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Waste Your Fragrance

December 27, 2010



Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its fragrance on the desert air.
Thomas Gray

I couldn’t help notice the alacrity with which you all got stuck into writing a spontaneous novel on these pages last year and it got me thinking. Why not set up a series of Politely Homicidal collaborative novels? Select a number of genres, get the ball rolling and see what develops.

So that’s what I’ve done. The first PH Collaboration (or Hive Mind Project) is a modernist novel called The Lie of The City.

Some of you might reasonably object that ‘modernism’ isn’t, strictly speaking, a ‘genre’. Well, seeing as how ‘modernism’ itself is so hard to pin down, I think that we can treat it as a genre for our purposes. I guess it’s one of those things like ‘pornography’: hard to define but you know it when you see it.

I’ll put up a link on the side bar and I look forward to seeing where you decide to take this. Let me state at the outset: I have no idea who the protagonist is, where he’s come from or where he’s going; nor do I have any idea which direction the novel will take. It’s entirely up to you. And honestly, can it turn out any worse than Rourke’s The Canal? I doubt it very much.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be adding a crime novel, an Alan Furst-style thriller and a fantasy novel. Look at it this way: it’s got to be a more interesting time-waster than doing crossword-puzzles.

  1. mishari permalink*
    December 28, 2010 12:07 PM

    …and here’s a post-Modern moment:

  2. hic8ubique permalink
    December 29, 2010 9:53 PM

    I like the hive mind concept, but I’m not very prosaceous, nor fictiferous. I believe we’re missing the big Melt. He should recur soon. And pinkroom was keen if I recall…
    I’ll await developments with interest, and be a dedicated subscriber to the … what? serial?

  3. mishari permalink*
    December 30, 2010 5:06 AM

    The series of serials, I think. In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to one of your compatriots…Basil Marceauxdotcom: half man, half website, all-American.

  4. December 30, 2010 11:57 AM

    Someone hard of hearing reading the subtitles alone is going to think Basil is an incoherent moron whereas those of us who can hear him speak …..wait a minute.

  5. hic8ubique permalink
    December 30, 2010 9:42 PM

    The amalgamated Basil, charming fellow.
    I’d ride a luge!
    I’m not sure I like serial as a noun.
    Here’s something worthwhile on the bear theme from today’s inbox…

  6. mishari permalink*
    December 30, 2010 10:44 PM

    Nothing wrong with ‘serial’ as a noun, hic. It was good enough for Dickens, Conan Doyle and Flash Gordon (“Will Ming The Merciless have his evil way with Dale? Tune in next week…”)

    I have an interesting bunch of films for you, Ed. ‘Howl’, about Ginsberg and the furore over his eponymous poem; ‘Please, Give’, a NYC-set comedy of manners; ‘My Joy’, a Ukrainian film: ‘Catfish’, a documentary about internet social networks and ‘My Dog Tulip’, an animated film. I’ve only watched ‘Please Give’, which I enjoyed but I’ve heard good things about the others.

    Mostly, I’ve been self-medicating and playing cards (my in-laws are bridge fanatics). How about you guys?

  7. hic8ubique permalink
    December 31, 2010 4:36 AM

    Including myself among guys… I’ve been up to intoxicating periods of silence whilst my nearest and dearest were performing in and tech-crewing a series of 18 shows in Town. I looked after the feathered and furred friendly beasts, picked at the Christmas ham, fried a few eggs, skied in the woods every day with savage nordic delight, indulged in extended vinyasa bliss, attended to clients, restored a preliminary degree of household order after seasonal brouhaha, skoalled the neighbours, saw the aforementioned show twice, joined my Latin dance friends at our holiday soiree… and shovelled out the driveway… and polished off the stollen, not necessarily in that order.
    I’ve blessedly eluded all threats of outlaws and card playing, and any other manifestations of black despair ;)
    I did watch Fanny&Alexander on Christmas night, joined by stalwart Spouse who is resigned to the truth that I will watch it annually even if only with armagnac and a fire for company.
    Yesterday, when ‘turning it off and on’ didn’t do the trick, I ventured into that sacred American institution, The Mall, to have my mobile phone looked at… pandaemonium.

