Whisky is a bastard, a smooth bronzed bastard that has mastered the art of being your friend when you think you have none. Whisky is a fellow traveller it’s been places and seen faces and conjures its way to your head. Scotch Whiskey is king a Highland Warrior a Sutherland Queen an angel at midnight swimming in your dreams. Whisky sits at your side ready to serve like a soldier of fortune rich on the breath of life. The small glass is equally obedient and fond of ice. Whisky is a listener, a charmer an embalmer of your battered soul. I seek refuge in the golden temple I’m it’s only disciple falling into its open arms , it always knows when I’m on my way to its door.
Whisky is a vampire nurse a devils curse never quenching a thirst it’s not meant to be drunk in a hurry, that’s for those who have no taste. Whisky is never a waste. Whisky uncorked sends a signal of smoke to its friend’s barley and oak together they float to the nostrils of the lost who are happy to be found. Whisky makes no sound yet it talks all the time you can hear it at night saying ‘come to me your mine’ and there’s nothing you can do but smile and hold out your hand. Whisky is the silent companion that will always hold your hand.
Whisky has stories and a library too it keeps them in the bottle before passing them on to you. The raconteur comes alive and you’re the captain of the crew. Every sip is a kiss from the softest lips of a nymph who has collected scented flowers from a secret lake before fluttering its wings at your window. Whisky is the devil playing god and god playing the devil they both like a drop. Nobody gets drunk on whisky because nobody remembers being drunk when they count the missing days. Whisky is a story that never ends. Never drink whisky with a stranger unless you’re sure they’ll become friends.
I once knew a man called Rainbow he was tall and thin. His trousers hung on to him like a koala bear hugging a tree, his shoes were too big for his feet and he was never without the worst multi coloured jumper I’ve ever seen. It was the colours of a rainbow that’s how he got his name. He told me the jumper was a present from someone he was close to who knitted it especially for him. I imagine he was in love with the person who gave him the jumper but he didn’t move that conversation along.
Rainbow was keen to learn about things he’d never tried, like the game of pool. I taught him how to play and he was better than me within a couple of days. He was older than me but a lot younger in his mind. He unnerved people with his big blue eyes that appeared glazed and lost. He had bags under those eyes that were full of luggage from his past. Rainbow could predict the people he thought didn’t like him and he was never wrong. This made him sad but I used to tell him there was no point trying to make people like you if they have already passed judgement.
Rainbow didn’t like to talk about his life other than to say it was tough and ‘took a long time to rub out’. I think he had spent some of his childhood in a care home or at least that’s what I think he wanted me to believe. Rainbow would disappear for days then turn up at a local bar desperate for a game of pool. I’ll never forget the day he had to play a stranger who didn’t like the strange style Rainbow had when he took a shot. He used to lean towards the green baize on the table almost sniffing the cloth before taking aim with his cue and then lurching back as if he just fired an arrow from a bow. Rainbow won the game the stranger was a bad loser and wouldn’t shake Rainbow’s hand but he did say ‘you’re fucking insane mate’ which Rainbow took on the chin and responded beautifully with ‘if I wasn’t insane how would you know you were sane?’ The stranger swore again and left the bar.
Rainbow disappeared for the last time on a Saturday night. He was drunk and liked to dance but he would bump into people not dancing and piss people off until the miserable landlord asked him to leave. Rainbow never came back. Years later I read a story in a national newspaper of a man who was staying in a down and out hostel. The man, a diagnosed schizophrenic was being seen by a male nurse who was trying to calm his agitated patient there was a struggle and the man stabbed the nurse with a pair of scissors. The Nurse died and the man was given a life sentence.
The man was Rainbow, a man who had never shown any signs of violence all the time I’d known him. I read the whole article and prescribed drugs were mentioned in particular a recent change of pills that had side effects. Somebody made a mistake that changed a mild eccentric man into a murderer.
I heard Rainbow didn’t stay long in prison he escaped in a coffin after taking his own life.
Through the curtains she saw the undistinguishable saloon car pull up outside her neighbours’ house this was a ploy by the debt collector, the element of surprise that never worked because it was too obvious. Her heart skipped a beat or two as she slid towards the living room floor and covered her face with her hands. She was tired of the worry and sick of the fear. She thought of her life before she lost her job where bills were paid on time and the kids got the occasional luxury. Happier times had slipped away like an ebb tide. The reliance of benefits was something she had never experienced before and she wished such humiliation was foisted upon the corrupt politicians who demonised anyone claiming state funds.
