Stand Down Margaret.

So she finally did step down from that jewel-encrusted carriage; her head dizzy with accolades, with glorious confusion, the baying crowd perceived as purring kittens to her leonine, English majesty. She descended smoothly, unaided, to some lavender field – it should be stiff with barley? – in that singing niche of her memory that for her, forever, might be if not Ingerland, then Grantham. And as she walks, from that shop, from that street, into the butter-cupped facsimile of that rural idyll, the parting crops do then draw up to attention… and the birds stop… and the limp sun stills above the willow. Because (she thinks, or somebody thinks) something major has happened.

And maybe it has – unless I dreamed it? Maybe there was an event as well as a death. Maybe we have to concede that? And then… in what way do we rejoice?

A rake of us – a simmering multitude with every bit as much gumption and fight and ‘conviction’ as she – many of us recoil from both that faux English idyll and the idolatry, the (in our view) slightly weird, slightly perverse adulation for this woman. A woman we link to some blanched – or maybe that should be scorched? – Englishness. A brutalist and therefore hugely uncultured (opposite of) outlook. A leadenness too; dull and grey and introspective in the worst of ways – bigoted, actually – reeking memorably of contempt for the most fundamental human rights in say… South Africa, as though Apartheid itself was some acceptable province of this Way We Were nation. (Mrs Thatcher, remember, led when it came to propping up the dying racist regime in the pre-rainbow nation. Should we celebrate the memory of that, I wonder?)

Even those of us who happen to be blokes, who think it was kindof great that a woman got to be PM are denied the possibility of respecting this woman. Most of us knew already, pre the coiffured barnet, accent and manner that Thatcher’s obvious bitterness, that vile and one-dimensional and utterly hypocritical (no apology for labouring this one!) ‘conviction’ against the trackie-wearing classes, The Immigrants and The Homosexuals would make many of us squirm with shame or rage. The fact that she blew a historic opportunity for Britwomankind by being an utter and malevolent donkey in the role of PM has almost passed us by, such was the magnitude of her dislocating pomp.

She was sexless and yet quasi-regal, love-fodder for the dumb fawners and the prejudiced. The Mail invented her surely – she must have been pressed out of a centre-page special entitled Ideal Dictators? I can’t explain her any other way. The thought of her (and I know it ain’t jus’ me because we’ve been talking, right?) simply does my head in.

She got at us personally, I suppose, one way or another. In my case, we were yeh… close. Having been born and spent the first twenty-odd years of my life in Grimsby, I moved to London to work as a photographer’s assistant in what is atmospherically describable as The Thatcher Era. I had no money and shared a room in a rundown, terraced housing association gaff with one of my brothers. Hilgrove Road. It was great yet completely crappy in a way that we didn’t mind but that made parental visits unthinkable. Stepping outside the door though and walking the couple of hundred yards up to Swiss Cottage was a revelation to this particular smalltown boy. I had never really seen posh motors – Porsches, Jaguars, Rolls Royces – down here it was crawling with them. How did that work?

Now I know this car thing may not stand up as anything other than duff anecdotal opinion but it had real meaning for me, it was true – it became truer, in fact – that there was money here in a way that had never remotely been suggested Up North. Moreover as this admittedly crass osmosis of the divisive character of Elite Southness became better enriched by my experience/observation, so my political and I think philosophical oeuvre cobbled itself together; directed (if cobbling can be directed?) by Thatcherism. It became obvious that the most humungously cynical fix was going on; put simply, that the Tories were fixing it for The South. Because it didn’t matter in terms of votes or constituencies or voices how much mithering The North got up to… the South, under Thatcher won out. A massive and indeed overwhelming number of safe Tory seats in the London area effectively farted in the face of the rest.

We all knew that was what was going on. Politicking of the rawest and most unsophisticated kind. Parliament entrapped. Toffs and Tories flicking a superior brand of the V’s, whilst busloads of Home Counties-returning coppers flashed their wage packets at incandescent miners. It was deeply ugly; a legacy I was reminded of last night when a friend, having howled when the subject turned to a possible State Funeral, suggested a burial more appropriate, in her view.

Sling the old witch down a fackin’ mine-shaft. (And yes, for the record, my friend is an Essex girl. And yes, she would be right in wanting me to point out that I AM AWARE poverty and discrimination existed in the South too during this period but I stand by my identification of a very real North-South divide – construct or function though that may have been of a regional and possibly parochial standpoint. And she is with me and I am with her on the notion that Thatcher quite deliberately set us against each other… and incidentally, what does that remind you of?)

Recently (and here I’m not speaking of any reactions to the death – I’m avoiding media on the subject pretty entirely) there appears a rather sickening fashion for appreciating Mrs T’s determination and commitment to things she believed in. I’m not having that. Why credit the prejudices, the immoralities in fact, of a world leader in bulldozing folks apart? My most crucially politically-formative years were spent in a great city-state which barely acknowledged the existence of Another Country out there. Or more exactly knew all about it but didn’t give a toss. Because an allegedly strong woman was making allegedly tough decisions. I came to see her then and over time as a shrill weakling; a brittle, thin-blooded creature who plastered on thick the slap of bravery and ‘conviction’. I never believed a word – and I still don’t.

Bute Park Divers.

I walked that millennium way

My hurry a commonplace in the eye of the border

And the riverbank

My breath in unison with the joggers and the students,

The bud-killing cold some amber glory

But the stands as silent as the fish.

The whistle of that city bustle no doubt stilled

After the game that swallowed him

For no man in its dream of Jonah or of Jaws

Drunk well on its remembering.

I bounced on,

Drawn to the bridges.

The flush of youth is here

Craning for trout, or bikes, or signs

The students in their lycra shoals

Miked up to saccharoidal bliss,

Found within their luminous buzz.

Who is lost amongst the cityfolks?

Distracted, scarfless in the permafrost.

Is it cold, cold in there

Where the tiddlers dream who won?

Not traipsing off to Ely or to Eden

By foot or boozy mini-cab

I flank the water.

I wasn’t close – and yet I was.

Stoke Mandeville – a memory. (It’s nothing.)

I have blurred recollections of visiting Stoke Mandeville Hospital back in about 1980. In fact so blurred and alround unreliable are they that I have seriously considered slinging this wee epistle – both during and after its invention. But I’ve stuck with it, as much as anything because I think it may ask questions around the quality or veracity of my/our reactions to what we might have seen, or felt, or heard about this Savile bloke. Or anything else. And if at any stage it becomes clear I’ve totally misrepresented something then that in itself may be interesting or in some way informative, perhaps? It being something of a test for us to stay true when broiling opinions call so loudly to intervene in ‘evidence’.

