Scribbles From Ancient Times

I stumbled upon an old notebook. It is undated, but I think it was written in the first years of the 1980s. Here are a few scribblings, of possible historical interest. Despite severe temptation, I haven’t changed a single word. As far as I recall, these pieces have never until now been dragged out from under their bushel*.

I fed bears. I fed crows. One of them pecked my nose. I ate curry. I ate meat. I slobbered and stamped my feet. I grew muscles. I grew fangs. My heart burst with violent pangs. I wanted to be back at home, reading about the fall of Rome, sitting in a chair in the drawing-room, watching from the window the gathering gloom, eating potatoes, peas and pork, slicing them neatly with a knife and fork, being very graceful, and being polite, going to the park to fly my kite. Life had such charms when I was young, before I began to wallow in dung, before I left for a life in the muck. All I can say is I’ve had good luck.

I am a lighthouse keeper. My name is Jim. It is a lonely life. Games on baize are my great love, and ball games using sticks. Ah, I treasure memories of billiards and hockey as the waves crash on the rocks.

Let me tell you where I’ve been. This time I’ll make it a blue-ish land. A blue land and a big one. I went there on my horse. I’ll tell you all about that place, and how my horse fell sick there. Only the sky was really blue. Everything was the same as here too. There were lupins, and cupcakes, butter, clatter and taxes. It was a lovely land, so cool. I’m a tourist wherever I get to.

Last time I saw you I came to your hut. You’d decorated the walls with stolen paint. I arrived with a warrant for your arrest. You had lockjaw. I punched your head. All your cosmetics were stale in their jars. Broken cutlery lay thick on the floor. My police car was parked outside. Your lipstick was smudged. My brakes were bust. The car careered into a tree. You broke your neck. I was in shock. I wandered off towards the canal. The morning was filled with the sound of bells.

I am the patron saint of blood oranges, disguised as a Turk. My dog patrols the footpaths, fangs bared. He has a nose for bee borage, tears it up at root. I am fearsome. He is a brute. He chewed a chair to firewood once. I burnt it, rich with glee. We stalk the town, my hound and I, down to the stupid beach, where stupid tars tell stupid yarns of lands I’ll never reach.

In this enormous ditch, I found a mother tongue. In the blue of holidays, hammers hit anvils, sent echoes back to before the war. My house is a haystack. My arms are waving. I’m so happy about the weather we’re having. Clocks stopped dead, trains jammed in sidings. The weather, the weather. It began to pour with rain. So heaven left us hopeless in village barns and dance halls, banjos and clarinets, pianos and machine-guns.

Bandages, planks, netting and maize. Cork and gauze and suds and baize. Filigree vents. Chocolate and tents. Desire, vigilance, treachery, gaze.

* NOTE : Complete nonsense, I realised, as soon as I had typed it. Some of this stuff would have appeared in old Malice Aforethought Press pamphlets between 1986 and 1991.

9 thoughts on “Scribbles From Ancient Times

  1. Mr Shuddery : You’re right, of course… though given that the coinage “Hooting Yard” first turned up in a piece written around this time, I don’t think we can really call it “pre-Hooting Yard”.

  2. Perhaps we could call it “proto-Hooting Yard” as for all it’s rough-hewn nonsense it has a kind of elan and panache which would one day evolve into the Hooting Yard which today is cherished by so many children.

  3. Were these stories some form of automatic writing? It has a kind of made-up-on-the-spotty kind of vibe to it. Forgive me for using the word vibe… The word has 1960s connotations… of smoke-filled bars and clichéd beret-wearing beatniks who say “daddy-oh” and “man” at the end every sentence. That was not at all my intention. I did not mean to insinuate that it is a “beat” poem for that would be wholly appropriate and wrong…. I know.

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