Sunday, May 30, 2004

One great Saturday night at last

It is commonsense I suppose:

Expect nothing, receive nothing, and you drudge on.

Expect nothing, receive something, and you are pleasantly surprised.

Expect something, receive nothing, and you are pissed off.

Expect something, receive something, and you want more.

At last, a Saturday night worthy of London. Everything seemed dire until I neared Shoreditch, which although not heaving, definitely had a promising atmosphere.

I went into the Joiner's Arms, and was knocked for six. The place was rocking, with an eclectic atmosphere that felt Berlinesque. Only one other place in London has ever given me the feeling of what Berlin must have been like before the Wall went down, and that other place shut down 5 years ago. The Joiner's is usually a dosser's pub, which for a long time was the only hold out against the boring Millenium trend in London (the Millenium trend was stainless steel, sharp lighting, gaudy colours, slick clothing fashion, laugh laugh laugh because you're young, beautiful, and that's what you're supposed to do)

In retrospect, the people there were also remarkably drug free! I have heard that the drug scene is at last withering in London, since last winter when the E apparently became less effectual than Aspirin. Perhaps London is finally weaning itself off those mind-numbing addictions and is beginning a quiet renaissance in the clubbing world that returns to simpler pleasures.

And what a night for me. For once the beer oiled my social graces, or perhaps for once I had social graces for the beer to oil! The result of this was some heavy snogging with a fantastic kisser. Kissing is perhaps the one part of foreplay that most indicates a capacity for Love. This is because it is descended from the feeding behaviour from one animal to another, which is the most basic element of caring, sharing and protecting that constitutes the important qualities of Love. Kissing is therefore the one activity that straddles the two domains of Love and Sex.

It's amazing how you can forget these simple facts of life, and how it takes a good kisser to remind you.

Rolling out of the pub in the middle of the night and wandering through the quiet streets of East London was itself a magic not enjoyed for too long. Did you know that some of the traders for the Columbia Road Sunday flower market start setting up their stalls at 3.30AM? And in the finest tradition of Eastenders, they give you a brief look and just let you get on with your weekend careering.

Then I passed a Mini Cooper in beautiful condition. What do these silly buyers of BMW's and Audi's know of fun? They want to become a feeble component in some ruthless robot. With a Mini, you are a living breathing part of a living breathing car.

Finally to happen upon St Matthew's of Bethnal Green. Beautifully lit, amidst spacious tidy greenery, its simplified Palladian lines looming over you against the warm night sky, to remind you that today is Sunday. I thought I knew every inch of the East End, and this was a rare feeling of romance that just washed over.

The N25 night bus was even civilized, for once! Not crammed with the more usual dangerous cocktail of the dispossessed, the wrecked, the loud, and the criminal.

Getting home, I find a message waiting from Great Snogger. Then I dial back automatically without checking and accidentally finding myself talking to BM. BM had been looking for me, and while chatting, I get a knock on the door to find BM already waiting at my doorstep! This sort of thing never could happen before mobile phones were invented, and it had me bowled over laughing with surprise!

BM isn't a snogger at all, which says a lot, but at least I understand that now. I suppose plain fun and being flattered is okay occasionally, so long as the above rules of Expectation are minded.

Is this Love & the City, or what?

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Desire to Fail

The desire to fail exists as much as the desire to succeed. It is a taboo desire to those who know of it, but the majority of people do not consciously know of it.

What is it? It is the desire to have the ultimate justification for retreat. In a culture that teaches the virtue of striving for success, there is no teaching of when is the time to surrender.

Surrender is considered failure, but surrender does not need to be permanent. Surrender can be a strategic temporary choice that involves a vital reassessment of one's situation.

The alternative to recognizing the desire to fail is to find methods of propping up the motivation to strive for success. These involve the use of various emotions such as Hope and Determination.

Recognizing the desire to fail is to bring into conscious understanding the need for a reassessment which may indeed decide a proper retreat.

Failure to recognize the desire to fail is to pursue success with the subconscious desire to ultimately fail.

Although this explanation relates to individual and personal troubles, it is useful to consider a visual analogy of an army unit being sent to war.

Should the army strive undeterred for its target?

It may, as it nears its enemy, discover that it is walking into a deathtrap, like Gallipoli. Instead of denying its desire to fail, and carrying a brave face into the battle, it would be wiser to pull back, set up camp, re-consider its strategy, and if shrewdly decided, return home alive.

Should its General spur it on, and advise the army to ignore all possibility of failure, with the promise of heroism at the end, when his army knows it has no chance of winning the battle? The army when it enters its battle and begins to experience its rout, will hasten the loss of the battle, in the hope that its general will quickly become aware of the futility, and give the order for retreat.

An analogy using football teams and football managers is equally valid. But here the analogy lends an additional wisdom. A football game, unlike a war, is not a matter of life or death. Consequently, the saying, "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game", logically comes into acceptable application.

It's not whether you succeed or fail. It's not even about how you tried. It's about the exercise you got out of it, and any enjoyment you got out of it. Without having to be earning £30 million a year or having a trophy wife, or having catwalk looks, or being envied by those who need someone to envy.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Rude Forest Gate kids

There is a small Somerfield supermarket about 3 doors away from Forest Gate Station. Outside it there are 2 bicycle stands, which are used by shoppers.

I rode up to do some shopping today, and found two teenage girls each perched upon a bike stand. (Make no assumptions on what "colour" they were, for I have deliberately not said so). I sidled up, and said, "Excuse me, I want to park my bike". GIRL shook herself provocatively and looked this way and that way, refusing to budge, and ten seconds later said, "Can't you lock it up like that anyway...".

