Alan Dent 

Grey again. Pick up the gamp. Where’s that from? Lawrence. Short story? Can’t recall. Woman. Assignation. Used to know them all. Seventy odd. Three vols. Where? Not now. Miss the 44. In the corner where I left it. Puddle. Took a soaking yesterday. Where? The old school? Boots muddy. Maybe the river. Soled and heeled. Healed. Souled and healed. I say I say I say I’ve had my old boots souled and healed. Who did it? Rev Buttonup and Dr Pissinthat. Good job he does the gay cobbler. Is he? Who cares. Uppers last another winter? Ten years. That long? Yes. Exquisite. Spring sale. Sixty quid from one hundred and twenty. Snapped ‘em. Fur lined. Worn away now. Never let in a drop. Get another pair. Don’t make ‘em. Fashion. Always true to you darling. Nice irony that. Odd that pricking in the toe. The quack? Pass off. Better have it looked at. Let it go, leg gone. Bloke across the road. Gets about though. Years limping. Fags. Drives. Prosthesis. Uxbridge English Dictionary. Dissertation written in a brothel. All the same, chain saw above the knee. Make an appointment. Worse through the window than when you’re out in it. What did that quack on the radio say? Ions. What’s an ion? Ask old Thompson next time we have a drink. Chemistry. Never did it. Bad those days. Science. Music. Ignorance. Factory and office fodder. No need to educate. Old Stan. Kids knew he could play. School did nothing. No O Level. All over the world. Not much lucre in it. Folkie. Supposed to be good for you. Breathe in ions. Put the gamp up? Not worth it. Mizzle. Legs feel good today. Ate something? Slept well? Mystery. Back eased up too. Crippling yesterday. Fishwick nature reserve. Ash dieback. Logs. Weight of ‘em. Makes you think. Tree down on the steps from Frenchwood Knoll. A high wind in Preston. Who wrote it? Hughes. Never read it. One of those titles. Hundreds. Lined up in the grey matter. Too late now. Poets in their youth. Know the cynicism, never begin. A racket like any other. Young hopeful I was. Night school that way. Fishwick primary. History. Social and economic 1700-1964. Something like. What was his name? Tall gangly chap. Perched on the desk when he returned the mocks. DO A LEVEL in red. Walking home revising the dates. Blind Jack of Knaresborough. Never been there. Stan’s fiddle player lives there. Wrist still a bit dodgy. Arse over tit all right. Knew those flagstones. Algae. Is that is? Like on our patio. Wet. Feet go from under you. Flat on my back. Still kept my head from hitting. Bugger. Another ten years wouldn’t get up. Take a few weeks. Age. What’s the explanation? Everything wears out. Tribology. Etymology? Greek I shouldn’t wonder. Ology. Knowledge of. Study of. Never learnt it. Not even all the grammars. Preston. Park School I suppose. Cath Coll? Lark Hill? Winckley Square? Latin. Not Greek. No one I knew. The Boltons. Joe. The wife. O Level Latin. No Greek. All Greek to her. David Watson. Greats. What’s that? Look it up. Different from Classics? Diplomatic corps. Ambassador here and there. Serving the State. No job for a respectable anarchist. Damn. There’s the 35. 61 due? Twenty minutes at the stop. Young lass in the Parkside. Nice shape on her. Friendly. Look in her eye. How old? Twenty-five? Hard to tell. All look young. High court judges like teenagers. Forty-seven years younger. Some gap. Happens. Not so much the other way. Bob Barnes’s mum. What did he tell me? Good-looking lad. Fourteen was I? Something like that. Uncomfortable. Tom Edge’s sister. His looks and your cheek you can’t fail? Is that what she said? Not pleasant to be made self-conscious. Twelve or so when I first twigged. Maggie. Couldn’t contain herself. Overwhelmed. Little boy. Bike and ball. Regret that? Maybe. Should’ve started earlier. No doubt. Religion. Not before marriage. Morning hard-ons at thirteen. Marriage? Ten years to wait. Diligent wanking. All nonsense. Condoms hard to get. Forbidding parents. Teachers. Vicars. All hypocrisy. At it like rabbits. Years of misery and frustration. Who? Janice. What was her name? Lower stream. Felt a bit ignoble. Too fastidious. Maybe. Anyway all saved up for girls who rebuffed. You only want me because you can’t have me. Cruel. Say that? No need. Power. Romantic love. All the songs. Insincere money-making pap. Should’ve been at it at fourteen. Age limit. Statutory rape. Boy and girl who’s bothered? Vicars. Priests. Windbag politicos. Uptight parents. The rebellion of a cod-piece. Where’s that? Measure for Measure? Lucio’s condemned. Aye, but to die and go we know not where. A Level. Good year. Happy year. Oh, les beaux jours. Which stop? No one there for the 31. Best go to the nearest. Three already. Might be lucky. Mr so-and-so ( names are arbitrary and therefore unimportant) arrived at four lane ends as he did most mornings, and pressing the button waited by the crushed crash barrier for the green man as a cocker spaniel held by a blonde women of forty who he’d seen now and again, sniffed at his left ankle and he looked down and speaking kindly said, “Hello there, boy. You all right?” Crushed crash. Yes. Green man. Cocker spaniel. Blonde woman. All cement to stop the sentence falling apart. Who cares? Who reads for anything but the story or sensation? Oh-ah lit. Waterstones full of it. Most books unnecessary. Ninety percent. More. Ninety nine. Maybe ninety-five. Origin of Species. Theory of Relativity. Indispensable. Changed the world. Jane Austen. Shakespeare. Aeschylus. Who reads him? Excuse me, could I ask you a couple of questions? Does the name Aeschylus mean anything to you? Probably think he’s a Greek full-back. Media. Education system. Spread of stupefaction. Helps the rich. Keep the masses stupefied. Can’t tell a good book from a bad, can’t tell a good policy from tripe. Very clever. Popular culture all part of the propaganda. Britain’s got talent. Some deluded fool trying to sing. Distraction. Never stops. Very clever. The bastards. There’s what’s-her-name? Annette? Amanda. The well-loved. Like Mrs Thomas. My husband doesn’t work. Thought she meant unemployed. Who was it told me he was a quack? Shock. Telling me that. Day we went to the pub at lunch. Shook her hair free. Back ten minutes late. Lift one night. After a parents’ evening? Very kind, you’re an angel. Face she made. Marriage as dead as a stagnant pond. Why didn’t she get out? Kids. Money. What a life. Decades of it. Sliding into bed with a man you despise. Met up one Saturday. Pair of them. Coffee and a chat. Odd. Nice hair she had. Auburn. Shone when the light caught it.  Nice breasts and backside. Nice waist that day in room 29 I put my hand there when she leaned.  