Sunday, January 31, 2010




This will be going out to the usual subscribers.

(More details on the Sticky Pages site).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Oolong

Walked through the wood. Return of a gloomy red. The crescent moon, Jupiter, and Venus. Cheerless & gloomy. A miserable afternoon.

Lapsang

A very wet morning. Heard a strange cry. The Nightingale. Threatening. Been digging in my absence.

Assam

The primroses are passing their prime. Stars grew or diminished as they passed. I bought a pair of scissors. The anemone, scentless. Stones as upon a pillow for weariness & the rest.

Darjeeling

I do believe a thousand buds. Rather be in hell than be pressed. L. called. Thick round & double, & smelt. Hung loosely about & bore. I was melancholy & could not talk. Now spreads yellow.


There's been a request for that list. So ...

1. Mulholland Drive, Lynch, 2001
2. Elephant, Van Sant, 2003
3. Tropical Malady, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004
4. The Host, Jon-ho, 2006
5. A History of Violence, Cronenberg, 2005
6. La Graine et le Mulet, Kechiche, 2007
7. A L'ouest des rails, Wang Bing, 2002
8. War of the Worlds, Spielberg, 2005
9. The New World, Malick, 2005
10. Ten, Kiarostami, 2001

(The 10 best films of the past decade - according to Cahiers du Cinema).

Thursday, January 28, 2010



Case Sensitive by Kate Greenstreet arrived yesterday. I read the first section sitting in the vet's waiting room with two dogs and a rabbit. I don't like dogs. Or rabbits much for that matter.

A good opportunity to acknowledge the debt this Blog owes to KG's (now discontinued) every other day. Her layout, combination of word and image, dailiness (sort of) ... well, it set an example.

Lovely book, too.
Fine weather. The long long distance as bright and as clear as. The blue sky above them.

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Determined.

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300 euros to repair the car. Feeling unsmug.

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13 of our neighbours to tea.

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We buttoned ourselves up.

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Wrote to A.

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Wrote to C.

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Unusual softness in the prospects.

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Extremely slippery underfoot. Hail showers.

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Drank tea at home.

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Wrote to M.

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The peas are beaten down.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Hanging around at the station yesterday lunchtime, I buy a copy of Cahiers du Cinema. An issue devoted to the best films of the past ten years. I'm concerned to find that I'd not seen one of the ten listed and several titles I didn't even recognise. Concerned? Appalled ... embarrassed ... old ... . Twenty years ago I felt I was 'in touch' with cinema. What's happened?

Mulholland Drive is first on the list.
17.

For the sake of the farbung and of the scent and and of the holidrops. Amems.

18.

So come on, ye wealthy gentrymen wibfrufrocksful of fun! Thin! Thin! Thej olly and thel ively, thou billy with thee coo, for to jog a jig of crispness nice and sing a missal too.

19.

As shiver as shower can be.

20.

The mything smile of me, my wholesole assumption, shes nowt mewithout as weam twin herewithin, that I love like myselfish, like smithereen robinsongs, like juneses nutslost, like the blue of the sky if I stoop for to spy's between my whiteyoumightcalllimbs.

21.

Lonedom's breach lay foulend up uncouth not to be brooched by punns and reedles.

22.

But low, boys, low, he rises, shivering, with his spittyful eyes and his whoozebecome woice.

23.

Collosul rhodomantic not wert one bronze lie Scholarina say as he, greyed vike cuddlepuller walk in her sleep his pig indicks weg femtyfem funts. Of so little is her timentrousnest great for greeting his immensesness. Sutt soonas sett they were, her uyes as his auroholes.






A bit hit and miss. The general idea of working in sequence as a concertina volume is worth pursuing, though.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Salt Companion to Bill Griffiths arrives today.

I'd like to read it tonight but will be otherwise engaged. More's the pity.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Catching up on the past month or so's NYRB that we get in the library.

Articles on Sarah Palin, Francis Bacon, the Jane Campion film on Keats among others.

Suspicion that I'm the only person who reads it. But maybe that's justification enough.

