January 11th 2005 (Croydon)
More flowers in the alley between George St. and Park St. Condolence for a kid killed by a bouncer at Flares: Goodbye m8. God Bless. Gutted. RIP.
The bouncer was charged with murder on January 1st – what a way to start the year! The news doesn’t surprise. I witnessed from a bus one night, a smudge of light, twisting neck, the security – mic’d up, moody meatheads – pushing pissed, scrawny types off the pavement and onto their backs in the street. Quite disgusting. But why anyone would want to go into this piss hole – with its slippery dance floor, flooded loo, high-sheen pop, pissy lager – is beyond me. It’s the late night go-to for trainee hairdressers and Topman assistants. The Ladbrokes jockeys ride the machines there. The bar staff are wired. Wide boys pace the pool table, making sure to bang things on the walnut dash. Uncles face the dancers. Cuff sniffers and saucy divorcees, sixth formers with semis; these kind of gypsies, tramps and thieves.
Curiously enough (handsome is as handsome does) the midweek post reports the bouncer’s name (now, you’ll like this you will) as Mr. Peter Saint. I just love God’s sense of humour. So dark, so blue. So dark blue… blah blah blah.
“We don’t just let any Tom, Dick or ‘arry in ‘ere, mate.”
January 11th 2016 (South Shields)
It is still dark. J is in the shower. LBC burbles. I’m making breakfast. Suddenly the name Bowie pops out the speaker. It catches my ear in the first instant because eternal nit that he is, DJ N. Ferrari, mispronounces it. Blah blah blah. I bend an ear. But then something goes wrong. “Unconfirmed reports…”
And, unbelievably, it is true.
I sit on the counter, quite numb. J pops her damp head round the door and, in her delightfully strange way, says, “Why are you sitting down?”
“Bowie’s dead. These three words brought together thus and spoke out will be certain juju to her. But it is done. Shapes shift imperceptibly and – “Shit,” says J, blows a kiss and goes to work.
The Alderman for coffee. Text from mum: <have you heard? 😦 x>
And still, it is true.
I take a bus to Sunderland (perhaps I am in shock?). It is raining and the buses and the streets are busy. It strikes me odd that everyone acts so normally. Sunderland smells of burnt bins. I pick another bus and get off at Penshaw. Two pubs (The Grey Horse and The Monument), a strip of terraced houses, a Chinese takeaway, a newspaper shop. I cross the road, climb a stile and head up the path through the woods. Two women are walking a clutch of muddy dogs. “Penshaw monument?” She looks at my footwear. “Follow on up the hill, past the church, keep to the right. Up through the woods.” Footwear again. “You’ll know you’re on the right path because of the mud.”
The wood is shrouded in mist. Plush raindrops fruit the winter trees. I step from the path and piss in a field near a brimming bathtub. It is capped in transparencies of ice. A small terrier appears at my ankle, busies his snout and disappears, yapping twice. A whiskered man comes bowling down the path in the treeline. As he passes, he glances at me and says, “Her bark is much worse than her bite.” He says nothing about pissing in a field near a bathtub.
Suddenly, the summit. Penshaw monument is sheathed in blue mist. It is a Victorian folly; a faux Greek temple. Sixteen columns, no roof, only blue blanket. Names and dates and hearts. Runes. Scratches. Graffiti. One reads ‘NG72’. I look for meaning in this.
BBC6 pays tribute all evening. M. Lard, at times, is dumbfounded. I dance in the kitchen. J pops her damp head round the door and, in her delightfully strange way, says, “You better sit down.”
January 11th 2021 A Space Oddity (Whitley Bay)
HAL: Winter drawers on.
Dave: Bringing, beyond the horrible blah blah blah, its own special dark blue blanket. I wear it sometimes, like a viking might, around the peaceful, cosy flat. I walk barefooted. I sleep in hand knitted socks. I craft a regime. The details begin to gleam and I am bound to edit.
Drawing the blinds, washing the cup, wiping the kitchen top. Learning the knack of the kitchen tap, the knack to hold back (the drip) (the drip) the drip I’d never heard before the dark blue blanket drew me in *
*stage direction: Dave draws blanket around himself, glances at the allusion, at the monitor.
I was listening to the rain tap tap tap and when I opened my eyes again, I was speechless, the window was blue again!
dark blue; ignition
blue, radox blue. blanket blue
blue. uh-huh. but dark
Cosy. Bulb glow. Tea lights, blinking. The porridge cooling on the sill. A nice cup of tea – Yorkshire? Camomile? Green? The duvet, the central heating. This blue blanket I bought in Berlin.
It is the keyboard tap tap tap.
The neighbour scrapes a chair.
The porridge cooling on the sill,
heavy with honey, hot milk
and blueberries –
Oh? No blueberries? The fridge is almost bare. A wink of milk, (for one, maybe two) A palm of margarine, a wrist of asparagus. A tongue of marmalade, a nose of cheese. A toe of weed, a sole of ham, a breast of apricot jelly. An ankle of broccoli. A lip of tomato purée. A banana. No blueberries.
The time is now.
‘”Open the pod bay door, please, HAL.”‘
Grocery shopping at dawn, like the vikings would have done, offers a little risk of bumping into human beings, but not as much as, for instance, just before lunch, or early evening – so, do be careful. Dawn is also dark blue. Blue is good, but dark blue is better. I’m not so bothered about the plague (now, that’s enough of that talk), I fear more the prospect of banter.
The wind comes off the north sea in great feral lunges and feints. And the waves SLAP SLAP SLAP the face of the town. I walk the slow curve towards Cullercoats. No people, few cars. I can see the DFDS ferry. I recognise its shape. It is way out in the bay. It is heading to North Shields. I think about the South Shields times. I shudder. When I reach Brown’s Bay, S and A’s Collie appears out of nowhere, big grin all over his face. He comes over, vibrant and sprightly. “Hello, Ziggy!”
I am surprised at my own voice.
Spoon honey over porridge with hot milk and blueberries and put on the sill for one minute to cool.
(gently does it. gently)
I realise suddenly that Hello Ziggy, were the first two words to come out of my mouth in three days. I see at once the magic in this. I smile and say it again in the kitchen. There is a neatly written note trapped with a magnet on the fridge door that wasn’t there earlier. It is from the old blueberries. It reads
Dave, it ain’t so cool anymore, man. We gonna blue this place. it‘s been ace. Thanks berry much.
Some berries think they’re so funny, don’t they. No kiss, no nothing. Leaves me blue, HAL. Dark blue.