Winston claimed that the bar served ‘first rate’ coffee, even though the ambience was ‘infernal’ and the customers were insufferable millennial capitalists.
‘I don’t come here just for the coffee and the free newspapers,’ he said. ‘I’m studying Alina for my private project.
‘The girl who took our order,’ he said, his moist eyes indicating a generic pony tail swinging towards a waiting table of cheek-sucking, beard-faced clones.
‘Does she know that you’re studying her?’ I asked.
‘That would defeat the purpose,’ he said earnestly. ‘We must observe and study people carefully if we’re to understand them. We must study them three hundred and sixty degrees. We have to be there to catch any accidental leaks. We must study them without prejudice, without hesitation and without being noticed.’
While Winston’s intentions were intense and secretive, they were also characteristic of the idiosyncrasies he had picked up in recent years.
‘We are entertained and revolted by people because they pose and dance for the public’s gaze,’ said Winston. ‘We see it everywhere at any public event we attempt to stomach. We see it in the streets and at local gatherings. We cringe at the televised sporting events whenever a camera is all but bashed into someone’s face. Everyone becomes distorted, the observers and the observed. We don’t know how to act so we reflect our gurning idiocy back at the lens or we sink into embarrassment. In private, when we aren’t aware, we become interesting,’ said Winston. ‘Mostly people horrify us. For all I know Alina could be a fascist.’
‘Don’t most people project a different version of themselves in public and online?’ I said, immediately disgusted with my banal observation. It was pedestrian, almost as humiliating as saying ‘Well that’s your opinion.’ I scolded myself for days afterwards, for uttering such stupidity.
‘People are unnatural and predictable,’ said Winston, in a tone of utter weariness. ‘It’s important we try not to judge people during our observations. When we judge them, not only are we distorting them but we’re distorting ourselves. The problem is we can never study them in their natural habitat because there is no natural habitat. Of course I’m studying Alina in Italian. If I were to study her in an English context I’d have to apply completely different principles.’
‘It’s a social experiment then?’
‘We’re all somebody’s social experiment,’ said Winston, as if he were offended, until I realised that he was flinching at a pop video which sounded as if it had been imported from Brazil, auto-tuned and injured by the Americans before being pimped and piped all over European teens. It was impossible to go anywhere without exposure to this sonic virus, I reflected. All over the world teenagers are the main carriers of this virus, ambling through cities and estates with this hazardous substance, farting out of their backpacks, leaving a noxious trail of sickness behind.

We’ve become archaic, Winston and I. Our words are archaic and our bitterness is expressed archaically. We used to be modern and vibrant but we’re embittered and archaic. For a while neither Winston nor I said anything. He stared listlessly at the table while I attempted to study Alina, as she brought our drinks over. The moment my gaze fell on her I had already debased her in the shortest time. I debased both of us. We debase people when we have any dealings with them, I thought. We debase ourselves when we crave attention and we debase others when we give them our attention. We are debased when they think of us and we debase others the moment we think of them. We live in a debased world. I averted my gaze and studied Winston, who was still studying the table.

He went to pot in this European city, did Winston, I reflected, like I went to pot in my city, because I never escaped it at the right moment. I strongly believe we should act on our instinct to escape a place at the precise moment or we’re ruined for the rest of our lives, I thought. If we have the possibility we should leave a place every four years, no later. This is evidenced by Winston and I. We became demented and poisoned because we never acted on our instincts to leave at the precise moment. Winston believed he had escaped when he came to this city but he stayed too long and went to pot, as evidence by his character, which no longer bears any resemblance to the endearing, effervescent personality I used to know. We used to be modern and vibrant but we’ve become archaic and fatigued. Others swan from one paradise to the next. Wherever they glide it’s calm, safe and quite pleasurable. Every condition is the right condition for those people, I thought. They have no sense of danger or foreboding. They swan into a new circle of friends, where they’re accepted by other swans. They swan into a rewarding job and they swan into mutually fulfilling relationships. They swan in and out, I thought, repeating ‘swan in and out’ several times under my breath. People like us, I thought, glancing at Winston, are instinctive failures. Our instincts have failed us because we never acted on them at the precise moment, in every situation. This failure has distorted our ability to swan out of danger and swan into paradise, I thought.

‘You know, I’d quite like to see Logan Paul beheaded,’ Winston said suddenly. ‘I’d like to see him in one of those orange boiler suits in an arid landscape, whimpering and pissing himself as he begs for his life, while a masked figure holding a machete stands over him, and for it not to be a prank. I’d like to see the blade glint and the sand stain with shit and blood.’
I chewed a piece of brioche and listened intently, as I was often compelled to whenever Winston spoke.
‘I don’t recognise these narcissistic characters whose weight and creativity we’re constantly forced to acknowledge. I just see a dead person,’ he shrugged. ‘We only have to study the things around us to have this clarified. We only have to analyse the objects around us, these dead objects we give life and meaning; that are simultaneously absent and present. Wherever we go, wherever we look, we are forced to bear witness to this rotting, mangled production line. We’re all part of this bizarre, manufactured, manipulated and mangled carnival. We can’t fail to be disturbed by this mangled, squirming jumble sale we call evolution; nothing more than used clothes and discarded masks we’re always feverishly rummaging through.’

