Thin sticks, walking. Tumbleweed dot of dog runs beside them and away like a looping thread. Fading smaller they are merging with ground bound rain of mirage shimmer, where refraction pulls their movements into a staccato dance from a chaotic pen. They break up like static, hit the lip before they fall into the abyss of distance too far to see.
And after their falling
the stillest space. Endless sand. Forever sky reflecting in the mirror of shallows. A canvas that shows the tiniest change. It waits for a new word on an empty page.
When she came out of the pink light of the seafront gallery, the night sky looked blue. She knew it was grey, really, like it had been all day, but it made her happier to go along with the illusion until her eyes adjusted.
Out by the tiny low tide waves, someone walked alone in the dark. She could see their white shoes, imagined the scrunching sounds of their footsteps on wet stones.
As she turned for home, the orange pink lights of the pier shouted and screamed for her attention. It made her laugh out loud. The words were jumping up and down in sequence, repeating the same mistake over and over again - Brighton Pie Brighton Pie Brighton Pie
High above the monochrome street, one golden leaf remains on the Sycamore, shivering in pale rain like a tiny bright light. Now that the leaves have blown, abrupt junctions and angles mark the places near rounded stumps where the hack and whine of chainsaw pruning carved bleak silhouettes last Spring.
Stark, like a line drawing map scrawled on the back of a snatched and creased envelope in the clarity of a phone call, it makes no sense without a reassuring light or a familiar voice. This blunt calligraphy reaches out beyond rooftops to feel the touch of the open sky.
Above the seething water, the polished red brick of chimney stacks cheers the blue morning. Roofers tread new beams in the purple trails of woodsmoke from next door, and on the lake, as waves fling themselves out into the air in a wild frenzy, the Coots face the other way.
Full blast, full thump, over the whine and drone of the carpenters, "Every little thing she does is magic" sings out of their truck radio. Inside the cave-like seafront arches, they are whistling along, sounding very relaxed about the tempo in the delay of that acoustic.
Just here, sheltered from the snarling wind, the sun is beating down and I want to dance even though I have my overcoat on. In that blaze, white sawdust races around my shoes in a floor spin like pristine sand, just as the lyrics reach that eeoh refrain.
A hexagonal scaffold holds the empty space where brass band oom-pah-pah used to flourish. Corporation turquoise pillars have been craned and trucked away, leaving the lonely turret top knot to one side, naked of paint, like a newly licked Iced Gem.
The way the light flooded into the room, how strange angles of low sun reflected in the windows opposite, bounced in and made him feel like North was suddenly South. For once, he drew up a chair and sat down to write at the table, in the space that had been patiently waiting for him all these months.
Beside him on the window ledge, the chives drew a beautiful scribble on the skin of the pumpkin. He loved the colours - the green tangled threads, the dark purple grey definition of the shadow, the speckled rough orange skin.
In the fragment of a moment before his pen touched the page, his eyes were inspired by fluidity, stillness and stone.
In a day with glints of sun that suddenly strode out as if to shake hands with me from behind the mediocre grey, I felt like I could actually see again. A bit too cold to sit for long, it was so good to be out looking around me.
On the black horizon, a blinding mirror like some fortune telling stone, caught my eye but made it turn and cringe away. Pied wagtails flitted underneath the bench I stopped to write on, twitching biscuit crumbs into the air like they were only fit to discard, and like I wasn't there. I walked on gritty wet sand in the scoops cut out by the diagonal waves. A fisherman carried a folding chair out onto the green algae world of the jetty. It looked strangely neat out there - carpet, view, tools laid out, what looked like one of my old kitchen chairs.
Walking home, I was happy to have let the sun see me for a while after lots of gloomy skies. Then came the best thing. As I waited to cross the main road, the bus that came along was named Dusty Springfield.
She had taken to rapid fire cursing when her heel caught in the grid cover. It was stuck so tightly, that she decided to leave it there rather than miss her train.
She went barefoot to work, hoping that no-one would notice her new short stature and the lone shoe stuck in her handbag. They didn't. Or if they did, they didn't say anything to her. Probably wouldn't have dared. She was sure her Monday mood was written across her face, with the elbow angled graffiti of one of those expletives she had used earlier scrawled across it, to make sure no-one misunderstood.
