The Irene Adler of Croydon

I’ve got a nemesis. As we speak, somebody is impersonating me, gallivanting on a wild spending spree, using my identity. It’s not as serious as all that. No foreign holidays have been booked, no Justin Bieber tickets purchased, and nothing that I might actually be forced to pay for. Having made a few enquiries, I have deduced that my Moriarty is none other than an elderly lady living in the Croydon area, who is giving out my phone number by mistake, and I’ve been trying to track her down to let her know.

A few months ago, I started receiving text messages from shops, saying that my orders were ready for collection. Imagining the usual click-a- dick scam, I checked the phone numbers, to discover they were the real, and that the ‘new Homebase wardrobe is ready for collection’ line wasn’t just the old ‘turn up at a warehouse, we steal your life savings and murder you ruse’ – I informed Homebase of the error.

Next came Marks and Spencer, again, the real ones; some sort of trellis plants, if memory serves. Then at last, came hard evidence – a sighting! The mystery began to clear when Age UK of Croydon texted to confirm my booking of their function room. It was pretty obvious, by now, we were not dealing with a hardened criminal. I called the number and spoke to an Age UK operator. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to explain to somebody that you are not who they think you are, even though they’ve no idea who you actually are, and that you are not trying to elicit any details, but are actually just trying to be helpful.

Having established that I was not a phisherman, they informed me that an elderly lady had made the booking. I explained that I was terribly worried she’d think the world had turned on her, because nothing she ever ordered turned up. I thought of my own dear mother, a month away from becoming an Octogenarian, whose purchasing patterns are almost identical to the mystery lady’s. But most of all, if this lovely, geriatric benefactor of the nation’s retail sector was planning a party – perhaps her own eightieth, then nothing should stand in its way.

Having taken time to help Croydon’s own Irene Adler, I was convinced that the affair was now at an end, and that our brief blurring of souls was no more than ships that pass in the night. I pictured her in a party hat, surrounded by loved ones and friends, blowing out candles at the Croydon function room, her phone numbers reprogrammed by a dutiful grandchild, and thinking of all the lovely home-deliveries she had to look forward to.

The attempted identity theft is swept under the carpet, and life moves on towards twilight’s rosy glow…except, she’s at it again – The Scandal in Suburbia continues!

Your order from Matalan is ready!

To continue with the dubious Sherlockian theme, it has been pointed out that there are other explanations, and once all the obvious ones have been discounted, the unlikeliest must be true.

It has been suggested that the old lady is me, my alter ego. It is true that I do not have the most robust of mental states, and that a crack in the psyche could happen. Perhaps the person typing this is the imposter, and my other self, Irene Adler of Croydon, is, in fact, the real me, currently racing round a garden centre on a souped-up mobility scooter. However, I think if I were a lady born early in the last century, I might have devised a rather more successful double identity by now – I had to clear up cat shit this morning!

Another theory is that I have become a somnambulist, wandering Croydon’s high street and retail parks, dressed in my grandmother’s coat, riding the trams as I did so many years ago. There is a direct train from West Hampstead, so I can’t rule it out completely.

The most worrying part of this theory would be to wake up while being fitted for a new girdle in the Marks and Spencers changing room.

That’s just about exhausted it, and there are no prizes for solving the mystery – unless you know a nice, elderly lady in the Croydon area, who spends like there’s no tomorrow, or even better, if you are that wonderful lady. Come on Irene!

New York Dream

New York Dream.

(Late October 2016)

A late summers afternoon in Wokingham, my hometown until the age of eighteen. I’m standing in the front garden of our house, by the driveway, looking over the fence at the world. A man approaches from the flats opposite, he is dressed in black jeans and black sweatshirt and is carrying a case of spanners, it’s Lou Reed. I know him from the neighbourhood, at this stage, the dream does not tell whether it’s as the rock star Lou Reed or just Lou Reed who lives across the road, but I know him somehow, and there is nothing particularly out of the ordinary for him to speak to me.

“ Hey, can you come and help fix my car?” he asks. His flat New York accent is exotic for the Home Counties.

“ I need to jack her up, but she’s heavy, and I don’t want to tear these stitches,” he says, putting his hand to his chest to indicate them. His fingers are spotted with engine oil.

I know he has just has a liver transplant, and that it is unusual for him to ask for help. He usually keeps himself to himself. Perhaps his true majesty is seeping into the dream now, because I am excited. I realise what a privileged position I am in. I agree at once, and follow him.

