scarecrow pages



William Blake . . .

It is a well known fact that William Blake lived around these parts, close to where I am sitting right now with wet hair, bare feet and a view of neighbour enjoying the back garden that I can see into. There’s no romance between us; she’s a lesbian.

In fact, I have no idea who she is because this is London, it is the present day and no-one communicates with one another any more. If you make an attempt people will think you’re weird. Besides which, she’s seen me naked in front of my windows of my studio flat She could have me arrested for waving my cock at her of a morning without even realizing it.

Best to not push your luck by instigating conversation, a breeze filters by, heading south for the winter.

It was near here, half way between the hot cracked pavement and a sky that looks like a vast military tanker viewed up close from a dinghy that Blake saw angels in the trees during one of his infamous reveries. I too see such heavenly creatures from time to time. I know they are real only in the metaphysical sense, that they aren’t necessarily tangible or visible to other people and accepted that may well be a figment of my imagination as they had been Blake’s.

My mind is always doing stuff like that. I think it over-compensates for the mundanity of every day existence by creating interesting characters and scenarios to keep me interested, much in the way Hollywood movies are a distraction from the truth of life in modern America.

But I was grateful to my imagination for being over active. He was alright, my imagination. Or she. Always there when I need stimulus, and there too when I don’t. There to place angels in trees where others see birds, flapping carrier bags or the occasional Nike trainer hanging by a solitary shoelace.

William Blake said:

“To see a World as a Grain of sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

You could say the same thing about a kidney.

When William Blake died it was in poverty and obscurity, something which gives hope to all struggling artists.

So underappreciated was Blake in his lifetime that no-one is entirely sure where one of the greatest creative minds this island has produced was buried, for he lay in a pauper’s grave, which was no doubt sad for everyone concerned but Blake himself, who was too dead to care anyway. Instead they erected an insult of a headstone that said:

Near by lie the remains of
the Poet-Painter
William Blake
and of his wife
Catherine Sophia

Which – reading between the lines – might aswell have said:

William Blake
We know he’s round here somewhere.
Maybe if we dig long enough we’ll unearth a jawbone
or the clavicle of his wife
Catherine Sophia

But it still wouldn’t be as honest as:

No-one gave a shit about
William Blake
1757 - 1827
They thought his art was tat and his poetry poofy
But then what do people know?
We put up this headstone out of guilt.
At least his wife
Catherine Sophia
loved him.

Taken from Ben Myers’s forthcoming novel The Missing Kidney.

Ben Myers is a writer and journalist. His first novel The Book Of Fuck, a fictionalised account about a hapless music journalist, was published to acclaim in 2004 through Wrecking Ball Press. It was published in Italian in 2005. The novel drew comparisons to the likes of Charles Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson and J. P. Donleavy. His short stories and pems have appeared in numerous anthologies since 1999. Myers has also written a number of music biographies which have been published in the United Kingdom, United States, Finland, Germany, Italy and Russia. In the US he is published by Disinformation. As a teenager he began writing for British weekly Melody Maker. As a freelance journalist he has written for publications such as Mojo, The Guardian, Alternative Press, Kerrang!, Time Out, Q, PlayLouder, Plan B, Careless Talk Costs Lives. Along with Tony O'Neill and Adelle Stripe he founded The Brutalists poetry movement in 2006, and co-authored the 2008 collection Nowhere Fast. He is also author of a poetry collection Spam: E-mail Inspired Poems, published by Blackheath Books in 2008. Ben Myers also ran the independent record label Captains of Industry from 2003 to 2008. Bands he released included Gay For Johnny Depp, Kinesis, Hell Is For Heroes and Marmaduke Duke.

More information:


One X One . . .

Working thirty seven and a half hours a week in an art supplies shop in the city, Clair cannot afford to live on her own. So she lives with a man bitter and tired and jaded enough to be a hundred years old. Daniel. Clair thinks he’s twenty eight, but she isn’t sure because she’s never asked. It’s not a friendly arrangement.

Clair answered an advert. They do not speak and have silently arranged to never be in the kitchen or the living room at the same time. If they ever find themselves in such a situation, they make sure to be out of each other’s company again as quickly and quietly as possible.

Their communication comes in little notes, tacked to kitchen walls and appliances. Most of the notes were there before Clair moved in. Since she moved in, there have been two:

Remember: do not leave the bin to get too full.


Please remove all washing up from draining board once dry. Thanks!

