Once upon a time our pure and shining hero opened his untainted eyes,
yawned and stretched his glistening body and wondered aloud, as he often
"Hmm, I wonder if I ought to go and save humanity from the indestructible
forces of evil?"
And so, climbing into his gleaming silver battle cruiser, he set out, thrusting
across cool blue heavens into the gem studded darkness beyond. I can almost see
him from my train window, his Colgate smile twinkling from across the heavens,
his golden, blow-dried, windswept, sun-kissed hair, his azure eyes piercing our
The King was alone again. But at least he was still King of everything he surveyed;
of his infinite, crumbling, deserted castle. King of the long dark corridors,
master of his own echoes, lord of the vast cavernous kitchen, the cold ashes
in the hearth, the starving mice, the hollow empty rooms, the dust on the beds
and moths in the cupboards, the fading pages of forgotten unopened books dying
in the airless library. King of his great fading soulless garden, his towering
castle walls and beyond that of a land that stretched as far as the eye could
see, of a sprawling barren lonely kingdom that was completely and utterly empty.
King of the brief minutes of sunlight and hours drowned in night and King of
the infinite chasm of silence into which he now fell.
Marion drove the electrics on the Liverpool to Wigan line, but, on that hot afternoon
she decided to walk, and proceeded off the end of the platform and disappeared
into the tunnel.
In the claustrophobic smoke infested air of an insalubrious underground cavern;
a stagnating interstellar fantasy cut halfway between the celluloid reality of
Star Wars and Blade Runner; I watch Jabba the Hut leer at a delicate milk-skinned
maiden, warm and fragrant as the first rose of summer, spouting sticky nefarious
sweet nothings in her precious porcelain ear. His supine, flaccid grey flesh,
oozing and quivering beneath a stretched tight shirt, glistening pink as her
young lips in the cascade of crimson neon erupting from behind a bar offering
three kinds of liquor, or was it four, no matter, I was buying for someone who
doesn't drink. Then I missed the train again, by 15 seconds. It was academic,
really, the size of the increasing wedge of time that now separated me from my
destiny, but it was less than 15 seconds at the start.
Once upon a time a King visited a Cook and asked:
"Can you make me some time, the time of youth, and a container to keep it
The Cook said no she could not make time for she needed time to help her cook
and if she had to make the time before she began to cook nothing would ever finish
cooking and everybody would go hungry. Perhaps, she suggested sensibly, he should
ask the winder and watcher of clocks who always seemed to have an answer for
So the King was again left alone with his thoughts. Alone to wander the empty
valleys and speak to the cold moon. On moonless nights he would climb up to the
top of the highest hill to lay on the cool earth and imagine he could fly amongst
the flickering stars. He wandered for many days and nights, the days turned to
weeks, weeks to months, months to years and soon he lost all track of time. His
life in the wilderness could have been one day or ten years, he could hardly
form a memory of his world before he began searching, a swollen ocean of time
would sweep around him and he feared drowning, and at other times it seemed to
him he had been there only a minute. He wondered why he was here in this forsaken
place, where had he come from? Was there another place? He had long since forgotten,
all he had left were the silent questions. Yet he kept searching.
The screen pulses, fades, sparks into life, murmurs softly, words flicker into
being, flow across my reflection and, to a place beyond reckoning, I map their
soundless voyage, spellbound in the rhythm.
Like Miss Haversham's Wedding, they skirted around the rooms that stank of the
ritual and grandeur of another era, rooms that echoed with countless questions
of other lives, that murmured long departed voices. These were secret places
that struggled against the movement of the clock, disconnected from the world.
Seldom did they ever venture into the library that was a panelled oak door and
giant window to peer in on threadbare tapestry drapes, framing the pregnant darkness.
Then, devoid of the weight of paper, ink, leather and cloth, the words that made
it so, the flickering ghosts of past occupants faded and were no more as the
hour turned and the vast body of words dissolved.
The face lifter came today, and lifted a few faces. He'll be back again tomorrow,
with the spare parts, to ensure a perfect fit.
She was staring into the abyss. Sitting on the edge dangling her feet over the
blackness, quite contented and self-absorbed, she might have been sitting by
a swimming pool on a balmy summer's evening, seduced by the unrelenting blackness
as if mesmerised by sunlight on water. She felt quite at home here, on the edge
of oblivion. She was pondering on whether to stand up or jump down, she kind
of knew she would eventually rise and walk away, that was inevitable, and that's
what made it safe to stay for just a bit longer.
Once upon a time, in the beginning, whilst still a young lass in the spring of
her life, filled with the indestructible optimism of youth and the spirit of
adventure, a smile in her heart and daisies in her obligatory pre -Raphelite
hair, the Queen had been betrothed to the King. But she soon tired of his grumpy
moods and feeling her youthful sparkle fading had decided to go away for a while
and think it all over. She was still, after all, in the heady, crazy days of
her youth. So when the King told her, on a fine frosty winter's morning, to take
a long walk over the edge of the world she turned on her steel heels and marched
off, she was not sad to leave.
He remembered when they went to see a side-show: "Woman Swims with Giant
Sharks". And sat on one side of a parked lorry, the side lifted up to form
a canopy revealing a small tank. In the damp chill of a Scottish Christmas they
peered in morbid fascination through the semi-darkness at sedated sluggish creatures
wallowing in their cramped synthetic blue sea, as she swam up and down. Her white
goose pimpled flesh quivering under the lights. It wasn't what he had expected
of Boxing Day as he'd wandered aimlessly trying to circumvent the festivities.
Our train burrows through the other side of night and it is dawn. As the days
roll towards us, dragging seasons and years in their wake, I'm colliding with
my own destiny and I've missed the bus, missed the train, it's too late for all
that, too late for wrinkle creams and pension plans, the last course has arrived
and I forgot to order coffee and mint.