Thinking about art

Thinking about art
It’s funny
I like to just let it happen
The group energy zaps a crayon whiz
Thinking about art
It’s meant to
Make me laugh or go
“Cool Hat!”
Because if I can control
Is it pithy signals?
Book of the Month
(That’s a reference to the Book of the Month club which cost £49.95 for a yearly subscription but for a starter offer you could pay £19.95 and get three books absolutely freeeee-ish-cept Asterix, You agree to two further years at full digital price . Dan Brown Digital Fortress with the crazy eyepatch chief. I can seee the motorbike chase’s end eighteen chapters in the future, same is Demons and Angels. Oh, there’s David Copperfield, I like a bit of Dickens)
Oh – Soci-ology
The deep end of the pool
So many species, a real
Cross sampool
Ever house in many street
All the fields in university
Criminal’s papers in our wee shops
Piano keys and fucking telly
It’s funny I like to
Just let it
When I could move in
Take the propaganda out to a recycling bin
De-weed the bus stop
Put up timetables
Hey, let’s paint over that wall
As well, the one, you know,
‘Tout is a Tout and A Drug Dealer’
Or ’18 Died For What’
(block caps off)
The message on from there
If there’s a message there
It’s on my wall, looking ugly, badly phrased, not like Banksy or Jim Stewart or Dan Eggs
The group energy zaps a crayon whiz
Consistent lettering
On Twitter future

Five hundred unseen
Gallery flyers
Equal my comic costs or this poem
Thinking about art
They might even be
Cut and folded to
Mean make me laugh
“Cool Hat!”

The Monkey Crooks (1980)

the monkey crooks

I drew that picture last month.

I wrote this in 1980.

The monkey crooks

I pulled on the monkey costume and looked in the mirror. I did it to see what it was like in the cage. That night they put us in the house to sleep. I forgot to escape. Some of the men stole us. In the morning we woke up before the men. We all went into our cage (which was really the means room) we played with the alarm clock. Then I noticed it was an alarm clock. The other monkeys woke the man up. A monkey snatched his nightcap and put it on. Then he threw it at him. He fell down the stairs. It woke the other one up. I threw Sugar Puffs at them. I rang the police. They came to get me but at that moment the police came in and said, “What a clever monkey!”

Corrie (as if by Grant Morrison)

Corrie (as if by Grant Morrison)
by Richard Barr, co-plotted by Andy Luke

The Superhero had never before in his existence felt such powerlessness hollow out his multidimensional soul. In Earth Year: 1992, via the Word Processor of series creator Hamish Dillinger, he was incarnated into the village of Glendarroch, in the soap opera Take the High Road. Here he was Nigel Jenkins, cockney wide boy and bringer of Capitalist Shopping Resort doom to the sleepy Scottish village.

Standing on a hill overlooking Glendarroch, as he did in that final episode, as the set props and backdrops suddenly took on a garish, artificial feel (something common in all final episodes of cancelled shows, he later reflected) he listened to the velvety intonations of the mysterious Mister Spinetti, Mall Entrepreneur and Serial Community Leveller, telling him to persuade those gentle country folk below to accept his plans for village annexing and Consumerist Terraforming.

Such a waste, he thought, such a workaday tragedy. Another daytime Soap Opera crescendo squandered. On his final return to the set of his (now) Balsawood home, he did wish that for once he could control the destiny of those hard-done-by characters he found himself inhabiting…

Between the veils The Superhero perceived a number of work men coming onto the set and lifting the props away. In this world, his world, the world of make believe and multi-recycled story narratives, the bits and pieces of his life as Nigel Jenkins disappeared into thin air, and then, finally, he did, too.

…And back into Fractal Time Hyper-Conscious Anthropologiverse he went. Travelling through a multi-laned, multi-coloured hi-way of hi-def, fibre optic pixilation, across landscapes of dusty literature and comic book tropes. But he always knew it was the dimension given to Soap Opera in which he belonged.

His essence, transmuted via the sweaty fingertips of veteran TV writer Gildare Hazzenbottom onto the very grimy screen of his Commodore PC monitor by way of a well-bashed keyboard, did then pour into one Ken Barlow the second, prodigal son of Coronation Street patriarch, Ken Barlow, who, he was none too surprised to find, was much put out at his impromptu arrival.

