Ndiyindoda, now

Posted on: July 8th, 2014 by robert No Comments


“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls. The most massive characters are seared with scars.” Kahlil Gibran

I was in Egypt when my father arrived in a dream for the first time since his death two months earlier.

I awoke with a jolt. Sadness rose up within me as the dark hotel room, illuminated by the bluish light of the TV screen, came into focus through a well of tears. The thin, white curtain blew inward from the open window in the dim corner of the room like a ghost.  One of those international news channels was reporting on breaking news, its sound turned down but still audible. Nelson Mandela was dead.

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At the height of his physical prowess, Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body. What we face may look insurmountable. But I learned something from all those years of training and competing, all those sets and reps when I didn’t think I could lift another ounce of weight. What I learned is we are always stronger than we know.”... Read More

My North

Posted on: July 30th, 2013 by robert No Comments


“Excuse me, excuse me”, came a shrill accusatory voice behind my left shoulder down in the bowels of Stockwell. “You've just pushed into me”. I swiftly turned, whereupon I saw a slightly ovoid blonde in her 40s giving me a scathing look of incredulity.... Read More


Sunday nights are the quietest on Chestnut Grove. The bustle of the week – that triumvirate of commuters, school children and drunken revellers all jabbering away as they pass outside at their allotted times, as well as the buzz of planes overhead, the unharmonious discord between trains and traffic, and the yell and pelt of the footballers on the court across the way – has, come the evening of the Sabbath, given way to a funereal silence.... Read More

Potholes in Palookaville

Posted on: February 20th, 2013 by robert No Comments


Part One

I was in my loft. The ancient tin of paint upon which I was sitting was gently reprimanding my backside while the wind from outside whistled without remorse through the soffits.

It's a part of my home I seldom visit, but thanks to an odd mixture of boredom and curiosity, and the imminent move playing on my mind, a sort-out, I decided, was probably in order. It's a strange place to be, that dusty darkened hub in the eaves, surrounded by the abandoned years-old relics of not only my life, but the lives of households prior, their provenance questionable, and ultimately amounting to a frowsty museum for the sacrosanct and the shit.... Read More

The Digital Buffet

Posted on: January 3rd, 2013 by robert No Comments


This pile of books beside my bed has gradually become a tower of literary guilt.

The act of entering a book shop or charity store without purchasing yet another book is one I've yet to successfully master. A vestigial symptom of my obsessive compulsive disorder perhaps, an unerring urge to be cultured and well-read, or is it just greed? Either way, the problem is they never get read. Or rather, they get read at such a pace that another 20 have been bought by the time I finish a chapter of just one. To read them all before old age it seems would be an impossibly epic assignment to complete.... Read More

Living With A Woman

Posted on: October 3rd, 2012 by robert No Comments


“Do call again, when you can't stay so long” – Walter Sickert

Apart from the frightening vision of another season of bras hanging on my bedroom door handle, my main reaction to M telling me she was moving in again was jaw-swinging horror. This was swiftly followed by a reluctant excitement at the prospect of some company for the summer, which gave way to a low simmering anger at the assumption that it would be ok to move in for three months without actually asking. My vexation was unable to be assuaged until I’d downed my bottle of whisky later that evening.... Read More

The Pirate of Penance

Posted on: September 30th, 2012 by robert No Comments


"At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don't. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.” Ann Landers

I recently read an interview with someone in the literary fraternity who admitted to a peculiar aversion to parties. I instantly identified with this remark, thinking of my own long rocky relationship with le rassemblement festif. This mild party phobia is, I'm certain, a vestigial symptom of traumatic marginalised school days which means even 20 years later I still approach parties, at best, in the same way most would a job interview, or at worse, a root canal surgery. The prospect can bring about a riptide of anxiety, the type of which can only be assuaged by finding some restorative niche like a bathroom cubicle to hide in.

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The Pirate of Penance part two

Posted on: September 28th, 2012 by robert No Comments


At Lands End, somnambulistic Japanese tourists in rain hoods trundle about and assemble in clusters to block the footpath. I have the predictable photo opportunity standing before the famous sign – which is now cordoned off to squeeze more money out of visitors - £15 for an official print taken by a dour ruddy-faced chap which, I decide, is criminal. So bloody what if you can have your name(s) and date fixed to the sign too! Instead, I intermittently ask various folk to take one of me on my camera, and stand ignominiously before the cordon forcing a smile, awaiting one of them to actually display some photographic aptitude. It takes awhile.

With a sudden pang of yearning for somewhere wild and desolate away from the crowds, I spot an unobtrusive grassy cliff path ostensibly stretching out into the distance and over to Sennon. And then I'm on it and I've arrived at a point in which I feel absolutely alive. It was a brisk September day with flashes of sunshine followed by frowning cloud. On my right, wild romantic moor land stretches as far as the eye can see, and to my left jagged cliff tops fall away to secluded creeks below where shipwrecks lay, abandoned and battered by the elements. Naturally, a splendid feeling of freedom and happiness abounds.

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Fifty Shades of Shite

Posted on: September 2nd, 2012 by robert No Comments


"Every time a friend of mine succeeds, a little piece of me dies." Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal is dead. That great American titan of letters departed into the great hereafter at the noble age of 86. I'm reminded of one particular anecdote where the controversialist and political manque was ignominously brained by Norman Mailer at a cocktail party on account of comments Vidal had made about the Pugilistic literary juggernaut. Vidal had reportedly given him a less than favourable review of one of his books- and allegedly made reference to an occasion where Mailer had stabbed his wife with a pen knife. “Once again words fail Norman Mailer,” was Vidal’s cavalier comeback as he lay splayed on the floor with bloodied nose.... Read More