Sunday, October 30, 2005

I shall rise again

I also need to disconnect myself from Publick Opinion, all that News and Politics. I see this big grid made of flexible material, plastered in faces, text, charts, moving images, just flapping around brightly in the Winds of Change or whatever it is that makes Opinions Flutter, delicate as a May butterfly. And I feel victimised by it, because I would prefer to be drinking from the cool mountain streams of an unpolluted everyday world, where thoughts are friends and are not scrolling past at a million miles an hour and being interrupted by commercials.

So there is that to consider to. If people are happy to read thoughts not connected to anything but my imagination and the everyday world without televisions and websites full of faces and news and gossip, then whoopee, I can dredge a few mud-splattered words from the bottom of Lake Unction.

Go forth and groove.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Write Write Write

Tom told me to shelve my one man war on mediocrity and get down to some serious writing. This means that my blog may become more thin.

Have to laugh about one thing though, I was accused of "trying to be an intellectual." Leaving aside the fact that I am plainly an intellectual, albeit of an auto-didactical, working-class stripe, the person who levelled this claim against myself was incapable of spelling "snigger" correctly. Twice.
Please, please, don't "sniger" at this fool.

I am off to pretend to read my books and to pretend to have knowledge.

Any queries on the heart's mysteries, the exact size and dimensions of the Spirit of the Age (and whether it's machine-washable), or the final resting place of the Ark, please, please, please, direct them to me at the usual address.

Toodle pip, truth fetishists!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Book Reviews #2 - Toby Burton

Tiny Offices: Releasing Sexual Tension, Maximising Profits is a best-selling book by Toby Burton, a young man from England. His basic theory is that the best way to resolve workplace sexual tension is to incorporate sex directly into the working day. A business operated according to his theories will feature very narrow corridors and tiny offices and a muted lighting scheme. Workers will be scantily clad and pornography will be freely circulated. The use of sex toys will be mandatory, the size and shape of these sex toys reflecting employee status. According to Burton, such an arrangement will reduce workplace sexual tension by between 50 and 100%, with corresponding productivity gains.

A dry cleaning business in Dorset that acted as a case study for Burton showed massive increases in productivity and profit over a 6 month period. As Yarburton noted, "Many people were coming to have their clothes laundered from as far away as 75 miles. Some customers did not even have clothes to be cleaned, and were happy to pay a 'visitor's levy' to be allowed to peep into the back office." As Burton concluded, "The dry cleaners in question followed my advice and installed a stage, a pole, subdued lighting, soft music, and a licensed bar. They also hired a number of male and female dancers, who performed suggestive scenes on stage, interpreting the music as they felt appropriate, making use of the pole during periods of intense inspiration and removing their clothes when they felt them too restrictive. Another revenue stream was to allow the dancers to perform sexual favours for money, with a number of rooms in the rear of the dry cleaning business being converted for this purpose."

In May 2003, the experiment was brought to a crashing halt when the dry cleaners was raided by Dorset police, on suspicion of being a brothel. Burton represented himself in the ensuing criminal trial, and at one point, in a state of obvious exasperation, reprimanded the perturbed and downcast jury members for "failing to see the big picture here. This was not a brothel, it was a scientific study of how workplace tension can be dispelled through constant sexual stimulation and sexual intercourse, be it solo, homo, hetero, or a full-scale orgy. All I am guilty of is turning a failing business into a major success. If that's a crime, jail me."

The jury took Burton at his word, he was jailed for four years.

** END **

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Welcome Purple Ronnie Fans!

I commented here and caused a tempest in a teacup. To visitors following that link, here is the Extreme Unction poetry book, scheduled for release at Black Mass all over the planet sometime before Christmas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chapter One

Here is Chapter One as it stands of my novel. The novel itself will not be all about chairs. Chapter One IS all about chairs.