The footsteps marching towards her front door quickened her breath, there were two people this time, perhaps the company chosen to claw back the debt were raising the intimidation levels? She laughed at this thought knowing she was as frightened as she could ever be right at this moment.
Two loud knocks on the door followed by murmuring voices
‘I bet she’s in’ said a voice that sounded authorative, he must be the senior of the two she pondered.
‘How do you know?’ inquired a clearly younger voice
‘you get a feel for this job’ he knocked harder 4 times because four hard knocks makes it sound really official.
She curled up into a ball under the living room window and began to rock. In her head she sang Jesus loves the little children and wondered why that song had made an entrance.
The letterbox opened
‘Hello Mrs Carter, we know you’re at home, we just want to talk to you’, said the senior man.
She put her fingers in her ears ‘jesus loves the little children’ she didn’t know the rest of the words so she just repeated the same line over and over.
‘Come on Mrs Carter you’ll have to face me at some point if you want to avoid the bailiffs’
There it is, the b word it didn’t take long. She shook violently at the thought of being homeless with two young children but remained in a ball recollecting her childhood, playing on a swing, pushing a pram, sitting on a beach, laughing in a car and sleeping with her favourite cuddly tiger cub.
Six loud knocks followed by silence then footsteps vanishing down the path. She knew there was more to come. The men would sit in their car for a while hoping for sings of movement from the house. She uncurled herself and stared at the clock. It was 9.45 she waited until 10.30 before crawling on all fours towards the kitchen. She put the kettle on and breathed several sighs.
She sat at the kitchen table counting the squares in the tablecloth. She stopped at six, the precise number of visits she had received. They will be back and she will hide until a fairy godmother arrives in the deep dark night to tell her all her fears have been erased…..
To Be Cont.
Rowing a boat on the ocean
Nothing to see but the sea
Life is but time and motion
That my stinging eyes can’t see
There’s no sign of a ship
No cloud sails the sky
The horizon’s a linear blip
A whale breathes a sigh
I’m alive to where I am
The waves keep me awake
I think of me as a man
Who gave his soul a shake
Why feed the many
When you can feed a few
Why save the children
When there’s more for you
Why pity the poor
When the rich seek applause
Those who love money
Are fond of closing doors
Why raise awareness
For those who die alone
When the vultures arrive
To pick and chew their bones
Why sit back and watch
Billionaires at a feast
Those blood soaked bastards
Are who we need the least
3. TV Truth
My country likes a war
And says it’s in my name
Our politicians earn commission
Arms dealers stake their claim
It’s always a foreign country
Who are in the wrong
The media are the buglers
Playing a siren song
My country wants a war
One that generals crave
It seems the deserts have room
For many a brand new grave
The politicians raise a fist
Aggressors one and all
Sending soldiers to die
Counting money as they fall
Hell is like bonfire night
A million fires will burn
The TV tells us we must fight
Because we never fucking learn
As I sit amongst my wrinkles
And wrestle with my grey
I look for distractions
Something to take me away
I search for stars
In a dark midnight sky
I think of the northern lights
And colours they make fly
I shadow the moon
As it shadows me
Life is a theatre
There’s a part for me
I cannot play it alone
This much is true
As is the fact
I’d be lost without you
There’s no need for the circus
To come to your town
The ringmaster is not required
The people have been tamed
There is no need for trapeze artists
We have people doing somersaults
Forget the jugglers juggling
The spinning plates have smashed
There is no need for roaring lions
Who’ve been drugged to please a crowd
We have people who can do this for free
Wave a stick crack a whip seek applause
There’s no need for gymnasts
To bend over backwards
We have politicians who do this
When big business pays a call
There is nothing amusing
Performing under a tent
There is no need for circus clowns
Who belong in Government
This town has no shoes on its feet
And all of its ghosts are bored
This Town is familiar with defeat
It’s where misery strikes a chord
Do you remember being alive
Was this a question ever raised
Is this a town where we once thrived
Before its knees were bruised and grazed
The factories have all closed down
The parks are all full of weeds
The workers feet make no sound
There’s no more planting of seeds
This town is a second hand shop
With cobwebs across its sky
Like a tap dripping its last drop
Like a thirsty bird waiting to die
The orphans of hope sit and stare
Watching where the wind does blow
Abandoned by politicians without a care
They, like the future, left a long time ago