After work, Clair gets lost in the Tesco’s wine aisle. She knows nothing about geography. She is stranded somewhere between France and the New World, searching frantically for Argentina. She’s not even one hundred percent sure Argentina is a country, and not just a very famous city.

Clair does time-saving things.

She clips her toe nails, talking on the phone.

She rolls a cigarette, waiting in the queue for the basket till, shuffling the basket forwards with her feet.

Clair should not be doing this. She should be spreading the small remaining elements of her life out as thinly as possibly. Because between these things is nothing; a lurching stomach, memories. She should do her things one at a time.

As slowly as she can.

One by one.

Sometimes George would start crying, unexpectedly, quite dramatically, often in public. Clair wouldn’t know what to do. She’d feel embarrassed. She’d look around to see if anyone was watching. She’d feel very alone.

Sometimes, when there was nothing to say, George might say ‘Tell me a story.’ When he said this, Clair would go blank. Her head would empty. She’d search around in it, panicked, and there would be nothing.

She’d feel herself, sat on the bench outside Tesco’s or in that old pub in Salford or wherever, turning into an empty sketchbook page or a primed canvas. She knew that no matter what she told him, all he’d do was create his own version of it afterwards.

That was what they were. She realised this in the basket queue: they were ideas. She wasn’t a real person to George, and he wasn’t a real person to her, and especially, especially, that girl who’s name she will not say out loud or even in her head anymore – that girl who also painted and went away for a placement year in the States and then came back; that girl who George was ‘still in love with’ – was certainly an idea.


George is a romantic. He is his own construction. He seeks out other constructions and then further constructs them, or re-constructs them, or what do I even fucking mean? He never knows when a painting is finished. That is what I mean, I think. But still she feels, sadly, almost untouched by him. Nothing of her true self was discovered. He found only the most obvious parts of her, the ones he could sum up easily, to himself or to others; the parts she’d made up:

Clair writes.

Clair dresses like something from a book.

Clair has a brilliant novel, half-finished.

She was an experience, a muse, most of all a fucking falsity.

One night, too, she became an approximation of a late-night porn clip she’d found, saved, hidden, on his computer. She was a person on her knees with his dick in her mouth, knowing for definite now that this was something he ‘liked’.

She’d felt jealous of the computer girl.

She’d wanted to compete.

When Clair received the announcement by email – not even by phone-call or letter or over a drink or a cup of tea, but by email – she decided to try and walk around the city and discover them together.

I should let you know, I am back together now with _____.

So she walked all the places that she went with him and all the places he mentioned from his past, and when they weren’t in any of those places, she made up some other places. She confronted them over and over again in her head. She interrupted them, mid-kiss, tapped him on the shoulder. But in the fantasy, she was only able to get that far, not to what happened next.

They just disentangle and turn round to face her and their faces are blanks.

Drinks with her ex-university friends, Kate and Simon.

They’re together now.

They hold hands and speak in code and occasionally ask her how she is.

They’ve never been more like strangers. Their faces and bodies and voices are strange, grotesque, finally to become horrifying when remembered in the locked toilet cubicle of the Kro bar. Clair doesn’t want to come out again unless it is something like six months into the future. She waits there, with her elbows making red marks in her knees, for that to happen.

She doesn’t want to admit that she is not a part of someone else, that he probably isn’t thinking about her, that she wasn’t strong or definite enough to make a dent in him.

She is alone, single, singular.

She is one times one.

Clair gets up and goes into the bathroom. She pisses. Blue light is glowing behind the curtains. She will be back at work four and a half hours from now. There are birds singing. She’s still almost drunk.

She goes into the kitchen. She turns on the tap and waits for the cold and fills a glass. She hopes the noise wakes him. Daniel. She finds his commanding red pen and square of post-it notes stacked neatly on the top of the fridge.

Please keep the snoring down in future, she writes. It is keeping me and my boyfriend awake. Thanks!

She walks down the hall, treading quietly, just on her toes.

She listens for any sound or movement or anything.

She sticks the post-it gently to his door.

Then she creeps back to her room and gets into bed and takes one of the extra pillows from the empty side and holds it to her as tightly as she can.

Chris Killen is the author of The Bird Room and can be found hanging around here.

posted by scarecrow  # 10:21 pm


May 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   March 2007   October 2007   January 2008   April 2008   May 2009   June 2009  

scarecrow home...

scarecrow contributors...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?