He swallowed some coffee and was about to expand on this burgeoning theory when something interesting and inexplicable happened. The music channel streamed or I should say, spilt, the video to ‘Better the Devil You Know’ by Kylie Minogue. I’d never cared much for her. Winston shifted his doleful gaze from the table to the screen. All of a sudden his expression was one of unmistakable rapture. It felt inappropriate to interrupt his viewing pleasure so I studied him, studying the posturing Kylie, as keenly as he must have been studying Alina for his private project. Finally when the song finished Winston sighed and declared; ‘Kylie is beyond anything that you, I or anyone can ever understand.’
I wanted to laugh but I couldn’t see a trace of irony on his face.
‘It’s her fans, critics and pop culture as a whole that have corrupted her. She’s completely beyond everyone,’ he added, as if there could be no further discussion. ‘She’s beyond what we think we understand about anything. She’s so much more than what we reduced her to. So much more than this kitsch pop icon.’
Winston’s lip curled as he tried to pin down when he realised Kylie had advanced. ‘Was it Better the Devil You Know, the Impossible Princess album, Spinning Around, that kitsch duet she did with Nick Cave or Confide in Me? I think it was Confide in Me. Everyone noticed it.’
It was difficult to swallow my brioche. Maybe my saliva glands were acting up again. I took another sip of coffee while he spoke about Kylie as if she were Schopenhauer or Glenn Gould.
‘By rights,’ said Winston, ‘…she should have died,’ he violently asserted. ‘If she had died the whole world would have collectively woken up to this enigma.’
‘Preposterous,’ I said, pompously. It was a habit I had picked up from Winston. ‘She’s vacuous. Her life is vacuous. Her lovers are ridiculous. Her songs are vacuous. Her concerts are ridiculous. And for the most part, the vacuous and the ridiculous have taken over the world,’ I said. ‘Her concerts aren’t attended by fans but gate-crashed by hen parties. She’s a season in Vegas for the mobility scooter riders.’
‘She’s beyond words,’ said Winston, regretfully trying to pacify me. ‘We all speak and hear the same words but only Kylie interprets these words in a way that gives them more gravitas than we ever imagined.’
‘She communicates with her hot pants,’ I laughed, reducing myself to low-level smut. ‘She’s just a brand.’
‘We’re all brands,’ said Winston. ‘I’ve tried to put her out of my mind but she keeps sneaking back. She’s trying to tell us something, I’m certain. We must revaluate how we listen to her.’
‘Why are we talking about Kylie? I detest this fashion for placing commercial brands on some kind of plinth of importance and relevance, so we can say ‘A-ha! Fooled you. Aren’t I cool?’ People worship moving bags of guts! It’s so contrarian. It smacks of submission of the lowest form,’ I said. ‘Kylie sways her fishnet thighs and we’re all okay? It’s like Kafka never happened. Like Kafka never happened!’

Such capitulation represented something I’ve always hated about modern society: The ‘everything’s okay’ mentality. Instead of aspiring to be more we’ve settled for less. We tolerate the shoddy and dishonest, I thought. We’re ashamed of having brains. There was a time when Channel Four would think nothing of screening a season of Tarkovsky films. Nowadays people scramble to binge watch two dimensional dull wits telling us how to clean our homes, raise our kids and bake fucking cakes. We’ve become sleep walking pyjama people, fortified inside our own stinking duvets. Everyone we meet has swallowed this ‘everything is okay’ attitude. Everything is fine. Everything is fun. Everything is acceptable. Keep calm. Don’t rock the boat, baby. Don’t make Daddy cross. Every banality we’re forced to consume is an admission that the status quo is acceptable and that there is no alternative. I want my imagination to be challenged, not anesthetised, I thought. This, this…flat experience is in everything we feel and taste, and its aftertaste is bitter. We’re all complicit in subscribing to this culturally insolvent no man’s land. It’s no wonder most of us with a shred of honesty and self-awareness feel revulsion at this cultural molestation and disgust at our fellow enablers, I thought, uncertain of what it was I was really angry about. I shouldn’t discourage harmless enthusiasm just because I’m bereft of gratification, I conceded.
‘If you can’t or won’t let anyone or anything into your heart again, at least let it be Kylie,’ said Winston blankly. ‘Promise me. You still have a chance.’
‘You’re infatuated,’ I said. ‘It was always a failing of yours. Every infatuation destroyed you. That’s the truth. You came to this city infatuated, you swanned around infatuated by the sights and when the novelty wore off, you sank. These infatuations depleted your imagination and immune system. You had so much potential. Now look at you. Washed ashore.’

Winston made no reply. We paid the bill and parted outside the coffee shop. I watched his black overcoat fade into the European dusk.
A couple of weeks later, I must have wondered into the shopping centre by mistake where I happened to catch Kylie Minogue’s ‘On a Night Like This’ flowing into the sedate atmosphere. For a few minutes, at least until I caught my leaking frown in the window of Swarovski, I felt that I had potential. I remembered those butterflies-in-the-stomach days, where I’d look ahead to the near future, convinced that the stars were aligning and all would be well. Kylie’s voice had triggered an existence into another universe; an existence where everything was as it should have been. Of all people! Kylie actually triggered me!

