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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Ned's Atomic Parliament...

Wally: This is the BBC.... (sound of a million ows emanating from a million Bluebottles followed by a very loud, echoey burp)...Indeed. Welcome to tonight's show entitled....

Ned's Atomic Parliament....

....or....

[GRAMS: Sinister Orchestra chord]

The Strange Case of The Wide Ranging Inquiry into Various Nefarious and Untrue and Unsubstatiated Claims About Events That Never Happened in the First Place Made in a Series of Stolen Documents That Never Existed in the First Place Either, With the Potential to be Expanded into a Full Blown Whitewash at Any Time Should the Accused Decide That They've Had Enough of Being Interrogated by the Lower Echelons.

[GRAMS: Seaside sounds, seagulls, candyfloss melting into a harem of kiss me quick hats, someone drilling. ]

...Christmas 1864. A flannelled fool saunters down Whitehall...

Seagoon: (in between whistleing The Marseilleise) Bluebottle, what's this I hear about you making a complaint about one of our upstanding Members? (grams: theatrical audience groans followed by sound of three hundred weight of treacle being poured over Beachy Head by a shoeless plumber from Catford) [aside to orchestra pit - wish they spent as long trying to fix the economy as they do standing up - ting boom]

Bottle: Eugghh, eugggh and treble eugggh Minstern Seangnoon it was 'orrible wot them rottin swines in thern Housings of Parlenment doneded to me. Nearly deaded me with his (Bluebottle drownded out by the sound of a million secret service men taking photographs of the same quiet, terraced house in a leafy West London suburb) and that was just for starters. Wickid it was. Nyack! I almost wish I had got deaded this week!

Seagoon: ah, fear not intrepid knee-knocking ginger limbed scout, with the powers invested in me by the Clacton and Area Dictrict Nose Fluting Association (Hon Sec) I hereby declare A Wide Ranging Inquiry into Various Nefarious and Untrue and Unsubstatiated Claims About Events That Never Happened in the First Place Made in a Series of Stolen Documents That Never Existed in the First Place Either, With the Potential to be Expanded into a Full Blown Whitewash at Any Time Should the Accused Decide That They've Had Enough of Being Interrogated by the Lower Echelons..... er-hem (Sings:) 'Kneeeeeeeeees and shoooooulders kneeees and tooooooooo-holdthatnoooooooote!!!"

(Cut to the Commons)

[GRAMS: the sound of 658 mystified ancient politicians; mass creaking sounds, sundry hemming and hawing...]

Grytte-Pyppe-Thynne (at his most emoliently George Sanders): Now, look here laddy. Much as the court sympathises with the complainant, really all this to do and hoo-ha is hardly serving anyone's interests. No, let's just see if we can't change your mind about remembering to forget all about that little incident with the (Grytte-Pyppe drownded out by the sound of a million secret service men taking photographs of a different, terraced house in a leafy West London suburb or possibly in Rochdale or in Wales...) Now, where is my esteemd fag and schoolhood wellington wobbler, Count Jim 'Special Branch' Moriarty..??

Moriarty: aaaarghh.. arrgh... supristi Grytte-Pyppe! A pair of pooves!! [aside to orchestra There's nothing like a pair of poooves for power.] Curse this blindfold.....which secret Parliamentary torture chamber are you in Grytte-Pyppe???

Grytte-Pyppe-Thynne: ....the one with the 40 year super injunction and time share apartment in Barbados on top (comes with free mutual non-extradition treaty....get one today!) Now, let's just see what happens when we tighten *this* little handle up, shall we....?

[GRAMS: sound of three ounce sparrow-kneed cub scout being pinged rubber band like across the Pennines before landing in a tepid bowl of puce custard.]

Seagoon: hold on folks, we can't allow our intrepid sparrow-kneed cub scout to be hurled across the United Kingdom in a blur of ginger and stale confectionery into a tepid bowl of puce custard ! At least fire him into a hot one! What what what? What's that I hear....

[GRAMS: sound of immense cavalry batallion stampeding across open terrain, quick screeching of breaks, then farting deflating bouncy castle effect....]

Eccles: 'Allo dere! (Yawns) What 'appened to der ern-gui-ery??

Seagoon: So much for the cavalry. Eccles, thank goodness you're hear. We were just about to start making things up without you....

[GRAMS: Massive MI5 sponsored splashing sound.]

Little Jim: He's fallen in the water!!!

Wally: that was the Goon show starring Harry Redacted, Redacted Sellers, Spike Redacted, redacted harmonica by Max Redacted, Re EllingDacted did the singing....

(For Tim)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Kvitova v. Bouchard - a feminist critique...

Well, this won't take long...

We forget that it's the Do-we-still-call-it-The-Ladies'-or-is-it-now-The-Women's? final day at Wimbledon but as luck would have it, manage to tune in just as the Ladies/Women are popping a few looseners across the net at one another. I've not really followed this year's tournament at all - impromptu post-Murray-exit champagne buffet celebrations aside - and all I knew about today's finalists was that Petra Kvitova (Vanessa Redgrave stars in 'Miranda: the movie') had already won Wimbledon once despite being a mere 24 whilst her opponent Eugenie Bouchard (Bridget Jones: tennis legend. Excellent!), aged even younger, was appearing in her first final and is the first Canadienne (is that a real word?) to reach this stage since....erm, ever? Bouchard was also, by all accounts, somewhat of a golden girl and a bit of a stunner.

Sisterhood being - as I fervently believe it to be - global, all this strident competitiveness, muscle-flexing and grunting and so on sits a little uneasily with the deeply buried unreconstructed hippy within me that feels that somewhere between Julie Christie's train belting off to London while Tom Courtenay haplessly grapples with a milk carton dispenser on the platform of Manchester Piccadilly in 'Billy Liar' and Madonna's 'Justify my love' video, something kind of got lost. Surely, this same voice quietly insisted, the Ladies/Women might ultimately be of more use to 'the struggle' if they could patiently help improve one another's cross court backhand as a symbol of their refusal to indulge the fallacy of male-serving hierarchy that is winning and losing and which pretty soon spirals into negative self-image and wilful submission to the patriarchal hegemony, before heading off arm in arm to deliver leaflets about Female Genital Mutilation to the pre-consciousness residents of Earlsfield. But both Ladies/Women looked pretty intent upon battling this thing out, so who were we to object?

The George Peppard-haired 'Guest Umpire' - another Eastern European sounding lady and one who seemed unable to pronounce her Vs (and several other consonants) soon called the warm up to a close. 'She's a lesbian' insists S. She seems to have a nose for these things, so who am I to doubt her wisdom? The camera zoomed in on an attractive brunette in the crowd wearing an attractive purple and green garland. 'She's not a lesbian', so we I assume her to be the Canadienne (I'm sure I've seen it spelled like that somewhere before) First Lady/Woman. Sadly no Cliff Richard though, that I could see, possibly buried deep beneath a 40 year super injunction somewhere in the Mutual Extradition Treaty-free Bahamas. (Well, you can't be too careful nowadays, especially when you're so obviously innocent.) So unfortunately, should it start raining as it's threatening to do, we'll have to make do without a 'Batchelor boy' singalong this year. And then, with no further ado, we were off.

The first two games go with serve then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, we are suddenly at Aantage Kitoa who wins the next point to break Bouchard, who seemingly still in warmy-uppy mode. It was pretty much all down hill from there for poor Eugenie, which is a big shame as I had been quietly rooting for her. Not, as you no doubt suspect, because of her looks - although yes, she is very lovely. No, I once had a pleasant encounter in New York with an elderly lady/woman called Eugenie. She'd seen me taking - as you do when you've never seen a building higher than a lampost before - photographs of Manhattan bulidings that to me looked absolutely like nothing I'd ever seen but which must have seemed to her little more than everyday. So, we walked along I forget which of the numbered avenues together chatting for about twenty minutes and it was all very delightful. And they say that New York streets are cold and unwelcoming.

Anyway, this other Eugenie pretty soon looked as if she would rather be mentally sauntering up one of the New York avenues - or anywhere - other than where she was, on centre court, getting a serious whupping from a so-called sister who seemed to be treating it as her sorolial duty to pulverise Miss Bouchard, take every Eugenie service game to aantage, break her sere and then win the second set to loe. Which she duly did. Indeed, the camera seemed to spend more time scanning the Preious Winners' Enclosure, focussing in on such luminaries as Martina Naratiloa ('Definitely a lesbian'), Hanna Mandikoa and Irginia Wade - oh, mustn't forget Canada's First Lady/Woman, who in addition to holding that spectacularly powerful position in Canadienne affairs of state, seems to have been last year's winner. That's multi-tasking for you.

The game - rarely has the word seemed so utterly inappropriate - gamed, the set setted, the match matched by Miss Kitoa by way of a stunningly emphatic cross court base stroke, the whole proceedings came shuddering to a halt in less than an hour. This seemed to take everyone unawares as there quickly followed an announcement that the traditional plate handing over session - incidentally, why is it that the guys get a beautifully wrought golden cup with handles and a lid and a base (*and* a plate?) and all the Ladies/Women get is something to serve the sandwiches on? Is it still actually 1876 but we've not been told? - would be delayed so that they could wind the roof over the court. As it was, this proved a pretty good call and not just because - as the otherwise impeccably courteous and 'on message' John McEnroe suggested - it would allow time for the Ladies/Women to get the stylists in and possibly glam themselves up for the dishing out of the plates. I certainly felt a few barely perceptible droplets of water when I went outside looking for an excuse not to have to hang the washing out. Never let it be said of us Brits that we don't love our royals enough to spare them the smallest inconvenience.

