Wednesday 31 August 2011

What we do (because we did)

I almost forgot, what with Q’s birthday yesterday and I’m only back now because if I don’t drive then some of those I know who do, do so fast. We had to, too – because I had to get back so as to be where I’d been, before.
“You can’t remember?”
I can’t. It’s been twenty years, more by a little and having a local as a guide you never really need to know a city. My German is worse now than then. I’m not sure which is when, then or now anyway. It’s been six hours since Tolly Maw and that’s still with Mme Roux cheating on the back roads because this is Berlin and I haven’t got a clue. I say, “Sorry.”
She winces with one eye, the other on the traffic. She’s drinking, which isn’t clever. A twenty-year malt laid down in about the same year as this. A quarter inch topped up with four of cola. Somewhere sensing this, friends of mine are aghast but don’t know why. The car’s a shark, one of the big, basking sort, all heavy wood interior and curling panels outside with an Athena or Britannia on the hood. Either, it’s too far away from the front seat to tell for certain. There’s no boozy smell to the shark, Mme Roux has terrible taste in cigarettes and they haven’t made her brand for ten years even here. She’s always smoking and I hardly ever notice her light up. She says, “We can’t stay long. I’ve got time to kill but my aims a bit shaky.”
Then, “There.”
There’s no jazz, but a room away plenty of techno. There are a lot of rather young people pretending to be bored so as not to seem awkward. They’re all rather thin, and they’re all rather pretty in that way that most will lose within days of putting aside such youthful things. The bar is doing slow business because everyone makes their bottles last. The labels have been scratched free from some still half full. My boots are older than everyone here just from the time they’ve spent with me. Mme Roux elicits more attention, everyone’s wicked aunty.
It’s 199something and I’m in this club with the Betty Blue and Jessica Cat another floor over. They’re dancing because they’ll dance to anything with guitars and amps and all the way up to eleven. Over there I’m thinking that I don’t know where I am, not exactly, and how far that not-exactly is from London. I don’t speak the language, much, and everything is just that little bit wrong. But I’m happy because this is something of a reunion. My girlfriend and her best friend, a friend of mine too now and we’re for several months three countries apart. Not so far away I can see that I don’t know that in a couple of months that will change and probably because of this weekend when we all met up, we three. Here in Berlin.
But over there and the me that was then is also skint. Mme Roux gave me a fold in the shark, a couple of hundred marks. And this is what I do. Because back then and on this night this stranger came up to me and said, and I say now too, “Look, have this, I don’t need it.”
And I now give me-then the money. It’s not a fortune but it’s quite enough to pay my way, for the week. And I take it as I did and I look at me, and here I am. This fat old fuck with his grey hair and beard, some old hippy and I give my young self a big, invincible grin. And Mme Roux is holding her watch, so I go and turn only to give myself the peace sign.
And it was great, I remember, back then in Berlin with two of my closest friends all so young. When this strange hippy came up in a club and gave me two hundred marks, just because. And it’s where being a bit of a bastard started to rapidly seem more like being a bit of a tool.
Mme Roux is in the shark and then there’s the horn. And then we’re away. And then. And then.

Julian Cope, and Julian Cope

It’s hard to argue with the success of shows such as Rome and Band Of Brothers and who isn’t excited by the news that filming has already begun by HBO on a ten part series based on the life of rock star, pop sensation and wizard Julian Cope? Grittier than sandpaper the biopic is set to explore Cope’s life in an admittedly disjointed fashion using more than twelve different actors for different stages of the life of the man once described by Aleister Crowley in his seminal work Beasts, Buttered Toast and the Teardrop Explodes as ‘he, he that shall come after, that true beast, this Arch Drood, on a Tuesday, some time in the afternoon, a wet one’.
Cope most famously known for sneaking about the countryside, lying on his side and taking pictures of rocks is an acknowledged expert on Neolithic man and his discovery that prehistorical humanity mostly worshipped Julian Cope. Most famous perhaps for his 80s hits Reward and World Shut Your Mouth Cope turned his back on the crass commerciality of the music industry to walk the land as a mystical vagabond in a pointy hat, in a Land Rover. The series is set to go back even further than this however, the first scene being that where having turned his back on the gods of Chaos (and slain his only friend Moonglum) Cope brings about the destruction of the old world and the birthing of this one by his sounding of the Horn of Fate.
Owing to certain tragic confusions regarding names, Sean Bean (set to portray Cope during his three years as a maverick cop in the fashion police) has been replaced by Rowan Atkinson where the series covers Cope's recent appearence in televsion adverts for Swift Cover.
‘Hey Baby, I Am The Show' is set to air next year.