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Haircut. And subsequent lightheadedness. The world acquires a new clarity.

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Slice leeks finely; sauté with garlic. Add spinach leaves to wilt plus creme fraiche. Toss in pasta and crumble stilton (or other cheese).

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Beginning to think I should start to compose recipe poems - or at least work something together. (Diane diPrima?)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eleven texts in the second series of Morse Solids. That's not one a day but more or less one every two days. The routine is to assemble lines, type up, then compose, leave alone, jiggle and fidget, print off. If it doesn't come, it doesn't come. If it's getting too self-conscious, I let alone. Look ahead to the next one rather than become anxious about what's behind. I'm going to see if I can push this through to the end of the month. That'll be the time to take stock.

Googling the other day, I was astonished to find that there is an actual scientific term - Morse Solids.

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A few days' pages of Finnegans Wake to catch up on.

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Grilled salmon on top of yesterday's leftover lentils with bacon. Olive oil, flat-leaf parsley, garlic and lemon dressing. As simple as that.

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"Monkey pants" - the current catchphrase from the Clarice Bean CD. Up to Chapter Five of David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress.

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Have to explain to a class that "you knocked up Mrs Hudson" does not mean what they think in The Speckled Band.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010



Today I Wrote Nothing arrived yesterday - a title which will resonate all too loudly with readers of the Blog. (Actually, January hasn't been so bad - so far ...).

Here's one from The Blue Notebook to goad one into action:

25.

Enough of laziness and doing nothing! Open the notebook every day and write down half a page at the very least. If you have nothing to write down, then at least, following Gogol's advice, write down that today there's nothing to write. Always write with attention and look on writing as a holiday.

Monday, January 18, 2010

As a teacher myself the awkwardness I feel as one among a group of parents at an after school event. Awkwardness? Sympathy? Apologetic? Or simply wishing to be elsewhere.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

10.

He take skiff come first dagrene day overwide tumbler, rough and dark, till when bow of the shower show of the bower with three shirts and a wind ...

11.

He would jused sit it all write down just as he would jused set it all up writhefully rate in blotch and void, yielding to no man in hymns ignorance seeing how heartsilly sorey he was ...

12.

eggspilled him out of his homety dometry narrowknee domum (osco de basco de pesco de bisco!) because all his creature comfort was an omulette finas erbas in an ark finis orbe and, no master how mustered, mind never mend ...

13.

Like gnawthing unheardth!

14.

For directly with his whoop, stop and an upalepsy didando a tishy, in appreciable less time than it takes a glaciator to submerger an Atlangthis, was he again, agob, before the trembly ones, a spark's gap off, doubledasguesched, gotten orlop in a simplasailormade and shaking the storm out of his hiccups.

15.

For a haunting way will go and you need not make your mow. Find the frenge for frocks and translace it into shocks of such as touch with show and show.

16.

We know you like Latin with essies impures, (and your liber as they sea) we certney like gurgles love the nargleygargley so, arrahbeejee, tell that old frankay boyuk to bellows upthe tombucky in his tumtum argan and give us a gust of his gushy old. Goof!

Saturday, January 16, 2010



A Mr. J Cornell of Utopia Parkway supplies the correct answer to yesterday's quiz.
Go for a swim this morning and immediately feel a billion times better. Recently it's been difficult to summon the energy and enthusiasm: snow, black ice on the roads, a cold. And, in the lead up to Christmas the pool was closed for repairs.

As I do my lengths I can't help thinking of analogies with writing. That simply making the effort is worth it. You do your lengths - like a line - allowing a rhythm to take over. The first two lengths come easy. The next few are tougher. By number eight it's coming more easily - you're in 'the zone' and a different kind of thinking and feeling is taking over.

Leaving the pool you feel limber, the air comes clean in your nostrils. Even though it is still January there is light over the rooftops. Fresh bread for breakfast.

