Saturday, December 30, 2006

Scarlett's Reward On The Day They Hang Saddam

On the day Saddam Hussein was executed, we also received news of the New Year's Honours list-- a quaint little British tradition in which a range of titles are bestowed on people who have served their country well in the previous year, from Knighthoods, OBEs, CBEs, to the peculiarly named Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, which is given to people in the diplomatic service.

And can you guess who got that one this year, though it's not being widely reported? John Scarlett, current head of MI6, previously on the government's Joint Intelligence Committee. Who's he? The obliging fellow who, in the so-called "sexing-up" affair, agreed to the last-minute changes in the dossier Tony Blair presented to the nation to make his case for the invasion of Iraq. Fears had been expressed that the dossier, as it stood--replete with facts and other such inconveniences--would not make a convincing case for war. But by the time they'd finished rewriting it, having solicited Scarlett's consent for the changes, even half of the anti-war brigade secretly believed that Saddam had weapons sophisticated enough to launch strikes from Iraq on mainland Europe. It was a masterpiece of creative literature, way better than anything I've ever written, and it got Blair into Iraq behind George Bush with only a minimum of fuss.

Scarlett did his job well and on the day the deposed leader of Iraq was murdered and over seventy Iraqi citizens perished in a series of car bombs, he has been handsomely rewarded. It would leave you with a very bitter taste in the mouth if Iraq hadn't been tasting like poison on the tongue since it started.


Saddam is dead. This will hardly have escaped your attention if you've had the television on in the last few hours, especially in England, where BBC 1 has featured nothing else. They've even been kind enough to show, repeatedly, footage of the former dictator being led to the gallows.

Am I the only one who finds that distasteful?

Am I the only one who finds the execution reprehensible?

To be fair, I am against the death penalty anyway. A mass murderer has no moral right to live, as far as I can tell, but I have no moral right to kill him. I am not a good enough man. But this one comes as a result of an illegal invasion and occupation by the world's last superpower and its bullying cronies. The British Government--in an act of backsliding even George Bush wouldn't stoop to--has distanced itself from the execution, saying it doesn't support the use of capital punishment in Iraq or anywhere else, and that Saddam's death was the decision of the Iraqi Government, but unless I have got my chronology mixed up (and I doubt it), there was no Iraqi Government when Saddam was sent for trial. And even at the beginning of the process, execution was the only possible outcome if--and I use the word if with all due irony--he was found guilty. This was a trial for war crimes, remember, established by the victor to (paraphrasing Margaret Beckett's words) hold the defeated to account. It wasn't some internal Iraqi affair. At least have the courage to stand up and say you did it and you're proud of yourselves.

But there is probably nothing to be gained from debating it now. The man is dead. And by showing footage of his execution we are undoubtedly insulting his supporters, and fanatical Islamists who--while having no great love for Saddam--will be inclined to see him nevertheless as a victim of Western imperialism...insulting them with enough force and impact to guarantee instability and extremism in that benighted region of the world for another hundred years. Way to go George, Tony. Way to go, everyone like me who voted for one of these leaders. Way to go, everyone who thinks Iraq is none of their business and skips over that part of the paper to read the celebrity gossip every day.

Like Paul Simon said about another conflict in another dark time in modern history, We come in the Age's most uncertain hour/ And sing an American tune.

Today I'm really struggling to believe that my country stands for anything an honest, decent and fair-minded man to be proud of. What surprises me is that until today I did.

Friday, December 29, 2006


*"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." - Interview with CBS News.

*"I think - tide turning - see, as I remember - I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of - it's easy to see a tide turn - did I say those words?" – Response when asked if the tide was turning in Iraq.

*"The point now is how do we work together to achieve important goals. And one such goal is a democracy in Germany."

*"I can look you in the eye and tell you I feel I've tried to solve the problem diplomatically to the max, and would have committed troops both in Afghanistan and Iraq knowing what I know today."

yes, all of these quotes are genuine. still feel the world is in safe hands?

Don't Look Back

It has come. That time of the year when, whether you understand the impulse or not, you find yourself reviewing the successes and failures of the last twelve months and making resolutions for the next twelve.
Well, the archives of SUFFOLK PUNCH catalogue my successes and failures with more accuracy than any end-of-year backward-looking essay could, as the posts (those I haven't deleted in shame or embarrassment), were written at the time, as the successes and failures were actually occurring. So if you're really interested, and I can't imagine why you would be, all the evidence is there.
Looking back is pointless. But we do it. The past rapidly becomes a kind of mystery, a vanishing dream, and the present is no less of a puzzle. How did you become this peculiar creature that you are? Was it this moment that shaped you? or another? Did those other worlds you live in really exist?
Can we not just step back, for a moment, and put right what we did wrong? Can't we say that word instead of this word and make everything better?
Unfortunately I think we all know the answer to that.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stray Thoughts On Iraq & The Execution Of Saddam

Can anybody think of another British Prime Minister who participated in the illegal invasion and occupation of another country and then had the deposed leader of the country executed?

Tony Blair. Isn't he against capital punishment?

I would not weep for the soul of Saddam. He is clearly a nasty piece of work, and--I would think--a little bit mad. But does he deserve to be alive?
Do I?

Saddam is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. No debate there. Ergo, crimes against humanity.
How many innocent people have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq?

The hand that signed the paper that launched the invasion--who put the owner of the hand in power?
I was one of the many.
Iraq is on my conscience too.

He was no friend of Bin Laden. He didn't have WMDs.
Why were we there, exactly?

Don't misunderstand me. I fear Islam as much as the next man. I fear any philosophy that takes away my right to think, and feel, and express the contents of my head, without fear of persecution.
So I also fear Police, Secret Service, Labour Party, Tory Party, Liberal Party, Republican Party, Democratic Party, Neighbourhood Watch, MySpace, Beards for Peace, Anarchists United.

This post can have no natural end.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Why Do You Write?

It's the question that is always asked of the author in the room. Jack Kerouac answered it by saying he wrote because he was bored. Charles Bukowski refused to answer it.
I write because I have nothing better to do.
I write because I am immensely vain and like the sound of my own voice, even in silence on the page or computer screen.
I write because I don't know how to say these things in conversation.
I write because I want to be told how clever and talented I am.
I write because I believe telling one's own truth liberates everybody.
That's all. If I get a reputation or a career out of it, fine. But I'm too lazy and undisciplined to seek them actively.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Zenbo at Christmas

When I was a kid, or more specifically when I was a teenager, I used to hate the way older people would try to attach some seasonal significance to everything they did at this time of year--you know, everything was a christmas kiss, or a christmas hug, or a christmas drink, or a christmas nap. I could see even then the pathos of our attempts to match our mood to traditional expectations of the season.
I think a lot of the sadness that people feel at Christmas arises from the chasm that exists between their own emotional state and their sense of what they should be feeling. Their physical situation and their sense of what they should be doing. Someone who is alone for the other 364 days of the year (or however many there are these days), suddenly feels utterly bereft because they are alone on December 25th, and they don't think they should be. Someone else feels empty, scooped out of any emotion, but thinks they should be feeling love for their family, or the presence of a divine spirit. So they translate that into a rant about the lack of spirituality at Christmas.
We all know how it goes.
The thing I like about Zen Buddhism is that it teaches you to live in this moment precisely, and this, and this, and this, without intellectualising about the past or the future or even the nature of NOW. A Zenbo at Christmas wakes up and does his thing without considering what it was like last year or when he was a kid, or what the people across the street are doing. He breathes, he feels his heart beat, feels the cold kitchen tiles on the pads of his feet, feels the taste of coffee on his tongue, listens to the birdsong outside in the trees, notices the absence of cars out on the road today. His mind is still. He is, without connection to anything except what is in the present moment alongside him.
If more Westerners could learn the skill of just being, there would be so much less of this terrible sadness and stress that we seem to have accepted as part of twenty-first century life. And Christmas, which is currently unbearable for large swathes of the population, might become quite a pleasant experience again.

James Brown

BBC news is reporting that James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, has died. There's no more information yet.
What a loss. Since Elvis, they haven't come any bigger than him.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blue Fred's Christmas Speech

Happy Freaking Christmas, esteemed readers. May you all get the sort of December 25th you deserve! (as you surely will.)

Now, how about we work extra hard in '07 to end the Occupation of Iraq, and head off at the pass any other war George Bush might want to start in his bull-headed campaign to make the world safe for extremist Christianity?

Then maybe we'll have the dubious privilege of labouring through another Christmas next year.

"Take it easy, but take it."

----------Blue Fred.

Christmas Eve

Want to feel the Christmas spirit? There's a beautiful seasonal poem over at Ralph Murre's blog ( ) that might get you in the mood. I wish I could write with that kind of grace and maturity!

I'm off to London for the day on a work-related mission. Getting a bus half way and then training into the smoke. I'd rather go all the way on the train, but it seems the great iron horse won't be passing through little Northampton on Christmas Eve. Well, I can't blame the rail company. I wouldn't be passing through Northampton if I had the choice either. I'd be staying at home, drinking too much, taking a cold back country walk, lying in front of the television getting depressed etc. etc.--all the things I like to do best.
When I get to London I probably won't stay long. In fact, I may just do the deed I have to do, then turn around and come home again. It's what I did last year when I was in the same situation. I always intend to make the most of the fact that my work are paying me to travel to the city I love, but at Christmas the freezing weather and the crowds are just too much. I have so many issues with the capitalist free-for-all that Christmas has become, I want to get on a box like John the Baptist or some drunken nut and yell at everybody for letting themselves be hoodwinked so completely. Which I have no more right to do than anybody else, being a "tragic figure," according to one correspondent on this page, but there you are. Like that correspondent, I hide behind a keyboard and sling my self-righteous insults.

