Google+ A Tangled Rope: 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Best Way?

To begin at the beginning is always the best way. However, sometimes it is hard to know where the beginning was. Then, just how do you go about finding which particular moment within that actual beginning, should you have found it, was the very one that began it all?

Was it the decision to go for the cup of coffee at that moment? Was it the decision to go to that one particular coffee shop rather than the other, closer one? Was it the delay at the traffic lights caused by the broken down car that meant you had to wait to cross for those few moments longer?

Was it the fact that she was already late for her appointment and was not looking where she was going? Was it the fact that she was rummaging through her bag, checking that she had both the card and the present, and was not really looking where she was going as she rushed along the pavement by the crossing?

Was it your increasing irritation at the rather rash and foolish decision of yours to come out for a – no doubt far too expensive - cup of coffee when you had perfectly reasonable coffee at home? 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stories and Promises

It is time to move on. I have lived long enough amongst these people. I have told them all the stories I know, and, in return, they have told me all their stories.

I have promised several of those women who dared to visit me in the dark safety of the night to take each of them with me when I leave. I will not take them, and deep down I think they know, and expect that. However, I will leave them satisfied with the dreams that such promises bring. All of us have made promises we know we will never keep.

Promises are a lot like stories, I suppose. For both stories, and promises, it is important to believe. When I tell my stories, or make those promises, I really do believe. I believe that what I am saying is true and there is no way at all it could be otherwise.

Nevertheless, looking back later, I see that I - like all storytellers - was under the spell of the moment. A spell that would make me say, or do, anything to keep that audience's rapt attention, or to make that woman continue removing her clothes for me. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Poem: Lost Names

[Every Monday (until I run out of them), I’m posting a poem of mine that has fallen out from the submission process for some reason. In most cases, it will be one where I’ve received no response to my submission for at well over a year or more. Maybe the magazine I submitted them to has folded, the submission was lost in the post, or whatever. So, these poems can be seen as lost, orphans, of uncertain status, or something like that.]

These poems are also posted to ABCTales.

Lost Names

An enemy makes life simple.
Drunk on heroes and legends,
uniforms and marching songs.
As if there were not enough
ordinary tragedies for them,
they marched off into history
looking for adventure
and tales for awed grandchildren.

All their names are lost now,
deep in the mud of the past
sinking far below the surface
as time smooths over all traces,
becomes indifferent once more.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Crusade! This Time It's Personal!

Hollywood Historical Pictures Proudly Present - Crusade! This Time It's Personal!

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Rychard The Lionheart


Crusade! This Time It's Personal!

This Major Motion-Picture tells the heart-rending, but empowering and uplifting, TRUE story of one of the greatest events in world history:

The Crusades!


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Rychard The Lionheart

For the first time in motion-picture history Hollywood Historical pictures tells the true story of the Crusades.

Based on actual historical events, this is THE TRUE STORY of how one lone American woman, Rychard Plantagenet, first gains her superpowers of animal-empathy in an astral meeting with a Native-American spirit guide. These superpowers enables her to - literally - gain the heart of a lion brutally killed in a nuclear accident - which gives orphan billionaire-heiress Rychard Plantagenet her Mighty Queen Of The Jungle Super-Powers!

After Rychard at first falls for, but then rejects, multi-millionaire jet set playboy Sal Addin when she learns he was responsible for the nuclear accident that killed the lion whose heart is now hers.

Rejected, Sal Addin vows to get his revenge!

Leading his personal gang of vicious ideologically-crazed Middle-Eastern terrorists - The Saracens! - Sal Addin kidnaps Rychard's long-lost orphan kid sister, Jerusalem, and hides her in his secret desert hideaway deep in a far-away foreign land.

Pausing only to hook up with her buddies from her Green Beret undercover secret service days, Rychard sets off on her personal crusade to liberate her kidnapped orphan sister, Jerusalem.

Will Rychard The Lionheart liberate Jerusalem from the Saracens?

Find out in the Major Motion-Picture event of the year from Hollywood Historical Pictures:

Crusade! This Time It's Personal!

Coming to a Cinematographic Experience Centre near YOU soon!

Rychard The Lionheart: Crusade! This Time It's Personal!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Animal Rights Action

Earlier today a spokeswoman for PFFAR (People For Fluffiness Against Rationality), the 'animal rights' activists announced that overnight they had broken into Tewkesbury University and liberated over fifty "'so-called' students" from its science departments.