So yes, I did go to Stoke Mandeville. And now, of course, like some highly-strung, high maintenance but laceratingly brilliant Scandinavian detective, I’m trawling through the memory – its shadows, its strip lights, its blandnesses – hoping or expecting some incongruity, some trauma to roar out at me. It hasn’t. This is some relief, although with the memory still relatively undisturbed, with its doors so un-kicked in, there is that delicious/nauseous air of prequel about it. What did really happen, if anything? What did I really see, feel, hear? Were any doors or spaces energetically different, suggestively blanked, violently inert? From what I can remember… no. But is it wrong to be drawn into this anyway? Am I on some particularly mawkish celeb-fixated trip here, or what? And are we all on that trip, more or less?

I went down there to visit my second cousin, who had done that classically awful dive into almost no water thing during hijinks at college. He remains one of the most outstandingly bright blokes I’ve known (but) he also remains paralysed and wheelchair-bound. We’ve not spoken for years, in fact – not from any falling out (he hastened to add) – but because, frankly, we shared little. He was both spookily bright and a little headstrong in a way I liked; known, for example, (aged 18) to trace the number of some berk who’d written parochial cobblers in the local rag and harangue him with An Argument Far Too Good.

He also had an alarmingly healthy mop of black hair; hair which despite its casual air of well-trimmedness kindof swung around the place like some quasi-liquid; on one occasion lassoing a particularly lush Lower Sixth Former, if I remember correctly. Which I often don’t. But I remember her -leading to a clear and legitimate difficulty – and a diversion. How to honestly recount a memory – a clear and specific one – which may, quite frankly be inappropriate. As may that word ‘lush’.

I vividly remember certain hormonal kickings-in accompanying any degree of proximity to this genuinely beautiful girl… and her (what’s the word?) beautiful body. To deny that or try to skip past via some more or less witty or subtle euphemism seems raw dishonest. (Goddammit I wish I had done, mind.) But no amount of growed up etch-a-sketching over late seventies hornarama erases either that dumb desire or the feeling that generally us blokes are crap.

So I went down to Stoke Mandeville. In a by now early 80’s state of Savile ‘awareness’, with no idea what to expect of the hospital itself; just some amorphously received knowledge of the place – Savile’s place. I wish I could be clearer on the details. I’m pin sharp on what I (by then) thought of the track-suited cigar-wielder, having grown through the dim familial appreciation for Jim’ll Fix It. I thought (I knew) he was a total arse… but no more. There was no sense that I was going to bump into Jimmy (and waft past him, disinterested, in my overcoat and JD badge) but maybe there was the wonder
if he may be there thing going on. We never met.

I recall being more than slightly disappointed to find that a lump of Stoke Mandeville was apparently barely-converted Nissen huts – air-raid shelters – or similar. Just a bigger version of the corrugated iron-roofed effort we had in our garden – the one my old man had done that fascinatingly bad brickwork against, to ‘shore up’ the rear wall. SM was like an RAF Camp, converted with the minimum of love and colour and expenditure to provide cover for injured folks. (The fear dawns that I may have this wrong – and I’m happy to be corrected on any of this – but this is what I hold in my head. A fusty and almost completely unlovely military camp.) I barely went in; this may have been due to some embarrassment from my cousin or just eagerness to get out; to the pub.

We went to a nearby hostelry, me a little self-consciously pawing at the wheelchair that he bundled expertly forward. As we entered an area apparently patronised only by patients and guardians or friends from Stoke Mandeville a young man walked unconvincingly to the bar. In fact unconvincingly overstates his level of his proficiency; which was clumpingly, one foot-draggingly low. He beamed as he turned back to the small gathering in the corner, all of whom were beaming or applauding back. His first steps for months. And now with that foam-topped incentive triumphantly clasped… and downed. It was a choice moment that we’d happened upon; one I will always remember – but clearly something of a commonplace in this quietly boozy bolthole for the spinally-injured.

The next bit really galls me because if it were full of lucid observations on the nature of relationships or even the geography of stuff at Stoke Mandeville then phwarrr! – this piece might be saleably incendiary. However, it really isn’t. No contact or conversation that might lead me to some revelation; nothing to exclusively pitch. I remember only being both disturbed and unsubtly fixated on the fear of and then sight of my second cousins’ atrophied legs as he swung them expertly into his bed later. No memory of landings or corridors or conversation-averse nurses. Or of his room, even. I didn’t stay.

So nothing. Except the feeling – which I dare not trust, having no doubt that many outstanding humans did some great work there – that it was an environment relatively devoid of comfort and of warmth. Somewhere – ouch – that it kindof figures bad stuff might have happened.

I know how lazy and quite possibly appallingly unfair that last speculation is. But it’s there, in my head. An atmosphere, an association, between poor buildings and assumptions about poor procedure leading to Savile stuff. Meaning that never mind having no value, this whole concoction may be positively unhelpful in its vacuity; a story about a void of observation. But I am interested in our capacity to judge; particularly when this capacity is stressed.

With Savile being such an outrage, with the man perpetrating such evil with such cynicism, it asks a lot of us – of anyone – to deal sagely with the aftermath. He’s truly a lucky man to be dead. We’d all, surely, be tempted to roast him on a spit? For me, things have become so loaded that it would be unthinkable to get in touch with my cousin (just) to ask him how it really was, being there, for some months, back then. I can’t ask him specifically about possible arrangements or the known or unknown machinations of some creep in a track suit. That would feel just too crass.

Two cheers for apostasy.

Much of what we do feels increasingly contingent upon something; something else. Did I say increasingly? Yes.

Often, of course, this something else is central to guiding or sharpening our response; let’s call that ‘focussing’; other times it obscures. Absurd I know to speak of the general run of things, but in the general run of things it feels like either nothing really is simple these days, or nothing really is. In this, our dorito-munching delirium, we can’t be arsed to work stuff out – whether that conundrum be a political choice or a moral one, or a nothing. With everything screened or distracted, by accident or design, our houses (and our mouses?) and our workplaces are mothering or at least hosting some anaesthetising fog; in which we waft around the place, more or less dumbly.

