A Lost Tribe

 Posted by at 11:33 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 292010

And what about the brothers? Do
they have a place next to Uncle Wally? One of them, after all, is my father.
Their outlines smudged by death and the passage of time. A lost tribe coming
down from the hills to watch us as we puzzle our way onwards, lives that spanned
the twentieth century, abandoning the north of England in the twenties to find
new ways in the south, drawn to the magnet of London. No longer here to insist
on their right of occupation, their reality, their truth, the miners' lamps dim in the glare of the violence of our longings, our prejudices, the darkness of
our desires. The mines are closed, the steelworks flattened, the giant leaks
remain in lovingly tended vegetable patches.

Muscles are useless now, there is
no need for them, so we find our new leisured ways through the labyrinth.
Father, father . . . who do I call? – God, dad, priest  or all three, some strength in support, to keep me facing forward when I despair of the thread that is supposed to lead
me out. The thread that turns into futility and failure, when the flame of hope
is extinguished. Is there somebody, some father, shouting on the touchline,
that, yes I can do it and to bloody well get on with it.

A call to rekindle the mischievous glint, to move into the
centre, to look across the dance floor, to see the line of women, cool or warm,
smiling or poker faced, a challenge to dance.

But then we might ignore the
wisdom of the ancestors, slip away, lie, fabricate, tell each other stories and
find another war to fight. If it’s true that some of us only find meaning in
war, then despite the opportunity to pay attention to the exposures carefully
expounded at the Chilcot inquiry, there will be those persuading us to arms.
Yes, and I’m also trying to follow what Uncle Wally is saying – a lot of
swearing, a lot of laughter – no words of guidance, more like, work it out for

Uncle Wally’s Lamplight

 Posted by at 12:49 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 262010

….Who might be the target? It depends on where Uncle Wally's lamplight falls, and who it finds blinking back, the beam emerging from between his eyes and slightly above, the head torch fitted to a standard miner's coal helmet, the same worn by men underground whether it is Sollihull or Silesia, Sanchow or Siberia.

Othewise, it has been pitch black here, and cold. Not that we haven't been amusing ourselves. Like critics, arguing about some subtle shades of absent colour. Or scientists calculating the degrees of chill. Or artists exhibiting our beautiful/horrifying visions, like those remembered from our 1970's grand old California days lying in saline water in sensory deprivation tanks, or the Gothic tales told of, or was it by, Ormagh bodies left for days wrapped from head to toe in cotton wool.

- No more second hand, Uncle Wally growls. Christ, doesn't the man know what metaphor is, I whisper quietly to myself, how literal does this get?

Uncertain. Uncertain because these are the days since we made the discovery of water-boarding. And in my previous line of work, advance care directives, living wills and other ways of preparing for death, or Death Planning, as it is now politely called.

Howls of protest!

– There's a world of a difference! somebody shouts from the general direction of Dr Crippen and others sat under the sign of Guardian Readers. How obscene!

Of course we are well-intentioned, and of course there is a difference, a big difference between water-boarding and Death Planning, but my problem is I am not sure that Uncle Wally sees it that way, not when the beam of his lamplight actually happens to fall on me. Or on any of us, because it is all of our problem actually, the problem of false consciousness that is, not just mine.

- I see you! Dr Vegas says from where he is sat behind me.

Critical Mass

 Posted by at 6:59 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 232010

You’ve got to keep the pressure
up. Viagra of the mind? Pseudo potency – 
endless fabrication. Wanker, murmurs Uncle Wally.


‘What’s up, Wally, you sound dejected.’


‘Nah,’ a guttural whisper.


The practical joker has a glint
in his eye. Those that know him tense, look around uneasy, not knowing where it
might come from, who might be the target. Minds scan the conversation of the
last ten minutes eager for clues.


How are we to avoid trauma? It
comes out of nowhere. My God, I wasn’t ready for that. And then life is never
the same.


And another thing, Wally never
knows when to stop.


We really want to hang on to our
privileges. It’s not long before we regard them as our rights. We get used to
them. After all, don’t I deserve everything that I’ve worked so hard for? Sure,
course you do, absolutely, no question about it.