"These 'students', the spokeswoman," Gully Usefulidiot, claimed, "are used by the evil university to partake in unnecessary and pointless 'learning'. Some of these poor creatures are forced - or at least expected - to attend as many as two or three lectures a week where they are forced to undergo the ordeal of learning the Western hegemonic patriarchy's so-called science! This horrific and barbaric practice is nothing less than torture, inflicted on these poor innocent defenceless creatures by those evil scientists."

Asked by a journalist what her organisation had against science, Usefulidiot replied, "Isn't it obvious? Without the evils of science we would all be able to lead natural lives, like the bunny rabbits and the pretty white mice."

"But hasn't science done a great deal of good?" asked another journalist.

"No, of course not," Usefulidiot stated emphatically. "It is all propaganda put out by the military-industrial scientific cabal that controls the world, including the media. After all, science didn't cure the Black Death, did it? So all its claims are obviously nothing but evil propaganda, lies and distortions."

"Anyway," she continued, returning to her prepared statement. "We hope to liberate these poor 'students' out into the wild where, with a bit of luck they will soon forget about such harmful things as facts, logic, the scientific method, proof and so on. They will soon learn to live in peace and harmony like the foxes and chickens, the owls and the mice, and all the other cute fluffy creatures do."

However, later this morning, a spokeswoman for the university condemned the action, claiming that "these students once educated and a bit more mature, would have made a great contribution to society in all manner of fields from medicine to engineering, to veterinary work, to solving the world's environmental problems. Although it may sometimes seem cruel to make students learn things, the work we do here - in the university science departments - is vital for the futures of all of us in society. As for releasing students out into the wild, I can't think of anything more stupid, short-sighted or dangerous. Most of our students are from the middle-classes, they will not be able to survive for even a week without being bailed out by their parents. Some of the male students, for example, have never seen a frying pan, let alone know what it is used for."

The Chief Constable for the Tewkesbury police said, at a later press conference, "We utterly condemn this thoughtless and dangerous action by the PFFAR. Letting students out into the wild could have very tragic consequences and may force us into filling out several otherwise unnecessary forms. We would advise members of the general public not to approach any students they see roaming the streets, as outside their natural habitat of the campus, they can become very confused and disorientated. Although some of them may look cute and approachable, it must be remembered that most of them are still almost teenagers and therefore should not be brought into the home under any circumstances. Remember, if you do see anyone you might suspect of being a student, please contact either your local police station or the university and they will - eventually - send out trained professionals to herd the students back to the safety of their campus. Thank you."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

If Something Happened

What if something happened, and you didn’t know what to do?

It happens all the time though, anyway. Every day – it seems – brings something new for you to deal with. What makes one particular problem stand out more than any of the other day-to-day irritations and interruptions? Who knows? There are the big things: births, marriages, deaths and all the thousand other shocks that flesh is heir to, of course. They will all stand out. There are the vagaries of this world and its hostility towards us, and its indifference to our fate, things like floods, storms, earthquakes, lightning strikes and other natural disasters.

Although, it makes one pause and wonder just what would be an unnatural disaster: attacked by psycho penguins and covered in mint-flavoured chocolate, perhaps?

All of it – except the psycho-penguins, of course - run of the mill stuff in a way, but still able to dominate the TV news for days at a time, providing the casualty figures, or the newsworthy-ness of the event is suitably camera-friendly, of course, or if it allows journalists seemingly endless opportunities to speculate together about possible outcomes. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


This happens then that happens. However, to say that that happens because this happens is not always true, even though it may, especially in retrospect, seem that there must be a connection. This is – of course – one of the reasons why religions were created and why they can – even in this day and age – still seem to have some credibility, especially to the more credulous.

For if the priestly caste, or the wise men, witch doctors or others of their forebears could say that this happened and then that happened because of the way they could interact with the spirits, the powers that controlled such events, then, such interventions could increase the status of those seemingly on the inside of the process; those that could intervene with, or interpret the actions of a seemingly otherwise hostile and indifferent earth as the motivated actions of some other more powerful entity.

Thus from the spirits that animated the world were the gods born. The more powerful the god then the more power, respect and status could those who interceded on behalf of the tribe could command. That is probably why – quite often – many gods became one god – the more powerful the god, the more awe-inspiring the person who dared intercede with that god.

