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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

National Demonstration: London Saturday 3 January

Copied from: Stop the War Coalition

"Israel is committing a shocking series of atrocities by using modern weaponry against a defenceless population - attacking a population that has been enduring a severe blockade for many months." (The UN Human Rights Council)

Stop Gaza Massacre

Hands Off Gaza: Stop the Bombing: Free Palestine
Assemble 12:30pm Embankment, WC2

Nearest tube Embankment.
**Important Update: Please note change of Gaza demonstration time and assembly point.**
Called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative and many other organisations.

Israel has launched a terror bombing against the people of Gaza, with over 350 dead and many more injured.

Not content after 3 days of devastating slaughter, the Israeli government promises more barbarity to come.

The head of the Israeli military says, "This is only the beginning".

The people of Gaza are asking, if this is only the beginning, what will the end look like?

Download the leaflet here

For details of daily demonstrations in London and actions around the country, click here.


He uses the same toothpaste


"He uses the same toothpaste"/Man holds drip for child bomb victim

Britain's "peace envoy to the Middle East" has never been to Gaza.

Business as usual

Business as usual/Refugee convoy bombed

Business as usual/Refugee convoy bombed, mother dying

"...the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza. That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza. But watching the news shows, you'd think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza – a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin – and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story. (Robert Fisk: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Private Experience

"Two women caught up in a violent street riot take shelter in an abandoned shop. A short story by the Orange Prize-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie" (Observer)

There is so much that could be said about this wonderful short story, but I am not the one and this is not the place to do it justice.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Count Arthur Strong's Christmas radio show

If you need a good laugh

This guy has a direct connection to the laughter centre in my brain (if there is such a thing, the titteralamus?). I'm totally poleaxed by everything he says. "Never mind playstations. The people in the Bible would've considered themselves lucky if Father Christmas had brought them a tangerine and Cluedo." (Count the ways in which that is wrong.) He tells the story of Mary and Judas's (sic) journey to Bethlehem and how they couldn't find anywhere to stay because it was Christmas, and had to settle for a pigsty. He's had a similar experience himself in Brighton.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Harold Pinter (1930 - 2008)

Video of Harold Pinter's lecture on the occasion of being awarded the Nobel prize in Literature (46 min.)

Text of Harold Pinter's Nobel lecture

I remember seeing The Caretaker at the Tricycle in Kilburn last year and being duly impressed by it. The production was taut and somewhat reminiscent of Beckett in the rundown sets and characters. There was a continuous sense of imminent menace or violence, and a sort of case study in bullying. [After I posted this I remembered thinking that three or four of the lines clunked a bit in one scene, where there was a sense of the voice of the author coming through rather than a particular character.]

He wrote about power, its fluctuations, development and interactions. In the film the Servant, power migrates with feeble resistance from the ineffectual employer to the butler, through his inexorable and merciless coercion.

Those are the two productions I remember. There were those late, angry political essays and poems that I saw as well from time to time, in Granta for example. You can find examples of his poetry and make your own mind up about it: here.

His Nobel lecture is fascinating both in the introductory remarks about the inspirations for his literary work and separately, when it turns to politics. Others are far better qualified to comment on what he says, and have done and continue to do so. All I will say is that he has me convinced, and I was convinced anyway from bits of what Chomsky and others had already said. For all the good it does.


All comments on Chinese ambassador's article deleted, the website of the Daily Telegraph newspaper has quietly deleted the comments posted by readers in response to an article by the Chinese ambassador to Britain prior to the Beijing Olympics. The article is headed "Chinese ambassador Fu Ying: Western media has demonised China" and sub-titled by the Telegraph "News: Chinese ambassador says Britain 'lacks respect'" (April 13th, 2008).

I was searching for a comment I posted there, because I remembered saying that we needed a period of "just and necessary austerity" and it appears we have since landed in one. (I don't think that any part of the EU should trade with any other country that has labour conditions, human rights or freedoms less than the minimum acceptable within the EU. It's not unprincipled protectionism, it's not unfettered globalisation, it is a policy to ensure the advancement of rights and conditions throughout the world. It should also enable us to become more self-sufficient, without going overboard about it. Anyway, what do I know?)

A Google search for "just and necessary austerity" produced one item, a link to the current article in the Telegraph online sans comments, and a cached impression of the original page, complete with comments including the one I was looking for, which was this:

Why does the Telegraph provide a platform for the corrupt tyranny that holds over a billion people in ignorance and servitude? How can there be a celebration of goodwill with a regime that treats people worse than animals, and who treat animals abominably too? We have mobile libraries, they have mobile execution chambers. Look at the pictures of women being dragged through the streets to their deaths with garottes around their necks, by smirking uniformed assassins who will later shoot them in the back of the heads. Would it have been acceptable for a contingent of Nazi guards to jog through the streets of London guarding their olympic torch on its way to the Berlin olympics of 1936? The Communist Party dictatorship in China has been responsible for deaths in the many millions and continues its absolute denial of freedom and even information to its people. It has decreed that there shall never again be any such thing as a brother or a sister (the one child policy). In the past it decreed that all sparrows be exterminated. It is time that the atrocious tyranny itself was abolished, and until then there should be no phoney celebrations, and no trade either. Let us accept a just and necessary austerity here until tyranny is starved out of business.

I know that some will say this comment falls foul of that "law" that predicts that every debate is likely to deteriorate to such a level that eventually one party will compare their opponents to the Nazis, but in this case I think the comparison is justifiable.

In case the page and comments disappear from Google's cache, here is a picture of them (pdf).


Thanks for the fun

An Englishman needs time - Eartha Kitt

One of those people you could call "a life force", Eartha Kitt died yesterday, aged 81. Follow the links for other, better known clips from the same session. A true but sweet coquette. Check this for a very girlish bit of clowning around: I want to be evil. There is a very spicy vein of comedy in everything she does, almost like an early music-hall songstress. Here is her most famous I want an old-fashioned millionaire. She looks marvellous in it, despite some leaden camera work, when we finally get to see her after some dreary shots of a vast and terribly literal set.

Newsmusic Desk

Boxing day roundup

Completion: September 2008 (building site)

Treetops Nursery refurbishment, 26 December 2008. Sphagnum

2:39 pm, a clear sky. The winter sun is defiant in the south, facing into an incessant, freezing north wind in a death battle for the season.

The north wind lands with a flurry of lefts and rights to the body. The sun counters with a roundhouse haymaker, but the north wind takes it and comes back for more. How long can they keep up this pace?! The frost is melting when they're in the open, but on the ropes the iceman has the advantage. Sunny's stance is impeccable, bent but with guard high. Will the iceman blow himself out or will sunny wear him out with the rope-a-dope? And now a word from our sponsor.

