Living with Ghosts ….. Remember

Before the memories die
Before they’re all gone
Hold on
Don’t leave me ... yet
need to breathe you
I need to see you
I need to tell you
To the world
Let me cling on so I can share
If you can bear to let me
You’re disappearing fast

Life is speeding
It’s hard to grasp
Stay with me
I can’t let you die
Like the mothers, the grandmas, the lovers, the brothers, the friends,
The untold stories
We will remember them

Living With Ghosts I

A hut
That had in it:
Birds’ nests blackbird eggs blown hollow
Boy racer bikes with brown leather saddles
Leather saddle bags with rusted buckles
Buckled wheels rusted
Puncture repair kit, tins hardly used, unusable now
A shrine for boys who mended punctures in their mother’s heart
Pumped up their inner tubes
Checked their tyres and carried on riding
Up that street out of sight

Touching the pump they touched we remember them.

Living with Ghosts II

A bedroom
That had in it:
Matching different sized walnut veneer wardrobes
Matching dressing table and mirror
A book called The Mirror Cracked
That had a picture of a cracked mirror on the cover
Pink glass tray
Pink nail varnish blobs
Hard and non smelling
Clinging to the varnished wood
Odd oval cream clip on earring
Left for me
To pick out the verdigris?

To try on as I look in the mirror
Imagining older sisters’ faces
All pink sorbet and pearlescent lips?
Wondering when exactly they dropped that blob?
Left that earring?
Read that book?

Left in the early morning rain …?

Living with Ghosts III

The big wardrobe
That had in it:
Harsh woollen army uniform
Army shaving kit
Various letters in airmail envelopes
From soldiers
To little sister
Airmail from Malc
‘Thanks for my Christmas present but don’t go to all that trouble to send a box of matches to Aden’
Letters from me with big margins leaving two words to a line
Saying ‘dear vinny, happy xmas, love me’
dear malc, happy xmas, love me
Letter to mother from Vinny airmail from Cyprus
‘Leave’s cancelled for Christmas, but be home Feb’
Letter from army saying sorry
Black pointed shoes still shiny
A black three piece suit
Ragged and torn
A gold signet ring crushed in the pocket
Worn on the night he went to a party
On deferred leave a drunken driver killed him

The night Joe Meek died and Buddy Holly eight years before …

I look out the window
Remember his head
Brylcreemed n black
Like a beetle’s back
Winkle pickers clicking
Going up that street with his army mates
Laughing, joking,
Cool and smoking
Getting the bus to his fate

Mam said he’d been whistling
‘Roses are blooming in Picardy’
Vince Hill was in the charts that year
A Vince and a Vinny … one on the radio
One arranging his quiff
Precisioned with a  black tooth comb
The point matching his shoes

Mother’s memory to hold and never get over
His signet ring prized
From his mangled hands
And a report from the local paper:
 ‘young soldier hit by car, walking in middle of road … thrown 100 feet in the air – killed instantly … drunk driver fined £50’

Living with ghosts (IV)

At the top of my street I saw a shooting star
And wished on it
‘please let D have me back’
I got him … he forgave me … a bit
For the love bite I got
From a proper twat
He was told by his mate,
‘thah finished wi’ ‘er for gerrin’ a luv bite on ‘er birthday?’
And I paid and paid and paid
Now I look back and imagine
That little girl with no hope
No future apart from ‘D’
Bowie on the radio reminds me ‘never done good things’ … stars stars stars … damn them…

Stars shooting over the Pennines
As I got off the last bus from town
Hopelessness is hope
Blokeless I wish on one
I’m sorry for the lovebite
Bring him back to me
It wasn’t Emley Moor
It was a star
And I got what I wished for
Which is why I’m crying into half a lager at the Cali off sales
Stars … damned stars!

Living with the ghost of myself
Angry that I was scarred
Enough to swear I’d never get married
I’d never have kids
Cursed my life.

