March 28, 2012

politics your baying is unmistakable

politics the right honourable gentleman

politics my right honourable friends

politics the leader of the opposition must be heard

politics wrapped in a bedsheet

politics our brave soldiers

politics hard working families

politics tired and emotional

politics intensely relaxed

politics there is no money left

politics I’m hanging on every word


in cubicle

with fat stub of pencil in fist

x marks the spot

in parody of signature


for the next five years


as the surgeon’s stiletto

gouges manifestos

in darting search

for incidences of the word “fair”


on parade

the four letter word

becomes meaningless


politics your minutiae hold me like a wayward octopus on my face

politics I know how long it takes ed miliband to solve a rubiks cube

politics some of my best friends are local councillors

politics you’re actively tipping me towards the poverty line

politics you owe me a new notebook

politics I’ve seen michael gove falling over and still I want more

politics I’ve seen the strangers bar and the garden girls

politics you’re weighing down my bookshelves

politics some of my worst enemies are local councillors

politics you’ve reduced our poet laurate to chanting your name


I’m with you in wapping

bursting picket lines with page 3 girls poised atop vintage tanks

I’m with you in Whitehall

scuttling past statues to carve out policy on chesterfield

I’m with you in Millbank

sliding doors like glass eyelids reveal machinations beneath

I’m with you in south shields

in hendon

in burnley

in constituency office pressing palms with promises

I’m with you in darkened rooms

upon ancient desks

overlooked by the art collection

and the faces of the past

I’m with you in commons

mace like an unsheathed sword between us on the mattress


politics get on your bike

politics pebbledashed in ermine

politics john prescott helping you move house and finding your kink box

politics from THE REAL 99%

politics no, simon, no!

politics the brussels gravy train

politics up yours, delors

politics kill an argie and win a metro

politics piers morgan

politics dancing on ice

politics if not now, when?

politics IPSO-MORI

politics it was the sun wot won it

politics turn out the lights

politics gotcha

politics show us you care

politics clutching a banana

politics president tony blair

politics people’s princess

politics there is no alternative


you bastard

I’m through

*     *      *      *      *

I’ve always been a bit unsure about Ginsberg. Always thought he was a bit lazy.  I guess it takes one to know one. But on Janurary 1st this year I went to a group reading of Howl. I think he works a lot better when read out. Although I’ve listened to him reading Howl on spotify and am not quite sure. But then it’s often a bit of a disappointment listening to poets reading their own poems. Anyway, I thought I’d give it a go regardless. So this is my own slightly lazy attempt to parody Ginsberg, and there only was going to be one subject I’d approach. I quite like the result, but in some ways, this is the sort of thing you could carry on forever.

I have made a new short film. It is called Melanie Phillips Snowglobe. It features the amazing Melanie Phillips Snowglobe that Lucy got me for Christmas.

old favourite

March 7, 2012


This poem is going to save the world tonight.

This poem is going to show you

How corrupt

Those who lead us are.

This poem is going to reveal their lies

This phony war

Exposed before your very eyes

And on those eyes

As we tread the road to Damascus

Lie scales.

But the scales fall from your eyes

As the terrible truth is revealed.


They lie to us!

The poem announces;

Hush! Be quiet!

Words like that could start a revolution.


The atmosphere was electric

The focal point of every eye

As I shout out

For all to hear

War is wrong! Politicians lie!


The audience were astounded;

Around me

At a poetry night

In Brighton

Something beautiful took place;


The Brighton poetry lovers

Cast aside their right wing opinions

Like the Daily Express

Folded and left on a train.


Meanwhile, in Parliament…

His glass eye washed in saline

His expression was a frown

And an awful revelation

Occured to Gordon Brown;


“Wait! Stop!

Pause the satanic mills!

For a poet down in Brighton

Has an issue with the ills

That we bring to society

It’s time we have a change!

I know we’re making money

And life is pretty good

But the way we go about it

Just isn’t how we should.”


It was a humbled Gordon

Lowering red briefcase in shame

And the tongues in the House of Commons

Were ringing with my name;


“The words of this poet in Brighton

Have cut straight through our lies

The proletariat are revolting!

The scales are leaving their eyes!”


Like ‘Global Justice Now!’

Penned in aerosol

This poem has converted the preached-to


It’s big, it’s clever

It couldn’t be much bolder

And good reviews are swarming in

Like bees on a record holder.


