Theme From Slo Patrol

Ken Barlow stared lovingly into my eyes, the meringues he’d so forcefully demanded forgotten upon his plate as he struggled to give voice to the feelings he felt surging within himself. I smiled tolerantly, adjusting my massive glasses and taking his knobbled hand in mine.

            “Things change, Ken… people change,” I started, not knowing how to go on. I wasn’t the Deirdre he remembered – I was Mrs. Rachid, hard-nosed ex-con and social horsefly, grown powerful but jaded on the curdled blood of my adversaries. Ken juddered as grief shook him, then fanned out his crest (as was his wont when threatened), rose up on his hind legs and vomited my erstwhile Boxercise instructor across my profiteroles.

            ‘Ken - please!” I wailed, “What will they say in the Rovers?” as the Bernie Inn dissolved around me and I awoke – still trapped in the vast, billowing net of a trawler, as nude as one of the prawns Dream Ken had been rather noisily enjoying moments before.

            Ah, I reflected sombrely, still here.

I had utterly lost track of time since my forced enmeshing – how long had I languished, entwined and peevish? At least a fortnight, I reasoned, going by the encrustations that had proliferated around and about my metallic nether limbs.

            I had been swept up from my aimless drift, along with a huge array of similarly miffed sea-life, in the midst of a terrible bout of self-loathing and a capella showtunes. Delirious with hunger and fatigue (and booze), and mid-performance of a cracking, desperately shrieked version of ‘Hello Dolly’, I became enrolled in what my venerable forebear and Grandfather used to call ‘Fish Limbo’.

            Ah, he had some fascinating concepts percolating away in that syphilis-rotted skull of his! Before his excruciating and shameful demise at the hands of his long suffering, malnourished and enforced-transvestisismed farmhands he would bounce me on his knee -  furtively whispering his deranged imaginings into my infant ear as fast as his mangled tongue could sibilate, before he was inevitably tased and forced back into ‘Grandad’s Hole’. Fish limbo indeed! What a marvellous old fellow.

            But now I discerned my stringy aquatic Wandsworth ascending towards an indistinct and filthy light – it seemed any moment I would be returning to the surface I had not glimpsed for months. As we billowed upwards it struck me how little of my project had come to even the slightest fruition and how much work still awaited me back at my fleshy lodgings – a disgusting, foul-smelling alcove running with the interior elixirs obligatory to the sound maintenance of the ocular equipment of the Greenland shark; a place probably even now serving as a flophouse for the most delinquent and reprobationary elements of the plankton community. But it was mine, and I longed for its hideous environs.

Furious with myself for having sauced my way hundreds of miles off-course, boozed my abode into debauched squatterhood, quaffed my intended research into nudie triviality and turbo-Jaegerbombed my designs on the Royal Academy into a farce worthy of my second cousin eleven times removed, Nigel - that buffoon – I bit down with all my strength on a couple of my fine ivory fingers and let the tears cascade from my stupid, libation-fixated eyes. Bugger.

            But enough. The light overhead intensified into a refracted storm of coruscating mirrors as we surged toward it, and I sensed the surface was imminent. Suddenly remembering my profound nudity I realised I, along with several thousand halibut, would momentarily be face to face with that most judgemental of all the land mammals, the trawlerman.

            With a confused howl my bedraggled and be-winkled noggin broke the surface and I took my first breath of air in over eighteen months. A banshee wind was ripping across the yellow-black waves of an ominous and baleful sea; a sky stuffed with unfallen snow flashed veins of smothered sunlight, and the encrusted rear of an industrial trawler loomed before me, screeching with effort as it rolled in its catch.

            Hooded figures were moving on deck, gesturing and calling to each other with hoarse and ragged throats -

 ‘Líta, líta á nakta gamla fisk! Fljótt, Sven, fá instagram!’

            My jaw set in a downturned gurn of pure terror. My spine curled in an automatic learned response and each of my extremities shrivelled to a petrified wrinkle. Oh, sweet, heavenly moonwalking Jesus! Oh, dear, merciful Tezcatlipoca! It seemed I was experiencing my last moments of freedom before becoming the prisoner of a people my family has rightly feared for generation upon terror-struck generation of cringing dread and apprehension.

‘Dear lord’, I whispered to myself.




