Showing posts from December, 2008

Happy New Year

I usually hate New Year's Eve. When I've been in a room and people were leaving to go somewhere or other and I knew "Happy New Year" greetings and hugs and kisses were coming, I've always tensed up, hoping the people offering them wouldn't come for me, praying at the same time that they would. I've always found an excuse, at that moment, to get up and leave so I didn't have to deal with the unwanted physical contact, the absence of the much-needed physical contact, my horror at the meaninglessness of the conventions etc etc. Have you never thought that the words would turn to concrete in your mouth if you spouted some socially mandatory cliche like "Happy New Year"?

I have spent every new year I can remember on my own, imagining the fun that other people were having, hearing the fun in pubs along the street from the Lookout, watching the fun on television, reflecting self-laceratingly on all the horrible mistakes I've made in life right f…

South Bank: A Cheap Fishing Expedition For A Publisher

Yesterday was my first day at home in several, after various Christmas adventures at work and elsewhere. I was exhausted after the Festive season, and so cold I might have snapped if somebody had nudged me.

For hours I did nothing except sleep, doze and listen to football on the radio. Then, in the evening, I put a Lee "Scratch" Perry album on, and instead of writing the thought I had down in my journal, I wrote it in a poem. I did a Kerouac and let the size of my notebook (A-6), dictate the length of the lines and ultimately, when I stopped.

It came out beautifully, and very easily. I wrote another, and then another, and before I knew it I had lots of them, all around one theme: my memories of South Bank, the care home where I worked, that mad season when, after a lifetime of being ignored by the fairer sex, I had two lovely women express an interest in me in the same month.

How and why that happened I still don't know. Ultimately, I lost both of them and since then I'…

Scrooged, The 80s, Now

"Scrooged" was one of the tv delights yesterday. You know it, the Bill Murray version of a Christmas Carol from the 80s. I was thinking as I watched it how ridiculous the clothes were then, how unattractive the hair was, how soulless and empty the aspirations of the mainstream were, how stupid the movies were that people flocked to then, and loved.

The passage of time often has that effect on things that seemed, at the time, perfectly sensible. But I thought that about what was going on in the 80s when I was actually in the 80s. It seemed to me as if half the world had lost its mind -- which is why, despite being a child of that generation, more or less (I was 20 in 1984), I dropped out and resurrected the 60s, just for me.

I'm still sort of living it too, though with a rather angry anarchistic twist that is pure punk, and despite the fact that I meet plenty of people on the alternative side of things these days who have their heads screwed on aesthetically, intellectuall…

A Christmas Movie Clip

A Christmas Prayer

Huntingdon Life Sciences have won a case against animal rights activists whom they claim were trying to intimidate and blackmail them using such tactics as sending used needles through the mail and smearing them as paedophiles. Leave aside that the scientists deal in what we, as members of the community of Earth, ought to consider the deliberate murder of our own, we will never win for our cause by becoming moral lepers ourselves. Think what sort of a karmic mess we would be creating for ourselves and the animals we wish to liberate.

May all the turkeys slaughtered,
all the chickens stunned, hung
upside down, their throats cut,
then their heads cut off,
the geese likewise disposed of

to fill our plates this Christmas
please forgive us.

Adrian Mitchell: To Whom It May Concern

I note with sadness the passing of Adrian Mitchell a day or two ago.

Not familiar? He's probably going to be known by posterity as the author of "To Whom It May Concern" (I think that's what it's called)--the "tell me lies about Vietnam" poem--which he famously, and beautifully, read at Wholly Communion in 1965. (Was it '65? I don't have a firm grasp on my facts this morning.)

He did a lot of other work, of course, but most of it was rather average in my humble reckoning, spoiled by his tendency towards a sentimental populism characteristic of all of the lesser poets of his generation. It was a brilliant generation, to be sure--Raworth, Torrance, Harry Fainlight, Hollo, Horowitz, among the many--but the great ones were largely overlooked and those of limited talent or achievement struck it BIG. McGough biggest of all in the Liverpudlian afterglow of some group called the Beatles, but Mitchell too, especially with the liberal-minded arts media, wh…

Eyes On Mars

Blue Fred Press is not given to excessive self-promotion, but our favourite staffer has a poem at a site you should be giving the once-over anyway, so how about taking a peek at J.D. Nelson's "Eyes On Mars" page in the next few hours and enriching your day considerably?

