"[S]omething very special indeed .. and it's just an extraordinary, epic song that .. takes you on this rambling, winding kind of storyline, and takes you into strange and dark places."

Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music (describing Wolf in a Woollen Coat)

The Underground Resistance

 

Close to the river, you will find us:

A flickering of susurrant leaves.

Phantasmal and vespertilian,

We are the underground resistance.

 

Your search for meaning brought you to us.

Will you slip your fingers into mine?

I am a wraith: you are a shimmer.

We are the underground resistance.

 

Dance, dance, dance, know that you are noticed.

Come, come, come, I understand your pain.

Dance, dance, dance, you have always known us.

Come, come, come, take my hand, take my hand.

 

I felt your restlessness unfolding.

I feel you drowsily iridesce.

Rhythms coalesce to quicken the breath.

Floating beneath the surface of sleep,

Floating beneath the surface of sleep.

 

You are a shudder in the half-light -

The exquisite arching of a back.

Ghosting unseen across the black earth,

We are the underground resistance.

 

Beautiful to me are your footprints:

Complicatedness written in sand.

Sea to river and river to sea,

We are the underground resistance.

 

Dance, dance, dance, know that you are noticed.

Come, come, come, I understand your pain.

Dance, dance, dance, you have always known us.

Come, come, come, take my hand, take my hand.

 

 

The Rebirth of Reynardine

 

No snare will pin me down, but there are those who tried;

They floundered behind me, blown off the mountainside.

At dusk, a bareback rider bestrides a flighty mare;

The summer's on her lips, and the woodland's in her hair.

 

The woodland's in her hair; the woodland's in her hair;

The summer's on her lips, and the woodland's in her hair.

 

Her lurcher tracks my scent; her skittish mount rears back;

The blackbird's call betrays me. "Take off your mask," she says.

There's something of the gypsy about that girl, I swear:

The taste of her body; the eloquence of her stare.

 

The eloquence of her stare; the eloquence of her stare;

The taste of her body; the eloquence of her stare.

 

When she and I were fox cubs in a tumbling tug-of-war,

Ancient oaks inhaled our laughter, and we their gentle sighs.

I want to drink the sunrise in - to feel her breath once more against my skin,

For Heaven is the dawn reflected in her eyes.

 

No song will pin me down, but there are those who tried:

Balladeers and minstrels, they call me Reynardine.

My tired yew tree limbs seek the coolness of the earth;

This covert's her cathedral of renewal and rebirth.

 

Renewal and rebirth; renewal and rebirth;

This covert's her cathedral of renewal and rebirth.

 

 

Cats with Lasers

 

"I'm thinking: you're clearly the most popular girl in school, and we haven't really .. 'interacted' in any meaningful way before .. Oh, you do know me? Mmm-kay. I am, as you say, the .. 'sci-fi guy'."

 

Precision cloc-kwor-k, slapstic-k Stan & Ollie:

A pair of oddities - a telepathic double act.

 

Let's interface - switch from silent cinema.

Let's break the fourth wall - take up the gauntlet.

 

Could it be she's my Brigitte Bardot? -

My muse, the spark for a smoke-infused utterance.

 

A call to arms, Children of the Underworld;

Swirling closer: a cloud of poison ink.

 

Chilled to the bone,

Kids in blazers;

Looks that kill -

Cats! Cats!

 

Cats with lasers -

Lasers for eyes;

Their interstellar steamship

Blackens the skies.

 

Cats with lasers -

A glancing blow;

We're freaks of nature,

They're the mew-tant foe.

 

"The thing is: maybe you and I could 'hook-up', so to speak - fight back-to-back against that .. rapidly advancing regiment of feline invaders. Yes, they have retro-futuristic hardware, a penchant for vintage military chic, and - there's no denying it - lasers for eyes. But we would have each other .. plus your martial arts prowess, my sonic weaponry, and a formidable assortment of homemade gadgets. You see, night after night, while the world slept, I was quietly preparing for this moment."

 

We put the boot in - flew the freak-flag;

We stood resolute like Morrissey's quiff.

 

Let's interface - plunder science fiction.

Let's flick the V-sign with conviction.

 

Could it be she's my comic strip Barbarella? -

Sensuous lips and thought clouds melding.

 

A call to arms, Children of the far North;

With collars up, let's kick them back to Hell.

 

Cats with Lasers .. [etc]

 

"Look, Rosie: They're leaving."

"From the edge of comprehension, they came. Out of the firmament - out of smoke and flame. One unnamed freedom-fighter, though - perhaps the unlikeliest of heroes - chose to resist enslavement. He was ready for them. He met their gaze. He was not as other men ..

"This is Diane 'Jet' Youdale, her face unrecognisably and gloriously black beneath retreating, steam-driven extraterrestrials, reporting from .. somewhere on the Moors, in the newly-liberated North of England."

 

 

Christmas in the Market Square

 

Christmas in the market square

Where a mighty tree held court.

Local radio came to town for the switch-on.

A brass quartet distilled warmth from the night.

 

Christmas in the market square:

Defiantly cheery - just your sort of thing.

It's a pity, then, that you couldn't be there,

Deliberately losing track of the hours.

