... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

George Clarke's Amazing Spaces is my favourite 'non-scripted' TV show now that Inside Nature's Giants isn't on any more. ING's excursions into the anatomy and environments of some of the wonderful creatures that evolution has thrown up. Advances and mistakes. The most beautiful illustration of evolutionary errors comes when we open up the giraffe's neck and see the pointless 15 foot detour of the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

GCAS's ingenious appropriations of knackered buses, milk floats, canal barges, treetops, caravans and garden sheds. In S01E01 the young architect who has turned an underground Victorian public convenience into a beautiful home for herself. All the creatives who have built wonderful little money spinners, or home studios in their gardens, or tiny holiday homes on wheels, how I envy them, their skill and hard work. I want to be like them.

A beached whale. Let Mark Evans and Joy Reidenberg have their ways with it, wielding dissection blades and TV cameras, pulling out entrails and laying them out on the grass, mouth to anus, slitting open the stomach and the guts to inspect and weigh the contents. Hollow out the torso. Break open the head to view and manipulate the vocal apparatus. Turn over the redundant cetacean space to me and my friend Thompson, the adept handyman, to convert to a stunning compact seaside residence.

Enter the mouth into a surprisingly bright and airy living space. The side folds down and the flipper can be utilised as a balcony/decking area, perfect for picnicking on the beach with the need to step down into the sand. A wood burning stove keeps the place warm on cold nights, the whales blow-hole makes the perfect exit point for the flue. And of course at the back end, the shower room and toilet. The whales own watertight sphincter is repurposed to let gas and water in, via pipes leading from storage tanks concealed outside.

As yet undecided, to let out the converted whale to paying customers or to move into the space myself and lead a basic idyll of a life, digging for razor clams and jogging barefoot on the sand.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A little bit of over time in my day job and all of a sudden all I can think about in my free time is what needs doing tomorrow. At work. I hate that. Creative thinking disappears and writing goes with it and, and yeah. That's what happens, and yeah.

Marinating pork chops in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, pepper and thyme. Watching a Spencer Tunick art documentary, Naked States. Drinking whiskey and water. That's what I'm doing, and yeah.

Almost finished reading Making Sense of the Troubles, by Davids McKittrick and McVea. Mind blown by the complexity of Northern Ireland in the second half of the 20th Century. Upset by man's capacity of being fatally, murderously stubborn. Unable to formulate thoughts or opinions on the subject. And yeah.

That's it.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Here's a thing I started writing at the weekend and saved in draft. A lot of things seem to be getting saved in draft at the moment and remaining unpublished:

In the shower, thinking about the inconsistencies and nonsense surrounding the Jesus myth, when I joke struck me: The story of Jesus has got more holes in it than His hands and feet did. Woah-ho, hilarious. The shower, where I have all my most wonderful thoughts, philosophical witticisms, revolutionary hilarities, all sorts of intellectual ideas that risk overthrowing the status quo, influencing the youth and the old guard alike to throw down their treasured traditions and take up non-sanctified left-field oddities - if an idea becomes your home it becomes your tomb, and Christianity and religion as a whole has become a hole for so many.

It's like I am a thirteen year old having these ideas for the first time, the fact I feel I must express them in such a (semi-) public forum. Anyone with a brain has these anti-religious enlightenments at a young age and remains free from the chains of faith, some people stick with it in a state of perpetual childhood, praying to the heavenly father, the eternal dictator, and poor piteous them. Poor pitiful them. Boohoo jesus forgive them/me.

The shower is where I have all of my ideas, be they good, bad or entirely spectacularly monumentally normally uninteresting. This is one of them. The toilet is where I have all my shittest ideas. Doing the dishes is where I stare out of the window at the neighbour's cat.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I support Everton.

I don't care whether they win or lose. I despise football, the boring game, the bilious banterers boasting about their supported teams achievements, anyone who talks about it ever for any reason (even to say they hate it), and all the rich racists and rapists who play it.

But still I support Everton.

Not in any active way. I don't watch their matches, know the names of any of the players or the current manager, know how they are doing this season or the last, I don't have their shield tattooed on my arm, and I don't follow them on twitter.

But I do support Everton.

Because my cousins do, my father and uncle, and most importantly my grandfather who was born in Everton 80-odd years ago and who remembers standing on a milk crate watching the legendary Dixie Dean play. For me supporting Everton has nothing to do with football, it's a connection to family, and a living connection to the past, to history.

To a decent working class movement from a time before corporations took over, to a time when sportsmanship was more important than gamesmanship, to a time when players just got up and got on with it, even if they were losing blood, instead of rolling on the ground trantruming for a penalty at the slightest whiff of physical contact.

To a halcyon day that I never experienced and may never really have existed outside of popular conscience and received opinion.

But I suppose I still support Everton.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Eee-ahr, ah-ahk-aht-ee

These oscillating strings of apparently meaningless sounds, when drawled from a slack jaw, comprise two vital calls of a certain type of Manchester denizen, uttered when shopping for clothes. Ah-ohnt-ahk-aht with a disdainfully curled top lip is a statement of displeasure with the approximate meaning of I don't like that. The opposite - affirmation that a piece of clothing or pair of shoes is desirable and worthy of purchase - is conveyed by the second set of syllables. Eee-ahr is a general call to draw attention, sort of an excuse me, but a more literal translation may be here you are. The rest of the sentence, ah-ahk-aht-ee, is the statement I like that, me. The seemingly pointless addition of me at the end is actually an important affirmation of truth, feeling and the individual. Also sprach Mancunia.

I'm aware all that accent-snobbery makes me sound like a right cunt, but that's something I'm just going to have to live with, isn't it. As annoying as I find those noise-sentences every time I hear them, they don't compare to how much I hate the sound of my own voice on a recording. My luscious deep baritone becomes a nasal whine mixing Lancashire bits with affectations taken consciously/unconsciously from whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. But that's something I'm just going too have to live with. Isn't it. I don't know. Maybe.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My telekinesis will be used to take control of people's arms on the bus and make them press the 'bus stopping' bell when it's not even their stop. It'll be absolute chaos. Drivers stopping when no one wants to get on or off, confused, embarrassed and maybe even scared passengers wondering what just happened to them, annoyed commuters having their journeys pointlessly drawn out because of a selfish mischievous minority, eventually angry bus drivers yelping 'can you stop ringing that bloody bell, whoever you are', absolute chaos I tell you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I couldn't remember what teabags we normally get. I like Yorkshire Tea, it's obviously the best, but I'm not that fussed so we get the one my wife prefers. I got confused and scared trying to chose between Tetley or PG Tips. One of them is very nice, the other has a thin, weedy metallic taste. Which is which, that was my dilemma. Anyway, it turns out I made the wrong decision. Now we have 200 pyramidal PG Tips which is going to take longer to get through than that box of 200 Twinings Earl Grey I got half a lifetime ago during the throws of a short burst of craving for that particular aromatic blend of leaves. And what with all the white tea, two types of green, and a load of different fruity and minty infusions the cupboard is bursting at the hinges. And we still need to get real coffee, instant coffee, and that old family favourite Barleycup (powder, not the fucking granules, what the fuck is that about). The weight will bring the walls down. The lid on the plastic pot we keep the sugar in isn't very secure. The dustpan and brush is in the cupboard under the sink, behind the caddy for food waste, just so you know.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Thunder rumbled and hail fell and I watched comfortably from the window, wrapped in a dressing gown and nursing a hot cuppa in my octopus mug. Sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon, but it's only Saturday baby. The dark draws in, an overcast sky makes mid-afternoon look like dusk, and all this calls for hot toddies. Hot toddies made the easy and delicious way, with boiled lemonade poured over whiskey and honey, and served... just normally, in a mug or something. Nothing fancy.

The storm has passed which is a shame because I would have enjoyed that feeling of ensconcement one gets when seeing vicious rain hit that watertight window above the blazing heat of a radiator on full blast. I want a real torrent, turning roads into rivers and wearing tarmacadam down so smoothing out the potholes. The park at the back, with its grass torn up by tire tracks of inconsiderate teenage twats on motorised scooter-mobiles, liquefied and swampificated, deluged, so those little shits must complement their ghastly over-priced tracksuits with sturdy full-length anglers' waders.

Come the hell of high water, the stench of washed out drains, and the peril of floating debris and desperately paddling sewer rats. Come the fall of frozen water to smash windscreens and shatter skulls, fell trees and evict squirrels. Bring it all on and we shall watch through the impenetrable barriers of central heating and double-glazed windows. Move this autumn along into a premature winter, the one we sense approaching, that sets our teeth a-chatter.
Beyond Merely Assembling, far from any sign of a neighbouring gallery, popping-up upstairs in an abandoned Co-operative office block - a entrance on the corner of streets Federation and Balloon, up the arse end of Manchester's Northern Quarter largely untroubled by Google Maps, and cars, and passing footfall - the sophomore show from Mark Devereux Projects. To respond to the phrase, the title of the show, beyond merely assembling, the task set to participating artists, who obliged with urinal dividers, glitchy electronics rendering news-feeds and the human genome, photographs of photographs of architectural detail, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and an installation scene like The Great Wave off Kanagawa constructed from found office materials.

  * This blog-post's pretentious language was brought to you 
by a poor impersonation of the language used in 
Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon, which I am currently reading.