There would be no way of locking it to the bicycle stand without brushing up against her. She very possibly was looking for that, so that she could make trouble. I've come across some nasty kids today who are very aware of the Paedophile paranoia that has gripped Britain for the last 8 years, and are able to play on this Paedophilia thing for their own amusement.

A third bigger made-up girl (possibly her sister) was standing by, and she agitated to her companion, "Come on, we're going anyway".

To the bigger girl I turned, and said , "she's just being stubborn, isn't she? How do you manage to keep her under control?"

The two girls got off the bike stands and started walking off, while the stubborn one started singing "Stick it up your bum, stick it up your bum..."

To which I had to shout behind her, "Hey, don't you be nasty! Someday something bad might happen to you, and you never know who you'll need help from!"

These kids have no respect for strangers, and just don't realize that in the long lives they have ahead of them, one day they could be lying in a gutter and they just might need the help of a stranger. But how could strangers be willing to help each other, if these anti-social attitudes are allowed to persist in our society?

Forest Gate of course comes under Tony Banks MP, who was mugged in this very location 4 years ago. I'm not sure how much that incident revised his view of the world. What is ever worrying is that as an MP who is prominent in the ruling political Party, he might not be using his full influence to make this society safe, respectful, and a pleasure to live in.

It's all very well for him, as he is a healthy fit man. I think he is considerably genetically physically fitter than I am. Nonetheless I can just about endure intimidation I come upon in the streets. How is it for a 70-year old 110-pound woman who needs to go to the supermarket to do her shopping? Or how is it for a short skinny 20-year old guy who happens to be struggling with the 'flu? Or for a burly 30-year old immigrant labourer whose English is marginal and who has a foggy understanding of British Age of Consent laws?

Dear Tony, if you haven't completely left the Sixties behind, please hurry up and move on. Forest Gate still needs work. And you are its Member of Parliament.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

My very own ridiculousness

Made a trellis today from homegrown (in the garden) hazel. Local materials and local resources define local culture. Coated it with raw linseed oil. It made me feel very chuffed. Also was gardening at Simon's which made me feel like I was working. I felt good. Healthy, recovered from viruses, free of the pangs of need for that four-letter thing called Love. I was quite convinced I could abandon this blog, this quest for love, this ridiculous, impractical nonsense, and embark on some narrow, ignorant, psychopathically focussed pragmatism.

And then I'm cleaning up my computer and I come across pictures of The Belgian. Totally forgotten, only existing in the archaeology of my mind. He was a short-lived affair, while I was estranged and briefly single five years ago. He somehow did the Heineken thing - no one else has ever managed to reach my pinnacles of ecstatic sensuality.

The instantaneous reaction to seeing his photo was of feeling crushed at my own stupendous imbecility. The freakishly volatile eruption of irrationality on my part that blasted the affair in the space of 20 minutes; it was the one time in the last 15 years that I had so tempestuously burned a bridge with a lover, throwing every can of fuel and every stick of dynamite at it, and walking away without scarcely looking over my shoulder.

No wonder I need to write about Love. It makes no sense to me, that after all these years, I can once again look at his photograph and be reminded why I was so enchanted by him.

These people in our history, these islands that we have cast adrift, buried hastily in our minds for some urgent instinct, must surely be a vital part of our subconscious if a split second of looking at their photograph can suddenly bring upon an avalanche of remembrance.

So after this moment of reflection, I shall return to Ignorant, Atonal, Mathematical, Pragmatism.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Mars, Venus, and the other planets

They say that women are from Venus, and men are from Mars.

Well, you could postulate then that gay men are from Uranus, although some of them live so close to the heat that they may be from Mercury, and some are so stone cold, they must be from Pluto.

Planets aside, are men really only interested in sex? Are they capable of love? Of course they must be, but the spectrum of malekind is very wide, and some are not capable of love at all, while others are shining examples whose lives as family fathers are there for all to envy.

This blog is titled Love & the City, and was originally done so as a counterattack at Sex & the City. I believe that there has been a deficit of attention given to Love, by those that sell us the things we consume. The fashion for sex that started in the Fifties and Sixties, has long since passed its peak, but strangely, society seems to be in a limbo where neither good sex matters any more, nor does intelligent Love yet make any headlines.

It's a weird, empty place to be. Almost as pointless as the Beagle, sent through miles of empty space, only to land and then be fruitless.

Where are the great thinkers that once dominated the literary world? What are they doing, getting obese on factory food? Pretending to be gardeners at the Chelsea Flower Show? Do they have nothing to say on the subject of Love? Do they leave it to the Church of England vicars to hopefully dust off old sermons that use a language which nobody has spoken in decades?

Perhaps they were such great thinkers that they never bothered to explore those most basic elements of humanity. Like snobs in their intellectual specialities, they lost touch with the ABC's of simple human needs. They left it to the Beatles, the Pop Idols, the bellowing Divas, the Shirley Bassey's, to expound on things in a primordial language that never goes beyond the wanting. Perhaps Western society depends on its citizens to always want things, and never receive those most basic human needs.

So that there is always more demand for shopping, and so that the Economists will keep their jobs.

Not good enough.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

James O'Brien LBC and Womb Substitutes

Today on his show, James was having one of THOSE mornings, the type where you wake up with a bear's head, or a hangover, or the fatigue of a cold. What's great is that he performs best under these stressed conditions. Thus completely lucid and unassailable, his show today was a tour de force.

