Friday 29 April 2011

Which One's the Princess, Daddy?

I didn’t know, or I did but forgot and all until Catnip reminded me that there was a Princess, and a carriage, and we had to watch it, and, and, and...
...We did. Have done. I had my day all planned and with hands ready to bang together, to dust things off and be jolly chuffed before moving on to the next breadbin of work. And here and the day has just begun. For in Tolly Maw it seems we are patriotic. The young men have gathered. We are off to retake the Crimea. Outside and crows are roasting whilst in great vats tripe sizzles in pints of old wives vinegar. Strangers are haggis and the children of the town have been armed, to beat the bounds, and make sausages of the unwary. Gawd bless our country ways!
I’d more normally be expected to stand up, to protest, and to scorn the very idea of such a wedding. But I don’t, and I won’t, and even with Paul relating every moment I’m just happy for so many, who are made all the happier by the day. That and because Stinker has been casting his usual bile on every mention of the wedding, and Stinker has a power, a power that makes the world contrary to his every view within three minutes of it being expressed. In person he’s rather a pleasant chap, but he likes to whisper through post boxes or with his speaking trumpet announce wherever he is, and he will insist on Paul going with him everywhere. He’s in hiding in Tolly Maw for wetly touching three cyclists to death – for not being cyclist enough.
So soon and indeed already starting there are street parties I knew nothing off, celebrations I am expected to attend, and doubtless dancing, merriment and it seems the ghost of Quentin Blake. Nice chap. It was his idea for me scrawl now, sweetly early, for later and there will be less time and half as much sobriety.
There is to be a great chicken-lip chow down. Chickens it seems have lips and it is true, else from where would the eggs come?   

Thursday 28 April 2011

Random Ink

Dr Phibes (no relation) and Sickness, and Webs

Paul ( ) is back at the Somme (corned beef and plum jam for tea again) where he was a duckboard, and so here I write this yesterday. I hope at least for the best, but the Somme was four months in the fighting and I cannot be without Paul for so long he (being as previously described) my interweb provider. Perhaps it is the mud and shelling that accompanies Paul’s return to days horrid but having made tea I came down with a passing case of feeling rotten.
That’s the medical phrase I am assured. Assured indeed by the local quack, Dr Phibes (no relation). Still I had to shudder on whilst putting Catnip and Bosswell to their beds, their energies exponentially increasing come such time for sleep in direct contrast to my own. And here I write and late, sick and alone by the light of a storm lantern and the occasional falling flare without.
Thankfully with Paul making Tolly Maw France for the night I’m not expected in the trenches where far worse than I shudder and throw brown tea from britches ripe with lice. I’m too old and too Bohemian, and not in uniform they don’t know what to make of me anyway. I’m writing this on a stack of smoothed gold-flake packets, and I wish I still smoked. The last time I was in 1916 it was further back, Paris typically where Mme Roux was amused to introduce me to my own great-great Aunt - actress, and what passed then for a spy. She spoke French with a Lambeth accent. She sounded Australian. She was only an aunt by marriage, a Richards, and there soon we would have by that line Keith. He didn’t believe me in ’64, but I’d tucked into his shepherd’s pie and that’s never the thing apparently?
I’m badly digressing, the inevitable result of being somewhere I’m not. Four lads of the London Scots have just come in and they’re ignoring me whilst not letting me out of their sight. I’ve slipped clearly, Slide 19 at a guess.
Last time (Paris as I say) and the Musée-Galerie de la Seita had been half crowded because of the rain. It hadn’t meant to open until the 1970s but could hardly stand to ignore the custom. We spoke in front of Marianne von Werefkin’s Schieben Sie dreiundzwanzig which she was not due to paint for another five years, or to be hung for another fifty. The wine was pretty rotten too.
Dr Phibes says this sort of thing is to be expected. He has quite the most impressive syringe which is he assures me, for Paul. Paul being well then on the morrow and this should now be today. I’m not very well and it might not be 1916 much longer. And if I post this, it won’t be now.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Steve Jobs Is At My Window (Again)

Steve Jobs is at the window again, tapping away whilst I’ve been tapping away all afternoon and all because he wants me to buy a bloody iWant. They’re not like you see in the films these hobbits. In The Lord of the Rings they’re portrayed as the earnest, plump middle classes and in Interview With The Vampire as Lestat. But here as anywhere the bloody things are just knackers and since My Big Fat Hobbit Wedding they all think they’re celebrities. And Jobs the bolder because of it just cannot understand why I don’t have a mobile phone.
He’s the best of the bunch admittedly. Only the other night I had to run out in my carpet slippers (and I don’t own any carpet slippers, because I don’t live in the 1950s) to scare off Bill Gates - who was making a terrible racket going through my bins. They all live down by the river, constantly building the same things and trying to sell them for squirrel meat and wheatgrass smoothies. They fight too, albeit like girls. The Jobs, the Gates and the Tooks. And the language! If I understood a word of it I’d probably be offended.
I work at home, I don’t really need a walky-phone with its stabby-screen but Jobs just won’t stop showing me his iWant. It doesn’t just make calls he says, there’s Angry Birds too. He shows me and I admit he’s got quite an arm on him, but as a missile it’s a very expensive phone. And that it seems is rather the point.    

