Monday, June 21, 2010

Mysterious Place

It was intended to be a holiday home. Yet, as the years went by, it became, by default, my main abode, while my flat in the city grew its own ghosts without me.

It seems laughable now, but, when I bought ‘Mysterious Place’ from a distant Aunt who was emigrating further away in the world that I could imagine any place being from England, I did not question that name she had given the house. Mysterious Place, in hindsight, probably seemed appropriate, situated as it was in the corner of some common ground, ground in itself quite a few miles from the nearest village, with woodland and hedges between it and the shops. Having said that, there was another house situated within that common ground, on the other side of it, in fact, next to the access gate and just perceptible from my window. Common ground may be a misnomer – I call it common ground because there were disputes regarding ownership of it outside of the land occupied by the two houses themselves, or so I heard.

Whether such an interface of disputed freeholds could subsist legally, I was determined one day to ask my solicitor friend when I saw him next. But when I did see him, the whole matter had gone out of my mind, because life is often like that, especially when in your sixties as I am.

There was a single woman living in the house opposite, I soon gathered, when taking my first holiday break under the roof of Mysterious Place. We waved to each other but it did not seem right not to have a few words face to face. She was quite attractive, dressed to kill, in fact, and she advised me about various delivery and shopping logistics for our two houses. I offered her help when I was staying in my house as any man would.

Looking back on it, she must have been off duty on that first occasion because, next time I occupied ‘Mysterious Place’, I saw her in a police uniform, being collected by a colleague in a police car. Over the next few years, I saw her both in her off-duty ‘dressed to kill’ mode and in her day-job mode as a very smart policewoman, with all the paraphernalia that police personnel seem to carry with them these days. I was indeed astonished by the contrast between the two modes. As a policewoman, official walky-talky phone jabbering in her ear, truncheon in its neat belt-pack. And as a woman-about-town with a posh handbag and high-heeled shoes. In the latter mode, she was often collected, by someone I guessed to be her boy friend in a small white van, but in this day and age one wonders about the true relationship and why they didn’t live together ... or whatever.

I did not pry ... except recently when, after a long period of staying in ‘Mysterious Place’, during which time I had even forgotten that I should be returning to my city flat to cope with my normal life, we had a rare conversation. She was picking some sort of wayside fruit from the bushes near my house as I happened to be inspecting a fence after the previous night’s storm.

She seemed neither the woman picked up in the boy friend’s van or the police constable collected by the smarter official vehicle with the blue light on top. She now looked more matronly, with an apron and hair untidily loose. More kindly, in fact. With a wicker basket instead of her posh handbag. Maybe there had been more years than I realised since I first saw her. And we all change gradually.

“Not at work?” I asked.

“No, it’s a long story – but I’ve left the police force.”

“Oh dear... Or should I be congratulating you?” I laughed nervously.

She spoke about a situation which I couldn’t really follow. Something about losing her handbag – or about losing something she had lost from her handbag - and then, strangely enough, something she had somehow lost in her handbag – I’m still not sure which of these or if any of these.

“Well, it’ll be good to have a break from work. Have you any plans?”

She nodded – presumably acknowledging the first part of what I had said but ignoring the question.

She delved, plucking, into a deeper part of the hedgerow.

Had I told you that the common ground between our two houses was mainly grass? It was the sort of scrubby grass that never seemed to need mowing. I often wondered if it was done when I was back in the city at my flat.

Had I told you, too, that I fancied the young lady? Not so young now, though. But it seemed off-putting, knowing about her being a policewoman. I’m sure you will know what I mean by that. Also knowing about the man in the van. I had never asked her about him. Until now...

“Has your friend been able to help?” I asked towards the back of the woman as she leaned into the hedge.

It was then I saw she was swishing a police truncheon at the undergrowth, beating a path further into it. She must have had it in her basket.

She called back to me without turning: “I’m looking for what I lost.”

“Can I help?” I asked. “What is it exactly?”

I admired her round fulsome behind, with the tied bow of the apron strings tagging down cutely in a countrywoman or housewife sort of fashion.

But then that caused me to recall the type of handbag she used when in her glamorous evening wear. In fact, over the years, she had used several different handbags, all in high top fashion. Like many women, she seemed to collect them and often replaced them before they were worn out.

Manufactured with different materials, some animal and some synthetic, bearing delicate chains and baubles of stylish quality on the outside, often jingling as I heard her walk from her house towards the white van when it came to collect her.

