Showing posts from September, 2009

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…