Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Friday 17 August 2007

waiting for a man.
builder, courier, lover.
they never turn up.

The gasman was due to come round today to give my boiler its annual inspection. ‘Between 8am and 5 pm’ they said.
At two o’clock, the doorbell rang and a brummy voice said ‘I’m just checking you’re in, I’m doing an inspection down the road and I’ll be with you in half an hour.’
Forty minutes later he rang the bell again to tell me he’d been called to an emergency and would get back to me.
At four o’clock, the contractors rang me to say that he’d been called to yet another emergency and unfortunately, would not be coming to my house today.
Unsurprisingly I was vexed.
I went to Hammersmith and bought some chicken and a large bottle of vodka, noticing a headline in The London Lite as I left the train which read ‘Feral Children Arrested in Possession of Tactical Nukes’.
The UO made a blinding curry and we got drunk and watched ‘Big Brother’.
BB, for its own reasons, seems to have been targeting Carole this week. Admittedly, the woman has control issues and seems compelled to give instructions or advice to anyone venturing within a teabag’s throw of the kitchen. I cannot imagine, however, that the rest of the housemates’ behaviour was so dull that the producers were left with no alternative but to show relentless scenes of Carole arguing about slices of bread and whether carafes of water should be placed on the dining table or not.
So, the public voted from a pool of six housemates and Carole and Gerry garnered the highest figures.
Earlier in the week, the housemates had competed to become gurus in tasks of self-improvement, and the three gurus (Tracy, Ziggy and The Twins – who are now considered as a single entity) had to decide which of them to evict.
Obviously BB was hoping for some drama and tears, but Gerry, bless him, scuppered all that by volunteering himself before anyone could cast a single vote.

Thursday 16 August 2007

exploding manholes?
yes. outside the job centre.
it could be methane.

Talking of explosions, Brixton Road was cordoned off this morning after a manhole exploded outside the job centre. I left the bunker for a restorative cigarette and mosied down to the corner where I found some of our engineers, watching the emergency investigators and the police.
They’re very good speculators, and ran though all the possibilities known to man from terrorism to methane build up beneath the pavement.
I think it was feral children with tactical nukes, personally, but the engineers dismissed my suggestion as being far-fetched.

Wednesday 15 August 2007

swipe my oyster card!
shiver my new allegro,
jim lad! things have changed.

We had chicken kievs this evening, a delicacy to which I’m rather partial. I am still suffering from something bronchial and am waking up in the night and coughing.Thankfully, most of the time, the Ugly One sleeps the sleep of the just and won’t be woken by anything short of a landmine going off under the bed.

Tuesday 14 August 2007

on holby city
the evil surgeons battle
for time and air space

My stalker was not there today. What sort of stalker is he? I expect a certain level of commitment from obsessives. Very poor!
It’s no wonder standards are falling in the UK.

Monday 13 August 2007

a tall ginger man
stalked me at hammersmith tube.
i was so grateful

Coming out of Hammersmith Tube this evening I was smiled at by a tall ginger man. I smiled back, as is my habit, and then was followed to Marks & Spencer, after even at one point having to cross the road because someone had blown up the cash machine at Lloyds Bank.
He did not follow me in and stalk me through the Italian aisle, which I feel shows a lack of dedication to his craft.

Sunday 12 August 2007

sun on edgware road
falls on woolworths, makes it shine.
argos gleams less bright.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Saturday 11 August 2007

costa at tesco.
an iced americano;
large cappuccino.

The Ugly One and I went off to the DIY centre to sort out some paint for the walls, reasoning that as the living room was more or less cleared of the usual clutter we might as well take the opportunity to paint it. Ranges of paints are given evocative names, as I suspect they always have been, and I am concerned that our choices were affected by the quality of the names, rather than the colours themselves. We had already selected our choices, which were Bongo Jazz 1 and African Adventure 3. They might just as well have been called Terracotta Lust and Slightly Toasted Tangerine which at least bears some relationship to the colours they represent.
There’s a man there who mixes the colours for you. He is French and has the eyes of a serial killer. He is, no doubt, a decent law-abiding chap, and I am maligning him unjustly, but if I am to be honest in my feelings, I suspect there are bodies buried under the grapevines in the Garden Centre Area.
I also think it may be he who invents the names for the colour schemes.

Friday 10 August 2007

robots in disguise.
that’s transformers. they could be
smart george forman grills.

‘Transformers’ was surprisingly good. Not being a huge fan of the animated series, I had no nostalgic baggage which might cause me to run out shrieking ‘Noooooo! How could they have done this to Optimus Prime?’
Refreshingly, and surprisingly, the acting was rather good, and there was some attention paid to character. One can forgive the producers for the lack of plot since films like this tend not to be that intellectually challenging.
The Transformers (for those not acquainted with the concept) are robots from a distant planet, divided into good robots (Autobots, led by Optimus Prime) and bad robots (The Decepticons, led by Megatron) who are searching for the Allspark, a mystical robot cube which will… well, it doesn’t matter what it does. Both lots of robots are after it. The humans, who have the cube hidden in a secure bunker in the middle of the desert, decide, in a moment of pure genius, to take the cube and hide it ‘somewhere in the city’.
Not surprisingly, the robots battle it out in the main street, smashing up cars, buildings and, hopefully, many branches of Starbucks and McDonalds. I cheer every time one of those dies.
Go robots!

Thursday 9 August 2007

pink and turquoise skies
hung over the railway bridge
at which lamp posts beamed.

Our laminated flooring arrived some days ago and the Ugly One, having filled the rest of the house with the junk from the living room, has very nearly completed the whole floor. Very nice it looks too.

Wednesday 8 August 2007

men, across the road.
one, shirtless, fanned the other.
hot, he googled on.

Tuesday 7 August 2007

the flu’s aftermath
those landmines left in my lungs.
each morning. cough. bang.

Monday 6 August 2007

he passed me at dusk
like a face on a fast bus.
a smile. he was gone.

Sunday 5 August 2007

people ask directions
then ignore what I have said.
what is that about?

Saturday 4 August 2007

i slept while someone
bashed scarlatti’s harpsichord.
i saw it in dreams.

Friday 3 August 2007

we smoke outside now.
the new social networking
on the old pavement.

As an anniversary treat The Ugly One and I took Robert and The Wise Woman of Wigan to The Barnes Grill, Anthony Wozzer-Thompson’s restaurant in Barnes.
The décor is a little confusing. A huge mounted Spanish bullhead is mounted on one wall with a big bell round its neck. On the other walls are giant flowers made of red, purple and white feathers. For a restaurant which is promoting traditional British food, it is somewhat confusing.
However, the food was fantastic. I had chilli squid as a starter and then duck breast in red wine sauce.The WWoW and Robert came back with us, and we stayed up till about eight in the morning, discussing the early music of Cilla Black, The Tony Blair musical and what sauces would best complement roasted children.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Thursday 2 August 2007

meet me at green park.
the shadow of the palace
seems fictional. daft.

Wednesday 1 August 2007

shags are like buses
you wait forever for one
then three don’t turn up.

Tuesday 31 July 2007

some nice post arrived
clean and square and full of words.
good post always is.

Monday 30 July 2007

the sun made us slow
and we ticked with heavy beats
inching through the day

Ian Reddington must be an Omen of Disease as I have been struck down by the evil lurgi of flu-ness.
Please list him in your Celebrity Omen Almanacs under Pestilence.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Sunday 29 July 2007

horn hooted, flags waved.
they stopped the traffic and danced.
we’d just thump people.

I was up Edgware Road today and spent a pleasant hour in the park, writing and dealing with odd green insects who, for their own strange reasons, seemed to find me irresistible.
A woman came to sit on the next bench.
‘Sundays are boring, aren’t they?’
‘Well, they don’t have to be.’
‘I’ve been dealing with my husband..’
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to this, as I was debating whether she was talking sexual services or murder, but before I could formulate a response she continued…
‘He’s broke his hip and he’s been in bed for four weeks.’
‘That must be difficult.’ I said. It’s not that I didn’t feel sorry for the woman, but I suspected she was after a little more than a chat about bedbaths.
I was saved from any further embroilment as just then all hell broke loose and cars started whizzing by, tooting their horns and waving flags out of their windows. It was the Iraqi flag, which I only realised because three teenage boys ran past me with the flag on the front of the T-shirts and IRAQ written in big letters on the back.
‘Have we withdrawn the troops?’ I thought, ‘Is George Bush dead?’
It turned out that Iraq had won the Asian Cup at Football.
By the time I reached Edgware Road itself, traffic was at a standstill and people were out of their cars and dancing in the street, music provided by their state-of-the-art in-car stereo systems.
It was a good half-hour before the police cottoned on and arrived to divert the noisier of the celebrants into the side streets where they could hoot and dance to their hearts’ contents.
I escaped into Marks and Spencers where I bought a bottle of wine.
‘Do you have ID?’ said the twenty-something cashier.
‘What for?’ I asked, bemused.
‘I’m only joking,’ she said.
‘Yes,’ I snapped, still smarting from the Bill Oddie comparison, ‘Very funny!’
I will have to do something about my image.
At the tube, I was confronted by another celebrity omen, as who should be walking into the Tube but Ian Reddington, better known as Vernon from ‘Coronation Street’.
What sort of omen is he?
Only Time will tell.

Saturday 28 July 2007

‘call for gay bum sex’
it said on the wall outside
the old fire station.

Coming out of Hammersmith Station today I saw the homeless man who usually sits there shouting (very loudly, I might add) ‘Have you got any change, please?’
If I’m in a good mood I may oblige.
On this occasion he chose to point at me and chant ‘Bill Oddie! Bill Oddie! Bill Oddie!’ like a strange bird’s mating call. I ignored him with as much dignity as I could muster.
I wandered down to Tescos and noted that on the wall outside the old fire station, someone had written a mobile number in large marker pen and underneath ‘Call For Gay Bum Sex’.
I suspect this was written by a heterosexual since no gay man would ever use the phrase ‘Gay Bum Sex’ and especially not on the wall outside the old fire station.
Later, while discussing the Bill Oddie incident at Robert’s house (We’d taken a taxi round to Robert’s as we were donating to him our old television, which has served us faithfully for many years but which has now been replaced by a newer slimmer version.) the question arose, how homeless is he? He seems to know what Bill Oddie looks like (unfortunately, somewhat similar to myself, though far less svelte and adorable), unless of course, Bill Oddie is in the habit of giving money to strangers outside Hammersmith Tube Station, along with his name. Added to which, the other day I heard him singing ‘I’d rather have a bowl of Cocopops’ (that’s the homeless man, not Bill Oddie).
Robert cooked us a lovely Moussaka, and we waded our way through his record collection.

