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Showing posts from December, 2007

LANGUAGE WATCH

Continuing in our efforts to amuse ourselves by exposing horrible misuse of English wherever we find it, we present the following:

"As an ex-footballer, you won't be surprised to learn that I'm interested in helping people stay fit." (Back of a cereal box I read this morning, attributed to Ian Wright.)

"Always wash your hands after addressing personal hygiene issues." (Health & Safety sign at work.)

A couple of people have asked me what's wrong with the first one. But take a closer look at it. The way it is constructed the sentence actually says that you, the reader, are the ex-footballer. Which some of you may be, but I would imagine the majority aren't.

Where's The Damn Poet?

I haven't written a poem for three or four weeks now, but the mood is there for a return any time soon (the whole world will be relieved to hear)(I can imagine the news quelling riots in Pakistan as we speak).

So anybody who knows me as POET and has been waiting for submissions, correspondence, intelligent comment, on matters poetic, please continue to be patient (or indifferent), and maybe Bard Bruce will come back to life shortly.

My annual Christmas depression tends to get in the way of creative thought. I become more like a really miserable plant with browning leaves drooping towards the carpet in timid sunlight.

This coming year I have to make a few changes. People always say that but I really do. Maybe I'll even do a splake and post my resolutions so that any mid-year retreat from them exposes me for the self-deceiving windbag I may well be.

Christmas Cards And Fate

Coming through town I have just seen loads of people buying Christmas cards for next year in the sales. Am I a pessimist? Or is that presuming a little too much?

I have this suspicion that if I allowed myself to believe I was going to be around next year and surrendered to the cheapskate impulse to save some money by buying my cards now, I'd get hit by a truck two minutes after I stepped out of the shop.

Christmas Is Over. Hooray!

I woke up yesterday feeling quite pleased that Christmas was over with for another year. I don't like the season at all. Had you guessed? I spin into terrible depression as it approaches because somehow all the forced jollity makes me feel weird and lonely and alienated. I have my friends, but still, Christmas attacks me in that way. I feel I am failing in some subtle but catastrophic way. That I have a stench of something desperate about me which everyone can pick up.

And once it's gone? Back to normal, immediately. Or what passes for normal. I have had an ear infection for most of the Christmas season, so I'm still doing quite a bit of lying around on my bed feeling sorry for myself; it just isn't attached to Norad tracking Santa and beautiful girls at work in pink Father Christmas hats anymore. Now it's just the stabbing pain in my ear that's making me wish I were somebody else.

I bet you're glad you started reading this blog post, aren't you? Any remn…

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas, Unfortunately

It's nearly Christmas. Wa-hoo. "Four more sleeps to go," as Nicky Campbell said, with I hope a touch of irony on the radio this morning.

We had our Secret Santa thing at work yesterday. Everybody gathered in one room around the Christmas tree exchanging cards and giving presents "from Father Christmas". And most of the people there were really enjoying themselves, or at least they seemed to be. I sat at the back of the room on the floor wishing I were drunk.

I want to be able to feel the "Christmas spirit". To suspend my curmudgeonliness or my reserve or my alienation or whatever the hell it is and join in with the party but I can't. I watch others working themselves up into the traditional festive lather and I just get bugged and depressed.

I thought it might be my age. The Grumpy Old Man thing. The only other person I spoke to yesterday who disliked the Christmas build-up as much as I do is twenty years older than me. But as I recall I always felt …

Stop-Searched On The Street

My post header tells the truth. I was stop-searched by the police at 6.30 this morning just up the road from my house in Earls Barton. Had to give this copper my name and address and telephone number, then submit to a frisk. He felt a bump of something or other in my pocket and made me turn it out. You should have seen his face when I pulled out a cheap mobile phone and a book of Beat poetry.

And all this happened out in the street, with nobody around but me, the copper and a few early morning blackbirds hopping around in the frosty grass. Great way to start your birthday. Seems somebody robbed a warehouse on the industrial estate in the village last night and I fitted the description.

But I don't think I fitted the profile. Would you really go on the rob in a village and then catch a bus home?

When I told my friends about the experience afterwards, they all said, to a man (or woman), "Well, you do look a bit dodgy, Bruce." They're right, I do. And on some level of my …

I'VE THTOPPED

I've thtopped. Haven't been able to write any poetry for days. Haven't wanted to write any poetry either, though I've read a bit (got an old T'ang Dynasty compilation I dip into from time to time). When I get home from the money job I'm reading Tony Benn's diaries and a biography of Vivian Stanshall. Washing clothes. Trying to keep the mould from creeping over everything upstairs. Doing the dishes occasionally. Burning incense. Meditating when I feel like it. Masturbating when I feel like IT. Listening to Willie Nelson, Indian ragas, football on the radio. Dreaming about work when I'd rather be dreaming about Tracey Emin. Having the odd bottle of beer, sleeping afterwards, waking up after ten minutes to piss. I eat chocolate bars at one o'clock in the morning. I text my friends but never call them because at least with a text they have the option of not answering. I am experiencing what you would call your basic emotional downturn and poetry at the …

TELEVISION

I haven't had access to tv since last March, other than for watching dvds. Initially this lack of access was forced on me by the situation I was in, but now I wouldn't have it any other way.

