Wednesday, 28 February 2007

I haven't seen a Song Thrush in ages

I haven't seen a Song Thrush in ages
And then
Up onto
a gnarled
And then I had seen one in ages
Now I couldn't say 'I haven't seen a Song Thrush in ages'
But I hadn't.

Hair On: Mashes (two varieties)

Great Aunt Cally says "Once we were playing the Monster Game and someone drew an apple for the head of one of the monsters. We were playing the Monster Game to fill up the time before teatime. Because someone had drawn an apple-head we tore out the little piece of paper around the picture of the apple with a face and persuaded Mam to boil it with all the fruit and mash it into the apple sauce. I dont know why she let us! Normally she'd have said 'Dont be silly'. Mind you, it did take SOME persuading. No-one could taste the picture and ink but it was exciting, like we were eating something that would write on the inside of our stomachs. That was the most important pork&apple sauce I've ever had, and I'm 87."

Caravans are about one and a half feet above the ground and this means that when they are taken away and mashed it is hard to do an impression of when you were inside and you walked from the fridge along to the sink and back again. There is now a line in mid-air at the level of your kneecaps. But if you do the impression by standing on your kneecaps you double the problem.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007


I’ve got a strong fascination with Coleopterans, the ‘sheaved wings’.

Many of you might well have heard me talking at length about them. I’ve written about them now and again. I’ve owned a few in my time. They are, or course, beetles.

Beetles are a perfect example of nature and evolution. The thoughts and feelings I associate with beetles I could probably have placed on any insect. Beetles are shiny though. They are dark. They are beady.

They are a set of perfect commands encased in an exoskeleton, simple circuits that work to a set of strict stimuli. Light, warmth, moisture, height, relation to each other, relation to food, relation to predator…these are the factors that control our beetle friends. They are an immense army of perfect biological droids, working solidly almost constantly. Beetles have no eyelids, so they can’t sleep. Right now its daylight outside, so the majority of the British coleopterans will be waiting for the night. I can picture them, waiting under their stones or in cracks in rotting wood. Beady eyes staring…not moving for hour after hour. Are they thinking? Nope…just waiting for the next stimuli to command them.

Did you know there are more known species of beetle than there are for any other animal in the animal kingdom? That’s 350,000 described species. That’s 40% of all known insect species. I say described because we haven’t had enough time in our existence to document every species. Current estimations of unknown species of beetle are between 5-8 million. That’s a fair amount of beetles.

The first time a girl made me cry was when I was about six years old, when I was a pupil of St. Margaret’s (St.Maggot’s) Primary School in Durham. It was a sports day. I remember it painfully well. A clear memory. A terrible one. We were sitting on a bench waiting our turn for something…probably running from one place to another (Nazi youth anyone?) and I glanced down at the grass, where to my pleasure I saw a friendly little black beetle. He was shiny and black, and quick. Most likely he was a Common Black Ground beetle, (Pterostichus melanarius).

“Please don’t kill it!” I said to the unpleasant girl next to me who had noticed me looking at him.

“What, like this?” she said, and daintily ground her foot into my new beetle friend.

I did cry, but she just laughed.

Just a few words

I've already made the following known, in an article a year or a hundred and fifteen ago, but thought it bore reiteration.

Not long ago I had a talk with a retired soldier, a butcher, and he was surprised at my assertion that it was a pity to kill, and said the usual things about its being ordained. But afterwards he agreed with me: `Especially when they are quiet, tame cattle. They come, poor things! trusting you. It is very pitiful.'

This is dreadful! Not the suffering and death of the animals, but that a man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity -- that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like himself -- and by violating his own feelings becomes cruel. And how deeply seated in the human heart is the injunction not to take life!

