Friday, 2 October 2009


Been out on the road, up and down the highway, over the Fiord of Forth, down The Great North Road, went in to see the Jarrow monastery and the ghost of Bede but it was Bedeworld, honest, with guides and everything, Bedeworld, like Cadburyworld, so travelled on, unshriven by ancestral, Holy MotherBloggers, steering through the coned-off, dug-up, fucked-up, contra-flowed wasteland of the nation's major motorway - Fuck Me, Jesus, Hitler did better than this - and fetched up, across the M 42, in Birmingham's noisy cityscapes, lazy cops and busy hookers and strange, alienated Asian lads; car alarms screeching pointlessly, through the wee small hours, friends living in semis and terraces if not gated, then triple locked, alarmed, bolted and barricaded, gated-in-the-mind, tiny gardens overplanted against the endless traffic noise and the air of urban menace; family streets and parks now obstacle courses of threat and filth and vandalism, people living around the park rise every day early and go and pick up broken bottles and dogshit, knowing that the next morning it'll be there again but unprepared yet to abandon all the dead city fathers' work to Ruin. A density of population which most must share but I don't, Have Mercy, I Cry, City; maybe up until the point when you have to flee it's ok, I always loved the city - where would we be without the city? - and then one day I hated it. Now I can take it or leave it but mostly leave it, admiring those still bustling through its jampacked pavements, rarely colliding with others equally hellbent on whatever it is.

Funny how the TV News is a home thing and on the road you abandon such; one morning walking Buster round Sauchiehall Street's stepped and railed, still elegant tenements, waiting for Kelvingrove to open its massive oaken doors, the next in a dreamy Highland hotel, the sort built in the nineteenth century for English visitors and with a roaring, three hundred feet waterfall crashing down one of the encircling mountains, well, the absence of the News niggles but is overwhelmed by a Who-Fucking-Caresness. C'mon, now, who does fucking care, outside we lonesome obsessives? On the other hand, though, I checked in when I could and watching my dog, Buster, so did he; any opportunity to get on the worldwide urine web and he was there, pissing for all he was worth, sniffing and snorting and lifting his leg; messages everywhere from invisible members of a urine community; any city, any service station, any glen or hillside, the dog web is universal high traffic. Whatever the alternatives to watching TV were, for both of us, we chose them and didn't immediately see that Brown-Boulton jamboree. Buster still hasn't.

Thanks to Mr Swiss Bob, though, I have now watched it all and I must say that it wasn't the worst Brown interview ever to soon stalk Posterity's digital vaults. I did find it startling and irritating that Boulton was putting to Snot - re Afghanistan - stuff that we have been saying here for months, years, without the benefit of skymadeupnewsandfilth's resources and on-the-ground and in-the-air coverage of events. The both of them, Snot and Fatman, were dribbling out bits of information and opinion which they considered effective or timely, neither veering within a continent of the truth. It's what they do. No business like show business. Brown listed the things he had mentioned the previous day and thus Dealt With, the impudent fucking one-eyed gibbering lunatic jackanapes. Yesterday I Dealt With Teenage SingleMothers. Fatman had, only a short time ago, praised Brown for the way he similarly Dealt With a Glasgow attempted bombing - which was dealt with long before Brown knew about it - and an outbreak of some animal plague or other which was dealt with by the fucking vets and the floods which were dealt with by the magnificent professionalism of our magnificent emergency services to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude, only not, Mr Deputy Speaker, when it comes to paying them even half of an MP's salary and at which point, when they start asking for that, they become the enemy within. Brown's record of actually dealing with things is that everything he touches turns to shit. Fatman, along with all the journos had, for ten years, praisesung Brown's expert stewardship in Ruining the economy and burning all the fucking money. Two tossers then, our lives and our money their playground, who gives a fuck what happens on the Adam Boulton interview ? Each achingly superior to anyone meagre and stupid enough to be watching them, instead of knowing them, dining with them, holidaying with them, MediaMinster uber Alles. Vehicles in Afghanistan? Oh, yes we did.....Oh, no, you didn't. So fucking what, they're dead now, the blokes wot shouldn't never a bin there. And no credit to them on the green benches wot sent 'em nor to the rabble in the press gallery wot now mourns 'em, at their proprietor's instruction, when once 'e cheered em on, from his salon, his yacht. Utter unspeakable cunts the pair of them, Brown and Boulton; to watch either conceited arrogant worthless bastard sparring over Tommy is dispiriting; the suggestion, made, regrettably, by folk who should know better, that Boulton's volte face is anything other than a business calculation by Rupert Corpse Murdoch, prop., skymadeupnewsandfilth, is a complicity with Ruin.