Rinso Macari

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Gaelic lullaby

Judy Collins - w/ paintings by Renoir et al.

The Dolls' Hospital [reprint]

Bless the beasts and the children - Carpenters

There's a dolls' hospital in Dublin
Where shellshocked Actionmen rest
And dollies wait for limb transpops.
It's where ragdolls come to get stitches
And bears undergo kiddie dialysis.
Barbie is believed to have botox
Privately in the outpatients daycentre,
But Ken won't say. His lips are sealed.
Sindy is terminal in the hospice
Watching Sunset Boulevard on a loop.
There's a bench with a plaque dedicated
To the great Robinson Golliwog (
Killed by the cruel marmalade trade)
Where tin soldiers wear their rusty legs
And music box ballerinas lean
Forever akimbo, forever hopeful.
They'll soon be returning to their careers.

Stephen Moran

Next >>

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"All the shops were closed and shuttered"

Sinéad O'Connor - Scarlet ribbons

If you're having that "Scarlet Ribbons" moment, get yourself down to --------. There are two good bikes remaining out of three that were there yesterday (the bigger one has gone). They are both about 28 inches high, one is pink and the other is dark coloured. They are standing in the street waiting for anybody to pick up. Actually, one of them has fallen over now - they were all standing in a line yesterday.

Let us know if you do?

Newsmusic Desk

Whither chestnuts, open fire & Tiny Tim?

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the
hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the
jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges
were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the
fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in
what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and
at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass.
Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as
golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with
beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and
cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:

`A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us.'

Which all the family re-echoed.

`God bless us every one.' said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

(From A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bikes 'r us

If you are within easy range of NW10 in the next half hour or so, and you haven't very much money and would like a bike for a 4 to 7 year old (approx.) for Christmas, I know where three good ones have been left in the street outside a big house - clearly as an offering for anyone who wants to take them. Click Dear Mona at the top left there and email me something and I'll tell you where they are. This message will self-destruct later. Don't ask me to go see if they're still there, it's up to you to do it all.

Update 24/12/2008: The bikes must be gone by now. I'll have a chance to check in a while and confirm. You never know. ... Actually, there were still two there when I looked.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

London late final edition: Competition closes

Update 19/12/2008: ...Gone.

Total 645 entries received. Not a bad turnout, all things considered. The results will be known sometime in the new year. A notice will be posted here after the short-listed or commended have been contacted. So you can keep an eye out for that to know when to check your email. After that it's up to Rana Dasgupta to pick a winner and runners up. If we can find three good stories Willesden will be spared, otherwise it goes the way of the cities of the plain.

Happy holidays and sláinte mhaith! from a London Dubliner.


The post of Christmas present

Mrs Scrooge

A new poem written for Guardian Review by Carol Ann Duffy. Illustrated by Posy Simmonds.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Going, going...short story competition last day

620 entries as the London evening edition of the Willesden Herald is put to bed. Not long left: today is the closing date.

Update 19/12/2008...Final total: 645


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paddington Basin

3:31 pm, 15 December 2008. Sphagnum

Send it as a postcard to anywhere else, with "Wish I were there" on the back.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Competition update, December 15, four days to go

1,000 people have registered their details, 450 entries have been received, there are four days left to enter and there are stories that demand to be on the short list, whoosh straight past the long list. I don't mean recently received only - some are ones that needed close reading, from earlier. It's going to be a great anthology again, I think (there was none last time - missed a year), but we need a few more of those whooshes.

The upload link will be removed at midnight on December 19th GMT + 12 (to allow for it still being the 19th somewhere in the world). There is no grace period and no email or postal submissions. Don't miss the closing of the stargate ;-).


Send gold, we have enough frankincense and myrrh

The little drummer boy - Terry Wogan & Aled Jones

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all. (Children in need)


Shoes and insults hurled at Bush on Iraq visit (Guardian)

There's a video with the report. What did he expect, flowers? Oh yeah, that's what he did expect - eight years ago.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Her blood still haunts me*

I was a Marine, in lots of ways I still am. I was never taught or trained to kill the innocent. Granted, my training was way back in '67, during the Vietnam era, but it was based on the English regimental model from the 1800's. Instant obedience to orders and so forth, but also belief that officers would never issue immoral orders. This did not reflect the situtation I found in Vietnam. True, part of military training is to dehumanise the enemy. They aren't people like you, they are sub-human, "gooks" in effect. The great delusion was that armies fought other armies for military objectives. Nothing could be further from the truth, and WW One not only proves that but changed the way military and political higher-ups thought.

So I'm in Vietnam, on a night patrol through a hill village. The locals know that there is a curfew beginning at sunset. Anyone outside of their hootch after sunset will be shot, no questions asked. A free fire zone, it's called. But there, just beside her little hut is a six year old little girl, naked and peeing. I react by leveling my M-16, but I don't pull the trigger. She stands up, sees me and smiles. She gestures 'Wait a minute' with her hands, then ducks inside her door. I move a few feet closer to the hootch and switch my weapon from semi to full automatic. Nothing happens, 20 seconds, fifty seconds.

Then there she is, still naked but now she's got a grenade in her hands. I don't see a pin or a spoon. She's bringing this to me as if it's a gift. There's a small bit of smoke, telling me its fuse is burning. The kill radius is five yards, and we are no more ten apart, and she's walking towards me.

What do I do?

Do I shoot her and save my life? She is dead, anyway, when the grenade goes off, torn to pieces by whoever gave her the thing. But for me to put a bullet between those smiling eyes and in effect blow her head off, goes against everything I stand for. There's no time to think about it, you have to decide right now, two seconds from now is too late.

What would you do?

No, nobody can answer this until they face it, but it is the soldier's delemma. I gave her an instant death, two seconds later the grenade blew up and I ate some steel. Her blood still haunts me.


You loose a little bit of yourself, and I should have been sent to the nut house by the end of my tour. Yeah, somebody in that house gave her the grenade, somebody else pulled the pin, because it's not an easy thing to do even for a grown man. The Communists had no regard for human life. To them she was no more than a way to strike at us, and everybody in the bush wanted to kill us. It's the same now, no doubt, and it was so from the very beginning.

At dawn we made camp at an old LZ. Two minutes after I left the CO and the Radio Operator on my tour of the rest of the platoon, the RO took a bullet in the heart. He died very quickly. The CO stood up and started to turn toward the report. His bullet was in the neck, and he died there, too. I crawled back to the radio and called for air support. It turned into a minor engagement. We lost two more guys, but they were only wounded, not killed. By noon we were extracted and back at a fire base, eating lunch. Insane.