  8. December 31, 2010 9:48 AM

    I finished Underworld off, a damn fine book and one I’ll read again – I felt I missed about two thirds of its intricacies/ recurring themes/ connections , did a lot of drawing and pre-emptive worrying for a new show we’ll start making in January and sat around vegetating.

    I did enjoy George Galloway on the Today programme discussing oratory and describing Hitler as ” a bit shouty.”

    Bridge eh? That’s a completely unknown world to me. When Bridge terminologies come up as clues in the crossword I’m at a total loss. One of my oldest friends is a Bridge fanatic too but it never stuck with me. Mah Jong is the same. I. Am. A. Moron.

    The films sound the perfect remedy.

  9. mishari permalink*
    December 31, 2010 10:15 AM

    I’ve always enjoyed card games, Ed. Many years ago, I lived with a woman who was a bridge nut. She determined that I should not only be her partner, but her bridge-partner and taught me the game.

    I’ve learned countless card games over the years. It seems that every country has its own version of gin or hearts or spades or variations thereof. I find that there’s something soothing about the whole ritual of card playing–the shuffle, the meld, the deal, the examination of ones hand and the play.

    Mah Jong…now there’s a weird game…

    Underworld is a fine book. I missed Our George. ‘A bit shouty’? More than ‘a bit’, I think.

    I’ll get those films off to you after the weekend

  10. December 31, 2010 10:46 AM

    My family used to unite around the game of Cheat and revel in just how underhand and dishonest we all could be.

    I completely concur with the pleasures of card playing it’s just Bridge that escapes me.

  11. hic8ubique permalink
    December 31, 2010 7:17 PM

    You’re obviously not the least bit moronic, EdT. I wonder whether those who tend toward extroversion are more apt to enjoy games and contests. For a soothing ritual, I suppose I’d choose knitting. The family extroverts play pool and cribbage, anything going really. I do like ping-pong and, once in a while, Scrabble. I’m not the fun cool parent; that’s been no contest from the first.

  12. January 2, 2011 11:23 PM

    Fabulously dense with intelligence (I sensed you missing my non-sequiturs…):

    • January 2, 2011 11:36 PM

      PS Can’t blame John Young for the absurdly gratuitous footage at the 10:00 mark…

  13. January 3, 2011 2:33 PM

    There’s a new shopping complex near our workshop. Was slightly dismayed to find real 19th century gravestones in amongst benches in the area designated for relaxing in.

    When I go I want my ashes to be flung far and wide but dear God don’t let any memorial for me end up in a shopping centre.

  14. hic8ubique permalink
    January 3, 2011 4:09 PM

    It sounds sort of ozymandian,EdT, but with a ‘shop til you drop’ twist.

    “Ads by Google
    Skin Rash Or Psoriasis?”

    This is a new intrusion, at least I’m assuming Mishari hasn’t seen it yet or assented to such an amusing excrescence. I’ve also been surprised by new self-starting videos on the G pages. At first, I couldn’t find which tab they were coming from…

    This had me stifling outbursts of laughter late last night:

    (I’ts from 2002, but for some reason is having a resurgence. Today it’s up to 2nd most viewed in the Travel section.)

  15. January 3, 2011 4:25 PM

    Here’s to the new year

  16. mishari permalink*
    January 3, 2011 5:50 PM

    Nice one, Des. I always liked, I think it was McCartney’s reply, when he was asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world: “He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles”.

    Ads by google, hic? On this page? Bastards. I use AdBlock (and FlashBlock) so I never see any ads, anywhere. I don’t think I get a choice, though: if you use the free wordpress service, you sometimes get ads. I guess I’ll have to switch to the paid-for version. I suppose the word ‘fragrance’ triggered the ‘skin rash’ nonsense. I’ll turn off Adblock and have a look.