[See here for an explanation of these posts labelled as Fragments]

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Poem: Birds

[Every Monday (until I run out of them), I’m posting a poem of mine that has fallen out from the submission process for some reason. In most cases, it will be one where I’ve received no response to my submission for at well over a year or more. Maybe the magazine I submitted them to has folded, the submission was lost in the post, or whatever. So, these poems can be seen as lost, orphans, of uncertain status, or something like that.]

These poems are also posted to ABCTales.


With hands that flutter like trapped birds, she sees
only the bars of her slow-rusting cage
each time she looks up, searching for the sky.

Preferring to look down and see the birds
still trapped, there, in her lap. Her dress is pretty,
a blue-green field with flowers; red and gold.
A meadow she can run in, forever.

She can escape across that open ground
away from here, to chase those birds in flight
across the endless blue-green meadow, thick
with flowers, red and gold. As free, at last,
as any bird could ever want to be.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All-Nude Chicken-Intriguing

Nasturtium Cheeseincident (1945 - 2008) began as a Chicken-Intriguer of the old school. She first learnt the ancient and noble art of Chicken-Intriguing at the knee, ankle and - on one memorable occasion - elbow, of the semi-legendary Great High Trilobite of Chicken-Intriguing - Gerrymander Ankletrouser, an adept at the once lost art of Turkey-Perplexing, as well as being the greatest Chicken-Intriguer this world has ever known.

It was only through following Ankletrouser's rigorous training regime, and strict diet of Draught Guinness and pickled onions, that Nasturtium Cheeseincident was - after many years and countless disappointments - able to achieve the highest reaches of the Chicken-Intriguing discipline, mastering such - once-considered almost impossible - Chicken-Intriguing stances as the notorious Crouching Stockbroker, Disinterested Spaniel and Loquacious Hedge-trimmer of Tipton.

Cheeseincident first came to the attention of Ankletrouser when she was runner-up in the first post-war International Chicken-Intriguing finals in Paris during the summer of 1960. Ankletrouser immediately offered her his services, and once the misunderstanding with Nasturtium's rather over-protective father, Benchpress Cheeseincident, was cleared up and Ankletrouser was out of hospital, her training began in earnest.

Cheeseincident completely disappeared from the International Chicken-Intriguing circuit from that point. It was assumed that she had - like so many of those once-keen young Chicken-Intriguers - succumbed to one of the many vices - drink, drugs, perverted sexual practices, or even accountancy - that plagued Chicken-Intriguing at the time. But she was deep in training with Ankletrouser at his secret training ground, deep in the heart of mysterious Wolverhampton.

It was during this period, out of the limelight, that Nasturtium Cheeseincident began to experiment with the first of the many revolutions in Chicken-Intriguing she was to bring about. Eschewing the then-typical Chicken-Intriguing costume of black rolled-top wellies, spangled leather thong, donkey jacket tied with muddied string, and bobble-hat of the professional Chicken-Intriguers, Nasturtium began to experiment with naked Chicken-Intriguing.

After first disapproving of this innovation, soon the great Ankletrouser himself became a fervent advocate of this methodology, even though he later confessed that watching Nasturtium practicing naked Chicken-Intriguing did tend to give him very sore wrists for several days afterwards.

Of course, these days we all tend to be a bit blasé about naked International Chicken-Intriguing. But, on Cheeseincidents first appearance completely naked in the preliminary rounds of the Droitwich International Chicken-Intriguing finals in 1964, the whole world was shocked, outraged and quite aroused by her. After all, Nasturtium Cheeseincident had the sort of body that makes grown men walk into lampposts, so to see it in the familiar contortions of the expert chicken-intriguing poses is enough to add several new chapters to the Big Boy's Book of Advanced Sexual Perversions.

Of course, Droitwich was only the beginning for Nasturtium Cheeseincident. Soon after winning the grand final by intriguing not one, but three flocks of chickens for almost a solid half an hour utilizing the - until then - unheard-of stance, Shoe-Shop Manageress in State of Disorientation she became the household name she would remain until her retirement from professional Chicken-Intriguing twenty-three years later.

But, sadly, her personal life away from the glamour and excitement of International Chicken-Intriguing was not such a success. She had a string of short-lived affairs with several eligible bachelors, none of which bought her any happiness. She had numerous affairs with other women too, which again brought her little fulfilment, but provided the rest of us with some very memorable incidents from her stolen home-movies. It was not until her thirtieth year when she finally retired from full time Chicken-Intriguing while still unbeaten world champion for the eleventh year running that she finally found personal happiness in her private life when she moved in with the entire North Shropshire Fire Service Amateur rugby team.