Monday 29 August 2011

Cliched Beautiful Swedes!

Two Swedes are hiding in my attic at the moment. Cope only knows how they found their way to Tolly Maw. Normally the village is hidden within a barrier of fog and you need to hitch a ride in with the delivery van. The delivery van that brings in fresh meat and smart clothing, in boxes a bit over six foot long. They filmed one of the segments from the 1980 film The Monster Club here. With me yet? Two Swedes, who shining with the fresh beauty of Scandinavia attracted every ghoulish horror of Tolly Maw. I had on hearing their distinctive voices to rush, to wave, to bundle up in dog blankets and away to where now they hide.
It’s not their fault. It’s a cliché but that makes it no less true. Whilst in England we were so bruised by the ugly stick that even healthy we conspire to look abused, in Scandinavia they have to be taught how to tune down their looks. Twenty years ago I knew a good number of Swedes and they all had to wear a lot of make up just to stop everyone else from giving up. They were a confused, miserable lot that would sit in drunken layers about my front room watching A Clockwork Orange, dubbed in their own language. I presume they all came over to England back then as some sort of disaster relief.
My beloved Q and precious sprouts are of course just as beautiful. More than indeed and shining bright. But then they’re all from the north and their blood Viking because of it.
So ta, Ragnar. I’ll smuggle out the descendants of your daughters you left at home because of the descendants of the daughters you left here.
Says the troll.  

Friday 26 August 2011

Without Fire

Two years since I had a cigarette, which I think makes me a non-smoker. This is of course a jolly good thing and I won’t be going back, or I will – when I learn I’ve a fatal disease or get to the point where fuck it, I’m old anyway. Because I don’t want to smoke, my sprouts certainly don’t want me to smoke, it’s horribly expensive and 90% of what you smoke is habit, not joy.
Ah, but what joy!
If I could smoke only once a week, say two fags on Sunday? What bliss that would be. But cigarettes are always on a dirty weekend and coquettishly always want more from you. And that first one when it’s been a few days is wonderful. Your eyes close, you get that rush and you breathe out like a very cool dragon indeed. But instead you smoke all the time, every day and though if you’re denied it you crave it, when finally you get there it’s somehow all rather sordid.
So I’m not going to smoke.
Until I’m too old to remember I don’t.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Power Tools

Fetch out jigsaw. Find narrow screwdriver. Release sliding plate and front guard. Insert blade, turn blade. Secure blade. Move plate into position, screw plate in place. Push guard into place firmly. Find extension lead. Feed from house to garden. Fetch workmate. Set up and adjust workmate. Take large board into garden. Secure large board between table and workmate. Measure in half the distance, mark and clearly set the line. Adjust jigsaw. Plug in jigsaw.
Spend the four seconds it takes to cut the half-inch board the four foot of its length.
Unplug jigsaw, complete all in reverse. Comfort oneself how much more arsey it would all be with a conventional saw.
Drink a glass of wine.  

It Was This Big

Tuesday 23 August 2011

The 2012 Olympic British Prog Team

You’d think there was one bloody event we’d be in with a chance for, and given as the hosts we could add four of our own then I would have put money on us winning Prog. It’s not that no one else has put together a team – that’s part of the problem – but whatever you think of Prog Rock then it gets a lot weirder when you cross the channel. Unlike the Eurovision we should have been in with a chance here, our entry (pictured) are all young lads with long experience and classical training, and our coach is James May. Our entry is actually the theme to the 2012 Olympics and does not stop until the games do. When we win anything then on the podium we will hear Jethro Tull’s Aqualung instead of the National Anthem and Whispering Bob Harris is to do the commentary to all the track and field events.
But no, we bottled it. We couldn’t even get Prog right. Because the Dutch team have already started and the entire nation, all of them, everyone in Holland, without exception - is at the gig. Our effort that is to last only the length of the games is already being considered ‘pop’. Our only hope is that the German team (a hardline krautrock anarcho-capitalist community-dictatorship called !Bumsen!) interferes.
Still that still leaves the cake baking, the giant vegetable, and the punching people events to do well in. I have faith. No tickets. But faith.
Art - Robert McGinnis

