Showing posts from October, 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?

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?"

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 th…

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 incredibl…

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 …

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.


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.

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…

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 f…

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,…

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 tr…

Diwali & Christmas

So, diwali represents the triumph of good over evil.

Lovely! Christmas represents the triumph of shopping over sense.

3 Haiku

to that spider
on my worktop
i'm a mountain

tom waits was right--
the rain sounds like applause
all over wilby in the dark

woken by a growling
bluesman on my stereo--
nap time after golden lunch

I Find Myself Remembering

I find myself remembering a steward I knew back in my union days. She was tall, pale-skinned and broad. All her body movements were slow. When she talked about challenging unfair dismissal, she always said TRIBUNERAL and no one ever corrected her.

The minority who knew just looked at each other when she said it, and smirked. Some of the others ended up saying TRIBUNERAL themselves.

For some reason I find myself remembering that woman tonight. She had a talent for shit-stirring, and when the shit started flying, she would step into the background and watch me take it full in the face.

Society seems to be divided up sometimes between creators and destroyers. Those who nurture and those who tear apart. And everybody thinks they create and nurture. Nobody believes they tear apart and destroy.

The one thing that's different about me is, I never know.

Beatlick News Issue 31

The latest edition of Joe and Pamela's poetry and arts newsletter features a bunch of good new poems from around the United States and Canada, with only one showing from Europe this time--which I mention with all due modesty because it's one of mine (albeit perhaps not as good a poem as I thought it was when I sent it out). There is also a seriously splendid prose piece called "Music For Ya" by Barry Alfonso from Pittsburgh, reviews by Joe, letters and pictures, and some "Words of Wisdom" from Emma Wisdom (that seems to be her real name) about why we write and how to get over the problems we face. I'd take issue with Emma when she says, "Poets should not lose sight that their primary goal is to teach, to bare the soul, and to entertain the audience," since in my book that's three goals (ha ha), and we're not obliged to do any of them--in my book our only goal is to perfect the line. But I'm just being picky. I couldn't expect a…

Iraq And The Renaissance

Interesting to see George Bush finally acknowledging the parallels between the Iraq occupation and Vietnam. That must have stuck in his throat. It's beginning to look as if even the U.S. and British governments--who were the principle architects of the whole Iraq misadventure--have lost the will to keep it going. What I can't understand is how they could start something as potentially disastrous as the invasion without having a proper exit strategy.
If the'd come to me I could've told them in 2002 that this'd be the way it panned out. I was predicting a turgid, drawn-out campaign whose main cost would be paid by innocent Iraqis even then. Me and several million other English people.

It's had some interesting side effects, though, this defining catastrophe of our time. I was talking to some poets and guitar players last night about the cultural renaissance of the last few years, which has happened in Britain and the U.S. (I don't know about anywhere else--perh…

highway stars

nostalgia like a knife
stuck thru' my heart--
but coated thick
with dripping honey:
a snatch of highway
star heard on the telly--.

it brought back
wild drives with you
in the lovely rustbucket
your car was then--
that song playing so
loud it hurt my ears--.

it brought so much back
with such clarity:
the landscape flashing by,
the smell of cigarettes--.
us always heading to
or from a pub--
the thrill of being
with someone beautiful
in casual danger,
all my senses reeling--.

since you, it's
never been the same--.

Jack Kerouac On MySpace

The internet is a strange phenomenon (as Kate Bush might say). Do readers here know how it works over on MySpace? You build up a network of like-minded people by viewing one another's pages and then sending out requests to be added as a "friend", which of course the receiver of the request is free either to approve or deny. (Yes, the language is rather juvenile, but it's really no different from a links section on Blogger.)

Anyway, I checked my emails this morning, as I habitually do (about 20 times a day), and found that I had a friend request from Jack Kerouac. Hmm. A clever screen name, I presumed, but I clicked on the link in the email to investigate and was taken to a site set up as if by the man himself as a showcase for his writing. By whom? Well, no clue, but I would presume the Estate have a hand in it, or his publisher. We are expecting the release of the "unexpurgated" copy of On The Road sometime soon, after all.