Good to see the back end of that day, but somewhere in it all, she felt strangely empowered by the fact that her mouth could still so accurately express itself. She decided that she might let it speak out more often.
Ears crack awake before eyes. A five cry riff has them hooked in. Five accents and a minim rest, before it begins again, relentlessly repeating, like a crooked alarm my sleepy arm can't reach to silence.
I squint to check the clock in the pale hint of dawn. 6.05 Sunday morning. Crow time must be an hour out. I listen to his incessant pattern for the next half hour, wondering if he will ever try out some other sounds, some other chimney stack.
Ahead of myself now, looking out at a heavy grey sky that weighs down, optimism tells me that there is the merest hint of blue out there. But, I was hoping for a bit more light to bounce into the house today.
I need to finish a painting, a gift for someone, and dark November days are not helping. I gaze at it across the room, follow a track on that mountain, where my eyes want to drink in the views, where my heart wants to soar into the colours, where my sensible feet want to feel the pull of gravity to keep me on the loose stones of the ridge.
Still in my pyjamas, I pick up the brush, mix some white into cerulean, and listen to the five cry riff scratching over the back end of the weather forecast.
It seems to be only the yellows, the golds, that are left. The crumpled browns, burnt crisp oranges, the still slightly waxy green, the rare shining reds, have all been blown away. Colours are fading fast, but this ordinary street is made into shimmering glory by the leaves.
I watched the other day, as the gale threw branches back on themselves, how the leaves clung on. Today, in their own time, in the still moments of this grey morning, they rain down.
Coming home from buying the weekend paper, I caught sight of Nature's handy work at the chores. Sorting, sticking, sweeping, tidying. The gutters were lined with gold.
The smallest pumpkin - about 6 inches across, is still sitting on my window ledge. In pale orange glory, it's been a great talking point, prompting tales of wide-eyed wonder since I brought it home and brushed the earth from it's base. It seems to have a magical air about it, like something from a fairy tale. The others - all giants - from this year's bumper crop, have been carved for Halloween and chunked up to go into soup. Usually, our wrinkled, slightly pathetic crop only makes it to the face carving session, but we must have done something differently this year as they reached competition proportions, growing bigger by the day.
But we were worried - how to get the enormous fruits home before the pumpkin thieves sneaked them away first?
Pumpkin thieves must be an odd breed, peeping out from behind gnarled trees, eyeing up the plots with binoculars from hiding places in the bushes, geared out with wheelbarrows, old potato sacks, strong backs, and suitable trucks, sneaking about silently, under cover of darkness, weighed down with the collected booty.
How to carry such monstrous fruits home from the plot if we let them grow any bigger ? We huffed and puffed and shuffled our awkward way, left a bit, forward a bit, through the gates, sharing the heavy fruits that weighed like sleeping children, knowing that we had foiled the robbers.
So, pumpkin soup for the first time ever. Just a chunk of these fruits made enough delicious soup to feed us for a week. Wonderful. But sometimes, "Would you like some more?"can have an air of desperation about it. It seemed like it came from a never ending pot. A magic pot.
It marked out all dreams into squares, like a 4/4 ride pattern that let no silence in. One volume, continuous intensity, no pause for breath. Uniform. Clocked in. Measured by the dark hour before dawn, blinking away in blue seconds counting themselves out and more beats counting the next phrase in.
The fence, the windows, the parked cars outside, all played relentless unforgiving percussion with rain on an optimistic mission to turn a steep road into a ravine.
Dreams were caged in by the mocking watchful eyes of the clock. Only tiny parts of their mosaic glinted in the dark pool of a morning mind, but thin shards had bitten into fingertips, reminders of something so lost that it could never be found, and an awareness of a space leaning there.
I have a date with my shed. I keep putting it off. Ridiculous excuses, I know. Like the weather, mainly. I am out of sorts because of it. I guess the shed is out of sorts about it as well. Sounds ridiculous, but it's true.