His car is a giant, a black 49 Dodge, stunning and pristine, a real American beauty. I’ve never seen him drive it round Wokingham, and I wonder how he got it here without me noticing; it must weighs tonnes. The hydraulic jack is hard work, but I manage to get it lifted. He slides underneath with his spanners and fixes whatever it is that needs to be fixed. There is not much conversation, I am smart enough to know that one wrong question, about music, or just about anything other than the matter in hand, and our bubble will burst. Right now, me and Lou Reed are fixing a car.

He looks frail, not unexpectedly, and I am worried he’ll hurt himself. He senses my concern, and says he’s fine.

Once the Dodge is fixed it’s mission complete, and I think he’s about to send me home, but he doesn’t. We walk out of the garage onto blazing white asphalt, the sun beating down. It’s extremely hot, and it’s clear we’re not in Wokingham anymore. In the distance the New York skyline juts up, mauve through the smog, and closer by, the sea glistens, and warehouses and water towers shimmer in the heat haze. I think we’re on Long Island, but the brilliant white and blue makes it seem almost Aegean.

Lou has a basketball and asks if I want to play – in exactly the way you’d hope he’d ask, not too friendly, take it or leave it detached, and not really caring one way or the other…except you know he really wants you to.

” Hey kid, wanna make some passes?”

He throws the ball at me, bouncing it once on the ground. I catch it at chest height and throw it back, but not too hard. He throws it back harder. The sound it makes hitting the bleached asphalt is hollow, and rings with a slight ricochet from the garage door. I see Lou is sweating, and wish he’d take his top off, but I know it’s not my business to suggest it, if he wanted it off he’d take it off, he just keeps passing the basketball and moving further back, enjoying the game.

“ Throw it harder,” he commands, but I am worried about his stitches. If he reaches too high, his wound could open, it’s only been a few months – he’s not exactly convalescing.

“ Don’t worry about me,” he says, and he means it, and he’s not a man to be argued with.

He doesn’t say much, except for the odd remark about the catches and throws, but I don’t mind, I’m just happy to be here, but trying not to injure him. Sweat runs down the deep lines of his face and glistens above his lip. He squints at the sun’s glare – no shades to help him, his eyes tired, yet determined. He looks uncomfortable, and I think we should stop, but he forces himself, and me, to play on.

He slams the ball hard so that it bounces above my head and silhouettes against the sky. As he does this, I notice a single cloud in the distance, behind his head. Its vapour swirls in tendrils, weaving celestial shapes. The Lady of Shalott appears, her sepulchral beauty blown by the breeze, her hair and gown spiralling in ghostly wisps. Transfixed and enchanted by this divine apparition, I stop the game and shout out.

“ Lou, turn around, look up there, it’s beautiful!”

He seems sceptical, as if I might be trying to pull something, as if I’d dare. Maybe I’d used his name too freely?

“ Look…in the sky, please!”

“ This better be good,” he says.

It’s not the quickest one hundred and eighty degrees I’ve seen. As he turns, the vision changes. By the time he sees her, she has distorted into a ravaged, ancient whore, beckoning with claw fingers, and rubbing her crotch obscenely. Lou looks at me like I’m a total idiot.

“ You think that’s beautiful?”

“ No, you missed it, you didn’t see it before.”

His thin lips pull a half smile, and he stares right into me. There’s a weary kindness to his expression, like a teacher explaining to a pupil who’s not quite up to it. He closes his eyes for a moment and places a hand on my shoulder, and gestures towards the spot where the cloud had been.

“ You know what that is don’t you?” he asks.

“ No, I don’t,” I reply.

I feel foolish, like I’ve disappointed him. I think I’ve broken the spell and finally made him angry. But with his hand still gripping me, he sighs, and with a face of infinite wisdom and utter resignation, and a voice of no expression, he tells me.

“That’s just the Trump signal.”


I’m beaten down by life, ground into the pavement by its dirty heel, until all that’s left are innards and skin. Perhaps I protest too much, but you’d think that the acquisition of a new pair of swimming trunks wouldn’t be such a fucker.

As we know, it is almost the season of hot, lazy days, spent frolicking by Hampstead ponds, or perhaps even in the sea. Never a keen swimmer in my youth, I have, throughout my older years, begun to enjoy it more – especially now that I’ve resumed my disastrous smoking habit, and shed a few pounds.

However, an investigation of my swimwear showed it to be well past its best, very near its dangerous worst in fact. I had no idea that swimwear loses its elasticity over time, or becomes transparent. Thank god I tried them on in the modesty of my own home, before strutting across the heath, and straight into Highbury Magistrates court.

