Saturday, December 31, 2005

It is New Year's

Eve. 2005 started off for me so well and really improved as the year wore on. However in November disaster struck, someone malicious said something about me which is untrue and my life has been plunged into a nightmare as a result. I'm hoping that in the next few weeks truth will prevail and the lies that have been told will be exposed for what they are.

It is at times such as these that friends really prove their worth and I'm lucky to have so many who have stood by me.

As ever I can also turn to the written word for solace. So here's a little more from Under Milk Wood. The wonder of this long poem is that every bit works and any piece from it can stand as an example of how joyous words can be.

At random then...

First Voice.

And in Willy Nilly the Postman's dark and sizzling
damp tea-coated misty pygmy kitchen where the
spittingcat kettles throb and hop on the range, Mrs
Willy Nilly steams open Mr Mog Edwards' letter to
Miss Myfanwy Price and reads it aloud to Willy
Nilly by the squint of the Spring Sun through the one
sealed window running with tears, while the drugged,
bedraggled hens at the back door whimper and snivel
for the lickerish bog-black tea.

Under Milk Wood is best read aloud if you want to experience the heady mix of words and sounds. The BBC have a brilliant production with Richard Burton narrating and if there is such a thing as literary heaven on this earth then it is to be found here. This poem cheers me up, it restores my faith.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Here's a bit of Billy Blake...

to get me back into blog mode.

The following poem was first published by William Blake in 1794 as part of his Songs of Experience collection. Its subject is the terrible majesty of industrialisation and of nature and of people bowed under change. It is of little surprise that the Songs of Experience was published only five years after the French Revolution of 1789 and during a decade of repression in Britain that arose from fear amongst the rich and powerful of revolution here. So astonishing is this poem that it can be applied 300 years on to what is happening in China as we speak, can still be applied to heartless capitalism everywhere.

The Tyger.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forest of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame they fearful symmetry?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

News today is that Goliath did...

exist! Or at least that's according to some nutty archeologist currently suffering from Trench Foot in the ancient Philistine city of Gath, in Israel. A shard of pottery has been found with Goliath's name on it, actually it was the letter G but lets not quibble about minor details. Already excitement is growing amongst Goliath's descendents that an historical wrong is about to be put right. The real truth which until now has remained hidden from history (a la the Da Vinci Code), they hope may soon become evident. It seems Goliath was really a quiet unassuming kind of guy who loved his dog and one day David, or Idiot as an earlier shard describes him killed the dog and ate it. Now David, also known as David the blind (from an even earlier shard) thought the dog a sheep and so he smote it down. Goliath went to remonstrate and David thinking a large baboon was loose in his front parlour thus also smote Goliath. There was the usual cover up and the rest, as they say, is history. My own feeling is that one has to be careful with Philistine artifacts given that these were a remarkably ignorant people, the original Philistines in fact. However I have seen a photograph of said shard and you can see the G scratched just above the image of a dog being turned on a spit by a baboon. The baboon is portrayed receiving instructions from some no eyed chap holding what looks like a Martini (with silverskin onion) so it must be true. The current day Goliaths (Christian fundamentalists to a man and woman) have released a press statement denying baboons have been ever been part of their family line. Meanwhile David's descendents shake their heads and readily agree their forebear was an idiot adding that not only could David not tell his arse from his elbow but he struggled with the difference between an onion and an olive, to their eternal shame. From the dark times of David's original faux pas to the present day his embarrassed family have been forced to avoid the great cocktail bars of history. Goliath's family on the other hand moved to what was to become the US where they too have sought to avoid something great, in this case the theory of evolution. Indeed it is on such things that history sometimes turns.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The other day...

I was driving past a long fence that borders an industrial estate. Inside the fence was a factory of some kind or other. A strip of mown grass lay between the fence and public footpath. Halfway along this fence which ran for a mile or so sat a black cat looking pretty pleased with itself. I wonder what that was about?

Monday, October 31, 2005

How cool is...

this? I've bought a mini ipod, I know, I know, it may seem like I'm a slave to fashion but it is pretty smooth and groovy and the sound quality, well! I've also got a copy of Salif Keita's latest album M'Bemba and this afternoon was driving through deepest East Manchester (the ipod is to cheer myself up because my posh Ford cd player is buggered and Ford have told me to throw it away cos they no longer make them even though it's only three years old and was a pretty mean machine, yada yada yada)... anyway, there I was driving on a busy main road traffic to the left and right of me and heading east when from behind the setting sun lit the whole area. The music of Mali giving it what for in my head and everything suffused in a deep golden hue was mind bogglingly stunning. A quarter mile in front traffic crossed at a junction, white vans, red cars, silver vehicles, a large truck and trailer, an orange double decker bus whose windows flashed like they were on fire, all were picked out by the late afternoon sun. It was as if a beautiful necklace of huge stones passed in front of me and then was gone.

Such a lovely higlight in an otherwise crap day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

All the students...

are returning to college. I was in Bangor, North Wales over the weekend and a tad under the influence. As I walked Bangor's mean streets with my mate a little worse for the wear I was struck by the number of adults with teenage offspring in tow. At first I thought it odd so many teenagers out with their mum and dad until it dawned that last week was freshers week at the university. Awww. Anxious parents trailing their offspring wondering where the previous eighteen years has gone, worrying about Tarquin or Jemima but more likely Baz and Mopsy after all this is Bangor. Many of the parents looked grey due no doubt to an overactive imagination seared with images of drug fueled orgies all night clubbing and vomit. You can tell the newies because, a) their clothes are clean; b) they look anxious; c) they laugh inappropriately, like in shops and stuff; d) their clothes are clean. My view is that freshers always look like freshers until they're not, such as when they return a battle scarred second years. Experience is a grubby business which is why the innocent are always clean and this rule applies especially to students. Despite this I still find something positive about freshers, maybe they remind me of the Spring and renewal I really don't know. Maybe I like the fact that they're about to embark on a FUCKING TOP TIME that will last three whole years. Am I jealous? Nah, been there done that moved on. Nevertheless it was good. Bless em.

I may return to student shennanigans in a later blog.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Can I be the only one...

to notice Benedict the Umpteenth has become sponsored? The embroidered badges and sown on logos were a bit of a giveaway but it didn't really click until I looked at today's list of newly ensainted saints. When I was young the minimum criteria for saintdom (and I mean minimum) were: be dead at least a thousand years plus your death had to have been particularly unpleasant. You know the sort of thing, hot poker up the bum, tongs in the gizzard, something involving a wrench. In my catholic youth Saints were tough cookies, they were no nonsense don't fuck with me sorts. Adorning the various churches I frequented as a child were statues, representations in stone of these heroes, and everyone with a scar, a five o'clock shadow, reddened knuckles, even the women saints looked like bag men for the Mob. These were the type who laughed in the face of torture, spat in the eye of fear, wiped snot on the cuff of destiny, they died for what they believed. So it comes as a bit of a shock to learn it's now possible to sponsor a Saint. Of the five ensainted today three are supported by drugs companies, one by nuclear power and one by an unnamed cartel from Bogota. Never one to miss a trick the companies want some return for their investment so, as they say, everything really is in the name. Apparently Saint Exlaxica will become known as an efficacious treatment for all things relating to innards (her award winning logo "And Nothing Shall Linger" is seen by the industry as a marvel of brevity) Saint Viag of Ara speaks for itself and dying him blue was a nice touch and it seems cobalt does come off with vigorous scrubbing; Saint Beelzibub of the Black Lung I think demonstrates a tobacco industry still out of touch with public opinion. I did like Saint Radiumumhum represented as a small glowing child able to manage the average family's heating, lighting and contraceptive needs. Finally Benny the U should do something about the talc on his upper lip, it is not becoming especially when declaring Saint Charles of Medelin as the only one who didn't like either dogs or people with obvious colds.

So that was it today for Catholicism and sponsorship. Looking at some of the early rushes for the morning's press I see that George Bush has floated the idea of sponsoring hurricanes. No more Wilma and Katrina, nope if the Republicans get their way hurricanes are to be branded like everything else. Imagine it, Coca Cola did this? Wow! Or in an attempt at the teenage vote, 'Pepsi? Damage teeth? Psshht! You should see what it can do to your neighbourhood." Anything under category three is to be reclassified as Lite.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A recent photograph showing a...

gorilla fording a stream seems to have caused a stir. Zoologists, anthropologists, astrologists, arthopods, neuropods and sennapods worldwide were in such a flap because the creature is seen testing the water's depth with a stick. Not one expert mentioned the ipod or for that matter the Blackberry in the creature's left hand. Indeed a video of the event shows him clearly speaking with his broker in London.

Gorilla, "Charles love, I want you to move ten thousand out of teak, hmm hmm, yes teak. And yes darling I am standing in a river, it's sweet I know, I've got a stick you see so shan't fall in. Mm mm, what into love? Hang on, wait a moment." Calls out to other gorilla resting on shooting stick at water's edge flicking through the Racing Times. "Freddy, I say Freddy, out of teak into what?"
Gorilla on stick looks up. "Is that Charles? Tell him no dollars, not whilst that buffoon Bush remains in the White House. Say we'll take anything out of Shanghai. And ask him who's going to win the 3.30 at Kowloon."
First Gorilla still casually poking water, "Charles dear did you hear that? We'll take anything out of Shanghai. Can you organise it in Euro's? Such a lovely currency, lots of stars. You can? You're such a love. Oh and by the way, Freddy wants to know if you've a tip for the 3.30 at Kowloon? What? Mucky Meg, and it's a cert you say. Jolly good. Got to go old chap one of the zoologists has started to wet himself so I'd better do a bit more of the stick thing. Yes, they are so easy to impress I know. Love to Jocasta. Mwah, mwah."


