Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

20 Dec 2015

Adjust the Brightness, Add a Filter, and It All Seems Twice as Nice


I never gave you my address,
but you knew I lived in Islington.
I'd mentioned a few times
that I loved The Lord Clyde,
so chances are I'm at this end
of Essex Road.

There were certain folk I saw
every day on that little stretch.

The old guy in the bowler hat,
who begged for change outside William Hill.

He'd use it to bet on his native West Indies
in the cricket.
Or whichever nag took his fancy.
Or, how many throw-ins there'd be
during the first half
of that weekend's big Premier League clash.
That was late morning.

Late afternoon,
the woman smoking outside the launderette;
in pastel coloured t-shirts,
three quarter length leggings,
and Hi-Tec trainers.
Her day entertained four types of coin,
three types of powder,
and both types of dirty laundry.

Late night, the guys in Essex Road Kebab.
Same order, never spoken:
large chips and mayo,
to match four cans for a fiver
from the mini mart next door.

Every day,
give or take,
whenever home
from the road.

Never expected, but always just

We would all decorate and arrange
our own forms of loneliness,
with varying degrees of futility,
and various types of filter.

Safe to say,
when I saw you by the door in Sainsbury's Local,
it was far from expected,
and far from routine.

You'd travelled down,
on a baking summer morning,
purely on the off chance that you'd see me.
You knew I had the day off:
we'd been texting 'til 2.

My usual routine
was some kind of breakfast at half past ten,
and then one of those premixed cans of Gin & Tonic
before The Lord Clyde opened at 11.

But you'd travelled down, specifically,
on the off chance that you'd see me.

And as we cut across, towards Upper Street,
I'm not phased and I'm not disturbed.
Except only that,
The New Rose doesn't open until 11 o'clock either.

We turn left, and pass Slim Jim's,
and down towards Angel.
The York is open,
and in the sunshine, you oblige.
A double Bombay and a slimline
carries shifting connotations:
but acceptable in pairs
at this side of noon.

You wince, push away your glass,
and ask me for a single.
I tell you I'll do a swap,
but sink it straight down at the bar.

We catch the Northern line to King's Cross,
then the Piccadilly to Covent Garden.

We stroll down the Embankment
toward the face of Big Ben.

Pass Parliament Square,
where placards speak only
to tourists.

Through the back streets of Westminster;
just drifting, barely talking.
Well aware that

the tone of your visit,
and the ease of my welcome,
does not go a very long way
for respective stabilities.

We drink in a pub called The Speaker.
As the gin takes its toll,
you use the Gents' loo by mistake.

Eventually, you fall asleep,
by the fountain at the Palace,

and leave me,
not to question,
but to revel in
the opposite.


A fling, at best.
We met in a nightclub in Coventry,
so I guess we were always doomed.
Sharing a bath at the Holiday Inn,
and then fucking on the bathroom floor.

You'd find out which festivals I was playing,
and then sign up as a volunteer
so you could find me backstage.
On the Isle of Wight,
at Bestival,
we met, and fucked,
for the final time.
A dark night in September,
before I sank beneath the surface.

A week later,
I moved back from London
to home.
I slept, right through Christmas,
and haven't heard from you

18 Dec 2015

Kellingley Colliery (1965-2015)

Every day as usual -
before the birds had cleared their throats -
he'd wake in a room,
dark as most ever see,
and creak to the kitchen:
four sugars,
in his pint of tea.

The Deputy does not carry coal,
but a burden just as heavy:
he's to head in first,
with his lamp and his nerve,
and satisfy his judgement

that without a single
doubt to shirk
the pit is fit
for lads to work.

Only, in those last days,
he need only be half awake,
as he trudged down
a well worn path,
with the frame of
the colliery
emerging as a

No need to check the mine.
He couldn't get past the picket.
But still, he'd have to phone his gaffer;
reporting in for vacant duty.

Day in, day out, day in, day out:
just as usual.

Lads he loved like brothers,
after years of risking life and limb,
united on the picket line;
where chance of work
was less than slim.

He'd to stand there,
and watch them:
either broken, or breaking,
or stone cold

His Deputy uniform
His authority
His verdict:

And they sent in
all these coppers.
Shipped in
from elsewhere;
or London,
or somewhere else

And he could only watch
in disgust
as they taunted the
picketing miners;
wafting notes
that floated on
as though they were
prodding a caged up
As though they were
a caged up

It was so much more
than a job.
It was so much more
than a career.
It was his life;
his pride,
and his honour.
and livelihoods:

being torn apart
before his eyes
by those employed
to serve and protect us.

To my Granddad,
it was on that day
that the mines
had closed forever.

This was no longer
the industry
that he chose to invest
his life in.

The vultures were circling
and hacking away;
ripping flesh
like coal from the earth,
as full grown men
like toddlers.

And today,
at the Kellingley Colliery,
we see our final
Deep coal mining
to history.
Thousands of lives
now betrayed
and abandoned.
Thousands of existences
struck off
as stories.

It's a sad day
for the country.
It's a sad day
for the region
It's a sad day
for the industry.

It's a sad day.

Kellingley Colliery:

My Granddad, George Abbott, in the orange

14 Dec 2015

Mind The Gap (aka The Bootle Platform Dash)

A 100m pulse race down the platform:
switching carriages
for strength in numbers
at Bootle Oriel Road.

7 boys. 7 girls.
Mismatched, but slowly adjusting.

"Am I hurting you?"
she asks,
at Bootle New Strand,
as she tentatively perches
on knees brimming with pride.

"No way,"
he asserts,
with cheeks still flushed.

It could be all the way
to Southport,
or across to San Francisco;
his knees will never falter
whilst others catch their breaths.

His coat: Lyle & Scott.
Her scent: Gucci Rush.
His hand, on her thigh,
at Waterloo,
retreating to a brush.

To them, at 26,
I am just another adult.
A world away from their parents,
yet a world away from their peers:

As I stand to leave,
at Blundellsands & Crosby,
I notice his knees trembling.
A knowing smile,
as I step into the drizzle.

12 years,
and none the wiser.

1 Dec 2015

Between Subbuteo Fixtures

Hidden in the attic,
as though the referees wore Bernard's Watch;
Subbuteo heroes
await on tenterhooks.
Reporter's notepads at the ready;
teamsheets scribbled in Period 5,
when I should've been taking homework.
Alien Ant Farm on cassette, on repeat
(the original Smooth Criminal to untrained ears),
and my Nokia 3210.

Sammi confirmed that Gemma said "yes"
from the opposite side of the court.
Wimbledon hooked everyone that summer.
Subbuteo subbed for backhand swings.
With hands that read:
"Gemma 'n' Matty 4eva",
in scented pen.
With hands shrivelled by sweat
throughout Tomb Raider
at Cineworld.
Neither knowing when
to let go.

The pranks calls ceased on the landline.
You'd always let it ring twice,
so that nobody picked up,
but knowing I'd always call back.
A few dates postponed.
Subbuteo resumed.
And then a text,
on the 3210,
in injury time.
"I'm dumping you for James Thompson."
We'd lasted 7 days.