I’ve recently finished reading Will Hutton’s new book, Them and Us, and I think I wrote this in the midst of a macroeconomic reverie. As with pretty much everything else I write, it’s a true story.

 

Why falling in love is like the global financial crisis

 

In some ways its not

This isn’t eyes meeting across the stock exchange floor

A bull and a bear pulling in opposite directions

Coloured jackets thrown aside

As the stock ticker squeals and spills the beans

 

This is trapping the head of the Bank of England

In an office at number eleven

And making him eat curry

Until inflation is pegged

 

This is murders and executions

This is sell, sell, sell

This is the gold standard

Triple A rating

A jab in the ribs with a rolled up copy of the Financial Times

It’s teetering on windowsills

Looking at the bottom line

 

It’s not a cautious editorial in the Observer

Urging enquiry, regulation, a pause

Or Vince Cable nodding

And muttering

I told you so

 

This is a proper run on the banks

We’re using wheelbarrows for currency

Million pound note

Crumpled in my back pocket

 

The stimulus is fiscal!

The easing is quantitative!

This is the G20, baby

The world’s stage

It’s neo-endogenous growth theory

A sublime sub-prime

 

And if things go wrong we’ll go to Geneva

Hole up in a vault with a golden retriever

Or take it easy on an off-shore haven

Just us – in a hut – with my little pet raven

 

We’re rogue trading

We’re short selling

No depression

Just BOOM

And bust

Crashing out of the ERM

And face to face with the hard ECU

 

Galbraith is alright

And Friedman is grand

But beware Adam Smith

And his invisible hand

Picasso Portillo

I’ve been there as well

Met Keynes in an alley

And sure gave him hell

 

There’s a rumour in the market

Hushed whispers

On the shop floor

Recapitalising’s a bit shakey this morning

And the Telegraph’s on the phone

Hammer blows from the green benches

Capital calls

This is too big to fail

We were in freefall

Stagflation beckons

A million workers shouting our names

The last chance saloon

Pick a card

Any card

The FTSE

Didn’t stand a chance

 

Black Sunday

The stockmarkets were falling around us

Green-on-black warnings

Mutely blink on screens

A hundred and twenty five percent of property

Shuddered from wall to wall

Ashen faced fax machine

Heralds the end of the yen

Wall street groans on the radio

We sat

In the leather embrace of the sofa

And waited for the ceiling to fall in

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It hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for Jonathan Djanogly, the Justice Minister, as newspapers have reported that him and his family could profit from proposed changes to legal aid that he was piloting in parliament.

However, that’s not the only thing that’s been taking place Djanogly0wise recently. Last month I wrote on here about Owen Paterson’s remarkably flattering Wikipedia biography, authored by the mysterious “Snowplough11”. It seems quite a bizarre niche to get into writing about – political biographies and their authors on Wikipedia, but hey, someone’s got to do it. It seems that Mr Djanogly is subject to even more mysterious puffery than “8th sexiest MP”, Mr Paterson.

It all started out back in 2009-10, where four separate editors started making edits to the Djanogly article, one of whom was mysteriously called “djanoglyj“, whose principal edit was to remove references to several articles in the Telegraph regarding his expense claims. Other contributors from a similar period included “lizzy silk” (surely no relation to Djanogly’s wife Rebecca Jane Silk!) who also removed a Daily Mail story about expense claims, and two others making minor adjustments. (To be fair, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence these last two are particularly pro-Djanogly in their editing – I’m mostly picking out editors here who seem to have only ever edited the Jonathan Djanogly article on Wikipedia).

Things then pick up again a bit after the emergence of the Legal Aid scandal of September 2011. Two new editors pop up, both of whom seem to have a single interest on Wikipedia – yes, Jonathan Djanogly. The first of these, Stivian, repeatedly removes aspects of Djanogly’s expense claims, as well as allegations that Djanogly hired private detectives to spy on his constituents.  These are rapidly reverted by existing (and long-standing) Wikipedia editors, who warn Stivian for “Disruptive Editing”, at which point a new editor, River19, pops up. Wikipedia editors call out the second account as a “sockpuppet”, allegations which Stivian repeatedly removes. Eventually Stivian admits creating the River19 account in an enlightening dialogue which Stivian later attempts to remove, but not before claiming “you so obviously do not understand properly the changes I have made or indeed know very much at all about the subject of the article outside of what you’ve read in the tabloids.”

