At the time when people start to dream

At the time when people start to dream
When the air is cool and fresh in the morning
Their dreams seem to breathe all around you
A city of dreams just before dawn

My love, she lives in that city
In the quietness before bird song
When all are alone in their dream world
Dreaming of their right and their wrong

Not even the trees breath a word
All harm seems erased from the streets
When you can look up at the peaceful stars
And wish that all life was like this

I was king of the art school

I was king of the art school
Its rooms like larders
I walked into them as if into light
It was the discovery of a rich seam of gold
That the spirit of life had shown me
Then it was gone.
A huge black locomotive
Crashed through the building
Then the swampy bats of normality
Dragged me away.

Oh yes, I was king of the art school
Without any clothes
I looked into a looking glass
At the tea party in the greenhouse on the rooftop
At the top of the winding square staircase
Where I went to dream and to sketch
Where I looked deep into the cracked seam
Of my little blue university sketchbook
At the light fish that swam under the rooftop
It was a night that I had ever seen before
Exploding with the imagination of primary colours

When I looked again
It was the termination of the decade
The slaughter of the innocents between the coaches
Under a rain of arrows from the medieval archers of the new masters

Hey man I was the king of the art school
It was the book of genesis made real
Amongst the Victorian architecture in Goodall Street
It blew my mind man; I was sawdust in a fire
I rose from the ocean like a dead swan and I flapped my wings and flew
It was a magical art school place, a workplace of love
Then the evil of men’s hearts came for me
I was The Lord of the Rings unfinished
Death pointed the way to the grave
And Satan laid down the kindling wood

Nothing made sense
People were fighting
The school was filled with witchcraft
And teachers ate babies

Free the art school, free the art school
I cried at Botticelli’s muses in the market
While the princess sobbed
And like Van Gogh’s bird’s she dipped her wings into the fire

Love goodness where ever you find it
Drink down its memory
So then as you walk the giant’s road
You may have life

October came in Oran

October came in Oran
And the sun was beating down
Doctor Rieux was working hard
In the plague-ridden town

Orthan’s son had fallen ill
And went into quarantine
Mother and father stood bedside
The plague was now extreme

The little boy lay prostrate
His mother’s face was pale
A hander kerchief across her mouth
The boy was looking frail

You must get your things together
You know how these things are
We’ll take him to the hospital
It isn’t very far

The boy had no resistance
His limps were clogged with pain
Obviously, it was a losing fight
The plague it must be tamed

They took him the concoction
The first test case they’d done
To see if the serum
Would put it on the run

The notaries were observing
The serum under trial
They sat by his bedside
With the serums vial

Now the night came falling
The boy gritted his teeth
The observers sat there hopeful
Hanging by their belief

The boy went into spasms
The tremors took a hold
Through the night in agonies
His body getting cold

Until every bit of strength was gone
But still, the boy fought back
But the storm-wind of the fevers
Gave the boy no slack

Then came a lull
The fever seemed to recede
Had the serum done its work
Did the plague ow leave

The fiery wave of death returned
The boy curled up and cried
He tossed his blankets from him
And closed his eyes and died

His suffering now over
The doctor bowed his head
The priest gave a sermon
The little boy lay dead

Condensed from Part 4, book 3, of the Plague a novel by Albert Camus

The Rent Office

Jimmy was a good friend, he was warm and unassuming and I got on well with him.
I bumped into him in the street, it was an overcast day and a bit dark.
He was going down to pay his rent he said. So we parted and I carried on until for some abstract reason I thought I should accompany him. I would have to catch him up. He was gone.

So I walked down to the rent office to find him. The rent office is a huge building. It is 16 stories high and covers a large area dominating an old high street of a long-forgotten town that had been absorbed into the asteroid belt of the big city.

I walked into the building from the rear. There in a glass foyer area was a reception desk with 3 desks but only one receptionist. A queue of people stood impatiently in line to see him. He was obviously irritable with everybody so I decided not to ask for directions.

I walked through a dirty old door and came to the loading bay area, there were no Lorries and no warehousemen so I carried on along the platform to the opposite side and went through the door flaps.

Now I was in a long corridor with a zigzag bend in the middle of it, locked doors all the way down the sides and a sense of disuse. I walked down, passed the zigzag, hoping the next half of the corridor would be different, it was not. I had a feeling of wasted time and energy and wanted to get out of there. At the end, through another door was a concrete stairwell that seemed to rise up into a vanishing point. I walked up the squared rising stairwell to the next level and opened a door.

