The Danikils


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It’s UK National Poetry Day Tomorrow.

And, purely coincidentally, as I went to bed in the wee small hours, I suddenly had a Proustian flashback to a poem called The Danikils, by ‘T.Y.’

T.Y. was a lad called Alan Tinsley and his effort was on the front page of my earliest effort at journalistic excellence, a class newspaper, set as a project by an English teacher (the name and other identifying features of whom have completely left my brain).

Rather like Dr Johnson’s dog on its hind legs, we were a least as surprised that Tinsley had done this at all as by any qualities it may have had. He had never been noted as a creative mind, an average student (given that he was already in an above average grammar school setting), more inclined to science subjects than arts and lit. Indeed I often wondered if he’d found this parody elsewhere and sneaked it in, but that would not really have been like him either. Then again, I’ve written things myself which I’ve suspected were too good to be original (but every man likes the smell of his own farts, as they say), and wondered if I’d dug them from some dormant memory.

I doubt it was a great parody. Technically it was a matter of taking Wordsworth’s Daffodils and tweaking a few words here and there. I shouldn’t knock that approach, I use it far too often myself, even fifty years on. And the effect of Tinsley’s effort seemed very funny at the time, and not just to us sixteen-year-olds; the teacher was mighty impressed and also mighty surprised.

I wish I could remember more of it. I think the line ‘vacant and expensive mood’ was in there, but I have a feeling someone else, a professional writist like Paul Jennings may have used it too. Only one bit really sticks — I can’t even recall whether he wandered lonely as a cloud or some variation thereon, but lines three to six were definitely …

When all at once I spied a crowd
A host of hairy Danikils
Beside the pool, beneath the trees
Doing the dance of the cheddar cheese.

Well, it just goes to prove my assertion that anyone can do this parody stuff, and undermine any ambition I might have to sell myself as anything special, though I am assured by small Chinese women that I’m a genius.

And I’ve been asked to recite (or at least read) The Raven for the Scottish Arts Club’s Halloween Poe evening. I can’t think of that without tweaking the first line in a Tinsleyish manner myself. It always comes to my mind as …

Once, upon a midnight dreary, as I sat with Wallace Beery …

But I shall dress in black and do it straight of course. I’m even buying a smoking cap to wear as I read it from an armchair…

A video may follow. Or not.


Don’t Shoot the Piano Player


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“Let’s stop romanticising the misguided, possibly dangerous actions of spurned men.
On Saturday, the Bristol Post reported the story of how a 34-year-old man was intending to play one of the city’s public pianos in order to “win” back his ex girlfriend. Calling the woman who he’d been dating for four months “Rapunzel”, the stunt was intended to show off how much he loved her.
As is fairly typical in these kinds of stories, the Post branded the stunt as romantic, calling Luke Howard “heartbroken”, tagging his efforts as “dedication” in their tweet. However, in refusing to accept his ex girlfriend’s “no”, and by making a huge public statement demanding that she recognises his “love” for her, Howard’s behaviour is not romantic. It’s entitled – and it’s symptomatic of a wider problem of men’s harassment of their exes.
This is not the first time that women have been told to accept men not taking no for an answer as a romantic gesture. From John Cusack’s ghetto blaster in Say Anything… to the best man’s creepy filming of his friend’s bride in Love Actually, the ideal of a heartbroken man harassing the object of his affection has been sold to us as true love over and over again.
But there’s nothing romantic about refusing to accept that a woman has a right to leave you. It’s not a love story when a woman tells a man “no” and he demands she change it to a “yes”.”
[various posts, originating on a site called The Pool, I think]

I find the reactions in some quarters to this poor, suffering sod most upsetting, What mean-minded miserable buggers there are in this world. HAve they never been dumped? Or even loved?

On what basis are people extrapolating shit about ‘entitlement’, and his not accepting her ‘right’ to leave him? It’s a dumbass gesture born of wretchedness, and I’ll agree the guy seems a bit of a wet twerp, but at most it’s a case of pleading, not ‘demanding’. I see no evidence in article or interview of him not ‘accepting her right’, but he seems to be trying to exercise his own right of appeal (not very appealingly, it must be said). And unless the poor lass lives near the piano or he’s lugging around wherever she goes, he’s hardly ‘harrassing’ her.

