No More, No Less

 

May 2020

 

 

When you die

 

You die with your memories.

 

When I die

 

I’d like to know you’ve fallen in love

 

again, and again, and again.

 

 

 

Think I saw the man

 

with the toothpick you told me about

 

It reminded me of the tourists photographing

 

the Dior shop in Venice.

 

 

 

In my daydreams I am alone.

 

Without the woman next to me

 

stinking of fags so much

 

her dog has adopted the smell.

 

 

 

Lansoprazole

 

November 2019

 

 

We're taking a client to a doctor's appointment and I'm in the passenger seat. My manager is driving. He's in his late twenties, younger than me. He doesn’t say much. Cocky, self-assured. Wears his blond hair in a top knot. Skinny and small- town trendy, inoffensively dressed in All Saints and Nike.

 

More than once one of the seniors has described how she'd fuck him. “Bash his brains out.” “I'd grind his face with my clit. Suffocate him with my tits” (they’re huge). She smiles and nibbles her bottom lip piercing; over time it's chiselled out a small gap between her front teeth. She lets out a burp as if to emphasise her point, sucks the piercing then take a swig from her instant coffee. She reaches for her baccy pouch to roll a fag. Her foaming tongue darts out to licks the glue rim of the rizla then gestures the rolly my way - “Fancy one babe?”

 

She must find him exotic, coming in at office hours while we're in at the crack of dawn. Maybe it's how he nonchalantly puts his Argos Value PC briefcase down on the red, chewing gum stained short rug carpet each morning. Or the three-week safari break to Zimbabwe he's just come back from (but not spoken about). Or his dismissive- yet- passive group-chat messages to say when someone's not done their client's monthly report on time. Always delivered with contempt. He’s managed to shroud himself in a mist of dismissal.

 

The tiny office we’re all crammed in has just one chair. A stainless-steel conference chair with a ratty old upholstered seat. It's worn through and its foam filling is spilling out where people have sat on the desk, resting their feet on it. A couple of MDF shelves sag on the wall under the weight of care plans and proforma. To the left a locked, grey meds cabinet containing anti- psychotics, mood-stabilizers, tranquilisers and the laxatives. Too many drugs would bung anyone up.

 

The automatic engine moves from second to third as we gently accelerate out of a roundabout. It’s winter and the sun hang low on the horizon. Warm, dry air is streaming over my face from the fan. I flick the visor down to stop the glare hitting my eyes. They are sore, dry, and water as I blink. Knackered now and my head is fuzzy. Tail end of a 14-hour shift.

 

 

 

Headstone (excerpt)

 

July 2019

 

 

The grass is bone dry; it crunches a little underfoot, covering the dusty pebble track. Either side of the path there are huge cacti growing, scarred by passers-by, severed by some kind soul realising that uninhibited the plant would take over the land. Knobbly shoots still try. There is rubbish everywhere, shreds of fading newspaper, crisp packets and it smells of piss. People are in a hurry and don’t attempt to veer away from the path to relive themselves. The further you get towards the islands northern tip, the fewer people you will find around you until you are by a ruin, totally exposed to the elements for thousands of years, guarded by a thin metal fence that lazily attempts to stop the handful of tourists seeking to visit this promiscuous ruin each year.

 

A gentle wind brings a welcome breeze, just strong enough to tickle your face with any loose strands of hair. Between the gusts the air is close, melting over the land like lard and everywhere there is the smell of the sea mixing with the urine.

 

Something moves through the dry grass and a nude lizard scurries across the path. It freezes as if stilled by the presence of a human figure, it seems to blend into its crumbly context but as it gently flicks its tail the sun sends a current of rays across the minute scales on its skin.

 

For the past seven years Julia’s life has been confined to these walls. She has been sent to the island by her father, who felt isolation, away from the temptations of the city was what the disease of his flesh needed. Julia’s life had come to include knowing too many men for her father’s liking. The villa where she is now kept is centred around a courtyard, partially covered by a canopy of vines. She often seeks shade under the vines at the height of noon.

