Have we helped save Kensal Rise library?

£70,000 was needed to fund renovations and the first year of operation to help save Kensal Green Library, and at the time of writing, £73,856 has been pledged, including a £1,000 donation from Willesden Green Writers’ Group, which will now get its name on the wall of the library.

The Green Press is populated with writers from this very talented group, so we’re very proud to have helped played a part in saving the library, and look forward to holding events there in the future!

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Free on Wednesday 3 October?

Come along to The Special Relationship with Tom Basden

Guests: Stuart Evers and Jack Underwood

After a successful festival season that took the Special Relationship to such exotic locales as Rio, Hong Kong and Suffolk, we return to London to bring you another night of fiction, poetry, films and comedy hosted by Tom Basden.

This heartthrobs of literature edition brings guests Stuart Evers, author of ‘If This is Home’ and ‘Ten Stories about Smoking’ and Special Relationship favourite, the poet Jack Underwood and Green Press contributors, Samuel Taradash and Jarred McGinnis.
Words will be spoken; hearts will be broken.

http://thespecialrelationship.net/main/

Time:7:30pm-9:30pm

Tickets: £5 (in advance or on the door)

A poem for a lazy Sunday…

This one is from our ‘leader’, always the voice of reason in the trees of madness, the wonderful Anne Mullane…

Tree

As if forgetting were an option,
As if memory could hold you
We spent that night in a hushed, humid garden
Remembering.
When a summer storm broke, we ran,
Took temporary shelter in an alley,
Heat-held and safe we kissed under a sapling.
Its ceiling of luxuriant green a talisman
Against rain and time and loss.
You gazed up,
Caressed the slender trunk,
Contemplated the restless canopy.

€˜Look at this tree,
A fucking fine tree.€™
And a decision was reached.
€˜Before I leave, I have to climb this tree.€™
But drunken resolve is easily distracted
And as you swayed under its leaves,
Amazed by your future
I held you and prayed to whoever listens,
€˜May there be someone
In his bright new life
To gently dissuade him
From climbing trees
When drunk.€™

____________________

Another day, another bus…

Here’s an extract from Bilal Ghafoor’s novel Locked in Amber: Travels in Pakistan

