Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I Wish We Could Open Our Eyes 

... to see in all directions at the same time.

“Who’s my big man?” coochy-cooed Creepy Keith from Accounts this morning, sitting at the desk opposite mine, between calls to Jeanette from the introductions agency. Either he’s extremely ignorant, or I’m invisible. I tried to look away but he seemed to be coming from everywhere.
“Who’s my big green delicious man?” said the egregious twat.
“I’m going to see if I can’t find you a little friend, and then I’m going to eat the both of you!” He inserted a finger up his other nostril and had a good rummage.

Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, has spun herself into a frenzy of hyperactivity.
She has been working, in her own words, “like a bastard mad hard working bastard mega-bitch,” adding that as long as her friend Becky is away in China, she might as well immerse herself in work, “because what else is there?”
I pondered this for a split-second, before she answered that it’s all about incentives.
She’s made it her goal to take Becky sausage tasting on her return from foreign shores. She wants to prove to her that we can live the high life here in Preston just as well as any bunch of Beijing bankers.

Bill Surname, Chief Executive Officer of Company X, connoisseur of fine things and all round bon viveur, is living proof of what your mother always told you - that if you eat enough sausages, you will eventually turn into one.
On the first Friday of each month he hosts a ‘Sausage and Port’ evening, up at Valium Heights, for the previous month’s highest achievers and their partners.
These are usually his beloved salesmen and women, but occasionally a director or junior manager might break into the rankings, and this is the dream that Stella has set for herself.

“They dress up in black tie and fabulous evening gowns, then stand around in the Great Hall examining Bill Surname’s sausages, like eighteenth century physicians inspecting the King’s turds for signs of madness. It’s all terrifically elegant and then everybody gets twat faced. It’s another life, Tim, and that’s what I promised my friend Becky when I took her to the airport.”

Outside my window, Neil, my former team leader, was standing in the middle of the croquet lawn, tossing his pancakes.

“OMG, you should have seen us in the departure lounge. It was like something out of a film,” she said. “It was so sad! The minute I put her on that plane all I wanted to do was to bring her off again.”

Presently, Rex the security guard came along and shooed Neil away and cleaned up his batter.
Has Spring sprung? There are flowers already on the clematis. Walking to the data centre this afternoon I saw a butterfly. The air feels ever so slightly warmer.
Listen and you’ll hear the tiny sounds of encrusted earth breaking, micro and mini organisms waking from their slumbers, stretching and yawning, putting the kettle on, casting an eye over what’s new in the paper.

This curve is upward. The blackbirds and wagtails know it. The snails and the worms know it.
"Long-tailed tits prefer feathers to build their nests, so tip the contents of an old pillow into a hanging basket. If you haven’t already got one, get yourself a birdbath."
A man wants to beat his chest and gulp down gallons of fresh, clean air, to knock it back like mountain spring water, to feel the warmth of the sun washing over his face, can sense his own sap rising.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music 

Friday was pub night.
It started off well enough, with beer and vodka shots and everybody in good form, I think.

I talked to Canoeing Instructor for the first time since she rolled her car.
She’s OK. She hasn’t got full movement back in her neck yet, but she’s alright. Things are still going well with her girlfriend, so that’s good. The car was a write off but her canoe, which was strapped to the roof, is fine. And no, it wasn’t her fault.

Then it went a bit peculiar. Somebody got dumped by text - at least I think that’s what happened - and immediately burst into floods of tears.
Someone else spent the last hour or so in the toilets puking.
Two people took Floods Of Tears home, which left just three of us sitting in the bar, suddenly with more crisps than we could manage, feeling part bemused, part worried.
All that was missing for a proper old fashioned Friday night was a punch up in a taxi rank outside a kebab shop, but still, you can’t have everything.

Lying awake at four in the morning, not in the least bit drunk but not entirely sober either, I felt more annoyed than I had any right to be about the dumping incident. It’s hard to stand by and watch people you care about being put through the wringer. You want to help but what can you do? It hurts to see your friends hurting.