Friday 27 July 2007

the black dog is back,
sitting on my thoughts and just
snarling at my work.

Please mark any sightings of Paul Ross in your Celebrity Almanacs as an omen of good for all humanity (see last posting) as tonight, Charley, the cabbage-patch troll, has been evicted from the Big Brother House with 87% of the vote. I am hoping I will never have to hear her brain-stabbing voice again or see her odious face. I suspect, however, that this is a forlorn hope.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Thursday 26 July 2007

the well-spoken man
announced the minor delays
as though they were gifts

The bizarre bit of religious news this week is the plight of Shambo, the sacred bull of some Welsh Hindus. Shambo has been diagnosed with TB and the authorities have, quite rightly, I suppose, decreed that Shambo should be put down. The Hindus disagree, and once again, we are faced with a situation where people feel that their religion puts them beyond the law.
Shambo is a Friesian, by the way. I am not sure why that makes him sacred. Would an Aberdeen Angus be less holy?
On my regular journey between the Eastbound Piccadilly Line platform at Victoria and the Southbound Victoria Line platform I have to walk along a sizeable tunnel which is currently having its poster frames refurbished. Today, all the poster frames were empty and I was struck by how refreshing it was to see a kind of frosted refection in the steel at the back of the frames rather than a gallery of mostly tedious adverts for things people don’t much want.
When I got home, I was just heading along the street to my home when who should I spot walking toward me but Paul Ross, the spiv-suited brother of Jonathan Ross, usually to be seen as a talking head on those ‘100 worst (insert category here)’ programmes that seem to show interminably on Channel 4.
This was no doubt a Celebrity Omen, though what it may portend I cannot yet fathom.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Wednesday 25 July 2007

i roar when I belch.
it sounds like windy lions
locked up in a flat.

It would appear that I owe Jordan and Peter Andre an apology as yesterday I posted that they had named their offspring Tiramisu. This was an unforgivable error on my part. The child has in fact been monickered ‘Tiamaria’, named after the classy alcoholic beverage, popular with all A list celebrities.

Tuesday 24 July 2007

everyone’s gay now.
i’m tired of them all, mincing
on the bandwagon.

It seems that Jordan and Peter Andre, or Gormless and Shameless as they’re more regularly known by friends and family, have decided on a name for their baby. I did suggest to them Bitumen for a girl or Asphalt for a boy, but they decided against my choices and have called the new arrival Tiramisu, after the famous Italian dessert.
There was a very interesting programme on Channel 4 tonight called ‘How Gay Sex Changed The World’, which was not, as I feared, a tortuous history of gay sexual technique, but rather an overview of changing attitudes from the 1950s to date. ‘Out’ gay celebrities such as Simon Callow, Matthew Parrish and Andy Bell recalled memories of the first Gay Pride marches, their introduction to Gay News or their first experience of gay bars and clubs.
The most surreal moment, and one which will stay in my head for, I suspect, quite a while, was the snooty tones of Brian Sewell, talking about the Earls Court leather bar ‘The Coleherne’, (wherein, I have to say, I have spent many a happy afternoon and/or evening).
‘They arrive at the bar with all the accoutrements of the biker, forgetting only that essential element, the motorbike. Some of them used to clatter down Earls Court Road with spurs on the back of their boots. Spurs! I ask you!’
Sadly, the Coleherne has since gone very vanilla, and its grim black interior has been downgraded to a nauseous pink. I dare say neither Brian nor I will be going back there any time soon.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Monday 23 July 2007

victoria line.
hot and slow, a tango danced
seated on tartan.

Our mate Robert came to visit us this evening. I was late home due to several delays on the London Underground due to various factors such as Humour Failure at Seven Sisters and Passenger Apathy at Mile End.
The Ugly One made pasta and we watched Big Brother, although Robert, having drunk several glasses of red wine, talked all the way through.
I am growing more cynical by the day of BB’s manipulation of voting and selection. This week, presumably in response to a growing dissatisfaction among viewers that the vile and potato-faced Charley is still in house (‘Body from Baywatch, Face from Crimewatch’ as someone recently described her) BB have been portraying her in a less than flattering light. The sequence in which she described the viewing audience as ‘those idiots out there’ has been shown at least twice with the inclusion of Davina McCall’s comment ‘Did she just call the audience ‘idiots’?’, added to which, during Friday’s eviction, the crowd were allowed to shout ‘Get Charley Out’, something which has not been allowed to happen in previous weeks.
Thankfully for us, we are not idiots (well, not all of us) and are beginning to see the BB game plan for what it really is.Charley, I was told today, has already been signed up by the agency that represents Davina McCall and Dermot O’Leary.
If that did happen, when and where did it happen?

Sunday 22 July 2007

the empire fish bar
had no pasties. none! you’d think
there was a war on.

Shepherds Bush on a Sunday afternoon. A lone market stallholder sits in the sun, tanning his clothes-rails, while I wander home with my chicken, basmati rice, lime, onion, tomato and hot pepper.
My thoughts were on food. Sadly, Greggs the Bakers chooses not to open on a Sunday, which seems like a criminal waste of pastry sales to me, but there you are.
The Empire Fish Bar will have a Cornish pasty, I thought, but no!
I had to make do with a beef pattie which, although very nice, seemed insultingly small.
Sundays, of course, are, by tradition, a religious day of rest, though thankfully we have grown up and moved away from the times when no-one worked at all on a Sunday, and at least in the UK, most of us are relatively free from the rather pointless social obligation of having to attend church.
Still, Sundays for me bring back memories of my teenage years and a whole day without public transport or shops. Occasionally I would walk into the town, which would be deserted, and sit on a bench watching the tumbleweeds rolling up Regent Street toward Woolworths.
That was then, but the ghosts are still there.
When I got home I started my Curried Chicken and spent a couple of hours writing.
Ken and Diedre have been conspicuously absent from ‘Coronation Street’ lately, which leaves life on the street a little dull. I am bored with the psychological problems of the Peacocks, particularly Oor Clurr.
She needs a good shouting at and a bowl of scouse.

Saturday 21 July 2007

an assignation
in the rain, under vexed skies.
the sun forgave me

Friday 20 July 2007

i was chatted up
outside the mosque. it’s good to
make love and not war.

Thursday 19 July 2007

it gets to the point
where my world’s faded like pants
washed too many times

Monday, 23 July 2007

Wednesday 18 July 2007

the charcoal grill man
watches women and i watch
the charcoal grill man

Tuesday 17 July 2007

no 'queen camilla'
she says. did the earth temble?
shocked angels protest?

Monday 16 July 2007

new harry potter,
and I wish I was both young
and a good wizard.

I keep wishing that I had suggested to JK Rowling that she had written a book called ‘Harry Potter and The Arse of The Bandersnipe’. As a name it knocks ‘The Half Blood Prince’ into a cocked hat.
The latest film - which we went to see a few days after it was released, hoping that we would avoid hordes of screeching children – is a blinding production as always, but suffers in that so much had to be excised from the text of the doorstop novel that those who have not read the book will be baffled.
My mate Mr Soprano rang from America to tell me he was baffled, especially by the issue of the giants, which was no doubt a mystery to anyone else who can’t be bothered to read the book.
It’s not difficult. You sit down somewhere comfortable and start at page 1.
You’ll soon get the hang of it.

Saturday 15 July 2007

thunder splits the sky
open over shepherds bush
and the green trembles

Last night, there being nothing on TV, and the weather being somewhat shite, we cracked open the alcohol and settled down to watch some DVDs which we’d bought and not got round to watching (as you do).
The first was the old BBC adaptation of ‘The Hound of The Baskervilles’ with Peter Cushing as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Dr Watson. Gary Raymond, a familiar face to TV and film viewers played Sir Henry Baskerville, although admittedly with an accent that kept jumping back and forth over the Atlantic.
This was from a time when the BBC were quite brilliant at this sort of thing. They knew how to build atmosphere with a studio set and some incidental music. Because of the limitations the drama had to be driven by the performances, and, one has to say, Peter Cushing was quite brilliant as Sherlock Holmes; a far more intense and edgy Holmes than he played in the film of ‘Hound’ some nine years previously with Christopher Lee.
Following this our next premiere was ‘Old Mother Riley’s Jungle Treasure’ (1951).
For those not acquainted with this odd cultural phenomenon, Old Mother Riley was a variety drag act, real name Arthur Lucan, supported in his thespian endeavours by his wife, who played (with arguable success) his daughter, Kitty.
Riley was the variety epitome of the penniless Irish washerwoman, who, in a surprisingly large number of movies, produced mostly by Butcher Films, found herself embroiled in a scheme or adventure from which she emerged somehow triumphant albeit just as badly off financially.
‘Jungle Treasure’ finds Mother Riley and Kitty working in an antique shop, about to go bankrupt, but one which holds the bed of Morgan the Pirate, in which is hidden a map showing the location of his hidden treasure. The ghost of Morgan (played by Sebastian Cabot) appears to Mother Riley and tells her to take the map and find the treasure, while at the same time, a gang of unscrupulous rich people (it seems they’ve always been around) are trying to get the map for themselves.
So, Mother Riley and her entourage set off to a version of the West Indies which contemporary viewers would find funnier than the intentional comedy. Lions and tigers abound in the jungles, as well as penguins, even more bizarrely.
I was worried that the depiction of black natives would be at least demeaning, but this is, thankfully, not the case for the most part. The central native chief turns out to be cleverer than the rest of the characters and was educated at Eton, while the performance of the obligatory Voodoo-worshipping cannibals (which seemed to appear with monotonous regulatory in ‘jungle’ films of the day) could well be described as a parody of such cinematic clichés of the time. Their language seems to consist of one or two words, repeated in various tones, another cliché of the cinema which was last used in ‘One Million Years BC’ where the word ‘Akita’ seemed to mean everything from ‘Hello’ to ‘Watch out for the Dinosaur’ and ‘Stop playing that conch, I want to go to sleep’
Mother Riley’s natives were, (I suspect) a troupe of African dancers who are given an extended showcase within the movie to show off their moves to great effect, a situation which could have been far worse had the producers chosen to adopt the generally American device of blacking white men up for the roles, (although it has to be said that the British had a tendency at one time to use white actors to play Indians or Chinese, particularly on TV, a phenomenon I may be exploring at another time).
Practically all the characters in the film are caricatures of some sort. Personally, I could find nothing offensive in this harmless and sometimes very funny rarity which I am glad has been released on DVD at long last.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Saturday 14 July 2007

the handmade soap man.
it’s not him that’s made by hand.
i think it’s the soap

Now and again I go on a quest to look for the soap man, of Church Street market, and garner a new supply of his semi-mythical hand-made peppermint soap. Actually, it’s not semi-mythical. I bought some a while back, and I have to say that it is the best soap I have ever had. It just seems that every time I go to the soap man he has sold out of the stuff.
Today he sold me some ‘jellangela’ (that’s what it sounded like, anyway) and a bar of seaweed.
‘The thing is, mate’ he says, with cockney barrer-boy precision, ‘I’m here early morning, and one bloke might want seventeen of these and another might want ten of those, and on another day they might want nuffink.. but a lot of stuff goes in the mornings, and you come here at two o’clock and expect to get yer peppermint!’
‘Ah,’ I said.
‘Exactly,’ he says.
‘So what it boils down to… is that I should get up earlier.’
‘Yer’ve got it in one, sunshine. That’ll be a fiver!’
So I mosied off to the park with my bag of soap and a Greggs pasty, where I did a bit of writing, until I was disturbed by small children rolling themselves down a grass slope, over and over again. It’s not that I don’t like children, there are some children who are very funny and just brilliant, it’s more that I can’t stand the whiny noises children make. Isn’t there some way we could silence them when they’re out in public, like with muzzles or tongue-clamps?

