Sunday, 20 September 2009


I am an astronaut. Unofficially. An amateur, some people would say. Though I fear that makes it sound like I’m not particular good in the field of space travel and such. I consider myself the best. Not that I have a great deal of knowledge on the subject.

I have a feel for it. I just get it.

I can make a spacecraft out of almost anything. NASA insist on making huge rockets & shuttles, but that’s just for show. It’s unnecessary. I favour shopping trolleys. Shopping trolleys and dry leaves.

I have travelled far and wide across the universe, spanned galaxies, in nothing more than a rickety basket on wheels. I have journeyed to the stars in a chest freezer. I have orbited Jupiter in a wheelie bin.

I have an opening. The next trip will be in a pedalo, with room for two. There will be no tests. There will be no rigorous screening or strenuous training. You simply need to be a pleasant travelling companion. I will be bringing a portable tape player. If you so wish, please feel to make a mixtape for the journey. But be aware that you will need to submit the track listing to me beforehand for approval.

I am not able to give the precise length of time that the trip will take, but I anticipate it won’t be for more than around 28 days. We will be travelling into a black hole, the purpose being to find out if there is anything worth seeing on the other side. I imagine that it will be quite exciting.

I look forward to hearing from any potential candidates.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

A letter I never sent

Look out of the window. It’s not almost that darkness, but you could imagine it to be. Autumn is starting to breath. Walking outside in the dark with your coat on, when it still feels unusual, after clinging to the summer. While the feeling climbs into you, like you’re an old familiar suit, you find old programmes in the pockets, photos, postcards, pins, other things beginning with p and conkers. Shiny new ones and dusty hollow old ones. You can imagine lying on a bed of conkers. Buried in conkers. I could make you a drawing or sing you a song. An old glimmer of something at the edge of your mind. Dirt and snow. A tree fell in the garden while I was away. There are benches where there never used to be. I never see any one sitting on them. The buses talk now. You’ll never feel alone. I saw someone today. I could have fallen back into the sea, cold in my hair, hands grabbing stones. A wind brushes by, as always, promising to bring the air this way again. I’m going indoors. I’m going to watch the glare of the television screen and not think about closing my eyes.

Iain Banks. Dead Air.

I read a Guardian review after reading this & it's too much in my head to say much about it. But I agree with it a lot. This is a very readable book. It's not a particularly good one though. Iain Banks has written some excellent books (see The Crow Road, The Wasp Factory, The Bridge) and some crap (A Song of Stone, Espedair Street). The good ones make the hurt of the bad ones a little less, but if I’d read Espedair Street before The Wasp Factory, there’s a good chance I’d not have bothered with the rest. I’m not really saying much here. Next time I’m going to try some Iain M. Banks. Or his new one that sounds like it should have an M. in his name on the cover from reading the reviews