Showing posts from 2009

Reality Check.

The papers today say David Cameron should model himself on the "firm resolve" of Margaret Thatcher to get the economy going again. Just what we need: a sociopathic bourgeois philistine screwing over those who suffered because of the credit crunch to reward the rapacious bastards who caused it.

After The Injection

It's a shame Afghanistan doesn't export to the West stuff you can buy in the shops rather than stuff you can buy on the streets. Then it could invade whoever it wanted, kill whoever it wanted and jail whoever it wanted, like China.

Everybody tells me the West is hogtied in its response to the Tibetan holocaust or the jailing of human rights activists, not to mention the murder of mentally ill foreign nationals, because of China's economic power. We need it too much to hold it to account for the wrongs it is perpetrating. But when you consciously separate business from morality what do you have? The very opium trade that Western armies are trying to destroy in Afghanistan.

A Seasonal Wish

I may not make it back to the keyboard this side of Christmas so if I don't I hope you're all warmed by the love of your family & friends, not to mention a good working boiler, that everybody everywhere gets something filling to eat & that we remember the animals who've died & those who haven't, struggling to stay alive out there in the freezing cold.

It's Useful

in life to understand what your mistakes have been and to some extent, it's important to acknowledge them, especially if your mistakes have ended up hurting or offending others, as mine have. If they had an Olympic event centred around the inflicting of pain on your nearest and dearest, I would have won Gold several times running. But I know that. And I have said it quite a few times. I won't continue to play the penitent. I may have been a selfish, parasitical, spaced-out idiot at times, but I was never Fred West or Charles Manson.

I won't bathe up to the chin in remorse every day either. That's a peculiar form of egocentricity in itself, and the belief that the whole universe revolved around my thoughts and desires was what made me such a twat in the first place.

Christmas Approacheth

I found the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton really sinister this morning...all that insipid piped Xmas music and shoppers wandering around in the slightly dimmed light with absent expressions on their faces, constantly getting in the way of anyone walking at more than half a mile a week. Dawn of the Festive Dead, anyone?

Poem (Obviously)

brushing my long hair,
the brown ribbon
she tied into it last night
fell out, dropped
straight into my hand,
"what's that?!"

our love came in the same way
pretty much,
that famous,
cold st patrick's


I told a man I know that his conversation was always centred around himself.

He took great umbrage at this and said: "I really want you to take that back. I don't think you have any idea what a low opinion of myself I have. I mean, as far as I'm concerned I'm nothing. A nobody. A complete twat. A heap of..."

"You're still talking about yourself, though, aren't you?" I said.

Self-pity is inverted egotism.

The New College Being Built

Crane climbs into
clear November sky.
Workman in blue hardhat
drills a granite mountain.

confusion haiku

I took it out to make a call-- the mobile-phone-shaped flapjack in my pocket

Mr. Jones

Sometimes I feel like Dylan's Mr. Jones:
Quite alone inside the teeming crowd;
Unsure what's happening anywhere
Ten feet beyond my own front door.

Most people tend not to feel like that.
Mr. Jones is usually your enemy,
However many cast you in the role
Unbeknownst to you, because you're not like them.

Of course, this is among the shrinking number
Who are still familiar with Dylan's music.
Most I know prefer a bit of pounding grime.
And like Mr. Jones, I'm baffled to explain the reason.


classical violin

and muesli for my breakfast--

bloody hell! it's bin day


The preceding moments are surreal,
like talking nonsense in an echo chamber.
But once it's happened once,
you have a pretty good idea what's coming.

And then you wake up on the floor.
You don't remember how you got there,
or occasionally, where you are.
That filters back; sometimes it takes ages

of frustrated pawing at your memory.
You have to deal with sympathetic faces
asking if you're okay now,
telling you they're glad you didn't die.

Your muscles ache as you stand up.
You've taken all the skin off your left arm.
You're limping; but that will go away.
You wish the lookers-on would scram as well.

Afterwards, you only want your lover.
You're scared that she will be revolted.
You want silence and the dark to hide in
to look up at the moon and curse

whoever struck you down with seizures.
And then you sleep. Your dreams
are movies of the ordinary.
And in the morning you resume your life.

Every twitch and flutter in your head
feels like another episode.
You're tempted just…

Che Guevara And The Street Gangs

(from the author's private journal)

Apparently that music the youngsters like to play in their shiney cars is called "grime". It's a word lifted from a Rolling Stone interview with Karen Carpenter. (Okay, it isn't.)

I discovered this fascinating fact during a news item on the radio about a movie (I didn't catch the name of it) depicting gang life in the Midlands. The movie has apparently been banned by some cinema chains because it glamorises guns, violence and drug abuse.

Well, congratulations idiots, now you've increased the cachet of the movie tenfold among the people you fear will be most influenced by it. Illegal downloads will be flying everywhere.It was interesting to consider the film, whatever it is called, and the lifestyle it depicts, after watching "Che Part One" last night.

