Spring forward

March 27, 2011

And suddenly it’s not ten o clock. It’s eleven o clock. After many weeks in the wilderness we stumbled across a strange land. A land of evenings that stretch out lazily into the middle distance, of gin and tonic in the afternoon, of going to the beach after work, of hazy twilights at eight or beyond. Me and Alice used to have a countdown, urging the days to hurry on through March until the clocks could go forwards once more. More momentous than any equinox, where time becomes detached from its stakes for a night, exists because of our belief in it, as transient as a pound note. When we were younger we’d spend the easter holidays camped out in Clarence Park every day with rubicon, golden syrup cake and Arthur’s entire music collection. Three weeks of lazy afternoons. In the depths of Finland winter, when Moomintroll believes he is to see the sun for the first time, he ties gold ribbons around his ears to greet the momentary crescent of sunlight over the horizon for a couple of minutes. The time is out of joint. Tie gold ribbons round your ears. British Summer time is here.

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Lucky Seven

March 21, 2011

Lucky Seven

Below the crisp suit there’s cash

The iron sears and flattens fivers

in the pinstripe vanity of Saville row

 

Becloaked, you’re called to the bar

Order-papers clutched in a non-masonic shake

The ball’s in your court

There’s squash in the glass

The bird of paradise comes to pass

 

The flat leather wallet contains plastic loot

The ice cube crackles in the champagne flute

A card slides out and you’re ready to deal

As the steak knife hovers over velvety veal

 

Your phone slides across the table like a chess piece

A Sicilian opening

For frames the size of walls

Lying empty in anticipation

 

The card’s behind the bar and you’re looking for more

Whilst subtitles narrate on News 24

And off for the weekend to the cottage in Devon

In tailored top that screams Lucky Seven

You redefine the D of Q’s

For two thousand and eleven

 

Ballpark! Timeframe! Drawing board! Game plan!

The ceiling’s made of glass and you are my main man

Blue-chip! Stagflate! Shoe-horn! Tea-break!

Let’s get some proper ice cream. I’ll have three flakes.

 

And it’s “Thatcher invented Mr Whippy, you know”

And all this talk of S &M the conversation goes south

“Would have thought it was that chap who died with an orange in his mouth”

And Stuart Lubbock found dead in Barrymore’s pool

And how it was the Kurds who killed Jill Dando

And how Prince Philip can travel through time…

 

… and suddenly he’s here! Prince Philip! The husband of the Queen!

… but he’s wearing a balaclava and he’s looking pretty mean …

… and he’s holding … some kind of shotgun … and through the mask …

… he tells you to get in the car … and it’s some kind of chauffeur driven limousine …

… and you turn and there’s all these bags of salt in the boot and under the salt there’s this guy and he introduces himself as Jason and whilst you’re looking at Jason … Philip, Prince Philip (and you still can’t really believe this) blindfolds you and then you small the sickly scent of chloroform and it reminds you of almonds, no, pear drops, which reminds you of your childhood and you try to struggle but it’s too late.

Writing is a thorny beast. Quite a few years ago now, I’d just finished studying, and moved into a house with the express intention of “writing”. Needless to say, it didn’t really work out that way. Jacob (whose house it was) eventually complained that I’d worn out the chair that I’d been sitting in all those months, and all I had from it was a stack of bad poetry and a load of empty bottles of wine. And Pig Heart Boy, which I can’t even remember writing, but I’m glad I did.

It’s funny what you make time for. Stephen King reckons the reason he ended up becoming a drug addict was because “you can only really write for 2 hours a day”.  Recently, most of the things I’ve written have been scratched out frantically over a quick pint in my lunch hour as I try to find some time to write something down. I’ve never really been of the opinion that you need to spend a lot of time on a piece of writing, honing it, cutting out bits, making it perfect. It’s rare that I’ll return to something at all, unless there’s a really terrible line, or something that repeats something else, or minor grammatical changes. There’s a lot of false starts, pieces that have delightful beginnings but will probably never end up being anything else. I guess this is always the case. But mostly, there’s a heap of things that got started (or just plain finished) and weren’t very good.

