Thursday, November 30, 2006

Martin Hodder On Elvis

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

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

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

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

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

Silly Accident #2

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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

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

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

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

The Elvis Presley for Martian Ears Game

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

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Novel By Wred Fright Excerpted On His Site

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

Stray Shots, Late

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

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

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Never Blog On A Cold Sunday Morning

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Got My Next Month's Pay Slip Yesterday

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

Thursday, November 23, 2006

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What The Devil Is Christmas Anyway?

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

Wake Up

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

Monday, November 20, 2006

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

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

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

Sunday, November 19, 2006


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


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

Thursday, November 16, 2006


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


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

Fat Kid

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Company Man

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

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

The Third Reich Is Alive And Well

Believe me, I have seen it in operation today.

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

Workplace Narcs

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

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Night Rain Sketches

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

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

Party Kids

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

Friday, November 10, 2006

One Muhammad For Ten Of You Mothers Any Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Remember, Ladies And Gentlemen

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

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Go out and vote today!

Tomorrow it may be illegal!

and next week the world may go up in flames.

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

Pick Up The Tempo

by Willie Nelson
(Atlantic/ Rhino R2 73383)

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 06, 2006

Abandoned By Auntie (Part 2)

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

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"I Don't Believe It!"

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday Ruminations

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

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

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

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

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

Britain in 2006, in other words.

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


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

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

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

Remember, that "sport" that the Government banned?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Too Much Ordinary (2)

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

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

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

That's what I meant.

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


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

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

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too Much Ordinary

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

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

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