Showing posts from February, 2009

Rockin In The Free World

Hazel Blears has been going around saying we should have the courage to stand up, despite "political correctness gone mad" (the mantra of frustrated right wing lunatics everywhere), and stand up for values we hold dear. Okay Neil you start.

Poverty and inequality seem to be two of the most popular ones with either Labour or Tory governments.

Oh, and what's this shit about emboldening ourselves to tell Muslims that homophobia and misogyny are against our core values? Islam would love the attitude of at least half the British population towards gays and women. It tends to be we maligned liberals and leftists and anarchists and hippies and whatever you call those kids with dreads who want to free everybody.

I'm So Glad I'm Moving I Could Almost Pop

You're supposed to have ambivalent feelings when you move house. You know, when you pack away your possessions (which people think of as their life), and see the house or flat in which there has been so much love and laughter now empty, and needing a hoover.

Not me. I can't wait to move into the new house in Northampton. Not only for all the well-rehearsed reasons about how much more convenient it will be living in town etc etc. But also because, much as I hate to say it, I haven't been happy at the flat in Earls Barton. Not at all, in the whole of the two years I've been there.

Which is not to say I haven't been happy in two years, don't get me wrong. But all of my good times have happened in other places, at other people's homes, or in pubs, or even (again, it's a rather guilty confession), at work, where--despite the stresses any job brings--I've had some great laughs and wonderful conversations and met a few people who I hope will be friends for t…

Greyfriars Bus Station Friday Night Late


i left all my friends behind
for the promise of a woman
that she never meant to keep.
now scrolling through my phone
i can't find anyone
who'd be awake this late, or understand.

i've been alive a thousand years.
and through them all ungrateful,
sorry for myself. no wonder
everyone i know's got someone,
and i'm talking to this bare white page.


four teenage girls beside me,
accosted by an old drunk
who talks to them in riddles.
tells them he knows something that they don't.

"what do you know?"
one perfect girl demands.

and i think," time."


packing boxes on my own,
moving house on tuesday--
too much to take, too little


The Broken Britain theory that David Cameron and his honourable, morally spotless friends at the Sun newspaper have been advancing may be right. But if it is, who broke it?

Labour may have been in power for twelve years now, but the so-called New Labour project was only ever a hypocritical, toothy reworking of Thatcherite capitalism anyway.

If you really want to understand why the streets at night are filled with illiterate child thugs stabbing grannies and impregnating overweight, spotty fifteen-year-olds look at Margaret Thatcher--if, unlike me, you can bear to do so without jumping into a hot bath and scrubbing yourself raw.

She is the one who created the culture in which such disturbing and dangerous things could occur. Though I wonder sometimes if these newspaper-led moral panics and the last acceptable prejudice, against so-called chavs, aren't just odious attacks on the working class by the very people who have taken away their power and dignity.

I'd rather live next door t…


four times i fall down
after a considerable headache.
dropping in the street, at home,
and losing consciousness completely.
waking--after how long?--with my mind
curiously blank, and paramedics round me.
fear tightens in me like a fist:
ballasteros has a tumour!
the fifth time i go down at work.
two hours of tests. eight hours
of waiting, with no visitors.
then a doctor solemnly intones words
that relieve me, and appall:
"you're having seizures mr. hodder.
take epilim. have a brain scan too,
just to rule out deeper causes."

extract from "Southbank" by Bruce Hodder

Springsteen at the Superbowl

I know I am slightly cynical. But I'm certain Bruce Springsteen, the symbol of integrity and authenticity in American rock music, was lip-synching when he sang at the Superbowl last night.

And what's with this enormous gospel choir that seems to be following him around these days?

His new album "Working On A Dream" is good, though not sensational or era-defining or a creative high watermark--and I've never been a fan of Brendan O'Brien's production--but the most powerful thing you can have on a stage is one man with a guitar and a harmonica. You don't need fifty people in flowing white robes jiggling around like they're animated by the ecstasy of some holy communion with God.

Okay, "Nebraska" or "The Ghost of Tom Joad" probably would have got Springsteen booed off the stage by the Superbowl crowd.

But I'm much more of a fan of the lonesome Bruce who speaks from his own heart and doesn't care whether anybody likes it than…


Gordon Brown showed the true colours of the mainstream Labour Party when he called the present rash of wildcat strikes that are sweeping the country (if a rash can sweep), in a fine and surprising show of solidarity with workers in one place who are seeing a lot of jobs go to Italian workers, "indefensible" . The strikes are only wildcat strikes because the pin-up girl of the New Labour movement Margaret Thatcher made it illegal for unions to go out without formal ballots and all that other boss-centred palaver. Labour should have repealed all of her anti-union legislation a long time ago. But of course it never will.

The rightness of the cause behind the strikes is debatable, as most things are. Technically speaking, much as it grieves me to say it, nobody on the boss side seems to have broken the law in putting a job out to tender and granting the resulting contract to an Italian firm who have brought in Italian labour to do the work. Not that following the letter of the la…