Saturday, 31 October 2015

The last tattoo...

He’d been the tattoo guy all his life and that was a pretty long time, more tattoos than he cared to remember or even could remember. He’d inked them all over the years; skulls, stars and stripes, mermaids, swallows, Moms and Dads, hearts, sweet Marilyn, too many Chinese dragons, some carp and samurai, plenty of tramp stamps and tribal and Arabic symbols that meant just about diddly shit to anybody not in the tribe or of Arab origin.

Yes, you sure can pound a lot of skin in more than sixty years and that’s how long he’d been slinging the ink. But now, at almost eighty, his eyes were going and the rum made his hands shake like a whore’s arse slapped with a kipper. He poured himself another shot. He hadn’t done any tattooing business in months. Well, unless you count the drunk who paid him far too much dough to ink out ‘Wendy’ from a cupid tattoo that was only a couple of days old. He hadn’t asked for a story and the drunk hadn’t given one. That cover-up job must have hurt like hell, but the guy was a wrastler and sucked it up.

He knocked back another slug of rum. It’d begun to burn on its way down recently and most nights it woke him up. He didn’t like what he saw in the pan either. Time to move on; time to turn the sign to closed for the last time. His case was packed and waiting upstairs and tomorrow he flew off to the sun. He’d been promising himself for half a lifetime and this was one tattoo guy who was hanging up his needles and getting out of this shitty little town, something he should have done a lot of years ago.

He stood, with joints that didn’t want to function, and was about to walk to the door when it opened and a man stepped in from the darkness outside.

‘Still in the business?’ The man asked.

Joey didn’t recognise him, but there was something familiar about his face. Familiar in the way when you think you recognise the guy next to you at the bar before you realise you’ve been sitting next to him at every bar you’ve ever drunk in and for all your life.

‘What are you wanting? Something special?’ Joey asked.

Well, one last tattoo for old time’s sake couldn’t do any harm and the shakes weren’t that bad tonight. He could function; even make something passable, an anchor or maybe some entwined hearts. Besides, he could do with some rum money to blow in the bar at the airport.

‘Nothing major,’ the stranger replied. ‘Just a small piece, I don’t have too much available skin for anything else.’

He removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeve. For the first time Joey noticed that the man’s hands were covered in tattoos of tiny faces, each about two inches square, each screaming, and each captured in such detail that Joey wondered who the artist could have been. He looked up from the stranger’s hands, up his arm to his bicep, and saw that his arm was covered in similar tattoos.

‘How much?’ Joey asked. It wasn’t a price; it was a question of degree.

‘Total. The soles of my feet, my legs, arms, torso, my whole body all the way up to my neck. I don’t do face. I have enough of those covering my skin. Wanna see?’

Joey did. Well, he was a professional and from what he could see the work was extraordinarily fine. He nodded and the stranger removed his clothes.

He was a work of art. Thousands of faces screamed from his skin, each a perfect picture of terror. Joey thought he recognised the odd face or two. But that couldn’t be, he’d never met this man before, but he was sure that the open mouthed portrait by the stranger’s left nipple was Terry Macaloon, a great inker who Joey had got drunk with a few times at conventions. Terry had been dead almost twenty years, he went sudden, a heart attack. The cops found him in his shop still holding his irons.

‘What do you want from me?’ Joey asked.

The stranger opened the palm of his left hand and showed Joey the two inch space.

‘This is for you,’ he said, ‘let’s call it your final resting place although I can’t guarantee you any rest.’

Joey picked up his needle and began to draw the outline of his face on the stranger’s hand. It couldn’t take too long, he didn’t have the time, but he wanted it to be his very best work. After all, this was going to be his last tattoo.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Under a Bushel...

Now don’t Peck my head off, but I went to the wood place in Wales yesterday to buy, rather unsurprisingly, some wood.

Well, when I say wood I mean logs, logs to burn on the fire at home. We usually buy a cage full which is about six sacks of logs. But yesterday we went for half a cord, a cord being a 4 feet x 4 feet x 8 feet pile of wood.