But that staple of Soap Opera interpersonal relating was the very least of his worries…for there was something happened on his arrival on the hollowed, cobbled Coronation Street, something that’d never happened before in the usually flawless processes involved in spawning a new Soap Opera character.

As usual a portal opened in a place much mentioned but never seen in-soap, in this case Bessie Street Post Office. Ken Barlow the second, as again was usual, stepped through the portal, hauling with him that year’s entire set of outfits in a big old suitcase. And this is where this particular character spawning cast aside normalcy…

…A shift occurred in the chest of Ken Barlow the second. He noticed this first. Suddenly his stomach was engorged, blooming like an aggressive tumour. From out of his arse spilt the liquid matter of Other Ken, played by Prince William (in an EarthPlane cameo appearance aimed at making the Royals relevant and down with it…)

“I am Prince William, your heir to…I mean, sorry…I am Other Ken. I am here to herald the Great Convergence. A resident of Coronation Street Roy Cropper has been using his idiot savant genius to mess with SoapPlane’s laws of Space/Time. The convergence of Soap Realities, an event not prophesised to happen for at least another millennia, is happening now due to that oddball’s meddling, and there is nothing you can do to stop it!”

With a stagey laugh, Other Ken disassembled his amorphous liquid essence and ran down a gutter. Ken Barlow the second had a lot to do.

All around Coronation Street, The Convergence was manifesting in the most fantastical ways, signs and portents which sent the children of Bessie Street Primary into a cannibalistic, lustful rage. Little Simon Barlow hopped on octogenarian Emily Bishop, causing SoapPlane’s first ever colostomy- (as opposed to gym-) –slip pregnancy. But none of the other characters seemed to take much notice – they were all much too concerned with their own Convergence visions.

Hard Man Owen, aged beau of Anna, began a steamy affair with Coronation Street veteran seductress Sally Webster. Then Sally, spotting her reflection in the windows of The Rover’s Return, began to have an affair with herself, resulting in her carrying on her back a near full-length mirror every episode. Sally and her mirror, housing within its frame her always-shocked expression, then did a declaration of their love bit in the Rovers during the Christmas special, where, by this point, Ken Barlow the second had found work as a barman.

Yet Ken Barlow the second wasn’t the only prodigal child to return to Coronation Street in the episodes (not days, see) before The Convergence. Norris Cole didn’t even recall having his son Norris Jr., who arrived with a great Cole family fortune, made from his exploitative dating website Alf Roberts (of Summer Bay) crawled through a pregnant Emily Bishop’s washing machine (via Dot Cotton’s laundrette on Albert Square) claiming he’d help Mrs Bishop raise her colostomy-slip baby. Unfortunately Alf Roberts was still suffering his PTSD hallucinations from the ‘Nam and with a rifle he’d made using the 3D-printer at Dev’s shop, he went out onto t’street and did a Hungerford.

Elsewhere, Kevin the Mechanic, standing in aged Thundercat Rita’s kabin, was shocked and ashamed to discover that on the front page of the Weatherfield Gazette was a man named Michael Turner, who looked just the spit of him, that’d been accused of the most heinous and filthy crimes against his own daughter.

Up in the skies above Weatherfield, Other Ken flew around there naked as the day he was born, save for Edna Sharples dusty hairnet which he’d found while rifling through Deidre Barlow’s dildo drawer.

I’m bored, he thought. I know, I’ll speed up this Convergence thing and rip a big hole in the sky.

And as the sky tore, the noise accompanying it was the whining strings of the Coronation Street theme tune.

On the screens of EarthPlane television sets, a purple faced and flustered Julian Simmons announced that night’s televisual entertainment.

“…and so due to the shock conglomeration of the drama departments of the BBC, ITV, actually, every television station in the world, tonight at 7.30 we’ll have Coronation Street’s Days of Our Lives Dynasty Doctors. Tomorrow night, Eastenders of Home & Away Bring Back Their Sons & Daughters…


Back on Coronation Street every strata of soap opera trope and event spilt forth from the hole ripped in the firmament by Other Ken. The shark that ate Tom in Home & Away landed with a splat on Jason Grimshaw, killing the thick fuck instantly. From The Colby’s came the Flying Saucer that abducted Fallon, which hovered over the Kebab Shop menacingly. The Peruvian terrorists who had shot up the wedding party at the end of S01E12 (for this is how the calendars appear on SoapPlane) Dynasty rushed the Rover’s return shooting Peter, Carla and Ken Barlow. Ken Barlow the second, who’d forgotten for many episodes that he was also The Superhero, ran from behind the bar, slumped to his knees, and screamed the place down as he lay cradling the dying head of his father.

