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Monthly Archives: January 2011


Had to get up in the middle of the night due to an asthma attack.

I always know when I’m getting asthma in my sleep as it gets dark in my dreams.

Used my inhaler, made myself a coffee and watched a docu on TV about the Normans who, it appears, were a bunch of medieval stone-killer takeover-artists and empire builders. I then switched over to watch the BBC 24 hour news channel. There I watched some talking heads discussing the EU parliament, an organisation which is sort of like the Normans, but wearing cord pants and spectacles instead of chain mail and spears.

Takeover artists and empire builders nevertheless.

Anyhow, I got to thinking about what makes us civilised, as you do at half three in the morning when you can’t breathe properly. Here’s a very short version of my list:

  • Municipal parks. 
  • A local library. 
  • Clean toilet facilities.

Just realised that the above are all inanimate. Ok, parks contain living things but the park itself is just a place. My list is all venues, in fact. Maybe that makes me a bit autistic. Should I have included some sort of sentiment in my list? Empathy? Good manners? Affection?

Naah. Get the venues right and the sentiments will follow.

poetry: no thankyou

Just came back from the gym after spending an hour on various punchbags, speed and floor-to-ceiling balls, and was feeling quite happy. Endorphin-mellow, in fact.Stupidly I turned on the radio and came across Poetry Please on Radio 4, one of the BBCs various radio literary programmes. Words can’t express how much I despise the BBC. I hate its actively mild, lefty-liberal, middle class world-view in which we are assumed to be either town-houses dwelling worthies or toiling immigrants desperate for betterment.

The real people of this country, the stroppy, beer-swilling crew who are occasionally called on to defend us all from behind the point of a bayonet, and who constitute about 90% of the population of this green and pleasant land, they rarely get a look in. The Hogarthian excess for which we are also known, is only ever mentioned as some sort of social disease to be cured, presumably, by exposure to radio programmes about poetry, from the BBC.

Poetry Please? I’d rather listen to a drunk puke.

In fact, I intend to. I’m off to the pub to get drunk.


Talking of wolf-moons: the word month comes from the word moon. A moon’th: a period of time based on the orbit of the moon, which is about 29.5 days. But the moon is less important to us now that we have electric light and cars in which to travel.

I went for an overnight hike once with my man Wilson. We walked for hours up and across the steep moors between two valleys. We missed the trig point by about a mile and a half, and after a couple of hours walking we weren’t sure of our exact position or direction; as we checked the map, both our head-torches went out at the same time leaving us in almost complete darkness.
This was probably due to buying cheap batteries, but at the time it was a bit spooky.

Could have done with a moon right then, but it was misty.

wolf moon

Historically, January is the month of hunger and darkness, the month after the winter solstice when the parties are over and the lights extinguished, and all we can do is sit patient for Spring to arrive.There’s an old tradition of January being the wolf moon; the time when wolves, bone thin and ravenous from the winter’s lack would descend upon villages to steal livestock, their fear of man overcome by their need for food.

Nowadays people have Seasonal Affective Disorder and huge post-Christmas overdrafts. People panic at three inches of snow. We have central heating and allergies, and personal trainers.

Think I’d prefer the wolves.

More about Taft

The work I’m doing with Taft High in Chicago is going really well. Miss K’s class are really sharp, ask some great questions and make me think deeply about what the hell it is I’m supposed to be writing. Busy speaking to a couple of other high schools too, with a view to working alongside them either to do a short story or a longer piece.

Apart from that, I’m almost ready to jump ship to my new website, like the gunwhale rat I secretly am, but when I do, I’ll leave a great big link.

Everybody knows

I want this played at my wake. And free beer. And some bull-baiting and dwarves. No clowns. Tents.

A live band.

Cinnamon Girl

It’s raining steady outside and I’ve spent the whole day editing the next section of a book I’m working on. It seems ok but I can never tell until it’s done whether it’ll work or not, so at the moment I don’t quite know if things are coming together or they’re falling apart.

Need to go for a long walk along the coast.
Need Neil Young to play me a one-note guitar solo. Twice.

Need to switch off.
Wish I could.