Bland On Bland – The BookThe theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “George“.

A good show this week, and a theme that gave me a chance to finish off a story that I started writing some time back.

So for those of you sitting there going “hang on that’s, not a poem”

Well spotted. You’re right

But I did enjoy writing and performing it …


Ed Bates provided the guitar backing, have a listen to how it went below…

To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:

George

Lionel Scrivener summed it up.
“The best thing about being sixteen is turning eighteen.”
Though it made no sense, for possibly the only time in his life he wasn’t far from the truth.
You were too old for your bike and not old enough to drive a car, stuck in adolescent purgatory, condemned to aimlessly roam the streets and railway stations for what seemed an eternity.

Having reached the milestone two years prior, Lionel, the older brother of my best friend Chris, felt qualified to offer his thoughts on the subject, although his world was a galaxy away.

All he’d ever wanted to do was join the army and shoot things.
He achieved this within weeks of enlisting, though not quite as he’d envisaged, blowing three of his own toes off with a blank.

The army didn’t take kindly to having one half of a pair of new boots rendered unserviceable, deeming Lionel no longer physically fit to serve in the infantry.
He was transferred to stores, where ironically, his job was to issue recruits with, among other things, new boots.

Fortunately for Lionel, nature had protected him from bitter disappointment by endowing him with the cerebral capacity of a flat battery, and he continued to believe he would eventually be transferred back to the front line once his toes grew back.

For all his shortcomings, at least Lionel had a sense of purpose.

Chris and I on the other hand had no aspirations beyond hanging out at the railway station and dodging the numerous gangs of sharpies that infested the suburbs.

Mrs Scrivener, generous with her optimism, assured us given time we’d find our feet.
Problem was we weren’t looking for our feet.

Aside from sharpies, the only force determining our direction was gravity.

Outside Mentone Station we bumped into Chris’s sort of, on off, almost, he wished, not interested girlfriend Julie, who smiled and told me her friend Linda reckoned I was cute.

Cute? I hadn’t been called cute since my legally blind Great Aunt Ida gazed lovingly at a load of my dad’s y-fronts in the washing basket thinking it was me in a bassinet.

Chris suggested my only chance of moving the relationship forward was to say as little as possible, given opening my mouth tended to have the same effect as a fart at a funeral.

Aside from a few uncomfortable grunts, I succeeded in surviving the first few minutes without contributing a single word to the conversation – and then disaster!
Linda asked me what I wanted to do when I finished school.
I took a deep breath and mumbled that finishing school was all I wanted to do.

Fortuitously, Linda took that to mean I was intending to enrol at a Finishing School.
I had dodged a bullet.

For the next half hour, until her train arrived, Linda gave a rundown on her short, medium and long term goals – university degree, go into marketing, start her own business, move to America, possibly retire to France to paint and harvest truffles.

God, Linda had her whole life worked out, while my only goal was to stand outside the bottle shop and try to convince anyone over the age of eighteen to go in and buy me a bottle of Stones Green Ginger Wine and a ten pack of Turf.

Surprising even myself, just before the train door closed I bleated out an invitation to meet the next Saturday outside the local dance Stonehenge, aptly named since it attracted more than its fair share of Neanderthals.

Chris’s suggestion to douse myself with his brother’s Old Spice to mask the smell of fear backfired, leaving me exuding the bouquet of a recently cleaned urinal.

“Who’s playing?” quizzed Linda “I hope they’re good to dance to.”
Dance? I froze – I hadn’t signed up for dancing.
I’d rather cut my testicles off with a pair of wire cutters having declined anaesthetic than dance.

“Lobby Loyde” I spluttered nervously
“Great” chirped Linda “sounds poppy”
Poppy? Our relationship was barely two tentative sentences old and already the paint was beginning to peel.
This was not going to have a fairytale ending.

Lobby drifted onto stage, cigarette hanging precariously from the centre of his mouth, trailing behind a roadie who was frenetically negotiating with a nest of anarchistic mic leads.

“They’ve got a lot of roadies” beamed Linda “they must be good”
How could I tell her those roadies were the band?

Lobby briefly stared out over the heads of the crowd, before turning to adjust the volume on his amplifier.
I’m not sure what he was looking at but it wasn’t in the room, and there were no windows.

A guitar hung loosely around his neck, the name ‘George’ fashioned beyond crudely out of white electrical tape, stuck to the body above the strings.

‘George’ the guitar. The name sat well.

Without a word spoken, a sudden thunderous chord and ‘George’ took off with Lobby in tow, garage meets psychedelia.

That song lasted for close to thirty minutes, ‘George’ allowed to briefly experiment on his own each time Lobby reached for a cigarette to replace the smouldering butt creeping dangerously close to his lips.

At the end of the song I turned around to gauge Linda’s reaction, only to discover she’d gone.
Not the reaction I’d anticipated though probably for the best.
That was the last time I saw her.

Decades later I heard she’d become one of Australia’s most successful ever Tupperware representatives, eventually seconded to a management role at head office in Orlando, Florida, married an airline pilot, had three kids, divorced and moved to Bolivia.
I’m not sure about the truffles.

I, on the other hand, could now legally purchase my own Stone’s Green Ginger Wine without the need for a middleman, so it was fair to say we’d both succeeded in achieving our goals.

Lobby died aged sixty-five, well short of the average, though outlasting many contemporaries who had walked a similar path.

An unpredictable, enigmatic, chemically infused and sometimes indulgent force, looking to bring out, not smooth over the rough edges.

Lobby was the guts without the glitz.

After Clapton and Cream, every country had to have a guitar hero, a moniker sometimes thrust, unfairly, on Lobby.

He deserved more than a polished, hackneyed, title, a label better reserved for mouth pulling, finger gymnasts, holding their instruments like a flasher at a hen’s night.

I sometimes wonder what happened to ‘George’.
I’d like to think he was passed down, sold on, swapped, or given away; ending up in the hands of some kid on the wrong side of slick with more grunt than technique, to be used as a hammer not a feather duster, or worse, laying silent in some collector’s vault like Vladimir Lenin’s corpse.

Wherever you are ‘George’ may you never rest in peace, and especially, God forbid, in pieces.

© Copyright 2019 Ian Bland


Also have a listen to “Everything or Nothing

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