Listening to the news this morning as I was drinking coffee and trying to wake up, I remembered: it used to be a joke among us cynics that at Christmas, the news programmes would suddenly rediscover their collective conscience and pack their airtime with stories about abandoned animals and the homeless. But that doesn't happen anymore. All you get in 2006 are stories about Christmas shopping on the high street and what it means for business and the economy (oh, and the usual stories about the war, and America picking on Muslim countries.) It's represents an obvious a shift in the priorities of our society in the last 20 or so years: back then you at least had to pretend that Christmas had something to do with religion; now you don't even have to do that. Which is more honest, in a way, but it's also very sad. Am I the only one who doesn't want to live in a society where the highest aspiration a man is supposed to have is to acquire more and more and more stuff?

Yes, I know, bah humbug. But the Christmas they want you to have sucks.
Buy NOTHING. If you have spare cash, give it to someone who needs it.
Tell somebody how precious they are to you.
Shut your eyes and try to feel the presence of a divine spirit.
That's Christmas. This is just shopping.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

December 23rd High Street Christmas Snapshot

So this is Christmas. And what have you done?

A lot of shopping this morning, discovering in the process one great use for mobile phones. When you're lost in a Christmas crowd and you can't find your companion, you can pull out your mobile and locate them immediately. If they have one hand not laden with shopping bags and are able to answer it. I wonder what they did in the Seventies. Of course, I was around in the Seventies, but as I recall we always spent the 23rd of December at home in those days, lamenting the fact that it wasn't yet December 24th, because that at least was only a day away from Christmas.

Would the crowds in the shops have been so tumultuous then? I don't know. I doubt anything could have equalled the heaving press of humanity I encountered in Northampton this morning. I am normally quite happy to mooch around the shops for an hour or two, but today it really got on my nerves. Every shop I went into had queues at the tills twenty deep. And I couldn't get to anything I wanted to examine because there was somebody in front of it already. How can people spend five full minutes studying the track list on one compact disc I ask you? And why would a big fat bloke block up a whole aisle in W.H.Smith's while he stands and reads a magazine? Does it not occur to him that he's too large for anyone to pass? Can't he sense the person standing just behind him trying to suppress the impulse to push his fat arse out of the way? I can feel someone's eyes on me when they are watching from the other side of the street.

I said to my friend as we pushed and excuse-me'd our way through the herds in the Grosvenor Centre, "Do you think this is what Jesus had in mind when he was dying on the cross?"

It seems unlikely. But there is no stopping this hurtling train now.

The Gays Are The Last Acceptable Target

Okay, I don't think I have too many English readers--something about S.P. doesn't chime with the limeys--but did anybody see that story about the police interviewing a Christian couple who had made public statements about homosexuality being morally wrong? I believe it was in Lancashire somewhere. Now, I'm not one to side with the police unnecessarily, but the real lunacy in this case was not the fact that they interviewed the couple, but that they have now been forced to apologise to them and pay damages.

Are you f***ing kidding me???? It may say in the Bible that homosexuality is an abomination. I believe it also says you shouldn't part your hair in the middle, or wear ringlets at the side of your face. But the same Christians who complain bitterly every day that they are a persecuted minority in this country and that Tony Blair only cares about Muslims (how do they work that one out?), will tell anyone prepared to listen--or too polite to tell them to piss off--that gay people are going to Hell because what they do in the bedroom is revolting and unnatural.

If incitement to religious hatred is a crime--and I believe it should be, though the law must never confuse incitement to hatred with vigorous discussion--then incitement to any sort of hatred should be unacceptable. If you're going to protect the Muslims, the Hindus and the Christians (who must also be protected--don't get me wrong, I have many Christian friends), then how come it's still acceptable, apparently under the law if this latest case is any indication, to express disgusting views about homosexuals? I don't want to live in any society where a man or a woman is considered a second- or third-class citizen just because they like to pleasure themselves differently.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice has arrived. Hooray!
Wossit mean, I hear those of you recently arrived either to Earth or consciousness?
It means the days will start getting longer from this point on, and the nights shorter.
Which means in a few short months it will be warm again. (Thank God for that, currently it's debilitatingly cold.) It means there will be daffodils, and lambs. And then pub gardens in the evening. Girls in vest tops. It means (adult note here) electricity and gas bills will become affordable. It means things will get better.
And isn't that all anybody really needs to know in life?

I am broke and desperately missing the love I once had. I've tried to distract myself with other women--been trying all summer--but it isn't working. Ho well. Sometimes you just have to deal with things head on, and not duck the issue. Love hurts, as Gram Parsons and a whole lot of other people would say. I do not want to leave the Lookout and have to face the possibility of sharing a house with two or three people until I can get the cash together to fly solo again (and how I like to fly solo.) But the way things are going, that's what is going to have to happen. Again, that's life. At least our government shoots other people, and not us.
At Winter Solstice we are reminded, through the best of all providers of metaphor, Mother Nature, that things change; and sometimes when they change you get daffodils and lambs, and more money in your pocket.
And look at her out there anyway, all cold and bare, labouring with such dignity to support you in your miserable, complaining life. Giving branches for the birds. Mud for the worms. Water for the fish. Grass verges for the dogs. No one deserves a little warmth more than she does.
This is why I greet the Solstice with so much appreciation today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


The shaven face is corporate. Don't be fooled. But the corporate world has many faces. It might be that of your boss at work. But equally it might be the face of a handsome young footballer staring at you from a billboard as you travel into town. Or somebody on a television ad who looks cooler than you, who has beautiful women kissing his bare-baby cheeks (rewarding him for his conformity). Those images aren't real. That's MOVIE, as Charles Bukowski says. Those guys are getting paid millions by big companies to represent that life to you. However much they wrap it up in rock and roll imagery, or imagery which at least seems to have nothing to do with rich old farts in big houses who wouldn't piss on a pauper like you if you were on fire, it's still the fake world of control, suppression, homogeneity. Industry has wanted to stamp out your right to be a free-thinking person with an individual identity and separate hopes and dreams since way before the days of Henry Ford.
Since I grew the new beard I've had nothing but condemnation. And worse than that, a kind of sympathetic horror, as if the appearance of a healthy grey bush on my chin were indicative of some inner decline--of moral backsliding, or depression. And I am more than capable of falling into the grasp of both, but NOT THIS TIME HONEY (that's another Buk line, isn't it?)
Why is it that a shaven face is considered to be a sign of moral well-being? Because I would suggest--it's Puritanism--we have the natural element, the individual element, in us, suppressed. A clean-shaven man is not going to be a howling monkey driven by wild sexual urges. A clean-shaven man is going to do his duty and be humble and small in the sight of God--or in a post-Christian, super-capitalist age, his boss at work. As the slave comes to identify with his captors, the majority of people labouring in this repressive system, with media brainwashing and poor education to fight against as they struggle to know their own minds, have bought the bullshit message that shaving represents moral health and now they show Beardies like me what amounts to a genuine concern (albeit mixed with a certain pious repulsion), when the hair starts to appear on previously smooth chins.
Why is that a shaven face is considered to be more aesthetically pleasing than a hairy one? Perhaps our aesthetic sense has a moral component. Perhaps beauty is equated with moral well-being in the half-formed and under-educated: how can something be beautiful, in other words, if it is at the same time a sign of moral decay? It can be, of course, but maybe not in the minds or eyes of these particular beholders.
I don't know. It's a complex subject requiring intellectual analysis I don't have the capacity or the time for. Personally I've never understood an aesthetic that celebrates homogeneity. When you shave you look like everybody else. And though a lot of the young, hip bands coming out of the U.K. are hairier than they have been for many a decade, almost everybody else in this country, young or old, could have been made using a human cookie cutter. Take your courage in your hands and go into a town centre on a Friday or Saturday night: if you're slightly drunk you may think you're hallucinating a crowd of unruly laboratory clones--all short greasy hair, clean faces, untucked shirts and expensive pants. But a beard is like a singing voice; it's an individual signature that won't ever be reproduced, no matter how many countries you visit, however many people you check.
Does it, then, offer too much of a challenge to the person who has never had an individual thought in his life?
Does it send an unconscious message to the heads of industry that their empires won't last forever?

Monday, December 18, 2006

42nd birthday poem (all right still)

it's my birthday today.
i'm 42 years old. same age
elvis presley was
when he bit the carpet.
and i look much older.
my woman's gone.
i'm spending
the day alone.
soon i will have
to leave this house i love
and i can't afford to--
the cost of renting
is astronomical these days.
all in all, the outlook's
pretty bleak as the
pale sun
climbs the trees
into the winter sky
this morning.
so why is it
i feel this goofy hope?
perhaps because
i have no choice at last.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Clint and Bob, Still Causing a Fuss

Two old heroes of mine have been in the news this week.

Clint Eastwood, who is releasing two new films about the invasion of Iwo Jima in Japan in World War Two--the first movie from the American perspective and the second from the Japanese point of view. The critics are saying that Clint has risen to new heights with these films; some are even calling them masterpieces--and he's nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe for both of them. Way to go, old boy. Clint was always a little better than the average even during his "Hamburger Hill" and "Dead Pool" days, though it was a lot harder to see his good qualities in those (thankfully) far away times. And how interesting that someone associated so closely with the Right--albeit not the dumb-ass Right of George Bush--is making movies that express ambivalence about the glories of war and America's purpose in the world. If that don't tell you we're in changing times, then nothing does.

