I wanna be green
(after Ian Dury, I Wanna be Straight)
I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
I wanna hug trees and save all the bees,
If you know what I mean
I wanna protect, I wanna protest
Eat organic Quorn on an organic lawn
in an organic vest
I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
I want the sky and the water supply
to be lovely and clean
Yeah, gonna be hip, yeah gonna be true
While I’m saving the whale and saving the Earth
from the twats who vote blue
I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
Give drivers hard looks and read Monbiot’s books
on my Kindle screen
Don’t tell me I’m soft, don’t tell me I’m cracked
You won’t be so cool if we use all the fuel
and we’re totally fracked!
Is your elevation
The only chance that we’ll survive — eh?
Yeah! Green, green, green, green
Green, green, green, green
Green, green, green, green, green!
I wanna be green, I wanna be green,
I know that I’m right and I know that you’re wrong
and there’s nowt inbetween
But it isn’t for me, with a capital G
Perhaps I’m an arse, but I’m not middle clarse
so I’ll vote SNP
I wanna be green
I wanna be green etc
It’s been a busy week here at Grieve-not Lake, what with logging hundreds of last minute entries to a short story competiton what I administer. It was not helped by the payment site we use crashing over twelve of the final 24 hours, which led to an extended deadline and even more entries.
But I did find time Monday, while the dust was lingering just above ground, if not exactly clearing, to go the Edinburgh Harp Festival out at Colinton, at the Merchiston Castle School for the sons of rich bastards.
A visit to this gig once a year is an enjoyable experience, even though I don’t play. Harpists seem to be very nice folk. The lovely Bethan was inveigled into taking a picture of me pretending I do.
I remember my dear owd Mam often quoting (probably for allegorical purposes) the title of the Gracie Fields song, I Took My Harp to a Party, to which I have related maungily my whole life,
But I took me harp to a party, nobody asked me to play
The others were jolly and ‘earty but I wasn’t feelin’ so gay
I felt so ashamed at not strikin’ a note
That I tried to hide the thing under me coat
and which I have brought up to date for you here…
I took me ‘arp to a party but nobody asked me to play
I’ve always been quite arty-farty, so imagine my utter dismay
That the music were all One Direction and stuff
And they all played guitars and they played ’em reet rough;
I took my harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
So I took the damn thing away
They asked Morag from Stronsay to sing some Beyoncé
And somebody else sang Adele,
And the whole bloody crowd murdered poor Girls Aloud,
Until I was left feeling unwell.
At the end of the session, Bert’s Tom Jones impression
Collected a fair pile of knickers
Including the pants of me Sisters and Aunts
And more than one pair of the vicar’s
But I took me ‘arp to the party and nobody asked me to play
I’ve always been quite arty-farty, but I found to my utter dismay
That it wasn’t my scene, I were like a sore thumb,
So I sat like Jack Horner and feelin’ reet glum;
I took my harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
So I chucked the damn thing away
The Edinburgh Festivals have ground to a halt, as has your blogger, thanks to an attack of ‘Fringe Flu’, so you’ll have to make do with more reviews from Gladys Weems of the Spayne & Spigwell Advertiser.
My final Spayne & Spigwell-related show of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was Wyberton’s own Molestrap Theatre’s production of Yog Sothoth and All That, a revival of the 1975 ‘musical’ by Mercutio Thripp, at Fringe Venue 473, some disused crack den in Polwarth, I think it was.
Thripp, better known as the powerhouse at the back of heavy metal band Garbald Messidge, is no doubt a more accomplished drummer than he ever was a playwright. Then again, so is our cat, and she’s dead.
A self-conscious riff on the works of H P Lovecraft, both the humour and the creepiness in this ill-advised resurrection (not to mention the plot, of which there is precious little to mention) plod more than Noddy’s policeman friend after a heavy meal.
The young cast struggled personfully with the leaden dialogue, though Rachel Snitterpike, as Sandra Cthulhu, managed enough bathos to elicit general sympathy at the lack of rôles more suited to her probable talents.
It doesn’t seem a good idea to have a percussionist (if we may so glorify Mr Thripp, which indeed we may not) write all the songs for a theatre piece, though others have displayed an awareness of melody and lyricism. Then again, it was probably a blessing that we couldn’t hear many of the words of songs like I’m Lurking at Your Threshold, for the thrashing of drums and bonging of gongs.
