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Rolling Over Turnstiles


Rolling Over Turnstiles
A travelogue, in no particular order, of
drunken rambler Salisbury Carrero.
C. Michael Simpson BSc


Copyright 2013 by C. Michael Simpson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed
or electronic form without permission.
First Edition: February 2013
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN: [ISBN number with hyphens]




Introduction .................................................................... 5

1. Spickle Rotley ............................................................ 8
2. Kittys Wood ............................................................ 11
3. Base Infiltration (part 1) .......................................... 17
4. King of my Hill ......................................................... 21
5. Over Exposed ......................................................... 23
6. Eating Out ............................................................... 26
7. Fringe (part 1) ......................................................... 28
8. Internal Rambling ................................................... 35
9. Born to Roam ......................................................... 40
10. The G8 Riot .......................................................... 43
11. Beachy Head ........................................................ 48
12. The Sky L[a]s[t] Night ........................................... 53
13. Vertical Rambling ................................................. 57
14. Norman ................................................................. 61
15. H.A.N.K. ................................................................. 65
16. Frare Jaques, in Polish, in a London
Taxi .............................................................................. 67
17. Glastonbury, the night Michael Jackson
died .............................................................................. 77
18. Lie in ..................................................................... 84
19. The Did I Mention The Free Wine tour ................ 87
20. Elderston Mental Asylum (part 1) ......................... 92
21. The Shyer Traveller .............................................. 97
22. Elderston Mental Asylum (part 2) ......................... 99
23. Local Crazies ...................................................... 106
24. Coursework ........................................................ 111
25. The Urinators Map of Manchester ...................... 119
25. Duplicate entry to see if youre paying
attention .................................................................... 119
26. Age Of Genocide ................................................ 122
27. Sheepshaggers .................................................. 126
28. Norman Chinaski ................................................ 129
29. Bishy Porkland .................................................... 130
30. Base Infiltration (part 2) ...................................... 134
31. The Other Side Of The World ............................. 136
32. Base Infiltration (part 3) ...................................... 142
33. 18
Birthday Crane Climbing Bonanza .............. 145
34. This Cunted Circus ............................................. 151
35. Base Infiltration (part 4) ...................................... 157



Thing's I've ripped off in the making of this book:
Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America,
Charles Bukowski's Norman Chinaski
Hunter S. Thompson's Dr Gonzo,
Arab Strap - The Shy Retirer
Scroobius Pip The First Time I Met Musik
Eric Idle
Spike Milligan
Charlie Brooker
Smog In The Pines


rambling [ram-bling]
aimlessly wandering.
taking an irregular course; straggling: a rambling brook.
spread out irregularly in various directions: a rambling
straying from one subject to another; desultory: a
rambling novel.



Cover Story.

I laughed so much I had a stroke.

Two bottles of brown ale and one bottle of wine
down, I started on the brandy. It was as I took my
third, maybe fourth sip when Norm said it,
something so funny that the right hand side of my
skull shook as though tectonic plates in my cranium
were grinding against each other and, like two
sticks rubbing together, slowly creating a horrifically
painful fire in my brain.
It had snowed that day, the thought of lying
down and packing my head with snow became very
tempting. I'd heard of little tests you can do to
check the early signs of a stroke: lifting both arms;
talking without slurring your speech; looking for
signs of numbness on one side of the face. I tried
all these, but, being drunk, I couldn't tell the
difference between myself right then and myself
I summoned the power of the northerner within
me and just got on with it, after all, I had a stile to

I read a ramblers blog, Northern Pies, by Mike
Knipe. It's very good, I recommend you all read it,
it's partly because of his blog that I wrote this book.
I read quite a few different ramblers' accounts of
their works and always fancied doing it myself,
however I didn't have a car so couldn't drive off to
the Lake District or the Scottish Highlands at will
and 'bag' me a hill, One day I'm sure I'll have
bagged loads of them, I'm only young and have
plenty time, but if I started my own rambling blog
now it'd be pretty pathetic. I walk along the same
five or six footpaths each week, mainly because my
drinking buddy, Norman Chinaski, and I, both love
a good long walk.
Then I got thinking about my previous
adventures, starting as a kid when my great uncle
would take me with him on his walks, the times I
ran away from home after some paltry argument
with my mum and walked miles across the county
just to see how far I'd get. All the times I skived off
school and hid in the woods or a graveyard, the
epic walks to and from illegal raves in my late
teens, to now, when I don't need an excuse to just
go out for a walk anymore, I just do it because I
fancy it.
Plus I've got a posh camera now, there's an
excuse if I ever need one.
I finished this book in late 2012. Not long
before the world, according to the Mayans, was
supposed to end. Expecting an apocalypse is a
great frame of mind to be in when writing, I
fictionalized all the mundane bits of my journeys
and added dragon slaying or explosions* to liven
things up. Sometimes I'd just get bored with one
story and abruptly end it with no reason, but if
you're daft enough to read anything I've written
then you deserve bitter disappointment at the end
of a chapter every now and then.
In early January, 2013, I was reading Mike's
blog again and he posted a picture of a Public
Footpath sign that had been in an argument with "a
browny-orange coloured car", leaving it strewn
across a turnstile looking pretty battered. I'd already
decided on the title of this book being Rolling Over
Turnstiles as many of my best rambling memories
are of me, strewn across a stile of some sort,
looking pretty battered, so I sent him a message via
his blog and asked him where this was, He replied,
and later that week myself, Norm, a backpack full of
alcohol and a posh camera made the four-mile
round trip up one of the biggest hills in this awfully
hilly little town and took ~120 photos of me laid face
down in the snow after tripping over the sign.
Unfortunately, none of them were any good, but a
photo Norm took of me as we were leaving looked
alright, so I bunged that on the cover instead (after
an hour or so in Photoshop making the right hand
side of my face look a bit less red - if any of you are
looking to go in to modelling I advise you not to lie
face down in the freezing cold snow for ten minutes
before finally having your picture taken, it's a bit
The thing that caused my stroke? We were
talking about a band from the eighties, Spandau
Ballet, about how I'd recently discovered that
'Spandau' meant 'machine gun', and how that didn't
suit this 1980's New Romantic band at all. Norm
suggested that if this book were ever made into a
rock-opera (god forbid) then they could call it
Spandau Turnstiles. I laughed so much I had a
*No Dragons were harmed during the making of
this book, nor are there any explosions.



Spickle Rotley

Spickle Rotley is an awful place.
I should just end this bit there actually, save
your minds the trouble of having to read about such
an awful place.
But I must get it off my chest, I apologise in
Spickle Rotley is an awful place, the kind of
place where the dogs have an active role in the
community, not like in inuit colonies where the work
dogs are used to ferry everyone around on sleds,
or on a farm where they round up sheep and warn
of trespassers, no, the dogs of Spickle Rotley have
to, by law, every Tuesday afternoon at 2pm, take
over the roles that the humans have, such as post-
man, shop keeper, policeman etc., At the same
time, the humans of the town all have to go down to
the stream and fish for Killer Whales.
There are, of course, no Killer Whales in the
Spickle Rotley stream, there never has been, that
would be silly, but the people of Spickle Rotley
have upheld this tradition ever since a visiting
drunk, my good friend Norman Chinaski, whom I've
spoken of before, came here on a whim one
summer and decided to tell the local people a story
of how his forefathers had founded this little town,
and the local people believed it.
Norman had told me this story while we were
out fell-walking one June evening, I didn't believe
him, but just like the rest of his most unbelievable
stories it would one day turn out to be true.
I was on my way to see an old university
friend in Manchester when the coach stopped on
the A191216 just south of Burnington. The
gastrolithic contraptor in the bus' engine had
decided to stop working and needed repairing.
Not to worry said the driver They'll send
another coach out within the hour
The hour turned into two, then three, then it was
going to be an overnight thing and my adventurous
instincts told me to take the opportunity to go see
this bit of the country I'd never even heard of let
along been to. I had my tent with me so I wasn't
worried, other travellers stayed on the bus or
arranged for friends or family to come and get
them. I left them behind and headed towards
It wasn't until I'd walked about an hour and a
half up the road that I saw the Spickle Rotley sign,
My stomach sank, I immediately called Norman to
apologise and double check everything he'd said
was right so I didn't make a fool of myself, for it
was, in-fact, a Tuesday afternoon & I really wanted
to see this town run by dogs while the humans
absent-mindedly fish for killer whales in a 2-foot
Norman laughed at me.
'Of course I was lying you blithering idiot'

Of course he was.

I walked into the town and bought a chicken pie
and a chocolate bar from the shopkeeper, who
wasn't a dog. Obviously.



Kitty's Wood

I've spent twelve years frequenting this town,
spending nearly every Christmas here as well as a
few summers, and I'd never heard of Kitty's Wood.
Then, one night while getting drunk at a
friend's house, he mentions this 'Kitty's wood', I just
nodded in acknowledgement, ashamed to admit
that I wasn't a proper resident, but rather a tourist
who only really comes here when he's been kicked
out of everywhere else for further embarrassing
himself, wearing out his welcome, running out of
money or a mixture of all three.
I made a mental note to look it up, and as
soon as I'd woken up the next morning and had my
customary pint of hangover-killing water, I typed
Kitty's Wood into my internet machine.
Surprisingly, not a lot of porn sites came up,
I thought Kitty would be a great name for a porn
star. Although it would have to be a boy to achieve
'wood', but there's weirder things out there.
Anyway, lets not get distracted by
pornography this early in the story, there's plenty of
that to come later on,* sorry! So, I typed Kitty's
wood into the internet box and it lead me to a
rambler's blog, I'd read rambler's blogs before, I like
them, I know I'm young and hip (although I accept
that by referring to myself as 'hip' I immediately
alienate myself from the 'hip' community, but they
can all go and bugger themselves with their
iPhones and Death Cab For Cutie records) and
what have you but I do love a good rambler's blog
and this particular one had a devastating story to
tell me.

"!it's been sold by the County Council and,
suddenly, barbed wire entanglements and brush
and tree barricades have appeared and general
access is now not possible. As you can imagine,
the good people of Crook, Roddymoor and Billy
Row are a bit miffed about this and there are dark

So just as I discover there's a new place for me to
go and get drunk the council go and sell it to some
bastard who's blocked it off and stopped letting
people in. Mike, the blog's author, provided pictures
too, it didn't look very promising but I wanted to go
check it out myself, I loaded a map up on my phone
and waited for the shitty weather to pass and give
me a good day to go off exploring.
Then, while out one night, I found myself
having lots of excess energy just as everyone else
was going home, so I thought I'd go and do a recce
of the route. I had no alcohol left but this mysterious
burst of energy kept me in line & although I had a
coat with me I didn't wear it for the entirety of the 3
hour trek.

I got to the entrance to the wood and a group of
kids were leaving, If I wasn't intoxicated I'd not have
let them see me going into the woods alone,
however I was off my face and thought that they
probably thought I was too crazy to mug if I was the
kind of person who walks around, trespassing on
someone's woodland on a cold night while only
wearing a short sleeved shirt, and I was probably
talking/singing to myself, if not I was definitely
laughing away to myself at something funny I'd just
thought of.
I completely missed the entrance to the
wood. I walked within 6 feet of it but, as I would
discover when I returned in daylight, I walked
straight past it and followed a path that goes round
the outside. This was probably for the best seeing
as how there's a 4 foot drop down to a stream right
on the left-hand side of the path, I would definitely
have ended up in a steam that night.
I walked all around the circumference of the
wood before getting unbelievably tired at about
4am and turning round, the path was hellish boring
and I wasn't impressed at all. I went home and
slept like a baby, a baby who'd been out drinking all
night then went for a stupidly long walk in the early
hours of the morning.
A few days later the weather fared up and,
having exhausted all our other routes, Norman & I
decided to try out this wood. At first I'd changed my
mind, seeing as how the path I'd walked on was
long and boring and there wasn't even a seat or a
log to sit on, but further inspection of the aerial
photographs and the Ordinance Survey map lead
me to believe that I was stupid and had missed the
real path into the wood and instead followed a
boing old bridleway that didn't go anywhere exiting.
After a quick trip to the liquor pit we trekked
off into this unknown territory to see what all the
fuss was about.

The first stile, which I'd walked past and not
seen at all on my recce, wasn't blocked off at all,
someone must have knocked it down because I
saw a picture where it was definitely blocked off,
but no, we walked through it with no hassle. Then I
saw the stream and realized I hadn't walked that
way before. There was a waterfall, a small one, but
a waterfall none-the-less. Crook has a waterfall! a
fucking waterfall! in Crook! I was amazed, took a
photograph and carried on, thinking 'bugger me,
Crook has a waterfall'.

It does! it has a waterfall!

We carried on and sure enough all the other
blockades had been taken down and disposed of.
We found an opening into a field that had a lovely
view of the town so I took a few pictures then we
sat down to start our drinking. We'd earned it.
Just as we started relaxing it turned into a
horror movie. For the second time this summer a
group of horses appeared from out of nowhere and
made us aware of how unhappy they were to see
us. we jumped up and pegged it. Norman first, he's
a very nervous sort of character and really doesn't
like being chased by animals that are bigger than
him, me neither really, but I did take my time and
took the chance to get some pictures of the horses.
'My mum likes horses' I thought to myself,
'She'll like that'
We wandered on back into the woods and
sat down on the first log, it was on a hill and looked
like a good place to stop, we took some pictures of
the interesting litter and proceeded with the
Then, from nowhere, voices.
So much for a quiet woodland. We quickly
figured out it wasn't kids or murderers and decided
to stay sitting but I'd get my camera out so they'd
think I was a photographer out innocently taking
pictures, people don't like seeing young people
outside just drinking, they worry that we'll litter or
set fire to everything. I don't do that, I'm a
Their dog came over to talk to us as did the
owner, he seemed like a nice fella but we left after
a minute or two anyway, they sat strangely close to
where we were sat and that's not what I go outside
to do, sit near strangers, I ramble out into the
middle of nowhere to do exactly the opposite of
that, if I wanted to sit near strangers Id get a bus to
a town and sit in a coffee shop, but thatd be shit.
So along we went, we came to a clearing I'd
seen on the map, it wasn't as welcoming as I
thought it might be, it had no log to sit on, it was
simply a crossroads in the path, it was like driving
for miles and miles to go somewhere for a nice day
out then finding out that the place you were going
to was just a crossroads or a T-junction, so we
carried on. Soon we found a dried-up stream, we
jumped in and investigated, there we found an
interesting selection of items: a saw; a screwdriver;
a brick (this was particularly interesting to Norman,
he loves bricks, it had something on it which caught
his imagination, either a date or a town name or
something, I can't remember, I'm not really a brick
person, I like skies) and the innards of some kind of
1980's technology, perhaps an Amigas
Motherboard or something similar. We took the
items with us to a nearby log to play with them.
After a while of sawing through the log with
this rusty, blunt-as-a-cheeseburger saw we noticed
something in the distance, and more-surprisingly it
was only 10 feet away from us so we should really
have noticed it earlier, but I said 'distance' to make
us look a little more observant. It was a hole. A hole
in the ground, with a metal cover and a thing inside
it, a pipe or something, we had no idea what it was
but it was fascinating. Norman suggested we hide
our newly found items in there and it could be a
stash point for weaponry. This seems like a silly
idea but you won't be laughing when the impending
zombie apocalypse comes and you don't have a
stash of weaponry in some woods miles away from
the town.
We'll be laughing.
We're badass zombie slayers.
We're not afraid of anything

Then some kids turned up and started a
bonfire and we left because we were scared.

*There isnt


Base Infiltration 1:

Suddenly it was September.
It didn't feel like any September I'd ever
known. This would be the first September in twenty-
one years where I didn't have to be somewhere; I
didn't need a backpack, books, stationary and an
excuse to get out of doing anything remotely
physical. I'd been looking forward to this for so
long, and now here I am, stood in a street, listening
to the eerie silence. The sound of no kids.
My travels have taken me to the biggest cities
and the smallest hamlets, from London to
Ludworth, but no matter where I went there was
always this time of year when the streets were no
longer filled with screaming children running havoc
on the streets on their little scooters or BMX
bicycles. Some genius had come up with an
institution to lock these annoying little non-humans
in for a few months on the run up to Christmas
each year so their parents could go out and earn
enough money to buy them new scooters and BMX
bicycles for Christmas ready for the next summer,
where they could once again run havoc on the
streets on their little scooters or BMX bicycles.
I now had to time my walks so as not to coincide
with the time the schools let these kids out. I didn't
mind being out later, even though some of them are
still outside, but at around 3.30 each day they were
ALL out, standing at all the bus stops, outside all
the shops, sitting on all the benches, generally
using up all the things for an hour or two as if they
might not be there the next day.
Norman and I had taken a job walking dogs for
elderly people in the village. We told them it was
because we were broke and couldn't find proper
jobs, but in reality we were avoiding real jobs and
doing what we'd always done, wandering around,
enjoying the world. No one else seemed to be
doing it, the only time people went out was to
commute, which they didn't enjoy. The didn't enjoy
scraping the ice off their cars in the morning, they
didn't enjoy traffic on the way to work, roadworks
and diversions weren't a chance to detour, have an
adventure and spice up their daily routine, but they
were an inconvenience, taking them away from
what they should be doing, being annoyed at the
traffic on the same road they'd always been
annoyed at the traffic on.
So Norman & I decided to restore some balance
and go out and enjoy the world, I'd read of
ramblers, pensioners with so much time on their
hands they could drive off to a beauty spot and
walk 10 miles around it. I never quite understood it
but I was always intrigued by the explorative part of
it. I didn't have a car though so I could only walk
around near where I lived, which was okay because
I'd lived all over, my dis-jointed career choice had
lead me all over the place, because I could,
because I didn't have somewhere to commute to
the next day. There wasn't a traffic jam in Widness
missing me.
So we walked dogs.
This put us in very good standing in the
community, we didn't socialise much, but the
people that did know us thought we were lovely.
How could we not be? We walked dogs, dogs are
lovely, we must be lovely. We'd return with pictures
of the dogs having fun, the fatter dogs would slowly
get thinner and healthier, their owners loved us and
told all their friends how much they loved us. Not to
mention all the conversations we had with girls in
the park who were also walking their dogs. We
were good lads, lovely lads.
Little did they know our true intentions.

While returning from a boozy night-time ramble
one night (without the dogs, of course) we heard
the distinct sound of children coming from through
the trees, across the stream.
It was about 10pm, way after children O'Clock,
and it was raining lightly, so they must have some
kind of shelter, across the stream, in those trees.
This could only mean one thing.
They must have a den!
As we walked further we kept spotting a light
coming through the leaves of the trees, very dim,
as though it were behind something, we imagined a
tent or an awning of some sort, but they had light.
We heard that faint tinny-sounding music which
kids play on their mobile phones. They seemed to
have a den a hundred times better than the one's
we made when we were that age. Norman & I
shared stories about how cool our dens were, his
had trip-wires and boobie-traps, mine had little
race-tracks for toy cars built in the mud and secret
drawers and 'vaults'.
I bet this den wasn't as imaginative as ours.
So we used the dogs, these lovely little dogs
that made everyone think we were lovely little dog
walkers, as an excuse to infiltrate these dens in the
daytime, when the kids were all at school and their
Bases were left unattended, open to attack from
enemy den-makers.
On day one Norman crossed the stream and
took pictures, I stayed as look-out, mainly because
the dogs couldn't cross the stream and they'd run
off otherwise. He returned with photos of wooden
walls, a window and a lockable door, strangely left
If this was our den that'd be locked at all times,
with extra re-enforcements and security measures.
Then he showed me the pictures of the interior.
They had couches, two of them, two three-seater
couches, with cushions, proper couch cushions,
then two chairs, I looked closer, there was a
A carpet!
We noticed it was nearly home-time for these
kids so we left everything as we'd found it and
decided to return with a plan.
We could just leave them be, let them have
their den and pretend we'd never seen it.
But that would be admitting defeat...



King of my hill

I found this song amongst Normans belongings
after the accident. Dont quite know what to make
of it.
I remember the night fondly, He met a girl, a really
nice girl, but he was just getting over his last girl so
he turned her down in favour of drinking with the
I'll let him tell you the story:

I came downtown with a bottle of brown and I've
come around to talk to you
All I want back is my black backpack and perhaps a
sly look at your boob
Tell me a story of how you adore me and how you
really want me back
Well the joke's on you, bitch, you haven't got a clue
and a ba-da-ba-ba-bla-ha-ma-gah

Darlin I'm the king of my hill
Join me on the top of my hill
Maybe you could teach me to sing

When the snow goes from the wear meadows and
the sun is out, the sky is blue,
Honest-a-ly the last thing I wanna see is a photo of
a picture of you.
Kickin a ball with a know it all who calls a spade a
We meet a nice lass with a damn fine ass, a wah-

Friday night and I'm where that kid died, drunk and
I'm talking to my friends.
Supposed to be going up to see you at the Colliery
but nothing happens.
We hear karaoke coming from behind a tree, we
didn't even bring a guitar
There's dirt on the path see, so we leave early,
make our way back to the car

Watchin football 'cause I aint got fuck all else I
gotta be doing to me
You're not impressed that I didn't even text for the
weekend or the whole week
I've written you novels girl, deleted it all girl, you
don't deserve my shit to read
And if you hear this, well you're gonna get pissed,
cuz I think you're a gah-bla-jha-fee

Darlin I'm the king of my hill
Join me on the top of my hill
Don't be so expectant until
You can promise you can fulfill
You'll be here in stockings and kink
!and you'll join me back on my hill



Over Exposed

The trees are getting narrower. The spaces
between them is growing, then shrinking.
Are they getting fatter too?
They were just then, not so much now.
THERE! did you see that? they got thinner a
bit then.
Who's that? oh it's just a tree, I swear it

Grotesque imagery flows through my eyes
like paint mixing in water. Droplets of colour intwine
with the colourless skies flooding my eyes with
Am I overexposed? I could well be. This one
time I was out of focus for hours, people kept telling
me I was blurry and they couldn't quite make out
the little details on my face or on my outline. It
wasn't until later that night that people said they
could see me clearly. We've not talked about it
much since then, it was weird though, dogs barked
at me when I passed them, I felt fuzzy but I thought
I was okay, when I looked at my hand, I could see it
clearly, we attributed this to my eyes being blurry
But this, this is different. I'm bleached with
light, even when I stand in the shade. I don't trust
mirrors but even in then there seems to be an odd
contrast between my skin and the trees behind me.
I am, I'm overexposed.