O Christ! O Lord! O tempora! I thought as we smashed, intertwined, through my front door – not unlike an entirely sickening hybrid torpedo of biologist and Abaddon-faced Arctic copepod – and careened headlong into the obsidian, frozen beyond. In my somewhat ‘relaxed’ previous state of mind it had seemed a gesture strong in both panache and élan, but now I rued the wholesale removal of my clothing. I would have suffered the terrors of Erebus to be back in my ceremonial dungarees, and given a pretty shilling for access to my emergency shellsuit. Alas. Naked, terrified and babbling in a patois of elevated Welsh and Micronesian street-slang – or at least that’s how it sounded, swearing like a navvy into the muculent palpus of a fully enraged carnivorous parasite – I and the Ommotakoita spiralled deep into the stygian blackness. Yes, I had lost my decorum – as evinced by my increasingly baroque full-bore swearathon – and yes, in my frenzied panic, I soiled both myself and my hijacker with equal liberality – but I, I feel, retained the moral high ground. In truth, I reflected, I am of hardy stock indeed.

I ascribe this to my beloved, incandescent Pater and his buttock-clenchingly horrifying regime of personal health – a forward-thinking hybrid of press ups, pull-ups, Flemish pike drill and Iroquois manhood ritual, with a sprinkling of step aerobics. Clad in full plate armour, ceremonial headdress and leotard, I was happy. Sprinting around what we came to fondly dub ‘the Vortex of Death’, while Father fired bursts of encouragement from the family Vickers gun, I became the man I am today. I remember Him, resplendent in lederhosen and balaclava, quoting the late, great Kelly Jones as he piled rocks onto my legs and torso – ‘Diocletian Numerian Darren Constantinius, my boy – you gotta go there to come back.’ How true, I mused at the time, as Matron honked out ‘Mr Writer’ on a flugelhorn and kicked ants at my contorted face. Salad days. Great days.

Such happy memories prompted me to reach for a steadying draft of hard booze, before ‘the terrors’ that usually accompany any such recollections began and I soiled myself anew – but of course, I’d sunk all the sauce at my party and my Buckfast-encrowned Foam Dome was as absent as my lamented dungarees. At a loss of what to do to help myself out of this brow-furrowing impasse, I opted to hyperventilate for a while, and engage in a little cathartic thrashing.

It was only a few days before that I had been filthying the name of Andy’s Party Prosthetics for conceding to my 4 AM, mid-bender demands that my natural legs be replaced with solid brass ones, but it seems they may have been the shrewdest acquisition I ever made. The Ommotakoita currently gumming on my cranium was beginning to tire – at my full Brass-weight of many hundreds of pounds, I was far too heavy a biologist to serve as this microscopic knave’s elevenses. My shouting bonce popped from my abductor’s mouth and I plummeted even faster towards the unknown, whilst my fishy old-man-stealing former travelling companion ricocheted away, vanishing above me. I peered down into the endless ink of the sub-ocean and fell, helpless.

I did brighten a little as I remembered my secret stash, and extricated a miniature of Highland Claymore from ‘nature’s pocket’. Oh, praise Kukulkan, I thought, downing the bottle and looking for another – nude, brass-legged, slathered in my own secretions I may be - at least I wouldn’t be drowning sober.

A Low Hollow Mile

It has been quite some time since my last dispatch; the reasons behind this are many, shameful and unnatural, yet unburden myself I must. What began as a simple soiree and ended in a naked defibrillation on the deck of an Icelandic halibut trawler is one for the scrapbook, certainly. A scrapbook that must immediately be shredded, burnt, encased in concrete and fired into space.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to host a tasteful get-together within the damp and salty confines of a large predatory fish’s gawp-cavity, but the challenges are myriad. Doilies wilt, guests are continually knocked flying from their seats by the rotation of the eyeball and it’s jolly hard to steer conversation away from the panic attacks I tend to suffer when in company. But if one can continue to entertain one’s guests, even managing to mix a convincing Tom Collins between huffs on a stout brown paper bag and whilst being held down by the larger members of your party, I think it’s fair to say you have scraped the lower tiers of success. Tiers I certainly never glimpsed during the events of a certain night in August. Oh inverted Icarus, you stooped too low!

The evening started wonderfully, beyond my wildest expectations. I had almost given up hope of ever making meaningful acquaintance with my reticent neighbours but it seemed something of the bill of entertainments I had distributed had piqued their interest. Before long we had a full table of hideous, writhing parasites. Well, not that they were so much sat at their designated places - perhaps forgiveable as an amorphous mass of sickening jelly such as the Ommotakoita possess neither the legs, spine or apparently the brainpower with which to operate a chair – more wafting about the place aimlessly like silvery coils of pure nausea. But a full house it was, and I was indeed delighted. If a little panicky.