The latest discussions on the talk page relate to the Legal Aid changes, and revealingly Stivian claims “I have looked and Djanogly’s business interests are declared and always have been so it would seem unnecessarily punitive to link this story to Djanogly’s article as an encyclopedic portayal of his character”. Unfortunately for Stivian (and Djanogly), it turns out Djanogly’s interests were not always declared. But, more interestingly, how would Stivian know?

As with the Paterson case, there is clearly no reason to assume that any of these editors (despite their unusual choice of names earlier) are actually Mr Djanogly – maybe they’re just fans. But either way, there’s certainly somebody out there determined to put a good amount of effort into making Djanogly’s biography as positive as possible…

Addendum

IP information on Wikipedia can only be viewed by Checkusers, members of the Wikipedia community who have sufficient trust in order to access such sensitive information. Although interestingly, the House of Commons’ IP address is listed as “sensitive due to public relations implications”. The advice is that “these ranges are allocated to major governmental organizations and blocks of these organizations have political and public relations implications that must be managed by the Foundation’s press relations team. Avoid long blocks of these addresses and be especially careful in formulating your block messages because your block message will be seen and commented on by the press.

This may be the case. But if it’s also the case that there are repeated attempts to use multiple accounts to remove damaging information (or introduce complimentary information) from these establishments, one could almost suggest that some kind of checkuser investigation would be neccessary. The initial investigation marked the accounts as “stale”, and indicated that the account carrying out the check “would rather not act on them yet”. Should such a check be carried out, hopefully it would reveal every single account operated from the House of Commons IP. But what are the odds of that happening?

The penultimate post on this blog was a hastily written snippet about all the things I’ve been doing recently. I only really get round to doing things when I’ve got hundreds of deadlines looming on me, and I get a bit wild-eyed and sleep-and-food-deprived and twitchy, like I’ve jabbed myself in the leg with one of those Brazil nut pens. It’s probably not the most efficient way to work, but it suits me quite well. However, I’ve also realised that being really busy can also make you really boring. My friend Seamus is a massive workaholic and we’ve embargoed conversations about how busy we are, because they just descend into “Yeah, I’ve been really busy lately too. Yeah, loads of stuff.”. So, dear reader, I am going to stop moaning about having too much to do and instead tell you about some of it.

I had three gigs in five days, albeit all very different ones. First was Horseplay, hosted and arranged by Jeni Buckley. An ever chaotic mish-mash of music, poetry and stories, with extra screaming pigs. Plus loads of crazy experimental voice poetry. James was all freaking out because he hadn’t slept for 36 hours, but possibly sleep deprivation gave his story, Richey Manic vs Godzilla, that extra unsettling edge. Alice Sharp, a bright young thing on the poetry scene presented a variety of filth and whimsy, and Verity did an incredible cover version of some intense bespectacled university professor reciting a great explosion of words. It’s hard to really describe. I had a go at writing some of this experimental voice poetry (please correct me if I’ve got the genre wrong) – I’m not sure if I really understand it, but it seemed to go down well with those who are into that sort of thing…

click click
beetle carapace
stale fuzz (containing bulb)
the doctor’s got the remote control again
vivid dreams concerning
certain individuals
with over 10,000 edits
on Wikipedia
unfurled coathanger
in each socket of the screen
shirt encases bulge
the missing eye was actually a hard boiled egg
the count of Monte Fisto
horrific documentaries
white shirts dappled in blood
radio alarm
they aren’t marketing this stuff right
What are you frightened of?
B-sides and rarities
a laundrette encounter
you have a lot to answer for
literary Marxist
and your parade of hoffman’s doubles
combed with home counties
royal icing voice

It doesn’t really have a title yet.

On Friday, it was Trailer Trash: David Lynch. This is Rosy’s event that I mentioned earlier. I’d never been to one of their nights before, so I had no idea what to expect – and hoping very much that they could do justice to the great man himself. They did so, and incredibly well – it was a gloriously unsettling evening – Anna got grabbed onto the stage and ironed by a terrifying rabbit, Kitty was chased up a rope by a gas-mask wielding Frank Booth, and it culminated in an incredible group montage filled with saxophones, exploding babies and dead eyes. And poor Laura Palmer, left alone on the stage and wrapped in plastic.  I also got to see Kate’s band, Gin Panic, for the first time, who make incredible fuzzed out uneasy grunge sounds. And I’ve never seen anyone play a guitar with a saw before, either.

