Posts Tagged ‘ramblings’


Summer sun has all the new
plastic black guttering cracking
and creaking, expanding;
the sound along the terraces
unique, rousing.

As the heat fades they’ll retreat again,
regain their old state. All their
hidden musics dictate the noise
of neighbour’s grass cutters, something-elsers.

I thought of the endless dripping from
the corner gutter that turned to pouring
when the join went, and me trying
all sorts to stop it cheaply. How it
cost us dearly.

And I thought of us getting all
the soffits changed, fearing old asbestos;
but there was none. That also cost us.
To relish peace of mind,
is to pay its pound.

I thought of that lonely pigeon
three days up there alone, mate dead,
the feathers scattering in the after-draft.
Its grieving there, unfed; silent
in the dark,
in the head.

Dracula TV Series

Posted: January 11, 2020 in Chat
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The new 3 episode TV series has recently finished.
So now you start to wonder, remember and laugh, and remember and look puzzled, and all the other responses it calls from you.

Was it as good as you hoped?
I’m undead; I’m not unreasonable.‘ was a good start: sharp, snappy, and yet… and yet, in that part of the action he was, yes, very unreasonable, as he sat back allowing his wolves to slaughter all of the nuns. Not for his ‘hunger’, note, but for the wolves.

‘The Dracula effect’ gets its impact, its punch, from transgression. That is its dynamic: something, an evil from long, long ago, bowling into the modern, sophisticated world, and wreaking havoc.
There were moments in this series: released from his Hannibal Lector/Skyfall cell, by his lawyer, and all London open to him…. But no, he did not go on the rampage.
It was as though the writers were ticking boxes on the required-modern-attitudes scale, as well as layering with cultural references. There was even a Dark Lord in there i.e. Voldemort.

Each work sets out the parameters it is constructed, and is to work, within. The older versions of the tale have very clearly demarcated moral and ethical borders and boundaries. Transgression was guaranteed.
In this new series the parameters were open, its was a broad field of equality and diversity. Where were the borders? Where could the energy come from?
Even his cold-bloodedness: the baby to feed on, the killing of the nuns, the apparently conscienceless killing of ship companions, blatant betrayals, and gratuitous self-serving, are all too well known from our recent wars and their attendant war-crimes, recent political regimes, experiences of survivors still very much alive. And in the case of refugee camps, still being perpetrated as we speak/write
It says much in Claes Bang’s favour that he could smoulder and threaten with more than enough contained violence to carry off the larger-than-life character he was portraying.
And yet also a worthiness kept creeping in. And clunkiness: instantly picking up on modern technologies, as well as displaying an expertise? I still have trouble working Skype, but he did it first try – from someone else’s blood-memories, was it? Everyone knows the hand book approach, but the fiddly bits around the functions are something else.
And constant, dependable, broadband?

Which brings us to the most important question: what is the present-day sensibility? What, of what we are doing, will be found to be worthwhile in years to come?
What will survive of us – and not in some comedy channel’s You Will Not Believe This! type formula.

Because these are the questions the series deals with, ultimately.
Here was someone from 15thCentury Central Europe: what did he find, here? And what else did he bring through time with him?
Something that we could recognise, use, applaud?

His vampire parameters: sunlight, silver, crosses… all acquired dependencies? Believing his own, created, myths? Very contemporary.


Posted: January 3, 2020 in Chat
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Each day’s like a chain that hangs from its cloud.
Tuesday was clumsy, loose, not reaching ground;
today is fine-spun, hall-marked, many linked –
each link frames a dimension of life.

Broken chains are dangerous, lash out
whenever air stirs, clouds mass, trees bend,
and no storm breaks. How many died, do you think,
their lost days clashing overhead?

These chains connect us, we would not be
without them. They themselves could be
the finest spun, glinting, and delicate.

But they are not.

And so world leaders clap as England skips off into political oblivion behind Bojo the Clown.
Like the Pied Piper, maybe, but without his skill or art.

What happened at the UK election?
Did Brexit seal everyone’s fate, both Remain and Leave  supporters?
Did Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the only viable opposition, consign everyone to disaster?
(The Green Party conspicuous by their absence.)

Tell me, the much vaunted soundbite of being sick and tired of the Brexit rigmarole, was that the reason so many voted against their long held beliefs?