We all made our decisions, and those who refused the draft followed their consciences. I chose to serve. I expected to die for that decision, but I could never have faced myself otherwise.


* This is a true story. Will has agreed to let us include his account here, for which I thank him. Ed

Friday, December 12, 2008

What I've been listening to/watching on YouTube

I know I've been going on about this, but I also want to add that and iTunes do not show what I have been mainly listening to, because lately it's mostly YouTube music videos, which are not counted. The playlist recently has been:

Leona Lewis "Run" (embedding not allowed): Link

Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down:

Odetta - Cotton Fields:

James Taylor & Carly Simon - Mockingbird:

The Pogues - A Pair of Brown Eyes:

The Incredible String Band - Witch's Hat:

Each one is favourite for a while but some, such as the Duran Duran/George Best tribute and David Bowie "Bring me the disco king" and Blondie (hachachacha) - can't resist - Atomic, terribly louche but so evocative of the era; I can see that there are troubling images in it, perhaps "glamorising drug-taking" (a stupid thing to do) but also what's with the lady with the black eye?; still, for the music. (Some versions of the video cut off the naff intro bars.) Also - partly for the local connection - "Duffy - Warwick Avenue" (embedding not allowed). There are others, too many to list but you can find them all here.

Blondie - Atomic:

David Bowie - Bring me the disco king:

Duran Duran - George Best tribute/Ordinary World:

As I look back through my favourites list, I feel the enthusiasm coming back, but I can't list them all again. Unfortunately some have disappeared (and keep reappearing and disappearing) from YouTube, such as everything by Diana Ross and the Supremes, though I've managed to capture some of them with Real Player. I think the best pop video ever is probably the Supremes "You keep me hanging on", for the sheer joie de vivre - it makes me smile all the way through. So does the live video of "Where did our love go", one of the best live videos, I think, though the audience are like statues and the dancing is a bit lame, but the sound - ah, the sound. I have a soft spot for the Ed Sullivan Show clip of "Love Child" too - a great song and a great Diana Ross performance.

And I've just remembered, I've been enjoying Oasis (how many years late?), at least these two superb videos. "The Masterplan" is inspired by L. S. Lowry's paintings - beautifully drawn, especially at the beginning and end.

Oasis - The Masterplan:

Also this one, "Stop crying your heart out", which would have made the perfect and sinister lament had Barack Obama not won the US presidency in November, which thankfully he did. So we are left with this incendiary, ambivalent image of either doom or hope, not sure which.

Oasis - Stop crying your heart out:

I've also been playing some of the ones embedded elsewhere in this blog, which you can find by scrolling down, and some of the ones on other people's blogs, which you can find by clicking on the links to the right. I don't want to duplicate what others have posted, including some of their own creations and favourites (Mikey's, for example).


December moon

8:09 pm, 11 December 2008. Sphagnum

Monday, December 08, 2008

From An Outpost

I've tramped South England up and down
Down Dorset way, down Devon way,
Through every little ancient town
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.
I mind the old stone churches there,
The taverns round the market square,
The cobbled streets, the garden flowers,
The sundials telling peaceful hours
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

    The Meadowlands are green and fair
Down Somerset and Sussex way,
The clover scent is in the air
Down Somerset and Sussex way.
I mind the deep-thatched homesteads there
The noble downlands, clean and bare.
The sheepfolds and the cattle byres,
The blue wood-smoke from shepherd's fires
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

    Mayhap I shall not walk again
Down Dorset way, down Devon way,
Nor pick a posy in a lane
Down Somerset and Sussex way.
But though my bones, unshriven, rot
In some far distant alien spot,
what soul I have shall rest from care
To know that meadows still are fair
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

--- Frederick Coulson

A few weeks before he was killed, Sergeant Frederick Coulson of the 12th London Regiment wrote to his father: "If I should fall do not grieve for me. I shall be one with the wind and the sun and the flowers." Died of wounds 8th October 1916, aged 27.

He was from Kilburn, not far from here. This and more first world war poetry can be found at Remembrance. Further reading: First World War, an archive with seven days of Guardian and Observer articles on the 90th anniversary of the armistice, including more wartime poetry.

90 years on: 1918 - 2008

Winter flowers

December 7 - 17 2008. Christmas cactus and unknown (marigold?). Sphagnum

The cactus flowers look more spectacular every day, especially on a sunny morning.

Here again again

I think I said this before, but it just came up in discussion tonight. Agnostics cannot say they believe in God, therefore they are a subset of the set of all atheists. In no way can they be called believers, they are merely in denial of their atheism. They cannot be a subset of the set of all believers because their set does not intersect with the set of all believers, they are non-believers, their belief is non-existent, it is a dead parrot.

I don't believe that anybody educated and conversant with manifest reality truly believes in God. Anyone who claims to is only fooling himself or herself, but they all get together and play "let's pretend" and "la la la we're not listening".

I'm not happy that there is no God but then as somebody said, "if God lived on our street people would break his windows."


Sunday, December 07, 2008

London doctor is held as forced marriage hostage

London doctor is held as forced marriage hostage

"Race is on to release trainee GP lured to Bangladesh by family, held captive, beaten, and about to marry a stranger against her will." (The Independent)

The perpetrators are no better than kidnappers and rapists. They should be put in jail for several years to give them time reflect on their brutality, stupidity and criminality. All power to humanity and justice in its war against atavistic bigotry and oppression.

Update 14/12/2008: Bangladesh court frees Dr Humayra Abedin. She is expected to fly back to London this week. Excellent.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Save our pavement lights

Beautiful pavement lights

Covered with ugly, disintegrating concrete

Some of the pavement lights* in Willesden High Road have been concreted over most abominably. The concrete is disintegrating, ugly and hazardous to people out walking. Some of the remaining ones contain broken lights, which is perhaps why unprincipled huxters slopped over the rest with protuberant, amorphous concrete. I love pavement lights and find them one of the most mysterious and beautiful marvels of urban life. Perhaps the planning authorities can do something to save and restore them?

* Also known as vault lights or sidewalk lights (US)

Friday, December 05, 2008

The black wall



Underpass at the junction of Edgware Road and Marylebone Road

"Greed it ain't going anywhere! They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you're nothing. That's my spiel." (Joe Strummer, 1952-2002)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Odetta sings no more

Cotton Fields - Odetta (YouTube)

Odetta (December 31, 1930 – December 2, 2008. Ref: Wikipedia). Associated with the civil rights movement - would have likely sung at Barack Obama's inauguration next month.

