This Town Made Me
I get out of the car in the rainy parking lot. I cross a roundabout too small to be taken seriously.
A familiar face, huddled in rainjacket, approaches towards me.
It is a lost lover. Explosive chemistry has long-passed, but his beautiful face – now plumper – smiles and kisses me.
But the exchange is too-brief; he must go to pick up his wife from school, where she teaches extras on Saturday.
Memory Kicks In, and there in the rain I realise that This Town Made Me.
Though I disowned her long ago, and feel out of place right now within her –
This Town Made Me.
Her creaky corners.
There are Eastern Europeans now behind the counter at Caffe Nero.
This town did not Make Them – but now they redefine her.
Wind still blusters in from the swept-up beach front.
Smells of seaweed and last year’s pooper-scoop campaign.
And This Town Made Me.
I walk her streets and though she permits my feet upon her roots,
You don’t belong here now
Even though I Made You
You have run to the farthest corners to escape me.
To shake me off unforgivably.
Shake off my incompetent pokey cafes,
My bad anoraks,
Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls.
You don’t want them anymore, so you seek out someone else.
Yet when you return to me, you feel that
‘This Town Made You’.
A Seaside Girl, accustomed to the gales that blow and the tide that is always high.
The slot-machines, fish-and-chip papers,
Scowling grumbles from old people who hobble.
The bad clubs in basements with sticky floors and gone-off beer.
This Place Made Me.
Bedford Row, with its friendly drug-dealers, house-fires and naked fun.
Days of drunken wild abandon.
Pretend jobs in pretend offices.
All of these things Made Me,
And I wouldn’t change them – but for the World.
Whose paths I must tread upon with cautious abandon.
It is the unknown and it does not know me.
Not like this Old Town, this familiar friend that I used to live with.
But one that cares not for me now, I am released to the tumultuous jungle.
But quietly, softly now, we speak in tongues unheard to one other.
We whisper on the wind when we say,
“This town, this town made you”
I found this story in a vault many moons away. I wrote it in 2000, whilst sitting in a Theatre Box Office:
THE PIG THAT COULDN’T FLY
Once upon a time there was a pig who couldn’t fly.
All day long he sat in his muck pit wondering what to do about it.
He just couldn’t understand his misfortune, so he decided he’d better go for a trot to his friend Margie’s hut.
He arrived just as she was hanging out his washing.
“Hello Piggy”, she said, “How are you?”
At this point our pink-pawed friend exploded into a fit of fury:
Why can’t I fly? My wings are all floppy and torn. Margie, you must help me, oh what shall I do?
At that moment a pair of the finest silk bloomers wafted down from her washing line, and landed at Piggy’s feet. Startled, he picked them up.
“Aha”, he cried. “I have an idea!”
Running outside he positioned the bloomers upon his fine, gleaming, piggy-back.
Up, up and away he flew, over his muck pit and far, far away.
“Yippee!” He cried. “Now anything is possible!”
He didn’t notice Margie, miles down below, waving her arms goodbye.
She smiled, for she knew that the bloomers had fallen back to earth, but that Piggy would never again need a propeller, for with a little help from a friend he had found his freedom.
So I moan about Brighton. About nothing happening.
But tonight I allowed myself out.
Which means that I drag myself out of squirrel mansions for a night, resigning myself to the anticipation of all things mediocre.
I endure a toothless bus journey swigging vino.
I surprisedly enjoy a barbeque with smiley strangers under an apple tree.
They tell me the world is small.
I tell them it’s this town that’s small. I dismiss their opinions.
They think it’s great that everyone is one person away from everyone.
I grimace. I make do but fail to mend.
Until a lovely, smiling girl walks into the garden.
It’s my assistant from eight years ago.
“I told you”, they tell me. “Everybody knows someone!”
We get on.
I tell her how, still, everytime someone moans about our software I quote her, from eight years ago – shrugging:- “It’s just a database!”
She gawps in a muted manner.
“What do you do now?” I say.
“I work for a database company”.
There is silence, accompanied by the soundtrack of apple-crumbling in suburbia.
I’m a freak. I’m a weirdo. I don’t belong here.
But I am also extremeley cheap entertainment.
The night continues.
And although I believe in going placidly amid the noise and the haste,
AND in remembering what peace there may be in silence, I DO wonder what these people would be talking about had I not disgraced them with my presents.