Monday 25 April 2011

Mervyn Peake's Head

Our cottage one of four formerly tied for the late Lord Tolly’s outdoorsmen, our neighbour (I discovered today) is something of a hero of mine. Our cottage once that of the Lord’s bee tempter it still boasts the open hives decorated by an expert hand to offer images seductive to bees. Lewd stamen mostly and in a hand (though faded) I recognised at once. I enquired and was told only to introduce myself to my neighbour, and he in what had been the Lord’s wormer invited me in for speckled tea and a rather dusty cake.
 Mostly dead in 1968, my neighbour now only the head of Mervyn Peake has by such separation diluted and latterly defeated the Parkinson’s Disease that had robbed him of his abilities through the 60s. And what abilities they were. Poet, playwright, author and illustrator Mervyn Peake was ever someone whose talent and imagination had set me alight from a very early age. Long before indeed I even knew of the name, but knew the illustrations, the style. I draw for fun but just don’t have the ability to let go, to just scribble as it were - though indeed the scanner has allowed me to try, with pencil not then erased under the inks. Mr Peake had a natural ability to sketch what he saw, and in his head – he drew what was there and had the magnificence of mind to make sure that what was there, was very much worth the drawing.
It is doubtless for Gormenghast he is best known. Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone. Rightly loved by many, and wrongly lumped in with Tolkien, the series has ever influenced me from the sheer taste of the story to the best and chewiest of names. And here this lunchtime Mr Peake was kind enough to take me through Titus Awakes, that he has been working on for more than forty years. He is after all, just a head.
At the time of writing but weeks from his hundredth. Mr Peake is remarkably well preserved, albeit for a head. He manoeuvres about his cottage arranged for the purpose in a trolley of his own design and manufactured with clear love by Wilf Lunn.
I admire him greatly, though he makes a rotten cup of tea.  

Sunday 24 April 2011

The Lie In, The Sandwich, And The Wardrobe

Bournemouth has (since I’ve been younger than a very young man) been my place of sanctuary. I was hitching down there before I needed to shave and to meet with friends, some of whom I am still in regular contact with to this day, and this to begin with nigh on thirty years gone. I love the city. I can walk it for hours because only for one brief summer did I actually live there. It was when I was young where I could go, to the already posted Bacchus but also to the Gander pub where with Andy Weale’s driving licence I could prove I was 18 long before I was.
When I had to move out of my parents and still young enough to yet be considered a young man it was to Bournemouth and a shared room, in a shared house – and with very little money. And by Cope I tried to find work but I was just too young to be employable, and far too young to claim benefits. I hitched up to London each weekend to the caves but this was just before I started being paid to do so. So I was skint and there was rent, which I could not pay. Welcome to the world, young man.
Mostly then when I was not away, the three days otherwise, I would walk the hour it took to get into town (Wallisdown where I was being well beyond even the arse of the city) and in futility look for work. Any work, and again even the hotels couldn’t let me wash up as again – too young. But it was summer and so in the afternoon I’d sit in the park – or the Lower Pleasure Gardens (snortle!) and read. It was a hot summer, weren’t they always?
But not one afternoon. One afternoon I was in the room I shared eating a quiet sandwich and up the stairs I heard the approach of the landlord. I could tell it was he as he tended toward an amount of muttering as he did anything. He stopped outside the room I shared. The handle turned. I did what any boy would do in that situation, I hid in the wardrobe.
Now this wardrobe did not entirely shut. Nothing did in that room. Being second one in, Rob (my roommate) had already taken every drawer, cupboard and alcove for his own stuff. Thereafter and for years to come he would mock me for the untidy state of my half of the room – where I had no choice but just to leave my meagre possessions in a small pile.
I digress.
Through the slight crack I saw my landlord. He entered. He looked around. He left briefly, he returned. He started to go through the drawers. He sat on Rob’s bed. He inspected under it. He had in short a very good poke around. I remember as you would, the way he flicked through a novelisation of the film Caligula. I was rather afraid there would be... fumblings.
But no. He had yet to finish. I saw him stand and approach the wardrobe.
I am rather proud in hindsight that then with admirable dignity I adopted a position of studied nonchalance. I leant casually, eyebrow raised. That was what he saw when he opened the wardrobe. I was prepared, he wasn’t. The situation ran over his face. Caught. Bang to rights. I recall without losing eye contact toasting him with the last of my sandwich. Nightmare. Disbelief. He stepped back, his face I see still – and I, I said not a word. He blinked, he coloured. I still said nothing. He broke. He fled.
I wasn’t long there after that, but just long enough. He got heavily into Turkish Delight and forever after as you might well know, then in Wallisdown it was always winter but never Christmas.  

