Today, flagrantly ripped off from the inspirational Claire over at One Night Stanzas, I’ll be talking about what I’ve been reading recently.
I’m currently studying for a Masters in Scottish History, which as you can imagine involves a fair amount of reading. I spent most of today in the University Library reading Church Records from the 16th century (see fig. 1, above).
In a counterpoint to this rather heavy reading, I’ve been trying to balance this with slightly more humorous reading. Around this time last year I started trying to re-read Discworld. This fell by the wayside somewhat once the new academic year started, and I’ve only just started back up again. After trawling through Eric, Pyramids, and Moving Pictures, I just started Lords and Ladies, which is one of my favourite of the earlier books.
Similarly, the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed something a little out of place in the picture. I’m something of a Doctor Who Geek, and Douglas Adams has been one of my favourite authors for ages, so the newly published novel based on his “lost” story from the 1970s Shada was just screaming out for me to read.
I’ve never quite been able to get the knack of writing humour in the way that Adams and Pratchett do; every time I try it either ends up feeling forced or too cynical. Not that it stops me trying though.
What’ve you been reading lately?
“So I got an e-mail the other day from Sainsbury’s. It was from their Human Resources department, apologising for the fact that on this occasion my application for a position at their new store in Morningside had been unsuccessful.
“Now ‘Fair enough,’ you might think. ‘Everyone’s getting turned down for jobs these days’, and that’s true. The depressing thing is though; I didn’t want it. I’ve already got a job. I hadn’t even applied for this position, and I got rejected from it. How soul destroying is that?”
I pause and take a drink of the cheap cider that the venue has provided while I let this sink in, but the crowd aren’t having it. Well, I say crowd… Two people famously do not constitute a crowd. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if they were paying attention, rather than clearly pissed out of their heads and practically humping each other in the back row.
I’ve been doing this routine for nearly three weeks of the festival now, and the biggest crowd I’ve had has been twelve people. This is just taking the piss though. It’s not even as though they have to pay for it. The show’s free, and I’ve handed out so many flyers that I’d be surprised if there was anyone left in the city that didn’t have one. The festival’s supposed to be the best place in the world for new talent to be discovered and for performers to get their names out there, so why can’t I get a part of that?
“I was walking…” I begin, but break off as I see half the audience snake one of their hands up the other half’s shirt. “To hell with this.” I mutter angrily, and I put the mic back on the stand, grab my cider, and leave the stage.
Neither of them looked up.
Continue reading “Rainclouds over Dalkeith”
The note is on the table,
Waiting for me expectantly.
In one universe it says
‘I have broken your heart;
Leaving you for a cute young blond.’
In the same universe it says
‘I have nipped to the shops;
To stock up on wine and condoms.’
I decide to prolong the moment:
Sustain the waveform and head
To the shops myself.
I’ll either find you,
Or chocolate, tissues, and trashy magazines.
“Why are you here?” he asked, as she moved to the mirror.
“Why did you come back?” she replied, turning, and looking him up and down, eyes lingering a moment too long on the suitcase sitting on the floor next to him.
“I’m going away. I don’t know why I came back.” He turned to leave, but she reached up and took his shoulder in her hand.
“I don’t hate you.” She said.
“I know,” he replied. “But I’m still going.”
She sighed, and turned her back to him, glancing at him in the mirror.
“I know.” she said.
I swore to the stars
It was wrong, although you said it was right.
The times we had…
I liked you for them.
But I ended it, this thing you had started it.
I thought the story was over.
I packed up my belongings and I headed for the coast
Hiding the fact I felt dead again.
Just a lie I told myself to get by
but my heart kept waiting
I couldn’t think, I was too tired of life.
There was always a crowd at the sea
but one day you were standing, smiling.
I hung my head low, avoiding you
So, so much past, felt like
A heavy stone around my neck
I couldn’t think straight.
I tried to get away and
pretend it was not you coming across to me.
You’d damn both of us, girl.
You looked me in the eye, and
I heard your voice ringing like a bell:
“I can’t accept that it’s over.
I made a vow to you,
Don’t you remember?”
Breath deep to calm down,
“If you still want me, please forgive me.
You’re still very loveable,
But you can’t throw all consequences aside.
It’s time you knew what you really want,
and if you want to be with me,
Go and tell him that
you have chosen this crime.”
We sat, seeming to be in disbelief
until we were but silhouettes
ready to be reformed.
We knew we’d never ever be the same
but it all felt fine.
It was a great adventure.
I sit within the valley green,
in the pretty twilight,
under the boughs, beside
a heart carved tree trunk.
Svetlana once sat across from me,
“Let’s get out of this country,” she’d said,
“You and me, forever,”
She took a map,
Ink faded black,
and drew a straight line.
“I’m awfully busy,”
I said, “I can’t do it,”
And she left me all alone.
I should never have come here.
I want to see her
and I think it’s a sign that last night,
I dreamt I could not stand by myself.
She was my girl.
It seems there’s no sun,
Now that she’s gone,
And I’ve not laughed in a long time.
She was my only one.
Church-going Mr Bleaney,
Waits for breakfast while she brushes her hair,
And the Russian tanks roll westward.
The old fool hopes she forgets what he did,
what happened on that trip to Prestatyn.
The moon was full that night.
The old fool, among the card-players
With the bottles he’s drunk piled around,
Thinks it’s love at first sight.
That summer nocturne, Midsummers Night, 1940.
A girl dragged by the wrists,
Modesties dispensed with.
Skin touches strangers’ skin.
Sad steps, back to his wife,
Nothing significant was really said,
She sees his grief, confirms her neuroses.
Complete disintegration, and he wonders:
Is it for now, or for always?
At long last she emerges to see him,
Waiting for breakfast while she brushed her hair.