Thursday, 24 December 2009

SHOT NO 31, by Anthony Sides

November disappearing - the houses silhouettes of themselves. The trees against the faded fields. Flowers red yellow blue in the park - the careful staggering of bright flowers for all seasons - a Mandelson for all seasons. Here, though, the air is as warm as your thighs. Walking down towards the edge of the sea pretending not to hold my belly in, the wind blowing your hair enough to the side to touch my shoulder. The sea dotted and dashed by the trunks of the palms, green waves higher than the beach, slopping thud, and we turn and smile at each other and I'm pleased to be thoughtless.

Monday, 21 September 2009



"I'm going to go and unfurl," is how a former friend of mine used to excuse himself to go to the toilet.

After a north American unfurling episode, the friend was grateful to Norman Mailer.
On holiday in, I think, Toronto, the friend unfurled in a car park behind a bar and was seen by a Canadian police woman. She beckoned him over - or, at least, he sensed that she wanted him to go over to her - so he furled and walked from his stain to where she was standing.
She was stern and disgusted. "We don't do that in public over here," she said.
The friend was horrified. She let him off with a warning, but he was horrified for months after. He felt he'd disgraced himself and the image of the English abroad.
This shame and distress lasted from summer until November. Though he had no interest in Normie Mailer, as he called him, he came with me to a book launch for Harlot's Ghost.
Mailer talked about the inaccuracy of his reputation. He said - especially when he was 1st famous in NY for Naked and the Dead - he could not, for instance, walk home from a party and stop to urinate between 2 parked cars without it being written about in a newspaper as if it were especially horrible of him.
"My God," he said, "what man here has not urinated between 2 parked cars on his way home from a party or a bar?"
My friend instantly felt better. He had believed he was a bad person and the incident had started to trouble his sleep. Norman Mailer made him feel he was human and OK and he was reeling with relief.

Friday, 28 August 2009



People are innocent until proven guilty, though I know that's an unpopular idea these days, so I can't say that Phillip Garrido committed the crimes he's been charged with relating to the abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991. If true, though, the details of this story are interesting.

If the allegations are correct, Ms Dugard and 2 children fathered by Mr Garrido would have been kept hidden for the practical reason that Mr Garrido's parole disallowed him contact with young children.

As with Hans Fritzl in Austria, it would also have been psychologically useful to Mr Garrido and his conscience that what he did wrong - if he did do anything wrong - was kept separate and hidden from his "real" life.

We teach right and wrong to children through punishment and often anger and violence. A good child is not a moral child, it is a quiet, obedient child.

Children quickly learn that, existentially, not getting caught is the same as being good. Get caught and you get punished: behave as you've been told and you are considered good; behave badly and get away with it and you, too, are considered to be good.

This leads us to believe that the misdemeanours, crimes and sins we commit don't count unless we get caught.

Sexually abuse a child in a secret place and then go back in the main house and wash your hands and no one knows: therefore you can feel you've done nothing wrong.


It is better to teach right and wrong as a personal responsibility. Making it entirely external takes morality away from the individual.

When you wonder what you can get away with and what the punishment will be if you get caught and how likely it is you will get caught or suspected and what to say if you are, life gets stressful and complicated, and your personality divides and shifts more than usual.

If you decide to care about right and wrong, life is simpler. You decide what the right behaviour is and behave that way. Your life is then easier to conduct, and your good conduct makes you feel better even if no one notices. Beyond that, and less important, others learn to trust and value you, so the external influences in your life tend to get better, too.

There are inherent instincts for cruelty and aggression in us. Sometimes we need them to defend ourselves or those we care about.

Sometimes, though, we express them because the hard wiring of our brains is not all that well planned out. (Eg The part of the brain that appears to be active during sexual arousal is close to the amygdla, which processes negative emotions, and adjacent parts of the brain tend to activate each other.) (See Who Are You?: 101 Ways of Seeing Yourself by Malcolm Godwin; and Rita Carter's Mapping the Mind).

So, as Lou Reed sings, "You can depend on cruelty", and on "crudity of thought and sound".

None the less, if we teach children and ourselves that right and wrong make life better for them as well as every one around them, then life will become better for our children and us and every one around us.

Monday, 24 August 2009

EX 8

Write a piece of prose or verse based on this list - not from the words but from the pictures and ideas that come in to your mind when you read the words.

  • Manipulation

  • Serial killer

  • Satire

  • John F. Kennedy

  • The Vietnam War

  • Shadows under the trees

  • After the rain

  • The gym

  • Cheerleaders

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Dave Puller's PEACE, LOVE AND WAR: Blurb

You can discover serious, poignant and playful poems in this new collection from Dave Puller. You’ll love reading and re-reading Dave’s deceptively simple lines about love, peace and war (and a little bit about Wythenshawe).

· You’ll find tender, cynical poems about new love and love gone sour - and love that’s bitter/sweet with might-have-beens.

· You’ll enjoy angry and/or funny pieces about politics, class and consumerism – and heartbreakingly happy memories of a lost loved one.

· Politics – and anger – continue in the compassionate and satirical section about the whys, hows and horrors of war for oil and corporate gain.

· The final poems introduce you to Dave’s precious Wythenshawe, and the values and injustices of a childhood in a “lower-working-class” community.

The Manchester Evening News called Dave a “poet, promoter and all-round nice guy” – while a fan on MySpace praises his “poetic, political and comedic genius”.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Dave Puller

I recently read a proof copy of Dave Puller's new book, a poetry collection called Peace, Love and War which you can get soon. It has the directness, humour, politics and emotion you find in Dave's writing, and I sat down and read it through.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

SHOT NO 30, by Anthony Sides

"This is where I've been spending my money on - on him - and it didn't do any good. He turned out a good cat. The vet said that he was an old gentleman. I've still got Lucy. I'm not putting her through what I've put him through."

