Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wake-Up Call

A poem in The Stare’s Nest. At the time I wrote it I used to go to Leeds quite frequently for work and usually, though not always, stayed in the Hilton hotel beside the station. Sometimes I stayed at the Holiday Inn. Oh those expense account days!

Monday, November 10, 2014

If they had hacked Amy's voicemail

"Amy, it's Pete, yeah. Missin' you babe. It's hell in here but when I get out, we'll get high as a kite and all will be well."

"It's dad. The gig went fantastic, hun. The yanks are mad for me. How you doin'. Be good and take care. Later."

"Amy, I've got you an interview in Rolling Stone. Call me. Bye."

"Oh, boo. Turn on your phone. I want to come over. Valerie."

"Amy. Turn on your bloody phone. I need that money now. You don't know what these guys can do. This is not funny anymore."

"Darling, your dad is the talk of New York. Won't you come and see us? Oh I suppose you're too busy. Is your voice any better? You know I always have chicken soup here, ready to go. Amy? ... Bye."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Good morning, Autumn

Antony & the Johnsons playlist on YouTube, starting with Fistful of Love, River of Sorrow and You are my Sister. It's a blue grey morning and post-summer tristesse is upon me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

She's back

Cover for Time Out, Carmencita

Everybody is dying to meet her. Literally. She scythes her way through the oddballs who answer her lonely hearts advert, who frequent singles bars or are merely fated to encounter her by chance. Still, it's no good to dwell on past misfortune, especially when it's not hers. (Time Out, Carmencita - new edition for Kindle, 2014. £0.77p)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Churchill is asleep

It's a long story but I don't know how it starts. By the time I get to this place where a painter is painting on an easel in a big building, possibly a gallery, I must turn right before where the painter sits and there's a sort of passageway. It's almost completely blocked by a naked man, very broad in the beam, who appears to be waiting outside a door that he's facing. As I edge past his back I notice there is a sign on the door that says "Lav". I think to myself "Fuck that, I'm not going in there" and go to the next door along. The latch is sealed with a gold device threaded through, which I unhook. Inside is a small room longer than it is wide. Though I can only see the top of his head, I can see that Churchill is asleep behind the computer screen, so I will have to go back.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Events as governing points

As events happen and things move, at all times all of the relative views are calculable. All relatives hold true. But there is a governing point at the locus of an event. Each governing point is an event. The governing points are authoritative. Until the event occurs it cannot give any relative appearance to any other entity. It occurs once, establishing a governing point, a fixed authority. No other entity can gainsay the governing point. It owns inherent objectivity.

We cannot trap these governing points because they are evanescent and distant. Before we know about them they have already gone. We can't know them before they occur, can't know them at the same time they occur unless even if they are part of our own internal world, only after they have already occurred. Each container can hold within it innumerable transient events and each person as a container of thoughts has access to authoritative sources. The box knows what happened to Schrodinger's cat.


From where A stands, B looks one inch tall. From where B stands, A looks one inch tall. They are both sixty inches tall and N metres apart. A is right about himself and wrong about B. B is right about himself and wrong about A. Rightness is inherent in the entity itself. Each entity is its own truth but no other can know it exactly. That doesn't mean there is no truth, only that it's hard to know.

That takes care of what is outside. What is inside an entity is carried there blind and impervious to what's outside. The mind, being inside of one, is in its own world, the world of oneself. However, the mind has windows onto the outside, in the form of eyesight, hearing etc. We apply our minds to understanding what is outside and calculating what the truth might be.

It is a mistake to say that each viewpoint is equally valid, the prime example being whether A and B are dead or alive. It makes no difference what A thinks about B being dead or alive [or rather it doesn't help us know what is true]. It only matters whether B as B is dead or alive. B is the absolute authority on whether he is dead or alive. No relative impression has any authority. B owns the attribute "dead or alive". That is a governing point.


Governing points are start points and the world is continually emergent in the form of new governing points. All else relating to a point is governed by the point. It is instantaneous and transient. The traces it leaves are like ripples after a pebble falls in a pond, except that the pebble vanishes in no time. One nanosecond after the pebble strikes, it is a different pebble that continues to make its way through the surface of the water. We can hypothesize that like points in geometry, controlling points are infinitesimally small. We might call them events, except that the everyday sense of the word "event" creates a misleading impression. So I will call them points.