This reviewer, one of only three people in the audience and the only one to stay to the end (professional dedication, or what?) Can only express the hope that the poor audiences and crippling losses endured by the company will deter them from their intended revival at the Molestrap.
In fact, fewer than no stars.
Back home (as she failed to get into the Edinburgh Art Fest), the Cumbeslobodian Disfigurative painter, Ramitabal Spon, will be at the Flange Gallery next Friday, for the opening of her first major exhibition in the UK. And probably her last.
Spon (57) is little known outside her native land, but Spigwell’s Cumbeslobodian community invited her over, apparently before seeing any of her work. Apparently, their residents’ association supports fully the local council’s decision to put a warning on the door, display no actual posters of her work and issue free sick bags to all who do visit.
The Advertiser may run a review of the exhibition if a reporter can be found willing to see it. Some images can be found on what is known as the ‘Black Web’, but we cannot recommend highly enough that you don’t try to find any.
Yes, it’s Estival Festival time in the city that likes to get to bed early. Even the street food stalls at Waverley had wound down and closed, despite the crowds, by eight. And if the lack of places to eat after ten thirty is annoying enough the rest of the year, it seems ludicrous when the city is packed to the gunwales with hungry showgoers.
I know the culture is different to central London and a universe away from my year in Cádiz, where few would dream of eating their main meal much before midnight in summer and no one expects a sleep unbroken by the falsetto buzz of the ‘mosquito’ motorbikes, except during the afternoon siesta. But having seen a complaint on the local Streetlife about being woken at three a.m. — by rickshaw cyclists and their passengers! — perhaps I’m just existing in the wrong place.
They say war is a great driver of technical advance; well Yrs Trly is finding the Embra Festivals a considerable source of ideas for phone apps. This would make more sense if he had a smartphone and was familiar with app technology, but what the hell, some of us do, others have ideas.
A few years ago, the perennial Billy-no-mates was rushing to a performance of Krapp’s Last Tape, when the lass in the ticket office told him ’twas a 2for1 performance. Undaunted by his stated solo status, she urged him to take the two, on the grounds that he might find someone to go with in the next five minutes (yeah, right; alone after sixty years and that’s gonna change in five minutes). Your correspondent is of the firm belief that these offers are all part of society’s delight in mocking the unlovable, like kisscams and Valentine’s Day. Though in this case the foisting of a second ticket probably also reflects a desire to make the attendance figures look better.
I digress. Not willing to run round waving a free ticket and risk another restraining order, not to mention missing out on a good seat, said solitaire just went to the show, but mused on the experience and what could be done to allow the lonely to take advantage of these things.
After all, some fifty per cent of folks between the ages of 25 and 55 in large cities like That London are single and living alone. Yet everywhere they see ‘bogof’ offers. And the thought occurred: what if there was an app whereby a user could say I’ve found an offer, and on which other punters could search for offers, based on type, time and location? The Krapp ticket could have been logged and other users within five minutes walk could have been alerted, and the rest is obvious.
And this could be extended to pizzas, supermarket offers and so on, even holidays. People have called it a dating app in disguise, others worried about security, and some have pointed out that one could end up sitting next to a smelly git (there was no need to make it personal!). Well, no doubt some meetings could result in romance but others could end in murder, as with any form of encounter, and there are plenty of dating apps if that’s all one seeks. Users would be warned not to meet in a dark alley for their share of the pizza offer.
As to being stuck next to someone as obnoxious as the author, what’s the difference from any other visit to theatre or concert? You have no control over who is sitting next to you or your party anyway. Maybe only politeness rules will differ if you have some form of prior relation, even if it be a result of the Solo app.
And that leads to the latest idea. The Blackball app, though that is an inappropriate name. The term blackball comes from the practice in some clubs and societies of denying membership to applicants via a clever voting system: members each put a small ball in a velvet bag — a white one if they approve the application and — you guessed. So the presence of a black ball in the bag can lead to rejection without identifying those objecting (unless the bag contains nothing but black balls).
But the system could also be used in reverse. Only if everyone objects can some action be taken, like beating the poor fellow to death when he goes down a dark alley to collect his pizza.