As she eventually became immersed in the hedge to the very point of vanishment, I saw at the corner of my eye the pulsing blue light so common in our English cities. And heard the siren.

Unaccountably, I shed a tear. A Mysterious Place indeed – a woman’s handbag.

written today and first published above

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where The Heart Is

Review of WHERE THE HEART IS (Gray Friar Press) continued from here:


The City in the Rain by Mark West
"...he felt as though he was being plugged into a being that was greater than he could ever be..."
I don't think I've read any fiction by Mark West before and, judging by this story, I most certainly should have done! Without putting too fine a point on it, it is in many ways the perfect horror story. It has the horror feel, its tropes, a sense of pulp and popularity, yet with an underlying sophistication and poignancy that bowled me over, a completeness, a satisfying whole, and a language perfectly pitched for what it is. Quite confident in trying to be what it is, without frills. And hauntingly believable with Leicester's 'sagging' and crucifying brick buildings, the urban underclass, the alleys and the implications for the protagonist's wife's death in the past from cancer...
It also fits well into this book so far ... echoing the form of resurrection in 'A Killing in the Market'. In fact these two stories work in synergy.
There is a sense of gratuitous despair and a nihilist brick in the wall that I have been building towards a gestalt.
I see that an 'earlier version' of this story was published in 2003. I hope this does not prevent it winning awards in 2010, as it should, for being a great horror story. (16 June 10 - another 2 hours later)

Last Summer by Stephen Bacon
"Bricks bounce off the side."
This is an effective evocation of the Miner's Strike in Sheffield in the mid-Eighties (the bitterness and personal wars between strikers and scabs and their families) in parallel with the present day protagonist's return to his childhood at that time and in that place, and an unforeseen redemption now seen-to-be-done by exposing its gory results in this story-as-memorial.
Meanwhile, I, as reader of it, can imagine the mine structures - resonating, at least for me, with the structure in 'Easter' above. That seems a right comparison to make, bearing in mind the passions and emotions of that time, of that place, with which I, as someone who only watched all this on the news at the time, can now more fully empathise .... paradoxically via the truth and immediacy of fiction when compared to the disputatious facts of history.
"...we are standing on the grassy incline of the pit tip, looking down into the colliery." (16 June 10 - another 2 hours later).

Also please compare the return into the past of 'Summerhouse' with that of 'Last Summer' - amazing I missed till now that glaring connection synergising both stories. (16 June 10 - another hour later)

Winter's End by Simon Bestwick
" 'So?' he asked."
Paul links up with singer Helen after first meeting her at a Manchester gig where she's performing with some 'sullen moshers'. One believes in both members of this couple, and gradually we realise she has a past that pervades her present - eventually in a truly monstrous form. There is an alchemy here (similar to that mentioned before in this review) between forces of amorphousness as well as particularity. Insidiousness breathes wetly in our ears and reminds us, as it were, that there may be no escape clause from a retrocausal future that feeds on the past. Be very very worried that any distillation of the flesh does not prevent it being smeared all over our living-room as a spoiler. Rest assured, that tells you nothing about this story, this more disturbing story by subtle implication (as well as gross-out) even than itself. (17 June 10)

The Daftie by Paul Finch
An obstacle course across the Wigan Wastelands - a well-written, location-rich, vividly felt story that seems to be an 'adventure playground' within many of the book's previous stories (without being glib) - e.g. a colliery with a "ghostly totem of the declining wealth" - an effigy of a man literally crucified in a pit cottage garden (!) (cf 'Easter' etc) - "you can't bury stuff forever, can you?" (cf the previous story) - a 'Summerhouse' type sketch (on a deflated football) ..... the obstacle course being the rite of passage of an unsporty narrator who takes a short-cut to avoid punishment for flunking a school cross-country race. He fears meeting the local 'daftie' who is said to stalk the area. The ending was a surprise that set me thinking...
Good literature is about narration: reliable, unreliable, collusive, uncollusive, a pecking-order from head-lease or freehold author to those creations to whom is handed the story's baton in a relay marathon of the soul... (17 June 10 - another two hours later)