Living with Ghosts IVa

Peterpowellpillockneck my brother shouted at Top of the Pops and how he’d like to smash Terry Hall’s ‘smug chuffin’ face in’ and then to me walking up t’street t’bus stop ‘dunt bi bringing hooame a chuffin’ punk rocker!’ hanging out of the room window ‘in thih shockin’ pink trarsers ‘n’ thih fluffy jumper ...’

Living with Ghosts IVb

Fucked, pregnant, alone.  D round town wi’ a midget, he definitely called them midgets, she was shorter than me, he definitely said small people were midgets so why now am I screaming in the waste ground opposite the toilets where me and Mam used to freshen up avoiding home, all of Barnsley spinning round me now I’m now 22 and screaming and kicking and crying and being the biggest virago, haridan in the fuckin’ town, I rounded on her, the pretty midget, ‘do you know I’m pregnant?’ and I go to hit her but stop myself remembering my pact with myself at 17 to never hit over a bloke again and he walks off with her and his mate BRI and his date and I’m left in my cream skirt, beige jacket, gold chain, goldie looking watch, tears, embarrassment, and go back to the girls I was with into the White Hart and go mental in the toilets HE TOLD ME TO KEEP IT HE BEGGED ME HE SAID HE DIDN’T LIKE SHORT GIRLS HE CALLED ME SHORT AT FIVE FOOT 6 HE WENT OFF WITH HER IN HER SPLIT THIGH PENCIL SKIRT THAT WOULD FIT A DOLL … and I’m tearing the watch off my wrist the fucking watch he gave me for my 21st the day after cos he ‘FELL ASLEEP’ ... Sunday night in Barnsley when the pubs shut and I go to my brother’s in the village and he walks back to town to chin him but doesn’t find him I’ll never forget that K for all your faults you did that and I walk home up the road and round the bend and mam’s left the door open her corset and elastic stockings are draped over the settee and I just find any old tablet, capsule, some white some red and black and swallow and cry and vomit and cry and no one hears someone help me little baby inside I’ll never forget that you helped me vomit up the tablets and the capsules I swear you did and I’ll never forget you …

Not too many hours later a letter from London my saviour came in an A5 brown envelope with my name and address neatly typed – clear as day it was for me.  A hotel wants me to work as a chambermaid with accommodation it’s my passport out of this street this life this town this existence! I wish I’d kept it.  Mam probably did, another remnant of her kids, like BFPOs and shaving kits from Malc and Vin, on shelf in the wardrobe where all her memories lived. 

If I hadn’t been up all night trying to die from any old tablets and capsules I found in the kitchen cupboards, she may’ve seen it first, may’ve burnt it like sisters’ lifeline – a co-op exam result, not much but gold to her.  Hotel and THF – Mr Forte – thank you for saving my life – tiny envelope on the mantle.

I’m sorry little one inside, you had to go, I didn’t know then in my deranged state that one day I’d need you, I’d regret my betrayal of you, you were determined to stay I think, he told me not to get rid of you, so I didn’t but when I learned too late I had to get more money – I went to the clinic in Leeds and they told me I’d need more money, not a suction any more, you were an expensive induction … I’d got a bus from Leeds terminus to there but I didn’t know where I was after the blow and I walked and walked with my suitcase round and round and cried and despaired and stood on a roundabout not knowing where the hell I was …

… I tried to get a loan even and in the end Mam threw the money at me in disgust and I then cried out Nurse it hurts … when you left me … forgive me little one … you would have suffered at my hands.

My 22nd birthday spent in the off sales of the pub, looking o’er Pennines
With half a lager, a cig and on the payphone to Ireland
Sheila got out by way of Tenerife and a dustbin man in shades
Crying o’er spilt milk, spilt tears, spilt lager, no future…..

Living with ghosts (V)

Wham Bam Amsterdam!