Chairs

Have you ever had a chair speak to you?
I have. Most chairs speak to me. They say a single word – Sit. The voice that the chairs speak in varies slightly, but it's always English, regardless of where the chair was manufactured. Sometimes I have turned a chair over and observed its country of origin. “Ah, the Czech Republic! A fine country!” and placing it right way up I listen to it say “Sit” once more, straining to detect the trace of an accent, but there is none. So, I figure the voice the chair speaks in may originate in my own head. That's one explanation and it seems simple enough, it accounts for the facts. But then, just as I am being subdued, I become suspicious, wondering what I have missed. What troubles me is how conveniently everything fits together, the truth is never this easy.

I scrutinise the chair, waiting for other theories to come forward. I have another idea - perhaps the chairs are given language lessons before they are exported, only allowed to leave once they have impeccable English accents. I think of classrooms in far flung parts of Europe and the Middle East, where an instructor (possibly human, possibly a chair, imported from England) addresses a roomful of chairs and has them perform various drills. “Repeat after me, “Sit”, not “Seet-a” or “Seet”, but “Sit”. Okay, try it.” Fifty chairs say “Sit” together. Then I see the chairs in graduation gowns, accepting scrolls. I discount this as too elaborate. This theory also fails to explain why the voice the chairs speak in sounds like my voice. Could the chairs be mimicking my voice? That is easy to test. All I need do is go into a room with a chair I have never seen before and stay silent and listen to the voice of the chair. Perhaps the chair will not say anything, knowing that I have called its bluff. If it plays dumb, then I will speak in an outrageously high voice and listen and see if the chair copies this voice when it says, “Sit”. If it does, case closed. The chair is simply a mimic. That deals with that issue, seemingly.

The thing is, two more theories have presented themselves while I was working through that chain of reasoning. The first theory is very problematic, this theory contends that all chairs are in communication with one another, across the universe, perhaps even through time. As such, there is no way to encounter a strange chair, indeed, every chair I encounter knows an extraordinary amount about me, the chair knows everything I have done in the presence of chairs (this thought baffles me with its huge implications). There is no fooling chairs in this scenario. The voice they use is my own voice, again through mimicry. Perhaps a master-chair is coaching them from a control centre, helping them rehearse my voice and deliver it perfectly. “Sit.” This theory is overpowering in its universal scope. If a person could tap into this chair communication network, you could rule the world. Are there people out there, right now, working secretly on such projects, struggling to unlock the power of chairs? And other people, working just as hard to stop them. It's a secret battle for the soul of civilisation, who will win?

I am becoming tired by now and have just one theory left, a simpler one this time. The reason the chairs speak in my own voice is not because of some universal network, but for a more prosaic reason. Somehow my voice is being used during chair training as a sample English accent, with the end result that all the chairs exported to England have my voice, it stands to reason that I have said “Sit” many times in my life, perhaps someone recorded me saying it. And now all the English-speaking chairs in the world have my voice. My situation is not dissimilar to the person whose voice is used on the announcement system of the London Underground. This voice is heard in every station, on every train, all day, all night, all year round. The recording of this voice (and I am assuming it is a recording, unless there are thousands of clones of this one person, all performing in parallel, in a shift pattern, and this seems preposterous), this recording must be one of the most well-known voices in the world. Yet no-one knows who it is. And how does the person whose voice it is feel when they travel on the London Underground. Wouldn't it be the strangest thing to be just climbing on to a train and to hear a recording of your own voice warning you to “Mind the gap! Mind the gap!” and then to sit in the train and here your voice announcing what stations you will be calling at. And, worse, if you speak to someone they will think you are impersonating the recorded voice. “Why are they impersonating the recorded voice,” thinks the person they speak to. “They must be insane.” So maybe the person whose voice is used on the recordings uses a different voice now (or used a different voice for the recordings), to avoid confusion and accusations of insanity. Whatever they do, their situation is similar to mine. If we ever met, we'd have something to talk about, we might be the only two people in the world who can really understand one another. Maybe that's all my life is about, finding this person and understanding and being understood and living happily together in a house without chairs, miles away from the London Underground. What a beautiful love story.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Trying to Debate with Blog Commenters

I've had enough. There are a million liberal idiots, there are a million republican idiots. Find them all at the Daily Kos and Alternet. I'm through with politics on the web. Wake me up when it's time to elect the next Lord of the Idiots, so I can watch the battle that has all the intellectual depth of World Championship Wrestling.