For days I couldn’t shake off these notions. If anything, they intensified. I searched and scrolled through her videos, and buried myself under her earth. I vanished into Kylie. I understood what Winston had been trying to tell me. The words did mean something. ‘I’m the one, love me, love me,’ went one track. In another she besieged the listener to ‘Come into My World.’ As much as I tried to dismiss her with reason and cold logic, I couldn’t. The words meant something more because of Kylie’s interpretation. For years she’s been telling us to ‘Confide in Me’, I thought. She knows we know, I thought, as I listened to ‘On a Night Like This’ about a hundred times one afternoon, feeling the shiver from the line, ‘feels like I’ve always known you.’ Under the playful gaze of her poster ‘Turn it into Love’ pleaded ‘if you have faith in me/I’ll believe in you.’ She distinctly explained that if I could look inside my heart and understand what’s tearing me apart, I had to trust someone and not let ‘hate get in the way.’ I never used to care for renaissance art until I studied the palatial, baroque pop of the album track, ‘Closer’ while ‘Your Disco Needs You’ had ceased to be this kitsch anthem but to me, in my growing, nail-biting, teeth-scrubbing agitation, a recruitment anthem to Kylie’s mysterious religion. I felt coveted and converted. But lost. So lost. Listening to ‘Get Outta My Way’, I wept for all those lost warm evenings in June that belonged to my youth. ‘It will never be better. It will never be the same,’ I howled one afternoon. Listening to memories. It doesn’t matter what triggers us, I thought as I wallowed and cowered inside the creeping shadows.

‘Kylie’s words are our words,’ I rationalised in my apartment, trusting that I wasn’t being observed and studied. I had to trust somebody. People tell us what we can and can’t say but we can obviously say anything, even if it’s the most obscene admission we daren’t whisper to ourselves in the dark, I thought, studying every imperfection on my body in the mirror. For days, maybe weeks, because I lost track of time, I couldn’t tell if my thoughts were coherent or incoherent, if I said them last week or was about to say something soon, maybe five minutes from now. Kylie is beyond my understanding, more than the universe is beyond the understanding of eminent physicists, I probably mentioned to the scowling teenager next door. I felt weightless. I considered the possibility that Kylie was …I had to speak to Winston. Share this epiphany with him. Kylie believes in us, I laughed. Even flies and plankton. ‘I believe in you,’ she said. Am I laughing or is my laughter a memory? I thought, as I paced, paused and paced again. I have to, I thought, but I could have been saying it aloud, ‘…call Winston.’ Kylie wouldn’t stop asking: ‘what do I have to do to get the message through?’ This was beyond coincidence, I told the ghostly disciples in an Ikea living room. I couldn’t get her out of my head. Kylie had been fucking telling us for eons that she ‘can’t ask for more’, through all the vessels of the prophets and philosophers. If Wittgenstein claimed that ‘language’ was our limit had Kylie not merely reclaimed that our limit was more than sufficient? Hadn’t language become distorted and debased by fruitless philosophising? What more could we be asking for?

The words have always been there, they were there long before we formed them. They mean what we want them to mean. We put faith in words to confide, confess, persuade, educate and elucidate. We can’t trust words if the vessel that transmits them are impaired. We have faith in their capacity to damage and renew us. There may not be gods and devils but the words ‘god’ and ‘devil’ are just as sufficient to have the significant or indifferent effect we need them to have but there are also actual murderers, as well as the word ‘murderer’ ha ha. We form the words with the movements of our jaw and they begin to feel real, I thought, writhing on the undusted kitchen floor, but even our most discreet and tentative movements can distort the environment. The movements we make to pour tea for two can be replicated to dispense dangerous substances to millions. Everything we believe is an act of faith. We believe in absence and presence. We believe in weight and weightlessness, I thought.

These ideas, prompted by Kylie, pave over the absence Winston created ever since they told me he hanged himself.


Extracted from EXHAUSTION (work in progress)



Writing fills the void between working, sleeping and doing the daily/weekly things that must be done. Writing takes my mind off my mind. Everything else is an interruption. It’s that blunt. If it were possible I wouldn’t sleep, eat and go to work. When I’m alone, creating fake worlds and fake characters, I don’t have to keep up appearances. I’m not complaining. Goes with the territory.

As is the tendency in those with creative impulses you’re constantly thinking, planning and working on several future projects. Everything creative you did in the past starts to feel, not inferior necessarily, but inaccurate. You’re convinced that your current work is an accurate representation of everything you ever were and will be. That still holds true to some extent, even if in practice it’s a little disingenuous.

It won’t make a difference to 99.9% of people/followers that in 2007 I put my slim novel Replika online. Without time, sufficient marketing and publicity it was left to gather digital dust and indifference. During some respite last summer I took Replika offline, with the intention of updating the cover, writing a new blurb and making a few tweaks.
A few tweaks turned into a new edit, rewrites and some extensions, but nothing that changes the central themes, characters and plot. I corrected typos, polished some clunky sentences and explored a few niches. The finished product is more of (and I hate this term) a reboot. This version feels fresh and facetious. Better than the original in my view. It still remains a frisky, frivolous, batshit novel about memory, time, perception and identity. It still pokes and pricks the perversity of pop culture, as it must. You’ll also notice that the book is now called Replikat. This occurred not because there were copyright/contractual issues to fulfill (there weren’t in case you were wondering) but because… (Well it’s in the book)

Fun is one of those adjectives I’ve rarely used in recent years to describe any activity I’ve been involved in but I managed to apply it when writing the new scenes and chapters for the book. I didn’t allow my imagination to be stifled. The novel also contains the term roisterers and features the Canadian actress from 90s kid show, Spatz.

