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The Parts Recaptured

July 10, 2009



Proust’s Madeleine

Somebody has given my
Baby daughter a box of
Old poker chips to play with.
Today she hands me one while
I am sitting with my tired
Brain at my desk. It is red.
On it is a picture of
An elk’s head and the letters
B.P.O.E.—a chip from
A small town Elks’ Club. I flip
It idly in the air and
Catch it and do a coin trick
To amuse my little girl.
Suddenly everything slips aside.
I see my father
Doing the very same thing,
Whistling “Beautiful Dreamer,”
His breath smelling richly
Of whiskey and cigars. I can
Hear him coming home drunk
From the Elks’ Club in Elkhart
Indiana, bumping the
Chairs in the dark. I can see
Him dying of cirrhosis
Of the liver and stomach
Ulcers and pneumonia,
Or, as he said on his deathbed, of
Crooked cards and straight whiskey,
Slow horses and fast women.

Kenneth Rexroth

I’ve been thinking about smell, taste and memory and how they’re linked. Of course, it’s hard to discuss the phenomenon of memory without stubbing your toe against Proust and rightly so. No writer has ever been so monomaniacally devoted to retrieving and examining the past (the personal past, of course, as opposed to the historical past that another hero of mine, Edward Gibbon, devoted himself to disinterring).

Proust is commonly considered the first great chronicler of a phenomenon that we’re all familiar with: random sensory input opening the floodgates of memory. In Proust’s case, famously, it was a madeleine dipped in lime-flower tea that caused the levee to break. Even people who’ve never read Proust know this…and they’re wrong.

It’s worth quoting the relevant passage in full:

Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ’petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory–this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs. Whence did it come? What did it signify? How could I seize upon and define it?

I drink a second mouthful, in which I find nothing more than in the first, a third, which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop; the potion is losing its magic. It is plain that the object of my quest, the truth, lies not in the cup but in myself. The tea has called up in me, but does not itself understand, and can only repeat indefinitely with a gradual loss of strength, the same testimony; which I, too, cannot interpret, though I hope at least to be able to call upon the tea for it again and to find it there presently, intact and at my disposal, for my final enlightenment. I put down my cup and examine my own mind. It is for it to discover the truth. But how? What an abyss of uncertainty whenever the mind feels that some part of it has strayed beyond its own borders; when it, the seeker, is at once the dark region through which it must go seeking, where all its equipment will avail it nothing. Seek? More than that: create. It is face to face with something which does not so far exist, to which it alone can give reality and substance, which it alone can bring into the light of day.–Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

As we can see, far from the ‘floodgates of memory’ opening, the narrator is perplexed, mystified.

He concludes that he must ‘create…something which does not so far exist…’. In fact what Proust did is, I think, far more impressive than merely recording the flood as it passed: Proust created the past (or a past), surely a much greater achievement. But no matter…

Here are a few of the scents and tastes that have opened the floodgates for me or provoked me into creating ‘…something which does not so far exist…’:

Guerlain’s Shalimar, Patou’s Joy, 4711 (Echt Kölnisch Wasser), Lanvin’s Arpège, Chanel No.5…then there are the scents that were never really designed simply to smell good but do to me…lemons, Johnson’s Baby shampoo, WD-40, fresh cut wood or mown grass, hot tar, baking cake, the sea, cigar smoke, lipstick, liquorice, fresh-ground coffee, old books, leather, horses, wet wool, brandy, a hot engine, Paris Metro stations, the now sadly defunct Routemaster buses of London Transport, my favourite charcuterie on the Rue Cler at the Champs de Mars end of the Rue de Grenelle, the sun-roasted meseta between Burgos and Leon, fresh-opened oysters (see ‘sea’), lamb cooking over charcoal; the mint, laurel, myrtle, lavender, thyme, rosemary etc. of the maquis, furniture polish, a fresh newspaper, pencil shavings (slightly different from fresh-cut wood because of the graphite…I think), night-blooming jasmine, clean sweat, apples, Ducados (cheap Spanish cigarettes made from strong black tobacco; the working-man’s smoke and an old favourite of mine), Lifebuoy Soap (no longer made, not the original anyway), the early morning streets of Barcelona’s old town, a smell compounded of roasting coffee, black tobacco, warm stone and raw sewage…the list goes on and everybody will have their own candidates.

Give us a Terza Rima on the subject of smell, taste and memory.

(I’m a bit rushed at the moment but mine will follow…)

  1. July 10, 2009 5:02 PM

    Lovely. I’ll knock on the cellar hatch and see what the Baron de Charlus has to say on the matter…

  2. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 10, 2009 8:42 PM


    old germoline; my daughter’s morning breath
    as, puppy-like she clambers in-between
    our dozing bodies -:- shades of losing faith

    with incense: starchy albs and cottas clean;
    the vicar’s old spice mingling with the wine,
    well watered; stewed tea; front room mister sheen

    disguises embassy, beer mats and brine;
    piano, walnut burr and harvest home,
    with innocence and countenance divine.

    the urge to drink gripe water jereboam
    suffused with sarsaparilla of my youth
    the sea the spray the suds the froth the foam

    the shedding of the skin; the quest for truth.
    one whiff, one speck of microcosmic dust,
    smarts dully like a long-dead wisdom tooth…

    the pool from which i scrambled, stained with rust
    is in a flash rekindled, flooding back
    with mingled fascination and disgust.

    the young apostle’s world of white and black
    evoked – revoked – by tones of dental plaque.

  3. freep permalink
    July 10, 2009 11:46 PM

    really ace, HLM, with notes of delicate grotesque.

  4. Meltonian permalink
    July 10, 2009 11:52 PM

    Yes, superb. I think you’ve emptied the cupboard, HLM.

  5. Meltonian permalink
    July 10, 2009 11:58 PM

    Come to think of it, shouldn’t Mr Mills have installed a new Poster Poems? I suppose he’s too busy sunning himself in the West Indies on the enormous advance for his Collected Poems.

  6. pinkroom permalink
    July 11, 2009 12:33 AM

    My many scented Bildungsroman

    A roughly carved wood sabot,
    the carpet we left behind,
    the grass in a den below.

    Seaton Sluice, sea in mind;
    nasturtiums I no longer smell
    but outdoor nicotine I find.

    Metal in blood,; I fell.
    Hospital back of throat;
    mud and paint, I’m well

    Long summer’s skin on boat.
    A record made fron vinyl;
    a market bought nylon coat,

    wandering hands come final.
    Mulch of chestnut husks,
    chlorine in sinus,

    new shoes, a wait ’til dusk.
    A picket line’s rank,
    fear has its own musk.

    Salty margeritta drank.
    All work,

  7. Polly permalink
    July 11, 2009 2:54 AM

    oh dear, I’ve forgotten the form required…

  8. Captain Ned permalink
    July 11, 2009 9:59 PM

    HLM, Pinkroom: both superb.

  9. Meltonian permalink
    July 11, 2009 11:49 PM

    A Defence Of Poetry

    I can taste it now, humiliation
    as Darren Warren from Archery Road,
    with his pair of sidekicks cheering him on,

    tore my Dragon Book of Verse to shreds.
    He was nearly two years older than me,
    and already one of the biggest lads

    down at the Clement Attlee primary.
    And I can still smell the warm scent of tar
    from the sleepers of the torn-up railway,

    stacked up high near the derelict bridge, where
    I waited for Daz on his paper round.
    The brick smacked his back as he rode under,

    the bike wobbled, and when he hit the ground
    he broke humerus, forearm, ribs and wrist.
    Two weeks in hospital, three months solid

    plastered from his neck right down to the waist.
    I changed town and school shortly after that,
    so I don’t know if he was impressed,

    but I think I probably made my point.
    Fifty years later and I’m still thinking,
    I hope it really hurt, you ignorant cunt.

  10. pinkroom permalink
    July 12, 2009 1:41 AM

    You probably did make your point there MM.

    I agree Darrens do, as a rule, tend towards being bullies and phillistines but (best Joyce Grenfell accent) I don’t think attempted murder is quite the most constructive response, is it Melton?

    Fun, and clearly satisfying though.

    And those tarry sleepers… hats off/spot on. I remember chopping up and burning a few of them in the 72 miners strike… they released the very stench of the place where you’ll no doubt be going, after that sneaky attack on the poor boy… I also expect Daz Warren will be waiting for you there… with a brick in his hand, and fifty plus years of hatred in his heart.