Half a cord is quite a lot of wood. It entirely filled the back of the car with the seats down. All that wood, half a cord, got me thinking. Where did the cord measurement come from and what about all those other obscure measurements we were made to learn by rote at school back in the dark ages?

We all know that beer comes in barrels, but did you know that a Barrel of beer is 36 gallons (or 4 Firkins) whilst a Barrel of wine is only 31.5 gallons. No, I had no firkin idea either. Nor did I know that away from quaffable liquids a Barrel of oil is 42 US gallons whilst a UK gallon is for once bigger than its US cousin and equivalent to 1.2 US gallons (approx).

Not only that, but it seems that a Bag is equal to 24 gallons, although why you would keep liquids in a bag is a bit of a mystery. Not so a Bucket, which is equal to 4 gallons, or a Butt which is equal to 108 or 126 Gallons dependent on whereabouts in the country you are and how much rain you get.

But who wants water when there is booze to be had? Apparently there are 16 Drams to the Fluid Ounce which equals 16 Minims, a Gill is a quarter of a pint, a Hogshead 52.5 gallons, a Kilderkin is equal to 18 gallons, a Puncheon is equal to 70 gallons and a Last is equal to 640 gallons which is about 14 pints a day.

And that’s just the liquid volumes. Throw in Lines, Links, Chains, Mils, Nails, Palms, Perches, Poles, Rods, Ropes, Roods and even Thous and you really have something to measure up to.

Goodness knows why 32.174 pounds is a Slug or why 20 Grains is a Scruple, or what 24 Scruples or 20 Pennyweights (which equals an Ounce Troy) is used for. It’s enough to drive you to a Noggin or two, a Noggin being a measure of spirit roughly equivalent to a Gill which, if I had any scruples, should really be called a slug I think.

It’s all a bit hard to Fathom (6 feet of depth in water) really. But what about that Cord of wood, where did that name come from? Well believe it or Knot (6080 Feet) it’s simply named after the 4 foot length of string (Cord) that was used to measure the wood stack.

Yes, you really have to Hand (4 inches) it to those old time measurers they really knew how to Palm (3 inches) us off when it came to measurement and set the Pace (2.5 feet). You might even say that they were in a League (3 miles) of their own.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Teddy bears picnic…

On a pretty grey day (with some very grey events) it was nice to find this surprise piece of sunshine poking its head out through the wisteria this morning. I remember buying a packet of Sunflower Teddy Bear seeds a couple of years ago, maybe three. But I don’t remember specifically planting any this year, although it could be that – as I sometimes do – I just randomly planted the remaining seeds from any open packet in my seed draw and this was one of them.

Of course it could have been fallout from the birdseed or even fallout from a bird, but I think it was the last seed from an open packet, the one that always hides in the corner trying to escape.

Either way I was pleased to see it this morning, particularly so late in the season. Sunflower Teddy Bear, it really suits its name doesn’t it. Yellow like Rupert and fluffy, just like Teddy Bears should be.

I’ll leave it to set seed and then collect some, a few to plant and what’s left over I’ll feed the birds. That way the cycle may all begin again.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Mr Shouty shouts again...

Remember Mr Shouty, that totally fictitious excuse for a person that bears no resemblance to any person living or dead? Well, for one reason or another he rides (or rather shouts) again and he seems to be very confused poor old thing.

You see, he doesn’t seem to be in charge anymore. No matter how loudly he shouts, how he spits and bellows, how he shakes his fist and stamps his feet, nobody is listening and agreeing with him. Well, except Mrs Shouty and she doesn’t count. After all, she’s only a woman and she doesn’t have any opinions, just a grey cloud hanging over her head and the neck action of a nodding dog.

Even when he makes up his very best lies nobody listens any more, even when he threatens to cut them out of his will they still won’t tow the line.


Of course he won’t. The tide has turned and Mr Shouty is at last seen for what he is: a stupid, bullying, sadistic, control freak.

He can’t understand it. How dare people take a view different to his, how dare they disagree. Perhaps they need to start living in the real world, the one that he made up and exists only inside his own tiny out-of-his-fucking-mind head.

Mr Shouty is so angry that he forgets to shout for a moment and instead whispers threateningly, and in doing so he proves that it really isn’t deafness that causes his shouty problem, but we knew that anyway, didn’t we?

