One Way Traffic

I’m honoured to have this story in Verbal #8

Joey Quinn knew he’d never fit in. Not from round these parts. Dropped his aitches. Talked through his nose. Estate English: the generic underclass lingua franca used by all the start-overs from Kings Lynn to Poole and Swindon to Folkestone he’d come across in this place. Millport House. Former council OAP home. Bought by a housing charity for a nominal fee. Modest refurb. Hospital stink corridors. Harsh strip lights. Institutional spec flats. Scotchguard carpets. Functional white goods. Communal laundry and bin room.  Single occupancy units providing supervised, independent accommodation for those displaced by forced or emergency housing resettlement orders. Bed sits with sophisticated CCTV, monitored access, a couple of Security Guards, mute and menacing, on the welcome desk 24/7 and the cops, social workers, community mental health team and probation service all on speed dial. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

Joey got the nod when a vacancy occurred. Young tea leaf from Dunstable on recall.  Caught taxing a litre of Smirnoff in ASDA. Cell door closes as another opened for Joey Boy. Travel warrant and a tenner spend in his back pocket. Bagged his stuff and headed for the midnight Megabus. Straight on the back seat of the 90% empty coach heading north. Never looked back. Best night sleep since he got out.

Joey had always loved his music. The records were all gone, but he still remembered the turntable and the speeds. 16. 33. 45. 78. Mid-teens he’d wonder how life would pan out. At 33 things had been alright, but the static and surface noise in his head got louder and he stuck in a locked groove, scratched to fuck and unplayable. No chance of making 78, like his old man’s solitary brittle, broken shellac disc. Nat “King” Cole singing Unforgettable.  Joey binned the fucker once his dad had gone. Binned everything. Needed to split.

Home sink estate given away to a “Property Action Group.” Financial inducements to ship out. Bespoke refits. Young professionals on peppercorn rents. Soft mortgages for first time buyers. Softer ones for buy to let speculators. Sitting tenants got fuck all, except rent rises higher than inflation. Joey’s old girl worried herself to death with the pressure and the old man followed her down cemetery road with a broken heart. 5 minutes from the station and only half an hour to Waterloo, this place was no country for old men. Joey began his own journey on the Hades Express with drink and pills. A dozen years, with half of it in a tunnel of hate before he reached the end of the line. Hit the buffers. Sat crying on the thin mattress atop a plywood frame in a soft jail where the doors locked on both sides, but they still knew where you were and what you were doing every minute of the fucking day.   

Joey lived in his head. Looked at the neighbours closely. The younger ones either 5 foot nothing and 7 stone wringing wet, head to toe in McKenzie snides or four eyed, human space hoppers pushing 300 pounds, in spray-on Jacamo bell tents, lisping and pouting: barrage balloon beasts. Older ones fucked by the drink. Skin and eyes shot to shit, with a constant fear of conversation. Malnourished smackheads. Morbidly obese mincers. Decayed pisscans. Dole scum who wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, never had, complaining about Asylum Seekers taking their jobs and houses back home. The cream of the Home Counties transplanted 300 miles in the hope of a new dawn that never broke, unlike Joey’s spirt, resolve, and heart.

Sunday night. Sawed his veins with an improvised chib; craft knife blade embedded in blu tac and gaffer tape. Blood burst. Fountained through his tears. Pooled on the mattress protector, soaked the wet bedding. Security guard dozing, smartphone in hand. Didn’t do the patrol. Monday morning reveille. Joey gone for good. Cries and screams. Investigation. Inquest. Cremation.

Fortnight later Cara Allington, crack dealer’s moll turned grass from Gillingham, climbs on board at Victoria and doesn’t look back.

Twenty 20

glove #8 is out very soon; here is a taster for it

I’d not thought about turning out for the Seconds in the Henderson Cup final. Firstly, it was held over from last season, so I’d forgotten about it. Secondly, it was scheduled for the Bank Holiday Monday. Thirdly, I saw myself as a First XI player these days. And finally, it was away to South Moor, meaning an undignified slog on a ploughed field against a load of hairy-arsed hillbillies. You know the cowboy bar in The Blues Brothers? Like that, but with more cricket involved.

Because I was spending Thursday at the nets and Saturday playing 110 overs among such exalted company, our lass organised regular family Sundays. With her spending at least half of each week away in London with work and me doing such long hours and irregular shifts, we insisted on keeping Sunday special. You lot call it the Sabbath I believe.

