Battle stars

June 15, 2017 at 8:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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If I seem a tad maudlin, it’s because I’m recording unpleasant vignettes with a view to putting them in their place via EMDR treatment, which starts next week.

The ultimate object of this game is to ‘normalise’ childhood sexual abuse memories. But let’s start with something a little lighter …

I was so taken with Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield that I bought the 12-inch single.

On hearing me play it in the lounge room, dad informed me that:

  1. Love was not a battlefield (indeed, far from it).
  2. The lyrics were therefore stupid.
  3. The song thus had no merit.

I was disappointed at this assessment.

I had enthusiastically embraced his music collection.

From Bach, Oompah and Zorba to Nina Mouskouri, the Red Army Choir and Scottish Pipes, I thought I might have been a colleague. But I was merely an acolyte.

On reflection, dad’s perspective made sense.

When mum’s first husband died, dad rescued her (and her two boys) from a 1960s social and fiscal scrapheap.

She was thus forever in his debt.

He used to boast that, despite their long marriage, they’d never had an argument.

This was also likely true, as Mum never dared to say boo to him.

It took her ten years of faint, nuanced suggestion to replace our frayed carpet.

And almost as long to add a humble Vergola to our crumbling terrace.

Not really battlefield stuff.

In contrast, Mum said she quite liked Love Action by The Human League.

This was handy, as I played it until the groove nearly went through to the other side.

After her death, dad announced that he’d, ‘Loved mum but never been in love with her’.

I excused myself to punch out one of the five slatted window panes which, for almost half a century, had sat high in our toilet wall.

It was difficult to eat after that.



Bee spoke

December 19, 2016 at 11:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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When I was a kid, I sang Silent Night differently to most.

I thought the line was:

Sleep in, heavenly bees.

(Note the early regard for punctuation.)

Bees are a paragon of industry.

Naturally (I figured) there’d have to be at least one etherial species.

And after a year’s hard work, it seemed reasonable that they’d get to rest on xmas day.

Indeed, who needs honey with so much other food laid on by front-end loader?

My faux lyric made arguably more sense than ‘yon virgin mother’.

And so I rolled with it for several seasons.

The repeated line, especially, seemed positively soporific.

Sleee-eeep in, hea-ven-leeey, beeeeeesszzzzzz.

Try it next time you’re at carols by candlelight.

I promise no-one will notice.

You might just get a warm fuzzy.

Or even




Blood brother

April 25, 2016 at 4:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Andy Birth

I had two half brothers – the children of my mother and her first husband, Len.

Apparently, Mum had been deeply in love and extraordinarily happy with Len.

Photo albums, which have only just come to light, attest to this.

Way too early, Len got cancer of the everything and died, leaving Mum bereft and in dire financial straits.

When Mum remarried, Len was almost never mentioned – for fear of offending her second husband, Wim.

So this account is not reliable.

I used to tell people that, ‘two half brothers make a whole one’.

I don’t know why; I was probably trying to sound clever.

Brother David was a troubled and terrifying figure.

Brother Andrew, the elder, less so.

I idolised them both and would sneak into their bedroom at night and lie on the thin floor rug.

Just to occupy the same space.

When Andrew was old enough to be in a band, he had a bass guitar.

I recall this due to the fat strings and four large tuning keys – one of which I was soon to be intimately acquainted with.

One Saturday morning, Andrew had spent much time tuning the guitar.

Wishing to  have a shower, he warned me in explicit terms not to touch the instrument in his absence.

As soon as I heard the water running, I ran my hands over the glossy red surface and plucked at the strings.

Then I experimented with the effect of the tuning keys upon them.

By the time I was finished, I had no hope of returning the guitar to its former state.

At this moment, Andrew re-entered the room.

He was so enraged at my disobedience that he picked up the guitar and hit me on the head with it – tuning keys first.

The result surprised us both. One of the keys must have severed a particularly vascular part of my scalp, as blood began gushing freely.

Against my snow-white hair, the effect was dramatic to say the least.

I didn’t feel much pain, but I do remember Andrew’s blind panic.

Our mother and my father were due to return to the family home soon.

As I was something of a ‘golden child’, Andrew knew that Wim’s wrath would be swift and complete.

So he tried to cut a deal with me.

First, he stemmed the blood with Bandaids.

Next he ‘dinked’ me on his bike around the block.

Then he gave me 20 cents. A week’s pocket money in those days.

Finally, he implored me at length not to ‘dob’ on him.

I agreed.

Yet when my parents arrived home, the very first thing I said was, ‘Andrew hit me with his guitar’.

45 years later, I still don’t know why I dropped him in the shit.

I think, perhaps, that I was a little shit.

The guitar went on to a varied yet tepid career at my primary school.

Andrew spent four years dying agonisingly of motor neurone disease before reaching 60.

This is the first time I’ve written about him.

As it’s currently 4:35 am, I don’t think it’ll be the last.

If you found this content useful or entertaining, you may wish to:

Even a buck or three will keep me in the hunt. With many thanks, Paul.

Toe tapper

June 5, 2015 at 9:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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In my early 20s, I was very partial to a song by C+C Music Factory.

It was called Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).

And whenever this song played, I usually did both.

This remains the only tune to which I’ve lost a shoe.

It was Friday.

I’d just come from my automotive industry job, so the shoe was a heavy, bulky, steel-capped affair.

At the zenith of one my jubilant high kicks, it flew quite a distance – narrowly missing a barman at Bobby McGee’s.

After apologising, I removed the other shoe so I could dance in socks.

A bouncer quickly advised me this was forbidden on safety grounds (e.g. I could step on broken glass).

After apologising, I asked the disc jockey for some gaffer tape.

Being a casual DJ myself at the time, I was sure he’d have a roll behind his console.

He did, but it wasn’t the hue I’d hoped for.

Instead of the customary black, it was bright orange.

The 12-inch ‘mega-mix’ song was still playing.

I was eager to dance before it ended, so I quickly wound the gaffer tape round both my shoes, binding them firmly to my feet.

While this rendered them safe from further discharge, my girlfriend was unimpressed by the aesthetic.

But, as I’d been so uncool for so long, her concern didn’t dissuade me from my intended task.

I like to think that somewhere in the world there’s a barman, a bouncer and a DJ who remember me fondly each time they hear that song.

Though I concede it’s a

long shot.

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