A poem in which a pharmacist is objectified in rhyming couplets…


yellowknife mind

There’s a place in my mind
where everything’s free
And no one is sad
— not even me

A place where the sky
is as wide as it’s deep
And the clouds floating by
seem to sing us to sleep

The fish in the lake
hum along like a choir
And the heavenly song
rises higher and higher

It’s a place where the sun
sends its love-giving rays
to shine though the nights
as well as the days

In this place all our dreams
tumble out of our sleep
and our hopes start to rise
and our hearts start to leap

The loved ones we’ve lost
come knocking again
as happiness falls
and soaks us like rain

In this place in my mind
it’s easy to be
There’s nothing to do
— except love and be free

(c) inkyjim



And yet
so alone

Each mind
walled off
by prison

Each skull
a fort
Each rib
a bar

So near
we get
And still
so far

The heart
of you
will never
fully visible
to me

And what
you’ll see
is what
I’ll show

And what
I don’t
you’ll never

And even if
I don’t
but show
it all
you’ll still

from out
of you
and on
to me

So you’ll
see you
You won’t
see me

And though
I try
my self
to tame

I’ll look
at you
and do
the same


wobbly dog dreams

The wobbly dog
liked to lie on the rug
stretched out by the fire
all cosy and snug

He’d look tired and sleepy
and wrinkly and slow
But inside of his mind
he was raring to go

He’d lie on his tum
and he’d dream and he’d dream
of running through forests
and dashing through streams

Of chasing the rabbits
and hunting the hares
Wild and free
in a life with no cares

But Wobbly Dog
had a job and a wife
He had no time
for a wild, free life

There were the puppies
One, Two and Three
And he and his wife
raised their dog family

They worried and worked
as they struggled to give
their pups all the things
that are needed to live

Their cares wore them down
their backs, they would bend
“A dog’s life,” they said,
“is all work without end”

“We always feel tired
and worn out and fussed
We struggle to finish
the things that we must”

“We’ve owners to walk
and postmen to threaten
Sticks to fetch
and lamp-posts to wet on”

“We’ve got bones to gnaw
and tails to chase
And children to lick
all over the face”

“There are kittens to scare
and slippers to chew
And woofing and barking
and growling to do”

They worked and they worked
every day of their life
but Wobbly Dog loved
his wobbly wife

And his wobbly pups
numbers One, Two and Three
would fill him with joy
as they sat on his knee

So Wobbly Dog hugged
his pups and his wife
and said, “Don’t let’s worry
or moan about life”

“Remember,” he said
“It’s more than it seems
There’s a wonderful time
to be had in our dreams”

And at night, while they slept
he would lie on his paunch
and off to the land of his dreams
he would launch

For he had a world
inside of his head
A place he could go to
when all were in bed

A land where he ran
at the head of a pack
with squirrels to chase
and foxes to track

Where lesser dogs cowered
at the might of his howl
And enemies fled
at the hint of a scowl

His teeth, they were sharper
His claws, they were red
in this wild, free land
inside of his head

And each night, while the pups
lay asleep in their beds
They too went to lands
deep inside of their heads

They would play and they’d laugh
on adventures galore
with running and howling
and hunting and more

For the magic of dreams
will set little minds free
and take them to places
where they want to be

And even for grown-ups
the same thing is true
They also have things
that they long to do

And though Wobbly Dog
looked so sleepy and slow
the inside of his mind
was magic and so

with his wobbly pups
and his wobbly wife
and his dreams, he lived out
a perfect dog’s life.