J.D., by the way, has some poetry today at our sister page THE BEATNIK ( ).Coincidence? A case of what Charles Bukowski delightfully called "asshole clasping"? No to the former and possibly to the latter.

BEATNIK has been inactive for a couple of months now because of the personal problems your esteemed editor has had (those self-inflicted, and the ones coming from without). And we've been rudely sitting on a submission from JD for all that time. With his own patient but disciplined approach to dealing with our work, he has finally shamed us into action.

Thanks again for the space you've given our beloved staffer, J.D. It's a b…

The Yes Man

Have you seen the advertisements for the new Jim Carrey film, "The Yes Man"? It's about a guy who decides to say yes to every proposition he is offered for one year, no matter how absurd, to see what effect it has on his life. And judging by the picture on the poster of Jim Carrey flying through the air with a big goofy smile on his face, the overall impact is a good one.

"One word that can change your whole life," the movie tag line says. And undoubtedly it would, if you mixed in the right circles and met with the right propositions. But as much as I have a reputation among those who know me in the flesh for being a bit of a hippie (it's actually a fairly inaccurate characterisation), these joymongers who believe in the essential goodness of the universe, such as becoming a Yes man is presumably supposed to open you up to, bring me out in a bit of a rash.

Passing the hoarding with that rather-too-California/ New Age sentiment blazing out from it this morning…

Broken Britain & The Conformity Cops

In some ways there may have been a decline in society in our lifetime. The SUN newspaper's "Broken Britain" analysis may even have some legitimacy, though I don't like to be in agreement with them even when they're right, and they have completely failed to understand why Britain might be broken, or how to fix it.

Britain started breaking after World War 2 when people started to feel guilty about social stratification and tried to dismantle all of the systems that had supported stratification beforehand. You gasp that I should make such a statement? Hang on.

The efforts to dismantle the social strata that had previously existed were motivated by people in my camp and embarked upon for the very best reasons. Nobody should be born with nothing more ahead of them than a life of poverty and servitude. Nobody should be born into a life of wealth and ease either. If you want something you should earn it, right?

So getting rid of the bottom stratum was a noble endeavour. An…

The Death of Fun

I was delighted this morning to learn that Russell Brand won the British Comedy Award for Best Live Act last night, and dedicated the award to Jonathan Ross. Ross was supposed to have been presenting the show but because of the absurd brouhaha in the British media about the silly calls Brand and Ross made to Andrew Sachs on Russell's now-defunct radio show, he's still not allowed in front of a camera (and when he comes back they'll be expecting him to show appropriate contrition, you can bet, like a drunk driver who accidently mowed down a family of cute blonde-haired infant picnickers).

This story broke before my own little spot of trouble with my employer in re: a careless joke on Facebook, but even before I was suspended I couldn't understand what the fuss was about. We seem so keen in this country to find someone we can all bunch together and vilify (life hasn't been the same in Old Blighty since witches all married I.T. consultants and opened expensive trinket …

Dave Church

The death of poet Dave Church last week was sobering news. Somehow it never seemed that any of us who were doing this would die. But die he did, in his taxi cab, apparently from a heart attack, and so the rest of us must die as well. There isn't always going to be next month, and then the month after that, to get your inspiration back--or your confidence back--and finally push on to write the poem or the book you always seemed to have in you.

Which is obvious, but it's amazing how easy it is to forget the obvious as we careen through our lives hung up on the importance of every little thing we do.

Hearing about Dave makes me realise I've got to stop messing around and get down to some good, hard work before it's too late. How foolish would it be if I dropped dead (not that I'm planning to), with eighty hours of overtime behind me that week and not even the ghost of a poem scratched down in one of my numerous notebooks?

When The Going Gets Weird

Ah, yes, and it has certainly done that just lately. I get suspended from work for putting a joke on my Facebook page, and then I fall over again in town--outside Waterstone's, ironically--am taken to hospital, have a load of tests run including blood and ECG, and they conclude I've probably had a seizure. NOW I have to go to something with the rather ignominious name of a "First Fit Clinic" to have the diagnosis confirmed or denied.

But I'm pretty sure that's what it is. I have worked with epileptics for most of my adult life; I know the signs. And last night I had another one, while I was lying in bed. Woke up on the floor again with a headache, and blisters and flayed skin on my arms. As I have joked to friends a couple of times, I'm just glad I haven't wet myself. So far. The way things have been going I wouldn't take anything for granted (my humour is dark, I know, but in some circumstances it has to be).

People (not experts) have blamed the st…