Following Ken Livingstone's public condemnation of 4x4's (also known as the Chelsea Tractor, the category covers Jeeps, People-carriers, and SUVs), James completely bashed the selfish use of these gaz-guzzling monsters for Mommy's Urban Journeys.

Most significantly, he described them as WOMB SUBSTITUTEs! Oh dearie me, I died laughing! This of course is the female equivalent of the PENIS SUBSTITUTES which are driven by men, namely flash sports cars.

In other words, while men with small penises need fast cars to compensate, women with small wombs are needing 4x4's to augment their lacking fertility and wanting maternal instinct (this for example includes the too-posh-to-push-club)!

He then launched into an eloquent description of how society needs to stop its most selfish members from getting on top over everyone else. I wish I had a memory for verbatim quotes or at least a tape recording, because the best thing about him is that he puts across an idea more succinctly than anyone else.

James however does have one deep weakness which came to light today. It is common to many people in the verbally-intelligent professions of journalism, media, and politics. He doesn't really seem to understand money, or material resources, although he at least is aware of his ignorance in this area.

This was demonstrated by the other topic of his program today which focussed on the warning by the Council of Mortgage Lenders that interest rates will have to double to slow down the housing market. James betrayed his naivete in economic matters by only just catching on with the government's game. Theirs is the political trick of stealing credit for the "healthy" consumer economy while interest rates were low, but then to distance themselves from the Bank of England now that interest rates are on the rise.

The funny thing is that James himself, instead of a caller, gave the best indication of how successfully the government has been playing out this mass delusion. James said that we'll probably be told to blame "Eddie George" now that interest rates are going up.. BUT EDDIE GEORGE RETIRED ALMOST A YEAR AGO. This is a shining example of how little focus there has been by the popular media on the intrinsic shapers of the British economy, that James O'Brien is himself nearly a year behind the times.

How many times do you have to explain to people that they only need to read Anthony Hilton of the Evening Standard, or even Patience Wheatcroft of the Times, so that they can keep the money-grubbing Shylocks of London under control?

Friday, May 21, 2004

in da style of current school leafers

dint do much today. woz tired. all da sun gone, jus clouds an rain.

had a mild virus, had 2 sleep a lot. tidied up my bedroom. dint go out at all. nothing on telly.

dey want us to go to electrocution classes, so weez can speak betta? Will dey charge 4 dat, hey man?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Glorious Mediterranean Day

Utterly beautiful day. Until late afternoon it was crystal clear blue sky, and still, and nearly hot. So divinely beautiful is a day like this, you almost feel like singing an Anglican hymn! If I were King, I would declare such days to be impromptu National holidays.

Cycled to Woodford Green, and typically, because of the summer, there were some truly stunning people that caught my eye.

Days like this make you realize how fearful are the winter months in England. Grim, dour, downright depressing. Then spring launches and we have this fabulous weather, and suddenly, parts of you burst into leaf and you dare not remember winter.

If it could be wrapped up and packaged and sold, there would be no need for all this rubbish that constitutes our materialistic economy. Although there is a new species of Man evolving that apparently is self-breeding for its success in tall office buildings and air-conditioned cars and concrete roads.

I want to be in a glider.

The police have almost finished clearing up their examination of the site. I expect the Corporation of London, managers of Epping Forest, shall now be planning to clear this copse of wood, and leave just the larger trees with no undergrowth. Honestly, how inconsiderate of someone to choose this site to bury a dead body. No self-respecting East Ender would be so stupid or thoughtless: everyone knows from TV and movies that the East End method of disposing a dead body is by tying a lump of concrete to it and dumpping it into the Thames! Some of the people that come to London have no knowledge or respect for local cultural traditions!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Dog dug up body on Wanstead Flats Capel Road

Dog dug up body on Wanstead Flats Capel Road

The police are still conducting their forensic investigation on this section of the Wanstead Flats that is near the well-known Golden Fleece pub.

The above article appeared in one of the Monday editions of the Sun, and so far is the only one I can find!

Monday, May 17, 2004

First Summer's Day

The first real summer's day, warm enough to be reminded of sweat. Only 5 more weeks before midsummer, so we're in the ten most solar-energized weeks of the year.

Biked to Hampstead for my first outdoor swim of the year. It was lovely. Cold, and shocking, but I'm feeling so fit today I can't believe I was ill just a week ago.

Not so lovely was the menopausal blond Volvo-driving neurotic case that bumped my back tire TWICE while I was waiting at a junction. Silly cow didn't even realize that she had nudged my bicycle twice. I was so angry, and told her off, and she grudgingly apologized. I told her to go get a driving license, and she told me to go get a cycle helmet.

Well that's a good way for a driver to absolve themselves of responsibility isn't it? She can't control the brake pedal on her Volvo, but somehow my wearing of a bicycle helmet will compensate for the likelihood of 3 tons of Swedish Tank crushing my legs, and my torso. So long as my skull is intact, she feels righteous about waving around her weapon, which to a cyclist is as dangerous as a machine gun.

I drive a car too, and have owned 4 cars, and have passed driving tests in two countries, and sometimes I am just appalled. Most drivers on the road are actually very decent these days, but it takes just one bad apple to end up dead. And do the courts hand out reasonable sentences to car drivers who commit manslaughter or permanent injury? No. Why not? Because human beings are animals, with steel armour and oil-powered jaws. They are CARnivorous CANnibals. Genetically many humans have already become physically incompetent, but by wearing the suit of a 4x4, they can once again become as brutish as their ancestors in the jungles of Africa.

I can't wait for oil prices to quadruple....

