Wanna be Wot??

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We break a long silence to bring you some non-news of a literary nature…

Here is the text (with links) to a lecture recently given at the Gomersal People’s Cultural Centre by Androcles Spratwarbler, Emeritus Professor of English Literature and Spot-Welding at the University of Cleckheaton:

Good evening.

In today’s lecture, I want to consider two poems entitled I Wanna Be Yours (meaning One Wishes to be Thine, in more traditional poetic language), one by Doctor John Cooper Clarke, ‘punk’ poet and ‘Bard of Salford’, and the other a response thereto by Dai Lowe, a nonentity from the English Midlands,, currently living in Edinburgh.

The Clarke may be viewed online, here, giving an essential idea of the machin-gun delivery amd demotic acent and idiom, essential to the work’s impact.

Now, many would consider this work an extremely modern piece of vernacular verse, typical indeed of the ‘post-punk’ era of the early 1980s. And yet it, and the recent response, belong to a very old and noble tradition of ‘Persuasion’ or indeed, ‘Seduction’ Poetry. One only has to think back to the Seventeenth Century and John Donne’s To His Mistress Going to Bed and Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress essentially, “Get ’em off” and ‘How about a shag?’ respectively — for more pointed examples (if more politely worded in the language of the time).

But the Clarke, maybe, takes us further back than that, to the writing of Christopher Marlowe, better known as the ill-fated author of Edward II, Tamburlaine the Great and many more hit shows. His The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (‘Come live with me and be my love’) is a more romantic plea, for, ostensibly, a longer term commitment. And yet it is in itself somewhat undercut by the response poem of 1600, The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd, penned by Sir Walter Raliegh, himself better know today as an Elizabethan sailor, adventurer, and the inventor of the potato.

If the former is a plea for a romantic future (albeit one probably still hoping for a shag to start with), Raleigh’s response can be summarised as ‘get real, mush’. ‘We’re gonna get old, our bits will shrivel up, and we’ll probably argue a lot and get bored — and I don’t trust you poets anyway (ignoring the fact you’re also gay, Kit)’.

So it is in this light we must consider Lowe’s verses. He has, indeed, copied the verse form of the older poems, rather than the looser modern style of the Clarke, and also, in his second verse, refers to the Marlowe/Raleigh pairing (with a rather clumsy and far from clear extra reference to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Twentieth Century Mexican artists, probably there just to force a rhyme).

And yet, in a style which also lends itself to the rapid and aggressive delivery of a Clarke poem (he also makes reference to the slightly older poet’s notorious Evidently Chickentown in his repeated use of swearwords in the penultimate verse (in which the epithet ‘bloody’ can  apparently be replaced with the ‘f’ word throughout), Lowe does endeavour to respond to all of the examples, the inanimate conceits with which the original poet analogises his availibility to his belovéd. It is unclear whether the replacement of a Cortina with a Granada is lazily done for the sake of rhyme or in fact intended for what we might call, if we’re feeling generous, ‘humorous’ effect.

The poem, which we present below, was written in an attempt to win the right to open a show in London for Doctor Clarke, currently engaged in a nationwide tour to celebrate his life and works. It is probably safe to say that no one reading the following will be at all surprised that it didn’t win… There is still some taste and discernment in the world, thank fuck.

I’ll tell you straight, not gonna lie, son,
I don’t need no cordless Dyson
So here’s a damper on your ardour
A clamper for your Ford Granada

I’ll be the Raleigh to your Marlowe
Rivera to your Frida Kahlo —
You sure it’s mine you wanna be?
My own improper property?

For cars I couldn’t give a fuck
And vacuum cleaners really suck
To keep my hair from stormy motion
You’d need a fuckin’ lotion ocean —

My leccy’s incapacitated
My coffee’s all decaffeinated
My heating bill’s beyond your means
You can’t afford to roast my beans

Your coat lets in the bloody rain
Your bloody dreamboat sank again
And though your bloody bear ain’t dead, he
Looks a bloody threadbare teddy

There’s evidently nothing left
Besides, all property is theft
That’s just the harsh reality —
And that’s why mine you canna be

Treacling through Wadle

Ah, darling Liz!