Monday, October 10, 2005

God has been talking to George Bush...

or so GB tells us. In this country that kind of talk can get a person admitted to hospital. I simply don't believe Bush because I suspect a real holy message would be more like this... "Hello, hello, er, zzzpppprffff, is this on? zzzprfffffffffffffnnnnnnnnnn. Hello, hello. There's no one there. I SAID THERE'S NO ONE THERE! Ooops sorry a bit loud that. Bollocks. Who is this fucker anyway? Peter, PETER! You sure this one's on, it's so dark in there I'm not so sure. And he looks like a chimp, yeah, a real branch hanger, he's certainly got a chimp's intellect. Little ping pong brain, no wonder there's so much room. Hello? Sod it, I'm off."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dateline Harrisburg Pennsylvania...

where some loony right wing Christians are once again trying to overturn Darwin's theory of Evolution this time by arguing that through scientific method they can prove God exists and evolution is wrong. The Sunday broadsheets here in the UK have articles on the story. Now, we all agree that the universe is huge, and we're talking stupendously huge here, however the loons state that it is so huge and complex only God could have designed it. Ipso facto he did, therefore he exists and evolution is wrong. A question I wish to ask is, if God designed the universe why did he make it so big? I deeply suspect it's a means of keeping some distance from the weirdos who are currently arguing about his wondrous ways in court.

This size thing is interesting though because if God is everywhere at all times and the universe is expanding does this mean he's getting thinner? I think we should be told. Be wrong not to tell us because if at the moment of the big bang God was pretty concentrated, like you get with washing up liquid say, 14 billion years later he must be quite dilute. We may have been sold a pup on this God deal because he's not the God we've been promised. I don't claim to be an expert on the bible but I'm almost certain there's no warning label sown anywhere within it's pages that states of God 'Danger: Prone to Dilution' or 'May fade in direct sunlight.' And in this universe of ours there's a lot of sunlight. So now we find God subject to two pressures, he's diluting and fading. No wonder he's not letting on, I bet he's knackered. Managing an expanding universe? It's important to keep your anonymity and avoid accusations of favouritism what with so many galaxies and planets around. And at the very moment when the exhaltedc one declares it safe some right wing nutters on the tiny blue ball go and prove he exists. I bet it's enough to make your average Deity weep.

These people just don't know what they're doing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Another viagra...

joke to keep this blog going until I find time for matters more cerebral.

There's a home for the elderly where before bed they give the old guys hot chocolate and viagra. The chocolate is to help them sleep and the vaigra's to stop them rolling out of bed.

Well, it made me laugh.

Monday, September 05, 2005

On Saturday...

the summer decided once again to show its face. It was a gorgeous day here in the UK and to celebrate me and a mate drove to the seaside, to the Wirral peninsula which is a stretch of land between the River Mersey on the one side and the Dee basin on the other. Across the 3 or 4 mile Dee estuary lies Wales and the early foothills of the Snowdon Mountain Range, not big by Euro standards but impressive nevertheless. The estuary is one of those places where the tide goes out a couple of miles and all that remains is flat golden sands as far as the eye can see. It was scorching so we had the regulation ice cream (de rigueur when at the seaside) and watched donkeys carry little beaming kids. Some people flew kites, some just sat and watched and some just sat. Sheets of aimless sand lifted by the light breeze rushed hither and thither as though they were in a hurry or maybe late like Alice's White Rabbit. Me and my mate? We mainly just sat, soaking it all up. Summertime, and the living is easy...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dolls are funny...

things and get everywhere. On Thursday I was visiting a house in Moss Side and noticed a very cool Action Man reclining on a roof. He was bronzed, wearing fashionable black shorts and looked every inch relaxed, in fact I'm convinced he winked though that might have been wishful thinking. Hey, I can't be the only one attracted to his scar! So some type of doll template must have clicked in my head because I began to see them everywhere. In the UK lorry drivers have this odd habit of tying dolls and teddy bears to the front grill of their trucks and it's frustrating to hear half heard stuff as they whizz past. Like,

"Fucking hell, fucking hell, fucking hellllllllllll."

Their tiny faces and rictus grins pinned by wind pressure to grills sticky with splattered insects. And that Doppler fade which makes it all sound a little sad, well it would if their life were not so exciting. Oh yes, I have heard them say other things. Where I live all the bin wagons have dolls accompanied by teddy bears, some have only teddy bears and some have only dolls and recently I saw one with a tableau of Washington Crossing the Delaware in an Action Man canoe. George was represented by a magnificent teddy whose arm has been stapled to his forehead in the manner of someone who has eyes only for the far shore. It was impressive and as this vehicle drifted past I could hear them muttering.

"Why didn't he do a beach scene like last time.... Oh god I'm gonna Pwrrggaaahhhhhhgggrrruuuuttthhhh.."
The last thing I heard was one tiny voice asking, "Who's Ruth?"

Recently a dog ran past me and in it's mouth was the sweetest looking doll in a summer dress, but she had such aggression.

"Dog you are dead, do you hear me, dead. I'm going to kick your arse the moment we stop. What the fuck you looking at dickhead!" That last bit was addressed to me.
I replied. "It's not a crime to look."
"Yeah right up my skirt you perv. I've got your number and when I've done with this dog I'll be round to yours."
No one was listening, not even the dog and as it ran down the street that little voice was still shouting. "Dog you are fucked, fucked... Jeeze it was easier being pinned to a wagon."

There's lots of angry dolls about plus some serious psycho dolls such as Victorian pot dolls on window sills, facing outward, no doubt concealing the axes they'd so dearly love to stick in our unwary heads. And the way their sunken eyes, like they've a serious drug habit follow you up the street. Fuck knows what the Victorians were thinking to design such horrors, mind you with laudanum being so prevalent can we be at all surprised by anything that sprang from such imaginations. Nevertheless I'm sure many a Victorian middle class child were really chuffed when daddy returned from work with a hate doll.

"Here you go my darling, a loverly doll. I know it looks mean but the axe was free and that livid mark around it's neck is a fault in the mould. Yes darling, the clothes are basic but let's face it Hessian is the next big thing. And those enormous hands, all the better for holding on to."

Which is okay until the morning when daddy finds his little girl with a baby doll axe planted squarely in her forehead. Kind of explains why they had such large families, the toy/child attrition rate was a national scandal. Imagine how hard it must have been before the Factory Acts banned children from playing with toys? Chucky? Fucky more like.

Ever since childhood I've liked cribs at Christmas. Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, the three kings, that generator, that wolf and those gobby pigs. I was always cheered by a good crib though after so long I'm now sick of Joseph moaning about his knees, the quality of straw, that bastard Rumpelstilskin and Mary's wandering eye. Give it a rest Joe I want to shout. However, it is a season of goodwill and dolls do their best which is why any crib worth its salt should have a mini bar, only for guests mind and only as a treat. A tip for those new to crib buying, avoid the Josephs with rosy cheeks cos once the capillaries have blown there's no way back to innocence.

Finally, I was going to say a little something about why shop window mannequins are so emaciated but will save that for another time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It has been...

unseasonably blustery here in the UK. The birds have had a tough time of it. For instance I was walking across the acres of car park outside my office yesterday and a couple of birds were struggling to make headway against the wind. I think they were sparrows, or song thrushes, or blackbirds or starlings bobbing up and down as though in a sea swell. A couple were wiping sweat (do birds sweat?) from their foreheads with patterned handkerchiefs, one sneaky sneering adolescent bird was using alternate wings, fucker got his though when a swooping hawk bit his smug head clean off. The bloody carcass tumbled down to be caught by a creature the spit of Bill Sykes' dog Bullseye. For those who remember their Oliver Twist Bullseye was supposed to be astonishingly ugly. Anyway it would have been that dog's luck day except just at that moment it was plucked from the ground by an enormous eagle who rather neatly I thought managed not to let go of the bemused postal worker it had clearly hooked sometime earlier. I tried pointing this out to a chap loading shopping into the boot of his car but was told to fuck off.

I've mentioned this car park in previous blogs but perhaps have not done it justice. It is large. Perhaps not as large as your average US car park many of which seem to straddle international borders but big enough for the UK. This car park covers so huge an area it has two time zones and a desert plus a bit with rusted barbed wire and wooden signs. The sign closest to me had written upon it "They wouldn't listen" and on another sign just below that "They would not listen" and just below that "They would not" and below that "Bugger, me back's gone", below that lay a parched skeleton holding a paint brush and you could see one of the lumbar joints was still askew.

A sandstorm was blowing so I turned for the office and would have lost my way except a group of local urchins approached pulling a handcart loaded with signs that said "Nobody's Listening" Their leader looked first at the skeleton and then at me and said.

"Did you do that?"
"Do what?" I replied.
He nodded and I could see how the sand had caught on his fair skin giving him the look of someone on whose skin sand would catch. "That." He said.
We both looked down.
"The sign?" I said
He nodded downwards again.
"Oh the body." I said
He continued to nod downwards. By now I too was nodding.
The group came up behind him and watched me closely before one said "Is this sign yours?"
"No it was here when I arrived. Help yourself"
"This er, skeleton. Is that yours?" Said question boy.
"No, it was here when I arrived. Help yourself."
They tugged and wrenched to loosen the sign and eventually it came free. Then they heaved the skeleton onto their pile of signs where it came apart and fell through the wooden posts clicking and clacking like badly played castanets. Three of the older lads seized the cart shafts and began to pull, their efforts coordinated by an aloepeciac urchin using two painter's ribs to tap a jaunty rhythm on his overbite. If those boys had any politics I suspect they'd be green.

My ongoing journey to the office was later interrupted by shouting and I could see them being chased by security having wrenched from the supermarket roof a still flashing neon sign advertising skin care and cosmetic dental surgery. And who says boys aren't vain?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My front wall...

was finished yesterday, apart from some cosmetic painting. I previously mentioned laying four bricks in a June blog and how it took me ages. Well yesterday I managed eight coping stones using loads of cement. It made me very proud. I don't want to come across like some kind of cement obsessive but it was very messy and satisfying. I even used my spirit level so everything was on the level (ha ha, that's an old Masonic joke apparently) though unlike the Masons I didn't wear a tiny white pinafore, have a trouser leg rolled up or threaten to cut my neighbour's throat with a knife. Which I've heard is what Mason's do.

I got to handle my lump hammer which is a smaller version of the one Thor used to carry. Here's a Norse joke. Thor is wandering around Bacchanalia or wherever else they had their orgies and he comes across a girl with a lisp whom he quite fancies. "I'm Thor" he says and she says "Your Thor! I'm not thure I'll ever walk again."

I digress.