Swords are just used to cut ploughmans

The tanks just hold water now

And what once was a millitary base

Is a field with a well-fed cow


A spark of optimism

Twinkles in every eye

And above all the buildings

We see the red banners fly


All it took

Was this truth seldom spoke

War is wrong. Politicians lie.

*     *     *     *     *

I wrote this about five years ago.  It’s my first ever political poem, and I wrote it after going to one too many poetry nights and hearing people reading poems about politics. At the time I didn’t really know a way of writing poetry about politics other than going on about fighting the power. And please don’t get me wrong here, I’m totally all about fighting the power and social justice and all that. I’m just not that interested in poetry about how Tony Blair is a liar and George Bush is a right bastard.

There seems to be a lot less political poetry about these days, at least in what I’ve seen recently – I wrote this a few months before Gordy became PM (and thought it would be prescient to future-date it. That and at the time I was really into glass eyes.) I’m not sure if it’s because war inspired people to write political poetry more than social injustice would. Or that social injustice and “the cuts” are a more complex issue (and a less visually dramatic issue), so it’s hard to write something simplistic about it.  So there are less poems, but ultimately more thoughtful ones.

I realise this is mostly a set of sweeping generalisations. There are undoubtably some very good political poems, and I’d hate to tar the genre with one brush. It’s important to say something and to point out injustice if it’s taking place, but if you want your message to be seen as anything vaguely important, (and even then, don’t count on it) you’ve got to say something interesting. And please, don’t tell people what to think. It always reminds me of The Guardian encouraging its readers to write to swing voters in Florida during the 2004 presidential election, urging voters not to re-elect George Bush. The Florida residents, furious at being patronised by a bunch of lefty brits, subsequently voted Republican with a greater majority than four years ago. Telling people what they think or what they ought to do is

These days, I write about politics (or newspapers) all the time, and I don’t by any stretch of the imagination recommend it. Personally, I’m completely obsessed with the minutiae of politics – Thatcher eating 24 eggs a week, Charles Kennedy smoking on a train, Ed Miliband solving rubiks cubes, etc, and unless re-reading Alistair Campbell’s diaries is your idea of fun, it’s not a path for all to follow.

Poetry and politics are both endlessly self-referential. Just as every poet is weighed down by the dead poets on their back, every politician carries a folder of headlines and soundbites of the past wherever they go.  Cliches are endlessly re-worked in speeches in a parade of Westminster in-jokes.

They’re also both universally ignored by a large portion of the population. But the crucial difference is that politics directly affects pretty much everyone, whilst poetry sadly doesn’t. It’s important to be interested in politics, it’s nice to be interested in poetry.

I’m not entirely sure where this meander is going. Personally, I’ve got fairly strong political views, but I can’t find a satisfactory way to put them in a poem without straying into didacticism. I’ve felt much more comfortable about writing about politics lately, and I’m cautiously optimistic about the benefits of doing so, as long as it’s done well. Just don’t expect anyone to change their mind.

Fog and moonshine

February 26, 2012

“Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog,” said Holmes, laughing.

– The Boscombe Valley Mystery

I’m afraid to say that I haven’t written very much on here in a fairly long time – things have been incredibly busy, and although I can’t say they’re going to get any less busy, hopefully I’ll have some more things to write on here, and will eventually get round to summarising December – February at some point.

In the meantime, and partly as an upshot of the aforementioned busyness, I’m delighted to announce that I have no fewer than seven gigs coming up in the next couple of months or so, and I thought I’d put them on here so that you guys have absolutely no excuse not to come along, whoop, cheer, and generally watch me ranting poetry into a microphone. So here goes. These are all in Brighton unless otherwise stated. Yes!

Sunday 4th March – Voicebox – The Blind Tiger Club

I bumped into Luska at the Brighton Fringe launch and she asked me to come down and read some poems at Voicebox. It’s an open mic night with longer sets from selected special guests – I’ve not been to this night before, but if it’s anything like Floetics (Luska’s previous night) it should be filled with poetry, music and colouring in.

£3 to get in – here’s the event page.

Monday 5th March – Something Wholly Inappropriate – The Earth and Stars

This is the first anniversary of SWI, which is the creation of the incredibly talented Alice Sharp and her creepy sidekick Dr. Bongo. I’ve performed at this night a few times in the past, and it’s a gloriously lo-fi mix of poetry, comedy, music and obscenity.

Free! Event page here.