Once, when walking from Moscow, I was offered a lift by some carters who were going to Serpukhov to a neighbouring forest to fetch wood. It was Thursday before Easter. I was seated in the first cart with a strong, red, coarse cartman, who evidently drank. On entering a village we saw a well-fed, naked, pink pig being dragged out of the first yard to be slaughtered. It squealed in a dreadful voice, resembling the shriek of a man. Just as we were passing they began to kill it. A man gashed its throat with a knife. The pig squealed still more loudly and piercingly, broke away from the men, and ran off covered with blood.

Being near-sighted I did not see all the details. I saw only the human-looking pink body of the pig and heard its desperate squeal, but the carter saw all the details and watched closely. They caught the pig, knocked it down, and finished cutting its throat. When its squeals ceased the carter sighed heavily. `Do men really not have to answer for such things?' he said.

So strong is humanity's aversion to all killing. But by example, by encouraging greediness, by the assertion that God has allowed it, and above all by habit, people entirely lose this natural feeling.

I only wish to say that for a good life a certain order of good actions is indispensable; that if a man's aspirations toward right living be serious they will inevitably follow one definite sequence; and that in this sequence the first virtue a man will strive after will be self-control, self-restraint. And in seeking for self-control a man will inevitably follow one definite sequence, and it this sequence the first thing will be self-control of food. And if he be really and seriously seeking to live a good life, the first thing from which he will abstain will always be the use of animal food, because, to say nothing of the excitation of the passions caused by such food, its use is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to moral feeling -- killing; and is called forth only by greediness and the desire for tasty food

"But why, if the wrongfulness of animal food was known to humanity so long ago, have people not yet come to acknowledge this law?" will be asked by those who are accustomed to be led by public opinion rather by reason.The answer to this question is that the moral progress of humanity -- which is the foundation of every other kind of progress -- is always slow; but that the sign of true, not casual, progress is its uninterruptedness and its continual acceleration.

And the progress of vegetarianism is of this kind. That progress is expressed in the actual life of mankind, which from many causes is involuntarily passing more and more from carnivorous habits to vegetable food, and is also deliberately following the same path in a movement which shows evident strength, and which is growing larger and larger -- viz. vegetarianism.That movement has during the last ten years advanced more and more rapidly. More and more books and periodicals on this subject appear every year; one meets more and more people who have given up meat; and abroad, especially Germany, England, and America, the number of vegetarian hotels and restaurants increases year by year.

This movement should cause special joy to those whose life lies in the effort to bring about the kingdom of God on earth, not because vegetarianism is in itself an important step towards that kingdom (all true steps are both important and unimportant), but because it is a sign that the aspiration of mankind towards moral perfection is serious and sincere, for it has taken the one unalterable order of succession natural to it, beginning with the first step.

One cannot fail to rejoice at this, as people could not fail to rejoice who, after striving to reach the upper story of a house by trying vainly and at random to climb the walls from different points, should at last assemble at the first step of the staircase and crowd towards it, convinced that there can be no way up except by mounting this first step of stairs.


I Found This Writing At The Back Of My Oven

I found this writing scratched into the back of my oven, at the top, to the right:


It was a bit late, but before I finished what I was doing I went back and swapped for the lemon-flavoured oven cleaner, it being the more edible of the two.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Dinner with Roger and Christine

John and Sally, Roger and Christine took their places at the table. It was a surprisingly well-orchestrated affair; Christine had all the cooking done and dusted, and sat at the south-western end of the room, next to the kitchen door, ready to fetch in the various courses as and when necessary. The tone and general ambience were sombre, as befitted the occasion. Talk was vapid and perfunctory, drinking slow but steady. All were reasonably at ease.

Four or so hours into the evening, Roger noticed that John was without his customary chrome-plated glasses. He made a polite enquiry on the matter. John’s face fell visibly from its already neutral countenance. He related the following short tale, as Sally rested her chin on her fist, her eyes on a place mat;

“It was last Monday, just out in the garden reading a book – Madame Bovary, you know – minding my own business, when this… thing descended from I don’t know where. It was a bird, a big bloody crow. Went off with my glasses, of all things,” John let out an exasperated wheeze, “They were… well you know how… they were custom made and… Christ! I watched the godforsaken thing fly off, most satisfied, I shouldn’t wonder. And I’ll tell you what, it’s the same blasted bird I’ve given crumbs and what have you every day – every day – for I don’t know how long. And have I seen the bloody fiend since? I most certainly have not! It was biding its time no doubt…”

“Well,” interjected a nonchalant Roger, “You might say it’s become a scarce crow.”