Aquarian-born sons of Gemini, Kevin & Brad Shaw, me & me, as dissimilar in temperament as they are similar in looks, did present themselves at said show, the first having arrived solo travelling by tram that did reek a pungency of sour orange, the second upon the firsts consumption of the necessary number of Aldi's lowest alcohol ale. The one or the other did talk and walk with artists, while the one or the other other did stand by darkened corners and creep up walls and look for the light. One wished only to be alone reading Pynchon's Mason & Dixon in a darkened room, and one to be supping grape and grain whilst talking at faces both familiar and foreign.

The drinker won over, imbibing artistic artefacts, many of a structural, almost-architectural influence, and conversing with creators of said, but not before a quiet moment spent sitting in a darkened office, perhaps once housing a manager of some description, but now featuring two rows of chairs and a projection onto a screen, the screen hanging down from fishing wire suspended from exposed ceiling pipes. On screen, The Other Kwai by Kit Mead, a thought on the construction of a bridge for a film, the largest cinema prop or set ever built, and its impact on the nearby people and environs. Shots of ants bustling over man-made bridges, and the in-out-in-out weave of a wicker chair in construction.

Natalie & Jack, both blessed with surnames unusual and intriguing enough to compliment their work, eponymously styling themselves as Zervou-Kerruish. A collaborative project to create a back-and-forth dialogue between photograph as object and photograph as image. A photographed ornamental cornice is printed, that image being shaped to follow the up-across-up-across pattern of stairs, which is in turn photographed and displayed in the gallery as a C-type image, Edifice/Artifact 02. In future exhibitions to see the artefacts themselves, along with the photographs, would interest me greatly.

Built like an indy pro-wrestler, and with the jolly enthusiasm of a science nerd, self-claimed artist & technologist Charles Gershom held forth with authority on DNA, binary numbers, the double-slit experiment, and circuit bending, as I listened intently and marvelled enviously at the ability to manipulate technology on the most fundamental levels. To build electronics and write code is a skill like real magic to me, with an Arduino in place of the white rabbit concealed in the top hat. His custom built electronic video LCD installation, Homo_sapiens.GRCh37.70.dna-Device, was my favourite piece of the show and would have a position of pride upon the wall of my writing room, if I had one.

Mark Houghton, lecturer resident in Wales, perpetrator of the crime of shattering my image of Stephen Fry, and dismantler and reassembler of chairs, table-tops and metallic shelving units, is a man who doesn't mind his work being touched or even stepped on by people who haven't noticed its presence. He'd been awed by the sight of a tall, curvaceous, 'sculptural' lady, standing upon the highest of heels beside his tall and curvaceous sculpture, Pointless Column. The visual similarity was striking, but in retrospect and considering the title, Pointless Column, it becomes rather insulting, an unfortunate and accidental comparison I don't imagine was meant, and only noticed at this exact moment of writing. Mark's work Divided We Stand, three ceramic urinal dividers positioned one above the other up a wall is amusing, objects familiar to half the human species, and, I assume fairly alien to the other half, when viewed from the side looks like giant Trebor Soft Mints jutting out from the wall as if flung with some force by a young Goliath.

The evening concluded with friendly discourse and a quick pint with Mark Devereux and Liz West, and then off home I went to provide my cold-stricken wife with a strong hot toddy. The evening, alas, is over, but the exhibition is not, which continues until Wednesday 20th November, with that in mind clicking the vicinity of here will present the reader with more relevant information.

One final message to the patient reader, I thank you for your indulgence as I temporarily adopt this ludicrous faux archaic turn of phrase, for I am aware it doesn't suit me and it makes me seem to all the world like a right clodpate, divvy or fuckwit of one singularly high order.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Would it be possible to write about a different aspect of a very specific topic every single day? I tried it before a couple of times with very unsatisfying results. One time I decided to write about bananas every day for a week. I think I managed two days. A poem and something else. Another time it was squirrels. Maybe it was three days, consecutive. Squirrels have popped up in this blog many other times. I have no specific obsession with squirrels, I just see them every day and have grown quite fond of them. The way they move is a testament to the beauty of nature, as if one were needed.

Someone said something like, the smaller the canvas the greater the art needs to be to fill it. I don't know who. And many others have remarked that rules and limitations, structure, can lead to greater creativity than absolute freedom does. How many fourteen-year olds wrote like Anne Frank. To my shame I've never read her diary. And as a fourteen-year old I did nothing of any worth. Just sulking, smoking and listening to loud music. I wasn't even reading The Outsider or The Catcher in the Rye like I should have been.

I've just finininininininished reading Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. Like everything else I've read by him it was amazing, and intimidating but also instructional. His article 'Not Chasing Amy' about minimalism and the short story writer Amy Hempel remains the single best piece of writing about writing I have ever read. Minimalism. Restraint. Using simplicity to wield extraordinary power. Quite the opposite, it seems to me, of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, which I have again faltered into. My place is marked so I can return to it, as though it is made up of particularly challenging episodes in a series I can't really get into, but want to because of its stature.

But now I am off to try Thomas Pynchon for the first time, starting with Mason & Dixon. The dust jacket promises a talking dog and a robot duck along with its Age of Reason-era American historical-fiction. I'm excited to get started, but the fact that it is a nearly-800 page hardback, weighty enough to crack skulls if swung just so, makes me concerned about my hands, wrists and forearms, and the punishment they will take just holding the bloody thing. Give me paperback any day.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I like Iceland, I really do. The shop, not the country (although I suspect the country would elicit a sense of awe and wonder in me, as well as making me cold). It's more than just the chicken dinosaurs the London media elite would have you believe. It also sells prawn rings, pizzas and frozen pork pies. Aaaannnnd... frozen sandwiches! Frozen pork pies and frozen sandwiches. For the traditionalist you can also buy non-frozen varieties of fruit, veg, bread, tea bags, cheese and breakfast cereal. Just like a normal shop.

But the real draw is the party packs, Indian, Chinese, barbecue, Christmas, all the foods. Just don't buy anything with frozen ribs in because they will, will be hunks of inedible gristle. I recommend the mozzarella sticks and the breaded king prawns, it's like a world cruise of fast food. Visiting far flung ports of the Mediterranean, the Indian sub-continent and the Orient or whatever we're calling it now, without leaving the vicinity of your deep-freeze.

Iceland, Iceland, how I love thee, let me count the ways, one king prawns, two mozzarella sticks, three cheap pizzas, four it's where we buy decaffeinated tea from for when it's really late but we still need a brew, five the queues are shorter than at the Aldi next door. Five. That's five ways I love you Iceland. Six if you count the snobby snide chuckle I got to have at the frozen sandwiches and pork pies. See even those of us that like the Iceland still seem inclined to maintain a slight air of superiority. Pathetic, isn't it.

Winter has well and truly set in, and Iceland isn't even as cold as the fridge and freezer aisles in Asda. But Asda has a McDonald's for those of us that need to eat before, after and during doing a big food shop. See there's all different things you need to weigh up. Aldi's got those little Belgian beers, 10 bottles for £3-something, but it's fruit and veg is shit that goes bad in two days. Asda has a massive bakery section but it always seems to be empty. Quality Save is good for toilet paper, tissues, the occasional canvas, sun cream, toiletries, jars of bockwurst, anti-bac wipes, and absolutely nothing else.

It's a complex.... thing. It's complex.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Hello twitter. I'm getting self-concious about this blog auto-posting to twitter. It sends over a link to each post, a random time after I click publish, with text comprising of the first few words. I can't remember how I set it up, it was so long ago, and I can't be bothered to google it and go to the effort of stopping it happening. It's probably better that it does post to twitter than to not, or is it, I don't know. We managed well enough without twitter for almost all of history, and longer. Blogs too.

People wrote diaries:
Dear Mr. Diary,
This fine morn a wondrous occurrence occurred. When assisting me as I alighted from my carriage, the young gentleman Dr. Jonathan McD'Arcy, took me by the hand and our eyes connected for a moment. I do believe I felt an impurity within my fore-fundament. I embarrass myself with this impropriety in the eyes of the good and pure doctor and I fear I shall blush a most revealing shade of scarlet when next I set eyes upon him. Oh, dearest diary, it gladdens my heart to know how you listen, for if anyone else were to hear of this, mother or father, or heaven forbid, my brothers, the trouble I should bring upon this house would rival the trials of the ill-fated feuding Montagues and Capulets. To suffer the fate of poor Juliet, I just don't know, diary, I just don't know.

That sort of thing. The people of yore, they were at it all the time.

They wrote it in a book and kept it to themselves. And let's face it, that was a much more proper way to conduct oneself, not like now where every thought is turned into a status update, tweet, blog post, YouTube video, or that worst of all form of contemporary express, the YouTube comment. What the fuck are we playing at.


Monday, November 04, 2013

Thank you seems to be on its way out, as it dissolves into a mush of ta, and cheers, and nice one.  And with it inevitably goes you're welcome. How can you reply to nice one with you're welcome, it would sound bizarre. All this can be seen (heard) in living colour (sound) when alighting the bus at a busy stop or station, a queue of people stepping off, passing the driver and saying an array of thanks. Mostly thanks, with the odd ta, cheers or nice one. Sometimes the driver responds, sometimes not. When he does it's usually a nod, a yup, or a cheers. Even a thank you will not coax out a you're welcome in response.