The other old hero of mine in the news this week was Bob Dylan, who, it's reported, is suing the makers of a new movie about Edie Sedgewick, "Miss Lonely" in "Like a Rolling Stone," because the film suggests a character obviously based on Dylan caused her death. I contacted Dylan's site on MySpace to find out if the story was true, but perhaps not surprisingly, they haven't responded. I always heard "Rolling Stone" as a warning to Edie from Bob about the dangers of associating with the vampiric Warhol set: he's trying to save her by singing those cruel, immortal lines, not kill her. But what do I know.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

You Gotta Move

My landlord came around tonight and told me that the people who own the Lookout want to sell it. Well, ain't that just great news to hear five days before your birthday! He says he has advised the owners not to put the house on the market before the Spring, but since the Estate Agents want to come around and value the place straight away, I'm not taking anything for granted. Gonna have to start looking for somewhere else tomorrow.

Which is fine. I've lived in the Lookout for three years, and though I've had some great times here, the really good times were a long time ago, when you-know-who was still with me and our love was young and insane. I've had some fun since she was last here, sometime last April or March, but it's not really been the same. So if she's not going to warm the chair at my computer table anymore, maybe the time is ripe for packing the saddlebags and moving it along.

But moving's no fun. It's stressful trying to organise it, plan it, then make it all happen. And bloody expensive too, for a broken-down poet who can turn money into water that trickles through his hands. I will have to do a comprehensive clean of the Lookout to see if there's a snowball's chance in Hell of me getting my deposit back, so I have a deposit for the next place. I'll start with the wax on the carpet where I kicked over a candle, continue by trying to glue the front door back together and work out what needs doing after that!

Whisky Gaps

I have interruptions in my memory which I refer to as "whisky gaps." So many things fall through them these days. So why can't I lose the memory of our love?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Iraq: Who's Really to Blame?

On the anti- side of the Iraq debate we compromise ourselves sometimes by appearing not to have a grasp of the complexities of the situation over there--it isn't another Vietnam, people. And too often, because we are either ducking the complexities or we really don't understand them, we seem to be blaming our own side (if, as human beings, we can have a side) for everything. Other than as a result of their own paranoid monomania, it's the main reason why those on the side of Bush and Blair think we're a bunch of stinking radicals who want to overthrow the government and set up a kingdom of radical Islam.

Personally I would rather Church and State were separated whatever the church. George Bush proves how dangerous a politician can be if he thinks God is talking to him. I don't want a Christian government (though I'd be more in sympathy with it), and I don't want an Islamic government. Nor do I want anarchy. I may be inviting accusations that I've turned into a comfort-seeking old has-been, but there has to be some kind of organising principle in human society. There is too much of the savage in us to risk a state with no laws at all.

Today according to the radio dozens of Iraqi workers have been killed by a suicide bomber as they queued up looking for work. It wasn't a British or American soldier who did that. It wasn't Tony Blair or George Bush who did it either. It was another Iraqi. I'm sure if you'd caught him in the moment before he did the deed he would have come up with a thousand rationalisations for it, blaming everybody from the buffoon in the White House to Michael Jackson's pet monkey, but ultimately, he did it. And however his country has been violated by the imperialist aggression of Britain and the United States, nothing on this earth can justify his action.

What am I saying here? The invasion was wrong. No argument. The Occupation was a mistake; and they haven't even done it well. We have tortured and murdered so many innocent Iraqis since George Bush declared that the job had been done, the stains won't come off our hands for a hundred years--and it will take longer than that for the insult to fade from the race memory of Iraq. It is also agreed pretty near universally--except perhaps in the Oval Office and at 10 Downing Street--that the presence of British and American troops in Iraq makes a disastrous situation much worse. We should get out of there.

But those of us on the anti-Occupation side should not shrink from pointing the finger at the anarchists and radical Islamists within Iraq, and calling for them to lay down their guns and bombs and whatever other instruments of murder they are turning on their own people.I am for peace, but it's not an expectation I lay on my own government while excusing everybody else. The peace movement should be demanding the same moral conduct from all sides in the Iraq disaster. If we don't we just end up looking like nice well-meaning ineffectual Western hypocrites getting off on a sense of ourselves as radicals--reliving the Sixties, in some way-- while never really expecting to have a constructive impact on the horror that is unfolding over there day by day, hour by hour.

Knocking your own government, after all, has been a game for bourgeois Westerners to play at the dining table for so long, nobody can even remember when it started.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Beards For Peace

That's right. It's the new peace campaign that every man wants to be a part of! Wish you could do something about the disaster in Iraq? Want to keep the pressure up on the Bush and Blair governments to bring our troops home? Grow a beard! It's a symbolic gesture to show your individualism, your independence, and your brotherhood with the innocent Muslims being slaughtered in the streets of Iraq every day. (No, it's not British and U.S. troops doing most of the killing, not now, but it's a situation we created and then failed to control; and even the British Army has admitted that our presence there "exacerbates security problems," or whatever the phrase was.)
The anti-war/ anti-Occupation lobby has made huge progress on both sides of the Atlantic--maybe more in America than here. But if we turn the heat down on our respective governments now the Occupation could go on for years, and how many more Iraqis--how many more British and American troops for that matter--will have to die if that happens?
So grow a beard. It's such an unacceptable, anti-social gesture in this prim, manicured, puritanical age, the bush sprouting on your chin is bound to provoke discussion. And when it does you can fire off a lecture about Western imperialism and the murder of the innocents in the Middle East. You may get punched, you may lose your friends, you may wind up being investigated by over-zealous security agents who mistakenly believe that wanting your nation to be a nation of peace is unpatriotic, but at the very least you'll save a small fortune in razors.
Go to to find out more about the campaign.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

a little poem for yer

Picking up my journal a while ago, I realised I didn't know the date, so quickly scribbled off this little poem.

time blurring.
days and years all sliding into one.
tonight with heartburn
listening to arthur 'big boy' crudup 1950s blues
thinking of the railway club:
drunken teenage nights listening to rock 'n' roll,
avoiding the fistfights in the lobby.
electric blues riffs and cars passing through the steady rain
heading for the shortest day december 21st,
when spring starts inching back
to light the evenings--.

Adios, Pig

So Pinochet is dead. Shame.

Doctors say he died with his family at his bedside. That's more than the thousands murdered in his name got to enjoy when they breathed their last.

Margaret Thatcher must be bereft to have lost another of her dear old friends.

An Explanation

I hope people understand that when I'm knocking Christianity I'm not knocking Christ. It seems highly doubtful to me that the two are synonymous.


Here's one for you. I heard from a Christian I know that Christmas cards depicting Santa aren't acceptable because Santa is an obvious misspelling of Satan. The Devil isn't as clever with his disguises as we thought, boys and girls!

I pointed out to the person that you couldn't get the letters of his surname to spell anything sinister, unless SLUAC worries you, but apparently that is not the point. The laughing rotund white-bearded gift giver who comes down your chimney on Christmas Eve will be the Devil, and the Santa/ Satan thing proves it. Gives a whole new meaning to, "You better watch out/ You better think twice," or whatever the song says.

The Spirit of Christmas

That sense of something special in the air hasn't gone away today, and I was expecting it to. But I can't explain what it is; it defies analysis. Once you get into conceptualising anything, anyway, you go off into your own mind and lose your connection to whatever it is that's out there: Zen people have been telling us that for centuries. MU!

All I can say is that to me it's like some sort of electrical charge hanging everywhere that somehow carries all our collective hopes for ourselves and our loved ones, all our secret dreams and delights, all the things about us that are good and open and giving rather than sad, cynical and lost. There's an intimation of the love and tenderness of all the generations that have come before us in the air as well. Step anywhere and it's like the dead are close enough to touch. I could feel it walking around the Disney Store in Northampton today, with kids running around everywhere and Kermit the Frog singing something from one of the giant televsion screens. But I could also feel it sitting on a cold fence an hour later in Northampton Bus Station watching two women who looked like hookers sharing a can of Fosters lager and trying to skank a light for their cigarettes from everyone who passed.

It's either a trick my own mind is playing on me because I happen to be in a good mood lately, or I'm really onto something. Frankly, though, I don't care, because I'm rather bewitched by it anyway.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas: Damn, I Think I've Figured It Out!

I'll tell you something I've figured out today. Christmas is the big chance everybody gets each year to put all their past screw-ups behind them and figure out how to be a better man or woman in the coming year. Jesus died on the cross to prove the resurrection, right? To show that with faith and selfless love you can have a new life. Now, I'm no theologian, but it seems to me that message can apply to you whether you believe in Heaven or not.

As for the consumer orgy that Christmas has become--which I and a million others have defamed as murderous to the traditional spirit of the season--well, yeah. But put on Sinatra singing "O Come All Ye Faithful" or Elvis blues hollering through "Santa Claus Is Back In Town"...feel the cold nipping your fingers...and tell me honestly that there still isn't something about Christmas, some kind of strange magic in the air that isn't there the rest of the year. I don't know if it's Christian or Hindu or Pagan or Schmagan but it's there, kiddies, and it's beautiful.

You have blundered through the last year like a blind bull, hurting and being hurt. Now you have a chance to cut out all that shit and let some happiness into your heart--some simple , uncomplicated, unpossessive happiness. Christmas lets you clean your karma NOW. But you've got to look and listen, and open your heart, or you'll miss the opportunities you're given.

