Showing posts from May, 2008

Where Do You Buy Your Clothes?

And where are they made?

There's a documentary on tv this weekend exposing the sweatshop conditions people allegedly work under to produce the dirt-cheap clothes that I--among many--have been buying for so long from Primark.

There I am, congratulating myself that I'm not playing the capitalist game because I refuse to spend half of my wages to buy a pair of shoes or a new shirt, and Indian workers are being paid starvation wages by unprincipled bosses to buy me the privilege of non-participation. Who am I helping every time I go into Primark, or similar budget-priced clothes shops? The world? or me?

I think the answer is obvious.

The despairists among us will say--and they have done--that if we didn't buy the clothes the poor Indians wouldn't even get starvation wages. So in a sense we're doing them a kindness by creating work for them.

But what would their monstrous bosses do if we took away their business by refusing to buy clothes that a company couldn't demonst…


So here's an interesting development. After posting the latest piece about the Dalai Lama and the predicament of the occupied Tibetan people at MySpace as well as here on Blogger, I find I've been locked out of my own MySpace page. An experience familiar to a few people who've posted politically delicate blog entries there. You share your views--as was once encouraged before capitalism overtook democracy as the guiding principle of Western nations--and the next thing you know your MySpace page is gone. No warning, no explanation; you just can't get onto your own page anymore.

The notice I'm getting at mine says the page is "undergoing routine maintenance". And what sort of maintenance might that be, I wonder?

You could say I'm just paranoid. But I think Charles Bukowski had it right when he said that the paranoid people were the ones with more of the facts (or something like that). Nobody can f*** with the Chinese anymore, because of their emerging st…


BASHO'S ROAD is a new website by Norbert Blei (author of SECOND NOVEL), dedicated to the short poem. Have a look: it's visually attractive and the poetry is fantastic. Plus you get Norb's commentaries on the poems and the short form; and he's a man all of us can learn from.

Incidentally, if you click on the title of this post it will take you directly to the page.



Reliable sources tell me that those allegedly amiable fellows at Kelmarsh Buddhist Centre are planning on protesting against the Dalai Lama at his appearances in the UK.


They may not recognise him as a legitimate spiritual leader. So-called Tibetan Buddhism is a complex and internecine thing with many different schools; the differences between them may not be as great as, say, the difference between a stone and a flower, but the adherents of the various traditions feel their separate identities keenly.

But the Dalai Lama IS accepted by the majority of Tibetans as the true head of State. That is, the head of the oppressed, bullied, beaten, beleaguered, occupied Tibetan State. And by openly challenging the Dalai Lama's legitimacy at a time when, because of the Olympics, the world's media is watching, the good people of Kelmarsh are handing the Chinese occupiers a propaganda coup the Tibetan people can ill afford.

Have a rethink, Kelmarsh, I urge you.…

Tim Peeler

He's one of the best poets in the business and he gives away his poems for free at . Make the most of the opportunity while it's there.

Years from now we'll look back on the time when Tim, Carter Monroe, Norb Blei, Ralph Murre and t.k.splake were operating and realise what a golden age it was for poetry. Trust me.

Brown Meets The Dalai Lama

Gordon Brown has to be applauded for taking the uncharacteristically bold and principled step of meeting the Dalai Lama, who has landed in the UK this morning. But it's a shame he had to dilute the symbolic significance of the meeting by announcing that it would be held at Lambeth Palace rather than Downing Street, and declaring that the meeting would be "spiritual". Yet another example of the Labour Government fearing to cause offence to the Chinese because of business.

Perhaps it is the way of the world. Perhaps Gordon Brown and his advisers are realists and I am not. But it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth nonetheless, when a sovereign government like our own, so free to lecture the nations of the Middle East on democracy and morality, won't sneeze without asking the permission of a bunch of crooks and bullies like the people who hold power in Beijing. If our own wealth is to be bought or sustained at the cost of the lives of innocent Tibetans, I'd actually r…



I am walking along Kingsthorpe Front in the dusk. There's a chill in the air and a light rain is starting to fall. I'm so involved in my own thoughts I barely notice when somebody screams "Lazy bitch!" out of the window of a passing car.

Then I hear my name being called. I look back and this girl is waving at me and blowing kisses from the window of a black car stopped at the traffic lights opposite Waitrose. She's young and cute, with long black hair combed straight down on both sides of her face. I raise my hand and wave but I have no idea at all who she is.

Later I find out it was my friend Sonia.


Does it make a private journal self-conscious and inhibited knowing it will soon be seen by the public? (I dunno, ask Allen Ginsberg.)


What's this prim over-made-up middle-aged woman in a BHS trench coat listening to on her ipod in the seat in front of me?


The children rush home from school to put on cheap sportswear and shuffle around in the rain smoki…


Train rolling into Market Harborough. A mobile phone crowing like a cockerel. Young slick-haired man in business suit answers.

Doubts about self. Fearing I look too raggedy to belong outside of my own town, my streets. "Who is that tramp sitting on our train writing trampy nonsense in a little red notebook?"
The mind is such a persecutor.