Is this just because the world gets older and more knowing? And choices, ironically, are massively more complex beasts than they were, say thirty years ago, when (allegedly–apparently) we knew nothing? In the same way that there can be no new rock music, is there is nothing in our lives at all free from influence? And if this is the case, why so difficult to cut through the crap and feel and be and express any honesties we may have? Why so difficult?

Despite my diabolical wordiness, I’m a pretty uncluttered bloke. I can and often do unleash opinions or contributions without raising any of the apparently essential filters used by brainyfolks – the sort that pre-empt faux pas, or vitriol, or the generally ill-considered. I don’t have that tetchily neurotic web out front, constantly dampening down before spinning my offerings to the universe. And that pleases me; mostly. I think very often that the mesh in this battery of excluders we raise before our spoken word is unhelpfully tiny; it catches far too much reactive wit and instinctive wisdom – if that latter isn’t a contradiction? And no, I’m not still talking about me.

Now, I am. Whether my colour (the colour of my writing, stoopid) is a mark of confidence/arrogance/brilliance/ignorance is for others to decide. It is in itself an invitation to counter colourfully. Counter-argue, counter-punch even. It’s my voice/it’s a stir. Because alongside of the fact that life/sport really is ‘about opinion’ we must, we need to share and test our most firmly held views. And if we can do this whilst creating something true, then we add to the store of generosity in the world – whether what we say contains beauty or not, I think. And so I raise this gambit-of-the-egos in order to talk about belief.

It would appear that anthropology is about making sense of people’s collective stuff; their culture, their social structure. It’s a conduit for understandings; ideally. It seems charged with furthering the cause of objectivity, by freeing study from opinion in order to note rather than judge. Because judging is inappropriate – too subjective. I am no anthropologist, regrettably.

Let me fix upon an issue which becomes then my example – a process again so loaded with ructions that if I/we ‘stop to think’ fear of misconstruction might confound the enterprise afore it’s hauled anchor. Islam; a faith no more or less absurd than any other great religion; let that be our example. Because it’s topical. Because it tingles and burbles with incoherent or inflamed (if not volcanic) assumptions. And shed loads of prejudice.

I am familiar with the argument – no doubt brewing behind the furrowed brow-zone of your sagacious bonce, dear reader – that white pseuds like me are at least as responsible for any reduction in intellectual freedoms as Islamic militants. Because white pseuds like me own and write The Daily Mail; because of widespread institutionalised xenophobia; because many things work against the radical. So I accept there is a case to answer on why I’m having a go at Islam rather than some other perceived enemy of the people’s right to Yaa Boo Suck(s). Some will feel this in itself reflects dubious standards – intellectual and moral – in me. Perhaps I need to challenge myself more vigorously – catch more stuff in the mesh.

But I do want to have a pretty significant grumble about this (to me, in my ignorance) amorphous/homogenous construct, the Radical Islamist.   Chiefly because I spit multidinous seas reflecting on the closing down of our capacity to reply, to stand up to Islamic protest.  Unfortunately, I want to do it an entirely non-anthropological way, leading with my chin, wagging and pointing fingers as I might in a trans-garden-fence rant: (I mean discussion.) In the knowledge that this is not, at all, the way to proceed, but in the hope that truths worth arguing about may spill forth ‘midst the spittle. Plus, someone has to say this stuff, right?

The Radical Islamist gets lots of media. Partly because what he/she does is often controversial – maybe intoxicatingly so? – and because of the frisson lit in our western hearts by any faint whiff of (contender again for word of the decade, for the 9,000th decade on-the-trot?) jihad. Jihad is major, no question; but cop this…

One of the most real terrors of our time might be the brutalised nature of the assumptions we in The West make about Muslims. The argument that this is the fault of Islamic terrorists is seriously beyond inadequate; but please note my acceptance that we are all culpable before I go on relentlessly towards my inflammation.

Now, such is the intimidating power of the broad swath of Islam-o-weapons – from reflective or seductive mullah to shocktroop loony – that The West, fascinatingly, is forced largely into apologetic mode in dealing with higher profile eruptions of Islamic faith. Young blokes assaulting embassy perimeters or old geezers quaking with sub-fatwa furies have backed us into a corner. Despite the obvious and pretty reasonable assumption that these are seriously deluded people we daren’t give them the equivalent of a direct bollocking; the level of their lunacy prevents this. In our unspeakable smugness, underscored as it plainly is by atrociously misjudged military interventions, we fear they might rustle up some further atrocity of ‘their own’.

The ironies are almost unbearably rich when patently dumb fervour is appeased by western concerns towards being ‘sensitive’ to religious belief, and by being incidentally frankly shit-scared. As though on the first instance religion deserves our respect and on the second it’s irresistibly mental. Because that aforementioned fervour is predicated upon the alarmingly real threat of violence.  This passion/hate combo penetrates deeply into our western consciousness, even when our insignificant part of this clunky notion The West is largely dismissive towards or disinterested in any god blokes.

In this scenario, where Islamic ‘radicals’ have a hold over freedom of expression the tensions twixt that which might be said and that which may be said invites close and urgent review of that which is right, does it not? (Right being a concept so massively shrouded in laughably milky uncertainty that I can only use it casually, as though it has so many meanings I can’t be arsed to indicate a ‘true’ one; I can only hope you know what I mean.) (Relax. One just got through the mesh.)

The Choice therefore appears to be that we either paddle dangerously towards inevitable contention here, or we risk appeasing our way to denuded freedoms, if politically correct(?) or anthropologically sound nuancing is factored in. So, consider my oar about to be stuck right in… and would that could be done dispassionately.

The argument exists that it’s not right to allow the unhinged protestations of some hopelessly deluded fanatics to rob any of us – deserving or otherwise – the facility for free speech. Even if the embassy-manglers, as an example, are sincere and can articulate legitimate reasons for their actions. (The polar opposite view of course is that it is not just a right but an obligation before god to defend one’s faith.) Protests clearly may on occasion be a key indicator of both high and worthy aspirations – democratic expressions of our yearnings towards civility. We may need to look simply(?) at what kind of protest is legitimate, rather than what subjects may be demonstrated upon.

It may not be entirely vulgar to suggest these guys – the Islamists, the youths, the women, the children – offend plainly against criminal law and critically against freedoms more precious even than the right to ‘defend’ your faith. In fact there is a relatively convincing intellectual and philosophical case that this is so, particularly when we consider how difficult it has become to even reasonably oppose Islam.  It’s just that the perceived visceral raging and biblical-animal reflex kicks the possibility for spiritual debate in this instance rather briskly into touch. Nobody’s listening.