 

Let me tell you this from another perspective.

 

 

 

The Only Hotel in Town

 

He was in the reflection she saw turning away from the mirror.

 

He was projected to the flesh on the insides of her eyelids.

 

He was in songs and in movies.

 

 

 

Pressing her eye to the rubber of the binocular,

 

so close that the devise itself disappears from view.

 

Looking for islands that has never been seen before.

 

Looking for a home.

 

 

 

That was when she saw that the arsehole was just and arsehole.

 

He was not an icon.

 

The burden of being the responsible one fell on her.

 

And he was not tall, dark or handsome.

 

 

 

 

 

This time she was dead. Lying naked on the floor of the only hotel in town.

 

The dream was less a dream and more a pastiche of rape and rejection.

 

Needing to meet the gaze of another that would see her. Fuck her.

 

If you run fast enough, if you go deep enough you can get to oblivion.

 

The high is heavy enough to suppress the dreams.

 

But every now and then those memories creep up, into desire.

 

 

 

In my dreams I am writing porn for you to cum over.

 

On the streets around us bodies melt together in sweat.

 

Still, these places are better than reality.

 

I am falling into it, down through the layers.

 

At the bottom smashing into a cold floor.

 

 

 

My skin is green, and the inside is dead.

 

You’re pounding me.

 

Shoving a dick-shaped ice-lolly into my cold, dry anus.

 

But not reviving me.

 

You pierce the skin on my chest with pins then,

 

slap my cheeks and,

 

shove the lolly deeper, deeper and deeper until...

 

My eyes open.

 

Twist my head and you loosen the grip aground my neck.

 

I start to see now, it’s all familiar.

 

It’s home.

 

 

 

Viewed in the binocular the island seems flat.

 

Its sides shooting out of the water in 2D.

 

The closer we get to it.

 

The more enigmatic it becomes.

 

And we arrive we see.

 

It’s flawed, bruised and broken.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, somewhere else tall pine trees letting in rays of sunshine spotlighting cushions of moss down below. Overgrown boulders make dens for them to hide in. Once again, the day is dawning, and her hair is flowing over the forest floor. The lady of the forest, she is here now, timidly, silently waiting for you kindly to meet her kiss, then turns her back to you to change shape.

 

 

 

In the night

Julia’s working hard, she’s been out twice, picking up bottles for the three of them. Heading back. She presses a silvery plastic buzzer, flat 3 and with a wordless grunt is let in. Returning up to the bedsit on floor 2 to carry on. Kicks her trainers off by the front door. The walls are fraying where coats of magnolia have been slapped on, one on top of the other. There’s distinctive thumbed grease marks on the corner between the door and the room which contains a kitchenette, a sofa- come- bed and an empty clothes-horse. The clothes had been thrown over stainless- steel drying rack, which was thrown over a couple of hour ago, crusty grey socks marked by the metal bars scatter across the shit-brown short shag carpet, darkening in patches where a  pot-noodle was spilt some days ago. A layer of smoke is hovering near the ceiling. As she comes into the room, both guys are on the sofa and she falls down and lays her head on a lap, letting the bottles in her plastic carrier bag fall in the little gap between their legs and the sticky table. His dick under black denim against her cheek. She’s rubbing her temple into it.

 

She sits up to light a fag and the contours of cock is showing through the thick fabric. That wet chest, his shirt is loose and open. On what seems like pure instinct he reaches out to run his fingers through her hair. Whereby her head falls back on lap, fag goes into an almost empty glass of warm whiskey and his zip opens. In that very motion the guys knees rub. The next moment both of them have their dicks out. They fuck her. The tampon inside Julia is shoved up deeper with each thrust. After forever, they stop. She squats down over by the crusty socks, pushing her fingers deep inside to get the tampon out. She gets hold of the packed-up string and reaches up onto the kitchen counter top to grab a fresh one. With lightly blooded, tacky fingers she twists the cellphone wrapper and shoves it up. She carries on like that for days, days, days and nights, fucking, getting tampons out, fucking getting tampons out, and the whole-time only Julia comes. They spend the summer together and saying it out loud sounds so fucking cheesy, but she deeply loves them both. She still does.