Rumours abound of lines of marital or common-law connectivity between le Palais Brun and MediaCentraville, so-and-so's banging so-and-so's wife, somebody's sister is married to somebody's son and they've all banged some double-barrelled scrubber with a by-line at the Telegraph, all their nieces go to nightclubs with Andrew Neil and there did seem to be a weary famille-iarity between Snotty and Fatty, albeit one tinged and eventually suffused by the jaundice yellow of gutter journaliste betrayal; no man can serve two masters, Fatman, Drop The Dead Donkey made real, can serve but NewsCorp. Smug and irritating and pointless Boulton is, just like Beardy Kavanagh and the rest, a media whore, no real danger as long as you keep him in his place. Toilets Maguire, Michael Kneepads White, these people are professional, tell-tale cocksuckers, spit-out the gossip with the ejaculate. The danger of Brown, though, is that he is so utterly, dishonestly, habitually, relentlessly, insanely revolting that he makes those equally revolting, such as Osblow and Cameron, lesser. There are no victors here, from this telly tiff, least of all us. If anyone can show me any significant intellectual, moral or ethical difference between, say, Brown and Cameron or May and Harman I will pay close attention to their instruction but I would counsel, in return, that merely because Gordon Brown is a deranged gibbering lunatic now denuded of such political power as he once wielded and thus more vulnerable to media mischief does not make a capable leader of his principal opponent. The danger of blogging this as some sort of victory is that it will lead to an even greater loss.

At Mr Swiss Bob's Daily Politics a Mr My Personal Blog dissects Brown's Boulton performance as though his cack-handedness his bullying and his contempt for the viewer were novelty, though what he does has ever been done by the gabshites of Power, is a criticism applicable to all in the filthy trade of politics, there is nothing new in Mr Snot's brushing aside a question in favour of ranting on more favourable turf; does anyone here criticising Brown imagine that Thatcher, just for instance, did not display - and does not now suffer from - delusions of I Know Best grandeur? Didn't she go as far as calling people naughty boys, speak of herself in the third person, in the royal we, didn't the mad old bastard tie a hankie, disapprovingly, over the tail of a model aircraft? No use saying that the poisonous embittered crow remade the country for the better, she's the cause, remember, of all this money-makes-the-world-go-round NewLabour shit.

It simply won't do to say, Oh Fuck Me, the prime minister is bonkers, let's change him for another one; they're all fucking bonkers.

In the light of the so-called expenses so-called scandal the natural justice to emerge would be that few, if any of these fucking horrible thieving degenerate bastards would survive an election, that parliament would ring soon with the voices of non-careerist, time-limited, averagely-salaried ordinary people. But Oh, fuck me, that would never do, what do ordinary people know. It's better, the media has judged, that Tommy spills his guts that Alan Duncan may continue to enjoy free gardening. It is better, the media has judged, that all the blame be lanced like a boil, with the removal of mad, old, gibbering, old, nancyboy Brown. And that we get back to normal. The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God - or in this case, Mr Murdoch -made them high or lowly and ordered their estate.

To focus on Gordon Snot, vile as he is, is to miss the point. Didn't even David Cameron, throughout Brown's mad Ruinous neglect of our futures, sing Brown's praises; how dare he now offer his own as a better judgement? We should make no mistake, we are all to be punished for failing our leaders so badly. And it doesn't matter to them who plays King of the Castle in Downing Street. We should not permit a slow media crucifixion of this sick old mutant to divert our gaze from the new scourges which Cameron's coke-snorting bullyboys and ghastly Spelman girls now prepare for our backs. The cry should not be Down With Brown but Up Against The Wall, Motherfuckers.


