Established 2003. Now incorporating The Sudbury Hill Harrow and Wherever End Times

Sunday, May 29, 2005

'I felt isolated and uncared for. I needed a friendly face'

The Observer

"It is meant to be one of the most positive experiences in a woman's life, yet for many it proves one of the worst. As we launch our Better Birth Campaign, Jo Revill reports on the reality of childbirth in 2005"

If only the moldering government and leaden-footed bureaucrats would get up off their pampered arses and do something.

Malachy Dunhill

Friday, May 27, 2005

All's love and war


"Every three minutes, less, a train rumbles out of sight at the foot of the slope beyond the fence." [...] "The sleepers spring against the ballast, the carriages rock on their bowed springs, and the tannoy system's voice carries up the rise..."


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Willesden Herald receives honour

We are not a little shocked and very pleased to report that one of our contributors has achieved honour for himself by getting this newspaper mentioned in Irish Writers Online, "a concise bio-bibliographical dictionary of Irish writers". The Willesden Herald is now listed alongside the sainted names of all the great writers from the "Ould Sod".

New painting by Francis Bacon discovered

Willesden Herald Exclusive

by Noël Knowall

This outstanding work by the late Francis Bacon was discovered at the bottom of a river in Wales, after an alert Willesden Herald reader spotted it in one of our pictures (see below). Edmondo Woodward, Willesden Herald editor*, after personally recovering the picture from the stream, sent eagle-eyed Jack Lynch, 61, of Mapesbury an unopened naggin of Jameson's in gratitude. Following careful restoration, the picture is to be offered for sale by Christie New Minstrel gallery in Cardiff, where it is expected to fetch in the region of two million pounds.

* Erratum: I am not the Editor, only the Proprietor. Apologies to Feargal Mooney. (Ed)**

** Feargal replies: Sorry to wash dirty laundry in public, but don't you see how confusing it is to the public when you sign your comments "Ed"! Our agreement was that you would sign them "Red". (Ed.)***

*** Well pardon me for existing. (Ed)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Willesden sunset #823

by Ossian Lennon

12'' x 9'' black Bristol board silhouette on Fuji film Crystal Archive paper high quality photograph. Offers in the region £10,000. Agents: Christie New Minstrel Gallery, Cardiff.

All human life is here

Monday, May 23, 2005

Kronk's law of the conservation of beauty

My objective here is to provide a guide for the layman to my immensely important theory of the conservation of beauty.

While studying a picture of yellow hair under a tree in the great tropical glasshouse at Willesden Gardens, a 5 kilo soursop fell on my head and I passed out for several hours.* When I awoke I had the complete theory of the conservation of beauty in my mind and I rushed to my office to type it out before it vanished.

It occurred to me that I could produce the same picture of yellow hair by spinning a camera in front of any yellow object, for example a forsythia bush in full bloom. Of course forsythia in blossom is beautiful, but it looks nothing like that picture of yellow hair. And yet they are both beautiful. An easy experiment confirmed that the simple action of the camera** was enough to separate the photons of beauty into strands of yellow hair, like that which "maddened every mother's son" (as mentioned by Senator Yeats.)

Now I can reveal why I have often been seen disfiguring pictures of supermodels in magazines and breaking parts off statues - to the perplexity of those unaware of my scientific purpose. It is counter-intuitive to think that beauty could survive any transformation, and if you asked the average man in the street he would say that beauty could be destroyed. The strange fact is that beauty, just like energy / mass, can never be lost, it is merely transposed to another form. Shakespeare intuitively felt this, and I will now proceed to set out the mathematical proof.***

<< Previous | Next >>

by Professor Kronk

*A salutary lesson; never sit under a guanabana tree.

**The camera was kindly furnished by Willesden Observatory.

***A locksmith from Purley knocked on my office door at this point, responding to a call I had placed earlier concerning my briefcase. Most unfortunately, the mathematical proof of my theory - which I had entire - slipped my mind during this person's visit. I will have to start over from first principles, but at least I can now get my sliderule out of my briefcase.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Favourite New Yorker stories etc.

My subscription ended in February after three years, but here is my list of favourite short stories from those years. I posted this message (more or less) on the New Yorker forum, but it's dead as a doornail over there.