Your blogger went to see his favourite band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the other night. So did a fellow performer in his show, Well, It’s Woody (18:30 every day at The Street, Picardy Place). And said performer hated it from the get-go. As did her companion, who had suggested the event. So Bev sat there, fingers surreptitiously blocking ears, and endured out of politeness.
Only to find after the show that her friend had been doing likewise. It’s only natural among nice folk, that one would not wish to seem rude by indicating a desire to leave, and that even if one did wish to stay, knowing one’s companion was suffering would result in conflicting feelings (memories suddenly come back of taking a failed attempt at girlfriend to a Soft Machine concert!).
But with the Blackball app on your mobile this can be solved. Obviously all good citizens turn their mobiles (cells) off during concerts, even Godspeed You! gigs, where none could be heard over the music (or ‘nonsensical, pretentious din’, as Bev would call it: Goddam You! Emperor’s New Clothes?). But this app could have an option to block all calls and messages, while communicating with the devices of one’s companions.
It works like this: all members of a party activate the app just before a performance begins. Anyone who wishes to leave can surreptitiously press the black ball symbol at any time. If a prearranged proportion of black balls are activated, everyone’s device vibrates and they can all get up and sneak out. If that proportion is not reached, no one need ever know (unless the user wishes to have a good moan in the bar afterwards).
Less lazy and more popular folk (ie those who can find assistants and backers) can feel free to run with these ideas. If they do happen to make you millionaires and you’d like to thank the ideas guy with a small donation to his food habit, do get in touch. After all, there may be more inspiration to which you can get exclusive access for a modest retainer.
It was recently revealed, in an attempt to distract the British from more serious matters, no doubt, that one Elizabeth Windsor is a huge fan of Lancashire comic legend George Formby and can sing all his songs. Once keen to take up the invitation to be president of the George Formby Society, her stuffier advisers prevailed upon her to refuse on the grounds that it could undermine the dignitas of the monarchy, something most of her offspring have been doing successfully ever since.
I can’t help wondering what she’d make of my updating of his best-known ditty, The Window Cleaner, of which you can see various versions all over the web. It’s hard to believe some of these verses got the song banned in its day.
The blushing bride, she looks divine
The bridegroom, he is doing fine
I’d rather have his job than mine
When I’m cleaning windows
You can’t beat a bit of double entendre, but it’s hard to find some of his other verses all that amusing now. Not that I’m suggesting I can do any better (I can, but I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that).
Regular visitors may recall my recent ‘boast’ that I Can’t Play the Ukulele (see Poetic Ramblings, 11th May). Well, I’ve spent the time since then trying to rectify that, and the best part of a day last week trying to prove that I now can, by recording myself as Bert Crosby (the Smarmy Get) performing my updated version of that song. And I have less than a month to be able to do it in one go before a live and hopefully generously paying audience (the show is free to get in but a bucket will be thrust menacingly at the punters as they leave).
[For foreign or Southern readers, ‘smarmy’ means oleaginously smooth and ‘get’ or ‘git’ is a mildly dismissive word for a person, deriving from ‘get’ (as in beget), a child. And George Formby’s stage name came from his father’s birthplace. Crosby is a town not far from Formby, perhaps best known now for Antony Gormley’s art installation, Another Place
Without further ado, then, we present Bert Crosby performing The IT Repair Man. Enjoy…
I was planning a masterclass (or opinionated-amateurclass, anyway) on the subject of parody today. But before I could finish it, an incident occurred that has given me pause, preoccupied me, and all that sort of rot. So, hoping things are not as bad as my worst fears, next week for that.
Meanwhile, I’ve made a prop microphone, ukulele skills are improving and here’s my (unaccountably blurry) pseudonymous publicity for my forthcoming hit single …
I need help.
People often tell me this, usually in quite stern tones. It’s amazing how perceptive they can be. I assume they can tell that I have so many brilliant projects on hand (see The Labours Left Unfinished above) for which I need assistance, not to mention a shitload of encouragement and reassurance.
Now, I believe, it is quite trendy these days for people to work as unpaid interns, like slaves with a side order of hope — hope that one day they will be able to use the experience gained to enhance their own work, or at least to soup up a cv (resumé). Famous folk and conspicuous companies have young graduates queuing up for the chance to make them tea or shine their shoes for forty free hours a week.
