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.

Saturday 5 May 2007

apple blossom still
lying in the street like a
white dismembered drunk

Our niece Louise met us for a drink in The William Morris in Hammersmith. I think William Morris would have been appalled at his name being used for a place where the bouncers bodysearch people as they come in. They didn’t go in for that in the Art and Craft movement, I’m sure.
The evening went on at home after we picked up some fresh voddy at the late-night Tescos.
Sadly, Louise got very drunk and started speaking in tongues so I went to bed and left her and the Ugly One to it.

Friday 4 May 2007

one chicken balti
one plate of pilau rice and
a big fat nan bread

On the way home today, when coming out of Hammersmith Tube Station I saw the man who played Count Scarlioni, Last of the Jaggaroth, in the Classic Doctor Who story ‘City of Death’. I was very tempted to shout ‘You are Count Scarlioni, Last of The Jaggaroth, and I claim my five pounds!’ which is a joke, I am sure, that only old people will get.
Count Scarlioni might have got it, as he’s getting on a bit now.
This was no doubt some sort of celebrity omen. I know not what it may bode.
‘Spiderman III’ was the first thing on our menu this evening. The first thing on our menu might have been the cute bald decorator who was drinking in Wetherspoons, but he escaped before we could trap him in our Spidey web.
At two and a half hours, Spidey 3 is hefty bit of cinema, but enjoyable nonetheless. In retrospect, they could have done without the Sandman, who added little to the story. Venom alone was a strong enough plotline to carry the film through, as it looks like Sandman might well have been an afterthought that was stitched in.
It was well done as always, but I can’t help wondering how long Peter Parker can get away with that wide-eyed dumb smile look. It’s wearing a little thin.
Later, we called into the Royal Tandoori, which has a scenic view of Shepherds Bush roundabout, and feasted on Eastern nosh.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Wednesday 2 May 2007

like a pinter man
ken fights the mundane dragons
blanche and diedre

I had a lovely day off today and stayed home, listening to Radio 4.
When the Ugly One got home we settled down to watch Coronation Street, where Ken and Diedre’s relationship is turning into some existentialist drama experiment, or maybe some bizarre re-imagining of Othello in which Blanche (Diedre’s strangely twisted mother) has become a Iago, whispering aspersions on Ken’s masculinity into his ear and goading him into some kind of dramatic moment, which would be a tall order for Ken. As everyone knows, Ken’s idea of heightened tension is banging the earpiece of his spectacles against his teeth and frowning at Eccles the dog.
Diedre, for reasons best known to herself, somehow now blames Ken for Tracy’s imprisonment in the Weatherfield Maximum Security Shed for Bad Lasses (despite the fact that Tracy confessed to whacking gormless Charlie Stubbs into the next life with a bit of Objet D’Art).
Ken attempts to be reasonable but Diedre’s having none of it, and in an action which has become somewhat predictable over the last few weeks, picks up her cardy and prepares to flounce out into the Weatherfield night claiming that ‘I want some spaaaace!’
Suddenly, shockingly, Ken shouts.
‘If you go now, I won’t be here when you come back!’
But alas, Diedre is not swayed by this sudden display of Northern butchness and completes her flounce.
Later she returns to find Blanche sitting like a malevolent spectacled spider in the dark sitting room.
‘He’s gone!’ says Blanche, heading for the stairs.
As Diedre sinks into a chair at the Barlow family table of psychology to clasp her hands to her face Blanche calls over her shoulder.
‘Is that enough space for ya?’
Eeeeeh! It’s classic!

Tuesday 1 May 2007

each day they ask where
charing cross hospital is.
each day I tell them.

Cronenberg, it seems, is planning an opera based on ‘The Fly’, the seminal tale whose subtext is the rejection of those different from ourselves. Synchronistically, years ago, Jeff Goldblum, who starred in the remake of The Fly, made a film called The Tall Guy, about an actor. One of the jokes in the movie was that Goldblum had been cast to play The Elephant Man in a musical of the story called simply ‘Elephant’ , the single word title which seemed to be the fashion of the age, or else a necessity in order to get Americans to read the title. It was an idea that, at the time, was ludicrous. Today, it seems that it’s more or less compulsory to write a musical based on either the flimsiest of ideas, or the most terrifyingly ambitious. I am scared by the thought of ‘Lord of The Rings – The Musical’, whose centre-piece song surely has to be ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Moria?’
We must stand as one and reject all this Musical nonsense. With that in mind I have ordered some t-shirts with a picture of Andrew Lloyd-Webber on the front and the words ‘Just Say No!’.
Rejection is a thing we all have to come to terms with in our lives on all sorts of levels (Lloyd-Webber especially), and it hurts, but it is part of life. If we didn’t have rejection and despair in our lives, we would not have soap operas, and then where would we be?
Literary rejection is no less hurtful. I don’t mean being dumped by text, which seems to be the latest and most expedient way of getting rid of an unwanted partner, but receiving a response to one’s literary submissions to editors along the lines of ‘we enjoyed reading your work but cannot use it at this time’, one of which I received this morning.
I’m becoming philosophical about it, and am grateful that in this case, someone actually did respond, which can’t be said for quite a few publications to whom work has been sent, after having dutifully read their submission guidelines and followed the requested format.
However, once in a while, something will arrive unexpectedly bearing the news that one’s work has been pleasantly received and will be published in due course. It does, I assure you, make up for all the other occasions when one’s been cruelly repulsed.
On several mornings recently for some reason people have been approaching me outside Hammersmith Tube Station and asking me where Charing Cross Hospital is. Those of you outside London may not know that Charing Cross Hospital is nowhere near Charing Cross itself. It’s in Hammersmith, on the way to Fulham. Being the bipolar paranoid that I am, my mind begins to conjure odd scenarios in which TV companies have been following me for days and are running bets on how long I can go on answering the question honestly before sending some poor sick visitor off to Trafalgar Square.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Monday 30 April 2007

grim as a brick bap
diedre barlow folds arms,
and says ‘ken, ken, ken!’

I am not sure what Coronation Street are doing with Diedre and Ken. Tonight Ken, being the desperate elderly trendy that he is (trenderly?) tried to cheer up poor Diedre with broccoli from the Farmer’s Market. Diedre, unimpressed with his talk of local produce and food miles, threw on her cardy and flounced out, leaving her broccoli unconsumed.
Diedre, of course, is still reeling from the shock of finding out that her daughter Tracy is a cold-blooded murderess, who revelled in banging her lover Charlie over the head with a TK Maxx Art Deco ornament. Ken is trying to be sensible and look on the bright side. If Diedre could only see it there is a bright side. Tracy was one of the worst actresses ever to grace the hallowed cobbles of Corry, and having her banged up for a minimum of fifteen years should be grounds for the residents to have a street party; tables creaking with sausage and egg barms, trays flowing with halves of bitter and a barbecue doing pikelets and toasted teacakes.Should Tracy ever return it will most likely be with a new head (Her half-brother Peter Barlow has allegedly had at least eleven heads in the past. One was Scottish and ginger) so what cause is there to greet so, Diedre? Put that fag out and have a stout.

Sunday 29 April 2007

w h smith,
you used to be a bookshop.
now you’re a crapshop

Today was much the same. I ache like a body-armoured Phil Spector drive-by victim.I ventured out to do some shopping, and found, to my delight, a book of blank watercolour paper postcards in WH Smith. Now, I shall do a Gilbert & George and make some disposable art to post to people. If I become a famous artist, writer or serial killer, my friends can put them on e-bay and buy a house with the proceeds.