Sunday, 23 December 2012

It's a Christmas Mirabelle, Charlie Brown

Mirabelle the cat flattened her bones until she was more or less existing in only two dimensions, and slipped under the locked heavy wooden double doors of the Bazaar, rising from the floor on the other side as if re-inflated by the displaced air around her.

She took a moment to allow the scents to settle. Her eyes had immediately adjusted to the half light as the illumination from shafts of moonlight fell into the centre of the main hall and echoed out through trails of dust on either side. What she had to do. of course, was concentrate on switching frequencies in her feline vision so that her view was not crowded by the many hundreds of spirits that were wandering around the Bazaar, some repeating the same sequence of movements in an eternal loop, others seemingly more aware of their surroundings. Mirabelle did not want to see them today. She had learnt that they could not touch her, or, crucially, feed her, but it was mildly irritating when they obscured the clear line of sight to something that she could catch and eat.

She slunk along the dark side of the corridor, scanning the lunar powered spotlights for signs of small four legged movement, but was distracted by an unfamiliar smell that threatened to overpower even the normal assault of spices, rusting metals, dubious fabrics, ancient paper, and various dead things that continually collided in an olfactory whirlwind inside the hall. Something else was here, something that was alive and not alive at the same time.

Opening her jaws slightly she drew in more of the foreign scent. It was so sharp that it was almost painful, so she closed her mouth and began to track the invisible path down the corridor. Within a few steps she saw the new thing. It was a plant of some kind, a giant plant god of some sort, bigger than a man, and covered in spiny needles, like a million tiny claws. A memory that was not hers directly, but was preloaded into her species finally woke up - she knew now it was a tree, even if she had never seen one before. Why was it here? And how had it got in? Most importantly, could she eat it? It smelled strangely intoxicating. She sent a factional signal through the electrical centre of her brain and brought back the ghosts to try and get a clue.

The half solid people swarmed around the huge green plant, alternating pawing at it and then stopping to stand and stare. No one ate any of it. Mirabelle began to loose interest.

Just to be on the safe side, she thought that she should claim ownership of it anyway. Less hesitantly, she strode up to where it sat, murdered and imprisoned in a large metal basin, and rubbed the side of her face along the lowest branches, nonchalantly giving the very edge a little chew, just to see.

What she was not aware of was that in reaching up for that illicit taste of a forest she could never see, another inherent cat characteristic had kicked in. Her tail, consumed with the conflict of eat/don't eat began to thrash about in an sign of conflicted nerves, striking a small plastic box on the edge of the basin.

A carnival of light flashed across Mirabelle's startled eyes. Colours alternated patterns on the floor and, with diminishing strength as she raced back toward the door, onto her back. Flat once again, she exploded out into the familiar desert darkness. Her panic subsided and she pulled at it until it became anger. She turned towards the shack she shared with the shape they called Faziz and began to think about when she would let her claws out on him to restore her equilibrium.

Inside the Bazaar the lights played on, reflecting either on the empty stalls or the empty crowd depending whose eyes were not there to see.

I will celebrate a shoestring Saturnalia

Monday, 3 December 2012

Col Thomas Morgan 1969 Part One: Strange Days

The sky was a dull grey that did Col Thomas Morgan's dark blue MG MCT MG sports model no favours as it trundled though the sleepy London streets towards Westminster. A Sunday morning in October 1969, what could be finer? A few more hours kip wouldn't have gone amiss of course, and it hurt that Samantha hadn't returned his calls so the rarity of a night in his own Mews flat had to be spent single in a King sized bed. Yes, he could have headed to the clubs, but it just didn't seem to have the same appeal as it had a few years ago. The music could be endlessly long, and the brief period where his smart militaristic jackets and blazers happily co-incided with popular fashion had faded from view as quickly as it had crept up on him in the first place.

This was a troubling recollection. Wasn't it more or less his job not to let anything creep up on him under any circumstances? Remember that time in Haiti with the the poisonous snakes in his golf bag? Or the black clad assassins silently gliding along threads of steel above the streets of New York as he clung to the fascia of the Empire State? He had tried telling that story to Samantha at the ridiculous nightclub she had insisted taking him to last month but her eyes had glazed over and before he got to how his life had been saved through his spring activated titanium spiked shoes she had wandered off across to the edge of the stage where five ludicrously hairy men were caterwauling about elves or something of equal inanity.