  11. Meltonian permalink
    July 12, 2009 2:47 PM

    It’s not autobiographical, pinkroom, and if it was I would more likely be Darren. I had been thinking about the alleged atrocities committed by Our Boys in Iraq, which further led me to think of a chap at school who dropped a cricket ball on another chap’s head from a first-floor window, for which he received several strokes of the cane. This struck me as illogical, since at the same time we were being encouraged to fling cricket balls at each other at eighty-plus mph in the nets and out on the pitches and where I was several times knocked unconscious, not that anyone cared. I communicated this point of view to my housemaster and received a hefty blow about the head. Education, education, education.

    I read Motion’s pathetic poem in the Review section this morning. How utterly cheap his line about the stench of cabbage at the Farringford Hotel is. I’ve stayed there and the kitchen/restaurant is a long way from the body of the hotel. The cuisine is fairly sophisticated (for the IoW) and the idea that they would serve boiled cabbage is absurd. I was agnostic about his work, but his use of this dull, obvious odour-image has tipped me into outright hostility.

  12. pinkroom permalink
    July 12, 2009 4:33 PM

    Yes the I can lie but it was that little detail about the Dragon Book of Verse… I mean, what sort of little monster could destroy such a sacred object? With the Oxo imprint and all. A bricking was too good for him.

    Cricket builds character. I’ll say no more.

    Agree about Mandy though… one could imagine the pre-pubescent Motion wafting about with his Dragon Book of Verse, trying to drive the dwedfull smell of imaginary cabbage away from his tender nostrils, with sweet words of poesy when…

    Look out… here comes Daz Mowbray again .. with his bwick and a cwicket ball… mummmmmmmy!!!!!!!

  13. July 12, 2009 9:47 PM

    MM thanks for your insight into IoW cuisine I must say I thought boiled cabbage would be the height of sophistication where you live ( in Somerset in the 70’s we worshipped it like a god ) but I see I’ve misunderestimated the island tastes. I feel your anger man.

    Meanwhile damn Mishari and the bloody Terza Rima demand. I’m struggling with a paean to false memory syndrome ( at least I think I am ) but don’t hold your breath.

  14. mishari permalink*
    July 12, 2009 10:09 PM

    Actually, Al, I find that terza rima is quite an easy, natural, flowing form to work with–aba, bcb, cdc, etc and ending with a couplet rhymed with the penultimate line of the last tercet.

    I find it has a sort of ‘dance’ quality to it, a bit like the villanelle but without the repeating lines that some people find a bit too sing-song.

    …but I do apologise for any pain caused. Take two limericks, drink plenty of fluids and call me in the morning.

    PS: great stuff from the usual suspects–HLM, PR and MM…

  15. Meltonian permalink
    July 12, 2009 11:19 PM

    I appreciate your support, Al. Unlike me, Mrs M is a fan of cabbage (vile weed! as Newman says of broccolli), but I find it’s less pungent when ovened in foil parcels, which also allows the addition of various spices. Cumin seems to go down well.

    ‘Spring’ (flexible) greens (also flexible, mainly yellow/brown) were a feature of the Glos menu of the 50/60s, along with sprouts boiled until unrecognisable as such. Kale could be boiled till the end of time and still retain its elasticity.

    Did Pongo survive the trip?

    • mishari permalink*
      July 13, 2009 12:02 AM

      The Beast of Whitechapel is hale and hearty, thanks for asking. I slipped some chloral hydrate into his Whiskas and he was out like a light. He came to in Barcelona, gave himself a lick and was ready for mischief. It’s the only way to fly.

      I love cabbage–well, less so cooked but raw cabbage is lovely. Red cabbage (cooked with apples and a decent wine vinegar) is superb with goose or pork and even kale is good, sauteed in butter and garlic. Broccoli is vegetable royalty. Quickly stir-fried in a bit of sesame oil, some garlic, finish with a dusting of Pecorino and a squeeze of lemon juice-lovely.

  16. Meltonian permalink
    July 12, 2009 11:51 PM

    Glad to hear you’re hale and hearty. How’s Pongo?

  17. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2009 12:04 AM

    Good to see the droll IOW wit remains diminished…

  18. July 13, 2009 8:27 AM

    It’s not the form it’s the sudden appearance of non-rhymable words at the ends of my lines which make sense and sound good but then I find I realise I need 2 more similar words.

    But it takes practise as with anything else – I am a drummer ( failing hearing has put paid tothat these days ) and 30 years ago played in a brass band that specialised in Balkan tunes. Lots of 5/4’s, 7//8’s and 9/8’s and even 11’s . Murder to begin with especially if you have been brought up on the 4 beats to the bar tradition. Now it seems as natural as anything but back then I was 1/2, 1/2, 1/2/3, 1/2, 1/2, 1/2/3 throughout a tune. It was like hanging on for dear life! still at least I wasn’t the tenor horn player who had to do triplets on everyoff-beat for tunes on end.

    All this of course takes time away from the task at hand.

  19. July 13, 2009 9:30 AM

    New Poster Poems this week, I hope.

  20. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 13, 2009 9:50 AM

  21. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2009 10:53 AM

    For anyone wanting to know more about the exuberant gang in HLM’s video, check out their wiki page. Great stuff…

    BTW, MM…I’m glad to see you’re catching up with me, viz Andrew Motionless. He has, for me, long epitomised everything that’s wrong with British ‘establishment’ poetry.

    The leaden ‘sprightliness’ that passes for light-heartedness, the dud similes, the dishonest ‘observations’, the grinding portentousness that frantically signals ‘here be poets’…bah. I’d rather listen to an honest advertising jingle than his posturing tripe.

  22. July 13, 2009 11:54 AM

    A somewhat obscure personal one:

    A garden filled with honesty, a child
    surrounded by those brittle golden discs,
    an endless summer, suitably beguiled

    and safe, or so it seemed, from all those risks
    that adults, as I did not know, so richly fear
    I stand in memory. A basilisk

    lurks in the cabbage patch; it is not ear
    or eye that brings me there, it is
    the scent of raspberries coming near

    their fatal ripeness, as it is his
    decaying stench that gave away the snake;
    death in its very self. All that and this
    recalled beside her bed, a bitter stake.

  23. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2009 12:46 PM

    Lovely, Bill. I was going to post one but in the light of yours, I’ve taken it back in for a complete and rather shame-faced overhaul.


  24. Captain Ned permalink
    July 13, 2009 12:48 PM

    Great stuff, Billy; ‘fatal ripeness’ is superb.

    I have just learned that Swinburne is anytimefrances’ favourite poet. This makes perfect sense, though I did snort somewhat at the notion that the great flagellator could teach Handel a thing or two.

  25. July 13, 2009 2:09 PM

    My pleasure.

  26. parallax permalink
    July 13, 2009 3:19 PM

    Ah mama, when you dip
    your vanilla fingers,
    cerise plastered with lip

    stick, a moment lingers
    on edge, clasped talon
    like, between door hinges.

    Perfume, eau de colon
    farting in a mist swirl
    of violent chiffon,

    you head out with the girls
    to catch – fuck knows – more sperm?
    Lipstickly the night unfurls.

  27. July 13, 2009 7:23 PM

    Remembering the past is always fine
    Like salad with a perfect dressing
    Especially when the memories aren’t mine.

    False memory syndrome is a blessing
    Claim experience you’ve never had
    Leave your critics second-guessing

    You’re always good and never bad
    Embrace this contrary position
    Life will be happy and never sad

    I’ve translated Joyce for a Korean edition
    I’ve mixed paint for Jackson Pollock
    I’ve cured several terminal conditions

    I’ve talked sense and never bollocks
    I’ve always fed on the finest food
    I’m always Castor and never Pollux

    I’m always courteous and never rude
    Even when the film is crap
    I’ve always cheered and never booed.

    Things always fall into my lap
    Truly a land of milk and honey
    The honey being always on tap.

    But underneath things aren’t so sunny
    I’m on a run of self denial
    Things can’t always be funny

    They need a balance of something vile
    Vile just isn’t in my memory file.

  28. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2009 10:54 PM

    Ahhhh…poetry’s fer sissies…this is what real men listen to:

  29. ffile permalink
    July 13, 2009 11:16 PM

    very wonderful post & responses, many thanks y’all

    I confess I’m one who (for shame) hasn’t (yet, it’s on the list…) read Proust and yet word of his madeleine has reached even these ignorant ears, how the crumbs of the mot just scatter

    wouldn’t dare throw up one of my madeleines in this cake shop but as an ex-oeno-file I might mention that wine books can be a great source of non/semi/poetic waxes olfactory. Twas in another lifetime but Oz Clark (brash and vivacious), Hugh Johnson (dry and occasionally steely), Jancis Robinson (can be cheeky but always pert), Malcolm Gluck (reliable plonk) spring to mind if only as a smelly thesaurus. One day I’ll get around to my Magnum Opus Ode to Viognier…(probably after I’ve read Marcel, if I don’t forget)

  30. ffile permalink
    July 13, 2009 11:25 PM

    …might add that writing sensory responses to differentiate ‘n qualify wines can be fun too, until you pass out, and challenging even without izombic trocheemeters and onomatephanies

  31. ffile permalink
    July 13, 2009 11:29 PM

    ..sorry, should be onomatepiphanies, zut alors I canna handle this language captain

    is that my coat?