This weekend was a special one; with the bairns heading back after 6 months of intermittent home tuition, I’d taken the whole weekend as leave, while she’d knocked out a quality buffet and invited half the street to a socially distanced garden party. Obviously, no alcohol or loud music. Instead, all the mams worried about the school, and the blokes talked sport; I was in my element about cricket, on firm ground with football, but way out my depth when it came to golf and, worst of all, rugby.

Once the gathering petered out, I did the clearing up while the missus got the girls bathed and ready for bed. Got sat down in front of the box about half 8 and then checked my phone. More than a dozen WhatsApp messages of increasing desperation from Keith, the club chairman. Captain Nick had torn the gastrocnemius muscle in his calf turning for a tight second the day before which, on top of a pair of withdrawals for a golf and gargle beano, meant we were in danger of conceding. Keith was coming out of retirement to turn his arm over and bat eleven, while his lad Jamie was a decent call-up from the Juniors. We had ten. Keith begged me to come to the aid of the party, flattering me with sweet nothings like I can’t think of anyone else.

The fact me and the wife aren’t from here is a negative when it comes to sourcing babysitters, but a positive when it comes to Bank Holidays, as you don’t have to squander the day doing the rounds. Luckily, the lasses had a final DVD binge scheduled which I could miss, so we now had a full squad.

South Moor’s Hilda Park ground has an outfield like a rugby pitch, broken showers and changers with a mural of racist graffiti. Visits followed the same, depressing pattern; always Cup games, always in front of a front of a hostile, beery crowd, always with weak umpires and always against a team full of noisy, nasty bullies. Good job it was T20 and not 40 overs, as we’d get the fuck out of Dodgy City in three hours max.

We warmed up in malicious silence as the ground began to fill with tops-off, tattooed chunkies, bearing boxes of Stella and Carling, while their loud, fleshy women, wreathed in cigarette smoke, juggled picnics consisting entirely of Quavers and armfuls of fat children.

Keith lost the toss and they decided to bat; a decent outcome as we’d not be fielding when the crowd were eight pints in. Don’t get me wrong; South Moor have some decent players, but that doesn’t stop them from being bad bastards. Their opening bowler Bry Davis, a big, baldy, Brexit-loving boor, slung it down quick, which made him a danger on their track. The other right arm rapid, Inky, sprayed it both sides of the wicket and from toe crusher to head height, without a clue of what would happen next as he ran up. The worst was their keeper and captain, Gary Hedworth; a smug, ginger bullshitter who kept up an unending commentary of absolute crap. Because he never strayed from behind the stumps, he was oblivious to complaints about the spitting, threats and missiles from South Moor players and supporters to every team who beat them.

We made a solid start. The young lads bowling medium pace at the top of the innings restricted them to 46 for 4 from 12, when Keith decided me and him would bowl the innings through. The fact I was a left armer was exotic enough to confuse the hell out of the hick big hitters, while Keith’s Renaissance man googlies meant he was dropping the equivalent of golf balls on crazy paving. He took 3 in his second over, all bowled, then there was a pair of Keystone Kops run outs, including Fatty Hedworth marooned halfway down the track after he fell on his arse trying to get back, before I wrapped things up with the first ball of my third.

Baldy Bry, shiny skull wrapped in an EDL cap and not a cricket one, was 18 not out. His steroid and gym forearms flexed, allowing a perfect view of his Football Lads Alliance bulldog tattoo. He ground his teeth, muttering obscenities. He wanted to put me out the ground. Only one thing to do; I slowed it down and gave it some height, knowing he would give me the charge. Sure enough he was there far too early and spooned an edge high into the sky. It was an orange ball, and I saw it big as a pumpkin as it plopped gently into my cupped hands, allowing me time to sidestep Bry’s weak excuse for a shoulder charge, as he stumbled past and carried right on into the pavilion, spewing out oaths. 61 all out. The cup was ours to lose.

Covid regulations meant no tea; instead a quick piss, bottle of Lucozade Sport, on with pads and helmet, then out to bat with young Jamie. Kid looked apprehensive, so I decided to face. They surprised us and started with Inky, who tossed down a load of leg side filth; I clipped him for 3 boundaries, while he contributed the same number of wides and Fatso in the gloves saw two balls whistle past to the boundary for 8 byes; 23 from the first. Davis came on from the other end and Jamie looked scared. I understood why, but the Bulldog Brexiteer was showing his good side, bowling some of his tidiest; a whole over on the notional fourth stump. Jamie wasn’t quick enough to get near any of them, missing out on a free hit after Davis overstepped; another ball that eluded Hedworth. Inky served up another pile of dog dirt and we were 48 without loss from 3. The same score when Jamie’s ordeal was over; he finally snicked one to slip after Bry had tortured him with another unplayable one. His old man came out to replace him and took a leg bye; 49 for 1 from 3.2. Cheers Keith. Davis wouldn’t be bowling immaculate line and length to me.