Sally spat.

The Juxtaposition Jive

Step by Step: The Juxtaposition Jive
(a dance for many rogues, arrangement: circular)

1. Take both feet and put them in a similar place. Most acceptably very next to each other.
2. Move the left foot to the right and raise your left arm till it’s level with your shoulders.
3. Click the fingers on this left hand.
4. Repeat with the other side of your body.
5. Take a neat step back, lean forwards, bend your knees and click both fingers by your hips while leering towards the centre of the circle.
6. Put your best rogue’s face on.
7. Court a Desirable* and lure her into the centre of the circle; flirt with her unashamedly.
8. Return to the outside of the circle and prowl around the Desirable, eyes madly fixed on her. Fingers remain clicking. At this stage a low chanting sound is recommended.
9. The dance comes to an end when one rogue ‘captures’ the Desirable. (This rogue gets to keep the fancy. All subsequent attempts result in distrust and often-angry looks from fellow rogues).

Sunday, 25 February 2007

A Disco for the Daytime-Waltz

The Carnival Lights have returned, a generational cluster of Carnival Lights, once fuckin’ around the back-alleys of hiatus & autonomy and now with a ticket to soldier aboard this fine ThinkTank. And we are. Loitering amidst a dazzle and shooting from its hip and happenin’ moxy.
It’s good to have good company
and only a rollerblade removed from where we were, in a fashion.
A Hot new recce,
A Gumbo of Soul,
A direction without its destination
A rally, a cry, a glint in the eye.
And that’s the gospel-truth.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Playing With Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs were never a great passion of mine; I never quite fit that archetype. I didn’t, don’t and never will dislike them by any means, far from it, I’ve always had a real fondness for the things. There was the red tyrannosaurus rex that wouldn’t fill with water because his throat was sealed. The dinosaurs at the museum were skeletons, which was great. The tyrannosaurus made for an imposing figure, all teeth and tail and what have you; you had to respect the tyrannosaurus, you’d be a fool not to. This was before I knew he was a scavenger; I can empathise far more readily now. He was never my favourite, though. The stegosaurus is to this day a role-model of sorts, and the pterodactyl is a far out lizard-bird. Excellent skeletons too; the pterodactyl was suspended from the ceiling. I’ll always love skeletons. I liked the diplodocus’s neck, still do sometimes, but dinosaurs were never a great passion of mine. I always preferred to play in the woods. They were much bigger in those days, and darker.

Of course, it wasn’t playing; it was, dare I say it, adventure. Disbelief wasn’t a concept I was familiar with, and I’m not a great fan of it now. There was never much doubt that we’d find gold eventually, or the ghost train in the old abandoned tunnel. Our camps were bona fide settlements; there was some serious improvised engineering a little later on, and I’d be proud of it now. Prouder, maybe, and less capable. I was secretly rather excited at the thought of the gypsy girl who lured little boys off to an unspecified fate out there in the woods. Never did encounter her, though, more’s the pity.

Is it true that all such things, the dinosaurs, the woods, are part of what makes an adult, that’s to say, a fully grown human, to whatever degree of development, and that that’s their principal purpose? That the inquisitiveness, the naked wonder and the joy of children are functions of the formative years? I think someone told me something like that somewhere, sometime. I’m thinking about that red tyrannosaurus now (I called him The Tyrannosaurus). I don’t want my throat to be sealed.

