Musings from the Mind of AAR Kane

The ramblings of a failed student, romantic, wannabe writer and manic rambler.

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The Amaranthine Coinpurse

She carried that amaranthine coinpurse everywhere.

It always lurked in the bottom of her handbag, a handful of coppers or random pieces of foreign change clattering around in its tattered leather confines. She had carried it with her everywhere since the day her grandmother handed it over to her, smiling at the toddler who grinned so widely.

When Jenny Hailes accused her of stealing her ring in second grade it was emptied onto the desk to prove her innocence. The coins bounced loudly on the cheap pine, a thousand mini hammers on anvils. She swept all the contents back in once exonerated (Tommy Smith had taken the ring) and placed it carefully back into her satchel.

When she paid for the tickets to her very first rock concert – a show by the Manic Street Preachers – she unzipped the worn steel teeth with difficulty to withdraw the hefty wad of cash to pay the tout for two tickets. She and Jenny Hailes danced the night away. The purse jingled merrily in her bag to the sound of ‘Australia’.

When Tommy Smith forgot the condom on the night they decided to go ‘all the way’ she tentatively withdrew the purse from her pocket and pulled a prophylactic device from its pinkish-red folds. Tommy pulled the purse away and tossed it carelessly aside as she prepared his manhood. She didn’t remember the frantic fumbling and nervous romping fondly.

When her bag was cruelly snatched from her shoulder whilst walking down the busy boulevard, she wept for the loss of her heirloom more than for the loss of credit cards and a phone. When it was recovered a few days later and the purse lay inside, none the worse for its ordeal and still rattling with loose change, she felt as if a part of her very being had returned.

After the Buick skidded into her and she flew through the air, the purse fell to earth and bounced along the asphalt. The old leather miraculously stayed strong as Kevlar, not yielding its contents to the road. The zipper refused to budge at first to the EMT, almost wary of being opened by an alien hand.

She carried that amaranthine coinpurse everywhere. It lay on the bottom of her coffin, a lifetime of memories rustling around beneath its worn fabric.

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A very quick piece of writing for a ‘Flash Fiction Challenge’ from Chuck Wendig.

Atmosphere (or A Failed Attempt at Poetry)

It’s kind of a funny story, really. Of being choked by a thick atmosphere of desperation whilst drowning my sorrows and thinking about a girl. Of being surrounded by a veritable confederacy of dunces, alone without you. Musing on how love will tear us apart when we’re whom the bell tolls for, when the cracks appear in our bell jar and this one great thing of ours floods out. Fear and loathing will lend its dark touch to all and everything, both flesh and not. The sunflowers will wilt and fall to the chilly earth. The islands in the stream will be blasted into oblivion. The intense humming of evil will infest your brain and lead to aneurysm. And once we’re cleansed of all this, when the sun also rises on this new dawn and we misfits walk this private ground between the winter trees, we’ll call out from the holy bible and scream to a sigh. Nevermind the old disorder. We’ll say our farewells to arms we’ve held before and launch ourselves into love’s sweet exile once again, determined to stay beautiful forever more.

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This was originally an attempt to write a poem by the title of ‘Atmosphere’ for an upcoming competition. In the end I said ‘fuck it’ and wrote it as a more rambling monologue. Kudos if you can read between the lines.

“Get a Job, Scruffy Oik!”

You’ve read it all before in whatever toilet paper passes for the printed press these days. How the unemployed are worthless excuses for British citizens, suckling hard at the teat of the state in between bouts of shooting meow meow into their eyeballs, having superlager fuelled sex in pub toilets and terrorising blue rinsed old ladies the nation over with their armies of illegitimate grandchildren.

Yet we’re not all like that. I for one abhor the vile taste of Buckfast, the Satan’s sputum that also passes as the de rigeur beverage of the Glaswegian ‘giro monkey’. My fashion sense – abysmal as it may be – amounts far to more than tracksuits and trainers, and I’ve not burdened the world with countless wombfruits conceived in back alleys. In short, we’re not all the evil people that make Katie Hopkins and Richard Littlejohn froth at the mouth (to the bewildering amusement of the public).