This quiet slow small life I've made - recovering - supposedly - or like these aged people in cafe.

Hopes of you in leaf-shadow under froths of blossom and forsythia, and cool shadow under dark trees growing in damp soil - romping again - more energy and volume and I love your loveliness and you owe me nothing - I am glad to be there with you as much as I can be - spring is for you, equinox girl. OK, maybe I'll say it 1st. Maybe.

The vast spaghetti plantations in the Po valley the sun making thin straight stripes of shadow.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

SHOT NO 29, by Anthony Sides

When I sleep I dream my bridges slowly burning; I wake up tireder, tied with limitations that I'm learning: last exit to Castlefield; last Big Issue vendor for 25 yards; last kiss of your lips.

Friday, 20 March 2009


Annie Clarkson, who is interesting on the page and in person, has written a review of 1 story from
Espresso Shots. You can read her review by clicking on Annie in the Followers box low in my left margin and, at her blog, searching for "short shorts" and reading down to her Feb 14 piece short short heaven.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

SHOT NO 28, by Anthony Sides

You make yourself ill with the poisons they sell, the poisons they tell you will make you feel well. All the small cruel things that you wish you hadn't done, all the spin the bottle chances that you wish you hadn't spun - all the rooms you've cried in.

You think the whole world's made of sugar, or is it just a bitter pill?

Kissing sissies in the corridors - of your mother's mind, and if you looked for your real feelings what failings would you find? All the lies you've underlined.

Now your hair at the back is pink and thinned and you hide your collar bone from the wind and your school made you feel uptight. Rain rains rainy on the dusty glass and you wonder how many things can last and will any one last with you.

Old, lonely people talking in circles to stop silences; and every song is like Sunday.

All the small cruel things that we wish we hadn't done. All the spin-the-bottle chances that we wish we hadn't spun. All the rooms we've cried in.

SHOT NO 27, by Anthony Sides

Is the woman in the window 1 of us? A soft rain - not like this - misting catching the afternoon street lights as winter pm starts shadowily. Coffee shops and walks by water and kisses, tenderness and laughing. Linger on, your pale blue eyes. Quiet, almost out-of-tune guitar starts, and the flat vocals. Dots of rain in your hair. A cat in the corner. Pure window dressing. I know things about people, Lilly. Punch punch punch - jabs and shiny gloves and roundhouses and rights and sweat flying in the gym.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

SHOT NO 26, by Anthony Sides

So I'm lost in the Arndale, with no wings and no prayer, screwed up by wishes that weren't really there - and if you stop lying about me, I'll stop telling the truth about you - and sometimes it's better to be unconscious than miserable - and I wish I was unconscious. Sometimes I wish I was a puppet, and things couldn't hurt me; other times - I just wish I was a human being.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Intro to Shot No 25

I wrote this in 1991 when I was selfish enough to steal from Ted Lewis's Jack's Return Home, which starts "The rain rained." The pleasantly endless, slow passing of time is from The Great Gatsby, though I got it via Stanley Booth.

SHOT NO 25, by Anthony Sides

Tinfoil sunlight, and a few scraps of rain smudge the dusty windows.

Take your shoes off, and lie back on the bed. Let the ceiling let you hypnotize yourself. Let the underwater ceiling let you hypnotize yourself.

Rain rains, rainily, against the dusty windows. It's one of those long, endless, unwinding Friday summer evenings, when the 1/2 an hours unspool, all laid-back and mellow, like a tape of Dire Straits switched to CONTINUOUS PLAY. Continuous play.

And the tree tops and the sunlight roll together in the rain, like green waves and gold, and the twisted, pale-sided leaves ripple and swirl.

You sit in your room and I sit in mine, separated by miles and miles of time; and you don't think about me, though I think about you; and you don't want to go out with me, though I'd almost marry you.

Monday, 26 January 2009

SHOT NO 24, by Anthony Sides

The Lancashire cat grins. Just a grin against an orange stucco wall. Is that how you remember me?

There's hot Sister Moon and the smell of vampires' breath. Trees black, grass blue in the silver.

A day's journey of baguettes, wine, sun burn, brioche. Sand and tantrums, Nivea and brie.

Cuckoos counting the clockless uncoiling of the afternoon's boiling to 11 o'clock dusk.

The sun shouts in your eyes.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

SHOT NO 23, by Anthony Sides

Rusty stutter North Dakota rusted rails train-hit suicides empty prairie colourless grass ghost towns whose reasons for living are not known the whish of the wind Bismarck the wind can drive you crazy sing song rhythms of Texas, here playing the sheriff the whish, whish, whish-sh of the wind twisting the scratchy branches of small trees banging doors you've not latched cold wind with grit in it twisted stretches of barb wire metally glint of pale sun brighter grey through grey sky glint of broken beer bottle glass and aluminum can horse head tossing in endless wind

car slowly slowing in an arc in the yard gravel crunch pop under tires - winter sun wan bounces like pewter coin spun off windshield - thin smoke blown flat from the chimney - the door was open and the light was off and dust blew in the house and the door bumped, bumped in the wind bump, bump -

the prairie and the sky and the endlessness and the wind washing the landscape like sea on a shore sh-ing and eroding - people who say things to you when you're listening on the phone - tall winter wire brush trees


You'll see changes in Espresso Shots soon - new pieces will appear regularly and frequently and some old pieces will disappear - so now is the best time for you to take a good, relaxed look at the site and enjoy some of the earlier poems and stories while you can.

You'll know the revamp is finished when some of the colours and maybe the basic design of the site change. You can continue sending your writing to the site and making comments on what you read here.