Saturday 23 April 2011

Martin Millar's Written Oral

Sometimes we Dream Of Sex And Stage Diving.
Martin Millar is a good writer. Concise and clipped, precise. His Lonely Werewolf Girl was a Shakespearian drama with its sprawling cast and (as is typical for Millar) counterculture setting. And it was great. But for me and much as I enjoyed LWG, it’s here Dreams Of Sex And Stage Diving.
Brixton and the late 80s, early 90s – and Elfish is at war. In contest with her ex for the right to name their respective bands Queen Mab this is a Brixton I know very well indeed. I know the pubs, I know the times, and I know the people. It’s rare when someone turns a torch upon your life and points out where you’d been, how you were part of a scene and as the years go by I worry I’ll muddle memory and prose. Not because of passing references to the Canning or Cool Tan (of which there are none), Brockwell Park or the George – likewise, but because since I was there, I recognise the stains on the wall. And it’s a very stained book, clotted with vomit and more without any attempt at sympathy for Elfish that saw a friend of mine dislike the work until he saw the classical tragedy of it all. With a snap it made sense. For the story is a very old one, told in a very old way, in a modern setting – albeit that setting yesterday and sorry kids, you probably missed it.
I disagree anyway. Elfish earns some sympathy from me, albeit a selfish sort of sympathy. I’ve known selfish women and a couple have been extremely good mates, and about and before this very time. I don’t have to cheer for her to like her, and since I don’t expect her to be the hero she has nothing to live up to. Which is good because Elfish is a liar and a nasty little thief. And I can see people in her, and I like that. So by the end yes, I’m cheering her on - but waiting for her to fuck up.
Martin Millar’s not a man much given to balloons and cake from what I can make out from interviews. He puts a lot of this into his work, and does it very well. Again I’ve said very little about the story. Read it. But you probably won’t like it. And more shame on you for that.
And Mab is a hell of a name for a child. But sorry, I got there first. She's already seven.

Random I... pencil

Friday 22 April 2011

The Sotheby's Code, Sekhmet and Ingrid Pitt

Set over the entrance to Sotheby’s in New Bond Street, the bust to Sekhmet is hardly the subtlest clue to the Cult that has been growing in London in recent years. It’s been long established that Harry Potter, Iron Maiden, Ingrid Pitt and Real Ale all lead to various forms of devil worship. Since ancient Egyptian myth and Satanism are lazily sort of the same thing young men have here joined with older men in the worship of Sekhmet. Meeting as ancient scripture describes on the third Thursday of each month the Sotheby Cult ranges the nights of Mayfair and Piccadilly.
The cult has actually enjoyed greater popularity since some old shit by Dan Brown was read by people for whom a simple thriller was not enough, and who on joining the Freemasons discovered that mostly what they were expected to do was charity work. Confusing reality with an episode of The Simpsons, missing therefore even the false promise of giant rib dinners and never able to enter the United Grand Lodge of England due to Spooks using its entrance for that of Thames House, the Apprentice Toast Racks (the lowest degree of Freemasonry) have been lured instead to the worship not of a Supreme Being, but a mostly forgotten one. A forgotten one perhaps, but one that was an alien in the classic Dr Who episode Pyramids of Mars. Although that was actually Sutekh.
The Cult only awaits a decent opponent, a Holmes or a Richard Hannay. In these days of digital-everything suitable bold adventurers are difficult to come by. Indeed only Kim Newman has been judged even vaguely suitable – but you have to email Kim Newman and he’s long since given up even opening messages from Cults looking to be opposed.
Still, Ingrid Pitt eh?     

Thursday 21 April 2011

Windy Miller Surrenders!

