Sunday 31 July 2011

Hawkmoon The Musical

The Lyceum looks set to open next Saturday with the Lloyd Webber latest – The Beastly Lords of Granbretan. A musical adaptation of Mike Moorcock’s Hawkmoon series previews suggest that whilst the source material and even story seems to have been adhered to (albeit and understandably compressed) how well that adapts is music is less certain. There are pieces from rehearsals to be found on the net and I’m not sure how I feel about such lines as ‘My German love’s flame lances to my heart’ and ‘Oh Baron Meliadus such a naughty wolf, take me, make me Eva to your Adolf’ (sic). Actually I’m not at all unsure how I feel about such lines. I know exactly how I feel.
It’s nothing like Hawkwind. The Chronicles of the Black Sword was the first proper, big venue big gig I went to. I’d seen all manner of weird blues, skiffle and banjo bands in the likes of the old Bacchus bar in Bournemouth (qv) but being whilst a teen thin, long-haired and hungry then of course Hawkwind were very important. Led Zeppelin important. Illicit pint important. Panting, urgent fumbling important. Important enough certainly that my first big gig being Hawkwind and Elric was breath-losingly, shakingly-excited, arrive four hours early in bloody Guildford exciting. And it was great, it was brilliant, it was in a way as with many things too, a little life changing.
I hope the same is true of The Beastly Lords of Granbretan, but I doubt it will. But I won’t know because I won’t be going. So I won’t see Michael Ball as Baron Meliadus or Jedward as Dorian Hawkmoon. I can’t even remember the name of the winner of last year’s Quest For Yisselda on ITV, but she’ll be in it you would have thought. They’ve got Rickie Gervais as Huillam D’Averc, and Ron out of Harry Potter as Oladahn.
Joe Pasquale is playing Count Brass. I’ve changed my mind, this I have to see. Joe Pasquale evil-goblin-voiced winner of I’m A Celebrity is taking a break from The Price Is Right to squeak out such immortal lines as ‘We ride, we ride on Granbretan! With my big pointy sword and brassy tan’, and ‘I am neutral, I am brutal and my two brass balls are fruitful’.
And aren’t all our two brass balls at that?   

Friday 29 July 2011

Space 1999 Troofers

Astronauts. Apparently.

Conspiracy loonies have been given a colourfully wrapped package today with the Government’s announcement in answer to accusations that the moon did not get blasted out of orbit back in 1999. For twelve years now a lobby growing throughout the internet has sought to demand answers regarding the disaster when Moonbase Alpha after nuclear waste stored there apparently exploded on September 13th of that year blew it out of orbit. Despite the advanced Eagle shuttles, knuckle-duster lasers and a foxy shape-shifting Catherine Schell not even retro flared trousers and a lot of plastic could seemingly prevent the catastrophe. Blasted into a universe almost entirely composed of absolutely nothing the astronauts and scientists of Moonbase Alpha enjoyed more weekly adventure than a rich man with a chocolate cock until after two seasons they passed beyond reception range. Or something.
Long have Moonbase troofers scoffed at the events as portrayed, pointing for instance at the moon, in the sky, each night and denying common knowledge of its being either a weather balloon or marsh gas, much to the agreement of men that need to shave their backs and women with brooms throughout the west country.
Today though and under mounting pressure the Government has announced that they ‘never said any such thing, at all,' on the subject and that 'the moon is up there, in the sky, look’. Conspiracy site Utterarsewater has since in the face of Government admittance that the moon is still where it always was has demanded an explanation into where the moon has gone, whilst providing four pieces of evidence to suggest that Space 1999 was faked.
Government Minister Tim Eggme had since declined to comment further. 

Wednesday 27 July 2011

The Tilda Cuckoos

I can’t help it, I worry.
That’s pretty much what I do now, worry, and now the school’s have turned our all the more so. For I worry about my sprouts as I hear them play because I know that the sound is that of starlings mobbing a cat.
Seven years ago and Tolly Maw (I discover from Michael the post master) saw every woman and a shop window mannequin fall pregnant. Born in the usual fashion and much to everyone’s delight the children were healthy, quiet and apart from the sound of the BBC radiophonic workshop using a theremin* whenever they caught one another’s eyes, all then was well. I did wonder on taking my sprouts to their new school at the universal stark white hair and burning eyes of the year between them, but you don’t like to ask do you?
I worry now because it’s our first summer here and the sprouts out and playing, are playing with these children. Children whose growing similarity to the crowds of sticky Tilda Swintons weighing down the telephone wires is hard to ignore. As the children play the Tildas most uncharacteristically bellow. Like fat mothers stuffing burgers through the fences of a school within a mile of Jamie Oliver they bark, they call, their bones rattling and their eyes setting small fires amongst the bus tickets and ration coupons that still blow about the high street. I see now why the Tildas gathered a month or three ago, these virulent cuckoos with claws of Prada chitin and sharp teeth of new urinal porcelain, still wrapped.
With such do my sprouts play. 
But it’s not my daughters screams I can hear. It’s their laughter.
*Look it up.  