Swiss Bob said...

The other thing you probably missed is that a Mr Tony B;air is shortly to become El Presidente as long as the Paddies vote yes, it also means Slotgob becomes First Lady of Europe. It's the Hapsburgs all over again.

call me ishmael said...

Maybe somebody'll arrest him. Thanks for that and goodnight. Or is it, in your case good morning?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr Ishmael: you certainly have a talent for sweeping aside the bullshit and exposing the putrefaction that lies so-deceitfully buried.

The task you seem to have set yourself is to record the destruction of something: 'The Chronicles of Ruin'. It is not difficult, I think, to understand what you regard as the signs of that destruction; it is less clear what you think is being, or has been, destroyed. Was there a time when things were at a forking point, and, somehow, we took the wrong route? Or was there, extant, a passably-civilised society that has since become corrupt? A third possibility, I suppose, is that what is in ruins is the idea of a state that never could have been.

I write these things (I mean this, and previous, comments) in a style that, I believe, might give the impression that I care. It may even seem to the passerby who has nothing better to do than read them that I think there could, even at this minute-to-midnight, be a remedy, a change of course toward a brighter star. I do not.

It is only the people of this country, this continent, and this world, in angry mass, who have any hope of strangling the bastard child of Wealth and Power who, twice the size of God, can inflict terror merely by adjusting his shadow. But the people, even those enraged at the abuse, look to their families, their friends, their trembling selves, and choose to hope that things, counter to every possible sign, don't get too bad.

And that is why, sometimes at least, I am sure that I really do not care. How many of us are like you? The answer is, and always will be, not enough. In the wider view of history, which contains a glimpse of the future, there is nothing to care about. We are already dead.

Caractacus said...

Reading your Chronicles of Ruin is always interesting, Mr. Ishmael, and seldom do I find myself in disagreement. This latest piece is no exception. However, I wonder what part (if any) you and others here have played - or perhaps not played - in Ruin itself. Brown, Blair, Cameron, the MSM et al are the easy targets. Are we not all, in some small part, responsible for ruin? I may not have the exact details correct, but was there not one reader here, a while back, who inferred that he had rejected a chance to commercially benefit from a defense contract because it would have been morally corrupt. That to me is admirable.

To my mind you are an exceptionally talented (and thankfully modest) writer. Do you think you could not have done more in the past to try and slow the tide of ruin?

call me ishmael said...

I am a man of constant sorrow. mr caractacus, I've seen trouble all my days, I cannot always be flagellating myself, that would be tedious and others have done enough of it but do you never detect the self-reproach apparent in my caricatures of the grammar school totalitarianistes nouvelle; the ageing rock'n'rollers, man, listening to the Money Programme that they might wring another farthing out of their pensions, those Mr Edgar carefully describes -

"...the people, even those enraged at the abuse, look to their families, their friends, their trembling selves, and choose to hope that things, counter to every possible sign, don't get too bad."

We concentrate here, though, on Power, against whose sins Everyman's, including my own, even those you hint at, of omission, are negligible.

I think it was mr mongoose who declined the poisoned chalice contract and good for him, he is passionate and angry but here we do not record our own attempted good works, others in this dimension can do that until their ambitious hearts grow full and burst with pride; here are merely commentaries on bitter tribulation, their confessional nature, I had hoped, as apparent and equivalent to their vitriol.

PT Barnum said...

I am relieved, Mr Ishmael, that you have returned to post, as your prolonged silence had become a cause of concern to me.

I am puzzled that you are being challenged on a record of not having done more to prevent the stealthy corrosion of all and anything that could be deemed humane, cultured, civil. Does this not smack of shooting the messenger?

If one finds a tendency in one character's to care, it is generally accompanied by a level of faith that decency will, eventually, partially, win the day. If I care, then I will assume that others do as well, which ought to mean that not all of us will be climbing into the handbasket on its journey to hell.