Newsmusic Desk

New fastest-selling digital release

"69,244 people downloaded the cover of Snow Patrol's Run in the first two days. ... The new single from Leona Lewis has become the fastest-selling digital release, according to the singer's representative." (Telegraph)

Here is a link to the official video online: Run - Leona Lewis (YouTube).

Time = expansion?

Horizon: Do you know what time it is? (BBC2)

Maybe the expansion of the universe, stretching or growing of interstellar space, either stretches or grows existence itself, creating the effect of time. Then if the universe stopped expanding, maybe there would only be space but no time. So my question is does expansion of space equate to duration?

We're told that the time referred to as the age of the universe, how long it has been since "the Big Bang", is all time during which the universe has been either stretching or growing, depending on whether you think space is being attenuated or increasing.

It is the medium of space, not matter that is being stretched, but matter is existing in a larger space the longer it exists. So each moment of existence is in either a progressively larger or progressively more stretched space. It could be either the feeling of space growing or the feeling of space being stretched that we know as time.

This thought came after watching the excellent Horizon program by Professor Brian Cox, who looks more like an emo pop singer than a professor.*

Helmut Kronk

<< Previous | Next >>

* It's one of those signs of aging when professors look like teenagers. (Time again!) Ed

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tyranny in the UK

Mark Steel: Never mind the baby, just get back to work

The next thing will be an exciting new scheme known as the 'workhouse' (Independent)

Dickens, you should have lived to see this.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

On the pilgrimage to Disneyland

Disney accused by Catholic cleric of corrupting children's minds

" 'The message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt is that our children's world needs Disney,' [Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex] says. So they absolutely must go to see the next Disney movie, which we'll also want to give them on DVD as a birthday present. They will be happier if they live the full Disney experience; and thousands of families around the world buy into this deeper message as they flock to Disneyland. He continues: 'This is the new pilgrimage that children desire, a rite of passage into the meaning of life according to Disney. Where once morality and meaning were available as part of our free cultural inheritance, now corporations sell them to us as products.' " (Telegraph)

He makes a good case. It's worth reading the article. If I was going to be hard hearted I could say that the church's Disneyland probably has more revenue and employs more people. It's certainly a lot more sophisticated. Instead of people dressed up as cartoon characters, it has people dressed up as bishops, priests and nuns. Instead of "tall tales and true from the legendary west" etc, it has its own magic show and its own kingdom. On the other hand, he's right about Disney, I think. Does he suffer a twinge of professional jealousy over crowds staying away from his circus and streaming to the other? [I feel a bit mean for thinking like this, after all we do go to the churches "in our hour of need". Perhaps it's as one of John McGahern's characters says in "That they may face the rising sun", sometimes you can be just too precise.]


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Willesden Herald presents the real Turner prize 2008

Submit your entries for the Willesden Herald real Turner prize in the form of a link to a YouTube video or other artifact of your own creation to the comments below this message. The winner will be posted here. The synonymous annual cash prize for a boring heap of junk is due to be announced tomorrow evening.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Je Thames*

Je Thames/Sur le pont de Waterloo, Londres. Sphagnum

Originally included in A nice walk around London, with about 200,000 friends

A Creaking Hips production in association with Double Pneumonia

* Moi non plus. Ed

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All-time stupidest question in parliament*

The Hon. Brooks Newmark (Conservative, Braintree): "Only three countries in the developed world have a bigger budget deficit than the U.K. Can the Prime Minister name even one of them?"

The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown (Labour, PM): "America."

(Prime Minister's Questions, 26 November 2008, at 20 minutes 40 seconds into the BBC TV recording.)

Shortly after the laughter dies down, the next Conservative (Nicholas Soames, Mid Sussex) asks a question that begins, "Because of his mismanagement of the economy - and there are millions of them - will the Prime Minister..." Was it a heavy session in the bar for the Tories this morning, or what?


* A marvellous achievement in a crowded field. Ed

Friday, November 21, 2008

Live to tell the tale

The eternal adventure: The amazing tale of the Arabian Nights

"Robert Irwin has edited and introduced 'The Arabian Nights' (Penguin Classics), and wrote 'The Arabian Nights: a companion'. The three-volume boxed set is available (price £112.50) from 0870 079 8897"

Congratulations to the Independent on an excellent, informative article about The Arabian Nights. If you have £112.50 to spend on a Christmas present (no, didn't think so) you can buy Robert Irwin's boxed set commentary. I fancy the Penguin Classics one myself. (Hint to Mrs Ossian). There are also brief intros to related works by Salman Rushdie, Edgar Allan Poe and AS Byatt.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Red Woodward in bid for Woolies

Winter Sale: 820 Woolworths stores for just £1

"Woolworths is likely to get just £1 for its loss-making 800-store chain. The decision to seek a buyer for the shops in mid-November reveals that the chain is dangerously close to bankruptcy. It makes 90% of its profits in the six weeks before Christmas and should be raking in cash at this time of the year, selling Christmas goods and toys." (Guardian)

Willesden Herald proprietor and business typhoon Red Woodward is believed to be a serious bidder for Woolworths. The 820-chain store is up for sale for £1 and Woodward believes he can leverage the equity in his publishing empire to rescue this iconic high street brand. "The first thing I'll do will be to bring back the soft ice cream and Oxford Lunch fruitcake. I believe the store has lost its way since it stopped offering those items, and I am the man to put it back on track", said Woodward in an exclusive interview with the Willesden Herald. "And I'll be the first customer for those items as well," added well-built Woodward.

Feargal Mooney

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday, 3 hours ago

3:38-3:46 pm, 16 November 2008. Sphagnum

Brent Affordable Art Show 2008

Hier und Jetzt by Sandra Bussemas

The Gallery at Willesden Green
18th November - 19th December, 2008

"Featuring work from emerging talent as well as established local artists, the Affordable Art Show will give visitors the opportunity to enjoy and purchase an eclectic array of artwork, from painting, sculpture to photography, to prints…etc. Many pieces on show will carry a price tag of under £100, making this the perfect hunting ground for the “next big thing”, or a chance to purchase an original and unique piece from a talented artist."

Can You See Us?
Students from North West College
working with Brent Learning Disability Partnership

18th November - 19th December, 2008

"The College of North West London has been working with Brent Learning Disability Partnership with students who have learning disabilities and a wide range of learning difficulties enabling them to learn new skills, increase vocational competences and gain qualifications. The Creative Crafts Skills Group, based at Stonebridge Day Centre, has worked with College lecturers, Lula Couling-Barreneche, Mary Anne Vaughan and Alison Rose to produce work collectively for the ‘Can you see us?’ exhibition. All the work demonstrates the range of techniques and skills learned, such as: collage, papier-mâché, printing, felt and paper-making and decorative effects. The students have created work expressing their individuality and imaginative reflections on the theme of identity – Can you see us?"

