Tuesday, 6 August 2013

What's For Dessert..?

A waiter came along and tidied away barely touched food: three quater full glasses of wine and beer and napkins unfolded; the chairs now crouching bare but moments before a man and a woman had been there and such terrible moments had occured between them.  Many solid, unflinching stares then snatches of anger.  She had even shaken meatballs at him, angrily impailed upon her fork.  For his part, he had picked at his fries and his salad and picked up the burger and nibbled at the bun, whilst the sun had gleamed off his muscles. 

He wore a white vest, the type that is best for displaying such a body, and he also wore a non-comitted expression; whilst she wore flip flops that dangled loosley from her feet, just as she was dangling from their relationship. 

His eyes did not seem to register or even accept her fury, nor would they, ever. He had seen her bent over after all; he had seen her face slashed with pleasure and pleading, he had heard her beg for him so how could he take this seriously.

Now she was pleading for their life together.   She was tired of the same old tricks, she was worn out with men who, like magicians, covered emotions with beakers and shuffled them and made her try to guess where the secrets were hiding. He said it was girls that move things around and that was true, too. 
A relationship to them seemed like a blindfolded game of chess, but the only game he wanted to play with ended with a t instead of an s and she needed more than that. 
Could he not understand?
Had her friends been right?
When she suddenly realised this, very silently and painfully, she stood up without saying a word and walked; those flip-flops flapping away sadly.  He pretended not to care.  He left some money for the waiter and disappeared in the opposite direction.

C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Thursday, 25 July 2013


His wife, as useless as a May pole in Winter: straight and awkward and out of season but her husband wasn’t the type to notice.  He took pride in himself though; in his decisions, in his conversation and he was pro-active.  That’s why people liked him and took an interest and invited him to share a bottle of wine. 
That’s what he told his wife and his wife stood very still and she didn’t disagree.  She didn’t agree either but he wasn’t the type of husband to notice that.  When the conversation occasionally short circuited he continued, best foot forward and appreciated that not everybody was a good speaker like he was. 
To compliment him his wife was a good listener. 
She was very patient.  Very silent.  Very still.

C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Rings and Silences

I went to a pub where the barmaids did not talk to one another. I don’t think there was hate between them, but there was a bowl of onion rings, which they nibbled at tentatively taking it in turns. The elder of the two tried to think of something to say.  She felt it was up to her to do so.  Sometimes I saw tiny detonations of conversation behind her eyes - but always, too soon, she was consumed by doubt and no words ever came.
The younger of the two tried to think of something to say.  She was new and felt that it was up to her to do so. The thing is she was too afraid to find a mutual interest, for fear this would mean they were the same and she did not want to be the same as the older barmaid.  Too scared to share such a wicked glimpse into her future, the young barmaid turned away and broke an onion ring against her teeth.  In the silence it cracked like the spine of a small woodland creature caught beneath a fallen tree.
The pub was like a forest of fallen conversations come to think of it.  Some snapped and landed violently at the scuffed tips of pointed high heels of scuffed girlfriends, bored with their boyfriends and bored with these meals.
Some wavered in unsteady words, in the breeze of the breath of the booze that weaved and wheezed the width and the breadth of the room.
Two men beside me chopped at each other like electronic lumberjacks, armed with screens that screamed artificial light and bred even more artificial humanity: eyes flicking, fingers whipping over LCD screens, concentration racked, breaking their conversation’s back and could they even see each other over those gadgets?
The older barmaid did not wish to discuss life with someone younger; someone who might remind her of a long forgotten version of herself.  Now the onion rings were nearly all gone. 
I of course was the biggest killer of conversation that night. My facial expression burnt into a dark beard, tired lines scarred beneath my eyes, as if they were scratches at the bottom of an overused saucepan. My novelty hat sat like a hairy hypocrite upon my head and as I swung my legs back and forth on the bar stool, staring at the rows of clean glasses above the barmaids; I noticed people were avoiding me.  Hardly anyone said anything. I almost got the impression they had all been talking before I’d arrived.  

C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Monday, 13 May 2013

Hovering Beneath Buildings

There’s something very sexy, very vintage, very mysterious about walking beneath an open attic window and seeing an arm leaning on its ledge, with a cigarette in hand, the smoker concealed by the shadows. It makes me want to stare up, mouth agape, and swallow all the falling Spring blossom.

 C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Monday, 29 April 2013


Sweat trickles like liquid down to his lip,

And off the tip

Of his chin, on to her breasts.

They exchange a disdainful look,

As if to except that the end is near.

A second ago, her eyes were closed,

Slammed tight.

Head back,

As her back slid up and down the mattress,

And her mouth had whimpered and whispered

It’s way through gentle, interior pulsations.

Then and now.

How thin a veil between moments?