In the life of an individual, as opposed to the life of a culture, it takes repeated experiences of brutalised hope to discover that most care only for the moment, their most immediate gratifications of appetite and self-preservation. Arriving at that point of recognising the slummy pleasures and shoddy minds of the majority is a thing to be resisted, but having reached it one may either howl for ever or take what gratification one may from documenting the reality which is so systematically shielded from us lest we despair and revolt.

Anonymous said...

Mr Barnum makes an interesting point. No-one seriously doubts that there are people who bitterly resent the powers, whatever they be, that are, it seems, dragging us towards a terrible darkness. Those are people who do care. Thousands, millions of them. But it is the very fact that they care that makes them almost useless in resistance against the dark tide. They are the ones who will hesitate at precisely the wrong moment; they are the ones who will see in the enemy the remnant of humanity and fall victim to the assassin 'pity'; they are the ones who will be so repelled by the thought of their own unleashed beast that they will die rather than kill.

We need rather less indiscriminate caring, I think, Mr Barnum. If ever I thought about it in my youth, I think I would have believed the sound of executions intolerable. In later years, I see no other means of halting what amounts to global enslavement. "Up Against The Wall, Motherfuckers."? For some ... yes.

call me ishmael said...

That death penalty as necessary Damascene conversion assails us all. Mr Edgar; that is how truly wicked are the likes of the grinning Blairs, that normal people would find grim comfort in their hanging, broken and befouled, from a felon's gibbet.

wacky woodpecker (fixated beak assessment centre) said...

good to see you made a successful escape, mr ishmael. i know, from experience, that it can be quite a chore to type whilst secured in a strait-jacket, and your nose must be extremely sore now?

Mrs B said...

Welcome back Mr Ishmael. It’s a good job you only went away for a few days - any longer and you could have overloaded on venom and self-destructed! Hope you had a relaxing break. And yes I agree, everyone’s a cunt. Any good ideas or remedies?

Anonymous said...

Mrs B. A starting point for remedies might be if you took a moment to think for yourself. Shall we wait for you to catch up?

A young Lithuanian said...

'Birmingham's noisy cityscapes, lazy cops and busy hookers and strange, alienated Asian lads; car alarms screeching pointlessly, through the wee small hours, friends living in semis and terraces if not gated, then triple locked, alarmed, bolted and barricaded, gated-in-the-mind, tiny gardens overplanted against the endless traffic noise and the air of urban menace.'

I have lived this, too Mr I. What is it about the English/British that we do not know how to live well and elegantly even on a little?

That town life is now so mean and limited, a swirling horror of nearly-new Nissans, supermarket cafe for me dinner, afternoon telly, early tea, curtains closed before Corrie, Porch doors locked and inner doors too.

It is the price of land and authorities inability to insist that ordinary houses are not either concrete concentration camps or UPVC forts of unimaginably miserly construction.

And the scope of working classes, crushed by far left teaching unions and their hatred of the real world, much better to encourage the child in his own interests as shallow and misspelt as they may be.

Look forward to a poxy newbuild box, priced at two local salaries ensuring family life will become a living hell of shift patterns, nurseries for the under twos, granny filing in, a Renault Scenic on tick. No space no time no peace and no fucking chance for the kids.

Take refuge in the 330ml 'glass' of wine, X-factor, Celebrity Come Fucking America's Next Top F-word Relocated. Gaze like a loon at Masterchef while never venturing beyond cheap Chicken Kiev and microwaved potato sludge.

Plastic houses, cars, food and lives. Anyway, were you goin' for yer holidays?

lilith said...

I have had a Damascene conversion. Syria is wonderful, but don't tell everyone as we don't want it spoiled by stag parties. I will be far less worried about leaving my little girl here than I would be to leave her in Birmingham or Brussels.

Yesterday I was invited into a little hole in the wall shop to share strong sweet coffee with an old man with slightly more English than I have Arabic. He thought it a disgrace that I have only one child, a daughter at that, and didn't keep reproducing until I got at least one boy. Reassuringly he told me that at 45, by local standards, I still have plenty of time :-)

Consider this a little postcard, Mr Smith.

Love Lil x

lilith said...

PS. Calfy has started a blog with some pics, here

mongoose said...