  17. mishari permalink*
    January 3, 2011 5:54 PM

    Nope…even with AdBlock turned off, I’m not seeing any adverts…

  18. January 3, 2011 6:42 PM

    No adverts seen here either. Mind you the ad world gave up on Lancashire years go – what with everything being black and white and all.

    Just as well too – with gravestones at the local shopping centre and ads on PH it would be a Step Too Far.

    The Ringo gag was Lennon’s – a pedant writes.

  19. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 3, 2011 9:01 PM

    Everything’s small again! Have I gone back in time?

  20. January 3, 2011 9:38 PM

    Do you mind keeping the noise down MM I can’t hear Mrs. Dale’s Diary.

  21. mishari permalink*
    January 3, 2011 9:55 PM

    Radio signals from the 50s are just reaching you, then, Ed? Jeez…you really are in the sticks.

  22. hic8ubique permalink
    January 4, 2011 1:49 AM

    Welcome back to the warm bosom of PH, Mowbray.
    Or rather, welcome back, I’ve missed you, and the warm bosom of Reine will most likely turn up shortly… I noted that Melton Mowbray was in the news again.

    Mishari~ the ‘Ads by Google’ rash website was posted prominently on the Modernist Novel page just after Chapter one and before Pinkroom’s contribution. It was there Sunday and vanished shortly after I posted today.
    So you didn’t remove it then. Odd. I’ve never before seen an ad besmirch your turf. I thought they must be getting more aggressive, since their video ads have begun self-firing as well.

    It’s still earnestly busy here. Nobody believes in an inter-holiday lull, alas. The celebrations are all mashed into ‘business as usual’.

  23. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 4, 2011 12:54 PM

    Thank you, hic. How did you come to be Lord (Lady, surely) of Misrule? There’s a hint of subversion there which worries me. Springtime can be chilly in Cuba.

    It’s been a long time since I played bridge. Newmarket used to be the card game of choice
    chez Mowbray, and a fortune in matchsticks changed hands every Xmas. Unfortunately the other Mowbrays’ addiction to Cluedo (one of the most boring games I’ve ever played) overshadowed most Xmases for me. Mrs M and me get the Scrabble out now and then but since she usually thrashes me it’s a rare event.

    ET, I must thank you and Exit for recommending Stewart Lee. I bought Mrs M his ‘If you prefer a milder comedian…’ DVD, which she very much enjoyed. I also bought his book, which I haven’t investigated yet. I liked the performance on the DVD much better than his TV show, though the second half contained a few longueurs.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 5, 2011 4:33 PM

      It was only for about seven minutes, so I didn’t think to renegotiate my title, though my daft assumption that a man would be chosen added to my astonishment. This is the line:

      “…and now we search the common folk
      for someone who can take a joke.”

      I guess that’s how I appear, MM.
      It’s happened before… at my first ever Cirque du Soleil.
      The pre-show business included clowns messing with the audience, and two of them gestured to me to stand up and next I knew I was being carried off!

      We played Newmarket with my grandparents, using pennies. They were fun, loved party games.
      I remember my grandfather always saying: ‘Come on, it’s supposed to go fast!’
      and someone forgetting and playing the nine of diamonds following the eight.

  24. January 4, 2011 1:24 PM

    I used to play Scrabble in a free and carefree way but a few games with a ruthless friend rid me of that behaviour. Now it’s an extremely parsimonious use of letters in order to manoeuvre opponents into giving me opportunities for further parsimonious uses of letters rather than the sheer joy of making a word like axolotl.

    I was becoming so deviously competitive that I had to stop playing.

    XB is more of the Lee-man here. I only saw Stewart Lee live for the first time in November, I’d previously seen a lot of his stuff on TV and DVD. Very good – I agree that the TV show didn’t entirely work but I enjoy the borderline pedantry he employs in teasing out an idea. He had a terrific routine about the IRA gentlemen terrorists. The show I saw was a try-out of material for another TV series so you’ll probably see it sooner or later.

  25. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 4, 2011 2:09 PM

    I’ll look out for it. When the host of NMTB came on last night Mrs M said, ah, the thirty-eight year-old Frankie Boyle. So Mr Lee obviously made an impression.