‘It’s all HIS doing you know. If it wasn’t for him I’D still be in charge, still be in control. I’M not a fool, I wasn’t born yesterday. I know his GAME, I’M not Tom Pepper for nothing. I know how to get him. Now just let ME think.’

Mr Shouty puts the wheels of his mind in gear. They aren’t very big wheels, they never were, and they aren’t even particularly rounded. They are covered in an oily scum and crank and grind as the misuse of a lifetime along with the misshapen warped cogs clunk away. Looking at him you would almost think that he was deep in thought, except he has no deep thoughts. His thoughts are so shallow and full of self-opinionated bigotry that if he were to stand in them, his socks wouldn’t even get damp.

He thinks and thinks.

He thinks some more.

What is he going to do? How is he going to crush all these people that are so against him? Have they no gratitude? Have they no respect? And after all he has done for them, the sacrifices he has made, the egos he has damaged, the joy he has killed, the esteems he has single handed lowered, the mental illness and depression he has (almost single handed) caused, the laughter he has squeezed from their throats to make them choke on it. Of course it was for their good not his. He was only thinking of them, had their best interest at heart, and he has hardly profited at all from it - well, not too much anyway.

How is he going to make them do as they are told?

He thinks and thinks.

He thinks some more.

And then it comes to him.

He is going to shout until they do want he wants.





But they don’t. So Mr Shouty just keeps shouting even though nobody is listening. Poor Mr Shouty doesn't he realise that shouting never wins an argument particularly when there is nobody left to shout at.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

In the names of the father...

I’ve never been one for puzzles and codes. I would have made a useless code breaker at Bletchley Park, and not just because I don’t smoke a pipe or wear tweed. My mind works in a different way. Oh I see the connections, can spot the patterns in chaos, but if I’m asked to sit down and solve something I rarely can. Perhaps I simply don’t try enough or perhaps it is something genetic. Give me a crossword and I’ll tire of it in minutes, even though I generally know the answers.

Of course it could be that I don’t want to solve the puzzle or break that code, perhaps if I were to I might find out that the message is something I really don’t like. There’s danger in understanding things, fear in knowing what makes something tick. I know what makes one thing tick. I was scared of it for years and then one day I stood up to it and it went away. Of course there was a problem; it took everything else with it and that’s one I think I can never solve.

In the names of the father

Dirty as a graveyard dig
Arrogant as a knife
Vile like an open wound
Insidious like a pig
Despicable like trenchfoot
Wicked as slow torture
Hurtful as a seat in hell
Evil like spit on the altar
Ignorant as a dog turd
Greedy like a cancer
Hostile as a hornet’s nest
Threatening like a burglar.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Anarchy in the backyard...

She carries on her way as if winter will never come, growing and letting the life burst out of her. I suppose I should take the shears and trim her back, but I don’t have the heart. After all she’s kept her part of the bargain all year long and now, in her last verdant flush, she deserves to be allowed to do what she wants. A little anarchy before the winter and the bareness it brings arrive to dull her passion..

I am constantly surprised with what still grows. I’d forgotten I had planted red sunflowers, and the regular sunflowers and dahlias continue to bloom. The foxgloves have taken on a lot of leaf , the Chinese chrysanthemums have trebled in size and the nasturtiums – the ones that I was sure I’d weeded out - have miraculously appeared to add small splashes of yellow and orange and large round leaves to the jumble that she has become.

I like her when she is managed, tidy and clean lined, but I have to admit to a sneaking admiration for what she has achieved left to her own devices. No, I won’t take the shears to her just yet. I’ll leave her a few more weeks of freedom to do as she pleases; after all, what harm can it do?

Monday, 19 October 2015

Inside the pumpkin…

Halloween is almost upon us again and if there is one thing that I really thank America for it is the way they celebrate by carving the most fantastic pumpkins. Yes, there is no doubt that the USA are the best pumpkin carving nation in the world. They have made carving a vegetable into an art form.