But hear this – even if we factor out the necessary qualifications about not singling out this (western) generation’s feared ‘other’. Violating or burning property or killing people who sit anywhere on the religious respect-deficient continuum is viewed by many millions as a) an embarrassing own goal b) a virtual admission of the thinness of your belief c) counter to any notion of tolerance d) an irreligious outrage.

Let me just squirt this further lemony job in at this point. For me there is no god; simple. Religion really is a sometimes fascinating but generally insulting notion – an offensive one of itself. And/but if there was some god, some Allah, it seems unlikely he/she would sanction the brutalisation of any freedoms – even the freedom to offend him/her. Or maybe not. Whatever the truth of that, we in The West who are targeted by Islamic Radicalism in any form should be confident enough to say not only that recent ugly protests are ugly and unlawful, but they spring – like our religions – from fairy-tales.

Things like this take courage; clear-sightedness. And it’s not always possible to take the heat, the emotion, the counter-punching vitriol out. Gods are fictional and it’s about time we rose to that. And manage as best we can how others fail to deal with it. Others like the Islamic Radicals, so poorly represented by those who violate. Guys, we can look at you and say that we will not tolerate either your violence or the falseness at its heart. We cannot forever recoil from the ‘inflammatory’. You are wrong and you have been duped; like lots of us.

To be specific, I haven’t seen a single second of ‘Innocence of Muslims’, the currently hugely contentious ‘anti-Islamic’ film fomenting ‘reaction’ around the globe. But I don’t need to see it to know that the subsequent eruptions of violence are in any case a travesty against the most holy and humane thing we as a species possess – the facility to express our intellectual brilliance, our freedom to speak. Islam really does need a good dose of Monty Python’s; irreverence being next to godliness, in fact.

How Can I Help?

Womad. And this time things are different. The sun is there and my wife’s on crutches, making the trawling round thing a potential pain – especially if that shin-deep festival mud returns to schloop and then unhinge your calf muscles from the back of your shins. So a series of pre-shindig conversations took place, once we finally committed to going, between the broken-footed one (who made it very clear she is not disabled, incidentally) and various Womadpeeps, about what might be done, maybe, in terms of helping her out. These friendly and apparently helpful exchanges having taken place, we booted up there; with about twelve names to refer to upon arrival.

A goodish three hour journey, including our smug wee detour round attritional and at that time surely baking queues and we cruised serenely into the Purple Gate untroubled. Jojo, our doggy but in fact heavily horse-pooh under-clad purple Megane with 158,000 on the clock having appreciated a cooling though incongruent glide through uberstoneywhitesville – those emphatically exclusive, beautifully wall-hung and wisteria-wafting villages south/west of Malmesbury. Given the stylistic limitations of said carriage, my discomfort with anything Posh-English and the demystifying NowPop booming from her inadequate speakers (because Yes, Of Course! The Kids were with us!) we may have done well to avoid a lynching. Instead, suddenly, we were there, in the brilliant sunshine, hearing cidery bass and brass booming amorphously in the leafy-balmy distance. Wow. Great. So… who did we need to find again? Tony.

Box Office… no… then that bloke… no… ask for…

In the glorious English summer sun Olympian but invisible difficulties arose. Things that kept just having to be ‘checked out.’

There followed a sadly predictable exhibition of traditional Brit(?) piss-poor ‘customer service’. Which in the context of this genuinely friendly festival felt jarringly disafuckingpointing, to be honest.

We were bumped disinterestedly from one ‘steward’ to the next and from one gate to the next for about an hour. Men and women, young to middle-aged displaying either that slightly hunted and need to escape face
or the drifting apathy of the too much skunk one that leads inevitably to lonely psychosis. (I hope.) To be fair one bloke was friendly whilst being completely open about the fact that he didn’t have the faintest idea what was occurring; fair enough. All wearing ludicrous – and possibly indifference-stimulating? – fluorescent orange or yellow.

I am aware that most folks will not at all have had this same experience but believe me, I do not exaggerate when I say it went right past shambolic – insultingly so – as we smelt disinterest more strongly than incompetence. (Pre –supervisor.) And I assure you we were more polite than the situation/the individuals invited/deserved. For longer. Until I thought you know what? My wife’s on crutches; it hurts – that foot, there! And this has like already been sorted SO many times!! Guys, you aren’t going to get away with treating us this poorly.

So we found ourselves before the Bloke Who Might Sort It, in the ‘shape’ of a body-less or at least strangely unphysical man of about 45. He was apparently narrowly post rehab of an either drug-based or (theoretically) psychologically reinvigorating sort; that – I can report back to his Bristolian therapists as they pluck their eccentric nose-hairs – failed, utterly. He paused profoundly for an age before saying anything, before … not saying anything. He asked questions suggestive of a mind fixated on butterflies and horse-dung beetles eating high tea; in Windsor Park; with a soundtrack by King Crimson. And he was in charge, in charge of this particular area. Wiltshire.

After a slightly bewildering minute or two, where I tried in vain to tune in to his cosmic vacuum, I became (for one of the very few times in my life) acidly-lucidly-angrily proactive. Justifiably. I put it to him pretty sharply that Whoa!! Maybe what the situation demanded was a re-wind to him (or somebody – anybody) saying Hey, welcome to Womad! You’re looking vexed, people. How can I help? Followed by the cheery ushering of us, the offended parties, through to the camping area closer to the arena – the one that 5 people had previously said we could and should head for. How life-threatening a decision would that be, for you to make, do you imagine? You being the supervisor?

I may have sounded like an arse; a complainer; something I promise you I am not. But I will own up to having an issue with the general level of (hate this word!) ‘service’ experienced in Britain. This is NOT because I am a monied traveller who has experienced much better elsewhere. This is not because I am some kind of Superior Git who expects the minions to fawn before my every call. And this is not because I am repelled in any sense by ‘those who serve’ – on the contrary I worked in restaurants and bars for years and feel strongly that everyone should serve the general public as part of a healthy preparation for life beyond. I am more often offended, in fact, by the conduct of those being served than those who serve.

However, people should be treated with courtesy and with sympathy by those who are directed to look after their needs. (Endof.) And I do think that we in Britain do this looking after thing generally very badly; either through lack of training or lack of direction or example or simply – and too often – through ignorance. I hate it and it embarrasses me.