Then cycled onto college, which was not going to have any more classes. I want my money back! The first year students are seriously pissed off about the whole Government's attitude to College Adult education. It's all very well that they're trying to swing the system back into Apprenticeship style training at large Construction Technology colleges, but this is no use to an adult over the age of 21.

It looks wonderful for the employment statistics though.

I have had nothing out of this Government yet. I think Gordon Brown is a bloated ugly twat who just about managed to have one child, and is thus not yet qualified to be a Prime Minister. How smug can he be, when he is presiding over an economy that trades on the English language and Oil in the North Sea? He can be proud that he hasn't been an outrageous squanderer, but he has no reason to be smug about the Economy's new clothes (like the fabled Emperor's New Clothes).

Then cycled through Islington to Angel. A bit of a rush-hour hurly burly, but nothing about Islington is interesting anymore.

Outside Whitechapel, bumped into A. an old clubbing friend, whom I haven't seen for 2 years. Hi A! So nice to see a familiar face in a soulless city. "A." also says London is very boring at the moment, and he goes to Amsterdam for a good time, these days.

Then stopped at Mile End park, which has a few Environmental Bays which were stunning when first unveiled 3/4 years ago. One of them houses an art exhibition hall which I thought was being left to rot. I was surprised to see some activity there, and apparently there is going to be a Master of Fine Arts exhibition there until Saturday evening. This is the first environmental building you come across in the park, if you walk north of Mile End station, before you get to the Palm Tree pub.

There I spoke to a 50-something female French artist, who said, "Oh no, it is not just you that is finding London boring --- everyone is feeling it too!" We lamented at how dull was this younger generation!

Apparently, though, Simon Jenkins - he who just because of his conservative looks, manages to get fantastic jobs in journalism, thinks London should become as boring as New York. I was interested to learn from him that Mayor Bloomberg has imposed such heavy taxes and such a strict regime of zero tolerance in New York, that it is finally a place for rich people to feel safe, i.e. it is now boring.

New York is so volatile. It was very nearly the most amazing place on earth in the early 80s. Then Aids hit harder than the jet airliners that demolished the World Trade Centers. By 1992, New York felt like a graveyard.

I've always wondered if Simon Jenkins is one of those men who doesn't particularly need sex. He once sent me a handwritten note, in response to my complaint at his ignorance of dioxins. (He definitely lacks the factual mind of a scientist, or the conceptual mind of the artist/the engineer). I would love to know what's his poison, wouldn't you? Is it really possible that after all these years, he is the journalist equivalent of Cliff Richard?

Finally on the Mile End road, my once flatmate cycled up on my tail. Cycled together in the direction of home chatting on the busy road. Something definitely wonderful about not having to hug the gutter of the road all the time, just because the average motorist thinks a single cyclist is valid road kill.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Hmmm boring.

The cops are still at it. Major forensic exercise going on here, with one block of Capel Road cut off, and a chunk of Wanstead Flats off limits. Looks like it must be a suspected homicide.


Cycled into town & back again. Probably even quieter than it was last Sunday, yet it was an even milder evening. What can you say about London, when after cycling 24 miles there and back, the only noticeably intriguing sound of life spilling out onto the street came from the pub in Forest Gate which is operating as a West African disco.

So, as I was intending to write this letter, before I met Beautiful Man:

Dear Osama,

Guess what? Your plan worked! It was a bit over the top, but you managed to stop Western Civilization dead in its tracks.

You don't even need to bother coming to London, now. It is already so dull, that without even shaking your fist at it, you have somehow killed it off for ever. Wow, that's real classy power! Where did you learn that from, a James Bond movie?

The best part of your plan is that the suckers still think you've lost! Amazing.... Oh well, win, or lose, what does it matter? It was just that you wanted to make up the rules of the game! And now they are somewhere in there, between Rules 34 and 45, and also between Rules 165 and 230.

Did you hear also? They're giving women the vote in KUWAIT! That's just what you thought they would do. So the pressure will soon spread to Saudi, which will really piss them off! Your mom won't believe it when it finally happens: wow, she is going to be SO excited. Something that she never dared to dream!

By the way, I'm not really clear about some of the oil aspects of your plan. Of course you know, that they know, that they are going to run out of oil. And that they know, that you know that. But I thought it would have been far more of a nasty shock if you had let them carry on partying up to 2015, then wake up the next morning and find out that they can't afford to put the kettle on for a cup of tea! I mean, what you've done has just alerted them to the whole nasty problem of Oil. Which means they're going to bring back their nuclear energy programmes, and the sideshoot of that will be a return to building nuclear military muscle. Won't that kind of backfire on you? Because then they will be REAL bullies, and what chance would you have then?

Oh, now I remember! Yes, you explained that they would probably end up wiping out each other's cities, since they have more sophisticated targeting and focussing nuclear warheads, while leaving the land relatively untouched. Then we'll all be back to the land and growing beards like yours out of necessity! And having to go back to collecting manure for cooking fuel.

It's a good plan, you know. Clever in a way, though its execution was REALLY harsh. And to think that you're a vegetarian, aren't you?

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Waking up Like a Smiley from Nipple to Nipple

The wonderful new man already phoned and we met up again! So despite the resulting late night, woke up tired but like I had a big smiley inside my chest.

Oh, I should not be so mad as to fall in love, but what a joy to feel a feeling you haven't felt for so long. Like a new man.

It may come to nothing more, but the hope and boost in self-esteem is worth a couple of million pounds at least. One great fear of age is that there will never be moments like this once your looks are gone. Even when young these moments are rare enough. So having had the luxury of one, it's worth trying to understand why it makes you feel so happy.

