Showing posts from June, 2009

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…

Congratulations, Joe Public, Now Take A Good Look At Your Saviour Before The Real Horror Starts

It would have been funny if it hadn't been so depressing. Nick Griffin on the radio last night saying he'd seen red rosettes on the anti-nazi protestors who tried to keep him out of the hall where his election to the European Parliament was announced, and that this was proof that the tussles that occurred there were organised by the Labour Party. And William Hague too, somehow. "How do you know it had anything to do with Labour?" asked a slightly bemused radio presenter. "Because they were all members of Unite and the Labour Party funds them," said Griffin as it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Well, no, actually, Unite funds the Labour Party, not the other way around, and as far as I know William Hague has no involvement with either of them. Perhaps he's just a victim of the sustained media campaign against the BNP, though. Maybe he got involved in the conspiracy to throw eggs at Nick Griffin because that propagandising friend of big business t…

Beyonce, Shut It

If there is one thing more spiritually and intellectually empty than "Britain's Got Talent" it's the music of Beyonce Knowles.

"All the honeyzz makin money show your independence!" (I presume she would spell it with a "z", since the "s" is so passe these days. Like spelling generally.)


And that if he really likes your finger, put a ring on it business. It's like the 80s never ended and we're really all caught in one horrific eternal episode of "Miami Vice" or "The Cosby Show".

Why don't you show your independence by thinking something that wasn't thought for you, first, by a vapid but beautifully dressed hack in a woman's glossy.

Read a book, Beyonce, if you have to take something to the lavatory with you.

(This unusual--for me--train of thought has been provoked by sitting in an internet cafe for the last half an hour listening to one after another soul-annihilatingly borin…

england 2009

for gordon brown

in the doorway of an empty shop
sleeping under tarp--
he's probably my age.

next door, coming from the pharmacy,
an old man in a sweatshirt
takes a big glug
from his can of strongbow,
almost hits me as he
walks out in the rain.

David Carradine

Yesterday brought the sad news of the death of David Carradine, who was found hanged in a hotel room half way across the world, where he'd been making his latest movie. He was 72 years old.

Younger people will probably know Carradine best for his role in the Tarantino film "Kill Bill", but for me he will always be the Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine from the 1970s tv series "Kung Fu".

I loved that show when I was growing up. So much so that I've probably made reference to it a thousand times before. The long-haired, soft-spoken Buddhist who could kick the living crap out of anybody he wanted to made an impression on me that is evident, if you look closely, even to this day.

I don't like violence. I have only ever hit one person and I did that because I was afraid he was going to hit me. As it turned out one punch was enough. But I shook like somebody with convulsions for an hour afterwards. And I felt like I'd cheapened myself by resorting to such crud…