AMERICAN POLITICAL DISCOURSE MADE SO SIMPLE THAT EVEN AMERICANS CAN UNDERSTAND IT

Your idiot is soft on defense!
Well, your idiot is in bed with the corporations!
And so is your idiot!
Hold on!
Are you sure we're not talking about the same idiot?
I don't know, are you on the blue team or the red team?
I'm on the red team.
Really? Me too.
Oh.
Let's go and find a blue idiot and give them hell! Okay!

*

"Blog commenting is to the intellect as bleach is to the eyes." - Jason Kennedy

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Something to use to annoy...

Here you are. Next time someone mentions television, feel free to quote me:

"Television is suicide for the eyes." - Jason Kennedy

100% guaranteed to cause a nuisance. Don't say I don't contribute.

After Rimbaud, the Renegade Master!

I've had a heavy day, thinking over the "language as a second-level abstraction" (the first-level abstraction being, naturally, objects), and now I am delivering to my brainpod the refreshingly mindless bang and bump of 90s house music. Even the thought of people doing their spazzy dances and pulling Ecstasy faces is excellent, this music comes with its own laugh track. And soaring above it all is this 4 line refrain, again and again, mindless and majestic, haunting the human mind

back once again for the renegade master
the floor damager / power to the people
back once again for the renegade master
the floor damager / with the ill behaviour

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pictures from America

Here are some pictures from a head shop in Memphis, taken today. Enjoy the chaotic decor and the bong splendour.





Thursday, October 20, 2005

From Rimbaud's Drunken Boat

here are just a few lines from Rimbaud's The Drunken Boat...

I have seen archipelagos of stars! and islands
whose delirious skies are open to sea wanderers: --
Do you sleep, are you exiled in those bottomless nights,
O million golden birds, Life Force of the future?

But, truly, I have wept too much! Dawns are heartbreaking.
Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter:
sharp love has swollen me up with intoxicating torpor.
O let my keel split! O let me sink to the bottom!

If there is one water in Europe I want, it is the black
cold pool where into the scented twilight
a child squatting full of sadness launches
a boat as fragile as a butterfly in May.

*

On a bench at the University, I sat yesterday, managing frustrations. Reading. Stopping reading. A binary. And here's another thing, reading with something approaching full concentration and another kind of reading, vexed, where you know you are attempting to divert yourself and the feeling that this is why you are reading fades in and out, like music down a windy street, haunting the text.

And the book was full of men, lonely madmen, pursuing unworkable plans with vigor, stolid in the face of failure and always ready to throw a fresh perspective on each thing encountered. At one point, a man asks his friend to carry a bag of potatoes, "not wanting to be seen with proletarian food".

I am walking through Hyde Park with men long dead from the 60s, mad men, talkers and dreamers.

"There are only two times when you stand on your own two feet, when you address the public from a platform and when the soles of your shoes rot through."

(I was reading The Speakers by Heathcote Williams.)

When will librarians learn?

I had a run-in with a librarian today. They thought they could pronounce on the matter of literature. They also had one of their fictions to peruse, it was worthless.

Librarians are to books as waiting staff are to food. They fetch and carry it and that is all. If they do a good job, it is only inasmuch as they brought the right thing and were quick about it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Public Holidays for Britain

Been thinking this over as the calendar reflects little of recent history. A Day for Diana would've been nice, perhaps Tabloid Journalists and Papparazzi could be ordered to stay indoors, it would be excellent to have a whole day without Murdoch's Muck soiling the public mind.