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Run Fat Boy, Run!

I went for a run the other day, two runs indeed and it’s been quite some time since I’ve done that. This time last year I couldn’t walk (or sleep, or do much but complain about the gout and painfully whisk at the flies with a zebra-tail duster whilst I shouted at the houseboy for fresh daiquiri). Then I was on a stick and of late I’ve been walking again. The other morning then and early enough to greet bakers getting up and murderers going to bed when walking I started to run. I used to run in school, but in school then there were blackboards and a teacher that drank gin in a teacup, so it’s been a while. That morning it was brief run but I went later to the nearest town, always half-flooded Stilbourne and there sought out a running shoe, even two.
Well I’m not sure if the fashion is very early or we’re just very late but the last time I’d seen a shoe like it the thing had been upon a Spice Girl. Silver with yellow decoration I was forced to ask ‘Is there perhaps something a little more masculine?’
There was it seemed, not.
I still ran home, only three miles with a half mile warm down and I felt great although I felt great in plimsolls. They’re not called plimsolls but they’re what I wear in the sun and let me tell you, they might have been cutting edge in 1920 but so were cinder tracks (and smoking cured bullet wounds). I will look again, another time, but soon I hope because with such shoes I fear that forgetting my shorts I shall be forced to go for a run in my pants.
I thought also to run in company and there is a starters club. I see them sometimes. The slimmest of them looks to be Baron Harkonnen, and he can cheat, what all that flying about on his suspensors. But who knows and soon the fells of Tolly Maw may shake to the flap of our plimsolls. The Baron Harkonnen, Friar Tuck, Mr, Pickwick – and I.    

Monday 25 July 2011

Summer, Larks, and Smelly Girls

It’s the first day of the school summer holidays here in Tolly Maw, the Monday – not the Friday before which was just a Friday. I woke earlier than everyone perhaps more excited than the sprouts who mostly enjoy school anyway. But I as I sat with my tea and a list of things to-do for work I was excited for them.
I used to spend the whole year just waiting for this Monday. Because school was just rubbish frankly, annoying and in hindsight those five years of physics, geography and maths could have been better spent on languages, and car maintenance, or bunking off a lot more. Even taking aside that I was already hitching all over the country and hanging with people comparative to then a lot older than I, even when younger I sort of knew school was just... rubbish. I went to a modern junior school they’re already knocking down and a modern comprehensive school that was rotting even then.
I did okay, sort of just in the top sets because like a class system – oh, actually, aha – I just sort of was. I had better things to do, better places to be, better books to read and better things to write, and draw. Hell, school managed to make Lord of the Flies and Great Expectations bloody awful, and they’re both cracking stories (I later discovered). But when young and today, yes it was hot, it was summer, and there were six weeks without homework I didn’t have to pretend somehow to have done.
But here in Tolly Maw the school is old, it smells of chalk and floor polish that no one makes any more and they would still cane the children had not my own Catnip and Bosswell led a series of hilarious rebellions using flour and lacrosse sticks. There are only two teachers for everyone from four to eleven, one year only has two pupils. The first teacher smokes woodbines, and the second is Lionel Jeffries. The only reason there’s a new surface on the playground is to hide the last Ofsted inspection though I’m pleased to see that with punch cards they are teaching my girls the rudiments of computer science.
So with thoughts of soap box carts and apple scrumping I never myself did I finished work only to see that my girls were not skinning their knees so much as playing with their dollies in the garden. If I built a club house they wouldn't be able to come in. Bosswell at least is showing promise with a catty but Catnip the little love is girlier than a pink unicorn with a candyfloss perm. I love her dearly but I still pushed her into a muddy puddle.
Because I’m a ghost-pirate-highwayman. And girls smell.   

