Sunday, 4 June 2023

mr mike on pilgrimage


Postcard 3 From The Camino
by mr mike, June 2023
 Note:  this third postcard has been written on my return to Sydney.  It was proving impossible to write anything of length on a phone with an un-educated thumb. That, plus problems sending for unknown reasons.

After about 15 days, the Camino del Norte divided.  

One spur continues along the coast as the Camino del Norte; the other spur turned inland and became the Camino Primitivo.  “Primitivo” in this context means “the first” as it was the first recognised Camino to Santiago centuries ago. Relatively few pilgrims walk the Primitivo.
 The Primitivo has a reputation for being the most difficult of all Caminoes because of the continuous big hills and mountains, a reputation it lived up to:

 Out of 31 days total walking it was not until about day 26 that a relatively flat stage arrived. As a measure of the difficulty, on a flattish stage I average 5kms/hour whereas on the Primitivo I was averaging 3.5-4 kms/hour – which led to some long (8 hour plus) days.
But one advantage of moving inland was that the effect of the Atlantic on the weather diminished.  It was a little warmer and drier (although I was lucky to have only 3 days of rain in the first two weeks).
 Half way through the Primitivo I was having a quiet cerveza one evening in a bar and a Canadian bloke asked me (thinking I was English) if I had heard of the old Aussie attempting the Primitivo.  I explained I was an Aussie and told him my age.  He was a little embarrassed. I think this started earlier on when a young German told me I was crazy to attempt the Primitivo at my age. “No worries, mate”, as we Aussies say. The cheeky bastard.  No wonder the Germans lost the war.  It seems I had acquired my own little fan club.
 The high point (literally) of the Primitivo is crossing a series of mountain peaks.  The Pilgrim has two options:  option one is a shorter route that takes one day;  there is a longer two-day route. Both routes involve climbing the highest peak at the end. I was trying to make my mind up having dinner at the albergue in Campiello which way to go next day.  It was Saturday evening. Luckily a Spanish woman told me that one of the albergues at the conclusion of this stage was closed on Sunday (closures on “domingo” are common for shops/bars etc in rural Spain). So, I decided on the two-day route meaning I would reach the destination on Monday. Fortunately, earlier on after Bilbao I had gained a day in hand doing two stages in one day (just over 40kms).
So, on Sunday I walked to Pola de Allande. I learned there that the peaks had been blanketed in heavy mist and it had rained that day. (Pilgrims are warned that the short route is too dangerous in bad weather).
On Monday morning I set off to climb the Alto de Palo.  The weather had cleared and it was blue sky and sunny in the foothills

 The climb to the top took about 2.5 hours. The climb became progressively steeper, approaching 45 degrees near the top.  But it was worth it; the views were magnificent – like being on top of the world 

at the peak with yours truly in shadow; incidentally, the yellow cockleshell motif is the symbol of the Camino.  

The other side.

After sweating profusely on the way up, there was an icy wind at the top, so time only to let the view sink in and take a few pictures before descending.
 That evening, enjoying dinner and a few glasses of medicinal red, I felt content having crossed the highest point and therefore the hardest stage.  Big mistake.  The next two days were the hardest of the whole trip.  Some serious climbs, but it was the descents which were particularly difficult

 Not only is the descent steep, but the paths are quite rugged with loose rock and stone making walking difficult.  It would be quite easy to slip (and carrying a backpack can easily put you off balance) and a fall, or twisted ankle or worse would have caused a world of trouble.
One particularly long descent (approx 5kms) down to a long reservoir 

 was generally agreed to be the most difficult.  The way over the reservoir was across a rather dramatic dam 

 with the inevitable climb up on the other side.

 By that point I had a few aches and pains (in my back mostly from carrying the backpack) but some Pilgrims were in a worse state with knee and foot problems after those stages.
Gradually, the hills became a little smaller

and after a pleasant night in the old city of Lugo, the terrain began to flatten out 

 Eventually, a signpost showing less than 50kms to Santiago.

After arriving in Santiago, and collecting my Compostella I had a wander around the cathedral and the old part of the town. I happened upon a few familiar faces I had seen from time to time during the journey and we bid a rather emotional farewell.
 Then a short flight to Madrid and next morning an interminably long flight to Sydney.
 All up it was just shy of 900kms and according to my phone, 999,254 steps.


Sunday, 28 May 2023

The Sunday Ishmael: 28/05/2023

 A Dog's Breakfast of a Cuntry.

