I’m deep breathing. I am.

Lucky I can. With the knowhow. It stands to reason relaxing’s not the easiest thing in the world otherwise there’d be relaxed people wherever you went. I was at the Facility at 2.30 and the Unit at 4 and I didn’t see too many relaxed people round there. At the Annexe I didn’t see any at all.

Lungs in good running order. What do you want, immaculate bodywork? It goes doesn’t it?


See, I’m still deep breathing, keeping at it. Got to give it a chance, like the guvnor said to the trainee shelf-stocker.

Darren says Vegans get more out of their breathing, they relax easier. They put weight on as well. He does. That’s what relaxation does for you which means he does plenty of the deep breathing, or he’s that relaxed in the first place he doesn’t have to bother.


Bollox, Darren’s just an overweight Vegan. And I’m keeping up the deep breathing even if I do eat fish. He’s on a mission with the fish, mercury poisoning and the filth cod eat these days, but with him what it comes down to is FISH HAVE GOT FACES TOO. As it happens it’s the heads I like

most, I told him. Sprats, whitebait, sardines, with them, the heads. He made out I was kidding.

This deep breathing’s doing me good. I wouldn’t be sitting like this if it wasn’t, legs bent underneath me. He’ll keep on about it but what he doesn’t know is I really do love fish.


You breathe in. Hold it, all the day’s crap swirling about.


And out. The mind empty.

The mind empty.


I could have bought some fresh fish today. All right not Fresh fresh, I know. It’s like Darren thinks he’s the only one, no one else knows. But I’m not talking a packet out of chilly froth in the supermarket, I mean where you can see they HAVE got faces, stretched out on a fishmonger’s sloppy marble. Breathe out, empty the mind. Yes, yes, mind empty.

I could be eating some right now, out of the frying pan and on to the plate, with a squeeze of lemon. I could, except YOU’VE GOT TO FUCKING BUY IT FIRST. Not a big job, the buying of fish, nothing in itself; see what you want, pay up; carry off the newspaper wrap, in a carrier. Only you’ve

got to buy it first. Make time for it, remember to do it. And I didn’t. I don’t think this breathing lark’s doing me any good. I’ve given it my best shot but being realistic it’s not doing much for me.

Done you any good?

Not a lot.

What a poxy, useless fucking day.

There’s eggs in the fridge, there’s some some bread. Terrific. Bring on the plaice, bring on the trout. Bring on the cod and Fuck The Toxic Consequences. Whiting if I’d found it. Now that would have done something for me whereas, lets face it, when you’ve got to do deep breathing to feel all right you must have got it all wrong in the first place. And still be getting it wrong.


Sprats in fact, if the choice was there, AND eaten the heads.

I could have bought a piece of fish today, squeezed it into the schedule; I could have said to myself, whatever else happens I will do one thing to improve the quality of my life, and said it before half past five when the shops close, proper shops, fishmongers that are fishmongers, greengrocers that are greengrocers. In fact half five is when I thought I might catch him at the Annexe, half five pm. This is when I should have met him at half past nine this morning, at the Office.

I must be mental.

Give it half an hour and I’ll try ringing him. Lie down till then. Lying down is real relaxation. Stands to reason it’s going to be the most relaxing of all because you’re doing nothing.

Flat on my back. On the floor. And I’m breathing anyway. I can hear it. You don’t have to do exercises, it just happens. Which is just as well. One thing you don’t have to put your mind to. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much time for anything else, not if thought about every breath, each and every one.

If I looked at it exactly as it is for me right now, it’d be time for a rusty razor blade. Middle aged man’s highspot, lying on the floor. In very humdrum drum. Darren says too many possessions are a drain on the soul but how many’s too many? That’s what he doesn’t say.

I must be mental.

I’m at the Vortex office 9.25 sharp and her on Reception tells me he won’t be in all day, something’s come up but to keep in touch during the day because he’s going to try and re-schedule his re-schedule to fit me in. And I don’t start ranting and raving because these things DO happen.


It works, this lying on the floor business, These-things-do-happen I’m saying. If I wasn’t relaxed I could imagine me putting it a bit different. I was putting it very differently not forty minutes ago when I decided to cut my losses and head home.


I didn’t rant and rave even when she said Reschedule like she was on tannoy duty at Victoria and me only three feet away. No, I said I’d ring in an hour and even then I wasn’t planning on leaving that hour empty. I told myself that there were other objectives I might also achieve in that time.


These-Things-Do-Happen; what, all day? So it seems. Bob Green said to me, looking me straight in the eyes, In The Face Of Adversity, Passivity Is Hopeless. Only this morning, that’s what he said. Thought for the day or he remembered it out of a Christmas cracker. And it wasn’t Bob Green I was

waiting to see. I hadn’t thought of him at all in terms of today. His face hadn’t crossed my mind, his name hadn’t crossed my mind.

The floor’s digging into the back of my head, where it’s very boney and just how much adversity has Bob Green had to face? Not a lot, not in the last few years, not by the look of him.

Don’t be passive, get a cushion.