I work in a shop where I am sometimes inclined to be helpful towards customers and when I am, especially with nice old ladies, I am often rewarded with a thank you. I always try to say you're welcome, but sometimes other responses slip out unbidden. There are two that spring to mind: 1) That's OK, or it's OK, which I don't like, because it's not a proper response and it is quite dismissive, sort of batting away the thank you before it can land. 2) Thank you, a thank you for the thank you. I imagine that this is a response American's would find baffling, the sort of behaviour they stereotypical assign to Canadians. Perhaps. Anyway, a thank you for the thank you is just weird. And wrong, like replying to how do you do? with good thanks, you? instead of the correct how do you do? Clear? Clear.

And on the bus, the one I mentioned before, remember, the bus, on that bus a boy in a hat gets on. He was a school boy, wearing one of those baseball caps they all wear nowadays, perched on his crown, separate and balancing. They have words and slogans on them, don't they, I'm sure you've seen them, out there in the wild. This hat said CAVIAR on it. Yep. The salty eggs, or roe, of a sturgeon. On a school boy's hat. In Hulme, Manchester. I don't know what's happening any more.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Leg pain plus sleeping equals dreaming about leg pain. I don't have any ongoing problem with leg pain (neck and shoulder pain however, that's another story) but I occasionally have dreams where I am attempting to walk somewhere and every step I take is agony. I move slowly, one step at a time, holding myself up against walls and fences, my destination vague and unreachable. When I wake up there is invariably a dull thud in my legs, a generalised ache causing wobbliness and uncertainty, requiring minor adjustment by moving into a more comfortable position. It's no biggie, hardly worth mentioning really, it's just one of those things, such is life, we just pick ourselves up and move along, nothing to see here.

Then I made the mistake of reading a bit about Unit 731, the secret Japanese military operation to perform unspeakable vivisection experiments on Chinese citizens during World War II, during which stomachs were removed without anaesthetic and oesophagus's were sewed directly onto the intestine, and by the end of the war 500,000 people were dead as a result of this group experimenting and dropping bombs full of plague fleas, but most of the perpetrators were never punished, due to the supposed value of their results, and given immunity from punishment for war crimes and crimes against humanity in exchange for their dubious and horrific results.

People are awful.

There is a dog running in the park outside my house. It chases a ball and wags its tail, and bounds along happily, its ears blowing and bouncing in the wind. It might stink of wet dog, and shit in the street and on the grass where children play, and cover furniture with greasy hair, but it will never organise and carry out the mass extermination of another group of dogkind. Yorkshire terriers would never implement a final solution in their vile war against Doberman Pinschers, shitzus would never enslave and work to death millions of poodles. They just stink, and shit, and chase balls in the park. Squirrels are too disorganised to make a final push against the pigeons or the magpies, they're just not generally that way inclined.

What's my conclusion here? No conclusion. Just some stuff about a dream, my legs, some war crimes, and some animals I can see from my window. An average Sunday morning. Next lunch, then reading and writing.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

We've got ducks on our shower curtain. Not real ones, cheeky cartoon ones, looking like bath-time rubber duckies. There are six babies and two growed-ups in a repeating pattern. The growed-ups look very similar to the babies, as though they have evolved to remain stuck and become sexually mature in a juvenile stage, like axolotls, emus and maybe even humans (the shape of an adult human's face is much closer to that of a juvenile chimp than it is to an adult chimp).

The only difference between our shower curtain baby and adult ducks is a slight patternation on the adults' wings which the babies don't have, and the colouration of the eyes (white with black pupils for adults, empty orange pits for the babies). There's no indication of external genitalia on any of the cartoon ducks on our shower curtain, thank heavens, imagine how distracting that could be. Also I think sales of that particular design would take a dive amongst a certain demographic, timid middle-class families and the like.

Of course we can't live our lives pandering to these (possibly imaginary) people in the middle of society. If there are people out there who want a ducky shower curtain with visible genitalia then they should damn well be allowed to have it. That's supply and demand, freedom of expression, the right to live your private life in the way you see fit, as long as you are not harming anyone else. And no, (possibly imaginary) middle class busybodies, your feeling of righteous offense does not constitute harm. So shut the fuck up who ever you are, it's just a shower curtain, neither you, nor it, even exist.

Our ducks don't have visible genitalia, you'll remember from earlier. But yet they are still quite distracting as I think I have inadvertently demonstrated. Most of them are looking forwards in the direction they appear to be marching, but some of them look cheekily to their sides, or directly at us, staring us out, distracting. I just sit on the toilet laughing at their cheeky little glances. What fun. What mischief.

Friday, November 01, 2013

"July made of Sellotape."
-note found this morning
on my bedside pad of paper

What am I supposed to do with that, how did my semi-dream state mind imagine the waking me would benefit from that assertion? July isn't made of Sellotape. Not for me anyway, I almost never use Sellotape in the month of July. The vast majority of my annual Sellotape usage is in October and December. The rest of the year is a nine month desert empty of Sellotape, and a second smaller patch covering most of November. Mine is just not a life with a significant role for Sellotape. And do you know what, I do pretty well without for the majority of the year.

In all the times in my life during which I have developed an obsession with stationery, of which there have been many, Sellotape has never taken a prominent role. As a child, bare-footed with constant splinters in my soles and toes from the untreated wooden floors of my childhood home, I had a wooden desk constructed by my father, painted blue and with a slanted fold-up lid concealing storage space for stationery. In it was, probably, for I cannot really remember, paper, pens, crayons, coloured paper clips, and possibly some Sellotape, or an un-branded alternative, kept in a dispenser. The dispenser may have been novelty, a dinosaur for example, or it may have been a serious, weighted, black office affair - both of which would have been equally attractive to me. I would not have got much use out of it, but just owning it would have given me pleasure.

As a teenager stationery was less important. My school pencil case would usually have been years old and in tatters, scrawled with band names and stinking of weed. My pens would either have been none existent or inadvertently (or, it pains me to admit, advertently) stolen from a hapless classmate who trusted me to return the pen at the end of the lesson, but whose trust proved unfounded. My respect for stationery, and those people rightfully claiming possession of individual items of stationery, was at a lifetime low. Sellotape, or any forms of tape for that matter, was entirely vacant from this era of my life. And to be honest I don't feel I was missing out on anything. Of all the things I regret doing or not doing as a teenager, ownership or usage of Sellotape is not one of them, one way or the other, it just didn't and still doesn't matter.

Three times in my life after leaving school I have worked in stationery shops. The first time I had the invented job title of 3rd key holder which meant I had to open up and close on Sundays when the manager and assistant manager couldn't be arsed. A few years later I returned temporarily to the same store as a generic customer service assistant. Further along in my life I worked in a different stationery shop, first as assistant manager and then for a short time as manager before I quit in sudden and rather dramatic fashion. As someone who likes drawing, painting and writing I couldn't help but build up a little collection of inks and special pens and drawing materials during these times, but never did Sellotape gain a special place in my heart. I'm sorry Sellotape, but you're just not adorable at all.

Having said all that I do like duct tape, a lot, and masking tape is very useful when painting, plus those multicoloured electrical tapes are awesome, just crying out for use in a collage or something. Sellotape, however, functions well in wrapping presents, but that's it - merely practical, nothing lovable.

What any of this has to do with July I really don't know. I'm not that imaginative. I don't write poetry.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Having finished reading The Wind Up Bird Chronicle in record time - for me (I usually drag it out when reading long books, get distracted by other books and lose focus) - I have decided to undertake one of the unread pile of books marked 'massive books I own but may never read'. The one in question is Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

Others in the pile include Moby Dick, Dune, Don Quixote, and of course Ulysses by James Joyce. One of the books on this I highly doubt I will ever read. See if you can guess which one. Spoiler alert, the answer is Dune. I read the first chapter or so and the best I can say about it is, what a boring load of shit. Very much like Tolkien in that sense, a boring load of shit.

It took me forever to get through We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen, but bloody hell it was worth it. Read it, it's incredible. I have the next four days off work so if I sit here reading without eating or breathing I might be able to make a significant dent in Infinite Jest's 1000+ pages. That's if I can concentrate what with it being Halloween, all these bloody ghosts everywhere, getting on like they own the place. Putting the willies up me, and whatnot.

We never get trick or treaters, which is lucky because we have nothing to give them. Doubly lucky because my wife isn't in right now, and she is the one with the patience for all that stuff and nonsense. I'm a Halloween Scrooge.  They can all piss off, grr.

Infinite Jest is extremely exhausting to read. Especially compared to Wind Up Bird... which I finished last night. Maybe it's just because the words are much smaller. And there is more of them. And the sentences are just so long. Or the book is much heavier and it hurts my delicate little hands just to hold the book. Or because I am suffering from reading fatigue after yesterday's Murakamiathon. Any of these could be the case. Maybe it's just harder going, in a general wishy-washy un-defined sense that I can't explain, yes, that might maybe a little bit be it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I look around for something to write about. Nothing has happened today. I have shaved, had breakfast, and read. On my desk there are things, general things. The walls are white with a few pictures. All the stuff around me I have chosen to keep around me, but right now none of it inspires a few words. The kettle has boiled. The book I am reading is calling me back.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It is astounding. Every single event that happens is an impenetrable mystery, one after the other compounding and piling, surreal occurrences disrupting a mundane Tokyo suburban life, oddball characters with intricate stories helping and hindering the slow reveal of what is actually happening. It is awe-inspiring.