How'd they find me? Well, I…

New Poetry At B.F.K.

Two new poets have been added at our sister site Blue Fred's Kitchen (see link on right) in the last 24 hours. Steve DeFrance of Long Beach, California and Geoff William, who currently resides in the Czech Republic but is actually a native of the U.K. Both poets were previously unknown to me, but offer strong new poems. There are more to come from both.

William also wins the award for the beatest submission in Blue Fred history, with one powerful poem typed and tippexed on the back of a Royal Mail form letter about commemorative stamps with a cellotaped extra inch and a half of paper at the bottom (to make room for the last lines of the poem), that seems to have been some kind of Czech spread sheet in a previous life. I don't mention this to embarrass him; it's a really fantastic document for anybody weaned on the Beats, as perfect a symbol of the beat aesthetic as the Kerouac scroll, or Leroi Jones note to Ginsberg written on toilet paper.

Geoff, take a bow, sir. You are an…


Go to Leo Kulinski's site Whales & Wolves ( ) for a great series of photographs from the recent TibetFest that took place in his neck of the American woods. By all accounts it was an illuminating experience. And in the present world climate we need to keep the plight of the Tibetan people, both in their homeland and in exile in India, firmly in the public consciousness. George Bush may be more interested in sitting with the Chinese leaders to discuss what to do about North Korea, but in Tibet they're still dying, my friends. And the Chinese occupiers are so arrogant they're even shooting people in front of tourists now.

But I digress. Have a look at the site and feel the warm echo of the ancient wisdom that China is trying to destroy.


walking underneath a tree
mourning love that's lost--
the wind blows a conker on my head!

Inspired By Outlaws

by Les Merton
Palores Publications
11a Penryn Street
TR15 2SP
ISBN 0-9551878-4-2 £6.99 plus £1.50 p&p U.K./ $12 plus $3.00 p&p US

if you believe you're a poet, then you're saved ~ Gregory Corso

The title of this beat-themed collection of poetry by Les Merton tells you what you need to know. Les wrote it because Bryn Fortey put out the late and lamented magazine "Outlaw", which despite its basic stapled-&-folded A4 presentation, immediately became the best post-beat/ experimental publication on the market, and remained so for the two or three years it survived. Bryn showed everyone the way, and Les honours the way here with 52 poems that might have made the pages of "Outlaw". And some of them, to be fair, probably did.

But it's not just a consciously aimed tribute. You couldn't put over these poems about murder, strikers, the homeless, prostitutes, beat heroes, musicians, and wanderers if you didn't feel it. Les travels back…

Dream #4

Last night I was on a stand-up comedy tour with Richard Pryor (there was a documentary about him on tv before I went to bed). We were on stage together and I was having to work with his unpredictability to make the shows swing. Feed me the motherf*ckin line like last night, he whispered urgently at one point with his hand over the microphone, after he'd been staring at me for a while. The glare of the spotlight had painted a film of sweat across his furrowed forehead. I fed him the line and he said something astoundingly funny. The audience was in uproar!

When we left the last show to go to the car Ruth was there, only fifty pounds heavier than she is in real life. And someone else was sitting in one of the seats in the limo. I knew she was part of the tour, but I didn't know what she did. She looked like the woman who sold her babies to Michael Jackson. I was wondering how I could pleasantly throw her out of the car so we could get going, and then I woke up.


I had a feeling she was going to be there yesterday, even as I was walking down through the fog with my pack on my back enjoying, otherwise, the beauty of the wet morning. I had such a strong feeling she'd be there I stood outside for a while smoking a cigarette and looking out over the field towards the trees and the slow-rolling river, wild horses stepping through the long grass on the far bank, a train pulling into the station that I wanted to be on.