I could use a few of those eager mugs volunteers. Why not apply? You could be adding yourself to the long list of famous people who started out apprenticed to a now-forgotten master. You won’t be, but you could be.
Because it must be admitted that sentences like, I helped Dai Lowe make a film (movie) or I drew the pictures for Little Mr Poonlop on your cv (resumé) is not exactly a big career boost, even compared to I made tea at Pinewood Studios or I licked J K Rowling’s hallway clean. Indeed, it could count against you, and could even land you with years of expensive therapy sessions.
But, if you do think you could help, read on. I have quite a few vacancies. All interns would also be there to offer me encouragement, hugs, moral support, tissues, immoral support*. Ideally I need young people, probably undergraduates or recent graduates, though a university education is not essential, as some very bright people don’t go that way. But the basic need is for people who are intelligent, creative and open-minded enough to understand, criticise and contribute to some of the work, while still being naive and impressionable enough to think my ideas are amazing (or even half-adequate). Though anyone from 16 to 96 can apply, I find people who’ve reached the advanced age of 25, or who’ve just achieved a greater level of understanding and cynicism, usually see through me far too quickly. Some even begin every other sentence with, What you should do here is …
I want … no, I need people who will draw the pictures I want but can’t, point the camera where I ask while I perform, compose and play the accompaniment I need, without trying to change any of it into something completely different (they are more than welcome to go away and make that something themselves later; I’ll even hold the camera or make models for them, but not while they’re on intern-duty). And most of all though they’re welcome to laugh at my jokes (in fact that may be a prerequisite for the post), but I don’t want them to smirk or laugh with derision at my instructions, even if they are otherwise following them to the letter. And even more most of all, while I may welcome their admiration and blind devotion to all I stand for, there must be no actual adoration, or attempts on my devout state of bi-celibacy. My heart and all the naughty bits that go with it are spoken for, albeit by one who would prefer never to be within a parsec of them again. Hands off. Having said that, I doubt this proscription will be any trouble whatsoever, even for the most admiring assistant.
So, what jobs, what glorious opportunities for experience and self-improvement can I offer? It is obvious that there will be candidates able to fulfil more than one of these rôles. Let’s be honest, I only require reasonable competence in musicianship or illustration, and anyone can point a camera (I even provide a tripod) and tell me how brilliant I am (some even with a straight face). And more than one person could be helpful and fun in any one of them. So there is no one-to-one match: we could be assembling a team like the Avengers or it could all be done by one, like Robin to my Batman (no costume is required or provided).
Music Director: to work out what bloody chord I need on the ukulele for my Window Cleaner number in time for the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe for a start. And to work out the accompaniment for A Girl in a Thousand. And then accompany me at gigs or in the street, on the instrument of your choice, at least until we get moved on. No folkies need apply.
Cinematographer: short films shot at home are usually done with the camera(s) on a tripod or a surface, especially those that need no camera movement or zooming shots. But not only does location work often need more care, but there’s the fear of someone running off with the camera while I’m a few metres (yards) away — and, more to the point, I’d feel less of a pranny (schlemiel) if I’m not doing it all alone!
Editor: my writing is brilliant and inspired, as you can tell, but still, for some reasons, it gets little praise and less publication. I am very well aware that the artist, in any form or medium, is often the least well equipped to judge the work objectively, so I need someone to read and critique. I will of course throw the requisite prima donna hissy fit and refuse to accept that you’re right about anything. But you will be very welcome to say I told you so, whenever the opportunity arises.