Back in the grey mist of my childhood we used to carve out turnips and I’ll never forget that horrible burnt scorched turnip smell on Halloween. These days, instead of a turnip, I carve pumpkins and place them in my front yard to amuse the scores of Trick or Treaters who come to our house each year. I’m sure that pumpkins were available, but Halloween was no big thing back then; no Trick or Treating, or parties, just the sign of the cross and early to bed to avoid the demons. And it was that mix of pumpkins and demons that led me to this.

All pumpkins have their own demons to wrestle with you see. Here are mine and those are my pumpkins awaiting carving on my kitchen table. I wonder who or what I will let out?

Inside the pumpkin

i) The questions

What monsters lurk
In those orange globes
Waiting for release?
What creatures hide
In seed and pith
To take away our peace?
What demons stir
In that deep dark flesh
To terrify and increase?
What memories await
A remembering
To drive us to decease?
What shadows need
To be set free
And become our alterpiece?

ii) The chant

Set free the beasts, set free the beasts,
With knife and saw and spoon.
Set free the beasts, set free the beasts,
To flame and scream at the moon.
There are beasts inside,
There are monsters inside,
Deep inside us all.
There are dark creatures inside,
There are demons inside
Determined we should fall.
Defeat the beasts, defile the beasts,
With thought, acceptance and scorn.
Defeat the beasts, defy the beasts,
And make their power stillborn.

iii) The warning

Inside each there lies a monster wriggling to get out.
Inside each a rabid demon spreading fear and doubt.
Each look deep into your pumpkin and cut your badness out.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Breakfast in America…

I guess we have all enjoyed a full English breakfast at some time even though we might have different definitions of what ‘full’ consists of. The ingredients can vary, but the staples are fried eggs, bacon, sausage and then there are the variables: fried bread, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding, hash browns (an honourary English breakfast component) and beans – although I would argue that beans are a must have and the best full English has all of these ingredients, maybe a kidney or two and some haggis if you are north of the border.

When I was in the States I was amazed at the American stance on breakfast in general, but particularly their thinking on baked beans. Beans aren’t a breakfast food in the US at all and they simply don’t get beans on toast. Just why this superb combination - which can be breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, brinner, later-night supper and anything in between - is shunned mystifies me. And besides being incredibly tasty and arguably moderately healthy, it's also ridiculously quick to make: pop the beans in the microwave for a couple of minutes while the toaster heats up, and you've got a warm meal in no time at all. How Americans, many of whom eat beans and toast separately, and seem to be fans of instant gratification, can hate this cuisine is one of life’s puzzles I think.

The same goes for bangers and mash, it's not so much that Americans find it an odd combination; it’s more that they are not always sure what it means. Of course the trusty mashed potato and sausage, usually with added onion gravy, bangers and mash dish is often served in pubs along with warm beer. The ‘mash’ bit is obvious, but the ‘banger’ needs explanation. The term was first used in Britain during WWII when sausages were pumped up with water causing them to sometimes explode. Of course it could be the warm beer that is the problem for US citizens, warm beer causes them to pull faces and add an exploding sausage and ‘they are outta here’.

I have never seen an American eating a soft boiled egg at breakfast. In fact I have never seen an American eating a boiled egg or even an egg cup in America and it would be really impractical to eat a soft boiled egg without one. Of course egg cups are one of the great British collectables and a boiled egg and dippy bread soldiers are another of those foods that you can eat at any time and a great way to start the day. Yes, I’m part of the ‘Go to work on an egg’ generation. This one really seems to puzzle Americans. ‘What,’ they'll say. ‘You boil an egg, cut off the top and then dip thin fingers of buttered bread into the yolk? Do you consider that normal behavio(u)r dude?’ Well, frankly yes.

Then of course there’s the oddly named bubble and squeak. Perhaps with this combination of shallow fried mashed potatoes, greens, carrots, and any other scrapings left over from Sunday lunch, it’s more the name than anything else that overwhelms Americans. Add to this the flabber, gast and total incredulity with which they meet mushy peas or chips with gravy (and or curry sauce) and you begin to wonder if we actually come from the same planet.