It was still early enough to get a parking space right outside of headquarters. Well, not headquarters exactly, but sub annexe 8 of headquarters, where all the "special" agents had been redeployed to have them reporting out of the one office for efficiency.

The office was hidden below street level, under the facade of a genteel tearoom. Until recently the subterranean level was accessed by stepping in to the adjacent red phone box, dialling 666, and descending in a one person lift through the false floor, but then someone...Morgan was that young oik in the raincoat and thick glasses...had pointed out in his cockney nails on a blackboard accent that it was much less suspicious to walk in though the front door of a cafe to have a cup of tea that to go in a phone box and bloody disappear.

Personally, Morgan thought it rather more suspicious that a tearoom would be open at nine o clock on a Sunday morning, and he rather missed the phone box trick, but his was not to reason why.

As he approached the lace and doily decorated glass of the front door, he was startled as an area of refuse at the corner of the shop front unfurled and put out a hand. Nestled in between the empty boxes and general rubbish awaiting collection, presumably sleeping off the excesses of a Saturday night spent singing about goblins or god knows what, was an unwashed bearded hippie of the type that made Morgan want to click his heels together, activate the spikes through the front of his spats, and send this peacenik home.

 "Hey man," mumbled the face that was more hair than skin, "Want to know the secret of the universe? Don't even need to cross my palm with silver, brother, these are the days of the open hand, we have no secrets here." His ragged arm outstretched hopefully notwithstanding.

Without turning his head, Morgan grasped the handle to the teashop door, which clicked open pleasantly, setting him up with time for a parting shot before the customer warning bell perched inside the frame chimed haphazardly.

"No secrets? My dear chap you couldn't be any more wrong". Ding ding. Yes, he still missed his phone box but having had the opportunity to deliver a little bon mot that would sound excellent if they were being recorded, he felt happier.

There was a decent pretence at breakfast going on, with a handful of customers and an almost equal number of waitresses. Morgan wandered about for a few moments, making a play of studying the menu, just in case, before heading behind the counter and through to the stockroom, where, to his immense irritation, the door took no less than three attempts before it recognised his voice activation code.

As far as he could tell from the log book in the reception area  (a total misnomer, since there was no one there to receive him, meaning more previously prepared wit was going to waste), he was the only person that had signed in to the building that morning. The Major, who had summoned him, was either late - unheard of, but these were strange times - or had not left since arriving last night.

Morgan was looking forward to seeing the Major again. It was not often that he was asked to take instruction from the Major directly so he knew it must be important. But he also knew how much the Major enjoyed the perks of command, and he could reasonably expect that after a cursory chat to meet requirements, the better part of the day would be spent being briefed on the golf course, then on to Downing Street for lunch with a cabinet minister, or prime minister quite possibly, it had happened before. Maybe he could get a message to Samantha to meet him there.

He strode purposefully enough along the empty metallic corridors, but what was the purpose if no one else was there to see it? The place was dead, it was as if the enemy had already occupied and no one had noticed, or cared. Room after room was empty, some with open doors, some open doors showing open filing cabinets and open files. These are the days of the open hand, we have no secrets here.

He wondered if he needed a change of career, but then caught himself. That was where the trouble always started, after all. Look at his fellow agents, what a shower they had become. Drake went on holiday and never came back...went mad in Wales or some other such nonsense...Steed had gone native, hanging about with all his sweet young things, chasing clowns and mad scientists, more concerned with getting the right kind of velvet on the collar of his suit than the big picture. And as for the new crop, all the ridiculous departments known by a single letter only, like those degenerates over at "S", or a tortuous acronym twisting the English language to get something suitable enigmatic such as the laughable NEMESIS. Of course, he was under no illusions. No doubt his fellows felt equally well disposed toward him.

He knocked on the door of the Major's office, and was rewarded with the familiar bark. "Oh do come in Morgan, we haven't got all day."

He stepped through, starting with "Do you know Major, they are making disposable hippies nowadays..." but this trailed away to nothing as he registered the empty chair behind the similarly bereft desk.

Off to the side of the desk was a rather rickety phone table, on top of which a small speaker was relaying the Major's voice. This was new, and like almost everything else that had come along in the last three years, Morgan did not like the look of it one bit.