Graphic designer: the luvofmelife is one of many people who regularly point out that though I am fairly competent (given sufficient time and paper) at producing artworks, my ability to design webpages, book covers, magazine layouts and the like is utterly woeful. This does not hurt me one bit, because I have never been under any illusions to the contrary. Back in the day, la japonesa designed me a brilliantly elegant business card, and I thought how easy she made it look. It isn’t, as many abortive attempts since then have proved. So someone with even the slightest flair for laying things (but not their employer) out would be more than welcome. And similarly …
Illustrator: I can draw naked people and even paint the odd landscape reasonably well, which is good enough for me, but book illustration, especially for the kiddies, is a different skill, which is (a) beyond me and (b) a far from suitable setting for sketches of nudey ladies. And Mr Poonlop and his many possible sequels cry out for some well-drawn, not-too-stylised pictures, showing the characters in hilarious situations all over Paris. The candidate is more than welcome to hire models and travel to France to research the backgrounds, but not I’m afraid, at my expense. Unless someone takes up the next job …
Rich patron: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, as a budding composer, was spotted by rich widow and businesswoman, Countess Nadezhda von Meck, who decided to sponsor him for thirteen years, so that he could concentrate on composing. And she, a noted recluse, did this on the condition that they never met. Now. If anyone wants to give this a go in the case of a wannabe geriatric prodigy, please write now to arrange the standing order (or one bulk payment, the choice is yours). The not-meeting clause is far from essential, as long as you don’t want to influence the works done (or complain about the lack of them: the man of genius, as Aristotle tells us, is doing most when he appears to be doing least: that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I usually find that most people who do meet me insist on a not-meeting-ever-again clause in our general association, so writing it in would be a mere formality. Again, a rich person who wishes to fund my life while fulfilling any or all of the other rôles would be welcomed with open arms (I’ll even take a bath before opening them). And even without money or talent, you could fill the most important rôle of all …
General acolyte: even if you can’t do the more technical stuff, you could just follow me around, letting me bounce stupid ideas off you, going Wow! at regular and carefully chosen intervals, fetching me drinks or snacks, even buying them for me, if that makes you feel good. Just chat and listen and be there (oh, ye gods, I’m so fucking lonely!).
Only joking … or am I?
Apply now. You’ll be sorry you did.
*Well, immoral support would not be necessary; I just couldn’t resist the gag.
It’s been a quiet week on Grieve-Not Lake.
Yes, I only just realised that Garrison Keillor’s Wobegone has the same root. I used to know his son-in-law; maybe I could ask if the Minnesota-China reference is intentional.
Anyhoo, apart from climbing one of Embra’s seven hills, sorting out round three of the Scottish Arts Club short story competition and a few other admin tasks, it’s been a week of poetry and disappointment.
Disappointment because the Traverse Theatre didn’t want the play I may have mentioned in previous blogs. And poetry because I is trying to write me a sonnet for a competition to mark the four hundredth anniversary of that there Shakespeare bloke.
I think I got me a sonnet, but I can’t share it with you, gentle reader, because it can’t have been published anywhere before them lovely judgey people sees it.
But I have scribbled another piece. I have a book or two in my bog (bathroom), poetry for shorter visits, short stories and novels in case of dyssentery, and one of them is a collected pomes of Philip Larkin, him of They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad fame. And I was reading one from 1958, called Home Is So Sad, which goes like this …
Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.
and that, in turn, set me off to write this …
Starting from a Line of Larkin
The music in the piano stool
included ‘Furry Liza‘, and (so
typical of me) I tried to learn
the piece, with
x no prior knowledge,
x no technique,
x no practiced scales,
x no finger exercises.
the tiny numbers had to indicate
the fingers meant for notes and where
upon each stave to find a middle C,
precocious logic worked out
all the rest.
what was lacking was determination:
determination and a willingness
to take instruction, practice. And,
the slightest smidgeon of an aptitude.
Whatever failings may take on the task
x of justifying mediocrity,
x of excusing poor results,
the simple moral still remains:
reason alone doth not an artist make.
x And there, bound in a nutcase,
x you have the story of my life.
My main activity just now should be learning the ukulele daily (if not gaily). I need to play it in my turns for the Edinburgh Fringe in August, and, as this video explains and demonstrates, I can’t.
Meanwhile I also made a bit of progress on a more salacious and silly bit of epic verse, the beginning of which I shall leave you with for now. Hopefully the whole, disgusting saga will be available one day …
I sing the young lad’s apish essence,
The piquant joys of adolescence;
With lazy bones and potty mouth,
And brains inclined to travel South;
That fascination with one’s bits
That stiffen at the thought of tits.
Young Hamish, aged about fifteen,
Invented a ‘cheap thrill machine’
He showed his chums, with great elation
His novel aid to masturbation.
With straps around his waist and thighs
It could adjust to any size.
Likewise the sleeve around the Hampton* —
As soon as it was firmly clamped on,
Small servo motors did the work
To give a steady, rhythmic jerk,
Perfect for leaving both hands free
To deal with the pornography
to be continued.