As the characters in the book feel strange inexplicable pulls - to wells, to infidelity, to aimless wandering, to unexpected violence - I feel an almost tangible pull back to the next room, where the book waits for me on the sofa. Water is round in a round receptacle and square in a square one, but water itself has no shape. People, apparently, often forget this fact.

The more I read the clearer it becomes to me that I am still an extremely poor writer. Thankfully I have chosen, or being given, writing as a passion. Had I wanted to be an athlete or a dancer or a model, or whatever, I would already have long missed my chance, my only chance. Writers become writers when they become writers and not before. The only deadline is death. In most cases ... Stieg Larsson's was a journalist before his death, and the world's best selling novelist after. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide after being unable to get published, 11 years after his death he was first published, A Confederacy of Dunces, which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

In Wind Up Bird Chronicle the main character is drawn to a well after an elderly ex-army man tells him about his near death experience in a dry Mongolian desert well. Both characters experience a taste of something holy, magical, transient in their respective wells. Both characters lives are aimless and drifting and empty afterwards. The main character has a chance to re-enter his well and attempt to reconnect with whatever it is that is happening down there. Where is my well?

I don't even want a well. Who, but a character in a magical realist story, would want to starve themselves in a well like a subterranean pre-enlightenment Siddhartha Gautama? I have no answer. To anything. What would it be like to live as a particle of dust? Again. No answer. It's almost as though it's not a real question.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"I tried to think, but I couldn't get my head to work."
- Haruki Murakami, 
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, pg. 238

- sign outside a Shell garage,
seen on A55 in North Wales

My recent reading - Raymond Carver, Amy Hempel, Philip K. Dick, Robert Silverberg's World of Wonder (a compilation of some of the best Golden Age sf short stories with accompanying essays), Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami - has done good, but at the moment it feels like terrible damage. I tried to write, but I couldn't get my head to work. If I can't think I can't write.

But a thought has formed: These excellent, world class writers are showing me how far I have to go. I have frozen in awe, dumbstruck by the glare, the power, the ability of their stories and the quality of their words. Now as I write this a voice in my head is saying, I can't do it I can't do it I can't do it. But another voice in my head, a voice that sounds suspiciously like my wife's, is telling me that of course I can do it, I just need to do it. She is reassuring me that I have ability and a story, but I can be lazy.

Today a garage in North Wales made an unusual claim, a boast. Proud not to serve garage food. What does it mean. Garage food we imagine to be mainly, I think, Ginsters pasties. Ginsters pasties, Peperamis, sweets and chocolate, perhaps even a bacon buttie kept warm for hours at a time in a hot cabinet. I imagine this is probably what you think of in response to the phrase garage food (unless you are American or something and then it might be, I dunno, those battered-hot-dog-on-a-stick things you all go on about). But only because this is what garages tend to sell, they have brought it upon themselves, this association with quick artificially flavoured meat and sweets. This is what people want to eat when they are driver - or - this is what people eat because it is convenient and it is there.

But 'Proud not to serve garage food', what does this even mean? Does it mean that it does not serve the sort of stuff listed above? It does not sell sweets and crisps? This would make it unique amongst all shops in a way that is surely not conducive to good business. And it has replaced the standard fare with a better class of food, goats cheese tart, seared swordfish, limocello semifreddo? Doesn't that sort of food then enter the classification of 'garage food' rendering the statement on the sign a lie. A sign incapable of telling the truth.

The only conceivable conclusion is that the garage doesn't sell any food at all. If that is the case should the sign not read, 'Proud not to serve food'? And how is that something to boast about? I can't understand the implication of that sign. 'Proud not to serve garage food.' I must meditate upon it.

Proud not 
to ser
ge f

To be foolish and to recognise that one is a fool ...

A spoon cannot taste the food it carries ...

To conquer oneself ...

Further down the A55, the cleanest brightest cherry red gate - wide and long and flanked by immaculate blue posts - marking the entrance to a farmer's field. They looked like a brand new Fisher-Price my little farmer toy, still and unplayed with, mint condition in the box. The mud of the field, the weathering of the wind and rain was yet to touch them. Even for newly installed farm furniture they seemed more than is needed. So bright.

We traveled past the garage sign and the immaculate gate at the national speed limit stopping neither out of purpose nor curiosity. We just went on. I saw them and noted them as I was the passenger. The driver, my wife, noted neither - her eyes on the road, her hand on the wheel. And we don't know how the message on the sign manifests itself within the garage shop, and we don't know our reflections in the unlikely uncanny lustre of the red gate with the blue posts.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I ate all of my share of the afternoon tea: welsh cake, bara brith, sandwiches (ham and pickle, cucumber and cream cheese, and smoked salmon), goats cheese tart, crumpet with bacon and rarebit, a single mini profiterole, and two scones with butter, jam and clotted cream, plus a glass of champagne and four cups of tea. Then I sunk into my leather library armchair and lapsed into a coma.

Earlier I bought four 1960s and 70s Rupert the Bear annuals from Sue Ryder and four xmas decorations from somewhere called Choo Choo. Further down the street was a further shop called Choo Choo Etc Etc. This is not linked to reality, I'll have to move on, explained the doctor on itv's OCD Ward programme. The gingerbread man is cute, but what does it have to do with xmas? My wife tells me it's a German thing, Weihnachten.

I awoke on the bed with a fizzy stomach and a light hint of headache, but a few farts, burps and a glass of water and the prosecco was chilled and popped. It's dark outside and we wonder where the peacocks, the peahens and the peababies roost in the wind and the rain. An advert on telly for an Audi that isn't available until Autumn 2014 - what's that about. There must be a reason, but what is it. The promised storm didn't manifest here in North Wales, and today had rather beautiful weather for the season. We scaled battlements and descended dark dank helical staircases that lead to nowhere. We threw 2p into a wishing well that was no deeper than floor-level.

Notice I say helical staircase and not the technically incorrect spiral staircase. That's the kind of guy I am. A bit of a twat. Good night.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How do I write a blog on a nice wee mini-break weekend holiday-type thing? When I originally abandoned this blog as a daily thing was the short break we had in Donegal after our wedding, as mini honeymoon. Now I am in North Wales at Ruthin Castle and we have spent the last couple of hours drinking whiskey (whisky?) in a wood-paneled library heated by an open fire.

The wood-paneled library heated by open fire, eh? Not all it pretends to be. The books were mostly pretend-old. Fake leather-bound Readers Digest Condensed Books, and a random selection of PVC-bound classics (Moby Dick, Vanity Fair, Jane Ayre). The only genuinely old book I saw was a rotten moldy copy of the British Medical Journal from the fifties. The first article we saw upon skimming was about how to judge a baby contest... wtf.

And the bar. A bar in a posh hotel in a medieval castle in North Wales. A tedious generic selection of lagers on tap. One local ale which was off. And apparently there is a Welsh whiskey but they have sold out of it. And the fire was gas....

It was nice and I had fun.... but it was pretend nice and pretend fun. And come on, fucking hell, no local drinks. That is too shit to articulate. Ruthin Castle, sort your fucking bar selection out will you... Now we're off for our dinner and the menu is amazing. I'm dribbling as I write this. I've had a few drinks now, so it's getting harder to notice the bad stuff and the good stuff is getting better and better...


Back from the meal. Drunk. Food: nice. Drink : nice too.
Night. Bye.
When the doorbell rang I was heating up a scotch egg in the oven. I always used to eat them cold, like you would from a packed lunch or picnic, but I had looked at the packaging and noticed the phrase 'delicious hot or cold'. This was the previous year and since then I had had occasion to eat a hot scotch egg no less than seven times. The fat would run out of the meat and add an oily glimmer to otherwise dull-coloured bread crumb coating.

I didn't answer the doorbell immediately. It was Saturday morning and the only callers we ever got then were disparate oddballs. Elderly ladies in Islamic headdress door-to-door selling colourful scarves. Chaps in ironed white shirts who like to talk about Jesus. Chancers hoping to make a few quid with a sponge and an empty bucket. If it rang a second time I would go out of the flat and look down the stairs. Through the obscured glass in the front door I would be able to discern vague shapes and colours.

The postman never came before midday and besides I wasn't expecting anything. I couldn't imagine the bell would ring again. It never did. Instead I checked the timer on the oven. Two minutes left until my hot scotch egg would be ready for eating. Not long enough to undertake most activities so I stared out of the window. Across the way a neighbour stared right back at me. Our kitchens looked out sideways from the building, into each other across the yard. Light from high up brought white reflections and shadow patches of trees in silhouette falling across the window obscuring the identity of my neighbour.

A pigeon flapped across the gap landing on my neighbour's sill. I watched it settle and heard it's coo through the single-pane glass. The timer rang and my scotch egg was ready. The neighbour was gone, the doorbell was silent, the pigeon was settled, and the scotch egg was hot.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

BBC2's Killer Whales - Beneath the Surface. An incredible fascinating look at the life and habits of the orca. The best bit was right at the end when the credits rolled and I read the following:


So cute. But it would have been nice to have seen a bit of recognition for Steven Snuggles and Sammy Bibble.

