Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
If you missed Extras, the final episode/Christmas special, as I nearly did (the only thing I wanted to see over Christmas - well, that and the new Oliver Twist) you can still watch it for another 6 days on the new BBC iPlayer. It's absolutely brilliant. I even want to use an exclamation mark! There! That's how brilliant it is! Oliver Twist is on there as well: I watched it all in one go overnight, when that was repeated on sign zone.
Update: You can watch everything broadcast by the BBC in the last seven days on iPlayer. (I think it only works if you're in the UK. Can anybody confirm that?) In effect you don't need a television anymore, and you can do your own scheduling. However, there is something good in the feeling of watching a brilliant new production "as it goes out", and knowing that many others are too.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Postmarks spotted include (in no particular order) all parts of the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, India, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, Japan, China, Trinidad & Tobago, Israel, Nigeria, Pakistan, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Mauritius and The Philippines. Every single entry was a valiant effort, and the task of reading and judging is both daunting and wonderful. Cheers!
There was an erroneous press release early on, which gave December 24 as the closing date, which was quickly corrected to December 21. Therefore entries received up to and including December 24 have been admitted on the assumption that they got the erroneous press release. Qualification, as stated in the rules, is by date received not by date posted.
To the person who sent a bribe: it's on its way back to you in a Christmas card, so keep an eye out for it. Next year the rules will be changed to disqualify anyone who tries that. I suggest you give the money to charity, maybe this one.
* In the northern hemisphere only. Terms and conditions apply. Stocks and shares may go down as well as up. Fair words butter no parsnips.
Just when you're wondering if he can make that note, he does it and goes even higher. What strikes me about this rendition of "Danny Boy" is it's a real street singer's version, just like the gypsy (ok tinker - forgive me!) kid with a voice like a bell you can hear any day down Grafton Street in Dublin.
Here he is in his pomp: Good Lookin' Woman. Nobody could wear a brown suit better than this, and believe me I tried.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
 There are 12 London Underground lines. No longer true. There are now 11, and will be for the foreseeable future. When the East London line reopens in 2010 it'll be part of the London Overground, not the Underground network.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
"Former prime minister Tony Blair has left the Anglican Church to become a Roman Catholic." (BBC)
What a numbskull. "I paid the blood price" Blair and "Shackle mothers giving birth" Widdecombe. They'll be right at home in that gannet roost of maundering old drivel.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Is it me, or has anybody else noticed that Brent East MP Sarah Teather looks exactly like a character from a James Thurber cartoon?
Niall D., Edgware
Well spotted. We will consider that for a future Believe it or Not. We prefer rocks that look like Geronimo, but if we get really desperate... (Ridley)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
"The long road to pension victory - Timeline" (Telegraph)
Campaigners had to fight all the way and only after multiple court rulings the government agrees to right this injustice, notorious to all except them, the sorry timeservers.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I like her idea to put them in the grounds of schools and hospitals. Not so crazy about putting them along the motorways. Ok if you have a chauffeur, maybe.
Friday, December 14, 2007
"BBC Newsnight has taken a holiday and decided to investigate some news - credit where it's due, they've come up with the goods. The story in question is the revelation that this year's Policy Exchange report on Islam in the UK was a dangerous fraud (----watch here----). It transpires that one of the key elements of the report - an alarmist claim that a quarter of UK mosques sell 'hate literature' (which is still well below the 100% rate at which UK newsagents sell hate literature) - was backed up by a bunch of phoney receipts, suggesting that the researchers had confected evidence for a pre-conceived thesis."
Fascinating BBC report exposes the recent claims that mosques were selling "hate literature", as based on falsified evidence. The forgeries are exposed by a forensic scientist engaged by the BBC, in the face of a 9-page legal letter from Policy Exchange threatening to sue. In the film, as the forensic scientist works you can see shadow writing (in the same hand) of different forged receipts, supposedly from different places, which were written on top of each other. Additionally the receipts investigated are poor-quality inkjet printed forgeries, completely unlike their real counterparts, and contain spelling and address errors.
Remember, the Policy Centre report caused quite a bit anxiety and probably stirred up hatred. Now it is revealed as a sham.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Ridley's Believe it or Not (No. 4)
By a fantastic coincidence two readers photographed exactly the same phenomenon at almost exactly the same time on Friday (December 7th.)
The sky over Harlesden Road at 4 p.m. this evening [Friday]. (Picture: Patsy, Willesden)
The same spectacle seen over Northolt at the same time. (Picture: A. Mullane)
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Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
"A badge commemorating the service of the Land Army and the Women's Timber Corps will be presented to surviving members."
An interview with Hilda Gibson, who was one of the Land Girls, and a poem by her. This is a somewhat horrifying at first, then funny and ultimately touching interview and poem, which has inspired a big reaction from Radio 4 listeners. Well worth a listen.
This is the company song here at Herald House. Star jumps to this every morning. This live (official) version is better than the record, I think. The divine Beverley is held back somewhat on the record, as if some nerd in the background has said, "Whoa! tone it down." Death to that nerd.
Here's an official Beatles release from the new DVD of "Help!", You've Got to Hide Your Love Away. I think you'll find that, like Wilfred Bramble [He's not in Help, duh. Ed], it's "very clean".
You don't get this with your other boring newspapers do you? All the official artist releases right here. Check my other favourites here.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Writers write. Actors read. Audience listens. Everybody wins. Liars’ League is a monthly night of new short stories by rising authors, read by professional actors. With 90 minutes of fiction for only £3, literature as entertainment has never been so good. (Liars' League)
Announcing the Willesden short story prize results event 2008 in association with Liars' League. [How strangely appropriate. Ed] The results event will take place from 8 pm on Thursday, February 28, 2008 at The Space, Willesden, with actors from the Liars' League line-up reading excerpts from the winning and short-listed entries. Details to follow.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Short Story Prize 2008
Judge: Zadie Smith
Closing date for receipt of entries: 21 December 2007.
