Thursday, August 26, 2010

augustus pablo swaby paints

kingston, 1976, photographer unknown.

Overtaken by a weakness to bludgeon the house senseless with a royal flush of dubs, the bleachers echo with the whisper of melodica.

From 10PM to 5AM, its disinfected concrete steps slump tiredly. A stomach emptied. Hosed down with cobalt blue. 

Tubular rails faintly thrumming. 

A late August cough nudging silver wrappers. A polystyrene cup impaled on a straw.

By 1AM, the sirens falter. Subside to a wheeze. The hammers to the south bed down in a pulse.

Pablo never sleeps. Not really. The quiet he inhabits are those spaces between sinew and joint. The dials twitch. The tape rolls. Spooling behind eyelids, the fluttering of moths. East of the Nile. A mile upstream.

The engineering is not so critical as the end result. Chin to midrift. Thickening to a river.


Augustus Pablo started out as an anonymous outpouring, a splash from a carafe, a water bearer.

As with Miles, the climate is tertiary. Around it. Through it. To it.

Written and produced by Horace Swaby.
Mixed by King Tubby.

 ▼ AUGUSTUS PABLO: CHAPTER 2 from "East Of The River Nile" LP (Message) 1977 (Jamaica)

a sanitary riot

On threading our rented trolley
between the aisles of a supermarket,

we acquired a bottle of bath oil.

As one does.

"Revive & Restore", the label advises.
Very calming. Very restive.
When one is prone, susceptible.

It prompts the smoke detector to howl
everytime we pour a bath.
It triggers a bout of anxious scrabbling.

The effect is less than therapeutic.

Sandalwood, surely, is quite innocuous,
a dash or two of an essential tear.

The pepper spray is an alarming twist.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the ponderosa and the ark of the weak heart

Twenty-two floors above, the green JCBs resemble not so much a rise of the machines as their last bronchial rattle. Scrabbling in the dirt for purchase. Listing drunkly like a man with motor neuron disease. Clinging to employment.

The blueprints for fuel efficient housing will be rolled out where they are needed least, I suspect.

They will not be built round here - not in my lifetime, at any rate - nor in those mountainous rural backwaters to the east, where every last penny of huminatarian aid is siphoned to stem a tide of mainiacs squatting behind RPGs.

Or to line the pockets of a few bent shopkeepers.

At present, those compact intended domiciles exist only as a byproduct of social etiquette. I am supposed to peer out my window and enthuse.

"Oh! What an excellent idea! How nice to see all those young men doing something constructive at last."

Instead, I am having none of it.

The solar panels look splendid. The clay brick and whitewashed wall. When the 4x4s eventually pour in behind the fence with offers, those same young men will hurry back to their street corners. Their leaky tenements and blistered detention zones. Brewing milky teas over toast while they huddle in pyjamas.

A scrum of newspapermen will descend on them with cameras - to take their picture as a local concilor rumbles into a microphone and hands out diplomas - and the instant will immediately be interred.

They will tear down the two little houses they have built. Harvest its parts for organ transplant.

They will lay polythene sheeting over the supparating foundations to prepare the space for a car park.

They will chisel and gouge and my contorted face will be at the window still. A little more lined, simian. A monkey. A nun. A sentinel fed by tubes.

A stain.

Gradually fading away to nothing like a sun bleached snapshot. A splash of urine drying in the crotch of a mildly befuddled hospital patient.

There will be no spontaneous protest which has not first been vetted three times over by the politically correct. The first out of the trenches will be mown down as they fumble for the switch on an antique bullhorn. The ones idling just behind will obediently fall back to their beds.

The nursey is what we know. Sand. Gravel. We fasten to its smoke and mirrors even as the generators fail.

The LP which came to be known among collectors as "E-E Saw Dub" - twelve original Jacob Miller riddims mixed and overdubbed by King Tubby at his Waterhouse studio - was a paper sleeve only limited release, mislabelled as Earl Zero's "City of the Weak Heart". Recorded at Randy's and Joe Gibbs, and produced by Ian and Roger Lewis of Inner Circle, these dubs are celebrated in no small part as the result of quite innovative techniques involving synth patterns overlaid by IC keyboardist, Bernard 'Touter' Harvey and enhanced by Tubby.

"Ghetto On Fyah Dub", too, specifically brings Augustus Pablo's contribution centre stage.