The first one he aimed right at my toes, but I somehow got the bat down and dug it out. Hell of a Yorker. Next ball; bouncer. Hooked him over the rope; 55 for 1 from 3.4 He changed the field; pushed long on and long off back, so I guessed what was coming. Took a step down the pitch and lofted the slower one right over the sight screen; 61 for 1 from 3.5 with the scores level. Despite the two maximums, he’d been making me think, when I just expected him to try and hurt me. I gave him too much credit. Next ball was a deliberate beamer, heading right between my eyes. It’s arrival, Bry’s banshee howl of you Paki cunt, the umpire signalling no ball and my evasive swipe, sending the ball straight back down the pitch occurred simultaneously. Then there was the impact of ball on face, as the falling Davis took one for the team. Half a dozen teeth showered the pitch.

No time for celebration or shock, the Hippocratic Oath kicked in. His jaw had been shattered. It would need wiring up and reconstructive surgery. We didn’t bother with an ambulance. I took him straight to University Hospital, where my old mate Tariq in A&E sorted him out. It must have been after 7 when I got back to the car. Checking my phone, I saw a message from Keith, confirming he’d collected my stuff, including medal. He signed off; you certainly shut that bastard up.

I laughed and headed for home. Hopefully I’d see the bairns before they went to bed.

dalliance

I’m sorry; I can’t do this anymore.

You and me; we’re over. I’m tired of being made to feel inadequate; second best. It’s like being constantly cheated on, yet still knowing I’m damned eternally to play the role of the other woman. I’m bored of being discarded like a broken bagatelle, each weekend and on every significant social occasion; Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s.

Looking back, you let me know exactly where I stood right at the beginning when you told me the most important day we could ever spend together was my birthday; a date that remains utterly insignificant to her, so she wouldn’t suspect a thing and you’d play us both like the second violins we are to your virtuoso’s ego. I’m tired of the empty promises, the false hope of you telling me how much you love me and want to be with me when you’ve no intention of doing so. Empty words, like when you said you wanted to marry me and then dialled it down within the hour to vague talk of living together at some nebulous, undefined point in the distant future.

We both knew that it was me, not you, who wanted nothing more than for us to be together forever.  Even after you’d pushed me away with your unthinking selfishness, I wasn’t ready to let go of the broken shell of our love. I was so desperate to cling on to the unreality of an imagined present and future, trying to salvage something, but it’s done me more harm than good, knowing the idealised version of our love I carry in my heart is not reciprocated.

Oh yes, you can say all the right things and then make plausible excuses for your cunning inactivity, but we both know if you’d really, in all sincerity, wanted me you would’ve made it a reality. I know you’re not entirely evil, so the whole affair hasn’t been a sordid ego trip, where you felt the power of having a lover quarter of a century your junior, hanging on a string. I don’t even think it was a case of getting a kick out of having two women unknowingly simultaneously bidding for your attention. At some level, I know you love me, but there was never any sense of commitment on your part, other than remembering to uncork the rioja for our midweek trysts.  

All I’ve ever wanted is to be loved, and I naively believed you were the one who would provide me with the kind of affection and protection I have long craved. How I respected you. How I adored you. How you let me down. You see that old cliché is correct; actions do speak louder than words. I’ve grown weary of giving my heart, my soul and my love to you, while getting nothing tangible or sustainable in return. I was a fool, making you my priority and being content with the role of intriguing option in return. I was a mere plaything, someone with who to pass the time on cold winter nights during lockdown. Sent out of the room and told to stay quiet while you called her to dispense another dose of wasteful, weak, patronising words of supposed affection before lights out.  I was an obedient child; biting my lip to shut out the sounds of bitter hypocrisy and cant that you spread across the lives of two women who had the stupidity to fall for your charm and your lies. You bastard.

