Tag Archive: recycling


Had he not insisted on the move she might have died.

Her garden had been everything to her but all they had at the new place was a small square of paved-over back yard with a potted plant and some creepers.

She wasn’t happy and she deeply resented him.

All attempts at communication had failed.

There was a lot of door-knocking: a daily pageant of young men with large hold-alls full of dusters and dish-mops; double glazing and home improvements salesmen in bad ties; matronly market researchers with clipboards; prospective burglars, gypsy rug sellers and roof repairers…

He particularly disliked the evangelists.

They would hit the street mob handed, middle aged men and women in hats and overcoats, even in the summer.

They’d never simply rap once and then go away, sometimes they’d loiter for hours, flipping through their bibles, chattering about God knew what, periodically rattling letterboxes and knocking.

He peered at them through a crack in the curtain.

There was one of each: regulation hats, overcoats and bibles, big white teeth and cavernous eyes full of spiritual luminosity.

The man rattled and knocked and said something he couldn’t quite catch.

The woman giggled.

His breathing grew intense.

They must have known he was home.

Big T and The Badda-Bings blared out of the stereo – The Girl From Ipanema – and at one point the man came right up close to the window and peered in.

He could smell her resentment all over the house.

In the living room, the kitchen cupboards and the fridge, in the dust on the bookshelves and between the pages of the books themselves.

It was especially pungent on the first floor landing around the closed door of her room. 

Something had to be done.

He gathered together a saw and a kitchen knife, a pair of secateurs, some black plastic sacks purchased from one of the hold-all men, a large wooden chopping board.

She looked up from her pillow as he entered, watched in silence as he got to work.

There was a lot of blood, he almost slipped over in it as he positioned himself to begin sawing through the neck.

The spinal cord was tough but finally he succeeded in detaching the head.

It was while he was debating whether to remove the arms in one piece or cut off the hands first that he noticed the ring.

The flesh had swollen around it and it wouldn’t budge.

He snipped off the finger with the secateurs.

Once the head and limbs had been removed the middle section was light enough to be carried through to the bathroom.

He placed it gently in the tub and slit open the stomach with the kitchen knife.

The contents spilled into the bath.

Then he opened up the chest cavity and began to remove the various organs, laying them carefully on the chopping board.

These he cut up into small chunks and flushed down the lavatory in servings of about half a pound in weight.

He then cut out the ribs one by one with the saw and quartered the torso, placing each piece into one of the sacks ready to be taken downstairs.

He boiled the head first, followed by the hands, feet and ribs, in a big, copper cooking pot.

Once cleaned of flesh the bones were separated into smaller fragments, mixed with some general domestic waste and sealed away in another sack to be disposed of by the council garbage men.

It was nearly daylight.

He was left with several large bones – a pair of femurs, shoulder blades, other arm and leg bones – on which some flesh still remained.

Feeling suddenly exhausted and, deciding it was time for a break, he poured himself a whisky.

As he did so he turned, sensing her presence in the doorway. She said nothing, just stared at him with that I told you so look of hers.

He shrugged.

“All right, all right, I know,” he sighed. “If only we had a garden….”

Have you noticed that the older you get the more dead acquaintances you collect? It’s a sign of maturity, I guess.

In my twenties I knew one dead guy. His name was Steve. Married a Welsh girl. Two years later he was dead. Was it the food, the Celtic temperament, the weird sex, the in-laws, the heroin? My guess is that all of those factors contributed but it was the opiate that knocked him over the edge.

Then there was John Begg. He died of AIDS when I was in my mid-thirties. I’d known him as a living person since childhood. We grew up in the same Scottish tenements.

Which reminds me, Steve wasn’t my first dead friend at all, that was John’s brother David, whom John murdered when they were kids. It was something to do with religion. Real Catholic shit. Neither of them stood a chance.

Their father, a degenerate gambler, tried to kill himself by getting drunk and going to sleep with the gas on. He failed of course: spent so much money on booze he didn’t have enough coins to keep the meter fed.

Anyway, John never forgave himself for murdering his brother. At Her Majesty’s Pleasure he became an amateur psychopath. Then when they finally let him out he went full time, became a petty gangster and heroin addict — AKA The Knife Man — and served a manslaughter stretch of 7 years, with the usual discount for good behaviour and an HIV positive blood test.

Dirty needles and a jail-house tattoo, that’s what did for Johnny boy.

Of course if I’m really picky the first dead person I ever knew was my paternal grandfather, who split before I was born and, to my knowledge, never took drugs (unless you include whisky in that category).

And then there was Mr Kinair, my English teacher, who died of syphilitic brain disease when I was struggling with my A Levels. The short sighted, selfish bastard just couldn’t stay away from naughty prostitutes. But he never took drugs (at least that’s what he told me).

But you know, I’m no peasant: included in my list of dead friends are a couple of rock stars.

Dead rock stars, don’t you just love them?

