The Nerve to suggest

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Russia stockpiles chemical weapons. Boris Johnson tells us this is true but those of us with the ability to see the micro-muscle movements even in a face as bloated with wealth as his could read the braille. The real essence of the message was not that every major country (and some minor Jungle-based ones too) own at least a phial or two of nerve agent, but that he was caught out for being paid £160,000 by a Russian for a game of tennis. Soak that one in for a moment. That fat oaf received (on behalf of the Conservative party) £160,000 from the wife of one of Putin’s ex-Ministers, ostensibly so she could watch him sweat like a trained dancing hog in an Alabama summer circus spectacular. According to reports, the same woman also paid £30,000 at the same charity event for a ‘Guided Tour by the current UK Defence Secretary around Churchill’s war rooms, followed by a Gala Dinner’ hosted by the same.

Rich pickings for the Charities these days, and the Conservative party. Not every charity worker is raping prostitutes in disaster zones, just like most politicians aren’t lining their own pockets or preparing to when the hammer drops and retirement looms. There is much good work still to do. And if that tennis game provided a key networking environment with a well-connected member of Putin’s inner circle then we were all, as British voters, truly blessed.

Boris levelled his dead black piggy eyes at the interviewer (Andrew Marr) and I leaned forward on the sofa. Was he the best we had to offer – the sum total of all we are worth when our country is dealing with the rest of the World? He spoke again but I couldn’t hear above the rushing noise in my head as if something, some grain of truth and goodness passed down from the cosmos, was trying to escape and laser beam out of my eyes and down the Sky satellite network, right up through the dirty cables laying on the floor in the studio and out of any one of the four or five cameras within striking distance of Boris. I turned off the television. It was safer for all of us. Even the cosmos can get angry, and none of us would refuse a ringside seat in the VIP section when that show comes to town. Be there, or ….err….fry in your own atomic juices.

Porton Down is the UK’s chemical research laboratory facility. They don’t deal in lasers there, or paranoid fantasies about burning the face from politicians, but they love death and the juices it creates all the same. They store death in little glass tubes and research ways to make it more sophisticated and, ultimately, simply better at killing people for less reason than Oppenheimer had when he worked on Fat Boy. I know little more than you do about Porton Down, so here’s what the UK MP, and Chair of the UK Government Defence Committee – Bruce George – said in 1999 about the facility:

“I would not say that the Defence Committee is micro-managing either DERA or Porton Down. We visit it, but, with eleven members of Parliament and five staff covering a labyrinthine department like the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces, it would be quite erroneous of me and misleading for me to say that we know everything that’s going on in Porton Down. It’s too big for us to know, and secondly, there are many things happening there that I’m not even certain Ministers are fully aware of, let alone Parliamentarians.” 

How does that feel? We’re talking about a military complex with the capability to kill anyone, in probably any numbers conceivable, in the World. This could happen by design, or accident. You choose your poison, if you’ll pardon the pun. And nobody who represents ‘The People’ knows really what it does or to what extent. If you told an American hillbilly the above they’d laugh and point you to Area 51 and a scar on their ass. Only, Porton Down and its contents aren’t as funny as being probed up the anus by Mork. As that poor ex-Russian Colonel (sent to the UK as part of a Spy-swap deal with Russia years ago) and his daughter found out last week.

The Russian Ambassador to the UK appeared on the same show as Boris this morning and he reminded us all that the Colonel and his daughter were administered the almost fatal dose of nerve agent – codename: ‘Novichok’, but it might as well have been ‘Rasputin’, or ‘The Russians Done It, Mister’ – barely eight miles from………yep, you guessed it……Porton Down. Why? Who? Add the rest of the four ‘W’s’ yourself. There are no good answers the likes of you or I will ever receive. Not if you don’t want to be choking on the fluid seeping into your heart quietly five minutes after sipping at a cup of coffee you had…..

Love. A little goes a long way. Always. Just like a nerve agent.


The Diamond Business

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“Black diamond.”

The thing was massive, she said. I saw the ring it was set in as I walked through the train carriage. The misty jewel with gaudy gold was sitting on small weighing scales – chrome with an electric display and buttons providing measurements in ways only the pickiest and meanest drug dealer would care for. She was grey – grey hair, grey face – talking loudly into a phone on the lurching Matlock train, repeating the words over and over again: “It’s massive.”

