Do you have an app for melancholy?
I asked app-maker,
or a rap, the beat-breaker ?

I want to get back what I lost
being contemporary.

Do you know that turning on the ring-road,
I asked the bus, the taxi, driver
that looks most familiar
to a life-waster
when the evening light turns slow?

You don’t need an app for any of that,
they all replied.
You’re a natch.

Avez-vous une application
pour la mélancolie?
J’ai demandé au fabricant
ou un rap,
le beat-breaker ?

Je veux récupérer
ce que j’ai perdu
étant contemporain.

Savez-vous qu’en tournant
sur la rocade,
J’ai demandé au bus, au taxi,
au chauffeur
qui semble le plus familier
à un gaspilleur de vie
quand la lumière du soir
tourne lentement?

Vous n’avez pas besoin
d’une application pour tout cela,
ils ont tous répondu.
Vous êtes un naturel


Hai un’app per la malinconia?
Ho chiesto al creatore di app,
o un rap, il beat-breaker?

Voglio recuperare ciò che ho perso
essere contemporanei.

Lo sai che girando sulla tangenziale,
Ho chiesto all’autobus, al taxi, all’autista
sembra molto familiare
a uno spreco di vita
quando la luce della sera diventa lenta?

Non hai bisogno di un’app per niente di tutto ciò,
hanno risposto tutti.
Sei un naturale.

Heb je een app voor melancholie?
Ik vroeg app-maker,
of een rap, de beat-breaker?

Ik wil terugkrijgen wat ik verloren heb
eigentijds zijn.

Weet je dat afslaan op de ringweg,
Ik vroeg de bus, de taxi, chauffeur
dat ziet er het meest bekend uit
tot een levensverspiller
wanneer het avondlicht langzaam wordt?

Daar heb je geen app voor nodig,
antwoordden ze allemaal.
Je bent een natuurtalent.

This will always be Christine McVie for me.

Chicken Shack, with Christine Perfect as she was then.
I Would Rather Go Blind

Rudolf Nureyev’s spectacular tomb monument — get back, lauretta!

It is well worth visiting Lauretta’s blog site. A wealth of lovely material there.

Honouring a past master of sitar.

Ducks, Two Years in the Oil Sands, by Kate Beaton. Published by Jonathan Cape/Penguin Random House, 2022.
ISBN 978 1 787 33013 9

This is a graphic novel, that stands up there with the best of them in this field, and outside.
It is an immersive, hugely impressive exploration, of the experience of a place, a time, and a shifting collection of people.

The book is an impressive 430 pages of content, plus drawn area maps, and an Afterword. The content consists of… I was going to write black and white, drawn pictures, but the grading is very finely done. She uses shading well. Unlike her pervious books, with this one she has given a fuller graphic to capture place, conditions, and more importantly, responses.
This book differs from her earlier work of short and slightly longer sequences, in that the whole book follows through, and is more text heavy than previously. She has honed her style and presentation, and highlights and downplays superbly.

It opens with an important moral dilemma.
Graduation from college gives a widely-recognised, and now widely-expected, qualification.

It also gives a huge student loan debt.

Kate realised straight away that any attempt to start up in work will be stymied from the outset by having to repay the loan. If it ever gets fully paid.
And East coast Canada’s work outlets did not promise much hope, there.
There was, and had been for many generations of Canadians, the promise of making money.
The Alberta Oil Sands,.
And this is nearly a whole continent away from her home ground.

Two years working in the Oil Sands, could well pay off the loan.
Would you do it?
The Oil Sands?
To go do everything you found most repulsive?

Of course, it is not as the media presents it.
For one, you don’t just walk into well-paid jobs, there. For those you need skills, experience, you have to work the most dangerous, dirty, toxic places.
And it all takes time.

The workforce were mostly displaced men. Men en masse, in horrible conditions, doing ugly work, relentlessly.
Work they despise, and despise themselves for doing, and so everything quickly sours.
My wife now has the house she wants, one man said. Was there surpassed blame, there? A twist or two of embitteredness?
How can a man like that return home to that house, his children, and be normal again?
This is another area she experiences, explores.

