Showing posts from February, 2013

Polymorphously Perverse: Tangling with Dr. Freud

I'm currently working on an essay about psychoanalysis and lesbianism for the degree. And obviously, when you deal with psychoanalysis, you have to deal with Freud. That well-known genius, failed doctor, misogynist, cocaine addict, cigar smoker and/ or sex pervert (choose your myth according to your preference).

I described him on Facebook as resembling a blindfolded man with a bow and arrow. "With one shot he hits the bullseye," I wrote, "and with the next shot he kills your neighbour's dog."

There is a surprisingly wide range of views about his work in literary circles, thanks, it seems, to the development of his theories by French obscurantist Jacques Lacan. And some of it, to be fair, makes sense. There is still the thorny problem, however, of the other bits.

What Freud was concerned with was children’s responses to their discovery of physical differences between the sexes. Briefly, he argues that a boy, seeing that girls lack a penis, thinks they have …

Hiding the Bodies: Facebook Plays Footsie with China

Sorry to harp on about this Tibetan business. I know most of you are busy frying other fish and there's nothing more boring than someone else's politics. It's just that to me this isn't politics at all. This is about humanity, suffering humanity. People are burning themselves to death on a weekly basis in Tibet because they reject military occupation by an economic superpower we in the West routinely trade with. To me it just doesn't seem right, and when something doesn't seem right I was brought up to think that it's my responsibility, as much as anyone's, to fix it.

Something else about the occupation isn't right. It's Facebook's censorship of aspects of the campaign against the Chinese presence. Dossier Tibet, the Facebook sister page of the website of the same name ( ) has been locked by FB, which means that the account holder can't access it, and photographs of self-immolations that it posted have been rem…

Tibet: Rangzen Or The Middle Way

 For many years I have said that only Tibetan independence can serve as a safeguard for the preservation of our heritage, culture and national identity. Talk of “autonomy” masks a sad defeatism and an acceptance of the inevitability of China swallowing our country; it is unworthy of the descendants of the great Emperors (tsenpo) who made Tibet a powerful and enlightened state. I call on all Tibetans to join us and our brothers and sisters in Tibet, in the pure and sacred struggle to free our country -
Thubten Jigme Norbu / Taktser Tulku
Former Abbot, Kumbum Monastery
Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, USA
23 November 2001
The annual raising of the Tibetan flag over the Guildhall in Northampton is due to take place in March. Every year, in a ceremony organised by local people and attended by the Mayor, speeches are made about the continuing horror unfolding in Tibet; songs are sung, and then the Tibetan flag is raised outside the nineteenth century Gothic-style building. The local…

Tibet: The Honour Roll That Shames

Just saw the Northampton University Vice-Chancellor in the building. A rare sighting. Characteristically, he was showing around someone in a suit. Here's a message for him.

Self-Immolations in Tibet Since 2009
Last Updated: February 17, 2013, 15:06 EST

Drugpa Khar
Lobsang Namgyal
Konchok Kyab
Tsering Tashi
Wangchen Kyi
Kunchok Pelgye
Pema Dorjee
Lobsang Geleg
Sungdue Kyab
Kunchok Kyab
Tsering Namgyal
Wande Khar
Sanggye Tashi
Kelsang Kyab
Gonpo Tsering
Kunchok Tsering
Sangay Dolma
Tamdrin Kyab
Tamdrin Dorjee
Lubhum Gyal
Tsering Dundrup
Wangchen Norbu
Sangdag Tsering
Chagmo Kyi
Khabum Gyal
Tenzin Dolma
Nyangchag Bum
Nyangkar Tashi
Gonpo Tsering
Jinpa Gyatso
Dorjee Kyab
Tamding Tso
Dorjee Lhundrup
Tsewang Kyab
Lhamo Tseten
Dorje Rinchen
Lhamo Kyab
Tamdin Dorje
Sangay Gyatso
Passang Lhamo
Lobsang Damchoe
Lobsang Kelsang
Dolkar Tso
Lobsang Tsultrim
Losang Lozin
Tsewang Dorjee
Dickyi Choezom
Ngawang Norphel
Tenzin Khedup
Tamdin Thar


I just heard two girls at the university talking about their stalkers. I would never wish to undermine the seriousness of stalking when it happens - it must be terrifying - but for the young and beautiful these days a stalker seems to be almost a fashion accessory. Anyone whose gestures of friendship are unwelcome is a stalker. Everyone who smiles at you in the street more than once wants to fuck you. That is the presumption. It is casual, cruel and extremely arrogant.

