A diamond that hits back

I’m hardly past it.
(Mid-30s if you’re wondering.)
And in recent years, have kinda felt like I hate this game.
Cos life plus time is evil.
And seems to equal more aches and pains.
And it’s a sad fact and makes me mad that, whatever I do, I can’t escape this change.
It’s like my inner sadist stands back and toasts my decline, all gross and divine.
Grinning as he tastes champagne.
All the while, I just chase insane.
And weather this draught as I pray for rain.
A sad commuter.
Left on the platform cos I lack form.
No longer able to chase this train.
Cos it’s gone, and is now steaming ahead.
So whilst I’m calm on the surface.
Really I’m nervous, like I’m feeling a threat.
Maybe I can rebuild, you know?
Stitch together with needle and thread.
And plug wounds so I stop bleeding all red.
Cos I can’t muddle along.
I’ve gotta get ahead of the reaper.
My thoughts ice cold.
Like I’ve got my head in a freezer.
With vessels that beat temples.
Like a high temperature fever.
Perhaps I’m not old yet.
But my brow is just cold sweat.
Like I’ve got unsettling features.
And I’m feeling an ill chill, like Kiddo in Kill Bill.
Thinking, why is no one checking the heater?
But I digress.
I wish I could calm my mind, you know?
Just spark up a reefer and drift off in the ether.
Then talk riddles like Gollum, cos I’m an odd little creature.
But in tough times I seek stress and ignore weak legs.
Cos there’s no stopping this cheetah.
I mean, I’ll chase anxious thoughts like precious prey.
And think each one’s a keeper.
I know that it’s better to let ’em pass by and be more zen.
Maybe switch my lifestyle and rock vegan.
Then I can watch the sky for enemies like I fly serenity.
Just call me Joss Whedon.
Cos I’ll slay my monsters like Buffy.
Just trust me, when I say I’m clocking these lost demons.
So if they attack, I’ll strike back with a spiked bat.
And crush pretenders like I’m the boss, Negan.
But wonder, have I trapped myself in this setup?
Is this the price I pay?
Is this the cost of freedom?
Cos when I break for a minute I think, should I stop this feeling?
Because despite my fight, my boat’s full of holes and I’m bailing fast.
I know I’m awkward with help.
I kinda hate to ask.
Maybe I can find solace in making art?
Or playing darts?
Yeah, well… scratch that.
I spend too much time indoors as it is.
Gotta get out… see the world with my backpack.
Not make excuses, where all I do is just backtrack.
Cos honestly, there’s more to life than god damn Facebook and snapchat.
So if I’m not the pilot of my destiny, then I should just give my cap back.
Otherwise, life will be one big ‘remember the time when I almost..’
And just play out in flashback.
So do I stick or twist?
Or double down like in Blackjack?
Find Wonderland, London Below and the Upside Down.
The place where the gaps at.
Where weirdos are welcome and it’s all a bit abstract.That makes sense.
I could probably back that.
There I’d be less nervous.
I’d have purpose.
It’d stop my mind getting ransacked.
So when emotional bombs drop I don’t have to hide from the impact.
I’ll be left silent and intact.
Growing in stature with every step.
A beast amongst petty people, like a giant that’s mismatched.
Then all I have to do is find the life I want is grab hold, and tighten til it snaps.
Which, even if it hurts, and I find I get whiplash.
I’ll know I’m unbreakable.
That, finally, I’m a diamond that hits back.