Her partner – same sallow bloodless skin – wore a dirty baseball cap. He kept picking the ring from the scales and eyeing it through a jeweler’s eyepiece which looked like it’d come out of a Christmas cracker. If the pair of them had been in the diamond business long they hid it well, or had been so unsuccessful that a last desperate lead had taken them out to here on a half hunch. The two carriage train clanked, cold, grabbing at the treeless scenery and clawing towards the city. The ring was passed back and forwards and the volume of her voice rose and rose. “Huge find!”

I watched her hawkish features sneer with the kind of rapture only a treasure hunter can feel when they’ve duped some poor local hick out of an inheritance. True passion and pleasure. The sweet taste of the steal. Nose bent over and cutting across her thin lips like a razorback. Eyes moving laser-fast from the diamond to him, to the other passengers.

I googled ‘Black Diamond’ on my phone, wondering if the value of one could make the couple a street robbery risk, if not by me then someone else within earshot. I expected a long list of pirate treasures, crowns, and stories about sweating men in African slave mines. I was wrong. The first page of results were for pornography. Sweat, but not much in the way of riches; not by the look of the women and men on the screen anyhow. Fake sex. Fake love. Low returns on something polished up to look like it was worth the appearance at first glance.

I left the train at Derby and missed my connection by two seconds; shouted at by a platform guard to ‘Get away from the tracks at once!’ I cursed the UK train network and stood back watching laughing faces pull away towards Sheffield. Windy platform. Cold. Standing and standing, unsure if I’d make it on time, but certain the sandwich I was eating wasn’t worth the £3 I’d paid for it. I was going to see my Woman. Knowledge is power. I was rich indeed.


Move on

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The garbage men worked slowly in the rain over by the interred ashes of Scunthorpe residents who never expected it to come to this. Industrial waste bins were full of decomposing flowers and water-smudged cards saying things like ‘God Bless,’ and ‘Rest in Peace.’

Nobody was resting here.

The overflow car park filled up while I sat in the car on my own fiddling with a chewing gum wrapper and watching the dirty white bin lorry and the orange men tending it like a fat silk worm. No-one looked happy to be here, not the garbage men, and not the mourners. From morning toast and into the only suit you’d need for years: orange or black. Dusted off and now here in this clinically manicured garden. The mainly elderly people in the other cars looked bored staring out from rainy windows towards where the funeral would take place. Waiting for the unscripted right moment. Short walk over at a respectable pace, men jingling keys and change in suit pockets. Heads slightly bowed as if they were afraid to look up.

At the building the tall brick chimney feathered out white smoke. Some gaps, then big clouds. Someone was being burned down in there somewhere. You hardly ever get to see this and you can’t take your eyes from it easily. Another service had just finished. Rain beat down the cloud until I thought it would cover the latest smear of black-clad mourners waiting under an asphalt roof in a kind of ‘Now what?’ moment outside of the exit. Awkward handshakes, the compulsion to smile and shrug. Grey and white hair and tottering footsteps. The only chance some of them got to see each other until next time, but somebody would be the one in the box with the fake brass plastic handles when this same crowd met next time. Bye. Bye.

The Hearse arrived on time but the flower tribute had fallen against the window and I couldn’t read it until the scruffy funeral guy slammed it back against the coffin. “Nan.” Not my Nan. My friend’s mother. I was there because I owed him. Some kind of tied respect that told me this would be the right thing to do. I felt out of place; detached. Like everyone else I’d seen that day knew a secret I didn’t. The smoke from the last cremation flowed out up into the Scunthorpe air. There were no birds. No weeping either.

The service was fast. Dumb prayers and pauses in the right practised places. The Vicar told us stupid lies about the woman. I stood at the back thinking she must have been worth more than the fact she used a computer and liked The Archers. What a life. What an end. No-one left quickly. We were log-jammed by the fear of appearing to leave too soon. Like the group before us, we lingered under the asphalt roof as the rain came in on the breeze.

Afterwards I hugged my friend. I knew he missed her. She’d gotten him out of more shit than anyone would ever know. Now she was dead I feared for him. The last safety net was gone. ‘Take care of yourself please mate,’ I said.

‘Listen,’ he said. ‘I’ll get some resin and we’ll get blasted, eh.’ He laughed hard, too hard for the rain and the crowd.