*Cockney rhyming slang for ‘prick’, from the place near That London called Hampton Wick.
I can beat you at procrastination the day after any day
[probably from Current’s Turn, the never to be written sequel to Fardel’s Bear (see previous blogs)]
Hello again. Last week I suddenly decided I’d bored myself, and probably any readers, quite enough, describing my unfinished (or even unstarted) dramatic works, and I’d give us all a break before finishing this list of unachievements with the visual, plastic, concrete and edible stuff. The old website for Lucidity Ltd (making things clear …) will show some of the things that have been made and even, occasionally and cheaply, sold.
The Finnish language has (possibly) a tense called the past potential used for things that could have happened but didn’t. When I describe things below, just imagine I’m using such a tense in English.
- I’ve given up on life — drawing, that is. At least for now (and boy, do I need to upgrade that web page!). Repeated attempts to do justice to the human form, interesting though some have been, were getting stale, and life classes, with their unpredictable poses and viewpoints, were no longer the place to try out new techniques. Not wanting it to just be some sort of hobby (my time is wasted in too many ways as it is — who said such as this blog? – the cheek!), if I ever again need to produce a particular work or practice a style, I shall try to scrape up the money to scrape up a model of appropriate size, shape and sex. Never say never again, I suppose.
- I’m not all that inclined to get out the paintbrushes either, though I do have two series I could add to, if the mood ever took me. There are some portraits that mean a lot to me, and — in a recent break from basing my work on peoples — an oily exploration of the bings (oil shale waste heaps) of West Lothian.The latter, with their fascinating backstory and varied appearances (from a giant fan to a miniature Uluru) speak of history, geological, environmental and social, as well as being a forerunner of the controversial modern practice known as fracking; and provide a damn good excuse to experiment with techniques of application and abstraction on different scales. I’ve even sold one!
- As mentioned last week, I made a chess set once. It’s pretty good but could be better. So I started a second. Ages ago. It’s in a box, somewhere, whittled and weighted but not finished. One day. Maybe.
- At a Vermeer exhibition in Den Haag, it occurred to me that all great art is conceptual (preferably numinously so), but by no means all conceptual art is great. You may quote me. A guy who tried to teach me to sculpt also said that a problem with conceptual art is that you don’t have to see a pile of bricks to appreciate the idea behind Carl Andre’s Equivalent series. Be that as it may, I have been moved in the presence of Hirsts, Wilson’s 20:50 and a Mike Nelson lumber room. And I’d really like some of my ideas to be taken from the page to the gallery, especially my Body Dharma installation, in which the punter gets to consider their relationship with their own naked body (probably leading to even more depression and therapy). Any rich patrons out there wanna bankroll it?
- With all these things produced down the years (yes, the ones that are finished), comes the pompously illusory need to do a retrospective exhibition. The rise of the pop-up gallery, taking cheap advantage of business premises regularly left vacant by this parlous impresarial culture, seems a bandwagon on which one could jump. Different areas could show different types of work, the naked bodies could be placed discreetly at the back, including a table of all my old life class sketches, sold off for a pound each, under the witty label, A Pound of Flesh (laugh, damn you!), and the centrepiece of the show would be a pop-up book, opened to reveal a scale model of the whole show. Sheer genius.
If only I had the nerve to go ahead with it but, like Mr Morrissey, ‘I am the son and heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar’.
I just don’t do focus or category, nor, as la japonesa pointed out, do I ‘have a bland’ (I assume she meant ‘brand’). Nor do I stick to the usual art forms in my burgeoning, floundering creativity.
- You want card games? I gotta card game; it’s called Atahualpa. Because it’s based on (or ripped off from) cuarenta, the national card game of Ecuador (Atahualpa, the last Inca, was born in what is now Quito). The original game is simple, fun and slightly silly. I found out about it when I was trying to find online the soft leather slippers I used to buy in Córdoba. I think I might do a blog about the game one day, when this apparent non sequitur will be explained. But I designed a version which I thought might sell, if I had the nerve to invest in getting a few thousand packs made in Indialand. As a later moan will show, I know this would be money down the drain, so I haven’t.
