Thursday, 31 December 2009
Do you make resolutions? Do you stick to them? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Bet you don't.
As the t-shirt says (and BTW, just so you know, I didn't model for this picture) I don't. My thinking is that if you make your resolutions at the start of the year, you have 365 days to fuck it all up. However, if you choose a more arbitrary date as the kicking off point for a fresh start, and you mess up, you can just pick yourself up and start all over again - without waiting for January 1st to come round again. Make sense, no?
It's like going on a diet on a Monday morning. By elevenses that day you've munched your way through a mars bar, empire biscuit and a packet of crisps so you think, the hell with it and the rest of the week descends into an orgy of calories. Next Monday you start again only to eat a mars bar, empire biscuit....you getting my drift here people?
So I started to think about the aims I have for the next stretch of my life, the week before Xmas and started to modify my behaviour then - allowing for the fact that I would eat slightly more, exercise slightly less and do less writing during the holiday season.
It seems to me that an ongoing assessment of my stuff and an ongoing willingness to work towards my goals is much more effective than the trumpet blast and build up of a new calender year. Because then I will be more relaxed and forgiving of myself when (and it is inevitable) I slip up - and consequently in a better position to get right back on the horse. So to speak.
Here's to getting back on the horse and more success for each and every one of you than you can shake your tail at.
Monday, 28 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
To all my regular, or indeed irregular readers I hope you have fantasticulous holiday.
By way of a gift allow me to offer you this Xmas poem wot I wrote many years ago...when rhythm and scanning meant nothing to me. Or indeed an original idea.
One fine Xmas Eve
One hundred years ago
A fairy had an extra tree
What to do with it she didn't know.
Now Santa had just run out of toys.
He shouted, "What a farce!"
So when the fairy asked about the tree,
He screamed, "Shove it up your arse."
...and THAT is the reason why we sit the fairy all the way up there. Don't let anyone tell you different.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Subject: pear cider
Right, Mandela McConnachie, what do you think you’re playing at? I got home from a day’s hanging about outside Iceland down at the shopping centre to find a bottle of pear cider and a stuffed bird on the doorstep. Whassat all about?
FYI - I necked the bottle with my ma and the dead bird is in the re-cycling bin. Well, somebody might have a use for it.
FYI again – my ma loved the cider. Didn’t know pears could be used for that as well. She says you’ve taught her something worthwhile and gone up in her estimation. My dad shouted that you’re still a wee wanker, as if, like you can hear him down the email. Guess who I agree with?
Right, first you don’t reply to my email. Then you send me something else daft in the post. A box with two pigeons. What was with the stupid wee cardboard shells on their backs and the black masks? Ninja turtle pigeons? You’ve pure lost it, ya numpty. My ma didn’t have a hangover after the pear cider and still likes you. My dad has his hands covered in pigeon shit and wants to chib you. He’s been in the kitchen sharpening the handle of a spoon in case you come round tonight. My advice? Fuck off and die.
I was pure munchin’ on my Big Mac and saying to Shelley and Grunter (they’re back together – Shel forgave him for selling her rings down at Cash Converters. Says his heart’s in the right place. Saddo. If he did that to me he’d be getting his jaw re-wired right about now.) and sayin’ that if I get home and there’s any wee presents I’m going to go all Hulk on your arse. AND guess what. Three pens from my favourite stalker. What’re you trying to say? Think I need help writing or something? And why do they have a French flag on them. Is a French pen some weird trick you learned about in prison?
I repeat - F.O.A.D.
Subject: 4 calling birds
Right. I get it. You’ve gone fucking postal. Gonnae stop sending me stuff. And yes, I also get the shitty attempt to copy that old crimbo song. My name might be Pocahontas McGlumpher but that doesn’t make me stupid.
Mind you, how you managed to stick those wee mobile phones on to each of the birds’ wings...I got it straight away. CALLING birds. With wee mobile phones. Cool. One of the phones even had some diamonte bling painted on it.