As I drove away the white cloud billowed heavily, bulging into the sky. That’s all.


Leave a mark


Grim faces stepping from the train in Cromford. Angled into the cold. One woman has a face and the lean of an Easter Island statue.

Station worker stops to tell me that he’s sick of litter. “Next station along, all I end up doing is picking up needles, used condoms, drugs, used nappies. And there are loads of bins from them to shove this stuff into. How would they like it if I just curled a shit out on their front lawn?”

Not much, I guess. You can’t really argue with that sort of logic. I mean, we’re talking about biohazards. Fight fire with fire.

“See you mate,” he laughs, as he walks off down the platform sprinkling white salt crystals onto stomped out cigarette ends and sweet wrappers. It’s cold.


Cardinal Pignose moved slowly down the staircase. Below him from the reception area came the sound of laughter. He was drunk. A bead of sweat hung for a moment on his temple then ran down past his grinning mouth and along the flabby line of his jowl. This was perfect, he thought. Flabby folds and pillows of bulging flesh strained under thin summer dresses on the twenty or so female guests whilst, on most of the men, balloon guts tore at the seams of hired cream brocade waistcoats.

Pignose’s entrance pierced the chip fat atmosphere as the sound of his segs clack-clack-pinged off of the proudly displayed Roman mosaic – dug up from a grand villa nearby and now, two thousand years after its construction, destined to spend the rest of its existence right underneath a fake glass sign reading “Welcome to North Lincolnshire Council.”

The reception area was buzzing with post-wedding excitement. Bride and Groom took long pulls on a hip flask. She winced every time. He swigged, and his eyes moved slower in his vast bearded head. Fixed alcohol grin. Backs of his rented trousers dragging on the polished floor, tugging even further down under pointy-shoe heels.

The Bride’s face looked like meat fat in a hot room. She asked a friend if her hair was still up in its arrangement. Her friend took a look; reached a hand gingerly up to cup the unraveling  dark curls; lied ‘Yeah, it’s still perfect.’

The photographer asked everyone to go outside into the municipal park for photographs. No-one seemed dressed for the sub zero wind. The park was bare – just muddied grass, leafless trees, memories of me being stoned in it many times many years ago – the wedding party huddled and interwove in awkwardness. People tried unsuccessfully to look pleased to talk to each other. A baby was huddled in tight to the bosom of a mother who looked like she wanted to be anywhere else, even back in childbirth. Bride and Groom stood motionless looking right into the lens. Completely still.





Human Condition for all

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Station Schizophrenic. Cold. Middle-aged hipsters in the the ‘Real Ale’ platform pub at the train station. Richard Branson’s slick Virgin company trains look old and second-hand. They are dirty, too. Homeless men, two of them. One sits on his hands in the station right by a piano where an old guy is playing beautifully to no-one else stopping to listen. The other walks along the windy platform in electrician trousers. Ragged. Big grey dirty beard. I thought I was cold, but he knows it’s nothing.

Two Estate Agents. First one a piggy woman. Ogling the ticket inspector. Facebook messenger ringing out to the sound of false nails tapping on the glass screen. ‘Do you know what I mean?’ at the end of every sentence. Smoker-voiced woman; loud voice, carries like a sonic boom down the length of the train carriage as it pulls away from Sheffield.

Liverpudlian criminal. Thin and cross-eyed. Moving his lips as he reads the Liverpool Echo in front of him on the dirty train table. He picks out pictures of friends – they’ve done a series of armed robberies. Talks into a throwaway phone ‘Well, he’s a fucking grass anyhow. How did you fucking get caught like that?’ Laughter.

Young African man sits behind me. Piissshhh of Fosters lager. Takes long pulls on the tall cans. He’s wearing Hip-Hop black and red. Staring out of the window into the freezing grey rain of a North Lincolnshire winter afternoon.

I get back home. My eighty-five year old neighbour has died. It was, age aside, a surprise. A fall. Overnight in hospital. Dead the next morning. Her son told me the news as I was unlocking my door, trying to hold on to my baggage in the rain and get inside. He usually has a bad stutter, but not this time.

Inside it’s dark. Turn on the heating. Sit in a chair at my desk. Slump and weep for a moment.


