like a divorcee moving in somewhere,
you flattened every cardboard box.
Parked up on services at Gretna Green,
listless, listening to Scott 3,
no intention of getting hitched.
Me, struggling to finish my big eat crisps.
You, peppy, thin-skinned, hopped-up on caffeine
had predicted as much—a prophecy?
Driving again, in rain, past driven-into road-signs,
past unmarked cars on the road to Carlisle,
past angled, hillside sheep,
past England, past caring.
Later, the fish-eyed vista of Lanarkshire,
and onwards to Edinburgh and
rumoured Midlothian jukeboxes,
our bijou flat, a bijouterie
on Princes Street which splits the city
like a fault line—not my fault but yours—
and pits the gridded, griddled New Town
against inebriated inclines, whisky shops,
alleys, shortbread of the Old Town.
It’s here I find my little café bistro bar
next to the mussel restaurant
and its felt-tip Catch of the Day.
I eat one salad, then two, then three:
these days are my salad days.
It’s here we walk and walk and walk
until our shoelaces come undone.
Prodding, grabbing, shooting, fishing...
that’s what you do here
at the end of this lunatic pier.
Two-pence shufflers, sifting;
the slate Irish sea and its subsidiary
industries: guesthouses, comedians,
suppliers of coin-operated machinery;
Maria Petulengro will give advice
to people from all walks of life:
the onion-ring pub beside the motorway,
everyone absurd in chip-shops.
Remember the Godfrey Thompson era, the rides;
we laughed as we snapped every vertebrae,
broke our noses on the Big Dipper.
The mustard hues of Aldgate East,
the sway of the next Tube train:
I remember the Nineties,
Trainspotting, then just terrible British movies.
There were really cool magistrates back then,
generally full of MDMA,
speaking legalese, smoking Nepalese,
passing sentence with really cool catchphrases.
They had everything, aftershave...
this wasn’t the old days,
there was none of your Old Spice,
this was glassy-eyed, B-sides, formaldehyde,
they didn’t give a fuck about the butter knife,
this was Silk Cut, wanderlust,
they flicked V-signs, led double-lives,
they fetishised Manchester.
Bankrupt with a beer-gut
by the end of the decade
—hand in glove, the sun shone
out of their behinds.
Later, one was done for GBH, ABH, HRH,
another renovates houses nowadays,
while his mate swans round Zagreb with celebs,
four of them engaged, two dead.
If I’m honest, I just remember being full of malaise
in the Nineties, Paula Yates on every TV channel...
or listlessly listening to Songs of Praise,
coming down off something.
RICHARD BRAMMER was born in 1975 in England. His work has been published in a variety of magazines both nationally and internationally, most notably in Fulcrum 7. He is the Editor of Flexipress (www.flexipress.wordpress.com), an online literary magazine which has published work by the likes of Roddy Doyle, Ben Mazer, Toby Litt, U. S. Dhuga, Sam Mills, and George Szirtes.