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Contemporary

 Our hero was confused. He had climbed over a fence. Greg was at the centre circle after dark. Why was he confused? The grass was green. Why did Bobby Charlton wear a red shirt playing for Manchester United? Grass was green. Why did God do the things he did? Grass looked dull. It was Brentford's ground. Just after midnight. The Saturday after the team's tremendous victory over immortal Arsenal. They were already saying amazing things. Brentford's odds to stay up given. Arsenal's manager twice as likely to be sacked after just one game. Football played on the Yorkie's mind powerfully. He wanted to make a hole where the spot at the very centre was. He was quite tall. A proud Yorkshire god that high up. He'd dig into the earth with his paws. A hole formed. He'd wee into the hole. Had a few cans of McEwans Export. Bound to help produce the wee. He wondered if drinking the stuff helped budding writers write like Ian McEwan, one of Greg's biggest heroes. He doubted it. You just fall asleep after drinking beer. He wanted to plant some seeds. They were there inside his olive green rucksack. 

 'Get my seeds out. Butter. The government increases the tax on butter. Radically increases. Demonically increases. You'll not believe your eyes when you're reading clasping your copy of The Sun. Telegraph. Your chosen newspaper falling from your hand as if a Miltonic angel, it's life knowing a summer's day is a wham of a fall.'

 'Can I get you another cup of tea?' asked the waitress.

 'I'm sorry,' said Greg. 'I was talking to myself. The money raised from more expensive butter bankrolls the circulation of the photographs. I take the hairs from the plants growing from the planted seeds. Bobby Charlton wig positioned.'

Brent and Brad Ford were there.

 'We are saying we are ordinary people, Greg. You must come along. Our exhibition. We are brothers. Gilbert and George not brothers.'

 Greg remembered George was from Plymouth.

 'All over the papers. The Plymouth murders. There is apparently an organisation going. Incel. Stands for involuntary celibacy. Someone bought The Sun today.'

 Greg needed a cigarette. He carried on.

 'I'm from Bradford. Brad Ford. Brentford's destruction of Arsenal yesterday. Brent Ford.'

 'It's a weird world,' said Brent Ford.

Brad Ford smiled. The waitress brought Greg's second cup. He was given more information. Talk of performance.

'Maxwell, I was too shy to go to the Greenwich exhibition. The Ford brothers are sitting in the gallery inside a Ford Escort. Music through speaker? Words read from book by Ford Madox Ford. I just got the train back up. Am I allowed to say it was good the killer got his mother?'

 'This is just your opinion, Greg,' said Maxwell.

 'I was just thinking she brought up her tragic son incorrectly. A son brought up correctly does not kill a bunch of people.'

 'Did the police arrest the killer?'

 'He killed himself. Should read a newspaper, my Maxwell.'

dig away and the seeds plant and the seeds be planted and up comes the plant and there a cactus and there a cactus and pull the hairs and shave the head and stick the hairs to the head join hairs and yes the bobby charlton wig and get government to place lavish taxation on butter and money raised buys a photograph of greg with bobby charlton wig signed for all citizens on planet earth grass and butter together perhaps on a canvas and on the walls in gallery as ford brothers sit in car in gallery words speaker loud

''The Last Supper' might help you, Greg. Go to Milan. Look at his face. You might see yourself there. You might see your mother there. You might see your father there. The officer said you are not in trouble for climbing over the fence. Brentford's ground. You were stressed up. They've dealt with the damage you did.'

 Greg Harrison decided not to mention the Ford brothers. He thought he'd complain to the authorities covering the Greenwich area. He did not like modern art. Frith's 'The Railway Station' was more his cup of tea. He was twenty-nine. ELO, Bradford soccer. Add Brentford. Banana kicks. Could Brentford get master of the banana kick in for the next game? The manager was Danish. Thomas Frank. Harrison was upset that the Bobby Charlton wig project had fallen through to nothing. He could not go to the centre circle at Brentford's game a second time. Saturday's 'Metro' had quite a bit on the Brentford area. Pubs right near the Brentford's ground before the Brentford team moved to the new Brentford ground. Greg wondered which Ford brother was most like Gilbert from Plymouth. The killer thought that he was both fat and ugly. No Cary Grant. Jake Davison was on Greg's mind. He was heating up some sausages. Six thin ones. He'd have them cold. He had some John Smith's extra smooth bitter. He'd have a can before the sausages. He was to have them cold. It was twenty minutes receiving the heat. He took the time from his television screen. BBC news was on. Eight minutes after three in the afternoon. Twenty minutes added to the eight gave twenty-eight.