Saturday 31st March – Hammer and Tongue National Final – Wilton’s Music Hall, London

Heading up to the Big Smoke for my second ever poetry gig up there, and this looks set to be a ridiculous poetry all-dayer courtesy of Hammer and Tongue. In the afternoon, I’m representing Brighton in the regional slam, and then in the evening I’m taking on about 18 others to battle for the title of Best Poet in the UK (or something like that). Come along if you love competitive poetry despite the delightful absurdity of it.

All sorts of different prices. Event page here.

Friday 4th May – Professor Elemental’s Great and Secret Show – The Marlborough Theatre

Professor Elemental – explorer, gentleman, favourite hip-hop MC of the Daily Telegraph and tea drinker has invited me along as a special guest to one of his plethora of shows at Brighton Fringe. He’s been doing all sorts of exciting things lately including running into the sea in order to start some kind of TV show about his adventures. I don’t really understand what’s going on, but you can read more here…

Meanwhile, you should come to the show. It will be excellent.

£8.50 / £6.50.  Brighton Fringe listing here.

Wednesday 9th May – Fashion Tips for the Last Days – The Blind Tiger Club

This is it! This is the big one! I’m going to be launching my second collection of poetry, Fashion Tips for the Last Days, and in order to celebrate this occasion I’m putting on a very special event at the Blind Tiger, featuring lots of my stuff (mostly poetry, but with a few surprises) and some very special guests. More information to follow – not only is this your first chance to get a copy of the book, but it should be an unforgettable evening as well. Hopefully.

£3. Brighton Fringe listing here. Look at that lovely tapir!

Thursday 10th May – Grit Lit – Redroaster Coffee House

I’m not entirely sure about the wisdom of doing this the day after my book launch, but if you’re up for watching a hungover poet have a coughing fit on stage, this could be the show you’re looking for! Seriously, this is a well respected literature night, so I’m not entirely sure what they were thinking booking me, but it should be very enjoyable nonetheless. And it features damn fine coffee, so I might be able to shake off that hangover after all.

£5. Grit Lit website here.

Monday 21st May – Verse or Versus – Hendrick’s Unusually Strange Cabin Full of Seals

Or something like that. I’m hosting this poetry slam in the Hendrick’s library (the carriage fell apart), and my only regret is that I’m not allowed to enter, as that £100 prize would come in very handy. But you’ll get a free gin and tonic, and get to watch some incredible competitive poetry, all ably hosted by my good self. What’s not to like?

£5. Brighton Fringe listing here.

And that’s about it at the time being. Having booked a date for the book launch, I’ve now actually got to get round to finishing the book in time for it. I do actually have lots of other interesting things that I’m sure I should be writing about, but it’s a lovely sunny spring afternoon, and so I’m sure they can wait a couple of days. But I’m very excited about all these events in the pipeline, and I hope to see you (dear reader) at one or more of them at some point soon!

poetry brothels

January 10, 2012

original promo photograph

Back in 2007, me and Jimmy set up the world’s first ever Poetry Brothel.  It actually probably started in October 2006 after a mid-afternoon drunken conversation outside The Windmill in Brighton, and somehow (unlike hundreds of other similar ideas) we actually registered the event in the Brighton Fringe and did it. We spent a couple of days turning Jimmy’s house into a den of iniquity (not the most difficult thing in the world), got a few poets to come round, bought a load of gin, made some cucumber sandwiches, wrote some outraged letters to the local paper under assumed names, and waited for the punters to come flocking in.

To our astonishment, it was a massive hit. We reached the dizzy heights of being regularly featured in The Argus (which is about as famous as you can get in Brighton), got on the BBC, read a lot of poems to a lot of punters, and ended up winning two awards (an Argus Angel Award, from Brighton’s aforementioned organ of repute), and a Latest Festival Award for Best Literature (which was given to me by Jimmy Carr, who I offended by complimenting him on his stop smoking book). It turns out we were also nominated for Best Venue in the same awards ceremony, and it’s probably good we didn’t win that too because we weren’t even in the room when it was announced, having found the free bar. We made about £130 from the brown envelopes we left in the rooms, and I’m proud to say we blew pretty much all of it on gin.

The concept was simple – punters arrived at the Poetry Brothel, and were led down to the waiting room where they could eat cucumber sandwiches (I think it was Amy‘s idea – I’d never really associated cucumber sandwiches with brothels before, but I shall always do so now), drink gin and tonic, and then choose their poet from the menu. The poet then led them into an upstairs room for an intimate one-on-one poetry reading. Afterwards, we left them in the room to reflect on their experience, fill out a comments slip (if they liked) and leave some money in a brown envelope (if they liked).