In a fight which breakfast would win I wonder? Would it be the full English or the full American, and just what is a full American breakfast anyway? I’ve eaten fried eggs in the US, but many Americans seem to prefer their breakfast eggs scrambled, poached or omeletted (which un-Englishes any English breakfast). They drench syrup on their deep fried bacon and strange tasting, over ‘erbed, sausages and consider donuts, waffles, biscuits, pancakes and bagels as breakfast when they are obviously tea, a sandwich or pudding. I’ve had corned beef hash as breakfast in America (which I enjoyed), steak with fried potatoes (which is dinner really but jolly tasty), I’ve even had grits – a kind of maize porridge – with cheese, fatty bacon, and chopped spring onions all topped off with a poached egg (which I hated).

All in all to my mind the great American breakfast is too confusing to be a real breakfast at all. It crosses into a continental petit dejeuner, mixes sickly sweet and savoury on the same plate, seems to go on for ever and doesn’t come with a proper cup of tea.

Give me good old sausage, egg, bacon, beans and a slice of fried bread any day.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Ode to Rioja...

Ode to Rioja
Oh rich Rioja wine
With a better body than mine
Your nose is extremely fine
I love it when we dine
Oh deep Rioja wine
You undo my straight line
Tip me one over the nine
Send shivers up my spine
Oh warm Rioja wine
You match with my star sign
Without you I would pine
My heart and thee entwine
Oh jeweled Rioja wine
My soul is forever thine
You chase away my whine
My majestic queen of the vine

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Computer down...

Computer down captain and when I say down I mean fallen to the concrete and unable to compute. I didn't realise but my whole life, at least the last 12 years of it, resides on that bit of computing history and of course no backup. At least the blog remains here and that is something, but my other writings may all be gone.

I just hope the repair shop can do something Scotty.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Bong, bong, bong...

I’m told that when you have nothing to write you should just start writing. How this could possibly work is something of a puzzle, after all if you have nothing to write, you have nothing to write and writing something isn’t going to change that no matter what you may wish.

I had considered writing about the ITV News at Ten, or the Tom Bradbury show as I’ve begun to call it. Just what is this new format all about? It's all gone a bit out of focus, fuzzy even. 

I like my news reported, not commented on with opinion, pathos and humour thrown in for good measure; and I like a couple of presenters like Six Million Dollar (Mark Austin), Etchasketch (Julie Etchingnam), and Charlie Chalk (Charlotte White). Yes, I have nicknames for all the news presenters – Romany Cheeks, Spud, Baggy Raggy, Trebor MacDonut, Miss Kerplunk, Jimmy Durex, Tweety Pie, all in a Stew, I even have nicknames for the weather girls - Loosely Very Smelly and Beaky Mountains – and the local news reporters - Lucy Meecock (who I insist on calling Sukie, I leave that one with you).

In fact you can play the game of guessing who is who from their nicknames if you want to, and if anyone gets them all I will award a gold star. I'm personally sad to see the demise of so many welcome faces in my living room and I know that it’s very sad personally that I've been compelled to give them nicknames, particularly the ones so fraught with innuendo. It’s probably a throwback from my Billy Bunterish schooldays.

Anyway, as yet I have no nickname for Tom Bradbury. He’s managed to escape my schoolboy humour, although I’m sure ‘supercilious git’ would be quite apt, if a trifle close to the truth. All suggestions welcome.

It's odd what you write when you have nothing to write.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

A hunting we will go...

It isn't every day that you pass fifty or sixty people on horseback on a quiet country lane. I stopped of course, I didn't want to scare the horses, and whilst I waited I observed the riders as they went by.

It's Autumn and with the Autumn the foxhunting season begins. Now I'm not exactly sure what that means any more. Foxhunting is meant to be banned despite Tory attempts to overturn that bit of legislation recently. I think you are still allowed to go out as a hunt, but not to hunt foxes, I think they drag a bit of rag or something through the fields for the dogs to chase. Not much of a sport that, but then to my mind neither was foxhunting.

I know it looks nice on plates and Christmas cards, but I've never really liked the idea of a wild animal being hunted down and then ripped to pieces by a pack of dogs while people on horseback look on and cheer. I don't know why really, but it all seems a little barbaric; and they don't even eat the fox just daub some of the poor things blood on the cheeks of the new recruits. I'm sure it's a jolly nice day out, but surely they could gallop across the fields in a pack without having to kill and desecrate another creature at the end of it.

