stories from beneath the plughole
dusty house 1

You were sat downstairs in the rickety old house and I, alone upstairs, was ever curious to find you.
Dust caked the walls and hung in the air like a sea of fog.
Rotten planks creaked underfoot and disturbed the silence; I winced as much at the sound as at my uncertainty.
Shapes emerged from the dust; swirling patterns that betrayed movement.
I looked at you sitting lazily on the old beat-up couch and you looked back at me and smiled.
That’s when I knew the dream for what it was.
You never smiled, not at me anyway. Not really. (I tried not to notice but I always did.)
My heart sank into my stomach as my conscious memories flooded the house to rouse me from my slumber. 
I tried to forget. I tried to stay.
You grinned knowingly and faded into dust and wishful thinking.
I woke alone upstairs in my rickety, dusty house and sighed.

My attempt at interior decoration from last summer…

My attempt at interior decoration from last summer…


Seeds have blown;
Bloomed through time.
They drift alone,
See what they find.
Smoke on horizons;
Watch it burn.
Fatal decisions
With no return

Build him up to watch him fall
Build him up to watch him fall

It’s in your genes,
Inside your soul
It’s not obscene
This is your role
Run from contentment
With no real goal.
Feed on resentment;
Appease your soul.

Build you up to watch you fall
Build you up to watch you fall

Down inside
He still lives
In her mind.
Hear her cry
"I still need you
One more night…”

Obey her rules
And her demands.
Play the fool
But take her hand
Concede resistance
Embrace your fear
Flee from existence
We’ll end it here

Build us up to watch us fall
Build us up to watch us fall

Mise En Abyme/ The siren

Extract from Dream journal. December 21st, 2012.

The last day on earth. That’s what the Mayans and the faceless voices of the internet said. None of us really believed it. We’d pretend, of course, make light of the paranoia that welled in the air. My friends and I joked about it incessantly throughout the day, R.E.M and EUROPE played on repeat through unseen speakers, an obvious joke that outstayed it’s welcome after only a few plays. Despite the jovial dialogue, something played on my mind. An itch in my brain that defied definition… A forgotten memory that part of my subconscious regarded as important, or an intangible foreboding of things to come? It was hard to say which.

We walked through the local park, my friends and I, still laughing about the impending apocalypse, when a piercing noise filled the air and stopped us in our tracks. An impossibly loud siren wailed like a thousand steam trains filled with burning cattle, it swept through our brains like a dreadful realisation, like a forgotten dream recalled. I turned to my friends. We weren’t smiling any more. I don’t remember all of what happened next but I do recall waking in a cold sweat, struggling to breathe. Whatever happened, it terrified me.

I went about my day, the dream faded from memory though, being “The last day on earth”, I retold what I could recall to my friends, playing it off as an amusing coincidence. We continued to mock the so-called-apocalypse for the rest of the day, though in the back of my thoughts something didn’t sit well. I tried to recall my dream, though it only returned in incomplete bits and pieces. The sudden siren in the air jogged my memory. It called through the air like the harrowing screams of a thousand mothers witnessing the cull of their children, it drenched every part of our brains, permeated even those primal places that lay forgotten below our thoughts. A terrible truth forced it’s way back into our memories. We’d chosen to forget it but it refused to be ignored. “Look at me”, it would say without words. “Look at me”. Tears rolled down our faces, and we’d turn our eyes to see what we all knew had been there all along.

I awoke soon after, sweating, tears welling in my eyes. I don’t know what I saw. The relief of waking immediately expelled such traumas from my imagination. Despite this initial trauma I continued my day as normal. By the time I met up with my friends this afternoon I’d all but forgotten about the dream beyond it’s passing mention in jest. Today was the last day on earth, or so said the Mayans and the faceless people on the internet. None of us really believe it but we pretend. Make light of the paranoia that wells in the air. But something still plays on my mind. Something intangible. I’m forgetting something… I’m sure it’ll come back to me though.

The night I went out for coffee and ended up in Welfare.