Have you ever found yourself watching politicians on t'telly and wishing for your magic sword/laser beam/ atom disruptor to reach in and separate yon gabster's heid from his/her neck?
I was seized with such a desire this morning whilst watching the Scottish Minister for Circularity - honest, not invent, Scotland does indeed have such an office and the current incumbent is the slab-faced Lorna Slater.
Slater, which, incidentally, is Scottish for wood louse, was interviewed by Martin Geissler on the Sunday Show - the weekly Scottish politics round-up, without once cracking her face. I don't think she likes him. It was pretty clear that he thinks she's an arse. The interview has been described as "extraordinarily hostile". It is available on i-Player if you want to see a master at work.
The red hot issue in Scotland at present is the refusal of the Westminster Government to allow Scotland to recycle glass:
It's just spite, Glass gets broken and is dangerous on the pavements for pedestrians and their pets. Without Glass, the whole spirit of Devolution is undermined. The UK Government is interfering with Scotland's democracy by blocking Glass from being recycled under the SNP's Deposit Return Scheme. 

Bollocks, Minister, cuntish waffle, knob-gobbling sophistry. You just want to be first nation to introduce the DRS. Never mind the manufacturers and retailers being driven into bankruptcy by being unable to punt their product across the Border. It's like the Highly Protected Marine areas you want to introduce - happy to see the end of the Scottish Fishing Industry in pursuit of your bilious Green policies. The Government of the United Kingdom "argues there does have to be a bit of a leash that can be tugged when they think it's going too far. Is that not reasonable? This is exactly how devolution works."

"And that's exactly why Scotland needs to be an Independent country."

Well, that outcome is becomingly increasingly unlikely, as allegations against the SNP of theft, corruption, mismanagement and incompetence proliferate and the other pro-Independence parties - Alba and The Greens - are tiny and ramshackle, the Greens wedded to increasingly radical, hard-loony policies, and Alba propping up Salmond's ego. Labour is currently predicted to win 23 seats from the SNP at the next general election.

Geissler also had a go at Assistant Chief Constable David Duncan, whose boss, Sir Iain Livingstone, told the nation on Thursday that, after six years of  him leading it as Chief Constable of Police Scotland, the force is institutionally racist and that "institutional racism, sexism, misogyny and discrimination exist." 
Geissler, enraged by this fashionable admission, demanded to know what this means, as Livingstone had been quick to say that individuals are not racist or sexist. With his back against the ropes, the unshaven Duncan (must have been a heavy night) had to come up with an example of how a Force can be racist, without the individuals employed by the Force being racist and/or sexist. The best he could do was to cite body armour that had been designed for the male form and not for boobies. 
It's a bit more than that, son.
Private Eye magazine revealed the charming practice of police officers having the inside of their helmets and caps embellished with pornographic art work, all the better to intimidate rape victims. "Mind if I take my helmet off?" "For God's sake, no, officer, just keep it on."

Livingstone is retiring in August, at the grand old age of 56. Police Scotland is looking for a replacement for this exceptional leader, offering a salary of £232,000.

Over on the Laura Kuenssberg show, Andrei Kelin, who has been Ambassador of Russia to the United Kingdom since 2019, maintained admirable calm in the face of Laura's bullying, mildly remonstrating "I think I have told you if you will try to offend me once again we will just stop this interview."
Accused of lying to others and to himself, the worst Kelin had to say to Laura was that she wasn't a very experienced journalist, demonstrating why he holds the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He, himself, studied at the Faculty of International Journalism at Moscow State Institute of International Relations back in the Seventies. Harried by Laura about the circumstances in which the war between Ukraine and Russia could be ended, Kelin stated that all it would take would be for the West to stop supplying arms to Ukraine and then it would be stopped the day after tomorrow. 
Please God.

mr mike on pilgimage

Sadly, mr mike has not been able to get a bulletin through to us, but says he will give us an update when he's back in Australia. 
Ishmael Smith: A Mayday Essay. It's Not the Economy, Stupid. 
4th May 2009
SUMER IS A I-CUMIN IN (A 14th. century Toppe of Ye Pops.)

The daffodil harbingers are gone over now but the Whitebeam avenue springs into leaf, spiky, urgent, hurrying, soon to be lush, in a few days it will unfurl, obscure the path, it's blossom fragrance intoxicating, uplifting and sensitising like the most delicate, angelic hash; soothing, like Sweet Sister morphine to a soul in agony; mischievous and exciting, a walk in a magic glade; no business like show business. Every year a miracle, tulips from Amsterdam, rhododendra from the Hindu Kush, sharp, spiteful thistles from Scotland; all appearing from nowhere, thrusting, erect, showing-off, scenting, firing seed everywhere. In Spring the fancy turns....

