Wednesday, 29 July 2009

As I sit here Julie is trying to fix a hose pipe to a tap- this has demanded some serious attention, purchase of various fittings and so on, and involved considerable exasperation over time. She will shortly cart the whole lot down the DIY shop and demand a solution, brandishing various useless but so called 'universal' attachments. Apollo 13 we are not. Me, I'm reading JG Ballard's  The Atrocity Exhibition (1970)- well not really reading it, you can't do that- you just dip in and go- OH FUCK he's right- right at the heart of it-we are psychotic, especially NEWSREADERS. Newsreaders must be the lowest of the low, but it's probably a close run thing with solicitors. But newsreaders are clearly the most awful people in the world. They are prepared to get up very early and be incredibly chirpy and care about every little shitty thing about their appearance and then be chirpy about just about anything. When did you last see a newsreader cry? But when Walter Cronkite died- all they showed were his tears (on JFK's assassination)  We should have decent, pissed, hopelessly wasted newsreaders who don't give a fuck (any more) as ROLE MODELS. We would all take a lot more notice of the news for sure if this were so. It would make the news more real. It could get more and more EXTREME. The level of repression we collectively represent seems extraordinary- which is why, in my list of top professions, I would put strippers first. Strippers are very real. Of course they may be bonkers as well, hardly knowing how real they are. Astronauts would be a close second, because they can't feel how real they are (also bonkers). Those are the only two professions which represent the best bets for youngsters at the careers advice centre. I'd like them all to cue up and demand these jobs. Otherwise you just have to live with all this SHIT. Of course if you could write Dad's Army, then you'd simply be a genius, because by writing Dad's Army, you would sum up the whole repressed bullshit of our little land for the whole of the universe and you would also make the people laugh. Laughter, as Siegfried and Roy used to say, is the cure for all sorrow.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Gerry Rafferty did try to rock. I expect very very few of you might be interested in this. I sat in the Misty Mountain and they were playing his 'Greatest Hits'; a perfect lame pub music choice for the morning. I sat there and I began to tap my foot and I began to listen, and perhaps now I understand why Gerry Rafferty disappeared in such a right old state of incontinence not so long ago. On this album, he at least once, tries to do ZZ Top.  The problem with Gerry Rafferty singing is he can't help his voice, which is lovely but about as bedsit as you can get, and his lyrics, ditto. This was clearly a tragedy in the making- the more he wanted to, the more he couldn't. He probably became insanely jealous of Chris Rea; and the only man in history to be so.
I went to a council meeting last night. They were all for change as they always are, which means they don't in fact change at all. The staple is more consultation, more choice, but to be honest this consultation consisted largely of people who either like consultation meetings, or just come for the free sandwiches. People who like consultation meetings are rotten people to ask the opinion of.
The council (actually now called an ALMO- don't ask) in it's wisdom, and a desperate drive for government approval (and funds) started rolling out ideas about green roofs and solar power for the communal lighting. OH NO! I thought PLEASE NO!!  I tell you if the council comes anywhere near your home with a load of solar power equipment I promise you will be in the dark for a long period of time, because like Gerry Rafferty, they are what they are, which in their case is generally hopelessly incompetent and thoroughly corrupt and I can see no reason why they shouldn't be.
The lesson is, as Frank Zappa said 'You Are What You Is'. Can't everybody just live with this and tell the busybodies too FUCK OFF?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Cooked myself a Keith Richards breakfast, it's an all day, or all night thing, and must include fried onions. Quite excellent. Earlier: curious day- went to the AA (Architectural Association) to see the show maybe but actually just stayed in the bar admiring the female clientelle which are far more impressive than the work in their summer dresses and why should you bother with the work when tempted by such obviously well bred ..bla bla bound to get myself in to trouble. The AA has been very good to me and I've worked there for years and years, but I loved walking around (eventually) and hating the lot of it as an exemplar of TOO MUCH ENTHUSIASM and IDIOTIC BLIND AMBITION. I fear the days of CRITICAL projects, polemical projects, are long gone just when we need them, these days thought has been subjugated to communication and we should really start to realize how fucked we are. Myself and Michael R did this at length and realized we were now 'old'. So after that I returned to Stalingrad to do some interviews and two of my candidates burst in to tears at the state of things. I could burst in to tears myself but was hopefully helpful. 
This is not how it should be- but fry your onions with breakfast is a fine tip.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

It is with great regret that I have to announce the demise of the ACADACADEMICS. We may return, but the times are bad and I'll hang on that Millwall supporter's, or is it a Sex Pistols, line- 'They all hate us but we don't care'- and don't worry I still don't but I FEEL. If you want to know how I FEEL, buy a copy of the 1992 ACDC Live album and fix yourself with a big tumbler of whisky with ice and some water and sit by yourself and play the first three tracks as loud as you are able and you might just get close- I hope you start dancing round the room and get embarrassed when somebody walks in. I would then follow it with 'Live Rust' by Neil Young. All of it. Times are bad. Watch out everybody. The Shits are Here. My My Hey Hey.....