For a time, some people used to ask me about Sunrise Festival, which I attended in the summer of 2013. Sunrise was, for the most part, an excellent adventure with many tales to tell, though I’m only ever asked about one tale in particular. This is the story of the time I went out for coffee and woke up in Welfare.

It was sunset on the Thursday evening. My team and I had spent the day trundling our bicycles through the mud and rain; ‘Festival Logistics’ somebody had jokingly called us, though I don’t remember anybody laughing about it.

My friends and I had slumped back into our camp, fallen into our tents and idly made our evening meal which, being typically ill-prepared, we ate with tent pegs, having forgotten to pack cutlery.

My, admittedly scrawny, misused muscles ached warmly and deathly fatigue had set in deep behind the eyes. My plan was to call it an early night, crawl into my sleeping bag, bury my head under a bundle of clothes (to drown out the blaring techno) and grimly await the stuffy tent-oven that would inevitably char me from my slumber the following morning. The rest of my team had other ideas and opted to explore the festival. Sadly, it seems bundles of clothes are terrible at drowning out loud electronic music and even less effective at quieting my internal dialogue so I opted to join them after all.

I trailed them for a time, bopping my head awkwardly in time to the music; a stealthy imposter amongst the oblivious crowds. Fighting a losing battle with my own sickening insecurities and anxiousness, I found myself in a moment of detached clarity. This place, with it’s frivolous, grinning crowds, with it’s garish, strobing lights and loud blaring electronic music… this place was not intended for the likes of me with my social anxiety, sullen demeanour, my sore, light-sensitive eyes and penchant for orchestra. Looking around I noticed that my friends had wandered off. With no further ties to my surroundings I too scurried off into the night to grab a coffee.

Eventually I found a café that specialised in falafel. Recalling the lack of knifes, forks and firewood back at camp, I purchased some supper and the aforementioned beverage before filling my pockets with wooden cutlery and wandering back towards techno-hell in one last ditch effort to find my companions before returning to the sanctuary of my tent.

Lazily sipping at my coffee I sat down near some other suitably crusty-looking festival goers to roll a cigarette. After a time my eyes adjusted to the glaring lights which danced through the clouds of dry ice. I began to enjoy the spectacle, and lost track of time making idle conversation with the people nearby. Upon finishing my drink, now bitter and tepid, I concluded that my friends had been lost to the night. Finding my feet I stumbled out of the tent.

The cool air against my face felt immediately strange and disorienting; it was as though I were falling at great speeds in different directions, like tumbling through a whirlwind. My eyes perceived little more than incoherent blurs and the music drifted in and out of comprehension. There was a surreal rhythmic pounding in my skull and each of my heightened senses became distorted. With a sense of urgency I knew that I’d have to return to camp. I made it about fifteen meters outside of the techno tent before my spacial awareness disappeared completely.

A thousand thoughts flooded my brain all at once; what the hell was going on? Had I been drugged? Something in the coffee? The falafel? Had I picked up someone else’s drink back there? What the hell was going on!?

Crawling on my hands and knees I dragged myself through the cold, damp grass. Occasional shapes would jut out of the darkness and, though pretty terrified and miserable I tried my best to navigate, grabbing the sides of vehicles, tents, fences or whatever came to hand. Occasionally I’d stumble into a steward or security guard and ask for directions, though verbal instruction would prove completely useless. Despite my clear distress, one group of security guards suggested I follow the yellow brick road before cackling amongst themselves and walking away.

I remember falling to the ground in exhausted despair after maybe an hour or two of wandering through the cold. The rain continued to beat down, soaking through my clothes and chilling me to the bone so I crawled underneath a parked van for shelter. Hopelessly lost and incapable of navigating my surroundings I resolved to sleep there and wait for the sun to return and illuminate my path to safety. I lay there for what seemed like an eternity, whimpering and praying for oblivion. My brain lay entombed in the thrall of existential dread, perceiving space-time as a horrible, unmoving, uncaring monolith. The pointlessness of existence assaulted me violently, unendingly, and I was powerless to retort with anything but further strings of terrified whimpers.