Sunday 24 July 2011

The Amy Winehouse Experience

It’s sad and I never knew her of course, but I’ll raise a glass to Amy Winehouse. I can’t imagine there’re many people out there that disliked her work. You don’t have to be a basement-cold fan of jazz or blues to appreciate that like so much found in those genres then like it or not, you have to admit there’s real talent, real skill there. So cheers Amy, you were brilliant and now you’re immortal, you will no longer age, because if we did not actually know you then you and your music are no different to us today than they were a week ago.
Everyone is here for but a brief flare of the match, your own burned brighter than most.
You were great.
‘You think so?’
I do. She was a blues singer not Binky from pop act Popz! She was not a role-model, she had no one to let down, and she let no one down and it’s awful that I’ve already read now that she deserved it, or people have no sympathy because it was... blah, blah, blah. She was young, she was successful quickly and in these times of Celebrity, again, a real talent. Amy Winehouse does not deserve our pity, especially self-satisfied pity that if only she had gone to work in a bank...
‘Ah,’ Mme Roux is not convinced. I can understand that. But she knows me very well, better than myself sometimes. Roux is her married name (though she has no husband). She says, ‘and what then will this experience teach you?’
‘That life is fleeting, not for wasting. Not for squandering, and not when it comes to one's self – for compromising.’
She fetches from a choir master's satchel a white skullcap. Fitting it she raises a boy-scout salute, and very Polish says, ‘Here endeth the lesson.’
Cheers girl.  

Friday 22 July 2011

Badgers, Bailiffs and the Wild, Wild Wood

The bailiffs are going into the Wild Wood next tuesday. Legislation has been passed regarding badgers and few people surely can believe that it’s not ultimately aimed at the wood. Given the tax raised on baseball caps and narrow, nasty little faces the Government can’t move against the weasels so they’ve chosen to attack their bigger, more determined cousins and the most outspoken of them all, Bill Badger.
Raised in Nutwood the Badgers were held under suspicion of being badgers by UNIT when during the early 50s the notorious Trufflehunter plagued upright England and whose exploits later formed the blueprint for Freddie Forsyth’s first novel, Day Of The Badger. Perhaps it was because of this early scrape with terror, torture and big-springed traps that saw Bill become such a proponent of Woodland Rights in the 60s. The great-grandson of Squire Badger whose ancestral and rather musty home he now occupies the papers had a field day given the very obvious differences between the leader of the Black Snouts in the 30s, and the then proclaimed ‘spring water socialist’, Bill.
Personally I think it’s going to make the Toad Hall Revolution look like Farthing Wood. So you know, good luck with that bailiff-boys.    
Picture, Bryan Talbot.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Pencil, New Title Piece (1)

Start of a piece specific to Slide23. None have been so until now. More as more is.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Quick Loans at Lucifer, Razors and Agghgh!

Are you having trouble paying your bills? A week short of payday and the leccy needs sorting? You could just ring them up and they’ll just wait a week. Are you the sort of handsome, reliable chap that just needs a couple of hundred quid, no questions asked? You might be, but we’re not really aiming any of this at you.
No here at Lucifer, Razors & Agghgh! We’re rather more interested in you lot that deciding you deserve giant, mink fur cars and holidays in gold beds have run out of absolutely every credit card, ever, and have already sent us your gold for a fraction of the price that we probably sold it to you for in the first place.
Somewhere at the bottom of this page is a really long number that we made up until we actually ran out of numbers and we call that the ‘interest’. It isn’t at all, interesting. It didn’t sleep with a footballer, or indeed played football. Don’t worry about that. But give us a ring and within a week you will owe us your house, your car, all your children, the loan you’ll have to take out – with us – your smart phone, your other smart phone, your rather ironic phone and really, who needs four phones? This one has a camera? And your camera.
Then Mr Razors will peal you, literally, with scouring pads, for laughs. We will feed you puppies, manky puppies, and again we will laugh. Oh how we will laugh! We will laugh and you will watch us because we will have fed your eyelids to two kittens we’ve shaved, their ears already sewn to one another. Your kittens, or what the hell - your parents. We’ll dig them up, well you will. With your bloodied, skinless hands. Unable to weep because remember – eyelids.
Ring now or go online, nice laptop, pad, whatever the hell it is.
Lucifer, Razors & Agghgh!
Real lawyers, just not real people.
You imbeciles.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Robin of Sherwood, and Uma Thurman (is the BFG)

