I bleed always


Translucent and odourless, it flows cold


Flavourless and…. pointless?


Not pointless.

Wrong word.


The grief of distant stars…


…no longer there…


…the light reaching us too late.


Can you be saved?


Do you need?


Do you want?


Touch your fingers


Eyelash-kiss my moist cheeks again…



As you snore in my arms, the vibrations run through me like the tremors of an earthquake; the ripples spreading out like stones hurled into a pond.

Your sonorous baritone makes my atoms dance.

I see my reflection in your eyes and I’m always dying.  Always falling to my knees clutching my chest or covering a wound on my neck.  Always clinging to life inside that perfect circle of black.

Hide me under a quilt so I can bury my tongue between your legs, picking hairs out of my teeth.  I’ll wet my broken lips against your sex, nodding my head…




…agreeing with everything you say.  Hide me under the sheets, leave me to nest between your thighs and not come out until the spring.



I put down my cup of tea on the table and pretend to scratch my nose; actually, I’m sniffing my fingers.  I’m wearing her black thong under my skinny jeans, so my cock is half squashed and half rubbed raw against the zip fly.  My hair is filled with her shampoo.  My teeth glisten with her toothpaste.


The question is asked

__ ___ ____ ____ ______ _____?

and I reply;

Excuse the language, mother…

…but I fucking love her.


Sanctuary II


Sanctuary II is here.

As with Sanctuary, it is a combination of my pictures and my writing.  Please click here if you wish to purchase a copy.

Oily Jeans

The Boy is translucent as he approaches me.  Like a new born fish, his organs shimmer and float behind the gelatinous transparent frame of his indistinct figure.  I see them – a jumbled mass of reds and purples, pulsing and writhing like a basket of kittens, here and there spleens and kidneys jostle for attention.  I try not to look at his head, which is horrific.  Beige teeth suspended and a pair of dreadful eyes, innocent to their own disfigurements.  To see the eyes so perfectly circular, wreathed with veins like seaweed running back from the perfectly round irises.

Through his arms, the ground fluctuates as though behind a heavy heat haze.  Distorted as though made from soap bubbles, he offers out something like a hand.  I have taken far too high a dosage.  I should never have listened to him.  This boy, this fucking idiot, with a pain threshold so distant he could human cannonball through a barbed wire fence and he would complain only about the damage to his clothes.  I want to punch him right now, but to aim for his head would mean looking at it.  Any lower, my fist would plunge into cold jelly and through his vitals.  My hand would emerge, red and silver with blood and juices, as the transparent figure filled with pale.


To distract myself I look at the ground but this doesn’t help me.  I can see past my feet and through the Earth.  I am standing, as though on a pane of glass, over a huge chasm.  Below me I can see the crusts of the planet crashing and bumping like jetsam, drifting on a sea of lava; a whirlpool around a solid magnetic sphere of impossibly shiny metal, as hard and slippery as marble.  Beyond that I can see the rest of the world getting on with their lives – the Chinese poor running fat westerners around Beijing, Australian farmers kicking up plumes of dust in their jeeps, and a solid band of rough blues as the Pacific sweeps around on a never-ending current.

I see everything and it is too much.  I fall against a tree that begins to absorb my arm.  I feel the gentle warmth of a hot towel draped over my shoulder.  I slide inside it, falling through the rings, falling through laughter and industry, laughing and thunderstorms, through the seventy five circles of human hell this tree has endured and survived, until I am face down on the floor looking down through the world.  The sphere throws magma against the glass and a few specks penetrate through and burn my face.  It vibrates and blurs in my vision as though sending out a sonar warning, as though threatened, and another huge wave of red hot molten rock crashes inches from my face and I can sense the ground beneath me beginning to give way.  I am screaming.  I am screaming for my life.  I am screaming for a lifelong fear of burning alive, sinking oh so slowly into lava, feeling my bones melt and my nerve endings hammered like guitar strings.


I scream myself hoarse until I am just wheezing and hacking.  At that moment, something grabs me around my waist and lifts me high.  The world falls away, the lava still crashes fruitlessly, the sphere calms down into a steady, relaxed heartbeat.  I begin to cackle out loud, laughing as best I can with no voice.

