There was a time when I felt compelled to keep an eye on what I read from a point of view of what might be socially desirable.

There – that’s a mouthful.

There was the possibility, at one time, that I might have an academic career, and I think I thought I had better read what would be considered ‘interesting’.

I got good marks for my essays.  I had got to a point where I thought I had to leave the course, or throw everything I had at it – embrace what was there on the table for the picking-up, if I dared.

The table, by that time, had lost its fourth leg.

Over the space of a year and a half-term, everything I had held dear had been knocked out from under me.

I decided to take hold of the broken table, never mind what might have been on it.

I wrote my essays using popular fiction techniques.

And started reading more literary-style fiction.

These days, I don’t keep on my shelves anything that I don’t like, or think I won’t read again.

It is the writer who makes the text, although that writer cannot be found there.


If you ate crystals, wouldn’t they cut your insides – as powdered glass that murderers sometimes use?

Would it be necessary to get God’s blessing before partaking of it?




I got off the bus at the stop that isn’t usual for me – except that it could become so (I was on my way to the library), and what I heard – ‘Amazing Grace’, tin-whistle style.

My glasses are not very good (I must get my eyes tested when I have time) but I could see him when I looked behind me.  He was sitting the other side of one of those stand-up signs that you find outside shops.

Out of the wind.  He was out of the wind.  The wind was ferocious.  (The sign must have been planted deep – or anchored with weight – or he must have been anchoring it in some way, stopping it, at least, from swinging in that wind.)

I was sure it was him.

I suspect he knows only that one tune.

If you, dear reader, expect a continuation (now that he has been mentioned twice) of the appearance of this guy into this plot – forget it.  That doesn’t necessarily happen – not in real life.

I didn’t approach him.  I left him behind.

I turned my face into the wind.

It blew even more strongly – honestly, I was nearly blown off my feet – but I managed to pull myself (with superhuman effort) into a bus stop, one of those with perspex-wraparound, and held on there until I thought the worst of that blast was done.

But I was gauging the distance to the main road ahead, and the lights there – would I be safe to cross?

I trusted my own judgement, got to the lights (almost blown off-course), got over the crossing, and into a widely-paved area that had a park on one side, and a law court on the other.

When I was in my cave, before, and there were wild animals outside that I wanted to avoid, and skins at the back where I retreated (wanting to wrap myself in those, probably, wanting to keep warm) – does this mean that I’d already killed, and skinned, some wild animals that roamed out there?

Do I fish in the rivers?

She found a note in her pocket that she had left for herself: ‘I might quietly shut things down while I find my feet.’

To the best of her knowledge, she hadn’t done that, but the note must have been important or she wouldn’t have written it in the first place.  She supposed that to ‘quietly shut things down’ had been an option, at the time.

She was looking everywhere for books she had found – and shelved in one spot so she could look at those and decide which she would take home.

She was in the library.

She was with one other person, a woman, who was around somewhere.

She had listened to the first talk, and had met the woman – the woman had whispered something to her that she didn’t quite hear, but the tone had been, ‘how can we possibly do this?’, and she had smiled.

Everyone else had left for lunch, but she thought she would do a preparatory look-round.  They had been given a book-list, and homework questions.  Presumably, the woman, who had disappeared further into the library, had thought the same.

She looked in one area, found some of the books on shelves.  There were quite a few of them.  She took one off, opened it, read some guff.

Another had plenty of information in it also, and another.

She carried those, and looked behind the immediate shelves, and found more.

And then more in another spot.

All the books were thin.

They all had pastel-coloured rectangular title-slots, as though they were a set.

She began to group the books together in a wide empty space on a shelf where she had been in the first place.

She looked for more, and then more – they were all here, those recommended books, but she couldn’t carry them all home.  She would need to decide which interested her most – to start off with.

But there were more books and more and she gathered them – five or six at a time – and took them to the shelf near where the talk had taken place, and where something else would resume, once lunch-time was over.

She put the last she had found in the space with the others, and went to check – just to see – though she thought she had found them all.

She had lost sight altogether of the woman she had been in here with, but there were a few more people in the library now.

She decided she had better cut short her search.  Time seemed to be getting on.  She would make a decision over a few books, grab something to eat, and get back here for the afternoon session.

She went to where she had stored the books she’d found – and the gap in the shelf was back – all the books she’d gathered had gone.

She couldn’t believe it, and ran round other parts of the library, thinking it must have been somewhere else that she’d put them.

Again and again she ran round shelves, and back to the one where she thought she had left the books.