Writing that joke was hard work. Not real hard work mind. I just mean working out each word as the sentences formed on the page was like a fight against my brain. A rusty gate I'm too weak to push open. I wouldn't mind, but I'm not even happy with the way it turned out. Clumsy, lumpy, amateur and unfunny.

Dear god.

Tibbles and Niblett.
I think those names are funny names.

And I like killer whales.
Whale killers.

Fuck me, this is like pulling teeth.
See, I even had to resort to cliche.
Pulling teeth, bloody hell.

No squirrel/magpie battles today.

Ooh, but magpies and killer whales are both black and white animals. That is a link, no matter how tenuous, that I could work with. Perhaps I could think of something interesting and/or amusing to say. Maybe there is a specific evolutionary advantage or niche that is filled by having such stark contrasting colouring. And if there is I could read about it somewhere and then repeat that information here, albeit with much less authority or understanding.

Friesian cows.
Cats (black and white ones).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Used plasters. Stuck to the floor, rolled into a tube as if fallen from a finger, or lying with adhesive side upwards waiting to adhere to the sole of my shoe. They make me sick.

Finger tips placed together in the style of a Mr. Burns from The Simpsons 'Excellent' hand gesture. That makes me cringe. Seeing other people do it, attempting to do it myself, or even just thinking about it. They all make me extremely uncomfortable. Having my finger tip touched by another finger tip. Disgusting. I think this comes from when I broke my finger about fifteen years ago and had to wear a plastic sheath on it for six weeks. The entire time I could feel the touch of my finger tip. Constant unwelcome stimulation like Chinese water torture.

I can feel it now in that very finger as I think about it. Every time it touches a key as I type I feel that cringe and I shudder. Unpleasant. Yes, it is.

Writing those words was agony. Not because they are so painful, clearly they are not. It's just stupid. It really felt like hard work. Every time I tried to think of a wordy, rhythmic, playful way of expressing my dislike for used plasters and touched finger tips my mind clammed up and I felt sleepy and just wanted to click links.

I thought about the plaster thing at work today. I saw an old plaster lying sticky side up on the grey dusty floor of the stock room. Everything in there is covered in a thick construction-y powder that stains anything it touches, leaps up in clouds whenever anything moves, and fills your nostrils with a black substance that gets stuck under your fingernail. This plaster  was probably rendered stick-less by the dust but nevertheless I would not have enjoyed stepping on it. Having seen it however I was able to avoid it.


A magpie and a squirrel circled each other on foot. I watched from my bedroom window. The action happened on the grass at the base of a tree in the park behind my flat.

Something in the grass must have provided a desirable food source for bird and rodent alike. They paced and circled. The magpie hopped and shouting in machine gun fire. The squirrel flowed a pure sine wave.

Sometimes the squirrel would feel the upper hand and stop for a nibble of the precious grub, at which point the magpie would advance rapidly and take a nip at the squirrel's tail. Other times the magpie would peck at the ground and and the squirrel would advance with tooth and claw.

Both magpie and squirrel stopped, took time out to watch a second squirrel walk from up-stage right to exit up-stage left. And they went back to stalking and striking.

A vicious nip from that beak sent the squirrel a couple of feet up the tree. The magpie strutted and flexed and took a successful jumping gulp at a passing bug-on-the-wing.

A third squirrel entered down-stage right sending the magpie up and away. The squirrel came back down the tree and began sparring with the third squirrel. Both squirrels squabbled before exiting stage right in a clusterfuck of squeaks and scratching.

Curtains close.
Open. Players return for a bow.
The End.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We got a new kettle yesterday.

The old one was still functional despite having served us for many years. The problem was that the on switch had become detached. This happened in stages. Over a year ago the outer casing of the switch broke off and has since been waiting on the window sill for a fixing that never came.

Last weekend the inner lever of the switch left us leaving no trace of its whereabouts. It just upped and left. To the woods, as my old granddad might say.

It was still possible to switch the kettle on by inserting a finger into the void and digitally manipulating the inner mechanism. This, it was decided, was a step too far and we made the decision to get a new kettle. Maybe one that goes with the toaster.

And that's what happened.

This morning my wife experienced a pang of regret. Before even opening her eyes to the light of the bedside lamp she said, "I miss my old kettle".

She had never previously expressed any overt attachment to that little old kettle. In fact it was she who pushed for a new one. And as soon as we installed the new one she was quick to chuck the old one out of the flat onto the communal landing. In the dark under the bust light bulb.

By the old fish tank with the broken filter and the small box of bathroom tiles.

We've lived over 24 hours now with the new kettle and it is proving a welcome addition to the family. It has already made valuable contributions, boiling water for tea and stock. I look forward to many happy years together.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

  is a poor start to a piece of writing.
  is an annoying way to start a sentence. Written or spoken.

I am Kevin. This is my blog. It was a thing to keep away writer's block. Writer's block is a thing that probably doesn't really exist; a thing that would be more accurately labelled as writer's laziness.

I stopped writing this blog on a daily basis some time ago. It was probably about 16 months to 2 years ago. It's all there down the right of the screen if you are interested. I am not.

I wasn't indulging in writer's laziness, or so I told myself. Blogging time would be better used writing a novel. Or so I told myself. So I stopped writing this blog. In reality I had writer's laziness and writer's excuse-making. I still have them now. I am being lazy as I write this.

Right, so:

The blog is back. It might not be about anything today. All I want to do is write again. I have not written much in the last couple of months. I have been lazy. And depressed.

And I wonder what comes first the writer's laziness or the depression, and I wonder how much the two are connected. Does one bring about the other, or are they both brought about by a third unidentified thing?

I went to sleep a writer and woke up a moper. It's not as though I have nothing to be getting on with. There's plenty of writing to be done. First there is my novel. The one which, when asked what it's about, I say 'an unlikely meeting between the worlds of contemporary Western art and traditional Mongolian wrestling'. This is true.

  there are all the other things.
Lots of them.
More than I know the numbers for.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Atheism and the Emperor's New Clothes

This isn't my interpretation of the difference between 'New Atheism' and old Atheism, but it is a good one:

Old Atheist: There's no god.
Religion: Shut up.
Old Atheist: OK

New Atheist: There's no god.
Religion: Shut up.
New Atheist: No.

(If anyone knows where this fantastically accurate interpretation came from please let me know so I can properly attribute it. I saw it posted as a comment in a facebook discussion but don't remember when or where.)

And here is some further interpretation of my own:

Are you familiar with the story of the Emperor's New Clothes? You probably are, but let me explain anyway.  There is an Emperor. He is a strutting, preening, pig-shit thick dick head. He is convinced of his own importance, completely sold on his own mythology, believes himself to be a cross between the bee's knees and the dog's bollocks in some sort of insecto-canine hybrid.

Some cheeky conmen with fake credentials in tailoring from a correspondence course in Utah, come along to take advantage of the Emperor's self delusion. They present him with an empty coat hanger and tell him that it is the most wonderful beautiful suit they have ever made.

They tell the Emperor that only a great man can see the suit as it is made from a magical material only visible to the truly wise and wonderful. Big dumb old Emperor wants to be wise and wonderful, no he is convinced that he is already, and so he can see the suit.

He puts it on, and walks up and down, parading about the town in his new finery for all the public to see.  The public are tight-lipped about the foolishness of the naked dick-swinging Emperor.

Some of them remain quiet because they fear the Emperor, some think he deserves their respect because he's, you know, the Emperor, some believe they are being tolerant, and others perhaps are sold on the same self-delusion that the Emperor suffers from.

Then one little boy, who does not know the official line, has not yet been indoctrinated with the story, pipes up and yells, "The Emperor is stark bollock fucking naked! What are you all doing!? Why is everyone putting up with this, it's really fucking weird!"

And the spell is broken. Suddenly some of the people start to laugh because the truth they knew all along has been spoken publicly. Laughter begins to spread. Some of the people want to maintain the Emperor's privileged position so they keep quiet, and the Emperor retreats to his wealth and his palaces to cling to his last dregs of respectability, to try to work out what went wrong.

This is a story about new atheists. The Emperor is religion, a self-deluded cock in a big hat sitting on all the power for no good reason other that, you know, tradition or something. The silent public are a mixture of religious apologists, moderate religious people, agnostics, and old atheists.

Old atheists, the kind that don't believe in god but keep quiet about it because of tradition and a patronising belief that while they know god doesn't exist they're convinced that other people need their delusion to keep their primitive ignorant societies from collapsing.

The young boy is a new atheist. He doesn't know better, so his reaction is honest. He voices the truth, breaks through the lies and brings down tradition. Any tradition that can be destroyed by the truth should be destroyed by the truth.

The boy is the hero of the Emperor's New Clothes. The boy is the original new atheist.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

'Fish Cakes' read an official looking sign, on a small side door to a multi-storey carpark I walk past daily, as I caught it from the corner of my eye. I'm a fan of fish cakes, of course I am, as I think we all are, so my attention was quickly drawn. A good fish cake, or even the promise of a fair-to-middling one, requires ones full attention.

So I looked upon the sign, the 'Fish Cakes' sign, to discover to my dismay that it actually read 'Fire Exit'. Tediously, predictably, 'Fire Exit'. Disappointed, and having no specific interest in fire exits besides a general approval of them as a concept, I turned away. Immediately as the sign re-entered the corner of my eye it returned to reading 'Fish Cakes'.

