now incorporating the Sudbury Hill Times

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ever wondered what happened to Craig Ferguson?



He's American now. Here he is interviewcating the presidentory incumbent. I hope Jack Straw isn't too heartbroken over the revelation at the end. (Excerpt courtesy of CBS)

Short story competition update

Every entry received is acknowledged by return email. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, your entry might have been blocked wrongly by email-filtering software. Alternatively the acknowledgement might have fallen into your bulk email folder.

Please enquire if you have not received an acknowledgement after 48 hours. If you cannot get a response from stories, there is an alternative email address, see above right "Letters / Submissions".

Ed

Monday, November 27, 2006

Proposal to resolve Israel / Palestine conflict

A federation of Israel and Palestine, two autonomous states with their federal capital in Jerusalem and regional capitals in Ramallah and Tel Aviv. The constitutional arrangements would be similar to those of the European Union. Israelis would have the right to settle, live and work anywhere in the the federation and Palestinians likewise.

Each of the two federated states would be responsible for its own governance, just like the states of the European Union, but the addition of a federal parliament with limited powers (as in the EU) allows all the populace to feel that they are part of one unitary entity in keeping with their ultimate wishes and beliefs. This is a combination of unity and separation.

This proposal solves the problem of Jerusalem, the problem of "right of return" and the problem of the settlements. It would also greatly alleviate the difficulty of the geographical separation of Gaza from the West Bank when constituting the Palestinian state.

Tell me why this is not a good plan—am I missing something?

Zoz

Thursday night's all right for writing

Willesden Green Writers' Workshop*

According to the website, their anthology won a national award last year sponsored by Arts Council England. Ossian has told me to say, "If you write and would like to receive useful feedback on work-in-progress, as well as to give your own response to others', you couldn't do better than to stop by this outstanding workshop. 8 to 10 p.m. £3."

You might even meet some of the Willesden Herald hacks, furthering their ambitions to escape from the drudgery of working for yours truly. Word has it that it will be Feargal's turn in the rotating chair this week. (Some sort of fairground device?) He's been given to sudden jumping, spilling cups of coffee and looking power-crazed ever since he found out.

Red Woodward

* It's Willesden Green Writers' Workshop, not Willesden Green Writers' Workshop. You don't have to be green. Ed

Friday, November 24, 2006

Biennial international playwriting competition 2007

BBC World Service

"Once again, we have two first prizes: for the best play by a writer with English as their first language, and for the best play by a writer with English as their second language. These two winners will each receive £2500 sterling and a trip to London to see their play being recorded for broadcast on BBC World Service in the World Drama slot."

Ossian

Highlight

Ossian's greatest ever picture

Not the Ossian who followed Niamh to the ends of the earth (literally), but your very own Ossian Lennon, former Willesden Herald photographer, the great. I've never been the same since he hit me with a Hasselblad, it's changed my life.

Onion Mbeke

Delgado's story now a set text

Cold Goat Eyes

"As we progressed through the story, I had a vague notion as to where it was going, and what it was about, but the finer points of Delgado's work were lost on me amidst a brainful of semantics and teacher techniques. [...] But, as we neared the end, I read a paragraph that picked me up and lifted me out of my 'teacher hat' and stopped me dead..."

Let's hope that Amanda Saxonheart and Rocky Rollins can find more such fine examples for this year's competition.

Litvinenko killed by "radiological agent"

The BBC is reporting this on the lunchtime news.

The Willesden Herald is the first, ahead of Reuters and Sky News, on the web with this announcement. [That's all we care about. Ed]

The worrying thing is that the police are now looking for traces of radioactivity at various locations in London. That is according to Home Secretary, John Reid.

Brokeback Newsdesk

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Letters

Little People - a tiny street art project

This is the best damn thing on the internet, and the best London art project ever. If publishers and agents don't get over there and sign this guy up, in the future they will feel like the fool who rejected the Beatles.

Damien Bratwurst, Paddington

"I explicated my theory of realism to Duke and StudAss"

George Saunders on realist fiction

"I never expect bikers to be literary critics. Well, these were literary critics, and good ones - in fact, they'd bought their 'hogs' with royalties from a book they'd co-written, Feminine Desire In Jane Austen: Them Ho's Lived To Get Freaking Hitched."

Ossian

Black gold in NW10

Cruiser Reports Drilling Success at Willesden Green

"The Willesden Green 06-35 well was drilled to approximately 2530 m depth. The well encountered two commercial zones which have been tested individually. The total of the last recorded rates for both zones is approximately 645 mcfd and 130 bpd of liquids or approximately 237 boepd gross (178 boepd net to the Company)."

So they packed up their bags and they moved to Beverly.
Hills that is. Swimming pools, movie stars...


It's only a matter of time before Ganache comes in from the courtyard of Herald House covered in black gunge, after dibbling into a gusher.

Business Desk

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mayor has balls done

The Framley Examiner

Everything in the F.E. makes Feargal Mooney laugh like a drain. Personally I can't see it myself. For example, what is funny about:

Classified

Give my regards to Broad Bean. After 6pm. £12

Bobbins

Yes please £15. 01999 793604


As I type this, he's looked over my shoulder and started falling around again.