Coping stones are the decorative brick things that go along the top of garden walls. They also double as calming objects for the stressed, hence the name. Here in the UK it is not uncommon to issue a coping stone to those who are depressed, the deeper the depression the heavier the stone. The rational being that these stones take your mind off your worries, actually they narrow the focus of your worries from the general to the particular, so rather than worry about bills or relationships or general stuff like that instead you worry about the damage done to your back by having the carry such a heavy object. And once you've learned to cope with the stone you're cured. Well that's the theory anyway. Of course only three professions promote this form of treatment; Psychiatry who use it as a means to reclassify incurable psychosis as builder's back and thus pass substantial numbers into spinal medicine; Spinal medicine who in a recent expose were found to have significant financial interests in walls; and of course the Masons who just have significant financial interests. To cut a long story short yesterday I bought eight coping stones from a local builder who sold them to me via a hatch in a steel reinforced door where all I could make out were eyes peering in a manner similar to those Mexican baddies in Sergio Leone films. The conversation went something like this.

Me, "I'd like eight coping stones please"
Him, over the sound of extra locks being turned. "Eight?"
Me, "Yes eight."
Him, sotto voce to his mate "Barry set the dogs loose we've got a nutter."
Me, "I heard that."
Him, "Why do yer need eight? Most people make do with one, eh? Are you a greedy bastard?" His eyes narrowed "Your not one of them cement obsessives are you?"
"Look I'm just sorting out the top of my wall."
All of a sudden he relaxed, "Oh you're a Mason, why didn't you say so."
Me, "No, I'm not a Mason,"
He, "That's a double negative. So you are a Mason?"
Me, "I am not a Mason, look." I lift a trousered leg.
"You're a psychiatrist then?"
"No, I'm not a fucking psychiatrist."
"Backs then. You're a spinal man."
"Then you must be really depressed, fuck off away from here." Sotto voce to Barry "Hold the dogs he's a depressive"
Me, "I am not depressed. I'm finishing a wall."
I could hear him and Barry discussing this and they eventually decided I might be telling the truth. The hatch slid back to reveal what I took to be Barry's piggy eyes looking me up and down.
Barry said "You sure you've not got a knife? You look like a Mason to me."
He stepped back and a dog yelped.
"Mind the fucking dog you dozy bugger!"
The two original eyes reappeared. "Okay, we'll sell you eight but you've not to let on where you got them from."
I sighed, "Okay."
As I drove out of the yard wondering how they managed to stay in business a large truck arrived and written on the side was North Manchester Primary Health Care Trust, NHS, followed by the legend "Coping Citywide"


Thursday, August 18, 2005


a balloon man arrived next to the man who works the ride for tiny children. The weather was so hot 'rideman' had fixed parasols to the cup and saucer cars. Balloon guy was holding a fair selection of helium inflated balloons that jostled and bumped above him. My eye was caught by the impressive range of figures and characters, there were the usual Bart's and Lisa's, there were Teletubbies, Barbies, Barbie's horses (Neddy, Shane, Snow, Crystal, Meth, Imminent Arrest) and strangely a Donnie Brasco though I'm not sure children got that reference. I did ask one or two but they thought it was the Brad Pitt character from Fight Club so what the do they know?

On occasion a gentle breeze caused balloons in the centre to push their way outwards. It was an ever changing crowd and I glimpsed a touching Baby Jesus dressed in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, a Mary and Joseph briefly appeared riding Barbie's nag Wilmott and pursued by Columbian Federal Troops, Mary had a white moustache and looked fucking fabulous but that might have been a trick of the light. A child passed by and tied to her wrist was a long silk tape atop of which bobbed a representation of the Tay Bridge Disaster that included a neat outline of the doomed train's final moments before it plunged into that black river. You could even see the driver looking shocked. Tying balloons to children is a good idea given their propensity for letting go though in various high corners around the precinct there was evidence of parents who had not done this. Huddled above the hardware store that sells drinking paraffin a few wrinkled balloons seemed attached to a rat faced Dealer balloon. One child's tape was clearly too tight resulting in a poor hand swelling up like a balloon and as a result he now floated just below nearby guttering and people were running for a ladder to get him back down. As it is with some children he wasn't distressed merely curious that he could finally see what happens on roofs. Some nun balloons were praying for his soul and a few held soul balloons in case he was a catholic. The nun balloons were being admonished by a Dominic the Umpteenth balloon that was fat and bloated and in his top pocket was a tiny Papa JP2 sporting a white moustache balloon with a speech bubble that said "Bogota tarmac! Little wonder I spent so long on my knees." No idea what he meant by that. I was getting bored of balloons when another balloon man arrived with crowd of thug balloons looking for trouble. Just across from the door to my office a large truck appeared and began unloading a boiling kettle ride. Hmm, seems the only thing that's brewing in funland is trouble.

Of course I'll report any developments.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The UK...

is a funny old place, with some funny place names. I am wont on occasion to ponder this fact, mainly whilst driving in the countryside. As I understand it most place names go back to Anglo Saxon times, or when the Vikings were using this place as a larder, or that time the Roman's got offended because we were mainly painted blue. Either way some place names are, well, interesting. Only last week I was driving in Cheshire toward a hamlet called Little Pigmeat, just along from Garnish which was beyond Heavily Pregnant. I passed many an old bloke dressed in hessian with XXX printed on the chest and chewing some stalk or other. Oddly they all seemed to be called Jacob except the one called Nebudchadnezzer though I suspect he was showing off. It looked to me like they'd been hired from Gnarlies R US because no one dresses like that anymore what with hessian being so last year. They were strategically placed on country lanes leaning over gates, sitting on hay bales, polishing churns, oiling mink, and they were so ruddy, and only had three front teeth, which of course were crooked. Talk about your stereotypes. When I go to the country I want authenticity not some Ad Exec's idea of rural. And those village names, Throat, Strange Bicep, Heavy Thigh what is that all about? Two rivers, the Merkin and Pudendum meet beneath a crossroads with one of those wonderful fiveway signs that direct the traveller to Region, Nether Region, Myitisdampdownthere, Infection and It'lltakemorethanacourseofantibioticstoclearthatup.

In Manchester there's no romance when it comes to names just the brutal practicality of city life, no iffing no messing just call it like it is which is why I live in Crap. But amongst rolling fields, copses, hedgerows, pasture, the song of water rippling over smooth stones it is possible to feel closer to nature, to Ghia. So I stopped for birdsong that could just be heard over the noise of tractors spraying shit. A very slow moving truck passed and on the rear flat bed were lines of old fellers all dressed in sacking and murmuring about how fine the weather was and how good the harvest would be if they could just entice their waster son Jethro back from the city, some were calling for a return to capital punishment, not for anything in particular, they were just calling for its return. If you've ever seen those bollards they put down on motorways to close off lanes, a lorry drives and men (hey, it's technical work) drop bollards one after another, well it was somewhat like that. At key points they'd unload an old guy and not even halt the vehicle. I was later told that lead boots served to both stop them from tipping over and wandering off. All in all a pretty slick operation, organised by a city firm of course, well you can't entrust the countryside to those who live there, they'd only mess it up.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Professor Mouha, Internationally...

renowned healer and clairvoyant has left a card on my windscreen. It states "I can help you in bringing back your loved ones, infidelity in relationships, domestic and family problems, depression, substance misuse, addiction, losing weight, impotency, infertility, immigration, court cases, breaking black magic, Jinx, demonic forces, success in business, exams and career, spiritual guidance, stress, job interviews, marriage problems. Just a single call can change your life forever. Your pain relief is my responsibility"

Is that an impressive list of skills or what? Problems with demonic possession or obtaining that loan? Then Prof Mouha's your man. I nearly phoned to check if his interest rates were comparable with the big money institutions. In small print on the reverse of his card there's some fairly dry warnings, written by a lawyer of course, (says something when an agent of Satan is forced to hire Counsel). Under the heading Penalty for Non Payment it said "Yes we really do charge an arm and a leg." Fair enough I thought, after all the big banks take your children as well, and your home, your livelihood, good name, car, remaining relatives, goat. In fact our goat was once interviewed for a job with Barclays but missed out to a shitbag Tory bastard who claimed the goat couldn't be a Christian on account of his beard and faraway stare. Jesus! Even Jesus had a beard! Banks and Tories, drawn together like flies and shit, what can you say?

I digress.

Prof Mouha states he can sort demonic forces, break black magic and Jinx. Again I return to the small print on the back. At this juncture I should say that the card is approx 3'' by 4'' and pretty straightforward though when you turn it over a little origami trick occurs and in the manner of a concertina four volumes of legalese unfold to the floor. Thank fuck I didn't read this thing on a bus, or in the loo, or any other confined space, I'd never have got out. Essentially it says unless the contract (hereafter referred to as The Contract) specifically includes the Jinx, black magic, demonic forces clause, neither Prof Mouha (nor the Parent Company, Lucifer Holdings (TM) ) can be held responsible. Old Nick, such a cheeky get. Not so smart though, not in this modern world. There was a time he did just what the he wanted, no explanation, no forewarning, just one puff of smoke and suddenly your working the eternity shift on Beelzibub's Big Barbie. Not anymore, with litigation achieving new levels of popularity and an increasing interest in health and safety the Horned One (and his franchisees) have been forced to overplay their cloven hoof. Spells? Spell it out more like. What choice has he got? Any trouble might lead to a snap inspection by the Local Authority, a couple of swabs from those work surfaces, a bit of peering into those dark corners, a little testimony from the tortured and before you can say "Injunction" Hell is shut right down. Let's not forget Heaven's Angel showers received the same treatment only last year after that messy verucca outbreak among the Seraphim. God lost half a season's takings when traffic switched to Purgatory and the market's still not recovered because the bloody purgers love the discomfort so much. And I'll not go near that brouhaha about 'Angel Showers' except to say that in reality God being so dim has once again proved to be a blessing.

And speaking of pain. I did phone Mouha on Saturday morning about a headache and he said that when he wrote that my pain was his responsibility he meant in an existential way. I tried contacting my lawyer but he's still in Purgatory, seems the caterer's have struck and all flights are cancelled, maybe something good has happened this week. Yay!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A children's ride...

has appeared outside a local supermarket. It features cars shaped like cups and saucers that the man spins gently as they pass him. If there's an excitement scale for these types of funfair equipment with the most dangerous being indexed as 'Poohyerselfanddoitnowcosallcontrolhasgone' and the least frightening as 'agentlebreezehasjustwaftedyourskin' then this ride must be a 'Ihopethatfeatheronyourlegisn'ttoomuchofaninconvenience'

What's sweet is to see the different attititudes on display from the three and four year olds. Some are really cool and take in the air, maybe nod at waiting parents whereas for others it's little ashen faces that stare out as they glide by. Aaahhh!