It's a truth we all need to live with and the fact is that these things happen. Minor, constant and almost imperceptible disappointments. I wanted my usual seat on the bus, I had to sit somewhere else. The vending machine at work short-changed me by five pence. I haven't trimmed the nail on my left big toe for some time and over the last two days I have put large holes in three socks. I wanted fish cakes, I received a fire exit.

But before I had time to contemplate any of this I had taken two and a half more steps, could no-longer see the lateral-ocularly dimorphic sign, and was just realising I wasn't feeling particularly partial to fish cakes. And thus all was right with the world once more.

Of course, no I have been dwelling on fish cakes for some time. About the length of time one might spend considering them in the final two choices of a particularly difficult menu. So now my stomach rumbles, and I wonder what to have for tea, knowing full well that I live in a house currently devoid of fish cakes. Sad times.

Friday, August 02, 2013

John Sculptures

Sir John Hertsreach
"Be ye angry, and sin not:
let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil."
Ephesians 4:26-27

"That's it," he said to the settling stone dust. By Jove, I've done it again, he had planned to exclaim but, upon completing his latest statue, he just said that's it. As the granite particles fell gently about his person he placed the hammer and chisel into his belt and stepped back.

The granite block rose shoulder-height, smooth and rectangular, and atop it stood the carved figure of a man in cutaway coat, waistcoat, high-waisted breeches, stockings, shoes with buckle and heel, and a powdered wig tied with a ribbon. Its surface was unpainted and its size was larger than a man. His pose was one you have seen many times before: hand on hip, head raised, eyes gazing to the future. One foot rested on a pile of books; three copies of the Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version. Carved into the stone pedestal was naught but the name, Sir John Hertsreach, his dates, and a Biblical quote presumably relevant.

The sculptor's latest completed work was Sir John, whose biography briefly runs thus: Sir John was born 1722 at Castle Rowth to Christian Hertsreach, 1st Baron Hesterbridge, and the Lady Anne Allen. Educated in all the proper manners he was nevertheless a precocious child who grew into a temperamental yet brilliant man. He gained a reputation both for his unusual personal habits and his incredible architectural talents. Baron Hesterbridge funded the building on his land of many of Sir John's designs. Sir John received his knighthood soon after George II visited Castle Rowth in 1750. Sir John passed away in 1766 after a short illness. The relevance of the quote, and the meaning of the three Bibles was not recorded by contemporary sources.

"Thank you," said the sculptor, his neck strained backward to look Sir John in the eye. Sir John has no mortal remains but his name, his dates and his statue. The sculptor sweeps the granite dust from the floor. Moving up and down his ladder and using a soft, handheld brush he picks dust from out of the curls in Sir John's wig and the folds of his coat. Again he sweeps the floor, then carefully puts away his tools, brushes and ladders.

John the Betrayed
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear my voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him, and will sup with him,
and he with me."
Revelation 3:20

Amongst the detritus of a busy desk – crushed pencil sharpenings, pots of paint-clouded water, doodles and jottings, a half drunk bottle of wine, biscuit crumbs, and paper ephemera – he pulled towards him his sketchbook. Opening it in the middle and flicking back a couple of pages, past charcoal and watercolour drawings of bodies and body parts, he settled on a man in pencil.

Bare-footed, dressed in robes, palms at waist height and facing outwards, eyes closed and lips slightly apart; the drawing exactly mirrored that of a marble figure in the room. The sculptor looked from the sketchbook to the carved marble and back again, emphasising the curve of a finger with a few strikes of the pencil. He looked back and forth until he was done and moved over to the figure to caress its smooth surface with his hands.

Little is known of the life of John the Betrayed save for a few brief samples outlined in the sculptor's sketchbook. Without consulting the book, he recited all available information: "John the Betrayed, you lived and died from 690 to 769. You tamed the birds and built the first bell-tower in a European church. You preached good words to all who would listen, but your church was taken from you by your own family and you were cast aside to Asia Minor. You lived long and travelled much but never returned to the bosom of your family. Your final resting place is unknown and no relics currently exist." John the Betrayed listened closely with closed eyes and marble ears.

The sculptor sat again at his desk, picked up his pen, and turned to a blank page in the sketchbook. He found a packet of biscuits in the drawer beside his legs and chewed on a chocolate digestive until it was gone. While chewing he began to think, and upon swallowing the final mouthful he began to write:

Captain John "Uthuze" Terran
"For to be carnally minded is death;
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Romans 8:6

John Terran captained the HMS Horncastle, one of the Royal Navy's earliest ironclad warships, from 1859 until 1869. Primarily he was involved in protecting Victoria's possessions in Canton and Hong Kong, however he is most remembered for leading the bombardment on Kagoshima which opened up trade with the Japanese. He retired from active duty in '69 aged 54 due to a sudden undiagnosed illness, which caused the growth of great tufts of body hair and rendered him entirely mute for the rest of his life.

Known as Uthuze to his closest friends, John had always felt the urge to travel; his father had also risen through the Naval ranks and spent many years away from home. On the rare occasions when young Uthuze saw his father, he was regaled with long and exotic tales; dusky folk of all shapes and sizes and strange monsters unlike anything seen in God's green England. John's favourite story from his father was the one about the great shark which leapt from the ocean and landed on the deck. It had taken seven men to subdue the beast, and all the crew dined well on shark meat that night.

Remembered and honoured for his achievements Captain John "Uthuze" Terran was also known among his peers and subordinates as a generous but commanding leader; a man who deserved respect. Women loved him for his broad chest and shoulders, thick lustrous moustache and dark, dark eyes. His wife and children adored him and his parents couldn't have been prouder.

The sculptor created a cluster of pen and ink sketches of square-jawed mustachioed men in large dressy hats. He worked with a variety of glorious and victorious poses rendered using stick men or roughly outlined silhouettes, and consumed many more biscuits as he worked. Pencil sharpenings and drips of black ink covered the desk, and biscuit crumbs found their way into the centre crease of the sketchbook. Eventually the sculptor paused for a moment to look over his work, took up his pen and scrawled large crosses over the biography and sketches of Captain John Terran.

He turned the page and began to write:

John Fentercast,
Industrialist and philanthropist
"And these things you have heard from me
among many witnesses,
commit these to faithful men
who will be able to teach others also."
2 Timothy 2:2