The Boy asks me if I’m okay.  He’s hauled me up by my shoulders as I lay face down in a bed of stinging nettles.  He is fully fleshed now; only when I stare at him for too long does his skin tone fade away like old paint to reveal the damage within.  I grab his shoulders with the desperation of a lost widower, searching for an anchor in this messy trip.  I cannot focus too long and yet he keeps bringing those horrible eyes close to mine.  Through all the carnage, I can sense and feel and maybe even see his concern.  His fingers grow like vines over my shoulder blades and I make a point of not looking at them.


It takes me a couple of hours to calm down.  I am exhausted and my face is a blotchy patchwork of red and white bumps.  The Boy tracked down the right leaves to rub across my cheeks but it is my eyelids that cause me the most grief.  I cannot stop frowning, pressing deep furrows into my forehead to take the pressure off my eyes.  If I move my head sharply the entire world evaporates like a sulphuric acid filled snow-globe, so I make careful and slow gestures.  My head moves with the gentle grace of a satellite dish.  Slow, deliberate and searching.


To calm me down, he tells me the story of how he met Her.  Riding on a condensation filled bus, the windows greyed to the outside world, he saw a bundle of clothes and shoes not far from his seat.  Curled up like a dead spider, her arms and legs folded into themselves, she dozed and bumped her way through a dull landscape until the dank yellow lights of the city strobed into view.  In one glance he saw the arms clasped tight to her chest, the boots tucked under her bottom, her knees jammed into her chest.  Seconds later, on a second glance, she was very much awake and staring straight at him.


Ten minutes had passed on a half empty bus and The Girl continued to stare – not with flirtation but a clinical curiosity.  As he met her eyes, she never broke away from the glance but held it like a weight-lifter’s handshake, and her head tilted and twitched with the unnerving intelligence of a wild and dangerous animal.  In desperation he tore himself away from her and even as her thought processes burned into his collarbone he reached out a trembling arm and wrote ‘HI J’ into the condensation on the window.

When he finally plucked up the courage to look back her head had fallen deathly still, but the eyes now locked on him, unblinking and committed.


I cannot lie; I’ve reacted badly to this experience.  The Boy was kind to me but I’m inside the shell of a front loading washing machine and I think I am a sock being thrown around a spin cycle.  The Boy is so sympathetic and so kind, it makes me feel awful to know how the story ends up.  How one day he will swing so inelegantly above that patch of nettles that disfigured me.  I can feel hot water rushing over my arms, hot red water that flows like a delta through my hairs and drips from the jagged pieces of torn metal inside this machine.  In my fucked up head I’ve blamed the smell of piss on darker forces, but my shoes are wet through as is most of my lower half.

The Boy has crossed to the other side of the old railway line and he’s leaning back against a wall covered in half a century of graffiti – from the asinine to the political – from the National Front to gang tags.  I have this memory burned deep inside my neurosis because I am so close and yet so distant, as though I am viewing him through a reversed fish-eye lens.  He is looking back at me and I cannot tell if it is sympathy or revulsion or fear or just disconnect.  He helps me piece everything together in the end, but he won’t tell me about this final image.  I rock back and forth inside this rusting piece of white good trash and The Boy of nosebleeds and fatal attractions is suddenly so effortlessly disengaged…. it annoys me how bent I was.  Or is this part of the hallucination?  He never lets on.

Instead he reclines, one foot cocked back and planted firm against the concrete, as the neon shapes and slogans ripple around him like a kaleidoscope, and I’m staring into a desperate weed poking out of tar covered ballast trying to find some kind of focus.  He may be smoking, or he may be scratching his chin.  I let out another scream, a noise so loud I see it ripple and distort the air, and he watches me with the tolerance of an Edwardian governess.  Later that night he brings me food and water because the stars are moving too fast across the sky and I can’t focus on my own hands enough to crawl.


I put my cigarettes out on the husk of that washer now because I remember what I did before that; what I did the day I found him.  I don’t need his substances to see the ghost, reclining and disaffected.  When the wind rushes through winter twigs and brushes cold hands against trailing ivy I swing around as though hunted by assassins.  I know he is there and he has questions for me.  I know that I have questions for him.  I know that we can never ask them again.

Bernard Is Close

(Originally published February 2016.)


Do you remember the first time?

