Friday, 31 December 2010


Poleaxed in the wasteland. That's me dosed with paracetamol, fed up with pretentious Andrew O Hagan novel about a talking dog, in my fluffy bathrobe sipping hot whisky watching Carry On Doctor (a profound piece) yesterday afternoon. The wasteland is of course that time between Christmas and New Year, the time between realizing fully what a awful world we live in and the realization that my better version of it will never happen. It is a wasteland many of us have to endure permanently, which makes this symbolic time period more profound, for it is specially for us. All those New Year resolutions are so profoundly depressing. So you find yourself dipping into the Quality Street tin of pop-culture pleasures served up so conveniently on TV for this discrete period of utter internal misery (on purpose of course) and with luck out pops Tom and Jerry, St Bilko, or Carry On Doctor. I woke up this morning, Lazarus style, to the realization that there was a whole day of Carry-On's scheduled on Gold.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Country Life

I'm back (thank god) from more family in Peterborough. The weird thing about country folk is they appear to believe us city folk don't understand them, so that's why they are happy to vote in the Conservatives over and over again.
This bemuses me, there is still the Lord of the Manor, there are still the serfs who claw a living from the scraps. Meanwhile the countryside appears more industrialized than even Bethnal Green. Talk to a farmer and you soon realize that getting 25p from a £1.35 carton of milk is simply a 'the way things are' and that we waste 30% of produce or more in the service of the consistent looking fruit and vegetables in Tescos, and then nobody says 'this is stupid'. We seem to be breeding stupid. And then, as if this wasn't enough, everybody seeks solace in Primark on Bank Holiday tuesday. I saw them all clogged up on the ring road, I was clogged up in the ring road too, and when I finally arrived at the Great Northern Hotel opposite the station, their computers were down and they couldn't even make a cheese sandwich. Then I felt even worse on the cattle truck back to London.
Given the way things are going, when I was watching Dr Zvivago this afternoon, I was firmly with the revolution.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Right, the season of dreadful mornings is upon us. In my case this is only remedied, before doing anything, before venturing on to buy things, to sit quietly in the White Horse like a loony. Of course this has to be done before 1pm, when hoards of jovial groups of men arrive to ruin the peaceful restocking of my constitution. Of course I hate them, but I am indebted to the Lala's and Morgans and Alisha's and Cheequi's of this world for doing it all just for me at opening time.
Once away, buying things brings possible calamity on all levels. For instance, have you ever, as a bloke in baggy jumper and a thick overcoat and a cap and a beard, tried to buy make-up for your loved one in the MAC shop? Firstly you can't positively identify any of the products, and you have to consult one of the amazing female cryogenically frozen at 22yrs of age avatars who staff the place to get anywhere at all, and also you have no idea what you are buying!
After such events there is need for respite. I pop in to a pub, preferably one without celebratory groups of any kind, and I stare with bewilderment at my purchases, and wonder should I tell the barmaid she's got a fabulous arse. This would obviously not be a clever thing to do, but I am simply not clever at Christmas time, after all, cleverness has been banned, Jingle bells rule. The other night we watched A WHOLE EVENING of Christmas cookery programs one after the other. As a result we no longer know how to roast a fucking potato. We were doing perfectly fine roasting potatos ourselves BEFORE. I am now SCARED of the Christmas dinner!!
Good luck everybody.

Saturday, 18 December 2010


I slept a lot and now the snow is falling, there are figures out there, but not many, nobodies going anywhere and it's peace in the afternoon. Julie is, of all things, making a Christmas pudding, and we have Jackson Browne on. And all this happens the day after the end of term, when all the nervous energy of lectures and before lectures and after lectures has gone and you wonder what to fill it with, and dissertations are handed in with apologies of one kind or another, and parties have been had with Lambrusco and crisps. So I just sit rather vacantly, the snow falling inside my head with a glass of sherry, TV with the sound down. It hasn't been a bad term. I did the history of architecture in ten lectures.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

It's a Rush Revolution!