Personally, I would support a policy of summary execution for anyone who dumps their partner without good demonstrable cause (though not after such a short relationship as his with ‘Rapunzel’, and with the proviso that the dumpee has to agree to it — and that after a cooling-off period). If I stabbed someone I could cause them extreme pain and some possible impairment, and I would quite rightly be castigated and punished for it, but the wounds would heal in short order, and life continue much as it was.  Dumping someone who loves you can cause at least as much anguish, physical pain, and even seriously increase their risk of heart failure, leaving internal scars that time does little more than stick plasters over, and which make successive relationships harder to hold down; but the law doesn’t even get involved unless the sufferer acts unreasonably and illegally. Even then the victim gets all the blame and deprecation, rather than any support or help.

Theologists used to say (maybe still do) that the greatest sin is to break a vow. If free will is the main gift of the deity, we take a great step by surrendering it to a promise.  So the greatest insult to said deity is to throw the gift back in Her face by breaking our word. And the same people who demand (and they are demanding) that guys simply accept the pain of being dumped are usually those who bemoan the lack of commitment shown by so many blokes these days. I have heard someone say that their vow to stay for better for worse, ‘didn’t include if it made me miserable’. For fuck’s sake, it’s no vow if you’re only saying ‘I promise to stay as long as it makes me happy’! And anyway, statistics show that a great many dumpers come to regret it later, by which times. I’d be the last to say ‘suck it up’ about any misery it does cause, but to cause even more misery to get out of it is morally no better than stealing to solve your cash flow problems.

But like I say, the guy seems to be making a prize pranny of himself. Stephen Pinker suggested that the irrational actions of the rejected have evolved to make the rejectee scared and more likely to stay around out of physical fear. I rather think they’re there to ensure the separation. Grand romantic gestures, and all the other things that a man or woman will do when scrabbling with bleeding fingertips to cling onto a crumbling cliff, do little more than make us look complete twats that no one could possibly love. That will kill any tendency to guilt feelings in the dumper, so they can go off and mate with some fresh supplier of eggs or sperm.  Life, eh?

I need a random title here etiquette


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I love the way that scams and spams come in waves. The next big thing, the bandwagon all the sad little wannabe crooks jump on to, despite the fact that folks might smell a rat rather quickly if they get ten mails telling them they’ve successfully cancelled an Amazon order they never made.

Yeah, I’ve been getting that one a lot lately. And the one where someone tells me they got my address (and presumably that of the other ten random addresses in the ‘to’ box) from a site where I registered to make money online. So even if I had ever done such a thing, would I not wonder why so many people were sending me similar offers to take my money off me at the same time?

But my favourite now is the one that tells me I have unread facebook messages (to an email that doesn’t even have a linked facebook account). But it doesn’t just say, “You have three unread messages on facebook” or that these will soon be deleted. Oh no, it also adds a random word on the end. I assume this is to fool spam filters looking for set phrases. The extra word is probably chosen at random from a dictionary and appended.

Some might think this would make the average user wary. But it is a known fact that these mails are full of bad English and spelling and stuff to make the smarter (or at least more fastidious) folk delete right away, rather than spark investigations and traces. So a stupid extra word will hardly be noticed by the less tech-savvy target audience who will think Oh dear, I hadn’t noticed the messages, I should go on fb more often, I’ll click here to … oh, shit!


But what I love most about these things is that the extra words provide me with a novel source of randomly generated concrete poetry.

This interest goes back ages. At university, we used to cut up newspapers and place the words on active hot plates, writing them down in the order they caught fire. Sadly none of the poems still exist (rather like the hall of residence in question); but these things, like Tibetan sand mandalas, are meant to be ephemeral.

As is this one, being the extra words of a week’s worth of such emails, in order of arrival. Not sure who Ripley is (except Sigourney Weaver in Alien or the dog in the very wonderful Edinburgh gelateria, Affogato), but it’s right on the money (see what I did there) about Mike Pence’s ‘cursive’ ambitions.

(you have) unread messages

paragraphing topics
attackers jaunts beggary
trucker ripley
delegation forward
cursive ambitions
pence littered fiddler




By the way, while I’m here, if anyone (especially in Europe or UK) would like to look at my chum’s questionnaire about music and the arts in education, we’d be so grateful we will kiss the statue of your choice at the next opportunity.