I walk towards the sun, up a gully-like hill
towards the light. I get to the top, sweating and very
tired. The sun isn't there, it was a reflection of
myself, I'm giving off so much light I can't see the
sun. I ask passers-by and they point at the sun but
it too is a reflection of me.
I pass a slim, beautiful woman wearing a
thin, black scarf, it's quite wide, about 2 feet wide
and 6 feet long, she wraps it around her head,
perhaps for sun protection, I ask if I can borrow it to
maybe act as a diffuser or filter and when I pull it
over my head she mutters something.
'Pardon?' I ask, not being able to make out her
'I was just shocked, you have nice eyes' she
replied, sweetly.
I guess the veil is working, but this is unacceptable,
I thank her but tell her I need help, I can't just walk
off with her scarf simply because I'm overexposed.
She says it's fine.
What if I go with you back into town and give
you it back when I get there? I ask, partly worried
about my current High-key lighting problem, partly
wanting to spend more time with her.
'I'd like that' she says, smiling. We walk off back
down the hill and toward the bridleway, I wonder
what'd happen if we kissed, she had a dark skin
tone, perhaps Italian or from somewhere like that, I
don't know, I've not heard her talk much yet, would
she kiss an overexposed man, am I hurting her
I worry far too much normally, but this, this is
something to worry about, surely, I'm really bright
right now, I've never heard of anyone being like
this, not outside of a photograph anyway.
I wonder how I can get into my settings, do I
have an f- stop? Surely to change the aperture of
me I need to configure everyone else's eyes? Are
they opening up for too long and letting too much
light in? No, that's absurd.
We walk for hours and we're still in the same bit
of the woods. I try to remember anything we'd
talked about while we were there but I can't
remember anything since she let me have her
God, that was days ago now.
I look around, she's gone.
I'm not even in the woods, I'm on a grass verge
next to my local pub, laid with my head in a hedge.

Oh, right...



Eating out

Aside from freeganism (living off of the food other
people throw out, since people throw out so much
good food) foraging for food is probably the best
way to eat when you're a walker of the earth, rather
than a sitter on the couch and a shopper of the
supermarket. Without the constraints of the modern
kitchen food gets a lot more interesting, I wish I'd
done a lot more foraging, hunting and gathering
while on my adventures but, alas, packing Bovril
sandwiches and an apple is just so much easier.
Bigger trips get more interesting, whenever I'm
going to be out for a day or two I make a load of
sandwiches out of up to a whole loaf of bread, then
re-pack it into the breads original packaging and
suddenly it's a loaf of sandwiches, beautiful!
One time, when in Scotland, I managed to live
entirely off of food from one take-away which
people had ordered but either not turned up for or
left behind after they'd left (the un-touched stuff, of
course) You'd be surprised how many people order
burger & chips, eat the burger, eat a couple of
chips then leave it there.
Not a lot of shop staff would be happy with you
doing this but I'd made friends with the staff in one
place (it helps to be interesting or entertaining, I am
neither, but I can act!) & they seemed to enjoy my
Making friends is an essential part of living in a
city if you can't afford food, if you have friends you'll
never be hungry. I go to Scotland every year with
very little money and barely ever pay for food, yet
I've been invited to people's houses and had
massive dinners cooked for me, had kebabs and
pies bought for me and even been invited to a
restaurant with one group of actors from New York,
but that's material for another chapter.
One of the best parts of roaming the earth
freely is all the food that's just growing out of the
ground or on trees, unfortunately I've not been to
many places where much grows, but I've had many
a good meal that consisted of blackberries or
raspberries. My favourite has to be my carrier-du-
berrie - a carrier bag full of blackberries I picked
one morning, I tied it up, repeatedly swung it at the
trunk of a tree for half an hour until the berries had
all crushed up, I added some crumbled fruit
shortcake biscuits (I admit these didn't grow
naturally, but I always carry biscuits in my holster) I
cut a hole in the bottom of the bag, laid on my back
and squirted it into my mouth. Absolute heaven,
this made for two very good meals on that
particular trip.
I wish I had better stories of my foraging but
again, this is England, it's very hard not to just get a
15p packet of biscuits and eat them all in one sitting
(I never claimed I was healthy)



Fringe (part 1)

The best thing about Scotland is clearly the fringe
comedy festival, in Scotland's beautiful capital
city, Edinburgh. Anyone who's been will agree
immediately, but I bet you stayed in a hotel or in an
extortionately priced shared house with other
people who are there flushing their money down a
toilet by taking a production of an awful children's
(I did that my first year, though I should add
that I wasn't in the play, and it wasn't 'awful')
Anyway, the story of the my first year at the
Edinburgh fringe isn't suitable for this book, as I
lived in a lovely big house with lots of friends, drank
expensive wine and ate cooked food all the time
with my lovely (now ex) girlfriend. That story
belongs in a much more bitter, resentful and
regretfully forlorn book. This chapter's going to be
about my second year.
After being bitten by the festival bug, I decided I
had to return the next year. There's so many free
shows on it would be stupid not to go, and I'm a
weathered professional at living cheaply and living
outdoors in both cities and the countryside, of
which Edinburgh is both.
I packed my tent, a blanket, my trusty (cheap
knock-off of a) swiss army knife, a few shirts (if
sleeping rough, always wear a shirt, you'll get away
with so much and no-one will suspect youre a bum
if youre dressed smartly) & changes of underwear
& I got on the trusty Megabus with just 40 in my
On previous trips to the city I'd scoped good
places to pitch a tent and found somewhere 20
minutes from the city centre, just far enough out to
not be seen (although I've moved further out on
more recent visits due to paranoia, but your first
choice is never the best) but not too far to walk at
4am when you're off your face and can barely
remember your name let alone where you stashed
your tent.
The tent I had back then was an unfortunately
bright red colour, this is no good so after pitching it I
thatched it in loads of thick branches, it was
summer so they still ha their leaves on, I then
covered the whole thing in long grass and viola,
perfect camouflage. I was so proud of myself, I felt
like a proper adventurer! However this didn't last
long, after a few nights it was minging and one of
the main reasons I left after 10 days & didn't stay
the whole month.
After pitching the 'perfect' secluded tent I went
shopping. I'd brought enough food for a few days
but I found a cheap food shop and treat myself to a
carrier bag full of food for just 7 which would last
me the whole 10 days. I had tinned meat (with a
ring-pull, I didn't have a can opener) fruit, bread
and lots and lots of biscuits. lots of biscuits.
Biscuits are probably my main tip for a cheap
trip to the fringe. The free shows are indeed free
but the performers stand at the back with a bucket
at the end asking for donations. There are much
worse comedians than them doing shows for 20+
in the big venues, but if I was to give all the free
performers I saw even a fiver I'd need at least
300, I wish I could, I really do, I have a lot of
respect for the free fringe performers, which is why
I always wait until everyone in the audience has left
before going up to the performer, apologising for
having no money, then offer them a biscuit. I've
never had so much as a dirty look from any
performers; in fact one group of Australian
comedians gave me money! The conversation
rarely ends there, I've often gone on to spend the
rest of the day or night with them, if you're lucky
they may even buy you a drink, but I've always got
the drinking bit covered anyway, there's a cheap
orange cider in Scotland called Amber Jacks, it's
bloody lovely and for 4.19 you can get off your
face, but not too smashed you can't find your tent in
the morning.
After a while you will need to wash, I always
carry soap with me but in the first day or two of
being there you'll find the best toilets in the city
pretty easily, I'd tell you mine but I'll be using them
next year & I don't want anyone telling on me (not
that anyone's reading this, other than maybe my
mum, Hi mum!)
The only tip I have for washing, as you've
probably got plenty washing experience yourself, is
to be thorough, you never know when you'll next be
sat in a hot comedy club with no air conditioning
and a beautiful member of the opposite sex comes
and sits next to you, your smell can be an instant
decider on that one, be prepared!
After I'd settled into the city I found myself
talking to anyone & everyone, I made great friends
for life and soon found lots of people who didn't like
me too. Some people are very good at not letting
you know which camp they're in.
Take Brutus, for example, that's not his real
name, I can't remember his real name, don't really
care to, but he was about six foot nine and twenty
stone, he came over to me as I sat on a bench
enjoying the night and asked if I smoked, I said
'okay' to be sociable and he immediately started
telling me how he's just gotten out of a Spanish
prison after serving 9 years and 9 days (their
sentences are like that, apparently) for killing
'Splendid' I thought.
Unfortunately, before telling me this, he'd
gifted me a bottle of Buckfast so I'd have felt rude
leaving. That bottle, might I add, came from the
inside pocket of his coat, after taking a sip I offered
it back to him and he said 'nae mate I've got one'
before pulling a half empty bottle out from between
his arse cheeks. But that wasn't worrying me, that
was his bottle, my bottle came to me full and the
cap had never been opened. I was more worried
about this giant murderer befriending me. Did I
mention he had no front teeth? A lot of this book is
fictionalised, loosely based on fact then
embellished for my own amusement, because it's
funny writing about Spickle Rotley or being over
exposed, but this bit's true. Ask any Scottish person
and they'll say 'Aye, probably' anyway, the place is
full of them!
So after a while of getting to know each other
things got rowdy and he started shouting at a group
of clearly underage girls on a nearby bench, he
went over to torment them & I started drinking the
Buckfast at super speed so I'd feel better about
leaving. I'd made other friends in this part of the city
over the time I'd been there and some of them
came over to talk to me about what shows I had
seen & what shows I was going to go see, I told
them I was looking forward to seeing a comedian
called Chris Cross who I make a point of seeing
every year. Next thing I know a 15 year old girl is
attacking Brutus for asking her to sit on his knee,
15 year old scottish girls have a lot more balls than
me, I'd have just sat on his knee and cried. She hit
him. He hit her back, a group of lads saw this and
came over & kicked the shit out of him. At one point
he looked over to me & shouted something in an
accent I didn't understand, I presume he was
asking me to jump in & help.
Right then a lad I'd only just met said "D'ya
wannae go see this Cross fella then"
"What?" I said, still thinking about Brutus
"Fucking come on mate, you're dead if you hang
around here" he said, grabbing me & pulling me up.
I didn't argue. We went to the show & had a bloody
good night. He bought me a couple of pints too, I'll
never forget that lad.
Though I can't for the life of me remember
his name, but I was very drunk.
So, the moral of the story is... I don't know,
something about free drinks. It was great

That was just one night, every night was as good
as that, don't let that put you off, I've never had a
bad experience in Edinburgh, there's more good
folk in the world than there are bad, and as long as
you've got your head screwed on and you're not a
miserable git you'll have a good time.
For instance, on my final day I woke up in
my soaking wet, bug infested tent (a problem I
overcame at the following Edinburgh festivals) &
decided It was time to go home, I booked a
Megabus ticket at an internet cafe (I had to, my
phone had been out of action for a few days, I
awoke one morning to find it soaking wet in a
puddle outside my tent. Broken phones are a
recurring theme for me at the fringe, the previous
year I smashed a phone off a concrete curb at the
bottom of a big grassy hill when I, very cleverly, slid
all the way down it while presumably showing off to
some girls or something, I can't remember, but
that's the most likely story) and headed to the
station. There was a two hour wait before my bus
Now there are two busses to London, One that
goes to Newcastle, where I was heading, and a
direct one that goes down the other side of the
country and doesn't stop. The 'direct' bus. Guess
which one the conductor ushered me onto?
I was passing Keele service station when the
realisation began to take hold. I asked the driver if
this was definitely my bus, funnily enough it wasn't.
Funnily enough I was hundred of miles across the
other side of the country, with no money, no phone,
very little food and very little hope.
I laughed. Quite a lot, it probably looked weird to
everyone else, like I was over reacting, but I
genuinely found it that funny.
The driver let me off the bus at the service
station and wished me luck. I sat near the coach
station and hoped there'd be a cross country bus I
could jump on and just forget it had happened,
perhaps if I never told anyone I'd soon forget about
it and just tell people about all the funny comedians
I'd seen, all the crazy people I'd met, remember
Brutus? That was funny wasn't it?
I asked every coach driver who pulled up if he
was, by any chance, going across the country to
the northeast. It soon became apparent that this
wasn't a route to the northeast.
A worker from a fast food shop in the service
station came out for his cigarette break. He let me
use his phone so I could ring home & tell them why
I wasn't there yet, and where I was.
On his next cigarette break he brought me a
marker pen and a bit of cardboard. I wrote 'NORTH
EAST' on it & stood at the entrance to the
motorway for 3 more hours.
It got dark.
Then, like an angel descending from heaven, I
saw a coach with a familiar name on it. I didn't
know where I knew the name from, but the
company name, 'Thinglands' rung a bell.
'You wouldn't be going to the north east would
you mate?' I begged
'No mate, sorry, just Manchester'
Then I remembered. I had a house in
Well, not a house, not technically, but I was a
student there, and although this was August there
were still people living in my student house there.
People I knew. People who'd let me in and feed me
and let me have a bath and... My bed! A much
better bed than the one I had in Newcastle, this
was a double bed, with 2 mattresses (I'd acquired
one from another student when they moved out and
put it under mine. over the next year I would
eventually have 3 mattresses on my bed, that'd
officially the amount of mattresses that make a bed
into a fluffy cloud in heaven)
I explained my predicament to the driver and he
let me ride back to Manchester with him. To make it
that little bit better their depot was really close to
my house.
By midnight I was home, I washed, I was talking
to my old housemates and a couple of new ones.
Loads of my things were still there that I'd left there
for the summer, and my landlord HADN'T rented
my room out for the summer like he said he would,
so I got to sleep in my own bed.
Best 10 days of my life.
Well, until the next summer...



Internal rambling

When I was about 16 I contracted glandular fever. I
wasn't allowed to go outside and have adventures
the way I wanted because it was contagious; I'm
stuck, quarantined in a little room off the side of
ward 13 waiting to be operated on. I thought to
'Ward 13, what a lucky number'

Anaesthetised, going under.
Snook some food in 'cause I'm not allowed to eat
I feel sorry for the doctor, that'll be a treat
when halfway thru a textbook operation
I puke up all over him & cause a botheration.
It didn't happen tho, but while I was asleep
I fell into something from a cliff so steep
You caught me as always & taught me to dance
I was an unwilling student but u gave me a chance
You told me not to worry & I said I never do.
Then I woke up & forgot about you
I remembered the fall, the dance & the feeling
I thought about the point, tried to find the meaning
But all I wanna know right now is who YOU were
I know that I knew you, you seemed familiar
It's 5 hours on, I'm on the road to recovery
but somethings missing I need the discovery
I look to my left to the bed next to me
at the man with 1 leg & a bag for his wee
but hang on, now his form had shifted
to a beautiful lady, my eyebrow lifted
I thought there was trickery going on in my mind
she responded to that thought, said she WAS my
she said 'come with me, we'll go for a ride
slip into your thoughts, I'll join you inside'
- I had nothing to do that day outside of my head
so I decided to close my eyes & slip away instead
It wasn't a long ride, I was there in a flash, I saw my
insides & they looked canny mashed
We drove past my sight, my sense of smell and
electric jolts told me what I was feeling
less technical than I thought, we sped along this
not a clue if I was going the right way
but we got to this house & I knew it was mine
it was both classical & modern in design.
We got to the gate, asked the guy to let us in
kinda recognised him, he was scrawny & thin
he reminded me of me, thats a job I could have
if I wasn't that creative & would work for anyone
I got dropped off & walked around the garden,
under a tree I found Lord Byron
he was writing a play but wouldn't let me see
he said I'd be sick of it eventually
I carried on along a crazy paved path
in the pond were some ladies taking a bath
3 of my ex girlfriends from when I was a teen
they didn't talk much, just looked angry,
banished from my house apparently by me
I apologised & invited them back in
they said its too late, never again
I carried on walking & learnt not to get tied
so a so called love that had clearly died
so I wandered up a hill to what I thought as my
as I went to go in another bloke ran out
I squinted my eyes until I could see
the guy running out was, in fact, me.
It wasn't long ago, I looked about nineteen
but why was I running, what had I seen?
things got weird, the atmosphere unsteady
should I go inside? I don't think I'm ready.
A voice from above said "if u don't you'll regret that"
I looked up & there was my faithful pet parrot
I knew I could trust what I saw before me
he's like my best friend, only he never bit me.
As I pushed the door I heard a little jingle
recognised the tune, think I'd bought the single
I forgot what it was so I just went in
in the hallway was Blake, & he was writing
I said "Hiya William, what u writing? do tell"
he said "The Human Image" I said "I remember it
He asked "What rhymes with 'Cruelty would be no
I replied "If we did not make somebody poor"
I didn't know what to think, it was canny absurd
I taught him his own words & felt like a fraud
I carried on thru the parlour into the kitchen
my Gran was cooking & singing, I stopped & had a
What a beautiful voice, I must tell her someday
but thats not why I'm here so I went on my way
up a spiral staircase 'til I got to the top
from the end of the hall a voice said 'stop'
A sepia goddess stood in front of me,
it pained me to think it was only a dream
I knew this was the girl with whom I'd spend my
but she told me not to wait, it'd be ages 'til I met
Put two & two together & slowly realized
This was the girl I'd seen when I was
Her beauty was eccentric though somehow modest
hair was wild like the darkest, deepest of forests
many before me will fall at her feet and die
but this night she's dissect me & show me inside
'cause she's the only person with the key to my
until I meet her again I'll always be blind.
I asked 'Why now? why are we here?
She said 'hmm, ok I'll tell u, dear'
I'm here, right, for the good of your health,
see, before we get to meet you're gonna try & kill
I thought if I met u now, things would be different.
You'll spend some years down, heartbroken & skint
I somehow understood & believed every word
no matter how crazy & blatantly absurd.
I moved forward to reach out & touch her
But she disappeared as I got closer.
I stood wide eyed, my mind now clear.
Felt immortal, had nothing to fear.
Went back downstairs & toward the door
but there's icing on my cake, the story had more
I walked past a room, saw a therapeutic bed.
Stood at it was my mum, massaging my head
Although I was represented by lots of little lights
unorganised & hectic but she's putting them right.
I thought 'I should thank her' but she knows the
& its time for more painkillers, I should be heading
I got about as far as the door,
had a look outside, the car's not there no more
I realized it's 'cause of what I didn't do before.
You should always make time to thank your
So I went back in & she was no longer there
It was then I learnt she didn't have to be there.
She'll always know I'm thankful no matter where
she's at
but its the thought that counts so I turned & went
to the front door & sure enough theres the car
the parrot flew onto my shoulder & shouted in my
There's a pause
"SALISBURY!, wake up, its time to take
your tablets & I need to check your blood pressure
again, come on now, wake up."
"Erm. Aww man" I grunt
"Wake up, come on now!" insists the nurse.
"Aye man"

I woke up & smiled, didn't have a clue why.



Born to roam

After my first day at Nursery school I got home,
waited until mum wasn't looking, and embarked on
my first big trek. I crossed the estate, all by myself,
and went back to nursery to play on the swings and
in the sand pit. I was missing for hours until my
dog, Mel, found me.
I'd always had dogs, I'd always walked dogs.
Most of my favourite parts of growing up were on
dog walks, exploring new places in the area I lived,
places I'd never have normally found. I remember
once, when angry at my mum for something which
was probably just childish I got up early, filled a
pillowcase with dog food and my action figures, I
grabbed the dogs and ran away to begin my life on
the road.
I had such big plans.
First we were going to hitch a ride on the
back of one of those big pick-up trucks you see in
American films with a man called Butch or Cletus,
he was going to take us to a town where I'd find
work at a shop, preferably a sweet shop or a toy
shop. I was going to lie about my age and get a
girlfriend, go to the bar, get into fights with the son
of the local mechanic over who was better, Batman
or Superman. I'd eventually have to leave the town
& I'd trek for miles across the desert until I found an
old Chinese man in the woods who looked like Mr
Miyagi and knew karate like Mr Miyagi and would
teach me karate like Mr Miyagi teaches the Karate
Kid karate. Eventually, when ready, I was going to
go to a city, get a job, probably as a Ghostbuster or
with the TV Station April O'Neil worked at. There I'd
spend my life helping people, eventually I'd do
something that was so nice, like save the city from
a baddie, that I'd be on the news, the word 'Hero'
scrolling across the screen. And my mum would be
at home watching, That'd teach her to tell me off for
being naughty, I'm a Goodie. I fighted the baddies
and won.
I had it all planned out.
I started my new life by going to the field
behind my house, this was visible from the upstairs
windows of my house though so I quickly crossed
the field to a hill known locally as the 'rabbit hill',
where no-one ever saw any rabbits, and went just
down it enough so I'd not be seen.
I'd made it, I was out of sight of the house, and
what's best is that mum probably wasn't even
awake yet, so I had this much of a head start at
least. I deserved a break.
I unpacked my action figures from my
pillowcase; a Ninja Turtle, Batman, three of the four
Ghostbusters and a random, un-branded cowboy
who always seemed to think he was cool enough to
hang out with a Ninja Turtle, Batman & three of the
4 Ghostbusters. Silly cowboy.
I played here until I got bored, I offered the dogs
some food but it was the hard, dry kind that you
need to add hot water to so they wouldn't eat it. It
wasn't looking very good for us. I decided to
postpone the rest of my life until further notice & I
was back home within an hour of absconding.
Luckily my mum wasn't even awake yet.
My real adventures started with my uncle
David though, he'd drive us out somewhere, park
up, we'd go for really long walks where he'd teach
me all sorts of things about my home county that I'd
never have known if it wasn't for him. He taught me
to fish, although all I caught was a Luke Skywalker
figure, which, years after his death, I learned he'd
found in some mud in the woods somewhere and
tied to my line before helping me cast it into the
river. I don't think he wanted me to leave there
empty handed.
After he passed I carried on walking, whether
with dogs, friends, on my own or indeed 'running
away from home' - which I did quite a lot. I was a
right little shit.



