This is a love story. From boyish brogues to bigger heels, simple bumbags to serious bling – it’s a love mega-mix. O and the sky the sky black sometimes like petrol and the rippled fluorescent spectrum and the wavy white threads of the tower blocks and the red white black buzzing tunnel and the tarmac and the rain and traffic and trains and Kings Cross as a girl where I was a glue sniffing truant NO when I carved his name in my arm with a knife like the top birds used or shall I wear red NO and how he kissed me under the weeping white threads of the tower blocks and I thought well as well him as another and then I told him with my lips to tell again NO and then he asked me would I NO to say YES my truant and first I put my hands against him NO and pushed him away from me so he couldn’t feel my tits all tiny NO and my head was buzzing like mad and NO I said NO I won’t NO.

This is a wank. Rediscover the thrill of head-to-toe armour, booted and hooded in wank. Flawlessly chic – amped up with crystal and hologram. White leather gloves, red velvet gloves, black fingerless mittens. The long arm, hand, red fingernails measuring the size of the world. Size of an elephant, size of a plum, size of the Blackwall Tunnel.

What she was what she is what she will be

What she wishes she was what she is

She is

Scoffing at one end

Shitting at the other

Kicking on all four corners


In or out of her head


Centre a grimmer gloom


Vulva going through the motions


Muscles shot with warmth


Numbed with cold black ice


Skidding on spindly shanks

Flapping her furry tongue

The sun will bounce off her handcuffs


You will see her for what she is


The dogs sink their teeth deep enough for her to see


This is a home. Contoured combat gear has an easy hero edge creating an otherworldly mood ideal for sleek service on the home front. Face like dough, eyes like pitch – I didn’t know she was a junkie, I thought she was a witch. Her tits were flopping jugs of flesh held in place with nylon mesh. She had scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers, stinky knickers, she was melting not burning, shrivelled not charred.

Our romance was a rubber duck



Quacking bad luck

We clung to its wings

It flew dizzy high

Up and away

In the sky red sky

Me at the bottom

Her on top

Getting stuck in

With her sweaty man-prop

Hunt the duck of romance

Live on the crumbs I grope for

You can see, you are allowed to see –

Welcome to my artifice

A simulated edifice

Fit for any orifice.

This is a life. Frothy, frilly and fabulous – ultra-feminine life in subtle hues takes prettiness to ravishing new heights. Sliding out of her cot she creeps amongst the deep spangled folds of big dark. Standing beside her parent’s bed she unbuttons her eyes to the night. Holding her hand in front of her face she watches it mutating in twinkle trails. Mother’s head is an orchid sprouting octopus tentacles supporting woodpeckers on ladders scaling cakes. Father’s humped back is a roller-coaster transporting zebras marching snowmen inside toppled bloody buckets pouring maidens crying ‘Enough is enough’ from the rooftops of homes for hell’s bells. Lifting the blankets she nestles inside the warm cave where his legs curl.

This is a game. A rough-cut and ragged game in unbleached shades of hessian and hemp revealing a raw, earthy elegance. She whispers: ‘One night as I slept with my cheek on soft pillows he smashed the exposed left side of my jaw with a mallet – next morning, he couldn’t remember why. He didn’t break me but he loosened my hinges. Now I smile on the other side of my face, I can’t turn the other cheek, all my kisses come out side-ways and it hurts when I say far too much. I say far too much.’

This is a funeral. The beauty of this funeral is that it’s only really noticeable when you get up close – it’s then that you can see the exquisite fragility of the fabric. Tracey is on her back with her ankles behind her ears, wearing a traditional arousal outfit: thigh-high plastic go-go boots, matching armpit-length gloves, a scaffold contraption for her unwieldy knockers, no knickers and a black mask with its mouth-hole unzipped.

She clenches her pelvic floor. Her buttered buns dimple. An ill wind ruffles her beef curtains.

She is immersed in deep, cold love

Love freezes into ice-cubes

Fills her open goblet

Rattles against her tombstones

Melts on her tongue-twister

Trickles down her trinkets.