And I confess that I did a bad thing in that dark, dead of night hour.
Reacting in a way that was inappropriate and offensive and generally overstepping the mark, I vented my feelings about the evening in the only way I know how: by getting up and writing a comedy country and western song.

Comedy country and western songs are wrong. I apologise unreservedly and promise it will never happen again.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wings Of Heaven On My Shoes 

I seem to have been singing quite a bit lately.

Download this here file (you might need to Right Click, Save Target As...) to hear my slightly alarming versions of Staying Alive - community singing is alive and well in a pub somewhere in Central Lancashire - and Gnarls Barclays Bank’s Crazy.

I’ve attempted Crazy - think prog folk acoustic disco - a few times now in various clubs and traffic hot spots around the county, and I’m still yet to get it right, but I’m sure it’s going to happen for me one of these days.

Jonny B has generously sub-let me a little corner of his Norfolk Hyperspace at a very reasonable rate in order to host this file.
It was recorded by a nice man called Ivan on a gadget, and mixing desk stuff was done by a chap called Rob, neither of whom know about A Free Man In Preston. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Now do please sing along. Harmonies would be great. Keep Music Live!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


When Pestilence walks into a room everything darkens and the temperature drops a couple of degrees. She’s a minus sixty watt light bulb.

I was happily filing yellowing sheets of A4 into my new folder with the transparent sleeves. I was collecting all my shit together into the same place, no longer randomly scattered but in sequential order! I'm taking chaos and creating order. Bring unto me your tatty, coffee stained papers, and I will make them seem glossy and organised. Oh yes I will.

Then I felt a chill descend upon my shoulders, a dimming in my sunny cubicle regions. Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, wasn’t around so I took a message: the Good Ideas Committee had been in session and had rejected all of Stella’s suggestions. There was a gleeful twinkle in Pestilence’s beady little eyes. They are the windows to a dank, bottomless pit.

Some time later, Stella lurched back tearily from a long lunch, slamming the door behind her for emphasis. I kept a safe distance and waited a while before passing on the message.

“Shit!” she said, her voice low.
Disappointment hung heavily in the air like an Iraqi dictator.
“I had it all worked out. We’d go for a canter on the beach every morning, then have a jump afterwards in the paddocks.”
She’s had to cancel the riding holiday with her friend Becky. The bank has brought everything forward, and Becky leaves for China next Friday.
“Lazy lunches. Stormy afternoons...”

“This seal walks into a bar,” I said, because I was afraid for a moment she might start, you know, crying - no, seriously - and when in doubt you should always say something. “It was an iron bar.”
Stella flicked sadly through the pages of a magazine.
“It said ‘Ouch!’”
Her eyes rested on a headline asking whether flashing your breasts on a night out is empowering. She sat there quietly for a while, contemplating probable and improbable futures for herself, fleeting glimpses of this, or of that, foolish and not so foolish possibilities: with her friend Becky, without Becky, with somebody else, without anybody. Nobody at all; not a soul scenarios.

A light flurry of snowfall passed by the window. I watched a pack of salesmen running for their cars; Rex gritting; Pestilence skidding and falling on her bony arse.
The rest of the country was enjoying blizzards, mayhem on the roads, schools closed, snowmen on the BBC website, but here on the temperate Ribble Estuary all we saw were a few snowflakes that were gone in the time it took to say “Is it sticking?”

“So what do you say, Tim?” she said, standing up to switch off her PC and collect her stuff. “Sticking or not sticking?”
I said, “ No wait. It wasn’t a bar. It was a club. And did I say it was a nun that walked in? If I did, what I meant to say was a seal,” then she left to go home and I returned to admiring my new folder for a bit.

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Slightly daft MP3 disclaimer: All MP3's are posted here for a limited time only. Music is not posted here with the intention to profit or violate copyright. In the unlikely event that you are the creator or copyright owner of a song published on this site and you want it to be removed, let me know.