The G8 Riots

Another story, another Megabus journey to
This one was supposed to be different, I
wasn't going with just a tent and a hope, I actually
had somewhere to stay, with someone who had a
car, I probably wouldn't have to walk around very
much at all, obviously there'd be trips to the shops
or maybe around the town, or to the toilet, but as
for spending a whole day walking around exploring
things, there'd simply be no need.
I was up there visiting my mum, who was
teaching English as a foreign language to people in
a really posh boarding school somewhere on the
outskirts of the city. The grounds of the school were
gorgeous, big open gardens I spent a long time
walking around, daydreaming, I didn't need to go
off exploring because the gardens were vast
enough to tire me out without losing sight of the
After a day or two in this big posh building I
wanted to go off for an explore, I'd never been to
Edinburgh before (I was about 16 or something,
this was long before I'd discovered the comedy
festival) so I asked if I could go explore the city. My
mum was very weary of me going to a city on my
own, the last time I'd done this was in London
where I bought a large bag of magic mushrooms
(they were legal in this country back then) and
ended up getting lost after following a mischievous
fairy along the canal from Camden Lock to god-
knows-where. She was understandably worried but,
being a good mum, she dropped me off in the city
and gave me enough money to get the bus back.
I loved the place immediately, it was like
wonderland to me, there's streets built above
streets with bridges above them, a seemingly
endless amount of record shops and alternative
boutiques, I read so many album track-lists and
inlays, 'If I were rich' I thought 'I'd be poor within the
hour here'. I'd have bought the whole city if I could.
After walking around the smaller, more
interesting streets I headed to one of the big
shopping streets, the one with all the chain stores
on, Princes street, I got half way down it before
seeing the time, probably time to leave. I look on
my little map, printed on the back of a tourist leaflet,
and get my bearings, I was walking away from the
bus station, great, I turned around and immediately
heard sirens.
This wasn't a good sign.
Six police riot vans sped down the street, I
was stood in the central reservation of a very wide
street, I stayed there until they flew past me, but
they stopped about thirty feet away from me,
between me and the bus station, formed 2 lines
across the road and stopped letting people past.
This wasn't a good sign either.
I asked one of the policemen what was
going on, he said something that sounded like a
code. The 2000 and something G8 UN world
leader's summit at Glen Eagles' house, or
something like that. This sounded like MI6 jargon to
me from a Bond movie, I didn't really read
newspapers when I was 15 so I didn't know what
while I was in Scotland, all the presidents, prime
ministers, dictators, gods and warlocks from all the
different countries around the world were also here,
having a right good piss-up just up the road.
'Splendid!' I thought, 'I'll go try and blag a pint off
them, they're all right, there's probably a wine table
where you can just help yourself, or a waiter
walking round with a tray with loads of glasses of
wine on, why aye!'
Then I heard drums. A faint drum beat coming
from the opposite end of the street to where the
Police were standing, ready to do their line-dancing
or something, I don't know, I'd seen Scotland on the
telly and they like standing in lines and marching
about, maybe this would be like that, maybe I'd be
on telly!
The drumming got louder, there were
whistles, being whistled, by whistlers! As they got
closer I saw they were all dressed up, the Clown
Army were there, I'd read about these,
hippies/protest folk who went around the world to
wherever there was something to protest about,
and they dressed up as clowns, and... I don't know
what else, that's as much as I remember, but I'm
sue they do something. Black Bloc were there too,
these are protesters who dress all in black and...
bloc things? again, I don't know, but they looked
serious, they had scarves covering their faces,
black ones, and their hoods up over their heads,
black ones! (hoods, I don't know what colour their
heads were, I talked to one who sounded eastern-
European and another couple of Scottish ones, so
they're probably a multi-cultural group, ...Just like
all the guests at the world leaders' summit! maybe
they should meet, they'd probably have a lot of
good ideas to share!) Some had back flags, one
climbed up a drainpipe about 3 storeys up to wave
his flag about.
The rest were just normal hippies, I could smell
Marijuana everywhere, even though the police were
just a few feet away, people were smoking drugs
on the high street in front of policemen and nobody
was doing anything about it! As a fifteen year old
this was mental, especially since earlier that year I
saw someone get a 30 fine for spitting chewing
gum on the path back home, and I was only two
hours up the road.
I mingled around talking to hippies for an hour or
so, it was fun, I didn't think about just going down a
side street and around to the bus station, I thought I
was trapped so I might as well enjoy it, I found a
shop that didn't ask my age so I bought some wine
and immersed myself in the protest.
The Clown Army probably did my favourite
thing of the day, they gathered around in a very
tight circle, not too far from the police, and
someone started screaming. Soon everyone was
looking and there was a definite concern. After a
while the line of policemen broke to let through a
group of six or seven policemen and a paramedic,
the policemen guarding the paramedic in a
formation and pushing people out of the way, as
soon as they got to the circle of clowns the circle
spun out, waving their hands around like they're in
the final scene of a musical, and a small, female
clown rose up from the centre of the circle with a
feather duster, & everyone around went 'aah' and
'ooh'. It was very theatrical and certainly tickled me,
a fine example of peaceful protesting.
There was also a streaker, but where as I'd
thought a streaker just ran in naked then ran away,
the police weren't doing anything about him, so
there was just this ever-present middle-aged naked
man walking around. It was funny for a bit,
especially when he did a wee up against Marks &
Spencer's. I still giggle every time I walk past that
The fun soon ended though, one of Black
Block threw a smoke grenade over the line of
policemen & it landed in an ambulance, it was
interesting to look at, a smoking ambulance, but I'm
not much of an anarchist & think ambulances are
probably more useful when they're not full of
smoke, and the smoke might have been toxic,
rendering all the insides of the ambulance useless
for poorly people. Black Bloc - inconsiderate sods!
A group of policemen saw the grenade-
chucker & chased him through the crowd, pushing
hippies out of the way (who were presumably weak
vegetarians anyway). The protester ran through a
small gate into Princess Street Gardens and
disappeared into the crowd, the police couldn't get
into the adjacent gardens because of a fence of
hippies, which had formed to protect their friend
from persecution. I saw all this from the top of a bus
stop which I'd climbed onto with Norman, who I
bumped into in the crowd, he was really buzzing off
the protest vibe and heard this would be a good
place to find loose women. Oh Norman!
We sat atop the bus stop until the police line
advanced and moved all the hippies up to the other
end of the street, I let the police line pass, jumped
off the bus stop and went to the bus station.
Norman went off to some girl's house. Jammy get.



Beachy Head

Another trip that starts on a Megabus.
A number of Megabusses in fact. Don't ask me
how many, This was a long time ago, back before
I'd lost Poison Ivy for good, but during the period
where it was all coming to an end.
I was feeling down one night, wallowing in my
own pity and drinking much more than I normally
would, I was in Manchester so I was alone and had
no-one to tell me when things weren't a good idea.
My memory of the time is a slushy mix of pubs that
sell their own fluorescent orange moonshine,
money being earned in seedy hotel rooms and at
the end of unsuccessful nights out I'd resort to
pulling girls in the gay village, (wannabe
lesbians/bisexual girls are easy) or in the A&E
department, there's always a crazy girl wanting
attention in there.
Anyway, No-one told me it wasn't a good idea to
go to Beachy Head. No-one was stood over me
while I was googling popular suicide spots, tutting
I read stories of the victims, the families, the
taxi drivers with special panic buttons to the local
police if they think someone's going to kill
themselves, the local pub landlord who see's
people come in wreaking of sadness, order their
drinks, then sit alone in a quiet corner, crying.
'Imagine going there!' I thought.
I got excited, this was my kind of holiday
destination. Imagine the atmosphere. Imagine
sitting on the cliff-edge and swinging your legs off
the side, feeling the wind gently blowing at you, like
an evil friend with their arm around you, slowly
trying to push you off the cliff. What would it be like
talking to that landlord, Getting off my face, alone in
his pub, constantly toying with his conscience,
Would he serve me? if I sat at the bar and talked
normally, didn't act miserable, would he believe I
was just there as an intrigued visitor or would he
think I'm a suicide tourist?
More to the point, would I believe it? I'm either
really interested in the place and have no intentions
of killing myself, or I've every intention of jumping
off the cliff and I'm not interested in anyone else's
problems at all.
The more I ask myself the more it seems
obvious that I'm planning on jumping to my death.
How absurd.
I book the bus tickets immediately.
It's 12.30am. The next bus is at 4.30am, I'm
wide awake, I'll make it. it's a 2 hour walk to the
station, I'll draw up maps (I don't have a printer but I
have a pen & pencil, which is just the same) I pack
my tent, a small blanket, some sandwiches, a book,
my trusty swiss army knife (or a cheap knock-off
thereof) and my sewing kit. and I start reading more
stories of this grim destination.
I slept on the bus, tired from the 2 hour walk, I
woke up not knowing where I was, I find the hand-
drawn map in my pocket and remember where I am
and what it is Im doing, Im going to a notorious
suicide spot to not kill myself.
This is how I get over a broken relationship.
It all stared with an email from Poison Ivy
and now, here I am hundreds of miles away and
I've not even brought a coat. What am I doing? This
was great!
I text her
'Hi, thanks for the email, what you said about
'not doing anything stupid' inspired me to look up
the stupid things people do after break-ups & I
found out about Beachy Head, a cliff on the south
coast, it's fascinating! Anyway, long story short, I'm
there now, come to see what a place like this feels
I decide against sending this message because
1) it's too long & I've not got much credit on my
phone, and 2) when I read it back it doesn't come
across how I meant it.
I find a bench and sit down for a while. What am
I doing? I'm enjoying myself but I can't tell anyone
about this, they'll have me committed, no-one's
going to believe I came here just out of interest.
I really wanted to go in that pub too, I'd only
known about it for about 6 hours and already it was
my favourite pub in England, and now, like so many
other british pubs, I can't go in.
I head towards the cliffs, if I can't go in the
pub or interact with any of the locals I'm at least
going to go & see what the fuss is about.
I get to the edge, it takes me a while to
muster up the courage and sit on the edge, but
when I do it's amazing. There's certainly something
strange about it, just knowing what's happened
there, the story of the couple driving off the edge
with their 2 disabled sons in the car, The broken
hearted lovers who couldn't face life without their
partners anymore, the old people who've just lost
their husbands/wives and don't know what else to
I realize I'm one of the broken hearted lovers.
I wonder if anyone's ever travelled hundreds of
miles just to come here & think, then gone home
Did they find any answers?
What were they looking for?
Does breathing enough of the fresh sea air give
you the strength to carry on?
What's the ratio of people who walk away to
people who jump? I imagine it's much higher than I
think it is, loads of people must have come here to
off themselves then lost the nerve.
I start to feel a bit better about myself. I knew all
along I didn't come here to jump, but it was always
an option. Still is, but now I know for definite. I stare
off toward France, my mind feels massive, I've
taken in so much information and processed it into
realisations & I've only been awake an hour or two.
I'm not normally awake this early, but here I am
watching the Sunrise over the English Channel and
broadening my understanding about the big picture.
Losing a girl is a tiny, tiny problem. Much smaller
than the one I'd create by jumping off a cliff.
"Don't do it" a familiar voice screamed from the
What the...? I mumbled. It was Norman. I've
bumped into him in some strange places but this is
mental. I reassured him and tell him what
happened. Then I realize, if he's here, maybe he
was going to off himself too. I had to get him away
from the cliff, I suggest the pub & tell him the
stories about the landlord and the taxi drivers. He
doesn't seem as interested but he accepts the
offer. We drink about 20 pints each, he books
himself a room upstairs for the night & the landlord
tells me a good place to camp. I worry about
leaving Norman so I eventually ask him why he's
"You invited me, you daft bastard" he laughed
"at about 3am you left me a message saying you
were off to Beachy Head & that you didn't know if
you'd be back, you said Id better come just in case,
don't you remember?"
"Nah mate, I was wrecked. Thanks for coming
though" I was genuinely thankful
"Ah that's alright, I was just going to ask if I
could have your computer if you died, but

Friends, eh?



The sky l[a]s[t] night

For my crimes in the cities of this country I have
been placed on village arrest. It's like house arrest,
but in a village. Basically I'm trapped in a village &
I'm not allowed to leave. Because I was naughty.
Much like in the old days before the internet,
I have to just make my own fun, mostly on the
internet, looking at pictures of cats. But that's not
quite enough, In the city I'd walk 6 miles a day,
there was a wealth of places I could go, free
museums and galleries, little parks with little ponds
with little ducks in. There's no ducks in this village,
here, the main attraction is the supermarket,
followed by the bakers, then the fruiters, and
sometimes the chip-shop is a laugh. I once heard a
story from a friend who used to hang around
outside the chip shop with his friends, apparently
one night a man pulled up on a motorbike. The
whole town came out. As if that wasn't enough
excitement he ordered a battered sausage... and
that was it! Just a sausage, wrapped up with a
small bit of paper! He then left. On his motorbike!
On a Tuesday there's a market, just a small
market, but a market none-the-less. Theres a fruit
stand, a biscuit stand, a man selling ladies
underwear which we've always been suspicious of
and a meat van - a man in an open sided van who
sells meat, we don't ask where it comes from.
Other than a weekly trip to the market and
irregular trips to the supermarket there isn't much
by way of entertainment. I sat home on the
computer for the first few weeks of my village arrest
and passed the time between meal times playing
Grand Theft Auto, a game where I drove around a
city, killing prostitutes and gangsters. Exactly like I
did when I was in a real city. Well, almost.
My job, in my previous life, was filming live
music acts. There's not many bands in this village,
and certainly no venue to film them in, a venue
here would be preposterous, we're miles away from
anywhere, however I still have my camera from that
job, a Digital SLR that, although being a normal
camera for taking normal pictures, can record
exceptional quality video footage. I took some
pictures around the house, of our pets and so on,
once got a picture of a wasp with a macro lens so it
was really close up and nice, that was fun, but this
(rather expensive) camera was essentially going to
As well as this, I noticed myself getting fatter,
the problem with living in this village is that I eat
really well, which may be a good thing, but I no
longer walk my usual 6 miles per day, so I'm filling
myself up with up to three good meals a day and
not doing anything to work it off, I'd hate to think
how many lamb-chops I've eaten that are still inside
me, poor lambs.
One afternoon I got annoyed & decided to
go exploring. I bought a large bottle of cheap
alcohol and ventured off, following a route I'd seen
on an ordinance survey map on the Internet before
I left. Although this was to turn out pointless, it
might as well have got me a hundred meters out of
the village then said 'thar be dragons', for a
hundred meters out of the village, there was
nothing, the footpath came to an end and went into
a dense woodland, far too dense to walk through.
I headed back to the village and decided to try
another of the paths. I followed one which went out
for about a mile, then turned right, on for another
mile, then right again, and on for another mile until I
was back in the village, Nice enough views, but not
even so much as a log to sit on, let alone a bench,
or even a wall.
I do like a good wall. I prefer a wall with dry
moss on the top to most dining chairs.
The third and final path (I previously thought
there was four paths, but the last path I walked, the
one that went out of the village and back again,
turned out to be two of the four paths. What a
greedy path.) took me over a hill and far away, I
followed it, it looked like it knew what it was doing.
By now it was night time, and I was
considerably more drunk than I'd planned to be
while in the village, I'd planned to be at least five or
ten miles away from here while this intoxicated.
It took me an hour just to get a mile out of the
village on the final path, the hill was so steep I had
to keep stopping for a sit down, but it paid off, for at
the top of the hill I was presented with one of the
greatest views I'd ever looked upon, the sky was
phenomenal, the clouds in the night sky varying so
much from the one's I'd seen from the other side of
the hill, the village was trapped behind this giant
annoying mountain that blocked the gorgeous sight
and atmosphere that this sky brought. I vowed to
return the next day to witness the sunset, and
probably for many more days after it, I'd found a
new source of entertainment & it was something I
never witnessed in all the years I've spent travelling
around the planet.



Vertical rambling

A council estate in either Kentish Town or Camden,
not sure which, seemed smack bang in the middle
of the two to me, I don't know, somewhere around
there. It was one of those big horrible buildings, 20
storeys high, a broken lift & a piss-drenched
stairwell. The entrance was also where they put the
bins out, though not a lot of the residents used bins,
most just chucked stuff out the window. I don't
know what we did with our rubbish, I don't
remember ever taking it out but I know we didn't
chuck it out the window, we never opened the
window - the noise was horrific. If you ever want to
hear a cacophony of spousal abuse, inner-city
teenage gang banter, gunshots and rape screams
then move there and open your window. I
remember finding it interesting on my first night.
That soon ended.
I feel physically sick when I think of the
things I heard in that building.
There was always some beautiful dark
haired darling crying on the staircase. I was in love
with her, I asked her how she was or if there was
anything I could do many times but she never
heard me, I'd think about her all day & late into the
night, I'm still kind-of obsessed with her.

I'm not sure she was even really there, she was the
kind of girl my addled imagination would have
made up at the time. Just my type.
Crying on the stairs
That's not what I meant.
Thick steel fire doors shut the world out, but
the single-pane windows let the world sneak in and
steal your attention, the building was being done
up, it was an awful shit hole but it's location
warranted a multi-million pound make over, I've
been back recently, just walked past, I couldn't
afford to know anyone who lives there now, I don't
think I could back then, I'm pretty sure my friend
never paid her rent, how could she afford to? she
never left the house.
Scaffolding scaled the outside walls like a
mechanical ivy that started off small and ended up
eating the whole building before you could do
anything about it, this lead to the biggest spate of
burglaries it'd ever seen. Luckily we weren't
targeted but I can't imagine anyone wanting to
come in if they saw inside from the window, we
were hardly living like kings, we didn't have
computers or a television, just a clock radio,
constantly flashing because the electric went off so
often that we stopped resetting the time, plus the
BBC are kind enough to tell us the time every now
and again, and if not I can usually pretty much
judge what time it is by who's voice I can hear on
the radio, or the subject of what they're talking
And anyway, we never wanted to know the time,
it was about 2007, that's all we needed to know, &
that was still useless information to us, taking up
space in our memory banks where we'd much
rather have stored interesting anecdotes, poetry or
One evening, just before it got dark, she
suggested we go exploring.
It was two years since she'd left the flat, at
least that's what she'd told me. Turns out she
meant via the front door. When I was out she'd
climb out onto the scaffolding and smoke, looking
out over the city, keeping watch over it like an
agoraphobic Batman, listening to arguments,
screams and sounds of car wheels spinning as they
quickly sped away from the scenes of their drivers
Seeing her climb out the window was a real
moment, not just because of the sly look up her
dress, but it was like seeing a caged bird set free at
last, that moment of relief when you see that their
wings still work after so much neglect. I'd never
seen the wind blow her hair, I'd never seen her
smoke and just flick the ash away, not carefully into
an ashtray. I followed her out and was surprised at
how well she knew where she was going, only
passing empty flats so we didn't get caught & telling
me which scaffolding bars were shaky or loose.
We got to one window and she looked at me,
gave a mischievous smile, the kind that brought her
cheekbones up but her forehead down & making
her chin look even more pointy and jaw more
chiseled that it already was, she ran her fingers up
the inside edge of the window and & heard a latch
un-hook, it swung open & she climbed inside.
I was shitting myself.
I'm not a burglar, but I am an adventurer, so
I followed her. If I was a burglar I'd be a pretty shitty
one, the flat was empty, but it was a bit bigger than
ours, maybe it's just because it didn't have anything
in it, not that we had much stuff, just a double
mattress on the floor and a clock radio, but still, we
didn't have the echo that this flat had. We snooped
around a bit, found some cleaning products, she
wanted to take them but I talked her out of it, saying
that if we ever needed them we could come back
for them, knowing fine well that we never would, we
barely cleaned anything.
We fooled around in every room, like horny
adolescents finally left on our own, trying to keep
our giggling to a minimum so people in the
neighboring flats didn't catch us.
While snooping through cupboards we
found an old Variety biscuit tin, it had lots of letters,
about 20 years worth, all to the same woman,
mostly from prisons, turned out the bloke's a rapist.
Or at least he was in 1967.
The flat felt different now. She wanted to
leave & I didn't want to stay so we spiderman'd our
way back to our window. No wonder she never left
the flat.