Amsterdamaged, Amsterdamned, thank you man!
One year on it’s Amsterdamned stars
I lived … the overdose didn’t work

Neil Young on the radio
Takes me back to the room of Wendy (now dead) and Kath and Tory the cat
‘After the Goldrush’ spins and we drink tea, smoking joints that I don’t like really and Neil Young sings ‘…the archer split the tree’
Tory falls through the window, he chewed the ‘plants’ again!
Then go the Frog where Hans serves us Heineken in small glasses, massive head, wiped off with a spatula, not like back home where there is no froth
And then he plays our request of Never Mind the Bollocks on the record player
I live.

23rd birthday came with no black eyes, no let downs, no tears, no half lagers ‘n’ a fag in t’pub off sales, no crying to Ireland down a payphone, not much of a room on Damrak just two beds and a sink and better than Hotel Pasha and Bob’s Hostel. Second night we’re there, I lay on my bed and there’s a hole in the ceiling above!  Dust on my blanket to show, someone had poked out a peephole, we checked, some pervert had removed a floorboard … BUT it’s my birthday and it’s wild! 

A German bouncer, Ziggy (no Stardust) from Indonesia who lived 10 years as a woman, four prostitutes - two sisters and one French mother and her daughter, two Israeli girls, Ria, Turkish club owner, Jamal and his little bro’ (who wants to pay me for sex … No! No Ho I say’, clubbing ‘til eight a.m. loadsa lager, champagne Stuyvesant cigs, cocaine (running around my brain) it’s alright it’s alright it’s alright … I LIVED! 

Living with Ghosts Vb

It’s not the leaving of Amsterdam that grieves me, it’s the living - now I want to!  Jamal went mad on whisky and coke, not the brown stuff! Working in a bar in Rembrandtplein, propositioned for paid sex twice, refused (always wondered if I’d do it, now I was tested and refused.  Fuck!  Some pride somewhere, but mainly fear).

The Israeli girl was accused by Jamal of just wanting his money stirred up by the Dutch boy who came in to pick up a new girlfriend every time his old one left – now he had his eye on me!  Dutch boy kicked out and banging on door!  The ‘birthday party’ are locked in.  Jamal punched Israeli girl in the face and she flew off the high stool and landed in the cosy red window of the bar. 

He then pulls out a gun!  Waves it like a flag!  ‘don’t fak wit me yoo WHORES’  (arrogant ‘friend’ who uses another name, Ria, is crying, panicking. I’m empty, eyes wide saucered on another planet!  Years later she said ‘you held your own’ but I was used to madness!) 

Fuck!  Now the stories in the papers about being held at gunpoint came to life!  He kept us there all night.  German bouncer did nowt!  Looking back I see it was the best option.  I had been through a lot before this and now at 23 I might die, after all that not dying, not suiciding, not settling for a no good cheater, a girlfriend beater!!  Millie Jackson’s hurting so good going round and round on the record, Ziggy trying to act masterful but shitting himself, wiping the bar with shaky hands.  Jamal is fading in fading out, half lying on the bar but no escape ‘cause any little noise he’s alert and waving the gun again.  This goes on till 9am and finally, he lets us leave.  Just like that!  We’re walking in the freezing snow towards home, yes, we’re fuckin’ off as soon as the ferries allow!  And we hear a voice shouting us, ‘come back, I like yoo, I didn’t mean yoooo ...’  We imagine red blood, white snow, and off we chuffin’ well go!!  We lived!!

Living With Ghosts VI

These are the people who don’t remember me
I’m with people who lived opposite me
Next door to me

Remember me, Mrs D, I lived next door
I don’t remember you, she says
I remember your daughter, I’m sorry she died
I don’t remember you she says
And I’m sorry your husband died
I don’t remember you she says
But you remember my mother
Yes, but not you, she says

And my neighbour opposite
But it’s me I say, it’s me who wore smart jackets and long eyelashes
It’s me who your mother said looked good in nigger brown
I don’t know you she says
You had blonde hair and big green eyes like mine, then
I don’t remember you she says
You were my mate’s little sister and we went out then
I don’t remember you, she says
You fancied my brother, called him Oliver Reed
I don’t know you, she says
I hear she had it rough and nearly died and likes a big tipple now and now – she were gobsmacked said her mam. Oh, that’s okay then?