There was a point in living memory, maybe before the Labour Party got it's Equity card, when the changing seasons still retained some power over us, when they were marked and celebrated; hints of the pagan, of riotous, Jesus-free sexuality, of the elemental; Maydays and Solstices, Harvest Homes; ancient, starborne, prehistoric survival rituals - which had been colonised, hi-jacked by Pope Nazi's predecessors, parcelled-up with Feast Days, Saints' Days and Guilty Days - marked periodic awareness of the cyclicality of creation, of death and renewal, or of, as the Noncing Monsignors would have it, the craft of the Divine Watchmaker; you know, He who's gonna forever roast your arse if you don't do as we, His kindly minders, say. Dominus vobiscum.

These Stone-Age festivals, these seasonal forebodings, joys and obeisances formed a truly British, truly European - or Northern White - culture, long before John Bull and immeasurably more valid, more connected than the morbid, touchstone, tribal posturings of the SNP, the BNP, Plaid Cymru, Ulster's pestilential Kneecappers and sour-faced, joyless Orange undertakers, all rooted not in Earth, Water, Fire and Air but in hangings, arson, rape, torture, mayhem and martyrdom, Christian Age alpha male shit.

As the Green Man carved surreptitiously by apostate joiners in ostensibly Christian Saxon and Norman Churches hung-on, in hiding, these pagan seasonal customs clung, too, Bowdlerised and adapted, the Furry Dance, the joyful Mayday cock-worship, a clandestine, Earth-worshipping Resistance movement; the ringed stones of Wiltshire and Gloucester and Orkney attracting all sorts, freaks and Wiccans and libertines but many more just vaguely aware of bigger, eternal patterns, of a pre-programmed, stellar air-conditioner, whirring through Time, ventilating Life.

For the longest time, perhaps until the gaudy arriviste iconoclasm of Thatcher's brigandage, we - maybe unknowingly - heard the old prayers, feared the old gods. Soulless monetarism banished much that was good, essential, leaving little but - as we see, the noo - doomed Avarice.

Now, our lives are measured, instead, by the Dow-Jones Index, whatever the fuck that is, some micro-calibration of greed, and the Footsie One Hundred - how rich are the rich, today ? Fuck me, no, dropped a few points ? Aw, shit.
Green Man, St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney, 12th to 13th Century.
Mr ishmael's whitebeam  avenue and his tulips, black, purple, scarlet and gold, will forever renew each spring without him. Such is the way of things. 
Still Life with Flowers (1639), by Hans Bollongier (1623–1672)

Sarah Raven sent me an email last year, extolling her collections of tulips, curated by colour, height, flowering period, exquisitely photographed and lushly named. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I bought a collection called Byzantine (20 bulbs £19.95), described thus: "This is exquisitely beautiful. The exotic and glamorous Black Parrot and Queen of Night, mixed with the chestnut-maroon Ridgedale and purple Caviar. Swoon!"
The packaging was equally gorgeous, but the bulbs were disappointing: a couple had rotted and had to be discarded and two others had a suspicious discolouration. So I started the Great Tulip Experiment and sourced some similar tulips from  Mr. Tesco - Queen of Night and Grand Perfection  (2 packs for £5) and black Labrador (7 bulbs to a pack for £3.99) from my local garden centre. Total = £8.99 for 23 bulbs
I planted them in identical containers and identical compost, same number of tulips per container, same position. Each container had only 18 bulbs, as 2 of the Sarah Raven bulbs had rotted. This left 5 cheapy bulbs to go in the garden.
Here's the results:
25th April 2023 Sarah Raven's Byzantine on the right

8th May Sarah Raven's Byzantine on the right

28th May Sarah Raven's Byzantine on the right

The three volumes of  mr ishmael's Collected Works, selected, edited and anthologised by mr verge, the House Filthster, are now available.  

Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues are available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.

Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :
please register an account first, at This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box.  Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover :
Link for Paperback :
At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which (for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage.  If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for " voucher code" and see what comes up.  
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.
Did I tell you to keep a diary?

Sunday, 21 May 2023

The Sunday Ishmael: 21/05/2023

High North Command

The Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee has inquired into "Defence in Scotland: The North Atlantic and the High North".
It heard evidence from Dr. Marc DeVore, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of St Andrews, that Russia was installing military bases in strategic locations and arming their fleet of ice breakers. Climate change will open up sea routes in the Arctic, along Russia's northern shore and across the North Pole. He said: " For future NATO operations in the High North, posts and facilities in the north and the Orkneys would be absolutely key. Scapa Flow is the best natural harbour that any NATO member possesses for patrolling the GI-UK Gap", referring to the open sea between Greenland, Iceland and the UK, which forms the vital door between the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic. "Scapa is large enough to anchor a massed bunch of ships far enough apart to not constitute an easy target." DeVore reported how the increasing tensions with Russia had affected the planning of sub-sea infrastructure, notably the recently confirmed interconnector between Orkney and mainland Scotland. "Russia has been cutting cables and sabotaging pipelines...we did not think a state would engage with (this) during peacetime."