They take care of you through the difficult adolescent years and, just when you reach that disillusioned stage, you know, where you’re starting to doubt their validity as useful icons (growing up) they let you off the hook by dying, usually of heroin overdoses, alcohol or sex. Saints that they are.

My first was Billy Mackenzie, patron saint of the Warbling Romantics, voice of an angel on crystal meth, the man behind the Associates. We were brought up in the same town, only he didn’t come from the slums. We never met in our native environment but first crossed paths some years later in Kings Cross, London. I interviewed him for an article about Celtic New Romantic brats, which I was trying to pitch to the NME.

I told him: “No Billy, I’m not that way inclined, you know…” And he said: “Fuck it, never mind. Just give me a few lines out of that wrap and I’ll take you to a nice club I know.”

That was in the early 80’s. Come Christmas 1997 he was dead by his own hand.

I blame myself.

Perhaps if I’d shared my Charlie with him that night, instead of telling him to “f**k off I need this to get up and go to work in the morning”, he wouldn’t have gone out and scored some smack and gotten to like it so much that it eventually depressed him to the point of suicide.

Because that’s what heroin does for you.

My other dead rock star acquaintance was Stuart Adamson. I met him when I was ligging on Big Country’s first UK tour. Their chief roadie, who shall remain nameless, sold me one of Stuart’s guitars — a lovely black Gibson Les Paul — for a gram of good Bolivian and a Turkish hooker called Tanya…

Of course, Stuart was never a smack-head; he was just a piss-artist.


Image by Neal Domenico

Behind the promenade is the facade of the wounds that haunt you. A cut is forever. A broken bone signifies a difference of opinion. On a slight incline, veering off the esplanade, is an all night chemist. One could be in Golders Green but for the absence of tigers. Everybody dances. And no one hurts. It’s the sea air, makes you sleepy. Those wandering voices like child-scent. But you don’t blink for the cold on your skin, and the rag around your heart is a friendly pain.

So, I’m talking to God. I’ve been working all night on this serial-killer story and I start drinking black vodka at 10am. 

“Forgive me Father for I have sinned,” I tell him.

God shuffles his feet, adjusts his blanket, butters another slice of toast and replies in a perfectly reasonable tone:

“Tell me, son, without shame.” 

Well, of course, as you might imagine, I just fall apart and it all starts to flow:

“Oh, Father, I have opened my door to sentiment and hubris;

I have pimped and used the innocent and spoken ill of the dead;

I have insulted my friends and damned them as unworthy;

I have blasphemed and taken the word of Ford in vain;

I have cheated those to whom I owe tax and over-taxed those who owe tax to me;

I have pan-handled and swindled and hustled and wasted the fruits of my endeavours;

I have been unfaithful to my wife and blinded my eyes to her infidelities;

I have entertained wicked thoughts regarding my animals and have occasionally kicked the cat (affectionately);

I have no visible means of support and yet remain solvent in an arogantly upright and wickedly handsome manner;

I disrespect my natural talents and stubournly refuse to exploit them and…

last night I viewed an illegal copy of Borat ,that I didn’t even pay for, and fell asleep.

Oh, Father forgive me…”

And then I just collapse in a helpless heap and pray for a line of Coke, in tongues.

“Truly your sins are great, my son,” says God, “and so, therefore, must be your penance.”

“You mean?” I reply in horror.

“Yes. There is no other way. You must watch Borat again, and stay awake until the end credits!”

Too much! Too much!

I feel damned…

But by this time the bars are open, so I tell God to blow it out his ass.

A literary hit-man

I used to write scripts for Tommy (Fatboy) Devine. Tommy Devine is ugly. You want to know how ugly he is? I’ll tell you.

When he’s born (series one, episode two) the midwife, a twenty-eight year old gay word puzzle enthusiast from Ohio, threatens to assassinate his mother. When he sees the kid he just falls apart; it’s like he takes it personally, you know? Like little Tommy has rained on his parade and it’s the mother’s fault.

“How could you do this?” he pleads. “I mean, how?” He tosses his face mask and surgical gloves to the floor with a theatrical flourish. “I mean, at some point during the last nine months… well, you must have had some idea. Surely you couldn’t have carried that around and not known, suspected even…? Couldn’t you have done the decent thing?”

The mother, a giant hover-fly, passes out. Her wings collapse, creating a huge draught, which blows the anaesthetist off his feet and scatters instruments, swabs, wipes, anything that isn’t tied down, all over the room.

“Ho hum,” sighs the midwife. “You chase a horse and you catch a dog. Story of my life.”

Tommy plays all the parts, it’s Fatboy world: every character in every show looks like some version of Tommy.

That first script earns Jonny Hilltown — a.k.a. my good self — a personal assistant called Dragona Hartley. Dragona believes in absolutes and, like Tommy, she likes to generalize.

Did you know that gangsters use the word “f**k” more than any other, with the possible exceptions of “money” and “no”? That gangsters in the main don’t have what you might call a good command of the English language (the same can be said of comedians)?

