Tuesday, 10 December 2013


"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is." 
— Charles Bukowski 

"It is scenes such as this which explain why we all eventually devise ways of putting ourselves in places or states of feeling that bring us back to the inner rhapsody of being alive and reconnect us with the now feeling of life." - “Alma Cogan” by Gordon Burn.

"When you're on the night shift, you have to drink as much alcohol as you can stomach at around 6.15 in the morning - that's the only thing that will see you through, otherwise you might be seeing imaginary trains at 2pm in the afternoon, which make you jump unpredictably - especially, if you are a self-indulgent artist trying to get one out of a hundred solid pieces of work published by pissing them into the snow. And if you are an artist working nights, the shift illumines an unseen fact that lurks silently in the shadows during daylight - the fact that someone, somewhere, should be fucking ashamed of themselves." - "Sick Fuckers and How to Cure Them" by Craig Guthrie.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Registration Event

I had a 10.30 am time-slot, but arrived at 9.50 am.
I went in and about 20 people stood in the relatively small reception area, mostly dressed in smart clothes, with a folder, or bag which would hold A4 size.
They were mostly younger than 30, mixed gender, mostly male, but with a couple of early-fifties gents thrown in, to mix it up.
Everyone looked respectable, and appropriately respectful, suitably grateful, somehow.
When they started queuing up to present the relevant documents, I left, aware that this was the 10 o'clock crowd. As soon as I walked outside I felt the need to urinate quite urgently and quickly foresaw the possibility of a huge dark, wet stain on the front of my jeans while sitting in a large office with an attractive youngster. I strolled down the road with a cigarette, hoping there was a supermarket with a toilet nearby. Hoping that I wouldn't piss in my pants, a grown man walking round the outskirts of the city.
There was a warehouse outlet. What is a warehouse outlet?
I relieved myself, conscious of every passing minute and estimating my time of return to the Mail Centre to be 10.20 am. My estimation would soon be found to be precise.
On my return journey, I had another cigarette, then liberated a Mint Imperial from a Tupperware tub I keep in the glove compartment. I also rubbed my right index and middle finger into my left armpit to mask the smell of tobacco by means of second-hand armpit deodorant.
I took my place in the queue facing two receptionists, who would check off whether you had the numerous required documents which were stated on the website after confirmation of appointment.
As every candidate before me admitted to the absence of some document or another - a counterpart driving licence, a valid passport, a bill WITHIN THE LAST THREE MONTHS and were sent off to often unsuccessfully attempt to retain said documents and return with them, I shook my head to myself, being sure not to move a muscle.
Everything on the website basically said, "If you don't bring this, you may as well not bother."
"God," I whispered, projecting my bottom lip, Napoleon Dynamite, "Neanderthals."
I wanted to dance then, but I restrained myself.
As soon as I was next in the queue, with my smug smile and my back-up documents and secondary photocopies, I realised I had not brought the two required, passport sized photo graphs with the signature on the back.
I felt myself go bright red...


...they let it go. They would photocopy my passport photograph for my ID. I got through and went upstairs. There were about 7 people signing you through and then three others you had to sign off with - whatever that meant.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sorting Mail

I got home 6.30 and by around eight I had written a bad but full first draught of a poem. The writing of it felt like satisfying the craving to sniff plant fertilizer when one has a predisposition to terrible drug-addiction. Like the satisfaction of resolving to let a pencil-sketch alone. Like satisfying urination; defecation; ejaculation. Completing it, I felt as if I was listening to the music with the best groove, tasting the food of the divine, walking in the Scottish countryside - but all, just for one fleeting, piqued moment, before I came crashing back down to earth. Back down to debt, back down to life or death responsibilities, back down to absolute failure as a writer.
That fleeting second of orgasmic self-confidence made it all worthwhile, forever - made all the better by the knowledge that it never would come again in such a powerful ecstatic surge. That it was gone forever and it left a smile imprinted on my heart, alongside my family.

The Night Shift Epiphany.

I am on the night shift,
 With a pleasant fellow called Dudley,
Who can't really hear me.

 Dudley can't hear me,
 But he is so much more than that -
 Told to tap him on the shoulder,
 If the fire alarm goes off,
He doesn't need me to.