Is it Amanda? Better not try it. One dog. What’s happened to the other? Lights in my favour. Nip across. Watch yourself. Brick wall wouldn’t stop some. Hello, how are you? Fine. Where you off? Oh, just walking. Keep me this side of the grave. Where’s the other? Died. Oh, no. Yes, he was eight. Very slow. We’re a bit quicker now. But he had a good life. A good life. Not a dog’s life. Make a joke of it? Maybe not. People lose a dog, like the death of their mother. How long? Thirteen years? Yes, coming up. Did my best for her in her last days. Life she had. Poverty. No education. Expected to do the women’s stuff. Times they were. Seventeen when the war broke out. Imagine it. Easy time I had of it. Knocking round the pubs at that age. Exchange. Jolly Farmer. Boar’s Head (Whore’s Bed the toilet humour had it). Fleece. Black Bull. Farmer’s Arms. Red Lion. Sitting at the bar in Pierrepoint’s place. Black Horse across the road. Nice memory that. Bus stop. Kath and Sally. Humour they had. Fifteen. Nothing like youth. Fifty-nine years. Like yesterday. Brown eyes on her. Fell for her like a brainless idiot. Ah well, that’s what matters. Better get to the stop. Here’s the 61. Early enough. Go all the way to the station. Jump on the number 1 and do Midgery. Might see a deer. Fox last week. Looking over the gate at the horse. Warning this horse may bite. Feed only apples and carrots. Out of nowhere running into the bushes. Better than standing in a classroom facing nasty kids. Can’t say that. Kids never wrong. What was it he said, that sycophantic little runt Spencer? It’s just the way they present. Kissing the arse of OFSTED. Dim-witted little greasy-pole climber. Major. Attack on the public sector. Hated comps. Of course. The masses mustn’t get educated. Likes of me, from the backstreets getting into unis, becoming teachers. Couldn’t stand it. Bad for the rich. Tell the public comps are failing. Pass it off as raising standards. Tush. Standards my arse. Destroy the system. Turn teachers into supervised operatives. Bore the kids to a paste. Push academies. No democratic control. Conduit to put tax-payers money in private pockets. Dismal business. Public fell for it. Propaganda. Tell the buggers anything. No sense of responsibility the media. Hysteria and moralism. This is better. Fresh air. Use the legs. Get among the trees. Spot a kestrel. Years I spent in that classroom. Still, pension keeps the wolf away. Wetherspoons. Wonder if he’s there. Table by the window. Aye. On his own. Bloody life. Lonely old bugger. Hair like that. Sixties kid no doubt. My age? Every day. Slow pint. Bloody society. Aye, aye. There he is. Like a statue. Ten a.m.. Probably makes a pint last till twelve. Cheap stuff. Tim Martin. Buys old beer, so they say. Runs good pubs but talks rubbish. Why wouldn’t a business bloke? What do they know? How to make brass. Blinkers. Like a horse in a gin. Lawrence again. Never seen a horse in one. Round and roun., Eyes shrouded. Cruel. Use we make of animals. What does a horse know? Round and round. Does it care? Sure to be some change in its physiology, Heart-rate. Stress. What is horse-happiness? Least we can do is be kind to the poor beasts. Rabbit the kids had. Only one to feed it. Gathering clumps of dandelion leaves out on the bike. Sitting in the garden with it nestled at my feet. Cupboard love. Still, prototype of affection. Liked to be on my lap. Stroked. Excited when I appeared. What’s going on in a rabbit’s brain? Something like what goes on in a man’s at the sight of his lover or his kids? We know so little. What to rely on? Experience. Good guide? Morality in it? Do no harm. About the best we can manage. Hippocrates. When did he live? Look it up. Might make it for the 10.05. Don’t forget the gamp. Might not need it but if you don’t have it. Lucky. Two minutes late. Driver having a drink and a piss. No notice today: we apologise for the cancellation of the following services due to lack of drivers…Poles gone home. Two young women. Those stern faces. Dzickuje. Look she gave me. Didn’t smile. In their genes? Can’t be. Social conditions? Climate? Catholicism? Communism? Who can tease it out? Waiter I knew. Tomas? Yes. Willis’s. When I went in there every day. Escape the madness. Asylum. People think of nutcases. Shelter. Safety. What’s the etymology? Look it up. Sister he had? Lovely. Blonde. Kind smile. Like a June day breaking with a clear blue sky. What was her name? Slender as a willow. No, that’s a cliché. Slender as…hope. Maybe. Went home and married. Met him in Lytham. Restaurant. Portofino? Two kids she’d had. Lovely. Some lucky husband. Five feet seven of happiness. Easy to say but once the entanglement begins. Can’t believe she had a nasty fibre in her. Sweet as a….ripe cherry. No, too physical. Intimacy and happiness. People no one pays attention to who live lovely lives in a little circle of their own making while the lunatics go chasing lucre, fame and power. Like Kath. Astonishing sexual response. Who’d know? Something about her appealed to me. What was it I read? Thicker lips better orgasms. Folk wisdom. Cod science. Maybe something in it. Should’ve stayed with her? Who knows? What put me off? “Come here” and grabbing my elbow. Coming out of Block nine. Going down for the number 40. Something controlling about that. Irrational reaction or astute? Usually right in those ways. First impressions. What goes on? Mirror neurons? That Ramachandran stuff. Something in it. Parkinson’s he has. Irony. Mind readers we are. Some bound to be better than others.Like everything. Maths. Music. Tennis. Small differences. Used to think I knew her better than she knew herself. Huh. Arrogant young prig. Times I stood here. Eight in the morning. Mary Bryant. Thighs she had. Perfectly formed. Blonde hair down to her backside. Brushed like Flaubert’s prose. Wore it inside her black leather in winter. Little snob. Knew her first as a kid. Commercial travellers’ socials. Good events. People. Games. Music.  Dad liked that stuff.  Mum preferred the hymns and an edifying sermon. Odd. Even that age I could see her character in her demeanour. Fifteen years later she called Pele a coon. Penwortham for you. Suburban supremacism. Three-bedroom bungalow a car and fridge and you’re a superior species. The human mind. What a piece of work is man. Depressing. Canvassing. Out there four to one Tory. Council houses in Ribbleton four to one Labour. How a bit of property can turn people’s minds. What’s going on? Some essential need. In the dark. In our genes to be comfortable with our sense of self. Something like that. Then conditions impose. Throw a few crumbs in the gutter and make people fight for them and they’re beasts. Ensure needs are met and they’re benign. Utopians had that. No room for frustration. Organise things so satisfaction is easy. Satisfaction of what? Our nature. Who knows what that is? Must be possible. Simple examples. Everyone’s got enough to eat who’s going to raid the potato field? Always some bastard looking for advantage. Conversation. Leslie Brothers. Basis of society. Flannery and Marcus. Capacity to take people down a peg or two. Lose that and the opportunistic impulses can break free. When? Who knows? Twelve thousand years. Agriculture. Seemed a good idea at the time. Leaving paradise. Chasing monkeys round the jungle for dinner. Tendentious view. Must have been easy to find good places. Fish. Berries. Nuts. Nature’s bounty. Small game. Idyll. Never was paradise but territories of thousands of square miles and small tribes. No paracetamol. Herbal remedies. Willow bark. Is that it? Aspirin? Ask old Thompson. At least the buses are hybrid or electric. This one? Hybrid. Prison van. Little windows. High up. Stop the prisoners looking out or the public looking in? Black maria in the old days. Claustrophobic. Couldn’t abide it. Have to play Tom Sawyer. “Oh, don’t put me in wide open spaces. I’m agoraphobic. Lock me in a little cell.” Might take me to the moors . Have to take into account? Doubt it. Criminal, you lose your humanity. Wonder what? Burglary? Non payment of fines? Cost to put ‘em away. Waste of money. Keep the Daily Mail readers feeling superior. Better to give the buggers the money and tell’em to keep out of trouble.  