Feb 10th – Billowy blobs and booby traps

February 10th – Billowy blobs and booby traps


It started with just a something,
there, that had grown under the skin
and got under her skin, hard and
round and other. Feel it, she said,
there, and he placed his hand
differently, scared fingers replacing
confident touch. It’s probably nothing,
she said, it’s usually nothing;
but the usual nothing grew
into a something of the mind, before
it was ever anything. The appointment
was made, then the wait for the appointment,
and the wait grew legs, became
a thing, that crawled into dark corners
and waited, growing, growing.
The first man thought it was nothing,
smiled benignly, reassuringly,
but another country away
the something stirred, restless.
More appointments were made.
She was squeezed into the cold
steel trap, that narrowed, and
imaged up a white blob, that billowed
into something more than its own shadow.
It grew into a word, and the word
was curved around its own initial.
She told him that word one October,
miles and light-years away,
and the something in his mind
drew a curtain across the future,
flapping in the rain. She went under
the knife: they took nodes, ran tests,
screened cells and then booked her in
for the big one. The wait was growling
at the door. They used optimistic words
like early and survival and promise.
They went away, for what weren’t
going to be the last days, but the
last best days, and then he waited
some more, as the wait howled
at the moon, and she submitted
to the knife. He saw her next
in a sterile ward, bandaged and tubed
dripping in morphine, quite literally
off her tits. The nurses tittered
as she tried to show him the surgeon’s
work. She’s doing very well, the nurses
told him, She’s tough, that one.
She needed to be. The scars she wore
weren’t just on the outside, even when
they spoke of success, of a remarkable job.
Much needed reconstructing, but it was
reconstructed, and the daily pills
changed their meaning, from fighting
the past to signing the future. She is now
ten years away from them, and the
something is almost nothing.
Every new year, is a new year.


Inspired by a prompt from here

Smuggling, Snuggling, or Struggling? – Dead Deer

Smuggling, Snuggling, or Struggling?

“It’s hard; but it’s a struggle”

Words I will never forget, words that perfectly encapsulate the difficulty of maintaining positivity in the face of adversity. I first heard them around 1987 up West in London, passed onto to me by an old man (he seemed old to me, maybe he wasn’t) living on the streets. I can see him now halfway down the steps of an Underground, he paused half turned and called to me, by way of encouragement. “It’s hard; but it’s a struggle.”

Inspiring, I think, is what he was aiming at but of course it has a beautifully bleak desperate misery around it. When that is your genuine attempt at cheery imagine where you life is.

I suppose I cannot begin to liken my lot to his yet I find myself often thinking of that phrase. It really is hard and it really is a struggle. And it is getting worse, day by day. As I sink into the miserable future I foresaw, another phrase enters my mind, one uttered much more recently.

A little while ago everyone was assuring me, insisting in fact, that it would get better. With time. This made no sense to me at all, why would it? It was the future that was fucked so how could heading toward it, into it, make it better? It made no sense, and I thought of Pierce Carroll in Penelope Fitzgerald’s wonderful At Freddie’s when he said “No. That won’t be the way of it at all.”

And then a dear new friend said to me these very wise, and as it turns out very perceptive, words;

“Sometimes time just makes it worse.”



Today I wrote from 18:01 to 18:11. I was prompted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, and my tweets here


8B4546F2-0E26-42E4-A1B4-0BD4AE52EA15It’s always a struggle whether to take him with me when I go away. A struggle with my conscience as I would hate for him to get lost, a struggle to conceal him from the wife as I have to smuggle him into the luggage when she isn’t looking. However, it’s worth the struggle, and the smuggle when I get to snuggle him at night. Nearly 50 years old and still taking the same 50 year old teddy bear to bed. When I can get away with it, that is!

Prompted by this page

Feb 9th – Pixilated paintings (2)


pix·​i·​lat·​ed | \ ˈpik-sə-ˌlā-təd  \

variants: or less commonly pixillated

Definition of pixilated

1 : somewhat unbalanced mentally

also : BEMUSED


pixilated pleasures


February 11th – Pixilated Paintings (2)


It drove the gallery staff mad.

No matter how often they tried, and they tried, every morning, when they opened the Baroque room, every single painting was askew. Every single one. Never in the same direction, and never by the same degree, all of the pictures were misaligned. Every morning, without fail, since the museum had moved into the new building in 2007.

At first, they thought it was the walls. The pictures were taken down, the walls checked. Nothing. The walls were sound. The mountings on the paintings were replaced, the paintings hung back up, straightened.

By morning, the slanting had returned.

