Saturday, September 30, 2006

Blood & Wine

I have fallen quiet in the matter of real love because the truth is too important to cheapen it with words. Words betray the speaker and the listener.

I never could learn to drink that blood/ And to call it wine, as Dylan would say.

The Devil Jumped Up And I Said "Which One Are You?"

A few correspondents have suggested that I seem to have lost myself these past few weeks. I was going so well, they say, being so positive--and now I am even classifying myself as a depressive again? Writing such miserable, self-indulgent drivel?

Hmm. Well, I don't see it that way, though I know there's a visible difference. Because the lessons I learned while I tried to pick myself up from the floor this summer hold true. They just might need to be applied in a different way than I thought.

I was so depressed after my relationship finished I went a little crazy. Started to identify too much with the philosophising of a Christian work colleague who seemed to have the capacity, because of her faith, to deal with much worse than a relationship breaking up: she, after all, had seen a parent and her best friend die within six months of each other and was still standing, still smiling, still moving forwards. When I asked her how she managed it she said, "God."

So I tried to get back to God to stop me feeling that everything was f*cked, everything was finished. I prayed, I asked God to forgive my (many) sins, I told myself I forgave everybody who had ever hurt me (like it's that easy), I imagined, as she does, that the terrible feelings I harboured signified the presence of unclean spirits or even the Devil at work inside me trying to prevent me from a true reconciliation with God. I let myself believe that all you have to do is drive them out of your body in the name of Jesus and everything would be better.

I even put away all my Buddhas and considered (though thankfully I never did it) throwing away the journals I have written every day--until the advent of the internet-- since 1986.

It wasn't her making me do this, it was my own desperation to find a solution to my depression. Can you think of any greater proof of self-hatred than trying to destroy every trace of the person that you were--which is effectively what I was doing? The only way you can be happy is by not being you anymore? As revoltingly contented as I may have sounded at times over the summer (and sometimes it was a lie), I was actually committing a kind of slow and cowardly suicide.

But I couldn't do it. I couldn't con myself that this new person was me, or that the philosophy (or theology) that underpinned it--as attractive as it was--made complete sense.

My periodic depressions aren't caused by unclean spirits, or the Devil. There may be a Satan, but he's not going around putting people into bad moods so they diss their friends or take the razor from the cupboard. Satan's too busy convincing people that their problems are over because they have a copy of the Bible. Satan's too busy encouraging people to hate homosexuals (Christians say that don't hate gays, but they hate what they do--which seems a very hypocritical and intellectually and morally spineless distinction to me). Satan's too busy judging the neighbour because he's having an affair, gossiping about work colleagues, backbiting, being certain, exercising power, invading foreign countries. If I have four or five weeks out of every year when I have to take to the sofa and cry all day and half the night it's because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that makes such measures necessary and unavoidable. It's because I have a world of repressed anger and emotional constipation I need to deal with.

Anyway, my Christian phase didn't last very long (thank God). I actually got crazier the more I tried to embrace it: you can't (as Janey pointed out), dismantle a personality that quickly without things getting ugly. And they did. I reached a point, recently, of feeling a despair worse than anything I have ever experienced because I had none of the old supports that provided such a crutch for me in the dark times prior to being "saved". Something had to break.

And it broke. Boy, did it break. I got pissed, I accepted that I was heartbroken because I'd lost the woman I loved (which I'd been trying to deny all summer), I brought my Buddhas back out, and I destroyed my friendship with the Christian woman by telling her the truth, at least as I saw it in my half-crazed, probably distorted mind. Now I am writing poetry again (that had gone), and I feel a sense of true balance in myself spiritually and emotionally for the first time in months. Even if it does sound like I'm ready for the hemlock.

Oh, and my former friend is going around telling lies to everyone who knows me. Which makes me wonder how real the message was that I couldn't take on as my own.

My Hell

Hell for me would not be some fiery chasm where tormented souls fornicated forever while howling like insane monkeys. For me it would be more like a well-polished antiseptically clean house where everything is in its place and fresh flowers burst from strategically positioned vases. And its Dark Lord would be a young man or woman in fresh clothes that boast sporting motifs and smell of fabric conditioner. Someone who spouts homilies that recommend the cheerful life and considers all impulses to drink, take drugs, have strange sex or kill yourself incomprehensible and morally abhorrent. An Eternity of that would be the worst punishment anybody could inflict on me.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I first heard about Charles Bukowski in '82. The movie Tales Of Ordinary Madness had come out. People were talking in awe about how the hero tried to head butt his way into a woman's vagina in the film. That and the scene where the girl puts the pin through her face. Those were the sort of things we used to get excited about in movies back then.

I knew this guy called Bob who was already reading Buk when the movie appeared. He was a year older than me. He didn't attend classes at the college, but he hung around with the students. He was thin, a smack head. He used Bukowski as a rationalisation of his self-destructive instincts. One day he got beaten up in a Kettering pub by a couple of guys he didn't know, and when he came out wiping blood from his face, he was laughing. Buk would have loved that, he said.

If You Weren't There

The only person a depressive can talk to in a way that he needs to talk is with another depressive. That's why my friend C. and I have adopted the motto of the Vietnam Veterans to characterise our mind set.


What's highly debatable is whether talking the way that you need to, when you're a depressive, is what you actually need.

And yet...ordinary conversation seems so superficial to the depressed man, it fills him with nausea for himself and the other participants. Have we all come to this level of charade? he asks himself, even as his mouth is spouting cliche after cliche. Are those flapping jaws actually connected to living human beings?


Ah, loyalty! As if to illustrate in a more direct fashion to me how wrong I had been to write about ---- when we had our problems (though I'd already come to realise that), I found out last night that my former friend ---- (this is a different person, by the way!!), after we had a huge text-fight on Monday night, has been telling everybody at my old job, including my former manager, what a psychotic, evil, destructive bastard I am, while also portraying my intentions in our erstwhile and entirely platonic friendship in a highly inaccurate light. Which would be bad enough, but I still work for the same company, though I've moved to another branch of the business. Hmm. I hope people take what they hear with a block of salt. I feel very self-righteously wounded about it, to tell you all the truth, but since I have done worse in the recent past, and on the internet of all places, and with a lover rather than a friend (which is an even worse violation), I can't really complain.