Friday, 23 February 2007

The Church

Sadly it was the rather stupid Charlotte Church that instigated this evening's thought processes.
I want to talk a little about religion. I want to, but can't. I know literally nothing about it. Well, not literally. What worries me most though is that I'm joined by about 6,578,257,375 people. 6,578,257,375 know nothing about religion. On a side note I had this theory once, or more of a fantasy, that women had a huge secret, and its such a deep hidden secret that they can't ever tell a male, without destroying everything. So not even a lesbian could break the vow...not even riddled with drugs and frying in a pancake oils. I don't know what the secret would be, obviously. Probably something to do with machines... maybe the world is hollow and lined with little rubbery handles, so that when the menfolk go to sleep (after a hard night hunting amphibious birdlife?) they drop down specially crafted tunnels that they dug as part of their initiation. They slide down these hand crafted tunnels and drop into the hollow earth, wildly grasping for a handle as they plummet into the innner void. If they manage to catch hold they can swing around, so that from a distance away into the space and turning back their shapes make important concentric patterns. That would explain magnets. If they miss they just drop...although the problem is after they have dropped for say, a thousand or so miles they'll be approaching the 'core' of the empty space. If they dropped any further they'd actually be flying, if you get my drift. So obviously they come to an abrupt stop in the centre....where surely thousands of women from all around the world will be dropping to. Exactly the same point. At high velocity too... no doubt creating intense heat. A huge boiling fleshball of oestrogen, and er, hairstyles and screaming and mangles.
I forget my point.

What is it that makes me?

I'm not from Wearside. And I'm not Jack. Yet I am Wearside Jack. What is it that makes me?

Olives. I cannot think of them without the Arabic word coming to mind. With emphasis: I cannot. That is simply unique; and olives, therefore, are unique. Eating them, one [i.e. I] is aware of imbibing goodness. Yet surely imbibing and mastication are bedfellows only in the most tenuously Amazonian of senses? Think for a moment, and it becomes obvious: the olive is the purest distillation of the life force - of the élan vital - and he who consumes the olive will never die.

Returning to our primary question, it seems that I am Wearside Jack not because I am, but because I was both flustered and flumoxed when imposed upon to enter some sort of identifier to proceed towards this curious goal to which a curious stranger had compelled my being to strive. That is: what is is the very first thing that comes into one's mind. Namely, I am an ostrich. Think - but not - never - too much.


Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Heritage On Toast

Why is it that typing is such a beautiful act?
Its because of the interaction of fingers with plastic.
Think of a swampy beach, with steam and mist and strange sounds from a bygone age, with hundreds of strange creatures that havn't walked these lands for millions of years, just think that it is they that once owned the earth. Then they get melted down, the result of eons and pressure, and pysics, and other dark things, they get turned into a mysterious black thick mana. It is history, the world as it was, all mixed into a dangerous soup that should be left deep down in the dark and the cold. Then we as men, barely more than any beast except we have aquired some skill with tools, then we pump this oil up into daylight to satisfy our tool fancies. Some is used to run our cars. Some makes carrier bags. Some is used for injection moulded keyboards. It seems only natural for us to at least pay homage to the profound heritage; so we type.

Discuss frugally.

Black Olives: The Anatomy of Joy

I've never really been one for the black olive in the general existential hum drum, but stick 'em on a pizza, I'll drink 'em like gravy. The red grape's like that too. Eat one? Well, naturally I will (it's a while since I have) but I'd rather have a white one. At least I think that's the case, as it's a while since I had a red one; I'm not really a one for fruit, truthfully. So, yes, wine anyway - red every time, without equivocation, except with certain cheeses, though I forget which. I don't tend to be a one for eating and drinking in the same three minute period, truthfully.

What to surmise? Well, there's a process, certainly. That would explain it. And it does explain it. Black, Green; Red, White. Something happens, and I like it.

Were they fruit, I expect I could love these walls.


Tuesday, 13 February 2007


Toads are fanciers, herons take it too far...discuss.

Monday, 12 February 2007


Do you think that the heron would sleep when you were around?