It was just a moment, a face in a crowd.
I was on the London underground
I knew it wasn’t New York ‘cos I hadn’t been mugged yet
And it wasn’t Paris
Cos I hadn’t been mugged yet.
It was too dirty to be Singapore
And not clean enough for Japan.
It was London underground
Without a doubt
When I say saw her
I do of course mean I walked slap bang into her…
When I say I walked into her it was more a sort of smash,
There have been car wrecks less titanic.
At least a car wreck could kill you.
So my face in the crowd.
Her purse all over the platform,
Rapidly getting smattered under rush-hour feet.
She’s rubbing a breast and here I note
I have noted that it’s a swell breast
No pun intended.
I’m not rubbing anything
(Though I have to say that the urge to help her rub is somewhat overwhelming)
We both then bend
We both touch
Just a brief
A mere brief brush of finger tips.
We both catch our breath.
Well I catch my breath,
Allows me to sweep up her belongings
A knight dented with amour
And we just stand.
The world seems to halt around us.
When I say halt that’s not right…
Jaunty and out of focus.
If this were Hollywood there would be bells
But no such luck.
In the end she reaches out
Delicately and prises my fingers off of her belongings.
I stand there fighting the urge to fight
I want to stay here, stay holding this detritus
But she seems determined now.
She pours the mess into her purse.
And I stand there like a hick.
Complete inability to do
Well to do anything…
An alarmed passer-by,
A small woman in a headscarf snuffles up to me and asks if I’m okay –
Declares herself to be an expert at heart attacks.
I wonder briefly in what way she is an expert
And the sentence is funny
A weird construction
And this brings me round once again to the real world.
The woman in the headscarf.
Thanks I say
Welcome she says
And she snuffles off.
I have to blink a few times
But motor-neuron function is returning.
I have to find her.
I search the seething mass of determined humanity hoping but
God I’m a schmuck.
I just go on my way…
It’s not that I’m lonely.
Okay it’s a big city
But that just means more people.
And sex isn’t an issue,
I mean I get loads of sex.
And I don’t have to pay for any of it.
Well hardly any… (Laughs.)
No this was really something.
It wasn’t like a bolt of thunder
Nothing so grand
But it was like this stillness both inside and out and this small storm right at its centre.
This storm is in me and I know…
There’s no way to hush it.
Not without her.
It’s not bad work really
Not say compared to rubbish men or refuse men or whatever they’re called now positive environmental operatives or summin
I like people
People like me so we all get along fine
Most of the time
There’s always of course the occasional idiot who thinks he knows better thinks he can out think the system the system at the time being me
He’s wrong of course
I’ve worked on the tubes for fifteen years now and I have seen it all
All the gamut of man uses the tubes
Even now when we are under threat from bombs and heats waves and crazies and electricity cuts
To say nothing of the police
When violent men march the world with a knife in one hand and their cock in the other
According to the daily mail anyway
So here I am
I’ve seen it all
Life and death
I’ve witnessed three births and nineteen jumpers in my time
I prefer the births though the clearing up is about the same the mop and bucket gets a bit filthy and the cleaning crews moans either way
But there’s always a sense of inevitability that one day there will be another incident on the trains or the tracks or the station and I will be the one who will deal
But there are happy times
I’ve seen lovers and proposals acceptances even a wedding
Wherever there are people there will be love and sex
I once caught a couple shaggin in an empty carriage on the last train to hackney
And they were good sports about it
Even gamely invited me to join in
I declined politely and wished em a good night
I met my missus here en all
Lovely looker in her younger days
Great legs in old fashioned stockings
What the supplements would call vintage now I spose
She’s a nurse you know
She delivered my first platform baby and kept me calm and concious
Christ I was more scared than the poor mother
And she had red hair and red lipstick and a voice like Brighton beach
We were married six months later
She still beautiful I tell her everyday and every day she calls me soft
She is soft everything has softened as time has gone on like and out of focus family photo but I
I’m coming up to retirement now
I resisting but
It’s not bad work
That it’s point after all,
Most books will say yes men are bastards
But not all men.