I’m no salesman and no guru, for christ’s sakes. But clearly the nature, quality and manner of response to any enquiry is important. There is a moral imperative to be friendly and helpful and a more capitalistically inclined one to look after folks. I was struck by and have remembered the brilliance of a former Head Gardener at The National Botanic Garden for Wales in this; he would invariably offer How can I help? before really listening to any request or comment. His name? Wolfgang Bopp.

Certainly compared to this, not one of the first 7 or 8 ‘contacts’ we had with Box Office/Stewards at the Womad Festival was satisfactory. It was rather predictably lame, unfocussed, desultory, disinterested. Most employees showed neither the courtesy or the nous to listen or act. And given the location, the specific ambience, the crutches, the history of communications theoretically smoothing the way… it was crap. I’m not looking for sympathy; merely making some observations about this fascinating/infuriating evolved characteristic of British (Public?) Life. And by implication, maybe just wondering… is it just me that sees this as a(nother?) English Disease?

When we were finally waived through to what was actually the disabled camping area – something we had never specifically asked for, in fact – a big lump of time and energy and good will had been wasted. Really wasted. As we trundled rather apologetically in we were met by a steward in a wheelchair. He was genuinely charming, he was helpful, he was friendly and within five minutes we had the luxury of unloading Jojo ten yards from where we were to camp. Plus further willing help appeared whilst we were doing that now joyfully easy decanting of clobber. So we got our festival excitement – and more importantly our faith – right back. The important stuff – the music, the art – was a treat, naturally; more of that later.

Pray for petrol?

The things that really get our goat tell us (or otherfolks?) a lot about where we’re at as people, right? As ‘individuals’. They give stuff away. Like looking your fellow in the eye when you talk to them whilst simultaneously trying to tell the minimum amount of the truth – or an outright lie I suppose – they represent a tactical error, a cheap submission of possession. So I should probably be somewhat circumspect before blazing into some further Vinnydiatribe about well… anything. But life would be less fun, eh, if purveyors of colour and opinion such as my good self let too much restraint and consideration get in the way of a good rant? Rants can be okay – both entertaining and cleansing even – if they manouevre or lurch accidentally into the lush territory of comment; real comment, where spite and spittle and punkydelic revelation bridle against dumbstuff. So, eyes a-swivel… here goes…

Let’s start as so often with the abstract; the felt. There is a direct correlation between my feelings for and about my Outlaws (which are mixed), their adherence to the gospel according to the Daily Mail and the panic buying of petrol. And by surreal but clearly imagined extension the demonization of single mums/chavs/gays/blacks/Asians/everyone who has not the fortune to be starchily anglo-saxon with-a-little money invested, is further enwrapped, infuriatingly, into this blue-rinsed(?) bundle. Meaning the wasps’ nest that is currently and indeed typically my head responds with a kind of spontaneous fury to linkages between What The Mail Thinks – or its obvious but sometimes unsaid manifesto – and what then actually happens in the wider world. Although – forgive my anarcho-pedantry here but I am loathe to view this particular landscape as in any sense wide – it’s surely arse-clinchingly narrow but let’s move on. It is, therefore often the machinations of the sub-Middle Class Right that get my goat.

The comb-over racists; the instant coffee-slurping homophobes; the blandly bitter; the church-goingly devilish, Jammy Dodger-toting entrenched. With their silver cars and silver spoons. Their white sugar. Their propensity to sound so one-dimensionally thoughtless whilst in Twenty Eight Second Deep Political Conversation Mode that you wonder if they might implode like some un-gay fairy at the culmination of their most killing observation that everything is because “All these people are getting all these things and we’re paying ferit!” Yup; luv them.

So the panic buying of petrol – which I don’t of course entirely blame on The Mail – has troubled me. In terms of the demographic of the slavvering topper-uppers it might be interesting to see who these folks are – even who they think they are? – but sadly anthropologists are otherwise engaged in (relatively?) lucrative projects in Dubai or Cambodia, I suspect. Allegedly, much of England – you poor poor loves – has been standstilled by these decently law-abiding and Minister-attentive folk. Only a heroic few have resorted to battling on the forecourt in defence of their honour and their right to dismember the opportunity of other, less aggressively responsible souls. Should their physical condition allow it – ie. if Gaviscon/Werthers levels have been sufficiently respected, these Defenders Of The Right To Get Absolutely Mental have launched themselves from their Renault Clios in lion-hearted response to some other’s hands upon the precious nozzle. I picture them, rolling around in the blotted sands of the forecourt; legs thrashing the unleaded air, flat caps awry, brogues still immaculately tanned but twitching out, violently, the death-throes of Moral Rectitude. For the good of this great nation; for the civilised world; for Biddy Baxter and Douglas Barder and yes! David Beckham. Then dusting down and finding that bloody Tesco Clubcard.

There is no strike, incidentally. And if there was all the Great Powers know/knew that a week’s notice had to be given, begging questions about the realness of any emergency. (In fact, probably wee-weeing all over any such notions at all.) Interestingly or not, fairly compelling cases have been made for this whole farrago of clunk-clicked politically-motivated or simply inept ‘statements’ being a sharp little number from the government to help swiftly massage income up at a time when unhelpful figures might bundle economic commentators into using words like Double Dip Recession (and stuff). Conspiracy Theory or Truth? As always the twitter/internet beast seethes with contradictory passions but queues down the road have made a comparative irrelevance of such unpatriotic sideshows.

Perception is nine tenths of the law. People have been led to believe those commie lorry drivers (who spend surely too much time in French travel-stops talking to their unwashed comrades?) are about to stitch us all up; best get our retaliation in first. The top man himself has even suggested it might be prudent to stock up. The paper says The End Is Nigh – right there, on page 1, 2 and 3, next to the stuff about George Wassuname and the other Scots peril. Salmon! No – Salmond! He’s a red an all! And now he IS trying to nick our petrol!! Best strike a blow for the family, for us, by filling right up; in the blurry understanding that this might even have the double benefit of denying some treble-chinned Jock or workshy other from dribbling 5 quid’s worth into his unroadworthy Escort. Why not? I’ve paid my taxes; bet they haven’t.

If I’m cruelly extrapolating or inventing well then so be it. Personal experience leads me to believe and to fear in this way. On the one hand I ooze faith in people; on the other their herdiness, their plodding dumbness and perhaps most offensively their selfishness is, to me, galling. How dare I? Well, having during the writing of this mal-focused reflection visited out of some honestly genuine – ie. diesel-deficient necessity – a fuel emporium in Haverfordwest, only to find it bereft of that syrupy elixir, the hackles are again rising. I am transported by the vogue for rage.