You may encounter feelings of loneliness and disorientation. (11)

Bit of trivia. In 2005 I submitted a very early draft of Replika to a publisher. A few weeks later I was surprised to find that the publisher left me a message asking me to call him back. When I eventually reached him I listened to a glowing review about how it made him laugh, etc. ‘I can’t publish it though,’ he said. ‘Here we go,’ I thought. It’ll be the standard ‘Due to the high volume of manuscripts…’ rejection motherfuckery and I’ll vow to give it all up again. Not this time. Turned out that they published erotica. The publisher suggested that I should write a blog. Funnily enough the book featured the first appearance of a young Smirnov Kool before the ego took on a life of its own in the ‘blogsphere’. This information, I’m certain, won’t mean anything to more than a dozen or so friends/followers.

You may encounter feelings of loneliness and disorientation. (12)
I hope you enjoy Replikat. If you want to try before you buy I’ll be posting some selected extracts/quotes on here or some other inane network in the coming days/weeks. Give it a go. It was fun. I think you’ll like it. If you prefer something darker and metaphysical, my collection of short stories Annihilation is available. In the meantime I’m working on several more projects.

REPLIKAT is now available
ANNIHILATION is available

My space is taken up with: noise, shapes, ideas, voices, objects, information, air. So I edit. Then restore. Then add. Then delete. I upgrade. I degrade. I leave alone for a while. I wait. I go back…there’s still too much. No matter what I remove. I can’t release enough space. I can’t reveal anything. I try to change perspective. I move around the space and observe it from different angles. I change my mind and perception. I listen to the space. Nothing comes through. I give up. I start again. I change my clothes. I move to a different space but everything that I left behind remains with me. I change my voice but I say the same things. I recalculate. I evaluate. I give the new space a new lick of paint. I move in and move out. I observe. Perhaps a new light would offer my new space something fresh. Perhaps there’s too much light. Whatever I do, whatever I want to alter, I always return to the same point. What I could do without, I miss. Whatever obstacle I remove reveals a new obstacle. I believe that there’s nothing but obstacles; invisible forces. If my space was free of obstacles I’d have the obstacle of my body and mind. If I remove my body and mind I would leave behind the obstacle of my absence for someone else to remove from their space. Perhaps I could edit my circle of friends and replace them with a new circle of friends. I should listen to new voices, look at new faces. There are too many variables. I can’t get over these obstacles. I’ll never get over the obstacles that fill my existence. I’m constantly editing and re-evaluating but the new obstacles I have to get over replace the old obstacles I thought I eradicated. I could change my clothes or go about with no clothes. I could replace every obstacle with attractive obstacles. I could lose weight off my body but my mind only seems to retain more and more weight. Whatever obstacle I move is replaced with another one. Whatever obstacle someone removes, someone else replaces. Everything that I want to change is replaced by more objects and situations I want to change. No matter what I’m unable to do. No matter what I refuse to do. My space is cluttered by obstacles that obscure my goals. No obstacle, no desire or pain is sufficient. The choices aren’t sufficient. The climate isn’t sufficient. The era isn’t sufficient. Try as I might it’s not enough. It’s never been enough, therefore it won’t be enough. How am I supposed to create the perfect space and the perfect companion for this perfect space if it’s technically impossible to reshape my own space? How can I create the perfect story if what I add or remove, is hindered by insufficient language and information? I can try to change my tastes. Perhaps a certain sound from certain source could affect my environment. Perhaps a certain fragrance could affect my perception in a way that renders my environment more appealing. Maybe the secret is not removing everything but searching for the right combination and hoping the way that they interact with other subjects and objects provides a particular symmetry that can satisfy the space I long for. That could be possible if time itself weren’t an obstacle. Could my room by wider? What if I walked everywhere instead of using my car? Who would I meet, where would my eyes roam if I wasn’t expected to concentrate? What form of communication, in what language and combination could I express, to affect the spaces and minds of those who I sometimes meet and experience? My space is always obscured by the objects, experiences and situations others have placed in my path. There has to be a way, a correct combination, a code, a sensation, an act I can express that can create the perfect space. It must exist if the desire exists; even if I can’t identify what it is, let alone what my goal is. I once heard myself in a dream say ‘Just because there are words doesn’t mean that words are true.’ It’s a thought that keeps me awake. That thought alone is an obstacle. I think sometimes, what am I missing? Maybe I lost everything in my life because I couldn’t find a sufficient variable to create the perfect construction. Have I edited myself too much? Did I remove the important content that could have actually provided me with the perfect space to exist? I had a story to tell. I experienced a story but I probably edited the heart out of it. I edited the feeling. Only disconnected moments and fleeting images remain. What am I supposed to do? The more I hack away at everything, my past for example, the more vines, reeds, foliage obscure my path. I chip and peel and chop but the obstruction grows, entwines and creeps. I don’t even know where the path is supposed to go. I’m constantly trying to cut and edit a space where I can see its direction…a way out…but it’s already behind me. Behind is the mess and decay. I had dreams and I hacked at them. Hacked them all away. Hacked every obstruction. I couldn’t reassemble them now if I wanted to. I can mask the injuries. I mask the memories. I place an obstacle in front of another one. I must beat a path to my end. Remove every obstruction. Remove time. Remove every new growth. Remove the very root of every idea. Hack it away. Reveal the light. Restore myself. Use my decreasing strength to hack away every pleasure and pain. Get to the end. So I can convince myself that I did my best. I can’t turn around to look at the mess I left behind. Only then might I have a space suitable enough to live in and story worthy enough to share.