I hoped at first, that with some simple seamstressing, my lovely old Hugo Boss’s could be salvaged – pretty sure when I was at school, boys wore trunks their mothers had re-elasticated. We gave this a go, but they looked like balloons – or a swimming nappy – hardly the debonair image I was going for. Giving up on the salvage job, I decided to see what was available online – surely there would be a fine selection? Wrong – unless you want a mankini, a thong, or stars and stripes shorts that reach your knees – the choice was woeful.

At last, the idea of vintage retro trunks hit me, and I found a pair on ebay, proper dad trunks from the Co-op. Without reading too much about them – such as they had already been worn – I placed the order. Had they been advertised on a specialist site they may have fetched a good deal more than twelve pounds. The urine soaked rags that arrived, were an affront to human decency…and they were too small. Reader, I sent them back.

The contingency plan involved a new stripy number from Turkey, with indecipherable sizing – they could be budgie smugglers, or the entire aviary. I hoped for the best, and bought with one click. The bastards arrived today, and have now been passed on to the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP to use as a hammock. Fortunately, the weather is not yet up to outdoor swimming, so there is still time, but at this rate, Highbury Magistrates court seems a distinct possibility.

Oh yeah, and please buy my records and pledge for my book.

John Moore 05.05.15

Henry, Portrait of a serial Vacuum Cleaner.

I am undergoing a domestic revolution, of sorts.

Now, this won’t be of interest to all of you, I am sure, but what I am about to tell you is important to me. The revelation I am about to impart is that for many years, I don’t believe my vacuum cleaner to have worked. I had always assumed that my carpets were beyond redemption, so when I occasionally pushed this clumsy great Dyson upright across their distressed threads and moth tundras, my expectations were excessively low.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it (perhaps in a bid not to break the hearts of those who fantasize of marrying me, I should keep my romantic status in the shadows, and remain a happy-go-lucky bachelor boy like the chap who drives the bus), however, I have recently formed an attachment, once again – not with a Dyson, I hasten to add, but with a lady – and we have set up shop together, so to speak.

One of the joyful by-products of domestic coupling, is that your partner might own better stuff than you – and this is what has happened. The apple of my eye, my beloved, owns a Henry Hoover, one of the red ones with the happy face on it, and now it is in our shared custody. I was naturally rather sceptical that anything could out-perform a Dyson; the triumph of good taste for middle-aged, design-obsessed, architectural book on the coffee table piling, Provence holidaying, one glass of Chablis quaffing, denim wearers, but when little Henry Hoover got sucking the dust, it was an epiphany. The ancient shroud of grit, skin flakes, fag ash and moth eggs I’d reluctantly called a carpet, lifted, to reveal… well, the carpet. The Dyson, given to me by my multi vacuum cleaner owning mother, was hastily dispatched to the street, with a note on it, assuring treasure hunters that it worked – and it was gone the next morning.

My love and I still have much work to do, pictures to hang – many of an unusual nature – and sadly, owing to the lateness of Henry Hoover’s intervention, we may yet decide to dispense with carpets all together. I saw the first moth of the season yesterday, along with an actual False Widow spider, who must have been disturbed due to some actual gardening. Hopefully, its sympathetic treatment will make us friends, favoured humans, not to be bitten and photographed for the Daily Mail, with our puss-oozing swellings on display.

The Labour Party, now gearing up rather well I think, are on to me, and have realised that I am not really called Syphilis. I am now the rather respectable Jonathan Goldenwinkle of West Hampstead.

Mother came to visit, and enjoyed the paintings, especially the new one. We had Shepherd’s Pie, which reminds me – I need to wash up.

Have a fine weekend – here’s to red wine, Windsor and Newton, love, and Henry Hoover.

John Moore 10.4.15

Vote Syphilis Goldenwinkle!

I have just received an election leaflet through the door from my local Labour party. Our candidate is called Tulip Siddiq, and the leaflet poses the stark choice: The Tories or Tulip? – and you can put it in your window. I know it’s her name, but it’s a bit of a twee slogan – who comes up with these things? Not very good PRs, that’s who. People that fancy themselves as communicators. I would happily display a Vote Labour sign, but I don’t live in bloody Toy Town. The Labour party already think my name is Syphilis Goldenwinkle – I filled in a survey to tell me how many of the electorate shared my name – apparently, in the whole of the Blighted Kingdom, there are less than six Syphilis Goldenwinkles registered to vote… shocking, isn’t it?