I hope there’s nothing important happening in the world right now as the local news takes the title very seriously. You might have caught a snippet due to the fame of the daughter of the protagonist but after a three day siege the father of Sienna Miller (Factory Girl, G.I Joe, and most notably Layer Cake), Glenn ‘Windy’ Miller has been taken into custody.
With the expansion of Trumpton into sites previously listed as being of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Miller family home at Colly’s Mill is to be demolished to make way for the new Chigley Bypass. Windy Miller unable to change or avert these plans took to the windmill with a small arsenal of firearms and explosives, stashed from his time when during WWII he was trained and equipped as a ‘Scalliwag’ in the Home Guard. Set to cause disruption and chaos in the event of a Nazi invasion, with the postponement and then abandonment of Operation Sea Lion Miller was never called upon to create either.
The need for the Bypass has faced both criticism and support from the local community. Ever since the death of Lord Belborough (and the subsequent closing of the narrow gauge railway he not only supported, but manned) public transport has been limited to a single bus. Even that ran once a day, a little after lunch and just before the news.
The siege’s conclusion was achieved without the need for the Special Forces (here seen in full dress uniform) when Mr Miller is said to have ‘become sleepy after drinking too much cider’. Windy Miller has been transported to Paddington Green Police Station to await charge. Miss Miller presently on the set of Yellow was not available for comment.   

Random I... pencil

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Red Dawn

With the fine weather and here in Tolly Maw it seems we are required to roll across the Rhine in a race with NATO to see whose cruddy old armoured vehicles break down first. Or at least we would if we were not already in England where we are the Wiltshire & Cumberland 23rd Motor Rifle Division. Well not me obviously. But everyone else and here photographed with some sort of phone I don’t have are Tom, Young Tom, and William The Murderer.
Back in the 1960s Tolly Maw was used for build-up training in FIBUA, the techniques then known by a different name for shitting oneself blue and screaming in village, town or even city. Meant to get young squaddies used to the idea that if there was a door to be kicked or a mine to stamp on stripes and pips meant ‘not me’, it carried on the proud tradition of National Service whereby young men learned how to skive.
Legal documents were served informing the people of the Tolly Maw of the fate of the village. The people only too happy to help readied themselves and then successfully repelled the first platoon sent to the training, not expecting as they were to be fired upon. Or for the village to have a tank, three in fact. Even when Ian Carmichael (the British actor famous at the time for always playing the least offensive of civil servants) was sent in with a brolly and a stammer the people would not be moved, for they were Soviets three weekends a year and this was the first.
Not since 1982 has there been any actual fighting. When then the Falkland Isles were invaded by Argentina Tolly Maw was sealed tight in case it offered aid to an enemy that everyone thought had landed just off Scotland.
So this weekend and everyone but me has all gone a bit Soviet. And here is our potato. We have many fine potatoes just like it, just not here comrade.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Talos and St Pancras

Transported from the Isle of Bronze on the connivance of Thomas Bruce (7th Earl of Elgin), the statue of Talos here seen in its new resting place in St Pancras Railway Station is typically for London a terrible accident waiting to happen. Whilst adorned with nightmarish images about the base to put off the unwary still it is hardly a secret that through deciphering them may they be opened.
Although the BFI recently made it official that there actually is no number of times one can see Jason and the Argonauts that can be considered too many, still there are people who will never do so. This is a shame as any day now the modern equivalents of Hercules and Hylas are bound to force entrance and think themselves very fine for running off with a giant gold sewing-needle and an unconvincingly big pearl.
How long can it be I ask you before Talos strides down Pentonville Road stamping on people otherwise oblivious with their iPods and their haircuts? And how angry will Talos be to find himself clothed and in the arms of one (who at best) we might hope to be a beardless youth?

Thursday 14 April 2011

Random Ink

(It was only a matter of time) Caroline Munro!

You may have seen that People Magazine’s ‘Most Beautiful’ list has been noticed for including what are described as ‘mature women’. Or really as it should be just women. This is all rather misleading as on further inspection the top slot is held by Caroline Munro, presently 62. I certainly have no problem with this, indeed we asked Caroline Munro whilst filming The Spy Who Loved Me (in her renowned role as ‘no, not Barbara Bach – Caroline Munro, you know, the dirty one’) at the age of 28 how she felt about the award. With a laugh she forced us off the road and into the ocean with her heavily armed helicopter and only because our car was also a submarine did we survive at all.
Earlier and at the more tender age of 25, Miss Munro in her role pictured above in 1974s Golden Voyage of Sinbad admitted to us that she was thrilled to be remembered – and especially now as an awful lot of people reading this are now thinking, ‘Oh God yes, her, the belly dancing princess in that Harryhausen film’.
The award actually comes to her for her sterling work as early-Buffy in Captain Kronos, and we all salute you Caroline Munro. Albeit and now of advancing years ourselves we might have to go for a little lie-down thereafter.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Early Onset fear, my love