The Venue
The Gallery at Willesden Green
Willesden Green Library Centre
95 High Road, London NW10 2SF

Times of opening
Dates: Tuesday 18th November – Friday 19th December
Times: Every day: 2pm-6pm.

Getting there
By Tube: Jubilee Line to Willesden Green (zone 2)
By bus: No.s - 52, 98, 260, 266, 302, 460

Supported by
The London Borough of Brent and Daniel & Harris Solicitors

Let's reunite Ireland as a British dominion*

It's never too late. Step back, rewind, start over. A united Ireland under the British crown as before, with its proud capital in Dublin and its own sovereignty the same as Canada's or Australia's. I am a republican in the generic sense not a monarchist, but the petty nationalists have divided Ireland. That's exactly what they've done, not united - divided. I expect to be reviled by all sides for this idea, but this is the way to a united Ireland. It does not entail any loss of real sovereignty, laws or anything else, and it incorporates Northern Ireland into the Republic. If you claim to be for a united Ireland, you've got to start loving your unionist countrymen and give them what they want. Within a family, one sacrifices for the benefit of another. We should sacrifice our separation from Britain in order to regain our own unity on the island of Ireland. Does anyone doubt that countries such as Canada and Australia are independent? We had unity before, which was worth more than the present botched independence, but we squandered it. That is my opinion and I might be wrong, but there it is.

Update: Let me put it this way, if I were a classical cartoonist or painter of allegories, I'd depict Ireland as beautiful, innocent Unity being sacrificed on the altar of Independence by malodorous, vicious Pride.

* I'm currently reading "On Another Man's Wound" by Ernie O'Malley, and I guess this blog post makes me a "shoneen". But please remember, I am not suggesting that Ireland be ruled from London, I'm suggesting a way to reunite Ireland with rule from Dublin. We should never have given up on the "Home Rule" path, which would have led to complete independence with unity. Instead what we have done is divided Ireland and "gone off half-cocked" with the present botched independence.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Post Office brand and advertising

James Purnell gives £1bn contract to Post Office Decision predicted to save 3,000 branches from closure (Guardian)

There's a billion pounds flying around, so why don't they build the Post Office brand on classier theme? Maybe something bronze and black, something stately. The tatty red plastic and poundstretcher store image is totally self-defeating. This is one of the best, possibly the greatest brand of all time and whoever is supposed to be looking after it has run it into the ground and made it instead a paragon of tat. They should make it look like the most secure and prestigious financial and official concern imaginable. Instead, even given the incomparable prestige of historic and continuing postage stamps series with the royal imprimatur, they have made it look like the worst 1950's faded red plastic and flyblown, grey-walled hell.


Night at 5 pm

11 November 2008, 5 pm. Sphagnum

"Every year we're plunged abruptly into this wintry gloom by having to turn back clocks. They rob us of an hour from our evenings every day for six months of every year, to serve their wrong-headed tyranny." (Max Bunting, Nibblesthwaite Argosy)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A reading from the Book of Oblomov

On that day Hewhoami went into Jehoozah where a multitude grate him. "Be still," he cried, "for the verse is short but the message is long."

"Tell us, Master, why is it that one person is given short-sightedness and a life of toil, while another, more unworthy, is given perfect eyesight and great riches?"

The Master spake thus. "A daughter of Mishugana was washing linen by the stream of Blurgulgrosh, in the kingdom of Nicknocknickynackynocky when Martin, son of Peter, son of John, son of Nicorette, son of Nagila, son of Edward, son of Lucian, son of Fritz, son of Gangooly, son of Agar, daughter of Michael - "

"Lord, we hath lost track of what thou sayest," spake one of the Jehoozamites.

"Verily," saith Hewhoami, "thou art the truest of all the multitude gathered here. For I betteth many of thou, thousands of thou, didst think the very same thing as this one. To this one I give the name Pontilfactor the True."

A great shout rose from the multitude. "Pontilfactor! Pontilfactor!" Many murmured that it were a bad name to choose. The Master, seeing they didst whisper against his choice of name, sayeth unto them. "Ye accursed! I have given ye a name most unusual in the nations, and ye have spat it from your mouths."

"For ye have answered your own question. Ye have been given short-sightedness and penury in return for your wickedness. Unto the Egregemites will I give 20-20 vision and riches beyond the dreams of Creosote."

Thus is it said, never marry a daughter of Jehoozah, or a son thereof.


Originally posted in Sloe Wine

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cringing dogs snarl at shackled leader

Cathy Scott-Clark: Not such a hero after all | World news | The Guardian

"Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy activist and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma, is the world's most famous political prisoner. She has spent the best part of the past 20 years under house arrest, detained by the military dictatorship she opposes. Her current imprisonment began in May 2003, when her convoy was attacked and 70 of her supporters killed by a militia of government-sponsored thugs known darkly as the Masters of Force. She has been confined to her Rangoon home ever since."

She has been a prisoner for 20 years. Blame the military tyrants who keep their boots on the necks of the people! What an absolute disgrace of an article. Or am I going mad?


Monday, November 10, 2008

From one of the Dublin Fusiliers

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God

In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your mother's prime,
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You'll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To dice with death. And oh! they'll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,—
But for a dream, born in a herdsman's shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.

-- Thomas Kettle

(Born 1880. Died 1916, battle of the Somme. Ref:

I used to have a book of poetry by Thomas Kettle, which I was given as a gift, and it had its pages uncut. I wish I knew where I left it. I must have given it as a present to somebody. I think I know who. It can't be found now for love nor money, just the exact one. It's possible it was never properly published. Of course I did cut the pages, and it had this poem and one of the others I remember I used to like was called "Ennui" - it wasn't mainly war poems.

Thomas Kettle was an interesting character, a leading nationalist who followed John Redmond's decision for his Irish Volunteers, a nationalist movement, to enlist in British regiments to fight "for the rights of small nations" after Belgium had been invaded. It was on the promise of Home Rule for Ireland, which had been passed by Westminster in 1914, at Gladstone's third attempt, but then suspended because of the outbreak of war.

Whether it would have followed had not Pearse et al struck in 1916, who knows? Even in the treaty negotiations later an offer of dominion status similar to Canada's, was spurned. Wouldn't that have been far better though, even from a nationalist point of view, because afterwards they might have voted away the link anyway, like Australia keeps threatening to do? Oh well. Let's invite the Queen to Dublin, it's past time. Let the dead bury the dead. I'm not very sure what it means, but it's something a little short of letting bygones be bygones, perhaps.