I said his hair looked like Jim Jarmusch's but he
always argued it was like Tom Waits'. He sulks a lot
& often disappears for days on end until he
remembers how much he likes me. I think. Though
I often think maybe it's just because he doesn't
have any other friends. I've never seen him talking
to anyone, I've definitely never seen him with
anyone else, never even seen him on the phone to
anyone & he never talks about other people in the
present, all his stories are from a distant past that
he doesn't like to talk about, actually, no, he loves
to talk about his past, at great length, he just
doesn't like to be asked about it. I certainly never
know whether to believe him.
The first time I met him was when I'd run
away from home when I was about 6. I'd left home
after a disagreement about whether or not I should
be allowed to play with matches (I'd been caught
playing with matches and got told off, I didn't like
being told off, so I left home, supposedly forever)
I crossed the field out the back of our house,
past the rabbit hill, through the woods and along
the river until I got to the city. On the edge of a city
was a bridge, I played under there for a bit, thought
about how I'd build myself a shelter, mostly just
chucked stones about though.
An older lad crept up behind me to scare
me. I don't remember the exact conversation but I
remember him telling me he was 10 years old and
he'd run away from home 4 years previously, when
he was my age. He had tales of his travels across
the country, hitching rides on open-sided train
carriages like in the films, He had a half-sized guitar
he used to earn money, busking on the streets of
London and Manchester and Liverpool and
Glasgow. He'd met all the famous people I liked,
like Newcastle United players and Bill Murray and
the girl who played Xena, Warrior Princess.
Although curiously he couldn't remember her name
either. (I've since remembered it, Norman reminded
me actually, It was Lucy Lawless)
I walked around the city with him for a few
hours, we stole sweets from the Pick-n-Mix bit in
Woolworths, we walked round the river, he showed
me his den in the woods, said it was just his back-
up though, and that he'd found an empty house,
broken in, turned the electric on and made it his
home. He wouldn't take me there though, not until
he knew me a bit better.
I never did see that house.
He said I could stay in this den in the
woods, it wasn't bad, a sheet of plastic across
going from a branch on one tree to another branch
on another tree, wooden crates made 2 walls, the
other was just the mud of the hill it was built in to,
and the front wall was open but the sheet could be
pulled down over it. I told him I'd take it! After giving
me a potato and expecting me to know how to cook
it (I was just six) he left. An hour later I'd eaten the
potato raw and it got a bit cold so I just went home
& just apologised to mum.
The rest of my childhood was littered with
visits from Norman, Never at home though, never
even on the estate, it was always when I'd ventured
far from home that I'd bump into him & be regaled
with his tales of where he'd been and what he'd
done since I last saw him. Most of the stories were
of him being naughty, getting chased, breaking into
abandoned buildings and the like. It acted as a
deterrent to me, I was never one for, say, throwing
bricks through people's greenhouses just so they'd
chase you, for a 'thrill', but Norman's stories of him
doing it put me right off doing it.
Then I turned twelve & Norman's bad
influence stopped acting as a deterrent. He was
sixteen by now, listening to hardcore punk and
drinking and he'd started getting in trouble with the
police. I was walking my dogs along an abandoned
railway line one day when I bumped into him, he
was walking from nearby city Sunderland, his flat
had burned down because he'd fallen asleep with a
lit cigarette.
'Cigarette?' I asked, intrigued, and sure enough
he had cigarettes, I smoked a whole one and was
sick. I walked back into town with him, he stole
some beer off the market & gave me half. I drank 'til
I was sick.
I wasn't having much luck making friends at
school by the time I was a teenager, It was easy in
primary school but once I moved into
comprehensive I suddenly didn't fit in, I'd spend
most afternoons & evenings taking the dogs out
and exploring the countryside around the outsides
of the city. I saw Norman more & more, we drank
more & more & started getting into trouble, He got
better at not getting caught & I seemed to get
worse at it. It wasn't long before I got arrested for
stealing twelve cans of beer from the supermarket
& mum had to come get me. I couldn't tell her it
was Norman that put me up to it so I just said it was
Norman's influence continued to worsen as
I went to college and university. To this day I
technically haven't finished a course, but for some
reason I've got all the certificates and passed
through the skin of my teeth, my only explanation is
that my tutors must have liked me, I always kept in
touch & kept them up to date with what I was doing,
Just not mentioning that I had this friend who made
me drink lots and fuck my life up a little bit more
each night.
Norman wasn't always there, there'd be
long periods of time where he'd disappear, things
would dry up around here for him, or he'd get into
some trouble & have to skip town for a while, I
always understood, it was usually when I was sick
of him anyway.
Sometimes, when off on my own travels, I'd
bump into him, in the strangest places, the
strangest being Mount Vesuvius in Naples, I was at
a film festival in the city & he'd just moved there
with a girl. He wouldn't introduce me to her though,
I suspect she was ugly.



Hopelessness - A Needed

Another thing I found while looking through
Normans things after he died. It wasnt in his
handwriting though, it was my handwriting, but I
dont remember writing it.

The Norm.

Imaginary enemy with thoughtful alchemy
You appear when needed
Completely unheeded
A welcome intruder & all-consumer

I never expect you though I bring it on myself
Causing terrible damage to my descending health
I smile when I see you & enjoy catching up
But I can't help but think that you don't give a fu*k.


Started off meaning well but got out of hand
A role model in need of a complete re-brand
Do you cause the situation
- or does the situation call for you?
I'm not sure it has your phone number.
!see you soon?




Frare Jaques, in Polish, in a
London taxi.
(and the first death of Norman)

Summer 2011 started off innocently enough, there
was a space in a car going to Wales so I jumped at
the chance to bag Lord Hareford's Knob.
By 'bag' I mean add it to the list of places I'd
walked, and by 'Lord Hereford's Knob' I mean
Twmpa, a mountain in south-east Wales
affectionately known as what sounds like the penis
of a stately gentleman. That's the kind of thing that
float's my boat.
I also wanted to visit the town of Hay-On-Wye a
few miles north. I'd heard it was known as 'the town
of books' & I'd recently read Charles Bukowski's
Ham-On-Rye, which contained many of the same
letters as the town's name. (the title, not the whole
book, I imagine it contained in it all of the letters the
town's name did.)
The journey there was utterly forgettable, in
that I can't remember any of it due to my being
asleep. I was awakened by the driver when we
were already there and without saying a proper
goodbye (I was tired and groggy from the
uncomfortable sleep) I rudely just got out of the car,
muttered a thankyou and walked off towards the
hill, which turned out to be the wrong hill but I was
in no frame of mind to be navigating. Luckily I'd
brought plenty food and water.
The mountain was great, a nice view, the
weather was kind to me too. I did a lot of writing up
there, I remember spending most of the day on a
north-facing rock, gazing off into the distance for
inspiration then writing for short spurts of time. I
camped out there that night, not as near the top as
I'd have liked, due to the wind, but still, I 'bagged'
that Knob.
The next day I visited Hay-On-Wye, a lovely
little town I discovered was twinned with Timbuktu
and Mali. I don't know as much about Mali as I'd
like to, especially their music, but I had Damon
Albarn's album Mali Music with me and I remember
spending a lot of the time listening to that,
especially as I visited the town's brilliant castles.
Talking to a chap in one of the town's pub I found
out that Oasis' label manager, Alan McGee was
from there, I stopped listening to Damon Albarn's
album out of respect. Well, for a while.
I called my friends to see when they were
leaving & they'd elongated their stay indefinitely,
most people would worry about where they'd
go/how they'd get there but my eyes lit up, all
restrictions on what I could do and how long I had
to do it were gone. Splendid.
As soon as I hung up the phone I heard a
familiar voice coming from up the street.
"It bloody well is you!" it shouted. I recognised
Norman's unique kind of vocal swagger but for
some reason he had a really Welsh accent, like,
really Welsh, like he actually was a valley.
"What're you doing here you awful bastard" I
jokingly shouted, just as I would to a friend outside
a pub up north. "And why're you talking like that"
He shushed me and whispered "Shut up, these
people think I'm local" I rolled my eyes though
secretly wanted to hear his stories of how he was
trying to infiltrate Hay, the bloody idiot.
I think the rowdiness of our greetings
worried some of the locals, we were being very
loud and boisterous and forgetting what a quiet
town this was, the beer garden had emptied and
there was just us. I learned his story; he was
putting the accent on for a girl (surprise, surprise)
whose father absolutely hated the English. He
asked what I was doing this far from home, told him
I was there to bag a knob, standard.
I had nowhere near enough money to stay
in the pub all day so Norman showed me the shop
with the cheapest, strongest booze and we went on
to a park where the local teenagers came to drink
away their youth. We sat with the eldest group,
some of them in their twenties, the youngest was
perhaps 17, a lad nicknamed 'Hulk Hogan' due to
his blond handlebar moustache, although he was
more often ridiculed because it more closely
resembled 3 yellow threads resting around his
mouth, and only had it because he hadn't
developed hair anywhere else on his face yet.
The most intriguing character in this bunch
of Welsh misfits was a girl named Poppy. She told
me her name was Poppy Fields and her friends
vouched for her but Norman & I didn't believe her.
Still though, she was pretty enough for me to just
nod and not ridicule her in jest as I would with a
male friend. She was 19 and had started drinking a
lot earlier in the day than we had so she was very
friendly and talkative, before long she was sat on
my knee and telling me how bored she was of the
town and how her family were keeping her from
Poppy had a whole bunch of qualifications from
the local sixth-form in art and design subjects,
performing arts and other things I can't remember,
she'd stayed on an extra year to do the ones she
couldn't do in her first go, she was like me, enjoyed
education, especially in artistic subjects, except,
unlike me, she wasn't encouraged to go to
university, in fact her dad just wouldn't let her go at
all, full stop.
I couldn't believe this happened, it was 2011,
who stopped a nineteen year old from doing what
they wanted anymore? Its like the second half of
the last century never happened to Hay-On-Wye.
I don't remember much of the rest of that
night, I remember Norman had convinced the girl
he was seeing to go home and get her tent, but I
only remembered this when I woke up in my own
tent & heard his un-mistakable, even in Welsh,
groanings in the tent next to mine.
If he was with a girl, then surely...
I opened my eyes, and sure enough, there was
Poppy. I smiled a bit but before I could fully enjoy
the situation I remembered a promise I'd made the
night before.
Poppy had told me she'd applied for a place
at St. Martin's, this arty university in London & had
an interview the next week.
I told her I'd take her.
'Oh well' I thought, It's not like I had
anything else to do, I just imagined I'd spend a lot
more time in the countryside before returning back
to a city again, and who cares if he fatherll come
and kill me for kidnapping his daughter and taking
her somewhere where she might, god forbid, get
educated and be successful.
Poppy met with her sister later that morning
who brought her some clothes and money she'd
gotten from her mother, who was supportive of her
daughters but had no power over her husband.
This made me feel better, at least I wasn't
kidnapping a teenager from her strict parents
anymore, well, not from both of them anyway. Her
mum had given her a hundred and fifty pounds; I
hadn't seen that much money in a long time. She
offered to buy my coach ticket and food/drink for a
week if I'd look after her, she didn't want to go
alone and I knew places to stay, I thought it was
The bus to London, the next day, wasn't as
bad as most bus journey's I'd been on. Most of
them were 6-10 hour cross-country jaunts where I
was either leaving something behind or going
somewhere I'd rather not have to go, but this one
was different. This time I had somebody to talk to.
Poppy was a great talker too, I think it was the
sweet Welsh voice but it was most likely her
intelligence, she'd not only studied at school and
college but spent much of her free time reading up
on things and becoming world weary. Her dad had
never allowed her to travel so she read up on
places she was interested in. She seemed
genuinely excited to be on a Megabus. A bloody
Megabus! It fascinated me & made the journey
really enjoyable. We talked for the whole trip about
music, books and poetry. She'd listen to my
travelling stories then, instead of butting in with her
travelling stories in a kind of one-upmanship I often
experience with other well travelled people, then
when my story finished she's ask a question about
the place and I'd have another avenue of the
anecdote to travel down. We talked to each other
for hours, but listened to each other for much
She was really excited, which made me excited.
Norman & his girl, in the row in front of us, were
much quieter. I suppose they'd already gotten to
know each other. We all drank on the coach
because, well, I forget the reason, but when we got
to there we were off it. I'd normally just walk to my
friend's flat in Tottingham but no-one else wanted
to so we got a taxi, dramatically cutting into our
funds but it was worth it when half-way between
Victoria and Tottingham Poppy started reciting
Frare Jaques to the driver in his native language,

Panie Janie, Panie Janie,
Rano wsta", rano wsta".
Wszystkie dzwony bij#, wszystkie dzwony bij#.
Bim, bam, bom, Bim, bam, bom.

Later I asked her to write it down for me, she wrote
it on my chest & went over it every time it'd washed
off for the rest of the week.
When we arrived at Tottingham there was
horrendous traffic. There was a police car up ahead
and a man lying on the pavement, we didn't know
what was going on but the taxis meter was ticking
away so we called our friends. They came & met us
and took us back to their flat.
I was planning on taking Poppy out that
week, showing her the city for the first time, the
brilliant, multi-cultural city that was London, where
yes, there was a stupid amount of crime, which
really irked her, but the people were generally
nice. But that man we saw lying on the road back in
the taxi was Mark Duggan, and in the following
week the London riots kicked off. Looting, fighting
in the streets, cars being burnt out.
Poppy was understandably scared, she'd never
left Hay-On-Wye. We watched it all on the news
and never left the flat other than to go to the local
corner shop for drinks each day until our money ran
out. We sent Norman out with our last 7.50 one
day. Less than a minute after he'd left we heard
shouting outside, we looked out the window and
saw a gang of 30-40 hooded youths running up the
streets with their faces covered, carrying weapons.
They were smashing every window in their way and
banging metal poles and baseball bats off
everything. We worried about Norman. I re-assured
everyone, told them 'It'll be fine, every time
something like this happens Norman walks in an
hour later with amazing stories to tell', because he
did, I wasn't lying.
Not this time though. This time he didn't come
There were reports on the news of 4 deaths on
the streets surrounding the block we were staying
We stopped watching the news after that.
The riots stopped by the time Poppy's
interview at the university came, but by then she'd
changed her mind about moving to London, and
probably about ever leaving Hay-On-Wye again.
Her dad came to pick her and her friend up & take
them home, and that was the end of that.



Glastonbury, the night
Michael Jackson Died

It was 2009, I left London with just a small bag &
eighty pounds to my name. I'd burned many
bridges in the city through no fault of my own, just
the words of a vengeful ex girlfriend upset that I'd
broken up with her because she'd cheated on me,
the words of an ex girlfriend can be lethal when all
your friends are more her friends than your own.
The air was sad, the night was spiteful, if
they were the kind of people to believe a crazy
drunk whore then I didn't want to be around them,
these weren't the kind of people you can fall out
with without changing your address either, these
were the kind of people who played with guns and
hard liquor, neither of which made me want to stay.
I had my thumb out on the slip road onto the
A1914162 for an hour before anyone picked me up,
I wasn't too surprised by this, I wasn't in the north
anymore after all, up north I could thumb a lift in 10
minutes, even with this beard and scruffy hair
combination I've been farming since I got here.
I was picked up by a middle aged couple
named Roy & Brenda, I could tell Brenda wasn't too
happy about her husband giving me a lift but I could
easily guess the method in Roy's madness, me
being in the car kept his wife quiet, and from the
little I did hear her say I could tell Brenda would
have made the rest of Roy's journey very annoying.
I never did understand how some couple's could
stay together so long when they quite obviously
hate another. The key part of settling down must be
in the Settling, to settle for someone you hate in
order to get your house cleaned and your meals
Brenda must have been a great cook.
They were only going as far as Derby,
frankly I'd have been grateful if they were just going
ten miles up the road, a warm seat and a nice chat
with a seemingly good-natured man was a blessing
when the alternative was to be constantly watching
my back in the city.
For two & a half hours Roy talked about fish. I
have a, let's say 'limited' knowledge of fish, I've
never even thought about the difference between
cod & haddock, I didn't know you could get both
from the fish & chip shop! But Roy knew. He spent
most of the time talking about fishes I'd never even
heard of. I remember a few of the more interesting
things he told me, like how there's a type of eel (I
think it was an eel, could have been anything) that
only mate when it rains, and so to make them mate
he ran a hose around the top of the tank, pierced
loads of little holes in the hose and ran water
through it, simulating rain.
I'm trying to remember the other interesting
fish story he told me. I can't. Ask me another time.
Roy & Brenda dropped me at the train
station, I hadn't arranged to meet anyone or
anything so I decided a day in the pub was in order,
I'd just cashed in all my favours and all that was
owed to me in London and had just over eighty
pounds. No matter where I ended up that night I
knew I'd at least be warm.
I headed to the first pub I could find, turned
out to be a sports pub, a football bar, and not just
any football bar either, this was the football bar that
stood exactly half way between the train station and
the football ground, so it was the main choice for
away-days supporters to grab a few not-too-
expensive ones before having to pay four quid a
can on the train.
I got talking to the barman, he immediately
noticed my accent & asked if I liked Newcastle
Brown Ale.
"Why Aye!" I replied, He brought through a crate
of it. Apparently Derby had just played Newcastle &
he'd stocked up ready for the away-day supporters
& he'd bought one crate too many.
"A pound each to you"
"You what?" I said, bemused. it's usually at least
3 a bottle
"A pound each, I'll not sell them now & they'll
only go to waste"
This was heaven. I gave him 12, took one and told
him to put the rest in the fridge.
Bloody brilliant.
I then spent yet another day of my life
talking about football. A subject I wouldn't exactly
have as my specialist subject on Mastermind,
unless it's narrowed down a little to be about
Newcastle United's 1996/1997 starting 11, (I had
the sticker-book that year, I was 10 years old, and
before the internet used to listen religiously to the
radio every match-day. you have to know the
players' names when you're listening on the radio)
& even then I doubt I'd win.
In mid-afternoon, I forget what time, I sent a
message to my friend Greg, He was at university in
the city and lived with his girl, Nelly, another couple
called Stewart & Emma, and a connoisseur of high
potency horse tranquillisers, Benji. Last time I was
in Derby I spent a good amount of time getting off
my face with those cats & thought I'd drop by and
shake it with them one more time (they were in their
final year, afterwards they all moved to different
cities, Greg & Nelly had 2 kids and I haven't seen
the others since. big shame, they were some of the
coolest people I've lived/stayed with in the last 10
years of shared accommodation)
Although I'd dropped out of film school
when I left London I didn't tell the student loan
company so I was expecting a nice little dropping of
two grand into my bank account the following
Monday, I made my eighty pounds last longer by
drinking cheaply and not having my first drink until
after six or seven in the evening, it's surprising what
a difference that makes when living on a budget.
I'm not the kind who needs a drink when he wakes
up anyway.
Monday morning came, I was up really early
to go to the cashpoint, about 10am. I borrowed
Greg's bicycle and rode into town, stopping at the
first cashpoint I saw. Bling Bling! 2100 and
change. I took out a couple of hundred, did a little
dance & went to head off. As I turned around I saw
a lovely looking Victorian-fronted pub, The Big Bell
Inn. With a name like that I had to go in. Too funny
not to.
As I entered I wasn't looking where I was going
100%, I thought I'd seen the bar at one end of the
room & I was looking at my phone or something so
I headed towards it. After a few steps I looked up &
I was walking towards a wall. Not even a wall with a
bar pained on it, just a wall.
"You thought the bar was over there didn't ya?"
said this beautiful blonde from behind me
"How'd u know?" I asked, turning to see her
"Happens to everyone their first time, was there
an old man sat on one of the stools?"
I hadn't really thought about it, but yes, now that
she mentioned it, there was.
"Yeah, beige jumper?" I replied. This was
getting weird. She went on to tell me the ghost
stories of the building and that it'd been featured on
the television show Most Haunted.
I was more interested in the female bartender
than the history of the pub, but this changed when
the chef came in at lunchtime, kissed her, and
asked if I wanted a bacon sandwich, The best
bacon sandwich in the Midlands he said. I
accepted, gave them two pounds and got back to
talking to who I 'd just found out was his girlfriend
about ghosts or something. I can't remember, I was
probably just sat hoping he wouldn't spit in my
I quickly became a regular at that pub,
made some good friends I still talk to now, had
some great nights and even pulled a few girls in the
coming months, good times fondly remembered.
Made a couple of good videos with some film
students I knew, filmed a quite-famous-at-the-time
band, The Automatic, played golf for the first time
and spent a lot of time eroding a hole the shape of
my arse into a stool at the bar of The Big Bell or
into Greg's couch, but after a few months I thought
it was time to move on. I was running out of money
& was starting to feel people get sick of me.
To send me off, on my final night, Greg got
me more drunk than I'd ever been before on the
kind of Absinthe that comes in a bottle with a worm
in the bottom, the kind of worm which, when
chewed, causes hallucinations.
Greg spent the night laid in the corner, in front of
his speakers, listening to Zero7, one of the most
chilled out bands Id ever heard. I, however,
needed to go on an adventure.
Greg's back garden backed out onto a field and
some woods. I brought my wind-up radio with me
and wandered off. Digital station BBC 6 Music were
broadcasting live from Glastonbury that weekend
and before long I thought I was lost in some woods
near the festival & started following the music so I
could go see some bands or comedians, I was
quite excited, I always wanted to go to Glasto, only
trouble was the music was coming from the radio I
was carrying under my arm, so, looking back, I was
probably just walking round in circles for a few
hours, in a field hundreds of miles away from the
actual Glastonbury. It was great though!
Then, at some point in the night, I started
noticing a lot of the bands were covering Michael
Jackson songs. I wasn't a big fan of his but his
songs are definitely recognisable and they were
definitely his. I remember asking someone (who, in
hindsight, probably wasn't there, perhaps I was
talking to the DJ on the radio, I don't know) why
everyone was playing Michael Jackson songs and
he just said that there was an unconfirmed rumour
that he was, in fact, dead.
'Don't be daft' I thought, and carried on toward
the music. Rumour-spreading at Glastonbury is a
well documented thing, every year I hear stories of
rumours spread around the festival and, before
mobile phones and tablet computers, these
rumours snowballed from gossip into gospel and
became common knowledge.
Then the confirmed reports started coming in.
'Bloody hell' I thought 'when people ask me
where I was when Michael Jackson died I'll be able
to say I was at Glastonbury, and that all the bands
started doing MJ covers and it was the best place
in the world to be' and so on.
To this day no-one's asked me that, which is
probably for the best, seeing as how I wasn't there
at all, I was in Derby, being silly.
The next day I was wired, had to move
quickly, didn't have time to properly tidy up or pack,
and when I got to the bus station we'd missed the
coach by 10 minutes. I had to wait 6 hours in
Meadow Hell, the worst bus station/shopping centre
in the world, it's like purgatory for those in transit, I
was neither in Derby nor at my destination. Just
stuck somewhere in the middle. I've been there
many times since and can confirm it's still bloody
I spent the 6 hours starring out of the
window, telling myself I'd never drink again.