Michael Praed, Robin of Sherwood

It’s been ages since I’ve had cause to visit the post office, and here in Tolly Maw it also fulfils the role of strange corner shop. You can’t buy a newspaper but you can buy magazines, albeit none that you’d want to, and honestly even here I cannot imagine who would. No one clearly, as if any of them are dust collector periodicals then there’s a hell of a free gift on the cover. You can buy turnips but not potatoes, waffles but not chips. There’s an indeterminate chop but no bacon, and though there is rack upon rack of sweets they’re all liquorice. And of course a little counter where set a yard back from the sill is our post master. Our post master is Michael Praed who once robbed from the rich with the eyes of a puppy , pictures above in the defining role as Robin of Sherwood.
Now and way back then we would all tumble hurriedly into my then Bromley flat to watch Robin of Sherwood (and to begin with quite possibly in black and white). Cheap though it was then still it knocks spots off absolutely every other version that has followed it. Even the one where Uma Thurman disguises herself as a man by the simple expedient of showing everyone her giant hands and collosal, flapping feet. The tabloid press seethed at the first series by oddly showing again, and again the same picture of Robin and Marian sharing the first lesbian kiss in a mainstream show on British terrestrial television. We loved its heroics, the stories, and Ray Winstone scowling his way through script after script without either, a) shooters, or b) motors.
Praed’s career moved on after RoS, through playing a feminine Prince in Robin of Dynasty. He played Beth in Robin of Brookside. In Stephen Poliakoff’s The Tribe, Praed courted further controversy by taking part in a threesome with just Jonathan Rhys Myers and himself.
And now here, our post master – and in a cage. He can only serve women when dressed in a one-piece rhino-hide biotoxin suit. He has to hand them any change with big, wooden washing tongs. Getting on as he is then whilst he no longer has to worry about getting pregnant any woman that watches Robin of Sherwood, still he has to be very careful being in the same room as them. He’s currently being hassled by Matt Groening after Praed watched Futurama and got Leela with twins – and she's a cartoon.
I asked about Guy of Gisborne, for a laugh. Turns out lung cancer got him in 2003. I didn’t know and I still feel sad now hearing of it. So perhaps it’s fitting to show a picture of Guy too, it might help the fact that having looked at the picture at the top of this article – you’re now pregnant.
Yeah, you are.

Monday 18 July 2011

The Battle Of Sandbanks

Pictured. 'Red' Rob, 'Bespoke' Taylor, myself, Captain Lindsay.

Today marks the anniversary of the Battle of Sandbanks, when young and foolish we signed up at Bournemouth pier and set forth as members of the 23rd Wallisdown Pedalo Partisan, the still notorious ‘Tea Shirts’. Not for us White Hawk’s green, nor most certainly Mosley’s black, we were proud and our knees were shiny, and we drank tea. Or I did. Mostly and my fellow Tea Shirts rather preferred coffee. But beverages notwithstanding and it was for us to pedal to Sandbanks and there like pirates storm ashore. So not like pirates at all, who notoriously would actually storm in quite the opposite direction.
Most of you won’t remember the politically charged days of the 30s. I being then so young could hardly have claimed to understand them myself. I just liked the cricket and the wizard that was the wheeze as then when singing and larking we grounded our corporation pedalos and rushed ashore, caught here atop Sandbank’s only dune. There we paused whilst not possibly knowing of Frank Herbert, we said ‘muad'dib’ in a variety of funny voices. Most of us anyway, but not Robert (who did not then nor does now, do voices). Indeed it was Red Rob that urged us on after only pausing for the best of the photographs, and a comparison amongst ourselves of our broom-handle mausers.
Before lunch we had taken Silvester Hall. Before tea we had been expelled. But not downhearted we laughed as pursued by an inaccurate Lewis gun we hastened back to Bournemouth, and the Gander On The Green where despite my powder-flecked face and revolutionary zeal people had to sneak me pints of cider as I was terribly, terribly underage.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Dutch To Win (War)

You might have heard about the recent updates to the Geneva Convention – the rules of war ratified by most but not quite-yet by a surprising participant or two. Ever since Vietnam showed us that horror is a lot better with a funky soundtrack there now is to be a new stipulation that every western nation is to have its own theme song.
The reasons for this are twofold it seems. Just as the news media need to report it, they also have to keep to their advertising scheduling. Secondly and whilst presently different sides are agreeably managing to stay looking different this all falls apart in the event of a conflict between any two nations that both have Apple stores. With only minor differences in uniform, equipment, tanks and sunglasses the news media is concerned that no longer will each side be easily told apart. Much like if in sport both teams wore the same uniform. Like cricket, or golf, or ten-pin bowling.
To satisfy both problems then and soon the armed forces of all signatory nations will operate only under backing tracks. This allows advertisers to know when the commercial break will come up (when the music stops), and whilst the idea of going back to the colourful team strips of the Napoleonic era was rejected, then the backing track will show who is who when the camera is upon them.
All well and good and since at 2.02 minutes long all of Scandinavia can go and have a beer once Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song finishes, it’s not quite so handy for others. Britain that had planned originally to conduct operations to the sound of Blur’s Song 2 are now frantically scrambling about for an alternative since Damon Albarn refused to compromise his anti-war beliefs. It looks very much like Her Majesty’s Armed Forces will be left in talks with former pop-sensation Steps.
No word has come from France, though doubtless it will be a massively popular work of cultural significance that no one will have heard of. Germany at first were thought to have enlisted the aid of Einsturzende Neubauten, but pulled a clever double-bluff ambush by going for the obvious, and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn. But at 22.43 Germany will still be left having to cease fire whilst for seventeen seconds longer Holland will get to chuckle as the last bars of Supper’s Ready by Genesis end any conflict in time for Meercats ironically injecting a little 70s style idle xenophobia into everyone’s day on the subject of car insurance.
Though strictly speaking Supper’s Ready only clocks in at 22.53 the Dutch have made no secret of their planned delaying tactics whereby they will get there seven seconds late, thus really, really annoying the Germans.
And me. Because for fuck’s sake.    