Love freezes into shafts of ice

Love is pumping her

Shove-devil decades

Big, cold love

Eases into her touch-trap

Plugs her eager beaver

Rogers her hot dumpling

Drip, drip

There is nothing

Nothing but more love.

This is a masterpiece. To-die-for detailing and divine drapery in floaty tulle give this heavenly masterpiece girlish embellishments and sugar-coated glamour. Snakeskin loafers – red oil paint splotched on left sole. He bought her those proper silk stockings in sensible shades of ochre with the shaped foot and seams – the seams that absolutely had to be dead straight. When she was arranged to his satisfaction and folded in the magic shag-shape, then he would wordlessly trail his turpsy fingers along her golden section and, cushioned between tight suspender straps, take her from behind. Always the same routine. Each and every time. No foreplay. No afterplay. He liked to do it the exact same way in various public locations: beer gardens, car parks, bus shelters, but most of all in his chilly white space with his camera aimed at her face. So he could observe her later. One time, the smoke from her anti-climax ciggy set the old-fashioned fire alarms off. Everyone ignored the clanging of the bells and they rang for two whole days.

Parting her flaps with one sure thrust, he heaves his dip-stick out and in and he’s scumbled.

This is a child. From loud animal pockets to safari feathers and beautiful batiks, this child is swinging to a tribal beat. You will never be able to kiss her again. That was when she loved you – all over the kitchen sink. You watched her taking a pull on her fag. Calmly, she stubbed it out and approached you, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. It was the time of your life.

This is a flower. Ride the body-con trend with sporting surfer pieces in skin-tight neon flower or rubber scuba-black. Two heads bobbing out at sea. Underneath the calm surface – synchronised slow-motion hand signals – their private parts, ready salted. Geezer with stuttering stick of rock. Girl with stargazy eyes. Leaving you on the beach with the sandcastle and his enthusiastic son – who came out with that old chestnut about you show me yours show me mine. That novice winkle nudged inside his trunks. That budding bush sulked against your gusset. Feigning instant sunstroke, you skedaddled: singing, moving those tiny fingers out and in your roaring ears. He sent you a postcard from Butlin’s of a red white black model railway.

This is a stain. Off the catwalk, look for sculptural cut-outs and symmetrical corsetry seaming for subtle stain credentials. And the train shunts in and out the round mouth of the tunnel. Louise is tied to the tracks. Father is shut in the cupboard upstairs with the women who burnt down the house. Mother is floating two inches above her princess-size bed, spread-eagled and shrouded in quilts, yodelling adult riddles. Black smoke is billowing from her aching cake-hole, her tongue is blistered and scorched, her eyes are swollen red slits – one staring up at the ceiling, one staring straight through Louise. The floor is tilting to meet Mother’s claws. Mother is running on the spot. Mother’s hair is on fire. Her crowning glory is a white wall of flame. It is her fierce halo. She is a sainted martyr. Mother is croaking like a bullfrog. Ninety-nine soggy white pellets are gushing out her gob in a stomach pumping projectile smacking Louise full face. And the train shunts back out and back in the tunnel, in time with the history of orgies.

This is a dream. The modern spin? To primp for a dream employ: strategic zips, swinging tassels and many menacing studs. Doctor Martens – fringed with sawdust. He always insisted on supreme coital cleanliness. He did not want the whiff and tang of sex. Odd then, that the only position he truly enjoyed was the legendary 69: her on top with her deodorised pussy poised above his freshly shaved chops, whilst her scrubbed and flossed teeth sheathed by glossed lips gobbled his sanitised member. She mastered the art of gulping his goo in one tidy motion – to preserve the pristine sheets and avoid losing her concentration when imagining he was somebody else, like maybe her Uncle Arthur, or sometimes, Shirley Bassey.

Parting her flaps with one sure thrust, he heaves his sugar-stick out and in and he’s dove-tailed.