She thought of asking the librarian, but knew it would be pointless.

Someone from the course had taken every single one.

She had none of those now, and she hadn’t at all looked at their contents – not after the first few she had found.

How was she going to do the homework now, with nothing to work from?

She had merely facilitated those others in their endeavours.

She was close to a window, and looked out of it.

She could see a mountain-range in the distance.  There was a storm over that way.  The peaks of the range, broken bones, gnashed like teeth – monstrous.

Something had split.

Some fine thread.

I’ve been away fighting demons.

No.  Not those sort of demons.

“The past is in the past.  Forget the past,” Dad used to say.

“Bury it,” Dad’s brother would advocate.

How much do you keep to yourself when you’re trying to make sense of the past in a new age?

People must do it all the time – “Oh, I didn’t tell him that!”

But what must it cost, personally, to keep all this inside?

Dad and Tom managed to survive, in good health, though they did not talk of the past.

For my generation it has been – you must get it said.

It will damage you, they say, if you don’t say.

It’ll all come out!

I’m telling you!

It has to!

Sorry, no matter what I do the god-thing is going to come into this.

When I went into the Health Shop there was a man talking to the two assistants.

He said, “We all eat the wrong stuff.”

I walked past them to get to the shelf where I thought I would find the flax-seed oil.

I heard the man saying something about – God –

I was going to say to him, “I don’t believe in God.”  It was on the tip of my tongue.

But the man went on before I could say anything.  He was on a soapbox all of his own from which no one would sweep him.

“We need to eat more crystals!” he said.

By this time, one of the assistants had moved to my side and asked if she could help me.

I told her what I was looking for, saw it simultaneously with her moving forward to point it out.

“Ah, that’s the one,” I said.

I followed her back to the desk.  She put the amount through the till, and asked me for it.

I got the change out of my purse and a note out of my wallet.

The man had moved a short distance away and was crouching down, looking at some fix-it-all powder-for-punters.

The assistant muttered to the other one, “I’ll put more crystals in my sandwiches.”

I paid the money.  None of us were smiling.  This man was such a weirdo.  How were you supposed to know where he was coming from?

I said thank you to the assistant, put the oil in my bag.

And I left the shop.

I’d said nothing to the man, and in fact, wouldn’t risk it.

He was so entrenched in his ideas, there would be no gainsaying him.

Be who I am at any point.  I think there has been a change-over just recently.  I think it has taken time.  I’ve felt unsteady.  But I feel settled in now.

What was I thinking just then? There was something that is preventing me from sleeping.

It is late at night, maybe at the turn of midnight (late for me) and I am handwriting this, sitting in my chair beside the computer table – oh, there is too much to explain here, and they say you should trim, but I want this continued flow that will surely make me feel better.

It was some man I have known that I was thinking about, when I was lying there, in the bed.

And now I come to where I can’t disclose – I thought I should – I wrote it – but I got rid of an entire potential post because there was too much disclosure there that I didn’t want to make.

This man – I can’t remember now but I know I felt that he did not, for some reason, deserve to be thought of kindly by me.

Until I can think of who I mean, this writing is pointless.

I feel.

But it brought back memories, this thinking of him, of when, for quite a few years, I allowed myself – wrong word –

The wind is up, outside – gusty.

And – I daren’t look at the time.

Insomnia.  I have – no – this isn’t real, as I write.

I must take another painkiller.

In lieu of saying nothing – and here is the title.

I avoid so much in my daily goings-about. Call it survival-instinct.

I expect myself to know everything all at once, castigate myself for lessons not learnt – falling for the same old bullshit again and again.

But you don’t learn that quickly – some things you do not learn quickly.

You have modes of behaviour that have become ingrained since babyhood (it’s okay, I’m only talking to myself).

I avoid a particular sales-assistant in a certain shop, not always, but if I think it is too soon – to be seeing her again – to be served by her.

She’d be astounded if she knew – we pass the time of day – but I don’t want her to pick up on what I regularly buy from there – I can say only so much, but what I buy from there is part of the huge emporium I have built around myself so that I survive.

There is a seller of magazines – a homeless person who lives in council accommodation and who is undergoing schemes of help – to get these magazines to sell you need to be and do that.

But, once, I was scammed by a magazine-seller.

He had one – wrapped in plastic.

I thought it was his last one to sell – they come armed with a stack.

I paid him the money, and he said, “You don’t really want this magazine, do you?”

Well, I didn’t.

I was doing my deed of concern, that was all.

