rio fanning

Writer, Actor, Director.

I don’t like to use the American ‘ass’.
I prefer the old English word ‘arse’.
What has my donkey done to you
that you stick things up it’s arse?

**********

Hand on my shoulder
makes me strong;
kiss on my cheek
makes me long
for that time when
the world was mine.
Holding my hand
as we walked down the street;
patting my cheek
made me feel so sweet.
Where is it now,
where, oh, where?

*************

I love you, and the door closes.
I love you
and the room is empty.
I love you and the bed is dead.

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Grim Day

She was only a potter’s daughter
but she loved to be thrown
upon the wheel
and feel
the clay tumesc
beneath her heel
plus the caress
of tepid water.
Patient fingers
model
an old face
on a young head.

I lie here on my Becket bed
so grotty
if I scratched
I’d flake
I lie here on my Becket bed
and hanker.
All the healthy tissues
erode
corrode
the boastful muscles cringe
thank God tomorrow’s Easter
I can go on another binge.

Shadows

sacred heart of Jesus
blood red strawberry
crown of thorns
deadman’s hope
pale hands draw aside
the curtain of the breast
two fingers proudly point
at the fruit disclosed
two fingers lewdly point
at royal queen and holy pope.

I have defecated
my life away.
I am ready to take the place
of those old men doddering.
When they move on,
I’ll move up.
Without a doubt
no one knows
what it’s all about.

Simple thoughts
and simple words
make simple minds
the thing I like
in the dark of night
is to sniff the saddle
of a lady’s bike.
O for a mind
of simples
that I might heal myself!

Trading myself in

I’ve been around
for a long time now
trading myself in
for something saleable
newspapers like
and crusts
for which I fight the sparrows.
I’ve spent my life
searching for alibis
but some diligent cop
breaks every one
and laughs
and boots my arse
which he knows so well.
I console myself:
what shall it profit me
if I gain the whole world
yet DIE!

Autumn Leaves

They had come
a cross
festooned with autumn leaves
hung with skulls
and they planted it
in our land
don’t let it worry you,
the Indian
can get by on ants.

The Parrot.

THE PARROT.

Sunday morning – late.  Gary wakes up.  And three things bother him:
First, he’s almost brain dead from a hangover;
second, he has no memory of how he got so rat-arsed; last night is lost; last night is a black hole in his memory.
third, a parrot hangs upside down from the light fitting in the ceiling.
Not a hallucination!  The creature is warm, alive – and nipping.
A fucking parrot!  Glinting at him!  How does a parrot get into your bedroom!  What the fuck was Gary up to last night!
Maybe his dad knows?  Not that Gary wants to talk to his dad.  He despises his dad.  Fucking wanker couldn’t even hold on to his wife, Gary’s mum.  She’d run off!  With the fucking postman!  Since then his bastard dad had gone downhill – not much of a slide, to tell the truth – watching telly and doing fuck all else.  Except get pissed – either stewing in the kitchen or tippling in front of the box.
Last night was no exception.  The cunt only vaguely remembers hearing Gary stumbling and banging about.  Which is no fucking help!  Of course, Gary fell about!  He was pissed, wasn’t he!  Gary knows that much, even if he remembers fuck all about it.
Talk to Darren then, that’s the answer.  Gary drinks on a Saturday night with Darren.  Last night won’t be any different.
Darren’s mum and dad are worried.  Darren isn’t home; he didn’t come in last night.   Darren has never stayed out all night before.  Didn’t take the refill for his inhaler neither.
Why is everything Gary’s fucking fault!  Wasn’t his fucking genes fucked up Darren’s breathing tubes, was it!  It’s not his fucking fault if the wanker didn’t take a refill for his wheezer, is it?
Should they get the police?  Like fucking hell they should get the police; Gary will find Darren.
Dog and Duck next.  Has to be.  Kicked off every Saturday night at the Dog and Duck.  They’ll know something.  But if they do, they’re not fucking telling Gary.  He’s barred from this pub, definitely barred – and they don’t give a monkey’s shit where his fucking mate is; Darren can stay permanently lost for all they fucking care!  No!  Neither did Gary have a fucking parrot with him!
Try The Stag?  More abuse.  The barman in a froth, waving fists at him!  Same old litany!  You’re barred, you’re fucking barred!  Go back to Jingles where you belong.
Jingles! says Gary, what you fucking talking about!  Gary hates Jingles, wouldn’t piss in their shithouse!   And you won’t piss in our shithouse again neither, says the barman, never again, not if your cock dropped off!  Parrot!  You’re winding me up!  Fuck off, or you’ll hop out of here with a brush handle up your arse!
What the fuck had he and Darren been up to?  Really enjoyed themselves, right?  Except he can’t fucking remember, can he!
Jingles!  Right!  Try the fucking place!
Well, fuck a policeman!  He and Darren had been bounced out of Jingles an’ all!  Mind you, fucking compliment to be tossed out of Jingles!  They had two cunts with them.  They had!  Fucking great!  A fifty year old blonde slag in a short skirt!  Not so fucking great!  And a fat cow in black leathers, built like a wrestler! Hope that one’s Darren’s.  Slags from the estate.  Christ!  From the estate!  He and Darren must’ve been pissed!
Darren collapsed on the bridge, the bouncer says,  Sprayed some gunk into his mouth to start his engine again.  Afterwards the two slags enjoyed themselves spraying the air.  Parrot?  You’re joking!  You’re the only parrot I saw last night.
Where the fuck would you pick up a parrot!  On the way to the estate go by the pet shop!  Right!  The pet shop!  Looks promising.  They’re boarding up the front window.  Someone lobbed a bike through it last night!  Bleeding hooligans!  Anything missing?   No!  Not even a parrot? Don’t have any parrots, so fuck off!  Fuck off yourself; chuck you through the window next!
Parrot, parrot, where did he get the fucking parrot!  And where the fuck was Darren?
Gary walks through the estate.  You should be ashamed of yourself, says an old woman, looking for women like that!  But she points out a couple of girls, twelve years old, dressed like tarts, one bright blonde, the other black haired and sullen:  Ask them, she says, they might know where their mothers are, though she doubts it.          Gary tackles the girls.  Where do they live?  Does he want to do business?  Not fucking likely!  Just as well.  The blonde girl don’t think her mum will do any trade that morning.  The dark-haired girl says her mum might, if she’s up.  Leave it out, says Gary, just show me where you fucking live.
They lead.  Gary follows.  They climb stairs.  Lots of stairs.  The kids go into a flat.  The blonde slag appears.  Her face cut and bruised.  When she sees Gary she flies off her fucking trolley!  This bastard assaulted her!  She’ll gouge his balls out with a blunt knife!  Gary can’t fucking remember!  What’s she fucking on about!  The black-haired tart, a giant of wobbly fat, backs up the blonde.  Last night Gary wanted to go on to Jo-Ann’s place.  Darren wanted to stay where he was.  The blonde woman tried to kiss Gary; Gary had beaten her up.  Now, revenge!  Both women want to do something shitty to Gary.  As if he’d let them.
The Sunday morning peace is fractured.  The neighbours get all hot and bothered!  Gary slings his hook – and, as a farewell gesture, a milk bottle.  He scarpers from the flats just as the police arrive.
Jo-Ann!  What the fuck was he doing even thinking about Jo-Ann!  Gary fancied her once, only she wouldn’t let him fuck her.  Stupid cunt!  Real prick-teaser she was.  He gave her a right seeing to one night in the park, to teach her a lesson, show her what she was missing.  Fucked the arse off her, whether she wanted it or not.  She won’t fuck around with Gary again!  He hadn’t spoken to her since.  Nor she to him.  Always crossed the road when she saw him, now.  As if he fucking cared.  Would she speak to him today?  Didn’t fucking know.  Didn’t fucking care.  He’ll fucking speak to her.
At first Jo-Ann won’t come out of the house – but then, to keep the peace, she does.  Reluctantly.
Yes, Gary had come round the night before.  Late!  Very late!  Kicked up a row.  Nearly brought on her dad’s heart attack again!  No, Darren hadn’t been with him.  No, he didn’t have a parrot with him neither!   He just shouted at her.  Yelled at her.  Called her names.  Only one woman worse, he said, his mum.  And he was going round to tell his mum that.
What’s Gary to think now!  Darren was with him at the slags’.  But not with him at Jo-Ann’s.  But Darren weren’t at home neither.  Somewhere along the line he’d fucking lost Darren.  And gained a parrot!  But where!  And how?
And his mum!  Jo-Ann had said something about his mum!  What the fuck did she mean?  Had he gone to see his mum?  He never saw his mum, never wanted to see his mum, not since she run off with that geezer – Gary can never bring himself to speak the bastard’s name!  But last night was a funny old night.  Better check out, just in case.
Once again, no welcome on the mat.  His mum is angry.  Gary’s behaviour last night!  Shameful!  Turning up at that hour.  And drunk!  Drinking whisky!  From a bottle!  Threatening the her husband – his name is John, Gary, John!
Gary knows his fucking name!  Gary doesn’t want to say his fucking name!
On top of everything else, Gary nicked the fucking parrot.  Parrot!  Hey!  Bingo!  So that clears up the mystery of the fucking parrot!
Not that anyone cared about the parrot!  His mum’s geezer hated every feather on its fucking back.  Belonged to his first wife, it did.  Before she peg-legged off to Australia – with his best mate!  Gary’s mum hated the fucking parrot an’ all.  Frightened her.  Only too glad to be rid of it!
As for Darren?  She knows nothing about Darren.  Gary was on his own last night.  Behaving like that!
But she’d been glad to see him.  She’s glad to see him now.  Never sees enough of him.  Why doesn’t he come round more often?  Gary tells her to fuck off.  Why should he come round!  She fucked off, not him!
And he’ll keep the fucking parrot!  If his mum hated it, if the geezer hated it, then that fucking parrot was Gary’s friend for fucking life!  He grabs a packet of seed from his mum and goes home to feed his new-found friend.
Dad, fucking jelly, slouches before the TV.  Like always.  Like ever.  Gary can’t take any more!  The livingroom’s a stinking mess.  The kitchen’s a stinking mess.  The fucking house’s a stinking mess.  Not like his mum’s house!  Look at the fucking place!  Look at this shit!  Everywhere!  Do something!  Wanker!  Wanker!  Wanker!  He cuffs his dad.  He cuffs him again.  And again.  Fucking hell, wanker’d cuffed Gary often enough when Gary was a kid!
Suddenly his dad sobs.  Wants his wife back.  Gary’s mum back.  Misses her.  Can’t live without her.  Snivelling and snuffling, the stupid old bastard stumbles up the stairs.
Mum was right!  Who could fucking live with a fucking wanker like that!  Gary can’t live with the wanker!  Gary’s leaving!  He’ll fucking clear out.  And he’ll clear out all this fucking mess, clear all this fucking shit out of the house, fucking shit everywhere, his dad’s fucking shit, like a fucking tip!
Gary thrashes rubbish against the window, splintering the glass, spilling junk, papers and bottles and even the fucking telly, out on to the pavement.
He crashes into the kitchen; gathers up fistfuls of dirty dishes and hurls them through the window.
He stops.
Stares through the shattered glass.
In the yard!  The door of the shed!  Half open!  A foot sticks out.  A trainer on the foot.
Darren!  Dead!  Face contorted!
Last night!  Suddenly it’s all there in Gary’s head!  As clear as when it happened!  Darren coughing, wheezing, choking.  Inhaler empty.  Gary dragging him out into the yard – fresh air!  But nothing helps.  Darren vomits!  Threshes!  Jerks!  Framed in the oblong of light thrown by the kitchen window!  Dies!!!
Gary calls for his dad.  No answer.  Gary pounds up the stairs.  His dad isn’t in his room.  And not in Gary’s room, though the parrot is.  Nor is his dad in the spare room.  But the bathroom door is locked.  Gary hammers on it!  He’s found Darren!  Found his body!  Asthma!  Dead!
No answer from the bathroom.
Gary breaks down the door.
His dad slumps half in and half out of the bath.  Razorblade in his hand.  Great gash in his throat.  Blood pumps, gurgles down the plughole.
Gary backs out of the bathroom.  Staggers to his bedroom; slumps on the chair.  Sits there.  Shocked.  Numbed.
The parrot flutters down to perch on Gary’s shoulder.
And squawks.

