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Mick Harvey + Nick Cave

Mick Harvey (born 29 August 1958) is an Australian rock musician, singer-songwriter, composer, arranger and record producer. A multi-instrumentalist, he is best known for his long-term collaborations with Nick Cave, with whom he formed  The Boys Next Door,  The Birthday Party  and  Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

◊  A cover of Texan  Guy Clark‘s  ↓  ‘Hank Williams Said It Best’

One man’s pigeon is another man’s dove, one man’s push is another man’s shove
One man’s rock is another man’s sand, one man’s fist is another man’s hand
One man’s tool is another man’s toy, one man’s grief is another man’s joy
One man’s squawk is another man’s sing, one man’s crutch is another man’s wing
One man’s pride is another man’s humble, one man’s step is another man’s stumble
One man’s pleasure is another man’s pain, one man’s loss is another man’s gain
One man’s can is another man’s grail, one man’s anchor is another man’s sail
One man’s right is another man’s ‘fish’, one man’s curse is another man’s ‘poison’
For every father’s daughter  –  For every mother’s son
The only thing the same  is that it ain’t for anyone
One man’s famine is another man’s feast, one man’s pet is another man’s beast
One man’s bat is another man’s ball, one man’s art is another man’s scrawl
One man’s friend is another man’s foe, one man’s Joseph is another man’s Joe
One man’s tack is another man’s nail, one man’s freedom is another man’s jail
One man’s road is another man’s rut, one man’s ‘if’ is another man’s ‘but’
One man’s treasure is another man’s trash, one man’s landin’ is another man’s crash
One man’s word is another man’s lie, one man’s dirt is another man’s sky
One man’s skin is another man’s color, one man’s killer is another man’s brother
For every father’s daughter  –  For every mother’s son
The only thing the same  is that it ain’t for any
Hank Williams said it best  – He said it a long time ago: 
«Unless you have made no mistakes in your life
Be careful of stones that you throw»
∇   ‘I Wish That I Were Stone’  ↓  [«FOUR (Acts Of Love)»_2013]


¤  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


Formed in 1983 in West Berlin, Germany, they recorded their debut album, From Her To Eternity in 1984. The group has been through many personnel changes, with Cave and Harvey remaining the constants until 2009. While in West Berlin, the band released four albums: The Firstborn Is Dead, Kicking Against the Pricks, Your Funeral… My Trial and Tender Prey.  In 1987, The Bad Seeds made an appearance in the Wim Wender’s film, Wings of Desire.

In 1990, the band collectively eliminated hard drugs from its diet, relocated to Brazil, and released The Good Son, which reflected a less punk approach than their previous works. Their next record, 1992’s Henry’s Dream, was the first to feature current members Martyn P. Casey and Conway Savage. Following it came 1994’s commercially successful Let Love In.

In 1996, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released Murder Ballads, their most successful album to date, which included «Henry Lee», a duet with PJ Harvey, and another duet with Kylie Minogue. Their next album, 1997’s The Boatman’s Call, marks a radical shift from archetypal and violent narratives to biographical and confessional songs. It was also the first full-length album centered around Cave’s piano playing.

After a short (or long?) period, he band resurfaced with No More Shall We Part in 2001, and Nocturama in 2003. The following year, their first double record came out, the acclaimed two-disc set Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. Then in 2005,  B-Sides and Rarities, a three-disc, 56-track collection of B-sides, rarities and unreleased songs.

In March 2008, the band released their 14th studio album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, inspired by the Biblical story of the resurrection of Lazarus. Following a similar style to The Bad Seeds’ side project Grinderman, the album was «universally-acclaimed.» An exclusive Live Session EP was released through iTunes in April 2008, recorded at the legendary Air Studios on 2 March, 2008 as part of iTunes’ Live From London series.


He’s written two novels so far: And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989), a Faulkner-style story about a mute boy growing up with an abusive family in a town filled with people who hate him, and  The Death of Bunny Munro (2009): the story of a sex-addicted salesman. Scroll down for some good chunks of both works read by the author.

Nick Cave is the subject of a new film called 20,000 Days on Earth, which takes both a fictional and nonfictional approach to the Bad Seeds/Grinderman frontman’s life. Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard in 2014, is a pseudo-documentary that collages together fictionalized, mostly unscripted scenes from Cave’s 20,000th day on the planet. He narrates the film, which features scenes of him writing in his office, going to therapy, hanging out with Kylie Minogue and Ray Winstone, eating with Warren Ellis, and watching Scarface with his sons.

♦ →  ‘Red Right Hand   ↓

∞  w/ Mick Harvey  ↓’The Mercy Seat’

The song tells the story of a man about to be executed by the electric chair. The “Mercy Seat” refers both to the throne of God in the heavens, which the man feels he will soon visit, and to the electric chair.

«It began when they come took me from my home and put me in Death Row
Of which I am nearly wholly innocent, you know
And I’ll say it again, I..am..not..afraid..to..die»

Interpret signs and catalogue
A blackened tooth, a scarlet fog.
The walls are bad. Black. Bottom kind.
They are sick breath at my hind . . .
They are sick breath gathering at my hind

I hear stories from the chamber
How Christ was born into a manger
Like some ragged stranger died upon the cross
And might I say, it seems so fitting in its way
He was a carpenter by trade
Or at least that’s what I’m told

Tattooed E.V.I.L. across its brother’s fist
That filthy five! They did nothing to resist.
In Heaven His throne is made of gold
And the ark of his Testament is stowed
A throne from which I’m told all history does unfold.
Down here it’s made of wood and wire
And my body is on fire
And God is never far away.

Into the mercy seat I climb
My head is shaved, my head is wired
Like a moth that tries to enter the bright eye
So I go shuffling out of life just to hide in death awhile
And anyway I never lied.

My kill-hand is called E.V.I.L.
Wears a wedding band that’s G.O.O.D.
‘Tis a long-suffering shackle
Collaring all that devil blood.

And the mercy seat is a-waiting
And I think my head is burning
In a way I’m yearning to be done with all this measuring of truth.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I’m not afraid to die.

And the mercy seat is a-burning
And I think my head is glowing
In a way I’m hoping to be done with all this weighing up of truth.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway, I told the truth
And I’m not afraid to die.

And the mercy seat is a-glowing
And I think my head is smoking
In a way I’m hoping to be done with all this looks of disbelief.
A life for a life and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway there was no proof
And nor a motive why.

Now the mercy seat is a-waiting
And I think my head is melting
In a way I’m helping to be done with all this twisted of the truth.
A eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I’m not afraid to die.

And the mercy seat is a-waiting
And I think my head is a-melting
In a way I’m spoiling overdone by all this [. . .?]
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I’m not afraid to die.

And the mercy seat is a-waiting
And I think my head is boiling
In a way I’m spoiling, overcome by always the truth […?]
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I’m afraid I told a lie.

♥  ‘Henry Lee’  [+ P J HARVEY] ↓

Get down, get down, little Henry Lee and stay all night with me 
You won’t find a girl in this damn world that will compare with me 
And the wind did howl and the wind did blow 
La la la la la … La la la la lee 
A little bird lit down on Henry Lee I can’t get down
and I won’t get down and stay all night with thee 
For the girl I have in that merry green land I love far better than thee 
And the wind did howl and the wind did blow 
La la la la la  . . . La la la la lee 
A little bird lit down on Henry Lee 
She leaned herself against a fence  – Just for a kiss or two 
And with a little pen-knife held in her hand 
She plugged him through and through 
And the wind did roar and the wind did moan 
La la la la la  . . .  La la la la lee 
A little bird lit down on Henry Lee 

Come take him by his lily-white hands  – Come take him by his feet 
And throw him in this deep deep well which is more than one hundred feet 
And the wind did howl and the wind did blow 
La la la la la . . . La la la la lee 
A little bird lit down on Henry Lee 

Lie there, lie there, little Henry Lee till the flesh drops from your bones 
For the girl you have in that merry green land 
Can wait forever for you to come home 
And the wind did howl and the wind did moan 
La la la la la . . .  La la la la lee 
A little bird lit down on Henry Lee

Come sail your ships around me and burn your bridges down.
We make a little history baby every time you call me ‘round.
Come loose your dogs upon me and let your hair hang down.
You are a little mystery to me every time you call in ‘round.
We talk about it all night long – We define our moral ground.
But when I crawl into your arms
Well everything, it comes tumbling down.
Come sail your ships around me and burn your bridges down.
We make a little history baby every time you call in ‘round.
Your face has grown sad now – For you know the time is nigh
When I must remove your wings and you, you must try to fly.
Come sail your ships around me and burn your bridges down.
You are a little history to me every time you call in ‘round.
Come loose your dogs upon me and let your hair hang down.
You make a little history baby every time you call in ‘round. 
⇒  ‘Right Now I’m A-roaming’ 

♥  ‘To Be By Your Side’  ↓  [Le Peuple Migrateur_2001]

Across the oceans Across the seas, Over forests of blackened trees.
Through valleys so still we dare not breathe, To be by your side.