 

 

 

Cast of Characters

 

Father: A man in his early 40’s (looks younger). Though Swedish, his skin is olive. Hair cut like James Dean. Calm brown eyes. He works more than he should. He expresses love by being entrusting. Example: he is the kind of man who would employ a healing gambling addict. He would say “they need someone to believe in them in order to recover”. He likes fixing things around the house, a home that he built himself that his family are now living in.

 

Julia: Child, daughter. Julia adores her father. Julia's father is everything to Julia.

 

Scene

 

Inside a garage clad in yellow wood, besides a bungalow in the same hue, somewhere in suburban Sweden. Two large double doors open onto a white pebble drive.

 

Time

 

In the past.

 

 

 

Act 1

 

Scene 1

 

SETTING: We are in the garage. On the side wall rows of tools are hung up on two perforated boards. Along another wall a metal shelf has four stacked boxes with more tools. A few lengths of timber are leant up against the opposite wall. The concrete floor is smudged with oil and splodges of spray paint. There is a moped covered with a green tarpaulin at the back, behind a stack of tires.

 

The garage is typical of the area. There is a blue boom box plugged in over on the wooden work- bench under the perforated tool- board. It is playing Modern Girl by Sleater- Kinney.

 

 

 

My baby loves me

 

I'm so happy

 

Happy makes me

 

A modern girl

 

Took my money

 

And bought a TV

 

TV brings me

 

Closer to the world

 

 

 

At rise: Julia is watching her dad wound the scissor jack to raise the car up. It is warm and the seams of his jeans have left reddish dents on his strong hips.

 

 

 

My whole life

 

Was like a picture

 

Of a sunny day

 

My whole life

 

Was like a picture

 

Of a sunny day

 

 

 

 

My baby loves me

 

I'm so hungry

 

Hunger makes me

 

A modern girl

 

 

 

JULIA

 

(Walks over and embraces her father’s waist from behind. She presses her neck into the skin on his bare back, cold from sweat, warm from within, she can feel his muscles contract and release as he carries on the jacking. He smells oily and deeply, deeply sweaty. They are changing the rear left tire.)

 

 

Took my money

 

And bought a donut

 

The hole's the size of

 

This entire world

 

 

My whole life

 

Was like a picture

 

Of a sunny day

 

My whole life

 

Looked like a picture

 

Of a sunny day

 

 

 

My baby loves me

 

I'm so angry

 

Anger makes me a modern girl

 

Took my money

 

I couldn't…

 

 

 

FATHER

 

(Julia’s dad stops pumping the jack and removes the hub cap. He looks at the nuts, that appears to have rusted).

 

 

JULIA

 

(Julia releases the hold of her father’s waist. She walks over to the work bench under the perforated board and fetches some WD40. She walks back over to the tire and sprays it on to the rusty nuts. It foams then runs in a slow stream down the wheel, absorbing. It smells of bubblegum.)

 

 

That was at the beginning. You have got to understand me. When I am quiet, I think. When I speak I have finished thinking. I cannot always be productive, but you have got to let me finish my trail of thought. To which it strikes me that your questions and my answer does more often than not, not meet. For instance, I only ever felt safe in the forest. But that was before I knew about the general unsafety of this place. Speaking in questions and answers, your questions makes no sense, right? It is your questions that is flawed, not my response. But now I have started speaking up and I worry it will change our relationship.

 

Let’s start again.