Sue Barker - seemingly oblivious to Sir Cliff's absence, but if she was missing him, bravely carrying on regardless - did her usual MC act. The Tournament Referee, who looks as if he may conceivably have been put into cyrogenic storage after every Wimbledon since the first one - but in a good way, was very gentlemanly and had a few consoling words for Eugenie. Georgina Peppard even got a gong - petri dish? - despite her barely comprehensible contribution - first serice?? Second serice? What *is* she on about? The Ladies/Women at the centre of it all, whilst not exactly on hugging terms were about as consoling/congratulatory as you can conceivably be when you know you're going to be trying to do exactly what the other one has just done to you/doing what you've just done to the other one again in about four days time. That's the modern professional tennis circuit for you. But at least from now on they'll both have something smart to hand the pickled gherkins round on.

Three of a perfect pair...

OK, it's been decided. I am now a woman. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know - it's alright for some. I flounce off for months without so much as a by your leave and then waltz right back in - wearing a FROCK no less - transformed into the divinest female form and demanding your IMMEDIATE attention as if nothing had happened. I know, I know,  and I really am sorry but, y'know, that's literature. I can't choose the words that write me any more than you could have chosen not to be born or to be born any other way than the way that you were. So deal with it, OK? I know I am.

And yes, before you ask, I DO have some idea of what I'm letting myself in for. I read the papers too you know. I know I could be on a hiding to nothing here - a second class citizen with my glass-ceiling-pummelled-brain in my tits. And I'd be good for only the one thing if you guys out there hadn't suddenly decided - en masse it seems - that it can be just as much fun to beat the shit out of as it is to fuck me. The two manouvres seem indeed, in some minds, at times to be interchangeable anyway. So, go on then loverboy; get my battered face tattoed on your cheek if it makes you feel a real big man, but don't you DARE think that you are going to stop me.

So you can think of this as you will - a cry for help into the wilderness? Almost certainly. A last great plip-plop of insanity tossed out into the binary firmament? Mmm hmm. A doomed literary experiment? Perhaps and probably. You see, the ball is pretty much in your court here. I can't really do this on my own. I don't need a man (necessarily) or a woman (necessarily) to complete me, obviously. But I do need YOU. I need a reader just as much as you need air in your lungs and the sweet scent  of bourbon on the breath. You will make me whole. You will make me breathe. You will bring my sighs and yelps to life, breathe fire into my rages. You will, one day I hope, make a woman out of me. Because, if I can be frank here brothers, sisters, right now who on EARTH would want to be a man?


Men need to change. OK, that didn't hurt, did it? Let's say say it again - all together this time: MEN NEED TO CHANGE. OK, group hug over, everyone back to their seats. So, Mr. Elephant, meet Ms. Room; we've said it: *men* *need* *to* *change*. It can be done. It should be done. It will be done. We are changing too - and that's great - but it won't be enough. It hasn't so far. So come on guys, show a little imagination for once. Let's do this thing!

So there we are - and yes, I suppose you'd have to call us a we now. Not in the royal sense, obviously - well, not YET. There was him and now there's me. And there, floating up above it all somewhere, another me makes three. A perfect pair.

For Lucy Ellmann.

Friday, 4 July 2014

The line of beastly...

Alan Hollinghurst wrote a novel called The line of beauty. It's set about as close to the heart of Margaret Thatcher's government as you could reasonably expect its unconnected, young, gay narrator plausibly to get. From what I can remember of it, which is not an awful lot I'm ashamed to say, it's a nicely written and engaging book which gently elides from a Thatcherite roman a clef into a moving remembrance of the other great tragedy of the period; AIDS. The book was well-praised at the time - indeed, it may well have won the Booker prize. But even as I was reading it I felt an anger bubbling up. It was very fine writing and a subtle critique of the Iron Lady's decade, sure, but it didn't remotely resemble that period of time as I experienced it, and I'm sure many others will have felt the same.The more I discover about that government, the less easy it is to identify anything of beauty about it at all. Someone needs to write another novel about that time. It could be called The line of beastly.

It would begin with a helicopter circling over a plush west London townhouse. We'd go inside the penthouse apartment and zoom in on a recently-asphyxiated man with a plastic bag over his head. A sullen security services operative would first remove the rope pulled tight round his neck, then the bag to reveal the a rouged and ruddy face, bedraggled perm and displaced large frame Jonathan King spectacles of a junior minister. We'd probably notice at some point that the chap - it would definitely be a chap - happened to be wearing women's lingerie. The building would be checked for incriminating documents - any found being efficiently freezer-bagged by our stealthy operative for discrete incineration well away from the scene. The security services guy would then probably spark up a ciggie, possibly even tut, and then look out into the bleaching sun low in the early morning sky/a cold, bleak Chiswick sunrise or similar, and we'd be off.

Not a bad opening, is it? I can tell you're already hooked. From here, having established our twin themes - sexual depravity and remorseless obscuring of the activities of the powerful from the view of those they govern - it would virtually write itself. You could, just example, go round the cabinet table and home in on each member - and, please, do feel free to acknowledge the innuendo here as, with the exception of the PM that so many of us voted for in the belief that things would be different with a woman, they're still all men. A chapter each on the sexual, business and personal misdemeanours of each portfolio - some might even deserve a whole section. You could throw in a few satirical asides about Westland-style business bungling and errant sons getting lost in the desert, perhaps close down a few industries wholesale leaving vast swathes of the nation idle and seething, just to add a bit of kitchen sink style grit. But you'd have more than enough just mining the sexual/political sadism seams, I should think, to come up with a suitably unsavoury and accurate depiction of Britain in the 1980s.

You could even, if you were feeling a bit po-mo and 'what the heck', coda it with a flash forward to the Major cabinet. The novel ending, perhaps, as we spin round the circle of grinning faces, chortling politely as the new PM is warming to the theme of his first address from the seat at the sentence: family values....back to basics... we drift off into white paper like a cirrus of cigar smoke.

So there you have it, in outline. A much better book about the 1980s. Now we just need someone to write it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

There was a house...

...in the borough we were raised in. An ordinary looking house we would have walked past many times when we were bunking off school - beyond the care of those in loco parentis. We walked and bunked blithely on, past the house and into adulthood and then our lives sped up and before we knew it we were organising a school reunion, looking back and counting our blessings, counting our lost.

Our lost and our missing. Some you never track down - perhaps they really don't want to be found. But some are still here. It's just that their childhoods have been lost, or have gone missing. You see something happened in that ordinary looking house while we were happily scorching through our childhoods. Something - some things - happened there that took that luxury away from others, made childhood summers dark and cast those lives from then on into shadow. Dark things happened when they were in the care of those in loco parentis

They will all come out soon - the details I can only allude to here. You will find out what we found out while we were trying to find our friends, to bring them back together to celebrate our childhood and our survival and that strangely enduring even though unbidden bond with those once so easily forgotten. For some, there is little to celebrate. They were in care but were not cared for. They were humiliated and abused by those to whom such wickedness seems to come so readily. These poor children saw beneath the bogus smiles of the politicians - Tory, Labour, Liberal, Sinn Fein; there, at least, some things cut across party lines. They saw the wretched narcissism beneath showbiz schtick. You will find out soon, at leisure, at several removes, what they were taught the hard way.

So spare a thought, when you do, for the victims. Think of what you and I had that they did not. Think about those words; duty of care. Think about those whose duty it is to care for us, all of us, and how they exercise it. Then we might have a better measure of the nature of the betrayal, the scale of the abuse.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Why Britain Is Much Better Than America - A Personal View by Roberta Swipe...

It's quite simple really. It's because we aren't (well, at least we weren't when I were a nipper) made to salute the flag.

It seems like a small thing, but it's quite important, when you think about it - namely to be made to subordinate yourself every morning, from a very early age. I mean, just think how bad you are first thing in the morning now, let alone how vulnerable to suggestion you were when you had the life experience of a day old newt to indoctrination and other covert operations aimed at turning you into a spineless, unthinking moron. And so early in the morning.

So this is why we are as we are and why they are as they are. We Brits - in particular those of us with Celtic lineage - have an innate ability to become insubordinate; at the drop of a hat, we can retire from the herd into a position of glacial isolation from which we can come to our own conclusions about matters of global import when necessary. "That's totally LOONEY that is", we can decide, completely unaided and exempt from the pressure of the media and our peers when, confronted with the prospect of going to war in Iraq - as at least 2 million or so of us did indeed conclude. You might think it's a splendid notion to bring about a catastrophic, tri-partite sectarian civil war there - as we have so successfully done (although you wouldn't know it what with all this rumpus in the Middle East we're allowing our airports to act as re-fuelling stops in order to aid the prosecution thereof...) - but we don't!

We are often described as two nations separated by a common language, but this is pure piffle. La difference (as our even more insubordinate, Bolshie and anti-American cousins across the channel would describe it) is that we will not be told what to do or think by anyone when we see our inalienable right to think freely being eroded. This is what defeated that other flag-saluted-before-assembly lot, the Nazis. When I was a kid, the only child who didn't attend the assembly was a little lad called Aaron who was Jewish and who consequently had the great good fortune of being locked up in a room on his own with a comic while we all groaned along to a series of interminable hymns whose every thou and art and wherefore revealed them as yet another Victorian stick with which to beat us. Some might argue that we have been too slack in allowing the Christian framework that used to be the spine of those apologetically mumbled assemblies to wither on the vine, but I see it as a virtue, a strength - something to be proud of. Another example of our great fortune to have been allowed to choose our own path. And long may that continue to be the case.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no soggy-eyed patriot who worships the shit-concealing autumn leaves he slips up on and sits there rooting for Petula Clark to win the Eurovision, crying for a decade when she loses out to an egregious Latvian novelty act dressed as bizarre bat/gekko hybrids. And there are a lot of things I love about America too - the lack of pretention, the aspiration to classlessness and democracy is laudable, even if those thiongs are not as firmly rooted as many Americans might think they are. The popular culture has been a cornerstone of my life. Equally, I hate many things about this country - its establishment and political leaders with especial passion. But the one thing I'd say in its defence is that this country has never tried to brow beat me into a ritual expression of my subjectivity. I may be a subject - it says so on my passport for a kick off - but I am free, as far as anyone is free to do anything, to cry foul, to see the vast conspiracy of subjecthood for what it is and to think, if not to shout at the top of my voice, "cobblers to all this SHIT!" in a way that those who, having effectively had their freedom to define themselves removed by having been brought up to salute the flag, may never be able to.

