Friday, 28 January 2011

In Love With A Drunk

It hadn’t been his fault
He promised that he’d stop

But peer pressure continued
Until he faced a cop

“You can’t take off your trousers
in the street,” the policeman said

“I’m sorry, all I wanted
Was to go home to bed.”

He got out of the cell
Walked home with a headache

To find his wife had gone
to work, and left him
a slice of cake

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Neon Laughter

First of all, I have to thank publisher/reviewer/writer Scott Pack, whose own website is Me And My Big Mouth - as reading his work has apparently rid me of my need to rhyme. Check out his poetry, it's a genuine delight.

Neon Laughter

Explosion in my mind
Zooms and flashes and bursts
A FRACTION of a second!

A sudden strike of pleasure
Amongst the tire of before

Glittering fragments of cheer
The recollection of which
weeks on
is enough to make my day

Neon laughter fizzing up and
Overwhelming rush of smiles
Happiness.

Cold Bones

Cold Bones

Cold bones
Like thick splinters of wood in a dark fireplace
They shiver and glare
At the uncaptured heat
The out-of-reach embrace

Thin skin
Pale and bumpy from constant air
A freezing gasp
The window left open
Nobody there to cover gaps

An old man
Sits alone and waits for something to happen
Remembers to eat
sometimes, and sleep
But doesn’t remember why

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Armagnac

It seems, when set a challenge, I can't resist.

Armagnac

I’m relaxing on a working boat
Amongst the coal
Sweet honey glow slides down my throat
Warming my soul

My work is done, the stars are out
To light the eve
The midnight water ripples about
Beneath my sleeve

The deep round glass is heating up
Safe in my hands
Smooth amber liquid requests a sup
Nay, it demands…

A breeze plays with tree branches
Above our heads
Leaf piles in little avalanches
Make insect beds

Big, raw heat carves a solid path
O’er lips and tongue
A numbness in the aftermath
Ten melodies unsung

Weary, away from home and cold
And sleep, I lack
But all I need’s a touch of gold
This soothing Armagnac

Cake, For Christ's Sake

I hope that the title of this blog doesn't gain me a load of readers who want religion-themed baked goods.

There aren't the words to describe the momentary joy that cake brings me. I talk about it quite a lot, although more than I eat it. I watch TV shows about making it. I make it myself. I love it. And yet I haven't found it easy to write about it when concentrating. I suppose it's like trying to pin down a butterfly, or drink from a mirage. There's definitely a Burns poem about that kind of thing somewhere... I'll go and find it later.

Anyway, here's all I've been able to do about cake so far. Two tiny little poems, both inspired (in form) by the dead dude.

Cake With Friends

Oh, cake. You smooth, sweet chunk of fluff
I can never tell when I’ve had enough
And just the thought will suffice
to make me smile
Sit down with friends and a slice,
and chat for a while

Silent Brother

Ah cake, yer sweetness I maun’ hae
Wi’ the braw het coffee on ma knee
E’en ma brither’d sit doon for cake
Wi chocolate on’t
An’ he’s nae often wan tae chat and mak'
Politeness o’t

Monday, 24 January 2011

Think

They hurt, you know. All those things to which you don’t give a second thought, they hurt. When I begin a conversation with someone else, only to have you rudely take over. You might know more about the subject, but I don’t know if this is true, because the disappointment takes up too much room in my head to listen to you at the same time. When you give me a compliment, then I realise that this is the first time ever it has happened. When I tell you some news from an old friend, and that baffled expression crosses your face as if you don’t know who I’m talking about, despite meeting them dozens of times. When I’m excited about something and you don’t take the slightest interest. When you don’t listen, but instead wait for a gap so that you can speak. It hurts. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I must assume it isn’t, because if I start to think it is, it would destroy me.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

I Am Woman

The following isn’t about other cultures, and it isn’t even really about other people who live within the same culture as I do. It’s me, rambling and ranting, about me. Personal things. So don’t get angry or offended and try to argue. OK? Although I’m perfectly willing to discuss it all, you don’t need to tell me what I think.