It's a Rush revolution! I get e-mails from REAL rock musicians (Ok I only know one or two) who say 'I love Rush!' One adds that the lyrics are inspired by Aynn Rand. No worries, I showed the Fountainhead to the students last week as an antidote just in case THEY ALL BECOME RUSH FANS. Me, I'm reckoning to write a fucking dissertation on that song soon and really piss the neighbours off in the process. Now there are not many songs I'm ashamed to like where that could happen. For instance, Dire Straits 'Heavy Fuel' is really horrible but I like a certain moment of it towards the end, and you never know what could grow from it. In 'Spirit of the Radio', amongst many bits, I love the ROAAR ROAR ROAR noises just before the track falls off the cliff into the reggae bit (and exactly how do you make music fall off a cliff like that?) I'm also fascinated by the 'Salesman!' emphasis in the lyrics just after, maybe that's an Aynn Rand reference, she wouldn't like salesmen, but well, Rush certainly made it 'against the world' and so it would fit. I will continue with my research.
I hope all readers have listened to 'Spirit of the Radio' at least once by now, and preferably loud, and alone, in the house.
And if you want to know where I get the inclination to enjoy rock like this, read some Chuck Klosterman. He loves Kiss.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


I really should research more. Go on You Tube and you find Rush playing with, yes (not Yes) the FOO FIGHTERS in Toronto, their home town ('Keef don't Go'- sorry) only a year or so ago. Of course the footage is from the little video cameras held in the air from an audience going 'berserk', going 'Wow MANNN THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!'. They are playing a 'song' called 'YYZ' which is the curious labling you'll find on your baggage tag if you fly to Toronto. I already don't want to go to Toronto. However, the Foo's are cool, and they redeem me by proxy. The 'song' sounds like a Yes track, or maybe King Crimson.


There are some records you really shouldn't like, I would include anything by Chris Rea in this category, but I still SORT OF like Steel River even though it makes me wince. The worst of the records I'm pretty much ashamed to like is Rush's 'Spirit of the Radio'. This particular 'Canadian power trio' comprises three 'consummate' musicians who since 1968 (!) have achieved a distinct lack of critical acclaim but sold godzillions of albums to people I'd be scared of, probably, given my own little scare with the demon (see below) because they'd be offering me a chat with 'Tor and the Snow Dog'. Neil Peart, the consumate drummer( and just listen to him on 'Spirit of the Radio'!!) was voted at least third worst lyricist of all time at least once. However it is the only thumping rock record which suddenly hits some reggae by mistake near the end, and that endears me to it. I think of Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture here (1966!). However I'm not very fond of Venturi's book even if I should be (guilt) although it does have some very bad lyrics despite technical virtuosity just like Rush. However these comparisons are unfortunately very limited, even if they are fun, for the truth is, if I were in Vegas right now and Rush's song was playing over the casino floor I'd boogie (sadly) without conscience and say to my companions 'But just listen to that drumming!'

Monday, 13 December 2010

Silly Arse

The prospect of a family Christmas party in St Albans, a sort of Abigail's Party with tinsel on your Lamborghini, was not exactly appealing. However I was surprised how far my body would go to resist. I really was prepared to do it, to put the Gringe suit to one side, but this turned out to be a futile and deluded effort.
The phrase 'to the pit of your stomach' has little meaning until you lie there in the early hours suddenly shivering, shaking and boiling at the same time, with all your joints feeling they have locked solid, and (this is it) farting the most abominable acetic putrid smells under the covers every five minutes for uncounted hours. Since the house we were staying in was built over a Roman graveyard, I tried to take hold of myself and account for the situation. I could only assume I'd been possessed by a literal spirit, having the time of their deaths.
Luckily Julie is a heavy sleeper, she was for several hours unaware of this putrid smell and my horrible situation, but when she finally rose to bring me some cure-all Lemsip (for I could hardly move by this time, the demon having taken hold) she arrived back in the room to accuse me of trying to kill her by gas, and stating that I was clearly 'rotting'.
At sunrise of course, the demon had to leave, and I slowly recovered, to remember the event as 'fart night' and fearing other 'fart attacks' to follow. This does not bade well regarding my participation in future Christmas events.
However it does rather strengthen one's belief, not so much in demons, but in the power of the sub-conscious. Mine definitely displays an alarming belligerence.
PS. While Kingsley Amis writes about shitting, and John Fante about bottoms, there is a strange lack of farting literature.

Sunday, 12 December 2010
Please protest the idiocy of Hackney Council, all done in the name of a clean up for the bloody Olympics.
ER..think about it...she's in control of what she does...right?