Another day, another bus. I was not paying attention or I would have avoided it, but I sat down next to a man who seemed at first to be an American.
He smiled his clean teeth at me and I nodded at him, relieved that there was here an outsider, more strange and out of place than I was. He wore a blue, checkered shirt and posh, Gore-tex trousers. The only thing that I liked about him was that he, like me, carried very little luggage.
‘Khunjerab? How far is it? How long?’ he asked me in slow English.
I was loath to answer him, to reveal myself to him and to the other passengers that crowded into this minbus, generating a tepid mass of heat that was a slight barrier against the cold.
‘Khunjerab?’ he asked again, looking less hopeful.
‘I am not sure. I am a traveller here too,’ I finally replied.
He looked as if he did not understand.
‘English?’ he asked.
I nodded glumly.
‘Wow, cool. Are you really English?’
I nodded again. I did not feel like lying this time.
‘Man, can you help me out? I haven’t had an answer that I can understand for days.’ He looked relieved and the frown that had been floating under his golden beard disappeared.
‘What do you want to know?’ I asked, feeling the shock of English again. It had only been six days since I had spoken it last, in Abbotabad. A couple of heads turned in our direction, so I lowered my voice.
‘Man, is this the right bus to Tashkurgham?’
‘I am not sure where that is. This goes to Khunjerab then I suppose that we will have to change buses at the border,’ I whispered. One head turned and would not turn back. I was being stared at by a Pakistani. I hated it and almost wanted to reach out and push him away.
‘Thanks a lot. Where are you going?’ he asked me.
‘Just to the border.’
‘Then?’
‘Home,’ I replied before realising with a start that I had referred to Karachi as ‘home’. Despite everything.
Others in the bus were beginning to tune into our conversation and more of them must have been wondering why I was dressed so badly when I was clearly either educated and therefore rich enough to speak English or that I was a foreigner. I ignored them. Then I realised that they were not at all hostile; they must have assumed that I was playing the same role to this white man as the driver of the jeep in Abbotabad must have been for the Spaniard couple.
Like a scab which heals inside faster than on the outside, stretching the wound in different directions, I had been pulled into an odd shape. For the first time, it felt as if the outside and the inside were beginning to match slightly, that there was some sort of equilibrium. With this, I fell into a dreamless sleep, to the growl of the diesel engine and the chatter of my new companion.
I awoke with a start under a darkening sky. Several hands were grabbing at me and shaking. The bus had stopped. I looked out but there was no cafe, no stopping point of any kind, lanterns casting yellow light out, just the far off, thin purple line at the horizon of a sun sinking away.
I turned to the three men standing over me.
‘Teach this white man some respect,’ one of them screamed.
I could hardly see them in this light and was not sure what was happening. I thought, irrationally, for several minutes that the white man was me.
‘What has happened?’ I asked into the darkness.
The thin air crackled with anger as several angry voices came back at me. Then there was a flare of light as someone lit a cigarette and the fragrance poured over the plaintiffs and they were subdued.
A single voice came at me: ‘Your man here, he has been whistling at the women in the villages by the road.’
‘Who has?’ I asked, still dazed, a faraway slice of my brain sharpened by the danger.
‘This man who is with you. The foreigner.’
‘Who?’ I asked again, wondering desperately if my snoring had been high-pitched enough to be misinterpreted as whistles.
‘Your white man, the foreigner,’ came the voice before a cold hand was put to the side of my face and pushed very firmly to the left. Then I saw the frozen outline of the American.
‘What the hell have you been doing?’ I demanded of him in my default plummy English.
‘Who? Me?’ he asked indignantly. ‘These guys are mad at you, not me.’
‘No, they are saying that you have been whistling at their women folk.’
‘I wasn’t whi…’ he stopped. ‘I did let out a couple of whistles, but that was half an hour ago. It was at some kids. They were waving at us when we drove by.’
‘Oh shit,’ I said. ‘Haven’t you read the Dos and Don’t from the Lonely Planet Guide? You Americans are all the same.’
‘I’m Canadian. From Regina. And no, I haven’t fucking read it.’
‘Well, you should have done. Whistling is bad.’ I turned back to the black shadows standing in front of me and switched back to Urdu. ‘He didn’t know,’ I protested. ‘He says that he was whistling to the children.’
There was a pause at this, then, ‘that may be. But it is your job to explain to our guest that he cannot do such things here.’ Most of the passionate anger was gone but he, whoever he was, was still irritated.
I switched back to English. ‘Ok, they€™re mad at me. It is my fault as your ‘guide’, it seems. You are forgiven as you are a foreigner and cannot be expected to know the customs. But I am in the shit. Apparently I should have told you not to whistle.’ I kept my voice controlled and neutral, mostly because I had no idea who I was supposed to be annoyed with.
‘You€™re kidding,’ came back ‘my foreigner’.
Back into Urdu: ‘Look, I am not with this man. I got onto the bus well after he did. I got on at Passu.’
Eventually, the indignant bus driver started the engine again and we moved off slowly, but that was only after I had spent ten more minutes trying, unsuccessfully, I think, to persuade the crowd that I was no guide and that if they were so offended by this man whistling, that I would interpret but not be held responsible.
In the morning, when the bus stopped for the final time on our way north, just past a huge sign proclaiming that we were at 16,000 feet above sea level and that China was 2km ahead, I tried to catch the eye of my accuser but all the faces were full of smiles and the only person annoyed with me, it seemed, was the Canadian, who perhaps might have thought that I was trying to inveigle my way into a job as his guide. We had passed a couple of white people cycling the route, crouched over the handlebars of their mountain bikes, laden with paniers, but here, so near to the roof of the world, there did not really seem to be anyone who could quite quite understand both sides of the story.

With neither a whimper or a bang…

Evening all! Here’s a bit of verse from Steve… and let’s all spare a minute to think about what Chumbawamba might be doing now…

 

After “Tubthumping”

He drives the G.t.i., he drives the mini car,
He drives the hot hatch, he drives the 4 by 4,
He likes the country road, he likes the freeway,
He likes the autobahn, he likes the motorway,

He hates cars that drive too bloody close behind,
He hates cars that cut in every bloody time…

I ride the tricycle, I ride the bicycle,
I ride the moped, I ride the roller skates,
I ride the Honda Cub, I ride the Yamaha,
I walk the pavement, I walk the footpath…

I get knocked down but I get up again.

She walks the sidewalk, she walks the moonwalk,
She walks the catwalk, she walks the cakewalk,
She walks the walk that’s the talk of the walker’s talk,
She walks the walk that’s the talk of the stalker’s walk,

She sings songs that remind her of the early days
She sings songs that remind her of the pearly ways

She sings Oh Fannie May, Freddie Mac, Michele Bach-
mann,

I get knocked down but I get up again.