Money we waste. Irrational system. Rational thought. Enlightenment. Diderot. D’Alembert. Voltaire. Montesquieu. Who else? Names escape me. Fifty odd years. Scottish lot. Hume and Smith. Francis what’s-his-name? Smith’s teacher. First to lecture in English rather than Latin. Tosh that. Keep the masses ignorant. Language they don’t know. Same when I applied. Latin O level to study English. Lucky the new places had been set up. More modern outlook. Not many. Welsh didn’t insist. Nearly ended up at Bangor. Better off at Lancaster. What was it? Knew a drummer with the same handle. Hutchinson? Yes. The drummer. Hutcheson. That’s him. System of moral philosophy. Hume and Smith picked it up. Theory of Moral Sentiments. How selfish soever man may be supposed..How does it go? There are evidently some principles in his nature… That’s it. Given. Moral creatures by endowment. How to prove it? Runaway train stuff. How to account for cultural alterations. Delusion that. What alterations? Superficial. Like language. Can’t be universal because we say tree and they say arbre. Bollocks. Hitler. Innate moral sense. Even psychopaths pretend to be moral. Columbus slaughtered savages. Pretext. All do it. Little things. Getting what we want and passing it off as principle. Can’t escape. Reason too weak. Must be nature endowed. Scuppers the Enlightenment? Don’t think so? Weak but not ineffectual. Tells us morality must be given. Not the form but the principle. Madness though. Have to assume a functioning mind. Like physiology. Two legs. Amputation subtracts from nature. Must read it again. Time. Reread everything? Couldn’t. Five and a half decades. How many? Thousands. Have to select. Loss. So much forgotten. Lawrence. Knew it all when I went to uni. Can’t put up with some of it now. Short stories okay. Odour. Got me started. O Level. Mr Pimblett. Strange gulping sound he made. Every few seconds. Nervous? No idea. Nice enough bloke. Conrad too. Secret Sharer. Forster. Machine Stops. Aye. Only me not on a phone. Look over her shoulder. What’s she at? Shouldn’t. Privacy. Quick look. Clothes. Well. Fine use of resources. Everybody in their little universe. Connected. Tush. Isolated. Have to get one sooner later. Things you can’t do. Required field. Won’t take a landline. Marvellous. Forced to buy one and pay the contract. Freedom. Making some greedy bastard richer by the day. That’s freedom. They get richer by the day we get boarded up shops and fuel bills. Everybody knows. Propaganda. Slick. Pop culture. Entertained to death. Who wrote that? Read it? Maybe.Just about it. The Plug-in Drug. That one? Look it up. Neil Postman. Death of Childhood. Some insights. Electronic media. Pinker takes him to task. Where? Language Instinct? Don’t agree. Must be some damage from all this screen obsession. Grandson in his room ranting. Never played in the woods. Rope swings. Long hours away from approbation. Great loss. Overgrown. Go there. To myself. Not a kid in sight. My day, wick on a Saturday morning, school hols. Bare mud where we ran with the rope. Head smashed open. Stone. Running through the bushes. Rob winged it. Meant to hit me? Maybe. Doubt it. Give me a scare. Came with me. Home. Blood pouring. Wind-jammer never cleaned. Mum ran to Mr Fernando for the taxi. In the back with a towel on my bonce. Seven stitches. Hurt like hell. Still feel the scar. Boomerang. Good job not bald. No matter now. One or two interested though. Old git like me. Hair I think. Silver but thick. Good genes or some such theory. Skinny. Youthful signs on an old man. Looks not entirely shot at. Eyes. Women like that. So they say. Men think they want muscles and big dicks. Fools. Women obsessed with their hair. Control. Can’t do much about your legs. Jaw-line. Nose jobs I suppose. Change bits. Hair easy to alter. Colour. Style. Kath. Always at it. Fine hair she had. Surprise when I first touched it. When was that? ’67? April? May? Cusp of the exam season. Oh, the joys of youth. How the adults loved us. Whacking our arses and driving us like mules. Thought I could defy. The system. Say it now? Don’t hear it. Bourgeois. Term of abuse. What did we mean? Middle-class and narrow-minded. Cocoa and the epilogue. Church and wash the car on Sunday. Thought we were going to overturn all that. Never imagined. Twelve years later. Kids I knew played at rebellion. Isle of Wight. Dylan. Free love and dope. Next you know, smart suit and a corporate salary. Few of us who meant it got screwed all right. Parental pressure. Get on. Money. Status. All the old lies. Mother not like that. Hated it. Belief in nature. Like Hume. Never heard of him of course. Rational irrational. Natural is good but sex another matter. Erred herself. End of the war. Dad back. Six years. Hellish. Seventeen when he was sent. What was I doing his age? Sitting next to Joe every morning. Fags he went through. Sleeves rolled up like for cricket. Energy he had. Life flowed through him. Backstreet lad. Went to the Cath Coll. Bright enough. Background hemmed him. Booze. Horses. Girls. Four years older. Big difference at sixteen. Liked his attitude. Life asserting itself in poor conditions. Dad worked in a shoe factory. Mother in the Catholic mafia. Pat. Nice girl. Wouldn’t have sex with her. Catholic bollocks. Chasing skirt but keeping her pristine. Culture against man. Where is that? Bookshelf in the back room. Somewhere. Read it when? Thirty years back? No. Pre the Grantham mad woman. Bumped into him a few years back. Lane Ends. Story he told me. Raid on the depot he managed. Frozen food. Shotgun to his head. Irony. Great train robbers. Thought ‘em geniuses. Greedy bastards. Short-circuited capitalism. Done every day. Kill for money. Been at it for centuries. Some excuse or other. Fun I had. Never took it seriously. Who could? Business. Crack I liked. The stock-clerks. Pub at lunch. Joe’s twenty-first. Kind that. Inviting me , a spotty pillock in a suit. Wedding too. Thirteen and seven pence all his worldly goods. Mary Bryant walking through the office. Mini-skirt. Mules. Overwrought I was. Violin string. No. Dull cliché. What’s tight to snapping? Fat man’s belt. Anyway, days I watched her. Asked her one evening. Reception. Dark. Must’ ve been winter. Washing her hair. Time she gave me a lift. Said she’d forgotten something. Back to the depot. Parked outside. No one here, I said. No, but we are, she said. Wrong setting. In the car. Fumbling. Back seat. Trousers round my ankles. Wanted the sweet preparation. Charm of a warm pub. Few pints. Nice walk home. Missed a chance? Wouldn’t have worked. Racist. Not literary. Like the wife. Still, got A level. Knows who Jane Austen is at least. Card I sent to Joe from Newquay. Parody of the old bloke who filled the vans’ tanks. Alf? Maybe. Woman he had. Doris? Something like. Dear Joe, Me and Doris are having a fine time here in our plastic macs eating chips on the prom…Cheap stuff. Made him laugh. Writing my secret. Poems coming together. No idea about publishing. Patten. Notes To The Hurrying Man. Nothing out of the ordinary. Banged