At about eleven o clock, I got to premiere my video / story feature, Trapped in an endless cycle of milk consumption. It’s been an exciting but difficult couple of weeks trying to film and write this – it’s not really like anything I’ve done before – a live story in three voices in front of a video of, well, copious milk consumption, and I spent most of Friday finishing off the video and then desperately trying to work out how the hell to get the thing on a DVD. I only had the video finished by 2pm on Friday, so didn’t have a huge amount of time to run through everything with the video, words and audio in one place. I tried it and it was far too short, so I thought – what would David Lynch do? And the answer – slow everything down.

I wasn’t really basing it on any bit of Lynch especially, but trying to create the right atmosphere. I think it worked fairly well, although I’m not sure it’s any more coherent than Inland Empire.

Somebody filmed the whole thing, so (possibly against my better judgement), here’s the video:

On Monday, it was Artists, Models, Ink, which was astounding once again. It’s quite hard to describe exactly what the night is, but essentially it’s a life drawing night arranged by a team of life models, and is in the beautiful surroundings of the Marlborough Theatre – with added sake, performances, music and blood.This time it was themed around the four seasons.

All of the pieces were incredible, but the two which really stuck in my head were Summer, which was a delightfully absurd scene of Georgian decadence, complete with giant wigs, stripey socks, waving legs, and fruit everywhere. It was quite hard to actually draw anything because I was laughing too much. Winter was much darker, and Anna and Johanna peformed a disturbing scene involving blood and antlers and giant metal wings, accompanied by haunting sounds on the cello and saw. It was unique and distressing and utterly brilliant.

I’d been struggling to write something for weeks, and was stuck in a morass, the weight of the dead poets on my back. I was sandwiched between Il miglior fabbro, T. S. Eliot himself, and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s bitterly cynical poem, Spring. In the end, I don’t think I did the subject a fraction of the justice that the Artists, Models, Ink team did, who once again created a night that was something very special, even in the overcrowded bubble of art that is Brighton and Hove.

The poem, Cuckoo, needs a lot of work, but there were a few bits I liked. This is one of them:

Fallen leaves
Like clichés on the breeze
And the first new buds
Submerged golf tees
Nose to the light

Anyway, it’s been a long few weeks – and now the next big project I’ve got coming up is White Night. This is a 13 hour festivalwhite night in Brighton on Saturday 29th October, the day the clocks go back, and it’s always incredible. In the past I’ve stood on a box in a pub whilst being verbally abused by drunken football fans (worst gig ever), set up a self-enclosed stage in the Phoenix Art Gallery for a series of puppet shows, drama, breakcore and mayhem (great gig), and had the evening off last year to wander the town in ill-fitting shoes.

This year I’m going to be doing two gigs – I’m hosting some kind of twisted quiz show in the Dome with the kids from Shambush (who are super-awesome) – that’s from 10pm – 2am (old time). Then it’s off to the Buddhist Centre for James’s Clown Stories at 3am (old time). I’m going to be doing something there, but I’m not allowed to tell you what it is. The other thing I’m definately looking forwards to is the Beatabet Metahub.  As far as I can make out, this is a giant pulsating video-octopus in the middle of Jubilee Square that feeds off video energy from every other White Night event. It might work differently from that. I can’t be sure.

No doubt I’ll have more to write about this in the future, but I’m flagging slightly after such a long blog post. As such, I think it probably ought to finish right about now.

The phenomenon of pigeons wearing a ‘collar of bread’ or ‘bread necklace’ is something that my housemate Jed brought to my attention a couple of years ago. He had seen a pigeon, attempting to eat a whole slice of bread, bite its way through the middle, so the bread slipped around the pigeon’s neck, forming an almost Victorian seeming collar. The pigeon, unable to remove this, would subsequently bob around looking utterly ridiculous, until it could finally free itself from its doughy mantle. Jed didn’t actually witness the removal of the collar, but he surmised that either the pigeon finally managed to tip itself up on end and shake off the collar, or recruit the assistance of fellow pigeons to eat the bread-collar away.

At the time, I collected together a series of pictures from the internet, and I thought I’d link to them there, perhaps creating some kind of avian bread-collar resource in order to share the experience of this intriguing natural phenomenon.
Pigeon w Bread Necklace Pigeon with bread necklaceQueen Pigeon

There are also these ones on Flickr that it won’t let me embed:
oh! oh!, and two videos on Youtube: here. and here.

There’s a feature on the phenomenon in the pigeon blog. It’s even reached the dizzy heights of the Daily Mail, although the writer doesn’t mention whether the pigeon was also stealing our money and taking our jobs.

Finally, although it’s not strictly wearing a collar of bread, I’ve been learning how to edit video recently, and it’s perhaps an appropriate time to introduce my first short film, Pigeon in a Pizza Box.