Some of us are downright normal, or as far as normal goes when you’re a dreamer. The label of ‘struggling artist’ is quite comfortable to wear, I can’t deny it, but reality overcomes the fantasy that writing may possibly provide for me. Autofellatio would likely be easier than securing that lucrative publishing deal.

So with dreams crushed we have to venture out into the big bad world and scrap for what few positions are available. They are few, believe me. If you are of the opinion that any youth with gumption and the yearning to work can find employment somewhere – possibly fuelled by government speeches and whatever journalistic diarrhoea the Daily Mail is releasing on the
populace – I beg you to provide me with some of that delicious Kool Aid you’ve been supping. To match your obviously heavily sedated and hallucinogenic state I’m sure a gallon or so will do. I fear that I have personally killed acres of rainforests to provide the amount of paper for the CVs I have sent out. My ears have gone numb from the sheer overuse of the telephone, and you can only go into a business and inquire about vacancies so many times before you come across like a less-hirsute Yosser Hughes from ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’. Short of offering the full ‘casting couch’ experience to any willing interviewers, my options are exhausted.

When that well is more than run drier than the Sahara, and having grown accustomed to the comforts of not living on the streets, we plod along to the local Job Centre to beg for the mercy of the state. Some of those keepers of the buroo are genuinely helpful individuals sometimes going out of their way to help you back into work. They don’t draw my ire. That hatred goes to the little Hitlers oh so plentiful throughout the DWP hierarchy. The people who expect you to apply to 500 jobs a week, travel 100 miles for a Starbucks interview (on your own coin of course) and will sanction you at a moment’s notice to fill their quota of ‘scrounging bastards off the welfare bill’. The kind of people for whom the Job Shop skits from ‘The League of Gentlemen’ act as a documentary/training video. It is little wonder that so many unemployed people struggle with bouts of depression when these inconsiderate souls are the people whom their lives in some cases depend on.

Thankfully I have the good fortune not to have to deal with the company that defies terms like ‘incompetence’ and ‘inconsiderate’; ATOS. I’m pretty certain that if my mental health issues were even more severe than they are that I were to have to drag my sorry form from my hermitage into their office (like the girl crawling from the TV in ‘The Ring’), I’d still be declared ‘fit for work’. Even if I were crawling in because my legs were non-existent and I’d had to pawn a wheelchair to feed myself I would wager I’d receive a similar response. Then again, if the ‘good people’ assessing our nation’s infirm can work with their heads lodged firmly up their own rectums then I can see why they reject so many cases.

What happened to ‘cradle to the grave’ welfare? The will to help out our common man, our neighbours on these isles? David Cameron spoke of ‘compassionate Conservatism’ when he took the Tory throne almost a decade ago. Compassionate Conservatism? Don’t make me laugh bitterly. I’ve seen more compassion from a rabid rottweiler let loose in a nursery. Iain Duncan Smith once said a visit to Easterhouse had changed his view completely and vowed to fight poverty and unemployment – proof if more proof was needed that a politician’s promises aren’t worth the future chip wrappers they’re reported in.

It becomes more evident to me by the day that the old Conservative strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ is once more in play, turning the middle-classes against their fellow citizens in an attempt to justify welfare cuts that resemble a Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Why else would we see such tripe as ‘Benefits Street’ gracing our televisions, or ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ displaying the horrors that universalism has wrought on Britain, or the incessant shrieking headlines of the London press condemning the bone-idle scrounging Northerners sapping money from the great capital and her leafy suburbs. Poverty porn at it’s finest. Forgive me if I don’t join in with the mental masturbation it spawns.

It’s a sad state of affairs. It might be the naive lefty in me that yearns for a day when we care about our less fortunate citizens rather than call them all the names under the sun. It might be the borderline Communist in me that wishes that people could be provided for without having to utilise food banks (a recent phenomenon that depresses me to no end). But what do I know? I’m just a scruffy Weegie university dropout who has struggled to afford the basics occasionally. I’m sure our esteemed Cabinet, almost all millionaires to a man, have a solution to our ills.