Every time I think of your weasel words, I choke on the bilious nonsense of your assertion you’d like us to go out in public, after lockdown, after the spring warms the earth. You pretended that you wouldn’t care if we were seen, hand in hand like a courting couple with life’s endless possibilities ahead of them. Making memories. Planning weddings and lives. Contrast this with the furtive actions of the coward who stealthily left my bed on a Friday morning, maintained radio silence for the whole of the day and night, then sent a cursory text from under the sheets in the bed you shared with her, more than 18 hours later. I deserved and deserve better than the farcical fiction of a ludicrous wish that we’d met first, because that would have made it all so simple and so right. Liar. You know fine well you’ll never leave her, despite pretending this year will be no different to last. And now, I don’t want you to. Because I don’t want you; I want more.  I refuse to feel this way for another 12 months, with the certainty that at the end of that period, you’d reject me again and again. I’m sorry; I can’t do this anymore.

The whole narrative you’ve constructed to describe your domestic arrangements makes me question what is reality and what is the version of it you see in your head. You claimed you didn’t love her and wanted to be with someone you respected. Your fanciful assertion that you merely get on with her, always have, but have never been attracted to her, has no truth to it. Let’s be clear about this; you don’t respect me. If you loved me you’d have left her for me or considered my feelings. The fact you haven’t does make a strange kind of sense when I consider the fact both of you hide so much from each other. She doesn’t want to worry you and you claim you remove confrontation by avoiding the issue when it comes to things that could upset her and force her into pushing you away.  If you were looking for a way out, as you insisted, surely you could have referenced incidents in your ordinary life to lay the groundwork for your departure? You could, of course, have mentioned me and the love I felt for you.

To be blunt, I will never begin to understand why you’re so desperate to stay together when neither of you provide what you both need emotionally and physically. The fact you are prepared to settle for mediocrity shows that surely I can’t mean as much as you said I do. I genuinely thought I was something of value for you; even at first when you claimed you were only together for companionship. You painted a picture of an expendable arrangement of mutual content in the months before we fell in love, repeatedly referencing how you would certainly leave her once you’d met the right person.  I genuinely thought you’d found that person in me, even when you told me there’d been 6 others with whom you’d strayed before we met, but clearly I was wrong. I still told myself we were different, after you explained the others were just dalliances, but clearly that’s all you and I were too. I guess that’s what hurts the most. So, I’ve decided it’s time I gained some self-respect, dignity and stopped wasting my love on something and someone I’ll never have. I’m worth more than this. Enjoy your life, but make no mistake,  I won’t be in it.

I’m sorry; I can’t do this anymore.

Normally

I’m honoured to have this piece in the excellent Razur Cuts IX:

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Good afternoon, guy!  My name is Mrs. Bob Wood from the United Kingdom. My wife is called Kazakhstan, & we live in the United Kingdom. My wife is a philanthropist, she encourages me to help poor people. I want you to know that I did not just wake up & decide to contact you.

Normally, it’s pretty monotonous nearby me, but shortly ago I did have the occasion to participate in an interesting multiracial bed game, where double intrusion was really like baby performance against to what these people did to my forms! All happened 2 days ago. I certainly never had so fantastic & such unique life experience. All my very own lovable hollows were petted & outstretched. I were extremely worn-out after that.  I realize that in fact, I definitely like night times & night exercises. Oh, those adult activities were undoubtedly spectacular! I’ve never felt so free & inspired, even made a private home video & a big amount of pix when I’m dressed just in very small bikini.   I really want 2 show you a few photos in my little clothing, & possibly even devoid of any Clothes & I do not know any reasons why a fine fellow must hide your big joystick from me.

My form is remarkable & eye-catching, I’ve an athletic slip-shape & great bum with tits. I definitely like it when my boobs are touched. I impatiently want u to pet my wet kitty, grab me on da desk. I expect you to take me in all positions, my precious, with no other responsibilities.  I wish to have these games regularly & for a very long time! I will caress u with my strong fists & will love you pretty smoothly during all night.

Try to reply to me immediately for more information. May God bless you & your family, I would love to talk to you on the phone, but the problem is that I do not know your language & cannot speak well due to pains. Please keep this information very secret, for security reason.

Looking forward to hearing from you urgently. Mail me!