And so, Jeremy Corbyn et al wander back into the 1970s, which he never really left – his Manifesto was pure 1970s – with period PLO affiliations having morphed into unambiguous anti-Semitism. And to leave the vulnerable of society, and huge new abundance of impoverished, to further foodbanks, malnutrition, to a NHS that’s on the point of having to charge for admission to A and E, for general medical care (these last divulged  to us by a desperate NHS worker). And how many more Austerity-related deaths?
Thanks for that.

In the middle of our Austerity, when everyone was jumpy and panicky, our then PM David Cameron pulled out a bill from the European Union saying the UK owed £billions. ‘Look at this!, he said
He did not mention it was he who had withheld the yearly payments, so that the debt built up… and ‘Look at this!’
The result was the Brexit mess.

         Timing is all, of course; and politics is theatre. Here was proof of that.

There is a cartoon in the UK satirical magazine Private Eye, showing Boris Johnson with a mop – the caption: Only we can clean up the mess that we have made.
Which captures it all rather nicely.
Many populist politicians create a chaos to upset everyone, and then to solve, saying, See how good I am!
Needlessly upsetting everyone; just for their own poll ratings.

I wrote of the UK, but isn’t it really just England? And hasn’t it been just England for quite some time now?
I first became disgusted with the main political parties at the last Scottish Independence referendum – their attitude to Scotland, and patronising manner, was so open at last. And ever since, virtually everything that has come out of Scotland has been openly ignored.
Take this example: Glasgow has had a very successful programme for dealing with knife crime. Why not adopt it in England?
No, said Javid.
Consign everyone to further deaths and injury, out of sheer arrogance.

The Irish border – and deeper behind that let’s look, for example there, at the criminal proceedings for prosecution for the Bloody Sunday massacre: 13 unarmed killed, by British troops. And the English court Now will allow only 1 prosecution. How generous, how understanding – this crumb of regard from the great English table.

And, so, Wales – the heartland holds firm but the traditionally Englished areas of the south west, the borders (Monmouth, Radnor etc), fall-in with the big and more powerful English. Anglesey, though,  so dependent on finance from England….

Get Brexit Done – and let us get back to how we were.
Ah, no, sorry; none of that from now on.

Will vacuity be the new norm: heads-in-the-sand, fingers in ears, eyes tight shut?
‘What brave new world….’

Of course it suits President Trump mightily to have the UK split from Europe: weak, dependent, and no longer a player on the world markets.

Dead Bee

Posted: October 20, 2019 in Chat
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Dead bee. Another nail.

What did you do? What
did you do?
from the future.

You’ll know –
you are a part of us,
do what we do.

We’d never do that!

Get off your high horse. If not
this, then something else.
Blind spots. Greed and grab.

Speak to us.

What happened here, brother?
– Don’t try to answer, nothing
can heal this.
We have not done what you did

It was already part done.

We were stretching a hand up;
no one reached down.
We are all there is, and busy
with short-term, living now,
and not seeing how huge now is,
and how always.
You’d recognise this.

What is a horse?
they said.

Night Thoughts

Posted: June 16, 2019 in Chat
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To be able to say, ‘Here was where
I had made a wrong decision.
And at this point, see, I was right’

to admit, ‘Here I had not thought through
to the consequences of everything
that I was going to do.
It was only half done – but then,
everything I’ve done’s been half done.’

And here: ‘Something said five years ago
toppled my equilibrium, much later
when poise was essential.’

And admit at times I have maybe become
the kind of person I most hate.


There is a… would you call it a jingle?… my wife was taught at her Grammar School. It was part of the How to improve your class-credentials, type of tuition. It goes:

Father’s car is a jaguar
and pa drives rather fast;
castles and farms, and draughty barns
we go charging past.

Got it so far? It’s all in the accentuation as yet: that ‘a’ is looong, it is ar, and not as here in the north, a short and abrupt a. And Jaguar, is given full pronunciation, where otherwise it would be more like Jagua. This lengthens the pronunciation, evens out the demotic, and levels emotive expression. All words are given the same value by this system, nothing as course as the personal can creep in.
And, look at the castles, that charging. Where are we? What part of the country – England – is this this? It is one connected intimately with conquest, and landed gentry (farms as part of their ‘landed estate’?). We instantly think of the south-east, and of the ‘home counties.’ The following commentator thought the same:
One comment on this link suggested they consider the area of Cranleigh, as a place still retaining something of the England that the jingle conjures.

Now comes the emphasis on expectation and prospects:

Arthur’s car is far less smart
and does not go half as fast –
but I’d rather ride in Arthur’s car
than in pa’s fast car.