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Friday 13 July 2007

serial killers have
become new mythology.
demons in our world.

There’s a new and rather intriguing series started on the FX channel, simply called ‘Dexter’ in which a forensics expert, working for the Miami police department, is by night a serial killer. Dexter is a likeable enough chap, helping his foster sister (a policewoman struggling for recognition) with difficult cases. This is set against a background in which only 20% of homicides in Miami are solved to any satisfactory degree. Dexter, whose foster father was a cop, has learnt how to avoid detection, and uses his compulsion to kill only against those who have evaded justice. In the first episode alone, Dexter deals out his particular brand of justice to a child-killer and man who avoided conviction for multiple rape and murder on a technicality.
Dexter provides a running commentary on the action and, thanks mainly to the excellent casting of Michael C Hall as the paradoxical Dexter, gives us a chilling insight to the psychology of a sociopath who acts out emotions as though he were living in a play. In reality, he is ‘empty inside’, devoid of emotion, except for the two women in his life, his foster sister and his girlfriend, who, having suffered a life of sexual violence at the hands of an abusive ex-husband, is not keen to get involved in any further intimacy. Dexter himself is incapable of normal sexual arousal.
One could argue that our interest in such characters, as with Hannibal Lecter, who murdered people because their abstraction provided a positive outcome for the world, mirrors a desire in the general population for someone to be actually doing something about the horrors of society. In this sense, serial killers, at least fictional ones, have become the new superheroes. They lead a secret life, and have a strange ability to recognise each other, and for the most part seem to possess powers above and beyond those of mere non-murdering mortals. This is as true for the serial killers of the world of Lecter as it is for Dexter’s world. Oddly, this has recently been mirrored in British crime series, such as ‘Wire in The Blood’ and, more recently and more obviously ‘In Cold Blood’ (?) in which Matthew Kelly is the central serial killer, an individual seemingly far more dangerous and intelligent than the rest of the population.
One could also argue that, as a society, we need to have our monsters distanced from us. The very words ‘monster’ or ‘beast’ – often associated with serial killers - automatically suggest that these people are something inhuman. Fictionally, we make them so. As with Nineteen Fifties Science Fiction films and novels, in which the aliens often lived among us as humans, so now our fictional serial killers live within humanity, using their superior skills and talents to evade detection.
In the pilot episode of ‘Dexter’, our hero is confronted with a new serial killer, one who murders women, removes all their blood and cuts them precisely into measured pieces. Dexter becomes fascinated by what he feels to be is his Moriarty, a killer whose methods and ‘powers’ rival his own. By instinct, accident, or actions on the part of his Nemesis, Dexter finds himself on the trail of the killer, and realises – when the killer throws the head of one of his victims onto Dexter’s car – that he is being challenged to a gruesome form of game.
As gruesome as the subject matter is, the series is well-written, compelling and laced with a necessarily dark humour.
One wonders, however, in a society which takes things so literally as does America, how long it will be before a real killer cites the defence that ‘Dexter made me do it’.
Talking of monsters, today marked the end of (yawn) Fake Week in the Big Brother House. As was expected, Charley was voted out by the public, but after a ‘fake’ eviction and interview which everyone in the House saw, she was put back in. I have never been so disappointed with BB as I am with this series. The producers have manipulated nominations and votes blatantly in order to avoid controversial housemates being evicted. Next year, why don’t the producers just decide who is going to go each week and save us all the bother.
There is another issue here which needs addressing. The only black people in the House are Charley and Brian. I sincerely hope that general populace don’t think of them as representative of the Black Community. Although I am sure Brian is a very nice man, I am concerned that many teenagers will see him as a role model. This is a person who admits that he ‘paid no attention at school’ and seems to have no idea who Shakespeare is or was. Either he has special needs, which should be addressed, or he is, as many people suspect, terminally stupid. It actually scares me that one day he may have children.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Thursday 12 July 2007

‘sorry’, he said, ‘for
not ringing. it’s family.’
then a pause. ‘love you.’

I love getting post. Today it was ‘Poetry Wales’ with an audio cassette of Anglo-Welsh poetry, and my subscription copy of ‘Anon’, a marvellous poetry magazine which judges its submissions anonymously so that work is not accepted for publication on the basis of fame or notoriety.
I can highly recommend this magazine. The poetry is of a very high standard and is interspersed with articles of relevance to the Poetry community (if indeed, there is such a beast).
My favourite poem from the last issue was called The Kipper and The Corpse (I regret that I do not recall the name of the poet) and was a tribute to the episode of ‘Fawlty Towers’ where Basil found one of the guests dead, and spent the rest of the episode attempting to hide the fact from his other paying customers.
It gave me faith that Poetry is indeed universal and can address any subject, a concept which was never conveyed to us when we sat through English Literature lessons, baffled by Chaucer and Wordsworth whose work, excellent though it now seems in retrospect, did not inspire us to express our own lives through poetry in a contemporary manner.
I seem to have come over all pretentious, so I’ll move swiftly on and express my continuing disappointment with this year’s Big Brother.
I am, it has to be said, a cynical sort of bloke, and when Big Brother announced that this week was Fake Week, I began to smell a rat. It appears there will be no eviction this week. The housemates think there will be an eviction, but the evictee (either the odious Charley, or her gormless and nasally monotonic friend, Nicky) will be evicted, interviewed, and returned to the House.
For me, this is just another ploy on the part of Big Brother to keep Charley in the House, after having fixed the nominations last week to ensure she escaped the public vote.
After eight years, Big Brother has evolved into something other than it was when it began.
The first series, which featured contestants who could at least conjure up a vocabulary, and were more than two years out of puberty, was compulsive viewing. We were glued to the daily updates and the dramas which arose naturally out of the sheer boredom of the experience. That was exciting.
Now, everything seems stage-managed, and the contestants chosen for their stupidity or freak value. Yes, Brian is very sweet, but shouldn’t we be ashamed that someone born and raised in this country can reach the age of twenty and not know who Shakespeare is?
I see no hope for this series, but would like Channel 4 or Endemol to appoint new producers for the next series. Why not have a Mensa Members’ House, or two teenagers and twelve ASBO pensioners? Everyone over 40?
I can guarantee that any of those options would be far more entertaining than this year’s relentless machine-gun gob name-dropping, ranting and arguing over toast and bananas.

Wednesday 11 July 2007

he told me his life
was full of pigeons and it
sounded magical.

It’s nice to have a day off now and again and have an adventure. Today I had another trip to Southall, mainly because they have a very nice park and it was a lovely day.
On impulse, I decided to leave the park via another exit, thinking that it would bring me out on the main road, but I ended up in an unknown street, and so decided to follow it in the direction I thought the main road must be.
I got to a crossroads next to a bridge, feeling a little concerned, as it seemed as though I had got myself completely lost, when I realised, to my surprise, that I was standing outside the Glassy Junction, and, far from being lost, had discovered an unknown shortcut to the park.
I went in, thinking that I might as well have a drink before I went home. As I have said before, the Glassy Junction is a Punjabi bar, with a notice outside which declares it accepts rupees as payment.
I got into conversation with an Indian lorry driver, a very nice man, who, somewhat earlier in the conversation than I had expected, declared that although his family were Sikhs, he was an atheist, was uncircumcised and raced pigeons.
Apart from the pigeons we seemed to have a lot in common, and I spent a very pleasant couple of hours laughing and talking with him. Indeed, he invited me out for another drink in a different pub in the area, so I may well take him up on his offer.
I suspect he wants me to meet his pigeons, but I will reserve a decision on that until the moment arrives.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Thursday 5 July 2007

galactic patrol.
i traverse parsecs of space
going to brixton.

I have been reading Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ which is (the clue is in the title, really) a book denouncing the existence of God, examining the causes of belief, and with rigorous logic demolishing the flimsy scaffolding of blather with which the (particularly American) Christian authorities bamboozle their congregations.
Dawkins goes as far as to examine religions as cultural viruses or memes which are literally passed – like diseases – from parent to child, and considering the topic in that light it seems all too clearly plausible that we, as a world, are deliberately infecting our children with false ideas, generation after generation.
Like other reviewers who have suggested thus, I would love to see this book on all school curriculae in both the UK and the US, although there is little hope that such common sense will prevail while we have government leaders in so-called civilised western democracies who openly declare such primitive beliefs.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Tuesday 3 July 2007

the sky vomited,
drowned the street. fitz said it’s like
something biblical.

I was waiting outside our secret government bunker this evening for some work friends as we had planned to go into Clapham for a burger when suddenly the weather took an extraordinary turn for the worse. Solid rain and huge lumps of hail cascaded from the sky while lightning and thunder crashed overhead. Within a couple of minutes, the hail had collected into a covering inches deep and water began pouring down the street, its level rising until the pavement disappeared completely.
‘Oooh, it’s like something Biblical’ said Fitz, standing beside me and as childishly excited as I was.
I jokingly remarked that it was God’s response to my threat this morning to start an atheist’s rebellion following the attempted bombings of the last couple of days.
Fitz gave me a strange look, as if mulling over the possibility of God smiting the whole of South London just to teach me a lesson.
Despite the evidence, more people believe in God than in Global Warming, and those that do accept the reality of Global Warming don’t see it as a serious threat.
I suspect the people of Sheffield might be coming round to the idea though, or else they’re building arks.
I'd like to take this opportunity to say hello to Grimsby, and whoever it is who's popping in from up North.
Welcome Grimsbanians! We salute you!