And I hope to hear a friendly voice when I ring up, say my name, and the phone is put down, I only wanted to say sorry to hear of dear George.
I’m not in their memory
And I walk up my old street, the wall
That I sat on and kissed on and smoked on and hid my Sovereign tab in my hand
And burnt my smoke stinky palm as it hung o’er the wall, hidden from my brother
And the wall I sat on, waiting for my ticket out of there, isn’t the rounded red 30s brick that I ran my hand over, it’s been squared off, it’s hard and unfamiliar
Emley Moor Mast still dominates,
Red glowing lights upon
Where ‘I’ saw Bowie singing
Losing myself, losing my life, gaining some sanity
Now I’ve seen him in the flesh
I wished on stars looking out to the Pennines
Take me away give me back my man, take me away if you can’t
And they did ... damn them damn them.


Living with Ghosts VIa

Nettleton, Glos.
Driving through in 2013 I’m reminded of the family
Diagonally opposite at No.13
Mr N all deep lined like a Crufts rare breed and gentle West Country accent
Soft compared to harsh mining men
Coughing and gentle folk but the piss ripped out for ‘idleness’
Rip Van Wrinkle, lazy arse, get t’work (work is all)
I’d go to the shop for his missus and my brother K
Would rail at her – geddit thissen, lazy cow
Me embarrassed went for a few pence
I played wi’ Belinda, all tall like her dad
She forked strawberries out of a jar
From afar I remember them
Deep red in syrup like her lips
In a buttercup field with half built foundations of a house of grey breeze block bricks
Her elder sister, soft faced and soft hair, eyes appealing
Married a man who ended up hiding behind the bedroom curtains, peeping all day
She was mam n dad t’kids
Duffle coated got to school
And got their meals
Again vile tongues took the piss
This street, this place, it was vicious
I heard Josie died a few years ago
Sadness, poverty and puerile people
Broke her
Opposite to Eva of the gurning lips
A neighbour who spurned
Jibes and ribs
Wiped jeerers away
Like crumbs off her pinny
You had to be brusque
Not let ‘em win


Living with Ghosts VII

Every night
Every night
Jenny Bowler yer a bastard
My mother was Katherine Isabella blah blah blah
She warra nurse and midwife
Every night
Every night
Slowly up the stairs in drunken mind going over
The same old over
The same old over
Every night
Every night
Cursing us cunts
Who he has to keep
Himself and us
Every night
Every night
No let up
Every night
Every night
Our legacy
Still here.

Kensal Risen
In my sister’s knee length clingy dress (long on me)
One she left behind when she left (for the big city)
Or did Mam retrieve it from the bin?
Holding onto what could have been?
Clobbing in her black winkle pickers
Playing grown ups next door but one with Sue
then childhood gone
‘cause f’ing and blinding
Cunts n shouting
Out from our kitchen window
Old man home from Sunday dinner boozing
Simba didn’t get upstairs quick enough
I knew the yells so well
My little body in grown up attire nervily entered
Seeing poor Mam trying to pull them apart
Save old man from strangulation he deserved
Stopped in my tracks as I go
To Tesco on the Rise
Taken back to sad old bad old
Living with ghosts again
Will they ever go away?

Spiky crimped hair, dressed in a checked shirt, a lariat and black ski pants. Could’ve kinky booted ‘Sheller’ who laughed at ME, cheeky swine!  He with hardly any teeth and comb-over wisps of  hair! My solace was a tough older bro, who reduced him to sneaky sniggers, as I almost hugged the jukebox playing the Cure in the pub lookin’ o’er the Pennines. Pre Sunday dinner I think of ‘Another Reason’ (ironic the band’s name’s Five or Six) to get back on that bus, back to life, back to sanity, National Express down the M1.