The competition is open to all aged 18 or over, regardless of nationality or country of residence.
The prizes for 2008 are: 1st place £5000. For nine runners up, publication* of their short-listed stories in the anthology “New Short Stories 2” together with the winner. In addition, up to four commended entries may be announced, which will be eligible for inclusion* in the anthology.
Entry is free.
Entries must be in English, and accompanied by the official entry form.
There will be a prizegiving ceremony at The Space, London NW10 early in 2008.
Thanks to our generous sponsors, including Willesden Writers' Workshop, the London Borough of Brent Arts and Libraries Service, the Willesden Herald, and Pretend Genius Press, this competition is free to enter. All for love of the short story. This is the first literary entity since Shakespeare to offer both love and immortality.
There is no theme and no word limit other than the highly variable attention span of our short-listing team.
Full rules, entry form and address for entries: New Short Stories
* Update (29th of October): Inclusion in the anthology is optional for runners-up and commended. We understand that you may want to save your story's unpublished status. This is now the same as in previous years.
Advertisement by Gombeen™
Willesden Herald and pretend genius [press] present
The Willesden Herald International Short Story Prize
in conjunction with the anthology New Short Stories - 2
1st Prize: £5,000
Post to: Willesden Short Story Competition
PO Box 61437
I wish to include the following short story in the above competition:
I have read and I agree to abide by the rules of the competition:
Name* [block letters]:
* Name, Address, and E-mail are mandatory
We would like to send you emails or letters from time to time about this competition and other Pretend Genius Press and Willesden Herald events. We will not share your details with anyone outside of Pretend Genius Press and Willesden Herald, unless required to do so by law. Please add me to your mailing list: Yes (____) No (____).
Closing date for receipt of entries: 21 December 2007.
The competition is open to all aged 18 or over, regardless of nationality or country of residence.
Entries must be entirely your own work and never previously published or broadcast, online or offline.
Entries submitted on behalf of somebody else will not be eligible.
One entry per person only. Subsequent entries, including revisions, will be omitted from the competition and will not be read.
If you would like acknowledgement of receipt, please send a stamped, self-addressed postcard or sealed envelope. If you are outside the U.K. either forego acknowledgement of receipt, or send an "international reply coupon" obtainable from your local post office together with your postcard. We will not be responsible for any failure of posted items to arrive.
Entries must be in English, printed or typed, single sided, double-spaced, with pages numbered and securely fastened. Entries must show no name, address or identifying marks other than the title of the story.
We cannot return any manuscripts, so please do not send your only copy.
The address for entries is:
Willesden Short Story Competition
PO Box 61437
Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but Willesden Herald will have the unrestricted right to publish the winning story in the anthology "New Short Stories - 2" and to include a reading of the story in a podcast by Willesden Herald and Pretend Genius . Inclusion in the anthology and podcasts is optional for runners-up and up to four commended. We understand that you may want to save your story's unpublished status.
We will not enter into any correspondence about the selections or results, and we cannot provide any feedback on individual entries.
Judging will be impartial and anonymous. The entries will be reduced to a long list by a number qualified readers, who are published and/or prize-winning authors and editors. The initial selectors will not know the identity of entrants, except that the chairman will be given the identities of short-listed authors, in order to confirm their details before forwarding to the final judge. The final judge will not know the identity of entrants until after the results are decided.
Members of Pretend Genius and Willesden Herald and this year's judges are excluded from the competition.
The prizes for 2008 are: 1st place £5000. For nine runners up, publication (optional) of their short-listed stories in the New Short Stories anthology together with the winner. In addition, up to four commended entries may be announced, which will be eligible for inclusion (optional) in the anthology. Short-listed and commended authors will receive 2 complimentary copies of the anthology.
As in previous years the winner also receives the legendary Willesden Herald mug inscribed "The Willesden Short Story Prize 2008" and for the first time this year, a bottle of Sloe Wine.
The short list and winner will be announced simultaneously on the Willesden Herald website and here, early in the new year. The prizewinners will be notified by email at the same time. Accordingly, it is essential to provide a working email address.
Upon notification of winning, short-listing or commendation, it is a requirement of these rules that you provide an electronic copy of the entry as an attachment, by email. This is essential for the preparation of the anthology. If we are unable to confirm details by email or phone, we reserve the right to disqualify the entry and select a substitute.
There will be a prizegiving event, scheduled tentatively for February 2008 in Willesden (details to be confirmed). We would certainly appreciate the attendance of the winner at this event, however we are unable to provide travel or other expenses.
We discourage simultaneous submissions. Please let us know if something is published after entry so it can be removed from the competition.
We reserve the right to withold the prizes and/or reduce the short list numbers if entries of a sufficient standard are not received. In the event of a tie, the first prize will be split equally between the winners.
Thanks to our generous sponsors (including Willesden Writers' Workshop, the London Borough of Brent Arts and Libraries Service, the Willesden Herald, and Pretend Genius ) this is a FREE competition, meaning free to enter. All for the love of the short story. This is the first literary entity since Shakespeare to offer you both love and immortality.
There is no theme and no word limit other than the highly variable attention span of our editorial team. Please bear in mind that this is a short story competition and entries that are obviously not short stories will be a waste of your time and ours.
Entry implies acceptance of all the rules.
Failure to comply with the entry requirements will result in disqualification..
Download the entry form (required), print, fill in and post.
Please do not send novels or novellas, just because there is no formal word limit. If you don't know what a short story is, you're not going to win, are you? For rough guidance, imagine you are submitting it to the New Yorker weekly magazine. They are not going to put a novel or a novella in a weekly magazine. They have a story every week, sometimes quite short or anything up to about 8,000 words.