The following, if it's still there (they come and go on YouTube) is a lament for a son going off to war, "Oh Danny boy, the pipes - the pipes are calling..."

(Diana Krall with the Chieftains)


New short stories 1

go ahead, make my day

Book promo a la Miranda July

Advert by Gombeen™

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes

The Observer

"Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground."

How amazing. This does sound like something that could take off.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Oasis by L. S. Lowry

The Masterplan (Oasis)

Beautiful animation and brimming with Oasis je ne say woh. We bring you nothing but the best music videos. If you don't recognise the title, it's the one that should be called "Dance if you wanna dance".


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Phew, no rapture yet

It must have been so "frightening" for all those people who were "really scared" of this boogeyman, fretting all the time during Barack Obama's acceptance speech about what horror was about to be unleashed. But - oh the relief! - he didn't close with "and finally, I'd like to thank Sheikh Osama." Don't breathe too soon though, there's still the inauguration address to be scared witless about and the good Lord knows what else. Didn't he say 666 words, no? Somebody please check, because the fearful are getting really jumpy again. Joe the Plumber is a nervous wreck.


Unquiet flows the Tolka

Bridge of Tolka, Drumcondra Park, spelter baluster, pewter spate. Spectre of Swan's liturgy, philtre of Stac's refrain, and peroxide Ida, acid exchange student, your college green a prairie to our Botanics. You sexed me with a buttercup, highly, and yogi-sat akimbo. Oh Ida, we shoulda. I'da.

Where are you now, unbanked in Ohio, divorced in Union City? Do men put their words into your mouth in Idaho? Are you a mother of succour or did you die purple hearted by the tracks in Maine?

I'll seek you high and low in Isle au Haut, I'll trade Manhattan for rosary beads and pray for an apparition, I'll drop into every dive from Atlantic City to shining Z, and go over Niagara in a glass-bottomed boat, looking for my Tolka naiad.

But should all peroxide Ida's look the same, I'll find out what martinis are and drink them dry, I'll down firewater without reservation in the Indian nations, I'll find a night door and wait for you there as longing, unquiet as the Tolka flows.

Stephen Moran
Dublin pictures by Harry Lemon

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Spin this

Obama won (Guardian)

A change is gonna come (Seal)

Barack Obama's acceptance speech in full (Guardian video & transcript)

John McCain's gracious concession speech in full (Guardian video & transcript)

Newsmusic Desk

See also: Yes


Obama elected (BBC)

Yes, we can. (Will-i-am, Scarlett Johansson, Herbie Hancock et al)

Maybe at last we can hear the end of the BBC's interminable yammering about Race, and wishful concoction of winning strategies for Dixieland. The locations covered by the BBC results program seemed to be mostly where Republicans where hoping to gain unexpected wins. It seems it was all in the minds of some gobdaws employed in BBC news.

Plus we had that twit John Bolton with his preposterous hair and moustache, looking and sounding as convincing as a menswear dummy. He said the BBC should sack Rajesh Mirchandani, for the "disgrace" of asking a Republican an awkward question. John Bolton is a walking illustration of the arrogance and wrong-headedness of the neo-con losers, and an excellent unwitting hindrance to any return by them.

FM / Newsmusic Desk

See also: Spin this

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

UFO over Dublin?


Hotel window view 11:27 a.m, 2 November 2008

A picture looking south from the Regency Hotel in Dublin. I didn't notice at first, but I think there's a UFO near the top left. Here is the same window view 17 seconds later with no UFO, and a blow-up of the object.

Harry Lemon

Come on Great Randi - pay up! We claim your $1m. Ed

Night window, Dublin


Hotel window view 7:08 p.m, 2 November 2008

Harry Lemon

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Monster Raving Loony party backs McCain" - claim

(Come on up for) The Rising - Bruce Springsteen (live, Wembley)

Feargal Mooney

Save as draft - post if Obama loses (Ed.)

Stop crying your heart out (Oasis)


Newsmusic Desk

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Friday night without Jonathan Ross

Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand suspended by BBC

Brand is not guilty. Russell Brand is one of those indispensible mischievous spirits, who will always be in trouble, but who is not a craven and dismal lowlife like the other one. If you read the transcript (, you'll see that I'm right. It's Ross whose ad libs are crass and offensive, unleavened by any Shakespearian fool's talent to amuse, which is what Brand brings to the party. A real fool can get away with mockery and revelations - being a real fool is an honorable vocation, but being a professional creep is not. I am not jumping on this bandwagon - the cartoon you see above was posted here a few weeks ago. I've always said the same about Jonathan Ross.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's snowing tonight


11:23 pm, 28 October 2008. Spagnum

If the candidates were phones

This came today in one of those emails that circulate.


Boris: Eat, spend and be merry

Financial crisis: Eat, spend and be merry - this is not the end of the world - Telegraph

"We should remember that the boom-slump cycle is a natural part of our history; indeed, it is indispensable to our psychological make-up. It is like love. It is a basically incurable condition, and we revert to it again and again. First. we conceive the passion - the Tulip Mania, the South Sea Bubble, the dotcom or the property boom - and then we bicycle-pump our hearts with wild hormonal elation ..."

And it goes on. Almost impossible to excerpt - he writes like a dream. He's wasted on the mayoralty. Put his articles in a book and it would not be out of place on a shelf beside Patrick Campbell, James Thurber, or even the great Myles himself.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Calling out the closet racists

What sort of worm of an individual says he or she is going to support Obama and then goes into a polling booth and votes the other way, on racial grounds? Do such people exist?

According to the media they do, but I don't believe it. If they do and if you are one of them reading this, you should be ashamed of yourself. How can such people live with themselves, are they completely craven and despicable? I suggest that there are very few if any such people, and that the media are, perhaps subconsciously, campaigning to construct such behaviour.

The BBC has all along tried to find winning angles for those who have opposed Obama, first Hillary Clinton and now McCain. They go on and on about what McCain has to do, and how some people may say one thing and vote the other way, anything to try against all rationality to see ways of making McCain win. It's the BBC and the unregenerate establishment that backs them that are thinking this way, and it is wishful thinking if not wilful distortion by them.

The reality is that most of the people of the US and the world are backing Obama, not McCain. Let's not make or find any excuses for any other outcome than a massive majority for Obama.


Financial crisis: The collapse of globalisation?

In my not very expert opinion, this financial crisis looks very much like the collapse of globalisation. It is because there are no boundaries that a problem in one region affects the whole globe.

Thus faulty financial instruments have been built upon and tangled up in US sub-prime mortgages and other dodgy assets, both tangible and intangible. It is like the car ferry and tanker disasters that led to the hulls of such ships being partitioned, so that the flooding of one section would not spread throughout and cause a vessel to sink.

