Category Archives: College

The birds

Written as an exercise for a course. We were asked to turn the radio on and write about the first thing we heard. For me, it was rising mortgage costs.


 

 

At least the birds are happy. Neil focussed on that thought every morning. Concentrated so hard that he would squint and when he’d thought hard enough, he would get up and continue his journey.

It had been over three months since he’d left his home and started to walk. He’d kept a journal to begin with, but his book soon ran out of batteries. It was that sort of thing that had irked Neil at the start, but now he’d just let it slide down his back and into the dirt. Ah, the dirt – that was something else he’d gotten used to rather quickly. When being told the bank were taking your home, what remained of your savings and leaving you with just the shirt on your back and the tattoo above your butt, the dirt was the least of your worries.

His feet had stopped hurting a few weeks back. That must have been the pain barrier they tell you to go through, he thought. They’d not hurt since. Rather, they’d not stopped hurting since. The relentless agony giving no respite. No respite meant he’d forgotten what it felt like to not be suffering and therefore the excruciating pain had just become the norm.

Having given thought to this for the first time in a few weeks, Neil winced. He winced twice more as he put weight upon his weary legs and hoisted himself up.

Neil ran a gloved hand over his scraggy beard. He’d never been the type to sport facial hair before, but the new lifestyle almost demanded it. “Hobo-chic” he mused as he bent down to collect his torn and filth-stained rucksack.

He looked up. Rain clouds were forming overhead and from the sound of the school-run it wasn’t even 9 o’clock yet. He could tell it was going to be a long walk today.

Still, at least the birds were happy.

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Offside

“Spurs v Liverpool?”

“Do it.” – “Wait. Versus or co-op?”

“Co-op.”

“Co-op.” “Wait.”

“What now?”

“Online or against the computer?”

“Good call. Er… Shall we take the good fight online?”

“Fuck yeah.”

Frank picked up the xbox controller and started flicking through the game’s menu screen.

“Beer?”

“Sure, dude, help yourself whilst I get us set up”.

Ash climbed out of the faded brown leather beanbag with a loud “ooof”, accompanied by the now far too familiar sound of cracking knees.

“was that your back?”

“Knees. Seriously, Franky, when are you going to spring for some fucking furniture?”

“I have furniture”, Frank replied not looking away from the TV.

“You have a chair. YOUR chair”.

“It’s a good chair.”

“It is, but as I point out, it’s YOUR chair. Your only chair. It’s the only seat in the house”.

“There’s one upstairs”.

As Ash walked to the kitchen he called back, “That’s a toilet. It really doesn’t count”.

The dark oak floor creaked in sympathy with Ash’s knees as he padded through to the kitchen. Cookery books stood with unbroken spines on the worktop, book ended by an open, empty bread bin and an open, empty bottle of dark rum. On one wall a CD cover and disc, floating in an  oversized rustic wooden frame took pride of place.

The album, entitled Windmills was by Sweet FA. A younger, thinner Frank stood side by side with 3 other long haired, fully bearded musicians against the backdrop of a beach at dusk. It always annoyed Ash that no windmills could be seen on the front cover; a point he always mentioned to Frank every time he saw it.

“We’re all set. I chose Liverpool in the end.” Frank said, as Ash crept back into the room.

“You have chosen wisely” Ash handed over the opened beer as if to reward. “Have you…”

“Yes, you spent so long out there I’ve already tinkered”.

“Good man. What are you waiting for? Punch it, Chewy!”

Frank selected ‘Find a Game’ and took a sip from his cold beer as the FIFA menus went about finding an opponent. Soon the loading screen made way for the big match reveal. Liverpool versus….  Tottenham Hotspur.

“ha ha ha, nice one” Ash picked up his pad as Frank begrudgingly selected OK.

“Shit it. I hate playing against my own team.”

“ha! No one likes it. Suck it up. Let’s gas these Jew bastards!”

“Dude!”

“What?”

“It’s like… every single time.”

“What is?”

“The chanelling of Adolf every time you play against Spurs. Do you not think it’s slightly racist? In fact, can you even be slightly racist?” Frank stopped to think about what he was saying.

“I… Christ, mate, I was only having a laugh..”

Frank turned to look at Ash, a look somewhere between confusion and resentment embedding itself within the furrows of his brow.

“Look, mate, I’m not saying you are a racist but you do sometimes come out with comments that could tumble straight from the mouths of Jeff, Cecil and ‘arry the Viking.”

“The dominos players from the Working Man’s Club? Do you know, Jeff once swallowed a pool ball as a bet. Legend.”

“Well yeah he is, they are, but they’re from a different time. Their views of the world are somewhat colourful at best.”

Ash cocked his head slightly to one side, “or not, as the case maybe”, he added.

A chorus of cheers erupted. At first Ash assumed he’d somehow been warped into a sit-com of his life, his witty line being met with rapturous applause before realising the TV was showing the animated Spurs players all dancing around the scorer. 1 nil.

“Bollocks! When did this kick-off?” Frank grabbed the pad.