A House on the Plains by E. L. Doctorow
A tour de force by the author of Ragtime and many more.

What is Remembered by Alice Munro
One of three in one issue by the high priestess of slow burn short fiction.

The Performance by Arthur Miller
This concerns a vaudeville tap dancer with a troupe touring Europe at the end of the 1930's, when he receives an invitation that will end up testing everything he believes in. It's fascinating how Arthur Miller, even in his fiction introduces elements of drama. Note how the narrator plays the part of somebody "in the audience" with us. Great.

The Thing in the Forest by A. S. Byatt
A massively talented writer. If only she'd use her talents for good instead of evil. Haha.

The Trouble with Mrs Blynn, The Trouble with the World by Patricia Highsmith
Great one. One of the few that are not shown online though.

My Father Addresses Me on the Facts of Old Age by Grace Paley
Funny and compelling.

Sacred Statues by William Trevor
Coarser woven but just as high quality fabric as McGahern's. McGahern is up there in the stratosphere, thirteen years for his latest novel, a book mined from living flesh. Trevor is circling with the eagles just below the cliff edge. (Where are the McGahern stories? He used to be a prolific short story writer. His Collected Stories is a huge volume. Maybe he's not writing short stories, but at least Granta had an excerpt from "That They May Face The Rising Sun.")

The Obscure Object by Jeffrey Eugenides
The best and juiciest bit from the subsequent novel Middlesex. Reviewers on BBC Newsnight Review complained the novel didn't start till chapter N (13, I think). I could've told them - this is the chapter they were referring to.

Already We Knew Nothing - by Dave Eggers
A sort of literary Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. This is youthful and vaguely infuriatingly shallow until you realise that it is really being satirical and by the end it is beginning to dawn on the guys that the world is not what they expected it to be.

Safety Procedures - Nadine Gordimer
Surprisingly ordinary but good enough story by the Nobel prize winner. Could be subtitled Fear of Flying.

The Ocean - Frederik Reiken
This is a beautiful rites-of-passage story, first love at age thirteen against a background of diving on coral reefs. One of my all-time favourites.

Baby Wilson - E. L. Doctorow
Your girlfriend has always been a little crazy. Then one day she walks in with a newborn baby. The only problem is, she wasn't pregnant. You might not decide to drive across America with them while thinking what to do, but then there would be no story.

Travis, B - Maile Meloy
Damn, who is this guy! (Actually it's a gal.) Brilliant. This is a great little love story. It's one of those bleak plains, empty roads, snowy stories.

The Bare Manuscript by Arthur Miller
A writer enjoys early success and romance, but when his marriage and his writing both dry up he finds an unusual way to revive his muse. He places an advert and finds a woman who will let him write all over her.

Summer of the Hot Tubs by Annie Proulx
I hope places like Elk Tooth really exist. (My US friends confirm they do.) Proulx country. A real rib-tickler.

The Fruit Cage by Julian Barnes
All is not as it seems in the black comedy that unfolds, in the heart of darkest England. Funny, surprising and very English.

Sitting with the Dead by William Trevor
Superb trademark rural inscapes.

Bulldog by Arthur Miller
One of the best. A kid buying a puppy from a woman gets more than he bargained for.

Touched by Hanif Kureishi
A classic of its kind by the best British short story writer around, in my opinion.

A Bit on the Side by William Trevor
London office affairs - some of you might relate to this.

Our House by Martin Roper
Dublin household cross-religion blues - wistful.

A Poor-Aunt Story by Haruki Murakami
Amusing. Everyone has a poor aunt, but not like this.

Visiting George by Nadine Gordimer
Short short & poetic. London streets.

Justina's Priest by William Trevor
Touching. Masterful. One almost to restore your faith in religion.

A Boy in the Forest by Edna O'Brien
It's the Brothers again / meets The Butcher Boy. A nightmare. Subsequently part of a novel.

An Unfair Question by Sam Shepard
Horrifically funny party nightmare.

The High Divide - by Charles D'Ambrosio.
Camping seems to play a large part in the lives of some American writers.

Red from Green - by Maile Meloy.
An interesting comparison, camping from a feminine perspective.

