The Castle: a two-up two-down semi somewhere in the Midlands. The Grounds: a garden fit for growing 100 potatoes, 10 pumpkins or just 1 small trampoline. Clouds: that fritter the days away, spitting down aimlessly in the dusk, largely without anger.
The Moat: three granite steps to the front door. Sharks: bills like paper fins circling the front door, sharp against the fingers. Shouting: water, car insurance, council tax, electricity, extortion, broadband, telephone, TV license, mobile bills, student loan repayments, red ink bluffs, blackmail, bills.
The Battlements: peppered with spears – the angular spines of books, poetry, the occasional song on the guitar; a child’s laughter in the morning, astringent kisses after £5 wine, coffee and the radio hissing. The Pennants: cerulean, burnt ochre, chrome oxide green, hissing in the wind like a horsehair brush.
The Keep: secret memories, two hours solitude in the gym – the heavy bags swaying to a staccato attack. Songs that set you dancing when no one’s about. The strength of two hands: split knuckles, steel string index figure calluses; palms pale as the shoots that crack the tarmac in the drive.
(Strangers that tousle your toddler’s hair; the secret scent of a lover’s skin that follows you home; the quick chaos of a brawl, fists flailing; fingers that pluck an E minor in the dark evening; the exhilaration of saying what you think. The shock of having it said to you).
Outside as ever, the world, the ages. Dark or light or an ever-shifting tatter of shadows. Sun freckles. The dawn chorus. The cough of the car starting. The familiar roar of traffic. The road ahead dew-dark; sinuous in the morning slick.