 

Dawn breaks across the Vale deep in snow,

From the edge of the Moors to the Dales,

And the last of the winter swallows

Calls to mind unclouded blue summer days.

Painful thinness (little more than a wisp of wood smoke),

Despite a stream of biting air,

Swoops, rolls, glides, caresses the frozen river.

Despite a blast of stinging crystals,

We won't come to rest

By the frozen river.

 

This is shaping up to be

A final set of words -

Words that write themselves

In the snow.

 

Christmas Eve, the market square,

Above the newsagents down by Finkle Street:

A spindly figure knocks back

A miniature bottle of cognac,

And waits for the last of the revellers

Who remonstrates with the night.

 

Unseen, an insubstantial man in the market square

Allows a sharp frost to pick his bones clean.

A fleam of icy moonlight lets the tears flow out.

Deliberately lost, he leaves illogical tracks,

And they lead to me.

 

Dawn breaks across the Vale deep in snow .. [etc]

 

This is shaping up to be

A final set of words -

A last-ditch melody.

Intricately threaded constellations,

Words that wrote themselves now sparkle brightly

In the sunshine.

Christmas in the market square.

A brass quartet distilled warmth from the night.

 

 

Wolf in a Woollen Coat

 

One finger on a synth,

One finger on Rewind.

Welcome to the litter-strewn labyrinth

Of your own mind.

 

Beware, my little hummingbird,

Of serpents in the bower.

Twisted words make a mockery of love,

And are readily devoured.

 

Her confidant - her suitor -

Edges into shot.

Betrayed by him, I am out on a limb;

He's everything I'm not.

 

Late night caller,

I am sorely tempted

To seize you by the throat.

 

I know what you are.

I'll prise away your disguise,

Wolf in a woollen coat

 

Cut to the tavern:

A silent relic,

Back from the dead,

Stamping snow from my boots.

 

Cut to the chase:

Though you wounded me,

I'm taut metal, aged wood,

Flesh and blood and English roots.

 

I'm a creature of the night -

A creature of the dawn.

Bits in-between, I can't get right;

Her queen obliterates my pawn.

 

A solitary beast.

No lust for gore.

I shun the pack for I, too, am a wolf,

And I'll pin him to the wall.

 

A counselling certificate -

Another meaningless embrace.

Welcome to the cold, black hole

At the back of his face.

 

Late night caller .. [etc]

 

I will go first, to prepare the way ahead.

Do Not Resuscitate.

When I'm ready, I will regenerate.

 

I will go first, to prepare the way ahead.

It's okay.

When the month of May comes around,

We will spread our wings.

We will find infinity within.

We will find infinity within.

 

 

Wake Up, England

 

Between Liverpool and Manchester,

And you and me,

I caught a glimpse of God on a scooter -

24-inch flares flowing in the breeze.

I'm losing my way - losing my mind again.

What's more, I no longer care - no longer care.

 

Northern Quartermasters

Abandon café bars;

This town found a reason to reconvene.

 

Wake up, England,

Fetch your coat,

Switch off the box;

See you down

In the basement club.

 

London calls us;

She can wait.

Tonight belongs

To the underground.

 

All the dreamers retreat,

Closing bedroom curtains.

Far & wide, they scheme in the gloom,

Patiently biding their time.

Then a clarion call from a dingy club -

Something momentous about to begin.

 

From London to Paris to Berlin,

Africa, Asia, America, Oceania:

All the people, all the love,

All the hurt.

All the dreamers rising from the dirt.

 

This gilded age

Chills me to the bone.

If there's no scene here for you,

Create your own.

 

Wake up, England,

And give your face a smack.

There's something going down;

Welcome back.

 

London calls us;

She can wait.

Tonight belongs

To the subterraneans.

 

All the dreamers .. [etc]

Between Liverpool and Manchester .. [etc]

All the people .. [etc]

My skin lacks colour, my heart is black.

Falcons and horses - the black plumes of Blue-John .. [rpt]

Pale skin; African heart;

Englishness in my blood, in my blood.

 

 

(A Simple) Tree House

 

"Tear your tree house down," they said.

"Tear it down at once.

Give it up.

Come down, down, down."

 

"Tear your tree house down," they said.

"Tear your platform down.

Paint the town red,

Live it up,

Come down."

 

Jesus wept -

My Lord,

Sweet Jesus of Nazareth.

Heavens to Betsy.

Heaven help us.

Christ Almighty.

Christ alive.

 

Old acquaintances, Death & I

Holding on

To the face of God in a gale.

Can you count and read between my 'laugh lines'?

I'm moving out, moving on,

Moving mountains tonight.

 

My body clock struck thirteen.

Past lives tucked themselves inside

Five stout boxes.

Sundry items were dismantled,

My ghost walked through walls,

And last of all, I'm folded into

Five stout boxes.

Five stout boxes.

 

"Tear your tree house down," they said.

"Tear your airstrip down."

I'm in a fix.

I'm mixed-up - upping sticks.

 

Send a flying saucer down,

Flood this town with light.

My head's in a spin, whirling round and round,

Round and round, round and round.

 

Jesus wept -

My Lord,

Sweet Jesus of Nazareth.

Heavens to Murgatroyd.

Heaven help us .. [etc]