Sea Glass (work in progress)

by Jon Horne's Mild Peril

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released April 13, 2016



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Jon Horne's Mild Peril Whitby, UK

Keepin' it largely fictional in the pubs and Pavilions of Whitby since 2004. Vocal, guitar, noisy songs with stories and tunes.

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Track Name: Sea Glass
One day it will all be like this
Worn down, opalescent
Indistinct, collectable remains
Stone, shell, glass, china, brick
Rust and plastic
Nestling in sand, clay, coal
Preserved in coarse conglomerate

One piece, held up to the greying sky
Kidney-shaped, pink and smooth
Framed by small fingers, face proudly
Turned to the wind. Our girl
Keeps it safe
Wrapped in orange polythene
To be displayed or used, later lost

By things that are extruded hot
Will our civilisation be known
One in millions fossilised, the rest
Broken up and recycled
Except plastic
Sculpted by erosion, melted
Reformed by continental drift

Waves break on groynes, sending up spray
Blown ashore, it rains down
She squeals and scampers. Distracted
By piddock holes and green glass, I say
Don’t get cold
She pulls her hood up, it blows off
She slides on her knees in pebbles, laughs
And tongues a loose tooth
Track Name: Friday (Sally Says)
Sally says: "Take a look on the shelf."
Sally says: "That’s where I’ll find myself
one day, if I keep up this ridiculous pace."
Josie rolls her eyes just a little,
checks herself in a compact mirror
says: "How could I possibly improve upon this face?"
Sally throws a blue down her neck,
picks up a red and says: "Ah, what the heck."
Rubs her eyes, says: "Where’d you
get these, Josie babe?"

And Billy Mac says:
"They never went out dressed like that in my day.
They never let them out looking like that in my day."

They call Josephine the queen of France.
They call Sally 'Sally' because she can’t dance.
Meanwhile Billy Mac's not been seen outside for days.
Taxi tips them out on Broad Street.
A quick one now before the hotel beat.
"Something large, cold and white please," Sally says.
Then to the barman: "Don’t bother, son.
I may be cheap but I’m not as much fun
as I look, now give me a drink and wipe that grin off your face."

And Billy Mac says:
"They never went out dressed like that in my day.
They never let them out looking like that in my day.
Anywhere else but here, you’d think it was Friday."

"I bet Billy Mac’s got a glass to the wall,"
Sally laughs as she falls into the hall.
Turns around to find Josie conspicuously missing
Out of mind and out of sight
She doesn’t need Josie or a man tonight
Blanket from the bedroom, bottle from the kitchen
Sun comes up over the rooftops
Shines in Sally’s eyes and it won’t stop
She shouts: "Hey Billy, put the kettle on, if you’re still listening."

And Billy Mac says:
"They never went out dressed like that in my day.
They never let them out looking like that in my day.
Anywhere else but here, you’d think it was Friday."
Track Name: David and Suzannah
Suzannah used to buzz in from London
All frizzed-up, boyfriend in tow
He would put a hand on the
Green wire fence, the other
On the rust new-brick
Presenting a casual barrier
That she could duck under
Grinning as of old
And stand next-to and behind him

Chin-on-shoulder, slap-arse intimate
Little sister still, adoring
He for a second holds the cards
Were he not so busy
Holding the fence
He should hold out a hand
Instead the new man
Does, like the many
Who came before. He shakes the hand

You must be Dave, boyfriend says
His head stays still but the gaze drops
David please, she responds
Sternly and not in fun
One day there will be one
She notes, that I won’t
Have to tell, but until then
Big-necked, slow
David is her litmus test for men

So it remained for years. Cotton-polyester
Under short flared skirts became
Briefly, jeans artfully slashed and
Ripped, bare knees displayed
Then just jeans and tops
Of pink or grey. Hair no longer
Sprayed and bouncing
As she walked, but tied back
Prettily, with glasses, brown then black

The boyfriends became a husband - who’d
Failed the David test, but still
They had a baby whom David loved
Just as he had Suzannah
Suzannah wouldn’t let him bath
The child or sit with her alone
Too vulnerable. Too what?
I mean too little, she said kindly
But firmly. I was big enough for you, he thought

When Dad was gone and Mum stayed in
Her room day after day and all night
When you cried and the only thing
I knew was to hold you tight
And give you milk like Mum said
Warm the bottle up and
Squirt it on your hand
If you can’t feel it then it’s warm
Now give it to her, Mum said, so I did

The former family home hunkers down in
The lee of full-grown poplars
Whose roots dig viciously
But which divert the east wind
Overhead, until you reach the
Top road, when it hits you
Straight off the sea
A smaller man might not
Keep his feet. Proudly he walks to work