Some Things for Jing


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As my houseguest keeps making demands on me to download this, tell her about that or write something about the other, I might as well share some of the fruits to save the trouble of writing a blog per se

London’s West End

London’s ‘Theatre Land’ is the area known as the West End (the East End being found in the financial City of London and beyond).  Although companies in Shakespeare’s time had played at venues in less central parts of London, the first permanent theatre in the district opened in 1663 on Drury Lane (where the Theatre Royal now stands).

The West End is now the largest theatre district in the world, covering more than a square kilometre and containing about forty venues.

All types of theatre are performed, from classic drama to modern plays and stand up comedy. The West End also boast two of the World’s top opera houses, the Coliseum and the Royal Opera House (home to the Royal Opera and Ballet companies). But the area is best known for its musical theatre, from the Classics like Oklahoma and South Pacific to modern favourites like Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Blood Brothers and Les Miserables. Another popular genre in recent years has been the ‘juke box’ musical, where a story is constructed around the songs of a famous band or singer, such as We Will Rock You (Queen) and Mama Mia! (Abba).

Going to a West End show is now a feature of many tourists’ visit to London, and the area sells over 14 million tickets every year.


BBC Radio 3

The British Broadcasting Company Limited was founded in 1922. It was a private company, owned by a consortium of radio equipment manufacturers. In 1927 this became the British Broadcasting Corporation, a body under the ownership of the UK government but largely independent of their control.  The main source of funding was a fee paid by all who bought a license to use a radio receiver (and later a television).

By 1946 the BBC had two radio channels (and one television channel, the only one in the UK). The Home Service was mainly speech programmes (factual and drama) and the Light Programme provided ‘light entertainment’ (popular music, comedy, quiz shows etc). The Third Channel was formed to carry ‘serious’ music, drama, poetry, prose and discussion, a more intellectual content than the other channels or television. Leading philosophers such as Bertrand Russell and Isaiah Berlin as well as historians and other academics were regularly featured.

It was involved in the first broadcasts of some major works, such as Dylan Thomas’s ‘Pay for Voices’, Under Milk Wood, and many of the compositions of leading British and International composers, such as Britten and Shostakovich.

In 1967 the BBC made major changes, not only introducing a second tv channel, BBC2, but also responding to the challenge from commercial (and illegal) stations transmitting pop music for a younger audience, by introducing Radio 1. As part of this shake-up, the Light Programme became Radio 2 and the Home Service became Radio 4. Logically, the Third Programme became Radio 3. It still broadcasts predominantly classical music, with some programmes specifically dedicated to ‘early’ music (Bach and before), contemporary music, both mainstream and radical, Jazz and ‘World’ music. It has weekly drama programmes and opera broadcasts, and a nightly hour of debate, discussion or talks on a range of cultural subjects. Its main, commercial ‘rival’ for classical music is Classic FM, but this has a more mainstream agenda, concentrates on the less ‘demanding’ repertoire, and doesn’t often play whole symphonies or operas.

The Proms

The BBC Proms, or Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, are a music festival that goes back over 120 years. The idea of ‘promenading’ or strolling around while listening to music began in the mid eighteenth century. It was a regular feature of London’s ‘pleasure gardens’, public parks where orchestras or bands would play on the covered bandstands. Such stands, usually dating from the nineteenth century, can still be seen in many UK parks.

From the 1830s, indoor Proms, where seats were removed and the audience was free to move around were popular. In 1895, the conductor Henry Wood was invited by the impresario Robert Newman to begin a series of such concerts with the aim of ‘training the public by easy stages’, introducing them to classical music with popular pieces at first, then longer, more complex and modern works. Because there were no seats, larger audiences could be accommodated, and thus tickets could be much cheaper.  This meant a wider section of society could have access to top quality performances.

The Concerts were originally held in the Queen’s Hall, next to the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London, just north of Oxford Street. In 1927, after the death of Newman, the BBC itself took over the running of the concerts. At this time, Monday concerts were usually of music by Wagner, Fridays, Beethoven and a mixture of other works, especially by living composers, on other nights (no concerts on Sundays).