Looks like its time to get out of Dodge - or sharpen some sticks and dip them in poo. Interesting that DeVore seems to think that it is peacetime, whereas Putin is convinced that NATO is at war with Russia. Can no-one persuade the war-mongers that the wider humanitarian interest would be served by suggesting to Zelensky that it is time to start saving lives, both Ukrainian and Russian, by giving in? Before Putin is unseated by someone even more committed to all-out global thermonuclear war? And Biden is re-elected to totter on under the guiding hand of the military-industrial American complex?
My electricity company has emailed me to say that they are increasing my Direct Debit to £749 per month and Mr Tesco just charged me £1.40 for a 750g tiny little bag of spuds and £1.65 for a sliced white loaf. Not at War? The Ministry of Food will start putting out information leaflets soon on how to make a nutritious meal out of carrots (bargain at 48 pence for 800g), a tin of beans, brown rice (£2.50 for 1kg.) and an oxo cube.

 mr mike on Pilgrimage

Dear mrs ishmael,
Tomorrow (13th May) I’m just about at the halfway point.  As I’ve been walking the last few days I’ve been composing in my mind a halfway summary. Tomorrow is a long day but I’ll do my best to email when I finish in the afternoon. 

 Postcard 2 from the Camino del Norte
First a brief apology. This is an outstandingly beautiful unspoiled part of the world.  I have taken many photos but have so far failed to attach any to an email. It seems my Aussie mail server doesn’t like photos of Spain and won’t forward them,  instead rejecting the whole email.
In my first postcard I mentioned the first couple of days over mountains were hard. I’ve spoken with other pilgrims and they agree. But I don’t think I did myself any favours starting immediately after a 26 hour flight from Sydney. Since then I’ve found my sea legs and nearing the halfway point after 2 weeks and over 400km I’m going fine (tempting fate).
After passing through the interesting city of Bilbao, I left the Basque region behind and entered Cantabria which gives its name to a geological period because of its rock formations. 
Jagged fingers jut into the sea forming remote, largely deserted beaches. The terrain is seriously hilly rather than mountainous. The sea cliffs are spectacular. I still get cold sweats thinking of walking for hours on coastal paths a meter from 100 meter drops to certain death on the cliffs below.
The region gets its weather from the Atlantic so with high rainfall the region is very green and lush. Remote farms with a few cows, sheep and horses.
For Ishmaelites not familiar with the area a week split between San Sebastián and Bilbao driving in between would be worth it.
 Two gems stand out in the past week. Santillana del Mar and Comillas. The former is like stepping back into the Middle Ages.
 Stone houses, many elegant and cobbled streets, unchanged (apart from renovation) for centuries. Apparently it is often used as the setting for period films. 
Comillas has faded from its past glory but still has some formidable palacios and, importantly, a Gaudi house. 
I have previously only seen Gaudi in Barcelona. Apparently the house was abandoned in the 1970s but is now restored to its former glory and contains several pieces of Gaudi furniture.
I have met a few interesting pilgrims. For two days I walked with a German couple. They were intelligent but with heads firmly in the sand. For example when I asked why Germany was silent over the US blowing up the Nordstream gas pipelines they could only shrug. Incidentally I note this has hardly been mentioned in the UK propaganda a.k.a. press. When I mentioned that the recent closure of the last three nuclear power stations as part of the green agenda resulted in re-opening coal fired power stations they were shocked. And even more shocked to hear that this has resulted in record imports of Russian coal. Nobody told them, they said. I've seen this before with Germans. They always follow the plan, even when the plan is clearly failing. But they did take the point that last time Germany had such a weak government in the 1930s it led to disaster.
On a personal note I am now not staying in the pilgrim albergues but choosing hostels or pensions instead. A little more expensive than the 10 euros albergues but because this Camino is not travelled by many there are few albergues. It’s annoying having to wait till 4pm when they usually open whereas I can be in a hot bath and with my own room I can come and go at my own rhythm. Plus I’m getting older.
photos are generic internet images


Nasty Nepo Babe dies

Read your book and lose yourself
In another's thoughts
He might tell you 'bout what is
Or even 'bout what is not
And if he's kind and gentle too
And he loves the world a lot
His twilight words may melt the slush
Of what you have been taught.
Mike Heron, 1966.