mine off to mags. Not a thing. No contacts. Thought it was all honest. Write a good poem, someone’ll publish it. Bah. Duffy. Rubbing up Henri to get on the ladder. How it always works. Naïve little fool. Naïve old fool. Aye, but cynical at least. Mitchell. Public school Oxford contacts. Right stable. Modesty doesn’t pay. Keep your bloody success. I’m not kissing anybody’s arse. Still, mum was right in her odd way. Enough courage to say no to the system. Confused. Aye. Nature is good. What about a virus? God and the devil. All that crap in her head before she could read. Bastards. Church helping the rich. Frighten the poor to death. God and capital my sworn enemies. Social side of church though. Helped her a lot in her lonely old years. What could I do? Mind sliding into incoherence. Dissonance. Call it that now. Impossible conflicts. Tell people to live how no one can. Drive ‘em mad. Bastards. Me too. My teenage years. Youth club. Youth clubs without god. What’s wrong with that? Who needs god for table tennis and eye contact? Ideas we had then. We? Me. Aways thought shared. Damn fool. Outsider. Accounts for that? Genes? Family? Neither one nor the other. Impossible to untangle. What was it they’ve discovered? Oh, yes. MS. Five thousand years ago. People moving westward. What were they called? Forget. Cells giving up? Names slip away. What’s in a name? What causes ageing anyway? Telomeres. Shorten. Something like that. Cell ends up dying. Right now. On this bus. Biology trying to wipe me out. What good am I? Three score years and ten. Passed my sell by date. Amlodipine. Ramipril. Dead years ago else. Keep us alive, they can. Too long? Dave’s dad. A hundred and one this month. Nice bloke. Good man. Not like my dad. Backstreet kid. Poverty. Abuse. Dipsomania. Chance he had? Odd couple my parents. Still, Dave’s dad pushy. Took the valves out of the box at O Level time. Responsible? Mum avoided that stuff. Let kids be kids. Have her to thank. Find your own way. Aye. Other hand no encouragement. Show your grandad when I came home with the report. First in French. 96%. No idea. Out of her circle. Scared her to death. World outside the home. Perilous. Right about that. Employment. Moral outrage. Love thrives in little corners. No morality in the system. Humanity taken a wrong turn. Where did I write that? Review of Fred’s stuff? Maybe. Anyway, MS. Genes they had. Super-charged immune system. Kept them safe. Contact with animals, wild animals. Genes still around but social conditions changed. System turns against itself. Something like that. Selection a complex process. Not that Dawkins stuff. Made a fortune peddling tosh about Darwin. Elephant a cumbersome apparatus for passing on elephant DNA. Bollocks. It ain’t necessarily so. Lewontin. Got that somewhere. Back room? Hardback. Reread. What does he say? Differences biological distinctions cultural. Aye. That’s astute. Driver at LFD. Frozen foods. Scottish name. McDonald? Troubled. Always a fag in his fingers when he came up to the office. Fat Pakis I’ve seen today. Doing nothing. Layabouts. Give ‘em dole and council houses. That stuff. No arguing with it. Wants to be irrational. Skin colour. Eye colour. What’s the odds? Biological difference. Means nothing. Shared DNA. Knew nothing about it then. Genetics. Mendel and the peas. Knew that. About it. Bundle of resentments and fears projected onto to folk with black skins. In the genes? No. Never is. Genes and what happens culturally. Always. Prove it? Prove you’re in love. Things that matter go beyond proof. Why should we understand? Brains to help us survive. Nothing perfect. Language? Aye. Optimal. Chomsky thinks. Odd biology can produce that. Makes you laugh. Can’t even explain language. All the assertions you hear. Read. Politicos in the media bloated with rightness. Know nothing. Radical doubt. Rational. Like that. Doubt is the product of a rational mind. Dragged into the political fight. Have to assert this and that. Stick to the evidence. Aye. That’s secure. None of those wild claims. Can’t stay out. Palestine. Have to persuade. Rhetorical anxiety to persuade. Who was that? Someone about Sartre. Murdoch? Aye, maybe. Lancaster. Sartre. Windbag Orwell called him. Quite right. Grim area this. Skeffie. Times we got off the bus and hoofed it down to Deepdale. Live here. Front door on the pavement. Traffic day and night.  Thousands of folk. Just hanging on. Bring your kids up here. Cruel. Deliberate of course. Make people feel they’ve hardly a right to live. Die off early. Tories love it. Kill off the poor. Proves their superiority. Labour no better. Blair slaughtering kids in Iraq. WMD. Bollocks. Lying little git. Starmer supporting Israel. Murderous bastard. Not politics. Humanity. 76% percent. Aye. The will of the people. Planes to Rwanda the people’s will. Ceasefire.  Bugger that. People’s will if it suits the rich. Thought we’d sweep all that aside. Sixties. ’64. ’66. Unions. Tanks off my lawn Hughie. In and out of Downing Street. Beer and sandwiches. We are the masters now. Heath late night sessions with the unions. Small step to workers’ control. Two wins in ’74. Fundamental shift of wealth and power. What happened? Callaghan. Tory poster in late ’78. Everyone ready. TV appearance. Hanging onto power. Idiot. Winter of discontent. Shakespeare traduced to support the rich. Should’ve asked for a majority. Promised to finish the job. Too late. Healey stomping. Laws of arithmetic. Bowing to the IMF. Finance capital screwing the common folk. Tush. Vision? Courage? Imagination? Propaganda shoved down people’s throats. Evil system. Clever people work the tabloids. Know they’re lying. Do they? Aye. One hand believe it. On the other lie without compunction. Rhetoric for the masses. Free market? Bollocks. State support of property. State starts looking after the rest, it’s tyranny. Truss. Believed her own propaganda. Corporates cut her off at the knees. State has to be on their side. Investors they say. Can’t call a greedy bastard a greedy bastard. Railway workers on strike. Holding the country to ransom. Saying that back in the sixties. Change the record. Never enough power. Never enough submission. Big business has the country by the balls. Never read that in the Daily Mail. Princess Mathilda has the whooping cough. Who’s that? Thoreau? Aye. Think so. All that time ago. Insight not lacking. Organisation. That it? People always make the best of their circumstances. Can’t blame ‘em. Get the best job. Earn a bit. Nice house. Holidays. Two cars. Who’s going to turn it down to fight the system? Get it in the neck. Conformism the qualification for advancement. System knows its own. Me. Spot it a mile off. Free thinker. Me and Coops. Cochrane. Dick walked the kids called him. Not prefects. Kids with muscle where their brains should be. Sporty types. Wits like us. Had it. Humiliation. Meant to be. Grown man putting down kids of fifteen. Sick. Mind you, Waterhouse. He liked us. Sense o’humour. Bit of a laugh. What was it? Emptying dustbins is more socially useful than breaking land speed records. Aye. Donald Campbell. All that bollocks. Serves the system. Everything’s a competition. There’s the rub though. Benn. Public school. Oxford. Millions in the bank. Parliamentary career. Bloke on the shop floor. Woman cleaning offices. Mum school