Tuesday, 30 November 2010


A million seconds lasts a bit less than 12 days, a billion seconds is thirty two years. That could fuck your understanding of the present economic situation for sure. Meanwhile I'm watching 'Beyond Walford' on BBC3 where some crap actress is bloody well running my local pub ( well one of them) in the name of the 'Spectacle', which means they had an idea for making a program about a 'real' east end pub, and some numpty or collection of numpties under twenty five years of age said that wasn't interesting enough, and they needed a 'celebrity' to fuck it up. That (with the voice over) is the definition of the 'Spectacle'. And they say she becomes 'a real East Ender' at the end.
Meanwhile again, We'd like to thank all those who amazingly braved the cold and the strike to join us last night at the White Horse. It was lovely, thank you all xxx

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Book Launch Tomorrow

Just a reminder that we are launching our little Reno book between 6pm and 9pm upstairs in 'Blush' above the White Horse on Shoreditch High St. We'd really like to see you, those who can brave strikes and the weather.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


To be honest I prefer Julie's birthday to my own. In early August each year I enjoy at least two weeks of it, although 'enjoy' might be a debatable term, for it is undoubtedly an emotional minefield which has to be very carefully negotiated. For my birthday, well I find myself stating it, stating it in lectures, on here, whatever, as merely a sort of staging post. As all that is solid melts in to air one might look back at times more solid than these, but personally I have never enjoyed a better situation than fully bearded and slightly edgy within the university system. I am to some considerable extent, enjoying getting older. Of course, as soon as I write this, notice of redundancy surely follows, so like anybody, I must touch wood.
Benevolo points out in his majestic 'History of Architecture' that Victor Horta was the first architect to be, in his own lifetime, somewhat overtaken by events. The subtlety of this observation somewhat anticipates Andy Warhol's 'Everybody will be Famous for Fifteen Minutes' or even David Greene's 'In America anybody can become a Professor of Architecture for Fifteen Minutes'. In which case, I'm done in one way, but not in another.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

'Happiness index'

The most 'atrocious tosh' today from the government with regard to the new 'happiness index' Comics must be laughing. What the fuck does David Camoron think he's doing when he wishes to assess our intimate feelings, and how often does he want to do it? For one, if he asks me first thing in the morning how I'm feeling; the answer is a 'resoundingly pissed off'. By six pm, I might feel OK, I will have stabilized, this is something I trust to life; that you feel terrible, and then you might feel better given certain circumstances which may range from a good book to a nice conversation to a strong cocktail. I find it UNBELIEVABLE that such shit as a 'happiness index' has a place in newly astringent 'broke Britain', I wonder if Goebels instigated such a thing in the Third Reich. When I state that the most important individuals of the twentieth century were Lenin, Mao and Goebels...followed by Tom and Jerry...this rubbish just proves me right.
I'll be 'happy' when Camoron has fucked off.

Monday, 22 November 2010


Just been a way for a couple of days and I return to revolution! Excellent. Now I want to declare my solidarity, I'l be there, I'm not kidding. There are a few issues Julie has brought up:
1) You are unable to get up off the floor
2)You need constant supplies of whisky
These may constrain my revolutionary spirit. However, since at least I look like a true revolutionary, I must man the barricades at the slightest beckoning for possible TV interviews, and you know what, I'd rather teach at night and chat away anyway.
So, some students will have to bring me a collapsible bed at least, and I'll just order in a crate of whisky from.....somewhere. I'll also need a sleeping bag.
However I'm not kidding, I'm laughing, but I'm not kidding. many people remember the days of Paris '68 as the finest in their lives.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

So to Paris...

So I went toParis, Philipe Starke Paris to be exact, to watch the most charming of cocktail waitreses wearing an off the shoulder boiler suit jiggle those cocktail shakers with considerable appreciation of a huge tip. Mighty fine yes, but extortionate also. And Starke is stark I can tell you. Our room is a bunker of polished concrete with chocolat brown partitioning and a black carpet sqwiggled with helpful phrses such as àll you need is love`. It is so dark that once sunset falls, you wouldn`t be able to read a newspaper, and when night falls you get up for a pee in pitch black. However nobody is wearing their overcoats, excepting those of the fur coat and no knickers pursuasion, it is strictly Starke off the shoulder boilersuits. Style is a curious thing. The customers are equally branded, the middle aged archiects all loki like Jean Nouvel, their wives and mistreses like Susan Sontag, each fenale couple at the bar looked like elegant twins, inspiring thoughts of two for one ofers, and we sat their like Mr and Mrs Stig of the Dump which I was hoping was rather stylish in itself after half a century`s worth of cocktails. The rerson why there qre so many mistakes in this post is because I cqn`t see the keyboard.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