(Sorry for sounding so positive about all this, by the way. I'm uncomfortable with it too.)

Friday, December 08, 2006


slime. my world is mud and slime.
crawling thru barbed wire on my belly
frightened as a rat.

slung out of an alleyway: a dustbin!
bomb! the crowds scream and en
masse rush out of the way.
my mind races: to that parked car?
what's in the car???!!
if i follow them, the car will blow.
i press my back into a doorway.
"i'm scared," i tell my dark friend.
fear defines me like a name.

Which Side Are You On?

It amazes me that so many people don't belong to trade unions in this country (or anywhere.)
Seems almost willfully perverse to me. Or the height of naivete. One day it will be you hearing the Man's footsteps behind you. And you are not the Man, though you might wear cheap imitations of his clothing. He will squash you like a bug when you stop putting money in his pocket.
Here's a suggestion. If you don't agree with trade unions, give up the benefits you've got because the unions fought for them. Like a livable wage. Like paid annual leave. It's a bit hypocritical to enjoy the fruits of the labours of people you disdain, after all, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ronald Baatz Publishes New Book

Concrete Meat Press of Knighton, Leicester have published a chapbook by my favourite American poet Ronald Baatz. It's called "On The Back Porch" and it's very good indeed. 50 short poems (but not the haiku one usually associates with Ronald), about love and loss and death, all told in that funny/lyrical/ sad/ surreal/ orientally-influenced style that makes the Baatz ouevre so compelling and distinctive. He's American poetry's best kept secret, thanks in part to his own desire to remain beneath the literary radar; and if you haven't encountered him yet, you are missing something. Take it from one who knows.
No price is quoted for the book. Contact the publisher for more information via their website: .Oh, and tell 'em you were referred by a poet friend of Ronald's who has a chapbook of his own he'd like to place with some congenial Press.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Meaning of Life

Watching the children coming out of Wilby school tonight--remembering me running home from school in Little Harrowden 35 years ago--exhausted after spending the day working at a job that does nothing for me except pay my bills, I thought: What a shit stick we're handing the younger generation! What is there waiting for them except the ritual of wasting their best days going to and from meaningless jobs, enduring insufferable company, being put down by people who deserve to be hit with a shovel but you can't because in the absurdist hierarchy of the workplace they've somehow risen to the top? What is waiting for those delightful, free-living, tousle-headed kids except the gradual diminution of their will and their energy, their joy, in shops and warehouses and offices performing, ritualistically, over and over and over again, totally pointless tasks just so they can earn enough money to survive to continue performing the pointless tasks?
All of which is true. Capitalist society is degrading and anti-human, and the sooner somebody (I've always wondered if it wasn't my destiny) comes up with an alternative, the better we'll all be. But life does have something to offer those kids. The value of life lies in the experiences that the individual has which seem to have no value to the society as a whole. In who you love, particularly. In your relationships with your friends and family. In the values you discover in yourself--especially those, like loyalty, which society doesn't prize. And in the things you think to yourself in the privacy of your own mind. A day cannot be given meaning, or substance, by signing a lucrative contract or getting praised by your boss, unless you are a moral worm, but it can acquire those things instantly when you suddenly realise the beauty of a yellow moon hanging low over the town lights at the horizon.
Life gets its substance, in other words, from poetry.
It's rather funny that I, of all people, should have forgotten that.

Monday Morning Notebook Observations

wind sweeps
the overgrown
garden bushes

a full yellow moon
over the woollaston
secondhand car garage

a black man
with a long-handled
comb in his hair
adjusts his
baggy trousers
in the mirror
by the basins
in the bus station
at 7 a.m.

from my journal, yesterday

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Poetry Readings

I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but it bears repeating even if I have. Come January I will be reading poetry at the Labour Club in Northampton, first Wednesday of the month (whatever date that turns out to be).It's just me, a few loose leaves of poetry, a microphone and an audience of (I hope) appreciative listeners. Anybody who's in the area should come along. Hear this s**t read out loud by the man responsible for it (and pelt him with oranges).

My hope is to turn the performances into a regular thing. Maybe one day if I combine performances with a little freelance writing, I can even quit the money job. Today I've been discussing another gig with a Northampton event organiser, so it's not beyond the absolute, outer realms of possibility that a few more might come along, and on a regular basis.

We shall see. I have to get past the first gig first, and not die a huge and horrible death. After that we can talk of glory.

Oh, the point of this entry was to say this to promoters, pub owners, whoever else might be out there: I am available locally or nationally if you want to book me for readings. Drop me an email at

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It Was Cold As Hell Tonight But The Women Were Lovely

i'm sprouting beard hair
like an unkempt bush,
growing my grey tresses
down my neck again
and roaming towns at night
in a big warm military coat.
sitting in bus stations
reading knackered paperbacks.
a girl i care for says, "you
look like a bag of shit
bruce. why don't you shave?"
i am happier
than i have been in months.

Rosa Who?

Something great on the BBC website yesterday. They have an "on this day in history" feature, which is always interesting if you have a curiosity, as I do, about politics and world affairs generally. But yesterday it said something like: "On this day in 1955 a black woman in Alabama USA refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus. Her action helped to begin the Civil Rights movement in America." So, she didn't have a name? She still hadn't done enough to be identified as an individual person rather than a representative of her race? Try Rosa Parks, dummies.

Oh, before you race off with the impression I'm being politically correct, a glance at other events from the same day in history on the site shows that everybody else DOES get a specific name. A black friend tells me that the woman in the picture isn't even Rosa Parks! We've come a long way, kiddies, but there are miles to go before we sleep.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Martin Hodder On Elvis

I've been following your utterings on the web thingy and at last I've spotted some comments with which I wholeheartedly agree. "Listen to Elvis as though you're hearing him for the first time," you suggest. Well done!

As someone who DID hear Elvis from the absolute beginning, on Radio Luxembourg, I can assure you that the impact was profound, and very much more so than was the case with any of his contemporaries. I can't remember precisely how it affected me, but it was obvious from the very start that the songs of Elvis Presley (as he was referred to then, of course) were in a class entirely of their own.

I remember when the film Jailhouse Rock finally made it to Ipswich. I hadn't long known Mum then, and of course we both wanted to see it. I couldn't go, because the week it was on I was working a shift (I was a police cadet then) that didn't finish until 10pm, and there was nothing I could do about it. So she went on her own, and I dashed from the police station just after 10 to meet up with her and walk her home. She was genuinely in a trance-like state, and had lines down her face where she'd been crying in the cinema.

That's the effect Elvis had on teenagers in the fifties. And, do you know, I've never met any of our contemporaries who have ever lost their love of his music. Even now, as an old git, I still play it regularly when I'm supposed to be working in my little office here. And, especially his early songs still move me in much the same way.

Martin Hodder is the father of the author of this blog. An extremely good writer, as the above shows, with a list of publishing credits longer than mine will ever be, including notable stints with MOTOR CYCLE NEWS, PRACTICAL PHOTOGRAPHY, AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER, and VIDEO REVIEW, among many many others. The musings above are from an email to the author and are reproduced with Martin's kind permission. Normally he gets paid for this sort of thing, you know!

Silly Accident #2

There's a line in "Howl" about throwing your watch away to cast your ballot for eternity and then having alarm clocks fall on your head every day. This is my life at the moment. I made fun of Ruth a while ago for being accident prone and since then I have had two accidents so ridiculous they wouldn't have been out of place in a Laurel & Hardy film. So either I am being punished for mocking her or my brain tumour is beginning to make itself felt.

Last time, as regular readers know, I fell down the stairs in a Northampton bar (and I wasn't drinking, wiseass.) Today, I was picking something up behind a mechanical gate as it opened and stepping aside quickly so as not to get pinned between the gate and the wall, I fell over, catching my leg on an outjutting piece of gate iron, ripping my trousers and doing something queasily unpleasant to my knee as I sprawled to the ground. And twenty feet away there was a beautiful woman watching--just the audience you don't want when you're making yourself look a spectacular idiot.

Can we now agree, God, that I have been punished enough for my mockery of Ruth? Or do you have something else in store for me? Will I crack my head open on the step when I go out in a while to post my friend's birthday card? Will a gas explosion disfigure me if I don't post the card and choose instead to stay indoors and keep safe? You must be fond of Ruth indeed.

Or are you getting back at me because of the general level of abuse I have heaped on those half-educated evangelical swine who are bringing your name into such disrepute with freethinkers everywhere?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Vicky Stuart And Joe Woolley: Proving Northampton Is Really The Capital Of England

While we're on the subject of music, which we usually are, try these two Northampton-based musicians: Vicky Stuart (, and Joe Woolley ( ). (No, I'm not working for bloody Rupert Murdoch, it just happens that musicians and poets are flocking to MySpace in large numbers, and that's where you'll find the internet home of these folks.)

I don't know too much about Vicky, though I like her voice and the few songs she's posted. I know Joe and have seen him play, albeit in his own living room. He's a great guitar player who's been listening to the best folk, jazz and blues for a thousand years--despite being somewhere in his twenties--and absorbing everything he's heard into a distinctive, and impressive, style. He also sounds more English than Syd Barrett when he sings. If there's any justice in the world, which of course there isn't, he will inherit a small kingdom one day.

Anyway, enough of these slightly random, post-inebriated musings. The acoustic stylings of both artists are waiting for your attention at the links above. Go and improve yourself today.

