Thursday, 30 September 2010


I am constructing a lecture. The first lecture for the First Year 2010. It takes a lot longer than you might think, I hope I don't balls it up. I look forward to whisky, I creek over volumes of excellent historical text which I shall leave out. I make sure the slide order works.
Then in flops through the letter box the LRB (London Review of Books). This is an excellent thing, I immediately pour a drink and sit in my chair and luxuriate in both. The usually horrible Deyan Sudjic writes strangely well on Leon Krier, who is, psychologically, an object of fascination for me. There's a good piece on whether bi-polar is bi-polar or not, and a lovies piece on Montgomery Clift where I would prefer more on the sex and the drinking. And they are all written long which is good, you get into them like a bath.
I've given up the newspapers, the LRB every two weeks is quite enough, along with the documentaries on the TV. This is the perfect afternoon, along with the news that Julie has just wind-falled a few thousand quid.

Monday, 27 September 2010


One of the extreme problems we face today is our inability, perhaps a structural inability (this is even more worrisome) to distinguish between an opinion and an idea.
I have listened to lots of crap over the last few weeks as the term begins, and no doubt I'm going to have to listen to a whole lot more (and what's more maybe this has always been the case) in which case we should worry seriously about the subject itself, and that sends me into a deep funk and.....
Lets just say, an idea can be dangerous. It is the result of a hopefully rational process of thought which may demand consequences not entirely pleasant to either those who think it or those it might be directed at. An idea tends to gravitate towards truth and maths. It does not involve notions such as 'architecture that heals people' except under strictly regulated NHS tests. You might as well demand an architecture which fosters 'lasting relationships'. Such stuff is baloney.
For instance, If I'm asked to think for a moment about a space which 'heals me' my first thought is the bar at the Riviera Las Vegas with the buxom Bulgarian cocktail waitresses who conspicuously moan all the time. This place has given me much pleasure and no pain at all, it is bright and vulgar and fabulous in my opinion, but that is not an idea. Neither is it an idea to posit that a nice old wooden chair set against a distressed distempered wall is 'healing', that is simply 'taste'.
Hold on to your hats.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


There is nothing as dreadful as Formula One. A bunch of rich kids trying be to just a little bit faster than each other and taking it really really seriously. If you want to think about about civilization, think about Formula One; watch and weep.
You might say, well it's the same with football isn't it? But somehow it isn't. There is something very real about Wayne Rooney sobbing on the edge of the bed in his '£300' a night south Manchester hotel after his assignations with local hookers in ill matched underwear. There is something profound in that tabloid line (and I think the tabloids were utterly disgraceful here, but I was pleased to read it) that 'What am I doing?' was the content of his blubbing. But hold on, what exactly do you expect Wayne Rooney to do? Whatever he did, for me, was a very real encounter with the very real.
This, I'm slightly amused by, is not the case in motorsport, and especially Formular 1. They may play with death (otherwise what's the point?) but there seems little evidence of that endeavour in the personalities of those involved. If they were all parading around in Nazi outfits with hookers and 'exposed' in the press, I would genuinely understand, but that is not what we get (we only get that from the 'honesty' of the owners). However, that is what they SHOULD be doing (along with the yachting community) if they have any kind of sanity.
Think of the drivers- Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss....twats, without a doubt, each time they utter anything you flinch a little. James Hunt comes out OK, since at least he played the playboy not unlike Graham Hill. I'm drawn to the thought that whilst racing driving must be the stupidest sport you might possibly indulge in, and that a quart of bourbon and a few pills might be a PRE-REQUISITE for indulging in it properly, instead we get almost the opposite!

(Maybe I'm unravelling here my liking for the sixties film Grand Prix, a film I have never quite understood my enthusiasm for).