Snowball

“glove” #7 is at the printers. it includes 23 outsider writers in our finest issue yet. it will be FREE, if you pay the postage via PayPal to iancusack@blueyonder.co.uk – here is a taster for it…

Festering bad blood of a peculiar vintage rose in the collective gorge, resulting in this massive pagger at Bernice O’Brien’s 40th birthday do, up Whiteleas Club the other Saturday. Wacky Jacky Snowball and his associate Mousehands from the Scotch Estate shoved mine hostess out the way to get at Jihadi Jeff, then sparked him out on the dance floor. Typical. Fucking Jarrow filth. Double teaming instead of a one-on-one. Knocked JJ halfway across the function room. Landed face first in the buffet. Pease pudding and coleslaw all over his dial and down the front of his shirt. Green lights and red rags for bullshitters time. Another cunt stotted a pool cue off Jimmy the Bonfire’s napper, not that it did him any damage of course. Fucking huge crowd watching. Lights came on. DJ cut the music. Street Fighting Man by The Stones. You couldn’t make it up. Appealing over the mic for calm. Altamont on Tyne.

Off camera Bernice got back in the game; grabbed a pint jug of cream intended for her birthday cake and doused Wacky Jacky with the lot, screaming she’d tell everyone why he’d got the nickname Snowball unless he fucked off. He did like. Pretty sharpish. Hungry fucker Mousehands still pocketed a plateful of cheese sandwiches on the way out.

Like all these things, the actual violence was over in 30 seconds flat. It was the analytical post-match shouting and bawling that lasted ages. Course nobody’d seen owt when the poliss came knocking a bit later, ready to take statements and that, but by that time, we were well away in a friendly fast black. Eating tarmac until we reached Simonside Switzerland in the shape of The Ship.

Sat up front, I was pondering how it is that you never get to know the real names of so many folk you grew up with; obviously Mousehands wasn’t called that on his Birth Certificate, but I’d always believed Wacky Jacky actually had Snowball as his surname. I never bothered sharing my thoughts as Jihadi Jeff spent the journey hockling claret into his hankie, with the Bonfire rubbing his sore lug the whole way, reiterating the fact experience had taught us we never went further than The Red Lion, unless we took a fully tooled-up squad out on manoeuvres. Every cunt knows the rules, party or no fucking party, he emphatically repeated, like a mentally ill pensioner, until long after I’d paid the cab and been stung for yet another fucking round.

Why is it birthday bashes, silver weddings, engagements and that sort of shite always take place of a Saturday? Probably because it’s easier for the lasses to knock the bait up when they’re not at graft while the blokes are out the way at football or in the bar for the afternoon. A safe feminized space for socialization. Opportunity to do some baking and that. Not that any of us had a chance to sample the taste of any homemade plate pie before the balloon went up. Despite the fact it had been all over Facebook,we’d only gone to the party because Jihadi told us to. Said he was still pals with his old squeeze Bernice; or Bucketfanny as most of us called her at school, not that he’d mentioned her in years.

On the way up, we had a right laugh. Me and Jimmy cracking up at how Bucketfanny was also known as the Simonside Skier, on account of her alleged ability to pull two lads off simultaneously round the back of The Ship in the bygone days of yore. Wonder if her grandbairns know of Nana’s teenage nickname? pondered the Bonfire. JJ was clearly up a height but pretending to ignore Jimmy. Eventually he bit. Spat out the fact she didn’t have any kids and that the wanking festivals never happened. Moody cunt.

We had a few late ones in The Ship to douse the Bonfire’s chagrin, but the meeting became inquorate when Jihadi, who’d spent the whole time on his fucking phone anyway, did his famed disappearing act not long after twelve. Skint, pissed or horny; he never specifies. Sordid fucking dwarf. Hence, I popped round Sunday dinner time to interrupt his traditional Sabbath ritual of scrolling through Tinder or Grindr or whatever and haul his arse out of bed.

As predicted, JJ was starring in another solo episode of his duvet decade box set when I let myself in. Flaked out on the settee in his keks, with a big bottle of pop by his side and his phone at hand, while the telly droned Sky Sports News to no-one. First time I’d been across the doors in six months and the old place looked like it had been carpet bombed by Changing Rooms. No longer would we refer to his gaffe as Disgracelands. Main difference from every other visit since he’d bought the place was the absence of a low hanging cloud of kebab farts, stale peeve and skunk that was his signature scent. Not only that, the place was clean. You could even see the living room carpet. Fucking disgusting orange colour, but never mind. Windows open. Whiff of Febreze.

The minimal chance he was turning into a huckle discounted by the sight of Bernice in a toweling robe, entering with breakfast on a tray. Filter coffee. Wholemeal toast. Low fat spread. Orange juice. The Observer. The happy couple. Parallel fucking universe.