Both of the above are brilliant stories in the tradition of Salinger's youth versus the phoniness of the older generation.

Bohemia by V. S. Naipaul
Essential reading for London dwellers. Pity he's turned snob, and misanthropist in old age.

Harvey's Dream by Stephen King
King happens to be a very good short story writer. Also worth reading the New Yorker article On Impact, his vivid account of the day and the accident that nearly killed him, what he thought of the person responsible for it, and how he started writing again.

The Surrogate by Tessa Hadley
Tres amusant as they say, esp. reading from England.

Recuperation - by Roddy Doyle
This is interesting. The rhythm of a daily walk. Easy to read, unusual format, a little repetitive at first, but mirroring an awful emptiness that threatens to engulf us. It's not without its highlights and even a shot of redemption. Well worth a read.

I should also add:
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner by Roddy Doyle
I think I've remembered that name right - same as the film (?) Anyway it was great too. I sometimes worry that he might be exploiting Dubliners rather than representing them. Perhaps I am too close to his target. I feel I'm inside looking out, while he is outside looking in.

Another Roddy Doyle one, recent, can't remember the name of it. As good as the others, better maybe. The whole story seems to cover just the moment when a man decides to say something or not, to rise from his armchair halfway, maybe refuse his wife's request, maybe make waves, and in following his thoughts we get a picture of their entire existence, their relationships, what they've lost - all in a moment.

In The Palace of the End by Martin Amis
Brilliant and apposite account of torturers in some place like Iraq. This story is not online at the New Yorker. It subsequently appeared in Guardian Online.

Long Ago Yesterday by Hanif Kureishi
Kureishi on great form - man I just love his writing, though personally he's not at all winsome, quite the reverse - writing about a son who meets the ghost of his father when they are both middle-aged. Another great one. Look for Kureishi's book "My Head to his Heart" an excerpt from which is on Guardian Online.

I almost forgot to mention the exceptionally wonderful Gogol by Jhumpa Lahiri (later a novel) and the spectacularly great debut by Nell Freudenberger, and just as good follow-up story (collected in the Orange Award nominated, Lucky Girls).

But wait. Why no stories by David Means, Irvine Welsh, James Hamilton Paterson, Edmund White, Garrison Keillor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez ... or did I miss them?

I also miss the New Yorker's peerless non-fiction articles. I'm thinking especially of Jonathan Franzen's piece 'My Father's Brain' and many more, too many to list or ever recall, about everything from Abu Ghraib to Shad to Wodehouse. Oh and the poems, Heaney, Milosz, Kinnell (especially his epic about the twin towers) and Zagajewski - who can forget his back page poem in its context, Try to Praise the Mutilated World.


Tyrants in pants

Herald Exclusive - the picture they tried to ban

BBC NEWS World Americas Bush filmed in underwear

"When the US president arranged a visit to Ireland in an election year he wanted to make sure the folks back home could see him - but not dressed in a vest. "

For your edification, in spite of warnings from the little-known Irish President (who has to show her ID to her own sentrymen to get into the state residence) we bring you this picture of Bush cavorting in underwear, at Dromoland Castle last night.*

Mary Whitehouse

*Reprinted from Willesden Herald of June 26th, 2004

Friday, May 20, 2005

Sister Rhododendron and Brother Bee

And I wish I could show you the robin singing on my shoulder.


Cuban chemical weapon hits Washington

British MP Galloway says 'blew away' U.S. committee

"I did a bit of sanction busting,' he said, brandishing a cigar. 'I smoked a Havana cigar just like this one. I smoked it inside the Capitol building, I even blew the smoke at the White House.'"

Smokin' George K.O.'d the smooth-talking, double-dealing, corpse-robbing, gun-running, oil-smuggling, Batista-loving sheisters.

New Yorker's take on the British election result

Blair's Bushy Tail

"No doubt the Prime Minister will keep trying to be the President's seeing-eye dog. But he is apt to be more alert to the perils of sitting in his lap." (Hendrik Hertzberg)

At least we're all agreed what his role is, Bush's dog.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Another good reason to go to Dublin

Dublin Writers Festival, June 16-19, 2005

Among the many Irish and international poets, fiction and non-fiction writers taking part are Sebastian Barry, Ronan Bennett, Chris Binchy, Thomas Brussig, Hélia Correia, Carolyn Forché, Christoph Hein, Tobias Hill, Kathleen Jamie, Antoni Libera, Hilary Mantel, Eugene McCabe, Sheenagh Pugh, Robin Robertson, Paolo Ruffilli, Tomaz Salamun, Rachel Seiffert, Gerald Stern, Joseph Woods and Juli Zeh.