The huge strength of this book is how the writer fought to retain a sense of balance, understanding, empathy even, under impossible odds, under conditions that relentlessly degrade, and erode.

The isolated, concentrated, grind of the place, the work, the soured people – I remember all the others here who don’t do this, who act somewhere near normal, I paraphrase – seems to us like a time out time, place out of place.
After a year of increasing degradation she took time out, worked in British Columbia.
The money barely covered expenses; the ‘normal’ world and work also carried its continual subtle personality and gender attacks.
Like a leak-out from the Oil Sands separation ponds, into mainstream society?

She is careful not to draw such crass comparisons.
A journalist contacts her about her article on the Sands. She turns her down because she knows she just wants salacious gossip, sensationalism.
Not the human stories.

This is another strength of the book, how nuanced it all is; there are no judgements, denunciations.

Then afterwards, back in Cape Breton, she encounters someone from the Sands, and the banter. (It’s only banter. Where’s you sense of humour! Yep, only banter, except it’s not.) And she charts the subconscious corrosion of this ‘banter’
Why did you let him talk to you like that? her friend demands.

It doesn’t just end when you leave. There is a legacy.
There is an acquired mind-set; it has to be defused before dismantling.

The legacy – is this book.
And the mental breakdowns of some, cancers of others – the daily dirtball she coughs up at the end of each day; the skin rashes…

Kate Beaton is prize-winning cartoonist. She has published in The New York Times, Time, Washington Post, and others. Her publications are: Hark! A Vagrant!, and Step Aside, Pops!

The ducks?
What was it? 300 of them dead, in an Oil Sands overspill.
Just a detail.

And we were part of it, just by being there….’

I await the awards the book deserves.

Eucharia Nwaichi

Posted: November 4, 2022 in Chat

Our environment.
We all know there is so much to be done.
At times it seems overwhelming.
We must try to fix this, yes, but how?

Media presents us with relentless onslaughts of catastrophes.
It is only rarely it gives us any hope in this.

Here is one such beacon. And it shines from one the worst polluted places.
The oil-ruined lands of the Niger delta.

We stand back appalled at not being able to do anything, but professor Eucharia Nwaichi is in there and making things happen.

The Whys Man, or ? Man, George was a force for good: sculptor, artist, conductor of chaos and cultural and historical phenomenon. Punster and funster, with a serious side.

Was? He died in 2012. He was 90.

He was centred around Glasgow and Clydebank where he grew up and eventually returned. He collaborated with the defunct ship-building industry in 1989, to use its expertise to make a statement – together they created the celebrated Paper Boat.
It was an ordinary folded paper boat, but scaled up and made sea-worthy. Along with assorted groups and interested parties the Boat was ‘launched’ with its own Paper Boat Song and choir. George was MC and choir leader.

Paper Boat Song


The Boat represented the loss of livelihood and cultural and industrial heritage, of national sidelining and political maneuvering.
The Boat had a placement for a period on the Hudson River, New York.


See the YouTube documentary:

Another of his headline grabbing creations was using the locomotive building industry to help build a scaled-up train engine made wholly of straw. The train was suspended from a shipyard crane. At the end of its ‘life’ it was ceremonially burned ‘like a Viking ship burning’.


He counted among his friends Joseph Beuys. As a self-taught artist his focus was perhaps wider than the schooled artist.

His was very much Public Art.

At the heart of each piece was enigma though, mystery, the question of existence, of our legitimacy as a species.
On his web page it says of him: ‘There is never a guarantee within Wyllie’s work, but only a question, notably found in the centre of all things. He carried this out in an almost metaphysical or sometimes pataphysical way.’ The 80-foot Paper Boat carried quotations from Adam Smith’s ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

George Wyllie was wily enough to accept a MBE medal in 2005. He had previously been a Customs and Excise Officer. It was fitting; there was no division for him.
Think of Robbie Burns, also an Excise man.

Forever an entertainer and showman, he put himself forward as candidate for the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party in 2007 local elections. He was 86.

Gone too soon, George; too soon.