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Monday 2 July 2007

there’s more crazy rain.
someone near the sheffield zoo
is building an ark.

I was amused to hear Joan Rivers’ remark on the quizcom ‘Nine Out of Ten Cats’ on Friday:-
‘It’s the first time the Spice Girls have been together in years… just like Paris Hilton’s knees.’
‘Quizcom’ seems to be the new word for these comedy panel shows, which have been a staple of Radio and Television for longer than I can remember. The word ‘quizcom’ however, seems to be a relatively new meme for which, according to idigitalsales.co.uk, the UKTV G2 channel is responsible.

‘Quizcom is a brand new phrase UKTV G2 has cleverly coined to describe our bestloved panel game shows, all of which are witty and spontaneous, erudite and clever, with a touch of irreverence thrown in. There has to be a chairman, who presides over events with a firm hand. There has to be a regular guest or team captain, preferably given to flight of fancy, and there has to be occasional guests who contribute to the show’s ethos. It also has to be half-an-hour long, be recorded before a live audience, and winning is almost irrelevant. That’s Quizcom – quiz plus comedy.’


‘Just a Minute’ for instance, has been running continuously since 1967, its longevity due its simple format in which contestants have to speak continuously on a given subject for sixty seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation.
On the other hand, many Quizcoms, unlike sitcoms, tend to have a longer shelf life. ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’ chaired by the marvellous Humphrey Lyttlelton, has been with us on radio since April 1972, and on TV, ‘Have I Got News For You’, the satirical Rottweiller of Quizcoms, has been on air since 1990 and amazingly survived its host, Angus Deayton, being exposed in the National Press in 2002 for allegedly indulging in cocaine-fuelled romps with prostitutes.
The most innovative sitcom of the year, if one can call it such, is ‘Annually Retentive’, a strange hybrid, shamefully hidden away on a late night spot on BBC 3. Starring the very talented (and Welsh) Rob Brydon, it is a comedy revolving around the fictional quizcom, ‘Annually Retentive’, in which Rob Brydon plays himself as the host, and in which many other ‘names’ play themselves, or, more actually, a satirical caricature of themselves. This idea of course, has already been used in Ricky Gervais’ ‘Extras’ to great effect, but where Gervais played a somewhat naïve and sympathetic character, continually blundering disastrously into areas of political correctness, and encountering theatrical monsters, Brydon himself is the monster, with an ego inflated well beyond the boundaries of his fame, and plagued with neuroses and petty jealousies.It’s an interesting direction for comedy to go in, especially taking into account the public’s seemingly unquenchable appetite for reality programmes.
Put it on BBC 1, you mad scheduling fools!

Sunday 1 July 2007

they gathered today
on corners outside boozers
to mourn freedom’s death.

Today is the day on which the smoking ban comes into force.
I went out into the city and was struck by the number of groups of people, bunched around the doorways of pubs, smoking frantically and no doubt desperate to get back to their drinks.
I’m in two minds about this ban. I accept the argument that non-smokers don’t really relish having clouds of smoke wafting about them, but I don’t see why a separate room could not have been provided, if publicans wished to provide one, in which cigarettes could be imbibed by consenting adults in private.
I haven’t yet been into a pub since the ban and so do not know how it will affect me personally. I am a smoker, and find the combination of a beer and cigarette to be a pleasant and comforting thing on a night out.
Having to sneak outside on a regular basis might put a dampener on the evening somewhat.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Friday 29 June 2007

bus drivers get worse
I think they’re devolving
into pre-bus man

I am beginning to hate Fridays as I inevitably find myself in a state of exhaustion by about four o’clock.
This evening I met up with the Ugly One in Hammersmith and we went to’t Big Tescos to get supplies for tomorrow. His cousin and ‘a friend’ are coming over for dinner so we needed to get some final things in.
The 295 bus-ride home was a nightmare. I don’t want to be rude about women with prams, but do they really have to travel during the rush-hour, and can’t they take the baby out of the pram and fold it up? (fold up the pram, that is, not the baby, although, in hindsight, I’d be in favour of either).
Additionally, I see some children in buggies who are more than capable of walking. If you grow to the age where you’re going to remember sitting in a pram then you’re too old to be in a pram.
Make them walk!
There were three separate buggies on the bus by the time we got through Shepherds Bush. This is, I think, illegal, since there was patently no room for the third buggy and it was blocking the aisle, prompting people attempting to get on the bus to start shouting, as well as people already on the bus who just wanted to get home.
It would help if people were restricted in the number of children they bring into the world, but no doubt we’d be breaching someone’s human rights, which amounts, ultimately, to the right to fill up the world with people and kill us all.
That’s ok though, because we all have Heaven to look forward to.
It’s a very chilling thought that a sizeable percentage of the population actually don’t care about the future of our planet as they have a delusional belief in life after death.
I’m also a little worried that a nightmare bus-ride has led me to a point akin to apocalyptic visions.
Anyway, Gordon Brown, if you are reading this, can we have some sort of legislation about prams on buses during peak hours?…. And a debate on population control.
Thank you.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Wednesday 27 June 2007

a can of tango.
out on the stockwell road like
a glowing tourist

‘God has released me,’ says Paris Hilton, on getting out of pokey, which is as good an argument as any for the fact of his non-existence.
In ‘Coronation Street’ the residents are still reeling from the revelation that Leanne Battersby sells her body on t’internet, well, actually, via an agency, but it amounts to the same thing. Eileen Grimshaw is being pursued, not only by Sinbad from Brookie, but by Sean Hughes, the Irish comedian.
She must be so torn.
Corry’s hit a low spot lately. David Platt, the teenage son of Gail and (mysteriously absent) Martin, has been behaving in a very spooky manner since his mother married a serial killer who tried to drown everyone in a family hatchback. The problem is that no one really cares. The producers have made young David so annoying that we’re beginning to wish he was still in the canal.
David set fire to his exam papers recently, which, in Corry terms, is tantamount to kicking a nun while throttling kittens during school assembly.
We don’t want this. We want more Norris and Rita, Jack and Vera, Ken and Diedre continuing their eternal Beckett-esque examination of their relationship, Blanche and her acidly nihilistic view of the North and Liz McDonald, squeezing into another improbable landlady’s frock.
No one cares about young people. They don’t. We wish they’d go away and come back when they’re twenty-eight and have something interesting to say.
Talking of which, in the Big Brother House, the odious Charley has once more escaped the public vote due to a very suspicious decision on the part of Big Brother to cancel her and Billi’s nominations following a public screamfest about who nominated whom.
Had their votes not been cancelled, Charley would be up for the public vote and almost certain to be evicted on Friday. Was this a ploy on the part of BB to keep her in the house?
You decide.
I’ve already decided, and I’ve decided I’m vexed.
I shall write Channel 4 a stiff letter of complaint.

Tuesday 26 June 2007

it’s a secret park
where schoolgirls exchange fresh memes
while the benches brood

The Celebrity Omen (see last post) portended ill, as I have just heard that the Spice Girls are reforming. What further horrors can the world throw at me?
Stunned and disoriented by this news, I headed out to the Edgware Road where I spent a nice afternoon checking out the library, looking round the market, ogling arab men and sitting in the park.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Monday 25 June 2007

our trains have evolved
engines are muted thunder
the roof speaks in tongues

I took the train from Paddington to Southall while thunder grumbled overhead. At the station, the rain was a little strong so I popped into an Indian bar called The Glassy Junction.
Decorated rather like an Indian Restaurant, with some fab brass Indian elephant heads holding the bar rail to the bar, I felt a little out of place, but as there was only me, the barman, and an elderly Sikh, I didn’t feel too intimidated.
At one point an Irish construction worker came in, who needed to do some work on the pavement outside near the cellar door and so needed to know what day their deliveries arrived so that he avoided his concrete being trampled by draymen.
Unfortunately, the Irish accent was so strong that the barman couldn’t understand him so I had to translate into Standard English, and after several minutes of tortuous repetition everyone was happy.
Later, some young Indian men from Manchester came in, and were videoing the pub, no doubt for the benefit of their Manc relatives, and even videoed me, waving and grinning like a special needs uncle, as I tend to do when confronted with cameras.
I do have to say, that of all the pubs I’ve visited in London this has to be the friendliest. Everyone is happy to chat, and no one seems to have an attitude. I will have to pop in here again.
On the way home I had a celebrity omen, as, when coming out of Paddington Station, I saw John Barnes (the footballer, not the Science Fiction author, sadly) sauntering in with a Hugo Boss suit over his shoulder.
What could this portend?

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Saturday 23 June 2007

small seas from the sky
forked fire and cloud explosions
sight/sound not in sync.

The plumber came round to put in a new toilet, which seems to be working ok and hopefully not drowning the neighbours.
I had a pleasant afternoon shopping and then staying home alone while the thunder crashed and the rain poured until later, when the Ugly One returned and we settled down to catch up with some TV and the movie ‘Silent Hill’.
I was a bit surprised to see Sean Bean suddenly popping up with an American accent, and no sign of his Sheffield via Middle Earth Northern drawl.
Bean’s young daughter is behaving increasingly erratically, drawing pictures of witches and crying out the words ‘Silent Hill’ in her sleep.
So, against Bean’s better judgement, the mother takes the little girl and drives off to Virginia, to the ghost town of Silent Hill.
It’s a movie adapted from a video-game, and as these things go, it’s not too bad, if a little predictable. The special effects and the design of the beasties which infest the abandoned mining town are excellent, but don’t expect anything intellectually challenging.

Friday 22 June 2007

a chastity ring.
i think the school has banned it
because it’s tacky.

Religious groups, it seems, have rights above and beyond the rest of us. Today a young lady, despite the fact that she is about to leave the educational establishment concerned, is nevertheless taking the school to court because they wouldn’t allow her to wear her chastity ring.
She claims it is a symbol of her faith, which is errant nonsense, as it’s an American invention – a tacky one at that – in which teenagers wear a ring and pledge not to have sex until, well, until they take the ring off, I suppose.
I would like the court to examine what difference it has made to the young lady’s life having been deprived of wearing the ring during school hours? Was she driven so mad with lust that she defiled the janitor in some dark cupboard, thick with the scent of Dettol?
No, I didn’t think so.
This is just a bit of cheap christian propaganda invented out of nothing just to make a point. I’m a bit unclear as to what point is being made, however.
A girl is claiming her human rights are being violated by not being allowed to wear a ring which is not a traditional symbol of her faith, but a bit of nonsense invented in America for purely commercial reasons.
The school has a prohibition against the wearing of jewellery.The girl presumably wishes to wear the ring in order for all her schoolmates to see it. In this day and age one’s virginity is not something one can be proud of without having it displayed like a fashion accessory. It sounds suspiciously like Vanity, and although it is a long time since I last consulted a Bible I’m reasonably sure that that is a sin.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Thursday 21 June 2007

a giant afro
in the queue at sainsburys.
retro respect, dude.