Galloway scotches US committee's falsified evidence

Sky News

"Mr Galloway said one of the Iraq officials who was said to have given evidence against him was being held in Iraq in the Abu Ghraib prison "

Sky News has fairer coverage of this than the Guardian, which only grudgingly reports Galloway's victory / vindication. (Go figure.)

The Guardian Online has also closed the comments facility on their newsblog report of the hearing, apparently shamed by the unanimity of support for Galloway, which they couldn't bring themselves to acknowledge. You can still comment on Kylie, if you wish, and while you're at it, eat cake if you have no bread.

Anti-Galloway documents forged - proof

'How they forged case against Galloway' - Socialist Worker

Look closely at the entry, which is reproduced above.

  • The typeface (font) used for "Mr George Galloway" is different to the rest of the line. Indeed the only time this font is used in the entire document is where George Galloway's name appears.
  • 'Mr George Galloway' does not line up with the rest of the words in the entry. It is at an angle to the other words.
  • The spacings between "Mr George Galloway" and the rest of the words are inconsistent.
  • The dash after the words "Mr George Galloway" touches the following word.
  • The words "Mr George Galloway" are at a different type density (lighter) than the rest of the line."

    (via Lenin's Tomb)
  • Galloway is vindicated

    After his appearance in front of the US Senate committee today, there can be no further doubt that George Galloway has been the victim of a smear campaign. It was clear that in spite of his crass sycophancy on one occasion, he has been on the right side of the political and humanitarian issues all along. He stood against the murderous cupidity of the British and American governments as they devastated Iraq and Iraqis. Whether he smokes big cigars or has a jaunty, brash, even arrogant style is really irrelevant - he's not asking for your daughter's hand in marriage. There is no doubt that an organised campaign of lies, misrepresentation and forgeries, has been conducted against him - and the only remaining question is by whom? But there is no mystery at all about the answer, it's obvious who the culprits are, and the pile of toxic garbage they were trying to sell blew up in their faces today.

    Stare Wares iii - Return of the Shit

    Mystic Mavis, doubling as film critic in the absence of Amanda Saxonheart has predicted a rating of one star for this sequel.

    Freedom fries all round


    He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
    And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
    When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
    And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

    Once again, the lines from Auden come to mind, and one thinks of Bush laughing and his courtiers forcing a laugh, and his and Blair's tawdry and hollow "emoting" on demand.

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Memory of the hands

    Mystery of the silent, talented piano player who lives for his music

    "Doctors examined the man, who appeared to be in his 20s or 30s, and found nothing wrong with him, but still he failed to respond to questions. He was difficult to assess as he appeared terrified of any new face, sometimes rolling himself into a ball and edging into a corner."

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    Some woman's yellow hair

    has maddened every mother's son

    Niamh. How I yearn for Tir na n'Og. The breast. The shoulder. The fair shoulder. But I had to return to Ireland, and wear a thousand years. The myth of guilt was stronger than the myth of love. Are you still there, in Tir na n'Og, are you waiting?


    How to be British - advice for foreigners

    with Malachy Dunhill

    A handy guide for visitors, especially authors who may have to visit the island of Britain to bring the light of literature back from across the Atlantic to where it has partially died out in "the ould sod." As well as sensible sexual hygiene practices, it is also a good idea to know a bit about the natives, their likes and dislikes. Don't be fooled by his inoffensive demeanour, Tommy is not a man you would want to have as an enemy.

    Be Impassive

    Try to get to know a little bit of our culture and you'll find things will go better on your trip. Tone down your voice by a few decibels when you infest our shores, and don't argue with hotel staff. Never wear check, plaid or plastic macs. Remember we Brits are jaded, blasé, and not in the least interested in petty annoyances, so don't become one. If the service in your hotel is bad, simply accept that you have no savoir faire, and made a bad choice. We have a saying here, which you would do well to memorise, and that is "Shite occurs."

