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.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Here in the UK...

Blair's government continue to generate a climate of fear against the young. The latest symbol of youth misrule to strike terror throughout the land is the hoodie, or hooded top. Yup, the wearing of a hooded top by young people is now an affront to democracy and civilised values. In fact hoodies are currently being banned from shopping centre's up and down the country, a strange fact given it's from these same shopping centre's that most hoodies are bought. The department stores better watch out for it can't be good business to sell someone a garment then bar them on the basis that they now own that garment. What an odd concept, excluding people who have just become your customers. It must be source of daily astonishment that anyone actually makes it through the doors of your average emporium. Over the last week or so economists have been telling us that the latest spending boom is well and truly over. Hardly a surprise now shopping is akin to crime. A worry like that can put a person off, you ask for baked beans and what's heard is, "I've got a gun." Little wonder the prisons are full, probably of shoppers. Bet it's more quiet in there now, no danger of riots, not with all that queuing going on.

In today's Observer newspaper are statistics that give lie to Blair's claim that we are all at risk from a growing wave of teenage crime. For instance, the number of 10 to 17-year-olds convicted or cautioned fell from 143,000 to 105,700 between 1992 and 2002, a drop of nearly 26%. The number of young offenders has actually decreased over the past three years, but three-quarters of people asked believe that the numbers have gone up. Only 11% of known offenders are under 18, although one third of people believe that this age group is responsible for the majority of crime.

There is a Class element to the whirlwind of hatred currently lashing the young. For instance Prince Harry's drunken assault on a journalist and the Nazi regalia he wears when out partying are examples of high jinks. On the other hand to wear a hooded top and live on a council estate is to be beyond the pale.

Fortunately the real truth is in survey after survey which show young people to be angry about the environment, about global warming, about poverty, about racism and sexism, about homophobia, about unfairness. Which explains why so many of them struck against the war in Iraq and why on every demonstration their numbers grow. After all, they only have a world to win.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Been such a busy week...

busy, busy, busy, busy. Grrr.

The weekend starts tomorrow, hurrah! I know I've done this weekend hurrah thing before, but fucking hell... I have an image of Robinson Crusoe face down on that south sea beach, washed by the tide, waves lifting his body and setting it down, exhausted. A hard journey has brought him to this place, this paradise. Suddenly there's beer in his hand, invigorated he spits into the receding surf. Forever reborn on the Isle of Weekends he looks around, hmm, excellent, and is that music and dancing?

One final glance catches the wreckage of So That Was Last Week Then! slipping into history's briny depths. And Robinson? He's already at the bar, chatting.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Was driving...

over the Mancunian Way this morning. It's an elevated motorway that cups the city centre's southern edge. The number of cranes is astonishing, changing the skyline, transforming Manchester. Returning from an appointment I later crossed Barton Bridge, a high viaduct that lifts the outer ring road over Manchester's ship canal. I was looking east, admiring the tall city blocks and hills beyond when from far below a heron flew up and over the traffic. The big bird heaved itself into a glide and I could see the air ruffle feathers along its side and underneath. There and gone in a moment, yet what a moment!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Heard this on telly the other night...

it's an old joke but a good one. Old guy at Dr's. Dr says I'm afraid you're suffering from bronchitis and dementia. Old guy says, Thank god it's not bronchitis.

Not sure why that makes me laugh but it does.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Can't get out of this literary mode...

' I was still with Jordan Baker. We were sitting at a table with
a man of about my age and a rowdy little girl, who gave way
upon the slightest provocation to uncontrollable laughter. I
was enjoying myself now. I had taken two finger-bowls of
champagne and the scene changed before my eyes into
something significant, elemental, and profound.

At a lull in the entertainment the man looked at me and

"Your face is familiar," he said politely. "Weren't you in the
First Division during the war?"

