Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Jerez Flamenco

Sharp beggars who shake their pesetas to shame you
And children who chase through the afternoon’s litter
See high-heeled young chicas with phones on their earlobes
The splash of the water below the stone general
In Jerez the home of Flamenco and Sherry

We sit in the cool of abandoned bodega
And sip at the table of Pepe Gonzalez
Outside in the night air the festival ferments
The bright lights are neon, the costumes all shimmer
And everything here in this world is inverted

The houselights are dimming, the stage lights are dawning
The flamenco baby, his guitar awaking
His face is a mirror, his fingers are slender
He trills the cool waters, he plucks a small fish
And his thoughts hit the air with a cascading thunder

A young man arrives like a bull in a temple
He paces the ground and his eyes are the soldiers
Who seek out the peasants who helped the stone general
He tells of his love for a shy senorita
She hides in the ruins of Alcalzar fortress

And teases and wails that her village is ruined
Her brothers are dead and her father is dying
He begs her to love him, she says that she cannot
Her heart is the dust that blows cold from the mountains

She raises her hand and she turns to the shadows
And spins to the sunlight and treads the grapes under
Her heels are the echoes of vultures and buzzards
Of gunshot and cannon. Reflects in the eyes
The bright fire of the young man, her fingers catch bullets

The dance of flamenco, as wild as the wind
And as crazy as fire and her heart is a mouse
In the vaults where the barrels of sherry are resting
Like graves in the darkness of Pepe Gonzalez

The youth with the guitar, his fingers spark lightning
The lovesick young man is dancing El Torro
He gives his life gladly, his heart and his soul
But the heartbroken girl succumbs to his passion
Too late.

As the doves on the general of stone
Fly up to the moon that is brimming with blood
And the stars spell flamenco
The click and the clack of the rhythms and circles
And crazy inversions
Flamenco my lover
Flamenco my saviour


Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Stormy Afternoon

The thin light
beneath the jungle canopy
The mud where pond worms
swim and squirm
A dusty tomb
The hole in the clay bank
and the badger's tail at dusk

Tales of deception,
revenge and lust
Impenetrable shadows
as you walk across the midnight park
I hope you like my poem
even though it is a little dark


The sallow-faced man
stood in the doorway
a knife in hand
watching me

I looked past him
aware of his scrutiny

I could see the naked flesh
hanging from steel hooks
in the neon light

I said,
I think I’ll plump
for the sausages

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

On Time

Five o-clock
In these Italian hills
The birds hide in the mountain oaks
A cuckoo calls high upon
A distant wire
We reach for the binoculars
But the rogue’s gone
Hans says
Now we’ll have to wait an hour
For another

Facial Tear

I failed to catch
The spinning bottle
Of sun-tan oil properly
And now have
A tiny red moustache

This will produce
A small scar
Not unlike Harry Potter’s
After his confrontation with

Three Star Luxury

It’s half term in the UK and so no school visits. A whole week of writing. (Hurrah!) The good news is I’ve finally worked out how to revise “The Story” (see earlier blogs) to make it (hopefully) work.
I was at a school in Wakefield, Yorkshire on Friday. I stayed in a very interesting hotel. The lift was covered in pine tongue and groove, fitted by some drunk TV presenters on a makeover show I think. The neon light was jammed in place with a strip of wood. And the little metal plate that tells you the floor you’re on had been stuck directly on to the wood over the door. It wasn’t connected to anything.
There was also no remote control for the TV. But the TV didn’t have the programmes that the brochure claimed anyway, so that was okay. No Sky Sports channels. I asked the guy at reception for a new remote and he said, Well, some of the rooms don’t have them because people take them. That’s okay then.
The soap dispenser came off in my hand. How I chuckled. Maybe I’d strayed into a cartoon hotel.

It was so shabby and dowdy. I didn’t eat in the dark and gloomy restaurant. I found a very nice Italian restaurant instead. But I did eat my breakfast there.
After breakfast I was waiting for the lift to come – I’d only been waiting about five minutes – when I fell into conversation with a couple. He said, I think we’re in the hotel California. I said I hope not. I want to leave.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I caught my reflection
On the Northern Line
My face in the glass
The rushing tunnel behind me
And I looked sad

I’ve always looked thoughtful
Serene, even.

As I write this
In the British Library café
I force a smile
In case anyone is watching me
In case I am being written
Into a writer’s notebook
To become a minor character
In a fiction.
Not the sad guy on the underground
But the man with the foolish grin
Glancing suspiciously around.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

This Book Begins

This book begins
With a mad rush for the train.
The alarm wakes me.
I wash, shower, dress
Black trousers, orange shirt, yellow socks.
Smooth operation.
I’m early.
I have time to spare.
I sip my coffee.
Check the map.
But time concertinas.
Maybe time saxophones.
Either way I’m in a hurry now.
Time metronomes.
I’m leaving the house.
My glasses!
They are in my dressing gown pocket
On the back of the bedroom door.
I run up the stairs.
I’m moving fast.

Time is a foxtrot.
There’s a heavy frost.
I start the car.
The windscreen is an iced cake.
The de-icer’s in Jill’s car.
The key’s on my key ring

In the ignition.
I turn off the engine.
Find the de-icer.
De-ice the windows.
Now the car won’t start.
I have to de-activate the thief lock.
I manoeuvre through the gate.
Close the gate.

I wait for the de-icer to kick in.
Time is a mazurka.

Time is a polka.
Luckily there’s no traffic at six in the morning.
Luckily the station car park ticket machine works this time.
Luckily there’s no queue at the ticket office.
The level crossing’s down.
I can hear the train coming.
I run over the bridge.
Catch the train

On the last note of the final coda.
Organise myself,
My hat, coat, case, book
And notebook.
I’m starting a new notebook today.
The phrase, This book begins
With a mad rush for the train
Comes into my head.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


I’m sorry, son,
For all I said

Harry Potter’s brilliant
I love the way
He’s always one step ahead

Is sharp, clever
There’s no doubt whatsoever
That, by now, without her
Harry would be dead

And the other one, Harry’s friend
The perfect foil, loyal to the end
The butter on Harry’s bread

And I love the way the books are written
I’d say the they’re best books that I’ve ever read

Now, son, please
Unlock the door
And let me out the shed

The Marker of Graves

The marker of graves
Sings songs by the Beatles
And remarks upon the weather

The manager of letters
Winds down
With a little Bach

The cleaner of windows
Writes his memoirs
Life is a Chamois Leather

The catcher of dogs
Puts her feet up
In the churchyard
And examines her sandwich
For bugs

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Disappearing School.

I was at a school near Leyton today in East London. Nice school but pretty poor area.
I went by tube. When I arrived at where I thought the school was, according to my map, I discovered it was a different school altogether - a school for special needs. So I asked someone where the school I wanted was. He said, "Sorry, mate. I don't know. I've been away. This is the first time I've been here for three weeks." Hmmm... I thought. Must be a very new school.
Then I asked someone else and they pointed at the special needs school and said - That's it!
No it's not, I said. That's a school for special needs.
I eventually found it even though no one seemed to have heard of it.

Up early in the morning. Off to a school in Guildford.