Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In the very temple of delight

I am often asked by readers here (aMToNW) where my writing career began, and who were my influences.

Laurie Lee.

A man who wrote such utter sentimental twaddle that I was forced to abandon my usual surly teenage response to being asked to write a criticism – usually variations on a theme of “boring” – and write a parody.

It began something like “I remember, as a boy, running home through the village beating up old ladies, the way that boys do.” I may even have taken care to avoid repetition of the word “boy”, but I suspect not, as I only got an A-.

Inspired by this, I was driven to contribute to our school underground magazine. The magazine was called “Juggle”, due to this monstrosity that some vandal had glued to the front of the school. The culprit was an “artist” (artist in the sense that Laurie Lee was a writer) called Peter Peri. A working title for our magazine was hence “Perineum”, but this was later abandoned as being a little too close to – you know what I mean. It was here that I honed my style of lazy juvenile trash, and I have clung to that style these forty years. I have not become more sophisticated, intelligent nor wise in my writings. Of this achievement I am very proud.

One of the targets of in almost every issue of “Juggle” was Keats - always referred to as “The poet Keats”. I do not know why this form was compulsory, I suspect it derived from observation of the linguistic quirks of one of the English teachers.

I have never understood why Keats is so admired. He had little to say, (and when I say 'little' I am erring on the side of generosity) and said it in a dull and verbose way.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. No it fucking ain’t. It will crumble and return to dust like all things, including us. Impermanence is our condition, and a concept with which we never seem to be able to come to terms. Even I, sitting here in this perfectly honed and glorious frame, the epitome of evolution, if you will, will one day be fertiliser for a beech tree or chrysanthemum. So, bollocks to the poet Keats.

The poet Keats? Boring in 1967 and still boring today. Will that do, Miss Turner?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prizes for anyone who can make sense out of this.

I hope that none of you missed the rather bizarre new episode of “Lewis” that was on at the weekend. Intriguingly they have moved it to Sky Movies. I think this is a good thing. There are less advertisement breaks. This means that the fucking thing is finished more quickly.

Anyway this episode was almost surreal. It was called “Becoming Jane”. Hathaway went undercover to infiltrate a group of loonies, one of whom thought she was Jane Austen. This poor deluded woman (played by an actress called Hathaway – what the fuck are they doing?) may have dressed as the silly old trout Jane Austen (she is a neighbour of mine, as you well know) but had none of the wit or dexterity with words. Poor Hathaway was meant to get into her knickers, (in the usual rather than the literal meaning of that phrase), but obviously failed, as he was pining for Lewis. It must have been agony for him. I am not sure where Lewis was in this episode. Perhaps he was so deeply undercover that I failed to spot him. However as no one was murdered (the majority of the action took place in North East Hampshire, after all) there was no need for him. Had I been the director then that is one thing that would have been remedied. There are few scenes less likely to have me yelling for a serial killer or a troop of psychopathic Samurai than a circa 1800 country house ball. What a bloody dire scene that was, a bunch of upper class twats moving around exchanging meaningful glances. Either a troop of psychopathic Samurai or Sid James would have done the trick.

I have a slight suspicion that the splendid Kevin Whately may actually have been the female lead, although, if this was the case, then the relationship between Lewis and Hathaway was very strange indeed. I give up. My reason for suspecting this is that the loony who thought that she was Jane Austen often lapsed into an accent that I could have sworn was Geordie. Even stranger, Hathaway’s undercover character was called “Wisley”, which is almost an anagram of Lewis. In one scene, the lead female, who may have been Lewis, joined in a game of cricket. Had she managed to get into the England team, her nickname would have been “Lewisy”, which would have been an anagram.

I really don’t understand what was going on. Perhaps one of you more familiar with the homosexual lifestyle would care to comment and perhaps remove some of my confusion.

I am sorry if all of this is less than lucid. (Not that anyone would have noticed the difference).

Anyway, the episode also featured Maggie Smith and Ian Richardson, and managed to completely avoid using their thespian excellence – quite an achievement.

One of the main threads of the plot seemed to be a conceit that suggested that Jane Austen had a bit of a shagless affair with that bloke out of “Shameless”, and drew on this relationship in order to produce her literary works. What a load of bollocks. They will continue this theme with Shakespeare bumping off his missus in order to find inspiration for Othello, Dostoevski murdering old women and Dickens being guillotined.

More worryingly, if this experiment proves successful (and who is to say what criteria equate to success when we are presented with such dire entertainment) then the next episode of Lewis might find him and Hathaway relocated to North East Hampshire. I suppose that they have already bumped off every academic in Oxford, so why not. If they do move down here, then I shall be more circumspect about my home security – evidence suggests that no one is safe with those two clowns in senior positions in the local constabulary. Please be vigilant. If anyone does manage to bump off Ms Austen, then I am the obvious next in line. I have often considered a career on the stage or screen, but don’t really fancy playing a decaying corpse while Lewis and Hathaway mince around discussing my soft furnishings.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I bloody nearly got him that time, didn't I?