The first kiss in a nearly empty cinema.  She had Greek blood, warm brown eyes and exquisite curls.  She was dressed entirely in black, even down to her immature knee-high boots.  You wore whatever you could lay your hands on that looked vaguely fashionable in a wardrobe of market knock-offs and stuff that, literally, fell off the back of a lorry.  So you roll up on your first date in slightly too big jeans that are still damp from the previous night’s wash, and a football shirt that still smells musty around the armpits because you wear it all the time.  When you arrive she looks you up and down and laughs, but after that she confidently takes your hand and leads to you the screen.  By the end of the film your mouth is dry from the taste of a cool mint mouth.  You’ve lapped your tongue around hers and felt the peculiar texture of millions of tiny buds.  Your cock is sore from unrequited attention, trying to stand up but pressed down by the tight hem of a stitched zip fly.  You can’t remember the film but who cares?  Fifteen years later, drunk and depressed, you’ll be channel hopping at two in the morning and watch the film again.  Properly this time; no kissing, no warm brown eyes.  Just alone, with a swimming head and the first creeping tentacles of a monster hangover.

Do you remember the first time?

When you sat in a guitar shop and breathlessly held an instrument across your lap under the sympathetic gaze of the shop manager and the confused but smiling faces of your parents.  You look down at the strings as though someone looking at the Rosetta Stone; infinite, untranslatable possibilities.  You twang your way through a few notes that sound nice together, and even perform the whisper of a famous riff completely by accident.  You like it simply for its shape and it goes on to be a good friend – albeit not a long term one.  Years later, with damp eyes, you’ll hawk it to a pawn shop when desperate for cash.  Even worse than the act of selling such a prized possession, every time you return to the pawn shop you notice that your guitar is still there – still with the notch in the neck from when it slid off your bed and crashed against your desk.  Still with the scratches from your studded belt when you posed and preened, still with the faint outlines of glue from the stickers you placed on it.  After a year, you stop going into the shop because you cannot bear to see your cherished memory hanging pathetically from its gibbet with a price tag that you still cannot afford.

Do you remember?

The first fuck, crashing against a bed that was on the verge of collapse, barely glued together in a moment of parental crisis.  A grinding toil of mere minutes, perhaps even seconds, as you looked confused at her eyes rolling back and her mouth agape and you thought back to the brief glimpses of pornography that you’d viewed and wondered why this seemed so different.  But then, in the porno’s, the woman never cradled your shoulders and softly sang ‘Silent Night’ into your ear in German.

The first time you felt scared and thrilled at the same time, you stood on top of an extinct volcano and dangled your legs over the shelf of a 600ft sheer drop.  In that moment you felt, in your stomach, a celestial hook that lifted you above such nonsense as gravity.  You knew that, should you fall, you would be instantly yanked cloudwards into a cold sun.  You looked down at your mud-encrusted boots and you could still feel the warmth of your first taste of whiskey dancing on the rungs of your oesaphagus, numbing your bones.  When you think no one is looking, you place your palms either side of your hips and lift yourself off the ground, just an inch or so.  When it is time to go, time to descend the zig zag path from whence we came, your old teacher gives you a lingering look.  It may be a smile or it may just be a thought passing behind his eyes but nevertheless he squeezes your shoulder and pats the top of your back.  Later that evening you read a magazine about Indian men who have held their arms up for decades or grown their nails to be as long as buses whilst he tells you about your former art teacher who disappeared one morning to be replaced by a carnival of eager substitutes; sectioned for being a potential danger to herself or her students.

Do you remember the narrow road, where you spent hours with that Coke can scoring every World Cup Final goal ever scored?  It still glows and hums now with the vibrations you left behind.  Like a perspex ruler bent over a desk, the molecules continue long after it appears to be silent.  Certain places envelope you in an eternal sunset, perched agonisingly on the precipice of endings without a solution.  I find more comfort in the optimism of a sunrise than the reflection of a sunset.  Sunsets are always too late.  Tomorrow is always too late.

