National Express Anthumb

I not so recently made an epic non-stop (except for a 45 minute wait at Birmingham) National Express Coaches tour*, exploring a substantial portion of the motorway network and even down to Victoria Station in London.

The purpose of this journey was to free form create a spiritual successor to Allen Ginsberg’s Iron Horse only on a British intercity coach and without getting my dick out. I had planned to get my dick out, of course, but the coach had CCTV everywhere, so I just ate some sandwiches as I looked out of the window.

I came up with the following which might not seem very good but it actually is if you went to university like what I did:

Window reflects
Sandwich pack; Tescos meal deal
£3 so not bad
But I’ll probably get peckish later
I could have got some nuts
But I only had money left
For peanuts and no way am I going there
It’s not that I’m allergic to peanuts
Or anything really
Except that rash from tinned salmon
When I was three
But that might have been a coincidence
It didn’t happen again
So we didn’t complain
To the cannery
Though I still got smacked for it anyway
By my mum who disowned me

But I don’t really like peanuts
And I couldn’t afford almonds
-If I could afford almonds
I’d be travelling by train

Laughter suddenly pours from my mouth like sick
But it isn’t actually sick
Because I’m being rhetorical
And I only get travel sick when backwards on a train
I twist, contort and give a silent howl to the universe-
A howl because Ginsberg
And silent because the coach is full

I saw the other passengers on the bus ignore me
Though some woman tutted
So I pretended I had been yawning,
Ghastly and contorting a yawning void plunging then felt a bit sleepy
But couldn’t fall asleep

The banging and rattling and dreadful howl
That is actually a smell creeps over eight whole seats near the toilet
Before the previous user
Returns to properly close it
And suddenly ashamed and us all recoiling
At the dreadful pong he’s caused us
Unthinkingly not taking a poo before boarding.

Maybe he was thinking
I don’t really need a poo so I won’t go
But I always think it’s best to give it the old one-two, straining ever so slightly
And sometimes just farting
Or a splatter tottering
cacophonous plipploppamus
Which is a word I just made up
Then you feel sudden relief
At not suffering sharting
And hoping the splip plipp plipping
And then air biscuits breaking
Can be covered up by coughing
And a clearing of throat
Then taking a long time to flush
And hoping everyone’s left by now
Because diarrhoea
Ceased to be endlessly funny
Suddenly when Blue Peter
Said it was one of the world’s biggest killers
Before cutting to video of Joan Noakes and Shep
Shep, the nation’s beloved pet dog
Is lost like dreams waking but actually dead.
The last words said to his ashes “Get down Shep’

-A catchphrase created for a catastrously-cast creature
It was at least as funny as the brass knockers
though not heard in school playgrounds
these days
but still flies
“Dur, Joey Deacon!”
though not by the children
but by me in a voice that ridicules round
the shocked quad til I am escorted from the grounds.

But not as good as the Sixties
Up to when hippies
weirded the Beatles
My mum and dad said.
But not as good as the Sixties
-an elephant pooing in studio
On live TV you coloured in with the mind
My young mind moving inside my head moving on my neck
Also moving
From Boomer to Boomer
Saying how everything was better in the sixties
Except the bloody unions
And then it was the news
And suddenly Eighties
And tired, striking miners in solidarity
Their arms around each other
As other working men, family men,
But let’s face it pigs
Broke the chains linking arm to arm, hand to hand, chains of toil digging out not oil but coal
Tough work and thankless work
That broke mind, soul and body
But they were just Northerners
And had no other options
Or even qualifications
As the redundant sea
Washed the coal from their faces
Then bloodied with Batons
By Thatcher’s blue minions
Then a holiday then dole
Then some got on heroin
Or Diamond White
Got greeter’s jobs
In the hardware store retail parks
Built over the coal

But never blame Thatcher
It was all Scargill’s fault
The fault in the coal-line
That collapsed all the coal-mines
Disbanded the coal bands
Tore off the coal-hands’
hands and threw them to the nation
Who cheered as at least it wasn’t them
but some Northerners
who probably deserved it

The tunnels were filled in and flooded
Though many were viable
So that yuppies could trade
Futures in Chinese imports
Making millions from the millions
Of unemployed. The cunts.

I break open the plastic bit and fish out my sandwich
Bacon and egg which is the only sandwich
With Salt & Vinegar crisps which is the only flavour
(Of course there are others
And I had considered Smoky Bacon
But panicked a bit before deciding
That might be too bacony
And would have to last me til I got really hungry
As I don’t really like peanuts
But wish I had an allergy
Because that would be more dramatic
for this poem’s imagery
and though this entire journey
is actually imaginary
this is the truth-fossil buried within-
The two lines that unlocks all
If it’s getting tedious and you just want to skim:

I don’t have a peanut allergy.
I just don’t really like them.

And I look out the window
And fast busy impressions pass so quickly
green and grey and more green mainly
Then we slow right down due to roadworks
And all the cones are in lines-
Like an army of traffic cones;
more regimented out here on the motorway
Than they ever are in town centres
Where they are ripped from their moorings
By drunks and by students
Or maybe just drunk students
So careless and free except for the lectures
And seminars and essays
And the tuition fees
None of them despite clever learning
Thinking someone could fall in that hole
Due to them stealing a cone
And waking dazed find it
And wonder if this is vandalism
Or robbery and what would be the penalty
If it ever got discovered.
From purely a policy
Of respecting the department of the highway
To cone off areas properly
And not just to use up their budget
Frankly and personally
They should be lined up and shot
Not all of them obviously
But one from Geography
And one doing PE
Or whatever it’s called
To serve as visceral example to them all

headlines in unread, sad newspapers
typed out by stenographers
imaged by photographers
flicked through by commuters
who throw them down unread
Except for the sport
And the TV Guide
Maybe the horoscope
But all the rest unread
Except by old people
Who do not have smart phones
Or anything better to do
Than cover to cover in the kitchen
To get value for their subscription

Unread unless, alas
Except the Daily Mail
Of course
And maybe The Sun Says
scribbles of sneering cynics
In words every child understands
If they’re making adequate progress
in Key Stage 2
They will get all the words
But not the page 3 tits
If they still do those
So quainty, so dainty
Now only shocks feminists
And those whose use of the internet
Hasn’t extended to wanking yet
And the splash and the dash
to dump down the drain
Then delete the search history
Over again

And I would now take out cock in hands
not clock hands
but my hands
And wave it at passers-by
If there were no CCTV
Or someone sitting next to me
In Seat Number 9B
and if I hadn’t got tutted at
With just my silent howling yawn
They couldn’t know
How tortured my psyche
There sat in Seat 9C,
Until I stride the wide aisle
bushing their bloody brains out
With my purple-headed trouser snake

And I would do, you know
But I don’t want to get arrested
Or banned from using National Express
Forced to Mega Bus horror
Which despite cheery imagery
Is full of economic refugees
And maybe some OAPs
Riding round pointlessly
because they can travel free
– this all that remains of
their ‘free love’ society

And never mind the future
They take it all with them
Because Thatcher, because fuck you
And well why shouldn’t we
Scoop up all we can see
Even though the buses
Vibrate quite horribly
Out on the motorway
As they’re decommissioned city buses
And the suspension isn’t as good

I must not go down to London again
On a megabus thinking a quid
But when you add on the booking fee
And discomfort should you need a pee
Due to bus vibrating frequently
Or just drinking too much liquid
but especially




* I didn’t actually take this journey at all. Instead, I took a large quantity of drugs and this shit just poured out.

Sorry to waste your time like this.

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