In Deliveries, behind the supermarket’s
Waggon-sized green doors
The handtruck cowboy rides
A western plain of dust and lint
Through sagebrush of plastic
Sheeting unwinding from pallets
Of whisky and cigarettes
Bacon and beans
No, David wouldn’t get the joke

You make your own theatre when you’re
Pallet-pulling in the warehouse
The drivers are the stars back there
Breezing in, undoing liner buckles
Like slick lovers and pulling
Back curtains like magicians
Performing the grand reveal
They have the chat
And utilise it mercilessly

David agrees to make the tea. It’s a break
After all. The hierarchies
Of the shop floor go right over
His head. He has work while
Many don’t; he has a place
To be in daytime hours
And at night therefore,
An excuse for a drink
So why not make the tea? he thinks

The Linewalkers at the Odeon Friday night
First half Johnny Cash, then
Line-dancing till late. Stella on tap
And a shoot-out in the break
Fiona from the office goes for the
Dancing. Mum went once
Or twice. David irons a check shirt
And polishes his boots
It’s only Monday, but best be prepared

You can come if you like, David says to his sister.
No, I’ll pass thanks old chap
I’m not cut out to be a cowgirl, and
Littl’un here needs looking after
That’s all right, he replies, I like
The Johnny Cash half best
He sings Ring Of Fire as
He did when she as little
She joins in but only remembers the chorus

With accidental clarity he mutters, I
Taught you nothing that you know
The husband grins, whispers, out
Of the mouths of babes and fools
And one of those is suckling at your tit
She kisses the child
And hisses to the husband
This is not your house, it’s his
The husband sniffs and changes channel

Before the husband and the child, before the return
To town, to the house
These moments of mammalian idleness
On the settee would’ve seemed
More suited to a zoo. Normality
Was the lion’s den of an interview
The shout and hup-to of an
Open-plan panopticon, the fizzing
Caffeine energy of London in the nineties

Office-hopping - seven jobs in as many years,
Every move an advance
Getting in on the ground floor, putting
The work in, making the cash
And getting out with pride and
Reputation intact, contacts safely
Stored in Filofax and Mac
Home was distant, a guilty pang
A Saturday arrival, a Sunday lunch then go

Mum was watching David’s back, and
He watched hers in his own clumsy way
Morning tea, a paper in bed that he
Could barely read, but he knew
Enough to know it got her up
That and twenty Bensons - ten each
Suzannah watched the pair of them
Together and wondered
Why am I not like that?

Then she would see herself, a girl of
Five-foot-three from the sort of house
That had a green plastic fence next to
The wall, from the sort of family
That had a father who would
Leave a depressed wife and
Vulnerable son. She had
Left them too, of course
She would hear Dad’s contemptuous snort

The following outburst, the husband will
Later blame on hormones - something
Doubtless to do with birth and feeding
Which will make her skin crawl
Even more, at the thought that she
Married him. She says, me
And you between us are no better
Than my Dad. I’ve behaved
Like him, but worse than that, you think like him

The husband has nothing to gain by
Responding, but does anyway
He says, blokes marry their mothers
Girls marry their dads
It’s the way of the world
She covers herself and the baby
Then makes her way into
The kitchen where David
Is cooking spaghetti bolognese

She was slowing down when Mum died.
Her head was still full of
Lead times and deadlines
But she was losing the taste for
Champagne at seven, dinner
At eight, music blaring and
A new man whenever
One was going spare
She decided she was ready for a change

I heard you, David says, you don’t have
To fight over me. For you, she corrects
He could do with a woman, she thinks
But that would be just
The sort of thing the husband
Would be thinking - find
Some poor girl special enough
And they can move
Into a warden-sheltered flat for two

Whether or not he understands, she says
You’re not holding me back, brother
Me and this ’ere sproglet are taking
A couple of years, together
She knows she doesn’t sound
Like herself, but to hell with it
She can play this rôle as well
As she played ‘amoral
Metropolitan’. London isn’t going anywhere

In vain hope of making up lost ground
Husband stays at home with the child
Suzannah and David hit the Black
Swan together, as they did when
She was sixteen. Old faces
Eyebrows raised. She counts down
For him at the dartboard
He buys her dry white wine from
His own wages. Then home arm-in-arm, drunk

Turn the page. Tomorrow: David wheels
Truck and brews tea unappreciated
Suzannah touches the walls of this tiny
Town she once longed to escape
Christian mother-toddlers, swim-babes
And fit-play, girls from school
Aged by marriage, birth and all
Of the above. And what of love?
Don’t start, she laughs, as the wind blows off the sea