 'Two Cruyffs,' said Greg.

 The Sun showed where the murders took place. Wasn't Eric Clapton from Plymouth? A father and his daughter lost their lives there. Would it happen in Bristol? Everything watched. Cameras everywhere. Helicopters with cameras. Officers riding camels. The officers on camels with cameras. Camels on officers. The camels on officers with cameras. Questions everywhere. Pads and handy snaps. The officers getting everything recorded. Jake would think twice in Bristol. Jake would get into something else. Jake would get into EVE Online, perhaps. EVE Online a massive game with lots of people linking. There was a battle there. Many people were linked together playing through the massive battle. The players together changed the history of the place. Or at least touched its history. Greg got his paints out. Approach Frith's 'Railway Station' differently. He was reluctant. There was some ant colony game available. App. He could video his progress. The digital videos shown in an art gallery. He would call himself Tel Ford. Ant colony? He would be the Anthony Blanche of British Art. Transformed Greg. Did Gregory Peck like being called Greg Peck? He remembered the scene in 'Roman Holiday.' Peck's character tries to get a camera from a tourist girl. There was a book on Internet Archive. 'Roman Holiday.' A study of Evelyn Waugh's Catholic novels. Greg thought of God's finger. He needed more paint. Had hardly enough to buy some strawberries. Couple of pounds a punnet, was it? But nice. Soon zoomed down inside. Wimbledon was over. Tokyo Olympics well over. Had the magic gone? What did Greg think was really altering- or did alter- the world? Facebook. He had two friends on Facebook. Maxwell and Sheila. Sheila was a formal friend. She surprised Greg when she provided the exact date of Dickie Henderson's death. They discussed the popular figure. Mint tea and chocolate digestives on the low walnut table. Any music? Frank Sinatra's first album before Culture Club's first. He sat there in the silence in his flat visualising Sheila. Could she not cuddle him? Could she not say one day he would win 'The Booker Prize.' Up there with Salman and Ian. Holding his novel up. 'Talcum Powder.' The photographs and their bulbs and their silence. He'd court Chrissie Hynde. They'd dance on Westminster Bridge. There on that bridge. He'd use Wikipedia. Greg discovered that the video shows people are using London Bridge, Hynde on Waterloo Bridge. This- as they say- according to the chameleon Wikipedia is. He sometimes looked for lock at the top of selected page. Why is Chrissie Hynde such an important performer? Greg might celebrate winning the Booker dancing with Ian McCulloch at Liverpool John Lennon Airport in Liverpool. Greg does not allow his auditors to see that he is not seeing that Plymouth does not end with the four letters ending Telford, Bradford, Brentford. This is the machinery of criticism. This is the machinery operating correctly. The Bobby Charlton wig was in a funny book in the early eighties. Would the book belong in a literary landscape knowing in its hills and valleys that a man's skin is hurting. Sheila is denying Greg. Maxwell was smelling the place out. It was depression. He did not wash much. He was missing the woman with Ted in 'Cheers.' She probably reported to someone else. Ted just played- Ted Danson's character- played a confident man with the woman. This before the perceivers. The people watching show live. The people watching the show watching TV. The characters in the bar. Norm. Remember Norm? Live crowd acknowledging his entrance. The smell was leading to problems. The uninformed Maxwell was talking to too many important people. Greg was saying it was the smell of a great historian. White lie. He thought he could get a train to Keighley to help put himself through period of commemoration. The people dying in Plymouth had to mean something. He was on the train. Platform 3 used. 17:11. Bradford Forster Square. Keighley. 17:48. Platform 1. Arrived in Keighley at 17:32. Mollie Sugden born in Keighley. 1922. Would be the 100th anniversary of Ulysses the coming February. Greg remembered Wikipedia was not always accurate. He remembered that the birthplace of Martin Amis- allegedly a member of the London Literary Mafia- was so frequently seen as born in Swansea. Books? Oxford.