The world consists of continually emergent infinitesimal points, each of which is the authority on itself. The point governs its own existence. No entity can make any observation or conclusion about a point, until the point emerges. Because its existence is infinitesimally small, it is gone before any entity can exert any control over it. A point has power, it is authoritative and conclusive. But when it comes to knowing about governing points, we are all at sea. Truth is a moving target.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lines find a home

I'm very pleased that Staxtes magazine has published Winter Thoughts as part of its English Wednesdays series online, with a marvellous picture by Stratos.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Staying with the B.....s again

As we often do, or I do anyway, not always the missus, but this time both, we were staying with the B.....s. We're not quite well off enough though. There seems to be a shortage of clothes. And when we are out it's difficult to know which station, which route in the vastness of town, a way that will be within our means. Not enough coins to pay for a taxi to the airport. We end up in a street of small terraced houses. At first there's no one around and as we are naked, we lie down and she starts to suck me off. Then the youths and children of the street look on in amusement, so we have to leave and go back to the B.....s. I see old B..... He is a tall, ominous man, standing sidelong in a doorway across the space. He never says much but I'm afraid because, of course, a long time ago I killed two of his children, and so I try to hide.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

She's afraid of you

The kid in the tunnel is amazing. She has a way of cartwheeling in fractions anti-clockwise (or is it clockwise?) with her limbs holding her in place at the same distance on the walls of the tunnel. I want to compliment her in an easy, pleasant way. I say, 'Well done. You are the Spiderwoman!' But this other guy, whom I know fairly well, wants to join in. He tries to join with the girl in the tunnel tricks. He out-machos me. They have drifted further away and she can no longer see me. But he can't do it and they end up in a heap. He comes up past me after he has ruined the game and left her way back there on the floor of the tunnel. I don't know what to say. He says, 'She's afraid of you.'

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Naked driving (again)

I'm with two American guys and we're in a type of jeep, not a military one but not a particularly good civilian one either. The little guy driving has started to overtake a bus but there's not enough power. It's dangerous because we are too close to the side of the bus. Now of course the cops are after us, so we turn off somewhere and I say go there, up a ludicrously steep curve onto the forecourt of a large house with trees. It's impossible for anyone passing to see what's up on top of that curve. After little discussion we get rid of all of our clothes because the way to avoid being recognised by the cops is to drive naked. And so it's back out onto the road.

Monday, March 31, 2014


I'm trying to reassemble a small watch. It's a messy business. I can't seem to grasp and separate the necessary parts from a whole street full of rubbish. I'm nearly there but something slips and I have to get it back in my hand. My friend's parents are losing patience with me. They want to start taking all the rubbish away. I keep the small pieces and give up the large planks, which are immediately taken away, and a dirty oily rag. It had to be done, quick decision. I think I still have the necessary pieces on me and I continue trying to put the mechanism in place in the small watch. Interminably. But they are leaving.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Drumstick vegetable
Like most new things we hear about, it's supposed to be very good for you. The exterior is woody and inedible. If you make the mistake of chewing it, you have to spit it out. There is very little pith, but what there is is soft and sweet, a bit like parsnip. Other things in this picture: jackfruit segments and coriander.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Purple rain

I narrowly escaped a night in hospital on Jan 23rd, because at about 9 pm I managed to produce some urine that, for the first time that day, didn't look like Rioja Crianza. The same thing had happened the previous week and my GP sent me for tests and said if it happened again to go straight to A&E.

So after a morning of red streams, I went to St Mary's A&E about 2:30 pm with what looked like a blood sample. That got me to the top of the triage list and into one of those gowns that seem to go on the wrong way round. The triage nurse was very kind and pleasant and led me through.

I gave my usual spiel to a phlebotomist about where the best vein was. I said I had had a terrible experience when they hunted around in my left arm for a vein. So she took the right one. She said, "I don't think I've ever seen phlebotomists hunting around for a vein."

Recognising my mistake, I introduced some truth, which is a powerful defence. I said it was when I was a kid and there was a major screaming session. No answer. I said "I don't think there will be any screaming session this time." She was putting one of those things, a cannula, in my arm. Does that mean I'll be here for a long time? No, they "cannulise" everyone in A&E to provide quick access to a vein in case of an emergency.

Eventually, in came a young woman doctor and examined me. It was amusing, with hindsight, when she asked would I mind if she looked at my penis. I say with hindsight because at the time I felt oddly emotional. My mind was not functioning in a normal way. I couldn't remember what day it was, for example. And so I said, "Yes. What I mean is..." Then I realised I mustn't dither like I always do. So I said "It's OK!" louder than than I intended.

"I was just worried, what if someone walks in?" A mistake. She said she would get someone to guard the door and off she went and came back with a tall orderly, who stood like a security guard, guarding the closed door from the inside. "Er, other person," I said, "please avert your eyes." And so it went on. She had a good rummage around down there. Her face was a picture of wistful compassion.