  32. Meltonian permalink
    July 13, 2009 11:37 PM

    Gut instinct

    Just one sniff and it all comes surging back,
    the stars on the pavement on Friday nights,
    sometimes fawn, or pink, sometimes almost black,

    the mug who honks at the start of the flight,
    so you’re stuck with it for the next six hours,
    that gurgling gush, the horrible sight

    of the curdled puddle in the shower,
    the sand-covered pool on the classroom floor
    the colour of well-boiled cauliflower,

    those blood-slicked streaks on the lavatory door,
    but most of all that bloody awful smell,
    which in liquid form could strip your furniture,

    fragrance the air-conditioning of hell,
    make a Trappist monastery scream and shriek,
    force the Immortals to feel unwell,

    or drive an army of angels to crime.
    Nostalgic for that vile organic reek?
    Just utilise your finger any time.

  33. Meltonian permalink
    July 13, 2009 11:46 PM

    A great number from para, I thought. Farts and chiffon… there’s a correspondence there which is more than verbal. Sterling stuff from Al, too-great to see the literacy drive in Somerset bore fruit.

  34. mishari permalink*
    July 13, 2009 11:50 PM

    Jesus…all this quality stuff is beginning to get me down. Sterling work from Al, para, and MM…and speaking of MM:

    Mon 13 Jul 10:46 AM- Yahoo News

    A man found naked at a casino claimed he was a Terminator sent from the future.

    He was arrested after he was spotted wandering around the highway nude. Ordered by police to stop, he proceeded into a nearby casino – where he was then tasered in front of a group of children.

    The man claimed he was a Terminator sent back in time from the future – a reference to the film character made popular by Arnold Schwarznegger in the sci-fi franchise. The films usually start with a naked man being transported to the past.

    However, it turned out that he was not a time-travelling Terminator but was in fact suffering from the side effects of LSD and marijuana. He was charged with indecent exposure and resisting a police officer.

    …that Mowbray..he’s got more front than the Albert Hall.

    BTW, @file, not having read Proust should be no impediment to giving us a terza rima.

  35. Meltonian permalink
    July 14, 2009 12:14 AM

    I’ll be back.

  36. pinkroom permalink
    July 14, 2009 12:26 AM

    Ahhhhhhh… The Sonics.
    A riff that takes me back faster than any madeline.

    A Room Above a Garage,
    (Underneath Byker Bridge most Sundays)

    Setting-up so frisky
    steel cuts on fingerpads
    our mouth-harps soaked in whiskey.

    Two boys, two girls//the garage dad’s
    the leather spring and stink of tom tom;
    a tambourine to shake for lads.

    Spent sump oil and petrol from
    the downstairs work, we practiced sundays.
    Bass drum pedal, boom rest, bomb!

    And the opening line always starts,
    “This song wont save the world, you freaks
    but it just might break your heart…

    Huh!” How many times did we repeat
    that one same line to ensure the mix
    just so, of dumb and smart complete?

    We painted our names with Fender picks
    on foul sweated leather, handed down
    and scraped our teeth
    with broken sticks.

    Dust and yeast, on an amp valve burning;
    the smell of six to seven
    teen turning.

  37. July 14, 2009 12:31 AM

    This is just what happens to Bruce Willis in 9 Monkeys though – he says he’s from the future and they just think he’s mad. These Hollywood movies are so right: no one ever believes you when you’ve travelled back from the future. Possibly he was here to investigate the swine-flu epidemic which wiped out most of humanity – to try to make people see sense before it’s too late.

    The “side effects” of LSD and marijuana, eh?

  38. mishari permalink*
    July 14, 2009 12:45 AM

    This is very true, obooki. People from the future (or the past) should keep their heads down. In one of his books (Lud Heat? Downriver?), Iain Sinclair says that he’s convinced that London is full of people who’ve fallen through a temporal crack.

    He reckons that many of the homeless winos one sees, especially the ones who haunt the grounds of Hawksmoor churches are such people–the solitary ones who speak to no-one. They’re drawn to the churches as points of great occult power, a power that can possibly relocate them to their proper time and place.

    An interesting idea and, if modern physics can be believed, in no way inconsistent with the model of non-linear time.

  39. July 14, 2009 9:20 AM

    Captain, Swinbourne is one of those rare poets I simply cannot read. So many words, so dull the music.

  40. July 14, 2009 9:39 AM

    The centre pages of the Guardian today ( a large photo of rows of jars of boiled sweets ) brought a real Proustian rush for me even though I wasn’t bought up in Yorkshire. I don’t remember Choco Nibbles but pineapple cubes, rhubarb and custard and sour apples are the very foundations of 50’s Britain.

    Billy I liked half of that Swinburne poem ( I don’t know his other stuff ) but passed out when he started to pass judgement on the sensory experiences.

  41. July 14, 2009 10:14 AM

    1974: Southampton, so perhaps the brine?
    1975: Incense – the itinerant’s cloy
    etc : Silage and summer apple-cool entwine

    Coal bunker, clinker-tar alloy
    Boy-tall, new, uncut Jarrold paper roll
    Bleach-cube, floor polish, school and boy

    Emulsion, brick dust, new door-hole
    Chlorine, fright and breath securely held
    The green-dry puff of an old book’s soul

    White spirit, Citadel; pea-pods new-shelled
    Powdered baby milk (spat up) and from-a-pack dessert
    Cocoa and my grandmother’s night cream meld

    Acid reek of abattoir mail-glove, inert
    From smell of crowd see gospel star emerge
    Cider bonfire cider wet breath cider hurt

    Blue hair gel residue. Cleland-induced new surge
    Backstage miasma, distillery, the cleft
    Resin, tang of microphone converge

    Silk shift, perfumed and gripped, all’s left
    Menthol to roll-your-own to Marlboros
    Peroxide and Camberwell’s unravelled weft

    Mildew boozer rug, Davidoff smoke flows
    Amyl nitrate, greasepaint, gin, electrolyte
    Hot laminations cool beneath my blows

    Amp-warmed dust, Blackheath at night
    Pasta-boiled water, pesto-caked spoon
    Raw cellar liver; keypad on my lap, I write

    Rank lager-sticky air, a.m., Gilded Balloon
    Love in Whitechapel, brandy and wok-fried prawn
    Gotland moss – midnight sun as noon

    Air-con, admin’s dull paper air, forlorn
    Honeysuckle, strangers’ cigarettes through barred window
    Exhaust fumes, Wandsworth Road, the trudge each morn

    Censers, anti-moth gel, camp-stove glow
    My own sweat cooling, a slough in every bead
    Kreuzberg canal; the end I cannot know

    Familiar yet renewed, each scent a seed
    Osmosis: then and now commingle, bleed

  42. July 14, 2009 2:26 PM

    MM: your spade made me laugh out loud.

  43. Meltonian permalink
    July 14, 2009 4:30 PM

    Pleased to hear it, BM. Mills is a lot harder to write than Swinburne, let me tell you.

  44. ffile permalink
    July 14, 2009 8:57 PM

    spose I’d better sing a bit seeing as how many fine suppers I’ve had here Mish, but don’t blame me if your fillings fall out or the milk curdles

    So Dries Aloe Vera

    I splash water on umber, a new day
    release the burnt sienna, oxide red
    and ochre, I squeeze the tea leaves again

    his socks drying on the radiator
    in our kitchen, after the washing up,
    us doting on some damp map of Asia,

    in Winter. In April I read the Post
    of how they’d found him under a cliff,
    wet denim and leather and no damp note


    In Mekong zephyrs and after Songkran
    and everywhere in the rain forest and
    from wooden floors in the bars of Penang

    in last nights woodsmoke in the this mornings dew
    in t-shirts and boots, kayaks and cagoules
    wherever water dries, diffuses you

    I splash water on midnight by torch light
    and talk to you, so dries aloe vera,
    fresh split Longkan and stars in zinc white

  45. pinkroom permalink
    July 15, 2009 12:14 AM

    Also really enjoyed Melton’s @Spade@. A wonderful innovation to enliven potw.

    May I be the first to name and define this new form…

    A ‘bray!

