Playing with Time

“Rearing food for a good start. Sera Raffy Baby-Gran is the rearing food consisting of a carefully manufactured granules (sic) for young carnivorous reptiles such as small terrapins”

Then back.

He unreads it. Eyes saccading right to left. Word forgetting. Synapses disconnecting. Ideas leaving his brain-mind. He puts the container back on the shelf and begins to move backwards down the aisle of the pet food store. Slow. Not looking where he is going, yet confident, without being so, that there is no-one behind him. Not seeing. A strange sense of knowing.

His arm reaches out towards the trolley and a blanket rises towards it. Hand grips and arm withdraws clutching the object.

Are you bored? Is this like watching reversed videos on YouTube? Better this than making food from the mouth *the author thinks* and better by far than a description of the trick performed at the other end of the alimentary canal.

He brings the blanket close to his face and huffs down his nose towards it. Expelling the lavender-fresh scent. Reject that thing. Put it back on the shelf. He does. Who’d want a dog to be lying on something as fragrant as that!

Time speeds. Fast-backwards. Trotting down the aisles in that confident, never looking manner; popping things back on the shelves. No money to be got from these good deeds. The real wage-earners will come along sooner, remove those boxes from the shelves, seal them up and load them into the warehouse out back; waiting for the big trucks to take them away.

Lorries swooshing backwards down the highways as terrifying speeds considering that no-one’s looking where they’re going, aside from a quick glance in the mirror every now and again. No fear to be had when collisions reverse.

People lie on the roads for a while and then, without warning, hurl themselves from the asphalt and thread themselves neatly through a convenient hole in the windshield of some nearby car. The hole seals itself magically. Mangled cars spring apart and become whole, like mad Transformers twisting in the air.

Darkness rises and falls. The sun performs its usual trick. Only life notices the difference. Only minds care. And even then, they don’t. Man, along with all the other critters, is a habit formed from the usual thing happening over and over. Flip the switch. Reverse the direction. It doesn’t matter.

When time reverses, so does the mind. It’s all embedded. No-one notices. Except maybe a watcher from afar. Snorting down whatever passes for a nose it taps or clicks or pushes a button or switch or icon and … and what? Gravity reverses? We fly off into space along with our houses, cars and Amazon Echo, still boxed because it’s new and fangled and …

All of the things we take as given. Everything we rely on. It all ends. Or begins. And not necessarily in that order. Give it all up. Move to the moon and take everything with you. Try explaining freedom to rocks.


God Masquerading as Man

I see it all from up here. There’s a peculiar satisfaction involved in having a …

The void, the void. It is calling me from behind the curtain. I will never see …

Leaving the real and entering the unreal, I scream like the newborn baby I …

I am God. I exist in a realm that is beyond the physical. I can’t be typing thi …

Oh, for frick’s sake get on with it, Robert. Yeah, yeah, you’re trying to write from an omniscient point of view; we get that. Just move the story on now.

Gilbert (no, that’s a pebble). Gavin (no, old friend). Grant (porn star). Garrett (too long). Gabriel (too hard to spell). Gus (too short). Glen. Yeah, Glen. Glen. Damn it, what was Glen doing? I forget now. Let’s have a look. Oh yes, that was it. Start again.

Glen was getting younger by the second. *bosh* Glen will get younger by the second. And by the minute and day and *okay, we get the message* Glen was will be ageing backwards. Glen will be younging. Glen will become a baby and slip back into *ewww!* Glen had his last minute at the start. A quickening of his heart *accidental rhyme alert* breath and a jerk *jerk?* spasm and he became alive.

It was actually quite funny to see it from up here because we don’t really have time here. I mean, we know about it. But we don’t have it. Everything happens all at once. There is only one once and it happens all the time. Erm. Well, you know what I mean. It’s a good job that I’m all the omnis, otherwise I’d have a heck of a time (yeah, I picked up that phrase from watching y’all) keeping up with everything.

Anyway; funny why? Well, it’s one of those … hold on, there’s someone at the door.

Ha. I fooled you! There are no doors here. I just fancied a break. You know this is really difficult to do. There’s no such thing as time so I don’t need a break and I can’t type because I have no fingers and even if I did, we don’t got laptops here either. And all these affectations and syllogistic quirks I affect don’t mean squat to me because … well, they just don’t.

And hey, have you noticed how often I’m using the word ‘don’t’ (there it goes again)? What’s that all about!

