Thursday, 26 November 2009

Diary of an Unborn Writer # 38.2 - Happenstance

The artist is arrogant because he has seen what it is to do nothing and be beautiful.

But at some point the spring ran dry and artist was left doing nothing and drinking with his friends. The friends that inspired him less than the old ones and required more drink to tolerate.

He needs to do something now, not to tolerate but to find again his spring of non-wishing that when it sprang gave him more than the world could ever need. It ran in rivulets on canvas spreads and writing books.

But now he's drinking with his friends and they take less and less notice of him.

Picture courtesy of Hesq. Thanks.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Diary of an unborn writer # 38 - The worst named decade of the century

The herd was loping in a muddled indescript kind of way.

We were keeping close together and trying hard against the light, not to see it. The plain was wide but we stayed close together and winds blown up by gods aided our ensemble.

'Masanga' the close-by tribesman would say.

And then they began to drift apart.

Though the wind was strong it was possible to turn aside and see the plain from a different angle. The herd was moving, slowly and gently to a cliff. So we began to make a noise, but mistaking it for breeze the herded ones closed their eyes again, folded their ears and kept moving on their way.

The breeze was one of many colours. Sights, sounds, swirls and tastes. Thought streams ushered past by the Gods and in order to not relent, in order to keep the move afloat the herd had, as one, shut down its sense.

But the cliff was coming near and a few spied themselves long enough to jump out the way and others saw their friends and did the same and all of us, right now, pulling ourselves back from a hideous collapse of our species because we stopped looking for too long.

This is not climate (only). This is not capitalism (only). Nor is it social degradation or direst poverty existing, nor all powerful corporations, nor the inter-corporate and governmental bodies that decide our fate (only). Its not biodiversity plummetting (only) or another war fought for geo-politics and the fate of precious housewives' fears before the hundreds of thousands lives in another country.

But weaving through all of this, has been the stream. The wind. The vast god-blown edifice that is the information deluge that our decade more than any other has been subjected to. We're colouring it, you and I, with our blogging and gentle protest chants and our conviction that correction can only come from inner realisation that these colours are our friends.

We're getting better at decoding, deciphering the swarm around. Cherry-plucking inspiration from the dirge and the misery and the stink that suffices for entertainment and the news. We're singing in the rain, telling funny stories again and in candle-lit corners serving organic food, our play is taking shape.

It's a play of longing, of desperation looking again to the stars and not the belly. Feeling in the depths of your very soul that all that was and has been told could be woven right now with a stroke of your pen, or brush or love caress or question to a politician that things might not be as he sees, jaded as he is, becoming the more grey. They deluge hit him most and now governments are starved of ideas, abandoned by their populi who looked elsewhere.

The edifice is crumbling.

They thought the banks were our masters and Barack he thought the same - withholding poverty reducing measures to keep his friends in play. The Tobin tax has a way to put things right by shaving off small sums from vast transactions it forces folk to stop and - heavens, no! - think.

But Barack knows who put him their and on whose noose he will be hung. Another saint goes the way the devil's lure. He made a bargain after all and will keep it until the blood runs dry in Afgahnistan and mothers of victims of vultures screams ask what they saw in him. Again.

The Bush was the one who catapulted our age from OK to disaster with the flick of a retributive switch. We cannot know what was in his mind but it missed important aspects of us and blew up ones we'd rather have seen away some time ago.

Blair in Britain, meanwhile, did his dismal damndest to subject the state to more control and shovel up welfare in the hands of a few. A Labour politician we were told. He certainly made sure those who voted for him kept working beyond reasonable suspicion of his tricks and now hospital parking lots and other frauds charge where before they let you. He corporatised and villfied free thinking. And yes, backed a war that may not have happened if he said no. The long game, said his press secretary. And now Barack whispers about the long and silent war executed by CIA drones and conscripts of terrorists for the cause. Like his grandfather and great grandfather presidents before him. Will we ever learn? Maybe. We're just coming on a little slow.

The Strokes were a happy dawn and the Kings of Leon still sing on. In amongst them Mum and David Syvian have graced this ones ears and pleased while he was doing something else. We had TV shows that addicted more than before, brought raw our social disgraces and made them circuses of the carnal, the stubborn the ashamed. Contests for talent, for before we couldn't find any and home cookery to sophisticate and make social entrepreneurs of its stars.

