Ghost Haddock

Appears on:
Sway CD1
Strangelove LP (Bonus track)

         Jeremy Handlebars loved Sarah Jane Thomson,
         Sarah Jane Thomson loved Jeremy Handlebars,
         They were going to be married,
         And they were going to spend the rest of their lives together
         And be very very happy
         And that, as Jeremy Handlebars so often said, was that.

         Sarah giggled,
         It wasn't quite the proposal she'd imagined,
         But that was Jeremy all over once he'd made his mind up
         He was just so decisive she thought,
         And she wished that she could be like that too.

         Jeremy said that it was destiny that had brought them together 
         And that no one, not even he, could defy the will of God,
         So there was no use in either of them fighting it,
         Or even pretending to,
         It was more a case of ironing out the practical details 
         and making sure everything ran smoothly on the day.

         I mean, there was the question of the cake,
         And the flowers of course,
         And then, who to invite,
         And then, who not to invite,
         I mean, where did you draw the line with a thing like this?

         Sarah smiled as she stopped listening, and drifted off,
         It was true, she could still remember that first day they'd met,
         As vividly as if it was now,
         And her attention swung back to five years ago,
         And that car boot sale in Norwich,
         When she thought of how she might nearly not have gone,
         She shuddered.

         Sarah's parents lived quite near Norwich,
         And on the weekend in question,
         She had gone back there on a sort of a visit,
         Her mum had phoned her up in one of her hysterical states.
         Between the sobbing, 
         Sarah learnt that Dad had started 
         drinking whiskeys in the morning again
         This time he'd threatened Miss Hand-me-down-lightly, 
         the Lollipop Lady,
         By sticking a shotgun in her throat,
         And calling her a 'Handmaiden of the devil'
         Before unloading into the air and falling down unconscious.
         It was just another incident in a long line of them,
         But Sarah's mum went through stages 
         where she just could not cope anymore,
         And then Sarah would have to go back there for a while,
         "Shit!", she thought,
         And got on the next train home.

         She knew there was nothing anyone could do about Dad,
         But she felt sorry for her Mum, 
         and liked to tell herself that she loved her,
         And anyway, there was no point in changing 
         the rules of the game this late in the second half,

         It was the usual carry-on when she arrived,
         Her mother cried and cried,
         While Sarah cooked food for her father,
         Which he threw against the walls,
         Then at about seven-thirty each evening,
         And always a little worse for it,
         He'd go outside and sit in his car,
         Wind the window up,
         and shout the word "Slags!"
         Over and over again
         As loud as he could,
         Til he fell down into a drunken sleep.
         Then they'd carry him inside,
         And put him to bed.

         It was these screams of her father,
         That accompanied Sarah upon the walks she took,
         After she'd sneaked out of the house,
         And strolled along the B1172,
         As it meanders its way into Norwich.

         Absentmindedly, she happened upon the car boot sale,
         And really didn't know why or what she was doing there,
         Until she saw it,
         And then everything went clear.

         The gun cost seventy-five quid,
         And, after a moment's dilemma, 
         followed by some mental calculations,
         She decided seventy-five was well worth it 
         to blow that bastard's brains out.
         With glazed eyes, and, to be quite honest, 
         looking like a bit of a nutter,
         She stretched out her hand, 
         with the intention of making the gun hers.

         Now, at that exact moment, 
         a truly rare occurrence in this universe,
         As it really was that exact moment,
         Somebody else she hadn't noticed, and who hadn't noticed her,
         Stretched out his hand to take the very very same gun.
         It was Jeremy.

         The gun, her hand, and his hand, 
         all made contact at the exact same instant,
         Eyes and barrels all meeting simultaneously,
         Giving rise to what can only be described 
         as something like a sort of true human communication,
         A real one off, that allowed understanding 
         to flood through and from and into each other,
         All Sarah's murder impulse was exactly and 
         oppositely reconverted into a passionate desire,
         Meant with a deep-felt admiration, 
         respect and love for this stranger.
         Jeremy said he felt the same,
         So they went for expresso's at Caldidge, 
         which is so convenient when it's just round the corner.      
         They laughed as their stories unravelled,
         Especially when Jeremy revealed coincidentally,
         That he was there looking for a gun 
         to empty all over his Mum,
         And she drank too,
         And when he'd been away on 
         a two week Communications Course, 
         which work had sent him on,
         She had forgotten to feed his fish,
         And he'd returned to find them sunny-side down 
         and motionless, mid-tank.

         He'd loved them fish,
         And he believed that they knew and loved him too,
         They were in fact, unbeknownst to his mum,
         His closest and most treasured companions,
         He told how he sat frozen for a week after he found them,
         And how his only contact with reality,
         Had become the sound of the 
         distant tinkling of smashing glasses,
         Mixed in with the cackling laughter of his mother,
         As she entertained the local drunks upstairs,
         And the stench of ghost haddock,
         Which seemed to permeate the 
         entire accommodation block.

         He told how he'd remained in this trance, 
         The gun theory slowly revealed itself to him,
         And as it cleared, he woke to find himself 
         driving through the outskirts of Norwich.

