Tuesday, 8 May 2007

20 Prompts at 20:30

01 It's so pure in the cemetery

02 Do you think you have a corner on dying?

03 There was this hidden grin

04 My brother had been hanged that morning

05 The man who lost his way in his girlfriend's handbag

06 Gravity is one of the oldest tricks in the book

07 Both of us are getting worse

08 Without a tongue it's difficult to explain


10 He tells me how badly I photograph

11 There's nothing outside but the sound of the wind

12 Gladrag

13 I chuck the bible in the parlour fire

14 I want to be carried, heavily sedated, into a waiting aircraft

15 The outlook for the day was moderate to fair

16 Hayfever

17 I want to stand with you in front of an endangered species

18 I have in my wallet

19 If you didn't see the six-legged dog it doesn't matter

20 My dog's assumed my alter ego


clairelt said...

I'm in. Not guaranteeing the outcome.

als said...

late, but in

story of my life...

The Boot Camp Diaries said...

The complaint about me is I'm always early...

Marzipan said...

Another bad attempt..

Your Song

My brother had been hanged that morning by his own song. I imagine you tying your belt to the beam, nothing outside but the sound of the wind; inside, just the creak of the leather as you swing over your Fender. Gravity is one of the oldest tricks in the book. I picture the Harley Davidson buckle crushing your Adam’s Apple.
Bethnal Green, graveside. I want to ask you, “Do you think you have a corner on dying? Do you think you are now as your heros: Drake, Cobain, Sid Vicious?”
He wanted immortality, Brad (he was born Kevin, but that was never Rock ‘n’ Roll), he wanted to be remembered, feted, but Brad took the easy route, kicked the eight track recorder from under his feet, and settled for what? At most, a three-line obituary in the Hackney Gazette, a few black-eye-lined girls’ tears, groupies from the Savage Club, who will go to University, work in insurance and drop three kids. Girls who will forget.
But I hope that maybe one day they will catch a melody in their heads, they will recall your voice singing the chorus “I chuck the Bible in the parlour fire,” and they will mouth the words with you as they spoon out baby food. We only played that song live once, but those who were there, I hope they will remember.
My brother had been hanged that morning, when the outlook for the day had been moderate to fair. It was the morning after our greatest gig, when I’d awoken with such shrill ringing in my ears I never heard how quiet the house was.
Now I stand in the cemetery, and I have in my wallet the lyrics to that song, the one that finally choked you, which I scrawled in biro on a Tesco receipt. You sang it only twice, one reheasal, once at the club. When I asked you what was wrong with it, you just slid your eyes over towards the sky, said:”Without a tongue it’s difficult to explain.” I never understood what that meant, until now.
To me it was the electricity, the hum, the buzz, the two of us. When we jammed in the cellar, you all mock Jerry-Lee, me hammering drums, both of us getting worse, there were times when I was transported to Wembley, Shea stadium and there was a hidden grin to our racket, something both animal and profound, and I felt for a second as if we, alone, were spinning the world on its axis. You and me, Gladrag, the next big thing, the only thing that mattered.
But you were edgy afterwards, when I showed you my song, those lyrics. I remember the eeriness of the quiet as you read, the smell of our sweat on the walls, and the orange light flickering on your face. You turned to me. “OK, let’s try it,” you said.
It was just a ballad, some fleeting thoughts I’d jotted down when I was stacking tinned tomatoes in the supermarket, but when I heard you sing, my heart ballooned in my chest.

I chuck the Bible in the parlour fire
Destroy the heart, kill the mind
For you are everything
For you are mine

Brad, I just made the words up in the spur of the moment. It was the way you sang them that sent needles down my spine. I was crying because you, Kevin McNally, not Brad, was lifting them above the clouds, offering them to the stars. Second time you sang it, on a dingy stage, to the girls with piercings and pouts, you made them shiver. In the heat and the smoke, you made their skins goose. But after, you threw the receipt back at me, pulled on Brad’s motorcycle jacket and sloped off home. Did it bother you, Kev, that little brother had put aside his drumsticks for thirty seconds? That spotlight we rigged up on the ceiling, did it turn and catch you in the shadow for just a moment too long? If you wanted Rock ‘n’ Roll we could have been the Gallaghers, Noel and Liam, brothers squabbling in the dailys, living it large. I would have gone along with that, for you, for us, but you wouldn’t even argue with me.

I stand by your grave. It’s so pure in the cemetery. I can hear you gently singing that ballad, the one that killed you. It was my song, but I don’t feel guilty. If I ever hear it on the lips of a woman passing in the street, she’ll be singing with your pitch and sweet breath. It was always your song, Kev.

I've always thought that you have an idea for a story, you work out what's going to happen, throw in some conflict, and off you go. It's strange using prompts because when I start I have no idea what I'm going to write. Ok, what comes out might be terrible, but I still get a feeling of accomplishment when I've finished.

Just finished Francine Prose's book. Excellent. Time to re-read some old favourites, this time paying a bit more attention.


The Boot Camp Diaries said...

Not read this (way too busy today/tomorrow with an OU deadline)

I think prompts work (especially when well-selected, eg good poetry) by triggering connections, maybe like a dream works

By "latching on" to a phrase which connects to us and then just letting things happen, stories that are inside 'waiting to happen" just happen.