Monday, 1 September 2014

"Most People Are Other People"

Oscar Wilde once truthfully said that ‘most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.’ The search for complete originality is rather a futile one, as people have been pointing out for some time. It is far easier to let other people’s traits permeate into our being. 

When I sit down to write I always feel stunted by the fact that the people I look up to are so much better at writing and cooler and funnier and more talented than I am in every way. I have stuck quotations from my favourite people all around my room with hope that I will somehow absorb their genius. I even wrote a Wilde quote in my maths GCSE exam. It was an impossibly difficult question that I had no hope with even trying to answer so I simply scrawled, “In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot answer’- Oscar Wilde.’

I am other people. I am my parents, who raised me, friends from the past, who influenced me, friends of the present, whose mannerisms subtly slip into my own behaviour. However, (without discrediting those people who I know in person) more than anything I am Coco Chanel. I am Morrissey. I am Allen Ginsberg. I am Oscar Wilde. I am Tavi Gevinson. I am James Dean. I am Edie Sedgwick. Just a slightly less cool version.

I have an obsession for each of these people I call my ‘heroes.’ They are my idols, my influences, the books I read, the music I listen to. And I do not hesitate to say that without them I would not be the same person I am today.

However, where must we decide to draw the line with how much these strangers influence our lives? We are constantly bombarded with reasons why celebrities like Lindsey Lohan and Pete Doherty are negative role models but many still idolise them and their lifestyles. Then of course there was that ridiculous and inconceivably insensitive ‘cut for Bieber’ trend on Twitter last year. Celebrity culture is weird and sort of messed up. With the decline in religion people are turning more and more to their favourite celebrity to comfort them and give them guidance. 

A friend once told me that she was glad that I was obsessed with Coco Chanel and James Dean as opposed to Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj. However, Coco Chanel was allegedly a Nazi and was constantly embroiled in affairs with married men. James Dean had an often unpredictable personality and, somewhat ironically, was a dangerous driver. Hardly ideal role models, right? 

There’s admiration and then there’s imitation and sometimes I worry that I’m slipping into the latter category. It was Morrissey who penned, “If you must write prose and poems, the words you use should be your own” but it is sometimes so tempting to want to fully become the people you look up to. I even managed to paraphrase two Morrissey lyrics into my English Literature exam last year. Morrissey himself wrote the anti-plagiarism line in response to being harangued about using the line, “I dreamt about you last night and I fell out of bed twice” in an early Smiths’ song ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ as the line originally came from Shelagh Delaney’s play ‘A Taste of Honey’.

I love the idea of escaping myself to become somebody else. Coco Chanel once said “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.” I cut my hair to imitate Coco Chanel. I sometimes find myself daydreaming about styling it in a quiff like the teens imitating Morrissey in The Smiths’ ‘Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before’ music video. I want a bongo drum and perhaps a motorcycle like James Dean. I want a collection of fashion books as vast as Bill Cunningham’s. I want to dress like Tavi Gevinson. I want to write poetry like Patti Smith. I want to make witty quips in conversation like Oscar Wilde. I will just have to live my life with the worry that one day I may perhaps be serenaded with the song ‘Lighten Up Morrissey.’

I am definitely other people and my life is mimicry, my passions a quotation. However, I have not altogether lost my individuality because I am yet to find another person influenced my all these exact same people. Sometimes I feel like I am having a complete identity crisis but, at the end of the day, aren’t we all a product of the things that we love? The things we like can be just as telling about a person as what we are like and because of this I think we should move forwards and imitate whoever the hell we want to.

Library Videos

The silence was interrupted by the distant sirens, breaking up the imagined harmony of the night. The sky was black and the pavements were wet with the sweat of nightfall.

A young man peered out, pushing aside the pale pink organza curtain. The sky was black and the empty pavements were wet with the sweat of the night. He shook his head.

“It’s too small. None of us will fit through” he observed with a defeated sigh, “Not even her.” He pointed at Edie, a skinny young girl who had drawn her knees into her chest in order to appear smaller.

Shelagh lent back and raised her eyes to the broken leather ceiling. “I cannot believe this is happening.”
“I only came here for a good time” Cal contemplated morosely, staring into space.

Shelagh leaned forwards, “Oh yeah? And I came here to get stuck in a room with you wasters.” She rolled her eyes and let out an exaggerated sigh.

