying, I mean” I say.

She goes on to slowly, hesitantly tell me about her son, her daughter.  The plans her and her husband had.  Her father is 84 and hasn’t had a passport since his wife, her mother, died.  She was 77.

“What religion are you?” she asks. 


“Oh, I like them.  They’re a bit more like us.”

Who ‘us’ is isn’t clear but I can see that since her husband died, her entire system of self-confidence and action has taken a battering.  “He used to tell people I was better than I was, you know.  So I’d … ” she tails off.  Her anecdotes about Raj Motors and the genial Sikh guy who fixes their cars are like comic relief.  They sound like Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads”. 

“He’s a lovely man”, she says.

It is late and my hangover is catching up with me.  I make my excuses and head up with two large glasses of water.  In my room, I read “Diary of a Nobody” by George Grossmith and there is something delicious about thinking of it as I pen these lines.


Tenerife: 1

I smoke a Marlboro.  The Bahn Mi baguette salves a lunch. Gatwick is nicer than I expected.  I am too tired to shop.  I made a pin badge for a girl this morning and told her I was in love with her.  I’m shaking under the air con.  I drink a Diet Coke and all I can taste are saccharine bubbles.

This is the Year of the Knife

What does that lyric even mean?  I play it, ponder it.  Rewind it.

Here’s my excuse / here’s my excuse /
That I don’t any better

On the plane over I sit, or have sit next to me (you choose: this is as much your story as mine) some mothers who do their best to fill every vacant second with chatter. My annoyance ebbs and flows.  They are not so bad, but then I think, wait: yes, they are.  A sense of a lack of direction informs their chat.  It is talk of many holidays, of skiiing, of husbands and curly haired children.

You baby boomers had it good huh? Affordable housing, secure pay rises, free education.  You really pissed in the pot huh?  I look around and my friends have wrinkles forming around their eyes and we are not married and have no children and we are either happy or sad or somewhere in between but the difference is that we don’t have the upstairs downstairs des res on good mortgage terms.

I think of baby boomers as I fly to the Canaries.

Yes I think of you too.  This is as much your story, as it is mine.  This is as much you as me.

Liturgy of Modern Love: IV

If we’re clear on this,
And I think we’re clear on this,
Then we’ll proceed.

We’re not so mired in ourselves
To not know what we’re doing.
(We know what we’re doing)

Now, let me talk about this One:
You’re the only One:

When you smile
Your crooked Joker’s smile
And put that trapper hat over those
Corn-fed locks and cowlick hair
I’m yours.

Our schooling without direction
Passions without erections

Sense of duty
With its d e r e liction
Oh elixir of the still point
Pour your honeyed lies
Into my open Eyes: do you feel all right now?

Now, let me talk about this one;

Now, let me talk about this one:

“Tide is beginning to turn … Friends aren’t coming round”

But the tide is beginning to turn, according to Lindsay Cuthill, a director at Savills estate agents: “When this trend began five years ago, there were all sorts of amazing media rooms with surround sound and banked seating, designed for friends to come round,” he says. “But people are realising they’re not using them like that. Friends aren’t coming round. They’re probably great if you’re 13 years old, but it seems they have limited appeal beyond that.”

From The Guardian, Friday 9th November 2012, link

“Sons & Fascination”: a review

A review of my novel, from email archives.  From a publishing professional at OUP USA.

You can find my book here: http://amzn.to/eaTVCx

“My primary impression is that it was manfully told. And it certainly covered a lot of ground: the destabilizing force of an errant woman, the metropolis alternately exalted and detested, that peculiar mode of being single and twenty-something that relies on constant pretense and affectation while at the same time despising it. And of course it certainly qualifies as another entry in the annals of “you can’t go home again” and “you can’t escape yourself”. Also check mark for “a stranger comes to town” (quite literally in this case). But fundamentally, a manfully told tale about not-quite-men, the women they fail, the aspirations that mock them, the choices that dog them. The music they listen to. Oh, and I guess I can add “laugh-out-loud funny!” since I did laugh out loud on one occasion.”

Liturgy of Modern Love: III (prose interval)

It occurs to me as slanted Autumn sun comes into the carriage that a lot of people who have said that they would keep in touch have not kept in touch and that makes me sad.  What use were the crazed confessions of love now that days are spent in front of Excel edifices?  I track my dissonant lovers through an ether previously unavailable to me.  It is Web 2.0, an awkward and gauche term for what might well be termed your living history.  Ghosts tangle and dangle in front of your weary senses and you press a button to exit a screen.  Slanted Autumn sun has told me all things must fade but that the beauty and Love is there like the dust on the rose bowl: you must disturb it.  Look at the glitter (dust) ! Look at the glitter (dust) as it falls to the ground.