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Cult

Blasting out The Cult's 'Sun King' brings back many memories, especially of a naked girl in a leopard skin coat who's polaroid I left on my work desk (drawing board) when I went AWOL for a couple of days pulling wheelies on my GPZ750 (she was on the back!) and living on nothing but bar snacks in red bars (they had to have red decore) in the late eighties. Luckily my employers (Simon Smith and Michael Brooke Architects- look 'em up) were cool enough to deal with such stuff and I revere them forever for doing so. They thought it was funny, I hope.
Even now, the eighties, even in my sodden new tweeds, repeat. I sit and the tunes in 'The Trench' are 'Blue Monday' and 'Sexpress'. I go, SHIT, I was there, that was me, with my stage amp and a futon in the bedroom and pretty much fuck all else, even buying Level 42 records. Time travelling, that's me.
Oh, and I wish to record that watching George Thorogood and the Destroyers live in Las Vegas, not only brought about the close nervous breakdown of my beloved Julie ('I can't remember him playing a guitar!' she said) but also the most acute piece of rock criticism I've ever heard in so few words:
'He's like a cross between Keith Richards and Larry Grayson' said Kit, and forever shall those words be savoured.

New Gestapo

Just in case you think everything's alright with the world, a colleague of Julie's phoned up very late last night having been told by the New Gestapo of his university that he should communicate in the correct way, ie; via university patrolled media. What kind of arsholes want to condition the way one communicates with anyone? What kind of mechanism is it in their heads that says you must use this or that? Of course they always dress it up under the wrap of legal paranoia, but I was at an art opening in a FUCKING LAWYERS OFFICE last night and I just wanted to kill the lot of them. I was wearing my 'Destroyers' tee shirt, George Thorogood and the Destroyers as you all know, and some twat had the nerve to say to me 'Oh so what are you destroying then?' I should have said 'You- you feeble minded parasite on the arse' but I was polite, and glugged the wine, wanted to destroy the crap art, and went to the pub for much needed recuperation instead.
Now lawyers are possibly more feeble minded than bankers, because THEY CAN ONLY BE IN IT FOR THE MONEY BUT DON"T HAVE THE GUTS TO ADMIT IT, for they sure don't seem to be much interested in life itself, in it's complexities and difficulties and my anger. They just parade around in shirts and ties with tidy haircuts and nasty little side-on coke habits to keep them sane. I could almost feel fucking sorry for them, if it wasn't that they were so stupid.
In the pub Julie said to me, 'You know you should be yourself more, thats why you hate those things because they make you polite ' and she was right, goddamn polite, fuck polite, fuck the New Gestapo in all it's forms. Hans Fallada's 'Alone in Berlin' is rather good on this.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Shepherds Pie

That Keef shepherds pie was the best I've ever tasted - a life saver (obviously). Honestly, fabulous, and so simple to make too....hold on....that's NOT an accident. If ever a cuisine corresponded to the great muse in every way, this was it- there were not many ingredients, the recipe was traditional, there were no unnecessary extras, it demands technique, and timing, and the taste profound. Good honest Keef food.
He apparently can eat it 365 days a year, and pulled a gun on a roadie who took a bite when he should have known better. I'll forward the recipe if you email me.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Felt kinda blue, Randy Newman blue, sitting as the only person in the 'Trench' stroking Patch who couldn't care less and wondering what the barmaid might be like in bed blue, since she has many assets blue. Decided to perk myself up with some 'Keef Richards special Shepherds Pie Recipe'. Now that is what comfort food sounds like to me, and Julie's out enjoying herself- and the recipe came from the ridiculous book 'What Would Keith Richards do?' So I got home and chuckled at my ridiculousness, however, others are no doubt tucking in to Katie Price's scrumptious goat cheese and bla as I write this so I think I've made a reasonable choice. Just think Marx had to live of bread and potatoes if he was lucky.
Term approaches like a big girl in a ra-ra skirt with a scouse accent ordering snakebite black.