Perhaps my karmic debt in the matter of violated loyalty is repaid now?

She Didn't Do It

I didn't do it. You can't blame me! How was I to know? He just turned! I don't know where it came from! All I ever did was be nice! Look at this text! Yeah, see?
Hey, have you seen this text? No, I didn't do it! You can't blame me! How was I to know? ...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


A correspondent has given me my first laugh of the morning by pointing out that I shouldn't be placing my full stops after my quotation marks. Ha! I thought you could in some instances, but my correspondent is an English teacher, so I bow to her greater knowledge.

And to think I used to be a genius.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Poetry By Yours Truly

Readers may (or may not) be pleased to know that the author of this blog has begun writing poetry again after a long lay-off. These new efforts have been posted at Blue Fred's Kitchen (see links section), where a site redesign is underway. The layout you will find there if you visit tonight is not necessarily the one we'll settle on, but it will do as a stand-by until I can make up my mind. Anyway, poetry lovers, why are you still here?

King Of The World Returns

He tells me She's been blackening my name all over town. It's the first time I've felt like a man since I met her.

Rorie South

Is anybody out there in contact with Rorie South, author of the blog The Revolution Starts Here ? ( ) Rorie's been a visitor to Suffolk Punch in the past, illuminating the page with great vitality, warmth and humour. But just lately on her own blog things have been rough, and they're getting rougher. The last post, made a few days ago, sounds almost like a suicide note. And since then we've heard nothing. I only know Rorie through the blogs, but I have to admit I'm concerned. Can anybody reassure us that she's okay? Can Rorie herself? Let us know if you're still out there kid. And if you are and this embarrasses the hell out of you, serves you right for worrying us!! (ha ha ha).

Technical Problems With Blogger (Again)

For those who read posts but not comments (or not all of them), Domestic Empire from John Peel Everyday has informed me that people using the pre-beta feed to (or should that be 'from'?) Suffolk Punch may not be getting all of the entries I make here. You'd have thought our hosts would have worked out a few of these problems before they went live with beta. But never mind, I guess I can't grumble too much, given that the whole service is free. However, if you want to be kept properly up to date--and remember, I nearly always make at least one post a day, usually more--it seems you need to use the beta feed at the bottom of the page (scroll all the way down).

In the meantime, please keep trying with comments--I know some of you are having problems posting them. I even have problems posting replies, and it's my site! Sometimes I have to press the publish button four or five times before my reply is accepted. I will make good on my promise to contact Blogger and find out what the issue is. If things can't be resolved I'm going to pack up the tent and move Suffolk Punch elsewhere, maybe even back to the old, simpler version of Blogger. I remember that the way you remember a beloved old friend you thought you'd never want to see again, but miss them now like a corkscrew in the heart (a Dylan image for anyone keen enough to spot it). But rest assured, if I make that drastic decision you will all be told well in advance.


Putting the new Bob Dylan album on the cd tray. After a week of madness, time to find out what the whole thing means.

So many memories, so much happiness, so many colourful people and unforgettable scenes. Torture! then thankfulness! then hope!

Lesson Learned, Johnny

Do you have a word limit that you have to hit every day? or may I finish? --line just heard on a movie on television.

Someone wrote last night saying my entire life seemed to have turned upside down in the last fortnight. From blissed-out holiness to anger and freak-out. Well, I can understand the perception, but nothing has really changed. It couldn't all be roses on the path to a better life. I think the mistake I have made, just lately, is that I have tried to imagine a whole person for me to be who didn't have an angry, resentful, nasty, negative side to his personality. Then that part of the essential man smashed through the door like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining"--"Hhheeeerrrreeeeee'sssss JJJOOOOHHHHHNNNNNNYYYYYY!!!!"--to remind me that he had a part in my future too. Lesson learned, Johnny. The complete man encompasses love and hate.

Monday, September 25, 2006

King Of The World

He tells me There is a feeling of majesty that accompanies the unleashing of a torrent of verbal abuse. Tonight I called her an arrogant, precious, uninteresting, sexually manipulative diva and told her you're cute, honey, but you ain't that cute. My whole body shook for ten minutes after she walked out of the door. I felt like the king of the world.

Four hours later I'm still glad I said it (that bitch had it coming). I could write poems in this mood, I have discovered the eloquence of the bullfighter or the executioner.

Tomorrow he will wake up feeling small and alone.

Some People Never Go Crazy

Some people never go crazy, says Charlie Bukowski. What truly horrible lives they must live.

Me, I go crazy all the time. Ask anyone. This last 7 days I have been raving. Awake all night, almost, and peering myopically through a blinding headache all day. No appetite. Just the desire for beer. This last two days I haven't even been able to work. Felt too sick and dizzy every time I went outside. So I've stayed in with the curtains drawn and watched tv all day. Let my beard grow for the first time in a year. Tried to sleep whenever I could to catch up on what I'd lost. It's been like the 1980s condensed into 48 hours.

What's it all about? I have no idea. I can't be bothered to speculate either. I've needed to die these little, temporary deaths all my life so I could survive the rest of it without choking on the nausea.

The only light in all this crazy darkness has been the positive response of an old friend who I contacted yesterday, wondering if we might be able to patch up a friendship damaged long ago. The jury is out on that, but it felt good to be emailing her. Showed that not all is madness, and destruction, and wreckage--though there was a fair bit of that in our shared past.