Girl

THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS.

She passed by the car with her two friends.  He turned his head to look at her and was lost.
Her two friends were of no interest to him at all.  He could not now tell you one detail about them.  Nice girls, decent girls, though they might be.
But her!  If he had the skill he could paint her from memory.  Every detail of her face, every curve of limb and stretch of bone.
He had never in his life seen anyone like her before.
He had never in his life experienced such longing as that which now punched his heart, nearly causing him to cry out in anguish.
He was sixty years old.  His life had been far from innocent.  He had loved many women.  He had participated in many sexual adventures.  He had lived, as they say.
But now he knew that he had never lived.
She must have been aware of his gaze, for she looked at him.  She looked at him!
And he was in love.  Sadly in love.  Hopelessly in love.  Above all, desperately in love.
Love!  He thought he’d experienced it.  He’d hoped he’d experienced it.  But he hadn’t!   Dear God, he hadn’t!  So what had been the point of living!
Sixty years old!  Old enough to be her grandfather!  Old enough to know better!  Old enough to want to weep for a life which seemed wasted now.
They say a man’s entire life passes before his eyes as he drowns, or falls from a building, or drops with a noose around his neck.
So his life flashed by.  His life of numbness.  Of nothingness.  His life that was now so much less than a life.
He measured out the long span of that greyness – and he looked at the few short years left to him.
How old was she?  Seventeen?  Eighteen?  And he knew that even if he walked up to her and said ‘Love me.  Live with me!’, and she said ‘Yes!’, what would be the point?  He had ten, twenty years left, and could he wish that on her?  Could he wish it on himself?
She had looked at him.  Though what she might have seen through the rain-flecked window of the car, he couldn’t guess.  Had she seen the passion in his heart?  The sudden love beaming from his eyes?  If she had, she gave no sign.  Hadn’t even looked away.  Had simply let her eyes slide over and past him as if he were street furniture.
She looked at him and passed on.

He climbed from the car and gazed after her.
A tall, thin, translucent man.  He looked as if he were made of air.  Of light.  A long neck.  A long face.  Hair so pale it could have been fair or white.  He wore glasses.
He looked after her.
She moved slowly, talking quietly with her friends.  Passing among the cars filling the car park which flanked the new Marina.  He hated this place.  Not only for the way it had ruined Dingle, not only for the crass commercial values which it displayed, but because it showed the sort of people that the burghers of Dingle admired and wished to attract to their little fishing town.
Rain spattered against his face.  But that’s Kerry for you.  Rain was never far away.  Like tears.  Flecking his face.

The girl and her companions were heading in the direction of the bazaar.  He followed.
‘Why am I doing this!  What’s the point?’
He couldn’t answer either question.  He could only walk.  As if his legs had a life of their own and he could only follow.
The girls turned right into the loop of desolation which passed behind the shops of Bridge Street and carried the traffic through to Strand Street and on out to Ventry, Slea Head, Ballyferriter and on to America for all he knew.  The bazaar, with its swings and roundabouts and other stupid pastimes, was tucked into bulge in the loop just where it joined Strand Street.  Here were three caravans in a line.  In one a fortune teller, in another a clairvoyant.  He never discovered who operated from the third because the three girls climbed the steps into the caravan which featured the fortune teller.  Two of them giggling, the third, the light of his life, solemn and disbelieving.  Oh, how he hoped that she didn’t believe in all that rubbish and was only accompanying her more gullible friends.  He couldn’t take it if she had feet of clay – but, no, to his intense relief she stopped at the door of the caravan, letting her friends go on in.
She looked around, then came down the steps again, clearly preparing to kill time.  Having studied the passing scene for a moment, she glanced in his direction.  He held his breath.  But no, again her eyes slid on and she began to read the boasts and testimonies of success pinned to a tall board by the door of the caravan, and covered by a plastic sheet.
God, she was beautiful!
He breathed deeply and considered the phenomenon.  What magic was she working on him?  Never in his life, not once, had he followed any woman like this.  Oh, yes, he stopped to pretend to look in a shop window when some stunner passed him in the street, or he’d shifted position in a restaurant to study a face at a nearby table, or he had paused to adjust his luggage when moving through an airport, but never before had he actually changed the direction of his life and followed a woman in the street.  And a child at that!
He couldn’t believe that he was the only person standing gaping at her.  But he was.  No doubt about it.  He checked.  No one else seemed to notice her.  Even the four youths swinging their long locks and thrusting their cocks against the tight fronts of their jeans, never gave her a second glance as they went their foul-mouthed way.
Was everyone mad!  Couldn’t they see what was there before them!  Was he the only person in the world who fluttered madly at the flame of her beauty?  Was he the only person in the world who lusted so after her?  Who would kill for her?  Who would kill rather than lose her!  Who would – what the hell was he talking about!  He felt alarmed for a second.  Some madness was moving surreptitiously in the depths of his psyche.  Firmly he pushed it away from him.

He was standing behind her now!  And how had that happened!  One moment he had been standing with his back to a cold breeze-block wall, now here he was looking over her head and pretending to read the sheets of paper stuck to the board behind their plastic
covering.
Again a fleeting panic.  What was happening to him!  This was shameful!  Had he lost all control of himself!  Had he no dignity left.  Clearly not, because he could have moved on before she turned to look and see who was behind her.  He could have moved on and left everything as it was and gone on about his life as usual.  But he didn’t.  He stood there.  And she turned.  And looked at him.
And again he ached.  And ached.  The perfect shape of her mouth!  Her clear skin!  Her eyes so grey and steady!  Looking into his soul!  Could she see the turmoil in there?  Could she see the reverence kneeling in the vault of his brain?  Could she detect the sorrow – the grief, for God’s sake, the weeping and gnashing of teeth, the sackcloth and ashes!  The wailing, the wailing, the pathetic, heart-breaking wailing of his poor lost life!
Maybe she did.  He could believe anything of those eyes.  But if she had seen all this, she gave no inkling.  Instead she gazed at him gravely, without fear, a slight question framed in the tilt of her head and in the set of her mouth as if wondering whether he had something to say to her.
‘Do you believe all this?’ he asked.
A slight hesitation.
‘No’
A trace of an accent!  Not local then.  Not Irish even.  Thank God for that.  On holidays!  One day she would be gone and that would be the end of it.
‘Sensible girl,’ he said.  ‘If they could tell your fortune, if they could tell the future, why are the sitting here in Dingle on a wet day.  Why aren’t they living in the lap of luxury in a warm country!  Why aren’t they wealthy beyond imagination, backing winning horses, buying shares that climb to the heights?’
‘Perhaps they want to help people.’ she said.
He blinked and considered the implications.
‘I hadn’t thought of that,’
He soaked up her beauty.  Readjusting his perceptions of her now that he was certain that she was foreign.  German, he thought.  Maybe Swedish.  He was bad at identifying accents.  And did this make a difference?  Difference to what?  He brought himself back.
‘Is that what you think?’
‘Maybe not,’ she said, ‘but maybe we should think the best of people.’
‘Maybe we should,’ he said, ‘maybe we should.  Though I still find a question?  What the hell were they doing in rundown caravans in the seediest part of a Dingle becoming seedier by the year?’
‘You don’t like Dingle?’
‘I did.  I still do, perhaps.  But the Irish are the last people to be allowed to look after their heritage.’
She looked away from him, dismissing him.
There was movement in the caravan behind her and after a moment her companions came out and, one by one, jumped from the top of the steps.  If they had been giggling when they went in, they were almost hysterical now!  Excited they clasped each other in their arms. His girl – his girl? – joined them and they wrapped her in the fold of their friendly arms and began to tell her what had happened.  They spoke German.  Yes, definitely German.  Then, linking arms and chattering with excitement, they walked away from him towards Strand Street.
And she didn’t look back, not once.  She’d forgotten him.