Growing up I seemed, quite by accident, to surround myself with creative people.  All these individuals had their individual dreams – writers, painters, sketchers, musicians, poets, wits, vagabonds and delinquents.  I find it disturbing now how many of these people – friends and acquaintances (whose only crime of distinction is distance multiplyed by time and divided by memory) – have fallen away from their original dreams and decided to passively sit and observe the fruition of others.  I talk to them now, abstracted by distance time and memory, and when I enquire as to their past passions they tell me apologetically that it is all in the past now.  Haven’t done it in years.  Too old for that shit.  Time to start having a real life.

I know they still cling to those teenage dreams so hard to beat.  I know that the wannabe artists still crawl the galleries, the wannabe musicians stare forlornly at the stage during gigs, the wannabe writers still plough through their libraries spitting bile at the trash in hardback.  I’ve met so many middle aged and elderly people who have lamented the passing of a hobby for the sake of A Normal Life, and it scares me to see so many people that I’ve grown up with, whom I honestly thought would make it – and probably still could – falling like so many jumbled race horses over the fences.  Most of them I was convinced would make it well over and above my feeble creative efforts.  And yet, in many ways, I cannot blame them.  Who wants genuine heartfelt music in an iPod generation of auto-tuning?  Who wants penetrating writing in an age of ghost-written celebrity lifewank and E.L James’ prose that would fail a GCSE exam with only the laughing tears of an invigilator smearing the D-?

Which leaves myself and a decreasingly few other horses frantically hammering the turf, approaching every new fence with fear.  One of my worst fears, and I’ve always been a habitual worrier, is being so disillusioned with creativity as to abandon it altogether.  The thought of never creating anything ever again, whether it be a pleasant riff or a piece of Artwank, is anathema to my purpose of being here.

I’ve always felt different.  Partly this is because I’ve always been made to feel different and it is something that I struggled with during my teen years but which then blossomed after leaving the sociopathic viper’s pit that is school.  Ethan Hawke’s character Jesse, in the sublime Before Sunrise theorises that, because he was an accidental pregnancy and was never meant to be born, he’s gatecrashing a party to which he has not been invited and thus doesn’t have to abide by any rules and can govern his life as he sees fit. I’ve always suspected I was something of an unwelcome surprise, piecing together the fragments of my early childhood.  My parents were not exactly wealthy and my biological father took off when I was not even two years old.  Years later I found a note, signed by my biological father, waiving all his rights to my upbringing and care – basically the opposite of a father fighting for custody of his son.  And although this event has never cast a long shadow over me – my mother soon remarried to the man I would call, and always call Father – Jesse’s little theory does provide a succinct blurb to my thirty-two-and-counting years alive.  I like the idea that I am not supposed to be here.

I hope my fears are never realised.  Today, my one day off from a week and a half of Hotel Hell; I burned a lot of incense, did two small abstract paintings experimenting with oils on canvas, finished one ink sketch and drew another pastel piece, played some guitar and wrote this entry.  Aside from good friends, sex and long walks it was about as perfect a day as my mind can conjure.  It was not an effort, it was easy.  I woke up and I realised that I had a day to do whatever I wanted and I did just that.  I hope it continues.  I need for it to continue.



This Is Not Enough


In the flickering light I get flashes of your cat’s eyes, long teeth sinking down your jaw.  Snapshots of faces everywhere; lives experienced briefly and dismissed, like birds flying through one open window and out the other.  Bottles and chains, rings and shirts, the floor is sticky and slippery.

The bass breaks my ribs.  The treble stings my ears.  Onstage, a man in a sailor outfit rips it open to the navel with a surge of patchy hair and bubbly bad living.  Two women nearby look at his tits with distain.  I feel a tap on my shoulder and spin around.  In one motion you wrap your leg around my waist, grind the hem of your jeans into my thigh and twist my nipple hard enough that I drop my plastic cup on the floor, where it rolls languidly, lost with the others.

I look up but I can’t make out the ceiling, just pinging lasers and lit white smoke.  I stumble backwards against a table where two men dance, kicking me away.  You’re back with me again, a trickle of blood from a cut lip.  Before I can shout, you grab me tight as the song dissolves into scratchy atoms, lifting my shirt and pressing your sweaty midriff against mine.  We mingle but we don’t kiss.  We never, ever kiss.

Like an avalanche, the song restarts from a snowball and becomes a meteor.  We stand in each others faces, screaming.  Your breath stinks, and I don’t give a fuck.




“Don’t you find the expression ‘real estate’ absurd?  Is there anything less real than a house?”