I'm hoping that after hiding out like a wounded animal this last couple of days I will be reborn as a human being tomorrow. I will let you know whether that happens.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mature Life

Mature adult life isn't about Polyanna prescriptions for happiness. It isn't about there being a perfect way to live and love and be that is out there if only you can find it. Mature life is about failure and compromise, making the same mistakes over and over again; it's about looking in the mirror in the morning and seeing a lousy human being staring back at you. It's about f**king over the people you care about, and being f**ked over in turn; and realising that you had no choice in the matter, and neither do they. It's about diminishing returns, the death of idealism, the end of your fantasies, nothing ever working out the way you expect it to. It's about just being alive, a living, semi-functioning organism with arms and legs who has nothing to offer expect a smile (or a sneer), and a bed in the spare room when you've nowhere else to go. And until you can accept that there's no more to life than that, then sonny, you will never grow up.


I saw a real poet's movie today. Factotum, which is loosely based around a handful of the books and writings of the bloke on the left. If you haven't seen this movie dig it out. Matt Dillon does a perfect Bukowski in the role of Buk's alter ego Chinaski...Hank, a very harsh judge of Hollywood 's efforts to portray his characters, would have loved this one. The movie, like the book from which it takes its title, follows Chinaski from one manual job to another. He loses each one because of his dislike for rules, and his drinking: when Hank wants a beer, he has to have one--even if it's half way through the day and his work van will make him a sitting target for a supervisor searching the streets for a wayward employee. Why is he like this? Because he's an alcoholic? Yes. Because he's a rebel? Yes. His stern German father pushed him that way. But mostly he follows his own rules because he's a poet. That's how he defines himself, and for Chinaski (as with Buk), there is no compromise. If you're gonna do it, Chinaski quotes from a Buk poem at the end of the film, watching a pole dancer, unaware that his first story has been accepted by Black Sparrow, then you have to go all the way.

Which Buk did, famously so, and it payed off in a way he could not have imagined when he first started out.. Generations since have thought they had to be drunks, write the same tough verse about whores and the bars. It has become dull. But Factotum fantastically evokes when it flamed gloriously, in the mouth of the only man who could have made it work. This is the one that young readers should watch to turn them on to the heroism of greatness.

The Wedding

Outside the town hall yesterday, a black-suited photographer with his camera trained on a large wedding party grouped together on the steps. Right, on the count of three I want you all to say 'Champagne!' Okay? 1--2--3
Again? 1--2--3
He takes pictures that freeze this moment in time.

The bride at the centre of the party really blushes. Only one little girl isn't smiling. Her eyes follow mine as I circle behind the photographer. She's feeling self-conscious about being made to participate in all of this rubbish.

Further on, there's an old cream limo with ribbons tied to the silver lady dancing on the grille. A chauffeur in a black cap waits with his back straight and gloved hands clasped behind his back. This is how to get married in style.

Virus Wipes Emails

A computer virus has just wiped 143 unanswered emails. Well, I assume it was a virus and not poltergeist activity. Anyway, DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If anybody reading this is expecting an email from me, perhaps you would be so kind as to resubmit? And I will promise to try and answer it before the next cyber disaster. Got to get some discipline back into this life of mine...

Straightening The Record

Well, I have said a great deal, and everything could be right, or it could be wrong, or even both at the same time. If you asked her, she'd probably give you a spin on the same events that would bear no resemblance at all to the rubbish I've written. And both could be right, in their own way. That's just how it is with the truth.

I am actually rather sorry about holding our relationship up for public scrutiny like that--though I have never gotten into it in too much detail. It still seems like somewhat of a breach of trust. She was my friend before she was my lover, and though she probably doesn't feel the same now, in my heart she still is my friend. We shared too much laughter, had too much fun together, had too many moments of tenderness, for those platonic feelings to be completely extinguished.

I don't want to pick apart what happened between us, not anymore. It was what it was. And even near the end, it was more precious than I realised. I had her to talk to. Someone from whom I had no secrets. Someone whose intelligence exceeded my own. Someone who would tell me the harsh truths even though I didn't want to hear them.

You are not a bohemian poet, you are you. Stop hiding behind roles and get to the human. Yes. I am out in the open now, for everybody to see. No masks anymore.
You say you hate someone one day, and the next day you don't. All I have is your statements to go on. Can I fail to be confused? You couldn't.
You compromise your principles by kissing up to those you perceive to be strong. That job is turning you into somebody I don't like.I don't want to see that. I did kiss up. I denied it so vocally because I hated myself. I have left that job and started afresh. No kissing up to anyone now.
You are using other women to try and make me jealous. I did, at one time. It was unworthy, and I'm not going to try and rationalise it away anymore.
You whinge and you whine when things aren't going your way. Well, you can't change everything, right?

If time were like a passage of music, Joyce Johnson says, you could keep going back until you got it right. Well, you can't go back, not yet anyway. When the time machine is finally invented I will be the first one in it; I've got more to make right than all the rest of you put together. But for now what is done is done, what has been terminally hurt stays terminally hurt. All I can do with her, since I made the regrettable decision to conduct the end of our relationship in public, is state publically that she was a hell of a woman, forget any cr*p you might have read on these pages. You all know me well enough by now to know that I have mountains of horse puckey to wade through in my own mind before I can get to anything even remotely resembling a balanced and rational view.

She told me right from the start that it was going to be a hard ride because of her home situation. I knew it, but I still went along for the ride. I wanted love, and adventure. And I got both of them, in buckets, as well as a better relationship with my father, whose point of view she articulated passionately (turning my whole self-righteous distorted view of my childhood upside down); and because of her I got away from my mentally-ill relative into a home of my own, the home I still live in--if I hadn't made that escape, who knows where I would have ended up? In a loony bin, probably, though I'm not sure I'm still not headed that way.

When we first got together and we talked about old relationships, she used to ask Will you say horrible things about me if we ever finish? That used to upset me, anger me: it was like she was willing the end of our relationship. We never will finish! I'd say, showing the firm grasp on reality I've always had. But here we are. And whatever negativity might have crept into the relationship towards the end--and I don't care whose fault it was, not anymore, though I must have been a lousy boyfriend--it was pretty f**king great while it lasted, people. Screw pride, I am through with defaming anyone, especially her.