One of the stars of the gang film was on the radio spouting all of the usual drivel we hear from apologists for these thugs: "It's a fact...It's the way…

Another Day, Another Hate Crime. Gotta Love This Country

I was extremely disturbed to hear about the homophobic attack in Liverpool the other night, the one perpetrated by a large gang of teenagers on a gay man which has left him gravely ill in hospital. The list of the poor bastard's injuries is stomach churning.

You do have to wonder what sort of society we have allowed to develop when children (that is what they are at 14, regardless of what they might want you to think), are prepared to kick and beat somebody to the brink of death because his sexuality is different from theirs. (If they are even having sex, beyond the occasional desperate, unsatisfying wank.)

The ultimate responsibility is theirs, of course, since nobody forced them to set upon the victim, but what the hell were their parents doing letting them stay out at that time of the night at that age? And who are they hearing the kind of bilious, hate-filled rubbish from that shapes their malleable minds in such an unfortunate way?

Some of their music, yes. A lot of it is pack…

So One In Five Support The BNP? So Few?

I don't think the so-called "chattering classes"--of which I suppose I'm an honorary, if rather down-at-heel, member--should be too surprised at the poll which said 1 in 5 British voters would consider voting for the BNP, unless the surprise is caused by how minimal the poll suggests their support still is.They do reflect a strong vein of opinion in white British (and to them there is no other) life when it comes to immigration.

A great many white British people think there are too many "foreigners" in the country; and their scorn is not just reserved for those with darker skins than theirs--they curse the supposed preponderence of Polish people walking our streets and renting our mouldy over-priced terraced houses as well. "The Government's just letting anyone in," they'll tell you (I've heard it); though if you ask any of them for statistics relative to other European countries or immigration levels twenty years ago, they won't be…

Nick Griffin On The BBC

Should BNP leader Nick Griffin be allowed to appear on Question Time this week alongside representatives of the political mainstream in Britain?

It leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth to think that this racist, Holocaust-denying thug should be given the legitimacy of an appearance on the BBCs premier political debate show.

But we do not want to play to the sense of martyrdom and victimhood he and his supporters already have. "The only person no one listens to in this country is the poor white man" etc. etc. etc.

Let him talk and with any luck he will be exposed for the crypto-fascist he is. With any luck.

The other, less likely, scenario, which is that he will put on a fine rabble-rousing performance and pick up thousands more supporters to his cause, is too disturbing even to contemplate for long.

Religion And The Devil

I heard a Christian woman advising someone yesterday not to do yoga because it was part of the work of false idols (or something). That's the Devil working through those elegant contortions.

The Christianity I grew up around was so much sweeter and more relaxed than that. You could, as Gary Snyder says, "almost love (it) again."

I think the Devil, if he exists, does a big part of his work inside the anger and judgement of people who want to eliminate diversity and have us all worship the same God in the same way.

Fundamentalism is the same on every side, because it's a distortion of the human temperament which finds a place to settle in religion, or in politics.

So I don't blame God or Allah for some of the lunatics who follow them. Religion itself may be the only functioning tool we have to keep society from sliding into chaos.

But there is a powerful resemblance between people like that Christian woman yesterday and the Muslims she thinks so primitive and vile. No d…

Uh-Oh, Trouble Is Coming To Town

That Dutch fellow is coming Friday, the MP who plans to show his film intercutting footage of 9/11 with quotes from the Koran in the House of Lords. The leader of that well-known bunch of political moderates UKIP invited him. The Government then banned him from coming on the grounds that the public airing of his views would sow seeds of racial and religious discord, but their decision was overturned in court as some sort of unfair restriction on freedom of speech.

He was on the radio this morning making ridiculous generalised statements about Muslims and equating Islam with fascism.The fact that the Bible is pretty extremist in its attitude to diversity and equality too, and there are those who interpret those writings seriously, seems to have slipped his mind conveniently. America had one as president for the last 8 years, and all through the 1980s. Do we imagine that someone is not a racist just because he says he's not a racist? Or a religious extremist because he insists he isn…

The Letter

I found a letter tucked inside a book on my shelf.
One I hadn't seen before.Someone else had put it there when I lived in another house and I'd taken the book with me, not knowing.
The letter was from my landlord. To someone crazy I was caring for.
The crazy person and me were in a lot of trouble. The landlord wanted his house back, and he had brought in solicitors; he was serving notice.
He'd offered us purchase of the property. I didn't know this.
The letter said I'd blown it by walking away from the deal.
"Bruce's attitude makes that impossible," he said. My attitude. Unknowing, ignorant of all.
It was the house where I'd looked after my mother. The house where my mother had died one terrible summer morning.
The landlord said the crazy person's last letter was "unpleasant".
The landlord said we would be financially liable for damages to the house.
The landlord was a good guy. We'd exploited his kindness for a long time, though it didn&#…

I Wish

I could undo all the damage I've done by neglecting, exploiting, abusing my loved ones.