This is a warning. Warning makes a victorious return. Wild but polished – aspire to poncho unpredictable and forgo excessive frogging. Frida is lounging on mounds of fruit. Cacti tickle her toes. Sticky with juices, slick with oils, flirting from behind her orchids – she fires apple pips from her punnet, her botty swells raring and ripe, her melons are overgrown booty – she’s a prize-winning hot-house cutie beauty.

She clenches her bony fist. Her bruised banana splits. A rotten wind rifles her papaya.

This is a chorus. More than a blank canvas, chorus focuses the eye on form and line and runs the gamut from innocence to power. The ghost of the girl who died in your bedroom stands guard at the foot of your bed. She smooths your covers. She strokes your brow. She blows dragon breath wreaths above you. She watches over your fumbled confessions. She says it doesn’t matter any more if your dreams clothe the poor – you shall be resurrected.

She fibs.

This is a woman. Don’t be afraid. Pile on a dazzle-belt, a glitz-bag, an ad hoc clutch of gilded chains. Make this woman your own. Suede desert boots – pigeon-toed. He used to deal whiz cut with vitamin C, to keep the punters healthy. He took hefty snorts of his cheap nasty medicine, so did she. The focal point of their room was the massive round mirror throwing wrong shadows up the wall. After the pub they’d stay high all night – him on his throne of razor blades, her in front of the mirror, executing intricate amphetamine gyrations – watching her, watching him, watching her. He told her convoluted stories about his double-jointed ex, the extremes her limbs would go to and the length of her double-barrelled name. He always wore Marigolds, favoured a cucumber, seldom used his tool. Each dawn brought the psychosis chorus and down came the thundering downer, pelting heavy metal sewing machines with rusted serrated needles stitching seams criss-cross her brain, as she struggled in her stubborn corset, tearing at her own flesh. To avoid apologising to the neighbours, she pretended she had lost her voice. She had lost her voice.

Parting her flaps with one sure thrust, he heaves his joy-stick out and in and he’s yapping.

This is a moment. Indulge your exhibitionist streak. Decorate the shortest moment with eye-popping patterns that demand attention. She sees a pair of bare feet way below her, dangling above the cold deep, and closer but still at some distance, two tiny hands cupping the world. Her neck must have been all of a rubbery mile long – tubular, jugular, retching.

This is a lover. Harness that bubble of excitement. You’ll be hankering after powerful blasts of dip-dye madcap beneath hardest double-faced lover offering waxed alternatives to coquettish milkmaids and nudes. Eva is doing the dog on a breeze block with mechanical repetition. Cloth covered cord circles her targets, her pubes are matted with glue, a web of latex stretches from inside her gloopy pudenda, looped in hectic tangles right across to the far brick wall. Looks like a team of drunken confectioners have drizzled toffee hallucinations in a brawl. She is stuffed with expression, eccentrically abstract, reeking of chemicals and industry. She is done up like a dog’s dinner. She is all in and all out for you. She is a raging robotic dog releasing the membrane cocoon.

Dog croons at the strutted beams above.

Dog winks.

Dog widdles.

She bares her bleeding gums. Her buffered bumps wrinkle. A toxic wind gusts about her strudel.

This is a celebration. Counterbalance all the flouncy celebration with wooden clogs or a ballsy pair of love-handles. Mother’s heart is a splendid cut-glass grenade spinning in her starvling rib-cage, flashing black white warnings from its fancy facets, revolving in go-faster circuits until its flashing red – that’s when the train has a nervous breakdown, crashing to a halt in its tracks. Father is sealed in the cupboard upstairs scrabbling with his id, muttering about morals and morons. Louise is doing her homework. Louise is doing her Saturday job – sticking price tags on underpants in Littlewoods. She’s squeezing her spots, smuggling biscuits to bed, writing in red ink to a pen-pal. Louise is watching the clock. Unwinding white bandages of broderie anglaise wave from Mother’s erect bullet nipples. Handing Louise her fat leather purse, she spits out a succulent riddle: ‘A moment on the lips, forever on the hips – go get yourself fish ‘n’ chips.’