Not one’s own car, mind, but ‘looked after,’ driven, escorted, and thereby treated as a prospective house wife, not career girl. All this is subtly implicated in learning the jingle. And yes, it did have to be learned, and recited regularly.

But I cannot help thinking of some of John Betjeman’s playful, wry, poems: A Subaltern’s Love Song/Miss J Hunter Dunn, say (- ‘furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun’. Why the abbreviations? A nineteenth century poetic metre redundancy, played up to tweak the reader’s resources)
But Betjeman’s ladies are all self-sufficient, strong, and resourceful.
Betjeman, himself, carefully hid his ‘trade’ background among Oxford ‘friends.’ That is, those from upper class backgrounds.

Would this, then, be the same ‘grammar school accent’ that Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves joked about, talking of Wilfred Owen? Public school chums laughing at the parvenus. Wilfred Owens poems of that time have certainly outlasted Graves’. Sassoon…?
Have they lasted because they have the direct speech of people, and not the ‘clubby,’ insider talk, of the public shoolers?

What of our white-gloved, and parasol’d, young leddy in pa’s car? ‘Leddy’? This is the further reach of this teaching: Received Pronunciation. Received Pronunciation was the lingua franca of the new radio and TV media. At that time regional accent retained strength, and, some would say, impenetrability. We witnessed it fairly recently when Geordie, Cheryl Tweedie’s, American debut was met with incomprehension.
But RP got its information through. Unfortunately some adopted it as ‘a tongue’ in itself, the language of the upwardly mobile.

– Remember Frasier, on TV? Frasier’s dad, playing an American ex-cop, was from Manchester originally. And the actress playing Daphne Moon, from southern England, was playing a Mancunian, – badly.

Yet accent can so lift a piece of writing. The many accents in Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos – we only hear the thick (and adenoidal? Or is that more New Jersey?) Noo Yoik tones towards the end of the book. Southern writers traded on the baroque language of their States (and how I miss Justified: Timothy Olyphant at his best?).

When was the period of America’s accents? The strong Texan, the Appalachian, the New York, and Detroit?
I was recently reading A Pioneer Woman’s Memoir, of Arabella Clemens, based on the diaries of a young woman taking the pioneer trail from North Carolina, to Oregon, in the 18860s.
She does not mention State accents – no proof in itself, but nor does she mention problems in understanding people’s speech in the States she passed through between North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho.

This Wiki article suggests many American accents are ‘recent’ – that phrase needs definition, though.


We do have to distinguish between accent and slang. Slang can never be right in work’s professional situations, can it? I’ve heard young professionals using the ‘f’ for ‘th’  deviation: ‘free’ for ‘three’ etc. Just baby talk, to me. And the glottal stop: bo’le for bottle…. Conversely, there’s the over-emphasis eg mod-del for model etc. And then there’s the execrable ‘ta’oo,’ for ‘tattoo’.


I do wonder, in the jingle, about pa, showing off to his daughter by charging down country lanes in his Jaguar.
Parading his virility – to his daughter? Setting up for her impossible expectations?
Yep, we get the message, some arrogant, wealthy, ego maniac, caring nothing for anyone but himself and his own.
Ownership, and thereby deference.

You could just slap him, couldn’t you.

But then, that would be bad manners.

Reposted from 2013

One of the first Philip K Dick novels I read was Lies Inc, initially published in 1966 as The Unteleported Man. I was immediately hooked.

The one image of the many I want to bring to mind, is that of the means the original inhabitants of Whale’s Mouth, NewColonizedLand, used to scuttle earth’s colonisers.

For those who do not know the story, it is set far into the future. Lies Inc is an Earth-based organization intent on creating a quiescent population. They do this by continually bombarding people’s minds telepathically with a feedback of personal memory mixed with inconsequential thought. The person cannot distinguish an original thought, or follow a through-line. They can conduct relatively easy tasks but are unable to question authority to any disruptive level.

On Whale’s Mouth, the original inhabitants of the planet, on being taken over by earth people found could not challenge the colonisers technologically, so they picked up on Lies Inc’s techniques. They formed themselves into books; each book comprised the life story of whoever its reader was, and the story was full of instantly recreated memories of the reader; most importantly, the story took the reader up to their present moment. The effect was that the readers became so enthralled in their own life stories, a ‘take’ on their own life story, and so they became caught in a solipsistic loop, incapable of further action.

