I pack my bag and pillow and consider the possibilities that may lie ahead.
I get my car keys. I’m not sure how this is going to work but if I have a car I have an escape plan. Not that I need one, its just that I didn’t bother packing the night before and hence there was no way I would catch the train. The bag was heavy anyway so that would have been plan stupid.
And going by car was the right thing todo. The M6 was strangely quiet, although it is Friday morning, so for it to be like this is not impossible just implausible. Before you know it I’m at work in 20 minutes, like a rocket ship heading to the stars.
As I pull onto the car park I see Adam and shout him over. “Do you fancy going to Polly’s for a bacon Sandwich?” Moments later we are pulled up outside and sat down inside with our orders taken.
Like most things at Polly’s, it wasn’t the best bacon sandwich in town, but it was a bacon sandwich. And that meant something. Not a lot but something.
As I bit into it I realise just how much I miss the canteen once more. I’m beginning to live for the missing of the canteen. The missing of Jean and Neil, a two some, a combo that shouldn’t work, in someways didn’t work, but as strange things happen in life, in a way they did work, if nothing else I brought them together in endless days of happiness, as I would bond through the door with either a smile or no smile on my face. Life is just not the same without it, life is just not the same without them.
Sometime later, about four hours in fact, I’m with Matthew. We are back in Erdington and looking to have dinner with Lucifer dressed up as God once more, if he will let us break some bread with him again? In reality it doesn’t matter which as long as they will feed us, my loyalty can say.
We enter, for we are welcome, well that's what the sign says, even if we are being lulled in by false pretences. I nudge Matthew and say “what ever you do don’t eat the apples.”
We peruse the menu as we do, everyday, as if we are awaiting a miracle of it changing infront of our eyes. Perhaps the beef will change to chicken and ploughman's into a fisherman's.
Now I’m being healthy again, I like healthy, I like it because I know at some point soon I’m going to be unhealthy, and that in itself is a good thing. I’m just not sure when, or how bad. No pork pie? I ponder is that a religious thing and reach for the menu, did it not say pork pie?
Darkness eventually falls on us all and I leave the office for the wet roads of Birmingham. Here I find the lost souls drifting down the streets, going nowhere in the redness of stopping, not moving forward, not going anywhere, but wishing, wishing not to be here but somewhere else, home, the beach, the mountains, somewhere warm, somewhere comfortable, somewhere with conversation and warmth.
I arrive on the other side, it is no drier. It is in fact wetter. I’m not sure I want to get out of the car. In fact I wasn’t originally going to come in the car. But I have and that has now changed the strategy for the weekend once more. At least I have got this far this dry.
I brave the wet, cold, damp, driving rain to the Poade’s front door, from far down the street. I ring the bell and I hear the excitement of little feet running towards it. there not Mr Poade’s thats for sure. Open it quick I think, open it now. For a few drops of rain where making oh so wet. Inside was two little faces happy to see me, I was instantly dragged to the kitchen table where I was absconded into
Colouring the unicorn with my imagination. Between the three of us, there wasn’t enough felt tip pens. There wasn’t enough colours for the rainbow, and for Isabelle, there wasn’t enough blank picture to show Nack that she want to colour in, and not in the future but right now. Some things I can magic up, some things I can make happen, something's I can wish for. but felt tip pens, hadn’t been one of those things on my mind.
And so we made those unicorns glow purple. Like a purple haze of magic, chaos and illuminati. For these are the things in my head now, these will be in my dreams, me and Lucifer playing in the fields, with our purple glowing unicorns.
It was time for bed declared daddy Poade, although this was resisted somewhat at first. I was right up for it, afterall I’d had a hard day at work. But the mighty power of Poade had spoken and was eventually adhered to when he said the magic words “I’ll read you a story”. “You will?” I said. “not you muppet”, these words I will not forget and I’m going to try them on many people to see what happens – not the, not you, you muppet, the “I’ll read you a story”.