 

 

Julia's Neighbour

 

One day when the whole family is at the dinner table the doorbell rings. Julia looks up with a puzzled expression on her face. Glancing diagonally across the table at her mother, fearing her reaction as he does not like being disturbed during mealtimes. No one is expected and if they were people would usually just let themselves in anyway. Putting her cutlery either side of the dinner plate, Julia gets up to answer the door. To her surprise it is the neighbour from across the street, Stu. His tufty blonde greying hair has wild sideburns growing down the sides of his cheeks, tucked in to gold-plated aviator bifocal cut glasses. Wrinkly thin lips cover his rickety, old teeth.

 

It is all anus shaped. His clothes are drenched in a deep, earthy smell of lawn and leafy smoke, Marlborough red.

 

Without a verbal exchange and just nod for a greeting, Julia and Stu walk into the kitchen and stand together on the paisley lino floor, next to the dinner table. Julia's socks have slid half way down and she is gathering the excess fabric with her toes, massaging it into a ball under her big toe. Stu begins to cry.

 

Stu: I had to tell you in person (pursing his wrinkly lips, his voice filled with sadness.)

 

Julia: (Looking at Stu with compassion. Then back down at her socks. Nodding her head).

 

It is silent in the kitchen. Everyone has stopped eating. Julia’s mum is still holding her knife in her right hand.

 

Stu: I just want you to know it was an accident. (Pleading for empathy).

 

It is still silent.

 

Stu: (Eyes glancing down, still looking for empathy). I touched Mel, Fred and Ann. (Removes his glasses off and wipes the saggy skin under his eyes with his shirt sleeve). They have now reported me and I wanted to tell you in person.

 

Stu is really crying now.

 

Stu: I had a stroke and I did it all when I was out of it. I can’t remember a thing. It all happened because of the stroke.

 

Julia: Poor you! (Genuinely feels horrible that Stu is so upset and crying in the kitchen.) (Mel, Fred and Ann are the kids from across the street. She played with them just before dinner time and had noticed how Stu had looked at them from his bedroom window.)

 

Julia moves closer to Stu and wraps her arms around him. Stu strokes her head across the crown. Julia's dad gets up.

 

Stu: I should let you guys get on with your dinner. I just wanted you to know it was all an accident. I hope you can forgive me (he's cocky now, sure that no one will think anything of it).

 

Stu leaves the kitchen, closes the front door behind him and walks across the road, back to his house. He walks through his hallway, through the front room and straight out onto the back porch which is adjacent to Mel, Fred and Anne's back garden. He sits down on his sun lounger and lights a fag; his wife comes out after him with a clean ashtray as the glass in his glasses adjusts to the late sun and darken.

 

 

High Pressure

 

The early evening is beautiful and hot. The air is the colour of peaches in pale blue milk and swallows are flying high in the sky to catch their pray. In the summers, you can tell so much by looking at the swallows. They fly high cause swarms of insects are carried up with the warm air. The swallows must be up there too to catch them. On summer evenings, you can get a good idea of the following days weather by looking at how they fly. When the swallows soar high the weather will be sunny.

 

Barn swallows are common where Julia lives, they make their nests under roofs and in other bits of buildings in the fields around the neighbourhood. In the wintertime the swallows fly south. By September time they are all gone. The thing with swallows is that they always return to the same place for winter year after year, somewhere on the other side of the planet.

 

The sky goes from pale blue to dark and the swallows are landing to rest their wings on the phone lines.

 

Is this all true?

 

 

 

The Soft Parade

 

Another day, much later on bough the pleasures that know no season, they meet at an indy cinema for a late showing of Inherent Vice. The dark is the only place they hold hands. They plait their fingers together in a grip that changes with strokes and caresses. Julia has a bottle of spiced rum that they share without any real conviction, as the film cut from home to streets and cars in the background. She leans her head on his slender shoulder, draped by a white breaking veil of a cotton t-shirt. With his free thumb he grips her chin by the cheekbone and in a sweeping movement fling his tongue around hers, tobacco and booze, while shifting his hand to let his fingers move aimlessly up the inside of her bare thigh.