We found in books and seminars that the system was not there for your benefit, but for you to become afraid. Entertainment was OK because it made you relieved and didn't see the stinking creep and it avalanched into wars and dining tables - ignorance all round.

Sing it quietly while you can but the revolutions come already, it's happening all around. Each time you see a man stop, or a child look puzzled or a free star looking up from their sofa bed and asking why did you have the right to film the murder of my mother, then you'll know it's happening.

The gentle waking up.

The crash.

The unfolding.

The heart's sweet answer to all the mess that it, and not that, is what is permanent. Not the lying, not the rules, the law or the sacrament. The fear, the dying, the wishing and the hope. Not the rage, and not the answer, not the devil's tainted rope. Not you and me, though we're included, as has all that's gone before. And recognising with sweet smile that we're not OK. We're fucked. And dancing in the cracks of that earthquake realisation, we'll find our way to be free.

In this the worst named decade of the century, perhaps we've slowly found our way.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Diary of an Unborn Writer # 37.3 - Bill Nighy

"In the theatre, there are always a couple of shows where you just forget. Somehow you turn off that part of your mind which is out to get you, the bit that undermines you, the self-conscious bit, and everything happens by magic, everything flows, everything's good, every single action you perform, every word you speak, every time you react to something, it all seems to fly. That's the holy grail."

(Picture courtesy of Nicola Dove)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Diary of an unborn writer # 37 - could it really all be music?

Life's moving in confusing streams.

There are connections made and unmade.

And most of all a warming, satisfying lull in the pit of my stomach that insulates against the swarm.

I found myself on Sunday night with my arms around a girl I had fallen asleep thinking about the previous week (entry #36 for those with close attention!). Andrew Bird was on stage holding a violin, the second time a maestro has made it into an entry this early. He was magnificent - like a court jester tipping his toes on electric pedals, looping violin threads and in a suit. He had no shoes on, just socks so he could accurately loop and swoop layer upon layer of strings, plucked or played, though I am not sure if he played a Stradivarius. No one was around to tell me this time

Except B. a little bug in front of me and swaying to Andrew and his support act Jesca Hoop -a damsel of lightning her self. Our cups of red wine resting on the stage and blowing the smoke from our joint into the feet of the crowd to avoid detection in the smokeless venue, lit up by lights and music, Andrew's charm and the notes he plays covering everybody in a satisfying silk.

Andrew was the end of a successful weekend. Successful because it was chaotic and exhausting, involved deep interactions with around 45 people, wine, women and a great deal of joy. I was in Edinburgh - the Mother - whose broad arms from Calton Hill to Arthur's seat (the left) and the Pentlands (the right) embraced me for five or more errant summer's and I dare say some Winters too but we spent those mostly alone and in doors and you never did come round unless I called. There have been a few experiences in Edinburgh and the ghost streets murmur up the names and yesterdays and chorus song of forgotten lovers - on this trip you met 3 - and drinks with old time friends. Warm whiskey in the belly, heart full and futile with conversation. These kinds and their crews you gave up hoping for, for a time - the you that is I, I'm playing with perspective, it hangs looser like a thread - but now back in front of you, their cares, their pleasures merge again in your own, and you find yourself moving from Doctor's pub (where your ancestor's name is written in brass) to the Royal Oak. The belly of Edinburgh where few dare to tread. Your rocking along Infirmary road and a muted jazz trumpet beckons you through the half open door - packed wall to wall with four copies of the Declaration of Arbroath (which made you chill to admit your English-hood) hang on shapes that revealed the tobacco stains when they took the pictures down four years ago for the ban. The ban that drove conversation and the smokers out on to cold streets, except on busy nights like tonight when the band sits in a corner, guitar violin and muted trumpet and you're handed a whiskey glass (painfully loaded with ice) before you make it to the bar and the room goes silent as a man begins to sing the lines of Galway shawl you've heard in the passionate, raw, shrill voxicon of that room a dozen times before.

The evening blurs and you merge with it to return to your host's house for cheese and bread before the plane trip home.

A sleep, a dash and tram ride and you're at B.'s house. The night unfolds and Andrew is sublime and he turns the two of you in to each other and out again. She takes the tram home and you head back to Braam. This is new, this is easy and like the weekend, flows in an undertow of melody.

Could it all be music?

No. The next 9am sees you back at your desk. The grey penetrates the gold little by little and you pour yourself a third cup of coffee to survive.

It's warm.

Today will be OK.