But I shook off the sense of certainty I had that she'd be there, and went in for a cup of coffee.

Sure enough, she was there, in a tight little group with three or four people who knew us both, and knew what had happened (at least from what she'd told them: I hadn't been around, so I hadn't had the chance to justify myself). The others all said hello, but she didn't speak. I didn't either.

I got a coffee, and sat down at a different table. Took out the Edward Abbey book in my pack.

"Have you fallen out wit…

Monty Python

There have been many Monty Python retrospectives on tv just lately. Must be some sort of anniversary. There also appears to be a musical coming to the West End inspired by the show.

Lovely. When I was at school (1976-1981) the show was revered, particularly by the older boys, who went around obsessively quoting their favourite Python sketches, frequently mimicking the voices as well. (He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy.)

Python was hilarious, and it was radical. But now, to me, it just looks twee and outdated. God, I'm A Lumberjack? Again? Really??

Maybe I've just seen it too many times. I'm not interested in convincing people I know what's contemporary, but that looks as old now as Arthur Askey and Tommy Trinder looked to me when Python were current.

Spike Milligan's contemporaneous shows have some outdated comic archetypes and set pieces, but his anarchy remains unsurpassed by new generations of comedians. Of course, no one since has had quite as …

The Army And Iraq

Now the head of the British Army has stated publically that the presence of the Army exacerbates security problems in Iraq, and he recommends withdrawal "sometime soon". And by all accounts he is expressing a view common in the British military.

Well, fantastic! One man associated with the occupation of Iraq who can look at himself in the mirror. How unlike the view of Gordon Brown painted by David Blunkett in the transcriptions of his private tapes recorded as the invasion and the war were getting underway. Blunkett claims that Tony Blair told the Chancellor he would sack him if Brown, who had reservations about the Government's Iraq policy, didn't publically back the invasion. Brown, of course, did as he was alledgedly told.

In modern life you are so rarely able to speak your mind. Or you don't feel able. Most bosses in any institution like to believe their rule is democratic. But there is always the hidden understanding that speaking out is a sign of difficulty …


Readers may or may not be interested to know that the review section is returning to "Suffolk Punch" next week. If you have something you want reviewing--poetry, novel, or album--please email me at (no attachments please), and we'll talk turkey.


Has anyone in the UK seen that advert where the bloke is in a burger bar with his girlfriend and she's talking about going back to college? Her plan, she reminds him, means he will have to support her for the next three years (or something), so she must be sure he agrees with her before she goes through with it. But the bloke is so intent on the burger he's eating, he guesses what the appropriate answer might be when the time comes for him to talk (working from the stereotype he has of his girlfriend's usual conversational topics), offering a nervous but hopeful "Terracotta?"

Sometimes I'm like that with the entire world.

What's Cool

I've been watching this programme in which a guy travels around the UK trying to figure out what's "cool" and why. The guy is in advertising, so his perspective is predictably superficial, focussed on youth tastes and how they are intercepted and marketed. "Fashion has always been central to our notions of what is cool," he says.

I don't know. I'm no authority--I don't have a cool bone in my body--but nothing seems less cool to me than anything you have to spend a lot of money on. I'm not a big fan of anything that relies on consensus either, even if it's the consensus of a snobbish elite, as it tends to be with the hipper end of fashion.

"Cool" to me is about the assertion of your personal sensibility, your individual mind, over the crowd. So Hitler was cool? No! because Hitler ran with the mob, like all racists and bigots and homophobes. All of his thinking, despite the not unimportant fact that it was brutish and ugly, relied …


those big apples
in the long, wet grass
underneath the tree next door

After Sleep

I woke up a while ago after an 8-hour sleep and my first thought was: now what exactly was it that I was a) angry b) upset c) anxious about when I went to bed last night?