The longest day of the year here in Britain. It’ll be light until nearly bedtime.
Since my last post I have been thinking a lot about Noah’s Ark. If any of you reading this believe that there actually was an ark, maybe you could explain the following:-
To accommodate two members of every species, and foodstuffs sufficient to last them for, lets say, forty days, the ark would have to have been the size of North Wales. How did Noah find the manpower, let alone the wood, to create such a craft?
The combined weight of all the animals and their supplies would, in any case, ensure that the ark wouldn’t have a hope of floating.
Where did Noah find the penguins, polar bears, tapirs, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, American squirrels, Indian elephants, dormice and pine martens?
We are told that – representing the human race – Noah and his family were the only ones of God’s children to be saved and repopulate the world. Where then did Africans, Indians, Eskimoes, Native Americans, Chinese and White people come from subsequently? This was after all between 5 and 6000 years ago (according to the Fundamentalists), and even if those picky religious types did accept the idea of evolution this would be a woefully short time for individual races to evolve in various countries of the world.
Really. Think about it. It’s all nonsense.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Wednesday 20 June 2007

i’m reading shorthand,
and this is the irony,
it takes a long time.

Anyway, to get back to the concept of Rationalism:
I have just started reading Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’, a lucid and very enjoyable book which sets out Dawkins’ own Rationalist manifesto, if that’s what you’d like to call it. Like myself, Dawkins is an atheist, and this book sets out his own views on God, Religion, and the sad consequences of our living in societies where major decisions are made on the basis of supernatural belief.
Unfortunately, I fear this book will never be read by those who really need to read it, i.e. those people who are trapped in a religious culture and have not been educated to see that there are alternatives to their beliefs.
At the cinema yesterday there was a trailer for a film called ‘Evan Almighty’, a sequel to ‘Bruce Almighty’ in which God (played by a suitably white-robed Morgan Freeman) devolved divine powers to Jim Carey (who was presumably surprised to discover that he hadn’t got them already).
In the sequel, God appears to Evan (Evan! Heaven... Geddit? I'm crying with laughter here, honestly), and tells him that he is to be the second Noah, and must build an ark.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am sure that this film is likely to offend just about anyone. The Christians will no doubt be offended by the fact that it is pure blasphemy, White Supremacists will be offended (again) by the idea of a Black God, Atheists like myself will be offended simply by the reinforcement to naïve American minds of the concept of Noah’s Ark being presented as historical truth. The rest will simply be offended by the fact that their intelligence is being insulted, since the film looks, well, a load of pants.

Tuesday 19 June 2007

the toilet leaking;
an australian plumber;
abandoned chinese.

We returned home from seeing ‘The Rise of The Silver Surfer’ to find our bathroom awash and the agitated neighbours downstairs eager to show us how water had been pouring in through their ceiling. It appears that the Dave Gorman plumber who repaired our toilet last week did more harm than good.
One of the contractors who had been working in another flat during the day had to climb a ladder, get into our flat and switch the water off while we were at work.
Later, having contacted the out of hours emergency people and mopped up the lake that had formed around the washbasin, an Australian plumber turned up and examined the toilet and cistern, with a lot of ‘Awww mate! Look at this…’ and ‘Whoaah mate… it’s coming from here!’.
By this time it was midnight and I had been gloomily contemplating the prospect of using a bucket should a toilet-related emergency occur.
Finally however, he made it safe and useable and arranged for someone else to come tomorrow.
Stressed beyond endurance, I lit a cigarette and settled down to watch the Big Brother nominations.
Foolishly, I always tend to underestimate the stupidity of the contestants. The twins (whose favourite colour, tellingly and ominously, is pink) must share a brain between them. They both nominated Carole who seems to have been single-handedly doing their washing and cleaning for the last three weeks.
Their only reason for nomination seemed to be that when they want to do dangerous and stupid things, Carole tells them not to.
‘Fun’ seems to be the thing that the housemates want to do most, although their definition of ‘fun’ seems to be somewhat vague. ‘Fun’ is a fuzzy concept which exists only as potential in some Shangri-la-la-land. It is what Jodie Marsh and Paris Hilton have.
Seany’s idea of ‘Fun’ is to play tedious practical jokes on other people. He poured water into Charley’s boots and put wet tissues in her pumps. Then he put a condom over the head of Gerry’s toy monkey, Freddy, which Gerry refers to unaccountably as a bear. My, how we, and the other housemates, laughed!
This somewhat childish behaviour earned him enough nominations to face the public vote, along with Carole and Jonathan, whose only crime seems to be that he’s rich and looks a little like Bilbo Baggins.
Somehow, Charley avoided the public vote by one nomination.
Apart from her other extensive charming habits, Charley is constantly gnawing her fist, as if this is the only way she can stop herself talking. Sadly, it’s not working.
Get Charley Out! Get Charley Out! Get Charley Out!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Monday 18 June 2007

‘accepted’ it said,
like e-mail benediction.
published, I’ll be saved.

Once in a while, as I have said before, it’s nice to get those letters or e-mails which say ‘we like your work and would like to publish (for instance) ‘The Famous Moths of London’’, but they seldom say what it is they like about ‘The Famous Moths of London’.
The reason I would like to know is that it always comes as something of a surprise when people actually like something I’ve written. I like it myself. I enjoy reading what I have written, but I am the first to admit that I have very strange taste in all things. My passion for Wayne Rooney, for instance, is widely mocked by straight and gay people alike.
This time the good news was from a magazine called ‘Aesthetica’ which is available from Borders and WH Smith (or so they say). I suspect it will only be those large branches, rather than the small ones in Tube Stations that only sell ‘Heat’, ‘TV Quick’ and Wordsearch magazines.
It’s been an odd weekend. On a whim I decided to cook Curry Goat, never having done it before, and so dug out a dusty Jamaican recipe book and set to work.
On Saturday I had a thoroughly enjoyable time grinding spices to make up some Jamaican curry powder. I am glad that I decided to reduce the original amounts quoted by two thirds, as otherwise I’d have ended up with enough curry powder to last me a decade.
On Sunday I went out and bought some goat from a butchers in Shepherds Bush, but when I got home I foolishly fell asleep and didn’t wake up till six.
The curry was finally ready at about 9.45 pm, and bloody good it was too.
The goat is an underrated beast.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Wednesday 13 June 2007

what was she wearing,
clinging like a scared marquee
to her acreage?

I love Sheri S Tepper. I have just read her novel, ‘The Fresco’ which is as good an example of my view of Rationalism as I could have hoped for.
It’s ostensibly a science-fiction novel in which an alien race, the Pistach, offer Humanity the chance to join a Confederation of alien races, but in order to qualify we must conform to a certain standard of behaviour.
Benita Shipton, an abused wife and mother of two, is chosen by the Pistach to take the role of intermediary in the negotiations between Earth and the rest of the galaxy.
Meanwhile, another race, this one being warlike and predatory with a taste for human flesh, is seeking to gazump the Pistach and open up Earth as a hunting ground for the more carnivorous races of the galaxy.
The science is immaterial, since Tepper uses the story to give us a view of Humanity through an alien’s eyes and casts a cruelly objective look at our global childish behaviour.
The aliens, asked by the President of the USA to show what powers they have to solve the problems of the world, immediately set about doing so. Their first act is against Afghanistan, where the women, more or less imprisoned and covered up by the Taliban lest they fill their men with demon desire, are all turned ugly, with bald heads and crone faces. Now that they can no longer engender lust, the aliens say, they can walk freely in the streets.
Likewise, the aliens completely remove Jerusalem and tell the Earth that it will be returned when humanity has grown up and learned to live with itself.
In a plot element which is not worth going into in detail, several men are impregnated with an alien larvae by a race which has evolved from insects who lay their eggs in living creatures. The men are promised that after 13 months the larvae will begin to eat their way out and that, although the process will be painful, the hosts will come to no harm.
The aliens have chosen the men because they have all taken a religious position on abortion and are committed to a pro-life agenda. Thus, these men are compelled to not only go through the experience of pregnancy but to also suffer an experience equivalent to that of childbirth.
I recommend this novel to all religious (and non-religious) people. It’s a breath of fresh air which cuts through the nonsensical dogma of politics and theology and simply espouses common sense.
How I wish the aliens really would arrive.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Tuesday 12 June 2007

aftershave bottles
line up like a cityscape.
i don't even shave.

I had a day off today to deal with a workman who came round to fix the cistern on the toilet. He looked like a thin Dave Gorman. Not his fault, I suppose. I don’t wish to be judgemental like the men my mate Glyn encountered yesterday. A few pies and some of my hotpot would be certain to fill him out and make him quite lovely.
I seem to be getting a lot of verbal abuse myself lately, mainly from mad people. Once the workman had packed up and gone I went out to The Bush of Shepherds and, on passing the Baptist Church, an old black man sitting on the steps clutching a can of Tennants looked at me and said ‘Oi! Fatso!’
Ignoring the unjust and unwarranted remark I waddled on with quiet dignity and grace.
Despite the presence of the odious Simon Cowell, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ continues to fascinate me, more for its celebration of British eccentricity than anything else. A middle-aged married man, indistinguishable from a million or more other middle-aged married men, for no reason anyone could fathom, decided to enter dressed as Kylie Minogue, singing ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.’
Mr Cowell, as has become customary, threw a couple of his usual moodies when acts he didn’t approve of were put through by the other judges.
Cowell, who appears, oddly, much nicer than he normally does in these sort of programmes, doesn’t seem to have any middle ground. The acts in Cowell’s view are either ‘pointless’ or ‘brilliant’, apart from one which paraxodically was ‘pointless but brilliant’.
As he relentlessly points out, the search is being conducted for an act of quality suitable to perform for the Royal family, though why the Royal Family’s taste in variety acts should be so superior to the rest of us is not clear.
Simon Cowell doesn’t seem to understand what a variety act is. A seasoned club performer who played the keyboard and did rather good impressions of Neil Diamond and George Formby (and whom the audience loved) was summarily dismissed by Cowell, whereas two days before he’d put through a pole dancer who produces sparks from her crotch with the aid of an angle grinder and a metal codpiece.
I’m sure Her Maj is going to love that.
Talking of stupidity, in the Big Brother House the Housemates nominated today. Gerry and Seany chose the dozey twins Sam and Amanda to nominate alongside them and not one of them nominated Charley.
Consequently, up for nomination this week are Carole (I’m baffled by this), Tracy (perhaps because she reminds the housemates too much of Sean Bean as Boromir when he’s looking angry and about to kill some orcs) and Satnav.
My money’s on Satnav. She think it’s funny to keep people awake all night, does no housework at all, and then wonders why people get grumpy with her.