Enough. Awright. There’s a point when stalking becomes creepy. I know we had that first date at Pizza Hut an’ it was special, but it’s not like you bought me a stuffed crust or nothing.
Dad says if he sees you he’s gonnae strangle you with your Lacoste hoodie. Ma says to wait until you send round more of that cider. (Where did you get it, BTW? I'm looking for a christmas present for mum and that would be perfick)
Man are you persistent. My Ma likes a man that keeps at it. She gave dad a weird look when she said that. He went all red and choked on his Pot Noodle. I’ll never understand grown ups.
Today’s parcel? Five onion rings. Gave me a wee chuckle. But see, you need to get over it, dude. I told you, I don’t know if you’re Burberry’s da. We only did it that once and you only put it in a wee bit before you did all that jerky stuff. There’s no way that was pure enough to get me up the duff.
At least you made me laugh the day.
No more, eh?
TO BE CONTINUED (if I can be arsed and there's nothing worth watching on the 999 channels on sky)
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Two upsets this weekend: Chris Whatsisname won Strictly Come Dancing – proving once again that the great British public wouldn’t know talent if it came up and goosed them – and Rage Against the Machine and their festive ditty “Killing in the name of...” became number one in the music charts, leaving poor wee Joe Whatsisname from the X-Factor in number 2 position.
Can I just go on record to say that I am underwhelmed by both events. I’m much too busy worrying how to get this fake tattoo off my neck before I go back to work. It’s a lollipop, in case you’re curious and it seemed a good idea at the time. Eeesh, the silly things we do at parties. At least I didn’t join in the congo. WTF is that all about? Gripping the hips of the person in front of you and kicking as you move forward in a human chain? As much fun as counting the hairs on my knuckles. Nor did I join the line seated on the floor, pretending to row a boat to Oops Upside Your Head. Again, WTF? It has all the amusement factor of extracting nasal hair with a fork ‘n knife. (See what I did there?) But the stick-on tattoo? All the fun of the fair. How could I say no?
Rage Against the Machine was used as a rage against the Cowell Machine. We’re sick; it seems of sugary ballads at Christmas and how a TV programme has dictated the song that we all rush to download like a giant flock of sheep to use as background music to our festivities. Instead, we allow a facebook campaign to dictate the song that we all rush to download, like a giant flock of sheep to use as background...ah, you get my point. Anybody else spotting the irony here?
Someone at work tried to persuade me of the merits of the Rage campaign. The X-Factor has ruined the Xmas charts, he said. Firstly, I answered, I couldn’t give a fuck. Number 1 in the charts I couldn’t give a loose fart for, at ANY time of the year. Secondly, I continued (somewhat pompously) let’s look at the evidence. Number 1’s prior to Cowell’s grip tightened include the Spice Girls (singing sugary ballads) Westlife (singing sugary ballads) and Cliff Richard (singing Xmas themed sugary ballads). We’ve also had Mr Blobby, Bob the Builder and Renee and Renato.
So tell me again; what’s been ruined?
I'm all for breaking the X-Factor monopoly monotony, but could we pick something Christmassy the next time?
For those of you who care, 2009’s expression of the Christmas spirit contains 17 fucks and was reportedly played at maximum volume during the interrogation of detainees in the "War on Terror".
Rage's guitarist Tom Morello decried American soldiers "playing music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the eardrums". He added. “The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me.”
Merry Christmas, right enough.
Friday, 18 December 2009
As it approaches Christmas I have half a mind (no surprise there then) to tell you about past experiences of this season. You’ve had The Tree and The Xmas Eve dinner, but they were placing my twin-sister firmly as the butt of the joke. It’s only fair that I relate a memory where I’m the one you can laugh at.
Some of you may already know that as a lad I was a dervish in a kilt, a demon at the sword dance, yes people, I was a Highland Dancer.
I can’t remember the age I was when I started (4, 5 or 6) but I stopped as soon as I grew out of my tartan underpants. Twenty one. No, I’m joking, I was around 12.
