Monday, 31 March 2014

Why Bother?

Somebody, somewhere has to be the world’s blandest famous singer. My money’s on Gary Barlow singing Barry Manilow. Gary/Barry; Barlow/Manilow. Maybe they were separated at birth.

“We are born so that we may die,” says the pseudo-intellectual. He thinks Death in Venice is an advert for Cornetto, and writes reviews in magazines which nobody reads.

Recondite, dilettante, and exegesis are words which give people problems, but only if they have to write them in the same sentence. This has been declared impossible.

“Climate change is not a science,” says Mr Paraquat, “therefore you cannot have a climate scientist.
   “This is not so,” says the pseudo-intellectual, “for armchair is not a science and yet there are many armchair scientists. Most of them are studying the climate.”

Sunday, 30 March 2014

“Ah,” Says the Spychiatrist


I mention insomnia to the spychiatrist. Insomnia, I say.

“Insomnia?” she queries, loquacious as ever.

The Yes of my reply doesn’t seem to take the conversation further, so I elaborate, explaining that I have a problem with insomnia.

“Problem?” she counters.

Once again, I feel that the spychiatrist isn’t really committing to exploring the dynamic potential of conversation and I resolve to tell her so.

“No need,” she says, “seeing as you just said that interior monologue out loud.”

There is a pause like the pause before something about to start again.

“What is your problem with insomnia?” she asks.

I tell the spychiatrist that my problem is that I enjoy insomnia and I go on to say how I expect that everybody else comes into her room endlessly bitching about how absolutely shit it is to suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, or whatever, whilst not seeing these things as the blessings which they really are. You just have to open your eyes and your heart, I conclude.

“Ah,” says the spychiatrist, “you’ve been trolling the Dalai Lama’s twitter-feed again.”

I ignore her remark on the grounds that it is not spychiatrist-y enough and explain how that morning I had gone outside at 4.37 a.m. and been struck by the variety of birdsong but the apparent absence of birds.

“Perhaps it was a recording of birdsong,” she suggests.

I had not thought of this. However, I press ahead, telling her that as I scanned the trees for signs of birds, it occurred to me that, as I could see plenty of trees but no birds, maybe it was the trees who were singing and not the birds. As I listened to the singing, I tried to match the different trilling refrains to the different trees.

I look at my spychiatrist to gauge her reaction, but she is not there as it is three o’clock in the morning and I am sitting outside in my garden waiting for the trees to start singing again.

Mindful of her last suggestion, I spend the next hour and thirty-seven minutes trying to locate the speakers.


The Trojan Dinosaur

A reading from the Book of Inaccuracies

And the Trojans sent a gift to their arch-rivals, the Enemies, and the gift was a Giant Wooden Dinosaur, left outside the city gates.
   The Enemies pointed and jeered at the dinosaur, fully expecting it to be a trap. So they cut the belly of the Dinosaur open with a chainsaw, but all that emerged were little baby wooden dinosaurs which fell to the ground and smashed and broke.
  And when they saw what they had done, the Trojans were full of fear and they started worshipping the Giant Wooden Dinosaur so that they might placate the God of Dinosaurs (and, by implication, the God of baby wooden dinosaurs).
   And after three days, the Giant Wooden Dinosaur flew up to heaven on the back of a winged aircraft carrier emblazoned with the message Things can only get banter!

This is the word of the Lord of the Dance

Response: For the sake of Auld Lang Syne

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The World Cup (Some Thoughts for the Football-Shy)

With that quadrennial festival of expectoration and tedious nil-all draws which end in dramatic penalty shoot-outs – the World Weary Cup – nearly upon us, here are some questions for the football-shy to consider when they are unavoidably confronted with what is, surprisingly, not yet called The Beautiful Tournament.

1. Which words can Robbie Savage not pronounce?

This is a bit like asking “How long is a piece of string?” in that the list could literally go on forever. Have fun compiling it. Your starter for ten: Manchester.

2. Who has the more boring voice: Steven Gerrard or Michael Owen?

Steven Gerrard is England’s captain, a position which holds about as much status as a milk monitor in Year 4. He comes across as the scouse equivalent of Andy Murray. Michael Owen’s tone seems so disinterested one wonders if he has borderline personality disorder (he doesn’t – I checked, although he may just be undiagnosed).

3. Which channel has the more intelligent football punditry: BBC or ITV?

You’ll need an atomic microscope to find any intelligence, but one channel must be marginally less crass and inarticulate than the other. (The question is similar to asking “Who has more charisma: Ed Milliband or Michael Gove?”)

4. Is Adrian Chiles Benny Hill’s love-child?

It’ll give you something to think about when listening to his cultured voice (and looking at his Benny Hill face).

5. How many times can you hear the phrase “controversial decision”?

This is a euphemism for “mistake”. Referees make a lot of “controversial decisions”. It is a controversial decision to believe that England can win the World Cup.

6. Are football players wimps?

Whenever a footballer is kicked in the shins or goes over on his ankle there’s always some smug, armchair rugby supporter on hand to launch into a misogynistic diatribe about all footballers “behaving like girls” when they get kicked in the shins or go over on their ankles,  whereas the real men of rugby can run into a brick wall at 80mph and still not realize that they’ve been hurt (the armchair rugby supporter mistakenly reading this as a sign of masculinity and not a sign of not having evolved a brain). I gather that Ireland are better than England at rugby, which, as an Englishman with an Irish name/ancestry, leaves me somewhat conflicted. Or it would do if I cared about manly pursuits.
   I’ve been kicked in the shins and I’ve gone over on my ankle: both hurt (however, I am a wimp). 
   Watch a game of football and make your own mind up.