I also think, generally, a Liars Day, in honour of the great liars and hypocrites that Political Life throws up in Britain. Children could come to school dressed as their favourite liar.

"One twelve year old boy on Humberside even went so far as to blind himself after fathering a child with another man's wife, all in honour of his favourite liar and hypocrite, David Blunkett..."

Also, July 9th, Royal Bedroom Invasion Day - prizes to be awarded to anyone who invades a Royal Palace and confronts a member of the Monarchy.

"This year's winner, for jumping out of a towel closet while Prince Philip was taking a dump at Windsor Castle, is Gretchen Greenwood of Andover, in the fine county of Hampshire. Second place, for trapping Prince Edward in a cargo net on Hampstead Heath goes to Mr Kevin Daniels, of the Ribble Valley..."

And, lastly, in honour of Michael Fagan, who had the will, but not the intent, here is Morrissey:

So, I broke into the palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"


Monday, October 17, 2005

Pan-Dimensional Agonies

I felt myself a fallen angel today, holding a broom and setting to work, tortured by the unceasing dialog of dust and broom.

DUST: Hi, I'm dust and I'm all over the floor
BROOM: Just sweep up this pathetic dust, human, forget the small talk
DUST: Not on your life! I'm tiny and lack interest, but boy am I stubborn
BROOM: Ah! Battle is joined! Now, human, just use me hard and let's show this dust what we can do
DUST: (being sweeped) Ahh! Not the horrors of The PILE
BROOM: Find a cigarette butt, human, it's time for torture. Woo-ha! WE are THE TEAM
DUST: (vanquished) I was bored, anyway, being swept away is a welcome change
BROOM: I Knew IT! Dust is MY BITCH, make no mistake...

The broom saps all feelings of grandeur. This is why no great prize, be it for charitable acts, artistic achievement, or gallantry, sees the winner presented with a Golden Broom. Not even the World Sweeping-Up Championships... sooooo... take the photos of the rich and the powerful and place the broom in their hands...

Karl Rove, George Bush, Scooter Libby, Judith Miller - Sweep my house! All of you! Sweep my house clean. And be sure to get into the corners... don't be scared if a startled Dick Cheney crawls out from under something...

There's the Power of the Imagination in putting these criminals to work. What shall they do tomorrow? Hmmm, i think they can do my Laundry...

We need a return to older traditions that exemplify the true nature of leadership, that service lies at its heart. Here is King Edward II, washing the feet of the poor, in a ritual inspired by Jesus Christ, and here is Barbara Bush on Hurricane Katrina victims, "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." and here is George Bush flying over in a helicopter, inspecting the destruction.

Actually, we best rewind - I don't think these people could even do a good job of washing my feet. They'd probably just award a 2 billion dollar contract to Bechtel to do it. My feet would be sprayed with toxic waste instead of cleaned and the money would mysteriously disappear. When I complained, the military would blow off my feet - at the hips, the rabble of right-wing media pundits would accuse me of "milking His Lack of Legs for the benefit of Liberal Causes," digging up dirt on a series of crimes my legs committed in the 1980s...

"I'm not saying that Mr Kennedy's legs definitely Snorted Cocaine, but there is no evidence that they didn't..."

"Jason Kennedy's legs may have appeared to be beneath the bedclothes, but where in fact were they? My own opinion is that they were holidaying in Cuba with Jane Fonda..."

"So he lost his legs? So what, that's two less feet to wear shoes packed with explosives..."

Then a horde of legless Republicans would turn up outside my hospital, counter-protesting, waving placards that say:

LEGLESS PATRIOTS SAY SHAME ON KENNEDY

PROUD TO BE A LEGLESS AMERICAN

LEGLESS? ADD SPINELESS AND GUTLESS TO THE LIST YOU LIBERAL

UNITED LEGLESS VETERANS FOR TRUTH

etc

I'm sinking into the quicksand now... goodbye, cruel world!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Interesting Link...