From a short conversation with a couple of other people on Twitter, I’ve been thinking today about what it is to be a woman. The conversation, for context, started out about the concept in some television adverts that women are the smart ones, the savvy consumers who know the best products, and men are lumbering idiots. It seems, in my mind, to stem from a branch of feminism, the backlash against being told females don’t know as much about the world as males do. It’s not burning bras, it’s a more self-aware, now-it’s-2011-aren’t-we-so-grown-up-about-sexism kind of thing. But it isn’t, really, is it? Men are clever. Women are clever. Gender shouldn’t be relevant, and implying that it is, for day-to-day usage (I know nothing of any actual science, but I know that men do not need to be told by their oh-so-brainy girlfriends that painkillers might kill their pain) is pretty damaging. Obviously this is never going to catch on with advertising companies which rely on demographics and neatly labelled categories in order to “know” the people at whom they’re aiming their product.

By the by - just because it still makes me angry - whoever came up with “Ryvita - for ladies that lunch” is an idiot. Firstly, I’ve seen men eat Ryvita, but they probably won‘t want to now. Secondly, it should be “ladies WHO lunch”. Thirdly, people who use “lunch” as a verb are probably not going to buy Ryvita, because they’re stuck in a Sondheim musical in the 70s.

So back to the matter at hand. Being female. It’s just not something I think about, that much, although it isn’t for the lack of people bringing it to my attention. There weren’t many girls in my classes when I did various qualifications at college and uni. I attended a job interview recently at which I was the only female along with about 12 males. I don’t have particularly “feminine” tastes in clothing, or music, or doing things in general. This is in comparison to the girls I know well, which is the only comparison I can realistically make. I don’t call myself a tomboy, either. I’m not much interested in sport and I don’t like lager, both of which are seen generally as more masculine interests. I don’t find it easy to identify with, let alone side with, someone just because they’re the same sex as I am. I’m just a person, and aside from physicality, not much of what I do or think or say should be attributed to my gender.

The thing is, I’m not really interested. I get tired of women telling me, either directly or indirectly, that I should be fighting against sexism, and we need to prove ourselves, and that men still get paid more than we do, and blah blah blah. I’m not interested and I don‘t want to be made to feel guilty for not joining in your debate. Please stop trying to shove this idea down my throat that I’m being oppressed because I’m a woman. Because I’m bloody not. Nobody I respect has ever told me I’m less good at something just because I’m female. As the recent advertising trends go, men are the ones who are being told to feel like the dumb ones, boys are doing less well than girls at exams, etc etc, but this isn’t better, this is still rubbish.

What I’m actually trying to say isn’t that men are something or that women are something. I’m trying to say that I’m not in the slightest bit concerned about what you think of me, if that opinion is based on my gender. OK? That’s it.

Mail From Monkeys From Mars

In October, I visited a good friend of mine called Simon. We've known each other since uni, after which he promptly upped sticks and moved to America - this was the first time I'd seen him since he left, so a very exciting trip. He took the photo at the top of my blog, where I'm sitting on a wall in Mount Morris Park.

We started writing a ridiculous song together, which I wanted to share with you all, despite it not being *quite* finished. You can find the music somewhere on here

We wrote it on his balcony in Harlem, in the middle of the night, looking out at LaGuardia airport across the river, drinking a hundred cups of tea and interspersed with watching episodes of Black Books. If you can figure out the storyline, you're a better man than I.

Mail From Monkeys From Mars

Interstellar correspondence conveys crisis
The black (hole) market perpetuates premium prices
The colonies continually in disarray
The absence of stimulants
Confuses the immigrants
And fuses the spark to print dismay

Mail from monkeys from mars
Mail from monkeys from mars

It started as a misguided intergalactic mission
The humans had decided to expand their space aged vision
Our hopes were high but our budget fades away
We strapped them to a rocket
With cocoa in their pockets
And sent them afar to space to stay

Mail from monkeys from mars
Mail from monkeys from mars

Monumental failure as evidenced in writing
Cocoa crops ablaze, no photosynthesising
The decision was made to negate this charade
We marked the mail 'return to sender'


........... and some other words.........