    Also Be Hysterical
    Decide your habiliment of hilarity early and swathe yourself in it on all social occasions. Should your mien gravitate towards the pompous, you may choose something from the house of John Cleese.* As an opening gambit with a bit of fluff at a do, refer to an unrelated item in the manner of the Dead Parrot Sketch. Faced with a wilted lettuce leaf, a Briton from the school of Cleese will invariably declare, "This is an ex-legume, it is sadly etiolated, in short it is dead." You will not be out-of-place afterwards, when sufficient chardonnay has been quaffed, goosestepping around mein host's hallway and bellowing, "Don't mention the war."

    For a more contemporary effect, you can be David Brent from The Office, the entire Fast Show - "Ooh suits you!" - or if you have the talent for mimicry that you think you have, big up for Ali G "in da house". If you are a real connoisseur of all things purely British, you will probably choose to affect a modest air of Alan Bennett. Choose your comedy well, laugh like a drain at your own jokes, and remember that to be British is to draw first prize in the tombola of talent.

    Wear a Powdered Wig and Tights

    Remember to call attorneys "barristers" when translating into the local patois. Britain, or more precisely the main bit of it known as England and Wales, is run by a coterie of these witch doctor-like figures, also known affectionately as "old boys." Easily recognised in their black robes, powdered wigs, tights and garters, they have something in common with Pantomime Dames, but I will save that subject for another article. A significant proportion of them these days are real women.

    Barristers are a protected species held mainly in London, in a Royal Park called the Inns of Court, where their numbers are carefully managed. The process of becoming a barrister involves "eating a number of dinners" at the Inns. Whether that is a euphemism or a literal procedure, I dread to think. Some cursory acquaintance with legal precedent is expected as a matter of good form, but the chief attribute required is an olympian ability to make the implausible sound really quite likely. In their spare time, barristers also run the nominal government of Britain from the nearby Palaces of Westminster.**

    Within the Inns of Court***, there are miles of ancient squares, buildings and alleys stretching from Temple near the Thames Embankment all the way to Grays Inn Road, a mile or so to the north. These cobbled lanes and squares are full of the ghosts of Samuel Johnson, Boswell, Dickens and I can't think of anyone else. --Oh yes, myriad newly poor litigants.

    *Further studies in Hysteria: see "Spamalot".
    **Known to all London taxi drivers as the Palace of Varieties.
    ***Inns of Court: Not many people know what a wonderful little world is here, which has been around for a very long time, and judging by the stone construction of the buildings and alleys, will be for a very long time yet. So here are some pictures by London-based photographer Onion Mbeke, to give you some idea of the place.

    One of the delights is this fountain in Fountain Court near Temple. It is shaded by two ancient mulberry trees, now almost horizontal and both propped. You can see the prop holding up one of them in this picture.

    Also on view is a marvellous open-air exhibition of hundreds of expensive German cars, as well as a few Range Rovers, Jaguars, Bentleys and the odd Aston Martin.

    His Lordship, the minister for graft

    Blair crony minister's tax dodge

    "Three separate trusts in the name of Drayson, his wife and father-in-law, included almost half of the £90m-plus the family raked in from the sale of the controversial drug firm Powderject.
    Three yeas ago, Scotland on Sunday revealed that the peer made a £50,000 donation to the Labour Party two months after Powderject won a £17m NHS vaccines contract at a price four times that of the previous deal. His close relationship with the New Labour establishment provoked further uproar when the company won a £32m deal to provide enough smallpox vaccinations to protect the UK population against a germ-warfare attack."

    You voted for this, you arses. Tug your forelock to His Lordship, the unelected minister for ripoffs and graft.

    She's back - with a big new column!

    Helpful Hints with Mona Bone-Jakon*

    No. 1: Never got lost again in a strange city

    If only you could carry that map from the station. But wait, you have a digital camera, so you can. Simply take a picture of the map and later you can use the zoom button to look closely at the streetnames if you lose your way. I had to go to Bolton this week to supervise a victim reparations encounter between some local skinheads and a small child they'd set fire to. I'd forgotten to take a map with me, but I had the camera, so Hey Presto - another instant result!