Monday 22 August 2011

Brave and Bold Dinosaur Hunters

I’m going big game hunting later today. It’s early and the sprouts are still asleep, but the day looks promising and so I’ve packed sandwiches. Too long have the girls been allowed to play with dollies and whilst they produce a fair pencil, pen or crayon then with my best-beloved Q already off to work then today is a day for toughening up!
Not often enough for them the tumble-down bank or the thrilling adventure. I hasten to add that unlike the trembling and fearful I’ve read the notices of recently in cities my girls climb trees, ride bikes, and play in the street. But still they’ve had it easy. And here in Tolly Maw I discovered only last night that it’s open season on dinosaurs, and so today we shall hunt ourselves dinner. Probably cooked in the form of nuggets (because explorer-hunters work up a treat) we shall roam and we shall camp, albeit the latter in my Dad’s old, thin tent. My youngest (Bosswell) is brave-and-bold (though only four she never allows a tear or more than a trembling lip for any amount of cuts, scrapes and bloody knees) and so she shall have the pith helmet. My eldest (Catnip) whilst girlier than a fluffy pink shoe is also a climber of unparalleled skill and so she shall have the flying helmet. Equipped with cutlasses, telescopes and pistols the like of which their mother would not approve I shall lead them into the lost valley and there they shall stalk and where if we encounter others then this being the north they shall only nod, pass a word to pass the day but otherwise not comment on smoking revolvers and the head of a Nastysaurus.
We shall eat in the wilds at the source of the Ever Winding River. We shall return tired, dirty but triumphant at just-gone-lunch.
Whereon Q returned from a hard day I shall go about my own, tappity-tap.
That little bit braver, that little more bold.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Esdevium (the Bazaar of the Bizarre)

It’s the cars that date it more than the people. The people are mostly in uniform which change as it certainly has in the last thirty years, not so much or rather this is how I remember it. The army, in Aldershot – and people too of course for they’re not occupying it, they’re joining it. The last time I was here and in twenty-five years time the town will become somewhere to practise, for the army – or somewhere that will look as if it has. Pound shops and pasties and the sort of cheap cafes where all-day breakfast means mostly beans. But not now and perhaps because I’m seeing it through my own eyes, or myself, who I see, peddling into town from Hilary Dwyer ten miles distant. Here is Aldershot and whilst the MacDonalds is new and the playhouse had Panto, then also it has Concorde Models, and also it has Esdevium Games.
“It’s not here now,” I say.
Mme Roux knows. It moved rather than closed as so many games shops have done even more recently. GW is but Dalling Road, there is a Games Centre in the Virgin. But Esdevium Games was the best. It was small, but deep, it went back and back increasingly gloomy. There where in soggy bookshops elsewhere would be the porn from 1979 then here were old, packed games. Board games and endless battles involving all the cardboard in the world, in tiny tiles. Crammed, hundreds, they whispered. In lighter places Esdevium had games, packages of Tunnels & Trolls, a rack for Runequest. Stacked proudly were the AD&D volumes as each appeared with that inky smell and £10 each – which could buy you half a Ford Capri back then.
“Sorry, yes – and there’s the cabinet,”  I say, and there it is. Every Citadel, Ral Partha and Minifigs figure there was. You pressed your nose and asked by number and the man would turn and from a hundred alchemist’s drawers produce it for you. They came in ones. They cost about 10p.
From the ceiling hang spiders in spun cages of Victorian iron. They’re clever those spiders, they look like nothing of the sort. In the shop are older men with beards, pouring over telephone directories of ten thousand tables that judge for them a javelin. Younger men (but old to us then) with hair about their ears perusing dusty magazines that they’ll buy only after a lot of loud sneering. Spotty elves with big noses that never forgave the 70s for passing to punk before they were ready. One wet lump with glasses, badges and a shoulder bag that only plays with younger boys, and sometimes rpgs. And us, in this wonderful place and still a year or three shy of even being teens. Mme Roux and I, just passing by.
There I am, and Matt, and Martin. No one knew of a dead body we had to quest to in order to prod with a stick.
Had there been one it would have been here anyway.      

Friday 19 August 2011

The Hobbit Movie in Soundtrack Shocker

Pictured (l to r): Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Thorin Oakenshield, Dori, Nori, Oin, Gloin.

I think we should applaud Peter Jackson’s bold decision to aim the first of the new Hobbit movies not at an audience that have never read the book, or indeed a book (but have come along anyway in order to know what a hobbit is, in order to laugh at people that read comics and call them Gollum) but at the more important youth market. Most particularly teenage girls that make up the important 13-17 year old girl demographic, and men that cried at Harry Potter. The Fotherington-Thomas market. Which are both wet and a weed.
Aside from Gandalf (Ropert Pattinson, Twilight), Smaug (Robert Pattinson, Twilight) and Bilbo (Blake Harrison, Inbetweeners) the remainder of the cast are being imported wholesale from Glee (the dwarves) and Hollyoaks (the goblins).
Current delays remain over the soundtrack, this being a musical. There being no songs to do with the Misty Mountain (Hop), discussing what the war is good for (absolutely nothing), how one must never stop believing - and especially for the climactic death of Smaug over the water, where there is to be smoke, Peter Jackson is said to be stumped.
Danny Elfman is considered to be biased. Albeit by the important 13-17 year old warg market. And men that cried at the end of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Hello clouds, hello flowers.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Bracken House, Grandfather Clock, and the FT