It has to feel like a short story. No matter how short it is, if it reads like a mini-novel it's no good. It doesn't matter if it's a little over 8,000 as long as it feels like a short story, not a mini-novel or novella. There comes a point where the piece is so long that it cannot possibly feel like a short story. To date, we have had industrially bound novels with prologues and chapters, one with 221 pages etc. These people are wasting time, postage, money and trees.
The real heart of the definition of a short story is a tale that can be told in one session. Too long and you lose your audience. The longer you make it, the better it had be. [Grammar? Ed]
Excerpts, examples and links to some stories we like are available on the New Short Stories website.
Please do not send requests for entry forms or result notifications, we cannot supply them. The entry form, rules and results are and will be available online only (www.newshortstories.com).
...like a very expensive, but baggy, suit.
"Budding writers take note; the Willesden Herald International Short Story Prize 2008 is now accepting submissions." (Brent Brain)
"Entry remains free, as does the ethos of a competition, which is designed to encourage emerging talent in the literary short story." (Guardian Books)
Open call for submissions: Willesden Herald international short story prize: There's no shortage of of short story competitions out there but not many have Zadie Smith selecting the winner. (The Elegant Variation)
The Willesden Herald and Pretend Genius Press present the 2008 Willesden Herald International Short Story Prize. $10,000 [approx.] goes to the winner. (New York Centre for Independent Publishing)
lesson 1: reading fundamentalisms¹
as it pertains to reading, such as it is that it is important, it is important to use important terminology and cite important references deemed important by important people, in order to and not withstanding, understand and discuss those aspects of a work that are important to its understanding. although, as has been stated in one of this century's more aggrieved works on writing—the reader is expected to read on a basic level. that is what helps them buy products²—becoming or getting familiar with the important terminological countenance of a work's tangential references, allows the reader to read without cortexing nee oblongating the upper mammalary and if possible pappalary glands.
part 1 of lesson 1 highlights the importance of important terminology.
part 1: important terminology
etymology: origin unknown
date: 19th century
1 : a word, interchangeable with some other words, used to describe a piece of writing that can be described with no other word
2 : a tack that usually becomes or gets lodged in the cerebral cortex and causes much bleeding <the pain I feel is probably caused by that ang I rolled over the other day — Peter Poontwang>
etymology: danzini tribe, iron panties
date: 3000 b.c.
1 : the tangent of vicissimilitude delimited by the intellectual context of something that has no reproductive qualities other than its own circumspection re: an unknown collective. <the pain I feel is probably caused by that plutarch I rolled over the other day — Peter Poontwang>
etymology: old non-sumerian, from middle non-babylonian pistol, to read
date: 21st century
1 : the act of looking at characters or letters or letters that look like characters and deciphering them in such a way as to make them a function of mutable linear nodes. <Charlotte, what does vicissimilitude mean? -- Henrietta Mcgillacuty (sic)>
2 : the symbol for manganese.
armed with these terms we shall probe the pipe-work of itty worbles³ that will time and again forthwith, ergo...secure them ang-like to the mutable non-/linear nodes.
note: the controversial influence of 3 dots on a reader's vicissimilitude is touched on in the caustic and currently unwritten chapter 4.
I am lion. Watch me faint.
in as much as and although these two sentences lack plutarch and vicissimilitude, the experienced reader sees ang in them. a reader who identifies this, enhances his/her function of the non-/linear nodes to a degree that itty worbles get or become impactful.
analyze the following sentence vis-a-vis ang, plutarch, and vicissimilitude:
what is real is not as real as it was when it was real but it might accidentally be just as real as it was when it was real, although even then one can't be certain that that real was what was really real.
supplementary reading assignment:
masturbating in public by j. tyler blue©2001
coming soon: part 2 of lesson 1 - referencing for cocteau parties
¹this is lesson 1
²chi chi, fronting the passive reversal voice (2002)
³in my controversial experiments on aphasiacs, this term, widely unuttered, means itty worbles
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Bill Gates organized an enormous session to recruit a new CEO for Microsoft Europe.
Exactly 5,000 candidates assemble in a large room. One candidate is Mario Dimaculangan.
Bill Gates: Thank you for coming. Those who do not know JAVA may leave.
2,000 people leave the room.
Mario says to himself, 'I do not know JAVA but I have nothing to lose if I stay. I'll give it a try.'
Bill Gates: Candidates who never had experience in managing more than 500 people may leave.
2,000 people leave the room.
Mario says to himself, 'I never managed anybody myself, but I have nothing to lose if I stay. What can happen to me?' So he stays.
Bill Gates: Candidates who do not have management diplomas may leave.
500 people leave the room.
Mario says to himself, 'I left high school at 15 but what have I got to lose?' So he stays in the room.
Lastly, Bill Gates asked the candidates who do not speak Serbo-Croat to leave.
498 people leave the room.
Mario says to himself, 'I do not speak one word of Serbo-Croat but what do I have to lose?' So he stays and finds himself with one other candidate.
Everyone else has gone.
So Bill Gates says, 'Apparently you are the only two candidates who speak Serbo-Croat! Go on then, let's hear you have a conversation together in Serbo-Croat.'
Calmly, Mario turns to the other candidate and says, `Ano ba yan, Dong?'*
The other candidate answers, 'Ewan ko, Pare.' **
* "What is that?".
** "I don't know, mate."
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"People want to know, 'Who has got their hands on my genes?',' she says."
A person owns himself or herself and all components thereof. My DNA is my own property, copyright © me, all rights reserved. No use of any kind without prior permission in writing from me or my estate. No barber shall take a hair I left on his floor and use it for cloning customers with thick, fast growing hair like me, for example. No employer shall extract my DNA from a lousy plastic coffee cup and clone little duplicates of late-working-without-pay versions of me. Etc.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
"Saudi Arabia has condemned Western interference in the case of a rape victim who was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison."