I will fix everything. I will repair everything that is broken. I will repair the world. I’ll attempt to write something that will transform everyone’s perception so much so that they will no longer be able to see the world the same way again. If I’m successful it will be unthinkable to see our lives the same way again. I’ll transform every relationship, so that it will be unthinkable and impossible to see the world in the same light again. It must be my only goal since everything in the world is completely incapacitated beyond repair. I’ll attempt to write something that will render holy books more ridiculous than they are already. I’ll attempt to record the world the only way I know how. I’m doomed to fail though because the world is beyond repair. I’ll attempt to fix everything that we’ve directly and indirectly broken. I must explore, with clarity, what needs to be fixed and how it should be fixed, with absolute precision. I cannot leave this existence without attempting to explore every avenue from all possible angles. I must go further than any one individual has gone before, even if it takes most of my life; even if the life I have allocated to my attempt is not ENOUGH and the planned repairs remain unfinished. Before I can even attempt this major restoration I must define what it is that we’ve collectively broken. Whatever it is, we must have failed. Every previous attempt must have collapsed. So I will attempt to create something that renders everything that went before not only meaningless and useless but obsolete. I will attempt this not for personal gain but because I’m compelled to, even when I know that I’ve always failed to create or repair anything of any worth. That is a fact. I wouldn’t even be attempting this project had all previous attempts failed. I’m not naïve. I’m aware that my attempt to establish what it is I want to repair will be subjected to the most spectacular futility and waste of time. This is a futility I’m willing and able to carry. To give my project the slimmest chance of success requires definition and knowledge that I don’t possess. It requires time, skill and persistence. To give my project a minute chance of scraping the impenetrable surface I need structure and focus: solitude, complete solitude. It requires sacrifice. I must not be distracted by the unfixable things available to all: materials, frivolous pursuits, companionship. I must have the correct tools. If the correct tools aren’t available I must design them, once I’ve defined what the correct tools are. My attempt will require the most efficient organisation not available anywhere. Probably not even in existence. There isn’t an organisational structure efficient enough to prepare me for my attempt. Once I have defined the objectives of my attempt I must devise an organisational structure that would render previous organisational structures obsolete. I need my health, which means I have to attempt to repair the whole system and structure of biology and chemistry. I may have to reinvent SCIENCE. So much so that it renders previous scientific theories irrational. I must not give up my attempt to repair the world even if all my attempts fail, as I predict they will. I’ll attempt to write the book that rewrites everything that ever was and was going to be, once I am able to define what it is that needs to be defined and repaired. I will attempt to devise a completely innovative understanding of medicine. I will redesign the necessary tools I may need and, if necessary, a whole new language to calculate and assess my chances of success. I’ll attempt the book, or whatever format it needs to be, to right every wrong. I will attempt to rewrite the world. I will sweep it all away. There can be no compromise, distraction or deviation. I must rewrite every law and structure. I must attempt to elevate my existence and my understanding to accommodate the space I require. Nothing must stand in my way. I will attempt to transcend the mind and body in order to occupy a vessel that is abundant enough to allow me to attempt my task. I will rewrite the laws of nature to prepare me for my attempt. Nothing and no-one must divert me from my attempt. I will attempt to write the book, in whatever format it takes, in whatever form I take, that when shared with the world, will repair everything. I will attempt to REVEAL myself. I must attempt it, even though I predict that I won’t complete it. I’ll attempt to redesign and repair existence. Its success will depend on the fact nothing else will exceed it. All I need is courage. Courage and knowledge. Courage and time. Courage and no distractions. My attempt will change and maybe even damage me beyond recognition. Such a change may be horrific. The fear itself is just a distraction. I won’t allow myself to be distracted by weakness. I won’t be distracted by noise. I won’t be distracted and diverted by emotions. Nothing must distract me. Existence must be sanitized and therefore every distraction needs to be decontaminated in order for me to attempt to repair this contaminated existence. I have to see it through even if my ideas, and nature itself, is imperfect and damaged. If I have the slimmest notion that there is a problem that needs to be fixed then I have to see it through, once I can define what tools I need and what new methods and theories need to be devised. I have to attempt this project. I don’t have any other productive alternative. So I’ll attempt to establish what I need and attempt to identify the perfect conditions. The conditions have to be absolutely perfect. If they aren’t perfect I must attempt to redefine or even redesign them. Anything less I must discard and forget. Every previous event was at best a distraction and a deviation from the only goal I’ve ever known: It is I who have been tasked to repair the world. Once the conditions are perfect, once I have rewritten everything in order to lay the foundations, then I will attempt to fix it all. My solitude must be absolute. My health must be unspoiled. My mind must be emptied. I cannot allow critical voices in my head to distract me. I may never even know if I’m successful. It will be the last book that is ever written.

