Comfort of Wild Birds

A screenplay written for the BFI
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset


The day is still and light mellow.

A serious of shots: the bare feet of a girl, stumbling; the heavy boots of a man; the girl falls, her white dress stained and hair wild; the old man’s (ALECK) face, rolling wrinkles.

ALECK finds the fallen girl. He scoops her into his arms. He carries her across the land. A solitary cottage comes into view.

He struggles to open the door with the girl in his arms. Heavy breath as he pushes through with his shoulder into a small corridor.

Carries her through to a dark sitting room. The mud off his boots drops to the floor.

He lowers her onto a sofa. Pulls her dress back down so it covers her knees and retrieves a red tartan blanket. Her feet are dirty and grazed.

Through the kitchen window see him walk back out across the land pushing a wheelbarrow.

GIRL wakes and rises from the sofa. She surveys the room: picking up objects and running her finger across surfaces and fabrics.

Continue reading “Comfort of Wild Birds”


Correspondence from Delhi

A small boy holds two bottles of water. Kicks a third onto the train tracks. This could be the beginning of something. But he walks off. The bottle rolls. Train moves. Maybe it was the beginning, but the middle was missed, the end couldn’t quite find itself.

You would tell me not to think like this. The boy, the bottle mean nothing. This is what you would say. I suppose there’s that chance to see nothing and everything in something.

I miss you. Do I say? Best not to these days. It’s hard when you have to pretend against things.

Continue reading “Correspondence from Delhi”

Best Society

I shiver, sitting clothed and staring. A silence tuned into waves and sky. The salt holds me still. I am cold, smiling. I have been swimming. November. Scotland, and I have been swimming – point to point – the thought of this makes me wild.

Crushed cardamom and honey: the only way to eat porridge. I toast the seeds counting out five. I like to hold them in my palm when they’re warm. Rub the shells off between thumb and finger. I used to only have time for toast, but now I have time for warm cardamom. And Chopin, I have all the pauses in a day for Chopin. I eat my breakfast on the windowsill wrapped in a towel and blanket. My hair patterns the glass if I pull away, and my toes twitch on the flagstone.

As I lie here, in the bath, I think of you. Continue reading “Best Society”

the poem

Window seat: reading poetry.
Taxis are passing, people with sandwiches and a girl in velvet.
Recently I’ve only had mind for poetry.
Novels are too much, as is the underground
and the look in the eye
as they hand back the change
or have known you in many ways

Maybe it’s
the overloading
of it
and something
crawling from under the distractions of
asking for just enough
of the right words
to cup in the palm
to swallow

You don’t pull Luther out the back of the cupboard for one principle to hide him behind the Holocaust for another. History is a tow truck that’s skidded on the M5 and his heading straight for you.

Busy Men

I’m gunna be a busy man
Like the busy men you see being busy on BBC
But not a bad busy man
I’ll do good things with my busy words
I’ll be the busy man to help the un-busy people

He’s back
Slouched in chair, Tiger in hand
He’s flicking
TV clicking
He’s the king
With his Tesco mobile ring

Ma’s in the car
Orange, red, white
White, red, orange
The tiger’s eyes beaming
The garage cage gleaming
TJ’s car’s round the corner
Ma won’t know he’s back

Click, click, lock in key
Thud, thud, boots off
Tesco bags ruffle
She stops, just before the TV light, so she’s
She can sense it:
Boots still on
Fizzle of a can
King to her princess

Ma tucks me in
Every light off
‘Read me a rhyme’
‘Not tonight little man’
‘Come on Ma, come on’
‘Ma’s got’a make TJ some chicken’
Closing door, then, just head
‘Did you let him in?’
‘Sorry Ma.’
Bang, ring, silence

Resonating ringing
Circling screaming
Sudden smash
Bone in crash
Teddy safe, pillow clinging

Ma’s eye’s gone black
Not brown black
Black black
My eggs are all wrong

TJ’s phone’s on the table
His jacket on the chair
There’s a dirty plantain plate sinking
He’s staying, this time

Swing-ing, swing-ing, smack
Smack, smack, swing
Swing-ing, swing-ing
Stick’s broken

Why don’t I call him Pa?

Ma says you got’a be a brave man
A brave busy man
You got’a say when it’s not right
You got’a say, or things’ll never be right
Just like cleaning the dirty egg pan

Maybe the chicken boiled

It’s five, the sun’s up but the pillow’s up
I got some chicken rice n’ peas
Ma says I got’a stay in my room tonight
Read the rhymes
Read ‘em quiet

TJ’s voice is loud
Boom, boom, booming
Ma’s voice’s screeching
Screech, screech, screeching
TJ’s voice is louder
TJ’s voice wins this battle of beats
Beat, beat, beat
Beat, beat, beat
Black and red

Red and black
Like that plane last night
Black and red
Red and black
Like her last night

Dribble, dribble, dab
Dab, dab, dribble
Dribble, dribble
Ma’s leaking

I thought TJ would go last night
Ma thought TJ would go last night:
She didn’t make him any chicken
TJ didn’t go last night
TJ wants his throne

Tesco bags ruffle
In goes teddy, no pillow
PJ’s go in, no rhymes
‘Put your shoes on little man’
‘We’re just busy people and-‘
‘Busy people have busy places to be’
‘That’s it.’
Why do busy people have to run from lazy places?

Vroom, vroom, vroom
Ruffle, squish, ruffle

TJ will have to make his own chicken
In our palace

Ma says he’s got to learn to be a busy man
Not a bad busy bag-o-wire
But a busy man
To help the un-busy people

Kitchen Taps

‘Kate wore a nice dress.’
‘Yes, Kate wore a nice dress.’
‘She’s always looked lovely in blue.’
‘And Tim-‘
‘His new partner.’
‘His new partner.’
The last car rolled off the drive. They had insisted on everyone leaving.
She tucked blond hair behind an ear dangling an emerald in silver.
‘And the flowers. Everyone commented on the flowers.’ He made no movement, for fear the kitchen would move on.
‘Her fav-‘
A pipe clicked in a cupboard making a sound below her. She turned, body prepared to pick up, or see, a child.
‘The music.’
‘The music.’
Hair brushed back.
The gravel sat silent.
‘I’ll go and-‘ He had nothing to do.
‘-yes, I’ll come with you.’