Sunday, 19 September 2010


CHRIST! I thought as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling this morning trying to slow down time, over half the timeline anno domini to now was ROMANS!!!
Now I associate the Romans with pretty much organization, orgies, arches and plumbing and thats it. Roland Barthes got it gaily back to haircuts and sweat. There was certainly not much progress over one thousand years with say, clothes. A thousand years and your still wandering around in a bedsheet!
Of course, our poxy little period runs far too fast and still doesn't know what the hell it is doing apart from buying faster car to do it in. I figure we will best be remembered for armaments, pornography and drugs, the three cornerstones of our so called 'economy' (if we are remembered at all). Certainly, we enter a new Dark Ages precisely because we are deluded, hypnotized, by feelings rather than thought.
Yesterday I was looking at photographer Joel Sternfelds excellent latest book 'I Dubai' it's just a collection of photographs of 'us' taken on a mobile phone in Dubai, largely in a shopping mall or twenty. We don't come out of it too well.
I was also 'reading' Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Well lets just say I grazed the introduction, it's so long I wondered 'Just HOW will I read this? There just isn't the time!' Sure, because no doubt I'd soon be distracted by Simon fucking Cowell or some other bit of nonsense. No wonder I lay in bed this morning staring at the ceiling trying to slow down time.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Friday, 17 September 2010

Planet Rock and Sea Trout

Now the new 'radio' has arrived the walls resound to 'Planet Rock', the best radio station we know. Julie won't even let me turn it off. That's the great girl she is. There's nothing like knocking out some sea trout to Van Halen. So imagine both of us nodding our heads, and as we approach the moment of grand introductions to our courses, will we resist the worst of temptations? Will I surcome to my instinct and introduce 'The Gothic' via 'Mother Russia' from the 'Sisters of Mercy', historically and geographically inaccurate of course, but perfect in every other way? There have been some major mistakes in this idiom, notably Prof Alan Brookes introducing a staircase project via a full length 'Stairway to Heaven'. It's a fine line.
But buy Tivoli people, it's quality.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pope on a rope! God is dead! Get with-it everybody! (first time that phrase 'with-it' has been used since the seventies) BUT, given tonight's coverage from Mock the Week to Newsnight we are more thankfully aggressively secular than ever. Take the piss everybody- unless you want a better school place.


Just when I thought we were getting normal (awful) events conspire to trigger delight. Scott and Julie arrive in the Misty Mountain by accident. I thoroughly recommend lunchtime drinking; why drink yourself to death at the end of the day after work when you can avoid work all together and make better use of your time. Julie is in hell because her university want her to run studios of 65 plus with no equipment but a fresh promotional paint finish on the corridors. It was a whole nights' work talking through such lunacies. When I finally resurfaced and had slept off her university, I sit permanently with my fingers crossed in the hope that what is going to happen to me will happen, but it's touch and go(as ever) There is calamity round every corner at this time of year- the Phony War before real hostilities resume. However we reconvene our little revolutionary cell by joyous accident and with great humour, simply because everything outside the pub windows looks seriously deranged. 'Bang me up before you go go' George is hopefully enjoying more drugs and cottaging in jail than he would outside it, there's a Pope in a box being lauded by streams of young girls and boys, and the whole thing looks more and more absurd; this we say, is the end of the Roman Empire all over again (bought Gibbon yesterday). Our conversations revolve around numpties such as the Baader Meinhoff Group and maths. I never thought I would enjoy rationality so much (for we are surely not living in any). Then I go to the cash machine and ask for £30, it feeds me £200. I think it's lobster tonight and please don't shop me.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Reno Book

Just finished proofing the Reno book. Now the Reno book has already been proofed many many times, but there are still mistakes, there are always mistakes. We should put a thing at the front of it 'There are mistakes OK!- Just live with them'. But I'm chuffed, very happy indeed, it's funny and it's five years ago, which allows time to make it funny (In comparison to my novel, which of course I loath because it is a current obligation) it is a perfect little 100 page piece of writing with Julie's excellent pictures and somehow they seem to go together very well indeed.
There will be a first edition of 100, sort of A6 sized, hand made cover etc, £20. A piece of love and bemusement. To order contact me on or just come and see me at the university or contact Julie via