Steady Employment

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I’d been with the Barrister for a little over an hour. I’d like to say the conversation had drifted to its natural end, but I can’t. The coffee shop was full of rich people: footballers, agents, silicone-infused young women with long nails and the mean streak required to fight for a better life, even if it meant sucking off an ugly sportsman on a regular basis. I found the foulness of the little wealthy town provided a grimly perfect backdrop to the horror I was listening to. I kept checking that we couldn’t be heard, but the place was noisy with excited talk about little dogs and earrings and of transfer moves. Big phones were being shouted into, watched, pawed at and poured over. Now, as we were finishing up, he was looking at me for a reaction. I didn’t give him the satisfaction. I guessed he wanted me to be impressed.

There were at least five murders. Someone had been burned to death in a disused quarry. Another, finally gutted with a sword, had begged for his life in the boot of a car while they’d gone through a McDonald’s drive-in. A guy was shot to death in his Mercedes at a traffic intersection. Some poor sap had been thrown out of a helicopter. The last had been put in a bag and then thrown into the sea. Fun times.. And those were the murders I was allowed to know about. There were almost certainly many more.

I was told my phone would be bugged, my email was no longer private, and to check periodically that I wasn’t being followed. And I was not to talk to the press or, in fact, anyone about all this. It was the price you paid for knowing the man we were discussing, a man who counted me now as a ‘good friend’. A friendship I was now, more than ever, intending to keep on an even keel.

The arms shipment had been a surprise. So, too, had been the scale of the organisation – Worldwide. It was hard to comprehend in the same way it’s hard to look up at a clear night sky and think about the size of the galaxy with any real grasp of spatial awareness; just the vague sense that you’re very small in the grand scheme of cosmic truths. Small enough to be stomped on with ease.

The snow is falling outside. I’m sitting at the dining room table in my partner’s house. There’s some good music on. It’s warm. I feel warm inside, too. That conversation, and the accompanying reality, are very far away right now. I like that fact. And, despite what my Therapist says, it’s not always good to talk. I’ll leave this one here. Go and hug my woman.


The Almighty King of the Universe


A kid was crying across from me in the narrow aisle. His sister sat and kicked the seat in front, throwing a plastic bottle repeatedly down onto the dirty plastic table, then looking up towards her mother who was too tired to do anything other than stare grimly at the young girl and nod her head in sleepy post-holiday travel tiredness. Dad still had his holiday clothes on and his fat tanned legs bristled with almost hairless goosebumps in the poorly heated railway carriage. He was dozing, cradling a third child and waking up with every rattle of the train as it slogged across the flat lands towards the coast.

The guy with the tattoo had got on the train in some featureless shit-hole where the houses seemed to barely keep above the water table, low and squat, hugging close like shipwreck victims. It was a place you left. Thankful for every mile of distance. I guessed nobody ever looked over their shoulder back towards the ditches and dykes and loneliness, no matter where they headed or whom they left behind.

He was young – maybe twenty – but his light ginger hair was thinning and he’d started to comb it forward in kiss curls that looked like the frayed edges of a threadbare mop. He’d grown a beard. Straggles of hair hugged over his top lip and into his mouth. He sucked on the mat of it from time to time. Hands flicked and pressed at a large phone. He was occasionally smiling, staring at the screen, fiddling with his Nintendo wallet. Black headphones jammed deep into small ears which seemed to be chiseled close to his head like a sculptor’s afterthought.

I watched him – taking a covert photo of the tattoo – while the train crawled past the rows of windmills, never seeming to make any progress. He adjusted his Tom Clancy “Ghost Recon” grey top, glanced around the carriage, then went back to stabbing and swiping at the phone, still smiling. Content. I wondered where he was going? If he even knew, or if he cared? I suppose it was unimportant. He was exactly where he should be. For that brief moment he was indeed the Almighty King of the Universe.


The Blank Stare of Ignorance

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Tom Cruise doesn’t believe in Psychiatry. I guess most of his mates have the same view. The more I watched his hideously chiselled face gurning and grinning and staring like a psychic in a CIA goat-killing experiment, the more I hated him. Most of what he said sounded like first year Psychology gone wrong – like the famous Stanford ‘Prison Experiment’, only this time cash was changing hands and the agenda was more psychotic.