Back in harness with competitive scrawls and all that sort of rot, backlog clearedle but still incoming, I madle it to the parklandle today for a break and a melty tuna. After a mushroom and chorizo on toastle brekkie, I think a light supple is called for.

Have high winds shaked the darling twigs of Feb where you are? After a bit of fun with Duddle, we haven’t really been bothered much by Yoon and Frankie, but no doubt our time will come. But will the worldle be at wardle by then?

That could be a new version, Wardle, with all words related to conflict. How many 5 letter battles and generals can you think of? I’m pretty stumped, and I fought various wargame reconstructions in my yoof. ABOMB and HBOMB could go in. Most leaders and generals seem to have multisyllabic monickers, except for Marshall Ney, lad and he’s too short (unlike Napoleon who wasn’t really, that was just improperganda).

So now, to knock up a simple sarnie with which to watch Universally Challenged.

I hope your wellness and happiness are through the roofle. Next Mondle will be the biggie, as stories deluge apres moi, but I shall findle time for at least a few words to my beloved Lizzle.

But now some artisan (ie pricey) breadle beckles. What to fill it with????

Lots of love from
Al xxxxxxxxxxxx

Quoth Somebody or Other

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A new translation of a poem by favourite gaditano wordsmith Carlos Edmundo de Ory (1923–2010)

NEVERMORE

Nevermore the raven of the night
which as the soul descends will teach
another looking glass as brilliant as my own
which now I contemplate with a clean face
after the dirty reputation of the days
far from the mud and far from the enthusiasm
Passing the body through the gossamer
which mysteriously remained
intact and I remained with its rhythm
template of your geometric molecule
Unharmed on the far side of the shadow
I entertained myself by taking a look
into this difficult face which regarded me
immobile in the powerful infinitude
The serpent of immovable being his eye
and my thought rounding me off
letting drop the petals of my soul
in the dark silence of nothingness
I had blood in my mouth from stupor
when blindly the night took me
by the head as sculptural smoke
moving further away further away
until I go down at dawn if I go down

 

and here’s the original

NEVERMORE

Nunca jamás el cuervo de la noche
que so el alma desciende enseñará
otro espejo tan brillante de mí mismo
como el que ya contemplo con faz limpia
tras el sucio prestigio de los días
lejos del fango y lejos de la entusa
Pasando el cuerpo por la telaraña
que misteriosamente se quedó
intacta y yo quedéme a su compás
molde de su molécula geométrica
Ileso al otro lado de la sombra
me entretuve lanzando una ojeada
a este rostro difícil que me vio
quieto en el infinito poderoso
La serpiente del ser inmoble su ojo
y el pensamiento mío redondeándome
cayéndome los pétalos del alma
en el silencio oscuro de la nada
Tuve en sangre la boca de estupor
cuando a ciegas la noche me llevaba
la cabeza como humo escultórico
alejándome más alejándome más
hasta bajar al alba si es que bajo.

[from Melos melancolia, 1999, translated February 2022]

Also Sprach Ayn Rand

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As I walked down the Dalry Road one semi-locked-down evening, there passed a wee lass on a bike, cube-backed with Deliveroo pack almost matching her for size.

A neologism (new word) came into my mind and I thought it had the makings of a satiric pome. So next-day-sitting by the old canal and chatting to a friendly juvenile (a cormorant, that is), I made this first draft.

It needs a bit of work, but I doubt I’ll be arsed to get round to it, for a while at least. So this’ll have to do ye.

 

Also Sprach Ayn Rand

It suits the plutocratic, fatcat pigs:
An economic system built on gigs.
No pension plans, no pesky union fights,
No sick pay, holidays or workers’ rights.
You fine them if they can’t turn up when told,
And drop them if they get too sick or old.
Ideal for any fit young buck (or wench):
A life with the Deliverübermensch

But zero hours suit certain types of folk
The ones who aren’t too sick or old (just broke)
The freedom that it brings seems rather grand
To those who have no ratrace future planned
They own a bike or car, live near the shop
They’re fit enough to work until they drop
As Nietzsche said, you need to be quite hench
To work in der Deliverübermensch