Living with Ghosts … Holidays

Salt n pepper pots
Meant we were off!
Feast Week coaches
Bound for Brid, Cleethorpes or Skeg
Miner welfare days of sickness pills
Teacakes filled
With meat, crab, salmon n tuna paste
Out of the pit village
Into the sea
Onto the front
Into the rock
Onto the sands
Chomping like donkeys
Pink fleshy prawns
In cone wrapped magic
Gritty teeth crunching
On with the vinegar
Melting the sand
Onto the pier
Into mystery
Onto the ghost train
Into the tunnel
Waiting for shock
Ultimate screams      
But room in upset bellies
For candy floss n ice cream
Plastic purses, leather bound key rings
Crested souvenirs
Grandma’s caddy spoon
A gift from the seaside …
Onto the amusements
Into the slots
Go leftover coppers
Bedonk bedonk bedonk
Land to be pushed by a log
Out come the 2ps!!
We’re rich, we’re thrilled, we’re rocked
Onto to the coach
Reluctant Stereotypes
Want to stay here!
And on the journey back
Sleep through the salt n pepper pots
Now from a distance
From a trip up north
I see them in a four by four
Before they’re gone
My pepper pot friends
Stood waiting to be toppled like defeated kings

Living With Ghosts – Grandma’s Flat

Memorabilia mug from Mevagissey
(a small token from Uncle A and bought by Aunty E – very small after all Gran to looking after him).  I never got the Meva? Why not Mega?  But this year, to Mevagissey.  I sat in front of a roaring fire in a cosy pub that Uncle A and Aunt E may have frequented way back when, be nice if Gran could have joined them!

Gran’s flat was a sanctuary but I grew up (11) and had been told by Bully L she didn’t know where I was, gave me that evil look from the field as I ended my journey on the bus, fear struck in my turquoise and white dress, my little girl dress, I ran round to appease my mistress, ‘YOU didn’t tell me you were going for a week!’ so I didn’t go again, but not just Lindley, got fed up of small sandwiches and boredom grabbed me … Oh I wish I could be there now, with your marble rolling in your kettle boiling on the range, sat on a chair at the table you never sat at, no room to pull the table out, so you sat on your leather two seater, let your guests sit at the table, looking at your 1930s world with additions of Victorian, Edwardian and 1920s. 

I still feel guilty knowing you called my name when the home help found you hanging out of bed, ‘where’s our Wendy?’ … a week later you were dead … I’m sure the hospital drugged you to death … I sat saucer eyed as you cried, ‘I’ve never been like this Jenny’ and Mam held your hand.  You saw big black dogs at the end of the bed and hallucinations (now I know the word) tortured you.

So big sister, you got the praise, I got the guilt!

Living with Ghosts of Christmases Past and New Years out

Carolling wi’ Kath
Sweet lambs and Jesus
Outside doors
Of posh houses
Being called in to sing at the piano
The fellow we sang to being impressed
With our sweet voices
Collecting money to buy presents fo’ family
Tiny steel tea strainer in a box
Mars bars, Milky Ways, maybe a hanky
Weighing up sports mixtures 4 for a penny

Moving on up a couple o’ year after
With Julie B n her brother
Sammy Davis moves and Dean Martin voice
‘Apples to ee ee eat, nuts to crack, a heeeere we come
With a rat a
(A ding dong ding if they had a bell)
A tap dance, a wiggle
A spin and a giggle
Our Maths teacher opens the door
Bloody ‘ell fire - run like hell!

Me and Win’fred
Letting New Year In
She with white hair
Not allowed in
My dark hair a passport
To take in the coal

Minature Bells whisky
And Tia Maria
For various neighbours
Distributed for father
Reeling from revelling
At New Road Club
By me n me brother
To Vi and her mother
Next door but one
Who’d give us advocaat
‘but dunt tell yer dad’

Living with Ghosts North

Looking from our street to the orange lit hills I dream of somewhere else
Anywhere is better than this
This view
This street
This house
This person?
This girl?
What am I?

