Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Witch or Fairy?

More answers from silly questions answered by random women. Full explanation here
Would your rather be a witch or a fairy for a day?

A witch! There are some politicians in this country who would become the literal toads they are.

A fairy. Fairies get to fly around, pull pranks, and attend all sorts of fairy bacchanalia. Witches simply play around with brooms, construct houses out of baked goods, and stir huge cauldrons of mysterious mixtures. Sounds like a drearily domestic lot, I'd say. 

Monday, May 28, 2012


.. hit you with a flower....

Waiting for a client to call,  so I've been playing with blender 3D software.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mountain Music

I have always loved Mountain Music, the music of Applalachia, since before I had even heard it. There are some things written on our heart when we are born, if not even further back.
For me the magic of You Tube is to be able to wander its cyber backroads and discover performances like this.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Life Class

I’ve not had many art lessons. The two classes I took with Meriel Gold in the village hall in Froyle, deep in the Hampshire downs were by far the best.
Meriel Gold studied with Cecil Collins. At the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, Cecil Collins, by all accounts a sweet natured and gentle man best known for his mystical landscapes, invented a revolutionary way of teaching art. His methods were so bizarre, even by the relaxed standards of the time, that the Central School of Art in London fired him. His students protested and in those days people took student protests more seriously than they do now, so Cecil Collins was reinstated.

Poetry elsewhere

The wonderful and very overlooked Edna St Vincent Millay over at Maggie's Farm

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When all you have is a pencil, every problem looks like a Picasso

My friend Alison went to the Picasso exhibition in Toronto and she mailed me a book of postcards because she knew they would inspire me. I love Picasso.

There is a famous quotation: "It took me four years to learn to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to learn to paint like a child." There was one hot summer about ten years ago and the only cool room where I was living was the kitchen, so I spent all day there, working on a set of pastels surrounded by the children's drawings tacked up to the wall. I learned something of how to draw like a child.

Ad break

A busy day, so I'll take a break to plug my book. Actually this review on amazon.com sums it up better than I ever have.

This is a wonderful collection of short stories, each different, set all over the world and at all different times. All the stories are framed by Leah and her house, and by discussions with the people she tells the stories to. But the stories are not constrained by a particular genre or style; each is interesting in its own way. Not a word is wasted, but there is plenty of room for musing and enjoyment. "It is exciting to get presents," and this collection is a box full of little gifts.

Thank-you Mo Brien
On Amazon.com here and for British readers here

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kierkegaarde's Grave

The family grave where Søren Kierkegaard is buried. 

Photographed for me by the singer-songwriter Billie Jensen. She doesn't have a website, so instead of a link there's a pencil sketch of her below the fold.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An illustrated story

Just published at Storm Books, an illustrated version of my story The White Marriage. The visuals are by Jessie Dunlop, The above picture is just one of the drafts, the final result is stunning. Click here for the.pdf, it's free.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jurgen - A Comedy of Justice

A 40 year old poet running simultaneously to fat and seed suddenly finds himself in the body of his 19 self. The immediate advantage is that he can seduce any woman he comes across, without trying, and sometimes even against his will, So Jurgen, the eponymous hero of the novel by James Branch Cabell is both driven and chased on a knight's quest through a variety of mythological worlds including versions of Heaven and Hell, until he becomes disenchanted with his enchanted existence and gratefully seizes to the opportunity to return to his natural body and his shrewish wife.
First published in 1919, Jurgen was a hit of the jazz age, its popularity boosted by a prosecution by the New York Society For The Prevention Of Vice. Its reputation popped with the stock market bubble and when James Branch Cabell died in 1958 both he and his masterpiece were long forgotten.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


"Sunday should be different from another day. People may walk, but not throw stones at birds."
Samuel Johnson.

Contemplative music from Carla Bley's Big Band

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Morning Glory

A happy find in my local Books For Change: Lyrics from the Chinese by Helen Waddell, and signed by her. When I found it I was taken aback. I knew her as an authority on Mediaeval Latin. Her book The Wandering Scholars is both enlightening and delightful, how impressive that she was equally at home with Ancient Chinese? Some research revealed that although she was born in Japan, the daughter of missionaries, these poems are her careful interpretations of literal translations.
She died in the Whittington Hospital in Highgate, London, close to where I live, and this copy of her book has come to me from her hand to my hand.
This poem is 3,000 years old.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Emotional content

A journalist friend has a fb status asking us who our cinema heroes were when we were teenagers. She's writng an article about The Hunger Games apparently. As some of us have replied, cinema was not a big thing for teenagers in the 1970s. Like the music of the time, movies were aimed at young adults who were the people with disposable incomes in those days.
I quite liked young adult cinema but the passion I shared with my friends was for the films of Bruce Lee. Passion is the right word too, I felt them.In the above clip Bruce Lee sums up his own appeal very well: he had emotional content. What he achieved was not just physically impressive it was beautiful.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What was your worst experience as a waitress?

A few years ago I invented an entertaining game for myself. Craigslist was an open highway then, and I would post a list of questions in the m4w personals across the USA, and all over the world and see who responded. I think I might have been the first person to do this, but there is nothing like the internet to undermine a person's sense of originality. I was certainly the most prolific. Here are some of the answers to one of the questions.
What was your worst experience as a waitress?

I grew up in a restaurant and I think being robbed was the worst

a guy asking for my number and leaving me a shitty tip

Man Alive

This is the Centenary year of G. K. Chesterton’s novel Man Alive!, an early satire on Social Science, and a philosophical romance. Chesterton was born in London in 1874 at the very beginning of our modern world. He appeared simultaneously with domestic electricity and mass communication. He was to become the modern world’s first critic. Between 1904 and 1914 he published five fantastic, as opposed to fantasy novels (including The Flying Inn). They begin in our familiar world which is then stretched preposterously with an eerie logic. Chesterton is a novelist of ideas, and, like a classic sci-fi writer, asks what would happen if a concept was followed through to its conclusion. The result is usually both absurd and dangerous, all the more so if the concept was originally rational and well intentioned.
Of the fantastic novels The Man Who Was Thursday has become a classic, while the other four have dropped from sight. Novels of ideas are traditonally gloomy and introspective. Since Psychology was one of the new schools of thought Chesterton refused to believe in, his are exhuberant. Nevertheless in Innocent Smith, the childish madman protagonist of Man Alive there is something of a self-portrait that is more revealing of Chesterton than even his Autobiography. Man Alive at project Gutenberg.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vile May

Rain and hail bouncing off the window. Here is a May Song from my poetry collection Mothering Sunday

When I lived in London
I believed in True Love
and the passions of youth
ran warm through my blood
my arms were wide open
my heart was my Crown
my feet were quicksilver
and I sang through the town.

When May comes to London
light hums in the air
and blossoms burst out
in the parks and the squares
dawn comes by surprise
moist with soft rain
and the rain makes the city
sparkle again.

The heart has its summer
and its autumn days too
the dusk sinks from nowhere
and drives out the blue
eyes full of thunder
which were driving me mad
are clouded and secret
and make me feel sad

I'm sailing down South
where the sea it is blue
where the weather is warm
and the fishes fly too
goodbye to you sweetheart
with nothing to say
goodbye to the rain
and goodbye to the grey

Smoking waitress