Sunday, 6 December 2009


I've just read most of my old blogs, which shows a degree of self-obsession to which I'm probably very frequently inclined. On the other hand, this is what blogging does to you and there would be little point otherwise.

[Other points to note for the day: anchovy sauce, if you can get it, and I don't know where you can, makes an excellent addition to pasta sauce; and this keyboard does not have a backspace key, which might make for some difficulties later on. Editing, and whatnot.]

Other lessons learned today: one should not kill a rat with a knife if you are an Italian celebrity chef, no matter how good a risotto recipe you might have going on in your head, or however many bags of arborio you've tracked and killed in the outback that day.

Other lesson. If you are having pictures quillfashioned of you writing a blog, don't, for ink will be spilled and a whole lot of things will be turned purple.

More some other time.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


For reasons of asking nicely I'm at home without a book to write (failed on that NaNoWriMo thing: something infringed on one weekend then 2500 words an evening after work made me want to jump up and down and do obscene things to characters who already worked in Currys and were Scottish). Being dragged, dragging myself back to this blog is an attempt to wake myself up without jumping at the short-term fix of coffee: I have a bit of a tender stomach after some kind of flu that has been going around and gin, and now I'm sitting wondering where my next fix of spinach is going to come from or even what I'm going to cook it in once I get it. Regardless, words must be typed for only in the fingers comes liberation. The keyboard's softer and spongier than I remember it being, which is no way to have it. The old-timey writers like F. Forsyth prefer typewriters, ones with 'bullet-stopping capability', or somesuch: it gives one the impression that one is hammering the work into the paper with a mechanised chisel-and-mallet. What one creates in this case, presumably, feels more permanent, altogether more edifice-like, sculpted... and the kind of thing that bloggers or twitters ping out on their spring-dampened, backlit'n'glowing Macbooks is by contrast flimsy and apt to be swept away by the next gust that happens by.

Well the damn thing can blow away for all I care. That stifling sensation that everything I write (or, even, perhaps, on bad days, do) forms some kind of unalterable canon of work that will be frowned upon by scholars at some point and deemed utterly unworthy, for all the fleeting bits of interest. Having not thought about anything for two years the task of doing it again proves arduous beyond contemplation. I have spent an hour now looking at Masters programmes, wondering what on earth to study (choose: European Studies, Contemporary European Studies, European Cultural Studies, European Thought), and then wondering how on earth, given the fact that I can't think any of this or organise toffee into a lump, how I'm to convince anyone that I'm capable of anything. And therefore I'm not.

That is a rant over and now I'm going to bitch about Bagpuss, who is living -- I don't doubt -- a life of absolute Parisian bliss, hunched over his little gramophone twittering out old Duke Ellington records from 1926 and wondering whether that period of inter-war gluttony (for the landed gentry, at least) has, indeed, come to an end. I hear he has moved to onto cheroots. Suffice to say he has got himself a job, renting out his legs and hands to a man with lots of boxes to move and no legs and hands of his own. It pays in whisky, which he sells on the corner of rue ----- and pont des ----- at a time when all the normal people are at Bastille market in search of vitamins, though probably he reserves a small squat tumbler to drink before his evening bath. The fellow is most evidently alive.

I discover all this through the medium of the post-card, an old turn-of-the-century affair by someone who fetishises cats by way of marketing. Written on the back was nothing save my address and a 'FROM BAGPUSS'. But one can, of course, extrapolate. There was a point when he posted me the inside sleave from a pirated copy of Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk, by which I was to understand that he had taken to learning German, begun translating the Threepenny Opera into an altogether more fashionable and vibrant and modern work, and was probably half way to Berlin, sitting in a late-night café, Vienna, dashing back, Dusseldorf, talking to Iggy Pop and David Bowie. One can assume a lot from Bagpuss's limited communications. This is presumably why he feels the need to do so little of it.

So, in conclusion, I can conclude that we are both alive ("On sait qu'on existe quand on veut des épinards...").

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Pt. 1

He lays down nailed to the bed. His brown jacket is skewered through the shoulders with shards of silver and iron, hammered hard and deep through the mattress and six inches into the wood beneath. His trousers are torn at the bottom- the legacy of a hundred mile cobbling – but they still have enough material about them to be pinned down and not tear. The pillows of normal sleep are gone and he lifts his head up with flagging neck muscles for several seconds to look at the television in the corner of the room. He closes his eyes for a second, wracks his face with the scowl of liberal anger and then lets his head fall back upon the mattress.

He hums a tune, the first three bars of the Marseillaise; then he stops and reconsiders; – when he resumes it is the rousing bit of Jerusalem – “Nor will my sword rest in my hand”; he whistles it a semitone flat but the melody is recognisable all the same. He stops before ‘these satanic mills’ and concluded with the refrain to My Old Man’s A Dustman. He wears a dustman’s hat.

His wrists, too, are pinned down with spikes through the cuffholes; – but the wrists are still granted the freedom of an inch, and so he takes the liberty of a drumroll, flapping each hand down hard onto the mattress. The mattress has a pleasing resonance; he turns his head and places one ear into the sheets, content to listen in on the wake of his drumming. He vocalises three taps to the high hat by way of a finale. He lives in a council flat.

In the quiet that followed I made out the sounds of I-know-not-what through the glass and the shutters and the curtains.

I look down from the ceiling.

“Why are you nailed to the bed,” I ask.

