About a month ago I was walking past a skip on Eelbook Common - full of black plastic bin liners and empty cardboard boxes. I noticed some of the garbage moving slightly and thought at first that it might be rats until a figure rose up from under the pile of rubbish in a full face balaclava and combat jacket. He pointed the sawn-off at me and said "Hand it over fuck-shit."
I said "Look, I'm sorry but I'm broke- you picked the wrong guy"
"Turn out your pockets"
I did as he said - just three Treebor Extra Strong and a travel card.
"Hand it over" he said more insistently.
"Look you can see for yourself-I haven't got a thing. If I had it I'd give it you".
The mechanism made a hard sound as he thumbed it back.
"Gimmi your talent" he said.
"Oh no, not that, there's precious little of it and it's all I've got."
"Gimmi" I was rooted to the spot and he extended the gun to about a foot from my head. I had no choice- he had the gun- so I handed over my talent. He sank down under the bin liners into the depths of the skip. There was a rustle and then stillness. I had read in the Standard about the Skip Gangs who travelled through underground passages under London and emerged in skips to lie in wait- but up until now I had been sceptical.
I arrived home and quickly picked up a sketch pad and pencil. The pencil felt at one moment too large and at the next too small. The sensation of drawing was highly uncomfortable as if the edges of my brain had turned to fur and were gently tickling the inside of my skull. I felt edgy and slightly claustrophobic. My mouth became dry. The simple box in one point perspective, drawn with a hesitant uneven line, suddenly turned inside out. I tried an egg which was disconcertingly angular.
I ran to the guitar and tried one of the three cords I know- what is it called ? It sounded terrible, the notes buzzed and the strings slammed against the fingers forming a fist in arthritic spasm. The stroke was uneven and leaden. My figures felt like a