Afterwards, we thought about doing it again the following year, but it never really happened. I felt like we’d already done it, and it was time to move on to new and exciting things. Maybe that wasn’t the right decision – we tried various other techniques to bring poetry to people in new and exciting ways, including a big red velvet booth on legs (which I hated because it weighed so much it took about four people to carry it about and about an hour and a half to put together in the mornings. Like a really bad sedan chair) and an incredible event called Glue Gun ’91 which was like a poetry night but with dinosaurs and strobe lights.

Maybe one day we’ll put on another poetry brothel in Brighton one day. I’m not sure. But in the meantime, poetry brothels were popping up all across the world. Leicester, Barcelona, New York, Chicago…   it seemed that me and Jimmy had started an international movement (albeit a small and niche one) that tipsy afternoon outside the Windmill. They all seemed to operate in fairly different ways (and were often a bit more sexy) than our poetry brothel, but people were taking the idea and seeing where it would go, setting up poetry brothels in their own towns.

I thought it was incredible – like we’d started something entirely new. And good luck to them – poetry’s never the easiest thing to bring into people’s lives (writes a struggling poet), and anything like that can make it exciting and fresh.

However, it seems (and I’m going to be careful here, as I don’t have what could be called ‘hard evidence’) that one branch of the poetry brothel seems to be putting pressure on another branch to stop using the phrase “poetry brothel”, due to intellectual property and all that. I’m not going to name names at this point, but if this is the case, then I find this a) disappointing, and b) outrageous. If anyone has any claim to the phrase or concept of a “poetry brothel”, it’s me and Jimmy, and we’re not about to start wrestling it back from anyone who’s been using it. I understand that I don’t necessarily know the true facts of the case, and I’d invite anyone involved in the dispute to get in touch with me, especially if I’ve got anything wrong here.

In any case, (and I’m fairly sure it’s not the gin speaking), I’d just like to say that I give the official endorsement for anyone to set up a poetry brothel anywhere they like. You may have to check with Jimmy first, but as far as I’m concerned, bring on the poetry brothels! Let there be solicited one-on-one poetry on every street corner! Yes! Bravo!

unreal city

January 7, 2012

Unreal City

for W. B. Yeats

technicalities of the word City

the bright red devil

soldiers, freaks

and all in between


architecture spills like scattered pebbles

homes built for heroes

concrete monoliths

Georgian terraces

and a great ocean liner

beached on the shoreline

great green domes

steps bowed from years of feet

south coast sprawl

and we are in a wind tunnel

you and I

aerodynamics found wanting

and duck into the slipstream


teapots dot the horizon

descending weather ball silenced

follies and fragments

the machinery of whim


hunched round the back of shops

I see the future in Orange Row

someone elses hands grow liver spots

in neon light

homeless starlings circle uncertainly

echoing cell formation in a futile dance

a sea voyage on wheels

another gust

and 40 pence postcards spin with the leaves

dreams of reformed piers

and dolphins that never were


the seafront is littered with sequels

nightclubs reshuffle in endless repeat

the concorde is full of fish

whilst a lift to nowhere stands forlorn

projects shudder to a halt on the front pages

circling like merry go round

with a Möbius strip

of barrel organ

these are the satisfied horses


one February day

the ghost train caught fire

sharing a bottle of wine

on seafront

it was bonfire night

children huddled

in hats and scarves

padded the shingles for a better view

all that was missing was the sparklers


seagulls wake with the dawn

the mournful peep of the young

searching for the red button

the food dispenser

and the full throated

call to the sky

of their elders

seagulls live a long time


and in answering chorus

from hotels and apartment lofts

windows slam shut

lovers turn and spoon

and visiting businessmen writhe

wrap pillows futilely round heads

these are not the sounds of the city


the end of the line

bill boards shriek improbable phrases

dawn breaks

a morning stroll

half blind

the viaduct in snow

that melts within minutes of settling

forking paths


this is not the city of legends

of angels

the windy city

the streets are not paved in gold

but chewing gum

and warnings not to drop chewing gum

Siamese twins

at the hip


there’s a shark in the water

the beaches are closing

candy floss melts on the stick

at the Marina

the floating Chinese restaurant breaks free

nose to the east

a bear gets loose on west street

and hundreds of panicking clubbers

snap the glowing cones

as oceana sinks


into the ground

the main event

the pavilion shudders

as blood drips from the palms

of the statue of George IV

books pop into existence

a hundred a minute

on the first floor of the Jubilee library

screaming librarians

running out of places to put them

the model shrimp

having devoured the whelk stall

storms the fishing museum

for fresh meat

in cafes

croissants drop to the ground

full English breakfast abandoned

with sausage still pinioned

and egg running everywhere

the honey club?