Moore and Murphy

“So,” said Murphy.
“So,” said Moore.
And together they heaved the five hundred kilogram corpse above head height and pierced it on the swinging butchers hook. Moore cleared his throat, and Murphy swung his head in a circular motion emitting a loud crack of bone on bone. They stepped either side of the second cadaver and crouched down. Lift with the legs, not the back: the sensible mantra of health and safety.
Skinned, gutted, relieved of its head and legs, and ready for boning, the weight was still considerable. And together Murphy and Moore slung another dead cow onto another steel hook.
“Good morning,” said Murphy. “Did I say that already?”
“No,” said Moore. “You didn’t. Good morning, Murphy.”
Moore stepped across the room to the sterile storage compartment and withdrew two large hand-held hooks, and two long upwardly curving butcher’s boning knives. He walked back to Murphy and the two hanging carcasses, and handed over a hook and a knife.
“Thank you,” said Murphy.
“You’re welcome,” said Moore.
The room in which they stood was morning fresh, and as clean as it gets in a working day. Spotless white tiles on floor and walls, and fixtures and fittings of shining stainless steel. Murphy and Moore wore white from top to toe, including their hair nets and elasticated shoe covers. They each drew in a small table and positioned them to the left of their cows.
Moore placed his hook and knife on the table, lowering them at a controlled rate so that the sound of them making contact with the surface was minimal. He arranged them millimetre by millimetre so they were centred on the tabletop and their handles were parallel.
Murphy put his hook down, the metal on metal emitting a ringing ting. He held the boning knife before his face and peered at the blade, inspecting it from hilt to tip. Murphy and Moore reached the same conclusion and, as Moore continued his incremental tabletop adjustments, Murphy took the initiative.
He walked back to the storage locker and retrieved two 20cm steel knife sharpeners, then returned to Moore, handing one over.
“Thank you,” said Moore.
“You’re welcome,” said Murphy.
They each approached their respective tables and examined their tools. Moore picked up his hook and began carefully scraping down and sharpening the tip, approaching from this angle and from that. Murphy took up his boning knife, enhancing its already considerable sharpness with long steady strokes of the bevelled file. They stood back to back, alone except for their tools.
“We have a good day ahead of us,” Moore said to his hook.
“We sure do,” replied the hook. “I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”
“There, how does that feel?” Murphy asked of his knife.
“Excellent,” replied the knife. “You really know how to wake me up in the morning. I feel sharp as a new pin.”
“Murphy,” said Moore. “How was your weekend?”
Murphy didn’t answer immediately. Holding onto the handle of his knife sharpener he placed the tip against the metal surface of his table. With motions of the wrist the tip glided back and forth against the steel emitting a scratching screeing that Murphy imitated vocally. He cleared his throat and tapped the sharpener three times.
“Fine,” he replied. “Yours?”
Moore didn’t answer immediately. He blew gently on the tip of his hook and placed it in the exact spot on the table it had previously been. Lowering his head close to the surface he peered with one eye at the blade of his boning knife. He considered the benefits of investing in a jeweller’s magnifying loupe. Once the thought had entered his head he was unsure as to why he hadn’t thought of it before. With close magnification, perhaps 30x would suffice, he would be able to exactly asses the suitability of his tools. The perfection of his blade would be beyond his ability to achieve merely with the naked eye, and the best possible without the impractical employment of an electron microscope.
“Yes,” he replied. “Fine.”
In silence they took up tools and began the day’s work; separating chuck from rib, brisket from shank, and loin from flank. They took care to ensure perfect cuts every time, with minimal damage to connective tissue, and smooth cleaving through flesh and bone. Whole beef enters their chamber and leaves as skilfully boned cuts to be shipped to butchers across the country. Moore and Murphy can each cleanly bone hundreds of cows a day.
The hook is held in the left hand, and is used to control and manipulate the position of the meat, while the knife is of course used to separate the various cuts according to the familiarly established beef chart.
“I had another argument with my wife yesterday,” said Murphy.
“Oh no, really?” enquired his knife.
“Yes,” replied Murphy. “If I’m being honest to myself I can’t really see us lasting much longer. Our youngest is going away to university next year, and once she’s gone I imagine we’ll separate.”
“You feel like you’re just staying together for the kids, and once they’ve all left home there’ll be nothing left to keep you together,” summarised the knife.
“Exactly,” said Murphy. “We don’t talk much anymore, I don’t think she feels much love for me, and I hate to say it, but I don’t know if I love her anymore.”
“Well, your daughter is staying at home for another year,” began the knife. “And a year is a long time. Don’t think I’m just offering platitudes, but who knows what could happen between now and then. Think about it; do you want to save your marriage?”
“Of course I do,” said Murphy.
“Why?” demanded the knife.
“We’ve between together so long,” said Murphy. “I don’t know how I would cope without her.”
“Is that it?” asked the knife. “You don’t want to lose her because you’re worried about washing your own clothes and watching TV alone?”
“No of course not,” protested Murphy. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then what?” the knife said resolutely.
“I mean I,” stammered Murphy. “I mean I still love her.”
“Then tell her,” insisted the knife. “When was the last time you told her you love her?”
“I can’t remember.”
Every word spoken filled the hard tiled chamber with repetitions of itself as it bounced from wall to floor to ceiling. As Murphy’s last word echoed and then died, silence returned to the room. The gentle and professional slicing of meat caused sounds barely audible to all but the most attentive listener. And so Murphy and Moore continued as the morning progressed.
“Yesterday was the nine month anniversary,” said Moore. “I haven’t had a drink for two hundred and seventy-five days exactly.”
“That’s fantastic,” congratulated his boning hook.
“Thank you,” beamed Moore. “I am feeling rather proud of myself.”
“So, how did you celebrate this momentous occasion?” chimed the hook. “Not with a drink I hope?”
“I wish,” chuckled Moore. “I made a flask of tea and went trekking in the fells.”
“Alone?” inquired the hook.
“No, I went with the fell walking society,” Moore said. “You should join us some time.”
“Maybe,” said the hook. “I’m not sure if it’s my sort of thing really.”
“Nonsense,” insisted Moore. “It’s invigorating. You should bring your wife. It might help you find some common ground and perhaps reconcile your differences.”
“I’ll consider it,” said the hook.
The conversation was interrupted by the siren indicating the abattoir’s lunch break. In silence Murphy and Moore downed tools - Moore with practised precision and Murphy quickly and casually - and moved into the next room. They removed their hair nets, shoe covers and aprons and scrubbed their hands with soap and water. During their dinner hour they sat together and ate.
“So,” said Murphy, halfway through a plate of chips.
“So,” said Moore later, over an empty plate.
And together they returned to their work places, donning their hygienic hair nets and aprons, picking up their tools and preparing for the afternoon’s toil.
“Murphy,” said Moore. “How was your lunch?”
“Fine,” said Murphy. “Yours?”
“Yes,” said Moore. “Fine.”

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I was at  work the other day (as I often am, what with it being a day job). For the sake of argument (it's too early in the morning for arguing) let's say it was Thursday and be done with it. So I was at  work the other day, where I was stacking shelves, moving stock, answering the same customer questions over and over, just generally doing the things that most writers really do instead of writing. It was a day like any other and I had woken up in not so great a mood and descended into full-on minor irritability as the morning progressed.  I was quiet, surly, grumpy, short-tempered, passive-aggressive, all that shit. Then at about 1.30pm just before lunch time I bent  down to pick up some small boxes which were sitting on the floor. Something happened which changed everything.

A sound. A terrible destructive sound. A rip in the fabric of time and space. A tear right up the arse of my trousers, when all morning I had been quiet and grumpy and therefore ill equipt to deal with such a catastrophe. So do you know what I did, how I reacted? That's OK cos I'm about to tell you. I burst out laughing. It immediately cheered me up. It was a spectacular demonstration of how petty my little mood was and how silly I was being in taking myself so seriously. An eye opener, a consciousness raiser, a religious and holy thing. Get it, holey. The air rushed in through the hole, or out through the hole, I'm not sure. Either way I felt a breeze and got a taste of that freedom called kilt. Glorious.

A bit of trouser triage, triarse if you will - a few moments alone in a toilet cubicle with a stapler and my modesty was hidden and my freedom was once again shackled. And now that I need to buy some new trousers I will be stocking up on skirts and kilts. And stocking up on stockings. Actually no, no stockings cos that's just more restrictive clothing. Plus I think my leg hair would look nasty squashed against my flesh and viewed through a thin denier, don't you?

The trouser tearing incident seems to happen every six months or so to someone at work, and this is the first time that someone was me. It's a milestone, and it was timely too. It cheered me up no end, being so unexpected and ridiculous. And no-one was around to see it so I was not captured for eternity on video to be laughed at. No, I have captured it for eternity willingly in words. Here.

I can't think of a way to end this blog post so here it comes abruptl-

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I nearly wrote a joke in the shower this morning. It goes something like this (Imagine I am speaking to a crowd, perhaps on television or giving a speech at a wedding): "I've been told I'm not allowed to mention the C-word. It's a word that hates women. And the poor. And the unmarried, and foreigners, asylum-seekers, the NHS, the disabled... Yes, I've been told I can't mention the Conservatives." Hilarious, eh. Actually, it wasn't this morning, it was yesterday. I apologise for misleading the public.

In other comedy news I've spotted a new trend. It's jokes about South African pronunciation. First, on BBC Four's 'Boffins' episode of Some People Telling Jokes there was "Why did the South African in Greece put on weight? He got feta and feta and feta". Then on Channel 4's new series of 8 Out of 10 Cats does Countdown the first four letters in a word round were R, I, N and T. RINT. Jon Richardson quickly quipped "It's what South African's have to pay or they'll get evicted". Jimmy Carr marveled at the joke's ability to get us all thinking in a South African accent. (Which South African accent that is I don't know. There is not a single British accent, despite what Friends would have us believe, so I don't know, there may not be a single South African accent.)

It only takes two points to plot a straight line, and this straight line tells me that South African accent jokes are the latest hot thing in comedy. I'm looking forward to next month's Edinburgh Fringe, which I'll be experiencing entirely through twitter and podcasts, and all the new South African accent jokes that will surely be making the rounds. In fact I've just been down and put a bet, with Saffer Power* of course, that this year's dumb Joke of the Fringe award will go to a South African accent joke.

I've always been terrible at accents. When attempting them, which I do very rarely, I'm never sure what garbled mess will fall out of my gob. I can't even do an impression of my own Lancashire accent. I can say one word in a Welsh accident, which coincidentally is 'vowel' which I picked up from watching a Welsh contestant on Countdown years ago. (I accidentally wrote 'accident' there instead of 'accent', did you notice. It seemed appropriate so I kept it in.) I do a perfect impression of a Northern Irish person saying 'never' after seeing Ian Paisley ranting on telly. My Northern Irish in-laws dispute the quality of my Northern Irish impression, but I've heard their English one so they can't talk... At least not with an English accent.

In much the same way as saying the words 'beer can' induces a serviceable approximation of a Jamaican saying 'bacon', yelling the name of the actor Bill Nighy produces a more than passing homophone of a Northern Irish person impolitely announcing to the waiter that it is time to pay for the meal. Add to this my new-found ability to say 'rent' and 'fatter' in South African and you have my unabridged range of accents. Might not be much, but it's more than Les Dennis had.

*Like Paddy Power, you know, the bookies. I was going to make the joke Saffer Strength to keep the alliteration, but thought it too far from the source material. Saffer is someone from South Africa. I hope this is a relatively friendly casual term, but if not I apologise.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Corrie Rap

Now that all London-bred rappers are named after characters from EastEnders – Dot Rotten, The Mitchell Brothers, MC Wellard, Ian Beale-2-Real, Gobbie Jackson, B-Yanka & R'Kay, Lil Mo', LP Moon, Phat Butcher, and Pauline Fuckin' Fowler, to name but a few of the most popular – I think it's about time the North West redressed the balance.

We've got our own hugely popular and influential soap-opera, Coronation Street, but where are the super cool young rap stars named after Corrie characters? Manchester-based lyricists and performers of the Rap, I implore you, do not be intimidated by the Southerners with their grime and whatnot. Oh, it's grim up North, is it? Have you ever seen EastEnders? Not exactly a laugh a minute is it? I digress.