During the War, the BBC withdrew support and concerts continued with whoever was available under private sponsorship, until German bombs destroyed the Hall in 1941. The BBC resumed ownership and Sir Henry died in 1944, and the Proms moved, first to the Royal Albert Hall and then to the town of Bedford for a while.

After the War, the returned to the Albert Hall, where they have stayed eve since. A significant event was the appointment of Sir Malcolm Sargent as chief conductor, a post he held until 1966.  A very flamboyant man, he was nicknamed ‘Flash Harry’ He always wore a carnation in his buttonhole and made speeches to the audience, full of humour. As he was born a few months before the first Proms in 1895, he claimed that Henry Wood heard of this and invented the Proms, “to give me something to do when I grew up”. His speeches on the Last Night of the Proms, the big, fun concert, full of patriotic songs and silliness, set the standard for all conductors who have followed. When a critic accused him of making concert audiences act like football fans, he replied, that this was a good thing!

So now the Proms run for about eight weeks each summer and the number of concerts has steadily grown. This year there are 75 concerts, at least one a day for 58 days. As well as those in the Albert Hall, there are regular chamber music concerts in the nearby Cadogan Hall and, for the first time, a Proms in another city, as an extra concert comes from the UK City of Culture 2017, Hull. Concerts still concentrate on the ‘core repertoire’ of Western classical music, composers from Bach and Vivaldi to Shostakovich and Britten, but there are plenty of more recent (and earlier) pieces; the Proms commissions a number of new works from living composers each year and gives the UK premieres of many more. In recent years, the content has become even broader, with special concerts of film music, music for Children or based on popular tv series, like Dr Who. Pop bands, jazz and folk musicians are also featured, with special concerts dedicated to performers like David Bowie or Scott Walker. Some say this is ‘dumbing down’, others claim that it brings a whole new audience to the experience of concert-going, which is what Henry Wood and Malcolm Sargent intended to do in their times.

Cessation of hostilities


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I have a blocked drain, a slow brain and a fast train to take on Sunday. I’ve been hobnobbing and Smorresbroding in København and setting up websites and all that…

And I have a guest staying for a few weeks and Festival stuff to do, so don’t expect much if anything for the next few Wednesdays.

But you can do me a favour by taking a look at my chum’s questionnaire (work in progress, so criticisms as well as answers welcome), if you like. Especially if you live or was eddercated in the UK or Europe.  Ta.  See ya!

Click here. Go on, you know you want to …

Writer’s Block


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Aaaaggh! My sink is blocked. How can I blog when my sink is blocked?

It drains but only into the washing machine, which I can then pump out … back into the sink.

I’m typing this with rubber gloves on, goddamit. And I have to get ready to fly to a wonderful, wonderful, salty old maid of the sea early on Friday …

Life does keep getting in the way, doesn’t it?

Laters, dudes

Holding Pattern: Top of the Form

Must to my club just now. Picture on display in the new group show. May be back late. This post just a placeholder. Something may replace it soon.

Or not. Can’t show the picture for rather silly personal reasons.


Addendumb: I’m trying to set up a form at my website to do a questionnaire for a chum. It’s quite a learning curve. What you see there is not yet in the form of a form. The answers are dummies (as I think is rather obvious from the content). It’s taking up my spare time so blogging is on hold.

Waiting for the Rug


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I’m waitin’ for my rug
Is someone takin’ me for a mug?
Bought it on ebay, four days ago
Startin’ to wonder if it’s ever gonna show
I’m waitin’ for my rug

Hey, white van, what you doin’ up West?
Hey, white van, you got my rug in that chest?
“No, pardon me sir, I ain’t got no rugs
I’m only down this way to buy me some drugs”
I’m still waiting for my rug

Got me a desk, got me an office chair
Put in my bedroom, so I can write in there
Those wheels are hard, those wheels are crude
I need a runner so the floorboards don’t get screwed
I’m waitin’ for my rug

Went on the web page, looked up carpets and stuff
Cheap and cheerful, hard-wearin’ and tough
Check the expected delivery date
But the thing with online shoppin’ is you always gotta wait
I’m waitin’ for my rug

Went on the web, looked on the trackin’ site
Said it’s dispatched, said it’s been out all night
It’s on its way, it’ll be fine
Comin’ tomorrow but that’s just another time
I’m waitin for my rug, my feet are cold