Diary of an unborn writer #33.1 - Could it really all be music?

Sitting at your desk it is Monday and you're humming to Jesca Hope who croons and swoons through one ear and the dirge of office is around.

OK - it's not a dirge. There are good people here and they want good things but the contrast is a little much. Contrast with what?

Dear reader, listen?

Last night you were dancing with B. as the Master Andrew Bird delivered a performance of vurtuoso proportions. You saw him three months ago and this is entirely different, except the joy is the same. He has a suit on and is standing proud with violin under chin and shoes off - the better to press pedals with his feet. He loops sample after sample and cascades over with swings of that fine violin bow. The room is stilled and wonder surrounds the lit up faces from lights reflected off the stage.

You share a joint with B. and surreptitiously. There's a ban in here so you blow the smoke into the floor. She's short, so there's no problem for her but you need to crouch over her shoulder as you take a tug andd the room settles into its comfort a little more. The music swirls around your head a little more and red wine sits in a plastic cup and trickles richly down your throat a little more easily than before.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Diary of an unborn writer # 36 - a night's escapade

There's creativity in Amsterdam. You can feel it walking down any canal, or nosing up against the window of small holding art sellers, massage therapists, pipe shops and saunas. Even the red light district with its ancient cathedrals to sin speaks of craft.

(Photos kind courtesy Morten Årstad)

There are some moments, though, when the creativity scoops all of us and dumps us in a room, a mini-festival curated by a man who played violin from the top of Sydney Opera House on the millenium eve. Even now, in yellow pumps, a dress and a trilby, he sports a Stradivarius violin, with brown zebra stripes criss-crossing the chestnut wood. He's not the main show, though and 30-40 people are listening to a sitar player being accompanied by a slam poet, Brazilian be-dreaded, whirling his hands around a face in a kind of trance and uttering syllable beats you can only just catch before the next ricochet phrase takes you again a comet-space trip.

The man could dance and have a whole room slapping thighs to words. Weaving colours he's accompanied by a backdrop of wine boxes the inside of each has been made into a tiny work of art and placed on display. The audience is dressed in the suits, dresses, wooly jumpers you would expect of bohemia; glitter in hair and faces radiant with the art they look upon.

It is so honest, so open, so receptive and beautiful that performance can be witnessed in this way. Unjudging. To be more deeply felt.

Our performer with his little band claims in conversation after, still sweating from the show, to be from the poetry lineage of Saul Williams . These men are mystics parading with words and weaving an elevated language of the cosmos and experience to give us an idea of the kind of what we can enjoy if we let it all drop and....


There's plenty of love in the room tonight. To the sides, on a the adjacent wall to the myriad wine boxes filled with : sheep's hearts in resin, toy story wonder shows with cotton wool clouds, bric-a brac pastiche charades of purses, letters and golden painted nails; Buddhas in contented pose, Sri Ramana Maharishi*

, ballerina, paintings and newspaper clippings, strings dancing in coils and little flashing lights, like I say all on one wall. On the adjacent one is a table with hot soup, served with turkish bread and butter and bacon. Next to that a simmering pot of gluwein and fridges of beer and happy people serving them. The environment is a blissful space to spend time, perform and be performed to.

I get a little chance at this reading some small poems which the audience enjoyed. More than that. Listened to. Quite a thing to be listened to, I recommend it any time and you can feel these simple words words weaving -again the weaving - through all of us. Happy little dance rhymes uniting and exploding joy wheels in tiny cells and hearts full, eyes shining, they are listening again and ask for more.

What a joy after thirty minutes of effort, a little more to edit and ten minutes on a stage offers such a reward. People are genuinely moved, as I have been by their attention and well the gift that keeps on giving is running through all of us and enjoying itself once more in our tiny little cells.

We move on in a parade of bicycles. Actually I got waylaid. Walking through Amsterdam with a Norwegian-looking man who is thorughly Norwegian, though in a three piece suit; and a dazzling Bulgarian with brown eyes like darts. I got lost. I was being led and completely lost my way. I was walking through and led down streets I had never been before and pointed to cafes and coffee houses sparkling in a way I had not seen. Mother Amsterdam opening her arms a little wider to an errant son who had been wandering a little lost for most of his first year here.