So this is how it’s working. I have a stooge (a subordinate used by another to do unpleasant routine work). He’s called Robert, and he thinks that he’s the one typing this piece of work (and what a piece of work (a person of a specified kind, especially an unpleasant one) it is (okay, that didn’t work very well, but what can you do. I’m aiming for a mix of authenticity and unreliable here, folks; have a heart)).

Anyway; the stooge. He’s there (here) tapping away on a keyboard thinking that he’s writing experimental fiction. Little does …


Well, that’s my 500 words done. Have a nice day.

An Evocation of Real Time

The story of life in around 500 words:

Hitting Rock Bottom? Nah. I’m going to avoid rocks. Not going to say anything about them. Not going to listen to the vagaries of subconscious or unconscious. I’m even going to ignore my own, personal genius. I’m going to leave it to chance. A spreadsheet that generates 10 numbers and then converts them to letters (1=a, 2=b, 3=c) then pairs them to give five two-letter combinations to type into Google. The five words that emerge are the ones I’m going to write about. See, there ain’t no way I can possibly hit those rocks.

Falling in Love is like writing words. One by one as they fall from my mind into my fingers through the keyboard into the screen onto the internet into your eyes, brain and mind. You have entered my words and fallen in love with what I am made of.

Getting Your Heart Broken For The First Time is like wrapping yourself around a razor-blade, even if one single drop of blood is shed. I lick it from my finger, take that drop into my mouth and then swallow it. Does this mean that I’m no longer be a vegetarian? Am I a cannibal?!

Realizing What You Are Passionate About is easy. For me, it’s understanding. I’m stuck on a slogan from the 25th of September 2011, which reads “Time is money, money is the root of all evil and knowledge is power. Therefore procrastination is the key to world peace.” I’m waiting until I understand this before I tear it off.

Getting Fired From Your Job For The First Time shouldn’t be funny, but for me it was. It had to be. I’d promised my boss that it would be funny. Why that promise was more important than keeping my job is something else that I’d like to understand.

Getting The Job of Your Dreams is like finding salt in a sachet labelled ‘salt’. This needs explaining. Okay. Salt comes in little packets from MacDonald’s or M&S or other places you get hot fries. I’ll explain why this relates to the-job-of-your-dreams some other time.

Losing A Close Friend is impossible these days. Sat-navs, GPS and the ubiquity of Smartphones. Well, duh!

Getting Married starts with a plateau that has collected a courting couple of mountain and small animals that wander here and there according to how I shove them. They’re going to wander off to the oasis soon because my arm is going to sweep across like a sirocco, readying the plain for visitation, to wit crisps, oranges, sandwiches and a Nakd bar. Do you take this food to become your …

Becoming a Parent of a child is like taking delivery of a salad. The parallels are obvious – both become compost. Every metaphor breaks down sooner or later.

Buying Your First Home begins and ends with cold and dark. Don’t ask me how. Just take it on faith.
Cold: Hello my friend.
Dark: What do you mean ‘hello’! We’ve never been apart!
Cold: Stupido; of course we’ve been apart! Think of summer and darkness. Think of cold days.
Dark: Think of leaving this house, my friend.
Cold: Why?
Dark: Because you will.

This was an exercise in concision. I edited 2,380 words down to 531. I started with external detail journal (part one of four)external detail journal (part two of four)external detail journal (part three of four) and external detail journal (part four of four).

Imago / Michael (the uses of tense)

You don’t need to bother about bothering me, matey. I’m not going to give you any money. Ask me for some small change and I’m just going to smile and say ‘no thanks’. I mean, thanks for giving me the opportunity to fund your drink and drug habit, but ‘no thanks’.

I see all these signs saying support the homeless and good meaning people rattling buckets at me, but when are they going to start supporting me back. Life is all about give-and-take, not take, take, take. You give me something and I’ll give you something back; quid pro quo, as the Romans used to say. I don’t hold with freeloaders. I just don’t. An honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. And what you’re doing is neither honest or work.

I done my bit. I done my day’s work and I gets my money from it and then I gets my house and comforts and my little bit of luxury if I fancies it and that’s alright; because I earned it. It’s my due. But if I give you money for nothing then what are you going to say when you’re asked to give an account at the end? That you scrounged all your life and did nothing for it? Nah, mate; I’d be doing you a disfavour if I did that to you. You’d be losing points in the great accounting hall in the sky; and I just wouldn’t want to do that to you. So that’s why I’ve decided to give you a chance to earn your dosh.