Fuck….I know it’s dangerous ground – going into Scientology – but stumbling on that interview really kicked me in the balls. So here we are. Yes, I believe I’ve made it apparent by now to you: I see a Psychiatrist, and I’m prescribed Psychiatric medication. I have them to thank for improving my quality of life. The meds help sleep, allay panic and fear, and give me an emergency button to press when the time is right. In short, they work.

I can’t vouch for Scientology, I can vouch for medication. One solution is measurable and has been developed by thousands of intelligent medical professionals, the other is based on the writings of a Science Fiction Author. And here is a brief snapshot into that author’s (L. Ron Hubbard) mind, where he waxes lyrical about Psychiatry. I imagine he was masturbating furiously while he typed this one-handed –

“A psychiatrist today has the power to (1) take a fancy to a woman (2) lead her to take wild treatment as a joke (3) drug and shock her to temporary insanity (4) incarnate [sic] her (5) use her sexually (6) sterilise her to prevent conception (7) kill her by a brain operation to prevent disclosure. And all with no fear of reprisal. Yet it is rape and murder … We want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one … This is Project Psychiatry. We will remove them.”

Okay? Getting the sexual tension? Me too. For the record, I’ve never been raped by any one of my five [5] Psychiatrists I’ve been treated by over the years. Nor have I been drugged into ‘temporary insanity’ or felt that any one of them was trying to do anything other than help me. Hubbard wrote the above statement on a memo in 1966, but the smell of it is still strong after all these years. I don’t like it.

But let’s not get too far off the mark. I guess you suspect a cult leader like Hubbard didn’t quite stick to his own proclamations, especially where getting fucked out of his mind on chemicals was concerned? Here’s what his son had to say –

“I have personal knowledge that my father regularly used illegal drugs including amphetamines, barbiturates and hallucinogens. He regularly used cocaine, peyote and mescaline.”

Like Hubbard Snr a little more now? Me neither, and I have taken almost all of the drug menu listed by his son, so I should feel a sense of kinship. But then I’ve never tried to get people to part with their cash by feeding them stories of Aliens coming to take their souls to a distant planet. Only somebody really screwed out of their mind on a vicious cocktail of hallucinogens and cocaine would a) write the kinds of things he did and, b) think people would believe it. I watched stars form into the face of a great celestial dog once, but that wasn’t because I was finding the secrets to the universe, or having some kind of divine human insight into what it meant to be alive, I was just fucked on LSD.

Yes, I realise you can interchange some of the Hubbard-strength weirdness with some of the rantings in the Bible (and other religions) but no-one ever really set out to write themselves a spiritual fortune like he did. Most major religions are equally hilarious in parts, but that’s not through design, it’s through ignorance, or the lost myth of human experience told around campfires stretching back into the eons. They never began as cash-cows, even if that’s how a lot of them ended up. Scientology is different. It wanted your cash right from the start.

So where does that leave me and Tom Cruise? Well, he’s pretty much as insignificant to me as I am to him, and that’s the way I’d like things to remain. One of us is deluded, and the other has psychiatric problems. I guess that makes us more alike than I thought when I started typing in the candlelight, waiting for the stars to come out.



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The car was one of those big four wheel drive things you see a lot around here. I don’t know the make – maybe a Volvo, or a Mercedes, I wasn’t looking too hard. But the thing was brand new. Shiny brand new. Status symbol brand new. Jet black. Bet the inside still had the new smell. I heard that some companies study the ‘olfactory experience’ of their new cars. I don’t know why. Don’t want to think about it any more than you do, in the same way I don’t want to think about my Singapore-based neighbours who, right at this moment as the fingers press down on this shitty red keyboard, are talking to people with clipboards on the land overlooking my home. Okay?

She was probably in her late twenties, maybe younger. It’s hard to guess the age of someone with cash. She had her hair bundled up on her head in the fashion of today – it’s a look that says ‘I’ve taken no care at all to look like this,’ but in reality has probably taken at least half an hour to get all the messy parts in the right places. That and the eyebrows, plucked and darkened to a point where my mind always sees the image of John Wayne Gacy dressed as ‘Pogo the Clown’. His last words were ‘Kiss my ass.’

