Sunday, 4 September 2016

Trousseau Distressed

'Well, Tigger says everyone's excited.'
'I'm sorry, Piglet, I still fail to see why.'
'Because it's back!'
'Back on tv.'
'Sounds a funny old name, Poldark.  What's it about?
'Nobody knows…'
'Or cares…'
'Well, actually, nothing happens.'
'So why is everyone excited?'
'Because at certain specified points the main gentleman with the lottest of words…he…well, he…'
'He what?'
'Gets his trousseau out.'
'Out, yes, his trousseau.'
'I would have thought his bride-to-be had the trousseau.'
'Me too.'
'Well can't she slope on and get it out?'
'That might provoke comment.'
'What, even more than him getting it out?'
'Mmm…even stevens, Tigger reckons.'
'Seems a bit churlish, him getting hers out.'
'No, no, it's his.  A symbol of flux, Tigger says, a mark of fluidity.'
'Sounds like they need the dry cleaners.  So he's done this before, this gentleman?'
'In the last series.'
'Hmm…doesn't sound very committed…'
'To what?'
'Oh, for pity's sake, Piglet--marriage!  If he's spent weeks just sloping on with a suitcase, flinging it open and getting his trousseau out, filling the screen with frilly shirts and red commabonds--'
'I don't think he--'
'Doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to tie the splice, is what I'm saying.'
'Well…you could be right…or she isn't.'
'Or she isn't.  They might be ready to go each time, script, director all set to yell through a megawatt, and she says "Hey, love, forget all that, why don't you just go on and do a bit of trousseau-distressing", and he says "You reckon?" and she says "Oooh, yeah, you know how I love the way you rummage about in your--"'
'Perhaps I'll tell Eeyore to give it a miss.'
'Well, it's set in Cornwall.  He thought it was about a donkey sanctuary.'

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

'Saturday evening houses in summer'

Published in Dream Catcher #33 (Summer 2016)

Saturday evening houses in summer

Saturday evening houses in summer
are all the go with pans and crockery
fed to the sink a flash of bus window
predicting out-of-season players massed
for the next stop brimful with pride with pain
but either way half-cut the table smells
of Indian or fish thin out beneath
the upstairs perfumes talcs the dresser-mess
wardrobes blown wide controlled explosions
of tops and knickers soon a thousand towns
will be turned over to the taxi-freight
of token ties alpine hems splendid lungs
till hours on a million mobile screens
skim through the dark like moonflakes
                                                               meanwhile those
becalmed in Saturday evening houses
confect distraction through other screens with
twenty year old rural bloodbaths or some
natty-pastel guide hopping trains from Rhyl
to Bangalore soon enough the taxis
will slow for drives and junctions abandon
the skewed the disassembled
the houses are growing their Sunday skin
to suffer the drag of car-boot lugging
feel retail routes unfurled the quickened breath
of churchyard grasses on the up and up

Saturday, 9 July 2016

FAQ: a dialogue for two combatants

Performed at the Progress Theatre Play Festival, Reading, and the Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham.

FAQ, a dialogue for two combatants.

A, motorist.  B, car-park attendant. 

A walks over to B.