my inner troll

Where does one find the time anymore?
It seems like lazy days have given way to hard graft.
Like painting and cleaning and tiling the floor.
In some ways I wish I could jump back a decade and just teleport.
Because, damn.
My mid-20s were easy as hell.
And moving up to London, after travels.
It didn’t take much to squeeze me out of my shell.
No real life troubles to speak of.
At least, that’s how it felt.
And yeah, I didn’t have much back then so I just tightened my belt.
But a decade down the line it feels like city life has taken its toll.
Yet I like to think new me has taken over old me by simply breaking the mould.
Yet old me stands on the bridge of progress.
And with stamina, I’ve loads left.
So I gotta start facing this troll.
Cos, let’s be honest.
Monsters grow larger if you let them just take control.
And mine seem to be where I fit in the world.
What’s my higher purpose?
Cos when I find it, I’ll need to give it strong foundations.
Reinforce it with iron girders.
And dip my mind in some fired furnace.
So it’s raw and hot like liquid steel.
But well worn.
Like an old coat with a vintage feel.
But to make my purpose reality I need to be unrelenting and dedicated.
I can’t lose my edge.
Like a fat cat no longer a hunter cos I’m now number and domesticated.
Which is leaving me at best, frustrated.
Am I ducking from destiny?
Can I not just face it?
Cos in my mind, I’ve got weapons to deploy like Castor Troy.
But first I gotta swap bodies and give myself a facelift.
Not hop from idea to idea.
Pretending like each one’s my favourite.
How do I best explain it?
You know how, each month, you would expect a wage slip?
Well imagine one day, you stopped being paid.
Cos it’s passion and purpose that now puts food on your plate.
So with my life path I should decide fast how I’m gonna go about choosing my fate.
I mean, I can’t just go around assuming I’m great.
Cos these flaws I have are not genetic.
I’m more apathetic.
And my lack of ambition is such a human mistake.
So if I don’t break this cycle I’ll just spin like vinyl.
And then I’ll end up losing this race.
Like an old cowboy past his prime.
Gun-toting and self-loathing.
At the bottom of a bottle and boozing for days.
But to be honest.
When I am actually old, what, for example, will I tell my grandson is my legacy?
Cos I’m done with these pleasantries.
Sod the rat race it lacks grace.
I’d rather be having fun with some weaponry.
Out in the woods somewhere, swinging a sword or throwing an axe.
But I know that’s just escapism.
And I refuse to play victim.
Blaming my lack of progress on the apparent failings of a lame system.
Cos my future isn’t preordained.
There’s nothing to be gained from how my name’s written.
So maybe I should just consider my old self Batman.
And to change, I need to snap back in a way that even Bane didn’t.
So yeah, what I’m saying is, I really need to acknowledge a new state to register as an apex predator.
Where I’m free from those soul-sucking sirens.
Aka WhatsApp and Facebook messenger.
Cos this nagging feeling I’ve got?
Well, it ain’t regular.
So emotionally, I’ve gotta remember to take my temperature.
Or I’ll be still be here in fifty years.
Just a sad and depressed lame type of pensioner.
Full of regret, all old and bitter.
Lamenting the fact I wasn’t colder, sicker.
And had slayed my trolls quicker like a bolder killer.
Cos all I had to do to make new me reality was to simply stand back, take stock and just hold a mirror.

Photo credit: chillier17 on deviantart.

Sunday daze

This morning I glued a bit of the wood floor that kept coming up.
Then got a little tool with teeth to remove old grouting in the bathroom.
Then hoovered.
And washed the dishes.
Then cleaned my boots, still muddy from that last mini festival I went to; where I threw axes and cracked whips.
Then changed the bedding.
Confession: I got distracted a few times watching stuff on YouTube.
(Mostly rap battles and comedy.)
I then polished various things in the lounge.
Including a glitterball viking helmet my girlfriend made for parties.
Then I washed some clothes.
Seriously, where does all this washing come from?
Later on I had a beer. Camden Hells.
It went down well.
I was meant to see a friend this evening, but with all this hard adulting.
My Sunday had become chores galore.
And my energy was kinda tapped out.
Still, as far as Sundays go, I felt I achieved a few things.
Go me.

