Travel, A Life,
& Investment

by Ian Seed


On my way to buy some euros, I bumped into my old friend Jeremy Over, the poet. He said he would keep me company for a while. In the bureau de change, there was no exchange rate displayed anywhere, and they seemed annoyed that I wanted to find out what it was. Moreover, the man behind the glass counter with his uniform and severe expression looked more like a German customs official than someone trying to please his customers. When I insisted he tell me the rate, he said 'three to four'. I took this to mean that three pounds would be worth four euros. When I asked if I was right, he made some sly reference to the philosopher Nietszche, as if to show how ignorant I was. Having written my dissertation on Nietszche many years before, I was able to retort with an apt quotation — 'Better to live among ice than among European virtues' — before turning on my heel and walking out. I went in search of another bureau de change that I knew existed somewhere off the main street. After ten minutes, I still hadn't found it. 'I'm sure it's down this alleyway,' I said to Jeremy. But I could see now his patience was wearing thin and that it was time for us to part company.

A Life

When I woke up, it had gone from winter to summer. I stepped outside into a meadow full of bright butterflies and hopping rabbits. I realised it was just a cartoon world, but I didn't know how to return to my own.

Over the hill was a pretty shepherd girl and an old man with a white beard. They nodded absurdly at me. I am not like you, I thought, I am real.

I came to the sea, but since it was a cartoon sea, would I get wet if I stepped into it? I was afraid to try, but here was a mermaid inviting me in. If I held her hand, would I feel it in mine? If she wanted to make love, what would I do?


I was sent to work on a business project in China. On the underground train you could buy a carnet of ten tickets from a lady who walked through the carriages with a glass box hanging from a cord around her neck. All you had to do was put some coins into a slot at the top of the box. It looked heavy and the ticket lady was tiny, but she kept smiling. There was another slot on the side of the box, into which you could insert bank notes to invest on the Chinese stock exchange. If by the end of the train journey, the stocks had gone up, the lady would give you your winnings. One morning I made over a thousand pounds in just a few minutes. Now I could phone my wife back home with good news. I was worth something.

Ian Seed is editor of His recent collections of poetry and prose poetry include Sleeping with the Ice Cream Vendor (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2012), Threadbare Fables (Like This Press, 2012),  Shifting Registers (Shearsman, 2011) and Anonymous Intruder (Shearsman, 2009). His "Four Short Prose Pieces" appeared in Issue #23 and "Trick" and "Bright and Early" in Issue #42 of The Cafe Irreal.