He brought great gusto and humour, and scale of achievement to the overshadowed, neglected and declining central belt of Scotland, and its historic connection to the wider world. He lifted lives up and gave back a sense of fun, meaning.

for Dominique de Groen

What can you save from a burning house?
Even a life carries no guarantee.
A cup, phone, the thing that you snatch, or clutch
has no reasoning or family.

Whoever stands 
where their world ends, that boundary,
where smoke or hidden gasses drop them,
has no judge or jury.

What grows in ruins, on bomb sites,
are bones, brambles, bougainvillea;
are what escapes the boundaries.

A garden where the city was
of shrubs, grasses, flowers, 
rich in terrible variety.

Those who come after
picking between bricks and rubble,
fireweed, nettles, antirrhinums,
to sell from planks of broken furniture
marrows and potatoes

have covered over those graves already
selling flowers to the grieving,
a future to the surviving.

Que pouvez-vous sauver d’une maison en feu ?
Même une vie ne comporte aucune garantie.
Une tasse, un téléphone, la chose que vous 
arrachez n’a ni raison ni famille.

Celui qui se tient
où leur monde se termine, cette frontière,
où la fumée ou les gaz cachés les laissent tomber,
n’a ni juge ni jury.

Ce qui pousse dans les ruines, sur les sites de bombes,
sont des os, des ronces, des bougainvilliers
sont ce qui échappe aux frontières.

Un jardin où la ville était
d’arbustes, de graminées, de fleurs,
riche en variété terrible.

Ceux qui viennent après
cueillir entre les briques et les gravats,
épilobes, orties, antirrhinums,
vendre des planches de meubles cassés

courges et pommes de terre
ont déjà couvert ces tombes
vendre des fleurs aux personnes en deuil,
un avenir aux survivants.

Cosa puoi salvare da una casa in fiamme?
Anche una vita non ha garanzie.
Una tazza, un telefono, la cosa che tu
 non ha né ragione né famiglia.

Quello che sta in piedi
dove finisce il loro mondo, questo confine,
dove il fumo o i gas nascosti li lasciano cadere,
non ha né giudice né giuria.

Ciò che cresce in rovina, sui siti di bombe,
sono ossa, rovi, bouganville;
sono ciò che trascende i confini.

Un giardino dove c’era la città
arbusti, erbe, fiori,
ricco di terribile varietà.

Quelli che vengono dopo
scegliere tra mattoni e macerie,
salici, ortiche, antirrinum,
vendere tavole di mobili rotte

zucca e patate
hanno già coperto queste tombe
vendere fiori alle persone in lutto,
un futuro per i sopravvissuti.

Was kann man aus einem brennenden Haus retten?
Auch ein Leben trägt keine Garantie.
Eine Tasse, ein Telefon, das Ding, das Sie schnappen oder festhalten
hat keine Vernunft oder Familie.

Wer steht
wo ihre Welt endet, diese Grenze,
wo Rauch oder versteckte Gase sie fallen lassen,
hat keinen Richter oder Geschworenen.

Was in Trümmern wächst, auf Bombenplätzen,
sind Knochen, Brombeeren, Bougainvillea;
sind das, was den Grenzen entgeht.

Ein Garten, wo die Stadt war
von Sträuchern, Gräsern, Blumen,
reich an schrecklicher Vielfalt.

Die, die danach kommen
Pflücken zwischen Ziegeln und Schutt,
Weidenröschen, Brennnesseln, Antirrhinum,
aus Brettern kaputter Möbel zu verkaufen
Kürbisse und Kartoffeln

haben diese Gräber bereits zugedeckt
Blumen an Trauernde verkaufen,
eine Zukunft für die Überlebenden.

Wat kun je redden van een brandend huis?
Zelfs een leven heeft geen garantie.
Een kopje, telefoon, het ding dat je grijpt of vasthoudt
heeft geen redenering of familie.

Wie staat?
waar hun wereld eindigt, die grens,
waar rook of verborgen gassen ze laten vallen,
heeft geen rechter of jury.

Wat groeit in puin, op bomlocaties,
zijn botten, bramen, bougainvillea;
zijn wat aan de grenzen ontsnapt.

