Dry Dock

posted Friday, 18 January 2008


Published ‘Purple Patch’ 1993

The town looked, that morning, as if some diligent night-worker had painted the whole place, roofs and all, in gold. But, of course, the hours of darkness had not been sufficient for such a feat. Therefore, it must be the unusual refraction of sunbeams by quirk of cloud – and glinting echo of aircraft and of towering cranes marching through the close-ordered streets towards the dry dock. The massive sea-liner was already covered in worker ants in cloth claps. The sun went under a cloud – and the legendary decorator of the small hours became just as unbelievable as God. Bobby and Beryl skipped hand in hand above the cobbles, heading for the aerodrome: they liked to watch the landings and the people in scarves alighting down the ramps. Bobby whistled through his teeth in the same breath as a large shape skimmed by the skin of its own teeth perilously close to the grey-slated roofs. He wondered if he might dream later of the resounding crash in a quarter of the town which Bobby and Beryl could never seem to reach. The sun reappeared, but the earlier magic had vanished. This time, its mouth was glum-turned and its eyes sizzling tears – not unlike the man in the moon once was, when the aircraft were grounded long in the sad past, before the present knew the etiquette of meeting the future. Bobby left Beryl with a gentle kiss upon her lips and himself with a waft of her breath in both his own nostrils – for later savouring. One of today’s passengers was to be – who knows? The ship’s captain? A new handler of the stars? Beryl’s former sweetheart? Whoever it was, the body lay strewn across the southern roof-reaches – yellow offal steaming under the faceless sun.

This piece (first published 1993) was posted here today (my 60th birthday). This was automatically the next in line to be posted (today) to the ‘Weirdmonger Wheel’ of past published DFL works. Whilst retyping it for this purpose earlier today, I was struck by the similarity with yesterday’s belly-flop at Heathrow airport that made the headlines!

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