The paintings were taken down again, the walls measured with lasers, probes inserted. Nothing. They were good, solid walls. The paintings were replaced. With the same result.

Cameras were installed in the corners of the room, giving a complete picture. Full coverage. In the morning, the cameras as well as the pictures were skewed. The museum staff reviewed the footage from the previous night: nothing. From the closing of the door until they came in the next morning, nothing had moved. Nothing had changed. The picture on the monitor showed the same paintings in the same place. Except that, when they opened the door, that was clearly not the case.

The paintings were taken down again, the room re-examined. The walls, the floor, the ceiling: all were sound. They could find no explanation for the Pixilated Paintings, as the museum director had started to call them.

The paintings were remounted, and this time screwed into the wall: modern brackets fixed to antique frames to try to solve the problem. The cameras, watched diligently all night, showed nothing. In the morning, again, the paintings were misaligned. Misaligned, but still screwed into the walls. The screws, fixings, plugs; everything had moved. There was no trace of the original holes.

Desperate measures needed to be taken. The paintings were taken down again while the holes were filled. A psychic was consulted, who declared an imbalance in the room, and charged an imbalanced fee. They took her advice, let her perform a cleansing, hung the paintings back up.

The next morning was just the same.

At a loss, the museum director decided to sleep in the room. He prepared himself, kitted himself out with supplies, checked the cameras himself before settling on the camp bed in the middle of the room.

He waited. Nothing happened.

Sometime around 2am, he fell asleep. He slept peacefully until he was awakened the next morning by his staff entering the room. Raised himself from the bed and stood to greet them, registering with some surprise the paintings still straight on the wall.

Then he fell over.

He tried to stand, and fell over again.

A quick examination revealed the source. His left leg was now six inches shorter than his right.


Inspired by a prompt from here



Feb 9th – Pixilated paintings

February 9th – Pixilated paintings




past tense: pixellated; past participle: pixellated

  1. divide (an image) into pixels, typically for display or storage in a digital format.
    • display an image of (someone or something) on television as a small number of large pixels, typically in order to disguise someone’s identity.


Michael couldn’t spell ‘Pixellated’. He couldn’t spell a lot of things: spelling wasn’t his strong point. He knew a lot of stuff, was practical, understood things, but he couldn’t spell. This made school a problem.

They’d given up on him by the end of primary school. So he had, in turn, given up on them. It was only fair. Michael and the academic way were two very different worlds. He turned up, did what he had to do, dis his homework (more or less on time), failed some exams, scraped through some others, and generally let the world turn around him without bothering too much which way it spun.

He was a genius at Art.

However tedious the rest of school life was, the Art room was a sanctuary. His Art teacher, having been a bassist in a chart-scraping band at the dog end of the 1980s, and knowing what it was like to live outside of the bubble, even if only briefly, indulged him. Michael, from the age of eleven, produced works of beauty.

The Art budget was cut, the school prioritised Maths and Science, and Michael’s Art teacher was shuffled off to pastures new. At the age of fifteen, Michael gave up on Art at school, along with all of his other subjects. What was the point?

One Thursday afternoon, sat in front of a careers advisor with the imagination of a turnip, Michael had an epiphany. He was only half listening to the woman in the blue jacket in front of him as she wittered on about BTECs and being a lumberjack. (A lumberjack? Seriously?)

He knew what he was going to do.

He was going to paint.

Armed with a simple palette, a bank of images on his phone, and a set of flat ended brushes, Michael spent the evenings and nights of his GCSEs painting. The exams were irrelevant. What was relevant where his canvasses: empty buildings, bus shelters tucked out of the way, a motorway underpass, a building site. In simple blocks of colour he recreated masterpieces, adding his own touches here and there, a mess of squares seen from a metre or two away became Botticelli’s Venus, rising out of a plastic sea. The Mona Lisa smiled enigmatically down from a multi-storey car park.

When a pixellated Starry Night, Van Gogh’s fields replaced by broken circuit boards and broken phone screens, was cordoned off, cut down, and placed in a street art exhibition in The Tate, things started to change. Michael was astute enough to make the right moves.

A few emails later, (badly spelled, but who cared?) Michael had himself an agent, sworn to secrecy, and a few months later a pixellated Night Watch hung in New York’s MoMA, the concrete wall of the tennis club purchased and replaced, to everyone’s delight, including Michael’s, who was rewarded handsomely for his efforts, and Michael’s agent, who was rewarded only slightly less handsomely herself.

Michael signed his work ‘Pixilated’. He still couldn’t spell. And he really didn’t care.


Inspired by a prompt from here