I wish I could glibly say I will make redress by doing the same things no more.

But I didn't realise that I was doing them then; I thought they were being done to me.

I lived in a world of parallel logic where I was a combination of choirboy and prophet.

I fear I still do.

And all the rationalisations I can offer don't make it better.


Pound's silence at the end of his life is the only wisdom.

Where Rebellion Really Lies

My dislike of television is well-known by people who are close to me. But I haven't turned the radio on a great deal either since I started writing again with anything like the seriousness it demands.

Why? It's because the babbling voices on the radio are the voices of consensus in its various forms. They have to be to acquire enough listeners to keep their stations afloat. Who wants to listen to radio that isn't about them?

But consensus is the enemy of creativity. You have to think your own thoughts, live in your own centre, to write well, not adopt the same mind as everybody else.

Think I'm being arrogant? Listen to the cliches of everyday speech they use, which are exactly the same as the cliches you hear at the bus stop.Listen to the assumptions of a shared position in the opinions they offer. Think about the topics they cover on the stations that pretend to some kind of objectivity.

It's all pitched towards a great mass of people who are assumed to be out there, …

TV & The Art Of Conversation

I walked into a room yesterday to find five perfectly intelligent people all watching tv with their mouths hanging just slightly slack and not a word passing between them. They were watching, if that's what they were doing with their heads turned towards the glowing box in the corner, a quiz show.

I waited for a few minutes. Nothing. I'm not sure anybody even blinked (though I could be wrong in that).

"What tv has done to the art of conversation, eh?" I said, tartly, to no one in particular.

"Hhhhnnnmmmm," said the more attentive of the group.

I could feel my brain shrinking to the size of a dried pea.

It's Up To You, Whatever The Sun Says

At the moment, the British media is full of ruminations about the decision of that august publication The Sun to endorse David Cameron and the Tories at the General Election next year. Shows you what I know. I thought they supported them already, and had done for some time.

It doesn't surprise me they're endorsing Cameron, however, any more than it surprised me when they endorsed Blair and Labour in 1997. Blair, then, was offering a refined, apparently (though it was largely spin) socially conscious version of Thatcherism. He'd also spent a bit of time sucking up to Rupert Murdoch, who owns The Sun, and according to ex-employees dictates its agenda.

Murdoch endorses political parties who will help him further his immoral, rapacious business agenda, and Brown's slight, but nonetheless detectable, move left this past year, not to mention his famous Presbyterianmoralism, makes him less of a potential ally to Murdoch than Blair was in 1997. And Cameron is a Tory, plain and s…

Mickey Rourke And Me

The thought occurred last night that chronologically at least Mickey Rourke is almost a contemporary of mine. And when he came to my attention for the first time in 1983, playing the Motorcycle Boy with Brandoesque intensity and intelligence, but with an elegance uniquely Mickey's, I thought I'd seen an actor who'd be a creative touchstone to me for the whole of my life.

Of course, everybody knows what happened to Rourke soon afterwards. The last movie of his I watched was a version of Bukowski's "Barfly" that somehow failed completely to catch the poetry of Bukowski's writing or his vision; and the elegance of the Motorcycle Boy had vanished from Rourke himself. Then there were the newspaper stories, which we needn't revisit here since the parts of it that were true are Rourke's business, and the majority of it was probably invented anyway.

He has returned to prominence now, however, with "The Wrestler". I haven't seen it yet, since I…

Stasis And Change: A Voice From The Past

I love the internet, but in some ways I lead a pre-internet life. I hope I always do. I buy my music in music shops like HMV (if you can still call them that), and I rely on the release information over the counter to tell me when an artist I like has something new coming out. It's that or the music magazines, though I don't buy them often; I'm too old for NME, and the magazines directed at the older fan have a disturbing tendency to write endlessly about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones--which is fine, but you want something more unusual and stimulating if you're paying a £4.95 cover price for your reading matter. And the music I buy tends to be played on what product manufacturers (apparently stuck in the Eighties, which I guess is a couple of decades more up-to-date than me) call without a trace of irony a "boom box". I could fork out more and get a proper whatever-you'd-call-it, with grown-up speakers etc., and a radio inside, but the idea just does…

It Kept On Raining And At Last The Levee Broke

I wrote my first poem in a year last night. I'm holding onto it for a while so I can get a proper distance on it--before I present it here or anywhere else that might be appropriate I mean--but it was a great relief to get one out. My focus at the moment is on my book (still no title), which is a kind of alternative history of the 1980s seen through my eyes, with a special emphasis on music, literature and politics (my three major interests); but I used to write poetry every day. Sometimes they were even worth reading, such as the ones Norbert Blei featured in his book "Other Voices" (sorry Norb, I don't have the publishing details to hand), or the many I got into British magazines like the legendary "Outlaw" .It would be awful to think that for whatever psychological or physical reasons I just couldn't do it anymore.