She spoke, setting the tray down and gently shaking his shoulders. Jeff, we’ve got another visitor sweetheart. He stirred, blinked away the terror of continued existence and recognized me almost immediately.

For what do we owe the pleasure?

Bernice smiled her agreement over the rim of her cup. Obviously the hair was coloured and she’d invested a few quid on Botox, but the years had been kind to her. That’s what not having any kids does for a bird. Fuck knows what she was doing with the Sex Dwarf, specially as the newly habitable state of his lounge and implied this was clearly no one-night stand.

Seems like I wasn’t day’s the first visitor either. A magnum of Bollinger in a presentation box and a cellophane wrapped bouquet of flowers of the kind you’d see given to operatic divas at the final curtain call on the dining table. Gifts or apologies? Hard to tell at first glance. Bernice caught my quizzical stare and dug JJ in the ribs to facilitate his participation in retelling the back story of the previous night’s battle and that morning’s appellation controlee olive branch.

Predictably, the hoo-ha started after Jihadi had said something smart to upturn the egg cup of animosity. In this instance, the seemingly innocuous query to Mousehands about whether he could hold his pint glass in one of his Jeremy Beadle sized paws, had precipitated conflict. While it was undeniably true Mousehands did have the kind of skinny fists you didn’t raise in anger, explaining his preference for feet and forehead as bodily weapons of choice, it seemed this had touched a historical nerve.

Rewind a quarter of a century. The infamous night when Bernice was alleged to have jacked off the two lads behind The Ship had actually been her and Sex Dwarf’s first date, first time around. On the search for a secluded spot to get fired into each other after last orders, they’d happened across Mousehands and Snowball experimenting with the love that dare not speak its name in a quiet corner of the car park. It made for compulsive viewing.

Mousehands didn’t have that nickname in those days. Jihadi coined it when they spotted he was giving Snowball a ten-fingered tug, though in the end, he’d had to resort to mouth work as Snowball couldn’t get wood. When Mousehands finally got him going, Snowball had excitedly demanded to taste his own cum; hence the curious sight of a post jizz snog and, consequently, enduring nicknames for the pair of them.

Just as they zipped up and prepared to fuck off, Bernice and JJ had emerged from the shadows and asked if they’d enjoyed themselves. Fear. Panic. On their toes like sprinters at Monkton Stadium.  While Bernice and Jihadi got up close and personal, two frightened, confused gobshites headed back through the Scotch Estate, concocting the tale of Bernice putting it about for free, as well as having a big box and a special rhythmic talent for dual shaft manipulation. Seems like the Bucketfanny and Simonside Skier nicknames for Bernice had been the idea of Snowball, desperate to save their reputation. The usual Jarrow response of heaping lie upon lies. They spread the shite from next morning to any cunt who’d listen. We’d believe anything back then; hence the nicknames stuck. Although, to be fair, so had the more factually accurate monikers Mousehands and Snowball, even if there had never been an explanation where the names came from.

Some people were keen that the reason for the nicknames didn’t come out now. The champers and flowers had been gifts from uneasy, guilt ridden Jarrovians, intended to draw a line under the whole sorry business. Time to move on, the greetings card said. Time to forget the past.

Decent idea I suppose, and the old romantic in me was touched by the fact that the two couples are back together after all this time. Jihadi announced as he cracked open the champers. Bernice rolled her eyes and filled 3 cups with a sigh. Seems like the old NE33 versus NE32 peace talks were still on-going.

2019 CV

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2019 was a pretty barren year, with only 2 poems and 3 stories being published, though I was delighted to see The Cucumbers in print at last -:

Cigarette Haiku in Divine Brown #1

The Cucumbers in Paper & Ink #14

Morality in Glove #6

Buda in Glove #6

Broken Bread in Razur Cuts VIII

Broken Bread

Razur Cuts VIII is a brilliant read; please get a copy, where you may find this piece by yours truly within its covers -:

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We once attacked a bakery. My then boyfriend and me. A long time ago. Twenty years back. All we wanted was bread, not money.  My former lover and I were permanently skint. Never had enough to eat.  We point blank refused to get jobs, of course. My then boyfriend and I were absolutely clear on that point.

We did some pretty ropey things to get our hands on some food. The bakery attack was one. A little neighbourhood bakery right in the middle of a parade of shops. Some old longhair ran it. Did everything himself. Baked in the morning, and when he’d sold out, he closed for the day.  There was no point in targeting a big bakery. We were liberators, not robbers.