Blame the nuns. They thought it was character forming. There was one issue that the nuns didn’t foresee when they took steps to mould the future me. The wee fella Malone had the knack. He was doing well with the highland dancing and being asked to perform at Burns Suppers, St Andrew’s Nights and Christmas parties for geriatrics around the country (well, Kilmarnock).
The problem? Tradition was a big thing in all of this. I danced with real swords, to a real bagpipe player while wearing a real kilt. How far could the nuns allow me to take tradition? Many non-Scots reading this will surely be fascinated to know that “a real Scotsman” wearing a kilt does so without underwear. Yes, we were going commando long before anyone else. (Apparently this was a military thing and men in Scottish regiments were banned from wearing anything under their kilts. To ensure this rule was not broken Sergeant Majors were known to fix a mirror to the end of a golf club and walk along the line scanning for visible danglies )
Could the nuns afford to make this ten year old lad a true Scotsman? If there was a mishap, male specific body parts (MSBP) would be on show. What if the lad slipped? Group shudder. What if when he slipped his kilt ended up over his head, Holy Mary, Mudder of Jaysus?
This was a major concern. The sight of, the thought of, the mention of MSBP was enough to bring on group hysteria, much gripping of rosary beads and rapid and repeated signs of the cross. They could not, would not allow male “private parts” (is that phrase still used) to be on display. The world could not, would not face such an evil and depraved display, Jaysus, Mary and Joseph.
A compromise was found. I was to be made a pair of underpants from the same tartan as my kilt. This meant that if I kicked too high the MSBP would not be displayed. They would in fact be invisible. All the audience would be faced with was a pair of disembodied legs.
Said knickers were made. Not only were they the same tartan – they were of the same rough, heavy woollen material. However, before you all wince, they were lined. So not only would tradition be maintained (sort of) and dignity preserved (praise be to God), there would be efforts made to keep chafing to a minimum (aww bless).
From a distance of time I can smile, rub the scars (yes, there was chafing. I remember tucking my shirt into the pants around my thighs) and wonder if the “seamstress” was told that these knickers were for a boy. There were tight, flat and there was absolutely no room for MSBP. Thankfully these parts were pre-pubescent and yet to reach their...ehm... full potential (TMI?)
I’m betting the maker of the tartan kegs went on to bigger and better things. Didn’t you ever wonder where Drag Queens stick their man-stuff? Under the sequin and lace panties, I’ll bet they’re wearing a pair of tartan underpants.
Monday, 14 December 2009
Here’s my Sunday in brief. (As you read this you should imagine Gordon Ramsay is doing the voiceover)
Get up. The wee fella is downstairs watching cartoons. I make breakfast. Crack four eggs. Whip em up. Good strong wrist action. Add salt. Heat oil in a pan. Pour in eggs. Grill bacon. Once cooked, chop and add to the eggs. Serve immediately. Savour.
Read newspaper. Online. Can’t be arsed running down to shop. Watch WWE. Bored. My son says I have no taste. As well as being a rubbish cook.
Apart from this he’s being very affectionate. I love you, dad – he says – so get used to it. But don’t cook for me. Takeaway everytime.
Drop him off at his mum’s. Barely stop the car. That’ll teach him.
Go to the gym. Strip. Change. Cardio. Run for first time since hurting ankle. Breathe don’t wheeze, I tell myself. Swelling in ankle. Move to weights. Chest and arms. Don’t look at belly in the mirrors. Too many mirrors. Back in changing room. Strip and shower. Sauna. Shower. Steam room. Wheeze. Feel phlegm being loosened. Cough. Nowhere to spit, so I swallow. (Sound familiar ladies?)
...I did say it was a Gordon Ramsay voiceover ...admittedly with Billy Connolly’s sense of humour. (If I have offended your sensibilities please go to www.fuckedifIcare.com for a half-arsed apology)
Shower. Jacuzzi. Shower. So clean I squeak as I walk back into the changing room. Dry. Friend comes over to talk. He’s naked. I’m seated. And freshly nauseous. I think of somewhere I could spit phlegm. Dress. In the cafe, I order coffee. And cake. Sit and watch second-half of football match. Sip coffee. Push fork into cake. Place moist sponge in mouth. Savour.