Ain't no use jivin', ain't no use jokin'.

mongoose said...

And there is no great virtue, Mr Ishmael, in a lack of vice. We do not shit in the sink because we are not savages. We do not drug and sodomise little girls a quarter of our age for the same reason - however artistically valid, and laden with an unintentional irony that would make a stone weep, however artistically valid our assault can be painted a quarter of a century later.

Moral relativism seeps from every pore of the modern body public. "Oh, it was a long time ago and did you see his latest. And wasn't what Manson did to him horrible. The poor love." If anyone doubts this, imagine if you will that it was your thirteen-year-old daughter. There. See? Up against the wall, motherfucker, indeed.

call me ishmael said...

Syria, eh, not far, then, from the cradle of civilisation, recently modernised by Shock and Awe. Thanks, Lilith, I'll keep it with mine.

Take a deep breath, feel like you're choking for there is a coterie, a guild, isn't there, of these people, mr mongoose, living dishonestly outside the law, protected by their Art. A decent prime minister or a grown-up foreign secretary would've had the Frog ambassador for breakfast after M'sieu le culture secretary's fellation of the child molester, Polansky.

I always shrank from the dwarf, Woody Allen, when other, artier people proclaimed his self-obsessed genius; now that I'm an artier people myself and piss on Paul Morley and Kirsty Wark I revel in their unavoidable acceptance, their celebration of this horrid little cunt actually marrying his step-adoptive daughter.

While away, prompted by Mr The Dyers Garden's classical erudition, I tried Plato's Symposium and I must say I found it much like Manhattan, only with slaves. I will persevere.

The Dyer's Garden said...

Dos Passos & Plato? Is this a new game? Aristotle & DH Lawrence?

wacky wordpecker said...


peckapeckapeckapeckapeckapecka peckapeckapeckapecka peckapeckapecka peckapeckapecka peckapeckapecka peckapeckapeckapecka peckapecka

mongoose said...

As soon as a child is not a child but a plaything, a lifestyle choice, an accessory to the main event - which is Me - well, then one is, as they say, fucked for sure. Mr Allen and his deluded, mad-as-a-snake, pretend woman, Ms Farrow adopt a little yellow baby for the greater glory of their Liberal credentials. If it's not a real daughter but a bauble for the CV, well, why not fuck it, eh? Where's the harm? It's not as she has any real feelings one way or the other. And if it all goes tits up we can always turn it into a little film and make a few quid. Irony, did I say, irony? That's yiddish for nasty, little nonce.

mongoose said...

And it turns out that the despicable little cunt is visiting this horror on to some new pretend children...

"Allen and Previn [snip] adopted two daughters, naming them Bechet and Manzie after jazz musicians Sidney Bechet and Manzie Johnson."

You see? Not real children with real names. May as well have called them Pinky and Perky.
I didn't know his name indeed. The horrible, horrible little bastard.

call me ishmael said...

The nerve of some people, eh, sometimes a man can't do right for doing wrong, every tine you turn around there's another hard luck story that you're gonna hear. I set out from the cold in the North heading for the Badlands of England, pausing only to grab my unread copy of Plato's Symposium, that I might read it in honour of our resident gadfly, Mr The Dyer's Garden, which is probably compliment greater than he pays me on his holidays and look at my reward - "Is this some new game?" and me not even knowing there were any old games played here. Were I a sentimental man I'd probably drink Hemlock and die, which, en passant, is an inclination growing stronger with every word I hear from Dave Everybody-Is-A-Nazi-In-His-Youth Cameron. Cameron may well have been an utter cunt, he admits, but now, well, just look, he demands, at how he's changed the Tory Party from being a gang of over-privileged, unaccountable, sticky-fingered, redneck degenerates into a body of such integrity that few of them figure on the register of expenses scandalees, few of them, apart from most of them, that is, including himself.

Or, as Socrates might have said, Oi, you fucking Tory bastard, it would be very nice if wisdom flowed like water, by contact, out of a person who has more, into one, like you, who has less but in your case there's no fucking chance of you ever knowing your arse from a hole in the ground.