So there.


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© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Strangeways Here We Come...

Many of you will have read the recent news item concerning a blogger called La Petite Anglaise and, I'm sure felt an empathetic twinge of pre-recognition. The sad story of Catherine Sanderson resonates with us bloggers because it is constantly being played out deep in the primal reaches of our own reptilian brains like some awful and repetitive Oedipal dream - the terror of discovery, the unmasking of the shadow self - in short, being caught bang-to-rights and revealed as being someone you are not, and (worse still) as someone who is infinitely more interesting and witty than your are in real life.

Well, that sad day has come to pass here at Swipe Towers too. No longer can I walk the streets of Twickenham free from the fear of being mobbed by delusional schoolgirl blogettes, desperate for a barbed one liner tossed in their vague direction by yours truly to sustain them through the dismal days of their schooling. No more can I drift through the sea of fek-blood spattered goth girls, safe from their terrifying talons behind my painted-on-smiling Roberta mask. No, the game's up and, glad though many will be, I have to confess a certain sadness and self-recrimination that I allowed the mask to slip for just long enough for those bastards at The Grauniad to pay me back (with a hefty dose of interest, it must be said) for every inane and ruminative non sequitur I've left on their comments blogs over the years. They've certainly had their pound of flesh and - Christ, who'd be a journalist?? - I'm sure there'll be a few Farringdon Fucker-uppers downed tonight in honour of the hack who lucked out and - s/he must have been pissed, or stoned or something - happened upon my iTunes account details to find, there staring him/her in the face like a ball pleading to be kicked into an open goal - the work email address of the real, meat space ME! The little tyke pulling the levers behind the gargantuan persona, the Wizard of Oz - The Wizard of Ro!! Shit shit shit shit shit and dammit too!!!

Well, needless to say, the retribution's been swift and (disproportionately, I'd say) draconian. Employers have been notified and the HR locusts have been swarming around. They're even discussing a question in the House about it - is such criminally irresponible use of funds meant to secure the education of our best and finest widespread? How many other Bertas are lurking out there, doing little more than posting up inane drivel in the hope of impressing a frizz haired singleton from Bristol? When she's not queueing for hours on end to buy tickets online for the Arsenal, that is (three bloody hours today - and then they said that due to a technical error they were closing the box office until further notice and thanked me for my patience...) It was a nice little job too, on the odd occasion there was something that actually needed doing. And losing it now with the mortgage on the new house kicking in tomorrow, well - let's just say the timing could have been better...

So, fellow bloggers be warned. As you sit there wittering on into the ether, remember the sad story of the real Roberta. A grand doesn't come for free. The hardest way to make an easy living, and probably several other album titles by Mike Skinner & the Streets. Just go careful out there is all I'm saying - don't let what happened to me happen to you.

In the unlikely event that anyone's interested in what happens to me next, I'll fill you in on the likely denouement. The legal bods are saying that it will be pretty hard to counter the prosecution case with the best part of 400 posts cluttering up etherspace like a pair of bright red hands clutching a bag with 'swag' written on it (and believe me - they are the best part too - you really don't want to see the stuff that didn't get posted.... I did consider the nuclear option (delete blog - it's tempting at the best of times, isn't it?) but after you all losing Brian the same way and what with The Spinster emigrating to Thailand to become La-di-da Gunner Footman's pencil sharpening bit of rough, I decided I couldn't go through with it. Besides, I guess I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. In any case they say that with good behaviour I could be out by 2037.

Obviously prison's not going to be a bed of roses. I'm reminded of my mate Rob's appraisal of the Jeffrey Archer incarceration - "he'll come out of there with an arehole like a blood orange" - hardly a recommendation is it? For all that, I must be positive. And, bearing in mind the current lax state of the institutions at which this here latest recruit to Blogs Eleven will be residing At Her Majesty's Pleasure, it's not altogether inconceivable that I may even be blogging again within the year. Apparently, most of them are wi-fi enabled now (well, it's for the illegal immigrants - they wouldn't come here otherwise but go to Sweden to run their sex-slave industries instead....a sort of not very sophisticated version of the brain drain, apparently...) and I'm told that you can even get your bandwidth upped through the judicious trading of your amphetamines allowance. (In fact, for a Henry of sensimilia you can get a bloody chainsaw and a pump action hand gun...)

Anyroad, I just wanted you to hear my side before, in its mis-spelt and politically correct fashion, the Grauniad breaks the story nationally...



© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

The Boy With the One Track Mind...

I bought the Sunday Times yesterday (and no, before you get all aeriated, I'm not going all New Labour now we've joined the propertied classes - it had a free DVD of One Plus One in it, if you must know. See, bit of culture and that) and there's an article in there about this tart. Apparently Girl with a one track mind is a freelance camera assistant (surely they can't be that difficult to operate...??) and she's been working her way through the casts and crews of what remains of the British film industry (I bet that Puttnam gave her a good seeing to - he looks like a right saucy sword swiveller, doesn't he? It's the beard, I think...) and posting up the (incredibly interesting, I'm sure) particulars on her eponymous blog (although, apparently she also witters on about films a lot as well, making her a girl more of the two-tracked mind variety by my reckoning...whatever...)

Anyroad up, GWAOTM has just become the latest blogger to have her highly riveting sexploits published in good old analogue* book form. So, after years (well, a year) of trying to persuade the sceptical world of publishing (and radio, Reality TV, DIY show hosting, mail order catalogue modelling etc.) that Roberta is the greatest thing since sliced wotsits, I've finally realised what I've been doing wrong all these year(s). So, brace yourselves dear, gentle readers for the new look Roberta Swipe Show. That's right, from tomorrow, you and the rest of the world of Global Publishing can sample the delights of the Boy With a One Track Mind.....(be warned, if you don't have much time for Goth girls splattered with fek blood wearing fishnets as string vests, I'd stick with Spinny - at least you know what you're going to get with La Spinster. Well, you know what you're not going to get, anyroad...)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have beggars to flog and a podcast to tape......


* will Self: "they're portable, you don't need batteries for them and they last for hours..." (books that is - filth!)


Bobcasts now available at iTunes!!

click here to hear our regular Bobcasts!!

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© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Double Barrel...

Trip to Uxbridge today for a favourite colleague's leaving do. Wasn't looking forward to it but learned a lot. Firstly, if - unlike me - you've ever wondered where the well-dressed-but-practical Scot turns when the conflicting demands of pragmatism and elegance collide, wonder no more. They're all here at Utilikilts.com, as I discovered from a very learned Computer Services employee today. I also learned that, despite not having seen her for several years (during which period she has rooted herself even more firmly into her position at the number one spot in the chart of The Most Glamorous Librarians in the World, a position I find it hard to see her relinquishing for some time) I still have to check myself from calling Rowena M-G Rowenta M-G. She's without exception the sexiest person who is ever likely to come up to you and ask you to do something more quietly - and I should know, I've been out with a few. Well, one - but trust me on this. Early thirties, slender without appearing tall, bronze smears of mascara above each eye and a permanent (and very sexy) frown that makes it look as if every male who passes before her is being assessed for suitability in the unlikely event that she should ever leave her husband and be in need of a replacement. She shimmies in wearing a cool, dark patterned shift dress and saucy-as-you-could-reasonably-expect-anyone-to-wear-on-a-hot-summer's-day strappy heels. She still looks wonderful. I don't get to talk to her - indeed, never really did talk to her much, as if there was some mutual understanding that it was probably not a good idea that we get too familiar, for some vague but very good reason. Probably delusion on my part, but that's how it always seemed. The only things missing were the eliptical spectacles and the long finger nail to those thin scarlet lips and the shhhhhhhhhhooooooshhhhh sound she would make as she pulled you into the stationery cupboard to check your library of congress subject headings....

Which double-barrelled reverie led nicely to a converstaion with E.C. regarding her forthcoming nuptials. We didn't see eye to eye when she first joined, so I was excpecting a bit of a trial, but she's quite a laugh when in 'civvies'. Was she keeping her name, or would we need to memorise a new one, I asked? She and her intended are still wrangling, but she intends to keep it. They're toying with going Dave & Ansel Collins on it, apparently. There followed a rambling discussion of the employment law implications in retaining your maiden name (never ever sit at the same table as your boss at these things, btw....) before I suggested that they combine their two surnames to make a new, more interesting hybrid. She toyed with this before asking, why not just start from scratch and call yourself whatever you want? Or, I said, warming to the theme, give yourself a single word monicker like Sting or Cher or something, or those players like Cesc and Ronaldo and Gio who just have a nickname on the back of their shirts? She is henceforth Mrs. Erinho...




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Telly...




Footy and podcasting aside (see previous post) and after having spent most of Saturday morning bundling the precious record collection into 2 dozen cardboard boxes (wincing every time S. dangled the occasional one, Michael Jackson/baby-style out of the flung wide open window), there wasn't much else to do but watch the box, really. Fortunately, it was probably the most worthwhile weekend's schedule I can remember for a long while. Friday night got the ball rolling with an excellent, if highly damaging to those rose-tinted memories, documentary - Blondie: One Way or Another. The Beeb seems to have realised that most 40 somethings are by this stage of their lives either too frightened*, too old or, in my case, too pissed already to pop out for the once obligatory 10pm pint or three of a Friday night. As a further incentive to put the slippered tootsies up, crack open another semi-frozen can of ersatz Beck's and try to remember the names of all the band members of the once familiar groups lined up in a veritable blizzard of archive footage on BBC 4's music nights, they've started putting similar rock/pop content programming on Beeb 1 in place of Ross's execrable TV outing (stick to the radio show, JR - it's tops....)