At the bottom of the bypass, they turned right into Bridge Street.
He followed.  And wished he didn’t have to.  Wished he could have turned left along Strand Street.  Wished he could have taken himself back to his car and driven home.  To Mary.  To his wife.   But no.  Once more he followed his feet, because his feet were following the girl.
She, with her companions, went into the supermarket, the front section of which was devoted to newspapers, books and sweets.  She showed bright and clear in the sharp fluorescence as they clustered around the ice cream chest.  He moved over to the newspapers and pretended to browse, a pretense which didn’t last for very long.  After a few seconds he stood there, openly staring at the girl, watching her hungrily as she made her selection with such beautiful seriousness that the impossible happened: his sense of longing increased.
One of her companions looked up and then nudged the girl, indicating him.  He wanted to turn away and pretend that he was minding his own business.  But he couldn’t.  He just stared at her.
Now all three girls were looking at him.   He ignored the other two and watched only his love, his desire.  She returned his look.  Straight gazed, solemn.  Unabashed.
Her companions started to giggle.  But she didn’t laugh.  Bless her for that, he thought, bless her for that.
Now the three of them made their way to the counter where they paid for their ices and left the supermarket, crossing the road to the bridge and sitting themselves on the parapet.  They licked their lollies.

He knew they watched him as he too crossed the road and leant over the parapet furthest from them. He looked at his watch.  Nearly eight-thirty.  Mary would be expecting him home.  Indeed he should have been home an hour ago.
The sun had set, but the evening was quite bright,  still lit by the reflection of the lost sun on the sky and sea.  He looked down at the water, flowing under the arch beneath his feet.  Heading for the sea.  Brown-red water, stained by the recent rain draining off the bog which covered the slopes above the town.
(What the hell was he doing!  Making a fool of himself like this.  At his age!  He’d never done anything like this in his life before.  Why start now!)
The water flowed past beneath his feet.  Red!  The blood of his life ebbing away through the vein of the arch.
‘Would you light my cigarette?’
He started.  She was beside him.  He turned to look down at her.  She gazed up at him with that steady unfazed look which seemed to be her trademark.  She held a cigarette between fore and middle fingers of her right hand; its cork tip close to her mouth, lips half parted to close on it.
Oh, God, her mouth!
‘You smoke!, he said.  Oh, God, his mouth!  Why couldn’t he keep it shut sometimes.
‘Yes,’ she said simply.
‘At your age!  I don’t understand it!  When I was your age, we didn’t know half the dangers of smoking.  But all that publicity!  For years now!  And you still smoke!’
‘Could you light my cigarette?’
‘No.  Sorry.  I don’t smoke.’
‘Then could you – ‘ she searched for the words, ‘could you please to mind your own business.
Again those eyes.  Level.  Gray.  Grave.  Oh, to kiss them, kiss them!  And yet!  So level!  So grave!  So embarrassing!  Why did he embarrass himself like this!  Why didn’t he just go home!  To Mary!  To her kindness.  To her comfort.  To her…yes, love.  But did he mean LOVE?  He didn’t think he did.  LOVE was what he looked down at now.  LOVE was what looked up at him from the grave, from those gray, eyes.  He wanted to reach out for her.  Hold her.  Squeeze her.  LOVE her.
He shook his head.
‘Yes, you’re quite right.  It’s none of my business.’
‘No,’ She turned away, walking back to her friends, who had been watching and giggling as if witnessing the funniest show on earth.
He watched her walk away from him.  That body!  So rich!  So complete.  So ready to absorb.  So young.  So tempting!  He had to hold her.  He had to, he simply had to.  If he couldn’t hold her, if he couldn’t, if he couldn’t…what, what…love her?  No, no, more, more.  Taste her.  Eat her!  No, no!  Take her into himself!  If he couldn’t do that, then no one could, he’d have to make sure…  He stopped.  Why was he angry?  With her?  What had she done to him?  She was simply being herself.  It was he who was following her like a dog following…oh, no,  no, no, come on!…no, face it!  Right!  Like a dog following a bitch in heat!  Was she in heat!  Is that what was happening?  Maybe.  The heat of youth!  The heat of future!  The heat of ripeness!  Drawing him on.  Drawing him in.  The heat!  And the ripeness.  And his withered arms and legs, lacking all future, following behind as if drawn by a magnet.  Or hypnotized.

Suddenly the girls were passing him on the far side of the road, taking the bend past the supermarket again and going into Strand Street.  He followed them, staying on the opposite pavement, walking past Holy Ground on his right.  The star he followed stopped to cadge a light from an elderly man smoking a pipe and then continued on along Strand Street.  They didn’t look back at him.  Certainly she didn’t look back at him.  He saw them push through the bunch of youths filling the doorway of a pub and go inside.  He followed.  He had to follow.  There was no going back.
The moist heat of the crowded pub!  The noise!  The smoke!  The rhythmic thumping and raucous singing from the band in the back room!  The laughter!  The shouting!
He stopped for a moment, slightly dazed by the change in conditions.  One second in the cool gentle air of the seafront; next trying to push through this blast of noise and hot sweaty bodies,  Bodies from all over the world, as far as he could make out.  Orientals – Japanese?  A couple shouting above the racket in German.  Swedes.  Spaniards.  French.  English.  And Irish, of course.  Weren’t the Irish the focus of attention – and they were all living up to it.
He saw the crown of the head of his beloved weave its way through people clogging the small passage which led to the room from the which the music came.  He pushed through after it.
The heat in here seemed to be exacerbated by the volume of the band, speakers screwed up to admit the highest possible decibel count as they blasted out rock versions of traditional Irish airs.  As many people in here – if not more – as in the outer bar.  Most of them sitting.  Young girls.  Young boys.  Mothers with children.  Fathers with children.  A middle-aged man wearing a denim nautical cap, shouting loudly in the ear of a pretty young girl.  Pretty, yes, but not so beautiful as the magnet of his devotion.  He looked around for her.  She and her friends had squeezed themselves into a corner to the far left from where he stood.
She was looking at him.  When he caught her eye, she turned away and said something to one of her friends, who glanced across at him, and then shook her head, scowling.  Neither of them looked at him again, but concentrated on the band, she watching with brightly shining eyes, face avid.

He looked at the band and saw that they were playing as if they were fully aware of her scrutiny, guitars held low across their groins, pelvises grinding, thrashing their instruments obscenely.  He felt embarrassed.  Embarrassed for her.  Surely she couldn’t be inviting this sort of behaviour.  He looked back at her.  As always her face was tranquil.  Serene.  So composed.  So unreadable.  But her hands clapped lightly to the rhythm and her eyes – oh, God her eyes! – her eyes challenged the young man who fronted the band.  Tall he was.  Thin, but with a rangy suppleness, a lanky strength, an astonishing grace, a strong presence.  God blast him!  He looked for some flaw in the lad.  Not a great looker, actually, now that you studied him.  Definitely could do something with his hair – even a wash wouldn’t do any harm.  Also did he detect the tiniest hint of effeminacy?  A touch of gayness as they say these days.  Certainly the cock of the wrist and the toss of the head were ambiguous at the very least.
Yet still she watched him!  Couldn’t take her beautiful eyes off him!  Please, girl, don’t be like all the rest!  Don’t be like those friends of yours, gyrating and wriggling, bobbing and smirking like apes on heat, looking as if they couldn’t wait to drag a chosen band member down into them.

The band was now playing ‘A Nation Once again!’ driving the song with great heavy rocking chords, singing the lyric with the fervour of Kamikaze pilots winding themselves up for their moment of explosive glory.  And the crowd was on its feet.  Fists clenched, raised high, pumping towards the ceiling.  And singing.  God how they were singing!  Faces rapt.  Sweat shining.  As the beat and emotion drove them skywards.  What a strange sight, he thought.  Germans, Swedes, English, Irish, – and orientals, for God’s sake!  All on their feet.  All thumping the air with closed fists.  All bringing down damnation on the ghastly Brit.  Funny old world, funny old world.  And one he had always missed out on.
With a final crashing chord the band stopped playing.  The applause was tumultuous.  He didn’t think it possible that the temperature could rise any higher, but it did.
The girl was smiling now, applauding with her hands above her head.  Smiling now, because the tall young lead singer was pushing towards her, accepting patting hands and hugs and congratulatory kisses on the way.  Then he was close to her and, clearly playing to the gallery and to its expectations of a young man who can drive a multi-national audience into an Irish nationalist frenzy, he pulled the girl into his arms, ground his pelvis into hers, swung her up and off her feet as if a stallion had lifted her into the air with the power of his organ, let her down.  She clung to him tightly!  She kissed him!  She let him put his hand on her breast, oh so obviously, nothing subtle or loving about that grope, this was done for the benefit of the watchers.  And she must have known that.  But still she didn’t mind.  Oh, God, brazen, brazen bold, like all the rest of them.  Brazen like her friends who were tucking into the two other band members as if they hadn’t eaten for months.