Friday, 21 January 2011

A Winter Morning

As he stepped out of the shower, he remembered too late that there was no underfloor heating.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Tryouts

She wiped the sweat from her brow with thick, chilly fingers. Her heart was pounding as she stood still, calves tensed, flexing her toes inside new, rigid trainers. The back of the shoes were the kind that had one point, that dug right into the back of your ankle, instead of two points, which would hug both sides. The skinny woman in front of her, in front of all of them, started chanting instructions through a megaphone. The early sun was beating on their faces and they were exhausted having not yet begun. Wearily, trying to appear energetic, they began a sprint around the big blue track, the white lines failing to separate the runners as they merged into a breathing mass, a swarm of vested athletes. Gradually, though, as they curved around the second corner, the rest of the girls seemed to surge forward. She was travelling at the same speed, or so she thought, but somehow couldn’t keep up. This was not good at all. She tried to pump more adrenalin into her legs, to work around the burn coursing through her muscles and to ignore the iron taste in the back of her mouth. She was a metre behind the back of the pack now, two metres, three metres. No good. There was a moment, just a second of doubt, but it was all she needed. The pressure had been taken out of her concentration, the switch had been flicked, and she started to slow more deliberately. Her harsh breath echoed in her ears, far louder than the pounding of the others’ feet in the near distance. She watched them begin a second lap as she stopped completely, making eye contact with the coach for less than a second before a slow blink erased all concern from the woman’s face. The megaphone was screaming encouragement, but not at her. She had been forgotten now, she deserved no attention. She had stopped. Given in.

Slowly she made her way back to the road next to the track, her legs shaking, her weight shifting, her mind airy and cold. Her bag was light, a blue canvas drawstring that she had been told would be useful for sports gear. There was to be no sports gear. She stepped on a bus and, upon returning home, sat on her sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and a smile. There was to be no sports gear.

Self-Portrait - Waking Up

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Can't Get You Out Of My Mind

I search for a way to do your beauty justice, I attempt to capture your essence, but it slips away, it escapes, it will not be found. You are richly dark and at the same time sharply illuminating, you are bluer than the saddest song and blacker than the bitterest tongue and brighter than a child’s heart. Your blue-black is a wildly comforting storm, the shattering relevation of a midday eclipse, you make hearts break and reattach simultaneously, you are a broken illusion and the quietest peace. There are thunderbeams, stars, constellations which spark and shake and shimmer with serenity, keen to be known, too shy to be shown, the white glistening drops of madness which dizzy and destroy the sky, and flirt with secrecy. There are moons spattered across your depths, crystalline globes of a near-white clarity, the iridescence turning to a milky anger as they hide from watchful minds. Between the stars and the moons and the dark and the light are your eyes, deep and neverending, a welcome presence as my soul reaches out to you. If they add to this a fathom of unrest, a margin of shiver, a slow, gentle clink of love, they will find you, as I found you, and they will understand, like I try to understand.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Clearing Out A Backlog

I'm working on a few longer things at the moment, and don't feel especially inclined to post them for all to see - although I've let a few friends read bits, I'm pretty protective of unfinished work. Trying to grow out of intense shyness is apparently quite difficult!

So as a placeholder on here, have a song I wrote a few years ago. I don't like it, personally, so it would be interesting to see if I have the same taste as the people reading this (I'm NOT fishing for compliments here, I'm clearing it from my folder, and only want to hear actual opinions). The structure is ABABA, and the second B section seems irrelevant to me now I read it again, although it made sense at the time.

Different Things

Different things, different days
My reactions change in multiple ways
Last week I hated you, this week I can’t get enough of your face
So you see what I mean, different things, different days

Some people say it’s because I’m a woman
One potato, two potato, chopping and changing
I’m more inclined to say it’s coz I’m human
My synapses are constantly rearranging

Insane thoughts, childish games
We both benefit from my terrible aim
Tell me your point of view, I’ll tell you mine and I bet they’re the same
But we still feel the need for all these insane childish games

Television ruins our perception of people
Forcefed information til we’re sick in the head
If you follow someone blindly then you’re weak, you’re feeble
Don’t go by rules just because they’ve been read

Different things, different days
My reactions change in multiple ways
Last week I hated you, this week I can’t get enough of your face
So you see what I mean, different things, different days

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I've been away for a few days, so have allowed myself not to write. I have, however, taken some photos, so in the absence of words, I hope you enjoy these...

Birmingham








Worcester





The future's bright, but it's not Orange.



Stratford







This is me being a guinea pig for Sarah Frasca, a good friend and makeup artist. You can see her own website here.



This is a 110-year-old Singer sewing machine that my seamstress friend is selling. If you're interested, let me know - it's in full working order.



Favourite pub in London



I'm fairly certain that everyone else in London loves this shop too.