With great anger he rushed out onto Coronation Street shaking his fist at the sky.

“I will end you!” he screamed at Other Ken, flying about the sky with great abandon.

“Embrace it, Ken Barlow the second. The Convergence is well under way.”

Remembering that Other Ken had told him it was all Roy’s doing, bringing on the Great Convergence, he ran at Roy’s Rolls, shoulder first, right through the door.

Seated at a dark-wood table next to the counter, Roy was listening intently to George Noory on Coast 2 Coast FM, who at that moment was talking about Time Travel. All around the dim café snaked Roy’s train set with many model trains whizzing along it.

“Ken Barlow the second,” said Roy, his strange eyes squinting.

“What have you done, Roy?” screamed Ken Barlow the second. “You have sped up The Convergence.”

“I was only trying to reach my beloved Hayley, who is dead but is now a comet in space, using my train set as a stargate for a way into outer space. I want to be out there, with my Hayley, floating along, a particle in her tail.”

“But you’ve sped up The Convergence, you fool. What are we going to do?”

“Our only hope is Bob Jiggery.”

“Who’s he?”

“He runs a dance studio/pornographic film studio in the large attic that runs along the tops of the houses of Coronation Street. Also, he has a peculiar hobby reassembling bits of old characters. I think if we go to Mr Jiggery and ask him to assemble all the toughs who’ve left Coronation Street, like Big Jim McDonald, Jez the drug dealer, men like that, then we would have a specimen hard enough to kick the shit outta Other Ken.”

“Take me to him.”

Bob Jiggery was more than happy to help Ken Barlow the second assemble his Coronation Street hardman. In a matter of minutes he had the fists of Big Jim mixed with the brawn of Jez and the cunning of Mike Baldwin. Ken Barlow the second, lifting the hardman by the waist, flew skyward, toward Other Ken, who on seeing the cut of the hardman, cacked himself.

What ensued was not so much a fight as a pounding. Other Ken, played by Prince William on EarthPlane, was beat beautiful by the fists of Big Jim. He fell to the ground in a lump of blue blooded mush, as Ken Barlow the second closed the hole in the firmament, the noise accompanying the whining strings of the theme tune now in reverse, manifesting back-masked words extolling Satan, causing church-going God fearer Emily Bishop to fall to the cobbles and give birth to her colostomy-slip baby, which dim village idiot character Kirk named Schmichael, after his much loved dead dog.

And with the birth of this ugly baby from an elderly mother, things returned to normal on Coronation Street – affairs, incest, alcoholism, gun play, long losts…, arson, skulduggery…and all that other detritus of human juju, and all occurring along that short street in that Northern Industrial Town…



The Rejected

DeSpayer was a thin Count, mucky, but on the outside top line black waist-coat and bow tie. Only the nose (shaped like an arrow head), gave any indication of irregularity. This quiet statesman kept his poly amorous souls buried in the thickest soil. Deep beneath the villa, golden rays warmed the mountain top and at it’s bottom, Atlantic rapids blanked the rocks to ice the prison boundaries.

Chad and Martin III, the poor Easygate: so young and hard and lost, the richer sibling Grace, Waldo (of gardens), each withered away one by one. In turn, in that carved out hollow, they passed around their stories of who they were before. They passed on their skills. They held each other strongly. After the first month, the captor was only spoken of indirectly: Valiantisha wth the spike in her chest, and Harry, who called himself The Battered, were the last remaining. Raw worm and accidental fish were not enough to keep the scourges gone. Waldo would not last long.

She bound and grabbed Grace’s legs and dug days and nights. Likewise with Harry. Using Easygate’s shoulders, he knocked rocks from out of the way. Valiantisha barely knew Chad, the first architect of their space then and once again as his body held up the fortifications they had hard won. It was Autumn when their white forms emerged from one dangerous side of the cliff. Waldo was first, his lifeless head a shovel. As the way became clearer, Harry emerged but blocked the hole for a while before the situation dawned on Valiantisha. She tossed his body over to the unforgiving expanse below. As ordered she had stripped the shoes from his feet first and marched them towards DeSpayer’s bedroom were she put an elbow bone through the Count’s skull.