a mass of swarming bees

spelling out directions

by dancing to funky house

the North Laine is filled with electricians

grocers, cobblers, stationers, ironmongers

running over boutiques and juice bars

whilst crystals and dream catchers heap up on the street corner

students start using the word “real”

to describe actual real things

there is a walrus in regency square

although no-one really knows why

the open market is closed

despite the name

swimmers in the prince regents

all get cramp at the same time

a thousand screaming crows

descend on the bird whistle man

who falls skeletal to the ground

leaving jaunty cap and sign

the zombie walk gets attacked

by actual unimpressed zombies

with no known survivors

the falmer stadium

snaps shut

trapping the audience

who are forced to watch

perpetual re-runs

of that Crystal Palace game in ‘86

but nobody really notices

on the beach

photographers run for tripods

and external flash

as the great wave hits

and loll in the undertow

one last great capture

buskers hit one final saxophone solo

which might never end

until dissolved

by precisely aimed lightning



Straight from Southhampton

The Argus leads on

“Is this Sussex’s most expensive guinea pig?”

Whilst Adam Trimingham

Bemoans the rocketing price

Egg and chips will set you back these days

Unimpressed residents

Brush flecks of ash from their fountain pens

And ponder on the letters page

About how this will affect the weekly bin collection


Amidst the remains of the city

As survivors wait for buses that will never arrive

Or reconsider that move back to London

There comes a man

As it was written

His clothes bedecked with flames

With a music only he can hear

Dancing whilst Hove burns

Dancing, dancing, dancing,

Dancing like there’s no tomorrow

Dancing like there’s no yesterday

Each step honed from hundreds of rehearsals

Resplendent in flaming suit

Amidst the smoking ruins

He dances on

possible thursday

December 9, 2011

they’re playing the lightning seeds in Morrisons, imagine that! It took me aback and I stood gaping by the olive oils with sugar coated iceberg in my ears and wondering what the hell I was doing there in the first place. Grabbed a bottle of oil at whi8m even though I don’t think it was extra virgin or a good deal, pocketing a tin of tuna before shaking the oil in futile rage at the self scan checkout, finally escaping out to St James St where an elderly woman at the bus stop swings her arm out in an extravagant gesture and I nearly get a B & H superking in the eye and, still disorientated, I hurtle backwards clutching the oil like a drunk, wrapped in a useless shopping bag, and as I cross to the front the first thing is a freshly killed pigeon trailing guts over the zebra crossing, for gods sake, the zebra crossing, but this is soon forgotten for the second thing is this gigantic wheel which I find myself drawn to and handing over my eight pounds I get a capsule to myself. it moves a bit faster than you imagine and I remember the tuna and produce it but the tin doesn’t have a ring pull and I see the pier sway beneath me and I briefly consider breaking the glass with the tin but I don’t think it will break so I settle for uncapping the olive oil and letting it pour all over the base of the cabin in a slick deep yellow pool and I have already disembarked the ride and started walking swiftly away before I hear the first shouts

november fragments

November 23, 2011

It’s been a funny month and I think trying to tie it together as some kind of coherent whole isn’t going to work, and I’ve been in a pretty unusual state of mind (for various reasons that no doubt will become apparent). Was lying awake last night thinking about how Cadburys is from the old Quaker Labour tradition whilst Mr Whippy was invented by Margaret Thatcher, so essentially the fusion of the flake with the soft ice-cream is some kind of New Labour 99 cone. I think I’m going to start calling them Third Ways. Not that I ever eat them. Spent a day or so last month only listening to songs that contained the line “working for the yankee dollar”. This morning I’ve been listening to songs that contain the line “the roof is on fire”. Now I’m listening to Field Commander Cohen again.

*     *     *     *     *

Didn’t think I was going to get a weekend in Brighton this month but actually my leg swelled up and ended up going to hospital and spending this weekend in Brighton after all. It would be easy to get very fat in hospital. I haven’t seen anyone I don’t work / live with for quite a long time. I haven’t had a drink for quite a long time. Had my first coffee in nearly two weeks this morning. Have found out a lot more about Flakes than I thought I’d ever know. Had a flake and half a flake allure yesterday. Been reading an incredible amount about whales. There is a man somewhere in America with the world’s largest collection of squid beaks. I’m fascinated by the similarities between the Commerson’s dolphin and the Malayan tapir.