Did I hear right on the BBC News earlier that 500 people a day are dying in Iraq? George Bush, of course, doesn't believe the statistics. Nobody should, really. 500 people per day is a ludicrous number. It is a fantastic number (in the sense of something plucked from the more lunatic borders of the imagination). But it's very likely still true.

We have gone into a country held together by fear and liberated it to be ripped apart by murder. What a sterling job the forces of democracy are doing in the world. We've now f*cked it up so comprehensively in Iraq, ironically, that we may have to stay there to prevent a disaster from becoming a catastrophe.

It's terrifying, given what Bush and Blair have done in Iraq, that Bush at least is now rattling his cutlass in the direction of North Korea, as well as the bullish Iran. And his rhetoric, at least, is becoming downright thuggish as he addresses the issue of North Korea's nuclear testing, where prior to the Iraq invasion h…

sleeping in at work

half the night awake
listening to the heating
hum and bubble.

then startled back
to semi-consciousness
at dawn
by rain.

in, in to face
the usual array
of yakking bipeds.

across the trees
the lightning--
one thing
not predictable

as concrete
is to water.


Two more days of pretending that I care about work and then I have a holiday. It's only a 9-dayer, but from this vantage point that looks like a year. I haven't had any time off--other than the regularly scheduled days--since April. I've experienced whole lives since then. Changed jobs. Changed religion twice. Watched a lifelong friendship die. Watched myself go crazy. Grew a beard and shaved it off three times. Lost two stone and put a stone back on.
And in spite of the fascinating and eventful journey I've been on, I'm bored to tears, almost. Perhaps on my break I will arrange to have myself fired from a giant catapult from the top of the London Eye so I can stop feeling as if I've done everything it's possible to do at least ten times.

Last Thoughts On The Christian

There's nothing to be gained from going over what happened with the Christian again and again. Aside from the fact that it's getting boring, it doesn't get me any closer to the truth. Every day just brings a new rationalisation, a new self-justification. I'm not into that. Well, I am, but I don't want to be. I could prove categorically that she was responsible for global warming and the upsurge in knife crime if you gave me long enough, but it wouldn't be true.

There was probably an element of truth in everything she said when she started blackening my name all over town. I do have violent mood swings, and I did become over dependent on her. I could give you reasons for that but a fact is a fact, whatever creates it. Towards the end when I was getting very depressed I must have felt like an iron ball chained around her ankle. I was also attracted to her. She knew it and I knew it. She just read more into it than there was, and then exaggerated it rather dramatic…

Hey Rube

Even my physical appearance changed while I was under the influence of the Christian. I ditched the t-shirts (my usual staple) , started shaving every day, cut my hair short. People told me I looked better. People always tell you that you look better when you start dressing like an accountant on his day off.

I don't know why I went through such a wholesale change. It just seemed that everything I had assumed about the past was a lie, and once I had lost the notion of myself as belonging anywhere other than at my job, the outer trappings of the bohemian life (to quote a poem of mine), no longer had any meaning. I looked at myself in the mirror and just saw a slob.

I had submitted to some kind of hypnosis in my efforts to defeat the depression and loneliness that were squashing me flatter than chewing gum on the pavement. I look back on the period now rather as you'd look back on being happily stoned. And I was happy, until the hallucinations became hellish in nature and I went c…

Nothing Works

So many things
That we never will undo
I know you're sorry
I'm sorry too
~ Bob Dylan "Mississippi"

The above-quoted Mr. Zimmerman, an authority on most things in my book, said looking for happiness was "a yuppie concept"--like, in my interpretation of his words, the belief that you would eventually have the perfect car or a salary befitting your brilliance. According to Bob, we should just carry on with whatever we have to do and accept whatever degree of pain or pleasure comes our way.

This isn't an easy attitude to foster in yourself, but it makes sense. Certainly my own sadness or depression,whatever you want to call it--perhaps we shouldn't give our moods clinical names quite so easily--comes a lot of the time from remembering how things used to be, or imagining how they could be.