 

As the credits begin their slow parade and the lights come back on, they fall out onto the damp, sticky streets. With his usual pull-of-the-wrist handholding technique he drags her along. They end up 1am on a little dirt track adjacent to the train tracks. They always seem to end up in places where shit gathers. Surrounded by plastic bottles and emptying footballs she kneels to suck him off. But before finishing he drags her away again, back to the dingy bedsit that he shares with his girlfriend. Julia splays her ass open bending over the back of the sofa, and he meets her invite. She comes and fall onto a thin mattress on the floor. He wakes her up with sharp nudges of desire through the night but at 5am she gets up to walk home though the salty early air.

 

It is unusual, but he is at home sleeping, so she tucks herself into the bed next to him and drifts off. She wakes up by him rubbing his boner between her thighs. Her tongue has stuck to the roof of her mouth, so she leans over the edge of the bed and takes a swig from an open beer bottle while cum from the two men mix inside of her and they drift back to sleep through the day.

 

 

 

The Journey

 

We are still going, hold on, this is what I must tell you.

 

Julia sets off on a trip. She visits a museum and comes across a blue whale which died more than 100 years ago, so goes went inside the whale's belly through a door on its side. Inside, there are tables and chairs, so Julia sits down to rest her legs, around her are shelves full of ceramic whales, floor to ceiling. There are mugs printed with pictures of whales, whale rubbers, whale aprons, soft toys in the shape of whales, notebooks in the shape of whales and whale Rubik’s cubes for sale.

 

She looks up at the inside of the whale's rib cage. It has toughened and gone leathery, but it is all disguised in layers of red velvety fabric, draped from the spine down around the sides. The smell makes her feel uneasy, so she stands up to leave. That is when Julia’s dad come to pick her up and they sail away together on a boat. Julia's dad has huge boat. It is glorious, white, shining on the waives. Her name is Belone.

 

They enter the French waterways on the Liaison Dunkerque-Escaut and sail south east through theMardyck lock passing St Omer after a day or so. They embrace in the rear of the boat; Julia's dad brushes the hair away from her neck and rubs his stubbly cheeks into her skin. His arms fold round her, breathing. They sit together. Music shout from the speakers inside of the boat. Julia's dad disappears inside for a moment leaving her to steer the vessel. He returns to deck holding a can of beer that he cracks open as they watch the sun set over the viaduct in Bethune. He holds her with a deep calm. Julia rolls over onto her back. He carries on rubbing his chin into her neck. She begins giggling and pushes him away, but he comes closer and leans in to tickle her, really stoking his stubble into her skin. She is roaring with laughter and pushes him of, but he keeps coming closer. She begs him to carry on. He pushes her arms into the seat, straddling her with his legs either side of her waist. She relaxes and he leans in, pushing his body close to hers.

 

Keep me close

 

Float with me

 

Being in the sea is more free

 

And the moon is covered in honey

 

Is it okay?

 

If we just stay

 

And float away?

 

 

 

As the melody of the waives

 

Slumps with the tide

 

And slows to a pulse

 

Let it move through you

 

 

 

Some wanted to see beauty, but they could not. They had long since abandoned looking at what was around them. The silently, timidly gorgeous lilacs, the stoic and proud public sculptures, the invaluable and unique medieval illustrated scripts. The purpose of which had become a mere backdrop; a mirror to show others you had been there.

 

They did desire beauty but had through the technology of capitalism made themselves unable to respond to it in any other way than with photography. They had substituted feeling and experiencing by commodification and communicating emotions in pictures.

 

After three days on the canals they reach point l'Eveque where the waterways split and they take the route south west on the Oise, reaching Conflans in two days, joining the Seine, passing under the bridges of Paris; Pont au Double, Pont des Artes, Pont au Change.

 

They follow the Burbonnaise route south, pass Rogny and Briare, carry on north east through thickly wooded countryside, before heading south again towards Villefranche, following the Rhone and eventually ending up in Port Saint Louise du Rhone on the Cote d'Azure.

