Nobody Came

Nobody came

Nobody saw

Nobody heard my mousey roar

Nobody laughed

Nobody cried

Nobody even bloody tried

Nobody looked

Nobody searched

Nobody found these petty works

Nobody cares

Nobody likes

Nobody, no one. Why do I try?

The New Normal

I’ve been thinking about what life will look like ‘afterwards’, the thing people are calling the New Normal. Wouldn’t it be good if this New way was better than the Old way?

What made me wonder about this was a lockdown re-reading of one of my all time favourite books. John Steinbeck wrote many wonderful things but, for me, Cannery Row is almost a parable on the glorious faults in all of us. Consider this small excerpt:

“The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success.”

So from now on, let’s be kind. Let’s be nice. Let’s be honest and generous.

Let’s be failures.

Get Ready For The Future

These are such interesting times.

In a few weeks, the world will start to emerge from the lockdown imposed in response to this first outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic. This is what might happen.

In a few weeks, we will see the beginning of the end of cash. People will have become used to not using it. It is a habit that will grow. The promise on the banknotes from the Governor of the Bank of England is his promise to pay the bearer of that note the value of one pound sterling. That promise will become irrelevant. The value of the future will be your credit rating, which is effectively your promise to pay others. Your promise will become the new cash. Your credit rating will become the way you are measured in society.

In a few weeks, the high streets will reopen. The shops will be shut. Department stores will have departed, become fond memories for the millennials in an old age that they cannot imagine with even a modest amount of optimism. Our idea of the shopping experience will be consigned to the past. Shops, restaurants, all consumer-facing businesses will become risk-averse, low investment, come-and-go entities. They will work on short-term leases and focus on short-term profits. Horizons will become lower, ambitions smaller. Supply chains will shorten, with the more distant links being the first to be removed. Made in China will become a derogatory term. There will be a push for localisation, for the home grown, for self-sufficiency, for recycling and reuse, and for the rejection of built-in obsolescence. we will make do and mend, and be happy to do so.

In a few weeks, the whole world will slowly go bankrupt. Every country will be in more debt than it can manage. Everybody will owe more money to everyone else than they could ever hope to pay back. Nobody will be unaffected. Nobody will have the courage to do the right thing, to make the big decisions that could begin the financial healing, though there is opportunity here. Creating sovereign wealth funds out of the monies loaned to business and individuals by governments would be the first step. This would distribute the burden across the widest base and at the same time create an investment shared by the government and the individual members of society. For that is what we will need – a vision of a future we can all share in.

In a few weeks, a vaccine will appear. There will be rancid fights and arguments during the period of manufacture and distribution. Reviews will begin, looking back at what happened and how, and people will begin to search for the culpable. We will find some, though they will not be guilty, and their punishment will be disproportionate and unfair. Governments will fall.

In a few weeks, the madmen will appear. They will tell you how we got here and whose fault it all is. They will claim to know the solution, and they will also claim to be the only people capable of delivering that solution. We have seen these people and their solutions before. We know what they are. We know what to do with them. We defeat them with love, honour and truth.

In a few weeks, we will look around and see the spaces where there used to be people. We will remember them. We will miss them. We will honour their memories in ways that we have never done before. We will create memorials to them, made of our flesh. There will be a baby boom in this coming winter of the discontented.

In a few weeks, we will pause. We will think of what we have endured. We will think of those who comforted us and cared for us and protected us during these dark days, the nurses and doctors and carers and social workers, the police and firefighters and ambulance workers, and especially of those who gave their lives to preserve ours. We will wonder what we can do to recognise these people, to reward them and honour them. We will think long and hard about that, and then we will realise that nothing we do will ever be enough.

There are interesting times to come.

Nobody Even Looks

Some days you wonder why you bother.

You sit and you search and you find them,

these unwilling words, you creep up on them

gathered there, unaware, lettering your

head, an alphabet soup of nonsense,

you catch them and you string them together,

cage them forever in the prison of the page,

juggle them up and down, muddle them around,

worry over them, care for and caress them,

make them into something by you, from you,

of you.

And nobody sees them.

Nobody finds them.

Nobody even looks for them,

these highly strung and overwrought,

overblown and overthought words of yours,

because they are hidden by millions,

squillions, quadrillions and gazillions

of other words, by other writers,

who seem to know better than you,

to know the right things to write,

every one of which seems to be

SEO much easier to find

than yours.

Some days you wonder why you bother.

The Moment Settles

In an obscured room, trying and failing

to write. Reworking, rewriting, retrying.

Failing again.

A pause.

The moment settles on me.

A weekday morning, alone in the house.

Wind blows through the eaves, traffic rumbles

and heaves. A golden blade of sunlight pierces

the armour of curtain, striking the wall,

sparking thoughts. It is late winter cool.

In these autumn years, the taste of spring

in the air, seasoned, salt and pepper hair,

I wonder what is there now, what is left

for me to do from this moment on?

Past working, past fathering, past building

a future, I sit and do what I wanted to

when the past was a present of youth. The

years gone before now number more than the

years yet to come, but I am not done.

I’ll carry on, though the writing is wrong,

and to right it would take me too long.

There is more to life.

There are birds to hear, seas to swim,

there is love to give, and to receive. There are

the miracle moments yet to come: spring;

baby cries; the kiss of a child; laughter

of friends, given freely; moonlit nights;

the scent of jasmine; more than this, more

than can be said in one lifetime.

I lean back, and as if to say yes, I am blessed

with a kiss from the sun on my face.

This Writing Thing

This writing thing, it seems

like a curse some days. It makes me

no money

and takes all my thinking, all my

time and attention, keeps me away

from things I should be doing, family stuff,

jobs around the house, things that

non-writers do without even

thinking about them. And some days,

after fighting for writing time, causing

upset and anger and problems for

people around me, I can sit

and stare

at a blank wall,

with a blank mind,

in front of a blank screen

for hours.

Then three words come, and that’s it

for the day.

In disgust, I walk away, and stay away

for days, but it has me, this opioid habit,

it won’t let me go, and I come back to it

days later, and squeeze three more

petty little words

out of my head, and I go round again.

What makes it worse is this:

if I could sit here all day

every day

and do the exact same thing,

I would.

Now, Then

(with acknowledgements to Charles Bukowski)

I sit here on the 3rd floor

hunched over in monochrome

walking clothes

pretending to be

a writer.

Alone today

but on other days

other people around me

have pretended

much better than me.

The story of the day

like every other day

is a story for me

about a person like me

with thoughts like me

doing things like me.

We write what we know.

But what do I know?

I sometimes read

what I have written

and wonder what the fuck

I think I’m doing.

Once a flood

some words fall together

that don’t seem awful

but most of the time

they look back at me

like unwanted children.

People wonder why I do it

if it isn’t making me happy

or going anywhere

and I wonder myself

I do wonder

but I keep going.

Perhaps this is the reason:

I need to hear

the gods laugh

the gods laugh

the gods laugh.