Friday, 24 January 2020

The past uncovered

And only because the garage flooded.
Mark went in there yesterday to get his bike out and came back hurriedly, face pale: 'catastrophe!' It was as unfortunately a lot of his music stuff was in there and is now fairly saturated. The other things that got part-submerged were folders of artwork - nothing valuable monetarily just artworks from ours and child's respective pasts.
Staring at my own sodden photographs, drawings and paintings I was seized with the urge to bin it all, so I did, holding back on a few things for . . . what? Nostalgia? we never look any of the folders' contents. Maybe it's just a certain security in knowing our pasts are there should we ever need physical reminders.
Mark's still going through his stuff and the purge-frenzy is not happening; most of it is laid out in front of the fire slowly crinkling into parchments from the 70s and 80s. Ezra's (son) art from age of four or so are more difficult to bin even though most of the pictures have leached into strange unintentional renditions of the aurora borealis. I've kept quite a lot especially the ones with surreal titles such as:
'very special piano and some chocolate,' a landscape with a tiny lawnmower, ' and 'a bus stop and people waiting at a bus stop and an acorn cup.'
Other casualties of the flood were all my documentation of the Wirksworth festival back in the early 90s; something I was very involved in for several years. Again, do I need all this anyway? Ezra won't want it when we've shuffled off this beleaguered planet. I've dried a few mementos and the rest of it's gone to the dump, the images of the actual event still fresh in my mind.
Possibly the best thing to do is document some of it, put it on a blog and make it into a book - which I did do with the last ten year's worth of life-recording. Yes, think I'll do that.
So, a few pictures.

Some of the rescued stuff before investigation

Drying. From the left: one of Mark's from Secondary school, one of my Beasti paintings  (Alfi Beastie's, Don't Eat That' book) something me and Ezra did when he was titchy, and another Ezra painting.


                          A pencil drawing I did on art foundation. No idea who it was.

A later Ezra work - about fourteen?

A cartoon of our Geography teacher for secondary school rag. I can't recall his name now.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Four legs good, three legs better

This bloggist is very, very sad to announce the death of our tiny, runty dog, Satie, who has featured frequently on this blog.


Rarely can there be such a tiny being with such an enormous character. Rescued from a life of ridicule, he entered and then guarded the Hot-House compound with bristling fearlessness. Ridicule?
Somewhat, yes.
Satie was purchased at half-price from the only Italian greyhound breeder in this region; half-price as he had a pointy chest, was extra small and would therefore never be shown. Nicknamed Bébé, his pedigree name had been 'Donatello des Tendre Calins' - Donatello of the soft cuddles . . . we were having none of it and he was re-named Satie after the composer who, apparently only wore grey velvet suits, this minute dog, resembling at the time, a scrap of grey velvet.
I think he imagined himself to be the size of a doberman and was fearless, barking furiously at any dog that threatened the pack (at that time, us, and a rescue Italian greyhound from SPA called Una)
He fulfilled utterly his breed's mission - to snuggle with the owners (apparently, they were bred to warm the beds of the Italian courtiers) on the sofa under many blankets without seeming to need oxygen.
He was loyal, loving, manic as if constantly on a small dose of speed; at times infuriating with his staccato bark, demanding to be let out-in-out-in-out-in, etc, and always there to be mused over - why are his ears so big? and his teeth? how can his legs be so skinny?
Eluding to legs, a major event in his life was losing one during a play-fight with our bruiser cat Bronzino about seven years ago. After several operations to try and mend the limb it was decided that it would have to go, and it did, leaving after a short time, a fur covered stump which would still move with as much manic-ness as the rest of him.
He coped admirably, accepting, as most dogs do, the loss within a short time and he continued to maintain his angry stance, seeing off other hounds whatever their size.


He could walk/hop for hours; even just a few weeks ago he had managed a hike of four hours with us up to the top of the small mountain viewable from our garden. Except he would no longer be able to see the mountain; the cataracts were getting worse. He'd also had most of his teeth out, leaving him with a demented grin.
Dog of a catalogue of operations . . . broken tail, the leg, the teeth removal, near death through poison-eating, near-death through eating a bee . . . but dog of such determination and strength despite it all.
Losing a pet is always tragic, especially one of such tremendous character. But I somehow feel he will always be with us, hopping along on a walk with his funny tri-cornered gait, wrapped in his favourite orange blanket or sitting in the sun on the doormat with that grin and half-closed smily eyes.

R.I.P,  Satie. Aka: Runty, Tripod (thanks, Alvin) Tyne, Sat-Nav. 17/1/2020


The writer's road


Mine has been fairly long, vertiginous and with various pot-holes but I've definitely got to a happy destination with Tartarus Press.
Londonia, is now live on their site - link below. I feel proud to be one of their authors and to have my story enclosed in one of their elegant cream book bindings.
The novel can be pre-ordered on their site, and we will be holding a launch in March. Details to follow.