    First, simply select a commonplace item from the garden shed to “immortalse” in the unique style of that week’s chosen writer. To achieve best results it is important that it be served up with heartfelt sincerity and lashings of gravitas. Compose. Post. Stand back for you and your friends to admire

    Come to think of it though, Seamus Heaney has been quietly passing off this, what I believe he privately describes as, “aul’ guff” for years.

  46. Meltonian permalink
    July 15, 2009 12:14 AM

    A stunning compendium, ExitB: HLM left plenty in the cupboard after all. Nice work from ffile there.

  47. July 15, 2009 9:27 AM

    And so the cry rings out across the nation “Melton, more brays!”

  48. pinkroom permalink
    July 15, 2009 10:12 AM

    Coming from Billy, that’s ‘brays indeed.

  49. July 15, 2009 11:00 AM

    Following on from the ‘bray Edward Gorey once drew an inventory of categories of murder weapons:

    Such categories were

    Sharp: Daggers and hat pins
    Blunt: Stone Idol, marble baluster and lead spoon
    Limp: used string, silk stocking and bootlace
    Gradual: arsenical buns
    Inexplicable: confetti.

  50. Meltonian permalink
    July 15, 2009 11:35 AM

    Silly: feather dusters

  51. July 15, 2009 11:39 AM

    Difficult: old chips

  52. July 15, 2009 12:37 PM

    Thanks, MM! I’ve discovered that life had a notable scarcity of smells after around 1988. Possibly due to improved personal hygeine.


    Thanks for the N’lands dates, etc. Would be fantastic to meet up although could be difficult. We’re travelling from Berlin on 23rd, to Den Bosch, which is about as far as you can get from the north. The rock festival would be perfect (only a few kms from my partner’s mother’s house) but, as you say, entrance fees are rather steep (although I’m sure Pig is worth every cent).

  53. parallax permalink
    July 15, 2009 1:01 PM

    breathtaking: water

  54. July 15, 2009 1:50 PM

    Sprung: clothespegs

  55. July 15, 2009 1:58 PM

    Palindromic: Laminate pet animal

  56. July 15, 2009 2:36 PM

    Retro: eight-track cassette

    Renewable: Hempen rope

    Zeitgeisty: iPhone

    Venerable: dusty lectern

  57. mishari permalink*
    July 15, 2009 3:14 PM

    Classic: Sword

    Modern: Sword-Themed Video Installation

    Zen: Sound of One Sword Slashing

    Dada: Biscuit

  58. parallax permalink
    July 15, 2009 3:27 PM

    oof, impressive palindrome Al – are they laminated or beaten to death with the pet?

  59. parallax permalink
    July 15, 2009 3:46 PM

    Interminable: electric flex

  60. July 15, 2009 4:04 PM

    para A cow would be difficult to pass through your bog standard laminating machine but there’s no doubt it would prove an effective murder weapon. You could easily wipe your fingerprints off after the deed – an added bonus.

    Alternatively ( I’ve given this some thought ) the act of laminating the cow could be construed as the murder.

  61. July 15, 2009 4:06 PM

    A cow as a pet ? Dear me – waits for MM’s comment about pets in Somerset.

  62. parallax permalink
    July 15, 2009 5:09 PM

    hmmm, ok Al, let’s head MM off at the pass and concentrate on laminating Somerset Dick

  63. July 15, 2009 5:14 PM

    para sounds like a disease not a pet.

  64. parallax permalink
    July 15, 2009 5:15 PM

    bloody hell – not meaning to be overly rude but … in trawling the somersetpets website (fuck, I need a life) I couldn’t help but notice a pack of ‘Hefty’ in the bottom right hand corner of this um, enlargement.

  65. parallax permalink
    July 15, 2009 5:22 PM

    [Dear ed. I’ve posted the same thing twice – it’s probably caught in your spam trap because of the link – happy for you to delete them, no worries – the moment’s gone. cheers]

  66. Captain Ned permalink
    July 15, 2009 5:23 PM

    Classic: Sword

    Renaissance: Two Swords (+ poison)

    Jidai-geki: Man-Slashing Horse-Piercing Sword

    Mendacious: Simple Sword of Truth (+ Trusty Shield of British Fair Play)

    Verbose: Desmond Swords

  67. Captain Ned permalink
    July 15, 2009 5:30 PM

    Improbable: Lichen

    Expensive: Troupe of Trained Elephants

    Vengeful: Inigo Montoya

    Non-existent: Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Messy: Laxative Overdose

  68. mishari permalink*
    July 15, 2009 9:55 PM

    Edward Gorey was wonderful, Al.

    The Gashlycrumb Tinies

    A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
    B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
    C is for Clara who wasted away.
    D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.
    E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.
    F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.
    G is for George smothered under a rug.
    H is for Hector done in by a thug.
    I is for Ida who drowned in a lake.
    J is for James who took lye by mistake.
    K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.
    L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks.
    M is for Maud who was swept out to sea.
    N is for Neville who died of ennui.
    O is for Olive run through with an awl.
    P is for Prue trampled flat in a brawl.
    Q is for Quentin who sank in a mire.
    R is for Rhoda consumed by a fire.
    S is for Sue who perished of fits.
    T is for Titus who flew into bits.
    U is for Uma who slipped down a drain.
    V is for Victor squished under a train.
    W is for Winnie embedded in ice.
    X is for Xerxes devoured by mice.
    Y is for Yorick whose head was knocked in.
    And Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin.

    –Edward Gorey

  69. July 15, 2009 10:16 PM

    The drawing that accompanies Neville is one of my favourites – there’s always a small gap between what the text is saying and what the drawing is showing in Gorey’s work that is hilariously unnerving

  70. mishari permalink*
    July 15, 2009 10:27 PM

    This one makes me laugh uproariously. I think I must be a very sick man:

  71. pinkroom permalink
    July 15, 2009 11:41 PM

    Chaucerian… money, or alternatively anything found under a tree
    Spenserian… want of bread
    Shakesperian … a large goose quill… forcefully applied… with a few too many lampreys for comfort!
    Marlovian… dagger to eyesocket or poker to “jacksie”
    Miltonic… any method requiring the casting into utter darkness.
    Augustan… any well-turned piece of furniture… Chippendale, Hepplewhite… pleasing light to pick up, in the act of braining.
    Blakean… tigers. Bright, fearful but most importantly, unfed.
    Romantic… Albatros, Lark, Nightingale… any bird really.
    Victorian. Red brick applied with muscular faith.
    Modern… with a model ot the Comitern building
    Contemporary… the deft, timely introduction of a ‘bray!

  72. file permalink
    July 16, 2009 4:40 AM

    thanks Meltogs, may the spade be with you

  73. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 8:58 AM

    A fine poem, file.

    Pungent: Truffles

    Brutal: Soup Bone

    Exotic: Saffron

    Fishy: Bombay Duck

    Cheap: Instant Noodles

    Costly: Caviare

  74. July 16, 2009 12:49 PM

    Poster poems alert, a day early. Nice picture, too.

  75. July 16, 2009 3:48 PM

    I recommend the current GU books blog about CRB checks for authors if you like to read illogical middle-class panic plus gratuitous sticking the boot into Phillip Pullman.

    Rather apt given our celebration of all things Gorey.

  76. July 16, 2009 4:07 PM

    I’m actually quite in favour of gratuitously sticking the boot into Phillip Pullman, just for the fun of it.

  77. Meltonian permalink
    July 16, 2009 4:13 PM

    I thought it was our old friend Tony McGowan at first. He seemed so calm and measured I suspected he had been born again, or become a scientologist. Anyway, not him.

  78. July 16, 2009 4:24 PM

    Good, Billy, you’ve posted another poster poem topic, although a bit high-brow for me, I’m sure I’ll be able to lower the brow sufficiently to contribute this time (Fame kind of passed me by – story of my life really).

    I had visions of Toya Wilcox singing in a lively manner, but then I remembered that was a Mystery and nothing to do with history.

    I quite liked the play of Dark Materials which has been doing the rounds, bit disappointed they didn’t have a live polar bear on stage though… that’s the extent of my Pullman experience (apart from a restaurant in an old train carriage somewhere oop north)

  79. July 16, 2009 4:43 PM

    Billy I think its perfectly possible and viable to give Pullman a good kicking without at the same time descending into pointless moral panic about something else entirely.

    Tony McGowan???? The name stirs a dim memory but nothing else and there are far too many Tony McGowans for Google to help.

  80. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 5:48 PM

    You remember our Tone, Al..he wrote an unbearably smug, self-regarding piece about how there are many books children should not be permitted to read. He got a well-deserved kicking and the thread was a blizzard of deletions. Like the odius Chas Unspeakable-Burden, the Grauniad seems to have got the message and given him the frozen shoulder.