My voice will be the last voice you will ever hear.


There’s no neat desk with a sexy high end computer waiting for me to caress the keys and magic inspiration into existence. I tend to write (if I’m motivated) with a good supply of Bic pens and cheap A4 notebooks. Often on my lap. There’s no structure or planned routine. I may have music playing in the background but since I live alone I’m fortunate not to be disturbed, if you discount the locals who stream under my window yelling and gesticulating for hours on end. The writing process can last for five to up to twelve hours a day. Often for months. Years sometimes. Sometimes I’ll wake early and start at 6 or 7 a.m., sometimes I won’t feel motivated until early evening. There are no set working hours. Once I’m in the zone I can work fast.

When I’m in the ‘zone’ I rarely eat or take walks.  Socialising and discussing my writing is a no-no if I can help it. It just doesn’t interest me because I would have already gone over ideas and problems of the work in my head. I’ll only discuss it with those I‘ve asked to look at the work when I’ve got it into some kind of decent shape and then it’s about the grammar and technical side of things. Sometimes I’ll be unsure about a scene or character and I’ll be curious to see if someone else can spot a mistake. Once I’m satisfied and I’ve organised the piece into some kind of order and structure I’ll type and transfer the work onto my old laptop. (It’s old bcause it still works. It’s not a fad) As I’m word processing I may revise or edit on the fly. The notebooks when transferred usually get thrown away. I have no sentimental attachment to early drafts. I’ve never understood why there’s a need to preserve the old typewriters of famous writers. After I’ve written the first draft then I’ll add, edit, rewrite and revise over the next few months with gaps in between so I can return back to the work with a fresh mind. I may offer the work to a friend for feedback. Then I’ll tweak the work again and work on the shape and style. I don’t plot the story sequence with post-it notes or a synopsis. I may write scenes and sections in different orders and reorder it later. A few of my stories don’t follow a linear sequence anyway.

There’s really no romance to the process. Nor is there a great deal of fun when it comes to re-writing. It’s always felt like a compulsion. The best bit about the process is the idea and committing those ideas and exploring them in the A4 notebooks. I get a lot of ideas but I’ve no real idea why or where they come from. I don’t suppose it’s something that requires analysis. I don’t collect articles; I don’t look or try to force an idea. If I have no ideas, I don’t write. I have two novels finished (more or less) and a draft for a third and hopefully final novel.

When the manuscript is completed or I’ve taken it as far as I can then that’s that. It may be submitted to a publisher or may not. I mainly write for myself anyway. Lately I’ve been wondering whether it would make a difference if my novels were published at all. The fact that I have approached very few publishers in the past displays a curiosity to connect. Years ago I once fantasised about being able to do it as a living but unless it’s a commercial work, and it’s suitably promoted it’s improbable for anyone to make any kind of living from writing. It’s enough to get the ideas down on paper.

Once edited there’s no desire to revisit or re-read my work if I can help it. I will have already gone through it dozens of times over months and years. If it hangs on the computer for long enough, without any improvement or interest or if I decide years later that I don’t like the work/don’t know where I can place it, or if I can’t re-use ideas, I have no qualms about deleting it. For example with my recent novel I rewrote 90% of it. That’s no exaggeration. I now have the original version (developed over years) which bears no resemblance to the re-write, which I highly doubt I’ll develop. It served its purpose. Apart from some self-contained bits which I can rework into vignettes or short stories, it’s largely useless.

I don’t feel a huge sense of achievement or pride on completion but relief. It’s a short-lived feeling. Writing is something I’m able to do reasonably well. Everyone is competent at something. I don’t believe that writing is a particularly impressive discipline although some authors have a flair for language and ideas. I don’t think it can change the world for the better, as much I’d like it to. It’s enough that it provides 0ne with some type of relief and may offer perspective to others.

When I first began writing I lacked a ‘voice’ and most of my ideas were often banal and frivolous, mere parodies, mimicry and homages. It’s significantly developed since those early days. I don’t think I’ve cracked it nor I ever will but I’m creeping closer with every new work. I used to write for fun when I started. The only response that I yearned for then was to get a laugh. Because I was young, stupid, vain and naïve I hoped eventually that my writing would provide me with a living… or…at a huge leap…seduce people. I didn’t have a PC then. I wasn’t computer literate at all. Most from my generation taught themselves. Every available hour before and after lectures at college I’d head to the computer suite and type out the stuff I’d spent the previous night jotting down in the kitchen. The majority of it was utter entrails but it felt therapeutic. My material wasn’t very sophisticated, original or technically sound. But because I was gullible and over-zealous I’d produce a number of atrocious pieces for the student magazine, for theatre sketches and cringe-worthy pamphlets for friends. I’m sure now they’re gathering dust, littered with the most loathsome errors. I recognise now that it was only a process I needed to go through. It might be a cliché but personal experience is the best material. That and reading.

Later I went to various writing groups/collectives and there was even a course at Uni which offered creative writing modules. I kind of have mixed feelings about creative writing courses. I suppose some writers thrive on encouragement and constructive criticism but I’ve never been able to force an idea.