Creeley speaks of writing and swimming (I've finally tracked down the notebook where I've stuck the quote on the front):

"I love the story of Neal Cassidy writing on the bus with Ken Kesey, simply tossing the pages out of the window as he finished each one. "I wonder if it was any good," I can hear someone saying. Did you ever go swimming without a place you were necessarily swimming to - the dock, say, or the lighthouse, the moored boat, the drowning woman? Did you always swim well, enter the water cleanly, proceed with efficient strokes and a steady flutter kick? I wonder if this "good poem" business is finally some echo of trying to get mother to pay attention."

Coincidentally, last week there was a woman on Radio 4 talking about open air swimming in the rivers and seas around England. It's one of a series - Something Understood - which can be a bit hit and miss but usually throws up something of interest. One of her theories was that committing yourself to the water was a re-enactment of more unconscious 'lettings-go' (birth trauma, surrendering rational control, etc.). She might be right. Certainly with my poor eyesight, even before I hit the water I'm pretty disoriented. Friends can be waving two lanes away and all I see are blurs.

Here's the link for the programme - it'll be available until tomorrow:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00pn3zx

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Terrific as it is to have the Bil Griffiths Collected, I can't help regret the loss of the original look of the page, the feel of the volume. A History of the Solar System: Fragments of A History of the Solar System is a case in point. I love the small sewn green volume having read it in The Poetry Library a year or so ago. However, as so often happens, what do I chance upon but the MimeoMimeo site - http://mimeomimeo.blogspot.com/ - where the original has been reproduced! That's as near as I'm going to get. I hope they won't mind me pasting one page in here ...



This time of reading it dawns on me how Griffiths is weaving in the solfege system via syllabic underlinings. Highly recommended!

Friday, January 15, 2010

'How to Marry a Millionaire' on DVD. One of those after dinner questions - which one (of the women) would you marry?

And the correct answer is: .......................

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The thaw begins.

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Today's post brings the Bill Griffiths Collected and the latest issue of Fence.

Plenty to read - above and beyond what's already on the go.

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A package I'd sent to the States before Christmas arrives today - postmarked 17 December.

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Show E. how to draw with perspective while feeling a gnawing sense of reluctance. She draws so well without such rules.

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Throw tagliatelle into a prawn stock and steam a handful of mussels on top. Brasserie food as Rick Stein would say. And pretty damn good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The contents of yesterday's package




The CD




The volume Landings




and Typography of the Shore




What a start to the New Year!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Package arrives from Richard Skelton.

I'm just about to listen to the CD.

(I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

From a Belgianwaffle Special Correspondent in the U.K. I pass on the following update to yesterday's post:

The Observer yesterday referred to the author of The Rough Guide to Sex as "Oxford-educated stud-muffin James McConnachie..."

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Apologies to the people who have sent comments recently. I've just discovered they're waiting for me to accept. The rigorous new setting I put in place to stop my fiendish Chinese spammer seems to require this editorial intervention. (I should be so lucky to get comments!)

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Take the Wafflettes in this morning - "une journee pedagogique" at their school - and drive back after lunch. Since then I've written three references. That's pretty good going. There is absolutely no doubt that I work more productively at home. I always thought that I could go back to the life of a free-lance if - and it is a big IF - I had people and a structure around me. Whereas the bachelor years of the mid-to-late 80s were unmitigated misery. Why, in fact, I turned to teaching only to find the balance tips the other way. Certainly the idea of a three-day-week has its charms. Then I could get some real work done ...

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According to today's Independent, Lewis Hamilton and Pussycat Doll have split. Needless to say, I'm well gutted by this news.

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On to the London phase of the Jarrett Testament album. I might even try a bit of music criticism for the Paris section.

Sunday, January 10, 2010



Bit of Crumpet or Muffin the Mule?

The muffin man is seated at the table in the laboratory of the Utility Muffin Research kitchen. Reaching for an oversized chrome spoon he gathers an intimate quantity of dried muffin remnants and brushing his scapular aside procceds to dump these inside of his shirt...

He turns to us and speaks:

Some people like cupcakes better. I, for one, care less for them!