Here's a link to a research project that lists some of the ways people perceive their thoughts and ideas:

Ideas as Possessions
Ideas as Sharable Commodities
Ideas as Persons/Animate Beings

etc

LINK TO PROJECT >>>

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thatcher at 80

So, Margaret Thatcher is now 80. What did the Birthday Cake feature? A miniature re-enactment of the Poll Tax riots, candy protestors being trampled by chocolate horses? Did she blow out the candles with a Water Cannon?

I cannot forget her destruction of Britain. The Miner's Strike, The Poll Tax Riots, The Nuclear Weapons, The Falklands, The Hunger Strikers in the Maze, The Screwing of Pensioners, The Selling of National Assets for Peanuts to Her City Friends - do I need to go on?

I can never forgive this woman for what she did to Britain.

No state funeral for Thatcher without pitchforks waving and murder in the air... Let the working folk of Britain manifest once again as the Vile Angry Medieval Mob they know themselves to be!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Worshipping Nature, not God...

If I had a time machine I would immediately travel backwards, 2000+ years, and take myself out of this GOD mess that the world is mired in. I believe that God and through his incarnation, Jesus Christ, is the Sign that destabilises all the other Signs - that brings disorder and finally the end of the world. As Bill Hicks would say at this point... "Hear me out..."

Firstly, anything at all can be done in the name of God. And God knows no contradictions. Pat Robertson calls for an end to abortion, supports war, and calls for Hugo Chavez to be "taken out." But he is a man of God, and God's Love tells him to say these things. And he is pro-life, pro-death penalty. His positions only make sense if you understand that he pours forth beneath a sign that shifts shape to suit the needs of each moment - that stands in the same relation to the world as any other type of paranoid fantasy (and yet conservatives have the nerve to accuse the Left of relativism!).

(Please Note :- it doesn't matter to me whether God "exists" or not, or whether he speaks to Pat Robertson. It is what the shape-shifting notion of God's Will unleashes into the public sphere that concerns me - an ideological strain that is anti-science, anti-intellectual, opposed to freedom, thirsty for sacrifice, stricken with guilt, obsessed with sex, and fundamentally irrational.)

Robertson and other followers belong to a religion that actively awaits the End of the World. What other faith can compete with that? The thing is, once there are sufficient numbers of believers, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. At least Marshall Applewhite and his Hale-Bopp cult only killed themselves to achieve Rapture. Christianity is a virus that left unchecked will destroy the planet.



Marshall Applewhite - Not as Dangerous as Pat Robertson

We've just seen the Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami, another earthquake. Reasons to have our leaders legislate changes to our energy consumptions, to have those big corporations adjust their energy extraction and supersize their R&D programs, not likely.

Better to just say in awe - "HE is coming, for the second time... the Day of Judgment is upon us!"

And here is where I jump off. Nature is a perfect and fitting thing to worship, if anything must be worshipped, then yes, let's worship Nature - The Planet - Life. For there is nothing on this planet that is not alive, yes, even Pat Robertson - life is what binds together the microcosm and the macrocosm. But you don't have to have a Christian God in the Clouds to make Nature awe-inspiring or worthy of veneration - you only need eyes to see. (And if you can connect to the pre-Christian Gods of the Ancients, so much the better, even if it means sucking the hallucinogenic juice out of a Colorado River Toad)

Beholding Nature without all the God junk clouding the mind is my desired state. But it's no good. To purge myself fully I will need the time machine and a trip to 200 B.C.

Wordsworth said it well:

The World Is Too Much With Us; Late and Soon

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. -Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

- William Wordsworth

*** And if you think my views are eccentric, what about Robert Winston, also writing about religion today, who comes up with his usual rationalist rubbish about religious feeling = dopamine levels in the brain. The man is the most overrated personage in British society, and he quotes Richard Dawkins, the next most stupid man in Britain - they can't see that Science has become their Religion ***

Monday, October 10, 2005

Conclusive Evidence, as if it were needed...