Lie in

I'm trying to get up but my bed's very comfortable.
Still a bit drunk off the night before, there was
football on so I had an excuse. Yesterday I was
recovering from my first 10 mile walk in months,
today it seems like both have formed an allegiance
and ganged up on me to protest the poor treatment
I've given it.
I've got a driving lesson in 3 hours. I'll have a
glass of water.
The water goes down so easily, it's really nice,
but then it hits the top of my guts and there's some
kind of little stomach-acid fella in there saying 'ner
like' and making the water not want to go in, it
comes back up a bit but I manage to keep it down. I
don't like that feeling. I burp a bit and change the
position I'm lying in, seems to help. I keep moving
around, slowly, not, like, tossing & turning, but, like,
enjoying my lie in. Really enjoying my lie in. I don't
work so I often get a lie in, in-fact today'll be one of
the shortest lie-ins I have because of my driving
lesson at 10.30, but compared to most people this
is a bloody good lie in.
I'm still moving around, I've really nice thick
cotton sheets on the bed, proper posh one's from
Fenwick's. Of course, I didn't buy them, don't think
I've ever bought bedding. Well, one burgundy fitted
bed sheet from Primark when I was a student.
Everyone had that bed sheet, I bet you know
someone who's got that bed sheet, it's like four quid
so it's a popular choice for the poor and/or studenty
people. Other than that bed sheet I've never bought
a bed sheet though. Or curtains. Or, like, doilies
and that, but I've got loads of them, just acquired
over the span of my life. Got loads of blankets too,
never bought a blanket like, no need, I've got loads.
Im half awake and I'm having long
conversations with myself in my head [and now on
paper] about blankets and bed sheets, half-way
through that thought I turned to my radio & turned it
off, then decided I liked the song that was on,
Curtis Mayfield's Superfly, so I turned it back on,
then I had a good long think about the thing in my
subconscious that heard the song, decided it was
maybe too early in the day for funk & soul music,
turned round, twiddled the knob & turned the radio
off before letting the active part of my brain decide
whether I wanted to listen to it.
It's far too early for making my own decisions, all
by myself, on my own. I roll back into my bed sheet
& immediately appreciate the quality of it. A really
posh thick cotton bed sheet, I always appreciate
this bed sheet. Even when I'm not in it, the memory
of all the good times I've had laid on my front,
slowly, over the course of the night, digging myself
into the bed in a really comfortable slow-motion
dream like I'm
Oh I don't know what I'm going on about. My
bed sheets are nice. There.

> In future I must remember to at least have a



The 'did I mention the free
wine' tour

There was never a boring moment when I lived in
London, mainly thanks to a brilliant website called, which sadly no longer exists, but
about five years ago when I was a resident of the
big smoke I used it most nights of the week.
Through it I ended up going to premieres of really
interesting little British indie films, album launch
parties, art fairs, photography exhibitions and all
sorts, lots had free cake or a buffet or even just tea
& coffee, but then one afternoon I saw these
beautiful words.

Felix Dennis: The 'did I mention the free
wine' tour

Two key points in this title drove me to attend this
soiree. Firstly, Felix Dennis, a brilliant poet, his
gritty tales of Soho and so on have always been an
inspiration not just to my writing but also playing a
part in my taste in film, music, other poetry and
even TV Shows.
Secondly, free wine!
I finished my classes at the film school I was
studying at at 3.30pm, killed some time in Dalston
for a bit with some friends then headed to Euston.
When I arrived the queue was massive. Bloody
massive. Seems a lot more people liked Felix than
I'd imagined, I never expect the poets/bands I like
to have big queue's, especially since whenever I
ask anyone I know about them I'm met with blank
looks 99% of the time. Or they could have just been
there for the wine.
I joined the queue, the building looked big
enough, maybe there'd be room for all of us. who
I was queuing for about 15 minutes when
the man in front of mE took down his hood. I
recognised the big Jim Jarmusch barnet
immediately, but so as not to embarrass myself I
edged round to get a look at his face, in a city like
this lots of people have the same haircuts, even if
they are unmistakable one-of-a-kind's. I moved
around, the big neck and skinny cheek combo was
also of the unmistakable variety.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" I grunted
into his ear in a deep, sinister voice, trying to make
him jump. It didn't work, Norman was the kind of
cool customer who didn't flinch at threats made by
deep voiced strangers queuing to see even deeper-
voiced poets such as Dennis.
"Heh, I thought you'd be here" he snarled. I
almost thought he wasn't happy to see me. I was
certainly happy to see him, there was an hour and
a half to kill before this gig started and I was getting
bored of my own company pretty fast.
Norman had brought his own bottle of wine, I
had a few sips before he told me to get my own &
he kept my space in the line while I ran to a
supermarket up the road. I returned five minutes
later with a 4.99 bottle of Shiraz. So much for the
free wine!
We spent the hour and a half catching up,
turned out Norman had joined a band called The
Skankster, playing Saxaphone to Ska and Reggae.
I was really intrigued to hear it, he'd smoked the
entire time I'd known him almost, he can't have that
much puff left in his lungs, surely!
The queue started moving, finally we were
moving. After a while though the doorman stopped
us going in. Worried we wouldn't get in I asked the
doorman if it was worth us waiting. He said he
didn't know. We clandestinely drank our wine and
waited patiently.
The queue started moving again, there was
more space inside, hooray!
Then it stopped again, then started, then
stopped, then started, then finally, when we were
right at the front, I heard an usher from inside shout
to the doorman
'Room for another two'
The doorman, a strangely slender and weak
looking man, said 'right you two, get in' and we got
in, a victory glance was had between Norman & I,
a kind of surprised eyebrow raising followed by a
smug grin before our eyes got back on with the
mission of locating the free wine.
The lobby was full, there were tables dotted
around with servants (I know they were probably
paid workers, but I prefer to call them servants in
this situation, I did, after-all, feel like a Victorian
upper-class dandy being hosted by one of the Soho
elite at a night of poetry and wine, lah-dee-dah!)
stood endlessly pouring wine into glasses being
constantly refreshed by other servants who were
bringing them out from the kitchen by the dozen.
Norman & I walked around every table trying
each wine, two glasses at a time, then back to the
first table and repeating. By now we were very, very
Felix's show was brilliant. His stories entrancing,
when we left we couldn't stop talking about how
glad we were that we made the effort and came out
for it, it was alright for me, I lived close by, well,
Finsbury Park, but still, relatively close compared to
Norman, who Id just found out was living on a boat,
tied up in a river about 4 miles north, a bit far to get
back to this late at night. I offered him a bit of my
floor to sleep on & we made the trip across town,
stopping at the first pub we saw.
Across from the pub was a dodgy looking
lad, no older than 16, on the street corner. Norman
kept watch of him, saw a few different people stop,
exchange something with him, and go. Intrigued by
what he was selling, he went over to the boy. A
second later he waved me over. I finished my pint
and cautiously crossed the road to see what he
'Can you lend me twenty quid til I can go to
the bank in the morning' he asked.
'Erm, aye, why aye, what for?' I couldn't really say
no, he knew I had my student loan fresh in the
"The boy's got Russian absinthe!"
'Oh dear, here we go' I thought. Not in the mood at
all, but drunk enough to partake in a wee swig.
I needed a cashpoint, the lad pointed me toward
one and joined us for the walk, turned out he'd
nicked it from a specialist drinks shop in Mile End.
Little bugger! I didn't think he'd talk so candidly
about how he obtained the wares he was peddling
either, He was a definite mug.

At the cashpoint Norman stood with the boy
about 5 feet away from me, but I could tell he was
inching closer as I was typing in my PIN. 'Uh-oh' I
thought again. I'm not too brave in confrontations
and knew the only way to win was to get the first
punch in then run as fast as I could, I glanced at
Norman, a much more confrontational man than
myself & he gave me an understanding nod. He
looked excited too, I don't think he'd had many
fights recently, playing in a reggae band with loads
of hippies & rastas and all.
When the machine ejected my card the young
lad lurched forward from the right of me. I grabbed
the card, spun out to the left to try and elbow him
but Norman had already grabbed the back of his
head and smashed his face into the metal corner of
the cash machine. I placed my boot on the back of
his head as he laid on the floor (so he couldnt get
up and continue robbing us) I waited for the
machine to dispense my cash, Norman grabbed the
Absinthe and we ran. We ran like fuck! Hiding in the
beer garden of a closed pub because we realized
the lad was probably a lot faster than us and could
probably run for a lot longer than we could, we only
got round the corner before we needed to stop, this
little thug was probably used to running.
We drank in this empty beer garden for
hours, until the absinthe was gone. Dangerously
drunk, we made our way across town. When I woke
up Norman was gone, he did say he had
somewhere to be, I can't remember where though.

Oh well, it was good seeing him again.



Elderston mental asylum
(part 1)

After another night of drunkenly making a fool of
myself I woke up drenched in a pint of snakebite I
was holding when I fell asleep. Not good snakebite
either, a mixture of a local supermaket's own brand
beer and the cheapest cider the local corner shop
sold. It was vile. As if ripping off my stinking bed
sheets and turning my mattress on it's side to air
out wasn't shameful enough the memories of the
previous night flooded back. I'd once again told
people far too much, told them what I really thought
about them! again! The kind of things a normal
person would just never talk about, and there I was,
telling people who'd already heard the shameful
tales many times before. As I was spraying the
mattress with a home-made concoction of bleach,
water and washing-up liquid I remembered nearly
jeopardizing one of my friends, an underage drinker
who was with us, by acting like a complete fool in
front of a policeman. Luckily the policeman saw the
funny side, but it made me less-than popular with
my friends.
Who was I kidding? I was never popular among
my friends.
As I scrubbed at the stinking cider-y beer stain I
decided not that I had had enough of this town, but
that this town had clearly had enough of me. I
wasn't going to stop, I was only in the beginning
stages of the long journey of youth, I was only
twenty, maybe twenty-one. I wasn't going to just
give up hope like so many of the people I knew and
get a job, get a house, a steady girlfriend and/or a
dog. Fuck that. I wanted to travel & have the kind of
experiences I'd either write about one day or take
to my grave, laughing to myself thinking 'If only they
While the washing machine did its job I packed
my things. I had forty pounds and a weeks worth of
food and drink. That made my bag heavy so I drank
as much as I could in the hour and fifteen minutes it
took the washing machine to work. By the time it'd
finished and I'd hung the sheets on the drying stand
in my room I was ready & already had the
beginnings of a brilliant plan in mind.
I'd just started reading blogs on the Internet by
photographers who liked travelling around the
country to interesting abandoned buildings and
taking pictures. Urban Exploration (UrbEx) they
called it. It fascinated me. I read a lot about
squatters too. The idea that I was paying fifty to
seventy-five quid a week for a shitty room in a
shared house full of kids living off their daddy's
money when there were magnificent old buildings
just standing empty was mind-boggling. The only
history my house had was thirty years of 'and that's
where Tarquin, the philosophy student from
Bournemouth was sick' and 'that's the couch where
we walked in on Danny, the music student from
Essex, fast asleep with his head in a bucket full of
his own vomit' and, well, just lots of puke stories.
Some of the buildings I'd read about on UrbEx
blogs had real histories, there was old factories
where thousands of people worked for fifty-odd
years, there was tunnel networks under cities which
were used by smugglers and the city's
underclasses for centuries, all sorts of interesting
buildings with atmospheres not crafted by vomit.
I had these notebooks back then, page-a-
day diaries I used for my uni notes and poetry &
other teenage/early-twenties essential writings. I
liked them because they kept my notes in
chronological order, made stuff easier to look up
afterwards, or if I just flick through them leisurely I
can go to a particular part of my life and see what I
was thinking/studying back then. If I flicked to, say,
when I was eighteen there'd be lots of happy
stories about my time with Flora, like my birthday
entry, where she came to stay for a week from the
14th, Valentines day, til a few days after my
birthday, how we planned to go out and do loads of
stuff but each night changed our minds and just
stayed in & enjoyed each other's company, except
for on the night of my birthday, when at about
midnight, when she was asleep, my friend's
messaged to say they were in the pub, so I crept
out, got really drunk, climbed up some cranes that
were dotted around the re-generation sites in the
city, got stopped by the police & gave fake names
before stumbling home and slipping back into bed.
Flora never knew.
Well I never really carried a map, looking back, I
should have, but my only map for this particular trip
was that year's notebook. When reading these
UrbEx reports I scribbled down the city & the name
of the building. I had two pages of notes, never
thinking I'd use them but that day I was equipped
with the kind of shame that'll send you off looking to
have adventures on your own in abandoned
buildings just to prove to yourself that you're better
than the townies and local-folk that considered
themselves to be worldly-wise because they've
been to Benidorm and once met her off of that
reality show where they dance and people ring in to
vote them off I was ready.
The nearest interesting abandoned building
to me was a derelict mental asylum in Elderston. I'd
read up on it & some of the country's biggest
nutters had been there, the wife of the Rochdale
Ripper, the children of Henry Alingsdale (the man
who locked his wife up in a shed for 12 years,
constantly breeding with her and her offspring) and
the notorious necrophiliac Tommy Dair.
Of course I thought it'd be a good idea to go
there, why not? I walked the three miles into town
and got the bus out to Finchurch, a neighboring
town, busses didn't go to Elderston anymore & I'd
find out why as soon as I got there, it wasn't really a
town anymore since the hospital closed. All the
houses belonged to it's staff and security workers,
there were a few farms dotted about but I was that
age where you watch Withnail & I and Straw Dogs
and The Wicker Man a lot and I was fearful of local
country-folk. I was quite glad about how empty the
place was, my biggest fear of abandoned building
was that they'd have a bunch of people living there,
especially in cities with large homeless populations.
I'd always got on with homeless people but I wasn't
in the mood to really get to know people, I was
shutting myself off from anything like that.
The driveway up to the building had massive
iron gates which, at one time probably had a point,
stopping crazed psychopaths from getting out, but
now they just swung open and shut, I snook in like
a ninja in case there was anyone in there but it
soon became clear the place was empty. Eerily
empty. I explored around the outside for an
entrance & all I could find was a fire escape up to a
door with a broken window, the fire escape didn't
come right down to the floor though so I had to
stack some wooden pallets up and climb up. I felt
around for a lock on the inside of the door & there
wasn't one, it'd been nailed shut, it was the only
opening I could find though, and I'd seen pictorial
evidence that the UrbEx bloggers had been inside
so I figured this was the way they got in. Climbing
in was a doddle & I set off exploring the interior.



The Shyer Traveller: Cocky
on the coach

We met on a Megabus we were waiting for at Auld
Wreaky coach station
All that we had in common was we would be late
fuckers at our destination
I made you laugh a while
You brought a little smile
To the aching bones I had acquired.

I had been to the festival, I had been camping
out at the foot of Arthur's seat
You were from here originally but now you're going
to see Newcastle and visit your daddy
Although I had a new shirt on I was unshaven and I
must have smelled badly
You were a full on Scottish lass with a rounder arse
and your hair was fiery
I should have sat next to you
but I was only bothered about the view
It was gonna be a while before I next saw the sea.

As we reached Berwick-upon-Tweed I got horny
and started fantasizing.
My main fantasy was one of you and me, I found
that to be enticing.
I stood up and I got cocky
Said "How'd you like to count to 30?
then come and meet me in the W.C."

I didn't wait for your reply I just went up the isle and
I waited patiently
Didn't think you'd come but as a rule of thumb I
washed my cock in the sink so it would be clean
Then the door started to open
You closed it behind you and I bent you over
and wore protection 'cause I didn't know where
you'd been



Elderston mental asylum
(part 2

Creeping around the old halls of the asylum really
put the shits up me, there were padded cells
which'd been burned out, leaving charred material
hanging off the walls, groups of kids must have
travelled here over the years as there was graffiti
everywhere, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a
few raves here in the nineties. There was a few
sofas in what was probably once the common room
and they looked heavily used, perhaps homeless
people had lived here at times, perhaps other
adventurous run-aways like myself had come here
to get away from their lives too.
The creepiest room was the bathroom; the bath
came out of the corner diagonally into the centre of
the room, probably so the staff could get either side
of it when bathing the patients. The window had
been broken (like many of the building's windows)
and a tree had grown into the room, climbing the
walls and along the ceiling, spreading out as wide
as it was long, it wasn't as tree-like as it was
outside the window though, the lack of sunlight
made it look like the kind of trees you get in a Tim
Burton film, withered and menacing.
The biggest surprise about the room was the
number of electrical outlets and machines there
was built into the walls, one, which had wires
stretching out as far as the bath with blue and red
circular pads on the end looked like the kind of
wires you see on hospital dramas that monitor your
heart rate, I wondered if electro-shock therapy was
administered in bathrooms, how crazy would that
be? I must have spent an hour in the doorway of
that room, never going in, just imagining the kinds
of things that happened in there, the kinds of
people who must have been in there, crazy,
shouting at the nurses, fighting them off while
they're naked and the poor nurses were trying to
clean them. Some of the tiles were cracked; all I
could think about was the violence the staff there
must have had to endure.
To this day I think of that place whenever I'm in
someone's bathroom, and think about the kind of
things that've happened in there in it's lifetime. It's
never usually pretty thoughts.
Considering the building was the kind of
building once judged by how many beds it had, I
was surprised to find there were none at all. There
were a few metal bed frames with broken slats but
nowhere seemingly comfortable to lie other than
the couches. I headed back to that common room
after inspecting the bedrooms and offices (now just
empty rooms of varying sizes, all with the same
clinical feeling off-white & blue colour scheme and
the odd bit of shoddy graffiti) and the dark, damp-
smelling basement I'd decided against exploring
and had my first sit down since the bus & started
reading one of the four books I'd brought. I ate a
couple of the sandwiches I'd brought before digging
into the drink - two cheap bottles of brandy. I
thought they'd at least last a couple of days but by
7pm I was onto the second bottle and made plans
to go back to Finchurch the next morning to buy
I passed out not long after the sun went down, I
didn't have a clock with me but it was summer so
could have been after ten, I don't know.
I woke up to a dog licking my face, worried
that the dog would have an owner I tried to shoo it
away and hide but it didn't work so I accepted I'd
probably have to explain myself to either a dog-
walker or a security guard, I didn't expect there to
be a security guard because if he was a security
guard he'd be a pretty shit one, I'd been here nearly
eighteen hours already and anyway, this dog was a
shit guard dog, it was about a foot tall, probably a
cross breed between a Lurcher and a Jack Russell,
(imagine them breeding!) licking my face and being
friendly without barking or alerting anyone to my
presence at all. I got up, folded my blanket, got
everything in my bag ready to go and went looking
for the dogs owner.
Not a soul anywhere.
I guess you're mine now! I said to the dog.
come on then, licker I said, naming after the first
thing I saw it do, thinking it was like a great Native
American way of naming something, and not
thinking about the amount of 'liqor' or 'lick her' jokes
it'd no-doubt bring.
It wasn't until I got to the window that I realized
the dog's entrance to the house must have been a
lot easier than mine, except I'd scoped the entirety
of this building and there was no other way in. I
went to re-investigate and there was nowhere, until
I walked past the door to the basement again. I
decided it wasn't worth going in and went back
upstairs, chucked the dog out of the window,
climbed out myself and took the easy route out
down a metal staircase with the wooden pallets at
the bottom. Licker wasn't happy.
We walked off to Finchurch, I was a bit
worried at first about the dog walking with me along
the pathless roadsides but after a while the distinct
lack of traffic settled my mind, the one tractor that
did go past scared the dog into a hedge anyway.
Finchurch was very small, about three streets
wide, fifty houses long and very, very grey. The
roofs were dark grey, the walls, mostly pebble-
dashed, were grey, the paths and the roads were
grey and most of the people I saw were grey. We
headed to the local shop and bought 25 worth of
drinks, leaving me enough money for a bus home
and an emergency phone call if needed (I'd left my
mobile phone at home, this was to be a contact free
The shopkeeper took a shine to my dog, I
perhaps thought she recognised it, maybe she
knew it's owner & I could return him, perhaps get a
reward, but no, I should have known by how much
she liked him and kept asking things about him like
his name or why he looked so scruffy. 'you needn't
talk' I thought, the shopkeeper herself was wearing
a grey cardigan with more holes in it than the plot of
a Michael Bay film, her hair was clearly unwashed
and the shop smelled of wet dog, at least Licker
smelled of dry dog.
I paid and left, as I walked out of the town a man
in a long black raincoat who was stood at the bus-
stop started shouting at me, I was a fair way up the
street but I figured he might be Lickers owner so I
didn't ignore him. As he got closer to be I
recognised the long, tall stance of the man, I'd
recognise it anywhere, it was only bloody Norman!
What're you doing out here ya dafty? he
shouted. I told him about my retreat from the city
and he laughed at my stories of embarrassing
myself again. He'd seen me much worse.
I must have asked him why he was there
too but for the life of me I can't remember, he spun
me so many yarns back then that I only half-
believed him and probably just nodded and
excitedly told him about this building I was staying
in. He cancelled all his plans and came with me
back to Elderston.
Norman & Licker were best of friends within a
minute of meeting, He had a kind of control of him
that I didn't, I'm a softie around animals, Norman
immediately showed Licker who was boss and
Licker respected Norman a lot more for it. I was
kind-of jealous but sod it, I was happy being the
good cop.
Luckily Norman had a lot of food with him, I
hadn't thought about feeding the dog until later in
the afternoon when, back at the asylum, I started
eating one of my many packets of crisps and the
dog started looking at me. Without Norman I'd have
probably just fed the dog a packet of crisps and the
crusts from my sandwiches, but Norman had all
sorts of tinned goodies with him. I don't think there
was a time when he didn't carry a tin of Bacon Roll
with him, he loved it, He swore by it because it had
a rectangular tin and a ring-pull top, which, once
opened, would act as a knife to cut it and eat it off.
Clever stuff!
After three or four days of drinking, talking, and
generally running amok around the asylum we
woke up one day and the dog had gone. By then
we loved that dog, most of the laughs we had were
due to that little fella, I told Norman about the
basement, saying that must be where he got in, so
he made a fire, lit a rag on a stick with it and went
down to investigate.
There was indeed a hole in the exit to the
basement, not big enough for a human but
definitely big enough for Licker. We held him a
belated leaving party, drank to his memory and
decided that if he wasn't back by the next day we
should leave too.
That night we heard noises coming from the
basement. Norman went down to investigate,
without a torch. Then the noises moved around to
the side of the building, it was people.
Gutted. We hoped it was Licker. Norman & I got
our stuff ready to do a runner if there was trouble
and went to greet the newcomers. I was a bit
scared but Norman seemed pleased there was new
blood. Was he bored of me? Probably. I would be,
especially since Licker left.
We forgot how drunk we were and instead of
approaching the newcomers gently and not scaring
them off we ran to the fire escape, shouting and
scared them off. I wasn't all that bothered, maybe
only because now they might come back later with
more people to murder us in our sleep, but Norman
seemed pretty gutted they'd ran off, Perhaps he
was getting sick of me. Either way there was drink
to be finished and plans to be made for the next
The next morning I woke up and Norman
was gone. Unlike me he had his phone with him so
god knows what he'd arranged and where he went.
I never really knew where he was, or if he was,
I read one of my books, drank a little to get over
the hangover and headed back home. Surprisingly I
was missed. No one had a clue why I'd left and no
one remembered the night I was so embarrassed
about. I told them about my adventure, I didn't think
it was anything special, nothing of note happened,
but they were fascinated that I stayed in a mental
asylum, made friends with a dog, ran into an old
friend and slept in a derelict building for days. That
was exciting to them. I'm still not even sure it was
worth writing down.