Friday 15 July 2011

The Clink Liberty

Established in the 12C then a competitor for the capital's oldest gaol is surely The Clink Liberty. Earlier still and our old and dear friend the Bishop of Winchester (when he was not through the centuries overseeing his brothels, theatres or teasing his trained rats with their tiny, clever hands) had the very place for putting clerics that displeased him. Presumably clerics not especially keen on such local industry as murdering people for their shoes. The Clink then was raised and did very well by itself until a slight hiccup during one of the many rambles-by of the London Mob when in the 15C it was broken open, set alight and presumably for a while there were shoes for all.
It’s still there though now as an attraction for gawkers and self-gropers disappointed that earlier having turned up to Bedlam to laugh at the maniacs they found instead much less capering in what is now the Imperial War Museum. Escorted here by their hide-waistcoated gaolers then (and with a surreptitious loss of a five pound note, they accept no substitute) the unwary might see the upper levels. There and toiling still, crying for bubbly water to sip and tiny, tiny trousers into which to squeeze are the fallen-fashionista. No longer quite so young, nor quite so fabulous, caught and brought here in brocade sacks they toil to produce the prison-wares sold in the Clink Liberty shop in Regent Street. Where once prisoners might have unpicked tarred hemp rope to make caulking, or render the less fortunate down for tallow, now and more properly the Clink Liberty sees its guests work off their sentence with delicious print scarves and divine haberdashery.  

Thursday 14 July 2011

The Ageless Beauty of Elves

Ah, elves. Beloved of people who probably have sex with their cats, elves! The image of at best your granny sweeping about in a ball gown disturbs people not at all, well some people. It’s their otherworldly beauty of course.

Gah! Their wisdom, which like that of all old people will revolve mostly around hating the young and how much better things were in the good old days. This all-knowing and ethereal wisdom all presented by liquid voices (they echo in the bathroom) and an ageless...

...AH, no! Jesus! Slim as a panatela and dry as a Jacobs Cracker, who doesn’t like skinny smug people? Skinny, smug, old people with their soft, silent elven farts and that special kind of idle racism you encounter by surprise like pin mould in the jam you spread on your toast late the night before. But yes, of course, if not the elves then?

...AGH! Get some orcs, get some ORCS 

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Old Ink

From back when we would party like it was 1999. In 1999. We lost a Moonbase.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Kentish Town Vanishes (Gimme Two Steps)

I’m not entirely surprised to learn that Kentish Town station has vanished. It always did rather lurk behind the half-closed door. Even if discovered it only said boo very, very quietly. Its purpose for all I ever knew to act as the place where ghost trains called then nonetheless there, once upon a time, then all through the night the Thameslink ran. This was very important if you lived in Borehamwood and drank in Camden. Sometimes you have to be determined to go home and not stick yourself to a nasty sofa.
“You could have gone to your girlfriends?”
Mme Roux is fishing again. She really is, with a little rod and a baited worm over a bucket of Tequila.
“I wasn’t drinking with my girlfriend.”
She would have been at a rock club, doing rock things, with big hair and boots. Since rock was then very much not Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple that wasn’t my scene, man. And drinking in Camden with fine Swedes (those not just then, doing rockkkkk) meant a close station and home. But I would fall asleep and wake every two hours to see the ghost train pull out. Once I jumped up and the train actually stopped. Only person on it. Fell asleep again but managed by luck and falling off the chair to get off at the right station. “But it was so very far,” I say.
Mme Roux understands perfectly. This was before Big Brother took up residence in Borehamwood with its regular Friday Hate, Strength Through Celebrity and a high-heeled boot slipping in a pile of sick, forever. “How far?”
“A half mile perhaps, but a very long half mile. When drunk,” I say. It was too. I had to walk and it was an effort of pure will, each step staring at a reluctant para-boot. PWEI, Carter and Back To The Planet couldn’t help me here. Step by step and I had to get home before the sun rose. I dared not rest on bench or in doorway else that was me gone and meat for the Child Catcher. Vulgarian fuck.
“This story...”
I apologise. I’m reminded of it only because Kentish Town station has vanished and that tickles me. No one knows where it is and they’ve looked, though everyone knows it’s gone nowhere. I get home, I live in an upstairs flat. I crawl, I really do, step by step and manage to get through the door. There and I can actually see my bed. There are but two steps and both inside the door to navigate. “I woke up not long after with my spine the same shape as two steps.”
“Of course you did,” says Mme Roux.
She has a spare rod and together we share a stool and a bucket, and later on a catch.    