    *Mona is a self-qualified counsellor who specialises in Instant Result Therapy.

    Victory for the Willesden Herald

    It was the Willy wot done it!

    DTI loses its crappy new title after one week

    "Failing to see the funny side yesterday was Richard Wilson, head of business policy at the Institute of Directors. 'The government is degenerating into a circus and the clowns have taken charge.'"

    The Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry has been renamed the Department of Trade and Industry. Stand by for next week's name.* Another victory for the Willy, one of whose many mottoes is Tomorrow's News Yesterday.

    The government broke under the pitiless onslaught of ridicule from your super soaraway Willy.

    *Papergen? (Ed)

    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Sun burns hole in roof

    From Willesden Observatory this week comes dramatic proof of global warming.

    Ruigoord international poetry festival (online radio)

    You can listen to the whole of the poetry festival on web radio, just go here: and click on Radio. Sunday starts at 1pm GMT until after midnight. Monday same times. Most of the English speaking poets are on on Sunday afternoon and evening. Monday it will the turn of the Dutch and Belgians.

    (Thanks to Barry Fitton, author of Amsterdam Nights.)


    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Never mind sudoku, try Darwin's puzzle

    Multi-eyed jellyfish helps with Darwin's puzzle

    "Box jellyfish, or cubozoans, are bizarre, highly poisonous predators (New Scientist, 8 November 2003, p 34). 'These are fantastic creatures with 24 eyes, four parallel brains and 60 arseholes,' says Dan Nilsson, a vision expert from the University of Lund in Sweden."

    Let the creationists explain that one.

    Babble, Burble and Massacre

    Kentucky Fried Cruelty ad breaks record with 910 complaints

    "The KFC advert, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty to promote the Zinger Chicken Salad, has garnered 910 complaints in less than two weeks."

    Yes, the advert is disgusting, and so is the product and so are its promoters. They make a lot of people sick. Congratulations and Bleacchhh!

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Geoff Hoon is a liar


    The shameless liar Hoon is on Radio 4 as I type this, saying that Blair's leadership wasn't an issue on the doorstep amongst Labour voters in 30 constituencies that he visited during the general election. "It may have been an issue at Westminster, among the chattering classes." Is the man a moron or an inveterate fraud? Both. This is why the word "hoon" now means a blatant and outrageous lie.

    Benedict Pope

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Free the beagles

    Baby girl rescued by dog (Reuters, Nairobi)

    "The dog carried the baby in her mouth across a busy road and set her down beside her puppies in the compound of the family's iron sheeted shack."

    And did those feet, in ancient time...

    Archaeologists Find 2,000-Year-Old Shoe (ABC News)

    "near Wellington in southwest England" (haha)

    Ed's been looking for that everywhere.

    The plant that time forgot

    Jurassic Bark: Tree Is Back From Dead

    "A tree dating from the dinosaur age and thought to have been extinct for two million years is alive and back - in London." (Sky)

    Book launch and poetry reading (press release)

    Anthology Books, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
    Thursday, 19 May, 6PM
    Free and open to the public.

    Anthology Books is pleased to host the Dublin book launch of two fine volumes of poetry, Tracking a Ghost, by Nessa O'Mahony, and Blood, by Nigel McLoughlin. Both poets will be on hand to read from their work and to sign copies of their publications (both volumes published by Bluechrome, 2005).

    Nessa O'Mahony was born in Dublin and currently lives in North Wales. Her first collection of poetry, Bar Talk, was published in 1999. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and reviews such as Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, and The Clifden Anthology, among others. Ms. O'Mahony was joint winner of the Kerry International Summer School Poetry Competition, and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Award. In 1997, she won the National Woman's Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Sunday Tribune / Hennessy New Irish Writing Award.

    Trapping a Ghost (Bluechrome, 2005), Nessa O'Mahony's second collection, explores the tensions that exist in the boundaries between past and present, flesh and spirit, poetry and narrative, inheritance and self-determination, family and artistic identity. In her poetry, ghosts exist alongside the living, reminding them of their ancestry. Stories abound, of civil war romances and heroic exploits, of old religions and new beliefs, of past love affairs, of future lives.