  81. Meltonian permalink
    July 16, 2009 5:53 PM

    The yoof writer who produced a well-known novel about knife-crime. Famous for his uncouth boasting about his Phd, enormous wealth and possession of a life in contrast to sad pathetic Guardian posters. Wildly aggressive and combative, but not a whiner like Dr Rosen. I found him very entertaining, though no-one else seemed to.

  82. Meltonian permalink
    July 16, 2009 5:55 PM

    There you go. I’m in a minority of one.

  83. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 6:04 PM

    Personally, I just found him gratingly obnoxious. Had his tirades been leavened with a bit of wit or self-mockery, he would have fared much better. Though, as you say, still preferable to that awful droning, self-righteous windbag Rosen…

  84. Meltonian permalink
    July 16, 2009 6:32 PM

    Yes, I remember Rosen ending an argument by storming off saying he was flying to the Bologna Children’s Festival of Literature (or something like that) with an air of ‘Take that, you sad bastards!’. Fucking idiot. I seem to remember your riposte started ‘Aw, diddums, that’s right, take your ball home…’ Deleted, of course.

  85. Meltonian permalink
    July 16, 2009 6:42 PM

    Top sestina, my man!

    • mishari permalink*
      July 16, 2009 6:50 PM

      Ta…just playing, really.

  86. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 6:45 PM

    Yeah, I remember that. For some reason, Rosen took a powerful dislike to me. I think it was the Great Jordan Debate, where Rosen championed the balloon-breasted one’s right to be called an ‘author’ despite the fact that she hadn’t actually written the damn book.

    Evidently, Rosen’s taste in women is as infantile as his work.

  87. July 16, 2009 7:35 PM

    Rosen hasn’t covered himself in glory when he materialises for comments on the books blog but I’ve heard him be really good talking with kids on the radio. Not an easy trick to pull at all.

    However as a flounce-off-stage-right line “I’m off to the Bologna Book Festival !!” ranks with the best.

  88. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 7:42 PM

    “Fuck the lot of you…I’m taking my giant inflatable pig to Burgos” is even better…

  89. July 16, 2009 7:43 PM

    I liked John Keenan the best. Wrote a blog about how authors don’t make good visual artists, then faced with reams of evidence proving otherwise tried to narrow the meaning of his claim so that he was actually only referring to 3 authors then when that didn’t work he started to personally insult us all. I think you got it worst Mishari.

    If Keenan had exitted with ” Right! I’m off the Bologna Book Festival!!! ” he would have earnt a Pulitzer.

  90. July 16, 2009 7:46 PM

    If this thread had turned bad for me I was arming myself with “Right!!!! That’s it !!!!I’m off to the Rossendale puppet festival!!!” Doesn’t quite have the impact of the Bologna Book Festival but beggars can’t be choosers.

  91. July 16, 2009 7:52 PM

    Anthony Browne is the new Michael Rosen – by which I mean, he has overthrown him as children’s laureate. I’d have commented myself, but I realised through my work that I actually knew something about the subject and my informed opinion would have seemed out of place on the booksblog.(Ooooh…meow–Ed.)

    Talking of which, I did enjoy degrus the other day arguing against evers, who works in the publishing industry, that you can’t get into the publishing industry if you’re not rich / from an aristocratic background. His determination to cling on to his prejudice in the face of all evidence to the contrary was admirable.

  92. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 8:07 PM

    I think Keenan singled me out because I was the most openly contemptuous. You and others were a too know, polite, a bit diffident. I mocked and sneered without let or hinderance. McGowan actually asked me if I was a Belgian paedophile when I suggested he was an authoritarian twit..

    I dunno..McGowan, Keenan, Rosen…I just seem to rub some people the wrong way. Actually, I’d be deeply worried if twats like that liked me…

  93. July 16, 2009 8:22 PM

    obooki It’s the mixing up of resentment towards authors with yet another ill-thought out principle to “protect” us that did it for me. I don’t care if I go down/have to pay for something that isn’t appropriate as long as I take ……….. ( insert most loathed author who works in schools ) with me.

    I rarely work in schools but when I have the school has either said CRB? Don’t bother or got really pernicketty about it until we proved that it’s not necessary. More post-code bureaucracy I think.

  94. July 16, 2009 8:24 PM

    Mishari me diffident?????? HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

  95. July 16, 2009 9:58 PM

    It worries me not a little that you’re referring to three or four viscera-spraying debacles from the golden age of GUblog debacles and I can’t remember a single one. Where was I during these romps? In church?

  96. July 16, 2009 10:02 PM

    Erm… which was the one featuring the middle class soi-disant oracular bardess (with ten kids at home) channeling Arthurian legends in a sonnet, threatening to sue her detractors? That were tasty.

  97. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 10:19 PM

    I suspect you’re thinking of Jane Holland. Carol posted one of her poems as Poem of the Week without realising that La Holland had made enemies of wordnerd and her little unit of ‘individualists’…ahem. Holland’s crime was to be a touch too chummy with the ‘rough boys at the back of the class’ (Mowbray, myself, cynicalsteve, FMK, parallax et al).

    It turned into a highly entertaining bloodbath, with Holland threatening to serve a writ (on whom and for what, I haven’t a notion..perhaps MM or someone will remember) and Carol giving out dark warnings. I stayed out of it, just an amused observer on the sidelines.

    • parallax permalink
      July 17, 2009 3:37 PM

      Mind you, Ms Holland’s persona was founded on the “scrotum-scratching- snooker (or was it billiards) queen-fuck-you” imagine. Plus the additional “I also play dead-eye poker, scull 95% proof poitin, and perform live poetry readings in Coventry.” Catalogue rough variety – if I recall.

  98. Meltonian permalink
    July 16, 2009 10:27 PM

    That was Jane Holland, I think. She was a bit touchy, though I found her quite amusing, not an opinion which was widely shared. What’s wrong with me? Oh yes, that. I think she took a fancy to the Prince. Mental health issues, I suppose.

  99. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 10:33 PM

    In many ways, she was a woman of exceptional judgement.
    Check this out. Highly amusing:

  100. July 16, 2009 11:06 PM

    Funny indeed… but the sound kept getting in the way of the subtitles (despite that tough Austrian accent). Funnier still are the German makers of Der Untergang… notice the sleight-of-hand? Hitler (and Goebbels, maybe) looks like the only real monster in the room… but surely they all were?

  101. July 16, 2009 11:22 PM

    Thing I now remember about Holland was her attempt to pass herself off as a proper, quill-wielding, per-fessional poet… a level above the mere hobbyists she’d stooped to unveil her pretty tin trinket for. The mediocrity of it made things so embarrassingly obvious: that cronyism has more than a tiny effect on the demimonde of belles lettres. ‘Twas ever so, of course, but I do long for the days when the cronies had talent.

  102. mishari permalink*
    July 16, 2009 11:31 PM

    Oh, the Holland poem that Carol posted was awful stuff…however, I did read some of her other stuff that wasn’t at all bad…just to be fair.

  103. pinkroom permalink
    July 17, 2009 2:33 AM

    So that’s who wordnerd thought I was. And evidently Des too, I recall a rather optomistically obscene (and at that time utterly bewildering) post where the name Holland arose. It was quickly modded.

    How interesting.

    I’m not btw.

  104. July 17, 2009 8:24 AM

    I believe that it was WN& who was the projected target of the writ; a complete over-reaction, I think. It was a dreadful poem.

  105. July 17, 2009 9:07 AM

    SA I’m not sure cronyism is a fair charge, opportunism more like – the poem was dreadful though. I remember warning Jane Holland about what was to come and she assured me she was a bar-room brawler so could handle any rough stuff. Seemingly not.

    Never heard of her again. At the Bologna Book Festival no doubt.

  106. mishari permalink*
    July 17, 2009 9:26 AM

    Laugh-out-loud funny piece from Marina Warner on the only person in creation more vapid and ghastly than Sting…his wife. Read it and weep..with laughter.

  107. July 17, 2009 10:17 AM

    I want a copy of “Why You Are Special and Wonderful and Your Hair Looks Amazing and Anyone Who Tells You Different Is Common”.

  108. July 17, 2009 10:33 AM

    Marina Hyde – very funny writer but whose judgement will be forever under a cloud when she had an affair with Piers Morgan – a man arguably even more odious than Sting. She’s obviously working overtime to try and bury the memory

  109. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 17, 2009 11:26 AM

    Marina rocks
    Piers was a stepping-stone
    But for whom?

  110. July 17, 2009 11:33 AM

    HLM given the amount of times he’s put his foot in his mouth Piers can only be a stepping stone for himself.