He's very handsome and very fit, not too much bigger than me, and the image of him climbing the tree like a spirit of the woods is one that I wish I had a photograph of, but I'll have to hold it in my mind instead.

Looks aren't everything, as I have too painfully not learnt until my middle-age, and so I wondered why I found him so extraordinarily beautiful. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, so what did I behold?

1. The perception of beauty was instant, the old "love at first sight" reflex. Dangerous stuff. Could have been the contrast of mostly seeing too many unattractive people in London, but there was more than that. It must have been the eyes. Even from the first moment, they were looking back, and seeing me, not just ignoring me, or humouring me, or tolerating me, etc.

2. The face/body/smile/clothing package was perfectly formed and perfectly proportioned in glorious balance.

3. Rarity. You may look everywhere and never find THE ONE. You lose hope. You think they don't exist, and probably they are very rare. You wish there were more of them so that you wouldn't have to worry so much if you ever lost them.

4. The finding. It only happens once, right at the beginning, and is the glorious feeling of a new find. Like shopping for an antique, or a painting to fit on a difficult wall.

5. The clever listener. Some people never listen, never try to understand you, can't listen, or do so unsuccessfully. He was so quick with this, as if it were common sense, and yet it is a sense too uncommon these days.

6. The affinity with nature. Who climbs trees anymore? Who can? Who wants to go out and touch the world, and not just look at something that hangs in a museum? The earthiness of those who do, lends them a worldliness that is as ancient as the land and the sky. All this man-made stuff that surrounds us today is so new, so recent, but a speck of time in the history of Man the Ape.

7. What he does for a living. Where he grew up and where he came from. Where he lives now.

These must be the things that I use to define beauty to myself.

Then the reality of the affair:

What does he want to be?
Who does he want to be?
Can you hold on to someone in a world where people cannot be owned, but only enjoyed while they are there? Where they are free to go elsewhere, and squander or share themselves with others?
Would it last at all?

Of all these things, the most joyous gift I feel is Hope, that most mysterious of emotions, the one I understand least. What gives you hope, and why?


Police have extended the cordoned off area of Capel Road,Wanstead flats and have erected two tents on the site. It appears that a full-scale investigation is underway, although no absolute confirmation has yet been made whether a dead body was found.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Newsflash! Police investigating remains found on Wanstead flats

A copse of trees alongside Capel Road, between the Golden Fleece pub and the Whitta Road, has been cordoned off by a heavy team of police, this afternoon.

Some remains were found in these woods, and investigations are under way to determine whether these were human.


Warm, warm day, 40% sunshine. Optimal temperatures. May I never ever shiver again. Borrowed car from Ex. Bought door. Bought more building materials. Cycled there and back. Illness of Tuesday is long gone. Never had such sharply contrasting levels of good versus poor health in the space of 4 days. Makes you realize that health is everything, even though 95% of the time you take it for granted, and indeed, you are EXPECTED to take it for granted, and play along with everyone else's assumption of Immortality into Eternity.

Met incredibly wonderful perfect boyf material and chatted for 45 minutes.. Almost died of shock, most amazing person encountered in almost 4 years. Don't know if we'll ever meet again, gave out contact details, but STEADY BOY! What could be worse than falling in LOVE again, after all you've learnt! It might hit you like a ton of bricks, but will you ever be able to get up again after that?

Best forget it and be thankful that the feeling still lives in there, at least now I have been reminded.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Kiwi fruit

Feel unbelievably better. What a contrast with yesterday. I don't mind being ill for just 2 days, but sometimes it goes on for a month. Managed to do some work this afternoon, and then some gardening, which injected the will to live back into me. I should surely die if there were nothing but man-made objects in the world. God save the planet from people who worship scientific study as the absolute substitute for understanding Life.

The hailstorm did a fascinating thing. It damaged nothing in the garden but the Kiwi vine, actinidia chinensis, the very producer of the kiwi fruit which is now so common in supermarkets that everyone sneers at them. The beautiful,soft,large, erect,leaves of this vine were shot through as though by a machine gun. This plant is slightly frost hardy, but clearly not hail-hardy. It is another example of how although exotic species can live in this country, they are not designed to compete in the wild with native species. Plants, animals and humans. Kiwi fruit used to be the height of chicness in a restaurant, but now their cultivation in Spain makes them so common that they are discarded there for lack of a market.

I used to favour exotic plants in a garden, but I have in recent years begun to deplore them. They are interesting to study but their performance is often disappointing, and their lack of permanence (I'm talking decades, not years) seems pointless. The number of garden designers who strive so hard to be different and clever. They have done little to help the masses understand plant life, or the indigenous animal life that depends on indigenous plants. Diarmuid Gavin is perhaps my arch example of a gardening idiot. I hope he ends up barefoot in a bog one day.

How many people are planting Yuccas and Chusan palms in the front of their houses? What do they know of bird life, ladybirds, spiders, hedgehogs, and red squirrels? Or earthworms, mushrooms and soil organisms?

The kiwi vine is an odd climber, because although it is of the twining sort, it seems very picky about what it will wrap itself around. I suspect it might even seek out living trunks and branches, in favour of dead wood. This wouldn't be surprising, for a climbing vine that wrapped itself around living support would be infinitely advantaged over one that collapsed under its own weight on some deadwood it was hanging onto.