The Count’s living room was sofas built of clean sponge parts, baige loungers in an open planned suite, with minimalist features. The glass was open to the sun, wine red shag curtains remote controlled for days of torrential assault. Between the oriental rugs, in the centre a jewel was embedded. When the time suited DeSpayer, the subterranean victims appeared there in hologram. They screamed in dental anguish, dirt leaked from the curtains. Cut open, wounds appeared as the rejected scrabbled against wooden dividers. Over time as the show was uglier, ivy grew, and Valiantisha drew nearer. Her money was enough to buy new cameras and commission a new show, called The Rainbow of Damage Control. DeSpayer’s former business colleagues were murdered in a manner much like the great purges. Assets were seized: it’s okay to call it pest control if pests are culled.

The Rainbow of Damage Control Show featured planes in emergency evacuation missions. Thousands of people airlifted in a 24 hour challenge. Flat pack transformer fortress were dropped for those unable to leave. Valiantisha died an old woman in a happier world.

The Rat Files

Stormont was an iconic parliament building, three levels of ten windows along either side of six columns out front. After the War, the removable paint never really removed, and the building lost the ‘white house’ look. Despite that, the hill added to it’s stature and Stormont was visible from various parts around Belfast. No parliament could sit in the long low intensity conflict, so there was no heavy security installation. Instead the building had a heritage house feel, albeit closed, though the acres around were publicly open. Our family moved to the area in 83, and my brother and I would take the ball ten minutes for a kick about the grounds, which were green and wide.

One day while watching the Roland Rat Show, Roland announced he and Kevin would tour the UK. This was sort of big. Roland was the fore-runner to the grunge movement, a brash, outrageous knit. He didn’t care for pleasing the typical lot with demand for primary colours. He was grey and animatedly pushed boundaries. He was arrogant, translated as, self-confident for a reason. Kevin the Gerbil by contrast was so pink, so welcoming, that his straight-ness was bent, gay iconic with an unassuming air. And maybe, Kevin was Roland’s beard. Jokes were made of his subservience, but his agenda of conformity opened up not just the Marxist dialogue, but also that of social interactionism. For conformity had it’s reasons. The biggest news.

The biggest news in all this was that Northern Ireland was recognised as the fourth region of the UK. Roland Rat Superstar was to ignore the Irish sea, fuck a two fingers to the war of the Troubles, he was coming. Blue Peter didn’t bother, ITV’s many paranormal productions never filmed here, John Craven treated us with the same black-out mentality as Police Six, which was supposed to be local! So, Graeme and I made our plans. One Friday morning, after London, Roland announced they were coming. We got mum to make sandwiches, and packed an apple, and a biscuit from the biscuit barrel, into a green plastic (Tupperware) container. By mid-day we were at the gates of Stormont. We kicked the ball diagonally, broad strokes, hoping that it might be intercepted by a film crew.

By Sunday gate closing we were worried. It was the summer holidays and come half eight the next morning we set off for what we were sure would be a live show. Roland never came. We heard it in the air that yes, indeed, he was in Northern Ireland. So why hadn’t he come? On Tuesday with lunches, no Roland, no Kevin. Not even Errol the hamster. We ate everything we had and stayed on two hours after the show ended. I told Graeme we might see the crew set up for the next day, but it was probably desperation on my part, I could see he had given up. On Wednesday I left the ball behind and when it became clear he wasn’t showing up I ran home. Graeme confirmed Rat On The Road had reached Northern Ireland, in some place called Ballycastle. One of the Ballys, one of the Castles. It didn’t sound too impressive.

On Thursday I stayed in the living room and watched as the TV-AM cameras tried to show the hexagonal stepping stones known as Giants Causeway and the wild exposing ocean. The two slithers of sock puppets traversed these inter-locking columns, their missing feet skipping the playfulness. A sixty million year old rock formation, it was suggested comedy happened, as Roland and Kevin’s wires were blown across the wide open landscape. There was no rain and I was unconvinced. I can’t care what happened on Friday. By Monday, he and Kevin were in Wales. There were no people there. I didn’t care about that either, how he’d much rather follow an isolationist agenda. By Tuesday he met people, were he hoarded cheese, and lorded it over them. Wales was the birthplace of Errol the hamster, but The Rat made quite clear Errol was only in the band to suit his prerogatives. By Wednesday, Roland had the people of Wales by the balls. Errol was a lost figure, Kevin was a dithering sycophant, the puppet government was in place.

