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Unpleasantville

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from Desiderium by Kim Halliday

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My grandfather rose late and dozed through the day. He wheezed himself upright each morning, coughing and spluttering into life like an old diesel engine in a dumper truck. He spent his days alternately smoking, choking and napping, sat in a dining room chair with his head resting on one upright forearm, his thumb behind his ear which helped him to hear, he claimed. He had worked in the Power Station, where the dust he continuously inhaled had invaded his lungs and was now slowly choking him to death. He didn’t speak of the Power Station much, outside telling us he’d got my Dad an apprenticeship there, and that he’d preferred the Merchant Navy and to get him a cup of tea. He was drinking his tea when he lifts his head. “Go and get us some fags, my lover”. He pushes a 50 pence piece across the table towards me. “Nine bob for a packet of fags. Bloody world’s gone mad.” He scowls. My mum looks over at him. “You don’t have to smoke, Pop” she says. He blanks her. She might as well have said you don’t have to breathe, even though the act of breathing is such an effort for him. Like he’s going to listen to his daughter-in-law anyway. She raises her eyebrows, shakes her head and turns into the kitchen. He smiles at me and winks. “Can’t clear my chest without a fag” he chuckles to himself more than me, “it’s almost medicine for me”. His Bristolian twang rises through his nicotine-stained fingers. “I’ll go in a bit, Pop”. “Well, don’t leave it too late, I’ve only got 2 left”. I push the 50p coin into my pocket and pull on my trainers.
Outside, it’s a skip down the side of the house and a jump over the back fence into the world. Running down the wall alongside the steps, leap down to round the corner of the pub, and along into the newsagents. I think there was a soundtrack running in my head even then, music accompanying the action of getting me old Grandad some fags.

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from Desiderium, releases October 25, 2021

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Kim Halliday UK

KIM is an award winning media composer & musician working in London. His music is an evolving & revolving mixture of trip hop, reggae and film noir, designed to comfort and disturb in equal measure. His scores have encompassed horror, comedy, drama, musicals and child birth, while his albums have been described as “Sonic Youth meets Bernard Herrmann” and “Face-Bashing All-Out Guitar Assault”. ... more

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