Every time I relax near a woman these days I call her Ruth.If there's a next time, with anyone, it won't be played out on an internet page.

Depression Is The Mark Of A Coward--And Who Knows Better Than Me?

Courting controversy In all sufferers from depression there is strong evidence of anger. What at? Everything. A world that just doesn't love you enough. It's anger in an introverted form. Depression is the coward's rage. Even the word "suffer" has overtones of self-pity.

Post-existentialist twentieth century culture validated depression as intellectually serious. As evidence of insight into the absurdity of human existence. You're born to die. Making the most of it was for people who couldn't see into the depths because of limited intellect. Oh, f*ck off.

I have no right to be angry at anyone. I make my own mistakes. People didn't always do what I wanted them to, but since when was that their duty? Who died and left me prince of the world?

My "depression" won't go away because I cling onto it like a scared child who won't leave his mother. What do I see with my greatly enhanced vision? What insights come to this philosophical genius when he looks into the darkness? Nothing. But people can't tackle me as their equal in life because I have disconnected myself from the process.

Coward. Coward. Arrogant coward. How about taking on a real challenge--to swallow your infantile anger and look the world in the eye? To develop an emotional response to the world that requires resilience and doesn't come as naturally as beard hair in the morning?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy Birthday

He's the only other Bruce you should listen to...

Whipped Dog In The Rain

Some weeks are rough. This one has certainly been. Something seized me by the throat and Monday night and it hasn't let go. Got to the point where all I could do today was get drunk and lay down waiting for the Angel to come (you know which one). I couldn't see God, with whom I've recently become well acquainted, but I could sure as Hell see His counterpart from the Fiery Furnace.

How come? The darkness is never far away from me. I've lived inside it for a long, long time, and for the most part I have loved the darkness more than I could ever explain. It is more sensual than the light by a long chalk (and if you don't see that you will never understand). My desire to be healed is like the unignorable realisation that you must leave the most beautiful lover you've had because your relationship with her is killing you.

He Says

He says Am I ever going to be happy?

She says One day.

He says When'm I gonna get rid of these demons?

She says When you want to.

He says When I want to?

She says When you want to. Nobody can do it but you.

It is clear they have now stopped loving each other.


He walks to the supermarket like a ball tossed at pins, thinking If God wants to save me He will send me a sign. The first person he sees when he walks in through the revolving door? An old partner in crime from his drinking days. He's got a bag full of cider, and he's buying The Guardian. They exchange smiles. Neither is quite sure of the other one's name.

On the way home his knee strikes the shopping bag when he steps onto a grass bank to let a woman with a baby buggy pass on the narrow pavement. The clink of the bottles makes him feel more shame than if he'd been carrying a porn magazine.

Ten minutes later his head has stopped throbbing for the first time in a couple of months.


It disappoints me when I am crazy. I always think I should be in control of my feelings.

I definitely don't want to expose them to anyone else. From the safety of the keyboard it is fine. In person it is too much of a risk. Every woman I show my need to becomes automatically superior, condescending. Perhaps it is the degree of my need, but when I show it I become a leper in her eyes.

It is better to walk through the world in disguise, wearing a mask of capability and emotional resilience. Then you will earn respect from people who believe that what they want is the truth.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tonight And Today

Nights are a problem. My mind won't turn off, even when I've been on the road for hours.

Today I drove past Windsor Castle in a torrential downpour. I couldn't tell whether the Queen was home. Today I ate a foil-wrapped peanut butter sandwich outside a tea room in Runnymede. Today I took a phone call in a pub car park in Egham from a woman I like while it rained and rained and rained.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I can live with the fact that you aren't into me the way I'm into you. But I can't sit and watch you flirt with other men. I might as well give you my balls on a serving dish.

The Return Of The Prodigal

Last night Poet Bruce
Rolled back into town
In a borrowed slouch hat
And hermaphrodite gown.

He ain't said very much,
In fact he won't talk at all.
He's just writing short poems
In chalk on the wall.

O Poet, why d'you look so tired?
O Poet, where've you been?
O Poet, who're you dancing with,
Miss Brown or just Miss Green?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Too Hell-Bent To Be Holy

There's an integrity in remaining, without apology, the person you are even when that person's a snobbish, arrogant, destructive bastard. I've been exhausting myself just lately trying to be a blissed-out holy man brimming with selfless love for his fellow sufferers. Who am I kidding? I'm too selfish to be selfless. I'm too hell-bent to be holy. I can't know bliss, too many of my nerve-endings are dead. If I really want to meet people on a plane of honesty, they've got to know I'm attracted to Heaven but inclined to erratic mortal behaviour that will probably destroy everything in its path. I can't help it; I'm not proud of it; but it's who I am.

I spent most of my time when I was a kid trying to prove to my mother that I saw and understood everything like some sort of Old Soul. It was just my way of defining myself in the crowd because I wasn't tough like one brother or smart like the other.

Two Voices

Sometimes I wonder whether the happier posts on S.P. don't have a touch of smugness about them. Like I have discovered the secret place where the jewels of life hang from abundant trees, or something, and I'm wearing them like a blogging peacock. (And how's that for a jumble of images?)

Well, it's a confidence trick really. I'm trying to talk my way to happiness most of the time. I was having a good day yesterday, but not long after I posted about feeling blessed and emotionally secure I lost my sense of both and became sullen and annoyed waiting for a phone call that finally arrived three hours later than expected. I have a resentful voice permanently whispering in my ear that drunkenness is good, marijuana conducive to clear thought and insight, masturbation healthy, bitterness the philosopher's familiar, destruction the pastime of kings. That voice shouts over the other, happier voice: who are you trying to fool?

I'm going to wait until I get married before I have sex again? Out of choice? I'm more likely to find a polka dot sun shining down in one direct beam of light on a winning lottery ticket when I step outside my door this afternoon.

Why should I try to rid myself of every defining characteristic of the person I used to be, whether that bloke was real or a creation of my own mind? Drunken stoner egomaniac poet Bruce may have been a useless c**t, but he stood by me when everybody else vanished like the morning mist.