The Elvis Presley for Martian Ears Game

Have you ever tried forgetting everything you think you know, and everything you remember, about Elvis Presley and listening to the music as if you've no idea who he is and it's the first time you've ever heard him play? You really should. When you do, he's fantastic.

They called him the King of Rock 'n' Roll for a good reason, kids. No one ever even came close.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Novel By Wred Fright Excerpted On His Site

The first chapter of Wred Fright's new novel "The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus" has been posted for your reading enjoyment at Wred's MySpace site ( ). You owe it to yourself to go and read it, particularly if you're as bored as I am by the literature coming out of mainstream publishing houses these days. This book'll never make Richard & Judy's reading list. Why? Because it's funny, inventive and if chapter one is anything to go by, terrifically well-written.
Cut it out, Wred. Don't you know how passe those qualities are?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Stray Shots, Late

I have absolutely nothing to offer anyone. Not even a particularly sharp mind anymore: I have noticed a steady diminishing of my brain power in the last couple of years--memory loss, declining concentration, a fairly constant feeling of woolly tiredness...I haven't penetrated to the root of an idea or felt a mastery of any subject for so long now, the likelihood of there having been days when I could do that has all the credibility of an improbable rumour.

This I am absolutely sure of: that the spread of evangelical Christianity is a poison which eventually will contaminate the world, first by discrediting Jesus' beautiful message--which it already has done with most reasonable people--so that people who might have believed will be made to suffer spiritual crisis and alienation, and then by enslaving society with its ugly, intolerant, right-wing political agenda.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Never Blog On A Cold Sunday Morning

Never blog on a cold Sunday morning when it's still dark outside and you have woken up alone with a twelve-hour shift ahead of you.

All night there were dreams of frustration and failure. All night the tap dripped into the saucepan in the sink downstairs, waking you with its insistent rhythm. And now the idea returns yet again that you are not with the woman you love, she is drifting further and further out to the peripheries of your life. And whose fault is that? Great work, poet.

It was always meant to be her, you and her, in a nice house together, out in the country somewhere. Everything you have done since, with other women, has been an effort to put you into that scene--but it just has the ring of compromise now. That retreat, that idyll, has no meaning without the one it was meant for.

Like I said, never blog on a cold Sunday morning. The noise and distractions of the day will wind up obscuring these truths even from you, and then you'll feel such a fool for sharing them.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Got My Next Month's Pay Slip Yesterday

I realised something this morning, comparing my present situation to that of a friend who's in trouble: it is a miraculous thing just to have enough money to take care of your needs for the coming month. Having enough cash--unless something terrible happens-- to feed, clothe and heat your body for the next four weeks is a hell of an achievement, and something a person can be proud of. Yes, there is the longer view, and you do have to give some consideration, at least, to the future; but rest a little while in the glow of what you've done so far. Some people don't even know where their next cup of tea is gonna come from.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Age of the New Pilgrim Fathers is Coming: Look Out, Beatniks

Someone I know said the person they would most like to meet is Jesus Christ, so that they could find out what He actually said. Me too. Half the time when I hear Christian people talking about themselves and society I can imagine Jesus leaning down out of Heaven and saying Don't associate me with that crowd!

There was a reverend on the radio this morning saying that Christians were now a persecuted minority in England. A minority, maybe, but persecuted? Really?? "This is a Christian country!" they will say, which sort of undermines the argument that they are in a minority, and harks back dangerously to an England that existed before multi-culturalism--was that the true England, people?. "We're a Christian country and yet we can't wear crosses at work! But try telling a Muslim they can't wear blah blah blah."

It seems to me that Christianity has staged a phenomenal comeback in the last few years--and thanks, largely, to the arrival of large numbers of African emigres, O ye English racist Bible thumpers. It also seems that whatever local councils bring in in an attempt, albeit sometimes misguidedly applied, to serve the faiths and traditions of all the communities that now make up English society, the media still gives inordinate amounts of exposure to Christian activists complaining about this or that issue (how hard done by they are, usually.)

It also seems to me that my own life has come more and more into the environs of fundamentalist Christians, who state their views with the fierce conviction of all ideologues: they don't think they're going to be chain-whipped and driven out of town for saying what they say, in fact they seem to expect you to recant on your beliefs and sign up to theirs. With those people, wrathful judgement abounds. Increasingly it feels to me as if the Day of the Bohemian is over and we're heading into a new world that will bear more resemblance to the world of America's Pilgrim Fathers, or whatever they were called, than the loose, hip, tolerant, forgiving, enlightened liberal democracy I would like to live under.


I fell on my arse tonight. I was coming down the stairs in Lloyds Bar and my feet, wet from the torrential rain outside, slipped and sent me sailing. I landed heavily on my backside in front of the evening drinkers at the tables near the stairs, jarring my back and wrists, hurting my thumb too somehow. And when I got up and attempted to navigate the rest of the stairs I fell again. It had been a bad afternoon all around. I'd walked three miles in the wrong direction trying to find the house she lived in and the rain came down with such vengeance the streets were soon running with pools of dirty water. By the time I actually found her street and got her (via text) to answer her door I was so cold I had those shivers that travel right to your bones and won't stop however many layers of clothing you put on to make yourself warm.
Even before I fell on my arse I should have seen the omens and realised what a rotten date it was going to be.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What The Devil Is Christmas Anyway?

Am I the only person in the world who doesn't get Christmas?
What's it for?
Wasn't it supposed to be a Christian festival many moons ago?
If it's not that anymore, what is it?
You say Happy Christmas, but if it is just another day in the calender and no longer represents anything, isn't that the same as saying Happy Tuesday?
If Christmas is just what it appears to be, some kind of celebration, what is it a celebration of? Capitalism?
I'm supposed to show you I care about you by buying you the new Pirates of the Carribean dvd? What does the gift I get you demonstrate other than my buying power? And how do I acquire the buying power I have? by being resolutely good all year? (see previous post--you can call me an old leftie if you want, but it seems to me that the higher your buying power, the more a) morally compromised or b) plain evil, you are likely to be.)
I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be clever here, but I really don't understand what Christmas is about.
Is it now the season before December 25th? all the shopping, the decorations, the adverts on tv, the zillionth replaying of "Merry Christmas Everybody"? Is it all the parties, the drinking, the eating, the puking? Some way of lifting the winter blues?
I think I may have answered my own question.
It's pagan again, only without the spiritual angle the pagans brought to the festival, which--let's face it--was theirs before the Christians stole it.
But I'll be honest, I miss the religious element.
I want to feel something, when the giant trees go up in the town centre. I want a vision.
I expect to talk to an angel sometime over Christmas and feel the radiant warmth of God washing over me. That's what Christmas is supposed to be about.
I can fall down and puke on my own shoes any day of the year. And frequently have.

Wake Up

Okay. We've been through the clever post-socialist age where we allowed ourselves to believe that "there is no society," and collective effort drags everybody down collectively, and in our meritocratic system anyone can rise to the top if they put their shoulder to the wheel and work hard etc. etc. etc. We've allowed ourselves to believe that wealth "trickles down" and if the captains of industry are liberated to forge ahead without any restrictions, everybody down to the lowliest office gopher or floor sweeper will eventually get a goodly share of the pie. We've been through that, and though I resisted it and decried it at every step of the way, it was probably a worthwhile experiment. Probably. But you know what? Enough is enough. There's too much injustice now. Too many bosses firing too many employees without so much as a twitch of their conscience (unless they're the worst sort of boss, the liberal jerk-off who gets a kick out of the power but pretends--even to himself--that he wields the axe with a heavy heart: as in most situations, at least the right winger is unapologetic.) And too many employees who have swallowed the Thatcherite deconstruction of socialist values (perpetuated by "Labour" Tony Blair and his government), so completely it doesn't even occur to them that they have the right to mount a spirited defence. One day they are cleverly putting you down for your faith in outmoded sociopolitical forms--"nobody believes in unions anymore"--and the next day they're standing in front of the managerial firing squad and going so compliantly they don't even hold up the guns by insisting on a last cigarette.
Wake up! You think it'll never happen to you? You think your position is safe? You think that "as long as I do my job properly I'll be all right?" (great cliche of the age.) You really genuinely think that every employer is a just man or woman? that they are intellectually and morally and spiritually equipped to handle the power they have over other people's lives, including yours? Where were they educated to be so wise?
Trickledown economics and whatever offshoot of it we now labour under is a lie. The interests of the company and the interests of the individual are sometimes the same, but equally often they are violently opposed. You are appreciated because of your compliance. Because you are useful to the company. But in the long run you might as well not exist as an individual human being. The company that you consider so benevolent and so just will roll over you like a monster truck and spray your viscera far and wide tomorrow, and if you're not prepared for that you are going to be in a lot of discomfort, boys and girls, when the deal goes down.
Our forefathers would be appalled to see how eager we have become to help create the conditions for our own exploitation and oppression.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I Can't Write A Happy Poem For S***

I've never really solved the problem of how to write good poems about happy things. For example: I had a lovely afternoon with two friends on Saturday--drinking, talking, eating, watching the sun set over Northampton town centre--but could I write about it afterwards? No. I tried three or four poems and they all came out as superficial, smug, lacking in impact. But if I'd gone to meet them and we'd argued, or somebody at the next table had stabbed her boyfriend in the eye with a capuccino spoon, I'd have produced a killer short poem by now.

Why is that? Does it speak of the received wisdom we have in the post-existentialist age about what is and isn't intellectually serious? (Comedies very rarely win movie awards, after all.) Or am I just a poet with a limited range? Any other writers out there struggle to give the good things in their life the same treatment as the bad in their lyric strains?