This is a man. Man to fall head over heels for. Utility underwear, towering collaborations, inside-leg ultimatums. Cheapest trainers in London – anti-fashion stance. He got sent down from Oxbridge all because of her – she hid his essential equations in her well-preserved vanity case. On their abacus fingers, his too clever friends counted the ways up her extra thick double cream slot, while he calculated on her one poison belly, using four squeezy tubes of coloured icing – the six reasons why he could not fall for her. She was:

  1. Too shallow
  2. Too trendy
  3. Too painterly
  4. Too common
  5. Too much of a fish
  6. Too attached to her favourite pillow

Too late – he was smothered in smitten.

She called him her dream-boat mathematician conversationalist. He only talked to her when he was pissed. She writhed to be worthy of his intellectual perversions but she shrank beneath the severity of his illogical stiff upper lip. He longed to see her used by strangers – suggested she write this story. She wasn’t quite up to it then.

Parting her flaps with one sure thrust, he heaves his memory-stick out and in and he’s saved.

This is a memory. Sheared and frayed memory, ripped and peeled back as though made from sawn-off arms with unfinished edges. Go ahead and come undone. Georgia has grown a show-stopping flower. Uncoiling her legs she parts the furred petals and investigates her stigma and stamen. It is an unfurling gigantic new flower. She is Our Lady of the Labia. She is Queen of the Quim. Her flower is the size of an elephant. Her flower is the size of the world. Her flower is the size of your brain.

This is a breakdown. Well, it had to happen sometime. That fiercely aggressive breakdown, stacked as tall as tower blocks, pimped out to the max, pumped up on platforms and digitally manipulated. Naked flame-haired teenage girl with palest freckled fried eggs holds a silvered toy Concorde against the greenest grass, bluest sky you’ve ever imagined, dreamed of, seen in your blind life. With eyes like saucers of wonderment. With eyes like UFOs.

This is a picnic. Delight in a mind-blowing, international picnic of redefined looks and all out gorgeous boudoir people at a sartorial smash. The family’s black dog must die. Louise is obediently watching the vet administer the fatal injection. Louise has been chosen for this task because it has been agreed Louise has no compassion. Louise has a derelict heart. Hers are the stains and wrong shadows. This is the morning of the day of the night of the adult riddles.

This is a tourist. A versatile tourist goes all the way. Travel anywhere, making an effortless evening entrance in a strip of sheer embroidery. She often falls in love. She was cut on the bias. Fear slips liverish down her legs. Loss thrills from her fingertips. Defeat twiddles her thumbs. Classic examples end above the knee. The tulips die. The sugar runs out. Her ten cavorting toes make complicated doodles with the crumbs.

This is a love. Sun-ray pleated lies enter love supreme and cleverly coordinate with everything. She will wear her stargazy eyes. He will descend in his cowboy heels, using all his worst words, probably wearing a suit.

And for those occasions when love is too little: red the thread of the buzz, black the thread of the tunnel, white the thread of the undulating tower blocks.

And for those occasions when love is too much: night the nylon shift, sleep the dog electric, dream the fibbing wild card, love the big cold deep.

Hold me close, I’m very small.

~ by yearzerowriters on March 18, 2010.

31 Responses to “SMALL IS THE NEW BIG”

  1. Wow. I’m still trying to process all of it, but just wow. This is superb. There are so many things going on, so many references, all these words used to mean something that they usually don’t. I see runway fashions and textile terms mixed up art and — just all these visuals mashing together to create this world that’s suddenly become very sexual with very few sexual words. But not that it’s about sex, because if you look at the words, most of them aren’t. It’s this whole transferrance of worlds, like the fetish and bondage seeping into our runways these days, which seeps into our everyday fashion and apperance. It’s the complete mash up, and possibly confusion, of worlds transcending each other.

    Then again, those are just the words. The rest of it is even better. I just adore you work. It’s nuts.