I hate those seedy, hypocritical slobs who run that country and their numbskulled witch doctors. The day their country is run by the ordinary people instead of those money-grubbing lardarses, and their voodoo nonsense, the better. The same to the Bush regime, by the way.
"...writers and other cultural figures choose their favourite books of 2007"
Fascinating to get in concise form what each of these people found new and compelling this year. Then again some of the selections reflect what I find myself, that it's not always new books that are discovered in a year. I have bought a few books this year, the new edition of Shakespeare, a great doorstop/combines weight-training and reading, actually a marvellous book. Some others. A limitation of this sort of survey, like any Top N items list, is the tendency to say "My favourite books this year were the books I read this year."
Imagine being Literary Editor of the Observer and having this lot in your CC list:
David Hare, Nicola Barker, Margaret Drabble, Toby Litt, Alain de Botton, Michael Chabon, Jan Morris, Shere Hite, Salley Vickers, Brian Friel, MJ Hyland, Ian Hislop, Peter Carey, Charlotte Mendelson, John Banville, Anne Tyler, Michael Ondaatje, Joanna Briscoe, Andrew Marr, Hanif Kureishi, Angela Hartnett, Lisa Appignanesi, Irvine Welsh, JG Ballard, Simon Callow, Hari Kunzru, Iain Sinclair, Oliver Sacks, Beryl Bainbridge, Adam Phillips, Philip French, Peter Conrad, Alan Warner, Saffron Burrows, Geoff Dyer, Hilary Mantel, Charlie Higson, Edward Lucas, Kate Mosse, Jane Stevenson, Andrew Motion, David Kynaston, Romesh Gunesekera, Gerard Woodward, Colin Thubron, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Adam Mars-Jones, Nicci Gerrard, Diane Abbott, Michael Dobbs, Caroline Michel, Jonathan Sacks, Ali Smith, John Kampfner, John Mortimer, Ralph Steadman, Owen Sheers, Mohsin Hamid, Peter Ho Davies, James Lasdun, Rachel Seiffert, Maggie O'Farrell, John Burnside, Philip Hoare, Gautam Malkani, Phil LaMarche, Russell Hoban, Jackie Kay, Kele Okereke, Glen Baxter, Jeremy Paxman, Chris Huhne, Katie Melua, Benjamin Zephaniah
Just to quote the last one, which happens to be pithy:
Derek Walcott's Selected Poems (Faber)
"Walcott's Selected Poems is the only book I've read this year. I just haven't felt the need for another. The world is here, every emotion, thoughts you've had and thoughts you are yet to have. I have a copy in my house and a copy in my luggage. Nuff said."
* Good thinking O. That'll bring the Googlers in, then they can buy merchandise. Ed
Format © Willesden Herald 2007. Send millions.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Transcript of a talk by Seamus Heaney comparing poetry in the Japanese, English and Irish traditions, with examples. It also describes the influence of Ezra Pound and others and of translations from and into Japanese.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
"Prof Wilmut, who works at Edinburgh University, believes a rival method pioneered in Japan has better potential for making human embryonic cells which can be used to grow a patient's own cells and tissues for a vast range of treatments, from treating strokes to heart attacks and Parkinson's, and will be less controversial than the Dolly method, known as 'nuclear transfer.'"
The new method sounds very promising, exciting. Will we live to get the benefits?
Friday, November 16, 2007
"At the Israel Property Exhibition at Brent town hall, North London last Sunday, one company, Anglo-Saxon Real Estate, was offering for sale properties in Maale Adumim and Maccabim. Both West Bank settlements lie on the Palestinian side of the so-called green line, the pre-1967 boundary and often cited as the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state." (Guardian)
From West Bank to Swiss Bank
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Clockwise from top left: Mahonia, Callicarpa Bodinieri, Japanese lanterns, Echinops Bannaticus "Taplow Blue" (globe thistle). The latter was supposed to flower from July to August, yet here it is still flowering in mid-November! Is it the end of times, I wonder?
A. Mullane copyright © 2007
* Your pictures remind me of this, though it's perhaps not so mellow, rather more tempestuous this year. Ed
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.
From Ode to Autumn by John Keats (1795-1821)
Friday, November 09, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
BBC Radio 4
Wednesday November 7th, 3.30pm GMT
Award-winning radio, TV and stage actor, Nigel Anthony, reads "Naked" by Nicholas Hogg. Nicholas Hogg's story "Paradise" is included in Willesden Herald - New Short Stories 1. His novel "Show Me the Sky" will be published by Canongate in 2008.
BBC Radio 4: Listen Live
BBC Radio 4: Listen Again
Sign a petition to boycott "the Daily Scum, the so-called Sun". Go Heather! Papers like that shouldn't be allowed to call themselves "newspapers", there should be a standard applied before that term can be used, under the Trade Descriptions Act. They should be called "news-flavoured fiction".
if I should dream ghosts
they would be real there
should be as dreams are
dream real people become ghosts
me too dead alive here
if they should dream me
I would be real too
should be as people dead
dream real dreams become alive
ghosts there are ghosts here
Friday, October 26, 2007
"Friends of a former soldier who urinated on a dying woman have been condemned for doing nothing to stop the attack."
The jail term should be doubled to six years and he should spend a month in stocks at the beginning and end of it, with buckets of shit and urine provided to the public to throw over him.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I never work on days when there's a fire in town. It's a holiday as far as I'm concerned, and not just because it means the end of the world to some poor bastard, or family thereof...