You know, sometimes you watch a TV show about the arts and artists and think, "God, these people are such fake Bohemians, in love with the Notion of being a Writer or an Artist, rather than being bothered with anything like the Hard Work of Actual Creative Toil... and I bet they're rich, to boot, and are just slumming it, sleeping in fake cockroach-filled hammocks and pretending to only eat once a month, when there's a phoneline to some rich connection that can wire them Big Cash at any moment, arrange for Plane Tickets to Appear by Magic, etc..."

Well, I feel that way sometimes. Thing is, you can never test whether you are really right about these people, or whether it's simply All Your Own Prejudices.

So, it was a surprise to me, after 32 years of life on this wretched sphere, to be able to finally test the above proposition. You see, last night I watched an arts documentary on the Sundance channel, George & Co, Portrait Of A Bookstore As An Old Man - and there, large as life, up on the screen, was someone I spent 2 years at art college with in Devon.

Georgina Davey. George. I knew it was her, right from the first glance of her most unique nose (seen in profile). And it was.

Sooooo, was Georgina (and the clue is in the name, folks!) a True Artist? Or a Fake, who likes to play at being an Artist for the world's delight and amusement. Sadly, I can confirm that George never showed any glimpse of any artistic talent, beyond being able to make her nipples erect on demand, and never showed any desire to put in any hard work developing an arts practice that went beyond fluttering her eyelashes and attending fetish parties. She also had a family with plenty of money and is not wearing Camden Market purple leggings as she enters her thirties out of anything approaching economic necessity.

I claim VICTORY! Even if George is the only pretend artist in the world, my judgment can no longer be said to be Just the Result of My Own Prejudices!

Cause to cheer and dance like a grapefruit. Drum roll, maestro, please!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

John Betjeman - poet of the suburbs

The best way to experience the suburbs of England is from as great a distance as possible. I can well imagine reading and enjoying the poetry of John Betjeman from the International Space Station, before or after planetary destruction.

Betjeman's England is not the leafy vision I've encountered only in the songs of Nick Drake and on quasi-military family trips into "the country." His England is the same one I grew up in, of tiny gardens on the main road, through the cul-de-sacs of 80s housing developments, to the villages that have slowly been sucked into the orbit of a growing town, only to lose their gentle looks and quiet temperament to the invading hordes of speed bumps, plastic telephone boxes, mini-roundabouts, and drunken teenagers.


And those "rockeried roundabouts", how I miss them, as English as fish and chips and rain. Help! I'm reeling from the evocation... here's a great poem...

Inexpensive Progress

Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
That through your valleys roll.

Let's say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
'Keep Left,' 'M4,' 'Keep Out!'
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small 'amenity,'
Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we'll be erecting
A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
We'll know that we are dead.

- John Betjeman

Thought for the Day

The body is but a pair of pincers set over a bellows and a stewpan and the whole fixed upon stilts. - Samuel Butler (1883)

Friday, October 07, 2005

First Lines...

It is a disappointing week. Mostly because of my Head Aching and my Stomach being strange. I find it harder to accomplish anything under these conditions.

On a lighter note, I saw this posted on a Creative Writing website, requiring feedback. It is the first sentence of someone's projected novel. Which version do you prefer?

Hannah McGinty desperately pushed open the back door, dropping the groceries on the floor, she vomited in the mudroom sink.

or

Hannah McGinty desperately pushed the back door open, dropped the grocery bags on the floor and vomited ing the mudroom sink

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It's happening again - sadness...

What a dismal year it is turning out to be for deaths. John Peel, Brian Clough, Richard Whiteley, Robin Cook. And now, the one I hoped would not happen, the death of one of my greatest heroes, Ronnie Barker.