“So you think I’m slightly racist?” asked Ash as he slid a pass into the feet of the stampeding, Frank. Frank continued his run down the right wing, “Great pass.” he said as he jinked past one, then another, his shoulders dipping subtly first to the left, then to the right.

“No. I don’t know. That’s my point I guess. Can you even be “slightly racist”?” He crossed the ball high into the air as Ash rose from his seat, craning his neck as his head came to meet it. A thundering header into the bottom left corner of the goal played out in front of him.

“and that’s how you…” Ash’s victory swagger was interrupted by a whistle. OFFSIDE flashed across the screen, cutting the celebrations short.

Frank held a hand up to the screen as the replay showed the decision in slow motion, “Ah come on, that was so definitely ON.”

“hmm, slightly offside I guess”, Ash offered reluctantly.

Frank turned to face the man-child sinking in the beanbag. “You can’t be slightly offside, you either are, or you aren’t. It’s black or white. Onside. Offside. There are no shades of grey here.”

“I dunno, remember that streaker we saw a few years back? There was definitely a touch of Shades of Grey about that. What were those marks on his back?” Ash digressed.

“So are we saying,” Ash thought for a moment before finishing his sentence, “that being offside is a bit like being a racist?”

Frank pondered this for a moment. He took a glug of the cold beer and wiped the remains from his hobo beard on to the back of his hand. “I think we are, yes.” Ash took a swig from his bottle and nodded in agreement as he let Frank continue.

“in so much that they are both black or white things. And before you say it, don’t.” Ash was already halfway through raising an eyebrow. “You either are, or you’re not.” Frank concluded.

“A bit like missing a train?” offered Ash. “Exactly!” Frank nodded, “it doesn’t matter if you’ve missed it by 5 minutes or 5 seconds. You’ve missed it. Everything in-between is just incidental.”

The fact that this debate was suddenly turning into somewhat of a character assassination was starting to bother Ash, “That’s all well and good, but I’m really not a racialist. Some of my best friends know someone that knew somebody that met this girl that once shared a kebab with a, you know, a coloured chap.” he said with a cheeky smile.

Frank laughed, “yeah, ok I know you’re not but the things you say are, and I guess therein lies the difference. You’re a smart dude, dude. I know you. You don’t harbour desires to see anyone suffer, and as far as I know you don’t say anything with venom, which leaves only one other reason…”

“Go on” urged, Ash.

“Well as far as I can see, you can certainly live your life without having to say those sort of things for what appears to be nothing more than a cheap laugh.”

Ash feigned a hurt look, “ahh, cheap laughs? Low blow, man. Low blow. Sammy thinks I’m the funniest bastard this side of Staines.”

Frank looked Ash square in the eyes. His stare was unblinking and delivered with all the emotion of an unfolded ironing board. “Sammy supports Arsenal.”

“That,” replied Frank, “is a fair point.”

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Sunday

From college this week. Set a scene at someone’s house just before they come home. 100 words.

The Sport

The creaky, cracked, black, faux leather sofa was where he kept it. Always the left hand side and never the right. Sometimes it was under the heavy seat cushion but today only a handful of grey fluff and a 5 pence piece was to be found. This was placed carefully on the  heavily polished “not-quite-pine” pine coffee table. The polish unable, it seemed, to shift the decades old coffee ring.

My hand reached under the sofa and into hiding place number two. My palm rubbed against the faded red carpet. My finger tips brushed against the cheap newspaper. The sound of a key clanked into the lock and turned.

“We’re back….”

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What’s in the box?

Another quick shot at the 2nd person perspective.

 

You should have been kinder at the time, ya know. There really was no need to act the way you did for the last 23 years especially now you’re revealing all these so-called feelings to so many people. How many did you invite in the end? It sounds like a good 40-50 out there.

Oh great, now you’re crying. For fuck sake, anyone would think you really did care. WHY. DIDN’T. YOU. SHOW. IT. BEFORE!?

Is that… Is that James blunt? You didn’t… Surely you didn’t.. Oh Christ It IS James Blunt. You utter, utter, bastard.

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How do you do?

Following on from the last class discussing the importance of Point of View, this week we looked at 3rd person and in more detail, 2nd person. Something I’ve never really thought about in great detail but have used quite a bit already. To nail it 100% the idea was to not include mes, myor Is. (I didn’t click on to that at first).

Our first exercise was to write a love story to the one you love in the 2nd person using 100 words.

How do you do?

How does that song go? You know the one. “How do you do what you do to me? I wish I knew. “Well… How DO you do the things you do to me? Because if I knew, I truly would do them to you. Maybe I do, but if you think about it, you rarely let me know.

Do you remember that time you wouldn’t let me see you first thing in the morning? You said “not without at least brushing my hair”, you got out from the bed and you ran to the bathroom. When you came back you had perfect hair, perfect skin and the breath of a toothpaste tester. You didn’t see me catch you in the mirror as you fled. With your scruffy hair and naked body.
In that fleeting moment, you already looked perfect to me.

 

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