Monday 11 July 2011

Gaddafi The Barking Cat

Mad-as-ham dictator Muammar al’Gaddafi has seen the NATO strikes against his regime turned back as a result of public opinion today when he revealed that he could not help whatever he had done, because he is a cat. Gaddafi (named for Gaddafi The Barking Cat in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T.S Elliot) shot to power in 1969 when he led a bloodless coup against King Idris of Libya. The revolution was most popularly dramatised by Andrew Lloyd Webber. King Idris was not Welsh.
Now in context with his being a cat scenes of carnage are greeted with sighs of ‘Ahhhh, look at the evil kitty’. When evidence has come to light of torture this has now been put down to ‘playing’. Indeed, western governments look set to topple in the wake of it being found that bombs were dropped on an admittedly deranged cat, but a cat nonetheless. The British Prime Minister David Cameron today started to point out that for weeks now Gaddafi had been bringing half-dead rebels into the bedroom, until booed by the press revealed that his grandmother was a cat, and so too was his grandmother.
In a hastily arranged press conference just an hour ago, Gaddafi The Barking Cat announced to the world that he is ‘so wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully pretty’ and as such he invited all there to ‘go into the sea, you and me’. All these years and no one heard.
Then he ate a mouse. So you know, cat or lizard. Best ask David Icke.   

Sunday 10 July 2011

Well Oiled Triffids

An ill-conceived early night was ruined in the wee hours this morning by all the fighting. The Supreme Being And Templar doesn’t turf out much before 2am and being a Saturday all the local farms were in, then out in the dark and fighting. Slapping each other mercilessly (and largely pointlessly) it’s the Triffids that are the trouble after ten pints poured about the roots, shouted on by the wobbling tribe of smeared young women that just plain sprout in these fertile fields. Shouts of “E’s right in front’a yer, Dean!” and, “What did ‘e call yer, Darren? Clickity-clickity-click? Rip ‘is fahkin stamen aht!” echo still. The colour of uncooked chips half-coloured in luminous hi-lighter, the ungrateful children of feminism whose very name they’d spit on just want to see sap spatter the ground and fibrous stalks splinter.
John Wyndham never went into what would happen next. I liked that, just as I liked that we never really know where the Triffids came from. We didn’t need to then, although last night I would have quite liked them to bugger off back there.
Wyndham’s 1951 novel is a classic, and rightly so. Tight, well drawn and very well written. It’s been held up as the very example of Cosy Catastrophe, and I would respectfully disagree. This isn’t The Survivors where most people die and conveniently vanish. Where earnest nice people can roam the land living a lovely life all told without many nasty ruffians to interfere with their being fabulous in the country. I loved dystopian fiction as a boy and The Day Of The Triffids had a marked impact on me, at a very early age. It is after all about people, most not doing very well and indeed making a disaster, worse. Bill Masen is a long way from being an action-hero, although he’s competent enough. Rather like many people I suspect were in the late 40s when the novel was written.
Post war, my grandfathers worked on their own engines, sharpened their own tools, mended their own electrics, planted, built and made – and just plain got on with things. And they were both Londoners, one a working-class clerk and the other a middle-class something-in-an-office so neither especially engineers or farmers, neither by profession practical.
So maybe today and tired from being kept up half the night by first the fighting and then, worse, the coupling (where from the heath the tortured sounds of vixens are not foxes at all) it might be a Wyndham day.
Up here where I live on a hill. In the Lakes.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Quote, Jarvis (Editor of the News of The World) 'That just turns me on...'