*      *     *     *     *

Jed’s bought a device that converts his slow cooker into a solid-state-heat-sink so he can seal meat into plastic bags and cook them at exactly 60 degrees over the course of two days. Plus an amazing smoke-emitting device that can cold-smoke things. Can’t wait to be well enough to try some smoked things. Jed’s food gadgets are probably my favourite of his gadgets. He’s only poisoned himself once with the heat sink. Spent an afternoon in the pub a few weeks ago writing a letter to Amy and transcribing her what the old men were saying to each other. Been thoroughly unproductive since I got sick, unlike last time, but I think that’s because I’ve managed to resist the temptation (and boredom) to go out drinking on my antibiotics.

From last time:

I have the past week been dejected

My gum was swollen and infected

The pain relief occludes my thinking

Anti biotics prevent my drinking

*     *     *     *      *

Just realising how much this entry makes me sound like some kind of crazy alcoholic. I’m not, really. I’ve got a job and all sorts of outside interests and I really like politics and whales and flakes. Went to the peak district at the beginning of the month for Alice and Jenny’s Twin Peaks celebration. A lovely weekend featuring good friends and tiny little dogs called Onion and me and Anna and Amy having the most fun day after being ditched and climbing a peak and finding a tiny little pub in a village and learning lots of unsubstantiated horse facts and fireworks and broken down cars. I probably shouldn’t be allowed to set off fireworks as I’m quite into the “unexpected angles” aspect of firing off rockets and definately had to duck  at one point when one blew up on the ground.

*     *     *     *     *

White Night was pretty cool, although hosting a quiz show for four hours was pretty intense and essentially spent the whole time shouting questions at people, most of which were absurdly difficult (the questions, not the people), but it seemed to go well and I was ably assisted by my glamorous assistant who can spin people on chairs like no-one else. Saw a few things beforehand including the Alternative Village Fete involving boat building and a prog rock band playing in a laundrette, but by the time I escaped from the Dome it had gone two and it was mayhem in town and all my friends were totally wasted so didn’t actually see very much else (apart from the end of the glowing metahub) and spent a lot of time sitting on the steps of the Unitarian Church drinking beer and then went to the Blind Leopard where Amy accidentally threw wine over one of my co-quiz-team from earlier so we ended up swapping shirts and she had to go interview P. J. Harvey the next day whilst dressed as a clown, but that’s the sort of thing that could happen to anyone, and me and Anna were the last standing and almost made it to the dawn chorus but flaked out about an hour too early. Maybe next year.

*     *     *     *     *

Been really enjoying the LRB lately, mostly for the articles about imperialism and UFOs and late-modernist poets, but also because it’s quite fun seeing where all the Guardian columnists get their titbits that they slip into their columns from. I quite want to get an I Want To Believe poster to hang next to my desk at work but I’m concerned all my colleagues will think I’m a fruitloop. Or at least a bit “spooky”. Agreed to take part in some kind of group reading of Howl at some point so I’ve sent off for a copy in the hope that I’ll enjoy it a bit more this time round. Was never really into Ginsberg (or indeed any of the beats) before and thought he was a bit lazy. I suspect it’s a case of deploring in others the weaknesses we experience in ourselves. Am much more enjoying Louis MacNeice at the moment, and consequently Liz Lochhead’s excellent “Bagpipe Muzak, Glasgow 1990”;

So – watch out Margaret Thatcher, and tak’ tent Neil Kinnock

Or we’ll tak’ the United Kingdom and brekk it like a bannock.

I’m also rattling through Moby Dick (second time lucky – think it might be something to do with the Whale thing) and have (against my better judgement) bought a copy of Judy Blume’s sex book, Wifey. Haven’t started it, although the opening page features a motorcyclist jacking off on the narrator’s front lawn, so it’s possibly a long leap from Blubber.

*     *     *     *     *

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for November so far. I had a lovely weekend back home seeing family and old friends, although whilst loitering in St. Albans’ hottest nightspot at 1.30am I realised that perhaps I can’t keep up with the youth of STA (namely my sister)  like I used to. And I reckon I’m on the mend. There’s nothing like going a bit stir crazy to make you realise you’re getting better – it’s when you’re content to sit around the house staring into space that you know you’re not well. Anyway, here’s hoping – and here’s hoping for some slightly more coherent updates on here as well. You never know your luck…

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


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


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

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…


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?