Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Halloween 1986

Having no place to go,
unwilling or unable to wait,
they did it in the street
behind the pictures,
an arched back and an exit door
separating fiction and reality.

11 November 1986

I should clarify something first for the sake of my non-British readers: “the pictures” is a slang expression for the cinema just as “the shows” is slang for the fairground.

The poem is a record of an actual happening. It took place in Kilmarnock. On Fowlds Street to be precise, behind the old ABC cinema. Thank you Google Earth. I wonder what was showing. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is a good bet. That and probably Basil, the Great Mouse Detective. I think there were only the two screens back then. I know I wasn’t there to see a film—I’ve seen neither of these for starters—but the point was I was on Fowlds Street while the films were still showing; it’s important that. Presumably I’d parked there. Fowlds Street is a quiet back street just a block away from the town centre which would’ve been all closed at that time at night bar pubs, eateries and fast food restaurants. Kilmarnock, however, was miles away from where I was living so I really can’t think why I was there and on my own. It’s not a place I’d head to to meet anyone and I actually can’t ever remember going for a meal or a drink there. Very strange. What was stranger was watching a couple have sex out in the open behind the pictures. They were doing it just about where the Biffa bin is in the photo and, of course, it was pitch dark. I stood and watched for a few seconds—too far away for them to notice—and then left them to it hoping for their sake they’d finish their business before the back exit was flung open and a good number of the audience spilled out and caught them at it.

I probably drafted the poem then and there, maybe in the car before I drove off.


Kass said...

I don't know why, but it's the "arched back" that gets me...(in a good way).

Jim Murdoch said...

Now I can’t remember, Kass, what they looked like. They may have been facing each other or she may have been bent over. I suspect the former because there’s a sense of awkwardness that accompanies the memory such as it is. The line in the poem that always jumps out at me is “they did it in the street”. I can almost hear my mother saying that line with disgust, “Bad enough they had to do it but did they have to do it in the street? Dogs do it in the street.”

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