Arrogantly twisting the sterile canvas snoot of a fully charged icing anointment utensil he poots forths a quarter-ounce green rosette (oh ah yuk yuk... lets try that again...!) he poots forth a quarter-ounce green rosette near the summit of a dense but radiant muffin of his own design.

Later he says:

Some people... some people like cupcakes exclusively, while myself, I say there is naught nor ought there be nothing so exalted on the face of God's grey earth as that prince of foods... the muffin!

Girl you thought he was a man
But he was a muffin
He hung around till you found
That he didn't know nuthin

Girl you thought he was a man
But he only was a-puffin
No cries is heard in the night
As a result of him stuffin


('The Muffin Man' - off Bongo Fury by Frank Zappa)

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Why a post about muffins and crumpets? Since we're entering that time of year when I have to explain to many of my 11th Grade students (by way of preliminaries for Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest) the niceties of English Victorian high tea and what we* mean by muffins and why a muffin isn't a crumpet and what a bit of crumpet might be on the side. And, it just so happens, Geof Huth wasn't quite sure crumpets really existed - at least outside of Enid Blyton stories.

So, for me a muffin is more 'bready' where the crumpet is more 'spongey'. On balance I prefer the crumpet to the muffin - those little holes allow the butter etc. to permeate more effectively (peanut butter & Marmite are my preferred option).

Go to cafes in the UK these days and a muffin has been supplanted by the American version - chocolate, chocolate chip, blueberry etc.. And very nice too - I am happy to embrace both varieties.



Finally, on a point of disambiguation (as Wikipedia would say) "crumpet" can also refer to an attractive young lady/ sex itself (the kind of phrase Sid James would come out with in Carry On films - "Fancy a bit of crumpet me love?"







(The aptly named Joan Bakewell - often referred to as the 'Thinking Man's Crumpet'.)

I hope this clarifies the matter.

Next: do you say scone or scone? And which way to pass the ketchup bottle at High Table.

__

* i.e. English chaps brought up on crumpets and muffins toasted before roaring electric fires in cruddy bedsits.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Introducing:

Fun Again's Work or ...

Find A Gem's Week or ...

Reading Finnegans Wake at the rate of a Page a Day (what a diary that would be!).

As the idea only occurred to me last weekend and January began on a Friday these quotations are not exactly a week's worth. But you get the idea. Will I have the time, the patience and the discipline to maintain this project? We will see. Anyway, here are some lines that have caught my eye (and ear). Lines that have that energy and delight and surprise.

It's an exercise in leisure: the sort of reading that earnest undergraduate study disallowed. Time regained as one acknowledges it's passing.

And I might as well admit right now - for every one there are hundreds more. Tug one thread and the whole fabric begins to stir. That's the way this book works. (And don't Spellcheck programmes hate Joyce!)

1.

Every evening at lighting up o'clock sharp

2.

the whirl, the flash and the trouble

3.

Tree taken for grafted.

4.

Melodiotiosties in purefusion by the score

5.

Mirrylamb, she was shuffering all the diseasinesses of the unherd of.

6.

With that hehry antlets on him and the bauble-light bulching out of his sockets whiling away she sprankled his allover with her noces of interregnation: How do you do that lack of a lock and pass the poker, please?

7.

All's rice with their whorl!

8.

Still we know how Day the Dyer works, in dims and deeps and dusks and darks.

9.

while there's leaf there's hope

...




Another case of Chinese spam has been delivered. Ho Wat Phun indeed.

I've reset the Comments settings so that might nip things in the bud.

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Tiny snow flakes falling as I go out to buy bread at 7:45 a.m.. By 9 a.m. it's coming down quite thickly.

Apparently if you're farming blackcurrants this is the ideal weather. Which just goes to show.

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More vats of soup to prepare. Then hibernation.

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Hip it and trip it and chirrub and sing.




Friday, January 08, 2010

Order the new Bill Griffiths collected from Alan Halsey - he confirms that it includes 'A History of the Solar System' (a text which fascinated and puzzled me when I first read it in the Poetry Library a couple of years ago). One of those rare editions I've searched for but to no avail.