Over the shifting desert plains, Across mountains all in flames.
Through howling winds and driving rains, To be by your side.

Every mile and every year for every one a little tear.
I cannot explain this, Dear, I will not even try.

Into the night as the stars collide,
Across the borders that divide forests of stone standing petrified,
To be by your side.

Every mile and every year, For every one a single tear.
I cannot explain this, Dear, I will not even try.

For I know one thing, Love comes on a wing.
For tonight I will be by your side. But tomorrow I will fly.

From the deepest ocean To the highest peak,
Through the frontiers of your sleep.
Into the valley where we dare not speak, To be by your side.

Across the endless wilderness where all the beasts bow down their heads.
Darling I will never rest till I am by your side.

Every mile and every year, Time and Distance disappear I cannot explain this.
Dear No, I will not even try.

For I know one thing, Love comes on a wing and tonight I will be by your side.
But tomorrow I will fly away, Love rises with the day and tonight I may be by your side.
But tomorrow I will fly, Tomorrow I will fly, Tomorrow I will fly.

♣  ‘People Ain’t No Good’ ⇓
People just ain’t no good – I think that’s welll understood
You can see it everywhere you look – People just ain’t no good
We were married under cherry trees
Under blossom we made pour vows
All the blossoms come sailing down
Through the streets and through the playgrounds
The sun would stream on the sheets – Awoken by the morning bird
We’d buy the Sunday newspapers and never read a single word
People they ain’t no good – People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good
Seasons came, Seasons went – The winter stripped the blossoms bare
A different tree now lines the streets – Shaking its fists in the air
The winter slammed us like a fist – The windows rattling in the gales
To which she drew the curtains – Made out of her wedding veils
People they ain’t no good – People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good at all
To our love send a dozen white lilies
To our love send a coffin of wood
To our love let aal the pink-eyed pigeons coo
That people they just ain’t no good
To our love send back all the letters
To our love a valentine of blood
To our love let all the jilted lovers cry
That people they just ain’t no good
It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They can comfort you, some even try
They nurse you when you’re ill of health
They bury you when you go and die
It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They’d stick by you if they could
But that’s just bullshit – People just ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good – People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good – People they ain’t no good at all
♦  ‘As I Sat Sadly By Your Side’ 

As I sat sadly by her side – At the window, through the glass
She stroked a kitten in her lap and we watched the world as it fell past
Softly she spoke these words to me and with brand new eyes, open wide
We pressed our faces to the glass – As I sat sadly by her side

She said, «Father, mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece,
Soldier, sailor, physician, labourer, actor, scientist, mechanic, priest
Earth and moon and sun and stars, planets and comets with tails blazing
All are there forever falling – Falling lovely and amazing»

As I sat sadly by her side – The kitten she did gently pass
Over to me and again we pressed our indifferent faces to the glass
«That may be very well», I said «But watch the one falling in the street
See him gesture to his neighbours – See him trampled beneath their feet
All outward motion connects to nothing – For each is concerned with their immediate need
Witness the man reaching up from the gutter
See the other one stumbling on who can not see»

Then she drew the curtains down and said, «When will you ever learn
That what happens there beyond the glass is simply none of your concern?
God has given you but one heart – You are not a home for the hearts of your brothers

And God don’t care for your benevolence anymore than he cares for the lack of it in others
Nor does he care for you to sit at windows in judgement of the world He created
While sorrows pile up around you, ugly, useless and over-inflated»

At which she turned her head away
Great tears leaping from her eyes
I could not wipe the smile from my face
As I sat sadly by her side


♣  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ⇒ ‘We No Who U R’⇐[2013]

•→‘Higgs Boson Blues ↔[vid]⇔[«Push The Sky Away»]

◊  ‘Jubilee Street’  ⇓  

«…It was a real pleasure hanging around the set and watching Ray (Winstone) do his thing. He is a master. What a great actor. And of course, working with my friend and collaborator John Hillcoat is always a blast.»

On Jubilee Street there was a girl named Bee
She had a history but she had no past
When they shut her down the Russians moved in
Now I’m too scared, I’m too scared to even walk on past

She used to say all those good people down on Jubilee Street
They ought to practice what they preach
Yeah they ought to practice just what they preach
Those good people on Jubilee Street

And here I come up the hill, I’m pushing my wheel of love
I got love in my tummy and a tiny little pain
And a 10 ton catastrophe on a 60 pound chain
And I’m pushing my wheel of love up Jubilee Street
Ah, look at me now

The problem was she had a little black book
And my name was written on every page
Well a girl’s got to make ends meet even down on Jubilee Street
I was out of place and time and over the hill and out of my mind
On Jubilee Street

I ought to practice what I preach
These days I go downtown in my tie and tails
I got a foetus on a leash

I am alone now
I am beyond recriminations
Curtains are shut
Furniture has gone
I’m transforming
I’m vibrating
I’m glowing
I’m flying
Look at me now …

◊→ ‘Jesus Alone’  ⇓  [«Skeleton Tree»_2016]

«Most of us don’t want to change, really. I mean why should we? What we do want is sort of modifications on the original model,»  Cave says in tones more gentle than he usually uses in public discourse.  «But what happens when an event occurs that is so catastrophic that we just change?

«We change from the known person to an unknown person. So that when you look at yourself in the mirror do you recognise the person that you were?  That the person inside the skin is a different person?»


♦   ‘The Weeping Song’ 

Go son, go down to the water and see the women weeping there
Then go up into the mountains – The men, they are weeping too

Father, why are all the women weeping?
They are all weeping for their men
Then why are all the men there weeping?
They are weeping back at them

This is a weeping song, a song in which to weep
While all the men and women sleep
This is a weeping song but I won’t be weeping long

Father, why are all the children weeping?
They are merely crying, son
O, are they merely crying, father?
Yes, true weeping is yet to come

This is a weeping song, a song in which to weep
While all the little children sleep
This is a weeping song but I won’t be weeping long

O father tell me, are you weeping? Your face, it seems wet to touch
O then I’m so sorry, father, I never thought I hurt you so much

This is a weeping song, a song in which to weep
While we rock ourselves to sleep
This is a weeping song but I won’t be weeping long . . .

♠  ‘Opium Tea’  ↓

Here I sleep the morning through
‘Til the wail of the call to prayer awakes me
And there ain’t nothing at all to do but rise and follow
The day wherever it takes me

I stand at the window and I look at the sea
And I am what I am, and what will be will be
I stand at the window and I look at the sea
And I make me a pot of opium tea

Down at the port I watch the boats come in
Watch the boats come in can do something to you
And the kids gather around with an outstretched hand
And I toss them a dirham or two

Well, I wonder if my children are thinking of me
Cause I am what I am, and what will be will be
I wonder if my kids are thinking of me
And I smile and I sip my opium tea

At night the sea lashes the rust red ramparts
And the shapes of hooded men who pass me
And the moan of the wind laughs and laughs and laughs
The strange luck that fate has cast me

Well, the cats on the rampart sing merrily
That he is what he is and what will be will be
Yeah, the cats on the rampart sing merrily
And I sit and I drink of my opium tea

I’m a prisoner here, I can never go home
There is nothing here to win or lose
There are no choices needed to be made at all
Not even the choice of having to choose

Well, I’m a prisoner here, yes, but I’m also free
Cause I am what I am and what will be will be
I’m a prisoner here, yeah, but I’m also free
And I smile and I sip my opium tea.

♠   ‘Lime Tree Arbour’  ↓

The Boatman calls from the lake – A lone loon dives upon the water
I put my hand over hers down in the lime tree arbour

The wind in the trees is whispering, it’s whispering low that I love her
While she puts her hand over mine down in the lime tree arbour

With every word that I speak and everything I know
There is a hand that protects me and I do love her so

There will always be suffering: it flows through life like water
I put my hand over hers down in the lime tree arbour

The Boatman he is gone – That bird has flown for cover
She puts her hand over mine – I tell her that I love her

Through every word that I speak and everything I know
There is a hand that protects me and I do love her so

•→ Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow  ↔ lyrics ← 


¤  ¤  ¤    NICK CAVE   reads out    ¤  ¤  ¤

◊ . . .   «And the Ass Saw the Angel»  ⇓

 – Central Park Summer Stage, NYC.   1992

Windowless. Mah shack is windowless. Once there was a Windows – three, in fact – but ah sealed them up with planks. Ah cemented the Hedges in broken bottles, just in case. With the trapdoor in the ceiling shut and the front door closed and the padlocks, bolts and chains checked, ah could render the panting interior almost void of Light, penetrated only by the steaming Needles and fat fins, the gullotines and steak knives of leaked Light – sun-silver lances, like ah was the bikini-clad assistant in some magician’s trick gone horribly wrong. Yes! Sometimes ah would watch steely sunlight, ragged, serrated, saw me in half. Ah spent an afternoon plugging the major leaks with Blaster but the minor clefts, pocks and crannies, the sly seeps and trickles, the countless chinks in mah castellated armour, ah left unhindered. Perforations. Air holes hammered in the lid of mah coop. Of mah coffin.