Suddenly he noticed that she was watching him intently round the shoulder of the singer – who was now lighting a cigarette and helping himself to her drink.  She stared at him intently, as if mesmerised by something which made her feel somewhat uneasy.  Had his emotions been all that plain?  He wanted to look away, to spare her, to spare himself, but he couldn’t.  He wanted her to see the error of his ways – no, her ways.  Not just for his sake.  But for her own.  Oh, yes, very much for her sake.  She’s only a child.  She should be protecting her purity, she should be keeping herself for – who? – him!  No!  Why not!  Yes, why the hell not!  Anyway, if not for him, for someone else, who might value her as much as he valued her.  Oh, God, oh God, the pain of unrequited love – the pain of unrecognised love!  The pain of jealousy!  She shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this.  People have been killed for less.  People have committed suicide for less.

The girl stood before him.  Looking up at him.  Beside her the singer.  Nearly as tall as he was.  Grinning at him dangerously.
‘Did you like the set?’ the young man asked, loudly, fighting the chatter of the crowd.
‘What?’
‘The set!  The music!’
‘Oh, yes, yes!  Very good!’
The young man laughed and looked down at the girl.  He put an arm round her shoulder and pulled her close.  So tightly that her shoulders curved forward over her breasts.
‘There you are, love,’ said the young man, ‘I told you.  The gorsoon was just carried away by the power of my talent.’
She said nothing.  Just continued to look up at him.  He didn’t know what was expected of him.  Clearly he was being challenged.  He could sense the antagonism, the aggression under the singer’s laughter.  What did one do in these circumstances?  What did people do?
‘Yes, you are very talented,’ he said.
‘What!’ shouted the young man, ‘I can’t hear you!’
‘You are very talented,’ he shouted back.
‘Good,’ said the young man.  ‘Then the least you could do is to buy the talent a drink’.
‘Of course,’ he said, happy to get off the hook.  He looked at the girl.
‘Would you like a drink?’ he asked.
The girl said nothing, just continued to gaze serenely at him.  And yet…and yet…he felt that she wasn’t as serene as she looked.
‘She doesn’t drink with a stranger,’ said the young man.
‘I see,’ he replied, ‘but you do?’
‘What’s that?’
‘Never mind.  What will you have?’
‘Guinness.  Pint.’
He turned back to the bar to order the drink.
The bar staff were racing up and down the length of the bar, filling pints, ripping the tops of bottles, keying money into the electronic tills.  One barman stopped at the Guinness pump and shoved a glass under the spigot and punched a button.  The glass began to fill with the cloudy liquid which would finally settle to a dark brown and cream.  Their eyes met.
‘Yes,’ said the barman.
‘Another one of them.’
He watched the barman reach back for a pint glass and place it beside the pump.
‘Coming up.’
He turned round while he was waiting, driven by a need to be mannerly – and by a need to look at her.  She and the young man were kissing.  Passionately.
He thought, I’ve never kissed like that.  Not even in private.  If I tried to kiss Mary like that – or if she tried to kiss me like that – we would be so ashamed.  And yet I want to kiss her like that!  Oh, God, what wouldn’t he give to be able to kiss her like that.  Then he realised that there was something selfconscious about this public passion.  He saw that the young man was watching him round the curve of her head, over her ear, through the wisps of her hair.
Embarrassed he turned back to the counter to accept the drink and pay for it.  When he turned round again they had stopped kissing and were looking at him.  He handed the young man the drink, who accepted it without a word of thanks, instead looking at the girl and asking,  ‘Do you want to do it?’
‘No, you do it,’ she said.
‘Will do.’
The young man squared off in front of him, and held up the drink.
‘Slainte.’
‘Slainte’ he replied.
The young man smiled, and neither drank nor lowered the glass.
‘We think it’s a good idea to cool you off,’
And without more ado the boy poured the drink down the front of his suit, the front and fly of his trousers.
He felt the cloth cling to his flesh as if the liquid had caused a suction.  He didn’t know what he should do.  Wipe it off.  Jump.  Swear.  Hit the young man.  God, some people deserved killing!
People were waiting.  The young man was waiting.  The girl was waiting.  A barman came round from behind the bar and approached, ready to snuff out any trouble.
And then he said, ‘I’m sorry’.
The young man looked incredulous for a moment, then laughed.  And she laughed.  And the barman laughed.  And the closest circle of watchers laughed.  So he laughed too.
‘You should go home now,’ said the barman.

He hurried from the pub and wished he could die.  And wished he was someone else.  And he wished was forty years younger and had a black belt in Karate, or was a hit man for the IRA, anything, just to show him, just to show her.
He should do as the barman said and go home.  He should go back to his car and drive home.  He’d think of something to tell Mary.
But even as he formulated these thoughts he crossed the road and sat on the window sill of Paddy Bawn Brosnan’s and watched the pub he had just left,  the roaring cascade of voices coming through the open door.
And he waited.  He felt cold.  Particularly cold round his groin, where the gentle breeze which ruffled the papers in the street, pressed the sodden cloth like a chill hand against his thighs.  And he waited.  As if possessed.
He should go home.  He knew he should go home.  But instead he waited.  Like a man possessed.  Of what?  He waited.  Like a man under a spell.
He waited and watched the continual flow of movement in and out of the pub opposite.  He watched and waited and heard the band, distantly, strike up in the back room once more.
He waited and watched until he heard the rousing chorus of ‘The Soldier’s Song’ blasting through the walls of the pub.
And he waited.  Some people drifted out from the pub, mainly older people thinking it was time they got home.  Most others were settling down to drink out the last minutes of the licensing hours.

At last they came out from the pub.  The three girls and the three musicians.  His girl enfolded in the arm of the young lead singer.  The other two girls giggling and scuffling with the other two musicians.      They walked back to the main car park.  He followed.  They got into a battered old Transit van.  He got into his car.
The van drove out of the car park and along Quay Street towards Ventry.  He followed.
Just beyond Ventry the van turned left into the lane which led down to the car park by the beach.  He followed.
He stopped half way down the lane to see what the van was doing.  It pulled into the car park.  The lights were switched off.  He could hear doors slam in the distance, a shout, laughter.  A star of light flared as someone lit a cigarette.  Then nothing more.  Only darkness in the car park.  And beyond it the clean glint of the sea, the moon-whitened froth of the breaking waves, and the sheen of the sand.
He thought he could see their shadows turning right along the beach, away from the village and towards the dunes.

He drove down to the car park and parked beside the van.  He got out.
The sky was bright and high now.  Stars glittered feverishly.  The moon, emerging from behind what seemed to be the only cloud in the night sky, suddenly bathed everything in an silvery evil light.  He knew the air was fresh and sea-clean, but to him it felt sodden with death and the loss of hope and dreams.
He stepped up on to the low parapet which separated the car park from the beach, and looked along the beach to his right.  He could see no one.  He heard no one.
He jumped down onto the beach, shoes sinking into the soft sand.  He started walking West.  Towards Slea Head in the distance.
Within three hundred yards he came to the stream which crossed the beach from the dunes.  As the tide was out, it was easy enough to cross.  He paused.  Listening.  Looking.  Under his feet the crisp snapping of great clumps of dried seaweed.  Plastic bottles, boxes, sheets of plastic, the tribute that the Irish paid to their countryside.  He felt ashamed of being Irish for a moment, then returned to searching for signs of the group he’d been following.  Nothing.  They’d disappeared off the face of the earth.  They must have gone up into the dunes the moment they had crossed the stream.  Into the dunes!  To do what!  He didn’t want to think about it, certainly not what the young singer might be doing to her.

He picked his way across the stream – some pebbles, a large flat stone, an island of sand in the middle, a second large flat stone, and he was across, ploughing through another bank of dried seaweed and plastic memorabilia.
Again he paused, hoping to receive some indication of which direction the group had gone.

At that moment, a stone whizzed past his ear!  A stone?  A rock!
He turned trying to crouch at the same time.  But too late.  He was hit just above his right ear.  A stunning, deafening crack resonated through his head.  He fell into the sea weed. The dried fronds prickling his face and hands.  A corrupt, rotten smell filling his nostrils.  He tried to push himself to his feet again, but they came out of the darkness behind him, splashing across the stream.
And they kicked him.  And kicked him.  In the body.  In the face.  He could feel blood spurt into his eye and gush from his nose.
And they did not speak.  Not a word.  A silent assault which seemed to finish almost as soon as it had begun.  And they were gone.
And only then did he hear their voices through the roar and rush of pain that filled his head.  Triumphant voices.  And then laughter.
A voice calling.  But he couldn’t hear whom.

Then she was kneeling beside him, turning him around to look at his head, peering at his face in the moonlight.  Her hands on his face were soft and supple.  She peered at his face by the light of the moon.  Through the blood snuffling in his nostrils, he could still smell the tang of the sharp perfume she wore.
Again someone called in the distance.  He knew the call was for her, but she didn’t acknowledge it.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘It went too far.  But you frightened me.’
After a moment he mumbled, ‘Sorry’.
‘What do I do?  A doctor?  A hospital?’ she asked.
‘I don’t know, I don’t know…’  For the moment he didn’t want to go near a doctor or a hospital.  For now, he just wanted to lie here with her caring for him, worried about him.
‘I’m sorry I frightened you,’ he mumbled, ‘It wasn’t my intention.  I just…  I just…  I don’t know what happened.  I saw you and suddenly I was devoted to you.’
She laughed.  Suddenly.  Then she kissed him quickly, lightly on the forehead.
‘Better get you looked after’.
Taking his weight, she helped him to his feet.  Oh, her body, pressing against his, her arm around him.  The strength.  The firmness.  The crush of her breast against his arm.
Again a voice called.  Nearer now.
‘Eva!’

Suddenly the singer appeared out of the darkness, gripped her arm and hauled her roughly away into the night.  The boundless night.  Into which he knew that she would be lost to him for ever.  That he would never see her again.

And by the grubby light of the moon, reflected off the sea and sand, he watched the six shadows – soon merging to three – head off towards the dunes.  To what pleasures!  To what activities!   Towards the dunes!  Where she and the singer would do things to each other that he didn’t want to think about.  Oh, God, he couldn’t give up his mind to such contemplations!