Tenement Tao

The cleverest things in the world are the toughest to speak of concisely. Our marriage had hit a rut and the only way for it not to die, to not slip through grass to a ravine, was to talk. It wasn’t about always telling the truth, sometimes I lies so she would follow, and sometimes I’d not talk, and she’d sing. Caught inside one another, watching each other smile. Electrack Street, Garbage City was behind us for Sublime, a small village were people emitted pink love hearts as they passed. I recall unpacking one box and wondering at what point we’d thrown out the stereo. The Flaming Lips, under a thick sheet of dust. Well, that couldn’t go in Jonas’ nursery.

Marry-Jane and I listened: every bawl, every wail, every boo-oo-aa. We were glad we’d traded Electrack Street for him; every moment, though, he was so tiny, like a little sausage cartoon clone of me, every moment was not not precious. There was noise, and noise and ringing scorching headache. When sleepy, he was a doorway to a world of New Age delivery, of de-cluttered living. We basked in him like he was the Tahiti sun, our perfectly put together boy. He walked and said, “Air”.

He stopped screaming and the night reminded me of my own parents. At the dock, after hours waiting for the boat to come in with Dad getting a sleep behind the wheel and Mum making us juice from the caravan behind. The other children, between the still cars, and the lorries. It was something deep black and spiritual, a promise of pioneering as harboured boats chimed in the wind. It was going to be okay.

There was no acid then, no wrong vinegar. Sure, he got into trouble, but nothing too off. Just like any other boy, except I got the feeling he was improving the curve. He had a paper round which he took some pride in. That Christmas his mum and I gave money for choice. That was the moment when we let One Direction into our home with their wonderful song-writing skills, their catchy tunes and refreshing perspectives teaching the three of us the way of the world.

Exactly a year later, Jonas burned tied to the basement table, while Mary-Jane and I wrapped wheels through LA streets, boiling petrol towards our new lives in Alaska.

Bloody Templates


I can see in the dark. It’s not deadly. There’s layers, and things we bring. Memories, grins, carrots and hummus, shades of sun, different colours. (I have a lot of white) Some memories are very strong, I’ve lived here for years. No music plays now, but I remember Blake Leyh’s closing credits to The Wire which sound like the marina car park, the Flaming Lips Yoshimi rock opera of holiness. When the electric increases it’s range I’ll feel comforted, but sometimes I like the risk. Crossing to the far end without knocking anything over is my own private talent show. Somewhere in those late hours I’ll let a mess grow. I’m going to step away from the screen now. I can see what’s at the other end, although it’s dark.

Flee Street

Do you wanna publish? Do you wanna publish? Let’s go. It’s periodicals. Drive the barons of the papers out of business. And you’ve got a team of writers ploughing through human rights periodicals. We’re communicating. Periodicals, easy cheap. Permanent type is so 18th century dear. Not 1,000 per vendor – five in every shop. Committee hyperfiction. And we’re in the exhibition about exhibitions now exhibiting our own exhibition journals and A4e bomb planes bastardise the flesh of forty year old language teachers who were once little children.

And that teachers a terrorist, and you’re a terrorist: Monica, Colin, Tracey, Hugh, Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha the headline. Christopher in Serial Naplaming Shock, Ha Ha Ha, and now we can all sleep, because it’s 11 a.m.

Aren’t they ready to learn? Rosaleen? Can’t we teach these painters of crap? Learn. It’s fun. Next person. Shh. Learn. Ha ha ha Headline.

But My Finger

There, the most floatiest macaroon lemur Todd rode midday. Cantaloupe no surprise raffles canyon feathers back back and give security. Wax scaffold fun ordered Molly Coddles’ barber flying, now I’m on line. Boaters’ Margarette was the cake – commercial yet co-operate, social animal.
“I know you meant Battenburg”, said Paul.
“It’s time you woke up and learned the truth”, spoke the megaphone, but my finger pointed up to improvised paradox dream laid manifesto to save the macaroon lemur.

Doodles Writer in September

Faith sketches, they might have been called. A long-backed rhomboise mounting a flap-bad owl spectra ship. The other had a butterfly’s look but also French Toast marked by black ink outlines repeated. The antennae might have been twigs, or cherries, and were accompanied by a commercial witch’s broomstick. Flow lines.