This is how it’ll work. You tell me all about your life, and I’ll type it all up and make it into a booklet for you. I’ll even take a photo and put it on the front so that people’ll recognise you and know that it’s all about you. You can call it what you want: My Life on the Streets, or How I Got to the Streets, or Why I Do What I Do, or whatever; you choose. What do I get for it? For all my hard work typing and formatting and printing and binding? Well, I figure that if I give you the copies for free and then I get the right to make copies, then that makes us about even.

And then, if I put your life together with the lives of other homeless people, then I can make a book out of it and stick it on Amazon or something. And yeah, I might make a few bob out of it, but you’ll be making money hand over foot at the same time with your own story. It’ll be a win-win thing, right? That way, the karmic accounts all balance out and we’ll all be happy when we meet the accountant in the sky.

And if the book sells shed-loads, then maybe people’ll come and want to talk to you and maybe put a few extra quid in your hat. I mean, you’ll be famous. You can sign your little booklet and sell it for double the value. It’ll be a collector’s item. Folk’ll want to collect the set. Sounds good, right?


This is all connected to anything you see on this blog about Michael or Imago. Go search – you might find something interesting. 

Michael / Imago (Intro to Middle Scenes)

He stank like people stink when they either can’t wash or just don’t wash. He sat on the step like he didn’t know the difference between tundra and Tahiti. He was Michael.

“Can I sit here, mate?” Going for the friendly known-you-since-forever approach.

He looked at me like I didn’t exist.

I’d seem him just about every day for the last few years, sitting on that step like he owned it. Maybe he thought he did. But I’d never spoke to him before. Never smiled his way. Never flicked a coin towards him. Never cared. Until now. Now that I was a writer, he emerged from the background noise of my warm, comfortable life. He became something real: a character.

I squatted. Settled with my against to the wall. Almost comfy.

“Listen, I want to give you something to help you. So that you don’t have to beg. So that you’re not getting something for nothing, you know?”

My eyes skipped around his face. Hair that would have been in in the nineties; now bacon fat greasy over one eye. Tight lips. Holding in. Holding on. Skin on bone. Raw. A quick dip of the chin. Could have been a shiver. I took it for assent.

“I want to write a book about the plight of the homeless, made up of interviews; potted bios of individual homeless people, where they tell their side of the story. They don’t even have to be true but I hope they will be. To give you something, y’know, to give back. Instead of taking.”

Nothing on his face. A tremor passed through his body. March still biting hard.

“I’ll record it.” I held up my phone; already recording. “I’ll write it, polish it up and make copies. Just need your words. That’s all. Simples!”


“All I want is the copyright. For the book. You get free copies of your bit. Booklets to sell. And you get to be famous! Get your message out. Tell people what’s eating you.”

With these last words, he straightened. His eyes opened wide and focused on mine. He tried to speak. Like dust through rusty iron; words sticking in his throat, choking him. He tried again.


As if the effort had exhausted him, he slumped again. But it didn’t matter. I had him. Got his interest and consent; bingo. Right, get on with it then. I dived my hand into a pocket and came up with the folded paper I’d printed earlier. Character Creation Map.

Unfolding it with fingers slowed by the cold I scanned the first entries as they came into view: Name; Nicknames, if any; Date of birth and …

What had seemed important on the computer screen now looked trite. A wreck of a man, trembling in clothing meant for June on the dark side steps of a mass of church in the centre of this popular tourist destination with one of the most photographed landmarks in England watching on, as I squatted and tried to ask myself what was real. For him.

“Tell me about your mother,” I said.


the above comes after Michael/Imago (New Beginning) and before Michael/Imago (New Middle – Scene One)

Michael/Imago (New Middle – Scene One)

Mother Cake stole ate cake mother lock shed overnight at seven cold freezing comfort food belly warm love and there’s only me there in the dark with all my cake enclosed never leaving the shed freezing my balls shrivel to nothing noises in the corner that rustle and pop and the light from the moon under the cracks of the locked door never mind the light shiver in the dark and I never told anyone but the cold came like sugar frosting on the cake that lived an breathed love in me when I shivered and loved and suffered and loved and died without and lived and loved within

