#28PlaysLater: Day 24 – “Voices”


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,

You know…

A collision.

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,

She stands.

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…




It slows…

Like stop-motion…

Jaunty and out of focus.

If this were Hollywood there would be bells

Or music.

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.

I relinquish.

She pours the mess into her purse.

Smiles turns

And just

Walks away…

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.

I start.

She starts

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.

The girl.

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.


In me.

This storm is in me and I know…


There’s no way to hush it.

Not without her.

Ian (English)

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

Great lady

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

Not really


Fiction lies.

That it’s point after all,

Isn’t it?

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.

I workout

I’m bright

I’m chatty

Fucking great in bed



I’m single…


And to be honest it all gets a bit dull.

Being single

Not being single



Casual screws

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.

I’m distracted.

It’s affecting me.

My work’s suffering.

I’m shit…

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?

Lance me?

What does this look like?

A boil?

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.

Really look.

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

They’d grow.

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.

At counselling.

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

Does it?

They may become millionaires

Or great explorers

Or novelists

Or scientists

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.

Weird fish.



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

Not without

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

And yet



Oh God

I am in such trouble


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