"Morgan old boy," boomed the speaker, giving evidence of the power if the voice behind it, "I have a job for you. An unorthodox job ,  I grant you, but one which will mean a great deal to me personally if you take it on, do you understand?"

Morgan did understand. "Am I to take it, Major, that this job the books, so to speak?"

"Oh now, don't get the wrong idea!", the Major hurrumpted, "It's official business, all above board and what not, but not everyone has to know our business, do they? Some business works best as a secret. That is what you are after all, isn't it Morgan? A secret sort of agent?"

Morgan was pleased the Major had put the words "sort of" in the middle of the job description. It made it sound a little less ridiculous.

"So pick up your passport and get to Heathrow. There will be instructions for you there."

"But what's my cover?" This was altogether too quick, where was the dossier, the preparation, the planning?

"Oh, no cover needed Morgan. That's the beauty of it. For this one, you can go disguised as yourself."

"I don't follow."

"Yes you do Morgan, and that's why I know you will carry out my instructions to the letter."

"But what's the mission? Who's the target?"

"Tell me Morgan," crackled the speaker, rather sinisterly, "What do you know about a girl called Samantha?"

Everywhere he goes he stays a stranger

Col Thomas Morgan Will Return

Friday, 2 November 2012

Your ping test means nothing round here old man

Start with the moon used to this sort of thing, her blacks crackle and drag. Close in, close up, the silver coin of  Kohnsu, Diana, Toth, exerting gravitational force over point of view as above so below. Pan back with relief and the infinite night starts again to encroach at the edges, the white light reducing into the centre of the screen like the tunnel vision of a depressive.

Take a second to evolve and engage perception a little further along the electromagnetic spectrum. Float above the raging torrent of waveforms as they tear across the desert, battering through any form in their path. The insane highway, going everywhere and nowhere for nothing  E = h x nu.

The air is bisected unilaterally a billion times over, the space between us now just an absurd cheeswire of colour and dense colliding signals singing through the wire lost in the night. A lone vehicle approaches the border, it's occupants nothing more than a momentary, fractional, resting place for a billion tiny particles which pass through their flesh, bones, hearts. Do they leave any trace of their radiated presence? Who can say what biological or spirtual processes are instigated, tainted, or improved as they invisibly buffet and irradiate the body?

Drop down to race with the river, fly just above the surface of the crazed rainbow, an unstoppable charge.

But here is the waterfall, here is is the edge of the world. Abruptly the rug is pulled out from underneath and the particles crash to the earth, through the earth, diverted underground or destroyed. Wave upon wave of demented frequencies continue to hurl themselves across the horizon, trailing now like fireworks and falling in a beautiful arc of colour, the invisible waterfall a silent fury at the edge of the flat earth.

Stand on the warm sand in the freezing night and wonder at the sight of the ocean of light being held back by nothing. The land has no interest in these invaders and they shall not pass. Your body is clean, unaffected now by the EM assault, owned entirely by the moonlight. You know how it is out here on the perimeter there are no stars, out here we is stoned immaculate.

this is the land where the Pharaoh died

Friday, 12 October 2012

Faziz Ahmed - Smugglers Blues

Faziz could think of no one he hated more than his Captain. It wasn't an abstract hatred like, say, the hatred of the cold, or injustice, or spiders, no, this was a very specific, targeted, reasoned hate. The kind that hangs around with murder.

His Captain was no more than twenty three years old. Faziz was twenty one, and his fellow border guards were mostly even younger. He did not feel like a man, more like a boy in oversized shirt. As far as Faziz was concerned the Captain was the same - even if he wore expensive sunglasses and enjoyed exercising the, admittedly real, authority that he held as leader of the border patrol. To help him celebrate his twenty first birthday, the Captain had "rewarded" Faziz with the keys to the warehouse where all seized goods were stored. This reward came with the responsibility to maintain the inventory and detail all stock, plus extra security patrols. Now Faziz had to rise two hours earlier than his comrades in arms just to make it back to the barracks for the morning parade. If he was late then his pay would be docked substantially, as he had discovered in the very first week of his new duties.

As Faziz washed and dressed in his threadbare uniform he spoke to his cat, Mirabelle, who was sitting upright in the centre of the bed, waiting for him to leave so she could drift off uninterrupted back into more of her sweet, sweet, cat sleep.