Blondie: OWOA, was definitely a doc. of two halves. The first grabbed the back of the spine and ran an impeccably manicured fingernail up the vertebrae - mixing excellent footage of the perfect pop band in the early to imperial phases and fascinating insights into the creative processes (the painstaking layering of the classic 'Heart of Glass', virtually playing the song string by string, drum by drum to achieve that timeless vibrator-on-erogenous-zone masterpiece). But sadly, the second half degenerated into mindless, petty name calling and squabbling. Things were pretty bad in the Blondie doc. too - the ousted members trying to use the band's induction into some Hall of Fame or other as an emotional crowbar with which to jemmy themselves back into a nice little earner. The resident members, pouting in ugly fashion from the lectern, awards in hand, Deborah Harry looking especially sour, like a joyless NJ hooker passed by once too often by a bloated businessman in search of a younger spec.

Things went from bad to worse when Pete Doherty turned up on some C4 music show (forget the name) with S. calling him a useless tosser and me getting perhaps a little more protective of him than he has any right to deserve. He does sadden me, though - so obviously gifted and - more importantly, I think - so evidently all-at-sea in the phoney world of interviwers like Laura Laverne, struggling here against the straight bat with which PD played her increasingly inconsequential line of questioning. Left alone with a sad Spanish acoustic guitar, he looks to me to be a little too proficient-through-the-haze-of-the-crack to be as '4 real' as I'd hoped he would be when the Libertines emerged. That said surely he should be left to live out his dream that he's a throwback to the age of the romantic poets without the tabloid sqwall. A depressing end to the night's viewing.

Saturday night's opening installment of Beeb 2's History of Light Entertainment series lifted the spirits though. Fry at his least unctuous and most avuncular guided us through a secret history of the double act. From its beginnings in vaudeville, where the doubling up of the artistes helped to deliver the material to an often rumbustious and disorderly audience (wha'ppen to them, you wondered?), through the highpoints of the seventies, the decline (Little & Large - no thanks) of the eighties and partial resurrection (Vic & Bob, Walliams &a Lucas) of the archetype in the 90s and noughties. The best moment was, of course, provided by the inimitable Eric Morecambe. "What would you do, what do you think you'd be if you hadn't become a part of a successful comedy double-act?" "Mikeandberniewinters", replies a pipe sucking Eric, before the questioner's even had the chance to finish asking him. Class.



Sunday was the long awaited premier of free Film4. If the aim was to promote the 'new' station as a bold, sassy purveyor of qualidee movies, they couldn't really have topped the always engaging, so-subtle-it-can't-be-American joy that is Lost in Translation. For a one metaphor movie (but Boy! what a metaphor!!) it gets better with each viewing, despite the familiarity. It's like staring at one of those beautiful geometric Islamic art ceilings or walls. The patterns don't change, you just see extraordianry new combinations in what was there all along. The scene that grabbed me this time was the one where Bob is shooting the whisky commercial. It's a subtle but highly effective example of the alienation that Marxists used to talk about before we all became happy citizens of global capitalism: Bob doesn't know why he's there or what he's doing and he's being given inexplicable instructions that will lead to him doing something pointless for money. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

All that and Brazil still to watch on the hard drive....


*Aggresively Premenstrual Binge-Drunk Females litter the gutters of Britain just waiting to pounce on unaccompanied, beergutted males, pissed-up-love-talking them into extra-marital affairs that end pretty much where they began on coke can- littered wasteground with not a soul around to hear the departing sqwauks of sundered love - "aaaaaaaarghhhhhhhhhYOOOOOOOOOgooooofeckYOOOOOOOORself!!" as they stumble home, bandy legged (and most likely) impregnated with a stranger's seed. Or so S. tells me, at any rate.

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More Viv...



Yesterday, S. and I finally did something about our woeful telecommunications situation. My old PC, itself a hand me down from the Tottenham supporting Bro-in-Law (you see, they really can't be trusted..) has never been the same since I somewhat foolishly attempted to secure myself a Russian bride (there was a very tempting 2 fer deal and I happened to have a few roubles left on the old Barclaycard - you know how it is...) and somehow downloaded what I believe is known technically in techygeeknerd circles as "one almighty motherf***** of a Trojan" (I thought they were supposed to prevent unwanted occurences, not cause them!) Well, whatever it is, this virus or pest or whatever has made use of the PC if not actually impossible, then certainly frustrating and erratic (it only allows internet access in 30 minute bursts - hardly conducive to the sort of seriously wrist-straining uses to which I had been hoping to put this exciting and progressive interactive technology)

So, finally tiring of my curses and mug smashing and work surface kicking over, S., with the pained expression of one who knows that all resistance is useless, agreed to allow me to spend a small fortune on my credit card to purchase the nice looking laptop she had picked out (with no knowledge of the capabilities, memory size, RAM, ROM, Wee-wee Pooh pooh etc. of the specifications). Fortunately, she chose well (100 GB memory and lots of other numbers and figures that sound very impressive, even though I understand them not a jot) and for an additional mere "no beer for the next 3 months" we were fortunate to be supplied with a wireless router so that I can now annoy the wits out of S. by cackling maniacally along to old Vivian Stanshall radio documentaries whilst she is attempting to re-watch the Coronation Street omnibus in between despatching me to the kitchen for another can of El-cheapo Primus Premium Strength Belgian Lager &; c from the comfort of my own living room.

So, should anyone wish to do so, all you will need in order to simulate the Roberta Swipe Sunday afternoon experience is the following:

One wirelessly routed HP laptop.

1 pair headphones.

4-6 cans El-cheapo Primus Premium Strength Belgian Lager (chasers optional).

One Vivian Stanshall Radio documentary (Click on the Radio 2 Documentary link here - it's about an hour long and is narrated by Stephen "Steve" Fry, but don't let that put you off...."The Young Ones" is hilarious too - done in his "old fruit" voice. Brilliant!)





© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Surprise...

If there was ever any doubt that the relatively young medium of popular song has grown up and is, in the right hands, capable of providing the kind of eloquence to which we would ordinarily turn to literature, it shouldn't persist beyond a listen to the new Paul Simon LP, Surprise. . Simon's new album is a thoughtful and moving meditation of the ageing process, the battle between faith and reason and whether it's really necessary to dye your hair "the colour of mud" or do "900 sit ups" a day?


Like his fellow New Yorker Lou Reed, Simon is one of a small handful who have consistently managed to pull off the tricky business of bringing the eye of the novelist to the will o' the wisp fondant fancy that is the popular song, without the whole thing crashing down in ignominy under the sheer weight of pretention. Simon is the Upper to Reed's Lower East Side, and his wry, headshaking, permanently perplexed NYT-reader schtick might not be to everyone's taste (there are probably people in the world who don't find namesake Neil's plays funny for similar reasons). But these two contrasting voices would both demand a place in any pantheon of great American pop writers - indeed, you could arguably axe the pop from that sentence and brook few dissenting headshakes. With the virtual shelves of the world's music emporia filled top bursting with 57 varieties of shaggy troubadors all with a sensitive singer-songwriter pose to peddle, now seems a good time for a lesson from one of the old masters.



This latest offering shares an air of self-reinvention with career pivot that was his 80s masterpiece of cultural hybridity, Graceland - though it would probably be asking a little too much of the current release for it to achieve the same status as cultural landmark of the earlier record. Peered at from our valley of retrenchment, through swirling post-9/11 dust clouds, Graceland, with its gentle fusion of township grooves and Tin Pan Alley pithiness appears to us now a tower of progressive US liberalism, stood proud among the rubble of the Apartheid system that seemed to crumble in its wake. It certainly wasn't down to that tiny silver disc that Mandela walked blinking and frail into freedom, but it nevertheless captured something important in the air at the time. While it may no longer be possible for pop records to resonate as powerfully, it's still a joy to hear a great lyricist pacing the ring, unphased by the confines of each 4 minute round, his array of jabs, jive and feints in fine fettle - as Simon's evidently are on Surprise.



And it certainly is a surprise. From the first sour, contrary chord shifts of the opener, 'How can you live in the north east?', the immediate response of the listener is to scrabble drunkenly for the iPod in the mistaken belief that you've wheelclicked a notch too far down the list of artists and have alighted on a previously unheard album by Pavement. Brian Eno, recruited precisely for such effects, one imagines, does his work well. But then that familiar Simon voice, a deceptively adaptable manque, floats in, singing wide-eyed about watching the fireworks until the fireflies come out, "happy-go-lucky, 4th of July". An abrupt mood cut comes with the bellicose, nagging refrain of the title. On the surface, the song descends into a plain-speaking paean to fundamentalism and the straightjacket of organised religion:


How can you be a Christian?

How can you be a Jew?

How can you be a Muslim?

A Hindu?

How can you?




But as Simon's accusative lyric unfolds, another timely theme emerges as he asks,


How can you build on the mouth of a river

Where the flood waters pour out?



And another pattern emerges in the song's fabric. For this could be the same Mississippi Delta that we recall "shining like a National guitar" in Graceland's title track. Now washed out, it's tenuous communities divided, embittered and angry, just like the narrative voice. The contrast with those opening images of an innocent near-patriotism is intentionally stark. This is the latterday pilgrim's America he sang of on Bookends, now cleft and corrupted, it's Dream perverted:


I've been given all I wanted

Only three generations off the boat

I've harvests to deny I planted

I'm wearing my father's old coat




It's a vivid portrait of polarised, traumatised America, and Simon's bitterness is all the more effective for being reined in. The song sets up the album's key themes - the alienation of liberal America, the solemn ledgering of the good and the bad, the done and the not done, the collossal natural backdrop that looms larger even than the weight of parental responsibility (seen from above and below) - mountains that used to be rivers, rivers that flood, drowning what used to be mountains and that "endless sky" filled variously with fireworks and stars - to Simon's existential handwringing.