- Bottoms. Everyone likes bottoms. I’ve designed a set of stationery items shaped like bottoms. I’ve even registered the design (and got a distributor who will market them if I have them made). I fear they may fall into a ‘taste gap’ between the Newton’s cradle executive toy and the utterly naff clockwork willy, but there probably is a market for anyone with that old entrepreneurial drive what Yrs Trly so lacks, and the gonads to invest a couple of grand in having a Chinese manufacturer churn out thousands of bum-shaped glass paperweights, to be sold at £4 profit each. Apparently the Dragons of Den fame don’t like novelty items, or it would have been such fun to go on there and say, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve come to sell you my arse.
- Part of me fancies the idea of running a restaurant. Not shouting and swearing at people like a Ramsay or White, not trying to bring quantum physics into saucemaking, like Blumincheek; just some sort of streetfood experience. Inspired by a cycle shop in Bangor called Mike’s Bikes, I fancied the idea of Dai’s Pies. The thought of having one spiced dish called Pain on a Plate appealed, as did a few other alliterations and puns.
Then a year at the Edinburgh Fringe in which a snack from every stall was chewed (while all actual shows were eschewed), made me aware of the lack in the UK of a good po’ boy. All memory had faded of where I’d heard of these delicious, spicy sandwiches, and no existing outlet sold the real thing, passing off the likes of plain pulled pork in a tiny, soggy ciabatta as substitutes for the delicious, foot-long remouladed beef, oysters, shrimp or pork patties with salad.
The same part of me liked the idea of opening an all-night café somewhere in the student quarter of town. Friends from Poland and the like are often amazed that such places aren’t commonplace here, and with one, the idea was developed of an establishment called (after dark at least) Children of the Night (after Bela Lugosi’s description of the wolves around Castle Dracula). The sign would show a howling pig, silhouetted against a full moon. The café would be staffed by East European drama students, dressed in black roll-neck jumpers, who would hand you your drink while saying, in sepulchral tones, ve are all going to die — here is your cappuccino. There would be a ‘miserable hour’ when everything costs ten percent more from 11:20pm to 00:40am (miserable hours are always longer than an hour), a student surcharge of twenty percent and a disloyalty card — a card with ten spaces for stamps, five of which must be filled in other cafés to qualify for a free coffee here (to encourage variety and discourage stick-in-the-muds).
But this part of me that fancies doing these things is the part that’s oblivious to the amount of time, effort and money needed to stand a chance of getting them off the ground. In the absence of a dynamic young team to help out, I think it’d be easier and equally profitable just to sit on The Shore, throwing money into the Water of Leith. See you there.
- I don’t have a smart phone. I have a thick phone; it’s all I need most of the time, nobody calls me anyway, and after decades working with computers, I don’t want to carry one of the bastards around everywhere. I have a small digital camera but the viewing screen is on the back only. I only mention this because I had the idea of doing a collection of photos of people sitting or standing by my side, but with me hardly in the picture if at all. I just wanted to challenge the hegemony of the selfie with pics of someone else — Elsies, in fact. It’s a spin off from the idea of photographing unknown members of the public standing next to ‘celebs’ (the streets of Edinburgh are full of both in August), but cropping the famous one from the finished picture (but not the title).
- Music, music, music. As has been mentioned, frustrated musical dreams lie behind all these frustrated ambitions in the other arts. When still a teen I started a parodic cantata for school choir and orchestra called It’s Very Good, Considering, not to mention a stirring tone poem called Cader Idris. And now, more realistically, I wanted to do a free translation of the songs of George Brassens; sadly, the simplest strumming on a guitar has always been beyond me, so the chances of working out the notes and being able to play them while singing something are less than zero. I’m still trying to find chords to fit my rendition of When I’m Cleaning Windows™ on a ukulele (five different sets of tabs downloaded, none sounds remotely right, even when I can get my fingers into place). And as to my efforts on the tenor sax, the less said the better. Damned ASBOs!
So there you have it, apart from a hundred books to read, a few ideas for barred cryptic crosswords and heaven knows what else burbling away in the back of the brane or the bottom of desk drawers, there’s enough to keep a small army going and bring hitherto undreamt of vistas of hope, laughter and delight to humankind, even before I get on to the philosophical works about love, chaos, value, sexual politics, blah, blah, blah.
But for now, weighed down by the enormity of it all and my innate defeatism, I need to get an early night. If anybody has actually been reading this, I suspect they do too.
Don’t have nightmares.