“Does nobody have any signal on their mobiles?” Justin asked half-heartedly.

They all shook their heads. They would have been released already if the answer to that question was yes.
“Who the hell is hosting this party anyway?” Shelagh enquired.

The room’s occupants shrugged.

“So not one of you knows the person who’s hosting this party? No one knows whose house this is? No one was invited here?” Shelagh asked.

“It’s like The Great Gatsby” Cal said, in awe.

“At what point in The Great Gatsby is anyone stuck in a room with a whore, a stoner and a mute teenager?” said Justin.

Shelagh and Cal frowned at those labels. Edie did not move.

“You think that just because you’re sitting up in that chair reading a goddamn book that you’re better than us?” Cal said, addressing Justin, “It is like a Gatsby party though. I come here all the time and I’ve never met the host.”

“Why are you guys here anyway?” Justin enquired, “For kicks, or what?”

“Sure” Shelagh laughed a husky laugh, mocking Justin “For kicks.”

“Is this going to be one of those things where we all open up to each other and find out that we have loads of interesting and life changing secrets to share?” Justin asked, ignoring Shelagh’s sarcasm.

“Like The Breakfast Club” Cal said, matter-of-factly.

“God, no, that’s so overdone. Besides, I have no burning secrets to share” Shelagh contemplated, “No tragic past that will change all your outlooks on life.”

“Good” said Justin, “Then let’s just sit tight until the host finds us.”

Quiet fell across the room like a sheet of air filled with uncomfortable dampness. Only one thing broke the soundlessness. It was a drumming from Cal’s fingertips against the wooden floor. He was tapping quickly and silently mouthing words.

“For fuck’s sake, will you cut it out?” Edie spoke for the first time, with incongruous anger.

Cal stopped tapping. The silence resumed its heavy place in the room.

“This is the shittest party I’ve ever been to” Cal said with passionate, drunken emphasis.

“I am so bored” Shelagh pondered aloud.

“It’s not like there’s nothing to do. We’re locked in a library. Whoever this guy is, he has lots of books,” Justin said, turning a page of the book resting on his lap.

Shelagh rested her chin on her fist and looked at Justin defiantly, “So, you suggest that we read until we’re rescued?”

“Don’t worry. I’ve thought of something better” Cal grinned. He felt around his pockets for a lighter.

Minutes later marijuana smoke danced around the room. Hazy images registered in the minds of them all. 
The dread of captivity was replaced by the happiness of a dreamlike fantasy.

“I’ve killed a man before” Edie said, coldly, waiting for their reactions.

“No you haven’t” Shelagh laughed.

“I have” said Edie.

Cal scowled, “When?”

Edie ignored this question.

“You’re too young and sweet to be a murderer” Shelagh said, pragmatically, as if she could expel the idea from Edie’s mind with a simple statement about her character. 

Edie took a knife out of her pocket. She stroked the blade delicately, as though she was frighteningly aware of its potency. She raised her head, “Oh really?” The smoke seemed to part and everything was very real once more.

“Shit” Cal said, cowering backwards, further away from Edie and the demanding metallic power she held in his direction, “Where did you get that?”

Edie’s answer echoed with a defensive nature and a sense of the psychopathic, “It’s mine” then she spoke softly and they all listened, in obedience triggered by fear, “It’s better this way. Better than a gun. Better than poison. More lingering. More controllable. Do you kill fast?” Edie waved the weapon quickly through the air, “Or do you kill…slow?” She rose to her feet and sat down again, closer to Shelagh, “It’s an art, you know? A real fucking art.” Edie lightly brushed the knife over Shelagh’s cheek. Shelagh, meanwhile stayed in a paralysed state of terror. “You can choose how neat or messy you make the killing. How much admiration you gain, which, of course everyone has to hide with disgust. Truth is, we’re all fascinated with the insane. Hmm, who should I demonstrate on first?”

“Someone could come in at any minute” Justin warned.

Edie laughed, “We’ve been waiting for someone to come in all night. No one’s coming. God, you’re so fucking pretentious, up in your armchair with your books. You don’t know better than me. None of you do. I have all the power in this room now” Edie’s eyes glittered, “As far as you are concerned, I am God,” and she plunged the knife into Justin’s stomach.