While the original vinyl release is much coveted and fetches exorbitant prices at market, the LP was subsequently reissued in digital format - with two bonus cuts - as "King Tubby Meets Jacob Miller in a Tenement Yard" through the independent UK label, Motion Records, active between 1996 and 2007.

Horsemouth Wallace & Santa Davis: drums and percussion;
Ian Lewis: bass guitar;
Chinna & Michael Chung & Roger Lewis: guitar;
Bernard "Touter" Harvey: keyboards and synthesizer;
Augustus Pablo: xylophone.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

royal dub pretender, phase ii

One more dub from Kingston 11.

"His Majesty's Dub" - produced and arranged by Jah Woosh - was variously recorded at Channel 1, Joe Gibbs and Randy's with The Revolutionaries before the reels were taxied over to Tubby's for mixing. On the back of a motorcycle.

Dillinger was far from uptight. At Black Ark, it was business as usual.

Lloyd James and Tubby steal top bill on this release, although Errol Thompson in his role as engineer at Joe Gibbs Studio and Lancelot "Maxie" McKenzie for Channel 1 deserve joint credit. A huge fat blunt. Oiled and smoking.

This particular dub, with all its off kilter eccentricities is a particular highlight, I feel. "Throne of Judgement" is often cited as the riotous jewel in the crown, garnering accolades for its thunderous drum rolls and momentous foreboding, but this one is whacked out joyful. Or just plain daft.

Lloyd James first lit up a studio at the home of his in-laws in Waterhouse, Kingston 11 some time in the mid seventies. A sound system veteran, he learned his trade operating an electrical repair shop from his mother's house in the late 1960s. When an opening was peeled back from the kerb at Tubby's place in Dromilly Avenue, just around the corner, Jammy leapt at the chance.

The district of Waterhouse was alive with cable and valve; a solid state tower built from the ground up, straight off the grid.

By 1977, the prince graduated from mixing and engineering to full scale production on Black Uhuru's "Love Crisis". A major player in the evolution of dub from analogue to those entirely digital rhythms and effects adopted in the 80s, this dub illustrates to what outlandish degree the chicken predated the egg.

"His Majesty's Dub" was eventually reissued through Original Music, a label established by Jah Woosh in 1989 as a vehicle for his own back catalogue and various related productions.

Save me from the dancehall. I don't got the stamina nor stomach for it no more.

PRINCE TUBBY V KING JAMMY: JAH WORKS from "His Majesty's Dub" LP (Sky Juice) 1976 (Jamaica)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

22 unM4SKed

"the hollows" by simon woolham. biro on paper, 2008.

Honest to Christ, that drill. 

A machine gun rattling in its pillbox. Stalling ocasionally, the bit overheated, encased in concrete. Starting up again in earnest before one can catch one's breath.

At 3 AM, I rolled off the futon to close the windows. Hobbled into the kitchen to slam both catches when it occurred to me the noise had merely jumped channels in a stereophonic assault.

The demolition is ongoing. Every morning, too, entire new sections of the M74 have been bolted into place. 

The shoemaker's elves spit rivets all through the night.

And speaking of drills, it would appear I have missed a dental appointment. I am forced to grovel to avoid a fixed penalty. 

As if losing one's teeth is not punishment enough.

M4SK 22 - a collision of postcodes - is an experimental project fusing input from artists Simon Woolham and David Moss. They met in Manchester in the mid 90s, but did not begin making music together until January, this year.

"We make music and videos as products which we work on furiously, then we put them out online and move on to the next idea."

There is no obvious manifesto. Working remotely on passages traded via the internet, each bends the material as the moment dictates; throwing out a curve and letting it float. Simon is a renowned visual artist, David makes music and film. Their product is tested on M4SK 22.

"The Spindle of the Dowie Dens" began as a guitar part recorded by Woolham, with additional strings - piano and more guitar - overdubbed by Moss and relayed back. Moss was keen to to evoke a sense of traditional Scots and Irish melody familiar to him from childhood, and Woolham responded with a spoken word narrative shaped by recurring themes in his drawings and installations.

Looting archived public domain film footage, Moss then developed a short animated visual sequence incorporating stock elements of George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". Musically, the end product is faintly claustrophobic. Full of echoes. Reeds. Inkeeping with the historic ballad which in part informs it, a rhyme of the Yarrow Water running through the Scottish borders. Collected in 18 variations in Francis James Child's "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", first published in ten volumes between 1892-8.