  26. mishari permalink*
    January 4, 2011 11:49 PM

    Clegg may accept control orders deal

    Lib Dem leader said to be willing to compromise —The Graun, today

    Clegg? Prepared to compromise? Well, fuck my old boots: who would have thought it?

  27. Captain Ned permalink
    January 4, 2011 11:59 PM

    Happy New Year.

  28. mishari permalink*
    January 5, 2011 12:07 AM

    Same to you, Ned. Youtube is a bit of a sore point at the moment–I accidentally deleted my 100 most recent uploads (I was distracted and the two buttons–one for deleting a single vid, one for deleting a whole page’s worth–are next to one another) only to discover that the mistake can’t be rectified. It’s re-upload all the fucking things or nothing. Bastards.

  29. Shiloh permalink
    January 5, 2011 9:05 AM

    And Mick Karn snuffed it yesterday as well.

    Putting my youthful Goth tendencies to one side, I was never a huge fan of Japan and the fretless bass but still… 52’s no age, really.

  30. mishari permalink*
    January 5, 2011 11:00 AM

    52? Jesus…you’re a puppy. I turned 56 in Nov. Never much cared for Japan or David Sylvian myself, being more partial to music that went ‘Bang Bang’ than music that went ‘Whoosh Whoosh” (to put it both inelegantly and imprecisely)…

  31. Shiloh permalink
    January 5, 2011 5:28 PM

    Hardly a puppy, truth to tell. Nearer 52 than 32. And getting closer to the mark each passing day.

    Anyway, smart-looking place you’ve got here Mishari. How do you find the locals?

  32. Reine permalink
    January 5, 2011 7:54 PM

    Hey, ho and a happy new year all. Much to catch up on. A novel? Gadzooks. I am scrabbled out having taken on my mother on several nights – she is a fiend. Got all her letters down on a triple last night to take the game with “roister(s)”. Exhausting but merry/hysterical time with the family … hope everyone is well. R (moderately warm bosomed).

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 5, 2011 11:56 PM

      I was beginning to wonder , young lady!
      Triple word score really is the secret of Scrabble isn’t it?
      I’ve been reading bird death theories…
      Missed you~ x

  33. January 5, 2011 8:19 PM

    Here’s a good topical song – try and forget Simply Red’s version.

  34. mishari permalink*
    January 6, 2011 1:11 AM

    Hello, Reine…glad you’re well. I wish I was….

    I jest; just a hangover. I woke up about 5 minutes ago, to be sweetly asked if it was sensible for a man my age to get that drunk so early in the day. Probably not.

    hic, the last theory I heard was fireworks (not that that makes a lot of sense).

    Great song, Ed. Erasing SR from my memory is simplicity itself.

    Shiloh, I find the locals by sending out men with dogs. They can run but they can’t hide.

  35. hic8ubique permalink
    January 6, 2011 2:13 AM

    Just google ‘the locals’, Shi.

    I agree fireworks makes no sense, but phosgene gas might.
    I’m sending you ( by express pigeon) one of those Jeeves concoctions … you know the one…with tabasco and a raw egg.

  36. mishari permalink*
    January 6, 2011 2:35 AM

    Phosgene gas? Jesus…if I remember correctly, that’s the stuff they used in WW l. Horrible stuff…or as Wilfred Owen put it:

    GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And floundering like a man in fire or lime…
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

  37. January 6, 2011 9:13 AM

    There’s probably a driving instructor in Acton who can get you some phosgene gas isn’t there?

  38. Shiloh permalink
    January 6, 2011 9:50 AM


    When I was a kid, our next door neighbour was an old chap who’d been gassed in WWI.

    Fast forward a few years, and I was doing the NBC stuff “for real” – stupid Noddy suit drill. Always hated those MkIV suits. I don’t suffer from claustrophobia at all, but the thought of snuffling away in an S10 respirator in the dark, with zero peripheral vision, still gives me the shivers.

    And thanks for the tip re. the locals – I’ll have my man release the hounds.

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