They sort your parcels, bring them to your door
Or keep the shelves stocked in the sportswear store
They drive you home when you’re too pissed to walk
Or pedal round with your fried rice and pork
In heatwave, sleet or snow or pouring rain
They bring your supper and they’re off again
You must admit, there’s nothing that can quench
The spirit of Deliverübermensch

But is this model really selfsustaining?
Do we all lose more than the few are gaining?
Are we exploiting those who can’t be choosers
Upsetting only whingeing snowflake losers?
Will it collapse like other fiscal fictions
And leave us crushed beneath its contradictions
The air filled with the rancid sweaty stench
Of all those dead Deliverübermensch?

15th April 2021, Edinburgh

Back to Basics

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I think I’m becoming more and more fundamentalist with age.

Things that have bubbled under and informed my world view for far too many decades to count are now shoving aside all other thoughts when considering the issues of the day.

For instance, all the fuss about the notorious interview featuring royalty and a couple of members of the Windsor family (see what I did there?). I don’t give a monkey’s pizzle who said what and what was going on and how it will affect the set-up. All I find myself thinking is, We shouldn’t have a fucking monarchy at all!

Terfs and trannies. I have an annoying inability to take sides on most matters; I can see the points that concern both sides (though I lean far more to the pro-trans side). But then I’m thinking mostly that beneath it all is the fact that these issues wouldn’t exist if we had a less hung-up  society, if we all got changed and went to the loo in the same places, irrespective of what dangly bits we do or don’t have or do or don’t wish we had, or who we prefer to have play with them. Or just go back to the days when all changing was done in cubicles, which I, with my pectus excavatum always preferred anyway (what about hollow chest rights, wokeys?).

And almost every question which comes down to money or the allocation of resources (why spend trillions sending a probe to Mars or funding some friends of the Tories to pretend to set up a life-saving system, when there are kids starving in Cumbeslobodia?) — all these have me screaming, well, this wouldn’t bloody apply, if we didn’t have the illogical systems of money, capital and what Godwin called the most pernicious of evils, exchange.

All this is of course totally useless. That bugs me. I am painfully aware that it is unproductive to say that the whole damn system should have been set up differently in the first place. Like the golfer who keeps replaying the drive in their head and thinking of the shot they would have played from the middle of the fairway, rather than concentrating on the chip from the long grass that they’ve set themself.

So the next question in each case, is how to chip back onto the fairway, without going all the way back to the tee.

I think I’ve lost the ball.

Meteoric Messenger

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There are no elderly angels

What colour is silence?

Charlie d’Ory (1923-2010) said, bottle in one hand while the other made its wild, expressive gestures, that everything that drops from the mouth of man is precious stones!

At night there is less talk than by day

Hasten the vine of life

I (2003-2006) would offer my own discourse as sufficient refutation, but Nicaraguan poet, Carlos Martinez Rivas (1924-1998) was scathing enough that drunken night. Everything that falls from man’s mouth is nonsense! he yelled and brandished his own bottle in the direction of the gaditano. Only by threatening to rip the Nicaraguan’s head off if he didn’t lay down his weapon, did Félix Grande (1937-2014), Extremaduran poet and flamencologist, manage to partially defuse the situation.

Someone compared Japanese writing to rain

Foolishly, I spent the years after I bought the book, thinking that Aerolitos were telegrams, aerograms, in fact, which seemed an obvious description of the brief, aphoristic pieces to which  Ory gave that name. Only recently did I bother to check the translation and find that they are meteorites. But I celebrate the serendipitous conjunction of the two translations, right and wrong.

The ancient Egyptians domesticated hyenas

After the Spanish Carlos had read out a number of these on that drunken evening, wherever it was, in 1966, his Nacaraguan namesake did at least aver, roar even, that Believe me, you have to believe me: los Aerolitos are proof that everything that fell out of the mouth of Ory was precious stones! You have to believe me!

In the Pensées of Pascal there is one about flies: Oh most ridiculous hero!

For reasons lost in the mists of drink, I decided to jot a few of my own but somehow forgot that the originals were usually very brief one-liners. Now do I continue with my mini-couplets or start over with shortness?