    Nigel McLoughlin is a native of Enniskillen. He is the author of the poetry
    collections: At The Waters' Clearing (Flambard / Black Mountain, 2001) and Songs For No Voices (Lagan, 2004), and the editor of an anthology of new Irish poets, Breaking The Skin (Black Mountain, 2002). His third collection, Blood, has just been published by Bluechrome Publishing.

    Nigel McLoughlin's writing is technically crafted with a concern for the traditions of his art, combined with an instinct for significant modern themes. He produces work which shows clearly his vision of loss and cultural decay, invasion and violence. Mr. McLoughlin has a unique talent for entering the metaphoric hinterlands, and dealing with lasting themes in the manner of the modernist myth-maker. He consistently provides a highly symbolist and symbolic account of the mythology and history of his society, opening it out into vigorous relation with our post nine-eleven era of nervousness and fear.

    Many thanks go out to Temple Bar Properties for providing refreshment for the Nessa O'Mahony and Nigel McLaughlin reading and book launch.


    Oh Gilbert! Oh Sullivan! You should've lived to see this

    Bureacratic makeover

    "The Department of Trade and Industry yet again has a new secretary of state and a new mission. It is to be renamed the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry, and 'refocused and reinvigorated' to play 'a greater role on productivity'. Nobody in Westminster, Whitehall or business admits to having the faintest idea of what it all means." (FT)

    The perfect marriage of stationery and stationary. You voted for this, you arses!

    Government shoots itself in the arse

    Horseshit tax

    "... Equestrian businesses which compost muck to use as fertiliser, will have to obtain a permit costing up to £500 ... The move ... comes into force in July." (Sky)

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Sir, I salute your courage*

    Diamond Geezer on Galloway

    "It's not even that I think these people are lazy, or mendacious, or offensive, although they are all these things too. No, the key trigger that makes someone contemptible in my eyes is a self-centred nature that refuses to recognise or appreciate any other viewpoint, coupled with a total inability to utter the word 'sorry'. And, perhaps more importantly, a superhuman and irresistible charisma that lures others into a state of unquestioning adoration, making their followers oblivious to any external voice of reason."

    Part of a brilliant diatribe by the prodigious Diamond Geezer.

    *From Galloway's arselicking of Saddam Hussein on TV in 1994.

    Send in the fly-tippers

    Huge radioactive leak closes Thorp nuclear plant

    "Recovering the liquids and fixing the pipes will take months and may require special robots to be built and sophisticated engineering techniques devised to repair the £2.1bn plant." (Guardian)

    More pictures from Trigonos


    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Cast live votes not dead ones

    We have to box clever to get rid of this pestilential shower. They have betrayed the Labour party and this country, and put Britain's armed forces at the disposal of the corrupt and uncaring Bush oilers.

    Enough innocent families have been cluster-bombed, enough pensioners have been bankrupted, enough patients have been killed by MRSA, enough money has been ripped out of students' and their families' wallets, enough teachers have been assaulted and abused, enough quangos have falsified enough reports, and enough statistics have told enough damned lies.

    Enough is enough.

    Fringe benefits for Hay festival

    Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports

    "'What's a festival without a fringe?' is the plaintive cry coming from the Hay-on-Wye Poetry Bookshop. The owner of the shop, Melanie Price, has put out a rallying call for other businesses, artists and venues in the town to join her in developing for the first timea coherent fringe programme for this year's Hay festival, which starts at the end of this month."

    I can think of more than one small press that would like to be involved.


    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Heads you lose, tails they win

    No matter whether the Tories or New Labour win, you get a conservative government. Blair is a conservative and he's implementing Tory policies, so there is no additional danger in voting Tory that isn't already a danger in voting Labour. The only way to stop Labour from continuing to be Conservative wolves in Labour sheeps' clothing is by voting to excise Blair's invasive cancer from the party. Fear of Tory-ism is the very thing that allows you to vote tactically for either Howard or Kennedy in order to get rid of Blair. If you vote for a New Labour candidate out of fear of the Tories, it's just a stupid vote for the secret New Labour Tories who are laughing all the way to the Treasury. Make sure that whatever else happens Blair is seen to be rejected and has to resign. The best (not the worst) that can happen is that New Labour will be administered a dose of Liberal emetic and have to spew out the poisonous entryist usurpers of the Labour tradition who are killing the party. And remember, every one less Labour MP strengthens the Liberal Democrats, no matter that there is one extra open Tory, and one less hypocrypto Tory. That will be the Herald's new slogan, "Hypocrypto Tory Nono."