The red light of Emley Moor
winks at me I’m sure I see my hero on top in his Easter egg suit
singing to me
Wait theer for me David
Wait in the sky
I’m coming
Monday morning at 7 o’clock sheeeee’s leaving home….
I went to t’top of our street
Nobody came with me
Nobody said tarah to me

On the National Express at 8
This means nothing to me
As I say goodbye to these streets

These nerves
These eyes
These butterflies
This stomach
These bones
This head
These tears
These hands
That wait to be put to use
Not being
In the moment
In the future
That’s where I’ll be where I’ll lay my hat
When all THIS will be over
But near future beckons
And consumes this head
He’ll be home soon
He’ll be on the bus
And I’ll hide
Or I’ll be dead
Until he’s made his way to the house taking half an hour for five yards of  ranting, or if his mood is good it’ll be ‘how do buggeroo’ to a neighbour but all the fucking cunts to this stranger.

Up the stairs he’ll take an hour to climb
Calling primal to his long dead mother – Katherine Isabella worra nurse and midwife – Simba yer fuckin’ cunt I’ll kill thah – and in his room ‘Simba’ saying
Someone’s going to die tonight!

Run girl run
In fur lined plastic boots
With no coat on
Away from the madness
Knock on the door
Of Susan with the orange hair
Matching flames from the coal fire
‘Let me in, let me in’
In my head I beg
But Sue gets her duffle coat and we’re out in the snow
I’m so cold
In plazzy boots, thin jumper and little skirt

This fear
This worry
That father
These brothers
Breeze through it
I want to
I want to
But there’s Ian to get out of the chair
Before he gets there
Get Ian away from the tele
Pull the jumper from his fat belly
Get upstairs he’s coming
Ian picking his scabs
Is transfixed
By the goggle box
Cries of ‘Simba y’idle cunt’ nearing
‘that’s thee, gerrup stairs!’

This skin
This hair whose is it?
These eyes green jaded
These black eyelashes that create enemies
Their jealousy not mine

These memories
These dreams
That view
That street
Them voices
That bus
That fear
These legs
This body
These eyes
This head
This hair
This dread
All here
Not there
When I wake up
This peace
Is mine.

Look up to the sky
November the 5th
Look Vie look Vie
Bay City Roller Stevie G
Bonfire knight
Keep looking up
Look up for the rocket
Let it take you into space
Only look down to see the Catherine Wheel
Spinning, spinning on the nail in the wood of the hut
Whizzzz hiss shoot!
White hot spikes holding us
Friendly fires
In every house’s garden looking down the street
Sky was bright with red green white
Sparklers – don’t dissipate!
Keep hissing and spitting white fire
Another rocket
Keep looking up
Never look down
Reality burns
Our night to forget
Keep going like the Roman candle’s red n green shots
Keep looking up Stevie
It’s our night of freedom when everyone is happy and not looking down
Keep looking up Vie

‘get sum chuffin’ mek up on will thar’ sez Linda D at t’ YMCA – ‘tha’ too pale’
Can I have me bomber jacket back Linda?
‘tha’ not gerrin it’.
Pale face silent but does bidding and puts on rouge ‘that’s better, tha’ wannts to wear that all t’time’.
This face
This pallor
This head
This ‘nothing’ bows to my superior


Living With Ghosts North 2

Lay down I lay me down in Julie B’s mother’s record sleeves
How we scoffed at her Simon and Garfunkel, her Bread
Us in the kitchen with Motown, Gary Glitter and Alice Cooper laughing
Smoking Regals
Now how I am cleansed and purified by a bridge over troubled waters
How I wish I was in their front room with the electric fire glow
J’s dad n holding her mam’s hand, his deaf ear cocked to the tele
Wishing mine were like that
See how they shine
And it was me who went to look for America and never found it
Until now
Baby I’m a want you, Baby I’m a need you
When I’m weary, feeling small, I lay me down memories
Hello darkness my old friend

When we were so desperate to hear Man Who Sold the World or Queen Bitch like we never would again ...