Anyway, as I said I watched the riders as they went by. I was hoping to feel moral outrage, maybe a twinge of hatred for them, perhaps even shake my fist as they went by. Instead they looked like perfectly normal people. Most didn't wear red coats, the hounds were well behaved, and there were a lot more women than men, some of them just teenagers. Many of them thanked me for stopping as they passed,  I must have had twenty thank you's and at least fifty smiles. I nodded back and heard myself saying 'you're welcome' which of course they were, but at the same time they really weren't.

I felt uneasy about it all, almost as if by stopping my car and nodding politely I was sanctioning their cruelty and agreeing with them that what they do is fine and dandy - which it really, really isn't. Fox hunting should stay banned and hunts disbanded, there are far too many foxes and they are becoming a nuisance - one killed all our chickens - but they need to be kept under control by some other means. I don't know what that other means is but it has to be better than using some antiquated, ritualistic, foxhunt

In truth I felt a little dirty when they'd all passed by. Maybe I should have blown my horn at them, or driven past them at speed scattering the horses and throwing the riders, but they seemed like perfectly ordinary people and not cruel monsters on horseback. So I'm left with a lot of questions, but the biggest one is: if I can see how wrong it is to terrify and kill a pathetic wild animal for fun, why can't they?

Maybe I just don't understand the ways of country people.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Blessed be the cheesemakers…

Look out, I don’t want to raise a stink but I’m going to go all cheesy on you, moldy cheesy to be exact. Today is an important day. Today is the day that the world celebrates all cheeses that are made intentionally with mold. You know the ones, the tasty ones that get their distinct character and taste from being a little rotten like me. Yes, it’s that mold that makes all the difference.

There are different kinds of mold in cheese, Penicillumroqueforti or Penicillum glaucum are what causes that lovely bluish-green hue in blue cheese which is why the Romans used blue cheese as an antibiotic in their wounds. Of course cheese has been around a lot longer than the Romans were. It was made before 6000 BC, so it’s been smelling the place out for quite a while.

The French (say cheese all you Frenchies) are probably the most cheesy nation on Earth and have more varieties of cheese than any other county in the world. Every adult in France eats about a pound of cheese a week, which could explain why they make a lot of perfume too. The Greeks beat the French though and eat about 63 pounds of cheese a year per person, much of it made from sheep and goat’s milk which apparently counts.

It isn’t just cakes you know, the UK makes some exceedingly good cheese too and along with our traditional varieties like Cheddar, Cheshire and Leicestershire, new varieties are being made by craft cheesemakers all the time. Of course it’s the United States who are (as with everything) the really big cheese producing more cheese that any other nation on earth, which is surprising given that their cheeses (including that awful processed substance called American or Government cheese) are so very, very, bad. The Americans favourite cheese is Mozzarella and it usually comes on top of a three foot wide pizza.

I expect we’ve all had some moldy cheese at the back of our fridge at one time or another. Another aspect of Moldy Cheese Day is a reminder to check your fridge for that ball of Mozzarella that is decomposing in its packet floating in a cheesy watery grave. But if you do find some moldy cheese you don’t necessarily need to throw it away. Soft cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese and ricotta cheese, with mold should always be binned. The same goes for any kind of cheese that's shredded, crumbled or sliced. But mold generally can't penetrate far into hard and semisoft cheeses, like cheddar, Parmesan and Edam. So it’s fine to cut away the moldy part and eat the rest of the cheese. I’ve been doing this for years, but don’t tell my family or I’ll never get Bolognaise again.

So let us celebrate Moldy Cheese Day and salute a Stilton, smile at a Stinking Bishop, revere a Roquefort, gush over a Gorgonzola, dine on a Danish Blue, bow to a Brie and covet a Camembert. After all, as Monty Python said: ‘Blessed be the cheesemakers’.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Blank on National Poetry Day...