For those who are not afraid of spoilers, it’s like this:
Whale’s Mouth is an advertised planetary haven, bucolic and peaceful, with planet-sized room for emigrants. The only problem is the teleporter has no return function.

What emigrants discover is a mechanised, industrial world, that is building up an army to take on earth and subdue it to its own totalitarian rule. Via a return-functioning teleporter: oh yes, is does work both ways, but it’s best no one knows – they aim to take the Earth.
To subdue new emigrants they drug them with psychotropic drugs in transport, and by the time they come down it’s too late. Some don’t come down, however. This is their story, as with all PKD stories. This last group try to discover of all their psychotic visions of their present condition, which is the true one. They had, I think, 9 to choose between: which one repeated?

The solipsistic image has so many repercussive parallels in our culture. Do we see here the attraction of the soap opera, of the highselling magazines? The hook is in the ability to describe the life, making coherence out of the jumble of impressions, half-resolved tensions, aspirations based on rickety superstructures, the half-understood, and the ignored detail. But is it the ‘real’, the ‘true’ or even the ‘valid’ story?

This also is dialogue, with the protagonist of the book, and the antagonist of the memory. The book ie autobiography, as a memory-place. Memory-places are essential to us: our house, apartment, car even is a memory place. We decorate and ornament all with our own or combined personal effects. We live within mirrors, we feel comfortable there. It is not our image pleases so much as what we effect: that we can trace our place in time and space with these designs and objects.

Another way of seeing this is in our use of chiasmus, a device of two parts that relate to each other intimately. They relate either antithetically or sequentially: they parallel each other either inversely or directly. But they have a crossing point, a connection. You can find chiasmus in everything we make. Take music: listen to the patterning of counterpoint; but importantly the structure of a fugue by Bach; a symphony, even. Listen to the arch structures of Bruckner’s later works. There is the setting up of structures of phrases and musical relationships, and there is the restatement of key phrases and structural elements, changed perhaps, but only within the parameters set up in the first part. It is everywhere in architecture.

And truth, and its lie – to work the lie has either to counter point by point the truth, or bear no relation whatsoever, be so outlandish… but even there, it depends for its existence on the other’s condition. The relationship is always tacit, implicit; like atomic entanglement, they co-depend on each other.

Our reasoning uses the same structures: think of dialectics. It is a form of two parts, intimately related: it sets up a tension, an interrogation, as in music, and holds it in harmonic relation. Think of the basis of argument, discussion.

Think of Shakespeare (if you must!). His Sonnets are full of struggle and tension. The root cause of this tension is the structure: he posits an argument, a statement of being, then complicates it with antithesis. The form, the Sonnet, is his resolution, a form that exists outside the personal world of the self; it is a statement of the tension, but not the thing itself: an artifact, that has its separate existence. This theme is another major theme through the Sonnets.

In his early plays we see him use chiasmus prodigiously; in Love’s Labours Lost it is a great piece of language-furniture. The form then goes through variation and development in the Sonnets, to emerge in the later plays as a major structural element. Look at MacBeth: both Lady M and M set out from antithetical positions, then diverge as events draw them, to end up in opposite camps. The language of Macbeth himself is full of chiasmi that express his feeling of entrapment within a structure of act and retribution: ‘Foul is fair, and fair is foul’. Contra-diction, frustrated movement, entrapment. Macbeth is ensnared by his reason, and what options it gives him; he has no way out.

From chiasmus to ring: is this from dialectic’s thesis and antithesis, to synthesis? Is the ring-structure that of the syllogism? It is still a trap, a gilded cage. If we look at the pioneering work in neuro-phenomenolgy of Professor Dan Lloyd we see similar forms: the sensory input, and the brain’s mapping, create a back and forth response (as he puts it a ‘recursive recession’) that maps our body in space: the mind’s space. It is the superstructure of consciousness. We are forever trapped in our images that are and are not ourselves.

I have become very wary of dual-option thought: yes-no; this or that; up or down, Conservative-Labour; Republican-Democrat. Think of the Matrix: this reality, or that one – that’s all, folks!

I want a way of thought that works on multiple bases and results in multiple possibilities. I want a way of thought more in tune with a multiverse, that allows more options.

There is a greater harmonic out there to tune to.

Time to move on, folks.

So, where do you stand now with Philip K Dick?
I had a go at re-reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/Blade Runner, recently. I couldn’t read it; I could not believe how bad it was: clunky, nearly every ‘ist’ in the Equality book… and Deckard just escaped one close shave, to jump right into another without  a single ‘Hang on, this guy….’.