Apart from giving the very occasional Chicken-Intriguing exhibition, she gave up the sport entirely to live out the rest of her life in quiet, cosy domestic bliss with her rugby team.

She died, tragically, last Saturday at the age of sixty, when the - now nearly all badly arthritic - rugby team could no longer keep the shape of the scrum and they all collapsed on her as she lay naked underneath them. Nasturtium Cheeseincident was rushed to the hospital where they attempted to disentangle her from the lower part of the scrum, but it was all in vain and she died on the operating table. Several of the rugby team were treated for minor injuries, and one had to have a jockstrap surgically removed before being allowed out of the hospital.

On hearing of her untimely death, Gerrymander Ankletrouser - now Emeritus Professor of Chicken-Intriguing and General Poultry-Confusion at Wibble College, Cambridge, issued this statement: 'Throughout her career, Nasturtium Cheeseincident was, unarguably, the most famous Chicken-Intriguer in the world, not only for her looks, her body and her creative use of bad language, but for the whole air of serious and profound understanding of the art of Chicken-Intriguing she always possessed. She was - without a doubt - Chicken-Intriguing's first, greatest and most consummate artist. It is unlikely there will ever be another quite like her.'

The funeral of Nasturtium Cheeseincident (1945-2008), World Champion Chicken- Intriguer 1964-2000, will take place on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 at the Our Plaice fish and chip shop, Nuneaton.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

God Condemns 'So-Called Intelligent Design'

At a press conference called earlier today, a being claiming to be God severely criticised and denounced the cod-scientific movement known as Intelligent Design (ID), claiming 'it has absolutely nothing to do with me at all. Self-replicating DNA, evolving organisms with random mutation - I mean, come on people, it is so obvious.'

He went on to say, 'All this creationist nonsense is so embarrassing, especially as I'm supposed to be omnipotent. Intelligent design? Putting the sex organs and the excretory organs together on the same bit of body? You call that intelligent? What about the appendix, eh? Back-ache? Giraffes, even - I could have just made smaller trees. I mean, come on, do I look like a cowboy builder?'

Asked why he had not spoken out before, God mumbled, 'Well, y'know, on the Seventh Day we had to go out and do a bit of shopping. What with all the parking problems, I admit I was away an eon or two longer than I'd expected. But when I got back, there were all these messages on the answering machine, especially all these about this so-called Intelligent Design… well… I just felt I couldn't stay silent any longer.'

'To tell you the truth,' He admitted. 'I was supposed to only be temporary. It is supposed to go from primitive animism through a pantheon of Gods to a single God - me, of course - and then on to scientific rational materialism. I was - according to the contract - supposed to retire quietly a century or two ago, and just… I dunno… fade from the scene. The wife and I had picked out a lovely little retirement bungalow down on the south coast and everything. I was looking forward to doing a bit of gardening, actually. I like gardens, as you probably know.'

'Anyway,' He sighed. 'I keep getting all these calls from folk begging me to intercede on their behalf, smite their enemies, improve their sex life, make them rich, all sorts of things. Frankly, I just don't want to get involved. It's none of my business how people want to lead their lives.'

Asked about the recent climactic disasters, God was adamant that none of them were any of his doing. 'Surely, you must have heard of the butterfly effect?' he retorted angrily. when faced with repeated questioning. 'If I try to stop a hurricane in, say Florida, the effects of that would spread all around the world. You'd end up with all sorts of odd things happening elsewhere like a volcano erupting in Paris, or a hailstorm in the Sahara desert, or have it raining frogs in Peru, or something. Nature's a tricky business at the best of times, buggering about with it is just asking for trouble, if you ask me.'

Finally, he said, 'I mean, what's wrong with Darwin? He had a far better beard than Moses had, and even if he did write a book just as fat as the Bible, it was much easier to read. The Bible… pah, all that thingy begat doodah, who begat whatsisname and so on, and on. It just got on my nerves. Actually, to be honest, I never did read all of it. It was mostly Moses' idea, really. We had a few beers - as you do - together one night, and just started making stuff up. Come on, I mean, that Noah's Ark? Be serious. What do you think would happen if you get a couple of loins crammed into a small space with a brace of zebras? Not to mention dogs and cats… and mice as well. Bloody anarchy, that's what you'd have. You need more than a few pints in you for anything like that to make sense. Anyway, I must be off now. I promised the wife a night out on the town. Good-bye, and thanks for listening.'

