One better day in Soho Square

FICTION

The dodo died, Di died, Dodi died, Dando died, Doddy died, Dido worries the ears with her music, and my dog died. Amy died and Madness wrote a song. Kirsty died and I wrote a story, borrowing from Suggs & Co, and with poetic love in its polluted heart…

Soho Square“One Day I’ll be Waiting There. No Empty Bench in Soho Square” (Monochrome.me blog)

CAMDEN TOWN TO SOHO SQUARE

An old man in a three piece suit sits in the road, by Arlington House in Camden. The first cigarette is for contemplation, of the day before and the one to follow. He looks down at his shoes, flecked with the human remains of an October night.

He tossed his cigarette end through a drain cover, a portcullis to London’s intestines below. As he rose to his feet, a younger man walked almost alongside him, then boarded the same train at Camden Town, southbound on the Northern Line. At Euston, the young man wrote in a journal.

The old boy opposite doesn’t look so good. He’s wearing an LU uniform: Kinda hope he’s not gonna drive a train. Doesn’t matter to me, I’m off soon. He’s fallen asleep.

No-one knows I’m meeting her tonight. I don’t want to be a part of someone else’s Christmas, when at home I’m just a memorial, an empty chair at the dining table, with silver cutlery and a bone dry glass laid out for a ghost.

We’ve stopped just outside Warren Street. Above me, there life walks, and the city breathes, like a heavy smoker.

Old girl, new girl;
mother, daughter, Seven Sisters.
Roaming your many ways:
Shakespeare’s.

Saviour, black heart;
Angel, Bermondsey, Moorgate.
All that’s precious:
China.

Tears, laughter;
West End, Soho, Arnos Grove.
Where my heart is:
Push.

We’re on the move. I’ll get off at Tottenham Court Road and walk to Soho Square…

The old man was stirred by an on-train announcement:

Ladies and gentlemen, due to an incident, this train will terminate here. All change please. All change.”

He spotted the notebook, open on the seat opposite.

I’ll get off at Tottenham Court Road and I’ll walk to Soho Square, where I hope to see you. No empty bench, but my London, my life.

We met and we clicked,
like Bonnie and Clyde.
So similar:
Jekyll and Hyde.

We went out,
like Mickey and Mallory.
Why don’t you come on over,
Valerie.

We done stuff,
like Courtney and Kurt.
Laughed then slept:
Ernie and Bert.

Holding throats, not hands.
Necromancy.
Over there:
Sid and Nancy.

See you soon,

A man on the underground.

Emerging from beneath Tottenham Court Road, a young man blinked in the lights and mizzle, on the way to Soho Square. He sniffed, and snow fell in the back of his throat. He waited on the bench.

An old man in a three piece suit sits in the road, outside Arlington House in Camden. The first cigarette is for contemplation, of the day before and the one to follow. He looks down at his shoes, flecked with the human remains of an October night.

© Steve Laker, 2014.

Kirsty MacColl

Kirsty MacColl, 10.10.1959 – 18.12.2000

Anxiety and despair in 3 words

POETRY

A 45 RPM I wrote, which spins for about 14 seconds. It’s about stumbling back into life in Tonbridge after ten years in London, and all that’s meant over the last five years. I made it black and orange, as a kind of reflection of a one-way train ticket. Off the rails and onto the streets, but from where I live now, there’s a direct ThamesLink train line straight back to Catford…

Tonbridge Station Poem 6

If I’m eating my dessert with a teaspoon, please don’t give me a big spoon. I’m having a great time and I know what I’m doing.

The paradox of poetry

PROSE

I favour prose over poetry or verse, as I prefer to write free form. Although my poetry might be better than that of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings (or the Vogons), I don’t consider myself a poet first, but rather a writer who pens verse. Its an area I only dabble in, but I’ve accrued enough to encourage me to do more. Here’s one I made earlier.

IN A MOMENT…

In a moment3

Poetry for when the wheels fall off in a transitory phase

THE WRITER’S LIFE | POETRY

On the rare occasions that I write poetry, it tends to be spontaneous and remorseful. It’s true, that the fewer the words, the more difficult something can be to write. I’d agree that a short story can be more challenging than a novel, simply because of the word limit in which to tell a tale. Music lyrics and poetry are probably the most difficult to write well, because like stories, the more they tell, with the fewer words, the better they’ll generally be. That’s why spontaneous poems tend to turn out better: they have immediate feeling in them.

Bukowski Genius

Now I’m in a temporary transitory phase as a writer, from horror / sci-fi, to family history (my next book), and I’m toying with other romantic prose forms, including verse. I’ve been known to write poetry (not very well) in the past, but it’s not a discipline I proliferate in. All good writing is “show, don’t tell” but verse is too minimalist to be my main output. On the rare occasions I do pen not-sonnets, they’ll most likely be freeform, because I like being a non-conformist anyway, but I especially dislike restrictions.

Generally speaking then, I don’t like poetry (I haven’t asked it for an opinion on me). I especially despise the sort of twee poetry which a UK bank has been using in a recent nauseating TV ad campaign. But I respect the form, and the artists who create it. And I can’t deny I’ve written some of my own, and hardly dare say I’m tempted to write more.