Hmmm - well, Nepo Babe Amis failed on Heron's three-point test: 
1: He wasn't kind. 
2. He wasn't gentle. 
3. He didn't love the world a lot - not even a little. 

Jerking around on the fly-line of his father's richly-deserved fame, Martin Teeth-Amis was a skinny short-arse, composed of Oedipal envy, grudge, grievance and nicotine.  The ishmaeling and I were discussing Teeth's oeuvre, on hearing of his demise. Back when we were younger then than we are now, we had both attempted a Teeth novel. In my case, Money. She can't remember which title it was she flung at the wall. I've just read the synopsis of Money and it sounds rather good. Unfortunately, Teeth's  attempt to engage the reader's interest in a deeply unlikeable boorish narrator didn't work for me. The ishmaeling remembers the deep misogyny, the shallow characterisation and the stereotyped women. "Probably gay", was her verdict. "But no!" I exclaimed "He was multiply-married, had children and was a renowned womaniser".
"Definitely gay".

Why Martin Teeth-Amis? A 1994 article in the London Evening Standard alleged that Amis had recently returned from the United States having spent $20,000 having all his molars replaced, suggesting that Amis was vain and willing to spend a lot of money on getting American teeth. Well, they were so bad that out of thousands of brooding, sultry author images in which he has his mouth firmly shut, this is the closest I could find to a tooth shot.
Punditry is agreed that, in younger days, he was possessed of a louche, Mick Jagger attractiveness. Really? Really?

Meriting only a passing inclusionas Martin Teeth, in the list of exponents of the low art of trash fiction,  in his magnificent Book of Common Pulp, mr ishmael had little time for the dedicated smoker. 'Twas the fags that killed Teeth. (For our American readers, fag is a slang British term for a cigarette, or for a little public-school boy who makes your toast, shines your shoes and bends over to be caned, for which education his parents pay vast sums in fees.) Well, Teeth really put his back into the smoking, a full-time occupation with him, resenting the time he spent asleep and couldn't smoke. Amazing he made it all the way to 73, really. And just think of all the novels he would have written had he not succumbed to oesophageal cancer. Just think.

Here's mr ishmael, in a very little, (the 6 words in bold at the end of the letter) self-explanatory post from 2010:

Letters: The Guardian, Saturday 20 February 2010

Dear Martin Amis, 

You complain about the "reckless distortions" and "chaotic perceptions" of you in the press
(Review, 13 February). You seem bemused, hurt and outraged. Perhaps a closer and more honest look at yourself in relation to others could be one explanation? Two stories from my own experience of you illuminate what I mean.

First, you visited Mark Boxer, my husband, when he was dying. You came with Chris Hitchens. Mark was exhausted because you stayed far too long. You smoked over his bed. I later learned the length of visit was not borne just of affection, but you were filling in time before you caught a plane at Heathrow. You wrote a piece about your feelings and tears as you left. I saw no evidence of these.

Second, Mark asked you to be god­father to our daughter Claire. She was six when he died and when later she was reading English at University said she was studying Martin Amis and did I know anything about him? Oddly enough, I told her, he's your godfather. We invited you to lunch. You paid scant attention to Claire (didn't even cough up the statutory five bob expected from godfathers!) and she hasn't heard from you since.

Can I suggest this level of ­narcissism and inability to empathise may be at the root of your anger with the press and your need to court attention? 
As ever,
Anna Ford

Luvvies, eh, what are they like?

The three volumes of  mr ishmael's Collected Works, selected, edited and anthologised by mr verge, the House Filthster, are now available.  

Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues are available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.

Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :
please register an account first, at This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box.  Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover :
Link for Paperback :
At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which (for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage.  If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for " voucher code" and see what comes up.  
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.

Sunday, 14 May 2023

The Sunday Ishmael : 14/05/2023

You are an utter cunt, aren't you.....good, as the plumbers say, for fuck all?

With respect, that's not the question that people are asking, the question that people are asking is which party is doing the most to deal with the recession which started in America and which no-one, absolutely no-one, apart from the man in the street, but no-one of any importance saw coming and we, the men in the armoured limousines and bombproof pensions can't be blamed for, any more than we can be blamed for fiddling our expenses which none of us were, only a few who have been paid off and agreed to be made an example of; that those of us who make the important decisions are entirely protected from those consequences, be it the two so-called main parties voting, at Mr Alistair Campbell's insistence, for the Iraq Holocaust or be it all the politicians voting for giving the banks all the people's money, well, this is the right thing then, the right decision for the country and all honourable and right honourable members are determined that I should be elected prime minister, or if not me, one of them, which, as you know,  amounts to the same thing. The main thing which you and I are agreed upon is that we shall fight to the last man to keep the legislature out of the filthy hands of ordinary people, who know nothing, least of all what is good for them. Vote for me. Or if not me, some other mad, wicked bastard.