Local Crazies
(An exercise in Breath writing, written to music by
Thelonious Monk in a failed attempt to write like
Jack Keroac because I've just watched On The
Road and it's like when I watch karate films and
think I'm a ninja for the rest of the night.)

It struck me as I lay in my bed one night, anxious
about the following days driving lesson, that the
instructor would be one of the few sane people I
talk to this year, I never tend to find myself
spending more time than I have to with sane
people, Shopkeepers, the lady at the bank, even
the barman at my local doesn't interest me enough
to keep my attention for very long, I bet tomorrow at
the end of my lesson the instructor doesn't invite
me out for a drink to carry on the awkward
conversation we'll be having for four hours. The
people I tend to fall towards as friends are the
insane ones, the maddest of the mad, the one's
who can't be saved, the people who's lives are so
colourful my conscience has an epileptic fit just
listening to their stories, there's nothing worse than
a dullard who's stories all end with 'and then I went
home' and never got much more exciting on the run
up to the punch line. I recently heard somewhere
'Alcohol: because no good story ever started with
someone eating a salad' I don't completely believe
this, I think if I woke up and ate a salad I could
probably still have an interesting day, but say you
take that as a metaphor, change 'Alcohol' to
something else, as I have done in this book only
backwards, a couple of the times I've written about
alcohol in this book it was used as a metaphor for
something else, usually a feeling, say, if I was on a
buzz I couldn't describe with words and get the
feeling across. Now take that phrase about the
salad, Imagine that alcohol is, say, a look shared
between two strangers: so, A look shared between
two strangers: Because no good relationship ever
started with two strangers looking at their phones
all the time & ignoring everyone they met. See!
Now, eating a salad and constantly being on your
phone when in social situations are the same things
to me, they may be good for you, you might be
sending a nice message to your mum or arranging
a big-money making corporate deal, But they're
fucking boring, about as boring as someone who's
stories all end in happy resolves, yes it's nice, but
its also beige. I'd rather hear stories from people
who lost limbs than stories from those who went
into battle and came out fine. I've spent hour after
hour sat on streets listening to homeless people tell
me what brought them there, what happened to
make them end up talking to me, and do you know
what? We got drunk and laughed more than I ever
have with someone who I sat drinking tea with
while I listen to them tell me about their day at the
office. Just last month I was up north watching
some comedy shows at a free festival, I wasn't
really homeless, just living as cheaply as possible
and I came out of one show, had half an hour
before I would see another so I sat down with the
first homeless man I passed on the street, I
apologised for not having any cash but I offered
him a drink, he offered me a cigarette. He had a
dog with him so I gave it some crusts from my
sandwiches and the man gave me a packet of
crisps, there was a man sitting on the street
begging but I couldn't seem to give him anything
without him giving me something in return, he
wouldn't let me turn anything down either, he told
me to keep the crisps for later when I told him I
didn't eat when I was drinking, made me feel ill, that
man was nicer than any of the people I met that
week and after a half hour of talking to him I
realized he was a nutcase, an absolute smack-
head, he had an eye missing, took me 15 minutes
to notice it because his good eye was barely open
at the best of times but when I did notice it was
because he told me the story behind losing it when
his girlfriend showed up, now she was a scary one,
I could smell the trouble on her a mile off but if she
was a friend of his she was a friend of mine,
anyway he started telling me the story of how he
lost his eye, and instead of being miserable about it
he was laughing his head off, his girlfriend, the girl
sat just along from me in a tracksuit top over two
hooded jumpers and scraggy jeans and trainers,
stabbed him in the eye one morning because she
wanted him to go to the shop for cigarettes & he
wouldn't get out of bed because he was
comfortable, I'm surprised they're still alive, a right
pair of idiots, but they looked so happy with each
other, reminds me of a couple I saw in Leeds once,
I had a while to wait for a coach I was getting, can't
remember where to, but I asked a bloke in the bus
station where the nearest pub was and they
directed me to one called... I can't remember, but it
was the nearest so I went, I had loads of bags and
a guitar with me & as soon as I walked out from the
bar to the beer garden a young lass, not unlike the
one I was just talking about, shouted
What's up mate has yer girlfriend kicked
you out?
'Great' I thought, there's some nutters in,
this'll be a laugh. I walked over and sat with them,
there was her, a young lad who I first thought was
her boyfriend, an old man with a black eye so bad
that the coloured bit and the pupil were completely
see-through, and an old woman who I presumed
was his wife. From the get-go I was laughing, they
looked like complete scum, and to be fair they
probably were, the kind of family that have their
own parking spaces outside the Jeremy Kyle
studios, anyway I got to know them and soon found
out that the girl and the old man were a couple, not
the girl & young lad as I'd presumed, then, just
when I thought that'd be the craziest thing I'd hear
all day, the girl started bragging about how it was
her that did that to the old man's eye, and that it
was just the night before in a drunken fight in the
same pub, and he wasn't going to go to the hospital
about it. I spent the next hour or so trying to figure
out if she was abusing him but no, they loved each
other to pieces & anyway, he gave as good as he
got and wasn't afraid of slapping her back, as he
did a few times while I was sat with them. I'm
sounding as though I condone this, I don't, but dear
god they were fun to talk to. Now, if I compare
those two stories about people so crazy they're
blinding each other then laughing about it with, lets
see, I'm trying to think of someone boring that I
know but I don't tend to get to know them if they're
boring, so lets say my friend Greg's brother, he
gets up on a morning, drives to work below the
30mph speed limit, gets to work where he puts bits
of paper into files all day, then he drives home,
below the speed limit, eats something (probably a
salad) and plays computer games all night,
spending all the money he earns on games or his
car - then only using his car to get to work. That
story wasn't as much fun to tell, I'm sorry you had
to hear it, but which story was more fun to read?
None of the characters I've written about in this
book are sane people who the vicar would approve
of because I'd quickly run out of things to talk
about. Every town has it's 'local crazies', I was
talking to another lad from Leeds once about
making a documentary about local crazies, they
make the towns better and should be given a
weekly allowance for doing so, and I should be in
charge of deciding who gets it, so I can have them
audition for me. That'd be fun! wouldn't it?




Thursday, October twenty-fourth, two thousand and
something, twelve maybe, probably, aye.
Been a while since I last went anywhere,
there's a booze shop just over the market square
and a nice big double bed with the internet on it in
my house so I've mainly been getting drunk,
watching films then writing to ex girlfriends when
I'm too drunk to realize how much I'll regret it the
next morning. That's a habit that becomes so easy
that going out on adventures soon becomes a
distant memory, and I bloody love me adventures,
One night, while reading some online forum
consisting mainly of pictures of cats I stumbled
upon free courses you can do online that give you
certificates from posh-sounding universities, now
I've no need to do this, I've already been to film
school, got a university degree, a couple of college
diplomas and countless other certificates on my
CV, I don't need to pad it out with more
qualifications, but then I found this course in
creativity. The course title had me, then the video
introductions and accompanying TED talk had me
signing up immediately.
Considering I signed up at about 5am one
morning last week when I was as drunk as a poet
on pay day this was one thing I didn't regret when I
woke up, instead I got thinking about what I could
do. I scoured the website for my group so I could
crack on with the first assignment, a getting-to-
know-you thing, but found out that because I signed
up after the course start date I had to wait to be
assigned a group. 'Oh well...' I thought 'Fuck it' and
I got on with writing another chapter of this here
book, aren't you glad I signed up late.
Anyway, the next assignment popped up in my
inbox last night, it read thus:

1) Go to at least 6 different stores. They can be at
the same shopping center or different locations.
Spend at least 15 minutes in each store
making OBSERVATIONS using the lab guide for
reference. Take photos to capture your
2) Create a presentation that captures
your INSIGHTS. What types of things had you
missed before? What were your biggest surprises?
Are there opportunities you never noticed before?
Use your photos to highlight your insights. Your
presentation can be in the form of slides or a short
Add the link to your presentation so that everyone
can see it.

'So, go round the shops, sorted, I'll crack on with
that tomorrow' I thought. I had a few bits and pieces
to get from the supermarket and the fruiters
anyway. I spent the rest of the night learning I'm
Shakin by Jack White on the guitar and fell asleep.

The morning came, this morning, earlier on today,
before the afternoon, you know how it goes, the
morning. I wasn't too awake when my alarm went
off, in fact I wasn't awake at all, that's what tends to
be the thing when my alarm goes off, I'm not
awake, then it goes off and I am, funny that, you
take it for granted don't ya? but no, I was asleep,
dreaming about a parrot and a go-cart or
something, I can't remember, anyway, right, to the
Then a message popped up on my phone.

'Driing lesson, 10.30am'

I presumed 'Driing' lesson meant 'Driving
lesson', mainly because I wrote it and I remember
things I've wrote, plus, what else could it have
been, Drinking lesson? nah, not at 10.30 in the
morning, I certainly don't need help with that, I was
a student for eight years! Plus this morning I wasn't
hung over, a weird state for me on a morning, but
that meant I mustn't have drank the night before,
and if I didn't drink it probably meant I had
something important the next day, like a driving
So, I necked a cup of coffee, brushed me
teeth and went and drove about for a bit while a
man called Gary told me I was doing everything
wrong. Standard.
12.30pm came and I was back home, had
to feed the birds, cook some dinner, empty all the
photo's off of my camera's SD card then head to
the shops.
Three O'clock came, finally. I grabbed a
backpack and headed out. I live right on the market
square so the journey wasn't much to write about,
except to say that some kids have scratched a
swastika into the window of the new library, little
bastards. The library's in enough trouble as it is.

First shop - the chemist. The lass in there knows
me well, I'm always in picking up prescriptions for
me grandparents, I wander in, have a natter on with
her for a bit and when she asks if I'm there to pick
anything up I say no and tell her about this
creativity course, and how I'm just supposed to go
round the shops and notice things, I start asking
her questions and this is what I scribbled down in
me little notebook.

1 - The chemist's name is Emily Pankhurst, (the
same name as the woman's liberation wifey, that's
2 - There's a brand of paracetamol where you can
get 32 of them for 16p
3 - This particular chemist has been open for 52
4 - That means they must have served multiple
generations of the same family many times over
5 - There's a poster up on the wall saying
something about having a word with your chemist,
and on it are two Eclectus Parrots, a red and a
green one, the green one's are male and the red
one's are female. I imagine the chemist is the red
one, female, and the customer is the green one,
male, and that the male is only talking to the
chemist because he fancies her, and that each
week he makes up new illnesses so he can talk to
her again, but she doesn't get it, and just thinks
he's riddled with diseases. poor fella
6 - Emily's phone number is 079447***** (I've
replaced the end numbers with little stars, if you
want her number you'll have to get it yourself)


Right then, off to the next shop, the supermarket, I
notice they sell raspberries and 4 different kinds of
milk and crappy eggs as well as free range ones
(who the hell buy's crappy eggs anymore? it's two
thousand and twelve or somat, what's the craic with
that like?) and the fella on the counter is called
Bob. I didn't get his number though.

Then I went into the computer shop. Never been in
there before, The man looks a bit like Hulk Hogan,
that's something new I've noticed, now I've got a
talking point when telling my friends about where I
live. 'The man in the computer shop looks a bit like
Hulk Hogan' ...That's class craic that is, why aye!
Then I find out he's my friend Dave's uncle.
Mebbe I won't spread it about that I think his uncle
looks like Hulk Hogan, Dave's canny hard and he
might knack us like.

Next up: the fruit shop, where I will buy fruit, off
of the man who works in the fruit shop. I have a
shopping list app on my phone and i can tick off the
things as I walk round, makes it feel like an
accomplishment. I get bananas, pears, apples, a
lettuce, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes, plums and
pea-pods, the lass in there must think I'm proper
healthy, but I'm not, I just have eight parrots that
eat loads of fruit, I don't tell her that though, I want
her to think I'm proper healthy, so one day she
might ask me if I want to go round her house and
touch her and stuff, that'd be class.
I walk out of the shop twelve pound lighter
(in money) and about forty stone heavier (in carrier
bags full of taties and that) and realize as I've left
that I haven't noticed anything and in-fact failed
with my task. Bugger!
Next stop, Sproats'. This is a nice family run
shop, a mini-market I suppose, where they sell a lot
of the same stuff as the supermarket but a little bit
cheaper. in here I want soups, crisps, orange juice
and mint sauce.
I venture down the magazine isle, an isle I might
never have walked down before, and notice they
sell Hello! magazine, and that Hello! magazine has
an exclamation mark, as if it' happy to see me, it's
not happy to see me, it is a magazine
They also sell OK! magazine, and again it has
an exclamation mark after its title.
They sell Empire, a film magazine I used to
respect before I realized they were just selling
opinions of people who I've very little in common
with, they sell many news papers but not as single
good one like the Independent or the Guardian, just
them ones with the titles in red and big pictures of
celebrities on the front to catch they attention of the
single-celled organisms as they head to the Coca-
Cola isle and the tills before heading back to their
council houses with empty bookshelves and 50
inch televisions.
I get angry at the world, buy my soups and
crisps and mint sauce and leave. I think I've noticed
enough for today.
It occurs to me that the more I notice about
the world, the more I dislike its inhabitants.



The urinators map of

My adventures wandering around Manchester all
seemed to involve taking in lots of liquids, namely
this fluorescent orange home-brewed cider, the
kind you had to ask for behind the bar because the
legalities of selling home-brewed drinks in a public
house are complicated.
Since living in Manchester I've had a similar
drink in Scotland called Amber Jacks, I'm curious
as to whether this is what the publican was serving
us. I'm not going to complain, it was a very good
drink at knocking one's socks off, and on a hot day
the barrel would ferment and make the alcohol
content go from 7% to 12%. Jolly good value for
Having this much rocket fuel inside you requires
many more trips to the toilet than your average
adventure and I quickly became familiar with the
best places around the city to pop for a sly slash.
The first being the obvious back-alleys. There was
a mile long street of take-aways and restaurants I'd
often find myself walking down and one day I saw
the famous local homeless man, Gregory, emerge
from this alley doing up his fly. Gregory was an
interesting chap, I later found out he in fact had a
house and family but he just enjoyed the hustle and
bustle of the busy street and found he made alot
more money, and certainly ate better, through
begging than he would have made in any of the
professions he was qualified to work in, but that's
not the point. This alleyway he emerged from
became the first plot of my urinator's map of
I wish I'd taken the time to draw you this map
but I always thought it best be kept in my head, it'd
be a very odd thing to explain if I ever got stopped
and searched going into a gig or catching a plane
or something. Imagine telling a policeman that this
map was not a treasure map but it was, in fact, a
map of places I'd urinated in public.
Anyway, this map began in this alleyway, not that
night, the next time I walked past. If you carry on up
the alley after you've done your business you often
get a glimpse of a pretty asian lady in the back of
one of the shops, she blatantly knew what I was up
to but sod it, she was pretty.
The next plot thumb-tack placed on this
imaginary map was a park, it had a hedge you
could go in and be completely unseen, just feet
from one of the busiest streets in England.
Especially in the dark.
The next plot on the pisshead's ordinance
survey map was a bit away from the street but
there was a wishing well about 5 meters away from
it & as you probably know, when drunk, a wishing
well is better than a friend's grave, you can spend
hours talking away, putting the world to rights with
an imaginary entity which you, at that moment,
whole-heartedly believe in.
I never relieved myself in the wishing well,
That might be bad luck. Not that any of my wishes
came true.
Up the street from there was a back lane
between the houses which smelled like a lot of
people had deposited a lot of juices there, I tried to
avoid this one, but sometimes you just have to go.
That was the last spot I found for a good few miles,
mainly because my house was near there so I
could just go there, when I think about the amount
of wees and poos I'd done in the toilet of that house
I get a strange, warm feeling. - No, I hadn't wee'd
myself, I just miss that house, it was a real home.
Away from my walk home was where I found the
most interesting faux-urinals though. My favourite
have always been the posh hotels in the centre of
the city whos foyer and reception desks were out of
sight of the toilets. I always appreciate a nice posh
toilet, with nice soap, clean toilet seats and Dyson
Air-Blade hand-dryers, Don't get me started on the
A favourite has always been a football ground.
Right up against the outside of it, nothing seem to
show the loyalty you have to your football team like
watering the ground of your opponents team with
your home-brewed toxic waste. I'm not even that
much of a football fan, but this is one feeling I share
with the loutish football hooligans I try to avoid so
I've probably disgusted you in this chapter,
If I have disgusted anyone enough to stop reading,
I'm glad, If you've got this far then you're sound and
you accept the most basic of human traits, 'If you
drink it, you will wee'
I'll leave you with my final confession. It is
both big AND clever:
I done a wee up against the fence of
Buckingham Palace once. In the middle of the
night. It was great.


Age Of Genocide

Once again I'd failed. A simple test, all I had to do
was drive around the town I was born and I'd obtain
a license I'd been working towards, on and off
(mostly off) for eight years. I retreated to a dark
room a few miles from where I'd taken my test, and
proceeded to commit multiple accounts of mass

I began with a small town, I forgot the name, lets
call it My Town, I had fifty villagers, ten were
collecting wood from a nearby forest, ten owned
their own farms, twenty of them were builders and
the rest laid around forlorn listening to David
Bowie's The Bewlay Brothers, sometimes on
repeat, sometimes in the context of the album it
was originally presented on, which was also played
on repeat while my exercise into multiple mass
genocide took place.
I had no need for the arts, before this I
wrote a song a day, I'd learn a song I liked at the
time, Probably by Jack White, on guitar or piano.
Before this I averaged two thousand words a day
on a book I was writing. I'd listen to an hour or two
of radio from either America's finest station, WFMU,
or from England's finest, BBC 6 Music, constantly
updating my musical playlist by searching for the
song that was playing thanks to the DJ naming the
song, album and the label it was released on (a
rare find these days) or by Shazam-ing it on my
smart phone (an increasingly popular find these
So I started in the north west corner of this
particular world, my villagers built a healthy stock of
wood and food for me, occasionally I'd make the
population find me some stone or gold when we
came upon it, in what seemed like no time I had a
stock pile that rivaled those of towns with three
times the population of my own. But then I got
I took advantage of my opportunities to build
universities, churches, castles, barracks, archery
ranges, siege workshops and
blacksmiths. Chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and
I got power hungry, I sent scouts on horseback
into neighbouring towns looking for further gold and
stone deposits I could make use of, then, instead of
just asking them nicely if I could borrow some I'd
send 20 villagers and 20 archery experts in and just
take them, using my villagers to build a wall around
them and the archers to fend off anyone who
complained. Then, when the walls were built I'd
send the villagers on to build mines, If the locals
complained I'd built watch towers capable of firing
arrows and cannons at the poor local folk who
clearly had less food and gold than I. Sometimes I'd
take out the entire towns and rebuild them in my
own style just for the indescribable kick of being a
Failing my driving test had turned me in to a
horrible person.
A few days into my genocide kick and I'd
not written a song, learned a single bit of someone
else's music or indeed written a single chapter of a
book I was more than half way finished, yet I had
no regrets
I took charge of a new continent, this time
my own, the Britons was my choice, and my
mission was simple, to retrieve the religious relics
which the other countries had rightfully discovered
and stored in their Monasteries. This was to prove
too easy, so instead of demolishing their
monasteries I moved in quick, created 200 villagers
and just built walls around everything I saw, the
more villagers you have, the quicker things got
built, in five hours I'd imprisoned five other
civilizations to the confines of four, and sometimes
just three walls, I gained a sick pleasure from this
and carried on, I made a pathway between each
village, with big walls and even bigger watch
towers, capable of firing cannons on anyone trying
to stop me from imprisoning five innocent nations of
people, all of whom were my ally, but I didn't care, I
didn't want them collecting my religious relics, yet I
didn't want theirs,

I sat, at the end of the game, victorious, yet
strangely feeling bad for all these innocent towns-
folk who hadn't had the time, space, or resources to
advance to the Imperial Age like I had.
I sent a small army of archers, soldiers and
trebuchets to kill each and every one of them. It
was really quite beautiful.
Then I looked upon my map, which I had
truly conquered. I'd passed! I'd passed the test of
being worse than Hitler, Mubarak, Hussain, Stalin
and all the other sick dictators. I'd conquered the
world and made everyone suffer, not just from lack
of food and resources, but from the dredged
unhappiness that comes with imprisonment.