A short passageway opened out into a huge high ceilinged waiting area. It was gloomy due to the weather. A few people sat in the rows of plastic chairs. A receptionist sat at a computer alone. I asked for the rent office. He didn’t look up, he was too preoccupied, he didn’t want to talk.

I crossed the large open hall and had to choose between two sets of doors leading into two corridors. I went to the right. It led to a lift with two lift doors and lights going on and off and strange crunching noises. I looked at the placarded list of floors. It was old with flaked paint. Nothing, no rent office. This was one of the older council rent offices where things were written on bits of paper and stuck on the wall, still no rent office.

I left the lift area and descended back down a stairwell to the floor beneath. A large grimy industrial area opened up full of crates and benches full of old tools and machinery covered over in filthy canvas sheets. A menacing man looked at me as if I wasn’t supposed to be there so I hurried on with the feeling I was being followed by a monstrous enemy until I came to a little door covered in grime and went through.
There was a big empty courtyard with walls all around it, I felt trapped, fearful. I searched for a way back into the building.

I came upon an old door that led to an old lift shaft, the sort that had cages all around it. I tried to call the lift, nothing happened. I walked up a narrowing unlit forgotten staircase like those in the towers of medieval castles to the next floor and saw a double set of doors onto a waiting room area. This was the council enquiry room. Two or three dozen worried people were crammed into the room. Sitting on plastic chairs or standing in a huddle by the door. It was a ticketed system and a red-backlit number said 665. My friend was nowhere to be found.

I left and found another stairwell and I made the bad choice of climbing all the way to the top. On the top floor was a large open plan office space with desks set up in rows. Women were engaged in making calculations on their computers. I had the feeling of walking into an off-limits part of the building and that I was unwelcome. I did a quick about-face and went down the stairs to the floor below.
Just as I was about to leave the stairwell I happened to look out of the window. Way down below I saw an ambulance and someone was being carried into it.

The Great Gnome Fiasco

The gnome mobile knee-deep with top-secret documents about the French Gnome Liberation front is sailing on a halo of water across the English Channel.

When the spectacle of the pig-headed sea captain made of cuttlebone in a ship’s cabin where a crystal chandelier glitters over the sea in the night as he beaches his boat where loose pickle packers in a heap of cucumbers from a tribe of true blue Britons from the court of King Andy Pandy are caught in handcuffs by P.C. Christine the Great with aching feet festooned with fish faces that face the festering facades of the London republic of Urcha

Then appeared a blue carnival float stuffed with Gnomes dancing with a plethora of naked dusky beauty queens who dined on plastic hotdogs as policemen followed a strange trail of Gnomes eyes that shone in the night and collected them in jam jars donated by the Salvation Army who after periods of anxiety in the linen cupboard of life were French secret agents working as char ladies.

Oh, it was a lovely fiasco when Diamond Dan the fly picker was banned from the street corner for dressing in stockings and suspenders that sparkled like a searchlights energy from the deep thoughts of screaming girl fanatics who chased their housing officers through the abandoned council offices where the Gnomes slept on burning rag bundles to keep warm.

Oh, it was a lovely fiasco to blame the Lord Mayor of Urcha to stop him keeping his collection of London buses crammed with the carcasses of Gnomes in the gangways that became mounds of money in the moonlight that bounced of the bosom of the body snatchers from the Medical College. Whose liaisons with the Water Board Officials in the big boarding houses on Highbury Hill that put at peril the secrets of the Gnome secret nation.

Oh, the fiasco inflated newspapers and floated like fairies in fairy lights for yonks through the ether of their ephemeral ethics that oozed from the enigmas that emerged like German sausages from their refurbished tea machines.

LIBERATED GNOMES RECOVERED

In the year 2000, The Garden Gnomes Liberation Front was said to be responsible for stealing 288 figurines from lawns in the French town of Sarebourg. Police are reuniting owners with the statues, including 5 snow whites and a footballer which were found in a wood.