The girl from over the wall yells for a pair of black tights.
The guy from over the wall jumps over to join.
His job? Checking for holes in walls in new buildings, and subsequently filling them up with ‘intumescent mastic’.
We bond over the term. We talk kids parties, and dead fishes, and jelly.
We invent an app that acts as a metal detector following a stash lost in the grass.
It’s time to open up Smith’s forum.
Tonight’s subject: “Twins”.
We cover it.: Double sixties boys in bubble cars, the dub-twins from Worthing – you’d just learn which was which for snogging purposes, then not see them for a few months and one would be fatter, or the other grown a beard, and you’d be in no-twins-land again.
Competitiveness, companionship, rivalry, kinship……
And all this, because
Today, two nine-year-old twins came to find Zowee Poppins at her desk.
They love her. She values them. As two WHOLE people.
She tells them to look at her, as it’s time to properly learn which is which.
The more gregarious of the two pipes up, “I’ve got bigger teeth!”
She ponders over this:
When she is twenty, will this little devil-angel still distinguish herself so brazenly by her massive teeth?
She wants to help them. So she opens up the twin debate:-
“Do you like being twins?”
They are awkward. They are nine. The one with the teeth winces awkwardly.
“Sometimes yes, sometimes no?” Poppins prompts. They squirm awkwardly further, wanting to look to each other for reinforcement, but suddenly feeling very alone in their emotion, and not knowing which was the right path.
There are two whole people here, and Poppins wants to show them that she knows. Twin-whisperer.
And so tonight, under the apple tree, with the crumble and the hippies and the ex-assistant, she asserts her passion for individuality. She raises a toast to her best friend who has just popped the second sprog.
Then she goes home. To walk through confused streets, more sinister than Peckham with their already-lost souls, to the bus stop.
Fourteen minutes to wait. Which is long after wine.
But she only plods as far as the corner.
Suddenly there is a plethora of heavy metal fans on all pavements.
They are not threatening; they are merely out of time.
They are a good photo opportunity.
She approaches. They are in a heavy metal band.
She photographs them. There is a girl. She is from New York. She sells merch.
Apparently they are paid enough to tour this dodgy quarter. She asks their name. It purports to be ‘Landfill’.
But amongst this titanium noise, she recoils;
There is another boy who has joined the group. But he looks disturbingly like the other boy.
Is she seeing double?
She stands and scrutinises the two boys. “Family?” She asks.
They do not respond well.
She makes the sign of the spanish beast to try and raise some respect. “Family?” She cheekily quips.
If only, if only they had been there earlier for her master twin tribunal!
She irksomely tries to get them on board by showing them phone-photos with the one teeth, and the one without. She asks them if they would rather be separate eggs.
So she takes a snap.
Forget the teeth, they look as different as different can be.
In fact, the one on the right suddenly resembles Jarvis Cocker.
“Hwho?” He snarls, before the rest of the mob cover their eyes in embarrassment.
Metal wins sometimes, but Jarvis wins always. Poppins, the human metal detector.
As she walks to the bus, she sees disco pete getting on board, with his cap declaring “I love MJ”. It’s going to be a fine journey.
She turns one last time to bid farewell to tonight’s living-twin forum, just in time to see the police rocking up.
She gets home. She writes. She uploads photos. She googles the band.
It turns out the evil twin is known as ‘LandPhil’.
The band – cannabis corpse.
Oh Brighton. Small town.
May you long be blessed with foolish american twins who flaunt their petty drug habits.
And may they rest in peace, if there’s room in the cells.
RECIPE FOR ZUMMOUS
the first of zowee’s zecipes….handle with caution, eat with fear….devised after running out of hummous one desperate night after training…..(and no food processor)
1. buy the weirdest, cheapest, most foreign tin of chickpeas available to beast.
2. Get a bowl – big and ugly is best
3. Drain ransid mulch off peas
4. Stick in bowl
5. Add a combo of random ingredients from fridge; in these pics I used soft cheese, mayo, ‘cum-in’, chilli, Palestinian zatar and polish sausage mustard.
6. Shriek with wild abandon as you take your masher and destroy with glee
8. If serving for ‘guests’, stick in smaller dog-bowl and sprinkle some crap on top, serve with cardboard.
There we have it – zummous