As many of you know, I am a big fan of Twitter. Through its cyber-witchcraft I keep in contact with old friends and converse with strange people I never have, and probably never will, meet. People with beards, people with hats, people with kids, people with cats. It’s an interesting place filled with interesting people. Recently, one of the myriad of misfits, misanthropes, malcontents and musers I follow posted something on their blog. The person in question is a lady operating under the pseudonym of Porridgebrain. She’s one of those artsy types. She draws, she knits, she takes fancy artistic photographs, she also writes. Her blog hosted a wee writing workshop thing until it fell by the wayside last October. It has now, however, been raised from the grave. Once a fortnight a word is posted people write things based on that word, fun is had by all. Last Monday she threw up a post with the prompt of Second, and I thought I’d have a bash at it.
There were a variety of “seconds” I could have chosen to write about, two of which occurred this weekend. I could have chosen to talk about my second time out for social drinks with the people I work with. I could have told you about the discussions of terrible chat up lines, the general off-colour humour. I could have moaned about an ambient temperature sufficient to freeze a man’s blood in his veins. I could even have talked about a discussion I had on my way back to the train station, an essay on just how the Queen would dance if she were to attended a rave. But I decided against it.
I could have described in lurid detail my second meeting with the incorrigible “Brighton Dave” and our wacky adventures through London, cumulating in boisterous rock high-jinks in Islington. I could have gone on to exaggerate the journey home in the falling snow and gathering “weather.” How I feared the trains being cancelled, leaving me trapped in Paddington Station all night. Forcing me to fend off roving tramps who wanted to tear me to pieces and feast upon my gamy flesh, as that is what I am lead to believe the tramps of Old London Town eat: the meat of the lost and unsuspecting. I could have talked of the terror of the wild, untameable bears that rove the station jonesing for a marmalade fix, their eyes bleary and blood-shot, caring only for the next hit of that insidious preserve and mauling all those who cannot provide it. But once again, I decided against it.
There was even the possibility of exploring my feelings on always coming second in life, forever cursed to be just slightly above average. Never tasting the sweet and heady flavours of victory always being piped to the post. Of feeling myself to be a fraud, knowing full well that there’s someone out there who can beat me at whatever I turn my hand to. But this is something that would be too self-indulgent for my tastes, something boring and to which the vast majority of the world is more than familiar with. So I decided against that as well.
In the end I didn’t write anything about the notion of second as a placing or occurrence. I found myself late one night scratching out something about time. Specifically about seconds. the SI unit of time, a fundamental. It took the form of a short poem. Now poetry is not something I have ever been particularly good at, nor something I have ever written much of. The last time I wrote a poem was in mid-2008 while in a pit of blackest depression and almost out of my mind on cheap whisky. They were dark times. The last time I wrote poetry sober was even longer ago, probably over a decade. I was a very different person back then. What I finally ended up with isn’t particularly arsty, it’s poorly structured, it meanders towards the point I’m trying to make without ever really getting close to it. It’s irreverent. It’s a bit sweary. It’s a bit miserable. It’s a bit like me really.
Seconds OutTick-tock, Tick-bloody-tock, Hear that noise? Yeah that insufferable ticking? That’s life that. Falling away in bits and pieces, Moment after curséd moment, Second after second falling away into the past. Seconds are bastards. Smug. I hate smug. Piled on top of each other, Minutes, Hours, Days. It all comes back to those bastard seconds! They’re thieves, Stealing away our lives, In little slivers of nothings, Till it’s all gone. They say time waits for no man, That strikes me as being a bit rude. Like I said: Seconds. Bastards.