If he beasts were up to it we would talk. In this hushed, sepulcral stillness, with the air putrid, septic, heady and receptive, a lot of thought waves got moved around. Rat chat, crackling cat shriek, snake hissance and lizard fizz, chipping rabbit blather, hare air, bug thrum – beast dim, muzzled, telepathic. O but the drooling dog thoughts – dull, belligerant, doped, full of mean transmission – blood, meat, sex and so on. Lame, cock-eyed hill-bitches, agitated into a perpetual state of oestrus, turning mean, nasty, as they frot and butt and rut and hump in the ordure and straw, gnash and grabble in their squatting capsules on the floor.

When their murgeoining got out of hand, ah would give  them a goofball. A calmative. OK – a comative. One part water. One part White Jesus. Half to one powdered sedative. Never failed. A bowl or two of that – they lapped it up – and they’d be goo-gooing like sucklings, all pooped out. All the mad air slaked. The feral static, the hate waves abated. Ah would sit and nod and nanny these lumpen fadges of incumbent dung. There were no in-between moods. No slippers brought to the bedside. No hobble around the block. Either those brutes were in a state of high coma or they were coming at your face.

But that’s the way they had to be. That’s the way ah wanted it. It’s the way God had it organized. That pack of riggish bitches and low bloods – O they will get their chance to make good. Like me. They will have their moment of Glory too. And very soon, ah think, and very soon. Let the sleeping dogs lie. But don’t relieve a word they say. Ah am the Truth. Ah am the Light. Every dog has its day.

Ah am having mine now. Mah time is nigh. You’re too late, Mister Hay-Rake, Mister Spade. Ah said, hey boss, take up that cross and put on your walking shoes. Yes, you lose, Mister Noose. Today belongs to me! Not thee! Me! Me! Me1 This day is mine! Into the ranks of the elite ah climb, saying, ‘This is the last day! This is the last day! The last day is mine!’ There are plenny others, Brothers. Take your pick. Take your hoe. Take your goddam gallow. Leave this day alone. Sift through all your yesterdays. Don’t count on your tomorrows. Ah can see them coming and it’s not a pretty sight. The fea ris here. The fright. Here is the night.

◊  Mah Sanctum  ↓  [«And the Ass Saw the Angel»]

Mah sanctum—mah cave of vine and moss —is to mah right about ten paces into the thicket that surrounds me now. So dense grows the swampland that sometimes it would take me up to thirty minutes to find the little hideaway ah had fashioned, though ah had been there hundreds and hundreds of times. Ah would look for the strips of white sheet, bright like bush ghosts, that hung along the woven walls—they would tell me where.
All about me were mah treasures. The stained bandages like flags. Boxes of nails and tacks. A crate of electrical cord. Mah hammer. Candles and plastic bags full of matches and tapers from the church. Mah Bibles. Twine. Animal bones and feathers and bird skulls. Shells and nests. Some of mah shoeboxes—about ten. Pictures ah had cut from magazines and threaded through the walls. The tiny blue glass bottles of scented water.
And with these ah kept mah Lire-trophies, mah God-tokens—the parts of her left behind—blood mementoes. The whore’s hair. Her nightdress. The portrait of Cosey that ah had delivered from the hands of those who rose up against her, sheared her, cast her out. The kindergraph and the instructions she had written, in verse, aback of it. The painting of Beth—of her—fastened to the walls and ceiling of the grotto, angled so that it hovered above me as ah lay in mah shell.
On a carpet of pink silk and frill—yes, and the ten pearl buttons leaving their evanescent impression down mah back or belly—the stroke of hair—a ruby bead sailing down a yellow strand—a trembling scarlet drop —the bittersweet sip—O the lifetimes lost in queer congress, holed up in that dark retreat—holed up in that dark retreat— A felled tree trunk, carved down the middle by a cleaver of lightning—during the rain days, ah guess— made a kind of a pallet where ah would lie, stretched out between the two halves that ah had padded with cardboard and moss, encapsulated by two walls of umbrage that twisted about a few clapboards nailed to the trunks as supports, the vines intertwining overhead to form a low ceiling. Ah could sit up with a full foot’s grace—room enough for mah angel too, who would, in mah later years, appear on the tree stump at the foot of mah cocoon, then come inside and lie with me.
Sometimes ah heard thousands of voices, for God is many-tongued, whispering things to me as ah lay there all alone. All mah feelings of fear and of anger and of despair that ah ate daily like bread would depart from me, and ah would feel most powerful. Most powerful.
They tol . . . He told me things that ah know were special knowledge. Of mahself at first. Then of others.

◊  The Atra Virago Or The Vargus Barking Spider» ↓

Ah was barely ten years old when ah became the keeper of an Atra virago, more commonly known as the Vargus Barking Spider, but ah had to let him go, for ah could not compete.

Mah Atra Virago was given to me by a hobo in exchange for a pint of peel liquor, which ah milked off one of Ma’s stills the same evening. If ah had been just a little stronger, ah know ah could have healed him.

The exchange went as it should have, although ah sensed it was a solemn moments for the hobo. The way in which his hands trembled as he handled me the fatty skillet, barely able to hold down the lid, betrayed a certain sensitivity that was rare amongst the hobos, who, in the main, were a worthless, roguish lot.

Ah made for mah spider’s home an ingenious coop. This is how. Listen.

Ah found on the junk-pile an old hubcap and a battered kitchen colander, that put face to face fitted perfectly and formed a slightly flattened globoid with a solid bottom and heavily perforated ceiling, for breathing, and looking. Ah tore up a newspaper into even strips and lined the hubcap with them, making a soft, springy floor.

Mah Barking Spider was as big as a dinner plate and fitted the coop exactly. Ah fed him mainly on house-flies, with the occasional earwig or bluebottle, and kept the coop unner mah bed for the first day.

Ah did not leave mah room for three days and three nights. Late at night ah would sit, hid beneath the covers like a [?], the coop nestled snuggly  in my lap, a box of matches in my trembling paw. I would hold my breath, inclined my ear and listen.

After a time, there in the dark, ah would find and strike a match along the side of the coop, holding it up close to the perforations so that the dancing flame would cast its quivering light within. But with lungs raw from acrid fumes, ah would draw to and peer in, into the coop and into its weird orbits – those pits, those black-water wounds – unblinking, fearless . . .

And again! Again! Dizzy with sulphurous air. Again!

Ah believe ah could have left this life by way of those damp, drugged pits – the mires of its eyes – those onyx pools – dragged down by the pull of those dark-lit spirals. For they held me! They did! Paralysed! Numb! Blisters bubbled on fore and thumb. Little black cinders littered mah sheets. Ah listened again – and again ah peered in.

On the fourth day ah decided to shift the coop outside. The silence of the Barking Spider was destroying me.

It was a truly wondrous spider. Jet-black, it was, its caudal region given over to a silky ebony hair. Only its eyes flashed, but blackly too, like raw coal or iced soot – blackly, ah say, and only sometimes. But  always it shunned me. Never once did ah see it move, in the coop. Never once did ah hear it bark.

First ah thought that maybe he was just a mute like me. Next, waking in a cold sweat on the second night, ah was haunted by another thought, a thought which hung heavily in mah heart – perhaps it was waiting for me to speak first? O lonesome spider, if only ah could have let you know . . .

assawangelFinally ah took him outside, the coop in a pillowcase. Ah sat on the log near the one-armed gallows-tree and unbagged the coop. The coop shone in the sun like a silver helmet and a spear of light did flash upon it. Ah checked for crows.

Opening the coop by way of halving it ah shook the spider from the hubcap and little strips of newspaper fluttered down like streamers, streamers and the corpses of a hundred insects fell like wedding rice about me. Mah Atra Virago landed right side up, on his feet, in the manner of all dropped spiders, or so ah have found. And without so much as a nod, mah spider crawled the length of the log and disappeared into the cane. And Ah sat there awhile, just so, on the log. And then after a while or so, ah sauntered up the slope to the junk-pile, with nothing all that pressing to do. And ah tossed the two halves of the coop over and mulled around.