When you walk in to a pub and you find the barmaid wearing her coat you know the worst. I walked in to the Trench of Despair to find exactly that. Now in Paris they wear little waistcoats and in Vegas they wear bustiers and 8 inch skyscraper stilettos, all in the name of some kind of sense of service. Here, she's wearing her bloody coat, complaining of being ill, and the place has a faint tint of sewerage. I despair, I really do. Then she said 'Would you like a roll?' in the most abject way I could imagine, she was as ambivalent as an east end girl can get.
So you sit there nursing , in the dark and the cold, your miserable pint of stella and think, how has it come to this?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


The notion that the cabinet 'whooped for joy and banged the table' at news of the impending marriage of Prince William to whoever sinks us to a new political low.

Monday, 15 November 2010


The news of Sarah Palin's own 'reality' TV show this evening (hunting shooting fishing...fucking?) sent me running to the kitchen to cook toad in the hole. On went Planet Rock. Now it didn't take long for it to work. When Brown Sugar came on I turned it up and just like that scene in Gimme Shelter where Keef bounds in to his hotel room and just slams the demo on a cassette recorder and bends mesmerized as the cords fly out and begins to wiggle his bottom in that particular way, well so did I, but I was just bending over the frying of red onions for the gravy. I soon found myself doing a few Mick Jagger mini struts across the kitchen too, no easy task given it's extremely modest (but efficient) size. A few gestures there, a pout there, I was cooking to the Stones and it felt good. Next up the DJ, who clearly models himself on Clint Eastward in Play Misty for Me (soft tone, assured) reassured me that if I still had that Monday feeling, these next two tracks were for me. I do have that Monday feeling, I have that feeling most of the time. On came that fabulous intro to 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. Since it demanded respect, I sat on the stool next to the sink for that one and even added a felt castor under my drink, contemplating whisking the batter, with my past reeling before me, and imagining all those blokes in Ledbury or Leominster all just like me, but ...er....still there..listening avidly to Planet Rock as their major source of entertainment, like it may become mine. But it got even better, 'Nicky' majestically shifted me in to the eighties with a fabulous excursion into a piece of virtuoso Joe Satriani. Oh to live in the past.
(Palin will get $1m per episode)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Reno Book is Here!

Yes our Big Little Reno book parcel arrived this morning (each copy measures 10cm x 15cm with 96 pages of photography and writing, cost £20) and we are delighted. I've numbered all 160 copies this afternoon, we'll be signing each of course.
We are expecting to hold a launch party upstairs at The White Horse on Shoreditch High St on the evening of Monday 29th November, when we will unveil the little thing. Before then, I'm supposed to not flaunt it around. Of course, all of you are welcome to come and join us for a glass of wine to celebrate such an occasion. After all it does seem to take us rather a long time to do things, very much like slow cooking.
The book documents a Christmas spent in Reno in 2004.
Keep checking for confirmation of launch date and time.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Student Revolt!

Tonight's 'Newsnight' was a bit of a feast; The students are revolting, the Navy is incapacitated, Sarkozi is a twat. As ever we must realize that this is all a question of cause and effect, that certain things are inevitably the result of other things, and that maybe one hell of a lot of people have buggered up other peoples lives before they can even get to make them in the first place. This might be equally the case in poorest Africa or in the case of the UK students, where clearly, the situation as presented isn't fair; The people who have spent the billions of money that we now owe are not them.
Higher Education of course should be free and not associated in any way with whatever commercial gains might be connected to it. The provision of Higher Education represents any governments 'faith' in it's populace. Maybe they (youth) will (produce loads of money) maybe not (realize something else has to be done and take to the streets) It's as simple as that, but you should give all the opportunity to engage in the educational process as far as they are able to find out their options.
I support the student actions today. I am also hardly surprised by the violence which is vastly dramatized by the 'media' as 'mock shock!' Any reading of Badiou for instance, would illustrate the ridiculous rejection of historical fact that such whimpering represents. A few broken windows are nothing.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