“You know why?” asks Fatboy. “I’ll tell you why,” breathing cigar smoke and garlic all over my new wool suit. “It’s because they’re all spiritual Italians and Greeks. Ok, some of them really are Italians and Greeks. But the ones that ain’t, actually are, in that spiritual sense. You get me? It’s that cultural thing about body language that the spiritual Italians and the spiritual Greeks share with the Italians from Italy and the Greeks from Greece: the hand gestures and stuff. It’s the same with accountants: spiritually they’re all Jewish.”

Then his eyes narrow, his head tilts to one side and he looks me square in the face:

“You want to know something about writers? I’ll tell you about writers. All writers drink in the afternoon. Did you know that? All writers are spiritual drunks – even the ones that don’t drink.”

Waiting too long for somebody in a crap bar is an absolute pain in the arse. I’ve been doing it all my life.

“I don’t believe in absolutes,” she says. She has the makings of a movie hitman’s mustache. I decide to call her Mustache Petronella, but not to her face.

“Don’t killers believe in absolutes?” I ask.

“You think death is an absolute?” She flicks her cigarette so the ash just misses the ashtray. I can’t help thinking this is a deliberate act.

“If the act of causing it is a deliberate move, with intent, with extreme prejudice, then I think it is, absolutely,” I tell her. Then I go to the washroom, where an accomplice has previously hidden an unregistered lap-top behind a cistern.

I come out typing.

But she is gone; in her place sits Nico, with the lithe body and the smooth-skin-high-cheek-boned-oriental look. He’s a static boy from the other side of Snake River who loves his knives and his brothers. He talks lingwo, spits out words and phrases like bursts from a MAC10.

I get straight to the point: “What about the kid?”

“Yeah, always knew him. We grew up knowing each other. Went to school together. All that thing.” His eyes never meet mine while he talks; only in the pauses.

“Then why did he die?”

“Because his name come up! It’s easy to get blowed. Word is he got mixed up in this Muslim Boy thing, did something that doubled back on his people. Maybe it was meant, maybe it wasn’t, maybe didn’t even know what he done. I don’t know. Anyway it doesn’t matter, it’s happened… he’s gone and that’s it and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. They killed him, shot him in his mouth and throat. Tomorrow it could be me or you.”

I don’t write scripts for Tommy Devine any more.

I’ve renovated my “About” page

Check it out ——–>>>>>>>>>>>> (on the top bar).

He’s going — but when?

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair made it clear in a statement today that he will resign within the year; He stubbornly refuses, however, to set a date.

Is it good enough?

Will it be soon enough?

I don’t think so and, if the above picture tells a story, nor does possible successor Gordon Brown.

Click here for video coverage.

For those of you who don’t like clicking here’s the full statement, courtesy of Reuters:

“The first thing I’d like to do is apologise actually on behalf of the Labour Party for the last week, which with everything that is going on back here and in the world, has not been our finest hour, to be frank.

“I think what is important now is that we understand that it’s the interests of the country that come first and we move on.

“Now as for my timing and date of departure, I would have preferred to do this in my own way but as has been pretty obvious from what many of my cabinet colleagues have said earlier in the week, the next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader.

“The next TUC (Trades Union Congress) next week will be my last TUC, probably to the relief of both of us.

“But I’m not going to set a precise date now, I don’t think that’s right. I will do that at a future date and I’ll do it in the interests of the country and depending on the circumstances of the time.

“That doesn’t in any way take away from the fact that this is my last conference but I think the precise timetable has to be left up to me and to be done in the proper way.

“I also want to say one other thing after the last week. I think it’s important for the Labour Party to understand and I think the majority of the people in the party do understand that it’s the public that comes first and it’s the country that matters.

“We can’t treat the public as irrelevant bystanders in a subject as important as who is their prime minister so we should just bear that in mind in the way that we conduct ourselves in the time to come.

“And in the meantime I think it’s important that we get on with the business. I was at a primary school earlier, fantastic new buildings, great new IT suite, school results are improving. I’m here at this school that just in the last few years has come on by leaps and bounds, doing fantastically well.

“We’ve got the blockade on the Lebanon lifted today. There are important things going on in the world and I think I speak for all my cabinet colleagues when I say that we would prefer to get on with those things because those are the things that really matter to the country. So as I say it’s been a somewhat difficult week but I think it’s time now to move on and I think we will.”

So, now it’s official: language squirms.

Bug Brother is watching you

 The other day I blogged a report on the roll-out of a secret spy camera network in Scotland.

Today in the Times I find out that the government is bugging our garbage.

Radio frequency tags, containing chips with identifying serial numbers, have been secretly fitted beneath the lids of wheelie-bins in parts of Cheshire, Cambridge, Norfolk and Surrey.

Council spokespersons say that the bugs are designed to help them monitor waste disposal and settle ownership disputes over bins.

Excuse me?

When was the last time your bin was stolen? Have you ever been accused of misappropriating someone else’s?

Click for the story.

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