"Today Mirabelle," he said half into a towel and half into the mirror as he dried his face and hands, "I will get one over on that kaddaab. I will."

Mirabelle blinked, trying to hold in the sleep that was threatening to turn into consciousnesses. Her unexpressive face was consumed with feline disinterest.

"God is great. I will" Faziz said, without conviction.

Mirabelle just wanted him to go. She stared at a point on the wall roughly two feet to his left and pretended not to know him.


The Captain was giving his favourite lecture. "Alright you fatahs, today we are going to do our jobs and protect this border to our wonderful land. Persons considerably more clever that you will ever be have decreed that these items shall not pass. Study today’s dispatches well. There will be penalties for any slip ups. Allahu Akbar."

Faziz flipped to the last of the twenty five pages that constituted the list of contraband. A few months ago this could fit on one side of his notebook, but within a season it had expanded beyond all reason. Today’s additions included table tennis bats, the works of Charles Bukowski, kidney beans, blue eyeshadow, cherry cola and Oscar statuettes. Faziz reasoned that he could probably live without these luxuries, but was equally immediately filled with a burning desire to own these works of Charles Bukowski despite never having heard of him until this moment.

Was he really carrying a rifle to protect the land against kidney beans? The world had gone insane and taken him along, into a place where even music was contraband. How the nearby Bazaar managed to retain and replenish it's stock of forbidden wonders was a mystery. It had been many years since Faziz had set foot in the Bazaar. If his Captain found out he had been seen there then he would be thrown in a cell and forgotten about for a long, long time. Possibly forever. He already knew that his shack was being searched on a regular basis for illegal items.

The stars must have been aligning for the Captain as his very favourite thing was approaching the border. A large tourist bus, well maintained and shining against the sand, quite unlike the broken down hunks of rusted metal that ferried the locals around. The same locals who knew their way around the regulations and lived only to subvert and ignore the Captain's authority.

A coach full of wealthy travellers, lured out into this vast area of blazing nothing with the promise of bartering their easily replaced valuables in return for ancient artefacts and forbidden materials. As he ostentatiously strode into the centre of the road and rose his arm to stop the bus, the Captain was relived that his huge sunglasses would at least prevent some of the joy he felt from being so obviously displayed on his face.

"You are under the protection and authority of Captain Tariq Famil of the Border Patrol" he barked, "You will please line up and produce your papers. Clearly identify which belongings you are travelling with and prepare for inspection." The Captain scanned the mainly elderly figures disembarking into the rifle sights of his favourite guards. He could easily get a few hours worth out of these confused and frightened forgieners. Life was good.

Whilst the Captain delighted in harassing the passengers, Faziz found himself in front of the only traveller approaching the Border on foot. It was the British girl who worked at the Bazaar.

Normally the Captain reserved the privilage of exerting authority over this woman for himself, but Faziz had noticed that those encounters were not quite the same as the usual bullying. Recently the Captain had seemed almost nervous when she approached. There had been a strange incident last month when the dogs had suddenly turned tail rather than be in the same space as her, and another where the guards on duty had parted like the red sea when she crossed with unsearc
hed bags and then could not subsequently explain why, leading to a conspiracy of silence.

Aware that the Captain always had an eye, or a spy, on him at all times, Faziz summoned up his impersonation of the other guards.

"Papers please" he said, as brusquely as he could manage.

She dug around in the satchel that was slung across one shoulder and handed the crumpled identification to Faziz. Amy McCraken, work permit, merchants assistant, Borderline Bazaar.

"This looks to be in order Miss McCraken. But I will need to check in your bag I'm afraid."

"Wouldn't you rather help your Captain?" she said, "I could just go on my way and you can get your share of an old age pensioners purse. They might even have gold teeth if you are lucky."

Faziz suddenly had a sense of why the Captain was finding excuses to be elsewhere when this woman crossed the border. It wasn't the words themselves, it was the undertone carried somewhere deep in her polite insolence, something too old and powerful to be submerged into her voice. It was disconcerting enough that she already projected an aura of homelessness, that she clearly would be no more in her correct environment on one side of any border or the other.

The bag was a battered leather satchel with a brass plate on the flap reading "Col Thomas Morgan". He stood the bag up on the table and rolled down the sides revealing around twenty LP records in thick cardboard sleeves.