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Snow forecast. Bitterly cold winds.

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Sore throat. That feeling of an impending cold.

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Leave work early. One of those days to pick up the kids, get home, make tea and crumpets and batten down the hatches.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Occasion for celebration: Jonathan Ross announces his departure from the BBC.

Now, if only Jeremy Clarkson would follow his example ...

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Morse Solids continues. Today's poem suddenly takes shape mid-afternoon. Whereas yesterday nothing seemed to gel. I'm beginning to learn when to persist and when to let alone.

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Stocking up for Saturday - heavy snow is forecast.

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Resume the Jarrett. This morning, track 5 of the Paris Concert. The series as a whole seems to move between discordant fragmented sequences with sudden 'clarifications' (today, what seems to be buried 'allusions' to a jazz favourite - 'Blame It On My Youth'? This is where my musical ear raises a white flag). In addition, listening in the car means that I miss certain passages, press replay, then find I've lost them again due to the traffic, upcoming roundabout, patch of ice. However, it's a routine and a discipline.

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Pork and lentils.



Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Search everywhere for the title and author of a book I remember seeing in the LRB bookshop some months ago, hesitated to buy and now, for reasons that elude me, I must have.

At one point I even consider phoning the LRB - but how could I begin to describe the volume?

Then, I remember, I'd scribbled the details on the back of an old receipt. Would I be able to find it?

Miraculously, there it was among all the recent discarded bits of paper from my wallet.

The book? Ironically enough: I Wrote Nothing Today by Daniil Kharms.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Paris part II. The movements fit perfectly into the morning/afternoon trip. Being preoccupied with the traffic flow allows the music to work subliminally into the nervous system. Listening as not-listening as listening. The shape emerges. A journey within a journey.

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Morse Solids continues. A daily discipline? Source text. Write. Print off. Revise and tighten. Set aside. Just keep it going and see what patterns and themes declare themselves.

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Fish soup. My new chum at the supermarket chops up and fillets with care the cod cheeks, red mullet, and some other bits of cheap fish. Then bundles up with a smile a handful of clams - "un cadeau". There'll be more than enough for two dinners. I tell him I'll let him know how it goes.

Back home, I make the basic stock with leek, onion, celery, carrot, parsley, tomato, garlic, saffron, white wine and water (30 mins or so). Then pulverise and strain. Finally, add in the morsels of fish and clams (5 mins.). I serve it with bread and a South African white.

It's out of this world good.

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The previous night's murderous dreams include Rod Stewart reading a magazine in a deck chair.

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Heavy snow predicted for SE England. Once again I feel torn. Rightly-here-but-ought-to-be-there.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Teaching resumes.

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Resume Morse Solids.

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A series of reading projects:

i. Finnegans Wake as a page per day. Starting in Part Two.

ii. Samuel Johnson (The Essays, Dictionary, etc.).

The epitome of 18th C linguistic propriety and restraint set against 20th C polysemy and verbal promiscuity.

Thinking about the sentence.

More to follow.

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A series of listening projects:

i. Keith Jarrett solo recordings. As today, driving gingerly through the snow and ice to Part I of the Paris Concert.

Thinking about the nature of improvisation. The relation of parts to the whole. Motif and development.

Others to follow.

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Daily pages.

Today, writing parallel to the Creative Writing students. If nothing more than a daily practice. A showing up to the page.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

With an uncanny sense of symmetry the holidays end as they began: peering out through the bedroom curtains at 5 a.m. I see that snow has fallen. Again.

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Listen to the Paris concert I-VIII.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

This week's listening:

Keith Jarrett, Testament (Paris/London)

Jonathan Harvey, Complete String Quartets & Trio

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Still trying to work out what I make of Where The Wild Things Are

Friday, January 01, 2010

A mere five minutes into the New Year and L's tooth pops out.

Tooth thousand and ten.

Happy new ears, as always.

Just watching the footage on Belgian television of a helicopter circling overhead, troops deployed in the streets, festoons of barbed wire, ...