I had lots of chat with the doctor. At one point I remember apologising that it was hard to make fascinating conversation when every sentence had to contain the word "wee". As I mentioned, I wasn't quite in my right mind. I can see that now. However, I would still have said that, even in my right mind. Probably because I haven't got a right mind.

They phoned Charing Cross hospital where I had an appointment for next week about all this. Charing Cross said in view of the situation they would like to see me that night. By now it was evening. Here we reach a problem. Before taking me there they wanted to stick a catheter in me. You probably know what that's about. I didn't consent.

They explained a blood clot could block the urine. (I spared you those, which I had been seeing too.) Then there would be an emergency. I dithered like the very dithery ditherer that I am. I changed my mind and changed it back. The doctor was sympathetic and patient. She went and talked to the Registrar. He said it should be done.

I asked questions about it. Each detail sounded worse than the last. "It's horrific. I had a cystoscopy many years ago that affected me for about six months. I might never be the same again." Once again I felt a bit emotional.

"Is that what worries you?"

As tactfully as possible I put forward the thought that it might only be fear of insurance claims, and a sort of bureaucracy. She told me the Registrar was the top medic in the place. I think she thought I had him down as a bureaucrat, and I sort of did too.

There was a nurse with us at this time and she said, "They're going to put it anyway."

"You mean if they don't do it here, they'll do it there?" I wanted to say they might be brutes in the other place. I was thinking I'd prefer this crew to do it because I was halfway in love with them already. I said, "Better the devil you know."

"Okay, I know nothing about it. The Registrar recommends it and he knows. You recommend it and you know. I know nothing, so I will follow your advice." The doctor said it was my decision. I repeated some of the same logic, as you do. I relented, but full of foreboding.

But wait. Will I be able to go home tonight? They said if I had the catheter I'd have to stay overnight in Ch.X. That changed the odds. I'm sorry I have to change my mind again. I'm sorry for dithering. Don't worry, that's fine, it's your decision. I thought I detected heavily veiled approval for my decision.

So they discharged me with a letter to Charing Cross urology department describing all the gory detail and sent me by ambulance. I had an appointment there anyway. The private ambulance takes me and another guy. We're the walking wounded. Outside I see many small cafés, one with candlelit tables. On arrival, I am issued another gown that goes on the wrong way. Still peeing blood every time, which is a lot of times because blood gives you a heavy, urgent feeling.

They examined me. The urologist came. I knew he was thinking "catheter". I told him it would go away, I hoped!, like it did last week. I didn't have any problem starting. (That was not completely true.) I answered all his questions and repeated my story from the beginning like a suspect in a police procedural. My answers were a little confused. (That can happen if you get dehydrated, and they hadn't let me drink anything all day.) Some mix up about samples. So an orderly brings a jug to use next time. Meanwhile lie there for a while. 9 pm, and at last, the urine comes clear and I'm free.

They sent me on my way with a prescription for antibiotics and under strict instructions not to miss my appointment the next week, when they are going to send in a camera crew on a remake of Fantastic Journey.


Skip forward to the appointment the next week.

There was a remarkable and lovely person there who was giving hell to the boss about some mix-up there had been with people's appointments that day. One old lady who was very self-possessed and dignified wanted to know why she had been called in if they couldn't see her today. Our marvellous person, whom I shall call Marilyn (because that was her name), was trying to do everything she could to get this woman seen and sort out the problems, all the time being absolutely calm and simpatico. It couldn't be done and she was rescheduled for middle of March, but Marilyn was so effective in apologising and comforting this rather stern woman, that the old woman asked her name and they hugged and called each other darling. They went away down the corridor arm in arm.

Meanwhile a couple came in, or possibly mother and son. They spoke something like Polish or some eastern European language anyway. Babushka woman sat down opposite me and splayed her feet apart as far as it is humanly possible to do, more or less doing the splits from a seated position, and pointing her toes out as if to attain the furthest possible distance. She proceeded to read out in a loud voice some medical tract she had happened upon in a newspaper, which was all about prostate cancer. I think she was showing off that she could read English, though the son or whoever he was, didn't appear to understand it. She went on and on for pages with every disastrous, horrific consequence, treatment and outcome. Imagine sitting there listening to this in mixed company, with chaps in for urology and women too, as she loudly proclaims, "Most men undergoing ...(whatever treatment it was... "will experience e-rec-tile dis-function".  I exchanged a wry curl of the lip with a woman sitting in the same row opposite.