When the driver announces a delay due to signalling problems near Kegworth, two-thirds of the passengers in my carriage simultaneously whip out mobile phones and send messages to those who are expecting them in Leicester.

Home of Joe Orton!
Colin Wilson!
Sue Townsend!(?)
(The law of diminishing returns perfectly illustrated.)

I tried to read "Adrian Mole", on Ruth's recommendation--she saw a similarity between Adrian's bohemian pretensions and mine--but I thought it was a dull, unfunny, obvious, middle-brow book.

Fat woman running down the road to catch a bus looks like a blancmange sliding down a table with a short leg.

I go into H…

It Has Started

The Conservatives have announced that after the General Election, if they form the next Government (which is looking like a very small "if" at present), they are going to compel teachers to dress better.

Thank God. The education system is saved.

Sywell Country Park, Hottest Day This Year

Sywell Country Park

Swans and ducks out on the water. A hundred sandal-wearing men and women walk their dogs. This is where **** and I used to take her dogs for their walk, usually in winter when it was cold and muddy. But it surprises me how little I mourn the passing of those times. Perhaps "meeting" ***** again cured me of nostalgia.

Plane chugging slowly overhead through clear robin's-egg-blue sky.

Abandon inner dialogue! Only immediate undiluted interaction with your environment gives happiness.

Crows cawing.
Sparrows tweetling.
Planes chugging.
Ducks calling.
Water lapping.
People talking.
Grass growing.
How again exactly
do you feel alone?

Ant investigating the immense green sward of my summer shorts.

A fish rising up out of the water glimpses another universe, then plops down into the familiar.
To a fish there's no Sywell Country Park, or Earls Barton, or New York, or cars. But they are there! Maybe it's the same with us and the heavens and the hells.

I don't blame *…


The poetry has been a little slow in coming since I finished my chapbook SKID-ROAD BALLADS AND UNION SONGS. (Well, I say "finished", but there's still a little editing to do.)

You always feel a bit deflated when you wind a project up. And I have become really chickenshit about sending work out, too, so I prevaricate about that until even I have lost interest in trying to sell the poem or book in question.

Why have I become chickenshit? I don't know. Rejection is an occupational hazard for the poet. Fearing it is a bit like being a boxer and objecting to being punched. But I do fear it. If I get three or four rejections in a row it can stop me writing for six months.

And yet it bugs me watching all these other poets--some better than me, some nowhere near as good--advancing in their careers (for the want of a better word), getting books and readings when I couldn't even start a fight in a petrol station.

I need to toughen up again. Start pushing this shit of mine into…

David Carradine And Me

Childhood heroes. They help form the people we are and their influence on our lives never goes away, because we walk in their steps.

I saw one of mine yesterday in the little known Eighties movie version of his immortal Seventies tv series "Kung Fu". David Carradine. As the half-Chinese half-American Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine. Just holding the dvd in my hand as I came out of Zavvi in Northampton after buying it yesterday was thrilling.

I don't think I can even begin to explain to you why. But there he was when I was a boy, once a week on tv, a peaceful, considered hero who was yet quite capable of kicking the shit out of his enemies. A long-haired, barefoot, flute playing hero with the deadly mark of a dragon burned into both his wrists.

"I wish I could walk around barefoot everywhere," I said to my mother one night at the end of a particularly inspiring episode of the show.

"Why can't you?" she challenged me.

It was like a brilliant light bei…

No 10 Writes On The Tibet Issue

I had a letter from my pal Gordon Brown this morning. Well, not Gordon directly. It was from a fellow (or a woman) in the Direct Communications Unit at Downing Street who signed his (or her) name "G. Edwards". Steady with the over-familiarity, G.

Some time ago I wrote a letter to Gordon suggesting that he should bring whatever influence he had to bear over his chums in the Chinese Government--turning a blind eye to their infamy while trampling all over Iraq because of Saddam's must have earned him some (ahem) Brownie points--and see if he couldn't persuade those vicious, murdering swine to leave Tibet out of the vainglorious journey of the Olympic Torch (which, it's worth noting, was started by the Nazis and has nothing to do with the original Olympic ideal).

Well, Gordon's obviously too busy doing his reverse Robin Hood act--robbing the poor to feed the rich--to give little old me his full attention. But according to G. Edwards my views "have been careful…

The Mainstream Media


In the immortal words of Hunter S. Thompson, the bats are coming home to roost for Labour. Their poll showing on Thursday was the worst it's been for forty years. That's forty years. So Labour are less popular now than they were during Margaret Thatcher's first term, when Michael Foot was leader. And then, if you remember--no doubt because of his intelligence, his honesty and his integrity--Michael was the most maligned person in Britain.

How the hell, I find myself wondering, did it come to this? A year or so ago Labour were riding high in most of the polls and David Cameron was being mocked as a pudgy Tony Blair impersonator who wouldn't convince even his own mother of his sincerity. But then we had the humiliation of the election that never was and it all seems to have plummeted downhill from there. It's a tragedy. And not least because the Conservative Party, when they take office after the General Election, will take the country right back to where it was befor…