Between the walls and within the floors of Bracken House where the bustle of the Financial Times once hurried to produce, set and print the latest of the light salmon pages lie the older chambers of Grandfather Clock. In sympathy to the FTs old values the many angles of the Clock Chambers make up a greater space wherein the value in trade for gold, for ivory, for lies and favours are bought and sold and bartered in an atmosphere far removed from the courser business of the New Jonathan’s in Threadneedle Street and their Stock Exchange. Here trade is a hum about overstuffed chairs in a Chinese print, upon rugs of cloth contract all beneath baskets and nets of the best that was once so exchanged and now gone from the world but for here in the dark ceiling of memory. No servants wait on the traders and a gentleman (no distinction is made in the term here by tradition between genders) is expected to settle on the second Tuesday of a month for each glass of Tokay or brandy taken. The chambers are at once sprawling and crowded, a junk shop of precious treasures and as long as any might remember administered to by Grandfather Clock.
His head is concealed by tradition within a perfectly functional mask that chimes the times of business, of closure and of market. The times for trade are divided by goods and day and indeed the complexity of the undertakings here are mirrored by the working of the great clock over the entrance without. Grandfather himself is always impeccably dressed in the manner of current conservative fashion. He allows no speaking above a hum, no diversion from rule or tradition and administers and oversees at need the Court Twelve that will drag a debtor or lying trade to answer and to be punished for such sin.
The Clock Chambers are a place of perfect and quiet order without recourse or duplication to anything else that might idly make similar claim. You can see them here as they are in Friday Street, the City of London.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

In Memoriam: Katrina Alexandria Alexis, Katie Price, Katie of Jordan

When at length the British mandate ended over the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan in 1946 it was admitted into the United Nations only after the hard work, risk, intellectual extravagance and high adventure of Katie Price. Known since her efforts in the First World War to raise the Bedou against the Turk as ‘Katie of Jordan’ the heroic and often maligned (still to this day) explorer, balloonist, acrobat and corsetry model was occasionally featured in the better class of the current broadsheets. Nuts mostly.
The very embodiment of the British adventuring women in the 1920s, Miss Price was a dead eye shot, a master of the blade, philosopher, poet, and winner of the Paris-Dakar rally (in more recent years) no less than three times. Nonetheless she was reviled at times for her outspoken views regarding the continuance of colonial power through such mandates.  Indeed the speech that reached thousands through an early recording made and replayed by the World Service still stands as the undisputed spark to what later came to be regarded as Women’s Liberation.  
What women of learning and letters even to this day cannot claim that their every successful endeavour did not at some point start with the words of that now oft-quoted speech? Those rallying words, this inspiring picture: ‘Some people may be famous for creating a pencil sharpener. I’m famous for my tits.’

Monday 15 August 2011

Sharpe's Looters

In  a poll whose results were released today, more than two thirds of people believe that the authorities did not go far enough to quell stupid children, thieving. Further a third of those would have it that the army should have been sent in with live rounds, and of those more than half that the army concerned should have been the 95th Rifles. In answer to the demands of the people it seems likely that fictional stalwart Richard Sharpe will be deployed with his band of Chosen Men in the event of any further fracas, whereby the rioters will march in circles about the waiting cameras of the news media so as to pretend that twenty of them are in fact the massed columns of L’Empereur.
New guidelines already leaked lay down the method by which the Chief Constable of a given Constabulary may deploy Richard Sharpe and his Chosen Men. We so present:
1)      The Chief Constable having sent for Richard Sharpe shall place him under the command of two Inspectors, both chinless, who shall sneer at the common born cockney from Sheffield.
2)      Harper having cleared the main shopping plaza with one blast of the volley gun shall growl as other men better born are given the credit.
3)      In the event of petrol bombs, Richard Sharpe shall stand before them dramatically framed. The correct term of address regarding any event is to place the possessive ‘Sharpe’s before it. Thus, Sharpe’s Hoodies. Sharpe’s Fire Engine. Sharpe’s New Trainers.
4)      In the event that looting occurs, Richard Sharpe will advance when all others retreat. There shall be a pause whilst the 35” heavy cavalry sword is discussed. Richard Sharpe shall communicate in cockney slang, with a northern accent.
5)      Richard Sharpe will sleep with your wife. Flustered and in a sheer cotton dress she will have earlier been supplied with a marked copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
6)      The Chief Constable when in the aftermath viewing the smoking destruction will ‘damn his eyes’ and tell Sharpe ‘not to get above himself’.
7)      The riots shall all be Sharpe’s fault.
In the event that the Police shall need to form shield wall against more determined disobedience then Richard Sharpe shall instead be Derfel, or Lord Uhtred – both of whom are also Richard Sharpe. With a beard.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Everyone Died Last Week