Scratchwood’s been on, and on – but I can’t hear him because and loudly so, I’m scared. It’s not Tolly Maw (which would be reason enough) but Catnip, our beloved and first who is so sweet yet in a moment will with a blaze of white eyes, melt heads. Common enough many would say yet this with all its intricacies saw us by effort reach Bedlam this morning. Once the arms of an Empire housed as a museum had been swept out and for an hour by tick and slow tock we faced the horror of it.
My own and my beloved Catnip is not all she should be. And worse if yet not said, it has been whispered in the silences perhaps and that then is my horror. So early too and early-onset by name this devil that sits in my stomach and whispers what will be. And there is nothing, nothing at all that I can do. All else pales, you are last night’s rain because my own and precious Catnip I fear, and truly so, can only get worse.
She knows it too or at times for she is bright, my star that breathes in air and breathes out light. And she hides in my arms so scared too of herself, and I understand. This is no warm blanket to take you to nowhere. This is a beast, a monster and not one under the bed but in the eyes. And in there and they rage and fight and she reaches out her hand but it’s just the steam of tears, and she’s falling. And inside I’m already dying.
I write as another (first) person, and how telling is that? I am so sorry, but I would swap you all for her and certainly take it on myself. But that's not an option.  

Monday 11 April 2011

Hi Fidelity, My Life in Music

I was born in 1968 and it's now... I dunno, some years after 1991 I'm sure. This was difficult and also subject to change. No repeats on song or artist meant a huge bottleneck in one area and a right old wasteland in another, or more than one. A bit of an old quilt, warm in places and with a cushion on it in others in case of visitors.

1968 – All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix
1969 – Gimme Shelter, Rolling Stones
1970 – Lola, The Kinks
1971 – Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
1972 – All the Young Dudes, Mott the Hoople
1973 – Simple Man, Lynyrd Skynyrd
1974 – Already Gone, The Eagles
1975 – Golden Void, Hawkwind
1976 – The Weight, The Band
1977 – Pretty Vacant, Sex Pistols
1978 – Germ Free Adolescence, X Ray Spex
1979 – Guns of Brixton, The Clash
1980 – Games Without Frontiers, Peter Gabriel
1981 – Witch Hunt, Rush
1982 – Beastie, Jethro Tull
1983 – The Girl in the Swing, The Waterboys
1984 – Since Yesterday, Strawberry Switchblade
1985 – New Model Army, Better Than Them
1986 – Go Wild (My Son), Culture Shock
1987 – The Kiss, The Cure
1988 – Def Con One, PWEI
1989 – Gouge Away, The Pixies
1990 – Borderline, RDF
1991 – Movin’ On Up, Primal Scream
1992 – Fifteen Years, The Levellers
1993 – Teenage Turtles, Back to the Planet
1994 – Poison, The Prodigy
1995 – Black Steel, Tricky
1996 – Trigger Hippie, Morcheeba
1997 – Torn, Natalie Imbroglio
1998 – When I Grow Up, Gabage
1999 – Californication, Red Hot Chilli Peppers
2000 – Bohemian Like You, Dandy Warhols
2001 – Superstylin’, Groove Armada
2002 – Hurt, Johnny Cash
2003 – Mr Brightside, The Killers
2004 – The Day the Nazi Died, Chumbawamba
2005 – Heartbeat, Jose Gonzalez
2006 – Roscoe, Midlake
2007 – Glory Box, St Ettiene
2008 – Fool’s Gold, Stone Roses
2009 – Only Living Boy in New Cross, Carter USM
2010 – Make it Rain, KLF... not sure what happened at the end here.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Random I... pencil

I'm With Rutger (2)