I write also because I believe that I’m emotionally immature. I live most of the time inside myself, a fantasy world where everything is possible, where I can experience every shameless pleasure and brutal realism. I rarely go out unless I have to. The reasons I need to go out bring me no pleasure. Work and food shopping are necessities. I write to stay in control. I write because most of the time I’m bored. I’m bored of work, of people, of food, of the temperature, of pretty faces, of ditherers, of stupidity, of culture, of health, of education, of the news, of routine, of furrowed brows, of conversation, of severe old ladies in fur coats, of yapping, rigid old men in pastel clothes, of noise, of learning a new language, of waiting, of shaving, of ironing, of teens in tracksuits, of waking up, of waiting to sleep, of the bodies I’d like to fuck, of pretending to make it comfortable for others, of getting through it day after day. Minute by minute.

I write now because I haven’t found a better alternative or past-time. I write because it stops me thinking of reality. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve accepted that I don’t have the intellectual capacity or the craft with the language to express myself in the way I would like. My strengths have always been ideas. The act of writing for me is like mindfulness. I escape while writing about entrapment.

I write in the hope that one day I will finish. It’s a compulsion, to descale the conscience of my fears, the torments and private tortures, to escape somewhere, smear people in the treacle of imagination, luxuriate in it for a while until we have clean it off, hoping most of it will stick. Other writers wish to pay tribute and capture beauty, compassion, and the things that make the human experience so magnificent and special. I write because ideas sneak up on me, abuse me, creep around in my brain. Maybe they curiously poke and prod a bit until I coax them out. Half the time I don’t know what I want to say. Notebooks and paper in my vicinity are filled with scenes, ideas, whole chapters, before they are used…before they get tossed away. My motivation is to get the crap out of my brain, the anxiety, the neurosis and the fantasies. I need somewhere to store all those useless beautiful and horrible memories and experiences, a place to manage all the things I wanted to say and do but was too nervous. I want to unpick, scrape and shovel my regrets away, send all those hopes and darkest secrets to the surface, like a bloody bewildered miner. Put them all into a box along with cards, cuttings, photos and letters never to be reopened but never discarded. I want to empty and declutter my mind, place the thoughts in some type of context in which I can understand them. I hate thinking. I loathe worrying. I would collapse under its weight if I didn’t empty my imagination of the swirling thunderstorms, the flying shrapnel and the vast sheets of rain. The hope is that I will be free.

Writing can enable us to experience life in different bodies, in different times, in other worlds and environments. If a book is suitably descriptive enough we can use our senses to feel sensations that we haven’t experienced. We can know, desire, hate and live with people we will never see. Feel new emotions. We’re never alone. For some writing is a purely aesthetic experience, a luxurious fabric to clothe the reader and to caress them, an art work with clean lines and composition, a sequential symphony, a catwalk to preen and display their flowery, fashionable linguistic skills. For some writers it’s a love letter to other writers and critics, to the future, a cry for help, an extensive suicide note, an endless flashback, a peacock tail, a terrifying acid trip, a government mouthpiece, an imagined hazy summer in the future, a cloudless sky, a poison pen letter.

Many authors write for posterity, for prosperity, to educate, to warn us of the horror that awaits us, to celebrate nature and pay homage to our achievements and look forward to more. They have many roles as we know, to sugar coat truths, to edit and repackage the human condition, to share the stories that our ancestors used to tell each other, to invent new experiences, to arouse and unlock our desires, to outrage us, to incite or bait us, to contradict other thinkers. In short no different to the things we already imagine and do to each other. If they have a responsibility then we are all responsible, we are all susceptible and enslaved by our emotions and our instincts. It’s always the same story.

In my view the writer shouldn’t be censored, even from themselves. It would be no different from censoring the voices of those that they represent; the ones who supposedly don’t have a voice in their own societies. We should all remain true even if that truth makes us uncomfortable. Language is as much a loaded gun as a vast universe spread out in all directions but even language, experience and the ideas that they inspire have practical limitations. If we wrote truthfully, we would be ostracised, misunderstood and treated with deep suspicion. Sometimes the written word isn’t accurate enough to express our experience of the world. I believe that writers and artists should go where the imagination takes them even  if it means they must confront subversive truths. I wonder if the current novel I’m working on will find an audience. I don’t believe a writer has a wider responsibility to protect people, sugar-coat the world or promote values. We don’t have a moral duty as far as I’m concerned. We are answerable to our own conscience. A writer should seek to write what is true to the world they wish to represent. Imagination is currently under threat in the current climate where pressure groups get offended on behalf of others.