What follows is what I hope will become a valuable resource for Manchester rappers in need of a hip street name, all of them with a Corrie twist:

  • Emily Bash-Hop – for rappers combining Jamaican Dancehall sounds with the hip hop, and chintz.
  • Queera Duckworth – for rappers looking to cash in on the latest lazy-journalist-scum label of Gay Rap.
  • Norris Soul – for soul singers combining hip hop beats with petty gossip, interference and shit-stirring.
  • Ice-T Barlow – for rappers who know the real Ice-T was also called Tracy.
  • Ena Sharpest – for rappers who like it old school.
  • Dred Elliot – good one for horrorcore/acid rappers cos it's well scary and has a reference to a butcher... called Fred.
  • LP Tanner – kind of the same joke as LP Moon, apart from with Elsie instead of Alfie.
  • Blanche – just because.
  • Roy Crabber – for the proficient scratch DJ with a side-parting, an apron, a train set and a trans wife.
  • David Platt-a-tat-tat – for rappers with barely concealed psychopathy who enjoy putting childish gun sounds into their verses.
  • Gail Platt-a-tat-tat – for rappers who enjoy the same rubbish joke twice, but look kind of like a disappointed worm.*
  • Eileen Grimeshaw – for the rapper that knows what Grime actually is.
  • Bet Lynch – for rappers with a sick sense of humour and a perverse desire to recreate the cover of the KMD album Bl_ck B_st_rds.
  • Betty's Hot-Drop – for rappers who like beats that build up, pause, then explode dynamically yet predictably, and also enjoy traditional Lancashire grub.

That's it. That's all I've got. Feel free to suggest any alternatives/improvements. And together we can make Manchester hip-hop as popular, insular and self-referential as London hip-hop.

*the 'disappointed worm' bit was nicked from a ten-year old Charlie Brooker joke I have stored in the back of my mind. Soz.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I just sat down to write this and the first thing I did before my fingers touched the keyboard was let out a massive sigh. I'm back here on the ol' blog for lack of movement in the novel. Stuck at about the halfway point with the feeling of, well of being stuck. Distracted myself by deciding I would be better of writing a sci-fi comic/novel/recipe book and trying to fund production of it through kickstarter. Drew some characters. Spent some time vaguely thinking about a plot. There's the nugget of a good idea in there somewhere but instead I have, wisely I think, deposited on the 'LATER' pile.

I put the finishing touches on a few paintings, hung them on the wall, photographed some of them. Slightly updated my Saatchi Online profile but never got around to finishing it. It's a bit of a mess here and there. Even put a couple of prices on a couple of works. I really need to get better photos of the paintings, but I'll probably never be satisfied. Having colour vision deficiency doesn't help when trying to take an accurate photograph of a multi-coloured painting. Also discovered that my scanner makes really shitty 'hi-res' pictures.

Being doing loads of 'research' towards the novel. That mainly involves reading about Mongolia, Japan, wrestling, Kurt Vonnegut, science fiction, and anything else that temporarily wrests control of my attention. Sometimes I watch a documentary about art. Often times I stare out of the window, at a blank piece of paper, or my ears stare at music or comedy podcasts. After all that I look down at a no-longer blank piece of paper. It now has some doodles of an alien in a hat that looks like an evil Lumpy Space Princess with Predator's mouth. And a sort of squiggly line that could be a vine or a strand of DNA, or it could just be a line. A squiggly one. Depends how you look at it really.

What I'm doing here is just trying to clear the cobwebs from the writing quarter of my brain. They have settled, and around the edges can be seen little spidery egg-sacks. It doesn't look good. If by writing this piece of nothing I can edge back on course to starting the second half of my novel, then you know, just 'if'. I lost my train of though halfway through that last sentence. Oh god, it's not looking good. I'm going for a nap cos I'm a boring cunt. A sleepy one.

The Architecture Party

The Architecture Party. They sat and stood and moved about yar-yarring and clinking and drinking, congratulating each other on their collaborative arrangement of glass and concrete and steel. He peered in through the floor-to-ceiling plate glass window, in his pocket a crumpled drawing of his unbuilt vision for the future of the city's skyline. Their commission won and constructed; his dreams undone, destroyed. “I'll take my Mega Awesome Tree-house Castle elsewhere,” he shouted and walked away.

That was a short story which originally appeared online at Paragraph Planet (May 30th 2013), a fantastic website which features a never-ending daily string of original 75-word stories.

The title was inspired by a hand-written inscription inside the front cover of a second-hand book called Bible Road, Signs of Faith in the American Landscape. It reads, "To Roger & Sue. With thanks for a terrific architecture party! July 2009." 

Are you Roger or Sue, so quick to give away your gift, or the unnamed scribbler? Perhaps you'd like to get in touch with more information about exactly what your 'architecture party' entails. How does it feel to find out in this unlikely and roundabout way that Roger and Sue hated your stupid book of photos of religious signs in America, and couldn't give it to charity quick enough?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

4 Reasons to Pledge to the 'Being Frank' Kickstarter

I hate to say it, it pains me and torments me, but I bet there are some people out there for whom Frank Sidebottom remains a secret. These poor hypotheticals have never been entertained by his uniquely universal form of obsessively local humour; have never goggled at his orbed cartoonhead with parted crimson lips and dilated blue eyeballs flattened against its non-Euclidean dome; have never succumbed to the childish glee he exuded and still exudes through his every creative act. I pity those poor poor peoples.

Sadly Frank or more truthfully, to step outside of suspended disbelief for one moment, Chris Sievey the man fundamental to the fun and the face, passed away in 2010. But now his legacy is being documented in documentary by film-maker Steve Sullivan who once worked with Frank on the short Magical Timperley Tour. Steve is canvassing for funds on KickStarter and, fantastic news, has just reached the first phase target of £20,000. This is enough to fund the filming of a raft of exciting interviews with people related to the Frank Sidebottom story. But this is just the first step. Fund-raising continues, and further funds will go towards acquiring the rights to some or all of Frank's many wonderful and obscure television appearances including Match of the Day.

You should donate (by clicking HERE), and here are some reasons why; why Frank matters, why his legacy should be remembered and why we should help those poor poor people who don't know and love him.

4. His Music

I suppose Frank Sidebottom is chiefly a musician. A musical act. The character started off as an obsessive fan of Chris Sievey's band The Freshies, but took over and eclipsed with his own musical career. His range is surprisingly wide ( >>>spotify links>>> ): cute (Zoo Scrapbook), self-aware (Airplay) footbally (The Robins Aren't Bobbins), political (I Said, 'Hey You, Riot Policeman'), historical (Mr. Custard You're A Fool), sciencey-fictiony (Space is Ace), and even beautiful (Electricity). Then of course there is all the cover versions, wave after wave of popular hit usually with a key word in the title replaced with a reference to Timperley. Just listen. They are hilarious, catchy, masterful.

3. His Comedy

But then again perhaps he is chiefly a comedian. After all his act consisted of long periods of bumbling tomfoolery, tombola-ry, and jokery. Stewart Lee described him as an 'alternative Alternative comedian'. He was an amateur child in the body of a professional man putting on the act of a semi-professional entertainer man-child. Or something like that. And he did a bloody good job of it to.

He would chat away to himself, his audience, his band, his guests, but mostly to Little Frank, the tiny replica of himself with the flimsy cardboard body. Everything about the act was weird weird weird, but it was accessible to children and adults alike. One of my firm Frank favourites was the late-night test card he did for Channel M. It was seventy minutes of improvised nonsense which was played on a loop throughout the night on Manchester's now-defunct local TV channel. It's HERE on YouTube. Watch it, please. (“You shouldn't be watching this, it's only a test card. It's not viewing entertainment.”)

2. His Art

His head is a work of art. His album covers are art. The thousands and billions of felt-tip pen drawings he made are art. Comics he drew. The 1980s computer game he programmed! His animation. His websites, podcasts, radio shows, MySpace page, TV programmes... all of that stuff. One giant body of creativity, of art, of what Frank Zappa called the 'project/object' – an inter-connected lifetime of worked linked by themes, references and jokes.

He used to sell his drawings on eBay, and god I wish I'd bought one. A self portrait of Frank as Freddy Mercury, or Little Frank as a spaceman. After Chris was diagnosed with cancer he put on eBay a portrait of a hairless post-chemotherapy Frank. Proper beautiful art, like.

1. His Collection

Oh, his collection! How I want to dive into it (carefully!) and swim through the oceans of oddities! The toys and the records, all of which reflect his own tastes in quaint sci-fi, puppets, comics, toys and Paul McCartney. I believe there is talks of preserving the collection as some sort of publicly accessible archive, and I hope to Little Frank that this is true. I actually once had a dream that I had the money to fund this, and what a beautiful dream it was. And I have a waking dream of my own obsessions one day manifesting themselves as a large collection of silly stuff filling my house. How pleased my wife would be live amongst myriad wrestling memorabilia, octopus stuff, crazy religious pamphlets, postcards of Osaka, and drawings and sketches of this and that! You know she would, she really would!

In Conclusion

That is it, four reasons why Frank is really great. And all these and more will, I'm sure, be documented in the documentary Being Frank. The more the raise the more we will get to see and hear. So come on people, lets get to it. Spread the word, to Frankophiles and Frankophobes alike, and don't forget to donate.

(Also, come to the unveiling of the Frank Sidebottom statue in Timperley at 11.37am on 23rd June 2013!)