Abbagirls at the Angel

Chanced upon the Abbagirls on Friday evening. It was a slow night at the Angel pub in Stratford that was saved by their cabaret. I hadn't expected anything more than a tribute from some tacky drag duo. When the two ladies came on and started doing the most intelligent, wittiest study and subtlest parody of Abba that I have ever seen, I was overjoyed.

They said later that they worry if their humour goes over the heads of their audience. On that night it mostly did, as most everyone there was preoccupied with themselves. Nonetheless it was wondrous to get a glimpse of the clever minds of these two girls. I wonder if I am needing, or responding better to, inspiration from clever women, than from men.

Cabaret performances in East End pubs of London are a tradition that is struggling, such as is all traditional local culture, such is the onslaught of modern technology, travel and people migration.

I hope the White Swan books them. According to their gig guide, they'll be doing Ikea at Lakeside! HILARIOUS! Otherwise catch them at the Black Cap on the 4th June, or back at the Angel in Stratford on the 5th June.


Definitely been ill today. Bit better now, but was chilly all day and muzzy headed, and aspirin had no effect, so it isn't flu but a cold. Couldn't do much physical work. Times like this always scare me. Enough for me to despise my own body for its fragility. Not that it gets anywhere to do that, although it is a helpful distraction from whatever pain there is.

Spent much of the day playing with the new Blogger features. Otherwise accomplished nothing.

I can't even be bothered to envy those people who never get ill. There are some, and of course they just take it for granted. They've never been any use to me, they aren't any use to me, and they will never be any use to me. They're not much use in the medical/nursing/care professions either. Their rude health gives them endless energy, and unassailable ignorance, but tends to make some of them do foolish things where their recklessness inflicts unhappy substitutes upon them. For example, they break an arm or a leg.

Oh well, best turn to my teddy bears.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Thank Blog for small mercies

Oh, on the very evening that I look to my blog for its nurturing warm reassuring comforting arms. Sad indeed, but so it is if you're single, or coupled with a lousy partner for that matter. Blogger has at last been Googled! Beautiful new interface. There is a Blog in heaven after all!

My aching shoulders have been straining from carrying grocery bags on London's shitty streets, and on London's shitty transport system. Those lucky sods who were born with shoulder parts that fit like a BMW engine! Until very old age they will never understand their good fortune. Size itself does not matter, for I have met men twice my size who struggle with carrying weights. Imagine a 4 x 4 that has a crank that does not perfectly meet its shaft, and compare that with a Mini whose engine runs smoothly on small but well-fitting moving parts.

The insult of today's tribulations comes from a pain in the arch of my foot, which was triggered after I went out yesterday in a pair of shoes I rarely wear. Being of mostly flatfooted "ethnic" heritage (some charmingly naive people actually only understand classifications by skin colour, shallow, shallow, shallow!), this weakness has arisen before, and consistently has been in conjunction with an impending general systematic immune failure, such as a flu or a herpes attack.

So walking is troublesome and cycling is out of the question, and without wheels, I am tempted to bitterness. Can't help thinking of my useless Ex, who despite being blessed with good fitting genes, (enough to be able to go trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya last summer), nonetheless through his "disability" gets a car and an orange badge courtesy of what is left of Britain's welfare state.

Who would think that the architecture of the human foot was of any critical importance? In a once Christian civilization that propagated the notion, "All men are born equal", in order to control the destructive force of that most human of emotions - envy.

I recall a school mate of mine once admiring a girl's foot, and complimenting her with controlled sexual desire, "You have a good arch". The arch in a foot is the physical characteristic that ensures the ability of our species of ape to stand up on two legs. His instinctive sexual attraction to a fine structural example of this desirable physical feature reflects how our ape species semi-consciously breeds for the perpetuation of advantageous genes. In other words, there is more complexity operating in the selection of a breeding mate than the usual trite feature of big tits.

The insult of having to fork out £3.80 for a simple journey in London, to travel amongst mostly ugly people on ugly trains is undoubtedly a feeling that tourists take home to warn their countrymen. £3.80 would buy 3 pints of real ale at a Wetherspoons pub, even if it would scarcely buy 1 and a half pints of machine piss sold in a gay pub, or a trendy "young" bar. The most expensive transport system in the world. What a privelege, is London!

Then to arrive at my college, only to find once again that there will be no lesson today. Instead, the announcement that all the engineering departments at the City and Islington college are to be closed down after July. I am not surprised, as I detected a distinct lack of organisational unity in the department, despite the efforts of individuals such as my tutor. What angers me though, is that the announcement was sudden and without warning, whereas a decision like this must have been in consideration at the start of the academic year. A bit like being shown pictures of Iraqis being tortured: you know by the time it's been made public, it must have been going on for at least 6 months. My tutor is not entirely happy, since his redundancy is 2 or 3 years earlier than he wanted it, and in his late Fifties, he would be hard pressed to find another job.

My fellow college students varied from being nonplussed to being irate. One guy who usually is demure, was berating the £370 of fees that we have paid, and how the college could spring its customers into such a ditch. I mentioned to him that although we paid our rightful fees, asylum seekers and benefit claimants pay only £10, and real foreign students pay over £1000. This launched him into a bitter soliloquy about how fucked over he feels, since he pays everything out of his own pocket, and never asks for anything. It turned out he was Romanian, although I had thought he was Spanish, and very soon he volunteered his opinion that "England is Crap".

Thousands of such ambassadors work and study in this country. Some of them pay thousands of pounds to study in dubious back street private colleges, let alone the official government educational institutuions, for the mere cachet of a "British" qualification that decreasingly carries any reputation in Third World countries. They sweep the streets, they clean the toilets, they clean the offices, they work as parking attendants, they work in warehouses, they cut the grass, they work in McDonalds, Kebab shops, and in the kitchens of fancy restaurants, while England basks complacently in the health of Gordon Brown's "economy".