He coiled over and Shelagh screamed. The scream rang in their ears. It rang in Edie’s as she continued to force the knife repeatedly into Justin’s chest. It rang in Cal’s as he hid his face in his hands and shivered profusely. It rang in Justin’s as he slipped from life’s grip into another world.
It rang in James’ ears as he paused the recording and dialled 999.

“Shit shit shit shit,” he repeatedly whispered under his breath as he paced up and down the room and waited for an answer.

14 hours previously
James was a writer and at this time he was alone in his South London home, making the final preparations for his party. He went into the library and adjusted the camera so that it was concealed by the small ornaments on top of the bookcase. There it had a clear view of the whole room. James wondered who would be coming to his party tonight. He hoped to see some strange and interesting faces. Then, he would talk them into visiting his library through some means or other. There, he would lock them in and the camera would film the interaction between the captives.

James sat down in his burgundy leather armchair and rested his chin in his hand. His mind danced with endless possibilities. Who would he trap tonight? Perhaps a drag queen and a teenage runaway. Or a starving artist and an old man with a terminal illness. Each of those could make for fantastic plots if played out right.

This party would be the same as all the others: as guests arrived in hoards, the majority of them unknown to the host, James always had a plan. He would make his way round the party and stop at the most interesting looking people. He would give them directions to his library and tell them to go there, using whatever advertisements necessary. Once James knew that four or five people were inside, he would look the door. In the library was a hidden camera. When the party ended, and before he went to sleep, James liked to watch the recordings of what the people got up to. Sometimes the events would inspire his writing and sometimes they were purely a form of entertainment to light up his drab life. In the past James had seen everything from confessions, to musical performances, to orgies. Never before, however, had there been a murder.

Later that day, three bodies were escorted from James’ house and Edie was arrested. Later, when on trial, she would say that she had seen the cameras in James’ library and that was why she did it. It was performance art. Her defence was that she lived in a culture dominated by surveillance culture and obsessed with reality TV. She only wanted to make something a little more interesting for people to watch and the library had been the perfect chance. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


I am a person & I get jealous as fuck;
Everyday, every night, trying my luck.
Let's change, let's drive, drive, drive.
Sit wiv me & wait for our dreams to arrive.
Let's live our lives, let's feel alive.

Onwards, onwards to where Reality meets Dreams.
Perhaps, perhaps then we'll know what it means
Or maybe I'll stay in these walls, so sad.
Every minute, every hour not lucid but mad.
But do not wait, my feelings turn bad.

A final verse, final dream, final thought, final breath
Who cares? We're inching closer to death.
But alas, alack! I must not go.
For every low there's a high & every high there's a low
And I'm still here; this I want u to know

The Smiths

The Smiths songs are the songs that saved my life. Sixteen, clumsy and shy I am riddled with teenage angst, I wallow in an all consuming sense of loneliness and have suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression. (Well it wouldn’t be right to start an article about The Smiths with anything other than a small dose of self pity now, would it?) When everything becomes too much I lie on the floor and listen to ‘I Know It’s Over’, cry to ‘Asleep’ or commit to flailing around my bedroom in a Mozzerian style, trying (yet mostly failing) to hit the falsetto notes in ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.’ I own 7 CDS, 3 DVDs, 3 magazines, 6 books, 2 fanzines, numerous posters…and a shrine…

The Smiths are something I can write quite freely and endlessly about. However, it is difficult because so much has been written about them. Furthermore, my boundless admiration for them puts on pressure to do the band justice. I am going to write about what The Smiths mean to me and why I love them. Hopefully it will be readable and relatable. 

Let’s go back to where it all began; to my humble entrance into Smithdom. ‘Twas January 2013 and snow was steadily falling to the ground. School had closed early and, as we drove home, I persuaded my mother to let me download ‘The Sound of The Smiths’ from iTunes onto my phone. My official ‘Smiths weekend’, as it later became known in my diary and in my head, had commenced. I summed it up a few days later, saying that “I really don’t know what to do. The Smiths have changed my life. Morrissey’s words are beautiful and everything all goes so well. I’m so obsessed. All I could think about all day at school was listening to The Smiths and I was constantly singing their songs under my breath. I just lay on my bed with all the lights out except my lava lamp and listened to them with my phone turned up as loud as possible and my earphones in.” Then later THE SAME DAY, “It’s me again. Off on another rant about The Smiths.” The pages surrounding such entries were filled with lyrics and illustrations. At the time I was definitely not aware that, a year later, I would still feel the exact same sense of wonderment every time I listened to them. 