This incredible painting by Karl Fitzgerald has been chosen for the cover.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Trump is an environmentalist

Madness. I know. But after looking at what he has achieved in the last few days, and everything else he has contributed to our only home's future (no, we are not going to go and colonise another planet - or at least 99.9% of us are not) I wonder if perhaps his real agenda is to completely break everything down. Utterly. For the planet to heal without humans digging away at it, adding useless bits to it, turning the oceans' waters into plastic particles. Maybe, he realises it's the only way. Smash it all down. Start again.
Perhaps leave a few golf courses though, just for nostalgia and the occasional putt - him shuffling around the green in his recycled flax all-in-one regulation garment clutching a hand-carved peasant niblick to then climb back onto the donkey-powered golf caddy.
No. Not really . . .  It's evident he, and the others of his ilk, don't give a shit. More than that they only give a fleeting, money-god shit; one that will last until their miserable sad lives fade away and their new existence in a Hieronymus Bosch vision of Hell begins to play out.
I need a cup of tea. And I have to fill in the application forms for French nationality. Thanks Cameron, Johnson, etc.
But on a quieter note . . . what to do when rankled by all this madness. Walk, look at the real stuff, create a small wilderness if you are able to, or even a mass of pots on a balcony for the bees and birds. My NY resolution. To do more of this. When we move, I want to buy a house with an oversized piece of land and let it do its thing; help it do its thing without creating too much unwanted intervention.
I admire writer Paul Kingsnorth for many reasons; link below to an interesting Youtube on his theories about re-wilding amongst many things.
Happy New Year, btw.
One of my strongest memories from that usually busy, food and drink filled day of the turning year will be stopping in a motorway services to stretch our legs. We had watched a robin flit about the little patch of woodland that had been left to re-wild itself between the whirr and grind of traffic and mass consumption within the ugly services building housing a million things that none of us need.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

In the light of

the extraordinary news that many, many people in the UK think that Boris Johnson and his bunch of . . . friends, are a good thing to reinstate after the last ten years or so of excellent governing, an extract from a terrifying (very occasionally, ludicrously hilarious) film (the Brig) by Jonas Mekas which won the Venice Film Festival prize in 1964.

Hieronymus Bosch's 'Vision of Hell' in moving black and white. If he'd had the equipment in 1504.

No great link other than in a dream I experienced last night Dominic Cummings features appeared superimposed onto one of the guard's faces.


Sunday, 1 December 2019

The merging of shopping festivals

My yearly festive twaddle rant.

In this fracturing world where nearly everyone must surely be aware that things are not heading in a good direction - especially environmentally - one might think that the amount of consumerism could be on the wain . . . manufacturers taking a bit of responsibility, or more likely, jumping on the 'ecologic' band-wagon/bus/trolly, bike, whatever. But, no. Certainly no evidence of this in our local cathedral of shopping.
I went in to get A4 paper, a bag of prunes and a bit of cheese but must have spent five minutes just gawping at this years Christmas displays of chocolate. It was definitely worse than last year. Ferrro Rocher marked their territory with a sort of pathetic golden cardboard arch under which you have to pass to get into the main actual food area of the shop. Other brands - mostly Lindt, it seemed, had been arranged in a huge block - a red and gold battleship ploughing its way between pasta and frozen foods.
People were loading their trolleys with a polite frenzy. Why? It wasn't even December. Then I noticed the Black Friday/weekend signs. All festive chocolate 30% off in celebration of this . . . event. We might as well just have Black Century and be done with it. The weekend has already spread to Black Week.


I did look up the origins of all this madness.

According to a site called History Stories, the first recorded use of the term 'Black Friday' was applied after a major financial crash on September 24, 1869: specifically, the crash of the U.S gold market Two Wall St financiers worked together to buy up as much of the nation's gold, thus hoping to drive the price sky high and make astronomical profits. The outcome was discovery of the conspiracy, stock market free fall and massive country-wide bankruptcy.

Apparently ten people have died in crushes over cut-price goods. The first in a Wallmart. A shop worker was trampled to death while opening the doors to a flood of eager people, another during a shooting incidents over goods in Toys R US . . .

I don't actually recall Black Friday being a thing until a few years back. Mad folk waiting in sleeping bags outside Harrods in January for various sale unmissables, yes, but crazed shopping on a Friday in November?

Anyway, I did get my prunes, paper - no cheese as there was a queue like the M25 around the counter - but I did fall slightly under the festive shopping spell, or perhaps it was a pine-needle/roast dinner/ho-ho-ho spray drifting down from the sprinkler system forcing us into goodwill to all food manufacturers.
My purchase, a very small box of 30% off After Eight mints. Just for nostalgia of the 70s reasons.



Monday, 25 November 2019

Cake number . . . 2,392

I like these sort of calculations: how many months might I have spent standing in postoffice/tax offices/supermarket queues/waiting for a tyre to be changed; how many months in bed - or years, rather; how much time drinking tea? how many weeks listening to The Four Seasons while waiting to be connected to insurance companies/banks/electricity providers, etc.
Then there are the more interesting calculations: how many times must I have walked down our road into town and back? in thirteen years - say four times a week, on average - 52x4 =208, thirteen years  =2,704, probably round it up to 3,000. Considering the previous house-owners reckoned they had done the meander around fifteen times in eighteen years (they were very fond of their BMW) - I think we're doing pretty well, walking wise.
And onto Mark's cakes, at least since I've known him - twenty-three years.
Probably on average (very vague calculation following) he makes a cake twice a week.
104 cakes a year x twenty-three years = 2,392 . . . cakes. Not to mention all the bread, Parkin, flapjacks, etc.

This was one of his best, but then I often say that - they are nearly always amazing.

The only two failures I can recall: a beetroot cake and a Neanderthal version of a Battenburg.