Each newsletter I receive from Mr Miliband, refers to me familiarly as Dear Syphilis… and goes on to tell me “We can do this together!” I’ve already got a peerage, well, of sorts… self-inflicted, so I’ve no need to worry about fucking up my chance of an honour. I had thought of offering my services to the party – they will certainly have my vote, but like most publicly minded, selfless, middle-aged navel gazers, I never quite got round to it. The last time I got seriously involved in an election was 1974, because my father was agent for the local liberal party. My best friend, Tim, (whose father was also in the party), and I would stuff envelopes, paste up posters, usually in places where fly-posting was forbidden, and throw eggs at the Conservative Party HQ. Halcyon days. If you click on this link to my Muddy Waters article in last Friday’s Guardian, you can read some more about it >> CLICK HERE!

Suffice to say, the Liberals came last, and the candidate – some time later – hanged himself.
NB. Just as I reread that line, the door burst open…and I’m the only one in the house – unless Walter, the upstairs cat has crept in.

I’ll tell you about Walter – this is a rambling blog, because the rather large oil painting I am trying to finish is surrounded by boxes, and is slightly inaccessible… and she needs to dry a bit… my beautiful girlfriend is moving in, you see. Anyway, Walter is the most incredible cat I have ever encountered. He is a Siamese/Burmese off-white feline symphony, and lives with the people upstairs. I live on the ground floor, and have large French windows – easy for him to go in and out. He made it very clear, early on, that although I was not his real father, I would make a splendid daytime surrogate. He comes in each morning, stays as long as he likes, yowls for GoCat, then goes home at night.

It’s an arrangement that suits both families. Whenever his real parents go away, he comes to live with me full time, which is great until eleven O’clock at night, when he gets adventurous. There is quite a lot that is fragile in my flat – guitars, ornaments, and a lot of crap – which he likes to investigate, He thinks my record shelves are a climbing wall, and that the piano keyboard is a dance floor. Most cats are terrified of pianos, but Walter would be happy if the keys lit up, like Saturday Night Fever. Slightly worried that his collar was gone this morning – did someone try to steal him perhaps? It’s more likely that he managed to get it off himself, but extra vigilance is called for.

I think this blog’s gone on long enough now – unless I mention the dreadful woman that lives upstairs – not Walter’s mother, but a vile creature, who throws cigarette butts out of the window…lots of them. I would go and speak to her, but worry my response would soon turn disproportionate. Considering collecting all the butts, then making a large piece of art with them – spelling out the word ‘Cunt’, right beneath her window. She’s pretty quiet though, so perhaps I should just sweep them up and be thankful that I haven’t got me living above.

That’s it for now, more soon, please buy my records, pledge for my book, hire me for extortionate amounts to play at your corporate function, vote Labour, be kind to one another, love cats, hate litter, get naked, drink wine.

John Moore 7.4.15

It’s Hell Out There

So here we go again, more dispatches from the front. Another hastily constructed, and barely edited, attempt to ‘raise awareness’ of the John Moore brand. We’ve had the decorators in. Marie-Louise Plum. I am, metaphorically speaking, standing on the pavement, with a sandwich board, ushering unsuspecting customers into my newly-furbished emporium of exotic and not so exotica, and if you are still reading this, I have succeeded. Come and have a look round, there’s plenty to see and read. It’s a culture hub, and I’m Boy John. The only thing we don’t have is an artisan bakery, and a mindfulness area.

The music link will take you to my Soundcloud page, where you can hear a selection of songs and albums. I will be adding to this as we go along. As well as my two recent albums, Lo-Fi Lullabies, and Floral Tributes, there is a genuine antique item up there, from the tight pants and hairspray era. I listened to it for the first time in years, yesterday, and almost had a stroke.

There are articles I have written for various publications, The Guardian, Select, as well as some rather smutty stories for The Erotic Review. Again, many more articles will follow. I do believe I have something cooking in The Grauniad, as we speak.

I will post a long excerpt from my novel Bad Light, for which I am currently seeking pledges to get published, along with a link to the Unbound Publishing Company. It’s currently at twenty-five percent of its target, so there is some way to go.

I paint, when the mood takes me, so there is a gallery of pictures to be viewed – not all are fit for the church art exhibition. There are several poems to read as well – should you have a mind to.

Lastly, there is a shop. At present, it’s a link to Cargo, my distributor, but over the course of the recent refurbishments, I have uncovered several ‘other’ items, which may be of interest to the serious collector.

So, that’s about it for now, I have a giant nude to finish. And the light is too good to waste. I’ll be more specific with my opinions on specific issues, in further missives, but here’s a general idea of how I stand: Whatever it is, I’m against it.

John Moore 2.4.15