Tomorrow sees the last edition of the News Of The World. Acquired in 1993 by The Guardian (and in effect thereafter it’s Sunday edition) the News Of The World was the first of the weekend rags to convert to the Berliner format, printed therefore since 2006 as a doughnut. The passing of the paper will be mourned by some not least it’s Editor Jarvis, of Soho. ‘I could hardly have supposed,’ he is quoted as saying in the lapping last waves of the scandal, ‘that times have changed so much. I mean, I don’t want to come all over like a high-court judge...’
The scandal coming about as a result of the finding in people’s closets of members of the News Of The World team...
‘...That would be just awful. I mean... coming... all over a... high-court judge.’
...Prying into the private conversations of others. Identified by their very long yet very thin penises, the bootlace-cocked journalists have warned that without the News of The World Elvis would be less likely to be found on the moon. Said to be very disappointed that Jarvis has been promoted rather than sacked, he is reported as answering such criticism, ‘...And that just turns me on.’
Such a disregard for civil liberties, privacy and the wilful assumption of purpose on the thinnest of evidence is illegal and the News Of The World faces criminal charges from the Government, who rightly claim that that is their job.
‘...I mean... all over...’

Thursday 7 July 2011

Boaz is his Washpot

We’re very literal here in Tolly Maw and that’s why our houses keep falling down. Mervyn’s did just this morning, ours untouched though they adjoin. The workers are still out there though they’ve made very little progress, in their aprons and sashes (and in some cases small bowler hats). Because if you want stonework done here then the Masons have that sewn up, albeit and less of them now than this morning.
I asked, as you do – especially if you’re a Mason – about all this guarding of the holy blood and the secrets of the ages. The Worshipful Master confessed with a sigh and on the level, that mostly what they did was raise money for the community. The village minibus for example. There’s not a devil amongst them and they very rarely plot at all. At which point two of them left, Oz and Wayne, black balling themselves though would later claim to have been hoodwinked. The first I hear only joined as he had on very good authority that Jayne Mansfield made the tea. Having lived everywhere and my Dad being dead I admitted when asked to being a travelling man, and that yes – I was a widow’s son.
‘So you don’t worship Bahomet?’ I ask.
‘And nor did the Templars,” says the Worshipful Master (in fact Ming the vicar I am pleased to say). But admitting this he loses a third, Moxey, to the pub. I confess I don’t know much about the craft other than the Security Service operating out of the big lodge in London – according to Spooks. I remember something about the old Goose & Gridiron being where they got together to unite but Worshipful Master Ming waves such off. ‘London...’ he says, his voice heavy with menace. Though note I've also heard him ask for a packet of wine gums in a voice heavy with menace so it’s hard to read anything into it
It’ll be dark soon and I’ve made them more tea. Mervyn’s cottage is still half rubble but after much ceremony Dennis and Barry use a small pulley to set one stone in place and with much ceremony. The tools they otherwise have look great for technical drawing in the 4th year O level (plus a trowel, but no cement).
We chat and the Worshipful Master Reverand Ming  points out that they publish the dates of their meetings in the Parish magazine, and they’re always at the Supreme Being And Templar pub. I’ve looked it up to and he’s right, it’s there in the Freemasons And Women’s Institute Section Tuesday 12th, Lodge Meeting. Agenda, Dan Brown Gets us Laid, Fund Raising, Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, The Abyss, Total World Domination, Character Generation, So Mote It Be.
‘Brotherly Love?’
Ming hisses and throws down the purple smoke. When it clears he is hurrying down the garden path.     

Wednesday 6 July 2011

The Bromley 80s Culture Reserve

It seems that Bromley in Kent is to be established as the first of a series of Sorta History preserves. With British culture and counter-culture both clearly defined in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even the 90s the crashing failure of the 00s to define itself other than by everyone in Parliament Stepford-like becoming Tony Blair (except Gordon Brown, and there’s the lesson) the same it has been decided cannot be allowed in the... whatever this decade is until the 20s. Given that history relates that the 20s is a time of Cthulhu horror resulting in a fear of paper, or slugs, or a mild tick about the eye this is probably a good thing.
Bromley then will preserve the 1980s. The high street will be returned to a state whereby every shop is either an Our Price records, or sell posters under the Athena label. Smoking in the cinema will be compulsory and everyone will eat at the Berni Inn. For entertainment and/or mockery there will be a Games Centre established in the basement of the Debenhams. Also, there will be a Debenhams. This in particular will demonstrate the unexpected social revelation that people in the 80s that had hobbies did get girlfriends, boyfriends, marry and have children – or if not children, then a lot of dancing instead. Scientists profess not to be baffled by this, they themselves generally having gotten married, or easily came out, and had all sorts of sex not involving drunken abuse or Patrick Bateman. Astonishing.
Hereafter locked in the 1980s Bromley High Street will serve as an education to visitors whose iPhones will be replaced by cheap, plastic Walkmans, a bag of ten pence pieces to make calls, and a Polaroid camera the size of a small breadbin. The borders will be patrolled by retired members of the Special Patrol Group, the Glades Shopping Centre is being removed to make way for a park and a worrying, much smaller mall the inside of which was where Bartertown was filmed for Beyond The Thunderdome.
This is not the first time such has been attempted of course. The exact same thing was done to Croydon three years ago – only no one noticed.