A Victim of Natural Selection by John Travis
"Ahead was a solitary streetlight he couldn't remember seeing before at the foot of those great steps, illuminating ash-grey soil piled up on either side of the old structure."
A striking nightmare vision of urban desolation as Crocus (with meaningful name) is presented with some hope. But sometimes Hope is the greatest Horror of all, when even memories and people we once knew conspire to corrupt even the ground beneath our feet. Breaking glass, a telegraph pole like a totem, black alleys ... this is a brilliant mood piece that fits this book hand in riven glove. [I don't normally draw attention to typos but there was one here that particularly irritated this reader: 'alluding' when it should have been 'eluding'.]
(18 June 10)

This real-time review is now continued here:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big Brother 11 (2010)

Continued from previous Big Brother here:


Below are my on-going comments from the interactive forum here:

I like the circus theme - and the 14 housemates are quite interesting - including Laughing Friar Tuck - and Shabby who risked concussion upon her entry and 13 weeks in hospital...
I'll mention Caiomhe - just to prove I can spell her name.
Ben. the writer and broadcaster, seems one to watch...

Mario the Mole - not sure how he can hide being a mole, when dressed as a mole...?

! see the winners out of this lot are going to compete at the end with best housemates from the past... Hmmmm
exuding languor...
in 'a lady likes milk tray' way...

Brilliant report, Marion.

I wonder how people can miss BB. Although your reports stand on their own, as Gilead appreciates, there is an added dimension to them if you've actually watched BB.

Still, I don't think we are going to change people's ways on the last programme. So much trivial and important has flowed under the bridge already since 2004 when these TTA reports started. Too late now to share the artistic, mundane, philosophical, human, show business kaleidoscope that has been BB. It has influenced many of the fiction books I'm now getting published.

I agree that the latest BB seems to promise even more!

The mole-hole scenario is well thought out and, so far, they seemed to have hit the random target with Mario as its central figure. David was a good target's target to choose for the beach-ball.

The intro speech by each HM was useful and enlightening. Today I shall deal with Shabby. She is BB10's Angel whose wings ripped off when rushing about somewhere. Keen to give forth of her Lesbian credentials, but really she is a comic book character in short trousers from the Beano who aspires to be a sad clown one day in this circus scenario. Her part is already being written; she is busy inwardly learning the lines to fit the milieu of people she finds herself in. The rushing about was merely a misbegotten attempt to become the Pete-type (tourettes) winner she orginally intended to be. A role she is already revising. A role with empathy, as she showed she was worried about David not reading the beach ball.

One day we all have to read our beach ball.
Intriguing that the only one who stayed on the ground was someone calling herself Sunshine!

She is an intense lady in her red outfit and Olive Oyl face -

Those weren't snores so much from Steve as bloated pig-snorts - creating a suspenseful situation in waking up someone just as the Mole carries out his task at 4 am (birds just starting to twitter and tweet). What a waste of good food at a time of Recession, I say!
I espy three potential couples: Ben and the Gay Mole, Govan and Josie, John James and Blowjob Rachael.

What was all that about the vegetables spelling out 'twist' at the end?

I think I'm losing my grip.
An interesting exercise in bluff, double-bluff and minus-bluff, the impossible task of mario the mole that was a foregone conclusion of possibility by retrocausality - and its one retro-casualty: Dr. 'cry-baby' Sunshine (and possibly Shabby for talking about nominations).

Josie reminds me of Doris Day.

Nathan - the Oasis reject! lol

John James - in his hood, something from a 'Lord of the Rings' crap-film.

Govan - Smeagol / Gollum disguised as a hobbit, or vice versa?

And what a waste of food - again!

in the war, I was taught to stew dead scraps.
As with previous BBs at this early stage in proceedings, I'm now beginning to live in the faces; these are people who I happen to think about (for good or ill) and who have entered my life in a very strange way, with their baffles and fables, veils and piques, two-way filters of truth and fiction. The thing about truth is that it is monumental, untouchable, but humans can't approach it without being blinded by differing elements of fiction, some fiction voluntary and conniving, other fiction involuntary and sometimes to be pitied. Marion's report above is a wonderful word-picture to net the core of things happening, whether truth or fiction or both. Whatever the case, it is the 'truth' of what she sees. I see it too. I see it with her, among the personality crags and faces wherein we shall live for the next 12 weeks. taking them for granted by paradoxically not taking them for granted (or vice versa), i.e. by peeking at their ... well, yes, their veils and piques, vales and peaks.

I'd add a note about Corin's nifty neck-dance last night. An involuntary glitch of 'character' or a conniving show for the cameras?
I agree with you, Marion, about Govan. He's a new Horror character (a subtle wheedler) that needs immortalising in a fiction book, for those who have so far escaped his insidious influence. I am nothing if not altruistic. Is his surname Shipyard, by the way?