Friday, December 19, 2008

From The Archive: O, for a draught of vintage

From The Archive is a special Friday feature. It features posts from my earlier (now-deleted) blog: Stuff & Nonsense, and a few items from previous versions of A Tangled Rope, that I feel deserve reprinting here, mainly as a way of archiving them. The dates are only approximate, I’m afraid, and there is a possibility that some links may no longer work (although, I will try to remember to test the links before republishing the piece).

O, for a draught of vintage - 28/09/05

On the BBC News 'Have Your Say' site there is this article: Are young women drinking too much? .

As a brave fearless pontificator about this world and all its woes, I have decided to have my say about this, and in case the BBC doesn't get around to printing my comments, I'm putting them here as well.

Are young women drinking too much?

Well, yes they are. But then - so it seems - young men are too. As someone says in the comments this has always happened - which is certainly true. However, there has been a rather profound change over the least few decades.

This period of overindulgence used to be a mark of adolescence, almost a rite of passage from the teenage years into adulthood. By their early twenties, most people had grown out of this kind of thing. However, these days it seems that the period of adolescence is stretching further and further into the area that used to be regarded as adulthood. People in their late twenties, thirties and even their forties are still behaving like adolescents; overindulgence and binge-drinking are just one aspect of this.

This extension of adolescence into adulthood means that all the old virtues of sobriety, self-improvement, restraint, maturity and, especially, 'settling-down' are derided as old-fashioned. These days there is no need to grow-up, because without those old 'virtues' there is nothing to grow up for. The now universal popular culture with its tabloid mentality and cult of celebrity leads to short-term unreflective hedonism as the 'ideal lifestyle choice'.

Pubs have changed in recent years too, gone are the cosy quiet places where friends could meet and chat around a table with a few drinks - the stereotypical British pub of advert, soap-opera and sit-com. Instead, they have become large drinking sheds with loud aggressive 'music', big crowds and flashy hip and trendy (usually higher-alcohol content) drinks. All this designed to increase consumption and therefore turnover while driving away the older - and wiser - drinkers, leaving the young (and pseudo-young) no idea that there is any other way to drink other than to neck it all as fast as possible.

The new drinks, alco-pops and suchlike, also take away another of the rites of passage of drinking - learning to like the stuff, blurring the distinction between children's drinks (soft drinks) and the grown-ups drinks (alcohol). So another marker on the road to adulthood is lost.

It seems our glorious leader himself is perturbed by these goings on and is busy trying to find some sort of solution to them. Perhaps the next time Blair is posing in front of the Downing Street bedroom mirror with his Stratocaster maybe, just maybe, he ought to wonder if his usual solution; the short-termist, feelgood intellect-lite platitudes that pander to the illusions of those who believe themselves to be the young and groovy (just like him) could just be part of the problem, not the solution.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Is Glimpsed

Here we have nothing to detain us. There is only a place: a place without significance. It is somewhere we pass through on the way to somewhere else. It is passed by almost without noticing it, just used as a way of signifying distance travelled and how far there is still to go.

Of course, people live here, lives go on here just as they go on elsewhere, but we know nothing of these people or the lives they lead, apart from what is glimpsed from the car as we pass through their streets, hardly touching their lives in the same way they hardly touch ours. To us they are nothing more than scenery, part of the background. While, to them, we are just traffic, no different to the other hundreds of vehicles that pass through their day on the way to somewhere else.

It is as if two separate never touching worlds exist: those that stay in place and those that pass through. It is possible for us to meet and for some reaction to occur. We could stop and have some effect on their lives, and them – or some of them – to have some effect on our lives, but we do not. We have no reason to stop and their lives go on without us, like so many other lives in the world around us.

To ourselves we are the centre around which the rest of the universe revolves, but to others we are as insignificant, as unnoticed as the farthest, dimmest star in the most distant galaxy, and just as relevant to them and their lives as that usually invisible star. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big Nanny Is Watching You

Rod Liddle in The Spectator does – I think have a point about

the logical consequence of an agenda driven by the liberal middle-class Left over the past 30 years, in which the common denominator is the yearning for an artificial world which is entirely risk-free.

