January 29th 2013 (Lyme Regis)
The dreadful crow and his beau downstairs continue their miserable existence and in doing so they make my life miserable, too. The endless rows over pennies, the irrational paranoia, the poor music choices, the language, even the laughter rankles. I wouldn’t mind the language, I rather admire a person who can swear well. What I find distasteful is the use of foul language as a substitute for punctuation. Recently, having set himself up as some kind of drug dealer, there is also the constant coming and going of the local lowlife. These visits, of course, are accompanied by much posturing and, for some reason that is quite humorous for short periods, the faux gangsta chat. This is particularly grisly as it is some kind of assumed south London yard speak, but channelled through a Bristolian caw! Oh, for a sparrow or fuck it a fucking parrot!
January 29th 2014 (a National Express coach)
Somewhere between Harrogate and Leeds an abandoned petrol garage flashes by the window. Where there were once pumps there are now only stumps. The forecourt is buckled concrete, veined with cracks from which grey weeds gasp. All the windows are smashed and an anarchy sign and the name EDDIE has been spray painted in silver above the doorway. The nearest town must be ten miles in any direction from here. A few minutes later we pass three terraced houses with nothing else around them but miles of mud and motorway. Who, as Loyd Grossman would ask on Through The Keyhole, would live in a house like this? Eddie, perhaps? I decide definitely Eddie. Eddie could be 15 or 51! I understand Eddie.
Leeds. Several wispy beards board the bus: scruffy students with oily, thin faces. They stare with their best mad eyes into the middle distance as they trundle down the aisle in grubby-grey sweats. No one gets off at Leeds and this makes a lot of sense.
Nearing Wakefield one particularly pasty looking lad sat in the opposite aisle begins moaning loudly, his legs twitching. He clutches his greasy face and rocks back and forth banging his head on the back of the seat in front of him. After a while, the woman in the seat (wearing an extraordinary hat, replete with coloured feathers) turns around and asks him, “Are you unwell?” “Travel sick,” he says. She suggests that he pinches his nose and take “quick, deep breaths” as a remedy. He stops rocking and says, “How can I do that if I’m pinching my nose?” He probably dreams of achieving a 2:2 (in some crock degree – possibly Communications or Hotel Management), but the chances of him attaining these giddy heights is, to me, doubtful).
Wakefield. No one gets off. No one gets on. The coach fills with the faint smell of urine. Or possibly a warm service station cheese and lettuce sandwich.
January 29th 2021 (Penn Beacon)
Over the years I have been under the impression that I should have a desk to write at; a desk suggests ‘serious writing’. Oh, I’ve had desks. There’s a great little space, a cubby hole kind of space, in the kitchen and I’ve decorated it with photographs and old flyers and postcards and such, but I use it as my studio – it is jammed with paints and brushes and a shoebox full of cut-outs – and I know that if I were to clear all this stuff away and sit there (I have a good chair that works well there – hello Humbird) and set up my Mac and my notebooks and whatnot, then I would never swap it all back again. In a similar way I have another ‘studio’ in a cupboard under the stairs. It is a tiny and cramped cheese wedge of a space; this is the recording studio. It is lit with a storm lantern that hangs, if I hunch, over my head. I developed this ‘broom cupboard studio’ idea when I lived south of the river. I like it as it offers me a pretence of privacy – I hate the idea of my neighbours hearing me strum and, more so, singing (how this helps, I’m not sure). A broom cupboard is a great acoustic and private space – I highly recommend it, just make sure you can get out again. Over this last year I have discovered that I like to write in bed. This would have been anathema and unthinkable once upon a time to me, but actually, with all this spare time, it is the perfect cold weather work space. My desk is a double duvet – quite the largest desk I ever had. All I need now is a teasmade like nan used to have in the 1970s.
The clouds are Payne’s grey, headache inducing.