cleaning and dinners. Stick you’re neck out you’re on the dole and broke. Benn, all that an audience with later on. Cashing in. Books. CDs. Easy to be radical when you’ve little to risk. Start off radical you don’t get your nose in. Mainstream he was. Dad an MP. Question is, organising the folk at the bottom. Isolated. Poor. Little education. Mum. Did her bit. NUPE. Never went to meetings. On strike a couple o’ times. Aye. That’s their trick. Atomise folk. Feel you’re the only one thinks like you do. Fear. Me when Johnson denied me an interview. You have neither been given nor have you assumed responsibility. Bastard. Lied like Netanyahu. Union? Useless. Appointments and promotions. Don’t get involved. Pusillanimous. Let ‘em get away with it. Accept careerism. Bosses’ game. Aye. Can’t expect folk to give up their chances. Little house. Family. Revolutionaries calling them to the barricades. Oh aye. Jack Dromey. Let down the Grunwick women. Into parliament. Teamed up with Harriet. Sent their kids to selective schools. Marvellous. Worked up the pickets but no strategy. Usual vulgar Marxist tosh. Walk away when it all fails. Get a nice career. The women get stuffed. Should’ve been done? Impossible. Boss ignoring Scarman. Law and order. Oh aye. When it’s locking up kids with no futures. Bosses? What was his name? Ward ? Think so. Greedy, nasty little bastard. State on his side. TUC cowardly as ever. Callaghan? Hopeless. Williams on the picket line. Once. Changed her tune. Gang of four. Opportunistic, perfidious gits. Much damage as possible. Vote for Foot and bugger off. Labour should’ve got behind it. TUC. Whole Labour movement. Matter of principle. That’s how the right did it. What was it? National Association for Freedom? Licence for the rich. Aye. Call it that. National Association for Screwing the Poor. Representation. Works so far. Recall. Instant. Otherwise you set ‘em free to rule over you. Whole of the problem. Power lies with the governed. Hume. Nearly there. Next roundabout? Times I’ve done this, still never sure. Aye. Ring the bell, driver get tetchy else. Thank you. Must be decent that. Folk thanking you all day. Some churlish types. Grumps. Kids once over. Few of ‘em. Thanks, sir. Leaving the room. Nice enough. Never wanted thanks. Liked a bit of crack. Early days. 2W. Bright lot. Laughs we had. Longman’s. Beeping tape. Marie-France est dans le jardin. Beep. Kids took the piss. Enjoyed those days. Bit of spirit the kids had. Full of life but not malicious, like in the last years. OFSTED. Turned the whole system to vinegar. Nasty stuff. Oh, forget that. Rumination on ruin. The king my father’s wrack. Tempest? Aye. Saw it first at the Century. ’67? About then. Miranda. Lovely young actress. Theatre. Could’ve had a life there. Soho Cellar. Script in hand. Weekend workshops. June Catlow. On my side. Script advisor. Shoved one under the nose of Sarah Catterall. Artistic director. Powerful. Don’t worry. Does what she fancies. Usually takes eight years or so, first script to full production. Thought I was on my way. Keep going, she said. Eight plays I did. Something like that. Then her tragedy. Boy same age as Colette. Used to exchange stories. Good days. Good trips. Back on the train thinking it over. Script well received. Actors lifted it. Met a few famous now. Sally thingy. Pete Priory. On the telly. The radio. Didn’t hear from her for months. Dropped a line. My script? Did you manage…? Terrible to get the letter. Hand-written. Poor woman. Some infection the kid got. Throat maybe. Went to his organs. Kidneys? And me pestering about a bloody play. Promised to pass it on. End of her life in the theatre. Future she had. Cruel life. Imagine that. Never get over it. Lost kid. Worst thing. Your parents go, right order. Your kids. Rip the heart out of you. Bloke who took over. Never seen your script. Workshops shifted to Wednesdays seven o’clock. Impossible. Work. Kids. Opportunity gone like a flimsy paper in a roaring fire. Start from scratch. Four years work. Near misses. Artistic director at the Polygon. What was her name? Any scripts? Sent a couple. Liked ‘em. Moved on before a chance. Aye. Other places. And the Touch. Five wins and a full production. Four and they stepped in to stop me. Why? Didn’t know how to direct it. Farce. Bit of Orton, bit of Beaumarchais, bit of Moliere. Tantalising. Where’s that from? Tantalus. Water receded each time he was about to drink. That it? Look it up. Punished by the gods. Aye. Punished all right. Dad. Punished for living. Vicious culture. Rain hold off? Hope so. Use the gamp as a walking stick. Need one a few years. Ten years do this? Doubt it. Maybe slowly. Fifteen. Might be walking to the corner and back. Dread it. Shrinking limits. Still, never know. Like Mick says, get to that stage might be happy with it. Don’t know. Cant’ run. Chase a ball. Whack one over the net. Scoot about a court for eight hours. But out. Fresh air. The odour. Changes as the day moves on. Love that smell of the early morning air. Paper round. Sunday morning. Half five. No one about. Lovely. Bike out of the garage. BSA Golden Fifty. Five Campag. Thought it was something. Twenty seven on the old thing now. Lovely odour in the air. And the silence. Imagine everyone’s died overnight. World to yourself. Closed curtains. Lie-in after a hard week. No traffic. Ride no hands in the middle of the road. Holden’s shed. Blokes already there numbering up. Macs. Caps. Needed the dosh. Poor buggers. There was I, chirpy. Carefree. Really? Dad gone. Mum sunk. Something in my genes? Life always interesting. Dismal seeing ‘em, standing there, thick pencils in their hands. Check the list. Write the number. Automatons. How much? Twelve bob? Something like that. Maybe more. Twelve and six a Sunday round. Two I did. Get an easy one, home for half seven. Long bugger, pain in the arse. Drives like the bloody M6. Twenty-five bob. Not bad. Evening round. Thirty papers. Half an hour. Seven and a tanner a week. Nice money when you’re fourteen. Old Holden had to pay well. Needed reliable lads. No good if they pulled the covers when it was pissing or minus three. Not many lasses. One. Stopped me on Church Ave. Got a light? Never smoked but always had matches. Fires in the woods. Like sheath knives. Eyes she made at me. Woods behind her. Fancied it. Seven on a Sunday morning. Drizzle. Terrified. Gave her the matches and skedaddled. Best thing. Not for me. Affection. Crushes I had. Marilyn Booth. Lovely sunshine in her hair. Started it. Coy look. Father fixated. Friend of Cochrane he was. Snob. Neurotic about success. Elder sister. What was her name? Barbara? No. Pauline? Maybe. Dark. Nice face. Slender. Good badminton player. Marilyn too. Took me for a fool. Dangling for three years. Wanted her French O Level. Dad’s pressure. Ach, ugly words and face when the exams were over. Odd that. Sense of rising. Threw herself into the abyss. Aye. That’s the test. Line from Heaney. He is borne up by what he buckles under. Good that. Gets the psychology in the physical detail. Curious how that works. In the genes? Must be some fundamental process. Folk submitting as a way of rising. She stoops to conquer. Not quite the same. People going mad for a look at a royal. Shake the hand of a dim-witted princess feel their lives are redeemed. Easier than fighting back. Our destiny is terribly hard. Lenin? Lousy ideas. Avant-garde. Democratic centralism. Dictatorship by any other name. Marx to blame. Denial of given human nature. Products of precise circumstances. Something in it but has to be a nature for it to work on. Can’t rely on that, someone has to decide. Short route to Stalin. Have to put faith in human creativity. Common folk can look after themselves. State the problem. Agency the mad can get hold of. Hitler. Pol Pot. Trump. No State what can they do? Small stuff. Convince the masses? Believe in democracy. Extend it. Government of the people by the people. Not a tiny group of chiselling representatives. Workplace. Old idea. Proudhon. No good getting political power without economic power. Gone backwards. Fifty- year retreat. Thatcher. Major. Blair. Brown. Cameron. May. Johnson. Truss. Sunak.  