Shabby Sunshine and 'Monk' David up for eviction, but I hear a rumour that they are to have a comepetition and the one who wins escapes eviction and can choose someone else to go up for eviction!

I like 'Doris Day' Josie so far the most.

Govan's mantra of "you don't know my motives, you only know what I say my motives are" (or words to that effect) ... does he really mean that? Despite his complete dislikeability, that sort of sums up BB for me.
BTW, Corin is an interesting case study in 'business as usual' - a loving companion for Shabby, if it's not too late. A squeaky Jordan - with no plaster for blind spots.

Nathan, someone else under the radar. If he is a reject from Oasis I suspect he'd write foul graffiti on their Wonderwall, given the chance. Another 'business as usual' character.
An interesting discussion between Shabby and Ben - which goes right to the heart of Big Brother. For example, was she hamming up her anger at being told she hammed things up? Probably.

Caoimhe still continues to skim along under my radar. With Ife, I've even forgotten I have a radar at all!

Dave's starring role tonight on two counts was all rather silly. Why do they mess around with long-tested rules - there is something unsatisfactory about Rachael facing the public vote when she wasn't nominated.

And Govan is in Dry Dock for a while longer....
BTW, Sunshine appeared low-key in her reaction to nomination, Marion, but we are not shown everything. Another fact to factor in when only watching the summary programmes, as I do.

And did my eyes deceive me - Josie an impulsively infantile suck-a-thumb?
Yes, I began to like Corin yesterday.

And Ben, Mario and Dave snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug represented a strange new version of morecambe and wise or laurel & hardy in their double bed scenes that we always took for granted as innocent - as we should.

And Ben keeps putting his foot in his mouth. And is he leading Mario on, I ask, by enticing touchy-feely contact between them? Or is he leading his own latent side of himself on?

JJ and Govan each separately have long-practised methods of argument (used in real life beforehand) and articulate them as if there can be no logical comeback against their arguments. But that attitude is silly because every argument has its flaws, however carefully mustered. Human nature's frailty entails believing ourselves 100% right about anything - which essentially means we are surely not.
Hey, did you see that? Just this minute Corin gave an exact imitation of Marion's twirling Avatar. It was breath-takingly similar.
Yes, I was glad Rachael went for all the reasons Marion gives. And I, too, didn't like her interview. She is actually quite thoughtful in her own way and probably quite a successful kid on the block - but she did not do herself justice during her time in the house. A bit like the England team. Good when playing for her club.

Corin's 'mission' lying was done all very chirpily. As I said before this lady is 'business as usual', in quite a positive way. However, although Nathan, Caiomhe and Ife are similar, my radar is now only picking them up as ricochets off tiny homunculi in the corners of the screen.
Thanks, Gary. I hadn't realised the identity of Shabby as a previous film actress.

She is certainly very well spoken - and I think I like her.

I am kicking myself (of all people) not to recognise that the name of Bob Righter (the clown with flashing eyes in the cabinet) is an anagram!

Ben is both a prig and that other similar word he used when speculating about what the audience thought of him!
Still, I like him better than JJ and Govan.

Sunshine became a cloudy day when she heard the crowd chanting her name negatively. Everyone was lying, I'm sure, when they told her that they didn't hear her name!
I think they're Vuvuzuelas - and they grow in Caracas. Not to be confused with certain secret areas of the Pampas.
That's who I've been trying to think of that Corin resembles. She's the new Bet Lynch (Bet Gilroy)...!

The Shabby - Caoimhe 'thing' is developing. Not sure where it's going, but it at least got Ife into prominence for the first time.

Govan doesn't look happy.

I think the person I like the least in the House is Dave. There's someting very dissembling about him ... indeed self-dissembling, too.

Nathan is probably the most 'natural' i.e. as he is in the outside world. Not my sort, really, though.
I, too, was shell-shocked by the latest BB. It was like the nightmare after the circus, where they had once all put on happy faces. Josie had now smeared her make-up over her lips and nigh bared her chest in whorish mien. And Shabby had taken over (from Josie) the role of Doris Day in a grotesque version worthy of this nightmare, with braces and Calamity Jane swagger.

Ben was the dreamer dreaming the nightmare, visions swarming around him, some pawing his body, others tugging at his mind.