  111. Meltonian permalink
    July 17, 2009 12:15 PM

    Continuing my role as The Maverick, I’m going to note that I enjoyed reading Morgan’s ‘The Insider’. The stuff about Tony and Cherie was pretty funny, and anyone who can piss off Clarkson to that extent deserves a medal.

  112. July 18, 2009 8:02 AM

    “SA I’m not sure cronyism is a fair charge, opportunism more like – the poem was dreadful though.”

    Here’s something about cronyismitis:

    “…many awards that are not contests are also of
    questionable merit, and in the case where a contest solicits money
    for entry fees from the public, the fraud becomes a federal crime.
    Who can forget Brown Professor C.D. Wright rigging the
    Contemporary Georgia Poetry Series:

    In 2003, C.D. Wright chose two manuscripts. One was The Blaze
    of Poui, by Mark McMorris, who just happens to have both an    
    M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from Brown University. The second was a
    manuscript entitled Vertical Elegies 5 by Sam Truitt, his second
    book to be published. Sam has an M.F.A. from Brown University.
    Sam Truitt’s first book was Anamorphosis Eisenhower which just
    happened to be published by Wright’s Lost Roads Press in 1998.

    There is also the case of Jorie Graham giving her lover Peter
    Sacks (husband one year later) the same prize, and in exchange,
    Jorie was appointed to the prestigious Boylston Professorship at
    Harvard where Sacks is a Professor. Jorie has a long record of
    giving prizes to her former students, and even gave a prize to the
    babysitter of her daughter. There is no word on what became of
    the literary ambitions of her gardener. The phrase, “Jorie
    Graham Rule,” was coined for rules that are adopted by contests
    to prevent this kind of blatant nepotism. What can also be coined
    is the “Jorie Graham Professorship,” whereas one becomes a
    Professor by having a two-year liaise-faire M.F.A. degree
    without the rigorous six years of academic work required by the

    Sometimes there are fake awards that are just created to give
    people awards, as in the case of the Believer Magazine’s Award
    which has no prize money, no nomination process, no judging
    panel except the editors, but the first award was given to a Sam
    Lipsyte, Columbia University colleague of Believer editor Heidi
    Julavits’s husband. There is no real crime here, except the
    attempt of a magazine to bullshit its readership.

    Sometimes there is just an outright attempt to publish as many
    friends and students as possible, as in the case of Columbia
    University Professor Richard Howard, as Poetry Editor of the
    Paris Review, who was given the boot last year. Not only did he
    give the Bernard F. Conners Poetry Prize every year to a former
    colleague or student, but he had promised, years in advance,
    publication in the Paris Review to so many poets, that the Paris
    Review had to rescind many of their acceptances. Richard
    Howard had his hands on the Zoo Press Poetry Prize as well, and
    now that Press in light of his machinations has folded.”

    And here’s the famous Foetry itself (re: Jorie Graham):

    And, finally, something unintentionally funny/tragic from another site:

    ***”Still, Foetry’s opponents make credible points. “Publication has never been fair,” says Houlihan, and it cannot be, being “taste-driven.” One of the Foetry forums even asks: “Ethics, Fraud or Just the Way It’s Always Been?”

    Some poets find the contest system not worth fixing. Michael Scharf, poetry editor for Publishers Weekly and himself a published poet, suggests that smaller presses without competitions can, do, and should state “that they want to publish their friends,” since “that kind of support seems to make for better work.” Yet without contests, some publishers would fold. As Walzer points out, “There seem to be more people willing to pay for a chance to have their own book published (i.e., contest reading fee) than there are people willing to buy a book of poetry by someone else.”***

    That last sentence is the kicker.

  113. July 18, 2009 8:27 AM

    SA No arguments about your definitions but as I remember it Carol put out a call for a below-the-liner to offer up a poem ( or the idea was mooted by a below-the-liner ) and Jane Holland rushed to the head of the queue to offer up her poem. I would say that’s opportunism rather than behind the scenes cronyism. The problem being the gap between poetic quality and ambition. Carol strenuously denied any favouritism and as, in my experience she has always operated in an even-handed manner I see ( or saw ) no reason to think she was lying.

  114. July 18, 2009 9:38 AM

    Oh, aha, Al… I wasn’t referring to cronyism in that specific case (in which the stakes were even lower than usual). I meant Holland’s various awards, citations, knighthoods etc. It was the air of the con-soomit per-fessional that Holland donned that cheesed me off a bit. Speak of the devil:

    … from (defunct) Thumbscrew magazine (via a blog called “Surroundings”):

    ****”Most people,” as Adrian Mitchell once famously put it, “ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people”. This is of course regrettable, but at least it means that “most people” don’t realise the contempt with which they are regarded by so many poets. Contemporary British poetry is not so much a game which everyone can play, as an élite sport played by professionals to which the rest of us are invited as spectators.

    It is a stately-home nature-trail patrolled on every side by game-keepers. It is a night-club with more bouncers than dancers. It is a world in which, according to Jane Holland in Poetry Review, “there are too many people out there writing poetry” – an opinion which subsequent correspondence in the magazine suggests is “the private view of most serious poets” and editors “who have to wade through oceans of substandard verbiage on a regular basis to find anything worth publishing”.****

  115. July 18, 2009 9:47 AM

    “It is a world in which, according to Jane Holland in Poetry Review, “there are too many people out there writing poetry”

    …I leave it to you to spot the irony…

  116. Meltonian permalink
    July 18, 2009 10:34 AM

    I think Jane Holland’s mum is a well-known writer (I can’t remember her name), so it’s in the background.

    A scything tackle from Johnny Giles on pathetic scribbler Stuart Evers on the David Peace blog. Bet he didn’t see that one coming.

  117. Meltonian permalink
    July 18, 2009 10:45 AM

    No, he didn’t. Sometimes I think I’m psychic. The psychic sidekick. I like it.

  118. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2009 11:58 AM

    Even if Evers weren’t a laughable twit, I wouldn’t be able to get past that cringingely risible haircut…

  119. July 18, 2009 11:59 AM

    My God, Melton! – that’s some psychic talent you have. Have you thought about having your own programme on the Living channel?

    A very shrewd man, this Johnny Giles:

    As for you Stuart Evers, you are a very rude young man, in your day job, gossiping like an old woman; not contributing to your field of literature in any substantial way. You know, where I come from in Dublin, we have a saying: a bird is known by its song, a man by his conversation. Your conversation, it seems to me, is very shallow, vapid and lacking in all wit.

    But why’s he following Stuart Evers’ career so closely?

  120. Meltonian permalink
    July 18, 2009 2:03 PM

    I considered a career in psychic TV at one time. However, I foresaw that it would be a disaster, so I stuck with the street-sweeping.

  121. July 18, 2009 2:40 PM

    ‘I considered a career in psychic TV’

    MM, I think you took that job:

  122. Captain Ned permalink
    July 18, 2009 4:46 PM

    Purnell, who says he is unlikely to return to frontline politics, was the most senior of the 11 who walked out of Brown’s government last month and the only cabinet minister to directly call on the prime minister to stand down.

    Unlikely to return to frontline politics my arse. But it’s a nice thought.

  123. July 18, 2009 7:13 PM

    I can’t understand the arguments that modern poetry is elitist. There’s so much poetry being written online these days that it seems to be becoming a saturated genre. I suppose it’s different if you purely define it as that published by recognised poetry houses, but how long will this remain a legitimate distinction?

    p.s. come visit my blog – I’m getting lonely!

  124. July 18, 2009 7:14 PM

    I think I meant “publishing” houses, but I’m drunk!

  125. Meltonian permalink
    July 18, 2009 7:23 PM

    I wish people would stop posting my home movies on youtube.

    Your arse could make a valuable contribution to politics today, Captain. PM is the ultimate goal, of course, but Home Secretary would be a good start, and not too violent a change since it’s been occupied by a giant posterior for the last few years.

  126. pinkroom permalink
    July 18, 2009 8:13 PM

    I got scythed by the mods on the Peace thread simply for quoting Georgie Best on Chalfont St. Giles. James Joyce… fair enough that has some intellectual heavyweight kudos… but George Best! (walks away, shaking head).

  127. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2009 10:35 PM

    In case anyone wondered what I do when I’m bored, check out the Politely Homicidal music channel. There’s also a link on the blogroll (of course, you’d have to be even more bored than me, but I’m sure it happens…)

    I’ve been learning my way around the video editing software so the early efforts are a bit hit and miss.

    One of my sons watched me for a while and I could see the words ‘dadrock’ trembling on his lips but then he remembered that he wanted to put the bite on me for cash so he held his tongue, the insolent puppy.