She made it to the cash machine just in front of me as I slogged across the petrol station forecourt. My knee was hurting. I was limping a little. Rucksack on, walking boots, scowl. I wanted to get some money out to do some panic buying in the Co-Op attached to the petrol station. Despite the scowl – low sun, big eyes – I was feeling good. She hopped out of the drivers seat, leaving her little child in his seat in the passenger side. The car was blocking access to a couple of the pumps. It was entitled to because it was large and expensive. Money like that pulls rank on anyone with a shittier car. It’s the unwritten rule: money maketh the woman/man.

I slowed down as I got to the cash machine. She was shielding her other hand as she punched in the numbers – 7832. The security action didn’t work, I saw the magic code without even trying. Then she pressed the £50 request on the screen, neglecting to check her account balance. Big car = no need to see the details.

The machine processed her request and then came back with a message I’ve seen a few times in my life – REQUEST DENIED. INSUFFCIENT BALANCE. I thought the machine was fucked again, like it always seems to be since the local bank branch shut down and caused the physical withdrawal of money to become a problem on my hill in the middle of nowhere. ‘Fuck,’ I thought, ‘I’ll have to slog into town and check my balance and hope there hasn’t been a run on the other machine.’ Was it drinking season yet? Why was everyone emptying the cash machines? Without the financial teat in the wall I’m screwed.

She put the card in again and stabbed at the buttons. Lesser request this time – £20. Same message. She glanced over her shoulder and saw me ten feet away trying hard not to seem interested. She turned back and put her hand down in a slapping motion onto the machine keyboard, then went back to her car. I walked up to the machine fearing the worst – it was empty, or some North Korean hacker had finally broken through and fucked up the Western World by disabling the use of the fiscal nectar distributers in the great, superior, World of the White terror. I typed my pin number in, waiting for the same denial. I was wrong. The money lolled out like a fat tongue. When I turned around she was sitting in her car watching me. Her eyes were on the small notes in my fist. She put her head in her hands then jammed her phone to her ear. The kid started to scream.



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Never pry into someone else’s life – especially a stranger on a train. This is a sound doctrine and it has served me well. But something about this young guy made the huge phone shine its messages on the screen like a beacon from the seat in front of me. I couldn’t help myself.

I’d seen him on the platform – red short trousers, heavy make-up, silver high-heeled shoes, the points of his blacked in eyebrows almost impossibly sharp. Like a catwalk model. Hip thrust to one side, the universal uneven stance from every red carpet minor list celeb event you’ve ever seen.

I got on the train first. It was just luck that he ended up in the seat in front. Then he held up the huge phone and that’s when I saw into his young life.

Some guy was messaging him, telling him he was the owner of a ‘multi-million pound company’, and asking if ‘she’ was available next week.

‘Yes, darling.’

‘Will you be wearing an on point outfit?’

‘Of course.’

That was the limit of the thing. Nothing really. Just some young Asian man making ends meet. Turning a trick who was so deep into his fantasy that he was starting to concoct a backstory for himself involving wealth and success, almost like he was trying to justify payment for the services rendered. His money meant more. The kid might even work harder if he bought the millionaire company bullshit. It was worth the risk.

The train stopped again after a few minutes. The young guy got off, clattering down the platform, chin up high, on point.

The next guy in the seat was a businessman. He laid out a laptop and got to it. Very important man. Time too valuable to waste. Life more grey than his hair.

When I left the train at the end of the outbound journey I knew I’d be back on it soon enough, deep into the canned lives of everyone on those tracks. Chugging slowly along. Gambling with the proximity of the next person to take a seat nearby.

The return trip was worse. A football match between two local sides was happening that afternoon and the train was so full that I was left standing up against the luggage rack, listening to heavy talk of fights and fear, beer cans being opened, men trembling with excitement you don’t often see on a train. Everyone pressed up close to each other, laughing, banging on the windows at stations when a pretty girl appeared on the platform. Police officers in front looked bored, constantly on the radio; seen it all before. An hour and a half I stood there staring grimly out of the window, waiting for someone to single me out as not being a member of the same shitty tribe. They didn’t bother. I was thankful for it. As the train rolled into the opposition’s town the mood started to turn ugly. People were pushing, lighting cigarettes, starting the first bent over steps of Liam Gallagher walks. It was a bad scene. They swaggered out of the train like a pack of Lemurs searching for fallen fruit. Good times. Bad postures.

I walked up the hill in the sunshine. Travelling is okay, I thought, as long as the destination is worthwhile.