And of course I won’t write anything that’s more than about five or six pages long anyway, because I don’t have the attention span. That’s why poetry suits me fine. But still it’s a case of finding the time. Without complaining too much (but complain I shall), working full time can really cramp my chances of getting anything done. To be fair, when I was working part time, I still spent a lot of my days off lying on my face reading trashy thrillers about Nazi sharks. But it’s nice to have the option. It’s hard to get many exciting things done when you spend a massive amount of your awake-time sitting in an office, even if you’re keen on procrastination.

Collaboration is pretty important as well, I think, although really hard to come by. When I was young, me and Nick (my brother) used to sketch out elaborate and radical plots, which I’d then turn into screenplays (well, a couple – they’re a bit too littered with in-jokes to ever really make the silver screen). And for the last three years or so, me and Amy have written all sorts of things together, epic Lynchian melodramas notwithstanding – it’s just nice to have someone else to sketch out the plot with. Actually physically writing with someone else is darn near impossible – and on that note, I’ve never really written anything for anyone else to perform (although I’m quite happy performing other people’s stuff, as long as it’s not rubbish or filthy…). I also really like doing the thing when you’ve got one microphone off the stage switched on and one microphone on the stage switched off and you do each others voices.

But now Amy’s blown town as well, so I’m pretty much on my own, writing-wise – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that ‘things are going to change around here’. Which is partly why I’m trying to take up blogging again, but also try and get my act together, work less, write more, and maybe get on Radio 4. I’ll keep you posted.

EDIT: I can’t work out a way of phrasing this in an even vaguely articulate manner. Such, I guess, is the nature of writing about writing, or rather “bloody poetry about bloody poetry”. I’m trying to write something about inspiration at the moment as well and that’s gone in a very unpredictable and chaotic direction, so I guess this is the prosaic counteraction of that. Shall make it up to you. Promise.

Hey! So, I’m still trying to get to grips with where this blog’s actually going. Back in the mists of time I started out my last blog with a list of three objectives – namely, a “theatre” (?) to record what I was doing whether anyone wanted to read it or not, an archive for my own personal use, and a box of rats. I’m fairly sure it achieved at least two out of these three objectives. I’m pretty much an obsessive archivist a lot of the time, to the extent that I’ve got enormous stashes of bits of paper collected from throughout my life collected together in various places. One day, I’ll buy 50 scrapbooks and put them all in order, hopefully trimming out all the bank statements and other unnecessary ephemera that’s made its way in there.

Anyway, the last blog also turned into a fusion of stream-of-consciousness ramblings about what I’d been up to, mild bitching about how my life wasn’t thrilling enough to warrant having a blog, the occasional poem, and the occasional thing I’d made up. I’m not sure I can make any guarantees that this is going to be any different, but hopefully as long as I can stick to regularly writing stuff on it, it’ll assume a shape of its very own.

Also, when I was writing the other blog I was certainly younger, and by extension probably much more drunk all the time. I’m not sure if that’s a help or a hindrance to documenting one’s life, but it does mean there’s a whole lot more incoherence and ‘wrong bread’ and Tom hacking at the walls of the flat with the axe that we got him for his birthday and sleeping on heaps of rags. Not that there’s necessarily going to be a complete absence of that here.

It’s been quite an eventful weekend. The sort of weekend that was lots of fun, but doesn’t necessarily leave you fresh and refreshed on a Monday morning. On Thursday me and Anna went to the Hove Beer Festival. Last year was chaos. Matt the Cripple showed up all wild eyed and crazy and got thrown out of the Hove Beer Festival within minutes (to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how he ever managed to get in) and then we got into all sorts of hot butter at the Neptune. I thought the manager was trying to choke me but it turned out Matt was just trying to save me by pulling at my scarf. Anyway, more of Matt the Cripple to come. This year was thoroughly civilised (Alistair informs me that the Neptune has since burnt down, but thankfully, I have an alibi) and entertaining in the usual strange way – wandering around the brightly lit Hove Town Hall filled with barrels of ale and real ale entheusiasts, along with a place where you can complete your collection of mid-70’s bar mats and other “breweriana”. The first time I ever went to Hove Beer Festival I nearly got mowed down by a bus on the way home, and then fell asleep in the Evening Star in front of Anna’s spanish friend, Juanma, who is an anglophile and on his first trip to the UK, and was delighted I was living up to the English stereotype of drunks who pass out in pubs by 10.30 in the evening. This time, we leapt on a bus before 10.30 and sailed home in style. Bizarre, but also refreshing!