The only problem I really have with the way things actually are is that I don't have enough female company. But getting bugged about it isn't going to help, and seeki…

young cat haiku

watching a plaster bird sipping from a fountain-- young cat ready for the kill

Christianity: Why It Won't Catch On

I had a conversation the other day that was particularly interesting in the light of my recent attempts to convince myself I was a Christian (see other posts).

I was talking to this Christian man, the whitest of whited sepulchres he (like almost every Christian I know), and I told him, "I would like to believe in God but I can't."

"It's not a question of believing or not believing in God, He exists outside of your struggles with your own conscience and morality. If you don't accept Him into your life and repent your sins, you will be going to Hell."

"I want to go to Hell," I said. "It will be warmer and there'll be better music playing, and I want to see my friends and family who've gone there before me."

"You think your friends and family are going to Hell?"

"Well, if they don't at least I'll get to hang out with Keith Richards. But wait a moment, I thought you said God was a forgiving God?"

"He is…

Waylon Jennings: Living Legends Are A Dying Breed

If I'd only known I was gonna live this long/ I might have took better care of myself ~ Waylon JenningsWe hear a lot about Johnny Cash these days, and rightly, but when it comes to pure outlawry and black-assed cool in the swampy lands that lie between country and rock even Cash looked like an amateur next to Waylon Jennings. And yet outside of country music circles Waylon seems to have been all but forgotten. When his son Shooter appeared, playing Waylon, in Walk The Line, I was almost jumping up and down in my seat, but the people I was watching the movie with had no idea who he was supposed to be. I tried to explain, but what the hell. Cash has the public imagination now. And no one would begrudge him his reputation less than lifelong friend Waylon.This is who he was. A beautiful singer with a distinctive baritone that swung between a wail and a growl. A great guitar player who'd served his apprenticeship in Buddy Holly's post-Crickets band in the late Fifties, just bef…

My Space

I have been fooling around with a My Space page after hearing so much about how My Space helped Lily Allen promote her debut album. I, after all, have something appearing in the early part of next year (which must remain condidential for now), as well as a welter of old and new poems it would be nice to do something with. My "extended network" at My Space supposedly tops a million people, so that's a lot of reach, potentially.

My interest, to some extent, lies in how the internet can help a writer or poet circumvent the usual system of having to rely on other people publishing him or her to get work out to the audience--if there is an audience for poetry beyond the closed circle of those who write it, which I doubt. The web has, after all, dramatically changed how the music business works. Why shouldn't it have its impact on poetry? And I've got none of the romance many poets have about "keeping your work in the mail," or however Bukowski put it. I'v…


I was speaking to a guy I know today and happened to mention my problem with insomnia. Turns out this guy has it too. It's amazing what you find in common with others when you start being honest about yourself.

My insomnia is sporadic, but when it hits it's severe. Two nights ago I slept for maybe three hours in total. Took me more than an hour to get to sleep in the first place and then I kept waking up every 45 minutes to an hour and laying awake for long periods increasingly frustrated by inability to get back to sleep. At those times each tick of the clock on the wall sounded like a little bomb going off in my brain.

I don't know why I can't sleep. I have too much that I am annoyed by, upset by, doubtful about--that's probably it. There are too many questions, and on some level I'm always working away at them, trying to get an answer. Which sounds incredibly stupid, but you don't do it because you want to. It makes you feel awful the following day: sick (…

Karma Is A Funny Thing

I put all of my spare change into a Coinstar machine in Sainsburys the other day and used the paper money I redeemed to buy the dvd box set of "My Name Is Earl", my favourite tv show. Since then I've been watching an episode a day. If S.P. readers have never seen "My Name Is Earl" they should try it. It's about a guy who decides to make up for all of the wrong he's done in his life by writing a list of all his misdeeds, and rectifying each of them one by one. I'm just trying to be a better person. My name is Earl, he says at the beginning of each episode.That scenario, in other hands, could destroy a show before it even got started: thank God Michael Landon didn't hear about it first. But somehow in the hands of Greg Garcia and Jason Lee (Earl), it becomes the most politically incorrect show ever made--packed with jokes about colour, disability, religion, and whatever else you would have expected to be off limits to writers in our new puritanica…


Taking refuge in cliched masculine archetypes? No! I am who I am. I'm just looking over my shoulder at the distance we have covered and wondering if we took a wrong turn somewhere. Seems to me a man used to be about more than the cost of his trainers.