Sunday, 12 September 2010


So St Albans again, a land the kids take charge of. The inhabitants of this strange arena do nothing but ferry feckless youth from one enthusiasm to another and worry about them all. It is a land where it is impossible to be an adult, adulthood has been banned in favour of dogs and kittens and swimming galas and dancing classes and teenage yearnings for a week (of squalour) with all the rest of the adolescents of St Albans in Newquay snorting Lucozade pills on the back of half a bottle of vodka. They have taken over and its ghastly, they parade around in their River Island and their Primark and they stare at you in intimidating way when not peering in to their iphones.
But it was good, very good, a good dose of vitriol will help a great deal at the beginning of the academic year. They haven't killed me yet, and I can collapse infront of 'Octopussy' with a large one or two and reflect on past pleasures. Now Octopussy is an excellent film, partly because the women who might take over the world appear to be 'nice' (despite events) and James Bond likes them too. It's not such a bad fantasy.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Smithsons were...

Everything is back to normal, I can sip Stella, buy second hand tweed jackets and replace my £4 reading glasses with £250 reading glasses that look just the same. It is necessary to look ready for action in this world, and I'm doing my best. I'm ready, the academic year is on my doorstep; turn up the Foos and take a deep breath. After audio starvation in Berlin, I can only play one track at a time on my hairy system - all addictions are a question of dosage.
But sometimes academic life is actually a very beautiful thing, for amongst many resubmissions to be read at this time of year, I sat captivated in my lounge chair with a dissertation resubmission so pugnacious, vitriolic and above all accurate and well researched (what's more written like a rocket) that I worried my optician would smell my glugged enthusiasm as I sped through it (after all opticians get very very close!). Basically, this student had the balls to say the Smithsons were cunts (not exactly cunts..) This is a kind of heroism we see very little, I emailed the student immediately, and said; 'treasure this work and read it again when you are forty'. I sprang down the street, got sprung for £250 straight away at the opticians, retreated to 'the Trench', stroked Patch the cat who didn't give a damn, like she ever does. Smiled to myself.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Dragon's Den

Don't you think each 'Dragon's Den' wouldn't be full by now? Are we living in 'Logan's Run'?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

And so it really is back to realities of our lives, and Julie sweeps deep into depression just walking down Bethnal Green road on a saturday. She mutters considerable discontent. In due course, it's back into the Trench of Despair, where the inappropriately named 'Little John' is disparaging the existence of Robin Hood amongst considerable disagreement in a largely empty pub (now offering a 'free roll' of a weekday lunch - no choice of filling- beggars must not be choosers). 'It's all just a fantasy' he says, just before going on to explain that Adolf Hitler was 'quite a good guy' and then much discussion of various Robin Hood derivatives, or even the fact that we were at war with France in 1916 (!) Then of course it's to Tesco's, which Julie refused to enter, and I can understand, the pain inflicted by overhearing any conversation in Tesco's on a saturday is almost impossible to bare, and, for the first time in years and years, I've developed indigestion whenever I sip that miserable Stella Artois, so I too am in physical pain. Meanwhile there are riots over food and water in Mozambique.

Friday, 3 September 2010

So we return to london and it is crappy, super crappy. Of course it is, you could return to paradise after a month away and think it was crappy. But there are too many cars, too many people and too many objects in our suddenly tiny apartment, where there is so little room we keep bumping in to each other. Then again, we could be larger in size. We are also suddenly disabled by housekeeping which appears complex, not unlike organizing yourselves in a boat or a caravan. And then, communication with the rest of the world becomes equally problematic, being used to only the most basic, and I mean, most basic, of communication in Germany left us thoroughly insulated, and now we are not, and Tony Blair stared out of the television at me like a monster uttering his messianic thoughts and I longed for the innocence of watching the German zoo channel with the sound down.