The shed needs weatherproofing before Winter sets in. Paint and a spruce up. A bit of fixing around the door. Possibly some new roof felt. In our usual run up to Winter, we have mild, windy and grey damp days. The golden leaves look radiant against this particular slate dark grey, but it does nothing for your mood. And now I am waiting for a spell of crisp weather to enable wood to dry out before I paint it, and then to allow everything to dry out again once I've finished.
In the meantime, in slanting rain, I run past the shed with my head wrapped in my hood, trying not to look. I rush to pick tender stems of Purple Broccoli. I pull up muddy Parsnips from the yielding black earth, trim a few handfuls of shiny Chard and some herbs, and ignore the steep angle of guilt in me as the wind snatches at my coat.
Listening to the raging wind blasting down the street last night as it hurled itself into dead ends and alleyways, I thought about the shed, tucked into the corner of a wide field, wondering if it had been flattened by the fury and pushed as planks, against the cruel unyielding wires of the fence.
It's dark outside. It's raining. A few late fireworks fizz into the clouds like pale sherbet. And I am tempted to walk out into a moonlit field to see if my little wooden hut still stands.
He watched blue silk threads unravelling, like they were the stars of a film showing in the back of his own head. Snags and tangles smoothed out in silent soft focus, in their own time. Savagely held twists and loops turned back on themselves and combined, chaotic, before stretching out into pristine lengths, with no kinks, as if by magic.
Like a beautiful evolving dance, into these threads, came an image of white on white. Odd, at first, to focus on. Hard to make sense of the new movements as the blue turned into blinding light that bounced like suns inside his blinking eyes. Tracks were skiing down pristine snowfields on a sunlit mountain. Just the tracks being made. No skis.
Balanced over his shoulder, a man carried a huge 'a'. It was bright blue and had long wire leg spikes, so you could fix it on top of a giant's birthday cake, obviously. It looked awkward to carry. This being Brighton, no-one took much notice of him as he crossed the street.
Out for a rambling and meandering walk, with a bit of time on my hands, I kept wondering about where he might be taking it. Fairground. A gift for someone called arthur or alice. A big massive sign on top of a supermarket or warehouse. School literacy session - let's think of words beginning with the letter a. Theatre set. That giant's birthday cake.
Turned out, he was doing a photo shoot for Bupa in front of the seafront beach huts. The spikes were supported by perspex boxes to hold the letters up. And they were surrounded by as much gear as would accompany a hoard of superstars. Only, there were no superstars. Just a man with a wrecked back, after carrying the signage, piece by piece, for a private health insurance company.
In front of the huge letters, a tall Poodle with a neat pompom hair-do, chased a ball thrown by a guy gliding backwards on slick in-line skates.
The new header shot for my blog was taken at low tide on Crosby Beach, which is a wonderful expanse of sand and sky on the edge of Liverpool - YES, Liverpool has beaches - with wide views across to Snowdonia, oddly beautiful dockside landscapes of cranes, wind farms, shipping and industry, and vast Westerly sunsets. Now famous for being home to Antony Gormley's 'Another Place', it has a few more people on it than when I took this shot, but there is still room for miles of solitude.
This is my home patch. I grew up just a few minutes walk away from these sands. In fact, in certain breezy times, rather a lot of this sand would be blowing up the road and sneaking in through letter boxes. A stray grain would always find it's way in between your teeth, even though the mini sandstorms made you hold your breath and turn away.
My adopted home town of Brighton has a beach covered in millions of stones. Most days, the low tide doesn't reveal any sand at all here.
I spend hours on both of these beaches, and while they both generate lots of ideas for my creative work, there is no prize for guessing which one I prefer to walk or sit upon.
Having sat for too long on Brighton beach this afternoon, I have just been rotating the header photo, imagining I was in another place instead, flying across these sands for the joy of it.
Evolving in the latticework of the pier, high above the parade of skinny legs, beneath the neat boardwalk planks, a mosaic on a dark grid. Depends on where you stand on the beach to gaze up at it. The angles are different from every spot. The structure there has some small spaces, a patch of air in it's pattern, a little light where breathy breeze can whistle through. As the sun sets, some of the tiny frames light up with furious liquid orange metal, like a peep inside a furnace.