I corrected the time and date, and the weather and Poade walks back in and asks me “what is it I’m playing at?” “I’m not playing, I’m putting it right.” “Right then put this right, and lets go”, he says. “Well I’m happy for few pints locally”, I suggest. “The hell we are he tells me, we are going to walk into Birmingham.” “We are? Do you fancy reconsidering? I would get a taxi, its a long way and its raining”. “My dear friend Nack it will be alright now come on”. These words were a delight to here, “it will be alright” but will it. I look around for Lucifer, I can’t see him, but I sure can smell him. I ponder if God is around too?
Sometime later we arrive at pub one. A nice pub, a very nice pub a pub called the Black Swan, and now matter how nice it is on the outside, its nicer on the inside. I like it here, I like the scratchins, I like the beer, I like the darkness, and the look of food on other peoples plates. We leave. And as we do so I turn to see if we are being followed.
Sometime later we arrive at our next venue, The High Field.. It may not look it from out here but I get the name I get the joke.
There is no field and its not high. Only the people inside are, high of the intoxicating fumes of the atmosphere, the buzz, the intellect. I ask the pig if he is the doorman and if it is okay for me to go in? There is no reply so I walk by. Then I hear a snout. I turn around but we are not being followed.
Things here weren’t bad, if anything they were good. For they had purity and with purity came only two things. However I can’t say I’d tried Longhorn so you never know and I had one of them. There was no where to sit at first, so I did my usual and asked if I could sit with someone else at their table. I must be happy, for I am happy to communicate with the strangers, a strange thing, but something I did. For here we had travelled in time, I looked around and it was quiet obvious that we had been taken back to the eighties, and this was not any old bar this was an eighties wine bar, for I had been here before just near the end. I recognised the buzz, the liquids flowing, the sparkle of the wines, but for what ever reason Matt did not want to stay, he wanted us out, he wanted us to breath the fresh air, we leave.
Now considering how far it is to walk to Birmingham we made it quiet quickly there I think. We stopped at O’Neils on the Broadest of streets, which took me back to a story of two T-shirts, and also their facilities. I needed them and I needed them then, right then. And when the load had been unloaded I was ready to walk some more, to the Tap and Spile. I can’t recall the inside of this place from the past, should I have done, I’m not sure, a proper pub on the backstreet of the main drag. Out of the eyes of those behind us. Here they would not see what we really get up to.
They had some really cheap beer on tap here and I think but I’m not sure we had it. it must have been all that wine that has gone to my head. And at the same time, I’m not sure that the bar man was sure if he had any scratchins. The thing is he did, although he did not remember straight away and eventually heard us say well no scratchins here then afterall. And out of the blue he brought some over later. He didn’t have to go and get them, he just needed to remember where behind the bar they were – or so he said.
I have no idea how long we where in there for but, we weren’t in there very long. We slipped out of the backdoor and walked through rat city. I wanted to enjoy the festive lights he wanted to post some mail. Neither of us met our agenda but we did see some rats, the rats were in the bars, the restaurants, sitting by the canal side water, this place was full of them and Poade wouldn’t stop to admire them.
Have you ever felt small? Here is the spot light of the area, something to gaze into as if you looking for the light, the sparkle the answer. I look up and enter a different world. “what are you up to Nack?” Poade says with a smile on his face. “Come on we are nearly where I want to take you, we are nearly where you’ll love to be, we are nearly where you’ll never want to leave, we are nearly there, come on”
It’s hard to say how we got here but we did. This should have been a warning but wasn’t, neither was the police van outside. Inside though the purest of beers was about to flow. Ordering was simple, standing was simple, I don’t remember sitting, and then I do, I did, then we did. I think. the beer was pure, pure Purity beer, satisfying, quenching and wonderfully wet.
Gravity pulled more and more from my glass and into the soft cushions of my cheeks.
But where and when should we stop. There’s so many tapes with the star that burns so brightly on them. Is it Christmas I wonder, are these the five kings and if so where are very heading. Surely we should meet each one.
it indispensable to say the sun rose before we left. It didn’t and we didn’t leave. Not a first, not at second, I’m just not sure I wanted to leave.
Someone else did though. Enough of the good stuff, I want some Brewdog. Poade had become very demanding. We could stay here, we should stay here, we should stay with the five kings. They will look after us, guide us, ensure our trip home in safety. But no, Lucifer had come with us and we left.