"Kid in a Well" by Willie Davis, won the Willesden Short Story Prize 2007, judged by Zadie Smith. Willie Davis teaches English at the University of Maryland. This story in included in the anthology New Short Stories 1 (Pretend Genius, 2007).
The text is also online at the Guardian newspaper website, if you would like to read along and listen at the same time (follow the bouncing ball), here.
- Subscribe to Willesden Herald podcasts in iTunes
- Willesden Herald's page in the iTunes podcast directory
- Feed for other podcast software
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
"He [James Watson] has said similar things about women before but I have never heard him get into this racist terrain. If he knew the literature in the subject he would know he was out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically." (Steven Rose)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By & by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep & know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
(To a Young Child by Gerard Manley Hopkins)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
"By motivation, essentially, and with the exception of the Al Qaeda in Iraq element who have endeavoured to exploit the situation for their own ends, our opponents are Iraqi Nationalists, and are most concerned with their own needs - jobs, money, security - and the majority are not bad people." (General Dannatt)
As you know "All play and no work makes Jack a stupid boy", so every now and then you should force yourself to read something non-funny, for the good of your brain, even if you really don't want to. We care too much for our non-readers who might someday come here to read, to expose them to the risk of complete stupefaction.
"A PARROT that can unlock padlocks, remove keys from keyrings and unscrew bolts has escaped. Alfie, an African grey, broke out of his cage and then flew out of an open door in Alloa.A PARROT that can unlock padlocks, remove keys from keyrings and unscrew bolts has escaped. Alfie, an African grey, broke out of his cage and then flew out of an open door in Alloa."
Hooray! Go Alfie.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
How not to write poetry*
Marzials' epic "A Tragedy" has recently been nominated for worst ever poem.
* Hence our motto: Tomorrow's News, Yesterday. We scooped BBC Newsnight and now we've scooped the Guardian. Ed
Friday, October 05, 2007
Two poems by Daljit Nagra, an excerpt from his brilliant reading. Unfortunately we're only allowed two. These are "In a White Town" and "Darling & Me!" from Look We Have Coming to Dover! (Faber, 2007).
- Subscribe to the "Willesden Green Writers" podcast series in iTunes
- Add this URL to your own podcast software.
- Willesden Green Writers' iTunes directory listing
"A Texas woman has escaped being charged with negligent homicide after she killed her husband with a sherry enema."
I know it's not funny. But why sherry? I mean I like a drop of sherry, and so does my Aunt Flossie, but...
Thursday, October 04, 2007
"Li's ankles were tied together with string and her hands were bound by a strip of cloth for the swim. 'It's not dangerous because, first, her swimming skills are really good and second, I was swimming with her, staying close to her,' her father said."
This man is not a father. He is lower than the most revolting sea snake. Adults who give their senses to children are the scum of the earth.
From: "Jolt" by James Lawless
... Three or four goats appear and start following them. They frighten him as they get closer with their horns, bells tinkling. She laughs at him. He’s embarrassed. Kathleen knows goats. They had them on the farm in Galway.
She sheds her shyness in the open countryside. She wants to make love al fresco. There is no one about except for the goats. She breathes in deeply the fragrance of the pines. Lying down on the scorched earth, she loosens her blouse, drawing him into her. ‘Is it possible, Michael? Say it’s possible.’ ...
New Short Stories 1
* Loose Goats (oil on canvas) by Indi Dhillon. Willesden Herald collection
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
"...the patron saint of police, Angel Custodio."
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What good are all these saints and guardian angels? They seem to be even more incompetent than their mortal charges. Ed
Monday, October 01, 2007
"Jonnie and fellow chimp Coco appear to have tunnelled out of their cage at Whipsnade Zoo over the weekend. Keepers managed to recapture the younger chimp Coco, but could not catch 41-year-old Jonnie. The zoo says it shot him 'in the interests of public safety'."
They made an example of Jonnie. Actually, it's too easy for me to say that. I feel sorry for the person who had to do it. It does make you wonder, though, whether they could have found another way. A tranquiliser dart would seem to be the solution, but maybe there was a reason why it couldn't be done.
"September 27 would have been the writer and editor Shakti Bhatt's 27th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, her friends will read from her work and remember her with poetry, short fiction, and music...The Shakti Bhatt Foundation will announce the inaugural 2008 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize."
The award is for books published in India. Shakti was one of the contributors to "New Short Stories 1". (Tributes)
Friday, September 28, 2007
That large cover is supposed to protect the whole sofa, but this fellow decided he had a better use for it last night. Came down this morning to find he'd got under it. Our boiler is broken, awaiting repair, so the house was very cold.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
"It’s very easy to say I’d never do this, I’d never do that. I’d never, it’s easy, never do it, you say. But you don’t really know, you don’t really know what you’d do unless you land in a real situation."
Stephen Moran read this story at the Small Wonder festival. (Yes, yes, the slam.) I thought he read it very well, quite the actor. We're badgering him for a soundfile.
Monday, September 24, 2007
"Sixteen-year-old Robert Chapman handed over the phone to two men who had threatened him but they soon returned shouting 'let's kill him'."
It would be nothing but satisfactory if they should be shot, the rotten vermin.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"Mona Golabek began learning piano from her mother when she was four years old. Sitting at the piano, Mona heard vivid tales of Lisa’s journey from her home in Vienna to the rambling hostel at 243 Willesden Lane in London. These stories stayed with Mona as she grew up to become an accomplished concert pianist herself, and they led her to write The Children of Willesden Lane."
Resources to help you teach the book/A special performance by the author
"Jane Asher (born 5 April 1946) is an English film and television actress and the author of several full-length novels. She is the wife of cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, and was a former girlfriend of Paul McCartney.