C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


I woke up with a cigarette burn on my shoe and another on my mind.  My head is brown and knackered like the Fire Marine Charter which peeps out of the fog on the River Medway.  Thoughts are rusty. My memory has abandoned me.  Faces stretch out to remind me but I find I've found a recollection only to lose it again.  There was a Japanese man..? I remember he was on his hands and knees stacking something on the pavement.  He was stacking cigarette butts which can't be the right thing to do?  I shook hands with a girl, hair the colour of healthy soil but slick like bubble bath and I forget what I agreed too.  Then the Sun went down and I sunk with it. 
C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Saturday, 6 April 2013


What will happen to forlorn coastal towns

With their beige stone houses and discoloured posters?

They are like used coasters on the map of England.

The brown stains of time encircling their existence.

The beaches beg company,

The dunes overdue courting couples,

And their reeds bouncing dutifully in the wind for no one to see.

If sadness needed a place to retire,

We fear we may have found it.

C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Friday, 5 April 2013


We saw a man smiling to himself, watching a laptop and  thought it’s a great invention: the smile.  What a wonderful piece of art is created each time we are content, every time we are touched.  Girls smile when they talk of surprise gifts for their boyfriend’s birthday; retired folk smile because they get to watch the sunrise then go back to bed if they choose; children smile when they break wind; dogs smile when they run until they are breathless.  Perhaps you are smiling now as you read this? 

We saw the opposite to this also.  Well perhaps not the opposite but let’s not be pedantic.  He was a builder in his fifties; had been since his teens perhaps and he had a face like crumpled baking paper.  His face was so sunken into his skull that it may as well have been at the bottom of the sea.  His stomach hung over his belt like an overhang of snow on a rooftop and he was as grey as his lungs.  We’re fairly sure he was the sort of man who didn't really see the point of anything much.  He would be miffed by things like puppies; Christmas; the excitement of a haircut; chocolate sprinkles.

We’re not sure what would get that face lit up again, for it must have been, once upon a time when he was a kid.  But somehow we found this just as beautiful…the wonder of the frown.

C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013

Vanity Over Value

The film-making world seems to have gone mad. The emphasis appears to be on gloss (dross?); pristine images and virtuosic visuals.  As long as the movie looks sharp and slick, and is three dimensionally close enough to lick and coated in a crispiness worthy of (CGI'd) autum leaves; factors such as plot and character seem to have become all but secondary, if not redundant. 

Even a vast amount of indie films appear to have abandoned their rawness in favour of the flash and the flush, so when directors aren't arguing the toss over a fraction of a fraction of a frame, because they can eradicate imperfections with the touch of a tablet; they are smothering their 'storylines' in tsumanis or flaming infernos instead, just because the technology is available to do so. Apparently. I'm still yet to see one that looks convincing. But that aside, a flying, flapping  gargoyle which has been added (forced) into the plot merely because one has the programme to create it, is always going to feel exactly what it is: redundant, no matter how nicely it's been done.

None of which is the end of the world of course; but for all this perfection and gimmickry what have we gained? More importantly what might we have lost? Have we forgotten story? Are we not perhaps undermining the true power of film: the simple but effective art of attacking an audience with characters who embark on a journey; who learn about themselves and teach us about ourselves in return?  That has nothing to do with technical triumphs or glossy, skin-deep depictions.

Where are the classics? Will the vein of film I'm hinting at above still be discussed in half a century's time? Probably not.  Because if the movie's main selling feature is it's contemporary look and visual effects, won't they surely be left behind by the rapid evolution of such technology?  

It seems to me that the one attribute which can guarantee a film's longevity is it's ability to convey, as best it can, the human condition, which will always be timeless and thus still appeal to future audiences.  

I was asking myself the question at an anniversary screening of Jaws: what is it that makes audiences return to this movie over and over again? Certainly it’s a master class in film making (and of course is still powerful enough to have people running from the first bit of suspect seaweed to brush against your paddling feet) - but then so are many movies. However, nearly 40 years later and with special effects that have clearly dated the story and the characters remain as fresh as the very people sat next to us in the cinema.

The community on the island of Amity are evocative, colourful, realistic, complex, flawed and intriguing. They do not exist simply to be sacrificed for the plot. They have their own fears and agendas, are both selfish and selfless at times and display moments of tenderness & anger in equal measure.

This is the human angle which is missing from so many visual / technically tantalizing films: characters are regularly created merely to be disposed of, scenes thrown together, the only function of which is to grab the audience’s attention. They are the microwave meals of the celluloid world: people will always buy them and enjoy them (AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT), but just like their gastric counter parts they are as forgettable as they are feeble. The problem comes when the visuals and the effects are  given priority over everything else.  More often than not, the results are a string of scenes strung together, regularly splattered with unnecessary SFX whose purpose it is to distract. This montage of monotony is made to make money and it does. But it won’t enjoy longevity in my opinion. 

Compare Jaws with Deep Blue Sea or Night of The Living Dead with Quarantine even Alien with Prometheus.  The originals weren’t just monster movies, nor were they just monster hits…they were also thoughtful, well thought out, layered stories about people caught in a particular situation. When people used to refer to three dimensional films this is what they were talking about.