The ugliness of the sleeping forest

Every minute an imbecile is born (Dan Millman)

Whatever the decision, the name of Buñuelitos will remain etched in stone and custard. El very wonderful Faro de Cádiz had on it’s tapas menu when I lived there buñuelos de roquefort, which Eric Cartman would probably call cheesy puffs. Well, it seems obvious to diminutise these to buñuelitos and revel in the nominal connection with surrealist film maker Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) and thus name my own pieces, which I may or may not share with you in the near future.

We crashed into the wall of infinity

No precious stones but maybe entertaining and illuminating chunks of something. After all coal can keep us warmer than any number of diamonds. Meanwhile I can translate with the help of my old friend Huawei, the original gems of de Ory.

We may know only a few men, but we do know a great number of jackets and trousers (H D Thoreau)

el acento de Cai

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Como complemento a la publicación más larga de hoy, aquí está mi canción de chirigota que debería haber terminado en 2001.

Cuplet: el acento de Cai

Soy inglé’, pero vivo en la Viña.
¿Como la plata? ¡No has visto mi cucina!
Primera vez, la ciudad me encantado,
Pronto lo supe — mi corazón e’ gaditano.
En Inglaterra aprendí ‘pañol muy bueno
Pero aquí se volvió — co’ un mal sueño!
Mi ca’tellano ‘tuvo bien, pero ¡lo siento!
¿Qué diablos le pasa a tu acento?
¿Perdoneme? Es difícil captar sentidos,
E’ tan rapido, y tu come’ los sonidos
En las tiendas nunca se que ‘toy comprando
Y la gente se ríe con mi fallando.
Dondequiera voy, ‘cucho la alegría
¡Estoy seguro que saben que yo quería!
No soy un burro, y no soy una cabra
Yo soy inglé’, yo ¡no entiendo … una palabraaaa!

and I even created an English version with roughly similar meaning…

In English: The Cádiz Accent

I am English, but I live here in la Viña.
Clean as the silver?! My kitchen you ain’t seen, yeah?
When I first came here, the old city worked its magic,
And soon I knew — my heart belongs to Cádiz.
Back home in London, I had learned a bit of Spanish —
When I got here all that knowledge seemed to vanish!
I thought my grasp of Castellano was quite decent
But what the hell is going on here with your accent?!
“What’d you say?!” It’s hard to know just what the sense is;
You speak so quickly — and you swallow half the letters.
In shops and bars I never quite know what I’m buying,
But the locals seem amused to see me trying.
Everywhere I go I hear their jolly laughter,
Though I’m sure the buggers know just what I’m after!
I’m not a ‘donkey’, and I’m not a ‘silly bird’,
I’m simply English —and don’t understand … a bloody word!

[La Viña — the vineyards — is the working class barrio I called home, and the epicentre of Carnaval, continuing the festivities to and beyond dawn, well after Ash Wednesday.
The street cleaning vehicles of Cádiz bear the legend “Cádiz: como la plata“, or like the silverware or the plate]

Cuplet, retrasado [el acento gaditano]

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Soy inglé’, pero vivo en la Viña.
¿Como la plata? ¡No has visto mi cucina!

In case you don’t already know, I lived in the Andalucian paradise of Cádiz in 2000 and a bit of 2001. You can read some (rather fanciful) accounts of it here; the forerunners of my blogging, as I learned to set up websites and mess around with links. Some found them highly amusing. Had I not fallen and broken my shoulder on Finchley Road on the way back after Yuletide (as the final entry explains), there would have been a great deal more.

In the latter days of my tenure, there took place the Carnaval de Cádiz, a week or so of chaos, cavalcades and costumes, that a fellow Brit there described as ‘a million people sharing a joke you’re not in on’.

I was at least able to document that, through an alcoholic haze.

One of the major features of the Gaditano carnival is the plethora of singing groups which apeear on every stage and street corner throughout the festivities (and in a good few places for the rest of the year). The mainstay of these is the chirigota, a group of about a dozen guys (though female chirigotas and even mixed teams are getting more common). The costumes are hilarious, the songs are largely satirical and bawdy (though one or two singing the sincere praises of the city and the province are pretty much compulsory in every team’s set). There’s a huge competition in the Gran Teatro Falla in the preceding weeks, and teams from each barrio will have spent much of the year deciding on their latest name and outfit Tampax Goyescas, the winners that year, have become a classic.