By Cope but once the fog rolls back it can be jolly warm. There was with so much to offer only so much work to be done today. Best of the morning, but the other side of the valley beckoned. It’s nicer over there, whereas here it was mining and so now fells and heath over there even the lost colliery makes for but an interesting, leafy and rather lovingly reclaimed corner of the Shire. What with its la-de-da hedgerows and rolling green fields, sheep and Bag End it was all I could do to keep to but the one ice cream. I tell you, those twelve course third lunches can take it out of you.
But halfway there and running alongside the river is the A66. There’s even (and not far) a lay-by. I was  >this < close to sticking out my thumb. Hitch a ride to pretty much anywhere. Well anywhere south. Though now an older prospect for the road as I’ve earlier noted, once I hitched and pretty much everywhere. Never have I lived anywhere so easy to hitch to and from. A decent road, the main one going across the county, an A road and only ten minutes walk away. We can’t hear or even see it from either Little Mordor (here) or the Shire, as described across the way. Compared to hitching out of London, and well...
...where once it was a good mile up from Richmond to go west. And don’t think I lived anywhere near Richmond, ever. And then most things were west. Once and long ago and in company with a comparable Swede and a lovely but useless baby Goth we lost our tent on the way to Twyford Down. I say we, it was my tent – actually not even my tent, but my girlfriends – and it was the baby Goths simple task to carry, nurture and when necessary feed the tent. He left it in the back of one our lifts. In Fleet Services. It’s always Fleet Services. The weather was not like this. It snowed that night and we in a bender on the cold ground that saw a good dozen people piled together like steaming worms just to see the night out till morning. In this my dear friend the Swede and I were aided by having spent three hours in the pub. To sleep at least.
Next day and I hitched down to Bournemouth where I bought another tent and hitched back with a lift from a pair of joy riders in a very fast Merc. I carefully did not touch much.
It’s looking like summer and the year is sprinting by, and I can’t just hitch away on a whim as I once would have done.
I just wish someone would.     

Friday 8 April 2011

The Mark (of our secret Lizard Overlords), and Magnus Pike

You’ll see the above nearly everywhere in England. It might be on the side of any old building, whether in the smokiest city or the loneliest heath. Where there are no buildings they’ll be stones. And where there are no stones there are now very old people sat on benches with the same stamped on their chest like a prize cow at market. It’s popularly been thought for some time that these are benchmarks, indeed that which lends its name to anyone who thinks a conversation is the jumbled spittle of what anyone else said, ever. Used by surveyors whose uniform conveniently included a very tall copper hat, none survived their first thunderstorm to say otherwise. It’s a convenient sort of truth, and people like such things, easy made-up stuff like flying saucers, Ethel Merman and Tuesday.
I spent quite some time knowing the common explanation was rubbish, but not knowing what was otherwise. And I still don’t, not entirely. Only note that if you piss on one after the pub’s shut it will zap you like a small boy in a nylon library. It’s probably been left there by our secret lizard overlords. And this being the case let me be the first to congratulate them on David Icke. You couldn’t make him up. Or you could, like Magnus Pike*.
*He’s dead! Twenty years I’ve just found out. Who’s going to buddy up with Heinz Wolff and Dan Cruickshank to find the miracle weapon needed when the evil lizard overl...**
**Oh, of course.        

Thursday 7 April 2011

Paul the Interweb

This is Paul. Paul is my internet provider.
Settled as we are now in Tolly Maw and with Scratchwood demanding ever more daily updates (I have been playing the solitary since my eldest sprout Catnip has become increasingly unwell) it has become necessary to make with the means local. For the internet then this is Paul. Formerly the post master, Paul came to the Maw too when much younger than I. Indeed he fled scandal having been as a smoother limb a telegram boy. Whenever a judge or jotting playwright was caught taking delivery of a certain parcel, that certain parcel was near always Paul.
Paul is a broken tap of stories, and there am I without a plumb I listen (as do most), for Paul is also and by experience Tolly Maw’s prostitute. By charter we have to have one, and the one we have is Paul. Business was not good scant years ago, but it was the internet that has saved Paul, just as he taking on the role of provider has unfortunately led to the closing of one of the village shops. It could not compete with the internet, Paul, who took about it with petrol and a rope lighter he took from a dead German.
But Paul is not the young bravo he once was. He is no longer a fierce demon on his bicycle and so at times our service is slow. This itself is but hopefully posted, and he having peddled to Broken Bridge to shout down the public phone and thus have it as we hope, here. So thank you Paul, and to Tony too who with his suitcase-radio ensures that Tolly Maw quite against reputation does indeed have one mobile phone.  