The shadow of death looms too











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1978...

I'm back in 1978. In my head. Trying to write something about the Boy with the Hole in his Heart and Crapper and me and inventing a female lodger who moans strange messages back from the future that my fictional self and friends record on our boxy black cassette recorders and who can bind it all together (fictionally). Trying to get the background, the context clear in my head before I read anyone else's account - avoiding the spin that time and change puts on things, the accepted history of events, those phoney truths. 'The Winter of Discontent' was looming (was it?) but it meant nothing at all back then - when it came, just a few black bin liners littering up the Green and nothing else on the news but how they couldn't even bury the dead. Nothing now, is it? (Huff. Post cites 200 odd dead and 700 plus wounded already in Lebanon/Israel) '73 was worse in the memory - at least, more impactful. No power. Or too much power? In the wrong/right hands.

This is my spine. I just need to shape it, contour the vertebrae of memory to fit. But it was only later that those big but half-remembered events would become important. Important for what wasn't (couldn't be) known then, not by us kids, at any rate. Important for the twists and turns in which this defeat (because it was most definitely the point at which whatever battle it was that we'd been fighting in this country since the Peasants' Revolt was about to be lost) would play out, would variously shock us, assuage us, pamper us and scalp us. In short, how Working for the Clampdown would impact on our lives. You may have, but we didn't see it coming. For instance Crapper would tell me on the bus that his mother (a highly intelligent woman with no vested interest in going Tory) was thinking of voting for Thatcher. Because she was a woman. No other reason. So that's the juncture of history we were at and that needs to peep through the prose, beef it up without larding it out. You have to tell two stories (at least two) when you write - your own and everyone else's.

So this will be mine. Dim remembrances of slightly fetid bedrooms and lying awake in a mews in Soho as the disco downstairs pounded away. Walking around desolate Berwick Street market on a Sunday morning, rotting veg leaves and posters for 'Sex & Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll' gently flapping. Most things boarded up, those that weren't would have looked better if they were. Townshend's Magic Bus bookshop off Richmond Green with it's huge board of button badges as you walked in, spending hours there reading the magnificent collection of Rock books in amongst all his new age Meher Baba stuff and not knowing that Ena was working there and that we'd be working together now in this unimagined and far off time. (Maybe she could be my messenger?) Flourescent socks and weird gold lame waistcoats my Mother made for us, barely worn. (Our Teddy person phase). The Jive Dive.

Before barcodes (when did they come in, btw?) Before Monetarism. Before a lot of things. Before we all got a hole in the heart. Do you think it has legs?



© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

An Opening...

Troy always got the better of me at trades. Playful adversaries back then, we’d sprawl lengthways on our hips, set squares of arm propping us up head-to-head over the thing we both wanted – an LP, a Beatle book, an album insert, some silly thing we’d bore with and want to swap. Troy’s granddad shirt would v open with his stretched-out-cat repose, exposing the scar that ran up his sternum; a small rule worth of bubbled blisters, a vertical zipper of flesh. Troy was The Boy with the Hole-in-the-Heart, and he wore his scar tissue as proud as any sheriff’s badge - though he was more Milky Bar Kid than High Noon of course. He wore thick, milk-bottle bottom glasses. They exaggerated what was only a hint of a squint without them. Each faded denim iris was projected slightly more askew by the extreme magnification of the lenses. They seemed to float, two gently straying goldfish bowls full of eyeball.

Always intense negotiations, our protracted haggles could drag on for days – your Walls & Bridges for my Red Rose Speedway; my Some Time in New York City and Wings' Wild Life AND Live Peace in Toronto for your Love Songs. As the stakes rose, his front teeth would gnaw down on a plump raspberry dimple of lower lip, tongue clicking as if echoing that of some internal abacus calculation. We’d each retire to umm and aah our respective umms and ahhs, Troy Stone, The Boy With the Hole in the Heart, plotting the elaborate temptations, the tie-ins, add-ons and cast-offs-willingly-surrendered that would seal the deal. Eventually, overwhelmed by the audacity of the whole enterprise,the vast and elaborate honeycomb of the newly ownable opened up before me, I would succumb, only for regret and (shamefully) rancour to brew and fester until, a day or so later, I could see the trade starkly for what it was and feel all the poorer still.

For not only had I allowed myself to be denuded of a record or annual or whatever it was that, just by owning I had inhabited and which was in some way I could not - and cannot still - articulate, somehow an expression of me, of my personality; I had, furthermore, compounded that loss by colluding in Troy's evident gain. I became, therefore, an abject George Bailey to Troy's Potter, having ceded to him the one thing that he didn’t already possess. All kids are fickle, I suppose, yesterday’s no-brainer forever elides into today’s deep regret. But more often than not, in these transactions, I seemed to miss what I’d parted with more than I was ever enraptured by what I'd acquired - once the thrill of the cutting of the deal had subsided. Maybe some people are just born better at knowing what they want and then going out and getting it. But this should have been a useful lesson, had I taken the trouble to learn it early. Don’t give up what you value. It’s never worth the loss. Like the man said, "you don't know what you got, until you lose it." The thing is, with so much stuff out there to have, it wasn’t so easy - even back then - to know what was worth clinging on to. And sometimes it can take a while to realise you've lost something at all. By then, of course, it's usually too late.




© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Old, New, Borrowed & Blue...

In honour of the forthcoming nuptials, and what with the recent craze (see Molly, Billy, Patroclus et. al.) for meme (it's just been meme, meme, meme of late, hasn't it??) I thought it was about time somebody did something a bit more experimental than merely listing the random playlists generated by their i-pod. This, by the way, has nothing to do with the fact that I've just bollocksed mine up by trying to format it as a hard disc drive so that I can use i-tunes on both the old Bro-in-Law's hand-me-down PC and the (I'll whisper this so as not to offend A. Radiographer...) brand new, state of the art, very expensive, wi-fi-enabled laptop we bought at the weekend, along with a swanky new wireless router for a stupendous amount of moolah. All 2,897 of the songs I'd painstakingly loaded onto it over the last 6 months have been wiped off. There's now just one track on it - 'Slo Fuzz' by Sol Seppy, a freebie off i-storethatsellsyoustuffyoucan'tfuckingwellplay. It seems to like that one. (Serves you right, you cocky cunting rich girl, I hear you cry - and I can't argue with you on that score. After all, there's nothing that warms the heart more than the techno sob stories of over-privileged, underemployed blogtossers, is there?)

So rather than set you a quiz in which all you'd have to do is track down 'Slo fuzz' by Sol Seppy and memorise the first line, I thought we'd do what I was always being told to do when I were a nipper - namely, make up us own entertainment. (Although, come to think of it, nobody in my family actually spoke anything like that at all.) The rules are simple enough for an Asda Window Display Operative to get their head around - simply post up the following:

Something you've already posted. (The blog age reaches its celebratory self-conscious phase...)

Something you hadn't previously posted. (But its still got the potential to surprise...)

Something someone else has already posted (or just the link, if you're squeamish about all that beastly copyright jazz). (because it's ultimately a very generous medium...)

and......well,......

....something that's blue. (because......erm...)

Oh alright, it's a shit idea, but I've already typed it up this far, so I might as well stick with it to the bitter end, I suppose.....

(btw - Re; the nuptials - I just threw that bit in. I'm sure some of you blighters must be getting hitched someday soon....)

So, here we go - Old, New, Borrowed & Blue:

OLD

Florian Sings!!!



Yo Swipettes!!


A new spot in which we ask Kraftwerk frontman Florian Schneider to provide a little musical interlude to help us start the day with a song in our hearts and a tap in our feet. This week, Florian will be treating us to a selection from the songbook of the great Lancashire comedian, George Formby. Take it away Florian!!!

ein, swei, drei, vier..

(boom tisk ka-ka, boom tisk ka-ka...)


I em leanink on zer lamppost at zer corner of zer street,
In case a zertain lee-tall lay-tee comst by
Oh me, oh my,
I hope zer lee-tall lay-tee ghost by.
I don't know eef she'll gate avay,
She does nicht alvays gate avay,
But anyvay I know zat she veal try.
Oh me, oh my,
I hope zer lee-tall lady comst by.

I em leanink on zer lamppost at zer corner of zer street,
In case zer zertain leetall lay-tee comst by
Ve're talking zehr schon
Zer zer-tain
Lee-tall
Lay-tee
Comst
Baaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

(boom tisk ka-ka, boom tisk ka-ka...)


Next week: Florian sings a Wurzels medley...I am zer Zider Trinker, I have zer brandt neue Combineharzesterhaltestelle and many, many more!!

NEW

Pop Groups My Dad Couldn't Quite Say the Names of Properly...

Spandau Ballet (Spendo Ballendo)

Ultravox (Utravolox)

Mike Flowers' Pops (Mike's Pops Fing - occasionally My Flowers Popsies)


BORROWED

It just had to be Brian's The Man in Black joke. Thanks Bri. (Sorry, thanks Teri....)

BLUE

finally, how much more blue can you get than this "Someone's Pinched Me Sausages"-era blue David Bowie???



None more.



© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Names to faces...



Wonderful post over at Betty's Utility where dazzling Amanda Donohoe look alike Betty ponders what some of her favourite anonymous bloggers look like. Sadly, being new to the lengthy line of totty currently forming an orderly queue opposite Swipe Towers for a glimpse of my cock-rot riddled member, Bet probably doesn't realise just how far off beam she is when she compares your humble scribe to Carlos the Jackal (above). She's pretty spot on with all the others, mind. Now, I know a good idea when I see one (unfortunately, I also know plenty of bad ones, so it doesn't really make much difference as they tend to balance out in the long run, but there you go...), so I thought, "why not just blatantly rip her off and then that's tomorrow's post sorted out!". So I have. Here it is: (with occasional updates [in italics] if any of you can bothered to dispute/correct my guesswork...)

