That could have been the sound of my quasi-mystical Peruvian neighbour from down the corridor, wishing to speak to me about his recent dope-fuelled nightmares about witch doctors and wild, shape-shifting beasts. These hallucinations often disturbed him, and he sought comfort in my fancy Western logic or, more accurately, in my ignorant cynicism.
But no; the walls were paper-thin and there was no sound coming from his room- still asleep, no doubt, from the previous night's consumption of drink and drugs.
Had he been awake, and stoned (his usual semi-conscious state), he would have been 'practising' on his guitar.
I use the word tentatively; for hours on end he would strum the same none-chord
on fishing tackle strings (in lieu of proper ones), producing the kind of hypnotic
drone last heard on the early rickety demo's of John Lennon's 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.
Only much less tuneful, and it went on for hours.
The tapping might have been from stones thrown at my window, from some annoyingly slavish friend- I had a number of these at the time; listless, unemployable men with the sickly complexion of jaundice, who used my domicile as a kind of 24 hr drop-in centre, in which to drink my coffee, bemoan having spent their giro cheques a week too early, and generally bore me shitless with their numbing, Epsilon-level, lassitude.
Tap, tap, tap.
It could have been any number of the other misfit tenants - the escaped convict unwisely trying to force the kitchen window again; the former prostitute turned maniacal Christian (which was worse), locked in the spare room by her schizophrenic boyfriend, the racist White South African, trying to convert me to his creed with books stolen from the public library about the Third Reich.
But the tapping was, I realised, made by myself; the echoes from my heavy typewriter keys reverberating around the tiny box room which was now my home- or rather, a kind of bunker where I was attempting to annex myself from the outside world: from the hangers-on, the alcoholics, the mentally-unstable, the drug addicted, criminal, and the habitually lazy.
In other words, the type of human detritus - briefly fascinating due to their dysfunctional lack-of lifestyle, but generally not likely to convert Creationists to the theory of Human Evolution - that one invariably encounters when slumming it in cheap DHSS rooming houses, under the self-deluding pretence that it is the 'done thing' for the struggling writer.
The Struggling Writer- I've written it in capital letters as it really does have the anachronistic patterns associated with any kind of regulated employment. But, instead of pension plans, the yearly office party, and pulling the odd 'sickie', this breed are on a continual sickie, and most of them look it.
The annual works outing is supplanted by daily trudges to the local library,
ostensibly to do 'research', but more likely to while away the long hours by
lusting after the new librarian, or fantasising about acts of violent revenge
against society, after receiving yet another curt rejection letter. Well- somebody has to pay.
(Trying to commit suicide by drinking a litre of whisky and inserting eighteen sewing needles into your arm is not recommended: you fall asleep, the blood congeals, the needles rust. You go to work the next day looking like a fucking junkie.)
Struggling Writers, to quote T.S. Eliot, measure out their lives with coffee spoons.
They also like to quote from other, successful writers, in order to contextualise why,
in their mid-twenties, early-thirties or late-forties, they are still living with
their parents, or have got a fridge that's been on the blink for three months, or
are still vaguely considering masturbating over the lingerie section in the Freeman's
You see, some people seem equipped; they know how to hold a conversation, and with
the right people, the so-called 'movers and shakers'.
Fat bastards who talk too loud in restaurants, and their tie-dye wives who
know loads about T'Chi, but fuck all about how to re-wire a household plug.
But that's sexist, of course.
They don't suffer from Foot in Mouth disease when attempting to smooze at literary
soirees, book launches, and all those other stifling social engagements that seem
to revolve around stuffing Arts Council canapés and caviar down one's throat,
whilst simultaneously hacking up the contents of that day's Guardian newspaper.
Struggling Writers are rubbish. We head for the free wine instead. Sometimes we
even steal a few bottles. "Officer," I once had to explain in a somewhat crumpled
state, "one minute I was at a hotel listening to Barrie Rutter do a Northern
transcription of Shakespeare, the next I woke up here, in the graveyard of St.
Mary's Church, Lowgate."
(Hanging's not all it's cracked up to be, either. It messes up your suit, and your
carpet, when your stomach brings up the red and black bile. And I sprained my ankle
falling off the chair. I didn't half feel silly.)
Articles - Response To Lee Cassanell - Flood Aid - What's It All About? By John Fareham
So there I was, sitting at my laptop, supping a hot ribena (such is life in the fast lane when you have reached the end of a day when you couldn't trim your hedge because it was raining) when I spotted that Lee Cassanell, Ella Street's other hat wearer had written in.
Girding my loins ready for more action, and polishing up a few merry quips
Articles - Response To The Flood Aid Feud By War Drobe
So I'd just got back from the annual Greasyroots festival, soaked to the bone and
smelling of joss sticks, third rate cannabis and self-indulgent white middle-class liberals.
I sat down at my PC and there was the latest contribution to the Flood Aid Feud.
War between Chester Draws, Sir John Fareham and Lee Cassanell is brewing
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Becoming a pensioner happens to other people, not me! So when I held my 60th birthday party
I affected a kind of put-on smile for the evening.
This did not amuse my daughter who had kindly arranged and paid for champagne.