"The Spindle of the Dowie Dens" drags one out of the past by the scruff of a cigarette burned anorak.

Into the nettles growing through the inner tubes of bicycle tyres a child might paint as snakes. Discarded bottles of Buckfast Tonic.

Of course, nothing is linear. Or quite so transparent.

M4SK 22 aim eventually to commit to a series of live performance. Until then, by far the best way to familiarize yourself with their sometimes challenging product is to visit the archive direct.

M4SK 22: THE SPINDLE FROM THE DOWIE DENS from "M4SK 22: The Screen We Face is the Primitive Mask of a Global Society " MP3 / Multimedia (M4SK 22) 2010 (UK)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

banksy may, or may not, have been here

Well. The origin of this post - the inclusion of this one song here, at least - is convoluted and curious. A matter of chance. Straightened roots. Jonderneathica - from Underneathica - certainly provoked, in part, this latest slide into phase 2 of the dub. With timely intervention and nod to Ari Up's mischievous association with On-U-Sound. Her continuing adventure in a black market cut. The role of Keith Levene in aiding and abetting.

And then, more specifically, there was the matter of my friend, Jon - the other Jon, the New Jersey refugee with Tillie from Asbury Park still breathing in his armpit - and his very recent account of how "Staggering Heights" provided lucid relief from "too much liquor, guns, drugs, unhappy girls, poverty and small town life."

Or absolute surrender to a script straight out of "comedy central". 

I did not recognise the sleeve. I did not stop to measure up, or try on the jacket.

In fact, were it not for yet more coincidence - the "Copper Shot Dub" of Roots Radic on a passing bus -  I might have never made the connection. And that would be an abysmal shame.

Recording "War of Words" for Adrian Maxwell Sherwood's London label in late '81, proto dub syndicate, Singers and Players was - loosely - a collaboration between various musicians formed out of celebrated Kingston session players, Roots Radics, and top flight superstars including Prince Far I, Bim Sherman, Mikey Dread. Guitarist, Eric "Bingy" Lamont and bassman, Errol "Flabba" Holt were seasoned professionals; contributing to a string of dance hall hits as part of Channel One house band, The Revolutionaries. Half a decade before the the departure of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare prompted a change of identity, if not direction.

The On-U-Sound back catalogue, mirroring those Kingston launched imprints Sherwood coveted, is an impenetrable tangle of poorly indexed releases. Myriad pressings. Mixes. Much of it, allegedly, incompletely represented in later compilations.

Sherman's "World of Dispensation" from "War of Words" - released through Ed Bahlman's NYC based 99 Records in the US - would be reprised on the dub, "Resolution (Part 2)" on the On-U-Sound sequel, "Revenge of the Underdog" in early '82, but by 1983 Ashanti Roy - formerly of The Congos - brought a wholly lighter flavour to the table. 

While the resulting "Staggering Heights" may be fondly remembered for Far I's splendid and fanciful, "Bedward the Flying Preacher", or Roy's "African Blood" - issued as an appetizer ahead of the LP - closer inspection reveals the following song to be something of a show stealer. Stripped to the bone and fleet of heel.

Gamely dodging bullets. Bouncing over cracks. Like The Clash shadowing Junior Murvin after a bright summer's drinking in the park.

And that is probably exactly how one should hear it, on balance. On a boombox. A ghetto blaster. Not basking in the shade in front of a finger smeared monitor on a Sunday afternoon, fatigued from god knows what or when. The bass tuned out a little, the brilliance of clarity dimmed by a yellowing blind.

Still. I made it to the supermarket. The chilled aisles packed either side with exotic fruits and choice meats. I bought a mango. I smoked two or three cigarettes between underground rides; I endowed my default browser with a new persona; I tidied my desktop.

I watered an orchid.

The skies are ablaze. I will share the mango when it has ripened on the window sill. The cigarettes I could do without, but can't.

Written and sung by Roydel Johnson.

SINGERS AND PLAYERS: SNIPERS IN THE STREET from "Staggering Heights" LP (On-U-Sound) 1983 (UK)

Friday, August 13, 2010

on the route of the 19 bus, again | a detour

Recorded sometime in the 1980s, the rythym track behind this dub appears to have been laid down by either the Midnight Rock Crew or Roots Radics; at Channel 1, Harry J's, or Dynamic Sound in Kingston, W1. The precise location is not so much shrouded in mystery, as clouded - I suspect - by amnesia.