However, the story starts before that day. It starts with something that music snob Smiths fans would line me up and shoot me for and ends with a very proud and emotional moment. I made a mix CD for my then best friend for her Christmas present and put the song ‘Asleep’ on it because ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ had become very dear to us both that year. Accompanying the mix CD was a booklet describing why I had put on each song. Feeling how I do now about The Smiths, the description for ‘Asleep’ is so cringey. However, on the day it reduced my friend to tears. Literal real tears. My writing made someone cry!!! 

The next song is the song that Charlie is always talking about in Perks. It’s Asleep by The Smiths and I have never really listened to The Smiths much but know that lots of cool people in movies listen to them and their music is kind of depressing. This song is usually interpreted as a direct reference to suicide but I like to think that "There is another/better world” does not mean that death is the better world but imagination is. This sounds really cringey and when we listen to it on Friday I’m gonna blush so much but I just want this song to make you happy not suicidal so my interpretation is that when you are feeling down, create another world for yourself; whether through reading, writing, doodling, dreaming, whatever. Just create. And I hope it makes you feel infinite like you’re standing at the back of a truck and screaming happily whilst driving going through a tunnel and listening to the perfect song at the perfect moment.

So that is the complete story of my introduction to The Smiths. Their music continues to have a deeply profound effect on me today. There have been long stretches of time where Morrissey has felt like my best and closest friend. The Smiths’ self-titled album is my after school album. ‘Meat Is Murder’ is my morning album. ‘The Queen Is Dead’ is my night time album. ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ is my travelling album. 

Morrissey’s dreamily imperfect voice soothes many maladies and Johnny’s guitar always lights up the horizon. I have absorbed so much knowledge about The Smiths in the past year. I have cried because I will never see them live and because of the sad situation surrounding their break-up. 

In February last year I went into town one afternoon. I got ‘Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance’ by Johnny Rogan out from the local library. I went to a cafĂ© and got a cup of tea. When I finished the tea I walked round the park in the dark and listened to The Smiths and Morrissey and wrote. The darkness and isolation was simultaneously scary and exhilarating and magical. 

I went on a French exchange in March but I left my iPod charger at home. I ended up paying FORTY EUROS in Paris to buy one because I could not cope without listening to Morrissey’s voice. The struggle was real, I am telling you. 

In the Easter holidays I spent a week in a cottage in Dorset. There were lots of markets there, selling CDs. I returned home with 4 Morrissey CDs. 

Last December I told my guy friend that I wanted to be more than friends and, hearing that he did not, I wrote in my journal, “I feel like listening to ‘I Know It’s Over’ on repeat for 70 years until I die.” Morbid, I know but unrequited love is painful. 

So, that is my experience with The Smiths in a nutshell. Morrissey has introduced me to so many new and wonderful things. I have learnt new words, watched films I wouldn’t have otherwise watched and taken new moral and political stances. I don’t think that the way in which music impacts some lives can ever be overestimated. The Smiths have legitimately saved lives. They performed on Top of the Pops and did television interviews but behind the inevitable showiness there are the people in the dark bedrooms climbing into empty beds with tear stained cheeks, letting Morrissey sing them to sleep once more- the comically morbid, controversially political, intelligently superficial and sometimes hopeful Morrissey. 

The Smiths created a boundlessly beautiful discography that links people together the world over to this day. There is a silent understanding between Smiths fans; one that shall be whispered down through generations. The Smiths are VERY IMPORTANT and remember, when making an important decision; always ask yourself, what would Morrissey’s hair do?

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Met You At The Cemetery Gates

George Millis stared into the depths of his coffee mug as he hunched over the kitchen island in his cousin’s small town located apartment. He methodically stirred the beverage with the teaspoon a few more times round the circumference of the mug. 

George looked up from his coffee; out to the grey world. He watched the raindrops glide down the windows. It always rained here. The melancholy drops slid down the glass like tears falling down a human cheek. George bit his lip. He must remind himself not to cry for that is not what Rose would have wanted.

‘I need to go now’ said John, snatching a file off the table before coming round to console his cousin, ‘I know today will be hard for you’ John placed his hand on George’s shoulder and softly gripped it; ‘You’ll get through it. Try to get out the house today. Go and see someone or do something. Stay busy. I’ll be home later this evening.’