We got what we wanted. The baker was a massive Pink Floyd fan, so he made a deal when my former lover and I burst in on him, issuing our demands, while waving kitchen knives and wearing stocking masks. He offered a deal. If we would listen to this Floyd CD with him, on his tinny, portable CD player, we could take as much bread as we liked. We nodded and the baker put the closed sign on the shop door.

We put our knives away, took off the masks and sat on the floor, listening to the stupid hippy shit, while the baker slumped in an old armchair, toking away on a couple of biftas, without giving us a blast. About three-quarters the way through “Echoes,” he crashed out, so we took everything he had in the shop. Stuffed it in our bag and brought it home. The bread was nothing special.  Still, it kept us fed for maybe four or five days.

We talked about the attack for days after that. My then boyfriend and I kept asking ourselves if we had made the right choice. We couldn’t decide. Of course, if you look at it sensibly, we did make the right choice. Nobody got hurt. And we succeeded in stuffing our faces with bread. You couldn’t say we had committed a crime. It was more of an exchange. We listened to Floyd with him, and in return, we got our bread. Legally speaking, it was a commercial transaction. If the baker had requested that we wash his dishes or clean his windows or something, we would have turned him down. But he didn’t. All he wanted from us was to listen to his CD from beginning to end and we acquiesced.

We should have refused. My former lover and I should have threatened him with our knives and taken the fucking bread. Then there wouldn’t have been any problem because things started to change after that. It was kind of a turning point. I went to university, graduated, started working, got married and I never did anything like the bakery attack again. Of course, my then boyfriend left me as soon as I embraced conformism. I haven’t seen him in years. I don’t know what he’s doing. Times change. People change.

Morality

Issue #6 of “glove” now available for £2 from me @PayasoDeMierda2 in person , or via PayPal to iancusack@blueyonder.co.uk for £3 GB, £4 EU & £5 Rest of World. Here’s my contribution; Ideal reading for all connoisseurs of sex, violence & bad language…..

6 a

Okay. So, this is about a person with greater physical power, emotional power, intellectual power, using that, not for the greater good, but for their own means, their own ends or, their own gratification. I have come across some horrendous cases. The majority have been about undermining people, pressurising people; belittling. It’s like the overall reason has been to get the victim, and from a personal point of view, looking at these cases, perhaps not dispassionately, this is what’s led me to a belief that the victim is collateral damage, that it isn’t targeted. It’s like a cider press; the pressure comes from the top down to the next row, spreading out like a pyramid, the pressure gets distributed onto more and more people, so the bottom row of apples suffers the most pressure and are the most expendable. The top row tends to do that to maintain their own place.

 

I would equate that to carrying around a rucksack full of bricks. I’m also slightly deaf in my left ear; that’s why, ever since we’ve met, I’ve been moving this way, so I can hear you and in my mid-fifties, I realised that I ain’t ever going to suddenly come out of a chrysalis, as a positive butterfly. What I found on several instances is that the lack of sympathy has been quite appalling; a case of blaming the victim who used to struggle in the winter. I used to struggle badly. That affects people and there was an utter lack of understanding. In retrospect, I was hilarious, but at the time I wasn’t young. I was just turning 30, I was late twenties to 30. The sense of dealing with failure from my point of view precipitated a very long period of complaints and all that.

 

Often at arm’s length, I ended up with no understanding, to the extent that about two o’clock in the morning I found myself down by the pier. You know, I’m okay, I’m here now. I was treated as if I was an ordinary, fully functioning person. And if an ordinary, fully functioning person responds in ways like that, it is unacceptable. This was, I’m convinced, tactical and I was downgraded to a lower level, where it’s mundane, it’s repetitive. Luckily now he’s probably doing something very similar. Not mentioning his obsession with craft ale bars and stuff like that. But anyway, that’s by the by.

 

I did two years without any problem at all. And then my mother died in September, on Saturday the second, and I was entitled to bereavement leave. And this person who’s been the biggest trouble to me, on Monday the eleventh, which was the day of my mother’s funeral, in the car going to the crematorium, sends me a text. I get a text when I’m on the way to my mother’s funeral, just because he knew the date of it. I mean it was in the paper, so they should make reasonable adjustments. I asked if I could have a room closer to a toilet. Nothing’s been done. I’m two floors away from a male toilet. Nothing’s been done like that and one of the embarrassing things is that I vomit quite a lot.

