Pressing no. 46

Moorgate, 2008
Moorgate, 2008


So ______________ There is is a screech and some stalled movement. Embarkation and debarkation, beginnings and endings. An awful lot of travel.

When I zone into what I’m being told, in this shitty little rest between platforms, I can step outside of myself and see that what’s happening is the equivalent of the lurch upon station approach.

What The Lady says does this: Punches my skull; collapses my facial muscles; de-stabilises me; trips my tongue; stutters my thinking; voids my emotions; robs me of my gravity; fogs my navigation; murders who I choose to be.

And, slowly, I know I will get better. Other hands hold me until we came to a complete stop, and I get to keep the memory of a journey.

© Matthew Sheret, 2008


Pressing no. 45

Hackney, 2008
Hackney, 2008


Beside the Nu-Rave Vagrant the old lady coughs the sound of breaking glass. He tries to find solace in her rheumy eyes, but the red little orbs filled him with doubt and self-loathing. Dark times. He slopes off the bus at Hackney City Farm and starts walking to clear his head.

Notes on this uncertain footpath:
______Rows of decimated commercial enterprise.
______Dormant social hubs, mouldering.
______Three tramps, laughing.
______Wind that takes root at the ankle and screams.
______The smell of fish, or rat, coming from an ancient carrier bag.

The Nu-Rave Vagrant, of course, wrote none of this, instead compiling his post-it note annotations of the cityscape as he goes:
______Nice tag.
______Eclectic decoration.
______Ugly vomit.
______Unsettling cough, lady.

Once he collared a priest on Commercial Row and asked “Why is there virtue in instability? Is there a Soulwax remix?” Jesus wept.

©Matthew Sheret, 2008

Pressing no. 44

Sunset at Canary Wharf
Sunset at Canary Wharf, 2008


I see no movement behind every window. I want there to be an extra-natural yo-yo lurch to the stomach here, some psychic reflection of financial trauma, but it’s a Sunday so it’s just plain dead. Always on a Sunday. I’ve found myself in the financial districts of Boston, Providence, Paris, New York and London on Sundays. It’s no different than being on the storage estates of Hedge End, Portsmouth, Manchester and Cardiff, filled as they are with commercial void and room to spin. The Friday papers clutter around, full of words about money and maths.

© Matthew Sheret, 2008

Pressing no. 43

Soft Toy on a Bus Stop Sign
Soft Toy on a Bus Stop Sign, Alexandra Palace, 2008

Do You Remember the First Time?

I recall the second time I saw her. She stepped onto the bus, wearing a once-formiddable black woolen coat, frayed at the edges, a kite and bamboo cane in hand. Curly, unkempt hair dyed black-red, eyes kohl-rimmed, but it’s not a gothic effect: she appears nomadic, foreign but not from far away.

She sits in front of me and picks at the end of the bamboo cane with blunted, frayed nails, fingertips untidy, perhaps muddy. She’s clearly older than I am, but the disregard for tidy finesse is impish, appealing. She caps it all off by waving at a baby, which I usually find sinister but in her is charming. I let her off of the bus before me, and she thanks me. I say no worries to hide my heart melting.

That same journey a large lady with a thick Jamaican accent had briefly ambled aboard with her child, gender unclear. She smiled and waved good afternoon to the sparse bottom deck and, inaudible over the thrum of the engine, began to talk to us, a slow and rumbling sermon.

We stopped at traffic lights for a second, time enough for me to catch one line before she left at the next stop. A few words, divorced of context, but to me a deeply unsettling and sinister message: “Jesus loves you ___________ and Jesus is coming very soon”

© Matthew Sheret, 2008

Pressing no. 42

Southbank Centre, 2008
Southbank Centre, 2008


Sick with exhaustion, a woozy view of the barman tapping the coffee machine in time to tired French muzak. The room is filled to bursting point with haircuts and Guardian readers, and I suppose they’re my people. I huff a mug, stimulant desperately needed.

I’m still for a long time. ___________ My thumbnail is securely, reassuringly tucked under my top lip. I stare fixedly at whatever drifts into view. My front teeth clench behind my closed mouth, and I am hyper-sensitive to the tingling hum of my calves buzzing with a day’s blood and lactic acid.

This isn’t a mug of coffee. It is a slightly diluted quadruple expresso.

______________ I yearn for a headrest and clear my thoughts.

© Matthew Sheret, 2008

Pressing no. 41

Barbican, 2007
Barbican, 2007

The Last Page

A cigarette butt skitters along the curb ______ each time a cab passes and flushes oxygen through the embers it flares for a second ______ I silently fixate on it.

Waiting for a bus, avoiding eye contact with other passengers, one of whom holds a tissue to a mashed lip and swallows blood and tears in great gulps. The distended face of Keira Knightley glares at me from the bus shelter over the road, the whole scene really unsettling.

I could walk with my eyes closed from here to the doorstep of another fictional ex-girlfriend, a hybrid blend of relationships I never quite had. This one ______ this one lies on a mattress on the floor ______ I lean on the windowsill, yes, the windowsill of the bedsit window that offers an infinite horizon of Holloway’s grey desolation and schizophrenic neon marketing. Her eyes are bloodshot, bloodshot or shut, and the sheets only half-cover her, again. I know the subtle charge buzzing away at the back of my head will resolve itself into lust, but it’s really fucking late and I’m huffing coffee. ______ Every time I look at her I hate her more and more.

Ugly, but compelling. Nonetheless I shake of this version of someone I knew and start again.

Strains of Verdi, creeping through the floorboards, a perfect little autumnal moment lying on a bed in Dalston. The cartridges of a vintage Nintendo litter the bedside table, spent condoms in an ashtray, your hand at the small of my back

No, sorry, I haven’t got the energy to believe in you anymore. Besides, I’ve reached the end of my notebook.

© Matthew Sheret, 2008

Pressing no. 40

Wet Clothes
Wet Clothes, 2008

Stormy Weather

Twat. I chuck my Cons and socks into the bath and start to peel my trousers off of my ankles. Thankfully the greatcoat didn’t let a drop through, and I can pad into the kitchen in my shirt and boxers to turn the heating on.

The rain had gotten heavier while I was walking down Muswell Hill, and the road and pavement flowed inch-deep. I scurried under the old railway bridge for shelter, dripping. On the opposite side of the road a girl about my age emerged from the bridleway, pulled along by a puppy that look poised to drown any minute. We look at each other for a second, and I see she’s soaked in a way only low-rent models in low-rent lads mags ever seem. Her legs are so spindly and fragile that I wonder if they even connect to her body, if instead her rain-tight clothes act like a carapace, replacing joints. My act of reduction, I suppose, and I will never know what hers was. I think we’re embarrassed for each other, exchanging looks of pity, grimaces and shrugs before going separate ways.

When the first flash-crack split the sky a weirdly primal urge took me out into the storm. There’s supposed to be something romantic about the weather, but my only memory of kissing in the rain is ten years old. Now the rain’s spraying against the skylight like babies fists and the noise bounces around the corridor, darking me out.

© Matthew Sheret, 2008