As a kid I came from the 'ohmigodI'mgoingtobesickohohohohwhoarrrggggghhhhhh h h h' school, and I could achieve this state by merely glimpsing a fair pulling into town. Nowadays I admire the cool tots and feel empathy for those who achieve that curious green hue.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wey Hey!

Back after a short break. This weekend I went to look at Anthony Gormley's new exhibition 'Another Place' on Formby beach in Liverpool.

The above link goes to his website though unfortunately I couldn't find a reference, other than an excellent opening photo, to the sculpture. The piece is composed of 100 lifesize cast iron figures standing upright on Formby's shallow beach. They extend a kilometre into the surf and three kilometres along the beach. As the tide rises and falls the figures are exposed and covered in turns. It is very impressive and always changing. Sometimes only the heads of are visible above the waves, then chests and slowly as the tide recedes each figure stands solitary facing seaward, looking to the west and Ireland or maybe beyond. On Sunday I went with friends from Manchester and it was a beautiful day, sunshine, blue skies, and a perfect wind for our kites. Not that I'm a kite person generally but looking upward into that wonderful sky and watching a Harry Potter kite with it's long tail fluttering high above me was as glorious as it gets. The exhibition is planned to last 18 months and I think it's going to New York next. Such a long seasonal timespan will change the perspectives, autumn gusts, winter storms, spring tides, can't wait.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Of late I've found myself...

watching morning tv in people's houses, snatching ten minutes viewing here, five minutes viewing there. On the tv most mornings as I understand it are programmes of such blanditude (a magnitude of bland) that the will to live or any sense of purpose simply drains away. Two presenters, a woman and a man generally recline on a sofa and speak to guests on another sofa, or a chef/cook who stands in an adjoining kitchen section. It is tv without edge, smooth, warm, uncritical and presented by two human beings whom you forget the moment your gaze wanders from the screen. It set me wondering if utter forgetability is a known human condition and maybe criterion for the job, I then wondered how such a condition might influence the lives of those affected, in restaurants for instance after a waiter has taken their order and turned from the table does that same waiter then forget the order, forget the table or even forget themselves? I presume that it's only through the most intensive personal training, probably done in Nepal, do these presenters manage to retain any shape to their sense of self. If this is true an explanation might exist for the phenomenon of people being found who've lost their identity. Might they be the ones who failed the course? Or more worryingly for the rest of us might these hollow people have in some unguarded way been exposed to a day time tv presenter outside a studio. Clearly they are safe within a studio because guests seem unaffected as do the camera people and other staff.

Currently there's a chap is some hospital in Kent whom doctors and police are trying to identify, he was found wandering and even the labels from his clothes were gone. Imagine wielding such power that even the labels in a person's clothing are no longer safe. Two applications immediately become possible, a military application and a blackmailing application. The battlefield application would be against marching troops, as chaos mounts artillery is laid down, explosions and shrapnel make the air sing with death and as a last resort, just as positions are about to be overrun word comes down 'Deploy the Presenter.' There's a hush, some worry, maybe a question of war crimes, is this really necessary? Suddenly someone in a casual jacket and fake tan is glimpsed through the smoke, wandering in a forward manner. Trained for the whites of the eyes the oncoming soldiers are defenceless before the white of the teeth. Many flee in panic but many more declare a sudden interest in troublesome stains. The military battle is over, the battle for the perfect sheen is about to begin.

Warfare is a messy business but with so many now geared to tidying up a new programme called Battlefield Makeover is only a power breakfast away.

The blackmail application could only apply if the criminal fraternity gained possession of a daytime tv presenter. All the fashion houses would be at risk through the simple but effective threat to unveil a presenter at the next big show unless huge amounts of dosh were forthcoming. A year's work, colours, textures, textiles, design, new cuts, make-up, coiffure, shoes, everything gone in the flash of a mauve blazer. Thy name is Bland, the diffuser of things.

I caught a glimpse of some daytime tv this morning and have been tired ever since, there must be a connection. I'm warning the world now, rather like that guy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Many won't believe me but they're the fools. Ha ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It was all...

Harry Potter last Friday night. I was channel flicking around midnight and suddenly it's Edinburgh Castle suffering what looked like a severe damp problem or as we in the trade say, blotchy walls. I was thinking about the scrubbing contract when it became obvious they were projections of Harry Potter's image. Bloody odd I thought, Harry Potter in Edinburgh. I'll admit being drunk and a tad befuddled but a hundred foot Harry Potter at midnight on a castle wall, in Scotland, was puzzling. Closing an eye did not help one bit. The camera then cut to JK Rowling who walked onto a stage sat down and began to read. At her feet where an unknown number of children cross legged on cushions. AND IT WAS MIDNIGHT! Of course there were the usual one's who couldn't stand the pace, sleeping ones, dozing ones, ones with dribble, ones sucking thumbs, ones with teddies, ones on mother's laps, ones on father's laps, ones in police custody (don't ask, I've really no idea) ones in cots, ones with dogs (vicious dogs with scars and spikey collars), ones in flat caps covered in soot (those bastard fucking Royals!), ones with their lawyers, ones flicking things at the front row ones, ones with chewing gum in their hair, ones with snot, ones with snot in their hair (just in front of the ones with snot, incidentally), ones with crossbows, ones dressed like angels (aaahhhhhhhhh), ones with ones in their hair, jaunty ones, ones using their fingers to draw shapes in pools of sick, cuddling ones, big eyed ones, little chubby ones that were so beautiful you could nip them, ones called Razor, ones with dreams, ones with items in their ears, ones with an unhealthy interest in poo, and towards the back calculating ones, dow jones ones, suspenders and red tie ones, slick haired ones, pin striped ones, piggy eyed ones, Gordon Gecko ones, greed is good ones, fuck you all ones, Wake up at the front! ones, childhood's wasted on the ones ones, in the office first thing ones, at the desk ones, impress Sir ones, lose loads of money ones, caught for fraud ones, four years inside ones, find God ones, new job in Far East ones, hush hush ones, Karl Rove ones, name in the open ones, oh bugger that's not so good ones, I'll stand by him says Bush ones, Grand Jury ones, ha ha says the rest of us ones, tired little ones, fidgeting ones, curly haired ones, droopy eyed ones, rubbing eyes ones, yawwwwwwwwwwning ones, looking around ones, "High mum!" ones, where's dad ones, I'm soooooo soooo tired ones, take me home ones, who is that woman at the front ones, what is she saying ones, where's my bed ones, time to go ones, this bloody soot's everywhere ones, zzzzzzzzzzzz ones, the lights go out ones. Click.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Traffic wardens in Manchester wear...

red. I noticed it again today and though I've not really taken much notice they do seem to carry with them a fair amount of equipment. Portentous machines with buttons and screens and knobs in brushed aluminium or veneer of ochre. It's obvious even to the lay observer that all this kit must be a radiation hazard, bit of a giveaway given sterility is promoted as a perk of the job. How bold is that?

Like many I've seen publicity photographs of fully equipped fighter aircraft where the extra weaponry is spread out on the ground, guns, missiles, ammunition, flares, fuel tanks, assorted pods, nipple clamps, things of that ilk. The layout in such photos is generally of a sleek looking jet parked within a 100 foot diameter of death dealing instrumentation manufactured by the Daggerkill Corp of Arteryrupture, Illinois. A recent brochure advertising Manchester Traffic Wardens produced by the Daggerkill Corp of Little Embolism, Greater Manchester displayed a traffic warden in a similar manner. A solitary figure adjacent to over four hundred different gadgets. It was an cool photograph because the warden had been cleverly positioned to represent an exclamation mark next to equipment arranged to form the words FUCK YOU! A neat touch I thought, both menacing and not easily forgotten.

The question of weight was addressed inside the booklet through one of those diagrams that show the inner workings of things. Via a hidden staircase the uniform could be entered unseen. Beneath the red all weather gear was a structure not unlike the Caterpillar Loader used by Sigourney Weaver's Ripley to fight that mother Alien in film two of the series. The main seating cabin was approached down a long corridor lined with magnificent bay windows and no expense was spared on the sumptuous curtains.

From a coffee house today in central Manchester I saw two wardens and curious I went to ask some questions.

"Heyup," I said. "is all that equipment necessary?"
"Not all of it," They said.
"What bits don't you need then," I shouted up to them.

"Well...lets see, obviously we need the taser for your reluctant driver see, this model's called the Pacifier, kind of speaks for itself. And the cattle prods keep pigeons from shitting on the equipment, pure ochre this, just look at the craftsmanship. Err we've got yer phasers, lasers, dazers, gazers, amazers, hazers, razors, vases, just for flowers like. Out back's where we keep the coal, nothing like coal for a nice fire in winter, then there's that curious hole where beer gets delivered. Oh and the cyber cafe but that's only open at weekends though the Weslyan Chapel uses the next room every second Thursday, nice folk the Weslyans, always making cakes."

"Where's the power come from?" I asked.
"From the Lord of course, ha ha, no, only joking. Have you read of those redundant Russian nuclear submarines?"
"I've read that removing their power plants is a dangerous business." I say.
Both rosy cheeked wardens chuckled, "No removal's were necessary, bought up the whole fleet, one sub for each uniform. Crew and all. Even weaponry, ICBM's, launch codes the lot. Seemed cheaper that way. Turned out to be a real boon."
"Got to be off," Said the more quiet of the two. "The city never sleeps."

And that was that, as they say. I ordered my next coffee in a recycled paper cup and felt that like those wardens I was doing my bit for the environment. Recycling Russian Sub Reactors, whatever next? As a citizen of Manchester it made me walk just that little bit taller, though not too tall mind for what comes through that thinning ozone layer will flay the skin off your average skull in no time.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Pt IV. The Manchester Approaches.

We were encamped above the high water mark just north of Carnforth and it was pleasant to be brought back to wakefulness on that summer's morn. Wavelets looking every inch like lines of tiny Can Can dancers rolled up the beach, arms crossed and whooping but not loud because of their size, "Heeeeeeeeeeeere wego" before bowing and swishing back down, "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere wego!" bowing and swishing back down. "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere wego." bowing and swishing back down. Little rouged faces grinning above fishnet stockings and frilly underwear they kicked up the incline before making a deep bow and shuffled retreat. We were enchanted but swiftly made plans to move once the cattle started to go insane.