What a game.

Then I closed the window, opened a new document
and wrote about my newest alternative rambling

Tomorrow I shall leave the house. Perhaps.




My first experience of a rave was on television, a
documentary on channel 4 called Sheepshaggers,
a name given to the first ravers because a group of
welsh teenagers disappeared off into the
countryside one night and returned flustered, wide
eyed and shameful. They'd been dancing all night
while taking all sorts of pills and partying non-stop
with their friends to music pumped from record
players and generators by dj's who were similarly
off their faces. That was twenty to thirty years ago
though, I'd missed that boat due to the fact that I
was too busy playing with action figures and eating
This year, after meeting a group of other
people who liked a drink and listened to music, I
heard about the 'forest party', Sounds like a posh
version of a rave but it was a party in a forest, I
can't help what they called it.
A man who worked in our local independent
record shop seemed to be the Go-To man about it,
so a group of us went to the shop, browsed the
records, read the free magazines and fanzines, and
eventually, when the shop was quiet, we went up
and asked about the rave. He gave us a phone
number, telling us to ring it after 5pm on the day of
the party for instructions. There'd be an
answerphone message with directions to the
venue. We left excited, but unsure he'd given us
the right number, we were very young.
The day came, we gathered around 6pm
and called the number. The answerphone message
came, it directed us to a single-track road going out
of a village we'd only ever driven through. Then,
once on the road, we were to drive for three miles
until we saw a turning into a farmers field, a red VW
Polo would be parked at the entrance, we were to
drive into there and carry on for three hundred
meters, then get out of the car and walk towards
the music.
We set off, about 20 of us, 15 of us in other
people's cars, the other five in their own cars. They
were the other people.
When we'd passed the red VW and driven
along the track we could clearly hear the music, it
was in the adjacent forest, up a hill. We trekked up
the hill with bags filled with booze and eventually
saw the party. There was a gazebo with a
generator and the dj decks under it, then a circle of
people sat down, but most were in the middle,
dancing away to the records the DJ chose.
Not long after we arrived an old man with a
dog approached us, we asked how he'd heard
about the rave and shockingly he hadn't, he was
just walking his dog and stumbled upon it, I still find
this hard to believe as we were miles from
anywhere but since he was a lot older than anyone
there and nobody seemed to know who he was I
believed him, perhaps he had just stumbled upon
us. And if not, why would he have brought a dog?
I don't remember much else of that night,
except I woke up in a corn field a few miles away,
where I'd gone, originally intending to walk home,
but instead decided to stop and have a nap. Luckily
the next day it was sunny, so I went to the beach
and stared off into the horizon, thinking about the
previous nights exploits. The ones I remembered,
The one's I can't tell you about.


Norman Chinaski

Norman Chinaski
His eyes are wide and glassy
Suggested a rhinoplasty
He said he had bigger fish to fry

Lived anonymously
Preferred the weather windy
Had a girl called Cindy
Whos existence I doubt

Norman Chinaski
His name is Jewish, but is he?
Or is he fictionally
Engraved into my mind?

Norman the score man
He opened lots of doors, man
But once you saw inside them
You slammed them shut and hid.

He looked like an idol
Inside he's suicidal
A real inspired idle.
He talked but got nothing done

Norman Chinaski.
A little piece of nasty.
The humour of Arthur Askey,
The grace of a bag of hammers

Norman Chinaski
A much-loved cunt.



Bishy Porkland

Norman & I had been on a multi-month long bender
in a hidden away little village in the north when we
finally ran out of money. I retreated to my room and
wrote a few thousand words about the adventures
we'd been having, nothing feeds inspiration better
than sudden sobriety and the vague memories of
recent adventures.
I had no idea what Norman was doing, didn't
really think about it, I presumed he was fighting off
the treacherous loneliness and plaguing suicidal
thoughts with pictures of funny cats on the internet.
I received the occasional message from him,
usually a link to an entertaining graph, statistic,
article or, indeed, funny picture of a cat. I presumed
he was fine.
After a while he told me he had a cheque that
needed cashing, I asked where he'd gotten his
hands on such a bounty and with his answer I
found out what he'd been up to.
They were poker winnings. He'd been playing
multiple games at a time on different computers
with different accounts on different websites, He did
explain the details to me but they went over my
head, I've as much interest in gambling as I have in
obtaining wasp stings, but still, a cheque's a
The nearest bank was a ten mile round trip
away in a small town called Bishy Porkland, a town
known locally as where the mayor of the county
lives, but known to me as the place where, when I
was seventeen, I accompanied my then girlfriend,
Flora, when she went to Bishy Porkland hospital for
a stomach operation.
I've not got the warmest of nostalgic feelings
towards Bishy Porkland. However, a cheque's a
We set off not long after waking up,
sometime after noon. The weather was fine and we
still had many hours of light left, I'd planned a
shorter route with help from an Ordinance Survey
map that went through fields located between the
two possible road-routes to the town. One road
went through a few other villages, the other went
the scenic route, neither were quite as the crow
flies so I plotted a more direct route between the
Unfortunately, the Ordinance Survey map I used
was incorrect, a public footpath leading into a field
unfortunately lead to a field that had no exit, we
walked around the circumference of the field and
ended up back where we started, there was horses
in the surrounding fields and Norm & I had recently
had a bad experience with a gang of horses.
Bloody horses, I hate horses, and I hate inaccurate
Ordinance Survey maps.
We instead took the road route, a little out of the
way, and I was nearly flattened by an overtaking
Ford Escort coming from behind (we were, of
course, walking in the direction of traffic, as stated
in the Highway Code, and with the amount of bends
and blind summits on this road we didn't expect
people behind us overtaking, but we sharp learned
our lesson)
The walk there was quite uneventful, and
unsurprisingly too, we were both sober, what's the
point in walking in the British countryside to places
with names like Bishy Porkland if you can't gleg yer
grog? But we had a target, just less than 5 miles
and then we could drink and walk back, enjoying
the route instead of just marching onward.
The time passed, we perhaps walked faster than
we should have and tired ourselves out a little, but
it was enjoyed none-the-less. When we got to the
bank I sat on a bench outside and befriended an
old man called Bob, he told me how he'd lived in
the village we'd walked from thirty-seven years
previously and commended us on walking. Rightly
so, not a lot of people would have walked, but we
like walking. Walking's great.
As soon as I started drinking it suddenly
became a good idea to go and look at a bench.

Isn't that always the case?

This bench did have a particular sentimental
value to it though, eight years previously, when
accompanying the aforementioned ex girlfriend to
the hospital, we took a walk through the Bishy
Palace gardens and took advantage of the
otherwise awkward day out, culminating in the
carving of our names into a bench located near a
strange brick building I later found out was a deer
pen, a place where the high-up rich cunts of the
seventeen or eighteen hundreds kept all their deer.
The names were carved into the shape of a heart
and the last time I was in the area I came by and
checked it was still there, can't remember how long
ago that was, probably when I was about twenty-
one and took a bottle of cheap wine along for an
emotional wander down memory lane. That was
four years ago though, before the recession, before
Woolworths' shut down! Who knew what could
have happened to a bench. So we went and had a
At first I couldn't see it, I was a little gutted,
although we'd been broken up for six years now
there was still this carving, a tiny little bit of hope a
drunken me could hold on to (a sober me couldn't
give a fuck) Then I looked closer and sure enough,
in all it's heavily weathered glory, was a faint trace
of our two names; the heart was gone completely,
but I do seem to remember rushing the heart and
not spending as much time on it as I did the names,
by then I was probably tiring of carving things into
wood and more concerned about using my hands
for their true purpose, touching the pretty teenage
girlfriend I had next to me.
Norm & I drank on a different bench,
understandably, sitting on that bench eight years
after such a day, with a man named Norman,
wasn't quite my idea of fun, so we went to a bench
with a better view and drank, and drank, and drank.
On leaving, things started going crazy,
expectedly, we were drunk. First we talked about
how amazing the sunset looked from the tree we'd
been pissing against, then we climbed the walls of
the deer pen, about fifteen feet up, I'm surprised we
didn't fall off but sod it, it was fun. On the way home
there was a footbridge, Norman ran up and pissed
off the top on to passing traffic. He was very proud
of this, and I was very proud to know him, it was a
great achievement at the time, I loved it.
Not so much now. But, show me a man
who's never done something stupid on a drunken
walk home and I'll show you a liar, and if they're not
a liar I bet their craic's shit.



Base Infiltration (part 2)

I stood over the rotting corpse wondering what I
had done.
Not really, I just fancied starting a chapter like
that, not written about death before, and this
chapter, which I was really excited about writing,
has pretty much turned sour. When I wrote part one
of Base Infiltration I imagined it spanning out into a
series of action, adventure, perhaps even
espionage stories, like a series of novels about a
spy or ex-SAS crew, only, like, set in a small village
in the north of England.
Then I got the message that shot down all my
dreams for this mini-series.

'The base is gone. Gutted!'

Norman was visibly gutted the next time I saw him,
a gloomy mist overshadowed everything that night,
tried cheering us up but instead just drank and
talked about how good it could have been. Once
we'd drank enough to have accepted the fact we
began talking about perhaps building our own den,
a lot better hidden than theirs, but really we knew
we wouldn't do it. We're twenty-five now, we have
houses to sit in, with computers and microwaves.



The other side of the world.

Once again, I'm beginning a journey on the
Megabus. I am a classy boy.
This time I'm en route to Heathrow though,
where I'll spend twenty-something hours bumming
around the airport before checking-in, getting
checked out, boarding and waiting before a twenty-
five hour flight to the other side of the world. Not
your average Megabus trip then. Well, not mine,
plenty people have probably started a journey to
the other side of the world with a trip on the
I used up all my phone battery on the bus. I'd
spent the previous night out with Poison Ivy and her
sisters in Newcastle. We returned at three or four in
the morning and I lay with her on her floor with my
head on her stomach for hours, talking about
everything and nothing. I can't remember why we
weren't sleeping, maybe it was because we'd
broken into the house as she'd left her key and her
new boyfriend wouldn't answer his phone as he
was sleeping, leaving a big hole in the back window
in quite a dodgy town, or maybe it was because we
knew we wouldn't see each other for ages, when I
returned from my expedition to the other side of the
world I'd planned to move to London and go to film
school there. Plus her boyfriend didn't really like us
seeing each other, we had a very colourful history
and he could smell trouble brewing whenever I was
around. Poison Ivy and I were both nice, very good
people, but together we're naughty little fuckers.
First thing I had to do at the airport then was to
charge my phone, I had family members to
reassure, one conversation with my girlfriend at the
time Flora and one with Poison Ivy (yes, I spent my
final night with her and not my actual girlfriend, that
says everything) I found a coffee shop with a plug,
it was about five in the morning so I drank a lot of
coffee and sent text messages to everyone I could
think of who'd be awake to keep me entertained.
The bar opened at nine, in the morning, god
bless airports is all I can say, they know the score! I
tried to resist, knowing my flight wasn't until the
night and if I started drinking in the morning I'd
never be allowed on the plane, but it wasn't long
before I talked myself into getting plastered in a
short amount of time before spending the mid
afternoon/evening drinking coffee and trying to
have a little nap before the plane.
I didn't have a lot of holiday money, but I didn't
need a lot, I was off to visit my mum, she'd feed
me, and airport bars are expensive, so I waxed the
lot that day.
The coffee plan worked, plus I'd brought a book
so I was easily distracted from needing another
drink all afternoon, they let me on the plane no
Then the serious drinking started. Brandy is free
on the plane, plus I'd brought Gin from the duty-free
shop in my hand luggage, so when the air hostess
told me she thought I'd had enough I could start
drinking my Gin, out of a water bottle, like a ninja! I
watched the film Juno three times and listened to
Elbow's album, Seldom Seen Kid, over and over,
as we took off the runway the song Weather To Fly
came on, the opening lyrics,

"Are we having the time of our life?
Are we coming across clear?
Are we coming across fine?
Are we part of the plan here?
Are we having the time of our lives?",

mixed with the thought of the great few years I'd
just had (my first five years of living alone) family,
friends, and, of course, Poison Ivy, brought a tear
to my eye.
The next day, when I'd made it to the other side
of the world I read on the internet that pop singer
Lily Allen had tweeted something about taking off in
a plane and the same song came on, making her
shed a tear. Bitch, get your own story, Silly Allen.
The other side of the world looked a lot like my
side of the world, the grass was a slightly darker
green than the television had shown me, the cars
were all just about the same, although a lot of them
were older as this country seemed to still be going
through the 1970's, and what's more, the cars had
problems too, I'd never seen a car break down in
other countries on television, but sure enough on
the drive from the airport to my mum's house the
car broke down. Her new boyfriend had to come
give our engine a jump.
"Not exactly the way I thought I'd meet you" he
"No" I agreed. We shook hands and that was
that, not weird at all!
I spent the next four months watching films, TV
shows, drinking and catching up with mum.
I didn't have enough money to really explore the
country, I'd had all these wild plans about going to
the place where bungee jumping was invented and
doing a bungee jump, maybe I'd try snowboarding
or any of a whole wealth of winter sports, however
the grim reality is that whenever I go somewhere
the tourist in me fucks off to the pub and sits with
the locals complaining about 'bloody tourists'. Plus
activities require money, I've never had a lot of
money, and what money I have had has always, in
my mind, been better off spent in a pub making
friends and memories than fluttering away on an 'I
[love heart] <insert place-name here>' t-shirt. I tried
making friends but the pub culture there isn't a
scratch on the Brits, we've cornered the market on
pubs I reckon, I found a few good ones at the other
side of the world but for a proper pub experience I
think Her Majesty, while off conquering all but
twenty-two of the world's countries, kept all her best
pubs right here, although admittedly she put most
of them in the north, imagine having them all in
London? that'd be mental.
Since the craic in the pubs was shite I took to
buying either a crate of local beer and sitting in
front of the television or buying an easier-to-carry
box of wine and trekking across the vast
landscapes of the country. I wish I could remember
more of them to regale you with but I'm not going to
lie, it was pretty boring.
Except, however, the one I do remember.
I crossed a river leading out of the town, a river
known for it's brown trout, there was even a statue
in the centre of the town of a giant brown trout.
Rest-assured, I kept the toilet humour coming thick
and fast. Brown trout! Ha!
I ventured up a hill I'd seen from my window for
a couple of months and wanted to conquer, I got to
the top in less than an hour and wanted more, so I
kept on walking. It was a good few miles before I
was somewhere where no-one would hear you
scream, which was fitting, because it was around
that time I found myself locked in a field with a bull.
It grunted. I shat myself. It's front left leg started
digging away at the ground, like in a cartoon. I kept
shitting myself. It started running. I just kept shitting
my pants. Took me a while to start running but
while running I kept shitting my pants. I got to a
fence and saw a sign informing me that, very
helpfully, this fence was electric. Someone thought
it'd be a good idea to mix electricity with a fence.
I've jumped over a lot of fences, but never an
electric one. I put my hand on the wooden post, I'm
just-about-not-stupid-enough to know that wood
isn't a conductor of electricity, I jumped and put the
rubber sole of my boot on the top wire of the fence
and catapulted myself over.
Oh yes, I had out-witted a bull!
Until I started going back down on the other side
of the fence, then I caught the wire with my calf and
a million-billion volts shot through me and I died.
Or so I thought.
I laid there for ages with my eyes closed.
'So, this is the afterlife' I thought. 'Am I even
dead? I must be dead, that fence was keeping a
bloody bull in, bulls can withstand a lot more
electricity than humans, probably, so, therefore, I
was just given a dose of electricity that was
prescribed to a bull. Like, how a horse-sized dose
of Ketamine is far greater than the human sized
dose, and medicine and electricity are just the
same, it's all science, surely!'
I heard the bull grunting just feet away from my
head. My eyes opened. I was alive. I was
surprisingly less relieved than I'd expected, I sort-of
liked an existence of thought. Just thinking things,
in the dark. But, alas, I was just lying with my eyes
I stood up. 'Perhaps I can withstand super-
human amounts of electricity' I thought, 'Maybe I
can make lots of money off of this with a TV show
where I do silly stunts with electricity, the least I
could do is tour around with a freak-show and get
money that way. Of course'
Later someone told me that those fences have a
tiny amount of electricity in them and that bulls are
just pussies. I should have just persuaded him to
lick a battery and left the way I came, through the
non-electrified gate at the bottom of the field.
'Shit' I thought, 'I left the gate open'
I scarpered pretty quickly.

I went on lots of little adventures like that. None as
memorable, but none were bad, at least. After all, I
was on the other side of the world, can't really
complain. Only a cunt would complain about a free
holiday on the other side of the world. The other
side of the fucking world!
On one trip to a nearby city I got to drive on a
beach too, I'd never thought of driving on a beach,
turns out it's fucking awesome. Although I did get a
flat tire and have to change it before the tide came
in and swept my mum's boyfriend's car away, when
we had no tools and had to borrow a jack from a
group of stoners sat in their car doing drugs on the
beach. but fuck it, The other side of the world,



Base Infiltration (part 3)

All was not lost.

A few days after the initial message telling me the
base had been destroyed I was watching
countdown and my pocket started vibrating.
Another message. From Norman - we never really
messaged each other casually, only when there
was something important to say. I rushed my hand
into my pocket faster than a thieving child in a
sweet shop and retrieved the portable messaging
machine that was causing my anxiety. I messed up
the screen lock five times and had to wait thirty
seconds to try again, I had a quiet word with myself
to calm down a bit and breathe before rushing,
maybe it wouldn't be something I'd want to read,
maybe someone had died. Not likely, Norm & I
didn't have any mutual friends, in fact I'd never
seen him with anyone else, we'd occasionally be
outside or in a corner shop together but he always
got me to go to the counter and get everything. I'm
not sure he was very good at talking to strangers.
The thirty seconds passed. I calmly removed the
screen lock and read the message.
'Hey man, that base hasn't gone, it's just moved
further into the woods.
My imagination raced with all the
possibilities this message had inspired. I wanted to
go check it out straight away but it was nearly home
time for the kids who'd built it so Norm talked me
out of it. Instead we said we'd check it out the next
That night, however, was Guy Fawkes night, We
spent the evening rambling along the hilly skyline of
the quaint little town we'd both been assigned to be
bored in, setting off fireworks at such acute angles
that instead of going up in the air they shot along
the floor, down the hill, and although not near
enough to the town to actually do any damage, the
thrill of the thought of it was enough to entertain us
non-stop. By the time we were heading home it was
two, maybe even three o'clock in the morning & we
realized that the kids would have been long gone
from their den in the woods. We excitedly went off
to investigate.
Being drunk, the first obstacle stopping us from
infiltrating this groups camp was probably the most
perilous, but we'd been playing with fire all night so
we weren't going to be scared off by a little water.
The stream rushing along the front of the camp was
luckily quite shallow, I'd seen it much higher just a
few weeks beforehand when an annoying spell of
torrential rainfalls flooded half the town and made
the other half turn from comfy-country folk to
whining miserable gits, I love rain, but that's not the
The kids had laid a few wooden boards across
stones in the stream and although they wobbled a
bit it was fine to cross, carefully looking out for trip-
wire and booby-traps we pulled back a plastic sheet
and uncovered a one room flat which, if it had
electricity, I'd probably pay rent for. Massive
sections of fence, maybe seven or eight feet tall,
were nailed to trees creating a long rectangular
room maybe twelve feet wide and twenty feet long.
At the end there was a bed with a plastic sheet, it
was tied up but if you let it down it'd give the people
in the bed a little privacy. Norm & I made jokes
about how many of the little bastards lost their
virginity in it before realising it was probably true
and shuddering at the thought before realising how
jealous we were, when we were that age our dens
didn't have beds, we had to be imaginative when
looking for places to take girls and more often than
not ended up behind a bin or in a hedge
Bloody kids; don't know they're born.
Along each wall leading to the bed there
were couches and armchairs, quite good ones too,
all second, third and probably even fourth hand like
but definitely not unusable.
I thought of all the homeless people I'd
talked to who'd appreciate this, then thought about
how it was wasted on spoilt kids with 3D Nintendo
Gameboys and Netbooks and stuff.
Eventually, tiredness took over. We couldn't
exactly sleep there, there was a bed but it'd be cold
and probably damp, so we left for the comfort of our
own beds. We left a little spraying of litter in the
camp as a sign that someone was there and that
we're onto them and know about their base. The
ball's in their court now.