Around his left wrist is a watch, which he tries to raise from time to time out of compulsion; – but of course his arm is pinned and he can’t see. I make it something like four in the afternoon, but decide he doesn’t want to know. His hand reaches instead to the remote control two inches to the left of his right hand, and he flips from one channel to another. He settles on yesterday’s news on repeat and mimes along to the home affairs correspondent.

“Why are you glued to the ceiling,” he asks after some while.

“No choice of my own,” I reply. “Why are you nailed to the bed.”

“I have this dystopian vision,” he says. “Yesterday Afternoon I sat outside, back turned to the tennis, watching people meander past as if they had somewhere to be all of a sudden. I was still and calm, thoroughly engrossed with an automatic pencil and my notebook. – And then I just want to run after them. Across the street there was a motley gang with t-shirts and a banner that read Jews For Jesus; and I wanted to follow them too, and consult deeply and ask what in the world they meant by it all. And then to round it all off I found myself in front of the tennis watching a set or two.

“As I said, I have this dystopian vision. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be free to act it all out in one go.”

He lays back again and whistles another tune, God Save The Queen, infernal majesty, but angular and jauntily, this time sharp and piercing and deeply irritating.

“Dystopian vision? – those are words you got from a book,” I said.

“Yes they are but that’s even more the sharp end of the matter.”

Sunday, 29 March 2009


Trying to find something to puncture up through this plateau, add a little colour to the place. Imagine a moor -- are you thinking of it? -- heather twined together, looking purple on top but tangled and impenetrable down to their roots; add a slight breeze, and clouds overhead. Imagine a bird, just one, bellowing as it disappears. Hold that thought in your mind. Now just wait and imagine the person that will come up -- wait for them, the inevitable -- and they will say something like, "It's so quiet here it's noisy." Then, as you are only imagining, you won't feel any guilt about kicking them in the teeth for being so downsighted and glib.

Unfortunately both you and the imaginary person are correct, and this is the peril of a Sunday afternoon. Kick. Teeth. Won't happen again.

Observations for the day:
- Typing, however ferocious, is not real exercise.
- No one person has enough to fill up a blog, unless they dig up all their shameless thoughts or effect a mode of hyperactivity: "Man I did three skydives today and it was like... woosh!... the first time, wind parting my hair into some wholly new style that could definitely become all the rage. And, and, dude, can you think how liberating it is, just to be falling, not held up by anything, man but still totally fixed for a few minutes. I don't believe in God but that was a gift from gravity! ... ... ... The next two jumps were, like, quite ace too. We, like, shouted something different when we jumped out. Honestly how clichéd is Geronimo!?"
- Missing the working week when it is only hours away proves I have a sad existence, but at least I'm not living for the weekend (otherwise I'd have to kick myself in the teeth).

If I go to watch an Italian film on my own that will be fine. That will take up time unspendable, until I can use up the whole week and then go to London.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


There has been no reply from Bagpuss. It is a wait seemingly interminable, but which folds down conveniently into a space no bigger than a rolled-up cagoule. Needless to say I crave attention for my blog, even if it must be in the form of personal abuse. There was a time in Paris where he was to meet me for drinks, and then didn't. When he eventually sent me a telegram it was an intellectual contrivance far beyond my means or drug-intake to understand, and so I took it as abuse.

There are times, my dear, when things do not turn out as planned; grandest ambitions for pastis over our beloved Seine bridge round about sunset (what shite, what were you thinking?). So rent usunder like Stanley & Livingstone in that putrid novel of yours we are. I have been drinking, but I do have your copy of Naked Lunch. Stole it. Fuck off. Telegram!

This was very much his style back then, even if I have just paraphrased it off the top of my head. So yes, I am teaching myself not to be overambitious, particularly where bizarre twisted hopes are dependent on someone else. My putrid novel continues to astonish me (I read back over the last thirty pages today): Dr Johnson had a thing about cats, I learnt, and so now they will appear in every scene. That aside, there are minor gaps to paste over and the words THE END to write in capital letters, just like that.

The weather continues to be indifferent, mooching. One of these days we shall come to blows, and I'll joust him with my titanium umbrella.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The queen is dead boys

Good morning humanity. I have deemed all those people caught up in the fad of microblogging to be too smug by half. I cannot condense myself down like the glorious drippings of beef and red wine and the noble triumvirate of stock vegetables and then drizzle. And so I am restarting my blog, worrying less about pictures and more about the spelling. My old blog is called oculardexerity, because it is only a word I normally type sixteen times a day, so the once my spelling of it needed to be right, it wasn't.

In other news, Bagpuss is dead.

I did him in.

He came round one evening in Paris, gillswigging the ol' Vieux Papes and half a gauloise hanging off his lips. That dropped and set fire to the carpet. Then he made himself an omlette. I fled the country, with nothing to defend my honour save a kitchen knife wrapped in our finest tea-towel.

So he is dead: "He was found out?" "Yes, the doctors found out the Bunbury couldn't live, so Bunbury died." He is in Paris somewhere, I don't doubt. So far I have had a postcard and an e-mail and a Facebook message, the last of which told me to fuck off.

I will post him the link to this blog. If he can resist replying, that means he is actually dead.

Today I was stuck on a bus, the smallest in the world. I sat talking to Dante, who rated it highly -- or lowly -- especially when his iPod ran out. Dante is a sucker for twee indie pop. Camera Obscura occupies the third cirlce of hell. For tea there was monkfish. I christened him Thelonius, then had him with potatoes and mange tout. I did.

Wind is in the west, a barometer gives no accurate indication of my mood, and the music is Grizzly Bear. I have only heard the new album, not stolen it.