Sunday, June 22, 2008

The bump of the dice

Scrambled eggs in a New York diner around 10am, long after the Wall Street rush and the tide of cell phones to ears and Italian suits immacolato, draining the black coffee refills too quickly without considering the gut, thoughts turn to home, the mess back there, confused like spilled spaghetti, lying misdirected and tangled.

Nearby a derelict in a red woollen hat, pulled right down to his eyebrows, a dead ringer for a 1977 Richard Pryor, opens the doors to a Broadway McDonalds for every visiting and departing customer, his easy charm soothing what could appear an aggressive panhandle. A dollar or more earns a “God bless you and America…this is gonna be your lucky day today...I can feel it.” No dollars earns a smile and no judgment. He is in all senses cool with the game, however unexpected the bump of the dice.

The hot dogs are sizzling early and there are plenty of takers, heartburn riskers and Weight Watchers dropouts, waiting in line with rumbles in tummies and rumbles in minds, yellow taxis swim through all obstacles like deep sea shoals darting this way and that, and it’s on to the next stop, for all of us, wherever that may be…..

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bare facts

If no-one wore clothes there would be less lies. Push-up bra manufacturers would be among the first to go bust.

Extreme diets would be impractical. Over-skinny girls would no longer be the secret of their mirrors or boyfriends. You’d find one hiding behind every lamppost waiting for the pavement to clear.

Women would never drop keys. All men would carry newspapers. And there would be more truth understood in churches than ever before.

Monday, June 9, 2008

When 4 x 7 equals nothing

They make sure you don’t get it at school. Sat in rows of four by seven being taught by experts in their second choice career. Malleable drones, having your ability to think for yourself erased and made redundant like Betamax. Your questions are not the answers the OCR Examination Board is looking for….so get in line or fail.

Ten years later those 20k-a-year jobs are still 20k-a-year; the details of your emails and texts are retained for ‘your own safety’; politicians step right in unison, the house keys of their subsidised London homes jangling in their pockets.

People complain on phone-ins, usually buoyed by prejudice rather than solidarity; their revolution ends as the radio presenter cuts them off in mid-flow or their girlfriend replaces her earphones….their wife replaces her earplugs.

The illusion of freedom persists until you stand up and hit your head on the glass ceiling.

Stand up.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Nun the wiser

Where I grew up, good-looking women were like tornadoes; you hoped one might arrive to improve the scenery, but they never did. Local men were therefore forced to aim low…a peroxide blonde with a dirty laugh from the local council estate received much the same attention as Giselle strolling around St. Tropez in a day-glo thong.

In these barren times, I was set-up (possibly framed) with a Catholic girl called Mary. “She really likes you,” said her friend who I was more interested in. “Meet her on the bench outside the Women’s Institute at 8pm.”

With few sparks flying between young Mary and I, the relationship was over before it started, but with no number to call I had to turn up in person to break the ‘bad news’. Just as I was about to leave late at 8.15pm, my mother presented me with a meal she had cooked in near-secrecy….I had no choice but to temporarily abort my plans and eat while she sat on the other side of the dining table nodding in approval.

At 8.45pm, I arrived at the rendezvous point expecting to find Mary long gone, but she was still there, sitting hopefully in a conservative blouse and pointy shoes, fiddling with a conspicuously large handbag (big enough to conceal a crucifix and holy water should the need arise). She smiled at me for the first and last time. “Sorry I’m late….but this isn’t working out…….” Three minutes later the date was consigned to history.

“Her parents are strict Catholics. She is only allowed to go out once a month. Last night was it!” explained her friend the next day. “Mary’s very angry. You’ve put her off men completely. She’s talking about becoming a nun and her parents have said they will back her all the way.”

I have been filling convents ever since.