Monday 11 June 2007

nightwinds and bold moths
carry in the sounds of taxi
doors; muffled laughter

My mate Glyn, on his way to the Walk For Life yesterday, overheard the following exchange between two young men in mirror sunglasses and skinny t-shirts, clutching matching packets of Marlboro lights.

Camp Belgian :
Oh, you know, dahling, I`m going to end this whole relationship thing. It`s been two weeks, you know!

Camp Englishman :
Two weeks?! You`ve lasted well!

Camp Belgian :
I know that we`re supposed to be nice to old people, but he`s forty-six for God`s sake! I mean, really, he lives in a council flat in (cue curl of lip, and look of arch horror) Peckham! What am I supposed to do with that?!

Camp Englishman :
You can only take charity so far, dear...

You can indeed. I feel disinclined to be charitable to people who display such attitudes. When did we get to a point in our society where the public consciousness seems to deem anyone over thirty as unworthy of any attention whatsoever?
I blame Margaret Thatcher for all of this. She has to have had a hand in it somewhere.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Sunday 10 June 2007

sunday has escaped
again while I was elsewhere
preparing for it.

I suspect that Sundays were invented to deceive us into thinking it was a day of rest, when in fact it seems to fill itself with things that need to be done.
Having done the usual morning coffee, bath and shave thing I went shopping for food, returned and caught up with my e-mail and correspondence, did the washing up and, having fallen asleep, was awoken by an ice-cream van playing ‘I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track’. By this time the day was mostly over. It only remained to watch ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Big Brother’.
Ken, no doubt worried for the sanctity of his laptop and faced with the prospect of a large hairdresser forcing her way into his cardigan, has packed up and left and returned to the far less threatening bosom of Diedre.
As for BB, this was the usual round of arguments about food, allocation of household chores and those odd indefinable arguments which seem to be about nothing at all. Charley is very good at those. She opens her mouth and a torrent of nonsense falls out, usually prefaced by ‘I’m not being funny, right, but…’
She’s quite right, she isn’t being funny. As far as I can recall, over the last thirteen days or so she hasn’t been in the least bit funny at all.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Saturday 9 June 2007

outside my window
the voices grate like crow-tongues
scraping at the night.

Paris Hilton has been sent back to jail. Hoorah!
This raises my faith in the American Justice system, but only a little bit. It remains to be seen whether she serves the remaining term of her 45 day sentence.
The Olympic logo debate rumbles on. Jonathan Ross, in his TV show, claimed that it looked like Lisa Simpson giving a blowjob, which, spookily, it does.
So far, the Olympic Powers-That-Be are standing firm, despite almost universal derision at the absurd , ugly and impractical design.
Talking of things absurd and ugly, Simon Cowell had a new show starting tonight, ‘Britain Has Talent,’ its aim to find an act worthy of performing before Her Majesty The Queen in the Annual Royal Variety performance. The trailer boasts ‘Three Entertainment Megastars’ (or words to that effect) as judges, which turn out to be Simon Cowell himself, Amanda Holden (most famous for being married to Les Dennis, having an affair with Neil Morrisey and then appearing in ‘Cutting It’ on BBC1) and Piers Morgan, one-time editor of News of The World and The Daily Mirror. They have big red buzzers which they can press when fed up with an act, and if all three judges buzz the act off, then they’re finished.
The hype surrounding the show, which as a bonus has the marvellous Ant & Dec adding their own subversive commentary on the acts backstage, tends to blur the fact that The Royal Variety Performance hasn’t really moved on since its heyday back in the Nineteen Seventies. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Queen is forced to turn up once a year for what is, if we are honest, two hours or more of at best, lacklustre performances from mostly has-been performers, the show would have been scrapped twenty years ago.
One has to ask also, what does Simon Cowell, or the other two for that matter, know about variety acts? He’s a music producer. She’s an actress and Piers is a newspaper editor/columnist/writer, and is rather dull.
Having said that, there is something gruesomely pleasurable in watching acts that have absolutely no chance of success burning and crashing in front of a live audience, almost literally so in the case of Chief Firewater and White Dove from Manchester, a flaming-knife-throwing act which nearly set the venue on fire due to the nervousness of Chief Firewater.
Like most viewers I will likely lose interest once the crazy auditions are over.

Friday 8 June 2007

the conversations
on my mobile are all fake.
I speak to myself.

I was heartened by the arrival in the post of a large brown envelope which contained the latest copy of ‘The Rialto’ which features one of my poems, for which I was paid twenty pounds. I imagine that this makes me officially a poet.
If you want to know what it is and what it’s about I suggest you buy a copy. ‘The Rialto’ is a well-established, high quality magazine which needs to be supported. Details can be found at www.therialto.co.uk.
In ‘Coronation Street’, Ken and Diedre’s relationship remains in limbo. Ken is shacked up with a large hairdresser, a laptop and his hobbit-like son. It’s never been clear what Ken does with his laptop. He stares at the screen while tapping at his teeth with his glasses, adopting a look of weary resignation. Maybe, he too, has a blog and is keeping Weatherfield residents up to date on the semiological significance of events in the Big Brother House.
Realising, perhaps too late, that his behaviour has been somewhat bizarre, he lies to the large hairdresser, telling her that he is off to the library to do research, when in fact he is lurking at the Coronation Street bus-stop, spying on Diedre as she nips out to buy some parkin and barmcakes.
Later, after a bottle of wine, the large hairdresser makes a saucy lunge at Ken, but he pushes her away - no mean feat for a man of his age dealing with a woman of her size - maybe on the understandable grounds that she’s likely to crease his cardigan.
Meanwhile, in The Big Brother House, the housemates deal with the aftermath of Emily’s racist remarks. Charley, who, to be honest, didn’t seem too bothered at first by the incident, has once more turned herself into a victim and has bleating loudly to all and sundry about what a horrible experience it was for her.
Her bleating was temporarily interrupted by the arrival of two new housemates. Gerry (or is it Jerry?), a
gay Greek archaeologist of some sort, and Seany, a gay Irish lunatic who looks like a cross between Mick Hucknell and Benny Hill.
Ziggy seemed confused by the arrival while Tracy adopted the look of Sean Bean as Boromir when he first saw the ring of Sauron in Rivendell.
Charley, obviously still so traumatised by Emily’s racist abuse later dared Seany to pull the duvet from sleeping sixty year old Lesley, which he did. Lesley, shocked and disoriented, obviously deeming this to be the final straw, promptly requested that she leave the House as soon as possible.She left at about 9.30 Saturday morning. A terrible, terrible shame, as Lesley was ten times more entertaining than the odious Charley could ever be, even with the help of a support band and a team of writers.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Thursday 7 Jun 2007

mabel’s goat curry
is a tribute to the goat
he died not in vain.

I am in the odd position of not knowing what to do about the mayonnaise in my local coffee shop. I having been using the same coffee shop most mornings for nearly five years from whence I pick up my
cappuccino and my ham roll, with mayonnaise.
Recently, the mayo has changed. I am not sure into what. I suspect that the café have decided to try making their own, while leaving out a very vital step in the process; that of tasting it.
I am on the horns of a dilemma, the very horns, I say!
Do I point out that their new mayonnaise is just nasty, with an aftertaste of onions, a pretaste of garlic and a during-taste of…. metal? Maybe it dissolves spoons. I cannot tell them this. They are Italian and therefore easily roused to wrath, especially if their cooking is criticised. I could wake up with a donkey’s head on my pillow.
Or do I avoid the place and send in minions at weekly intervals to see if the mayo has returned to its former quality?
Today I just got cappuccino on its own and later went to a new West Indian café and had Curried Goat with Saffron Rice. They called it Saffron Rice, but I suspect the nearest the rice got to saffron was on the shelf. Nevertheless it was damn good, and free from disturbing flavours which shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Why is life so complex? Why do people change things that don’t need to be changed?
I was torn from my dilemma by the news that posh Emily from Big Brother had been summarily ejected from the house after using the word ‘n*gg*r’, allegedly in jest, to Charley.
Hoorah! One bimbo down. Five to go.
Big Brother, to be fair, had no choice but to remove Emily from the house. Her remark, although her intent might not have been a racial one, no doubt caused offence throughout the land. It is wrong, however, to compare this isolated situation with the sustained intentional nastiness which was such a prominent feature of the recent Celebrity Big Brother.

Wednesday 6 June 2007

they always steal pens.
large awkward office magpies
with nests full of ink

And so it begins.
The initial harmony which pervaded the Big Brother House has vanished like a Jade Goody advertising contract.
Ziggy (I am further confused by the fact that some people call him Zak), in order to win money for the shopping budget, had to judge where the housemates would place themselves in order (from 1 to 11) in various categories, i.e. intelligence, attractiveness and consideration.
He guessed, not unsurprisingly, that Lesley would be judged most intelligent. One would have to employ the full forces of the SETI project to find intelligence elsewhere in the house, so this wasn’t a hard task.
Somehow, Charley managed to get the number one spot for attractiveness, although she loudly (she does everything loudly, even silence) protested afterwards that it wasn’t her choice.
The rest was a random scramble for podia, and ultimately, poor Ziggy could only get two answers correct.
Then, the poor man, already beaten to near insanity by the girls singing ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’ over and over again, had to nominate.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Tuesday 5 June 2007

coffee and sushi
and the late sun shimmering
like a metaphor

There’s a small furore going on concerning the new logo for the 2012 olympics. A top advertising concern was commissioned at the cost of the annual income of a small European kingdom and the result is, well, crap. There are five pastel shapes, four of which represent an abstraction of the numbers 2012, and the fifth is… just a shape.
The populace has risen in fury at such amateurism, added to which the animated version on the website has had to be withdrawn as it’s caused people to have epileptic fits.
The BBC morning news, which is always ready to jump on the bandwagon of popular uprisings, has been running a continuous feature every day in which viewers have sent in their own ideas for logos, the majority of which are far superior to, and more practical than, the agreed design.
Most popular of these is a simple idea in which the word ‘London’ is used, with the initial L O N doubling as 2012.
A ‘design guru’ was interviewed this morning and expressed his own dismay at the accepted design and showed some alternatives submitted by students which again, were interesting, exciting, and far more acceptable than what has been chosen.
Personally, as far as the Olympics are concerned, I couldn’t be less bothered. My only involvement with this regular circus is to complain about it commandeering the TV schedules for months without the terrestrial TV companies providing any alternative viewing for those of us who find sporting events only slightly more entertaining than a conversation with Katy Price.
It doesn’t bode well, though, that with five years to go till the event, we can’t even get the logo right.
Meanwhile, in the Big Brother house, the housemates are unaware of the nation’s unhappiness with a bit of design tat.
Food and toilet rolls are running out, and despite Nicky’s best efforts to get the girls to discuss rationing what food they’ve got left, it appears impossible to get them to stop talking about themselves in order to debate the issue.
Satnav (or whatever her name is) had earlier asked Ziggy (I’m wondering now if this is short for Sigmund) if he’d nominate her, as she wants to leave. She’s already been to the Diary room to ask Big Brother if she can ‘still get deals’ if she leaves by the back door.
Those of us who actually watch Big Brother know that discussing or soliciting nominations is a rule one breaks at one’s peril, and Satnav has been punished by Big Brother in the form of banning all the housemates from the bathroom.
Who could have predicted what a terrible punishment that would be? Hair-straighteners have assumed the status of Sauron’s ring, with various females turning to the dark side and attempting to take possession of ‘the precious’.
Lesley watches from another room with the eyes of a reptilian professor, studying the subjects of a vital experiment.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Monday 4 June 2007

thirty years have gone
since marc bolan died in a
purple explosion.