And he knelt on the damp sand, feeling it seep cold and gritty through the knees of his trousers.  And he cried.  Forlornly.  Hopelessly.  A lost child.  A child whose desire to be kissed better was insatiable.

Tears mingled with the blood on his face.  And yet…and yet…he felt better.

END.

Time

The sky is pocked
with the heads
of dead stars.
Once,
like suns,
they shone in the upturned eye
of the awe-struck world.
Now,
holes in the mesh of memory,
they whistle
to the winds of Time.

**************

The grey clouds drape down
and drown the trees.
The rain gathers in folds
before the driving wind:
the birds are silent.

Poor Tom

    POOR TOM CHANGES RACE.

MOTHER

She stretches across the table
grips Tom’s hand,
means to comfort,
but pinches his skin
between her long nails,
makes him wince.

DRUNK.

Tom, drunk, is bundled out
of a West Indian take-away.
He turns to roar abuse
at the two large,
unperturbed,
blacks who fill the doorway.
Even to drunk Tom
it is clear
that he isn’t going to get much change
out of that pair.

ANGER.

Fucking people!
Pissing me around!
But I’m fucked if I’m going to let
the fuckers get me down.

SELF-PITY.

What’s there to cry for!
A father as mad as a holy hatter.
A father who had blasted Tom
with hell fire and damnation
from the day God had revealed to him
that marrying a Hindu
was the work of the devil.
Lust is the devil’s name, God had said.
And exotic smells and customs,
exotic shapes and demeanours,
exotic eyes and lips
glancing and glinting,
exotic undulations and
wriggles of an exotic body,
were webs spun by the devil
to snare a sinner.

FEAR.

Suddenly,
all the kids gather around Tom,
jostling each other,
laughing and sniggering,
but focussing on him.
I’m in danger, Tom thinks.
Small, they might be,
but they could easily be cannibals.
Keep cool.
Keep the gaze level.
Never look away,
never let them see the whites of your eyes.

HARASSMENT.

…Sharp metallic rapping!
What the fuck!
Someone tapping on the window.
The shadow of a man looms outside,
silhouetted against the dawn-silvered sky.
Uniform!  Cop!  Fuck!
Tom glances at the car clock.  Four-fifteen.
He winds down the window.
‘Out of the car!  Jig jig!’
Tom climbs out.
‘Lurking, are we?  Ambush?
Mug a friend?
Bit of breaking and entering?’

AMBITION.

Time Tom stopped all this ingratiation,
all this crawling around in his jockey shorts
looking for a rider,
I’m a good man, sir,
help me up the boat, sir, on your boot, sir,
up the ladder, sir,
and I won’t piss on you from above,
provided you don’t shit on me from below…

Get back in your box, says dad,
you stupid bastard.
Already you’re hanging on
by your fingertips.
No one owes you anything.
Positive discrimination
can just as quickly become
a positive kick that black bastard
up the arse and heave the fucker
to hell out of here.
Let them dig their chortles out
of their scummy throats
with their sly little racist quips and innuendos,
so long as you get up the ladder, son.
Stay on the bottom
and you lie there under a dump of shit.
But get to the top rung
and people start running around,
waving their tonsils,
and inviting you to crap in their gobs.
Says who?
Says me.
Thank you, dad.
What a wise-fucking-acre.
How lucky I am to have such a man for a father.

HAPPY DAYS.

His mother would take a picnic to the park,
insisting that Tom go with her.
She would sit cross legged on the ground.
That embarrassed Tom very early, that did;
he hated the possibility
that any of his white mates
at school would see him,
reminding them that he wasn’t exactly like them –
if they ever forgot.
His father never came with them.

INDIA.

Tom has never been to India.
When he was a kid
his mother had promised him faithfully,
three or four times at least,
to take him there,
but dad, dear dad, had always said no.
Infect the kid with your heathen heresies.
Bad enough he’s a mongrel.
Overheard through the wall of his bedroom.
Snuffle down under the covers
and try to sleep away the hurt
and the disappointment.
Why had they ever married?
Why had two such different people,
without a hope in hell of surviving together,
entered into the sacred sacrament of matrimony,
to quote his father?
Had they deliberately sought each other out
so that they could beat
seven kinds of psychic shit
out of each other?
Destiny, perhaps?
‘Destiny!  ‘Twas all over my destineee…’
Tom sings, imitating his father’s voice.
Biggest question, though –
Why did they have him?
He can’t answer that.
Maybe he doesn’t want to answer it.
So Tom never got to India.

HOLIDAY IN IRELAND.

Dad took him to Ireland once.
When Tom was seven.
But refused to take mum with them.
Leave the bitch behind!
My relatives are decent, God-fearing people.
What would they think of her!
Easter time, that was when they went.
And Tom’s abiding memory of that holiday –
holiday! more an exploration
in paternalistic sadism,
or sadistic paternalism;
just as well the Irish
had never been an imperialistic race –
was when his father forced him
to walk along some strand in Kerry,
Derrymore Strand, or some such name,
walking in a gale
which almost took the skin off him.
Sand scoured his face till he cried.
His father laughed at him,
jeered at him,
forced him to soldier on, his very words,
you got to soldier on in this life
or you’ll end up
a bigger load of shit than you actually are!
Soldier on!
And Tom soldiered on –
and still soldiered on,
with no end to the fucking route march in sight –
soldiered on through the blistering wind.
At last they’d turned back.
As they did so, the wind, now behind them,
suddenly increased its thrust
and, like a fist in Tom’s back,
like his father’s fist,
bowled him along the beach,
no longer in control of himself,
flapping, flapping frantically –
Christ, never again, never again
must that happen to him!
And then it began to hail.
The barbarous wind slung hailstones at him,
dashing white pellets
against the backs of his bare legs,
against his neck,
his ears, his hands,
such ferocity, such pain!
Trying to protect himself,
he threw himself on to the sand
in the lee of a low red rock,
and curled and curled
and pulled what clothes
he could over his bare flesh.
His father stood above him,
trousers flapping in the wind –
he was all right, the bastard,
he had long trousers covering his legs –
and he jeered at Tom,
you snivelling little mongrel,
can’t stand up to this man’s weather.

Duck egg green?
When had Tom ever seen a duck egg?
Oh, yes!
On that long ago visit to Ireland,
hunkered at the table
in a dark and dismal farmhouse kitchen.
His grandmother? –
grand aunt? –
anyway someone ancient and decrepit
and related to his father
placed a cup in front of him.
In the cup a duck egg.
Promises were made
that he would never in his life
taste anything so wonderful
as a fresh duck egg.
And everyone sat around and watched him –
dark Irish faces – watching –
not a flicker of feeling
as he struggled to get into the egg.
Which suddenly shattered.
Everyone laughed – cruel merriment –
and then his father’s anger
at such a stupid pup,
sorry he’d ever whelped him,
sorry he’d ever brought him
home to embarrass him,
insisting that he ate
every scrap of egg, shell and all…

SWEET DREAMS

Tom goes up to his bedroom.
His bedroom?
He only sleeps in the room
because it has a mattress in it.
Move the mattress to another room and that
becomes his bedroom.
He throws himself on to his bed
and scrabbles in his trousers
till he finds his cock.
Lying back, tears in his eyes,
he masturbates his cock.
Crying and wanking.
Two brands of ecstasy.
Celibacy celibacy celibacy,
tappity tappity tappity,
the only way,
oh God, his father went on
and on about it,
celibacy celibacy celibacy,
tappity tappity tappity,
the only way to avoid
having a half-breed like you,
you bastard you bastard you bastard!

The world abruptly shifts to the left.
Not much of a shift.
A couple of inches, no more.
But definitely, without question,
a displacement.
Tom’s eyes squirm up into his skull –
are wrenched up into his skull.
He tries to drag them down again,
but can’t.
He manages to open his lids a fraction,
a crack of light,
a slot of radiance,
a slit of morning,
then someone lies on him,
mouth sucking and drinking,
thighs either side of his face!
Smiling down at him,
eyes intent on his pleasure,
her vagina slides up and down, up and down,
Dracula, biting and sucking,
biting and sucking,
drawing him up and up and up,
draining him of blood,
a sucker-eel, a lamprey said his father,
wisps of chiffon billowed across his face,
filling his mouth, suffocating him –
his mother!
Oh, God, her red sari
with the gold design
drawn up to her waist,
and he listens to the bangles
jingling on his mother’s wrists,
looking up at her, as she holds them high for him,
baby baby, she says,
holds them high for him,
holds them high on her bare arms
and shakes one wrist and then the other,
shaking out a rhythm,
the sun beaming through the kitchen window,
glinting and gleaming on the bangles,
jangle jangle,
as she hunkers over him, pissing on his chest!
Oh, Christ!  What what what!  Open your fucking eyes!
Red blood gushes from her cunt,
splashing his chest, his mouth, his nose, his eyes.
He can’t breathe!
Cloth!  Heaped on his face!
Dresses!  Skirts!  Saris!
He is suffocating beneath them!
Chiffon.  Billowing.  Billowing.
Smiling down at him courteously,
lips red, like blood,
so red, so red,
soothing, slipping down down down,
mouth so wet, so comforting,
mouth to suckle him, mouth to save him,
mouth to suck him clean of all this shit…!

MASTURBATION.

Tom sits up on the edge of the bed.
His right hand is damp,
sticky with drying semen.
The front of his trousers
is splotched with white,
messy with dried come.
He feels sick
but he is too tired to vomit.
He rinses his hands under the cold tap
and dries them.