 

Some have been known to make male muses out of thin plastic and blow them up with bicycle tire pumps, pump, pump, pump, a motion that fills it up with air. They hump the muses and objectify them. They use their own objectification as a mirror, they undress, body-slide in mud on polished concrete floors, reflecting the problem back onto the observer. They use megaphones. They amplify motorway noise to prove the point that motorways are too loud and ruin the peace and quiet of the countryside. Then portray themselves as shy and romantic despite New York being such a “fast paced city” and the fact that “our society sexualises every encounter”.

 

Julia ties a man to the top of their mast and sees beauty in his still limbs. She adores how the sun reflects on his olive skin and contours of contorted muscles paint in the shading. They cross the Mediterranean.

 

 

 

Reaching Other Islands

 

The octagonal helipad offers promises of connectivity. It is there for those who can come and go as they please. Yellow lights expectantly point to the centre from six of its sides, with its middle crowned by a white light pointing up into the sky, as if in conversation with the arbour. These days, what used to be Julia’s front garden is the island’s access point, favoured by those in a hurry, but none the less. The port just across the bay is more suited for those preferring a sea-based route. Neither mode of transport knew of any restrictions and no behaviour would limit access, in either way you would be free to come and go, as it were. It seems fitting then, that the helicopter pad nowadays provided this important access to the surrounding world from where Julia would have stood many times, unable to leave. There is no irony in that.

 

They fucked and slept and each time he came he stayed inside of her. He forbade her to leave the bed and she obeyed. The sixth or seventh time the pressure of his massive cock swelling up inside of her made her piss herself just as he finished and they drifted back to sleep on sheets soggy with piss, sweat and cum. She is free, and that is why she is lost.

 

The caves on Julia’s island are now occupied by sailing merchants. They provided close access to the beach via a twisty step down onto the dark sand. Before sunset the men pack their tools into the hollows, which overflow with materials, metals, fabric and tools. A door-frame attempted to provide security, but its square shape only covers some of the rounded access hole. At another point in history, after Julia was long gone, these caves had another purpose as the island became a place for rehabilitation. Prostitutes from all the surrounding nations were sent here to be close to nature and find an inner morality. Away from their normal clientele, the women found a use for these damp rooms and ran brothels, fuelled by the trade of the petty criminals, also sent her to reform.

 

 

 

Ras al Bassit

 

The Kingdom of God is measured in in square hours

 

It is a Kingdom with all the time in the world

 

I have used all the time available to me

 

and must seek an imaginary sort of time

 

 

 

Poseidon stands south of Jebel Aqra

 

Raising his fist to gather a thunderstorm

 

Cassius cut out in limestone

 

It is the home of the gods, where time stands still

 

 

 

Saint Simeon stands on its northern flank

 

On his pillar near the tree-lines

 

Forsaking his gift of Kasios

 

Saint Simeon of the Admirable Mountain

 

 

The cult of the god of the mountains

 

Where the human is not real

 

Your new best friend speaks in electronic messages

 

And only drowning could make you see him.

 

 

They had reached the black beaches of Poseidon. Julia put on her backpack and a few hundred meters from land she left the ship. She closed her eyes and jumped into the water, she sank for a bit, each fibre she was wearing saturating with seawater, then swam up to the surface. From the water she watched her father turn the ship around and leave her, he sailed away, towards the horizon. Julia started swimming towards the shore and reached it eventually. She was heavy, so so heavy. She walked out of the sea, then laid down on the black sand.

 

 

The Jam in Bellfield

 

October 2018

 

 

Everyone in Bellfield loved jam. The whole village went crazy for the stuff. They would eat it with spoons, whole jar fulls at a time. You hadn't had jam until the whole content was gone! Some people ate jam with wooden spoons as large as a fist, that they crammed into their mouths, licking with greed from the handle as the jam ran down and spilled. Other people ate it gently with silver spoons the size of ring fingers, poking their spoon in to the jam and delicately scooping it up, giving out a sigh of pleasure as they swallowed the jam and it settled into their bellies. The people of Bellfield were deeply connected to their jam and the jam was deeply connected to the people. They had a relationship which was whole and filled with desire, with passion.