There will be words later. Honest.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The End Of The Transfer Window

So, as my father settles down to watch football yet again, I distract myself with a further few blogs and self-run websites for your consideration. I hope you get a chance to familiarise yourself with at least one or two of these, as they enrich my mind in a way that endless Facebook/Twitter switching cannot do. In no particular order, a continuation of the list in my previous post:

Little Bird - or Nath - is a multicoloured marvel, a blogger extraordinaire and a thoroughly wonderful person. Have a look at her photos, and then she might post some more. She's awfully good at getting great, clean lighting and I'm uncertain how. Maybe she's magic.
Le Petit Oiseau

The Hungry Londoner is a mostly anonymous woman-about-London-town who writes about food as often as she can, and who should definitely be pressured into a post-Christmas ramble. Recipes, restaurant reviews (she utilises guest bloggers sometimes, including myself) and more abound here, as well as links to other excellent food blogs.
The Hungry Londoner

Mr Ken Macbeth lives in Germany and has a penchant for...nay, more an obsession with...tea in all its forms. He visits tea houses, has tastings, and describes it all beautifully, along with historical descriptions of varieties, with the accompaniment of great pictures. A true expert in his field.
Lahikmajoe Drinks Tea

Rosa Martyn is a student at the Royal School of Needlework, and writes about this as well as other subjects about which she is passionate. Fascinating stuff - I go for a quick peek and just can't stop reading. Remember to check out her Lady Gaga embroidery!
My Little Stitches

This last one was sent to me by a friend. I know nothing of its author, but it provides an elegant and indepth look into life in the east of London - characters, places, pictures, memories. One to use for when you need ten minutes of heartwarmth.
Spitalfields Life

There are many more blogs and websites out there with a stupefying array of subjects, themes, arts and sciences. Go and look for yourself, and you can see the world even when sat at home.

Trains And Transfers

The main aim of today's blog is to direct you to others. I'm lucky enough to be friends/acquaintances with a great many extremely talented people and their work should be more wide-reaching than it is - so get to it, send me things I'm missing out on and luxuriate in the joy of creativity. Or something.

First, though, so as not to give up on the writing thing altogether, one little poem. I'm not going to record it as I don't have the energy at the moment to read it as I hear it in my head - I wrote it very quickly, in about three minutes, and it should be read in the same manner. With the pace of a hurtling train, you might say.

Train

Spasms of fear, and
Spasms of thought
Will she go forth, and
Will she get caught?
The act may be daring, and
The act may be bold
How could she play, and
How could she fold?

A season of wonder, and
A season of trust
The bond will remain, and
The bond will not rust
Where is the pressure, and
Where is the test?
She cannot be tempted, and
She cannot rest

The prize it is hidden, and
The prize it is there
The claimant fought hard, and
The claimant won fair
So where is her joy, and
Where is her glory?
An unchanging guilt, and
An unchanging story

Come out with the truth, and
Come out with no falter
The unchanging must change, and
The unchanging must alter
She has not the time, and
She has not the patience
To stop with the masses, and
To stop at small stations


Now, to the transfers. Settle back in your seat and have a good time.

Sarah Frasca is a makeup artist based in London, who blogs about cruelty-free and eco-friendly ways to work - this stuff is interesting even if you aren't into makeup. She's got some exciting projects coming up and is definitely one to watch...
Sarah Frasca Makeup

Tim is a lead animator working in Vienna, and creates (and describes the creation of) astounding pieces of art. He also writes about film scores with constantly surprising and enlightening examples. A very talented guy.
Ramblings Of A Demented Englishman

Neil Hart is a writer from Surrey, who's had one novel published and is working on a great many other things including a sitcom and further prose. He is very funny, sometimes even intentionally.
Neil J Hart

Sam Johnstone is a multitalented gent from the Wirral (part of the Gingerbread Poets' Society along with Neil Hart, Karen Brigden and myself) who provides us with rants, rambles and intellectual discourse on many wideranging subjects. He also has a laser eye sometimes, although he writes very little about it.
It's A Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad World

Karen Brigden is a poet, photographer, cake-maker, mother and generally lovely person. She doesn't use her blog too much but if we all persuade her very gently, she might share more of her loveliness with us...
The Tips Of My Fingers

Gaijin-san (as far as I can remember it means foreigner or outsider...but in a nice way) is a lawyer type who blogs regularly on legal and political issues. He's articulate, intelligent and most of all normal - he writes in a very accessible way about very important things. There are also full rules and regulations of a Twitter-based drinking game, if that is your persuasion. If you have time, scroll down to read the post on "Article 10".
The Law, As Seen From The Cheap Seats

I know next to nothing about this lovely lady, but what I do know is awesome. An all-round beauty of a website, she encompasses food, travelling, daydreams, photographs and design... I could spend hours here. What particularly attracted me was this little statement:

"This blog is about making life a little less ordinary.
It's about encouraging others to give into a daydream or twenty.
It's about appreciating the all too familiar little details in our lives in all their quiet glory.
It's about learning new things and remembering forgotten things.
It's about making our own magic rather than waiting for some enchantment to fall into our laps.
It's about far off places and our own back yards.
It's about turning shit into gold and looking life right in the eye.
Its about finding new meaning and new ways to see."