Despite my best efforts to fall asleep and my delirious acceptance of my ultimate doom; the cold would, time and again cause me to involuntarily shiver. This would, of course, rouse me from my desolation long enough for the fleeting notions of survival to kick in and drive me back to my feet to resume a last-ditch-effort to find camp.

The rest is a fragmented haze, but I vaguely recall being convinced that I’d probably die (and feeling mostly disappointed that my life would end so anticlimactically) and timidly uttering “Um… hello!? anybody? someone help!”. A desperate plea that, on many levels, I thought futile.

After more directionless wandering I ended up laying in a soggy sandbank to evade the wind, indeed the festival took place on an old golf course. From the darkness a beautiful woman approached me. Seeing my distress she took my hand and guided me from my misery.

Though I recall very little about her looks, I do vaguely recall being awed by her beauty. Her hair, I believe was worn in light red spirals though it mostly fell in blonde streaks around her shoulders. Her eyes glistened with a warm, friendliness that I immediately trusted.

We walked for a long time, through darkened muddy paths between canvas and trees. Her reassurances dispelled my despair as I, shamefully, fluctuated between the persona of a small lost child and that of a feral, wild animal. Eventually she led me to a large tent filled with vaguely concerned, if perpetually amused faces. I removed the damp coat that had seemingly melded with my exhausted limbs and lay with my head on her lap, occasionally uttering an apology that she refused to accept. “Don’t worry.” she’d calmly say, between her assurances.

At times I would forget where I was, certain that I still lay out in the cold and dark, that I’d imagined my rescue, and so would frantically attempt to clamber back into the night, though she settled me down each time with a patience that’s rarely found in this day and age.

Eventually I regained enough clarity in my thoughts to operate my phone and contact someone from my group who arranged to meet me and assist me on my way back to my tent. Excited by this change in my fortune, I regret to say, I forgot about my saviour and left for my rendezvous without giving proper thanks. Indeed, I never enquired about her name and have only the vaguest memories of her visage. When I finally reached my tent I curled up and lay still, unable to sleep as the world around me spun. After chain smoking through the remains of my tobacco I eventually fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

I awoke for breakfast, strangely excited to retell my tale to the group, which I did, perhaps in a more jovial tone than it deserved. Frequent chuckles permeated the camp, elements of my story were disbelieved, specifically those of my rescue. Whether or not they were convinced by my tale, I can’t say, though they certainly seemed appreciative of the pile of wooden cutlery I produced from my pockets.

On Saturday evening, I stood with my friends deep in the crowd of the main stage. The ordeal of the night in question had been mostly forgotten by now, such was the density of experience at the festival, when, out of the swelling ocean of bodies around us, two vaguely familiar looking people approached me, grinning widely and waving their hands excitedly;

Hello Taran! You probably won’t remember us but we were with you in Welfare the other night!”.

Indeed, I barely remembered them, but the barest hint of recognition seemed enough to overwhelm me with gratitude. I expressed my appreciation with excited gusto whilst once again apologising for being such a burden. They went on to enquire if I knew the identity of the mysterious woman, indeed they seemed as awed and bewildered as I. Later that evening I’d stumble upon one of the stewards I’d met on that night who would also corroborate the story, but offered no further insight into the identity of my saviour, suggesting that she had been my guardian angel.

The festival ended a few days later, and the events of that night would pass into memory and later doubt, but to this day, I still feel that pang of existential dread whenever I go out to get coffee, I still look for the girl in crowded places, hoping against odds that we’ll meet again so I might give my thanks, I still bury my head underneath my clothes to drown out the din of blaring techno, and I still recoil in the damp and dark, eagerly awaiting the next Sunrise.

An old self portrait I dug out of the studio. The words appear to be from a poem I angrily wrote at around the same time… Cheery.

An old self portrait I dug out of the studio. The words appear to be from a poem I angrily wrote at around the same time… Cheery.