London of course is empty still. A survey of the West End (Soho and surrounds) on a warm Sunday evening once again confirmed a sickly city centre. Although not entirely dead, I have never seen it this quiet since the IRA last did a terrorist bombing here. It was so quiet that I was for the first time in a decade, reminded of Sundays when they were a day for church going and roast dinners. The girl at the patisserie where I stopped, was complaining to her colleague how many cakes they still had left unsold.

Sunday, May 09, 2004


 Pachelbel's Canon (this one is canonvar)

what you once got near to,
when you had the chance,
but I shall waste no more of me on you.

that beauty so perfect,
where risen into the heavens,
you may at last be free

of all those empty souls.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Justice, and the system of Law

One of the things that always puzzled me when I was a wide-eyed happy innocent child, was the Law. To me it just did not add up. I couldn't understand how anything could be so unsystematic.

If you know anything of the electronic detail that goes into the Intel Chip that drives your computer, you have merely grasped the 0.01% of your universe that depends on a systematic and unfailingly ordered entity.

Yet the Legal/Justice system that exists today, barely qualifies as being a system.

May I draw your attention once again to Clearly Calm, the blog that is coming out of Wormwood Scrubs prison.

One of the premises of the justice "system" is that Penalty and Imprisonment of caught criminals sends an example to deter the "free" public from committing crime. This deterrent effect of preventing crime is supposed to be the most powerful influence of the Law.

This premise is flawed on several points:

1. For every criminal that gets caught, there must be at least 3 or 4 that get away. This is systematically unfair.

2. The ones that get caught tend to be the reckless ones. The others are cleverer and develop ever more devious ways of being criminal, even enough to be forcing the boundaries of definition of the Law. The uncaught may perhaps eventually even become a Chief Executive of a large bank, or energy company, or insurance company, or accountancy firm.

3. For a new kind of crime, a heavier sentence is meted out to the first caught in order to "set an example that would attract the attention of the media". This is also systematically unfair: it is supposed to advertise the deterrent effect, but is it effective? How many people can read, or choose to read, or bother to read, or get wind of all these things?

4. No effort is made to inform the Public what it is like to be imprisoned. How can you possibly be afraid of prison, if you have never been in one, or heard an ex-prisoner tell you how awful it is? Do Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer tell us what really went on in their hearts and brains when they went into prison?

One of the wisest things I ever heard about imprisonment was from the Kitchen King, Vance Miller. He has been in and out of prison many times. He said that the first month that you have been ever imprisoned is the worst imaginable experience, and if you were let out after that first month, you would probably never dare to commit a crime again. But once you get used to prison, it becomes life, and you get used to it, and it has less and less deterrent effect as time goes on.

Which brings us to the writer of Clearly Calm, who was put into prison in March. Please notice that you are watching a white collar criminal, an ex-accountant, who is in defensive shock. He has got 9 years for financial fraud. How does this compare to sentencing for a murderer, a rapist, or even a drunk driver, I wonder?

In consideration of financial fraud, this week Royal Bank of Scotland announced it is paying out US$500 million to the directors of the USA bank Charter One which it is buying for US$10.5 billion. (.. read it in the Guardian)

It is very, very easy to legitimately screw the populace for big money, without ever coming near the censure of the Law. In the realm of Corporate Governance of large widely-owned corporations, there is too much dependence on self-regulation according to ethics. There isn't enough Law, but there is plenty of nepotism and patronage.

Therein lies the systematic failure of the justice system. Follow the inequity and iniquity that will be the lot of Clearly Calm's writer. Then design a new system.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Financial Times, Watch it!

In the Financial Times weekend magazine.

Number of full pages of watch advertisements:

Girard Perregaux............1
Audemars Piguet............1
Patek Philippe.................1

TOTAL= 20 PAGES out of an 80 page magazine.

Is time important to the Financial Times reader?

How many watches can they wear at a time?

Have they nothing better to spend their money on?

Are the advertising agencies all out to lunch?

Are the watch companies making that much money?

Does all this give you confidence in the people that work in The City of London who have salaries over £100,000 a year?

Is this how to identify the money-grubbing Eurotrash who work in the City (as opposed to the other people from Europe who are lovely) who seem to account for over 30% of the working population there?

Grand Designs

Speaking of the self-indulgence of English castle-building, epitomised by the TV program Grand Designs! Barely had my blog been cached, when a mystery down the road revealed itself.

The road was blocked off as was planned for the whole of this week. What do I behold then, but a massive crane attempting to lower a modernist pre-fabricated house module into the mystery building site.

Two enormous trucks had brought two such modules. Each complete with fully finished brickwork on one side, and openings on the other so that they could be joined as one room.

This in Manor Park! Oh well, we have arrived! What an improvement! Let's see the balance sheet of works here.

Before: Twenties-built detached 3 bedroom house on quiet location facing open parkland and backing onto woodland owned by cemetery. Demolished with site left sitting empty for almost a year.

After: Millenium Grand Designs style modular pre-fabricated house, with pretensions to individuality. Still works in progress and unoccupied.

Do economists measure the usefulness of such economic activity?

Chick Peas, Plasterboard, Global Trade, Nicking Bikes

Yesterday saw a furious hail shower with solid ice the size of chick peas (aka Garbanzo beans, the primary ingredient of hoummous, the Middle-Eastern/Meditterranean meal accompaniment where chick peas are mushed with olive oil). Kentucky Fried Chicken might not want you to know this, but if you have ever used chick pea flour, you will recognize the primary ingredient of Colonel Sander's batter, which is not surprising since they are a common crop in the Southern States).