 

The newspaper in Bellfield, the Bellfield Post, featured daily photos and interviews with cute looking jam jars. These short articles would always include what berries or fruit had been used in making the jam, ranging from raspberry, strawberry or plum. Mostly the jams had been made using only the one fruit or berry. But sometimes Bellfield Post would feature unique blends, such as gooseberries and kumquat or partially ripened grapes with guavas, catering for those with a more exotic taste in jams. In the photographs, the jars were wrapped in beautiful ribbons, adorned with labels and gingham cloth covered lids. Sometimes the lid would be removed and sort of leaning up against the jar, tantalisingly revealing the jar content to the, at this point salivating, Bellfield Post reader.

 

Bellfield Post 6 April 2017:

 

Sweet Currant, 20, Bellfield

 

So, Sweet Currant. You're looking awfully sweet today. How do you keep so sweet?

 

Oh, ha-ha, thank you xxxx ;)x They thought of being eaten is what keeps me sweet.

 

So, how are you best eaten?

 

In small doses baby. Cause I'm addictive!

 

Oh okay, I see. What are you made of Sweetie?

 

Well, it's a family tradition to keep the recipe a secret. But let's just say I am made of sugar, spice and all things nice...

 

Finally, how would you describe yourself in 6 words?

 

Concentrated.... Intelligent. Motivated. Oh, and cute.

 

Sweet Currant was right. It was a tradition in Bellfield to keep jam recipes a secret. They were only ever passed from generation to generation by mouth. But the population of Bellfield had the most extraordinary knack to figure ingredients out by simply just looking at a jar of jam. Therefore, staring at somebody else jam was considered offensive to the owner in most cases. Jams had over the years learned that it was often best to keep quiet when this happened. In private, what happened between you and your jam was your business and your business only.

 

Subsequently, descriptive stories about history's most delicious jam were kept hidden in the most private of places of people's homes. Images of the most concentrated and arousing jams were passed around and spread in closed networks.

 

George Gaston

 

Despite jam being such an essential and important component of culture and life in Bellfield, some people had no idea how to make it. Bless them, they would still try! George was one of those people. One evening, George was so desperate for jam that he went to a backstreet market and bought some red currants. Back in his kitchen, George got a large, discoloured plastic bowl out of his cupboard which he poured the currants into, 6 kilos of them! He conceded to squeeze the currants with his fingers. He squeezed them and juice ran down his fingers and soaked up in the material of his starched, white shirt sleeves. A band of sweat formed in a crease on his forehead. He kneaded and punched the currants with his knuckles until his mouth began to fill up with saliva and he started dribbling into the bowl. George reached for the spices in his cupboard and got out an assortment of ingredients: sugar, turmeric, allspice and pectin, that he sprinkled on to the, by now, completely mashed currants. George began to bash the mixture hard with his fists, he had mushed currants all the way up to his elbows. Despite knowing so much about life (George was very charming and liked by all) he really had no idea how to properly make jam. His only clues were from a tape he'd sometimes watch in solitude. George wanted to try his homemade jam and licked a bit of the mixture from his finger, but he was terribly disappointed. It didn’t hit the spot at all and tasted nothing like what he had imagined. He put his mucky hand back in the ingredients cupboard and brought out the salt. In his experience jams with a hint of salt were the most delicious. Also, the most well behaved and kind.

 

And at dusk, inside of Bellfield’s many thatched roofed homes, doors would lock, old jam lids would come out of cupboards and be scattered on bedspreads. People would caress, rub and lick photographs and lid rims until mouths had gone from salivating to dry and images were fully drenched in spit and light was no more. The night would take over and cast its dense shroud over the village and all was quiet and cottony.

 

When Sweet Currant came home that evening she wept. And thus, her secret ingredients were her sorrow and her tears.