Well, the poem last night suggests I might still be able to do it, from time to time, with the right stimuli: I'd had a lot of black c…

What If?

What if my supposed intelligence and this book I keep talking about are just the snobbish delusions of a back street weirdo everybody else avoids because he has the stench of failure and loneliness about him? What if this time off work spent labouring over the book is a criminal waste of temporary liberty and I would have been better occupied lying on a beach with a cocktail in my hand? What if all my ideas really are just the useless transparent rationalisations of a pathetic man who was rejected early by society and never made his way back in? Huh? What if?

The Standard View Of The Philistines Again

A couple of enlightened souls have suggested, knowing about the book I'm writing and my continuing preoccupation with the topic generally, that I would look back on the Eighties more happily if I'd had more fun at the time. That maybe I wouldn't have taken such a dim view of everything at the time, even, if I'd had more sex and I'd gone to more parties.

It's an interestingly philistine view, in my opinion. Do ideas always have to be the consolation prize for those without what is called "a life" ? Do we only follow politics or read books if we don't have someone to go out and get drunk with? Do we only care about what's happening to our neighbour if we have no one to fuck?

Actually, if anybody is reading this, I had a lot of fun in the Eighties, although I was pretty messed up emotionally at times; I'm not going to justify myself here by detailing the fun I had, but rest assured, ye masters and mistresses of erectile and cocktail bar oneupma…


Why is a piece of writing considered more legitimately creative and artistic just because it's been chopped up on the page and presented as something called a poem?

Poetry is a quality that some writing finds, to me, not the particular manner in which something has been written.

There is more poetry in the better newspapers than you find in half the magazines.

Alarm! Look What They're Responsible For Now!!!

Somebody on the radio today (yes, I'm always listening to the radio) proposed that England is being driven to the Right by excessive immigration because people from Muslim and predominantly Christian African countries tend to be more conservative than we are instinctively.

I'd never heard that before, and I don't know if it's true. I'm not even sure if the fundamental premise--that the U.K. is a liberal society--could be sustained by argument. Most of the African people I know are more conservative than I am, but so are most of the English people. And the majority of Muslim people I know are reluctant to express their opinions in mixed company because they expect them to be greeted with hostility.

The newspaper representation of Muslims here or abroad is that they oppress their women. And many of the African men I know regard the relative freedom women have in the U.K. as unseemly. One man even suggested that a woman in a short skirt who's out on the town at nigh…

What Kind Of Subhuman Scumbag Would Mug An Old Lady From Behind For Her Purse?

This is the scene I came across stepping out of the Bard Gaff this morning: A weeping, confused old lady lying on the pavement a few doors up from my place with two boxes of chocolate next to her which she'd obviously dropped when she fell.

"Did you see him?" she asked me. "Did you see him? He took me from behind and ran off down the road!"

I looked down the hill but her attacker had obviously gone. There was nothing to be seen except two rows of parked cars and some bin bags.

"No, I didn't see anything," I said. "Are you all right?"

"He took my purse!" she said. "He took my purse! Good job there's nothing in it but some cards"--this without humour--"I'd better call the police."

I offered to call them for her but she declined. She was outside her own door when this prize example of humanity seized her, and she said her husband was inside. The thought occurred to me that he might not be, but who could blam…

Football Just Isn't My Game

I had a moment of disturbing self-realisation last night. One of those face-in-the-shaving mirror revelations about oneself (though I wasn't shaving), which could have startling implications for my social standing and questions of my manhood.

I don't give a toss about football.

I always said I did, simply because it was de-rigeur, the expected thing, social shorthand, a way of confirming to myself and others that I was normal when every urge or interest I've ever had has led me away from convention and into the netherworlds of imagination, creativity, sexual compulsion, book-learning and politics.

It kept the bullies at school away from me for a while when I joined in with conversations about Match of the Day. They could pick on the real freaks for a while then, the ones with too much integrity to pretend they cared about such a pointless and uninteresting game.

And it comforted me, despite it being a form of self-deception, to believe I shared a passion with the cruel simians…

No Wonder Nobody Reads Books Anymore

My friend made a telling observation in a bookshop the other day. I was looking at the Allen Ginsberg--William Burroughs' collaboration The Yage Letters and thinking I might buy it. Then I flipped the book over to the back and noted the £13.99 price.

My friend, who most definitely isn't a cheapskate like yours truly (I probably wouldn't pay £13.99 for my own funeral), was visibly shocked: "My God," she said, "no wonder nobody reads books anymore."

If The Yage Letters had been a large volume, like War And Peace or Ulysses ,perhaps an elevated cover price would have been justified. If it had been a limited edition hardback version of the same book with photographs and notes not availiable anywhere else, I might have considered it.

But this was a paperback, and slight enough to be read by an enthusiastic reader in two toilet sittings. And I am an enthusiastic reader. Just ask anyone who's ever been to the Bard Gaff.