"McCartney wrote several Beatles songs in the Asher house ... Marianne Faithfull remembered McCartney and Asher "never getting on very well," and described one evening at Cavendish Avenue* [sic] when McCartney wanted a window to be open and Asher wanted it shut. McCartney would repeatedly get up and open the window and then Asher would get up and close it..." (Wikipedia)
Wikipedia hints that she'd probably rather forget Macca. No mention of her famous cake baking TV shows, videos and books. Are we allowed to point out, without charges of sexism, that she's beautiful?
* Is this meant to be Cavendish Road? No Cavendish Avenue around here, or "near the Abbey Road studios", as far as I can see. Ed
Monday, September 17, 2007
Annual free competition, this year with a big prize (£5,000). Adjudicated for the third year running by Zadie Smith. Word has it that nibs have been heard scratching paper already for this competition.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
"The Commissioner added: 'Things such as pints and miles and feet and inches are what makes us love Britain. We don't want to get rid of them. The idea that you could not go for a pint in a pub in Britain is not acceptable.'"
I wish he'd tell that to the missus.
Anybody can now be framed for a crime by placing material bearing their DNA where it will be found by police. Courts and public may be so bamboozled by the virtual uniqueness of DNA that they lose their senses upon its adduction. No matter how preposterous any allegation, all is answered by the mighty DNA finding. One can commit "the perfect crime" by taking a hair from somebody's head or a drop of their blood and leaving it somewhere to be found.
M. A. Gray, Kensal Rise
Monday, September 10, 2007
Announcing the Big Wall application. Build a Big Wall around yourself today. Nobody will be able to comment on your MySpace or Facebook profiles, email you, phone you, hail you in the street, send you Hallmark greetings cards on made-up days, talk about you behind your back, repeat your excellent jokes without attribution, question your parentage, park in front of your driveway, bid against you on eBay, quote you, think about you, order the same thing as you in restaurants, have the same favourites generally, still have any sweets left when yours are all gone, say anything whatsoever without your prior approval, think about random things reckless of your viewpoint, cut their grass when you are reading your book on the patio, go on holidays in loud airplanes over your city, phone when you're in the bathroom (or any time generally except by prior request), write things that are borderline better than your own, reject your suggestions in an offhand or any other manner, read over your shoulder, take your breath like cats, perversely decide to have insomnia at the same time as you, turn off the light when they leave the room you're in, close the door behind them when you're following them through, tap cutlery against their teeth, eat the last jaffa cake and leave the empty packet on the shelf, etc. Install the Big Wall applicationproblems over. Sign up now.
Simon Moribund Systems
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Look closely when Gordon Brown shuffles pages: it's not him! He's only a huge-headed papier-mâché carnival figure with another smaller person behind operating him - that's whose hands you see. You never see Blair anymore, do you, by the way?
V. G. Bong, Neasden
Saturday, September 01, 2007
"I had my own ideas of 'good writing'. It was a category that did not include aphoristic or overtly 'lyrical' language, mythic imagery, accurately rendered 'folk speech' or the love tribulations of women. My literary defences were up in preparation for Their Eyes Were Watching God. Then I read the first page..." (Zadie Smith)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Why did the fictional chicken cross the road?
"Though this statue is of one man, it should in actual fact symbolise all those who have resisted oppression, especially in my country." (Nelson Mandela)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
"Sunny weather drew around 600,000 people to the Notting Hill Carnival this bank holiday weekend to enjoy the parades, dancers, costumes, sound systems and street performances. The theme of this year's event was Set All Free, commemorating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade" (Guardian Online)
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
are like expired tokens, special offers
for something years ago,
used tickets from plays you saw,
went to see in theatres
that maybe now are bingo halls
or shopping malls,
the names of casts
in order of disappearance
and technicians too,
who privately could be impressed
to some extent, concerning the names
of people who are dead, or resting,
no longer players.
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Monday, August 20, 2007
of the Capital City Academy
lies under mostly grey at first,
till turning east onto Donnington Road,
all of the sky, over half the world,
appears electric-lit or petrol blue.
under ice blue floes,
down to the cold of whitened ash.
And where would I be without
the ivory lightbox of an upstairs bay,
harmonising with a white
street light outside?
A war party of black cloud has halted
on the ridge of Dollis Hill.
At the corner back, a sort of prayer:
Vouchsafe me a view
of the sanguine amber, oh yes,
the peach red line, yes,
scrabbed in the west...
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* A week ago
Sunday, August 19, 2007
"A paedophile accused of raping a five-year-old boy just weeks after leaving jail had been prescribed Viagra while inside, his lawyer claimed."
He had a packet of Viagra in his pocket, allegedly prescribed before he left prison, when he was caught with the child.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
"How could a man who, in the words of one close friend of Miller's, 'had such a great world reputation for morality and pursuing justice do something like this'?"
More complex than it appears at first glance, a detailed report about how and why Arthur Miller disowned but eventually left a bequest to, his Downs Syndrome child.
Monday, August 13, 2007
"From turning a door on four roller skates into a Heelykididdlywatt and fending off sleazy guys in an all-night coffee shop, through first love, the scars left on a generation by the Vietnam war, and an eye-witness view of Belfast at the peak of The Troubles, these memoirs chart the triumphs and tragedies of an ordinary life full of extraordinary people."
Saturday, August 11, 2007
"...seven exclusive and previously unpublished short stories by some of today's finest writers."
'Putting Daisy Down' by Jay McInerney.