So don’t talk to me about pipelines or planning or tankers or truths; get me a club. For I am preparing, raging but prudently, for the next life, where karma ensures I now know that I fetch up on some snow-blown floe, icily bank-full of purpose, marching at some doe-eyed seal pup; a particular and hypnotically engaging one; wearing a flat cap and – admittedly bizarrely – brogues.


One version of events suggests that the revolution at The Bridge featured a shocking restraint on the part of the owner – a man hitherto identified chiefly for his hatchet-mania. It is said that Abramovich actually supported his manager better and longer than the players did… before finally wielding the battle-worn veteran that is his Ukrainian Kukri. Thus we are presented with the possibility that Mild-Mannered Frank, known and loved for his A Level in Excruciatingly (S)killed Diplomacy (WhenFacedWithanInterviewSituation,Brian) and for his formerly likeably cuddly tumtum may – repeat may – have played a more aggressive role in the undermining of the brilliantly verbose ex-Porto man than Comrade Youknowwho. I’m shocked.

And could it likewise be that Ashley Cole, in a post-Napolitan strop, sought to apply the full, intimidating force of his intelligence to the de-stabilisation of Villas-Boas perhaps – I imagine through scrawling SHIT on the gaffers desk, or similar? And did Didier maliciously synchronise incoming Rolexes for that infuriatingly deadline-hugging fine-teasing screech of supercars into the car park, before winking knowingly at the watching but helpless ‘boss?’ We may never know.

We may never know if that kind of stuff mattered more than the dark, results-driven mutterings exchanged between the Real Boss and (again, I imagine) his own reflection most mornings, for the last month or two. But however, it seems sadly likely that the players… the players wanted The Bemackintoshed One out. More than the newly sensitised Abramovic, amazingly.

So no more absurdly fluent but amorphous/slightly increasingly ludicrous post-match roadkill dissections. And no more cruel dressing-room japes at AVB’s expense. So… so who’s next? The flawed Benitez – who surely isn’t to be trusted entirely to spend, spend , spend on the backbone of a new squad if his record at Liverpool FC is to be held in evidence? Who else? Who else, more to the point more likely than AVB to turn around a team that in recent times combines talent with an unappealing smugness?

Even throughout the good times – and let’s be clear folks, even now is a historically fortunate time for the club and its supporters – there’s been a tad too much of the histrionic (Drogba?) or the sulky (guess who?) or the near-bewilderingly indulgent about many of the sub-galacticos that have plied their trade at The Bridge. (Their trade being actually and apparently something they’ve appeared often to tinker with or dabble at rather than apply themselves to as though, god forbid, they meant to a) truly fulfil some meaningful contract with the club and the supporters b) stay longterm.)  Maybe this is what money buys? Mercenaries. Badge-kissers.

There may indeed be some traceable and even inevitable momentum leading us to where we’re at ‘darna Bridge’. Fans feel stuff like that whilst guys and gals like me search for encapsulating wisdoms; like this one. Particularly of late there’s seemed to be no team.

Who are Chelsea? John Terry was – Frank Lampard was – but this year’s flux seems to deny us any convincing evidence of who just might be next to carry that flame/torch/designer symbol. This living by mood is surely both a result of the Russian owner’s unstillness as well as of the consequent carousel of arrivals and departures from the dug-out – whether they be playing or more-or-less ‘overseeing’ arrivals. Bottom line, like the eyes of Dr T J Eckleburg, it is Roman who sees all. Voices full of money populate both Scott-Fitzgerald’s novel and the environs of the Kings Road. A key difference is that Roman scorches past the merely symbolic into the hands-on, the prosaically influential. He is tinkerer-in-chief, in truth, as well as sower of dreams.

So the club has lurched from one temporary beauty to another. Mourinho and Ancelotti, in their hugely different ways were on the one hand outstanding and on the other… gone. Hiddink too. Fans of Graham Norton will be familiar with the dumping chair at the end of his current run of shows, from which those who fail to entertain the Great Unwashed sufficiently (in Graham’s twinkling Irish eyes) are unceremoniously hoiked back’ards. Reminding me of Chelsea – or Abramovich? Who have the same crassness going for them but lack, generally, the humour.

So let’s return to that question: who’s next? Hilariously (from outside) it appears that Abramovocih has already exhausted the list; like serially. For me, Benitez is a goodish coach who rose periodically – i.e. in cups, typically – to the challenge of galvanising Liverpool. But he signally failed to produce a side which genuinely troubled those competing over the season’s length for the Premier League title. And the longer he went about that business, the less convincingly or astutely he dealt in the transfer market. Given that the Chelsea Project (volume 9?) clearly does imply a serious need for restructuring – culling, actually – as well as buying in, Rafa would not, I confess, be on my wish-list. Is he really top of Roman’s?

But who else is both capable and available? Mourinho – no? Hiddink – no. Guardiola – surely no?!? Does this already begin to bring us into contact with the untested or the (Chelsea)-undeserving? If Abramovic really does want to win and win stylishly that list shrinks yet further; to the extent that the feeling might be that Chelsea simply cannot get the right man; a feeling that first suggested itself whoa… about five or six years ago, or whenever somebody started kicking managers out every season.

Roman will surely go for a big name. Roman will surely not, however, concede to that new man the right to truly manage; begging the further question who, in their right mind, would want to take the Chelsea thing on? Unless for the money.

Wipe the sleep out of my eye

I have written previously on the purifying rage of the likes of John Lydon and the righteous power of certain late seventies punk-peeps, believing passionately in the anti-pomp and anti-twiddle manifesto they pogo-istically propounded. Music must be cleansed of the filth that is The Bizz itself! Stop showing off you bearded psycho-doodlers – the people are revolting! No More Heroes!! Oh and by the way I AM AN ANARCHYSTE!!! And quite right too.

But I have a confession to make; speaking as I do, as a fully paid-up member of the (Specials) Nightklub and former well if not outwardly a punk, exactly, certainly Two-Tone/Gang of Four/Joy Division/Bunnyman type-individual. As a nipper (born 1960 – do the math) not just me but my bro’s in the hood – literally now, 4 lads in our family – loved The Monkees for years. Before puberty/surreptitious bottles of QC/pints of Mild/The Flamingo on Cleethorpes seafront intervened; before it got unmanly to like pop or laugh. Before that, in a treacly period when it was still acceptable for kids from a lower lower middle-class household to run around like maniacs and play Cowboys ‘n Injuns, we sat glued to The Monkees. Because it was great; pop seemed great.

