Alt Power: The Inequality of Furniture Distributionย 

I’m on a bus. In Altrincham, I’m discussing the merits of alternative power generation. I’m arguing for power that is fun, and makes you laugh. Not necessarily a reliable power source. 

We pass a domed steampunk building, curved metal pyramid layers. At the end of the street, houses like washing machines. All steel angles and giant round glass. I’m upset I never came here before. It’s within a days bus journey. I remember a reality TV show set in the building. 
I’m walking to a meeting along the seafront. I’m carrying placards, that in the sunlight become crosses in my shadow. I see Matt P working outside a pub. I think how much that suits him. A failing fire juggler makes me laugh. He’s enjoying himself. I pass a child feeling existential angst at my potential protest. I’m amazed at her youthful vocabulary. I arrive at the squatted cafe where the protest will begin. I lay my placards among the others. My slogans are silly and sarcastic, one calling for a petition against another group there. An old man falls out with a young man by offering him an empty sweet wrapper. I notice a table where the important people sit, while I sit on the floor. 
The inequality of furniture distribution. 

Sex Master 3000

Richard Dawkins is on tv, some kind of shopping channel. He is naked. Luckily, I can only see him from the waist up, the lower part of the screen covered by images of the DVDs he’s selling. He’s making pelvic thrusting motions. I realise he’s having sex with someone unseen. He’s advertising Sex Master 3000, the ultimate course in lovemaking. I feel a little sick. 

9/11 on Sidwell Street

Crossing the border 

By the ghost Eastgate

Dark clouds gather in the East,

Sunlight from the West,

Into the dark lands

Chavs shout,


Pavement blocked 

By bus queues.


Bombard the damned

Who live and love beyond 

The ideal worlds 

Of Next

And John Lewis 

Whose aspirations 

Are found in Poundland 

And deep frozen in Iceland .

Fallout From Syriaย 

I’m in Israel or Palestine. A relative has had me voluntarily sectioned. I’m in s drab, grey room. Rubbish is strewn across the floor. The relative, a posh woman, has a dog with her. It’s a present. Somethng for me to hug. The dog digs his feet in as she tries to drag it over to me. It’s terrified of me. I must be a monster. They leave. I try to figure out a complicated lamp, and increase the illumination. There’s a tv. Every channel displays a world wind map, showing nuclear fallout drifting from the Syria bombing, across the globe. Huge numbers of people will die. 
I leave the room. The sanatorium is more like a hotel. I’m only booked in for a few days. I go down in a lift, to explore outside. A doctor in the lift talks to me about s difficult patient. A fruit display is arranged like a human arm. 
I’m exploring a medieval castle, on the Jewish side, everywhere here is separated between Muslim and Jew. It’s a lovely ruin. At the top, I see people setting up for a performance. They’re all volunteers. They rig a PA system and lights, and set the stage. I’m sat amongst many tired, noisy, Americans. People walk on stage. Tibetan monks. One is the Dalai Lama. The monks wash the feet of selected people in the audience. The Americans are brash, noisy and inconsiderate, as if watching a tv show in their own homes. People tell them to shut up. I’m brought on to the stage, not by a monk, but a Nepalese secret service man. He makes me kneel, and shouts abuse at me in Nepalese. I don’t understand. A monk leads me away. I’m dressed as a monk, and set free. 
I’m with the Steve Harris. We order food at an outdoor Palestinian restaurant. We take a seat, and chat to two Palestinian guys at the next table. They have very light blue eyes. We talk about Tony Blair, and war crimes in Iraq. They speak excellent English. Our food is delivered to another table. We gather our things. 
I’m lost, I have Steve’s jacket and bag. I follow a grey haired guy along a precarious path and try to get my bearings. He leads me through a confusing urban landscape of landfill streets, flyover railways and ageing, but beautiful buildings. I spot a market building I remember. I thank him for his help. I know the way back to the sanatorium now, only a few more days of isolation and mental torture before I can fly home, away from this confusion of duality and separateness. 

The Drowned House

I’m in a chapel above a police station. People below are being interrogated. I’m here to offer evidence. Light rain falls through holes in the roof. A tv plays with the sound off. I’m not watching it. I gather my things together. Layers of waterproofs for the journey, bags within bags. I pick up a multipack of penguins from a fold out table, that my friend Fred left for me. I put them in a rucksack.

I’m outside a house in Eastern Europe. A colleague talks about moving house, but this means relinquishing some control to his neighbour. We enter the building. A film producer is leading us. We are his team.