Ahead of us was dense forest and there seemed no way forward. Women cowpokes who chewed tobacco and communicated through spit began gobbing at the largest tree nearby. Astonishingly it moved, sort of jerked itself to oneside and just as suddenly was back where it began. The women slapped each other laughed and began taking running spits to achieve better momentum.

Gilly their leader, looking remarkably like Doris Day in Calamity Jane except she had red hair was big boned and astride a gazelle kicked her heels as the animal sprang forward.

"Yeehah!" She shouted and few of us would forgot her terror but fortunately the bonds held so she didn't fall off. To everyone's surprise the forest parted like a curtain to make room for her. Many rushed forward and our final view was of this figure on a lithe African beast springing and jumping, gaining speed, the knotted cords holding her tightly. Like at a rodeo she went forth gripping a broad brimmed Sunday hat, it was something with a net, and from her quickly fading voice came the words "You fucking bastards you've not heard the last of me." Of course about that she was completely wrong.

We stood in a crowd staring at the gap that remained open when a number of voices started up.
"Come on then, don't be all day!"
"For fuck's sake get a move on will you!"
"Move up move up, stop pushing."
"Oooh, you cheeky beggar keep those branches to yourself. The nerve!"
"Can anyone see what's happening?"
"Oi Oi Oi, watch what you're doing will yer, I can't see a bleeding thing now.'

If you've ever seen one of those windswept trees where all the branches are on the leeside this is how the forest suddenly appeared to us and we quickly realised that from the beach all the trees had their backs to us. Never ones to miss a trick we loaded up and began to push our way through. It was not easy, there was not much room so we sent ahead those passengers who were best at forcing their way to the front of things. You know the type, ignorant, rude, surly, broad shouldered, insensitive. With the cowpokes tinging spit off their heads they had an added incentive to make good progress. Sometimes revenge for past ill deeds has a funny way of coming back to bite us on the bum, or neck as it was in this case.

A cacophony of impoliteness rose up from the forest.

"Hey, what the fuck!"
"Do you mind!"
"Watch that rail will you!"
"Oh, I say does your mother know you've got that?"
"Mind me bruise, oh, what is that disgusting brown stuff?"
"I say Archie, it's a train. With a dining car and serviettes and wood veneer, hang on a minute, didn't that tray used to be your Colin? Wow, Colin finally making something of himself. Mind you I suppose it's more a case of something being made of Colin. Still, who'd have thought."

East of us we heard a faint cry, "Ice cream, come and get your ice cream,"

We heaved on in this manner for five hours until forced by the parched cowpokes to stop for water. Behind us there remained no evidence of our passage.

From the top of a nearby oak where three teenagers had snuck for a cigarette but were stopped by a cry of 'Dad!' when an adjoining pine caught sight of their matches, came the shout.

"We can see the outskirts of Manchester from up here!" And they excitedly pointed in the direction all trees were facing.

The forest's many voices once more rose up.

"Course you can see Manchester. What the fuck do you think we're doing?"
The children replied, "We thought you were a forest."
The trees said, "We like to think of ourselves as an audience."
A spotty fifteen year old with greasy hair asked "What you looking at then?"
"Manchester of course. Better than the telly. You humans, you make us laugh, ha ha."
The spotty kid said "Ha, ha, you trees, you make us furniture."
A gruff voice boomed "Hey kid, that's not fucking funny, capiche! And besides you should get that spot seen to, oh sorry that's your face." This final was said to howls of laughter including from us. The kid scowled and tried carving his name into a branch but through poor schooling could only spell one word. We left him, tongue stuck out in concentration asking if Prick was spelt with a P.

Shortly afterwards we broke free of the canopy and before us lay our city, our home.

Behind us trees were saying things like, "Thank fuck for that!..." "They were so impolite, and those women who were spitting!..." "Wait till I tell me mam about our Colin."

As the last rail was laid by platform 14 in Manchester's Piccadilly Station we disembarked and in a stunned silence looked around. We were exhausted, we were bronzed, we had learned things about one another that we perhaps shouldn't, we had stuck together, we had made it, we had returned. The journey finally over. I watched the cowpokes head for the nearest bar laughing and competing with each other to spit the hats off small children. From the rear coach Irish nuns many of whom now had the word DISCIPLINE tatood in mirror form on their foreheads opened a last case of communion wine, drank and began fights. It was a warming sight not marred at all by the later arrests.

And me? I hitched my canvas leggings and strode from the station a changed man, not looking back, only ever now looking forward. And as they took my ticket that one last time the faint words of Colin the tray followed me out.

"Hello, hello, can anyone hear me? I am not a tray, I'm a wooden salver. Fuck!"

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Busy, busy, busy, busy...

phew! I've become a shadow of my former self, a whisper, a zephyr, a fallen leaf. I am a leaf! No I am an acorn, a seed, a genesis, I am on my knees, looking up, getting up, springing forth, leaping high, arms stretched, reaching out, a cry of joy! Bugger. I am a leaf, on the floor, exhausted, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out... There, that's better.

Now, where was I? It is my intention to finish the story of our return from Edinburgh to Manchester as soon as I can. Let me just say it entails a journey through dense forest. I'll say no more, that leaf thing is coming over me again.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The journey home from Edinburgh Pt III....

are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Having decided we could not stomach a return to Manchester via the standard rail network a collective decision was made to find a more direct means. Thus with joy we broke free from the surly bonds and parallel lines of the standard steel track and instead began lifting and laying our own route. It was labour intensive work but with sweaty and bloodied hands we toiled to tear up what we passed over re-using the burnished steel again and again and again. Small flies and the boiling sun scorched us raw and tiny dust devils spun in trying to cause maximum embarrassment by touching us in intimate places. It was no use striking out for a flailing arm only encouraged their gleeful little voices to make personal comments about what shit lovers we were. Some of it was very close to the bone and many men went impotent or developed the 'Shrivel' a mind disease that flattered the stricken with feelings of immense loss. Particularly wearisome was when one devil commandeered the train intercom calling out false lottery numbers in a bold attempt to break us. None believed that freedom would be without cost so we made camp, broke out the grand pianos and sang excerpts from The Barber of Seville.

Under a dawn sky the final notes of Mozart's piano concerto No21 'Elvira Madigan' faded to be replaced by the striking of metal upon metal as we again began to move. The under sixteen's many of whom had been been driven out by the classics returned with tales of enormous burgers who lived in Spatterland directly south. We edged further west. By late morning our progress again was halted as the only evidence of the station listed on our map was a closed wine bar situated beneath a neon sign that intermittently declared 'SHIT' though it might have been 'SHUT' as half the 'U' looked burned through. Many were meant to leave the train at this point and bags were indeed unloaded. From the roof of the forward car a small child pointed to dust that was approaching at speed. Expecting a devil attack we again unloaded the pianos and prepared the overture for La Boheme however it turned out to be the border rushing north to meet us. Oh how we danced at such a turn of events, only ninety miles to Manchester. A medium sized party bound for Glasgow decided to stay with the bags believing the station was due any moment and waving babies they shouted their farewells. I wasn't the only one to weep however the tears may have had more to do with a groin devil than anything sentimental.

Morecombe Bay is a shallow west coast inlet ten miles or so across and in Grange over Sands we hired someone to guide us. These are treacherous waters where tides sweep in very quickly and everyone was wary. For greater efficiency we passed the rails via those from first class who were lined along the roof, waiting at midpoint only for some fool who'd bought an hour ticket for the deckchairs rather than the half hour we had all previously agreed. Jacob our guide told us of a train last year that was completely sucked in by quicksand losing all hands and also shared that his own father had led the fated journey. With typical country humour he laughed and said he was sure it was his father but it might have been his brother, then becoming grave he declared "Oyve suddenly forgotten moy name!" Once landed at Carnforth we sent him on his way but not before tying a parcel of food to the puma that had never left his side. It was a lithe and beautiful animal remarkably well fed and some made links to the many missing elderly whom we previously assumed had wandered off. As an argument brewed between the zoologists and geriatricians we hunkered down, took stock and tried to relax. In fact it became so relaxed we released the castanet players. ARIBA! *

PtIV The Manchester Approaches will follow when I get a moment.

(* to my Spanish speaking friends I've no idea if that's a word or even if I've spelled it correctly. Nevertheless it's a cheery cry.))

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Pt II, the return from

Edinburgh. There is a British novelist called China Mieville who writes fantasy fiction in which he he has built an awesome world of towering imagination. In this world is the city New Crobuzon, a brutal place wherein live races of fantastic beings, insect people called Khepri; Remade who are the punished, literally remade part flesh and blood, part machine, slave people, the lowest order; garuda who are bird people; cactus people called hotchi and many more wondrous races. In the dark and brooding New Crobuzon are footpads, robbers, stealers of children, mystics, spell binders, even other dimensional folk who are both good and bad at the same time. New Crobuzon is described like Victorian London, sewers, stench, darkness, but with modern power sources, overhead railways, slow moving rivers, The Tar and Gross Tar. In China Mieville's book New Crobuzon is Rome, an Imperial City. In the first novel, Perdido Street Station the protagonists are a tiny group of citizens who are thrown into battle against the powerful Mayor on the one hand and terrifying creatures called Slake-moths (of which there are only four) on the other. To fight in such a treacherous and divided city requires stealth, cunning and great bravery, none of which is held in high amount by the heroes.

The second novel is called The Scar and describes a sea journey through fantastical times and places.

The third novel is called Iron Council. New Crobuzon is threatened with destruction in a developing war with another ethereal imperial power. People leave the city, some to travel hundreds maybe thousands of miles through landscapes touched with magic, and bandits, and renegade gangs. Many of these people are chasing a myth, a symbol of freedom that is talked about only in whisper, after dark. This place of liberty, free from New Crobuzon, a threat to New Crobuzon represents the hopes and dreams of so many, but does it really exist this Iron Council? Rumour has it, some claim even to have seen it, that a train rides over the land, forever on the move, taking up rails behind, laying rails before. Going wherever it so wishes, owned only by those who are aboard. Iron Council is an affront to New Crobuzon, to regular order, to Imperial power. Iron Council makes its own decisions, goes where it pleases. It is a symbol of liberty, a thought, a glimpse of what might be, what could be. Iron Council cannot be bound by normal rules, it makes it's own history. Iron Council has broken out.

