Vows

This is about being risqué with your loved one in
places one absolutely must risk being risqué.

.
.
…….

In that bold tombed statement
that carved out cathedral of quiet
you passed me a vocal note
barely under the breath of the faithful
Just out of reach of the virtuous
In the shadow of the snake
Lips pulsing concealed conflagrations
to my ear, agape with reverence.
And though I’d said farewell
to spells so long ago
(In many ways I’d never said hello)
I felt your step too far,
echoing the ache of all within.
And as I
untied
the briefest look,
you eyed an equal look
and shot that note
with such intent
and such a solemn vow,
that all your violent ardour pressed
against my soundless shout
and deafened the song of their praise
and the silence of doubt.

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They Fall Quietly Now

In a cafe,
built sometime after bombs
had burrowed the echo
of cracked open cries
into middle of the night 
memories,

two gentlemen 
I often listen to,

had fallen quiet now.
They had long
since decamped.
Wisdom turned
to silence on soil
boot hacked
for reasons best left
to those few
who know of such things.
Tired of the page turn. Dog
tired. Bone
tired.
Tired on
tired on
tired.
Weary words, heaped,
clambering
for breath.
Mud soaked children
forced to shed the skin
of youth.
Buried shells,
arms in arms,
Twisted cud of
bone and metal,
barbed wired into memory
and two quiet men.

Lighthouse

The imprint your body made
and your reading glasses
left where you laid them down
and the space
I should have been in
listening more

for the hidden folds in your stories

and your hands

slow and childlike

palm prints, even now

where you left them.

The day I came home

Your hands
were so clumsy
and gentle
I heard you
but did not respond
until a day

that stays with me

a beautifully cruel day

you there, in the kitchen

soul crucified

and the pictures turned,

my hand slowly coming to rest 

on your shoulder

calming you I hoped

and then you sat down 

and I whispered to you 

my hand on your shoulder still,

and I saw you,
as if for the first time

through my veil,
my mist of me,

I listened to your silence

and swallowed my throat

and grew up in that moment

in the fix of your desolate gaze

and I stopped wanting to be seen

and just held you.

Spill

Today I cooked dinner
I took time
I invested myself
I was careful with measurements
And the placement of celery
And the garlic, and the peppers
Deep red and the carrots
Brushed with honey
And the juice reduced to
Infinite bliss
like a first kiss
On and on
And the wine was dark
And as husky as Lauren Bacall
And the glass was next to the plate
On the tray and it all
looked good enough to devour
And I walked with that in mind
Toward the living room
And caught my sleeve
On the brake lever of my bike
And watched the wine glass
Spill itself almost empty
Onto my food
And I shouted ‘Fuck’
As loud as gossip could stand
As the juice was reduced
to a laughing stock.

This truly happened.

I’m going to share a couple of letters I sent a while a back, one to a dear friend, Steve Swallow, and one to Channel 4. 

I shared these letters on FB many moons ago but I came across them recently in my archives and thought they might bring a smile to those that didn’t catch them then. 

The first is a letter I wrote to Steve Swallow. It’s absolutely true ………………………. the 2nd is a reply to Channel 4 – Read their letter to me first then read my reply. My time in the car trade came as news to me, but I was delighted to find out I was part of a warm family of car traders. What a great place to start!! 

Anyway, if you’re thumbing through ‘Wilful blindness in the age of Buffoonery’ or some such airport fodder, rest a while in these trinky blatherings.