Produced and arranged by Nkrumah "Jah" Thomas, the magic ingredient - of course - could only have been procured from one source. King Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi. Never an exact science, despite what the label might read, Overton Brown cannot be faulted in his supporting role here as sorcerer's apprentice.

In the course of these burning sounds - compiling, in the main, compositions from Thomas - Tubby keeps the dub deep n' loaded, while Scientist's occasionally irritating electronic flourishes never truly underwhelm the mix. 

Their take on "Copper Shot", penned by Don Drummond Jr. and Tommy McCook, is for me the highlight in a wholly decent set.

Leaving even "Ghetto Dub" face down in the dirt. Like so many empty bottles.

KING TUBBY & SCIENTIST: COPPER SHOT DUB (MUSIC IS MY OCCUPATION) from "King Tubby's Meets Scientist at Dub Station" LP & CD (Burning Sounds) 1996 (Jamaica)

attack of the rabbit hole

Produced by Bunny Lee. Written by Bunny Lee.

heh, heh, heh

PRINCE JAZZBO: THE WORMER from "The Wormer b/w The Great Pablo" 45 (Attack) 1976 (Jamaica / UK)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

out of the fish, a dark crocus emerges

According to those annals curated by Ubu Projex, Proto Pere stole under the wire into what was soon to become Ubuttoir De Facto in the city of South Euclid, Ohio sometime in late 1975. Therein seeding the earliest documented shoots of their "Heart of Darkness".

While drummer, Scott Krauss shares writing credit on its definitive coupling with "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" - released on Hearthen (Hearpen) in that same year - the dress rehearsal is anchored solely by Tim Wright's bass; the shadowy weight of an exploratory craft set adrift with one hand pummelling on its rotten hull.

Quite what the cargo is, or where it is going, is subject to conjecture.

Undecided. Agitated. It sails drunkenly on stagnant, uncharted waters. 

Underlining Conrad; foul orchids; the potential for misdirected violence.

In its protean form, it remained unreleased until its appearance on the terminal drive of Cooking Vinyl's "Datapanik in the Year Zero" some twenty-one years later. Its direct descendant, more than any other offering from Pere Ubu, perfectly anticipates the concrete chambers and valves of Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures". Muscle and tendon infused with lead.

Peter Laughner is restrained. Strung out. Focused. Pere Ubu, a coiled tuberous corm.

In one song - one might reasonably claim - stocking a reservoir of refracted dystopia for years to come.

Well. We have been here before, you will doubtless recall. I am infected with the unfolding of the crocus still:

"At times a virus infected spider scrabbling over shards of brittle glass, at others a bleak mushrooming nerve agent, the corpulent presence of Thomas and the nihilistic but hugely inventive experimental tones created by Laughner coalesced into a cold blue flame licking out broken windows in the seedy bars of Cleveland to ignite pockets of interest outwith even America."

That Pere Ubu's earliest Cleveland recordings continue to elicit fascination owes much to Laughner's part in the group dynamic, of course, but does not alone explain it. Those nutrients percolating down into the basement propelled Ubu out of the tombs into the blank triumph of "The Modern Dance" and beyond. Peter Laughner's tragic demise was a wound which Pere Ubu survived. In those days before David Thomas chased out Vachel Lindsay, or outwardly bore witness to Kingdom Hall, the forces which galvanized him seemed not so much biblical as tainted by universal pollutants.

Vietnam. Recession. Listlessness. Fright.

The interment of an irrational optimism which flourished briefly in the 1960s.

Much of the time, I find myself not so much in disagreement with any dire prognosis, as simply astonished that one day continues to follow on the last; an endless succession of crisis and war - disorder - a flipbook animation of human distemper travelling all the way back to Adam and Eve.

One holocaust after another.

So. Same as it ever was. A tangle of angels and words. Jihadi. Pulchritude. 

Mortal combat.

Endurance of the human condition through procreation rather than spiritual rebirth.

The 'p' in Hearpan might be Anglo-Saxon for 'th' - the whole a harp or lyre - but I hear mostly moist flutterings. A deluge of insects.

David Thomas: vocals; Peter Laughner: guitar;
Tim Wright: bass; Dave Taylor: EML synthesizer.