Like my friend says, no wonder nobody re…

Punk Rock: My God, You Really Think So?

It's interesting, the way everybody else seems to regard the arrival of punk rock in '76 or '77 as a tumultuous sweeping-away of the conservatism that pervaded in those long-gone days. I've always thought of punk as being deeply conservative, albeit in a very adolescently posey way, with its violent (and self-glorifyingly stupid) eschewing of book-larrning, its disinterest (I know, I know, the Clash) in politics, its celebration of primitive musicianship. Unless you were lucky enough to fall over Joe Strummer in those days, punk was quite likely to push you pogoing straight onto the dole queue and forever after into a life of shit jobs, football hooliganism and National Front (and subsequently BNP) membership. O England! O St George! O Winston! Farkin foreigners...

The punks I knew were conformist cowards who kicked the shit out of anybody who was weak or different because it made their dumb friends laugh, although the black kids were usually harder than them when it ca…

Down & Out In The 80s

I have reached, roughly, 1985 in my book about life in the 80s. I say roughly because I found, when I started thinking about it, that I can't remember exactly when anything happened. Even the major cultural events that sort of interweave with my own life have become chronologically confused in my mind. And I'm not sure some of the things I remember happening to me actually did. I'm pretty sure, at least, that they didn't happen in the way I remember them.

So the book, which is ostensibly a mini-memoir, will actually be a work of fiction, pretty much. I wonder if it's always the same and our sense of history, both personal and collective, is false.

Now people and cities and countries disappear like pricked bubbles in the air.

A Dead Man Remembering The Dead

It's strange. My mother has been dead for 13 years now but sometimes I miss her as if she only shuffled off the mortal coil yesterday, and the communication between us was familiar and habitual, instead of a long-gone distant memory. I need her advice on things. I don't feel ready to deal with all the crap in my head alone and I'm terrified that if I dump it on those who are closest to me they'll run in the opposite direction with wings on their feet like Billy Whizz in "The Beano". Or was it that Greek God, old What's-His-Name?

Because I've been ill this past couple of years I've become preoccupied with death and loss. I feel like somebody who might already have passed away and is walking around in a ghost body wondering why everything feels different. After all, nothing in life is as I remember it; nothing is as it used to be when I felt like I belonged to life and life belonged to me. Every place I used to work has been shut down, boarded up, fe…

Where Money Infiltrates Spirit Gets ****** In The Jacksey

The British newspapers have discovered evidence directly linking the release of the Lockerbie bomber to Oil deals, denied so self-righteously by everybody involved in the deal to let the guy out (I can't be bothered to go and look up his name, and to be frank, why should he get a name when his whole philosophy hinges around the devaluation and debasement of human life?). Jack Straw himself makes the link between considerations about the murdering swine's release and the need to keep the Libyan "Government" (that is, Mob) happy so they'll let us have their oil in letters written a hound's age ago and printed in today's papers.

Mr Straw has released a statement taking umbrage at the publicity he's getting, as you'd expect. As if printing the letters were an act of troublemaking perversity by the paper that got them, like taking pictures of Joanna Lumley on the beach without her bra on through a telephoto lens (I don't know which paper it was, I h…

New Directions Home

I'm enjoying all the pronouncements coming out from the camp of Bob Dylan at the moment. Last week he told the BBC he was negotiating with two companies to be the voice of a new SatNav kit. Now he claims that he's releasing an album of Christmas songs for charity.

Oh really Bob? Both could be true, of course. Apparently there are SatNavs available with the voices of other famous people on them. And it's conceivable that he could do the Christmas record. Willie Nelson would after all, and Bob's in the same category as Willie pretty much, these days, as an artist and an icon. Although Willie is a fabulous singer and Bob sounds somewhat like a strangulated parakeet when he opens his mouth.

The great thing with Dylan is that with him you are never quite sure he's serious. He's done four or five excellent albums recently and written a wonderful memoir. Creatively he's buzzing. Is the rejuvenated Dylan mind having cruel fun at the expense of a gullible media with t…

Pissing On The Bodies Of The Dead

There was another phone-in on the radio last night about whether we are doing enough to honour the sacrifices "our boys" are making in Afghanistan to keep the world safe from terrorism.

Is that what they're doing? Or are they actually making the world a more dangerous place by fanning the flames of extremism? Were the training camps that gave the world the 7/7 bombers even in Afghanistan? Most people seem to think not.

Now, I don't blame the soldiers themselves for the politics behind their presence there. They just do what they're told, like mailmen and care workers and the fellows behind the deli counter at Sainsburys. But I do object to the fact that the politics can't be questioned, or discussed, without one being accused of pissing on the bodies of dead infantrymen.