Groundhog boy

When I wake each day.
And think about leaving the house.
I tend to freeze up.
Cos I’m shrouded by doubt.
Forced to bear my stare in the mirror.
But all I find is a frown.
Is this it?
I say, glancing down.
Sizing up my figure like I haven’t realised it’s round.
Cos I’m tubbier these days.
Always saying I’ll hit the gym.
Get ripped and thin.
Build a hard body all sculpted.
One that’s fit for kings.
But right now I’m more pauper material.
Stuck in a dream that feels forced and ethereal.
Wanting to scratch my skin from within.
But not really sure that the cause is bacterial.
Like there’s tiny critters invading my veins.
Breaking me down and planning my burial.
More likely something else troubles me.
This is I ponder as I’m sat drinking bubble tea.
Then a thought seduces me lovingly as it’s introduced suddenly.
I want a simple life.
One that’s calm and puzzle free.
Where it’s totally normal to demand a shrubbery.
Cos there’s a lot to learn from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Like how to not charge through life on a silly quest.
Where the end goal seems to be to slowly fail.
Cos when it comes to the human existence.
My body’s more ill-equipped than I’ll admit.
All whispy, spectral and grossly frail.
At best, I’m a phantom man who can’t fathom a plan.
As I amble along this ghostly trail.
Cos words are dead on my lips from life’s perilous hits.
So my creative flow is mostly stale.
And the story I’ll probably tell at the end.
Will likely be that of a lonely tale.
But maybe I’m blowing things out of proportion?
And these words I say are a shakedown, extortion and not to scale.
But in all honesty, I have been feeling lately like I’m locked in jail.
Trapped battling my own personal monster, like Captain Ahab.
With no real clue how I stop this whale.
As it drags me down to the ocean’s floor.
Salt water in my lungs.
Sneaking in like a Trojan Horse.
Till I’m as numb and cold as a frozen corpse.
But this got me thinking.
Everyone needs an antagonist, right?
One that can fight like Tyler Durden.
Because an alter ego is probably the only thing to help me break life’s chains.
So I can be more certain and free of burden.
But whether I get one or not.
It might now be the case that I’ve lost the plot and I’m way off topic.
Spouting nonsense like a lost prophet.
Why can’t I just stop it?
And be practical for once.
So I think in specifics.
Instead of simply resorting to gimmicks.
Painting a picture that doesn’t exist.
And then persisting by forcing the image.
Which is stupid.
Because I’m a force to begin with.
And it’s time I took myself by the scruff of the neck.
Otherwise, middle of the road is as good as it gets.
And I can’t settle.
It’s just not in my nature.
I’m much better at rebelling with truth than being a faker.
But to win, I need weapons to attack my psyche.
Give me a sabre, give me a razor.
Hell, I know origami, I’ll even do it with paper.
Watch me put in work on these rogue thoughts like they’re manual labour. 
Cos I’m relentless. 
And won’t stop with detractors till I weed out the traitors. 
Lay waste to their negativity till they’re nothing but vapour. 
So at the end, in the smoking rubble.
There’s stands a lone figure, a stranger.
All lit up like a saviour.
Turns out that it’s me. 
I’ve broken free.
And become stronger through failure. 
Cos I’ve emerged from my chrysalis.
And I’m all the more greater. 