George did not reply, but remained hunched over his coffee that he had retired to staring into glumly; as if in the depths of the mug, he would find happiness. He knew that that was a ridiculous notion.

John removed his hand from his cousin’s shoulder and sighed before picking up his briefcase and leaving for another day in the office.

George had been living with John for six months. Their relationship was becoming dreadfully strained. It had reached the point where George was waiting for his cousin to say, ‘We need to talk’ before telling him that he needed to find another place to stay; either that or he needed to find a job. Neither prospect appealed to George but what he did not want was a regular job.

George got up from his seat and left the coffee on the island. He had never had any intention of drinking it really. George walked over to his cousin’s oak bookcase and ran his finger along the spines in search of an appealing title. He needed a way for his mind to escape for a little while. George picked up a non-fiction work about Renaissance art. He raised an eyebrow for his cousin was a conservative sort of chap who did not seem to have a particular interest in art of any kind.

He lay the book down on the coffee table and went over to his mug of lukewarm coffee and poured it down the sink. He refilled the kettle in order to make a cup of tea. He had never liked coffee. It tasted like burnt toast.

George sighed as he waited for the kettle to boil and again observed the steady, tedious rainfall. He tried to not think about Rose but her face kept coming back into his mind. Sometimes she was laughing hysterically or smiling and biting her lip coquettishly. But the worst time was when she was crying. He always hated seeing her cry. The kettle boiled and he brewed a cuppa.

George took a seat and opened up the book that he had placed on the coffee table. It was a rather hefty sized book. There should be something worthwhile somewhere within it. Perhaps he could find some inspiration for his writing. That was what George was straggling around for; inspiration. His writer’s block had gone on for far too long. He lied to his cousin about his work. He said that it was going exceptionally well and that he would publish it and be rich soon enough. John nodded approvingly because he liked to dodge confrontation and he was avoiding talking to George about getting a job. Hence John liked the idea of George becoming an extremely successful writer although he had never actually read any of George’s writing so had no idea what the chances of this happening were. The truth was that ever since Rose’s death exactly one year ago, all George had been able to see in the world was suffering and this had sapped his creativity to ghastly low levels.

On page five of the introduction Pisano and Da Vinci started to blend into one as George increasingly lost concentration. This seemed to happen every time he tried to read and write which made him miserable because these used to be his two favourite past times. He was put off his cup of tea after burning the roof of his mouth so he left the second warm beverage of the day unfinished. This time, however, he did not pour the drink down the sink but left it on the side to cool.

George walked into the hall and threw on his worn out leather jacket before walking out of the front door and slamming it behind him. He ran down the steps of the apartment block and grabbed his bicycle from the bike rack. He clambered on and pedalled furiously until he reached his local public house, The Deacon and Swordsman. He pulled up outside and dropped his bike against the brick wall by the door.

George swung open the door and staggered in already feeling drunk with world weariness. He stereotypically slumped into a bar stall and ordered his first pint. He smiled drowsily and silently toasted the drink to Rose.

George was a nineteen year old misfit who frequented the pub too often but otherwise stayed indoors. He did not have many friends and liked staying up too late, sitting in the dark and listening to depressing music. However, he had not always been like this.

A year ago he had finished his final examinations at school and achieved good grades that would have gotten him into a top university if he had wanted to. Now he had no communication with his family other than his cousin. After Rose's death, George had gone off the rails. At first he refused to leave his bedroom but when he did start going out he would end up drunk in the gutter or sitting on a bench in the cemetery. His parents tried to help him at first and the doctor put him on some pills. However, three months ago he had a significant argument with his parents and they had kicked him out with just one bag full of belongings.  

George left the pub at an uncivilised hour. The large town clock that stared him in the face as he swayed onto the street told him that it was still the anniversary of Rose's death. The dreaded day has not yet ended. It had merely darkened and the darkening correlated with George's mood for there were no more pints and no more books about Renaissance art to distract him from his thoughts now. George remembered that it had been a dark night when Rose had died. Again, he tried to hold back his tears. A car blew its horn and George realised that he was standing in the middle of the road. He moved, as ably as he could, to the pavement but his vision was blurred and his coordination clumsy. He struggled to gain a sense of direction and to keep his footing on the cobbles. He made it to the safety of the roadside and the car drove on. However, in his drunkenness, George misjudged the curb and did not leave enough room between his foot and the concrete. He fell without having time to put his hands down to protect his face. 