  2. Thanks, Sarah, for such a close reading. I do avoid especially, using the word ‘fuck’. There was one in there when you read it but its gone now. Happily, I found an alternative. I swear like a trouper. Those words mean nothing to me, for fuck’s sake! 🙂

  3. Wow, Pen, this has changed a lot again – title, of course 🙂 but the ending is completely different – I’d love to know the thinking behind it – it has an almost hymnal, definitely communal, incantational feel in those last couple of paras (very similar to what I was trying to do with the last para of the very first post I put up here, Sitting Comfortably Round the irtual Campfire.

    Ah, just got the other thing it reminds me of, that last section – of coiurse, that Dylan Thomas raging against the night thing (which, of course, I had in mind when I was writing too).

    I love this piece – you know I love it. It’s prosaic and poetic, infinitely sad and intensely funny, sexual and sexless, a landscape of joy and bleakness all in one.

    Keep coming back to the ending – it’s so different from anything you’ve done before – feels like you’re moving out of the privacy and intimacy of your writing. I wanna hear you you talk about it 🙂

    • It’s also like the music at the end of Three Colours:Blue. Very very good thing

      • I haven’t seen 3 colours:Blue (yet), but I was thinking about Damage often with this piece because I wanted to avoid any victim feelings.

        • Wow! I LOVE that film. And the book’s even better – must lend it if you don’t have it.

    • ‘subjecting some poor sod to an intense 1 to 1’ – that’s me at parties that is and why a) I never go to them anymore and b) I never get invited anyway…

      ‘Memory-stick’ member – love that. Think you have a similar approach to words as I do, which is to strip ’em down and sew ’em back up in new contexts, sort of like chop shop cars. I often wonder about the words used like this, in that they’re kind of stripped from any visual association and only exist for their meanings (being redefined by association) and of course their poetic rhythm. Don’t know if you have the same feeling?


      • Yes, strip em, sew em. Absolutely. But No, I have opposite feeling, every word is an object I can see clearly, I could draw them ALL,& they have colours,etc. they are sculptures, or plants or grey bricks… or tiny Tonka toys… or faberge eggs… & I can turn them around in my hands & see all the different sides & features one word can have, the things it can say when its on its back & some of the things it says are its literal meanings, some are purely from the sound if you pinch it or what it does when you spin it in circles (it throws shadows, i can see them)(oops, now its throwing up) or take it out for a visit somewhere special & it turns purple & smells posh. Crikey, this sounds demented.


  4. More wonderful prose poetry from the inimitable Penny Goring. This may be my favorite of yours so far.

  5. Very good point. I think we haven’t really thought about the kind of thing we put up. What I mean is
    1 – being a bit hippyish, we sort of leave it up to people to post what they want – we just happen to go through different but often coonvergent phases I think
    2 – we have projecty things – for example we did the Valentine’s, and the Secret Santas. Currently the First & Worst, and coming up we have a collection dedicated to the Higgs Boson. But apart from that, the only real structure to postings here is that Saturday is article day, Sarah and I post too much poetry for Oli’s taste, and we tend to plug our gigs. BUT
    3 – this site is only part of what we do – we also have novels to buy and download – they are, by nature, more conventional. We haven’t been snippeting from them much recently because I think we thought people might be fed up of them and we don’t like plugging stuff we have for sale because it feels rude, but we have another batch of releases soon so we’ll be doing more
    4 – what we originally intended when we started posting daily was that people could get to know each of us, and our different styles, and very much then pick and choose, dip in and out of their favourite authors, and what have you.

    I’m sure the tone will vary – I’m now fully back to Life Drawn Freehand, so expect my (bad) efforts at lyrical women’s fiction; but I think we will always probably vary along the spectrum of conventionality, and allow readers to find which voices are, and which aren’t, for them.

    We have a new batch of members joining us shortly as well – who knows where they’ll take us.

  6. Thank you, Alison
    1. you’re the second person to mention the black background in a week so I have a feeling that may be changing – my ONLY worry really is whether people’ll still know it’s us?