With you, I am not working class

 

“With you, I am not working class”
But I need reminding of who I am
It rains in my hair
There is a cold grey February light
That creates a stillness in the air
For man and beast who die together like grass

“With you, I am not working class”
I remember now the summer, especially the sun
How it flies in my heart like a white bird
How it covers my heart like thick butter
Even on a cold grey morning
Love is another thing that breaks down barriers

“With you, I am not working class”
My mother and father were just people who lived and died together
Their home was a place for children to survive
When the cold grey English light emerges from the darkness
Both Queen and subject feel its power to subject
And it treats all pedestrians as equals in its gloom

“With you, I am not working class”
I am just a man you have known for many years
Isn’t it a shame that God cannot make us love him?
Isn’t it a shame that God cannot make us love each other?
That we must do for ourselves
Isn’t it a shame?
2000

In The Door of the One-Eyed Dog

In the door of the one-eyed dog
A Chinaman stood to look inside
In the darkness, the pool table stood like a wooden horse
As the dog walked away into the moonlight

As the autumn rains blitzed the road
The one-eyed dog wandered lonesome
Hanging his head with resignation
His one good eye upon the market place

In the door of the one-eyed dog
A shard of shadow glinted darkly
The hidden stairs creaked underfoot
A mirror flashed suddenly bright in the lightning

The Chinese restaurant closed its curtains
The bar echoed to some unearthly music
A strange woman with a bottle of wine
Stopped me outside selling her perfumes

In the door of the one-eyed dog
The dog’s white tearless eye is frowning
As he alone listens to the druid’s song
That echoes down the East End streets

People walk around him as he sails
Like a blind ship in the waters of the night
His gloomy countenance sees an inner dock
With the warehouses of heaven and hell
1999

This is about a pub at the end of Salmon Lane. It had an atmosphere of pre-war roughness. Nearly all the East End pubs have gone now, even the best of them.

 

Clapping their lives

Clapping their lives

Clapping their lives
Clapping their deaths
Nurses
They need their rest

Clapping their strength
Their bravery
The nurses
That we love best

Ideal mothers
Tested and tried
By the sickness
In our eyes

Take one in your arms
Let her feel your tears
These poor mortal women
Who do not show their fears

I was reading

I was reading
I was dug deep in my unconsciousness
Hardly breathing
Then I looked up at the bright light
In the window
And all of my dark thoughts
Lost their meaning
I’ll be aware
I’ll take care
The thoughts of God
Are everywhere

 

Have you heard the news

Have you heard the news?
They love their toilet rolls
Have you heard the news?
They so love their toilet rolls
With a rock in their heads
And a shadow in their souls

As I went out a-walking
Into those staring minds
As I went out a-walking
Into those staring minds
I wore out my crows mask
I spent my golden hind

I dreamed I was in battle
With the supermarket dead
I dreamed I was in battle
With the supermarket dead
Even my neighbour
Has a door hanging off her shed

Clapping made you happy
But you might be dead thereafter
Clapping made you happy
But you may be dead thereafter
While the leopard-spotted cat wind
Falls about in laughter

The overlord he spoke
The world watched what he would do
The overlord he spoke
Let’s see what he will do
Poor man, he could do nothing
He went and caught it too

The only one escaped
Lived in a jewellery box
The only one escaped
Lived in a jewellery box
She didn’t like the news
She had her security locked

Can you read the viral news?
You would do if you could see it
Can you read the viral news?
You would do if you could see it
The viral news is bad news
And so is the viral blues

They’re falling all around you
Oh my, Captain Tom
They’re falling all around you
Oh my, Captain Tom
You’ll awake one sunny morning
And wonder where they’ve gone

There’s a black patch on the sun
Where they put the needle in
There’s a black patch on the sun
Where they put the needle in
The sun is in a coma
But it has some light within

Comic Book Heroes

He stood with his mouth hanging out
With blood on his knuckles,  he broke wind
His friends were laughing like demons
The neighborhood just grinned

It was an overload of high emotions
When she offered to untie her shoe
She looked like a storm of female flesh
I knew I was in for some blues

Her baby brother ran screaming
With a needle stuck in his soul
Then he lay down dreaming
He poor boy was not so very old

The cop car came a cruising
The gang didn’t even care
It’s the same out here as in prison
And they don’t belong any where

The one like a donkey turned to face them
With a swagger as big as a bull
His arms were alive with tattoos
His face was mashed to his skull

The girl undid some more buttons
And minced right up to them and said
If someone don’t give me some whiskey
I’m sure I’m gonna wind up dead

I lost my hope of redemption
Both fire and water in my brain
Just what’s the world coming to?
I mumbled again and again

Baby brother lay moaning
His jeans were ripped to rags
His plimsoles were tatty and dirty
With a stale loaf of bread in a bag

The cops spread out across the playground
One was asking for cool
Why don’t you all go home to mother
Or else go play a little pool

The girl bent over the bonnet
She was quickly handcuffed away
The guns came out of their back packs
Now they could have some play

They were only comic book heroes
They were drawings coloured in ink
They were a story of the imagination
By a man who had died from drink