PRAYER.
Purify me.
Oh, bless me father,
for I have sinned,
bless me father –
why was it always father?
Why did he always lift his psychic arms
to appeal to the Christian God!
Why not Vishnu?
Why didn’t Vishnu
leap to his mind
with the same alacrity
as that bastard God his father
had branded on his brain.
Vishnu!  Vishnu!  Vishnu!
Easier on his heart than
the monosyllabic drumbeat –
God!  God!  God!    Vishnu Vishnu Vishnu…
not so punishing….softer.
Brahman!  Siva – The Destroyer!
God of ascetics!  God of the Phallus!
Or Kali!
Now there was a goddess to drop on your knees before.
Kali!  Kali!
Pick up that mad fucker in your many hands –
an ankle in each of two fists, a wrist in each of two more,
pull the bastard apart like a lobster,
for all he’s done to me.

    Angst

    Existentialist Angst.

Who am I, doctor – or should I call you God?  Who am I, that is the question?  I know everyone asks the question sometime or other in their lives – your boring old existentialist angst, but, nonetheless, as the Bishop said to the abbess, I have to ask.
Who am I?  Who am I?  Who?  Who?  Who?  Like a boring old owl outside a boring old window.  Nobody else seems to have this problem – which I find very boring.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I was one of a ravening flock of howling owls, but I’m not – or I don’t seem to be – at any rate I can only speak for myself, and when I speak for myself it seems that everyone else is clear who and what they mean when they say “I”.  And it is equally clear to me that I haven’t the foggiest who or what I mean when I say “I”.
The subject.  That’s what it’s all about.  Who is the subject of my life?  In grammar it is all so easy. If I say ‘I ran’ or ‘I drink’ or ‘I pick my nose’ than “I” am the subject of the sentence.  So far so good.  Everything clear and above board.  But as soon as I scrutinize this “I”, who is the subject of the statement, then everything becomes slippery.  “I” slide all over the place.  I shoot in and out of rabbit holes in my perception like an adulterer in a Feydeau farce.  Of course the whole thing would become a lot simpler if I was an adulterer in a Feydeau farce.  I wish I was an adulterer in a Feydeau farce.  I wish I was an adulterer in real life.  Not that that would necessarily help me in my quest for “I” but it would give me some fun along the way.
Stop fantasising!  Stick to the point, you fool!
Who’s issuing these orders?    Gestalt.  I am waiting for the illusive thoughts to float across the sky of my head and someone is issuing orders.  Who is that someone?  Me!  Obviously.  But which me?  Where is this me?  Who is I?  I is who?   I am who?  Who who who!  On it goes in the night of the brain, like an owl hooting.  What’s an owl doing in my brain?  Hunting rats and voles.  What are rats and voles doing in my brain!  And mice!  Scuttling around on the floor of my mind looking for crumbs and dead matter and waste of all sorts.  What is this waste, these crumbs and dead matter?  What are they doing in my brain?  Fuck all, that’s what they are doing.  Sloughing of the skin of my cranium, sloughing of the skin of my brain like skin that has been sunburnt, drifting down, flaking down on to the carpet of my head where it is eaten by lice and bugs and bacteria of all sorts!  What is going on in my head that this should happen?  Fuck all!  That’s the point!  Fuck all going on in my head!  Except my brain is shrinking!  Shrinking, shrinking down to a dark and wizened walnut, and all these bits keep falling off and floating down, little wisps and shreds and crumbs and motes, floating down, lit up for a split second by the beams from my eyes, the motes in the beams of my eyes, and that’s what passes for cerebral activity in my brain.  That is my intellectual effort, my intellectual achievement, that is the muscle of my brain, the mucous of my mind, those crumbs and motes floating down, and illuminated for a brief second by the beams from my eyes.  And as they are lit up for that split second, my mouth opens, my tongue wags, and people listen.  And what do they hear?  Crumbs and motes and shards and fragments fluttering about on the tips of my lips.  And they say: My God!  My God!  They say in such admiring tones.  Listen to this man!  Listen to him!  Have you ever heard such a stupid wanker!  And I have to agree with them.  Because anyone whose brain is occupied by a hunting owl sitting high in an old cypress tree, chanting ‘who who who’ and looking for rats and mice and voles, searching for cockroaches in the detritus, in the undergrowth of my brain, can’t be serious, can he?  I would’ve thought that the first requisite for being serious, for being taken seriously, is that you knew who you were!  That your brain wasn’t completely taken up by the question: who am I?  I?  I?  Who am I?  Who who who?  And there goes that fucking owl again.  Did Sartre suffer from this?  I don’t expect so.  He was French, wasn’t he?  And the French don’t say who who who?  So he can’t have heard an owl in his brain as he lay there in the dark of the night in existentialist angst.  What’s the French for who?  I’m not good at languages.  Something else I’m not good at.  Such a lot of things I’m not good at.  Qui?  Would that be it?  Qui?  Pronounced key?  Don’t know.  Sartre lying there moaning: key key key?  What did he have on his brain then?  A door.  Obviously.  And behind that door stands his true self, his I.  His true I.  Only he’s lost the fucking key.  Key key key? he goes.  And outside the window I’m going: who who who?  OK.  No wonder he’s dead and I’m brain dead.
Mind you, there are some “I”s eyes that I don’t want to be, even if it were given to me to choose.  
It seems to me that the Catholics have the ‘soul’ when they talk about the “I” – I was brought up a Catholic for my sins, which is one reason why I am not interested in the Catholic “I”.  Awful!  Faced only with eternal damnation and the Pope’s bad breath.  No, the certainty of that “I”, I – I? – who? – I can well do without.  I either want to work out this phenomenological conundrum or I want to clip my fingernails – I don’t know which attracts me the most.  “I” feel that “I” should work out on my angst, bless it, so “I” is now a moral imperative, “I” is now the dear old Superego.  Not that I want an “I” approved of dear old reductionist Freud, any more than I want the Catholic “I”.  I’m not interested in any “I” which can be defined by somebody other than myself.  Now I find that quite funny.  Here I am crying that find myself defunct – as I one day will be – in the matter of the “I”: give me my “I”, I cry.  I want my “I”.  Please!  An “I” for an “I”.  But it is also clear that not any old “I” will do.  I’m highly selective.  
I don’t want that old Romantic nineteenth century “I” either, that old Victorian certainty, the “I” as the subject unifying the whole world, the “I” as hungry subject ready to eat the whole world, an “I” ready to integrate the individual and to integrate the entire physical, non-subjective world.  I certainly don’t want that “I”.  That “I” has no doubts and is therefore dangerous.  So some doubts I approve of?  And some doubts I don’t approve of?  Perhaps that might help me in my search.  Which doubts do I not approve of?  No, I’m wrong.  I’m fucking up the question.  I don’t mean doubts – I don’t mean I approve of having no doubts – that is the point of disapproval.  So, rephrasing, or refocusing perhaps, the question again: there are some doubts of which I approve and there are some doubts of which I disapprove.  Now, I’ve confused myself.  Apart from being syntactically neater, isn’t that precisely what I asked myself earlier?  It is, Joxer, it is.  So stop being a fucking eejit and get on with it.
All right, I don’t want an “I” which as no doubts.  I don’t want an “I” which is beset by certain doubts.  I wish I could find another word for “I” than “I”, if you see what I mean.  It’s very confusing.  But I can’t.  So stick with it and try not to hurt my head.  Presumably I am willing to accept being muzzled by certain other, approved of, doubts?  OK.  The “I” which has no doubts: rigorously locked into its view of the world and self – or does it possess a self, other than as a referent point.  Perhaps it looks out, this “I”, sternly upon the world and defines itself by what it sees and how it reacts to it, the world, I mean.  Unaware of ignoring the pressure of any other psychic dynamics in its certainty that it is reacting, behaving objectively, logically.  I’m grateful to – em – whatshisname – fucking hell, I wish I knew what was going on in my head sometimes, I wish I knew if I am thinking, or is it I who am thinking, or do I think and who is I and if I am the I that thinks am I the am, therefore, if you see what I mean, I am.  Or am I?  Perhaps I’m not?   Perhaps I’m partly not and partly am.  Perhaps I’m lodged in a crack somewhere – this is great fun – this is fucking madness.  Either I am or I am not, I’ll settle for one of the other but I want certainty.  Is that too much to ask, for Christ’s sake!  He knew who he was,  When he said “I”, he was backed up by a lot of thickset men with beards.  They all knew who he was, he is the only “I” they said, and they passed it on to the rest of us.  At any rate, it was certainly passed on to me.  Was it Lacan who said – I ask rhetorically because I know bloody well it was – was it Lacan who said:  I think where I am not, hence I am where I think not!  Hey!  What!  Get out of that!  What the fuck does he mean?  I think where I am not!  In any case, that is not so much my problem!  My problem is I can’t think where I AM!!  And I want to think where I am!!!  At least I think I do.  I think, therefore I am here.  Now that would be the beginning of something.  But I think therefore I am not here would lead, I’m afraid, to some rather severe questioning in the House!  And we can’t have that can we?

Someday I’ll find me,
I’ll creep up behind me,
And put my cold hand on my bum-tiddley-um-tum.