         As he later went on to explain to Sarah, 
         he had never been to Norwich and it held no
         fascination for him whatsoever,
         In this sense at least, he seemed a 
         normal and sane man, Sarah reasoned,
         And indeed, in many ways, we may assume that he was.

         They, of course, bought the gun as a token of their love,
         Jeremy paid for it like proper men do.
         That was five years ago now,
         And Sarah sighed as she returned to 
         what she understood to be the present time.

         Their wedding came and went in relative safety,
         It was not interesting,
         In fact, the next significant event to occur in their lives,
         Was some five years later.
         With some understanding of 
         this intermediate period is necessary,
         for fuller understanding of what was to follow.

         Jeremy and Sarah melted,
         They abandoned their own identities 
         and grew into each other,
         As time dragged on their branches 
         became so complicatedly intertwined
         That it was impossible to tell 
         from which person they had originated.
         They choked the individuality of 
         each other in a frenzy 
         that only the terror of loneliness will allow.

         Now, neither knew the other, or themselves,
         But clung to feigned personalities,
         They believed the other required of them.
         Their truly sickening and spineless existence,
         Based upon complete reliance upon one another.
         But at least they were not lonely!
         And respite did occur in the form of hobbies,
         Which they pretended to share and enjoy,
         But, in fact, did not.

         The irritation they so often felt for one another,
         They denied,
         But it would surface occasionally in 
         sporadic eruptions of screaming and violence,
         Usually directed at the useless artefacts 
         society offered them as 
         distractions from each other;
         The TV, the microwave, and the dish-washer,
         Sat as cold and silent witnesses to their futility,
         But they did have their uses,
         As the time spent working to get them,
         Would have been time they'd 
         have to have spent with each other,
         In other words, and put much more simply than this,
         They became what is commonly known as a right couple.

         The next significant event, then,
         Was some five years after they'd tied the knot.
         Jeremy was at work, doing his job at 
         "Fishy Business Aquariums",
         Where he looked after the fish,
         And Sarah was at home rearranging their possessions,
         She never did seem to be able to get it quite right,
         She sat down and sighed absent-mindedly,
         Picked up and toyed with the 
         gun which had brought them together,
         Ten years ago that day,
         Which was kept, pride of place, 
         on their mantelpiece,
         And which Jeremy insisted on being kept loaded,
         When it just... went off.

         The bullet went straight through her,
         Where her liver was,
         Blood and bile and pancreatic juice,
         Splattered against the wall behind her,
         The three different fluids 
         started dripping down the wall,
         And it looked like some weird kind of a race,
         And when one drop mixed in with another, 
         they would hurry each other along,
         On the descent to the floor.
         Or when one drop strayed into the path 
         another one had already taken,
         That would speed it along too.
         And when the dripping stopped,
         And it dried up,
         It looked good.

         When Jeremy arrived home to find 
         his beloved floating mid-tank, as it were,
         Something snapped inside him,
         Maybe it could have been 
         something to do with electricity,
         Or maybe not
         But anyway his brain, his brain just shut off,
         And he stood there for about an 
         hour completely motionless,
         And then, when he started moving again,
         He was talking as if nothing had happened!
         He playfully scolded her, 
         as one scolds a small child, 
         for the mess she'd made on the wall.
         And then he cleared it 
         up with a new kind of liquid,
         Which did do the job really well,
         And as he did so, he carried on 
         talking normally to her,
         The fact Sarah had never 
         been much of a talker, and tended to drift off,
         Was an enormous help in 
         maintaining his delusion,
         He also found, that as he 
         dragged the corpse from room to room with him,
         It was best if he heightened his 
         conversation to an excited jabbering,
         And unloaded all the banalities 
         and problems he'd encountered at work,
         Or just talked anxiously about his money worries.
         Either way, it really helped.

         The fact that their coupledom had 
         made them extremely uncomfortable
         in front of other people,
         Due to the absurdity of their false roles,
         Had meant that visitors had 
         not been welcome in the flat for many years,
         So that was 'no problemo' either.

         In fact, Jeremy soon found 
         this new state of affairs rather to his liking,
         Even when the body started 
         to putrefy and fall apart,
         He lovingly transported the 
         separate bits from room to room,
         And carefully reassembled them,
         Just the way he remembered her,
         He really didn't feel lonely at all.

         His favourite bits were her beautiful eyes,
         Which, after they had 
         become detached from the mother-head,
         He kept in his pocket,
         And would affectionately fondle,
         Especially when he felt nervous,
         Or he was outside,
         And sometimes, 
         when the mood was right at night,
         He'd pick up an ear, and place it to his mouth,
         And mumble secrets about love and desire,
         And if he could find all the right bits,
         He'd lovingly carry them to his bed,
         Where he'd fall upon them 
         and wriggle and moan,
         On these special occasions, 
         he'd take the eyes out of his pocket,
         And place them on the pillow,
         And as he lay there writhing 
         on what was left of the body,
         Her eyes would stare frozen cold 
         and emotionless at the ceiling.

         And Jeremy Handlebars didn't feel lonely at all...