More Technical Problems

It seems changing to the new version of Blogger has caused problems for other people as well. S.P. friend and fellow blogger Janey (Further On Up), has written to say she's having problems posting comments on this site since the change. Every time she tries, her comment is rejected. I'm going to contact Blogger and see if anything can be done to fix this. Anybody else having the same problem?

Monday, September 18, 2006

That Bloke

I don't have much of a sense of self-definition anymore. I used to look at myself in the mirror and think, among other things, poet. Now I'm just that bloke. There are facts (and fictions?) that could define me still, but I don't bother with them. That bloke will do. The only thing that matters is who I see and how I act today.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


It seems to me that honesty is the best way to climb out of any existential hole you find yourself in. If you don't tell people how you think and feel, they'll interpret your actions using their own thoughts and feelings as their criteria. And then you'll be misunderstood.

But you've got to be honest with yourself too. You might feel one way, but actually be another way entirely. Most of us ascribe the highest motivation to ourselves and the lowest motivation to everyone else. But am I really an unappreciated saint? No, I'm an insecure, overgrown baby with a tendency to be fantastically arrogant. Might that just have a little something to do with the collapse of all my previous relationships?

Hmm, let me think.

Sunday. What, Again?

Sunday has come around again. Ugh! I don't like Sundays. The last two have been rough. (See previous Sunday posts.) But I ain't falling into that well of self-pitying post-drink loneliness horrors today. Gonna keep my mind straight, and my eyes forward. Try not to throw all the toys out of my pram again. If I have a sudden blood clot and drop dead today I want it to be with a great song on the stereo, loads of light streaming in through my windows, the carpets smelling of Shake 'N' Vac, a sense of satisfaction in my heart.

Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today, as Jimmy Dean is supposed to have said.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

You Get So Alone Sometimes It Makes No Sense At All

Sometimes I get too lonely and I start missing everyone, even the ones I've just seen.

But I don't call them in case they hear the fear in my voice.

These are the times when I used to buy a six-pack and drink till the hurting stopped.


Sometimes understanding seems very far off.

Curse the darkness any way you believe.

Shaving Miss Brucey

I wonder sometimes where I get my ideas about myself.

I've been using razors for sensitive skin since I first started shaving (or thereabouts) because I was convinced the standard razor would cut my skin to ribbons. Bought the wrong kind the other day and when I started using them discovered that the only thing I got from the standard razor was a better shave.

Perhaps I am not a delicate prince who wilts in direct sunlight after all.

(Actually, I was talking to a European man the other day--big, macho guy who strips off his shirt to drink beer and play cards--and he said Why your hands so small and smooth?)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Technical Problem With Blogger

I went to post a comment on Tim Samson's site ( ) this morning and found that I couldn't because I'd switched to the new version of Blogger to get the template I'm now using. Anybody who uses the old version, it seems, can't receive my comments anymore--though the technical people are working to fix the problem.

This is obviously going to mean my morning habit of trawling through Tim's site, Skullbolt, The Frank Serpico Blog, Arem Arvinson, Mimi's Golightly Cafe and John Peel Everyday and leaving comments whenever I having something to contribute is going to have to become less of an interactive one for a while. Which is irritating, because my involvement in those sites amuses and entertains me (whether it entertains anyone else is another matter).

So don't think I'm being unfriendly, guys. As soon as the link is established between the old and new versions of Blogger, I'll be back ruining your sites with my banalities just like before.

I bet you can't wait.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

There's No Shame In The Benjo, Boyo

L. and I talk a great deal about our stools. This causes some puzzlement and discomfort among people who know us--which, to be fair, increases our enjoyment of the discussions.

There's very little as satisfying as your morning poo, fellers. The shudder in the base of your spine that accompanies a good clear-out is a wonderful thing indeed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Living In The Country

I am trying to get a mortgage (at 41! how exotic!). L. has a friend who does mortgages at a Northampton bank and she's going to set up a meeting with her for me. I joked tonight on the phone that I was going to get a house near L.'s so I could make sure nobody messed with her (I am very protective of the people I love). And she said, Ah, but could you stand not living in the country? I couldn't answer that for a while. I have lived in villages since I was 5 or 6, and I'm older than Santa Claus now. I have always considered the country to be my sanity, my refuge. But now I wonder, my refuge from what exactly? I've spent the better part of my life looking down my nose at everybody too, and in a sense, choosing to live away from people, with acres of space around me, embodies that sense of superiority to horrible perfection. I want to spend the rest of my life getting closer to other people, not further away from them.

Another of my supporting fictions falls. Is there nothing that is sacrosanct, nothing that can't be done away with now as flimsy, if not unreal, as I lurch on towards my 42nd year?

Well, I'll Be Darned

R. used to say she wasn't interested in me as a writer but as a human being. I used to think she was being obscurely selfish and uncaring because for me there wasn't a difference between what I produced on the page or computer screen, and the person I was. She maintained that there was a difference.

Well, I'll be darned, she was right. Turns out writer as defining persona was a piece of fakery that fooled no one but yours truly. And interested no one but yours truly.

How Long Have You Been A Vegetarian Bruce?

For years when people asked me questions about my vegetarianism I congratulated myself that they were trying to wrap their brains around something faintly exotic, or at least curious in a slightly repellant way. Today I realised it's just a way people have of making conversation with me until they can figure out whether or not I like football.

I don't look at my ideas as a method of defining myself anymore. They're just part of who I am. That's why I don't gas on here about how clever I am not to eat meat. Who cares? It proves nothing except what I allow onto my dinner plate (and I still wear leather shoes). Plus all of my friends eat meat and to a (wo)man they're all closer to Heaven than I am.

Everybody in the world should just sit down for a cup of tea and a chat as far as I'm concerned. It wouldn't be long before they realised how nice everybody else is, behind all the big talk and posturing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


At least three meals a day every day for 41 years. And I don't think I'm lucky.