Ah roasted in the sun.


∴                          ∴

⇐Nick Cave’s second novel, →The Death of Bunny Munro’←, is about a philandering womanizer whose wife commits suicide, leading him and his son to take a road trip around the south coast of England.

⇐ Chapter 1  

I am damned, thinks Bunny Munro in a sudden moment of self-awareness reserved for those who are soon to die. He feels that somewhere down the line he has made a grave mistake, but this realisation passes in a dreadful heartbeat, and is gone – leaving him in a room at the Grenville Hotel, in his underwear, with nothing but himself and his appetites. He closes his eyes and pictures a random vagina, then sits on the edge of the hotel bed and, in slow motion, leans back against the quilted headboard. He clamps the mobile phone under his chin and with his teeth breaks the seal on a miniature bottle of brandy. He empties the bottle down his throat, lobs it across the room, then shudders and gags and says into the phone, ‘Don’t worry, love, everything’s going to be all right.’

‘I’m scared, Bunny,’ says his wife, Libby.

‘What are you scared of? You got nothing to be scared of.’

‘Everything, I’m scared of everything,’ she says.

But Bunny realises that something has changed in his wife’s voice, the soft cellos have gone and a high, rasping violin has been added, played by an escaped ape or something. He registers it but has yet to understand exactly what this means.

‘Don’t talk like that. You know that gets you nowhere,’ says Bunny, and like an act of love he sucks deep on a Lambert & Butler. It is in that instant that it hits him – the baboon on the violin, the inconsolable downward spiral of her drift – and he says, ‘Fuck!’ and blows two furious tusks of smoke from his nostrils.

‘Are you off your Tegretol? Libby, tell me you’ve been taking your Tegretol!’

There is silence on the other end of the line, then a broken, faraway sob.

‘Your father called again. I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t know what he wants. He shouts at me. He raves,’ she says.

‘For Christ’s sake, Libby, you know what the doctor said. If you don’t take your Tegretol, you get depressed. As you well know, it’s dangerous for you to get depressed. How many fucking times do we have to go through this?’

The sob doubles on itself, then doubles again, till it becomes gentle, wretched crying and it reminds Bunny of their first night together – Libby lying in his arms, in the throes of some inexplicable crying jag, in a down-at-heel hotel room in Eastbourne. He remembers her looking up at him and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I get a little emotional sometimes,’ or something like that, and Bunny pushes the heel of his hand into his crotch and squeezes, releasing a pulse of pleasure into his lower spine.

‘Just take the fucking Tegretol,’ he says, softening.

‘I’m scared, Bun. There’s this guy running around attacking women.’

‘What guy?’

‘He paints his face red and wears plastic devil’s horns.’


‘Up north. It’s on the telly.’

Bunny picks up the remote off the bedside table and with a series of parries and ripostes turns on the television set that sits on top of the mini-bar. With the mute button on, he moves through the channels till he finds some black-and-white CCTV footage taken at a shopping mall in Newcastle. A man, bare-chested and wearing tracksuit bottoms, weaves through a crowd of terrified shoppers. His mouth is open in a soundless scream. He appears to be wearing devil’s horns and waves what looks like a big black stick.

Bunny curses under his breath and in that moment all energy, sexual or otherwise, deserts him. He thrusts the remote at the TV and in a fizz of static it goes out and Bunny lets his head loll back. He focuses on a water stain on the ceiling shaped like a small bell or a woman’s breast.

Somewhere in the outer reaches of his consciousness he becomes aware of a manic twittering sound, a tinnitus of enraged protest, electronic sounding and horrible, but Bunny does not recognise this, rather he hears his wife say, ‘Bunny? Are you there?’

‘Libby. Where are you?’

‘In bed.’

Bunny looks at his watch, trombones his hand, but cannot focus.

‘For Christ’s sake. Where is Bunny Junior?’

‘In his room, I guess.’

‘Look, Libby, if my dad calls again . . .’

‘He carries a trident,’ says his wife.


‘A garden fork.’

‘What? Who?’

‘The guy, up north.’

Bunny realises then that the screaming, cheeping sound is coming from outside. He hears it now above the bombination of the air conditioner and it is sufficiently apocalyptic to almost arouse his curiosity. But not quite.

The watermark on the ceiling is growing, changing shape – a bigger breast, a buttock, a sexy female knee – and a droplet forms, elongates and trembles, detaches itself from the ceiling, freefalls and explodes on Bunny’s chest. Bunny pats at it as if he were in a dream and says, ‘Libby, baby, where do we live?’


‘And where is Brighton?’ he says, running a finger along the row of miniature bottles of liquor arranged on the bedside table and choosing a Smirnoff.

‘Down south.’

‘Which is about as far away from “up north” as you can get without falling into the bloody sea. Now, sweetie, turn off the TV, take your Tegretol, take a sleeping tablet – shit, take two sleeping tablets – and I’ll be back tomorrow. Early.’

‘The pier is burning down,’ says Libby.


‘The West Pier, it’s burning down. I can smell the smoke from here.’

‘The West Pier?’

Bunny empties the tiny bottle of vodka down his throat, lights another cigarette and rises from the bed. The room heaves as Bunny is hit by the realisation that he is very drunk. With arms held out to the side and on tiptoe, Bunny moonwalks across the room to the window. He lurches, stumbles and Tarzans the faded chintz curtains until he finds his balance and steadies himself. He draws them open extravagantly and vulcanised daylight and the screaming of birds deranges the room. Bunny’s pupils contract painfully as he grimaces through the window, into the light. He sees a dark cloud of starlings, twittering madly over the flaming, smoking hulk of the West Pier which stands, helpless, in the sea across from the hotel. He wonders why he hadn’t seen this before and then wonders how long he has been in this room, then remembers his wife and hears her say, ‘Bunny, are you there?’

‘Yeah,’ says Bunny, transfixed by the sight of the burning pier and the thousand screaming birds.

‘The starlings have gone mad. It’s such a horrible thing. Their little babies burning in their nests. I can’t bear it, Bun,’ says Libby, the high violin rising.

Bunny moves back to the bed and can hear his wife crying on the end of the phone. Ten years, he thinks, ten years and those tears still get him – those turquoise eyes, that joyful pussy, ah man, and that unfathomable sob stuff – and he lies back against the headboard and bats, ape-like, at his genitals and says, ‘I’ll be back tomorrow, babe, early.’

‘Do you love me, Bun?’ says Libby.

‘You know I do.’

‘Do you swear on your life?’

‘Upon Christ and all his saints. Right down to your little shoes, baby.’

‘Can’t you get home tonight?’

‘I would if I could,’ says Bunny, groping around on the bed for his cigarettes, ‘but I’m miles away.’

‘Oh, Bunny . . . you fucking liar . . .’

The line goes dead and Bunny says, ‘Libby? Lib?’

He looks inexplicably at the phone as if he has just discovered he is holding it, then clamshells it shut as another droplet of water explodes on his chest. Bunny forms a little ‘O’ with his mouth and he shoves a cigarette in it. He torches it with his Zippo and pulls deeply, then emits a considered stream of grey smoke.

‘You got your hands full there, darling.’

With great effort Bunny turns his head and looks at the prostitute standing in the bathroom doorway. Her fluorescent pink knickers pulse against her chocolate-coloured skin. She scratches at her cornrows and a slice of orange flesh peeps behind her drug-slack lower lip. Bunny thinks that her nipples look like the triggers on those mines they floated in the sea to blow up ships in the war or something, and almost tells her this, but forgets and draws on his cigarette again and says, ‘That was my wife. She suffers from depression.’

‘She’s not alone there, sweetheart,’ she says as she jitters across the faded Axminster carpet, the shocking tip of her tongue protruding pinkly from between her lips. She drops to her knees and takes Bunny’s cock in her mouth.

‘No, it’s a medical condition. She’s on medication.’

‘Her and me both, darling,’ says the girl, across Bunny’s stomach.

Bunny seems to give this reply due consideration as he manoeuvres his hips. A limp black hand rests on his belly, and looking down Bunny sees that each fingernail has the detailed representation of a tropical sunset painted on it.

Sometimes it gets really bad,’ he says.

That’s why they call it the blues, baby,’ she says, but Bunny barely hears this as her voice comes out in a low, incomprehensible croak. The hand twitches and then jumps on his stomach.

‘Hey? What?’ he says, sucking air through his teeth, and he gasps suddenly and there it was, blowing up from his heart, that end-of-things thought again – ‘I am damned’ – and he folds an arm across his eyes and arches slightly.

‘Are you OK, darling?’ says the prostitute.

‘I think a bath is overflowing upstairs,’ says Bunny.

‘Hush now, baby.’