Another character was the nurse who sort of checked me in and took blood. She was a weirdo too. Anything I asked or said, she seemed to take it personally. I asked if she was a phlebotomist and she said no, she was a nurse - "We do more". So will you be taking blood? "Do you want to go down to the phlebotomists?" Sorry, I only wanted to know whether to take off my coat. They're better at it, she de-assured me, but I can do it as well. Sorry, I just wasn't sure what was happening. I, as I mentioned before, have a spiel about which vein is a good one to take. She said she'd have one go and if she couldn't find it she'd send me to the phlebotomist. I think she wanted to punish me.

There were a few more formalities, which I'll skip over, and I waited about an hour and a half. She was behind the reception desk at this time, so I asked if she had any idea when I'd be seen. She said about 10 or 20 minutes and explained about a mix-up with appointments. Then she went off for a wander. She reappeared after another few minutes. I was sitting in the plastic chairs with the others, waiting. She says, "Wot's your name?" I said Stephen Moran. Off she went on her travels again.

Shortly afterwards, I hear a tiny voice from a door about 40 yards away, spelling "S-t-e-p-h-e-n M-o-r-a-n?" Luckily I could see her from where I was sat. So I got to see the consultant.

Oh yeah and she got off on the wrong foot with me by trying to make a joke about my address. Even though I said Sudbury, she must have read Harrow from the screen or the page and said, "Oh Harrow, that's where all the Chinese go because when they get into the taxi at the airport they say Ha-ro." They're not all locked up.


Update: I'm fine now. It was down to an infection and they gave me powerful antibiotics.
Further update (2019): It's now been put down to a bladder stone. You don't want to know. It has been resolved, and I am grateful to the NHS and all its lovely and hardworking staff.

Friday, January 31, 2014

From nothing to nothing

To realise that things we habitually say and do and think are actually wrong. You walk down the street, looking this way and that. You think you're a geezer. That woman's pants are too tight. You look over the railway bridge and you think somebody said something interesting.

Or rather you have no idea whether these things are right or not. Your consciousness is so thin as to barely exist. You are a watchman who tries to make sentences span the disappearance into nothing of the past and the nothing that comprises the future, to carry them over the line between those two nothings, an imaginary concept called the present. When in reality there is nothing at all because the past is always gone, the future is never here and there is no interval between them, no space where something can exist that is neither past nor future. And how can you carry something from nowhere to nowhere? What can persist across the line between two empty zones with no gap between them? But something does, apparently.


But there is no other copy in a different zone, is there?, only this one that keeps changing its configuration. Everything is still here only in different arrangements. Something about change. If nothing changed, time would perhaps not exist. There would be nothing to count it by. Counting could not occur because counting itself involves change. To count is to see different things. If you see different things, your vision is changing. It takes time to exist. No time, no time to exist. It takes space to exist. No space, nowhere to exist, no existence. And so what we have is existence because equally without the existence of something, and its somewhere, there can be no time and no space. What could time possibly mean without anything in existence? And without time, no space, no time for space to exist. We might just as well call time/space existence.

There is no past somewhere else. There is no future waiting in the wings. Only the perpetually changing present. In existence. Tumbling.



Time is not a separate thing with attributes. It's a measure of things. You can't get a bottle of time, just as you can't get a bottle of length. Things have length and things likewise have time. Therefore time is a property of things, the fourth dimension. We are not equipped to see the fourth dimension. If we could, we could turn our attention through past and future, just like we look at a huge ocean liner in port, turning to the prow, looking along the side with all its portholes, scanning along and looking down to the stern. We could look towards how it was last week, when there was no ship here, scan along as it sailed this way until it arrived here where we are now and by continuing to turn forward in time, we might see it sailing away again. But we can't!


Yet in a sense we can - by staying put and waiting. We get to see the ship arriving and departing. So perhaps what we see is whatever intersects with our own time. We see all of our time in a way we can't see all of other things' or people's time. We only see them when their time intersects with ours.



It's time that is passing through us. It changes and rearranges all, while we never move any more than a tree moves, or a rock in a stream.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Willesden Green Writers' Group relaunch event

Looking forward to this on Thursday night. Maybe see you there? Free admission.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The third word

I am taking an exam that involves writing in response to three words. I can't remember the exact words but they are a bit like past, present and future. I keep trying to start but forgetting what the first word is, and my response never gets farther than a word or two, which I then cross out. I was sure I would get it done but I have started on so many blank pages now, I hardly have any pages left. Somebody who has already completed the paper gives me hints about how to tackle it but all I can think of is the original three words. The time is nearly up. Then the teacher/supervisor gives a little example of the kind of things I could write. On hearing that example paragraph I realise there is no way I can ever complete the paper because I only have the three words. I get the feeling that there is a first word, which I briefly know, but when I think about the second one then I have to think about the first one again and so on. The third word never even gets a look-in.