There’s something to be going on with.  Hope springs eternally in the breasts of an idiot.  Does everyone go through this?  I’ve asked this before, I know – but I’m not sure if anyone answered, if anyone heard!  I mean, it’s possible – that no one heard, I mean.  If I am not here – and this is the purpose of this enquiry, to discover if I am or if I am not – and if I does not exist, and that seems odds on favourite right this minute, then who speaks and can he, she or it be heard across the gulf?  I love it, I love it.  But does  anyone else?
I wish I had some other word than “I” with which to address myself.  Because that is the whole issue, isn’t it?  I speak “I” with such familiarity that after a moment the listener must be confused.  Can this be the man who doubts his “I”? I hear you ask.  Who can’t wipe his “I”?  He uses the personal pronoun with such ease, with such familiarity, with such a sense of assurance that surely he can have no doubts!  BUT I DO DOUBT!  I DO FUCKING WELL DOUBT!  And I don’t want to doubt!  Let me have peace now.  Let us all have peace.  Let the subject rest – but who is this subject who wishes to rest – and that brings me back to the question.  
I get the feeling that I am all alone in this.  I get the feeling that no one else aches like this.  No doubt I am wrong – but I feel that I am right.  And that feeling is all that I have to go on – so, until something better comes along , I’ll just have to stick with it.  I mean, when other people wake up in the morning, when daylight sticks a finger in their eye – who wakes up?  Are they instantly totally secure, a hundred percent certain about their whoness?  Their I-ness?  I’m me, they state with absolute conviction – not necessarily in such limp words but in whatever colourful and vibrant phrases which configure their sense of beingness, I’ness, whoness, and so on and so forth.  They climb out of bed.  They pee and shit or not.  They wash and dress – or not.  They, make-up or not, shave or not as whim or gender strikes them.  But they do not freeze on the edge of the bed, one foot poised over an empty slipper, balls flapping in the breeze, and start to ask; who, who, who?  Unable to move until the wife hits him a sharp blow in the small of the back and says: you, you fool!  Get up!  I don’t know what I’d do without the missus!
Then they move on, breakfast, move into the streets and thoroughfares, take to their cars, to buses, to trains, taxis, even bikes.  They work, sing and pray throughout the livelong day.  They fart, shit, piss, pick their noses, manage the odd fuck, get a haircut, read The Sun, indulge in other vices, completely certain of who they are.  I do all this -whatever it is – shit, shave, haircut, all the rest of it – not sure about the odd fuck, and I don’t read The Sun – no fucking help their for my problem – I I I do all this, therefore I I I exist.  Don’t I?  I don’t fucking know!  I know me, I think I know me,but do I exist?  
I don’t feel any of that certainty that other people feel.  I feel nothing like that.  Nothing.  I wake up, and before anything much can happen, I’ve got to dress myself in myself, if you see what I mean?  Not that that is easy.  Bloody hell, far from it.  First of all I’ve got to rummage around in the wardrobe and drawers of my mind in order to find someone to wear.  Someone that I am comfortable wearing.   Someone that I am happy wearing.  It is very rare that the someone I wore the previous day will settle on me today – even if hygiene would allow – very unlikely that.  I can’t think of an occasion when for two days running I was able to don the same “I” – usually I can’t even find yesterday’s “I” – it’s gone from the chair over which I through it so carelessly the night before – stolen?  Dissolved?  Anyway, missing.  Always the same – gone.  For some reason, though every night I intend to take care of me, intend oh so fervently, the fact is I simply can’t take care if me.  I should fold me carefully and place me carefully over a chair where I can see me, where I won’t lose sight of me, and therefore be all ready to slip into me in the a.m. so that I can have an early start.  But I don’t!  I can’t imagine why!  But I don’t.  And I wake up.  And I’m not there.  I’m gone.  No idea where.  So I have to rummage and poke and, if I’m lucky, come up with something which, when pulled like a woolly hat over my brain, gives me the sensation at least – nothing more – that here’s an “I” which will at least enable me to tumble out of bed and put one foot in front of the other, so that I won’t starve – though that might solve a lot of problems.  
Can you think like this when you’re starving?  Would you want to think like this if you were starving?  Do they think like this in the Upper Volta?  I don’t see Oxfam advertising for ‘Ego-kits’ to enable the starving desperate of the Horn of Africa organise a Being for themselves.  This child doesn’t know who he is – donate an ego and let him know that he is suffering.  
Anyway, that’s all very well, but I’ve got my own bag, I’m stuck in my own groove, and all I can do is struggle with it.  If Ego-angst and empty bellies are incompatible, what can I do about it?  I can only struggle on.  So I try to dress myself in me so that I can go out.  Sometimes something useful turns up and off I go relatively smoothly – though never with any great belief, if you see what I mean.   I simply talk of achieving a sort of functional minimum, just enough petorl to get the old engine moving, so to speak.  However, some days I don’t even achieve that.  I flounder around through the daylight hours – and the waking nighttime ones as well – trying on this, slipping into that, ripping that off, throwing this aside, until I’m – or someone is – ready to weep with frustration.   Or worse – anxiety.  Has anybody – has everybody – spent a day, a week, a month even – a year? – in that awful state of cramping anxiety?  As if everywhere you went, no matter where, Maggie Thatcher – I haven’t forgotten her, you know, I shall always keep an eye on her, she could be back -anyway, as if Maggie Thatcher or your dead grandmother, whichever is more frightening, is poised just above and behind your head and, when you least expect it, is going to deliver a savage psychic karate chop to the neck just as you are going to move in on this beautiful girl and you shit your pants – which I can tell you for nothing is no way to behave when you’re just about to chat up some lovely; she just won’t got for it.  So this old gut Hubbard finds that the cupboard is bare, poor thing, aznd even ringing a bell does nothing to help – if you see what I mean, and I hope you do, because i don’t.
What makes the whole thing worse though, is that everyone else seems completely certain as to who I am – particularly when it comes to apportioning blame for some failure.  It’s all his fault!  By the way, ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘him’ is the outsiders way of referring to me, to “I”, though I feel as uncerain about that as I do about the rest – that is, rest equals “I”.  Anyway, to circle around a bit and hopefully shake some of the wool from my brain – my brain clogs, you know that?  Becomes furred up in some way, like lime in a pipe, or emulsification in an artery, so that I’m left with this sensation of being asleep, of not being wholly conscious, thugh I know I am because the blinds are up and daylight floods – though as I say that, I am also forced to ask: what does that prove?  Who says my eyes are open?  Who says that daylight floods?  I could be dreaming – and I could drive myself mad, if I go on like this.  Drive who mad?  Me, mad.  Who’s me.  Oh, for Christ’s sake stop it!  Excuse me while I calm myself for a moment.
That’s better.
I keep wanting to return to the theme of others being sure of who I am, but I find it difficult to do so.  Perhaps I don’t want to discuss that aspect of the matter?  But I must.  I’m determined to cover everything in as great a detail as is necessary, even if I lose friends in the process, even if I bore you all to death in the process – death!  Death!  There it is.  The truly relevant subject!  I shall die.  You will die.  He, she or it will die.  We all will die.  Sometime.  Somehow.  Somewhere.  What price “I” then?  Who is subject then?  I’ll outlive you.  Or you’ll outlive me.  Either way one of us will perceive the other’s death.  That is, if we care to make the effort.  So my preoccupations with my “I” are juiced over with that rather piquant sauce.  
I shall die.  But who is, it that shall die?  I’d be really pissed off to think that I was dying for someone else.  That some vague sense of other-being had been infiltrated into my head at a very tender age – by my mother, no doubt – unlikely my father as he would have left marks.  And somehow I carry this sort of cuckoo-ego which I think is me around in my cranium, but which in fact is a sort of simulacrum or a creag, if you see what I mean – nothing so positive as possession, but rather as if someone had eased in this tiny taste of their “I” int my head case – which I am – and thereby confuses the whole issue.  I’ll die for this person.  And somewhere else someone will think that this person is dead, but he isn’t, or she isn’t, and so he or she has achieved immortality – BUT I AM DEAD!!!  And I don’t know who it is who has died!  Because I don’t know who “I” is!  It’s rather neat the way I keep circling back to the same point, isn’t it?  Neat, but not very helpful.
I’ve lost myself again.  And good riddance I hear you say.  But I hear unfinished business racketting around in my brain.  Oh yes.  Others certain they know who I am.  For instance, my wife – and ladies, I use the possessive pronoun extremely hesitantly.  I’m sorry, but I’ve no alternative.  Until I get this present desperate problem sorted out I won’t have time to reconstruct the pronouns of the English language.  So I continue: my wife said to me in bed the other night – she doesn’t seem to have any doubts about who I am or to whom she speaks – she says:
‘I haven’t seen much of you.’  
I’d been around all day so I suspected a wifely trap.  I hedged a bit.  
‘Why not?’ I ask.
‘You haven’t been here,’ she answers.
Again I was very careful – because if I hadn’t been here, if you see what I mean, where the hell had I been!
‘Where have I been?’ I ask her.
‘Inside your head,’ she says.
We didn’t talk again for the rest of the night – well, what could you say after that?  I mean, I’m inside my head!!!  How does she know!!  Why don’t I know?  I mean, who is inside my head?  And does she really know what she is talking about, accusing me of being inside my head?  Where else would I be, if I were me, if you see what I mean.  Where the hell am I trying to be but inside my head.  