PERE UBU : HEART OF DARKNESS (REHEARSAL) from "Disc V: Terminal Drive: Rarities (Datapanik In The Year Zero)" 5 x CD (Cooking Vinyl) 1996 (US)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

white socks | lost in laundry

Just over a year ago, you may recall, I featured a still from photographer, Wayzata Camerone's 'Glendale Series' after stumbling on an enlightening piece on Nothin' Says Somethin'

Most people, I suspect - passing familiar with Camerone - will remember him as feverish vocalist and player with white L.A. rioters, The Braniacs. Nathan Nothin' also recalls that he ran a "notorious afterhours punk club frequented by X, Blasters, Plugx, Go-Go’s, Fear, Weirdos"; a rotating cast now almost as noirishly delinquent as 1950's mugshots. Flipped over on a sticky ringed bar.

Let's get lost.

Less well known, perhaps, is that Wayzata Camerone was himself an accomplished practioner in 10 x 8. Teaching F-Stop and depth of field in a class in Pasadena in the 90's. Perfecting, I waxed back then, "a hardboiled eroticism perfectly at home in the seedier Californian haunts once home to would-be Hollywood screenwriters and miscreants". Images snatched with all the delicacy of a safecracker in the thick of armed robbery.

Well. Posthumously, Wayzata deserves his share in the heist bankrolled by east coast upstarts of the calibre of a Richard Kern. Should anybody call on me as a witness, I will gladly attest to it.

The Wordpress blog, Wayzata Camerone, is an attempt to set the record straight by executors of his estate. Director, India Jennings recently got in touch with me to the effect that more negatives have been uncovered; "probably made between ’93 and ’94 at Wayzata’s cottage-studio in Glendale, or at a West LA apartment he rented from ’94 to ’95."

The above slice of tail is one of two original prints dusted out of a cottage he procured while on the run. From demons, maybe. A scarlet virus.

It is almost perfect. I would clap my hands, but the ghost of recalcitrance gets in the way. The gnawed shaft of a #3 wood.

Let's get crossed. Off everybody's motherf@ckin' list. 

I know a hit when I smell one. The perfect fairway strike continues to elude me.

WDC is alive and swell. MCB. Not so much drunk with funk, as fine and finnegan; reconstituted in DC.

CHET BAKER: LET'S GET LOST from "Chet Baker Sings & Plays With Bud Shank, Russ Freeman & Strings" LP (Pacific Jazz) 1955 (US)
CHET BAKER: LOVE VIBRATION from "The Incredible Chet Baker Plays & Sings" LP (Carosello) 1977 (US)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a cruel and incontinent punishment

If I did not know it for the broken crock of shit it almost certainly is, I might hazard that my game is cursed.

For some time now, my son has been fond of golf. 

What began simply enough as idle simulation on a games console quickly gravitated to genuine curiosity on the green. Junior clubs were procured and for several months now he has been honing his skills on municipal courses.

Now. Golf is all very well - even old stooges have a weakness for it, I realize - and while its modern form may have originated here in Scotland, I for one have never truly graduated beyond a passing fancy for park life pitch and putt.

Shepherds knocking stones down rabbit holes on the site of the old course at Saint Andrews ? Sounds suspiciously like fallacy through the wrong end of the looking glass.

Anyway. Having previously demonstrated no fear on both the front nine and a driving range, last Sunday I ferried my son by bus to break his 18 hole cherry.

Since kids get in for free I could hardly argue. And since adults similarly enjoy a waiving of fees, providing they are merely there to escort a minor round said sprawl of urban wilderness, I settled on merely caddying. Besides, years of bad posture have taken their toll.

My back is not up to swinging a shortened stick.

As a family, I feel I must add, we also possess a forty year old set picked up in a thrift store, but these are "Ladies Clubs" - each one has this failing branded into the iron like a caution, even the woods - and while I concede there is no real justification for me to turn up my nose, one has to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

I would sooner desist from doing so with a ladies' wedge.

Well. The boy done good. He hit some more than decent balls. He did not tire, or peak too soon, he did not whinge. Nor did I cajole.

So. A good neighbour of ours caught us slouching home, weary but jubilant, and promptly made a gift of a set of full-size clubs. It was an offer I could not refuse, or accept on loan, he knocked on my door and insisted I take them.

For all my reservations, I was delighted. If nothing else, I could do with the excuse to get out there and burn off the bloat, as much as the shriveler's block.

He is a good egg, this neighbour.

Almost but not quite a novice then, I struck out alone to get in some practice.