I have nothing to say at the moment. I've been too tired to think about anything other than which angle to slant my cushions at for best support to my back when I crash on the sofa after work. And that's almost literally the truth. After work yesterday I slept on and off for 5 hours on the sofa before retiring to bed for another 6 up there.

Is that healthy? I don't know. I work very long hours at times, so the amount of sleep I'm having is probably just my body's way of catching up with its quota. And it's very tiring trying to learn a new job at the same time as working the job with its daily stresses and challenges.

But anyway, that's the picture. Tonight I'm going over to L.'s house after work for dinner. Hopefully some tofu and a bit of face to face chat with my buddy will breathe new life into this slumbering beast.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Images Of Christians

I think people mistrust Christianity because of the archetypal images they have of its followers. Pious puritanical parents disapproving of their freedoms. Slick-haired evangelists on tv condemning everyone to Hell who follows an alternative lifestyle. George Bush. If they are the people you think of when you think of Christianity, small wonder you don't want to be a Christian.

Well, when I think about it, I have different models.
Willie Nelson.
Johnny Cash.
Bob Dylan.
My friend Lynn.

Talented people. Liberal people. People cooler than I will ever be. Perhaps that's why it doesn't scare me to realise I have been turning back to God bit by bit, inch by inch, over the last few months. The Christians in my universe are the sort of people any sensible man would want to be.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 Was Only The Start

The twin towers of the World Trade Centre fell five years ago tomorrow, as if you all didn't know that. I just lit a pillar candle to remember the dead.

The attack on the towers was the most frightening moment in modern political history. I remember receiving a call from a relative telling me a plane had gone into one of the towers. I was at work but on my own, so I went into the tv room to switch on the telly, put BBC 1 on as most English people do in times of crisis; the regular programming had been abandoned and they'd gone over to live streaming from New York.

The one thing I don't recall is seeing the second plane go in. Or had it already hit? I can't remember. I do remember thinking, America is under attack. World War III is here.

Then my manager and a colleague arrived back from a council bungalow they'd been decorating ready for the move of a resident out of the main house, which is where we were presently sitting. They sat down with me and watched the developments for a while. Then they began talking over the news about the jobs still left to do on the bungalow before the woman could make her move.

Life goes on, for the lucky ones. But my sense of foreboding wouldn't permit me to go on with normal conversation, normal activity. I felt there might be more developments. I was waiting to hear that the White House was under fire, or the Statue of Liberty.

And I wasn't wrong in any of my gloomy predictions. But it would take longer than I expected, and the attacks on the two greatest symbols of American democracy wouldn't come from the direction I anticipated.

As for World War III--well, my friends, we may actually be in it. Newspaper commentators this weekend pour cooling water on the alarmist talk of politicians and police about the perils of radical Islam, but the world is an infinitely more dangerous place while Bush and former Prime Minister Blair use the memory of 9/11 as an excuse for establishing a tactical bridgehead in the Middle East. This is a rocket that is locked and loaded and ready to be fired across all of our lives, and only God knows how much destruction it's going to wreak.

Scholars And Frauds

A Muslim friend of mine saw S.P. for the first time the other day and reported back that I read like "a real scholar".

I beamed with the pride of a massaged ego, of course. But this springs to mind:

'Oh mighty thing!' said Vera to Frank, 'Why didn't you just tell them you were a moderate man and leave it at that instead of goosing yourself all over the room?' 'Patience, Vera,' said Frank.
(Bob Dylan, 'Three Kings' 1968)

I'm a desperate fraud who may well believe in nothing but saving his own arse any way he can.

Site Redesign

As eagle-eyed readers will see, I have taken advantage of new features on offer from our kindly hosts at Blogger to redesign S.P. for the new age. The old design always looked a bit unimaginative to me, blogging being a visual art, to some extent, as well as a written one. Wonder how long it'll take me to become dissatisfied with this one? Probably the next time I have a Sunday as soul-destroyingly dull and empty as the one I'm labouring through now.
So what do readers think?

No Really, Today Is A Gift

I saw a wall-hanging inscribed with these words in a cafe this afternoon:

Yesterday is History.
Tomorrow's a Mystery.
Today is a Gift.

Cheesily expressed, I know, but true. It's so hard to remember when you're tired, your neck hurts, and every fibre of your being is crying out for company--but each day is a kind of gift, even if you don't believe in God. Because you could be dead. And one day you will be dying, actively, and you won't be able to walk around in the park in September sun or sit up at the keyboard after midnight trying to write away the long-gone lonesome blues.

Just admit your sadness, son, and don't attach it to any missile that's going to hurt someone else or you some way down the line.

Stand naked in your vulnerability and don't turn it into anger against anybody, not even yourself.

The Poet And What Followed

As a poet I wanted to validate myself by forcing my readers to respect my talent, such as it was. But success as a poet, even in the minimal way that I enjoyed it, wasn't satisfying because the respect I earned didn't change the way I felt inside. I could be called clever or gifted by 20 men, but I still felt like I had been cut adrift from life. I still didn't know how to wake up in a good mood in the mornings.

These days I seek to understand myself, not validate myself. I want to figure out how to wake up in a good mood in the mornings. And periodically I'm achieving it, though I still suffer the overhang of those other, ego-driven days in periods of unwanted isolation, unaccountable sadness, and what Allen Ginsberg calls "lacklove". That will end, one day, if I can stay on the track that I have put myself on these past few months. Sometimes these days Heaven and Earth seem like two parts of one giant eye winking at me in divine amusement.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Writing And The Wise

I'm still not writing poetry. I'm still not reading a great deal either, other than the material on sites listed in my links section here. And I still don't miss it. Strange. A new life, indeed. Most of the time when I'm not working I'm talking to, or texting, L. Her mind's more interesting than the minds of most authors, which are usually--when you get up really close to them--quite dull. I've learned more from her since we met than I've got from a lifetime of ploughing through the works of the Beat Generation.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Unravelling The Mysteries

I am impatient for love. I watch for its arrival exasperated like I'm waiting for a bus in a torrential downpour.