Perhaps aged 7 or 8 or 10, we hadn’t fully grasped the revolting nature of the Capitalist West; so that the cynical regurgitation of popsongs by Bizz-generated young Americans failed to repel us entirely. And we flunked the Don’t Fall For That Natty-Tricky Camerawork test too – the ‘wit’ and ‘style’ of the gurning popsters Show somehow being well-received by us, in our Grimsby home and the rest of TV-owning humanity apparently. Monkees were a laugh, or a convincingly cra-zee, admittedly saccharoidal baker’s dozen of laughs, quite often, in fact. They were likably kooky (before kooky existed, I imagine?) and swanned or maybe Benny-Hilled about in a way that was boyishly appealing. Almost as if it was… planned.

But then we found out – pretty soon, I think, us being No Mugs – that one of them was one of ours; which sealed it. Davy Jones; was a Brit-popper! With the That’s Alright Then factor nicely embedded, we proceeded to enjoy Monkees on telly or the record player in our sportily junior unstill way. For years, it seems. The lads jumped about or got chased by girls (yukk!) or broke ‘spontaneously’ into song – effectively but kindof seamlessly marking out the ground for pop video as well as marketable TV frivolity of a family nature. Micky Dolenz was witty/hysterical-in-a-mad-drummer-stylee, Peter Tork was dumb, Michael Nesmith wore a tea-cosy and raised his eyebrows whilst cogitating, Davy Jones sang and swooned or got swooned over by California Girls. (See – it had everything.) But beneath that surfaciously groovicious surface… revolution stirred.

Well kindof. Because The Monkees had or developed attitude… an independent force free of their original puppeteers. They knew they could do stuff, suddenly; amazingly, they could even PLAY!

Having been arguably the earliest significant truly manufactured pop outfit with continental appeal, the boys found, after a year or two, their er… mojo. Which said something like We Can Do This Thang. Or Thing. Man. Leading them to battle for the right to play and sing and actually (shock horror probe) take control, commit to their music; properly.

Maybe the moment of this minor triumph is relatively unimportant – and it’s certainly true that they knocked out a coupla their pop faves before Boogie-syndicalism dawned upon them – but still it fleshes out the caricatures and the story itself rather nicely. Those dreamers dreamed and then… fought for something. Proving if nothing else that there were one or two brain cells active in The Monkees collective way back then. (One impression is that Dolenz and Naismith may have been the more liberated and vocal souls, but this is difficult to establish 40 something years after their 1966-68 peak.) In no way am I suggesting that The Monkees were ‘about’ the subversion of the business, or drawing parallels with them and Public Image Ltd; I think I’m just saying it’s one of the things I like about Monkeestuff. Chiefly though, they were – or they felt? – colourful and funny and they swept us along a now ludicrously implausible wave of innocence and cheek. When we were young.

So Davy Jones’s death at 66 feels an absurd affront to much of what he in particular stood for. Davy was the beautiful one, the natural, smiley-swoony one, the one the girls skweeemed and skweemed at. He was the handsome and maybe even slightly exotic Englishman in this cabal of yankeepups. He did the kaftan thing and the unassuming front man thing and the attractively wittyboy thing successfully – more attractively than the rest of the band, who lacked his stunning but unchallenging good looks. We liked or even loved him; but surely the thing that would please him the most is the love that still exists for some of those songs?

Jones sang the magnificently built “Daydream Believer”, a song that still rises and sears truly poptastically in the hearts and hums of many of us 45 years after the event. Not that longevity or sales or any of that Bizz-crap we’re supposed to acknowledge means anything. Most art created with an eye on either posterity or mass-sales is either indulgent or crass, right? But some things – some songs – just work, and go on working. Even pop, that most ephemeral of genres, can be profound in its simple voicing of some transcending now; when reflecting a moment we can feel, for its beauty or tunefulness or emotion or meaning. Sure we can wash up to great pop, but we can sing our hearts out too, either bewitched by some collection of chords – by the production – or by the words sung. With Monkees, or with great Monkees, there’s both brilliant crafting and singalongability in a popular but uncheesy way.

“Last Train to Clarkesville” and “I’m a Believer” remain remarkably alive as pop songs. (I know, I just checked.) Which is something of a relief, as I want to feel able to look back on a period of my childhood with rounded, post-modernist satisfaction as well with the beaming nostalgia of one needing/wishing to recapture lost innocence, lost joys. Davy Jones will be missed by his family, his friends and those of us who enjoyed that daft, wonderful popthing The Monkees gave us. Tomorrow, I play it to my kids.

A confessional from a professional?

High up there in the pantheon of sporting clichés there sits at least one about hookers. Somewhere behind the 47 crap jokes casually linking this most trusting of er… positions with flighty women and gaslit alleys. Somewhere on that flipchart of inclusive or exclusive banter between “Ya’ve got to be mad to be a ‘goalie”/ “Who ett all the pies ?” and “Gavin Henson is a Homosexual!” people say – even non-hookers say – they’re a special breed.

They are too. Anyone who is prepared to dangle off of the shoulders of colleagues in this most exposed of manners – with both arms effectively relieved of their ability to mitigate against serious injury – gets a pint of after shave from me. There must be surely a link between the morphology of their imperfectly expressed cruciform in the scrum, the necessary courage shown by hookers at all levels of their trade and the apparently described pathology of the breed? Which seems to involve on the one hand wholeheartedness and on the other a generally undemonstrative fearless mania.

And why wouldn’t it? Rarely in life is the head and neck so literally on the block; it’s as if your two mates either side (the loosehead and tighthead props) have your very being – or the physical safety of it – in their custody. This is no Guardian-readers-on-confidence-building workshop exercise, this is offering yourself up at the moment of the infamous ‘Hit’, when two packs of opposing forwards clang together in an expression of calculated violence designed to find you out should any weakness reveal itself. You will not, therefore, be weak.

The Front Row Union then may only allow the brave and the faithful entry to their bloodsweatandtears-stained ante-rooms. This does not, however, debar from entry the bright or the evil; and it did not debar Brian Moore. In fact the two were surely made for each other.