 So, prime minister, what you are saying is that it doesn't really matter who wins the election. Or even if we have one or not ?

Well, yes, exactly,  not to us anyway. You've made a pot, I've made a pot, all our friends have made shitloads of money, we will continue, even me, to rake it in, media, politics, law, business, all one big happy greedy family, you don't think an election's gonna change any of that now, don't be fucking stupid.

Ishmael Smith, 13/09/2009 "Vote for me, its the right Sol-u-shon"

Alistair Campbell, Alex Phillips and Victoria Derbyshire on 11/05/23

 Alistair Campbell, Keighley lad,  has written yet another book. Published on 11th May 2023 and available on Amazon  in hardback at £17.27. Which is why, presumably, he appeared on BBC's Newsnight that night to publicise it. He succeeded in insulting and patronising his fellow guest, Alex Phillips, adviser to the Reform Party, former MEP and Brexiteer. Campbell led with the Brexit “lies” such as the millions which were expected to go to the NHS once the UK left the EU, leaving the field open for Phillips to attempt a blow with: “It’s very rich from the man who essentially was part of telling lies to invade a country to accuse me of dishonesty.”
Campbell loftily ignored the Dodgy Dossier attack and threw in: 
 “I think you might have lost the argument there, my dear.” Adding: ”If I may patronise you any more.” Rapidly following with: “When I say you talk nonsense – let me finish,” driving presenter Victoria Derbyshire to attempt to cut him off, saying: “That’s it now, I’m afraid,” 
But Malcolm Tucker Campbell replied: “No. I’m sorry, you bring these people on – you never challenge them. You let them talk utter rubbish about Brexit.
“And it has happened on the BBC for year after year after year.”
Derbyshire said: “I am not going to take that from you, with respect, Mr Campbell.”
“Fine, fine,” Campbell said. “Well, you don’t have to.”
But, whilst the camera was still on him and his mic was still on, he muttered:  “For God’s sake.”
What of his book? Is it any good? Charlotte Ivers, reviewing it in  The Sunday Times the next day, seemed to think not. Campbell is keen to reverse Brexit and apostrophise those who support it as dunderheads, and is deeply irritated by people who just won't be persuaded by his arguments and just bang on about the illegal war he helped bring about. Here's a quote: “Before anyone shouts, ‘Pot. Kettle. Black’ and ‘Iraq’, as happens occasionally on social media when I tackle the phenomenon of Johnson the liar, I merely point you to the several official and parliamentary inquiries that took place, none of which concluded that I lied,” he writes. 
Charlotte Ivers concludes her review: "I’m sorry. Iraq is one thing, but that writing really is unforgivable."
Good to know that Campbell hasn't lost that certain touch that so distinguished him as the Labour spin doctor:
Best have a palate-cleanser after that:

By bole and bough, still black with rain
The sunlight filtered where it would
Across a glowing, radiant stain—
We stood within a bluebell wood!

 In July and August, 2013, mr ishmael did not post at all. He had developed a serious medical condition - a complication of his diabetes, and those months were a nightmare of illness, hospitalisation in Orkney and Aberdeen, surgical intervention and heavy-duty pain killers. His illness was the reason for his absence from Call Me Ishmael. In September, he drafted this account of his sickness absence. As you can see, he debated with himself whether it was mannerly to publish it. I think he either decided not to, or things just drifted away from him, but I can't find it in the published posts. editor mr verge anthologised it from the Drafts in Ishmael's Blues, so here it is for those who have yet to purchase a copy. 


