Running over the same old ground

I login in an effort to drag my head out of this bad-B-movie-sci-fi-horror we are living through at the moment, here’s something I wrote earlier…even a collage I did in Europe last century.

What Time? Collage by Bella Basura 1994
What Time? Collage by Bella Basura 1994

Time Warp In The ‘dam

“Sooooo” She drew the word out with undisguised relish “What are we going to do with our last night in Amsterdam, eh?” She laughed, poked him in the ribs and stretched out languorously  across the counterpane, sprawled like a self-satisfied cat. “Our last night as twisted British rock-star and unofficial girlfriend, cut adrift in the city of sin?”
“Just give it a rest” He mumbled. “I’m going to sleep”
“No no no” She laughed “Lets live a while before we go back to our boring lonely adulterous reality.”
He turned away and She could see he was already half way back there, miserable and contemplating meeting his wife again after eight days half-explained absence.
“Look! what do you want from me?” She wheedled

He said “I don’t want nothing”

“Fine, nothing. I’m going to get something to eat then” she was rummaging in the supermarket carrier bag on her bedside table, smacking her lips. “a crisp buttie in a cheap hotel room, hahaha” she laughed.”Rawk ‘n’ Roll!”
“that’s pathetic” he sneered “you’re not really very rock’n’roll at all are you, with your carrier bag of crisp butties”
“yeah, well you’re not really a rock star are you” she countered

He sat up on the bed “I’ve got my following” He was irked.

“Yeah, but not in Britain, eh? Only in Holland and places where they can’t understand what you’re singing about. Are you big in Japan?”
“I’ve got my following”
“What does your wife think?” she knew she was probing to be provocative “Does she think? Your wife?”

“No, she doesn’t think, she looks after the kids and stuff like that, she doesn’t need to think. Will you just get off my case” He switched the light off, plunging the hotel room into the vague neon gloom that passes for night in the city.

She took off her rings, her jewellery and watch, she lay back fully clothed on top the bed. It was one of those sinking moments, she began to wonder why she’d come along at all. It had sounded great when he’d first mentioned the tour, – his first solo tour,  a week in the Low Countries, hotels and food all in, she only had to find the money for the fares. The fares, that was her fare, and – “Could you lend me the money, just until they pay me at the gigs” – his fare too. Funny how his pay had diminished, then disappeared after the first few venues, they’d been living off her savings all week. She closed her eyes in disgust, she hadn’t known about the wife either.

Drifting in half-sleep she ruminated in growing disappointment, she dreamt of their first meeting in the pub all those weeks ago. Dipping in and out of hypnogogic sleep-states, she saw him as a giant tape-worm , all mouth and arsehole, perched on a barstool downing pints, glass and all, gurgling about the losers in the band he’d just dumped, “Losers every one of them, even if they are famous now, deep down they’re born losers” he kept repeating. Was she really so gullible? Had she really been that stupidly smitten with him?

Suddenly, she was wide awake, she peered at her watch in the gloom, the hands on the retro-style dial read 1.35. Amsterdam would still be kicking she decided, plenty of time to still have fun before the flight back at 9am tomorrow. She tucked her handbag into the suitcase – she intended to do the rockstar’s girlfriend debauchery bit to the hilt, no point in carrying valuables around, in this sort of mood chances were she’d lose her handbag in the first bar, best leave her passport, plane tickets and bits in the suitcase. She grabbed her leather jacket, stuffed the last of her dope and cash into the zippered pocket and headed for the door. “I’m off out, looking for some dirty fun. You coming?”

“I’m asleep” the rock star grumbled.

The street seemed uncannily quiet as she stepped from the hotel lobby, she began walking, seeing nobody. In fact, the usually bustling lanes around the hotel seemed totally empty,  every where seemed to be closed, even the trams had shut down. Some City of Sin this is, she thought heading for the nearest coffeeshop.

But even the coffeeshop was dark and so she plonked herself down on a bench, spun herself up a mini-spliff and gazed forlornly into the grimy green of the canal. She wondered when Amsterdam had become so conservative, since when had Europe’s most alive city become a post-midnight deadspot. In the preternaturally tranquil streets she thought she sensed a weird glowing, growing light, as if night were turning to morning. An unusual sensual response, she thought, I must be very stoned, Good Sense, Amelia she said to herself. Spliff done she headed on towards the city’s main drag, the stoned light was definitely intensifying, in fact there really did seem to be a streak of sunrise smearing the east horizon. She crossed the canal into Oudeshans to the charming chiming of the Montelbaanstoren clock tower. One two three chimes, then four five six seven eight.  eight?  Looking up to the big clock face on the tower her heart did a strange faltering flip, she unstrapped her wristwatch and as she turned it through 180 degrees she turned 2.30am to 8am. She laughed momentarily, realising she’d put the wrist watch on upside down in the darkness of the hotel room, she’d had a time warp, she laughed at herself, at the idea of Amsterdam gone moderate, she laughed, even though she’d just lost  five and half hours of her life, and she hadn’t even been drunk. She laughed.