Go to movies. New Moon. How can a film about vampires and werewolves be so wet? Feels like I’m back in Jacuzzi. What a bag of shite. Save your money. Or throw it away. Better still, take a tenner from your wallet. Pick box of matches from kitchen cupboard. Scratch. Spark. Flame. Burn.
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Punctuation is a dying art, n’est ce pas?
I was in a bank the other day. They had a rather large tree (almost as big as mine) in the lobby. There was a sign under the tree that read...
Don’t Touch Children
For the want of a comma, a request to the kids turned out to be a warning for the local paedos.
Seeing as we were talking about kids, (Yes we were. Kinda) let me share this with you…
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-- Derrick, age 8 (mmm, wonder if anyone phoned social services for this kid?)
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
Both don't want any more kids.
-- Lori, age 8 (There's a family that talks.)
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough...
-- Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a love?)
On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
-- Martin, age 10 (eyes wide open that one)
WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON A FIRST DATE THAT WAS TURNING SOUR?
I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
-- Craig, age 9 (this boy should run courses on the art of Perspective)
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
When they're rich.
-- Pam, age 7 (exactly)
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them... It's the right thing to do.
-- Howard, age 8 ( I keep telling the wee fella this. Think he believes me?)
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
It's better for girls to be single but not for boys.. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-- Anita, age 9 (EXACTLY!)
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
-- Ricky, age 10 (He'll be married forever)
Thursday, 10 December 2009
My thoughts on the world at large this week...
...let he/ she who is without sin cast the first golf ball.
And lo, on the 19th day he made a sport of hitting small balls with skinny sticks and decided that people who flourish in this arena should be viewed as paragons of virtue and excluded from the human foible that afflicts the rest of us – Making Mistakes. But when they fail they shall be judged most harshly.
Don’t remember reading that in the bible.
Lest we forget, there are children and a wife involved here. Let’s leave them to try and re-build their lives, eh?
...we have a politician called Darling. ‘Nuff said.
...I bet the politicians (Munchkin, Sweetness and Darling among them) were hoping that by focussing all of their ire on the bankers and their bonuses it would distract from the fuckwit MPs who “stole” money from the public purse. Then – oh dearest darling – news gets released today about expenses being claimed for “a bell tower, garden trellis and dog walking”. Foken eejits.
The good news, Honey, Sweetlips and Poppet? The court of public opinion might be unforgiving and judgemental but it has all the attention span of goldfish in a tumble dryer. The investment bankers will find a way to give a great big fuck you to the taxman and we’ll be back on their hate machine.
...Copenhagen and the so-called debate on Climate Change. This issue has become so heavily politicised that we will never reach any form of consensus. So who’s right and who’s wrong? I’m not bright enough to understand the data, but I have a question. Can we not just decide to minimise pollution? Surely that’s in everyone’s interest.
...according to The Telegraph, monocles are coming back into fashion. I’ve decided I’m going to grow old disgracefully and this could be my prop. See me peering through one of them with my face twisted in my favourite whogivesafuck expression and asking...what, what, WHAT?
Do you think it will work for me? I think the ladeez will be queuing up.
Monday, 7 December 2009
I put my Xmas tree up last night. Then I lay down for an hour to rest. Said tree is HUGE.I should have phoned in some people to help me wrestle it from the loft. Took me three trips up and down the stairs to get it through the doors and into the living room.
It’s not so much the height, it’s the girth...this is me with my index finger resting on my bottom lip and wondering where I’ve heard that before.
As I placed the tree in the middle of the floor and cleared the eagle’s nest from its branches I remembered the day it came into my possession. Just two short years ago...
......cue swirly music (violins and shit like that)....