If this is the case there is no point throwing money into this problem. Only regulation will fix it, and then the bilge can be pumped out, section by section. It's impossible to "pump out the bilge" now, because the problems are still coming in from all sides.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Poor Paddy Works on the Software

Air: Poor Paddy Works on the Railway

In nineteen hundred and eighty-one
The stripy braces I put on
I put my stripy braces on
To work upon the software, the software
I'm weary of the software
Poor Paddy works on the software

In nineteen hundred and eighty-two
From IBM to Fujitsu
I found myself a job to do
A-working on the software

I was wearing stripy braces
Setting traces, shifting places
Switching cases, I
Was working on the software

In nineteen hundred and eighty-three
I played my Leonard Cohen LP
I went to work for Her Majesty
On poll tax payment software

I was wearing stripy braces
Setting traces, shifting places
Switching cases, I
Was working on the software

In nineteen hundred and eighty-four
I landed on the Shoreditch shore
Me eyes were red, me wrists were sore
From working on the software, the software
I'm burnt out from the software
Poor Paddy works on the software

In nineteen hundred and eighty-five
When Billy Gates was only five
When Lady Ada was still alive
I worked upon the software 

I was wearing stripy braces
Setting traces, shifting places
Switching cases, I
Was working on the software

Then came the old millennium 
All I did was sit on me bum
Raking dosh and playing dumb
For fiddling with the software

I was wearing stripy braces
Setting traces, shifting places
Switching cases, I
Was working on the software

In the year of two thousand and one
Poor Paddy's millennium bug was gone
The sod had to give up his coke and rum
And work upon the software, the software
I'm sick to me death of the software
Poor Paddy works on the software

I was wearing stripy braces
Setting traces, shifting places
Switching cases, I
Was working on the software!

Stephen Moran

Thursday evening


6 pm, 23 October 2008. Sphagnum

It's somewhat stormy tonight. This was the scene earlier, the gathering storm.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Music in the background for news: why?

I bloody hate all the muzak they play when reporting things on the television and radio, don't you? I can't play my guitar and have the news or anything else on in the background, because they keep playing stupid portentous music (news) or other mood music. Why do people who make news and other factual programs have to try and turn them into early twentieth century cinema style productions, when all they have that is real is a picture and text? Who the hell do they think they're fooling, and who are they fooling? But more than that, why? Why, Why, Why auntie/points of view! Does anybody give a damn? Why are we treated like factory farm pigs?


Whoever gets their vote out will win

Don't believe the poll leads for Obama, this is going to go to the wire. The McCain/Bush party will have a high panic factor and will get their maximum number of voters out. If there is any complacency in the Obama supporters, the election will be stolen again. I've just been listening to a report from Missouri and the polls are virtually neck and neck on average. Missouri is THE bellwether state, which means that the Republicans may steal this election. And it will be robbery. And there will be riots, if not outright civil war.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday evening


6:15 & 6:20 pm, 22 October 2008. Sphagnum

High School Massacre 3

Film review: High School Musical 3: Senior Year | Film | "Clive James once said that some cultural artefacts are so bland they 'taste of cellophane'. High School Musical 3: Senior Year makes cellophane taste like chicken jalfrezi. Yet behind the blandness - perhaps even generating the blandness as a symptom - there is something weird and conflicted going on."

It's no wonder there are high school massacres. There will be more thanks to Disney. It's juniors who are watching this crap and thinking it's going to be like that when they're teenagers. It's not. This is some sort of crypto-fascist propaganda, it's a big advert for the consumer society, trying to show how it makes everything shiny and wholesome. It doesn't, it grinds you into the ground, and it's dirty and violent. We should show kids having to form cadres to build flood defences, setup field hospitals for nuclear fallout burns. Let's do the future right here!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Baboon wrecks vintage bus

Jeremy Clarkson causes outrage after blowing up Routemaster - Telegraph: "The presenter, who is known for his controversial views, destroyed the classic British double-decker in a huge fireball as part of his new DVD, Thriller."

He's more known for being a stupid, annoying twat.


Friday, October 17, 2008

BBC iPlayer - BBC One Sessions: Duffy

(broken link) Download available for one week (UK only)

"Backed by a five-piece band and a string section, Duffy runs through songs from her chart-topping debut album, Rockferry, hits include Mercy, Rockferry and Warwick Avenue."

She's brilliant in her own way, unique, and when she hits the high note on Warwick Avenue, it's a classic moment, in a new classic song. Very nice string arrangements.

Bartell D'Arcy

Monday, October 13, 2008

The tortoise and the hare

Plan for a cartoon: 2

A tortoise with the head of Gordon Brown hauls Canary Wharf up a hill to a plateau, passing by a hare with the face of David Cameron sound asleep by the side of the hill, with a suburban house that he was hauling askew in a ditch behind him. The sea is at the bottom of the hill and rising, about to reach Cameron's toes.


Shurely shome mishtake

McCain can't at the same time support the $700 bn plan, which includes buying up the toxic mortgages, and float this new claptrap about spending another $300 bn to buy people's mortgages. It's the same money, is it not, and the same mortgages? Watch out for more hokey promises with phoney funding to try and buy the election.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

No compromise with clerical tyrants

Hanged for being a Christian in Iran

"A month ago, the Iranian parliament voted in favour of a draft bill, entitled 'Islamic Penal Code', which would codify the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves his Islamic faith." (Telegraph)

Read the article. There can be no compromise with such atavistic and moronic clerical tyranny.


Gordon Brown's eyesight is causing concern among aides

Gordon Brown's eyesight is causing concern among aides - Telegraph: "Gordon Brown is struggling with increasing problems due to his partial sight, it has emerged."

I know I tend to blow with every wind, somewhat, but I do feel that I have underestimated Gordon Brown here in the past. I have characterised him as Jeeves to Blair's Wooster, and I still feel there is something in that. However, one should remember that Jeeves was a brainy old cove too, if a little fleeter in response than our present P.M. What I now see is that Gordon Brown's mind is high torque but low acceleration. In effect the contest between him and Cameron is like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, which at this stage is looking like the part where the hare takes a nap, and the tortoise trudges onwards to victory. In times of crisis, a different sort of leader is needed - you actually need a curmudgeon, you need a slow but sure approach, not a quicksilver chirpy chappie.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Nightfall window lights


Friday, October 10, 7:07 pm. Spagnum

Nothing too much, just out of sight

The Daily Download - NME.COM

"'You'd say to him, 'Too much, man' and he'd say, 'No, nothing too much just out of sight.' So I grabbed that and suddenly you could see where it was heading and I followed that trail.' [...] it's hard to remember the last time McCartney sounded quite this ferocious. At times the track recalls the fire-and-brimstone intensity of Spiritualized, while the frantic coda finds Sir Paul whimpering like a dog over scabrous bursts of slide guitar. 'Flaming Pie' it is not.