Ten million depending on foodbanks and charities. Third world country. Used to call ‘em. Developing countries. Tush. Held back countries. The time is out of joint oh cursed spite. Born in a time like this. Global warming. Nuclear weapons. Maybe a few hundred years and the adventure is over. Some hidden tribe survive? Depths of the Amazon or the Congo Basin. Start again. Loudon Wainwright. What is it? Hard day on the planet. Peripheral stuff. Who’s heard it? Shove  The Spice Girls down people’s throat. Clever. Constant distraction. Adulation. Who said that? Adulation for fools, admiration for the wise. Despair drives people to it. Lousy lives. Dull. Work without control. Killing. Not the job, the relations. Some jumped-up little twat of a boss. Spencer. Give me the revolver I’ll put him out of his misery. Wretched little man. When I was elected sec of the association. The people’s choice. Sneering little arsehole. Professional bum-sucker. Who elected him? Usual sycophancy to rise. Live like that. Please your superiors get dropped in a hole in the ground. Some life. What is it Lawrence says about Hardy? His characters coming into being. Aye. Hard to find the language. Right though. Daughters of the Vicar. Lacking the full range of human emotions. Middle-classes emotionally stunted. Counting their money. Obsessed with the price of everything. Thought we were going to throw all that aside. Naïve. Electing a limited snob like Thatcher. Mother-in-law. Three times. Identifying with wealth and power. Narcissism. Christopher Lasch. Lot in it but impossible to pin it all down. People have to rely on their instincts. No need to be an intellectual. Not quantum mechanics or Sanskrit. Propaganda. That’s our age. The Age of Propaganda. Never been anything like it? Middle-ages? Church? Aye. Had a grip on people’s minds. Different though. Knew the Church controlled. Accepted what they said was self-serving. Trick of our propaganda is it looks like something else. What? Common sense. Bit of blue sky anyway. Size of that place. Recycling Lives. Began as a charity. Scam the wife says. Multi-millionaire. Non-ferrous metals. Stuff they get. Big business, waste. Like to have a butcher’s one day. I’m a poet. I’d like to write about what goes on here. Can I have a look around? I’ll stay out of the way. Forget it. Who’d publish it anyway? Lits neck wrung by commercialism and dumbing down. The Literature Racket. How many read it? A dozen? Getting known, as Beckett says. Saramago. No point expecting the masses to read serious lit. Right? Probably. Expect them to read Relativity? Lit needs an asylum. Market in books, everything kilters down. Nadine Dorries best-seller. Dismal tosh. Can’t write a sentence. Universities. Have to distinguish good from bad. What was it I watched? Ten minutes. The Kitchen. Writing as thin as…What does Flaubert say? Sèche comme un cotret? That it? Thin as a lath. Worn out. Thin as….. a poor kid’s broth. Bit better. Anyway. Lousy stuff. Heard the writer on Radio 4. Kirsty Young. Mutual ego masturbation. Ten thousand write like that. Shakespeare. Marlowe. Austen. Joyce. Conrad. George Eliot. Carson McCullers. Unique. Like Parker. Django. Have to be. Pick up the novels in Waterstones. Could all be by the same person. Aye. That’s the success. Dumb it down. Library. Look on the fiction shelves. Nothing by Hemingway, one by Fielding, nothing by Yates.  Forster next to Follett. Folk don’t know the difference. I like it it’s good. Disaster. I like Trump, he’s good. Little classics section. Two hundred books. Culture lost. Snobbery? Tosh. Confusion of realms. Bach better than Bacharach. Not snobbery. Correct distinction. Vulgarity in the ascendant. Ortega. Reactionary but some decent ideas. What does he say? Not the right of vulgarity but vulgarity as a right? Something like. The wife. Thrillers. My enemy. Ruth too. Doorstep thick crap. Buy that keeps me from publication. Never read my stuff. Twelve novels. Wife reads like a censor. Nothing about her in it doesn’t give tuppence. What’s that? Buzzard. Aye. Maybe. Eyes not good enough that height. Lorries coming in. Big operation, Booths. Family firm. Edwin. Daughter knew one of the kids. Parents split up she wouldn’t use the shop. Good crack. Nice stores. Can’t criticise that. Lovely produce. Some organising. Looks rational. Folk get good quality veg tasty cheeses. Capitalism works. ABC. Why not a workers’ co-op? What can’t be done that way that’s done now? Have to imagine it. Easier to accept what is. All right for the folk who can afford. Us. Wife pulling it in. Where does it go? God knows. She slaves. I’m out here. She earns it she spends it. Drive people into debt. Good trick. Get their dosh before they’ve earned it. Make ‘em more submissive. Dread of it mum had. Dad pretty much. Borrowed for the coffee bar. Grandad. Frugal as a.. what? Monk? Too predictable. Frugal. Etymology? Look it up. Was though. HP a trick on the poor. Wanted something she saved. Aye. Discipline. Something lost there. Maxed out credit cards. Lunacy. Rational use of debt. Mortgage. End up owning. Enterprise. Aye. Makes sense. What’s money after all. Universal pander? Who says that? Marx? Smith? Wealth of Nations. Labour theory of value. Both economic determinists. Bollocks. Millenia we had no economy. When Adam delved and Eve span. When Adam hunted and Eve gathered. Just like us fifty thousand years ago. About. No one knows. Language and abstract thought. No trade. No barter. No economy. How many years? Agriculture about twelve thousand. Nearly forty. Complex social relations. Not production. Reproduction. Blind spot for Smith. Died a virgin? Probably. Shaking fits at Oxford. Nervous breakdown? Frustration. Needed a good woman. Or a good man if he was that way. Influence on his work? Must be. Still, mutual sympathy. Something like. But never to know passion. Kath. Never to know that. A woman in her ecstasy. Dried him up a bit. Hume? Like a good nosh and a laugh. What’s the story about him in the water? Damn. Gone from me. Book I reviewed. The Great Guide. On the top shelf by the window. Pre-capitalist. Make of it now? US. Bonkers desire for domination. Monroe Doctrine. Manifest Destiny. O’Sullivan. That his name? Yes. Journalist. God likes America. No accounting for taste. Western hemisphere their playground. Keep out! No Europeans. No blacks. No dogs. Grandiose ideas. Where does it all come from? Those big words which make us so unhappy. Stay in one room. A