Betty's Utility: Amanda Donohoe in a nurse outfit (gratuitous, but fair, I think...)

Blind Flaneur: Rupert Everett playing Sherlock Holmes.

Brian Damage: Teri Hatcher.

Ceridwen Devi: Scarlet Johanson in Ghost World (only with more peircings, I fancy) Or perhaps the woman who used to be Max's grungey step-daughter with the nose peircing in Brookside and is now the blonde one in Murder in Suburbia?

Cultural Snow: that bloke with the beard who presented The Games on Channel 4.

Cyberamiga: Sykes era Hattie Jacques (it's all the chocolate..)

Dickley Head: Saul Bellow (with a dash of Michael Caine, apparently...)

Food of Goats: Brian Blessed.

Fred and Freds: Mike & Bernie Winters (not sure which is which though...)

Mr. Betty's Utility: Oliver Reed (the fun they must have recreating scenes from the film Castaway...)

Lucien la Peste: Adrian Belew playing Mark Knopfler in a made-for-TV Dire Straits bio-pic.

Mike da Hat: Lemmy from Motorhead.

Molly Bloom: Penelope Wilton in her prime (phwoooar, lovely, lovely, lovely...)

Hannah: Darryl Hannah, oddly enough...or possibly Hannah Gordon???

Oye Billy!: Paul Simenon. (With Sean Hughes on standby) Or possibly someone from the Fenn Street Gang (Betty) or Robert Lindsay in Get Some in (Bob again)

The Lydster: Jamie Lee Curtis.

Pootergeek: My mate Terry who now lives in Spain.

Ro-Mo: Julie Christie with her head in the bowl after a crate too many 'buie breezers...

Scary Duck: Simon Bates.

The Lovely Sonia: Chelsea (Chelsey?) from Eastenders.

Spinny: Leanne Battersby (with a perm, obviously...)

Norbert Trouser Quandry: George Sanders.

Underpants Project: Winona Ryder.

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Cats Like Plain Crisps!...

A treadmill day.

Then this. Graffiti, written in large black letters on sky blue MDF barrier put around some home improvement or other, spotted from the bus going through St. Margarets (contrary to scandal mongering put about by Bristolian subversives, I don't live or work anywhere near Slough, thank you very much):

"Cats like plain crisps" [cartoon cat's face used by way of an exclamation point]

I think nothing more of it until I mention it in passing to Andy at work, nowhere near Slough incidentally, and he recalls precisely the same slogan daubed on a large wall off the A316 by Richmond swimming baths in the sixties. Quite a cause celebre at the time, even making the letters page of the Times.

I googled it and found the following on this forum:

Antony


ant antpop com

Message: Hi Cheesy,
I was flicking through the latest Tony Parsons novel 'Stories We Could Tell' (which my Mrs is reading at the moment), and I was intrigued to find the following text on page 52, Chapter 4, describing a squat which one of the main characters is living in: 'On the ground floor the cracked and crumbling white plaster was almost obliterated by slogans. WE ARE THE WRITING ON THE WALL. NO DRUGS IN HERE. CATS LIKE PLAIN CRISPS.'

There you go!

Hmmm..I'm not that surprised it was a pretty famous piece of Graffiti at the time. Any mention of where this house was?


A later post by Anthony sheds a little further light on the origins of the phrase:

I can tell you there was once a good deal more infomation about the appeal of various crisp flavours to cats written on the back of a road sign in Grosvenor Rd in Twickenham. However the writer of this theisis [sic] included no references to earlier works or original research and so may well have all been the stoned ramblings of some derranged Freak! I suggest you research the subject yourself.

Ant recommends Weed's site as a good starting point, so I go there and find this page which as well as having this photo



of the original legend, has this one



of Chris's (who he? ed.) tree house, which looks very familiar. (Although I'm sure it used to be near Eel Pie Island, not Grosvenor Road...and Chris, if that's him, looks like the guy who used to come into Twickenham Library in Robin Hood clobber and who lived on a bivouaced raft on the Thames off Marble Hill Park)

And the origins of the legend?

As for the picture, I have emailed "Weed" in the past and had a good look around his site. He was part of the squatting scene in SW London in the early 70's (now who's too old) and used to live in the (in)famous Grosvenor Rd in Twickenham. I don't remember him and he doesn't remember me but we had a lot of mutual friends. Grosvenor Rd was divided neatly into two halves. One end was all squats, the other was all rented or owned and bang in between the two halves was a police station. But the interesting (or at least relevant) thing about Grosvenor Rd was that in the first house (No. 7) in the kitchen was written "Cats Like Plain Crisps" on the wall, and this is the first place that anyone wrote this. It should by rights be a shrine. I used to know who wrote it but have forgotten. Later somebody wrote a long treatise about exactly which percentage of Cats preferred which type of crisps on the back of a road sign just down the road. After this it took of [sic] in all manner of ways, there was always a "Cats Like Plain Crisps" Freak Flag at festivals where all the squatters congregated and people just started writing it up everywhere. Aren't Hippies annoying.

The squat became a political football for local councillors, among them Bowie biographer (and Tory ass) George Tremlett:

Local councillor Ken Elmes, offering help and support, hurriedly arranged for the press to come round. The resulting photograph of him, claw-hammer in hand, in the act of removing one of the boards led to a series of wild allegations by cut-and-paste pulp pop writer George Tremlett, the publicity seeking Tory Housing Chairman. He appeared to be quite deliberately attempting to mislead the council, the press, and the public with a series of inaccurate statements claiming that "the first squatters [were] let in by Cllr. K. Elmes [who] helped the squatters break down doors and windows to get into buildings and was photographed doing so" and that he "broke down the door of an empty house in Grosvenor Road with an axe".

The slogan spawned an all-girl band of the same name who cut their chops on the Isle of Wight in the mid-80s.

So there you go - a nice bit of secret history to start the day with. Better than being in Beirut, isn't it? And a good job I don't have anything better to do. And don't live in Slough.




© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

B-Tech Jazz Wanker....

We overheard him in the Rajpoot Indian restaurant, Gabriel Street, Stives (Excellent onion bhajis, large portions, tasty veggie korma and bhuna). He was with two likeminded jazzsters - one was Americano or Canadian, the other from the north of England and it sounded like they were organising some music event or other - at a guess, a jazz one. Anyroad, B-Tech Jazz Wanker (that's not his real name, you understand, I've just cobbled together some salient points concerning the chap, namely that he was a wanker who taught Jazz at B-Tech level in order to give the otherwise unnamed a handle of some sort) had one of those voices - I'm sure you know the sort - that can be heard by a whole restaurant, no matter how seemingly discreet they're being - and he was prattling on about how when he was in the States last time, with Wynton, Wynton was such great fun, but, you see, the thing about Wynton is that he's such a conspiracy theorist, man (yes, he actually said man as in 'hey, man' - and quite a lot, too, for an adult not living in 1967 at any rate) you know, like Wynton's convinced that there's this secret cabal of about 5 or 6 men who really run the world - yeah, I know, it's crazy isn't it, man? And Wynton's really passionate about this, right - and Wynton actually said this to me - Wynton said that if those guys who really rule the world had their way, there'd be like no black people left on the face of the earth. Wynton actually believes that man! Oh and have you met Branford? Oh Branford's great fun too, man...

[New paragraph:] So, this kind of thing went on all night until, as we were about to leave the restaurant, I went up to the jazzsters' table and said, "excuse me, I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. You know Wynton, right? Ah, that's really great, man. Listen, could you do me a favour? Next time you see Wynton, could you ask him something for me? Could you ask him if he has any plans to do another series of Supermarket Sweep?"

[new paragraph:] Wanker.

NB: I didn't really. Why can't life be more like fiction?

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

I hold a cup of wisdom, but there is nothing within....

[droning sitar, swarmandel, dilruba etc. Tabla starts up....]

A long time ago, in the Zi Duang province of eastern country, a young merchant's son approaches his father. "Father, I grow restless living this life of pampered ease and indolence. I wish to acquire wisdom so that I may one day repay you for all the many kindnesses and good fortunes your wealth has bestowed upon me. I propose to travel to Western province that I may study there at the feet of the great Zen master, returning here only when he has taught me all there is he has to teach. What say you father of my plan?" The merchant replies, "you are a fine son of whom I am duly proud. I will give you my finest steed and a manservant to assist you on your arduous journey. Tell the great Zen master that once he has taught you all he has to teach, I will gladly reward him with anything it pleases him to ask of me. Oh, lovely boy, you have made me the happiest father alive - there is nothinmg I have in my possession could mean more to me than this. Come, hug me my son before my heart bursts with pride." The two hug and the next day after a huge farewell banquet, the merchant's son and his manservant set off on the long and treacherous journey to Western province.

For many days, the merchant's son and his manservant travel, through cool valleys, along burning plateaux, fearfully skulking through the forest of thieves, riding in awe in the shadow of the great glass tipped mountains until finally, exhausted and relieved, they enter the great Zen master's academy in the Zi Duang province of eastern country. A huge crowd of apprentices and students gathers to help the merchant's son from his mount, carrying the clearly exhausted young man to the cool enclosure of the Zen master's tent. The Zen master gets up from his meditations and bids the merchant's son to join him for a ceremonial tea. With two servants at his sides cooling the young man's brow with broad leaf fans, the merchant's son makes his appeal to the great Zen master. "Sir, I have travelled many miles, over long, arduous terrain to sit before you and beg you to allow a dense and witless clot such as myself to humbly submit to your tutelage that I may one day acquire wisdom and thus repay my father all his kindly patronage by one day being worthy of handling his affairs. My father's wealth is unsurpassed and he has promised to grant you whatever you may ask of him once I have been the beneficiary of your great and wise teaching."