On Friday, I tried to make the first souffle I’ve ever attempted. Straight out of our 1970’s vegetarian cookbook, and packed full of loads of pulverised parsnips and an incredible quantity of eggs. I’ve been struggling my way through “The Journey” ever since Nicky P gave it to me for Christmas – it’s a hell of a read; almost like Tristram Shandy for the Third Way generation. I showed Alex and Ben the filthy bits, and we drank whisky and talked politics. I can’t work out if I’m mostly into politics because of a deep held belief in equality and fairness and red blooded socialism and the redistribution of wealth, or just because of the gossip. I love the fact that Tony bemoans the gossip as “getting in the way of policy”, whilst writing a thoroughly gossipy tome himself. Lucy can’t believe I haven’t read Cherie’s book yet, but I think that might be one toke over the line. Our new housemate, Emma-Jane, works in a very posh private school, and so we suggested that she could perhaps subtly influence the ‘tories of the future’ by sneaking social democratic messages into their eduction, but it might be a bit tricky.

Saturday was Jacob’s birthday party, which involved dressing up as David Bowie going to a Venetian Masked Ball. I didn’t know that was a thing, but apparently it’s something that David Bowie does. I’m not sure what he looks like when he does it, but I attempted to capture the ambience by back-combing my hair and making a mask out of a strip of red cloth and putting on my silver trousers and then painting my yachting jacket – we used it for the Bad Clown costume when we put on Glue Velvet last year, but it got totally covered in fake blood and thus became useless as a white jacket, so I painted the lapels red but that made it look a bit elvissy so I painted green horizontal stripes on it. I think it looks pretty classy and could possibly be a good addition to my summer wardrobe but Anna reckons it looks like a madman broke onto a yacht and stole a jacket and then went crazy with a load of poster paints. The truth is probably somewhere between the two.

And so after chocolate cornflake cake at Alice’s house for Andy’s birthday surprise (part of the surprise being that his birthday was five days ago) we wandered into town where I caught up with my cousin Adam who was also in town by chance, which was lovely (and we talked about politics – again! Various members of my family actually work in politics, whilst I’m just a bit of an amateur…) and then we went to the party which was great – I had to ditch the mask after a while as I think the eyeholes were slightly too wide, but if I can fix that I reckon that’s also a good summer look. And then George and Matt the Cripple turned up, and Matt was totally wild-eyed and crazy (this is actually a recurring theme for Matt the Cripple) and that was ok once Jacob & Ramona worked out who they were and where the hell they had come from.

Sunday, sunday, sunday. Bed, newspapers, tea, movies. This is where we need to be.

Bonjour!

March 8, 2011

Hello. And welcome to the Daily Whale. Hopefully I’ll get onto Photoshop and make this site look a lot nicer at some point, but nevertheless, here it is. I’ve been meaning to get back into writing a blog for a while now, and it’s been a good four years or so since I’ve blogged anything like regularly. There seem to be a hell of a lot of them out there considering how long it took to find a good name for a blog on wordpress that hadn’t been taken. Anyway. I’m going to try and write on here at least once a week – we shall see. Um, and I guess this blog is going to be about poetry, politics, the book of the film, brighton, animals, bad puns, drunken rants, the wonderful ant, trying to get on Radio 4, being laughed at in the street, damn fine coffee, nostalgia, blu-tac, and a whole host of other things that spring to mind. I’ll do a proper introduction in a bit, but to be honest I can’t imagine many people would end up here who don’t know me already.  Hi guys.