Sunday, November 19, 2006


A friend wrote to me the other day saying "poets have the gift of seeing beauty everywhere, even in ugliness." Well, that's not how we tend to think of it these days, but terminology aside, it's true. What else is happening--I mean other than the perception of some kind of beauty--when you're sitting by the window in a bar and it's starting to get dark outside, and you cast your eye over all the people packing the tables in the fading light--some beautiful, some ugly, some smiling or staring keenly at a lover across the table, some chattering, some lost in their own thoughts or looking like they wish they were dead--and you see them all, all at once, and there's something about the tableau of everybody seen in that moment in their various lives that you know you're going to have to put down on paper, or on the computer screen, when you get home? What is happening there other than a perception of a kind of beauty?


Anybody see Wayne Rooney's performance for Manchester United in their 2-1 win over Sheffield United yesterday? Explain to me how that doesn't qualify as poetry.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


As we drive through the minor roads looking for the way to Minehead, the radio plays "What's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster?" You turn the volume up, and everybody starts to shout the words. The driver jerks the wheel to make the car zig-zag in the road. You raise you arms and move your body round, dancing in the passenger seat.
To our left the grey sea glitters in the morning light, then disappears behind a sudden bulge of Southern land as we reach a crossroads and the speed we're going forces an unexpected turn.


Walking up a hill everybody else is walking down, heading into a cold-silver winter sunset.

Fat Kid

That boy has to beat his sister when they race home after school. To everybody in his own class he's just the fat kid.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Company Man

If there's anything more spineless and despicable than a company man, I haven't seen as much of life as I'd thought. And I've seen a great deal of life, friends.

I'm packing my rucksack and heading out for the back country.

The Third Reich Is Alive And Well

Believe me, I have seen it in operation today.

I hope I am never so far up my own arse that the sight of a terrified girl doesn't make me want to run home and question everything I have ever believed.

Workplace Narcs

If that's as far as your grand ambition goes, do it for free--for the goose bumps it gives you to be so righteous, for the sanctity of those lofty values you're protecting. Don't do it for money. That's ugly. That's "taking the king's shilling," as the Irish used to say.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Night Rain Sketches

Behind me the booming voice of a student high on beer and the nearness of a beautiful girl. In front of me the road, chrome and paint of cars illuminated in yellow street lights, wipers raking across the wide front windows of the night bus, sweeping off the rain.

It's a poem of sense and movement--stepping off the bus onto the pavement, yellow leaves pasted to the tarmac by the rain, flipping my hood up over my head as I turn into the wind and start walking, heading for my home.

Party Kids

That gang of kids behind me on the bus, just out of a birthday party, full of beer and party food--won't be long before most of them go through their front doors quiet and alone, leaving their joy outside with a sense of stabbing hurt.

Friday, November 10, 2006

One Muhammad For Ten Of You Mothers Any Day

The newspapers today have photographs of my childhood hero Muhammad Ali arriving somewhere or other supporting himself with a zimmer frame. At least one paper attaches the word "sad" to Muhammad in the headline.

NO! You can't describe anybody's waning years as sad when they have lived their lives as gloriously as Muhammad Ali. He did more in a few short years than the rest of us achieve in decades, and he still glows like an immortal.

Muhammad said once that if he'd been a dustman he would have been the greatest dustman in the world. It just happened that he was a boxer. He had achieved his greatness because of will, pride, integrity. And his message to the world--to the black world particularly, but also to the rest of us--was that by finding the aforementioned qualities in yourself, you became master of your own fate.

Which, in the words of another Ali admirer Hunter S. Thompson, is "very high thinking."

But that's not really why I love Muhammad. I love him because he won the World Heavyweight Title three times. Because he beat George Foreman in Zaire when nobody thought he could. Because he lost his title in the first place for refusing to fight in Vietnam, saying "I ain't got no quarrel with the Viet Cong." Because he wouldn't wear a slave name. Because he was better looking than Elvis.

That's why I really love him. An ageing, flesh-hagged Muhammad Ali on a zimmer frame is more impressive by a damn sight than I will ever be, even while I can still stand up by myself.

Watch "When We Were Kings" or read Norman Mailer's sublime account of the Rumble in the Jungle, "The Fight," and you will see what I mean immediately.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Remember, Ladies And Gentlemen

Democrats need to avoid ugly triumphalism after their trouncing of the Republicans in the mid-term elections in the U.S. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, this victory was won because of the dead in Iraq. Is it appropriate to raise the flag of victory over the most tragic battlefield in thirty years of war?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Early reports suggest that right-thinking people have done a good job at the polls. The House of Representatives has now gone to Democratic control. As I write this, we're still waiting for results from the other House.

Well, two Houses would be great, and it would help tie the hands of that malevolent dimwit George Bush (and by extension his masters), but losing the House of Representatives alone weakens his position. It's harder for any political leader to drive through his extremist policies--and make no mistake, Bush IS an extremist--if he has to convince a chamber full of men and women predisposed to oppose him.

Now the Democrats have to do something with the trust that has been placed in them by the American voters. Influence the Republicans to change direction in Iraq (and with Afghanistan, and Iran, and North Korea--and whoever else they are turning their guns on this week.) Stand up against any more of the macho posturing and expansionism that has made the world such a perilous place for everyone (Christian, Muslim or other), to live in since the 9/11 atrocities. And then they have to find a candidate who has a realistic chance of getting into the White House at the next presidential election.

How long have they got? Two years? One and a half? Well, okay. If I'd had three days I could've found a better candidate than John Kerry, and I've never even been to America (though I'm planning on visiting next year.)

But for now let's sit back and celebrate the fact that the American voters have given the world a glimmer of hope. It's the first time since Bush was re-elected that I've felt we might have the chance to avoid Armageddon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Go out and vote today!

Tomorrow it may be illegal!

and next week the world may go up in flames.

You think it's not that serious? Wake up and smell the oil burning.

Pick Up The Tempo

by Willie Nelson
(Atlantic/ Rhino R2 73383)

Ah! There's a world of forgotten brilliance in these 3 cds! They're reissues of albums Willie released in 1973/ '74 just as he was transforming himself into the artist we know today. Cutting loose from Nashville, growing a beard and long hair, creating a style and a sound that would get rednecks and hippies into the same concert halls at a time when American society was polarised enough to make that kind of thinking revolutionary.

So why are these albums so brilliant? Maybe you have to know where country music was, or where Willie was. Maybe you have to know where the world was. Or maybe you just need to have a certain sort of mind. But across the three albums--Phases & Stages, Shotgun Willie and Live at the Texas Opry House--you get an attitude that is simultaneously rock and country, hip and redneck, cosmopolitan and out of the deep woods, with spins on country tradition that extend the scope of the music while showing it deep (and deserved) respect--if rock has much that is better than Bob Wills or Hank Williams or the Carters, after all, then it's been hiding its jewels from me. You also get fabulous musicianship, which has been the hallmark of every Willie Nelson album I know, with virtuouso performances from Bobbie Nelson (of course), legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble, Mickey Raphael, Paul English--FAMILY, in other words, Willie's studio and road band for the last thirty plus years. When Bobbie Nelson plays, it's like listening to a concert pianist after hours fooling around in a late-night bar over a few Southern Comforts. Technical intelligence combined with great wit and soul.

I paid nearly seventeen pounds for the box set on a freezing cold morning in Northampton while I was kicking my heels between shifts at work, with not enough time to go home and feeling dreadfully dragged down by the ugly necessities of life: I had to do something to help me relax and remember that not everything was about being in the places you don't want to be, in the company of people you didn't want to see, fulfilling tasks you had no interest in. After I'd bought the set, just having Willie Nelson in my pocket made me feel that somewhere there might be some freedom to be won. And that might be one of the reasons why so many other people still buy every new release by Willie, 33 years after the first of those collected here came out. We need somebody to show us the way out of the conformist hell we're in, and nobody exemplifies the spirit of creative and intellectual freedom more than he does.

But that, as they say, is by the by. This , regardless of what it means in the broader view, is a magical collection if you like drink and hierba buena and the sound of instruments with holes in...if you understand that America and George W. Bush are two different things. Buy it, or borrow and burn it (sorry Willie), and take a trip back to the moment when a true giant of American music finally found his path, after twenty years of trying. A phantasmagoria of opportunities is bursting out in front of him. You can almost sense Willie's amusement, his relief, that he has found the way at last. His new and boundless confidence gives the music a muscle that even his own would never quite have again.

photo of Willie in the Seventies courtesy of Willie Nelson dot com.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Abandoned By Auntie (Part 2)

Readers are reminded that part two of my phenomenal essay "Abandoned By Auntie" has been published today by the ULA at . Go read. Enlighten your bad selves.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"I Don't Believe It!"

Whoa, who's that who snuck in and wrote yesterday's "Saturday Ruminations"? The 45-year-old alcoholic Kerouac temporarily resurrected? Or Victor Meldrew?

We all have a bit of the Victor Meldrew in us, my boys, and as we get older the portion increases. But all the person I have woken up as this morning (you can never step in the same human twice) would change about yesterday's post is the language--though I'm not going to. The language is too aggressive. It uses too many of the buzz words of the right wing hatemongers.

I do believe that education has let young people down, and I also believe that as more emphasis is placed on vocational training in schools and colleges, the further let down the young people will be: education should be designed to create a rounded man or woman who can be trained to work once he or she is ready.