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Walking on the moon. For somebody for whom navigating the High St can induce psychological trauma, can I empathize with those guys forty years ago who stood on the fucking moon? For US ALL it would seem to invite total mental collapse- 'You mean I have to JUMP off the ladder!- on to the moon!!- which is made of what exactly? and I'm here ostensibly with a bit of tinfoil made by OTHER PEOPLE and controlled by a bunch of college kids and 'SHIT THIS IS NOT GOOD' (which of course should have been the first words uttered by reasonable human beings if they just happened to find themselves ON THE FUCKING MOON! I'd want a fucking large scotch for sure and many more just to get me looking out the window. I'd have to have scotch PUMPED in to my space suit (Archigram should have thought of this, but maybe Warren Chalk did). After all they have put me on top of a HUGE ROCKET and I have no idea how it works and the percentages show it will probably BLOW UP with me on top and now I'm in this tin foil thing which is going too fast and I'll probably put my foot through it! Can you imagine that??? Then when you are on the moon and you realize you are a form of guinea pig or maybe hamster and what do you do?- I guess try not to fall over, because falling over could be REALLY BAD or maybe some twenty year old has got the calculations wrong and I'll just float off in to space FOREVER. Fucking GREAT! THANKS!! It's a shame Space Oddity is such an unimaginative song.
So what do they do in the end- they play golf and drive 4x4's about just like we do at home. How re-assuring that is, and they collect rocks. They should have sent Jeremy Clarkson, but he was probably only seven (like me) at the time and holidaying in Pembroke. 
Worse was thinking - and I do this over long periods in The Misty Mountain these days- what have we done since? Well we have met, as far as I can see, many more Estonians. That's about it. We have developed John Smith's Extra Smooth, and we have mobile phones. These are depressing thoughts. So, salute the heroes of forty years ago, I certainly shall and whilst thinking about being stuck with a bit of tin foil with half an engine on the moon, howl at ZAHA's phoney lumps of concrete down here.

Monday, 13 July 2009

'You can't always get what you want' - remember that? Does anybody remember that? Sometimes, a lot of times, most of the time, I wonder. Nothing, especially education, is served up on a plate, but now folks seem to expect to consume it like Kentucky Fried Chicken, and appear to find failure impossible. To learn, I figure you have to SWEAT. I think of a great writer like Harry Crews, who comes from nowhere out of the deep south, and writes clearly and succinctly and without passion about his world because he TAUGHT HIMSELF how to do it by READING IT. He is now a university professor in Florida (but must be continually bemused by the experience). Education cannot become some kind of ER. Read Kinsley Amis, the old bugger at least got one thing right 'more means worse'. However, I personally still believe in opportunity for everyone, and I'm disgusted that it now comes down to MONEY. Universities (you would think) are by nature equal opportunities employers (of students) so HOW COME IT ISN'T EQUAL? Are we all supposed to gravitate towards better jobs at better universities because that is the way of it? Fuck that. I've met better students at my university than so many from more auspicious places (where I also teach). What am I so upset about? well maybe we need a bit more Jacobin in us, a lot more of Chairman Mao. If it's RIGHT you DO IT. If you don't- the TERROR.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Just a reminder that buildings are not cars- never more clear than in the case of Volos hospital, Greece, much discussed earlier. 

Experienced TORTURE yesterday sitting in a GARDEN CENTRE. There are certain pleasantries which seem beyond me, such as morning coffee and afternoon tea, especially, I discovered, in a GARDEN CENTRE. We were in 'the country' visiting my aging, genteel, parents, in their adult Disneyland (but not that kind of adult). Their particular selection of Gods Waiting Room is the sort of village you find in Midsommer Murders and their own house part of a special mini village within it where you have to be 'old' and where you can quite imagine The Mayor of Casterbridge might suddenly pop up in full period costume. It's only ten years old. Whilst Julie and I stood slightly nonplussed in the shrubbery a brightly coloured ambulance turned up to actually take away one of the inhabitants. He was rolled out all wrapped in white apart from his head peaking out and he saw us and said 'I'm going now!' This was Westworld for real. 
The week before we had been in St Albans for a wedding. The most curious realization here was that female fashions in St Albans have reverted back to something resembling those of 'Up Pompeii'. Still, St Albans is/was Roman. Last night we were most entertained by Vivian Westwood telling us we should not by any more clothes but the St Albans example seems a bit of a drastic attempt at recycling. Of course, she made perfect sense, and precisely because of this, also appeared quite mad, wearing nothing but a big two tone sheet and, apparently, boxer shorts.
Meanwhile Prince Charles was clearly very disappointed by the human race, and despite all attempts at philosophizing that we should be more natural and traditional (see above maybe) appeared increasingly, as, well, a PRINCE, that most unnatural of all creations. 
The Great New Tomorrow: forget it.  Today is far weirder.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The academic year is over. Time for recuperation, which for me means nursing gout,  turning off the mobile phone, only looking at e-mails painfully, reading a good book, and popping down to The Misty Mountain for breakfast. The Misty Mountain is excellent, for the regulars leave you alone because they want to be left alone, the landlord is gracious and only mentions the weather to make you feel at home, and it has big windows on the world (the High St). The mind drifts, ideas might surface. This morning's was an idea for a course titled 'HOW TO HATE THE ARCHITECTURAL ESTABLISHMENT'. Since I have almost a lifetime's experience of this it could be a winner.  
Novelist Patrick Hamilton is the subject of the book, great writer, repressed 1930's drunk- too much too young, biographer ill at ease talking about boozing, which of course is not necessarily boozing at all, just 'getting by' for many of us by now. Only disappointment with book; should have been written by an enthusiast rather than an evangelist. Deeply recommend to all his novel 'Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky'. Colleague said he couldn't cope with it because it was 'too real' but that is precisely it's strength, there is no redemptive quality in it at all, just fabulous description of our little lives.