Will it come? I hope so. My self-confidence is low in the romantic department--which is only to be expected after the collapse of my relationship with R. I have only ever made a direct, unapologetic pass at one woman in my life. The rest of the time I've fallen into my relationships almost by accident.

Here's what I know: love doesn't come if you sit at home alone every night, not unless you order it from the Phillipines. Nor does it come to those who are too screwed up to recognise it, or receive it.

So while I wait for the bus I'm working on what Allen Ginsberg called "unravelling my mysteries". Getting rid of my arrogance (mostly gone), tossing out my guilt like a mattress on the pavement (easier than it sounds), trying to understand and forgive those who have done things to me so I can stop clutching anger to my chest like a knuckle duster waiting for a chin to snap. It only ends up connecting with the wrong chin anyway.

And most crucially perhaps, I've got to get rid of my self-loathing, which has lived side by side with my arrogance for the whole 41. Perhaps if I get rid of the guilt some of it will go. Perhaps if I get rid of the anger too, which in some senses is on the same power circuit as the guilt. As is the arrogance, which causes an aloofness that separates you from the people who might reinforce your self-esteem with love and attention.

People began coming back to me when I remembered how important they were (I say remembered because when I was 16/ 17/ 18 I had the wisdom to place my friendships with Helen and Lisa and Salvatore high on my list of priorities--stopped doing so and withdrew into myself for 24 years after drunkenness, romantic disappointment and general exhaustion hit me)(as the saying goes, I never do anything by halves, me). So, what next?

Now I practice not ruining my friendships through possessive insecurity (I keep thinking I'm going to) , and staying out there in the world rather than scrambling back up to my divine eyrie the first time something upsets me.

If I hold my nerve and maintain my balance--if I pray for strength and guidance, and thank God every day for what He has given to me--love will come. And if it doesn't I'll be a heck of a lot happier about the bus stop and the rain.

Good Times And Lonesome Blues

Fits of strangeness continue--emotional weather squally to storm-tossed. But when the sun shines through the rain, the views are wonderful. And good things are coming to me by the day. L. nurtures and guides me despite my peculiarity, and the occasional tantrum I throw her way: without her I never would have been able to understand what is really happening to me, nor see the way out of the labyrinth up to the stars. C., despite his superior sexual magnetism, is the twin I never had. My daughter texts me every other day, and last night out of the blue I heard from someone else, a woman I used to work with but haven't seen since she left the job, a beautiful brilliant girl with a degree who worked under me for a while and with whom I used to have good meaty conversations--I didn't expect to hear from her again, but there she was texting me in the middle of the night telling me about her new job. We are going for a coffee in a couple of weeks. And you would have to know my whole sordid history to know how much it delights me when I get an email or an S.P. comment from a member of the Hodder clan.

From living in a people-less vaccuum I am now in the wonderful situation of having good friendly contact with a growing number of people. Which makes my occasional feeling of bottomless loneliness all the harder to fathom, but there you go. There are other reasons why that feeling may come to bite my arse so often, and they are being dealt with. I got a crucifix hanging from my ceiling that says the soul-gnawing lonesome blues aren't going to beat this boy.

Unhappiness Is Relative

Most of the people I work with know my friend C. He worked at the same place before I did, and it seems everybody liked him. In fact, two of my colleagues, both attractive young women, have told me in the last month that they used to fancy him. I also hear a rumour that he is disproportionately blessed in the manhood department.

What the hell has he got to be depressed about?????!!!!!!!!!

We had barely entered the present decade the last time anybody told me I was attractive. And as gorgeous as that one was, she was also suicidally depressed and addicted to booze and pills. Lord knows how focussed the image was that she saw of me when she gazed into my eyes so admiringly.

The abiding memory I have of her is the day she vomited out of the car window while driving us through heavy traffic in the middle of Northampton. Gorgeous girl, but as deficient in sophistication as C. apparently is superfluous in cock.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


When everything else fails to lift your spirits, buy a pair of expensive socks.

I did yesterday. And when I put them on this morning, it felt like the first time the woman of your dreams puts her hand in yours.

I'm telling you, expensive socks. There's no better cure for the blues.

Who's Gonna Protect My Insecurity Now?

"I'm gonna be a lonely, deaf sex-beggar" ~ line just heard on Everybody Loves Raymond

Hmm. My fate also, if things keep going as swimmingly as they are.

My insecurity used to find refuge in my egotism. Any slightly vulnerable emotion I had could be subsumed into my sense of myself as an unappreciated literary giant. The process, in fact, became so automatic I often didn't recognise anymore that I was experiencing simple human emotions; each feeling I had would click instantaneously into its literary correlative. A bad day at work didn't even register. I'd just get on the computer and berate magazine editors for something or other. Or humanity for its swineishness and philistinism. My manager might upset me and immediately my perception of his/ her cruelty and stupidity would be generalised into a condemnation of the same qualities across the entire human race. When they weren't even necessarily guilty of stupidity; they were often just guilty of embarrassing me or making me feel insecure by pointing out mistakes I had actually made--which was their job, and the same job I do with people below me in the work hierarchy.

The egotism remains in me (I wouldn't be writing this without a pinch or six of ego), but since I've retired (temporarily? I don't know), from literary endeavours and--as I said in the last post--from my career as a genius, my insecurity has nowhere to hide anymore. It just floats freely in the air, and it's a powerful thing. Does everybody else in the world feel like a scared and lonely child surrounded by big people and expecting any moment that somebody will come and push them over in the dirt? Or have I just killed all of the brain cells associated with mature emotional armouring?


Interesting how many more readers SP has acquired since I retired from my career as a genius.