 

Anyway, I decided to write a song in the style (and accent) of the incomprehensible cuplets of the chirigotas (and choros and cuartetos and ilegales), about how, as a guiri (foreign Johnny), I struggled with an accent which seemed mainly to consist of leaving out most of the phonemes (the locals call the place Cai, ffs).

I got as far as the first and last couplets.

I vowed I would fill some sort of waffle in between to make a song of sorts one day.

That day was this week, twenty years later. Twenty years after this charming bastard stood on his rooftop by the ocean, resplendent in panama hat, white suit, co-respondent shoes and (plastic) cane.

So here we are, firstly in that Gaditano dialect which makes these songs incomprehensible to most Spaniards, let alone us incomers (on the other hand, if you can scrape through in Cai, it’s plain sailing in the rest of Spain).

Cuplet: el acento de Cai

Soy inglé’, pero vivo en la Viña.
¿Como la plata? ¡No has visto mi cucina!
Primera vez, la ciudad me encantado,
Pronto lo supe — mi corazón e’ gaditano.
En Inglaterra aprendí ‘pañol muy bueno
Pero aquí se volvió — co’ un mal sueño!
Mi ca’tellano ‘tuvo bien, pero ¡lo siento!
¿Qué diablos le pasa a tu acento?
¿Perdoneme? Es difícil captar sentidos,
E’ tan rapido, y tu come’ los sonidos
En las tiendas nunca se que ‘toy comprando
Y la gente se ríe con mi fallando.
Dondequiera voy, ‘cucho la alegría
¡Estoy seguro que saben que yo quería!
No soy un burro, y no soy una cabra
Yo soy inglé’, yo ¡no entiendo … una palabraaaa!

and I even created an English version with roughly similar meaning…

In English: The Cádiz Accent

I am English, but I live here in la Viña.
Clean as the silver?! My kitchen you ain’t seen, yeah?
When I first came here, the old city worked its magic,
And soon I knew — my heart belongs to Cádiz.
Back home in London, I had learned a bit of Spanish —
When I got here all that knowledge seemed to vanish!
I thought my grasp of Castellano was quite decent
But what the hell is going on here with your accent?!
“What’d you say?!” It’s hard to know just what the sense is;
You speak so quickly — and you swallow half the letters.
In shops and bars I never quite know what I’m buying,
But the locals seem amused to see me trying.
Everywhere I go I hear their jolly laughter,
Though I’m sure the buggers know just what I’m after!
I’m not a ‘donkey’, and I’m not a ‘silly bird’,
I’m simply English —and don’t understand … a bloody word!

[La Viña — the vineyards — is the working class barrio I called home, and the epicentre of Carnaval, continuing the festivities to and beyond dawn, well after Ash Wednesday.
The street cleaning vehicles of Cádiz bear the legend “Cádiz: como la plata“, or like the silverware or the plate]

Better late than never, I guess.

A Visit from St Nicola — now in English!

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OK, I’m reasonably happy with this …

A Visit from St Nicola (Scots version)