There is a man at Mr Swiss Bob's who accuses me of being blinded by my antipathy just because I think, quite properly, that David Starkey is an obnoxious cunt no matter what he says about politicians, and here, in my own cloisters, as it were, Mr TDG belittles my scholarship.

They will all miss me when the purges start, as reptiles like Gove, the spiteful, spit-flecked, little gabshite, egged-on by the great LadyWhale Heffer, begin their customary assault on the poor, on behalf of the rich; let them trade antipathies and scorn, then, 'til their hearts' content.

Next time it'll be Mr verge's recommendation of the complete dirty works of William Burroughs and bollocks to the Classics.

call me ishmael said...

I think that people who call defenceless children Chardonnay and suchlike, much less Bechet and that other dude, should be put in the stocks, along with Gerry and Cilla McCann. And lots of other people, too.

A young Lithuanian said...

Mr I

I might assume that you are a Scottish. If so, please explain the red mist that descends when the Scottish see no more than a picture of Tory, even a Tory with a pronounced Scotch accent?

Did Scotland not reveal its weakness in May 1979, when it swung against The Lady, declaring on the government of Mrs T, before the Grantham goddess had even set foot in Downing Street?

What, as they say in North Britain, 'is yer fuckin' problem?'

Surely the Tory Cunts cannot be a tenth as bad as the putrified evil of Scottish Labour party?

Surely you do not wish to spend the next 8 years behind the Wall, weeping and renting your garments and blaming it on Gove's Swedish schools (England and Wales only)?

Will you spend time at the door of Queen Kirsty making offerings of firewood, so that her salon remains warm enough for the McAristocracy to plan its second raid on Whitehall. So they might again sieze back the commanding heights of government, all the better to fuck up the economy, rob the pensions and invent another 3000 laws, all of which have the reverse effect to the declared intention?

Maggie may have refused to prop up the Shipyards and let the Linwood factory rot like the shit heaps it hammered together, but she never got anywhere near Brown's utter smashing of the country's ability to pay its inflated bills.

Do we want, Mr I, to spend years listening to Scots queing on up on the Today programme, crying cuts! - a Scottish cut, of course, being the refusal to borrow money for an indefinite period.

call me ishmael said...

I am as Scottish as I choose to be Mr lithuania which normally isn't very much but, say, following the trails of the children of the mist along the road to the Isles by Trummel and Loch Rannock and Lochaber, is huge and all consuming; I am most of the time as English as I choose to be and I hold, with rather more legitimacy than does the proprietor of the PizzaHouseOfBlood, an Irish passport, having been born in that benighted shithole of whining Momma's boys; gay, ginger torturers; sourfaced Presbyterian undertakers and noncing monsignors. My parents were Anglo-Ulster-Scots, my distant sires Norsemen, your presumption therefore is only partly true as are, threfore the assumptions drawn from it. I suppose that, like yourself and most here, I am a child of the Union, although not necessarily a Unionist as the term has come to be perjoratively applied by Sir Alec and the Tribesmen.

You have been kind enough to read sufficient of this stuff to know that we detest the career politician - whatever his or her spuriously claimed ideology -believing that a successful, lucrative career and honest public service are mutually exclusive, they are thus, all of them, cunts, the THatcherites of fond remembrance no less so than the Brown Blair Mandelson coup which hijacked what remained of what had been in part the labour movement against capital but had become a lifestyle option for the likes of Harman.

As for declaring (war) on the Lady, call it a pre-emptive strike; is anyone still rpiud of the role opf Thatcher's overtime-happy police during the miners' strike; does Scargill's obdurate vanity justify police brutality on a massive scale, any more than does Brown's facetious wish to house the G howevermany it is justify current levels of police brutality?

Kirsty Wark's blessings from the BBC are disgraceful but no worse than those given Paxman, Humphreys, Ross, hundreds of the fuckers - the BBC is not flawed just because of it Jock Mafia now, is it?

Finally and in haste although I am sure we will return to this, of course the Tories can be worse and they will be worse, they have someone to blame for what they would do instinctively anyway; to des[ise Brown and blair and their masters and stooges does not automatically signal approval of Cameron and his wretched gang of public schoolboys

P.T. Barnum said...

