Sunday, 24 February 2013

Moore Than A Legend

It had been a manic day. His door was always open and this allowed the sounds of the bays to rush in. The guys whizzing around, beeping horns, driving the trucks too fast round corners, going out onto the shop floor without the necessary hygiene regulated hats because they thought they were above those on the shop floor – which they were sat perched on forked-trucks – the laughing, shouting, swearing, moaning, arguing, the bad singing along to Radio One – Tommy hated dance music, especially daytime dance music – and the tedious and embarrassing impersonations and renditions of such themes as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Only Fools and Horses, that they all felt the urge to participate in when the day really had got to them that much. But they were now all either up the social for a quick pint and a game of pool or on their merry way home and good riddance to the lot of them. As Tommy sat in his office, he could just about make out the shapes of the maintenance crew assigned to carry out the work on what the directors had recently called ‘a monumental face lift’ to the entire interior of the shop floor, canteen and store bays. The men were ready to bin their plastic tea and coffee cups and prepare to give the lower bay a new lick of paint; a hideous combination of yellow and lime. The ‘face lift’ was an alleged knee-jerk reaction by the directors to a flippant comment passed during the recent visit of a potential German client, whereby the place was said to have the architecture and decor of a 1950s Soviet jam factory. Tommy thought that it was a good call. The fact is that the main shop floor and lower bays had been built and completed during at the start of the seventies when the site was occupied by the once legendary but now defunct Samson Shoes Ltd and very little had really changed to this day other than the inclusion of extra racking in the High Bay and the slight development of the canteen and social club last January. Tommy was flicking through various extracts from a book that he’d got from his brother Garry for his birthday many years ago: Moore Than A Legend. It was Tommy’s favourite book. It contained extracts and comments from everyone who knew the West Ham United and England captain Bobby Moore and held his memory close to their hearts. From Pele to George Best, from Michael Caine to Franz Beckenbauer as well as comments from those who now tried their best to emulate him, like Rio Ferdinand. His brother Stevie then went and had also got him the same book for him the following Christmas. Typical Stevie, head in the clouds. He couldn’t change it as Stevie said he’d got it on ebay. Still, it did mean that Tommy could now have a copy at home and one he could read whenever he had time to kill at work. It was a moving book and Bobby was one of Tommy’s great heroes, on par with Rod Stewart, and the layout and style of the book allowed him to dip in and out of various accounts of the great man at his own leisure. Tommy was reading a Bobby Moore tribute from the famous TV chat host Michael Parkinson that had caught his attention. There was a recount of a charity football match in 1970 that actually had Bobby Moore and Rod Stewart playing in the same side. A side that also included Parkinson himself and a four-eyed balding Elton John. During the early stages of the game, Elton John lost his glasses having been fouled by whom Parkinson referred to as a ‘lunatic’ and the same player also then went and stamped on the pair of glasses, snapping the frame in the process. Rod Stewart went spare and without a second thought went steaming in, only for Bobby to come running over, restoring order, telling his team mate something along the lines of how ‘he ain’t worth it’. A matter of minutes later and the same man who had broken Elton John’s glasses was now lying motionless and face down in the mud and he had to be carried off with no one actually seeing what happened. At the time of the incident only a don’t-look-at-me Bobby Moore was in attendance at that part of the pitch. Tommy liked that story and was amazed in all the times he’d picked up the book how he had never come across it before. He was gazing into space, smiling, picturing the total magic, the image of Rod Stewart being restrained by Bobby Moore, when there was a knock on his door. He was expecting it to be Larry Land, head of Maintenance, just letting him know that the lads would be in the bays doing their overtime for the next three or so hours. Probably also want to go on again about the fifty quid he took out of the fruit machine in the social last Saturday lunchtime. No one could escape him. Going on about poxy fifty quid like he had scooped the National Lottery on his own. But it wasn’t Larry. It was a tall, frail, nervous looking lad of about twenty. ‘Erm, are you Tommy Gunn?’ As it turned out, over the next half an hour or so Tommy thought that Trevor Cape was all right. A complete surprise in all honesty, because you’d never have guessed that this impressionable lad was the son of that hopeless overrated bore. But by the time Trevor Cape had coolly completed the maths test, Tommy would agree to himself that if it hadn’t been for the fact that he’d long made up his mind, then he might even have given the job to his boss’s son. He had been suitably impressed. On the way home he thought to himself, now that there was some distance between the interview and clear rational thinking, the reality here was that there was no way the jury that oversaw the well being of Tommy Gunn would ever have allowed him to have chosen Trevor Cape; even if he wasn’t going to give the position to John Porter or Ben Shaw. Filling the vacancy with another Cape would have been tantamount to treason in the respected world. Every right minded person he knew would have rightly disowned him; once he’d been tarred and feathered of course. Nice lad, but nepotism is a cunts game and the matter was now closed. At least he had given Trevor Cape the courtesy of an interview at such short notice.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

We Are Glass

This is not a book review. But a paragraph of immediate thoughts from a window ledge about a new book I have just read by a literary menace. My appreciation of Birmingham has always been a visit for football. I have been witness to more than a few violently disturbing experiences at games in that city; notably Birmingham City away rather than Villa, West Brom or Walsall. But if I was expecting any relief from grief then there was no escape here. 17 dark stories shed little light. But to sidestep the darkness would mean that you miss the careful considered poetry of u v ray. And that is the books hold. A book of fiction that's laced with poetic love and poetic bitterness fighting in the gutter come closing time but ultimately rises from the whiskey glass and the mundane of everyday to want to blow a gunshot into the fuckface of indifference. All in the name of love. To illustrate this, 'The Rag and Bone Man' has Joe facing a bone right in his face. Joe, considering his sorry life, had perhaps every right to turn savage in such a confrontation of man v man (but not perhaps how you might envisage). The fact he doesn't sums up the books shadow of humanity perfectly. Reading We Are Glass might make you think that this is a writer imploding. Nothing could be further from the truth.