I am beginning to wonder where those thirty years have gone. I recall sitting at my mother’s table, eating (I remember vividly) bacon, egg and fried tomato when the news came on the radio that Bolan had been killed in a car accident, having wrapped his purple mini round a tree near Barnes.
I was in Wales at the time and had no clue where Barnes was, nor did I care, since the terrible truth was filtering through to me that Bolan was dead.
I was seventeen and not terribly sane at the time so it was understandable, at least to me, that I should be upset as Bolan had been an important figure in my life since about 1970. So I cried.
My family, as always, were confused by my behaviour and for the most part remain confused at my behaviour to the present day. There was a fair bit of tutting, frowning and mocking, which is the standard procedure in North Wales for dealing with unusual situations.
Certainly my mother has always found my addiction to Big Brother to be deviant behaviour on my part and one year banished me to the kitchen to watch it while I was staying with her for a few days.
Ziggy from BB (surely that can’t be his real name) today hosted a dinner party for the girls, wheeling them in one at a time so he could share a different course with each of them.
He used the time wisely, and probed the ladies on how they felt about their housemates. No one, it transpires, likes Charley very much.
‘She’s got no substance,’ said Emily, neatly emphasising the fact that she wasn’t discussing nominations, just telling Ziggy (he’s Jewish. Is that a Jewish name?) about the people she’d rather not have in the house.
Later, Charley was the last to come to bed at 5am and started the girls on a sensitively-timed singalong.
‘Will you stop singing shite???’ raged Tracy from her bed, her face adopting the expression of Sean Bean as Boromir when Frodo goes invisible and escapes.
‘It’s the Spice Girls!’
‘Exactly! It’s shite! shite!’
This gets Tracy lots of points from me. Anyone who realises that the Spice Girls are shite has reached a certain level of spiritual enlightenment.
Meanwhile in Coronation Street, Leanne Battersby’s secret is out. She is a woman of the night (or at least a woman of the afternoon) and has been selling her scrawny bones via an agency in one of the only two hotels that Manchester has.
Unfortunately, as Manchester is such a small place, it was inevitable that one of her customers would turn out to be someone she knows, like her boyfriend’s brother.
In soapworld there is no such thing as a secret, and very soon, boyfriend’s brother’s wife is threatening divorce and (as you do) the boyfriend’s brother manhandles Leanne into his car-boot and drives off with her, his expression rather like Sean Bean as Boromir when Frodo goes invisible and escapes.
Attempting to retrieve his ringing mobile from the floor of the car while Leanne screams ‘Let me out! Let me out!’ he runs through a red light and gets driven into by a Greggs Delivery Truck (heavy with pies).
I feel a tragedy coming on…

Sunday 3 June 2007

a sausage sandwich
half a bottle of lost sheep
and a jazz woodbine.

Sadly, due to a power cut which affected our aerial I missed Big Brother this evening as we were employing the satellite to watch the finale of 24.
I last saw BB on Friday night when a young man called Ziggy was admitted to the Big Brother House, unaware that his housemates had been living there since Wednesday and that they were all women.
I have no further opinions on the housemates as yet other than that Charley (as I now discover it is spelt) is my first choice for eviction.
Charley is an example of some of the worst aspects of British Society. She seriously believes that she does not need to work, cook, wash her clothes or indeed, do any anything productive other than exist for the glorification of herself.
If she actually had anything positive going for her she might stand a chance, but judging her by her own values (of which, it appears, there are few) she is sadly lacking. Rude, patronising, aggressive, attention-seeking, and (being as kind as I can be) not really that attractive, I can’t see the point of her.
What is she for?

Friday, 1 June 2007

Wednesday 30 May 2007

i anticipate
my ‘rendezvous with rama’
and space on the train

I have learned to enjoy my journeys backward and forward to work, mainly through shrewd timing which generally gets me a seat on the tube. My passion, if I can describe it as such, is Science Fiction. That’s the literary sort, not the televisual sort, which in most cases is not science fiction at all, but soap opera featuring characters with bumpy faces. It’s only at this time, which amounts to about two hours a day, that I get to read without distractions.
This week I am reading Arthur C Clarke’s ‘Rendezvous with Rama’ in which a vast cylindrical habitat enters the Solar System, and whose exploration throws up alien mysteries which are never solved.
In SF circles these vast unfathomable alien structures (of which there are many) are known as ‘Big Dumb Objects’, a term supposedly first employed by reviewer Roz Kaveney, and one which has been used to describe these feats of extravagant (and usually alien) engineering.
I was reminded of the term this evening when I tuned in to watch the new Big Brother Contestants entering the house. This year they have elected to have an all-female house although it appears that a man will be put in amongst the baying hordes some time on Friday.
I am not sure what BB’s criteria is in choosing housemates. Their target audience (allegedly) is 18-24 year olds, but I seriously doubt that premise since it appears that Big Brother fans come from all age groups. It still does not explain why the people behind the choices seek to fill the house with people guaranteed to irritate and annoy its audience.
There are a pair of Northern airhead teenage twins who (much in the manner of Katherine Tate’s character) scream in unison when confronted with anything unusual. Chanel (if that is how you spell it) bases her life and looks on Victoria Beckham and claims that she once told her mother she had spent £400 paying for a friend’s operation when in fact she’d bought a pair of the pock-faced one’s designer label jeans. That in itself is grounds for sectioning.
Charlie, from South London, is a gobby unemployed girl who was booed on the way in after boasting that she loves money and goes clubbing five nights a week. One suspects that she doesn’t buy many rounds even though her income support seems to be going a long way.
Why put these people in the house? Given the choice, I’d rather not share the same planet with them, let alone have to watch them practicing their limited vocabulary on each other.
On the plus side I like Lesley, at 60, the oldest Big Brother contestant ever, a retired businesswoman who, scarily, sounds a little like Thatcher. Then there’s Carol, 53, from the East End, a bisexual vegetarian sex clinic worker. Laura from South Wales, looks so much like a Little Britain character I can’t believe she’s real. She wants to train to be an embalmer. We should, in a fair world, be able to vote which of her housemates she can practice on.
Tracy is a crazy pink-haired cleaner who says ‘Having it!’ rather a lot.
There are others, but to be honest they’re so dull I can’t find anything to say about them.
So far, Big Brother, I’m not impressed.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Tuesday 29 may 2007

the rain only visits
when we are not stuck at work.
why does it do that?

I watched ‘Have I Got News For You’ on Friday, a comedy news-based panel game which features, as one of its rounds, headlines from an obscure magazine from which some words have been omitted. It is the panellists’ challenge to provide either the missing words or a suitably amusing alternative. You get the idea, I’m sure.
Last week’s guest publication was ‘The Barbed Wire Collector’, which I suspected might have been sheer invention on the part of the producers. As it turns out, it wasn’t. The magazine exists, and there is also a Barbed Wire Museum (two in fact, one in McLean, Texas, and one in Lacrosse, Kansas) which houses exhibits of antique barbed wire, dating from its invention in the US circa 1863. Later, ‘The Devil’s Rope’ was hailed as a marvellous device for keeping cows where they were supposed to be. Previously, it seems, cows were disappointingly uncooperative in staying put.
One’s immediate response to this rather unusual hobby is ‘Why?’, barbed wire not being the first thing to spring to mind when collectors and collecting is being discussed, but having given the matter some thought I find myself rather intrigued and excited by such an eccentric phenomenon.
The concept is, from my point of view, a surrealist’s dream (no pun intended). One imagines rows of glass fronted boxes, within each of which is a clipped section of barbed wire, extracted from its original context and presented as a small piece of art. Barbed wire, in fact, has already achieved a form of iconic status, as its very familiar and recognisable silhouette has long been appropriated into the public art domain and employed in advertising and fashion (particularly during the punk era), its meaning changed from its original intent, which was to prevent escape, to one which symbolises exclusion, i.e. to prevent entry.
Recently the Ugly One bought us a perspex toilet-seat into the lid and seat of which had been set several strands of The Devil’s Rope. I’m still working on the semiological significance of this. I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Thursday 24 April 2007

I need a holiday, but am at a loss as to what to do with it. I have been invited to the US but my mate Mr Soprano is currently house-hunting so it wouldn’t be fair to head in that direction until things are settled.
Ideally, I’d like to disappear to a Scottish island armed only with my laptop, some notebooks and a bag of Moroccan broccoli where I shall write a novel about talking sheep.
The weather is getting better, albeit alternating between hot sunshine and torrential rain. As it was a nice day yesterday I left work and decided to walk up to Stockwell Tube. About a third of the way there I had my bottom pinched. Sadly, it wasn’t a Portuguese sailor but only my mate Bradley, who invited me for a drink at The Far Side with some of our engineers.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Wednesday 23 May 2007

I am glad to see that the evil old toad, Jerry Falwell (I will not dignify his name with the title Reverend) popped his clogs on May 17 and is, hopefully, no doubt roasting in a hell of his own making.
Jerry Falwell, founder of the so-called Moral Majority, was a vehement bigot and homophobe whose despicable views included blaming gays and lesbians for the 9-11 attack.
We may celebrate his long-delayed departure with a big party.