    Millions who marched, march again on Thursday

    One last battle

    Between one and two million of you marched for over 6 hours on a freezing cold day to try and prevent the war, but those in government only listened to their masters in Washington. Vote however you have to in your constituency to excise this traitorous cabal from parliament.

    In Sedgefield support Reg Keys, seeking justice for his son, killed in the unwanted and illegal war. Don't bother voting for the third party if you are in a Labour constituency, vote for the second party. Otherwise you will let these bloodstained traitors in by the back door. The only way to get the Liberal Democrats a share of power is by voting for Conservative candidates where they can defeat individual Labour MP's. Tories, vote for your Liberal candidate if he or she is in second place to a Labour MP!

    Everyone who wants justice for the people of this country will have to use his or her brain to ensure that on Thursday night we may witness the downfall of the odious imposters and liars who are trying to hold power over us for another five years. Keep walking, don't stop, don't fall to your knees now - the goal is almost attained. Bring home the 8,000. Make yourself heard. Win for the marchers, win for the anti-war people, smash the craven puppets.

    Good people abed next week in England will think themselves accursed that they were'nt here on this Thursday, if they don't get up off their palliasses and vote!

    Willow fence peril*


    Oh yes, they might look innocent enough, but don't be fooled.


    The fences of Wales are being eaten by these hooligaaaans. Thanks to our special correspondent for deigning to let us have his reject pictures.

    *Our science correspondent comments: It would appear that the lambs are self-medicating by chewing the willow twigs, which of course contain salicylic acid, i.e. aspirin. (Prof. Kronk)

    Maybe they're teething? (Ed.)


    Ranns across the water

    "Poets from Ireland and Wales are creating a bridge made of words between Eire and Cymru."


    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Ranns across the water


    Just back from a writers weekend there. A most remarkably beautiful place and a very, very pleasant vegetarian experience amid fields of sheep and sportive lambs. A Welsh heaven altogether. I could happily spend my whole life there, if only I had the wherewithal. Luckily it's not for sale, it's there for the poets and their gambolling iambs. Poets from Ireland and Wales are creating a bridge made of words between Eire and Cymru. I don't know why I'm blessed with totally undeserved joys such as last night's readings in the new Galeri at Caernarfon by the inspirational Gwyn Parry, who had some Welsh poems and some in English, the formidable Eabhan O'Shuilleabhan a stern and sharp writer, heartwarming Nessa O'Mahony's amazing captured ghosts, and top of the bill a marvellous Irish poet Jean O'Brien. I couldn't understand a word of Ifor Ap Glyn, being a complete ignoramus where Welsh is concerned (which I would like to change) though to be fair he handed out translations of his pieces, which I haven't read yet.

    I wish I could show you more of the pictures I took, but I'm a little baaaashful.

    It was the first writers' weekend organised by a certain group of poets who live around the Nantlle valley. Organisationally it needed a bit of clairvoyance to know what was happening, and what else would you expect from something "organised by poets"! (Imagine a smiley face here.) But those were just little teething troubles with the event. I was one of two people from London, the rest were mostly from Ireland, having bought a package including the ferry to Holyhead. We were fed vegetarian fare throughout and soya milk and fancy teas and all that, very nice sweets too. The location is a Welsh garden of Eden, in short. Beside a lake, with the clouds putting on a show over the surrounding mountains every morning, and Snowdon appearing at the end of the valley sometimes. It's also slate world, more slate than it's easy to imagine. We had workshops with local poet Gwyn Parry and also with Jean O'Brien. Poets Nessa O'Mahony and Eabhan Ni Shuilleabhan with connections to the centre were also on hand. I got a copy of Nessa's second book, "Trapping a Ghost". Jean is a well-known and distinguished poet in Ireland. I was able to grab a copy of her third collection, "Dangerous Dresses". I had to be quick. People were buying copies not singly but in threes and fours.