I say that not to question the politics of the war is to piss on the dead, and a desecration of the democratic principles we are now supposed to be over there fighting for (interesting how the w…

Why People Don't Read Books Anymore

I may get into it at some juncture, but right now the return of the football season bores me to tears. It only seems two seconds since the last one finished, for Heaven's sake. And what is football, when all's said and done? Twenty-two people trying to prevent each other from kicking a round thing between two posts. Blimey, no wonder nobody reads books anymore when they've got that to occupy their minds and spirits.

Which is snobbish and simplistic, of course. Who said that football has anything to do with the nation's reading habits? (It doesn't.) But equally who said a person proves his legitimacy as a human being by conspiring to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator? I get fed up of people asking me why I use long words when I could use short ones. Why do you buy an expensive flat screen television that can do crossword puzzles and make your breakfast for you when you could have one that just sits in the corner and plays a poor reproduction of "…

The Bard Memoir Is Up And Running People

I've been hiding out in the Bard Gaffe this weekend, that is, when I wasn't being fed into tunnels at the local hospital and having radiation thrown at me. I'm writing a kind of memoir about life in the Eighties and this weekend seemed like a good time to get serious with it. Which I've done. I've produced about thirty more pages of the bugger since I left work on Thursday and I hope to do a few more tonight--that is, again (my life is full of that ises), if I don't fall down in the street when I leave the internet cafe and have to go to the hospital again.

You think I'm being melodramatic? Well, you're wrong. What I'm actually being is neurotic, because I take no grand dame (if that's the way it's spelled) operatic joy in the idea of being poorly. I'm actually incredibly bored by it. But you try falling down outside Waterstone's, of all places, and see how much you take for granted after that. Not that I ever have taken anything for …

Reading Headache

I have a swine of a reading headache at the moment. You see,I found a copy of Bob Dylan's "Chronicles" in the charity shop the other day. I've read it before but I couldn't really remember it in too much detail; and I'm working through a great collection of Russell Brand's Guardian essays called "Articles of Faith" as well. While trying to write a book about my life in the 1980s. So the whole day yesterday was spent looking at the printed word (which I'm also doing now). And my eyes aren't up to the challenge. They need to look upwards into blue skies and across rivers at brown horses in distant fields. Still, at least I've got my interest in writing back, even though most of my old cohorts in the game have disappeared because I was too busy doing other things to tell them how wonderful they were. This had begun to get a little galling because very few of them ever had the courtesy to show any interest in what I was doing, even thoug…

The Bard Of Semilong Gets His Head Examined (II)

I was at the Northampton Hospital half an hour ago for an MRI. The results of the EEG I had and wrote about on these pages were "normal", which was something of a surprise, but they wanted me to have an MRI too because the latter is more thorough, apparently; the EEG can miss things. (If that is the case, I find myself wondering, why don't they stop doing the EEGs and spend the money they waste there on more MRI machines?)(But what do I know, eh?)

I was dreading the MRI ever since the appointment came through. I've been convinced, in the less logical interiors of my strung-out paranoid mind, that I was dying of cancer for a long time, even before I hit the floor in the Lookout for the first time and woke up wondering what the hell had just happened. But having the MRI, so my reasoning went, would prove it conclusively. There would be no kidding myself out of these overwhelming death fears and back to some semblance of normality.

And it still might prove that; I don'…

John Hughes: Res Ipsa Loquitur

Film director John Hughes has died. The guy responsible for Eighties "classics" like The Breakfast Club and Home Alone. I think he did Pretty in Pink as well, though my memory is fading faster than my vitality (well, just about) and I'm not sure about the last one.

It's a shame when anybody dies. And I'm sure John Hughes was a lovely bloke who supported numerous charities and put movie producers on hold to stroke kittens and throw tennis balls with orphans. But those were dreadful films. Maybe not as bad as some of the bilge that Hollywood pumped out in those days, but still a damn sight worse than the average either before or since.

Eighties nostalgia, so widespread now even among those who remember that most benighted of decades, is just one more thing that mystifies me thoroughly and makes me wonder if I am really a member of the human race. Not that I necessarily want to be.

Anybody who wants to watch a John Hughes movie this weekend to remember his "great&…

Train Robbers and Cranks

The radio this morning was full of the usual right-wing cranks phoning up and texting about the release of Ronald Biggs. How frustrating the day must be for these people if they can find nothing to vent their spleen on. Though of course, when you're a right-wing crank, everything is grist to your mill of hate. He should not come out, they say, despite the fact that he is dying of pneumonia. Make him stay in jail until he breathes his last! Then he will have paid his debt to society.

I can't claim even to have an opinion on Biggs himself. Perhaps it is just the mood I'm in this morning, but I couldn't care less what happens to him, though I do warm slightly to the spectacle of a judicial system exercising compassion to the dying. Biggs and his cohorts showed no compassion to the men on the train who were brutalised, they say; but does the State demonstrate the wickedness of their conduct by mirroring it? I'm not a right-wing crank, of course, so perhaps there's s…

Another Jack Sparrow? Johnny, Johnny, Johnny

I read the other day that Orlando Bloom has decided he won't sign up for the fourth (count 'em) Pirates of the Carribean (I don't know how to spell that), but that Johnny Depp has. So we will be regaled with still more adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow in 2010 or 2011, if any of us are still around.