There. Bob Green wasn’t in my schedule at all, nor even my re-scheduling that resulted from the Vortex re-scheduling, and that was looking to cross paths with it, his, Vortex’s. Lucky

we’re not aeroplanes. We might just as well have been, wouldn’t have come to any grief. Traffic controllers could have been spark out and it would have made no odds.

Darren’s probably never tried just lying on his back on the floor. Too simple, no following a manual involved. If I told him he’d just be suspicious. Well all right then I’m not giving it big licks, I’m not making claims for it but the fact is I’m still saying These-things-do-happen, because they do, and it’s something I might well forget if I was standing up.


At least – out of this poxy, useless, fucking day – I could have made the time to buy some fish. Not fish necessarily it’s not like I’ve got obsessions, whatever Wanda says, which is her knickers; and I

don’t like it for the sake of winding up Darren whatever he thinks. It could have been something else, at least something; something a bit better than handy tips from Bob Green. “In this world there’s introverts and there’s extroverts,” was his next one which was the very moment when

I caught a glimpse of Venue on the other side of the room, in a crowd. That’s what he calls himself these days, Venue Limited.

And I was entitled to see Venue because I DIDN’T waste those hours between phone calls. I’m the man with a mission. As Wanda said the one time I wanted it simple and her taking the weight. But that’s just her, the way she talks.


It was after the half ten call I saw him, when I had 2 and a half hours to spare, after I’d made the call and got: “Vortex Holdings, Mr Vortex’s office…No I’m sorry he isn’t but you ought to catch him at the Warehouse at One.” And to be fair she did say, Ought To. No promises. To-be-fair I’m

saying, this lying on the floor really is the business. Anyone in my position who hadn’t tumbled it would be ranting and raving about Injustice In This World, headbutting their decor.


I said to myself after that half ten call, I said I’ve a shrewd idea where Venue’s schedule will be taking him right now and with a bit of effort on my part I could be in the right place at the right time, and still be at the Warehouse for One if that should still turn out to be necessary. And I

made that effort. Now if I’d placed all my eggs in the one basket; if I’d said, it’s a position with Vortex or nothing, then I wouldn’t have the right to feel the way I did before I tried the Breathing. In fact if I was as not bothered about things as that, if I was like that, I’d have had no need to

try the Breathing.

Or if I was that fanatical, which I’m not.

I don’t eat red meat but I do eat fish, all right?

So I did get there but I couldn’t see him in the crowd by which time Bob Green must have decided I could profit from some titbits out of his Outlook on Life; Relaxed-but-not-passive is how he summed it up. Of course he’s relaxed and whatever adversity he has seen WAS a long time ago, he’s been with the Vulcan for five years and the Vulcan’s a very solid outfit. Even today. And I wasn’t passive, as soon as I saw Venue I made my way across the room, as fast as I could

given the crowd, leaving Bob Green talking into thin air. I’d glimpsed the man, I could see him. The carpet was dark blue, his shoes were polished black. I shimmied through that crowd. None of whom I knew, nobody to say where he’d gone.

Fifteen minutes and I’ll make that call. The human body, on its back, is not flat. Man or Woman. In fact Darren probably would entertain lying on the floor. Maybe he does. He’d go for that small element of discomfort like it’s not doing you any good otherwise. But we’re not talking about it doing you good, we’re talking about relaxation. Which is a good thing in itself. What kind of state would I be in if I wasn’t relaxing now. And they’re all saying it these days, right across the board: relaxation’s a good thing: in itself.

He wasn’t fucking there. Just a space of blue carpet where he had been. That didn’t last long either, another pair of black polished shoes filled it in. The face that went with them I didn’t know from Adam. I looked over shoulders. I kept moving. Just the other side of the crowd was a door, a

pull-up bar job, out into an alley. You can only try, that’s all that can be asked of you. I didn’t take Venue to be someone who had much truck with alleys but you can’t rule out possibilities just like that. He might have parked his vehicle around the corner. I ran.Darren’s mate says running is especially relaxing.

I’ve always known a lost cause when I’ve seen one and Vortex was due at the warehouse at One. Ten To I was there as it turned out, I looked at my watch. At twenty past I asked someone the time because even with a digital you never know, and twenty past it was. By half past I was in another phone box. I must be mental. Twice over. Lying on the floor and I think I’m doing well when carpeting can only do so much give-wise and the human body, on its back, is NOT flat.

What’s the point of a lounge with a three-piece if you don’t use it?

There, see. Stretch out. A cushion to the back of me, a cushion underneath. Phone within easy reach. All right, so it wouldn’t look so hot in a snapshot; what do you expect, immaculate upholstery. It does the job doesn’t it? See I’m relaxed, there’s nothing to it. Like the steeplejack said to the rookie.

Darren’s mate says runners relax easier. Not in those Fun Runs they don’t, I’ve seen them. As for Darren he doesn’t rate a 3-piece, thinks they’re naff.

I’d say it’s odds-on this number’s ex-directory but I got it off her, her at Vortex Holdings. That was the Half Six call. I had to hustle her for it but I did get it. I’ll call him in a minute.


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