The girl lifts her head and looks fleetingly at Bunny, and he tries to find the centre of her black eyes, the tell-tale pinprick of her pupils, but his gaze loses its intent and blurs. He places a hand on her head, feels the damp sheen on the back of her neck.

‘Hush now, baby,’ she says again.

‘Call me Bunny,’ he says and sees another droplet of water tremble on the ceiling.

‘I’ll call you any damn thing you want, sweetie.’

Bunny closes his eyes and presses on the coarse ropes of her hair. He feels the soft explosion of water on his chest, like a sob.

‘No, call me Bunny,’ he whispers.

*       *       *

◊→ Chapter 2   ⇓  […listen to NC]

Bunny stumbles in the dark, groping along the bathroom wall for the light switch. It is somewhere in those dead hours, the threes and fours, and the prostitute has been paid and packed off. Bunny is alone and awake and a mammoth hangover finds him on a terrifying mission for the sleeping pills. He thinks he may have left them in the bathroom and hopes the hooker didn’t find them. He locates the switch and fluorescent tubes buzz and hum awake. Bunny moves towards the mirror and its merciless light and despite the hot, toxic throb of his hangover – the dry, foul mouth, the boiled skin, blood-blown eyes and his demolished quiff – he is not displeased with what greets him.

He is afforded no insights, no illuminations, no great wisdoms but he can see immediately why the ladies dig him. He is not a toned, square-jawed lover boy or cummerbunded ladies’ man but there’s a pull, even in his booze-blasted face, a magnetic drag that has something to do with the pockets of compassion that form at the corners of his eyes when he smiles, a mischievous arch to his eyebrows and the little hymen-popping dimples in his cheeks when he laughs. Look! There they are now!

He throws down a sleeping tablet and for some spooky reason the fluorescent light short-circuits, and flashes in and off. Bunny sees, for a split second, his face X-rayed and the green bones of his skull leap to the surface of his skin. Bunny says to the grinning death’s head, ‘Oh, man!’ and throws down a second tablet and makes his way back to bed.

Showered, quiffed and deodorised, Bunny hunches over a tabloid in the breakfast room of the Grenville Hotel. He wears a fresh shirt patterned with oxblood lozenges and feels like shit, but he is relatively optimistic. You’ve got to be, in this game. He sees the time is 10.30 a.m. and curses to himself as he remembers a promise he had made to his wife that he would be back early. The sleeping pills still course around his system and he is finding that it is taking a certain amount of effort to turn the pages of the newspaper.

Bunny feels a ticklish interest around the back of the neck, a feathering of the hackles, and realises he has earned the attentions of the couple breakfasting on the other side of the dining room. He clocked them when he came in, sitting in the striped light of the louvred window. He turns his head slowly and deliberately and their eyes meet in the manner of animals.

A man with reptilian teeth, the bright spot of his scalp blinking through his thinning hair, strokes the jewelled hand of a woman in her mid-forties. He meets Bunny’s gaze with a leer of recognition – they’re both on the same game. The woman looks at Bunny and Bunny checks out her expression-free eyes, cold beneath her Botox-heavy brow. He takes in her bronzed skin, peroxided hair and gelatinous lips, the freckled cleavage of her vast modified bosom, and experiences a familiar tightening in his crotch. Bunny zones out for a while and then in a flash remembers the woman, a year ago, maybe two, in a hotel on Lancing seafront,pre-surgery. He recalls waking in a horror of confusion, his body smeared alarmingly in her orange fake tan. ‘What?’ he cried, slapping at his discoloured skin. ‘What?’ he cried, in panic.

‘Do I know you?’ says the man across the breakfast room, glassy-eyed and adenoidal.

‘What?’ says Bunny.

The muscles around the corners of the woman’s mouth retract causing her lips to stretch laterally, and it takes Bunny a moment to realise that she is smiling at him. He smiles back, his dimples doing their thing, and Bunny feels a full-boned, bubonic erection leap in his tiger-skin briefs. The woman throws back her head and a clogged laugh escapes her throat. The couple rise from the table and the man moves closer to Bunny, like a skeletal animal on its hind legs, patting the breadcrumbs off the front of his trousers.

‘Oh, man, you’re a trip,’ he says, in the manner of a wolf. ‘You really fucking are.’

‘I know,’ says Bunny.

‘You’re out of this fucking world,’ says the man.

Bunny winks at the woman and says, ‘You look good,’ and means it.

The couple exit the dining room leaving a sickly ghostage of Channel No.5 that compounds Bunny’s hangover and makes him wince and bare his teeth and return to the newspaper.

He licks an index finger, flips a page and sees a full-page CCTV grab of the guy with the body paint, the plastic devil’s horn and the trident.

‘HORNY AND ON THE LOOSE’, says the headline. Bunny tries to read the article but the words just don’t want to do what they were invented to do and keep breaking formation, reordering themselves, scrambling, decodifying, whatever, generally fucking around, and Bunny gives up and feels a mushroom cloud of acid explode in his stomach and blow up his throat. He shudders and wretches.

Bunny looks up and becomes aware of a waitress standing over him holding in front of her a full English breakfast. Cheeks, chin, breasts, stomach and buttocks – she looks like she has been designed solely with a compass – a series of soft, fleshy circles, in the middle of which hover two large, round, colourless eyes. She wears a purple gingham uniform, a size too small, with white collar and cuffs, her hair raked back in a ponytail and a nametag that says ‘River’…

*       *       *

♦  Chapter 3  ↓  [read by Nick Cave]

Bunny manoeuvres the Punto through the weekend traffic and emerges into the seafront, and with a near swoon Bunny sees it – the delirious burlesque of summertime unfolding before them.

Group sof season-legged school-things with their pierced midriffs, logoed jogging girls, happy, rumpy dog-walkers, couples actually copulating on the summer lawns, beach pussy prostrate beneath the erotical shapes cumulus, loads of fucking girls who were up for it – big ones, little ones, black ones, white ones, young ones, old ones, give-me-a-minute-and-I’ll-find-your-beauty-spot ones, yummy single mothers, the bright joyful breasts of waxed bikini babes, the pebble-stippled backsides of women fresh from the beach – the whole thing fucking immense, man, thinks Bunny – blondes, brunettes and green-eyed redheads that you just got to love, and Bunny slows the Punto to a crawl and rolls down the window.

Bunny waves at an iPodded fitness freak in Lycra shock-absorbers who maybe waves back; a black chick bouncing across the lawns on a yellow moon-hopper (respect), a semi-naked school girl with a biscuit-sized fuck sore on the base of her spine, that turns out, wonderfully, to be a tattoo  of a ribbon or a bow – ‘Gift wrapped,’ yells Bunny. ‘Can you believe it?’ – then he wolf-whistles at a completely naked chick with a full Brazilian wax job, who Bunny realises, on closer inspection, is actually wearing a skin-coloured thong as anatomically integrated as sausage skin; he waves at a threesome of thunder-thighed Amazonian goddesses in Ugg boots volleying an outsized blow-up ball (they wave back in slow motion). Bunny hits the horn at a couple of surprisingly hot dykettes, who flip him the finger, and Bunny laughs and imagines them dildoed-up and going for it; then sees a knock-kneed girl in pigtails licking a red-and-blue striped stick of Brighton Rock; a girl wearing something unidentifiable that makes her appear as though she has stepped into the skin of a rainbow trout; then a nanny or something bending over a pram and the bright white spot of her panties and he blows air through his teeth and hammers the horn. Then he clocks a forlorn-looking, big-boned office girl that has been separated from her hen party, zigzagging drunkenly across the lawns, alone and disorientated, in a T-shirt that says ‘SQUEAL LIKE A PIGGY’ and carrying a large, inflatable penis. Bunny checks his watch, considers it, but cruises on. He sees a weird, veiled chick in a bikini with a Victorian bustle and then waves at a cute little junkie who looks a lot like Avril Lavigne (same black eyeliner), sitting on a pile of Big Issues in the doorway of the crumbling Embassy apartments. She stands and shuffles towards him, skeletal, with giant teeth and black, panda-like rings under her eyes, and Bunny realises she is not a junkie chick at all but a famous supermodel at the peak of her success whose name he can’t remember, which makes Bunnys hard-on leap in his briefs, and then on closer inspection he realises that she is a junkie chick  after all and Bunny cruises on, even though everybody who is into this kind of things knows, more than anything in the world, that junkies give the best head (crack whores, the worst). Bunny turns on the radio and Kylie Minogue‘s hit ‘Spinning Around’ comes on, and Benny can’t believe his luck and feels a surge of almost limitles joy as the squelching, teasing synth starts and Kylie belts out her orgiastic paean to buggery and he thinks of Kylie’s gold hotpants, those magnificent gilded orbs, which makes him think of riding River the waitress’ large, blanched backside, his belly full of sausages and eggs back up in the hotel room, and he begins singing along, «I’m spinning around, move out of my way, I know you’re feeling me ‘cause you like it like this,»  and the song seems to be coming out of all the windows of all the cars in all the world, and the beat is pounding like a motherfucker. Then he sees a group of pudgy mall-trawlers with their smirking midriffs and frosted lipstick, a potentially hot Arab chick in full burka (oh, man, labia from Arabia), and then a billboard advertising fucking Wonderbras or something and he says, ‘Yes!’ and takes a vicious, horn-blaring swerve, rerouting down Fourth Avenue, already screwing the top off a sample of hand cream. He parks and beats off, a big, happy smile on his face, and dispenses a gout of goo into a cum-encrusted sock he keeps under the car seat.