They write the free verse, they write the blank verse,
They write the nonce verse, they write the per-verse,
They write encomia, epithalamia,
They write dithyrambs to academia,

They sing lines that remind them of the half rhymes,
They sing rhymes that remind them of the rich rhymes

They sing Oh Hymenea, mater misericord-
ia…

I get knocked down, I don€™t get up again.

It’s a hit

<![CDATA[Evening peeps! Tonight we’ve got a short story from author Antony Wootten.

Sit back, relax and enjoy…

________________________________________________________

Hitman

I pressed the accelerator and felt the Volvo surge forwards, the windscreen wipers slashing their way through sheets of rain like a Machete through dense undergrowth. I realised I was sweating. This was insane! I never lost my head like this, not when I was in the forces and not in my… more recent work. I had to get a fucking grip. The narrow road curved beneath a crag and I felt the car twitch as the tyres skittered slightly on the wet tarmac. I glanced at the clock as the car straightened, and I opened up the power again, pressing forwards towards the town. I had less than eight minutes.
On the passenger seat, the knife lay, still wrapped in the blood-soaked cloth. In the darkness, I couldn€™t even tell whether or not it had stained the seat, but, seeing a straight stretch of road before me, I grabbed the bundle and stuffed it into the glove compartment. I€™d have to clear up any mess later on. There was no time right now. Close-up hits always took it out of me; it was much simpler to kill from a distance, with a gun. But my last hit, just ten minutes ago, had become unexpectedly complicated. I€™d had to get right up close, and open his throat. I hadn€™t had chance to prepare for the mess. Normally, I€™d have had a fresh set of clothes in the car, but not today. That was clumsy, especially given where I had to go next. If there was blood on my clothes, it would give me away.
I had just four minutes now, and my heart was actually thundering. I had to clear my head or I€™d mess the whole thing up. There was so much riding on it; I€™d already let the boss down more than once recently. I had to get this one right.
Around me now, the town streaked by. A red light; I ran it. A horn; I gave them the finger and threw the car round a corner. A lorry; I hit the brake hard, bracing my back against the seat as the ABS kicked in and I guided the car between lorry and bus… Several more frantic manoeuvres as I hurtled deeper into the town€™s sprawl. At last, the tower block loomed before me, and I brought the car to a halt.
I almost dropped the key as I switched off the ignition and and flung open the door. I had to compose myself. This was ridiculous! I was practically panicking. Glancing at the clock one last time, I saw I had only moments left. The deadline was rushing at me, so I grabbed the package from the back seat, and the crow bar, and hurried towards the tall building, the package tucked under my jacket to keep it out of the rain. I knew I couldn€™t use the front door; he€™d be arriving any moment and I€™d blow the whole thing if I was spotted now. So I scaled the wire fence and hurried round the side of the tower block. I found the door to the fire exit, and glanced back around the corner just in time to see a black hatchback pull into the car park. I knew that must be him. With a few frantic jerks on the crowbar, I forced open the fire exit and hurried inside. I flung the crowbar into the dark space beneath the stairs and I could still hear the ringing of metal on concrete when I reached the second floor. I paused for breath, remembering a time when I€™d have climbed a tower block stairwell without breaking a sweat. Thank God I was only heading for the fourth floor.
When at last I arrived, I was gasping for air, but I didn€™t have time to recover. I eased open the blank fire-door and peered into the space beyond, where the two heavily graffitied lift doors stood side by side. I heard the soft chime which told me one lift was arriving, and without any further hesitation, I slipped through the door and round the corner. Behind me, the lift wheezed open, and voices spilled out. I ran the length of the corridor, fumbling in my pocket for the key the boss had given me yesterday along with the words, €œLet me down again and I€™ll fucking kill you.€ I managed to slip it in the lock, glancing behind me at the corner I€™d just come round. The corridor was still empty, but would only be for another second or two.
I suddenly remembered to give the four-beat knock, just in case; then, I pushed the door open and slipped into the darkness of the flat, clicking it shut behind me.
€œIt€™s me,€ I hissed into the darkness. €œStay down.€
€œBloody €˜ell, Mike,€ came a voice. I couldn€™t see him but I knew it was Tim, my oldest friend. We€™d served in the Middle East together, seen plenty of action there. €œCuttin€™ it a bit fine aren€™t you? We saw €˜em pull up!€
€œShut up,€ I said. €œThey€™re right behind me.€
I made straight for the pale glow of the kitchen area, slamming my shin into the unseen corner of a coffee table and sending something flying.
I limped round the end of the counter which partially divided the lounge from the kitchen, and dropped to the floor, desperately trying to control my breathing. There was someone else nearby, but I couldn€™t see who. I heard a few quiet voices and a snigger. I shushed them crossly.
I heard the door open. I removed the package from inside my jacket and put it on the floor beside me. The light came on and I heard his voice, his high, rippling giggle.
And this was the moment I€™d come for. It seemed to happen so slowly: I stood, revealing my presence, and gazed at my little boy. He was looking down at the photos I€™d knocked off the coffee table, but his mother€™s hard, brown eyes were pointing straight at me. And then the room was full of people, appearing from behind the sofa, from the curtains, the bathroom, the kitchen.
€œSurprise!€ They cacophonied.
David was stunned into silence for a moment, then his gorgeous smile sprang into life as his aunts, uncles, cousins and friends laughed and clapped and all spoke at once.
And he saw me.
€œDad!€ I laughed and moved towards him with my arms wide, and everyone seemed to part for us. He threw himself into my embrace and I whirled him round with delighted enthusiasm. I kissed him and cried out, €œHappy birthday, son!€ I sat him on the counter top and handed him his present. I hadn€™t even had time to get wrapping paper for it; it was still in the packaging it had arrived in. €œHere you go,€ I said. €œSorry I haven€™t wrapped it.€ He smiled and tore into it. I looked past him at his mother. She was standing there, arms folded, giving me that €˜I hate you€™ look, and now the room was full of excited people who didn€™t quite know whether or not it was alright to speak.
€œHello, Boss,€ I said. I’d always called her that, even back when things were good between us.
€œDon€™t call me that, Mike,€ she warned.
David pulled his new football top from the wrapping paper. €Thanks, Dad,€ he said.
€œThat€™s alright, son,€ I grinned. €œTell you what,€ I said, as I took off my jacket and loosened my tie, €œwork€™s been going pretty well recently.€ That was as much for his mother€™s ears as his. And, if I€™m to be honest, everyone else€™s too. €œI€™ll take you shopping tomorrow, maybe get you that bike you wanted.€ Behind David, the boss sighed and shook her head. Nothing was ever good enough for her.
€œDad,€ David said, but I was busy out glaring the boss, and enjoying the spell we had cast over the rest of the people in the room. €œDad,€ David said again, but I had just noticed the way Tim had moved across next to her, and she€™d given him that warm, welcoming look she used to give me, and everyone seemed to be staring at me. €œDad.€
€œWhat?€ I said, instantly regretting the note of anger in my voice, but everyone was staring at me and I was starting to feel paranoid, defensive.
€œWhy€™s your shirt got that red hand print on it?€]]