Smoking used to be cool

Remember when smoking was the way to be seen?
Back when all our idols did it. 
From Sean Connery to James Dean.
A cigarette hanging lazy from their lip.
So cool it made me wanna fake scream. 
Or get all starry-eyed and daydream. 
Then the world changed, and our bodies became temples of health. 
Now I could live longer.
And perhaps play a different hand to the one I was dealt. 
With quinoa and wheatgrass and gluten-free bread. 
I could be better. 
But a voice inside screamed to be shot in the head. 
Cos I missed the days of whisky and decadence.
Where I twerked in clubs, my body all twisty and elegant. 
And the way I flirted had a kind of trippy intelligence.
But now I just spend my days in health stores and coffee shops.
Damn.
It wasn’t long ago when Friday night dinner was one that I double dropped.
But even back then I was burning out.
And needed a plan to stop the rot. 
Cos this lifestyle couldn’t last, and before long would have to stop. 
So I ditched the night-time narcotics for fitbits and yoga mats.
With weekends spent browsing for more wholesome hits.
Like curtains and cushions and toaster racks.
Knowing this was way worse than my youth.
But somehow, now, I was kinda trapped and loathe to act. 
Cos my joys, it seemed, were cups of tea.
I had to grow up and face that fact. 
But life is never as black and white as people say. 
Sometimes, when you clear an obstacle, you still get wet like a steeplechase. 
But this is the glory of the human existence. 
And shouldn’t be a lethal race. 
So if I’m having a good time and not hurting anyone.
Should I be punished for my ‘evil traits’?
But whatever. 
Right now, on the table, lurks that cigarette. 
Its rush of calm is in my grasp. 
So where’s the harm if I go ahead and take that bet?
Look at it, laying there all seductive.
The sunlight framing its silhouette. 
With witnesses around I try and ignore it.
And attempt to casually feign regret. 
But in reality can’t hide my dismay.
As I put it down so it’s laid to rest. 
Cos frankly, I’ve been racking up debt for decades. 
So maybe now it’s time I paid that cheque?
Cos ribbons of impurity continue to unravel in my mind. 
And get me thinking, should I save these threads? 
Cos I need both the rebel and the sensible. 
And if I don’t feed them equally.
Then I may as well be as good as dead. 

Permanently exhausted pigeon

So I’m at work a zombie, froze and stupefied.
Vacant stare like an airhead as he or she goes to beautify.
Failing at the most basic tasks.
Cos my mind is warm in this bubble.
Here I’m protected and can’t cause much trouble.
It’s the safest chance. 
But the rub is I’m failing to make good use of my clever smarts.
Which got me thinking.
Annoying morning people say the early bird is the one that’ll catch that worm.
So they’re likely to succeed at life if they go and snatch their turn.
Probably sharp each day cos they go to bed and rest their head.
This is something I cannot learn.
And truth be told it’s got me all concerned.

Then there’s those they call night owls.
In the morning they’re quick to darken.
Like an clear sky that suddenly fills with white clouds.
And their faces tell a story.
One that says you should probably pipe down or be prepared to fight now.
Ask for anything before midday then it’s lights out.

Then there’s those in-between.
Aka, people like me.

Permanently exhausted pigeons.
Cos during the day we twist and fidget.
Our minds chirp from lack of sleep like a swarm of crickets.
So be alert.
Or we’ll invade your society gleefully like a horde of misfits.
High functioning insomniacs.
Our brains beat thoughts at us rapid tempo.
Like a drum ‘n’ bass Goldie track.
And we’re about as fresh as a poorly prepared chef.
When all he’s got left to cook with is mouldy fat.
Stressed and on edge, we fight when cornered.
So don’t go backing us into a cul-de-sac.
Cos it’s clear our next mental gear is primal fear.
I’m just stating facts.
And the energy we have when leaving home, I’ll be honest I just don’t know.
Holy crap, I’m kind of surprised we make it back.
And daily life can bore us.
Cos most talk we have with people is just wasted chat.
Our minds elsewhere as we flirt with despair and then fade to black.

But don’t get me wrong.
We can be chirpy mothers too.
Honestly, we yearn for positivity if you catch us in a thirsty mood.
So coax out our best bits and see them bursting through.
And yes, this behaviour is rare, it’s true.
So for this sort of thing to happen we need a fair excuse.
But in the absence of one we’re kind of stuck in this loop.
Eat, sleep, work, and repeat.
At this point we’ve got nothing to lose.
It’s like the opposite of substance abuse.
Because we need life purpose.
It’s time we break free and chase dreams and find a place where life might hurt us.