The great Zen master, waving a hand at an underling who scurries off to the servants' quarters, replies to the merchant's son, "so, young man - you wish to learn the wisdom of the great Zen master? You know this may take many years? You must follow every instruction of mine without question and submit to my tutelage unconditionally - is that understood?" "Of course great Zen Master, whatever you ask." The servant reappears carrying a large teapot and two small cups which he places before the great Zen master. "Now, no more of this until we have had some tea - I am sure that you are very tired after your long journey, yes?" says the great Zen master as he begins to pour tea into one of the small, teal coloured cups. The merchant's son smiles and nods in reply but begins to frown as he observes that the great Zen master is still pouring tea from the pot into the small tea cup. "Excuse me, sir", the merchant's son begins, but the great Zen master continues to pour, despite having long since filled the small vessel. "Sir...", exclaims the merchant's son as he watches uncomprehendingly the tea flowing over the edges of the tray like a vast river breaking its banks, transforming the fine, white linen tablecloth into a sodden, brown flood plain. "Accchh! You silly old fool!!", exclaims the merchant's son as scolding hot tea begins to drip from the tablecloth onto his lap.

The great Zen master stops pouring, places the teapot down on the drenched table top, bends towards the young man and says, "that, pupil, is your first lesson", then, with a courteous bow, walks off...

Our serialization of 'How Green was my Rinpoche?' by Windsor Davies continues tomorrow....

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Blog Comment Whore....

Why do I do it?

[New paragraph:] I must spend several hours a day posting rubbish like this (on Blind Flaneur's effort) on blogs belonging to people I have no connection with other than that they happen to have chanced upon my blog rather than any of the other billion or so that they might have:


The 27 used to be a nice route. We used to be able to pick it up at the bottom of our road in Twickenham and go all the way to Archway for 4 pence. Christ knows why you'd want to do that, mind - but you could. Then again, I can't see why anyone would want to buy a record by Rod Stewart, but people still do. Though I doubt you can pick one up for 4 pence. Bloody charity shops - they're worse than HM bloody V. My late father once opened the door to Rod Stewart - on the Archway Road as it goes. It wasn't this that killed him, by the way - it was progressive heart disease, but the door thing might well have been a contributory factor. It must've been quite a shock I imagine, opening the door to find a pre-fame Rod Stewart standing there with a tea chest bass and a Scotland scarf demanding "can Kenny come out to play?" We'll never know now, of course. My uncle was a mate of his. Rod Stewart, that is. He was tight as arseholes, apparently - always hid at the back with his hands in his pockets, never bought a round. Rod that is - not my uncle Ken - he's a diamond when it come to buying a round. Had a trial at Brentford too Rod Stewart, not Kenny. Never really had much time for him, personally - although I do quite like the strings on Do ya think I'm sexy...

Bob

p.s. Just a quick technical point here, BF. Being blind, was this sequence of events relayed to you by a sighted companion, or did you just make it up? Don't give up hope - it's amazing what they can do with lasers now, apparently...


Say you ponced about like that for three hours a day. That's 21 hours a week. That's almost a full working week. (If you can call it a working week when you spend 2/3s of it posting meritricious crap on blogs belonging to people you've never met etc. etc. instead of doing what you're being paid to do. Whatever that is. It's so long since I've done anything except blog that I've actually forgotten. I know it can't be very important...) I wonder if you could put it on your passport - occupation: spurious blog commentator (p/t)?? Imagine the adverts: Aimless individuals, highly unmotivated despite being in regular, full-time employment but with time on their hands are required to bombard pointlessly world wide internet weblog sites with frivolous, self-aggrandising verbage. No prospects. No supervision. No time wasters.

(New paragraph:) The other thing is I've started using the word 'cunt' in every comment I post. Must stop doing that. Imagine if there are children reading it....I really need to start setting a better example. I'm forty fucking one years old......

Envoi: S. this morning, overheard from the bathroom while she's watching the BBC Breakfast News item containing an interview with the chaps on the wrong end of the the recent bungled terror raid - "with a beard like that, I'd've fucking shot you.."

She's the funny one.

Further envoi:

I can't stop myself - just posted today at 11.02:

There's a technical term for it, BF. You are a sufferer of what we in the medical profession (I am a registered Paedophile - I know what I'm talking about and have the broken windows to prove it...)refer to as Severe Geoffrey Howeing of the Hair Syndrome. It's a relatively managable condition, but in extreme cases it can flare up into the more general and potentially life threatening affliction of Incurable Darcus Howeing of the Scalp. Once diagnosed, there is little hope for the poor victim of this awful illness. There is no cure, unfortunately, and the only known palliative care involves the patient being taken out into a field by the Secretary of State for Health and shot at dawn. You will, however be pleased to know, that this treatment IS currently available on the NHS.

HEEEEEELLLLLLPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

England Literary XI.

I finally get 'round to reading Julian Barnes on the World Cup in the Grauniad Reveiw Sectoin. (Yes, it takes me that long to read the weekend papers now. I haven't even opened Sunday's yet. This is perhaps why I am so behind the times. Have the Japs surrendered yet?) Beautifully written and researched, as you'd expect - although the petulant, Beckham-style little kick out against 'white van man' seems a little beneath the great man. He's right that the patriotism that fuels our World Cup dreams is as delusional as that which feeds our wars (could there be any more delusional a conflict than the current one?) - elegantly conflating the two in the Germans' (fictional, I'm guessing) riposte to our "One World cup and two World Wars" - "....three world cups and one Franco-Prussian war..."

(New paragraph:) All of which got me to thinking - what would old Barnsey look like in a number eleven shirt with his name above it? And then, logically, I had to build a team around him:


ENGLAND LITERARY XI:

Banks (Iain M.)

Wilson (Colin) Moore (Brian) Adams (Douglas) Cole (Martina)

Lee (Laurie)

Gascoigne (David) Barnes (Julian)

Beardsley (Aubrey)

Owen (Wilfred) Peters (Ellis)

Subs from: Defoe (Daniel), James (Henry), Cohen (Leonard), Ferdinand (Franz), Palmer (Carlton)


Though prone to the odd lapse of concentration, usually resulting in overlong, third rate science fantasy tosh and the fact that he's from Scotland, Banks is possibly the best reflex shot stopper in English. With a solid back four in front of him, combining grit (Cole), Celtic flair (Moore) and a touch of the absurd (Adams), the literary lions will be hard to break down. In midfield, the elegance of Barnes should blend well with the team's playmaker Beardsley. Playing 'in the hole', fans will be hoping that the decadent, dandified little schemer can weave his pretty patterns around opposing defences this summer. In the holding role is midfield hard man Lee (he walked out one midsummer morning and ended up in Southern Spain - he's that hard!) Gazza is, of course, still as daft as a brush, but his surreal ball skills could yet turn the competition England's way. On paper, the front pairing of Owen and Peters is a little bit of a mystery - a medieval one at that. (Fortunately, they play on grass...) Owen is battle weary after a long, gruelling campaign in France. English hopes could rest on a fresh injection of pace with the introduction of the lively Defoe from the bench. However, he is often prone to being a little isolated so England fans must be hopeful that their top goal scorer can stay free from injury or they may just find themselves sick as a dulce et decorum est.


© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen....

Graffiti spotted on a lamppost in Isleworth:

"I LOVE MEL GIBSON"

It's true what they say - there really is no accounting for taste. Almost as good as S.'s school desk favourite.:

"FREDDIE MERCURY HAS BIG BALLS"

Yes, and they've seen some action love - steer clear. Still, what do you expect from a Convent school. My all time favourite - our all time favourite - is the Melody radio poster in Twickenham. You may remember them, they were on display about 10 years ago, these awful ads featuring ridiculous, completely unlifelike models of famous rock and pop stars with hugely exagerrated features (apart from the Tina Turner one, whose effigy somehow managed to capture the continental shelf sized arse and sofa-sized lips to perfection). Anyroad, there was one that had Mark Knoffler, George Michael, T.T. and Sir Elton John on it and someone had scrawled the word CUNT on the the gay, piano thumping knight's forehead, just below the ginger syrup. It's been his affectionate nickname in our 'ouse ever since...

(Please note paragraph inserted for the benefit of lazy readers who, unfamiliar as they are with the basic tenets of modernism, insist upon having a fag break every 12-13 words or so....hope I'm not going too fast for you...) Anyroad, I don't know why I've commented on a puerile piece of civic vandalism to start the week. I was going to write something about Sarah Dunant. Remember her? There was a thing about her in the Observer women's magazine (note to men - essential reading for you lads. It contains all the things that we would tell you if we only could, only we can't because the whole idea is it's one of those tests - you know the sort, I'm sure - to see if you can find out for yourselves and prove that there's actually more to you than perennially thinking you're still 18 and beer and football. The trick is to read the Obs wom. sup. and then completely disregard what you've learned and be just as unreconstructed a male as you were anyway, just to wind us up - we love it really, honest...) Yes, I used to have a bit of a thing about S.D. when she used to present that late night Arts Review thing, alternating with that long haired blonde mare who insisted on presenting every show whilst sucking a Werther's Original (...well, I hope that's what it was she had stuck to the top of her tongue...) She was a stunner in my book, old Dunant. A very intelligent and sexy woman - as she still is, judging by the piece she wrote about what she's learned about men (you're handy for a good old fuck every now and then, but could be infinitely improved by being able to turn yourselves into a pizza at 4 a.m., apparently....) - that and the cute photo of her sitting on her desk in front of her well-stacked book shelves with her 40 deniered legs pulled up to her chest in a charming little polkadot number.... She's lost the Buggles glasses, which is a shame because I always used to think they suited her. But that's perverts for you.... But, for someone staring down the barrel of being handed her freedom pass, she still looked a randy bit of a belter who didn't seem to be completely ruling out the possibility of further quick and painless entanglements behind the bikesheds of literary awards ceremonies with besotted young colts while the (nicely ambiguous this) "father of my children" was off mopping up the baby cack and stirring brandy into her muesli (...and I thought it was just S., but seemingly not...) I'd certainly be up for it. (Well, in an obviously metaphorical, monogamous 41 year old male with no prospects, a booze problem and bits dropping off my cock left right and centre kind of way...) A funny thing struck me though. I always used to have a thing about older women. Now, I look at the older women I used to have a thing about (like S.D.) and I realise that they are now in their fifties.....if it goes on like this, at this rate, I'm going to have a serious perversion to contend with in later life. Perhaps this is why some men are attracted to paedophilia.... you get a longer run for your money.