And now on the A2, I luxuriate in Bowie and in my past, when I saw a teary Pierrot on Emley Moor Mast and my tears fall ‘cause I’ve never done bad things I’ve never done good things just had a God awful small affair ... here’s my mousey hair, here’s my baby …. Tear it out with my hair

Living With Ghosts -  Big Sis’s Mates

Eyes saucered
Flying into space
Fuelled by negativity
Soaked in my skin
Sister’s adversary
Going ‘eugh’
Hearing my name
‘Ooh ‘er sister’
And I breathe it all in
I breathe it all in
Into this bemused body
Taking the abuse
90 year old kid wi’ these big eyes
Pale skin
Breathing it
Breathing it all
Breathing it all in

Living with Ghosts South

Intrepidly walking round Marble Arch the hotel’s still there but a different name the annexe on Bryanston Street is flats but I look up and see Marie showing her tits with a can of beer ‘av yer go’ a big cock Jimmy?’ and me and Eileen laughing spinning my records on Vicky’s stack player … Midnight Hour, Waterloo Sunset, David Bowie hear all the girls, the maids laughing, drinking, Irish, Geordie, Scottish, Northern … going down Oxford Street dressed to the nines to Ambres, to the Empire dancing to Kids in America in demin mini and Homburg hat, small school blazer and silver shoes from Kensington market … next morning the next day papers fresh off the press in Leicester Square and the fresh cool air was welcome … jump in a cab or walk up Oxford Street and grab some chocolate from the Fry’s machine …

The Hammersmith Palais closed down at least two years now and still I walk past and am in mid 80s London when hoards of Gothy Punk kids massed to see the Cramps (RIP Lux Interior).  I can hear Goo Goo Muck  more clearly now than then – having been too pissed in the Laurie Arms or was it the Swan or some den nearby and halfway through the show we ended up at the back and Lux Interior’s bendy spidery legs were a blurred vision of lager filled eyes (no, no Karl Lagerfeld diamantes here) but  Poison Ivy sexy sasspot blinging bass ….Siouxsie backstage passes and Hugh Cornwell glances made me special … spiky crimped tresses, ski pants, patent boots, cobweb dresses, slinky shoes and make up artistic … too shy to meet my dream man I walked on by … he was short I recall … Gary Glitter comeback king … backstage pass again (before the downfall) a glittertastic Xmas rock n roll …

… 82 was good for Theatre of Hate, The Southern Death Cult, the third band eludes me … I wish I’d still got the red paper black print ticket I’d kept for a while in my box with Killing Joke and mem mem mem memorabilia … at Camden Palace Jane my school mate, Soft Cell’s PA there with Marc Almond we were seeing Madonna’s seminal gig (seminal – a word Marc Almond described Say Hello Wave Goodbye with) … it’s all hindsight … I didn’t know I’d seen Madonna … she was a skinny girl on the stage with two dancers and a stereo player … too drunk to look … too pissed to give a fuck …

I’m on the 220 bus in my smart mac and long straight hair but the memory of purple spiky and leather return in the autumn … down Hammersmith again.

Replicant Nik fishnet king spinning love my way and tainted love, the cutter and bodies but a nap was needed to rejuvenate and dance to dawn then get the first Bakerloo and be woken at Queens Park back to bedsit land.  You must remember, in Jean Pierre’s remember it?  Friday nights in Soho no …

… Wednesday was Batcave, heavenly Batcave, the perfect club, queue for an hour but then up in the lift above Gossips and be free dancing with caged goths …

Kit Kat till dawn ‘n’ all, take yer own booze, how great, how cheap, leather and hair spiked coloured and garish clothes black and purple tourist goths, fishnet and grey, day glo, we go all night, all night … taking a break next door was Kentucky and outside would be Jane the Westbourne Grove Rover, 90 degree hunchback, tobacco strained voice shouting at the shop front and holding onto her trolley … she told me she just wanted a tea and I got her one and tried to find out why she ended up like this … no sense came out of her but she was grateful and I’d say bye and return to the club.  Kicking out time me flatmate asked for her bag, a campy cloakroom bloke said ‘so many, so many!  What colour and what’s in yours!’ … before she could say ‘diaphragm’ he let out a scream, her cap fell out of its box … always ready, be prepared for one night stands … his mincy hand caught hers!  Eugh!!!

