Manipulation of ones and zeros by domestic, commercially available computer word processing programmes.
Informal copyright- Tom Druker.
The two saps looked up with glee all over their faces.
“Oioi!” shouted the rube with hair down to his chin
“Look! Look!” said the rube with the undercut and hair tied into a topknot, whilst hitting the longer-haired sap on the arm.
The longer-haired sap blew long and hard into the gleaming sea-scouts whistle that hung from his imitation red army coat.
A pair of obviously plain clothed policemen waiting for take-away turned round sharply. The two rubes didn’t notice.
“Ying-tong yiddle i po, ying tong yiddle i po!”
The older man entering the Chinese restaurant swaggered over to the table, singing with both broken throat and nasal whine, rolls of phlegm undulating at the end of every forced line.
“Ying tong yiddle i po!!!” he sang again
Ying Tong Yiddle I Po was the main refrain of The Ying Tong Song, which was written by Spike Milligan in the 1940s. The intended racism of the song is an oft debated subject, but the intent in this circumstance was beyond doubt. Singing the song in a Chinese restaurant in the year 2011 (AD/CE), was at the very best, unfortunate.
This was not at the very best.
The older man was never at the very best.
He wore the idea of drug abuse like a coat, hands in both pockets, moving in a circular motion, drawing attention to the genital focus of his persona.
The older man was never at anyone’s very best, apart from his own.
He tipped an invisible hat to the two waiting policemen and then sat down at the seat that the two rubes had been keeping for him. He shook both of their hands and then pawed over the menu whilst talking to them.
“Oi! OI!!! COKE”
The older man waved cans, clicked fingers and made constant, unthankful demands of the waiting staff in a simplified, drawn out version of English. Gestures as bold and patronising as his language.
The rubes bought dinner and sat quietly while he spoke, apart from to laugh in the right places.
“Like, before winter?”
“No like, Old. And then Tom”
Old Tom felt his knees give out. The floor danced its way up to his face and it didn’t really hurt none. Not really. Just knocked the wind out a bit. He managed to grab a metal pole before he went completely horizontal. Just moments before he’d been checking the parking restrictions, now he couldn’t hold on to his van keys. One part of his entire life went clattering into the road and, for the moment at least, he didn’t much care.
“Are you O.K.?”
He saw the stars. Old Tom saw the stars and heard the voices of angels and felt their hands upon his shoulder and arm. They were pressing down. He felt heavy and light at the same time. A bit tingly, like the first time he saw Bev, not that he told her. Not enough. Never enough.
“Can you talk?”
“Everything. It’s all in the back. Everything. Be careful with it”
“Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
“Is he O.K.?”
“I don’t... could you call an ambulance? I can’t hold him up and reach...”
“Be careful, alright?”
He heard the angels chattering to each other, somewhere above, and it sounded like the twinkling sound the lightshade in the front room would make when he would run in, chased by his older brother. They thought the cut glass was diamonds. They were both so scared when one fell off and broke.
He could hear the laughter.
His skin, once the colour of the walls of a working men’s club, greyed and sagged.
His voice. Barrel slurry.
He could hear the laughter and he let them take him home.
SUM YOU WIN SUM YOU LOSE
“I’d be unstoppable if I could only get started!”
It wasn’t funny anymore. Christine wasn’t sure if the sign ever had been, or if she had just laughed at it out of first-day nerves. But what joke would stay funny for a constant nine hours a day for a constant twenty seven months three weeks one day and four hours (apart from a week in Croatia, a week in the south of Italy and a week in Paris)?
Tell me a joke that funny.
She couldn’t find the record of the appointment. She had been through the system three times, and she could find no record of it, despite the man shouting, despite the letter pressed against the glass, despite him underlining the date three times, almost tearing through the paper, despite the words that they could both see printed on the page.
She could find no record of it and she knew that she had not messed up.
But every Monday morning, her manager would take her aside, tell her about all the things that she had messed up that week and remind her of her recent pay increase.
“We need to pull together. All of us. Now, we’ve done our part. You have more money each month and we expect more from you. You really have to put more effort in, or...”
Twenty seven months three weeks one day and four hours.
Tell me a joke that funny.
A woman with sharp features and sharper make-up stands in the street, silently waiting for a bag of popcorn from the open-fronted, nearly bare kiosk. Seemingly bereft of any produce, the only indication of anything else sold is a sign reading:
£5 CALLING CARD £4.50
£5 TOP-UP £4.50
£5 CALLING CARD £4.50
£5 TOP-UP £4.50
Her pram slants across the pavement, causing anyone passing to have to squeeze between her child and the automated bus ticket machine in the middle of the street. If she is aware of the inconvenience, she doesn’t make it known, save for the occasional cut eyed glance to no-one, to anyone, asking, begging for a comment. The man bags her popcorn, and then places this in a thin plastic bag. She purses her lips, shoves the pram straight and moves on with barely a muttered thank you.
“Come on. Keep up, Charlie”
His little legs tried to keep up with his dad’s strides, which held no concession for the thirty five year age-gap. Charlie couldn’t remember the old supermarkets that they used to go to a year ago, with their clean floors, regal colour scheme and royal approval on certain products. He couldn’t remember the staff that smiled and were happy to look after him the day he got lost. He couldn’t ‘taste the difference’ in the cheaper food. He was just happy his daddy was home more than he used to be.
“Come on, Charlie!”
“Do you ever, when you’re in the shower, cover up your ears with your hands? Everything, all the sound disappears or turns into a dull white noise apart from your breathing and you feel the impact of the water on your head and you begin to force your head down to look at the floor and the plughole becomes a focus, a gasping void, a cog, a schematic drawing of the sun”
In the dark of a streetlight, the cold of a cloudless evening, a south Asian man inspects the engine of a three wheeled vehicle. Branded with the franchised logos of a dead company and equipped to brew coffee in car parks to a silently grumbling line. He knows little about mechanics, other than fixing and tuning up the trike, but that’s something he knows well.
A father, a mother and a son, all take turns to spit on the broken branch of a tree, laid out in the bare earth of an overgrown but dying flower bed, set beside a busy main road. They take turns to spit and it is like a ritual. They spit like a ritual.
17TH EVERY FEW SECONDS I WAS FALLING OR INTERNAL CORE SHIFT LIKE GIANT LODE STONE AT CENTER OF THE PLANET REVERSED POLES NO BREATH EVERY SOUND AND LIGHT AND MOVEMENT TRAVELLED ALONG NERVE ENDINGS SPLAYED OUT FOR THOUSAND MILES I WAS DROWNING IN TIME
Harmonica, pressed between lips in the spaces of breath left by coughing fits. No inquisitions of wellbeing. No money left in open palm as people filter off the train.
A badge on the front of her bag which meant nothing. “I dunno. It’s just a shape, innit”
I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHAT CORDITE SMELLS LIKE IF I TRIED. BUT it doesn’t matter now.
“Shhhh!”, biting his bottom lip. But Amy wouldn’t be silent, even if she’d wanted to.
If I can make it in 10 seconds, they’ll have got home safe
Three of us on the sofa: you, ‘the illness’ and me.
Skip over cracks, skip over cracks, skip over cracks, skip
A voice that laughs just above a comfortable level.
“Ey, Darlin’! Darlin’! Ey! Ey! Come ‘ere!”
Chapped, un-gloved hands drew in closer