Massaging a Tamezepam down my throat and popping into another room to emit a short, sharp scream seemed to put me at ease for a while and I settled into my role as genial host. My buffet (tiny pieces of shredded eyeball, cheesy footballs and the like) was going over well, and although the hoped-for conversation was more of a monologue on my part, the Ommotakoita seems to be a good listener. Anecdote turned to whimsy turned to solemn reflection as I poured my heart out to the drifting parasites, soon finishing off the bottle of Aftershock (sadly the good Vermouth mysteriously ran dry, then the whiskey, followed by the grappa, the Dooley’s, the Archer’s and the Aldi brand ouzo some days beforehand – I must have alcoholic sea-rats) and cracking open a bottle of CK1 as I recalled my saddest and most incriminating memories.

I think the tears really started to flow after I related my terrifying school-days, but it wasn’t until I told my companions of my expulsion from the Presidency of the Scalextric Society that the clothes started to come off. Things begin to blur in my recollections around this point, most likely due to my own foolish breaking of the golden rule – no meths on an empty stomach. In my nervous excitement my appetite had vanished but my bête noire (the meths) had reappeared in fortitude, and I indulged myself. Abased myself.

As I recounted the feeling of that presidential bomber jacket slipping from my back for the last time, something inside me gave way. I finished worming out of my racing green dungarees and howled with anguish, lashing out a foot to fling off my shoe, which rocketed across the room like a well-punted bantam straight into the gelatinous features of one of the more butch of my invitees. As I roared and gesticulated it shot out a primitive tentacle and wrapped it around my ranting neck, dragging me in my near-nudism around the dinner table and up to it’s own level by the top of the door. Still twisting and trying to yell, I was bashed against the wall and inserted into what passes for the mouth of a thing like an Ommotakoita – a deeply unctuous place to say the least, and it was at this point I think that the Tamezepam wore off.


July '09

Hell’s teeth! What a fool this old biologist has been, how cruelly the ingenue falls into the grasping maw of despair! Eighty is no age to be relocating one’s studies to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, and why, God, did I ever think these metal legs were a good idea? Vanity, friends, sheer vanity. Even as the be-boiler-suited technicians of Andy’s Party Prosthetics were removing my beloved ambulators I suspected I was committing an act of hubris. Yes, I look most splendid and yes, the heavy clomping sound as I move ponderously hither and thither is most pleasing but I must concede, the practical benefits of being the owner of 200 lb solid brass legs are, sadly, nil. Even now, relaxing by the fireside with a speedball or two, I rap angrily at them with my cane and weep bitter old man’s tears.

The ivory hand, however, is perfect.

Taking solace in my beautifully carved (yet entirely immobile) fingers, I drafted a stiff letter of reprimand to the Anti Ivory League, set my beret at a befittingly rakish angle and resolved to make the best of my situation. I will admit, my research has been losing out to my unslakeable appetites for liqueurs and their attendant fripperies, but as my supply of drinks paraphernalia has begun to dwindle I have been forced into action.

Another tour of my neighbourhood bore no fruit. Although fascinating in the extreme, it would appear the Ommotakoita is a reclusive type – to be frank, they seem a cliquey and pretentious bunch. On all doorsteps I was left with clipboard in hand and my bellowed requests for cocktail umbrellas echoing unanswered. Realising my quest to understand these arrogant copepods would perhaps be more difficult than simply pitching up and boozing myself into oblivion, I eventually lumbered painfully home and began to draw up an invitation – I would throw a dinner party for these retiring wallflowers, in order to ‘break the ice’ and show them I’m not the typical, dirt-grubbing investigative biologist they clearly assume me to be. A few drinks ought to loosen their reluctant tongues/feeding spouts, and I always work better with a few h’ourdeuvres in me.

Balancing a Biro in my rigid appendage I clumsily scrawled my proposal, listing the itinerary for the evening and the entertainments I shall be providing. Chief amongst these will be an organ recital, played at the typanic-membrane shredding volume expected by modern subaquatic party-goers. The piece I have prepared, ‘C.O.P.E.P.O.D.S! (You Are)’ has again been subject to a subtle renaming process; after ringing and ringing the payphone in the mess-hall of the Maersk Drilling JUTBN1, a gentleman introducing himself as Tattoo Paul informed me there was no such person of the name ‘Oil Rig Lars’ aboard, and he stridently offered alternative recourse – primarily involving inserting my telephone-handset into one of the more delicate openings of my body. I concluded our parley, and, after half an hour of thrashing angrily around on the rug in a fit of cathartic rage, I poured myself some ‘dinner’ and renamed the piece ‘July ‘09’, the date of my first meeting with the seemingly-phantasmagorical (and, I must admit, possibly entirely imagined) Lars.      