His heartbeat quickened as his fingers flicked between the sleeves. Chet Baker, Miles Davies, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy - the names themselves had a poetry, reinforced by the deep colours of the sleeve illustrations, some stark and almost brutal portraiture, others surreal shapes and scenarios.

He looked directly into Amy's ridiculoulsy green eyes. "I'm afraid, Miss McCraken, I am going to have to ask to come with me. Unless you prefer that I refer this matter to my Captain."

"I have a merchants licence, you can see that" she said, pointlessly as they both knew.

"Please." said Faziz, indicating the open door of the cabin just a few feet across the border.

Amy stepped inside.


"You understand, Miss McCracken, that the import this type of material is strictly forbidden?"

"I understand that there are customs regulations which are difficult to follow and impossible to enforce, if that is what you mean."

Faziz continued, "Importing illegal improvised music is a serious offence. The Captain has decided that only military waltzes and religious music can be allowed, for the benefit of all".

Amy held up an LP with a black and white portrait sleeve and the title A Love Supreme.

"This is religious music, you idiot. And besides, your Captain is a madman,"

"That may be the case Miss McCracken, but I must be loyal to the guards. However, if there is some debate in the classification of these goods then perhaps there is room to...manoeuvre, if you understand me. Perhaps, Miss McCracken...Amy...perhaps we could come to some....arrangement?"

Amy folded her arms across her chest protectively and glared at him with a force that would have knocked another man back a good couple of feet.

Faziz smiled. He had played this perfectly. He was going to get what he wanted.


The empty satchel lay on his bed as Faziz sat on the floor leaning against the base. His fingers flipped through the hard cardboard LP sleeves, allowing his eyes only fleeting glances of the artwork. It was too much to take in at once, he was building up to believing what he had in his hands. How long was it since he had heard real music? A year? Had he ever heard real music? How would he know?

He had played the part of lecherous bully so well that when he revealed that he would allow Amy on her way in return for simply allowing him one night with the albums and not her, she was so thrown that she agreed immediately. It was so easy to believe all men were pigs that it was a useful confusion that they were not. He had undertaken personal delivery of the bag and contents to the Bazaar before opening hours the next day. By way of guarantee of the safe return he had explained even the slightest hint of an accusation against him to the Captain would lead to his disappearance, even if the source was considered a known smuggler.

Tomorrow he would leave even earlier than usual, so early that he might not even sleep, relying on his cigarettes and Charles Mingus to keep him awake, and travel quietly across the border to the Bazaar. The bag would left under the tarpaulin at the front of the store, there was no danger of it being stolen. It would be there waiting for Amy when she arrived an hour or so later, records intact, no damage, no harm done.
One day the Captain would check the contraband lockup against the inventory and the world would end. But then, who could say when that that day would come. One day he may be Captain, or the regime might fall and all restrictions be lifted, or a great meteor strike the earth and wipe all the miserable souls that existed there out of existence.

As the pulsing music spun out of the one tiny speaker of his ancient record player it occurred to him suddenly what a tragedy it would be if items from the forbidden inventory were mistakenly stored in the Captain's house through human error, to be discovered by a visiting patrol who had formed the opinion somehow that they had been offered their pick of the illegal items in return for carrying out this legitimate duty.

The way the music twisted and leapt was full of possibilities. It was clear to Faziz now that these possibilities were in everything, how had he not seen this before?

The excitement of the previous track gave way to a mournful but exhilarating chant. It seemed to wind it's way through the air and surround Faziz. He had never heard anything so beautiful, but at the same time it did remind him of prayer. Amy was right, this was religious music.

"Allahu Akbar Mirabelle. God is great".

Mirabelle stalked out of the room, waited a few seconds, then walked back in pretending to be a different cat. One that would curl up against Faziz's legs and listen to music.

Faziz is listening to this

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Movie Night - Candy 1968

A Hollywood film crew have set up camp so close to the Bazaar that they are being bothered by visiting traders who assume the array of cars, rigs, replica weapons and plastic foodstuffs are for sale. There is a fair amount of goodwill towards the crew locally however as they have offered parts as extras to pretty much anyone who wants to get involved in the film.