And so did we. Desperate to avoid a disastrous return journey through drab stations, eating grey food we took control and began to lay our own rails, over platform six, across the main car park. Cutting, heaving, laying down, collecting up, wrenching ourselves free. We sang timetable songs, with choruses of hope where nothing was ever late and everyone had a seat. Glorious songs of fresh bread and bountiful fillings, with butter, and tea that had tea in it...

Tomorrow PtIII

In the meantime for all you out there who've never come across it, Perdido Street Station remains one of most astonishing novels I have ever read.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Travelling by train is a nightmare in this country...

and I got a dose of it yesterday. Using rail in the UK means plunging oneself into a strange nether world not in syc with the real. The other week a train on the east coast lost it's power and ipso facto it's air conditioning. It was a scorching day and people were hermetically sealed in a box with windows that do not open. After an hour under a boiling sun passengers had to smash those windows to escape oven the like temperatures. This experience is only possible if you manage to board a train in the first place. The shitbag Tories privatised the railways in the early 90's, sold it for a song to their rich friends and since then things have gone from bad to worse. Blair states that any solutions to this national disaster must come from the private sector, the railways will not be re-nationalised, despite the fact that this private sector now receives a bigger government subsidy than the previous publically owned railway. Some of these companies are making yearly profits in double figures. Astonishing given that in most sectors of the general economy a profit margin of 2% to 4% is considered robust.

Prior to its sale the national rail network was fragmented and divided into bits. The two biggest bits, rolling stock on the one hand and actual rail and infrastructure on the other were sold as separate items but involving more than 20 companies. So we have a completely mad system where different parts compete with each other, hide information from each other, even lie to each other. For instance rail maintainence companies lie about the quality of their work and this has led to a number of notable disasters that have killed and injured many passengers. On a more mundane level trains will no longer wait for other trains that may have been delayed because companies buy and sell platform slots so that if your train is at the platform longer than the slot paid for they incur a penalty. Honest. Everyday there are horror stories of commuters trying to get onto trains that have not enough carriages because it's cheaper to pack em in like sardines. Sometimes the train simply fails to arrive. Sometimes it doesn't stop where it is supposed to. All in all going anywhere by train is a pretty frought business.

So yesterday I got the train to Edinburgh.

The first train from Manchester to Lancaster was ok, just lulling us into a false sense of security as we later found out. Boarding the second train was a totally different experience because there were only five carriages and it was packed. Two of my agile friends found seats by simply pushing aside an elderly couple and telling two ten year olds they had guns. Actually my mates don't carry guns but 10 year olds are suckers for any old story. Eventually I followed on but only after helping the elderly couple onto a luggage rack where they spent the rest of the journey drinking tea from a flask and reminiscing with the train chaplain. And children learn so quickly, the ten year olds simply moved down the carriage and gained seats by persuading two six year olds the buffet was giving free sweets to those who were good. Suckers! Ah, their little rosy cheeks and eyes full of hope. I later learned they raked in tons of cash by working the loo queue with renditions of Mary Magdalene's song from Jesus Christ Superstar and that sleazy number from Chicago.

My mates were comfortably ensconced in an air conditioned carriage, the elderly were singing old war songs about the Blitz and how having your family wiped out by an air mine was the best thing that had ever happened to them. Brought people together you see though it seemed to me that proximity to any exploding device is more likely to take people apart, but I wasn't there so what do I know. And so we travelled, in a new train that might have worked perfectly had there been a little more of it. Still there were some some nice features, above each seat was a tiny window across which scrolled helpful phrases such as, 'My oh my you're a big fellow.' or 'Whiffy underarm? Have you tried a wash?' and my favourite, 'Interesting that your friends got seats but you're still standing. Confidence problems? Doctor Thimpell from Vienna in carriage F may have the answer. 'Thimpell Therapies for Tired Travellers. Try Them Thoon.' The good Doctor it turns out was alliterate and had a lisp.

Every now and then the guard took to harrangueing us over the tannoy. I think he was annoyed to find passengers aboard. 'When this train left Milton Keynes only five seats were unreserved so I've no idea how the rest of you got on. However, now you're here I suppose I'm stuck with you but I'll hear no whinging about seats and ticket prices, this is a business not a charity and you should have booked. I would remind passengers who might cause trouble that their families who are currently being held in custody by us will not be released until the train reaches Edinburgh and in its currently undamaged state. And yes hostage is a dirty word but get over it.'

Of course there were murmurings, cabals, conspiracies but nothing concrete, nothing we could join. I began a petition but the teenage hoodies in carriage C smoked it. Some tried lifting our spirits with communal songs until stopped by a lawyer sent by the six year olds who'd grown hideously rich from the sale of singing franchises. We finally rolled into Edinburgh stronger as human beings because a storm had been weathered. Of course half the train was reduced to penury through a combination of ticket costs and the tiny tots' business acumen. Some left weeping and clutching photo's of their own children many of whom now belonged to the six year old's.

One thing was certain, that train was a true microcosm with winners (the tots, their lawyers, the train company) and many many losers. Which incidentally was also the word shouted from two tiny figures standing on the back seat of a Rolls that swished by.

Tomorrow I may mention the return journey.

Went to Edinburgh for the Make Poverty History Demo...

and it was huge. The police with their usual underestimating said there were only three people present of which one was an anarchist with a dog on a piece of string. The media said 100-150,000 talk on the demo was of 250,000 and upwards. The demonstration followed a 2.5 mile route around the city centre and back to the park. I was queuing with tens of thousands of others for two and a half hours before I got out of the park and onto the march. Behind me there were still tens of thousands. So huge was the demo that the front of the march re-entered the park before half of us had left. It was a stunning display of anger and concern about world poverty. All the people I spoke to said that they wanted things to change, they could stomach no longer the death of any child from starvation, they wanted an end to war, they wanted a fairer distribution of the world's wealth. End the debt, where there is need meet that need. It was gripping stuff and the G8 ignore this at their peril. For my part I think the G8 are a bunch of ruthless crooks who will do as little as they can get away with, but the demonstrators I think and will not be so easily fobbed off. The next demonstrations will be bigger. Watch this space, as they say!

Yesterday heard a great joke...

on the demo.

Man goes to his Dr and says I've got a rash down below, in the pubic region. Dr has a look and says some cream will sort that out and here's two viagra as well. Man asks what's the viagra for, I've got no problems in that area. Dr replies they'll help keep the sheets off your rash.

Friday, July 01, 2005

In work first thing...

yesterday morning to find a large fly at my desk calling itelf "Norm." He was gambling online and I expressed some concern, especially as it was 8:30 in the morning. Norm said "Baby, after spending all day eating shit a little recreation helps takes your mind off the fact. Pass me that ashtray will you?" I said, "This is about the fridge isn't it?" And he gave me a long cool look.

In my old workplace the fridge was clean, sterile, it was a barren place of no hope ruled by the lactose intolerant and heaving with neatly folded notes and instructions. Everything was squared off, each shelf indexed and coded. Just under the little light sat a row of desks where the minerally deficient listened to lectures about allergies and wheat flora. I even listened once to a talk called "Why taste gives you syphilis.". Plainly not a place to store food or anything nice. It had door hinges that prayed. That fridge was so straight it took communion at mass on Sunday mornings and last summer saved two small children from drowning in a local park. It was a sanctimonious little fucker.

This new office fridge is of a completely different water. For a start we can't close the door because the seal is twisted and it's only got two shelves, well one shelf and the bottom. It's hinges are rusted and will pull any unbraced shoulder right from that socket. And when opened it makes a "Fuck, not again." noise like its really bothered. We love it.

So Norm fixes me with his multi faceted eye and says. "Those fridges are unsafe." So I say, "In what way." And he says, "A few of us have received obscene texts from the mould that's taken up in there." "What mould." I say and he says, "The one who does racing tips." I say, "I don't gamble so haven't noticed." He says "Go and have a look." So I go to the fridge and there it is chalking up the odds on some race or other that's about to start. I come away quickly when a small glaring crowd shout "DOOR!"

I gave Norm's multi whatsit a good glare and said. "Fucking top fridge Norm. Live with it." And he says, "I've left the petition on your desk"

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I no longer answer my phone...

because 9 times out of ten it will be a computer trying to sell me something. And they are persistant. Some sound like Hal from 2001, "High Dan, no I'm not saying your kitchen is shit but just look around. Don't hang me up Dan, Dan..." On the average night I'll receive 8 maybe 9 of these calls. I know it's them because they never list their number, so if I check the gadget that records who's just phoned the voice always says, oddly in a Cornish/US accent, "The caller witheld their number." Lots or RRRR's and Brrrr's in that phrase. I love that voice, I'd buy cattle from that voice, it's a rural voice, got integrity. Thank fuck they don't use that voice to sell me stuff. "The caller has withheld their number Dan, but oi 'ave this fine Heifer, fit perfectly into that kitchen of yours, what with the mess and all."

Ocassionally there'll be a live human and they always sound suprised as if not expecting anyone to actually answer their call, "Err, oh, yeah, umm, hullo, yeah sorry, high. Jeeze man you really made me jump..." So I say, "You phoned me." and then follows a scripted reply spoken over the sound of pages being turned. "Is that Dan?" "Yes" "That kitchen's really fucked man!"

And it's all so ubiquitous (c'mon look it up, look it up!). I swear the other week friends were round for dinner and I answer the phone. A very noisy line, and I'm waiting for the pitch, I'm impatient, so I say "HELLO!" From down the phone a glass goes over, something's spilled, there's music, conversation, laughter and a script being rustled, "Hello," I say and can hear the voice on the other end say, "Bugger wrong script, I think the other's in me bag, hang on a mo..." So I say, "Hello, you rang me remember." And the voice says "Keep you're fucking hair on, some of us are trying to work here. Where's that bag" Then from the table my mate Joe says "Dan, where's me bag?" And he's holding his mobile fucking phone. So I say down the phone "It's by the front door." And he says. "Thanks mate." And I say to his disappearing back "There's fuck all wrong with this kitchen." He hangs up, returns to the dinner and says "Bugger, another sale lost. Still, he sounded like a right wanker."

