Crimson Pearl Girl

Lyrics for a love song for my musical… Imagine, if you will, a massive brass section, top hats and tails, rippling accordions of choreographed snazz, Al-Jolson-style hand-waggling, great swathes of lusty, throaty troubadours charging down the stage singing an impossibly catchy number, while acrobatic beauties throw themselves across the stage, through the audience, swinging from strings over the auditorium…

She’s good for me like my legs are for my torso
She’s good for me like vitamin c, only more so
She falls like c minor but she rises like a rainbow
Obsessing me messing me happiness heresy losing my sanity oh no!

She wakes up and makes up a song and sings the solo
I go back to sleep and then she hits me with a yo-yo
She spits at me, barks, and then she takes off through the window
She keeps a candy bar inside her padded bra think I might take a bite oh yeah!

I’ve got an aspiration to educate the nation, build a bridge across the ocean,
paint a picture, write a song, fifty books but all day long
my crimson pearl girl is giving my more, throwing my stuff through the door,
skipping through fences, blending my senses, strewing my bedding, doing my head in…

She’s good for me like the Queen is for the kingdom
She’s good for me like philanthropy and then some
She kisses me, with modesty, then hits me with a dum-dum
Hurting me healing me sweet little injury bleeding me feeding me oh yeah!

She speaks in infra red and travels at the speed of light
She gives me her heart and a thousand pounds of dynamite
Tsunami, volcano and her favourite little meteorite
Right all along, she’s a hydrogen bomb… and this is my swan song.



Thought I’d tie up my earlier account of arriving in Canada with a snapshot of one of the days which followed, my first taste of the wild…

We took the boat over to the main island. The dogs, mad with excitement, were held steady by Uncle Eric’s commands on the prow…

Clay, Pinky and Sasha

They leapt into the water long before we beached and by the time we’d pulled the boat dry they were long gone, their barks already echoing from distant peaks. We had a final joint, and then headed into the thick forest.

Uncle Eric, I should say, was an interesting man. He grew up in Herne Bay — spent most of his youth fighting — until he joined the merchant navy, at the age of seventeen. He spent ten transformative years with ‘the most decent nutcases on the planet’, fertilised half of Chile (the female half), lost all his money in Mozambique (something to do with a local market crash), bought several kilos of hashish in Pakistan to bring back to England but somehow was assigned to a boat with a nasty, stiff crew of careerists, smoked himself into an intensely paranoid stupor as they made their way around Africa, made close friends with a gecko, got caught by the purser who threw his gear overboard, got back to Kent, started a garage-door business which spectacularly failed, leaving him heavily in debt and working nights fixing up the London Underground, at which point he snapped, defrauded TfL, bought some camping gear and left for Canada, where he lived illegally on an island looking after a long-disused Salmon farm.

We heaved our way through the middle of nowhere. The terrain changed every hundred yards or so. There were four variables; rock, moss, tree, and light. The rock could be small, rubbly and insecure, or climb-upon knee-high, or a cliff, or a combination, or anything in between. The moss could be flat, sheeny and slippery, like wet hair, or dry, airy and bouncy, or dead and dusty and strewn with twiglets. The trees could be waist-high whippets snapping back in the face, crowding out the next few yards in a black lattice, or wet, ferny bushes soaking the calves and making them itchy, or the leaf-line could be – to the body’s relief – above my head and then passage between the trees was, rocks notwithstanding, free. There could also be trunks, huge or tiny, across the path; one perhaps, long-fallen, rotten-crumbly, with green new life creeping around it or out of it, or, the result of a storm, there could be a bewildering zone of colossal slick-brown wood cylinders piled upon each other with unnavigable crevices between. And finally there was the light; sprinkling through a crowded canopy and sun-bursting isolated stalks and copses, reflecting from wet scree-rubbled stone slopes in icy-white slashes. Clouds also; muffling the light into blotchy blue-grey and muting the forest floor, or hiding and revealing it behind crisp snowy puff-balls, or laying over the lakes like a huge glowing duvet or, at dusk, spreading the sunlight into an ecstatic release of orange and red.

A Huge Glowing Duvet

I got confused all the time. Twenty paces from the familiar was the complete unknown. There were no signals that I could recognise, everything was infinitely complex and permanently shifting. A memorised tree looked completely different ten seconds later. I was also pathetically uncertain. I didn’t know whether this branch would support me, whether that little drop in front will hurt my knees, whether the moss below was a deceptive hollow mesh or the covering of stone. I advanced with pitiful care.

Uncle Eric, on the other hand, walked forwards without a pause. He pushed aside whiplash branches, stood on logs, dropped off and trudged on. I was wearing expensive boots, beautiful gore-tex clothes and a comfy performance pack. Eric had on Wellingtons, a dustman’s jacket and carried a plastic carrier bag, from which poked the butt of his air-rifle. He looked like he was off to rob Walmart.

At one point we found ourself on the north side of a plateau, trees sparse, cold now and eerie.

‘A cougar can easily get you here,’ he said, ’you’ll just be walking, and boom!’

Fucking thanks, I thought. I’d rather not have known that, have death at my shoulder. But soon I was distracted by the fact that he was getting all hesitant and confused. Pointing one way, holding his breath, making towards another…

‘What’s up?’

We were lost. Or rather, he knew where we were, but it was miles from where we should be, too far away from the boat to make it before night, and so we had to bomb down to the edge of the island and make a fire before it got dark. We ran around the shingly lakeside beach, looking for enough dry wood to last us through the night (it was winter) while the dogs, three huge wolfish Alsatians, took up strategic positions around us.

With the fire going, and the sun setting, we went down to a nearby stream to try and get something to eat. Eric showed me how to tickle fish. He stood in the stream, while salmon swam past. There were quite a few slower darker looking ones around, and I asked why he didn’t take one of those. He said that they had ‘given up’; the ones that run out of energy turn a funny colour and become bad to eat. Suddenly he had one, and threw it onto the shingle where it flapped around until I brained it with a rock.

This was the first animal I had ever killed. I still remember clearly the way it arched its back, made a stretched ‘o’ with its mouth and looked me in the goddamned eye as if to say ‘death… death…’

I ate it reverently, thinking we should kill more of the animals we eat. We sat by the light of an intensely fragrant cedarwood fire. The dogs occasionally yipped little signal-calls to each other, making me feel safe. Dogs, eh? Thanks dogs. Uncle Eric told me stories about his months and years alone in here, camping and staying in a little log cabin on another island; how he’d accidentally blown up his lunch one day with a too-powerful bullet, stumbled upon a field full of dope and had ecstatic midnight revelations about how to sell garage doors. My favourite was one where walking over a chasm he’d slipped off a log and flailingly found a branch in his hand. He looked around, following the branch up — it was a long thin fir-branch from a massive tree that was some way above him; ‘it was, I swear, holding my hand,’ he said, choking up.

Yeah, he loved the forest, Eric. He just loved it.

The moon came out, bright. It was good to see it again. Eric suggested I lie in the moon-shade or I’d have strong dreams and would be tired the next day, but I decided I’d like that; my dreams having been a little weak of late.