Here’s how I first met Loopy Lew.
Late at night and somewhere not quite close enough to King’s Cross it was already light in that weak, wet sort of way that doesn’t have enough people up yet to make it any brighter. And heading home from the Angel we’re taking the canal. We can sort of see the station but mostly we can see bloody great gas towers. There’s only one of those now (I heard the other day) and like the only person to enter an unlikely beauty contest they’re having to make out how wonderful it is. But then and they’re everywhere these gas towers. Great pods from Mars ready to unscrew and bring about heat rays and the red weed. Only it’s so early on a Sunday morning the invaders aren’t up, only us.
Lew was sat on the bank of the canal, fishing. At least he held a piece of string and the other end was in the water so it was either that or his dog was dead, drowned and sinking. Three of us I think and all going back to mine and Moz’s, at Borehamwood, because after the clubs going somewhere other than home meant the party hadn’t finished. Or bringing people back, four to each two-seater sofa, likewise. We’d all gone through tired and were in that pleasant, slightly distant weariness only good for tea, company or long, lazy sex. The last had no place in King’s Cross as far as my experiences went and so we plumbed for the closest of what remained and sat down too, and that was how I met Loopy Lew.
We called him Loopy. It might have been Andy, or Gary, or Moz, or Tracey, or B, or Chaz, or Osc, or who knows – someone who was there, who did, and because he had on a PWEI t-shirt, that above. See? Witty. As things went he came back with us and vanished that afternoon convinced he was in Peckham.
I last saw Loopy Lew yesterday because Loopy Lew died a week ago. His wife called me, to tell me. To tell me that ‘Graham’ had died. It took some time and most of it embarrassed for me to work out she had meant Loopy. She was working her way down his phone book, he still had a little book for that – like me – and my number was there and she was calling in case. The name is not so strange I should say. An awful lot of people back then were called other than that given. Names were often given. My favourites were two girls, Tizer and Xerox. I can’t recall their actual names. It’s probably the case that I never knew them.
With this in mind then, a funeral. It occurred to me on the way that though my number is the same in Tolly Maw as it was in the Lakes, it’s not the same as it was a handful of addresses before that. I hadn’t spoken to Loopy Lew in ten years, so Croydon. Odd, true, but there are odder things. For example and there’s this, at this funeral there were about twenty of us and every single one of us knew Loopy Lew by a different name. And not just names, but person. And each utterly different. I knew a greebo called Loopy Lew. I shared a table and pint afterwards with a former girlfriend of his from Hove, who had come to see off Benny Jacobs, whom she had dated to start with to annoy her catholic parents. She had still been surprised despite our confused conversation that the funeral was not more Jewish, as he had been, though uncircumcised.
I heard about Dirty Dan who had been a roadie that only passed through Bedford occasionally. Of aggressive ‘Prince’ Albert whose boyfriend had always known he was in denial but had not known how much. Two men there had come to bury the son they had never known had been given up for adoption by one-night stands in the early 70s. There was an uncomfortable little man that had left very early but whom the girl with a thing for bands reckoned had been from some local hard right, or left, group – she couldn’t be sure. There was a younger man that had shared a flat with Des The Les in Leicester, where they had both gone to Uni there and who knew absolutely that Des had been a woman, or still was, or at least had worn a plastic willy. More and indeed everyone then but no one person the same even to his wife who had met him in America where they had been married although it seemed now, not legally.
She looked but found only the address book and a bank account at the then Abbey, in the name of Simon Hatcher – and thought she had tracked down her man, only Simon Hatcher was there too to see off a friend he had not seen for years as well. The building society account moved by address, over time, and kept topped up had somehow escaped everyone’s notice. The wife had the rent, the bills and the dog in her name.
Loopy Lew just wandered I think. He would go where he found himself, and being (to be fair) a friendly and agreeable fellow make friends and half the time let them make up his life.
He was cremated. The gravestone would either have been blank or crowded otherwise. But I disagree that we do not know who he was. He was everyone it seemed, and everyone died last week.         