See what I mean?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tonight I'm...

off to see Antony and the Johnson's play at Manchester University. Just released a strange and haunting album called 'I am a bird now'. Excellent.

Sadly no time for a blog so here's a joke instead.

Man goes into a petshop and says, "I'd like to buy a wasp." The pet shop owner replies, "We don't sell wasps." And the man says, "Well there's one in the window."

I've been thinking of that joke all day and it still makes me laugh.

Monday, June 27, 2005

In the UK Tony Blair's government...

insists the whole country needs identity cards. Posh, technologically advanced ID cards with something called biometrics in them. A public debate is beginning to generate about whether this is necessary but I've become more interested in the debate about what information should be on the card. I know it's a burning issue because I've heard people talk about it. Every day after work I go for a run around a beautiful little park near to my home. It's a good park with swings and slides for the children, trees, a green area for football, plenty of shade for lying around. Crowcroft Park is also a popular park, always busy, children rushing and shrieking, chasing their friends, old folk sitting on benches watching the day go by, couples strolling and holding hands, families promenading. Time slows down in such parks, nothing is hurried, even runners like me.

And lo today's park topic is ID cards and I swear it's on everyone's lips. I pass a 2 year old who's just vomited a pool of alphabet spaghetti in which float the words 'Al Qaeda' that is then licked up by a stray dog. Nearby observers nod at the child's luck and whisper about renditions, Guantanamo, and orange rompers though that bit was lost on me. I'm later told the baby was beneath the dappled canopy of the park's largest oak and so could not be seen anyway by the NSA satellite that covers these parts. And besides US Intelligence still hasn't sorted out the glitches in their baby sick programme, though they do have a secret deal with Heinz whereby over a period alphabeti will be incrementally reduced until there's only one huge letter in every can. Apparently it's the only certain method of avoiding that baby pooh/encryption locus.

Nearby, two elderly women, blue rinses catching the sun sit like angels with bright heads and talk loudly with that public frankness you only hear from people who are either really old or really young.

One says "Those baby bio cards, I wonder if they'll let us keep mementoes in them? I saved a bit of my Jenny's umbilical cord, she were a lovely baby our Jenny. Of course it shrivelled up and then there was the time Henry tried smoking it, well his eyes were going and it were dark. He said to me Elsie, what's the matter with this tobacco? It smells like pork! I thought they could fit it in a piece of glass, like those catholic relics, in the middle of the card. And everytime someone official asks for it it'll be a talking point as well."

Even the local bored teenagers who as I passed were carving prime numbers on the legs of a tiny scoutmaster had an opinion. Though typical of that age it was mainly expressed in grunt, a language familiar only to themselves. I was struck though by the khaki shorts with hoops that made their poor victim look like he'd been eaten by a couple of trumpets and that from 6 miles up might also resemble the binary configuration for FUCK YOU!

There's bound to be arrests.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

People are wonderful...

but sometimes a little odd, and I don't exclude myself from this. The front wall outside my house has been looking pretty shabby for a year or two now. Charities have started posting leaflets inviting me to apply for grants and other forms of assistance. I answered the door once to a local priest who from the front wall's condition assumed I was near death. I said I didn't believe in God and also thought Benedict the Umpteenth was a stop gap pope who wouldn't last the course. He left in a huff when I suggested the next pope might not even be Catholic, sort of as a shock result. You know how it is with those ancient Cardinal guys I shouted at his receding back, dark room, nappy time, and before you can say I've forgotten my name a young French nurse is Popina Angelique I. It's easily done. Not impressed with my perspective on pope futures he managed to push down a bit of my wall on the way out. I could be generous and say he stumbled, but the un Christian, "Rot in hell you Marxist Fuck" was a giveaway. However, this is a wall story so I'll move on.

Yesterday I bought a 1kg lump hammer, 1" chisel and set about said wall. Now many of you may know I'm a social worker by profession and therefore not used to holding manly tools of anykind. Nevertheless I managed the day with little injury though the RSI flared up. Not for me builder's lung, dislocated shoulders, or melanoma from all that sun, no siree, all I'm good for is a bit of tendonitis. Still I was proud to have suffered for that wall. Today I bought some cement, forgot the sand. In fact didn't know I needed sand until I the cement wouldn't mix. A passing priest, for it was he, muttered, "You forgot the sand, you half wit. Think you can change the world when you can't even change a wall!". I politely asked him if the 90 year old Benedict the Umpteenth had "MADE IT THROUGH THE FUCKING NIGHT?" but he affected not to hear. I fetched sand. 10 minutes later he passed again. "You forgot the bricks numbskull." Hmmm, I crept to the store and bought bricks. A crowd gathered, it's a hot Sunday, the football season's over, people are bored. The crowd got bigger, arguments were had about the proportions of sand to cement (6 to 1 as it happens), priests worked the aisles, everyone had an opinion. Hours later I'd laid my four bricks (the coping stones are for another Sunday) even used a spirit level. A passing hippy who looked like Jesus quietened the crowd with a tale about real spirits in the level, tiny trapped Sisyphus's pushing against each other in eternal competition.

"Hey look man," He said in that classic stoner voice. "You can even see them." He held the level to his eyes and lost touch with the rest of us. "Hey! Hey! Fuck man. there's a fucking crowd of them, and they're all fucking green. Hey and there's priests working the aisles man. Wow." I gently took back my level and the hippy blinked "Far out man, far out. I think there's more than two Sisyphuses in there man. Never seen that before, more than two. And fucking priests as well man. Fuck!" He gave two fingers of peace to the crowd and wandered away muttering "That level's fucked man, crowd like that, how's the bubble gonna move man?"


Saturday, June 25, 2005

I was stopped...

on a country road yesterday by a ginger cat languidly scratching itself in the middle of the road. I looked at it, it looked at me and continued to scratch. Eventually after what seemed like an age it sighed yawned and moved ever so slowly to the road side and began to examine a squashed hedgehog. All my friends know I hate cats, I'm allergic to them, seriously, need drugs and stuff. My ideal cat is a flat cat, hedgehog style, or cats drop kicked over walls, I don't really care which, anyway the cat was slinking into the undergrowth when a bird shat on its head. It really did! For a moment the woodland froze, all sound stopped and then I heard a single bird laugh, tee hee, followed immediately by a heh heh, then a hah hah, then gales of bird laughter, louder and louder then with mania. A Hitchcock moment started to develop, well more Beavis and Butthead as I began to understand what they were saying, and it was sooo rude. Lots of voices, a cacophony in fact, the collective noun for this type of thing is a 'bitterness'.

"Fuck him, yeah, fuck him." "Right on the noggin, well done Charles." "Yeah do it again" "Yeah lets all shit!" "Give him what the hedgehog got, yeah" "Flat bastard, yeah" "Where's the fucker slipped away to?" "Little bastard, try licking that off" "Heh, heh, didn't he eat your brother?" "I know, lets shit on each other!" And at that the forest again fell silent and all including me turned to the seediest looking bird who said "What? It was only a suggestion!"

Then a gruff little voice said "Who's that fucker in the car?"

And an even gruffer little voice replied. "He's looking at us, the fucker, think he brought the cat. Let's shit on him."

So I wound up my window and left with a thought that maybe it's not age that gets woodland birds but ulcers from all that stress.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The summer has finally arrived in...

Manchester. It is soooo hot and humid. In the area of south central Manchester where I live it's a melting pot of nationalities. Longsight and Levenshulme, neighbouring areas are so cosmopolitan. In the 50s Levenshulme was a big Irish area and there's still Irish pubs here. In the 1960's Longsight became a big African Carribean area, now there are Pakistani people and Indians, Bangladeshis, Nigerians, Sudanese, Egyptians, Iranians, Iraqis. Two years ago on Longsight's brilliant little Saturday market I was on an anti Iraq war stall and during an hour and a half petitioning I spoke to people from 31 different countries. All in this tiny area of Manchester. I was so impressed. At this moment my windows are open and I can hear an African man talking to a taxi driver in the street below. An African family has moved in opposite and they have small children who run around, it's nice to hear that sound again in the street, children shouting a having fun.

And the heat, ah the heat. The British are an odd lot when it comes to the weather, talking about the weather is an national past time. Meeting people at the bus stop, in a queue, at the shops, strangers in a bar, on a train, everyone's opening comment is about the weather. Generally it's either too hot or too cold. For us Brits the weather is never just so. I find this annoying because I love the heat, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot. I like that feeling of sweat trickling down the centre of the back, and the stillness of a summer night. I like being able to leave the windows open, and the way sound travels long distances so you can hear faint music, or a train, or a heavy truck, or people talking quietly sitting on their front step feeling the warmth on their skin. And food, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, food. Below is a recipe for Gaspacho, a traditional Spanish soup served cold. To sip Gaspacho on a summers eve is to be touched by heaven itself.

Summer, hurrah, and it's only just begun!

Gaspacho is an easy soup so you don't need to be gentle with it, if you've got tomatos, cucumber, garlic, onion, olive oil, and lemon you're 3/4's of the way there. Add a pinch or two of some beautiful green herbs and the whole world is suddenly a finer place.

Serves: 4

1 tb Chives, fresh4 oz Olive oil1 tb Chervil, freshJuice of one lemon1 tb Parsley, fresh1 Onion, mild; slice paperthin1 tb Basil, fresh1 c Cucumber; diced1 tb Marjoram, freshSalt1 Garlic clovePepper1 Pepper, bell1/2 c Bread crumbs2 Tomato; peeled & seeded

Chop the herbs and mash thoroughly with the garlic, pepper, and tomatoes, adding the oil very slowly, and the lemon juice. Add about three glasses of cold water [I still say this is the *correct* liquid. But often I use good meat or fish stock.] or as much as you wish. Put in the onion and the cucumber, season, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and ice for at least four hours before serving.

Bugger, I can't end this blog without one final recipe. I know this as Peri-Peri but it may have another name.

Serves 4.

Olive oil
Dry white wine
red chillies
fresh corriander
unshelled prawns
bread for the mopping up.