'Bob Hawke probably did carry a gun when he was Prime Minister. Australia's different,' said Greg Harrison. 'I don't have the nerve to do that Tel Ford project, Max. A painting of your noble head by Robert Graves, the poet. Max by Graves. Trying to remember my project. My thing to put me there with the Ford brothers. Brad and Brent Ford. They in a Ford Escort in an art gallery. Just sitting there. Loud words through a speaker. Someone's reading from 'The Good Soldier' by Ford Madox Ford. My idea was to stick together hair and butter, historian Max.'

Not having the courage to approach the Greenwich gallery really did ground Greg. He'd put together a playlist following Joseph Campbell's monomyth with seventeen stages. Soon disillusioned. Why was hero's mother always so important? It was probably- including Harry Potter- for boys getting into Tennessee WIlliams. He looked for some Bovril. He put on Motörhead . He read 'Iron John' by Robert Bly. At least the opening five pages, He had a good long bath. A flat, then. He thought he lived in a house in Bingley with his mother, father. He thought brother Stanley lived with gangsters in Liverpool. Pretty Rex phoned from the gallery.

 'Do you have it in for Bobby Charlton, Harrison?'

 'Not exactly. Call me Greg. I liked that painting of Bobby Charlton, in fact. Isn't Bob wearing white trainers? I loved it. New ideas for your gallery. 'Rainbow by Tel Ford.' Bungle from Rainbow is playing a song by Rainbow. Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore. So you have man dressed as Bungle playing a Fender Stratocaster in the art gallery. Can we think of a number? Smoke on the Water was by Deep Purple. Stargazer, Pretty Rex. Rainbow number. Wasn't it Ronnie James Dio on vocals?'

He put all the potatoes in sack for potatoes. Wrong. He removed all the potatoes from his sack of potatoes. He put a whole heck of tomatoes in the sack once holding potatoes. He placed the sack with the tomatoes right where he bought the sack when he bought the sack containing potatoes. He'd question Rick. He'd photograph Rick's response. Expanded photo in gallery.

 'Are you sure this sack contains potatoes, Rick? I don't think it does.'

 'What are you talking about? Are you mad? I'll rip the sack apart with a Stanley knife.'

 My brother's name is Stanley.'

 Snap. Rick received the congratulations. He made sure Greg removed the snap. His face when the tomatoes rolled was something to see. Greg removed the snap. It was gone- like Marc Bolan, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Kelly Groucutt- forever. Greg had to come up with something else for the art gallery down in Greenwich. It was madness. The first two attempts had exhausted the skinny man from Bradford. The hair and the butter, the snap of Rick with alarm on his Welsh face. Rick Griffiths, you are cornered. Shame. Really was a shame. Rick was the character receiving the congratulations! Typical.

'Oh,' said Greg. 'Thought I was allowed to say Yeats was a better writer than Pinter.'

 'English departments are very influential,' said Sheila. 'I could report you. This is why you are so stupid from time to time. Rick Griffiths is a busy man there with all the fruit and vegetables piled up. You don't just photograph people, fool. Saying Pinter is better- following the guidance of qualified experts in sanctioned English departments- helps you not behave foolishly. Disciplined Greg.'