A:  ‘Scuse me, is this a private car park?
B:  Does it look public?
A:  (gestures behind him at his car) Would it be all right to leave my car
B:  You here for the meeting?
A:  Is there a meeting?
B:  Can’t you read the signs?
A: When does it start?
B: So you are here for the meeting?
A: Could I just park here before it starts?
B: So you’re not here for the meeting?
A: Twenty minutes, half an hour, would that be ok?
B: What’s the purpose of your parking?
A: It is late-night shopping tonight, isn’t it?
B: So that’s your purpose?
A: So would twenty minutes be ok?
B: How about one of the designated car-parks?
A: This isn’t designated, then?
B: Did I say it wasn’t designated?
A: So it is designated?
B: And what did I say it was designated for?
A: (slight pause) For the meeting?
B: Can’t you read the signs?
A: So where are the designated car-parks, then?
B: Where were they last time?
A: Last time?
B: Where did you find them last time you went shopping?
A: But are they the same?
B: The same?
A: For late-night shopping?  Can you use the same ones you use for
B: Why wouldn’t you?
A: Mightn’t they be coned off?
B: Why would they be coned off for late-night shopping?
A: Special regulations?
B: And who goes round keeping folk from parking in car-parks?
A stares momentarily at B.
A: Look, would fifteen minutes here be ok?
B: Can’t you find one of the designated car-parks?
A: Are they near this one?
B: Can’t you read a map?
A: Do you have one?
B: Do I look like I have one?
A: Where’s the nearest one?
B: Map?
A: Car-park?
B: Do you know Bullivant Street?
A: Is that off Spring Lane?
B: Where on earth is Spring Lane?
A: Between the precinct and the old church, isn’t it?
B: Which precinct do you mean?
A: I’d only be ten minutes, ok?
B: Nippy shopper, are we?
A: Aren’t you, when you know what you want?
B: Does that make any difference?
A: To what?
B: Can you do it in ten minutes?
A: Why wouldn’t I?
B: What about dawdling?  Using your mobile?  Bumping into a friend?
A: Do I look like I’d dawdle?
B: Do I look like I’d know if you would?
A: Barely ten minutes, is that ok?
B: So you think you can make it?
A: Do I look like I couldn’t?
B: (holds hands up) Have I demanded to give you a health check?
A: Can’t you trust me?
B: Feel your pulse?
A: Can’t you have faith?
B: Hear your heartbeat?
A: Can’t you give me a chance?
B: Tap your knees?
A: Can’t you let me try?
B: So you know which shop?
A: Why would I say ten minutes--?
B: Barely ten minutes, wasn’t it--?
A: --if I didn’t know?
B: And one of the other car-parks?  It wouldn’t be nearer?
A: Would you say it’d be nearer?
B: Which shop is it?
A: Does that matter to you?
B: Mightn’t another car-park be better?
A: So where’s the nearest to here?
B: Do you know Bullivant Street?
A: Will you let me go?!? 
B: Seven minutes?
A: There and back?
B: Shall I time you?
A: Do you think you’ll need to?
B:  (produces watch)  Are you ready?
A: What does it look like?
B: Are you steady?
A: You think I’ll need as much as seven minutes?
B: Will you go like the clappers?
A: Has any other car arrived since we’ve been talking?
B: Fly like the wind?
A: Is there really a meeting?
B:  (holds watch ready)  Like a bird in the sky?
A: Are those notices your way of coning this car-park off?
B: Shall I press the button . . . ?
A: (turning, running)  Shall I show you a clean pair of heels?
A exits.  B looks after him.  Smiles.  Walks over to where A indicated his car was.  Takes out book, starts to write ticket.
B: Do you think I’m a fool?
Tears ticket off.  Freeze.


Friday, 1 July 2016


'Does this mean we can actually have a private conversation without all and Sunday reading it?'
'Sadly not. He's been sorted out, apparently.'
'So what exactly happened?'
'He was hacked.'
'Goodness. Badly?'
'Tigger says so. And he knows who did it.'
'Who's that, then?'
'Some bruiser called Mal Ware. Keeps a lock-up on the outskirts of Profile Pending.'
'I've no idea what a lock-up is.'
'Nor me. Just sounds dead human to lob it in.'
'Ah, yes, like "if you look at the stats"--'
'Which is just a mispronunciation of "if you look at the spats", which chaps used to say in the 1920s when they were trying to gain admission to "Ducky Footwear" evenings in Knightsbridge.'
'So, well…he was hacked, eh?'
'Well and truly.'
'How much of him fell off?'
'Tigger says it's better to ask how much of him was left.'
'How much of him was left?'
'As much as didn't fall off.'
'Of course. So what did however much of him that didn't fall off do about it?'
'He had to Report A Problem.'
'I've always liked the way you say capital letters.'
'Thank you, Pooh. Yes, always a good opportunity to go a bit Nordic.'
'What did he have to…mind if I try…?'
'Please do.'
'What Did He Have To Report?'
'Hmm, touch of the Catalan in the H's, Pooh, but that's nice…mellifluous.'
'Gosh. Thank you. So what did he--?'
'Oh, now, he had to tick a box saying Someone Is Trying To Be Me As I Was Before I Was Hacked.'
'That all?'
'No, Tigger says. Then he had to choose from a list of fall-y-off-bits.'
'Ah, right. Like arms, one / two, fingers and thumbs, one…'
'That's it, Pooh.'
'Pooh, do you want to hear a bit more Nordic?'
'För all del.'
'What's that?'
'Swedish. Owl got it from an old phrase book for travellers.'
'I'm guessing that he got a talon under the front cover, lifted it up right to left--'
'The phrase, Pooh. What does it mean?'
'What everything always means in travellers' phrase-books.'
'Ah, yes…the behaviour of your concierge has been less than seemly…'
'...given this load of combustible postillions.'