We sit – me and her – dangling our legs over old stone into the grabbing waters below.  Seaweed coils around our toes in furtive strokes as though all our past lovers have drowned and are now trying to reclaim us.  Our picnic is sparse – two bottles of inexpensive wine, a packet of cakes, meats and pastry rolls, a vial of cocaine, three cans of Pepsi, two chocolate bars (melted) and a small envelope containing four or five scraps of blotter acid.  Her phone is pumping out some kind of transcendental new age bullshit, full of pipes and violins and King Arthur and…

“I really hate it.”

‘Don’t be racist.’

“How is that racist!?  I’m not being racist, I just can’t stand…”

‘…you are so racist.  I saw the way you looked at that guy yesterday.’

“That was not race.  That dick fuck’s dog tried to annihilate me.”

‘I’m going to burn you everytime you are racist.’

“I’m not…. oww!  Stop doing that!”

She pushes another cigarette deep into my flesh.  She does this everytime I am negative about something.  I have five black holes in my forearm.  One of them – the earliest one – is showing signs of blossoming into an infection.  Around the jet black disc I can see yellow and orange petals.  It doesn’t hurt but itches like crabs or sunburn.

‘…or crabs with sunburn’, she offers. Below us, the sea is no longer lapping at our feet.  Now it hugs our bones, caressing our ankles, flattening and darkening our ankle hairs.  The tide is coming in fast.  I draw deeply from a fresh roll and take a bite out of a fresh roll.  Suggesting that we should probably leave before the tide engulfs us completely, I pass the smoke over to her and she blows the smoke back in my face.

‘How can we be high and drown at the same time?  Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?’

Neither of us can swim.  But in this frame of mind, it is hard to disagree.  The sea comes in at two inches every minute.  I do the calculations.  We may die in approximately…

‘Approx-him-at-lee’ she snarls.  Then, with the ‘finger quotes’.  Ahh-prox-him-at-lee


“When I was seven years old I burned myself to death…I’ve spent the following twenty-one years talking about it, trying to work out…why did I do it and what went wrong.”

The Boy had been gone for a little while now.  Technically, he’d been dead for over six years, but he’d only been gone in the last eighteen months.  The Boy usually manifested himself in our deep discussions, until all talk about him dried up completely.  The local newspaper ran a story about a devilish – or ‘Satanic’ – cult that grew up around the tree from which he dangled to his end.  It talked enthusiastically about weird symbols, blood rituals and inhuman howling heard around its cursed trunk.  A spokesperson said, with authority, that a local group of vampires were sacrificing their veins under the shadow of that old tree, leaving spots of blood on the dead and dried up flowers strapped to the bark; notes covered in the blue poppies of ink from rain-soaked tributes.  A local group of ne’re-do-goods built a small fence around it, trying to dissuade these fiends from desecrating the final day of a simpleton.  The fence was about three feet high and not even electrified.  We were mildly disappointed in their commitment.

The blood was hers, as were the symbols.  She’d been trying to cut the tree down for months.  Unable, or unwilling, to find an axe she jammed sharp pieces of railway ballast into forked branches and tried to hack it to the ground.  Her fingers were torn apart by the violence.  Her screams of frustration could be heard by insomniacs in the nearby neighbourhoods.  Finally she tried to kill the tree by carving deep gouges into lines that she imagined were the tree’s veins.  On more than one occasion I found her curled up and asleep under the boughs.  The fence remained intact, untouched, but the blood and the hacking continued.  Clearly these are sick individuals said the spokesperson earnestly.  Clearly new measures are needed. 


I couldn’t imagine anything less clear than this.  I shook her shoulder to wake her up.  In the night she’d rolled partially into a bed of stinging nettles and one side of her face was swollen red and pockmarked by little white volcanoes.  One of her eyelids had fused shut.

“I can’t imagine anything less clear than this….” I offered.

‘My gums…’ she said, surprised.  ‘My gums.’  She stretched, yawning wide and pushing her tongue out like a church gargoyle.  ‘Help me make an axe will you?  This needs to come down, now.  Now.‘  It’d been three weeks since the first blow.


“I don’t think you can be happy and content and connect with people.  There are two kinds of art – tragedy and tragi-comedy.  That’s it.” 