And I also believe that boundaries need to be set. This doesn't sit comfortably with my well-rooted libertarian streak--and I know A.S. Neil would probably disagree with me--but a child or youth who hasn't been made properly mature by a human (as opposed to vocational) education, and lacks the articulacy and the insight to control his wilder urges, is going to think he can take over the world if he knows nobody is allowed to curtail his excesses.

That's what I believe. And though age can play tricks on your memory, I think that's what I believed 20 years ago as well.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday Ruminations

50% of older people smile at everything. Even walking down the street alone, they're smiling. It's as if they're hearing divine music played on angelic violins (which at their age they may be.) Either that or age has just addled their brains. The other 50% of old people smile at nothing. If they're well fed, they're cross. If the sun is shining, they're cross. If the rain has stopped and there's a beautiful rainbow arcing over the horizon, they scowl. If their granddaughter is giggling in their lap, they look sour and annoyed.
I wonder which type of older person I will be, if a miracle happens and I get that far? Though I think I know. I'm already bitter and twisted, and I'm only 41.

************** ************** **********************

Why do groups of young people standing outside late-opening corner shops look so threatening? Because you know that walking past them you'll have to run a gauntlet of abuse and mockery, at the least. And we read so many stories of kids stabbing you when you stand up to them.
I'd like to be a rebel, really.
I'd love to be a liberal.
But you know when this problem started? When corporal punishment was removed from schools. You still had dumb-ass thuggery then, but knowing your head teacher might beat the living daylights out of you if you got caught doing something you shouldn't did tend to make all but the most habitual miscreants behave themselves. We used to tell stories about how vicious our headmaster was. There was a huge amount of fear in those stories we exchanged, and a lot of admiration too. Kids respect a psycho.

You know what encouraged the development of the ASBO culture?
Fucking sentimental idealistic snobby middle-class liberals telling you you can't hit your own children. "Don't shout at your child, you'll traumatise him. Put him on the naughty step for five minutes instead. Incentivise good behaviour."

Couple that with an intellectually empty and morally and spiritually bankrupt social system in which education is seen as a vocational tool only, and learning to make a MAN (or a woman, obviously) rather than an IT consultant or a Human Resources assistant, or a lathe operator, is a notion scorned even by the people who are running the country, and you've got a generation of brainless, alienated zombies running around with a hollowness in their hearts and a screaming fear at the back of their minds that they are too inarticulate to identify, and no way of controlling their environment other than through the language of dumb-ass jabber and destruction.

Britain in 2006, in other words.

*************** ************* ********************


Anyone over thirty years old using the word "bling" when they mean jewellery.

Fox Hunting Returns Today. Let's Help The Police Police It

Today is the first day of the nex fox hunting season in the U.K.

Remember, that "sport" that the Government banned?

Except they didn't. In a typical Tony Blair tightrope walk designed not to displease his conservative friends while appeasing the rest of us, hunting with hounds was banned. The hunt as a unit could still ride out and the hounds could go with them; they just aren't allowed to hunt the fox with the hounds anymore. At least, that's how I understand it.

However it works exactly, the law is ridiculous, and easily flouted out in the back country--particularly with a police force that has neither the resources, nor (I would guess) the will to monitor what's happening. And I hear the law is being flouted, although on my side of the discussion exaggerations are as much of an occupational risk as they are with the idiot red jackets who warned that hound packs would be destroyed if the law was passed.

But hey, to employ my famed journalistic objectivity for a moment, if you're on the side of diversity and life and not on the side of primitivism and brutality, take a look the next time you're out at the same time as the hunt; and if you see hounds chasing a fox, call the police and let them know. You'd call if someone was stealing a television from your neighbour. You'd call if you saw someone mugging an old lady in the street.

Wouldn't you? And if you would, what's the difference?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Too Much Ordinary (2)

Am I suggesting, in the post "Too Much Ordinary", that mainstream people are smaller, in the sense of philosophical grandeur, than those of us who are either on the fringes of the mainstream or completely underground?

Seems to be that position is unsustainable, on some levels (does anyone else argue with themselves like this?) I don't know that I have anything in my head or in my heart that's BIGGER than those people, even if they do read the Daily Mail, listen to Pussycat Dolls, have nothing to say on anything that Alf Garnett couldn't have said more eloquently 40 years ago. They still love, probably more freely and with more maturity than I do, and love is really the only thing that matters on a high philosophical level, given that human civilisation has been characterised by hatred and destruction and alienation since it all began, and remembering that we all live in the long shadow of the grave.

Maybe what I should have said, or would have said if I hadn't been so tired, was that mainstream people don't have the qualities and interests that I personally find sustaining. So my own identity, though it is no more important or objectively interesting (perhaps) than theirs,is diminished by too much exposure to them because my weakness of character makes me adapt to my surroundings, to some extent, to please people and so as not to feel so damn lonely all the time--the Brother from Another Planet.

That's what I meant.

When I'm back in the company of poets and musicians I feel like being the person I am isn't a crime anymore.


You wonder what the country's got that the town hasn't got?

Ah, I wish I could show you that tractor I saw last night rolling over a field of knotty grass towards a bleeding orange sunset.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too Much Ordinary

I spent some time tonight discussing the question of artistic purity with Tim. Whether the guitar players and writers who make a living that is at least related to their craft are more committed and less corrupted than those of us who don't. Well, I tried to make it living on the dole in my dad's house (rent free), and I failed. I spent most of my time lying in my room watching clouds pass over the rooves across the street, or hanging out in coffee shops in Wellingborough having fantasies about the waitresses.

I would still prefer not to work. Not at what I do now, anyway. But a writer is a writer if he writes. The issue is whether or not you are able to maintain your independent mind, your sense of yourself as a creative person. Which is hard when you have to become some grinning corporate cardboard cut-out, assuming (to get your wage), values you don't have or are actually violently opposed to. But if you can do it, if you can preserve your mind, it doesn't matter how you put the bread on your table.

"A man has the right to be as large as he feels he has it in him to be." Ken Kesey said that, or words to that effect, when he was arrested. A writer must be a large man (or woman), if he is to be a good writer. And the company of too many ordinary (read: mainstream) folk tends to reduce your size. But what about the company of ten guitar players who know about nothing except weed and guitar chords? How come one guitar player out of a hundred achieves something remarkable if the company he keeps is as much of a motivator as it seems to the man dragged down by too much ordinary?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What If?

What if, ultimately, it's just you? What if, when all the rationalisations are done, you're just a no good, self-obsessed, immature, misanthropistic twat, and everything that's fallen apart in your life is your own fault? What if?

No, it couldn't be. Could it?

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Essay Published By The ULA

I have part one of a new essay called ABANDONED BY AUNTIE published on the main website of the Underground Literary Alliance ( ) today. I don't normally brag about my publications here, but for some reason I'm particularly proud of this one. Go over and have a look. And while you're there, check out the links to members own sites. The ULA has a roster of some of the best new writers in America.

God Interview

I once read a magazine that did an interview with God. The first question they asked Him was, "What's Bob Dylan really like?"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Saw This

I saw this note tucked under a car's windscreen wiper just down the road from me this morning as I walked down the hill to the supermarket:


Brilliant. Except the car was completely on its own on the hillside, sharing space only with loads of sheets of newspaper blowing around on the grass and into the empty road.

NB I don't think I'll be asterisking swear words anymore. Either I will use them, or I won't. The idea was to stop kids from happening on words they shouldn't see, but very few children would be foxed by the machiavellian substitution of an asterisk between the 'f' and the 'ck' in 'fuck'. And as I recall, I knew all those words by the time I was 5 or 6 years old. I also knew there were places where it was okay to say them, and other places where you might earn a smack for the same. Children aren't as stupid as they look, you know.

Hang On, You Want Even MORE Power?

The news reports today that the British police have asked for "sweeping new powers" to deal with large scale protests. On their shopping list is a request for covering the face and flag burning to be made illegal. Oh, and the nature of the slogans protestors put on their placards (though how you would police the latter, since it would always be a matter of judgement, I don't know.)

This is what has been happening, subtly (if you're not paying full attention), since those planes went into the twin towers in 2001. Government and other enforcers of authority have been using Terror (or "TAIR" as George Bush pronounces it), as an excuse for furthering a right wing political agenda that existed before the Terror and is an extension of their own misanthropic temperament.

The BBC are presenting this story with images of protests by Muslims earlier in the year about the cartoons of the Prophet, but the laws would have applied, equally, to the demonstrations against the war in Iraq, the anti-globalisation protests, the protests outside animal laboratories, the poll tax demonstrations--I would add the miner's strike of 1985 for those with long memories, but the police beat the living shit out of the strikers then anyway: they didn't need phoney new laws to hide behind.

The police are saying that the public perceive their handling of demonstrations to be "unduly lenient." I don't think you'd find an experienced demonstrator who'd say the same thing.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

God And Yours Truly

I went past a church in Wellingborough today. One of those modern ones with funky names: The First Assembly of the Church of Pentecostal Witnesses of God's Revelation of Heavenly Truth--something like that. Lord how they make you long for an ancient church spire with dusty brickwork and a weathervane turning slowly in the breeze.

But anyway. Passing it I reflected on my attempt to embrace Christianity this summer, and I thought: was that really such a wrong turn for me? can the memory of it all be erased and written off as a prolonged moment of madness attributable to depression and close proximity with a powerful Christian woman?