It was a complete thrill for me as a child, watching the Two Ronnies. Just the sight of the opening titles, with two pairs of spectacles throwing off golden sparks was enough to fill me with delicious anticipation. It was the Two Ronnies, along with John Steinbeck, who first filled me up with the magical sensations that the English language can produce. To this day, it only takes mention of "four candles" (fork handles) to have me laughing like a fool.

And Porridge! Don't get me started on Porridge! Porridge is, without doubt, my favo(u)rite TV show ever. What a delight it is, and I do a mean Richard Beckinsale impression, being from the same part of the world. How many times did me and Leo sit around repeating "Yowve been loik a father to me, Fletch..." in Dublin? Way too many times.

Goodbye, Ronnie Barker. Thanks for everything.


Monday, October 03, 2005

I must refrain...

Tom came to my aid today. Tom is not another blogger. He is a friend from the world beyond, he is a friend I have left behind. It is for Tom to secure my verdant square of turf in the great garden of English literature, and I have faith in him. His hands are like shovels - that should help.

Anyway, Tom's favo(u)r was to direct me away from the jagged rocks of lesser minds and back to my own struggles. For this I am grateful. My own struggles can be compared to those endured by the removal men, who were here at the apartment building again today. They were stuffing an elevator full of furniture. That's how I feel, working on my book.

Another minus is that I discovered Malcolm Bradbury was dead. He died in 2000. That's a shame, as I was lobbing Jack Puddings at him on a regular basis in one section of my book. I also had a joke about a film made by a would-be arsonist of Bradbury's home, titled - Fahrenheit 325: The Temperature at which Malcolm Bradbury's House Burns. Unless Bradbury returns from the dead, I am going to have to cross out a number of jokes, a depressing prospect.

On the plus side, I wrote this paragraph today -

"There are also people who may have made a different assumption, such as I levitated and glided towards the window. These people may have picked up this book from the wrong part of the bookstore; it may have incorrectly been put in the Fantasy section, for example. And these readers, being avid consumers of fantasy, are used to all manner of magical devices being employed as means of transport. Anything from magic carpets to teleportation, from the transfer of a person's individual atoms along a transparent tube of pure thought, to perambulation via enchanted rune-covered stilts. These people, indeed, may be so immersed in the fantasy genre that they find the simple notion of my walking absolutely incredible, and a welcome change from the overuse of the above mentioned methods. At this very moment, some teenager may be lying back on their bed with a blown mind and thinking, “Wow! He walked to the window. Cool. Maybe someday I'll walk to a window, too! And I'll look out and see a horde of goblins...” If you are that teenager, reading this, I wish you well, but you will find no goblins here."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Why I Write + Why Certain Writer/Academics are Total Nuisances

Why I Write

Presiding over the unformed world of the blank page, in an imitation of the Creator, I intone, “Let there be entertainment! Let there be jokes!” And there are. Eventually. With Bill Hicks dead, Lenny Bruce dead, I cannot wait for the appearance of the next person who makes me laugh. That person may be in diapers now. In the interim, I work on my own comic turns.

I have observed numerous writers*, usually the type that teach creative writing, blindly rehashing a well-worn pearl, talking of how they write to discover not what they know, but what they don't know. There are clumps of writers who have been “revealing” this truth periodically since Plato. Like phoney Victorian mediums, they seek out the most gullible, the most curious (usually a group of well-intentioned students). And then they go through their act, furrowing their brows, waving their arms, maybe even finding time for a little beseeching. And I think to myself, dear me, when will they call a halt to this branch of showbusiness? What do we have to say to make them disperse, to reskill, to retire. Yes, learning is a form of remembering, now move along. So why does it persist? Here are my thoughts.