On the first tee, I sliced my drive into the rough. I recovered with a shot straight into the bunker guarding the green. There ensued several woeful attempts to clear the ball. More buckloads of sand than Dylan on the beach. When I did at last make good contact, the ball sailed respectably aloft and onto the front of the green. My putting was adequate.

Close to exceeding my stroke limit, I did not bother writing up the scorecard.

The next two or three holes went by void of drama. And no spectators to witness me make amends.

On the sixth, a steep incline on a fairly short par three, the wind picked up. Once again I was fighting from the rough. I made the shot. My bag toppled over on the fairway behind me, spilling clubs like Pick Up Sticks.

I righted it and immediately saw that the vintage putter - a Fred Letters' Silver Swan, no less - had sheared clean through at the foot of the shaft. I have no idea why this might have occurred, unless there were some inherent weakness to it when it was cast. Still. It had clearly lasted decades without incident.

I soldiered on.

Somewhere between the seventh and the ninth I lost the vinyl cover to the No. 10 Driver. I retraced my steps half-heartedly but there was no sign of it in all that sea of green. I was glad my neighbour seemed entirely plausible in his largesse. I had no stomach to dwell on, less report, this second loss.

With every subsequent drive, my game deteriorated rapidly.

I made it to the 12th playing the same ball that I began with. At least there was that. Some teenagers appeared over the brow of a hill. Making off with the flag. Whooping drunkly like a tribe of native americans sold down the river for beads.

The green was pocked with litter and plastic bottles. I still made the putt in two.

There I stood on the 13th. "The Wave". A small pond choked with weeds. Farther on, an undulating sculpted feature right across the fairway.

I pressed in the tee and balanced the dimpled ball on it.

My arms and shoulders were aching now, my face and neck awash with sweat. On the 17th, to my left, a father and his two young sons were busy making inroads with a couple of well judged pitches. A pin-seeking chip. The youngest son cavorted cheerfully on the lip of the green while his dad remonstrated without much feeling.

I lit a cigarette and smoked it down to the butt before settling into the drive. Two afternoons previousy, my own boy had struggled with this one. It was a psychological thing. He fluffed two or three attempts before I stepped up to the plate and smacked it high up in the air, a good ten yards or so beyond the undulating horizon.

It felt good. Showing him how to rein in that fluttering dread.

I drew back on the stick and let fly with it. Ping! It smacked down in the water with an almighty splash. The six-year-old on the 17th stopped cavorting and silently watched me fish a second ball out of my trouser pocket. No matter. I was justifiably piqued, seeing as I had made it this far with the ball I started out with, but it was a minor gripe. Sploosh! The second ball fell dead in the water in the exact same spot. This time I could feel the second kid watching me. His father too.

I fidgeted my shoulders and lined up a third ball. Not counting that first ball, I had another five in the zippered pocket of my golfing trolley. What the fuck. I could make it on home with enough balls to spare.

Plop! went the third. The fourth. Now I was seriously pissed and sweating worse than before.

The father and his sons drifted away to tee off on the 18th - "Past Caring" - a little too hesitantly for my liking. I dug out the fifth ball and noticed there was no sixth. Between that distant first fairway and this one, I must have lost one somewhere in the deep grass. I did not remember, but I knew I set out with six.

That Sunday drive could not have been a fluke. 

I wandered down to the edge of the pond and spotted a fat white globe caught in the reeds. I plucked it out of the water and dried it off on the sleeve of my shirt. Well, all right. Now I had a backup.

I squinted at the three of them disappearing over the hill towards the clubhouse and teed up the fifth. An affluent looking bastard in khaki had by now taken their place on the 17th green. I hadn't seen him coming.

The fifth and sixth balls went the same way as the rest. I was out of balls. Humiliated. Emasculated.

I was relieved, then, my son was not beside me to share in any of it.

I stashed the clubs away and heaved the bag up on my back. It felt heavy as lead. Heavier than an unsorted sack full of mail. I have worked for the Post Office, too, you know. I have tossed crates around for the odd paycheck between meals; here and there, this way or that, but never once freshly slaughtered slabs of meat.

Well. I lumbered off that golf course under my cross and carted those clubs the extra half mile or so to catch a bus.

On the way through the gates I stooped to pick up a single ball lost between the vege and chain link fence. I could not leave there empty-handed.

More circumspect men than me might have gone to pieces. As it was, I arrived home to a conveniently empty house and hooked up the hog to get it all down. For posterity. Austerity. An absence of silverware, winning smirks.

There is no home run, I find, in the long run home.