It was full daylight by the time she got back to the hotel. The room was empty, the suitcases gone, he’d already left. There was a note for her on the dirty rumpled bedsheets. “I’ve gone home. Where’s the money? I couldn’t even get breakfast! Where are you?”

Bella Basura
August 2019 edit

Reposted december 2020
999 words

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Tales From the Laboratorium

Voice over: What IS Doctor Gordon doing? Why, he’s dawdling and meandering through                        the Bella Basura back catalogue…

Cue:  scary, slow, plinky-plink avant-garde 1970s electronic music

A title sequence of still images: zooming out from blurred meaningless close ups in b/w                                      that take the form of simulacra – a man eating a magic mushroom, a                                 terrapin, a needle and a  spoon, the Willendorf Venus, an inverted                                        pentagram, the great pyramid of Giza, other stupid things –                                                    meaningless.  A skull.

Titles: lurch out over the images in bold Baskerville typeface

Tales From the Laboratorium
Narrated by Doctor Gordon Tripp

Final image : The Doc sitting in a winged red comfy chair in his Laboratorium smoking a                     roll up, candle-lit, of course.

Doc: The BBC have banished me  to the bowels of Bella Basura’s archive. To find examples of her oeuvre, to find the treasure buried beneath the shit, the diamonds in the dung-heap. Indeed I have been commissioned to curate the befuddled maunderings  of the hebephrenic poet-thing called Bella Basura into a coherent structured TV mini-series.

Cue: a few bars of Doc Gordon’s theme tune – Terrapin – Syd Barrett .

Doc: Enigmatically, to  say La Basura, as she became known in later days, was an enigma, is an enigma, in and of itself. Thus I shall refrain from further myth-creation and tell it like it was, and go straight for the jugular. I first encountered Bella Basura (banshee howl) whilst she was a participant on a government sponsored Enterprise Allowance Scheme that meant her dole money was paid directly into a government sponsored bank account while she pursued the tremulous task of being a free-lance writer. Basura (banshee howl) used the money – £36  a week at the time – to bum around Amsterdam inventing characters for an imaginary novel. She did this solidly for a year, the whole duration of the scheme, and that was the year we met. It was the early 1990s and although it now sounds glamorous and implausible , it was universally perceived at the time as a government policy to massage the unemployment figures and also as a convenient loophole for creative slacker-types. Bella (banshee howl) didn’t mind. In fact, she still uses her year as “a freelance author in Holland” on her CV, obviously it looks better than “on benefits”
(clap of thunder).
Clearly, I digress (sputtering).
(Sputtering ) (Again).

About a year after I met Basura (banshee howl), that is 6 months after the end of her Enterprise Allowance , she turned up unannounced and needy at my Laboratorium in Camberwell, South London. Broken and dishevelled as ever, it was obvious that she was back on the dole, and to no beneficial end.  She burbled at length at me and eventually left suddenly, enstupored and intoxicated in some indeterminate manner, she left incoherently stumbling, spewing A4 pages. As she stumbled she knocked against the kitchen table and sent a thick purple crayon careening to the floor where she insensately ground it into the kitchen lino with her great wasted hobnail boot. This created a weirdly tentacled stain that I have never been able to erase, to this very day, no matter what products are used.

For over a decade in the slow-burning bile of resentment and envy, that I naturally excel in, I pointedly reminded Bella (banshee howl) of the incurable stain every time she visited me . Thus does a Scorpio deal with a Leo. Or (symbol for scorpio) square (symbol for leo), for those with astrological leanings.
(a clap of thunder)
Clearly, I digress.

The horrors  which Basura (banshee howl) barely speaks of in this piece are almost beyond words. Unspeakable to some. And yet Basura (banshee howl) is a poet and words are her craft, her tools in trade, the building blocks of her very brain. So mouth the words she must, in essence she told me she had encountered a ghost of the future, a future-shadow. A premonition no less that had begun to imbed its tentacles deep into poor Bella’s (banshee howl) fragile mind, she began writing ceaselessly and frantically.

In actuality, there was much rumour back in those far-flung days of the coming to our shores of a dark new American-style benefit system called “work-fare” and it would force claimants into unpaid jobs in supermarkets in order to  deserve or  ‘earn’ their dole-money. Myself I thought it an urban myth, but I was wrong. It was nothing less than a precursor, a progenitor and the true birth-mother to the terrors of “Work Programme”, under whose draconian tyrannies we now toil.