I thought the Tree task for Shabby was a brilliant idea and adroitly conducted by Shabby - and, funnily, I didn't have the same feelings towards Ben's predicament as Marion did. Perhaps I should have done.

Anyway, it sort of backfired making BB seem like a cruel agent provocateur in people's emotions, even though it was Shabby who chose Caoimhe as a dinner date.

However, one wonders how much Shabby (an actress by profession) is acting out these emotions or really feeling them - or both!!!

If she is really feeling those emotions, she did exactly right to tell Caoimhe about the task - whatever the consequences with BB's Tree of temptation. BB will be seen to be even more cruel if they now deal cruelly with Shabby.
Caoimhe was very clever acting upset when bombarded with a Beckettian tape-loop of Ben's voice 'huis clos' with pictures of him around her. She knew that BB could not afford to be seen to be creating mental distress in a HM for too long.

Did Shabby choose Mario for the eviction vote because she thought him the least likely to be voted out? I didn't really understand that bit.

And - what a hoot! - David is still drunk with the Holy spirit. In fact his Lord's coming out of his stomach! (Wasn't there a HM in a previous BB who had things coming out of her belly or chakras?)

Nathan is a real rough diamond, with the emphasis on rough!

And, nice to see Ife prominent again.
Through the course of BB we shall see the spiritual journey from Ife to Life itself. This will be the natural culmination of our own spiritual journey with BB ab initio.
So ... Ben is an 'overwrought' 'paternalistic feudalist'

So ... Ife is is a philosopher of life : "We are all people, and we all live and learn"

So ... Dave's belly is bubbling with rivers of joy.

So ... the inevitable tying themselves up into knots regarding the talking-about-nominations rules has now set in with a vengeance

An animal farm ... or circus ... or zoo
Beniel in the Ben's Den - Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

I forgot it was backward day! Me! Who has been obsessed with retrocausality for the last year!

And yes JJ did stamp on Sunshine's ankle.
JJ and Sunshine seem to be getting closer and Ife larger than life. She is a slow burner. Her imitation of Ben after the huge black sticky squashed spider suffocating him was priceless.

Nathan now seems the HM who is so himself that one wonders if he's just popped into the house on the way to a gig.

I hope Dave goes tonight. Him and his drunken Lord.
[And why was Ben wearing a shirt with an outsize collar?]

He thinks he's Harry "Brideshead" Hill.

Govan going is OK by me. Dave to go next. Him and his bubbling belly.
Ah, Gary, I remember Mikey. I often am amazed at how blind people possess an ability towards a normality of life. There was an amazing blind lady recently on 'Deal or No Deal'.

As to last night in the BB house, it is funny how over the years minor food substances have caused major World Wars in such a close community. Crisps, this time. But isn't there an advert on at the moment about giant crisps attacking the world? Or did I dream it?

I've gone off Josie. She seems very conniving and exhibitionist. Well, they all are, but some hide it better than others!

But my least favourite housemate is Dave. Evandemongelical and Episscopalian.
Well, I think the winners of the penalty shoot-out are going to be sorely disappointed when they see the England - Germany match. They should have had Ife playing rather than Rooney!

Shabby is becoming quite an articulate philosopher of life. I am beginning to like her.

I was a bit disappointed in Ife in her bahaviour towards Sunshine regarding the Cosmic Crisps

Nathan's coming out of his shell and the more he does that the less likely I am to like him more!

JJ and Josie - I imagine the Move Over Darling song in the background as they spoon.
I think Nathan was the star last night. The use of his muppet in the Diary Room - and then later when he tried to exchange half a cake for cigs and beer. "No snoggie-woggie without boozie-woozie'.

I think they tailed off in their muppet surrogacy towards the end of their task and didn't deserve to win it. But they couldn't not have Steve's party.

A karaoke party (cf the muppet surrogacy) that I am glad I didn't have to attend!

PS: I wonder if they could have talked about nominations with their muppets and got away with it? A very interesting (and amusing, as Marion says) experiment in puppetry-by-puppetry, i.e. in the context of all the other interesting human and philosophical phenomenology thrown up by BB.
I haven't been able to write here till now about last night's programme but most of it has now gone out of my head. Thanks, to Marion above, I have been able to re-live it.

I go along with her usual perspicacious observations.

I am beginning to like Sunshine. She seems to have her head screwed on without it being screwed on too tight.