She told me about a dream she had, where her eyes had been replaced by cross-head screws.  She said; depending on how I wanted to view the world, I could take a small screwdriver to my own eyes and tighten them or loosen them as I saw fit.  If I wanted to take a world view, I’d loosen them.  If I wanted to focus on a point, I’d tighten them until I felt the back of my brain trying to pull away from my skull…did you know when you are dehydrated, the headache is caused by the brain shrinking and the nerve endings attaching the brain to the bone getting stretched too far?  Anyway, the dream will never come true and I’m not sure I want it to either.  All I could smell was chrome and grease, and I couldn’t cry without rusting myself shut…

“Without rusting myself shut” I said aloud.

‘Alright, it was a fucking stupid dream, but it was important to me.’  She brings a leg out of the water that now swallows us to the knees.  It’s an effort and she has to lie backwards.  Seaweed hangs from her ankles.  Spray is flicking at our thighs, arms and faces.  My hands are wet as is my fringe.  A few minutes ago I started – quietly – freaking out.  Now I’m in a strange state of contemplative bliss.  It’s a combination of two states of mind – accepting death and knowing that she can’t die, so therefore whatever she does, I will follow.  If she attempts to swim, I will dive in after her.  We won’t drown just because we can’t swim.  It’s impossible.

After several hours of strong drink, stodgy food and lowering drugs I’m feeling sleepy and horny.  Before us, I can see the colours of the sky blending and colliding politely together like guests at a wedding.  I lie back, but it just makes the sea colder and I shiver.  The rough stone below me turns into mercury and I spread my arms out wide, feeling the soft bumps against bone and memory.  My spine protests but nothing else in my body is listening so it shouts alone.  I don’t even notice the hot point somewhere in the region of my mid-thigh.  She’s pressed a cigarette out on my rolled up jeans and the fire has burned through.


I wrench the bloodied homemade axe from her hands.  She’s sobbing.  As if in sympathy to the tree in front of us her throat begins to hack with gutteral noises and coughs.  She falls onto her hands and knees, clawing at the earth and pushing it over her fingers and toes.  She tries to take root in the ground.  Her hair is lank with mucus and tears and sweat.

I bend down and touch her shoulder with the reluctance of someone trying to test an electrified fence.  The spark from the wispy hairs on her goosepimpled skin is dangerously charged.  I reach down and grab her firmly at the upper arms and try to raise her to her feet.  The tree still stands but the bark has been slashed and carved with unnatural fury.  Several of the old wounds are already darkening, whilst the more recent ones gleam with a cream, green freshness.  A deep gouge, flowering at the edges with infection, now waits like a half-scream unrealised.

She gets up without my help, raising herself up to her tiptoes and stretching.  With a vicious snarl she kicks out at the tree with a straight leg and it shivers in fear and torment, the leaves rattling to the impact.  I can hear faint snapping and rending noises from the open wound.  Satisfied, she shrugs off my embrace.  The hairs on her arms and shoulders relax back into slumber.  The skin becomes smooth again.  She takes a deep breath, puts her shoes back on and presses her tongue deep into her nettled cheek, which now blooms a sickly, pale white with only the faintest of thin red lines tracing like rivers from space.

I imagine I can make things better.  I imagine I will save her one day.  But I fail to realise – again and again and again – that not everyone is in trouble.

Stay Awhile


Quite beautiful isn’t she?  I don’t know her name, but there are few things more wonderful than a person and their musical instrument in a perfect harmony.  She could sing very well of course, and play very well.  I honestly couldn’t tell you what song it was, or whom it was by – it didn’t really matter.  There are few things more beautiful than the harmonious relationship between an artist and their tools.

What is more attractive to you?  A person in a cafe with a pen and notepad in their hands, or a person in a cafe swiping through their phone?

I rest my case.


These shots are from Edinburgh, where one set of memories faded and another set bloomed like spring daffodils.  I feel very alive in that city, and it is a city that comes naturally towards me.  I haven’t needed to work at it, as I have with places like Manchester, whose effervescence took multiple trips and attempts to penetrate.  The best thing I can say about Edinburgh is that I’ve been there twice and it feels like I’ve lived there forever.

