Aug 102012

Let’s check this out. Let’s check the arithmetic of memory. I was getting older but there was still (I estimated) plenty of time left, barring accidents and those well known Acts of God or plain and simple murder, come to that. The brief time of innocence between forgetting about nuclear weapons and the advent of global warming had just given us the window of opportunity to launch an attack on the unsuspecting world; heads in the clouds, feet barely touching the the wild flowers in the meadows.

Fast forward to some time that might or might not be the present, limping along in a desultory fashion; a result of varieties of conflict and trauma, cynical but still raising the standard of hope. Crawling out of bed, Continue reading »


 Posted by at 11:03 am  Atelier, Fundamental Perversions, OVER and BEYOND  Comments Off
Jul 272012

On board the Dreamboat there were puzzles to be examined. Such as, who is Massimo?  Such as, why would anybody think that I might be his friend? And if I was what would it mean? And more importantly, would it be dangerous?

Not that my potential interrogator hung around long enough for me to reply.

Out beyond the harbour walls the Dreamboat encountered a lazy swell; the combination of that gentle lurching and the ever-present smell of fish stirred my intestines into high alert, a state of readiness to evacuate should conditions deteriorate.

More questions flooded my mind, perhaps in an effort to distract attention away from the volatility of current peristaltic activity. Questions such as:
Continue reading »

Get Real

 Posted by at 10:57 am  Atelier, Fundamental Perversions, OUT in the WILDERNESS  Comments Off
Jul 262012

At the worst of times I’m an anti-poet atheist; at the best of times I don’t give a monkey’s; it is so irrelevant that my mind remains unblemished by such filth. And more importantly I’ve got to get out of this place – the lyrics of a song swirled briefly – if it’s the last thing I ever do. Did the words refer to the factory the singer, or at least the song’s writer, worked in, still living, squashed, in his parents terraced house; dreaming of a future with his girl friend? Poetry, of course, is simply smashed up prose. What some people do instead of getting to grips with the real world.

To be honest I have no idea how many ‘floors’ I have already descended. Didn’t she say two floors down? Continue reading »

Jul 202012

I zipped up, waited a few seconds, grabbed at some oxygen, sighed and shrugged, then turned to face my interrogator. Expecting something altogether more solid, more muscular I was surprised to see a girl, well, a young woman, who could have been no more than seventeen, overwhelmed inside an oversized uniform, dark, black or possible navy, her waif like face locked in uncertainty was a striking contradiction to the questioning, challenging voice I had been subdued by.

    Are you, by any chance, looking for the Kazoo Dreamboat, her voice had mysteriously become dream like, soft.

    Perhaps she had a colleague with her, somewhere in the shadows, a senior colleague who was supervising her on her first day in the job.

    Kazoo Dreamboat? I wondered about the strange name but decided to press on with my mission to reach the conference on the ninth floor.

    I’m trying to reach the ninth floor.

    A sheaf of papers had appeared in her left hand. She carefully examined them.

    Apparently you must go down to the fish wharf, three floors down.

    Erm, I rather was hoping to . . . I need to  . . . erm pee. I never did like the word pee, so prissy, so pathetic, but my vocal apparatus had got strangled in the effort to say piss.

    Sorry, was all she said and waited for me to leave.


Jul 072012

Not really a circular journey because that presupposes that the person who comes back is the person who set out all those days, months or years before. But we are confined to our spherical prison under the stars and under the sun. Renzo Piano’s Shard points the way out. The straight line must be the stuff of imagination. It informs, lends a narrow beam of light to our lives. Enables us to pretend that we have pushed God off ‘his’ throne and replaced him with . . . what? Science, psychoanalysis, all sorts of possibilities come to mind. And we really can tell stories . . . well, some of us can and some of us are rubbish at it.




 The Flags Are Out


The flags are out – no I don’t why either . . .

but we may have to bend ourselves to the collective will.


The deer came out of nowhere; no, that’s not quite true

it obviously came out of somewhere.


It emerged in a rush from the hedge on my right

startled by my appearance before her, two or three metres


from her, she swerved and plunged into the opposite hedge.

A brief encounter with the wild – a second from


a collision that I imagine would have left me

sprawling in the road because she was all force.


A force intent on evasion and survival

making a life on the margins of the human dominated landscape.