 I'm not sure,
 How to communicate,
 As I don't sign
 And he does,
 Little lip-reading,
 So I tap him, 
Smile and mouth;
 "YOU OK?"
 Of course.

 He smiles,
A light in his,
Then rolls,
 And nods.

 I'm not sure,
 If he's rolling his eyes at me,
 Or as a gesture,
 Of shared contempt,
 Perhaps for the task,
 In which we are currently,

 I resolve,
To write a letter,
 Explaining what,
 A Freak,
 He stands next to,
At 4 am,
 In the factory morning,
In the parallel queue,
Explaining about me,
The one tapping him,
 On the elbow,
 And grinning,
While sorting mail,
At 4 am,
Telling him,
I am a writer.

Letter to Dudley

Dear Dudley,

Hello, my name is Mr Guthrie - you may call me Mr Guthrie -  it’s a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.

You seem like a very nice young man – compared to me.
I do not wish to define you by the fact that you are deaf, but it must be one of the first subjects I approach as I have found it difficult to communicate in the "usual" way, ie through speech - and I do have the desire to communicate.

I have realised though, that in considering myself a “writer”, (I feel myself qualified as such due to the fact that I write, although the fact that I am not paid to and that no-one might read what I have written is another matter entirely) that speech is not perhaps my most effective way of communicating, and that perhaps writing is.

The urge to communicate I think is instinctual, although I like to think of it as more than just the pack-animal urge. Why communicate? Well to ease the pain and amuse oneself, of course. To what end? Well, perhaps to the end of unnecessary human suffering through interaction, of course.

In regards to us, I have to first conclude what I know about you to make an informed decision as to whether or not you are, indeed, physically and psychologically, worth the effort of my energies, or whether you should sap them, like a great emotional leech. Symbiotic or parasitic - we must all consider whether the outgoing of our energies shall balance with the incoming - because if they do not, we may plan a premature exit from these worldly binds, but if they do, then there is the possibility of immortality.

I know about you:
a) that you have made the choice to work.
b) you have chosen to place yourself in a social setting
c) you can read.
I therefore can reasonably deduce that you are a worthwhile human being, who can currently live in a modern society without the threat of imposed incarceration, and therefore are not intent on my destruction or eternal suffering.
We have also, already helped each other with the mail.

I serve my addiction to writing because it numbs the pain of aloneness, it eases the panic, and relieves the responsibility of personal contact.
I like to think myself polite and respectful of those who warrant it – in other words, those who help and assist their fellow man through life.
I like to think myself as apathetic to those who warrant indifference – in other words, those whose only interest is in themselves at the expense of all others or all else.
I like to think of myself as the former towards you good self.

It is nice to meet you, anyhow.
I enjoy toiling alongside you, and hope you get around to reading some of my "real" work, if for no other purpose than to get a better idea of the freak you are standing next to at 4am.

I have a family - all of whom I love, but rarely show it adequately enough.

Hello, please do remember now, my name is Mud, I like long walks in the country and the thought of a kindred spirit to share in the bursting joy of life and assist in shouldering the eternal burden of death.

Who are you?

Yours sincerely,

Mud Guthrie.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Benny and the First Big Gamble

I had produced the letter to Dudley and on entering the building the next evening I became suddenly aware that perhaps I had taken too many liberties.
It was 10.50 pm when I approached the formica tables where the boys sat drinking soft drinks from bottles or cheap machine coffee in disposable plastic cups.
 I saw Dudley and sat down next to him tapping the table to get his attention and then nodding. He did look a little apprehensive, as if something had changed between us, and to be honest, I wasn't sure if he was furious, he might explode any moment - so I turned my attentions to Benny, who sat gripping his phone.
 Benny was the man who usually stood on the other side of me from Dudley and was another lucky break in terms of my immediate surroundings. Benny spoke to me for about five minutes every hour of so and the rest of the time we'd pretty much continue working in silence, which suited me fine and kept the conversations interesting and glib enough to feel no pressure to say something astounding. Benny seemed seasoned to the factory conditions although only being a new start himself. He seemed to say the right things - ask the right questions... confidently, unassumingly.
 Benny Vegas to his close friends...