What a day to lose my muse
It isn’t something I would choose
Lost for verse and lost for rhyme
It couldn’t have happened at a worse time

The poetry in me seems on strike
The poet off on his poet’s bike
I really wanted to partake
But the words won’t come for goodness sake

I’ve tried my best but my mind is blank
It’s about as much use as a wooden plank
If only my words would fly like birds
Instead they sink like a sperm whale’s turds

No poem on National Poetry Day
I really don’t know what to say
I wanted to write a little ditty
Maybe an elegy, perhaps something witty

I wondered loony as a cloud
Stop, plagiarism is not allowed
If only I could pen something original
Something that flows, that isn’t this drivel

Instead I find myself tongue tied
And it isn’t as if I haven’t tried
All you’ve got is this gibberish
Sorry for sharing my rhyming rubbish.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A pocketful of autumn…

Even on the tarmac of a dingy backwater, behind shops selling plastic gnomes and three packs of scissors for a pound, you can find beauty. I’ve not been looking too hard at what surrounds me for a while and beauty is easily missed. I don’t know why I’ve had my eyes closed a little. Maybe I’ve become jaded, but I’m not finding as much wonder in the world as I used to.

There was a time where I went out of my way to be cynical and hard in my dealings. These days I try very had to work against my natural cynicism (or is it learnt?) and fight off my instinct to bite. It isn’t very easy, I’m still often there with the wilting remark and pointed jibe. Of course it’s all Rick Blaine’s fault, hard bitten rake and roué that he was, but even Rick turned out to be a good guy with a heart in the fog of the airport.

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Perhaps, that’s it. Perhaps I’ve been lost in the fog and forgotten just how much Paris there is all around us; like these beautiful autumn leaves. They’re fit to grace the boulevard of the autumnal Champs-Élysées aren’t they? What a wonderful life it can be if you only look - and look, I found a pocketful of autumn blown into a concrete corner on the tarmac behind the pound shop. Just look at all those colours in a patch of urban wilderness for anyone to see if only we can open our eyes. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Collective noun...

I’ve always loved that collective noun thing when it’s applied to animals; a school of whales, a murder of crows, a parliament of magpies, a congregation of alligators. It all seems a bit random really. There were no whales in class when I was at school, I have no idea why crows should be linked with murder, a parliament of magpies (the thieving kind) seems to make a little sense, and I avoid church as I don’t want to be eaten by religion. Anyway, it got me thinking about what might be the collective noun for everyday things like saucepans and cricket bats and it led me to write this little bit of nonsense.

Collective noun

An outpouring of watering cans,
A snippet of scissors,
A tedium of televisions,
An effervescence of fizzers.

A battery of pancakes,
A scholl of shoes,
A cricket of boxes,
A sniffing of glues.

A monty of pylons,
A tickle of ties,
A number of buses,
A slither of lies.

A band of bandages,
A cradle of caps,
A drizzle of lemons,
A rattle of taps.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Backyard doldrums…

My yard managed to survive us being away in the Caribbean for two weeks, but since returning I really haven’t mustered the enthusiasm to do much with it at all. I have a bad case of the backyard doldrums and the yard’s been allowed to do as it pleases and it pleases to turn into a tangle, plants and runners tumbling and running where they shouldn’t run and tumble. Of course it’s always like this for me at this time of year. The end of the season marks the end of my fanatical meticulousness and I just allow it all to go native.

In some ways that’s good and there are still a few flowers to be seen. But the warm weather has brought about a lushness of leaf that needs to be managed ready for the winter. There’s nothing worse than waking up to an untidy yard over the winter months and the pruning shears will have to take their murderous toll before the bad weather really sets in.

Unfortunately those backyard doldrums are with me and I fuzzily float becalmed hardly bearing to look out of the window and see it in its current state. A good trim, a weed and a sweep is all it really needs. I just need to persuade myself to get on and do it. I know I’ll feel better once it’s done.

Time to get out of the doldrums and get my sorry arse into gear.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Welsh autumn sunset...

A quick trip to Wales this weekend arriving on the Friday just as the light was going. It's October and the trees are still almost completely green, covered in so many leaves this year that the branches seem to be bending under their weight. Maybe it's these last few weeks of sunshine but it seems like summer goes on and on as if standing still. Only of course it won't, a change will come soon. It always does.