I sat down for a while in front of someone's tv yesterday and within about five minutes I was restless and irritated. There were other people in the room sitting around in the dark watching "The BBC Sports Personality Of The Year". No one was saying anything. No one was even moving. They just sat in their places, inert and pointed towards the glowing box in the corner. It looked like they'd all been gassed by something coming in through the air conditioning.

And what was the purpose of the activity itself, if you can call something an activity when it involves no participation or even movement?

I really don't know. I could feel my mind becoming more and more narcotised and inoperable the longer I sat. Eventually (after five minutes) I had to get up and go for a walk in …

Language

For reasons too complicated to explain here, I believe language is the scaffold around which a civilised society is built.

So what happens to society when language decays?

That's what worries me when I see "Please turn off tap's" and "I just brought an item from Ebay" (local police advertisement displayed all over Northampton), and "Your co-operation would be appreciated by refraining from smoking in the bus station" (Health & Safety sign in Greyfriars Bus Station). I mean, other than the fact that it's just stupid and ugly.

I'm not even sure of my own English anymore. There just aren't enough good examples of the proper use of language around to keep a person in good habits.

No wonder we're heading around the moral u-bend.

I'd better dig out some A.A.Milne or Graham Greene later on. Remind myself how it's done when it's done well.

MILTON KEYNES

I went to Milton Keynes yesterday. First time in a year. And the last time was the first time ever, I think; but then I only saw the rail station.

This time I had the unmitigated joy of seeing the rest of the town. And I can report without any equivocation that the critics are right. It's the most ghastly place I've ever been.

As Jim Morrison once said about some town or other in America, "It's a 1950s idea of twenty years in the future." All soul-destroying glass and metal architecture. No colour. Not even any apparent difference between buildings on different streets. I walked for nearly an hour through the town in the freezing cold and every street I went through looked exactly like every other street. Only the changing names of the large homogenising American-import chain stores gave an indication that we had made progress and hadn't, actually, been walking around in circles.

I needed a trip out of the county yesterday, but I do wish I hadn't gone there.…

Wednesday Was Strange.

Wednesday was strange. Awake half the night with wind howling through the trees and disturbed birds singing. Paranoid and fractious the whole day afterwards. Feeling malice and betrayal from friends. Seeing everything differently from how I'd presumed it to be only the day before. Like the nervous collapse of '04 only concentrated, a million times more immediate and dense. The storm is over now but the sense of everything having changed is still with me. I am a hundred years older than I was before.

POETS

I posted some poems at MySpace the other day, as I tend to, then found myself getting really unreasonably vexed with another poet who gave me a "1" rating (maximum is "2") for the poems, even though everybody else had given me a "2" (when half the time, people don't even bother to rate them). I thought, "Who does that fucker think he is? I go over to his and give him "2" ratings all the time! Does he think he's better than me?" et. etc. etc.

I HAD had a bad day at work and was in a fractious mood anyway, but there's no excuse. AND I knew it. So I wrote a quick post saying I wasn't going to post any poetry today because I was bored of my own mind (something like that), and I went home.

Poets. Fragile egotists who want the whole world to lock their genitals in a permanent act of fellatio.

I am sick of myself half the time. I also find I'm pretty sick of the whole scene. Everybody seeming to think they are so special and …

NAMASTE

Sometimes things happen. Well, things happen all the time, obviously, unless you're in suspended animation. But sometimes good things happen. Interesting things. Like, a shop has just opened underneath my flat in Earls Barton. Now, I was wondering what kind of shop it would be because we were going to have to use the same door to get in and out (how I have fallen from my days in semi-detached suburbia!)So, the day they are bringing in all their stock and setting up, I wait until after they've gone, go downstairs and have a peep at what's in there, and the shop is full of Buddhas, Tibetan prayer flags, incense, colourful clothing, pictures of the Dalai Lama.

I just stood there and laughed. Could anything have been more perfect? They've called it NAMASTE HOUSE and they're really nice people. From over Suffolk way too. "Everything happens for a reason," the woman who runs the place said to me when I spoke to her about it the next day. I wonder what the reaso…

TEDDY BEARS AND GENOCIDE

Has anybody been following this story about the English teacher in Sudan jailed for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohammed?

15 days in jail, she got, for inadvertently insulting the Prophet, from a government that has presided over the death of 200,000 people in Darfur (I think that's how you spell it).

Consensus seems to be that this is an excuse on the part of the Sudanese government (who weren't democratically elected, remember), to promote anti-Western feeling and therefore help drive out aid workers etc. trying to ease the conditions created by the genocide.

I wrote a poem yesterday (posted at MySpace), asking why there seemed to be so little enthusiasm for helping prevent Bush and Brown mount a bombing campaign against Iran.

You can see how in unsophisticated Western minds our efforts to support Muslims across the world might be viewed with suspicion. Not that these medieval Sudanese thugs bear the vaguest resemblance to any of the Muslims I know.