Trash culture

Hey hey, I’m feeling low today.
When did our culture become so throwaway?
There I was, on display in the shop.
Best of the bunch on the shelf at the top.
And this kid comes in, Damien was his name.
A little devil clearly destined for fame.
Then there he goes, he snatched me quick fast.
In his podgy hands I’m never gonna last.

But off we went, back to his lair.
Me with a looming sense of despair.
I’ve been a good toy this just isn’t fair.
But hey, what can you do?
Very soon I’ll be part of this mad kid’s zoo.
Yes it’s true I was once top of the line.
Until what happened was less than devine.
Years of abuse at the hands of Damien.
Until he threw me out, like he thought I was maybe done.

Sitting proud on a heap ‘o trash.
It’s hardly a leap to say I’ve crashed.
Then, like a bolt, a thought struck me hard.
I’m the dealer and now hold all the cards.
This trash heap, this is my Kingdom.
Now I rule I can have some real fun.

As other toys arrive I lay down the law.
‘Wherever you’re from it won’t be like before’.
The message is clear, they want me to rule.
They know as a leader I’ll be super cool.
But one, like a fool, rises against me.
‘If you lead we’ll never be free!’ he cries.
I stand to face him and see fear in his eyes.

My God, is this what I’ve become?
In my efforts to evolve I’ve turned into Damien.
This makes me freeze and go weak at the knees.
‘Please!’ I implore. ‘It won’t be like that.
Together we’re strong and that’s a fact.’
Slowly, as one, they all come around.

And that became the start of Toy Trash Town.

Over time we’ve built a community.
Part of the world where we can be free.
We had to scrap for it though, battling each day.
Fighting those that became so throwaway.

Take the red pill

Feeling naughty, just hit 20 and I’m halfway to 40.
‘You laugh now son, you’ll blink and you’ll be 40’, my dad said, putting unwelcome thoughts into my adolescent head.
Jesus. At this rate it won’t be long until I’m dead, until I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. Until, through hard graft and toil, I’m laying on a cold slab watching my soul call a cab as my beautiful brain and body spoils and sags.

We constantly joke about getting old because we don’t know when we’re going to go. If we did I’d be betting bold, so at the end of it all I’ve got something worthwhile to show.
Although who I’m showing I don’t know.
If there is a heaven, maybe my only way in is through laying low, avoiding temptation and just saying no?
But where’s the fun in that?
Do you really want a humdrum existence, one where your dignity remains intact?
What would you learn about yourself if you followed that path?

It’s time I hit you with a hard truth and one that will smart. Your plan will fail and not by half, it’ll come crashing down and you’ll sink fast.
Neither heaven nor hell await you but pergatory. A nothingless void.
In this there is no survival, you will be destroyed.

My advice to you?

Take the red pill. It will stick in your throat and you’ll feel ill, the pain will overwhelm and you’ll want to kill but persevere, quitting takes no skill.
As the drug takes effect you’ll once again be able to feel, your spidey senses will tingle as your body starts to chill.
But don’t be afraid or dismayed, you’re just going through change.

Coming out the other side you’re a butterfly, no longer shackled by the past you soar high, emotions hit you like a flood and you roar and cry.
You’re an eagle now you’re free.
All it took was one little pill and once again you could breathe.
In the end, all you had to do… was believe.

The Age of Adaline: Who wants to live forever?

There’s a TV show I’m watching at the moment called Forever, starring Ioan Gruffudd as the lead character who cannot age. In each episode something happens to trigger his memory to a time in his past when a similar thing happened. Thus we learn a little about his character and it gives him a chance – in a knowing voice-over – to impart his wisdom on the strange things people do that shapes their lives.

It’s an easy watch, not too taxing and has a certain degree of charm. In the case of The Age of Adaline a similar flashback technique is regularly employed, but it tends to slow the whole story down to a plod at best, but let’s start, as most stories do, from the top.