Shine of a Lamp

Awoke this morning to a grisly scene. An oversight on my part may have been to neglect to pack any kind of water-proof clothing, and now my favourite velvet suits are soaked in vitreous fluid, and reek of eye-juice. Furthermore, the copious amounts of Vermouth I feel compelled to consume during my studies have, in escaping my mouth and my sensitive stomach, coated most of the surfaces of my new home in a scene I am sadly no stranger to. What would my father (who lives on in my memories, and a maximum-security rest-home) say? ‘Give him the hose mother, give him the hose.’ Ah, the hose. Memories!

Whilst wringing out a pair of lemon yellow pantaloons (as a side note, after a brief experiment I assure you ocular fluid and Noilly Prat do not an aperatif make) I caught sight of a most compelling scene. A group of young plankton were gamboling playfully across my front garden (perhaps a rather grand term for what amounts to a horticulturally inert shark’s cheek) in what appeared to be some sort of delightful courtship ritual. Unfortunately my observations were incorrect - it soon transpired the group had cornered a frail old amphipod and were giving it ‘the shakedown’, to coin a youth parlance. As I watched this fascinating tableau unfold I was moved to ponder the essence of nature, illustrated to me in this simple aquatic street-robbery, in a dance as old as time. As my hands were wracked with the DT’s an etching was out of the question, so I retired to the haunted keys of Aunt Tiberius’s Bontempi to work. As ever, my stalwart associate and tireless advocate Oil Rig Lars was at the end of a telephone line to fine-tune the naming process. No longer entitled ‘Plankton Livin’ (Welcome to the Jungle)’, I just managed to decipher, between the thick Nordic accent and the Special Brew-slur, the new title, ‘Shine of a Lamp’.

Heart Mountain

A terrible first day. My neighbours are somewhat rude and unresponsive to my innocent advances; for several hours I waited outside one home, only for the occupant to pretend not to be in - although I could clearly see them through the opaque film of the shark’s sclera. I left a scathing note and left, fighting back the urge to mix a pint of martini as I usually do when socially rejected by microscopic parasitical lifeforms. Upon returning to my own fish eye i sat down at my poor, now-quite-probably-a-poltergeist Great Aunt’s ‘honk bank’ and composed my first subaquarian piscine gander-orb concerto. Originally titled ‘Fishy Bastards’, my good friend and publicist Oil Rig Lars has rechristened it, in his infinite boozy wisdom, between shifts on the pumps and before the Tennant’s Super kicks in, as ‘Heart Mountain’.

Ommotakoitas in the Mist

I recently took delivery of a cheque from the British government for £15.65, meaning that my research can at last commence.

I better clarify a few things here. 

For over fifty years I have been petitioning the establishment to release into my possession the funds I so sorely needed, and they have AT LAST relented. My dream - my greatest, most noble dream - has, since being an infant still suckling at the unresponsive doorknobs of my family’s decrepit pile, to discover the hidden world of the Ommotakoita - the North Atlantic parasite which calls the eyeballs of sharks it’s home. This beautiful, deeply erotic creature burrows, like a salty Black and Decker, into the frankly useless eyeballs of the otherwise delightful Greenland Shark. Often I would lie on the shabby lino of the back bedroom, imagining I was cosily tucked inside a deep-water fish’s ocular cavity, happily whiling away the hours until father called me for Krypteia practice. 

Now, with this obscene grant from Westminster, I can begin my task - to live as an Ommotakoita. I will live among them, eat with them and sleep with them take my rest alongside them. I will try and gain an insight into their culture, their way of life and what they think of the current economic climate. To this end, I have located an eyeball sufficient to my needs and moved in. Truly, my dreams are coming true. 

I have also brought with me my array of synthesisers bequeathed to me by my great aunt - a troubled woman but a fine duellist - with which I shall be documenting my time here, in oculus, if you will. Eventually I shall present my findings, in synthesised form, to the Royal College - or more likely to the carpark of the Royal College, if my past endeavours are anything to go by.