Red

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fragment

"Maisie of the hotpants is a zombie
in the kiosk selling cigarettes
and I still buy ten Senior Service
and inhale without any regrets."

From "Ballad" by Stephen Moran (Last Night's Dream Corrected, Pretend Genius, 2006)

Ossian

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Council tax rebel interned

Grandad Jailed Over Council Tax

"[H]is wife Rita, 76, told The Sun that she was not impressed. She said: "He's an idiot. He has rung from the cells and is full of himself. He thinks it's going to be a laugh. I'm certainly not visiting him.'" (Skynews)

Richard Fitzmaurice got thirty-two inside days for protesting about council tax. If he'd come out of a Leeds night club and kicked somebody half-to-death instead he would have got off with community service. The policy now seems to be to let out paedophiles and killers but lock up war veterans who fight the unjust escalation of council tax.

Zoz

Letter from Rana Dasgupta

Re: Short stories, Small Wonder, etc

Dear Feargal

Thank you for your interesting remarks on the Small Wonder Short Story Festival, which I read in the Willesden Herald.

Your recollections of the panel on which Di Speirs and I spoke differ markedly from mine, which is in the nature of recollections.

I do think that my recollection serves me faithfully, however, when I say that I did not "admit that [I] didn't really like the short story genre, and had been commissioned to write [my] book "Tokyo Cancelled".

Knowing something about the publishing world as you do, you would be aware that my being commissioned to write such a book would be extremely unlikely.

Much more significantly: as a writer of short stories, and as an enthusiastic reader thereof, I would never dismiss the genre in such a way.

This is how my recollections go...

I said that there was something unshakeable about the centrality of the novel to modern literature: that its scale was widely felt to be necessary to the complexity of the contemporary world and psyche. This, I said, was why the "great novel" was so tantalising an achievement for all aspiring national cultures - such as America's in the nineteenth century, and India's today.

But I also said that this desire for literary grandeur leaves behind an unsatisfied residue. This is the desire for smallness and intimacy in literature, the desire for tales that can be consumed in a small amount of time, and re-told like folktales. This is why the short story remains entirely unthreatened by the pre-eminence of the novel.

As you know yourself, the quest for form - the search for the voice and scale necessary to what one wishes to say - is the primary effort of writing. This may lead one into novel writing at one point, and into the writing of sonnets later on - rather as Beethoven confined himself almost exclusively to the string quartet after finishing the Op 125 symphony.

Genres are not in antagonism with each other, and there is no sense in any kind of fundamentalism of genre, nor in any a priori generic rejections. That is why I did not, and would not ever, issue the rejection of the short story that you recollect. But perhaps recollections are dynamic, and liable to amendment?

Rana Dasgupta

Feargal Mooney responds:

Dear Rana, thank you for that. I understand now that Radio 4 only commissioned you to write for Afternoon Reading after the publication of "Tokyo Cancelled". I apologise for getting that wrong and for misinterpreting your remarks about the place of the novel etc. I will post an update to the article below and wear barbed wire under my vest for a week in penance. Feargal

Surely they can be intercepted?

Gunmen seize 100 at Iraq ministry

"Gunmen in military-style uniforms have kidnapped more than 100 men from a research institute belonging to Iraq's higher education ministry. A ministry spokeswoman said the gunmen arrived in new pick-up vehicles and stormed the ministry's Research Directorate in central Baghdad. They ordered women into one room and seized the men, including employees, guards and visitors to the building." (BBC)

Zoz

Monday, November 13, 2006

Selected short stories of McGahern on Radio 4

BBC - Radio 4 - Afternoon Reading

"Monday 13 November - Friday 17 November 2006

Short Stories by John McGahern

Stories by the celebrated Irish author who died earlier this year. "

Ossian

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A moment trapped

Pretend Genius Press podcast 2

"A moment trapped" by Amy Muldoon and "Uno" by Blem Vide, with links by J. Tyler Blue and Josh Davis.

Warning: Not for those of tender years or delicate disposition. Contains a source of swearing. May contain traces of noise. Always read the label. However, this episode is not quite as raucous as the first.

Noël Knowall

Saturday, November 11, 2006

BBC Radio 4 commissioning guidelines

Error 404: Page not found

BBC Radio 4 commissions1 about 150 short stories per year, half of the approximately 300 they broadcast. Presumably you or your parents have to be in the right Masonic Lodge, or wear the right old school tie to get the call. A blessed scapular from Mrs Haverty Clerical Outfitters and Nylon Factors (UK) Ltd to anyone who can find out how to get aboard this particular gravy train.

Di Speirs, Radio 4's commissioning editor for short stories and other literary readings, admitted under aggressive questioning from the audience in her interview at the Small Wonder short story festival earlier this year, that there is no way for anyone in London to send in anything for the Afternoon Story. The regions contribute half of the daily, year-round stories and she commissions the rest.

