"An ever-intriguing writer."
"A genuine talent."



Northeast Veering Northwest 6 Or 7 Occasionally Gale 8 Later

I’m been out chasing cumulonimbi
in the lowlands for the past four days,
and eventually they’ve led me here.
To the so-called Fun Coast.
To the very brink of the North Sea.
A bracing north-easterly gale is howling along the sand.
Beaufort scale 8 and rising.
Bottons Pleasure Beach is closed for the season.
The donkeys have all been sent to the glue factory.
I park the SAAB 900 Turbo near a low coastal wall,
squeeze on the handbrake, and open the automatic sun-roof
to allow the polar breeze to swirl around the cockpit.
According to the Met Office, the odds of being struck
by lightning in your lifetime are about one in three million.
Higher than your chances of ever winning the lottery.
However, between the years 1942 and 1977,
U.S forest ranger Roy Sullivan was struck
on no less than seven different occasions,
and always survived to tell the tale.
Minus a toenail and a eyebrow or two.
Not once did this man from Shenandoah
go off in search of the lightning bolts,
and yet always, the lighting bolts seemed to find him.
I watch through the windscreen as the squall line
moves off in the direction of the Dogger sandbank.
Heligoland was renamed German Bight in 1956.
Finisterre became Fitzroy in 2002.
With any luck, this will all make some kind of sense in the end.
Though it’s true, I have my doubts.

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A man hangs upside-down from the ceiling.
The upside-down man’s name is Gísi Örn Gardarsson.
He’s a founding member of Iceland’s Vesturport Theatre
and comes from a Mid-Atlantic gymnastic background.
Gísi son of Gardar is using his aerial prowess to bring to life
Franz Kafka’s nightmarish tale of unsuspecting
travelling salesman Gregor Samsa;
who awakens one morning
transformed in his Czech bed
into a quite monstrous vermin.
Kept permanently visible in a topsy-turvy Escheresque
upstairs room, Gísi son of Gardar’s transform-ed salesman
is two-parts cockroach to at least one-part Chris Scharma.
Constantly contorting, campusing, mantle-shelving and swinging,
quite literally, from the rafters of The Lyric Hammersmith’s main house.
Chris Scharma, by the way, is a famous American rock-climber. I looked it up.
Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ was first published in 1915.
That’s less than 10 years before his slow painful death from TB.
Kafka was a man who felt “condemned” to write.
But a man unwilling to view writing as a viable profession.
A man who simply didn’t believe it was
something which should be done for money.
He is known to have given strict instructions to his friend
and literary executor Max Brod, that all of his manuscripts
and all of his papers were to be destroyed upon his dissolution
(may his glorious soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life).
But luckily for us, Brod chose not to comply with those dying wishes.
Not so long ago, I attempted to visit Herr Doktor Kafka’s grave,
in Sector 21 of Prague’s New Jewish Cemetery. Alas, I arrived too late.
Finding the iron gates closed and padlocked shut for the night,
I had to content myself instead with a trip up the nearby Žižkov TV Tower.
From the observation deck, at 328-foot above the city,
I watched the sun disappear behind a Bohemian cloud
and collapse into a red dwarf on the horizon.
I took note of the oversized and faceless sculptures of black babies
which were crawling up and down the polished steel
of the Žižkov TV Tower's Soyuz 7K-11 pillars,
but not one of the black babies looked much like Gísi Örn Gardarsson.
Or, for that matter, the famous American rock-climber Chris Scharma.

Vesturport Theatre Company

watch Chris Scharma in action

Kafka's grave