As it says on my tin, sort-of, What can you do, when you don't know what to do? I  don't know about Internet conventions.  The Internet is too new, too vast, too fast to have  developed conventions  and such mannerliness as  has been imposed by crewcut, bulletheaded billionaire IT wunderkind is only about protecting themselves from litigation and increasing their already preposterous and technically unearned incomes - this is the only business in which the customer provides the product and is charged for it by the person providing the platform or shop window - and is absolutely fuck all to do with Decency.
Bearing in mind  that the Internet's major discourse is upon the subject of the digitised reproduction of largely degenerate and unhealthy, even dangerous and rightly illegal sexual activity, it seems, in any event, contradictory to be seeking, within the same medium, a lasting code or codes of conduct. PornoWeb, the final frontier.  Whither manners, amid doggysex and wall-to-wall gangbanging?
I used to have an ongoing occasional discussion with Mr PT Barnum about all this, about the nature of cyber relationships - the sort which we have in Ishmaelia. And before that I debated it with Mr 45 Govt and others. What's real here, who's real here? What is going on here and why is it going on? Their virtual  reality and its inhabitants were to all intents and purposes virtually real, as real as real reality. 
Since my young friend stanislav and I first  started commenting over at Col von Fawkes's house of blood, I have always used other commenters' titles and struggled for a politeness, even amongst the  bilious shitstorm of late-night ranting redneckery.  But that wasn't and still isn't a protocol,  certainly isn't etiquette. Etiquette is shit.  
The Naked Civil Servant, the late Quentin Crisp, wrote a truly lovely book called Manners From Heaven, excoriating Etiquette as a system of petty obstacles devised to Keep People Out - you know, if you don't know which fork to use, my dear,  you simply shouldn't be here, just cuntishness,  Good Lord, one simply never passes the port from the left, or is it the right?  Manners, however, maintained, Quentin, our greatest stately homo,  were about Welcoming People In,  manners are the practice of Grace.
 How much, I have been wondering, of my illness and absence is it appropriate, good manners, to disclose, here, in these quarters.  This isn't a medical blog.  Amongst millions of words  I doubt if more than a few thousand have been about my health - and even when they have been, they have been light-hearted.  This, however, although it could be construed initially as a bit trivial -  a bad foot, so what ?  - is as ill as I have ever been and had, has still, the potential to kill or woefully cripple me,  people with my condition die from this shit every day of the week.
What should I say, then,  to people who have extended me sincere good wishes, who are friends in all but corporeality, how does one proceed with Grace?
I don't think I should ignore my own absence from here, even though Here doesn't exist or if it does exist, I don't know the Whereness of its Hereness;  I can be certain only of its Whenness.  As  to the Whoness or the Youness of those Here who are not me, well, some, the commenters, define their reality by the act of commenting, although far more visit regularly without commenting; this, of course, is a comment in itself.
 Both groups, however, I decided, are entitled to an explanation of my absence.  On the one horn of my dilemma is just  tact - who wants to hear about another's ill health, for fucks sake - and on the other is the recognition of the fact that, however much I eschew the notion,  it is the course of, for want of a better phrase, my personal life, and thus, inescapably, my health, which informs,   corrects and edits  these commentaries.  
It's tricky, though, on the one hand  this and on the other hand that. On the subject of dilemmas, Robert Persig counselled Don't ever  take the bull by the horns for you can never release one or both of them without being gored, instead, snatch a handful of sand, fling it in the bull's eyes and run like Hell.

I'll just write it down, briefly, with the advice that it is not for the squeamish.
What happened was that I had  the sole of my foot surgically removed, filleted and partially re-attached, leaving a gap between the arch of my foot and the back of my heel,  this gap was down to the white, glistening bone and the foot was not expected to heal.  Off with his foot! was the chorus of the local surgeon butcherbastards. 

I was rescued by my GP, bless her, who flew me to the burns and plastics unit of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, which was  the department which dealt with the Piper Alpha disaster-fuck-up-massacree,  where the surgeons decided that a graft would be necessary to link the front and back of my foot,  said graft to come from my thigh and be augmented with a compound of powdered shark cartilage. 

 Before any of that could happen, however,  I need to have my femoral artery widened by angioplasty and the wound would need to heal, at least somewhat.  I was discharged home as an outpatient and here I sleep downstairs in the library and am seen daily by some very skilled  community nurses.  The wound has healed swiftly and beyond anyone's most optimistic predictions.  Anyone's but mine. 

As all should, I believe I can survive anything; it is only such unreasonable  belief that urged us from the sea, up the shore, into the trees and caves and possibly to the stars; fuck pragmatism, we're the fishmen and  the sea apes.

Flesh has grown where it was not expected to and deeply scarred tissue has knitted together;  the remnant of my heel which had protruded backwards grotequely at forty-five degrees, is now neatly cupped,  rounded, as before. This, apparently, should not have happened.  I have had Type 1 diabetes for thirty years and healing, even of a shaving cut, is notoriously slow;  my GP and the nursing team are pleasantly surprised and I am due to have  the arterial surgery in a few days. 

 I don't know how long it will take, thereafter, for the graft to take place nor how long that will take to heal.  I don't even know if I will go for a graft, so well is the wound now healing. It doesn't matter,  for there is now a realistic prospect of my having a usable foot,  rather than, as local experts preferred, a stump.  