Mountains fall
Whilst waves rise up
To greet his wounded soul,
His c
rimson pools in seas of rust

Tired as stone;
His eyelids roam,
Blind Idris finds his hole
Then drifts into wild dreams of us

Voices call
From far below
Places only he knows;
In depths too dark for mortal eyes

Words of praise,
a sense of place
And rare beguiled approval
in a realm where he’s despised

Mountain Rant (11th December 2012)

Whilst looking through my old writing files I found something I wrote late last year whilst going for a walk in the mountains in the night. It’s not great, but here you go all the same.

As I write this I am sat upon the rocky summit of the mountain that I call my home.
It’s dark; approaching 5AM. Sitting here like this has been my ambition since before I left my bed yesterday, perhaps longer if I take into account the wanderlust that’s preceded the notion, though I must confess I walked up here somewhat apprehensively; the dark certainly does it’s best to evoke at least a splinter of primal fear and I can’t say I’m completely immune to all of that hysteria. Even so, I’m glad that I pressed on; The sea of stars glistening above me and the crisp frost underfoot reassured me and beckoned me forward. It’s simple things, like this, which make me glad to be alive.
From here atop this rocky mound I can see the cities and towns to the east, partially obscured by the treeline. The lights shimmer in the distance, quilting the skies around them with a fading gradient of rust… no stars shine over there, and, whilst it saddens me to think so few people in that direction can share the view of tonight’s sky, the cumbersome nightlights of civilization do look quite nice from here.
To the southeast I see a solitary orange light near the crest of an adjacent mountain- perhaps a fire, if not another intrusive speck of civilization… It rests on the outskirts of the glaring light pollution from the east so the skies seem fairly devoid of stars safe for the occasional dim specs that punctuate the corrupted dark.
To the west I see Taurus rampaging through the heavens, Jupiter resting just above his left horn, brighter than anything else in sight- even the cities to the east appear dim in comparison. To the left of Taurus lies the Dog Star, a menacing red dot that flickers ominously from the abyss and even further left, approaching the south, is a strange flickering light of many colours. I’ve observed it from my caravan many times and I suspect it’s a planet.
When I first arrived here I tried playing some music through my computer, Holst specifically, but that was short lived. As beautifully composed as The Planets is, absorbed in the comfort of my home, up here in the vast windy silence it felt crass, artificial… an unnecessary intrusion into a world in which I am the guest. It’s difficult to shake the feeling that I am a tourist here, an embarrassing visitor in realms I do not fully understand and therefore cannot fully appreciate. The laptop in my hands does little to ease that perception. 
The cold bites at my hands and I think back to the radiator back in the caravan. The distant sounds of traffic and aeroplanes echo through the valley as constant reminders of the world I sought to briefly escape by coming here tonight.
It dawns on me that I haven’t written in so long that I’m having trouble even thinking of what to say. In spite of the beautiful landscape around me the discomfort of the cold stifles my imagination, as does the blinding whiteness of my laptop screen.
Even out here in the wilds I spend too much time looking at this pale screen and scraping through my head in search for any gems of wisdom or prose, but all I can muster are tired platitudes about the universe being beautiful, or how it’s a good to be alive. Perhaps that’s what’s important, as derivative as it sounds.
Closing my laptop in a last ditch effort to take in my surroundings, I sat quietly watching the skies and listening to the gentle howls of the wind. A fool who wonders into the wilderness expecting revelation. Not tonight.
Walking back I continue to watch the skies expectantly, occasionally being delighted by falling space-debris, occasionally jumping in my skin at the rustling of wildlife. I think of all the other people who find themselves outside tonight pondering at the stars and I wish them good luck on their way, and as I peer at the lights of civilization I bid them good rest.
The stars seem brighter now as I walk back into the yard, Taurus peeking from behind the roof of the house. My walk in the dark comes to an end for tonight, and whilst it may not have been the enlightening experience I’d hoped for, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. Goodnight Jupiter, Taurus, and all the other nameless jewels, I’ll be sure to admire you all again tomorrow.



We live as we dream. Alone.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Posing for photo,
Pretending not to see you…
Betrayed by a smirk.
  • Posing for photo,
  • Pretending not to see you…
  • Betrayed by a smirk.