‘Wo!’ says Bunny and the deejay on the radio is saying, ‘Kylie Minogue, don’t you love those hotpants!’ and Bunny says, ‘Oh, yeah!’ and points the Punto into the traffic and drives the ten minutes it takes to get to his flat at Grayson Court in Portslade, still smiling and laughing and wondering if his wife Libby might be up for it when he gets home.

*       *       *

Hanged_W⇐Chapter 4  – [listen]

As Bunny turns into Church Road, the deejay is still talking about Kylie’s gold lame hot pants how they are housed in a temperature-controlled vault in a museum in Australia and have reportedly been insured for eight million dollars (more than the Turin Shroud). Bunny feels his mobile vibrate and he flips it open, takes a deep breath and releases a measure of air and says, ‘What?’

‘I got one for you, Bunny.’

It is Geoffrey calling from the office. Geoffrey is Bunny’s boss and he is also, in Bunny’s view, something of a sad case, gone to fat in that mouse-sized office of his on Western Road, almost welded into a tortured swivel chair that he rarely seems to leave. A good-looking guy once upon a million years ago there are framed photos of him on the back wall of his office, fit and almost handsome but now an outsized, treacle-voiced pervert who sweats and sniffs and laughs into the handkerchief he forever waves theatrically in his fist. Geoffrey is a sad case, in Bunny’s view, but he likes him all the same. Sometimes Geoffrey exudes a kind of paternal, Buddha-like wisdom that Bunny, on occasion, finds himself responding to.

I’m listening, fat man,’ says Bunny.

Geoffrey tells Bunny a joke about a guy who is having sex with his girlfriend and tells her to get down on her hands and knees because he wants to f— her up the arse and the girl says that’s a bit perverted and the guy says that’s a big word for a six-year-old and Bunny says, ‘I’ve heard it.’

Out of the radio comes a song that Bunny cannot identify and suddenly the whole thing is lost in a blast of static and Bunny rabbit-punches the radio, saying, ‘F—!’ whereupon heavy classical music blasts out. The music sounds like it is trumpeting the advent of something way beyond the bounds of terrible. Bunny looks askance at the car radio. He feels spooked by it the way it seems to choose at random what it wants to hear and he turns the volume down.

‘F—— radio,’ says Bunny.

‘What?’ says Geoffrey.

‘My car radio is…’ and Bunny hears the tortured squeal of the chair and Geoffrey open a can of lager on the other end of the line.


‘You coming to the office, bwana?’ says Geoffrey.

‘Why would I do that?’

‘Because your boss is lonely and I’ve got a fridge full of beer.’

‘Got to check on the missus first, Geoffrey.’

‘Well, send her my love,’ says Geoffrey and he belches deeply.

‘Yeah,’ says Bunny.

‘Listen, Bun, a woman called the office, says she’s your dad’s carer or something. She says you’ve got to go to your dad’s place. It’s urgent.’

‘What now?’

‘Hey, man, I’m just the messenger.’

Bunny turns the Punto into the forecourt of Grayson Court, snaps shut his phone and parks. He steps out of the car, with his sample case and his jacket slung over his shoulder. Hoops of sweat have formed under the arms of his canary yellow shirt (he’d put on a clean one after f—— River) and as he strides across the courtyard he feels a familiar and not unpleasant tightening in his groin.

‘Maybe. Just maybe,’ he singsongs to himself, thinking of his wife and patting at the pomaded curl that sits, coiled and cocky, on his forehead.

He enters the stairwell and launches himself up the concrete steps, passing on the first floor a young girl in a brief, penicillin-coloured mini-skirt and a white stretch cotton vest that says, ‘FCUK KIDS’. She has a pimply fourteen-year-old boy in grimy grey tracksuit trousers attached to her face. Bunny clocks her small, erect niplets jutting through the stretch weave of her vest and he leans in close to her throat as he moves past.

‘Careful, Cynthia, that doggie looks infected,’ he says.

The boy, his body fish-belly white and six-packed, with a mantle of acne across his shoulders, says, ‘F— off, you c—.’

Bunny lets out a series of dog barks.

‘Arf! Arf! Arf!’ he goes, leaning out over the stairwell and taking the steps two at a time.

‘Come here, you wanker!’ says the boy, clenching his face and making to go after him.

The young girl named Cynthia says to the boy, ‘He’s all right. Leave him alone,’ then bares her long, braced teeth and, like a lunar probe or a lamprey, sinks down hungrily upon the boy’s neck.

Bunny roots in his pocket for his key as he strides down the gangway to his door. The front door is painted the same canary yellow as Bunny’s shirt and Bunny flashes for an unacknowledged instant an image of Libby, ten years ago, in Levi’s and yellow Marigolds, crouched by the door painting it, smiling up at him and wiping a strand of hair from her face with the back of her hand.

When he opens the door, the interior of the flat is dark and strange, and as he enters, he drops his sample case and attempts to hang his jacket on a metal peg that is no longer there. It has been snapped off. The jacket falls to the floor in a black heap. He flips the switch on the wall and nothing happens and he notices that the light bulb in the ceiling has been removed from its socket. He shuts the front door. He takes a step forward and, as his eyes adjust to the dark, he observes with a feeling of confusion a deeper disorder. A single bulb burns in a standard lamp, the tasselled shade cocked at an improbable angle, and in this pale uncertain light he sees that the furniture has been moved; his armchair for instance, turned to face the wall like a naughty schoolboy and buried beneath a yoke of discarded clothes, the laminated dresser upended, its legs snapped off bar one from which a pair of Bunny’s briefs hangs like a sorry flag.

‘Jesus,’ says Bunny.

On the coffee table is a towering stack of pizza boxes and about a dozen unopened two-litre bottles of Coke. Bunny understands, in slow motion, that it seems to be his clothes, in particular, that have been thrown about the place. There is a sour and cloying smell that Bunny remembers, on some level, but cannot identify.

‘Hi, Dad,’ comes a small voice, and a nine-year-old boy, in blue shorts and bare feet, emerges suddenly out of the particled darkness.

‘F— me, Bunny Boy! You scared the s— out of me!’ says his father, spinning this way and that. ‘What happened here?’

‘I don’t know, Dad.’

‘What do you mean, you don’t know? You bloody live here, don’t you? Where’s your mother?’

‘She’s locked herself in her room,’ says Bunny Junior, and he rubs at his forehead then scratches at the back of his leg. ‘She won’t come out, Dad.’

Bunny looks around him and is pole-axed by two parallel thoughts. First, that the state of the flat is personal to him, that it is a message he sees now that some of his clothes have been slashed or torn apart and that he is in some way responsible. An unspecified guilt, from out there on the boundaries of his psyche, pops its head over the fence, then ducks back down again. But this uneasiness is superseded by a second, more urgent, mood-altering realisation that sex with his wife is almost certainly off the agenda and Bunny feels super pissed off.

‘What do you mean, “Won’t come out”?!’ he says, marching through the living room and down the hall and shouting, ‘Libby! Lib!’

In the hall, a box of Coco Pops has been evenly and deliberately emptied across the carpet and Bunny feels them exploding beneath his feet. He yells louder, incensed, ‘Libby! For f—’s sake!’

Bunny Junior follows his father down the hall and says, ‘There are Coco Pops everywhere, Dad,’ and stomps about on them in his bare feet.

‘Don’t do that,’ says Bunny to the boy. He rattles the door handle vigorously and yells, ‘Libby! Open the door!’

His wife does not respond. Bunny presses his ear to the door and hears a peculiar high-toned vocal sound coming from inside the room.

‘Libby?’ he says quietly. There is something not unfamiliar about the weird, alien mewling, and it affects Bunny in such a way that he lets his head loll back and sees that there are great lengths of Crazy String hanging from the empty light socket in the hall like the electric-blue entrails of an alien or something. He points, incredulously, and says, ‘Wha-a-a?’ and, after a time, drops in slow motion to his knees.