"To despise Brown and blair and their masters and stooges does not automatically signal approval of Cameron and his wretched gang of public schoolboys."

Pre-cisely incisive.

We, the chafed and raging electorate, are sold a binary which is illusory anyway (big-endians vs little-endians but still arguing about boiled eggs) when we need to be arguing about baked beans, tomatoes and sausages.

Forget Burroughs and Plato. Read Swift.

The Dyer's Garden said...

...pausing only to grab my unread copy of Plato's Symposium, that I might read it in honour of our resident gadfly, Mr The Dyer's Garden, which is probably compliment greater than he pays me on his holidays...

Well, I would return it but you never give us an (explicit) indication of your influences, besides Zen and the fucking art of recycled insolence. Maybe we could have a "Mr Smith Reader" - 20 titles to read before everyone ceases to care whether you are alive or dead.

call me ishmael said...

You do know, Mr TDG, that even in times of hiatus the response here to comments is longer, often, than the the post itself; your slight, therefore, that output has waned a little recently due to non-virtual commitments, is unkind and unfucking reasonable. I was looking, further, at some of the Uncle Sam stuff, reposted over at Mr Swiss Bob's and fuck me, it is enormous, you shouldn't chide me for lack of industry.

As for influences, well, as far as book-learnin' goes, I have often cited the Bible of Good King James and various chunks of Shakespeare as well as making pastiche of Mr Kipling and republishing in toto at least a couple of well-known English poems; the pictures and the music and the buildings speak for themselves. Save readers' comments, there is nothing whatsoever which, alone, informs this column, although inevitably much of it will resonate personally with readers of a certain generation, there is a whole slew of touchstones or, as I used to put it, describing the masons, knowing whispers and secret handshakes.

The Dyer's Garden said...

You know I encourage your non-virtual commitments, Mr Smith; what I meant was the things you have read and we have not, but ought to have. The Bible, Shakespeare, etc is common ground.

Verge said...

Dear Mr Ish, not the complete works, too much neuralgic experimentalism, but certainly Roosevelt After Inauguration (pamphlet-size), Junkie, Exterminator! (if only for the sublime short story "The Priest They Called Him") The Adding Machine (essays/reviews) & "Cities of the Red Night." And if anyone has YouTubed the old bugger reading (deadpan) the Sermon on the Mount, give your speakers a treat.

call me ishmael said...

The trouble is, Mr TDG, that there is probably little, if anything, which I have read and you have not.

I remember reading John Fowles saying in The Magus Why on Earth should I wade through hundreds of pages of fiction maybe to find one little fragment that I hadn't already thought for myself; it didn't entirely put me off fiction but I do find story books trying.

Prior to that, amongst all the other stuff, I had read a good deal of British science fiction - although that is not a good genre description - and some American. A Canticle For Liebowitz by Walter Miller Jnr., if you can find it, would please and unsettle you and I always marvelled at the vast structure of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy.

Thanks, I will go, Mr Verge, now and seek that very thing; a romantic anarchist, I love that Sermon On The Mount shit.

call me ishmael said...

Sermon on the Mount, William Burroughs, a fragment.

mongoose said...

Which old bugger, Mr Verge? Roosevelt? I shall look.

But it isn't the specific, the 50 books to read before you die, that define whatever it is some of you maybe seek to define. I dare to say that it isn't even the Shakespeare left unread, or the Plato cast into the fire. It is all much more random and rounded than that. It's the music and the films, the majesty of numbers and dead old Feynman ranting away over at Project Tuva. (For numbers, try 216, btw. It will knock your socks off. How can that be? "But don't try to understand it. Just accept that this is the reality of nature.")

Damn it, I'll give you one. One can still buy, for instance, Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man" on DVD. Fifty quid or whatever and thirteen hours of anyone's life well spent. To understand how we got here. How these things fir together and inform one another. The damn thing should be broadcast on a loop. The music of the spheres, indeed. But buy it don't steal it. And buy it for your children too.