Tuesday 22 May 2007

It’s been a very strange week, which started with a celebrity omen.
Last Monday, feeling a little poorly after an evening of spicy takeaway, I rang in sick, but by the afternoon was feeling well enough to venture out. Whom did I spot wandering toward me but Doctor Fox, Radio DJ and Pop Idol judge.
I find the efficacy of celebrity omens depends very much on the relative fame and quality of the celebrity. The effect can be increased exponentially by multiple sightings of separate celebrities in the one day.
About an hour later I spotted an Irish comedian whom I had seen in one of those sketch shows which have cropped up of late and tend to be shown after ten on BBC 2 or 3. Alas, I could not count him as a celebrity as he was merely a recognisable face from TV, who is so far nameless and hence without power to affect my destiny.
What could the Doctor Fox omen bode?
The next morning I rose as normal, had a coffee, a cigarette and my ablutions, and was roused from my stupor by voicemail from my boss.
‘There is no electricity in the building,’ she said. ‘Feel free to stay at home today.’
So! The Doctor Fox omen is a good one. I shall note it in my Celebrity Omen almanac.
I have spent the week out and about exploring London, as every morning I got the voicemail telling me to stay at home until Friday when, it appears, the power of Doctor Fox eventually ran out and we had to return to work.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Monday 21 May 2007

‘now listen, lady’
is a northern prelude to
female violence.

Big Brother will be returning next week and I will be using this blog to chronicle events in the house as they unfold.
Talking of hooligans, I boarded the westbound Hammersmith and City Line yesterday at about 5pm and found myself surrounded by about ten fans of some unidentifiable sport, their faces painted with fluorescent crosses. They were, however, very friendly, if a little rowdy. Once I had sat down, one of them pointed at me and said ‘It’s Bill Oddie!’ at which the rest of them began to sing ‘He Looks Like Bill Oddie! He Looks Like Bill Oddie. Na Na Na Nah! Na Na Na Nah!’.
I don’t, in fact, look like Bill Oddie. I have been compared to John Peel in the past, and occasionally Derek Jacobi, though I don’t see it.
‘Actually,’ one of them then said, ‘He looks nothing like Bill Oddie.’
They continued their song, but with different lyrics, addressing the physical shortcomings of each other, and the one sitting next to me put his arm around me and rocked me as he sang, which I cannot say was a particularly unpleasant experience, since they were obviously all having a good time, and the comparison to Bill Oddie was not meant in a nasty way, although Bill Oddie himself may think differently.
I got home later than I thought and couldn’t be arsed cooking so I ordered us Chinese food and we watched ‘Coronation Street’.
Last week, Diedre, driven to despair by cheap fags and white wine, erupted into fury when Ken brought his ex-lover Denise into the pub. Diedre leapt to her feet, and almost before anyone could say ‘Now listen, lady!’ (although I’m almost certain one of them did) slapped Denise across her chops.
Ken, his lips trembling with indignation at the effrontery of someone using the phrase ‘Now listen, lady!’ in his presence, threw Denise’s fake-fur-collared coat across her shoulders and ushered her out.
By ‘eck!

Monday, 21 May 2007

Saturday 12 May 2007

eurosongs are not
what people are voting for.
they vote for control.

As has become an annual tradition, our friend, The Wise Woman of Wigan, came round for our Eurovision evening. Normally, we cook the food of the hosting country. This year it was Finland, which isn’t known for its culinary diversity. I haven’t seen many Finnish Restaurants about, even in the posh bits of Notting Hill which tend to value geographical obscurity over taste.
All we could come up with was Gravadlax and Flatbread. So, we decided to do a Smorgesbord, or a Lordisbord (in tribute to last year’s winners, the demonic-faced Lordi) washed down with copious amounts of vodka.
The Fins are a gothic lot, or so it seems, which no doubt comes from living in a twilight world up the cold end of Europe.
The competition wasn’t as exciting as in recent years, despite the gallimaufry of musical styles. Opera was represented by Slovenia (a soprano with a glowing palm which cast light on her face in an eerie manner as she belted out her tune, and a good belt it was too.)
Latvia sent out an El Divo operatic top-hatted combo who appeared on stage one by one in decreasing degrees of handsomeness. I imagine it was a difficult decision as to whether to send the ugly ones out first and gradually increase the cute factor, or do it the other way round. The point is academic anyway as they never got near the finishing line.
There was a lot of penny-whistley Titanic type Celtic music and the usual round of Turkish-techno numbers, but the star was undoubtedly Verka Serduchka, from the Ukraine, a blend of Su Pollard, Dame Edna Everage and Timmy Mallett, and his ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’, a crazy techno-pop nightmare that had ‘Eurovision Winner’ stamped all over it.
Unfortunately, as is always the case with Eurovision, the voting was all over the place and Ukraine was pipped at the post by a dreary power-ballad from a Serbian woman who looked like Joe Pasquale.
They was robbed.
I said this week that the UK (Scooch, singing ‘Flying The Flag’) would either do really well, or very badly. We ended up joint second from last with France, the only country beneath us being Ireland with their dreadful penny-whistly ‘Paddy McGinty’s Goat’ number.
Fired up with Eurovision madness we drank and debated until 4am, while listening to music of ancient times (Well, not that ancient. It was mostly, Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, and a smattering of Dolly Parton, although I did manage to sneak in a Sparks album somewhere in the middle).
Not many people seem to realise that Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ was written and recorded long before by Dolly Parton.I’ve always thought of Dolly’s version as a sincere expression of amour for another human being while Whitney’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ sounds like a threat from a stalker with enormous lungs.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Thursday 10 May 2007

“Rice pud, very good, what's it all about,
Made it in a kettle and they couldn't get it out,
Everybody took a turn to suck it through the spout,
In the old bazaar in Cairo.”

(Clinton Ford)

I used to have a Clinton Ford album called ‘Big Willie Broke Jail Tonight’ which I bought in a jumble sale in Roehampton, more for its salacious title, it has to be said, than for any reason of potential quality. Until now I had thought him to be a Country singer and not the man behind the comic songs ‘Fanlight Fanny’ and ‘The Old Bazaar in Cairo’.
For some reason, the latter song has been rattling around in my head lately. They used to play it regularly on ‘Family Favourites’ when I was child and I could only remember random lines. On a whim I did a Google search today and found the complete lyrics, written by Charlie Chester, comedian and radio presenter, in conjunction with Clinton Ford and someone called K Morris.
The song would probably be considered to be borderline racist for a modern audience, presenting a comical view of items one may conceivably purchase in an Egyptian bazaar e.g. ‘Sand bags, wind bags, camels with a hump/Fat girls, thin girls, some a little plump/Slave girls sold here, fifty bob a lump/In the old bazaar in Cairo.’
However, I’ve never been one to be cowed by political correctness. If anything, it’s an exercise in timing and rhyming schemes which succeeds remarkably well.
Why, you may well ask, am I banging on about an old song that nobody’s heard of, the answer to which is that it’s precisely because it is an old song that nobody’s heard of, and it’s rather good. Why do these things get forgotten?
I enjoin you to seek out this song. It might not be your cup of tea, or indeed, your kettle of rice pudding, but on the other hand, it just might be, and it may make you laugh, in which case, my job here would be done.
Talking of comical music, Saturday is the night of The Eurovision Song Contest, the most important night of the year. ‘It’s not just a matter of Life and Death’, as someone once said about something less vital. ‘It’s more important than that.’

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Wednesday 9 May 2007


There's going to be a lot of macrame,
But mainly in the South. Later this band of
High pressure moving in over Europe
May lead to scattered outbreaks of marquetry.
This will persist until the evening with
Heavy scrapbooking in many areas, and
Some blustery stamping.
Overnight there is a slight risk of ceramics
But mainly in the South.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Tuesday 8 May 2007

jail paris hilton.
send her down. bang her up. clap
the derbies on her.

Paris Hilton – does she bring beauty and excitement to the world? Discuss. It won’t take long.

The ubiquitous Paris has been arrested and threatened with forty-five days in chokey. Hoorah! Is there some way we can increase the sentence? She is asking for a pardon because she ‘brings beauty and excitement to the world’.
Moving swiftly on…

Monday 7 May 2007

in the metro bar.
there is more leather in there
than real human flesh

I went up to Holloway Road, just for the hell of it as it was a nice day (mostly). I spent a quiet half-hour in the Metro Bar outside the station which was nice, because the bar staff outnumbered the customers and there was plenty of choice of seating and lots of leather settees. After translating most of their menu into shorthand (Walnuts, mozzarella and basil) I realised I was bored enough and headed off home.
Tension is mounting in Coronation Street. Gail and Clurr are so concerned about the Big Shed that they have sent Clurr’s husband Ashley into the garden ‘undercover like’ in order to measure it up.
Meanwhile, Ken, unmoved by Diedre’s overtures of peace, has returned only for some clean clothes and his library ticket.
‘Where’ve ya bin, Ken?’ asks Diedre, her neck straining like the cables of Tower Bridge.
‘I have been to see my ex-lover, Denise, whom I made heavy with child twelve years ago.’
‘A child who you’ve never mentioned since!’ said Diedre.
I don’t know why Diedre finds that so unusual, since absent family are never mentioned by anyone. Steve McDonald has a twin brother who went off somewhere ten years ago and has never again been spoken of, even by his mother. ‘Denise wrote us a nice letter of support when our Tracy bashed her boyfriend’s head in with an Art Deco ornament.’ said Ken, with which he picked up his cardy and his library ticket and flounced out.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Sunday 6 May 2007

this is not our street.
people talk to each other,
die exciting deaths.

Today, feeling the urge to get creative in the kitchen for a change I went to off to the Big Tescoes (as opposed to the small Tescoes) for ingredients.
I met my mate Steve on the way home, who has just finished filming a Horror Movie.
‘It’s great!’ he said. ‘I get stuck in a bear trap and get me head pulled off!’
So, once home, I mooched about for a while, reading approved rational literature and watching ‘Doctor Who.’
Later, I cooked jerk chicken, anchovy and roasted pepper salad, and rice. It was lurvely, and put us in the right mood to catch up with the goings on in Coronation Street.
The one thing I like about Coronation Street is that they aren’t afraid to go with the big storylines. Some people may remember Sinbad from Brookside, who has now changed his name to Jerry, moved to Weatherfield with a shedload (literally) of assorted gormless children and opened a kebab shop. As if that weren’t excitement enough, Jerry has erected a giant shed in his back garden. Sinbad is sandwiched (but not in a nasty way) by Gail Platt and Clurr Peacock who consequently are doing a lot of armfolding and bosom-adjusting over their garden fences in order to discuss ‘the shed’.
Meanwhile, Ken, ousted from his ancestral family home by Diedre (all staring eyes and smoke pluming from her flaring nostrils) is in hiding at a secret B&B, being given extra breakfast eggs by a no-nonsense landlady.
I can’t cope with all this suspense.