Plasterboard is wonderful. I may insist on understanding and experiencing the internal structure of an object, but the pleasure of rapidly covering it up with a facade is unfathomable. You may never see a piece of plasterboard in a National Trust reconstruction, but I have been painfully convinced of its genius.

I recall years ago when coming out, reading a harsh criticism in The Toronto Star, of gay men being interested only in "surfaces". Superficiality and narcissism was just as prominent in those days as it is today, perhaps even more so. Why is it that the reality of what lies underneath is terrifying, while the concealment by what can be seen on the surface is reassuring? These value judgements extend into straight society, and pander to the commercial world of illusion. Hairdressers and cosmetics companies for old ladies; opera, theatre, film, tv, and music; clothing fashion; architectural appearance; panelling on a car, fairing on a motorbike. I have long been intellectually aware of this quandary, and have persistently admired people in the farming, engineering and building trades, and have attempted to achieve their earthy acceptance of something for what it is, and not just what it looks like. Nonetheless I still cannot claim that I am liberated from the charming ease that comes from the seductive world of surfaces.


The global economy is the curse of our times. The fat princes at the Economics and MBA schools should be sent to an Outward Bound School if not into the Iraqi warfront.

There has been a ruthless imperative for decades that trade begets material wealth. There the chain of thought ends, such are the limits of the intellectual capacity of the Economists. What does abundant material wealth beget? Endless comfort? Obesity? Depression? Vicious perversion? Selfish greed? Physical idleness to the point where the lack of actual reality copulation is endangering reproduction?

When the tangible effects have already been hitting the "street" of this bubble of global economic wealth that is being exported out of China, shall we take bets on how long it takes the Economists to respond? I enjoyed 2 pints with a College acquaintance last night. A very "street" man of my own age grown up in Camden. He was a goldsmith until 6 months ago, but got made redundant. (He advises me that even in the Jewellery trade there is a two tier employment system, in this case nepotism favouring those who belong to the minority group that run the industry in London). Batches of jewellery such as are sold at Ernest Jones and H.Samuel, are nowadays insurance couriered to China, for smithing, and then returned, instead of being made in London.

Today he works in a steel yard, cutting up RSJ's (steel girders) for the building trade. What news there? Steel prices have escalated ridiculously over the last 3 months, due to growing demand from China. Of course, China now has a car industry!

Beside us, the eavesdropping Mancunian having a drink, said disgruntledly, that he was a stonemason, and that it was even happening in his trade. Batches of marble are shipped out to China, give them a month or two, and they're returned, for a fraction of what they cost to finish in Britain.

Never mind Call-centres and I.T. contracts being exported to India. Your average Telegraph/Guardian reader is living in a cocoon, cossetted by institutional employment (public/private/charity/medical sector) and institutional ideas, oblivious to the cut-and-thrust that is experienced by the "man in the street". Britain has become perhaps more economically hollow than the long-wealthy nations that it aspires to, such as Canada and the Scandinavian ones. This to me is far more scary than terrorism.

Do economists measure wealth that is being wasted? My friend told me of discovering £3,000 of 8 x 4 sheets of flooring, still palleted, that were thrown out of a job in the City, into a skip. Because the client said the shade of brown was too light. Not surprising, when TV programs like Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs force the populace to aspire to the silliest and most trivial extremes of superficiality in the built world. There is so much waste going on at the moment, I wonder when, like Ireland, we're going to be forced to face it?


Street people know things that make academics seem boring and dull-witted, which they probably are.

How to steal a bike that has one of those Krypton type locks? Apparently, get some lighter fluid, and apply it to the lock. This freezes the lock. Simultaneously insert a scissor jack (like those out of some cars) between the U bars, and the thing will snap at the frozen lock.

How to joy-ride a Bentley (presumably the older models)? This involves getting a spare wheel and ramming the front tires with it somehow (detail lost me), to give it a nasty jolt. The Bentley has an emergency safety feature where in the event of an accident, the locks automatically disengage.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


What a fine weekend this is transpiring to be, in England's finest month. The chill of midweek has abated and we have again warm air.

The Critical Mass cycling campaign 10th anniversary bike ride on Friday was not disappointing despite the threat of rain that day. It confirmed my estimation that the London alternative lifestyle types (dreadlocks, grunge, floppiness, tattoos, piercings that sort of thing) are seriously in decline, but it was a delight to see what few are left of them. They comprised perhaps one third of the crowd, whereas the other two-thirds were the conservative cyclists with expensive bikes and Lycra who are afraid of what people think they look like. Sadly the latter are embarrassed by the former, such is the constipation of expression that throttles some people.

A trip to a dance pub afterwards, an opportunity to chat with new people, a boogie. Then Saturday thankfully produced some sex at last, in my monastic existence, and the opportunity to chat with some more nice people.

Finally to wake up this morning and discover that James O'Brien also does a Sunday show on LBC radio until 10 am! Heaven!

Did I ever think I could be happy like this again? Why does life sometimes have to reduce you to a wretched mass, I do not know. Here comes the famous American saying, which is the only useful answer: "Shit happens!"

It's hilarious to see the signs of recovery, because of their blatant symbolism. For almost six months after breaking up, I habitually got into bed on my usual side and slept in only half the bed. Now I'm sleeping in the middle of my bed. If that isn't an untold story of regaining ownership of your life after broken love, then what is?