The point is to have read some bloody things or to have listened to some or looked at some. It's to have taken something from some of them without, and my impertinent recommendation of Mr Bronowski notwithstanding, watching that stuff is more important than losing a debating point, without wearing the fucking thing on your jacket like a medal. The contemplation, one hopes, is wider and deeper than baubles on a sleeve and books on a shelf. It's not about who's got the most Scout badges. Is it all books and words or do you really feel it, do you really laugh, do you really care, do you really smile when you smile? Ahh, Mr Ishmael, I knew I'd find one. Cast thy burden on Saint Joni.

call me ishmael said...

No, must be the way I'm wired-up. Unpardonably ugly, prolix, conceited and pretentious, that's my constant estimate of Mitchell; I can't stand it, nothing, no part of it; anyone else playing those chords and tunings and I'd be mesmerised but she does a unique thing with the tempo, dunno what it is, don't want to, I guess it's arty but to my ear it's discordant. I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire. Her paintings are shit, too.

Some people feel the same about Maestro Thompson, even though he is one of our greatest ever musicologists and musicians. Which Joni Mitchell, of course, isn't, the Kirsty Wark of Rock'n'Roll

mongoose said...

Savagery, Mr Ishmael, plain and simple.

I think the influence to which you object is the jazz stuff, and, yes, all that mid-Seventies Mingus-laden trash is just that. God must be a boogie-man? What? Why?

And her guitar playing technique is a bit odd for acoustic. I was once lectured about all that by a guitar-playing mate of mine as we stood waiting for her to start a concert. In one ear... And it is further true that she hasn't made a decent record for near thirty years but these are small failings to set against the glories of her Sixties output. As to the aesthetic affront prompted or otherwise by her singular looks. Well, let us be gentlemen.

The paintings, true, are dreadful daubs.

woman on a raft said...

is anyone still proud of the role opf Thatcher's overtime-happy police during the miners' strike

Mark that point in time: it was significant. Somebody (sorry, not sure which person, perhaps they could remind me?) asked if there was ever a point at which things were different. I should say that was it. I remember trying to explain to a visiting Yank at the time: this was a Kent State moment. The traditionally neutral police being used as political enforcers.

True, there had been plenty of police actions before. I know of old hippies and industrial activists who have been carted about by plod. Still, the neutrality was there; they were picking up madam because she was obstructing the highway, not because she was expressing a political view contrary to the wishes of No.10.

Something changed at the Miners' strike. If you are looking for someone to romanticise the miners, you are looking at the wrong person. Many were sanctimonious scum and not even much good at getting coal out of the ground. I knew of a bloke, live just down the way from me, who finished up hanging himself in the Holditch colliery because he had disagreed with the strike and stayed at work. His darling bruvvers sent him to coventry for the rest of his life, which wouldn't bother me much but for someone brought up in a mining village was the cruel revenge of bunch of cult members.

So don't sing me any songs about hole-diggers who were paid tolerably well for their work but pissed it away in the WMC. Many of the police actions were fully justified, including throwing the book at strikers who dropped blocks from motorway bridges then claimed they didn't really mean to kill anyone.

None the less, there was something not right about it when even even housekeeping magazines suddenly started running panicky features about the police stopping people and asking impertinent questions.

Just putting down a marker for where Ruin set in.

call me ishmael said...

Yes, thanks, Mrs woar, the buying-in of McGregor, too, an early globalisation of our national interests which is all, now, but complete, with a NWO, and with Paddy shitting himself, much as usual.

You don't make a quid pro quo between NUM violence and Police Terrorism but just in case anyone else does, there isn't one. Up until that point we had paid the cops to maintain the Queen's Peace and not to punish the enemies of the Spivs' Sweetheart, Maggie; since then, of course, Old Bill has whored himself as energetically and comprehensively as Tony and Imelda whored the office of prime minister and thus us all.

call me ishmael said...


I think it was Mr caractacus framed that query and with it the implication that we are all, by default, Ruin's handmaidens; he may be right and he may be wrong.

I remain of a mind that Thatcher's spivs and Murdochs slags have wrought more havoc than I, at least, might reasonably have resisted.