Swallow,

So i’m up in court for a possible ban driving wise.
I wait 5 hours to be seen, surrounded by loons and girls that spit good.
So I goes into the courtroom and I stand there while a catalogue of mini motoring misdemeanours is aired by a sweaty woman who’s important but not the bird with the loudest chirp on the block.
That particular turkey looks mean.  Flanked by 2 stern looking chicks that refuse sympathy on a regular basis.  I slowly roast.
‘You’re facing a mandatory 12 point ban’  says the clerk.
‘Yes’ I say in my most pathetic voice trying to look ashamed.
‘You plead guilty?’
‘Yes’.
‘You want to say why the court shouldn’t ban you from driving?’
‘Yes please’ .
‘Ok take this blah blah in your right blah and say after me…..’
‘ I swear on the thing that i’ll tell the truth and nothing but the thing so help me thing’.
So I tell them.
‘I need the car because……………. and it would cause hardship……………
up and down the country………….. too much heavy gear………….so public transport no use……… 2 kids that would starve or worse end up on telly…………. etc etc…..’
‘And you are a session musician?’  says Judge turkey.
‘Of a kind’  says I.
‘You play in Bands?’
‘Yes Sir’
‘Anyone we know?’  Says the less mean looking Judge.
‘Well I’m in a band with Steve Swallow
‘Ah’ he says,  “Stan Getz‘…….
15 mins later, after deliberations,  he says….. ‘Right,  we won’t ban you this time.  You get 3 points and a £60 fine’.
I nodded like a dog.
So I thought i’d better thank ya for playing with Stan Getz and getting me a reduced sentence.
Best,
Lug.
.
.
………
This is the letter I received from channel 4.
.
Subject: Channel 4 documentary series – we’d like to hear from you!
Hi there,
I hope you don’t mind me contacting you out of the blue. My name is Katy and I work for Twofour, a BAFTA winning television production company based in London. We are currently developing an exciting new documentary series for Channel 4 about family life across Britain in 2012. We’re looking to find a small number of warm and outgoing families from all over the UK that will represent British family life in all its fabulous forms.
I wanted to drop you a line, as we’re keen to speak to people who work in all sorts of professions and thought the car trade might be a good place to start. Our search for families is very broad, but we are looking for a family with at least two teenage children still living at home- other than that, absolutely anything and everyone goes!
We are hoping to make a landmark series about what life is really like for British families in this iconic year and are looking for six vibrant families from different backgrounds and regions to film with throughout this summer. At this stage, we would like to speak to as many people as possible – all our conversations are confidential and do not commit people to be involved.
If you are a dynamic, engaging family, then we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch for more information and an informal chat. You can simply reply to this email or call any member of our team on 0207 xxxxxxxx
Alternatively, if you could help us in any way by forwarding on the flyer, which I have attached, to people you know or via Facebook, that would great.
We may also base our series on one specific street, looking at the lives of several families living as neighbours – do you live on the perfect street with lots of characterful families? Please do get in touch if so.
Thanks again for your help and I look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes
.
And my reply,
.
Hi there Katy,
Do we really have to be ‘Warm’?  I mean, we hug at funerals and stuff but would you consider that warm?
I’m a Single Dad with 2 amazing children of 21 and 17.  My daughter actually asked to go on Holiday with me, which brings me Joy.
We are occasionally ‘dynamic’ in that we watch eggs boiling together and point at grass that’s a bit less green than other grass that is more green
than the grass we are pointing at.  We also like the word ‘vole’ and use it regularly as a ‘family’ if you’ll allow me to use that splendid, if somewhat,
abused term.
We are ‘vibrant’ and ‘engaging’ and we run around in a tight circle on odd occasions with absolutely no music needed to gee us up. Can you believe that?  It’s totally true.
Sometimes I might throw a crisp (though I don’t allow many into the house) across the dinner table and we all laugh.
‘Don’t take the fun out of funeral’ is our family motto.
Our street is ‘perfect’.  Some people have said things like ‘your street is even better than real life’.  I sobbed with almost real emotion that went deep into my mind.
I remember one time ‘Old Granny Churlish’ put her own tights on her head and pretended to rob the kids one xmas morning, as they tried to get passed her alsation dog ‘Melt’.
We laughed and laughed when ‘Melt’ sank his teeth into a box that contained a ‘babyliss pro’ hairdryer.  The look on that dog’s face!!  Perfect.
Would you like to ‘hear from’ me?
Bestest,
Mike Walker

Saying goodbye.

Today, I say goodbye to my old Saab car.  I’ve had it 10 years and it’s like an old friend. I’m getting a new Skoda Estate and it’s posh and I’m scared and will I be able to drive it in a straight line and not scrape it down the sides of the houses that line either side of the main road? It’s fancy. It’s got a telly and I can see your face on it if you Facetime me and that might be disconcerting and I might end up in Melton Mowbray when I was driving to Kendal.