    2. context – I think we always make it clear when we’re posting extracts (and everything else is complete) but maybe we should be more rigorous with the “short story”, “flash fiction” etc tags

    3. buy buttons – you will see that we do have a “buy our books” thing in capitals. Not 100% sure how to make that more prominent in WordPress, but I wonder if we could have, at the end of people’s pieces, “if you like this, you can download the author’s work or buy the paperback here” or some such, for those of us with downloads/books? It would have to be a consensual agreement, of course – probably authors would choose whether or not to do it.

    Thank you!

  7. I’d just like to say how much I enjoyed this piece. It has a raw power to adjust one’s mental perspectives as one reads it. It’s brilliant; nuff said.


  8. Penny, I loved this live and I love it now. The imagery isn’t really up my alley, but it is undoubtedly great. At first I found it hard to connect with your stuff, but it has gotten under my skin now. That last line used anywhere else would have been trite, but following on from everything that you put before it, it’s heart-breaking. Also, as much as you deal with these themes, you never forget the humor, and I love that. You remind me so much of Diane DiPrima, except that I like you even more.

  9. I had the same experience when reading this when I first read Howl many many years ago. There I have said it for the world to see. Like Howl I think it shall change a little in meaning every time I shall read it. Why you ask, because I will see someth8ng new. Someday I hope it will become an old and comfortable freind.

  10. It’s funny how often I pull people up on authonomy for starting paragraphs with the same word. But THIS is in a different class!

    • Simon, I think the key is in what Ken said – this is very similar to Howl in its scope and cinstruction, and there the repetition also works really well. It does need to be handled exceptionally to work, though – but Penny is able to pull it off!

  11. I love this, Penny, like all your work I’ve read, for the way you craft your particular emotional force with structure and language so that I can get it; I’d miss it any other way. You make me *feel* it, in my head and my chest, of course, but in my mouth, too, the texture of your words on my tongue.

  12. Wonderful. Like Ken, it reminded me of Ginsberg, with its high energy and free flow (“O and the sky the sky black sometimes like petrol and the rippled fluorescent spectrum and the wavy white threads of the tower blocks and the red white black buzzing tunnel and the tarmac and the rain and traffic and trains and Kings Cross as a girl where I was a glue sniffing truant”). And, like Dan, I thought of Dylan Thomas, partly for the rhythm (“where I was a glue sniffing truant”/”prince among the apple towns”), partly because of Penny’s inspired, unpredictable and unusual word choice – “he’s scumbled” suggesting that, like Thomas, words are sometimes selected for their musicality rather than their precise meaning? Also, like Thomas, Penny’s humour is never far away, and it’s a similar sense of humour. (Thomas has Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard say “before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes”. Penny has “He used to deal whiz cut with vitamin C, to keep the punters healthy”).

    Like all great work, it improves the more you re-read it – like a painting you never tire of.

  13. that rhythm…i admire you so for being able to maintain such a rhythm! not necessarily because of its consistency (after all, we’re talking non-linear here!) but because of its magnetism.

  14. Great performance. I like the constant and constantly contradictory statements of certainty [this is x] The fashion magazine cut and paste trying to paper over a real person.

    Side note: Listen – it is a bit hard to read the WOB text, but don’t go making this site all web 2.0 looking. Maybe a black on grey for the main column and black all around. And keep the navigation looking like a challenging pose poem.

  15. Alison, my whole interest in writing is exactly a non-linear prose poetic style. The human mind is not linear. Character is not linear. Dialogue is far from linear. Yet the rules of syntax means that the written sentence is linear. For me that renders it a poor tool for getting to grips with the human pysche. Of course the rules of syntax are there to enhance communicability, so one human being shares a base with anotherin order for them to understand one another. For me this is the challenge, especially seeing as so much slipsaway between any two people trying to communicate, since words are imprecise and have multiple shades of meaning. So I always go back tio the words. they have primacy for me above anything (except perhaps metaphor). I think all YWO writers have a deep interest in words and language that is not being replicated in the majority of contemporary writing elsewhere. Other than that centrality, I don’t see say my work having a lot in common with the other YWOers and I suspect they would say the same about how their work stands in relation to mine.