From an observation building, we look across a flooded pit, the roofs of submerged buildings are visible, and a floating pathway extends alongside them. The producer asks us to recall our initial reactions. We’ve all been here before. As he questions and films us, the water is drained. The houses and pathway sink into a very deep hole, both were floating.

We progress down into to hole. I know that the real prize is so much farther down, accessed by an unmarked concrete manhole.

We are inside. Many small crawl spaces of to each side. One main hallway. In the floor, empty dry shells, of what look like primitive prawns. I spot something else. A piece of paper with writing and drawings on, and tiny, carefully positioned silver figures. I left them here. Drew them a story to live a safe life in, my cartoon eyes ๐Ÿ‘€ always watching over them, an omnipresent paper god, ensuring the safety of his creation.

We assemble and the producer talks. I take out my packet of penguins. I offer them around. They are dry and brittle when opened, but edible.

We are looking after children in an old building. J is on the phone. While she’s distracted, an old Russian woman comes in to collect her family’s belongings. It was not deserted. I’m worried about violence. I follow the woman outside, but she’s gone. Instead, E is walking toward me. She’s forgotten lots of equipment. I look through her colouring books for kids. On each page, a different monster for them to identify, and colour in as therapy.

I’m walking through Wolverhampton. A gang of young men abuse me and ask my age. I tell them 49. They aren’t very bright, and their insults are unimaginative and harmless, revealing more about their own root fears than mine. I jog away up the road, and lose myself in the crowd.


A Sense of Place

I’m on a train into the countryside. We stop at a small station. I’m stood on the roof. A blond woman with a child, asks me if it’s worth joining the railway society, and collecting things. I tell her it is. She smiles at me through the transparent roof of the carriage. 
I’m in my shared room. I’ve been away. T and C have been using my double bed while I have been away. I will not be relegated to a single bed. I see sticky notes on the desk. Missed calls. Not sure who they’re for. 
I’m at Clovelly train station. Yellow submarine trains sit silent on overgrown tracks. It’s in the USA. I wander. Cars drive on the wrong side of the road. Small children from large families get under my feet. I didn’t grow up here. My personal mythology is different. To the people I pass, each view, each building, holds memories and associations. I have no memories here. No sense of place. 
I pass renovated buildings. Oasthouses. Across the road, truncated stretched globe buildings, roughly the shape of human heads, but tower blocks of apartments. I photograph one, taking it’s portrait. 
I wander through a dental fair, wondering about molar extraction, and if my health insurance covers it. 

Gleichgewicht Macht Frei

I’m stuck in a loop. 
Each time it begins, I am running along the Victorian path between Exeter Central and Northernhay Gardens, towards a gate at Auschwitz-Birkenau. There’s someone I have to find, a Canadian called T that I went to school with in the 80s. He was born at the gates of Auschwitz, and if I can return him there, it will close the loop. 
I ask for him at the gates of the camp. A German guard calls for him, and a one legged figure, missing an arm, using a crutch, swings his way toward me through the morning mist. 
We talk. His shaved head and striped uniform distract me. Yes, he was born here. He shows me the exact spot, beneath the gates proclaiming “Work Will Set You Free”, and he vanishes, shrinking to a pinpoint of light, before the loop begins again. 
Only this time it is different. The camp is unmanned, empty. Instead, groups of people follow behind me on the path. I call T’s name, and up he runs, long legs and hair, smartly dressed, no limbs missing. This is the loop I’d like to close, where he is whole, and the death camp of work has no more victims. We enter the gates. Nothing happens. T says he knows the answer. He must adjust the gas flow, to fix the loop. A section of ground rises up. T busies himself with adjusting a huge gas pipe installation. I hear a clicking, and he is engulfed in flames. He kneels as the flames writhe around him. No screaming. Submission to this fate. I shout for someone to help him. I try to call a fire engine, but my touchscreen phone will not respond. 
He falls to the side, dead, a pinpoint of light. 
The loop begins again. I’m in a Victorian furnished office at work. I kneel on the carpet, T sits in the window, and my boss is looking unsure where to start his explanation. He lets me explain what’s happening in the loop to T. And T agrees that he’d prefer a loop with himself, and work, both intact. 
The loop restarts. 
We try again. 
To find the answer. 
That brings work, life and death together. 
A way that won’t disable, won’t hurt, won’t kill. 
A balancing loop. 
My new life’s work. 
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