Een tuin waar de stad was
van struiken, grassen, bloemen,
rijk aan verschrikkelijke variëteit.

Degenen die daarna komen
plukken tussen bakstenen en puin,
wilgenroosje, brandnetels, antirrhinums,
verkopen van planken van kapotte meubels
merg en aardappelen

hebben die graven al bedekt
bloemen verkopen aan de rouwenden,
een toekomst voor de overlevenden.

It was necessary for us to believe
a man bent spoons by stroking, caressing
their slender necks until they swooned.

They were practical times, ordered,
so not even a smidgen of use was best.
Sex was all that remained of religion.

Changeable times hammered out reasons,
salt facts, iron-bound arguments, 
to protect against more outrageous acts.

Theory ran on, outside our closed system
beyond the solar pull of money, markets.
We await its messages from the stars.

This morning has gone on forever;
we’re not ready yet, or had lunch.
There’s so much to do before bed.

Avant se coucher

Il nous fallait croire
un homme a plié des cuillères en caressant, en caressant
leurs cous fins jusqu’à ce qu’ils se pamer.

C’étaient des temps pratiques, ordonnés,
donc même pas un peu d’utilisation était le mieux.
Le sexe était tout ce qui restait de la religion.

Les temps changeants martelaient les raisons,
faits salés, arguments de fer,
pour se protéger contre des actes plus scandaleux.

La théorie a fonctionné, en dehors de notre système fermé
au-delà de l’attraction solaire de l’argent, les marchés.
Nous attendons ses messages des étoiles.

Ce matin a duré une éternité;
nous ne sommes pas encore prêts ou nous avons déjeuné.
Il y a tant à faire avant de se coucher.

prima a andare di a letto

Abbiamo ritenuto necessario crederci
un uomo piegava i cucchiai accarezzando, accarezzando
i loro colli sottili fino a svenuto.

Erano tempi pratici, ordinati,
quindi nemmeno un briciolo di utilizzo era il migliore.
Il sesso era tutto ciò che restava della religione.

I tempi mutevoli forgiarono ragioni,
fatti salini, argomentazioni ferree,
per proteggersi da atti più oltraggiosi.

La teoria è andata avanti, al di fuori del nostro sistema chiuso
oltre l’attrazione solare del denaro, i mercati.
Attendiamo i suoi messaggi dalle stelle.

Questa mattina di lunga durata ;
non siamo ancora pronti o abbiamo pranzato.
C’è così tanto da fare prima di andare a letto.

Vor dem Schlafengehen

Wir fanden es notwendig zu glauben
ein mann verbogen löffel durch streicheln, liebkosen
ihre schlanken Hälse, bis sie Ohnmacht.

Es waren praktische Zeiten, bestellt,
also war nicht einmal ein Hauch von Gebrauch am besten.
Sex war alles, was von der Religion übrig blieb.

Wechselhafte Zeiten hämmerten Gründe heraus,
Salzfakten, eiserne Argumente,
um sich vor noch schlimmeren Taten zu schützen.

Die Theorie lief weiter, außerhalb unseres geschlossenen Systems
Jenseits der Sonnenanziehungskraft des Geldes, der Märkte.
Wir erwarten seine Botschaften von den Sternen.

Dieser Morgen hat ewig gedauert;
Wir sind noch nicht fertig oder haben zu Mittag gegessen.
Vor dem Schlafengehen gibt es so viel zu tun.

We vonden het nodig om te geloven
een man boog lepels door te strelen, te strelen
hun slanke nekken tot ze in zwijm vielen.

Het waren praktische tijden, geordend,
dus niet eens een smidgen van gebruik was het beste.
Seks was het enige dat overbleef van religie.

Veranderlijke tijden hamerden op redenen,
zoutfeiten, ijzersterke argumenten,
te beschermen tegen meer buitensporige daden.

Theorie liep door, buiten ons gesloten systeem
voorbij de zonne-aantrekkingskracht van geld, markten.
We wachten op de berichten van de sterren.

Deze ochtend is voor altijd voorbijgegaan;
we zijn nog niet klaar, of hebben geluncht.
Er is zoveel te doen voor het slapengaan.