Saturday 13 August 2011

Old Ink

Drawn back in the year 2000, England’s only (and predictably crap) superhero team from the DCF universe

Friday 12 August 2011

John Le Mesurier, Expectedly Divine

The reverend Ming The Merciless is hiding in my kitchen with a cup of tea. His boss fetched up on a bicycle this morning and is allegedly not especially taken with the vicar's endeavours to set a small stone gargoyle on Tolly Maw, nor to call it ‘Bok’. I asked if the Bishop could be all that bad but Ming only hissed before blaming his current troubles on reruns of the comprehensively unfunny and annoying Vicar Of Dibley.
“I won’t be Dawn French,” he says reading my mind. Probably literally.
“The Bishop cannot possibly expect you to be?”
But he can if his boss say so, and it’s his boss that has come to the village. And his boss is god, and god is John Le Mesurier. Not to be confused with the longest running show in London’s West End (wherein dirty French people are not so in the manner of postcards from the 1920s), Le Mesurier was previously the Angel Of Unfortunate Union, noted as far back as Babylon as a being 'whom everyone loved, but whom everyone that loved him would then sleep with Tony Hancock'. A little befuddled I can see god from the window being so tremendously charming as to have all the Tilda Swintons clustered about him with terrible adoration. I can also see naked from the waist down a rubbery Tony Hancock hiding in the phone box.
“How does John Le Mesurier become god?” I say.
Ming caught stealing my biscuits has the good grace to look guilty. I’m pleased. He never did when he set earthquakes and tidal waves upon us - I see now why his chosen career. He says, “It was only advertised internally, he was an angel so back in ’83...”
“Ah,” what more can I say? Well, “Are you sure that’s wise?” He jumps, I grin. Out of the window Hancock’s got hold of one of the Tildas. She’s made of sticks and cruel laughter but he expects that does Hancock and he’s got these big hands and fat fingers like saveloys left in a motorway cafe’s biggest pan an hour gone breakfast.
I run a bucket of water.    

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Bags Of Swag (Carved Wooden Book Ends)

Amidst news of society itself collapsing, the arrival of the end times, bloody revolution and kids running around - perhaps the saddest tale of robbery is that visited upon the old shop of Miss Emily Firmin, Postgate Street, Quarter Past One Street (after the lunchtime news). The shop did not sell anything: instead Emily would find lost and broken things and display them in the window of the shop, so their owners could one day come and collect them.
Sadly this ended yesterday after nearly forty years of rather odd business when a bunch of fourteen year olds skipping a beat on adrenalin and possessed of pack lunacy broke the windows before running about with no particular destination in mind. Miss Firmin (obviously distraught) has tearfully declared the theft of a ship in a bottle, a cushion showing owls, a frog princess, a ballet shoe, a tartan porcupine pincushion, a nodding turtle, an elephant missing its ears, a mouse mill, a statuette of a small giant, a tangly plant, a basket and a rag doll house. Only the smallest violin in the world was left, almost certainly without any idea of irony. 

Tuesday 9 August 2011

I Am Unworthy (Art) - Ian Miller

Out for a walk yesterday and I was delighted to find that the Gott Woods have gone all Ian Miller. An artist and a wonderful one, Ian Miller’s art is unique, his own, it can be no one else’s. It is jumbled, and intricate, and fascinating, and visceral. And wonderful. And here the Gott Woods on the long edge and deep to the eyes of Tolly Maw have bent, and leant and scribbled themselves with life and horror. They have gone as I say, all Ian Miller.
Technically there are more proficient artists, many indeed but few so exciting, few whose art has a smell, a texture above the page or screen. Ian Miller’s unpredictable cities and wild, spiky wastes invite you in, a pinned madame, a glove puppet killer and this I copy in above by far one of his calmer pieces. I just love it, I just love that it demands a story of you, I adore the textures.
And with his site under update you’ll have to google image him – and you must. Because the Gott Woods have gone all Ian Miller and dangerous, nasty and wicked as they might be you’re grinning, or you will, like me who you can see if you look hard enough now. In the background somewhere, looking out.
So smile.