I had to do it. Turning right the other day, I went to put the Saab into 2nd and the gears came out of their housing and I was holding them up in the air, looking at traffic from either side coming toward me. I said goodbye to her, in that moment. It is sad, like saying goodbye to my old dog, Wes. But somehow, I feel a little more detached. Dogs stay with you if you’ve loved them….I’ve loved this car, but not in the same way, and the sadness is, in part, tinged with the relief of letting go of something that needed to move on; to come to rest. It feels right also, as I embark on things new, of which I’ll write more, at a later date.

When I pick up this delicious thing, I’ve factored in an afternoon of getting to know it a little more intimately. This car has it’s own soup dispenser and it actually makes baby mittens just in case you need them and it has a compartment where you keep directions on kissing.

When you’re ready to let go it’s often the saddest moment of all because of the uneasy embrace of liberation,  and fading memories. I remember a friend telling me about his dog needing to move on and walking into the forest one day, out of sight of everyone. My friend went after him, found him, and brought him back. That dog gave my friend another two weeks, then went out and made sure, this time, he would not be found.

I’m picking up my Daughter from college, after my afternoon dalliance with my new partner of the road, and on Saturday I’ll pick up my Son and do lunch. Some things, you’ll never let go of, no matter the distance.

Taking Offence

Tolerating profanity.

Profanity seems to leak into everything nowadays.

But does it, really?

Abso-f…ing-lutely!!

On occasion, with the wind at my back, in a situation that warrants it, I have been known to use ‘colourful language’. Warranted situations comprise of things like, burning toast -watching an underdog come through to win in the last seconds – waking up to Mussolini type dudes receiving the keys to the Whitehouse – receiving a tax bill that will leave me destitute – receiving a tax rebate – being stuck behind a slug on the motorway  when I’m in a hurry – being hounded by someone in a hurry with a snazzier car than mine, on the motorway – being diverted at various points on a 1am journey home, on the motorway – other things on the motorway – and more besides.

I have a reasonable vocabulary – I know words like ‘elegiac’ and  ‘vapid’ and ‘saturnine’ and ‘sagacious’ and ‘flapdoodle’ and ‘wimple’, but apart from ‘flapdoodle’ I wouldn’t use these words very often. We do this all the time. We have stockpiles of stuff we never use. When, for instance, did you last use the word ‘refrigerator’? You know exactly what it is, but you always use the shorter stem – fridge. This is like my sock drawer. Socks, long past seeing a foot, somehow cling to the bottom of the drawer or hide under other, more plump, hated, used socks. I shouldn’t use the plural. Each, of course, is a widowed sock, eyeing up other sock widows for possible fraternising when I close sock-shop for the day, as I peel on a smug pair of walking socks that are a gift to the foot, a caress of wool, a kiss of cotton, or a combinatory canoodle of both. Forgive me, as usual, I digress.

Words. Some words just don’t get it done.  If I whack my thumb with a hammer I’m not going to scream ‘deep folly’ or ‘curses’ or ‘confound it!!!’. I need to spit out a word that salve’s the savage in me – a word that gets to the point – that doesn’t fuck around. I need profanity at such trying times – I need to be tested and I need to fail, miserably; to hug the loser in me.

Embracing terms of endearment.

When I was younger, I was surrounded by women. Mother, Sisters, Aunties, and I was their ‘love’ or ‘dear’ or ‘darling’ or ‘swine’ or ‘little get’ or ‘bloody melt’ (a term of anti-endearment, used by my Mother on many occasions, and one, even though I haven’t the slightest idea of meaning or derivation, I thoroughly deserved).  The point is, I picked up a lot of the gentler terms – ‘love’, ‘darling’ etc, and I have used these all my life for both men and women. Most don’t mind, others get pissed off or feel patronised. And not just pissed off. I’m talking anger here. And it’s a ‘you have no right to question it, there’s no need for debate, shut the fuck up’ type anger.