Wally, on the other hand, is very
keen to divest us of our precious privileges. Let’s equal things out a bit. For
a laugh. He has a big, generous laugh. Everybody’s included. It reaches right into
the Mass, wild, outrageous, confronting.


I’m just needing a bit of prayer
time, Wally.


No chance!

“Imaginative Religiosity”

 Posted by at 8:06 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 192010

Because we want to believe,even in the face of seismic events of horrific proportions, Haiti, or the ultimate uncertainties in our own lives. We want to believe so hard, and not just with our rational side in order to make up our minds, we exercise every scrap of our imaginations too. Self-intoxication.

Intoxicated with the world one way or another. India… beauty… pleasures… and equally the downsides… the irritancies, and the unpleasant… even illness… and natural disasters… and violence… violence, and conflict of course.

Like provocative WHITE SPACE, too much thinking rushing around, or too much noise, like 'border blasting' religions.

'My guess is somebody slipped his machine a micky-finn', Uncle Wally said, as we squatted down at the roadside together trying to work out the best route for the day. I nodded, that WHITE SPACE. 'Out of order', Uncle Wally continued.

Out of order – also a South London term for somebody or something overstepping the mark, and implying a sharp correction about to follow: Uncle Wally, normally so quiet and peacable, but when an angry man, swift and to the point, the sword of judgement.

Running Man

 Posted by at 8:42 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 142010

Running man, blood coursing: zesty, zcintillating, all those zeeing ways of being, rock leaping, kriz grazped, lungz gazping, eyez wild – he'z coming for YOU!


So what's up this blog? I don't mean Alastair Campbell at the Chilcot inquiry or even the earthquake in Haiti – though the impact of that latter is hard to bear with – but merely the puzzle of this blog as reported by YOU. All I can see on the wtw blog is perfectly arranged paragraphs. But there you are yelping in distress, knickers round your knees, mumbling all sorts of techno babble gabble. At least I'll assume it makes sense to somebody and anyway who wants to read that stuff? Not me!


BUT surely something needs to be done. I don't think I need Prezzie Obama, but maybe for a start I'll check how the blog looks on a friend's computer. Maybe there's a friend out there who doesn't have a Mac, maybe the pigs are flying tonight.

Apple-tab-span style=”WHITE-SPACE: pre”

 Posted by at 2:19 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 112010

How did he, the other one that is, manage to get here? First-footing, as the Scots will have it, with his lady friend and minder Uncle Wally in front, him with a lump of coal, a pinch of salt, and a piece of bread (I think it was bread), and first across the threshold.

Sorry it took me so long to get here too, I said through gritted teeth and thoroughly out of breath from running to catch up. The trouble is when you take a knife or sword with the name “WHITE SPACE” on the blade, what you get are the beginnings of three lines disappearing off to the right instead of paragraphs, off-screen as it is called, so that as far as I know, and anybody else with a PC, all the action is taking place going towards some sharp-pointed vanishing point, or to put it another way, infinity.

Well, the conversation was bound to get back to knives and swords sooner or later, sharp-pointed or sharp-edged, whichever is your preference, but according to Javier Marias’s ‘patriot’ (Your Face Tomorrow, Vol 3, 2009), it is swords which make a far more long-lasting impression, that is if you don’t intend being Sir Death at once, but only Sir Maim or Sir Hurt, somebody with a look on  their face not unlike the man in Rodin’s sculpture the Kiss I shouldn’t doubt.

Gummias, and yatagans, bolos from the Philipines, as well as the kris, he referred to, all part of the Marias litany of weapons, and rapiers of course, the conflict between the devotees of Apple Mac and PC continuing unchecked, and almost as lacking in imagination as the ‘imaginative religiosity’ occurring here towards the south tip of India. Thankfully, the ‘border blasting’ Christian assault planned for Epiphany, and previously referred to a week ago, was washed out by a massive tropical storm on Saturday night and all of Sunday.

So I only found his words by climbing into the HTML, and that is how I have managed to get here, out of breath like I said from running fast to catch up. Superior knowledge you could call it, or simply access to areas denied to others, restricted as they say.  Pity the rest of the world on PC, but then from the Mac perspective the first ten words of his three paragraphs stretching towards infinity might be all they deserve to see, and as for the rest off-screen where anything is possible in the world of what did or did not happen, who cares.