 

It gets to the point now where the impact on me is so great that I just can’t be bothered anymore. I can’t be bothered to fight. I almost feel that I am going to be leaving on my own terms, because it’s just nonsensical, impossible. I mean the implied threat is there from arm’s length; a threat that was passed on with the implication that, if I’ve done anything wrong, then they could finish me. It’s probably not a credible threat, but it’s a threat that I want to move on from, as I’ve never been particularly robust.  If the central heating breaks down they don’t fix it, all this carry on. Trying to get rid of people, which creates lots of stress, top down and they’re like a turkey voting for an early Christmas six months ago, without a thought to the consequences. I suppose it’s the old biblical thing of twice as many bricks with no straw and in a lot of ways it’s corrupt because I know there’s, there’s huge amounts of fraud. It’s endemic.

 

Next Thursday nobody will come in except me, because all the youngsters are working in supermarkets stacking shelves and it’s just pointless, but if you don’t do it, they hassle you, just like Kafka. Things happen, serious things happen for reasons that you don’t know about. They have a severe sometimes life-changing impact on you and you don’t know why it’s happened. You’re powerless to resist. If a short time down the line these decisions are abandoned because they realise that they were ludicrous, there is never an apology.

 

Whenever I think about the very senior ones what I see are a collection of incredibly ruthless, ambitious, humourless, unsupportive automatons. It’s almost as if they’re feared. Feared and hated. Nobody has a good word to say about them and their utter lack of insight, utter lack of compassion or any kind of emotional intelligence. They’re hated and feared to the extent that some people are scared, going back years. In the recent instance they involved the semantics and all that stuff I don’t really get. It was obviously more prestigious, so very interestingly, they’re allowed a kind of free rein to mould in the way they see fit. I put a spoke in the wheel in many instances, but it’s what I was trained to do. You know, it’s something I believe passionately and unquestionably in, as if you’re not, you’re breaking the protocol.

 

But the amount of worried people is frightening. These are people who are isolated, who don’t know their allies because they don’t build up relationships. They must make choices, and it stinks. It stinks. I was having a conversation, and we were talking about how intensive it is. You know that phrase ‘heat or eat?’ We changed it because we’re not even able to eat because of the pressures that are on us. There are people who are not given breaks. All this sort of stuff they’re being asked to do; all of these sorts of things.

 

Obviously, what they require is more than flexibility; it’s being supine. That’s what they want. And it’s appalling. It’s absolutely dreadful this policy that has resulted in all these deaths. Thousands more people changed their lives and three years ago, the decision was made regarding which section of society it will affect. All those autodidacts who understood the way of the world, but they don’t want that. What they want is degradation.  The complete destruction and removal of thinking, the removal of doubt, and the removal of the right to criticise. These are very dangerous things that last happened in 1930s Germany. Or under Stalin’s rule.

 

And it’s awful, but it’s a condition of being there. So, I did my best, really tried to deliver. Thought about it deeply, went back. One Friday afternoon, 4.56 p.m., we get an email in the middle of October; a sudden communication that leads to pressure. They made a decision to go beyond the minimum necessary, basically because their instinct is almost ingrained within them.  It’s what I’ve said before. It’s a removal, it’s a destruction. It’s a complete simplification to a ludicrous degree. It’s the way, to remove any possible shade; all is black and white. There is no subtlety.

 

It means fraud without any name on, but we’re not doing what we should be doing which is everything they tell us. And if we don’t do it we’re putting ourselves at risk. We’re putting the future at risk. We don’t have money to fix our central heating. That’s why they need the money, but at a micro level it can be a behind the hands whispering campaign. It’s never out in the open, as you don’t want to be seen influencing other people.

 

I’ve heard people have been told stuff. I’ve looked after them as well. I loved what it achieved.  I’m now at the point where I’m not even bothered, I had to do it. It’s very clear that there is absolutely no way you can do this anonymously. And I’m interested in language and words that people use. References to, all things like that. It wasn’t really implied. Upfront. Obtrusive. And the dot, dot, dot. The dot, dot, dot of doing something that you don’t want to do at a place you don’t want to be, where questions might be asked, but it shouldn’t be a debate. It should not be a debate. In days gone by, we would not debate this.

 

 

 

2018 CV

writer

2018 saw me have 5 stories published. The one I’m most proud of would be Don’t Look Back.

 White Feather in Glove #4

Don’t Look Back in Razur Cuts #5

Power in Glove #5

The Cucumbers on line in Here Comes Everyone

Triangle in Razur Cuts #6