Well, no, I don't think it can. I was attracted to the idea of God a long time before I met her, and now that she's out of my life I still long to discover (but not yet), that there's a Heaven presided over by an omnipotent but loving Father, and that when I get there I'll see my mother again (and maybe Pascale Ogier.) It's an incredibly seductive thought.

It's just that however much I'd like there to be a God, the religion that's been established in His name just has too many bloody rules for me. I can't help swearing, I like to drink, I insist on having sex before I get married (just once more, God, I beg you) , I don't believe it would matter to a divine being where you put your penis as long as the other person was happy about it too--you get the picture. Trying to become a Christian was like walking inside a suit of armour. I felt protected, but I could barely f***ing move.

But it's not just Christianity, it's religion in general. I could never be a good Buddhist either, though if anything I'm even more attracted to that. Why? Because I don't have the patience to meditate.

I'm just not cut out to be a holy, despite leaning in that direction. I'm a grumpy, undisciplined, mentally unstable, potty-mouthed sonofabitch, and the sooner I accept that the better. Not only for me but for eveybody else as well, so they don't have to be stunned like she was when the mask of holiness slips and the true me comes spitting and snarling out like the Tazmanian Devil in the cartoons.

Where I've Been

It's been an unusually long time since I posted anything here--well, by my standards anyway: most bloggers are away from the keyboard for a few days between posts.

I've actually been doing some interesting things. Had a trip to London on Thursday and that produced an essay I'm still working on called AMONG THE SAVAGES OF HACKNEY.

I've also been working on, and finally producing, a new Beat-related page to take the place of THE BEAT. I was having so many problems posting over there: sometimes I would write a long post and lose it the moment I pressed "publish." Which is a waste of my time and creatively maddening. So THE BEAT has come to Blogger under the new name WHOLLY COMMUNION and features, today, the continuation of my campaign to get Nicosia's MEMORY BABE back into print. Find the site at

In the last few days I've also been having conversations with my friends at the Underground Literary Alliance (see link on the right of the page). I'll tell you more about those soon.

And lastly, to bring you up to date, I've been unfaithful to Blogger and playing around with my MySpace page. What can I tell you? You get addicted. That site is at So that's where I've been. But now I'm back. Do I hear a hooray?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

listening to ragas with mohammed

my pakistani friend says
"in my country, this
music is for old people."

he likes something
with a pop inflection
those western beats,
they must be overlaid.

i say, "george harrison
established, ragas are
for tripping to.
smoke one and listen."

he demurs. that boyish
grin the women
seem to like so much.

he leaning west, me
(i?) leaning somewhat
to the east
yet both of us
archetypal products
of countries we
could never truly leave.

he says, "i feel
like people think
i am a terrorist
when i go into
a pub alone."

his face saddens
for a moment,
then he manufactures
a smile from
the memory of ages

while the raga
builds and builds.

The Northampton Scene

I used to wonder, with a modesty that is typical of me, whether I was the only one doing anything creative in Northamptonshire. Then I picked away at the surface of Northampton life and found out that there were loads of creative people doing loads of interesting things. And as is usually the case, most of the good things being created were coming from the young.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I've been reading Andrew Marvell today. Took him with me when I went to work in the darkness this morning and read him on the bus home. Verbose little buggers, the poets in Marvell's day. Their poems never stop. But unlike somewhat later but equally effusive poets like Keats, Marvell doesn't really have much of philosophical or poetical interest to say. The poems are like elegant newspapers. I can't recall a single idea or image from anything I read today that caught my eye.

But it's a pleasant enough confection, still, and artful in its own pedestrian way.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The History Boys

I saw the Alan Bennett movie "The History Boys" the other day. I was a big fan of his "Madness of King George", but I didn't like this one so much. It was intelligent enough, with wonderful dialogue--at least when the teachers were talking--but sooooo sentimental in its portrayal of the boys. They weren't like that in English schools in 1983. I know, I was at school only two years before. It's a very middle-aged hang-up to look back wistfully at youth as a time for young lions roaring with innocence and beauty. As I remember we were uniniteresting, unintelligent, overly-competitive malevolent little shits. And we would have bottled any teacher who tried to grope us on a motorcycle. But maybe that was particular to my school.

I didn't like all the singing either. I know the film came from a stage play, but the falseness of its original form kept intruding on the reality of the cinematic presentation and reminding you that you weren't looking in on another world, you were just watching something someone had written, something people were acting.

But what do I know? Knocking Alan Bennett in this country is almost equivalent to spray-painting a statue of Churchill.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Old Man And The Doll

So there he is. A private old man being strangled by grief. A naive man, perhaps, having been closed off from the world by his creative gift: he'd stopped mixing with other people to any extent that might be enlightening or instructive for him around the time when men his age are usually just starting to learn life's hard lessons. He is a sitting target.

And here she comes. Not necessarily cold and calculating, but definitely determined, a survivor, whose victories have been earned with her looks and the charm she has a knack for projecting. She has to maintain the image of herself as doll-like because that is what has seen her through. She knows this on some level and it makes her angry, angry at the misrepresentation of her true soul. But she has to force the anger down because anger doesn't belong in the doll.

Does she know what is real and what is the doll? Is the real itself a doll? She subsumes her doubt in the belief in higher causes.

Here is the ultimate opportunity for survival. Here is the ultimate role for the doll: to save the old man being strangled by grief. So she hurls herself at him until he gives in and agrees to fall in love with her.

But she cannot rid him of his sadness. The fantasy of the doll that is so sustaining for her is seen to be failing. All the while she tries to heal him with her princess grace, he is dreaming of another woman lives ago, writing symphonies in her memory. Her rage becomes explosive because his sadness is a refutation of the lie that she is built upon.

The love can't last because by being true to grief and immune to the healing charms of the doll, he has rejected her existence.

And when it breaks up, no longer surrounded by her desperate need to be confirmed by saving him, he returns to who he was. Strangely, some of the grief has gone. She recreates the broken doll by telling everyone that he mistreated her, poor unworldly innocent she was, so acted-on.

The whole affair is talked about for twenty minutes, but it leaves a sour taste with those who believe, and disbelieve. Everybody lines up according to their prejudice, but no one has any stomach for it.

When the next love story comes along it is jumped on with extreme relief.

Shotgun Willie Campaign To Stop The Slaughter Of Horses

American readers might want to go to nelson to see how they can participate in a campaign the godfather of hip is promoting to stop the slaughter of American horses for consumption abroad.
As a vegetarian I find the distinction between slaughter abroad and at home slightly erroneous (much as I love you, Willie), and I don't quite get why it's okay to eat cows but not horses, but while holding onto your own beliefs, you take any steps towards the furtherance of your cause, however faltering, as highly welcome, don't you? Willie, along with Kinky Friedman, Kris Kristofferson, John Corbett, Edward Asner and all the other signatories to the open letter of protest about the slaughter, reproduced at the MySpace site, are to be congratulated for taking a moral stand. At least a little bit of the killing might stop as a result of their efforts.
above picture courtesy of willie nelson dot com.

Your Way

Captain Pike has an illusion and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.

(Line just heard on Star Trek.)

Confessional Blogs

Have you ever found yourself discussing celebrities quoted (as Mel Gibson was) saying offensive or silly things and thought, My God, if everything I said was recorded and held up for public scrutiny I'd look like the biggest racist, sexist, lying, pyschotic hypocrite in the world?

Then don't write a confessional blog, children (perhaps you've reached that wise conclusion without me.)

Someone said a poem is a graph of the mind moving. So's a confessional blog. The problem is that every movement of your mind is recorded, however stupid it might be, however much you might pass through that to a position that contradicts it completely.

Which is the same progression made by everybody's mind. But for most people the twists and turns and little nuances of each transformation are lost. All they are left with is the overarching memory of an event based on whatever mental orientation they have at the moment they consider it.

That's a much more comfortable position to be in, boys, I can tell you.

Of course, even portraying yourself as a complete fool doesn't matter when your relationship with the reader is the usual anonymous one. But when you're standing face to face with somebody and they're quoting your own words back at you--and you are just as aware as they are of how ridiculous the words sound--it's a different matter. The embarrassment, though you may deserve to suffer some embarrassment, is extraordinary. As is the defensive irritation you experience because they are able, with the obscuration of distance, to portray themselves in a much better light.

The writer of confessional blogs throws his clothes into the lake and stands naked in the daylight like a fool.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Paedos Beware! There May Be A Democrat Near You

I read in The Independent today that the Republican Party in America are running an unofficial smear campaign against Democrats with big leads in the run-up to the mid-term elections on November 7th, accusing several of them, bizarrely, of encouraging paedophilia in many and tenuous ways. What?! Yes. Paedophilia. And how are they encouraging it? By going on marches attended by paedos. Or by endorsing civil liberties organisations who have defended the right of NAMBLA (National American Man Boy Love Association), to talk complete bollocks in a democratic society (did you know kindly old owl-like Allen Ginsberg was in NAMBLA by the way?)

This is a hopeful sign for America. It is such an act of impotent desperation on the part of the Republicans to adopt these disreputable, sleazy tactics to defeat their (slightly) more liberal counterparts, it demonstrates beyond any doubt that the cause has been lost: these crazed evangelical dunces have lost the puritanical new white world they were trying to build, and in their grief they have turned in on themselves like murderers. But my God, suppose for a minute that these tactics work, and just enough voters fall for it to return just enough Republicans to keep a degree of power in the conservative camp? What choice to the Democrats have then but to climb down into the slimey pit and start doctoring photos to show George Bush having sex with animals?