Sunday, September 28, 2014


So I see a Mr Reckless has defected to UKIP on the eve of the Tory party conference.

Mr Reckless ... the stuff of cheap fiction. Which, of course, it is.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

On the rebound from John Latta's Ashbery post - consolation for my own daily errancy. A couple of weeks ago a student asked: "How many books are you reading?" gesturing to the piles on the various desks behind me plus the several volumes lying next to my cup & register.

I began to explain & realised the further I went the worse it sounded (the old adage of "don't begin a new book until you've finished the one you're currently reading" echoing down the decades). In desperation I tried out the analogy of planes stacked before landing - which is more or less accurate.

That's pretty much how it is - on any given day I have two or three books 'in the air' as, for instance, today: Bunting's Collected, Keith Waldrop's new one (The Now Forever) and Davenport's Geography of the Imagination (for the Ruskin essay). Quite why, I'm not entirely sure: hope that they will kick start some writing? A certain quality in the day? A mood, a scent, an inkling? Or simply the comfort that comes in having some words to hand?

& who knows what the eye might alight on? This, perhaps:

My tongue is a curve in the ear

('Villon', Bunting)

A line that transforms the day.
The walking bug is getting serious. First, the purchase of a new pair of boots a month ago (La Fuma, excellent); today, a rucksack - more accurately what's now called a 'day pack' - (Eastpak Wyoming, dark blue with a leather base, does all I need).

The point being, if I walk up to the Pain Quotidien of a weekend morning I need somewhere to stow the baguette & croissants leaving the hands & arms free. QED.

Casting my mind back, I think the last one I bought was in Bristol c. 1990? These days E. uses it for Scouts.

Do I miss the pool? Sort of. Yet walking offers other pleasures - fresh air, variety (not simply the soles of the feet of the person in front), & a rhythm that seems to fit with the wandering mind.

This morning I see two crows on the pavement fighting over an empty nutshell. Shrieks, wing flapping, pecking. A pointless argument over nothing.

No ... I'll leave it at that.



In the beginning you make a mess but tell everyone you've tidied things up. Years later the mess has got worse so you come back to 'tidy up' and make an even bigger mess. More years go by and the mess has started to spread further and further. Some mess is even turning up on your doorstep which makes it Real Mess. You realise that the people who lived in your mess have now learnt how to make mess of their own and have started exporting it. So you decide to have another go at tidying up except now no one quite believes this will do anything other than make the mess even worse and - more worrying still - who, now, can tell the difference between mess and more mess and even more mess: 'your' mess, 'their' mess, 'our' mess ... ?

"That's a fine mess you've gotten us into, Stanley" as Oliver Hardy used to say.

Bring on the clowns.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The 7:30 am now routine morning walk around the school neighbourhood before shouldering my bag of responsibilities & going in.

Today, turning into the home strait, I see a colleague in the Music Dept., open-necked shirt, smoking a cigarette. I greet him & we shake hands. He explains he's trying to give up the habit - but he likes a smoke while out on a walk. Doesn't make sense, but there it is. He shrugs.

Although I don't smoke, I can understand his dilemma. We talk about the pleasures of an early morning stroll - the houses still more or less asleep, the bird song, the fresh chill to the air.

I explain that I walk my dog - at which he nods & looks around. The joke is, of course, I have no dog. Then the penny drops & he laughs.

I begin to head back towards my car. "Our secret" I say conspiratorially, looking over my shoulder. He nods & drags again on his cigarette.

As I walk to the car I'm thinking about this strange 'brotherhood' (sisterhood, too, is possible but I haven't yet encountered any women) drawn by the morning. What compels us to find this little space (a mere 10 ... 15 ... 20 minutes or so)? To think, to wander, to 'commune' with the spirits of the air - or simply to prove we're not completely at the mercy of someone else's schedule?

Whatever it is, it does me a power of good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

... try as I might, I can find very few arguments as to why Scotland would want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The very sight of Cameron, Milliband & Clegg crossing the border would be reason enough to say 'get lost!'

If Scotland does break away, I wonder whether the Flemish community here might see it as a kind of precedent. & that scenario is another story ...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Here's a thought ... has anyone heard - concerning the Scottish Referendum - any arguments other than financial/ consitutional?

Reading the current LRB there are some very interesting questions raised as to what nationhood really means in the current world. Global business has, effectively, destroyed any true frontiers. The perilous state of - say - Irish, Greek & Italian economies mean that any sense of patriotism is severed from your currency. So what is left ...? (A beer, a flag, a costume?) What about a culture, a literature, a sense of shared belonging?

The weighing in of Big Business (banks, companies, entrepreneurs etc.) merely confirms the shift of power. Am I alone in thinking that whatever the vote - a Yes or No - it will (really & truly) change nothing for the real stakes have shifted elsewhere.

The old joke - what does a Scotsman wear under his kilt? Zizek would no doubt take this as emblematic of the current situation: the frisson of obscenity in the unveiling of the true mechanics of politics. The true obscenity is that we knew all along & were able to simulate scandal.

In other words a load of bollocks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"It’s going to be a terribly artificial book" says the agent for Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins concerning the forthcoming unauthorised biography of the two Bake Off presenters.

What else could one expect?



"Music is a sacrament" - yes, yet another fatuous statement by the U2 front man Bono (said in the same breath as he argues music is not for free).

As if he'd know anything a) about music & b) sacraments. Another example of crass rock star speak, mouthing & thereby debasing values that certain people take very seriously indeed.

Today I am one of the 'lucky ones' to receive - at no direct financial cost - the new U2 album in my iTunes library. Such flagrant marketing disgusts me as well as the invasion of basic privacy. What presumption that I would want to listen to this.

I loathe U2 & Bono in particular (the affected shades, the tax evasion, the handbag ads, the puffed up stadium rock, the sense of entitlement to voice his opinions on behalf of The Adoring World ... ). Why would I want to have one byte of their music occupying space in my iPod? What next? Are we now to accept that Apple will deposit material (audio, verbal or other) in our computers? This is a distinctly worrying new trend (think politics, think religion, think ...).

Where to find some digital disinfectant ...





Then ... Monday evening ... . . . Dweezil Zappa at the Bozar . A really impressive performance - two hour...