Monday 4 July 2011

Back on stage, Johnny Depp and Peter Chunt

Back on stage in a few days where by a miracle that could have only come from St. Cope himself something is going on here in Tolly Maw (or indeed the rest of the world) and at the very same time Q is not working. Half the week (and always Saturday) she’s out being bored silly as the Slayer. All well and good when you’re a teenager in your twenties, less so ten odd years later. It’s not like she should have to go out in slightly stacky heels kicking vampires in the face (she retired yonks ago) but the girl that took over found out she was a ‘Doll’ in a ‘Dollhouse’ and frankly never lived down the audible sigh of disappointment that reached as far as Mars two episodes in. It’s not that it’s a hard job slaying – round here all the vampires are real vampires and have back problems, comfortable cardigans and a dislike of the French dating back to the Peninsular War, in which they fought.
I digress just a little.
So, to perform! On stage, for lo it is lucky I had to dig out my big shirt for this is Wordsworth country and it seems I am to be again, a poet. I’m not very good at it because I don’t mope, but I love it. The others there will go on and in a voice of soft wonder introduce each piece. I will bound on as previously with such lines as ‘Yes I know what you’re thinking, Johnny Depp’s really let himself go’ before launching into a piece about poets, called Cheer Up. Either that or something I’ve been rubbing at for a while called Peter Chunt, which will disappoint because of all the rhyming.
But it will be wonderful, I will laugh and they will be too scared not to applaud. Why I could not say, last time I performed so there was a worrying man talking for ten minutes about how 'all cats are sluts, they always leave him, but inside they’re all the same colour'. That last by the way is true. As in truly true. I could scarcely walk from laughing so much. Also I’ll get to perform my winning piece from last year’s Campaign For Real Fear, which I’m sure could only go down better if I spent instead ten minutes demonstrating primal scream therapy live and uncut.
My light shines on, my light shines on, my light shines on.
I shall report. Oh my.

Now the only thing a gambler needs, is a suitcase and a trunk

I make that two things?

Sunday 3 July 2011

Burlington Bunker, Bramble Tea and Bernard Cribbins

For a teen in the 80s there were many constants. Politics touched everything to the shoreline and high water mark at least of popular music. Popular music was only that in the same way as pastel suits. Music was a rather subjective term. And we were probably going to die in Nuclear War. Great Uncle Condescending will nowadays look down his green-tinted aviator shades at the youth of today as they scoff at the idiocy of such an idea but there is no fate, history is not laid before us in stone and back then, yes, the Cold War from where we lay in bed could go hot and in a moment. For my parent’s generation there was Berlin (where my Dad worked) and the blockade or the face off in ’61, the Cuban Missile Crisis and of course Korea and Vietnam to name but the most famous that saw those born in WWII live through its extension. In the late 70s to the mid 80s things grew tense after a period of detente and in England we watched Threads, Edge of Darkness and A Very British Coup. In America Red Dawn was at the pictures and Reagan was in the White House.
And since 1961 and on its completion then under Corsham and a big wet lump of Wiltshire Burlington was open for business. Alternatively the Hawthorn Government War Headquarters, Stockwell and Turnstile it used former quarries as its base, expanded and wrapped in secrecy so as to dress itself inevitably with conspiracy theory and D Notice. Thirty-five acres, an underground town and as you can imagine – quite enormous enough to make the likes of Kingsway Exchange seem like rather dry beans indeed. By the early 90s it was not only decommissioned but effectively abandoned.
I include below the BBCs report on the place, and a visit by the ever excellent 28Days site. Both are rather out of date now as when I was last there a year or three back not only had the former entrances been disguised behind little drawbridges but the interior had been entirely dressed in layers of neatly-applied newspaper. The vast site about and atop it was remarkably clean of litter and the detritus of the years. Indeed and in the storerooms I found neatly catalogued hundreds of umbrellas, shores, picnic boxes and hats to name but a few. The workshop still seemed to be in use and the kitchens well stocked but with bramble tea, nettle jam and seed cake. The intercom system was still operational, taped announcements intact and recorded I was amazed to find by Bernard Cribbins.
It was all a very long way from Wimbledon Common.