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Random I... pencil

My Name Is Lynyrd

I’ve been having a Lynyrd Skynyrd day. A day when with the weather trying to turn I’ve been wailing along to Simple Man and Tuesday’s Gone, and by Van Zant it’s been a while! All of this whilst working but with a random bang on the CDs and without much looking a sudden perkiness as the guitars do what guitars do best.
Now musically I never got much beyond the early 90s, the reason for this being the bloody 80s (my teenage years) when I had to retreat to the 70s for fear of synthesiser insanity. But Karma was not cruel and knew this, so right when the greebo, crusty and rave cultures blew up on us I was the exact right age. I never knew then how lucky I was. All the festivals, all the gigs. Everything was just bloody marvellous. Levellers, PWEI, Carter and enough of lists but note that even the pop bands were Elastica, Blur and St Ettiene. There was trip-hop and energy and fuck me, what a time to be twenty one! But before this and still within me there’s Led Zep and Jethro Tull, Rush and all the other wailing willies that everyone of any real spirit liked too – I mean, Led Zeppelin, the great leveller right? But that which was mine, mine it seemed alone and oddly so too were the Eagles, Lyrnyrd Skynyrd and hell, even the Beach Boys. And again, it’s been a while.
These songs are old photos I’d forgotten I’d ever taken of friends I’d barely recalled. This was me as a teenager, so it wasn’t all bad. And when I was in America in the 80s I was tagged (wrongly) as shop lifting some Skynyrd, and happily for the story being the South I got to meet the actual big-fat-sheriff and he did (yes) stick a gun in my face. And no, he didn’t give me three steps. Not three steps mister, not three steps t’wards the door*.
So today was a redneck day. Moz and I used to have better ones, where we'd drink and shoot groceries - but today was still a redneck day and bring it on summer, I’m ready for you. So, I just might have to write me a list of everything bad I've ever done and one by one make up for all my mistakes. I’ll just try to be a better person.
My name is Alan.  
*Skynyrd humour.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Last Of The Breakfast Glee Club

Possibly in a reaction to a middle-aged woman (not-Buffy-actress Jennifer Garner) being cast as Miss Marple old people everywhere are feeling smug with the announcement that the remake of The Breakfast Club is to star amongst others Compo from Last Of The Summer Wine. Compo (forced to retire from the hit series upon the death of actor Bill Owen) is set to play the role made famous by Judd Nelson in 1985, that of blow-dried criminal John Bender.

With the first of the publicity shots released this week (that above showing Cleggy as the ‘Brain’, Foggy as ‘Athlete’ and Nora Batty as ‘Princess’) Hollywood has been forced to lash out on a bag of chips to employ real writers to write real plots. The remake has already caused outrage amongst fans of John Hughes’ seminal work when it was revealed that whereas in the angsty original five disparate high-school kids bond through unlikely hash smoking and sexual harassment, in the 2011 version old people fall down hills in bathtubs.
Already anticipating success Fox have announced a reboot of hit TV series Glee, this time starring Blakey out of On The Busses being given wedgies by Battery Sergeant Major ‘Shut Up’ Williams from the 1970s BBC comedy It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, of which Glee is itself a modern reboot.
Oh therefore, the irony. 

Monday 4 April 2011

Salisbury Bone Trinket Market and Poultry Cross


An answer taught to young children by their parents and which when in later years is returned fivefold, never wears out. But here and an answer, with this picture, of why Salisbury is the most wonderful of places and the more to me for being so long absent. Salisbury is an attractive city, mocked quite literally by anywhere that wishes it had so much history in every brick, side by side and getting the same tan.

This is the Poultry Cross, the last of the four that marked the marketplace and markets are why cities like Salisbury are cities at all. Not too hard a think to get you to what was sold here, initially in 1307 and then improved to much of what you see now a century or three later. Across where the library is now was once the Cheese Cross, forming another point the Corn Market and last and not far from the Magic Lantern previously described, the Bone Trinket Mark. This last where the night market was raised, and every stall there allowed from sunset to rise but with all goods ‘of no manne’. What this meant was that goods typically stolen and often from miles around came here and could be sold, but also had to be guarded. It became after the initial run of dire murder and oddly inappropriate market lews (rules) rather organised.Given the nature of the Church in England it will come as no surprise to many that it was the Bishop of Salisbury that took over. His men kept the peace, or rather were paid what amounted to protection money to ensure that stolen, smuggled and bloody-fingered wares could be fenced in peace.

The Bone Trinket was also a cross, one of wood that marked the centre (now a Taxi park) of that market and which contained a relic, a finger bone of the Breton Knight Mensonges. This was within a year stolen and sold, and don’t we love the imps of irony for that! The name however stuck, even after the market was swept away like so much under the rule of Oliver Cromwell.   

Sunday 3 April 2011

Random I... pencil

Standing At The Edge, Het schip van de Werelddwaas

'We sail my gentle heren, on unlikely seas and without a living wind to drive us. This swoop, this Werelddwaas, our hated lover impossible to discard, such cruelty our passion. Our love an old and terrible thing. Pin mould on velvet stockings. You are with us, tempted. Your concerns drive us. Our ship, our slattern Werelddwaas so grand and proper. Already you can smell that slippery odour, of regretful oils and fever-sweat. Our Werelddwaas so tightly dressed here without and see with my back turned upon her - she eyes you.