Yep, time to move on, folks.


The time of dandelions is early afternoon
when half the world thinks of siesta,
and half pauses to take breath

and the nettles rest on their push through tarmac
and working fingers into hairline cracks
of concrete: when half the world
thinks How untidy these weeds,
and the other half
A mouthful of food

is the time of dandelions.
Their square-cut, overlapping petals
spreading from a centre
with a splayed-hands gesture,
become sun-bright,
a light amongst lights, that underlying leaves
brighten to yellow.

Early afternoon, and the dust a little restless
emphasising how still it is;
the vibrating of light’s wavelengths,
the faint tingling of nerves, raises them
to a gold colour –
when half the world
turns over to begin a new dream, and half
unwraps its gift, the night’s work,
exploring the finer points
of the underlying argument:

the greenery
that makes the gold glow.







I’ve always liked putting different things together, and seeing what happens.
Years and years ago when I had a passing interest in such things I had a wondering-moment about the Tree Alphabet.
This alphabet was proposed by Robert Graves in his White Goddess book; it is constructed from ogham practice and text references in Irish.
It is an alphabet that uses tree names as the letter names. I never could work out why which tree was used where, their leafing, flowering, growth do not seem to coincide with the specific months Graves gives.

There are 13 lunar months; each is a letter of the alphabet, and a sequence in the tale of the growth to maturity of the year, represented as a god. He is then supplanted at midsummer by the god of the waning year. Until New Year when it starts again..
It goes like this, from late December on through the year:

Beth -birch
Fearn – rowan
Luis – alder
Nion – ash
Saille – willow
Uath- hawthorn
Duir- oak
Tinne- holly

Of course, he then arranged this sequence into what he called a Dolmen Arch:


Saille Uath Duir Tinne Coll
Nion                               Muin
Luis                                 Gort
Fearn                              Ngetal
Beth                               Ruis

So, this arrangement puts Duir, the oak tree as the all-important capstone of the (square) arch. This accords with his midsummer fight between waxing and waning year gods. Ok.

So, I thought, how does the tarot’s major arcana fit in with this?
Let’s see:

Willow             Hawthorn                Oak                       Holly               Hazel
Emperor/Nion                                                                               Temperence/Muin
Ash                                                                                                   Vine                                                   Hierophant/Fearn                                                                         Hanged Man/Gort
Alder                                                                                                Ivy
Magician/Luis                                                                                 Death/Ngetal
Rowan                                                                                              Reed
Fool/Beth                                                                                          The Tower/Ruis
Birch                                                                                                 Elder


A few are missing, you say.
Graves has what he called Cross-Quarter Days, special days in each sector. They rule the following months, until the next cross-quarter day, and so on.
From the Fool’s late Dec/early January Birch month, we have The High Priestess: the young year.
The Lover’s March-April Willow tree month has The Empress: the mature year.
The Hermit’s August Hazel month has Wheel of Fortune: the fall from greatness.
The Tower’s November/Dec Elder tree month, has The Devil, as god of the fallen year, darkness, death. Think of him as a god of the underworld: Pluto, Hades, of all things inimical to life, rather than all-out evil.

With this being an alphabet of consonants, we also have the five vowels These make the lintel, or door step:
The World-The Moon-The Sun-The Star-Judgement.
These, like the extra days, do not have tree names. But with this arrangement the Sun vowel is opposite the Strength/Oak consonant; The Moon is opposite The Lovers/Willow and Chariot/Hawthorn; The Star is opposite Justice/Holly and Hermit/Hazel.
The World covers the gaining year’s upright pillar, and Judgement the falling year upright pillar.
The vowels cannot have to one-to-one matches, because they breathe life into all the consonontal word-clusters.

This all made a kind of sense to me. Most appropriate seemed to be The Emperor with the old Ash god, and most of all Strength with the Oak and Sun connections.
The Rowan tree with the Magician also had a resonance.
On the other side The Hermit with Hazel seemed to fit. Not sure about Death, followed by The Tower, though. What do you think?

You have to know Graves’ construction of the story to fit it in. And there you have it: can you believe the man? Was he back-arguing ie fitting things in afterwards?
I have caught him out on a few things over the years. Enough, anyhow, to make me back off.

You can tinker with things forever, seemingly, and it’ll still get you nowhere.