In the field across the road from the cottage Saturday evening brought sunshine and a touch of mist. The grasses and rogue barley are tall. They waved in the soft breeze as the sky went from light blue to purple and for a moment I was lost in the tranquility of it all. There is no art like nature and no matter how hard I try I can never capture that experience of it in either words or pictures.

The tranquility didn't stay for long. I was in the moment and then out again thrown between what has been and what is to come. It wasn't the crows flying overhead towards the sun or the noise of the tractor in the late evening field. The sheep were quiet and standing and the cattle were softly munching away on the grass.

Everything was peace. Everything that is except me. It's that time of year. Time is moving on and I can feel a change coming. It won't be long before the grasses in the field are covered in a rime of frost, then snow, torn by the wind and battered by storm. Time is moving on a fraction of a second at a time, fraction on fraction creating eternity.

Sometimes I wish there were no time, just a moment repeated over and over again. A change is coming. I don't like change.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Money for God's sake...

Oh look, I made some art. That’s it in the picture. It took me all of five minutes even with the photographic editing, but I'm sure that you'll agree it's worthy of the Turner Prize. Great isn’t it?

Yes, everything is now officially art according to this year’s Turner Prize. Of course the Prize has been drifting away from what most people consider art for years. But this year they have surpassed themselves and in the process of declaring everything is art, have completely wiped out the value of art. Yes, art is officially Turner Prize dead.

Opera singers, a trendy DIY showroom, a spooky pop-up research library and some old chairs with fur coats hanging from them, are all part of this year’s exhibition which showcases the latest nominees for this prestigious, world famous, art award. So what exactly are they throwing at us this time and telling us that we must see it as art?

1. An ironmogers.
This is the work of an architectural collective – Assemble - who are using the exhibition to launch their own range of for sale home improvement objects, from tiles to doorknobs and fireplaces. They are kind of like a posh B and Q and have some arty friends in high places obviously - interestingly when two of the collective were asked on the ten o’clock news if they were artists they couldn’t give an answer.

2. A bit of a sing-song.
All together now, Janice Kerbel has written an avant-garde, a capella, 24-minute opera, which is going to be performed at regular intervals by six singers hopefully to an enthralled audience. Okay, opera is art I suppose but this is the Turner Prize, not the Classical Music Awards. Would the Classical Music Awards give the award for best operatic performance to a painter? I doubt it, but then I doubt that they would listen to a range of ringing door bells and knockers either.

3. Watching television.
Do not adjust your set because even stranger is the Bonnie Camplin installation. She’s cobbled together a supernatural study centre, which is basically five TV sets showing interviews with people who claim to have had paranormal experiences with aliens and the like. There are also some books, a few leaflets and a photocopier so that the public can photocopy any interesting snippets about close encounters of the third kind and take them back to their Mother Ships.

4. Hanging your coat on the back of a chair.
The final work from Nicole Wermers comes the closest to recognisable art - at least the contemporary nonsense that is labelled art these days. Don’t be fooled though, it’s really ten dining chairs with fur coats hanging from their backs. I know you installation artists out there won’t agree but anyone could bloody do that. And yes, I know that they haven’t, and yes again I understand your argument that it’s all about the process. But everybody knows that’s just self-justifying nonsense.

The Turner Prize seems to have further lost the plot although some would say that it’s great how diverse contemporary art has become. Some would also call this show radically different. Some would claim that it’s great that art can now be made out of anything with anything by anyone, anywhere, anyhow – and indeed that is what one Turner Prize representative has said. But really that is a load of old… (insert your own word here).

Okay, I have to admit to feeling more comfortable with art as sculpture or painting. But I recognise that a lot of other things can also be art – photography, installation, performance. I can even admire the cons and conmen that become part of the art – Warhol, Hirst, Emin and that bloody Duchamp who kicked the whole travesty off. But sadly, it seems to me that art is there more for the artists, critics, dealers, and up their own arse intellectuals than for real people these days and as a consequence art has become ridiculed and lost to real people.

What a great job you’ve done Turner Prize. Now that everything is art, there is no art. You’ve killed it, you murdering bastards.