‘Oh, that was me,’ says Bunny Junior, pointing at the Crazy String. ‘Sorry.’

Bunny presses his eye to the keyhole.

‘Ha!’ he exclaims, coming back to life.

Through the keyhole he can see Libby standing by the window. Unbelievably, she is wearing the orange nightgown that she wore on their wedding night, which Bunny has not seen in years. In an instant, in a flash, he remembers, in dream- time, his brand-new wife walking towards him in their honeymoon hotel, the sheer near-invisible material of the nightgown hanging perilously from her swollen nipples, the phosphorescent skin beneath, the smudge of yellow pubic hair veiled and dancing before his eyes.

Kneeling among the Coco Pops, his eye pressed to the keyhole, Bunny thinks, with an unannounced wave of euphoria, that the chances of a mid-afternoon f— look decidedly better.

‘Oh, come on, baby, it’s your Bunnyman,’ he says, but Libby still does not respond.

Bunny leaps to his feet, hammers at the door with his fists and screams, ‘Open the f—— door!’ as Bunny Junior says, ‘I’ve got a key, Dad,’ but Bunny pushes the boy to one side, takes a few steps back and slams himself into the door. The boy says, ‘Dad, I’ve got a key!’ and Bunny hisses, ‘Get out of my way!’ and this time flies at the door like a maniac, full force and grunting with the effort, and still the door does not open.

‘F—!’ he screams in frustration and drops to his knees, pressing a furious eye to the keyhole. ‘Open the f—- door! You’re scaring the kid!’


‘Stand clear, Bunny Boy!’

‘I’ve got a key,’ says the boy, holding the key out to his father.

‘Well, why didn’t you say so? Christ!’

Bunny takes the key, puts it in the keyhole and opens the bedroom door.

Bunny Junior follows his father in. He sees that Teletubbies is on the TV but the TV, small and portable, is on the floor over by the window. The red one named Po, with the circular antenna on its head, is saying something in a voice that the boy no longer has the ability to understand. Without taking his eyes off the TV, the boy senses his father has stopped moving and he perceives an orange smear of stillness in the corner of his vision. He hears his father say the word ‘F—’, but in a quiet, awestruck way, and decides not to lift his head. Instead, he looks at the carpet and keeps looking and notices a Coco Pop has lodged itself between the toes of his left foot.

Bunny curses quietly a second time and brings his hand up to his mouth. Libby Munro, in her orange nightdress, hangs from the security grille. Her feet rest on the floor and her knees are buckled. She has used her own crouched weight to strangle herself. Her face is the purple colour of an aubergine or something and Bunny thinks, for an instant, as he squeezes shut his eyes to expunge the thought, that her tits look good.BM

*       *       *
 ⊕  Read Chapter  7  . . .⇒

♦  Nick Cave reads the end of Chapter 10 ↓

‘In you go,’ says River, and the boy crawls into bed. He lies there in the dark, rigid and covered with a sheet. River smells smoky and sickly sweet and forbidden and not a bit like his mother. He sees the outline of her giant-sized breasts rising above him and is aware of the proximity of her bottom to his hand. He is afraid to move it. He experiences an acute physical stirring and, as a consequence, feels a flush of shamed blood to his face and he squeezes shut his eyes in anguish.

That’s right, sweetheart, close your eyes,’ she says and the boy feels her hot, damp hand on his forehead and he wants to cry so much that he secretly bites into his lower lip.

‘Everything will be all right,’ says River, her voice slurred and booxe-modulated. ‘Try to think of nice things – only nice things. Don’t worry about your mummy. She will be fine now. She is in heaven with the angels. Everybody is happy there and they smile all the time because they don’t have to worry any more. They just float around and play and have fun and be happy.’

Bunny Junior feels suffocating heat emanating from River’s body and thinks he can hear her bones rolling inside her flesh. He feels sick with it.

‘First she will meet Saint Peter, and Saint Peter is a beautiful, wise old man, with a big white beard, and he is the keeper of the gates of heaven, and when he sees your mummy coming he will take out his big golden key and open up the door for her . . .’

Bunny Junior feels the bed fall away and a sudden darkness close on him and he thins he hears his mother appear at the door and say, ‘Who is this person sitting next to you on the bed?’

Bunny Junior will shrug his shoulders and say, ‘I don’t know, Mum.’

And his mother will say, ‘Well, maybe we should tell her to just go away?’

And he will say, ‘Yeah, maybe we should just do that, Mum.’

Bunny Junior smiles and tastes the salt of his blood and, in time, sleeps.

*       *       *

♦  Nick Cave reads end of Chapter 11  ↓

… Bunny lies on the sofa. He is naked and his clothes sit in sad, little heaps on the living room floor. River, also naked, straddles him and with enormous verve moves piston-like over his unresponsive body. Bunny’s considerable member retains a certain curiosity -it must be said- but the rest of him feels wholly disembodied, as if it attaches no intrinsic value to the matter at hand. He feels like the flenched blubber a butcher may trim from a choice fillet of prime English beef and, as the song says, he has never felt this way before. This is completely new territory for him. He can see that the hard globes of River’s breasts are perfect and better than the real thing and he attempts to lift his arm in order to pinch her nipples, which are the size and texture of liquorice Jelly Spogs, or stick his finger in her asshole or something, but realises with a certain amount of satisfaction that he can’t be fucked and he lets his arm drop to the side.

River squeezes Bunny’s cock with her muscular vagina.

‘Wow,’ says Bunny, from the depths of space.

‘Pilates,’ says River.

‘Hugh?’ grunts Bunny.

‘Cunt crunches,’ says River, and contracts her pelvic floor again.

The remote is lodged under Bunny’s left buttock and as he shifts his weight the television turns on. Bunny’s head lolls off the edge of the sofa and he sees (upside-down) CCTV footage of the Horned Killer with his trident terrorising shoppers in a Tesco car park in Birmingham. The bad-news ribbon that runs along the bottom of the screen informs Bunny that the guy has struck again. Earlier that day he had walked into a shared accommodation in Bordesley Green and butchered two young nurses asleep in their beds, with a garden fork. There is general panic in the Midlands. The police continue to be baffled.

‘He’s just getting started,’ mutters Bunny, the flicker of the TV reflecting in his upside-down eyes. ‘And he’s coming this way.’

River, however, is lost to her gesture of altruism and does not hear. Bunny lifts his head and looks at her and sees that River’s visage has changed somehow – there is a pout of hubris and self-admiration as she picks up the rhythm of what she would consider to be, come morning’s sober light, basically a sympathy fuck.

‘Oh,’ she says, as she pounds her bullet-proof pussy down.

‘You,’ she says, her pistons firing.

‘Poor,’ (down)

‘Poor,’ (yum)


Bunny is about to close his eyes when he sees, by the window, hidden in the folds of the rose-coloured chenille curtains, what appears to be his deceased wife, Libby. She is dressed in her orange nightdress and she is waving at him. Spooked, Bunny makes a hopeless, wounded sound and opens his mouth and releases a hiss of gas as if his very soul was escaping and then bucks frantically at River in an attempt to dislodge her, which is just what River needs to send her over the edge. Bunny, trapped in the vice of her climaxing haunches, squeezes shut his eyes. River screams and digs her nails into his chest. Bunny opens his eyes again, looks wildly around, but Libby, his wife, has gone.

‘My wife was there,’ he says to River or somebody. ‘She was watching.’

‘Oh, yeah?’ says River, disimpaling herself. ‘You might want to see somebody about that. I know a guy in Kemp Town you could talk to.’

Bunny jabs his finger at the news bulletin on the TV. ‘And he is coming down!’

‘Uh huh? Look, I’ve got to go,’ says River and raises the perfect orbs of her rear end, slick with her various juices, into the early morning air and looks under the sofa for her canary yellow panties.

*       *       *

◊  Listen to Nick Cave reading from chapter 12 ↓


Bunny Junior lies on the floor of his bedroom reading his encyclopaedia. The carpet is thin and his knees and elbows and hip-bones hurt from lying in the same position for so long and he keeps thinking he should get up off the floor and lie on his bed but he knows that the discomfort he feels keeps him awake and alert and his memory keen. He is in the process of storing information. He is well into the letter ‘M’ and is reading about Merlin, who was a wizard or sage in the Arthurian legends, whose magic was used to help King Arthur. His mother bought the encyclopaedia for him, just because ‘she loved him to bits’, the boy likes to remember. Bunny Junior thinks it is an elegant-looking book with a jacket the exact colour of one of those citronella-impregnated mosquito candles. Merlin was the son of an incubus and a mortal woman, and the boy looks up ‘incubus’ and finds that an incubus is a malevolent spirit who has intercourse with women in their sleep, then he looks up ‘intercourse’ and thinks – Wow, imagine that – as he gradually intuits the presence of his father standing in the doorway of his room.