(c) inkyjim


the next-door neighbour’s laugh

The next-door neighbour’s laugh
doesn’t mean to be violent

It sells houses
cleans the car
each weekend
and seems content with that

The next-door neighbour’s laugh
enjoys barbecuing
painting fences
Plays golf once a week
Fucks the wife on Sundays

The next-door neighbour’s laugh
would be kindly
if it stopped at the fence

But to them it feels like an attack

That raucous rattle
rips through their careful
clipped-conifer defences
and flails at their frail flesh

It tears at their tattered truce
and lashes their lonely lives
with a lead-tipped levity
that leaves them limp and lost

They never acknowledge it

But the mirth shreds them
in their sodden trench

Boom, boom

The guffaws rain like mortars
on the barren no man’s land of their home,
cratering the places no one dares to go
pummelling the unspoken mud
scattering remains long dead

When it’s over
reproach falls coldly
from the sky
Hangs over the scene like gas

All is smothered

He tuts and returns to his book
She to her television

In a house nearby
someone turns up the music

words on the internet


The first woman I ever fell in love with was a private detective. She worked out of an agency in Los Angeles. It was a small operation, just two other detectives, an office manager and a boss she never saw.

She was smart and perceptive and beautiful. She knew how to handle herself and how to use a gun. She had the biggest brownest eyes I’d ever seen, the whitest teeth and a smile that, when it dimpled her cheeks, made my insides leap like a dog after a biscuit.

I used to gaze at her and feel my heart try to leave my body. It felt like my chest would open, my ribs would part and that bloody beating heart would tear free and fly through the air to be near her. It was an intensity of feeling I had never experienced before and it untethered me.

I could only see her once a week. Just one evening that I would think about constantly until the next. Sometimes the longing would be so great during the intervening days that I would say her name quietly to myself, as though I could conjure her. I would write tiny messages on small bits of balled up paper, reminders of how much she meant to me.

Part of the pain of it was always knowing how impossible it was. She lived in LA. I lived on a lower middle-class housing estate in England. She was a clever, beautiful woman with a career and a pistol. I was a skinny, lonely schoolboy with a dachshund and a retractable pencil.

She was a fictional character solving crimes in a pretence of real America. I was a real boy living a pretend life in a Britain largely of my own imagination.

It could never work.

But, gosh, how I loved her.


the push of the asphalt

As the T-shirts have said
Do not wait to be happy
Don’t save living until things are achieved
And everything sorted
Do it now

Listen to the wind in the bushes
Feel the asphalt love against your feet
Be curious. Especially about yourself
And be gentle
Above all, be gentle

Take care around those who are not
They hurt, for they know not what they do
Watch them. And learn from them
what happens when rightness is prized
over being kind.

Before they die
– if they are lucky –
something will wake them
Some deep loss, or breakdown, or tragedy
will shake them alive.

Be there when this happens
And help them
You have love to spare

words on the internet

three swans

The morning started with a surprise: three swans flying over my house startled me at the exact moment I opened my bedroom curtain. Their downy bellies were the first thing I saw as I looked out. They were glowing softly with the light of a sun that hadn’t yet made it over the horizon. In my shock I seemed to feel the waft of their wings and the ripple of their necks as they passed like waves crashing over me.

And there was their sound. So difficult to put into words. Almost a honk and almost a swish. Like a herald, but of something secret, something so precious it must only be whispered about.

It was barely a second or two before they were gone. But something of them seemed to remain in the sky. It was rain grey, scored by the dark branches of a large dying tree in my neighbour’s garden. To the east, where the swans had come from, a low band of palest yellow was rising.


my dad is big

My dad is big
His arms are wide
He’s warm from all
the good inside

He likes to eat
my mum’s éclairs
And plays jazz music
on the stairs

And when he tucks
me into bed
sometimes he falls
asleep instead

and I lie really
really still
and hope that
if I do he will

snore beside me
like a bear
It feels so good
to have him there

But then he wakes
and kisses me
and goes downstairs
to watch TV

And all the warmth
he’s left behind
is like a blanket
for my mind

My dad is big
His arms are wide
He’s soft and warm
and kind inside



My lovely balloon, my helium balloon

has gone up in the air

I let go for a second

Now my balloon’s no longer there


I’d held on very tightly

to the ribbon while we walked

home from the shops

my mum and I

She’d listened while I talked


I told her how I loved my balloon

Happy Birthday You Are Four!

it said in big gold letters

I shan’t see any more


Mum said four’s a big-boy age

I’d be a grown-up soon

And wasn’t I a clever chap

for choosing such a balloon?


My helium balloon, my lovely balloon

It flew up in the sky

and drifted over rooftops

wobbling goodbye.



flat earth

The world is round
a big blue ball
But doesn’t seem
that way at all

Here in the grass
where I have sat
the world looks green
and fairly flat.

words on the internet


From my notebook a year ago. A stroll that has stayed with me. There was something special in the air that night:

I took the dog for a walk in the dark this evening and the streets were so still and quiet. The sky was clear and it was cold, but there was moisture in the air around us. The stars seemed to float over houses washed with mist. There was no moon.

The area was more silent than I have ever known it. We passed houses with lights on and curtains open. The people inside looked flushed and happy. The streets were deserted except for a lone couple who seemed to be heading from one family gathering to another.

We exchanged quiet smiles as we passed beneath an amber street lamp. The silence was so thick that no one dared break it, not even to say Merry Christmas. The two of them were portly and middle-aged. One had a beard and both were wearing crowns of golden cardboard. If there had been three of them it would have been perfect.


the dog has eaten jesus

The dog has eaten Jesus
Oh Lord, what a sin!
The one true Christ, our saviour,
The dog has eaten Him

She pulled him from the manger
in his swaddling cloth
And there, beneath the Christmas tree,
she bit his head right off

The dog has eaten Jesus
Such heathen mongrel tricks!
Oh, heretic blasphemer
greyhound-lurcher mix

She’s gone and swallowed Jesus
The Lord is in her now
Everything that bad dog does
will be holier than thou.

words on the internet


To live a human life is to be an ocean. Currents and tides are always moving. There is a surface that can glisten, reflecting the light of the moon and the sun. And there are profound mysterious depths that can be dark.

It is common to fear the depths, to struggle always for the light and the comfort of the surface. The depths can seem cold and scary. We fear monsters lurk there. But they are also where meaning is found. They can be a source of wisdom and beauty and significance, and we can befriend them.

A full life includes space to be curious about the sadness and discomfort in the dark. It is a thing to approach slowly, with care and with gentleness. It is not something to overdo, but you do not need to fight or be afraid.

To swim in the sun with the waves cresting around us is joyful. When we do that it is not just the surface that is buoying us up. It is the whole ocean.  

words on the internet

treat all dharmas as dreams

My phone one day a few months back: “Ocean temperatures hit record high showing ‘irrefutable and accelerating’ heating of the planet.”

What world is this where a ping can mean either a funny text from my daughter or a news alert like that?

Treat all dharmas as dreams

It works back to front too.

I spend much of my life in fantasy worlds. I always have. I think it’s how I get by. I love stories and I love pretending. But I’ve felt apologetic about it. It’s childish — a way of hiding from reality. Surely it would best if I lived more firmly in the real world, if I was more of a grown up, more of a man?

I’m not so sure any more. I’m deciding that my imagination is as valid as anything else. That may be mistaken, but this world is tough going right now.

So forgive me if sometimes I prefer to spend time in the Hundred Acre Wood, or Charlie’s chocolate factory, or the Forest of Arden. And forgive me if I disappear sometimes into places and times that I’ve made inside my own head. I’m choosing not to be so shy about it any more. It’s how I soothe myself, where I find strength. My dreams are dharmas — and refuges and retreats.

I sit here at my desk listening to speeches and churning out news scripts. That used to be exciting. These days it could depress the hell out of me — except I’m also an Oompa Loompa turning out Wonka bars. The butterball president droning on and on and on about how great he is is really Augustus Gloop. There’s a river of chocolate, and pipes to the fudge room. All it takes is a slip…

The world needs us to act, but it also needs us to get by. I think dreaming is how I do that. It may even be my superpower.



a poem in which I get seriously upstaged

bird – a poem (c)

Copy and paste this link to share:


didn’t i used to be young?

A washed-up snivelling wallow disguised as a poem. Sometimes the moment gets what it deserves…

didn’t i used to be young — a poem (c)

words on the internet


…. This is quite old. My mum has also gone since I wrote this. But I was thinking of my dad the other day (I was using his tools) and I remembered this and thought I’d post it ….

 People say grief doesn’t move in straight lines it moves in waves. What’s not always said is that the waves are more like the kind you get on a pond than in the sea. A pond can be flat for a while; the ducks go back to tending their nests, the frogs creep out to test their voices. And then something – a smell, a place, a memory of something shared – goes plop, and a stone hits the water.

 Sometimes it doesn’t even seem to take a stone. Something will bubble up from nowhere, like methane from the mud, and off go the circles. Unlike a pond, the waves don’t always diminish as they move outwards. Sometimes they get bigger and the waves from one loss can touch off another until the pond is not a pond anymore, it’s a whirlpool and it feels like you’re drowning – and all because someone was wearing the same aftershave, or you heard a song, or saw a place name on a map.

The stone for me this time was wrapping paper, or maybe Sellotape. Suddenly it was Christmas and I was back in that small house, in the tiny hallway outside the shut door of the living room (the front room we used to call it, although it was at the back). That door was never closed.  Never ever. Except for one time a year. And that was the time when Mum and Dad would shut themselves in to wrap Christmas presents. What exquisite torture it was to be an eight-year-old and to stand in pyjamas in that hallway and press my ear to the door and listen for the rustle of paper and the screech of my dad’s Sellotape dispenser.

Dad was a careful wrapper. His gifts, no matter what they were – a chocolate selection box, a Scalextric set, even a bag of marbles – all looked beautiful by the time he’d finished. He wrapped with care. Mum says he used to use a ruler. (How would he use a ruler?)

Dad did everything with care. He was gentle and warm and kind and funny, and I miss him so very, very much. I miss his arms, so big and soft, and how they would enfold me. I miss the smell of him and the warmth of him. His smile, his laugh and the way that he stood between me and anything that was bad in the world. He was my champion and my best friend. And he was the ground. He held me up.

Waves upon waves. Missing my dad, I found myself thinking about Gena for the first time in weeks. Gena was my friend. We didn’t know each other for a long time. We weren’t old school friends or anything like that, but Gena was there for me in one of the very darkest periods of my life. And I don’t know if I’d be here if it wasn’t for her.

She was what people call a free spirit (although she’d scoff and groan and roll her eyes at an expression like that). A musician. She had hair that was sometimes pink, sometimes black, most often the colour of copper. She played keyboards and guitar and wore Dr Marten’s boots before they were revived. And she sang. Boy did she sing. She sang jazz. She sang punk rock. She sang wild, crazy songs that she wrote herself – some of them fizzing with anger, some weird, and some haunting and sad.

And she did gutsy things that I dreamed of doing but didn’t dare. She bought a plane ticket, dropped everything in London and took her guitar to New York. She sang in bars and slept on sofas until months later, after September the eleventh, she came home. Sadder.

She taught me to sing Elvis songs and Sinatra. She used to say that people worried too much about what kind of voice they had or how well they could carry a tune. For her it was always about the song. If you believed it and you sang it with all your heart, it didn’t matter what kind of voice you had; people would feel the connection and would respond. She made me test the theory once by standing on a desk and belting out New York, New York to a room full of strangers. It was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done – and possibly one of the least popular music events of all time. To this day I still don’t know how she got me to do it.

I’m not sure her theory worked for me. (I didn’t seem to make many connections.) But it worked for her. Her voice was not what’s generally considered a beautiful voice. It wasn’t conventional. Her voice had gravel in it, grit – and she didn’t have a huge range. But she sang with her whole heart.

Once, at a party, in a friend’s kitchen she sang Stormy Weather. She just stood there next to the sink holding a bottle of beer and sang it. No backing. People stopped talking to listen. A few looked like they would cry. It was one of the saddest, loneliest performances I’d ever heard, and it was beautiful. But I missed the significance of it. Stupidly. I just didn’t think.

And then I got married. Gena came to the wedding in a dress and boots. And for a wedding present she gave us a big book of songs, jazz standards. I’ve got it right here.

And then I never saw her again.

My wife and I had our first child and, as sometimes happens, we became preoccupied. We lost touch with people. It was at least two years before I tried to find Gena again. By then she had gone.

Now sometimes I listen back to her recordings and I kick myself. It’s all there. In her crazy songs (…don’t turn away, it’s the least you can do. Catch me, I’m falling…) and in her voice. The story, her pain, it was all there all along. Stormy Weather. There in plain sight. But I didn’t see it and I didn’t help. I was too wrapped up in myself.

Gena, I miss you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you like you were for me. I missed it. I just didn’t see. Forgive me.

There is a poem by Rupert Brooke called ‘Dust’. I first saw it in an old second-hand book. Brooke seems to be writing about romantic love, but the poem always reminds me of my dad. Maybe that’s because I’ve seen his ashes — grey dust in a polythene bag inside a small green box. Dad liked boxes. He liked things neat. And there he is. Dust. Waiting for my mother, still going strong three years later. Waiting for their six decades of marriage to resume again, their ashes to mingle as we scatter them together – as we plan to do – on the sea off the beach where we spent so many holidays.

The poem starts:

“When the white flame in us is gone,

And we that lost the world’s delight

Stiffen in darkness, left alone

To crumble in our separate night;”

But it’s the sixth stanza that always gets me. The first time I read it made me gasp. I thought of my dad and of how much I want to see him again.

“Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,

Till, beyond thinking, out of view,

One mote of all the dust that’s I

Shall meet one atom that was you.”

I think it’s the possibility that hurts so much. And wanting it so.

I miss him so much.


small talk

He is talking again.

“We are just waves,”
he says,
“Rising and falling in the dark.
“Swell, on a godless ocean.”

She indulges him
with her eyes.

“Our memories are nothing,”
he says,
“Just the moonlight
on the cresting water.”

“We rise, we fall,”
she says.

“We break,”
he says,
“Over and over.
“We always break.”

“But there are tides,”
she says,
“And currents.
“They are deep, surely.”

The urgency in her voice
makes them both laugh.

Their feet touch beneath the table and
they lean in and join hands. He can smell her hair.
A waiter brings more drinks.

They talk about something else.

‐——- (c) inkyjim ——–



Good morning, Mr Magpie
One – two – three
Please don’t make
bad luck for me

I live at number thirteen
I’ve stepped on lots of cracks
My mirror’s broken and black cats
have run across my tracks

I sneezed three times
as I walked under a ladder
So please, Mr Magpie
don’t make me any sadder

I’ve got a four-leaved clover
And I’ve spat and spun around
I’ve kissed a rabbit’s foot
And picked up a penny I found

I’ve wished upon a star
crossed my fingers
knocked on wood
So please, Mr Magpie
let my luck be good.

—- (c) inkyjim —-


i took my grief to see a poet

I took my grief to see a poet

I told her death hurt

And that I was going to die

And my children were going to die

And their childen were going to die

And so was she

And love could not save us

The world would shrug

And forget

The poet said grief was not poetry

I should keep it in a drawer

I took my grief to see a wise woman

She told me death hurts

And that I am going to die

And my children are going to die

And their childen are going to die

And so is she

And the world will shrug at us

And forget

She told me to buy a notebook

I keep it in a drawer

words on the internet


I miss vapour trails.

And coffee shops.

Tattooed barista girls, buskers, and kissing people on the cheek.

I miss walking through London, being invisible, imagining the worlds behind each face. I miss the plaques that say Dickens Lived Here, or Saki, Jimi Hendrix or Canaleto. I miss the woman who stands outside Waterloo Station shouting Jesus Loves You.

I miss mojito ice lollies on my way home, slurping as I walk, chewing the lime slice. I miss the theatre, and stationery shops, and staring across the Thames from a crowded footbridge. The moon over Trafalgar Square. The sun over Oxford Street. The dusty electric smell of the Underground.

I miss crowded commuter trains. I really miss them. I hadn’t realised how much thinking I do on trains. So many clouds seen from windows, sorted into shapes or omens or, once, even a version of myself swooping and soaring through the sky.

The trains still run here, high up on the railway embankment. But they are empty now. Not a single tiny head in any of the lighted windows. And the trains sound different too. They are lighter. They rattle past in a higher key.

No one close to us has died. The deaths are still numbers on the news. But the sadness laps at our feet. There is a cheerfulness among our neighbours that seems unreal. A coming together that smells lightly of hysteria, of a desperation to be normal, to not look at the dark.

So much has changed in so little time.

I pass a car dealership as I walk my dog. The new cars on the forecourt are thick with dust.

Everything is different now.


rapunzel updated

If Rapunzel had been a girl with shorter hair
The prince might just have left her there.
Or, if she’d gone completely bald,
Stood beneath the tower and called: 

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, I’ll restore your beauty
I am your prince, it is my duty.
The royal budget’s very big
We’ll get a blonde and glossy wig.”

Rapunzel in the magic tower
Would summon all of her girl power
And shout down from a high window
To the royal jerk below:

“I guess it’s sweet that you’re impassioned
But, dude, your views are so old fashioned
I’m more than hair or eyes or teeth
You’d be surprised what lies beneath

And my life’s my responsibility
I don’t need you to rescue me
I’m not some trinket on a shelf
I handle witches by myself
I won’t dress up for your male gaze
Or swoon at sexist power plays
You say you want me for a wife?
Sorry, no. I love my life

Please, pop your sword back in its sheath
Un-grin those shining royal teeth
We’re working hard here Witch and me
To overthrow the patriarchy
We’re printing flyers – see my blisters –
For distribution to the sisters
You’d better warn them in the town
This monarchy is coming down.

And when it’s done, when we are equal,
Come on back, we’ll try a sequel
But let me say this plain and clear:
You will not find a wifey here.
When we hook up it’s just for sex
You’ve got nice eyes – and awesome pecs.”

———- (c) inkyjim ———– 



My legs are long and useful things
I’ve two of them you know
I swing them forward one by one
to get where I would go

They stretch from thighs right down to toes
with knees set halfway there
They’re also good for standing up
I’m glad I’ve got a pair

——- (c) inkyjim ——


my daughter is a highwayman

My daughter is a highwayman
She rides a black toy horse
She fills our house with lusty cries
and threats of deadly force
She gallops round the living room
atop her rocking steed
and dreams up lots of lethal plots
with violence and greed

This morning as I wandered
from the kitchen down the hall
I felt a dagger in my ribs
and heard her frightening call
‘It’s pocket money day!’ she cried
I felt my blood run cold
‘I’m Catherine the highwayman
so pay me lots of gold’

I fumbled in my pocket
for a pound and 50p
‘Here’, I blubbed, ‘that’s all I’ve got
Work hasn’t yet paid me’
She snarled into her neckerchief
and spat a vile curse
She said, ‘You bring me more next week
or things will get much worse’

My daughter is a highwayman
It’s money or my life
I get no help from friends, the police
or even from my wife
They believe her when she tells them
that it’s just a bit of fun
They will not take her plastic sword
or confiscate her gun

My daughter is a highwayman
My wife says I’m too meek
but I’m afraid of what she’ll do
if I can’t pay next week

——-(c) inkyjim ——-


love’s enemy

Poison drops of curséd moonlight
Infernal orbs by Satan cussed
Charméd pearls that kill a swoon-like
Kisser’s ardour.
Looters of love’s sacred trust
Evil bulbs repulsing lovers
Drowning hearts in acid must

Once you were a source of pleasure
Now you are a cause of pain
I ate you and then kissed my treasure
Orlanda won’t kiss me again
Now I steep in her displeasure
Silverskins of cold disdain.

—— (c) inkyjim ——

words on the internet

real spam

Two things.

Something has gone wrong with my email spam filter. I’ve been thinking about the concept of multiple realities. In physics and philosophy there are several theories and ways to get to that second idea. (I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

In an infinite universe (or series of universes) for example, if the building blocks of matter are the same, then every possible arrangement of those particles will necessarily exist somewhere, no matter how complicated.

Another theory is linked to somebody’s cat (it was Schroedinger) and to the idea that electrons orbiting a nucleus can be circling clockwise or anti-clockwise until you look at them. Once you’ve seen them they only ever go one way. Explaining the difference that looking makes is difficult. An idea that I read is backed by the majority of physicists is that there is some kind of split at the point of observation — like limbs branching from a tree. (I really do have no idea what I’m talking about.)

If you look and see the electrons spinning clockwise that becomes your reality and is the branch you subsequently follow. The other reality, where they spin the other way, also exists but is no longer available to you. Life is a series of decision points at which different versions of you break off and follow different branches into different realities, while you continue on the only path available given your choices.


Somewhere out across the vast emptiness of space-time there is another James, just like me, who is also getting all this spam.

But for him the offers are real.

For him there really is a single lotion to take away all his aches and pains, another to eliminate signs of aging, and pills that, overnight, will render him svelte and a sexual god. The IMF really has mandated the Kenyan Ministry of Finance to send him $7.8 million if he’ll only supply his bank details, and dozens of beautiful Russian women really are just dying to take him on dates.

Have fun James. Enjoy it while it lasts. Any second someone might check on those electrons. They may not be spinning the way you assume.

words on the internet

mr magic

The people on the 6.35 to Waterloo are an odd bunch, but they work very hard. While I’m staring out the window at the clouds they spend lots of time on laptops. Half move numbers from one column to another for reasons I have no hope of understanding. Most of the others seem to work in marketing.

One man, who I first noticed a few months ago, has been writing a book about selling. I’ve been reading it over his shoulder. It’s the pseudo-scientific kind, with pat summaries of small psychological studies. Lots of talk of brain function and serotonin levels, that sort of thing. He’s been working on it for ages and I’ve become fascinated.

He’s in his forties, designer casual, trendy haircut, Chelsea boots, and expensive glasses – a successful marketing man with knowledge to pass on. His draft is on an Apple Macbook. Passages that he’s not sure about are in red and he revises them as we trundle through Wimbledon to Charing Cross.

Some days I’ve felt mildly jealous. He’s clearly more successful than me. He’s got more hair too. And I wish I was that close to finishing a book. But his chapter today touched a particular nerve. It was all about The Power of Stories. 

Stories, he wrote, can really connect people. Something special happens to the mind when we share them. He quoted studies suggesting that brain chemistry is affected,  and others showing that stories help people access emotions that are otherwise unavailable to them. This helps them to empathise with situations and people that they otherwise wouldn’t.

“Stories move people,” he wrote. “The effect can be very powerful.”
Then he went on to describe how this might be deployed to sell people things they otherwise wouldn’t want.

Part of me wanted to bash his head in with his Macbook. Another bit just felt sad.

words on the internet

helter skelter

Delusion stalks me like a lovelorn ex. Sometimes it feels like I camp at the edge of a kind of madness. It’s like all I would ever have to do is stop clinging on, just let myself descend.
I recall a red tower from my childhood. It is a helter skelter. I seem to live at the top of this metaphorical cliché. The stiff and shifting bristles of the mat press hard against my legs. I feel their scent in my nostrils – dry grass and old dust and cleaning products. (This cannot be a real memory.) I see the word ‘welcome’ in dark letters.
My childish pink hands grip the cold red metal of the chute. There is a novelty plastic ring on one of my fingers. The tiny grey face of an ape, or maybe a skull, girns back at me.
I live at the top. All I’d ever have to do is let go. Just stop holding on. Unflex those little hands. Slide. Lunacy would be waiting, its arms wide and soft.


mike’s bike

My friend Mike
likes riding on his bike
He rides it all over the town
Mike says, “I like
to ride upon my bike
It’s like walking,
but also sitting down.”

—- (c) inkyjim —-