I was accused of stalking once myself, by a woman who I thought was my friend. A serial fantasist, she told everyone I knew stories about me hanging around on street corners or hiding behind hedges waiting for her, and watching. None of which ever happened; we didn't even live in the same bloody town. But nothing I can ever say or do will take the seed of doubt out of the minds of people who heard those stories. Who saw those texts. So I don't even try.

I did make a pass at her once. I was sad and lonely; I ne…


I'm putting the finishing touches at the moment to an essay on William Blake. Four poems about childhood from Songs of Innocence and Experience. It's a topic I'd be happy to write about usually, maybe for a book or a poetry magazine, but because it's for my Romanticism module at the uni the bloody thing is driving me mad.

At the start of the year the lecturer Jon Mackley gave us a list of the tenets of Romanticism. I think there were seven, although there may have been four, or sixteen. I've no idea where the notebook is that I wrote them all down in.

Anyway, ever since that first lecture the idea has been that when we analyse a poem in the class or write an essay we're supposed to identify these tenets of Romanticism in the text we're considering. At first Mackley would even say a chirpy BING! and raise a finger in the air every time we named one. Thankfully, he's cut that out now.

I didn't name any of the Romantic tenets in my last essay. I still…

Calling for a New Coalition of Interests

Oliver Twist asking for more in the workhouse.

In two years there will be a General Election, and it may be more significant than any since Margaret Thatcher's first two victories. If the Conservative Party win an outright majority it could signal the death knell of the NHS and any recognisable (and fair) form of Welfare State. Don't even mention what is left of workers' rights, which isn't a heck of a lot. Employees are already working twelve hour shifts without sick pay and getting fired on the whims of their bosses.

The Tories, if they win, will be dragging the country back to a pre-1945, maybe even pre-1845, darkness in which poverty is equated with moral weakness, a good man is expected to know his place and the rich dance on the bodies of the dead. I fully expect the return of the workhouses too, although naturally they won't call them that. They'll be rebranded, a "PLUS" will be affixed to whatever anodyne name they're given, and the poor a…

25 Things You Didn't Know About Me. Possibly.

I saw somebody else do this so in a spirit of pure plagiarism, and to take my mind off Hanif Kureishi for ten minutes, I'm now going to list 25 little-known facts about me. If I can think of 25. All of these, despite my reputation for being a smart arse, are 100% true.

1. I was once made captain of my primary school football team. The other ten players promptly went on strike.

2. I wrote my first novel when I was ten, a 33 page revenge western called "Blood Lust".

3. I had a crush on my first teacher Mrs Bevan.

4. I once almost choked on bacon and had to pull it up out of my own throat to survive.

5. At primary school three girls asked to see my "winkie" and when I showed them I got in trouble.

6. I am actually very shy.

7. I once tried to learn Russian so I could read Dostoyevsky in the original. I could only ever remember the word for "fox".

8. I feel sick when I smell beetroot.

9. I once saw a ghost.

10. I have never taken any illegal drug other t…

Dropped Kebabs and Despots: The Last Term of the Last Year Starts to Hurt

from Toothpaste For

I'm nearly at the end of my three years of university now. That's probably a good thing. I tried so hard to be positive about the degree, returning for year three after my summer scrape with the Grim Reaper, but by Christmas the effort had almost done more harm to my psyche than pneumonia did to my lungs.

Why not just be honest? I haven't enjoyed the third year at all. The time I've spent wasting time or getting to know certain people in the corridors and the canteen has been nice. But I wouldn't have done any of the classes, even the ones I chose, if I'd been properly informed about my choices. In fact, the ones I did go for, not really knowing how the modules would be structured, have turned out to be the biggest drag of the lot.

For my dissertation I'm writing about Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi and Meera Syaal. That's fine, in a way. I chose that because the Post-Colonial module was the only one I enjoyed in the seco…

The Wizard and the Boy

I was in the queue at my local Co-Op yesterday (buying a lottery ticket, phone credit and a bar of chocolate, if anyone's interested), and in front of me were a woman and a boy. I presume he was her son. The boy was probably five, six years old. And I noticed he was staring at me, utterly transfixed, to the point where I became not only embarrassed but also angry at his mother for not reminding him of his manners.

Anyway, he'd been staring at me "for what seemed like an age" (as writers say), when his mother did the worst thing she could possibly have done. She left the boy there to go and fetch something she'd forgotten from the other end of the shop.

The boy continued staring. I wanted to knock him down. But since I couldn't do that, I stared back. This went on for several moments and then the boy relented, curling his lips back over his missing teeth in a nervous smile. Just then his mother returned.

"Hello," said the boy.

"All right mate?&…