Hmm. I can't say I'm terrifically excited by that prospect. I loved the first movie; but I was bored to death by the second one. And needless to say when the third one came I stayed at home and probably watched Dead Man again.

All of these big budget Hollywood movies look the same to me anyway. But Johnny Depp had impressed me consistently prior to the first film by choosing movie role after movie role that no mainstream hero would have touched. He'd acted with Brando; he'd associated himself with Jack Kerouac; I think he'd played John Wilmot by that time as well, unless I'm getting my chronology confused. He seemed to be one of us, in other words, a memb…

Gordon's Bye-Bye By-Election: Here We Go Again

Yesterday saw the profoundly depressing spectacle of a huge swing to the Conservatives in the Norwich by-election. (Should that be "bye-bye election" since it signals how crushing Labour's defeat next year is likely to be?) The victorious candidate, Chloe Smith, was compared to Margaret Thatcher by a reporter interviewing her and she didn't even bother with the liberal doublespeak David Cameron has been using since he took over the Party to distance himself from that odious oligarch. She just smiled and looked rather flattered.

Blimey. If anybody compared me to Margaret Thatcher I'd probably punch them in the face. But times have changed, and the memory of the average citizen is short. I spoke to a thirty-year-old a few days ago who had no idea who Marlon Brando was. People vote anyway, thanks to capitalism's overwhelming victory over Christianity and socialism, for their own benefit and with little regard for the general well-being of the nation or the world.…

Sway: Some Notes on Rock & Roll In Babylon

Listening to different cds to take to Emily's hippie-themed party tonight. Nothing in white music has surpassed what the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground did in the late 60s/ early 70s. It has that edge which intelligent music gets when it has gone beyond commercialism, gone beyond the housing estates of your childhood, and the frowns of mayor's wives dunking biscuits at civic functions in little English towns...I haven't heard any gone-beyond white music for a long time now, though there have been some fantastic bands.

At the time of "Sticky Fingers" the Rolling Stones were more radical, more subversive, more musically interesting, than any band other than the Beatles (and you don't count them).Writing and singing about sex and drugs when Nixon and his Silent Majority--with their ironed white underpants--were sending boys to die in a meaningless foreign war was a radical and important thing to do. They were helping blow …

Donovan: Jeez, Thanks For All The Work, Man

I just finished reading "The Hurdy Gurdy Man", Donovan's autobiography, which they've been selling cheap in HMV just lately--presumably because of all the typos some publishing dimwit left in the finished copy.

I'm not sure too many people remember Donovan. But boy would that run counter to the proposition he seems to be advancing in the book, which is basically that he was responsible for damn near everything that happened in the Sixties. He invented Flower Power, he led the Beatles away from formulaic songwriting, he went electric at Newport before Dylan...he even opened the Doors of Perception for a whole generation to walk through.

Shame all we got after he did this sterling work to raise human consciousness was general illteracy, rape and murder in the streets and "Britain's Got Talent", but there you are.

The Men in the Alley

Aren't we becoming just a little bit too Victorian in our acceptance of the permanent existence of groups we give names like "the Poor" and "the Homeless", as if their social status were also some sort of existential condition? I thought this while I was walking to the Cafe this morning, passing along my route the alley where those homeless men sit to drink and talk all day now the Royal Mail have fenced off their disused central office, cleaning it up for sale.

Some things in life can't be changed, people tell me. Oh, lighten up, other people tell me. If you had more fun you wouldn't be so cross. (Most of them are unaware of how much fun I'm actually having.)

But I still believe, despite my advancing years and all the political failures I have witnessed since the horror of the Thatcher years first awakened my political consciousness, that nothing has to be any particular way if we don't want it to be. If William Wilberforce and his friends could …

Michael Jackson: It's Sad, But Give Me A Break

I don't like Michael Jackson's music. Never have, so I'm not going to start now just because he's dead. I feel sorry for him if his life was as pained and peculiar as the media wanted us to believe; but I don't need to tell any of you that there are an awful lot of people out there with problems worse than being rich and sensitive and having been deprived of a childhood by over-ambitious parents.

His music, as I've said, was always boring to me. Superficial. Obvious. Phoney. In the current climate, of course, saying such things is tantamount to heresy. So be it. Delete my Facebook page if you like. Throw a stone through my window. I'll give you my address if it matters to you that much.

One commentator, soon after Jackson died, made the absurd claim that he was the most important cultural figure of the last two hundred years. Forget Dylan, the Beatles, Dali, Picasso, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Baudelaire, Rimbaud. The fellow who sang "Shake Your Body Down …

Poetry And Fish

I haven't written anything for a while now, either here, at SUFFOLK PUNCH, or in poem form (though I tried that at home this morning). I've scribbled a lot in my journal, but even there I've done more drawing than writing.