I saw ghosts as well.  People who looked so unnervingly like the two people I met the last time I was in the city, I almost stopped them to ask them what the hell they were doing here.  They were just mirages, illusions.  Perhaps my memory was looking for them, or perhaps I was so eager to dispel things that it threw them to the front of my cerebral cortex.  No matter.  There’s nothing quite like wandering alone around a relatively new city.  Creatively, I felt invincible again, and I haven’t felt that in a long time.  As these shots will, I hope, bear witness.


It’s been an invigorating week really – living out of hotels, spending lots of time in new surroundings and waiting on train platforms, making eye contact with strangers – I never know if the returned gaze is one of attraction or disgust but I always presume the latter and so I don’t linger and I look straight down at the floor when I’m found out.  I know this feeling cannot last now that I am back in my safe and quiet universe, with my day job marching up on the horizon, but I should cling to whatever vestige of this energy that I can and bottle it for the months ahead.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up living in Edinburgh by this time next year.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up somewhere else.  I would be surprised if I were still here, so you could probably put your mortgage on it.


The hotel in Edinburgh had a library.  A proper library, with cabinet after cabinet of dusty tomes and a huge window looking out over the rest of the city.  During my stay I spoke to both the duty managers who expressed enthusiasm to my (only half) joke that I should’ve brought my CV with me.  They told me to do it, that they are hiring, even telling me the best places to rent cheap flats in the city.  It wasn’t in the script to end up here, which is precisely why it feels oddly right.


After Edinburgh, I went to a gig in Manchester.  I’ve spoken before many times about how much I’d missed the live experience, and when the bass drum first hit a beat, and I felt my ribs echo, I felt like a junkie taking a first hit.  My body, which had felt cold and hollow, filled with warm air.  I could almost fly.  The rest of the evening was a blur of music, elbows, hands aloft, sweat pouring down my back, people shoving and pushing, singing, shouting, a fever of human beings with hearts and memories and loves and lusts and make-up.  Towards the end of the setlist I staggered out of the standing area up to the balcony and I danced, alone and loved, feeling the music crash over me like a tidal wave.  I Won’t Share You.  There’s a strange purity about going to gigs or having nights out alone.  You’re not there to socialise, or to preen, or to try and seduce.  You’re just there for the music, just there to dance, and all the stares that you may or may not get as the weird loner doesn’t matter, because you are in a relationship with the music, with the moment, and nothing and no one else matters as long as you feel that bass drum in your chest.


After the gig I stumbled out, exhausted and blurred, into a mild Manchester night.  I wasn’t ready for my hotel room yet, so I found a nightclub down a side alley.  The room was tiny, and looked to be half Tiki bar and half shipwreck.  As small groups of friends bopped and hugged, I stood in the middle of the floor and stared up at the blue and green lights, moving my limbs slowly and deliberately to The Songs That Saved Our Lives.  The Smiths, The Cure, The Manics, Bowie, Blur, they all came and went… and then I heard the opening bars of Joy Division and my body spasmed into the ether.


I returned alone, of course.  Aside from a brief dance with a girl with blue hair and piercings, there was no need to soil this week with impurity.  This was fuel for the soul.  This was about reminding myself of what it means to feel passion again after a few months of indifferent lethargy.

An aside, to finish; whilst in Edinburgh I visited one of the many art galleries and came face to face with something I wasn’t prepared for.  A van Gogh painting of olive trees, during his final years when he was at his cultural Post-Impressionist high point.  The painting was framed but had no glass between us and its surface.  As I looked at the little flecks of paint, reflecting back the dim lights of the gallery, I had something so tangible relating to one of my heroes.  Rather like Rothko in London, I could feel Vincent behind me, urging me to brush my fingertips over his paint in a time-travelling handshake of appreciation.  I knew I couldn’t touch of course, and I didn’t.  Instead, I stood so close to the painting as to make most of it a blur, except for the few flecks of paint that I’d focused so hard on.  And as I slowly took a couple of steps back, the olive trees began to writhe and move as they must have done on that hazy, heavy day when the picture was painted.

I wasn’t prepared to see a van Gogh so up close and so personal.  I wasn’t really prepared for any of this week.  And yet, now I feel more prepared for what is to come.  I just have to make sure that I do something about it.  I cannot allow lethargy to win again, as it so often does.