    Here are a few that worked out OK-ish, I think…

  128. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2009 10:36 PM

  129. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2009 10:44 PM

  130. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2009 10:49 PM

  131. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2009 10:54 PM

  132. Meltonian permalink
    July 18, 2009 11:16 PM

    Wot, no Wurzels?

  133. mishari permalink*
    July 18, 2009 11:32 PM

    Jesus…you really are twisted, aren’t you?

  134. July 19, 2009 12:08 AM

    The Morphine one is quite elegantly ghastly: I think you have a lucrative future in inspiring terrifying Acid experiences, M! Incidentally, Mike Rivard (who shared bass chores on the album that’s from) and I each *____* the same girl for months (in sequence rather than in parallel). His nickname is Microvard but not because…

  135. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2009 5:32 PM

    Here’s one especially for you, Steven. See if you can spot what the source material for the kaleidoscope images was:

  136. July 19, 2009 7:17 PM

    I don’t know what the source material was, Mishari. But I have a headache, no memory of the last twenty minutes, and a PayPal donation has been made in my name to Cruise/Wagner Productions.

  137. Meltonian permalink
    July 19, 2009 8:24 PM

    All right, falling into a stereotype here, but….. tits?

  138. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2009 8:43 PM

    Well spotted, MM…it’s work that battaolo, the creator, (a German, natch) calls Kaleidoporn. He uses hardcore porn as his source material. Once you know that, I think it becomes obvious.

    Here he is at full stretch:

  139. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2009 9:36 PM

    I’m guessing this is more your type of woman, MM:

  140. Meltonian permalink
    July 19, 2009 10:45 PM

    Mmmm… have you got her address?

  141. mishari permalink*
    July 19, 2009 11:04 PM

    I believe she can usually be reached :

    C/O The Spooky Looking Pile On The Hill That People In Films Always Head For When Their Car Breaks Down Instead Of Waiting For The RAC The Folly Of Which Costs Them Dearly, Vladichickenstock, Transylvania.

    If you do date her, you’ll want to keep the jumper-cables handy.

  142. July 19, 2009 11:32 PM

    Thanks, M. I’ve been fiendishly busy all day, so it’s nice to come home to some good old fashioned Kaleidoporn. I suppose battaolo (Bavarian name, is it?) is working hard on getting the 3d version ready for Xmas…

  143. Meltonian permalink
    July 19, 2009 11:36 PM

    What, for me or her?

    Have you ever been along the Via Ferrata?

  144. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2009 12:07 AM

    I’ve been along many via ferratas all over the place (in the Andes and the Himalayas they tend to be less ferrata than bamboo, cane, wood and vines).

    I’m a bit ambivalent about them. They encourage people who lack the required level of fitness and/or a head for heights to attempt to make passages that they wouldn’t otherwise contemplate.

    One incident in particular made an impression on me. I was reaching the last 5 mile stretch of a 30 mile VF in the Picos when I encountered a Swedish couple coming the other way. Or, rather, not coming or going, what with being so petrified with fear they were frozen to the rock face.

    The route, at both ends, climbed from valleys at around 1000 ft above sea level to between 2000 t0 2500 ft above sea level. The weather had been dull and very misty and the gradient rather easy and the couple had not noticed until they were at height just how precarious the trail was.

    The path was never more than 5 ft wide and often less. At the point I found them, the trail was about 3 1/2 ft wide over an almost sheer drop of over a 1000ft. The cables and handholds had given them confidence. That fled when the mist and drizzle cleared enough for them to appreciate the drop.

    I spent the next 7-8 hours shepherding the petrified pair back to their starting point. It is not a happy memory.

  145. Meltonian permalink
    July 20, 2009 12:21 AM

    That was good of you. I didn’t realise it was a generic term. I’m talking about the one in Italy/Austria, which was apparently made for Alpine troops. My son’s doing it this week.

  146. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2009 12:41 AM

    I think the idea is universal, though I suspect Italy/Austria is one of the first places where it was regulated, installed and maintained by the authorities and certainly where most Europeans encountered the system. In most places, it’s usually pretty ad hoc. In many places they’re a neccessity and villages in the high ranges get together to repair and maintain their section.

    I’ve seen it done in the Atlas Mts. where they turn it into a fiesta of sorts. I pitched in and helped and the villagers were delighted (and pleased that I spoke Arabic: although Berbers, they’re all bi-lingual in Arabic and Tamazight, the language of the Berbers).

    I was treated to the finest hash, their Special 12 Year-Old Reserve, so to speak, and urged to prolong my stay. Lovely people. Mountain folk seem, in my experience, to go one of two ways: clannish and insular, suspicious and hostile to outsiders or hugely hospitable and generous. The Berbers of the Rif and Atlas are of the latter sort, the Swiss (bad cess to ’em) are of the former.

  147. July 20, 2009 11:00 AM


    What’s you knowledge of Ronda? We’re thinking of moving on there for a few months after Berlin and I know you spend time in Spain.

    Leaving Berlin on Thursday, sadly, unless *someone* feels like doing the honourable thing and stepping aside to make their living space available (rent free, of course).

  148. parallax permalink
    July 20, 2009 12:07 PM

    exitb – arf, your paypal donation is in my pocket, via Kuwait, Nigeria, the Caymans, East Timor, Hobart and finally Sydney.

    Nice work mishari, I’ve enjoyed your politely homicidal video productions. So how does that work? I’ve managed the stills to music on powerpoint to stoned effect. So are you accessing on-line streamed video, then cutting up the video images, processing them through eg kaleidoscope tools and stretching them to fit the music underlay? Or stretching the music to fit the pictures?

  149. July 20, 2009 12:25 PM

    1. Ripping tale about the high places, M; why aren’t you hosting a travel show (online, even?) combining Louis Theroux’ nose for quirk and Michael Palin’s genial sense of the far flung? I’d pay to subscribe. You’d need an Italian co-presenter who resembled a coltish young Mary Tyler Moore, of course… every week she could find herself stuck on some mountain pass or other and you’d help her out of it (lowered from heli) whilst regaling her and the audience with tales of hash-spiked paella…

    2. XitB: would you like to borrow my map of squats? The town’s famous for ’em. (Fuck personal hygiene) . And have you looked in the Zweite Hand (out on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays, I think) about dirt-cheap sublets in Neuköln or Wedding, btw?

  150. July 20, 2009 12:27 PM

    Oh, shit. Erm, wrong avatar. Sentiments stand (ever since we were forced to use the same browser, this keeps happening).

  151. July 20, 2009 12:52 PM

    Thanks SA,

    To be honest, I lived in innumerable squats during my first 18 months of life and – whilst memories are hazy – I think this contributed to my deeply-held interest in knowing who can, and cannot, get through my front door.

    Joking aside, our time here has been revelatory, life-changing even. We’re currently scheming ways to get back here more permanently. The issues are more related to rootedness in London and carefully planning the set-up we’d want rather than any major financial restrictions. We’ve perfected the art of living cheap in London, so to do so here feels – relatively – easy. Thanks again for all your advice and help.

  152. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2009 3:34 PM

    para, I’ve been learning. I started out a few days ago using 5 or 6 different apps to do different stuff (1 to convert the downloaded clip from a .flv to an .avi, another to merge different clips,another to merge my music with the clip, yet another to add titles, and another to re-convert the .avi to a .wmv to upload–all abit tiresome)…

    Today, I discovered CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Ultra (it was the ‘Ultra’ that sold me, sap that I am) which does all of the above so I’ve spent the day learning my way around it.

    It’s a dream of usability and intuitive controls. Sorted. As to reasoning…I decide which bits of music I want to share and then go hunting for footage. Searching for ‘experimental film/animation’ turns up a cornucopia of stuff.

    Re: Ronda, XB…we spent a week there about ten years ago when a friend was renting a house on the outskirts. Lovely town. At first, the hordes of coach parties had me worried but our friend assured us that they all vanished at around 5 pm, back to their hotels on the coast in Granada or Seville.

    Ronda’s a charming small town. Just busy enough and crowded enough in the evening to make it entertaining and, of course, it’s spectacularly situated in a stunning setting.

    Steven, you provide the young MTM look-a-like in distress every week and I’ll do the rest.

  153. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2009 3:45 PM

    In fact,para…here’s the first product of the new software:

  154. mishari permalink*
    July 20, 2009 3:54 PM

    This one was made on the old software, still…this one’s for XB:

  155. Meltonian permalink
    July 20, 2009 10:02 PM

    Thanks for the info on via ferrata. I was hoping for something to reassure Mrs M with. On consideration I think I’ll keep your anecdote under wraps for the time being.