Joint-interviewee Rana Dasgupta read "The Flyover", from his book "Tokyo Cancelled". The story was chosen as one of five finalists for the £15,000 National Short Story prize. Di Speirs was also on the jury for that. She said it was the only one out of the over 1,400 entries, which had a sense of folk-tale about it—something for which she had been looking. She subsequently commissioned a story ("The Horse") from Dasgupta for the Afternoon Story.

The reading bombed in the hall and the panel discussion afterwards turned to why it didn't work as a live reading, whereas it did "off the page." Four people got up and walked out at the same time, whether out of boredom or to convey a message, I don't know.

Di Speirs also said that, out of all the stories entered for the £15,000 National Short Story prize, there wasn't a single humorous one or one with a political edge, something for which the judges were longing. But the rules of the competition were such that only established authors could enter, so what does that tell you?

I like to think that I'm a sceptic and not a cynic but maybe I'm just bloody-minded, maybe it is too easy to throw rotten tomatoes. This article is a revised version2 without the exhortation to "rush the stage". I had my arse deservedly kicked over the earlier one.

Feargal Mooney

1 Commissioning is the process of paying the idle offspring of a friend of the family to write, in a genre that he or she doesn't like, stories that are utterly inauthentic. Ed

2 Updated 14/11/2006, thanks to corrections in letter from Rana Dasgupta. Ed

Searchers in vain



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    "Never knowingly scooped"

  • If you don't see it here, it didn't happen



They zizz like mosquitoes, darting this way and that, completely lost: the searchers. Oh the frustration they suffer till they land here and find out at last all about:

"Is it legal to own a wolf dog in Maryland?"
"Massage parlours in Cricklewood"
"Munchkin proxy syndrome"
"Blow-up Hitler dolls for Allo Allo"
"Women for sale on eBay"

Check back for updates. See also Greatest Hits (about image searches*).

Simon Moribund

* Please note, this is not a free photo agency. £300 per online use (renewable annually), discount for bulk. Print editions by negotiation. Enquiries: Julia Bumwilley, Intellectual Property, Crapstone Scrotum Bumwilley Haversack. Ed

Friday, November 10, 2006

Meanwhile, in Panama



(From "the eejit")

Oh to have hummingbirds doing this outside of one's window.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dumbs felled

Rumsfeld quits as Republicans collapse

"Tuesday's elections gave the Democrats control of the U.S. House of Representatives and results by Wednesday had moved them within one seat of victory in the Senate."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Poetry reading for Lebanon

Hugo Williams, Owen Sheers, Clare Pollard, Adam O'Riordan, Tobias Hill and Annie Freud reading; with music by Steven Hinds.

7.30pm, 8 November, upstairs at The North London Tavern, 375 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7QB (3 minutes walk from Kilburn tube, Jubilee line)

Tickets £5 (All proceeds will go to children's charities in Lebanon)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Letter from Ted Gaggard*

Write This exclusive

"He said he wanted to try a new experimental massage technique that he'd just learned in massage school."

Brokeback Newsdesk

* Star of Viz Comic's "Ted Gaggard—He Looks a Bit Haggard"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pretend Genius Press podcast

Listen to episode 1

"My Valentine's" by J. Tyler Blue and "Dig big baggy grotto mob mottoes" by Blem Vide, with dramatised links by J. Tyler Blue and Josh Davis.

Warning: Not for those of tender years or delicate disposition. Contains a source of swearing. May contain traces of noise. Always read the label.

Noël Knowall

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Following Niamh

A valley stretches from here to another county. The far side is green, possibly with pine trees. There's a patchwork of farms and a quarry or a mine with cranes, in the distance. Hedgerows in bloom hid the view before this vantage point. Far down the layby a couple of cars are pulled-up. The gravel underfoot is hot and dry.

Beyond the mountains on the other side, high cliffs are waiting. Below the cliffs a bay with a hundred islands. At the cusp of the bay a larger island is separated by a sound with a small road bridge. Across the bridge stands a garage with old, red petrol pumps. From here the road turns one-track through miles of brackish bog. At the far end of the island is a mountain, its peak in one white cloud.

Beyond the Atlantic Hotel, on the far shore there’s a shop that sells plastic buckets and spades. On the beach is a fire, boiling crawfish, straight from the sea. Beside the fire is a girl, a young woman, with sandy hair. Kneeling, she leans back and says something with a smile.

After that you fall off the edge of the world.




Writing Home

Ossian

Friday, November 03, 2006

On this day minus 13 and a different month, 2003*



Double-entente:
Gay Bar - Electric 6 feat. (Cow)Boy George and Slushy-T



System of a Down - "Boom"

Better quality: Real Video / QuickTime / Windows media player 56 k or broadband

Interview with System Of A Down about the video: Real Video / QuickTime / Windows media player 56 k or broadband

Recycling Dept.

* Now with added YouTube

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Short story competition update

Dear literary people, the north wind is upon Willesden. Trees are rustling with a sound reminiscent of paper chains. Time to round-up untold stories for the winter and send them in, so what are you waiting for? And furthermore...

Willesden Herald and Pretend Genius Press today shook on a deal to publish an anthology called "New Short Stories" featuring short-listed stories from our competition, next spring. Inclusion is optional. If you don't want it we'll just die (laughing).

Brokeback Newsdesk