la Pascal. Something like that. Quirk in the brain. Need for self-elevation. Easy to see impossible to prove. Comes down to political rhetoric. Vacuous. Israelis at it in Gaza. Big heads. Netanyahu mad liar. Kids slaughtered for the sake of a madman’s ego. World where that’s possible. Worth living in? Point is the opposite is possible. Who wouldn’t prefer love, sex, music, food, sleep, a good walk by the sea, a laugh. What is it drives us away from pleasure to mass killing? More than men less than beasts. Who’s that? Diderot? Kid. I always thought everyone wanted it. Nice life. Shocking when you realise. Warped minds? Folk I worked with. Landers. Off his rocker. Head of department thought he was Napoleon. Power. What is it? Command of someone else’s potency. That what I wrote? Where? The mag? Aye. Maybe. All lost? Way to spend your life writing what no one will read. Still. Not my responsibility. Did what was right. By my lights. Always that. Wrote what I could. Editors, publishers, agents, theatres. Their business. True though. Don’t have that pushiness. Fault? Could be. On the other hand, pushy to get on in the present state of things means conformism. Aye. Maybe there’s a degree though. Trim a little to gain a lot. Doesn’t work. Power demands too much. Got to face it down. Get it in the neck all right. That’s authenticity. Never should’ve taken the bloody job. What did he say old Barrow? I haven’t anybody else in mind. Cunt. Should’ve told him to shove it up his arse. Year I thought. Stuck. Bloody Johnson. Thought he was god’s emissary. Tight-buttoned little twat. Probably stirred his tea with his dick till he was twenty-five. Should’ve got out. I’ve had to put a reservation in your reference. Aye. Should’ve pulled any scrap from my pocket and written it there and then. Dear Sir, This is to notify you I shall be leaving your employ..Too easy-going. Public school Oxford bloody nonsense. Lawrence has it all right. Not the full range of human emotions. On the spectrum? Maybe. Pity him? Screws up other people’s lives. No pity for that. Three times he kicked me in the teeth. Sense of superiority. What else from public school? What they’re for. Burn the bloody places down. Waste? Good buildings. Resources. Aye. Destruction is a lousy method. Bakunin. Right about Leninism. Saw Stalin coming. Nothing more than Marx to go on. Shows the theory’s flawed. More religion than analysis. Manifesto anyway. Prediction. George Eliot says about that? Look it up. Still how to be rid. All my life. ’64. Long time. Decades. Centuries. Feudalism. On and on. Generation after another. Gross injustice. Kicked it off? Agriculture. Surplus. Idea of accumulation. Turned our minds. Conrad. Not a moral aim. Not pretty when you look into it. Litotes. Bloody ugly. Odd. Conservative in his views. Like Balzac. Royalist who saw the cause was doomed. In his lit. Something about lit which drives to objectivity. Prose at least. Poetry? Too much toothache. Ha ! Holub. Lyricism. Conceals more than it says. The inauthentic I. Sense of a self removed. Novel a social form. Drama too? Beckett. Krapp? Still principally about his relationship. Subjectivity can reveal the objective but. Most poets from the elite. Centuries the masses illiterate. Kind of tradition is that? Eliot’s bollocks. Fit into that you’re on the side of the oppressors. Conrad right though. Racist? Nigger of the Narcissus. Should change the title. The Narcisssus. Censorship? No. Avoidance of harm. Do no harm. Who is it accuses him? Achebe? Think so. Valid but Heart of Darkness not about the evils of the coloured folk. Pursuit of lucre rather. Indigenous people of Cuba and Saint Domingo. Silver and gold in their hair. Handed it over to the Europeans. No idea of exchange value. Innocence. Eden. Fall. Bite of the apple. Not sex, money. Sex a pleasure. A joy. Joins people. Property divides. No way back. Some cataclysm. Einstein and the fourth world war. Humanity taken a wrong turn. Where’s that lead? Go that way one day. Must be the industrial estate. LFD. Nostalgia. One day. What is it now? Offices full of computers. Call centre. Mad idea. Barrier to human communication. Maybe one day. Stroll past. Think about those days. My history. Our history. Joe. Forgotten people. Laughs we had though. Two fingers to the company. Worldwide. Billions. Set up a depot here Joe leaves school needs a job. Hey presto. Make use of the local talent. Good brain he had. Wasted. Kid from the back streets. Millions of ‘em. Toffs get remembered. Names in history books because they emerged from the right cunt. Right dick delivered the tadpoles. Crazy. Charlie boy sticking his nose in. Thinks he’s an ecologist. Jumping on private jets. Living in palaces. Carbon footprint the size of Asia. What’s the other bugger? Jeffrey Epstein. Shagging young girls. Doesn’t sweat. Lying bastard. Entitlement. Drives people nuts. Some quirk in the brain. Advantage sets people off. Think they’re superhuman. Blue eyes brown eyes. No solution but equality. No deference. No power. You talk rubbish I say so. Likewise. Having to defer to idiots like Spencer. Petty functional hierarchies. Distorts feeling. People want to say, do me a favour you pillock. Have to say, Yes William. Of course, William. Right away William. Inauthenticity. Hallmark of our culture. Identify with power feel big. Odd. Pop stars. Sports stars. Film stars. Sparks up some part of the brain. People leave themselves behind. One day might go that way. Explore. Probably no more than a track. Still re-live those days. A la Proust. Nothing like it. Some detail kicks off a way of feeling. Long gone. Long gone. Most dead. Suppose. Short life is. Sixteen you’ll live forever. Sixteen years. Little pile of ashes. Shouldn’t wonder. Dad gone a decade before my age. Mum fifteen years more. Uncle Arth. Few weeks from a hundred. Kept him going? Walking. Fresh air. No booze. Raw onion every day mum said. Maybe one day. Someone coming. Better move on. Think I’m nuts loitering. Young she looks. Little dog. Nothing to worry about. One of those mad things the kids at the far end of the nature reserve have. Up on their hind legs. Leash tight as….A fat man’s belt. Quite like that. Teeth bared. Have you by the throat if the kid can’t hang on. Protection. Drugs. Probably. From the estate. Worst in town once over. Dominant families the wife said. Had to visit clients.  