Maybe artificial isn’t quite the right word though. My increasing distaste for this authoritarian mindset, mainly of the left, but not totally exclusive to it has grown apace over the last 10 years or so. I always used to vote Labour mainly through a real fear of right-wing authoritarianism. Now, though, that fear has been dwarfed by what the Labour party has actually done, leaving me with an even greater fear of the authoritarian left-mindset. This mindset seems to take a perverse delight in taking people’s autonomy away from them, and turning us all into children in the wise and benevolent care of the big-nanny state.

Update: See here for an excellent analysis of this left-wing authoritarianism.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Memory Of Summers

We are not sure how to take this thing in our hands and feel its tremulous heartbeat. It seems such a delicate thing to take out against this world and all its indifference. The cold snow falls all around us and we are here huddled together, hoping for something more than mere warmth.

We have held on to the memory of summers gone, and warmer days lost, while we wait for their return. The darkness folds in upon us with the heavy blankets of the night, the stars become our only points of reference. We are here; and here we must remain, our hands wrapped together around this gift more precious than ourselves; something that will force us to move on out into the world in search of somewhere better. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Poem: Candle Flames And Butterflies

[Every Monday (until I run out of them), I’m posting a poem of mine that has fallen out from the submission process for some reason. In most cases, it will be one where I’ve received no response to my submission for at well over a year or more. Maybe the magazine I submitted them to has folded, the submission was lost in the post, or whatever. So, these poems can be seen as lost, orphans, of uncertain status, or something like that.]

These poems are also posted to ABCTales.

Candle Flames And Butterflies

Would you like to see this thought
start out burning
like the yellow-golden flame
on the white candle,
skittering and stuttering
in the soft breeze drifting
through the open cottage window?

The way the flame will rise up,
leaving the candle behind and below.
Rising up towards the roof-beams
where it will metamorphose
into a red-orange butterfly.
Its wings a steady even shimmer
as dawn lights this dark bedroom.

Then the butterfly turns
towards the new morning
out through the open window
to disappear into the dawn.

Friday, December 12, 2008

From The Archive: The Common Reader

From The Archive is a special Friday feature. It features posts from my earlier (now-deleted) blog: Stuff & Nonsense, some pieces from Little Frigging In The Wold, and a few items from previous versions of A Tangled Rope, that I feel deserve reprinting here, mainly as a way of archiving them. The dates are only approximate, I’m afraid, and there is a possibility that some links may no longer work (although, I will try to remember to test the links before republishing the piece).

The Common Reader – 26/04/2005

With its unerring eye for spotting tired bland truisms, The Independent today notices that the people in charge at the publishing houses don't seem to like - or even understand - book readers.

Well, yes.

It is an old story that the publishing houses once run by amateur(ish) enthusiasts are now run by faceless, heartless, soulless management types who only ever reading the accounts, and then only the bottom line.

What is really pitiful, though, is The Indy's solution to this woeful state of affairs, which boils down to that last desperate act of the brain-dead marketing droid - make reading books cool and trendy!

Now, there is an idea:

For a start, publishers have to think harder about how to reach the hordes of critical consumers of film, TV, internet and pop culture who should be reading books as sharp and savvy as all the shows, sites and bands they adore.

What? What!

It is just that kind of saturation vacuous over-marketing that has led to the current woeful state of popular culture where everything is in its niche and every thing that emerges above the dull background roar of hyper-hype is flogged - in both meanings of the word - to death, if not well into its afterlife.

Film these days is almost invariably a blend of over-used special effects and cliché- riddled tedium - marketed and sold as visual junk food for the easily mollified by the bright and shiny.

TV has become even less engaging as the headlong flight away from intelligent programming has accelerated, descending into an almost total imagination-free zone of lifestyle porn, reality prurience and inane celebrity idolatry.

Pop culture? I'm not sure what Boyd Tonkin) means by that - all of this is pop culture. I suppose he means pop music. Which in itself - including its up-market 'intelligent' sub-genre - rock - has been more or less moribund for so long now, that which is not actually re-release is re-tread, re-hash or re-cycled. If it were an emperor, it would have been arrested for public indecency decades ago.

The internet? Has some good things, a few great things, a lot of rubbish and an incredible ability to waste time. However, it is more the tool than the made object and should really be compared to the library rather than the book.