Monday 8 August 2011

Lake District To Be Scrapped

Plans to sell off the Lake District have fallen through, we’ve been told today. We’ve not long moved from Cumbria and my family were all born on coast and mountain there so we’re a little worried as it seems now as if the Lakes will be sold off for scrap, to garden centres. Under the previous government the Lakes had been formed over thousands of years of glacial erosion and all-the-rain-in-the-world as the biggest aircraft carrier ever. Ever. So there. Brought close to completion a second Lake District has already been laid using bits of Yorkshire and Scotland when the current cuts to defence budget had seen the programme halted. Thousands of jobs have been lost in the north of England where Beautiful Countryside has been traditionally manufactured since... ever. Government plans are now to move selected pieces of the Lake District to Richmond Park which will be the location of the new aircraft carrier project, one without aircraft. Plans to move thousands of grumpy northerners to Surrey are not thought to be part of the proposals.
Holland having shown interest in taking on the project pulled out (it is further reported) when they discovered that the National Park class of aircraft carrier was designed for the purpose of war. Proposals for a change of use clause in the classification of the Lakes from a fucking big aircraft carrier to the nicest bit of England was vetoed by Kent which has never heard of Wales either, ‘so screw you’.
Where this leaves the armed forces with their increasing commitments is difficult to say and General Sir Scrubb KCMG MM DCM has already been outspoken that the face of modern and future warfare is unlikely to be well served by a proposed time-share of Sark with the French.

Sunday 7 August 2011

I'm A Time Bandit!

In 1981 Randall, Fidgit, Strutter, Wally, Vermin and Og creep from Kevin’s wardrobe and shortly thereafter drag him through the first of several time holes as they escape from the Supreme Being. Kevin and I were the same sort of age and I having walked the three or so miles to the cinema to escape my parents wanted to be a Time Bandit too. Kevin read, Kevin knew (as is not untypical amongst a certain type of child) a lot about history, the good bits. Nowadays and the kids of the same ilk might wait for a letter from Hogwarts*. Not I, even given the choice I’d have fallen through the many realities robbing and exploring amongst a pack far worse than I.
In Time Bandits Kevin discovers a slew of his heroes, historical and fictional. Robin Hood is an upper-class twit. Napoleon the embodiment of his Punch magazine ridicule. Agamemnon befriends Kevin but intends on teaching him the arts cerebral rather than martial (also, magic tricks), but adopts him nonetheless and quite rightly there Kevin wants to stay. Snorts from self-proclaimed grown-ups regarding the lack of effective health care or personal phones in such a land rather miss the point. But he cannot stay as the Time Bandits kidnap him and onwards for the Most Fabulous Object In The World.
In all and Kevin escaping from his abusive home and uncaring, ignorant parents finds something better in Mycenae. A father that is Sean Connery, where he is a prince, and where there are dancing girls which will rather soon take on more importance in his life. But the imagination that has kept him through all the years refuses to let him go and so he is dragged towards the very literal Time Of Legends where he is forced to face David Warner as Evil, and where the Bandits like the ideal chums they are turn up with tanks, and knights and...
...Time Bandits ends with Kevin home, but his house burned down and his parents dead. It could have been exactly the same film had we discovered that it was all in Kevin’s head. He escapes as did some of us, into the past and into stories. Growing, his childhood keeps dragging him onwards to where at the end he has to make choices, to face Evil and not as some tedious destined child or powerful spoon-bender. Mostly he runs away.
And so I suppose were a lot of us who were that age, then.
Some of us perhaps still are.
But I still want to be a Time Bandit and if you look at the map there's a time hole opening soon, and near, and so...
*Not true. There’s Alan Garner and Susan Cooper already gone and here already and it’s Mike Moorcock. So whilst others that barely read might learn how to ride a broom and Impetigo with a wand, we’ll ride dragons and summon Arioch, thank you very much.   

Friday 5 August 2011

Dole Scrounging Daleks!

Caught on camera flying after years of claiming a need for ramps, the Ross family are being made the poster-children of the new crackdown on benefit fraud. The head of the clan ‘Doctor’ David Ross has similarly been charged for erroneously claiming for blindness and lack of arms, discovered in the same investigation to possess a magic forehead eye, and an evil metal hand where before it was merely withered.
Immigrants from Skaro (where generations of foggy war with sten guns had left the Kaled tribe blobs of goo) the Ross family were already last year fined for claiming against back injury when it was revealed that they literally had no spines. Whilst originally their full body chairs could only travel along metal strips and even later they could be foiled with a floppy hat, an overlong scarf and jelly babies they failed to declare any change in circumstances when in more recent years they became invincible, developed the already quoted ability to fly and according to an ongoing Police investigation are behind all things, ever – ever.
From what I hear Dave Ross was grassed up by his estranged son, ‘Emperor’ Ross – the pair having long fought through time itself for supremacy over the clan. Most likely to raise his profile having gotten through the first round of Britain’s Got Talent, only to fail in the rap round when put on the spot he couldn’t come up with anything that rhymed with ‘Impersonate’.
We here at Slide23 refuse to be so manipulated, so rather than Emperor Ross here’s a picture of Leela instead.
Yeah, Leela.         