I really have antipathy towards Dave and was cheering JJ on - as long as it was done tongue in cheek. Towards the end I thought JJ crossed the line into disrespect. I certainly hope Dave doesn't escape the vote this week. Him and all his bubbling belly-joy in the Lord. I even prefer Stephen Baldwin to Dave!

Ife is turning into the office whinger. I've known many like that in my professional days.
Well, much auditioning tonight by Shabby for a part in a theatrical play where she can let rip in Pinteresque rages.
The most interesting thing however is that she *thinks* she is not acting.
Also, interesting to note she is quite good at it. I want to see her in 'The Birthday Party'.

Enjoyed Josie's mimicking of JJ. A bit like she had JJ's muppet to use.

JJ is quite a queer cove. I can hear his voice now irritatingly present even though the room is in silence.

Damn! Dave got off again. But pleased he chose Caiomhe to replace him. She is a cold chill down the spine.

Ife is strutting around busy with mundane thoughts of smoking...
Yes, as I implied in my piece before, CAOIMHE out! with your cold-chill spine and arbitrary letters in your name that apparently say KEEVER. She were ever iffy.

Thanks once again, M, for your pungent and incisive BB commentary. I hope these wonderful essays are not written just for my, Gary's and Gilead's benefit on this single thread.
Wow! Marion. We loll across your sparkling reportage like Disgay Dave over Ben? ... no, like odalisques upon your bed of fine words.

Caiomhe stepped up the raunchy stakes with Shabby quite cynically - for votes tonight and the eviction of Sunshine. I certainly hope her ploy doesn't work.

Corin is trying to do a Nikki in the Diary Room - with her own repeated catchphrase: "How embarrassing is that?" - in her squawky voice: a cross between Bet Lynch and a mandrake root. Corin has a formula for winning and I am only beginning to notice.
I've got it! Corin - Hylda Baker with a soupçon of Hilda Ogden!
Marion, I am devastated that Sunshine has gone full stop. Also devastated by the Shabby - Caoimhe conniving that caused her going.

I do however have a sneaking regard for Shabby and her Beckettian Pinterisms.

Ben did well. I shall always remember his piece on 'mobile homes'.

Davina is right : Steve is a nice bloke but he does nothing. Or do we expect Housemates always to do something? Why should they?

And Nathan, too. He has his moments in the radar, but basically Nathan is Nothing. A rough nemonyte.

And Girl Iffy. She is living embodiment of her own dodgy existential place in the conjunctions of grammar.
Not much happened tonight. Only an internal view of happenings last night.
I fear this may be the case here on in.
Well, Marion, it only goes to show. Your discoveries of perception found much where I found none last night.

Or maybe it was just the mood I was in.

Let's hope tonight's edition will re-ignite my tutelary angel or daemon muse.
...and, indeed, tonight inspired me. Especially the moral considerations arising from Ben's punishment under the aegis of an excellent American corporal (whether an actor or real, this man was brilliant) - and Ben's flunking his punishment with someone else being punished instead.

Ben's carefully wrought yet patronising rationale of his behaviour towards Mario - was another BB gem. Mario seeking privacy for this conversation takes on a new light when we think of the millions watching!

The political discussion with Nathan, too.
It's a shame Shabby is about to leave, The whole situation of the Iffy Girl's fabricated anger and the reaction of the 'Mean Girls' reminds me of behaviour on the internet and, even, sadly, of my own behaviour sometimes thereon.

Has anyone noticed that Nathan and Ben (other than the hair and the voices) are identical twins?

The beds fiasco was very school dormitory immature. But who can talk?
I am sad about Shabby.

I said earlier that Nathan is Nothing.

Indeed, for me, he is a black hole in reverse.

I am finding the whole programme depressing at the moment.

But your report of it, Marion, brightened me up.
Thanks for the alert, Marion. A more positive evening, indeed. Nathan comes out of his shell (he almost strung some sensible words together) - only to be put up for eviction by eviction-busting-game-winner Caiomhe. But I'm in two minds - because I want her to go, too!

Ife was brave (foolhardy?) in actually admitting to Caoimhe what she said about her in the diary room about 'leading on' Shabby. Bravo, Ife! Probably a unique event in BB history - someone so dangerously 'up front' about divulging such a sensitive DR entry.

The shoes task with Sophie was a real hoot! She is a game girl, and Doris Day would be proud of her. The on-the-spur excuse about visiting the loo was priceless.

Cheered me up.
Wow! Really good robot with impressive movements, huge size and fright- as well as humour-value. It doesn't look as if it's anyone dressed up but a genuine robot. A scenario that fits with (otherwise boring) tattoo-tapestried cyborg-Steve in a Mad Max film!

