Year Nine: I Was a Tory Councillor; It Was the Least Of My Sins.


I once travelled from Glasgow to Manchester

First Class on a standard ticket.

I was exhilarated.

When I reached Manchester I found a call girl.

Not a girl. Very nearly a woman.

She was a student.

Her name was Paloma.

And this is all ash and this is all dust.

And I am all ash and I am all dust.

These lies, they’re little and keep expanding.

I met Thatcher once.

Daughter, believe me, I met Thatcher.

I wanted to meet her.



I wanted to have her. Have her. HAVE HER.

I knew a socialist once, a real Trade Unionist,

who tried to blow Thatcher up.

It was 1988.

He made a bomb.

He planted it in a Conservative Club in Truro.

He would half her.

He would half her in half and have her.

And this is all ash and this is all dust.

And I am all ash and I am all dust.

Daughter, listen to this song of my sins.

A mix tape.

You don’t want to hear these sins. Believe me.

Hear the songs instead.

Come Dancing by The Kinks.

Clinic’s The Return of Evil Bill.

Tell Laura I Love Her, Ricky Valence’s version.

Something amazing by Bananarama.

All of I Am Kloot.

And Wichita Lineman of course.

And Jazz. True Jazz.

I once got a girl to sleep with me by pretending

I was into Jazz.

I listed names like I was Jazz.

I said Parker and Baker and Monk

and Davis and Ellington and Herbie Hancock.


She undressed.

Her gusset.  Her gusset of her tights. O, her gusset.

And this is all ash and this is all dust.

And I am all ash and I am all dust.

Daughter, I hated the NHS like no one ever hated it.

I had a knife just for the NHS.


I wrote NHS on the blade.

Daughter, these words are just delaying the inevitable.

Daughter, I found you.

In the dust.

In the nothing.

THEY had you dressed as their queen.



Queen of What Was.

I came to you. I mean YOU.

To THEM on my knees.

And this is all ash and this is all dust.

And I am all ash and I am all dust.

“He is all there is,” one of THEM said.

THEIR hands touched you.

THEIR skulls were massive.

I’d say THEIR skulls were bigger than a Ford Ka.

That big.

Daughter, you couldn’t have known.

No YOU couldn’t have known what I’d been through.

The glass I’d walked over.

How my soles bled.

Bledsoul. Bled out. All outta soul.

I used to tell the girls that Charlie Parker had soul.

I lost mine in George Osborne’s summer home. His gazebo.

My pants around my ankles in the billiard room while everyone else

was enjoying sorbet. SORBET.

George held a cue.

Cue economic collapse.

Cue the end of the world.

Cue obliteration.

Cue Harry Connick Jr. in Independence Day.

Cue Nibiru.

Cue this.

And this is all ash and this is all dust.

And I am all ash and I am all dust.

Daughter, I said YOUR name.

THEY said YOUR name.

“He is all there is,” THEY said

and YOU understood.

Oh daughter.

O daughter.

My daughter.

YOU obliterated me.


A raygun.

A goddam raygun for chrissake.

Daughter, YOU vaporized me

and I became the same as the rest.










Daughter, I became particles dispersed.

I was memory.

I was 42 again

and swearing at the police,

I remember saying, “Fuckingplebbastardsifyouweremypapasbatmanhedawhippedyahewouldanowpourmeasherrythereandbeagoodchapandtouchmetherejustthereohyouworkingclassboysyadoavenoiceandsyadoohyesfasterfasterfasterimawhipimawhipimawhip…”

or something like that.

Someone shouted “Get on your bike!”

Daughter, YOU were away. YOU were you.

Those words carried me to you/YOU.

“Get on your bike!”

You left me so I found you.

YOU left me

and when I found YOU, YOU took me apart,

YOU obliterated or vaporized or deconstructed or destroyed me

so everything that was darkening began to fade

and there were no days left. No days left at all.

And this became ash and this became dust.

And I became ash and I became dust.



Hemingway’s And

And I was trying my damnedest to finish my novel

and none of it was true or strong and the dialogue

was loose and cowardly and shivered like a man

who had never stood in front of a charging bull

and I’m not a man who stands in front of a charging

bull like Romero and Robles and Gonzalez

who stand in front of a charging bull and do not shiver

and I took a drink of the rioja and I went into the city

and I took a woman of such beauty that I couldn’t

bring myself to have her or her me and I wandered

out into the night which is the best time to wander

and I couldn’t stop shivering and it had nothing

to do with the cold, if a man shivers he is not a man,

and I found myself looking for another woman

and I saw a woman of such pure beauty I forgot

all the women I’d ever been with, though all of them

had the pure beauty and back then before the writing

and the words and the weakness of it all

and my weakness for the rioja I could hold a woman,

and I held her and I was holding a charging bull then

and I was carried along by its power, its energy, its honesty,

and we made love and I did not shiver and after we made love

we drank the rioja and ate the good ham and the good cheese

and later we made love again and drank more

of the rioja, which was better after the love making

and I wasn’t so drunk, and we ate more of the good ham

but not the good cheese and before I left her naked on the bed

I looked at her naked on the bed and her skin

was like the good olives I’d eaten with Romero or Robles

or Gonzalez, I can’t remember which of them

I ate the good olives with though it doesn’t matter as all of them

have the strength to stand in front of a charging bull

and it would be good to eat the good olives with any of them

though I only have just enough of the strength to make love

to a woman with the pure beauty, and I left her naked

on the bed and went out again into the city and the cold

and when I was home I had more of the rioja

though it was not so good to drink rioja alone,

and I was drunk then and I took my novel and tore it

into pieces and yes I shivered but it was a good shivering

and my novel tore easily because it was weak

and wanted to be torn and I did what it wanted

and when I sat down again to write I went at the words

like a man who stands in front of a charging bull

and does not shiver, I went at it like Romero

and Robles and Gonzalez who do not shiver

and when it was done I saw it naked and beautiful

and I did not leave or shiver or take more of the rioja.