(New Paragraph:) But then that post went out of the window because as I had the old i-pod on on the way into work, Tom Waits came on singing 'Martha'. It's a fairly syrupy number that takes the form of a man in later life phoning up an old sweetheart - "...how's your husband, how's your kids, you know that I got married too...?" that sort of thing until he reveals that he still loves her despite all the time that's elapsed. It's a schmaltzy old thing really, but that last line hit me in the chest like a closing line from a song hitting a sentimental old boobie in the chest:

"...and I remember quiet evenings
trembling close to you...."

It's a perfectly weighted cadenza that just hangs there like a sad teardrop on the end of a sobbing nose. Brought back memories of a brilliant, sunny day, before life was mapped out and there was no steel in the heart and everything was possible and Sarah Dunant had yet to pop into her local Dolland & Aitcheson and plump for the Trevor Horn look.

"...there was no tomorrow, we packed away our sorrows and we saved them for a rainy day....."



© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Sartori in Stives (part one).....

Fanny rot and some sort of heart condition (which could either be belatedly revealed Asa Hartford hole in the heart about to scupper my 6 figure move from Birmingham to Manchester City syndrome or an incipient Peter Sellers post-honeymoon with Britt Eckland-style full-blown heart attack – I’m not sure) have now been joined by a decidedly unnerving blackening of the toenail of my right big toe. I foresee with grim exactitude the horrors of a long drawn out Bob Marley-esque demise brought about by my having failed to seek treatment early enough. I can see it now, pegging out a year or so down the line without even the dignity of a “well, it would have contravened her Rastafari beliefs to allow herself to go under the surgeon’s knife” type excuse for my untimely death, lower limbless and ganga free in a nursing home inna Babylon. Still, at least the time I spend worrying about the toe might reduce the time I spend worrying about the ticker. What was it Brecht said? “Vices have their point, once you see it as such – stick to two for one will be too much…” Or was it David Bowie? Mind you, Brecht was as silly as arseholes. “Where do the holes go when you eat Swiss cheese?” Fuck off. Which reminds me – I think I see Alan Yentob drive past me in his long shiny Merc as we sit in the shade at the rear of the Old Sloop Inn, St. Ives – or Stives as I later hear some young buck drawl in response to the obligatory mobile phone call gambit. Or maybe it was Rick Stein? Before I have the chance to yell out “a waxworks – in the bleedin’ desert?” to find out for sure if it’s the director of Cracked Actor or not, he’s half way back to his ‘Uppalong’ holiday retreat, whoever he is. (Uppalong used to be a small, tight knit community of miners’ cottages, ‘Downalong’ a tight knit community of fishermen’s cottages. They are both now tight knit communities of second homes for people in the Me-jar.) That Stein must be worth a packet, you know. He now has about half a dozen establishments in Padstow – or ‘Padstein’ as our brilliantined Cornish coach driver calls it when we take a day trip there – in between his unsolicited volley of lame Irish jokes. (Paddy orders a sandwich and when it arrives, he notices a wire hanging out of it. He says to his mate, “Oi tink we got a thandwich with a bomb in it ‘ere, Spike. Oi tink oi’ll call de po-leeth and thee what dey thay.” So Paddy calls the constabulary. “’Ello dere, is dat de po-leeth?” “Yes, sir, this is the police - what can we do for you?” “Now den, oi tink oi got one a dem thandwich tings wid de bomb in it thir,” says Paddy. “And what makes you say that sir?” “Well, hoffither, dere’s dith great long wire ting loik a fewth hangin’ out a de ting.” “Ah, now sir, you may well be on to something. Tell me sir, is it ticking?” “No thir, ith cheeth and onion.”) We see a lobster hatchery on the harbour front at Padstein. In this sleek, modern shed of a building one can presumably observe the life cycle of the lobster – from translucent, clawed homunculus to full-grown tile-red crustacean, plump, succulent and in fine fettle to be wheeled the short distance across the seafront to any one of the myriad of Stein’s emporia - there to be boiled alive for the benefit of some sock and sandalled arse from Salford so they can moan about being overcharged "just cos 'e's on the telly...and wur's me chur batter??". Saves all that faffing about with boats and pots and whatnot. Carbon neutral too, I shouldn’t wonder. To think there was just the one, original Seafood restaurant of his here when I came here with Strangely Brown all those years ago. 1995 – seems a lifetime away now. There are about twice as many pubs here now and it’s a lot more touristy than I recall it. The views across the Camel Estuary are stunning though. As the plum coloured sails of the yachts pull out from the beach across the water at Rock, you could imagine yourself to be in some inlet in Mediterranean Turkey, not staring out at the chilly waters of the Atlantic. Of course you’d need to be Alan Yentob or Rick Stein to be able to afford to live here in Stives. Or Frosty. Or Frostrup. We’d naively imagined that one of the options opened up by our bizarrely timed, Dylanesque dual inheritance – “they say I killed a man named Grey and took his wife to Italy. She inherited a million bucks – and when she died, it came to me…I can’t help it if I’m lucky…” – would be to buy up a little bijou here for next to nothing and live off the interest of the whopping great lump sum we’d no doubt have left over, spazzing our lives away in a haze of local cider and wholemeal vegetarian pasties. Some chance. There’s nothing for sale here for less than we’re buying the place in D.... Road for. Not that it matters now, of course. The mortgage offer came through the day before we left for Cornwall so – barring our vendors getting cold feet or the searches turning up something ghastly – we should be settling into our new home before the summer is through. So that’s the next 25 years taken care of then....


© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

Icy water......

It's only when I get to work that I notice my 75 cl bottle of Volvic has an iceberg-like lump bobbing around in it. No wonder my hand was so bloody cold. Ernest Hemingway compared his writing to an iceberg - 5 % visible, 95% of it under the surface. He used very thick paper, you see....This explains the incantatory style he developed. "In the fall, my mate Paul, who's very tall, would run a stall. It was late in the the sprawl of fall in the stall with Paul and a tall Gaul that we'd meet in the hall with a tight pair of smalls and brawl. In the pall of the late fall in the hall we'd call on Paul and haul our shawls to the mall with a drawl till Paul got run in by a Pamplona bull and I topped myself with a shotgun, still owing Gertrude Stein 150 francs for a bar bill I ran up in 1922...." See, Incantatory, isn't it? But is there a new Hemingway out there (Wayne excepted, obviously)? William Leith? The hungry years: confessions of a food addict. Confessions of a cunt, more like. I walked in today, you see. 1 hour 10 minutes from Teddington to Osterley. Not bad at all for a physical wreck. Quicker than usual. Ticker worries prompted it. There's been a residual pain there for some time but that sensation is now sporadically bubbling up into what my hypocondriac psyche has already diagnosed as "a heart murmur". The pain could be many things - lingering, residual grief, general unhappiness brought about by recent commencement of my 42nd orbit of the sun, imminent cardiac arrest, indigestion.... It's become such a fixture that it is more noteworthy when - briefly and occasionally - it's discovered not to be there at all, as sometimes happens for a few minutes when "God in the i-pod" conjures up a particularly exhilarating three in a row (as happened this morning: Pulp - Something Changed & The Jam - Start & (and this was a stunning bit of sequencing from on high) straight into The Beatles - She Said, She Said). I'm no doctor but I do have enough of an acquaintance with the rules of general healthy living to know that the occasional walk into work alone will not transform me into "a fit person". It does, though, ease the feelings of guilt which will inevitably accompany that evening's 5-6 cans of el cheapo Primus premium Belgian lager. I should lay off the booze, I know, but the habit seems so ingrained that neither S. nor I can muster much resistance when, in total contradiction of that morning's 'no more booze' edict, one of us pipes up with the 'fancy a beer, darling?' mantra and watches the other fold like a wetwipe into the ensuing evening of brief jollity followed by sniping rows, bottom-lining into alcoholic torpor and early night. So, the heart remains heavy and the head is engulfed in a clammy fug for most of the day, a fug that only lifts - curiously enough - when the prospect of the next can of el cheapo Primus premium Belgian lager becomes an inevitability rather than a possibility. It's a hard life, but someone's got to live it. After Mum died, I used to think, 'oh well, at least I might have inherited more of Dad's iron constitution'. He was my genetic role model, I guess, and so the fact that he had turned 70 and he appeared to be in rude health most of the time and was still capable of ambling down to 'The Gun' and having a few pints became my justification for throwing the beers back and not doing what all my more sensible friends were doing - speed walking, cycling, running marathons (or, as the kids of today no doubt refer to it, running snickers) But then, five short months after his 70th, as we watched Man Utd surprisingly grind out a 1-0 win against hitherto unstoppable Chelsea and he complained of an indigestion-like sensation and pains under his arms, I pretty much knew things had changed for good. I was going to have to look after him from now on. Stubborn and doctor wary as he was, how was I going to even get him down to the surgery.....? No need. Two days later he was lying there, cold and peaceful, like a little boy curled up in his wintery bed. Progressive coronary disease. Perhaps the clear Cornish air will help...

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises