Rage On the Road

They turn up in their cable-knit sweaters and cord trousers to nod amicably to observations about hedgerows in spring. They quaff half-pints of session ale and continental lager, red wine and soft drinks ‘because it’s a school night’ even though half of them are retired. They chat amiably about this and that, this and that, thus and that, primarily who has a book launch event coming up, who’s event they went to and whatever beautifully-crafted collection they’ve just read. It was recommended by so-and so, and so-and-so other did a simply delightful job of the artwork and so-and-so else gave their apologies but had recently had an accident or injury or was otherwise incapacitated or engaged… The poetry set. The ageing, the mumsy, the middle class pseudo-sophisticates… the middlebrow, nicey-nicey, bland-as-fuck head-in-the-sand dinner-party chatterers who think a mild swipe at Cameron set to an acoustic rendition of some 60s pop hit qualifies as edgy, pithy and political…

I don’t sit comfortably with the poetry set. Nevertheless, I occasionally raid their spoken word nights as an uninvited guest. Sometimes, I’m invited to perform, too.

The momentum of the Rage Monologues may not have gathered quite the pace I’d hoped for in the last couple of months, but April’s calendar so far looks rather like this:

April 23rd – Nevermind, York (5-7pm)

April 25th – Basement, York (7:30pm start)

Expect rage. Expect to see me die. Slowly and painfully. Get in touch via Facebook / Twitter / whatever if you’d like me to come and spill fiery venom at your event. Will rant for beer.

Thoughts, Images, Sounds….

I hadn’t been especially late to bed and had slept reasonably well, at least in comparison to the last two or three weeks. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve not been sleeping well lately. However tired I am, however much or little alcohol I consume during the evening, whether I go to be early or late, whether I have to be up or not, I’ve been waking up consistently a little before five in the morning. Once awake, I lie wondering how long it is before the alarm (the clock isn’t on my side of the bed, and the hands on my old, second-hand, wind-up watch are not luminous). I’m always aware that I’ve been dreaming long and hard, but can never recall any of the details, and more often than not, even the main body of the dream evaporates on waking. All I know is that my mind has been working overtime and I’m even more exhausted on waking than when I turn out the light – or leave it on, along with the television or radio in an attempt to create a background hum that will induce rest. And while Mrs N sleeps soundly through everything, nothing works for me.

So once again I awoke before the alarm and lay, semi-comatose and half-paralysed, too awake to return to sleep, to dopey to get up and commence any kind of constructive activity. It’s a little like anaesthesia, or how I imagine a Ketamine trip to feel. I haul myself out of bed and make myself ready without breaking free of my zombified state.

I open the front door. It’s light, despite being a minute before 7am. The street is bright and empty. I feel on the one hand that Spring really is just around the corner. On the other hand, it’s cold and silent and I feel as though the end of the world is nigh, or, worse still, that the world ended in the night and I am alone in this disconsolate, pot-apocalyptic northern city. Actually, would that really be worse?

Shunning thoughts of the 2012 prophecy to the back of my mind and plugging myself into my MP3 player – not a slick iPod with infinite capacity, but a 2-Gig Alba purchased 3 years ago from Netto – I head townwards with The Psychedelic Furs’ eponymous debut in my ears.

Walking onwards, ever onwards, and encountering no other pedestian and only a handful of cyclists who speed past me, I kept my eyes open and absorb whatever presents itself. I inhaled deeply and drank in the cool morning, my senses unravelling and my receptors slowly coming to life. The air was cold and clear, the ground dry, a frost on the roofs glinting against the clear sky. A mist hung over the Ouse. The water level was relatively low and the water still save for the occasional ripple of rising fish. Lendal Bridge was reflected almost perfectly, the infrequent cars crossing the bridge also crossing in them inverted version on the water below.

The bus is on time. I take a seat and pull my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Diary from my bag. I’ve only been reading it for the last three days (and I only get to read in small chunks) but I’m already 30 pages in. The best thing about the bus part of the journey is that I’ve recently discovered that I can read on busses without becoming travel-sick. Two stops on and I’m compressed into half of my seat as some gargantuan, lumbering, fantasy-novel-reading behemoth had parked herself beside me. Her massive bulk occupies a full seat and a half and she’s still hanging into the aisle, her Kindle e-book reader looking like a PDA in proportion to her colossal, hulking frame. She smells, too. I feel nauseous, but fight the gag reflex in favour of soaking in the details of her pungent wet do aroma, her plum-coloured quilted coat, like a giant slippery sleeping bag. I can hear her wheezing even over the sound of ‘Flowers’. It’s painful, awkward and uncomfortable, but I remind myself, ‘this is research’.

For once, I am relieved to arrive at work.

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