Ruth Returning striped arse shorts at ten ran street never coming back past her house a face pale in window pang heart turned almost no never return ran to hills only cold but hot from fire belly fast then a door slams behind and she’s taller legs longer faster catching me faster no side by side fierce looks game not playing still we were together and ran out of breath colt tamed barely but oh her skinny body heat inches apart collapsed on ground she knew me fierce words never holding back from passion or love or understanding a spark of fever never forgot her always loving her within

Ruth Leaving only mother only empty house behind the fifteen me window pane cold against hand and cheek collapsed heart blurred vision of the van the table chair wardrobe stream and the better past of slow summer with tennis play bikini heat dens of nothing but old and must with young heat inside and touching but not landing take love from my eyes know it feel it and she did but too late for ever to take down never in fight against tears now you’re strong boy you don’t need her need her feel her on my skin in my heated heart but the doors slam and her face pale sad sorrow mine going engine rough running don’t run don’t go gone

Michael / Imago – Relationships

The Cast:

Michael is one of a cast of three and he is the binding agent; the one in the middle. The other two characters are The Writer (shall we call him Harry?), and Joan (latterly known as Sister Joan). There are one or two bit-parts, but they are merely walk-ons that elicit remarks that pertain to the plot and have no other part in the story.

The Story (the events in order):

Michael knew Joan when they were children and he was more than a little in love with her. Her family moved away and they lost touch until Michael went to the University of Sussex to pursue his Masters in Theology. He found that Joan was enrolled on the same course and that her family were living in that area. They became a couple, she introduced him to LSD and they got high together. M was not really into it, he was into her. Unfortunately, he became addicted and, because she cleaned up with the aid of the small tortoiseshellPoor Clares (an order of nuns), they again lost contact. Michael cleaned up too and remained obsessed by her. M dropped out of University and embraced the life of a homeless and solitary traveller and that’s the last J knew of him because she joined the closed community of nuns. She retained, though, feelings of guilt about M and blamed herself for his state. What she did not know is that he was clean and his mental state was due to an organic condition unrelated to the drugs. He settled down eventually on the steps of St Michael le Belfrey in York and continued with his twin obsessions of Joan and transcendence through suffering. Oh, this is all so very unlikely, but not all of it will come out in the story. Most of it will be inferred by the reader (if they choose). A writer (Harry) happened along and saw M as a beggar and decided to help him by interviewing him and then giving him the result as a booklet that could be sold to the public instead of begging. This somehow released M from his mental prison and allowed him to open up in a stream-of-consciousness (SoC) kind of a way. H edited the resulting text, but when he tried to deliver it to M he was gone with only a butterfly in his place.

The Plot (the events rearranged for dramatic effect):

  1. Sister J in nunnery praying for M (Michael/Imago (New Beginning))
  2. H interviewing M on the steps:
    • M talking (SoC) of childhood. Segues into several scenes with strong imagery:
      • 7 Mother punishing cake-eating by locking in cold shed overnight
      • 10 Joan finding and returning him after he runs away
      • 15 Joan’s family leave
    • M talking (SoC) of university. Segues into several scenes with strong imagery:
      • 21 Joan meeting M at uni
      • 22 Joan introducing M to drugs
      • 23 J & M taking drugs regularly
    • M talking (SoC) of cleaning up. Segues into several scenes with strong imagery:
      • 25 Joan cleaning up and becoming nun
      • 26 M cleaning up and becoming homeless
      • 30 M diagnosis of … something that makes him withdrawn
    • M talking (SoC / lucid) of seemingly random things that mean little to H but are important to the plot:
      • 47 Feelings for Joan – tenderness and wanting to take away her guilt (she thinks …)
      • 47 (lucid) – get this to Joan. Poor Clare.
      • 47 (SoC) – butterfly babble. Imago.
  3. H returning to the steps and finding M gone. Sees first butterfly of spring.

My approach to characters:

I tend to write about characters based on the kinds of people I see every day. I write about what I imagine they do, say and think. My stories are extrapolations based on what I see people do, what I say to people around me (or what I would say if I were bold) and what I think about (or imagine others to think about). They tend to speak to each other about normal, everyday things, act in ways that are realistic within their environment and think of things in a rather deep way rather than about shallow things. Their intentions and actions are towards harmony and resolution even though they may have problems at the beginning of the story.

This story is typical of my approach to life. Do you think I’m putting myself into my stories too much?