Well, I can’t do that. That particular stance is creeping slowly into ‘conversation’, not just to burn the bridges of connection (dear, love, darling, petal ) but with a view to closing down free debate and suppressing any dissenting opinion, which is a far more serious threat to the kind of egalitarian society that most of us espouse. This seems to be happening more and more in places where speakers are made to feel that their opinion is not worth the hearing, and, furthermore, that they will actually be stopped, physically in some cases, from expressing it. That, I’m afraid, teeters on the fascistic. The pile, the pyre, in fact, of books that differ in opinions from yours, will be next. A new testament to an old testament. Do not have a voice. ‘There is only one voice. His. And by default, mine. Do you hear me?’ Do I fuck. Language, however archaic, has to be celebrated, surely? If I see another eye-roll at some completely innocuous use of ‘love’ or ‘dear’ or ‘petal’ etc offered as a mini hug or a simple offer of understanding by some guy or gal in their twilight years, I’m going to eye-roll the eye-roll. I understand how the patronising use of ‘calm down, dear, take a chill pill’ is annoying and dismissive, but that has different intent. That has ‘shut up, I don’t want to hear you’ written all over it.

Listening to diverse opinions.

 Shut up, I don’t want to hear you.

This mindset closes down channels of debate. It prevents the possible unveiling of an idea that might have, hitherto, been hidden to us – and the minority who use tactics like insults, misrepresentation, etc (you’re a bigot, a racist, a sexist, patronising,  insert slur, ad infinitum) for even asking such questions as ‘what’s your country of origin?’ or saying things like ‘I love your accent’ or even ‘can I help you with that?’, often leave the majority confused, or worse, frightened to express an opinion that could possibly be deemed offensive, however slight that opinion may be, and too often a person can be demonised for a totally unintended offence. The problem is, an offence taken claims the moral high ground over an offence unintended, and the internet is the perfect place to turn a misunderstood comment into the work of a crazed bigot intent on victimising or pressing their fascistic agenda. ‘Did I just hear you say, Hitler was an artist?’…. ‘No, you didn’t’…. ‘I rather think I did…. Hey, you know what she just said?’….  ‘She said WHAT!!?… She said Hitler had a point!!!??? … OMG!!! ‘…..  Now, I agree, some folk (is ‘folk’ ok?) have a bigoted, racist, sexist, misogynistic agenda and have no intention of engaging in dialogue  or parts thereof. But, for the sake of armchair warriors everywhere, for the sake of dissenting voices, for the sake of weeding out the banality of opinions that say a woman’s place is in the home, or that deny the Holocaust, or use dogmatic rhetoric to bully  us into a frightened silence, for the sake of all that, let’s encourage dialogue – divergent opinions – cognitive conflict – and who knows, when we advocate discourse, especially with those we disagree with or find obnoxious or even incendiary, we could influence an opinion or two, and/or in turn, have our own long held beliefs brought into a new perspective.

It can be difficult for those who are accepted into a baying mob, slapped silly with self righteousness, to offer any dissenting opinion. We accepted you, we’re family now and your voice must melt into the whole, it must mouth the words of the one god, created for your safe passage through a tough life strewn with sullied opinions that we must not tolerate at any cost. And the deal is, we get to say what those vile opinions are. In the words of Upton Sinclair “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” But here, it isn’t a salary – It’s the approval of a group. And that horrid opiate, individual bias, can mutate into collective bias, and if you get sucked in to the vortex of fixed opinion, you are doomed to call someone out for just wanting to hear a ‘controversial’ stance on gender, race, class etc etc. Of course, everyone is biased, but me. 

I’m outraged over the outrage about the outrage.                                      

‘I hate everything she stands for. Her book should be banned’. …..  ‘Have you read the book?’…..    ‘No. I don’t need to’. ……   Seriously?  You punish someone based on a whim? You take a negative view, assume, judge on those assumptions, and condemn, on hearsay?

