Archive | January, 2014


31 Jan


On the other side of the ocean, in a country I like to call my own, rests a man quite still and at peace. Mourned by family and friends in a room filled with empty tea cups, half-eaten sandwiches, and hushed conversation. Where soft tissue dabs at cruel tears and laughter ripples to fond remembrance. Murmured voices change painful subjects, as the subject himself listens with deaf ears. Gone the worries, the pains and complaints, gone the insurmountable stairs.

Larger than life, a man who greedily lived his own ten times over, now lies compacted and crated in pine. A colossus who bestrode the world, shielded family and defended Empire, now resigned to a cold churchyard plot. Final prayers and sad farewells – forced to endure the poignant tone of Last Post and the whisper of unfurling flags.

Now we talk of the man in the past tense when only yesterday we were complaining bitterly in the present. The sacrifice required of loved ones who can barely take care of themselves let alone care for the sick and infirm. How if onlys  and what ifs were replaced with adequate facilities and shorter hospital waiting lists – wishes that would enable beggars to ride. Those concerns are gone now, replaced with funeral arrangements and time tables, telephone calls and whispered voices. What’s best for Jack? What would Jack want that’s best for us? A man available to all, now fitting his after-life into our busy schedules.

Not exactly a knight on a white steed, more a welcome flat-capped face on a squeaking, rusting, bicycle. Scalded for dirty boots and errant household ways he’d endure the wrath of marital bliss, accepting blame for things he hadn’t done. If the Japs couldn’t get him what chance did his wife and kids have of scratching that tough exterior? An armor plated veteran in slippers and a cardigan, the epitome of Englishness, a son of Yorkshire – an inspiration to us all.

Grandfather, uncle, husband, father and friend – a man who answered to many names. A multitasking genius and juggler of renown; a Jack of all trades, who’d seen it, been it and bought the holiday home. A man who could weave a tale like no other, talk the hind legs off a donkey and yet there were some stories he wouldn’t tell. Stories alluded to by the blue-black ink on shrapneled hands that would remain with him forever. Briefly shared but never explained, an outburst of emotion and a flood of tears – a softer side to a man of steel.

Gone but not forgotten. Nature abhors a vacuum but the space he occupied will be hard to fill. The house will hold him forever and our  hearts are fuller for having known him. The empty chair by the television, chocolate bars in the fridge, and the myriad pill bottles he refused to open.

“Bloody doctors, what do they know anyway?” What did they know about healing a man broken on the inside? What did they know about plugging a heart the size of a planet? Advice taken but wisely ignored.

A soldier who’s gone on to greater things – standing to attention in Elysium’s pantheon. No longer in a world carved by bullet and bomb, but one turfed and flowered, treed and hedged. A place fit for heroes and dead grandfathers. A warm welcome from comrades passed. A seat by the home fire and a welcome brew. Now he can rest that pack and throw down the rifle that needs never be fired again.

“What took you so long Jack? We’ve been waiting for you forever!”

“I was busy lads. Stuff to do and family to look after you know…Can’t just run away and leave it for others now, can you?”

Knowing smiles and nudges.

Aye, that’s the Jack they remembered. Bloody hero is our Jack.

Don’t hear that much in these days of reality drivel, where a man stands out for his qualities rather than the way he looks in name-branded shoes on the front page of some random gossip magazine.

A man’s man, a woman’s man, a family man. A man to be remembered and to emulate.

Dear Jack. I’ve dried my tears and mended my heart however, the hole you’ve created in a life a thousand miles from where you lie will be hard to fill. The red barrier tape and flashing lights that surround the crater you have left will serve as memorial, where the very depth of memory echoes in the pitch blackness of our recent loss.

Memories of a man who cried upon arrivals and goodbyes, who held one transfixed with his one good eye.

I love you Jack.

Goodnight sweet Prince.


28 Jan




In the manner of Mr. Cooper-Clarke


It’s hard to forget, it burns like bleach in your mind. The solitary love experienced with your dad’s spank-mags, which you just can’t seem to find. No matter how hard you look or how hard you try, it’s the memory of those dirty, nasty, filthy, delicious, books that puts lead in your pencil and a gleam in your eye.

It was a Friday night disco where he spied her first; six lager-shandies and still dying of thirst, in the village hall, with fresh, shaved legs and shower-washed scent, a catalogue princess, on that strobed-striped-sticky dance floor, a smoke-shadowed-seductress with lascivious intent.

Thirteen weeks of one-pound ten before she’d get her mum’s permission to order from Gratan’s again. But worth the wait to look that good – spaghetti straps, stripper heels, knickerless – the belle of the ball, the light of her daddy’s eye, the bauble of the neighborhood.

The focus of every wet dreamer, a wankers delight, one more from the bar and he just might, ask her for her phone number, where did she live? Hoping she wanted it as much as he fucking did. A cock-tease apprentice and consummate liar, the object of morning glory and spotted puss-filled teenage desire. With a look you only see in fingered, dog-eared Spanish-holiday brochures, watching her dance around handbags, with her pathetic always-there mates, while you imagined her yours.

An exchange of numbers and a promise of more; fond, clinging, groping, farewells as you’re pushed out the door. Bodily fluids, sweating palms and the pain of crushed cherry flavoured lips. Sticky fingers and a private to be revisited at some moment in the future as-yet-to-be-ascertained memory digested with the acid taste of village-bought fish and chips.

“Five pound fifty pence, with V.A.T. at twenty percent, mushy peas and scraps. Thank you very much!”

Fortune was smiling and the living was easy, the soppiness of first love, valentines and heart-shaped crap-chocolate making him queasy. Promises of forever easily spoke with silver-lined, down-filled, pillow-top intimacies ultimately broke. The matching tattoos that were supposed to indelibly tether, and all that which was sworn over pints and shared smoky-bacon crisps couldn’t keep them together.


Living it large and smelling of roses, thanks to liberal doses, of the flatulence of change and the antiperspirant of fate.

She’s all you’ve ever wanted but she’s fucking your mate.

She’s breaking your heart ‘cos she’s fucking your mate.

You’ll break her bleeding neck ‘cos she’s fucking your mate.