I need a whisky. What’s the use shaking your head to it. Huh?

I’m sullen. Got the mopes! Oh-kay?!

It’s closing in. I want to spit on it! & go Vamooooosh! Trapped by tender memories, that’s my trouble. Too many tears. Still drying.

It’s the way it turned out. I knew it at the beginning. I got to know it more.

Who’d have thought there was more. Who’d have thought there was no end. What you pay for the pleasure!

It was love. What was meant to last? Sometimes I thought maybe.

Can’t call it love. Love’s a word that’s lost its meaning. I can’t explain it. I can’t explain it to myself – Mountain out of a molehill! The lot of it!

It’s the classic act! Get a bit of wind in your sails! I could explain it.

But it’s nothing! It’s the whiff of something wonderful. It’s still in the nostrils after the sting in the tail.

I became a loner. Moreso. Shut myself up. A cork in the ocean, message in the bottle full of water and sinking. Deep!

People’d yell out insults. Where’s he shambling off to! He’s gone nuts!

To think he was so tight on the wire! He’s fell off!

They lapped it up. They knew better. I was tongue-tied. Had no answer. Fishbone stuck in my throat. I’d lit a few fireworks. That was it! Show’s over! I found my natural bent and lost it.

They were pleased – Couldn’t see a comeback. I’d had a few kicks. I’d been around. I had a few gorgeous memories. I’m no sentimentalist. No violins please!

I withdrew. Got out of it. Dropped the lot! I’d had enough! Drank a lot whisky. Packed my trunk. Found a little room, sat down and trilled. A budgerigar in a cage. A sob story!

Now they see their opportunity! Think they can approach you. Think they’re up to it! I wanted none of it. Save myself the trouble of telling ’em! Just clear out!

They were still hearing the news about museum pieces. Didn’t even realise there was a gap to be plugged!

Standing there – not sure what to do when all you got to say to them is Scram! Get out of my hair! Beat it!

Then they get the message. It filters through! A hundred casual comments in the same vein coalesce as a solitary insolent remark.

They think you’re a shit for stringing ’em along. Never quite dawns on them they were slow on the uptake.

I don’t know if I’ll come to a bad end though I sometimes feel I have the ticket right there in my pocket and it’d be a pity to waste it.

I walked the hopeless streets. The tired streets. The piss-stained streets. People’d put money in my hand. I chucked it in the gutter!

Let’s be honest. Illusions! That’s what spoils our youth. We get lost and before we know it we’re not in the running no more. From the beginning, never were.

You were so little – you should have known you’d be a washup. Besides, the world’s got better things to do than waste its stake on you. Why so puzzled? Is it a surprise? The world’s tired of you!

It should have gone smoothly. It would have gone smoothly. We had Revolution in our hearts, we got the sickness. The drooling worm turning. Such disappointment! – no use bragging after so many blunders. Once tenacious, are no more.

You ran away with your infatuation. There’s always a fall guy. There’re the things you don’t see. It got me down. I’m big enough to admit it.

Even the people on my side, they’re beneath me. There’s nothing else to do but talk about what a pity it’d be to take twenty years to think through what’d take five minutes now if I could think hard enough.

When you’re young you have so many useless scruples, make promises to yourself about what you’ll do when you’re older. Then you never get it together, life starts to look like a dirty trick’s been played on you.

If you let it bother you you’re a jackass, and if you don’t – Yip-i-addy-i-ay!

If you keep your distance, if you finish sucking your thumb before going on the prowl, then maybe you get back on the rails.

If you’re shabby looking, just a loafer, people think they know you off by heart, they don’t bother to think you got echoes of yearning reverberating through your thoughts, tramping the streets with nothing better to do.

They think you’ve turned your back on the joy of living, never crosses their minds you might have had it all but lost it and don’t know where to find it any more.

It all runs amok. Each man killing his greatest dream, partly out of fear, partly because he feels it in his bones that he must before it kills him.

Everywhere half-fulfilled dreams are plundered for what they’ve got, no-one expects them to go full term. Eat what we can before the worms get at it. Even tiny sparks we put out with our slobbering spittle salivating over the tinder.

Face it! Your mind’s smashed in! Your hopes? – Ripped off! You were squeezed out the tube way before it started to pinch.

Yip-i-addy-i-ay – i-ay!


First published November 1989. Originally hand-set in lead in Perpetua and hand-printed in a limited edition of 75 copies, each with a marbled dust-jacket and a hand-coloured linocut (above), at The Herculaneum Press, London.