I read somewhere that a home for the elderly had been reported because the staff referred to the residents as ‘love’, ‘dear’ etc etc. Linguistic tyranny? Some thought so. But I wouldn’t want to condemn on hearsay. I want to find out more. I don’t want to quote-mine articles that confirm my stance. I want to challenge my own assumptions. I do not want to grab for epithets on a whim. It’s too easy. It’s just so easy to look for the people that we know will confirm our long held positions, and all shout ‘He’s a douche’, ‘She’s another bad word’. 

We can choose to take something someone says in the worst possible way, giving it an intent that was never intended, (check out the reaction to your being offended, as a hint – it’ll be startled confusion) or we can choose to take it with a light heart and a smile. 

I do wonder if we can learn to accept and ultimately welcome the possible unease of exchanging viewpoints with people whose ideas differ from our own, even to the point of offending us, and with enough exposure to such views, maybe cultivate sobriety and elegance, creating a place that is not so fearful of expressing age old terms of endearment, a place that isn’t so ready to water down vibrant colours, one that promotes quality listening, that doesn’t make it fashionable to shout down a perceived dissenting voice, that doesn’t demonise or scoff at alternate views, but shows them a consideration and compassion that gives some worth to the oft used term  ‘celebrating our differences’.

And, if ‘celebrate’ is too difficult a stretch, then at least we can strive to understand those differences. Sometimes my own truths are better seen through the rantings of others; as are my misconceptions.                      

This post has a pay-off – Honestly.

‘I couldn’t believe this 7 month old baby could play the drums even better than the 8 month old baby I saw playing for my 3rd favourite band of all time ‘Hard of Hearing Duck’ at the Bowl of Soup in Lollywood’.

jamesfinlaysonpublicityheadshot

A meme is an initial idea that gets passed around from mind to mind, causing a chain of events that eventually turns into ‘a thing’. It’s an abbreviation of ‘memetic’ which is ’emetic’ with a letter missing and, in many cases, means the same thing.

Guilt memes. ‘I think I know the four or five friends who’ll copy and paste this, (don’t share it, copy and paste it)’.

‘You won’t believe what happens next’ memes.

‘Not finishing off the….’  memes.

‘You’re too stupid to do this’ memes.

These are click bait tactics. They attempt to manipulate you. ‘You won’t believe’ hooks often leave you scratching your head and wondering what it was you were not going to believe. Click on a fish, only to watch it, (gasp!), swimming. Click on yet another parrot who’s owner has ‘unbelievably’ taught it to say ‘fuck you’. Click on an old man giving a homeless woman  an eccles cake, (ok, this could be worth seeing but unbelievable it ain’t).  And the ‘Nobody can do this’ meme that everyone can do. How strange is it to see thousands of replies, all saying the same thing? – ’46’. It’s a desperate world and here’s the thing; It isn’t. Confused?  Well, read on. And that, is the point. And it’s a point, all too often, made at any cost.

Which brings me to my point. This post has a pay-off, and if you’re still reading you’ll want to thank me for helping you sleep a little easier tonight.

Ok. Congleton.

Congleton is a town in Cheshire in the North of England. The Bible is, allegedly, the word of God. In the 1600’s, God costs and if you want ‘the word’ you better have the means to pay for it. The problem, is that bears also cost and the town needed a new, much more quarrelsome beast to attract the crowds to the infamous, but getting less infamous by the minute, bear-baiting contests.  There’s money in the coffers for the apparent-word-of-God. So, they used the apparent-word-of-God-money and bought a badass bear and Congleton became known as Beartown.

Ok. King Kong.

I first saw the 1933 classic at the Electric Cinema in Beartown. In the foyer, a guy was displaying an original poster of the famous Kong shot at the top of the Empire State Building that his Father had bought when the film was initially released.

Ok. Ink.

Whilst looking at this poster, someone had inadvertently left a fountain pen that decided  at that very moment to leak onto the poster, which was worth, or used to be before this calamity, a small fortune.

Ok. Think on.

Here is the point. And the pay off.

When you go to bed tonight, before you drift into sleep, think on this;

Think on ink on King Kong in Congleton.

Say it a few times. Now, try and get to sleep. Good luck.

Doh!

james_finlayson___way_out_west