Download The Fireman (Paul McCartney and Youth) Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight

'Electric Arguments' is released on November 24 on One Little Indian Records."

Bartell D'Arcy

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The correct form of greeting when in N. America

Among ordinary people in N. America, the usual greeting is "Barack Obama to you!" to which the polite response is "Barack Obama and Joe Biden to you!" For extra formal and extra friendly greetings, one may begin with "Barack Obama and Joe Biden to you!" to which the correct response is "Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi to you!" On sombre occasions, grand formal events etc., the ultimate greetings are: "Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi to you!", and a subsequent reply would contain "Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy to you!" [to the original speaker]. For jocular effect (ensure the occasion and company are appropriate) you may add Barney Frank, Bill and Hillary etc, but this is considered vulgar.

Harry Lemon, Travel

Republicans 'gently tossing in the towel'

Video: Tomasky talk: Republicans 'gently tossing in the towel' | World news |

That's not very hygienic.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

McCain campaign: nuclear option is the only way we can win

Sarah Palin: Barack Obama 'palling around with terrorists’

"A former McCain strategist, familiar with the senator’s tactical discussions, told The Sunday Telegraph he would pursue the “nuclear option”, attacking Mr Obama personally in the campaign’s last four weeks." (Telegraph)

Now think carefully, what would happen if people who take this view were elected? Translate it into world affairs. Got your answer?


Thursday, October 02, 2008

First of October



7:10 pm, Wednesday, 1 October 2008. Spagnum

It's getting dark earlier every day, as the earth rocks away from the sun. Strange to think that our few seasons are measured out in the sways of a stony globe spinning, rocking and swinging around a star, which is a thing on fire. (Fr. L.B.H.)

October Song (The Incredible String Band)

Newsmusic Desk

Banking small print: Your savings may disappear

They're always so punctilious about reminding us that "investments in stocks and shares may go down as well as up" but when did you ever see a clause to the effect that money you save in a bank might disappear without trace?


UK & Irish banking crisis: An insurance scheme

Savers in stampede to safety

Lenihan told Darling that the decision to safeguard all deposits at six banks had not been planned, but had been an emergency move to prevent the collapse of one Irish bank leading to the failure of another.

The Treasury said last night that the chancellor had been given a sympathetic hearing. Darling made two calls in response to signs that savers were rushing to open accounts at Irish-backed banks, including the UK Post Office, whose accounts are provided by Bank of Ireland.

Under pressure from furious high street banks, the chancellor urged Lenihan to make the scheme open to British banks operating in the republic.

Guaranteeing deposits sounds all very fine and dandy, but imagine what that means for the banks! They can spend, spend, spend, do what they like, go hog wild, because no matter what they gamble and lose, or how much they pay themselves, it doesn't matter - the government will pay the depositors. That can't be right, surely? I mean, if I had any savings I'd want them guaranteed, is that going to work?

Am I the only one who thought that money in banks was safe before? How naive, apparently. I thought there were regulations and that the money you kept in a bank was owed to you and backed by some sort of insurance or whatever. But nada.

That is the solution to the problem of safeguarding deposits, then: insurance. The banks must pay insurance premiums into an insurance fund and when one of them goes bust, they must cease trading forthwith - like any bankrupt business, not carry on trading while insolvent, which is illegal for ordinary businesses. The more risk there is in their line of business, the higher their premiums would be set. That should stop them from taking undue risks with people's money.

Then the government backs only the insurance scheme, which creates a commercial buffer zone and guarantees efficiency as far as practicable. No direct "guarantee", but a quid pro quo in return for insurance premiums paid to a state or European central insurance system. To work, it must be made compulsory for all banks.

The same advice goes to the US legislators: make your system a free-standing state-backed insurance agency. Don't pour money into a failed system, because it will flow out through the same holes that are the problem, and you'll be down $700 billion, more indebted and still have the same problem you started with.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Inside the slave trade

Special investigation by Johann Hari

"... It took me to places I did not think existed, today, now. To a dungeon in the lawless Bangladeshi borderlands where children are padlocked and prison-barred in transit to Indian brothels; to an iron whore-house where grown women have spent their entire lives being raped; to a clinic that treats syphilitic 11-year-olds. ..." (Johann Hari, Independent)

Maybe part of the £5,000 from the 2008 Willesden Herald short story competition went to help the shelter described in the article? Let's hope so.


The New Writers Handbook, Vol. 2

Advert by Gombeen™
Amazon/Willesden Herald linkThe intro by Ted Koooser is interesting. He was US Poet Laureate for a while. He talks about writing "from life" versus the comparative poverty of writing from imagination. In one example he says that when describing the scene at a birthday party, it's the lace coming away from the edge of a table cloth, or the bent tine on a fork that will evoke it, and not candles flickering on top of the birthday cake. In other words, he claims that imagination will tend to the clichéd. He makes a strong case, but I'm not sure he didn't imagine that lace himself just then, if you see what I mean. It's worth getting hold of the book just to read his intro, really, but there are loads of other interesting articles as well [not to mention the one by yours truly*]. (There Now)

The all-new 2008 edition (Vol. 2) of this annual anthology of best advice for writers is now available in stores everywhere:

The New Writer's Handbook, Vol. 2
edited by Philip Martin
with preface by Ted Kooser (U.S. Poet Laureate)
Scarletta Press (ISBN: 978-0-9798249-2-0)
softcover, 288 pages, 60+ articles

Expert tips & techniques for writers at any level.
"Satisfying & surprising" said Library Journal in a Starred Review of the first volume. Annual readings to refresh your craft and career. (Scarletta Press)

* "Common Faults in Short Stories", based on this article by Steve Moran here in The Willesden Herald. Ed

Monday, September 29, 2008

If we can't do it now, when...?

Joe Biden is a master salesman. I happen to agree with what he's saying - I think. I say "I think" because this guy could probably make me think I'm a Dalek, if he turned that Blarney full blast onto me. I have seen salesmen work and this guy is a master.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Harlesden Road, Friday evening

Friday 26 September 2008, 7:36 pm. Sphagnum

Looking west past the 19th century Rising Sun inn*

* Notice the white van parked outside the Rising Sun. Vans and cars parked there often block the pavement like that, so people have to step into the road where traffic speeds down the hill and round the bend from Chambers Lane. Ed