Update: Lane Ashfeldt's take on judging this year's competition: The Willesden Prize, Stories and Tunnels _______ This is the...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
write this, the ineffable home of filth and genius
"We are also introducing a new feature called [Reviews of] Books We Have Not Read. The first book we have not read is War and Peace. We're confident you haven't read it as well so that you can gain the maximum benefit from our not reading it." (Bloog Mandrake)
Every piece in this inaugural issue of the new series is by somebody from Wikipedia. How do you like that? You'll thrill. You'll marvel. You'll laugh till you cry. Or you might just go straight to crying.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
9:47 pm, Kilburn High Road. Sphagnum
"Featuring some of the best stories and poetry from members of one of the brightest literary groups in London, What we were thinking just before the end will be available soon from The Green Press."
Friday, April 24, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
On Saturday April 13th, I was on the 07:05 BA flight 478 from Heathrow Terminal 3 to Barcelona. About a half an hour into the scheduled 2-hour flight, the captain announced that both he and the co-pilot had been exposed to fumes, which had left them feeling a little strange. They were using oxygen as a precaution but had gotten permission to return to London rather than continue on to Barcelona.
He said that the aircraft had been in maintenance, out of use for a number of weeks, and that sometimes it happened in those circumstances that there could be a build-up of fumes inside the aircraft the first time it was subsequently used.
So we returned to Heathrow and I did not see or hear anyone complain and if I had, I would have thought them idiots. He had explained in a helpful and clear way exactly what the problem was and any sensible person could understand that it was the correct decision to go back, which would take a half an hour or so to accomplish, rather than go on for another hour and a half, with the flight crew feeling woozy. Equally, I might ask, what about the risk of further fumes?
I did wonder at one point whether a singing nun would pull a guitar out of the locker and strike up a chorus of Kumbaya, or if someone might rush down the aisle asking for anyone who knew how to fly, but all seemed calm. We had further updates about what might be going to happen to us, whether we'd be bussed back to the terminal or transferred to another plane. Of course a new crew would have to be brought in as well as a plane, because the captain felt that the only place he was going next was to sick bay.
We came in through low cloud, almost down to fog level, not able to see anything till very near the runway and then a good landing. Captain: "Just to let you know, we did the landing on automatic, as I thought it safer, given that I am still not feeling quite right" or words to that effect.
After an hour or so on the ground: Look out of the window on your left, that is another identical Boeing 757 and we have a crew coming in to take you to Barcelona. Even though it's just there, we will probably get the buses to ferry you across, because you are still what is called "sterile". [I thought, I hope not as a result of the fumes.] We are waiting for a new crew to be found. We waited I think about two hours: significant for compensation claims, perhaps, but I was more worried that the air in the first plane was very poor, the conditions hot and my wife was not well or able to endure indefinitely.
I did start to feel a bit like one of those poor animals we see crammed into lorries on the motorway, but I don't blame any of the crew. In fact I thanked the captain who stood by to chat with anyone as we disembarked, for getting us back safely.
And another thing...
The crew members were all marvellous - both on the first, the second and a few days later on the return flight, but that by the way was overbooked! (BA Flight 487 from Barcelona back to Terminal 3, 20:35.) We had to wait to find out if we were going to get a seat, though we were not late checking in, and again my wife was struggling, with nowhere to sit down.
In the end we were upgraded to Business Class, where I listened in on a conversation in the seats behind between a would-be poet accompanying someone who at one point referred to himself as a well-known playwright.
'"The sky above": What did you see wrong with that?' 'Well, I wouldn't use it. The word "above" is redundant, because where else would the sky be?' 'Oh thanks, that's most helpful, really. You're so against using the iamb and [jargon jargon jargon], is there a reason for that?' 'It sort of announces that it's poetry and [jargon jargon jargon].' 'For the same reason, no rhyme?' 'Mmm...' And then to the attendant: 'Yes, I'll take the whisky please.' He needed it.
Earlier I saw them have a stern but discreet word to the officials at the check-in about the disruption. However, they weren't to know that we had trumped any gentility they could deploy with the simple chance asset of my wife having exactly the same name as the check-in person's mother. So while they were still trying the "I say old chap, a word in your ear" routine, the Mick and somebody who looked like one of their TNT slaves breezed into the first row of Business Class ahead of them. Result.
* Copyright Willesden Herald © 2009. Syndication enquiries: Click Dear Mona (above left). Ed
"One witness had seen a constable 155, but when the man with that number appeared before the commission, his superior officer explained that he was employed by the Inland Revenue checking omnibus numbers, and the man said that last time he had worn his uniform was at the Duke of Wellington's funeral (in 1852)."
Not sure why, but like everything at which we feel constrained not to laugh for reasons of injury and propriety, the whole report is hilarious.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
1 measure Gordons gin
2 measures ginger ale
Stir, don't shake. Serve with cocktail sticks in half pint tumblers.
Better than a Moscow Mule (Smirnoff vodka and Ginger Ale) just advertised 3:55 pm in ITV big match coverage for the FA Cup semi-final. Diageo - "Give us the child to the age of seven and we'll give you the boozer for life."
Worrying about adverts for sweets, worrying about drugs, worrying about drunken yobs, and advertising vodka and ginger ale to the kids!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Marnie Pearce is a British woman who has been jailed for adultery in Dubai, has lost her children, and is about to be deported back to Britain with no support.