THE-AGE-OF-ADALINE-ADALINE

We meet Adaline (Blake Lively) working in a library in modern-day San Francisco. We learn (through the first of many lethargic flashbacks) that she was in an accident decades ago which causes her not to age – and to avoid suspicion she keeps people at arm’s length and changes identity every ten years.

You know the message of the film before it’s even got going. If you continually push people away you’ll never really live, blah blah. To get her living life she meets handsome stranger Ellis Jones (Dutch actor Michiel Huisman, most recently seen as Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones) who eventually cracks her frosty exterior and forces her to make a choice – after much to-ing and fro-ing – to live and actually love.

adaline3

But, like I say, you know all this. You’ll see it coming a mile away.

What you probably don’t count on is, halfway through, with the story heading the way we expect, we get treated to the pleasure of Harrison Ford turning up as Ellis’s dad, William. As things flag a little he gives everything a much needed lift and brings real warmth, gravitas and star power to proceedings.

In essence, he shows the youngsters how this acting lark is done.

adal2

As a lead, Blake Lively is perfectly fine. Nothing she does will really blow you away but it’s a solid performance. In terms of looks you can see why she was cast; there’s a sort of timeless beauty about her that fits well. I spent the film’s first third giving her a hard time, likening her to a poor woman’s Rosumund Pike (who would have been great), but Lively does get better as she goes on and I warmed to her eventually. Damning with faint praise you might say, but praise nonetheless.

Returning to my earlier point about TV; as a story this one is slight and doesn’t feel that cinematic. Plus the regular flashbacks – which work well in the episodic nature of the small screen – do grind things to a halt here, testing even the most patient moviegoer.

Take Forest Gump for example. A guy sits on a bench and tells his story and each flashback is a joy as his life was so varied and full of excitement. Plus Hanks really sells it.

Blake-Lively-Michiel-Huisman-Film-Age-Adaline

The problem with Adaline is that her flashbacks all seem to be wistful, melancholy and full of remorse, which makes for a rather strained watch and she becomes difficult for the audience to like on any level.

The title of this blog, as some of you may have spotted, refers to the song by Queen in Highlander, a beautiful track that elevated a bit of a B-movie. Yet… even there the main character led an exciting life. And the flashbacks helped serve a dramatic story in the present. In The Age of Adaline her tale in the present day is just a straight up romance. C’mon guys, you need to mix it up a little.

So there you have it. A passable film with a reasonable cast and a bit of a wobbly concept. One to catch on a Sunday night but maybe skip at the cinema.

Death

Death. What is death anyway?
If life is a journey from the cradle to the grave, where does it all end? How are we supposed to behave?
Religion has us all believing that we’re part of the plan, that if we stand up and help our fellow man we’ll be welcomed in, absolved of sin and born again.
There’s comfort in that I suppose. And for those of us that chose a different path, what then? Are we out on our arse? Straight to hell in a handcart?
Death frightens me I’ll admit it.
Whether heaven or hell await me I can’t say. For all I know my path is pre-ordained, like a stain on the carpet of life no matter the strife I endure I am constant until the end.
Do I have an arc? Am I supposed to learn something along the way?
Am I supposed to love, hate, work and pray?
Let’s say religion is for suckers but praying has a place, like meditation it takes us to a space where our minds can be free. Free to sing and dance and soar beyond ourselves, to transcend.
But this is only momentary, fleeting, short-lived. Like a damp squib our lives can be extinguished in the blink of an eye.
There’s nothing sadder than the moment after a party popper is released.
The climax has come and gone, all too sudden.
We cease.

Ps. Some of you may notice the feature image for this piece is Death, one of the endless, taken from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. Neil worked with Terry Pratchett from time to time and they were friends. Terry died last month and this is my tribute to him. ‘Why not use Death from the Discworld series then?’, some of you may ask. Whilst he’s a great character he felt too masculine. I felt this piece needed a female Death, hence one of the endless.