'Can she take you to where you wish my gentle heren? Ah but yes, and places you have ill-considered too, alone and thoughtful and all awake whilst others sleep. Come, come – step up and across or else aside we call here only for your need. These tides that move us not at all will turn and then without us. Come, come my gentle heren? All is warm this side of sleep. Bathe in our delight. You are so bright, so brittle. So wonderfully alive. Come, come my gentle heren. Sweet as bad wine and old as good cheese, my love my Werelddwaas has room for another.'

Saturday 2 April 2011

Bromley, Sundown & Bloody Mudder

It was the latter half of the 80s and just as I’ve lived in many places, I also lived and for a couple of years here. Here is Bromley, Upper Park Road where the rents there now would turn the milk in your tea if left too close to the monitor but then and it was, of course, a shit hole. Or our flat was. Or rather the company flat, intended so that all the part-timers that worked the weekend had somewhere to stay and where we – we mostly being Lurch and I, stayed longer, and for rent. Working the weekend for £15 a day and with rent of £40 week left less with which to eat that if we had just plain slept in the bins. Indeed we might as well have because at the tender ages of eighteen and twenty-one housekeeping was not top of our agenda. Not that we had an agenda. In one case agendas were probably fascist, for the other agenda meant girls - of which there weren’t enough, though actually we didn’t do too bad.

So poor and hey, ever after the same but here so poor that we didn’t eat. We must have I suppose because we didn’t die but mostly I think because we ate at the weekends and with twenty odd people staying Friday to Sunday there’d be change in a few usual places if we hunted hard enough. The local chip shop gave up double portions. The little corner shop much the same. Thin I was and hungry eyed. So with no money, none – what did we do?

We gamed. We gamed like no one ever had before. For two years we gamed during the week and worked running games at the weekend. There was DTalos, there was Bond and there was an awful lot of Sundown. Because Sundown didn’t even have rules and man, rules were probably fascist in one case, or what posh people ate their cheese in for the other. Sundown was a fanzine thing. A play-yourself-happy affair connived and plotted by Rob and Simon over slightly warm beer and probably between skiffle at the Bacchus. It was then a written work for fanzines. But we weren’t tortured artists in Bromley. We were bloody hungry mostly, and thin. So we played or rather everyone else played – I ran it – and at the weekends we played it some more and there were something like thirty players at one stage. Which was nice as it was hungry work running games, and mine’s a haddock and chips, chicken and mushroom pie, and a savaloy.

We played games and all the time in this flat where putting rubbish out was an effort (also, probably fascist) with other people living with us, or just stopping over for the summer, or bunking off work for a week or so. We bought potatoes, ate the potatoes, went back and cooked up the peelings. We didn’t go to the pub because we had no money and that was for me all in future, and indeed as it happens then the past. We never put the rubbish out and the heating was always on, so we had pets.

And that was us for two years. And being young that would have seemed a bloody long time even had we known. Then Lurch had to move out so that company folk could move in – whom we all therefore hated and believe me this was not a time in our lives where we politely refrained from anything, Politely refraining was after all, probably, fascist. They would hide in their room and argue and outside like tribes sniffing lambs blood we waited. They had as far as we were concerned caused Lurch to leave. So we hated them. And we didn’t play games all the time any more.

Then one day this new pair came out, late at night and doubtless thirsty once we’d cut off the water to their radiator. So we ate them in lumps boiled tender in a bean tin on the cooker, and very nice they were too.

What did they expect? As I’m sure I mentioned, thin we were and so very hungry.     

Friday 1 April 2011

Standing At The Edge, Sabra Cadabra

‘There is no Sabra Cadabra. There is no myth and the stories that lie do not lie well. There is no Sabra Cadabra and there she does not watch us with her smile. They tease you. There is no Sabra Cadabra and she was never of the Arlechhino. These are not the Graf’s crows. Put from your mind the old velvet of tiny waistcoats. There is no old gold, there is no Sabra Cadabra.’

‘There is no Sabra Cadabra and she will not stand so close whilst you sleep that her raindrop breath makes gemstones on your cheeks. She is not found amongst the tallest rooftops remaining, where examples have never been made. This city does not like the workings of a clock, turn. There is no Sabra Cadabra, move along.’

‘There is no Sabra Cadabra. There is no pain, there is no glass, There is no blade of grass. Be careless as you pass. Move then if short, along. There is no show, it is not about to start. There is no evil. There is no Karn. He is not numbered. There is no Sabra Cadabra.’