Now if you excuse me, all this ranting has made me thirsty and old Gideon Osborne’s tit shan’t give out the milk of human kindness forever…

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This piece was written for an evening called ‘Grumpy Old Writers’ hosted by the Elgin Writers group – and a good evening it was too.

A Harsh Realisation

It’s a realisation I’d hoped I would never have to face up to – something I could put off like shaving what pathetic excuse for facial hair I can grow. Unfortunately, one recent night when sleep decided to evade me and the overthinking engine kicked into high gear, I was almost forced to accept something I had always wished untrue.

I am remarkably ordinary.

On the face of it it’s hardly a life changing revelation, but nevertheless it is one that disturbs me immensely. Even to look at me at first glance there is a breathtaking normality about this man. Average height, average weight (thank Scotland’s love of fast food for skewing that slightly), average looks, average shoe size. No distinguishing features to make out. Bland brown hair and bog-standard brown eyes encased in specs. An unremarkable mouth and a distinctly plain chin. If I am to open my mouth, my voice is neither lyrical or captivating.

My intelligence could be called ‘above average’ but I have little to show for it. Amongst my acquaintances I can count phenomenal actors and actresses, sensational singers and musicians, amazing artists and photographers. I know characters who will excel and likely become doctors, lawyers, journalists, teachers, even maybe a politician or two. What do I have to show for all my intellectual pursuits? An abysmal history in tertiary education to follow an acceptable record in state schooling. Friends have tread the boards at the Edinburgh Fringe and written long, interesting pieces for the national press. They are all extraordinary individuals.

My greatest achievement to date is somehow convincing a woman I seldom deserve to stick by me for two and a half years.

In employment my life could be called stop-start to put it incredibly kindly. There have been more false starts to my work life than a romantic tryst with a premature ejaculator. The longest job I have had – not counting a volunteer position where I do an adequate job – lasted three months before I was out the door. Much like Wayne Campbell I have had ‘joe jobs’, nothing worthy of career status (and without the collection of nametags and hairnets). Perhaps if I were lucky I’d find a job in some god-awful fast food joint and suck long and hard enough on the corporate cock to climb to an equally awful management position.

Is it so hard, however, to want my life to amount to more than an existence clad in cheap polyester asking acne-riddled teens and grotesquely obese mouthbreathers if they’d like fries with that?

Perhaps if my ideal career was in the medical profession, or finance, or even something along the lines of skilled labour (don’t knock it – there’s good money in it) then I’d be able to pull myself up by the bootstraps, wangle my way back into education and maybe one day reach that holy grail. Life is seldom that simple, especially for someone who has referred to himself in a previous work as ‘imagination’s slave’.

I wish to write, and to be able to live off it. Not an impossibility on first thought – much like fucking on camera any old idiot can do it. Case in point – ‘bestsellers’ such as Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. Yet much like the afore-mentioned sex on film it takes someone with talent to do it well. It takes someone with imagination, interesting stories to tell, a decent grasp on language and bucketloads of time to become the next Nabokov or Orwell, Austen or Bronte. Of those necessities I have at least three.

Ordinary, however, does not make for interesting stories.

I have no real childhood trauma to spin into a yarn. Yes, I was ‘bullied’ – a butt of countless jokes – but nothing so severe as to tug at a reader’s heartstrings. My home remains unbroken, my parents an example of the long-lasting marriage I wish to some day experience. Even my romantic liaisons and friendships from school days of yonder are hardly worthy of more than a paragraph in the unwritten story of my life. If I wish to tell a tale, then from the deepest depths of my daydreams it must come.

I have decided recently that I have but five years from July to potentially make it as a writer. If I have not succeeded in some way or another by the time my 28th birthday rolls around, it seems that life has destined me for other, maybe lesser things. What those things may be, I have no clue, but I’m sure they’ll present themselves in due course.

I can only hope that they aren’t directions to the land of Big Macs.

Let Us Begin…

This is a blog.

There are many like it but this one is mine.

Highly original, I know, but if you don’t know what to expect here then I seriously question where you’ve been for the last decade and a half.