  156. July 21, 2009 3:31 PM

    Hi Mish,

    Still stuck on the nominal thread topic, recapturing of the parts (of the ghosts),,, sorting through more old photos and trying to sort out the personal history unknowns from the cultural history unknowns. Spooky.

    “Meant to be…”

    Hi Mish, still stuck on the thread topic, er nominal thread topic. Sorting through more old photos, trying to sort out the personal ghosts from the cultural ones. The latter are lately threatening to take over, scary.

  157. parallax permalink
    July 21, 2009 3:42 PM

    Misha – thought you’d enjoy browsing this blog – don’t know the background, just stumbled across it – brilliant photo archives.

    Does PH video productions do requests? Can you mash bruised innocence with hard bitten experience?

  158. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2009 5:22 PM

    Here’s a laugh for you, para. I posted a vid I’d made of a Locos Por Juana track that I really like, El Preso. The next day, I got this:

    Locos Por Juana – El Preso

    Hey there, I’m the drummer for LocosPorJuana, I really love what you did with El Preso, It is great. If you want I can send you new music from Locos ……

    Javier Delgado-Drummer, Locos Por Juana

    So, encouraged by the fact that they weren’t offended by my arsing about, I made another Locos Por Juana vid, a song I like called Gracias. Today, I got this:

    Grettings From LocosporJuana!

    Much Love we Love your videos we Where wondering if we send you a New Track you can do a video for us to put it everywhere as our Official Video we will do major Promotion for it
    Let us now
    Please write to our email

    Great job

    itagui – Lead singer

    I must admit, at first I thought it was you or Mowbray winding me up, but I clicked on both of the profiles atttached to the messages and these guys really are Locos Por Juana.

    BTW, I’m teaching myself to use this audio mixing/dubbing software so I can create The Mowbray Rap. Watch this space…

  159. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2009 5:46 PM

    BTW, here’s that second Locos Por Juana vid I made:

  160. parallax permalink
    July 21, 2009 5:50 PM

    Hi there, Greetings from LosSwidders. I too have much loved your videos. Can you do videos of illicit pictures I have taken from underneath public lavatory doors? You truly enhance the bigness I am achieving soon. Please write and send money to my email

  161. parallax permalink
    July 21, 2009 5:52 PM

    hey that “Gracias” vid is not half bad.

  162. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2009 6:22 PM

    Here’s the latest from the band. I’m amazed (and gratified) at this.
    The power of the interweb thingie, eh?

    dear mishari,

    we LOVE the new video, it is AMAZING. Great job, it is very creative..

    WE want to see if we can send you 2 tracks from our latest album, La Verdad, perhaps you can make a video for that, just like these, and we will use it as official videos for the band and promote the video all over Europe and US. We just returned from Europe but unfortunately we didn’t make it to London..

    The two tracks we have in mind are called FIRE! and De Donde Es?
    Fire is a Latin Reggae feel with revolutionary lyrics, and De Donde Es? is a song about Immigrants displaced around the world…

    Pls send me an email were I can send you the audio, also send me a mailing address and I will mail you a box of CDs for you and your friends..

    We will be returning to Europe in Feb 2010 and this time we will definitely set up some shows in London..

    Thanks again, great work, continue the creativity b/c you are very talented, Gracias was very beautiful, it was a very Great Job again

    pls email us as soon as you can… or
    or call us to (305) 213 7152

    Thanks again and many blessings

    …astonishing, no? I wrote back and explained that I’m just an amateur with a laptop but that I’d love to give their new tracks a try. I’ll keep you posted.

  163. July 21, 2009 7:10 PM

    Why does the robot have a make-up kit? Who put it in the box? What was the original source, Mishari?

    The most incredible YouTube video I ever saw I stumbled on quite by chance when searching for something else. It was an old Mickey Mouse cartoon, where Mickey makes a super-strength serum which sends him berserk; first he gets it then the dog, then the mouse. Their bodies would warp with the new power. Grotesque, really. Especially when some genius synced it with Heroin by the Velvet Underground. Mindblowing. I’ve never found it since; I imagine the Mouse had the perpetrator hunted down, mouth taped and strapped inside a Goofy costume in Disneyland.

  164. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2009 7:21 PM

    The original source is a youtube vid called Doll Face. I found it while digging around the ‘experimental animation’ section, a great source for cowboys like me.

    The guy who made it’s obviously a pro and would probably shit a brick if he saw what I’d done with his work but, hey…that’s show biz (y’know…the business that there’s no business like?). Still, at least the band like what I did, which is very cool…

  165. July 21, 2009 7:35 PM

    It is cool.

  166. exitbarnadine permalink
    July 21, 2009 7:43 PM

    Cool, that is, to have one’s art-inspired work enjoyed by the inspirer.

    When I was very young I had a Star Wars soundtrack LP. I would bash along to it with a pair of chopsticks and I remember having a daydream that George Lucas would be driving past, hear me through the window, and invite me to join the orchestra. Absurd, of course. We lived in a close.

    The other day I linked my Cornelius tale to a GU Moorcock thread and, briefly, found myself imagining a post appearing on my blog: ‘Dear BaronCharlus, Michael Moorcock, the fantasy author, here. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed…’

  167. mishari permalink*
    July 21, 2009 8:34 PM

    ‘We lived in a close.’ Well, that was yer problem right there. If only you’d lived on a main road, you’d be playing drums for George Lucas and his Syncopated Wookie Orchestra and living the high life.

    Let this be a lesson to young people just starting out. Always live on a main road, preferably in a big city (and I mean BIG…anything under 5 million people is Hicksville).

  168. Meltonian permalink
    July 22, 2009 12:03 AM

    Who are all those lunatics on the PP blog? It’s like a Boy Scouts convention. Think I’ll fuck it off soon.

  169. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2009 12:43 AM

    Dunno..I haven’t checked since I tweaked atf’s nose. Back in a minute…

    OK, got it. I poke fun at atf’s hypocrisy and Mills compares me to wordnerd. I get the message. I’ve handed in my notice. What a fucking crew…and Pinkerbell should should learn to keep her trap shut when she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    I must say, I’m surprised at Mills, though. Pompous cunt. I expect my comment will be deleted by morning. Fuck ’em. It’ll be the last comment of mine they delete…under any name.(I think this time he means it–Ed.)

  170. file permalink
    July 22, 2009 1:17 AM

    ‘a sense of the absurd’ is a rare and florid truffle Mishari, All at PP would be the poorer without yours. It might even be possible to pick your nose innocently while Rome (Mills) burns without actually eating the buggers, no?

    MM, I did point out that I read your comment as a jape, isn’t it also possible for all to have fun on the terraces sans tear gas?

  171. file permalink
    July 22, 2009 1:20 AM

    whoops, feverish trigger finger. Double post = don’t think it’s necessary to mince off in a pre-raphaelite huff

  172. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2009 1:35 AM

    It’s not a huff or a mince, you cheeky frog bastard: more of a resigned and melancholy closing of a door. Anyway, I’ve got other fish to fry…

  173. file permalink
    July 22, 2009 2:31 AM

    frog, moi?

    I guess now you’re a successful video producer it’s no skin off your anteating nose eh? By the by, you have a rare gift of the gab but why are you so antsy? Perhaps it would be too easy to jump to conclusions of major insecurity. How many times have you ‘not huffed or minced’ off pp? A shame, your absurd poesy is well appreciated in the wide world, to confine your ‘special’ brand of cabaret to this small corner of suburbia, that’s all

  174. Meltonian permalink
    July 23, 2009 5:44 PM

    I didn’t have you in mind, file: I know who you are, sort of.

  175. July 23, 2009 7:40 PM

    Sorry, but what did I say that I didn’t know about? I know all too well what it’s like to wander into one of these fights and be presumed to be part of it because I didn’t express my opinion. Unfortunately it’s closed now so I can’t reply. Didn’t realise I had to pick a team…thought it was a free speech unless you’re downright offensive kind of deal. For what it’s worth I do think anyone who brought up previous grievances was stuck in the playground and comparisons to Wnd were cheap shots, but you all give as good as you get – there are no victims there! I mentioned newbies because I’d sent the link on to a friend who I was trying to get back to writing poetry and she got put off posting.

  176. file permalink
    July 24, 2009 8:26 AM

    think there must have been something pugnacious rising in Scorpio this week, do hope it’s all mincing anteaters under the bridge now, was actually trying to be positive but realize now it may not have come out that way

    Mel, when you find out who I am would you let me (and the wife) know?

  177. Meltonian permalink
    July 24, 2009 1:40 PM

    I’m afraid that information is sealed under the 100 year rule, file. Just stay out of the moonlight and make sure you wear a garlic necklace at all times.

Comments are closed.