Tomorrow Amy and Old Tom are spending the day appearing in a marketplace scene. Where the guns come in is not clear, it's supposed to be a romantic comedy. Amy is playing some kind of Harem girl with an AK47 but she won't show us her costume and says we'll need to pay to see her in the film like everyone else. A lot of people here would pay, no question. Old Tom is doing the stereotypical colonial English Johnny, pith hat and all, has even a couple of lines. Good luck with that Mr Director, let me know how it works out for you.

Take 37 - Tom, for Gods's sake man! All you have to do is just stand there and when Amy runs past with her rifle you say "That's the native gels for you, eh, what?".  Action! "....Eh.....That's what the angels do for the natives." CUT!

But that is for tomorrow and, as is often the case here, you need to negotiate a difficult day before you get to the one you want.

Desert country or no, it is not an overly hostile environment. Yet every so often the wind will blow the sand around to the extent that it can cut your eyes open, so not unreasonably people prefer to stay indoors, and must forgo their nightly dose of the million stars that smear along the ink black sky above the barely constructed tents and attendant open air crate seating that pass for the local bars.

Everyone knows what is coming even if no one mentions it. They start to crowd into the bazaar as the sunset signals the end of the business day, the legitimate business, that is. Hardly any of them actually stepping into a shop, or even deigning to linger at the side of a stall. There is no pretence, we all know what they are here for.

After a while someone finds that when they opened their mouth some whispered syllables fell out, and rolled away through the crowd. Then the next someone brazenly repeats the unbidden words out loud, and that persons friend joins in when it is repeated. The hall erupts and the clapping starts, first in time and then quickly resembling the sound of two massed armies in tap shoes running to battle down a marble battlefield from a mile apart.

"Movie night" they chant, feet stamping now, so loud that capital letters would be needed to show the effect in print, "MOVIE NIGHT! MOVIE NIGHT!"

Having sensed the sea change earlier in the afternoon, Old Tom is already in his element. At his signal the haphazardly stitched envelope of white canvass that otherwise sits unobtrusively rolled is let loose and falls like a sail across the back wall of the Bazaar, billowing and then resting, becalmed but ready to take us away from here. We will stand on this familiar deck but gaze out onto strange lands (as if, of course there could be stranger).

Old Tom's ancient sausage fingers defy logic and nimbly thread some ancient celluloid into the wheel of his projector. Mysteriously, the bumbling incompetence he either works so hard to project or is genuinely in the grip of vanishes like an alcohol flambe, or love. Like a master craftsman he teases the materials to life, and colour explodes onto the makeshift screen.

No one knows how many reels of film Old Tom has in the iron trunk that sits at the back of his shop, or how he acquired them. One night under the stars in a rare moment of lucidity, possibly through the medium of sambuca, he spoke eloquently on the successes and failures of the Hollywood studio system with an insiders knowledge. Then he fell off the crate he was sitting on and set fire to his hair having knocked over the whole table including candle.

Last month he showed a print of "Dirty Harry" in which the role of Harry Callaghan was played by Frank Sinatra. Before that it was an Orson Welles double bill with "The Other Side of The Wind" and "It's All True". Why these films are not vailable on DVD is a mystery. Strangest one recently though was the film the Beatles made after Help! but didn't release, only printing up very limited number of reels. It was a strangely humourless romp called Up Against It, where they didn't play The Beatles so much as a four characters who are facets of the one, and they all end up in bed with the girl at the same time. It's pretty clear why United Artists didn't want to distribute it. Shame about the music though. The title track had definite traces of the melody to "Jet" about it. Obviously Paul McCartney couldn't let something that good so totally to waste.

Tonight it is obviously another one of these productions that must have been airbrushed from history, intended to be destroyed if not for the light fingers of Old Tom, his comedy forgetfulness a slight of mind as he ambles off accidently into the forbidden rooms, manages to not light the furnace and somehow ends up with cannisters in the boot of his car instead of the landfill stite.

The film crew have entered the Bazaar, their American camp no match for the wild sandstorm. They mingle with the crowd and are accepted without awkwardness despite their reversal in status, from creators to participants. It's just something that happens here, it has happened to everyone in this room in one way or another. Somehow within a few days of arrival you just get turned inside out, flipped around. You just have to handle it, or get back on the bus.

