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The people who live in the neat house across the road. It’s as if they’re real. Maybe they are real.

When they sweep their drive, it’s like a scene from an old movie where the colours have faded. A scene where you know something awful is about to happen.

And the people over the back hedge could be real too. And their happy, noisy children. And the aunts and uncles who visit at weekends. All their shouting and laughing could be real.

And the pigeons who never stop saying the same thing over and again and over and again, even in the rain. It’s as if they’re real and in an old movie at the same time. And the rain too.

And I try to imagine what life was like for King Charles The Sixth of France, who believed he was made of glass.

Terrified of shattering, he put iron rods in his clothes, wrapped himself in blankets. Refused to wash.

He was covered in lice and sores when his courtiers finally forced him, screaming, into a steaming bath.

He tried to hide beneath the water. He tried to lie very still. As the courtiers lifted him out and dried him, he saw the condensation on his glass skin and beyond the window of his soul, only rain.

Mostly, I have nothing to do with people. Especially poets. Poets are not born to be of use. They are born to be meticulously casual. Some of them even like to be photographed wearing scarves. Casually. Yes, poets are in long supply. Mostly, I have nothing to do with them.

Poets do things like spend hours finding words within words, then list them in notebooks for future poems.

Crawl – raw/ Name – am/ Heart – ear/ Mourn – our/ Cruel – rue/ Wife – if/ Loathe – oath/ Money – one/ Plover – love/ Clown – low/ Water – ate

When they review each other’s work, they thrill themselves with sentences like: ‘Her poetry explores themes of womanhood, identity and empowerment.’ They prefer adjectives like ‘mysterious, alluring, fresh’.

Meanwhile, in the real world, on a bomb site near you The Lavender Hill Mob are flogging Passports To Pimlico at a tanner a touch.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Nargessi Mohammadi’s sentence for writing an article critical of the state is increased to eleven years and eleven months plus one-hundred-and-fifty lashes. Plus a fine, of course, to cover her keep.

In the real world, water bats fly at dusk from caves where stalagmites grow an inch in a thousand years.

Nikita Khrushchev said: ‘In the next world the survivors will envy the dead.’

Darkness has many layers, swirls like liquid.

In 1756, reduced in circumstances by another bad harvest and no work, Mr Ephraim Burgess and his wife Grace, walked hand in hand into the River Exe and drowned themselves. An elderly man, fishing on the far bank, gave evidence that he could not save them from being swept away.

Even in the most dangerous places on earth, it’s still National Scrabble Day.

The computer tells me it is two degrees centigrade and foggy. No, the man opposite is mowing white daisies out of his green grass and the bin men are reversing into the road.

The television tells me anti-ageing cream moisturiser is a bargain while stocks last at ten pounds a pot. No, look, on the other screen it says the Swamp Skink is now an endangered species. We pay for Multi-Room, you see.

I remember – do I, do you think I do? Yes, yes, I remember… when we were children we saw an octopus swirling above the beach, its tentacles hanging like the entrails of a kite.

Walking in the wood, we found a false puffball on a dead oak. In the rain it shone like silver.

Things are always as they were. Things are never as they were.



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