He had to be disciplined. Did the average chap in the street know English departments? It all seemed so silly. It was a savage dream. Slave was receiving whips. Man had defied his own government. Obvious. French flags were high in the sky. Clearly a time of revolution. Greg came to. He thought that he had an idea in his head. Was there anything decent in the fridge? He could cut his hair. He was probably not allowed the barber. Twenty-nine was absolutely ancient. It was horrible. Ancient imagery was in that dream. The idea. Work with the phrase 'flag of convenience.' Make the flag of convenience. Display the manufactured flag in a gallery, the people there with white wine. He had a black castle in the middle. Didn't he do this sort of thing with a girl when he was younger? This was to be Harrison's flag of convenience. Should he telephone Pretty Rex? He had a second idea. It seemed clear that he absolutely despised modern art. All art, perhaps. He would have a toilet cubicle in an art gallery. Everything olive green. You approach the cubicle. You open the door. There on a white toilet with a black seat Greg's flag of convenience as if Oxonian fop with grapes and cigarette draped. Hail! Hail! Artistic Tel Ford. American, Warhol was. Felt tip pens are makers of mess. All that black for castle. Greg wiped the black from his thin fingers. Journey on. Don't Stop Believin'. Pretty Rex was perhaps too busy to listen to talk of toilets with draped flags. Where was Greenwich in Art's High Stratosphere? Anyway. Our hero packed the flag between towels in his cupboard, The one containing the boiler. Boiler. You need the warmth when Sister Winter's kicking in. You need every red cent and true smile you can get. You need Life in the dark as Dreams by Fleetwood Mac comes on. Why didn't the UK join up? Same notes they use in Germany, France, Italy. Greg was looking at some ASMR video. Charming woman from New Zealand- absolutely as charming as a bird- explaining with her little pointer Australian money. It stood for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. He wanted to get into it. He wanted to change his mind from one thing to another thing. Pretty Rex probably did not mean it. He probably did not take art seriously in anyway whatsoever. He researched the money of South Africa. Harvest Moon. He quite liked the version by Jessie Ware. Did like. Why did Kevin Keegan do that? 'The Big Match.' Kev dressing up like Elton John with massive spectacles. Elton was just a human being. The Stones came up. Was YouTube running his life. Waiting On A Friend. He wanted to do that. Elton at the Dodgers' stadium back in the seventies. John sliding across the piano. Swinging a baseball bat for those sweet Californians. Or did he just mime a bat? 

'Max, I saw you talking to that woman before that exhibition. She was... posh. You understand this, my man? There are rules, Max.'

The Killing Moon.

'You smell, Max.'

Bingo. White lies not so dangerous anymore. Maxwell was to understand something. Maxwell was to stop talking to the woman behind that exhibition there in Bradford. She was posh. The smelly person was not to insult the woman's nostrils. He was not to be beyond the boundaries. Miss You. He wondered if could play bingo anymore. Where did that word come from? Bingo.

 'She hasn't exhibited the brothers here, Max. You should see a doctor if you smell that much. Just buy about a dozen sprays. Try all the makes out. Get spraying. You might even get into a concert.'

Pretty Rex on his mobile. Greg imagined the mobile Pretty Rex was using. The colour of the mobile Pretty Rex was using. 

'I think I like your third idea the best,' said Pretty Rex.

'Four doors side by side. Back Door Man by The Doors through the speakers.'

 It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It). Greg liked the reference to pork and beans. He cooked some pork and beans. There were a few slithers of pork in the fridge. The plate containing the slithers was purchased in Cornwall. Pretty Rex was too confused. Greg decided to abandon art, To let it go. Brentford fans approached Greg. He thought they were hostile. Roadhouse Blues. Greg was back at home. He was looking at a book he was given when he first occupied the flat. KJV Bible. Some book. He liked Jeremiah. Some image by- probably Bansky- on the screen. He reflected. He concluded that the Brentord fans were being friendly. Friendly. Harrison concluded that the Brentford fans were out to thank Greg for knowing their team did so well against Arsenal. It was all that stress. Burn by Deep Purple. Harrison did not remember he had once interviewed Ian Gillan. Greg Harrison slept.

August 20, 2021 09:28

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1 comment

Sylvia Luna
16:13 Aug 27, 2021

Wow! This was either completely above me as I know little about baseball or many of the people referenced. I do know about 70s music and enjoyed seeing familiar names and songs. For me, the story was hard to follow, it could be for the reasons stated above. It did flow smoothly, though I didn’t know where it was going, the ride was enjoyable. Good luck on your next writing adventure :)

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