The following piece  is one of Bella Basura’s earliest expositions of this dreadful prediction…

Fade to black



The final instalment – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


 There was nothing else to do ; I braced myself against the blizzard and trudged out. The white-out of the snowstorm glared through me, accusing with cold. I felt ridiculous going out alone so late, nobody else would be out in this weather, and anyway it was sunday, again.I crossed the railway tracks again, freezing metal hidden under rapidly freezing snow.And then I knew where I was heading for.I watched for church spires, ducked through alleyways, almost impassable with wind driven drifts, slipping through archways in the old town narrow cobbled streets, turning confusing concentric circles and spirals, double backs and alleys and concealed back doors, an inscribed spinning mandala of deceit and self-delusion. Wheeling left into the broad spread at the crest of the hill, crowned by St. Vincent’s spire in semi-profile, gleaming big clock face hovering the hour over the arctic air, “Observe the time, my child…”I was blasted off the streets by the icy winter wind and buffeted through the heavy double swing doors, tumbling down the steps into a warm seedy cellar bar, a dive amongst dives, a hotbed of crime and confusion – The Bordello. “Sympathy For the Devil” was bouncing off the walls…more

Instalment Eleven – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


 The first I knew about it was a frantic message on the ansafone “The Spikes have split up. Ring me. Please”. But I’m afraid I ignored it. In semi-hibernation we lay low almost dreaming, in ice-cold caverns of bed clothes, where hands and feet froze into torture appliances of surgical steel. Bella and Jesus are spending the day in bed, again. It was sunday…more

Instalment Ten – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


The eternity heavy slow movement of dark wood and brass rotating doors spin in soporific circles, the age-old cafe off the high street. where we can watch the junkies waiting on the corner. The tourists horse-driven in carriages smile inanely at us waiting. I gaze dumbfounded around the vast cavern inside. Aching and waiting, the dreadful madness of pernicious drugs. I don’t feel comfortable, dark globes of stolen light of night hang from the nicotine brown ceiling, their throb barely piercing the gloom, sipping on acrid coffee, thick like green mucus, coughed up from cancerous lungs, arrangements of leather chairs, hardwood circular coffee tables and the hacking cough of aging patrons desiccating in dark air. We are waiting…more

Instalment Nine – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


 Of course it’s sunday, and we were trudging towards The Holy Shrine of the Bed of God’s Mother for some mass or other. For no other reason than it was the quickest way to check out who was still awake or alive on this awful slippery autumn sunday afternoon drag-out, hung over and weak, all over aching for something. Sky yellow, blue, even green shading like a bruise, festering snow and sleet. A slow stroll as far as the railway…more

Instalment Eight – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


 “You’ll forgive me Gordon, If I raise an eyebrow” I said.”Of course!” He chuckled “Nowadays we all know the dangers of the Excessive Behaviour Program””How is she now ?” I asked”Oh, the old girl’s still bashing away on a broken typewriter in an empty attic somewhere. She calls herself a writer these days, And talking of the Excessive Behaviour Program, Do you remember …

Doc Gordon’s Acid Birthday Jaunt…more

Instalment Seven – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


  In the summer heat the crowds spilled out up through the double swing doors, propped open, and spread across the tiny square. I elbowed and struggled my way down into the deep shady recesses of The Bordello. Dolly and the Marquessa were snuggled in the shadows, chatting and giggling, hugging each other and weeping with merriment. I was already turning on my heels. “Bella! Bella!” Dolly called after me. She was waving a xeroxed copy of something…more

Instalment Six – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


Through groggy panes of god-knows-what yesterday I woke into one drug-knows-what after another. Slumped on a nylon leopard skin carpeted toilet and felt Dolly dressing me for the next round of Partying. As always it was sunday sunday.First she rolled me into silk seamed stocking bra suspender belt knicker corset, laced me into thigh boots, and strapped me into elbow and knee pads, a soft padded crash helmet and the black lace satanist party-frock completed the ensemble.

After jolting black coffee, something nice to take the chill off my semi-permeable bones. We began to talk.

“A duller spectacle this earth of ours has not to show than a rainy sunday in London” Dolly recalled.

“What day is it? Where are we?” I asked Dolly suddenly.

“Same as always. We’re in the wrong. For centuries they’ve tortured and murdered our kind, shot, gassed, hung, impaled and burned us at the stake. For being different, for resisting tyranny, for refusing to agree. They’ve called us terrorists, guerrillas, schizophrenics, psychopathics, heretics and witches. they think they’ve demonised us out of existence. But we’re still here, out on the margins, beyond the pale. Lifeless yet Undead.” Dolly paused for dramatic effect, the story was reaching a conclusion. “So why should we care if they’ve fucked up and the whole worlds going down the pan”

“I don’t give a fuck” I intoned religiously.

“Me neither” Flashed Dolly, “Let’s go and party.”…more

Instalment Five – The Twisted Times of Bella Basura


 It is silent, there is no one where I am. All is white light silence and smears of colour merging into visions on journeys, then faces drift back into view. And the expensive spread of high class shopping mall, broad, pedestrianised. Tasteful christmas lights wink around objects I’ll never afford. Potted and be-ribboned christmas trees guard entrances to classy bars I’ll never enter. Swing out past the huge bronze statue of the walker, the wanderer, the man who walks the street. Standing fifteen feet high huge stride spanning the square, hard jaw defiantly forward, and loose shouldered swinging arms ending in angry curled fists. He glances shifty eyed behind him, and keeps his face fixed on the unending road ahead, at one and the same time. People scuttle past, without looking, or duck through his long legs late at night when they’ve had a few.From Dato Street to Station Road. We’re heading for the train station as cool as ice, collecting a strange parcel, waiting to check out the Madrid train, or just slipping across the tracks, scrambling over the rails to the far-side of town. Tonight we’re heading for The Cavern Of Dead Machines…more