Rather than marketing down to these people, books should be shown - to everyone, not just the cool (how I loathe that moronic ejaculation) and these trendy-tedious bores that all the broadsheet press has taken to pandering-to and pampering - as a way of escaping, of rising above, this bland media and entertainment landscape of low aspiration spectacle-wank, voyeuristic wallowing in the antics of the inadequate and trite formulaic re-hashing of long worn-out prole-feed.

I suppose that what we could do with is a Jamie Oliver-type character, who will show up current popular culture for the junk-culture that it has become through over-marketing. It is now just like the junk food dished out in school dinning halls. We could do with someone who could reveal that there is something out there that is far healthier for all of us, if only we could be bothered to stop wallowing in the stupefying swill that is poured out for us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nameless Days

All of this exists in a place where time stands as still as the moment when it all began. I do not know what is going to grow from this moment. I do not think this is any season for growing.

The world is retreating inside itself as winter’s fingers creep out from the shadows to grasp everything in their icy grip. The days shrink inside themselves, huddling together against the cold, lost in the mists and fog they stumble around into each other, merging into one long slow memory of dark nameless days stretching out from autumn into spring.

The mornings are dark now and we have trouble escaping our dreams to stumble out into the cold of day. It is not a day though, not until the night has been shrugged off and dawn’ hesitant beginnings are creeping slowly across the skies.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Seasons Of Change And Difference

Newness is what we look for on these mornings that grow darker and colder. It is easy in the spring to find newness growing out of all that surrounds us. It is the season for growth and blooming. Autumn is slower, ripening, more of a falling away than a bursting forth. The season where things slow down, preparing themselves for the privations of the winter.

Still, though, autumn is one of the better seasons as it moves away from the heavy heat of summer towards the sharpness of winter: just as spring too shrugs off the heavy coat of winter to coax new life out of the frozen ground.

Autumn and spring are the seasons of change, and as such are the preferable ones. The other two hang heavy, one with heat and one with cold, seeming to stand still, in stasis, waiting for the seasons of change and movement.

They are the seasons of change and difference taking us forward into the familiarity of the new. 

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday Poem: Ribbon

[Every Monday (until I run out of them), I’m posting a poem of mine that has fallen out from the submission process for some reason. In most cases, it will be one where I’ve received no response to my submission for at well over a year or more. Maybe the magazine I submitted them to has folded, the submission was lost in the post, or whatever. So, these poems can be seen as lost, orphans, of uncertain status, or something like that.]

These poems are also posted to ABCTales.


You wore a blue ribbon,
over white stockings
for your wedding day.

The land opened up in front of us,
spread out towards the horizon.
And you said, how the river
could be a ribbon too.

But rivers are not like ribbons.
Rivers arrange themselves in certain ways.
Ribbons fall and twist over themselves
heaping messily, falling slowly,
chaotically, to the floor.

Like that night when you took my hand,
leading me to your lonely room.

Our clothes fumbled and fell,
heaping where they dropped.
My shirt covering your stockinged feet
as you sat down on the edge of your bed
to unfasten my old leather belt.

You wore a blue ribbon,
over white stockings
for your wedding day.

Look now, over the valley below.
Could we be happy, there,
by the river surrounded by open green?
Far from the cities of our ruined lives.

Look at the village, down by the river,
enfolded inside the enclosing curves.
Where the floods of spring
will offer us the chance
to wash each other clean again.
Washing away all these memories.

You wore a blue ribbon,
over white stockings
for your wedding day.

Friday, December 05, 2008

From The Archive: Health & Safety

From The Archive is a special Friday feature. It features posts from my earlier (now-deleted) blog: Stuff & Nonsense, and a few items from previous versions of A Tangled Rope, that I feel deserve reprinting here, mainly as a way of archiving them. The dates are only approximate, I’m afraid, and there is a possibility that some links may no longer work (although, I will try to remember to test the links before republishing the piece).

Health & Safety - 03/10/2006

The British are supposed to be obsessed with the weather and all its delightful permutations. My own outlook being more akin to the Billy Connolly maxim that 'there is no such thing as bad weather, merely the wrong clothes' means there has been many a time when I have been surprised by the number of folks I see wearing, or doing, something entirely unsuited for the conditions.

It seems to me to be elementary common sense to at least be aware of the weather forecast, but these people I see; either they pay no attention to the forecast, or wilfully ignore it. Both these attitudes are symptomatic of a certain kind of foolishness that, these days, it seems the over-officious 'Health & Safety' culture is trying to protect against. Mostly, it seems to protect people who display this kind of attitude from their own stupidity.

