Sunday, May 30, 2010

the third circle

This night had no beginning, has no end.

We no longer drive. We climb in the cab and let the city move around us. It rolls past the window like a dodgy model city on an off-centred plate, crowds of tiny figures toppling against each other and calling out beneath the great grey lamp of the moon.

And the work keeps coming, job after job after job.


They rise up and link arms, fifty bingo-winged Tiller girls advancing arm in arm, sequined support stockings, diamante slippers, feathery alarm pendants, high kicking an inch then falling in a line, left to right.

Anxiety attacks.

They scramble over each other, all hands on deck, a freaked crew of foundering sailors scrambling up the steps of the ambulance as the bulkhead bursts and the windows crack and the tail lift spits rivets along its seam.


They surf out of the bars and clubs on boards made from crushed fast food cartons, ATM cards and hair gel, crouched low, arms spread wide atop great breakers of blood and vomit, whilst their friends shout encouragement from the taxi stands: he’s never been like this before; her drink’s been spiked; he’s only had a glass or two; she’s got asthma.


They run in to each other, merge, rise up roaring as an unconvincing creature from the deep, suckered with weapons, smashing a bottle over its head with one tentacle, poking a beer glass in its eye with another, pushing itself over, slapping its beak, strangling itself, calling 999 on one mobile phone, filming itself on another, whilst we stand off yawning, watching the sou’westered police wade in with landing hooks.

But then, just when I realise my head has been twisted off and stuck back on upside down, the shift is over. In the space of an extended blink, someone has reached up, switched off the moon, wound up the night. Suddenly – unaccountably – instead of the Third Urban Circle of Hell, I’m on a charming country road, with plasticine trees tottering past the window of my little red and yellow car, and choruses of cheerful birds looping and fa-lah-lahing in the blue.

A hedgehog doffs his cap.

And stands there, smiling and stuffing his pipe, as the sleepy little ambulance figure gets kissed good morning, and carefully tucked away in a matchbox.


paul said...

wow. incredible.

martine said...

I always like coming here,
I always feel like I see something I wouldn't anywhere else
thanks for sharing
and for doing what you do

The Explorer said...

Had the Entonox been leaking in the ambo that night? ;)

Wonderfully surreal descriptions, that are nevertheless beautifully clear images of how it happens. The only possible soundtrack to that could be "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".

Rach said...

Wow, Spence, where do you get these from?

Switched of the moon??? and hedgehogs stuffing pipes, it doesn't get much better then this!! xx

Sam said...

I've been nights this weekend, I'm continuing into the week as well.

I can completely go with your descriptions! My fuzzy head will recover sometime after Thursday morning when I re-enter the real world!

Anonymous said...

I love this! Sadly, I can identify with the bingo-winged fallers :)

ViatorT said...

If there were a facebook style 'like' option...good piece Spence!

Nurse Wannabe said...

Love it!!!!

Jean said...

hmmm...your version of Alice in Wonderland?


uphilldowndale said...


Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much, Paul & Martine!

Hey Explorer! Hmm - Entonox. I think when I get that tired if I did take a toot on the Noo I'd find myself in another galaxy far, far away...

Hi Rach - I'm sure I did see a hedgehog smoking a pipe. But it might've been a farmer - I'm a city boy, really.

Hey Sam
I don't think nights are good for anyone, specially not me. It's not getting any easier. Maybe I should think of something else to do!

I don't believe you about the bw's. Surely all that knitting gives you a pretty good upper arm workout? :) x

I used to be on Facebook but came off because I got too freaked out by the wall. All the minute by minute comments, it made me feel strangely anxious!

Thanks Nurse Wannabe!

Hey Jean
If it was Alice in Wonderland, I think I'd be the Cheshire Cat (especially round about half six in the morning - all that's left of me a semi-transparent smile in the sky)

Thanks UHDD! :)

Thanks for all your lovely comments! Thank god I'm not on nights for a little while now!

ViatorT said...

If I fail my a-levels, and I'd have to place the blame'd probably be Facebook...


Spence Kennedy said...

... Fakebook ... :/

lulu's missives said...

Oh my gosh Spence!
Brilliantly poetic scenarios.
I first thought 'Peter Rabbit', but Alice would do too...
Twas a brillig piece of slithy writing.
x jo

Spence Kennedy said...

Night shifts def make me gyre and gimble in the wabe. :) x

lulu's missives said...

Oh I've missed your writing...been so busy with assignments.
I do love a good mimsy every now and then. xx

Spence Kennedy said...

Hope the course is going okay :) x