....the phone rang. It was my sister. The Queen of Chaos (QC). For any newbies reading this, she’s a lovely lady. She’s four feet eleven inches, a size six, thinks tact is something you stick your posters on the wall with and enjoys a lifelong blonde moment.
I had earlier been at the swimming pool with my son where he invented a new sport, Dad Surfing. (In case you don’t value your lungs and you’d like to try it, all you need is a swimming pool with a current and a child who is happy to stand on your back while you – and this is where it gets tricky - float) It was great fun...and this explains my uncharacteristic willingness to step in and help. I was in a good mood.
Long story even longer, QC had been offered a free second-hand Xmas tree. It was seven feet tall, cost £190 new just 2 years ago and it was a cracker. Only thing is QC doesn’t have a car and is a master of the passive aggressive. I don’t have car, she says - like I forgot this – and how am I going to get the tree home to my flat? In Troon? Like I’ve also forgotten her address.
I load the car with self and son and drive to meet her. She has a piece of paper in her hand with directions to the then currrent home of the tree. The directions to the then current home of said tree were lousy. We got lost in a council estate with one road in and one road out. Several phone calls later, with shouted instructions from my backseat sister, me snapping at her and the wee fella giving me a row for being bossy with my twin, we made it.
A nice lady is standing by the door of her flat on the third floor wearing a look of relief. The look of someone who has just been told; yes it piles but if you use this cream.... She directed us to a cupboard in the communal hall. And opened a door. The only thing I saw was a huge white box. You know those containers you see on the back of ships? Roughly the size of one of those.
-that’s your tree, says nice lady and showing a surprising turn of speed for someone in her condition (I'm now convinced she has piles) runs back in doors before we can say anything else.
I couldn’t lift the box off the ground, never mind lift it out to the car, but with the wee fella pushing and me dragging and QC carrying a free box of 20,000 lights the tree owner no longer needed, we made it outside.
By which time my shirt was sticking to my back, my jacket was torn in three places and I was wishing I only had brothers.
I looked at the box. I looked at the boot. Not going to happen. I open up the boot (or as the wee fella calls it; the trunk) in the vain hope that Doctor Who has been working nearby. Na. Not a chance. The tree box wouldn’t fit in the boot. There was a large green skip by the side of the road and I checked. It had some space. But I wasn't about to give in after all this work.
While all the pushing was going on QC was standing to the side wearing an expression of mild panic. It’s going to be too big, she says. I don’t have big enough corners in my house, she says. You have it and I’ll take yours. It’ll be lovely for you and the wee man to have a nice big tree, she says trying to sell me the idea.
- Can we get it in the feckin’ car first, says I.
- Dad! says the wee fella.
Eventually I worked out that if I moved the front seats forward that there might be room in the back. With a lot more sweat, more pushing and some muttered curses, we made it. And bonus, we even managed to close the car doors!
Of course we now had no room for three passengers – a driver, two passengers and one unencumbered seat. So the wee fella (who’s nearly as tall as his aunt) sits on QC’s lap and I drive to my house, which is nearer– but I have to go the long way as the short way goes past the police station. We all hold our breath and look straight ahead for the ten minutes it takes to get to my house – this is known to make you invisible to the police.
We get home safely – no blue flashing lights. I couldn’t possibly drive to QC’s like this. I can’t leave the wee man at home on his own while I take the tree to hers. Besides, I can’t face the thought of lifting this humongous box up the three flights of stairs to QC’s flat. I face the realisation that I’m going to have to accept this bloody tree.
The next trick is to get the box out of my car. We all adopt the same activities as before – the wee fella pushes, I pull and QC stands wearing an expression of alarm. Eventually – presumably in the same time it takes a crane to lift a container from the ship on to the wharf, something gives – the car door handle- and the box is out the car and with more pushing, pulling and sweat, is in my front room.
While my son and I catch our breath QC tears the industrial tape from the box – you know the silver duct tape kind that serial killers use in all the movies – just to see how big this tree is.
Think Norway’s annual gift to the British nation.