Before I launch into an attack on the padre, let me first mention that I know that he has been less than well, and I wish him a speedy and complete recovery.
Wishes also to Sharon, who has been in hospital, and is not yet back on line.

Similarly, Pamela has been overdoing it, and consequently been more than a little run down. Best wishes to the dear, lovely old ratbag.

Zoe is also back up and posting, nice to see her getting better, if not better-tempered.

(that’s enough good wishes. Ed.) So the rest of you can just bloody well pull yourselves together.

I have grown to rely upon Dave to point out important dates in the calendar, so you can imagine my shock when he failed to report the first day of summer, which fell on Wednesday.

For those of you unfamiliar with saint’s days and so forth, I probably need to remind you that the first day of summer is marked by the arrival on my doormat (or, in this year’s case, in a slightly non-conformist manner, in my garage), of Wisden. This year I have opted for the new(ish) large size, partly to show that I am not so far a victim of old age that I am afraid to flaunt convention. Let me be even more controversial by saying that there are parts of it that I never read in full, and seldom refer to. The section on the laws of cricket is fingerprint free in every copy that I have. I do not have much time for religions that are full of “do”s and “don’t”s.

Whether cricket evokes memories of glorious June sunshine at Grace Road, or 98 gallons of rain on a cold April morning in Chesterfield it is the True Faith that unites us all. No one who ever witnessed a Tom Graveney cover drive can seriously question the nature of the Almighty or fail to understand the meaning of life.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Music, words and parrots.

Have I told you how much I like my ipod? (That was a rhetorical question, you moron, I am going to tell you anyway). It is lovely.

One of the many advantages is that it cuts out external sound. Let me be specific. If there are good earphones, and you put the appropriate end in your ears, and attach the other end to an ipodic device, having taken care to switch it on and play some sounds on it, it means that the telephone conversation of the vile old ratbag 7 rows of seats away in the railway carriage will no longer be audible. You may consider that not knowing how long it will be before he/she reaches home, how well the presentations went and what Anthea said to her in the office might be detrimental to the completeness of your collected knowledge, and I would defend your right to this view, however misguided, but, so far, I have managed to get through the day furnished with ignorance.

I have two thousand nine hundred and eight tracks of music on my ipod. That will get me to my office and back about a thousand times before I need to start again. I use the shuffle feature, which means I never know what is coming next. It is always very exciting, because I have chosen all of the music and know that whatever comes next is something that I like. (User tip – don’t add any music that you don’t like.) So far I have avoided singing along. I wouldn’t mind singing along, but amongst the many traits stored in my genes is a mild form of tone deafness, which means I will never be a professional singer and, unlike Barry Manilow, choose not to inflict my vocal talents on the rest of humanity. (Most of my mother’s family possess/possessed this defect. My mother was profoundly tone deaf and dumb. She could not recognise any piece of music. I had an uncle who was a minister, and he had to hold his hand over the microphone while hymns were being sung in case the congregation took flight.) I also suppressed, today, the desire to get up and do an idiot dance on the 12:53 to West Byfleet when Hawkwind suddenly began to play one of their charming ballads.

However, I recognise a slowing down in my desire to collect the latest boy’s toys. This is a welcome relief. It would be awful to have as one’s last regret the lack of the latest entertainment device among one’s possessions. As it is, I look forward to spending many years at the “Sunny Catheter” retirement home with only my ipod, the complete “One Foot in the Grave” DVD series and a slow internet connection allowing me to keep abreast with the latest news of the health of the Rev. Dave.

Rol has been naughty of late, trying to provoke me by mentioning “Morse” among his top ten UK television series. Not only did I not join in, I even fought away the temptation of doing my own top ten. I have to confess this was not only due to my declining number of “bloke” cells, but also because I realised I would have to list at least 25, and would never have managed to put them in a satisfactory ranked order. Anyway, Rol has a little competition that requires only six words, so most of you will be able to join in with that. (Tom, the aim of this is to sum up your life in six words. I can lend you four if you are struggling.) Please go and join in.

Finally, this highly reliable news source has an amusing little tale. I urge caution in believing everything here, though, because they have got the caption wrong in the first picture. The parrot is on the left.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Coming soon - rhino wrestling from Alice Springs

Following on from the recent tale (brought to you by the leading provider of human interest stories on the net (that's enough self-glorification. ed.)) of the snake-punching Sheila from south Queensland (that's enough strained alliteration. ed.) I now introduce Mr Norm Moreen, a typical self-deprecating Aussie bloke, whose idea of a fun night out is to jump on a crocodile and poke it in the eyes. I'm not really sure why this made the news. I have chased many a cat - including toms! - out of my garden, but I don't get the fucking Grauniad coming round with a posse of photographers.
Those of you misguided enough not to read his complete twaddle every day may have missed the alarming news that Scaryduck is doing a charity run.
Your choice is to either attend the event and give him an intimate massage when he collapses from exhaustion, or to sponsor him, you tightfisted gits.