The children are staying in Dubai with their father, who also received the entirety of the family's possessions.
"...her husband burst into her home with several police officers in March this year, as she was having a cup of tea with a colleague's brother-in-law.
'The police came in the front and back door with my husband who accused me of having an affair,' she said. According to Marnie her husband took possession of the family home and she and her sons were forced to stay in a shelter before seeking refuge with a friend. On November 27, the mother-of-two was convicted of adultery and sentenced to six months in prison." (Daily Telegraph)
Marnie is stepping off a plane on the 10th May with nothing - nowhere to live, no way of fighting to get her kids back, or anything. A Facebook group has been setup, dedicated to finding her a place to stay, helping her to get legal advice, and making sure everyone is aware of her plight.
"At the moment, we really need:
- appointments with any senior officials or campaigners who can help her case
- a good custody lawyer prepared to work pro bono (anyone know one?)
- a good therapist prepared to work for free (anyone know one?) or support group
Visit Marnie's homepage, run by helpers: Save Marnie's Babies
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Chalkhill Blue. Join the Great British Butterfly Hunt (Independent)
How does evolution explain the glorious patterning? Is there something in DNA that knows exactly how to place a line? It's not just butterflies, many plants and animals have lines and colours that seem designed for "aesthetic" effect. How on earth can that be encoded? - there simply isn't enough coding potential in the DNA system we're supposed to credit for it. How on earth, I repeat, can a plate full of amino acids resolve themselves not just into little robots, but into aesthetically drawn lines and colours, as well as living, wriggling, flitting, galloping creatures that put any imaginable battery power and programming completely nowhere by comparison. You can take any combination of chemicals you like and place them on any planet you like for however many million years, and you can pretty well guarantee that if you could come back in a billion years they'd still be sitting where you left them. They just don't do anything.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
This was emailed to everyone who signed up for the short story competition. No plans for regular issues, just maybe before the next competition. However, there are plans afoot* in the pretend genius [press], publisher of New Short Stories.
* Cliché. Ed
Leonard Cohen in London (concert) YouTube/Official
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A. (Order DVD)
Italian PM buffoon shouting at "suntanned" Obama
Blair's great friend and donor Berlusconi's theme tune: Ridi Pagliaccio
If he was one of the cretins on The Apprentice, he would be fired in the first week, but because he controls the Italian media and dodges Italian justice (by being Prime Minister for the duration of a statute of limitations time limit), he governs a modern European country. Berlusconi's top ten gaffes (Telegraph).
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Whitechapel screensaver by Yinka Shonibare (detail)
"The screensaver is available in two formats, one of which should fit your screen size - 1920 x 1200 pixels (16:9 aspect ratio) and 1600 x 1200 pixels (4:3 aspect ratio). We've arranged it as a sequence of 10 images - nine close-ups in a range of colours, and one version of the finished work." (Art and design | guardian.co.uk)
Monday, April 06, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
"Hoon, who is now transport secretary, lived for three-and-a-half years in Admiralty House while the London property he registered as his 'main residence' was let to a private tenant. This allowed the MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire to claim around £50,000 in expenses for running his constituency residence, which was entered as his 'second home' with the Commons authorities, the Mail on Sunday reports." (Guardian)
Hoon noun: a flagrant lie, a whopper. Etymology: Willesden Herald, 2004. "Ask no question and I'll tell no hoon."
"On this basis Judge Nigel Gilmour not only imposed on them fines of £385,000 – infinitely more than the value of the fish they had wrongly declared – but ruled that all their assets should be frozen as 'proceeds of crime', even though the home and boat had been bought before the offences were committed. He also told the men that, unless they paid the fines within six months, they would go to prison for up to three years." (Telegraph)
Travesties like this, while the army is away helping the rapists of Kabul* so that the slovenly swine who govern us can canoodle with US presidents and fill their mansions at our expense.
* Update 5 April 2009: ' "I phoned the president immediately about this because anybody who looks at Afghanistan will be worried if we are going to see laws brought in that discriminate against women and put women at risk," [Gordon] Brown said. "I made it absolutely clear to the president that we could not tolerate that situation. You cannot have British troops fighting, and in some cases dying, to save a democracy where that democracy is infringing human rights." ' (Karzai bows to international calls to scrap Afghan 'rape' law**)
** Comment: It is far from clear from that article whether the law will be rescinded, it's really a very vague fudge about its implementation - which still leaves Muslim women humiliated by this outrage. From Kandahar to Kilburn, they are shamefaced today to know that religious zealots have in mind to imprison, enslave, rape and disenfranchise them. Ed
"Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman, defended the punishment as appropriate under Islamic law, but said it should have been applied by a pre-pubescent boy in a private setting. 'She had to be punished,' he told Geo News. 'The punishment administered by local Taliban was in our knowledge and they did the right thing, but the method was wrong.'" (Guardian)
The one thing you can guarantee about the religious, their old men always like to inflict corporal punishment on young people. And they also blood the innocent by making them complicit in their perversions. Rise up and destroy religion throughout the world. Humanity first, now and always, secula seculorum, amen!
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
"Just as the otherworldliness of tennis pros is most starkly revealed in their casual warm-up drills, so these letters, in which intellectual and linguistic winners are struck at will, offer a humbling, thrilling revelation of the difference between Beckett’s game and the one played by the rest of us" (Joseph O'Neill)