No out there there is one for you
A perfect specimen
You’ll even love his bad habits and crappy taste in underwear
You just have to find him
And then tie him down to the bedposts and make babies
Or whatever it is you want to do
And it will all be perfect.
You know how it is.
The fact that there are more women in the world than men never comes up.
There are apparently many fish in the pond.
It’s been well stocked.
I mean take me.
I’m not a troll.
Fucking great in bed
And to be honest it all gets a bit dull.
Not being single
Long term stands
Sordid little affairs
Romance in Romford
Group sex in Surbiton
Blowjobs in Tunbridge
Tea-bagging in Tetley
Although they all seem immense at the time
Hideously painfully important
The world in glorious Wizard of Oz Technicolor
When they end
Especially when they end
And you’re on your third bottle of Chianti
And the re-bound
But in retrospect
They’re all a blur.
One huge lumpen mass of disappointment.
And after a while your friends get bored
And bugger off –
There’s only so many times you can be ignored
And then pick up the pieces of another disaster
before you loose interest.
I know I do.
I’m so affected.
It’s affecting me.
My work’s suffering.
My work is shit.
Why does anyone buy this stuff?
Smatterings of paint on a badly stretch canvas.
Badly made art
Art to order
Art designed to match you crappy sofa and your Ikea curtains
My fortune lies in gesso primer and a tube of cheap acrylic.
This is not what I thought I’d do.
But then who does what they thought they’d do
And if they do I’d like to meet them and find out if they’re happy.
Cos I’m bloody not
My favourite boob.
God it’s bruised and it hurts like hell.
What did that twat do?
What does this look like?
Why is it I find the weirdos.
I just walk into them.
I must have something tattooed on my head
Like ‘Acme Weird Magnate’.
“Come and get me boys”.
The wonder of the wonder bra
Just another little fiction
I think the world is like a pond.
You see it when you start to look around.
I think if I think hard
That the best example is senior high.
I mean look in the year book.
There are these shoals
There Brad Martin and Claudie Maynard
They head up the Jock shoal.
Julian and Claire and Everard
The Arts shoal
There are the studious shoals
The be-involved-in-every-activity-overachiever shoal
And it goes on.
These sub-aqua sub-groups
Follow you all the way through your pissy little life.
And they will never go away.
Humans will finally evolve to gaseous forms
And the shoals will still be there
They were probably there before you even noticed them.
In the womb probably.
It all depends what group your mom swam with.
And who knows
Maybe it’s even a spermatozoa thing.
What I do know is that there is a sub-sub-group.
These are the bottom feeders.
The weird fish.
No one wants to eat them.
No one wants to swim with them.
You could probably recognise them by the weird light attached to their forehead
Or the oversize teeth
(With or without head brace)
Or the bizarre acne-scar markings on their side.
And the sad thing is these people are extraordinary.
If they were allowed near the surface for air
Life’s a bitch and then finally float to the top.
Except by the time this happens their cold.
And no one gives a monkey’s…
But just occasionally they find each other.
In a crowd.
In a bookstore.
At the baseball game.
At a gallery.
And they know who the other person is
Just like that
Like it was permanently markered on to their forehead.
And you know if they could just get all their crap together…
Something marvellous would happen
But it doesn’t
They may become millionaires
Or great explorers
They aren’t marked out by profession.
They’re marked at inception.
Never be fulfilled.
Never be happy.
Never have real friends.
Never know love.
Never be anything but yourself.
The world is run by bottom feeders.
There’s loads of lonely, gasping fishy freaks out there.
But I’m not out there.
All I keep seeing is this face
This pathetic face
And I don’t even know where I saw it
I find myself looking out for it hoping it’ll come into any moment and that I’ll be able to catch it’s eye and that will be that
and I can’t even describe it
I’ve tried every way I know
Oil watercolour coal canvas brush palette pencil
I’ve tried photography for god sake taking photos of unknown faces in the hope that the silver nitrate will capture what I feel I’ve lost but it’s not bloody working
I can’t eat sleep drink or shit at the moment
I’ve lost weight
My hair is falling out
My bones are rubbing up against each other
My brush rattles around in my hand
Making my paint
And it’s all its sodding fault
This face leering down at me and yet
I am in such trouble