Better these days. All the same. Stay away from the steps. Pity. Liked pressing up there. Bit of effort for the thighs. Ça forme le mollet. Un kilometre a pied. Kids who couldn’t get the melody. L’air. Même si tu ne connais pas l’air. Henri Lebrun’s little daughter. Cute she was. What did I sing with her? Came in from the garden eating. Qu’as-tu dans la bouche? he said. Un bout de gruyère. Laugh. What was she? Three? Different culture. Got ill. Terrible. Lovely little child. Old git like me dies. Had my three score and more. Little kid. Too cruel. Like Lynn. Forty-three. No age. Me. Why do I deserve it? Kids in Gaza. Yank bastards. Biden claiming beheadings. Liar. Hamas terrorists. Amateurs compared to the Americans. Laying waste to Vietnam. What’s that? Benevolence. Everything we do is angelic. Same thing with folk in power. It’s for your own good we make you work like a donkey for not enough to pay the rent. Funny. Something in the brain. Gyrus of deception. Ever find it? Neural pathway makes people think they’re god? Ethics forbids experiment. Mystery to ourselves. Clean down the middle. Can’t see what makes us love. Nice stuff. Can’t see what makes us monsters. Despair. Charming walk she has. Morning. Hi. Not a bad day. No, not too bad. Come on, Eric. Eric? Who’d give that to a dog? Maybe in memory. Pleasant little animal. Couldn’t do with it. Too tying. Little black bags. Changed enough nappies. Still better than the old days. Coils of the stuff on the pavement. Tread it through the house. Simple to change behaviour. Make it hard to behave badly. Reward beneficence. Some chance internationally. Who’s got the biggest dick? Yanks bombing and murdering. Allende. Alexandra Square when the news came through. CIA. Kissinger. Mad bastard. Hailed as a statesman. Blair licking his arse when he popped. Thug in a suit. Psychopath with a doctorate. Used to think education made people moral. Ideas you have as a kid. Recognised the madness in teachers though. Cochrane. Relished whacking your arse with a thin cane. Bloody sadist. Wakefield hitting us with a sawn-off cricket bat. Should’ve been in prison. Ignorant cunt. Call that education. Waterhouse. Good teacher. Never laid a finger. Some like him. System attracts bullies. Weak-minded enjoy pushing kids around. Weak-minded? Get to the bottom of it. Freud? Probably all bollocks. Penis envy. Make you laugh. Pneumatic model. All scuppered by neuroscience? Can’t prove it anyway. Not a science if you can’t test it. Marx. Scientific socialism. Rubbish. Post-structuralism. Codswallop.  Stuff I had to read. Piles of it. Roland Barthes. Gothot-Mersch. That her name? Drive you barmy. Trying for an esoteric language like the physicists. Fear. Talk bollocks in science you’re found out fast. Talk endless tosh about lit you get three professorships. Could’ve written my handy little thesis on Flaubert but. Dog-fight with Steve Barnes. Nice bloke. Red socks.Tucked his feet under his bum in supervisions. Like a kid. Enjoyed those two or three hour sessions. All I had to do once a fortnight. Knock up a supervision paper. Took a day. Rest of the time read what I liked. Wrote. Banging off poetry here and there. Papering the room with rejection slips. We’ll get you a chair. Nearly fell off mine. Old boy stuff. Manchester Grammar and Oxford. Tony Pomeroy. Big name. External supervisor. Hello, old boy. Bright young chap doing some work on Flaubert. If you’ve chair..Grandad say about that? Cheat. Looking over my shoulder all my life. Anyway, by then post-structuralismed into a paste. Where to go? Should’ve asked dad. Bookshop. Second-hand. He could’ve done the café. Better than getting screwed in the public sector. That lunatic old bat Thatcher. Damage she did. Free market my areshole. State for the rich. People fell for the prestidigitation. For my next trick I will slash taxes without fucking up your hospitals. A child of three could get it. Great for the super-rich. They get it too when climate change strikes. Trump. Thinks he’s invincible. Ego of a two-year-old. God save him. God obeys the laws of physics. Shove out the CO2 we’re all fried. Or drowned. Legacy. Christ. Brought kids into this mess and can’t guarantee their well-being. Grandson. My age the seas may be a metre higher. That much? Who was is it? David King. Ex-government advisor. Can’t recall the figures. Don’t stick to my brain. Look ‘em up. I’m standing on the beach at Cambridge. Mitchell. Saw him read it. CND rally? Bruce. What was his name? Slip away they do. Dementia on the way? Christ. All I need. Nuts they say. Almonds. Fats. Good fats bad fats. Buy that stuff in Aldi. Little jars. Delicious. Nothing but almonds. How do they do that? Grind ‘em? Busy here. Bad bit of the walk. Speed they go. Size of the lorries. Electrified before long. Batteries. Best way on the railways. Beeching. Silly twat. Dr. Thick as a ….workhouse butty. No. Thick as a Greek yoghurt. Not much good. Let it fester. Shut the lines boosted the car sales. All about. Profit. Railways nationalised. Thatcher avant la lettre. Cars on the road. How many? Thirty million? Look it up. Sixty-five million. Forty million adults. Thirty million cars. Madness. Say fifty on a bus. Couple of hundred on a train. Something like on a tram. Do the division. Sixty-five million by fifty. Six point million by five. One and a bit million. Christ. Get folk on buses trains and trams and we could turn the motorways to cyclepaths. All done for the rich. Hits them too. Stupid bastards. Clogged roads. Pollution. Accidents. Live in the country. Big houses surrounded by fences. Guarded by Dobermans. Tristram and Felicity in private holes. Think they’re evading the problems. Climate change kicks ‘em up the arse.  Lorries from all over the place. Look at that. Spain. Carrots or something. As if we can’t. Globalisation. More dosh for the rich. When I was a kid. Made in Hong Kong. Dad used to joke. Toys. On a boat all that way. Can’t make a bloody toy here? Pitiful motivation. Lucre. Like a dog after a bitch on heat. In the street. Like Diogenes. No sense in that. Wanking in the public square. Drives us mad. Pelf. Loot. Wampum. No gods I am no idle votarist. Timon. Shakespeare saw it. So much of this will make black white, foul fair. How? Our capacities externalised. Coming back to us in coin and paper. Wad of tenners means look at me. I’m potent. Morally empty. Emotionally vacuous. Not money people want. Humanity. As if a quantity. Quality. Lit the best guide. Shoved aside. Psychology. Behaviourism. Sociology. Embedded. Serving the corporates. Bernays. Getting women to smoke. PR rules the world. Fake. All phoney. Ever find our way back? Doubt it. Maybe cataclysm. Climate change surprises. Florida under water. London swamped. Manchester the capital. Good ruse. We’ll let you come up here if you embrace egalitarianism. We’re not having Surrey in Salford. What a time to be alive. Humanity on the verge of suicide. I’ll be gone. The lad. Nothing worse. Leaving the world worse than when you arrived. Do? Christ. Speed o’ that. No indication. Don’t mind me mate. I’m just the codger trying to dodge the wheels. Self-driving stuff. Disaster. Not thought through. Read it somewhere. Autonomous car hit a woman dragged her half a mile. Same drive. Money. Great chance. Get cars off the road. Won’t do it. Less profit in trains, trams and buses. Woods at last. Pity the noise still loud. All the same. Might cop a deer. Ready for a piss. Nip down that early path past the farm. Wonder if the horses are in the field. One-eyed bugger bites. Conversations with a one-eyed horse. Best-seller. Some chance. Should’ve brought a pair of apples. Got to know me. Click of the tongue. Heads over the gate. Power they have. Grabbing the hedge. Ripping. Tame ‘em. Bit in the mouth, Spurs in the ribs. First world war. How may died? Horses dragged into our madness. No species like us. Dinosaurs not suicidal. Drive you to despair. No horses. Pity. Recognising by sight? Dogs all smell. Olfactory brain area as big as China. Rats. Bad eyesight. Makes sense. Live in the dark. Shit filled sewer their paradise. Rat holidays. Come to the pitch dark drains of the favelas. All the shit you can eat. We evolved for the light.   Here we are. Muddy. Watch in. Over your boots…..