The street lamps were temperamental in this town. They flickered before all light left them. George could not tell what he had cut his face on. A pain shot through the area between his lower lip and chin. Bringing his hand up to the injured area, he felt a wetness. George brought his fingers to his mouth and tasted the unmistakably bitter and metallic flavour of blood. He cursed at his own stupidity then turned onto his back and looked up at the sky.

The street was deserted expect for the drunken man lying flat on his back; conscious but by no means sober enough for sanity. George laughed; for his 'life' really was quite laughable. We must put 'life' in quotation marks because although alive, George had not been living for a long time.

He looked at the few stars that were visible in the cloudy sky and noticed, for the first time, that it was raining; hard. It must have been raining for quite some time because John realised that his clothes were soaked through and his skin was damp. Here he was; a young man of just nineteen years, lying flat in the street. What would his old peers from school think of him now? He did not care one jot what those ignorant buffoons thought. He did not care what anybody thought. However, George could not help but think about himself for he could not escape that; even in his current alcohol induced daze. What an awful mess he had made of his life! He was waiting for a train that would never arrive; a dream that might never come true. He sat around all day waiting for words to enter his mind; for a novel that perhaps he would never write. He would be asked to leave his cousin’s apartment soon, for sure. He spent too much time thinking about Rose. Rose. He needed to see her. It was an event that he had been putting off all day. He had feared that going earlier would have meant running into Rose’s parents. They had gotten on well enough last year but George was not oblivious to the fact that all over the town he was now seen as the good boy who went off the rails. If his own parents did not approve of his new lifestyle (which they didn’t) and thought that he was a waste of space (which they did) then Rose’s parents would probably feel the same way. Parents of teenagers often seem to think in unison.

George lay in the gutter and counted the stars. He wondered, for a brief second, if Rose was up there, looking back at him. Then he shook his head at his naivety. It was a fatuous thought. She was no more up there than she was in the gutter alongside him for she was dead and would never come back.

George suddenly needed to be as close to Rose as possible. He pulled himself up and stumbled about a bit before gaining his balance and walking down the street in the direction of the cemetery.

George walked the streets with his hands in his pockets; trying to pay attention so as to avoid another fall. He climbed over the cemetery gates and rolled onto the gravel; numb to any pain he may have felt if sober. He took the immediate left. He knew the route like the back of hand, so, even in darkness he could conduct his way to Rose’s grave. George saw a flash. He heard a scream. He put his hand on the nearby bench in order to steady himself. Then it was back to normal. George was alone in the dark graveyard; a situation that few sober humans would be comfortable in. A laugh. Another bright light. George sat down and put his head in his hands. How he thoroughly despised these flashbacks! But Rose had looked so, so beautiful that night. It was the vividness of such flashbacks that had saved George’s life on more than one occasion. Just seeing Rose’s smile was enough. He hated what an infatuated, weak fool this made him.

It was like a ridiculous American high school film when Rose had walked down the staircase to meet him that night. She had been dressed in a very pale pink dress that was fitted at the top and flowed out at the waist before ending modestly just above the knee. Her shiny, dark blonde hair was tied into a messy bun adorned with a daisy embellished hair band. And her eyes. Oh her eyes! How perfectly blue they had been! And how perfectly blue they still were in George’s mind for she was now standing in front of him, as real as ever. He took her hand and they go in the car. Then they danced for hours. Others stood at the sides but George and Rose never stopped dancing. Rose continued to twirl around nonchalantly, as if in a happy dream, even after they had left the venue. She giggled and George smiled. He was happy in that moment. Then something terrible happened. Rose skipped ahead to George’s car across the road. George was still smiling. Rose was still laughing.

“Go” George shouted.

“Wha-?” Rose turned, perplexed.

Then the light. And the scream. And it hit. George saw it all again. Every day that sequence repeated itself in his mind like a broken record. Rose was hit by a truck. She had died almost instantly from the impact. People tried to console George by reminding him of this. “At least she wasn’t in any pain” they all say. But George knew that she was. He could see it in her eyes that in the last moment of her life she was in excruciating emotional pain that no physically torment could ever possibly match. It was the realisation that she was completely and utterly alone and she was afraid, so George did not believe all the people that told him she had not suffered from any pain for she undoubtedly had. Now he was too. Every day since then George had suffered because he hadn’t seen the truck a few seconds earlier. Because he did not run into the road and push her aside. Because he had not been holding her hand that night. Because he had shouted such an ambiguous syllable to her which had not helped her and had been such insensitive last words. Because in her final moments there was no way he could possibly comfort her because in death we are all infinitely alone.