Bright eyed maenad alive with perfection; one being intensity

tearing me limb from limb; flesh organs bones into


the mincer. The fat red-faced cook turning the handle

with gusto, eyes libidinously merry,


dreaming of such a dish to set before the king;

Spices and fruit bursting with juices


bursting on the jaded palates of a thousand diners.

Come overwhelm me, my darling –


this is something special: to be remade

to enter the hunt, to outwit time


to twist and shout exulting the joy, to fall

to touch the cathartic as an equal; to die as she dies


because each day I must enter her once more

in order to find what I must be.


(Alan Kirby 2012)


Jun 232012

It’s hard to dance when there is a bad smell. Edward Thomas writes (in the couple of stanzas you quote): ‘That I may lose my way/And myself.’ I have long been puzzled by the phrase ‘lose myself’; it makes me become very literal minded: oh dear, when did you last see it? Losing my way is much easier to get to grips with; it happens a thousand times a day and might well happen during the writing of this short piece of prose but on the other hand as I have little idea of where I am going with it how would I recognise the losing of the way. If I set off for Paris and find myself in Florence then clearly something has gone wrong. Though in this case does the smell alert me: this doesn’t smell like Paris. There is always that handy medicinal standby, alcohol; a couple of drinks and I no longer care where I am. Florence will do very nicely, thank you. And, returning to the question of smell, with a couple of drinks inside me I can ignore the bad smell and get on with enjoying the dance; even losing myself in the wild gyrations.


    I suppose what it might mean is losing some sort of burden; self as burden. What I might be able to do, Pamuk suggests, is to store bits of burden in a museum. Let’s call it the Museum of Innocence. Or why not call it the Museum of Guilt. Little bits of guilt displayed safely inside suitably strengthened glass cases. We don’t want that guilt getting out and interfering with the free flow of glorious dancing life, a life that is free of bad smells. Though the dilemma is that unless I manage to forget your introduction of this bad smell, with or without the help of alcohol, I have to come back to it. And it’s not helped by the fact that you don’t give any clues as to what the bad smell is actually like. Surely there cannot be only one bad smell in the world. Not forgetting that a bad smell for you might be heaven on earth for somebody else. Cannot you, like some refined sommelier (could your butler help you with this? I’m not sure whether you have an actual sommelier on your staff, but your butler, he might be from the nether regions of Glasgow, but I always thought he was an unusually helpful fellow) DESCRIBE the bad smell. Give me some clues as to the subtle notes that reach your nostrils.


    Innocence surely does not smell at all or if it does it must be sweet; that’s what we say isn’t it: sweet innocence. Honey and meadow flowers; not the stuff that grows in the ditch you dug last year which is, by all accounts, already rather rank. Honeysuckle comes to mind; that perfume that pervades the evening air. But what about roses? Now it seems to me that roses can have a more dangerous range of smells. Smells that could lead one into dangerous situations: those assignations in a dark alleys; situations from which there is no escape.


    Let’s be clear and remember that we have an investigation on our hands. The question is: what was that bad smell? Have courage even if it leads you to places you would rather not go.


May 112012

All this time as a maturing man . . . my goodness, when can we cut him down and serve him with a bowl of French fries and a glass of chilled champagne in that “night club” of his? Let’s get on with it. We need strength for the journey; we need sustaining for goodness sake even if we are heading for that crest of the wave when maturing slips over into dementing. Or perhaps it’s the same thing: maturing must mean getting old and smelly; dementing means that we are past caring – unaware – unconscious aging. The dictionary suggests that there is no verb to dement, therefore I should not use dementing, it gives the wrong idea, as though I am doing something to myself. But why not? To be is a verb and is not quite a doing word. So is maturing I do something with conscious intention. Not sure – yes and no. I suppose drinking alcohol would be an example of conscious dementing and going to chat to my analyst an example of conscious maturing.