I needed some John Hegley style poems for Cyrus Song, when Simon Fry challenged himself against Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, and I’m an adaptive writer myself, able to switch from sci-fi which is compared to Douglas Adams and the surrealists, to horror comparable to Lovecraft, Kafka, King and Poe (so say the reviews), and still be able to write an award-winning children’s story.

At the moment, my next short story is published in a couple of weeks, and another one a week after that. In the meantime, I’m switching to the family history book. Ever the restless soul, in any down time, I might look more into poetry, and maybe experiment, play, and throw away some more of my own.

I researched the work of Simon Fry, in my own book, which I wrote. There was this one, called ‘The difference between dogs and cars’:

You can’t get into a dog
and drive it
If a dog knocks you down,
you’ll probably survive it

Later, Simon writes some (slightly) deeper prose, including a lament, he thanks Paula Millstone Jennings for the inspiration, and hopes she’s still trying to get her message out there through her verse. And as I said at the start, my own forays into poetry have usually been romantic, and invariably in situations where I needed to express something quickly. And so it was with this one, when I was mixing salty tears with vodka, and mourning a lost love, and which I used in my short story, ‘Camden Town to Soho Square‘:

We met and we clicked
like Bonnie and Clyde
S
o similar
Jekyll and Hyde

We went out
like Mickey and Mallory
Why don’t you come on over
Valerie

We done stuff
like Courtney and Kurt
Laughed then slept
Ernie and Bert

Holding throats, not hands
Necromancy
Over there
Sid and Nancy

And as I look back further, I realise I wrote a poem as a request for a friend, for his mum’s funeral. And it was used, so already my poetry’s out there, among the dead. I doubt I’ll ever release a collection (If I do, ‘Poetry for when the wheels fall off’ might be a good title), but a short lament I penned last night might do well in the greetings card market:

A flickering room
Painted blue
The dark flame dies
My candle gone
Lost in music
Dedicated to you

So maybe not everyone will welcome it as a sentiment, but someone might find it useful (it’s been called evocative by another writer, and “a really good example of how you can write something very short and simple that is moving”, by another). Or I’ll more likely return to sci-fi and horror, while still writing the family history book, ever mindful that surrealist slips between the two probably wouldn’t work.

Like Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, I’ll just keep trying to get my words out there.

One better day, no empty bench in Soho Square

DEAR DIARY | FLASH FICTION

Like most people, I’ve lost many: family, friends, influences, inspirations, idols and muses. Outside of my inner circle, the most devastating loss for me was when the Starman left. But I know he’s out there, and still around; I just know.

Two more who hit me deeply, were Amy Winehouse and Kirsty MacColl, in their tragic and traumatic final acts. Before social anxiety became my unwanted chaperone, I would visit Kirsty’s memorial bench in Soho Square, where others gather every year to mark her birthday. I shan’t be there tomorrow, but it was with these things in mind that I wrote the story below, at a time when I myself was lonely and destitute, and when the cold menace of Christmas approaching was the loneliest time of all.

SohoSq

CAMDEN TOWN TO SOHO SQUARE

An old man in a three piece suit sits in the road, by Arlington House in Camden. The first cigarette is for contemplation, of the day before and the one to follow. He looks down at his shoes, flecked with the human remains of an October night.

He tossed his cigarette end through a drain cover, a portcullis to London’s intestines below. As he rose to his feet, a younger man walked almost alongside him, then boarded the same train at Camden Town, southbound on the Northern Line. At Euston, the young man wrote in a journal.

The old boy opposite doesn’t look so good. He’s wearing an LU uniform: Kinda hope he’s not gonna drive a train. Doesn’t matter to me, I’m off soon. He’s fallen asleep.

No-one knows I’m meeting her tonight. I don’t want to be a part of someone else’s Christmas, when at home I’m just a memorial, an empty chair at the dining table, with silver cutlery and a bone dry glass laid out for a ghost.

We’ve stopped just outside Warren Street. Above me, there life walks, and the city breathes, like a heavy smoker.

Old girl, new girl;
mother, daughter, Seven Sisters.
Roaming your many ways:
Shakespeare’s.

Saviour, black heart;
Angel, Bermondsey, Moorgate.
All that’s precious:
China.

Tears, laughter;
West End, Soho, Arnos Grove.
Where my heart is:
Push.

We’re on the move. I’ll get off at Tottenham Court Road and walk to Soho Square…

The old man was stirred by an on-train announcement:

“Ladies and gentlemen, due to an incident, this train will terminate here. All change please. All change.”

He spotted the notebook, open on the seat opposite.

…I’ll get off at Tottenham Court Road and I’ll walk to Soho Square, where I hope to see you. No empty bench, but my London, my life.

We met and we clicked,
like Bonnie and Clyde.
So similar:
Jekyll and Hyde.

We went out,
like Mickey and Mallory.
Why don’t you come on over,
Valerie.

We done stuff,
like Courtney and Kurt.
Laughed then slept:
Ernie and Bert.

Holding throats, not hands.
Necromancy.
Over there:
Sid and Nancy.

See you soon,

A man on the underground.

Emerging from beneath Tottenham Court Road, a young man blinked in the lights and mizzle, on the way to Soho Square. He sniffed, and snow fell in the back of his throat. He waited on the bench.

An old man in a three piece suit sits in the road, outside Arlington House in Camden. The first cigarette is for contemplation, of the day before and the one to follow. He looks down at his shoes, flecked with the human remains of an October night.

© Steve Laker, 2014.