As the dust dances along the light beam Ewa Aulin transforms into elemental godesses Candy and encounters Richard Burton as Mephisto, the poet with the life of a rock star, Ringo Starr as a Mexican gardner whose goal of cceptance to the priesthood is under threat from predatory American girls, Marlon Brando as a charlatan shaman, Charles Aznavour, Walter Matthau, John Houston, the screen is crammed with an endless list of Hollywood greats.

Incomprehensible, if brilliant, it must be a hoax, given away by the ending where the various characters appear to return for a surrealistic reprise of their roles. Old Tom's ultimate joke, stitched together from the fragments of broken strips found in the bottom of his trunk. Poor Old Tom, he is further gone than anyone ever thought if he thinks anyone is going to believe this film ever existed, even in this place.

Candy 1968 finale

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Amy McCraken walks to work

As seemed to be the case with increasing frequency the mountain was on the wrong side again when Amy woke up. Last night as she was falling asleep, wind-up radio beneath her pillow going into slow kinetic reverse, she had watched through her bedroom window as the moon struggled to avoid being punctured on the spikes of the peaks before her eyelids in turn were slammed down by gravitational forces once it finally rose above. Now as she sat on the edge of her bed trying to keep the strands of her hair on top of her head and out of her eyes and mouth where they were determined to stay, she gazed out across the plain at the horizon, her view uninterrupted but for the first of the sharabangers filled with the usual mix of treasure and junk, in both stock and human form.

Perhaps the mountain had gone to Mohammed. Again.

The day before the border patrol had consisted of wire fences, jeeps, floored tents with scanning equipment, fourteen armed guards and as many dogs. She had understood more of what the dogs were trying to say than the men. Neither were abusive, but it was frightening to walk through the middle of them anyway. More unnerving in a way was how the lead guard flinched and his dog started to spin around, tail down, when she pulled out her papers, as if she was the frightening one. But today there were just two boys kicking something that was not a ball and probably had as much air outside it's hopeful and in no sense spherical shape than inside. Maybe the mountain had pierced the moon last night after all, and this was all that remained after it's fall to earth.

They were belting the ball, bag, dead animal? Don't look too closely, don't look back and forward across the border, changing sides every so often through huge holes in the fence which couldn't have been there yesterday but at the same time must have been.

As she drew level the older of the two stopped the bag, thank god under his elephant hide foot and called over to her "Today there is a tax on crossing the Border. One kiss. Each". Amy puckered her lips above flattened fingers and channelled Monroe, freeing two butterfly kisses into the air. This seemed to be enough, the bag was once again changing nationalities at the height of it's parabolic arc before the second kiss had even been fully mined.

What was it that was kicking her across the border? Surely yesterday she had lived on the east side of the border and crossed to her job at the Bazaar on the west? How could this be happening? And shouldn't she feel something about it, some kind of concern for the way the physical world was suddenly fluid?

And who exactly was she thinking all this for anyway? Who was ever going to hear her internal monologue, broadcasting from inside her head for an audience of one.  Live from the Borderline Bazaar, this is Amy McCraken. Cracking up.

 cracking up

Monday, 1 October 2012

Wim Oudijk - Beauty

The old master visits the Bazaar. Even behind the scarf that he has wrapped tightly across the lower half of his face to protect against the sandstorms he is clearly recognisable, all the more so for the cat perched on his shoulder wearing goggles and a protective scarf of their own. It is not clear which one of them will have more whiskers hidden. As he gathers sackfuls of vinyl from the shelves you find it hard to focus on him directly. Aftershapes, ghosts, dopplegangers move in and around the space he has or will occupy, younger men, older men, some resembling the old master, some not. A crowd of faces solidify behind him momentarily, the present day composers who refuse to die, looking over his shoulder as he scribbles down a newly created score on the back of the original 1967 Smile album he has come to purchase, some nodding approvingly, others whispering to themsleves "I wish I had thought of that". The beaded curtain over the door sommersaults in, distracting you, and when you look back the old master and his cat are gone, the feline scarf falling to the floor in time to the sound of music fading into the distance.


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Borderline Bazaar is go.

The Borderline Bazaar staff are pretty busy, what with the international traffic in ancient artifacts, the undercover operations on behalf of governments each side of the checkpoint and touring as a supporting act to the reformed Beatles, but in between the hectic days and mysterious nights we hope to be able to put something down here which you find interesting. Watch this space, but be aware it is also watching you.