I said that I didn’t.

No doubt, he ‘sold’ it to another.

That was a scam, though I didn’t realise it until later, when I’d had time to think about it.

He would have bought that one magazine, kept it nice and clean in a plastic cover, and ‘sold’ it to gullible people over and over, until the next issue came out, and he’d start the process again – maybe in pastures new, before he became known . . .

I can guess, you see, what he would do.

And now I avoid all sellers of this magazine – I’ve never got over that one experience.  It might seem strange to be scammed, realise it, but fail to get over it.

But that is what has happened.

And they, and other chuggers, are on every street corner – and if you don’t respond it’s, “Have a nice day . . .”

As though they are so much holier than thou!

The sarcasm puts me off; the attempt at manipulation – which is what it amounts to.

And this one that I am avoiding – he stands at the main thoroughfare into the bus station – and he calls me Ms – which can so easily be mistaken for ‘Miss’ – how young I look! – and he hopes to flatter – I’m old, I’m old! – I’m on a pension!

And that, “Enjoy the rest of your day!” as I go past.

If he wasn’t such a scheming little git . . .

And I go by there nearly every day, shopping bags full, my bus pass in my pocket.  If I paid out for a magazine, would that be enough?  Or would he be there, blocking my way, the next day?

But, the other day, I got off the bus at a stop where I don’t usually (I’m on a mission), and I saw a homeless dude sitting at a junction corner.

I did my usual manoeuvre to get past him – there are so many musicians on this stretch and I can’t be paying, every day, for music that I didn’t ask for.

And then I swerved back, and got the coin from my purse.

He was playing a tin whistle.

He was playing ‘Amazing Grace’, and I am not religious.

But that did not put me off.

When I got close, I could see that he was grimy.  I mean really dirty.  His hair, his face, neck, hands, clothes.

And he was shaking.

He was badly shaking, not just a little bit.

Coming down off some drug or other, I could see.

No council shelter for him with its regulations.

I could see he was in too much of a state to accept those.

He was too close to that absolute edge.

And I dropped the coin into his hat.

“Thank you man,” he said.  “Oh, thank you man!”

An old hippie, and I hadn’t heard that sort of lingo for a long time.

“You’re really playing that,” I said, indicating the whistle.  “So many of them are not really playing,” I said.

“No, they’re not.”

He knew what I meant.

There are at least two accordions in that area – you prime them up – as a little robot, I suppose – and then you can do just about whatever you want, and a tune will come out.

I tell you, they pass them around – and I think I am right, though I am not musical at all (hardly).

The people I see with these instruments – you just know there is no way they could be that talented.  You can’t go by looks, but you feel that you just know.

And I walked on from that guy.

And thought of him all day.

I should have given him a note, not a coin.  I should have said, “Here – it’s your birthday.”

And I wouldn’t have cared what he spent it on – once I’d got close, and looked into his eyes, I recognised him from somewhere – at that point, there had been a stop in his speech, as though he knew me, in that instant, also.

But I can’t remember from where I knew him, just thought of a Glastonbury Festival I went to once – when some guy helped himself, excessively, of some dope I carried – but I don’t think this man was him.

You do get old, you know, if you are lucky.

You can’t avoid that – if you get there.

You can plan for it as you are able, but you can’t know how it will happen, whether, in fact, it will happen at all.

had all this when I was on the bus!

I don’t carry a phone any more – only if I think I may need to ring for a taxi while I am out.  No.  I don’t drive.  Could ha’ done, could ha’ done . . .

I don’t carry a phone that I could take notes on – this is what I was going to say.  I carry, instead, in that old-fashioned way, a notebook.

I thought of what I was going to say, got my notebook out of my pocket, looked for the pencil that should have been squashed in with it – it wasn’t there.

I was in the queue – not exactly on the bus at that point – without writing it down, I knew I would have forgotten it, by the time I was on the bus.  Let’s try for some accuracy.

I could have looked in my bag – for the pencil, or a pen – I should have one – I’m a writer – come on!

Something about trust . . .

You can’t look into the future to see, so you need to have some trust.

Without the worry.

That was it!  I was going to say – you need to have faith – if you are religious, you need faith . . .

I am not religious, in fact, and so I trust.

I trust that, within the cosmic wherewithal, things will fall out – one way or another.

I’ve written something else, better than this.

But I’m not putting it here – it is there in my copy of this that I keep.

Something is missing, I say.

I am still working on the boundaries of what a blog is.

I did a course on postmodernism once, and it was all about what postmodernism is.