7. Why are England so rubbish?

The England fan vacillates between the raucous, pre-tournament bravado of “Yeah, we’ll definitely win it this time!” to the post-opening match despair of “We’re the worst team ever!”
   England are probably quite good, the footballing equivalent of the middle-set child who coasts all year, thinks they’re clever enough not to revise and is left wondering in August why everyone else did better than they did. They end up doing okay, but I expect that you need to be better than okay to win the World Cup (or, in England’s case, you need to be better than okay, you need to be on home soil so that you can have the crowd as a twelfth man in every match, and you need a Russian linesman in the final as the thirteenth man).

Playing with the Past


I sat on a bench and I stared at the past,
and the shapes which I saw were the same as before,
but their lines were all blurred as if by the drink,
and I stared at the past and it gave me a wink.

“But why are you winking?” I wanted to ask,
but the past remained mute (and silent as night),
as the first of the images came into view:
a sky of bright blue (well it would be bright blue).

A boy noticed ships sailing over his head
on this sea of clear blue (well of course it was blue),
but he never once thought to himself, “Could it be
that the ships are just ’planes and the sky isn’t sea?”

The grass on the green which was under the sky
made a bed for this boy who was happy to be.
As he lay on the grass (the grass on the green),
I wondered out loud, “So where have you been?”

But he seemed not to see me or hear me at all,
as he lay down and stared at the sky with no stars.
He absently stared at the sky up above,
and he thought about sadness and anger and love.

                                                *

I sat on a bench and I stared at the past,
and the shapes which I saw were the same as before,
but their lines were all blurred as if by the drink,
and I stared at the past and it gave me a wink.

Her face was the image of spring in the sun,
(but wickedly smiling and rather beguiling).
She spoke with a voice, minus worries and fears,
and I thought of our years and our years and our years.

(Those days and those weeks and those months and those years
vanished into thin air, and it hardly seems fair
that they only exist now inside of my head,
and they’ll vanish forever the second I’m dead.)

Her hair was the colour of summer in June,
and cut in a way that was blossom in May.
I’d never been close up to beauty like that,
so I gave it my hand and I tipped it my hat.

Her eyes were alive to the promise of us,
and they twinkled away (as they do to this day);
and I knew there and then (yes, I knew! Yes, I knew!),
just don’t ask me how, but I did (as you do).

She danced on the pavement, her arms held out wide,
and we promised I do’s and It’s you that I choose.
And I laughed, and she danced, then we hopped on the bus,
just you, you and me, me and you, both of us.

                                                *

“But why are you winking?” I said to the past,
and he paused for a while, half-concealing a smile.
“The past is a future, just look and you’ll see;
it’s easy to get there and passage is free.”

I sat on a bench and I stared at the past,
and the shapes which I saw were the same as before,
but their lines were all blurred as if by the drink,
and I stared at the past and I gave him a wink.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Tammy Wynette’s Trailer’s Final Resting Place

We went backstage and marvelled at the cheap
and tacky naffness of Tammy Wynette’s
trailer, abandoned (who knows why?) and left
to rust in Leamington Spa, famed throughout
the world as Country Music’s final resting place. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Tribute Acts

The Paul Weller Tribute Act, who play all of The Jam’s greatest hits while dressed as The Style Council.

The Bryan Adams Tribute Act, who play “Everything Thing I Do, I Do It For You” seventeen times in a row, once for each week it spent at number 1.

The David Bowie Tribute Act, who painstakingly recreate his 1983 “Let’s Dance” yuppie look and play only Tin Machine songs.

The Rolling Stones Tribute Act, who have a Ronnie Wood but not a Brian Jones.

The Tom Jones Tribute Act, who accidentally looks like Englebert Humperdinck.

The Paul McCartney Tribute Act, who only play Wings songs and who close their set with “Give Ireland Back to the Irish”.

The Beatles Tribute Act, who only play the cover-songs from the first five albums, and who encore with the only two songs which Ringo wrote. 

The Elvis Presley Tribute Acts, who recreate the cape-and-flares tragedy of 1976, complete with baffling kung-fu moves, beer-gut and unironic satirical quiff, while ignoring the slinky hipness of 1954. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

On Days like These

On days like these, my thoughts gather like dust
landing on water, blown there by a gust
of my imagination. Silent, still,
and not yet seen, these motes lie mute until
I pick one up, as pick one up I must.

It is an old thought, perishing like rust;
a memory, and one I cannot trust
to tell a truth. I let it fall then fill
my hands with other thoughts: hope breeds goodwill
on days like these.

I go through all the thoughts and readjust
my view of ‘self’ (again): they’re full of lust
for the surreal and absurd. Their will
is to sing in rainbows with a shrill,
facetious voice which rings out (only just)
on days like these.

A Priest Loses his Face

As I bounce across the street on my space-hopper, trying to high-five the Moon, I am reminded of the story of a Roman Catholic priest who was hit by a car. The only lasting damage was to his left knee, which he could no longer bend. He took this as a sign from God to repudiate his Catholicism and become a Methodist because Methodists don’t have to kneel down during Church services.