She saw through the curled lip and told me to move on.
At the time I wasn't sure what she meant, but the following day
Articles - Response To John Fareham - Flood Aid - What's It All About? By Lee Cassanell
So I was sitting at my PC smoking a roll and reading the latest Hull Flood News when I chanced upon this little nugget from the right honourable Conservative compulsive hedge trimmer Sir John Fareham in his response to an article by the comically named Chester Draws.
"I think he tries too hard to disguise his identity, but not all that successfullyRead more...
Articles - Is Modern Life Shit? By Scott Rorrison.
I was a reckless youth who, due to a heavy influence from Jim Morrison realised the importance of education at the age of about 19. Due to being a late starter I am still working at an engineering company for my sins whilst studying English with the O.U.
At this previously mentioned place of work the lads enjoy nothing more than listening to the local
Articles - Crosswire Conspiracy Part 5 By Buick McCain
Most of our training exercises had been carried out under cover of darkness and with the complicity of local landowners and after three months of rigorous activity, the hard work was eventually paying dividends.
I had organised the six groups into autonomous units and for security, each group consisted
Articles - Response To Chester Draws Flood Aid - What's It All About? By John Fareham
I am probably missing something but in the desperate attempt to be 'with attitude' the article by 'Chester' rather misses some points.
I doubt the council need lessons in drunken perversion from a man who seems aroused by his ability to urinate
in public and a need to share that with us: great promotion for Hull. I wonder if Chester would like to name
Articles - Crosswire Conspiracy Part 4 By Buick McCain
The crossing over the Channel was uneventful and as we approached the coastline the Flight Sergeant beckoned me forward and pointed towards the horizon. Immediately the scale of Hitler's stranglehold over Europe became frighteningly real. Far below but as far as the eye could see, the massed German forces waited menacingly
Articles - Response to Hull Flood Aid - What's It All About? By Chester Draws
I must confess I found Michelle Dee's article on Hull Flood aid much more lucid and sober than some of her previous creative explorations and I for one am glad she had the inclination and good sense to raise the issue.
Still, it was only a bit of water and although some people have lost possessions and property at least it provided them with a bit of excitement
Articles - Crosswire Conspiracy Part 3 By Buick McCain
Throughout the rest of the day reports of further explosions, all of which were in and around the West End were filtering back to Baker Street. We were ordered to remain in the building until we had clearance from the police and the army bomb squad commander.
Murray half heartedly tried to explain the semantics and machinations
Articles - Crosswire Conspiracy Part 2 By Buick McCain
I was back at Baker Street by 9.45am and I knew that if I looked anywhere near as shattered as I felt, I was in trouble. The ubiquitous Sergeant Craig, the unfriendly giant, led me straight up to a second floor room. This time the welcome party consisted of one man, not much older than me.
Although he was dressed in civilian clothes
Articles - Hull Flood Aid - What's It All About? By Michelle Dee
Once again the local music community is gearing up to stage a music event in the city of Hull. After the floods that have left many homeless resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of property damage and caused severe disruption to schools.
Many local businesses will record losses due to flood affected premises and damaged stock.
Articles - Hydroponics
By Stuart Batley
Hydroponics in general is a way of growing plants and vegetables of all kinds indoors or in a greenhouse without soil in water containing essential mineral nutrients. Many commercial vegetables are grown this way these days in huge greenhouses. The term hydroponics is derived from Greek word and literally means 'working water'.
There are many system variations on
Articles - A Bridge Too Far - The Floods By Paul Wood
Well it was 10.30 am, the morning of the floods and I was on Newland Avenue at the Post Office, watching as the flood water washed up towards the door. I waded across the road ankle-deep to head home where I stayed most of the day.
Around lunch time, my neighbours were bailing out water from down the terrace as the rain had been continuous and it was
Articles - Crosswire Conspiracy By Buick McCain
During the summer of 2006 my grandmother sadly passed away. Amongst her possessions, that I was given responsibility for sorting, was a neatly filed and dated collection of my late grandfather's diaries, dating from the early 1940s.
Over the ensuing weeks I read and reread all my grandfathers' thoughts. Of his hopes and aspirations
Articles - A Nightmare on Ella Street By Chester Draws
Saint’s preserve us ... It’s the end of the world as we know it, the biblical flood has arrived to punish
Ella Street for its Liberal Bohemian ways.
We thought that all our pot smoking, hippy festivals and savage alcohol problems would put us on square
terms with the man upstairs but it seems God is a raging Conservative who would see us all drown
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It can sometimes transcend strangeness, the things we humans can have a fondness for.
Me, I rather like "The Drain", that muddy, filthy waterway that flows through East Hull, fostering luminous green algae and prehistoric hermaphrodite fish as it goes. At first glance the drain looks like not much more than a cleverly designed cesspool,
Articles - Buses By Andrea Longstaff
I was running to catch the number 13 bus in Bond Street when the driver, standing next to his vehicle and smoking a roll-up said to me "There's always going to be another bus you know" I replied that I had to be somewhere and was running late. "Why don't you walk then?" Hmmmmm and why don't you mind your own fucking business?