Brian Moore. Of England – sixty odd times. Adopted. Abused. Self-confessed Tolkien nerd and qualified Nail Painter. (That would be as in fingernails, during a stint as proprietor and technician(?) at a Soho emporium run with a former wife. 1 of 3.) Moore the proud and probably slightly perverse bearer of the various bête noire-equivalents knocking around Six Nations rugby (though it was Five when he played.) Delighted to be so hated by the Welsh and the Scots and the French and well… everybody. Inspired even by that knowledge, almost satisfied by it – especially the realisation that if he were, for example Scottish and otherwise unchanged, the Scots would love him for his fiercely committed spirit.

And yet the key thing revealed by the man himself during his predictably jarringly honest visit to Nurse Kirsty’s knee for Desert Island Discs was this ‘almost’.

In an extraordinary but typically articulate self-skewering Moore constantly alluded to his inability to recognise, to be at peace with his achievements. Utterly without resort to idle pleasantries – how, we imagine, he must hate them! – the former England number 2 rumbled like some worryingly law-conversant boar through the excited parabola that is his personal history. Adoption into churchgoing family/abuse from within churchgoing milieu/sporting and academic success/then oodles of hard-won glory at an international level for England RUFC. Success he still finds hard to own.

Fascinatingly(?) Brian Moore refused to emerge from the dressing room to participate in celebrations and photocalls following England’s 1991 Grand Slam victory. He simply wouldn’t do it. Issues of self-worth were so darkly present that Moore failed to shift from his bench… because he didn’t feel he deserved that victory. Psychologists – cod, like me, or otherwise – have your field day.

On the way to his metaphorical Desert Island, Brian Moore revealed pretty profound stuff like this every other sentence. Not out of arrogance you sensed – although there may be some self-obsession implied? – but because he gives a straight and generous answer to a genuine question. This is how he understands the world; there’s surely something to be said for that? He was alarmingly open about his everything; from his ‘Pitbull’ness to his other darknesses, his lost times under the influence of all manner of substances, following his release from the strictures of his athletic discipline. (Basically he went mental in his beloved Soho.)

Moore’s choice of music inevitably reflected his scope as a bright, bullish, sensitive bloke. It combines what some might consider appreciation of the finer things with punkishness. So from Mozart to Green Day. From Ian Dury to Pietro Mascagni. And one from the much-admired soulbrothers-in-peachy devilry, The Stranglers – an attractive, near melancholic, rather beautiful song called “Always the Sun”. (Listen to that …and it figures?)

But Moore would want to be judged on that which he committed to; formerly the rugby/now the journalism and commentary. He knows how much his confrontational personality, his facility to wind-up the world at large has discoloured how he is received. Despite this awareness of the extensively ventilated voodoo doll- version Moore out there in the public mind, I don’t hear him complaining, ever. Serious – often- and lugubrious as well as loquacious in his muffling, bell-chiming fog of sincerity; but too manly for self-pity or show. So judge him fairly, please.

Moore is a complex and yes a dark, difficult guy. A proper hooker – with that hunting dog relentlessness and low-burning fire. Beyond indomitable – more alive and more interesting, despite his saddening ‘baggage’. An essential part of a particularly English rugby team, a successful one, for several years; drawn absolutely to the thick of it. Now in triumphant opposition to the platitudes and the rehearsed banalities of much sports-speak, instinctively and with some style telling us how it really is.

He writes now acutely and often brilliantly for the Daily Telegraph. He commentates, often as foil to the more circumspect Mr Eddie Butler, with whom, surprisingly, he generally disagrees. In all of this there appears to me not an ounce of what my lot would call ‘side’ – meaning pretence or calculation or feyness or… dishonesty. He picks and goes without pausing to preen I think. And I wonder if he dare give himself some credit for that?

Dumb questions.

Don’t know about you but I hate feeling excluded from stuff; whether it be (literal) entry to something or exclusion through snobbery, for example. For now, if we stop to reflect on all manner of political discourse (please, do!) we may find pretty early some obstructive force, some veil through which we feel we may or should not peek.

On times this will feel just ‘right’, the presence of some justifiable and even necessary filter, through which we have to earn passage, through understanding. Because we need to feel confident of a certain level of intellectual competence in Subject A before we run with it, debate it, unconstruct it. So essentially we fore-arm ourselves, against asking dumb questions, often by turning sheepishly(?) away from those things we ‘don’t know enough about’. Though I am guilty of it, I hate that.

My suspicion is that much of this self-denial of the cerebral joust (that might on reflection be regarded as a life-enhancing or defining stimulus) is more coerced than personally screened. We are made to feel inadequate. Pressures emerge from all levels of the sky-scraping beast that morphs into (or rises from?) say, the body politic/the fiscal gherkin/the evolved system. Us normal folks are lost or spun or misled by something in the constricting ether; something on the one hand rather rundown and bad-breathlike and on the other awesomely pervasive; powerful.

My instinct is to fight that stuff; to defy and to undermine it. This may mean pushing out beyond the ledge of my core subject expertise – that would be er… sport maybe? – and blowing a raspberry at the notion of received wisdoms elsewhere. Received wisdom often perpetuates myth, right? Is often grounded in smugness; may need the faux-oxygen of privilege or the cover of opaqueness. Perhaps mystery itself may be an outlier in this matrix of conformist gunk? And perhaps, therefore we need an occasional, demystifying blast of… punk?

Punk was wonderful for its moral zeal-with-a-mohican. Punk said – if you were listening – stop preening and start speaking from the heart. Stop twiddling those solo’s and tell me something real. It was magnificently articulate and magnificently necessary in that respect. Punk began unpeeling the facades of the worlds of art/music/politics because it seared angrily through; it was a focused mischief blaring wildly out for betterstuff. It may not have paused too long in consideration of the need for nuanced arguments but maybe that counts for urgency rather than in some cool deficiency column. Great punk(s) had no respect, other than that which was earned. Great punks did not understand, so they demanded answers.

John Lydon may have been the only great punk. ‘Metal Box’ from Public Image Limited remains a staggeringly discomfiting but articulate noise, an appropriate racket from which to launch an onslaught against (capitalist(?) drudgery—witness the “shallow spread of ordered lawns”. Something is being punctured or exposed or better revealed; a kind of hypocrisy, a kind of normalcy; a sad, bad intellectual thinness. There is poetry in these dumb questions. These questions might not have been asked… if we’d have just… behaved.

So though I do despair at how we still fawn before the current gods – for ‘growth’/some careering stability/the normalcy of sheepishness – those rib-progglers, those UnCutters, those Occupiers give me hope.