George stood up and staggered in the dark until he got to Emily’s grave. It was at the other side of the cemetery, by the gates looking onto the main road. Cars still zoomed past; paying little attention to all the people forever gone from the world that lay under the ground.

Then George decided that he must commemorate Rose’s death in an original way. Rose would like that. Flowers had no meaning. Why put something symbolising life on the graves of the dead? It is a tradition that seems a little harsh. It is like saying ‘look at these lovely living flowers. You will never live again but these beautiful flowers are alive.’ And what did crying achieve?

Rose loved to dance. Yes. More than anything else she loved to dance.

George started to spin round like Rose had done on the night of her death. He moved his feet in different patterns and bobbed his head. Next, arms were added. The rest came easily. It flowed like he had been rehearsing for months. The Rose was there with her blue eyes and her smile and her elegant movements. He held onto her and whispered that he would never let go.

George and Rose danced into the early hours in the morning. Several cars passed by and wondered why there was this man dancing so animatedly in the cemetery. Rumours about it still circulate today. Passersby all have their own theories and conspiracies. They bring it up at dinner parties when there is a lull in conversation but none of them could have guessed that, as George danced around his loved one’s grave all night, he felt a lot happier than he had done in a long time.

The next morning a man found George lying asleep next to Rose’s grave. The man that found him recognised George and knew his cousin. He went to a phone-box and called John. John and the man gently lifted George into the back of the car where he awoke with an aching head. John let George stay in the apartment for another year.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Why Read? Why Write?

Words are one of the most powerful forces in this world. A picture can tell a thousand words but a thousand words can tell a thousand words too. Words spread ideas. Words take you to other places. Words fill you up and make you feel alive. Words are a part of who we are. Words are our favourite poems, our favourite songs. Words are the quotes we keep close to us, the kind words that we say to ourselves to get through each day and the dark words that are whispered in our minds that can make for a sleep deprived night. Words are the kindest compliments that we thrive off and the insults we carry on our backs. We are all novels and love songs and heartfelt poems waiting to be written.

I have wanted to be a writer ever since I realised that the illustrations that accompanied the stories I wrote as a child were too inept for me to ever make it as a conventional painter. I wrote all the time and made up stories to pass otherwise empty days. 

When I was younger I made my way through many a book series. ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ are the most memorable. More recently my novels of choice are either classics or biographies. 

I read ‘On The Road’ just over a year ago and since then have been embroiled in beat literature. I have whirled through many a poem by Kerouac or Ginsberg or Cassady and I love how free and alive they all seem. The words rise from the page and dash around the room in a drug-fuelled haze. In many ways it is very different to anything else that I have read. Although the tales of New York and road trips and Mexico sometimes make my life feel a tad lacking, I feel so blessed to have come across this genre that makes literature feel so alive to me.

Books are so tender and so delicate; both pragmatically and metaphorically. The pages tear with an ever so slight tug at thin paper. The prose trigger memories and emotions as much as a whole album of photographs.  

I read to feel a part of something. I want to feel like I have been let in on a secret that has been shared with generations of people who have read the same words and felt the same ways. I write to feel a part of something. I want to feel that I am part of my generation and I want to make a difference. I want to participate in this phenomenon that is the written word. That is the thought that hangs over my mind when I sit down with pen and paper or poise my fingers over my laptop keyboard. It is the need that motivates me to write every bad poem, every trite song lyric because we need to get past those to someday write something beautiful.

(originally published in Cherry)

Make Believe

Lies flower and blossom in the sphere of my soul,
Embellishing the wilting truth,
That I too, like the girl in black,
I too, am a Hermit.
But that is not I! 
It is I who never slept 
But walked on under the starry skies
Until midnight and beyond 
Following a Great Possibility
And kissed your face
Your beautiful face
Loves me not
It is I who, with Pinkie, carved others in Brighton with a razor
Not myself in an en suite bathroom.
It is I who lived as if I'd die that very day
Not merely dreamt as if I'd live forever.
I followed danger
And wrote incessantly 
Please, please, please, please
Let's pretend.