Monday, 11 October 2010


I've recently moved back to Croydon after five years or so of living in Wimbledon and I've already noticed some weird things about it. Technically, Croydon is part of London (it was incorporated in 1965), but it sure doesn't feel like it. For such a big place, Croydon has a peculiarly parochial, small-town feel (much, as I'm led to believe, like Kingston-Upon-Hull). One of the possible reasons for this is that Croydon grew out of Surrey, not London, and has been a town in its own right, with its own distinct identity, for hundreds of years. People seem never to be able to leave. My new next-door-neighbour (himself not a native Croydoner) is well acquainted with several people who were in my class at school - people who grew up there and have lived there all there lives, or, in some cases, even gone away to university and then come back. Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Croydon really, but I can't imagine spending my whole life there.

Perhaps the weirdest and most disconcerting thing is the way people look at you. There's an unwritten rule of etiquette in London that you notice people, but you do everything in your power not to
let on that you've noticed. In fact, the more noticeable the person is, the more effort you make not to let on. To do so is considered terribly bad form. The maximum length of time you will look at someone for is about half a second. In Croydon this simply does not apply. People's gazes linger for seconds at a time. Some people blatantly stare at you as if you have two heads (like the teenage girl in Ikea yesterday with a bizarre bush of hair who gaped at me for ten whole seconds like I was a Wild Man of Borneo). People will even turn around at the sound of your voice, even when it's patently obvious that you're not addressing them. In London, unless you're absolutely certain that you're being addressed - and sometimes not even then - will you turn around. I'm tempted to start asking people if I can help them, but I doubt they'd get it. Perhaps I should just start staring right back.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

I'm the sort of person who gets called a "faggot" on Lambgoat

If you fancy a laugh - and are not easily offended - you should log on sometime to Lambgoat, a news website for hardcore and metal music that prides itself on its "reviled forum", click on any news story, and read the comments. Even better if it's a story about somebody dying. It all probably started with a couple of knuckleheads dissing everyone who didn't like tough-guy hardcore, but now the site has a reputation to uphold, and anything is fair game. Anybody and everybody from the most brutal genres of music imaginable are dubbed "faggots" at every opportunity; cheesy puns and rejoicing are made over people who have recently, tragically died; and death is wished on innumerable bands, usually in the form of a "van flip". Woe betide any band who has their gear stolen, or who then commits the cardinal sin of putting up a Paypal link that people can donate to! It's all deeply distasteful, but often side-splittingly funny.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Picture Of You

I’ve got a picture of you somewhere in the back of my mind. Earlier that day, in the park, you wore a long, cream-and-purple woollen scarf wrapped around your neck, and a matching hat pulled down to your eyes. You were bundled up against the cold, and as you stood watching the birds in a nearby tree you smiled, and your breath smoked away into the chill air. Now you’re standing at a floor-to-ceiling window on the eighteenth floor of a hotel, smoking a cigarette as you look out at the night. You’re wearing a red silk dressing gown and your blonde hair hangs loose around your face. In the Potsdamer Platz, the trees are laden with snow, and lights blink silently on the roofs of buildings as taxicabs flit through the streets like ghosts. Just for a moment, I think you see me; then he appears, a shadow at your left shoulder. He puts his arm around you, and you turn and disappear, back into the darkness.

Queen Of The Desert

In her dark eyes there's the whisper of the desert
In her curls the heady scent of jasmine blooms
In her tears the taste of a long-sought-for oasis
The memory of dusty silent rooms

At her touch the serpent and the scorpion slumber
Her voice is music sweet as sighing strings
The silver coins that form her headdress tinkle
And onyx glisters in her golden rings

She reclines on carpets woven by her fathers
In tents with her herds dotted round about
And her men, their faces swathed in white scarves
With scimitars drawn stand silent guard without

Your laugh disarms, your voice charms and beguiles her
She hangs upon your every tender word
She silently yearns to surrender and be held
But love's a luxury that she cannot afford

Brighter than the lustre of the hardest diamond
Brighter than a thousand desert moons
Her empire stands upon the river delta
And stretches far beyond the furthest dunes

But when it all is gone she'll choose
The serpent's burning kiss upon her breast
And inside this stone sarcophagus she'll wait
While the dust of ages settles on her face.

Friday, 1 October 2010

A Woman's Body

The parts of a woman's body
that inflame my greatest ardour are not
those you might expect;
nor those of cliché.

The line of her jaw
or the small of her back,
or the soft flesh of her upper arm
peeking from a short sleeve,

Can send through me an electric charge
and make my heart pound loud;
The more seductive because
no attempt is made to hide them,
nor thought given to that they are displayed.