-it’ll be lovely with lights on it, says QC prompted by the fact that the room is so dark because the tree is blocking out the light and who is by now desperate for me to take it off her hands. She paused, where are the lights? Did you leave the lights behind, she asks me?
-I was kinda busy with a big feckin’ box, sis, says I.
- Dad! says the wee man.
QC’s last memory of the lights was while standing watching me wrestle the tree container into the car. She must have put them down somewhere, she surmises. So we all jump back in the car and go back to the tree lady’s building …and there in a dark corner of the car park was our box of lights. Hurrah. Nobody had stolen them. No doubt any prospective thief had been put off by the thought of the increase to their electricity bill once they were switched on.
A wee man was walking his wee dog past the scene as we screeched to a halt. QC jumped out of the car before I could pull on the handbrake.
-forgot my lights, she explained to the man as if it made perfect sense, while she swooped for the box. I caught a glimpse of him over my shoulder as I circled out of the car park – his chin was resting on the back of his dachshund.
By this time we had all worked up an appetite so we decided to go to Pizza Hut. My stomach was saying, do not go home, do not pass “Go”, go straight to food. The unhealthier the better. The stomach was to be obeyed. QC generously offered to go halfers for any food.
Relieved the worst of it was over, we had a wee laugh about our adventures on the way to the restaurant – but it was to be an illusory moment of calm for when we parked and climbed out of the car QC realised she didn’t have her handbag. I reasoned that it must be in my house and besides I was not driving another inch without throwing something down my throat. And it didn’t matter it if wasn’t a meal acceptable to polite society.
By the time we got a seat in Pizza Hut and ordered our food, QC had worked herself into a frenzy of worry. Her house keys. Her mobile phone. Her purse.
Oh my fucking god, she screeched. Maybe the handbag wasn’t in my house. It was on the backseat of the car while I was pushing the tree-box in. Maybe it got pushed out the other end. Maybe she left it in the same car park as the box of lights. Maybe it was in the tree lady’s house. Maybe the tree lady had emptied her purse, had been shopping on-line with her credit cards and was now happily phoning a porn phone line in Chile using her mobile phone.
While QC borrowed my mobile and phoned all of her friends to try and find out the tree lady’s number, the wee fella gave me another row.
– you’re different with your sister, he says, much more bossy.
Nobody had tree lady’s number. Cue more worry and more doomsday scenarios – her house keys were in her handbag, I would have to kick in her front door. No, I couldn’t do that as she has mental neighbours and while she was sleeping they would ransack her flat. She thought about it some more. NO, she couldn’t do that ‘cos she’d have to stay awake all night and she was a monster if she didn’t get her sleep. Could she even get a locksmith on a Saturday night? Shame she fell out with another neighbour – the witch- ‘cos she used to keep a spare key for her.
The food arrived and was eaten in Guinness Book of Records time. The wee man didn’t even have time to get that tomato smear on his wee cheeks.
There was a collective holding of breath all the way from Pizza Hut to my house. The wee fella worried that QC was going to have a rubbish Xmas. I worried that I was going to have a mad woman on my couch for the rest of the weekend and QC just worried.
We pulled up in front of my house and all of us took a deep breath and paused in prayer before we get out of the car.
I unlocked the front door to my house and QC almost knocked me into next door’s garden in her rush to get past. My son and I looked at each other and waited at the door, afraid to look.
We heard a squeal. She’d found it. Care to guess where?
Under the tree.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
The problem started when I went in to Waterstones. They were doing a 3 for 2 on EVERY BOOK IN THE FREAKIN’ STORE. I was in Glasgow for a wee spot of shopping. Look at me. 2009 is going to be an organised holiday. (Now if I could only get someone to write out my frickin’ cards, I would be in crimbo heaven. BTW, I don’t get the whole Xmas card thing. Can people not just visit/ phone/ email the people they care about and wish them a Happy Christmas? And how come the Climate Change brigade hasn’t jumped all over this habit? How many trees do you think are cut down for this annual postal jamboree? It’s a disgrace.)