‘Tomorrow in the battle, think on me, and fall thy edgeless sword: despair and die!’ Richard III –  Lady Anne speaks her curse, and, as it happens, also a favourite quote of Marias, and the title to one of his previously published books, the first four words of Shakespeare’s line that is, the rest being hidden from the helpless and baffled victim.

Another Year

 Posted by at 12:40 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 072010

On New Year's Day – bright, clear, brilliant, below freezing – walking through London with Italian friend Beatrice, I was called to whisper the words "it's 2010" with a not-so-secret excitement. Though at least secret enough for me to not know what I was excited about. Perhaps there were textures of "how did I manage to get here?"


It was only when I read your blog post yesterday morning that it occurred to me that the kris armed assassins were on their way bare-foot, winding their surreptitious paths to their appointment with that old pantomime dame Karma Kali. She of the multi-coloured petticoats and stringed skulls, accompanying her wailing litany on a battered ukulele.


Uncle Wally was first through the door, spilling coal from pockets, spluttering in bronchial delight. We hadn't thought to close the door, we were too busy burning the Victorian oak dining table in an effort to keep warm. There are downsides to this when the chimneys were blocked up in 1966 in the uncontrolled ambition to be modern. But we were blessed, not only by the ministering angel Uncle Wally, but by discovering some bottles of sweet sherry, missed from earlier Bacchanalian transports. So with the brussel sprouts and a few stale almond biscotti (we guessed from Christmas 2001) we were as happy as . . . as what exactly? . . . dreamers who wake up to discover that they haven't won that four million on the lottery.


Beatrice wanted to see Rodin's The Kiss which she was convinced was hidden somewhere inside Tate Modern. So after delving into the Black Box we were off in search of The Kiss and eventually after three or four wrong directions given by Tate Modern staff we happened upon it. An unhappy kiss, I thought. She's doing her best but he's so ungiving, unwilling to give up his castle ramparts of a back, unwilling to free himself from stony indifference. Ah, what were those marks on her backside? Suddenly I knew, exactly where the assassins had sharpened their krises. Razor sharp they were heading to Bombay believing it to be 1910. How will they get through airport security? There's probably no category for them in profiling schedules.

Border Blasting: the Proper Way to Start the New Year

 Posted by at 7:35 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Jan 032010

… And no end to a world in conflict. Here we are on the front line between the State of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in India, where the airwaves are filled with the sounds of religious warfare. On a beach six kilometres north of this location close to the state frontiers, massive sets of 'master blaster' speakers broadcast to the enormous congregation of Christians encamped on the beach. Border blasting continues night and day, the sound spreading out indiscrimately in all directions.

Meanwhile, the predominantly Hindu communities to the south attempt to respond in kind, the airwaves filled with amplified temple drumming, singing, and chanting. The main Christian assault took place during the four days after Christmas Day, but we confidently expect a final thrust on Epiphany (January 5th) and possibly the following Sunday as well. Their music resembles Jim Reeves, New Age, crossed with Drum and Base, these are not hymns as you would generally recognise them.

It is all good-natured and well-intentioned of course, and there is also room for the three Moslem mosques whose minarets are visible to broadcast their regular calls to prayer to the faithful, and then there are also the local village fisherman. This other community, of whom everybody is slightly fearful, and who spend their nights out on the sea and shun daytime society, began broadcasting their New Years day party, a more raucous and unashamedly secular sounding affair involving raki spirit, beginning at 4 am. Nobody ever dares to ask these original proletariats to turn their music down.

All of us reaonably and more-or-less peacefully engage in our own forms of religion, and spreading the word through the airwaves for all to hear. In the early years of the Communist Revolution in Russia, the architectonics of broadcasting were invented, another triumph of originality from the Constructivist artists of genius, and today all of us fill the airwaves using whatever technology is available to us and we can afford.

Here on the blog it is no different, and we are in conflict too, broadcasting our own brand of criticality and comment, these silent words asking for attention. It is a wonder mmj and ak dont end up killing each other. How does dialogue enable us to avoid murder and keep going?