The funny thing is, I'm not worried. I don't work enough to build the literary monument I would have liked at one time, but as far as I'm concerned other people can take the glory there. None of us will know any different when we're in the grave along with John Brown, Elvis and Che Guevara.

And I'm bored of my own ego. It's done nothing but create problems for me all my life. I write things down and look them over and then I think, "Who cares?" Like Charles Bukowski famously said at a poetry reading when someone asked him why he didn't comment on American hostages being held by a lunatic foreign government, "I wish I could read my poetry to the poor hostages."

The desire to spread chapbooks full of my glorious…


I tried to listen to some punk the other day. I mean the music, not a guy who'd forced himself on me in a crowd.

I was there. Late Seventies. With the Pistols and the Clash emerging and everything that came before it dismissed suddenly as execrable nonsense.

And I bought into that. For a while I thought anything that predated the Pistols saying "fuck" on the Bill Grundy show was worthy of nothing except burning.

But when I listened to this punk the other day--I can't remember which band it was--all I heard was a lot of stupid adolescent posturing. And dumbass posturing too. Like a brat of two throwing its toys at mummy.

Back then it seemed so profound. And the critics who wrote about it thought they detected in it some kind of subtle value system.

No more celebrity! The word from the streets! Direct! No lies! (Or something.)

But the street is whatever you make it. "A new world is only a new mind," as W C Williams said.

Punk (with only a couple of exceptions) just …

"Crash", Kinsella And The Plague Rats

I started reading JG Ballard's "Crash" today, after recently finishing his fine autobiography "Miracles of Life". But Jesus, what a disagreeable book "Crash" seems to be.Am I getting old? Conservative? Is it just the passing mood of a man coming out of sleep, waking himself up with black coffee, a discussion about terrorism on the radio, a lone fly repeatedly colliding with my window, trying to get out into the garden?
Or maybe I feel too close to my own demise these days to want to read a novel about somebody seeing, in death, something sexual.

I have an image in my head (unwelcome, but disinclined to leave) of the cctv footage of Ben Kinsella walking down the middle of that empty street, dazed, lost (like me just before a seizure), stabbed 11 times only moments before, his shirt stained with blood; in seconds he would collapse and die. Anybody who sees anything in that other than its horror is a sick man indeed. That, of course, was Ballard's poin…

At The Hospital: The Bard Of Semilong Gets His Head Examined

I went for my long-dreaded hospital appointment yesterday, after interrupting a funeral procession at the Holy Sepulchre Church in the morning and then getting torrential rain poured on my head.

It was a strange day generally. I was asked to take a urine sample for one thing, and unable to find any other receptacle to piss in, I gave my lunchtime best to an empty multi-vitamin carton. Can you imagine what the results of the urine test would have been, if they'd taken them? But they didn't. I walked all the way up from Semilong to Cheyne Walk and spent an hour in the hospital with a carton of my own wee-wee in my pocket for nothing.

The consultant I saw, who's well known to the caring fraternity, questioned me for a long time on the seizures I'd had, how I was when I wasn't thrashing around on the floor, and asked me about my family history. Which isn't that great, medically speaking: meningitis, cancer, insanity...we've had everything the Grim Reaper carries …

Why I Write (Yeah, Why Do I Write?)

A reporter asked Dylan once why he wrote, after Bob had told a press conference that there was no real hope of anybody communicating meaningfully with anybody else.

"Because I've got nothing else to do, man," Dylan replied.

It's the same with me. I've been writing my ideas down for so long now I can't even help it. They've just become "scatological heaps", in Kerouac's great phrase.

Nobody reads this stuff. Or most people don't. And half of the small number of people who do have told me they tend to get about half way through and then they get lost or bored and go and do something else.

That's fine. I don't mind. But I'm not gonna change what I write to make it more comprehensible, or soften the tone to make it more palatable. I don't write it for anybody else. I just write it to get it out.

If I wanted to belong to a sewing circle I'd buy myself a needle and thread, huh?

Why The Peasant's Revolt Isn't Working

People are mocking the inefficacy of the so-called "peasants' revolt" against Gordon Brown among the rank-and-file of the Labour Party, as if it were proof either of the lack of legitimate opposition to Brown (that's his line), or the general incompetency of everybody in the party (that's David Cameron's line--"they can't even organise a rebellion properly"). But Labour rules make it deliberately difficult to oust a sitting leader. Those wishing to remove Brown have to collect seventy (I think) signatures in support of the same candidate for a leadership challenge before one can be mounted; and getting seventy Labour MPs to agree on anything except how much they loathe the Tories is damn near impossible. Diversity of opinion and freedom of conscience used to be one of Labour's strengths, before faceless middle-management robots and pipsqueaks took over at the top and repainted independence as disloyalty. So, because of rules the Labour elite…