    I am not interested in plot or story, because I don’t believe people’s lives really unfurl in this way. But I would never descry a writer who did.

    Again, this is only my personal feeling, but I think the novel as it currently stands is little yunchanged from its original form 200+ years ago. They no longer speak to me in the 21st century. I’m just trying to move it on. Whether i can take a readership along with me who agree is a whole different issue.

    • I think that’s hit the nail on the head. The very first reason (prime directive?) we started the site was so that writers would have a place to write the way they wanted, free form all commercial or external restraints, and I think we have to retain that at the centre of what we do. Obviously that means different things to each of us, and I think and hope there is a place for people who love Marc’s way and hate Heikki’s and those who love Heikki’s and hate Marc’s – which is why the tags are important, so people can find and follow writers, and browse having discovered. The one thing I hope is always true is that readers, whatever they want, will always find a warm welcome, and a courteous response, because we truly are grateful for every single person who reads anything we write.

  16. “The beauty of this funeral is that it’s only noticeable when you get up close.” and “Hold me close, I’m very small.” leave me close to speechless. xxx

  17. Last to the party as usual (funny, almost typed pastry there, just as well, I’m good with crumbs) and again, not sure I have anything to add here – this is not something to discuss really, just to experience – in Eliot’s words, as if through a magic lantern, ‘the nerves in patterns on the screen.’

    There are books, stories, we discuss, that we break down the bits and pieces of (or not), there are authors whose history is filtered through their prose, whose fantasies become something of our own. We know who these people are, their books are on our shelves, or once were, or maybe it was only in college, out of a textbook, the first time you read Kafka or Ginsberg or Joyce. Someone was watching you with a stick, trying to pull the ideas out of your head – what’s it all about, Alfie? Does it matter?

    I do not know what the kids are reading today. I don’t know what the literary anthologies in classrooms look like. I’ve seen the ones in the shops and its all the same old stuff – no one is writing today, not a single professional, who can tear off their professional veneer for a moment to recognize ART when they see it. I strolled through a Barnes & Noble earlier today and it was just Gloss and Glamor and 20% off.

    Art is unreadable today because of it. It is unreadable and no one is going to buy it – because the business of it, the need for professionalism is so very much at stake that no one is willing to point out the emperor isn’t wearing his knickers. I’m going on here and there is a point and that might be, simply – we are not good enough for this. Don’t you dare show this to your kids because they might actually feel something for a change. Might get them thinking. Remember that first thing you ever read that blew your mind? We’re wading in that territory again.

    I have a fantasy in my mind that one day a 17 year old is going to be sitting at her desk in her university English course and she’s going to open up an anthology, 21st Century Masterpieces, say, and she’s going to flip through the pages (actual book, not a machine) and there, she will find names familiar to anyone who reads here. She’ll see Goring, Penelope J. and she’ll read Small is the New Big and her eyes will light up in delight and confusion. She’ll raise her hand and the real discussion will begin. We won’t be there – but that’s the wall I want to be a fly on.

    I know this took a lot out of you, Pen – it takes almost as much to read it – and I’m sorry there aren’t enough of us now who appreciate it fully – but I think, I hope, one day, there will be. That’s my wish for you – and for all of you, really.

    Sorry I took up so much space. Again. For someone with nothing to say, I do ramble. I’ll go punish myself for a while now.


  18. i have read this a number of times and find it extraordinary.
    thank you penny

  19. I get this. It’s powerful, even painful sometimes but I get it. The rhythm, pace, and sense of it all. I love the colours and the music and sounds.

    The only thing that felt a bit out-of-place for me was ‘Woof.’ That word just seemed to come out of nowhere. Of course there is reference to dogs a couple lines later, but I thought that this didn’t quite fit with the overall brilliance.

    Having said that, it’s stupid to obsess over one silly word when the rest of it is so clever.

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