I fucking well hate those fucking arseholeing mongreldog bastards;  rather than exploring every avenue, they do this butchering  at the drop of a hat, it's what they do, a mindset as dull and restricted as that of the physicians of old who swore by bleeding the patient half to death, as wickedly indifferent and cruel as that of the early psychiatrists,  who would affix a  budgerigar cage to the shaved head of a mentally impaired patient, in the firm belief that the  tormented bird's feet, scratching on the poor sufferer's head would excise the madness.  Oh, yes, you'll be much better without that nasty old leg, they now say, you'll be much better, you'll see, trust me, I'm a doctor.

And someone weaker than I, someone without my personal support and resources, someone less bloody-minded, less antagonistic  and notably someone without a dynamic GP would, in the face of arrogant, professional opinion be fucked; they get fucked everyday, some smirking cunt chopping their leg off.

When not confined to  bed I have been in a wheelchair and it is devilish shit; I don't think I could tolerate it permanently, never mind play sports in it,  I know that many do  and God bless them but I think I would be starting a local, pop-up, one-use-only branch of Dignitas.  I don't say that lightly,  I have had dark, dark moments and thought-through a limbless life,  a sea of troubles if ever there was one.  Mrs Ishmael and I have been joined together in holy deadlock some, I dunno,  thirty, thirty-five years and that's a hard conversation to have but have it we have.

I have also been narcotised and sedated a lot of the time. If someone had said to me in my twenties, herey'are, Ishmael, as much Morphine as you want,  just knock it back and if that doesn't work, just have some more, well,  I guess I might've been pleased,  Morphine is very nice,  a lovely feeling of wellbeing, but only for a short space of time,  addiction comes quickly and fuck the Rolling Stones and their Sweet Sister Morphine, drug addiction is rubbish.  But there is good drug addiction and bad drug addiction - if one is taking stuff for pain rather than for fun, it is said to be easier to stop.

I didn't have any choice but to become addicted but I make a bit of leeway;  sometimes, for a few days, I'm able to go back, instead, on Tramadol - bad enough - and Paracetemol and endure - accept - the feeling that, like some mediaeval self-flagellant, I am worthily paying a ruthless fixed penalty for earlier sins. 

Pain, no longer occasional, is now just part of the furniture of being. 
Try  to stay healthy, it is easier than it has ever been, and keep yourselves from the grubby hands of charlatans, bullies, floozies and dunderheads. Eat well, exercise, don't fucking smoke and if you like it, work out a relationship with booze, one that isn't guaranteed to destroy your vital organs - it will mean much less consumption than, initially, you would like;  buy the best stuff you can afford and drink less of it, occasionally, after dark  and among the voices of friends. If you have any. They're not compulsory,  not now that we can have virtual companionship

 If you contract a chronic illness, inform yourself from the good websites - New England Journal of Medicine, for instance.  Challenge your specialists, they can be wrong or misinformed, if they're any good, they won't mind your questions.  Just Fuck all those self-help groups, miserable, shambling groups of diabetics and cancerees, all with their heads up Infirmity's arse, jumble-saleing and coffee-morninging like legless Napoleonic Wars troopers, selling matches and begging.
Answers to Anagrammatical Excess 
with thanks to mr verge, the House Filthster.

strangled hitch-hiker (King Charles the Third)
canonical queers molt (Camilla Queen Consort)
onions tempt rampant playboy (tampons by Royal Appointment)
tint my sewers, babe (Westminster Abbey)
roofers give Halal scone to very hot Duchess (the sovereign's escort of household cavalry)
acid-head once ate butthole jism (the Diamond Jubilee State Coach)
Bob, a high church arse, recites pony fart (his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury) 
they won't be swearing on a Torah, to coin a phrase (coronation oath)
sect-drawn sword (St Edward's crown)
otiose pussy or a dukedom (makes you proud, so it does)

No updates from mr mike on his pilgrimage. I'm confident he's ok, just outwith technological communication with the world.

The three volumes of  mr ishmael's Collected Works, selected, edited and anthologised by mr verge, the House Filthster, are now available.  

Honest Not Invent, Vent Stack  and Ishmael’s Blues are available from Lulu and Amazon. If you buy from Amazon, it would be nice if you could give a review on their website.

Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should follow these steps :
please register an account first, at This is advisable because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu Bookstore search box.  Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
Link for Hardcover :
Link for Paperback :
At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which (for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage.  If this code has expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for " voucher code" and see what comes up.  
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.