In the Shards of Night

Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice

An obtrusive part of the cityscape, he looks down on passers-by who couldn’t care less. He’s stood there for so long, he’s known to everybody yet known by no one; just dust-coated brass among grime-encrusted concrete maintaining his cogitative countenance of casual conceit.

He was erected to remind a field of its purpose and so he did – for two orbits or so of the Earth around the Sun. Then his gaze grew less importunate, hazy, mundane until, eventually, it reminded the folk treading past him of no more than their quotidian purpose. Lofty ideals on a pedestal were too high for the pedestrian to whom he is now but an aberrant excrescence obtruding from the flat wall guiding their blind feet on the way to and from work.


Last to Go

A rewrite of Harold Pinter’s Last to Go stripped of subtlety and profundity.

Christmas day. Noon. North Pole or thereabouts. SANTA’s office in his shack. Both SANTA and ELF are standing in front of a wooden desk. ELF is staring determinedly ahead. SANTA is gazing at the ceiling, twiddling his fingers behind his back.

SANTA You have been tied up a touch lately.
ELF Aye.
SANTA About the past fortnight or so.
ELF A fortnight?
SANTA Give or take.
(Pause. ELF cogitates)
Give rather than take.
ELF Ehm.
SANTA Been watching. From afar.
ELF So you have.
SANTA Yes, I have.
ELF Hmm.
SANTA Had quite a mountain to deal with.
ELF You did?
SANTA A veritable shedload. But nobody at hand. To help with it.
I literally moved mountains to get stuff done in time.
ELF You did?
ELF Hmm.
SANTA I’d have appreciated a helpmate, you see.
Especially after that…mass last-minute defection.
ELF Ehm.
SANTA Don’t I pay you enough?
Don’t you get paid holidays? Don’t you appreciate what I do for you?
ELF See, about that–
SANTA What about that?
ELF I was thinking.
SANTA Oh, don’t you go off running your mouth about inequality and class struggle and whatnot, you ingrate bastard.
I clothed you. I fed you. I…
ELF Exploited?
ELF You exploited us?
SANTA But you left me alone. To move mountains.
A mountain. A–
ELF A veritable shedload.
SANTA Yes. That.
But you left me and let me do all that alone.
ELF Quite alone.
SANTA Yes, quite alone.
I’ve got a mind to give you a sack.
ELF The sack.
SANTA Don’t you be patronising me.
ELF Go on. You’ve been giving sacks away the world over. One more will do no more harm.
Go on.
SANTA Go. Leave me alone.
ELF All right.
SANTA All right.
ELF All right.
(Exeunt ELF)
SANTA Go like all the other bastards!

A Heart Surgeon

In a dalliance of two houses of learning
most unlike the human palette of suburbias,
hives of shades & underclasses on the breadline,

she stabbed him in the leg – literally;
she stabbed him in the heart – metaphorically.

Now she aspires to act in the theatre,
cutting into more sick people’s hearts…

More from the News Archive


A soup can has exploded on a bus.

The tin filled with malodorous liquid burst open on the top deck of a stationary bus at B—- station at 12:34 today. There have been no casualtues so far.

The liquid appears to be thick and viscous and has chunk floating in it. It is believed to be harmless, albeit nauseating.

The 1—- bus from  M—- to R—- was motionless at the bus stop when an attempt to access the contents of the container ended in the contents escaping with a pop. It splattered all over the young lady holding the can and the window shield of the bus.

The lady has been offered a packet of tissues by a co-commuter.

Our reporter is on site and more may follow.

From the News Archive


A man man is singing in G—- while being restrained by the police.

A gentleman, apparently of no fixed abode, is being pinned down on the pavement by five law enforcement officers wearing forensic blue gloves.

The gentleman, being thus immobilised and handcuffed, is singing the following lines in a catchy melody: “Fuckin’ pig/fuckin’ pig/fucking pig/fuckin’ pig!”

The situation is developing.

Occasional Transpositions

Writers ought, perhaps, to leave the protective cosiness of their homes and socialise every now and again, see other people so as to have more to draw on than their solipsistic selves; they may want to see a touch more of the tangible world beyond their doorsteps and escape the bubble of the hyperbolised world constructed by the media.

An event far down south drew me all the way from far up north the other day, one of the scarce outings I have done this year and the first one out of the pseudo-middle-class bubble I have found myself ensconced in. Having come too early to loiter in a pub without the intent to put down any brain cells with a sugar-laden beverage, I took a stroll around Deptford and explored with a lay sociologist’s eye the setting of Kate Tempest’s brilliantly disheartening novel, The Bricks that Built the Houses. I may have resided in places more or less grim, but as yet I have not lived in a place where the local high street has five betting shops huddling together next to their handy cousin, the pawnbroker’s.

It may be trite for a person who feels out of place everywhere to note how incongruous I felt in that street and how alienating the feeling was; but that was the effect of the place on me: a place left behind by the mainstream, local traders’ personal businesses in place of coffee factories; graffiti, tags, garbage, the otherness of the place’s commercial composition, the seedy, the beautiful and the beautifully seedy  were all inevitably interpreted in terms of deprivation. It engendered in me a sentiment of pretence and dissembled dissonance, perceived, churning and solidified in my oeasophagus, trachea, self-consciousness.

In my search for security, I recently dismissed the notion of displacement and moved into another borough in the north of the city. The move involved dealing with agencies bent on stripping and ripping off until the tenant has realised they have just signed a contract in blood and bony hand, their accounts have sunk into figures of an identically sanguine hue and their wrists have been tied tight behind their spineless back by an property investor living in a prosperous Far Far Away. The decision drove me into a flat in a dead-end road so secluded and soundless it cannot be overheard over the peace of the graveyard across the alley darker than the estate agent’s goodwill, a road whose rate of burglary stands at 80% higher than the average and whose disquieting quiet allows for no rest. It is a working-class dwelling at a middle-class price with two people in it trying to feel the security they’re renting while being too aware of its dearth. People of Deptford, at least, do not seek the illusion of stability, the faux-respectability and branded seal of approval in a life-style far beyond its worth. They live the reality with all its dreams, the realised, the unrealised and the abyssally bleak.

Autumnal Burnt Oak, 6am

I walked the length of the road from up at the junction to the station down the hill where the road caves in before rising again. The morning was inebriated with winter-crisp street lights refracting in a thin fog hovering between the two baleful rows of rundown terrace houses, & the shuttered store-fronts & rubbish strewn on the pavement & tarmac evoked a curfew in a B-list zombie flick. All were fled; the dross, debris, detritus – the evidence of a hasty flight – sat cold in a dewy coat, & the road was dead except for the languid motion of the apparently living. The dawn workforce was not plodding to work but rather prowling the pavements, straying, occasionally, off onto the litter-spotted ground beyond the kerb as if foraging for scraps like dawn-clad foxes sniffing the spoor of leaky refuse bags. Disorientated & displaced, I trailed a silent couple that broke its way through the haze of stagnant particles, following a purpose. […] This Burnt Oak was a postcard of the rare charm of the baited working-class posing against weary, dilapidated urbanity.