His father has showered and shaved and his ornamental curl that sits in he middle of his forehead has been artfully arranged into something musical, like a treble clef or a fiddlehead, and even though his eyes are a shocking scarlet colour and his hands tremble so much that he has had to keep them in his pockets, he looks, on the face of it, dynamic and handsome. He is wearing a navy blue suit and a shirt that is covered in little maroon diamonds and he is wearing his favourite tie – the one with the cartoon rabbits on it. He is staring down at Bunny Junior and smiling. Bunny Junior thinks – Well, what’s going on? He thinks – Boy, something good must be coming down!

‘Hi, Dad!’ says the boy.

‘You got a suitcase?’ says Bunny.

‘I don’t know, Dad.’

‘Well, find one!’ says Bunny, flinging his arms out to the sides in mock-exasperation. ‘Jesus! Haven’t I taught you anything?’

‘What for, Dad?’

‘What do you mean, «What for?»‘

‘What do I need a suitcase for?’ says the boy, thinking – He’s sending me away –  and he feels the wind rush out of him.

‘Well, what do you think you need a bloody suitcase for?’ says Bunny.

‘Am I going somewhere?’ says the boy, jumping from foot to foot and wiping at his forehead with the back of his hand.

‘Not I’, says Bunny, ?  We . . . ‘



‘Where are we going, Dad?’

Bunny Junior is dressed in a pair of shorts and flip-flops. He wears a faded T-shirt that has a picture of an orange crazy-paved mutant called The Thing printed on it. The T-shirt is a couple of sizes too small for Bunny Junior and is covered in holes, but the boy wears it for reasons of nostalgia that only he can understand.

‘We are hitting the road!’ says Bunny, cocking a thumb and jerking it over his shoulder in the general direction of the outside world.

‘Really?’ says the boy, smiling so much that his teeth show.

‘Really,’ says Bunny. ‘But you can’t go looking like a bloody hobo. It’s the first rule of salesmanship. Be presentable.’

‘Just you and me, Dad?’ says the boy, peeling off the T-shirt, balling it up and pitching it across the room.

‘Just you and me, Bunny Boy.’

*       *       *

◊  Chapter 13  ⇓  [excerpt read by NC]

mantisBunny Junior opens his enciclopaedia at the letter ‘M’ and reads about the mantis, an insect with a well-camouflaged body, mobile head and large eyes. He reads that the female eats the male head-first during copulation, then looks up ‘copulation’ and thinks – Wow, imagine that. He commits this to memory by putting it in a virtual colour-coded box and storing it in the shelved data bank of his mind. He has hundreds of these boxes that relate and interrelate and can be drawn upon at will, in an instant. Ask him about the Battle of Britain or about the deathwatch beetle and he can tell you.. If you want to know about Galapagos Islands or the Heimlich manoeuvre, then Bunny Junior is your man. It’s a talent he has.

But two things worry Bunny Junior as he sits slumped in the front seat of the Punto.

First, when he tries to call to mind his mother he finds her image is still disappearing. He can remember the year they started building the Eiffel Tower but he finds it increasingly difficult to recall what his mother looked like. This makes him feel bad. He tries to arrange his memories of the things they did together in the form of exhibits, frozen in time, like the stuffed birds in the glass cases in the world-famous Booth Museum. He arranges them in his memory as if they were waxwork statues or something. But the image of his mother is vanishing, so that when he goes to look at the scene of, say, the day his mother pushed him on the swing in the playground of St Ann’s Gardens, he can see himself vaulted high into the air, his legs kicking out, his face alive with laughter – but who is doing the pushing? A slowly dissolving ghost-lady as incomplete as a hologram. He feels, in this instance, forever suspended on the swing, high in the air, never to descend, beyond human touch and consequence, motherless, and after he has stopped crying and dabbing at his tears with the sleeve of his shirt, he worries about the other thing.

On the bench where the juvenile delinquents were sitting is a fat guy in a dress, playing with a poy plant. He wears a lilac wig. Every now and then he looks up at the boy and makes a noise like some kind of monster – maybe a werewolf or a hellhound or something. This scares Bunny Junior and very secretly he reaches across and pushes down the lock on the car door. As he does this, he looks over at the entrance to the stairwell where his father disappeared and standing there, with her back turned towards him and partially lost in shadow, is a woman with blonde hair, dressed in an orange nightdress. Bunny Junior puts his hands up to his face and before his eyes he sees her step deeper into the shadows and disappear or dematerialise or atomise or something, he can’t decide which.

*       *       *

♦  Nick Cave reads the end of Chapter 17 ↓

… The boy whispers, ‘What are we going to do now, Dad?’

Bunny kicks over the engine of the Punto and the car comes reluctantly and cantankerously to life. He turns out of the McDonald’s car park and merges into the night traffic on the coastal road and all the crouched cars move past.

‘We are gonna get as far away from this place as possible,’ he says.

The boy yawns deep and shudders.  ‘Are we going home now, Dad?’

‘Shit, no!’ says Bunny, checking his rear-view mirror. ‘We’re on the road!’

‘What are we gonna do, Dad?’

‘You, me and Darth Vader there are checking into a hotel!’

Bunny checks his mirror again – he’s looking for any police action, the wail of a siren, the flashing blue light looming up behind him – but there is nothing but the somnanbulant creep of the evening traffic. He turns off the seafront road, though, just in case, and disappears down a side street. The last thing he needs is to be nicked in breach of his Antisocial Behaviour Order. That would be a serious bummer. Bunny looks at his son, who for some reason has an extremely deranged smile on his face.

‘Really, Dad?’ he says. ‘A hotel?’

‘That’s right! And you know what we are going to do when we get there?’ Blocks of yellow light move across the boy’s face and his eyes are round and wild as Bunny adds, with due reverence, ‘Room service.’

‘What’s room service, Dad?’

‘Jesus Christ, Bunny Boy, you know the capital of Mongolia but you don’t know what room service is?’

Bunny has been banned for life from three McDonald’s, one Burger King and thrown out of the Kentucky Fried on Western Road with such force that he fractured two of his ribs. This was on a busy Saturday in the middle of the afternoon. Bunny also has four separate ASBOs in the Sussex area.

‘Room service is when you lie on your bed in a hotel room, close your eyes and think of anything in the world that you want, and I mean anything, then you ring up reception, ask for it and some jobber in a bowtie brings it up to you.’

‘Anything, Dad?’ says the boy, twisting his Darth Vader and realising at the same time that he didn’t actually have anything to worry about all along.

‘Sandwiches, cup of tea, fish and chips, a bottle of vino . . . um . . . fags . . . a massage . . . anything. And another thing, Bunny Boy . . . ‘

The Punto passes a shadowy man with tattoos on his arms changing the back tire on a maroon cement truck (with the word ‘DUDMAN’ painted across the bonnet in giant cream letters) parked in a lay-by at the side of the road. Bunny Junior notices with a jolt of panic that its windscreen wipers are moving back and forth at a tremendous rate, but it isn’t raining.

‘When we get to the hotel, I’m gonna show you the weirdest thing in the world!’

The boy looks up at his father and says, ‘What, Dad?’

Bunny rolls his eyes and says, ‘I’m talking fucking completely Wacko Jacko!’

‘What’s that, Dad?’ says Bunny Junior again, stifling a yawn.

‘I mean seriously off the planet, Janet!’

‘Da-ad!’ says the boy.

‘I mean bananas in fucking pyjamas!’

The boy laughs and says, ‘Da-ad!’

Bunny changes lanes, looks awed and leans in close to Bunny Junior for dramatic effect.

‘The tiniest fucking soaps you’ve ever seen in your life.’

‘Soaps?’ says Bunny Junior.

‘Yeah, smaller than a matchbox, they are.’

‘Really,’ says the boy and squeezes his lips together in a smile.

‘And individually wrapped,’ says Bunny.

Bunny Junior’s face glows gold, then tarnishes, and then glows gold again, and goes on like that for a while. He holds out his hand, his thumb and forefinger extended to suggest the size of a matchbox.

Really? This big?’ he says, amazed.


‘The soaps,’ says Bunny Junior.


Bunny holds his thumb and forefinger about an inch and a half apart and whispers to his son, ‘They are tiny.’

Bunny Junior can smell the fish on the salted air blowing up from the sea. A mist rolls up from the dark waters and curls about the Punto, a ghostly white. He waggles his black plastic figurine.

‘Soap for Darth Vader,’ says Bunny Junior.

Bunny flips on his high beams and says, ‘You got it, Bunny Boy.’

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