I often wonder if all art should be anonymous. Would it not inspire absolute truth and unrestrained imagination? Isn’t expression synonymous with all of our experiences? Is the ego essential? For some, I suppose it drives their work. Would Oscar Wilde or Virginia Wolf’s words been valued any less if they remained anonymous? Or were they, themselves, like Andy Warhol, part of the work? That is not to say that art should be state controlled. Many of the workers who died to build the world, which allowed future generations to walk and live among the architecture, remain anonymous. Why worship any individual? There’s always the option of a pseudonym. I’ve always favoured the work over its creator. Creators in my view should be as anonymous as possible, which is becoming more and more impossible in the digital age. Writers in my view must write in order to tell and share a story not to gain praise or plaudits. Pride is so old fashioned.
The writer is motivated by many things. For most their desire will remain unfulfilled. Never to be read. Never to be published. Never to realise that what they thought was their ugly face was actually that of a swan. Others dream of being courted by fashionable cliques and beautiful people, to be hailed as a daring genius, an original voice, hoping that their lives will be furnished with the imprisonment of respect, praise, fandom, money and fame. For some their work is like a message in a bottle, reaching out, in the hope that at some point their desperate pleas will be received and understood by the right person, their work nothing but an abandoned lighthouse where ships no longer pass. Some writers write for money, some write what they’re told to write, others wish to draw our attention to something. For some it’s art, for others a bit of a laugh, for others a burden. Some consider that the writer should be a vessel or in fact a scribe, not to express what they’re told to or for any divine mission, but to release something, pour it onto the page like an ink pot and see how it settles. It’s already enough that they are fortunate to have flair or an opportunity to create, that many are paid on whatever they find in the net after it’s been retrieved, that the work has been shaped by an editor into something meaningful.

‘What’s your book about?’
I hate this question. I never know what to say. It always leaves me hanging like a mortified idiot. I’m hopeless at writing blurb, much less marginalizing the words into a tagline or summary in order to mumble something to someone.
‘Where do you get your ideas from?’
I can’t remember.
I’ve been fortunate to give book signings, readings and attend small performances of my work. On the whole I found the experience strange and bemusing. I feel more exposed than any sense of pride. Trembling hands, trembling people. It’s only a collection of text, arranged and organised to take someone somewhere for a couple of hours!

A good book can inspire debate and the need to evaluate oneself and try to improve. I’m not sure if a work of fiction will ever be enough to bring down governments, no matter how many books they try to burn. We hear and tell ourselves every day how we should be concerned for the weak, how we should be protecting them. We read inactive hand-wringing articles about how we are failing those who are unfortunate. Solutions are rarely offered. Weak people should be defined as the poor, victims of various abuses, politically oppressed but it’s not always the case. Without appearing to be boringly contrarian the weak for me are the insecure, the abusers, the oppressors, obsessed by security, international borders, airspace and waters. The weak are actually the strong. They have their own columns in fashionable print media. The voices are but an impression. Their language is not what we hear but what they don’t say. Writers don’t have a responsibility to be moral or otherwise. They will self-censor, even if they’ve been censored by publishers, by religious organisations, by governments, or from fear of offending somebody or other. They shouldn’t of course. But we live in a world where free speech/freedom of expression doesn’t exist. You only believe it exists because the powers that be tell you that it does: in other words, because you’re told to. By another human being.


But what is it for? What purpose does it serve? What is the objective? Why is it important? Will it improve or change anything for the better? How it will it increase our understand of x, y and z? How will it enrich our lives? Does it offer an achievable/innovative alternative to the way we did things before or to the way we live our lives? Does it help those less fortunate than us? Can I do it better? How can we measure if it’s achieved its objective? What makes this product/service/feeling any different to other models and avenues that have previously been explored? What’s being excluded? What are the dangers? Are there any flaws that can be foreseen? Are we merely copying and repeating ourselves? Is it just a coping strategy or an extended exercise in procrastination? What are the ways it might fail? Who will it reach? What is the end goal? Does it actually mean anything? Is it important? Does it have any intrinsic values? Are the reasons you can give for its implementation suitable enough? Are the foundations of this idea inherently flawed?

Questions one should ask oneself.

From April, 2014. Some bleeps, blips, pops and experiments.


ARTIKULAT: WINTER COLLECTION by Jsnwnstnly on Mixcloud

Among other things, I’ve been spending the past year making various mixes. This is a mixed compilation of some of my favourite new, recent and classic tracks, taken from a few innovative labels such as Kompakt, traumschallplatten.de/ and

inFine records, as well as some other things. It’s called ‘Winter Collection’ simply because 1. It’s now Winter here and 2. the music evokes the hopes and fears a despondent, grey morning in January can often inspire.

As part of the Words 2013 festival held in and around Wigan and Leigh between April 1-13 2013, Wigan Community Theatre, directed by Chris Bridgman, will present and perform the world premiere of Jason Winstanley’s  The Travesty at the classic (and newly refurbished) Wigan venue, The Mill at The Pier on the 11th and 12th April, 2013.




YES2XS by Jason Winstanley on Mixcloud

Here’s a new mix I’ve made. My best yet, I have to say. If you’ve never heard of them then now would be a good time to check Yello out.




At last the album is now out and can be bought for £5.99 at PLAY.COM

It is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.  You can also buy it on iTunes from 59p per track or £6.99 for the album.


Really enjoyed the Jaume Plensa exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park today. Some great sculptures and models, including a curtain of poetry and an interactive gong installation called Jerusalem. The human word sculptures were amazing.

Glad to be back at YSP and to see it so busy. It’s good that people are supporting it. If you live within driving/rail distance of Yorkshire, you should check out this unusual setting. You only pay for parking (£5).

Plensa exhibition finishes today; it’s followed by Anish Kapoor’s Flashback (another great exhibition) and Joan Miro.

Yep. Me too.

Yesterday at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


Went here today. Interesting exhibition. Shame the Shadow Lab wasn’t open though.

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