Thursday 4 August 2011

Smith Square Shelter, Brown Paper, and the Memsahib

One of the signs still visible in the area of Smith Square, this that in Lord North Street still indicates the menagerie allowed beginning in 1940. Commonly taken to be a place where the public might find shelter from the Blitz, this is in hindsight (this being Westminster) obviously at fault as the public had no good reason to be there. Or at least no one that mattered.
A Georgian street and grand as one would expect it has doubtless seen many a period drama chase itself down its attractive pavements. It was from his address here that the twice prime Minister Harold Wilson claimed to have been burgled by the Security Service (an accusation backed up in Ernest Penfold’s  autobiography Crickey) the catacombs still in use today once boasted a little more punctuation on the signs, now faded.
For still and the purpose of the Smith Square Vaults are to provide sealed in case of wider extermination the sort of upright and rightly-placed members of the working class that would  nowadays not regard a beating and the occasional bout of horse-buggery to actually constitute pay. Here and kept in hermetically sealed brown paper, vinegar and bailing string are member of the public, sheltered and secured in vaults. In the event of devastating gas attack (the fear of 1940) or then soon after that of atomic devastation, then in the aftermath as the great and good emerge from their own secure shelters so too could be released the groomed, bred-for-task members of the public. Then to put tooth powder on brush, put shoes in proper order left to right, and to stand in with the memsahib in the event of the old trouble rising up (in complete contrast to the well bred, narrow and creamily useless penis).
The sheltered public are let out once a month, late at night, where if you are fortunate you will see them standing about the square serving one another drinks and thrashing the trees until they bleed.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Illegal Irrigation

An illegal irrigant, probably.

It’s looking like a very bad harvest this year in Tolly Maw. It’s been hot for weeks now and without rain the corn has turned brown leading to the bright-eyed children within spending more time chasing the tiny ice-cream van about the lanes than making ramblers cry for help into their iWants in the early, murderin’ hours. We’ve had no rain and in previous years Mervyn assures me this has not been a problem. But this year and our council is heavily weighted towards the right, here the Tolly Maw Defence League. There’re only three of them but two of them voted and one’s a dog, and if hard of hearing then they make up for that with hate and idiocy.
And it’s going to be a very bad harvest this year, because the village council believes that everything wrong with Tolly Maw is down to Irrigation. The former open-weir policy towards irrigation means that we fought a war, or kicked a ball, or haven’t got any jobs presumably watering the fields because of excessive irrigation. None of the council are very sure what an irrigant looks like, but they think they're something to do with poles. So we don’t have any poles now, which only affects the TMLD (sic) as no one else has a flag either.
I asked the council if they meant perhaps our friends from Poland? They scoffed at the very idea, pointing out quite rightly the number of Poles that flew with the RAF and all the Polish troops that fought with a reputation for being double-hard and mad-courageous bastards in the second world war.
But it’s going to be a very bad year for the harvest. And round here they blame all the irrigation. That and the damn foreign Tibetans tunnelling under the fields and scampering away with all the carrots, like Bugs Bunny, only orange.    

Monday 1 August 2011

Satan, 'Yes, it was all D&D'

High Fantasy

The Devil (Incarnate) has admitted today that, yes, he is only incarnate at all because of Dungeons & Dragons. Materialising in Lake Geneva during the early 80s he was given a partial credit in TSRs Expedition To The Barrier Peaks (where because he is Satan, he included spaceships and laser rifles). Dozens of aging metal fans have protested the announcement on the Satan website since they have long been assured that loud music from Birmingham was the key to the rise of Satan. Satan confessed in response that he was really rather more a show-tunes sort of guy, which surprised only aging metal fans.
Outspoken Christian loonies with their underpants ceremonially worn outside their then too-short trousers sought back then to prevent the corruption of their youth. At the time such came from twenty-sided dice and charts to mathematically calculate how many dice and what numbers were to be rolled to fight ‘black puddings’. The same sects when faced with matters entirely unrelated to the corruption of youth (such as child abuse and institutional racism) chose to oppose such further by picketing rock bands.
Still, seems in one way at least they were right.
‘I got hooked,’ says Satan on ‘I had this fighter-magic user called Satan and after killing all these hobbits I got a powerful magic sword, called Satan. I was up there twice a week, then three, even when they stopped giving me virgins, which between you and I aren’t much use to anyone, anyway,' then, 'Satan.'