Why, hello there!

We’ve been away for a little while, fighting Brent council who are trying to knock down the Mothership, Willesden Green Library, and after that we had a little lie down and a cry. But we’re back for the long haul with a poem from resident rapscallion Lynsey Rose. You can also read Lynsey’s rather excitable TV blog Exitainment here as well as her poetry blog Extol. We won’t feature any from Extol here, though, because we like to give you something a little different here at the Green Press. Now stop mucking about, Lynsey, writing is a serious business… the floor’s yours.

London

In the city
post five-thirty

good-looking
young men in suits

loosen their ties and
their legs

In bars named after
chemical elements

where the drinks
cost a tenner a go.

And girls with
super-short skirts

and hair cut by
Japanese boys

in space age salons
with fish tanks for walls

buy high heels in
Covent Garden boutiques.

In Brent
my sliver of town

where a
one bedroom flat

costs the same as
a cottage in the country

diversity equals
an angry white face

and an angry black face
waiting for a bus.

Live readings

Three writers from the Green Press will be appearing at the Poetry Cafe in the next few weeks.

On August 20, the Literature Lounge presents Pictures To Lean Into, an evening of poetry, music and head-to-head fiction featuring Jarred McGinnis and Samuel Taradash. £4 at the door, and the event kicks off at 8:00 PM.

Then on September 22, Lee Webber will be amongst the talents reading at Poetry Unplugged. Doors open at 7:00.

Both events will be at the Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX (map)