Basically, this line of talk has a couple of benefits that are simply too good to ignore. And these writers persist with their routines for the same reason that mousetraps continue to prove effective. Firstly, if you are still busily discovering all that you don't know, then, hell, you're on a sort of quest, aren't you? And isn't it great to be on a quest? Particularly if you're advanced in years; maybe you have a beard, maybe you have cataracts. No matter. Those things are irrelevant if you can impress upon yourself and others the idea that you are still there, grappling with the great unknown. You're young at heart. You're just different because you are on the teaching staff of six universities and live in a converted windmill. Otherwise, we're the same. There is also the added bonus of this statement serving as an indicator of great modesty on the part of the speaker. Look at him/her, addressing the audience, prepared to admit, after an entire lifetime spent writing and thinking, that they don't know everything. That they sit at their desk, not knowing things. Wowee. And even braver, to be prepared to collect a fee, and stand for an hour, telling us in tricksy language how little they've learned. Now that takes some guts.

I take it as a given that I write to discover things. About myself and the magical universe I operate within. With my brand of entertainment, that is the only way forward. There is no pleasure in tracing a thought to a conclusion that is obvious from the moment of its conception. All those thoughts can land outside the page. I record those thoughts that it strikes me as being sad to lose. And preventing this loss is an immediate comfort when I am writing. I often have the thought, while sat at my desk; that I could lose all my memories in the next instant, but something would survive, it doesn't matter how small. Something would survive – there, that's proof of concept. Proceed.

***

* The only reason I am on this track, annoyed with academics/writers, is that I have been researching the kind of graduate studies that I would like to complete. This meant a careful reading of the statements and interviews given by the staff and the writers who lead these programs. In each case, I found the same kinds of statements in their interviews and speeches, and the same basically unpopular brand of writing once I looked at their work. (One story featured "lemony yellow" in the first sentence. Basically, as usual, mistaking mindful for rational; attempting to innovate at the level of the sentence, rather than beginning with innovative ideas. Somehow convinced that the everyday is just way too boring. If any of these people had an ounce of William H Gass' talent, maybe it'd be easier for me to take them seriously. But this is just naff, difference for difference's sake, like eating a steak through a straw.)

One writer said they wanted to see stories where "everything had been worked over." Are they aware of what "being worked over" means in the rougher part of town? Because that's how it read, like someone had written a story and then beaten themselves AND their story up. Same kind of people who analogise writing to sculpting something from a block, using their reason as a chisel, their emotions as hammers, and their experience as... whatever. We're almost back to Woolf's "picks up words as if in sugar-tongs." - (that is the Aristocratic rendering, where words are precious because they are civilising elements, and the more civilised you can make language and society, the more entrenched you and your aristocratic friends will be. See the unabashed teaching of The Queen's English for further details.)

Anyway, to conclude, I will be doing an M.A. in English Literature instead, and giving this whole sideshow a miss.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Monkey #1

The attitude adopted towards Monkeys by the mass of those who, after all, live in the same world, and have much the same appetites and necessities and sufferings as they, is an attitude I am persuaded, not of heartlessness, but of ignorance. To disturb that ignorance, and in some to awake a consciousness which, perhaps, they fear, is not a grateful task,but it is our duty, and we will pursue it.

Let the reader consider for one moment the aspect not only of formal law but of the whole community, and of what is called "public opinion" towards this section of sentient beings.

As things now are--aye! and have been for centuries in this green England of ours--a Monkey may not marry; he may not own land; he may not fill any salaried post under the Crown. The Papists themselves are debarred from no honour (outside Ireland) save the Lord Chancellorship. Monkeys, who are responsible for no persecutions in the past, whose religion presents no insult or outrage to our common reason, and who differ little from ourselves in their general practice of life and thought, _are debarred from all_!

- Hilaire Belloc, "On something"

Literary Links to Myself!

Here I am, two degrees of separation from Dylan Thomas!

Dylan Thomas -> Under Milk Wood (narrated by Richard Burton) -> 1997 Heaven is Hairless, by Jason Kennedy, performed at theatre built with money from Richard and Liz, the Burton Taylor Theatre in Oxford