'J Johnson: A Writing Life' by Nick Hornby
'Sweeping Past' by Yiyun Li
'Smithy' By Rose Tremain
'Message In A Bottle' by Jeanette Winterson
'Peach Melba' by John Burnside
'The Neddy Silver Story' by AM Homes.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I think I've said this before, but it's been on my mind again. The complexity of DNA is enough to account for the variations between individuals, but not enough to specify the pattern for the organism. Therefore DNA is probably only a series of variations to apply, but to what, we don't know. I have said it before, I remember now. It's like the instructions to a tailor: I want a blue suit, with a velvet collar and this and that measurement. It does not tell the tailor how to make a suit. And who is the tailor? What causes a plate of chemicals to turn into a human being? Or a banana? All these things with DNA, doesn't it mean that DNA is really synonymous with life? But there are more lines in a not-particularly-complicated computer program than there are in the human genome. So where is the real pattern for life? We can put a pile of amino acids in a saucer but they won't get up and write À la recherche du temps perdu.
Estimates vary from 25,000 to 80,000 effective genes in the human genome, and currently thought to be at the lower end of that range (ref: here). There are more parts in the body than there are elements in the genome! Imagine what it would need to program any one part of the body, never mind the brain, for example. You couldn't program even a wonky robot with that number of instructions, let alone a system to build a wonky robot (which, some might jokingly argue, is what we have).
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Confused yet? You will be, here.
Thank you for your email and link to the blog that you sent. We have been inundated with letters of support and advice and the campaign team are reading each one. Your comments on restoring the ironwork removed during the war (and working with the Heritage Fund) have been noted and I will pass this on to the policy team.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
"Mr Goodall, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, is the latest serious thinker to turn popular myths about the environment on their head." (Times Online)
There's a whole list of fascinatingly counter-intuitive facts in this article. I've always suspected that most recycling is more wasteful than reclaiming land with landfill. Surely when sea levels are rising, rubbish could be used to build up the coastline? Sounds naive, but I have seen land reclaimed from the sea around Dublin, and certainly it's done in the Netherlands, is it not?
Sunday, August 05, 2007
When I saw a bird like this in the grass at my primary school, I wondered if I'd discovered a new species. That was easily possible, then. In my mind I was always attributing marvellous discoveries to myself. I think I was really insane, if a child can be insane. A friend's kid, not so long ago, told me his teacher was an alien. Maybe insanity is the normal condition of childhood.
"A US soldier has been sentenced to 110 years in prison for his role in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family."
There is a difference between the abuse under Saddam and under the US occupation. There is a vestige of justice here. It's little or no consolation to the victims, but at least we know there is a system of justice that is trying to eat the elephant of abuse one bite at a time.
Friday, August 03, 2007
"When details of the Holocaust came to light, many - and not all of them Germans - took shelter behind the assertion: 'I did not know.' That offers us no escape route from the shame of Darfur. We've known, wrung our hands and done nothing. It's going to take some living down." (W. F. Deedes, Telegraph)
You might not agree with his conclusions, but he has a powerful case to make. He has seen both first hand, and not just in passing. I still think it should be possible to force governments to behave in a civilised way, without going to war. In this case, if China is the difficulty, it should be China that is pressurised.
In my not very clever or educated opinion, we should not accept any imports or do any business at all with any country that does not have labour laws on a par with our own, at least. If it means we have to have a period of austerity, so be it. All countries should adopt the same rule one-by-one, till governments like the tyranny in Beijing are forced to collapse or conform to civilised standards.
The same for human rights as for labour laws, there should be a complete set of rules, comparable to those of the EU. When I say no trade with any countries that are not up to the minimum standards according to these rules, I mean no trade in or out of the EU, not the UK.
In the long term, this is how civilisation can be fostered and tyranny destroyed, piece by piece by piece, without war.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
"The expedition leader and famed polar scientist, Artur Chilingarov, told colleagues on the surface that his craft had reached the seabed. 'The landing was smooth, the yellowish ground is around us, no sea dwellers are seen,' he said, according to Tass."
No sea dwellers are seen? Dr Chilingarov returns in That's Twice Now Die.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
"'Once we discover that the self in itself is a monstrous deceit, that the self is something transcendent in disguise, we...begin to realize that our normal consciousness is in a state of trance, that which is higher in us is usually suspended.' - Abraham Joshua Heschel"
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"Listening to Nick Drake with an injured neck, then writing a bad poem. I'd been in the England Colts rugby squad and played cricket for Leicestershire, but laid up in bed I realised I wasn't going to be 6 ft 4 or bowl at a 100 mph. All that fiery energy had to go somewhere else, instead of just being doused with drink. So I started writing"
You know what we're going to say: New Short Stories
Monday, July 30, 2007
"Senior investigating officer DCI Mike Fowkes said the behaviour of the gang 'culminated in unparalleled cruelty and evil'." (Sky News)
There seems to be a proliferation of this sort of case. What the hell is wrong with these marauding swine?
Picture the scene in a native American teepee, with a cacophony of "sound systems" booming outside. Stephen Moran read Dundee poet Susan Kennedy's remarkable and moving, "Proper poems will not be written" followed by Mikey Delgado's sublime "There is about half a white moon tonight" and finished on his own less certain (I felt) "Ballad", all from Last Night's Dream Corrected.
Bilal Ghafoor read a fascinating and tense excerpt from "Locked in Amber", encompassing complete body shaving with blunt instruments.
See this link for more from the shy poet who read "Poems that need no Introduction. No. 1: The Introduction" (also from the previously mentioned anthology) and two other poems, including a very good evocation of an American location, with shades of "A River Runs Through It".
After decamping (literally) to the arboretum at Herald House, the evening continued with Brian Curran's "Tea with Stephan", a unique double-take on memory and assumption.
An intermission, while necessary refreshments were taken on board. Due to the influence of global warming, which seems to consist of both raininess and dryness, but in this case raininess, we then had to adjourn to the Herald boardroom, following a call to Red Woodword for the security keypad combination. There the evening continued with Vanessa Gebbie reading "On the Edge" a tale of corruption and transcendance, in which two institutionalised children rise above abuse. In Steve Moran's opinion, it was something on a par with Gorecki's Fantasia for String Quartet, which he'd thought about in the same way on hearing it performed, and that "Either everything in life is rubbish or this is it, this is what life has to offer."