We wander into a cocktail bar and there are flames jumping up against the back wall. A couple sits in the corner, amidst black lights and neon illuminations, fire dancing on their faces as they caress and touch each other, fuelled by martinis and the heat. They are in their mid-40s and it is not a pretty sight. We are a littel less hot in our corner but the shots and tall glasses flow stacked with ice and fruit and combinations of tonics and spirits and coloured, spicy sugared rims. We talk in one of thise huddles as if the world has ended. We connect and share and a happy evening delves a little more glowier, a little more satisfiedly along its lines.

They depart, the soon-about-to-be lovers, and I head along the way. Praising Amsterdam and its sweetness, its electrifying antiquity as old houses and new shop frontings co-mingle with the night and bar goers and stealers from the red-tinted windows, faces huddled in jackets until they are at least ten steps away.

I've been directed to a club that the bohemian parade has moved on to. It's an old squatted place where a password is required at the door. It used to be a sauna for gays. Along a back wall in a back room, after being led through the smoke and folk swaying to minimal beats from the bass - mercifully, they sell prosecco - there are bays set aside in which to have sex. The middle one has a sticker plastered across the door with a warning 'Safe Only' and inside there are shelves to lean up against and black vinyl paint for easy clean hygiene and a convenient space between the walls and the ceiling to look on at other couples. They are empty when my self and an Australian Jim take a tour and it may have been the ultra violet lights on black vinyl paint, but you could not help feel that the walls and floor were sticky. How about some cushions, a bit of incense to make this more of a zone for love than fuck?

Holland never fails to deliver.

We dance and rub shoulders again in the happy pack, there are dancers and fashion designers and people with big hair and it's difficult not to get distracted and amazed by the beauty on show. I talked to quite a bit of it. A French girl throws her arms around me saying she 'LOVED' the poetry and it's authentic. We're not wishing we're something or trying to be a different show. We have been genuinely moved in a room together and take our togetherness and stack it on streets and wall filled with wine boxes, and insignificant ex-gay sauna back room clubs with lights that dance across chests and faces and glittered hair and dance in the bubbles of prosecco I nurse in a glass talking to Elaine, who's trumpet playing boyfriend is out of town. She handles a beer mat like a cock and keeps me at arm's length, kissing me wryly on the cheek as she says goodbye, flirting more heavily because of her unattainability. The single lady never plays like that... damn the sheilas and their games.

I dutifully accept a joint as the evening turns past three and it involves later a mistake when I jump into a taxi howling which way to my home town; 40 km away in the early hours. This brings into focus the tightness of decision, and the need for survival and the instict when you are stoned. He takes me to the station where I plan to sleep on a bench until 5.30 for the first Sunday train but in the warm car his persuasion that he take me to my front door and the removal of so many steps between myself and the train, the train and my bed, does not seem to be an over-priced choice when he quotes me 70 euros for the task. "OK, OK" I relent "but I need food first. Take me to a kebab".

As a Turk, the driver knows the best place to go and I get special service through a window the drivers have stitched up with the restuarant. The taxi driver yells instructions to the man shaving meat from a skewer and I get my sandwich in double quick time, as I stand swaying in the breezeless steet lamp lit night, beneath the sky of a clear moon. A nice warm meat and garlic sauce and salad, dutifully sprayed in my lap to the concern of the cab driver and we're on our way home. The warm of the taxi and the food sitting heavily and comfortable in my belly knock me out and I wake up outside the front door of my house with 103.60 glowing in red digital numbers on the meter.

Scheming bastard must have kept it running while I was getting the kebab, and then pressed the 'Executive' button while I was asleep. No matter. I hand the cash over and giggle to myself as I lie in bed with the clock not nearly at 4.30 am. Perhaps it was worth it all the same. The escapade, the night, the food and the contented rustle of the voice a girl named Britney shuttle through my thoughts as I sleep.

(picture thanks to Lotus)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Diary of an unborn writer # 35a

We sat down together and it was fine. And her son rolled up on a yellow BMX and asked if this was the one that had been out with Evelyne. She probed you gently for details of the tie but easily you replied that she was sweet and that it ended some time ago.

Evelyne, it seems, had gone on speaking about it for a while.

The spilling of emotion from one to another and over again. Missing each other and breaking apart and along. Misaligned. It was not the time Evelyne for you & I to shine.

But she was a pretty one. Beautiful to her depth and it made you think at the time that you could not tolerate anything so pure. You also wanted more of your weekends free and in little over a month together had cheated on her once. Errant soul. She read the blog entry reporting so much and cried and let it pass.