It's what drives us all, no?

Worship At The House Of Blues

This collection of amazement of others is going to be completed later tonight - I cannot possibly hope to keep your interest for the length of time it will take to wander through the sites all at once. For now, enjoy.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Hot On The Heels...

Since I'm awake anyway, why put off until tomorrow what I can do now? Here's another poem that, although I started it several years ago after behaving horribly in a relationship, I found half-finished recently and managed to get back into the same mindset to complete it. Bit of a different topic to the last one - but it still rhymes (I can't help it).

Again, I welcome comments, and again, if you want to hear it instead of read it, you can do that below:

Listen!

Opposites Attract

Opposites attract; and yet, the similarities
Are in direct inverse proportion to my stream of vanities
And so despite the fact we’re different, which fuels your desire
My superiority extinguishes that fire

You would disregard my science, and I would disregard your art
And I can guarantee that one of us would have a broken heart
But urges must be satisfied and closure should be found
We seek answers in each other, try to run our doubts aground

The way you move around me is a comforting shift
From the way I felt about you when I gave you short shrift
The thudding of my heart is now from love and not frustration
But I can’t help but miss the arguments from prior situations

With regret and full awareness I begin to catch you out
Return to disagreements, try to make you stamp and shout
Being so eristical is just my comfort zone
Now I fear, with such indulgence, I’ll just end up on my own

Starting Again

It's been some time since I blogged last. Six months, actually, it seems. Half a year. It's 1am on a January morning in Scotland and the icy wind is whistling down the chimney to the fireplace in my living room, which only serves to force the issue that it's been a long while since mid-summer, when I last felt inspired enough to write anything. I'll be back on the canals this summer, on a different boat - Tranquil Rose, which has been changing ownership over this winter from Steve and Steph (to whom I referred once or twice in my previous posts) to James and Sheelagh, parents of an old TGI Friday's workmate of mine (to whom I'm certain I have also referred). I'm looking forward to getting back outdoors after last year's insane/fun/frustrating/liberating experiences, but until then, my focus is going to be on creative output. I've been inspired recently by a few different factors, mainly people, mainly one person. I won't go into naming or describing people and situations, as I want this to be a place where I put purpose-specific writing and not a personal journal - but I do want to thank those people, and that person, for helping me get back into the swing of things (whether intended or not).

So, taking all that into account, what's first? Poetry seems to have dominated my mind for the past week, although it's certainly never been my comfort zone. Below is a poem a lot of you may recognise, as I posted it on Facebook and Twitter a few days ago (you can find me on both with the username katobell). It was published in a little local homemade magazine at one point in 2009 but it wasn't exactly widely read - I'm eager now to have one "dumping ground", as it were, for everything I do, so that I can easily access it.

By the way - please feel free to post comments on any of the work I put up here. I would love if you enjoyed my writing and saw fit to repost it anywhere, but also if you don't like it, I want to hear constructive criticism.

I'll put another up tomorrow, but this is it for now.

If you don't want to read it yourself, you can hear me reading it here...

Listen!

Glasgow

Ambient light plays its eyebending tricks
so the sky seems the same shade as Kelvingrove bricks
And glowing young people eat suppers so hearty
to prepare for an evening of loud raucous parties
The homeless continue to search for a blessing
On finding one, chuckle, as though they were jesting
Oh Glasgow, my Glasgow, in sunshine or snow
The thrill is in wandering, and wandering I'll go

Smokers in doorways flick ash in contempt
of the newly passed laws; of the gesture well-meant
Taxis crowd Queen Street and its traffic-coned prince
While perpetual drizzle gives Shawlands a rinse
Teenagers gather with guitars strapped to backs,
Plan to later unleash them as a way to relax
Oh Glasgow, my Glasgow, the place of my home
Your faults seem perfections wherever I roam