Once more to the arboretum, following Ms Gebbie's departure, and Mr Ghafoor treated us to the incomparable bus/sand storm scene from "Locked in Amber".
* I want to forward apologies from all concerned for the cancellation of the short story slam. The chaos was such that it wasn't possible to go ahead with it, or even to be able to accept entries. For those since reported to have been there to take part, which it was impossible to even be aware of in the throes of the fiasco, please make yourselves known at the next slam event and you will get first refusal, though you couldn't be blamed for never having anything more to do with such events. It is only to be hoped that the rest of the festival provided some compensatory amusement. Ed
"Term after term is related to mining practices, such as stappil, a shaft with steps beside the coal seam, or corf-batters, boys who scraped out filthy baskets used for hauling coal to the pithead."
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
"Three female mountain gorillas were found shot dead this morning in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park."
There are only 700 of these left. Some rotten bastards are shooting them. Send the goddam SAS.
Friday, July 20, 2007
"The French, who rank first on the same list, drink more wine, smoke more cigarettes and consume more pastry than the average American. But here is the catch on that little fact: the fats they eat are real, not hydrogenated goo. The sugars they eat are real, not carcinogenic chemicals that alter brainwaves, the portions they consume are NORMAL proportions." (Monsters & Critics)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Vote Boris! Though, to be fair (through gritted teeth), Livingstone did predict this fiasco. Still better complete and utter paralysis of every transport system, and Boris, than fascistic efficiency under Livingstone. Yes, vote Boris. It's time for comedy, real comedy, instead of the amateur version the present shower give us. Besides he opposed the war, and he is not an apparatchik or a bureaucrat or an iguana-loving petty dictator.
Monday, July 16, 2007
I have two young houseguests, who arrived here in London yesterday on a British Airways flight from Phoenix, Arizona and BA have misplaced the luggage for the entire flight. How is this possible?!?! When phoning their helpline, one gets either to hold on endlessly or a message that they are so busy, please try some other way. Everything is phrased to make it sound like it's the caller's fault, and that one wants to tell them about lost baggage, whereas it is they who need to tell us about it. Was there ever anything so frustrating, depressing and incompetent?
A Very Unhappy Customer
"The British Airways lost luggage farce deepened last night when it emerged that the airline is sending thousands of bags out of Heathrow to be sorted through in Milan, only for them then to be sent back to England." (Daily Mail)
Why are BA continuing to take bookings from unsuspecting airline passengers, when they know all the time that they cannot deliver the baggage? This is fraud on a blatant and massive scale. I would never book with BA in a million years, and if I book again with Aer Lingus, I want a guarantee that it's not going to be a flight shared with BA, as in the past. To learn that they and BMI are also profiteering from keeping people on hold on their telephone enquiry lines, in at least one case to an Indian call centre, just adds insult to injury (ref. Daily Mail). Ed
The bags have arrived. And they brought the missing luggage with them.
How can it be that these demented, pompous old windbags are allowed to create wars and massacre people around the world on a whim? Can they not be impeached?
Friday, July 13, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
"Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted--"Open then the Door!
"You know how little while we have to stay,
"And, once departed, may return no more."
Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward FitzGerald
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Subject to the Tories stepping aside, which is more or less in the bag, Gravitas party candidate Feargal Mooney announces intention to run for London Mayor against hated and despised, lizard-loving, gekko-faced, Chavez-arse-licking, loadsamoney-for-Yank-managers, jobsworth Ken "I'd ride a bike if I could stay sober long enough" Livingstone. Feargal promises a 50-yearly debt amnesty, back dated to 2000, abolition of all parking restrictions, complete pedestrianisation of shopping streets, free transport for all, zero emissions for all vehicles in London by 2012, dissolution of the United Kingdom and the monarchy with all their properties reverting to the people of London, abolition of council tax, and independence for London. An independent London will adopt the Euro immediately, turn the Palace of Westminster into a visitor attraction (in conjunction with the London Dungeon), keep all the overseas properties currently owned by Britain/England, including Silvio Berlusconi and Saudi Arabia, and announce an open door policy for anyone in the world who wants to come and live here. All of the royal parks will be turned into refugee camps. The monarchy will be exiled and a republic proclaimed, with Feargal Mooney occupying both the Mayoralty and Presidency for life. Apart from the original Gravitas manifesto, there will only be one new law every ten years. A one year parliament of representatives from the former local boroughs, now to be abolished, will be elected every ten years to choose the one law to be implemented. They will then be shot, ensuring that only those highly dedicated to lawmaking, and of the greatest integrity shall stand for election. (From sources close to Feargal Mooney speaking today on condition of anonymity.)
Monday, July 02, 2007
"An Israeli court today sentenced Mordechai Vanunu, who served 18 years for revealing nuclear secrets, to six months in prison for violating a ban on speaking to foreigners." (Guardian)
"In Timbuktu the race is on to preserve papers that document a west African golden age" (Guardian)
It would be fascinating to read some translations and find out what 11th and 12th century people in Timbuktu were thinking about.
"Overall, a competent compilation with generally decent reading, and stand-out stories in Kid in a Well and Arthur Allan's blackly comic all-at-sea tale Atlantic Drift."
I would have to call this a tone-deaf sort of review, by somebody incapable of recognising beautiful artistry in the rich tapestry of Olesya Mishechkina's prose, for example. Arthur Allan's "Atlantic Drift" is a magnificent story indeed, but hardly "comic". I wish she'd said what was supposedly wrong with the editing. Anyway, you have a chance to win their review copy and find out, by commenting on the review.
* Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 1