He was off, like a bullet from a hot barrel of a shot gun, the trigger had been pulled for whatever reason and we were down the road. But I dragged him back, back to a red building, dressed up as a Post Office, he could post his mail, and we could experience the pub in flame red, the redness of the devils lair, the warmth that came through the door and out into the outside air. He didn’t want to but, he did, we went in and we went down the stairs to the bar.
It was a haven of beers from around the world, all secretly hidden away, preserved and kept aside ready for the those that wanted them so badly. In the bustling noise, Poade said to me “I'll have a wheat beer” and vanished into the hot, slimy, crowd all rubbing up each other, but Lucifer now standing next to me deciphered it to me as “I’ll have a weak beer, that's what he said”. I looked him in the eye, smiled, he winked, grinned and I instantly knew he didn’t mean “I’ll have a weak beer” but what he had truly said was “I’ll have the strongest beer they have in the place”
There was so many, so how do we choose, we don’t, we ask for it, we get it poured for us and it was done it was ordered swiftly and discreetly. And as it was being finished, and topped to the brim, the bar man handed it over with a smile, such a big smile, and I handed it over to Matt with a smile a big smile, and Matt looked at me “this is a bit dark isn’t it? Its yours surely?” “No mate that's yours that's truly yours.” “But its dark truly dark, black, coal like coloured. The next beer is surely mine?”. The next beer came and all I can say is thankgod it was also dark, although I didn’t want a dark one either, in fact what I wanted was a light weak beer, and weak I got, but light I didn’t. Poade looked, Poade sipped, Poade winced, Poade said.
“Its bloody awful that is bloody awful, What's yours like? “Oh mines nice” I reply, “dark and nice.” “Well mines not lets neck them and move on”. From a distance, in the crowd Lucifer smiles, winks and wanders off into the crowd. The beers are guzzled fast, quick, down in a few, not one but as quick as we could, and before we left, it had happened, things had changed, nothing was the same, the madness had begun, the trembling laughter could be heard all around. What is it, where are we going, this way Nack this way Nack, and as we head down the dark empty street we pass the a work force in road busily working away, Lucifer was there, he was with them, in one of bright dazzling jackets. I swear he was following.
We reach the pub Poade was desperate to get to, no crowds, no buzz, no lights on? Just a couple of people outside, sitting, relaxing doing nothing much, just being them and then we turn up, giddy mad, wanting more, more refreshment, more maddness, “aren't we open cries Matt?” “Nope came the reply, we haven't been open for hours, the monkeys up the road have cut through our power lines, we are just here just incase they fix it, we are the bar staff you see”. The conversation goes and on and on and on, but those power lines are not fixed, not whilst we are there. “Then one of them pipes up why don’t you pair go to the Vic over there, fine ales there, we were there last night, thats where we go when we go out and want fine beer”. Matt looks down the road, then back a them, and then back at me. He doesn’t Lucifier so he doesn’t look at him. Just at the Vic and then at me and then at the Vic and then at me. “You’ve got it your way then Nack, we are going to end up at the Vic, just like you want, just like we said we wouldn’t, just like we shouldn’t.”
The legs aren't connected to the head, and the head not connected to the legs but they knew where to go, they knew what to do.These where the magic moments, the moments before you enter a different world.
A place, a bar, where no knows your name, nobody knows your face, nobody knows what you’ll say next, this was my place, this was my haunt, this is the place I like to bring Poade because he doesn’t understand.
We enter the world of the otherhalf, and head to the bar, there’s so much choice in front of us, what shall we choose? The barman swings around and I come face to face, it is him, him serving us, and in the crowd we are served so swiftly, to the disappointment and amazement of the others around us. We pay, collect and whisk those drinks away. And head upstairs. But no there’s a band on. Music, live music until 11pm. We aren't allowed to enter. It wont be long it will be over. We head tot he other music room, sweat and bodies all mingling into one. Jirating, gliding, slithering around the room in unison to the mystic rhythms and beats that are humming around us.