But first of all I’ve got to find this “I” who’s supposed to live inside my head – or am I coming at it from the wrong side?  Is she knows where I am – and I quote again: you’re inside you’re head – then maybe I should listen more carefully to those who look at me and say: you, he, him, his, etc.  Perhaps, like triangulations on a map, I can get a fix on my elusive “I” and Betty Martin – as if I hadn’t got enough problems, why bring her into it?  OK, OK, let’s look at it logically.  Who professes to know who I am?  Well, wife, children, friend – theonly one – a few colleagues – we’ll leave out casual acquaintances for the moment, they could be talking to a Golem for all they know, nor, providing I didn’t bite them, would they care.  The DSS know who I am – I’m on the computer, I have an identity composed of letters and numbers.  I don’t answer terribly easily when they call me but, from their point of view, they are absolutely certain who I am.  The car licensing people know who I am.  Various insurance companies know.  You see, the problem is not so much being identified but, rather, who is it that is being identified?  The police, I’m sure, have me somewhere – they’ve got us all, I’m certain.  Equity lists me – though after this they might decide that it’s a case of mistaken identity.  And that’s really frightening.  But at least, with all these sources of identity I can’t get lost – at anyrate, my body can’t get lost.  If I didn’t have these official and unofficial sources of identity, I’d be in a far worse state than I am, I can assure you, I’d be well and truly lost, more lost that I am.  So, for the moment, I’m all in favour of these computerised data banks, thi instant retrieval – because I need it myself, to instantly retrieve my overcoat, so to speak.  We mustn’t see these data systems as a threat to our liberties – for some us, they may actually be a source of liberty.  They could be a source of support and comfort, dial and in and check yourself out, a sort of electronic cloakroomn from which we can fetch our over-being and at least confirm that that exists!  Therefore, I shan’t sign the petition.  Not that I would have, anyway, because that is the whole point – who is it that signs?!!  Who signs!!  If I don’t know who I am, am I entitled to sign documents?  I mean, surely that is a form of forgery?  I plav#ce my trust in the computers agreeing that the overcoat is the same as the one kept on the hook and, therefore, because of this agreement, I won’t be arrested for fraud or forgery or false pretences or whatever – though I have to confess that I feel anxious about this, so I avoid signing anytjing unless I have to.  I’m arranging, slowly – and much to her puzzlement – for my wife – repeat apologies on pronouns – to take over the signing of all matters.  She has no doubts about who she is – not even that she is my wife – or, at anyrate, she doesn’t seem to have any doubts, but who am I to say?  Anyway, once she has finally taken over all responsibilities for the signatures that people demand that I go through life making, I shall feel somewhat happier.  I shall be safe from the law, even if nowhere closer to the answer.
Again my brain walks into a wal of pudding, becomes muffled, congeals stickily, ideas cease to flow, if they ever did.  How do I answer this conundrum if I continually wind up as a dumpling.  I want the answer!  I will have the answer!  I will understand it.  I will know I, or I will not know I.  It’s a mess, isn’t it?  But should it be a mess?  Perhaps I wasn’t properly taught when I was a kid.  Perhaps I wasn’t properly guided.  It could have beenmy fault, I suppose.  The information was passed on but I was too slow, too dozy, too careless, too lacking concentration and so missed the pearl of wisdom.  Anyway, one way or the other, I have missed it, so whether it had been offered or not been offered is now academic – so on goes the search.  I hope nobody thinks that this quest of mine is unnecessary, or not important?  It is crucially important.  For instance, this’ll show you how important it is, I make promises – we all make promises – we swear in court that we will tell thew truth, we swear undying love.  I swear to tell the truth.  I love you.  I will love, honour and obey.  I promise.  I guarantee.  I love you, I love you, I love you!  So it’s crucial that I know who does the swearing – surely you can all see that?  If there is nobody in, so to speak, if the entity which swears doesn’t exist, then there is no reason why any oath should be binding.  “I” can swear anything that suits me and then take off in any direction that suits me.  Without blame.  Without guilt.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?  But it is clear that in many ways Society grants that I possess and “I” that swears – a swearing “I” – an “I” that, when it swears, will be bound by the oath, will keep its word.  I mean, it can’t be any old “I” that happens to be passing through that can do the job, can it?  No.  The swearing “I” must be the “I” with which I want to get in touch, which I want to touch.  Otherwise there is just a great headful of different “I”s.  I as daddy, I as husband, I as employee, I as freidn, I as enemy, I as idiot standing here.  Now that is dreadful, isn’t it?  Can’t have that.  I want certainty.  I want unity.  I want integrity.  To have “I”s slipping in and out of my head like bums in a dentist’s chair doesn’t help me at all.  I want and “I” poised above the rest, an “I” which observes, which sees, which controls, which is conscious, high above the hurly burly, like a lorry driver in his cab.  When I say ‘I am pissed, I am stoned’ I want to know who is pissed!  I want to know who says ‘I am stoned’!  And how do I know that I am pissed, or indeed stoned.  This gets deeper by the second.  
‘Why did the I cross the road?’
‘Because it couldn’t see where it was going – or coming from.’
Did that help?
Not a lot.  Not that I can perceive.  Ah!  Wait!  Perceive!  Perception!  Aha!  The subject who perceives!  Now we’re getting somewhere!  Does the object perceived exist independently of the perceiving subject?  Does the perceiving subject really perceive the objective object?  Does the objective object object?  Or do the perceiving subject and the objective object not exist – until the perceiving subject walks straight into the objective object and raises a welt between his eyebrows!  Aha!  There we are!  That…doesn’t help in the slightest, does it?
Lord, it’s difficult, isn’t it?  You have to admit that.  You!  Here I go.  You?  Who are you?  No,  no, no, let me not go into that.  I have enough problems with me.  Hey, do politicians suffer from this?  I am John Major, therefore I am Michael Hesletine – I hope.  I am Michael Hesletine, therefore I am hair.  Here!  I am Virginia, therefore I am bottomless.  It’s a bit worrying, isn’t it?  No, I don’t think they do.  They all seem so certain.  But if they don’t suffer from it, for I perceive – aha, perceive again.  Ignore it! – for I perceive this as a form of suffering.  Certainly it’s not a form of contentment, spending hour after hour, day after day, wandering around the same old arsehole, like a dog sniffing a bitch!  At least the dog knows that his nose his real – at least I hope he does – and the bitch knows that his nose is real, because it is cold, and the dog knows that his nose his cold, he’s a healthy dog, and he knows that the bitch’s arse will warm it, and she knows that his nose is snuffling up her arse because she’s shivering.  It’s all simple at that level, isn’t it. I am, therefore I cock my leg.  Not that my nose is cold.  Not that anyone would let me snuffle – oh, well, that’s another story altogether.  Anyway, if politicians don’t suffer from this existentialist angst, why don’t they suffer from it?  And if they don’t suffer from it are they safe?  Or are they safer if they don’t suffer?  No, scrub it, they’re fucking dangerous whichever way it is.  Maybe they might be marginally safer if they didn’t know who they were, if they spent more time trying to discover who, i fact, they were.  Am I making sense?  If anyone notices even the tinest whiff of sense – ‘in sense’, as you might say – would you please draw my attention to it.  You?  You?  Oh, God, stop it!  Anyway, would you please draw my atention to it – sense, that is – as that is the whole purpose of the exercise.  Call out – what? – not my name, even if you know it, my name’s still stapled to this crisis of identity.   And don’t call out: ‘hey, you!’, I’ll freak.  A number!  That might be best.  Call out a number.  Any number you fancy.  Come in, number six, you’re time’s up!  The voice of death.  Yoohoo, I’m here for you.  For who!  For who!  Just tell me!  On the last breath even!  Anyway, if I hear someone call out a number, I’ll know that they are addressing me, no one else could be so daft.
Identity!  Identity!  They’s all got it infamy!  It’s all about identity, isn’t it?   Sudden thought.  Identikit.  Ask the witness to describe who he or she saw.  Build up a likeness.  Computer enhanced.  I wonder.  Is that the answer.  How tall is this “I”?   Would you say tall?  Average?  Small?  Colour of hair?  Long, shot, medium, dark, fair, bald.  Oh, what’s the use!  I’d confuse the computer.  Who, who, who?  How do I fit into society?  Do I fit into society?  Am I part of the system?  I suppose I am.  Outside, on my surface, the way I live, the way I work, I support the system.  OK?  I support it.  I face up to that.  No rebel me – whoever me is.  I – whoever “I” is – don’t ever put the tinest quiver into the boat.  But inside, inside my head – vacant as it may be at this moment, desperately advertising for a tenant as it may be at this moment – inside my head I destroy the system everyday.  Every day!  Believe me!  I scorch Capitalism to cinders with breathtaking surges of intellectual flame.  I create the beautiful society in a few tender thoughts.  I liquidate the baddies – Rightwing politicians, Demagogues, religious fundamentalists, Media moguls, dictators, oligarchs, Nazis, Fascists, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United – without compunction.  Painlessly, mind you.  Because I’m still a pacifist. And a vegetarian.  I click my mental fingers and – Paul Daniels hang your head, Michael Aspel look up your wife – prestidigitalously, legerdemain, stockpiles of nuclear rockets and warheads, of submarines and guns, of armies, of chemical and biological poisons, of free marketeers, the entire Tory party, the lot of them, all disappear with a pouf.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  What a wonderful world – what a wonderful world, thank you, Louis.  But outside?  In this world of computer enhanced images?  Do I rock the boat?  No, I don’t rock the boat.  This is very serious.  Mind you – oh, God, ‘Mind you’!  Where do these phrase come from!  Mind you!  Mind I!   Mind me!  Mind we! – anyway, just as soon as I discover my “I” you’ll – who’ll? – you’ll, you’ll, is it Christmas already! – you’ll see a difference.  I might not, but you will.  The revolution will revolve until the world comes round again, comes to its senses again.  The Golden Age will flood over us.  The millenium will grind exceedingly delightful.  There’ll be pie in the sky, and pigs will fly and there’ll be a blue moon every night.  But that’s all in the future.  And there’s no hope of it ever coming true if I can’t find my “I”!   Without my “I” it’s all Betty Martin.  Without being present, me here, I here, myself here, I can’t make anything happen.  Subjectivity is all.  Without the subject there simply isn’t an object, nothing exists.  You don’t exist.  I don’t exist – naturally, that’s what I’m saying.  I’m feeling sick now.  Like an overworked house doctor.  My head is spinning.  In the centre of the hurricane, there is no “I”, the vortex is empty, so I die, here and now.  Dead.  You’re looking at a dead man.  No “I”.  No heart.  No breath.  Funeral time.  Clods on the face, earth in the eyes, worms in the womb.  Join my father – who couldn’t find his “I” either – does it run in the family?  Like father, like son.  Mother? Can’t say?  Always a mystery to me.  The rest of humanity?  Can’t say.  Myself?  Can’t say.  So that’s it.  I go out where I came in; I come in where I go out, right up my own arsehole, fighting for space with a dog’s cold nose.  Goodnight.