Over the next few weeks / Extract from ‘The Wind’…
It’s been a busy last few weeks at home and is set to get much busier. But i’m back in the swing of things. Over the next few weeks i’ll be writing up my thoughts on Hannah Hull’s Walking and Art talk at the Anchor, a story based around Matt and Pete’s Photo Walk which were both left-over work from the end of March, but which I had to put on the back burner. My back-log has expanded! My MA Final Project is nearly complete, just a few days need to be spent on the commentary and areas for further research. The Malthouse Engineering project is going excellently and that’s going to take off in May. And further – imminent work with Friction Arts and a very exciting publishing project that’s going to raise the game of enhanced texts in the West Midlands.And also, the beautiful Edible Eastside, the allotments on Fazeley Street, where i’ve rented a patch and will be growing a ratatouille. The flat in Town is now home to seeds ready for planting in May. Ideas sown etc…And then there is also the matter of my brand new niece, Lara Jasmine. For the while, have a look at this…an extract from The Wind that is being edited to be included in my Final Project. Here, the snow has come, and a slight thaw is spreading. This indicates that the city is becoming alive, and now, it is literally, not metaphorically alive…
The snow was melting. I had already made a plan with what I was going to do today, take to a stroll into King’s Heath and back through the slush. I would buy some pigs ears for my friends dogs and carry them to King’s Heath. There I would buy some CDs from The Polar Bear for a Christmas present, and then go back on myself to Moseley to deliver the pigs ears. The obscenity written in the snow had now melted back into the ground. My walking shoes were under the radiator. I knew that my flared jeans were going to get ruined, but I didn’t mind. Frayed, damp ends I thought, were the mark of an adventurer, a traveller. I would think those frayed edges as a mark of a traveller, as a wandering hero, with a mission to accomplish and objectives to achieve, and I breathed in greatly, sticking my chest out with pride, however, this was stopped by a sudden coughing fit, my lungs rattling, perhaps my body warning me that it was going to be very cold out there today.
I walked out onto Bath Row, as I figured that the pavements would be clearer thanks to the heavy footfall. I made my way slowly to the Pogoda roundabout, looking down at the floor to watch my own footsteps in case of black ice. There were barely any passers-by, I presumed that they were in their offices and factories, trying to desperately to keep warm, still bemoaning the cold despite their many layers and electric heaters. I was wishing that I had put my long johns on, the wind blowing against my groin and calves. The subway under the roundabout didn’t even reek of urine like it usually did, the freezing temperatures in the night must have put off any potential pissers from exposing themselves in the night air. On the other side, a man with a sleeping bag stuffed into a rucksack was fumbling for his keys to get into a door that led to an underground room under the Caribana takeaway. He looked around nervously as I approached, and I decided to leave him be. The kebab houses were open, and people were crouched over their chicken and chips breakfast, their bomber jackets creasing and stretching, making eating difficult. I went right at the Oceanna bar and crossed the road past Mr Egg. The air suddenly changed from freezing cold into a musky wave of fish from the markets. I thought of getting a quick cup of tea from the café, but as I had already made quite a pace, I decided to get on with the task in hand.
I got to the Rag Market, which for once was quiet. A maze of stalls selling fabrics and cheap household items, the vendors standing behind their wares. The sounds of reggae from those selling mixtapes and compilation CDs ripped from local radio. The pet food suppliers were situated to my far right, and I made my way the long way round, looking at the diverse range of goods and stalls, full of vibrant colours and exotic intrigue. And the colours in front of me continued at the suppliers. Pet chews, reds and greens. Trotters, tails and hinds. I needed pig’s ears. I wanted to keep it simple, despite being faced with this fantastic choice. As a lover of biltong and pork scratchings, they looked inviting as they were placed and folded into a blue plastic bag. The gangly young man behind the counter said that I’d need four ears for two dogs, and they’d love it. He advised me not to eat them, and I raised the bag up to my nose to have a sniff. A fatty must wafted up my nostrils, making my head spin. The youth smiled and took my money. I went on my way, resolving to go there again.
Onto Bradford Street to the 50 stop. Before I got the bus, it was time for a quick drink, which was well-timed because the Anchor looked especially inviting, its Victorian architecture looking especially imposing in the snow. The road resembled a white field, no roads or pavements. All one. With the snow, the city seemed like was a festival. People walked into the roads freely cutting across the paths of the slowed vehicles which were navigating the treacherous snail trails that the ones before them had left behind. I took stock, rucksack on back, and the bag of pig’s ears in my left hand, staring at the clock, forever stuck at 9.25. Whether that had been in the morning, or whether in the night, I didn’t know. Could have frozen in a different snowfall years ago. Shivering, I went inside. Last night, so many people had huddled inside the snug to brave the cold, rainy weather, shoulder to shoulder, body to body, anoraks dripping with wet and sweat. The smell of ale ridden carpets and reconstituted air was an inviting smell, away from the cold wind outside. The air was damp and the air moist with condensation. Today, the barflys sat on their faded leather bar-stools, a distinct hint of buttocks and body odour gave the room an intriguing odour. I decided on a half pint of Dorset Piddle’s Thunderbox porter, 4.5%, the thick treacle-y liquid would prepare me for my journey. I trudged my way into the back bar, and outside into the smoking garden, which resembled a pubby wonderland. Trestle tables covered with snow, footprints that showed the brave who had been there earlier. Those brave, foolhardy warriors, flying the flag for nicotine in their staunch defiance. Those who had yellowed the pure white snow with their fag ends. I pressed the button for the heater on, still warm from the last fingers. My fingers were cold as I rooted around in my tobacco pouch for something nice to smoke. Clammy fingers rooting around in the pouch for a delicious hit. I raised the half pint of porter to the elements, in celebration of the day. I coughed metallically, and my chest felt like it was going to split in two. This wasn’t a problem, and my chest would heal itself in a moment. It certainly wasn’t going to spoil the day. A dew drop fell from my reddening nose and yellowed the snow along with the fag ends. My rosy cheeks hit were blooming red, possibly from the one-two punch of cold and rosacea. The porter slipped down perfectly, warming the blood. The electronic whirrs of the freezers in the kitchen revolved around my ears and mingled with the tinnitus that the delicious hit of what I was smoking had given me. Head now warm and overly fuzzy, I finished my drink, and venture back onto the street, back into the snow.
Bradford Street had been snowed over. The Perspex windows on the bus stop rattled, its knackered frame creaking in the wind. The wind has buffeted it beyond belief, and it swayed drunkenly in the still air. My eyes became dry and I blinked rapidly, causing a piece of sleep to fall onto my eyeball. My brain sent electrical pulses, making me see strobing effects across the roads, gradually alternating between fast and slow repetitions. As I blinked to try and get the sleep out, the strobes flickered stronger forming and forming again, until the sky became a mosaic, twisting and turning. I narrowed my eyes trying to catch the mosaic, to try and get it to reveal its true meaning. I held my breath, making my face turn red with the effort. The static raised from the bottom of my eyes and began to fill my entire vision, until a sharp gust of the wind made me sneeze….
- Upon which, something very strange happens. But i’m not going to give that away yet.
Listening to: The Wailers – Burnin’. Looking forward to the Marley documentary.