    When did Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver come out? Oh yeah, 1976, I checked on Wikipedia. Anyway, the point is I watched it last night having rented the DVD. The fact is I wasn’t sure whether I had actually seen it or whether I only imagined I had seen it because it’s one of those movies that entered what Jung referred to as the collective unconscious (if there is such a thing?). After watching it I’m still not sure whether I saw it in 1976 or 77 but I'm inclined to the view that I didn't see it. Could be I didn’t, because I wasn’t getting to the movies very much as that point in my life. Checking the Scorsese filmography on Wikipedia I noticed Mean Streets which came out a couple of years before Taxi Driver. Perhaps that was the one I saw. So this might be about venturing into the territory, reminding me of Dartmoor once again, of my dementing. But for the moment let’s stay with the movie. Robert de Niro’s Travis is a fascinating creation of a character, coming into America post-Vietnam, an ex-marine, probably traumatised, cannot sleep, finds a job as a taxi driver and occupies a fine line between maturing and dementing. The question that is so gripping is, is he going to make it? Which mainly means, will he survive? But also demands some clarity as to notions of maturing/dementing. He seems to have little in the way of self protective mechanisms operating. Is that another consequence of the PTSD? To what degree does he represent a socially inadequate character irrespective of whatever happened to him in Vietnam. So, yes, the various Jimmy’s and their questioning of what it is to live and survive or not. Travis even has a go at falling in love which doesn’t get far when he takes his dream of woman to a pornographic movie because it is just another film and besides he doesn’t know anything about films. Later, her boss, a presidential hopeful, happens to get into his taxi and Travis makes out he really admires this politician, though he knows nothing about politics, which in turn invites the presidential hopeful to ask him about what he’d like to see happen. Given permission Travis spews out a stream of paranoid stuff about clearing out the filth of the city and then it’s not long before he’s buying guns.

    It’s a fine essay on maturing and dementing, the socially isolated and excluded, heading for an explosion of some sort.

    I better get along to my analyst.


There we were, walking . . .

 Posted by at 4:53 pm  Atelier, Fundamental Perversions  Comments Off
Apr 052012

Of course you should have been tipped out of your hammock, dreaming in that brief but welcome sunshine of early spring. Tipped out to suffer minor abrasions and some bruising; although we can never be quite sure to what degree you will wake up. What sort of waking up could we hope for? Even at your great age! The apprentices had gone wild, running amok. In the past it would have been safe to assume their gender/sexual identity – young men longing for a sight of a young woman – but let’s not make any assumptions in that direction. Let us simply assume the rising sap of spring, the spring in the step of those young apprentices, let loose; what were the authorities thinking of, taking their eye off them, indulging in lazy lunches with bottles of strong red wine that appeared as if my magic amidst the mounds of succulent dishes on the increasingly stained white table cloth. A slurring of words, coarser humour, raucous laughter leading to amorous fondlings or simply sleep.

    There we were, walking with little thought of direction or destination and there’s a point when the legs are tired after many miles, perhaps the feet are sore, and hunger begins to gnaw at the belly. My thoughts are worn thin and few coins sit in my pocket. Is that the junction of paths where I espy a tantalising beauty? Perhaps there will be no going back. Already the myriad paths behind me are shifting, bending their way to a new tune, new possibilities, forcing a future that I didn’t know I wanted. A glimpse of beauty has me by the nose. Sweetness beckons me into the dance to the tune of the dazzling, rippling of the stream.

    But my steps are clumsy and unwelcome as I lurch across the green sward. I would grab but she’s gone on the lightest, fleetest of feet. My tiredness forgotten as I give chase – there is no chance that she’ll get away, evade the passions that suddenly command me; leave me no choice.

    I must enter the trap or die in the effort. The waters that close over my head are sweet and welcome.

    Or I could just walk away. Sorry, darling, I’ve got an urgent appointment. And I will jump into my BMW something-or-other and roar away, tyres squealing, back wheels drifting out in the loose gravel.

Or I could just walk away. After all, it’s where we started: walking. This fact of walking I was reminded of by the piece, in last Saturday’s (31.03.12) Guardian Review, by Will Self. He’s become a spokesman for walking, even quoting Rebecca Solnit who we discovered and valued several years ago. Of course, we were also reminded of our shared history of walking by the film Patience (after Sebald) which we both mentioned on this scroll recently. How far does the average European (let alone North American) walk these days? I mean in the course of their day-to-day life. We’ve been busy creating lives that exclude the possibility. Will Self mentions that a hundred years ago 90% of Londoners walked their journeys if they were less than six miles. It’s a great loss.