Republication Of Wiped Post

This post, along with its comments, was accidentally deleted earlier during a battle I was having with some glitches in my computer. Luckily I had already made a copy of the post, although the comments have--regrettably--been lost.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sunday Was A Bad One, But Things Are Looking Up

After feeling so bad the other day, I had so much come to me yesterday it shows that all this business of making friends with God again has some meaning and power--if only (for all you rationalists out there) in that it balances me better so I communicate my needs more clearly to the people who care about me. How's the lovely Bruce today? --someone asked at work yesterday (she always calls me that). I'm tired and cranky, I said. It's nobody's fault, I was just in a bad mood yesterday and I haven't got out of it yet. You should have called me, she said.I had a shitty day yesterday as well, we could have been miserable together. Later she asked me to her office and we sat with her deskmate (about whom I once wrote beauty in long boots/ strides into the office/ my focus departs), and talked about it for a while. I told both of them that I'd been bummed because I was on my own and I don't like that anymore. In the old days I never would have admitted something like that for fear of looking like a social reject (which for a long time I have been, or felt I was in my victimhood--actually I had rejected society).This morning I got up and had a wonderful email from a friend full of really powerful good wishes for me to have fun, exercise, adventure, good looks (hmm), lots of hugs (sounds corny, but they can transform your mood in an instant), someone to dance with, and love. Thanks J., you have no idea how much I appreciate it (x).There were the comments by S.P. readers. And then there was L., who despite having a few serious problems of her own, gave me so much attention last night I felt spoiled. Attention, laughter, and spiritual advice. How did you come into my life, honey? I did absolutely nothing to earn it (my past is full of mistakes, cruelty, bad faith, bad blood), and suddenly I find myself with a beautiful and wise friend who loves me and is helping me break a chain of events (as Bob Dylan would say), with links going back 41 years. My personal view is that God sent me a rowboat.Whatever the cause of all this--and even if it's just complete coincidence (or serendipity, as the New Agers used to call it, irritatingly, back in the 80s)--things happen when you approach your life in the right way, with an open heart and proper appreciation of the healing power of the connections you make with other people. I just have to work on ridding myself of the curious feeling of discomfort I have when anybody does anything nice to me (it's as if they've directed it at the wrong person and will take it back with a blush and an Oops when they realise).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Ghost

The ghost in my house was really having fun last night. A whole pile of books in my spare room suddenly fell with a tremendous thud in the middle of the night, waking me from a deep sleep. And when I ignored that--after all, what could I do?--a pair of jeans drying over my door on a clothes hanger, which had been there safely all day, suddenly dropped to the floor. Two can play at that game, I said, and kicked out at a pile of books on a chair at the bottom of my bed, making them ricochet from the wall before scattering across the carpet noisily. It's just faintly possible I have lived alone too long.

Jack Kerouac

From these blues, we'll turn to hymns

There Are Continents And Shores

I have complete confidence that things are happening on levels we can't ordinarily perceive. You might think I'm a nut, but I believe in Heaven and Hell, good and evil, clean and unclean spirits battling for your soul. The human mind and body are a war zone in which universal conflicts are taking place. Where's the proof? Ah, don't bug me with your nineteenth century rationalistic hang-ups.


S.P. is a site for one man to rescue himself by telling his truth as bravely as he can. It's a leaky rowboat launched on the tidal waters. Wanna ride? All you have to do to get on is grab my hand.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


The tranquil lake-surface mind of those guys in the park doing tai chi has no interest for me. I like a mind that glows with quiet love, and gratitude for all the gifts it has been given. Crying for joy seems more appealing to me than smiling in beatific detachment.

John Peel Day

According to those good people over at John Peel Everyday, October 12th has been declared John Peel Day by his former employer the BBC. It's October 12th because that was the date of Peelie's last broadcast for the Beeb. Details about the day can be found at JPE. Readers in the UK and from overseas not familiar with John are urged strongly to check out the site, or to visit the Peel pages at . Especially if you cut your cultural teeth on rock and roll. Peel was the greatest rock and roll dj of them all, and his contribution to the development of UK music, surely this country's greatest export, can't be measured. If there's a band out there today who bear no trace of the Peelie influence, they're probably crap.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Happiness is different from satisfaction, or a sense of completion. Happiness is more about having a sense of internal balance than believing that everything is dandy, and your own personal universe couldn't possibly be any better. It's about knowing that there's more work to do, but feeling up to the job; and in the meantime not cursing God or Fate or your girlfriend or your crappy upbringing (whether you had one or not), for what hasn't been done so far.

This is where it's at with me. I have good friendships for the first time in years; but I lost my true love three months ago, and I certainly could use a little more company as the long nights are drawing in. Which is the way it was, pretty much, when I had my true love--except back then there was a kiss and a cuddle sometimes that made me forget all the loneliness for a while. Now, though, I feel a little sad when I sit here on my own with some lugubrious country blues on the stereo behind me, and I wish that a friend would call or an unexpected email would arrive, but I know that in my sadness, or lonesomeness, as the country singers define the condition more correctly, there's a clarity of vision that will help me create the future I desire. I feel it, I go and clean myself up, I washes the dishes, put clothes in the washing machine, lift some weights, and I know I'm more ready.

Happiness makes me grateful for the things I have got and sturdy in the pursuit of things I want.

Genius Is Rabid And Smells Like A Cat's Corpse

Andrew Barrow's book "Quentin & Philip" portrays Philip O'Connor as the archetypal bohemian hero: a rude, egotistical raving drunk who would suddenly betray his friends, who shouted down anyone who bored him, who went into ecstasies listening to booming classical music, who retreated to an attic room to scribble pages of incomprehensible poetry, who let his teeth rot, who (probably) smelled worse than a dead cat at the back of a wardrobe.

Barrow's attitude to O'Connor's excesses veers wildly between neutrality and loving admiration. In the past, I would have inclined towards admiration, reading about him; after all, he's not a million miles away, in his behaviour, from Gregory Corso, or even Kerouac in his later years. But presently, reading Barrow's account, I keep thinking, What a thoroughly obnoxious, ill-mannered and boring man. I'd much rather spend time with a non-genius, if they had good manners and consideration for other people, if they smiled occasionally.

All these malodorous geniuses can talk about is how brilliant they are anyway. Very few of them ever prove it.