Sam Peckinpah: How Dare You?

Let's remember these people before we all go to Hell.

For those of you with short memories, the man pictured in the previous post is Sam Peckinpah, an American movie director from the Sixties and Seventies responsible for three films I love--Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, Junior Bonner and Convoy. He was a legend in his own lifetime ( and I can say that about Sam without fear of contradiction), partly because of the degree of violence supposed to be in his films, and partly because of the slow-motion technique he used to depict the violence: at the key moment in any scene, when fist connects with chin or bullet enters belly, everything slows down in a Peckinpah movie, so that the collapse over a table or the tumble through a window can be viewed in exaggerated detail.Audiences loved it.

Those with greater knowledge of the movie business and the machinations of Hollywood celebrated or reviled Sam as someone who stood outside the system--a ferocious, unpredictable drunk who clashed …

Remember Him?

Now stop being such a self-indulgent prat!

Night In

My social life has contracted dramatically since I fell out with my Christian friend. I don't see her anymore, obviously--I wouldn't want to-- but there's a distinctly Arctic chill whistling in from the regions where she and I forged our unlikely friendship too, among those who only days before were promising their loyalty forever. Two people she and I both know have cut me altogether. You'd think that we were all ten years old.

Oddly though, I'm not that concerned. I can't change any of it, so why worry? After descending further and further into craziness this summer--and particularly while I was hanging around with her-- I have bottomed out, come back to myself: I walked up the hill to my house carrying my shopping after work and I thought I won't be seeing anybody tonight. Great, I can sleep and catch up on my reading. A few weeks ago the idea of being on my own for several hours would have been deeply worrying to me.

Which doesn't mean I have recanted…

In The Supermarket After Work I Heard

three shelf stackers in the wine section trying to figure out which country Bulgaria was next to geographically because they couldn't find a place for the Bulgarian wine on the shelves.


6.11. Completely dark outside. And there's a nip on my fingers as I sit writing this rubbish. In one hiccup it will be winter, boys and girls.

Anger Turned Inward

I read a psychiatric report yesterday that featured this Depression can be defined as anger turned inward. This would make sense with me because I have a real problem expressing anger (not lately, though!). I am so egotistical--and simultaneously so insecure--I get angry all the time. But I don't let it out! Instead I feel the need to project this kind, tolerant, understanding priest-like personality--which is one aspect of my character, but nowhere close to the whole man.

Yes, She's Pretty

Yes, she's pretty.
Her skin is pink and clear.
Her eyes shine in friendly greeting.
Her smile would melt a hardened heart.
She has nice, firm, small breasts,
a shapely arse.
She walks with elegance
even in old trainers.
Her voice is softer than a downy bed.
She's really f*cking creepy.


Can we lighten up a little bit?
Can we suspend the Dostoyevsky act a while?
I'm bored of import. What's your highest pinball score?
I know a woman who makes money on the internet by clicking ads and finding offers on sites with names like Greasy Palm.
Didya know the box set of "My Name Is Earl" came out last week?
Please, lose the beard.
Please, don't take yourself so seriously.

Thank You

When you laughed at my misfortunes so good-naturedly today I felt liberated from them. Is that unusual? I hope you'll laugh at them again before too long.

The worst thing anyone can do is take me seriously. Or act like the situations I become entangled in are attributable to anything other than my personal silliness and my immense capacity for believing my own bulls**t.