‘Twas the night afore Christmas, but a’ through the toon,
No’ a creature was stirrin’ — we’d a’ been locked doon.
We’d tucked up the weans wi’ a smile and a song;
Ah, but we knew that they knew that somethin’ was wrong.
Their sanitised stockings were hung up wi’ care,
Wi’ the mince pies and carrots sat pointlessly there;
We’d asked a few pals roond, we’d meant tae ask more,
But they had to cry aff when we moved to Tier Four.
So we set oot some snacks and we poured oot some gin,
And settled oorsel’s for a quiet evenin’ in —
When suddenly through the front windae we heard
The jingle of bells — and a rather rude word.
I peered roond the curtains — and I could have sworn
That I saw Father Christmas hisself on oor lawn.
His sleigh in oor gateway was steevily wedged,
And Rudolph the Reindeer was stuck in oor hedge.
“Do ye need ony help?” I called oot fae the door,
But that only made Santa swear even more.
“I can manage, ye bastard; I’m magic, ye ken!
“But accidents will happen, noo and again.
“Och, I may as well hand ye yer gifts, while ye’re here,”
And he staggered towards me, a’ reekin’ o’ beer.
“It’s been a lang night, as I’m sure’s no surprise —
“So I’m trustin’ ye’ve whisky an’ no just mince pies!”
“Of course we have! But is it too much to ask,
“That before ye come in, ye could put on a mask?”
He grumbled, but, waving one hand in the air,
A glittering face mask materialised there —
But before he could cover his face wi’ the sheet,
Wi’ a bang and a flash he fell deid at ma feet.
And what should I see, at the edge of my land,
But Scotland’s First Minister, shotgun in hand.
“I’ve telt ye afore, Santa, a’ doon the street,
“Ye’ve visited mair than wan hoosehold the neet.
“While you’re spreadin’ cheer to each Ma, Pa and wean,
“I’m preventin’ the spreadin’ o’ Covid-Nineteen!
“It’s no a’ that guid gettin’ gifties the day,
“If you’re stuck in a hospital come Hogmanay.”
As she shouldered her gun and walked back to her car,
She looked over her shoulder and said, “Sorry, Pa.
“Help yersels to they parcels, but else dinna stress.
“We’ll send someone o’er to clear up the mess.
“I’m sorry to muck up yer Christmas yet more,
“But try tae enjoy yersels — Frank, get the door!”

And of course there’s the video version on YouTube, where I commit further atrocities with a ‘Scots’ accent …

But for those less comfortable with my mangled version of Scots, and for whom the final reference to Janey Godley’s brilliant ‘Frank, get the door’ is meaningless, there is now a Sassenach version (though still set in Scotland and with a few Scotticisms, like ‘weans’ for ‘kids’ …

A Visit from St Nicola

‘Twas the night before Christmas, but all through the town,
Not a creature was stirring — we’d all been locked down.
We’d tucked up the kids with a smile and a song;
Ah, but we knew that they knew that something was wrong.
Their sanitised stockings were hung up with care,
With the mince pies and carrots sat pointlessly there;
We’d asked a few pals round, we’d meant to ask more,
But they had to cry off when we moved to Tier Four.
So we set out some snacks and we poured out some gin,
And settled ourselves for a quiet evening in —
When suddenly through the front window we heard
The jingle of bells — and a rather rude word.
I peered round the curtains — and I could have sworn
That I saw Father Christmas himself on our lawn.
His sleigh in our gateway was solidly wedged,
And Rudolph the Reindeer was stuck in our hedge.
“Do you need any help?” I called out from the door,
But that only made Santa swear even more.
“I can manage, ye bastard; I’m magic, ye ken!
“But accidents will happen, now and again.
“But I may as well hand you yer gifts, while you’re here,”
And he staggered towards me, all reeking of beer.
“It’s been a long night, as I’m sure’s no surprise —
“So I’m trusting you’ve whisky and not just mince pies!”
“Of course we have! But is it too much to ask,
“That before you come in, you could put on a mask?”
He grumbled, but, waving one hand in the air,
A glittering face mask materialised there —
But before he could cover his face with the sheet,
With a bang and a flash, he fell dead at my feet!
And what should I see, at the edge of my land,
But Scotland’s First Minister, shotgun in hand.
“Och, Santa, I warned you, it just isn’t right,
“You’ve visited more than one household tonight.
“While you’re spreading cheer to each Ma, Pa and wean,
“I’m preventing the spreading of Covid-Nineteen!
“It’s not all that good getting gifts on the day,
“If you’re stuck in a hospital come Hogmanay.”
As she shouldered her gun and walked back to her car,
She looked over her shoulder and said, “Sorry, Pa.
“Help yourselves to those parcels, but else don’t you stress.
“We’ll send someone over to clear up the mess.
“Try to have a good Christmas and Happy New Year!”
So we went to the garden with wonder and fear,
But those extra gifts dispelled most of our doubts —
And reindeer’s delicious with roasties and sprouts!