Caiomhe has been faith-baiting Dave - I think I'd be doing the same but in a much more subtle fashion, I hope. An interesting interaction. Neither came off well.

Rosebud plump-lipped Ben is bit fey and effete - and the others are noticing.

Corin remains the formulaic soap star in the Diary Room - and she has no engagement with people other than via the variety-show-of-self she puts on.

Nathan is beginning to learn to articulate like a growing child. He is slowly emerging from his own collider-hole.
The clashing of cultures - in politics & religion.

Ben and Steve. (Is Ben right that Steve has never read a book?)
Caoimhe and Dave. (Who has the Devil in them?)

Then the clashing of evil wheelies with hooks.

Now Nathan must sling his hook!


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Rock Choir

They sat in a circle within the old hall that had seen many of the small town’s dance weekends. This afternoon there was a quiet that served as a blank space of memory, where the participants in the circle inwardly recalled various life changes that had centred upon this very hall. Someone suggested that the traffic had stopped outside just to allow them a precious silence. Another mentioned a possible roadblock due to some incident in the town. There was, however, no question of anyone outside the hall being aware of precious silence. Business prevailed, errands that each human being considered more paramount than they actually were. Only relative to each other. Many of the interconnections unnoticed or being chance ones.

By their nature, interconnections between townsfolk could bring importance as well as triviality. For example, Sadie’s expeditionary dash to the corner shop for a newspaper was unremarkable. Yet, Brian’s search for love on lacklustre streets was more significant when he later accidentally tripped Sadie by means of his careless attention to shop doors and other people’s paths of purpose. Equally, Charlotte’s mission was to save someone from despair and possible suicide, but when she arrived at Lionel’s house she found him away on holiday with a woman he had met in the pub the night before. She later went to the same pub by chance. In contrast, Charles’ regular constitutional along the sea front brought him, as ever, to an unexpected and unseen crossroads, one route to nowhere, another towards a dreadful fate, another to a wonderful fate, the last one back the way he had come.

Those in the hall were oblivious to these other comings and goings of the town as they sat in un-self-conscious circular communion – squatting upon the chair-less floor. In many ways, each was a chance encounter, arrived here at roughly the same time, surprised that the others had also arrived, all participants in a rock choir that had once appeared in the hall in a greater hey-day than it possessed today.

Wendy had always (‘always’ being a word she often used) seen her original joining of the rock choir not so much as a sharing of the rock song but more as an expression of the gospel in her soul, especially when the choir, if seldom, rehearsed and then performed hymns and new-born happy clappiness. Today, she had recently retired from her workaday life and had wanted to see the hall again, in the hope that she may now have more time to resume group singing. Visiting the hall (now many miles from her current home) was an instinctive unplanned ingredient in that process.

Cheryl – who had overlapped in the rock choir with Wendy for a few months in the old days – had returned to the town because she happened to be visiting an old friend nearby and, being early, decided to stop off in the shopping centre where the hall was situated. Both women recognised each other but – in tune with some unspoken agreement – had not talked to each other, but only with those whose names they had forgotten. In fact, one of the others was Sadie who had been in a neighbouring street and was now nursing her sprained ankle as she sat on the floor. She, too, completed the circle. She was probably only one of the very few ex-rock choir members who still lived in the town and had grown accustomed to the dereliction of the hall, in contrast to the others present who had found its appearance today quite shocking.

One ex-member was indeed perturbed as he rounded the corner from the train station – and saw the exterior of the hall: quite different from how he remembered it. Disregarding the evident need of renovation, he was struck by what once must have been an impressive colonnaded entrance and double doors. All he remembered, he thought, was a single undistinguished door. For one moment, he wondered if he had found the wrong hall. But, no, this was definitely it. Strange how intervening dreams must have altered its very nature. He shrugged to himself, still wearing the pony-tail , but now decidedly greyer. His walk was decidedly more laboured, too, Sadie thought, as she glimpsed him arriving to make up his share of the circle inside.

But then a stranger came. One whom each failed to recognise. ‘Charles’ he told them. He looked quite calm. He then looked almost not there at all.

Eventually, the group of people stirred from what most of them deemed to be sad contemplations. Completely unpremeditated, in unison, they began singing the old choir’s most successfully performed rock anthem ... as if Queen's words meant more now.

written today and first published above