Take a large wok and pour in half pint of olive oil, finely slice two or three large onions and saute. Add oodles of garlic and cook. Finely slice a couple of red chillies and sling them in, add more or less chillies depending on how hot you want it. And mind them Scotch Bonnets as they've been known to take a man's hand off just by looking at them (message to my Guyanese friends, I know, I know, I'm being really wimpy re the chillies but I'm a white European, I can't help it.). Throw in a hefty pinch of salt and pepper to taste. When the onions and garlic etc are soft pour in most of the wine and bring to boil. The alcohol will boil off fairly quickly but give it a moment anyway. When the liquid is simmering throw in the prawns and cook for five mins. Finally, chop a decent sized bunch of the freshest coriander and throw that in. Stir only once then take it immediately to your friends at the table where it is eaten with chunks of bread. Drink loads of wine and beer. Be deliriously happy.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

There's a dog barking...

outside. Make's me think of Gary Larson's dogs who are all really thick. Yup, dogs are dim. Some time in distant history they saddled themselves with us. Been downhill all the way for dogs since then.

Women's brains turn off...

at orgasm. The UK press this week has been running a story about how the more intense a woman's orgasm the more her brain shuts down. The articles have been accompanied by 3D images done on those doughnut shaped MRI machines. Oddly there's no photo's of men's brains at orgasm where no doubt the opposite applies. A brief supernova with the emphasis on brief.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Here in the UK...

some rich people drive enormous vehicles. Machines designed to be driven through jungles and deserts, over glaciers, across the dark side of the moon. In driving terms UK roads are average, bland, safe, uninteresting, one might even say dull. By European standards the country is fairly flat yet these wankers insist on paying thousands and thousands of pounds (I gather between £30,000 and £150,000) to own one. The UK is also a relatively clean place, no dust storms, typhoons, tornados, monsoons, mudslides, or any other catastrophe that might lead one to think, my family is so much safer with that 4 by 4 parked in the drive. The latest must have for 4 by 4's is spray on dirt. I kid you not. For the princely sum of £7:50p you can buy a aerosol of dirt to spray on your car, sort of to make it look like its been used properly. Only the rich are stupid enough to buy dirt, they haven't cottoned on to what the rest of us know, that dirt is free and exists in abundance, you've only to look behind my sofa to see that. What an odd world capitalism makes for us. Prior to the 1930's the rich hated tans because only the poor had them, a tan was a sign you worked out of doors. Wealthy people displayed pale skin as a mark that they did not need to work. That changed as holidays in hot areas became an exclusive of the rich, so tans became a sign of wealth. Once dirty cars symbolised a form of poverty now they symbolise wealth. Actually this is not strictly true, because beneath the new dirt are new cars, expensive cars, phenomenally expensive cars. The rich are so rich they buy camouflage to make it look like they really use these vehicles as designed. I imagine driving round most neighbourhoods on a Sunday morning and men (why is it always men!) are out washing cars clean, drift into the richer suburbs and they're spraying them dirty. Honest, they'd starve if left to themselves.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I am so offended...

by this James Blunt single called You Are Beautiful that I downloaded the lyrics just to make sure my queasy feeling was based in the world of fact. The plot goes like this, James Blunt (or another wanker) is on the subway when he sees a beautiful girl. Catching her eye fills him with longing and desire. Knowing they can never be one he laments. "But we shared a moment that will last till the end." This drivel then proceeds through one final verse and ends by pointing the finger of blame at an angel.

The first time I heard this on the radio I nearly crashed. A bloke sees a girl on a train, she sees him, he falls in love with her, he gets off (presumably at his stop though it's not made clear, in such a deranged state it might have been an earlier station) he's depressed, he blames God.

Interstingly we never hear the woman's view. More likely she catches his eye and thinks, 'Fucking hell, who's that perv looking at. Jeeze it's me. Better look away. Poor bugger, even surgery wouldn't put that right. Oh thank God he's getting off.'

Quod erat demonstrandum, methinks.

Friday, June 17, 2005


this last fortnight life's candle has been burning me at both ends, not even enough time to blog, fortunately the tide of busyness has again receded so I'm back proper on Monday. Before I go, here's something that I like and something that's really been getting on my nerves. There's a new version of Martha and the Muffins' "Echo Beach" by a band called Vanderkill currently sounding out on UK radio, it is so good. Unlike the putrid efforts of someone called James Blunt whose current single would win prizes in a competition based on how many sickbags a normal person might fill if severely provoked. I plan to dwell on this further after the weekend.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Robot bartender in...

Glasgow. So declares a headline on Net News this morning. Oh how the mighty are fallen. In only two weeks a promising career in medicine, over. No mention was made of the circumstances that dragged Sister Mary so low, nor interestingly was there an indication of the type of bar she now frequents. For more information I set loose a search engine, it took two tries. My first category: Robot Doctor/Scandal, had thirty hits, all unfortunately referring to how Pope John Paul's old life support machine became a drug mule in Naples after been thrown onto the streets by the new guy. Apparently Dominic the Umpteenth was having a clearout and JP2's trusty leather bellows (genuine calfskin) were first to go. The rest is well known, gambling, debts, a tincture too many of the holy wine, heroin. Everyone saw it coming.

My second category: Sister Mary/Vigorous Bed Bath/No Change Given/Mind That Mess On The Floor, bore fruit. Honest, it shot me straight to the site of Trixie's Palace in Easterhouse, even had a photograph of Sister Mary behind the bar dispensing both drinks and advice regarding infections that weep. Robot Doctor looked tarnished but well though promising career in pole dancing ended when she fell for the pole.

I suspect we've not heard the last of Sister Mary, robot functionary, friend to the lonely. Struck off but not struck out.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Perhaps it's my week for...

profound abstractions but this morning I was in a Salford tower block on the way down. Stopping on a mid floor the lift doors opened to reveal these words on the wall opposite, 'It's me, where R U?' Seems there's a lot of connections not being made out there. Something needs to be done about it. Either that or these people should get a grip, find some friends, stop hassling me. Tomorrow I'm going to buy a can of black paint, spray a few walls myself. 'Hi, was a bit early, got bored, met someone, we're off on holiday together, they're really fun, make me laugh, buy me drinks, no it's not serious, oh the big car? Hey, it may seem shallow to you, how dare you accuse me of, I never did, you were asleep, you're always asleep, I'm off, fuck you, no and fuck you as well, leave him Wayne he's not worth it.'

That should do the trick.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Travelling by train...

to London on Saturday morning we passed some heavy duty road laying equipment. Sprayed across an enormous vehicle were the words, 'We never met.' Hmm, a vandal with existential angst. Nevertheless an improvement on 'Trev luvs Maxine 4eva'.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Holiday weekend...

off to London for a mate's 4oth. Been so busy I've felt sick. Moan, moan, moan, moan. However, on this fair Friday night the sun is shining, bottle of wine is open, long weekend stretches before me like... a holiday. Ha, ha.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Apropos the previous blog...

Sister Mary made the front page of yet another broadsheet yesterday. This is a story that just wont lie down, rather like Sister Mary in fact. I went for the Sunday papers this morning reflecting on machines and their influence. In the average British street there's cash machines, street crossing machines, message machines, bloody surveillance machines linked remote machines, communication machines. We're passed by machines, cars, buses, cleaning machines, heavy goods machines. If this Sister Mary thing takes off then every machine can be invested with a little personality maybe multiple personalities, why stop at one, everyday a new choice, a new selection. Happy, sad, inquisitive, cheery, optimistic, pessimistic, and why not a Travis Bickle option? Now I'm as much for machine liberation as the next person but foresee problems, especially in the street. What if these machine's were quick to take offence? We want them to be sensitive but where does is end? Where does it start? A sliding scale perhaps, from touching to touchy? I don't like the idea of being barracked by machines to whom I've not been introduced but is that worse than not being noticed by them at all? Step out and the street falls silent, wouldn't that be a downer? And the whispering as you approach that continues once you're past. Half caught words, 'Knob.' '...fucking head kicked in', '...can't get a girlfriend.' '...ointment.' These things know so much about us they're bound to talk to one other. Queuing would be a nightmare because no one would want to stand too long in any one place for fear of drawing their attention. '...hey rashy, yes you, fourth from back. Now look at me when I'm talking to you...' With so much communication it would only be a matter of time before they discovered rumours. Suddenly it's not only the machines that stop to look at you but people do as well, more whispering, vague, '...extendable ladder... imminent arrest...' To cap it all you begin to notice the neighbours spending more and more time by the bank. Ha ha, it eventually dawns that these machines are even worse at telling fact from fiction than we are. So you start a few rumours of your own, mention a new dispenser in town, Korean, quantum hard drive, can be in two places at same time, does house calls... You walk tall again. Yeah.

Friday, May 20, 2005

On the front page...

of yesterday's Guardian newspaper was a photo of Sister Mary, Robot Doctor. Very fetching in brushed aluminium, slim base, tapered waist broadening at the top, cheap casters. It reminded me of a urinal in which languish fag ends and those little disinfectant blocks that having failed the mothball exam are thereafter the focus of life's golden stream. Goes to show what happens when you neglect your education, lesson here for everyone methinks.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Robot Dr...

to be called Sister Mary. This morning's radio heralded a new medical robot to assist Doctors. Wonder if there's to be a choice of bedside manner? Can imagine disciplinarians turning the tough love knob to 11 and rather than "It's a cold Mr Johnson take two paracetamol and the morning off." we'll get "SNIVELLING LITTLE FUCKER, YOU'LL BE ASKING ME THE WIPE YOUR ARSE NEXT!" With a 50 Kilovolt taser shot to help you leave. For the real nutters there might be a Travis Bickle option, not "Let me look at you." but "YOU LOOKING AT ME!".

I think people will be put off.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

George Galloway...

has been on the news all day giving it what for to a US Senate Committee. It was good to see him attacking those sanctimonious bastards, stating he met the monster Hussien twice in the name of peace, unlike Rumsfeldt who met him twice in the cause of war. And all that before he exposed the many forged documents they are using for evidence plus the fact that Ahmed Chalabi, a convicted fraudster is one of their main witnesses. These cronies of Bush are so arrogant they can't even be bothered to cover their tracks. I imagine it's not just us in Europe who were cheering Galloway today, North and South I suspect many American's were too.

Not far from my home there's a high school. Poking out from the fence is a single rape seed plant. The European Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) gives farming subsidies to grow rape seed for cooking oil, hence it's popularity. In large scale fields its yellow flower achieves an impressive appearance chequered against the many shades of country green. A single seed escapes conformity and journeys into town, possibly on one of the heavy lorries used recently in the school's redevelopment. Now it peeks through new blue railings and they set each other off rather well I think.