So you are on the bench and she's offering cake that by chance you had in your hand when you sort of accidentally stepped into the organic shop where she works and observed her weighing cheese. She looks up and pretends not to be startled and you pretend you didn't notice and you both grin like fools.

You catch your nerves jangling and hope you don't pull out the reserved Englishmen persona that entertains but is so safe, but it comes out all the same. She just sparkles away in that method that she has and says she'll be free in five minutes. You browse amongst teas and soy-based things and she continues to enjoy looking over to where you stand, and you the same.

You have twenty minutes together, and it's punctuated by her son and no sparks fly, no desperate longing revealed and it's fine. And with a normal kiss goodbye, you feel the glow of her cheek softly fading on yours as you walk into a grey Autumn afternoon swiftly becoming night.

You're having dinner next Thursday. She booked a babysitter. And it's fine.

Diary of an unborn writer # 35

The days are falling back in free flow kind of way. I generally enjoy them.

Work and music. Music and drinking. Drinking and watching the Wire online. Friends, colleagues and UK bands in Amsterdam (singing Hey hey hey hey! GM baby I don't know if that's OK! to expert chord plunges and reawakening my excitement in punk) flitting in and out of view. Daily ambitions living and dying, a lot of good food, Buddhist texts, stolen bikes, large appartment, 7 types of tea in the cupbaord, ideas for a novel disappearing, disappearing if I don't catch them fast...

It is a happy, quiet, busy period. Plans for travel in February and finally getting together a collection of these scribbles playing mostly on my mind.

Oh, and a women. But she'll remain unspoken of until she knows she is being spoken of and then it'll be too late for y'all to ruin the surprise.

The collection - hitherto a floating ramble - is, I promise, coming together. The chief prompt is Dostoyevsky, who else. I am hauling myself through Demons which I find alternately turgid and delightful. Fyodor, I wish to say, I'm yearning for your depth of insight to start crackling in 150 pages time but must we spend hours prattling around Russian society with a trail of in jokes that ran out of steam circa 1870?

We must says Fyodor, and in the arrogance of death, refuses to change a thing.

It was the serials what done it. Former writers earned their crust through publication in monthly editions of high brow magazines. The more serials, the more money and so they would drag out hilarious social commentaries and set pieces revealing of human nature over pages and yards and years, planting seeds that would fully sprout in 570 pages time by which time their army of readers were hooked and revelling in every whim, wit and blemish of the characters on show.

A lot like my beloved Wire. Though that has 47 writers each week. Fyodor was alone and took years.

I am having dream-talks with Dostoyevsky, trying to get tips on how to wade through the trough of his wit and still barely past page 71 up pops Stephan Tromfimovich and the complains that he has all the necessary materials to begin but just cannot sit down to write...

I shoot up from my chair, carefully balance the morning's choice of tea and realign a weekend, otherwise spent idle in the countryside, around the furious tapping of keys.

No one is to be spoken to. All long over due projects will again be postponed.

And this is my joy. Words are flowing, they are funny, they are clever, they are planting seeds that will not be discovered until several diaries time and even within the same entry I am discovering parts of myself I never knew existed. I can be morose. I can veer wildly off track. And no one is waiting with a big stick or lamp to persuade or show me where the track is or admonish my morosity.

I begin to compile my oeuvre piece by piece. Making sense of two years of random word spilling and cohere it into a work. I read sometimes in rapture, sometimes in thrilling self-disgust at what a self-involved tosser can produce. I make it a duty to pre-wince before my readers can, to somehow draw their sting. Although, it mainly brings me down.

I can otherwise surprise myself at the profundity and wit that glistens and goes over the head of 90% of the reading public. This is my fury, this is my castle to cast from and destroy the naysayers, the ferry boaters, the whimsicalists and the blog fiends whose surfing time is so precious they will not have made it down this far (there are only three blogs I have ever spent more than 3 minutes on so I hold them in perfect understanding but, still, contempt).

In looking for pieces to put into the book, I continue to get distracted by those parts unwritten. Those I can perfect. A phrase pops into my mind, and I find myself 714 words later reeling to allow a particular text to flow back on track.

I am now contented that it has.

Dostoyeksky will be my goad, and you, dear reader are my runaway bride running threw the sheets I have cast aside like tissues from a lonely morning spent too long in bed.

It's good you stuck around. Make it back again, you know, for coffee and a rehash.
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