Tsu Meyn Gelibteh

I could fill a book with the names we gave to you, with the characters those names became.

Ghostface Killah, of course, bestowed when my friends rescued you, all thin and angry and otherworldly. Named, as I later found out, after a spider Sam once lived with, themselves the rapper’s namesake. Then the inevitable diminutives and extractions. Ghostie (your government name), Ghostele, Ghostavic, Ghostly Goatface. There were others, by-and-large mean or scatological. The kind of things young, barely functioning alcoholic men may find the height of wit, omitted here for the sake of all. None of them captured anything of you.

Later came the more realised nom-de-cuddles:

Mrs. Ploppers -CEO of Ploppington Farms (a subsidiary of Globex inc), producers of the world famous Rat Cakes.

Woofles (who developed the ‘Woofle Bounce’ dance sensation)

Mrs. Brenda Miggins, Matriarch of the Miggins family (including young tearaway Billy Miggins, also you). This became just Miggins. Miggs. Miggs Migsley. Miggleacious. Infinite variations, and latterly, your most frequent name.

Mrs. Yum Tufts (owner, proprietor of Yum Tuft Cafe, home of the Yum Tuft)

Pussy Bambini, 1920s Hollywood starlet and studio hellraiser

Booboo ‘Shabooboo’ Miggins, *outrageous* drag queen (unrelated to the Miggins dynasty, also the proprietor of an eatery ‘Shabooboo’s Diner’).

But there is one name I won’t mention. The name your first house gave you. I called you by it just once. The sharp turn, the way you looked at me- frozen, pan-eyed and pin-eared, full of fear and rage. In that moment you told me everything I needed to know about your former life.

I wish I could have known you longer. I wish you were rescued sooner. You quickly went from being a risible, curious house cat, to my dear friend, to my most beloved. I feel robbed of the time we didn’t have, but the time we did is more precious than I can truly express.

The last two years, we looked after you, as you had looked after me through tragedy and near-fatal ailments. Two years of time and emotional weight; of sickening stress and wonder and joy, leaving now an unfillable void I don’t know how to begin to salve or plaster over. But I wouldn’t take any moment back. There would be no holiday I didn’t go on, no event I missed that could equate to the time with you it bought. I’m as glad of this as I am introducing you to Annie. If there’s nothing else good that comes out of my life, I have done this one thing. Introducing two soulmates, two best friends.

The soft, white, roller-proof hairs that clung to everything. Once infuriatingly abundant, they are now so desperately rare.

I can’t bring myself to write much more.

Rest easy, my darling. I hope you find Miles and show him how to really howl.

Paris Song

After 20 (twen-tee!) years, my old band Bogus Gasman have finally released their debut album. It’s called ‘Don’t Get Your Hopes Up’ and you can listen to it HERE

Here’s an old song I did with them. It’s the only one where I sang, it’s the only one that was just us as a 3 piece (shout out Screw and Eoin, the best rhythm section in the game) and easily the shortest one we did, barring the 8-Second Song.

It’s about a time I was in Paris, staying with my mate Sophie, desperately trying to dry myself out after a tough run of life. I spent the days while she was at work exploring the city, and one day I saw something that threw me for an existential loop.

Lyrics:

So, his body was cold
Inflating
Was slow

A peaceful look
Through sober eyes
One (of) the most beautiful things
That I’ve seen for a while



It was recorded by Tim Cedar of the excellent Part Chimp, and my set up here is a Travis Bean TB1000A plugged straight into my Kelly 50 Watt Treble and Bass knock-off, turned ALL THE WAY UP. No pedal, no gain, just an amp so loud it distorts. Beautiful.

Me, my dad and the Blythe

I was recently asked by the Guardian to write a few words about my dad. I was really pleased to do this, as it’s something I would never have done otherwise.

When he read it, my dad responded with “Oy! A eulogy, he’s written!”, to that ever-present invisible audience he delivers all his best jokes to.

I suggested we take the photos in The Blythe Hill Tavern, because it is
a) one of the the best pubs in London/ the country/ the world
and (more importantly)
b) one minute walk from my parent’s house

We sat around and had photos taken of us and felt a bit silly at first, but Camilla Greenwell did a great job of making the whole thing fun and enjoyable. She’s an excellent photographer as well, which helps!

The whiskey we’re drinking is not the whisky that paid for the feature- we were drinking a drop called ‘The Quiet Man’, which I chose on account of the name. When I was a kid we used to go on family holidays, staying at our friends place in Connemara. The John Ford film The Quiet Man was shot nearby, and there are numerous pictures of my old man and I recreating this scene:

Image result for the quiet man bridge
Big leggy

If I ever get round to it, I’ll scan and upload them here.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this.

Cheers

TEEF

I wrote up an account of the time I got my teeth kicked out.

URL here:
https://link.medium.com/swKHLj7OFU

I was inspired by Mayer Nissim‘s account here: https://theovertake.com/~first-birthday/teeth/
As an experiment, I’ve put it up on Medium. Maybe it’ll have more reach, who knows?


Cheers,

Tom

Please Sell No More Drink To My Father

Here’s a high-quality version of ‘Please Sell No More Drink To My Father’, as sung by Elsa Lanchester, the opening verse of which is quoted at the start of my recent story Reconstruction Monument.

The story itself was inspired by the closure of The Charlie Chaplin in Elephant and Castle, and the general way in which South London, a long-maligned and neglected section of the city, is presently being carved up and torn down. Reaction to change is often met with nostalgia, which can easily gloss over the specifics of history. It can also mask or attempt to excuse awful behaviour and attitudes.

Since writing this story, closure of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre has been confirmed, which will displace a large Latinx community.

A Working Epitaph

The Stone is not permission
It does not ask
It does not give
It simply serves
To remind
What little time we have
To Live








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I cross Waterloo Bridge twice a day. Whenever I do, I see Cleopatra’s Needle. It is older than the city it stands in by around a millennium-and-a-half and older than me by double that and 500 years. It was gazed upon by Ramases II, Cleopatra, Ceaser and Mark Antony (and those are just the big names).

The people who carved it are not remembered.

I barely know the name of the person who did my job before me.

I don’t even know the names of all my great-grandparents.

I wrote this poem and recite it to myself every time I see the needle.


To and from work.

Every day.

How many died?

While you were silent
As the last note decayed in the air
Lingering against birdsong
And you bowed your head slightly
In reverence
At the correct angle
Your hand upon your hand
Like a school child
Reciting the rote-learned verse of prayer
As you thought upon
Brave men with moustaches
Or the weather
Or dinners yet to be cooked
Your poppy straight
And just large enough