Thursday, 9 December 2010


'It looks like a real mess' said Scott '...the situation is excellent'. Paraphrasing Chairman Mao in the Trench of Despair is somewhat of a staple for us. We were also joined by Patch the cat, who had returned from a week of absence. The situation, thanks to an idiotic government policy, many gallant students, some cyber raiders in Wikileaks, and the move to expose top tax evaders and the general exposure the sickening vested interests on a global scale (Shell in Nigeria) all point to some kind of acceleration in crisis. Patch was uninterested, but it all sure cheered me up.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Mr Assange

I have a tiny (!!!) suspicion that Mr Assange's detention by the boys in blue is a fit up. What worries me is how many people care. It seems to me that a man dedicated to telling the truth should be rather celebrated, not 'fit up' with sex crimes in Sweden , although if you are going to indulge in sex crimes, Sweden is traditionally the place to get away with it.
In line with such curiosities, I wonder if I might posit that either 'Babestation' or 'Red Light Lounge' are the most honest bits of British broadcasting. The girls sit their wiggling whatever they have to wiggle under whatever regulations appear, rather ridiculously, to be in place. They appear bored and fed up (much like the rest of us) they don't have so many prospects either (being stuck there for hours) so give them a break, and meanwhile there is a certain mesmeric charm to their activities, a certain dedication, well bereft in 99% of mainstream programming.
If only Robbie Savage, who I greatly enjoy on Five Live radio, were suddenly in charge of the whole of the BBC. It would be more honest for sure.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas hats

There are some things that make you really want to die. My local Tesco's at this time of year is one of them. I say to the check out girl -'Can you please tell them to turn this crap off' which is of course those seasonal tunes that beg you to 'Feed the World' while you're about to eat it. It makes me really fucking miserable. Other things that make me want to die are 'The Weakest Link' (so I hope I die before I get really old) and all university meetings.
So it's back home to the Foos and make a pie.

Fog and Gringe

Awoke to fog, both internal and external. I like fog, I like the blurring of edges. This particular internal fog results from 'having friends round' yesterday, which is a considerable rarity in these parts, largely because it means lots of clearing up and worrying over stew beforehand, then a far increased frequency of chat during. Not that this is unpleasant, we awake, for instance, to 'tidy flat' as opposed to 'hell hole' which was the ancient incarnation of such events, and we have an increased and reassuring sense of ourselves. Old friends bring of course discussions on things 'you did' but can no longer remember and exacting re-enactments of when to begin air drumming 'Stairway to Heaven' and when things are going really well, introduce a bit of Level 42 ('Leaving Me Now') but only a bit. What is striking is most of it revolves around the past tense. We are now past tense people, even though the day itself might be described as 'wonderful' and all of that. And don't get the idea that just because it's the bloody festive season, this is going to happen a lot. These days when some dear friend announces an invitation to Dulwich, I say forget it. I've got my Gringe suit on.
So it's back to CNN for an update on today, no surprise that the major feature is on what will become the Quatar bubble. Faust eat your heart out. What I want for Christmas is intelligent essays on Faustian development.

Friday, 3 December 2010


One of the best times of my week is Friday morning when I get up at 6am to watch CNN. I'll be lecturing by 9.30. However CNN, whatever it throws out, throws out a certain global horror. At least they will laugh at the UK losing the World Cup bid, at least they will be as equally bemused as me that Quatar wins it for 2022. It is the contemporary global picture and it's not pretty for sure. And also, the sun comes up as I watch, which is lovely.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Vegetable curry

It is bewildering for me that I find myself still 'rocking out' while cooking a vegetable curry. It may be embarrassing to cook to Motorhead, but I still do, and to much else besides. It's even more peculiar that Julie appears to support my enthusiasm, she says 'No don't turn it down' while she's trying to watch the news, while a classic bit of Rush comes on and I can do some air drumming. Will I ever stop? After all I'd had a good day, not much happened, a couple of tutorials which seemed terribly important, and a meeting with History colleague who's ever so good and seems to sit very well within the university system while I sit rather uneasily but still, I hope, true to values of some description which allow me to hang in there. Could these values be rock and roll values? I'm a cowboy, on a crappy laminated lectern I ride?