Examples like burglars suing householders for injuries sustained in breaking into their house, people falling through factory roofs retrieving kites, balls or so on regularly feature in articles on this matter. Such things should be met with at most a shrug at most and any attempt to blame someone else for their own stupidity, let alone attempt to extort 'compensation', should only result in the arrest of the perpetrator for being an embarrassment to humanity.

Of course, I'm not saying there aren't legitimate health and safety concerns. There are, undoubtedly, but there does seem to be an endemic creeping bureaucratisation of these areas of legitimate concern which creeps ever onward until what was once preoccupied with legitimate concerns now seems to turn into a sort of parody of itself.

A similar sort of thing is happening in other areas of what might be called 'social legislation'. For much as I would like to see Tony Blair banged up - if only for being a git, if nothing else - I found it strained the bounds of credibility to see the police hounding him for being slightly disparaging about the Welsh.

This sort of meddling attitude seems embedded in the current government, a sort of desire for the micro-legislation of people's lives. It is this mentality, maybe more than their foreign affairs, domestic cock-ups and all else they've done, that has driven me away from Labour. I, only half in jest, call them the Laborg for this reason, a seeming need to absorb everything and everyone into the Laborg hive-mind where all difference is legislated away.

This desire to control, to shape the world into an image of their own making possibly goes some way towards explaining the hopeless naivety of their foreign policy and all its blundering. But then so many of them were heavily into student politics (a long established oxymoron) where naïve foolish but noble-sounding gestures are de rigueur. The problem is when you let people like that get their sweaty little mitts of the levers of power you end up with… well, you end up with what we have now.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Winter Is Coming

The years grow shorter and pass almost in the blink of an eye while the world closes around us, holding us tighter and tighter until there is no chance of escape. There is no free space around us and there is nothing we can do to shrug off how this world holds onto us.

I grow tired and can’t seem to find my way out of this darkness. The winter is coming, bringing the cold and the dark for us to hide inside, away from the world. We live these separate lives far away from each other and unable to touch, bundled up inside our winter lives.

Here, there is only the darkness of the lengthening nights that hold us inside them, huddled against the cold and the dark. We wait for the comfort of warmth and the touch of skin against skin to remind us of the warmth of living, and how it will fight against the all-enveloping cold and dark. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How Long Before

So how long is it before we find the things we have been seeking? How long before the search is over and we discover those things that we know we have been lacking for so long?

All our lives we have felt incomplete, as though there is something missing from us, some phantom limb, some secret knowledge, some quiet understanding of the nature of this world and how our lives shape themselves to fit it, that we feel we have always lacked.

Others we see, on the street and throughout the world, they seem to know something that we don’t, have some understanding that we lack, have some other invisible limb that has a much firmer grasp on this world than we feel we have ever managed. Our grip is so light, tentative, a strong breeze could blow us off this world forever, never being able to reach out again to hold on, watching the world recede into the distance through our tear-filled eyes.

We never – it seems – learnt the easy language of the others who can make sense of this world to themselves and talk easily of it to everyone they meet, as though this universe holds no mysteries for them. It is as though they understand the intricacies of how matter, energy and time bend themselves into this creation, to build everything out of a single instance of less than nothing. 

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Poem: Between Words

[Every Monday (until I run out of them), I’m posting a poem of mine that has fallen out from the submission process for some reason. In most cases, it will be one where I’ve received no response to my submission for at well over a year or more. Maybe the magazine I submitted them to has folded, the submission was lost in the post, or whatever. So, these poems can be seen as lost, orphans, of uncertain status, or something like that.]

These poems are also posted to ABCTales.

Between Words

Her hands took flight and moved to sculpt her words
to give shaped elegance to all she said.
She made each word a frozen moment, held
beyond another wave of moving air.

I heard the silence held between her words,
seeing her careful hands take each new word
and shape it beyond the limitations
of language, giving every word a life
to take across the space between our chairs.

And I? Still I could only sit transfixed
by all these sculptures, as she lined them up
on the still-breathing summer evening air,
before just waving them away like smoke.

She held up those same hands, once more to me
and reaching out to where I waited, still,
to take me deep inside herself. She held
me there, unmoving, as her now still hands
enclosed my face between her gifted palms,
and crossed her long slow legs across my back.
I knew, finally, I was captured then.