The band finishes and we are allowed upstairs, the disco starts up here too, but up here there is room to dance, there’s room to move, to play, to be rediculous, Poade joins me for a brief time, nobody else does. It doesn’t matter here we are, the place I wanted to be, needed to enjoy, a place I can let my mind be free, my legs, my arms, my head, my mind, my feet. I probably look a knob but it doesn’t matter in the bar where nobody knows my name. This is my bar, my favourite bar, the bar where I’m not here, never have been, never will be. So just for a moment I am free, free from the world around me.
At some point my mind triggers this music isn’t all to my liking and look, there are the DJ’s. Perhaps its time for some KLF. Perhaps they will enjoy the moment of being able to play some KLF, some of the top sounds ever created for mankind, the music to yours ears that blows your mind. I approach them. And then return to Poade “they not buying it, I don’t know why, I don't think its on their eyepod, Perhaps if you ask for them too, they’ll put them on. Some moments later Poade disappears and comes back. “I don’t think they know who they are mate”. Sometime later I see the DJ’s head tot he bar. Poade insists we need another beer, I don’t resist, this is a moment, this is it, I head to the bar I position next to them, the bar girl comes over and take the order, and I begin to chat to the DJ’s, a chat that is all about the KLF, mindless points, notations, guestures, they quite frankly don’t know who the KLF are. “How can you be DJ’s if you don’t know who the KLF are” I explode, a tear drop explodes as it falls from my eye. They star at each other and I shout “They burnt a million pounds for god sake how could you not know???” Hearing the mystical conversation the bar girl can no longer contaier herself and explodes with laughter, and the DJ’s come closer and say “We aren't real DJ’s, the DJ down stairs tells us what to do”. Love is made in the air, hands are shaken and the dancing goes on regardless.
At some point Poade has lost control of his mind. He doesn’t want to leave either, he wants more beer, more beer and yet more beer. I look him in the ye, he’s not lying but I don’t think he can take any more beer. I suggest we leave. I look from his face over his should and see Donkey Skin, someone I’ve not been expecting to see. Someone I’d expect not to here of again. We are beckoned though the door to another place, another destiny but here we cannot stay.
We say goodnight to the world of Donkey Skin and head out into the cooling air, take me for a Chinese he says. A Chinese, when we are here, in the back streets of where the greatest Indian chef lives?
And so we head into the Taj Mahal, a place I’ve know many years, a place you can never tell how good a meal you're going to get. Sometime good, sometimes bad, and sometimes I can’t remember being here at all!
The waiter coes over and ask what we want. What I want isn’t on the menu I say. What I want is something delicious, something to make my tongue curl, my ahir to straighten, my breath to catch fire. He looks me in the eye, and says are you sure sir. He goes away and comes back, the chef will do it, he’s never done it before, are you sure? Yes I’m sure. Poade are you joining me. He was not. He was swaying too, and swaying throw, but before you know it he was served his starter.
From my mouth I could sense the exploding teardrops., from the sensations of what was happening in my mouth and in my nose. I’d only ever experienced it once before, and this time I could savour it, the magnificence's, the delight, the fiery hell that was going on. I’d say ti was awesome, but it was not, it was deadly, it was an inferno only Lucifer could enjoy.
For Poade though it was Chicken Tikka Masala. Why I don’t know, I didn’t ask. He looked happy and that's all that mattered.
I was wrong though, for he wanted Chinese and that was no Masala the chef had done him. What he had was delightful, and need plenty my beer with it too.
At some point I know he said he’d enjoyed every moment of the night, that he want to do it again soon, that it couldn’t come quick enough, but right now he was lost for words, for he was lost of consciousness. But that's Okay. For I knew the way home, I knew we weren’t never going to be here and I knew how to get back, and I knew I’d always take him back to where he belonged.
I can’t say I was going to look forward to the morning, I can’t say it wasn’t already here. I’m not even sure he went to bed, or how he went to bed. I can’t say how we got through the front door. But this is my watch, my favourite watch and from this point I went and hid in the attic.
Here I could close my eyes and dream of more adventure with Lucifer and Donkey Skin, I felt another tear drop explode as I closed my eyes.