Must go to the Moscow!  Taxi cab from King Street … remember?  Music Mr Taxi Driver please!  Radio On!  Must go to the Moscow we’d sing … im over there wi the spiky hair … he’s here again … over there by the stairs ... I daren’t go to the toooiiiiiilet!  O Please!  I think he fancies me!!!!

A fella said Padder is dead … him with the hair as black and voice as smooth as the Guinness he consumed who told me about the throngs of rhododendrons in Meath and captivated us with his soft Irish lilt … I did once see him struggling to talk to the woman in the bank … holding his throat and gargling speech … I heard it was cancer in there …

Feral kids but free!  Roaming west London streets, looking for a party. Moscow Nights (best pub in the world) – making our own ghosts – upsetting police who don’t trust gangs – but we sang with no malice – just wanted fun and the night to go on and be happy.

Yarborough and peoples playing in the Saturday night radio good times disco sounds in the Kensal Rise Japanese resto … takes me back to Funky Town and hated songs that elicit memories of love bites and cheating hearts, soulie wenches in canvas belts and pink sweatshirted tarts.

Living with my Ghost

Jenny, My Mother

Now I wonder
When I can’t have her back
How she might have looked at my rings
Pushing them on her swollen fingers
Comparing them to Vincent’s signet
Making them fit o’er her knuckles
Ruined from a lifetime’s harsh water
Struggling to work out her loneliness
Like my cheap market trinkets
Unwanted memories
Old but not fashionable
Squeezing her wrist into my 21st watch
Squeezed hard like the bastard who gave it
Clasped in fake gold she’s getting so old
But plenty of time to think
And wait for letters to read at the table
Or washing up as usual
How she looked out the window and sang
Being deaf out of tune but still trying
Another lost child who had to be wild
Pretty face lifted, determined, not crying


Living with Ghosts North – The Last Bus

Outside the Barbers opposite the pub, the oldest in the village, and round the corner from the Miners Welfare, is the bus stop where waits a crowd.  Reiterating the jokes of Sunday night’s Turn and creating uproarious laughter is:

Jessy James ...

Red lips cut into a deep grooved face taut as a leather ball.  Ancient lippy seeped and sticky in her lines that tell a hard luck story.  Topped off wi’ a frizzy black mop she boards t’last bus like a queen!  Proud shoulders mantled in fake fur and fumbling for her purse. The fare is paid, the clasped black patent bag shut!  She whips the ticket from the machine (these one manned bloody single deckers!).  She gains composure to pass through the aisle wafting stale ale and a whole roomful of Miner’s cig smoke past us.  Taking her seat like a throne and with her stout and ginful skinful proclamation, ‘ah wa born in this village’ and I laugh with a cool cat peer – ‘And she’ll fucking die here!’… but I won’t. 

And years on in another life, another town I think o’ that character and see.  How Jessy James  knew just who she was … and how the ‘cool cat peer’ passed away … went same way as Jessy James … but worse!  Too many drugs, a skinful and a ginful and sex coming out of her ears – bottle o’ pills and a goodbye note.  End of a cool customer.

So glad I lived.

Living with Ghosts 30 Years On

Looking out a London window
Are you the stars I saw?
When I was young in a northern town
Same month – same direction
Now I think you could be planets
Learnt a lot about moving and shifting
Dare I dream on a shooter again
This time for mother’s return?
Mae West it is said, felt the same
Of all the events and experiences
I’d give them all to have her back
My intention wasn’t to hurt
But I had to leave
I had to go
I had to leave to know


 by Wendy Young

Wendy Young has been writing and performing poetry for 10 years on and off - the offs being ill health, moving house and self-doubt.  The ons are determination to express my life experiences because there's always something there to remind me as Dionne sang!  Some published poems and I blog and review for DAO.

 more poems and stories here

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