Eighteenth Birthday Crane
Climbing Bonanza

My birthday is very close to Valentines Day. Four
days away from it in fact, I'd never had a girlfriend
on Valentines Day before so this year I was on a
real high. I was living in my second house, which
was a hundred times better than the first one and a
million times better than not having a house. My
girlfriend, Flora, had taken the week off of work
(she was training to be a primary school teacher)
so as to spend Valentines Day and my birthday
with me. We had loads planned, I lived in the
middle of the city so the world was at our fingertips,
we could go out and do just about anything we
wanted. We spent the first night planning and got
all excited about our week of fun, I only worked two
hours a day myself then, six til eight in the morning
sweeping the floors at a local department store,
since there were no customers in I could be as
hung over or zombielike as I wanted, which worked
well for me as I was always hung over AND
zombielike on a morning.
We spent the first day in bed. It was Valentines
Day after all. She went overboard on presents,
three Gio-Goi t-shirts, a little ornament of a bear
holding a love heart saying something like 'I love
you' and a mug with the same picture on, minus the
writing. I still use that mug to this day, not for
sentimental reasons, I've just never bothered
getting another mug, it's not broken, why spend
valuable drinking money on a mug?
I can't remember what I got her.
The next day we'd planned to go to a cafe for
breakfast, spend the day shopping, go to the
cinema in the afternoon and a bar on the night.
Instead we slept in, watched The Rules Of
Attraction and some chick-flicks (I forget which) in
bed, drank wine and ate a stir-fry.
The next day we decided we should move our
schedule for the day around and do all the things
we'd planned on doing the previous day, however,
after getting home from work at eight in the morning
I realized how much I needed my bed and we
ended up spending another day there, watching
films and eating fish finger sandwiches.
The next day came, we'd christened it my
birthday eve, where we'd go out look around the
cathedral and museums and stuff. But we didn't, we
stayed in bed.
Then my birthday came. I'd taken the day off
and for the first time all week we had a proper lie in.
I was supposed to meet friends that night, partly to
show-off my pretty girlfriend, partly because it was
also my friend Ben's birthday. We'd spent the last
few birthdays having joint celebrations so it was a
given that this year would be the same, only this
year I'd have a girl with me so I wouldn't get quite
as messed up as I had the previous years.
At about eight o'clock that evening I sent out a
text message saying I was staying in bed.
I put my phone on silent and put it down beside
the bed, I didn't look at it until midnight, by which
time Flora had fallen asleep due a combination of
lack of interest in whatever films I wanted to watch
on my birthday and the tiredness that comes with
spending the whole day in bed with your eighteen
year old boyfriend. When I did check my phone
there was a bunch of texts saying I should go out
and that I was a puff for spending my birthday in
the house. The last of the texts read simply
'We're gonna climb these cranes tonight, you
should come'
There was a lot of construction going on in the
city, it's quite a small city and from most places you
can see the only four cranes, one building a
swimming baths, one building a college, one across
the river building a hotel and the other, on the other
side of the city, putting up student halls of
residence. My friends were adventurers like me, but
with a bit more of a need for an adrenaline rush. I'm
quite happy walking across a fell and occasionally
jumping over a fence is the only bit of adrenaline I
need, but these lads were 'urban explorers', they
climbed buildings, scaffolding and all sorts. The
previous summer the church in the market place
had scaffolding all round it while the spire was
being fixed, one friend, Johnny, climbed up it in
broad daylight when the market place was full of
people, then, when he got back down, some other
lads wanted to climb it so Johnny went back up with
them to show them the safest route.
I didn't climb the church's scaffolding that day. I
did climb it another time, when it was night and
there was no one around, but not in the daytime.
I laid next to Flora, I gently moved my left arm,
the arm she was leaning her head on, and she
didn't flinch, I slid it out from under her, I wasn't
bothered if she did wake up, she was beautiful and
I'd happily spend more time in bed with her, but
when she didn't wake up I suddenly got the buzz of
adventure, got dressed in my new t-shirt and best
jeans, and headed to Wetherspoons to meet the
They were quite far ahead of me drink-wise, I'd
had a bottle of wine in the house but these had
been out for hours, I decided to catch up with a
series of Jager-bombs and treble brandies, my
favourite tipple.
An hour or three later and we were at
Loveshack, a god awful club I try to never admit to
going to but since its open later than the other bars
I'd ended up in there on many nights, luckily I don't
remember any of them. Its one redeeming feature
is the VW camper van they've gutted out and
added a table and chairs to make into a seating
booth for four people and the ice cream van they've
made into a cloak room, but you soon get over how
good they are after three god-awful RnB songs by
singers who've never experienced rhythm nor
The music stops, the lights come on and we
share an excited glance, we're about to go climb up
some cranes while intoxicated so heavily It'd be ill-
advised for us to climb a mere set of stairs.
First we went to the pizza shop and bought
loads of food to eat atop these thin metal structures
hundreds of feet up in the sky, and then we headed
to the first conquest, the new swimming baths.
It was easy enough to get in to, we just slipped
under the foot-tall gap under the fence, not the best
security in the world. We noticed that a lot more of
the baths had been built than we'd previously seen,
and the ground floor windows hadn't been put in yet
so we ran in and jumped into the empty swimming
pool, there we were in the town's new pool before
even a drop of water was hosed into it. We were
pioneers! We christened it by being the first people
to piss in the pool. Looking back it was fucking
stupid, but that night we were Neil fucking
Armstrong having one small piss on a night out,
one giant leak on local architecture and council run
sports facilities,
There was stairs up to a second level, we found
all sorts of tools and things to play with, then on to
the third level, the roof. There was no stairs, just a
ladder up to where I presume a stair well will be.
We climbed the ladder, sat on the edge of the
building and ate our pizzas, looking over the city
and the cranes we were about to conquer.
Quite stupidly we began shouting at the people
below us, it was three or four in the morning but
there was still the odd drunkard on his way home or
unfortunate worker with an early morning start on
his commute. When we finished the pizzas we
climbed down the ladder, down the stairs, jumped
back in the pool, jumped out again and left under
he gap in the fence heading for the crane next to
the new hotel.
As we crossed the bowling alley car park a
police car pulled in and stopped right in front of us,
with it's headlights illuminating us & casting giant
shadows of us up against the bowling alley.
"Alright boys, what're you up to?"
"We're just off home like, it's me birthday" Ben
"Aye mine n'all" I add, trying to get in on the
inevitable reply of 'Happy birthday boys, be on your
way then'
No such luck.
"Been climbing around on dangerous building
sites have we?" the officer said assumedly, 'Fancy
not wishing us a happy birthday' I thought.
"Eh? nah, we were climbing the walls in the
pizza shop like, they took ages, dunno about any
building sites though" I confidently offered as a
solid alibi. We were clever enough to have brought
our litter with us from the roof of the swimming
baths, we may be trespassers, but we're no
"I'll have to take your names, addresses and
dates of birth" the officer insisted, he looked at me
first. I, drunkenly, thought it'd be very clever to give
a fake name and address, we were actually walking
in the opposite direction of my house so telling him
my real address wouldn't seem real anyway. I said
something generic like Jack Smith or something
and gave an address of a house on the other end
of town. I gave my real date of birth, remembering
that I had already told him it was my birthday. Next
he looked at my friend Rob and asked his name
"Robert Hook" he replied
Fuck. That was his real name. Here we go.
Luckily the officer didn't radio our names in. I've
been stopped a few times and they always radio
your names in to see if you're wanted or something,
perhaps it was the fact that it was two of our
birthdays, perhaps it was the fact that we still had
our litter from the pizza shop and any real criminals
would have littered a building site without thinking
twice about it. Perhaps he just had proper criminals
to be chasing and couldn't be arsed with the
paperwork, either way he let us off and we headed
to Ben's to sit around his kitchen table to laugh
about the night.
At five in the morning I went back home, snook
into bed with Flora, spent half an hour cuddling her
before getting up and going to work for 6 am. That
shift was a good one. They always were after a
good adventure.



This cunted circus (part 1)

I worked in a saloon. 2008 or 2009, I don't
remember exactly when, but I was in my early
twenties and it was the perfect job at the time, the
owners were never around, they were always in a
quieter pub on the other side of the town. This
place, though, was a noisy pit for degenerates. It
looked like hormones and smelt like piss. Never
used to smell that bad, before the smoking ban it
was a lovely smokey place that lived up to it's
name, The Good-Time Saloon. I worked there
when the smoking ban came in, must have been
2007 then, where does it all go?
When the ban came in we didn't enforce it
immediately, we were waiting to see if everywhere
else would take it seriously, luckily it was July so
the weather wasn't too bad & customers were
mostly in the beer garden anyway, but letting staff
smoke while they were on the bar encouraged
them to take less breaks, which was good, I
One day I was a bit late for work, about fifteen or
twenty minutes, I walked in & instead of the usual
cheer you get when you walk into a place 'where
everybody knows your name' I was bombarded
with abuse for being a bit late on a match-day, the
two local teams were playing & I was the only one
who knew how to work the televisions (they're run
through a computer so we can stream the matches
illegally off the internet).
As you're probably noticing, this bar isn't the
most above-board establishment, but it's not like it's
a surprise to anyone locally, back in the sixties and
seventies it was a Hell's Angels bar. The police
were scared to come anywhere near, Of course, it's
different now, people are different, society's
different, The Good-Time Saloon became the home
of the local punk population in the late seventies
and eighties before becoming over-run by metal-
heads in the nineties. Now the lot of them all mix
together & it's impossible to tell who belongs to
what tribe anymore, what does it matter anyway,
they judge each other by what phones they have
now, your musical taste is as unimportant as your
sexuality or ethnicity in a city this big. We do all
share a common belief though, that Coldplay are
Amid the barrage of 'Get him sacked' and 'What
time d'ya call this' I noticed a disgruntled murmur
from the corner, genuinely unhappy to see me. I
immediately wanted to go straight to her and plead
my innocence but it wouldn't have helped, she's
never going to believe I didn't send those emails,
and anyway, I had a job to get on with, & I was
already late.
She sent her sister to the bar for her, obviously
she didn't want to speak to me, but to send her
sister when her gay best friend would clearly have
been a better option was madness, I mean, I hadn't
slept with him.
We share the awkward glance of two people
who'd been up to something they shouldnt have & I
proceeded to serve her while avoiding eye-contact
& without the usual small-talk I gave punters.
Interestingly, I did notice she'd brought back three
empty pints of lager but she was ordering three
double-vodka's. So instead of leaving, they were
just moving on to stronger drinks. Maybe I would
get to talk to them at some point. I started drinking
too, I drank on most shifts, but I usually took my
time, made a pint last an hour or two. This shift I
must have drank half the top shelf.
I love match-days. We live between two of the
biggest cities in our region and the clientele
supporter ratio is about half and half. The rivalry is
a bitter one & most years someone'll get stabbed
outside one of the gastropubs in the centre of town.
Our lot are more likely to fight over bands or girls
though, so match day in The Good-Time Saloon
always was, indeed, a good time.
I finished early in the evening & Ivy, her sister,
and her gay friend were still in the bar, now
accompanied by the local bike, a lass called
Sammie who'd been with everyone in the town
who'd have her. Normally I'd have gone home to
eat before coming back out for the band, if there
was one on, there usually was on a match day,
even if it was just the local favourites Summersby
Sixty Nine or The Bastard Sons of a Caravan,
bands who we're always on call to cover when
another band phoned up and cancelled, mainly
because they'd already be in the pub, propping up
the bar, just being fans, like the rest of us. If I didn't
go home to eat I'd at least go down the street to the
sandwich shop and get the breakfast sandwich, two
eggs, two sausages, four slices of bacon, black
pudding, beans and tomatoes, the perfect stomach
lining to prepare for a night on the grog. That night I
wasn't bothered about lining my stomach, I
probably just had some crisps or something then a
dirty great big kebab on the way home, I don't
What I do remember, however, is spending the
whole night talking to two of my friends and a
mysterious new female friend of theirs who I'd
never met before. I remember her so well because
at about ten o'clock Ivy & her friends left & I
suddenly noticed I'd been talking to the sexiest girl
in the bar all night, she was absolutely gorgeous,
and there I was talking to her for about four hours
about how I'd lost Ivy and how much I loved Ivy and
Ivy this and Ivy that and Ivy Ivy Ivy Ivy Ivy. 'What a
dick' I thought. I tried to compensate but felt like a
fool, for the first time all night I asked her a
question, I asked what she did, work-wise. Then I
asked another, I asked why I'd not seen her before,
turned out she'd just moved here from a town not
far away but with no busses after 6pm so no real
opportunities to come through. I jokingly tell her I
don't really notice people until after 6pm due to an
obscure law which stopped me from being able to
lift my head up til evening-time as a condition of my
hangover. She laughs, it's then that I realize that
although I'd spent the whole night boring her with
my constant whining and pining for another girl, she
stayed and listened. She was beautiful, she could
have had any of the lads in there, but she was sat
with me. Her two friends, who I knew, had been
having their own conversations at the other end of
the table for the whole night, probably a lot more
entertaining than mine, but she'd chosen to let me
annoy her. I looked around and noticed every lad in
there, and even some of the lasses, looking over at
her occasionally, I looked back at her and she was
indeed phenomenally beautiful. Long black hair -
my favourite kind! Nice big bust - My favourite kind!
And a sweet voice to accompany what I'd later
discover to be a filthy mind - also my favourite!
There's nothing better than a seemingly sweet and
innocent girl who turns out to be nothing but pure
filth, and here I was boring her with stories of a
seemingly filthy girl who turned out to be real filth. I
switched into my charming & flirty mode, not
intentionally I was pretty drunk by now, but I
started buying all the drinks, though I didn't tell her
about my 100% staff discount, but she'd paid for
her own until then, that's how little I'd noticed her.
Before we knew it we were falling over drunk in my
kitchen at five o'clock in the morning trying to
concentrate on cooking a fish finger stir-fry.
The next morning I wake up but lie with my eyes
closed for a good while, not realising I was laid next
to someone until my memory of the night before
gets past the thought of seeing Ivy for the first time
in ages. When I realize what happened next my
eyelids shoot open & I'm genuinely shocked at the
beauty of this girl lying next to me. The bed's a
mess, neither of us are covered, she's scratched,
all up her back, I check and so am I. I put my arm
around her, our breathing synchronizes, then our
pulses, she puts her arm around mine and
snuggles in. it's perfect.
She starts moving, gently rubbing against me, it
continued until were in the act, we moved around
quite a bit, but then there's a weird moment where
her eyes shot open & she looked around as if she
didn't know where she was, I panicked a little, but
then she looked into my eyes and smiled.
"Good morning you!" she said in a happy voice,
the voice I use when I fall into my bed at the end of
a days work & am really happy to be there. I'm
taken aback a bit by the fact that although she
initiated what was going on five or ten minutes
earlier she had only just woken up now. Perhaps
even her sub-conscience wants me! Whatever, at
least she doesn't think I'm raping her. I carry on &
we set the precedent for a really good day.
We eventually got up & got dressed, our clothes
were outside of my room and littered down the
staircase, I realize my door was open & we didn't
have a quilt or blanket covering us as it was a warm
night. I lived with 5 other people, mostly students,
and this had happened before, where me being
drunk when I came home resulted in them getting
an eye-full in the morning, but today was probably a
bit better for them. A bit.



Base infiltration (part 4)

While wandering around this sleepy little village I'd
somehow ended up in I was thinking to myself
about the appalling graffiti the area had. The best
probably being the names of two teens written in
the shape of a heart, and if that's the best then the
rest must be pretty awful. The library recently
changed location to the old council buildings and
someone had scratched swastikas into the
windows, I presume it was children and not actual
Nazis because the arms of the swastika were
pointing in the wrong direction, but then again
Nazis aren't very clever so maybe it was them.
It had rained so my opinion of these
prepubescent artworks was always going to be
biased anyway, no matter who the artist is, if you're
being rained on in the gallery you're probably not
going to enjoy it as much, especially with grammar
as bad as exhibited here.
Then I had an epiphany. What if I used graffiti to
educate the current youth population of this little
town, I could write out dictionary entries for words
like 'your' and 'you're', punctuation tutorials
perhaps, even lists of possible alternatives to some
of the words kids overuse now, like 'random' and
'epic', from a thesaurus.*
As I thought more about it it seemed a little
snooty and stuck-up to attack their grammar, these
were council estate kids from working class
families, they'd probably just assume a posh boy
from the south had come to their village, got drunk
on posh wine with his posh pals and gone on a
vandalism campaign with a marker pen.
Then I thought about quotes from people they'd
relate to, and then I thought about quotes from
people they wouldn't relate to, then I remembered
the Keats and Dylan Thomas poetry books I had at
home. 'Perfect' I thought. 'They'll bloody hate that'
A few days later I was on one of my ill fated
sobriety binges. I'd drank every night for as long as
I could remember then had a bad experience one
night, where Norm & I ventured off into the woods
and had quite a few too many drinks around a fire,
fallen out, fallen out more, then fallen out even
more until it began to resemble a fight. A fight with
bottles involved, the glass kind that put you in
hospital if you're hit with one across the head by
someone like me, a drunken idiot who thinks it's
really important that I make you as unconscious as
possible so that you'll stop annoying me.
I remembered the fight, it was about a girl we'd
both recently fallen for who he'd claimed dibs on
but who, one drunken night after falling out with her
boyfriend, had come to my house crying when I
was conveniently horny. I can't help myself when in
that state so I refuse to take the blame.
Plus you can't just call dibs on people. Unless
it's me doing it, I'm allowed.

*Me, talking about bad grammar! Indeed.

Anyway, I killed Norm. But just a bit. I couldn't
feel a pulse for a minute or two, I sat back to take
stock of the situation, then after a while I had a big
gulp of what wine was left and he spluttered and
coughed so I guess he'd regained consciousness. I
was used to him dying anyhow, the daftie was
always dying of something. I left him in the woods
after making sure the fire wouldn't burn out for a
while, when I woke up the next morning I decided I
needed to stop drinking for a while, can't go round
killing people any more. Especially not my friend.
I lasted until about 7pm.
So did Norman.
Turns out he'd had the same idea, after waking
up in the woods with a lump on his head and no
memory of the night before he figured he should
probably stop too, but come 6 or 7 o'clock the
memory of what it was like taking on the world
without a boozy swagger slowly came back and
seemed like a bloody stupid idea. I often bump into
Norman in the Off License, a lot of our finest
adventures have started when we ran into each
other in pursuit of a bottle o' grog. That day was
awkward at first though, he seemed happy to see
me, though I was shitting myself because last time I
saw him I killed him, that's never a good start to a
conversation, after a few lines of dialogue I won't
bore you with however I'd learned that he had no
memory of the incident at all, I told him he'd
bumped his head on a tree when he'd gone for a
piss and slipped over, he seemed to believe it.
What you don't know can't hurt you. Just kill you, a
"So where are we going then?" he asked. I
loved his certainty that we were going to drink
together. The thought that we'd go back to our
separate homes was preposterous. The adventure
had already begun.
In anticipation of an unexpected adventure I'd
packed my Dylan Thomas book in my bag (the
Keats one was too heavy, three inches thick!) and a
marker pen. I told Norm the plan and we headed to
a bench up Chapel Hill, a great place to start
because it was quiet and since it wasn't dark yet I
thought we should start on the quiet places. We got
to a bench, started drinking until we got the
courage to be vandals (we're lovely lads really, not
hardened criminals like the 12 year old wall-
scribblers of this town) and didn't stop, mainly
because the idea became stupid, especially on
Chapel Hill, it's lovely up there, there's a Chapel,
obviously, and some nuns live nearby, and a nice
American man and some old people. We needed a
new plan, we needed to hit the kids on their own
turf, not on religious/elderly people lived. I have a
certain respect for religious people, and old people,
mainly because I believe in neither religion nor
growing old.
We headed to the camp we'd recently found, in
some woods, over a stream. It was dark now,
they'd all be in bed, it was a Sunday I think, or a
weekday, either way it was a school night so we'd
be okay to go in without seeming like bullies or
When we entered I immediately started looking
for the best wall to write on, found a nice clear one
that didn't have any shitty teenage declarations of
love scrawled on the walls and got to work
transcribing great literature onto a wall where the
local shitty teenage population would actually see
it. I chose the poem O Make Me A Mask, it goes:
O make me a mask and a wall to shut from your
Of the sharp, enameled eyes and the spectacled
Rape and rebellion in the nurseries of my face,
Gag of dumbstruck tree to block from bare enemies
The bayonet tongue in this undefended
The present mouth, and the sweetly blown trumpet
of lies,
Shaped in old armour and oak the countenance of
a dunce
To shield the glistening brain and blunt the
And a tear-stained widower grief drooped from the
To veil belladonna and let the dry eyes perceive
Others betray the lamenting lies of their losses
By the curve of the nude mouth or the laugh up the

It wasn't until the next time I went there that I
noticed how inappropriate the line 'Rape and
rebellion in the nurseries of my face' probably was
to a group of people who weren't old enough to
watch the film Bridesmaids (first 15-certificate film I
could recall, sorry)
We drank there until the early hours then I made
my way home, proud of ourselves for introducing
the local youths to a great poetry, and secretly
proud of myself for not killing anyone that night.




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