Anywayyyy, I ended up not buying any presents...but I bought lots of stuff for me. It’s ALL about me. Me, me, me. Does anyone else do that or am I just a selfish bastard?
And in Waterstones I was like a dog with two tails, Larry (as in happy as, dumbass) and the pig in shit all rolled into one. Regular readers will know that I am the Imelda Marcos of book buying. Except I’m not from the Phillipines and my other half isn’t the country’s leader. But hey, imagine if she was....the possibilities...the bookcases... I’m hoarding for the day (cos I can’t possibly read all of these at the moment) when the publishing world implodes and the only places left selling books are supermarkets and the only books on offer are from John Grisham, Dan Brown, the latest celebrity halfwit and a row of Woe-Is-Me Memoirs. And when everyone else is bored out of their tits with this tat I’ll have piles upon piles of fantastic books to read. So there.
I may start up a library service, if you speak nicely to me. Cash or sexual favours may also be traded.
Anywho, there was I like a midge in a nudist colony...not sure where to bite first... Long story short I went for a thriller (Nelson Demille), a fantasy novel (JV Jones) and a poetry anthology called Being Alive from Bloodaxe Books. As you can see, I like to mix it up.
Being Alive (which includes one from an old poetry pal, Kona MacPhee) is a thumper of a book with hundreds of poems from modern-day poets. I spend a lot of my reading time reading crime/ thriller novels for Crimesquad.com so I like to have a wee change now and again...and I don’t read enough poetry. So I decided I would set myself a target of reading a poem every day. For ease of access, Being Alive will therefore stay by the toilet. As good a place as any, no?
A quick glance and I am loving it.
For those of you who don’t GET poetry, let me borrow words from a few poetic geniuses who might persuade you to have a look.
“Poems show us that we are both more and less than human. That we are part of the cosmos and part of the chaos, and that everything is part of everything else.” Julia Casterton.
“Poetry speaks to something in us that so wants to be filled. It speaks to the great hunger in the soul.” – Lucille Clipton.
“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically that the top of my head has been taken off, I know that is poetry.” – Emily Dickinson.
Poets can be pretentious wankers, can’t they?
It was George Bernard Shaw (I think) who said that the ability to hold two conflicting opinions at the same time was a sign of intelligence. If that’s the case I’m a frickin’ genius. I have to keep reminding myself that there’s a thin line between appreciating an art form and being full of shit. Take yourself too seriously and you’re in danger of disappearing up your own arse. (Wonder if I can throw in any more references to bowel movements?) There’s a lot of the Emperor’s New Clothes in poetry, given that there’s no adequate definition. If I write three lines and call it a poem then it’s a friggin’ poem, people. And that’s part of its charm. Anybody can do it. But (whisper it) some should keep it to themselves.
Lemme give you an example of someone who should share. You know you want one.
From Fleur Adcock’s Weathering as contained in Being Alive. (Apologies BTW if I’m breaking any copyright rules – good luck suing me, Bloodaxe people. I own next to fuck all.)
“there’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.”
Love it, love it, LOVE IT. Ordinary language used to extra-ordinary effect. There’s so much in those lines, eh, eh, eh? makes me indifferent to mirrors. That’s the phrase that makes the whole poem.
Seamus Heaney said something to the effect that often the best poems are “about something else”. Often there is something between the lines that as a reader we have to tease out. It just takes a little effort.
When somebody does poetry well...well, it blows the top of your head off! This book is full of people doing it well. It’s full of work that feeds the hunger in my soul.
When humans are being creative they shine, providing a counterpoint to all the hate and isms that display us at our darkest. This is why I get pissed off when people moan about public money that’s spent on Art – without art, we are bound to a life that’s a spiritless desert - but that’s a whole other blog.
Poetry can amplify our joys, share our pain, turn the mundane into a welcome insight – it gives me moments where I feel I am in the presence of something that is as close as we human’s will get to perfection. So there.
And if you think I sound like a tosser when I’m talking about it, you can bite me.