"Why, yes. I was in the Twenty-eighth Infantry."
"I was in the sixteenth until June nineteen-eighteen. I
knew I'd seen you somewhere before."
We talked for a moment about some wet, grey little villages
in France. Evidently he lived in this vicinity, for he told me
that he had just bought a hydroplane, and was going to try
it out in the morning.

"Want to go with me, old sport? Just near the shore along
the Sound."
"What time?"
"Any time that suits you best."
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask his name when Jordan
looked around and smiled.
"Having a gay time now?" she inquired.
"Much better." I turned again to my new aquaintance.
"This is an unusual party for me. I haven't even seen the host.
I live over there -" I waived my hand at the invisible hedge in
the distance, "and this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with
an invitation."
For a moment he looked at me as if he failed to understand.
"I'm Gatsby," he said suddenly.'

Last night I made a mistake, went round to a mate who lives two doors away (between us we bookend the Dealers). He offered me a glass of wine, I was tired, I was stressed. Two hours later we were very drunk. Pouring wine into an empty stomach is like mainlining the stuff. It's not big and it's not clever. As a result I was knackered all day, not so much hung over as hung.

It's the General Election and every now and then a car sidles by with speakers and a voice normally heard only at railway stations. Mumble... muffled... Arghhhhh, ...tion... gerrout an vote, ... crackle...PASS US A FAG JEFF... nnnnnnnnnnnnn ... eeeeeeeeeeeeee.. last week.... grrrrrrrrrr... sssssssssss... put your x ... hmmmmmmmmmm.. affair... ssssss... vote now... .fffffffffffffftttttttt... night shift...rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... course I'm gutted... mmmmmmmm...

Half the street's out waiting for their next pass.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

It must be the spring mood...

so here's two final poems.

Philip Larkin first.


What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in :
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

( I like the idea of being pursued breathlessly over fields by priests and doctors with their long coats flapping. And might it be a corn field under blue summer skies dabbed with giant puffs of cumulus. How could you stop yourself laughing out loud at such a thing?)

This next one is DH Lawrence.

A Living

A man should never earn his living
if he earns his life he'll be lovely.

A bird
picks up its seeds or little snails
between heedless earth and heaven
in heedlessness.

But, the plucky little sport, it gives to life
song, and chirruping, gay feathers, fluff-shadowed warmth
and all the unspeakable charms of birds hopping and fluttering
and being birds.
- And we, we get it all from them for nothing.

See what I mean about spring? And the birds being such sports. The little sweeties.

An April shower poured down from the heavens this morning. I got wet but so what? I like deluges. Just outside our office door two enormous pools of water collected and people had to tiptoe through them. It was fascinating to watch because no one seemed to mind. Some laughed, others shrugged and no one was miserable. Spring rain has an energy that sluices straight through those mental nooks and crannies where we've huddled these past winter months. Cleaned the place out, made it spick and span. Invigorated us. I think that's what Larkin and Lawrence are saying.

Monday, May 02, 2005

I'm blogging poetry...

to cheer myself up. A gang of dealers has moved in next door and they're making my life very difficult. Hopefully things will soon change.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was writing 200 years ago. He hated tyranny in all its forms and wrote about the fight for equality, including equality for women and in this he was influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft.

In August 1819 a huge and peaceful demonstration occurred in Manchester, only two miles from where I now live. Thousands of ordinary people met in St Peter's Fields to call for the vote. The local yeomanry with sabres and horses attacked the crowd killing 13 people and injuring many more. In response Shelley wrote The Mask of Anarchy, one of the most powerful political poems ever written.

Here's the first six stanzas plus the final three that address the impact of Peterloo and the anger it generated. The poem concludes with a call to arms that can still send shivers down my spine.

The Mask of Anarchy

I met murder on the way -
He had a mask like Castlereagh -
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him.

All were fat, and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to millstones as they fell;

And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies...

(The final bit is a roar of anger about Peterloo)

And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

And these words, shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again - again - again

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are the many - they are the few.

It speaks for itself. Anyone interested in reading more about Shelley's politics and poetry should read Paul Foot's Red Shelley.