I attended one of those 'strategy' meetings yesterday. Everybody has them these days of course, they evoke a certain sense of determination and goal in whatever pursuit you may be involved in . The problem is, at least for me, I haven't got a clue what they are about. Now since I am involved in education, if somebody asked me 'What are you thinking about?' I'd be able to answer it fine; I'd say Friday's 9.30 with the First Years on 'The Industrial Revolution and Faustian Development' it's an engaging topic which requires lots of thought and I therefore lie in bed and wrack my brains, then I get up and wrack my brains, then I sit in the pub and wrack my brains. Some people seem to make this brain wracking procedure 'research' and I suppose to some extent it is, but really the goal is merely entertaining said First Year for an hour and a half and that's about it. Job done.
I also like to sit at this and voice my small opinions in a hopefully entertaining way, and maybe this is research too? However, I'm not sure I would want to call it research, more like 'thinking aloud' (for when you read or write, you understand each word by saying it, just like it's music).
And to me that is just 'living'.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

A tiny moment of celebrity

The Trench of Despair turned into the The Triumph of Euphoria this evening as I found myself mugged by young girls who presumably thought I was somebody else. I walked in and found myself the centre of a commotion, bald blokes gesticulating and pointing and all of that- at me! However I couldn't understand what anybody was actually saying. It was clearly a proper east end pub party. So I took my seat to observe and stroked the cat. But I wasn't going to get away with such quietitude.
The centre of attention and her sister (I presumed) all in leopard skin, wanted photos wearing my hat, my spectacles, everything. I rather thought they were making my evening, for they were good looking young things (if a little excitable). They took so many photos I'll be all over Facebook tomorrow.
I came home to Julie, after picking up the potatoes and wine in Tescos and said: 'This look certainly works'. This seemed to amuse her a great deal.

Friday, 5 November 2010


We come in from an evening out, an anniversary to be precise, and we settle down in front of Gardener's World for a bit of peace and quiet before retiring early through exhaustion and difficulties with the world. Now some berk (perhaps all gardening berks) starts talking about the dead heads of some fucking flower or other as being 'lovely...so architectural'. Sorry what the fuck is architectural in the dead head of a flower? Eh? Can we go back to classical Greece here, or can we once more pronounce, THERE IS NO THEORY TO GARDENING.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Planet Rock

I will admit I have become rather a devotee of Planet Rock. This may be simply that we have acquired the worlds most expensive radio, and that it comes in components, which is most satisfying, but also a certain affinity with the wailing and moaning and latent violence of the 'rock voice' and all that goes with it. I find I can actually listen to Journey records. What's more I find myself, if I listen long enough, discerning the genre in a fresh way, for it is no longer a case of whether I like it or not, that time has long gone, it has become a case of 'isn't it interesting that.. whoever made 'Breaking the Law...Breaking the Law!' is singing exactly the same song as 'The Boys are Back in Town'.
The essence is certainly gothic, there are rambling, lonely, horny, alienated males in groups, even if they are females. And no matter how crap they are, and they are extraordinary loyal to the tribe. Where else would you get Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson and Jon Lord and every other idiot chewing the cud over the pleasures of never doing 'Smoke on the Water on Ice'.
Meanwhile, I'm reading Keef's biography 'Life' and thrilled that it's a bestseller (illustrating that........you answer that question). It's also amazingly good.

Dave Hickey

So I rise and I put on my big fluffy bathrobe (possibly the biggest and fluffiest bathrobe that this crazy world might provide, which is why Julie bought it with joy) I draw the blinds against the bright winter sun, fix myself a drink which includes orange juice, and sit in my big old armchair to soak in Dave Hickey's 'Air Guitar' (which I am due to talk about tomorrow). Air Guitar is probably the loveliest piece of 'theory' I have ever come across, precisely because instead of the usual inquisition in to language, that concentration on truth and maths which can get very tiring after a while, no matter how much you no longer fear depression and death in the name of the revolution, Hickey inverts the whole procedure. He makes criticism precisely about language, not what it means, that is taken for granted, but the deft and delightful manipulation of it. He even calls his essays 'stories', which reminds me of my old friend Jon Buck who used to call his architectural drawings 'pictures' in those young days when the truth would more often than in these days inadvertently out. No wonder Hickey talks so much of musicians and opens the volume with a quote from Keith Richards, although he would probably have preferred to open with a riff by Keith Richards, but then again that is the point, he has to write it like that riff, and he does it all the time- he plays 'air guitar' with words.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Browne Report

The problem with the Browne report on university funding, which I understand only through the pages of the LRB, is that it conflates the notion of education and business. Education may help you in business, just as reading Machiavelli might help you, but business is not the point of education at all, it can never be about 'jobs' and if it ever becomes so, and it is becoming so, you might argue you have lost the point of education all together. This is simply because jobs come with necessary boundaries, they tend, unless you are very lucky, to demand complicity with whatever system is at work. Education is independent of all that nonsense. Lose that independence, and you're in trouble.